As BRICS Slow Investments in Africa, Turkey Ramps Up

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Remember when the BRICS were going to power the global economy? Well, the past few years have not been kind to Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. With the exception of India, the other members of this once elite diplomatic club are...

A Revolutionary Discovery in China

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
1.As Beijing prepared to host the 2008 Olympics, a small drama was unfolding in Hong Kong. Two years earlier, middlemen had come into possession of a batch of waterlogged manuscripts that had been unearthed by tomb robbers in south-central China...

The Long Arm of Chinese Law Reaches All the Way to Kenya

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
The Kenyan government’s consent to a Chinese request for the deportation of dozens of alleged cyber and telecom fraud has now bloomed into a full-scale diplomatic crisis. Among those forcibly sent to China included dozens of Taiwan nationals, many...

China’s Relations with a Strategic Europe

Paul Haenle & Jan Techau from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
For many years, China-E.U. relations have been driven singularly by mercantilism, but diplomatic engagement between Beijing and Brussels increasingly features a geopolitical component. In this podcast with Paul Haenle, Carnegie Europe Director Jan...

Sinica Podcast

04.19.16

Public Opinion with Chinese Characteristics

Kaiser Kuo & Jeremy Goldkorn from Sinica Podcast
The immense popularity of social media has afforded China watchers a terrific window onto public opinion in China. In recent years, a slew of English-language websites have emerged to interpret the various trends and phenomena, discourse, and...

Books

04.18.16

China’s Future

David Shambaugh
China’s future arguably is the most consequential question in global affairs. Having enjoyed unprecedented levels of growth, China is at a critical juncture in the development of its economy, society, polity, national security, and international relations. The direction the nation takes at this turning point will determine whether it stalls or continues to develop and prosper.Will China be successful in implementing a new wave of transformational reforms that could last decades and make it the world’s leading superpower? Or will its leaders shy away from the drastic changes required because the regime’s power is at risk? If so, will that lead to prolonged stagnation or even regime collapse? Might China move down a more liberal or even democratic path? Or will China instead emerge as a hard, authoritarian, and aggressive superstate?In this new book, David Shambaugh argues that these potential pathways are all possibilities—but they depend on key decisions yet to be made by China’s leaders, different pressures from within Chinese society, as well as actions taken by other nations. Assessing these scenarios and their implications, he offers a thoughtful and clear study of China’s future for all those seeking to understand the country’s likely trajectory over the coming decade and beyond. —Polity Press{chop}

China’s Growing Appetite for African Real Estate

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Amid a prolonged economic downturn and a weakening yuan, Chinese investors have turned their focus to buying overseas assets. While there are a number of complicated reasons behind the massive capital outflows over the past 18 months, the fact...

A Chinese Journalist Reflects on Reporting the China-Africa Story

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
How foreign journalists report on the China-Africa story is often determined by the national origin of their news organization. While there are no doubt exceptions, the U.S. news media frequently frame China as the neo-colonial aggressor and Africa...

If Mao Had Been a Hermit

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
At the annual meeting of BookExpo America that was held in New York last May, to which most leading U.S. publishers sent representatives, state-sponsored Chinese publishers were named “guests of honor.” Commercially speaking, this made sense. China’...

‘China’s Worst Policy Mistake’?

Nicholas D. Kristof from New York Review of Books
Perhaps no government policy anywhere in the world affected more people in a more intimate and brutal way than China’s one-child policy. In the West, there’s a tendency to approve of it as a necessary if overzealous effort to curb China’s population...

Crackdown in China: Worse and Worse

Orville Schell from New York Review of Books
“As a liberal, I no longer feel I have a future in China,” a prominent Chinese think tank head in the process of moving abroad recently lamented in private. Such refrains are all too familiar these days as educated Chinese professionals express...

When China Sneezes, Does Africa Catch a Cold?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Chinese government officials have been on an all-out public relations offensive across Africa lately to reassure increasingly nervous political and business leaders that even though China’s economy may be slowing it will not affect the P.R.C.’s...

Continental Shift: How China is Changing Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
For their new book, Continental Shift: A Journey into Africa’s 21st Century, South African authors Kevin Bloom and Richard Poplak embarked on a 14-country odyssey across two continents over a span of five years to report on Africa’s changing...

Excerpts

03.22.16

Beyond ‘Chicken or Beef’ Choices in China Debates

Jeffrey Wasserstrom
Growing up in California with no special interest in China, one of the few things I associated with the big country across the Pacific was mix-and-match meal creation. On airplanes and in school cafeterias, you just had “chicken or beef” choices,...

