Conversation

08.07.19

Will Hong Kong Unravel?

Ho-fung Hung, Thomas Kellogg & more
Beijing’s top official in Hong Kong, Wang Zhimin, called the protests a “life and death war” and compared them to the “color revolutions.” Coming a week after Hong Kong police charged 44 people with rioting and days after strikes paralyzed parts of...

Viewpoint

08.02.19

‘Once Their Mental State Is Healthy, They Will Be Able to Live Happily in Society’

Timothy Grose
We should pause before impetuously tracing the practice of describing Islam as an illness, disease, or even cancer to “Western” politicians. While the United States-led “War on Terror” and subsequent global anxieties over Islam have undeniably...

Conversation

08.01.19

How Should the U.S. Government Treat Chinese Students in America?

Siqi Tu, Mary Gallagher & more
The State Department’s top education official Marie Royce gave a speech entitled “The United States Welcomes Chinese Students.” In it, she quoted recent remarks from Donald Trump, who said, “We want to have Chinese students come and use our great...

Excerpts

07.31.19

What Role Will Intellectuals Play in China’s Future?

Sebastian Veg
As we commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of China’s 1989 democracy movement, it is hard to imagine students and intellectuals playing a similar role today. In China’s highly marketized and politically controlled society, the space for...

China-India Relations One Year After the Wuhan Summit

Paul Haenle, Rudra Chaudhuri & more from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
In May 2018, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi met in Wuhan for an informal summit that many say helped reset the relationship following the Doklam crisis. In this podcast, Paul Haenle spoke with Rudra Chaudhuri, Director of...

Viewpoint

07.18.19

‘See, They Are So Happy with Our Generosity!’

Yaqiu Wang
On June 22, in Sihanoukville, a port city in southwest Cambodia, a Chinese-owned building under construction collapsed, killing at least 28 people, all Cambodians. The owner had undertaken the construction without the required permit, and defied...

Where is the Evidence of Debt Traps in Africa?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
To discuss accusations that China engages in so-called “debt trap diplomacy,” Eric and Cobus spoke with Deborah Brautigam, a Johns Hopkins University Professor and Director of the China-Africa Research Initiative in Washington, D.C. The “debt trap”...

Books

07.09.19

Kissinger on Kissinger

Winston Lord
St. Martin’s Press: As National Security Advisor to Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger transformed America’s approach to diplomacy with China, the USSR, Vietnam, and the Middle East, laying the foundations for geopolitics as we know them today.Nearly 50 years later, escalating tensions between the U.S., China, and Russia are threatening a swift return to the same diplomatic game of tug-of-war that Kissinger played so masterfully. Kissinger on Kissinger is a series of faithfully transcribed interviews conducted by the elder statesman’s longtime associate, Winston Lord, which captures Kissinger’s thoughts on the specific challenges that he faced during his tenure as the National Security Agency, his general advice on leadership and international relations, and stunning portraits of the larger-than-life world leaders of the era. The result is a frank and well-informed overview of U.S. foreign policy in the first half of the 1970s.{chop}

Conversation

07.08.19

The Other Tiananmen Papers

David Shambaugh, Evan Medeiros & more
In the wake of the lethal use of force by China’s military against demonstrators in Tiananmen Square and citizens of Beijing on June 4, 1989, the United States and other governments were confronted with a series of vexing moral and policy questions...

China’s ‘Black Week-end’

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
When Chinese law professor Xu Zhangrun began publishing articles last year criticizing the government’s turn toward a harsher variety of authoritarianism, it seemed inevitable that he would be swiftly silenced. But then, remarkably, dozens of...

Conversation

06.19.19

Hong Kong in Protest

David Schlesinger, Ho-fung Hung & more
On June 16, an estimated 2 million people took to the streets to protest the Hong Kong government’s handling of a proposed extradition bill. This followed two massive demonstrations against the bill earlier in the month, including one where police...

Viewpoint

06.19.19

What Does the Pause of Hong Kong’s Extradition Bill Mean?

Jerome A. Cohen
The Hong Kong people’s historic mass protests during the past 10 days have demonstrated their awareness that the now suspended extradition bill proposed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam represented a threat to Hong Kong’s promised “high degree of...

