Terrorism: U.S. and China’s Common Enemy in Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
While U.S. and Chinese interests often have divergent interests in Africa, they do share at least one common enemy: terrorism. Chinese nationals have been kidnapped and held for ransom in a number of African countries, including South Sudan, Egypt,...

Books

06.09.14

Voices from Tibet

Tsering Woeser and Wang Lixiong, Edited and Translated by Violet S. Law
Tsering Woeser and Wang Lixiong are widely regarded as the most eloquent, insightful writers on contemporary Tibet. Their reportage on the economic exploitation, environmental degradation, cultural destruction, and political subjugation that plague the increasingly Han Chinese-dominated Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) is as powerful as it is profound, ardent, and analytical in equal measure, and not in the least bit ideological. Voices from Tibet is a collection of essays and reportage in translation that captures the many facets of an unprecedented sea change wreaked by a rising China upon a scared land and its defenseless people. With the TAR in a virtual lockdown after the 2008 unrest, this book sheds important light on the simmering frustrations that touched off the unrest and Beijing’s stability über alles control tactics in its wake. The authors also interrogate longstanding assumptions about Tibetans’ political future. Woeser’s and Wang’s writings represent a rare Chinese view sympathetic to Tibetan causes, one that should resonate in many places confronting threats of cultural subjugation and economic domination by a non-indigenous power. —Hong Kong University Press {chop}

Sino-African Marriages in China: ‘Til Death Do Us Part’?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
A marriage boom of sorts is underway in China, where a growing number of African men are tying the knot with Chinese women. While these new families are breaking long-held cultural stereotypes, they are also confronting a whole set of new challenges...

Sinica Podcast

06.06.14

Rice, Wheat, and Air Filters

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, we're delighted to be joined by Thomas Talhelm, Ph.D. candidate in psychology at the University of Virginia and author of a recent paper proposing a fascinating connection between rice and wheat-growing communities, and...

The Ghosts of Tiananmen Square

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Every spring, an old friend of mine named Xu Jue makes a trip to the Babaoshan cemetery in the western suburbs of Beijing to lay flowers on the tombs of her dead son and husband. She always plans her visit for April 5, which is the holiday of Pure...

The Tanks and the People

Liao Yiwu from New York Review of Books
Twenty-five years ago, before the Tiananmen massacre, my father told me: “Son, be good and stay at home, never provoke the Communist Party.”My father knew what he was talking about. His courage had been broken, by countless political campaigns...

Sinica Podcast

06.02.14

OMG, in Conversation With Jessica Beinecke

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn interview Jessica Beinecke, host of the VOA-funded OMG Meiyu, a Chinese show on English slang that has earned Jessica hundreds of thousands of followers in China. Now the owner of her own production company, Jessica is...

‘You Won’t Get Near Tiananmen!’: Hu Jia on the Continuing Crackdown

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Hu Jia is one of China’s best-known political activists. He participated in the 1989 Tiananmen protests as a fifteen-year-old, studied economics, and then worked for environmental and public health non-governmental organizations. A practicing...

CCTV Africa: The Frontline of Soft-Power Diplomacy

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Since its launch in 2012, CCTV Africa has grown considerably in its distribution and programming. However, the central question remains as to whether or not anyone is actually watching, to justify the massive investment undertaken by the Chinese...

Reports

06.01.14

Decoding China’s Emerging “Great Power” Strategy in Asia

Christopher K. Johnson, Ernest Z. Bower, Victor D. Cha, Michael J. Green, Matthew P. Goodman
Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
The course charted by China’s reemergence as a great power over the next few decades represents the primary strategic challenge for the U.S.-Japan security alliance and for the East Asian security landscape writ large. If China’s economic, military...

Excerpts

05.28.14

‘Staying’—An Excerpt from ‘People’s Republic of Amnesia’

Louisa Lim
Zhang Ming has become used to his appearance startling small children. Skeletally thin, with cheeks sunk deep into his face, he walked gingerly across the cream-colored hotel lobby as if his limbs were made of glass. On his forehead were two large,...

