Books

12.12.19

Betraying Big Brother

Leta Hong Fincher
Verso: On the eve of International Women’s Day in 2015, the Chinese government arrested five feminist activists and jailed them for 37 days. The Feminist Five became a global cause célèbre, with Hillary Clinton speaking out on their behalf and activists inundating social media with #FreetheFive messages. But the Five are only symbols of a much larger feminist movement of civil rights lawyers, labor activists, performance artists, and online warriors prompting an unprecedented awakening among China’s educated, urban women. In Betraying Big Brother, journalist and scholar Leta Hong Fincher argues that the popular, broad-based movement poses the greatest challenge to China’s authoritarian regime today.Through interviews with the Feminist Five and other leading Chinese activists, Hong Fincher illuminates both the difficulties they face and their “joy of betraying Big Brother,” as one of the Feminist Five wrote of the defiance she felt during her detention. Tracing the rise of a new feminist consciousness now finding expression through the #MeToo movement, and describing how the Communist regime has suppressed the history of its own feminist struggles, Betraying Big Brother is a story of how the movement against patriarchy could reconfigure China and the world.{chop}

Conversation

10.24.19

Can China’s Government Advance Its Case on Twitter?

Mia Shuang Li, Lotus Ruan & more
How successful have Chinese officials been at their use of English-language social media? Has the Chinese Party-state’s use of Facebook and Twitter been good or bad for Chinese soft power?
08.27.19

United Front Work Department’s Austrian Chapter Registers as a Foreign NGO in China

The Austria-China Peaceful Reunification Promotion Association (奥地利中国和平统一促进会) registered a representative office in China on May 29, 2019. This is particularly noteworthy not only because it is the first Austrian group to register an office under...
08.01.19

Re-Writing the Rules

Holly Snape
Against a backdrop of talk of a “new cold war” between China and the U.S., it is more important than ever for international NGOs, scholars, and policymakers to understand the dimensions of the environment in which their Chinese counterparts work. In...

China’s ‘Black Week-end’

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
When Chinese law professor Xu Zhangrun began publishing articles last year criticizing the government’s turn toward a harsher variety of authoritarianism, it seemed inevitable that he would be swiftly silenced. But then, remarkably, dozens of...

Media

06.11.19

ChinaFile Presents: Erasing History—Why Remember Tiananmen

Nicholas D. Kristof, Zha Jianying & more
On the evening of June 3, ChinaFile hosted a discussion on the Chinese government’s efforts to control, manipulate, and forestall remembrance of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 and the bloody crackdown that ended them. Participating in the...

Books

05.22.19

China’s New Red Guards

Jude Blanchette
Oxford University Press: Ever since Deng Xiaoping effectively de-radicalized China in the 1980s, there have been many debates about which path China would follow. Would it democratize? Would it embrace capitalism? Would the Communist Party’s rule be able to withstand the adoption and spread of the Internet? One debate that did not occur in any serious way, however, was whether Mao Zedong would make a political comeback.As Jude Blanchette details in China’s New Red Guards, contemporary China is undergoing a revival of an unapologetic embrace of extreme authoritarianism that draws direct inspiration from the Mao era. Under current Chinese leader Xi Jinping, state control over the economy is increasing, civil society is under sustained attack, and the Chinese Communist Party is expanding its reach in unprecedented new ways. As Xi declared in late 2017, “Government, military, society, and schools, north, south, east and west—the Party is the leader of all.”But this trend is reinforced by a bottom-up revolt against Western ideas of modernity, including political pluralism, the rule of law, and the free market economy. Centered around a cast of nationalist intellectuals and activists who have helped unleash a wave of populist enthusiasm for the Great Helmsman’s policies, China’s New Red Guards not only will reshape our understanding of the political forces driving contemporary China, it will also demonstrate how ideologies can survive and prosper despite pervasive rumors of their demise.{chop}

China: A Small Bit of Shelter

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
At night, a spotlight illuminates four huge characters on the front of the Great Temple of Promoting Goodness in Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi province in northwestern China: mi zang zong feng, “The Esoteric Repository of the Faith’s Traditions.”...

