Ai Weiwei Responds To Chinese Authorities Destroying His Beijing Studio

Shannon Von Sant
NPR
In Beijing, the AFP reports that authorities have slated the neighborhood surrounding Ai's studio for redevelopment. According to the AP, Beijing has destroyed "large swaths of the suburbs over the past year in a building safety campaign...

Viewpoint

07.13.18

‘Liu Knew His Responsibility in History’

Ian Johnson
He was risking not the immediate arrival of soldiers, but the inevitable and life-threatening imprisonment that befalls all people who challenge state power in China today. This was not an active decision to die, but a willingness to do so. The...

China: Security Guards Assault Women Attending LGBT Event

Lily Kuo
Guardian
Women wearing rainbow badges were blocked from entering Beijing’s 798 arts district by guards who punched them and then knocked them to the ground.

China Rebuffs Criticism of Decision to Bar British Activist from Hong Kong

Benjamin Haas and Tom Phillips
Guardian
China has rebuffed criticism of its decision to bar a prominent British activist from Hong Kong, declaring itself unshakably opposed to foreign interference in the former colony’s affairs.

From Innovation to Provocation, China’s Artists on a Global Path

Holland Cotter
New York Times
Strange to say, although China has 1.4 billion people, it has only one artist, Ai Weiwei. Or so you’d think if you followed the Western news media. “Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World” at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum wants to correct...

China 'Feminist Five' Activist Handed 10-Year Travel Ban

Yuan Yang and Emily Feng
Financial Times
One of China’s “Feminist Five” group of women who were arrested for campaigning against sexual harassment has been barred from leaving the country for a decade, in the latest example of Beijing’s ever-tightening grip on civil society.

The Lonely Struggle of Lee Ching-yu

Richard Bernstein from New York Review of Books
On March 19, a human rights activist from Taiwan named Lee Ming-che disappeared in mainland China, and his wife back in Taipei, Lee Ching-yu, became a member of one of the least desirable clubs in the world: the spouses of people who for political...

Viewpoint

06.26.17

Why Are So Many Tibetans Moving to Chinese Cities?

Gerald Roche, Ben Hillman & more
China’s Tibetan areas have been troubled by unrest since 2008, when protests swept the plateau, followed by a series of self-immolations which continue to this day. The Chinese state, as part of its arsenal of responses, has intensified urbanization...

China Charges Labor Activist for ‘Picking Quarrels’

Chun Han Wang
Wall Street Journal
A Chinese activist who for years has documented worker unrest faced charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” on Friday, in a trial seen as a bellwether of Beijing’s approach to containing labor tensions.

China Says It Has Detained Rights Activist from Taiwan

Chris Buckley and Chris Horton
New York Times
The detention adds to signs of an intensified clampdown on outsiders working with China’s beleaguered rights lawyers and groups.

As Hong Kong Chooses Its Next Leader, China Still Pulls the Strings

Alan Wong
New York Times
For the fifth time, Hong Kong’s next chief executive will be selected on Sunday by a committee stacked with supporters of the Chinese government rather than by a free election.

I Went to Jail for Handing out Feminist Stickers in China

Li Maizi
Guardian
The backlash is painful, but it coexists with progress as women activists manage—slowly—to bring about a change in attitudes

China’s Congress Meeting Brings Crackdown on Critics

Louise Watt and Isolda Morillo
Washington Post
Chinese authorities have shut down activist Ye Haiyan’s blogs and forced her to move from one city to another. Left with few options, she now produces socially conscious paintings to make a living and advocate for the rights of sex workers and...

We Must Resist until China Gives Hong Kong a Say in Our Future

Joshua Wong and Emily Lim
Guardian
If Beijing allows human rights to deteriorate in Hong Kong, then the whole country will lose all hope of reform

‘We the Workers’: On the Front Lines of China’s Record-Level Labor Unrest

James Griffiths
CNN
Zhang Zhiru is one of a shrinking number of Chinese labor activists helping workers in the world’s second largest economy fight for their rights—an ongoing crackdown has seen dozens detained and slapped with heavy prison sentences.

Trump’s Feminist Critics Gagged by Chinese Internet Giant Weibo

Tom Phillips
Guardian
Chinese feminists have hit out at their country’s answer to Twitter after it gagged one of their movement’s most visible social media accounts in an apparent bid to stifle criticism of U.S. president Donald Trump.

