Reports

03.13.18

Forbidden Feeds: Government Controls on Social Media in China

PEN America
PEN International
Based on extensive interviews with writers, poets, artists, activists, and others personally affected by the government’s grip on online expression, as well as interviews with anonymous employees at Chinese social media companies, this report lays...

Excerpts

03.12.18

A Chinese Mayor-to-Be Tells His Story

Zak Dychtwald
When I lived with Tom in the city of Chengdu in 2015 and into 2016, he was a 23-year-old probationary member of the Chinese Communist Party, on his way to joining the organization’s nearly 90 million full members. He wanted to embark on a career in...

Books

03.09.18

End of an Era

Carl Minzner
Oxford University Press: Since the 1990s, Beijing’s leaders have firmly rejected any fundamental reform of their authoritarian one-party political system, even as a decades-long boom has reshaped China’s economy and society. On the surface, their efforts have been a success. Political turmoil has toppled former communist Eastern Bloc regimes, internal unrest overtaken Middle East nations, and populist movements risen to challenge established Western democracies. China, in contrast, has appeared a relative haven of stability and growth.But as Carl Minzner shows, a closer look at China’s reform era reveals a different truth. Over the past three decades, a frozen political system has fueled both the rise of entrenched interests within the Communist Party itself and the systematic underdevelopment of institutions of governance among state and society at large. Economic cleavages have widened. Social unrest has worsened. Ideological polarization has deepened.{node, 45901}Now, to address these looming problems, China’s leaders are progressively cannibalizing institutional norms and practices that have formed the bedrock of the regime’s stability in the reform era. Technocratic rule is giving way to black-box purges; collective governance sliding back towards single-man rule. The post-1978 era of “reform and opening up” is ending. China is closing down. Uncertainty hangs in the air as a new future slouches towards Beijing to be born. End of an Era explains how China arrived at this dangerous turning point, and outlines the potential outcomes that could result. {chop}

Excerpts

03.08.18

Reversing Reform

Carl Minzner
Political stability, ideological openness, and rapid economic growth were the hallmarks of China’s post-1978 reform era. But they are ending. China is entering a new era—the counter-reform era.

Sinica Podcast

03.06.18

Courts & Torts: Driving the Chinese Legal System

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
“Having read hundreds and hundreds of these cases, I have decided that I’m never going to drive in China.” That is what Benjamin Liebman, the director of the Center for Chinese Legal Studies at Columbia University, concluded after his extensive...

The Brands That Kowtow to China

Richard Bernstein from New York Review of Books
There’s been no joking as the apologies to China have come thick and fast in recent weeks, issued not by teenage singers but by some of the largest and richest multinational corporations in the world—the German luxury car manufacturer Daimler, the...

Sinica Podcast

03.01.18

Can Chinese Journalists Criticize the Party-State?

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Outside observers typically view China’s media as utterly shackled by the bonds of censorship, unable to critique the government or speak truth to power in any meaningful sense. In part, this is true. Censorship and other pressures do create “no-go...

Books

02.23.18

The Laws and Economics of Confucianism

Taisu Zhang
Cambridge University Press: Tying together cultural history, legal history, and institutional economics, The Laws and Economics of Confucianism: Kinship and Property in Pre-Industrial China and England offers a novel argument as to why Chinese and English pre-industrial economic development went down different paths. The dominance of Neo-Confucian social hierarchies in Late Imperial and Republican China, under which advanced age and generational seniority were the primary determinants of sociopolitical status, allowed many poor but senior individuals to possess status and political authority highly disproportionate to their wealth. In comparison, landed wealth was a fairly strict prerequisite for high status and authority in the far more “individualist” society of early modern England, essentially excluding low-income individuals from secular positions of prestige and leadership. Zhang argues that this social difference had major consequences for property institutions and agricultural production.{chop}Related Reading:“Confucian Economics: The World at Work,” Kazimierz Z. Poznanski, World Review of Political Economy, Summer 2015“What was the Great Divergence?,” C.W., The Economist, September 2, 2013The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy, Kenneth Pomeranz, Princeton, 2001Civil Law in Qing and Republican China (Law, Society, and Culture in China), Kathryn Bernhardt and Philip Huang, Stanford, 1994Order without Law: How Neighbors Settle Disputes, Robert Ellickson, Harvard, 1991

Hong Kong Millionaire’s Arrest Exposes Chinese Corruption in Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Former Hong Kong Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho Chi-ping pleaded not guilty last month to corruption charges brought by a U.S. federal court in New York after he was accused of offering bribes worth a total of U.S.$2.9 million to prominent...

