Middle East Revolutions: The View from China

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
Chinese authorities have done what they can to block news of Egyptian people-power from spreading to China. Reports about Egypt in China’s state-run media have been brief and vacuous. On February 6, at the height of the protests, the People’s Daily...

The Worst Man-Made Catastrophe, Ever

Roderick MacFarquhar from New York Review of Books
When the first waves of Chinese graduate students arrived on American campuses in the early 1980s, they were excited at entering an unfettered learning environment. After the recent ravages of the Cultural Revolution, political science students had...

Reports

02.08.11

Beyond Symbolism? 

Lavina Lee
Cato Institute
The Obama administration has elevated nuclear disarmament to the center of its nuclear agenda through the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia and the release of the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). The administration also...

Reports

02.03.11

China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities

Ronald O'Rourke
Peony Lui
Congressional Research Service
The question of how the United States should respond to China’s military modernization effort, including its naval modernization effort, has emerged as a key issue in U.S. defense planning. This issue is of particular importance to the U.S. Navy,...

Reports

02.01.11

A Seventeen-Province Survey of Rural Land Rights in China

He Jianan
Landesa
China continues to boost economic development in the countryside by extending secure land tenure rights to its 200 million farming families, according to findings from a seventeen-province survey, published in the 2011 Chinese Academy of Social...

Reports

02.01.11

Prospects for Democracy in Hong Kong: The 2012 Election Reforms

Michael F. Martin
Peony Lui
Congressional Research Service
Support for the democratization of Hong Kong has been an element of U.S. foreign policy for over seventeen years. The democratization of Hong Kong is also enshrined in the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s quasi-constitution that was passed by China’s National...

Sinica Podcast

01.21.11

Hu Jintao and the Washington Summit

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
As part of our ongoing efforts to secure the hottest scoops for you, our Sinica team originally planned to storm Hu Jintao’s flight to Washington and record a live podcast with everyone’s favorite chairman during his flight across the Pacific. Sadly...

Books

01.15.11

Sound and Script in Chinese Diaspora

Jing Tsu
What happens when language wars are not about hurling insults or quibbling over meanings, but are waged in the physical sounds and shapes of language itself? Native and foreign speakers, mother tongues and national languages, have jostled for distinction throughout the modern period. The fight for global dominance between the English and Chinese languages opens into historical battles over the control of the medium through standardization, technology, bilingualism, pronunciation, and literature in the Sinophone world. Encounters between global languages, as well as the internal tensions between Mandarin and other Chinese dialects, present a dynamic, interconnected picture of languages on the move.In Sound and Script in Chinese Diaspora, Jing Tsu explores the new global language trade, arguing that it aims at more sophisticated ways of exerting influence besides simply wielding knuckles of power. Through an analysis of the different relationships between language standardization, technologies of writing, and modern Chinese literature around the world from the nineteenth century to the present, this study transforms how we understand the power of language in migration and how that is changing the terms of cultural dominance. Drawing from an unusual array of archival sources, this study cuts across the usual China-West divide and puts its finger on the pulse of a pending supranational world under “literary governance.”                 —Harvard University Press

Sinica Podcast

01.14.11

Amy Chua and the Tiger Mother Furor

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Judging from the explosive reaction to her recent Wall Street Journal editorial, it’s clear that Amy Chua's memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother has set off a storm of controversy over the appropriateness of “Chinese parenting” in America. Or...

China: From Famine to Oslo

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
Each year around the “sensitive” anniversary of the Beijing massacre of June 4, 1989, Ding Zilin, a seventy-four-year-old retired professor of philosophy, is accompanied by a group of plainclothes police whenever she leaves her apartment to go buy...

Sinica Podcast

01.07.11

China 2010—Year in Review

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week we take a look back at China in 2010, revisiting some of the biggest stories we covered and discussing a few we missed. With Kaiser Kuo hosting the discussion as usual, our guests in the studio include Sinica stalwarts and regulars Jeremy...