Books

04.11.19

Making China Modern

Klaus Mühlhahn
Harvard University Press: It is tempting to attribute China’s recent ascendance to changes in political leadership and economic policy. Making China Modern teaches otherwise. Moving beyond the standard framework of Cold War competition and national resurgence, Klaus Mühlhahn situates 21st-century China in the nation’s long history of creative adaptation.In the mid-18th century, when the Qing Empire reached the height of its power, China dominated a third of the world’s population and managed its largest economy. But as the Opium Wars threatened the nation’s sovereignty from without and the Taiping Rebellion ripped apart its social fabric from within, China found itself verging on free fall. A network of family relations, economic interdependence, institutional innovation, and structures of governance allowed citizens to regain their footing in a convulsing world. In China’s drive to reclaim regional centrality, its leaders looked outward as well as inward, at industrial developments and international markets offering new ways to thrive.{chop}Excerpts:“Reform and Opening: China’s Turning Point,” Los Angeles Review of Books China Channel, February 7, 2019“Can Environmental Activism Succeed in China?,” Literary Hub, January 28, 2019

‘It’s Hopeless But You Persist’: An Interview with Jiang Xue

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
The forty-five-year-old investigative journalist Jiang Xue is one of the most influential members of a group of journalists who came of age in the early 2000s, taking advantage of new—if temporary—freedoms created by the Internet to investigate...

Viewpoint

12.21.18

A Look Back at China in 2018

Kyle Hutzler
In 2018, the outlook for China regarding its politics, economy, and relationship with the United States darkened considerably. The removal of presidential term limits and Xi Jinping’s interactions with the Trump administration prompted rare...

Postcard

10.24.18

China’s Government Has Ordered a Million Citizens to Occupy Uighur Homes. Here’s What They Think They’re Doing.

Darren Byler
The village children spotted the outsiders quickly. They heard their attempted greetings in the local language, saw the gleaming Chinese flags and round face of Mao Zedong pinned to their chests, and knew just how to respond. “I love China,” the...

Viewpoint

10.17.18

‘WeChat Is Not a Land outside the Law’

David Bandurski
The second revision of the Chinese Communist Party’s internal discipline regulations in less than three years was introduced in August. The revised regulations are not dramatically different from the previous 2015 revisions. Not in the sense, at...

Books

09.30.18

Haunted by Chaos

Sulmaan Wasif Khan
Harvard University Press: Before the Chinese Communist Party came to power, China lay broken and fragmented. Today, it is a force on the global stage, and yet its leaders have continued to be haunted by the past. Drawing on an array of sources, Sulmaan Wasif Khan chronicles the grand strategies that have sought not only to protect China from aggression but also to ensure it would never again experience the powerlessness of the late Qing and Republican eras.{node, 49171}The dramatic variations in China’s modern history have obscured the commonality of purpose that binds the country’s leaders. Analyzing the calculus behind their decision making, Khan explores how they wove diplomatic, military, and economic power together to keep a fragile country safe in a world they saw as hostile. Dangerous and shrewd, Mao Zedong made China whole and succeeded in keeping it so, while the caustic, impatient Deng Xiaoping dragged China into the modern world. Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao served as cautious custodians of the Deng legacy, but the powerful and deeply insecure Xi Jinping has shown an assertiveness that has raised both fear and hope across the globe.For all their considerable costs, China’s grand strategies have been largely successful. But the country faces great challenges today. Its population is aging, its government is undermined by corruption, its neighbors are arming out of concern over its growing power, and environmental degradation threatens catastrophe. A question Haunted by Chaos raises is whether China’s time-tested approach can respond to the looming threats of the 21st century.{chop}

China Tightens Grip on Foreign University Ventures

Emily Feng
Financial Times
The directive, which took effect last year but whose existence is being revealed for the first time by the Financial Times, mandates foreign education institutions to include a clause that supports the establishment of a party organisation in any...

Conversation

08.07.18

We’re a Long Way from 2008

Kate Merkel-Hess, Maura Cunningham & more
On August 8, 2008, China’s then Chairman Hu Jintao told a group of world leaders visiting Beijing to attend the Olympics that “the historic moment we have long awaited is arriving.” Indeed, awarding the Games to China in 2001 sparked a fierce debate...

Australia’s China Reset

John Garnaut
It’s no secret that Professor Francis Fukuyama got it wrong in his classic “End of History” treatise, published in the dying days of the Cold War. More interesting is why he got it wrong. His conclusion that the Western model of...

Conversation

06.04.18

How Should the World Respond to Intensifying Repression in Xinjiang?

Rian Thum, Rachel Harris & more
Deliberate, systematic human rights abuses are happening in China’s northwest. Reporting and research published in recent weeks shows that the Chinese government is targeting the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region’s roughly 11 million Muslims for “re...