Media

06.11.19

ChinaFile Presents: Erasing History—Why Remember Tiananmen

Nicholas D. Kristof, Zha Jianying & more
On the evening of June 3, ChinaFile hosted a discussion on the Chinese government’s efforts to control, manipulate, and forestall remembrance of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 and the bloody crackdown that ended them. Participating in the...

Viewpoint

06.04.19

Is Hong Kong Forgetting to Remember June Fourth?

Violet Law
In sharp contrast to anywhere else in China, Hong Kong has stood as a steadfast stronghold of remembrance of the massacre, protected by the territory’s political system that guarantees freedoms of assembly and expression. Every June 4, the...

Conversation

06.03.19

How I Learned About Tiananmen

Anonymous, Tianyu M. Fang & more
In April, ChinaFile put out a call for young people who grew up in China to describe how they first learned about the Tiananmen Square protests and massacre, and how they felt about it. Here is a selection of the responses we received, including...

Media

06.03.19

Six Questions and Four Articles About Tiananmen Square

Isaac Stone Fish
Why can’t we banish history from our memories? The author Ling Zhijun titled his 2008 exploration of Mao Zedong’s disastrous people’s communes “History No Longer Lingers,” and it sometimes feels counterintuitive that we cannot forget past tragedies...

Conversation

05.31.19

What Exactly Is the Story with China’s Rare Earths?

Paul Haenle & Scott Kennedy from ChinaFile
Deng Xiaoping reportedly said that while the Middle East has oil, China has rare earths. On May 29, Communist Party newspaper the People’s Daily warned of the United States’ “uncomfortable” dependence on Chinese rare earths: “Will rare earths become...

Viewpoint

05.31.19

Taiwan and Hong Kong Have a Stake in Mainland China’s Political Development. They Should Act on It.

Andreas Fulda
A range of observers and experts predicted that mainland China’s rapid economic modernization since the early 1990s would lead to social and political liberalization. Needless to say, that has not come to pass. The mainland’s economic reforms have...

Conversation

05.30.19

What Are We Getting Wrong about the Trade War?

Victor Shih, Yu Zhou & more from ChinaFile
Since the collapse of trade talks in mid-May, voices from both sides have warned of the economic havoc their side can unleash while boasting of their economy’s resilience. Academics in China speak about weaponizing the country’s foreign exchange...

Postcard

05.30.19

Four Is Forbidden

Yangyang Cheng
Liusi. Six-four. The two-syllable word, spoken nonchalantly by our teacher, was a stone cast into the tranquil pond of a classroom. From each ripple rose a gasp, a murmur, or a perplexed face, with only one or two enunciating the question on many of...

Books

05.29.19

Shrines to Living Men in the Ming Political Cosmos

Sarah Schneewind
Harvard University Press: Shrines to Living Men in the Ming Political Cosmos places the institution of pre-mortem shrines at the intersection of politics and religion. When a local official left his post, grateful subjects housed an image of him in a temple, requiting his grace: that was the ideal model. By Ming times, the “living shrine” was legal, old, and justified by readings of the classics.Sarah Schneewind argues that the institution could invite and pressure officials to serve local interests; the policies that had earned a man commemoration were carved into stone beside the shrine. Since everyone recognized that elite men might honor living officials just to further their own careers, pre-mortem shrine rhetoric stressed the role of commoners, who embraced the opportunity by initiating many living shrines. This legitimate, institutionalized political voice for commoners expands a scholarly understanding of “public opinion” in late imperial China, aligning it with the efficacy of deities to create a nascent political conception Schneewind calls the “minor Mandate of Heaven.” Her exploration of pre-mortem shrine theory and practice illuminates Ming thought and politics, including the Donglin Party’s battle with eunuch dictator Wei Zhongxian and Gu Yanwu’s theories.{chop}

Viewpoint

05.28.19

Why We Remember June Fourth

Perry Link
Some people recently asked, “Why must you remember June Fourth? Thirty years have gone by. It is history. Get over it. Move on.” A simple question, but there are many answers. No single answer is adequate, and all of the answers together still leave...