Reports

01.01.11

Early Childhood Development and Education in China: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty and Improving Future Competitiveness

World Bank
Given China's goal to develop a harmonious society and to improve the competitiveness of its future workforce in order to overcome the challenges of an aging population and move toward a high-income society, there is an urgent need to identify...

Reports

01.01.11

Reducing Inequality for Shared Growth in China: Strategy and Policy Options for Guangdong Province

World Bank
This report is the result of a partnership of the World Bank and the Guangdong provincial government to assess economic and regional inequality in Guangdong. It defines three major types of inequality: Absolute poverty, Inequality of Opportunity,...

Reports

01.01.11

Promises Unfulfilled: An Assessment of China’s National Human Rights Action Plan

Sara Segal-Williams
Human Rights Watch
In 2009, the Chinese government unveiled the National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP), the first of its kind in China. However, two years on, deficiencies in the action plan and government failures to adequately implement some of its key...

Reports

01.01.11

Equity and Public Governance in Health System Reform: Challenges and Opportunities for China

Hana Brixi, Yan Mu, Beatrice Targa and David Hipgrave
Sara Segal-Williams
World Bank
Achieving the objective of China's current health system reform, namely equitable improvements in health outcomes, will be difficult not least because of the continuously growing income disparities in the country. The analysis in this paper...

Reports

01.01.11

Rural Energy Consumption and Its Impacts on Climate Change

He Jianan
Global Environmental Institute
Global Envionment Institute has started a rural energy program, focusing on the effects of rural energy consumption on climate change, and seeking out short- to long-term solutions to rural energy consumption and emissions, along with selecting key...

Books

12.28.10

A Subversive Voice in China

Shelley Wing Chan
Mo Yan, the most prolific writer in present-day China as well as one of its most prominent avant-gardists, is an author whose literary works have enjoyed an enormous readership and have caught much critical attention not only in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan but also in many other countries around the world. This book provides the most comprehensive exposition of Mo Yan’s fiction in any language. Author Shelley Chan delves into Mo Yan’s entire collection of literary works, considering novels as well as short stories and novellas. In this analysis, Mo Yan’s works are dealt with in a diachronic fashion––Chan discusses the development of Mo Yan’s style throughout his career by considering themes that he has addressed in a variety of narratives over time. This provides the reader with valuable insight into understanding how individual narratives fit into the entire collection of Mo Yan’s body of literary work. Scholars will also welcome the book’s extensive reference to secondary scholarship and theory, which not only skillfully deals with the Chinese scholarship on Mo Yan but also thoroughly covers the English-language sources. This book on one of the most important figures in contemporary Chinese literary history will be a landmark resource for scholars in Asian studies, cultural studies, and literary criticism, as well as an enticing read for people interested in Chinese literature and historical fiction.  —Cambria Press

Sinica Podcast

12.24.10

The Long Arm of History

Kaiser Kuo, David Moser & more from Sinica Podcast
{vertical_photo_right}Visitors to China might be forgiven for concluding that history carries more weight here. For whatever the reason, even the far-off ghosts of the Opium War, the scramble for concessions, and the Treaty of Versailles still haunt...

Xanadu in New York

Eliot Weinberger from New York Review of Books
1.The Mongols inhabited a vast, featureless grass plain where the soil was too thin for crops. They raised horses, cattle, yaks, sheep, and goats, and subsisted almost entirely on meat and milk and milk products. The women milked the cows and the...

Finding the Facts About Mao’s Victims

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Yang Jisheng is an editor of Annals of the Yellow Emperor, one of the few reform-oriented political magazines in China. Before that, the seventy-year-old native of Hubei province was a national correspondent with the government-run Xinhua news...

Sinica Podcast

12.17.10

China and India

Kaiser Kuo, Stephanie T. Kleine-Ahlbrandt & more from Sinica Podcast
Asia’s rising colossi share a great deal besides rich cultures, great culinary traditions, billion-plus populations, and a long border. But relations haven’t always been smooth. Have a recent round of border talks, followed up by Premier Wen Jiabao’...