Sinica Podcast

05.27.14

History of the Internet in China

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
The Internet has always been near and dear to our hearts here at Sinica. Four years ago, our very first show covered Google China and the fracas that followed their decision to pull out of China. And in the years since, we've frequently talked...

China’s New Diplomatic Strategy in Africa: Humility

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
Just a few weeks after Chinese premier Li Keqiang admitted that China was going through “growing pains” in its engagement with Africa, Beijing’s central bank chief, Zhou Xiaochuan, acknowledged some of the 2,500 PRC companies operating in Africa are...

The Smooth Path to Pearl Harbor

Rana Mitter from New York Review of Books
In mid-February, as part of the plans for his official visit to Germany, Chinese President Xi Jinping asked to visit one of Berlin’s best-known sites: Peter Eisenman’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. The request was declined when it became...

Books

05.22.14

Age of Ambition

Evan Osnos
From abroad, we often see China as a caricature: a nation of pragmatic plutocrats and ruthlessly dedicated students destined to rule the global economy—or an addled Goliath, riddled with corruption and on the edge of stagnation. What we don’t see is how both powerful and ordinary people are remaking their lives as their country dramatically changes.As the Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, Evan Osnos was on the ground in China for years, witness to profound political, economic, and cultural upheaval. In Age of Ambition, he describes the greatest collision taking place in that country: the clash between the rise of the individual and the Communist Party’s struggle to retain control. He asks probing questions: Why does a government with more success lifting people from poverty than any civilization in history choose to put strict restraints on freedom of expression? Why do millions of young Chinese professionals—fluent in English and devoted to Western pop culture—consider themselves “angry youth,” dedicated to resisting the West’s influence? How are Chinese from all strata finding meaning after two decades of the relentless pursuit of wealth?Writing with great narrative verve and a keen sense of irony, Osnos follows the moving stories of everyday people and reveals life in the new China to be a battleground between aspiration and authoritarianism, in which only one can prevail. —Farrar, Straus, and Giroux {chop}

Tiananmen: How Wrong We Were

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
Twenty-five years ago to the day I write this, I watched and listened as thousands of Chinese citizens in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square dared to condemn their leaders. Some shouted “Premier Li Peng resign.” Even braver ones cried “Down with Deng...

China: Detained to Death

Renee Xia & Perry Link from New York Review of Books
On May 3, fifteen Beijing citizens—scholars, journalists, and rights lawyers—gathered informally at the home of Professor Hao Jian of the Beijing Film Academy to reflect on the 25th anniversary of the 1989 June Fourth massacre in Beijing. Two days...

Sinica Podcast

05.10.14

Initial Impressions: Three First Trips to China, 1970s-1990s

Jeremy Goldkorn, Geremie R. Barmé & more from Sinica Podcast
In this show: dating tips for hooking up with your Marxist-Leninist thought instructor, advice on what modern music and seasonal vegetables to smuggle in from Hong Kong, the origins of China’s somewhat unorthodox driving customs, and instructions on...

The China Challenge

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
In 1890, an undistinguished U.S. Navy captain published a book that would influence generations of strategists. Alfred Thayer Mahan’s The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660–1783 posited that great nations need potent, blue-water navies backed...

Sinica Podcast

05.03.14

Shoptalk on Publishing

Jeremy Goldkorn, Alice Xin Liu & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, Jeremy Goldkorn is pleased to be joined by two people navigating the English-language publishing industry as it involves China: Alice Xin Liu, Editor of Pathlight magazine, and Karen Ma, first-time author of the well-received...

Sinica Podcast

04.25.14

Trash Talk with Adam Minter

Jeremy Goldkorn & Adam Minter from Sinica Podcast
Anyone living in China doubtless has a sense of the unholy number of people who seem to be involved in the trash trade here, and who will ferret away everything from your cardboard boxes to plastic bottles faster than you can unpack them or consume...