Books

05.22.19

China’s New Red Guards

Jude Blanchette
Oxford University Press: Ever since Deng Xiaoping effectively de-radicalized China in the 1980s, there have been many debates about which path China would follow. Would it democratize? Would it embrace capitalism? Would the Communist Party’s rule be able to withstand the adoption and spread of the Internet? One debate that did not occur in any serious way, however, was whether Mao Zedong would make a political comeback.As Jude Blanchette details in China’s New Red Guards, contemporary China is undergoing a revival of an unapologetic embrace of extreme authoritarianism that draws direct inspiration from the Mao era. Under current Chinese leader Xi Jinping, state control over the economy is increasing, civil society is under sustained attack, and the Chinese Communist Party is expanding its reach in unprecedented new ways. As Xi declared in late 2017, “Government, military, society, and schools, north, south, east and west—the Party is the leader of all.”But this trend is reinforced by a bottom-up revolt against Western ideas of modernity, including political pluralism, the rule of law, and the free market economy. Centered around a cast of nationalist intellectuals and activists who have helped unleash a wave of populist enthusiasm for the Great Helmsman’s policies, China’s New Red Guards not only will reshape our understanding of the political forces driving contemporary China, it will also demonstrate how ideologies can survive and prosper despite pervasive rumors of their demise.{chop}

Why China’s ‘Debt Trap Diplomacy’ Critics Are Wrong

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
China’s critics, led largely by the United States, are determined to warn developing countries about the risks of borrowing too much money from Beijing. They contend China will use these loans to financially entrap economically vulnerable countries...

Confused About China’s Belt and Road Agenda? You’re Not Alone.

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Thirty-seven foreign heads of state came to Beijing this week to take part in the second Belt and Road summit hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Some leaders, like Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, came with expectations to sign huge...

Chinese and Africans are Having Totally Different Conversations About Their Relationship

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Chinese news coverage and African and international reports are often starkly different from one another, even when discussing the same issues. With Chinese and African news consumers reading vastly different perspectives, what can be done to narrow...

Features

05.15.19

ChinaFile Presents: Hong Kong’s Relationship with Beijing, An Update

ChinaFile hosted a conversation at the Asia Society on May 9, with veteran Hong Kong legislator and rule of law advocate Martin Lee, longtime journalist and media rights expert Mak Yin-ting, and democracy activist Nathan Law, moderated by ChinaFile...

Conversation

05.14.19

Islamophobia in China

Ian Johnson, Kelly Hammond & more
Roughly 20 million Muslims live in China today; many of them live in the northwest region of Xinjiang, where the government is incarcerating an estimated one million Uighur Muslims. In recent weeks, news reports have emerged of the razing of mosques...

Books

05.10.19

The Costs of Conversation

Oriana Skylar Mastro
Cornell University Press: After a war breaks out, what factors influence the warring parties’ decisions about whether to talk to their enemy, and when may their position on wartime diplomacy change? How do we get from only fighting to also talking?In The Costs of Conversation, Oriana Skylar Mastro argues that states are primarily concerned with the strategic costs of conversation, and these costs need to be low before combatants are willing to engage in direct talks with their enemy. Specifically, Mastro writes, leaders look to two factors when determining the probable strategic costs of demonstrating a willingness to talk: the likelihood the enemy will interpret openness to diplomacy as a sign of weakness, and how the enemy may change its strategy in response to such an interpretation. Only if a state thinks it has demonstrated adequate strength and resiliency to avoid the inference of weakness, and believes that its enemy has limited capacity to escalate or intensify the war, will it be open to talking with the enemy.Through four primary case studies—North Vietnamese diplomatic decisions during the Vietnam War, those of China in the Korean War and Sino-Indian War, and Indian diplomatic decision making in the latter conflict—The Costs of Conversation demonstrates that the costly conversations thesis best explains the timing and nature of countries’ approach to wartime talks, and therefore when peace talks begin. As a result, Mastro’s findings have significant theoretical and practical implications for war duration and termination, as well as for military strategy, diplomacy, and mediation.{chop}

Is the Belt and Road Initiative a Bold Economic Agenda or a Political Ploy?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
In an ongoing series that explores different interpretations of what exactly is the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Eric and Cobus are joined by Zhu Zheng, an international affairs columnist for Caixin and a research fellow at the China-Eastern...

Viewpoint

05.08.19

This Year, I Couldn’t Avoid May Fourth

Taisu Zhang
The one hundredth anniversary of the 1919 May Fourth Movement came and went last week much as one would have expected...For some, myself included, the anniversary evoked a set of more complicated emotions. For years, these complications have pushed...