Sinica Podcast

02.14.18

China’s Rise and America’s Myopia

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
China, as we say at the beginning of each Sinica Podcast episode, is a nation that is reshaping the world. But what does that reshaping really look like, and how does—and should—the world react to China’s role in globalization?

Where China’s Leaders Go in Africa May Surprise You

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Over the past 10 years Chinese leaders have made 79 official visits to 43 different African countries, according to new data from the Beijing-based consultancy Development Reimagined. Where the senior leadership goes offers some fascinating insights...

Books

02.07.18

Leftover in China

Roseann Lake
Editor’s note: After we originally posted this video interview about Leftover in China, questions were brought to our attention about the book. We took the video down while we reviewed these concerns, and we determined that the interview is suitable to run on our book video platform.W. W. Norton & Company: Factory Girls meets The Vagina Monologues in this fascinating narrative on China’s single women—and why they could be the source of its economic future.Forty years ago, China enacted the one-child policy, only recently relaxed. Among many other unintended consequences, it resulted in both an enormous gender imbalance—with predictions of over 20 million more men than women of marriage age by 2020—and China’s first generations of only-daughters. Given the resources normally reserved for boys, these girls were pushed to study, excel in college, and succeed in careers, as if they were sons.Now living in an economic powerhouse, enough of these women have decided to postpone marriage, or not marry at all, spawning a label: “leftovers.” Unprecedentedly well-educated and goal-oriented, they struggle to find partners in a society where gender roles have not evolved as vigorously as society itself, and where new professional opportunities have made women less willing to compromise their careers or concede to marriage for the sake of being wed. Further complicating their search for a mate, the vast majority of China’s single men reside in and are tied to the rural areas where they were raised. This makes them geographically, economically, and educationally incompatible with city-dwelling “leftovers,” who also face difficulty in partnering with urban men, given urban men’s general preference for more dutiful, domesticated wives.Part critique of China’s paternalistic ideals, part playful portrait of the romantic travails of China’s trailblazing women and their well-meaning parents who are anxious to see their daughters snuggled into traditional wedlock, Leftover in China focuses on the lives of four individual women against a backdrop of colorful anecdotes, hundreds of interviews, and rigorous historical and demographic research to show how these “leftovers” are the linchpin to China’s future.{chop}

Sinica Podcast

02.06.18

China’s Uighur Muslims, Under Pressure at Home and Abroad

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
By traveling not just to China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, where 10 to 15 million Uighurs live, but also to Syria, where some have fled and taken up arms with militant groups, Associated Press reporter Gerry Shih sought to answer the most...

Who Killed More: Hitler, Stalin, or Mao?

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
In these pages nearly seven years ago, Timothy Snyder asked the provocative question: Who killed more, Hitler or Stalin? As useful as that exercise in moral rigor was, some think the question itself might have been slightly off. Instead, it should...

How Trump’s Vulgar Comments Towards Africa Play Right into China’s Hands

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Somali-British freelance journalist Ismail Einahse joins Eric and Cobus to discuss his recent opinion column, “Trump’s Insults Will Nudge African Nations Closer To China.” The article, published on NPR.org, reflects a contentious debate going on...

Books

01.26.18

A Village with My Name

Scott Tong
When journalist Scott Tong moved to Shanghai, his assignment was to start up the first full-time China bureau for Marketplace, the daily business and economics program on public radio stations across the United States. But for Tong, the move became much more—it offered the opportunity to reconnect with members of his extended family who had remained in China after his parents fled the communists six decades prior. By uncovering the stories of his family’s history, Tong discovered a new way to understand the defining moments of modern China and its long, interrupted quest to go global.A Village with My Name offers a unique perspective on the transitions in China through the eyes of regular people who have witnessed such epochal events as the toppling of the Qing monarchy, Japan’s occupation during World War II, exile of political prisoners to forced labor camps, mass death and famine during the Great Leap Forward, market reforms under Deng Xiaoping, and the dawn of the One Child Policy. Tong’s story focuses on five members of his family, who each offer a specific window on a changing country: a rare American-educated girl born in the closing days of the Qing Dynasty, a pioneer exchange student, an abandoned toddler from World War II who later rides the wave of China’s global export boom, a young professional climbing the ladder at a multinational company, and an orphan (the author’s daughter) adopted in the middle of a baby-selling scandal fueled by foreign money. Through their stories, Tong shows us China anew, visiting former prison labor camps on the Tibetan plateau and rural outposts along the Yangtze, exploring the Shanghai of the 1930s, and touring factories across the mainland.With curiosity and sensitivity, Tong explores the moments that have shaped China and its people, offering a compelling and deeply personal take on how China became what it is today. —University of Chicago Press{chop}

China’s Evolving Military Strategy in Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Chris Alden, a professor of international relations and China-Africa scholar at the London School of Economics, joins Eric and Cobus to discuss his new book, China and Africa: Building Peace and Security Cooperation on the Continent.