Reports

12.14.10

Sino-U.S. Competition and U.S. Security

Dan Blumenthal
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
Assessments of the military competition between China and the U.S. are badly needed but mostly missing. Such assessments should consider the political objectives of the competitors, their military doctrines, and alliance politics, in addition to...

At the Nobel Ceremony: Liu Xiaobo’s Empty Chair

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
On December 10, I attended the award ceremony in Oslo, Norway, for the Nobel Peace Prize, which the government of China had a few days earlier declared to be a “farce.” The recipient was a friend of mine, the Chinese scholar and essayist Liu Xiaobo...

Sinica Podcast

12.10.10

The Wikileaks Revelations, Part III

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
As Interpol deepens its investigation into Mr. Assange’s use of birth control and financial service companies feel the wrath of script-kiddies worldwide, our own crew of Internet vigilantes sifts through the remains of the Wikileaks data-dump in...

Books

12.10.10

Remapping the Past

Howard Y. F. Choy
The most prominent literary phenomenon in the 1980s and 1990s in China, historical fiction, has never been systematically surveyed in Anglophone scholarship. This is the first investigation into how, by rewriting the past, writers of Deng Xiaoping’s reform era undermined the grand narrative of official history. It showcases fictions of history by eleven native Chinese, Muslim and Tibetan authors. The four chapters are organized in terms of spatial schemes of fictional historiography, namely, regional histories and family romances, discourses on diaspora and myths of minorities, nostalgia for the hometown in the country and the city, as well as the bodily text and the textual body, thus broadly covering the eternal themes of memory, language, food, sex, and violence in historical writing.  —Brill

Unveiling Hidden China

Christian Caryl from New York Review of Books
Napoleon famously described China as a sleeping giant that would shake the world when it finally awoke. Well, now the giant is up and about, and the rest of us can’t help but notice. 2010, indeed, could well end up being remembered as the year when...

Sinica Podcast

12.04.10

The Wikileaks Revelations, Part II

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Kaiser’s despair on learning that last week’s Sinica episode had been lost in a freak weather accident turned quickly to plotting. “We’ll simply have to make up for it somehow,” he mused. Which is how today’s special show came about: a better,...

Sinica Podcast

12.03.10

The Wikileaks Revelations

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
In the first of what will likely be many podcasts discussing some of the latest China-related revelations contained in the recent Wikileaks data-dump, our discussion today turns towards North Korea and Chinese diplomatic overtures suggesting that...

Books

12.01.10

Tea Horse Road

Michael Freeman
One of the longest and most dramatic trade routes of the ancient world, the Tea Horse Road carried a crucial exchange for 13 centuries between China and Tibet. China needed war horses to protect its northern frontier, and Tibet could supply them. When the Tibetans discovered tea in the 7th century, it became a staple of their diet, but its origins are in southwest China, and they had to trade for it. The result was a network of trails covering more than 3,000 kilometres through forests, gorges and high passes onto the Himalayan plateaus, traversed by horse, mule and yak caravans, and human porters. It linked cultures, economies and political ambitions, and lasted until the middle of the 20th century. Re-tracing the many branches of the Road, photographer and writer Michael Freeman spent two years compiling this remarkable visual record, from the tea mountains of southern Yunnan and Sichuan to Tibet and beyond. Collaborating on this fascinating account, ethnobotanist Selena Ahmed’s description of tea and bio-cultural diversity in the region draws on her original doctoral research.—River Books

Books

12.01.10

Asian Literary Voices

Philip Williams
The essays in this collection give voice to a wide range of artists and writers from China, Japan, Korea, and India who to this day remain largely unknown or poorly understood in literary circles around the world. Contributors from Asia, Europe, and the United States cover a wide range of topics from a vast expanse of time, from Sanskrit poetry dating back over a thousand years to Chinese fiction of the twenty-first century.  —University of Chicago Press

Reports

12.01.10

Catastrophe Insurance Policy for China

Jun Wang
World Bank
The vast majority of China's population lies to the southeast of a line running from Beijing to Sichuan. This entire region is subjected to major floods each year, while typhoons affect the southern and eastern coastal areas and major...

