‘Pressure for Change is at the Grassroots

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
The Chinese legal activist Chen Guangcheng arrived in the United States last month following top-level negotiations between U.S. and Chinese officials. Several weeks earlier, Chen had dramatically escaped from house arrest in his village in...

Reports

06.26.12

Isolated in Yunnan

Human Rights Watch
Since June 2011, an estimated 75,000 ethnic Kachin have hostilities between the Burmese army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in northern Burma. Thousands of them have sought refuge in southwestern China’s Yunnan province, where the Chinese...

Out of School

06.25.12

Review: “The Revolutionary”

Jeffrey Wasserstrom
The Revolutionary, a new documentary that has begun showing on university campuses and at cultural centers, looks at the life of Sidney Rittenberg, a ninety-year-old man who has had an extraordinary variety of experiences. Born into a well-to-do...

Snapshots from a Rising China

Jane Weizhen Pan, Martin Merz, Ling Wang
Sina Blog
Mention China and people think of the Great Wall, tofu, kung fu, and of course, Confucius. They might also think of the skyscrapers in Beijing and Shanghai, and the unforgettable 2008 Olympics which heralded China’s rise as a great nation. People...

Reports

06.25.12

U.S.-China Public Perceptions Opinion Survey 2012

Emily Brill
Committee of 100
The re-establishment of U.S.-China relations in 1971 marked a strategic step that ended China’s isolation and transformed the global balance of power. Since that historic milestone, the United States as an established superpower and China as an...

North Korea Tests China's Patience

Jane Perlez
New York Times
As Kim Jong-un, the young leader of North Korea, consolidates his grip on power, China is showing signs of increasing frustration at the bellicose behavior of its longtime ally.

Media

06.23.12

Self-Censorship at the South China Morning Post?

Amy Qin
According to an article published on June 19 in the Asia Sentinel, an internal squabble at the Hong Kong-based English language newspaper the South China Morning Post has led some to raise questions regarding the journalistic ethics of the long-...

Sinica Podcast

06.22.12

The One-Child Policy

Kaiser Kuo, Alexa Olesen & more from Sinica Podcast
While the African community in Guangzhou has taken to the streets to protest the suspicious death of a foreign national in police custody, the Chinese Internet has proven equally volatile as gruesome photos of a late-stage abortion have circulated...

Xu Zhiyong (许志永): An Account of My Recent Disappearance

Xu Zhiyong
Seeing Red in China
Dr. Xu Zhiyong is a lecturer of law at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, and one of the founders of Open Constitution Initiative (公盟) that offers legal assistance to petitioners and rights defenders, and has been repeatedly...

China: Politics as Warfare

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
Mao’s Invisible Hand is one of those books that make one feel good about scholarship. It describes inner workings of Chinese Communist society about which few nonexperts know anything—it may even surprise the experts—and it will interest anyone...

Why the Dalai Lama is Hopeful

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
“I told President Obama the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party are missing a part of the brain, the part that contains common sense,” the Dalai Lama said to me during our conversation in London Wednesday.But it can be put back in. I am hopeful...

Why Chinese Soccer Matters

Evan Osnos
New Yorker
Imagine if David Stern, after his retirement as commissioner of the N.B.A., was led off in leg irons for taking bribes. His predecessor goes with him on a ten-year hitch behind bars. And, for good measure, throw in a couple of members of the...

Associate of Bo Xilai's Wife Arrested

Jeremy Page
Wall Street Journal
Police in Cambodia said they have arrested a French architect who was close to the wife of Bo Xilai, the ousted Chinese Communist Party leader, in the latest twist in a case that has triggered the worst political crisis in China in more than two...

Journalistic Ethics Questioned at SCMP

Asia Sentinel
Asia Sentinel
So why was Li Wangyang’s suicide not news – at first?A decision by the South China Morning Post’s new editor in chief, Wang Xiangwei, to reduce a major breaking story on the suspicious death of Tiananmen dissident Li Wangyang in a Hunan hospital to...

Chinese Ambassador Dismisses Fears over Confucius Institutes

Tania Branigan
Guardian
China's ambassador to Britain has accused critics of its overseas language and culture training centres of "cold war thinking", after an LSE professor questioned whether universities should host the Confucius Institutes...

