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Spiked in China?

Spiked in China?

A ChinaFile Conversation

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 29 that Bloomberg would not publish their investigative story linking China’s wealthiest men to the country’s top leaders, because of concerns the story would anger the Chinese government and might elicit retribution in the form of denied visas for reporters. Winkler denied the employees’ allegations, telling the Times the stories “were active and not spiked.” The story was first broken by the Taiwan-based Next Media Animation, which published this animated video on the subject.

Meanwhile, China’s Foreign Ministry informed journalist Paul Mooney, who has been reporting in China for 18 years, that he would not be granted a journalist visa—a necessary credential for foreigners reporting in China—to work for Reuters.

Both the Bloomberg and the Times have had their websites blocked in China and residency visas for new reporters denied since publishing stories on the wealth of the families of China’s leaders last year. The Times story on the the family of former premier Wen Jiabao, won a Pulitzer Prize. The Times Bloomberg’s “Revolution to Riches” series on the fortunes of leaders including Xi Jinping was awarded Asia Society’s Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Journalism on Asia

We asked ChinaFile contributors for their reactions. —The ChinaFile Editors

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that The Financial Times published its story about Bloomberg on Friday. The Financial Times’ story was published on Sunday.

Responses

John Garnaut

John Garnaut is the author of the e-book The Rise and Fall of the House of Bo (Penguin, 2013) and served as a China correspondent for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald from 2007-2013.Garnaut graduated in law and arts from Monash University and worked for three years as a commercial lawyer at the Melbourne firm Hall & Wilcox before joining the Herald as a cadet in 2002. That same year, Garnaut was appointed the Herald’s Economics Correspondent in the Canberra Press Gallery.

Full credit to the unnamed employees cited in the article and to Ed Wong at the New York Times for getting this back-story out. If Bloomberg doesn’t have the heft and self-respect to stand by the work of the most formidable team of forensic reporters on the planet, then who does? Mr Winkler now has the opportunity to show that it was all a misunderstanding by publishing the ‘active’ stories in coming weeks. It might save him (and Mr. Bloomberg) from having to dodge questions for the rest of his career about his logic of bending and spiking stories for the satisfaction of Nazi Germany.

Sidney Rittenberg

Sidney Rittenberg is founder and president of the China consulting team Rittenberg Associates, Inc. He lived and worked in China for thirty-five years after World War II, when he joined the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration in China following his US Army training in Chinese Language and Area Studies. During the Mao Zedong era, Rittenberg was held in solitary confinement for sixteen years on suspicion of being an American spy.Rittenberg is former Frey Distinguished Professor of Chinese History at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) and is currently is Visiting Professor of China Studies at Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington. He is a frequent keynote speaker at business seminars and has been the subject of numerous TV and media interviews, in both the USA and China. Rittenberg is co-author, with Pulitzer Prize winner Amanda Bennett, of The Man Who Stayed Behind (2001). He studied at the University of North Carolina and the U.S. Army Language School, Stanford University.

You are so right, John.

I think Bloomberg will either self-correct or crumble as a reputable news agency. They should not waste time on inconsequential or murky stories, but to expose major wrongs, especially those that violate Chinese law, CCP regulations, and Chinese public morality, is a major contribution to both China and the world.

The Bloomberg Politburo, which should be backing up its fine journalists, seems to have no clue on how to deal with Chinese issues. The reference to Nazi Germany is both monstrously insulting and, for Bloomberg, hopelessly counter-productive. The Bloomberg bureaucracy should be constantly contacting, negotiating, influencing in support of their China teams, not cracking the whip and hardening the resistance.

Those in China who seriously seek reform will definitely benefit from good journalism, both Chinese and international. Any real Marxist should know that ideas and values cannot be unified by pressure, as in Mao's day, because the entire economic base and China's global position have irrevocably changed since then. Only wide and active popular support can enable Xi/Li to break through the opposition of Big SOE conglomerates, Big Banks, and “Big Mules” to carry out the necessary deep-going reforms. Fine journalists like Mike Forsythe and Shai Oster should be viewed as allies, not enemies.

