China, Eyeing Japan, Seeks WW2 Focus for Xi During Germany Visit

Ben Blanchard and Michael Martina
Reuters
Diplomatic sources said Germany did not want to get dragged into the dispute between China and Japan, and dislikes China constantly bringing up Germany's painful past...

James Cahill, Influential Authority on Chinese Art, Dies at 87

Graham Bowley
New York Times
James Cahill was one of the foremost authorities on Chinese art whose interpretations of Chinese painting for the West influenced generations of scholars.

After Winding Odyssey, Tibetan Texts Find Home

Sophie Beach
China Digital Times
An American scholar of Tibet has collected thousands of Tibetan language books and donated them to Chengdu’s Southwest University for Nationalities.

Features

02.14.14

It’s Hard to Say ‘I Love You’ in Chinese

Roseann Lake
“We didn’t say ‘I love you,’” said Dr. Kaiping Peng, Associate Professor of Psychology Emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley. I’d ventured over to his China office on the campus of Beijing’s mighty Tsinghua University to talk to him...

Media

02.14.14

A Kapital Idea

Matthew Niederhauser & David M. Barreda
Matthew Neiderhauser is a photographer and artist whose work is influenced by his studies in anthropology. He lived in Beijing for six years and recently returned to the United States. His pictorial book Sound Kapital, published in 2009, documented...

Conversation

02.13.14

Are Ethnic Tensions on the Rise in China?

Enze Han, James Palmer & more
On December 31, President Xi Jinping appeared on CCTV and extended his “New Year’s wishes to Chinese of all ethnic groups.” On January 15, Beijing officials detained Ilham Tohti, a leading Uighur economist and subsequently accused him of “separtist...

An Offer They Can’t Refuse

Isaac Stone Fish
Foreign Policy
Will China win its 65-year war with Taiwan—without firing a shot?

China Tells Spain to Prevent Tibet-Related Lawsuits

Reuters
Two Tibetan support groups and a monk with Spanish nationality brought a case in Spain against former Chinese president Jiang Zemin and ex-prime minister Li Peng in 2006 over allegations they committed genocide in Tibet.

Tangling with China

Editorial Board
New York Times
The international community should insist China abide the rule of law and heed the United Nations arbitration ruling where tensions around China’s claims in the South and East China Seas are concerned.

The Original Manchurian Candidate

G.E.
Economist
In 1868 Anson Burlingame became not only America’s first minister to China to reside in Beijing, but also China’s first ambassador to the world.

China’s Way to Happiness

Ian Johnson
New York Review of Books
The return of collective religious traditions is part of Chinese people's search for meaning and stability...

Commentary: Philippine Leader's Senseless Attack Against China Smells of Amateurish Politician

Ming Jinwei
Xinhua
A Xinhua writer fiercely responds to Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III’s comparison of China to Nazy Germany.

Philippine Leader Sounds Alarm on China

Keith Bradsher
New York Times
President Benigno S. Aquino III called for nations around the world to support the Philippines in resisting China’s claims to the seas near his country, drawing a comparison to the West’s failure to support Czechoslovakia against Hitler’s demands...

Conversation

02.05.14

What Should the U.S. Do about China’s Barring Foreign Reporters?

Nicholas Lemann, Michel Hockx & more
Last week, the White House said it was “very disappointed” in China for denying a visa to another journalist working for The New York Times in Beijing, forcing him to leave the country after eight years. What else should the U.S. government...

China to Ramp Up Military Spending

Michael Forsythe
New York Times
China will spend $148 billion on its military this year, up from $139.2 billion in 2013, according to IHS Jane’s, a defense industry consulting and analysis company.

In Pictures: Chinese New Year Around the World

BBC
A Chinese folk artist performs at the opening ceremony of the Spring Festival Temple Fair in Beijing, one of millions of people around the world celebrating ahead of Chinese, or Lunar, New Year.

Class Consciousness

Ian Johnson
New Yorker
China’s new bourgeoisie discovers alternative education

Abe Comparing China to Pre-World War One Germany Fuels Tensions

By Isabel Reynolds and Takashi Hirokawa
Businessweek
China said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was evading Japan’s “history of aggression” by comparing Sino-Japanese relations to those of the U.K. and Germany prior to World War I.

