03.19.19

Foreign NGO Law Causes Drop in U.S. Adoptions, According to State Department

According to the State Department’s Special Advisor for Children’s Issues, the Foreign NGO Law has significantly decreased the number of children U.S. citizens have been able to adopt from China. In a March 14 briefing addressing the Department’s...

Depth of Field

11.16.18

Where Do Bicycles Go When They Die?

Ye Ming, Yan Cong & more from Yuanjin Photo
In this issue of Depth of Field: the dying art of tomb burials; bike graveyards; and a son’s 20,000 photos of his mother.
10.16.18

How the Foreign NGO Law Has Affected International Adoption

Jasmine I-Shin Su
As a result of applying the Foreign NGO Law on foreign adoption agencies, since July 2017 the Chinese government has prevented foreign adoption agencies from legally filing temporary activities in China, and has effectively shut down at least three...

Uighur Children Fall Victim to China Anti-Terror Drive

Emily Feng
Financial Times
On a quiet street in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar, a house lies empty, padlocked from the outside, the family who lived there gone.

China’s Children Are Its Secret Weapon in the Global AI Arms Race

Alex Beard
Wired
China wants to be the world leader in artificial intelligence by 2030. To get there, it’s reinventing the way children are taught.

Depth of Field

04.02.18

Slow Trains, Shrinking Boomtowns, and Men Who Know Ice

Ye Ming, Yan Cong & more from Yuanjin Photo
In this issue of Depth of Field, we take a ride on one of China’s slowest trains, meet the workers who cut the ice for Harbin’s winter festival, and follow two mentally disabled “sent-down youth” on a rare trip home to visit their families. Also:...

Depth of Field

02.20.18

When You Give a Kid a Camera

Ye Ming, Yan Cong & more from Yuanjin Photo
This dispatch of photojournalism from China cuts across a broad spectrum of society, from film screenings in Beijing for the visually impaired to an acrobatics school 200 miles south, in Puyang, Henan province, and from children in rural Sichuan to...

‘She’ll Die If She Stays with Us’: a Baby Abandoned in China

Javier C. Hernández and Iris Zhao
New York Times
The 6-month-old girl was found alone at night in a park in southern China, sleeping in a stroller. Next to her, in a lime-green backpack, was a bottle of infant formula, diapers and a two-page note from her parents.

Alibaba’s Jack Ma Thinks He Knows How to Save China's ‘Left-Behind Children’ — He’s Asking Other Entrepreneurs to Buy In

Karen Gilchrist
CNBC
The founder and executive chairman of e-commerce behemoth Alibaba said that investing in rural boarding schools could provide a solution for China’s “left-behind children” and ensure a more prosperous future for the next generation.

China’s Propagandists Wanted a Hero. ‘Frost Boy’ Fit the Bill.

Javier C. HernáNdez
New York Times
His frazzled face, rosy cheeks and icy hair lit up the internet. Now Wang Fuman, the 8-year-old Chinese student known as Frost Boy, is taking on a new role: propaganda star.

Excerpts

11.06.17

The Past Is a Foreign Country

Xiaolu Guo
On Wednesday, November 8, the Chinese-British writer Guo Xiaolu joined the Asia Society’s Isaac Stone Fish in a conversation about the difficulty of existing in both the Western and Chinese worlds.In this excerpt from Guo’s recently published memoir...

Other

10.31.17

Down from the Mountains (Reader-Friendly Version)

Max Duncan
At 14 years old, Wang Ying doesn’t want to be a mother. She scowls darkly as her younger brother and sister squabble in the corner while she does the housework. But she grudgingly cleans up after them and cooks them a potato stew, which they eat...

Video

10.31.17

Down From the Mountains

Max Duncan
At 14 years old, Wang Ying doesn’t want to be a mother. She scowls darkly as her younger brother and sister squabble in the corner while she does the housework. But she grudgingly cleans up after them and cooks them a potato stew, which they eat...