At the Height of His Power, China’s Xi Jinping Moves to Embrace Marxism

Steven Jiang
CNN
Why is President Xi Jinping, the most powerful Chinese leader in decades, presiding over a wealthy and resurgent China, embracing the philosophical ideas of Karl Marx?

Chinese Uyghurs Forced to Welcome Communist Party into Their Homes

Steven Jiang
CNN
Over a million Chinese Communist officials are being dispatched to live with local families in Xinjiang. 

Features

05.11.18

Central and Regional Leadership for Xinjiang Policy in Xi’s Second Term

Jessica Batke from China Leadership Monitor
After the 19th Party Congress last fall and the recent “two meetings” in March, the Party-state has now completed its quinquennial leadership turnover and announced a major restructuring of a number of Party and state entities. This institutional...

China: Back to the Future

Andrew J. Nathan from New York Review of Books
In 2023, Xi Jinping will conclude his second term as China’s president. Ever since Deng Xiaoping revised the country’s constitution more than 35 years ago, two consecutive terms have been the most that a president can legally serve. But it has...

One-Time Potential Rival to China’s Xi Draws Life Sentence

Josh Chin
Wall Street Journal
A former top Communist Party official once seen as a potential successor and rival to Chinese President Xi Jinping received a life sentence on corruption charges—a punishment state media portrayed as lenient.

China Guards Its Historical Heroes with New Law

Chun Han Wong
Wall Street Journal
As President Xi Jinping entrenches Communist Party rule, new law mandates ‘all of society’ honor its heroes and martyrs.

The Chinese Communist Party Is Setting Up Cells at Universities Across America

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
Foreign Policy
It’s a strategy to tighten ideological control. And it’s happening around the world.

Viewpoint

04.16.18

Has Xi Jinping Changed China? Not Really

Teng Biao
Xi Jinping has had an eventful early spring. After he abolished presidential term limits and was unanimously elected—if it can be called an election—to serve another term in that post, Xi got the world’s attention again by holding a meeting with Kim...

One-Time Potential Rival to China’s Xi Pleads Guilty to Corruption

Chun Han Wong
Wall Street Journal
A purged Communist Party politician once regarded as a future Chinese leader stood trial on corruption charges in a case seen as part of an effort by President Xi Jinping to neutralize potential political rivals.

Conversation

04.11.18

China’s Communist Party Takes (Even More) Control of the Media

Stanley Rosen, Chris Fenton & more
China’s Communist Party made moves last month to solidify and formalize its (already substantial) control over the country’s media. China’s main state-run broadcasters are to be consolidated into a massive new “Voice of China” under the management...

Viewpoint

03.15.18

Who Really Haunts Xi Jinping, Mao or Gorbachev?

Jessica Batke
Last week, the Chinese National People’s Congress removed Presidential and Vice-Presidential term limits, effectively allowing current President (and Chinese Communist Party General Secretary) Xi Jinping to stay in power beyond the two terms that...

Chairman Xi, Chinese Idol

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
For nearly sixty years since it opened in 1959, the Great Hall of the People has been the public focus of Chinese politics, a monumental granite block that extends 1,200 feet along the west side of Tiananmen Square. It is where the country’s leaders...

Excerpts

03.12.18

A Chinese Mayor-to-Be Tells His Story

Zak Dychtwald
When I lived with Tom in the city of Chengdu in 2015 and into 2016, he was a 23-year-old probationary member of the Chinese Communist Party, on his way to joining the organization’s nearly 90 million full members. He wanted to embark on a career in...

Books

03.09.18

End of an Era

Carl Minzner
Oxford University Press: Since the 1990s, Beijing’s leaders have firmly rejected any fundamental reform of their authoritarian one-party political system, even as a decades-long boom has reshaped China’s economy and society. On the surface, their efforts have been a success. Political turmoil has toppled former communist Eastern Bloc regimes, internal unrest overtaken Middle East nations, and populist movements risen to challenge established Western democracies. China, in contrast, has appeared a relative haven of stability and growth.But as Carl Minzner shows, a closer look at China’s reform era reveals a different truth. Over the past three decades, a frozen political system has fueled both the rise of entrenched interests within the Communist Party itself and the systematic underdevelopment of institutions of governance among state and society at large. Economic cleavages have widened. Social unrest has worsened. Ideological polarization has deepened.{node, 45901}Now, to address these looming problems, China’s leaders are progressively cannibalizing institutional norms and practices that have formed the bedrock of the regime’s stability in the reform era. Technocratic rule is giving way to black-box purges; collective governance sliding back towards single-man rule. The post-1978 era of “reform and opening up” is ending. China is closing down. Uncertainty hangs in the air as a new future slouches towards Beijing to be born. End of an Era explains how China arrived at this dangerous turning point, and outlines the potential outcomes that could result. {chop}

