Features

01.26.18

A Most Immoral Woman: George E. Morrison's Life in Turn-of-the-Century China

Linda Jaivin
My historical novel “A Most Immoral Woman” tells the story of Morrison’s passionate and unconventional affair with Mae Perkins, an independent and wealthy young American libertine, in 1904. It’s a tale that roams the landscape of a dynasty in...

Books

01.26.18

A Village with My Name

Scott Tong
When journalist Scott Tong moved to Shanghai, his assignment was to start up the first full-time China bureau for Marketplace, the daily business and economics program on public radio stations across the United States. But for Tong, the move became much more—it offered the opportunity to reconnect with members of his extended family who had remained in China after his parents fled the communists six decades prior. By uncovering the stories of his family’s history, Tong discovered a new way to understand the defining moments of modern China and its long, interrupted quest to go global.A Village with My Name offers a unique perspective on the transitions in China through the eyes of regular people who have witnessed such epochal events as the toppling of the Qing monarchy, Japan’s occupation during World War II, exile of political prisoners to forced labor camps, mass death and famine during the Great Leap Forward, market reforms under Deng Xiaoping, and the dawn of the One Child Policy. Tong’s story focuses on five members of his family, who each offer a specific window on a changing country: a rare American-educated girl born in the closing days of the Qing Dynasty, a pioneer exchange student, an abandoned toddler from World War II who later rides the wave of China’s global export boom, a young professional climbing the ladder at a multinational company, and an orphan (the author’s daughter) adopted in the middle of a baby-selling scandal fueled by foreign money. Through their stories, Tong shows us China anew, visiting former prison labor camps on the Tibetan plateau and rural outposts along the Yangtze, exploring the Shanghai of the 1930s, and touring factories across the mainland.With curiosity and sensitivity, Tong explores the moments that have shaped China and its people, offering a compelling and deeply personal take on how China became what it is today. —University of Chicago Press{chop}

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...

Excerpts

11.16.17

Mementos of 1949

Kevin Peraino
Bodies jostled, elbow to elbow, angling all morning for a spot in the square. Soldiers clomped in the cold—tanned, singing as they marched, steel helmets and bayonets under the October sun. Tanks moved in columns two by two; then howitzers, teams of...

Books

11.15.17

The Book of Swindles

Zhang Yingyu, Edited and Translated by Christopher Rea and Bruce Rusk
This is an age of deception. Con men ply the roadways. Bogus alchemists pretend to turn one piece of silver into three. Devious nuns entice young women into adultery. Sorcerers use charmed talismans for mind control and murder. A pair of dubious monks extorts money from a powerful official and then spends it on whoring. A rich student tries to bribe the chief examiner, only to hand his money to an imposter. A eunuch kidnaps boys and consumes their “essence” in an attempt to regrow his penis. These are just a few of the entertaining and surprising tales to be found in this 17th-century work, said to be the earliest Chinese collection of swindle stories.The Book of Swindles, compiled by an obscure writer from southern China, presents a fascinating tableau of criminal ingenuity. The flourishing economy of the late Ming period created overnight fortunes for merchants—and gave rise to a host of smooth operators, charlatans, forgers, and imposters seeking to siphon off some of the new wealth. The Book of Swindles, which was ostensibly written as a manual for self-protection in this shifting and unstable world, also offers an expert guide to the art of deception. Each story comes with commentary by the author, Zhang Yingyu, who expounds a moral lesson while also speaking as a connoisseur of the swindle. This volume, which contains annotated translations of just over half of the 80-odd stories in Zhang’s original collection, provides a wealth of detail on social life during the late Ming period and offers words of warning for a world in peril. —Columbia University Press{chop}

How China and America Can Protect the World’s Antiquities

Eleni Wah
Foreign Affairs
In 1971, a ping-pong match between the U.S. and Chinese national teams helped open relations between the two countries. Since then, people-to-people diplomacy has been a bright spot in otherwise tense interactions. But civil society engagement has...