Sinica Podcast

04.21.14

American Football in China

David Moser from Sinica Podcast
This week we’re delighted to be joined by Christopher Beam, author of the passage quoted above, which we unceremoniously filched from his fantastic New Republic essay about his year with the Chongqing Dockers, one of the many new amateur football...

Sinica Podcast

04.14.14

Live at the Association for Asian Studies

Kaiser Kuo, Jeffrey Wasserstrom & more from Sinica Podcast
This week, Sinica presents a special live recording from the annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) which convened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Regular listeners, please note that the audio quality here isn’t up to our usual...

Books

04.09.14

Poseidon

Steven R. Schwankert
Royal Navy submarine HMS Poseidon sank in collision with a Chinese freighter during routine exercises in 1931 off Weihaiwei. Thirty of its fifty-six-man crew scrambled out of the hatches as it went down. Of the twenty-six who remained inside, eight attempted to surface using "Davis gear," an early form of diving equipment: six of them made it safely to the surface in the first escape of this kind in submarine history and became heroes. The incident was then forgotten, eclipsed by the greater drama that followed in World War II, until news emerged that, for obscure reasons, the Chinese government had salvaged the wrecked submarine in 1972. This lively account of the Poseidon incident tells the story of the accident and its aftermath, and of the author’s own quest to find out about the 1972 salvage. —Hong Kong University Press {chop}{node, 4183, 3}

Solving China’s Schools: An Interview with Jiang Xueqin

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
In December, China stunned the world when the most widely used international education assessment revealed that Shanghai’s schools now outperform those of any other country—not only in math and science but also in reading. Some education experts...

Sinica Podcast

04.07.14

In Conversation with Timothy Garton Ash

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn are pleased to host a conversation with Timothy Garton Ash, Professor of History at Oxford University and recent participant in the Capital M Literary Festival in Beijing. As one the world's...

Books

04.01.14

The Contest of the Century

Geoff Dyer
From the former Financial Times Beijing bureau chief, a balanced and far-seeing analysis of the emerging competition between China and the United States that will dominate twenty-first-century world affairs—an inside account of Beijing’s quest for influence and an explanation of how America can come out on top. The structure of global politics is shifting rapidly. After decades of rising, China has entered a new and critical phase where it seeks to turn its economic heft into global power. In this deeply informed book, Geoff Dyer makes a lucid and convincing argument that China and the United States are now embarking on a great power–style competition that will dominate the century. This contest will take place in every arena: from control of the seas, where China’s new navy is trying to ease the United States out of Asia and reassert its traditional leadership, to rewriting the rules of the global economy, with attempts to turn the renminbi into the predominant international currency, toppling the dominance of the U.S. dollar. And by investing billions to send its media groups overseas, Beijing hopes to shift the global debate about democracy and individual rights. Eyeing the high ground of international politics, China is taking the first steps in an ambitious global agenda. Yet Dyer explains how China will struggle to unseat the United States. China’s new ambitions are provoking intense anxiety, especially in Asia, while America’s global influence has deep roots. If Washington can adjust to a world in which it is no longer dominant but still immensely powerful, it can withstand China’s challenge. With keen insight based on a deep local knowledge—offering the reader visions of coastal Chinese beauty pageants and secret submarine bases, lockstep Beijing military parades and the neon media screens of Xinhua exported to New York City’s Times Square—The Contest of the Century is essential reading at a time of great uncertainty about America’s future, a road map for retaining a central role in the world.  —Knopf {chop}

Reports

04.01.14

High Tech: The Next Wave of Chinese Investment in America

Thilo Hanemann and Daniel H. Rosen
Asia Society
In this report, we explore the advent of Chinese investment in U.S. high-tech sectors in order to provide an objective starting point for debate about this nascent trend. We use a unique dataset on Chinese FDI transactions in the United States to...

Reports

04.01.14

Distribution of Metals in Soils From Uncultivated Land, Soils From Rice Fields and in Rice Grown in the Area of an Industrial Complex With Metal Smelting and Processing Facilities in Hunan Province, China

Kevin Brigden, Samantha Hetherington, Mengjiao Wang, and David Santillo
Greenpeace
Contamination of soil with a number of toxic metals, including cadmium and lead, is known to be an existing problem for many parts of Hunan province, China. High levels of these metals have also been reported for rice grown in many parts of the...