Books

10.06.17

Little Soldiers

Lenora Chu
In the spirit of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Bringing up Bébé, and The Smartest Kids in the World, Little Soldiers is a hard-hitting exploration of China’s widely acclaimed yet insular education system—held up as a model of academic and behavioral excellence—that raises important questions for the future of American parenting and education.When students in Shanghai rose to the top of international rankings in 2009, Americans feared that they were being “out-educated” by the rising superpower. An American journalist of Chinese descent raising a young family in Shanghai, Lenora Chu noticed how well-behaved Chinese children were compared to her boisterous toddler. How did the Chinese create their academic super-achievers? Would their little boy benefit from Chinese school?Chu and her husband decided to enroll three-year-old Rainer in China’s state-run public school system. The results were positive—her son quickly settled down, became fluent in Mandarin, and enjoyed his friends—but she also began to notice troubling new behaviors. Wondering what was happening behind closed classroom doors, she embarked on an exploratory journey, interviewing Chinese parents, teachers, and education professors, and following students at all stages of their education.What she discovered is a military-like education system driven by high-stakes testing, with teachers posting rankings in public, using bribes to reward students who comply, and shaming to isolate those who do not. At the same time, she uncovered a years-long desire by government to alleviate its students’ crushing academic burden and make education friendlier for all. The more she learns, the more she wonders: Are Chinese children—and her son—paying too high a price for their obedience and the promise of future academic prowess? Is there a way to appropriate the excellence of the system but dispense with the bad? What, if anything, could Westerners learn from China’s education journey?Chu’s eye-opening investigation challenges our assumptions and asks us to consider the true value and purpose of education. —Stanford University Press{chop}

Books

08.15.17

Outsourced Children

Leslie Wang
It’s no secret that tens of thousands of Chinese children have been adopted by American parents and that Western aid organizations have invested in helping orphans in China. But why have Chinese authorities allowed this exchange, and what does it reveal about processes of globalization?Countries that allow their vulnerable children to be cared for by outsiders are typically viewed as weaker global players. However, Leslie K. Wang argues that China has turned this notion on its head by outsourcing the care of its unwanted children to attract foreign resources and secure closer ties with Western nations. She demonstrates the two main ways that this “outsourced intimacy” operates as an ongoing transnational exchange: first, through the exportation of mostly healthy girls into Western homes via adoption, and second, through the subsequent importation of first-world actors, resources, and practices into orphanages to care for the mostly special needs youth left behind.Outsourced Children reveals the different care standards offered in Chinese state-run orphanages that were aided by Western humanitarian organizations. Wang explains how such transnational partnerships place marginalized children squarely at the intersection of public and private spheres, state and civil society, and local and global agendas. While Western societies view childhood as an innocent time, unaffected by politics, this book explores how children both symbolize and influence national futures. —Stanford University Press{chop}Related Reading:“Outsourced Children: Orphanage Care and Adoption in Globalizing China,” Catherine Ceniza Choy, H-Net Reviews, February 2017

Depth of Field

05.01.17

From the Inside Looking Out

Ye Ming, Yan Cong & more from Yuanjin Photo
Each March, Beijing hosts the “Two Sessions,” massive meetings of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Members of the two bodies of the nation’s legislature meet for a week in the Great Hall of...

Conversation

04.14.17

Ivanka: A ChinaFile Conversation

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

Caixin Media

03.27.17

Expert Doubts Incentives Would Boost China’s Birth Rate

Proposed incentives for couples to have a second baby—including tax breaks and extra maternity leave—won’t lead to a significant spike in China’s birth rate, a renowned demographer said.Liang Zhongtang’s comments come amid growing concerns about the...

Depth of Field

03.22.17

Refugees from Myanmar, Migrant Workers, and the Lantern Festival

Ye Ming, Yan Cong & more from Yuanjin Photo
This month, we feature galleries published in February that showcase photographers’ interest in China’s borders and its medical woes, the lives of its minorities and their traditions and customs, and—in the case of Dustin Shum’s work—in a visual...

Shock and Praise for Groundbreaking Sex-Ed Textbook in China

Serenitie Wang and James Griffiths
CNN
A big step forward for a country long criticized for depriving children of necessary sex education, or graphic bordering on pornographic? That’s the question being asked in China over a series of textbooks aimed at children ages 6 to 13.

Features

11.15.16

For Chinese Orphan with a Disability, Life in the U.S. Brought the Strength to Help a Friend Left Behind

Ming Canaday
According to my caretakers at the orphanage, Chunchun arrived a few years before I did, when she was a baby. They estimate that I was around three or four years old at the time of my arrival, howling and screaming at the top of my lungs. I had been...