Sinica Podcast

03.16.16

Everything Old is New Again

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Members of the Politburo are rarely praised for their dancing skills, but consider Xi Jinping’s almost flawless execution of the political two-step: first casting himself as the voice of liberal moderation in the face of Bo Xilai’s mass propaganda,...

Africa’s Role in China’s One Belt, One Road Global Trade Strategy

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
China’s lofty ambition to revive its ancient silk road trading routes is now becoming a reality. When complete, One Belt, One Road (OBOR), or the Maritime Silk Road as it is more commonly known, will connect China via rail and shipping links with...

China: The Benefits of Persecution?

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
During decades of reading and reviewing books on China I have learned a great deal, even from those I didn’t like. Only a few have surprised me. Mao’s Lost Children is such a book, and those like me who believe that the Mao period was bad for China...

As Economy Worsens, Chinese Migrants in Africa Confront New Challenges

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Thousands of Chinese migrants who settled in Africa over the past 10 years now face mounting uncertainty as economic growth slows across the continent and back home in China. While there are no reliable estimates as to how many Chinese migrants...

What Is the I Ching?

Eliot Weinberger from New York Review of Books
The I Ching has served for thousands of years as a philosophical taxonomy of the universe, a guide to an ethical life, a manual for rulers, and an oracle of one’s personal future and the future of the state. It was an organizing principle or...

China/Africa Vs. China/South America

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
China’s engagement in Africa is often seen by many observers in a vacuum without a broader understanding of how the relationship compares to Beijing’s strategy in other regions of the world. South America, in particular, provides an interesting...

Books

02.23.16

The Diplomacy of Migration

Meredith Oyen
During the Cold War, both Chinese and American officials employed a wide range of migration policies and practices to pursue legitimacy, security, and prestige. They focused on allowing or restricting immigration, assigning refugee status, facilitating student exchanges, and enforcing deportations. The Diplomacy of Migration focuses on the role these practices played in the relationship between the United States and the Republic of China both before and after the move to Taiwan. Meredith Oyen identifies three patterns of migration diplomacy: migration legislation as a tool to achieve foreign policy goals, migrants as subjects of diplomacy and propaganda, and migration controls that shaped the Chinese American community.Using sources from diplomatic and governmental archives in the United States, the Republic of China on Taiwan, the People’s Republic of China, and the United Kingdom, Oyen applies a truly transnational perspective. The Diplomacy of Migration combines important innovations in the field of diplomatic history with new international trends in migration history to show that even though migration issues were often considered “low stakes” or “low risk” by foreign policy professionals concerned with Cold War politics and the nuclear age, they were neither “no risk” nor unimportant to larger goals. Instead, migration diplomacy became a means of facilitating other foreign policy priorities, even when doing so came at great cost for migrants themselves. —Cornell University Press{chop}Correction: Meredith Oyen’s employer was misidentified in an earlier version of this video. She is an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Sinica Podcast

02.22.16

Allegiance

Kaiser Kuo & Jeremy Goldkorn from Sinica Podcast
Kaiser and Jeremy recorded today’s show from New York, where they waylaid Holly Chang, founder of Project Pengyou and now Acting Executive Director of the Committee of 100, for a discussion on spying, stealing commercial spying, spying, and Broadway...

Why Reducing Ivory Demand in China Will Not Curb Poaching in Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
“When the buying stops, the killing can too,” reads the popular slogan that WildAid uses in its anti-ivory campaign to raise awareness in China. WildAid, along with most Western environmentalists, contend that curbing demand in China for ivory is...

Lost in China’s Exploding Future

Ian Buruma from New York Review of Books
Chinese director Jia Zhangke’s new movie, Mountains May Depart, begins with a disco dance in a bleak mining town to the sounds of “Go West” by the Pet Shop Boys. It is the lunar New Year, 1999. Outside, the end of the millennium is celebrated in a...

China’s Risky Gamble to Become a Major Player in the Middle East and North Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Chinese president Xi Jinping’s three-country tour of the Middle East and North Africa offers yet another example of Beijing’s expanding drive for increased global influence. During his first visit to the region, Xi traveled to Saudi Arabia, Egypt,...

