Features

08.23.18

What Satellite Images Can Show Us about ‘Re-education’ Camps in Xinjiang

Jessica Batke
Claims that “re-education” camps are merely vocational training centers seem even less credible after one looks at the work of Shawn Zhang. A law student focusing on jurisprudence at the University of British Columbia in Canada, in May Zhang began...

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}

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...

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...

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...

Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo, Who Fought for Democracy in China, Dies in Police Custody

Wall Street Journal
Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, who embodied the hopes of China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy movement long after the protests were crushed, died in detention on Thursday after a battle with liver cancer, according to a government statement. He...

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...

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.

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.

China’s Last Tiananmen Prisoner Set to be Freed, but Frail

Gillian Wong
New York Times
Miao Deshun, the 51-year-old former factory worker, is severely ill after spending more than half his life behind bars

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'...

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...

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...

Caixin Media

10.06.15

Authorities Should Do More to Protect China’s Lawyers

A Communist Party group led by General Secretary Xi Jinping that was established to spearhead reform efforts finished a document on September 15 addressing the plight of lawyers. A day later, top judicial authorities, including the Supreme People...

10 Most Censored Countries

Committee to Protect Journalists
For more than 10 years, China has been among the top 3 jailers of journalists in the world, a distinction that it is unlikely to lose soon.

Opinion: Gao Yu Verdict Sends Clear Message to Regime Critics in China

Deutsche Welle
Chinese journalist Gao Yu's seven year sentence again shows how Beijing authorities deal with critics of the regime...

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...

Viewpoint

01.16.15

The Plight of China’s Rights Lawyers

Frances Eve
As the year came to a close, at least seven prominent Chinese human rights lawyers rang in the New Year from a jail cell. Under President Xi Jinping, 2014 was one of the worst years in recent memory for China’s embattled civil society. Bookending...

China Steps up Political Arrests, Prosecutions

Agence France Presse
Agence France-Presse
A total of 2,318 people were arrested or indicted on charges of “endangering state security”, the US-based Dui Hua Foundation said, citing statistics from China’s central prosecution office. 

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}

Excerpts

05.28.14

‘Staying’—An Excerpt from ‘People’s Republic of Amnesia’

Louisa Lim
Zhang Ming has become used to his appearance startling small children. Skeletally thin, with cheeks sunk deep into his face, he walked gingerly across the cream-colored hotel lobby as if his limbs were made of glass. On his forehead were two large,...

Publisher of Book Critical of China’s Leader Is Arrested

Chris Buckley
New York Times
Yiu Mantin, a retired engineer from Hong Kong, had plans to distribute a withering denunciation of Xi Jinping. 

Reports

03.17.09

The Tibetan Policy Act of 2002: Background and Implementation

Kerry Dumbaugh
Peony Lui
Congressional Research Service
U.S. policy on Tibet is governed by the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002 (TPA), enacted as part of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of FY2003 (P.L. 107-228). In addition to establishing a number of U.S. principles with respect to human rights,...

On Leaving a Chinese Prison

Jiang Qisheng from New York Review of Books
“What I did, what landed me in prison, was really quite simple—I just said in public what my fellow citizens were saying in all those other nooks.” —Jiang Qisheng

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”...