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

Conversation

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...

Conversation

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...

Conversation

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...

Conversation

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...

Conversation

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...

Conversation

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...

Conversation

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...

Conversation

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...

Conversation

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...

Conversation

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...

Conversation

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...

Conversation

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...

Conversation

08.18.16

What Would China Look Like Today Had Zhao Ziyang Survived?

Julian B. Gewirtz, David Shambaugh & more
Almost 500 previously unpublished documents about Zhao Ziyang, the bold reformer who served as China’s premier (1980-1987) and Communist Party general secretary (1987-1989), were smuggled out of China and published in late July by the Chinese...

Conversation

08.10.16

Is Big Data Increasing Beijing’s Capacity for Control?

Mirjam Meissner, Rogier Creemers & more
China’s authoritarian government is using big data to develop credit scoring systems, and is urging data-sharing between companies and governments, putting ordinary Chinese squarely in the digital spotlight. How should Chinese netizens and global...

Conversation

08.03.16

What Does Uber’s Retreat Say About the Ability of U.S. Internet Innovators to Succeed in China?

Kaiser Kuo, Angela Bao & more
In early August, news broke that Uber would sell its China business to Didi Chuxing, its largest rival on the Mainland. Uber is just the latest in a series of tech companies—including Google, Twitter, and Amazon, among others—that found the Middle...

Conversation

07.20.16

How Should the Republican Party Approach China Policy?

Peter Navarro, Patrick Chovanec & more
On Tuesday, delegates to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, chose Donald J. Trump as their nominee for President of the United States. We asked a range of contributors how the Republican Party should approach China policy.

Conversation

07.12.16

China’s Claims in the South China Sea Rejected

Andrew S. Erickson, Peter Dutton & more
On Tuesday in the Hague, the Permanent Court of Arbitration rejected China’s claims that a scattering of rocks and reefs in the contested South China Sea qualify as Exclusive Economic Zones for China. The court found in favor of the Philippines’...

Conversation

07.08.16

Why Is There So Much Talk of China’s Bleeding Money?

Arthur R. Kroeber & Thilo Hanemann
China has seen its foreign reserves depleted for months, but economists don’t agree about why: Is it because Chinese people are buying offshore assets, such as real estate? Because Chinese companies are paying down their foreign debt? Or both? Or is...

Conversation

06.30.16

Where Is China’s Internet Headed?

David Schlesinger, Jeremy Goldkorn & more
Lu Wei, the often combative Chinese official known as China’s “Internet Czar,” will step down, and is to be replaced by a former deputy of Chinese leader Xi Jinping. The personnel change comes after a period of mounting restrictions on China’s...

Conversation

06.24.16

Is Europe Prepared to Deal with the China Challenge?

Mikko Huotari, Jan Gaspers & more
Chinese President Xi Jinping is on a grand tour of the western end of the “New Silk Road,” in visits to Serbia and Poland this week before he returns to Beijing via Uzbekistan, a more eastern outpost on China’s expanding 21st Century trade route. Xi...

Conversation

06.13.16

A War of Words Over the South China Sea

Edward Friedman, Feng Zhang & more
Beginning earlier this year, four-star Admiral Harry Harris, the U.S. Navy’s top commander in the Pacific, has spoken out in speeches, interviews, private meetings, and testimony to Congress urging that the U.S. take more aggressive action against...

Conversation

06.03.16

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Yidi Wu, Ding Feng & more
It’s graduation time, and Chinese graduates from American colleges are now pondering what to do next: return to China or stay in the U.S. We reached out to recent graduates to ask about their decision-making process and how they view their prospects...

Conversation

05.24.16

How Much Debt Is Too Much in China?

Yukon Huang, Houze Song & more
In the first quarter of 2016, Chinese debt rose to 237 percent of GDP—a level comparable to that of the U.S. or the Eurozone and yet much larger than that of most developing economies, according to analysis by The Financial Times. Additionally,...

Conversation

05.16.16

Escalation in the South China Sea

Julian G. Ku, M. Taylor Fravel & more
International tensions are rising over the shipping lanes and land formations in the South China Sea. Last week, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force scrambled fighter jets in response to a U.S. Navy ship sailing near the disputed Fiery Cross Reef...

Conversation

05.05.16

How Should Global Stakeholders Respond to China’s New NGO Management Law?

Sebastian Heilmann , Thomas Kellogg & more
A new law gives broad powers to China’s police in regulating and surveilling the activities of foreign NGOs in China. The law would require foreign groups including foundations, charities, advocacy organizations, and academic exchange programs to...