Reports

12.01.10

Can China’s Rural Elderly Count on Support from Adult Children? Implications of Rural to Urban Migration

John Giles, Dewen Wang, and Changbao Zhao
World Bank
Support from the family continues to be an important source of support for the rural elderly, particularly the rural elderly over seventy years of age. Decline in likelihood of co-residence with, or in close proximity to, adult children raises the...

Reports

12.01.10

The Role of Trade Costs in Global Production Networks: Evidence from China’s Processing Trade Regime

Alyson C. Ma and Ari Van Assche
World Bank
This paper uses data from China's processing trade regime to analyze the role of trade costs on trade within global production networks (GPNs). Under this regime, firms are granted duty exemptions on imported inputs as long as they are used...

Reports

12.01.10

Income Uncertainty and Household Savings in China

Marcos Chamon, Kai Liu, and Eswar Prasad
International Monetary Fund (IMF)
China’s household saving rate has increased markedly since the mid-1990s and the age-savings profile has become U-shaped. The authors find that rising income uncertainty and pension reforms help explain both of these phenomena. Using a panel of...

Reports

12.01.10

Transforming China: Insights from the Japanese Experience of the 1980s

Papa N'Diaye
Sara Segal-Williams
International Monetary Fund (IMF)
China is poised on the brink of a transition to a service-based economy. The Japanese experience of the 1980s provides several insights about the way to manage such a transition and the downsides to avoid. In particular Japan offers useful insights...

Sinica Podcast

11.12.10

The End of Chinese Internet Civility

Jeremy Goldkorn, Gady Epstein & more from Sinica Podcast
Simmering tensions between Qihoo 360 and Tencent broke into open war last week, as Tencent disabled its chat software on computers running 360 antivirus software. This move was the most aggressive yet in a serious of escalating attacks between the...

How Reds Smashed Reds

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
July and August 1966, the first months of the ten-year Cultural Revolution, were the summer of what Andrew Walder, a sociologist at Stanford, calls “The Maoist Shrug.” Jiang Qing, Mao Zedong’s wife, told high school Red Guards, “We do not advocate...

A Hero of Our Time

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
On October 8, Liu Xiaobo became the first Chinese to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and one of only three winners ever to receive it while in prison. The Oslo committee had already received a warning from Beijing not to give Liu the prize because he...

Reports

11.05.10

Staff Report of the People’s Republic of China—Hong Kong Special Administrative Region: 2010 Article IV Consultation Discussions

International Monetary Fund (IMF)
Two potent forces continue to influence Hong Kong SAR's prospects: the unprecedented monetary policy easing in the United States and the solid domestic recovery, in part driven by spillovers from the Mainland. While the substantial expansion of...

Sinica Podcast

11.05.10

The Li Gang Scandal

Jeremy Goldkorn, Gady Epstein & more from Sinica Podcast
A deadly hit-and-run at Hebei University by the unapologetic son of a high-ranking official has sparked outrage across China, with early efforts to cover up the incident ultimately leading to father and son both making tearful apologies on national...

Reports

11.01.10

On the Road to Prosperity? The Economic Geography of China’s National Expressway Network

Mark Roberts, Uwe Deichmann, Bernard Fingleton, Tuo Shi
World Bank
Over the past two decades, China has embarked on an ambitious program of expressway network expansion. By facilitating market integration, this program aims both to promote efficiency at the national level and to contribute to the catch-up of...

Reports

11.01.10

Did Higher Inequality Impede Growth in Rural China?

