China’s BIG Gamble in the TINY Comoros Islands

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Comoros is a tiny archipelago nation off the east coast of Africa in the Indian ocean where a major Chinese experiment is underway. Chinese scientists and pharmaceutical have undertaken a radical experiment to test an unlicensed anti-malarial herbal...

Books

03.05.15

Has the American Media Misjudged China

William J. Holstein, Editor on behalf of The Overseas Press Club
Thirty-five years after China's opening to the world, some of the key assumptions that have guided coverage are being tested by the presidency of Xi Jinping. This book is must reading for anyone involved in U.S.-Chinese relations or for anyone who is just plain curious about how the assumptions that have guided American media coverage of China are now being challenged by the presidency of Xi Jinping. He has a very different vision of his country's future than the one often presented in some media accounts. —William J. Holstein  {chop}

Reports

03.04.15

A Vital Partnership

Asia Society
As the two largest global emitters of greenhouse gases, China and the United States share the challenge of transforming each of their current fossil fuel–based energy systems into clean twenty-first-century energy systems that remain cornerstones of...

Sinica Podcast

03.02.15

Keep in Touch, Nightman

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
In 1997, Beijing was smaller city, and Keep in Touch, Jamhouse, and Nightman were the hippest venues around. There was no traffic on the ring roads, and if you got tired of Chinese food you might take a trip to Fangzhuang to visit this Italian...

Reports

03.02.15

China’s Long March To Safe Drinking Water

Hongqiao Liu
China Water Risk
China’s central government set ambitious goals to safeguard water quality in 2011, at the outset of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015). Those goals targeted improvements from source-to-tap, earmarking a budget of nearly RMB 700 billion (U.S.$112...

Reports

03.01.15

China’s Elusive Shale Gas Boom

Zhongmin Wang
Paulson Institute
China’s natural gas market is expected to see robust growth over the next decade. This is a function of several factors. First, as part of the country’s effort to effect an energy transition to cleaner fuels, natural gas is viewed as a viable bridge...

Excerpts

02.25.15

The Sun Kings

Mark L. Clifford
In 1992, Shi Zhengrong completed his doctorate and found himself an expert in a field that wasn’t quite ready for him. He’d studied physics at Australia’s University of New South Wales, focusing on crystalline technology, the basic scientific...

Books

02.25.15

The Greening of Asia

Mark L. Clifford
One of Asia's best-respected writers on business and economy, Hong Kong-based author Mark L. Clifford provides a behind-the-scenes look at what companies in China, India, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, and Thailand are doing to build businesses that will lessen the environmental impact of Asia's extraordinary economic growth. Dirty air, foul water, and hellishly overcrowded cities are threatening to choke the region's impressive prosperity. Recognizing a business opportunity in solving social problems, Asian businesses have developed innovative responses to the region's environmental crises.{node, 13216}From solar and wind power technologies to green buildings, electric cars, water services, and sustainable tropical forestry, Asian corporations are upending old business models in their home countries and throughout the world. Companies have the money, the technology, and the people to act—yet, as Clifford emphasizes, support from the government (in the form of more effective, market-friendly policies) and the engagement of civil society are crucial for a region-wide shift to greener business practices. Clifford paints detailed profiles of what some of these companies are doing and includes a unique appendix that encapsulates the environmental business practices of more than fifty companies mentioned in the book.  —Columbia Business School Publishing  {chop}

Reports

02.25.15

Double Impact

Valerie J. Karplus
Paulson Institute
This paper makes the case for establishing a national CO2 price in China as soon as possible. End-of-pipe pollution control technologies—a core component of China’s Air Pollution Action Plan (APAP)—can address local air pollution but not CO2...

Is Chinese Corporate Behavior Improving in Africa?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The list of grievances against Chinese companies operating in Africa is long and varied, from violations of labor rights to environmental destruction to widespread allegations of corruption. Although it is hard to tell how many companies are truly...

Chinese Studies at the University of Botswana

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

Sinica Podcast

02.16.15

Business and F*cking in China

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week's show starts with us grilling James on "what you have to do to be part of Chinese business culture" and descends from there into stories of the sort of booze-and-ketamine-fuelled business deal-making that seems to consist...

China’s Mystery Transportation Infrastructure Deal with the African Union

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
It’s not really news anymore when China announces yet another massive infrastructure construction deal in Africa. Typically these deals are done at the national level, so when Beijing and the African Union signed a major transport infrastructure MOU...

