Viewpoint

08.28.17

China Is Risking the Lives of Political Prisoners by Denying Them Medical Care

Frances Eve
Dissident activist Chen Xi entered Xingyi Prison in Guangxi in January 2012 to serve a 10-year sentence. The previous month, he had been convicted of “inciting subversion of state power” for writing articles about human rights and democracy. This...

Conversation

08.17.17

Political Prisoners in Hong Kong

Jerome A. Cohen, Alvin Y.H. Cheung & more
On August 17, a Hong Kong appeals court sentenced student democracy activists Joshua Wong, Alex Chow, and Nathan Law to six to eight months imprisonment. The three had earlier been convicted of crimes related to unlawful assembly during a...

When the Law Meets the Party

Ian Johnson
Like an army defeated but undestroyed, China’s decades-long human rights movement keeps reassembling its lines after each disastrous loss, miraculously fielding new forces in the battle against an illiberal state. Each time, foot soldiers and...

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

08.03.17

China’s ‘New Achievements’ in Legal Reform Exist More in Policy than in Practice

Stanley Lubman
It is no coincidence that two days after Liu Xiaobo’s death, Xinhua published an article praising China’s “new achievements in judicial protection of human rights.” The judicial reforms the article mentions have not yet been fully implemented and...

China Chatbot Goes Rogue: ‘Do You Love the Communist Party?’ ‘No’

Louise Lucas, Nicolle Liu, and Yingzhi...
Financial Times
Two chatbots with decidedly non-socialist characteristics were pulled from one of China’s most popular messaging apps after serving up unpatriotic answers about topics including the South China Sea and the Communist party.

Sinica Podcast

07.19.17

Guo Wengui: The Extraordinary Tale of a Chinese Billionaire Turned Dissident

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more
The life and times of Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui reads much like an epic play, so it is fitting that we have included with this podcast a dramatis personæ to explain the many characters in Guo’s story. Scroll to the bottom, below the...

Conversation

07.14.17

Liu Xiaobo, 1955-2017

Perry Link, Thomas Kellogg & more
When news this morning reached us that Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo had died, we invited all past contributors to the ChinaFile Conversation to reflect on his life and on his death. Liu died, still in state-custody, eight years into his 11-...

Liu Xiaobo: The Man Who Stayed

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
In 1898, some of China’s most brilliant minds allied themselves with the Emperor Guangxu, a young ruler who was trying to assert himself by forcing through reforms to open up China’s political, economic, and educational systems. But opponents...

Excerpts

07.13.17

Liu Xiaobo’s Three Refusals: No Enemies, No Hatred, No Lies

Orville Schell & John Delury
In the spring of 1989, Liu Xiaobo was a thirty-four-year-old professor of literature and philosophy at Beijing Normal University with a keen interest in political ideas, who when demonstrations broke out, quickly became a habitué of Tiananmen...

Viewpoint

07.13.17

The Chinese Think Liu Xiaobo Was Asking For It

James Palmer from Foreign Policy
Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and Chinese dissident writer, is dying of liver cancer. He’s been in prison since 2009, his “crime” being the publication of a charter calling for political reform. But he’s not a hero to his countrymen. Most...

The Passion of Liu Xiaobo

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
In the late 1960s Mao Zedong, China’s Great Helmsman, encouraged children and adolescents to confront their teachers and parents, root out “cow ghosts and snake spirits,” and otherwise “make revolution.” In practice, this meant closing China’s...

Liu Xiaobo: German Anger at China over Hospital Videos

BBC
Germany has issued a sharp rebuke to China after videos of Western doctors visiting ailing Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in hospital were posted online.

Liu Xiaobo Vigil: Doctors Tell Chinese Nobel Laureate’s Family to Prepare for His Death

Mimi Lau
South China Morning Post
Family and friends of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo are keeping vigil after doctors warned that the dissident’s condition had worsened.

Tycoon’s Claims Reverberate in China Despite Censorship and Thin Evidence

Chris Buckley
New York Times
Since taking office, President Xi Jinping has cultivated an aura of austere probity and stern control. But now a garrulous billionaire living in a lavish apartment in Manhattan, taunting the authorities beyond the easy grasp of Chinese security...

Liu Xiaobo: China Tells U.S. not to Interfere Over Jailed Dissident

BBC
BBC
Beijing has hit back at Washington for "irresponsible remarks" after the US criticised its treatment of Chinese Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo...