Wake up, Bloomberg--These are the “Times that try men's souls”!

Andrew J. Nathan

Andrew J. Nathan is Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science at Columbia University. He is also chair of the steering committee of the Center for the Study of Human Rights and chair of the Morningside Institutional Review Board (IRB) at Columbia. Nathan served as chair of the Department of Political Science, chair of the Executive Committee of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and director of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute. Before coming to Columbia in 1971, he taught at the University of Michigan. His teaching and research interests include Chinese politics and foreign policy, the comparative study of political participation and political culture, and human rights. Nathan is co-chair of the board of Human Rights in China, a member of the board of Freedom House, and a member of the Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch, Asia, which he chaired from 1995 to 2000.  He is the regular Asia book reviewer for Foreign Affairs magazine and a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Democracy, The China Quarterly, The Journal of Contemporary China, China Information, and others.Professor Nathan is the author and co-author of numerous books, including, Peking Politics, 1918-1923 (University of California Press, 1976); Chinese Democracy (Alfred A. Knopf, 1985); China’s Crisis (Columbia University Press, 1990); and The Tiananmen Papers, co-edited with Perry Link (Public Affairs, 2001); among others.Nathan’s articles have appeared in World Politics, Daedalus, The China Quarterly, Journal of Democracy, Asian Survey, The New Republic, The New York Review of Books, The London Review of Books, The Asian Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, the International Herald Tribune, and elsewhere. His research has been supported by the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Henry Luce Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, the Smith Richardson Foundation, and others.Professor Nathan received a B.A. in History, summa cum laude (1963), an M.A. in East Asian Regional Studies (1965), and a Ph.D. in Political Science (1971) from Harvard University.

I’ve been banned from China since the publication in 2001 of The Tiananmen Papers, which I coedited — and that wasn’t even the first time — so I’m familiar with the Chinese government’s efforts to shape its image abroad by the use of punishments and rewards, such as the denial or approval of visas, access, and business opportunities. I don’t want to throw stones at Bloomberg — we still don’t know the whole story. But there’s no doubt that the Chinese government has become more coarse and threatening toward all those both abroad and at home who challenge its official stories on history, ethnic relations, the purity of the ruling party, and the rightness of the Chinese dream. Beijing’s treatment of foreigners is related to its treatment of its own people, like the purging of outspoken academics, crackdowns on civil society activists, and perp walks of domestic bloggers and newspaper reporters. This is not just a tactical tightening during the Third Plenum but a long-term trend, using the government’s growing resources of money and power to shape more aggressively what people can say about China

But why is the Party so anxious to do this? In his August 19 speech to the Thought Propaganda Work Conference, CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping described ideology as a battleground between the ruling Party and Western “enemy forces,” a battleground on which defeat would spell the end of CCP rule. For the system to survive, Xi said, the Party must maintain exclusive control of the “right to speak,” intellectuals must bind themselves to the Party, and 1.3 million Chinese must believe unanimously whatever the Party tells them to believe. A training film for military cadres created by the Chinese National Defense University described the whole range of China’s relations with the outside world as a Western plot to subvert Chinese people’s faith in their own system. The film even warned that exchange visits with the U.S. military would undermine the loyalty of Chinese officers.

Talk about a finger in a dike! These utterances reek of flop sweat. The Party must be feeling very fragile if it believes that the circulation of ideas like constitutionalism, individualism, and human rights; public discussion of events like the Cultural Revolution and June Fourth; and criticisms of extra-legal “black jails” will lead to its overthrow.

