Conversation

09.25.18

Should the Vatican Compromise with China?

Pamela Kyle Crossley, Francesco Sisci & more
Amidst a crackdown on Christianity in China, on September 22 the Vatican and Beijing provisionally reached a major agreement: Pope Francis will recognize seven excommunicated bishops Beijing appointed, in exchange for more influence on who Beijing...

Other

09.21.18

Reporting from Xinjiang

On September 20, 2018, ChinaFile and the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) co-hosted a discussion with BuzzFeed reporter Megha Rajagopalan on her reporting on state-sponsored ethnic and religious repression in Xinjiang and, in particular, on...

Chinese Spiritual Leader Is Accused of Harassing Female Followers

Javier Hernandez
New York Times
In a 95-page document that circulated widely on social media this week, two male monks accused the Venerable Xuecheng, the abbot of Longquan Monastery in Beijing and a powerful religious official, of sending explicit messages and making unwanted...

Chinese Surveillance Expands to Muslims Making Mecca Pilgrimage

Eva Dou
Wall Street Journal
The state-run China Islamic Association published photos of Chinese Muslims at the Beijing airport departing for Mecca in Saudi Arabia in recent days wearing customized “smart cards” on blue lanyards around their necks. The devices, which include a...

Books

07.10.18

Blood Letters

Lian Xi
Basic Books: The staggering story of the most important Chinese political dissident of the Mao era, a devout Christian who was imprisoned, tortured, and executed by the regime.Blood Letters tells the astonishing tale of Lin Zhao, a poet and journalist arrested by the authorities in 1960 and executed eight years later, at the height of the Cultural Revolution. Openly and steadfastly opposing communism under Mao, she rooted her dissent in her Christian faith—and expressed it in long, prophetic writings done in her own blood, and at times on her clothes and on cloth torn from her bedsheets.Miraculously, Lin Zhao’s prison writings survived, though they have only recently come to light. Drawing on these works and others from the years before her arrest, as well as interviews with her friends, her classmates, and other former political prisoners, Lian Xi paints an indelible portrait of courage and faith in the face of unrelenting evil.{chop}

Conversation

06.04.18

How Should the World Respond to Intensifying Repression in Xinjiang?

Rian Thum, Rachel Harris & more
Deliberate, systematic human rights abuses are happening in China’s northwest. Reporting and research published in recent weeks shows that the Chinese government is targeting the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region’s roughly 11 million Muslims for “re...

What Really Happens in China’s ‘Re-education’ Camps

Rian Thum
New York Times
New study provides a glimpse into the vast scale of Uighurs detention network.

Chinese Uyghurs Forced to Welcome Communist Party into Their Homes

Steven Jiang
CNN
Over a million Chinese Communist officials are being dispatched to live with local families in Xinjiang. 

Abide in Darkness: China’s War on Religion Stalls Vatican Deal

Eva Dou and Francis X. Rocca
Wall Street Journal
A landmark agreement aimed at healing a nearly 70-year rift between Beijing and the Vatican is in limbo as the Chinese government tightens control over religion.

For China’s Buddhist Monks, an IPO Too Far

Adam Minter
Bloomberg
In China, religion is big business.

Anxious Hong Kong Catholics Told to Make Leap of Faith over China Deal

Greg Torode, Venus Wu
Reuters
Beijing-Vatican deal causes divisions among Catholics in Hong Kong.

Chinese Crackdown Separates Pakistani Husbands from Uighur Wives

Memphis Barker
Guardian
“Where is Mama?” screams Ahmed’s 10-year-old daughter in a WeChat message he can hardly bear to replay.

India Is Willing to Snub the Dalai Lama to Please China

Devjyot Ghoshal
Quartz
On March 17, 1959, a 23-year-old Buddhist monk disguised as a soldier fled Tibet, travelling for three weeks across the Himalayas before reaching the border with India.

Battleground Malaysia: China Extends Crackdown on Uygurs across Borders

James M. Dorsey
South China Morning Post
Malaysia has emerged as the latest battleground pitting Chinese efforts to export its security notions against principles of the rule of law.

