Reports

05.10.12

Understanding China’s Political System

Susan V. Lawrence, Michael F. Martin
Peony Lui
Congressional Research Service
China’s Communist Party dominates state and society in China, is committed to maintaining a permanent monopoly on power, and is intolerant of those who question its right to rule. Nonetheless, analysts consider China’s political system to be neither...

On Fang Lizhi (1936–2012)

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
Fang Lizhi, a distinguished professor of astrophysics, luminary in the struggle for human rights in contemporary China, and frequent contributor to The New York Review, died suddenly on the morning of April 6. At age seventy-six he had not yet...

Debacle in Beijing

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
The story of a blind Chinese lawyer’s flight to the US Embassy in Beijing is likely to ignite accusations and recriminations until the US presidential election in November. But what few will acknowledge is a harsher truth: that for all our desire to...

Beijing Dilemma: Is Chen Guangcheng the Next Fang Lizhi?

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
The Chinese lawyer Chen Guangcheng, blind since childhood, self-taught in the law, defender of women’s rights to resist forced abortion, thorn in the side of local despots in his home district of Linyi in Shandong province, veteran of a four-year...

Reports

04.30.12

China’s Assertive Behavior

Michael D. Swaine
He Jianan
China Leadership Monitor
This essay focuses in particular on the military’s role in leadership decision-making and lower-level implementation with regard to political-military crises with foreign powers. This is a difficult topic to tackle: very little detailed, reliable...

Reports

04.30.12

After the Taiwan Elections: Planning for the Future

Alan D. Romberg
He Jianan
China Leadership Monitor
President Ma Ying-jeou’s solid re-election victory on January 14 and the Kuomintang’s respectable showing in the Legislative Yuan (LY) contests not only eased anxiety in Beijing and Washington, but laid a foundation for yet further progress along...

Reports

04.30.12

The Only Honest Man?—General Liu Yuan Calls Out PLA Corruption

James Mulvenon and Leigh Ann Ragland
He Jianan
China Leadership Monitor
On 18 January 2012, General Logistics Department Deputy Director Liu Yuan reportedly gave a Chinese New Year speech in which he directly attacked military corruption in the ranks and promised a “do-or-die” fight against it. Within days, General...

Reports

04.30.12

Leadership Transition and the “Top-Level Design” of Economic Reform

Barry Naughton
He Jianan
China Leadership Monitor
As China’s 18th Party Congress looms, it is clear that we are now in the thick of transition. The impending transition creates uncertainty about China’s future, but it also opens up new possibilities. Already, the discussion of economic policies in...

Reports

04.30.12

Guangdong Leads Calls to Break up “Vested Interests” and Revive Reform

Joseph Fewsmith
He Jianan
China Leadership Monitor
In September 2011, a protest in a Guangdong village threatened to embarrass the province and its party secretary, Wang Yang, who is a candidate for membership on the powerful Politburo Standing Committee when the 18th Party Congress meets later in...

Reports

04.30.12

Prospects for Solidarity in the Xi Jinping Leadership

Alice L. Miller
He Jianan
China Leadership Monitor
It may be true, as is often observed, that if all the world’s economists were laid end to end, they would never reach a conclusion. It is all the more notable, therefore, that an increasing number of observers of China’s economy are skeptical that...

Reports

04.30.12

China’s Top Future Leaders to Watch

Cheng Li
He Jianan
China Leadership Monitor
The composition of the new Politburo that will take power in late 2012, including generational attributes and individual idiosyncratic characteristics, group dynamics, and the factional balance of power, will have profound implications for China’s...

Books

04.24.12

China: Fragile Superpower

Susan L. Shirk
Once a sleeping giant, China today is the world's fastest growing economy—the leading manufacturer of cell phones, laptop computers, and digital cameras—a dramatic turn-around that alarms many Westerners. But in China: Fragile Superpower, Susan L. Shirk opens up the black box of Chinese politics and finds that the real danger lies elsewhere—not in China's astonishing growth, but in the deep insecurity of its leaders. China's leaders face a troubling paradox: the more developed and prosperous the country becomes, the more insecure and threatened they feel.Shirk, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State responsible for China, knows many of today's Chinese rulers personally and has studied them for three decades. She offers invaluable insight into how they think—and what they fear. In this revealing book, readers see the world through the eyes of men like President Hu Jintao and former President Jiang Zemin. We discover a fragile communist regime desperate to survive in a society turned upside down by miraculous economic growth and a stunning new openness to the greater world. Indeed, ever since the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square and the fall of communism in the Soviet Union, Chinese leaders have been afraid of its own citizens, and this fear motivates many of their decisions when dealing with the U.S. and other nations. In particular, the fervent nationalism of the Chinese people, combined with their passionate resentment of Japan and attachment to Taiwan, have made relations with this country a minefield. —Oxford University Press

