Conversation

07.14.17

Liu Xiaobo, 1955-2017

Perry Link, Thomas Kellogg & more
When news this morning reached us that Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo had died, we invited all past contributors to the ChinaFile Conversation to reflect on his life and on his death. Liu died, still in state-custody, eight years into his 11-...

Liu Xiaobo: The Man Who Stayed

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
In 1898, some of China’s most brilliant minds allied themselves with the Emperor Guangxu, a young ruler who was trying to assert himself by forcing through reforms to open up China’s political, economic, and educational systems. But opponents...

China Dispatches Troops to Djibouti to Set up Its First Overseas Base

NPR
China dispatched troops to set up its first military base overseas on Tuesday. After a ceremony in the southern port city of Zhanjiang, military personnel embarked on a voyage to the East African country of Djibouti to establish an outpost “...

China’s Quest to End Its Century of Shame

New York Times
At an ocean research center on Hainan Island off China’s southern coast, officials routinely usher visitors into a darkened screening room to watch a lavishly produced People’s Liberation Army video about China’s ambitions to reassert itself as a...

Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo, Who Fought for Democracy in China, Dies in Police Custody

Wall Street Journal
Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, who embodied the hopes of China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy movement long after the protests were crushed, died in detention on Thursday after a battle with liver cancer, according to a government statement. He...

China Is Trading More with North Korea but Buying Much Less Coal

CNN
A Chinese government official said Thursday that China-North Korea trade was worth $2.6 billion in the first half of 2017, up about 10% over the same period last year.

Excerpts

07.13.17

Liu Xiaobo’s Three Refusals: No Enemies, No Hatred, No Lies

Orville Schell & John Delury
In the spring of 1989, Liu Xiaobo was a thirty-four-year-old professor of literature and philosophy at Beijing Normal University with a keen interest in political ideas, who when demonstrations broke out, quickly became a habitué of Tiananmen...

Viewpoint

07.13.17

The Chinese Think Liu Xiaobo Was Asking For It

James Palmer from Foreign Policy
Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and Chinese dissident writer, is dying of liver cancer. He’s been in prison since 2009, his “crime” being the publication of a charter calling for political reform. But he’s not a hero to his countrymen. Most...

The Passion of Liu Xiaobo

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
In the late 1960s Mao Zedong, China’s Great Helmsman, encouraged children and adolescents to confront their teachers and parents, root out “cow ghosts and snake spirits,” and otherwise “make revolution.” In practice, this meant closing China’s...

Taiwan Casts Nervous Eye as Mainland Chinese Aircraft Carrier Liaoning Sails Near

Lawrence Chung
South China Morning Post
Taiwan’s military is closely watching as a convoy accompanying mainland China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, sailed into the Taiwan Strait after leaving Hong Kong where it took part in the handover celebrations.

China Sends Troops to Djibouti, Establishes First Overseas Military Base

Brad Lendon and Steve George
CNN
China has dispatched troops to Djibouti in advance of formally establishing the country's first overseas military base...

Fugitive Chinese Tycoon ‘Snoops on Middle Eastern Royal Families’ in Leaked Phone Messages

Nectar Gan
South China Morning Post
Recordings of what appear to be phone voice messages left by fugitive Chinese tycoon Guo Wengui requesting information about powerful royal family members in the Middle East and other international public figures have emerged online.

Diplomats Fear Beijing Is Stalling on Allowing Liu Xiaobo out of China

Tom Phillips
Guardian
Diplomats in Beijing say time is running out for the ailing Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo to go overseas for treatment and fear China’s top leaders are deliberately stalling the process until it is no longer safe for medics to move him.

China Says ‘China Responsibility Theory’ on North Korea Has to Stop

Ben Blanchard
Reuters
China hit back on Tuesday in unusually strong terms at repeated calls from the United States to put more pressure on North Korea, urging a halt to what it called the “China responsibility theory,” and saying all parties needed to pull their weight.

India, China Can Handle Border Differences, Senior Indian Official Says

Reuters
India and China can manage the differences that are likely to arise from time to time over their contested border, India’s Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said on Tuesday, commenting on recent tension sparked by Chinese road-building.

US, India and Japan Begin Naval Exercises, as China Looks On

Steve George and Huizhong Wu
CNN
A rising Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean has prompted the largest naval exercise the region has seen in more than two decades. The United States, Japan and India have deployed front-line warships, submarines, and aircraft as part of the tri-...

Liu Xiaobo: German Anger at China over Hospital Videos

BBC
Germany has issued a sharp rebuke to China after videos of Western doctors visiting ailing Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in hospital were posted online.

Modi’s India Beats Xi’s China

Panos Mourdoukoutas
Forbes
India has been on the radar of different international agencies in recent days and has been getting high marks for its reforms and growth prospects—beating China.

