The Rise of Populism and Implications for China

Paul Haenle & Thomas Carothers from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
The rise of populism in Europe and the United States has had a pronounced impact on domestic politics and foreign policy, as seen in Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. In China, leaders are unsettled by the nationalist and anti-globalization...

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...

China Offers Support to Spanish Government amid Catalonia Crisis

South China Morning Post
China understands and supports the Spanish government’s efforts to protect the country’s unity and territorial integrity, Beijing said on Thursday, amid moves by Catalonia to declare independence.

Media

09.23.17

The German Edition of the Falun Gong-Affiliated ‘Epoch Times’ Aligns with the Far Right

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
On the eve of the German election Sunday, it’s no surprise that Russian state-funded media outlets are attacking German Chancellor Angela Merkel, sensationalizing migrant violence, and providing conciliatory coverage of far-right groups. Russia,...

Young People in China Have Started a Fashion Movement Built around Nationalism and Racial Purity

Kevin Carrico
Quartz
The Han Clothing Movement, a youth-based grassroots nationalist movement built around China’s majority Han ethnic group, has emerged over the past 15 years in urban China. It imagines the numerically and culturally dominant Han—nearly 92% of China’s...

In China, an Action Hero Beats Box Office Records (and Arrogant Westerners)

New York Times
The success of the two-hour film, Wolf Warrior 2, featuring a red-tinged Rambo named Leng Feng, is being seen in China as a pointer to the national mood after almost five years under Xi Jinping, the president. Mr. Xi has promoted a spirit of hawkish...

Patriotic Action Film Set to Break China Blockbuster Record

Tom Hancock
Financial Times
A patriotic Chinese action film whose tagline is “whoever offends China will be hunted down wherever they are” is poised to become the country’s highest grossing film to date.

Sinica Podcast

05.26.17

Chinese Power in the Age of Donald Trump

Jeremy Goldkorn, Kaiser Kuo & more from Sinica Podcast
When Joseph Nye, Jr., first used the phrase “soft power” in his 1990 book Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power, China did not factor much into his calculus of world order: It had relatively little military and economic power, and...

Chinese Student’s Commencement Speech in U.S. Isn’t Going over Well in China

NPR
A Chinese student who praised the “fresh air of free speech” in the U.S. during her commencement address at the University of Maryland is facing an online backlash from classmates and from people in China who say she insulted her own country.

U.S., Russia and China: A Tale of Big Egos, Profound Mistrust and Foolish Nationalism

Joseph Camilleri, La Trobe University
ABC
Mr Trump’s first 100 days as President have dramatically demonstrated this failure. For all the rhetoric about “making America great again”, Mr Trump is rapidly discovering the US has limited capacity to impose its will on the rest of world.

Media

02.14.17

Surprise Findings: China’s Youth Are Getting Less Nationalistic, Not More

Anyone who’s spent any length of time following Western press coverage of China is familiar with the notion that China’s leaders are obligated to look tough in order to appease a rising nationalism. Much has been written about the online activities...

Surprise Findings: China’s Youth Are Getting Less Nationalistic, Not More

Matt Schrader
Foreign Policy
Harvard and Peking University researchers just upended conventional wisdom.

With Pen Plan, China Etches Nationalist Economic Policy

Chuin-Wei Yap
Wall Street Journal
New ability to manufacture pen nibs gives China ability to produce whole pen—and a point of pride

China Battles to Control Growing Online Nationalism

Lucy Hornby
Financial Times
When Taiwan last year elected a president eager to reduce the island’s reliance on China, tens of thousands of Chinese netizens attacked Taiwanese websites in a co-ordinated action that was as much a surprise to Beijing as it was to its targets...

Viewpoint

01.06.17

No, Hong Kong’s Democracy Movement Is Not Anti-Mainland

Sebastian Veg
In a November 29 essay, “The Anti-Mainland Bigotry of Hong Kong’s Democracy Movement,” published in Foreign Policy, Taisu Zhang tries to make the case that Beijing’s hardline attitude toward Hong Kong is traceable to what he calls the “bigotry of...

Viewpoint

11.29.16

The Anti-Mainland Bigotry of Hong Kong’s Democracy Movement

Taisu Zhang
Given the political earthquake that occurred on November 8, the recent political and constitutional crisis in Hong Kong now seems comparatively diminished in significance. At the time, however, it was widely seen as—and continues to be—a major...