Reports

04.23.12

Stirring up the South China Sea (I)

International Crisis Group
The conflicting mandates and lack of coordination among Chinese government agencies, many of which strive to increase their power and budget, have stoked tensions in the South China Sea. Any future solution to the South China Sea disputes will...

Earthbound China

04.18.12

What Wukan Means

Ou Ning
It began, in the early stages, as a secret mobilization. Then came the protests, marches of ever-larger numbers, direct confrontation, occupations, blockades, anarchy, media exposure, a case of accidental death, the involvement of higher levels of...

Caixin Media

04.18.12

Unscathed by Scandals, Official Promoted

{vertical_photo_right}(Beijing)—Although sacked once for the coverup of the 2003 SARS epidemic and a second time for blocking media coverage of the 2008 Shanxi mudslides, Meng Xuenong’s career has always bounced back.According to the website of the...

Bringing Censors to the Book Fair

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
When I arrived at the London Book Fair on Monday, 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 Communist Party’s...

Sinica Podcast

03.23.12

L’affaire Daisey

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
If you smell anything burning, it’s likely your Internet cable melting from the heat of all these rumors. Which is why at Sinica we turn our unforgiving gaze this week at unsubstantiated press, foreign and domestic, focusing first on reports of...

China’s Falling Star

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
In China, the year is traditionally divided into periods based on the moon’s orbit around the earth and the sun’s path across the sky. This lunisolar calendar is laden with myths and celebrated by rituals that allowed Chinese to mark time and make...

Sinica Podcast

03.16.12

Midnight in Peking

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
In a China accustomed to glacial political change, Bo Xilai’s dramatic fall from power this week has stunned observers nationwide. Joining us to help make sense of things is Guardian correspondent Tania Branigan, who helps review what exactly...

Sinica Podcast

03.09.12

The Mirror of History: China Through the Looking Glass

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Sinica is coming out a bit earlier than usual this week: We were lucky enough to catch Jeffrey Wasserstrom on Monday during a well-timed visit to Beijing, and dragged him into the studio to get his views on the recent elections in Wukan, what is...

Books

03.08.12

Ballot Box China

Kerry Brown
Since 1988, China has undergone one of the largest, but least understood experiments in grassroots democracy. Across 600,000 villages in China, with almost a million elections, some three million officials have been elected. The Chinese government believes that this is a step towards "democracy with Chinese characteristics". But to many involved in them, the elections have been mired by corruption, vote-rigging and cronyism. This book looks at the history of these elections, how they arose, what they have achieved and where they might be going, exploring the specific experience of elections by those who have taken part in them — the villagers in some of the most deprived areas of China.  —Zed Books

Reports

03.07.12

Bringing China’s Criminal Procedure Law in Line With International Standards

Amnesty International
In August 2011, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress issued the Criminal Procedure Law Draft Revisions, which were then submitted for approval at the March 2012 meeting of the National People’s Congress. This Amnesty...

Learning How to Argue

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
One of China’s most outspoken public intellectuals, Ran Yunfei was detained last year after calls went out for China to emulate the “Jasmine Revolution” protests sweeping North Africa. He was held without trial for six months until last August...

Media

02.29.12

Three Trends in Public Opinion Online in China

Hu Yong
Looking back at China’s Internet in 2011, there were three broad trends that deserve greater attention. The first was a general shift from emotionally-driven nationalist chatter as the defining tone of China’s Internet to more basic attention to...