Sinica Podcast

07.17.17

Jerome A. Cohen on Human Rights and Law in China

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Professor Jerome A. Cohen began studying the law of what was then called “Red China” in the early 1960s, at a time when the country was closed off, little understood, and much maligned in the West.Legal institutions were just developing at that time...

Novels from China’s Moral Abyss

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Modern China was built on the nearly thirty ruthless years of Mao’s rule. The country’s elite—the “literati” of educated small landowners who held the empire together at the local level—was brutally eliminated. Almost everyone’s personal life was...

China’s Astounding Religious Revival

Roderick MacFarquhar from New York Review of Books
If there were just one Chinese in the world, he could be the lonely sage contemplating life and nature whom we come across on the misty mountains of Chinese scrolls. If there were two Chinese in the world, a man and a woman, lo, the family system is...

Conversation

05.09.17

Can China’s Approach to Internet Control Spread around the World?

Anne Henochowicz, Rogier Creemers & more
Earlier this month, citing concerns over “cyber sovereignty,” China’s Internet regulators announced new restrictions on the country’s already tightly controlled Internet—further curbing online news reporting and putting Party-appointed editors in...

The Earthy Glories of Ancient China

Ian Buruma from New York Review of Books
French schoolchildren used to be taught that they were descended from the Gauls, a tribe that emerged around the fifth century BC. It is a common conceit of 19th-century nationalism that citizens of modern nation-states can trace their national...

Recreating China’s Imagined Empire

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
China’s influence in the world has become a persistent theme of these early days of the Donald Trump era. During his campaign, Trump portrayed China (not entirely incorrectly) as the leading malefactor in the politics of international trade—holding...

Conversation

03.15.17

How Does China’s Imperial Past Shape Its Foreign Policy Today?

Pamela Kyle Crossley, Jeremiah Jenne & more
Throughout most of history China dominated Asia, up until what many Chinese refer to as the “century of humiliation”—when Japan and Western powers invaded or otherwise interfered between 1839 and 1949. Now, with China on the rise again, are Beijing’...

Books

03.02.17

The Silver Way

Peter Gordon and Juan José Morales
Long before London and New York rose to international prominence, a trading route was discovered between Spanish America and China that ushered in a new era of globalization. The “Ruta de la Plata,” or “Silver Way,” catalyzed economic and cultural exchange, built the foundations for the first global currency, and led to the rise of the first “world city.” And yet, for all its importance, the Silver Way is too often neglected in conventional narratives on the birth of globalization. Gordon and Morales re-establish its fascinating role in economic and cultural history, with direct consequences for how we understand China today. —Penguin China{chop}

Books

02.28.17

Everything Under the Heavens

Howard W. French
From the former New York Times Asia correspondent and author of China’s Second Continent, an incisive investigation of China’s ideological development as it becomes an ever more aggressive player in regional and global diplomacy.For many years after its reform and opening in 1978, China maintained an attitude of false modesty about its ambitions. That role, reports Howard French, has been set aside. China has asserted its place among the global heavyweights, revealing its plans for pan-Asian dominance by building its navy, increasing territorial claims to areas like the South China Sea, and diplomatically bullying smaller players. Underlying this attitude is a strain of thinking that casts China’s present-day actions in decidedly historical terms, as the path to restoring the dynastic glory of the past. If we understand how that historical identity relates to current actions, in ways ideological, philosophical, and even legal, we can learn to forecast just what kind of global power China stands to become–and to interact wisely with a future peer.Steeped in deeply researched history as well as on-the-ground reporting, this is French at his revelatory best. —Penguin Random House{chop}