Reports

02.11.15

It’s Time to Peak

Ecofys
World Wildlife
Without additional efforts, global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will continue to increase by 3.7 – 4.8 °C, a level well beyond the 2 °C temperature rise limit widely agreed among scientists and governments across the world as a limit above which...

Books

02.10.15

The People’s Republic of Chemicals

William J. Kelly and Chip Jacobs
Maverick environmental writers William J. Kelly and Chip Jacobs follow up their acclaimed Smogtown with a provocative examination of China’s ecological calamity already imperiling a warming planet. Toxic smog most people figured was obsolete needlessly kills as many as died in the 9/11 attacks every day, while sometimes Grand Canyon-sized drifts of industrial particles aloft on the winds rain down ozone and waterway-poisoning mercury in America.In vivid, gonzo prose blending first-person reportage with exhaustive research and a sense of karma, Kelly and Jacobs describe China’s ancient love affair with coal, Bill Clinton’s blunders cutting free-trade deals enabling the U.S. to "export" manufacturing emissions to Asia in a shift that pilloried the West's middle class, Communist Party manipulation of eco-statistics, the horror of cancer villages, the deception of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and spellbinding peasant revolts against cancer-spreading plants involving thousands in mostly-censored melées. Ending with China’s monumental coal-bases decried by climatologists as a global warming dagger, The People's Republic of Chemicals names names and emphasizes humanity over bloodless statistics in a classic sure to ruffle feathers as an indictment of money as the real green that not even Al Gore can deny.   —Rare Bird Books, A Vireo Book  {chop}

Books

02.10.15

Buried Ideas

Sarah Allan
The discovery of previously unknown philosophical texts from the Axial Age is revolutionizing our understanding of Chinese intellectual history. Buried Ideas presents and discusses four texts found on brush-written slips of bamboo and their seemingly unprecedented political philosophy. Written in the regional script of Chu during the Warring States period (475–221 BCE), all of the works discuss Yao’s abdication to Shun and are related to but differ significantly from the core texts of the classical period, such as the Mencius and Zhuangzi. Notably, these works evince an unusually meritocratic stance, and two even advocate abdication over hereditary succession as a political ideal. Sarah Allan includes full English translations and her own modern-character editions of the four works examined: Tang Yú zhi dao, Zigao, Rongchengshi, and Bao xun. In addition, she provides an introduction to Chu-script bamboo-slip manuscripts and the complex issues inherent in deciphering them. —SUNY Press{chop}

Sinica Podcast

02.09.15

The Changing Look of China, Myanmar, and Visual Journalism—A Chat With Jonah Kessel

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, Jeremy and Kaiser are joined by Jonah M. Kessel, former freelance photographer and now full-time videographer for The New York Times who has covered a wide range of China stories, traveled widely through the country, and...

China: Inventing a Crime

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
In late January, Chinese authorities announced that they are considering formal charges against Pu Zhiqiang, one of China’s most prominent human rights lawyers, who has been in detention since last May. Pu’s friends fear that even a life sentence is...

Flash of Anti-Chinese Xenophobia in the DR Congo

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Anti-government protestors filled the streets of the Democratic Republic of the Congo capital Kinshasa on January 19 and 20 to protest against a new election law making its way through the National Assembly. The new law calls for a national census...

How to Be a Chinese Democrat: An Interview with Liu Yu

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Liu Yu is one of China’s best-known America-watchers. A professor of political science at Tsinghua University, she lived in the U.S. from 2000 to 2007 and now researches democratization in developing countries, including her own. The thirty-eight-...

Sinica Podcast

02.02.15

Shanghai and the Future Now

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Expats in Beijing may be partial to our rugged smogtropolis, but even the most diehard northerner will admit that Shanghai is the more romantic of the two cities, with its very name conjuring up images of 19th century opium dens, jazz bars in the...

Reports

02.01.15

China’s Water-Energy-Food Roadmap

Susan Chan Shifflett, Jennifer L. Turner, Luan Dong, Ilaria Mazzocco, Bai Yunwen
Wilson Center
The water-energy-food nexus is creating a complicated challenge for China and the world. Energy development requires water. Moving and cleaning water requires energy. Food production at all stages—from irrigation to distribution—requires water and...

