Features

10.26.17

A Brooklyn Gospel Choir Goes to China

Jocelyn Ford & Yuyang Liu
Pastor Frank Haye was quietly nervous as he paced the lawn around the temporary stage at one of China’s biggest rock festivals.It was the last day of concerts by rock, electronic, and metal bands, and in a few hours, his Brooklyn gospel choir would...

China Targets Muslim Uighurs Studying Abroad

Emily Feng
Financial Times
China has launched a campaign to repatriate and interrogate Uighurs studying overseas, the latest draconian measure against the Muslim minority.

Chinese Police Detain ‘Female Jesus Cult’ Members

BBC
Police in China have detained 18 suspected members of a banned religious cult, state news agency Xinhua said. The group is notorious for some of its members beating a woman to death in a McDonald's restaurant in 2014 after she refused to give...

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...

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...

China Is Touting Its Protection of Human Rights in a Muslim-Majority Region Riven by Violence

Quartz
China put out a policy paper today on human rights in the Muslim-heavy Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where the Chinese government has been cracking down extensively in recent years.

Books

05.08.17

The Souls of China

Ian Johnson
From journalist Ian Johnson, a revelatory portrait of religion in China today—its history, the spiritual traditions of its Eastern and Western faiths, and the ways in which it is influencing China’s future.The Souls of China tells the story of one of the world’s great spiritual revivals. Following a century of violent anti-religious campaigns, China is now filled with new temples, churches, and mosques—as well as cults, sects, and politicians trying to harness religion for their own ends. Driving this explosion of faith is uncertainty over what it means to be Chinese and how to live an ethical life in a country that discarded traditional morality a century ago and is searching for new guideposts.Johnson first visited China in 1984. In the 1990s, he helped run a charity to rebuild Daoist temples, and in 2001 he won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the suppression of the Falun Gong spiritual movement. While researching this book, he lived for extended periods with underground church members, rural Daoists, and Buddhist pilgrims. Along the way, he learned esoteric meditation techniques, visited a nonagenarian Confucian sage, and befriended government propagandists as they fashioned a remarkable embrace of traditional values. He has distilled these experiences into a cycle of festivals, births, deaths, detentions, and struggle—a great awakening of faith that is shaping the soul of the world’s newest superpower. —Pantheon{chop}

Media

04.19.17

ChinaFile Presents: Ian Johnson on ‘The Souls of China’

Ian Johnson & Ian Buruma
On April 13, ChinaFile and The New York Review of Books co-hosted the launch of author Ian Johnson’s new book The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao at the Asia Society’s New York headquarters. Johnson discussed the book with Ian...

Welcome to Yiwu: China’s Testing Ground for a Multicultural City

Helen Roxburgh
Guardian
Unlike Guangzhou’s African community—who have faced prejudice and hostility—Yiwu’s foreign residents enjoy an ‘unusual freedom of worship,’ with the municipal government even consulting international traders on city business

‘All-out Offensive’ in Xinjiang Risks Worsening Grievances

Carrie Gracie
BBC
China is in the midst of what it calls a “people's war on terror” in its far west. What sparked this latest campaign was a knife attack...

China and Vatican Near Pivotal Deal on Bishops

Chun Han Wong
Wall Street Journal
Accord would help end decades of estrangement between Beijing and Catholic Church

Books

02.07.17

Shanghai Faithful

Jennifer Lin
Within the next decade, China could be home to more Christians than any other country in the world. Through the 150-year saga of a single family, this book vividly dramatizes the remarkable religious evolution of the world’s most populous nation. Shanghai Faithful is both a touching family memoir and a chronicle of the astonishing spread of Christianity in China. Five generations of the Lin family—buffeted by history’s crosscurrents and personal strife—bring to life an epoch that is still unfolding.A compelling cast—a poor fisherman, a doctor who treated opium addicts, an Ivy League-educated priest, and the charismatic preacher Watchman Nee—sets the book in motion. Veteran journalist Jennifer Lin takes readers from remote nineteenth-century mission outposts to the thriving house churches and cathedrals of today’s China. The Lin family—and the book’s central figure, the Reverend Lin Pu-chi—offer witness to China’s tumultuous past, up to and beyond the betrayals and madness of the Cultural Revolution, when the family’s resolute faith led to years of suffering. Forgiveness and redemption bring the story full circle. With its sweep of history and the intimacy of long-hidden family stories, Shanghai Faithful offers a fresh look at Christianity in China—past, present, and future. —Rowman & Littlefield{chop}

