Books

06.04.13

Strange Stones

Peter Hessler
During the past decade, Peter Hessler has persistently illuminated worlds both foreign and familiar—ranging from China, where he served as The New Yorker’s correspondent from 2000 to 2007, to southwestern Colorado, where he lived for four years. Strange Stones is an engaging, thought-provoking collection of Hessler’s best pieces, showcasing his range as a storyteller and his gift for writing as both native and knowledgeable outsider. From a taste test between two rat restaurants in South China to a profile of Yao Ming to the moving story of a small-town pharmacist, these pieces are bound by subtle but meaningful ideas: the strength of local traditions, the surprising overlap between cultures, and the powerful lessons drawn from individuals who straddle different worlds.Full of unforgettable figures and an unrelenting spirit of adventure, Strange Stones is a dazzling display of the powerful storytelling, shrewd cultural insight, and warm sense of humor that are the trademarks of Peter Hessler’s work. —Harper Collins{node, 3320, 4}

Books

05.28.13

Stumbling Giant

Timothy Beardson
While dozens of recent books and articles have predicted the near-certainty of China’s rise to global supremacy, this book boldly counters such widely-held assumptions. Timothy Beardson brings to light the daunting array of challenges that today confront China, as well as the inadequacy of the policy responses. Threats to China come on many fronts, Beardson shows, and by their number and sheer weight these problems will thwart any ambition to become the world’s “Number One Power.”Drawing on extensive research and experience living and working in Asia over the last 35 years, the author spells out China’s situation: an inexorable demographic future of a shrinking labor force, relentless aging, extreme gender disparity, and even a falling population. Also, the nation faces social instability, a devastated environment, a predominantly low-tech economy with inadequate innovation, the absence of an effective welfare safety net, an ossified governance structure, and radical Islam lurking at the borders. Beardson’s nuanced, first-hand look at China acknowledges its historic achievements while tempering predictions of its imminent hegemony with a no-nonsense dose of reality. —Yale University Press

Media

05.28.13

Trending on Weibo: #AIDSPatientsCanBeTeachers#

In the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, carriers of the AIDS virus are now allowed to teach schoolchildren. The recently-announced change in regulations marks a step forward for AIDS activists, with the hashtag #AIDSPatientsCanBeTeachers# now...

Hackers Find China Is Land of Opportunity

Edward Wong
New York Times
Whether it is used to break into private networks, track online dissent back to its source or steal trade secrets, hacking is openly discussed and even promoted at trade shows, inside university classrooms and on Internet forums. 

Books

05.09.13

Lao She in London

Anne Witchard
Lao She remains revered as one of China’s great modern writers. His life and work have been the subject of volumes of critique, analysis and study. However, the four years the young aspiring writer spent in London between 1924 and 1929 have largely been overlooked. Dr. Anne Witchard, a specialist in the modernist milieu of London between the wars, reveals Lao She’s encounter with British high modernism and literature from Dickens to Conrad to Joyce. Lao She arrived from his native Peking to the whirl of London’s West End scene—Bloomsburyites, Vorticists, avant-gardists of every stripe, Ezra Pound and the cabaret at the Cave of The Golden Calf. Immersed in the West End 1920s world of risqué flappers, the tabloid sensation of England’s “most infamous Chinaman Brilliant Chang” and Anna May Wong’s scandalous film Piccadilly, simultaneously Lao She spent time in the notorious and much sensationalised East End Chinatown of Limehouse. Out of his experiences came his great novel of London Chinese life and tribulations—Mr. Ma and Son: Two Chinese in London. However, as Witchard reveals, Lao She’s London years affected his writing and ultimately the course of Chinese modernism in far more profound ways. —Hong Kong University Press

Son Of Chinese Official Jailed After Attempted Bribe And Threat

James Griffiths
Shanghaiist
At a meeting he had requested to discuss a 37 percent mark he had recently received on his dissertation (3 percentage points short of a pass) Li Yang offered £5,000 (47,000 yuan). He also came armed with an air pistol.  