Dorinda Elliott

Dorinda Elliott is Editor at Large at ChinaFile. In her “day job,” she is Global Affairs Editor at Condé Nast Traveler, where she spearheads coverage of global issues and corporate social responsibility in the travel industry.Elliott has had a life-long interest in China, dating back to her studies in Taiwan as an undergraduate in 1978. She covered the beginnings of China’s economic reforms in 1984 for BusinessWeek magazine, and served as Beijing bureau chief for Newsweek magazine from 1987 to 1990. During that time, she covered China’s opening up to the outside world, culminating in the student movement of 1989 and the crackdown that followed. Elliott later lived in Hong Kong for a decade, traveling and reporting across China.At Condé Nast Traveler, Elliott has written about China’s avant-garde art movement, the Chinese antiquities trade, Shanghai as financial powerhouse, Macau as gambling mecca, and Taiwan as thriving democracy, as well as edited numerous stories about China. Before joining Traveler, Elliott was an Assistant Managing Editor at Time magazine. She lived overseas for twenty years, as Newsweek Bureau Chief in Beijing, Moscow, and Hong Kong, then as Asia Editor. As Editor of Time's Asiaweek in 2000-2001, she relaunched the magazine with a new focus on China and business.Elliott’s team at Newsweek won an Overseas Press Club Award for coverage of Hong Kong’s handover to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. She graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in East Asian Studies. She is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, and speaks rusty Russian and French. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., with her husband Adi Ignatius. They have three sons.

China’s ability to withhold visas is an extremely powerful weapon, which the Party uses to great effect. The visa question has insidious ways of sowing the seeds of self-censorship. I am ashamed to admit that I personally have worried about the risk of reporting on sensitive topics, such as human rights lawyers: what if they don’t let me back in? My decision to not write that story—at least not yet—proves that I am complicit in China’s control games. After all, there are plenty of other interesting subjects to pursue, right? When I was editor of Asiaweek magazine in 2001, we put Falun Gong founder Li Hongzhi on the cover as the region’s most powerful communicator. We knew it would piss off Beijing, but then again, we could do so with little real risk: our magazine had very little at stake in China. Time magazine, with a significant circulation in China, got banned for publishing a piece about Falun Gong and spent years trying to get back in.

The fact that Paul Mooney, who courageously writes about civil society and China’s downtrodden (his series on the disabled was cited by the Oz Prize jury this year, too), has been refused a visa will probably successfully scare many journalists off of chasing “negative” stories. (The old ‘kill the chicken to scare the monkeys’ tactic proves effective again and again.)

Bloomberg’s apparent skittishness this time round is especially surprising given the fact that the Asia Society’s Oz Prize this year went to Bloomberg for a series on a similar subject. The Oz Prize jury—as Oz’s daughter, I am one of the jurors—recognized Bloomberg not only because the reporting was astonishing, but also because the jurors viewed such exposes as potentially game-changing for China.

Why? Because Chinese journalists can’t do what the western press can. They receive strict guidance from the Party on what they can and can’t publish. So stories like the ones published last year by Bloomberg matter in China. They quickly circulate among intellectuals and the elite. One might even argue that reports of the massive wealth of powerful families helped prompt Xi Jinping to launch his current attack on corruption.

Andy’s right: we don’t know the whole story about the Bloomberg decision. But its editors can still do the right thing. As an editor who still believes that journalism is a higher calling, with a profound social responsibility, I hope they publish those reports, which Winkler insists are still “active,” in the weeks to come.

Vincent Ni

Vincent Weifeng Ni is a multimedia producer at the BBC World Service. He appears on BBC Chinese, World Service radio and BBC World TV. Until 2014, he was a foreign correspondent for Caixin Media. At Caixin, he served as its correspondent in Washington, D.C., New York, Cairo. and London.Ni covered the 2012 U.S. general election and extensively reported on the debt crises in Europe from London, Berlin, and France. During the “Arab Spring” in Egypt in 2011, he was one of the very few Chinese journalists reporting from Cairo’s Tahrir Square.In November 2011, with a colleague Ni won a runner-up place in the London Foreign Press Association's annual awards in the category 'Financial/Economic Story of the Year.'He holds a Masters degree from the University of Oxford, where he was the recipient of the Hoare Family/China-Oxford Scholarship in the field of Social Science. He was also the China Fellow at Columbia Journalism School in 2012-13.