Books

02.27.12

Public Passions

Eugenia Lean
In 1935, a Chinese woman by the name of Shi Jianqiao murdered the notorious warlord Sun Chuanfang as he prayed in a Buddhist temple. This riveting work of history examines this well-publicized crime and the highly sensationalized trial of the killer. In a fascinating investigation of the media, political, and judicial records surrounding this cause célèbre, Eugenia Lean shows how Shi Jianqiao planned not only to avenge the death of her father, but also to attract media attention and galvanize public support.Lean traces the rise of a new sentiment—"popular sympathy"—in early twentieth-century China, a sentiment that ultimately served to exonerate the assassin. The book sheds new light on the political significance of emotions, the powerful influence of sensational media, modern law in China, and the gendered nature of modernity.  —University of California Press

Sinica Podcast

02.24.12

Journey to the West

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn are pleased to host Ed Wong from The New York Times, along with Adrienne Mong, whom you’ve seen on NBC News. First up is Xi Jinping’s recent visit to the United States, and a closer look at the...

The Chinese Are Coming!

Richard Bernstein from New York Review of Books
The day after the Russian parliamentary elections in early December, the Chinese publication Global Times, an English-language newspaper and website managed by People’s Daily, the official organ of the Communist Party official, ran an editorial on...

Books

02.16.12

Grounds of Judgment

Pär Kristoffer Cassel
Perhaps more than anywhere else in the world, the nineteenth century encounter between East Asia and the Western world has been narrated as a legal encounter. Commercial treaties—negotiated by diplomats and focused on trade—framed the relationships among Tokugawa-Meiji Japan, Qing China, Choson Korea, and Western countries including Britain, France, and the United States. These treaties created a new legal order, very different than the colonial relationships that the West forged with other parts of the globe, which developed in dialogue with local precedents, local understandings of power, and local institutions. They established the rules by which foreign sojourners worked in East Asia, granting them near complete immunity from local laws and jurisdiction. The laws of extraterritoriality looked similar on paper but had very different trajectories in different East Asian countries.Par Cassel's first book explores extraterritoriality and the ways in which Western power operated in Japan and China from the 1820s to the 1920s. In Japan, the treaties established in the 1850s were abolished after drastic regime change a decade later and replaced by European-style reciprocal agreements by the turn of the century. In China, extraterritoriality stood for a hundred years, with treaties governing nearly one hundred treaty ports, extensive Christian missionary activity, foreign controlled railroads and mines, and other foreign interests, and of such complexity that even international lawyers couldn't easily interpret them.Extraterritoriality provided the springboard for foreign domination and has left Asia with a legacy of suspicion towards international law and organizations. The issue of unequal treaties has had a lasting effect on relations between East Asia and the West. Drawing on primary sources in Chinese, Japanese, Manchu, and several European languages, Cassel has written the first book to deal with exterritoriality in Sino-Japanese relations before 1895 and the triangular relationship between China, Japan, and the West. Grounds of Judgment is a groundbreaking history of Asian engagement with the outside world and within the region, with broader applications to understanding international history, law, and politics.  —Oxford University Press

Sinica Podcast

02.10.12

The Allure of the Southwest

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn take a closer look at the beautiful city of Chongqing in a forthright discussion that delves into the myriad attractions of this beautiful and occasionally mysterious Chinese city, famous recently...

He Told the Truth About China’s Tyranny

Simon Leys from New York Review of Books
Better than the assent of the crowd: The dissent of one brave man!—Sima Qian (145–90 BC)Records of the Grand HistorianTruth will set you free.—Gospel according to JohnThe economic rise of China now dominates the entire landscape of international...

Sinica Podcast

02.03.12

Running Dogs and Locusts

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Ongoing tension between Hong Kong and mainland citizens erupted into open flames on February 1, when a Hong Kong group raised more than HKD 100,000 to publish a full-page anti-China advertisement in the Apple Daily comparing mainlanders to parasitic...

Reports

01.31.12

Putting the Pedal to the Metal

Usha C.V. Haley
Economic Policy Institute
China is currently the largest car market in the world. It is also one of the largest auto-parts producers and exporters in the world, with exports, primarily to the United States, constituting about a third of its production. The Chinese...

Is Democracy Chinese?

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Chang Ping is one of China’s best-known commentators on contemporary affairs. Chang, whose real name is Zhang Ping, first established himself in the late 1990s in Guangzhou, where his hard-hitting stories exposed scandals and championed freedom of...