U.S. Financier Backs China Scholarship Program

Keith Bradsher
New York Times
The Schwarzman Scholars program will pay all expenses for 200 students each year from around the world for a one-year master’s program at  Tsinghua University in Beijing.  

Conversation

04.23.13

How Would You Spend (the Next) $300 Million on U.S.-China Relations?

Orville Schell & Michael Kulma
Orville Schell:When Stephen A. Schwarzman announced his new $300 million program aimed at sending foreign scholars to Tsinghua University in Beijing the way Rhodes Scholarship, set up by the businessman and statesman Cecil Rhodes in 1902 began...

Caixin Media

04.20.13

Bird Flu’s Latest Talons Force Fresh Defense

A surprise attack by a new strain of the bird flu virus has forced Chinese authorities into the trenches for a two-pronged defense against unseen enemies.The primary threat is the deadly virus that scientists identified as a new strain of H7N9. It...

Findings From The 2013 C.G.S. International Graduate Admissions Survey

Leila M. Gonzales, Jeannette K...
Council of Graduate Schools
A slowdown in international applicants to U.S. graduate schools is partially due to a nearly five percent decline in applicants coming from China. 

Books

04.12.13

Lin Shu, Inc.

Michael Gibbs Hill
How could a writer who knew no foreign languages call himself a translator? How, too, did he become a major commercial success, churning out nearly 200 translations over twenty years? Lin Shu, Inc. crosses the fields of literary studies, intellectual history, and print culture, offering new ways to understand the stakes of translation in China and beyond. With rich detail and lively prose, Michael Gibbs Hill shows how Lin Shu (1852-1924) rose from obscurity to become China’s leading translator of Western fiction at the beginning of the twentieth century. Well before Ezra Pound’s and Bertolt Brecht’s “inventions” of China revolutionized poetry and theater, Lin Shu and his assistants—who did, in fact, know languages like English and French—had already given many Chinese readers their first taste of fiction from the United States, France, and England. After passing through Lin Shu’s “factory of writing,” classic novels like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Oliver Twist spoke with new meaning for audiences concerned with the tumultuous social and political change facing China. Leveraging his success as a translator of foreign books, Lin Shu quickly became an authority on traditional Chinese culture who upheld the classical language as a cornerstone of Chinese national identity. Eventually, younger intellectuals—who had grown up reading his translations—turned on Lin Shu and tarred him as a symbol of backward conservatism. Ultimately, Lin’s defeat and downfall became just as significant as his rise to fame in defining the work of the intellectual in modern China. —Oxford University Press

Are China’s Colleges Too Easy?

Eric Fish
Economic Observer
China may have the lowest college dropout rate in the world. Some chalk this up to the success of China’s rigorous college entrance exam and family support systems. But others say the country’s universities have become too easy. 

Conversation

04.11.13

Why Is Chinese Soft Power Such a Hard Sell?

Jeremy Goldkorn, Donald Clarke & more
Jeremy Goldkorn:Chairman Mao Zedong said that power comes out of the barrel of a gun, and he knew a thing or two about power, both hard and soft. If you have enough guns, you have respect. Money is the same: if you have enough cash, you can buy guns...

Books

04.03.13

From the Dragon’s Mouth

Ana Fuentes
From The Dragon’s Mouth: Ten True Stories that Unveil the Real China is an exquisitely intimate look into the China of the twenty-first century as seen through the eyes of its people. This is one of the rare times a book combines the voices of everyday Chinese people from so many different layers of society: a dissident tortured by the police; a young millionaire devoted to nationalism; a peasant-turned-prostitute to pay for the best education for her son; a woman who married her gay friend to escape from social pressure, just like an estimated 16 million other women; a venerated kung fu master unable to train outdoors because of the hazardous pollution; the daughter of two Communist Party officials getting rich coaching Chinese entrepreneurs the ways of Capitalism; among others.   —Penguin{chop}{node, 3048, 4}

Conversation

03.26.13

Can China Transform Africa?

