The ChinaFile Conversation is a weekly discussion of China news, from a group of the world’s leading China experts.

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11.14.17

Was the Trump-Xi Summit in Beijing a Hit or a Miss?

Isaac Stone Fish, Zha Daojiong & more
On November 8 and 9, Communist Party Secretary Xi Jinping and Donald Trump held their first Beijing-based summit, a year after Trump’s surprise victory and just weeks after the predictable announcement Xi would serve a second term. During the visit...

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11.02.17

Trump Goes to Asia

Ely Ratner, David Dollar & more
Chinese officials like to talk about practicing “win-win” diplomacy. Their American counterparts sometime joke that this means China wins twice. From November 3 to November 14, Donald Trump will visit Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines,...

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10.27.17

What’s the Takeaway from the 19th Party Congress?

Jessica Batke, Peter Mattis & more
The day after the Party Congress ended on October 24, Xi Jinping strode across the stage of the massive Great Hall of the People with the six newly announced members of the 19th Politburo Standing Committee, the body that rules China. What might...

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10.16.17

What to Watch at China’s Party Congress

Ho-fung Hung, Taisu Zhang & more
The Chinese Communist Party’s 19th Party Congress, a hugely important political meeting usually held once every five years, will begin on October 18 in Beijing. Like many events involving China’s ruling party, the most important decisions and...

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10.06.17

Is China the Future of Bitcoin, or Its Past?

Andrew Collier, Isaac Mao & more
China often dominates the market for Bitcoin, a virtual currency managed by a decentralized network of computers: at points over the last few years, China may have accounted for more than 75 percent of Bitcoin trading. Energy subsidies there make it...

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09.27.17

How are NGOs in China Faring under the New Law?

Holly Snape, Anthony Saich & more
In September 2016, Beijing implemented a new law governing charities, which changed the ways domestic charitable organizations can register and fundraise. Then in January 2017, Beijing began implementation of a new law on the management of foreign...

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09.21.17

What Will China Do if the U.S. Attacks North Korea?

Shen Dingli, Bonnie S. Glaser & more
During a speech at the United Nations General Assembly on September 19, U.S. President Donald Trump warned that if North Korea threatened the United States or its allies, he would “totally destroy” the nation. As tensions continue to rise between...

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09.15.17

Bannon Says the U.S. Is at ‘Economic War with China.’ Is He Right?

Paul Haenle, Jacqueline N. Deal & more
Steve Bannon, whose controversial views on China remain hugely influential in the White House, is visiting Hong Kong this week to speak at a China investment conference. In August, before he left his White House position as chief strategist, Bannon...

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09.06.17

China’s Communist Party Is About to Meet. Here’s What You Should Know.

Matthias Stepan, Victor Shih & more
The Chinese Communist Party will hold its 19th Party Congress on October 18, marking the end of the first term of General Secretary Xi Jinping. In a leadership reshuffle, Xi is expected to promote allies to the Party’s key decision-making body, the...

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08.29.17

Is the United States Still the Predominant Power in the Pacific?

Dennis J. Blasko, James Holmes & more
In late August, a U.S. destroyer collided with an oil tanker—the fourth such accident for the U.S. Navy in Asia since January. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has increased troop commitments in Afghanistan, threatened to strike North Korea with “...

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08.21.17

Should Publications Compromise to Remain in China?

Margaret Lewis, Andrew J. Nathan & more
The prestigious “China Quarterly will continue to publish articles that make it through our rigorous double-blind peer review regardless of topic or sensitivity,” wrote editor Tim Pringle on Monday after days of intense criticism of the brief-lived...

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08.17.17

Political Prisoners in Hong Kong

Jerome A. Cohen, Alvin Y.H. Cheung & more
On August 17, a Hong Kong appeals court sentenced student democracy activists Joshua Wong, Alex Chow, and Nathan Law to six to eight months imprisonment. The three had earlier been convicted of crimes related to unlawful assembly during a...

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08.16.17

Trump Says He Wants Fairer Trade with China. Will His Latest Move Work?

Wendy Cutler, Susan Shirk & more
On Monday, Donald Trump returned to Washington from his summer vacation for the public signing of an executive order requesting that the United States Trade Representative begin a review to determine wether the U.S. should investigate China over...

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08.10.17

Should China Support the U.S. in a War with North Korea?

Ryan Hass, Susan Shirk & more
On August 9, U.S. President Donald Trump warned North Korea that if it does not stop threatening the United States, it will be “met with fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.” Just hours later, the...

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08.08.17

Why Are China and India in a Border Standoff?

Anubhav Gupta, Manoj Joshi & more
China and India are engaged in a new border standoff high in the Himalayas. Tensions between the world’s two most populous nations have been simmering for at least two years and began to roil after Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first visit to India...

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08.03.17

As China Reins in Capital, What Next for Global Trade?