Xi Jinping Says China’s Authoritarian System Can Be a Model for the World

Zheping Huang
Quartz
Chinese president Xi Jinping has repeatedly told the world that China is ready to lead on issues like free trade and climate change.

Excerpts

03.08.18

Reversing Reform

Carl Minzner
Political stability, ideological openness, and rapid economic growth were the hallmarks of China’s post-1978 reform era. But they are ending. China is entering a new era—the counter-reform era.

New Chinese Agency Could Undercut Other Anti-Corruption Efforts

Dimitar Gueorguiev and Jonathan...
Brookings Institution
China’s National People’s Congress is expected to ratify legislation during the next two weeks to create a new supra-agency, the National Supervision Commission, to institutionalize President Xi Jinping’s signature anti-corruption campaign as a...

An Anbang-Linked Revolutionary Heir Dies in China. Speculation Begins.

Josh Chin and Eva Dou
Wall Street Journal
The sudden death of a revolutionary scion linked to troubled Chinese insurer Anbang Insurance Group Co. is reverberating through China’s battered private business community.

Viewpoint

03.01.18

Maybe the Law Does Actually Matter to Xi Jinping

Taisu Zhang
The February 25 announcement that the Chinese Communist Party (C.C.P.) has proposed a constitutional amendment that would remove term limits on the office of the presidency is arguably the most significant Chinese political and legal development in...

Conversation

02.25.18

Xi Won’t Go

Richard McGregor, Taisu Zhang & more
In a surprise Sunday move, Beijing announced that the Communist Party leadership wants to abolish the two-term limit for China’s president and vice president, potentially paving the way for China’s 64-year-old President Xi Jinping to stay in power...

China Hands out Free TVs to Beam Propaganda into Poorest Regions

Neil Connor
Telegraph
China is distributing 300,000 television sets to some of its poorest regions as Beijing seeks to spread its propaganda into some of the country's most hard to reach households...

Conversation

02.15.18

Is American Policy toward China Due for a ‘Reckoning’?

Charles Edel, Elizabeth Economy & more
Former diplomats Kurt M. Campbell and Ely Ratner argue that United States policy toward China, in administrations of both parties, has relied in the past on a mistaken confidence in America’s ability to “mold China to the United States’ liking.”...

“Shameless” and “Two-Faced”: China’s Astonishing Rebuke of Its Former Internet Czar

Zheping Huang
Quartz
China’s former internet czar was expelled from the Communist Party and will be prosecuted for corruption, the party’s top graft-busting agency said yesterday (Feb. 13).

Former Chongqing Party Chief Charged with Bribery in China

Edward White
Financial Times
A former top Chinese official once tipped as a potential successor to Xi Jinping has been charged with corruption, state media reported on Tuesday.

Exclusive: China to Name Harvard-Trained Liu He as Vice Premier Overseeing Economy - Sources

Reuters
China is set to name Liu He, a Harvard-trained economist who advises President Xi Jinping, as a vice premier overseeing the economy and financial sector, five sources familiar with the development said.

Viewpoint

01.19.18

China’s Leaders Are Poised to Strike a Blow to Its Legal System

Stanley Lubman
President Xi Jinping has escalated China’s war on corruption with a proposed new law that would expand the reach of the Party in an unprecedented manner. Under current law, two formally separate entities deal with cases of corruption: A Party...

The Red Emperor

Roderick MacFarquhar from New York Review of Books
This fall, the Nineteenth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (C.C.P.) gave proof that during his five years as general secretary Xi Jinping has become the most powerful leader of China since Mao Zedong died in 1976. Most observers, Chinese and...

China's Social Media Giants Want Their Users to Help out with the Crushing Burden of Censorship

Quartz
China’s social media giants are ramping up efforts to get their users to turn in people circulating taboo content, as the Communist Party further tightens its grip on the country’s internet.