Jeremy Goldkorn, Isabel Hilton & more
Jeremy Goldkorn:The question is all wrong. China is already transforming Africa, the question is how China is transforming Africa, not whether it can. From the “China shops”—small stores selling cheap clothing, bags, and kitchenware—that have become...

Conversation

03.13.13

China’s Post 1980’s Generation—Are the Kids All Right?

Sun Yunfan, Orville Schell & more
This week, the ChinaFile Conversation is a call for reactions to an article about China's current generation gap, written by James Palmer, a Beijing-based historian, author, and Global Times editor. The article, first published by Aeon in the U...

Media

03.01.13

No Closer to the Chinese Dream?

Timothy Garton Ash
2013 began dramatically in China with a standoff between journalists and state propaganda authorities over a drastically rewritten New Year’s editorial at the Southern Weekly newspaper.In the first week of the New Year, the editors of Southern...

Media

02.26.13

Flowers of the Motherland

Sun Yunfan
School uniforms have been a hot topic in the Chinese media since last Thursday. On February 20, 2013, on a new satirical TV news talk show akin to the Colbert Report but with a pre-recorded laugh track instead of a live audience, host Jin Yan of...

SF Minister Spreads Gospel Of Sex In China

Don Lattin
San Francisco Chronicle
In March 2013, Rev. Ted McIlvenna will lead a delegation of 10 sex experts to China to help an emerging class of financially independent Chinese women achieve female sexual empowerment.

In China, Families Bet It All on College for Their Children

Keith Bradsher
New York Times
Wu Yiebing has been going down coal shafts practically every workday of his life, wrestling an electric drill for $500 a month in the choking dust of claustrophobic tunnels, with one goal in mind: paying for his daughter’s education.

Return to Rivertown

Peter Hessler
National Geographic
In 1996 a Peace Corps volunteer arrived in Fuling, a sleepy town on the Yangtze, to teach English. He went back recently to find the landscape—and his former students—transformed.

China Plans to Build the Biggest Branch Campus in the World, but Will It Succeed?

Jason Lane and Kevin Kinser
Chronicle of Higher Education
The Chinese government announced recently that it will allow Xiamen University to establish a branch campus in Malaysia. 

Snakes On a Lane

Global Times
Beneath the creepy exterior lies a misunderstood goddess. What pops up in your mind when it comes to the concept of snake? Cold-blooded, dangerous, sly, or even a symbol of evil? It seems that all words related to it are negative. And even though we...

Why China Struggles to Find Soft Power Voice

Ying Zhu
CNN
It’s been almost a year since the U.S. outpost of China Central Television (CCTV) launched under much scrutiny. So far, though, it hasn’t made much of a splash.

From Alberta to China, With Nine Kids in Tow

Licia Corbella
Calgary Herald
Cory and Michelle Coles, both 36, and nine of their 10 children are flying off to China for nine months with the hope of learning Mandarin and understanding more about the fascinating culture behind the emerging superpower.

One of China’s Early AIDS Heroes Hounded into Hiding Identity

Kaijing XIao
ABC
Tian Dawei was the first Chinese man to being a gay, HIV-positive man on state TV. He wanted to help people understand, but in China AIDS still carried a strong stigma. 

International Schools in China Point Students to the West

Lucy Hornby
Reuters
Some Chinese pay as much as 260,000 renminbi, or about $42,000, a year for a Western-style education and a possible ticket to a college overseas for their children.

Chongqing Lifts Exam Ban for Migrant Workers' Children

Xinhua
Global Times
The southwestern mega city is the latest city to ease the household restriction on migrants sitting the college entrance exam. 

Features

12.18.12

College Graduates Compete for Jobs Sweeping Streets

from Tablet
Tong Peng spent six months discovering his bachelor’s degree was “worthless” before deciding to apply for a job as a street sweeper.He graduated from college in Harbin in June, 2012, not expecting to find it so tough to find work with a college...