We’re Not Building an Empire

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
There is a custom in Chinese diplomacy that the Foreign Minister’s first overseas trip of the year always begins in Africa. This year was no exception, as Wang Yi led a high-profile tour of five African states including Kenya, Sudan, the DR Congo,...

Excerpts

01.28.15

The View from Wasteland

Michael Meyer
In winter the land is frozen and still. A cloudless sky shines off snow-covered rice paddies, reflecting light so bright, you have to shield your eyes. I lean into a stinging wind and trudge north up Red Flag Road, to a village named Wasteland.The...

Sinica Podcast

01.26.15

Inside the Property Revolution

Jeremy Goldkorn & Luigi Tomba from Sinica Podcast
Luigi Tomba, expert on municipal government in China, fellow at the Australian Centre on China and the World, and author of the book The Government Next Door: Neighborhood Politics in Urban China, is this week's Sinica Podcast guest. Since 2005...

South Africa: China’s BFF in Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
South Africa is emerging as one of China’s most important international partners as the relationship deepens across all levels. Economically, South Africa is the source of more Chinese investment than any other country on the continent. However,...

Excerpts

01.20.15

China’s Losing Bet Against History

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

Sinica Podcast

01.19.15

China and Charlie

Kaiser Kuo & Jeremy Goldkorn from Sinica Podcast
First there were the terrorist attacks in Paris. And then there was the global reaction to the attacks, with its spate of frenzied free-speech cartooning. And then there was the counter-reaction to the initial reaction, which played out mostly on...

Religion Among African Immigrants in China

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
Nestled in apartments and offices throughout the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou are dozens of improvised churches that cater to the region’s Pentacostal Africans, largely from Nigeria. These churches not only serve the community’s religious...

Sinica Podcast

01.12.15

From the Interpreter’s Booth

Kaiser Kuo & Jeremy Goldkorn from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy are joined by Lynette Shi and William White, two globe-trotting adventurers who've found unconventional careers navigating the shoals of the professional interpretation circuit in China. So whether you’re...

From ‘Made in China’ to ‘Made in Africa’

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
A growing number of Chinese companies are looking to outsource production overseas in a bid to lower costs and meet Beijing’s increasingly stringent environmental laws. Ethiopia and South Africa are among the beneficiaries of this new trend as...

Sinica Podcast

01.06.15

The Sinica Podcast’s Second Annual Call-In Show

Kaiser Kuo & Jeremy Goldkorn from Sinica Podcast
If you’ve been following all of the news and gossip involving China for the last year, join Kaiser and Jeremy as they take call-in questions and talk insider politics on everything from the ongoing anti-corruption campaign to the question of coming...

Reports

01.06.15

Rebalancing China’s Energy Strategy

Damien Ma
Paulson Institute
At a high-level meeting of China’s top finance and economics body in June 2014, President Xi Jinping called for a sweeping energy revolution in China, centered on five areas: demand, production, technology, institutional governance, and global...

China’s Brave Underground Journal—II

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
In downtown Beijing, just a little over a mile west of the Forbidden City, is one of China’s most illustrious high schools. Its graduates regularly attend the country’s best universities or go abroad to study, while foreign leaders and CEOs make...

Reports

01.01.15

The Politburo’s Predicament

Sarah Cook
Freedom House
Drawing on an analysis of hundreds of official documents, censorship directives, and human rights reports, as well as some 30 expert interviews, the study finds that the overall degree of repression has increased under the new leadership. Of 17...

Pope Francis’ China Problem

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
China-watchers, friends of Tibet, and admirers of Pope Francis were amazed and disappointed last week when the Pope announced he would not be meeting the Dalai Lama during the Tibetan leader’s visit to Rome. The Dalai Lama was there with other...

Sinica Podcast

12.26.14

Regulating the Fourth Estate in China

Kaiser Kuo from Sinica Podcast
The explosion of the commercial media sphere in China over the last decade hasn't been particularly subtle, especially if you're anything like us and walk past multiple Chinese newsstands in the morning. But let's look beyond the way...

Books

12.23.14

Top Five China Books of 2014

Laura Chang
As the editor of ChinaFile’s Books section, I have the privilege of meeting and interviewing some amazing writers covering China today—academics, journalists, scholars, activists. Based on these conversations, we create short videos of the...

China in Africa: 2014 Year in Review

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
Two thousand fourteen marked another landmark year in Sino-African relations as bilateral trade set new records while political, diplomatic, and military ties strengthened across the board. Yet despite the tangible progress made this year, this...