Chinese ‘Generation Zen’ Millennials Choosing Smartphones over Communist Values

Jamie Fullerton
Telegraph
China’s ruling communist party is concerned that swathes of politically apathetic millennials, branded the ‘Zen-generation’, are sauntering through life in a passive and unpatriotic way - raising doubts about their loyalty to the Chinese Communist...

China to USA: 'Stop Deliberately Distorting' Our Global Strategy

CNBC
China hit back at the U.S. after it branded the East Asian giant a competitor, accusing it of distorting the country's intentions and adopting a "Cold War" mentality...

China Shrugs off Debt Worries as Xi Takes Firmer Economic Grip

New York Times
It’s Xi Jinping’s economy now, and he isn’t too worried about debt.

Media

12.07.17

Could Truman Have Worked With Mao?

Kevin Peraino, Matt Schiavenza & more
In the early months of 1949, it became increasingly clear that Mao Zedong’s Communists would win the Chinese civil war. This presented U.S. President Harry S. Truman with an unappetizing set of choices. He could either acknowledge the Communist...

Books

11.30.17

Finding Women in the State

Wang Zheng
Finding Women in the State is a provocative hidden history of socialist state feminists maneuvering behind the scenes at the core of the Chinese Communist Party. These women worked to advance gender and class equality in the early People’s Republic and fought to transform sexist norms and practices, all while facing fierce opposition from a male-dominated Chinese Communist Party leadership, from the local level to the central level. Wang Zheng extends this investigation to the cultural realm, showing how feminists within China’s film industry were working to actively create new cinematic heroines, and how they continued a New Culture anti-patriarchy heritage in socialist film production. This book illuminates not only the different visions of revolutionary transformation but also the dense entanglements among those in the top echelon of the Party. Wang discusses the causes for failure of China’s socialist revolution and raises fundamental questions about male dominance in social movements that aim to pursue social justice and equality. This is the first book engendering the People’s Republic of China high politics and has important theoretical and methodological implications for scholars and students working in gender studies as well as China studies. —University of California Press{chop}

China Jails yet Another Human Rights Lawyer in Ongoing Crackdown on Dissent

Emily Rauhala and Simon Denyer
Washington Post
Jiang Tianyong, 46, is the latest lawyer known for defending government critics to be jailed. More than 200 have been detained over the last two years in the ongoing crackdown on criticism in China.

Behind the Scenes, Communist Strategist Presses China’s Rise

Jane Perlez
New York Times
He was a brilliant student during the dark days of China’s Cultural Revolution. He visited America, and left unimpressed with democracy. Plucked from academia, he climbed the ladder of Beijing’s brutal politics.

Viewpoint

11.10.17

Bathed in the Xi Jinping Bromance

Orville Schell
Sitting in a grand salon of the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square and awaiting the official arrival ceremony of President Trump was to be taken back to that period of Sino-Soviet amity when Stalin was Mao’s “big brother” and the Chinese...

Trump's Visit to China Provides a Propaganda Bonanza

New York Times
#TrumpHasArrived! The Chinese news media broke out the hashtags this week as soon as Air Force One landed in Beijing, delivering both President Trump and an irresistible propaganda opportunity for President Xi Jinping of China.

While We Obsess over Trump, China Is Making History

Fareed Zakaria
Washington Post
While news and analysis in the United States continue to be obsessed with President Trump’s daily antics and insults, halfway around the world, something truly historic just happened

Ex-Spy on What His CIA Experience Taught Him about China

Steve Inskeep
NPR
Randy Phillips spent 28 years with the CIA, most recently serving as the chief CIA representative in China. He talks about what leverage the U.S. has when it comes to managing China's ambitions...

Conversation

10.27.17

What’s the Takeaway from the 19th Party Congress?

Jessica Batke, Peter Mattis & more
The day after the Party Congress ended on October 24, Xi Jinping strode across the stage of the massive Great Hall of the People with the six newly announced members of the 19th Politburo Standing Committee, the body that rules China. What might...

Why Trump's Fawning over China's Xi Jinping Probably Won't Work

John Cassidy
New Yorker
A couple of weeks ago, The Economist put a drawing of Xi Jinping, the President of China, on its cover under a headline that said “The world’s most powerful man.” In an editorial in the same issue, the editors acknowledged that China is still no...

The Rise of China's Xi Jinping Told in Six Front Pages

Washington Post
The People’s Daily is the official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, its front pages offering as clear a window as we can get into the message the party leadership want to transmit to its members.