China’s Communist Party Has Come of Age – the West Should Wake Up

Richard McGregor
Guardian
The Chinese Communist party congress displayed all the qualities beloved by Leninist institutions over the ages, of deep secrecy mixed with stern pageantry, leveraged in the service of reinforcing their leaders’ inviolate right to rule.

Viewpoint

10.20.17

Mao Wished He Could Upend the World Order. Does Xi?

Sergey Radchenko
In his October 18 speech opening the 19th Party Congress, Chinese Communist Party Secretary Xi Jinping cautiously embraced the future. Eyeing thousands of Party delegates, Xi spoke for three-and-a-half hours about turning China into a “great modern...

The Communist Party Ghostwriters Who Wrote the Book on Xi Jinping

Jun Mai
South China Morning Post
The call came in 2015. He Yiting, a vice-chairman of the training ground for top Communist Party cadres, was given a mission that would take the next two years of his life.

China’s Top Graft Buster Attacks ‘Unhealthy’ Political Culture

Reuters
China’s top graft-buster launched a scathing attack on the ruling Communist Party’s members on Monday, writing that party political culture remained ‘unhealthy’ and governance weak even after five years of renewed effort to fight the problem.

Books

05.08.17

The Souls of China

Ian Johnson
From journalist Ian Johnson, a revelatory portrait of religion in China today—its history, the spiritual traditions of its Eastern and Western faiths, and the ways in which it is influencing China’s future.The Souls of China tells the story of one of the world’s great spiritual revivals. Following a century of violent anti-religious campaigns, China is now filled with new temples, churches, and mosques—as well as cults, sects, and politicians trying to harness religion for their own ends. Driving this explosion of faith is uncertainty over what it means to be Chinese and how to live an ethical life in a country that discarded traditional morality a century ago and is searching for new guideposts.Johnson first visited China in 1984. In the 1990s, he helped run a charity to rebuild Daoist temples, and in 2001 he won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the suppression of the Falun Gong spiritual movement. While researching this book, he lived for extended periods with underground church members, rural Daoists, and Buddhist pilgrims. Along the way, he learned esoteric meditation techniques, visited a nonagenarian Confucian sage, and befriended government propagandists as they fashioned a remarkable embrace of traditional values. He has distilled these experiences into a cycle of festivals, births, deaths, detentions, and struggle—a great awakening of faith that is shaping the soul of the world’s newest superpower. —Pantheon{chop}

Outrage as Hong Kong Democracy Campaigners Urge U.S. to Get Tough with Beijing

Ng Kang-chung
South China Morning Post
The central government has accused Hong Kong’s highest-profile democracy campaigners of involvement in foreign meddling in China’s internal affairs by addressing a U.S. congressional panel on Wednesday night.

Books

04.05.17

China’s Crony Capitalism

Minxin Pei
When Deng Xiaoping launched China on the path to economic reform in the late 1970s, he vowed to build “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” More than three decades later, China’s efforts to modernize have yielded something very different from the working people’s paradise Deng envisioned: an incipient kleptocracy, characterized by endemic corruption, soaring income inequality, and growing social tensions. China’s Crony Capitalism traces the origins of China’s present-day troubles to the series of incomplete reforms from the post-Tiananmen era that decentralized the control of public property without clarifying its ownership.Beginning in the 1990s, changes in the control and ownership rights of state-owned assets allowed well-connected government officials and businessmen to amass huge fortunes through the systematic looting of state-owned property—in particular land, natural resources, and assets in state-run enterprises. Mustering compelling evidence from over two hundred corruption cases involving government and law enforcement officials, private businessmen, and organized crime members, Minxin Pei shows how collusion among elites has spawned an illicit market for power inside the party-state, in which bribes and official appointments are surreptitiously but routinely traded. This system of crony capitalism has created a legacy of criminality and entrenched privilege that will make any movement toward democracy difficult and disorderly.Rejecting conventional platitudes about the resilience of Chinese Communist Party rule, Pei gathers unambiguous evidence that beneath China’s facade of ever-expanding prosperity and power lies a Leninist state in an advanced stage of decay. —Harvard University Press{chop}

Books

02.16.17

Chinese Theology

Chloë Starr
In this groundbreaking and authoritative study, Chloë Starr explores key writings of Chinese Christian intellectuals, from philosophical dialogues of the late imperial era to micro-blogs of pastors in the 21st century. Through a series of close textual readings, she sheds new light on such central issues in Chinese theology as Christian identity and the evolving question of how Christians should relate to society and state.Reading these texts in their socio-political and traditional literary contexts, Starr opens a new conversation about the nature of Chinese theology and the challenge it offers to a broad understanding of how theology is created and contextualized. Concentrating on those theologians who have engaged most actively with their cultural and political milieus, Starr argues throughout her readings, as she examines how Chinese literary traditions and reading patterns have shaped Chinese theology, that text is as important as context. —Yale University Press{chop}

