Viewpoint

03.08.19

Here’s How the Trade War Is Affecting Hollywood

Ying Zhu
In February 2017, the United States and China began renegotiating the five-year film pact that had limited the annual number of foreign film exports to China to 34 and the share of revenue payable to foreign-rights holders to 25 percent of gross box...

Conversation

08.20.18

How To Fight China’s Sharp Power

Thorsten Benner, Insa Ewert & more
There is a debate raging about China’s sharp power and how to defend against it, whether it’s investment screening, shuttering Confucius institutes, or forcing visa reciprocity for journalists. But how does a fractious, divided world not only resist...

China’s Plan to Win Friends and Influence Includes Ski Slopes and Spas

Alexandra Stevenson and Cao Li
New York Times
In Thailand, a theater rigged with hydraulic seats will give moviegoers the sensation of flight. In Australia, an indoor ski slope is going up near the beaches of the Gold Coast. In the Czech Republic, a spa with Chinese medicine is under...

China’s Human Rights Record, Aggressive Military Expansion Damage Its Soft Power Rating

Liu Zhen
South China Morning Post
China’s soft power has been weakened by its hard line on foreign policy and human rights, according to an annual survey released on Thursday.

Sinica Podcast

07.09.18

Kurt Campbell on U.S.-China Diplomacy

Kaiser Kuo from Sinica Podcast
Kaiser talks to former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell about his career, his critique of engagement, and the fascinating events that happened on his watch—including the extrication of blind activist...

As Chinese ‘Crepe’ Catches On Abroad, a Fight to Preserve Its Soul

Mike Ives and Tiffany May
New York Times
When is a pancake not a pancake?

China's Top Paper Says Australian Media Reports Are Racist

Reuters Staff
Reuters
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said last week he took reports very seriously that China’s Communist Party had sought to interfere in his country.

Viewpoint

11.17.17

China and the United States Are Equals. Now What?

Robert Daly
Donald Trump’s Asia trip was historic in one respect: it belatedly focused American attention on the competition between the United States and China for global primacy. China has risen, the era of uncontested American leadership has ended, and any...

Trump’s Granddaughter Plays Diplomat Once More as She Sings for ‘Grandpa’ Xi Jinping

Laura Zhou
South China Morning Post
She might be only five years old, but Arabella Kushner played her diplomatic role perfectly again on Wednesday as she helped ease the interaction between two of the world’s most powerful men – Chinese President Xi Jinping and her grandfather, Donald.

Inside China’s Secret ‘Magic Weapon’ for Worldwide Influence

James Kynge, Lucy Hornby, and Jamil...
Financial Times
On the Google map of Beijing there is an empty quarter, an urban block next to the Communist party’s leadership compound in which few of the buildings are named. At street level, the aura of anonymity is confirmed. Uniformed guards stand by grand...

China Is Quietly Reshaping the World

Anja Manuel
Atlantic
The Pakistani town of Gwadar was until recently filled with the dust-colored cinderblock houses of about 50,000 fishermen. Ringed by cliffs, desert, and the Arabian Sea, it was at the forgotten edge of the earth. Now it’s one centerpiece of China’s...

Books

08.15.17

Outsourced Children

Leslie Wang
It’s no secret that tens of thousands of Chinese children have been adopted by American parents and that Western aid organizations have invested in helping orphans in China. But why have Chinese authorities allowed this exchange, and what does it reveal about processes of globalization?Countries that allow their vulnerable children to be cared for by outsiders are typically viewed as weaker global players. However, Leslie K. Wang argues that China has turned this notion on its head by outsourcing the care of its unwanted children to attract foreign resources and secure closer ties with Western nations. She demonstrates the two main ways that this “outsourced intimacy” operates as an ongoing transnational exchange: first, through the exportation of mostly healthy girls into Western homes via adoption, and second, through the subsequent importation of first-world actors, resources, and practices into orphanages to care for the mostly special needs youth left behind.Outsourced Children reveals the different care standards offered in Chinese state-run orphanages that were aided by Western humanitarian organizations. Wang explains how such transnational partnerships place marginalized children squarely at the intersection of public and private spheres, state and civil society, and local and global agendas. While Western societies view childhood as an innocent time, unaffected by politics, this book explores how children both symbolize and influence national futures. —Stanford University Press{chop}Related Reading:“Outsourced Children: Orphanage Care and Adoption in Globalizing China,” Catherine Ceniza Choy, H-Net Reviews, February 2017

‘China Has Conquered Kenya’: Inside Beijing’s New Strategy to Win African Hearts and Minds

Jonathan Kaiman
Los Angeles Times
It took the StarTimes satellite TV salesman about 30 minutes to install a pipeline for Chinese propaganda into Francis Gitonga’s squat, cinder-block home here in southern Kenya, near Africa’s Great Rift Valley.