Bloomberg Editor Matthew Winkler reportedly is interested in how foreign journalists worked in Nazi Germany. He might have been looking at tactics foreign correspondents adopted to get information out during Hitler’s rule.

Not long before Hitler’s downfall, another group of western journalists started to file reports from the Soviet Union. Contrary to what many of us think today, some of their works were rather flattering to the U.S.S.R. According to historians their motives were varied; a few of these journalists genuinely were impressed by Joseph Stalin, while others feared losing access and influence and, potentially, their jobs.

Today these journalists would be labelled “useful idiots”—duped into saying good things about bad regimes. But their number included some eminent figures, such as the 1932 Pulitzer Prize winner Walter Duranty.

When the truth finally emerged about the horrors of Stalin’s regime, many campaigned for the Pulitzer Board to revoke this honor. However, seventy-one years after the Prize was awarded, the Board finally decided not to do so because “there was not clear and convincing evidence of deliberate deception...”

How people in the future look at Bloomberg will depend on what the company does today. Bloomberg essentially is a conglomerate of a financial services company and a data company. Do the interests of one part of the business determine the operation of the other? Details have yet to emerged from this perplexing event, but it will be interesting to see how Bloomberg responds.

What came to mind when I first read about this developing drama, is something my journalistic mentor, a veteran Chinese journalist, told me before I entered this industry: journalism is “a job requires you consciously reflect the reality.” Perhaps no one will find out what a writer really thinks during the era in which they write, but the passage of time will reveal their inclinations.

“The difficulty,” as William Dean Howells, another preeminent American journalist put it almost a century ago, “is to know conscience from self-interest." 

Jeremy Goldkorn

Jeremy Goldkorn is the Founder and Director of Danwei, a research firm that tracks Chinese media and Internet. Danwei has been publishing a popular website about Chinese media since 2003.After moving to China in 1995, Goldkorn lived in a workers dormitory, started and managed several magazines and a design firm, and rode a bicycle across Xinjiang and Tibet. He has written for publications as diverse as China Economic Quarterly, Cosmopolitan’s China edition (时尚杂志), and The Guardian. He is an Affiliate of the Australian Centre on China in the World and a Co-Editor of the China Story Yearbook.He is co-host of the Sinica podcast. Goldkorn’s writing, public speaking, and podcasting activities cover a range of subjects from media regulation, Internet business, censorship, and the habits of Chinese Internet users, to Sino-African affairs, the Great Wall, and Chinese consumer culture. Goldkorn was born and grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa.

It’s a shame that Bloomberg and the New York Times are not more willing to put their crack forensic reporters to work on unravelling the links between America’s political elite and its wealthiest citizens, to find out who gained how much from the Iraq war, and who is making a mint from the NSA’s surveillance programs.

But that is not a justification for pulling punches in China. If that’s what Bloomberg actually did. The New York Times did a follow up story today, quoting Mayor Bloomberg who affirmed Matthew Winkler’s denial that the stories had been spiked:

At the news conference Tuesday, Mr. Bloomberg cited Mr. Winkler’s response, and defended the news service. “No one thinks that we are wusses and not willing to stand up and write stories that are of interest to the public and that are factually correct,” he said.

Maybe things are more complicated than the earlier Times story had us believe: news rooms are noisy, messy places, occupied by people with large egos and differing motivations. Maybe the New York Times even got the whole story wrong? I also sympathize with the challenges of running an information business in China.