Sinica Podcast

02.09.16

Sauced: American Cooking in China

Kaiser Kuo & David Moser from Sinica Podcast
Kaiser Kuo and David Moser are joined this week by Howie Southworth and Greg Matza, creators of the independent video series “Sauced in Translation,” a reality show that journeys into the wilder parts of China in search of local Chinese specialties...

Why Are Tibetans Setting Themselves on Fire?

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

Reports

02.01.16

Xi Jinping on the Global Stage

Robert D. Blackwill and Kurt M. Campbell
Council on Foreign Relations
Xi Jinping is the most powerful Chinese leader since Deng Xiaoping, and with his sweeping actions and ambitious directives he has fundamentally altered the process by which China’s domestic and foreign policy is formulated and implemented. Xi’s...

Sinica Podcast

01.29.16

The China Meltdown

Jeremy Goldkorn, Kaiser Kuo & more from Sinica Podcast
[—Editors note: this podcast was recorded on January 18, 2016]With equity markets in free fall, housing prices skipping downwards, foreign reserves plummeting, and industrial production on a road trip back to the last decade, it’s no surprise...

Sinica Podcast

01.27.16

Air Pollution and Climate Change

Kaiser Kuo, David Moser & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, Kaiser Kuo and David Moser are joined by Deborah Seligsohn, former science counselor for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and currently a doctoral candidate at the University of California, San Diego, where she studies environmental...

China’s Diplomatic Dilemma: Protecting its People and Property Overseas

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Chinese special operations forces are training in the western deserts of Xinjiang in complex search and rescue missions, in environments that closely resemble North Africa or certain parts of the Middle East. Recently, these newly-trained military...

‘My Personal Vendetta’

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
The presumed kidnapping of the Hong Kong bookseller and British citizen Lee Bo late last year has brought international attention to the challenges faced by the Hong Kong publishing business. During a break from The New York Review’s conference on...

Africa Feels the Chill of China’s Cooling Economy

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
It hasn’t even been a month since Chinese president Xi Jinping was in South Africa for the triennial Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) confab where he unveiled a massive $60 billion financial package. Oh how those were innocent, halcyon days...

Books

12.29.15

Crouching Tiger

Peter Navarro
Will there be war with China? This book provides the most complete and accurate assessment of the probability of conflict between the United States and the rising Asian superpower. Equally important, it lays out an in-depth analysis of the possible pathways to peace. Written like a geopolitical detective story, the narrative encourages reader interaction by starting each chapter with an intriguing question that often challenges conventional wisdom.Based on interviews with more than thirty top experts, the author highlights a number of disturbing facts about China's recent military buildup and the shifting balance of power in Asia: the Chinese are deploying game-changing "carrier killer" ballistic missiles; some of America's supposed allies in Europe and Asia are selling highly lethal weapons systems to China in a perverse twist on globalization; and, on the U.S. side, debilitating cutbacks in the military budget send a message to the world that America is not serious about its "pivot to Asia."In the face of these threatening developments, the book stresses the importance of maintaining U.S. military strength and preparedness and strengthening alliances, while warning against a complacent optimism that relies on economic engagement, negotiations, and nuclear deterrence to ensure peace.Accessible to readers from all walks of life, this multidisciplinary work blends geopolitics, economics, history, international relations, military doctrine, and political science to provide a better understanding of one of the most vexing problems facing the world. —Prometheus Books{chop}

China and the World: What to Expect in 2016

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The December China-Africa leaders summit in Johannesburg brought to an end a very busy year for Chinese president Xi Jinping and his foreign policy team. In many ways, 2015 marked a significant turning point in China’s increasingly ambitious global...

Sinica Podcast

12.22.15

While We’re Here: China Stories from a Writers’ Colony

Kaiser Kuo, David Moser & more from Sinica Podcast
When Ernest Hemingway somewhat presciently referred to Paris as a movable feast (“wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you”) he captured the concerns of the long-term expat rather concisely. So why does everyone like to compare...

Sinica Podcast

12.17.15

Out of Africa: the Swifts of Beijing

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
With amazing research now suggesting that Beijing swifts, the tiny creatures most residents pass by without noticing, are some of the most well-travelled birds on the planet, averaging an astonishing 124,000 miles of flight in their lifetimes,...

‘China is Doing More to Protect Elephants than Africa [Is]’

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
For the first time in years, there is positive news to report in the fight to save Africa’s elephants from extinction. A new study by Save the Elephants revealed that the price of ivory in China has halved over the past 18 months, indicating that...