China’s Forbidden Babies Still an Issue

John Sudworth
BBC
The One Child Policy may be gone, but the control and coercion remain

Sinica Podcast

10.20.16

The Consequences of the One-Child Policy Will Be Felt for Generations

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
The first day of 2016 marked the official end of China’s one-child policy, one of the most controversial and draconian approaches to population management in human history. The rules have not been abolished but modified, allowing all married Chinese...

Born in the U.S., Raised in China: ’Satellite Babies’ Have a Hard Time Coming Home

Hansi Lo Wang
NPR
Studies show the arrangement can take a great emotional toll on both parents and children

Recognizing Boarding Schools’ Psychic Toll in China

Didi Kirsten Tatlow
New York Times
The most deeply affected may be those born in the early decades after 1949, as the boarding system spread — those in their 50s and 60s who run the country today.

Environment

07.19.16

Schoolkids Suffer Toxic Air at Recycled Rubber Athletic Tracks

Michael Zhao
Chinese are known for recycling, and recycling everything. The industry is even responsible for making billionaires, like China’s “wastepaper queen” Zhang Yin.Yet when factories recycle irresponsibly, the consequences can be dire. Reports...

Media

05.03.16

Scandal Highlights China’s Weak Environmental Enforcement

from chinadialogue
For many Chinese, the country’s soil pollution crisis has become increasingly acute in recent weeks after several hundred children fell ill from attending a school built close to a former fertilizer factory.Almost 500 students at the Changzhou...

Depth of Field

04.29.16

April’s Best Chinese Photojournalism

Yan Cong, Ye Ming & more from Yuanjin Photo
Over the past few weeks, the publications Sina, Tencent, Caixin, China Youth Daily, and the publishing duo Sixth Tone/The Paper published photo stories on the intimate, the industrial, the private, and the political. Journalists Yan Cong and Ye Ming...

Media

04.15.16

A ‘Lost’ Daughter Speaks, and All of China Listens

A woman in her mid-40s cradled a scrap of blue cloth checkered with red. “Have you seen this before?” she asked. “Do you recognize this pattern?”I held it up to the light and noticed the cotton edges had frayed and tattered over years. “We already...

‘China’s Worst Policy Mistake’?

Nicholas D. Kristof from New York Review of Books
Perhaps no government policy anywhere in the world affected more people in a more intimate and brutal way than China’s one-child policy. In the West, there’s a tendency to approve of it as a necessary if overzealous effort to curb China’s population...

China: The Benefits of Persecution?

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
During decades of reading and reviewing books on China I have learned a great deal, even from those I didn’t like. Only a few have surprised me. Mao’s Lost Children is such a book, and those like me who believe that the Mao period was bad for China...

Media

02.04.16

Seeking Justice for China’s ‘Underage Prostitutes’

Four and a half years ago in a small village on the outskirts of the coastal city of Yingkou in northern China, a woman stopped a 12-year-old girl outside the child’s school and lured her into a car. “If you don’t come with me, I will beat you every...

The Social Media Search for Stolen Children in China

BBC
Hundreds of thousands of people are turning to social media in an attempt to find their missing children.

Media

01.06.16

Is it Too Late for a ‘Two-Child Policy’?

Zhang Xiaoran from U.S.-China Dialogue
As of January 1, all married couples in China are now allowed to have a second child without penalty. When, in October, word spread that China’s government would end its longstanding one-child policy, Xiaoran Zhang posed the following questions to a...

Green Space

12.08.15

Smog Strike Round II

Michael Zhao
Not surprisingly, smog yet again strikes back in much of China. Using the automatic weapon of our archive of daily photos of three of China’s major cities, I’d like to share a flashback of Beijing’s air quality throughout the month of November,...

Media

11.13.15

The Real Reason for China’s Two-Child Policy: Millions of New Consumers

Two fictitious Chinese brothers are born in Tuanjiehu Maternity Hospital in the Chinese capital of Beijing. Let’s say the first was born already, in late 2015; his parents nickname him Laoda, meaning “oldest child.” That’s because they have hopes...

Children of the Yuan Percent: Everyone Hates China’s Rich Kids

Christopher Beam
Bloomberg
The fuerdai, China’s second-generation rich kids, are the most loathed group in the country.

Respect Your Elders: Confucian Kindergartens Catch On in China

Jeremy Page
WSJ: China Real Time Report
The Party is now introducing traditional culture classes in state-run kindergartens and other levels of schooling.

P&G Tripped Up by Its Assumptions About Diapers in China

Serena Ng and Laurie Burkitt
Wall Street Journal
Pampers diapers fall behind after aiming too low at the growing middle class.