U.S. Presses China to Free Activists Scrutinizing Ivanka Trump Shoe Factory

Keith Bradsher
New York Times
Experts warned that the detentions could make it more difficult for other Western companies to take a clear look at the practices of their Chinese suppliers.

Yahoo Is Sued over $17 Million Fund for Chinese Dissidents

Andrew Jacobs
New York Times
A group of Chinese political activists filed a lawsuit in federal court against Yahoo on Tuesday, saying the company failed to properly oversee a $17 million fund it created a decade ago to help Chinese dissidents

Wife of Detained Activist from Taiwan Is Barred from China

Chris Horton
New York Times
China’s Ministry of Public Security has barred the wife of a detained Taiwan-born rights activist from flying to Beijing on Monday, adding to the drama surrounding the man’s disappearance after he entered China more than three weeks ago.

State Department Aide Charged for Hiding Gifts from Chinese Agents

Josh Gerstein
Politico
A veteran State Department employee who held a Top Secret clearance and did three tours in China is facing criminal charges for allegedly covering up tens of thousands of dollars in gifts she and an associate took from Chinese agents.

Australian Vote on Extradition Treaty With China Is Canceled

Amien Cave
New York Times
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull canceled a parliamentary vote to ratify an extradition treaty with China on Tuesday after opposition lawmakers said they would not support it

Taiwan Democracy Activist Said To Be Detained in China

Fox News
People close to a Taiwanese pro-democracy activist say he went missing nine days ago during a visit to the Chinese territory of Macau and appears to be in Chinese custody.

China Bars Professor at Australian University From Leaving, Lawyer Says

Chris Buckley
New York Times
A Chinese-born professor at an Australian university who has often criticized Beijing’s crackdown on political dissent has been barred from leaving China and is being questioned by state security officers as a suspected threat to national security,...

Eleven Countries Signed a Letter Slamming China for Torturing Lawyers. The U.S. Did Not.

Simon Denyer
Washington Post
When 11 embassies signed on to a joint letter criticizing China over “credible claims” that lawyers and human rights activists have been tortured while in detention, there were two notable abstentions.

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...

A Human Rights Activist, A Secret Prison and A Tale from Xi Jinping’s New China

Tom Phillips
Guardian
Peter Dahlin spent 23 days in a ‘black prison’ in Beijing, where he says he was deprived of sleep and questioned with a ‘communication enhancement’ machine.

How Tibet Is Being Crushed—While the Dalai Lama Survives

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
If you read every page of Tsering Woeser’s latest book and skip the first and last chapters of Tsering Topgyal’s, the ultimate message about the situation in Tibet is often the same. Chinese rule, writes Woeser, is no less than “ethnic oppression,”...

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...

New Interpol Head is Chinese Former Deputy Head of Paramilitary Police

Benjamin Haas
Guardian
Vice-minister Meng Hongwei’s election has sparked concerns his position may be used to boost China’s campaign to pursue dissidents around the globe

China: A Life in Detention

Yang Zhanqing from New York Review of Books
Every year in China, thousands of people suffer what the United Nations calls “arbitrary detention”: confinement in extra-legal facilities—including former government buildings, hotels, or mental hospitals—which are sometimes known as “black jails...

‘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...

Media

09.14.16

The Chinese Democratic Experiment that Never Was

David Wertime
Protesters in southern China are up in arms. They feel that Beijing’s promises that they’d be able to vote for their own local leaders have been honored in the breach. They’re outraged at the show of force in the face of peaceful protest, and...

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...

Viewpoint

09.01.16

How to Deal With China’s Human Rights Abuses

Sophie Richardson
When world leaders touch down in early September in the city of Hangzhou for this year’s G20 leaders’ summit, which China will they see? The one of glossy skylines, enviable growth statistics, and perfectly choreographed diplomatic exchanges? Or the...

Excerpts

08.18.16

Why an Elite Chinese Student Decided Not to Join the Communist Party

Alec Ash
“Wish Lanterns” follows the lives of six Chinese born between 1985 and 1990 as they grow up, go to school, and pursue their aspirations. Millennials are a transformational generation in China, heralding key societal and cultural shifts, and they are...

Week of TV Trials in China Signals New Phase in Attack on Rights

Chris Buckley
New York Times
Legal experts and supporters of four defendants denounced the hearings, held on consecutive days in Tianjin, a port city near Beijing, as grotesque show trials.

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...

The Heritage of a Great Man

Freeman Dyson from New York Review of Books
Why did communism grow deep roots and survive in China, while it withered and died in Russia? This is one of the central questions of modern history. A plausible answer to the question is that communism in China resonated with the two-thousand-year-...

