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North Korea: How Much More Will China Take and How Should the U.S. Respond?

North Korea: How Much More Will China Take and How Should the U.S. Respond?

A ChinaFile Conversation

China is increasingly frustrated with North Korea and may even see more clearly that its actions only serve to increase allied unity, stimulate Japanese militarism and accelerate missile defense. For all these reasons the U.S. should lean on Beijing to—at last—not only help strengthen sanctions and implement them but also to reduce/cut off aid and fuel to North Korea. This should be one of our highest priorities with China. We should encourage Seoul and Tokyo to join us in collective demarches to Beijing.

We should also continue to urge the Chinese to discuss contingencies and our respective red lines in case of, for example, regime collapse or unification. This could provide some easing of Chinese concerns about regime change, which is the policy we should pursue.

I am almost 100 percent certain, however, that Beijing will not cooperate beyond cosmetics. The Chinese will continue, as they have for many years, to be a core part of the problem, not the solution.

Responses

Tai Ming Cheung

Tai Ming Cheung is the director of the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation and the leader of IGCC’s Minerva project "The Evolving Relationship Between Technology and National Security in China: Innovation, Defense Transformation, and China’s Place in the Global Technology Order.” He is a long-time analyst of Chinese and East Asian defense and national security affairs. Cheung was based in Asia from the mid-1980s to 2002 covering political, economic, and strategic developments in greater China. He was also a journalist and political and business risk consultant in northeast Asia.Cheung received his Ph.D. from the War Studies Department at King's College, London University in 2007. His latest book, Fortifying China: The Struggle to Build a Modern Defense Economy, was published by Cornell University Press in 2008. He is an associate adjunct professor at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS) at UC San Diego, where he teaches courses on Asian security, Chinese security and technology, and Chinese politics.

While the North Korean nuclear test is certainly a headache for China’s new post-18th Party Congress leadership, I don’t see that it will have much impact in altering Beijing’s strategic approach to its relations with Pyongyang, which has been baked for some time. Although China does not want North Korea to develop nuclear weapons, there is little that Beijing can do to prevent this from occurring as it is a core priority for the North Korean regime. Whatever hope Beijing had that Kim Jong-un might change course away from militarized isolation toward reform and economic development when he took power is now gone. So Beijing’s goal now is to prevent Pyongyang from turning even more militarist and provocative—as it did in 2010 with the sinking of the South Korean Cheonan warship and shelling of Yeonpyeong Island—which would further undermine an already precarious regional security situation in Northeast Asia. To do this, Beijing has to walk a fine line by taking a tough public stance against North Korea’s actions at the United Nations and with the United States and other regional countries, but at the same time quietly reassure Pyongyang that it is strategically not completely isolated and that its survival is not threatened. While there are growing voices within China, especially among academics and in sphere of public opinion, calling for the Chinese authorities to take tougher action against Pyongyang, the decision makers who really matter are located within the national security apparatus and they are unlikely to change their strategic rationale that a nuclear North Korea is better than a completely isolated and unstable or failing North Korea.

Elizabeth Economy

Elizabeth Economy is the C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). The author of The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China’s Future (Cornell University Press, 2004), Economy also co-edited China Joins the World: Progress and Prospects (with Michel Oksenberg, Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1999) and The Internationalization of Environmental Protection (with Miranda Schreurs, Cambridge University Press, 1997). She has published articles in foreign policy and scholarly journals, including Foreign Affairs, Harvard Business Review, and Foreign Policy, and op-eds in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and International Herald Tribune. Economy is vice chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of China and serves on the board of the China-U.S. Center for Sustainable Development. She is a frequent guest on nationally broadcast television and radio programs, has testified before Congress on numerous occasions, and regularly consults for U.S. government agencies and companies. Economy is currently writing two books: one on China's rise and its geopolitical and strategic implications, and another, with Michael Levi, on China’s global quest for resources (forthcoming, Oxford University Press, 2013). Economy received her B.A. from Swarthmore College, her A.M. from Stanford University, and her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. In 2008, she received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Vermont Law School. 

(Editor's note: the following is an excerpt from a longer post at the Asia Unbound blog of the Council on Foreign Relations in which regular ChinaFile Conversationalist Elizabeth Economy notes, first of all, “Here is what we know about China and the current crisis with North Korea: Beijing doesn’t know what to do.”):

“Another thing we know about China and North Korea is that the potential of Beijing’s leverage — the life-sustaining economic, food, and energy assistance it provides to the DPRK—is not in any way influencing North Korean decision-making. In addition to Pyongyang ignoring Beijing’s warnings over the third nuclear test, let’s not forget that late last year a $40 million investment in North Korea by one of China’s largest mining companies went belly-up when the North Koreans reportedly mastered the mining processes themselves and evicted the Chinese workers. The Chinese company is still trying to recoup some of its investment. Moreover, efforts by the Chinese to persuade Kim Jong-un to undertake more significant economic reform have apparently fallen on deaf ears. North Korea appears to be the tail that is wagging the China dog.

While we wait for Beijing’s foreign policy to coalesce, we might look to Beijing’s north for some help. Mongolian officials have regularly hosted their North Korean counterparts for national security and economic discussions. They have even acted as a third party host for delicate negotiations involving the DPRK; most recently in November 2012, Mongolia brought Japanese and North Korean negotiators together in Ulaanbaatar to discuss the long-standing problem of North Korea’s abduction of Japanese citizens. Like China, Mongolia has a long-standing relationship with the DPRK; it was the second country to grant diplomatic recognition to North Korea after the Soviet Union. It is unlikely that a simple talk with Mongolia’s personable President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj will have an immediate impact, but at the very least backchannel lines of communication can be exploited. More insight into Kim Jong-un’s thinking and the broader political situation within North Korea is clearly needed.