Books

02.01.17

Unlikely Partners

Julian Gewirtz
Unlikely Partners recounts the story of how Chinese politicians and intellectuals looked beyond their country’s borders for economic guidance at a key crossroads in the nation’s tumultuous 20th century. Julian Gewirtz offers a dramatic tale of competition for influence between reformers and hardline conservatives during the Deng Xiaoping era, bringing to light China’s productive exchanges with the West.When Mao Zedong died in 1976, his successors seized the opportunity to reassess the wisdom of China’s rigid commitment to Marxist doctrine. With Deng Xiaoping’s blessing, China’s economic gurus scoured the globe for fresh ideas that would put China on the path to domestic prosperity and ultimately global economic power. Leading foreign economists accepted invitations to visit China to share their expertise, while Chinese delegations traveled to the United States, Hungary, Great Britain, West Germany, Brazil, and other countries to examine new ideas. Chinese economists partnered with an array of brilliant thinkers, including Nobel Prize winners, World Bank officials, battle-scarred veterans of Eastern Europe’s economic struggles, and blunt-speaking free-market fundamentalists.Nevertheless, the push from China’s senior leadership to implement economic reforms did not go unchallenged, nor has the Chinese government been eager to publicize its engagement with Western-style innovations. Even today, Chinese Communists decry dangerous Western influences and officially maintain that China’s economic reinvention was the Chinese Communist Party’s achievement alone. Unlikely Partners sets forth the truer story, which has continuing relevance for China’s complex and far-reaching relationship with the West. —Harvard University Press{chop}

When the Chinese Were Unspeakable

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
The Xiao River rushes deep and clear out of the mountains of southern China into a narrow plain of paddies and villages. At first little more than an angry stream, it begins to meander and grow as the basin’s 63 other creeks and brooks flow into it...

Books

01.04.17

The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China

Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom
This lavishly illustrated volume explores the history of China during a period of dramatic shifts and surprising transformations, from the founding of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) through to the present day.The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China promises to be essential reading for anyone who wants to understand this rising superpower on the verge of what promises to be the “Chinese century,” introducing readers to important but often overlooked events in China’s past, such as the bloody Taiping Civil War (1850-1864), which had a death toll far higher than the roughly contemporaneous American Civil War. It also helps readers see more familiar landmarks in Chinese history in new ways, such as the Opium War (1839-1842), the Boxer Uprising of 1900, the rise to power of the Chinese Communist Party in 1949, and the Tiananmen protests and Beijing Massacre of 1989.This is one of the first major efforts—and in many ways the most ambitious to date—to come to terms with the broad sweep of modern Chinese history, taking readers from the origins of modern China right up through the dramatic events of the last few years (the Beijing Games, the financial crisis, and China’s rise to global economic pre-eminence) which have so fundamentally altered Western views of China and China’s place in the world. —Oxford University Press{chop}

Books

12.20.16

The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom

John Pomfret
From the clipper ships that ventured to Canton hauling cargos of American ginseng to swap for Chinese tea, to the U.S. warships facing off against China’s growing navy in the South China Sea, from the Yankee missionaries who brought Christianity and education to China, to the Chinese who built the American West, the United States and China have always been dramatically intertwined. For more than two centuries, American and Chinese statesmen, merchants, missionaries, and adventurers, men and women, have profoundly influenced the fate of these nations. While we tend to think of America’s ties with China as starting in 1972 with the visit of President Richard Nixon to China, the patterns—rapturous enchantment followed by angry disillusionment—were set in motion hundreds of years earlier.Drawing on personal letters, diaries, memoirs, government documents, and contemporary news reports, John Pomfret reconstructs the surprising, tragic, and marvelous ways Americans and Chinese have engaged with one another through the centuries. A fascinating and thrilling account, The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom is also an indispensable book for understanding the most important—and often the most perplexing—relationship between any two countries in the world. —Henry Holt{chop}

As 'The Great Wall’ Hits Theaters in China, Hollywood is Watching

Erich Schwartzel
Wall Street Journal
Movie industry sees $150 million picture starring Matt Damon as harbinger for future U.S.-China co-productions

Media

12.09.16

U.S.-China Relations As a Cycle of ‘Rapturous Enchantment’ and ‘Deep Disappointment’

Eric Fish from Asia Blog
In 1872, China’s imperial government began sending teenage boys to the United States to study science and technology. After a series of “humiliating” military defeats at the hands of technologically superior foreign powers, China’s leaders realized...