Sinica Podcast

01.13.17

Can the Vatican and China Get Along?

Jeremy Goldkorn, Kaiser Kuo & more from Sinica Podcast
Ian Johnson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has lived in Beijing and Taiwan for more than half of the past 30 years, writing for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, and other publications. He has...

In China’s Tiny Catholic Community, Hopes Rise for Beijing- Vatican Ties

Rob Schmitz
NPR
Beijing and the Vatican seem to want to come to an agreement, though who has the last word in appointing bishops is still a point of contention

Popular Chinese Muslim Website Down After Posting Letter Critical of Xi

Christian Shepherd
Reuters
Users of China Muslim Net say they have been unable to access the website since Saturday

China and the Church: The “Outlaw” Do-It-Yourself Bishop

Carrie Grace
BBC
Mr. Dong is a thorn in the side of both the Vatican and the Chinese state. This 58-year-old laborer from a village in northern China calls himself a bishop

Dalai Lama Says He Will Visit Trump in Move Bound to Anger China

Ben Blanchard
Reuters
"I think there are some problems to go to United States, so I will go to see the new president," the Dalai Lama told reporters, without elaborating...

India’s China Policy Off Target, Says Modi’s Mandarin- Speaking ‘Guided Missile’

Debasish Chowdhury
South China Morning Post
Delhi’s go-to guy for talking to Beijing is one of the few Indian leaders who openly advocate closer ties

China Mayor Probed After ‘Minority Women Use Witchcraft to Ensnare Men’ Comments

Neil Connor
Telegraph
A top official apparently veered from a seemingly positive agenda to highlight concerns about the minority, which is known in China for being superstitious

Features

10.21.16

The Separation Between Mosque and State

Alice Y. Su
Driving through the Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu province, in China’s northwest, minarets puncture the sky every few minutes. Many rise out of mosques that resemble Daoist temples, their details a blend of traditional Chinese and...

Pope Francis Targets Deal With China in Year of Mercy

Stephanie Kirchgaessner
Guardian
Agreement on issue of Vatican’s right to appoint bishops in China would be biggest diplomatic feat of Francis’s papacy

China's Other Muslims

Economist
By choosing assimilation, China’s Hui have become one of the world’s most successful Muslim minorities

China Seeks Tighter Grip in Wake of a Religious Revival

Ian Johnson
New York Times
Increased regulations on religion are the latest move by President Xi to strengthen the Communist Party’s control over society and combat foreign influences.

Postcard

05.05.16

If China Builds It, Will the Arab World Come?

Kyle Haddad-Fonda
In May 2016, the Emirates airline inaugurated its new direct service to the Chinese city of Yinchuan. Yinchuan joins Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou as destinations served by Emirates, meaning that a passenger who boards a plane in Dubai is now...

Media

02.22.16

Leave China, Study in America, Find Jesus

Shelly Cai was 18 years old when she left the southern Chinese metropolis of Nanjing to enroll in the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In August 2010, after a 13-hour flight from Shanghai to Chicago and a three-hour bus ride, Cai finally arrived in...

Media

02.11.16

Chinese Students Are Flooding U.S. Christian High Schools

It is no secret that Chinese students are pouring into the United States; over 300,000 of them attended U.S. colleges and universities in 2015 alone, and Chinese are filling up spots in U.S. secondary schools in search of a better education and an...

Why Are Tibetans Setting Themselves on Fire?