The Editors

ChinaFile is a new not-for-profit, English-language, online magazine published by the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society. We hope to help facilitate a broad, well-informed, nuanced, and vibrant public conversation about China in the U.S. and elsewhere in the English-speaking world.Coverage of China has proliferated and become more diffuse. Some coverage deserves more attention than it gets. Some gets more attention than it deserves. ChinaFile’s editors bring order, clarity, and a discerning if affectionate eye to the flood of commentary and reporting on China.Every day, we sift through coverage of China to highlight and translate pieces that are particularly insightful, well-reported, informative, or otherwise worth reading.Some China coverage is built to last. We find it, we archive it, and we make it easy for you to use and enjoy. Our current partners include: The New York Review of Books, The Atlantic, Caixin, The Hong Kong Economic Journal, the websites chinadialogue.net, Tea Leaf Nation, and CNPolitics, and the bilingual arts and literature magazines LEAP and Chutzpah.When we come across underreported subjects, innovative, elegant storytelling, sharp analysis, experts interested in engaging newcomers, Chinese analysts who want to write for international audiences, or questions we feel haven’t been adequately explained by other publications, we commission and produce our own content. Our contributors are freelancers and regular columnists working both inside and outside of China.

File under: The More Things Change...Economist correspondent Gady Epstein's March 2003 story from Beijing for his former employer, The Baltimore Sun, is worth revisiting in the context of this conversation in that it reminds us that Beijing's ability to pressure Pyongyang ten years ago wasn't much greater than Washington's ability to do the same a whole 20 years ago, in 1993-94, when U.S. President Bill Clinton tried playing good cop with Pyongyang by offering fuel oil and two light-water nuclear reactors to then-leader Kim Jong-il.

John Delury

John Delury is an Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies at Yonsei University’s Graduate School of International Studies and Underwood International College in Seoul, South Korea. Delury is currently a Senior Fellow of Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations, where with Center Director Orville Schell he recently co-authored Wealth and Power: China's Long March to the Twenty-first Century (Random House, 2013). He was previously the Associate Director of the Center, where he directed the China Boom Project as well as a task force on economic engagement with North Korea.Before moving to Korea, Delury taught Chinese history and politics at Brown University, Columbia University, and Peking University. He is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, member of the National Committee on North Korea, and sits on the 21st Century Leadership Council of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy. His writings have appeared recently in Foreign Policy, Policy Review, Slate, 38 North, World Policy Journal, and Yale Global Online and his commentary appears regularly in the media. Delury received a B.A. and Ph.D. in history from Yale University.

So far we are seeing the usual Pavlovian American responses to North Korea’s third nuclear test—outrage at another provocation, insistence that North Korea is only isolating itself further, grim resolve to break the cycle of provocation by not buying the same horse twice, and, last but not least, turning (in vain) to Beijing to fix it.

Another UN Security Council resolution and enhanced sanctions will do nothing to change the fundamental calculus on Pyongyang’s part, which will take a still harder line in response. The Obama Administration’s North Korea policy of “strategic patience” is like playing a dangerous game of chicken on a one-lane road driving blithely into another car whose driver tied his shoelaces so that his foot cannot let up on the gas.

Americans are waiting for China to intercede and stop the North Korean nuclear bus as it barrels down the road. There are even some hints that Beijing is, by “lips and teeth” standards at least, getting tougher on Pyongyang. China made little effort to slow down or water down the last UNSC Resolution chastising Pyongyang for its satellite launch, and now Beijing looks prepared to sign off on another one. This might not be just about nukes. Kim Jong Un since taking office has taken a cooler approach to the “great country” to his north, which has a strategic logic to it since he needs to establish his credentials as leader of a defiantly independent DPRK, and North Korea has, over the past few years, become excessively dependent on China for economic activity. There seems to be some jousting now between new leaders Kim Jong Un and Xi Jinping as they set terms for the next decade of the PRC-DPRK alliance (North Korea is the only country China is treaty bound to defend militarily).

However, it is highly unlikely that Beijing has shifted its fundamental course in dealing with North Korea and, contrary to almost universal desire in American policy circles for Beijing to “cut off the aid” to Pyongyang, it’s a good thing that China stays the course.

Why? For the simple reason that sticks will not work with North Korea. On the contrary, sanctions and disengagement close off possibilities of North Korea’s evolving toward a more “normal” East Asian nation with a highly integrated economy and relatively moderate foreign policy. Instead, punishing Pyongyang for its provocations plays into the hands of isolationist hardliners, who hold the trump card that North Korea’s continuation as a state and the DPRK ruling elites as a group remain under existential threat of the Iraqi and Libyan variety. A self-perpetuation cycle is born.

What some China experts will tell you is that they get North Korea's rationale. The “China model” itself exemplifies the dictum that security comes before all else—China acquired nuclear weapons under Mao in the 1960s, negotiated a strategic breakthrough in the early 1970s with the US—its avowed enemy since the Korean War—on the basis of the shared threat posed by the Soviet Union, and only later in the 1970s began reforming its economy and opening up its foreign relations. Many “Korea hands” in China see North Korea through this lens. They have not given up hope that Kim Jong Un will turn out to lead economic reforms, but rather, are waiting for a strategic breakthough and political settlement in inter-Korean relations as well as US-DPRK relations first.

In Western media coverage and on the think tank circuit, we tend to hear less from such “conservative” Chinese voices, but I would wager their thinking is closer to that of China's leadership. The more “progressive” Chinese foreign policy experts who voice a frustration with North Korea that Americans can relate to are by and large trained as U.S.-China experts. Their critique of Beijing's coddling Pyongyang makes sense in the context of U.S.-China relations, where it seems much energy is wasted on an insoluble problem, and Beijing is squandering capital by sticking up for Pyongyang. But those in both China and the US who argue Xi Jinping should join hands with Barack Obama in taking a hardline on Pyongyang fail to comprehend just how powerful the North Korean system’s “anti-imperialist resilience” (to play off Andy Nathan's phrase) is. Kim Jong Un will just as happily defy Beijing as he will Washington.

For now, the only shard of hope is here in South Korea, where we are awaiting a new president, Park Geun-hye, who sent mixed signals during her campaign but overall leaned toward some kind of re-engagement with the North. When I visited Pyongyang last month, the attitude toward Park was more open than I'd expected, and the fact that she'd visited the DPRK and met with Kim Jong Il gave her a certain credibility up-front. Her job will not be an easy one.

The only way out of the nuclear quagmire is to work tirelessly to improve all other aspects of relations with the DPRK, to bring their government, economy and society out into the open, and allow the forces of economic interdepence (based on legal economic activities rather than illicit ones!) and political normalization to grind away. It would make sense, and is probably feasible, for Washington to insist on some kind of freeze and improved monitoring of North Korea’s nuclear program in the meantime. But that is just a band-aid for cancer.