Conversation

05.01.16

Xi Jinping’s New Military Position

Andrew J. Nathan & Tai Ming Cheung
Late last week, China’s news media were filled with images of President and Party General Secretary Xi Jinping touring the joint battle command center of the Central Military Commission, dressed for the occasion in combat fatigues. The occasion for...

Conversation

04.19.16

Fifty Years Later, How Is the Cultural Revolution Still Present in Life in China?

Guobin Yang, Federico Pachetti & more
Fifty years ago this May 16, Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong launched the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, a chaotic, terrifying, and often deadly decade-long campaign to “purify” C.C.P. ideology and reassert his political dominance...

Conversation

04.12.16

Should Internet Censorship Be Considered a Trade Issue?

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, Susan Shirk & more
A new report from the Office of the United States Trade Representative lists, for the first time, Chinese Internet censorship as a trade barrier. The possible implications are complex: it could strengthen the hand of U.S. businesses, but also stands...

Conversation

04.06.16

China in the Panama Papers

Andrew J. Nathan, Bill Bishop & more
The overseas wealth of several relatives of senior Chinese leaders has come to light in an International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) report, part of the analysis by a group of media outlets of more than 11 million documents leaked...

Conversation

03.21.16

Cracks in Xi Jinping’s Fortress?

Andrew J. Nathan, Rana Mitter & more
Two remarkable documents emerged from China last week—the essay “A Thousand Yes-Men Cannot Equal One Honest Advisor,” which appeared on the website of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, and an open letter calling for Xi Jinping’s...

Conversation

03.15.16

What’s Driving the Current Storm of Chinese Censorship?

David Schlesinger, Anne Henochowicz & more
The latest lightning flashes on China’s shifting media horizon this month took the form of the banishment from social media of a real estate tycoon who voiced support for constructive criticism, the firing of an editor at a newspaper that appeared...

Conversation

03.11.16

Is China Doing Enough for the Environment?

Deborah Seligsohn, Angel Hsu & more
This week, at their biggest annual session in Beijing, Chinese lawmakers are expected to ratify the country’s 13th Five-Year Plan, which contains many new measures to address rampant pollution of the country’s air, soil, and water. Will the plan be...

Conversation

03.04.16

Xi Jinping: A Cult of Personality?

Jonathan Landreth, Taisu Zhang & more
By some accounts, Chinese Presdient Xi Jinping is the most powerful leader the country has  had since Mao Zedong. One arrow in his quiver that echoes Mao’s armory is Xi’s embrace of popular song, listened to these days not on the radio or...

Conversation

02.23.16

How Long Can China’s Internet Thrive if the Rest of the World Gets Shut Out?

David Schlesinger, Jeff South & more
Last week, Chinese authorities announced that as of March 10, foreign-invested companies would not be allowed to publish anything on the Chinese Internet unless they have obtained government permission to publish with a Chinese partner. What does...

Conversation

02.18.16

‘Rule by Fear?’

Eva Pils, Taisu Zhang & more
In the just over three years since Xi Jinping assumed leadership of China, observers and scholars of the country have increasingly coalesced around the idea that Xi’s term in office has coincided with a shift in the tone, if not the practice, of...

Conversation

02.09.16

What New Approach Should the U.S. and China Take to North Korea?

John Delury, Seong-Hyon Lee & more
On Sunday, North Korea launched a long range rocket many see as a test of its capability to launch a missile attack against the U.S., defying both American and Chinese pressure not do so. Republican U.S. presidential candidates argued Washington...

Conversation

02.02.16

How Close Was the Latest Close Call in the South China Sea?

Julian G. Ku, Feng Zhang & more
Had things in fact calmed down in recent weeks as the Chinese official press claimed, only to be stirred up again needlessly by another Freedom of Navigation sail by the U.S. Navy?

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...

Conversation

01.20.16

Beijing’s Televised Confessions

Jeremy Goldkorn, David Bandurski & more
Recent days have seen two more in a long string of televised “confessions” on China Central Television, that of Swedish human rights activist Peter Dahlin and Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai. Did these gentlemen break any Chinese laws? What do these...

Conversation

01.13.16

Does Chinese Investment Pose a Threat to Hollywood?

Jonathan Landreth, Stanley Rosen & more
The Wanda Group, China’s leading real estate developer, on Monday paid $3.5 billion for a controlling stake in Hollywood studio Legendary Entertainment, maker of Jurassic World, among other global blockbusters. At a time when Hollywood is...

Conversation

01.06.16

The North Korean Bomb Test—What's Next?

Barbara Demick, Jonathan D. Pollack & more
On Wednesday, North Korea claimed that it had tested a hydrogen bomb, bringing to four the number of nuclear weapons it has set off on its own territory since 2006. The act drew international condemnation, prompting us to ask: What’s different this...