The Red Emperor

Roderick MacFarquhar from New York Review of Books
This fall, the Nineteenth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (C.C.P.) gave proof that during his five years as general secretary Xi Jinping has become the most powerful leader of China since Mao Zedong died in 1976. Most observers, Chinese and...

What’s Next for Commercial Diplomacy with China?

Paul Haenle & Penny Pritzker from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
As the chief commercial advocate for U.S. businesses in policymaking, the Department of Commerce plays a crucial role in the U.S.-China trade and economic relationship. In the 99th episode of the China in the World Podcast, Paul Haenle spoke with...

‘The Biggest Taboo’

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
One of China’s most influential artists is forty-eight-year-old Qiu Zhijie. A native of southern China’s Fujian province, Qiu studied art in the eastern city of Hangzhou before moving to Beijing in 1994 to pursue a career as a contemporary artist...

Industrial Parks Are Africa’s Latest Gamble to Lure Chinese Manufacturers

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Freelance journalist William Davison joins Eric and Cobus to discuss his reporting from the Hawassa Industrial Park in Ethiopia, which is the latest high-stakes gamble taken by a number of African countries to lure Chinese manufacturers. Officials...

Shifts in U.S. Global Leadership

Paul Haenle & Jake Sullivan from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
Power in the world is increasingly being measured and exercised in economic terms with China, and other significant countries are already treating economic power as a core part of their statecraft. But Jake Sullivan, a former senior official in the...

Reports

12.12.17

Central Planning, Local Experiments

Mareike Ohlberg, Shazeda Ahmed, Bertram Lang
Shazeda Ahmed & Bertram Lang
Mercator Institute for China Studies
The “Social Credit System” is designed to monitor and rate citizens and companies in China and to guide their behavior. “It is a wide-reaching project that touches on almost all aspects of everyday life,” the authors Mareike Ohlberg, Bertram Lang,...

China and the Rise of Africa’s New Autocrats

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Anzetse Were is a Nairobi-based international development economist and newspaper columnist who is increasingly worried about a resurgence of autocratic rule in Africa. Buoyed by the United States’ apparent receding interest in promoting democratic...

Breaking Down Trump’s Visit to Asia

Paul Haenle & Daniel R. Russel from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
What is the future of geopolitics and U.S. engagement in the Asia-Pacific following President Donald Trump’s first official state visit to the region? In this podcast, Paul Haenle sat down with Daniel Russel, former Special Assistant to President...

Books

11.30.17

Finding Women in the State

Wang Zheng
Finding Women in the State is a provocative hidden history of socialist state feminists maneuvering behind the scenes at the core of the Chinese Communist Party. These women worked to advance gender and class equality in the early People’s Republic and fought to transform sexist norms and practices, all while facing fierce opposition from a male-dominated Chinese Communist Party leadership, from the local level to the central level. Wang Zheng extends this investigation to the cultural realm, showing how feminists within China’s film industry were working to actively create new cinematic heroines, and how they continued a New Culture anti-patriarchy heritage in socialist film production. This book illuminates not only the different visions of revolutionary transformation but also the dense entanglements among those in the top echelon of the Party. Wang discusses the causes for failure of China’s socialist revolution and raises fundamental questions about male dominance in social movements that aim to pursue social justice and equality. This is the first book engendering the People’s Republic of China high politics and has important theoretical and methodological implications for scholars and students working in gender studies as well as China studies. —University of California Press{chop}

China’s Art of Containment

Geremie R. Barmé
On the evening of May 20, 1989, in response to weeks of mass demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government placed Beijing under martial law. The following morning, in Hong Kong, far to the south, Wen Wei Po, the main Communist-...

The True Story of Lu Xun

Geremie R. Barmé from New York Review of Books
1.Addressing an audience at the Hong Kong YMCA in February 1927, the writer Lu Xun (the pen name of Zhou Shuren, 1881–1936) warned that despite ten years of literary revolution and the promotion of a written vernacular language, Chinese people had...