Sinica Podcast

11.23.16

Lines of Fracture in Chinese Public Opinion: A Conversation with Ma Tianjie

Kaiser Kuo & Jeremy Goldkorn from Sinica Podcast
On this week’s episode, our guest Ma Tianjie, editor of the bilingual environmental website chinadialogue and the blogger behind Chublic Opinion, untangles the complexities and contradictions of online discussions in China. Ma shares insights into...

Caixin Media

11.18.16

Is the Trump Victory a Blow to Globalization?

The 2016 U.S. presidential election ended with the surprise victory of property mogul Donald J. Trump. An outsider without a political track record, Trump defied predictions by most polls, pundits, and political observers when he defeated Hillary...

With Odes to Military March, China Puts Nationalism into Overdrive

Javier Hernandez
New York Times
President Xi has been making the case for a “new long march,” using the anniversary to rally the public and warn against creeping complacency

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...

China Does Itself No Favors With Its Threats

Richard McGregor
Nikkei Asian Review
If its economy keeps on growing, China's sheer size, wealth and military reach may make a kind of Pax Sinica in the region inevitable...

Shanghai Seeks to Enforce Ban on Overseas Curricula at International Schools

Li Rongde
Move comes as officials voice fears over erosion of values that result from imported syllabuses

Viewpoint

10.14.16

Let One Hundred Panthers Bloom

Eveline Chao
“Chairman Mao says that death comes to all of us, but it varies in its significance: to die for the reactionary is lighter than a feather; to die for the revolution is heavier than Mount Tai.” So wrote Huey P. Newton, founder of the Black Panther...

Once a Voice of Young China, Han Han Stakes Out a Different Path

Karoline Kan
New York Times
Han Han discusses his writings, the turns his life has taken and what people in the West fail to understand about China

Media

08.17.16

How the Philippines Can Win in the South China Sea

The Philippine Islands has a problem. It has international law on its side in its quarrel with China over maritime territory, but no policeman walking his beat to enforce the law. That means that, despite an international court’s findings, the...

China Takes A Gamble in Scapegoating the West

Jamil Anderlini
Financial Times
This type of propaganda gives license to ordinary people to indulge their most primitive prejudices.

China: The People’s Fury

Richard Bernstein from New York Review of Books
It has long been routine to find in both China’s official news organizations and its social media a barrage of anti-American comment, but rarely has it reached quite the intensity and fury of the last few days. There have been calls from citizens on...

Taiwan, Korea Challenges Could Push China's Nationalism

Christopher Bodeen
Associated Press
Economic growth and nationalism have been the two founts of legitimacy for the Party, and as the former wanes, Xi will likely rely on the latter.

Media

03.04.16

China’s Coming Ideological Wars

Taisu Zhang
For most Chinese, the 1990s were a period of intense material pragmatism. Economic development was the paramount social and political concern, while the various state ideologies that had guided policy during the initial decades of the People’s...

Media

02.19.16

New Video Celebrates Chinese Missiles With Old-School Communist Pomp

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
Trumpets sound and trombones blare as a warhead launches. Intercontinental ballistic missiles mounted on trucks parade down the center of a boulevard crowded with bystanders. “We are the glorious Rocket Force,” a mixed choir sings in a Soviet-...

Xi’s China: The Illusion of Change

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Xi Jinping is often described as China’s most powerful leader in decades, perhaps even since Mao. He has been credited—if sometimes grudgingly—with pursuing a vigorous foreign policy, economic reforms, and a historic crackdown on corruption.But as...

'A Brighter Future Beckons': China Tries to Get Xinjiang to Join the Party

Tom Phillips
Guardian
Yellow signs swing from lampposts urging citizens to “hold high the great banner of national unity”.

The Chinese Government Is Cranking Up the Nationalism After Its Nobel Win

Gwynn Guilford
Quartz
In a way, the Nobel honor is a double-whammy for the Chinese government’s nationalist agenda.

A Dangerous Game: Responding to Chinese Cyber Activities

Ryan Pickrell
Diplomat
Those calling for tougher U.S. measures should think twice.

