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Orville Schell

Orville Schell

Publisher

Orville Schell is the Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society in New York. He is a former professor and Dean at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. 

Schell is the author of fifteen books, ten of them about China, and a contributor to numerous edited volumes. His most recent books are Wealth and Power: China's Long March to the Twenty-first Century (Random House, 2013) (co-authored with John Delury), Virtual Tibet: Searching for Shangri-La from the Himalayas to Hollywood (Metropolitan Books, 2000), The China Reader: The Reform Years (Vintage, 1998), and Mandate of Heaven: The Legacy of Tiananmen Square and the Next Generation of China's Leaders (Simon & Schuster, 1994). He is also a contributor to such magazines as The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Granta, Wired, Newsweek, Mother Jones, The China Quarterly, and The New York Review of Books.

Schell graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard University in Far Eastern History, was an exchange student at National Taiwan University in the 1960s, and earned a Ph.D. (Abd) at the University of California, Berkeley in Chinese History. He worked for the Ford Foundation in Indonesia, covered the war in Indochina as a journalist, and has traveled widely in China since the mid-1970s.

He is a Fellow at the Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University, a Senior Fellow at the Annenberg School of Communications at USC, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Schell was a Fellow at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and the recipient of many prizes and fellowships, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Overseas Press Club Award, and the Harvard-Stanford Shorenstein Prize in Asian Journalism.

Last Updated: September 14, 2015
Affiliations: 

Asia Society
Weatherhead East Asian Istitute

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Contributions by Orville Schell

Crackdown in China: Worse and Worse

Orville Schell from New York Review of Books
“As a liberal, I no longer feel I have a future in China,” a prominent Chinese think tank head in the process of moving abroad recently lamented in private. Such refrains are all too familiar these days as educated Chinese professionals express...

Media

01.29.16

‘The New Yorker’ on China

Jiayang Fan, Peter Hessler & more
Following is an edited transcript of a live event hosted at Asia Society New York on December 17, 2015, “ChinaFile Presents: The New Yorker On China.” (The full video appears above.) The evening, introduced by Asia Society President Josette Sheeran...

Conversation

01.27.16

Is George Soros Right that China’s Headed for a Hard Landing?

Arthur R. Kroeber, Stephen S. Roach & more
On Tuesday in an article headlined, “Declaring War on China’s Currency? Ha ha,” the People’s Daily attacked billionaire investor George Soros for suggesting he might short the renminbi. The Chinese currency has dropped 5.7 percent since August when...

Media

11.09.15

Can the China Model Succeed?

Daniel A. Bell, Timothy Garton Ash & more
Is this a new model? Is authoritarian capitalism, Leninist capitalism, something that has durability? Have the rules changed about how countries develop? That used to be, remember, that open markets led ineluctably to open societies. How does it...

Media

10.30.15

Xi’s State Visits As Seen on the Cover of ‘China Daily’

Orville Schell
The state visits of Chinese Communist Party General Secretary and President Xi Jinping to Washington, D.C. in September and London last week were both significant milestones in China’s long term “rejuvenation,” a key element in Xi’s vaunted notion...

There is Still Hope for U.S.-China Relations: Schell

Orville Schell, Arthur Ross Director at the Asia Society's Centre on US-China Relation, likens the developments in U.S.-China ties to a "constant ballet" and outlines his expectations for Xi's state visit. ...

Conversation

09.22.15

Xi Jinping’s Message to America

Taisu Zhang, Graham Webster & more
China’s President Xi Jinping addressed an audience of more than 700 American businesspeople in Seattle on Tuesday evening on the first stop on his first state visit to the United States. Regular ChinaFile Contributors who watched the speech offer...

For China, a Plunge and a Reckoning

Orville Schell
Wall Street Journal
Anyone trying to design an event to bring Xi Jinping’s China back to Earth couldn’t have engineered something much more elegant than the turmoil in China’s financial markets and the resulting global aftershocks. The upheaval is traumatic for China’s...

Conversation

08.18.15

How Should the U.S. Conduct the Xi Jinping State Visit?