China, Japan Slug It Out in World’s Press

Matthew Pennington
Associated Press
Escalating disputes between Japan and China are spilling onto newspaper opinion pages around the globe as the rivals try to sway attitudes abroad and placate nationalist fervor at home.

Viewpoint

01.14.14

Xi, Mao, and China’s Search for a Usable Past

Paul Gewirtz
Since its founding, the United States has had understandable pride in its great achievements, but also has had to reckon with its complex moral history—beginning but hardly ending with the fact that our original Constitution accepted the evil of...

Though I am Gone

Hu Jie
Fast Company
(Vid) Wang Jingyao chronicles the murder of his wife, the first victim of the Cultural Revolution. 

Far Eastern Antipathies

Paul Scheffer
Foreign Affairs
Japan must reckon with England as an eventual addition to the enormous political strength of China and Russia.

Why Does China Coddle North Korea?

Jonathan D. Pollack
New York Times
A larger crisis on the Korean peninsula would require Chinese involvement.

C. T. Hsia, Who Brought Chinese Literature to the West, Dies at 92

William Yardley
New York Times
Hsia argued that Chinese writers suffered from an "obsession with China."...

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,...

The Curious, and Continuing, Appeal of Mark Twain in China

Amy Qin
New York Times
Mark Twain’s “Running for Governor” was taught alongside the writings by Mao Zedong and other prominent Chinese thinkers and literary figures in middle schools across China for more than 40 years.

With Downed Balloon, China and Japan Cooperate

Gerry Mullany
New York Times
A Chinese balloonist took off from the coastal province of Fujian, trying to land on an island claimed by both China and Japan. Unfortunately, the balloonist, a cook by profession, didn’t make his target.

Beijing Turns Cold Shoulder to Japan

Xinhua
Beijing has declared Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe “not welcome” by the Chinese people and said Chinese leaders won’t meet him.  

China of My Mind

Virginia Pye
New York Times
When I tell people that I have recently published a novel set in China, one of the first questions they ask is whether I’ve been there. My response seems to be a letdown.

Remarks by Yang Jiechi on Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine

Xinhua
Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine was in total disregard of international opposition, and blatantly paid homage to Class-A war criminals of World War II...

Other

12.26.13

2013 Year in Review

As the year draws to a close, we want to take a moment to look back at some of the stories ChinaFile published in 2013. We hope you’ll find something that interests you to read—or watch—over the holidays.It’s hard to remember a recent year that didn...

On Chairman Mao’s Birthday, a Conflicting Legacy for Xi Jinping

Jeremy Page
Wall Street Journal
Mr. Xi and the six other members of the Politburo Standing Committee–the top decision-making body—bowed three times at the mausoleum holding Mao’s body in a glass sarcophagus on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, state media said. Mr. Xi then addressed a...

Japanese Premier Visits Contentious War Shrine

Hiroko Tabuchi
New York Times
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan visited a contentious Tokyo war shrine early on Thursday, provoking swift condemnation fromChina and South Korea, both victims of Japan’s wartime aggression.

Other

12.23.13

[Transcript] One Year Later, China’s New Leaders

J. Stapleton Roy, Susan Shirk & more
Nearly a year to the day after seven new leaders ascended to their posts on the Standing Committee of China’s Politburo, the Asia Society held a public conversation with The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos; Dr. Susan Shirk of the University of California,...

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}

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...

Environment

12.05.13

Daoism, Confucianism, and the Environment

from chinadialogue
In September, an unusual environmental organization was launched in one of the most ancient and significant sites in China—the Songyang Academy, Dengfeng, Henan. Founded in the eleventh century AD, this was one of the four Confucian Academies of...

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...

Conversation

12.03.13

What Posture Should Joe Biden Adopt Toward A Newly Muscular China?

Susan Shirk
Susan Shirk:United States Vice President Joseph Biden is the American political figure who has spent the most time with Xi Jinping and has the deepest understanding of Xi as an individual. Before Xi’s selection as P.R.C. president and C.C.P. general...

Sinica Podcast

12.03.13

One Journalist’s Journey through China

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week, Kaiser and Jeremy are pleased to be joined by Isabel Hilton, a longstanding British journalist whose youthful interest in China got her blacklisted by the British security services and the British Broadcasting Corporation and redirected...