Tsering Woeser from New York Review of Books
February 27, 2009, was the third day of Losar, the Tibetan New Year. It was also the day that self-immolation came to Tibet. The authorities had just cancelled a Great Prayer Festival (Monlam) that was supposed to commemorate the victims of the...

China’s Database of ‘Living Buddhas’ Is the Latest Attempt to Control Tibetan Affairs

Hannah Beech
Time
The Chinese government’s self-declared right to choose living Buddhas extends to the Dalai Lama.

China Denounces Dalai Lama's 'Sympathy' for Islamic State

Sui-Lee Wee and Ben Blanchard
Reuters
"By saying, 'listen, understand and respect' them, it exposes, in his very bones, his sympathy or endorsement for IS."...

China Stick to Right to Decide Reincarnation of Dalai Lama

Reuters
The Dalai Lama and China's officially atheist Communist Party have repeatedly tussled over who has final authority on the issue of reincarnation...

China to Push Cultural 'Blending' in Xinjiang Stability Push

Megha Rajagopalan and Ben Blanchard
Reuters
China will push the study of Mandarin and the "blending" of different races as part of a new stability push in the troubled far western region of Xinjiang...

Human Rights: What Is China Accused of?

Camila Ruz
BBC
China's human rights record has been criticised for years...

In a Region Disturbed by Ethnic Tensions, China Keeps Tight Lid on a Massacre

ANDREW JACOBS
New York Times
Armed with only knives, the assailants struck at the coal mine in the dead of night.

Dalai Lama: China More Concerned About Future Dalai Lamas Than I Am

Mick Krever
CNN
"I have no concern," he told Amanpour in London, adding that it is "possible" he would be the last Dalai Lama...

Media

10.02.15

Meet China’s Salman Rushdie

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
On a warm late afternoon in June, I sat with Perhat Tursun as he slowly exhaled a puff of smoke from a blue cigarette with shiny gold trim. Arrayed on the pale lace tablecloth before us was an assortment of nuts, sunflower seeds, and wine. The...

China’s Latest Ally in Its Crackdown on Religion: The Pope

Zheping Huang
Quartz
This week, Chinese president Xi Jinping and Pope Francis missed each other on their back-to-back visits to the United States.

Media

09.23.15

‘God’s United Front’ and the Battle Over China’s Crosses

This article first appear in Chinese on September 2 in Hong Kong-based outlet The Initium Media. Foreign Policy translates with permission, with edits for brevity and clarity.On the evening of August 16, nearly one hundred pastors, ministers, and...

Sinica Podcast

09.10.15

China’s Millennials

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn record from San Francisco, where they interview Eric Fish, a long-time China resident, writer at Asia Society, and author of the recent book China’s Millennials: The Want Generation. The hosts talk...

China Cracks Down on Hong Kong Evangelists

Juliana Liu
BBC
A 2014 survey of more than 1,000 Protestant churches in Hong Kong by the Hong Kong Church Renewal Movement gives some insight into their activities.

Media

07.21.15

China: The Best and the Worst Place to Be a Muslim Woman

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
A woman’s solitary voice, earthy and low, rises above the seated worshipers. More than 100 women stand, bow, and touch their foreheads to the floor as a female imam leads evening prayers at a women-only mosque during the first week of Islam’s holy...

China Says Thousands Forced to Flee Myanmar Fighting

Ben Blanchard
Reuters
The Yunnan government said that since Feb. 9 there had been more than 30,000 trips by border residents both into and out of China.

Viewpoint

02.04.15

Why China Is Banning Islamic Veils

Timothy Grose & James Leibold
This week, regional authorities outlawed Islamic veils from all public spaces in the regional capital of China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR). The Urumqi ban, which went into effect on Sunday February 1 (coincidentally the third annual*...

Features

02.04.15

The City of Urumqi Prohibition on Wearing Items That Mask the Face or Robe the Body

A Proclamation from the Standing Committee of the Urumqi People’s CongressThe “Regulation banning the wearing of items that mask the face or robe the body in public places in the city of Urumqi,” which was passed at the 21st Meeting of the 15th...