Sinica Podcast

03.31.14

The World War One Chinese Labor Corps

Kaiser Kuo & David Moser from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, Kaiser Kuo and David Moser are delighted to host Mark O’Neill, author of The Chinese Labour Corps, for a discussion of the Chinese contribution to World War One. As a comprehensive look into China’s role in The Great War, O’...

Books

03.26.14

Stagnant Water & Other Poems by Wen Yiduo

Robert Hammond Dorsett (Translator)
On June 6, 1946, at 5pm, after stepping out of the office of the Democratic Weekly, Wen Yiduo died in a hail of bullets. Mao blamed the Nationalists and transformed Wen into a paragon of the revolution.Wen was born into a well-to-do family in Hubei, China, and received a classical education. But he came of age as old imperial China and its institu­tions were being swept away, and the Chinese people were looking ahead to a new China. It was fertile ground for a young poet.In 1922, Wen came to the U.S. and studied art and literature at the Art Institute of Chicago. It was during this period that his first collection of poetry was published, Hongzu or “Red Candle.” He returned to China in 1925 and took a position as a university professor and became active in the political and aesthetic debates of the time. His second collection of poems, Sishui, rendered by previous translators as “Dead Water,” was published in 1928.As political trends shifted from an intellectual, elitist base toward a populist one, changes in literature were just as pervasive. Wen was one of the leaders of a movement to reform Chinese poetry—hitherto written in a classical style with a diction and rhetoric so far removed from everyday usage that it had segregated itself from all but the wealthy and the well educated—by adapting common speech and direct observation, while maintaining a strict, albeit new, formalism.However, Wen never resolved the conflicts that existed within him: The elitist and the proletarian, the scholar and the activist, the traditionalist and the innovator, the personal man and the public man, fought for ascendancy. Yet it was these contradictions that proved so fruitful and give his poetry its singular power. —Bright City Books {chop}

Reports

03.25.14

Urban China

World Bank
This report recommends that China curb rapid urban sprawl by reforming land requisition, give migrants urban residency and equal access to basic public services, and reform local finances by finding stable revenues and by allowing local governments...

Sinica Podcast

03.24.14

We Will Make You Learn to Love Baijiu

Jeremy Goldkorn & David Moser from Sinica Podcast
Forget our complaints about the pollution, China has an even more intractable public relations problem that has everything to do with the country’s favorite hard liquor. And yes, we are talking about baijiu. In 1854, French Catholic missionary Régis...

Chinese Atheists? What the Pew Survey Gets Wrong

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Earlier this month, I came across a fascinating opinion survey by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. The report asked people in forty countries whether belief in God is necessary for morality. Mostly, the results aren’t surprising...

Paddling to Peking

Roderick MacFarquhar from New York Review of Books
For Richard Nixon’s foreign policy, 1971 was the best of years and the worst of years. He revealed his opening to China, but he connived at genocide in East Pakistan. Fortunately for him, the world marveled at the one, but was largely ignorant of...

Books

03.19.14

Unbalanced

Stephen Roach
The Chinese and U.S. economies have been locked in an uncomfortable embrace since the late 1970s. Although the relationship initially arose out of mutual benefits, in recent years it has taken on the trappings of an unstable codependence, with the two largest economies in the world losing their sense of self, increasing the risk of their turning on one another in a destructive fashion.In Unbalanced: The Codependency of America and China Stephen Roach lays bare the pitfalls of the current China-U.S. economic relationship. He highlights the conflicts at the center of current tensions, including disputes over trade policies and intellectual property rights, sharp contrasts in leadership styles, the role of the Internet, the recent dispute over cyberhacking, and more.A firsthand witness to the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, Roach likely knows more about the U.S.-China economic relationship than any other Westerner. Here he discusses:Why America saving too little and China saving too much creates mounting problems for bothHow China is planning to re-boot its economic growth model by moving from an external export-led model to one of internal consumerism with a new focus on service industriesHow America shows a disturbing lack of strategy, preferring a short-term reactive approach over a more coherent Chinese-style planning frameworkThe way out: what America could do to turn its own economic fate around and position itself for a healthy economic and political relationship with ChinaIn the wake of the 2008 crisis, both unbalanced economies face urgent and mutually beneficial rebalancings. Unbalanced concludes with a recipe for resolving the escalating tensions of codependence. Roach argues that the Next China offers much for the Next America—and vice versa.—Yale University Press{chop}