Beijing should stick with its current policy of engagement, and South Korea should return to an improved version of its previous policy of engagement. A way forward will open up, though it will take time. The Obama Administration will need to demonstrate truly strategic patience to allow it to happen.

Winston Lord was U.S. Ambassador to China from 1985 to 1989. He was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs in 1993. Before assuming his duties, Ambassador Lord...
Tai Ming Cheung is the director of the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation and the leader of IGCC’s Minerva project "The Evolving Relationship Between Technology and...
Elizabeth Economy is the C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). The author of The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China’s...
John Delury is an Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies at Yonsei University’s Graduate School of International Studies and Underwood International College in Seoul, South Korea. Delury is...

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Hong Kong—Now What?

David Schlesinger, Mei Fong, Nicholas Bequelin
David Schlesinger:Hong Kong’s tragedy is that its political consciousness began to awaken precisely at the time when its leverage with China was at its lowest ebb.Where once China needed Hong Kong as an entrepôt, legal center, financial center,...

Conversation

08.11.14

Simon Leys Remembered

Isabel Hilton, Perry Link, Ian Buruma, Orville Schell
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

07.31.14

Zhou Yongkang’s Downfall

Sebastian Veg, Roderick MacFarquhar, Taisu Zhang, Richard McGregor, Zha Daojiong, Andrew Wedeman
On July 29, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Chinese Communisty Party announced it was investigating ex-security czar Zhou Yongkang “on suspicion of grave violations of discipline.” Zhou, who retired from the Politburo...

Conversation

07.24.14

Alibaba: How Big a Deal Is It?

David Wolf, Duncan Clark, The Editors
When Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba goes public some time after Labor Day it is expected be one the largest initial public offerings in history. This week, a story in The New York Times shed light on ties between Alibaba and the sons and grandsons...

Conversation

07.17.14

How to Read China’s New Press Restrictions

David Schlesinger, Orville Schell, Rogier Creemers, Wen Yunchao
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...

Conversation

07.09.14

The U.S. and China Are At the Table: What’s At Stake?

William Adams, Zha Daojiong
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew are in Beijing this week for the sixth session of the high level bilateral diplomatic exchange known as the Strategic and Economic Dialogue. We asked contributors what's likely...

Conversation

07.01.14

The Debate Over Confucius Institutes PART II

Gregory B. Lee, Michael Hill, Zha Daojiong, Stephen E. Hanson, Mary Gallagher, Marshall Sahlins, Mobo Gao , Alan R. Kluver, Avery Goldstein
Last week, ChinaFile published a discussion on the debate over Confucius Institutes–Chinese language and culture programs affiliated with China’s Ministry of Education—and their role on university campuses. The topic, and several of the...

Conversation

06.23.14

The Debate Over Confucius Institutes

Robert Kapp, Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Perry Link, Winston Lord, Jerome A. Cohen, Isabel Hilton, Jonathan Mirsky, Steven I. Levine, David Wertime, Matteo Mecacci
Last week, the American Association of University Professors joined a growing chorus of voices calling on North American universities to rethink their relationship with Confucius Institutes, the state-sponsored Chinese-language programs...

Conversation

06.11.14

Is a Declining U.S. Good for China?

Zha Daojiong, Gordon G. Chang, Ian Buruma, Hugh White , Chen Weihua, Peter Gries, Wu Jianmin
Zha Daojiong:Talk of a U.S. decline is back in vogue. This time, China features more (if not most) prominently in a natural follow-up question: Which country is going to benefit? My answer: certainly not China.Arguably, the first round of “U.S.-in-...

Conversation

06.02.14

25 Years On, Can China Move Past Tiananmen?

Xu Zhiyuan, Arthur Waldron, Ying Chan
Xu Zhiyuan:Whenever the massacre at Tiananmen Square twenty-five years ago comes up in conversation, I think of Faulkner’s famous line: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”Some believe that China’s economic growth and rise to international...

Conversation

05.19.14

Is This the Best Response to China’s Cyber-Attacks? 

Robert Daly, Chen Weihua, Rogier Creemers, Jon R. Lindsay, Graham Webster, Tai Ming Cheung
On Monday, the United States Attorney General Eric Holder accused China of hacking American industrial giants such as U.S. Steel and Westinghouse Electric, making unprecedented criminal charges of cyper-espionage against Chinese...

Conversation

05.09.14

The China-Vietnam Standoff: How Will It End?

Daniel Kliman, Ely Ratner, Orville Schell, Susan Shirk, Carlyle A. Thayer, Edward Friedman
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

05.07.14

How is China Doing in Africa?

Tendai Musakwa, Kathleen McLaughlin, Cobus van Staden
On his current weeklong tour of Ethiopia, Nigeria, Angola, and Kenya, Premier Li Keqiang announced a new $12 billion aid package intended to address China’s “growing pains” in Africa. China is by turns lauded for bringing development to the...

Conversation

04.30.14

Will China’s Economy Be #1 by Dec. 31? (And Does it Matter?)

William Adams, Damien Ma, Zha Daojiong, Arthur R. Kroeber, Derek Scissors, Taisu Zhang
On April 30, data released by the United Nations International Comparison Program showed China’s estimated 2011 purchasing power parity (PPP) exchange rate was twenty percent higher than was estimated in 2005. What does this mean? China's...

Conversation

04.22.14

What Obama Should Say About China in Japan

Yuki Tatsumi, Ely Ratner, Dan Blumenthal, Shogo Suzuki, Edward N. Luttwak, June Teufel Dreyer, Jerome A. Cohen, Wu Jianmin, Edward Friedman
On Wednesday, Barack Obama will land in Tokyo beginning a week-long trip to four of China's neighbors—but not to China itself.In Obama’s stops in Tokyo, Seoul, Manila, and Kuala Lampur, the specter of China will loom large. This will be...

Conversation

04.12.14

China, Japan, and the U.S.—Will Cooler Heads Prevail?

Ely Ratner, Hugh White , Isaac Stone Fish, M. Taylor Fravel
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's whirlwind tour of China this week saw a tense exchange with his Chinese counterpart, Chang Wanquan, over the intention behind America's "pivot" to Asia, followed by a more measured back-and...

Conversation

04.06.14

Spy Vs. Spy: When is Cyberhacking Crossing the Line?