How Chinese Writers Elude Censors

Louisa Lim and Jeffrey Wasserstrom
New York Times
Two months ago at the London Book Fair, where China was this year’s “guest of honor,” Ma Jian, the exiled author of the Tiananmen-era novel “Beijing Coma,” inked a red X across his face in an emotional protest against Chinese censorship. It may be a...

Abortion and Politics in China

Evan Osnos
New Yorker
China convulsed this week around the story of Feng Jianmei, a twenty-three-year-old expectant mother, who was escorted from a relative’s home in Shaanxi province by local family-planning officials, shoved into a van, and driven to a hospital. She...

Ian Johnson Interviews Bao Tong

Ian Johnson
New York Review of Books
I recently met Bao, who is 79 and partly blind, at a McDonald’s in Beijing, after secret police refused me permission to enter his apartment building in the city’s western suburbs.

‘In the Current System, I’d Be Corrupt Too’

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Bao Tong is one of China’s best-known political dissidents. In the early to mid 1980s, he was director of the Communist Party’s Office of Political Reform and the policy secretary for Zhao Ziyang, the party’s former general secretary. Just before...

The Unwritten Rules in Chinese Technology

Evan Osnos
New Yorker
What do we mean when we say a Chinese company has “close ties to the government”? Or is “connected to the military”? And does this matter? It is a problem that writers on China have encountered for years, and it can be difficult get firm evidence...

Viewpoint

06.11.12

Dirty Air and Succession Jitters Clouding Beijing’s Judgment

Stephen Oliver & Susan Shirk
Last week the Chinese government accused the U.S. Embassy and consulates of illegally interfering in China’s domestic affairs by publishing online hourly air-quality information collected from their own monitoring equipment. (While the critiques...

Media

06.11.12

A Great Massacre, a Great Earthquake, and a Great Famine

Hu Yong
The head of the Gansu branch of People’s Daily, Lin Zhibo, provoked the ire of many netizens for remarks he made regarding the Great Famine on his Weibo account. Lin claimed that in many of the villages in Anhui and Henan (the two provinces that...

You've Got State-Sponsored Mail

Evan Osnos
New Yorker
Living in Beijing, writing about politically sensitive things now and then, you get used to the idea that somebody, somewhere, might be watching. But it is usually an abstract threat. I opened my Gmail account a couple of mornings ago and found this...

Media

06.11.12

Did A CCTV Anchor’s Outburst Even Matter?

Hu Yong
Yang Rui, a host on China Central Television's (CCTV) English-language channel, called on the Public Security Bureau via Sina Weibo on May 16 to “clean out foreign trash, wipe out foreign snake heads (human smugglers), root out foreign spies,...

Harvard Report on Government Criticism on Chinese Social Media

David Wertime
Contrary to previous understandings, posts with negative, even vitriolic, criticism of the state, its leaders, and its policies are not more likely to be censored. Instead, we show that the censorship program is aimed at curtailing collective action...

The World's Toughest Job: Pu Zhiqiang

William J. Dobson
Slate
It wasn’t safe for Pu Zhiqiang to go home. Or, to be more precise, he could go home, but once there he might not be able to leave again. Over the previous 48 hours, Chinese authorities had detained more than a dozen lawyers and activists. More than...

New Account of Bo Xilai Meeting

Edward Wong
New York Times
In the chill of late January, around the time Chinese were celebrating the Lunar New Year, the police chief of this foggy southwestern metropolis pressed Bo Xilai, the ambitious Communist Party official who ruled the area, with evidence that Mr. Bo’...

Media

06.07.12

An Absent Presence

Sun Yunfan
In Chan Koonchung’s dystopian science fiction novel The Fat Years, set in China in 2013, the whole month of Feburary 2011 has disappeared from people’s memory. In reality, the month that is closest to being spirited away is the month of June 1989...

A Chinese Murder Mystery?

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Roughly every decade, China’s political system cracks, its veil is rent, and its inner workings are laid bare. 2012, the Year of the Dragon, is turning out to be one of those periods when the country’s high priests can’t quite carry out their...

Media

06.06.12

In the News: Fact vs. Rumor

Amy Qin
China-focused news editors have had numerous causes for celebration in the past few months. The various scandals surrounding the dethronement of Bo Xilai, the dramatic nighttime escape of blind activist Chen Guancheng, and the upcoming Party...