Is New Transformers a Sign of China’s Hollywood Fatigue?

Sherry Fei Ju and Charles Clover
Financial Times
Like a high-flying space robot shot out of the sky, the Transformers film franchise has crash-landed in China—singeing a promising Hollywood business model in the process.

Conversation

06.09.17

Australia Is Debating Chinese Influence. Should the U.S. Do the Same?

Bruce Jacobs, Kerry Brown & more
“The Chinese Communist Party is waging a covert campaign of influence in Australia,” went the claim in the newspaper The Age, in a series of articles exploring China’s hard and soft power “Down Under.” The articles set off a domestic debate about...

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...

Books

04.25.17

China’s Hegemony

Ji-Young Lee
Many have viewed the tribute system as China’s tool for projecting its power and influence in East Asia, treating other actors as passive recipients of Chinese domination. China's Hegemony sheds new light on this system and shows that the international order of Asia’s past was not as Sinocentric as conventional wisdom suggests. Instead, throughout the early modern period, Chinese hegemony was accepted, defied, and challenged by its East Asian neighbors at different times, depending on these leaders’ strategies for legitimacy among their populations. This book demonstrates that Chinese hegemony and hierarchy were not just an outcome of China’s military power or Confucian culture but were constructed while interacting with other, less powerful actors’ domestic political needs, especially in conjunction with internal power struggles.Focusing on China-Korea-Japan dynamics of East Asian international politics during the Ming and High Qing periods, Ji-Young Lee draws on extensive research of East Asian language sources, including records written by Chinese and Korean tributary envoys. She offers fascinating and rich details of war and peace in Asian international relations, addressing questions such as: why Japan invaded Korea and fought a major war against the Sino-Korean coalition in the late sixteenth century; why Korea attempted to strike at the Ming empire militarily in the late fourteenth century; and how Japan created a miniature tributary order posing as the center of Asia in lieu of the Qing empire in the seventeenth century. By exploring these questions, Lee’s in-depth study speaks directly to general international relations literature and concludes that hegemony in Asia was a domestic, as well as an international, phenomenon with profound implications for the contemporary era. —Columbia University Press{chop}

Conversation

04.14.17

Ivanka: A ChinaFile Conversation

Rebecca E. Karl, Yishu Mao & more
At a time of strained and erratic relations between the U.S. and China, Ivanka Trump, the President’s daughter and, more recently, a member of his administration, has emerged as an unlikely but singularly potent emissary, not to just to China’s...

Books

03.16.17

Hollywood Made in China

Aynne Kokas
China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001 ignited a race to capture new global media audiences. Hollywood moguls began courting Chinese investors to create entertainment on an international scale—from behemoth theme parks to blockbuster films. Hollywood Made in China examines these new collaborations, where the distinctions between Hollywood’s “dream factory” and Xi Jinping’s “Chinese Dream” of global influence become increasingly blurred. With insightful policy analysis, ethnographic research, and interviews with CEOs, directors, and film workers in Beijing, Shanghai, and Los Angeles, Aynne Kokas offers an unflinching look at China’s new role in the global media industries. A window into the partnerships with Chinese corporations that now shape Hollywood, this book will captivate anyone who consumes commercial media in the twenty-first century. —University of California Press{chop}

Features

02.04.17

Why’s Beijing So Worried About Western Values Infecting China’s Youth?

Eric Fish
In early December, Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered the country’s universities to “adhere to the correct political orientation.” Speaking at a conference on ideology and politics in China’s colleges, he stressed that schools must uphold the...

China is Poised to Benefit from Trump’s Ambiguous Africa Policy

Eric Olander and Cobus van Staden
Huffington Post
By neglecting to propose a clear approach toward the continent, the future U.S. president may end up boosting Beijing

Rwanda is a Landlocked Country with Few Natural Resources. So Why is China Investing So Heavily in it?

Lily Kuo
Quartz
Rwanda doesn't fit the usual narrative of China's interest in Africa-- namely that China is only interested in the continent's resources...