Conversation

11.27.13

Why’s the U.S. Flying Bombers Over the East China Sea?

Chen Weihua, James Fallows & more
Chen Weihua:The Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) is not a Chinese invention. The United States, Japan and some 20 other countries declared such zones in their airspace long time ago.China’s announcement of its first ADIZ in the East China Sea...

Conversation

11.24.13

What Should the Next U.S. Ambassador to China Tackle First?

Mary Kay Magistad & Robert Kapp
Mary Kay Magistad: Gary Locke succeeded in a way that few U.S. ambassadors to China have—in improving public perceptions of U.S. culture.  Locke’s down-to-earth approachability and lack of ostentation certainly helped. So did the...

Excerpts

11.22.13

Shen Wei’s ‘Chinese Sentiment’

Peter Hessler
When Shen Wei was growing up in Shanghai during the nineteen-eighties and nineties, his mother worked as a fashion designer who specialized in calendars. If a company wanted to publish one, they hired Shen Wei’s mother, and she designed clothes for...

Dreams of a Different China

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Last November, China’s newly installed leader, Xi Jinping, asked his fellow Chinese to help realize a “Chinese dream” of national rejuvenation. In the months since then, his talk has been seen as a marker in the new leadership’s thinking, especially...

Books

11.20.13

Empress Dowager Cixi

Jung Chang
Empress Dowager Cixi (1835–1908) is the most important woman in Chinese history. She ruled China for decades and brought a medieval empire into the modern age. At the age of sixteen, in a nationwide selection for royal consorts, Cixi was chosen as one of the emperor’s numerous concubines. When he died in 1861, their five-year-old son succeeded to the throne. Cixi at once launched a palace coup against the regents appointed by her husband and made herself the real ruler of China—behind the throne, literally, with a silk screen separating her from her officials who were all male. In this groundbreaking biography, Jung Chang vividly describes how Cixi fought against monumental obstacles to change China. Under her the ancient country attained virtually all the attributes of a modern state: industries, railways, electricity, the telegraph, and an army and navy with up-to-date weaponry. It was she who abolished gruesome punishments like “death by a thousand cuts” and put an end to foot-binding. She inaugurated women’s liberation and embarked on the path to introduce parliamentary elections to China. Chang comprehensively overturns the conventional view of Cixi as a diehard conservative and cruel despot.Based on newly available, mostly Chinese, historical documents such as court records, official and private correspondence, diaries and eyewitness accounts, this biography will revolutionize historical thinking about a crucial period in China’s—and the world’s—history. Packed with drama, fast paced and gripping, it is both a panoramic depiction of the birth of modern China and an intimate portrait of a woman: as the concubine to a monarch, as the absolute ruler of a third of the world’s population, and as a unique stateswoman. —Knopf{chop}

Culture

11.19.13

Why You Should Read Pearl Buck’s ‘New’ Novel

Sheila Melvin
When I first heard that The Eternal Wonder, a new novel by Pearl Buck, was scheduled for publication by Open Road Media on October 22 of this year, I assumed the announcement was either a mistake or a joke.Buck, of course, is the author of The Good...

Sinica Podcast

11.13.13

Daoism for the Action-Oriented

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
{vertical_photo_right}What Would Confucius Do? What for that matter would Laozi not do? This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy ask these and other questions of Sam Crane, Professor of Contemporary Chinese Politics at Williams College and author of...

Culture

11.11.13

All He Needs is a Miracle

Debra Bruno
Courtesy of the USF Ricci Institute for Chinese-Western Cultural History A portrait of Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci by You Wenhui; painted at the time of Ricci’s death in Beijing, 1610. It now hangs at the Jesuit residence in Rome. It is the...

Chinese Authorities Blocked Protest Voyage to Senkakus, Activist Says

Global Post
Authorities barred a planned protest to the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea last month involving activists from both the mainland and Taiwan, but the protesters are now eyeing another try next month, one of the activists said...

Wikipedia China Becomes Front Line for Views on Language and Culture

Grace Tsoi
New York Times
The Chinese-language version of Wikipedia has become more than an online encyclopedia: it is a battlefield for editors from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong in a region charged with political, ideological and cultural differences.&...