Vincent Ni, Chen Weihua, Andrew J. Nathan, Jerome A. Cohen
Vincent Ni: For a long time, Huawei has been accused by some American politicians of “spying on Americans for the Chinese government,” but their evidence has always been sketchy. They played on fear and possibility. I don’t agree or disagree with...

Conversation

03.26.14

The Bloomberg Fallout: Where Does Journalism in China Go from Here?

Chen Weihua, Dorinda Elliott, David Schlesinger, David Bandurski, Ouyang Bin, Jeremy Goldkorn, Pin Ho, Ron Javers
On Monday, March 24, a thirteen-year veteran of Bloomberg News, Ben Richardson, news editor at large for Asia, resigned. A few days earlier, company Chairman Peter Grauer said that the news and financial information services company founded in 1981...

Conversation

03.19.14

What Should Michelle Obama Accomplish on Her Trip to China?

Orville Schell, Vincent Ni, Leta Hong Fincher, Elizabeth Economy, Robert Kapp, Jindong Cai , Sheila Melvin
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...

Conversation

03.10.14

Should China Support Russia in the Ukraine?

Alexander V. Pantsov, Alexander Lukin, Sergei Zamascikov, Yawei Liu, Edward Friedman
Alexander V. Pantsov: The Chinese Communist Party leadership has always maintained: “China believes in non-interference in internal affairs.” In the current Ukrainian situation it is the most we can expect from the P.R.C. because it is not able to...

Conversation

03.02.14

A Racist Farewell to Outgoing U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke

Kaiser Kuo, Hyeon-Ju Rho, Sidney Rittenberg, Andrew J. Nathan, Chen Weihua, Shen Dingli, Robert Kapp, Donald Clarke
Reacting to departing U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke’s February 27 farewell news conference in Beijing, the state-run China News Service published a critique by Wang Ping that called Ambassador Locke a “banana.”Kaiser Kuo:Banana or Twinkie for “white-on...

Conversation

02.27.14

How Responsible Are Americans for China’s Pollution Problem?

David Vance Wagner, Alex Wang, Elizabeth Economy, Isabel Hilton, Michael Zhao, Veerabhadran Ramanathan
David Vance Wagner: China’s latest “airpocalypse” has again sent air pollution in Beijing soaring to hazardous levels for days straight. Though the Chinese government has made admirable progress recently at confronting the long-term air pollution...

Conversation

02.22.14

What Can the Dalai Lama’s White House Visit Actually Accomplish?

Isabel Hilton, Donald Clarke, Robert Thurman, Matteo Mecacci, Vincent Ni, Edward Friedman
On February 21, the Dalai Lama visited United States President Barack Obama in the White House over the objections of the Chinese government. Beijing labels the exiled spiritual leader a "wolf in sheep's clothing" who seeks to use...

Conversation

02.19.14

China in ‘House of Cards’

Steven Jiang, Donald Clarke, Kaiser Kuo, Evan Osnos
China figures heavily in the second season of the Netflix series House of Cards, but how accurately does the show portray U.S.-China relations? Steven Jiang, a journalist for CNN in Beijing, binged-watched all thirteen recently-released web-only...

Conversation

02.13.14

Are Ethnic Tensions on the Rise in China?

Enze Han, James Palmer, Robert Barnett, Nicholas Bequelin, James A. Millward, Rachel Harris, James Leibold, Uradyn E. Bulag, Nathan Hill, Elliot Sperling
On December 31, President Xi Jinping appeared on CCTV and extended his “New Year’s wishes to Chinese of all ethnic groups.” On January 15, Beijing officials detained Ilham Tohti, a leading Uighur economist and subsequently accused him of “separtist...

Conversation

02.05.14

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

Nicholas Lemann, Michel Hockx, Winston Lord, Matt Schiavenza, James Fallows, David Schlesinger, Paul Mooney, Orville Schell, Arthur Waldron
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

01.27.14

China’s Offshore Leaks: So What?

Paul Gillis, Robert Kapp
Two recent stories by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists detailed China’s elite funneling money out of China to tax havens in the Caribbean. We asked contributors to weigh the impact of the revelations.

Conversation

01.21.14

Time to Escalate? Should the U.S. Make China Uncomfortable?

Edward Friedman, Geoff Dyer, John Delury, Taisu Zhang, Elbridge Colby, Ely Ratner
How should the United States respond to China’s new level of assertiveness in the Asia Pacific? In the past few months as Beijing has stepped up territorial claims around China's maritime borders—and in the skies above them—the Obama...

Conversation

01.06.14

Will Xi Jinping Bring a Positive New Day to China?

Paul Mooney, Andrew J. Nathan, Orville Schell, Edward Friedman, Robert Kapp, The Editors
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...

Conversation

12.17.13

Why Is China Purging Its Former Top Security Chief, Zhou Yongkang?

Pin Ho, Richard McGregor
Pin Ho:[Zhou Yongkang’s downfall] is the second chapter of the “Bo Xilai Drama”—a drama begun at the 18th Party Congress. The Party’s power transition has been secret and has lacked convincing procedure. This [lack of transparency] has triggered...

Conversation

12.07.13

Will China Shut Out the Foreign Press?

Winston Lord, Paul Mooney, Ron Javers, Bill Bishop, Andrew J. Nathan, Perry Link, Jeremy Goldkorn, Chen Weihua, Orville Schell
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...

Conversation

12.03.13

What Posture Should Joe Biden Adopt Toward A Newly Muscular China?

Susan Shirk
Susan Shirk:United States Vice President Joseph Biden is the American political figure who has spent the most time with Xi Jinping and has the deepest understanding of Xi as an individual. Before Xi’s selection as P.R.C. president and C.C.P. general...

Conversation

11.27.13

Why’s the U.S. Flying Bombers Over the East China Sea?

Chen Weihua, James Fallows, Tai Ming Cheung, Stephanie T. Kleine-Ahlbrandt
Chen Weihua:The Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) is not a Chinese invention. The United States, Japan and some 20 other countries declared such zones in their airspace long time ago.China’s announcement of its first ADIZ in the East China Sea...

Conversation

11.24.13

What Should the Next U.S. Ambassador to China Tackle First?

Mary Kay Magistad, Robert Kapp
Mary Kay Magistad: Gary Locke succeeded in a way that few U.S. ambassadors to China have—in improving public perceptions of U.S. culture.  Locke’s down-to-earth approachability and lack of ostentation certainly helped. So did the...