Fighting on Behalf of China’s Women—From the United States

Luo Siling
New York Times
Among hundreds of thousands of women who took to the streets for the Women’s March on Washington were Lu Pin and more than 20 other Chinese feminists who live in the United States and belong to the Chinese Feminism Collective

China Police Confirm Detention of Human Rights Lawyer Jiang Tianyong

Benjamin Haas
Guardian
The activist’s family are still waiting to hear from him despite officials saying he was released more than two weeks ago

Inside and Outside the System: Chinese Writer Hu Fayun

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Over the summer, I traveled to Wuhan to continue my series of talks with people about the challenges facing China. Coming here was part of an effort to break out of the black hole of Beijing politics and explore the view from China’s vast hinterland...

Books

10.11.16

The Red Guard Generation and Political Activism in China

Guobin Yang
Raised to be “flowers of the nation,” the first generation born after the founding of the People’s Republic of China was united in its political outlook and ambitions. Its members embraced the Cultural Revolution of 1966 but soon split into warring factions. Guobin Yang investigates the causes of this fracture and argues that Chinese youth engaged in an imaginary revolution from 1966 to 1968, enacting a political mythology that encouraged violence as a way to prove one’s revolutionary credentials. This same competitive dynamic would later turn the Red Guard against the communist government.Throughout the 1970s, the majority of Red Guard youth were sent to work in rural villages. These relocated revolutionaries developed an appreciation for the values of ordinary life, and an underground cultural movement was born. Rejecting idolatry, their new form of resistance marked a distinct reversal of Red Guard radicalism and signaled a new era of enlightenment, culminating in the Democracy Wall movement of the late 1970s and, finally, the Tiananmen protest of 1989. Yang completes his significant recasting of Red Guard activism with a chapter on the politics of history and memory, arguing that contemporary memories of the Cultural Revolution are factionalized along the lines of political division that formed 50 years before. —Columbia University Press{chop}

China Says Countering Dalai Lama is Top Ethnic Priority in Tibet

Michael Martina
Reuters
Region's Communist Party boss vows to uproot the monk's "separatist and subversive" activities...

‘The Songs of Birds’

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Day and night,I copy the Diamond Sutraof Prajnaparamita.My writing looks more and more square.It proves that I have not gone entirelyinsane, but the tree I drewhasn’t grown a leaf.—from “I Copy the Scriptures,” in Empty ChairsEvery month, the...

Gay Pride: China Activists Fight ‘Conversion Therapy’

Benjamin Haas
Hong Kong Free Press
Coming out was never going to be easy, but Yu never thought it would see him committed

The People in Retreat

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Ai Xiaoming is one of China’s leading documentary filmmakers and political activists. Since 2004, she has made more than two dozen films, many of them long, gritty documentaries that detail citizen activism or uncover whitewashed historical events...

China Warns Hong Kong Democracy Activists After Election

BBC
Many in Hong Kong are increasingly concerned about Beijing's interventions in its politics...

Chinese Activist Zhai Yasmin Found Guilty of Subversion

BBC
Hundreds are detained since last year as a part of a crackdown on ‘legal activism’.....

Culture

06.29.16

Using Free Sex to Expose Sexual Abuse in China

Jonathan Landreth
Nanfu Wang hoped that a woman called Ye Haiyan (“Hooligan Sparrow”), who had offered free sex on the Internet to draw attention to the plight of poor women selling their bodies to support their children, would lead her to the prostitutes she wanted...

Green Space

01.14.16

Waking the Green Tiger

This documentary—available in full on ChinaFile throughout January courtesy of filmmaker Gary Marcuse—follows a group of environmental activists trying to prevent the construction of dams on the Nu (Salween) and the Upper Yangtze (Jinsha) rivers in...

China is Said to Formally Arrest Four Human Rights Activists

Michael Forsythe
New York Times
The move continues a nationwide sweep of more than 200 lawyers and associates who worked on civil rights cases

China: Novelists Against the State

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
Can writers help an injured society to heal? Did Ōe Kenzaburō, who traveled to Hiroshima in 1963 to interview survivors of the dropping of the atomic bomb on that city eighteen years earlier, and then published a moving book called Hiroshima Notes,...