Dwayne Benjamin, Loren Brandt, and John Giles
World Bank
Since the start of economic reform in the early 1980s, China has experienced plenty of growth and inequality; per capita income has grown nearly 8 percent annually, while the Gini coefficient rose from 0.28 to 0.39. Using a rich longitudinal survey...

Reports

11.01.10

Energy Innovation

Michael A. Levi, Elizabeth C. Economy, Shannon K. O'Neil, and Adam Segal
He Jianan
Council on Foreign Relations
Low-carbon technology innovation and diffusion are both essential aspects of an effective response to climate change. Studying China, India, and Brazil, the authors of this report examine how innovation in low-carbon technologies occurs and how the...

Books

11.01.10

Heart of Buddha, Heart of China

James Carter
The Buddhist monk Tanxu surmounted extraordinary obstacles—poverty, wars, famine, and foreign occupation—to become one of the most prominent monks in China, founding numerous temples and schools, and attracting crowds of students and disciples wherever he went. Now, in Heart of Buddha, Heart of China, James Carter draws on untapped archival materials to provide a book that is part travelogue, part history, and part biography of this remarkable man. This revealing biography shows a Chinese man, neither an intellectual nor a peasant, trying to reconcile his desire for a bold and activist Chinese nationalism with his own belief in China's cultural and social traditions, especially Buddhism. As it follows Tanxu's extraordinary life, the book also illuminates the pivotal events in China's modern history, showing how one individual experienced the fall of China's last empire, its descent into occupation and civil war, and its eventual birth as modern nation. Indeed, Tanxu lived in a time of almost constant warfare—from the Sino-Japanese War of 1895, to the Boxer Uprising, the Russo-Japanese War, the Japanese occupation, and World War II. He and his followers were robbed by river pirates, and waylaid by bandits on the road. Caught in the struggle between nationalist and communist forces, Tanxu finally sought refuge in the British colony of Hong Kong. At the time of his death, at the age of 89, he was revered as "Master Tanxu," one of Hong Kong's leading religious figures. Capturing all this in a magnificent portrait, Carter gives first-person immediacy to one of the most turbulent periods in Chinese history.  —Oxford University Press

Books

11.01.10

Coming to Terms with the Nation

Thomas S. Mullaney
China is a vast nation comprised of hundreds of distinct ethnic communities, each with its own language, history, and culture. Today the government of China recognizes just 56 ethnic nationalities, or minzu, as groups entitled to representation. This controversial new book recounts the history of the most sweeping attempt to sort and categorize the nation's enormous population: the 1954 Ethnic Classification project (minzu shibie). Thomas S. Mullaney draws on recently declassified material and extensive oral histories to describe how the communist government, in power less than a decade, launched this process in ethnically diverse Yunnan. Mullaney shows how the government drew on Republican-era scholarship for conceptual and methodological inspiration as it developed a strategy for identifying minzu and how non-Party-member Chinese ethnologists produced a “scientific” survey that would become the basis for a policy on nationalities.  —University of California Press

Sinica Podcast

10.29.10

When Media Attacks

Gady Epstein, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, we find out what happens when the media attacks and China is caught in the crossfire. Specifically, recent weeks have brought us two prominent cases of bad press for China as the country gets caught in loaded battles fought by...

A Very Superior ‘Chinaman’

Richard Bernstein from New York Review of Books
Charlie Chan, the fictitious Chinese-American detective from Hawaii, makes his first appearance in the movie Charlie Chan in Egypt (1935) looking out the window of an airplane while flying over the Pyramids and the Sphinx. We next see him, looking...

Sinica Podcast

10.22.10

Recent Considerations on China

Kaiser Kuo, Gady Epstein & more from Sinica Podcast
As backdrop for this podcast, Sinica would like to remind our gentle listeners that the word quisling comes from Norway, that barbarous queen of northern Europe whose parliament has recently been condemned internationally for its involvement in a...

Rumblings of Reform in Beijing?