Religion Among African Immigrants in China

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
Nestled in apartments and offices throughout the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou are dozens of improvised churches that cater to the region’s Pentacostal Africans, largely from Nigeria. These churches not only serve the community’s religious...

Pope Francis’ China Problem

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
China-watchers, friends of Tibet, and admirers of Pope Francis were amazed and disappointed last week when the Pope announced he would not be meeting the Dalai Lama during the Tibetan leader’s visit to Rome. The Dalai Lama was there with other...

Dalai Lama Concedes He May Be the Last

BBC
BBC
Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has said he realizes that he may be the last to hold the title. But he told the BBC it would be better that the centuries-old tradition ceased "at the time of a popular Dalai Lama"...

Pope Francis Denies Dalai Lama an Audience Because of China Concerns

Reuters
Guardian
The Dalai Lama, in Rome for a meeting of Nobel peace prize winners, told Italian media he had approached the Vatican about a meeting but was told it could create inconveniences.

China Arrests 1,000 Members of Banned Religious Cult 'Eastern Lightning'

Katie Hunt
CNN
State news agency Xinhua said that the group, which Beijing regards as a dangerous doomsday cult, cheated people, illegally collected money and "violated the law under the guise of religion."...

Media

08.07.14

Beards and Muslim Headscarves Banned From Buses In One Xinjiang City

A city in China’s remote western Xinjiang region has temporarily banned men with beards and women with Muslim headscarves from taking public buses. The extreme security measure—to be implemented for the duration of a sports competition slated to...

22 Attackers Shot Dead in Xinjiang Violence as Extremists Wielding Axes Targeted Civilians

South China Morning Post
Attack on government office and police station follows series of violent incidents in restive province.

Deadly McDonald’s Attack Highlights Fears About Cults in China

Julie Makinen
Los Angeles Times
The perpetrators were six members of a religious cult, including a middle-age man, his two grown daughters and his 12-year-old son, who became angry when refused a phone number.

China Denies Declaring War on Christians After Mega-Church is Razed

Tom Phillips
Telegraph
Communist Party officials have rejected claims they have launched an orchestrated campaign to slow the spread of Christianity in China, after the razing of a church in a city known as the "Jerusalem of the East"...

Chinese Atheists? What the Pew Survey Gets Wrong

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Earlier this month, I came across a fascinating opinion survey by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. The report asked people in forty countries whether belief in God is necessary for morality. Mostly, the results aren’t surprising...

The Brave Catholics of China

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Like most pilgrimage sites in China, the shrine in the village of Cave Gulley in Shanxi province is located partway up a mountain, reachable by steep stairs that are meant to shift worshipers’ attention from the world below to heaven above...

China’s Way to Happiness

Ian Johnson
New York Review of Books
The return of collective religious traditions is part of Chinese people's search for meaning and stability...

China’s Way to Happiness

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Richard Madsen is one of the modern-day founders of the study of Chinese religion. A professor at the University of California San Diego, the seventy-three-year-old’s works include Morality and Power in a Chinese Village, China and the American...

In Pictures: Chinese New Year Around the World

BBC
A Chinese folk artist performs at the opening ceremony of the Spring Festival Temple Fair in Beijing, one of millions of people around the world celebrating ahead of Chinese, or Lunar, New Year.

China’s Kaifeng Jews Rediscover Their Heritage

Tiffanie Wen
Daily Beast
In Kaifeng, where Sephardic Jews from the Silk Road settled in the 12th century, their descendants are rediscovering long-last religious practices and petitioning Israel for recognition.

Will China's New Leaders Change Tibet policy?

Martin Patience
BBC
Xi Zhongxun, father of China's new president, Xi Jinping, was a former leader known for a more conciliatory approach to Tibetans...

U.S. Rights Official Faults China on Tibetan Suppression

Nick Cumming-Bruce
New York Times
Navi Pillay says she's disturbed by reports of detentions, disappearances and the excessive use of force...