Sinica Podcast

12.19.14

Cooperation or Exploitation

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Exactly how exploitative are Chinese development activities on the African continent? What exactly is motivating the various resources-for-development deals inked by African governments over the last decade, and what strategies are these governments...

Who Are the Chinese in Africa?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Some say the number of Chinese in Africa now exceeds one million people; some even go as high as two million. Although no one has a precise accounting of just how many Chinese migrants now live on the continent, there is no doubt their numbers are...

Sinica Podcast

12.12.14

Band of Brothers: China and South Africa

Kaiser Kuo & Jeremy Goldkorn from Sinica Podcast
Pomp and ritual surrounded South African President Jacob Zuma's recent state visit to China, a trip that saw China roll out the red carpet in a very uncritical fashion, not often seen these days, with even Xinhua getting into the spirit of...

The BRICS Bank: China’s Drive to Shake Up Development Finance

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (aka the ‘BRICS’) are moving forward with an ambitious plan to shake up the clubby world of development finance. The new BRICS bank announced over the summer 2014 is expected to have a profound impact on...

Sinica Podcast

12.05.14

Domestic Abuse in China

Kaiser Kuo & Jeremy Goldkorn from Sinica Podcast
It doesn’t take a lot of time in China to see household violence play out in supermarkets, in schools, or even in the streets. But exactly how common is domestic violence in China? In the face of recent evidence from Peking University that more than...

China’s Brave Underground Journal

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
On the last stretch of flatlands north of Beijing, just before the Mongolian foothills, lies the satellite city of Tiantongyuan. Built during the euphoric run-up to the 2008 Olympics, it was designed as a modern, Hong Kong–style housing district of...

Reports

12.03.14

Warring State: China’s Cybersecurity Strategy

Amy Chang
Center for a New American Security
Research Associate Amy Chang explores the political, economic, and military objectives of China’s cybersecurity apparatus; reveals drivers and intentions of Chinese activity in cyberspace; and analyzes the development of Beijing’s cybersecurity...

A Career in China-Africa Research

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Dr. Yoon Jung Park is among the most well-known Sino-Africa scholars in the field. Park has taught and done research on China-African affairs for over 20 years at universities in both the U.S. and Africa. Now based in Washington, D.C., where she co-...

Sinica Podcast

11.25.14

Internet Wrangling in Wuzhen

Kaiser Kuo & Rogier Creemers from Sinica Podcast
Kaiser Kuo hosts alone this week as we turn our attention to the World Internet Conference (English site) last week, when a last minute attempt by Chinese organizers to foist the so-called Wuzhen Declaration on participants provoked an international...

Sinica Podcast

11.22.14

Banned but Booming: Golf in China

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Despite China's legal moratorium on the development of the golf industry, a policy driven by concerns over illegal farmland seizures and the potential misallocation of agricultural land and water resources, the golf industry has experienced an...

Report: Chinese Diplomats & Officials Tied to Ivory Trade in Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
A recent report by the U.K.-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) alleges Chinese diplomats and officials have been directly involved in the ivory trade in Africa. Most damaging, the EIA reports that even some members of visiting Chinese...

‘China Strikes Back’: An Exchange

Perry Link & Orville Schell from New York Review of Books
Letters in response to: “China Strikes Back!” from the October 23, 2014 issue of The New York Review of Books.To the Editors:In “China Strikes Back” [NYR, October 23], Orville Schell sounds a much-needed wake-up call about China’s recent attitude...

China’s Booming Africa Trade in Torture Devices

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Amnesty International and the Omega Research Foundation recently published a new report that alleges China is selling hundreds of millions of dollars in so-called "torture tools" to African governments. Despite mounting evidence these...

Sinica Podcast

11.14.14

Behind the Curtain at APEC

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
With tensions between the West and Russia running high over Ukraine, China and Japan still wrangling over the Diaoyu islands, and America and China fighting over pretty much the same old petty stuff, it's easy to be cynical about APEC. But this...