China Envoy Says North Korea Trade Growth Picture ‘Distorted’

CNBC
China’s ambassador to the United States has said reports of trade growth between his country and North Korea, in spite of international efforts to press Pyongyang to give up its nuclear and missile programs, give “a distorted picture.”

Books

07.10.17

Destined for War

Graham Allison
China and the United States are headed toward a war neither wants. The reason is Thucydides’s Trap, a deadly pattern of structural stress that results when a rising power challenges a ruling one. This phenomenon is as old as history itself. About the Peloponnesian War that devastated ancient Greece, the historian Thucydides explained: “It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.” Over the past 500 years, these conditions have occurred 16 times. War broke out in 12 of them. Today, as an unstoppable China approaches an immovable America and both Xi Jinping and Donald Trump promise to make their countries “great again,” the 17th case looks grim. Unless China is willing to scale back its ambitions or Washington can accept becoming number two in the Pacific, a trade conflict, cyberattack, or accident at sea could soon escalate into all-out war.In Destined for War, the eminent Harvard scholar Graham Allison explains why Thucydides’s Trap is the best lens for understanding U.S.-China relations in the 21st century. Through uncanny historical parallels and war scenarios, he shows how close we are to the unthinkable. Yet, stressing that war is not inevitable, Allison also reveals how clashing powers have kept the peace in the past—and what painful steps the United States and China must take to avoid disaster today. —Houghton Mifflin Harcourt{chop}

Haley Says China May Face Trade Sanctions If It Continues To “Hold Hands” with N. Korea

Kathryn Watson
CBS News
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the U.S. is going to “push hard” against China amid threats from North Korea, and that China needs to do more when it comes to the country that just days ago test-launched an intercontinental...

China Attacks Tycoon Guo for Client Leaks at HNA Group: Xinhua

Reuters
Exiled Chinese tycoon Guo Wengui is suspected of obtaining confidential client data of aviation-to-financial services conglomerate HNA from air traffic control and airline staff, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing Chinese police.

Take a Tour of China’s First Aircraft Carrier, a Secondhand Soviet-Era Ship Now in Hong Kong

Zheping Huang
Quartz
China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was open to the public for the first time this past weekend. The event took place in Hong Kong as part of the 20th anniversary marking the city’s handover to Chinese rule.

Viewpoint

07.09.17

Why Won’t China Help With North Korea? Remember 1956

Sergey Radchenko
President Donald J. Trump’s short-lived honeymoon with Chinese Communist Party Secretary Xi Jinping is over. On June 29, the U.S. imposed sanctions on a Chinese bank, a Chinese shipping company, and two Chinese nationals, all accused of helping...

War Games Could Inflame What They Aim to Prevent: Conflict with China

Stuart Rollo
Guardian
Australia is sleepwalking along a path of military expansion and confrontation in line with U.S. security priorities, instead of setting our own security policies

How China Misread Donald Trump

Paul Gewirtz
Politico
Trump’s view of China is quickly turning sour. The reason for his dwindling patience is Beijing’s failure to rein in North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s nuclear program.

At the Movies in China, Some Propaganda With Your Popcorn

Amy Qin
New York Times
Chinese cinemas have been ordered to play one of four government-issued videos before every movie screening.

Liu Xiaobo Vigil: Doctors Tell Chinese Nobel Laureate’s Family to Prepare for His Death

Mimi Lau
South China Morning Post
Family and friends of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo are keeping vigil after doctors warned that the dissident’s condition had worsened.

Germany’s Football Diplomacy Delights Beaming Xi Jinping as Chinese President and Angela Merkel Watch Kids’ Match in Berlin

James Porteous
South China Morning Post
China’s president remains a massive football fan, but it seems clear that youth development and commitment to training, rather than sky-high transfer fees and foreign takeovers, is the way to his heart.

Books

07.06.17

China’s Asian Dream

Tom Miller
“China,” Napoleon once remarked, “is a sleeping lion. Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will shake the world.” In 2014, President Xi Jinping triumphantly declared that the lion had awoken. Under his leadership, China is pursuing a dream to restore its historical position as the dominant power in Asia.From the Mekong River Basin to the Central Asian steppe, China is flexing its economic muscles for strategic ends. By setting up new regional financial institutions, Beijing is challenging the post-World War II order established under the watchful eye of Washington. And by funding and building roads, railways, ports, and power lines—a New Silk Road across Eurasia and through the South China Sea and Indian Ocean—China aims to draw its neighbors ever tighter into its embrace.Combining a geopolitical overview with on-the-ground reportage from a dozen countries, China’s Asian Dream offers a fresh perspective on one of the most important questions of our time: what does China’s rise mean for the future of Asia. —Zed Books{chop}

Ahead of Fractious G20, Germany and China Pledge New Cooperation

Thomas Escritt and Michelle Martin
Reuters
Ties between China and Germany are about to enter a new phase as the Chinese president met the German chancellor before a G20 summit that is expected to highlight their differences with the United States on a host of issues.