Viewpoint

05.03.19

May Fourth’s Unfulfilled Promise

Klaus Mühlhahn
Spring 2019 is marked by a series of sensitive anniversaries for China: Beijing is visibly nervous that the 30th anniversary of the June 4 Tiananmen massacre could trigger protests. But it is also concerned about the 100th anniversary of the lesser...

Viewpoint

04.30.19

Trade: Parade of Broken Promises

Elizabeth Economy from Democracy: A Journal of Ideas
The trade war between the United States and China has not given either side much to cheer about. As of January, Washington has levied 10 percent tariffs on U.S.$250 billion in Chinese goods, and China has reciprocated with similar tariffs on U.S.$...

Conversation

04.30.19

If the U.S. and China Make a Trade Deal, Then What?

Michael Hirson, Graham Webster & more
The U.S.-China trade war has always been about more than just trade. Among other issues, it represents a move towards the decoupling of the two economies. Sometime within the next few weeks, Washington and Beijing may call a truce on the trade war...

Conversation

04.24.19

Is This the End of Belt and Road, or Just the Beginning?

Nadège Rolland, Adrian Zenz & more
On April 25-27, China’s government will host the leaders of dozens of countries to celebrate the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the signature foreign policy program of Xi Jinping. Since its founding in October 2013, the BRI now covers more than 150...

Viewpoint

04.23.19

Who Owns Huawei?

Christopher Balding & Donald Clarke
Who owns Huawei? American officials have long claimed the controversial telecommunications giant belongs to the Chinese state, while Huawei has long called itself a “private company wholly owned by its employees.” Huawei states that its founder, Ren...

Viewpoint

04.22.19

The Messy Truth About Social Credit

Shazeda Ahmed from Logic
Almost every day, I receive an email from Google Alerts about a new article on China’s “social credit system.” It is rare that I encounter an article that does not contain several factual errors and gross mischaracterizations. The social credit...

Viewpoint

04.19.19

‘I Have Revised My Idea of What a Uighur Heroine Should Be’

Zubayra Shamseden
The Chinese government would have you believe a good Uighur woman is one who knows how to apply false eyelashes and cook dumplings. She is neither too modest nor too forward. She is “good at singing and dancing.” Since leaving China, I have spent a...

In Reassessing China, Europe Sharpens Its Approach

Paul Haenle, Tomáš Valášek & more from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
In recent weeks, Beijing has both won victories and suffered defeats during important summits and dialogues with France and Italy, as well as the European Union. French President Emmanuel Macron invited German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European...

A Conservative American View on U.S.-China-Africa Relations

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Colonel Chris Wyatt, Director of African Studies at the U.S. Army War College, joins Eric and Cobus to discuss a conservative U.S. foreign policy outlook regarding Africa and his views on Chinese engagement on the continent.

Susan Thornton on a Crisis in U.S.-China Relations

Paul Haenle & Susan Thornton from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
Over three years into Trump’s presidency, U.S.-China trade and economic issues remain unresolved while security concerns are creeping into the bilateral agenda. Thornton contends that Washington and Beijing should quickly agree on an initial trade...

Conversation

04.08.19

How Should Europe Handle Relations with China?

Thorsten Benner, Ilaria Carrozza & more
When Xi Jinping visited Europe in late March, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker portrayed the future of EU-China relations in mixed terms: “We are strategic partners, and yes, rivals,” he said, “but competition among us is a good...

Conversation

04.04.19

Are Confucius Institutes Good for American Universities?

Kenneth Hammond, Lawrence C. Reardon & more
Confucius Institutes continue to incite controversy in America. Since 2006, China’s government has given more than $158 million to dozens of U.S. universities to host the institutes, which offer Chinese language classes and hold events. To critics,...

Conversation

03.28.19

What Does the Punishment of a Prominent Scholar Mean for Intellectual Freedom in China?

Donald Clarke, David Yeliang Xia & more
This week, Xu Zhangrun, a law professor at Beijing’s Tsinghua University who in recent months has penned a series of essays critical of policies of the Chinese Communist Party and of its leader, Xi Jinping, was banned from teaching, relieved of his...