Sinica Podcast

03.17.14

Will China Dominate the Twenty-first Century?

Kaiser Kuo from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, we are pleased to present a live show recorded earlier this week at The Bookworm in Beijing, where Kaiser Kuo interviewed Jonathan Fenby, author of the book Will China Dominate the 21st Century?If you haven’t heard of Jonathan...

Sinica Podcast

03.07.14

Wealth and Power: Intellectuals in China

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week, Kaiser and Jeremy are joined by David Moser and Orville Schell. While long-time listeners will of course know of David Moser as one of our favorite resident sinologists, if you haven’t also heard of Orville Schell we think you should have...

The Brave Catholics of China

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Like most pilgrimage sites in China, the shrine in the village of Cave Gulley in Shanxi province is located partway up a mountain, reachable by steep stairs that are meant to shift worshipers’ attention from the world below to heaven above...

Books

03.05.14

Sporting Gender

Yunxiang Gao
When China hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics—and amazed international observers with both its pageantry and gold-medal count—it made a very public statement about the country’s surge to global power. Yet, China has a much longer history of using sport to communicate a political message. Sporting Gender is the first book to explore the rise to fame of female athletes in China during its national crisis of 1931-45 brought on by the Japanese invasion. By re-mapping lives and careers of individual female athletes, administrators, and film actors within a wartime context, Gao shows how these women coped with the conflicting demands of nationalist causes, unwanted male attention, and modern fame. While addressing the themes of state control, media influence, fashion, and changes in gender roles, she argues that the athletic female form helped to create a new ideal of modern womanhood in China at time when women’s emancipation and national needs went hand in hand. This book brings vividly to life the histories of these athletes and demonstrates how intertwined they were with the aims of the state and the needs of society. —University of British Columbia Press{chop}  

Sinica Podcast

03.01.14

In Line Behind a Billion People

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy are joined by Damien Ma, author of In Line Behind a Billion People, a new book for China-watchers looking at how China’s lack of affordable housing, its food and air pollution, and the country’s poor education...

Sinica Podcast

02.24.14

The Disabled in China

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy are joined by James Palmer and John Giszczack for a discussion of the disabled in China. Join us as we discuss how the Chinese language defines the concept of disability, what public attitudes are prevalent...

Sinica Podcast

02.14.14

Dissecting the 2014 Spring Festival Gala

Kaiser Kuo, David Moser & more from Sinica Podcast
A casual survey suggests that ninety-eight percent of Sinica listeners have at some point joined Chinese friends or family in watching the annual television spectacular known as the “Spring Festival Gala.” Sadly, whether from excessive pork...

Books

02.05.14

By All Means Necessary

Elizabeth C. Economy and Michael Levi
In the past thirty years, China has transformed from an impoverished country where peasants comprised the largest portion of the populace to an economic power with an expanding middle class and more megacities than anywhere else on earth. This remarkable transformation has required, and will continue to demand, massive quantities of resources. Like every other major power in modern history, China is looking outward to find them.In By All Means Necessary, Elizabeth C. Economy and Michael Levi explore the unrivaled expansion of the Chinese economy and the global effects of its meteoric growth. China is now engaged in a far-flung quest, hunting around the world for fuel, ores, water, and land for farming, and deploying whatever it needs in the economic, political, and military spheres to secure the resources it requires. Chinese traders and investors buy commodities, with consequences for economies, people, and the environment around the world. Meanwhile the Chinese military aspires to secure sea lanes, and Chinese diplomats struggle to protect the country’s interests abroad. And just as surely as China’s pursuit of natural resources is changing the world—restructuring markets, pushing up commodity prices, transforming resource-rich economies through investment and trade—it is also changing China itself. As Chinese corporations increasingly venture abroad, they must navigate various political regimes, participate in international markets, and adopt foreign standards and practices, which can lead to wide-reaching social and political ramifications at home.Clear, authoritative, and provocative, By All Means Necessary is a sweeping account of where China’s pursuit of raw materials may take the country in the coming years and what the consequences will be—not just for China, but for the whole world. —Oxford University Press{chop}