Is China Getting Better at Charming Southeast Asia on the South China Sea?

Bill Hayton
Diplomat
Beijing looks to be getting better at how it uses soft power in the region

How to Counter China’s Global Propaganda Offensive

Mareike Ohlberg and Bertram Lang
New York Times
It has been a difficult year for many Western democracies — and China is rubbing it in.

Conversation

01.13.16

Does Chinese Investment Pose a Threat to Hollywood?

Jonathan Landreth, Stanley Rosen & more
The Wanda Group, China’s leading real estate developer, on Monday paid $3.5 billion for a controlling stake in Hollywood studio Legendary Entertainment, maker of Jurassic World, among other global blockbusters. At a time when Hollywood is...

Media

01.07.16

Assessing China’s Plan to Build Internet Power

Scott D. Livingston
When the Chinese Communist Party targeted clean energy in its 11th Five Year Plan (2006-2010), the resulting investment spree upended the global clean energy market almost overnight. Now, as China approaches its 13th Five Year Plan, a new policy...

China Bars Anastasia Lin, Miss World Canada (and Rights Advocate)

New York Times
A Chinese who moved to Canada as a kid, the charismatic Lin is a practitioner of Falun Gong, the spiritual movement China calls an “evil cult.”

Chinese Youth Admire American Culture But Remain Wary of U.S. Policy

CHRIS BUCKLEY
New York Times
“We really like American culture, but we also like to have a government that doesn’t show weakness abroad.”

Warner Bros. in Talks to Make Movies in China

Ben Fritz and Shalini Ramachandran
Wall Street Journal
The joint venture would produce local-language films for Asian audience.

China’s Confucius Institutes and the Soft War

David Volodzko
Diplomat
The first Confucius Institute opened its door in November 2004 in Seoul, South Korea. Hanban, or the Chinese National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language.

Star Wars to Screen in China for First Time Ever

Time
The Shanghai International Film Festival will screen the original six films.

Wang Jianlin, a Billionaire at the Intersection of Business and Power in China -

Michael Forsythe
New York Times
Wang tends to present himself as the pragmatic face of big business in China.

Nepal Rejects Taiwan Rescue Team Offer, Says Minister

Agence France-Presse
Nepal does not recognize Taiwan, considered by China as part of its territory awaiting to be reunited since their split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.

China Buzzing Over President's First ‘Selfie’

Kerry Allen
BBC
The photo was posted by Fadli Zon of the Great Indonesia Movement Party from the Asian-African Summit in Jakarta.

Chinese Cultural Diplomacy in Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The Chinese government has spent billions of dollars in Africa on public diplomacy initiatives that are intended to improve the country’s image. Central to that strategy is the growing network of Confucius Institutes (CIs) spread across the...

Conversation

04.16.15

How Much Consumerism Can China Afford?

Andrew Batson & Matthew Crabbe
This week, a blockbuster movie celebrating speedy cars and the racing life landed atop China’s box office. The Hollywood import Fast and Furious 7 grossed $63 million in one day (as reported by Bloomberg), the most-ever for a single title in that...

Chinese Dreams and the African Renaissance

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Leaders in both China and Africa have articulated new visions for their respective regions that project a strong sense of confidence, renewal, and a break from once-dominant Western ideologies. In both cases, argues East is Read blogger Mothusi...

How China Plans to Shape New Asian Order

Charles Hutzler
Wall Street Journal
At the center of these efforts is the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and plans for pan-Asian infrastructure .

Chinese Studies at the University of Botswana

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
It’s long been said that while China may have an Africa policy, Africans do not have a China policy. In particular, too many Africans do not understand the language, culture, and politics of their new number one trading partner. The University of...

A Softer Touch on Soft Power

David Bandurski
China Media Project
Soft power has become strategically important for China because cultural productivity and influence are now regarded as important components of comprehensive national power.

China Communist Party Magazine Blasts Professors Who Spread ‘Western Values’

George Chen
South China Morning Post
Party journal's commentary targets liberal academics after President Xi Jinping calls for 'ideological guidance' for teachers and students ...

Study Examines How Overseas Chinese Students Respond to Criticism of Their Country

Elizabeth Redden
Inside Higher Ed
Do conversations between domestic and foreign students result in mutual understanding and friendly feelings?

