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-...

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...

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}

Liu Xiaobo, Jailed Chinese Nobel Laureate, Is Moved from Prison for Cancer Treatment

Austin Ramzy
New York Times
Liu Xiaobo, the jailed Chinese dissident who received the Nobel Peace Prize for his writings promoting democracy, has been moved from prison to be treated for late-stage cancer, two of his lawyers said on Monday.

I Went to Jail for Handing out Feminist Stickers in China

Li Maizi
Guardian
The backlash is painful, but it coexists with progress as women activists manage—slowly—to bring about a change in attitudes

‘We the Workers’: On the Front Lines of China’s Record-Level Labor Unrest

James Griffiths
CNN
Zhang Zhiru is one of a shrinking number of Chinese labor activists helping workers in the world’s second largest economy fight for their rights—an ongoing crackdown has seen dozens detained and slapped with heavy prison sentences.

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.

Sinica Podcast

10.14.16

An American’s Seven Months in a Chinese Jail

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
In 2009, Michael Manning was working in Beijing for a state-owned news broadcaster by day, but he spent his nights selling bags of hashish. His position with CCTV was easy and brought him into contact with Chinese celebrities, while his other trade...

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...

China Rights Lawyer Xia Lin Jailed for 12 Years

BBC
Ai Weiwei's lawyer sentenced for 'fraud'...

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...

China Still Harvesting Organs from Prisoners at a Massive Scale

James Griffiths
CNN
The report shows a discrepancy between official figures for the number of transplants carried out throughout the country.

Incendiary Memoir by Chinese Rights Lawyer Reaches Bookshelves Abroad

Michael Forsythe
New York Times
An account of government critique, life in prison, and life under surveillance....

Ilham Tohti, Uighur Scholar Jailed in China, Is Nominated for Rights Award

Nick Cumming-Bruce
New York Times
He was chosen by the Martin Ennals Foundation for trying to promote dialogue in the troubled Xinjiang region of China.

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...

Caixin Media

12.02.15

Zhang Zhixin: The Woman who Took on the ‘Gang of Four’

Sheila Melvin
Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the start of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). The desire not to dwell on that tumultuous decade, after half a century has passed, is understandable, but the failure to reflect on its impact, offer a full...

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...

Caixin Media

10.27.15

Does the Punishment Fit the Corruption?

After Chen Bokui, the deputy head of a government advisory body in the central province of Hubei, was convicted of taking 2.8 million yuan in bribes by a court in the eastern province of Fujian in April, he received a somewhat stiff sentence—17...

Caixin Media

10.23.15

Hemingway's Literary Escape

Sheila Melvin
One noonday in 2002, a friendly acquaintance of mine—I’ll call him Q—left his office in a Beijing concert hall to go to lunch and never returned. After a series of inquiries, his wife and colleagues learned that he had been arrested. Various charges...

‘I Try to Talk Less’: A Conversation with Ai Weiwei and Liao Yiwu

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
In late July, Chinese authorities renewed travel privileges for conceptual artist and political activist Ai Weiwei, ending a five-year prohibition following his arrest in 2011. He promptly flew to Munich and then Berlin, where he has accepted a...

Caixin Media

09.08.15

Amnesty As a Stepping Stone to Rule of Law

A recent amnesty declaration affecting convicted criminals deemed no threat to society was a poignant reminder of China’s tradition of prudent punishment, support for human rights, and progress toward of rule of law.The recent decision by the...

Conversation

07.14.15

China’s ‘Rule by Law’ Takes an Ugly Turn

Nancy Tang, Eva Pils & more
Yet another crackdown has begun under Chinese President Xi Jinping. This time, the target is so-called “rights lawyers,” loosely defined as those who defend unpopular or dissident clients, or bring cases against the state that rest on claims of...

Reports

07.14.15

Lawyers and Activists Detained or Questioned by Police Since 9 July 2015

Amnesty International
Amnesty International has compiled this list of Lawyers and Activists in China who have been detained or questioned by police since July 9, 2015. The list was collated based on various sources. Amnesty International attempted to confirm all...

Media

06.11.15

Zhou Yongkang’s Mask of Fear Falls Quietly Away

David Wertime
Zhou Yongkang—erstwhile oil czar, former chief of China’s dreaded state security apparatus, a man once swaggering and fit enough to perform 50 to 100 pushups in front of fawning onlookers—has completed his transformation into a sad historical...

A Bittersweet Reprieve for Chinese Woman Who Killed Abusive Husband

Josh Chin
Wall Street Journal
The verdict left lawyers and activists doubtful of the Chinese legal system’s ability to protect women. 

US and EU Criticise Chinese Journalist’s Jailing for ‘Leaking State Secrets’

Tania Branigan
Guardian
Gao Yu vows to appeal her 7-yr sentence for allegedly leaking Document 9, revealing Party hostility to human rights.

Media

04.15.15

Online Support–and Mockery–Await Chinese Feminists After Release

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
On April 13, Chinese authorities released on bail five feminist activists detained for over a month without formal charges. Despite tight censorship surrounding their detention, support on Chinese social media and thinly veiled media criticism...