Episode 36 – Sim Chi Yin

Sharron Lovell & Sim Chi Yin
Multimedia Week
Sharron Lovell speaks with Sim Chi Yin about crossing the lines between journalism and advocacy. Chi Yin recently published her four year story following a Chinese gold miner suffering with the lung disease silicosis, caused by years of inhaling...

Books

06.10.15

China’s Millennials

Eric Fish
In 1989, students marched on Tiananmen Square demanding democratic reform. The Communist Party responded with a massacre, but it was jolted into restructuring the economy and overhauling the education of its young citizens. A generation later, Chinese youth are a world apart from those who converged at Tiananmen. Brought up with lofty expectations, they’ve been accustomed to unprecedented opportunities on the back of China’s economic boom. But today, China’s growth is slowing and its demographics rapidly shifting, with the boom years giving way to a painful hangover.Immersed in this transition, Eric Fish, a millennial himself, profiles youth from around the country and how they are navigating the education system, the workplace, divisive social issues, and a resurgence in activism. Based on interviews with scholars, journalists, and hundreds of young Chinese, his engrossing book challenges the idea that today’s youth have been pacified by material comforts and nationalism. Following rural Henan students struggling to get into college, a computer prodigy who sparked a nationwide patriotic uproar, and young social activists grappling with authorities, Fish deftly captures youthful struggle, disillusionment, and rebellion in a system that is scrambling to keep them in line—and, increasingly, scrambling to adapt when its youth refuse to conform.—Rowman & Littlefield{chop}

Environment

05.28.15

Chinese Posters Warn of the Dangers of Smog

from chinadialogue
{slideshow, 16211, 4}An exhibition of smog-inspired posters is touring the polluted cities of northern and eastern China this month to draw attention to the impending environmental disaster.Created by a group of Chinese designers, the 300 posters...

Environment

04.16.15

Petrochemical Plant Explosion Vaporizes Government Safety Assurances

from chinadialogue
Opposing the construction of petrochemical plants making Paraxyline (PX), a key ingredient in plastic bottles and polyester clothing, has been one of the most common forms of environmental activism for China’s urban residents in the past decade.On...

Media

04.15.15

Online Support–and Mockery–Await Chinese Feminists After Release

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
On April 13, Chinese authorities released on bail five feminist activists detained for over a month without formal charges. Despite tight censorship surrounding their detention, support on Chinese social media and thinly veiled media criticism...

China’s ‘Comfort Women’

Lucy Hornby
Financial Times
Thousands of Chinese women were forced into sex slavery during the second world war. Here is one survivor’s story. 

China Celebrates International Women’s Day By Arresting Women’s Rights Activists

Matthew Sheehan
Huffington Post
Many women’s rights groups activists who also work on LGBT issues have gone into hiding.

Young, Idealistic, and Caught Up in a Wave of Detentions

Didi Kirsten Tatlow
New York Times
Well educated and deeply committed to helping their fellow Chinese, Liu Jianshu and Zhao Sile are the kind of idealistic young people who pepper the story of China’s transformation over the past century as it searches for a modern identity.

China Detains Scholar, Bans Books in Crackdown on Moderate Voices

Sui-Lee Wee and Megha Rajagopalan
Reuters
China has detained prominent scholar Guo Yushan, who helped blind dissident Chen Guangcheng flee to the United States two years ago and has banned books by eight writers in a crackdown on dissent.

An Online Shift in China Muffles an Open Forum

Ian Johnson
New York Times
In recent months, Chinese microblogging service Weibo has been eclipsed by the Facebook-like WeChat, which allows instant messaging within self-selected circles of followers.

Who is Xu Zhiyong?

Malcolm Moore
Telegraph
Four people whose lives were change by Xu Zhiyong describe how he helped them. 

The Trial of the Chinese Dream

Evan Osnos
New Yorker
Xu Zhiyong tried to change China from the inside, but now he will be tried by the inside. 

Chinese Activists Test New Leader and Are Crushed

Andrew Jacobs, Chris Buckley
New York Times
Prominent activist, Xi Zhiyong, is indicted in a harsh warning to the New Citizens Movement. 

It’s O.K. to Protest in China, Just Don’t March

Shankar Vedantam
NPR
King has just completed two studies that peer into the Chinese censorship machine — including a field experiment within China that was conducted with extraordinary secrecy. The studies refute popular intuitions about what Chinese censors are after...