Yu Zhou & Peter Knaack
China’s Communist Party and its leader, Xi Jinping, are tightening controls on overseas spending by the country’s biggest companies and their highly visible billionaire CEOs. The Wall Street Journal reported recently that Xi personally signed off on...

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07.20.17

Should the U.S. Play Hardball with China on Trade?

Tom Hoffecker, Duncan Innes-Ker & more
Last week, United States President Donald Trump suggested that he is considering leveraging tariffs on Chinese steel imports. Trump’s aggressive posture has left diplomatic experts uneasy amid an already divided U.S. diplomatic house in Beijing, and...

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07.14.17

Liu Xiaobo, 1955-2017

Perry Link, Thomas Kellogg & more
When news this morning reached us that Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo had died, we invited all past contributors to the ChinaFile Conversation to reflect on his life and on his death. Liu died, still in state-custody, eight years into his 11-...

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06.30.17

What Does Xi Jinping Intend for Hong Kong?

Alvin Y.H. Cheung, Kevin Carrico & more
Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping visited Hong Kong on Thursday to mark the 20th anniversary of the July 1, 1997 return of the territory to China from the United Kingdom. Since the handover, many Hong Kongers have chafed under...

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06.23.17

How Big a Deal Are Guo Wengui’s Allegations?

Pamela Kyle Crossley, Taisu Zhang & more
In a months-long barrage of mudslinging via Twitter and theatrical online videos, Chinese real estate billionaire Guo Wengui has alleged corruption at the highest levels in the Chinese Communist Party—some of which appear to be accurate, some as yet...

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06.14.17

The World Is Deserting Taiwan. How Should the U.S. Respond?

Richard Bernstein, J. Michael Cole & more
On June 12, the small Central American nation of Panama announced it was severing diplomatic ties with Taiwan so that it could establish relations with the People’s Republic of China. Now, only 19 countries and the Vatican recognize Taiwan. Why did...

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06.14.17

Do Street Protests Work in China?

Mara Hvistendahl, Benjamin L. Read & more
A rare street protest broke out in China’s biggest city and commercial capital on Saturday night, June 10, when residents of Shanghai marched against new housing rules that some residents claimed have caused the value of their property to plummet...

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06.09.17

Australia Is Debating Chinese Influence. Should the U.S. Do the Same?

Bruce Jacobs, Kerry Brown & more
“The Chinese Communist Party is waging a covert campaign of influence in Australia,” went the claim in the newspaper The Age, in a series of articles exploring China’s hard and soft power “Down Under.” The articles set off a domestic debate about...

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06.01.17

Can China Supplant the U.S. in Europe?

Rogier Creemers, Zha Daojiong & more
From May 31 to June 2, Premier Li Keqiang will visit Germany and Belgium, to “further deepen and enrich China’s relations with the European Union (EU) at a time of increasing global uncertainty,” according to an article in China’s state newswire...

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05.25.17

Can Free Speech on American Campuses Withstand Chinese Nationalism?

Yifu Dong, Edward Friedman & more
Earlier this week, Kunming native Yang Shuping, a student at the University of Maryland, gave a commencement speech extolling the “fresh air” and “free speech” she experienced while studying in the United States. Video of her speech spread on the...

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05.16.17

How Big a Deal is the New U.S.-China Trade Deal?

Wendy Cutler, Zha Daojiong & more
Last week, the United States and China announced a new trade deal on the eve of China launching a sweeping conference to promote its One Belt, One Road development and infrastructure investment initiative. How good are the terms of the Washington-...

Conversation

05.09.17

Can China’s Approach to Internet Control Spread around the World?

Anne Henochowicz, Rogier Creemers & more
Earlier this month, citing concerns over “cyber sovereignty,” China’s Internet regulators announced new restrictions on the country’s already tightly controlled Internet—further curbing online news reporting and putting Party-appointed editors in...

Conversation

04.25.17

What's the Best Way for Trump to Persuade China to Up the Pressure on North Korea?

Michael Swaine, Bruce Klingner & more
China’s President Xi Jinping called U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday morning urging American restraint in reaction to North Korea. Tensions between the United States and North Korea have risen to new levels ever since Pyongyang’s April 16...

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04.14.17

Ivanka: A ChinaFile Conversation

Rebecca E. Karl, Yishu Mao & more
At a time of strained and erratic relations between the U.S. and China, Ivanka Trump, the President’s daughter and, more recently, a member of his administration, has emerged as an unlikely but singularly potent emissary, not to just to China’s...

Conversation

04.04.17

What Should We Expect When Trump and Xi Meet in Florida?

David Dollar, Jeremy Goldkorn & more
On April 6-7, U.S. President Donald Trump will host Xi Jinping in their first face-to-face meeting when China’s President arrives at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. The meeting comes early in Trump’s presidency, after a campaign in which he frequently...