Sinica Podcast

01.20.12

The Elections in Taiwan

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
If your impression of Taiwanese politics has been dominated by the island’s recurring stories of vote-buying and parliamentary brawls, you’ll probably be shocked to hear what Mary Kay Magistad has to say about her recent trip to cover last week’s...

My First Trip

01.19.12

Looking Back from Age Ninety

Sidney Rittenberg
May 1944: Based on a language aptitude test, I was taken out of the infantry, training in the Oregon snows, and shipped down to sunny Stanford, to be trained in Japanese. I opted for Chinese instead, thinking this would bring me home earlier. And...

Sinica Podcast

01.13.12

Year-End Roundup

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
It was the year of the housing market (up then down), Ai Weiwei’s imprisonment, Wukan, the Wenzhou train crash, air pollution, gutter oil, tainted milk, clenbuterol, China bulls and bears, government transparency, the soaring price of Maotai, Guo...

Banned in China

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
In late December, a foreign correspondent in Beijing emailed me to say that a four-page article on China I’d written for a special New Year’s edition of Newsweek had been carefully torn from each of the 731 copies of the magazine on sale in China...

Reports

01.06.12

China’s Assertive Behavior

Michael D. Swaine
He Jianan
China Leadership Monitor
In examining the origins, characteristics, and likely future course of a “more assertive” China, many analysts point to the supposedly growing role of the Chinese military (or People’s Liberation Army—PLA) in Beijing’s overall foreign and foreign-...

Reports

01.06.12

Taiwan Elections Head to the Finish: Concerns, Cautions, and Challenges

Alan D. Romberg
He Jianan
China Leadership Monitor
Two major political developments in recent weeks have played an important role in Taiwan’s presidential election: Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to Washington and the problems she encountered convincing American officials she has a workable formula to manage...

Reports

01.06.12

Liu Yuan: Archetype of a “Xi Jinping Man” in the PLA?

James Mulvenon and Leigh Ann Ragland
He Jianan
China Leadership Monitor
Liu Yuan and Xi Jinping clearly share a great deal in common. Both were born to senior CCP cadres, and are members of the elite “princelings” cohort. Yet both men’s fathers were subjected to purge and mistreatment during the late Mao era, and both...

Reports

01.06.12

“Social Management” as a Way of Coping With Heightened Social Tensions

Joseph Fewsmith
He Jianan
China Leadership Monitor
Over the last year there has been an increasing emphasis on “social management” as a way of managing increasing social tensions in Chinese society. Indeed, the effort the CCP is putting into publicizing this concept underscores high-level concerns...

Reports

01.06.12

The Road to the 18th Party Congress

Alice L. Miller
He Jianan
China Leadership Monitor
The recent scheduling of the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th National Congress kicks off the long process of preparations for what will bring about a turnover in leadership generations next year. National party congresses are the most important...

Reports

01.06.12

Preparing for the 18th Party Congress: Procedures and Mechanisms

Cheng Li
He Jianan
China Leadership Monitor
By now, just about every China observer knows that the Chinese leadership will undergo a major generational change at the 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in the fall of 2012. Knowledge of the leadership transition’s actual...

King Cobra and the Dragon

Solange Guo Chatelard and Scott Corben
Al Jazeera
What is the reality in the African nations with the longest standing links to China?

Sinica Podcast

12.31.11

The Wukan Uprising

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
For the last few days, international attention has focused on the small fishing town of Wukan in southern China, where villagers are in open revolt. Simmering tensions caused by corruption and illegal land sales have escalated into an armed uprising...

Do China’s Village Protests Help the Regime?

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Over the past two weeks, the Western press has focused on a striking story out of China: a riveting series of protests in Wukan, a fishing village in the country’s prosperous south. The story is depressingly familiar: Corrupt cadres sell off public...

Media

12.15.11

Anxiety’s Remote Control

Hu Yong
The Chinese government agency that English speakers know as SARFT has several monikers. Its full name is the State Administration for Radio, Film, and Television. Literally translated, its Chinese name, guangdian zongju, is more...