However, since 1997 I have edited and published various print periodicals and websites based in Beijing. They have sometimes been shut down, blocked and harassed by the authorities. These enterprises have always brought a far greater personal risk to me than anything that Mr Winkler is ever likely to encounter in his comfortable Manhattan office. Bloomberg’s own reporters in China and elsewhere have taken plenty of risks to life, limb and career, apparently for the allegedly spiked story, and for other stories that did get published.

So I have to say that that if the New York Times story is true, we can only conclude that Mr Winkler is, in Mayor Bloomberg’s words, a wuss.

Postscript: After publishing this piece, @roanmartigan on Twitter reminded me that the people who take the biggest risks in the pursuit of foreign media coverage of China are the Chinese news assistants, people who perform thankless tasks often without the benefit of a byline, at low pay, and sometimes at great risk to themselves and sometimes even their families.

 

Emily Brill

Emily Brill is a journalist and native New Yorker. She is studying Mandarin in Beijing, following two semesters in Seoul, where she was a Master’s student at Yonsei University’s Graduate School of International Studies. She has worked at MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Public Broadcasting’s Charlie Rose, and as a researcher for the Asia Society Center on U.S.-China Relations. She holds a B.A. in History from Brown University.

Dear Jeremy,

I read your reaction to the recent reports about Bloomberg News and its coverage of China with great interest.

You wrote: “Maybe things are more complicated than the earlier Times story had us believe: news rooms are noisy, messy places, occupied by people with large egos and differing motivations. Maybe The New York Times even got the whole story wrong?”

Huh?

Every story has two sides—and Edward Wong reported both sides. In this story, as Wong explains, you have the four Bloomberg employees on one side describing “the turmoil since October” and Bloomberg's senior/top editors on the other. And, as Wong explains, the four employees “spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing their jobs.” In any case, their accounts are one set of FACTS. Unless Wong is Lara Logan, he likely cross-checked the accounts.

Then, there’s the other side. The top editors. That side is also presented to readers. However, sometimes, a source will react flatfootedly, especially if the journalist is posing questions or raising issues which have never been asked and especially if the source is in an extremely high position of power and/or public figure. Do you think Wong and his colleagues did not approach Winkler et al. ? In fact, they did, and they declined to speak. Quoting from Wong’s report:

Mr. Winkler and several other senior executives at Bloomberg declined to discuss his conference calls with reporters and editors in Hong Kong. Mr. Winkler said in an email on Friday that the articles in question were not killed. “What you have is untrue,” he said. “The stories are active and not spiked.” His statement was echoed by the senior editor on the articles, Laurie Hays. 

So, which part, exactly, of the Times' report do you think could be “wrong?”

Moreover, has anyone at Bloomberg asked the Times for corrections? Winkler only said the stories were not killed, but have been held, which is what the Times reported: “The stories are active and not spiked.” Of course, they can say that because now that the Times has published its story, Bloomberg can retrieve the stories from the delete bin and make them “active” or even publish them if the embarrassment at home gets to be more troubling than the pressure they feel in Beijing.

Jeremy Goldkorn

Jeremy Goldkorn is the Founder and Director of Danwei, a research firm that tracks Chinese media and Internet. Danwei has been publishing a popular website about Chinese media since 2003.After moving to China in 1995, Goldkorn lived in a workers dormitory, started and managed several magazines and a design firm, and rode a bicycle across Xinjiang and Tibet. He has written for publications as diverse as China Economic Quarterly, Cosmopolitan’s China edition (时尚杂志), and The Guardian. He is an Affiliate of the Australian Centre on China in the World and a Co-Editor of the China Story Yearbook.He is co-host of the Sinica podcast. Goldkorn’s writing, public speaking, and podcasting activities cover a range of subjects from media regulation, Internet business, censorship, and the habits of Chinese Internet users, to Sino-African affairs, the Great Wall, and Chinese consumer culture. Goldkorn was born and grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Emily,

I think you are reacting to the wrong part of my little text which more or less follows the hoary classical tradition of thesis, antithesis, synthesis. The synthesis is calling Mr Winkler is wuss. Read my text again out loud with a sarcastic British accent! 