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03.31.17

Is Hong Kong on Its Way to Becoming Just Another City in the P.R.C.?

Antony Dapiran, Suzanne Sataline & more
On March 26, the roughly 1,200-person Hong Kong Election Committee chose Carrie Lam as chief executive—Hong Kong’s fourth leader since the United Kingdom returned the territory to Chinese rule in 1997. Unpopular with Hong Kong’s pro-democracy...

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03.24.17

Does Tillerson’s Asia Visit Signal a New Era in U.S.-China Relations?

Scott Kennedy & Shen Dingli
On March 19, during his first trip to Asia as U.S. Secretary of State, and amidst rising tensions with North Korea, Rex Tillerson met with China’s Communist Party Secretary Xi Jinping. The day before, Tillerson released a statement describing the...

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03.22.17

China Writers Remember Robert Silvers

Ian Johnson, Orville Schell & more
Robert Silvers died on Monday, March 20, after serving as The New York Review of Books Editor since 1963. Over almost six decades, Silvers cultivated one of the most interesting, reflective, and lustrous stables of China writers in the world, some...

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03.15.17

How Does China’s Imperial Past Shape Its Foreign Policy Today?

Pamela Kyle Crossley, Jeremiah Jenne & more
Throughout most of history China dominated Asia, up until what many Chinese refer to as the “century of humiliation”—when Japan and Western powers invaded or otherwise interfered between 1839 and 1949. Now, with China on the rise again, are Beijing’...

Conversation

03.09.17

Is THAAD the Start of a U.S.-China Arms Race?

Isaac Stone Fish, Graham Webster & more
In late February, U.S. President Donald Trump called for adding $54 billion to the U.S. military budget—an increase of roughly 10 percent. And in early March, despite outcry from Beijing, the United States began deploying the Terminal High-Altitude...

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02.28.17

Is The Trump Era Really The Xi Era?

Paul Haenle, Shen Dingli & more
On February 17, China’s Communist Party Chairman Xi Jinping announced what he called the “two guidances.” Beijing should now “guide the international community to jointly build a more just and reasonably new world order,” Xi said in an important...

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02.23.17

Can China Expand its Beachhead in Hollywood?

Stanley Rosen, Ying Zhu & more
With The Great Wall, a classic army vs. monsters tale, director Zhang Yimou has brought America the most expensive Chinese film ever created. The movie may be backed by a Hollywood studio and it may star no less an American icon than Matt Damon, and...

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02.16.17

Can China Become a Leader of Innovation?

Jost Wübbeke, Yu Zhou & more
China’s ambitious high-tech strategy is raising alarm in industrialized nations. From American and South Korean chipmakers to German car and machine manufacturers, some industry leaders expect the imminent arrival of strong Chinese competitors. Does...

Conversation

02.10.17

Did Xi Just Outmaneuver Trump?

M. Taylor Fravel, Isaac Stone Fish & more
On the evening of February 9, U.S. President Donald Trump had what the White House described in a terse readout as a “lengthy” and “cordial” telephone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping. That alone is newsworthy, as the...

Conversation

02.05.17

Is The White House Beginning to Resemble Zhongnanhai?

Melissa Chan & Yifu Dong
Since Donald Trump was sworn into office on January 20, he has lied repeatedly about the size of the crowd at his inauguration, embraced xenophobic policies, and declareda “running war with the media.” The White House has frozen out the...

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01.27.17

TPP is Dead, Now What?

David Dollar, Charlene Barshefsky & more
On Monday, on his first full working day as president, Donald Trump officially withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-nation trade pact that did not include China and did not have the votes to...

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01.18.17

U.S.-China Flashpoints in the Age of Trump

Zha Daojiong, Isaac Stone Fish & more
Over the past year, Donald Trump has vowed to “utterly destroy” ISIS, considered lifting sanctions on Russia, promised to cancel the Paris climate agreement and “dismantle” the Iran nuclear deal. But many of his most inflammatory statements are...

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01.10.17

Can Beijing’s Ivory Ban Save the Elephants?

Eric Olander, Peter J. Li & more
On New Year’s Eve, Beijing announced it will ban the ivory trade in China, potentially shutting down the world’s biggest ivory market. Why did Beijing decide to curb the ivory trade? Will it put enough muscle behind it to enforce the decision? What...

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12.30.16

Rex Tillerson at State: What Will He Mean for U.S.-China Relations?

Barbara A. Finamore, Shen Dingli & more
On December 13, President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team announced the selection of ExxonMobil Chief Executive Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. We asked ChinaFile contributors to respond to the choice with a specific focus on how Tillerson...

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12.21.16

Did Oslo Kowtow to Beijing?