Evan A. Feigenbaum, Arthur Waldron & more
As tensions increase between China and the United States over the value of the yuan, human rights violations, alleged cyber attacks, and disputed maritime territories, among other issues, how should the Obama administration conduct the upcoming...

Why China’s Sock Market Bubble Was Always Bound to Burst

Orville Schell
Guardian
The sudden collapse of the nation’s share boom left tens of millions of investors in shock. But a massive government intervention to prop up the market has laid bare the contradictions of a capitalist China.

Features

06.16.15

Does Xi Jinping Represent a Return to the Mao Era?

Andrew G. Walder, Roderick MacFarquhar & more
Following is an edited transcript of a live event hosted at Asia Society New York on May 21, 2015, “ChinaFile Presents: Does Xi Jinping Represent a Return to the Politics of the Mao Era?” The evening convened the scholars Roderick MacFarquhar and...

Media

05.26.15

Weighing Mao’s Legacy in China Today

Roderick MacFarquhar, Susan Shirk & more
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...

Two Way Street

05.12.15

Share and Be Nice

Orville Schell from Two Way Street
Having followed the progress of the People’s Republic of China for more than half a century, it is disquieting to now find the atmosphere between Americans and Chinese so stubbornly cool. Indeed, in certain key ways there was a greater sense of...

Features

04.02.15

Frank Talk About Hong Kong’s Future from Margaret Ng

Margaret Ng, Ira Belkin & more
Following is the transcript of a recent ChinaFile Breakfast with Margaret Ng, the former Hong Kong legislator in discussion with Ira Belkin of New York University Law School and Orville Schell, ChinaFile Publisher and Arthur Ross Director of the...

Lee Kuan Yew, the Man Who Remade Asia

Orville Schell
Wall Street Journal
He preached ‘Asian values’ and turned a tiny, poor city-state into an astonishing economic success. Is Lee’s ‘Singapore model’ the future of Asia?

Culture

02.18.15

Cai Guo-Qiang’s Love Affair With Fireworks

Orville Schell
New York City-based artist Cai Guo-Qiang, one of the most celebrated contemporary artists born in China, has become the Godfather of a spectacular new kind of fireworks displays which he calls “explosion events.” Having done large-scale events...

‘China Strikes Back’: An Exchange

Perry Link & Orville Schell from New York Review of Books
Letters in response to: “China Strikes Back!” from the October 23, 2014 issue of The New York Review of Books.To the Editors:In “China Strikes Back” [NYR, October 23], Orville Schell sounds a much-needed wake-up call about China’s recent attitude...

Conversation

11.19.14

Was the U.S.-China Climate Deal Worth the Wait?

Deborah Seligsohn, Orville Schell & more
Last week, Ann Carlson and Alex Wang, environmental experts at UCLA Law School, called the November 12 U.S.-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change "monumental." "No two countries are more important to tackling the problem than the...

Media

10.29.14

A Talking Heads Video: China Strikes Back

Orville Schell
In the first episode of the new VICE News series Talking Heads, Orville Schell, the Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at Asia Society, and publisher of ChinaFile, discusses his New York Review of Books essay, "China...

China Strikes Back!

Orville Schell from New York Review of Books
When Deng Xiaoping arrived at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington in January 1979, his country was just emerging from a long revolutionary deep freeze. No one knew much about this 5-foot-tall Chinese leader. He had suddenly reappeared on the...

Conversation

08.11.14

Simon Leys Remembered

Isabel Hilton, Perry Link & more
Isabel Hilton: When I heard the news of the death of Pierre Ryckmans, better known by his pen name, Simon Leys, I began to hunt in my bookshelves for the now yellowing and grimy copies of Chinese Shadows and The Chairman’s New Clothes: Mao and the...

Conversation

07.17.14

How to Read China’s New Press Restrictions

David Schlesinger, Orville Schell & more
On June 30, China's State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television posted a statement on its website warning Chinese journalists not to share information with their counterparts in the foreign press corps. Most major...

Media

05.15.14

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} ...

Conversation

05.09.14

The China-Vietnam Standoff: How Will It End?