Viewpoint

11.07.13

Deciphering Xi Jinping’s Dream

Ouyang Bin & Roderick MacFarquhar
On November 9, the Chinese Communist Party will host its Third Plenary Session of the Eighteenth Central Committee. This conference will be a key to deciphering the ruling philosophy of the new Chinese leadership, who will run the country for the...

Books

11.06.13

The Birth of Chinese Feminism

Edited by Lydia H. Liu, Rebecca E. Karl, Dorothy Y. Ko
He-Yin Zhen (ca. 1884-ca.1920) was a theorist who figured centrally in the birth of Chinese feminism. Unlike her contemporaries, she was concerned less with China’s fate as a nation and more with the relationship among patriarchy, imperialism, capitalism, and gender subjugation as global historical problems. This volume, the first translation and study of He-Yin’s work in English, critically reconstructs early twentieth-century Chinese feminist thought in a transnational context by juxtaposing He-Yin Zhen’s writing against works by two better-known male interlocutors of her time.The editors begin with a detailed analysis of He-Yin Zhen’s life and thought. They then present annotated translations of six of her major essays, as well as two foundational tracts by her male contemporaries, Jin Tianhe (1874-1947) and Liang Qichao (1873–1929), to which He-Yin’s work responds and with which it engages. Jin, a poet and educator, and Liang, a philosopher and journalist, understood feminism as a paternalistic cause that liberals like themselves should defend. He-Yin presents an alternative conception that draws upon anarchism and other radical trends. Ahead of her time, He-Yin Zhen complicates conventional accounts of feminism and China’s history, offering original perspectives on sex, gender, labor, and power that remain relevant today.  —Columbia University Press{chop}

The Challenges of Conveying Absurd Reality: An Interview with Yu Hua

Megan Shank
Los Angeles Review of Books
Thus, Los Angeles Review of Books Asia Co-editor Megan Shank and Yu exchanged Chinese-language e-mails about history’s most over- and underrated Chinese writers, the evolution of an ancient language and why Yu will never read&...

Media

11.01.13

Apologies for a Horrific Past

On October 9, a farmer named Zhang Jinying appeared on the television show Please Forgive Me, a program usually dedicated to public apologies by unfaithful husbands and wayward sons. But the sixty-one-year-old Zhang’s apology had a depth and a...

Viewpoint

11.01.13

What the Heck is China’s ‘Third Plenum’ and Why Should You Care?

Barry Naughton
China’s economy is already two-thirds the size of the economy of the U.S., and it’s been growing five times as fast. But now, China’s economy is beginning to slow and is facing a raft of difficult problems.  If China’s leaders don’t address...

China Yangtze River Yields American World War II Bomber

BBC
A U.S. scholar says the plane, discovered by fishermen in the Yangtze River, was a B-25 bomber from the “Flying Tiger” squadrons, a special unit of World War II U.S. military pilots tasked with training Chinese pilots in air combat. 

A Muzzled Chinese Artwork, Absent but Speaking Volumes

Jane Perlez
New York Times
Exiled sculptor Wang Keping’s controversial piece “Silence” — a wooden head with a plug stuffing its gaping mouth — has not been allowed in China since it was shown in 1979 and 1980, but the artist is now showing newer art in Beijing.&...

China Venerates a Revolutionary, the Father of Its New Leader

Chris Buckley
New York Times
The Communist Party has devoted official meetings, books, a six-episode television documentary, a garish children’s performance and postage stamps to mark a century since the birth of Xi Zhongxun, a veteran revolutionary and Xi Jinping’s father...

Why Are Hundreds of Harvard Students Studying Ancient Philosophy?

Christine Gross-Loh
Atlantic
Professor Michael Puett uses Chinese philosophy as a way to give undergraduates concrete, counter-intuitive, and even revolutionary ideas, which teach them how to live a better life, putting ancient Chinese thought in the context of contemporary...

Sinica Podcast

10.11.13

Steven Schwankert and the HMS Poseidon

Kaiser Kuo & Jeremy Goldkorn from Sinica Podcast
When the HMS Poseidon struck a Chinese freighter in the Gulf of Bohai in 1931, the collision sparked a devastating accident that would see the British submarine plunge to the ocean floor in mere minutes, claiming the lives of nearly half the crew,...