Sinica Podcast

09.14.15

Parading Around China’s Military Legacy

Kaiser Kuo, David Moser & more from Sinica Podcast
The interpretation of history is an inherently political act in China, and the struggle for control of the narrative of the War of Resistance Against Japan—World War II—has heated up during the approach to the September 3 parade commemorating the...

Japanese Demons and Crotch Bombs: The Tense State of Asian Cinema

Patrick St. Michel
Atlantic
Movies from South Korean, China, and Japan have become increasingly nationalistic, thanks to ongoing territorial disputes and the 70th anniversary of World War II.

Media

07.28.15

Clickbait Nationalism

On July 16, the lower house of the Japanese Parliament passed a set of new security legislation that would grant Japan limited power to engage in foreign conflicts for the first time since its defeat in World War II. Despite domestic public...

Books

06.10.15

China’s Millennials

Eric Fish
In 1989, students marched on Tiananmen Square demanding democratic reform. The Communist Party responded with a massacre, but it was jolted into restructuring the economy and overhauling the education of its young citizens. A generation later, Chinese youth are a world apart from those who converged at Tiananmen. Brought up with lofty expectations, they’ve been accustomed to unprecedented opportunities on the back of China’s economic boom. But today, China’s growth is slowing and its demographics rapidly shifting, with the boom years giving way to a painful hangover.Immersed in this transition, Eric Fish, a millennial himself, profiles youth from around the country and how they are navigating the education system, the workplace, divisive social issues, and a resurgence in activism. Based on interviews with scholars, journalists, and hundreds of young Chinese, his engrossing book challenges the idea that today’s youth have been pacified by material comforts and nationalism. Following rural Henan students struggling to get into college, a computer prodigy who sparked a nationwide patriotic uproar, and young social activists grappling with authorities, Fish deftly captures youthful struggle, disillusionment, and rebellion in a system that is scrambling to keep them in line—and, increasingly, scrambling to adapt when its youth refuse to conform.—Rowman & Littlefield{chop}

Sinica Podcast

04.27.15

Nationalism and Censorship

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Christopher Cairns joins the hosts of Sinica for a discussion of his forthcoming paper, co-authored with Allen Carlson, scheduled for publication in China Quarterly. Why are we so interested in this topic? Because Cairns and his colleagues at...

Books

04.23.15

Intimate Rivals

Sheila A. Smith
No country feels China’s rise more deeply than Japan. Through intricate case studies of visits by Japanese politicians to the Yasukuni Shrine, conflicts over the boundaries of economic zones in the East China Sea, concerns about food safety, and strategies of island defense, Sheila A. Smith explores the policy issues testing the Japanese government as it tries to navigate its relationship with an advancing China.Smith finds that Japan’s interactions with China extend far beyond the negotiations between diplomats and include a broad array of social actors intent on influencing the Sino-Japanese relationship. Some of the tensions complicating Japan’s encounters with China, such as those surrounding the Yasukuni Shrine or territorial disputes, have deep roots in the postwar era, and political advocates seeking a stronger Japanese state organize themselves around these causes. Other tensions manifest themselves during the institutional and regulatory reform of maritime boundary and food safety issues.Smith scrutinizes the role of the Japanese government in coping with contention as China’s influence grows and Japanese citizens demand more protection. Underlying the government’s efforts is Japan’s insecurity about its own capacity for change and its waning status as the leading economy in Asia. For many, China’s rise means Japan’s decline, and Smith suggests how Japan can maintain its regional and global clout as confidence in its postwar diplomatic and security approach diminishes.—Columbia University Press{chop}

Xi Jinping of China and Shinzo Abe of Japan Meet Amid Slight Thaw in Ties

Jane Perlez
New York Times
The meeting signaled a continued slight warming in otherwise frosty relations between Asia’s two top economies.