Daniel Kliman, Ely Ratner & more
Daniel Kliman:Five thousand miles from Ukraine, off the coast of Vietnam, China is taking a page from Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s playbook. Beijing’s recent placement of a huge oil drilling rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea leverages...

Conversation

03.19.14

What Should Michelle Obama Accomplish on Her Trip to China?

Orville Schell, Vincent Ni & more
Orville Schell:  Looking at the challenges of rectifying U.S.-China relations and building some semblance of the "new kind of a big power relationship" alluded to by presidents Obama and Xi at Sunnylands last year, will most...

Sinica Podcast

03.07.14

Wealth and Power: Intellectuals in China

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week, Kaiser and Jeremy are joined by David Moser and Orville Schell. While long-time listeners will of course know of David Moser as one of our favorite resident sinologists, if you haven’t also heard of Orville Schell we think you should have...

Conversation

02.05.14

What Should the U.S. Do about China’s Barring Foreign Reporters?

Nicholas Lemann, Michel Hockx & more
Last week, the White House said it was “very disappointed” in China for denying a visa to another journalist working for The New York Times in Beijing, forcing him to leave the country after eight years. What else should the U.S. government...

Conversation

01.06.14

Will Xi Jinping Bring a Positive New Day to China?

Paul Mooney, Andrew J. Nathan & more
Chinese President Xi Jinping, just over a year in office, recently made a rare appearance in public in a Beijing restaurant, buying a cheap lunch and paying for it himself. Shortly thereafter, President Xi delivered a brief televised New Year...

Other

12.23.13

[Transcript] One Year Later, China’s New Leaders

J. Stapleton Roy, Susan Shirk & more
Nearly a year to the day after seven new leaders ascended to their posts on the Standing Committee of China’s Politburo, the Asia Society held a public conversation with The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos; Dr. Susan Shirk of the University of California,...

Conversation

12.07.13

Will China Shut Out the Foreign Press?

Winston Lord, Paul Mooney & more
Some two dozen journalists employed by The New York Times and Bloomberg News have not yet received the visas they need to continue to report and live in China after the end of this year. Without them, they will effectively be expelled from the...

Crackdown in China: Worse and Worse

Orville Schell from New York Review of Books
“As a liberal, I no longer feel I have a future in China,” a prominent Chinese think tank head in the process of moving abroad recently lamented in private. Such refrains are all too familiar these days as educated Chinese professionals express...

Media

01.29.16

‘The New Yorker’ on China

Jiayang Fan, Peter Hessler & more
Following is an edited transcript of a live event hosted at Asia Society New York on December 17, 2015, “ChinaFile Presents: The New Yorker On China.” (The full video appears above.) The evening, introduced by Asia Society President Josette Sheeran...

Conversation

01.27.16

Is George Soros Right that China’s Headed for a Hard Landing?

Arthur R. Kroeber, Stephen S. Roach & more
On Tuesday in an article headlined, “Declaring War on China’s Currency? Ha ha,” the People’s Daily attacked billionaire investor George Soros for suggesting he might short the renminbi. The Chinese currency has dropped 5.7 percent since August when...

Media

11.09.15

Can the China Model Succeed?

Daniel A. Bell, Timothy Garton Ash & more
Is this a new model? Is authoritarian capitalism, Leninist capitalism, something that has durability? Have the rules changed about how countries develop? That used to be, remember, that open markets led ineluctably to open societies. How does it...

Media

10.30.15

Xi’s State Visits As Seen on the Cover of ‘China Daily’

Orville Schell
The state visits of Chinese Communist Party General Secretary and President Xi Jinping to Washington, D.C. in September and London last week were both significant milestones in China’s long term “rejuvenation,” a key element in Xi’s vaunted notion...

Conversation

09.22.15

Xi Jinping’s Message to America

Taisu Zhang, Graham Webster & more
China’s President Xi Jinping addressed an audience of more than 700 American businesspeople in Seattle on Tuesday evening on the first stop on his first state visit to the United States. Regular ChinaFile Contributors who watched the speech offer...