Excerpts

01.20.15

China’s Losing Bet Against History

Daniel Kliman
In 1991, Deng Xiaoping famously explained that in order to reassure the world of its peaceful intentions, China should “cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership...

China Strives to Be on African Minds, and TV Sets

Bree Feng
New York Times
While China imposes strict controls on foreign-produced entertainment at home, it is also eager to see its cultural products embraced abroad. And in Africa, Chinese television shows have become immensely popular — at least according to the Chinese...

As Chinese Duo Perform at American Music Awards, Those at Home Are Skeptical

Te-Ping Chen and Yang Jie
Wall Street Journal
In an indication of how fragile domestic confidence is in the country’s cultural exports, many Chinese commentators were immediately skeptical of the award’s authenticity. By the next morning on Weibo, the phrase “Chopstick Brothers bought an award...

Toronto School District Cancels Plans for Confucius Institute

Austin Ramzy
New York Times
Canada’s largest school district moved to terminate its agreement with the institute, which would have offered after-school Chinese language and culture classes, over concerns about China’s human rights record and restrictions on academic freedom.

Media

10.21.14

Chinese Doubt Their Own Soft Power Venture

On September 27, Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong read aloud a letter written by President Xi Jinping at a ceremony in Beijing celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Confucius Institute (CI) program, an international chain of academic centers...

Chinese Media Accuse Japanese Manga Star Doraemon of Subverting Youth

Justin McCurry
Guardian
“Doraemon is a part of Japan’s efforts of exporting its national values and achieving its cultural strategy; this is an undisputed fact,” the local communist party newspaper Chengdu Daily said in an editorial.

China’s Soft-Power Fail

Adam Minter
Bloomberg
This was not the reception that the Chinese government had in mind in 2004 when it inaugurated the Confucius Institute program as a means of improving its image abroad and projecting “soft power.”

In China, a Search for Oscar Contenders

Edward Wong
New York Times
A film from mainland China has yet to win an Oscar, and Chinese officials are eager for the cultural validation that the award brings.

For Australia, a Celebration of China in Theme Park Form

Bree Feng
New York Times
Get ready for Chappypie China Time, a $500 million, 39-acre Chinese culture theme park that aims to bring Australia a replica of the Forbidden City.

Can Frank Underwood Beat China’s Censors?

Adam Minter
Bloomberg
At first glance, the Chinese government’s announcement of regulations restricting foreign programming that can be shown on Chinese streaming-video sites would appear to be very bad news for business.

China to Limit Foreign TV Shows on Video-Streaming Sites

Lillian Lin
Wall Street Journal
Regulators expected to cap amount of imported television content at 30 percent.

Sinica Podcast

08.15.14

Finding the ‘Essence’ of China

Kaiser Kuo, David Moser & more from Sinica Podcast
This week, Kaiser Kuo and David Moser are delighted to host Jeremiah Jenne, Director at the Hutong, Beijing’s premier cultural exchange center, for a conversation that picks apart China’s obsession with “Chinese characteristics” and asks whether...

The War of Words in China

Andrew Jacobs
New York Times
I didn't ask for a Wikipedia page, but a few months ago, alerted by a friend, I found that someone had created one, ostensibly devoted to my journalistic achievements, but accusing me of writing over 400 mostly negative articles on China...

Conversation

07.01.14

The Debate Over Confucius Institutes PART II

Gregory B. Lee, Michael Hill & more
Last week, ChinaFile published a discussion on the debate over Confucius Institutes–Chinese language and culture programs affiliated with China’s Ministry of Education—and their role on university campuses. The topic, and several of the...

Paramount Rushes for Beijing ‘Transformers’ Premiere Amid Dispute

Julie Makinen
Los Angeles Times
The studio was hit by claims of a product-placement deal gone sour.

Yang Lan, the ‘Oprah of China,’ Expands Her Reach

Lily Rothman
Time
Yang Lan is partnering with MAKERS to bring the women's-stories platform to China...

CCTV Africa: The Frontline of Soft-Power Diplomacy

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Since its launch in 2012, CCTV Africa has grown considerably in its distribution and programming. However, the central question remains as to whether or not anyone is actually watching, to justify the massive investment undertaken by the Chinese...

“The Big Bang Theory” and Our Future with China

Evan Osnos
New Yorker
The United States has never faced a rival whose ordinary people lead lives that have so much in common with ours in America. (The Soviets did not get Carson.)