The Great Wall: China Takes on the World with New Matt Damon Film

John Sudworth
BBC
Despite a long tradition of movie-making, and much critical acclaim for its directors overseas, China has never yet produced a truly global blockbuster

Features

12.02.16

How Do You Stand up to China? Ask Mongolia

Sergey Radchenko
The day before the Dalai Lama’s November 18 trip to Mongolia, Beijing issued a “strong demand” to its neighbor to cancel the visit of the “anti-Chinese separatist” or face (unstated) consequences. The Dalai Lama would be making his ninth visit to...

Ancient Town in China Enjoys Profitable Rebirth as a ‘Beautiful Stage’

Amy Qin
New York Times
With selfie-ready backdrops — flowing green canals and sloping tiled roofs — Wuzhen, China, takes off with tourists

China Long March Film: US Glamour Model’s Role Draws Ire

Jeff Li
BBC
State broadcasters touched a nerve among its viewers by casting an actress and model seen as "anti-China" in a documentary about the Long March...

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

China: The Virtues of the Awful Convulsion

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
For decades, Beijing’s Beihai Park has been one of the city’s most beloved retreats—a strip of green around a grand lake to the north of the Communist Party’s leadership compound, its waters crowded with electric rental boats shaped like ducks and...

Discoveries May Rewrite History of China’s Terracotta Warriors

Ann Williams
National Geographic
Finds at the famous tomb complex point to influences from abroad and a blood-soaked succession after the death of China's first emperor...

Conversation

10.06.16

Is the Growing Pessimism About China Warranted?

David Shambaugh, David M. Lampton & more from Washington Quarterly
There are few more consequential questions in world affairs than China’s uncertain future trajectory. Assumptions of a reformist China integrated into the international community have given way in recent years to serious concerns about the nation’s...

Fate Catches Up to a Cultural Revolution Museum in China

Didi Kirsten Tatlow
New York Times
The museum was covered up and shut down in the spring, a few weeks before the 50th anniversary of the start of the Cultural Revolution.

Features

07.12.16

You Ask How Deeply I Love You

Anna Beth Keim
“Back when I was a soldier on Kinmen, around 1975, the water demons still sometimes killed people,” Xu Shifu (Master Xu) said. The laugh-lines at the corners of his eyes were not visible now, even in the white fluorescent light shining down from the...

Media

05.18.16

My Uncle Was a Red Guard in the Cultural Revolution—He Isn’t Sorry

Lishui is the nickname for my uncle, a farmer who has lived all his life in the suburbs of Tianjin, a big city in northeastern China. Whenever people talk about Lishui, my mother’s older brother, they always say: “Lishui is a nice guy, honest,...

Sinica Podcast

05.09.16

The Cultural Revolution at Fifty

Kaiser Kuo, David Moser & more from Sinica Podcast
Fifty years ago, Mao Zedong launched the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, inaugurating a decade of political turmoil with his calls for young people to “bombard the headquarters.” In this special live edition of our podcast recorded at The...

A Revolutionary Discovery in China

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
1.As Beijing prepared to host the 2008 Olympics, a small drama was unfolding in Hong Kong. Two years earlier, middlemen had come into possession of a batch of waterlogged manuscripts that had been unearthed by tomb robbers in south-central China...

Culture

04.19.16

A Newly Translated Book Revisits Japan and China’s Wartime History

Karen Ma
Award-winning screenwriter and author Geling Yan has written more than 20 novels and short story collections about China, many adapted to film or TV, including Coming Home and The Flowers of War, both of which became feature films directed by Zhang...

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...

Postcard

01.18.16

A People’s Friendship

James Palmer
It takes a brave man to jump off a moving train for the sake of a sale, but the clothes hawkers had the easy courage of men who did this on the regular. I watched as they leapt off the front carriage as the train chugged into a station with no stop...

A Wordless Elegy for China’s War Dead

DIDI KIRSTEN TATLOW
New York Times
Mr. Wang explained why he wanted to write a requiem about a war that ended 70 years ago.

