Media

02.19.15

Why 700 Million People Keep Watching the Chinese New Year Gala, Even Though It’s Terrible

Rachel Lu
The Chinese New Year Gala, which aired live on February 18 on Chinese Central Television (CCTV), is a four-and-half hour variety show with song and dance, comedic skits, magic tricks, acrobatic acts, and celebrity cameos. The show celebrates the...

Media

02.10.15

Chinese Corruption, Now Officially Hilarious

Rachel Lu
Corruption is finally funny—at least, according to the Chinese Communist Party. That’s because comedic performances in the upcoming February 18 performance of China’s annual New Year Gala, a variety show on China Central Television (CCTV) expected...

Media

02.05.15

Why Chinese Promote Confining New Mothers for a Month

Rachel Lu
HONG KONG—Giving birth is never easy, but for new Chinese mothers the month following a baby’s arrival is particularly fraught. Immediately after I became pregnant for the first time, I started to hear about zuoyuezi, or “sitting the month.” It’s a...

Media

01.22.15

Xi Jinping’s Pay Raise

Alexa Olesen
It just got slightly less difficult to be a clean Chinese official. State media reported on January 20 that Chinese civil servants had received their first pay raise in ten years, a move that includes a 60 percent bump for President Xi Jinping and...

Media

01.13.15

This Culture Has Not Yet Been Rated

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
It all started with plunging necklines. After the sudden withdrawal and subsequent sanitizing of a popular Chinese show, viewers in China have renewed longstanding calls to strip government censors of their power, using one simple solution: a...

Media

01.13.15

‘Where’s Our Unity March?’ China Wants to Know

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian & Rachel Lu
The January 7 terrorist attack on satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo that left 12 dead has mostly inspired unity in the West, but the massive march held in its aftermath is spurring controversy, and even some disdain, in China. While the...

Media

01.08.15

What Will Happen to Uber in China?

Ride-sharing app Uber has expanded around the world at a blistering pace, launching in a new city every one or two days. At first glance, China would appear the ideal fit for the Silicon Valley startup. Most urban residents in the world’s second-...

Media

12.18.14

Hong Kong, the Resilient City

David Wertime
The tents have folded. After 75 days of camping on the street, braving police crackdowns, occasional civilian attacks, and the city’s (admittedly mild) winter chill, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters have cleared out. As promised, police moved in...

Media

12.08.14

Happy Friday, Zhou Yongkang

Alexa Olesen
Eight minutes after midnight on Friday, the axe fell on Zhou Yongkang: a terse news release from state-run Xinhua news agency said that China’s former security czar Zhou had been expelled from the Chinese Communist Party, his case handed over to...

Media

12.08.14

On First Annual Constitution Day, China’s Most Censored Word Was ‘Constitution’

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
On December 4, China’s first annual Constitution Day, Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily posted the complete text of the Chinese constitution to its Weibo microblogging account, accompanied by the upbeat hashtag: “Let’s all read the...

Media

12.05.14

Repeat After Me: Taiwan’s Recent Elections Had Nothing to Do With Hong Kong

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
If China was in fact the invisible candidate in Taiwan’s local elections, it just lost in a landslide. On November 28, voters on the self-governing island, which mainland China considers a renegade province, selected candidates for over 11,000...

Media

11.20.14

The Invisible Candidate in Taiwan’s Elections

Almost 80 percent of Taiwan, an island of 23 million off the coast of China, is expected to head to the polls November 29 to vote in local elections with more than 11,000 seats up for grabs. Voters will choose candidates ranging from mayors in...

Media

11.14.14

Why Is Beijing Downplaying the Supposedly Huge Climate Change Deal?

Alexa Olesen
The United States has been using some frothy language to describe its joint statement with China on forestalling climate change. In a breathless New York Times editorial, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry referred to it as "something of great...

Media

11.12.14

“Having a Second Kid Isn’t as Simple as Adding Another Pair of Chopsticks”

Alexa Olesen
When China loosened its family planning rules a year ago in November, allowing more couples to have a second child, it was big news. It marked the biggest reform of China's strict family planning rules—which limited most urban couples to one...

Media

11.05.14

Tim Cook Coming Out Has Turned China Into a Nation of Fifth-Graders

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
"Let me be clear," wrote Apple CEO Tim Cook in a Bloomberg Businessweek article published on October 30. "I'm proud to be gay."Within an hour of the article's publication, Cook's first public announcement of his...