 

UPDATE: From the New York Post:

Bloomberg L.P. has put a reporter suspected of leaking news about a controversial China story on unpaid leave, The Post has learned.

Michael Forsthye was escorted from Bloomberg’s Hong Kong office on Nov. 14, sources said, after he was fingered as the person who leaked embarrassing claims about how the news and data giant spiked a story that could have angered leaders in China.

Now we know for sure that Winkler is not only a wuss and a coward, but a knave and a scoundrel.

 

Emily Brill

Emily Brill is a journalist and native New Yorker. She is studying Mandarin in Beijing, following two semesters in Seoul, where she was a Master’s student at Yonsei University’s Graduate School of International Studies. She has worked at MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Public Broadcasting’s Charlie Rose, and as a researcher for the Asia Society Center on U.S.-China Relations. She holds a B.A. in History from Brown University.

News organizations seek leaks all the time — but look how Bloomberg responds when one of its employees seems to have leaked. How is China's treatment of people who reveal unwelcomed news different from Bloomberg's?

Prize-winning reporter Michael Forsythe went to a meeting, and then he disappeared from the building.

And he is obviously being forced by some clause in his contract to remain silent while, according to Bloomberg he is "on leave."

So, what next? If Mr. Forsythe’s story is “active not spiked,” as Matt Winkler told Edward Wong at the Times when is Bloomberg News planning to publish that piece? And how can Bloomberg do what Winkler said was the additional work necessary to publish it with its reporter on forced leave?

One last question: Bloomberg CEO Daniel Doctoroff is hosting this year's Committee to Protect Journalists’ Annual International Press Freedom Award Dinner next week. What if the Committee decides to make Mr. Forsythe a last-minute honoree?

John Garnaut is the author of the e-book The Rise and Fall of the House of Bo (Penguin, 2013) and served as a China correspondent for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald from 2007-2013. Garnaut...
Sidney Rittenberg is founder and president of the China consulting team Rittenberg Associates, Inc. He lived and worked in China for thirty-five years after World War II, when he joined the United...
Andrew J. Nathan is Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science at Columbia University. He is also chair of the steering committee of the Center for the Study of Human Rights and chair of the...
Dorinda Elliott is Editor at Large at ChinaFile. In her “day job,” she is Global Affairs Editor at Condé Nast Traveler, where she spearheads coverage of global issues and corporate social...
Vincent Weifeng Ni is a multimedia producer at the BBC World Service. He appears on BBC Chinese, World Service radio and BBC World TV. Until 2014, he was a foreign correspondent for Caixin Media. At...
Jeremy Goldkorn is the Founder and Director of Danwei, a research firm that tracks Chinese media and Internet. Danwei has been publishing a popular website about Chinese media since 2003. After...
Emily Brill is a journalist and native New Yorker. She is studying Mandarin in Beijing, following two semesters in Seoul, where she was a Master’s student at Yonsei University’s Graduate School of...

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01.08.15

What Does Hong Kong’s Post-Protest Report Signal For Relations with Beijing?

David Schlesinger, Joseph Cheng, Denise Y. Ho, Ho-fung Hung, Frank Ching, Louisa Lim, Mark L. Clifford
This week, we saw the release of the official government “Report on the Recent Community and Political Situation in Hong Kong.” It concluded: "It is the common aspiration of the Central Authorities [in Beijing], the [Hong Kong Special...

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12.19.14

Just How Successful Is Xi Jinping?

Ian Johnson, Trey Menefee
Last week, Arthur Kroeber, Editor of the China Economic Quarterly opined that “…the Chinese state is not fragile. The regime is strong, increasingly self-confident, and without organized opposition.” His essay, which drew strong, if divided,...

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12.16.14

What Must China and Japan Do to Get Along in 2015?

