Books

09.20.17

China’s Great Migration

Bradley Gardner
China’s rise over the past several decades has lifted more than half of its population out of poverty and reshaped the global economy. What has caused this dramatic transformation? In China’s Great Migration: How the Poor Built a Prosperous Nation, author Bradley Gardner looks at one of the most important but least discussed forces pushing China’s economic development: the migration of more than 260 million people from their birthplaces to China’s most economically vibrant cities. By combining an analysis of China’s political economy with current scholarship on the role of migration in economic development, China’s Great Migration shows how the largest economic migration in the history of the world has led to a bottom-up transformation of China.Gardner draws from his experience as a researcher and journalist working in China to investigate why people chose to migrate and the social and political consequences of their decisions. In the aftermath of China’s Cultural Revolution, the collapse of totalitarian government control allowed millions of people to skirt migration restrictions and move to China’s growing cities, where they offered a massive pool of labor that propelled industrial development, foreign investment, and urbanization. Struggling to respond to the demands of these migrants, the Chinese government loosened its grip on the economy, strengthening property rights and allowing migrants to employ themselves and each other, spurring the Chinese economic miracle.More than simply a narrative of economic progress, China’s Great Migration tells the human story of China’s transformation, featuring interviews with the men and women whose way of life has been remade. In its pages, readers will learn about the rebirth of a country and millions of lives changed, hear what migration can tell us about the future of China, and discover what China’s development can teach the rest of the world about the role of market liberalization and economic migration in fighting poverty and creating prosperity. —Independent Institute{chop}

Africa Needs Infrastructure, China Wants to Build It. So What’s the Problem?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Every week seemingly brings a new announcement of a Chinese-financed mega project somewhere in Africa. Last week’s announcement of a $5.8 billion power station in Nigeria that will be financed and built by Chinese state-owned companies is typical of...

Sinica Podcast

09.11.17

China’s Tightening Grip on Cyberspace

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Adam Segal returns to Sinica to comment on China’s recent cybersecurity law—where it came from, how it changed as it was being drafted, and how it may shape the flow of information in China in the future. Other issues discussed include the...

Beijing’s Bold New Censorship

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
Authoritarians, in China and elsewhere, normally have preferred to dress their authoritarianism up in pretty clothes. Lenin called the version of dictatorship he invented in 1921 “democratic centralism,” but it became clear, especially after Stalin...

Reports

09.01.17

The Costs of International Advocacy

Human Rights Watch
Even as it engages with U.N. human rights institutions, China has worked consistently and often aggressively to silence criticism of its human rights record before U.N. bodies and has taken actions aimed at weakening some of the central mechanisms...

Sinica Podcast

08.30.17

U.S.-China Relations After Six Months of Trump

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Has the last half year of turbulent U.S.-China relations and Chinese politics passed you by? Confused you? Perhaps you’d like a clear recap in plain English? If yes, then this is the podcast episode for you.

Breaking Down the U.S. Trade Deficit with China

Paul Haenle & Yukon Huang from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
A positive relationship between the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies, is crucial for promoting global growth and development. The bilateral relationship, however, has become increasingly fraught by disagreements over what a...

Books

08.21.17

China’s Banking Transformation

James Stent
In this timely and provocative book, James Stent, a banker with decades of experience in Asian banking and fluency in Chinese language, explains how Chinese banks work, analyzes their strengths and weaknesses, and sets forth the challenges they face in a slowing economy. Without minimizing the real issues Chinese banks face, China’s Banking Transformation challenges negative media accounts and reports of “China bears.” Based on his 13 years of service on the boards of China Minsheng Bank, a privately owned listed bank, and China Everbright Bank, a state-controlled listed bank, the author brings the informed view of an insider to the reality of Chinese banking.China’s Banking Transformation demonstrates that Chinese banks have transformed into modern, well-run commercial banks, playing a vital role supporting the country’s extraordinary economic growth. Acknowledging that China’s banks are different from Western banks, the author explains that they are hybrid banks, borrowing extensively from Western models, but at the same time operating within a traditional Chinese cultural framework and in line with China’s governance model.From his personal experience working at board level, Stent describes the governance and management of China’s banks, including the role of the Communist Party. He sees China’s banks as embedded in ancient concepts of how government and society work in China, and also as actors within a market socialist political economy. The Chinese banking system today bears similarities with banking in Northeast Asian “developmental states” of recent past, and also pre-1949 Chinese banking.As the first account of Chinese banking by a Westerner who has worked in China’s banks, China’s Banking Transformation should be read by anyone interested in the political economy of contemporary China, in Asian development issues, and in banking issues generally. The book dispels misconceptions and provides insight into the financial aspects of China’s economic growth story. —Oxford University Press{chop}

When the Law Meets the Party

Ian Johnson
Like an army defeated but undestroyed, China’s decades-long human rights movement keeps reassembling its lines after each disastrous loss, miraculously fielding new forces in the battle against an illiberal state. Each time, foot soldiers and...