Castro’s Death a Reminder in China of Changed Communist Axis

Gerry Shih Associated Press
Washington Post
China and Cuba frequently nod to their shared ideological history, but relations revolve more around developing beach resorts or Chinese telecoms investments

Russia Welcomes Growing Wave of “Red Tourists” from China

Amie Ferris-Rotman
Wall Street Journal
Nostalgia for Communist past as well as capitalist bargain-hunting draw more Chinese visitors

Li Keqiang Becomes First Chinese Premier to Visit Cuba

Catherine Putz
Diplomat
The world’s largest and smallest communist states have had stable relations for years.

Brexit Is Providing Great Fodder for China's Communist Propaganda Machine

Josh Horwitz
Quartz
Brexit is concrete evidence that democratic decision-making can lead to catastrophic results.

Viewpoint

03.24.16

German President Joachim Gauck’s Speech at Tongji University in Shanghai

from Der Bundespräsident
On Wednesday, March 23, German President Joachim Gauck addressed an audience of university students in Shanghai. Among many views not typically aired in public in China, Gauck, a former Luterhan minister and anti-communist organizer, told the crowd...

Lenin’s Chinese Heirs

Evan A. Feigenbaum and Damien Ma
Foreign Affairs
For Xi, Politics Comes First and Economy Second.

Conversation

08.25.15

Is the Bloom Off the Rose of China’s Economic Miracle?

Arthur R. Kroeber, David Schlesinger & more
On Monday, August 24, the Shanghai Composite Index dropped 8.5 percent, its second such steep fall since late July, and its worst since 2007. On Tuesday, stocks fell an additional 7.6 percent. The steep slide translates into more than $4 trillion in...

Media

03.25.15

Was Lee Kuan Yew an Inspiration or a Race Traitor? Chinese Can’t Agree

Rachel Lu
When Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of Singapore, passed away at the ripe age of 91 on March 23, the elderly statesman was as controversial in death as in life—and nowhere was the debate more vigorous than in China. While state media was full of...

Conversation

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,...

Viewpoint

12.16.14

Why Marx Still Matters: The Ideological Drivers of Chinese Politics

Rogier Creemers
In days of greater political brouhaha, “to go and see Marx” used to be a slang expression among Chinese Communists, to refer to death. More recently, a considerable number of commentators have pronounced the expiry of Marxism itself. China’s reform...

25 Years Later, Lessons From Tiananmen Square Crackdown

Melinda Liu
National Geographic
A quarter century after democracy protests ended in bloodshed, Chinese still clamor for clean government and courts.

Sinica Podcast

05.10.14

Initial Impressions: Three First Trips to China, 1970s-1990s

Jeremy Goldkorn, Geremie R. Barmé & more from Sinica Podcast
In this show: dating tips for hooking up with your Marxist-Leninist thought instructor, advice on what modern music and seasonal vegetables to smuggle in from Hong Kong, the origins of China’s somewhat unorthodox driving customs, and instructions on...

Sinica Podcast

04.07.14

In Conversation with Timothy Garton Ash

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn are pleased to host a conversation with Timothy Garton Ash, Professor of History at Oxford University and recent participant in the Capital M Literary Festival in Beijing. As one the world's...

China Bans Professor From Teaching Over His Advocacy of Constitution

Andrew Mytelka
Chronicle of Higher Education
The crackdown on Zhang Xuezhong is part of a broader stiffening of ideological control in the country’s universities as faculty and students grow skeptical of required courses in Communist ideology. 

Books

07.02.13

Wealth and Power

Orville Schell and John Delury
Through a series of lively and absorbing portraits of iconic modern Chinese leaders and thinkers, two of today’s foremost specialists on China provide a panoramic narrative of this country’s rise to preeminence that is at once analytical and personal. How did a nation, after a long and painful period of dynastic decline, intellectual upheaval, foreign occupation, civil war, and revolution, manage to burst forth onto the world stage with such an impressive run of hyperdevelopment and wealth creation—culminating in the extraordinary dynamism of China today?Wealth and Power answers this question by examining the lives of eleven influential officials, writers, activists, and leaders whose contributions helped create modern China. This fascinating survey begins in the lead-up to the first Opium War with Wei Yuan, the nineteenth-century scholar and reformer who was one of the first to urge China to borrow ideas from the West. It concludes in our time with human-rights advocate and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, an outspoken opponent of single-party rule. Along the way, we meet such titans of Chinese history as the Empress Dowager Cixi, public intellectuals Feng Guifen, Liang Qichao, and Chen Duxiu, Nationalist stalwarts Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek, and Communist Party leaders Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, and Zhu Rongji.{node, 3592}The common goal that unites all of these disparate figures is their determined pursuit of fuqiang, “wealth and power.” This abiding quest for a restoration of national greatness in the face of a “century of humiliation” at the hands of the Great Powers came to define the modern Chinese character. It’s what drove both Mao and Deng to embark on root-and-branch transformations of Chinese society, first by means of Marxism-Leninism, then by authoritarian capitalism. And this determined quest remains the key to understanding many of China’s actions today.By unwrapping the intellectual antecedents of today’s resurgent China, Orville Schell and John Delury supply much-needed insight into the country’s tortured progression from nineteenth-century decline to twenty-first-century boom. By looking backward into the past to understand forces at work for hundreds of years, they help us understand China today and the future that this singular country is helping shape for all of us. —Random House