Books

11.12.14

The Sacred Routes of Uyghur History

Rian Thum
For 250 years, the Turkic Muslims of Altishahr—the vast desert region to the northwest of Tibet—have led an uneasy existence under Chinese rule. Today they call themselves Uyghurs, and they have cultivated a sense of history and identity that challenges Beijing’s official national narrative. Rian Thum argues that the roots of this history run deeper than recent conflicts, to a time when manuscripts and pilgrimage dominated understandings of the past. Beyond broadening our knowledge of tensions between the Uyghurs and the Chinese government, this meditation on the very concept of history probes the limits of human interaction with the past.Uyghur historical practice emerged from the circulation of books and people during the Qing Dynasty, when crowds of pilgrims listened to history readings at the tombs of Islamic saints. Over time, amid long journeys and moving rituals, at oasis markets and desert shrines, ordinary readers adapted community-authored manuscripts to their own needs. In the process they created a window into a forgotten Islam, shaped by the veneration of local saints.Partly insulated from the rest of the Islamic world, the Uyghurs constructed a local history that is at once unique and assimilates elements of Semitic, Iranic, Turkic, and Indic traditions—the cultural imports of Silk Road travelers. Through both ethnographic and historical analysis, The Sacred Routes of Uyghur History offers a new understanding of Uyghur historical practices, detailing the remarkable means by which this people reckons with its past and confronts its nationalist aspirations in the present day. —Harvard University Press {chop}

Sinica Podcast

11.10.14

Damned Lies, Statistics, and China

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
In a country where every single province frequently reports annual growth rates exceeding the national average, and the country’s premier is applauded for publicly ignoring his own National Bureau of Statistics, it isn't hard to take Mark Twain...

Sinica Podcast

11.07.14

David Walker on China in the Australian Mind

Kaiser Kuo & Jeremy Goldkorn from Sinica Podcast
{vertical_photo_right}This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy are delighted to be joined by Professor David Walker, Chair of the Australian Studies department at Peking University and historian with a special focus on Australian immigration policies...

Love & Hate: Michael Sata’s Complex Relationship with China

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Few figures defined China's early engagement more than Zambia's late president Michael Sata. As as opposition leader, the man known as the "King Cobra" was among Beijing's most vocal critics in Zambia but later, once in...

Reports

11.06.14

Vanishing Point: Criminality, Corruption and the Devastation of Tanzania’s Elephants

Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)
Tanzania’s elephants continue to be poached to supply a growing demand in an unregulated illegal ivory market, predominantly in China. Seizure data implicates Tanzania in more large flows of ivory than any other country. It is also consistently...

Books

11.05.14

China 1945

Richard Bernstein
A riveting account of the watershed moment in America’s dealings with China that forever altered the course of East-West relations.As 1945 opened, America was on surprisingly congenial terms with China’s Communist rebels—their soldiers treated their American counterparts as heroes, rescuing airmen shot down over enemy territory. Chinese leaders talked of a future in which American money and technology would help lift China out of poverty. Mao Zedong himself held friendly meetings with U.S. emissaries, vowing to them his intention of establishing an American-style democracy in China.By year’s end, however, cordiality had been replaced by chilly hostility and distrust. Chinese Communist soldiers were setting ambushes for American marines in north China; Communist newspapers were portraying the United States as an implacable imperialist enemy; civil war in China was erupting. The pattern was set for a quarter century of almost total Sino-American mistrust, with the devastating wars in Korea and Vietnam among the consequences.Richard Bernstein here tells the incredible story of that year’s sea change, brilliantly analyzing its many components, from ferocious infighting among U.S. diplomats, military leaders, and opinion makers to the complex relations between Mao and his patron, Stalin.On the American side, we meet experienced “China hands” John Paton Davies and John Stewart Service, whose efforts at negotiation made them prey to accusations of Communist sympathy; FDR’s special ambassador Patrick J. Hurley, a decorated general and self-proclaimed cowboy; and Time journalist, Henry Luce, whose editorials helped turn the tide of American public opinion. On the Chinese side, Bernstein reveals the ascendant Mao and his intractable counterpart, Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek; and the indispensable Zhou Enlai.A tour de force of narrative history, China 1945 examines the first episode in which American power and good intentions came face-to-face with a powerful Asian revolutionary movement, and challenges familiar assumptions about the origins of modern Sino-American relations. —Knopf {chop}

Sinica Podcast

10.24.14

Chomping at the Bitcoin

Kaiser Kuo & Jeremy Goldkorn from Sinica Podcast
After a shocking expose of Jeremy Goldkorn’s criminal past, Sinica this week moves on to examine the Bitcoin phenomenon in China. Joined by Zennon Kapron, owner of the Shanghai consultancy Kapronasia and recent author of the book Chomping at the...