Can Xi Jinping Turn China’s Economy Around?

A ChinaFile Conversation

Arthur R. Kroeber, George Chen & more via ChinaFile Conversation

The really vexing question is whether the government has the intention and the political clout to get the economy back on a sustainable track. Beijing can probably keep the economy growing by at least 6% through next year, but the quality of that growth is poor, depending as it does on rising leverage and state-driven infrastructure spending. Private investment—the key to sustained productivity-driven growth—continues to decelerate. This is both because of the end of China’s long housing boom and of the financial repression that made infrastructure investment artificially cheap; and because the government has been slow to implement its promise to deregulate and open up more sectors of the...

Wilson Center

China’s Shift From Coal to Hydro Comes at a Heavy Price

via chinadialogue

As outlined in China’s national climate plan, submitted to the United Nations last month, the country’s aim to peak greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 or sooner will rely heavily on a shift from coal to use of non-fossil fuels.To many, that would seem a clear win for the environment in coastal megacities and mining areas, where air, water, and soil pollution are a potent toxic legacy of China’s long-term addiction to fossil coal.But China’s target to use non-fossil fuel sources for around 20 percent of its primary energy consumption by 2030 will likely prompt a fresh round of dam building in ecologically fragile Tibetan regions of China, particularly in impoverished western areas.Hydropower...

Kevin Frayer—Getty Images

Clickbait Nationalism

Chinese State Media’s Sensational Headlines, Misleading Translations Incite Anger at Japan

via Tea Leaf Nation

On July 16, the lower house of the Japanese Parliament passed a set of new security legislation that would grant Japan limited power to engage in foreign conflicts for the first time since its defeat in World War II. Despite domestic public opposition and doubts from Japanese legal scholars as to whether the legislation is in line with article 9 of Japan’s constitution, in which the country “forever renounce[s] war as a sovereign right,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was able to get enough votes.In China, Japan’s huge neighbor and regional competitor, the new legislation met with a wave of alarm. The memories of Japanese cruelty during World War II still hover over China’s collective...

Brendon Thorne—Getty Images

Tech Takeoff Lifts Drone Industry to New Heights

Cheaper Manufacturing and Smartphone Advances Spurring Investors to Look Skyward

via Caixin

A tech evolution and falling production costs have allowed drones to make the flight off military bases and Hollywood production lots to the hands of ordinary people and government agencies.It has become routine to see these small unmanned aerial vehicles used for amateur photography, rescue efforts, environmental inspection, geographical surveys, and more.{node, 16396}Over about three decades, drones have gone from a cutting-age technology in labs that served military or academic needs to an affordable device equipped with various applications for civilian use. This means that a huge market for civil use of drones is about to soar, and several Chinese companies, including DJI Innovations,...

Alex Wong—Getty Images

A Blind Lawyer vs. Blind Chinese Power

Evan Osnos

In early 2012, Chen Guangcheng, a self-taught lawyer who had been blind since infancy, lived with his wife and two children in the village of Dongshigu, where he’d been raised, on the eastern edge of the North China plain. They were not there by choice. For a little over a decade, Chen had waged a public campaign against corruption, pollution, forced abortion, and other abuses of power. Officials had responded with escalating punishments. After he completed a four-year jail sentence on a charge of “obstructing traffic,” Chen and his family were confined to his ancestral home in a form of undeclared and indefinite house arrest. The local government covered the windows with metal sheeting and...

Petar Kujundzic—Getty Images

How China and the U.S. Will Manage Competition for Influence

Ian Bremmer via Two Way Street

Washington refuses to accept that though the United States is not in decline, its international influence is not what it was. It is unlikely to regain the leverage it once wielded, because China and so many others now have more than enough economic muscle and political self-confidence to resist U.S. plans and demands, even if they can’t directly challenge U.S. pre-eminence. Until U.S. officials develop a strategy that accepts and adapts to this reality, Washington will continue the costly foreign policy improvisations of recent years—and its deepest wounds will be self-inflicted.

(AFP/Getty Images)

Taming the Flood

How China’s Leaders “Guide” Public Opinion

David Bandurski

In August 1975, Typhoon Nina, one of the most powerful tropical storms on record, surged inland from the Taiwan Strait, causing floods so catastrophic they overwhelmed dam networks around the city of Zhumadian in China’s Henan province. When Banqiao Dam on the Ru River finally burst, it unleashed a wall of water that rushed downstream, claiming an estimated 230,000 lives. Look back through China’s press at the time, however, and it is as though this unfathomable tragedy never occurred. Not one of China’s official newspapers ever reported the story.The silent horrors of Banqiao are a fitting metaphor for the Chinese Communist Party’s deep fear of tragedy and its destabilizing effects. And...


Recent Stories



Is China’s Reform Era Over and, If So, What’s Next?