Sinica Podcast

12.02.11

The Bears Are Back in Town

Kaiser Kuo & Arthur R. Kroeber from Sinica Podcast
Falling housing prices, soaring inflation, and an export market peering over the brink of what seems a cataclysmic abyss. If you’ve been following the economic news lately, you can be forgiven for being overwhelmed by the chorus of bearish voices...

My First Trip

11.26.11

The Opening Stage of China

Robert A. Scalapino
At the outset of the 1960s, the newly installed Kennedy administration attempted an opening to Beijing. In early 1961, with Secretary of State Dean Rusk in command, an offer was made to exchange journalists, as I had proposed. I had talked with Rusk...

Sinica Podcast

11.25.11

Occupy Sinica

Jeremy Goldkorn & Michael Anti from Sinica Podcast
Earlier this week, The New York Times published an editorial by prominent Chinese academic Yan Xuetong claiming that China would defeat the United States on the grounds of moral superiority. While the American bafflement over this piece has died...

The Real Deng

Fang Lizhi from New York Review of Books
When a scientific experiment uncovers a new phenomenon, a scientist is pleased. When an experiment fails to reveal something that the scientist originally expected, that, too, counts as a result worth analyzing. A sense of the “nonappearance of the...

Reports

11.10.11

Taiwan and East Asian Regionalism

Claude Barfield
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
With a population of only 23 million, Taiwan boasts a gross domestic product of $822 billion, which ranks 19th among the world’s economies. It is the fourth largest economy in Asia. Real GDP per capita increased by roughly 130 percent from 1995 when...

My ‘Confession’

Fang Lizhi from New York Review of Books
From reading Henry Kissinger’s new book On China,1 I have learned that Mr. Kissinger met with Deng Xiaoping at least eleven times—more than with any other Chinese leader—and that the topic of one of their chats was whether Fang Lizhi would confess...

Are China’s Rulers Getting Religion?

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
With worsening inflation, a slowing economy, and growing concerns about possible social unrest, China’s leaders have a lot on their plates these days. And yet when the Communist Party met at its annual plenum earlier this week, the issue given...

Reports

10.25.11

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Meetings in Honolulu: A Preview

Michael F. Martin
Peony Lui
Congressional Research Service
The United States will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (APEC’s) 19th Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Honolulu, HI, on November 12 & 13, 2011. APEC was founded in 1989 to facilitate trade and investment liberalization in the Asia-...

Books

10.01.11

No Enemies, No Hatred

Perry Link (editor)
When the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded on December 10, 2010, its recipient, Liu Xiaobo, was in Jinzhou Prison, serving an eleven-year sentence for what Beijing called “incitement to subvert state power.” In Oslo, actress Liv Ullmann read a long statement the activist had prepared for his 2009 trial. It read in part: “I stand by the convictions I expressed in my ‘June Second Hunger Strike Declaration’ twenty years ago—I have no enemies and no hatred. None of the police who monitored, arrested, and interrogated me, none of the prosecutors who indicted me, and none of the judges who judged me are my enemies.”That statement is one of the pieces in this book, which includes writings spanning two decades, providing insight into all aspects of Chinese life. These works not only chronicle a leading dissident’s struggle against tyranny but enrich the record of universal longing for freedom and dignity. Liu speaks pragmatically, yet with deep-seated passion, about peasant land disputes, the Han Chinese in Tibet, child slavery, the CCP’s Olympic strategy, the Internet in China, the contemporary craze for Confucius, and the Tiananmen massacre. Also presented are poems written for his wife, Liu Xia, public documents, and a foreword by Václav Havel. This collection is an aid to reflection for Western readers who might take for granted the values Liu has dedicated his life to achieving for his homeland.  —Harvard University Press

Reports

09.30.11

China-U.S. Trade Issues

Wayne M. Morrison
Peony Lui
Congressional Research Service
U.S.-China economic ties have expanded substantially over the past three decades. Total U.S.-China trade rose from $2 billion in 1979 to $457 billion in 2010. Because U.S. imports from China have risen much more rapidly than U.S. exports to China,...

My First Trip

09.30.11

With Nixon in China

Chas W. Freeman
On a chill, gray Monday morning, on February 21, 1972, I stood on the steps of the old Hongqiao Airport terminal. I had arrived in Shanghai twenty minutes in advance of President Nixon. I was on the backup plane, which arrived first, so I actually...