Viewpoint

03.28.19

Finding a Voice

Lü Pin from Logic
When I started writing this article, Feminist Voices had been deleted for six months and ten days. Yes, I have been keeping track of the time: ten days, fifteen days, thirty days, sixty days, three months, six months. . . The first week after it...

Xi’s Visit to ‘Rival’ Europe

Paul Haenle & Philippe Le Corre from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
President Xi Jinping travels to Italy and France this month for his first overseas trip of 2019. His visit comes soon after the European Commission labeled China a “systemic rival” and “economic competitor.” Xi’s objective for both trips is to shore...

Viewpoint

03.15.19

Is This the Last Dalai Lama?

Jessica Batke
This month marks the 60th anniversary of the Dalai Lama’s flight from Tibet. His departure exposed the rift between the Tibetan faithful and the Chinese Communist Party (C.C.P.), one which has not closed in the six decades since—and which threatens...

Culture

03.12.19

‘I Can’t Sleep: Homage to a Uyghur Homeland’

Lisa Ross & Muyi Xiao
In the 2000s, New York-based artist Lisa Ross traveled to the city of Turpan in China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and photographed local people on the beds that they keep in their fields. The portraits in that series are currently on exhibit...

Viewpoint

03.08.19

Here’s How the Trade War Is Affecting Hollywood

Ying Zhu
In February 2017, the United States and China began renegotiating the five-year film pact that had limited the annual number of foreign film exports to China to 34 and the share of revenue payable to foreign-rights holders to 25 percent of gross box...

Conversation

03.01.19

The Future of China-U.S. Military Relations

Joel Wuthnow, Oriana Skylar Mastro & more
The U.S.-China military relationship has been relatively stable over the past few years. Both sides’ leaders recognize that effective relations between the two militaries help prevent crises and stabilize the broader bilateral relationship. Events...

Depth of Field

02.25.19

Living by the Rivers

Ye Ming, Yan Cong & more from Yuanjin Photo
If the stories in this edition of Depth of Field share a common thread—apart from their distinguished photographic storytelling—it’s their interest in the flux and churn of life in China in 2019, where nothing seems fixed and pressure of constant...

Viewpoint

02.22.19

‘We’re Very Sexy People’: How the U.S. Miscalculated Its Allure to China

Sergey Radchenko
The Sino-Vietnamese War is rarely remembered or discussed today. But 40 years ago, the war appeared to herald a tectonic shift in regional and global politics and helped forge a close, more trusting relationship between the leader of the free world...

‘It’s Hopeless But You Persist’: An Interview with Jiang Xue

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
The forty-five-year-old investigative journalist Jiang Xue is one of the most influential members of a group of journalists who came of age in the early 2000s, taking advantage of new—if temporary—freedoms created by the Internet to investigate...

Viewpoint

02.16.19

Roderick MacFarquhar: A Remembrance

Bao Pu
When Roderick MacFarquhar passed away on February 10, 2019, I was left with a deep regret: that our friendship had been too short.“He can be very intimidating. Don’t be put off by it; it’s just a mannerism,” Nancy Hearst, the librarian at Harvard’s...

Conversation

02.15.19

China is Upping Its Aid and Development Game. How Should the U.S. Respond?

Deborah Bräutigam, Mark Akpaninyie & more
During his September 2018 U.N. address, President Donald Trump threatened that the United States may decide to only give foreign aid to “those who respect us and, frankly, are our friends.” In August, the White House attempted to cut foreign aid...

Conversation

02.08.19

Where Is China’s Foreign Policy Headed?

Zha Daojiong, Jessica Chen Weiss & more
In testimony last week before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats asserted that “China’s actions reflect a long-term strategy to achieve global superiority.” With China’s global influence and...

Why China Doesn’t Need to Worry about Washington’s New Africa Policy

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
When U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton announced Washington’s new strategy for Africa last December, he mentioned China 14 times in his speech. So often, in fact, that a lot of observers commented that the new policy seemed to be more...

‘Reeducating’ Xinjiang’s Muslims

James A. Millward from New York Review of Books
In a courtroom in Zharkent, Kazakhstan, in July 2018, a former kindergarten principal named Sayragul Sauytbay calmly described what Chinese officials continue to deny: a vast new gulag of “de-extremification training centers” has been created for...