Isaac Stone Fish, Stein Ringen & more
In 2010, the Oslo-appointed Nobel Peace Prize committee bestowed the honor on imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. Furious with the selection of Liu, a human rights advocate, who is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence on spurious...

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12.05.16

Should Washington Recalibrate Relations with Taipei?

Yu-Jie Chen, J. Michael Cole & more
On Friday, Donald Trump shocked the China-watching world when news broke that he had spoken on the phone to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. The call was remarkable not for its content—Tsai’s office said she told Trump she hoped the United States “...

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11.28.16

Should Facebook Self-Censor to Enter the Chinese Market?

Kaiser Kuo, Clay Shirky & more
The social network Facebook has reportedly developed software to suppress posts from users’ feeds in targeted geographic areas, a feature created to help the giant social media network gain access to China, where it is blocked. Facebook Chief...

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11.21.16

Will China Take the Lead on Climate Change?

Sam Geall, Barbara A. Finamore & more
At a time when the world is looking to China and the United States, the leading emitters of greenhouse gasses, to cooperate under the terms of the Paris Climate Change Agreement of 2015, will China now take the lead in fighting climate change?

Conversation

11.15.16

Should China’s Neighbors Rely on the U.S. for Protection?

Richard J. Heydarian, Sheila Smith & more
President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on a platform of neo-isolationism that could see many traditional U.S. allies in Asia left without Washington’s support in the newly roiled waters of the South- and East China Seas. What will the governments...

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11.09.16

How Should Trump Deal with China, and How Should China Deal with Trump?

James Holmes, David Dollar & more
Donald J. Trump, president-elect of the United States, spent much of his antagonistic campaign blaming China for many of America’s economic ills, and repeatedly making thinly veiled threats of a U.S. trade war with Beijing. How should Trump engage...

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11.07.16

The Chinese Communist Party, with Xi Jinping at the Core

Bo Zhiyue & Kerry Brown
In late October, the Chinese Communist Party anointed Xi Jinping as a “core leader.” While the position doesn’t come with any formal responsibilities, its symbolism is important. According to The New York Times, it shows that senior Party officials...

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10.27.16

What Does Xi Jinping’s Top-Down Leadership Mean for Innovation in China?

Matthias Stepan, Anna Ahlers & more
One of the hallmarks of Xi Jinping’s leadership has been a centralization of power across a whole range of areas of domestic politics. This week, the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership meets in Beijing for the sixth plenary session of its 18th...

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10.25.16

How Many U.S. Allies Can China Turn?

Zhang Baohui, Richard J. Heydarian & more
Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Philippines since June, visited China this week and signaled his interest in shifting Manila’s allegiance away from Washington toward Beijing. While his predecessor sued China in an international court to contest...

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10.06.16

Is the Growing Pessimism About China Warranted?

David Shambaugh, David M. Lampton & more from Washington Quarterly
There are few more consequential questions in world affairs than China’s uncertain future trajectory. Assumptions of a reformist China integrated into the international community have given way in recent years to serious concerns about the nation’s...

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10.04.16

How Does the American Election Look to Chinese?

Qiaoyi Zhuang, Liu Mingfu & more
During the first presidential debate on September 26, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump mentioned China a dozen times. They spoke about China and jobs, currency, exports, infrastructure, cyberhacking, nuclear non-proliferation, trade, and North Korea...

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09.21.16

What Should the U.S. Presidential Candidates Be Saying on China?

Winston Lord, Orville Schell & more
Barely eight weeks before the United States presidential election, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and her Republican rival Donald Trump have said surprisingly little about how they plan to address China—in areas ranging from the global economy...

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09.13.16

Can China’s Best Newspaper Survive?

Isaac Stone Fish, David Schlesinger & more
On September 9, the South China Morning Post’s Chinese-language website went dark with little explanation, leading to concerns that censorship might next spread to the newspaper’s English-language coverage. Can Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, who has...

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09.07.16

The Hong Kong Election: What Message Does it Send Beijing?

David Schlesinger, Melissa Chan & more
On September 4, Hong Kong elected a batch of its youngest and most pro-democratic lawmakers yet. Six new legislators, all under 40, won on platforms that called for Hong Kongers to decide their own fate. The youngest is 23-year-old Nathan Law, a...

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09.01.16

What Can We Expect from China at the G20?

Sophie Richardson, Joanna Lewis & more
On September 4-5, heads of the world’s major economies will meet in the southeastern city of Hangzhou for the G20 summit. The meeting represents “the most significant gathering of world leaders in China’s history,” according to The New York Times...

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08.25.16

Could China Now Defeat the United States in a Battle Over the South China Sea or Taiwan?

Joel Wuthnow, Phillip C. Saunders & more
Chinese Communist Party Secretary Xi Jinping kicked off the latest round of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) reforms at a September 3, 2015 military parade. The reforms could result in a leaner, more combat-effective PLA. This could create new...