A New Generation Looks at the China-Africa Relationship

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Independent filmmakers Jidi Guo and Philip Man join Eric and Cobus to discuss their new documentary about how a new generation is responding to China’s growing influence in Kenya. This is the first documentary produced by the Shanghai-based pair,...

The North Korean Nuclear Threat: The View From Beijing

Paul Haenle & Jen Psaki from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
North Korea was atop the list of priorities for President Donald Trump during his first visit to China, but it remains to be seen how much substantive progress was made on bringing parties closer to a dialogue aimed at denuclearizing the Korean...

Excerpts

11.16.17

Mementos of 1949

Kevin Peraino
Bodies jostled, elbow to elbow, angling all morning for a spot in the square. Soldiers clomped in the cold—tanned, singing as they marched, steel helmets and bayonets under the October sun. Tanks moved in columns two by two; then howitzers, teams of...

Books

11.15.17

The Book of Swindles

Zhang Yingyu, Edited and Translated by Christopher Rea and Bruce Rusk
This is an age of deception. Con men ply the roadways. Bogus alchemists pretend to turn one piece of silver into three. Devious nuns entice young women into adultery. Sorcerers use charmed talismans for mind control and murder. A pair of dubious monks extorts money from a powerful official and then spends it on whoring. A rich student tries to bribe the chief examiner, only to hand his money to an imposter. A eunuch kidnaps boys and consumes their “essence” in an attempt to regrow his penis. These are just a few of the entertaining and surprising tales to be found in this 17th-century work, said to be the earliest Chinese collection of swindle stories.The Book of Swindles, compiled by an obscure writer from southern China, presents a fascinating tableau of criminal ingenuity. The flourishing economy of the late Ming period created overnight fortunes for merchants—and gave rise to a host of smooth operators, charlatans, forgers, and imposters seeking to siphon off some of the new wealth. The Book of Swindles, which was ostensibly written as a manual for self-protection in this shifting and unstable world, also offers an expert guide to the art of deception. Each story comes with commentary by the author, Zhang Yingyu, who expounds a moral lesson while also speaking as a connoisseur of the swindle. This volume, which contains annotated translations of just over half of the 80-odd stories in Zhang’s original collection, provides a wealth of detail on social life during the late Ming period and offers words of warning for a world in peril. —Columbia University Press{chop}

China is Challenging the West’s Dominance in Foreign Aid

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Quietly, and largely out of sight, China has emerged to become a major player in the foreign aid space, challenging institutions and norms long established by the West. Although China’s international development budgets remain a tightly guarded...

Chinese Investment is Reshaping Africa’s Manufacturing Sector

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Author Irene Yuan Sun argues in her new book that Africa is poised to become the world’s next manufacturing hub, boosted by Chinese investment and production expertise. With costs steadily rising in the People’s Republic of China, more and more...

Excerpts

11.06.17

The Past Is a Foreign Country

Xiaolu Guo
On Wednesday, November 8, the Chinese-British writer Guo Xiaolu joined the Asia Society’s Isaac Stone Fish in a conversation about the difficulty of existing in both the Western and Chinese worlds.In this excerpt from Guo’s recently published memoir...

Sexual Life in Modern China

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Throughout the late 1970s and 1980s, Chinese writers grappled with the traumas of the Mao period, seeking to make sense of their suffering. As in the imperial era, most had been servants of the state, loyalists who might criticize but never seek to...

China’s Appetite for Abalone Spurs Organized Crime in South Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Cape Town-based journalist Kimon de Greef joins Eric and Cobus to discuss the lucrative illegal abalone trade between South Africa and China that threatens the survival of this prized shellfish. The abalone trade, according to recent reporting by de...

The Chinese World Order

Andrew J. Nathan from New York Review of Books
Ten years ago the journalist James Mann published a book called The China Fantasy, in which he criticized American policymakers for using something he called “the Soothing Scenario” to justify the policy of diplomatic and economic engagement with...

New Documentary Portrays Nuanced View of Africans’ Experience Living in China

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
When filmmakers Zhang Yong, Hodan Abdi, and Fu Dong set out to make a new documentary on the African migrant experience in China, they were determined to ensure that their own voices and experiences came through in the story. Until now, most if not...

Excerpts

10.06.17

Nearly Dead on Arrival

Michael Meyer
I was a six-foot-two-inch rake whose strongest muscle was my mouth: at college I once talked down a mugger pressing a knife against my gut, and twice lost fistfights after telling off racists. I never felt big, but in China my size usually made me...