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...

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}

Books

08.01.17

Globalization against Democracy

Guoguang Wu
Globalization has reconfigured both the external institutional framework and the intrinsic operating mechanisms of capitalism. The global triumph of capitalism implies the embracing of the market by the state in all its variants, and that global capitalism is not confined to the shell of nation-state democracy. Guoguang Wu provides a theoretical framework of global capitalism for specialists in political economy, political science, economics, and international relations, for graduate and undergraduate courses on globalization, capitalism, development, and democracy, as well as for the public who are interested in globalization. Wu examines the new institutional features of global capitalism and how they re-frame movements of capital, labor, and consumption. He explores how globalization has created a chain of connection in which capital depends on effective authoritarianism, while democracy depends on capital. Ultimately, he argues that the emerging state-market nexus has fundamentally shaken the existing institutional systems, harming democracy in the process. —Cambridge University Press{chop}

Sinica Podcast

08.01.17

Joan Kaufman on Foreign Nonprofits and Academia in China

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Joan Kaufman is a fascinating figure: Her long and storied career in China started in the early 1980s, when she was what she calls a “cappuccino-and-croissant socialist from Berkeley.” Today, she is the director for academics at the Schwarzman...

An ‘Alternative Future’ for the Korean Peninsula

Paul Haenle & Evans Revere from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
Despite widespread international condemnation of North Korea’s recent intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test, strategic distrust and misperceptions continue to impede deeper cooperation between the United States and China on the nuclear...

Sinica Podcast

07.24.17

Straight Talk on North Korea and China

Jeremy Goldkorn & Kaiser Kuo from Sinica Podcast
Lyle Goldstein, an associate professor and strategic researcher at the U.S. Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute, is an expert on Chinese and Russian security strategies. He is also an insightful commentator on what is going on...

Sinica Podcast

07.19.17

Guo Wengui: The Extraordinary Tale of a Chinese Billionaire Turned Dissident

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more
The life and times of Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui reads much like an epic play, so it is fitting that we have included with this podcast a dramatis personæ to explain the many characters in Guo’s story. Scroll to the bottom, below the...

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...

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...

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...

The Passion of Liu Xiaobo

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
In the late 1960s Mao Zedong, China’s Great Helmsman, encouraged children and adolescents to confront their teachers and parents, root out “cow ghosts and snake spirits,” and otherwise “make revolution.” In practice, this meant closing China’s...

Books

07.10.17

Destined for War

Graham Allison
China and the United States are headed toward a war neither wants. The reason is Thucydides’s Trap, a deadly pattern of structural stress that results when a rising power challenges a ruling one. This phenomenon is as old as history itself. About the Peloponnesian War that devastated ancient Greece, the historian Thucydides explained: “It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.” Over the past 500 years, these conditions have occurred 16 times. War broke out in 12 of them. Today, as an unstoppable China approaches an immovable America and both Xi Jinping and Donald Trump promise to make their countries “great again,” the 17th case looks grim. Unless China is willing to scale back its ambitions or Washington can accept becoming number two in the Pacific, a trade conflict, cyberattack, or accident at sea could soon escalate into all-out war.In Destined for War, the eminent Harvard scholar Graham Allison explains why Thucydides’s Trap is the best lens for understanding U.S.-China relations in the 21st century. Through uncanny historical parallels and war scenarios, he shows how close we are to the unthinkable. Yet, stressing that war is not inevitable, Allison also reveals how clashing powers have kept the peace in the past—and what painful steps the United States and China must take to avoid disaster today. —Houghton Mifflin Harcourt{chop}