What's Wrong with the Global Times Take on Corruption

Yang Hengjun
China Media Project
The following piece is a response to a May 29, 2012, editorial in the Chinese-language Global Times called “Fighting Corruption is a Crucial Battle for Chinese Society”. The article created a sensation last week on China’s internet, where some...

The Light of the Law Never Shone on Them

Anne Henochowicz
China Digital Times
Soon after self-taught lawyer Chen Guangcheng escaped from illegal house arrest, local officials entered the house of his nephew, Chen Kegui, without any notice or warrent. Chen Kegui lashed out with a kitchen knife, then ran away. None of the...

What Happened on the Shanghai Stock Exchange?

Evan Osnos
New Yorker
China experienced a bizarre numerological happening this week. The Shanghai Composite Index started yesterday morning at 2346.98, which, when read from right to left, shares an uncanny similarity to yesterday’s highly sensitive anniversary: twenty-...

Fallows on Bad Air and Soft Power

James Fallows
Atlantic
This is another fascinating installment in the exercise of Chinese "soft power." For my Big Theory on the nature of Chinese soft power, see this essay and this book. For a few previous installments in the Soft-Power Watch, see this, this,...

Online Tiananmen Commemoration Snuffed Out

Josh Chin
WSJ: China Real Time Report
A snippet from a classical poem about the pain of bidding goodbye to loved ones has experienced an unexpected resurgence in China roughly 12 centuries after it was written. The poem’s author, Li Shangyin, has censors at China’s most talked-about...

Reporting in the Gaps of China's Internet

David Bandurski
China Media Project
One of the key strategies of China’s Party leadership in enforcing media controls — under the information policy mandate of “public opinion guidance“, or yulun daoxiang (舆论导向) — has been to restrict the source of news production. This is why the...

Google Confronts the Great Firewall

Rebecca Mackinnon
Foreign Policy
For centuries, the Yangtze River -- the longest in Asia -- has played an important role in China's history, culture, and economy. The Yangtze is as quintessentially Chinese as the Nile is Egyptian or the Rhine is German. Many businesses use its...

Global Times: Reform Alone Cannot Fight Corruption

David Bandurski
China Media Project
As we edge closer to the 18th Party Congress and its important leadership transition, one of the most crucial things to watch is how the debate over “political system reforms”, or zhengzhi tizhi gaige, shapes up in China’s press. A key related issue...

How People's Daily Reports on Graft in China

Seeing Red in China
A few days ago, it was announced that Liu Zhijun, former head of the Railway Ministry was stripped of his party title as a result of misconduct. In the Western press it was said that his graft involved hundreds of millions of RMB (over 800 million...

Media

05.31.12

Godwin’s Law with Chinese Characteristics

Hu Yong
This winter writer-blogger-race car-driver Han Han found himself facing charges of plagiarism from celebrated fraud-buster Fang Zhouzi. Both Han and Fang have huge followings among China’s microbloggers. And their personal disagreement soon...

Hong Kong US Consulate “Acts Cute” With People's Daily

Anne Henochowicz
China Digital Times
On May 25, the official Weibo account of the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong published its “Thoughts on Reading the U.S. Human Rights Report in the Style of the People’s Daily.” The humorous and sarcastic tone of the comments caused large scale re-...

Reverse Engineering Chinese Censorship

Andrew Phelps
Nieman Journalism Lab
Censoring the Chinese Internet must be exhausting work, like trying to stem the flow of a fire hose with your thumb. Sina Weibo, a popular Twitter-like service, says its 300 million registered users post more than 100 million weibos, or tweet-like...

Stability Trumps All Other Concerns in China

Yu Jie
Washington Post
Contrary to myths and assumptions, economic liberalization and development will not inevitably lead to corresponding political liberalization and development. Economic power has only reinforced an increasingly absurd state power in China.

Caixin Media

05.31.12

Heading Deep for the First Time

On May 9, China National Offshore Oil Corp.’s (CNOOC) first deepwater drilling platform began operating in the South China Sea. The world-class vessel is stationed in the Liwan 6-1-1 field, about 320 kilometers southeast of Hong Kong, in waters...

Viewpoint

05.30.12

The Sweet and the Sour in China-U.S. Relations

Winston Lord
At this very hour, one early May, just shy of a half century ago, I married a girl from Shanghai and we launched our joint adventure.Ever since, Bette Bao and I have practiced the precept of Adam Smith—division of labor. She manages our finances and...