Catholics Warn of Church Schism If Vatican Makes a Deal with China

Simon Denyer
Washington Post
Influential Catholics expressed shock and disappointment about the Vatican's potential deal with Beijing...

Germany’s Daimler Issues ‘Full Apology’ to China over Dalai Lama

BBC
Daimler has issued a second emphatic apology to China after its subsidiary, Mercedes Benz, quoted the Dalai Lama in an Instagram post on Monday.

Sinica Podcast

02.06.18

China’s Uighur Muslims, Under Pressure at Home and Abroad

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
By traveling not just to China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, where 10 to 15 million Uighurs live, but also to Syria, where some have fled and taken up arms with militant groups, Associated Press reporter Gerry Shih sought to answer the most...

Vatican, Eager for China Ties, Asks ‘Underground’ Bishops to Step Aside

Ian Johnson
New York Times
The decision in December came amid what observers describe as an extraordinary effort by the Vatican to advance negotiations to restore ties with Beijing after a nearly 70-year schism among Catholics in the world’s most populous nation.

China ‘Holding at Least 120,000 Uighurs in Re-Education Camps’

Tom Phillips
Guardian
At least 120,000 members of China’s Muslim Uighur minority have been confined to political “re-education camps” redolent of the Mao era that are springing up across the country’s western borderlands, a report has claimed.

China church demolition sparks fears of campaign against Christians

Guardian
A church in northern China was demolished this week, the second in less than a month, sparking fears of a wider campaign against Christians as authorities prepare to enforce new laws on religion.

The Traditional Chinese Dance Troupe China Doesn't Want You to See

Nicholas Hune-Brown
Guardian
Shen Yun seems like a kitsch dance troupe. But Beijing sees it as the propaganda wing of the Falun Gong movement, and a threat to their rule – and hounds the dancers from city to city, trying to sabotage their shows.

China Draws Myanmar Closer as the World Turns Away

Jane Perlez
New York Times
For the second time in a week, one of Myanmar’s top leaders is visiting Beijing, as international criticism over the brutal purge of Rohingya Muslims is bringing the neighboring countries together.

Aung San Suu Kyi Looks to China as Criticism over Rohingya Grows

John Reed
Financial Times
Aung San Suu Kyi is to visit China in a sign that Myanmar is drawing closer to Beijing as international condemnation of the violent expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims from the country grows.

Features

10.26.17

A Brooklyn Gospel Choir Goes to China

Jocelyn Ford & Yuyang Liu
Pastor Frank Haye was quietly nervous as he paced the lawn around the temporary stage at one of China’s biggest rock festivals.It was the last day of concerts by rock, electronic, and metal bands, and in a few hours, his Brooklyn gospel choir would...

China Is Retaliating against a US University for Inviting the Dalai Lama to Speak at Graduation

Josh Horwitz
Quartz
Beijing has a lesson for overseas universities: Don’t invite speakers who oppose the Communist Party to big events.

China's New Campaign to Instill Official Historical Narrative in Xinjiang

Nectar Gan
South China Morning Post
Yu Zhengsheng, the party’s fourth-ranking official who is in charge of religion and ethnic minorities, presided at a high-level meeting in Beijing this week to address “several historical issues” regarding the restive region, Xinhua reported.

China Jails Muslim Man for 2 Years over Islam WeChat Groups

South China Morning Post
A member of a Muslim minority group has been sentenced to two years in a Chinese prison after forming online discussions groups to teach Islam.

Features

09.08.17

A Drag Queen for the Dearly Departed

Ian Johnson & Tomoko Kikuchi
In the good old days, about three thousand years ago, people really knew how to mourn the dead. That was back in the Zhou dynasty, when there was no laughing in the dead person’s house, no sighing while eating, and no singing while walking down a...

China Targets Muslim Uighurs Studying Abroad

Emily Feng
Financial Times
China has launched a campaign to repatriate and interrogate Uighurs studying overseas, the latest draconian measure against the Muslim minority.

Chinese Police Detain ‘Female Jesus Cult’ Members

BBC
Police in China have detained 18 suspected members of a banned religious cult, state news agency Xinhua said. The group is notorious for some of its members beating a woman to death in a McDonald's restaurant in 2014 after she refused to give...