Books

07.06.17

China’s Asian Dream

Tom Miller
“China,” Napoleon once remarked, “is a sleeping lion. Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will shake the world.” In 2014, President Xi Jinping triumphantly declared that the lion had awoken. Under his leadership, China is pursuing a dream to restore its historical position as the dominant power in Asia.From the Mekong River Basin to the Central Asian steppe, China is flexing its economic muscles for strategic ends. By setting up new regional financial institutions, Beijing is challenging the post-World War II order established under the watchful eye of Washington. And by funding and building roads, railways, ports, and power lines—a New Silk Road across Eurasia and through the South China Sea and Indian Ocean—China aims to draw its neighbors ever tighter into its embrace.Combining a geopolitical overview with on-the-ground reportage from a dozen countries, China’s Asian Dream offers a fresh perspective on one of the most important questions of our time: what does China’s rise mean for the future of Asia. —Zed Books{chop}

Sinica Podcast

06.28.17

Top U.S. Diplomat David Rank on Why He Resigned to Protest Trump

Kaiser Kuo & David Rank from Sinica Podcast
David Rank became the leading diplomat for one of America’s most important embassies during the transition when Iowa governor Terry Branstad formally succeeded former Montana senator Max Baucus as U.S. Ambassador to China on May 24, 2017. He soon...

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}

Sinica Podcast

06.23.17

Islamophobia in China, Explained

Kaiser Kuo, Alice Y. Su & more from Sinica Podcast
Islamophobia isn’t a phenomenon limited to Trump’s America or the Europe of Brexit and Marine Le Pen. It has taken root in China, too—in a form that bears a striking resemblance to what we’ve seen in recent years in the West. The Chinese Party-state...

Novels from China’s Moral Abyss

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Modern China was built on the nearly thirty ruthless years of Mao’s rule. The country’s elite—the “literati” of educated small landowners who held the empire together at the local level—was brutally eliminated. Almost everyone’s personal life was...

Books

06.20.17

Shadow Banking and the Rise of Capitalism in China

Andrew Collier
This book is about the growth of shadow banking in China and the rise of China’s free markets. Shadow Banking refers to capital that is distributed outside the formal banking system, including everything from Mom and Pop lending shops to online credit to giant state owned banks called Trusts. They have grown from a fraction of the economy 10 years ago to nearly half of all China’s annual 25 trillion renminbi (U.S.$4.1 trillion) in lending in the economy today.Shadow Banks are a new aspect of capitalism in China—barely regulated, highly risky, yet tolerated by Beijing. They have been permitted to flourish because many companies cannot get access to formal bank loans. It is the Wild West of banking in China. If we define capitalism as economic activity controlled by the private sector, then Shadow Banking is still in a hybrid stage, a halfway house between the state and the private economic. But it is precisely this divide that makes Shadow Banking important to the rise of capitalism. How Beijing handles this large free market will say a lot about how the country’s economy will grow—will free markets be granted greater leeway? —Palgrave Macmillan{chop}

Are China’s New Naval Capabilities a Game Changer?

Paul Haenle & Robert Ross from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
As the post-World War II order adjusts to a rising China, America’s predominance in the Asia-Pacific faces new challenges. Over the past five years, China has substantially built up its navy and demonstrated more assertive behavior toward its...

Books

06.13.17

Fortune Makers

Michael Useem, Harbir Singh, Liang Neng, Peter Cappelli
Fortune Makers analyzes and brings to light the distinctive practices of business leaders who are the future of the Chinese economy. These leaders oversee not the old state-owned enterprises, but private companies that have had to invent their way forward out of the wreckage of an economy in tatters following the Cultural Revolution.Outside of brand names such as Alibaba and Lenovo, little is known, even by the Chinese themselves, about the people present at the creation of these innovative businesses. Fortune Makers provides sharp insights into their unique styles—a distinctive blend of the entrepreneur, the street fighter, and practices developed by the Communist Party—and their distinctive ways of leading and managing their organizations that are unlike anything the West is familiar with.When Peter Drucker published Concept of the Corporation in 1946, he revealed what made large American corporations tick. Similarly, when Japanese companies emerged as a global force in the 1980s, insightful analysts explained the practices that brought Japan’s economy out of the ashes—and what managers elsewhere could learn to compete with them. Now, based on unprecedented access, Fortune Makers allows business leaders in the United States and the rest of the West to understand the essential character and style of Chinese corporate life and its dominant players, whose businesses are the foundation of the domestic Chinese market and are now making their mark globally. —PublicAffairs{chop}

Sinica Podcast

06.12.17

How Does Investigative Reporting Happen in China?

Kaiser Kuo & Li Xin from Sinica Podcast
Li Xin is the Managing Director of Caixin Global, the English-language arm of China’s most authoritative financial news source, Caixin. For over 10 years, she has worked closely with the Editor-in-Chief of Caixin, Hu Shuli, whose famously fearless...

