China Jails Taiwanese Rights Activist for 5 Years

Edward White
Financial Times
Lee Ming-che, who worked at a college in Taipei and kept regular contact with civil society activists in China via social media platforms, has been held by Chinese authorities since travelling to Guangdong on March 19.

Viewpoint

11.03.17

The Future of Particle Physics Will Live and Die in China

Yangyang Cheng from Foreign Policy
“Don’t you dare kill my project.”My phone interview with a senior official at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) had started with bland, yet polite, responses. But it took a sharp turn toward audible agitation and hostility as I raised my final...

Diplomat's China Speech Renews Australia University Debate

BBC
BBC
Australia's education minister has urged universities to maintain academic integrity after a diplomat renewed a discussion about possible Chinese influence on campuses...

In China, Scholars Are Being Punished amid Growing Squeeze on Public Expression

Anthony Kuhn
NPR
In late July, Beijing Normal University authorities fired Shi Jiepeng, an assistant professor, citing a number of offenses, including "expressing views outside the mainstream of society."...

Beijing’s Bold New Censorship

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
Authoritarians, in China and elsewhere, normally have preferred to dress their authoritarianism up in pretty clothes. Lenin called the version of dictatorship he invented in 1921 “democratic centralism,” but it became clear, especially after Stalin...

Viewpoint

08.22.17

Burn the Books, Bury the Scholars!

Geremie R. Barmé
Chinese censorship has come a long way. During his rule in the second century B.C.E., the First Emperor of a unified China, Ying Zheng, famously quashed the intellectual diversity of his day by ‘burning the books and burying the scholars’. He not...

Conversation

08.21.17

Should Publications Compromise to Remain in China?

Margaret Lewis, Andrew J. Nathan & more
The prestigious “China Quarterly will continue to publish articles that make it through our rigorous double-blind peer review regardless of topic or sensitivity,” wrote editor Tim Pringle on Monday after days of intense criticism of the brief-lived...

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-...

Books

06.28.17

No Wall Too High

Erling Hoh
“It was impossible. All of China was a prison in those days.”Mao Zedong’s labor reform camps, known as the laogai, were notoriously brutal. Modeled on the Soviet Gulag, they subjected their inmates to backbreaking labor, malnutrition, and vindictive wardens. They were thought to be impossible to escape—but one man did.Xu Hongci was a bright young student at the Shanghai No. 1 Medical College, spending his days studying to be a professor and going to the movies with his girlfriend. He was also an idealistic and loyal member of the Communist Party and was generally liked and well respected. But when Mao delivered his famous February 1957 speech inviting “a hundred schools of thought [to] contend,” an earnest Xu Hongci responded by posting a criticism of the Party—a near-fatal misstep. He soon found himself a victim of the Anti-Rightist Campaign, condemned to spend the next 14 years in the laogai.Xu Hongci became one of the roughly 550,000 Chinese unjustly imprisoned after the spring of 1957, and despite the horrific conditions and terrible odds, he was determined to escape. He failed three times before finally succeeding, in 1972, in what was an amazing and arduous triumph.Originally published in Hong Kong, Xu Hongci’s remarkable memoir recounts his life from childhood through his final prison break. After discovering his story in a Hong Kong library, the journalist Erling Hoh tracked down the original manuscript and compiled this condensed translation, which includes background on this turbulent period, an epilogue that follows Xu Hongci up to his death, and Xu Hongci’s own drawings and maps. Both a historical narrative and an exhilarating prison-break thriller, No Wall Too High tells the unique story of a man who insisted on freedom—even under the most treacherous circumstances. —Farrar, Straus and Giroux{chop}

Media

06.21.17

American Universities in China: Free Speech Bastions or Threats to Academic Freedom?

Eric Fish from Asia Blog
In 1986, Johns Hopkins University opened a study center in Nanjing University, making it the first American institution of higher education allowed to establish a physical presence in China during the Communist era. Since then, dozens of other...

Conversation

05.25.17

Can Free Speech on American Campuses Withstand Chinese Nationalism?