Books

12.16.15

One Child

Mei Fong
When Communist Party leaders adopted the one-child policy in 1980, they hoped curbing birth-rates would help lift China’s poorest and increase the country’s global stature. But at what cost? Now, as China closes the book on the policy after more than three decades, it faces a population grown too old and too male, with a vastly diminished supply of young workers.Mei Fong has spent years documenting the policy’s repercussions on every sector of Chinese society. In One Child, she explores its true human impact, traveling across China to meet the people who live with its consequences. Their stories reveal a dystopian reality: unauthorized second children ignored by the state, only-children supporting aging parents and grandparents on their own, villages teeming with ineligible bachelors, and an ungoverned adoption market stretching across the globe. Fong tackles questions that have major implications for China’s future: whether its “Little Emperor” cohort will make for an entitled or risk-averse generation; how China will manage to support itself when one in every four people is over sixty-five years old; and above all, how much the one-child policy may end up hindering China’s growth.Weaving in Fong’s reflections on striving to become a mother herself, One Child offers a nuanced and candid report from the extremes of family planning. —Houghton Mifflin Harcourt{chop}

Books

12.10.15

Pacific

Simon Winchester
Following his acclaimed Atlantic and The Men Who United the States, New York Times bestselling author Simon Winchester offers an enthralling biography of the Pacific Ocean and its role in the modern world, exploring our relationship with this imposing force of nature.As the Mediterranean shaped the classical world, and the Atlantic connected Europe to the New World, the Pacific Ocean defines our tomorrow. With China on the rise, so, too, are the American cities of the West coast, including Seattle, San Francisco, and the long cluster of towns down the Silicon Valley.Today, the Pacific is ascendant. Its geological history has long transformed us—tremendous earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis—but its human history, from a Western perspective, is quite young, beginning with Magellan’s sixteenth-century circumnavigation. It is a natural wonder whose most fascinating history is currently being made.In telling the story of the Pacific, Simon Winchester takes us from the Bering Strait to Cape Horn, the Yangtze River to the Panama Canal, and to the many small islands and archipelagos that lie in between. He observes the fall of a dictator in Manila, visits aboriginals in northern Queensland, and is jailed in Tierra del Fuego, the land at the end of the world. His journey encompasses a trip down the Alaska Highway, a stop at the isolated Pitcairn Islands, and a trek across South Korea and a glimpse of its mysterious northern neighbor.Winchester’s personal experience is vast and his storytelling second to none. And his historical understanding of the region is formidable, making Pacific a paean to this magnificent sea of beauty, myth, and imagination that is transforming our lives. —HarperCollins{chop}

FOCAC 6: A China-Africa Lovefest

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit concluded in Johannesburg on December 5 amid an almost giddy atmosphere. All sides in this relationship seemingly walked away with more than what they had anticipated.Africa provided a welcome...

Why Pollution is Good for China

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
I am a member of a martial arts group that performs at annual temple fairs around Beijing. Half of our group are children, and almost without fail they meet at a park on the west side of town at around three in the afternoon to practice fighting...

Terrorism Forces its Way onto the China-Africa Agenda

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
Terrorism and security issues will likely move close to the top of the agenda when Xi Jinping meets with 50+ African counterparts at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summit. China’s vulnerability to terrorism was brazenly exposed when ISIS...

Sinica Podcast

12.01.15

Live at the Bookworm, Part II

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This is the second part of the Live Sinica discussion recorded last month during a special event at the Bookworm literary festival. In this show, David Moser and Kaiser Kuo were joined by China-newcomer Jeremy Goldkorn, fresh off the plane from...

Xi’s China: The Illusion of Change

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Xi Jinping is often described as China’s most powerful leader in decades, perhaps even since Mao. He has been credited—if sometimes grudgingly—with pursuing a vigorous foreign policy, economic reforms, and a historic crackdown on corruption.But as...

China: Novelists Against the State

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
Can writers help an injured society to heal? Did Ōe Kenzaburō, who traveled to Hiroshima in 1963 to interview survivors of the dropping of the atomic bomb on that city eighteen years earlier, and then published a moving book called Hiroshima Notes,...

A Journalist’s View on Reporting the China-Africa Story

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The U.S.-based online news site Quartz is among a growing number of international media companies that is investing resources to better cover Africa. The company launched Quartz Africa in June 2015 with the opening of a new bureau in Nairobi and the...

