Viewpoint

11.14.19

Violence by Hong Kong Protesters Won’t Advance Their Cause

Thomas Kellogg
I have watched with growing concern as violence has intensified in Hong Kong. I have been deeply dismayed to see escalating police violence, which has fundamentally damaged the reputation of a police force once known as among Asia’s best. And I have...

Postcard

10.17.19

‘If We Give up on Our Husbands Today, Tomorrow Our Children Will Be Ashamed of Us’

Jiang Xue
This is a story about fear and the attempt to conquer fear. The wives of some of the lawyers who disappeared in China’s “709” crackdown have suffered house arrest, threats, and suppression. In their search to find their husbands, they hope no longer...

Postcard

08.28.19

Thwarted at Home, Can China’s Feminists Rebuild a Movement Abroad?

Shen Lu & Mengwen Cao
A small number of China’s feminist movement’s influential thinkers and organizers have relocated overseas, in search of an environment more hospitable to their activism. Today, though their numbers are relatively small, they have succeeded in...

Conversation

08.27.19

Can China’s Government Replace Hong Kong?

David Schlesinger & Jerome A. Cohen
As the Hong Kong protests enter their fourth month with no end in sight, on August 18 Beijing announced that the nearby Chinese metropolis of Shenzhen would again become a new type of special economic zone. In a clear message to Hong Kong, the plan...

Conversation

08.07.19

Will Hong Kong Unravel?

Ho-fung Hung, Thomas Kellogg & more
Beijing’s top official in Hong Kong, Wang Zhimin, called the protests a “life and death war” and compared them to the “color revolutions.” Coming a week after Hong Kong police charged 44 people with rioting and days after strikes paralyzed parts of...

Excerpts

07.31.19

What Role Will Intellectuals Play in China’s Future?

Sebastian Veg
As we commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of China’s 1989 democracy movement, it is hard to imagine students and intellectuals playing a similar role today. In China’s highly marketized and politically controlled society, the space for...

Culture

06.27.19

‘What I’m Always Doing Is Escaping, Escaping, Escaping’

Perry Link
Liu Xia, widow of Liu Xiaobo, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 and died while in Chinese custody in 2017, has opened up to the public for the first time since she began a life of exile in Germany nearly a year ago. On May 4, in a dialogue with...

Conversation

06.19.19

Hong Kong in Protest

David Schlesinger, Ho-fung Hung & more
On June 16, an estimated 2 million people took to the streets to protest the Hong Kong government’s handling of a proposed extradition bill. This followed two massive demonstrations against the bill earlier in the month, including one where police...

Conversation

06.03.19

How I Learned About Tiananmen

Anonymous, Tianyu M. Fang & more
In April, ChinaFile put out a call for young people who grew up in China to describe how they first learned about the Tiananmen Square protests and massacre, and how they felt about it. Here is a selection of the responses we received, including...

Media

06.03.19

Six Questions and Four Articles About Tiananmen Square

Isaac Stone Fish
Why can’t we banish history from our memories? The author Ling Zhijun titled his 2008 exploration of Mao Zedong’s disastrous people’s communes “History No Longer Lingers,” and it sometimes feels counterintuitive that we cannot forget past tragedies...

Viewpoint

05.31.19

Taiwan and Hong Kong Have a Stake in Mainland China’s Political Development. They Should Act on It.

Andreas Fulda
A range of observers and experts predicted that mainland China’s rapid economic modernization since the early 1990s would lead to social and political liberalization. Needless to say, that has not come to pass. The mainland’s economic reforms have...

Viewpoint

05.28.19

Why We Remember June Fourth

Perry Link
Some people recently asked, “Why must you remember June Fourth? Thirty years have gone by. It is history. Get over it. Move on.” A simple question, but there are many answers. No single answer is adequate, and all of the answers together still leave...

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.”...

Conversation

03.28.19

What Does the Punishment of a Prominent Scholar Mean for Intellectual Freedom in China?

Donald Clarke, David Yeliang Xia & more
This week, Xu Zhangrun, a law professor at Beijing’s Tsinghua University who in recent months has penned a series of essays critical of policies of the Chinese Communist Party and of its leader, Xi Jinping, was banned from teaching, relieved of his...

Viewpoint

03.28.19

Finding a Voice

Lü Pin from Logic
When I started writing this article, Feminist Voices had been deleted for six months and ten days. Yes, I have been keeping track of the time: ten days, fifteen days, thirty days, sixty days, three months, six months. . . The first week after it...

‘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

12.06.18

‘The Events Were Regrettable’

Perry Link
In late February 1989, a month after becoming president, Bush visited Beijing and invited roughly 500 people to a “Texas barbecue” at a posh Beijing hotel. The invitees included Fang Lizhi, the famous astrophysicist and political dissident. The...

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...

Qin Yongmin: Prominent Chinese Dissident Jailed for 13 Years

BBC
BBC
One of China’s highest-profile democracy campaigners has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for “subversion of state power”.

Books

07.10.18

Blood Letters

Lian Xi
Basic Books: The staggering story of the most important Chinese political dissident of the Mao era, a devout Christian who was imprisoned, tortured, and executed by the regime.Blood Letters tells the astonishing tale of Lin Zhao, a poet and journalist arrested by the authorities in 1960 and executed eight years later, at the height of the Cultural Revolution. Openly and steadfastly opposing communism under Mao, she rooted her dissent in her Christian faith—and expressed it in long, prophetic writings done in her own blood, and at times on her clothes and on cloth torn from her bedsheets.Miraculously, Lin Zhao’s prison writings survived, though they have only recently come to light. Drawing on these works and others from the years before her arrest, as well as interviews with her friends, her classmates, and other former political prisoners, Lian Xi paints an indelible portrait of courage and faith in the face of unrelenting evil.{chop}
11.29.17

Lee Ming-che May Not Have Been Charged under Foreign NGO Law—But His Case Could Still Have a Chilling Effect

Jessica Batke
On November 28, Taiwanese NGO activist Lee Ming-che was sentenced to five years in prison for “subverting state power.” A mainland Chinese citizen, Peng Yuhua, whom Lee’s family says they had not heard of before the trial, was tried with him and...

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.

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’.....