Books

10.06.17

Little Soldiers

Lenora Chu
In the spirit of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Bringing up Bébé, and The Smartest Kids in the World, Little Soldiers is a hard-hitting exploration of China’s widely acclaimed yet insular education system—held up as a model of academic and behavioral excellence—that raises important questions for the future of American parenting and education.When students in Shanghai rose to the top of international rankings in 2009, Americans feared that they were being “out-educated” by the rising superpower. An American journalist of Chinese descent raising a young family in Shanghai, Lenora Chu noticed how well-behaved Chinese children were compared to her boisterous toddler. How did the Chinese create their academic super-achievers? Would their little boy benefit from Chinese school?Chu and her husband decided to enroll three-year-old Rainer in China’s state-run public school system. The results were positive—her son quickly settled down, became fluent in Mandarin, and enjoyed his friends—but she also began to notice troubling new behaviors. Wondering what was happening behind closed classroom doors, she embarked on an exploratory journey, interviewing Chinese parents, teachers, and education professors, and following students at all stages of their education.What she discovered is a military-like education system driven by high-stakes testing, with teachers posting rankings in public, using bribes to reward students who comply, and shaming to isolate those who do not. At the same time, she uncovered a years-long desire by government to alleviate its students’ crushing academic burden and make education friendlier for all. The more she learns, the more she wonders: Are Chinese children—and her son—paying too high a price for their obedience and the promise of future academic prowess? Is there a way to appropriate the excellence of the system but dispense with the bad? What, if anything, could Westerners learn from China’s education journey?Chu’s eye-opening investigation challenges our assumptions and asks us to consider the true value and purpose of education. —Stanford University Press{chop}

North Korea’s Diplomats in Africa Are Making Big Money Selling Ivory to Chinese Consumers

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The tightening of international sanctions against North Korea is helping to fuel the illicit ivory trade in Africa as the increasingly isolated country searches for new ways to generate revenue, according to a new report from the Global Initiative...

Sinica Podcast

09.30.17

‘China in Drag: Travels with a Cross-Dresser’

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Michael Bristow, the Asia Pacific editor for the BBC World Service, has written a book called China in Drag: Travels with a Cross-Dresser, in which he recounts his time in China—his travels, his reporting, and his myriad experiences—through the...

Books

09.27.17

Cracking the China Conundrum

Yukon Huang
China’s rise is altering global power relations, reshaping economic debates, and commanding tremendous public attention. Despite extensive media and academic scrutiny, the conventional wisdom about China’s economy is often wrong. Cracking the China Conundrum provides a holistic and contrarian view of China’s major economic, political, and foreign policy issues.Yukon Huang trenchantly addresses widely accepted yet misguided views in the analysis of China’s economy. He examines arguments about the causes and effects of China’s possible debt and property market bubbles, trade and investment relations with the West, the links between corruption and political liberalization in a growing economy, and Beijing’s more assertive foreign policies. Huang explains that such misconceptions arise in part because China’s economic system is unprecedented in many ways—namely because it’s driven by both the market and state—which complicates the task of designing accurate and adaptable analysis and research. Further, China’s size, regional diversity, and uniquely decentralized administrative system pose difficulties for making generalizations and comparisons from micro to macro levels when trying to interpret China’s economic state accurately.This book not only interprets the ideologies that experts continue building misguided theories upon, but also examines the contributing factors to this puzzle. Cracking the China Conundrum provides an enlightening and corrective viewpoint on several major economic and political foreign policy concerns currently shaping China’s economic environment. —Oxford University Press{chop}Related Reading:“What the West Gets Wrong About China’s Economy,” Yukon Huang, Foreign Affairs, September 14, 2017“Challenging Conventional Wisdom,” Chen Weihua, China Daily, April 28, 2017“Cracking China’s Debt Conundrum,” Yukon Huang, Financial Times, December 6, 2016“Despite Slower Growth, China’s Economy Is Undergoing Major Changes,” NPR Interview with Yukon Huang, January 19, 2016

Cyber Norms in U.S.-China Relations

Paul Haenle & Tim Maurer from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
The United States and China agreed in 2015 that neither government would support or conduct cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property and committed to working with international partners to identify appropriate norms in cyberspace. Both countries...

Sinica Podcast

09.22.17

North Korea Behind the Scenes

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
North Korea is a mystery to nearly everyone—even those who have dedicated their lives to studying the country, including Korean experts based in Seoul, national security experts in Washington or Beijing, and a variety of foreigners who have spent...

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}Related Reading:“Outsourced Children: Orphanage Care and Adoption in Globalizing China,” Catherine Ceniza Choy, H-Net Reviews, February 2017

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...