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"...

Sinica Podcast

06.23.17

Islamophobia in China, Explained

Kaiser Kuo, Alice Y. Su & more from Sinica Podcast
Islamophobia isn’t a phenomenon limited to Trump’s America or the Europe of Brexit and Marine Le Pen. It has taken root in China, too—in a form that bears a striking resemblance to what we’ve seen in recent years in the West. The Chinese Party-state...

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’s Astounding Religious Revival

Roderick MacFarquhar from New York Review of Books
If there were just one Chinese in the world, he could be the lonely sage contemplating life and nature whom we come across on the misty mountains of Chinese scrolls. If there were two Chinese in the world, a man and a woman, lo, the family system is...

China Is Touting Its Protection of Human Rights in a Muslim-Majority Region Riven by Violence

Quartz
China put out a policy paper today on human rights in the Muslim-heavy Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where the Chinese government has been cracking down extensively in recent years.

The Curious Rise of the ‘White Left’ as a Chinese Internet Insult

chenchen zhang
If you look at any thread about Trump, Islam or immigration on a Chinese social media platform these days, it’s impossible to avoid encountering the term baizuo (白左), or literally, the ‘white left’. It first emerged about two years ago, and yet has...

U.S. Reps, Dalai Lama Take Aim at China Sore Spot Tibet

Katy Daigle, Ashwini Bhatia 
Washington Post
As President Donald Trump appears to be warming to China, a bipartisan group from the U.S. House of Representatives took aim Wednesday at one of Beijing’s sore spots: Tibet.

Books

05.08.17

The Souls of China

Ian Johnson
From journalist Ian Johnson, a revelatory portrait of religion in China today—its history, the spiritual traditions of its Eastern and Western faiths, and the ways in which it is influencing China’s future.The Souls of China tells the story of one of the world’s great spiritual revivals. Following a century of violent anti-religious campaigns, China is now filled with new temples, churches, and mosques—as well as cults, sects, and politicians trying to harness religion for their own ends. Driving this explosion of faith is uncertainty over what it means to be Chinese and how to live an ethical life in a country that discarded traditional morality a century ago and is searching for new guideposts.Johnson first visited China in 1984. In the 1990s, he helped run a charity to rebuild Daoist temples, and in 2001 he won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the suppression of the Falun Gong spiritual movement. While researching this book, he lived for extended periods with underground church members, rural Daoists, and Buddhist pilgrims. Along the way, he learned esoteric meditation techniques, visited a nonagenarian Confucian sage, and befriended government propagandists as they fashioned a remarkable embrace of traditional values. He has distilled these experiences into a cycle of festivals, births, deaths, detentions, and struggle—a great awakening of faith that is shaping the soul of the world’s newest superpower. —Pantheon{chop}

Why India Can’t Afford to Miss out on China’s Belt and Road Plan

K.S. Venkatachalam
South China Morning Post
India-China relations has been plagued by a low level of trust due to unresolved territorial disputes.

Media

04.19.17

ChinaFile Presents: Ian Johnson on ‘The Souls of China’

Ian Johnson & Ian Buruma
On April 13, ChinaFile and The New York Review of Books co-hosted the launch of author Ian Johnson’s new book The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao at the Asia Society’s New York headquarters. Johnson discussed the book with Ian...

China Names Areas in Region Disputed with India to Assert Claims

Reuters
China has issued standardized spellings of the names of six places in a region disputed with India, in what China’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday was an assertion of sovereignty.

Dalai Lama’s Journey Provokes China, and Hints at His Heir

New York Times
It has been a hard journey for the 81-year-old Dalai Lama, perhaps his last over the mountain passes at the edge of China, to a town that has played a fateful role in his life, and in the history of Tibetan Buddhism.

As Atheist China Warms to the Vatican, Religious Persecution ‘Intensifies’

James Griffiths and Matt Rivers
CNN
According to a new report from U.S.-based NGO Freedom House, persecution of Chinese Christians and other faith groups has “intensified” in recent years.