Media

10.29.14

Foot Spas, Steamed Buns, and Midday Drinking

It may not be Monty Python’s famous “Ministry of Silly Walks,” but it’s close.The Office of Forbidding Midday Alcohol Consumption, a local government initiative in China’s southern Henan province which seeks to reduce alcohol consumption at...

Media

10.29.14

A Talking Heads Video: China Strikes Back

Orville Schell
In the first episode of the new VICE News series Talking Heads, Orville Schell, the Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at Asia Society, and publisher of ChinaFile, discusses his New York Review of Books essay, "China...

Media

10.27.14

What China’s Reading: ‘Broken Dreams, USA’

Zhou Xiaoping, a 33-year-old selfie-snapping blogger, has quickly become the new face of Chinese patriotism—or, some would say, nationalism. On October 15, Chinese President Xi Jinping held a forum in Beijing in which the president called for art to...

Media

10.24.14

Hong Kong Documentary Explores the Roots of Dissent

La Frances Hui
To many observers, Hong Kong’s “Umbrella Movement”—thousands of students and other citizens in the streets demanding to choose their own political leaders—seemed to unfurl, fully formed, out of nowhere. Residents of the former colony were supposed...

Media

10.23.14

Pandas Were Monsters

Alexa Olesen
"Rich Chinese are literally eating this exotic mammal into extinction," read a recent Global Post expose of the devastating trade in the pangolin, a scaly anteater that Chinese consider a delicacy. According to the Post, the adorable...

Media

10.23.14

Kenny G: The Newest ‘Foreign Force’ in Hong Kong

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
As pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong extend into their fourth week with no resolution in sight, pro-Beijing voices have increasingly accused “foreign forces” of wielding influence over Hong Kong protests and intervening in Chinese internal affairs...

Media

10.21.14

Chinese Doubt Their Own Soft Power Venture

On September 27, Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong read aloud a letter written by President Xi Jinping at a ceremony in Beijing celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Confucius Institute (CI) program, an international chain of academic centers...

Media

10.15.14

Jiang Zemin Unplugged

Given the leadership styles of Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping, who have been China’s supreme leaders over the past twelve years, it is an almost shocking experience to look back at these two videos (the first of which circulated last week on social media...

Media

10.10.14

China Bans Law-Breaking Actors From Movies and Television

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
Amid an ongoing government campaign against drugs, prostitution, and other moral vices, a powerful government agency has reportedly issued new regulations banning actors with histories of drug use or prostitution from appearing in movies and...

Media

10.03.14

Under Different Umbrellas

Zhang Xiaoran
“Dozens of mainlanders were taken away by the police because they openly supported Occupy Central and at least ten of them have been detained…They are in Jiangxi, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Beijing, Chongqing, Guangzhou, etc,” Hong Kong-based blogger and...

Media

10.01.14

Media Portrays Hong Kong Protests as Either Inspiring or Dangerous

Rachel Lu
The second and third days of mass protests to demand broader democracy in Hong Kong ended with none of the violence and confrontation seen on September 28. Thousands of protesters continued to gather on the streets of the city’s busiest shopping and...

Media

10.01.14

They Can Take Our Freedom, But They Will Never Take Our Instagram

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
When thousands of Hong Kong protesters clashed with police on Sunday, September 28, many residents of the city immediately took to the photo-sharing platform Instagram. There, they uploaded images of police violence and demonstrations that shocked...

Media

09.29.14

In China, the Most Censored Day of the Year

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
Censors on Weibo, China’s massive Twitter-like microblogging platform, just had their biggest day of the year. And once again, it was events in the special administrative region of Hong Kong, not the Chinese mainland, that triggered it.Student-led...

Media

09.25.14

An Internet Where Nobody Says Anything

David Wertime
Here is what a court in Urumqi, the capital of China’s western Xinjiang region, concludes Ilham Tohti, a balding, thick-set, 44-year-old professor, did: “Using ‘Uighur Online’ as a platform, and taking advantage of his role as a university professor...

Media

09.18.14

‘What’s So Wrong with Splitting up?’