With Hong Kong Booksellers Silenced, China Now Goes after Exiled Dissidents

Simon Denyer
Washington Post
Dissidents in the U.S. and Germany said relatives in China were detained to investigate the anonymous letter asking Xi to resign.

Chinese Activist in N.Y. Says Beijing Officials 'Abducted' His Parents and Brother

Los Angeles Times
An influential Communist Party critic with more than 220,000 Twitter followers said authorities detained his family in Guangdong.

Excerpts

03.22.16

Beyond ‘Chicken or Beef’ Choices in China Debates

Jeffrey Wasserstrom
Growing up in California with no special interest in China, one of the few things I associated with the big country across the Pacific was mix-and-match meal creation. On airplanes and in school cafeterias, you just had “chicken or beef” choices,...

Features

03.21.16

A Thousand Yes-Men Cannot Equal One Honest Advisor

Several cadre leaders have been punished for breaking the law, and nearly all of them have said: There isn’t enough internal supervision and no one warned me; if there’d been someone there whispering in my ear, I wouldn’t have committed such grave...

Conversation

03.21.16

Cracks in Xi Jinping’s Fortress?

Andrew J. Nathan, Rana Mitter & more
Two remarkable documents emerged from China last week—the essay “A Thousand Yes-Men Cannot Equal One Honest Advisor,” which appeared on the website of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, and an open letter calling for Xi Jinping’s...

Obama to Veto Bill to Rename Washington Street After Jailed China Dissident

Simon Denyer
Washington Post
Liu Xiaobo, who in 2009 was sentenced to 11 years in jail on charges of inciting state subversion.

Q. and A.: Bei Ling on the Missing Hong Kong Booksellers

Luo Siling
New York Times
The disappearance of five Hong Kong booksellers in recent months has attracted international attention 

Viewpoint

12.30.15

No, Pu Zhiqiang’s Release Is Not A Victory

Hu Yong
Pu Zhiqiang is a well-known Chinese human rights lawyer and outspoken intellectual who has taken on many precedent-setting cases defending freedom and protecting civil liberties. But his outstanding contributions in the judicial realm and his...

The Hard Reality Behind China’s Soft Power

Hannah Beech
Time
Even as China burnishes its image overseas, the Communist Party conducts brutal suppression of civil liberties at home.

Viewpoint

11.30.15

Court in China Adds Last-Minute Charge Against Rights Leader During Sentencing

Yaxue Cao from China Change
On August 8, 2013, Guo Feixiong (real name Yang Maodong) was arrested and then indicted on charges of “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place.” The heavy sentence came as a shock to everyone following the case. More shockingly, the...

Why 2,500-Year-Old Tale Gives Ma Hope for Chinese Democracy

Adela Lin Chris Anstey
Bloomberg
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou said history gives him hope for political change on the Communist-ruled mainland.

China Insists to U.N. That It’s Combating Torture

NICK CUMMING-BRUCE
New York Times
Senior Chinese officials dismissed allegations of the widespread use of torture.

Thailand Deports 2 Dissidents to China, Rights Groups Say

CHRIS BUCKLEY
New York Times
The groups denounced the act, by the Thai authorities, as a betrayal of the two men’s right to flee feared political persecution and torture.

China Faces Sharp Questioning by U.N. Panel on Torture

NICK CUMMING-BRUCE
New York Times
“China has made further progress in its legal development and human rights protection.”

Rights Lawyers in China Routinely Face Abuse, Report Says

JAVIER C. HERNÁNDEZ
New York Times
Legal activists and those suspected of crimes in China are routinely abused and mistreated at the hands of law enforcement officials.

Media

10.29.15

Ai Weiwei Doesn’t Need Anyone to Give Him Legos

James Palmer
The noted Chinese artist and perennial dissident Ai Weiwei recently announced that Lego, a Denmark-based company, had refused his request to purchase more than a million of the tiny toy bricks for an Australian display of his work “Trace,” a...

Human Rights: What Is China Accused of?

Camila Ruz
BBC
China's human rights record has been criticised for years...

How A 16-Year-Old Found Himself Caught Up in China’s Latest Crackdown

Emily Rauhala
Washington Post
He is not a lawyer, or a dissident. He is a 16-year-old with a bowl-cut fringe.

Rights Group Demands Chinese Supporters of Hong Kong Democracy Be Freed

CLARE BALDWIN
Reuters
Amnesty International called for the release of eight mainland Chinese activists.