The Struggle of 15-Year-Old Hukou Protester Zhan Haite

C. Custer
ChinaGeeks
A 15-year-old girl has made waves in the Chinese press recently for her fight against Shanghai authorities after she was banned from taking the college entrance examination because she does not hold a Shanghaihukou(household registration). She and...

Decline of Primary Schools in Rural China: Causes and Consequences

Wenjin Long
China Policy Institute Blog
“Half of rural primary schools have disappeared between 2000 and 2010 and such a trend is still an ongoing process”, says Twenty-first Century Education Research Institution, a NGO based in Beijing. The rapid decline of primary schools in rural...

The Price of Blood: China Faces HIV/AIDS Epidemic

Madison Park
CNN
Near World AIDS Day, China's Vice Premier Li Keqiang said HIV/AIDS is "not only a medical issue but also a social challenge." ...

Media

12.01.12

Chinese AIDS Activist Endures “Degradation” in New York, Determined to Finish What She Started

Chinese people translate “New Yorker” into “New York Ke” to designate people living in New York City, including Chinese immigrants. But in Chinese, “ke” means “visitor” or “guest.” It has been a sad word in Chinese literature and poems for thousands...

Out of School

11.30.12

Heirs of Fairness?

Taisu Zhang
An unusual debate on what may seem an arcane topic—China’s imperial civil service examinations—recently took place on the op-ed page of the The New York Times. The argument centered on the question of whether or not China during the past 1000 years...

Ten Ways to Investigate Transition in China

Tom Marshall
New York Times
How can students learn what kind of place China is today? The Learning Network and The New York Times gathered 10 different ways of looking at the country.

Culture

11.27.12

Remember to Tell the Truth

Maya E. Rudolph
The recording of memory brings history to life and creates a legacy of its own. In 2010, documentary filmmaker Wu Wenguang launched the Memory Project to try to shine a light on the long-shrouded memories of one of modern China’s most traumatic...

The Headache of Mo Yan, China’s Nobel Prize Winner in Literature

Zhang Jie
Washington Post
Mo Yan had a tuxedo made for the December 10 prize gala in Stockholm and is studying the waltz, in case he's invited to dance...

China Considers Limiting Foreign Education Agents

Lara Farrar
New York Times
The Education Ministry is considerting restricting the international education agencies that help Chinese students study overseas.

One-Child Policy Up for Reform in China?

Alexa Olesen
Associated Press
The unpopular policy should be phased out, says a Chinese government think tank.

My First Trip

10.24.12

Struggling with Antonioni

Isabel Hilton
My first sight of Beijing was puzzling. It was October 1973, at the end of a very long flight, and the city seemed so dark I could hardly believe we had arrived. In those days, flights to China were not allowed to cross Soviet airspace—the two...

Li Lei and Han Meimei, The love affair of a whole generation

Alia
Offbeat China
Two characters in China’s English textbook used 20 years ago are back, sparking a wave of nostalgia.

Oxford Stars Building New China Center

JOYCE LAU
New York Times
Oxford University breaks ground on Dickson Poon China Center, with £10 million from Hong Kong philanthropist.

Profiles of Key Contemporary Chinese Intellectuals

The China Story
China Story
He Weifang 贺卫方 is a Chinese law professor affiliated with Peking University (PKU). Before being given tenure at PKU in 1992, he was the editor at Comparative Law 比较法研究 and Peking University Law Journal 中外法学, both published by the...

Amid Protest, Hong Kong Retreats on 'National Education' Plan

Keith Bradsher
New York Times
Faced with tens of thousands of protesters contending that a Beijing-backed plan for “moral and national education” amounted to brainwashing and political indoctrination, Hong Kong’s chief executive backpedaled somewhat on Saturday and revoked a...

Questioning Kristof on Chinese Education

Alex Lew
New York Times
Nicholas Kristof last wrote about Chinese schools shortly after the release of some stunning news: on a comprehensive exam testing students in 65 countries, China had come in first – thirty spots ahead of the U.S. in math. Kristof...