Conversation

11.19.13

What Will the Beginning of the End of the One-Child Policy Bring?

Leta Hong Fincher, Vincent Ni, Isabel Hilton, Yong Cai
Leta Hong Fincher:The Communist Party’s announcement that it will loosen the one-child policy is, of course, welcome news. Married couples will be allowed to have two children if only one of the spouses is an only child, meaning that millions more...

Conversation

11.12.13

Spiked in China?

John Garnaut, Sidney Rittenberg, Andrew J. Nathan, Dorinda Elliott, Vincent Ni, Jeremy Goldkorn, Emily Brill
Last weekend, The New York Times and later, The Financial Times reported that, according to Bloomberg News employees, Bloomberg editor in chief Matthew Winkler informed reporters by telephone on October...

Conversation

10.30.13

Trial By TV: What Does a Reporter’s Arrest and Confession Tell Us About Chinese Media?

Wang Feng, Jeremy Goldkorn
The latest ChinaFile Conversation focuses on the case of Chen Yongzhou, the Guangzhou New Express journalist whose series of investigative reports exposed fraud at the Changsha, Hunan-based heavy machinery maker Zoomlion. Chen later was arrested and...

Conversation

10.25.13

Can State-Run Capitalism Absorb the Shocks of ‘Creative Destruction’?

Barry Naughton, Shai Oster, Steve Dickinson, Gordon G. Chang
Following are ChinaFile Conversation participants’ reactions to “China: Superpower or Superbust?” in the November-December issue of The National Interest in which author Ian Bremmer says that China’s state-capitalism is ill-equipped to absorb the...

Conversation

10.22.13

Why’s China’s Smog Crisis Still Burning So Hot?

Alex Wang, Isabel Hilton, Jeremy Goldkorn, Shai Oster
Alex Wang:On Sunday, the start of the winter heating season in northern China brought the “airpocalypse” back with a vengeance.Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang Province and home to 11 million people, registered fine particulate (PM2.5) pollution...

Conversation

10.16.13

Uncomfortable Bedfellows: How Much Does China Need America Now?

Bill Bishop, David Schlesinger, Arthur R. Kroeber, Robert Kapp, Isabel Hilton, Shai Oster
Bill Bishop:The D.C. dysfunction puts China in a difficult place. Any financial markets turmoil that occurs because of a failure of Congress to do its job could harm China’s economy, and especially its exports. The accumulation of massive foreign-...

Conversation

10.10.13

CCTV Network News Broadcast

Following is a transcript of the network news broadcast of China Central Television on September 30, 2013:央视网消息(新闻联播): 9月30日上午,在中华人民共和国64周年国庆前夕,On the morning of September 30th, on the eve of the 64th anniversary of the People's Republic of...

Conversation

10.08.13

Obama’s Canceled Trip to Asia: How Much Did It Matter?

Winston Lord, Susan Shirk, Andrew J. Nathan, Michael Kulma
Last week as the U.S. Federal Government shut down, President Obama canceled his planned trip to Indonesia and Brunei, where he was to have attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Bali. Some foreign policy analysts have argued...

Conversation

10.07.13

Why Is Xi Jinping Promoting Self-Criticism?

Stephen C. Angle, Taisu Zhang
Critics both within and without China have suggested that Xi Jinping’s promotion of self-criticism by Communist Party cadres has at least two motives: it promotes the appearance of concern with lax discipline while avoiding deeper reform, and it...

Conversation

09.27.13

Can China’s Leading Indie Film Director Cross Over in America?

Jonathan Landreth, Michael Berry, Jaime Wolf, Richard Peña, Sun Yunfan, Ying Zhu, Maya E. Rudolph
Jonathan Landreth:Chinese writer and director Jia Zhangke’s A Touch of Sin won the prize for the best screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival in May. Though the dialogue and its fine translation and English subtitles by Tony Rayns are exemplary, I...

Conversation

09.24.13

A Shark Called Wanda—Will Hollywood Swallow the Chinese Dream Whole?

Stanley Rosen, Jonathan Landreth, Vincent Ni, Michael Berry
Stanley Rosen:Wang Jianlin, who personally doesn’t know much about film, made a splash when he purchased America’s No. 2 movie theater chain AMC at a price many thought far too high for what he was getting.  A number of knowledgeable people...

Conversation

09.17.13

What’s Behind China’s Recent Internet Crackdown?

Xiao Qiang, John Garnaut, Jeremy Goldkorn, Vincent Ni, Rogier Creemers, Isabel Hilton
Last weekend, Charles Xue Manzi, a Chinese American multi-millionaire investor and opinion leader on one of China’s most popular microblogs, appeared in handcuffs in an interview aired on China Central Television (CCTV). Xue is just the most visible...

Conversation

09.13.13

What Can China and Japan Do to Start Anew?

Paula S. Harrell, Chen Weihua
Paula S. Harrell:While the media keeps its eye on the ongoing Diaoyu/Senkaku islands dispute, heating up yet again this week after Chinese naval ships and aircraft were spotted circling the area, a parallel, possibly game-changing development in...

Conversation

09.09.13

What Are Chinese Attitudes Toward a U.S. Strike in Syria?

Chen Weihua, Vincent Ni, Massoud Hayoun
Chen Weihua:Chinese truly believe that there is no military solution to the Syrian crisis. On the contrary, a U.S. air strike would only worsen the situation there. Chinese have seen many failures of U.S. intervention in the Middle East in the past...

Conversation

09.05.13

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

Orville Schell, John Delury, Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Peter C. Perdue, Joseph W. Esherick, Robert Kapp, Mary Kay Magistad
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

08.28.13

Beijing, Why So Tense?

Andrew J. Nathan, Isabel Hilton, Ouyang Bin, Shai Oster
Andrew Nathan:I think of the Chinese leaders as holding a plant spritzer and dousing sparks that are jumping up all around them.  Mao made the famous remark, “A single spark can start a prairie fire.”  The leaders have seen that...

Conversation

08.21.13

Is Xi Jinping Redder Than Bo Xilai Or Vice Versa?

Michael Anti, Shai Oster
Michael Anti:Competing for Redness: The Scarlet Bo vs the Vermilion Xi?Bo Xilai, the fallen Chinese princeling famous for leading a “Red Songs” communist campaign in southwest China's megacity Chongqing, is on trial today, live-Twittered from...