Sinica Podcast

11.16.15

The Pace of Change in Beijing: Live at the Bookworm, Part I

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week’s Sinica podcast was recorded last month during a special live event at the Bookworm literary festival, where David Moser and Kaiser Kuo were joined by Jeremy Goldkorn, fresh off the plane from Nashville. Topics in this podcast: Beijing...

Challenging the Myth of Chinese Land Grabs in Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Among the most durable myths surrounding the China-Africa relationship is the fear that the Chinese government and private enterprises are buying vast tracts of African farm land and have plans to transplant millions of Chinese peasants to live and...

Reports

11.04.15

Special Data Release with Revisions for People’s Republic of China

International Energy Agency
In September 2015, the National Bureau of Statistics of China published China’s energy statistics for 2013, as well as revised statistics for the years 2000 to 2012. NBS supplied the IEA with detailed energy balances for 2011 to 2013 and using these...

What to Expect at this Year’s Mega China-Africa Summit

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The sixth Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) that will be held in December in Johannesburg comes at a critical time in the Sino-African relationship. The combination of China’s slowing economy, a major slump in global commodity prices, and a...

China’s Risky Oil Strategy in Africa’s Sahel Region

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Chad is one of the poorest, most corrupt, and, increasingly, most volatile countries in Africa. A recent wave of suicide bombings, allegedly orchestrated by Boko Haram, killing 36 and injuring 50, highlights the perilous challenges of doing business...

Sinica Podcast

10.27.15

Hope and Fear in the Age of Asia

Kaiser Kuo & David Moser from Sinica Podcast
The West has spent decades pleading with China to become a responsible stakeholder in the global community, but what happens now that China is starting to take a more proactive role internationally? In this podcast, Kaiser Kuo and David Moser are...

The Bloodthirsty Deng We Didn’t Know

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
“Deng was…a bloody dictator who, along with Mao, was responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent people, thanks to the terrible social reforms and unprecedented famine of 1958–1962.” This is the conclusion of Alexander Pantsov and Steven...

Sinica Podcast

10.21.15

Tu Youyou and the Nobel Prize

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, hosts Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn, and David Moser speak with Christina Larson and Ian Johnson about Tu Youyou, the scientist who recently shared a Nobel Prize in Medicine for her discovery of the anti-malaria compound...

Books

10.07.15

Unmade in China

Jeremy R. Haft
If you look carefully at how things are actually made in China—from shirts to toys, apple juice to oil rigs—you see a reality that contradicts every widely-held notion about the world’s so-called economic powerhouse. From the inside looking out, China is not a manufacturing juggernaut. It’s a Lilliputian. Nor is it a killer of American jobs. It’s a huge job creator. Rising China is importing goods from America in such volume that millions of U.S. jobs are sustained through Chinese trade and investment. In Unmade in China, entrepreneur and Georgetown University business professor Jeremy R. Haft lifts the lid on the hidden world of China’s intricate supply chains. Informed by years of experience building new companies in China, Haft’s unique, insider’s view reveals a startling picture of an economy which struggles to make baby formula safely, much less a nuclear power plant. Using firm-level data and recent case studies, Unmade in China tells the story of systemic risk in Chinese manufacturing and why this is both really bad and really good news for America. —Polity Press{chop}

Sinica Podcast

10.05.15

Edmund Backhouse in the Long View of History

Kaiser Kuo & David Moser from Sinica Podcast
Edmund Backhouse, the 20th century Sinologist, long-time Beijing resident, and occasional con-artist, is perhaps best known for his incendiary memoirs, which not only distorted Western understanding of Chinese history for more than 50 years, but...

Are the Good Times Over for China and Africa?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
One of the prevailing media narratives of China’s recent economic turmoil is the effect that it could have on emerging markets, particularly in Africa. Now that the Chinese economy is showing real signs of slowing, the story goes, Beijing will soon...

How China’s Economic Slowdown Will Impact Africa

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
The tremors in China’s faltering economy are being felt across Africa. Now that China has replaced Europe and the United States as most African countries’ largest trading partner, there is understandable concern that slowing demand in the P.R.C...

Reports

10.01.15

China’s Next Opportunity: Sustainable Economic Transition

Anders Hove, Merisha Enoe, and Kate Gordon
Paulson Institute
China’s Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, also known as Jing-Jin-Ji, presents a compelling opportunity to highlight the potential—and the challenges—in transitioning to a more sustainable economic growth model. The Chinese government has prioritized the...