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...

Sinica Podcast

06.07.17

Kai-Fu Lee on Artificial Intelligence in China

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Kai-Fu Lee is one of the most prominent figures in Chinese technology. He founded China’s noted early-stage venture capital firm Sinovation Ventures after launching and heading up Google’s China operations during their years of growth from 2005 to...

Chinese Debt in Africa: How Much Is Too Much?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
China now owns more than half of Kenya’s external debt, and that figure is likely to grow even higher as President Uhuru Kenyatta turns to Beijing to finance large infrastructure projects across the country. Most recently, China completed the first...

The U.S. and China Spend Millions Fighting Malaria in Africa, So Why Don’t They Work Together?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Both the United States and People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.) spend hundreds of millions of dollars to fight malaria in Africa. A pair of experts at the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia contend that if the U.S. and P.R.C. stopped working in...

Books

06.01.17

Welfare, Work, and Poverty

Qin Gao
Welfare, Work, and Poverty provides the first systematic and comprehensive evaluation of the impacts and effectiveness of China’s primary social assistance program—the “dibao,” or “Minimum Livelihood Guarantee”—since its inception in 1993. The dibao serves the dual function of providing a basic safety net for the poor and maintaining social and political stability. Despite currently being the world’s largest welfare program in terms of population coverage, evidence on the dibao’s performance has been lacking. This book offers important new empirical evidence and draws policy lessons that are timely and useful for both China and beyond. Specifically, author Qin Gao addresses the following questions:How effective has the dibao been in targeting the poor and alleviating poverty?Have dibao recipients been dependent on welfare or able to move from welfare to work?How has the dibao affected recipients’ consumption patterns and subjective well-being?Do they use dibao subsidies to meet survival needs (such as food, clothing, and shelter) or to invest in human capital (such as health and education)?Are they distressed by the stigma associated with receiving dibao, or do they become more optimistic about the future and enjoy greater life satisfaction because of dibao support?And finally, what policy lessons can we learn from the existing evidence in order to strengthen and improve the dibao in the future?Answers to these questions not only help us gain an in-depth understanding of the dibao’s performance, but also add the Chinese case to the growing international literature on comparative welfare studies. Welfare, Work, and Poverty is essential reading for political scientists, economists, sociologists, public policy researchers, and social workers interested in learning about and understanding contemporary China. —Oxford University Press{chop}Related Reading:“Welfare, Work, and Poverty: How Effective is Social Assistance in China?,” by Qin Gao, China Policy Institute: Analysis

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...

What Do Trump’s Views on Europe Mean for China?

Paul Haenle & Tomáš Valášek from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
President Trump will travel to Europe in May for his first time since taking office to meet with European Union (E.U.) leaders, attend a NATO meeting, and visit the organization’s headquarters in Brussels. Although he has walked back some of his...

Reports

05.24.17

China’s Social Credit System: A Big-Data Enabled Approach to Market Regulation with Broad Implications for Doing Business in China

Mirjam Meissner
Mirjam Meissner
Mercator Institute for China Studies
Under the catchphrase “Social Credit System,” China is currently implementing a new and highly innovative approach to monitoring, rating, and regulating the behavior of market participants. The Social Credit System will have significant impact on...

‘The New York Times’ on China, from on the Ground in Namibia

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Western news coverage of China’s engagement in Africa often is confined to the business section, generally focusing on loans, resource deals, or other financial dealings. Moreover, ambitious international feature reporting, particularly from Africa...

Sinica Podcast

05.16.17

America’s Top Trade Negotiator in 2001 Looks at China Today

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Charlene Barshefsky was a name you couldn’t avoid if you were in Beijing in the late 1990s. As the United States Trade Representative from 1997 to 2001, she led the American team that negotiated China’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO...

Evaluating Trump’s First 100 Days

Paul Haenle & Jon Finer from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
One hundred days into Donald Trump’s presidency, he has shocked the establishment and foreign governments with many foreign policy reversals, and also some surprising areas of consistency. In this podcast, Paul Haenle sat down with Jon Finer, former...

