Viewpoint

04.19.19

‘I Have Revised My Idea of What a Uighur Heroine Should Be’

Zubayra Shamseden
The Chinese government would have you believe a good Uighur woman is one who knows how to apply false eyelashes and cook dumplings. She is neither too modest nor too forward. She is “good at singing and dancing.” Since leaving China, I have spent a...

Viewpoint

03.15.19

Is This the Last Dalai Lama?

Jessica Batke
This month marks the 60th anniversary of the Dalai Lama’s flight from Tibet. His departure exposed the rift between the Tibetan faithful and the Chinese Communist Party (C.C.P.), one which has not closed in the six decades since—and which threatens...

Culture

03.12.19

‘I Can’t Sleep: Homage to a Uyghur Homeland’

Lisa Ross & Muyi Xiao
In the 2000s, New York-based artist Lisa Ross traveled to the city of Turpan in China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and photographed local people on the beds that they keep in their fields. The portraits in that series are currently on exhibit...

‘Reeducating’ Xinjiang’s Muslims

James A. Millward from New York Review of Books
In a courtroom in Zharkent, Kazakhstan, in July 2018, a former kindergarten principal named Sayragul Sauytbay calmly described what Chinese officials continue to deny: a vast new gulag of “de-extremification training centers” has been created for...

Features

01.08.19

Where Did the One Million Figure for Detentions in Xinjiang’s Camps Come From?

Jessica Batke
As journalists and scholars have reported in recent months on the campaign of religious and cultural repression and incarceration taking place in the Chinese region of Xinjiang, a central question has emerged: How many people has China’s government...

Viewpoint

12.28.18

‘Now We Don’t Talk Anymore’

Joanne Smith Finley
In an old Silk Road oasis town on China’s western border, these days a thirsty traveller can knock back a cold beer in a local mosque. The former place of worship is now a bar for tourists. And it is with the customers’ views in mind—and, perhaps,...

Viewpoint

12.21.18

A Look Back at China in 2018

Kyle Hutzler
In 2018, the outlook for China regarding its politics, economy, and relationship with the United States darkened considerably. The removal of presidential term limits and Xi Jinping’s interactions with the Trump administration prompted rare...

The Uighurs and China’s Long History of Trouble with Islam

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Last month, I spent several days at the Forbidden City, the gargantuan palace in the middle of Beijing where China’s emperors ruled the land for nearly five hundred years. I was there to attend a conference on religion and power in imperial China,...

Conversation

11.20.18

Has the World Lost Sight of Tibet?

Gerald Roche, Lhadon Tethong & more
Since the incarceration of roughly a million Uighurs in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang over the last year, the situation in Tibet has gotten relatively less coverage in Western media. What is the current situation for human rights,...

In Search of the True Dao

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Last year I got a call from Abbess Yin, an old friend who runs a Daoist nunnery near Nanjing. I’ve always known her as supernaturally placid and oblique, but this time she was nervous and direct: a group of Germans were coming to spend a week...

Media

11.06.18

ChinaFile Presents: The Situation in Xinjiang

ChinaFile and the U.S.-Asia Law Institute of NYU School of Law co-hosted a discussion with historian Rian Thum and journalists Gulchehra Hoja of Radio Free Asia and James Palmer of Foreign Policy on the human rights crisis in the far-western region...

Postcard

10.24.18

China’s Government Has Ordered a Million Citizens to Occupy Uighur Homes. Here’s What They Think They’re Doing.

Darren Byler
The village children spotted the outsiders quickly. They heard their attempted greetings in the local language, saw the gleaming Chinese flags and round face of Mao Zedong pinned to their chests, and knew just how to respond. “I love China,” the...

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.