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Over the past six weeks, China’s thin class of the politically aware has been gripped by a faint hope that maybe, against all odds, some sort of political opening might be in the cards this year. Monday’s conclusion of a key Communist Party meeting...

‘A Turning Point in the Long Struggle’: Chinese Citizens Defend Liu Xiaobo

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
It would be hard to overstate how much the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo on October 8 has meant to China’s community of dissidents, bloggers, and activists. Not only has it lifted their spirits tremendously; many also view it as a...

A Hero of the China Underground

Howard W. French from New York Review of Books
As a poet and chronicler of other people’s lives, Liao Yiwu is a singular figure among the generation of Chinese intellectuals who emerged after the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. Unlike the leaders of Beijing’s student movement, people like...

The Question of Pearl Buck

Jonathan D. Spence from New York Review of Books
The announcement by the Swedish Academy in November 1938 that Pearl Buck had been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature was met with sarcasm and even derision by many writers and critics. They were not impressed that this was the third choice by...

Jailed for Words: Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
On October 8, Liu Xiaobo became the first Chinese to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and one of only three winners ever to receive it while in prison. The Oslo committee had already received a warning from Beijing not to give Liu the prize because he...

Beijing’s Bluster, America’s Quiet: The Disturbing Case of Xue Feng

Richard Bernstein from New York Review of Books
Quiet diplomacy, as it’s called, has served for years as the principle guiding U.S. relations with China: the theory is that it is far better to engage the Chinese government quietly, behind the scenes, rather than through more robust public...

Reports

10.01.10

A Case Study on Large-Scale Forestland Acquisition in China

Li Ping and Robin Nielsen
He Jianan
Landesa
Rural development and forest restoration have been key priorities for the Chinese government over the last decade, and indeed many countries in the world. To address these priorities, the Chinese government has aggressively promoted new investment—...

Reports

10.01.10

Market Transformation for Urban Energy Efficiency in China

He Jianan
Global Environmental Institute
The acute energy shortage faced by many Chinese cities has dragged down local productivity and living standards. Cities are motivated to actively seek solutions to minimize the gap between energy demand and supply. This project aims to lay out...

Reports

10.01.10

Measuring Health Workforce Inequalities

Sudhir Anand
Luo Xiaoyuan
World Health Organization
Measuring health workforce inequalities: methods and application to China and India is for users and producers of quantitative data in support of decision-making for health policy and practice, including statistical analysts, researchers, health...

Books

10.01.10

When a Billion Chinese Jump

Jonathan Watts
As a young child, Jonathan Watts believed if everyone in China jumped at the same time, the earth would be shaken off its axis, annihilating mankind. Now, more than thirty years later, as a correspondent for The Guardian in Beijing, he has discovered it is not only foolish little boys who dread a planet-shaking leap by the world's most populous nation. When a Billion Chinese Jump is a road journey into the future of our species. Traveling from the mountains of Tibet to the deserts of Inner Mongolia via the Silk Road, tiger farms, cancer villages, weather-modifying bases, and eco-cities, Watts chronicles the environmental impact of economic growth with a series of gripping stories from the country on the front line of global development. He talks to nomads and philosophers, entrepreneurs and scientists, rural farmers and urban consumers, examining how individuals are trying to adapt to one of the most spectacular bursts of change in human history, then poses a question that will affect all of our lives: Can China find a new way forward or is this giant nation doomed to magnify the mistakes that have already taken humanity to the brink of disaster?  —Simon & Schuster

Sinica Podcast

10.01.10

Racism in China

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Racism isn’t a problem in China. That’s the official story you’ll read in the papers and hear on the streets, at least, and maybe there’s even a kernel of truth to it. Without a legacy of colonial activities abroad, the Chinese people are in many...

The Party: Impenetrable, All Powerful

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
In the next few weeks, an event will take place in Beijing on a par with anything dreamed up by a conspiracy theorist. A group of roughly three hundred men and women will meet at an undisclosed time and location to set policies for a sixth of...