Carl Minzner, Jeremy L. Wallace, Taisu Zhang, Kevin Slaten, Fubing Su, Thomas Gold
Fordham Law School professor and regular ChinaFile contributor Carl Minzner says we've arrived at “China After the Reform Era,” a development that’s “not entirely bad” but also has a “dark side.” Minzner’s conclusions, excerpted below, come...



Making Sense of China’s Market Mess

Arthur R. Kroeber
Nearly two years ago China’s Communist Party released a major economic reform blueprint, whose signature phrase was that market forces would be given a “decisive role” in resource allocation. That Third Plenum Decision and other policy...



Hong Kong’s Umbrella Protests Were More Than Just a Student Movement

Samson Yuen, Edmund Cheng
For almost three months in late 2014, what came to be known as the Umbrella Movement amplified Hong Kong’s bitter struggle for the democracy its people were promised when China assumed control of the territory from Britain in 1997. Originally a...

A Partnership with China to Avoid World War

George Soros
International cooperation is in decline both in the political and financial spheres. The U.N. has failed to address any of the major conflicts since the end of the cold war; the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference left a sour aftertaste; the...




Meeting China Halfway

Lyle J. Goldstein
Though a U.S.–China conflict is far from inevitable, major tensions are building in the Asia-Pacific region. These strains are the result of historical enmity, cultural divergence, and deep ideological estrangement, not to mention apprehensions fueled by geopolitical competition and the closely related "security dilemma." Despite worrying signs of intensifying rivalry between Washington and Beijing, few observers have provided concrete paradigms to lead this troubled relationship away from disaster. Meeting China Halfway: How to Defuse the Emerging US-China Rivalry is dramatically different from any other book about U.S.-China relations. Lyle J. Goldstein's explicit focus in almost every chapter is on laying bare both U.S. and Chinese perceptions of where their interests clash and proposing new paths to ease bilateral tensions through compromise. Each chapter contains a “cooperation spiral”―the opposite of an escalation spiral―to illustrate the policy proposals. Goldstein not only parses findings from the latest American scholarship but also breaks new ground by analyzing hundreds of Chinese-language sources, including military publications, never before evaluated by Western experts. Goldstein makes one hundred policy proposals over the course of this book, not because these are the only solutions to arresting the alarming course toward conflict, but rather to inaugurate a genuine debate regarding cooperative policy solutions to the most vexing problems in U.S.-China relations. ―Georgetown University Press {chop}



City of Virtues

Chuck Wooldridge
Throughout Nanjing’s history, writers have claimed that its spectacular landscape of mountains and rivers imbued the city with “royal qi,” making it a place of great political significance. City of Virtues examines the ways a series of visionaries, drawing on past glories of the city, projected their ideologies onto Nanjing as they constructed buildings, performed rituals, and reworked the literary heritage of the city. More than an urban history of Nanjing from the late 18th century until 1911―encompassing the Opium War, the Taiping occupation of the city, the rebuilding of the city by Zeng Guofan, and attempts to establish it as the capital of the Republic of China―this study shows how utopian visions of the cosmos shaped Nanjing’s path through the turbulent 19th century.―University of Washington Press{chop}




Censorship and Conscience

PEN International

In this report, PEN American Center (PEN) examines how foreign authors in particular are navigating the heavily censored Chinese book industry. China is one of the largest book publishing markets in the world, with total revenue projected to exceed $16 billion in 2015 and a...



Revising U.S. Grand Strategy Toward China

Council on Foreign Relations

China represents and will remain the most significant competitor to the United States for decades to come. As such, the need for a more coherent U.S. response to increasing Chinese power is long overdue. Because the American effort to “integrate” China into the liberal...

Photography and Video



Small Part, Big Screen

Gilles Sabrié
Every morning outside the imposing gate of the Beijing Film Studio, a throng gathers to try to find a way inside. These aren’t fans, exactly. Look at their faces, the practiced way they crane their necks or square their shoulders when the man with...

ChinaFile Presents



Weighing Mao’s Legacy in China Today

Roderick MacFarquhar, Susan Shirk, Orville Schell, Andrew G. Walder
At the May 21 Asia Society event ChinaFile Presents: Does Xi Jinping Represent a Return to the Politics of the Mao Era?, a discussion of author Andrew Walder’s new book, China Under Mao: A Revolution Derailed, sparked a lively debate about the...



Evan Osnos: China’s ‘Age of Ambition’

Evan Osnos, Orville Schell
New Yorker correspondent Evan Osnos discusses his new book, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China, with Orville Schell, Arthur Ross Director of Asia Society's Center on U.S.-China Relations.{chop} ...



On “Strange Stones,” a Discussion with Peter Hessler

Peter Hessler, Michael Meyer, Susan Jakes
On May 21st at the Asia Society in New York City, Peter Hessler, author of the recently published Strange Stones: Dispatches from East and West, discussed his book and a decade of writing about China and elsewhere with author, Michael Meyer and...

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