China’s Way to Happiness

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Richard Madsen is one of the modern-day founders of the study of Chinese religion. A professor at the University of California San Diego, the seventy-three-year-old’s works include Morality and Power in a Chinese Village, China and the American...

Reports

02.01.14

Food Safety in China: A Mapping of Problems, Governance and Research

Jennifer Holdaway and Lewis Husain
The Social Science Research Council
Food safety has become an issue of great concern in China over the last few years. Media reporting has tended to focus on extreme cases of poisoning from food additives or contamination by heavy metals, but food safety encompasses a wide range of...

Reports

02.01.14

The State of Journalism in China

Paul Mooney, Anne Henochowicz, Yu Gao, Qian Gang, Luo Changping, Hu Yong, David Barboza, Hu Shuli, Yang Xiao, Evan Osnos,
The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard
The Communist Party has long striven to control freedom of speech in China. Websites from around the world are blocked. Major social media cannot be accessed, and advanced software is used to delete “sensitive” entries from the Internet. Domestic...

Sinica Podcast

01.24.14

Talking About Taiwan

Kaiser Kuo & David Moser from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, Kaiser Kuo is joined by David Moser and Paul Mozur for an in-depth discussion about everyone’s favorite renegade province. This is a lively conversation that stretches from questions of Taiwanese personal identity to its media...

Books

01.16.14

Debating China

Nina Hachigian (Editor)
America and China are the two most powerful players in global affairs, and no relationship is more consequential. How they choose to cooperate and compete affects billions of lives. But U.S.-China relations are complex and often delicate, featuring a multitude of critical issues that America and China must navigate together. Missteps could spell catastrophe.In Debating China, Nina Hachigian pairs American and Chinese experts in collegial “letter exchanges” that illuminate this multi-dimensional and complex relationship. These fascinating conversations—written by highly respected scholars and former government officials from the U.S. and China—provide an invaluable dual perspective on such crucial issues as trade and investment, human rights, climate change, military dynamics, regional security in Asia, and the media, including the Internet. The engaging dialogue between American and Chinese experts gives readers an inside view of how both sides see the key challenges. Readers bear witness to the writers’ hopes and frustrations as they explore the politics, values, history, and strategic frameworks that inform their positions. This unique volume is perfect for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of U.S.-China relations today.—Oxford University Press{chop}{node, 4406, 4}

China: Reeducation Through Horror

Ian Buruma from New York Review of Books
Here are two snippets from a Chinese Communist journal called People’s China, published in August 1956:In 1956, despite the worst natural calamities in scores of years, China’s peasants, newly organized in co-operatives on a nation-wide scale,...

Sinica Podcast

01.03.14

Birds of Beijing and the Air They Fly In

Jeremy Goldkorn & Terry Townshend from Sinica Podcast
This week, Sinica responds to the fevered requests of the Azure-Winged Magpie society with a show all about birding in Beijing. And why not? Because despite the air pollution that wracks our fair city, Beijing remains one of the best places in the...

Excerpts

01.02.14

Global Development and Investment

Elizabeth Economy & Zha Daojiong
Framing questions: In what ways do the U.S. and Chinese approaches to development and foreign investment differ? Are they evolving, and how? What are the benefits and drawbacks of each approach both to the investing country and the recipient? In...