US, China Divided over How to Deal with New North Korean ICBM Threat

Ben Wescott and Stella Kim
CNN
A paradigm-changing North Korean missile test has left the United States and China split over how to deal with the aggressive rogue state.

China Says It Has Invited Foreign Physicians to Treat Imprisoned Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo

Time
The judicial bureau for the northeastern city of Shenyang said Wednesday in an online statement that Liu’s family members made a request for foreign experts and Liu’s medical team agreed. Liu, China’s best-known political prisoner, is being treated...

Chinese Media Says India Needs to Be Taught a 'Bitter Lesson' over Its Border Dispute

Joseph Hincks
Time
An editorial that ran in China's Global Times Tuesday has ramped up the rhetoric in an ongoing military dispute along a portion of the Sino-Indian border...

Conversation

06.30.17

What Does Xi Jinping Intend for Hong Kong?

Alvin Y.H. Cheung, Kevin Carrico & more
Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping visited Hong Kong on Thursday to mark the 20th anniversary of the July 1, 1997 return of the territory to China from the United Kingdom. Since the handover, many Hong Kongers have chafed under...

Chinese Ways of Empire, Then and Now

Yi-Zheng Lian
New York Times
In 30 more years, Hong Kong will fully revert to the mainland. Much could happen between now and 2047, and the tea leaves are already out there waiting to be read: There are many old — even ancient — historical precedents showing how the Chinese...

China's Xi Sees 'Challenges' in Hong Kong as Beijing Dismisses Any UK Role

Greg Torode, Venus Wu
Reuters
Chinese President Xi Jinping, visiting Hong Kong for the 20th anniversary of its return to Chinese rule, said on Friday the city's "one country, two systems" formula faces "new challenges" as pro-democracy campaigners ramped...

Pakistan Pivots to China Amid Fresh Concerns over US Ties with India

Pamela Constable
Washington Post
The words from Pakistan’s top foreign policy adviser could not have been clearer. At a news conference welcoming China’s foreign minister to the Pakistani capital this week, Sartaj Aziz declared, “Pakistan’s relations with China are the cornerstone...

US-China Honeymoon Over: Washington Sanctions Chinese Bank and Sells Arms to Taiwan

Tom Phillips, Oliver Holmes
Guardian
Relations between the world’s two largest economies look to be entering a new phase of turbulence after the US punctured Chinese celebrations of the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return by unveiling sanctions against a Chinese bank linked to North...

Sinica Podcast

06.28.17

Top U.S. Diplomat David Rank on Why He Resigned to Protest Trump

Kaiser Kuo & David Rank from Sinica Podcast
David Rank became the leading diplomat for one of America’s most important embassies during the transition when Iowa governor Terry Branstad formally succeeded former Montana senator Max Baucus as U.S. Ambassador to China on May 24, 2017. He soon...

Indian Bunker in Sikkim Removed by China: Sources

PTI
China has removed an old bunker of the Indian Army located at the tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan in Sikkim after the Indian side refused to accede to its request.

Trump Is China’s Chump

Thomas L. Friedman
New York Times
Beijing is now quietly encouraging everyone in the neighborhood to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, China’s free-trade competitor to TPP.

Exclusive: China's CNPC Suspends Fuel Sales to North Korea as Risks Mount - Sources

Chen Aizhu
Reuters
China National Petroleum Corp has suspended sales of fuel to North Korea over concerns the state-owned oil company won't get paid, as pressure mounts on Pyongyang to rein in its nuclear and missile programmes...

Books

06.28.17

No Wall Too High

Erling Hoh
“It was impossible. All of China was a prison in those days.”Mao Zedong’s labor reform camps, known as the laogai, were notoriously brutal. Modeled on the Soviet Gulag, they subjected their inmates to backbreaking labor, malnutrition, and vindictive wardens. They were thought to be impossible to escape—but one man did.Xu Hongci was a bright young student at the Shanghai No. 1 Medical College, spending his days studying to be a professor and going to the movies with his girlfriend. He was also an idealistic and loyal member of the Communist Party and was generally liked and well respected. But when Mao delivered his famous February 1957 speech inviting “a hundred schools of thought [to] contend,” an earnest Xu Hongci responded by posting a criticism of the Party—a near-fatal misstep. He soon found himself a victim of the Anti-Rightist Campaign, condemned to spend the next 14 years in the laogai.Xu Hongci became one of the roughly 550,000 Chinese unjustly imprisoned after the spring of 1957, and despite the horrific conditions and terrible odds, he was determined to escape. He failed three times before finally succeeding, in 1972, in what was an amazing and arduous triumph.Originally published in Hong Kong, Xu Hongci’s remarkable memoir recounts his life from childhood through his final prison break. After discovering his story in a Hong Kong library, the journalist Erling Hoh tracked down the original manuscript and compiled this condensed translation, which includes background on this turbulent period, an epilogue that follows Xu Hongci up to his death, and Xu Hongci’s own drawings and maps. Both a historical narrative and an exhilarating prison-break thriller, No Wall Too High tells the unique story of a man who insisted on freedom—even under the most treacherous circumstances. —Farrar, Straus and Giroux{chop}