Media

02.05.15

Why Chinese Promote Confining New Mothers for a Month

Rachel Lu
HONG KONG—Giving birth is never easy, but for new Chinese mothers the month following a baby’s arrival is particularly fraught. Immediately after I became pregnant for the first time, I started to hear about zuoyuezi, or “sitting the month.” It’s a...

Chinese Social Network For Moms Gets $20 Million

Steven Millward
Tech in Asia
A Chinese social network for mothers has secured US$20 million in series B funding to help it grow. LMBang already has 20 million registered users, of whom 2.6 million are daily active users.

China ‘Baby Hatch’ Inundated With Abandoned, Disabled Children

Connie Young
CNN
In just 11 days, 106 children, all with disabilities or medical conditions, were dropped off at the Jinan Orphanage, according to local state media. That is more than the 85 orphans the city accepted the entire previous year.

Environment

01.29.14

Banned Toxins Found in Kids’ Clothes Made in China

from chinadialogue
Toxic chemicals have been found in children’s clothes sold by Burberry, Adidas, Disney, and nine other brands, according to a report published by the campaign group Greenpeace. These chemicals can be ingested via hand-to-mouth contact, and then...

Viewpoint

08.09.13

Five Years On

Jonathan Landreth
On August 8, 2008, I was in Beijing reporting on the media aspects of China’s first Olympic Games, and I am still amazed that the four-hour opening ceremony, as designed by film director Zhang Yimou, was seen by sixty-nine percent of China’s...

Sinica Podcast

05.31.13

The Abuse of Children

Jeremy Goldkorn, Leta Hong Fincher & more from Sinica Podcast
{vertical_photo_right} After a few weeks grousing about the state of Chinese humor, sex, and Bill Bishop, we turn our gaze to the plight of the nation’s children, and the stories of child abuse and maltreatment which have filled the mainland...

Excerpts

05.15.13

When You Grow Up

Peter Hessler
Little Lu, Little Zhang, and Little Liu waited for me at the end of the bridge. They were ten, twelve, and fourteen years old, respectively, and they had come from the same village in northern Sichuan Province. They said that they had dropped out of...

Pollution Is Radically Changing Childhood In China’s Cities

Edward Wong
New York Times
Parents are confining sons and daughters to their homes, even if it means keeping them away from friends. Schools are canceling outdoor activities and field trips. Parents with means are choosing schools based on air-filtration systems. 

Viewpoint

03.19.13

For Many in China, the One Child Policy is Already Irrelevant

Leslie T. Chang
Before getting pregnant with her second child, Lu Qingmin went to the family-planning office to apply for a birth permit. Officials in her husband’s Hunan village where she was living turned her down, but she had the baby anyway. She may eventually...

Caixin Media

12.03.12

When Hope Dies

A nationwide uproar paralleled the investigation that led to the identification of five street children who suffocated in a large rubbish bin in the city of Bijie, Guizhou province.Officials learned the victims were the sons of three brothers. The...

Forced ‘Vacation’ for Man Who Broke Dumpster Death Story

Josh Chin
Wall Street Journal
The journalist who publicized the deaths of five young boys in southwestern China last week, has been forced to take a “vacation.”

Reports

06.01.11

“My Children Have Been Poisoned”: A Public Health Crisis in Four Chinese Provinces

Sara Segal-Williams
Human Rights Watch
Over the past decade, numerous mass lead poisoning incidents have been reported across China. In response, Environmental Protection Ministry officials have become more outspoken, directing local officials to increase supervision of factories and...

Reports

01.01.11

Early Childhood Development and Education in China: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty and Improving Future Competitiveness

World Bank
Given China's goal to develop a harmonious society and to improve the competitiveness of its future workforce in order to overcome the challenges of an aging population and move toward a high-income society, there is an urgent need to identify...

Reports

04.29.09

Implementation Completion and Results Report: Health IX Project

World Bank
China's significant health gains during the 1960s and 1970s earned worldwide recognition. Following onset of economic reforms in the 1980s, however, the primary health care system was weakened, reducing access to both curative and preventive...

Reports

04.12.08

Denied Status, Denied Education: Children of North Korean Women in China

Human Rights Watch
This report delves into the situation of the children of undocumented North Korean refugees and Chinese nationals in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture. It explains that many children of North Korean parents are not able to be registered with...