China: Politics as Warfare

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
Mao’s Invisible Hand is one of those books that make one feel good about scholarship. It describes inner workings of Chinese Communist society about which few nonexperts know anything—it may even surprise the experts—and it will interest anyone...

Books

02.09.12

Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World

Rebecca E. Karl
Throughout this lively and concise historical account of Mao Zedong’s life and thought, Rebecca E. Karl places the revolutionary leader’s personal experiences, social visions and theory, military strategies, and developmental and foreign policies in a dynamic narrative of the Chinese revolution. She situates Mao and the revolution in a global setting informed by imperialism, decolonization, and third worldism, and discusses worldwide trends in politics, the economy, military power, and territorial sovereignty.Karl begins with Mao’s early life in a small village in Hunan province, documenting his relationships with his parents, passion for education, and political awakening during the fall of the Qing dynasty in late 1911. She traces his transition from liberal to Communist over the course of the next decade, his early critiques of the subjugation of women, and the gathering force of the May 4th movement for reform and radical change. Describing Mao’s rise to power, she delves into the dynamics of Communist organizing in an overwhelmingly agrarian society, and Mao’s confrontations with Chiang Kai-shek and other nationalist conservatives. She also considers his marriages and romantic liaisons and their relation to Mao as the revolutionary founder of Communism in China. After analyzing Mao’s stormy tenure as chairman of the People’s Republic of China, Karl concludes by examining his legacy in China from his death in 1976 through the Beijing Olympics in 2008. —Duke University Press

China: The Shame of the Villages

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
1.Published fifteen years ago, Chinese Village, Socialist State, as I wrote at the time, not only contained a more telling account of Chinese rural life than any other I had read; it also produced a new understanding “of the methods by which the...

China: The Uses of Fear

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
Instilling deadly fear throughout the population was one of Mao Zedong’s lasting contributions to China since the late Twenties. In the case of Dai Qing, one of China’s sharpest critics before 1989, fear seems to explain the sad transformation in...

Chinese Shadows

Ian Buruma from New York Review of Books
There are many reasons for getting tattooed. But a sense of belonging—to a group, a faith, or a person—is key. As a mark of identification a tattoo is more lasting than a passport. This is not always voluntary. In Japan, criminals used to have the...

The Anatomy of Collapse

Roderick MacFarquhar from New York Review of Books
In Moscow, 1991, as in Beijing in 1989, eight hard liners made a last-ditch stand to preserve communism. Yet in both cases, the Communist party was left on the sidelines and no appeal was made for support in the name of Communist doctrine. Politics...

Why China’s Rulers Fear Democracy

John K. Fairbank from New York Review of Books
To try to understand is not to condone or forgive. Quite the contrary. In this bicentennial year when a euphoria for democratic rights seemed to be sweeping the world, why was it stopped in Tiananmen Square? Why do China’s rulers attack their...

The Price China Has Paid: An Interview with Liu Binyan

Nathan Gardels from New York Review of Books
Liu Binyan is a sixty-two-year-old writer and journalist who is regarded as the preeminent intellectual advocating reform in China today. During the mid-1950s and again throughout the post-Mao period, he has strongly criticized Communist party...

Chinese Shadows: Bureaucracy, Happiness, History

Simon Leys from New York Review of Books
In the sixth century BC, at the time the Tso Chuan refers to, China’s social hierarchy had only ten degrees. We have progressed since then: the Maoist bureaucracy today has thirty hierarchical classes, each with specific privileges and prerogatives...

Environment

08.12.71

North Vietnam and China: Reflections on a Visit

Martin Bernal
Early this year I went to Hanoi by way of China. After spending a week in Peking I went to North Vietnam for just over a month and then returned to China, where I stayed in Changsha and Canton for two weeks. Later I spent three and a half weeks in...