Conversation

08.18.15

How Should the U.S. Conduct the Xi Jinping State Visit?

Evan A. Feigenbaum, Arthur Waldron & more
As tensions increase between China and the United States over the value of the yuan, human rights violations, alleged cyber attacks, and disputed maritime territories, among other issues, how should the Obama administration conduct the upcoming...

Features

06.16.15

Does Xi Jinping Represent a Return to the Mao Era?

Andrew G. Walder, Roderick MacFarquhar & more
Following is an edited transcript of a live event hosted at Asia Society New York on May 21, 2015, “ChinaFile Presents: Does Xi Jinping Represent a Return to the Politics of the Mao Era?” The evening convened the scholars Roderick MacFarquhar and...

Media

05.26.15

Weighing Mao’s Legacy in China Today

Roderick MacFarquhar, Susan Shirk & more
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...

Two Way Street

05.12.15

Share and Be Nice

Orville Schell from Two Way Street
Having followed the progress of the People’s Republic of China for more than half a century, it is disquieting to now find the atmosphere between Americans and Chinese so stubbornly cool. Indeed, in certain key ways there was a greater sense of...

Features

04.02.15

Frank Talk About Hong Kong’s Future from Margaret Ng

Margaret Ng, Ira Belkin & more
Following is the transcript of a recent ChinaFile Breakfast with Margaret Ng, the former Hong Kong legislator in discussion with Ira Belkin of New York University Law School and Orville Schell, ChinaFile Publisher and Arthur Ross Director of the...

Culture

02.18.15

Cai Guo-Qiang’s Love Affair With Fireworks

Orville Schell
New York City-based artist Cai Guo-Qiang, one of the most celebrated contemporary artists born in China, has become the Godfather of a spectacular new kind of fireworks displays which he calls “explosion events.” Having done large-scale events...

‘China Strikes Back’: An Exchange

Perry Link & Orville Schell from New York Review of Books
Letters in response to: “China Strikes Back!” from the October 23, 2014 issue of The New York Review of Books.To the Editors:In “China Strikes Back” [NYR, October 23], Orville Schell sounds a much-needed wake-up call about China’s recent attitude...

Conversation

11.19.14

Was the U.S.-China Climate Deal Worth the Wait?

Deborah Seligsohn, Orville Schell & more
Last week, Ann Carlson and Alex Wang, environmental experts at UCLA Law School, called the November 12 U.S.-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change "monumental." "No two countries are more important to tackling the problem than the...

Media

10.29.14

A Talking Heads Video: China Strikes Back

Orville Schell
In the first episode of the new VICE News series Talking Heads, Orville Schell, the Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at Asia Society, and publisher of ChinaFile, discusses his New York Review of Books essay, "China...

China Strikes Back!

Orville Schell from New York Review of Books
When Deng Xiaoping arrived at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington in January 1979, his country was just emerging from a long revolutionary deep freeze. No one knew much about this 5-foot-tall Chinese leader. He had suddenly reappeared on the...

Conversation

08.11.14

Simon Leys Remembered

Isabel Hilton, Perry Link & more
Isabel Hilton: When I heard the news of the death of Pierre Ryckmans, better known by his pen name, Simon Leys, I began to hunt in my bookshelves for the now yellowing and grimy copies of Chinese Shadows and The Chairman’s New Clothes: Mao and the...

Conversation

07.17.14

How to Read China’s New Press Restrictions

David Schlesinger, Orville Schell & more
On June 30, China's State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television posted a statement on its website warning Chinese journalists not to share information with their counterparts in the foreign press corps. Most major...

Media

05.15.14

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} ...

Conversation

05.09.14

The China-Vietnam Standoff: How Will It End?

Daniel Kliman, Ely Ratner & more
Daniel Kliman:Five thousand miles from Ukraine, off the coast of Vietnam, China is taking a page from Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s playbook. Beijing’s recent placement of a huge oil drilling rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea leverages...

Conversation

03.19.14

What Should Michelle Obama Accomplish on Her Trip to China?