Books

05.15.17

A World Trimmed with Fur

Jonathan Schlesinger
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, booming demand for natural resources transformed China and its frontiers. Historians of China have described this process in stark terms: pristine borderlands became breadbaskets. Yet Manchu and Mongolian archives reveal a different story. Well before homesteaders arrived, wild objects from the far north became part of elite fashion, and unprecedented consumption had exhausted the region’s most precious resources.In A World Trimmed with Fur, Jonathan Schlesinger uses these diverse archives to reveal how Qing rule witnessed not the destruction of unspoiled environments, but their invention. Qing frontiers were never pristine in the nineteenth century—pearlers had stripped riverbeds of mussels, mushroom pickers had uprooted the steppe, and fur-bearing animals had disappeared from the forest. In response, the court turned to “purification”; it registered and arrested poachers, reformed territorial rule, and redefined the boundary between the pristine and the corrupted. Schlesinger’s resulting analysis provides a framework for rethinking the global invention of nature. —Stanford University Press{chop}

Sinica Podcast

05.12.17

What It Takes to Be a Good China-Watcher

Kaiser Kuo & Bill Bishop from Sinica Podcast
China-watching isn’t what it used to be. Not too long ago, the field of international China studies was dominated by a few male Westerners with an encyclopedic knowledge of China, but with surprisingly little experience living in the country or...

China Appears to be Losing Interest in Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Beijing-based investment attorney Kai Xue joins Eric and Cobus to discuss why he thinks Africa is no longer appealing to Chinese companies. Kai Xue is a longtime Sino-African affairs analyst and carefully monitors trade, foreign direct investment,...

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}

The Earthy Glories of Ancient China

Ian Buruma from New York Review of Books
French schoolchildren used to be taught that they were descended from the Gauls, a tribe that emerged around the fifth century BC. It is a common conceit of 19th-century nationalism that citizens of modern nation-states can trace their national...

Books

05.02.17

China’s Mobile Economy

Winston Ma
China’s Mobile Economy: Opportunities in the Largest and Fastest Information Consumption Boom is a cutting-edge text that spotlights the digital transformation in China. Organized into three major areas of the digital economy within China, this ground-breaking book explores the surge in e-commerce of consumer goods, the way in which multi-screen and mobile Internet use has increased in popularity, and the cultural emphasis on the mobile Internet as a source of lifestyle- and entertainment-based content. Targeted at the global business community, this lucid and engaging text guides business leaders, investors, investment banking professionals, corporate advisors, and consultants in grasping the challenges and opportunities created by China’s emerging mobile economy, and its debut on the global stage.The year of 2014-15 marks the most important inflection point in the history of the Internet in China. Almost overnight, the world’s largest digitally-connected middle class went both mobile and multi-screen (smart phone, tablets, laptops, and more), with huge implications for how consumers behave and what companies need to do to successfully compete. As next-generation mobile devices and services take off, China’s strength in this arena will transform it from a global “trend follower” to a “trend setter.”Understand what the digital transformation in China is, and impact on global capital markets, foreign investors, consumer companies, and the global economy as a whole.Explore the e-commerce consumption boom in the context of the Chinese market.Understand the implications of the multi-screen age and mobile Internet for China’s consumersSee how mobile Internet use, its focus on lifestyle and entertainment is aligned with today’s Chinese culture.Learn about the mobile entertainment habits of China’s millennial generation and the corresponding new advertisement approaches.The development of China’s mobile economy is one of the most important trends that will reshape the future of business, technology, and society both in China and the world. China's Mobile Economy introduces you to the digital transformation in China, and explains how this transformation has the potential to transform both China and the global consumer landscape. —John Wiley & Sons, Inc.{chop}

Should the Chinese Government Be in American Classrooms?

Richard Bernstein from New York Review of Books
Since their beginning in 2005, Confucius Institutes (CIs) have been set up to teach Chinese language classes in more than 100 American colleges and universities, including large and substantial institutions like Rutgers University, the State...

The U.N.’s Role in China’s African Development Agenda

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
China’s embrace of multilateral diplomacy in Africa is a relatively new phenomenon. For years, Beijing rejected the Western aid model, preferring instead to work bilaterally with African governments where they often employed aid (or infrastructure)...

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}

Sinica Podcast

04.24.17

Chris Buckley: The China Journalist’s China Journalist

Chris Buckley, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Chris Buckley is a highly regarded and very resourceful correspondent based in Beijing for The New York Times. He has worked as a researcher and journalist in China since 1998, including a stint at Reuters, and is one of the few working China...

Books

04.21.17

A New Deal for China’s Workers?