Kunming Pollution Protest Is Tip Of Rising Chinese Environmental Activism

Jennifer Duggan
Guardian
The frequency of protests is rising as China’s increasingly affluent and middle-class society becomes more aware of environmental issues. This protest in Kunming is the second large protest in a week over environmental concerns. 

Why China Executes So Many People

Zi Heng Lim
Atlantic
While anti-death penalty activists say public education is needed to get the message out, they believe change ultimately needs to come from the top -- something that they're not optimistic about at all. ...

More Citizens Detained in China for Demanding Public Disclosure of Officials’ Personal Wealth

Yaxue Cao
Seeing Red in China
Dissident intellectuals pointed out that the regime is not afraid of what you say, no matter how strong; however, it is fearful of any form of organization and collective activities, and it has been cracking down harshly on these street...

As Wal-Mart Swallows China’s Economy, Workers Fight Back

Esther Wang
American Prospect
As Wal-Mart expands in China, activists and academics have found that along with “Wal-Mart culture,” the company has also imported abuses familiar to those who follow Wal-Mart in the United States.

Books

05.02.13

China and the Environment

Sam Geall
Sixteen of the world’s twenty most polluted cities are in China. A serious water pollution incident occurs once every two-to-three days. China’s breakneck growth causes great concern about its global environmental impacts, as others look to China as a source for possible future solutions to climate change. But how are Chinese people really coming to grips with environmental problems? This book provides access to otherwise unknown stories of environmental activism and forms the first real-life account of China and its environmental tensions. China and the Environment provides a unique report on the experiences of participatory politics that have emerged in response to environmental problems, rather than focusing only on macro-level ecological issues and their elite responses. Featuring previously untranslated short interviews, extracts from reports and other translated primary documents, the authors argue that going green in China isn’t just about carbon targets and energy policy; China’s grassroots green defenders are helping to change the country for the better. —Zed Books

China Expands Crackdown On Anticorruption Activists

Andrew Jacobs
New York Times
The arrests of four activists have both infuriated and disappointed reformers and human rights advocates, who say the crackdown bodes ill for Mr. Xi’s widely trumpeted war on graft. 

Books

04.19.13

The Power of the Internet in China

Guobin Yang
Since the mid-1990s, the Internet has revolutionized popular expression in China, enabling users to organize, protest, and influence public opinion in unprecedented ways. Guobin Yang’s pioneering study maps an innovative range of contentious forms and practices linked to Chinese cyberspace, delineating a nuanced and dynamic image of the Chinese Internet as an arena for creativity, community, conflict, and control. Like many other contemporary protest forms in China and the world, Yang argues, Chinese online activism derives its methods and vitality from multiple and intersecting forces, and state efforts to constrain it have only led to more creative acts of subversion. Transnationalism and the tradition of protest in China’s incipient civil society provide cultural and social resources to online activism. Even Internet businesses have encouraged contentious activities, generating an unusual synergy between commerce and activism. Yang’s book weaves these strands together to create a vivid story of immense social change, indicating a new era of informational politics.              —Columbia University Press

“China’s Leonard Cohen” Calls Out Political Corruption

Louisa Lim
NPR
On “These Tiny Grapes,” Zuoxiao Zuzhou’s new album of edgy ballads focusing on the woes of modern-day China, he hones in on rampant corruption, food scandals, injustice and abuse of power.

Media

12.01.12

Chinese AIDS Activist Endures “Degradation” in New York, Determined to Finish What She Started

Chinese people translate “New Yorker” into “New York Ke” to designate people living in New York City, including Chinese immigrants. But in Chinese, “ke” means “visitor” or “guest.” It has been a sad word in Chinese literature and poems for thousands...

The Return of Activist Journalism in China

Haiyan Wang
Financial Times
We journalists in China live in a paradoxical universe. There is much you in the west know that we do not, though some of it we can pick up from those websites to which we have access. We pick up news, for example, about the fate of Bo Xilai, the...

Making It Big in China

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
Jianying Zha describes China as “way too big a cow for anyone to tackle in full.” Therefore, Ms. Zha says, she omits “the rural life, the small-town stories, the migrants working in huge manufacturing plants…continued poverty in parts of interior...

Reports

04.30.07

Dissident Dissonance

Ellen Bork
Sara Segal-Williams
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
The United States has applied a different standard on human rights and dissent to China than it did to the Soviet Union. Several things explain this. First, beginning in 1972, relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) were intended to...