Allen Carlson, Zha Daojiong
Last week, Akio Takahara, a professor at the University of Tokyo currently visiting Peking University, wrote a New York Times Op-Ed praising recent diplomatic efforts by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and Chinese President Xi Jinping to deflect...

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12.03.14

Can China Conquer the Internet?

David Bandurski, Jeremy Goldkorn, Rogier Creemers, Xiao Qiang, Jason Q. Ng
Lu Wei, China’s new Internet Czar, recently tried to get the world to agree to a model of information control designed by the Chinese Communist Party. Regular contributors comment below and we encourage readers to share their views on our Facebook...

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11.19.14

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

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

Conversation

11.12.14

Xi Jinping’s Culture Wars

Stanley Rosen, Michael Berry, Jindong Cai , Sheila Melvin
Given China’s tightening restrictions on film, TV, art, writing, and journalism, and the reverberations from President Xi Jinping’s recent speech on culture, we asked contributors why they think Beijing has decided to ramp up its involvement in the...

Conversation

10.31.14

What Should Obama and Xi Say to Each Other at APEC?

Chen Weihua, Hugh White , Wu Jianmin, Graham Webster
Next week's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Beijing (November 5-11) between Presidents Xi Jinping, Barack Obama, and other leaders from around the world, is billed as the Chinese capital's highest-profile international event...

Conversation

10.23.14

Are China’s Economic Reforms Coming Fast Enough?

Daniel H. Rosen, David Hoffman, Houze Song, Piin-Fen Kok
Economic data show a slowdown in China. At least two opposing views of what’s next for the world’s largest economy have just been published: one skeptical, from David Hoffman at The Conference Board, and one cautiously optimistic, from Dan Rosen and...

Conversation

10.17.14

Rule of Law—Why Now?

Ira Belkin, Donald Clarke, Jerome A. Cohen, Harry Harding, Li Ling, Margaret Lewis, Keith Hand
In a recent essay, “How China’s Leaders Will Rule on the Law,” Carl Minzner looks at the question of why China’s leaders have announced they will emphasize rule of law at the upcoming Chinese Communist Party plenum slated to take place in Beijing...

Conversation

10.14.14

Will Asia Bank on China?

Zha Daojiong, Damien Ma, Wu Jianmin
Last week The New York Times reported U.S. opposition to China's plans to launch a regional development bank to rival the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. If, as some say, the the launch is a fait accompli, should Washington focus...

Conversation

10.01.14

Is This the End of Hong Kong As We Know It?

Nicholas Bequelin, Sebastian Veg, David Schlesinger, Fu Hualing, Wong How Man, Teng Biao
Over the past week, tens of thousands of Hong Kong people have occupied the streets of their semi-autonomous city to advocate for the democratic elections slated to launch in 2017. The pro-democracy protestors have blocked major roads in the...

Conversation

09.26.14

Should the U.S. Cooperate with China on Terrorism?

Richard Bernstein, Ely Ratner, Jeffrey Payne, James Palmer, Fu Hualing, Julia Famularo
Richard Bernstein: Of course, they should.  But can they?  Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 in the United States, China has defined almost any dissent from its policies there as examples of international terrorism.  It...

Conversation

09.19.14

China and Climate Change: What’s Next?

Angel Hsu, Barbara A. Finamore
Climate Week at the United Nations General Assembly is upon us and we asked a group of experts to bring us up-to-date about the areas where progress on climate change looks most possible for China, now the world's largest emitter of greenhouse...

Conversation

09.12.14

Is a Trade War with China Looming?

Arthur R. Kroeber, Donald Clarke
As Alibaba gets ready to sell shares on Wall Street, U.S. investors will be focused on Chinese companies getting a fair shake here in America even as some big U.S. brand names (Microsoft, Chrysler, et al) are being shaken down by China's newly...

Conversation

09.02.14

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

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

02.13.13

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

Winston Lord, Tai Ming Cheung, Elizabeth Economy, John Delury
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...

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...