China Confronts the Great Leap Forward

Helen Gao
Atlantic
When Bo Xilai, the now-sacked Chongqing party chief, blanketed the city with a Maoist-style campaign of nationalism and state control, the critics who worried about the dangers of reviving red culture in modern Chinese society included the Communist...

In Thrall of the Empire of the Sons

John Garnaut
Sydney Morning Herald
As the lure of the market grows ever greater, and the Communist Party refuses to fetter its enormous administrative powers or subject itself to any laws, ambitious officials and entrepreneurs have found it difficult to accumulate wealth and...

Ex-Beijing Mayor Plays Down Tiananmen Role

Chow Chun-yang
South China Morning Post
Former Beijing mayor Chen Xitong—blamed for years as one of the main culprits of the military crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square—has called it “a regrettable tragedy that could have been avoided” and aimed to play down...

Watching Dissidents Is a Booming Business in China

Charles Hutzler
ABC
Co-workers, neighbors, government office workers, unemployed young toughs and gang members are being used to monitor perceived troublemakers, according to rights groups and people under surveillance.

Weibo Microblog Introduces User Contracts

BBC
China's biggest microblogging service has introduced a code of conduct explicitly restricting the type of messages that can be posted. Weibo—which resembles Twitter—took the action after local authorities criticised "unfounded"...

Is China Finally Confronting Its Dark History?

Mark MacKinnon
Globe and Mail
You won’t find any state-sponsored memorials to the millions who died during Mao Zedong’s horribly failed Great Leap Forward (the estimates range between 17 million and somewhere upwards of 45 million). While the crimes of the Japanese during the...

Media

05.29.12

Patriots or Traitors?

Amy Qin
In Chinese, to be patriotic is to ai guo, literally “to love [one’s] country.” But what does it really mean to love your country? Does it mean unconditional support for your country’s government, warts and all? Or is there more room for nuance—can...

Watching Dissidents, a Booming Business

Charles Hutzler
Associated Press
Every workday at 7:20 a.m., colleagues pick up Yao Lifa from his second-floor apartment and drive him to the elementary school where he taught for years. This is no car pool. Yao is a prisoner, part of a China boom in outsourced police control. By...

Patriotism with Chinese Characteristics (Op-Ed)

Li Chengpeng
New York Times
Rapeseed plants in Sichuan Province flowered a month late in 2008. People did not think much of it. In those days, people still believed experts and the experts said the delayed flowering season was normal. They also said the thousands of frogs...

Confucius Institutes Not About Confucius

Sam Crane
Useless Tree
They are not about Confucius. Rather, the PRC government has chosen to use the name of Confucius as a trademark of sorts for a global soft power branding project. The Institutes, most of which in the US are hosted by colleges or universities, focus...

China Leadership Rules Bo Case Isolated, Limits Purge

Benjamin Kang Lim and Chris Buckley
Reuters
Chinese President Hu Jintao has demanded senior Communist Party officials stifle tensions over the ousting of ambitious politician Bo Xilai and show unity as they prepare for a change of leadership, sources briefed on recent meetings said.

Caixin Media

05.25.12

Policeman Burned for Dealing With the Devil

On March 17, the Chenzhou Public Security Bureau announced Huang Bailian had been removed as head of the police department’s drug squad.Huang offered a simple explanation for his sacking: “This is retaliation.”Three years earlier Huang, who is forty...

Rigid Thinking Beggars China's Soft Power

David Bandurski
China Media Project
In recent weeks, China has emitted glints of intensifying anti-Western xenophobia. Last week, following the announcement of a three-month crackdown on foreigners without valid visas, CCTV anchor Yang Rui (杨锐) encouraged police to “clean out the...

London: The Triumph of the Chinese Censors

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
When I arrived at the London Book Fair on Monday, April 16, I saw a huge sign outside showing a cute Chinese boy holding an open book with the words underneath him: “China: Market Focus.” The special guest of this year’s fair was the Chinese...

Lijia Zhang: The Specter of the Cultural Revolution

Lijia Zhang
New York Times
A couple of months ago, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao warned that if China fails to make political reforms, the country runs a risk of repeating the Cultural Revolution.