Books

02.16.17

Chinese Theology

Chloë Starr
In this groundbreaking and authoritative study, Chloë Starr explores key writings of Chinese Christian intellectuals, from philosophical dialogues of the late imperial era to micro-blogs of pastors in the 21st century. Through a series of close textual readings, she sheds new light on such central issues in Chinese theology as Christian identity and the evolving question of how Christians should relate to society and state.Reading these texts in their socio-political and traditional literary contexts, Starr opens a new conversation about the nature of Chinese theology and the challenge it offers to a broad understanding of how theology is created and contextualized. Concentrating on those theologians who have engaged most actively with their cultural and political milieus, Starr argues throughout her readings, as she examines how Chinese literary traditions and reading patterns have shaped Chinese theology, that text is as important as context. —Yale University Press{chop}

China and Vatican Near Pivotal Deal on Bishops

Chun Han Wong
Wall Street Journal
Accord would help end decades of estrangement between Beijing and Catholic Church

Books

02.07.17

Shanghai Faithful

Jennifer Lin
Within the next decade, China could be home to more Christians than any other country in the world. Through the 150-year saga of a single family, this book vividly dramatizes the remarkable religious evolution of the world’s most populous nation. Shanghai Faithful is both a touching family memoir and a chronicle of the astonishing spread of Christianity in China. Five generations of the Lin family—buffeted by history’s crosscurrents and personal strife—bring to life an epoch that is still unfolding.A compelling cast—a poor fisherman, a doctor who treated opium addicts, an Ivy League-educated priest, and the charismatic preacher Watchman Nee—sets the book in motion. Veteran journalist Jennifer Lin takes readers from remote nineteenth-century mission outposts to the thriving house churches and cathedrals of today’s China. The Lin family—and the book’s central figure, the Reverend Lin Pu-chi—offer witness to China’s tumultuous past, up to and beyond the betrayals and madness of the Cultural Revolution, when the family’s resolute faith led to years of suffering. Forgiveness and redemption bring the story full circle. With its sweep of history and the intimacy of long-hidden family stories, Shanghai Faithful offers a fresh look at Christianity in China—past, present, and future. —Rowman & Littlefield{chop}

China, United States cannot afford conflict: Chinese foreign minister

Colin Packham
Reuters
There would be no winner from conflict between China and the United States, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned on Tuesday, seeking to dampen tension between the two nations that flared after the election of U.S. President Donald Trump. 

China Says ‘Reasonable Concerns’ Must Be Factored into Trump Travel Bans

South China Morning Post
China is building diplomatic role in Middle East, and has close ties with Iran and Sudan, two of Trump’s seven proscribed countries

China Says Hopes Mongolia Learned Lesson after Dalai Lama Visit

Reuters
China said on Tuesday it hopes Mongolia has learned a lesson and will keep a promise not to invite the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama again after his visit in November led to a chill in relations.

Sinica Podcast

01.19.17

The State of Journalism in China—Ed Wong’s Exit Interview

Jeremy Goldkorn, Kaiser Kuo & more from Sinica Podcast
Edward Wong became a reporter for The New York Times in 1999. He covered the Iraq war from Baghdad from 2003 to 2007, and then moved to Beijing in 2008. He has written about a wide range of subjects in China for the Times, and became its Beijing...

Sinica Podcast

01.13.17

Can the Vatican and China Get Along?

Jeremy Goldkorn, Kaiser Kuo & more from Sinica Podcast
Ian Johnson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has lived in Beijing and Taiwan for more than half of the past 30 years, writing for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, and other publications. He has...

Xinjiang Attack: Four 'Terrorists' and One Bystander Killed, Says China

Reuters
Guardian
Assailants shot dead after driving up to regional Communist party headquarters and setting off bomb, according to official media, in flare-up in Uighur region

In China’s Tiny Catholic Community, Hopes Rise for Beijing- Vatican Ties

Rob Schmitz
NPR
Beijing and the Vatican seem to want to come to an agreement, though who has the last word in appointing bishops is still a point of contention

Tibetan Leader Urges Trump to Confront China on Rights

Sanjeev Miglani
Reuters
The head of the Tibetan government-in-exile said he was encouraged by Trump’s tough stand on China