China: Inventing a Crime

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
In late January, Chinese authorities announced that they are considering formal charges against Pu Zhiqiang, one of China’s most prominent human rights lawyers, who has been in detention since last May. Pu’s friends fear that even a life sentence is...

Books

06.25.14

Tiananmen Exiles

Rowena Xiaoqing He
In the spring of 1989, millions of citizens across China took to the streets in a nationwide uprising against government corruption and authoritarian rule. What began with widespread hope for political reform ended with the People's Liberation Army firing on unarmed citizens in the capital city of Beijing, and those leaders who survived the crackdown became wanted criminals overnight. Among the witnesses to this unprecedented popular movement was Rowena Xiaoqing He, who would later join former student leaders and other exiles in North America, where she has worked tirelessly for over a decade to keep the memory of the Tiananmen Movement alive. This moving oral history interweaves He's own experiences with the accounts of three student leaders exiled from China. Here, in their own words, they describe their childhoods during Mao's Cultural Revolution, their political activism, the bitter disappointments of 1989, and the profound contradictions and challenges they face as exiles. Variously labeled as heroes, victims, and traitors in the years after Tiananmen, these individuals tell difficult stories of thwarted ideals and disconnection that nonetheless embody the hope for a freer China and a more just world. —Palgrave Macmillan {chop}

Books

06.18.14

The People’s Republic of Amnesia

Louisa Lim
On June 4, 1989, People's Liberation Army soldiers opened fire on unarmed civilians in Beijing, killing untold hundreds of people. A quarter-century later, this defining event remains buried in China's modern history, successfully expunged from collective memory. In The People's Republic of Amnesia, NPR correspondent Louisa Lim charts how the events of June 4th changed China, and how China changed the events of June 4th by rewriting its own history.{node, 5555}Lim reveals new details about those fateful days, including how one of the country's most senior politicians lost a family member to an army bullet, as well as the inside story of the young soldiers sent to clear Tiananmen Square. She also introduces us to individuals whose lives were transformed by the events of Tiananmen Square, such as a founder of the Tiananmen Mothers, whose son was shot by martial law troops; and one of the most important government officials in the country, who post-Tiananmen became one of its most prominent dissidents. And she examines how June 4th shaped China's national identity, fostering a generation of young nationalists, who know little and care less about 1989. For the first time, Lim uncovers the details of a brutal crackdown in a second Chinese city that until now has been a near-perfect case study in the state's ability to rewrite history, excising the most painful episodes. By tracking down eyewitnesses, discovering U.S. diplomatic cables, and combing through official Chinese records, Lim offers the first account of a story that has remained untold for a quarter of a century. The People's Republic of Amnesia is an original, powerfully gripping, and ultimately unforgettable book about a national tragedy and an unhealed wound. —Oxford University Press {chop}

China: Detained to Death

Renee Xia & Perry Link from New York Review of Books
On May 3, fifteen Beijing citizens—scholars, journalists, and rights lawyers—gathered informally at the home of Professor Hao Jian of the Beijing Film Academy to reflect on the 25th anniversary of the 1989 June Fourth massacre in Beijing. Two days...

Viewpoint

12.20.13

‘Community Corrections’ and the Road Ahead for Re-Education Through Labor

Robert Williams
Chinese and foreign observers welcomed the recent announcement that the Chinese government will “abolish”—not merely reform—the administrative punishment system known as re-education through labor (RTL). The proclamation, part of a sixty-point...

China: “Capitulate or Things Will Get Worse”

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
The massacre of protesters in Beijing on June 4, 1989, and the harsh repression during the months immediately following put China into a foul mood. Among ordinary Chinese, the prestige of the Communist Party, whose leaders had ordered the brutal...

Being A Chinese Government Official Is One Of The Worst Jobs In The World

Lily Kuo
Quartz
Chinese officials, like political dissidents or regular citizens, also suffer under a party that is accountable chiefly to itself and a government that arbitrarily enforces laws.

Wife Of China’s Jailed Nobel Winner: I‘m Not Free

Associated Press
Liu Xia was allowed to leave the Beijing apartment where she has been held for two-and-a-half years to attend the trial of her brother on fraud charges that his lawyers said are trumped up to punish the family.  

Poet’s Nightmare In Chinese Prison

Elaine Sciolino
New York Times
 Chinese author and poet Liao Yiwu on his reluctant dissent, his years in a Chinese prison, his relatively new celebrity status, and living with the torutrous memories of his violent experiences. 

Caixin Media

04.08.13

A Day in the Life of a Beijing “Black Guard”

After receiving his delayed wages, thirty-year-old Wang Jie decided to change professions.On March 7, he pressed a fingerprint onto a receipt that read: “Today I have received settlement of the 12,000 yuan in wages owed to me by Mr. Shao.”“Actually...

China’s Psychiatric Terror

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
1.At its triennial congress in Yokohama last September, the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) overwhelmingly voted to send a delegation to China to investigate charges that dissidents were being imprisoned and maltreated as “political maniacs”...

China’s Dirty Clean-Up

Sophia Woodman from New York Review of Books
Every year, millions of China’s poorest and most vulnerable people are arrested on the streets of the nation’s cities merely because the way they look or speak identifies them clearly as “outsiders,” not native to the city in question, or because...