Orville Schell, Vincent Ni & more
Orville Schell:  Looking at the challenges of rectifying U.S.-China relations and building some semblance of the "new kind of a big power relationship" alluded to by presidents Obama and Xi at Sunnylands last year, will most...

Sinica Podcast

03.07.14

Wealth and Power: Intellectuals in China

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week, Kaiser and Jeremy are joined by David Moser and Orville Schell. While long-time listeners will of course know of David Moser as one of our favorite resident sinologists, if you haven’t also heard of Orville Schell we think you should have...

Conversation

02.05.14

What Should the U.S. Do about China’s Barring Foreign Reporters?

Nicholas Lemann, Michel Hockx & more
Last week, the White House said it was “very disappointed” in China for denying a visa to another journalist working for The New York Times in Beijing, forcing him to leave the country after eight years. What else should the U.S. government...

Conversation

01.06.14

Will Xi Jinping Bring a Positive New Day to China?

Paul Mooney, Andrew J. Nathan & more
Chinese President Xi Jinping, just over a year in office, recently made a rare appearance in public in a Beijing restaurant, buying a cheap lunch and paying for it himself. Shortly thereafter, President Xi delivered a brief televised New Year...

Other

12.23.13

[Transcript] One Year Later, China’s New Leaders

J. Stapleton Roy, Susan Shirk & more
Nearly a year to the day after seven new leaders ascended to their posts on the Standing Committee of China’s Politburo, the Asia Society held a public conversation with The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos; Dr. Susan Shirk of the University of California,...

Conversation

12.07.13

Will China Shut Out the Foreign Press?

Winston Lord, Paul Mooney & more
Some two dozen journalists employed by The New York Times and Bloomberg News have not yet received the visas they need to continue to report and live in China after the end of this year. Without them, they will effectively be expelled from the...

Viewpoint

11.18.13

Xi Jinping Refills an Old Prescription

Orville Schell
The reforms called for by the Third Plenum of the Eighteenth Party Congress have been, like so much else in China over the past few decades, part of an ongoing Chinese quest for national unity, wealth, and power. But, for those of us steeped in...

Viewpoint

11.08.13

China, One Year Later

J. Stapleton Roy, Susan Shirk & more
In November 2012, seven men were appointed to the Politburo Standing Committee, China’s supreme governing body. At the time, economic headwinds, nationalist protests, and the Bo Xilai scandal presented huge challenges for the regime. Would the...

Conversation

09.05.13

To Reform or Not Reform?—Echoes of the Late Qing Dynasty

Orville Schell, John Delury & more
Orville Schell:It is true that China is no longer beset by threats of foreign incursion nor is it a laggard in the world of economic development and trade. But being there and being steeped in an atmosphere of seemingly endless political and...

Conversation

08.07.13

What Will Come out of the Communist Party’s Polling the People Online?

David Wertime, Duncan Clark & more
David Wertime:Simon Denyer’s recent article (“In China, Communist Party Takes Unprecedented Step: It Is Listening,” The Washington Post, August 2, 2013) provides a valuable look at some of the ways that Chinese authority mines domestic micro-...

There is Still Hope for U.S.-China Relations: Schell

Orville Schell, Arthur Ross Director at the Asia Society's Centre on US-China Relation, likens the developments in U.S.-China ties to a "constant ballet" and outlines his expectations for Xi's state visit. ...

For China, a Plunge and a Reckoning

Orville Schell
Wall Street Journal
Anyone trying to design an event to bring Xi Jinping’s China back to Earth couldn’t have engineered something much more elegant than the turmoil in China’s financial markets and the resulting global aftershocks. The upheaval is traumatic for China’s...

Why China’s Sock Market Bubble Was Always Bound to Burst

Orville Schell
Guardian
The sudden collapse of the nation’s share boom left tens of millions of investors in shock. But a massive government intervention to prop up the market has laid bare the contradictions of a capitalist China.

Lee Kuan Yew, the Man Who Remade Asia

Orville Schell
Wall Street Journal
He preached ‘Asian values’ and turned a tiny, poor city-state into an astonishing economic success. Is Lee’s ‘Singapore model’ the future of Asia?