China Opposes Interference After Vatican Concern Over Bishop

CNA
Channel NewsAsia
China said on Tuesday it opposed outside interference in its internal affairs after the Vatican expressed concern about a Chinese bishop it said had been "removed"...

Tycoon’s Claims Reverberate in China Despite Censorship and Thin Evidence

Chris Buckley
New York Times
Since taking office, President Xi Jinping has cultivated an aura of austere probity and stern control. But now a garrulous billionaire living in a lavish apartment in Manhattan, taunting the authorities beyond the easy grasp of Chinese security...

China’s Premier, Li Keqiang, Praises Free Trade, in Contrast to Trump

Keith Bradsher
New York Times
Premier Li Keqiang of China reaffirmed on Tuesday his country’s desire to be seen as the world’s new leader in globalization and free trade, but he offered no specifics on how China might lower its own trade barriers, which are among the steepest of...

China and India Border Dispute Raises Fears of New Asian War

Reuters
Reuters
China has accused Indian border guards of crossing into its territory from the state of Sikkim on India's northeastern border with Tibet, the Chinese foreign and defence ministries have said, complicating an already difficult relationship...

Viewpoint

06.26.17

Why Are So Many Tibetans Moving to Chinese Cities?

Gerald Roche, Ben Hillman & more
China’s Tibetan areas have been troubled by unrest since 2008, when protests swept the plateau, followed by a series of self-immolations which continue to this day. The Chinese state, as part of its arsenal of responses, has intensified urbanization...

New U.S. Ambassador to China Says North Korea a Top Priority

Christian Shepherd
Reuters
The new U.S. ambassador to China has said that stopping the threat posed by North Korea will be a top priority, along with resolving the U.S.-China trade imbalance, according to a video message to the Chinese people released on Monday.

Hong Kong’s Youth Press Campaign despite China’s Rejection of Full Democracy

Reuters
When the British handed over Hong Kong to China in 1997, Beijing promised to allow universal suffrage as an “ultimate aim”, along with other freedoms, under a “one country, two systems” arrangement agreed with London.

Uganda: President Cancels $175 Million Mining Project

Yasiin Mugerwa
President Museveni has stopped a multi-billion copper mining project with a Chinese company at Kilembe Mines following information that a former minister pocketed a $1m bribe to influence the deal.

Liu Xiaobo, Jailed Chinese Nobel Laureate, Is Moved from Prison for Cancer Treatment

Austin Ramzy
New York Times
Liu Xiaobo, the jailed Chinese dissident who received the Nobel Peace Prize for his writings promoting democracy, has been moved from prison to be treated for late-stage cancer, two of his lawyers said on Monday.

China Has Agreed to Stop Cyberattacks on the Canadian Private Sector, Report Says

Time
China has signed an agreement to stop conducting state-sponsored cyberattacks against the Canadian private sector, the Globe and Mail reported on Sunday, citing an official communiqué.

China Charges Labor Activist for ‘Picking Quarrels’

Chun Han Wang
Wall Street Journal
A Chinese activist who for years has documented worker unrest faced charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” on Friday, in a trial seen as a bellwether of Beijing’s approach to containing labor tensions.

Unless China Changes Tack, India Won’t Be the Only Country Opposing One Belt, One Road

Harsh V Pant
Quartz
India said about OBOR that “no country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

China Invites Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner to Visit Beijing

Bloomberg
Details of the possible trip by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, both of whom have official jobs in the White House, were still under discussion, according to a U.S. official and a Chinese official who asked not to be identified. The visit may also...

Trump Says ‘We Have a Great Relationship with China’ after Critical Tweet

CNBC
The United States pressed China to exert more economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea to help rein in its nuclear and missile programs during a round of high-level talks in Washington on Wednesday.

China Is Trying to Pull Middle East Countries into Its Version of NATO

Washington Post
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) held annual summit last week in Kazakhstan, and the most significant outcome was the announcement that India and Pakistan became its first new members since being formed in 2001.