Books

09.11.14

Powerful Patriots

Jessica Chen Weiss
Why has the Chinese government sometimes allowed and sometimes repressed nationalist, anti-foreign protests? What have been the international consequences of these choices? Anti-American demonstrations were permitted in 1999 but repressed in 2001 during two crises in U.S.-China relations. Anti-Japanese protests were tolerated in 1985, 2005, and 2012 but banned in 1990 and 1996. Protests over Taiwan, the issue of greatest concern to Chinese nationalists, have never been allowed. To explain this variation in China's response to nationalist mobilization, Powerful Patriots argues that Chinese and other authoritarian leaders weigh both diplomatic and domestic incentives to allow and repress nationalist protests. Autocrats may not face electoral constraints, but anti-foreign protests provide an alternative mechanism by which authoritarian leaders can reveal their vulnerability to public pressure. Because nationalist protests are costly to repress and may turn against the government, allowing protests demonstrates resolve and increases the domestic cost of diplomatic concessions. Repressing protests, by contrast, sends a credible signal of reassurance, facilitating diplomatic flexibility and signaling a willingness to spend domestic political capital for the sake of international cooperation. To illustrate the logic, the book traces the effect of domestic and diplomatic factors in China's management of nationalist protest in the post-Mao era (1978-2012) and the consequences for China's foreign relations.—Oxford University Press {chop}

Viewpoint

09.02.14

The Danger of China’s ‘Chosen Trauma’

Harry W.S. Lee
When we see young Chinese people at a state event collectively chant, “Do not forget national humiliation and realize the Chinese dream!” we may be tempted to dismiss it as yet another piece of CCP propaganda. But we may also find ourselves...

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}

Books

05.22.14

Age of Ambition

Evan Osnos
From abroad, we often see China as a caricature: a nation of pragmatic plutocrats and ruthlessly dedicated students destined to rule the global economy—or an addled Goliath, riddled with corruption and on the edge of stagnation. What we don’t see is how both powerful and ordinary people are remaking their lives as their country dramatically changes.As the Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, Evan Osnos was on the ground in China for years, witness to profound political, economic, and cultural upheaval. In Age of Ambition, he describes the greatest collision taking place in that country: the clash between the rise of the individual and the Communist Party’s struggle to retain control. He asks probing questions: Why does a government with more success lifting people from poverty than any civilization in history choose to put strict restraints on freedom of expression? Why do millions of young Chinese professionals—fluent in English and devoted to Western pop culture—consider themselves “angry youth,” dedicated to resisting the West’s influence? How are Chinese from all strata finding meaning after two decades of the relentless pursuit of wealth?Writing with great narrative verve and a keen sense of irony, Osnos follows the moving stories of everyday people and reveals life in the new China to be a battleground between aspiration and authoritarianism, in which only one can prevail. —Farrar, Straus, and Giroux {chop}

Media

04.02.14

A Merkel, a Map, a Message to China?

On March 28, German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping at a dinner where they exchanged gifts. Merkel presented to Xi a 1735 map of China made by prolific French cartographer Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville and...

Books

03.05.14

Sporting Gender

Yunxiang Gao
When China hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics—and amazed international observers with both its pageantry and gold-medal count—it made a very public statement about the country’s surge to global power. Yet, China has a much longer history of using sport to communicate a political message. Sporting Gender is the first book to explore the rise to fame of female athletes in China during its national crisis of 1931-45 brought on by the Japanese invasion. By re-mapping lives and careers of individual female athletes, administrators, and film actors within a wartime context, Gao shows how these women coped with the conflicting demands of nationalist causes, unwanted male attention, and modern fame. While addressing the themes of state control, media influence, fashion, and changes in gender roles, she argues that the athletic female form helped to create a new ideal of modern womanhood in China at time when women’s emancipation and national needs went hand in hand. This book brings vividly to life the histories of these athletes and demonstrates how intertwined they were with the aims of the state and the needs of society. —University of British Columbia Press{chop}  

Media

01.28.14

Why China’s Li Na Won’t Thank Her Homeland

After winning the Australian Open on January 25, Li Na set off a media blitz in her native China, where the thirty-one-year-old tennis star made the front page of most major papers. Much discussion surrounded Li’s post-victory speech, where she once...

Media

12.06.13

China’s Viral, Nationalist Screed Against Western Encroachment

“You are nothing without your motherland.” It’s a trite phrase, one that seems unlikely to stir the blood of even the most dyed-in-the-wool nationalist—but it has found recent currency in China. An essay with that title has been making the rounds on...