Conversation

12.23.15

China in 2016

Andrew J. Nathan, Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian & more
What should China watchers be watching most closely in China in 2016? What developments would be the most meaningful? What predictions can be made sensibly?

Conversation

12.15.15

Can an Alibaba ‘Morning Post’ Aid China’s Image Overseas?

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, David Wertime & more
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is buying the Hong Kong media group of the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the leading independent English-language newspaper in the former British colony where freedom of the press has resisted control by the...

Conversation

12.09.15

Is China a Leader or Laggard on Climate Change?

Isabel Hilton, Li Shuo & more
As ongoing climate talks wind down at COP21 this week, participants in and observers of the summit in Paris wrote in to share their assessment of the message coming from the official delegation from China, currently the world’s largest emitter of...

Conversation

12.03.15

Does the Renminbi’s Elevation to Global Currency Matter?

Arthur R. Kroeber & Zhiwu Chen
On November 30, the International Monetary Fund approved the Chinese renminbi, also known as the yuan, as one of the world’s leading currencies, underscoring the country’s rising global financial importance. What’s behind the decision and what...

Conversation

11.24.15

The China Africa Relationship: Crossroads or Cliff?

Cobus van Staden, Eric Olander & more
As we approach the sixth Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit in Johannesburg, we try better to understand the main issues that surely will arise when Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Jacob Zuma meet on December 4...

Conversation

11.19.15

Is China a Credible Partner in Fighting Terror?

Andrew Small, Chen Weihua & more
In the wake of the terror attacks in Paris China’s foreign minister Wang Yi said, “China is also a victim of terrorism. The fight against the ‘East Turkestan Islamic Movement’… should become an important part of the international fight against...

Conversation

11.18.15

How Can China’s Neighbors Make Progress at APEC?

Le Hong Hiep & Brian Eyler
Ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit next week, we asked a group of experts from China’s neighboring countries what they thought the main thrust of discussion in Manila should be. If host, the Philippines, under pressure from...

Conversation

11.05.15

The China-Taiwan Summit

Richard Bernstein, Andrew J. Nathan & more
This Saturday, for the first time since 1949, the leaders of China and Taiwan will meet face to face. Xi Jinping and Ma Ying-jeou will meet in Singapore, not as Presidents, but—to sidestep one of many lingering areas of conflict since the Chinese...

Conversation

11.02.15

How Far Have China’s Economic Reforms Come over the Past Year?

Houze Song & Arthur R. Kroeber
As the Chinese Communist Party leadership wrapped up its Fifth Plenum, the meeting at which the Party’s leadership set the Five Year Plan that will shape economic policy through 2020, what progress has been made on the “comprehensive deepening” of...

Conversation

10.28.15

Making Waves in the South China Sea

Peter Dutton, Jessica Chen Weiss & more
Challenging China’s newly assertive behavior in the South China Sea, this week the U.S. Navy sailed some of its biggest ships inside the nine-dash line, exercising its claim to freedom of movement in international waters plied by billions in trade...

Conversation

10.20.15

Britain: ‘China’s Best Partner in the West’?

Isabel Hilton, Sebastian Heilmann & more
This week, Xi Jinping is in Great Britain for a state visit, his first since assuming leadership of China nearly three years ago. Britain’s government under David Cameron has signaled—increasingly loudly in recent months—that it hopes to usher in a...

Conversation

10.16.15

Is There a China Model?

Daniel A. Bell, Timothy Garton Ash & more
The most recent public event in our ChinaFile Presents series, which we held October 15 in New York, was a discussion of the philosopher Daniel A. Bell’s controversial book, The China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy, co-...

Conversation

10.06.15

What Will the TPP Mean for China?

Barry Naughton, Arthur R. Kroeber & more
On Monday, the U.S., Japan, and ten other countries concluded negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP—the largest regional trade accord in history. If approved, the agreement will set new terms for the nearly $28 trillion in trade and...

Conversation

09.30.15

The Future of Autonomy in Hong Kong

David Schlesinger, Denise Y. Ho & more
Yesterday, the governing board of Hong Kong University, one of the territory’s most esteemed institutions of higher education, voted to reject the promotion of Johannes Chan, a former law school dean, over the objections of the faculty and students...

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

09.22.15

Can the U.S. & China Make Peace in Cyberspace?

Charlie Smith, Rogier Creemers & more
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in the United States today on his first state visit. Xi will address a group of American business leadersin Seattle. High on their list of concerns about trade with China is cyber hacking, cyber espionage and...