Yifu Dong, Edward Friedman & more
Earlier this week, Kunming native Yang Shuping, a student at the University of Maryland, gave a commencement speech extolling the “fresh air” and “free speech” she experienced while studying in the United States. Video of her speech spread on the...

Sinica Podcast

05.12.17

What It Takes to Be a Good China-Watcher

Kaiser Kuo & Bill Bishop from Sinica Podcast
China-watching isn’t what it used to be. Not too long ago, the field of international China studies was dominated by a few male Westerners with an encyclopedic knowledge of China, but with surprisingly little experience living in the country or...

Viewpoint

04.06.17

What Do Trump and Xi Share? A Dislike of Muslims

Nury Turkel
During the 1980s, as an idealistic, ambitious Uighur growing up under repressive Chinese conditions in the city of Kashgar, there was one nation to which I pinned my hopes for freedom and democracy. To me, the United States was a symbol of my...

American Unrest Proves China Got the Internet Right

Ran Jijun
Beijing has been criticized for its Great Firewall and online censorship. Now it's looking prescient...

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...

Hong Kong Human Rights Situation ‘Worst Since Handover to China’

Benjamin Haas
Guardian
Amnesty International report says rule of law, freedom of speech, and trust in government all deteriorated in 2016

Books

10.07.16

The Age of Irreverence

Christopher Rea
The Age of Irreverence tells the story of why China’s entry into the modern age was not just traumatic, but uproarious. As the Qing dynasty slumped toward extinction, prominent writers compiled jokes into collections they called “histories of laughter.” In the first years of the Republic, novelists, essayists, and illustrators alike used humorous allegories to make veiled critiques of the new government. But, again and again, political and cultural discussion erupted into invective, as critics gleefully jeered and derided rivals in public. Farceurs drew followings in the popular press, promoting a culture of practical joking and buffoonery. Eventually, these various expressions of hilarity proved so offensive to high-brow writers that they launched a concerted campaign to transform the tone of public discourse, hoping to displace the old forms of mirth with a new one they called youmo (humor).Christopher Rea argues that this period—from the 1890s to the 1930s—transformed how Chinese people thought and talked about what is funny. Focusing on five cultural expressions of laughter—jokes, play, mockery, farce, and humor—he reveals the textures of comedy that were a part of everyday life during modern China’s first “age of irreverence.” This new history of laughter not only offers an unprecedented and up-close look at a neglected facet of Chinese cultural modernity, but also reveals its lasting legacy in the Chinese language of the comic today and its implications for our understanding of humor as a part of human culture. —University of California Press{chop}

Conversation

09.13.16

Can China’s Best Newspaper Survive?

Isaac Stone Fish, David Schlesinger & more
On September 9, the South China Morning Post’s Chinese-language website went dark with little explanation, leading to concerns that censorship might next spread to the newspaper’s English-language coverage. Can Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, who has...

Conversation

08.10.16

Is Big Data Increasing Beijing’s Capacity for Control?

Mirjam Meissner, Rogier Creemers & more
China’s authoritarian government is using big data to develop credit scoring systems, and is urging data-sharing between companies and governments, putting ordinary Chinese squarely in the digital spotlight. How should Chinese netizens and global...

China Cracks Down on ‘Harmful’ Speech

Cal Wong
Diplomat
Government demands an apology from a writer questioning an ‘official account of a wartime story’.....

Conversation

06.03.16

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Yidi Wu, Ding Feng & more
It’s graduation time, and Chinese graduates from American colleges are now pondering what to do next: return to China or stay in the U.S. We reached out to recent graduates to ask about their decision-making process and how they view their prospects...

China Just Earned Its Worst Ever Score in an Annual Global Press Freedom Survey

Charlie Campbell
Time
Freedom House scored China 87/100—with higher marks indicating greater restrictions—on press freedom in its 2016 survey.

Conversation

04.12.16

Should Internet Censorship Be Considered a Trade Issue?

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, Susan Shirk & more
A new report from the Office of the United States Trade Representative lists, for the first time, Chinese Internet censorship as a trade barrier. The possible implications are complex: it could strengthen the hand of U.S. businesses, but also stands...