Books

12.30.13

Every Rock a Universe

Jonathan Chaves (Translator)
The Yellow Mountains (Huangshan) of China’s Anhui Province have been famous for centuries as a place of scenic beauty and inspiration, and remain a hugely popular tourist destination today. A “golden age” of Yellow Mountains travel came in the seventeenth century, when they became a refuge for loyalists protesting the new Qing Dynasty, among them poet and artist Wang Hongdu (1646–1721/1722), who dedicated himself to traveling to each and every peak and site and recording his impressions. Unfortunately, his resulting masterpiece of Chinese travel writing was not printed until 1775 and has since remained obscure and available only in Chinese. Here Jonathan Chaves presents the first complete translation of Wang’s work in a Western language. Wang’s newly rediscovered verse is also translated, showing him to be one of the most accomplished poets of his day. Introductory essays explore the history of scholarly and religious pilgrimage to the area, and the role of the Yellow Mountains in the great Neo-Confucian, Buddhist, and Daoist revivals of the early Qing period, that is, as the center of a yearned-for spiritual and cultural renaissance.—Floating World Editions{chop}

Sinica Podcast

12.27.13

Sinica Goes to the Movies

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
As much as expats in China like to complain about the state of Chinese film and television, this week Kaiser and Jeremy remind us that there is a lot of great art out there, too, in a show that asks the critical question of: what is worth our...

Sinica Podcast

12.20.13

Rectifying Chinese Names

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Living in a community of China watchers, we are unceasingly assaulted by words and phrases for which definitions are unclear, or ambiguous, or over which there is controversy or disagreement. And so, bearing Confucius’ admonition that the most...

Books

12.17.13

Ping-Pong Diplomacy

Nicholas Griffin
The spring of 1971 heralded the greatest geopolitical realignment in a generation. After twenty-two years of antagonism, China and the United States suddenly moved toward a détente—achieved not by politicians but by Ping-Pong players. The Western press delighted in the absurdity of the moment and branded it “Ping-Pong Diplomacy.” But for the Chinese, Ping-Pong was always political, a strategic cog in Mao Zedong’s foreign policy. Nicholas Griffin proves that the organized game, from its first breath, was tied to Communism thanks to its founder, Ivor Montagu, son of a wealthy English baron and spy for the Soviet Union. Ping-Pong Diplomacy traces a crucial inter­section of sports and society. Griffin tells the strange and tragic story of how the game was manipulated at the highest levels; how the Chinese government helped cover up the death of 36 million peasants by holding the World Table Tennis Championships during the Great Famine; how championship players were driven to their deaths during the Cultural Revolution; and, finally, how the survivors were reconvened in 1971 and ordered to reach out to their American counterparts. Through a cast of eccentric characters, from spies to hippies and Ping-Pong-obsessed generals to atom-bomb survivors, Griffin explores how a neglected sport was used to help realign the balance of worldwide power.  —Scribner{chop}

Sinica Podcast

12.13.13

From the Underground to the Internet—Contemporary Art in China

Jeremy Goldkorn, Philip Tinari & more from Sinica Podcast
In the late 1990s, the visual arts in China operated on the fringes of society, and those who dared to flirt with public prominence risked finding themselves on the disapproving end of a government clampdown. And yet how different things seem today...

Sinica Podcast

12.10.13

Joe Biden and the ADIZ Fracas

Kaiser Kuo & Peter Ford
On the weekend of November 23, Beijing announced the establishment of a new Air Defense Identification Zone. Covering a large swath of the East China Sea, the move was intended to assert China’s control over disputed islands in the region, and...

China: Five Pounds of Facts

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
No one seems to have measured exactly how old Chinese civilization is, but Endymion Wilkinson can probably give a more precise answer than anyone else. “1.6 billion minutes separate us from the Zhou conquest of the Shang,” he informs us at the...

The Surprising Empress

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
In the mid-1950s, when I was a graduate student of Chinese history, the Manchu Empress Dowager Cixi (1835–1908) was invariably condemned as a reactionary hate figure; Mao Zedong was admired. In the textbooks of that time, leading American scholars...