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...

Sinica Podcast

09.30.11

The Shanghai Train Accident

Kaiser Kuo & Jeremy Goldkorn from Sinica Podcast
At least 284 people were injured on Tuesday when a train in the Shanghai metro smashed into another which had stalled on the tracks. The accident, which threw Shanghai into disarray, came only two months after another near-disastrous incident on the...

Reports

09.26.11

China’s Holdings of U.S. Securities: Implications for the U.S. Economy

Wayne M. Morrison, Marc Labonte
Peony Lui
Congressional Research Service
Given its relatively low savings rate, the U.S. economy depends heavily on foreign capital inflows from countries with high savings rates (such as China) to meet its domestic investment needs and to fund the federal budget deficit. The willingness...

My First Trip

09.24.11

An Australian Gets to Beijing, 1964

Ross Terrill
In the early 1960s, few Westerners set foot in the People’s Republic of China. Australians needed permission from their own government to go there. Some got a green light, but Beijing guarded visas for people from non-Communist countries like...

Reports

09.21.11

China’s Assertive Behavior

Michael D. Swaine and M. Taylor Fravel
He Jianan
China Leadership Monitor
The authors of this essay examine Chinese assertiveness concerning U.S. political and military behavior along China’s maritime periphery. This topic inevitably also concerns Chinese behavior toward Japan, South Korea, and some ASEAN nations, given...

Sinica Podcast

09.16.11

North Korea: Open for Business?

Jeremy Goldkorn, Edward Wong & more from Sinica Podcast
As the guillotine of debt contagion hangs over Europe, financial pressures in Asia have led an unexpected player to make a strategic shift. After months of escalating tensions with South Korea have shuttered its opportunities for expanded trade...

Books

09.15.11

Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China

Ezra Vogel
Harvard University Press: Perhaps no one in the twentieth century had a greater long-term impact on world history than Deng Xiaoping. And no scholar of contemporary East Asian history and culture is better qualified than Ezra Vogel to disentangle the many contradictions embodied in the life and legacy of China’s boldest strategist. Once described by Mao Zedong as a “needle inside a ball of cotton,” Deng was the pragmatic yet disciplined driving force behind China’s radical transformation in the late twentieth century. He confronted the damage wrought by the Cultural Revolution, dissolved Mao’s cult of personality, and loosened the economic and social policies that had stunted China’s growth. Obsessed with modernization and technology, Deng opened trade relations with the West, which lifted hundreds of millions of his countrymen out of poverty. Yet at the same time he answered to his authoritarian roots, most notably when he ordered the crackdown in June 1989 at Tiananmen Square. Deng’s youthful commitment to the Communist Party was cemented in Paris in the early 1920s, among a group of Chinese student-workers that also included Zhou Enlai. Deng returned home in 1927 to join the Chinese Revolution on the ground floor. In the fifty years of his tumultuous rise to power, he endured accusations, purges, and even exile before becoming China’s preeminent leader from 1978 to 1989 and again in 1992. When he reached the top, Deng saw an opportunity to creatively destroy much of the economic system he had helped build for five decades as a loyal follower of Mao—and he did not hesitate.{node, 795, 4}

China’s Tibetan Theme Park

Richard Bernstein from New York Review of Books
In the international press, China’s tensions with Tibet are often traced to the Chinese invasion of 1950 and Tibet’s failed uprising of 1959. But for the Chinese themselves, the story goes back much further—at least to the reign of Kangxi, the Qing...

Reports

09.01.11

Managing Instability on China’s Periphery

Paul B. Stares, Scott A. Snyder, Joshua Kurlantzick, Daniel Markey, Evan A. Feigenbaum
He Jianan
Council on Foreign Relations
China’s growing global engagement and presence has increased the number of conceivable places and issues over which it could find itself at odds with the United States, but potential developments in the territories immediately adjacent to China...

Reports

08.30.11

Asian Alliances in the 21st Century

Dan Blumenthal, Michael Mazza, Randall Schriver, Mark Stokes, L.C. Russell Hsiao
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
Asia will become the epicenter of geopolitical activity in the 21st century and the budding U.S.-China security rivalry, conditioned by deep economic interdependence, will shape the region’s future. Perhaps the greatest benefactor of American policy...

China’s ‘Liberation’ of Tibet: Rules of the Game

Robert Barnett from New York Review of Books
Much of the talk about Vice President Joe Biden’s four-day visit to China last week centered on the man who hosted him: Xi Jinping, expected to become the country’s next president in 2012. Biden’s office has said that the principal purposes of his...

Sinica Podcast

08.19.11

Not in My Backyard

Kaiser Kuo, Josh Chin & more from Sinica Podcast
While some Chinese media have flown into high dudgeon over allegations of sun-exposed hamburger buns at McDonalds, powder-based soy milk at KFC, and pork broth made from concentrate at Ajisen, a more grassroots protest gained notice across China...

‘I’m Not Interested in Them; I Wish They Weren’t Interested in Me’

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Amid the recent crackdown on dissidents by the Chinese government, the case of Liao Yiwu, the well-known poet and chronicler of contemporary China, is particularly interesting. For years, Liao’s work, which draws on extensive interviews with...

Sinica Podcast

08.12.11

The Schadenfreude Podcast

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Last week must have felt good for embattled Chinese patriots. Not only did the United States lose its coveted triple-A rating from Standard and Poor’s, but months after unrest in the Middle East sparked renewed speculation about political...

Reports

08.04.11

U.S.-Taiwan Relationship: Overview of Policy Issues

Shirley A. Kan, Wayne M. Morrison
Peony Lui
Congressional Research Service
Taiwan today calls itself the sovereign Republic of China (ROC), tracing its political lineage to the ROC set up in 1911 on mainland China and commemorating in 2011 the 100th anniversary of its founding. The ROC government retreated to Taipei in...

Sinica Podcast

07.29.11

Train Wrecks

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
After a long and hot July marked by the near-absence of most of our guests, Sinica host Kaiser Kuo is pleased to be back this week leading a discussion of the recent accident on the high-speed Hangzhou-Wenzhou rail line, an accident that has...

Murdoch’s Chinese Adventure

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
During a Parliamentary hearing last week in London, the Murdochs, father and son, riveted television audiences with their combination of wide-eyed, hand-on-heart innocence (James), and long silences and “Yups” and “Nopes” (Rupert). After the elder...

Reports

07.18.11

China’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Mitigation Policies

Jane A. Leggett
Peony Lui
Congressional Research Service
The 112th Congress continues to debate whether and how the United States should address climate change. Most often, this debate includes concerns about the effects of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions controls if China and other major countries...