David Wertime
It reads like an Orwellian threat to all Scots: "The English government needs to immediately commence political thought education, and Scotland needs to be ruled by someone patriotic. Strike hard against separatist forces! Let every department...

Media

09.12.14

A New Definition of Chinese Patriotism

Rachel Lu
China’s ruling Communist Party has a message for Chinese citizens: You are for us, or you are against us.That’s the takeaway from a widely discussed September 10 opinion piece in pro-party tabloid Global Times, in which Chen Xiankui, a professor at...

Media

09.10.14

iPhone 6: Designed in California, Leaked in China

David Wertime
China’s cyberspace is bursting with anticipation for the iPhone 6—never mind that it promises to cost more than most citizens make in a month. Apple, the U.S.-based company that designs and sells the iPhone, had scheduled a major announcement about...

Media

09.02.14

Anti-Vice Click-Bait Spawns Popular Govt. Social Media Feed

Alexa Olesen
The Chinese government institution with the biggest social media following goes to...the nationwide anti-vice campaign called "Strike the four blacks, Eliminate the four harms." Da Sihei, Chu Sihai in Mandarin, the four blacks and four...

Media

08.27.14

A ‘School Bus and a Ferrari’

Communication between China and the United States can often resemble ships passing in the night—or planes passing through international airspace. But when it comes to this particularly fraught bilateral relationship, perhaps metaphors are best...

Media

08.07.14

Beards and Muslim Headscarves Banned From Buses In One Xinjiang City

A city in China’s remote western Xinjiang region has temporarily banned men with beards and women with Muslim headscarves from taking public buses. The extreme security measure—to be implemented for the duration of a sports competition slated to...

Media

08.06.14

The Bizarre Fixation on a 23-Year-Old Woman

On August 4, a 6.5-magnitude earthquake viciously struck Ludian County, a township in the southwest province of Yunnan, with a death toll surpassing 400. The news swiftly hit Chinese headlines, and images of the devastation circulated widely on...

Media

07.30.14

Paper Tiger

Isaac Stone Fish & Rachel Lu
For 10 months, the fate of Zhou Yongkang existed in a space of plausible deniability. Respected Western media outlets had reported that the 71-year-old Zhou, a retired official who served as China's much-feared domestic security czar from 2007...

Media

07.30.14

Say It Ain’t So, Zhou

It was an exchange perfectly tailored for modern Chinese politics: alternately unscripted and cagey, chummy but laced with a hint of menace. At a Beijing press conference following a Chinese Communist Party meeting in early March, a reporter for...

Media

07.22.14

All Hail ‘Fatty Kim the Third’

David Wertime
It’s North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un as the world has never seen him. In a three-minute clip that has accumulated over 200,000 views after its early July posting on Chinese video site Tudou, a crudely photoshopped Kim dances on the street,...

Media

07.21.14

Everybody Hates Rui

He may be widely reviled in his home country, but oh, what a resume: The son of an author and screenwriter; a graduate of the prestigious China Foreign Affairs University; a Yale World Fellow; and state-run China Central Television (CCTV)’s best-...

Media

07.08.14

Changing the Chinese Embassy’s Address to Liu Xiaobo Plaza Is a Silly Idea

I rarely agree with the Chinese Embassy in Washington, but an amendment making its way through Congress has made me unlikely bedfellows with Beijing’s Washington diplomats.Representative Frank Wolf (R-Va.) has sponsored an amendment to rename the...

Media

07.02.14

The Mogul Takes Manhattan

Lunch at Central Park's Loeb Boathouse is an elegant affair, popular among well-heeled tourists and alumni networking associations for its lakeside view and excellent service. But on Wednesday, June 25, the restaurant hosted hundreds of...

Media

06.24.14

The President China Never Had

David Wertime
An activist lawyer heroically risks everything for his beliefs. Although he fails, his brave stand against authoritarianism wins him lasting admiration and changes the fate of his East Asian nation forever. The plot may sound seditious in mainland...

Media

06.18.14

Leaning In ... to Corruption

It's no secret that graft is an essential part of climbing the Chinese Communist Party ranks. Now, according to Chinese state media, ambitious female cadres are increasingly being caught taking bribes and trading favors. On June 16, the state-...

Media

06.05.14

A Time-Lapse Map of Protests Sweeping China in 1989

Twenty-five years ago in the southern Chinese province of Hunan, a group of small-town high school students listening to shortwave radio heard news of a deadly crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators nearly 1,000 miles away in the capital of...