Xi'an City Wall: How China Turned A Military Site Into A Unique Park

Shen Lu
CNN
Xi'an, China's 637-year-old city wall is a relatively new kid on the block...

You Can't Understand China Unless You Know How the Communist Party Thinks

Zheng Bijian
Huffington Post
The CPC came into being in 1921, almost a century ago.

Tibet, Taiwan and China – A Complex Nexus

Tshering Chonzom Bhutia
Diplomat
Recent developments in cross-strait relations raise interesting questions for Tibet’s leadership in exile.

Ever Wonder How China Got Back Into International Diplomacy After the Cultural Revolution?

Robert Farley
Diplomat
China’s successful entry into the international scene after the Cultural Revolution bears lessons for other pariah states.

Would India Dare Risk Antagonizing China?

Daniel Markey
Council on Foreign Relations
I found a striking consensus about the relative stability between the two giant Asian neighbors.

Hong Kong May Be A Little Insecure, But It's No 'Slave'

Kenny Hodgart
South China Morning Post
I don't much care to weigh in on the subject of Hong Kong remaining a place where non-Asians are able to prosper...

China Is Trying to Warn Taiwan Voters

Noah Feldman
Bloomberg
The possibility of conflict between China and Taiwan is dangerous to the world’s security.

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.

McDonald's China Heritage Outlet Criticised

BBC
The opening of a McDonald's outlet in the home of former Taiwanese leader Chiang Ching-kuo in Hangzhou, China has sparked a controversy...

India-China Talks Fail To Make Progress on Border Dispute

Vivek Raghuvanshi
Defense News
"This is the highest level defense delegation to visit India in the recent years. The visit signifies the enhanced defense exchanges between India and China."...

China Tired of the Boiler Suit

Lena Jeger
Guardian
“Why can people who glory in color and fun and variety wear a uniform of boiler suits that brings drabness and dreariness to every gathering?”

Q. and A.: Ezra F. Vogel on China’s Shifting Relations With Japan and Taiwan

JAVIER C. HERNÁNDEZ
New York Times
Mr. Vogel is working on a book that will explore moments in history when China and Japan were in closest contact.

Nancy Pelosi Made Rare Visit to Tibet, China Says

EDWARD WONG
New York Times
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, visited Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.

Meeting With Taiwan Reflects Limits of China’s Checkbook

AUSTIN RAMZY
New York Times
For the past eight years, the Chinese government has showered its former enemies in Taiwan with economic gifts.

3 Things Taiwan Wants From China

Mark Rivett-Carnac
Time
Here are three issues that are likely to be on the top of Ma’s agenda after seven decades without a face-to-face meeting.

Call Me Mister: Taiwan, China Presidents to Hold Historic Meeting

Greg Botelho, Kevin Wang and Katie Hunt
CNN
The leaders of Taiwan and China plan to meet in Singapore on Saturday for the first time since the Chinese civil war ended in 1949.

Q. and A.: Chan Koonchung on Imagining a Non-Communist China

DIDI KIRSTEN TATLOW
New York Times
We’re in Beijing — no, Beiping — Dec. 10, 1979.

China, Japan and South Korea Relations 'Completely Restored' After Summit

Tiffany Ap, KJ Kwon and Yoko Wakatsuki
CNN
"All sides shared the view that trilateral cooperation has been completely restored in this meeting."...

Amartya Sen: Women’s Progress Outdid China’s One-Child Policy

AMARTYA SEN
New York Times
The abandonment of the one-child policy in China is a momentous change.

China to End One-Child Policy, Allowing Families Two Children

CHRIS BUCKLEY
New York Times
China’s Communist Party brought to an end the decades-old “one child” policy.

Two More Japanese Being Held in China, Says Chinese Official

Elaine Lies and Adam Rose
Reuters
"In addition to the two who were arrested, one is being held and one is being watched at home," the official said...

Yan Lianke: Understand the Enemy

Huffington Post
"I think that my fate cannot be separated from literature."...