Crackdown in China: Worse and Worse

Orville Schell from New York Review of Books
“As a liberal, I no longer feel I have a future in China,” a prominent Chinese think tank head in the process of moving abroad recently lamented in private. Such refrains are all too familiar these days as educated Chinese professionals express...

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...

Conversation

02.18.16

‘Rule by Fear?’

Eva Pils, Taisu Zhang & more
In the just over three years since Xi Jinping assumed leadership of China, observers and scholars of the country have increasingly coalesced around the idea that Xi’s term in office has coincided with a shift in the tone, if not the practice, of...

Media

01.29.16

‘I Don't Want to Think About Activating Change’

Eric Fish from Asia Blog
In 2012, The New York Times published a groundbreaking investigative report showing that the family of Wen Jiabao, China’s then-prime minister, possessed wealth in excess of $2.7 billion. In response, the Chinese government blocked the Times’...

‘My Personal Vendetta’

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
The presumed kidnapping of the Hong Kong bookseller and British citizen Lee Bo late last year has brought international attention to the challenges faced by the Hong Kong publishing business. During a break from The New York Review’s conference on...

Viewpoint

01.07.16

What Is Disappearing from Hong Kong

Alvin Y.H. Cheung
The recent disappearance of publisher Lee Po—allegedly kidnapped from Hong Kong and rendered to Mainland China—has prompted widespread alarm about the state of Hong Kong’s autonomy, both within the city and internationally. In a widely-shared video...

Media

01.07.16

Assessing China’s Plan to Build Internet Power

Scott D. Livingston
When the Chinese Communist Party targeted clean energy in its 11th Five Year Plan (2006-2010), the resulting investment spree upended the global clean energy market almost overnight. Now, as China approaches its 13th Five Year Plan, a new policy...

Media

01.05.16

China’s Top 5 Censored Posts in 2015

Louisa Lim
Chinese President Xi Jinping rounded off 2015 by posting his first message on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, in the form of a new year’s greeting to the People’s Liberation Army. His post received 52,000 comments, mostly fawning messages of...

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...

China and Russia’s Orwellian attacks on Internet freedom

The Editorial Board
Washington Post
Xi Jinping’s recent speech suggests that China won’t give up nudging global Internet governance toward the “sovereignty” model.

Will China’s Censorship Spread?

LI YUAN
Wall Street Journal
Since last year, China has been promoting its notion of ‘Internet sovereignty’ for global Internet governance.

Notes on the China I’m Leaving Behind

ANDREW JACOBS
New York Times
I GOT together at a restaurant the other night with some Chinese and expatriate friends.

On China’s Constitution Day, Book on Constitutionalism Largely Disappears

KIKI ZHAO
New York Times
China held its second-ever National Constitution Day on Friday.

Media

11.27.15

‘Personal Media’ in China Takes a Hit From Pre-Publication Censorship

Hu Yong
Observers have long thought that Chinese authorities censor the media depending on type: the censorship of traditional media is primarily conducted in advance, with a thorough inspection of news and discussion before publication; new media, in...

China's Own 'Double Standard' on Terrorism

David Volodzko
Diplomat
China continues to lump terrorist groups and peaceful activists together — and to censor media coverage of both.

Media

11.20.15

Pulitzer’s ‘Lookout on the Bridge’ vs. China’s ‘News Ethics Committees’

David Bandurski
In a recent harangue on the imperative of better journalism, a website run by the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Propaganda Department tore a jagged page from the wisdom of American newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer: “A journalist is the...

Media

11.12.15

Good Journalist, Bad Journalist

David Bandurski
As China marked its annual Journalists’ Day over the weekend, proclaiming the importance of “correct news ideals,” even jaded New Yorkers stopped in their tracks and took notice. How could they not? The message beamed over 7th Avenue on Times Square...

Fears Grow For Missing Hong Kong Publishers Who Were Critical of China

Nash Jenkins
Time
Their disappearance has alarmed the cultural community in a city already fearful of Beijing's growing encroachment...

China Ranks Last of 65 Nations in Internet Freedom

New York Times
Chinese officials will be able to impose a prison sentence of up to seven years on a person convicted of creating and spreading “false information” online.