Conversation

08.15.13

What Should China Do to Reverse its Tourism Deficit?

Leah Thompson, Damien Ma, Christine Lu
Recent news stories and industry studies show that fewer international visitors are choosing China as their destination. January-June arrivals in Beijing are down 15% from the same period in 2012 and more Chinese than ever before are spending their...

Conversation

08.07.13

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

David Wertime, Duncan Clark, Orville Schell, Ouyang Bin, Rogier Creemers, Ethan J. Leib
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-...

Conversation

08.01.13

How Dangerous Are Sino-Japanese Tensions?

Jerome A. Cohen
Sino-Japanese relations do not look promising at the moment. Obviously, the Diaoyu-Senkaku dispute is not the only factor in play but it does focus nationalist passions on both sides. Yet both countries are capable of wiser conduct if their leaders...

Conversation

07.30.13

Is Business in China Getting Riskier, Or Are Multinationals Taking More Risks?

Arthur R. Kroeber, David Schlesinger, Damien Ma, Steve Dickinson
Arthur Kroeber:The environment for foreign companies in China has been getting steadily tougher since 2006, when the nation came to the end of a five-year schedule of market-opening measures it pledged as the price of admission to the World Trade...

Conversation

07.25.13

The Bo Xilai Trial: What’s It Really About?

Jerome A. Cohen, Andrew J. Nathan, John Garnaut
China has charged disgraced senior politician Bo Xilai with bribery, abuse of power and corruption, paving the way for a potentially divisive trial. But what’s at stake goes beyond the fate of one allegedly corrupt official: Is it really a fight...

Conversation

07.23.13

What Would a Hard Landing in China Mean for the World?

Barry Naughton, James McGregor, Arthur R. Kroeber, Gordon G. Chang
Barry Naughton:Paul Krugman in a recent post (“How Much Should We Worry About a China Shock?” The New York Times, July 20, 2013) tells us NOT to worry about the impact of a slowing China on global exports, but to be worried, very worried about the...

Conversation

07.18.13

Xu Zhiyong Arrested: How Serious Can Beijing Be About Political Reform?

Donald Clarke, Andrew J. Nathan, Jeremy Goldkorn, Carl Minzner, Ira Belkin
Donald Clarke:When I heard that Xu Zhiyong had just been detained, my first thought was, “Again?” This seems to be something the authorities do every time they get nervous, a kind of political Alka Seltzer to settle an upset constitution. I searched...

Conversation

07.16.13

What’s the Senate’s Beef with China’s Play for American Pork?

Arthur R. Kroeber, Steve Dickinson, James Fallows, Damien Ma
Last week the U.S. Senate held hearings to question the CEO of meat-producer Smithfield Farms, about the proposed $4.7 billion sale of the Virginia-based company to Shuanghui International, China’s largest pork producer. The sale is under review by...

Conversation

07.09.13

What Is the “Chinese Dream” Really All About?

Stein Ringen, Jeremy Goldkorn, Robert Kapp
Stein Ringen:I’m coming to the view that the ‘Chinese Dream’ is a signal from the leadership of great import that has much to say about the nature of the Chinese state. It is striking, in my opinion, how effectively and rapidly the system swung into...

Conversation

07.03.13

How Would Accepting Gay Culture Change China?

Fei Wang, Steven Jiang
Last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike down the core provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act is not only “a stride toward greater equality in the United States, but also a shift that will reverberate far beyond our shores,” wrote...

Conversation

06.27.13

Is Xi Jinping’s Fight Against Corruption For Real?

Roderick MacFarquhar, Winston Lord, Bill Bishop, Andrew J. Nathan, Orville Schell, Bill Bikales, William Overholt
Roderick MacFarquhar:Xi Jinping’s overriding aim is the preservation of Communist party rule in China, as he made clear in speeches shortly after his elevation to be China’s senior leader.  Like his predecessors, he is obsessed with the...

Conversation

06.25.13

How Badly Have Snowden’s Leaks Hurt U.S.-China Relations?

Matt Schiavenza
Matt Schiavenza:In the understatement of the day, the United States is unhappy with the recent developments of the Edward Snowden situation. Just three days ago, Washington was in negotiations with Hong Kong to file a warrant for Snowden's...

Conversation

06.21.13

How Should the World Prepare for a Slower China?

Arthur R. Kroeber, Patrick Chovanec
Get Ready for a Slower ChinaThe recent gyrations on the Chinese interbank market underscore that the chief risk to global growth now comes from China. Make no mistake: credit policy will tighten substantially in the coming months, as the government...

Conversation

06.18.13

What’s Right or Wrong with This Chinese Stance on Edward Snowden?

Shai Oster, Steve Dickinson
For today’s ChinaFile Conversation we asked contributors to react to the following excerpt from an op-ed published on Monday June 17 in the Global Times about Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old American contract intelligence analyst who last...

Conversation

06.13.13

Who’d You Rather Be Watched By: China or the U.S.?

Tai Ming Cheung, Andrew J. Nathan, Jeremy Goldkorn
Reports of U.S. gathering data on emails and phone calls have stoked fears of an over-reaching government spying on its citizens. Chinese artist Ai Weiwei worries that China will use the U.S. as an example to bolster its argument for surveillance on...

Conversation

06.11.13

What’s the Best Way to Advance Human Rights in the U.S.-China Relationship?

Nicholas Bequelin, Sharon Hom, Joshua Rosenzweig, Andrew J. Nathan, Aryeh Neier, James J. Silk
Nicholas Bequelin:The best way to advance human rights in the U.S.-China relationship is first and foremost to recognize that the engine of human rights progress in China today is the Chinese citizenry itself. Such progress is neither the product of...

Conversation

06.06.13

What Would the Best U.S.-China Joint Statement Say?

Winston Lord, Orville Schell, J. Stapleton Roy, James Fallows
As we approach the June 7-8 meeting in California of U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping we are holding a small contest. We have asked ChinaFile Conversation regulars and a few guests to envision their ideal Sunnylands...

Conversation

06.04.13

How Would Facing Its Past Change China’s Future?

David Wertime, Isabel Hilton, Ouyang Bin, Wu Guoguang, Dorinda Elliott, Andrew J. Nathan, Orville Schell
David Wertime:The memory of the 1989 massacre of protesters at Tiananmen Square remains neither alive nor dead, neither reckoned nor obliterated. Instead, it hangs spectre-like in the background, a muted but latently powerful symbol of resistance...