Chinese Parents Defrauded by “Perfect” Education

Tania Branigan
Guardian
For ambitious Chinese parents, the opportunity was too good to miss – even with its 100,000 yuan (£9,950) price tag. Their children would learn to read books in just 20 seconds and identify poker cards by touch. The most talented would instantly see...

Parents Reject China’s Classrooms for Home Schooling

AFP
Agence France-Presse
Giving up his successful career as the head of a medical research firm to spend his days at home reading from children's story books was a tough choice for Chinese father Zhang Qiaofeng. But Zhang, one of a small but growing number of Chinese...

Iron Rice Bowl Redux? Official Jobs No. 1, Says Survey

Lillian Lin
WSJ: China Real Time Report
Government jobs are now the top choice for many of China’s job seekers, according to a survey released this week, in a finding that illustrates an undercurrent of unease in the world’s No. 2 economy.

Advising Chinese Leaders: Futile Efforts?

Yiyi Lu
WSJ: China Real Time Report
At a recent conference of Chinese political scientists and international relations scholars in Beijing, a western academic remarked that he was struck by how Chinese scholars often seemed keen to use their research to come up with advice for the...

Hong Kong Protests Patriotism Classes

Melissa M. Chan
China Digital Times
Amid fears that the mainland is increasing their involvement in Hong Kong politics, the San Francisco Chronicle reports parents, students, and teachers took to the streets in Hong Kong to protest China’s planned curriculum change.

Educational Detente Across Taiwan Strait

NAOMI ROVNICK
New York Times
The government of Taiwan, the self-ruling island over which Beijing claims sovereignty, has been inching toward more amicable relations with the mainland in recent years. The full opening of the island’s universities to students from across the...

Chinese Students Living in Fear in the USA

Laura Desinsa Jackson
Danwei
While there are certainly plenty of Chinese students overseas who are spoiled brats, often called ‘second generation rich’ and ‘second generation officials’ (fu erdai and guan erdai) who live off the fruits of their parents’ corruption or enterprise...

A Liberal Arts Education, Made in China

Eric Abrahamsen
New York Times
No one, it seems, is pleased with China’s educational system. Chinese nationalists fret that students are graduating without the critical and creative skills necessary to compete globally. Foreign observers worry that heavy political indoctrination...

China's New Dictionary: Agricultural Cooperative Is Out, Hair Gel Is In

Johnny Erling
Time
When saying goodbye, people in China often say "Bye Bye." But until this July there was no Chinese way of writing that. There is now: Beijing's guardians of the language have deemed "Bai Bai" the correct written form, and it...

Detention for New Oriental

Tom Orlik
Wall Street Journal
The education of U.S. investors on the risks of overseas-listed Chinese stocks continues. Shares in New Oriental Education & Technology Group, one of China's largest private education providers, plunged 57% in the last two days, wiping...

Out of School

07.15.12

France’s Baccalauréat Sparks Debate on Chinese Education

Bi Cheng
What does one gain by working?Are all beliefs contrary to reason?Comment on an excerpt of Spinoza’s Theologico-Political Treatise Do we have a duty to seek the truth?Would we be freer without the state?Explicate an excerpt of Émile by Jean-...

The Uncertain Future of Beijing's Migrant Schools

Josh Rudolph
China Digital Times
As the gap between China’s urban and rural economies continues to expand, the largest rural-urban migration in world history persists. When those from the countryside arrive in the city, the current hukou system blocks their access to the social...

Teaching Tiananmen

Jeremy Brown and Benedicte Melanie Olsen
Perspectives on History
With more than two decades of hindsight, it has become clear that 1989 marked a key turning point in world history. It is now possible to analyze the momentous events of 1989 in a historical fashion, and also to teach history classes about them. In...

Burden of China's College Entrance Exams

Edward Wong
New York Times
Millions of high school graduates across China have been furiously dialing telephone hot lines or gathering with family members around the home computer in recent days in a nail-biter of a ritual not unlike that of waiting for a winning lottery...