Media

11.25.13

Chinese Netizens Applaud Beijing’s Aggressive New Defense Zone

Beijing has just thrown down the latest gauntlet in a long-simmering territorial dispute with Tokyo—and China’s citizens are cheering. On November 23, China’s Ministry of Defense released a map showing the “Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone,”...

Old Dreams for a New China

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Ever since China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, first uttered the phrase “China Dream” last year, people in China and abroad have been scrambling to decipher its meaning. Many nations have “dreams”; in Canada, the country’s most prominent popular...

Viewpoint

07.10.13

How the Snowden Affair Might End Up Helping U.S.-China Relations

Orville Schell & John Delury
The reason why both Americans and Chinese have become so nostalgic for the great Nixon/Kissinger-Mao Zedong/Zhou Enlai breakthrough in 1972 is because that was the last time that Sino-U.S. relations experienced a dramatic breakthrough. Now, most...

Conversation

04.30.13

What’s Really at the Core of China’s “Core Interests”?

Shai Oster, Andrew J. Nathan & more
Shai Oster:It’s Pilates diplomacy—work on your core. China’s diplomats keep talking about China’s core interests and it’s a growing list. In 2011, China included its political system and social stability as core interests. This year, it has added a...

Books

11.09.12

Strong Society, Smart State

James Reilly
The rise and influence of public opinion on Chinese foreign policy reveals a remarkable evolution in authoritarian responses to social turmoil. James Reilly shows how Chinese leaders have responded to popular demands for political participation with a sophisticated strategy of tolerance, responsiveness, persuasion, and repression—a successful approach that helps explain how and why the Communist Party continues to rule China.Through a detailed examination of China's relations with Japan from 1980 to 2010, Reilly reveals the populist origins of a wave of anti-Japanese public mobilization that swept across China in the early 2000s. Popular protests, sensationalist media content, and emotional public opinion combined to impede diplomatic negotiations, interrupt economic cooperation, spur belligerent rhetoric, and reshape public debates. Facing a mounting domestic and diplomatic crisis, Chinese leaders responded with a remarkable reversal, curtailing protests and cooling public anger toward Japan. Far from being a fragile state overwhelmed by popular nationalism, market forces, or information technology, China has emerged as a robust and flexible regime that has adapted to its new environment with remarkable speed and effectiveness. Reilly's study of public opinion's influence on foreign policy extends beyond democratic states. It reveals how persuasion and responsiveness sustain Communist Party rule in China and develops a method for examining similar dynamics in different authoritarian regimes. He draws upon public opinion surveys, interviews with Chinese activists, quantitative media analysis, and internal government documents to support his findings, joining theories in international relations, social movements, and public opinion.  — Columbia University Press

The Five “Vermin” Threatening China

Geremie Barmé
China Story
In Yuan Peng’s 2012 repertoire of what are now popularly known as the ‘New Black Five Categories of People’ were identified as: rights lawyers, underground religious activities, dissidents, Internet leaders and vulnerable groups

Han Han: “Why Aren't You Grateful?”

Ian Johnson
New York Review of Books
When looking for Chinese reactions to the anti-Japanese riots that took place in late September, it was probably not much of a surprise that the Western press turned to Han Han, the widely read Shanghai-based blogger. In characteristic form, Han...

National Identity: Pictures of the Enemy

N.D.
Economist
The national identity has become so unfortunately bound up with demonstrations against Japan. So we turn from recent differences to subjects less timely. The horrors of the Nanjing massacre of 1937 have long stoked the imagination of...

Sinica Podcast

09.21.12

The Island Imbroglio

Kaiser Kuo, Damien Ma & more from Sinica Podcast
As Xi Jinping has stepped back into the public eye this week, the reappearance of China’s heir apparent has been upstaged by large demonstrations across the country as tensions mount over territorial claims to the Diaoyu (or Senkaku) Islands. As...

China and Japan Must Break Out of History’s Trap

Pankaj Mishra
Bloomberg
So what about the Sino-Japanese relationship periodically enrages nationalists in both countries? What is this trap of historical memory and nationalist myth-making in which both countries find themselves?

Beijing’s Dangerous Game

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
Over the past few days, angry crowds in more than thirty Chinese cities have trashed Japanese stores, overturned Japanese cars, shouted “Down with Japan,” and carried banners that demand Chinese sovereignty over the uninhabited Diaoyu Islands in the...