Conversation

05.29.13

What Should Obama and Xi Accomplish at Their California Summit?

Susan Shirk, Orville Schell, David Wertime, Robert Kapp, Elizabeth Economy, Andrew J. Nathan, Winston Lord
Susan Shirk:It’s an excellent idea for President Obama and President Xi to spend two days of quality time together at a private retreat in Southern California. Past meetings between Chinese and American presidents have been too short, formal and...

Conversation

05.23.13

China and the Other Asian Giant: Where are Relations with India Headed?

Michael Kulma, Mark Frazier, Susan Shirk
Mike Kulma:Earlier this week at an Asia Society forum on U.S.-China economic relations, Dr. Henry Kissinger remarked that when the U.S. first started down the path of normalizing relations with China in the early 1970s, the economic relationship and...

Conversation

05.21.13

U.S.-China Economic Relations—What Will the Next Decade Bring?

Orville Schell, Patrick Chovanec
On Monday, within hours of the announcement that Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet U.S. President Barack Obama on a visit to California on June 7-8, Tung Chee-hwa, the former Chief Executive and President of the Executive Council of Hong Kong,...

Conversation

05.16.13

China: What’s Going Right?

Michael Zhao, James Fallows, Orville Schell, Jeremy Goldkorn
Michael Zhao:On a recent trip to China, meeting mostly with former colleagues at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, I got a dose of optimism and hope for one aspect of the motherland. In terms of science, or laying down a solid foundation for better...

Conversation

05.14.13

Why Can’t China Make Its Food Safe?—Or Can It?

Alex Wang, John C. Balzano, Isabel Hilton, Alexa Olesen, Jeremy Goldkorn
The month my wife and I moved to Beijing in 2004, I saw a bag of oatmeal at our local grocery store prominently labeled: “NOT POLLUTED!” How funny that this would be a selling point, we thought.But 7 years later as we prepared to return to the US,...

Conversation

05.10.13

What’s China’s Game in the Middle East?

Rachel Beitarie, Massoud Hayoun, Tai Ming Cheung
Rachel Beitarie:Xi Jinping’s four point proposal for a Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement is interesting not so much for its content, as for its source. While China has maintained the appearance of being involved in Middle East politics for years,...

Conversation

05.07.13

Why Is a 1995 Poisoning Case the Top Topic on Chinese Social Media?

Rachel Lu, Andrew J. Nathan, Susan Jakes, Dorinda Elliott, Sun Yunfan, Xiao Qiang, Jeremy Goldkorn, Shai Oster
With a population base of 1.3 billion people, China has no shortage of strange and gruesome crimes, but the attempted murder of Zhu Ling by thallium poisoning in 1995 is burning up China’s social media long after the trails have gone cold. Zhu, a...

Conversation

05.02.13

Does Promoting “Core Interests” Do China More Harm Than Good?

Stephanie T. Kleine-Ahlbrandt, Susan Shirk, Wang Yizhou
On April 30, as tensions around China’s claims to territories in the South- and East China Seas continued to simmer, we began what proved to be a popular ChinaFile Conversation, asking the question, What's Really at the Core of China’s ‘Core...

Conversation

04.30.13

What’s Really at the Core of China’s “Core Interests”?

Shai Oster, Andrew J. Nathan, Orville Schell, Susan Shirk, Tai Ming Cheung, John Delury
Shai Oster:It’s Pilates diplomacy—work on your core. China’s diplomats keep talking about China’s core interests and it’s a growing list. In 2011, China included its political system and social stability as core interests. This year, it has added a...

Conversation

04.25.13

Hollywood in China—What’s the Price of Admission?

Jonathan Landreth, Ying Zhu, Jeremy Goldkorn, Shai Oster
Last week, DreamWorks Animation (DWA), the Hollywood studio behind the worldwide blockbuster Kung Fu Panda films, announced that it will cooperate with the China Film Group (CFG) on an animated feature called Tibet Code, an adventure story based on...

Conversation

04.23.13

How Would You Spend (the Next) $300 Million on U.S.-China Relations?

Orville Schell, Michael Kulma
Orville Schell:When Stephen A. Schwarzman announced his new $300 million program aimed at sending foreign scholars to Tsinghua University in Beijing the way Rhodes Scholarship, set up by the businessman and statesman Cecil Rhodes in 1902 began...

Conversation

04.18.13

How Fast Is China’s Slowdown Coming, and What Should Beijing Do About It?

Patrick Chovanec, Barry Naughton, Damien Ma
Slower Chinese GDP growth is not a bad thing if it’s happening for the right reasons. But it’s not happening for the right reasons.Instead of reining in credit to try to curb over-investment, Chinese authorities have allowed a renewed explosion in...

Conversation

04.16.13

Why is China Still Messing with the Foreign Press?

Andrew J. Nathan, Isabel Hilton, Jonathan Landreth, Orville Schell, Dorinda Elliott
To those raised in the Marxist tradition, nothing in the media happens by accident.  In China, the flagship newspapers are still the “throat and tongue” of the ruling party, and their work is directed by the Party’s Propaganda Department...

Conversation

04.11.13

Why Is Chinese Soft Power Such a Hard Sell?

Jeremy Goldkorn, Donald Clarke, Susan Jakes, David Shambaugh, Bill Bishop, Jonathan Landreth
Jeremy Goldkorn:Chairman Mao Zedong said that power comes out of the barrel of a gun, and he knew a thing or two about power, both hard and soft. If you have enough guns, you have respect. Money is the same: if you have enough cash, you can buy guns...

Conversation

04.09.13

Is China Doing All it Can to Rein in Kim Jong-un?

Winston Lord, Susan Shirk, Orville Schell, Michael Kulma, Ouyang Bin
Winston Lord:No. 

Conversation

04.03.13

Bird Flu Fears: Should We Trust Beijing This Time?

David Wertime, Yanzhong Huang, Isabel Hilton, Donald Clarke, Susan Jakes, Dorinda Elliott, James Fallows
David Wertime:A new strain of avian flu called H7N9 has infected at least seven humans and killed three in provinces near the Chinese metropolis of Shanghai, with the first death occurring on March 4. Meanwhile, in the last month, about 16,000 pigs...