Cynthia Estlund
China’s labor landscape is changing, and it is transforming the global economy in ways that we cannot afford to ignore. Once-silent workers have found their voice, organizing momentous protests, such as the 2010 Honda strikes, and demanding a better deal. China’s leaders have responded not only with repression but with reforms. Are China’s workers on the verge of a breakthrough in industrial relations and labor law reminiscent of the American New Deal?In A New Deal for China’s Workers? Cynthia Estlund views this changing landscape through the comparative lens of America’s twentieth-century experience with industrial unrest. China’s leaders hope to replicate the widely shared prosperity, political legitimacy, and stability that flowed from America’s New Deal, but they are irrevocably opposed to the independent trade unions and mass mobilization that were central to bringing it about. Estlund argues that the specter of an independent labor movement, seen as an existential threat to China’s one-party regime, is both driving and constraining every facet of its response to restless workers.China’s leaders draw on an increasingly sophisticated toolkit in their effort to contain worker activism. The result is a surprising mix of repression and concession, confrontation and cooptation, flaws and functionality, rigidity and pragmatism. If China’s laborers achieve a New Deal, it will be a New Deal with Chinese characteristics, very unlike what workers in the West achieved in the last century. Estlund’s sharp observations and crisp comparative analysis make China’s labor unrest and reform legible to Western readers. —Harvard University Press{chop}

Recreating China’s Imagined Empire

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
China’s influence in the world has become a persistent theme of these early days of the Donald Trump era. During his campaign, Trump portrayed China (not entirely incorrectly) as the leading malefactor in the politics of international trade—holding...

What Happened at Mar-a-Lago?

Paul Haenle & Zha Daojiong from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
One week before their first in-person meeting, President Trump told the world on Twitter that he expected the dialogue with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to be “a very difficult one” unless China was prepared to make major concessions on issues...

China Conducts Foreign Policy in Africa without Judgment

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
In this edition of the China in Africa podcast, we pull the focus back to look at China’s rapidly evolving foreign policy agenda in this new era of Western populism led by Donald Trump in the United States.François Godement, Director of the Asia and...

Report Shows Labor Conditions at Chinese and American Firms in Kenya Comparable

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Nairobi-based researcher Zander Rounds joins Eric and Cobus to discuss a new comparative study on employment relations at Chinese and American firms in Kenya. Zander co-authored the report with China House Kenya founder Huang Hongxiang as part of a...

Trump and Xi’s First Meeting

Paul Haenle & Ashley J. Tellis from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
All eyes are on Mar-a-Lago this week, where Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump will meet for the first time. The summit is expected to be heavy on symbolism rather than on concrete deliverables, but the ability to set a...

Books

04.05.17

China’s Crony Capitalism

Minxin Pei
When Deng Xiaoping launched China on the path to economic reform in the late 1970s, he vowed to build “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” More than three decades later, China’s efforts to modernize have yielded something very different from the working people’s paradise Deng envisioned: an incipient kleptocracy, characterized by endemic corruption, soaring income inequality, and growing social tensions. China’s Crony Capitalism traces the origins of China’s present-day troubles to the series of incomplete reforms from the post-Tiananmen era that decentralized the control of public property without clarifying its ownership.Beginning in the 1990s, changes in the control and ownership rights of state-owned assets allowed well-connected government officials and businessmen to amass huge fortunes through the systematic looting of state-owned property—in particular land, natural resources, and assets in state-run enterprises. Mustering compelling evidence from over two hundred corruption cases involving government and law enforcement officials, private businessmen, and organized crime members, Minxin Pei shows how collusion among elites has spawned an illicit market for power inside the party-state, in which bribes and official appointments are surreptitiously but routinely traded. This system of crony capitalism has created a legacy of criminality and entrenched privilege that will make any movement toward democracy difficult and disorderly.Rejecting conventional platitudes about the resilience of Chinese Communist Party rule, Pei gathers unambiguous evidence that beneath China’s facade of ever-expanding prosperity and power lies a Leninist state in an advanced stage of decay. —Harvard University Press{chop}

China Spends Billions in Egypt to Woo the Middle East

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz’s recent state visit to Beijing is the latest evidence that China is maneuvering to play a bigger role in the Middle East and Persian Gulf. The two countries reportedly signed deals worth upwards of $65 billion during...

Trump’s First Test in Asia, Part II

Paul Haenle & Michael Green from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
While President Trump appoints new officials to his administration and reviews policy frameworks, Asia-Pacific leaders are moving ahead. Since taking office, Trump has grappled with consequential developments in the region, ranging from North Korea’...