Culture

10.07.15

Jia Zhangke on Finding Freedom in China on Film

Jonathan Landreth
Jia Zhangke is among the most celebrated filmmakers China has ever produced—outside of China. His 2013 film, A Touch of Sin, a weaving-together of four tales of violence ripped from modern-day newspaper headlines, won the Best Screenplay award at...

Media

10.01.15

When Chinese Internet Users Call Xi Jinping Daddy

Anne Henochowicz
Internet censorship in China has inspired the invention of a menagerie of online creatures: the river crab, the elephant of truth, the monkey-snake. Each beast’s name plays on a word or phrase that has at some point angered Chinese Internet users,...

Conversation

09.30.15

The Future of Autonomy in Hong Kong

David Schlesinger, Denise Y. Ho & more
Yesterday, the governing board of Hong Kong University, one of the territory’s most esteemed institutions of higher education, voted to reject the promotion of Johannes Chan, a former law school dean, over the objections of the faculty and students...

Neil Gaiman Joins Authors in Urging Chinese President to Release Jailed Writers

Alison Flood
Guardian
More than 40 authors have written to Xi Jinping, expressing ‘concern about the deteriorating state of free expression in China’.

I’m with the Banned: China Blocks Bon Jovi Gigs

Jennifer Duggan
Guardian
U.S. group were due to perform first China shows next week, but previous use of Dalai Lama image may have prompted officia intervention.

The Singapore Lesson China Missed

Michael Schuman
Wall Street Journal
It’s impossible to understand Singapore’s success without recognizing the importance of state constraint. Since Mr. Xi acknowledges no such limits, he will have a hard time achieving Singapore’s results.

China Uses ‘Picking Quarrels’ Charge to Cast a Wider Net Online

Edward Wong
New York Times
Artists, essayists, lawyers, bloggers and others deemed to be online troublemakers have been hauled into police stations and investigated or imprisoned for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” a charge that was once confined to physical...

Want to Circumvent China’s Great Firewall? Learn These 9 Phrases First

Kuang Keng Kuek Ser
Public Radio International
A story about the newly updated e-book Decoding the Chinese Internet: A Glossary of Political Slang”

China’s War Against One American Journalist

Casey Michael
Slate
Shohret Hoshur’s brothers are being disappeared by the Chinese government. Beijing is trying to silence an American reporter by sentencing his brothers to China’s gulag.

China National Security Law Aims to Create 'Garrison State'

Chun Han Wong
Wall Street Journal
The law marks a crackdown on activism and dissent, featuring repression of civil-society groups, and warnings against the spread of Western ideas.

CAA China’s Leader on Censorship, Why China Needs a Global Hit and Translating for Spielberg

Clifford Coonan
Hollywood Reporter
The first U.S. talent agency with full-time representation in China marks 10 years in Beijing.

Media

06.17.15

American Students in China: It’s Not as Authoritarian as We Thought

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
For some American students about to embark on a study abroad trip to China, the U.S. media reports of Chinese Internet censorship, jailing of dissidents, and draconian population control laws may dominate their perception of the country. But after...

Chinese Hackers Circumvent Popular Web Privacy Tools

Nicole Perlroth
New York Times
The attackers compromised websites frequented by Chinese journalists as well as China’s Muslim Uighur ethnic minority.

China Is Exporting its Tiananmen Censorship, and We Are All Victims

Foreign Policy
Twenty six years after the killing of student protesters, the code of silence is spreading worldwide.

Q&A—Willy Wo-Lap Lam on ‘Chinese Politics in the Era of Xi Jinping’

New York Times
Xi’s reversal of guiding principles guiding Chinese politics post-Mao signals “the closing of the Chinese mind.”

Should Authors Shun or Cooperate With Chinese Censors?

Elliott Spirling, Chan Koonchung, John...
New York Times
A PEN American Center report found some books were expurgated by Chinese censors without the authors knowledge.

Corrupting the Chinese Language

Murong Xuecun
New York Times
The author fears Orwell’s prediciton: “If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”