Conversation

04.02.13

Why Did Apple Apologize to Chinese Consumers and What Does It Mean?

Jeremy Goldkorn, Isabel Hilton, David Wertime, Orville Schell
Jeremy Goldkorn:On March 22, before the foreign media or Apple themselves seemed to have grasped the seriousness of the CCTV attacks on the Californian behemoth, I wrote a post on Danwei.com that concluded:“The signs are clear that regulators and...

Conversation

03.28.13

Will China’s Renminbi Replace the Dollar as the World’s Top Currency?

Patrick Chovanec, Damien Ma, Donald Clarke, Barry Naughton
Patrick Chovanec:This week’s news that Brazil and China have signed a $30 billion currency swap agreement gave a renewed boost to excited chatter over the rising influence of China’s currency, the renminbi (RMB). The belief, in many quarters, is...

Conversation

03.26.13

Can China Transform Africa?

Jeremy Goldkorn, Isabel Hilton, Donald Clarke
Jeremy Goldkorn:The question is all wrong. China is already transforming Africa, the question is how China is transforming Africa, not whether it can. From the “China shops”—small stores selling cheap clothing, bags, and kitchenware—that have become...

Conversation

03.19.13

China’s New Leaders Say They Want to Fight Corruption. Can They? Will They?

Andrew J. Nathan, Ouyang Bin
In his first press conference after taking office as China's new premier, Li Keqiang declared that one of his top priorities would be to fight corruption, because “Corruption and the reputation of our government are as incompatible as fire and...

Conversation

03.15.13

Is the One Child Policy Finished—And Was It a Failure?

Dorinda Elliott, Alexa Olesen, Andrew J. Nathan, Ouyang Bin, Michael Zhao
Dorinda Elliott:China’s recent decision to phase out the agency that oversees the one-child policy has raised questions about whether the policy itself will be dropped—and whether it was a success or a failure.Aside from the...

Conversation

03.13.13

China’s Post 1980’s Generation—Are the Kids All Right?

Sun Yunfan, Orville Schell, Damien Ma
This week, the ChinaFile Conversation is a call for reactions to an article about China's current generation gap, written by James Palmer, a Beijing-based historian, author, and Global Times editor. The article, first published by Aeon in the U...

Conversation

03.08.13

Will China’s Property Market Crash, and So What If It Does?

Dorinda Elliott, Bill Bishop
Dorinda Elliott:At this week’s National People’s Congress, outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao proclaimed that the government kept housing prices from rising too fast. Really? I wonder what my 28-year-old Shanghainese friend Robert thinks about that. He and...

Conversation

03.06.13

Are Proposed Sanctions on North Korea a Hopeful Sign for U.S.-China Relations?

Orville Schell, Susan Shirk, Suzanne DiMaggio, Ouyang Bin, Winston Lord, John Delury
Orville Schell:What may end up being most significant about the new draft resolution in the U.N. Security Council to impose stricter sanctions on North Korea, which China seems willing to sign, may not be what it amounts to in terms of...

Conversation

03.01.13

Is America’s Door Really Open to China’s Investment?

Daniel H. Rosen, Orville Schell, Jonathan Landreth
Daniel Rosen:There have not been many new topics in U.S.-China economic relations over the past decade: the trade balance, offshoring of jobs, Chinese holding of U.S. government debt, whether China’s currency is undervalued and intellectual property...

Conversation

02.27.13

How Long Can China Keep Pollution Data a State Secret?

Elizabeth Economy, Orville Schell, Donald Clarke, Susan Shirk, Isabel Hilton
Elizabeth Economy:The environment is center stage once again in China. A Chinese lawyer has requested the findings of a national survey on soil pollution from the Ministry of Environmental Protection and been denied on the grounds that the...

Conversation

02.22.13

Will Investment in China Grow or Shrink?

Donald Clarke, David Schlesinger
Donald Clarke:I don’t have the answer as to whether investment in China will grow or shrink, but I do have a few suggestions for how to think about the question. First, we have to clarify why we want to know the answer to this question: what do we...

Conversation

02.20.13

Cyber Attacks—What’s the Best Response?

James Fallows, Xiao Qiang, Bill Bishop, Tai Ming Cheung
With regular ChinaFile Conversation contributor Elizabeth Economy on the road, we turned to her colleague Adam Segal, Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Segal said that “the time for...

Conversation

02.15.13

U.S.-China Tensions: What Must Kerry Do?

Dorinda Elliott, Elizabeth Economy, Andrew J. Nathan, Orville Schell
Dorinda Elliott:On a recent trip to China, I heard a lot of scary talk of potential war over the disputed Diaoyu Islands—this from both senior intellectual types and also just regular people, from an elderly calligraphy expert to a middle-aged...

Conversation

02.08.13

Rich, Poor and Chinese—Does Anyone Trust Beijing to Bust the Corrupt?

Andrew J. Nathan, Susan Shirk, Donald Clarke, Barry Naughton
Andrew Nathan:The new Chinese leadership under Xi Jinping seems to be making some bold opening moves with its attacks on corruption and the announcement on February 5 of plans to reduce the polarization of incomes.  Does this mean Xi is...

Conversation

02.06.13

Airpocalypse Now: China’s Tipping Point?

Alex Wang, Orville Schell, Elizabeth Economy, Michael Zhao, James Fallows, Dorinda Elliott
The recent run of air pollution in China, we now know, has been worse than the air quality in airport smoking lounges. At its worst, Beijing air quality has approached levels only seen in the United States during wildfires.All of the comparisons to...

Conversation

02.01.13

China’s Cyberattacks — At What Cost?

James Fallows, Donald Clarke, Orville Schell, Elizabeth Economy, Dorinda Elliott, Xiao Qiang, Bill Bishop
James Fallows: Here are some initial reactions on the latest hacking news.We call this the “latest” news because I don’t think anyone, in China or outside, is actually surprised. In my own experience in China, which is limited compared with many of...

Conversation

01.30.13

China, Japan and the Islands: What Do the Tensions Mean?

Orville Schell, John Delury, Susan Shirk, Damien Ma, Isabel Hilton
How did the Diaoyu, Spratly, and Paracel islands come to replace Taiwan as the main source of tension for maritime Asia? And how are we to explain the fact that China’s foreign policy toward its Asian neighbors has now morphed from such slogans as...