Media

06.03.14

A Day to Remember/A Day Forgotten

Susan Jakes
China’s suppression of the memory of the June 4 massacre of demonstrators in Beijing in 1989 is a perennial and important subject of commentary. Much written on the subject is excellent, but little I’ve seen describes repressed memory in action as...

Media

05.23.14

“What’s Been Done to My Beautiful Homeland?”

Nigel Maiti, an ethnically Uighur host for Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, is a well-known and popular entertainer with more than 1 million followers on the social media site Sina Weibo. After 31 were killed by a coordinated bomb and truck attack at...

Media

05.20.14

Netizens Complain Chinese Government Was Slow to Respond to Violence in Vietnam

On May 18, Hong Lei, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said China “will suspend some of its plans for bilateral exchanges with Vietnam in response to the deadly violence against Chinese nationals in the country,” according to...

Media

05.19.14

One Uighur Man’s Journey in Two Cultures

Over the past two months, the relationship between China’s estimated 10 million Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking people, most of whom follow some form of Sunni Islam, and the majority Han population has deteriorated after a series of violent incidents...

Media

05.15.14

Evan Osnos: China’s ‘Age of Ambition’

Evan Osnos & Orville Schell
New Yorker correspondent Evan Osnos discusses his new book, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China, with Orville Schell, Arthur Ross Director of Asia Society's Center on U.S.-China Relations.{chop} ...

Media

05.13.14

Why Are There No Credit Scores in China?

Few would dispute that Chinese society suffers from a serious trust problem. After surviving crafty scams and shoddy products for years, Chinese people have become guarded with strangers and cautious in business dealings. Given all that, it would be...

Media

05.08.14

The Chinese Are Coming! (And That’s OK)

On April 29, the United States Chamber of Commerce, a U.S. lobbying group, announced that Chinese investment in the United States surpassed U.S. investment in China for the first time. The news has been a long time in coming: Over the past decade,...

Media

05.06.14

Chinese to the World: Ignore Our GDP

The U.S.-based World Bank grabbed everybody’s attention by announcing that China was poised to displace the United States as the world’s largest economy based on purchasing power. But a survey of the Chinese web shows people at home aren’t buying it...

Media

04.30.14

Five Lessons From the Axing of ‘The Big Bang Theory’

It’s a plot twist few saw coming. Not long ago, China’s video streaming sites were trying to clean up years of copyright violations by paying big bucks to license popular U.S. television shows. For their part, Chinese fans had begun to abandon the...

Media

04.28.14

A Guide to Social Class in Modern China

Class is a sensitive word in China. Marxist-Leninist rhetoric like “class enemies,” “class conflict,” and “class struggle” are rarely seen in the country’s media these days, but since China began its market reforms in 1979, stratification has...

Media

04.25.14

Bieliebers They Are Not—Chinese Outraged by Singer’s Tokyo Shrine Visit

Justin Bieber has once again displayed his talent for seemingly effortless international gaffes. The twenty-year-old Canadian pop princeling, who last year wrote “hopefully she would have been a Belieber” in the guestbook on his visit to the Anne...

Media

04.23.14

Welcome to Uighur Web—Now Watch What You Say

China’s Internet is vast, with millions of sites and more than 618 million users. But nested within that universe is a tiny virtual community comprising just a few thousand websites where China’s Uighur, the country’s fifth-largest ethnic minority...

Media

04.17.14

Ai Weiwei’s Reach Draws New Yorkers’ Attention to Free Speech

Kim Wall
“Ai Weiwei retweeted me!” exclaimed a young blonde woman, laughing and waving her iPhone in the air with excitement. She and some two hundred other New Yorkers had gathered on the steps of the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza to show her...

Media

04.15.14

Captain America Conquers China

SHANGHAI—This week, while U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s trip to China was underscoring bilateral tensions between the two powers, the Chinese masses were busy embracing another U.S. visitor. The Marvel superhero sequel Captain America: The...

Media

04.11.14

Is Jesus Really Hotter Than Mao on China’s Social Media?

It’s easier to talk about Jesus than Chinese President and Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping on Weibo, China’s massive Twitter-like social media platform.The atheist Chinese Communist Party, known for its sometimes heavy-handed policies...