China Bans Xinjiang Officials From Observing Ramadan Fast

BBC
Activists have accused Beijing of exaggerating the threat from Uighur separatists to justify a crackdown on the Uighurs’ religious and cultural freedoms.

China Charges Four in Train Station Massacre

Calum MacLeod
USA Today
Chinese authorities Monday charged four people with terrorism and murder in the March 1 knife massacre in the southwest city of Kunming, state media announced.

Web Preaches Jihad to China's Muslim Uighurs

Jeremy Page and Ned Levin
Wall Street Journal
China says the Internet and social media incite terrorism among Uighur minority.

32 Terrorist Groups Smashed in Xinjiang, China Says

Edward Wong and Chris Buckley
New York Times
Officials in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang said an antiterrorism crackdown that began in late May had resulted in the smashing of 32 terrorist groups and the sentencing of 315 people to prison. 

China's Clampdown on ‘Evil Cults’

Murong Xuecun
New York Times
The government’s anti-religion campaign is not borne of concern for public security stemming from a horrific murder. This is a concerted effort to bring independent churches and their followers into line.

Crackdown on Fringe Sects in China Has Mainstream Churches Worried

Andrew Jacobs
New York Times
Although their voices are muted by the censors, human rights advocates and some mainstream religious leaders in China say that the latest anti-cult campaign is misguided and that it frequently violates Chinese law.

Caixin Media

06.10.14

A Jesuit Astronomer in a Qing Emperor’s Court

Sheila Melvin
Of the 920 Jesuits who served in the China mission between 1552 and 1800, only the Italian Matteo Ricci (Li Madou) remains well known. This is understandable—it was Ricci who first gained permission for the Jesuits to live in Beijing and who...

Deadly McDonald’s Attack Highlights Fears About Cults in China

Julie Makinen
Los Angeles Times
The perpetrators were six members of a religious cult, including a middle-age man, his two grown daughters and his 12-year-old son, who became angry when refused a phone number.

Books

06.09.14

Voices from Tibet

Tsering Woeser and Wang Lixiong, Edited and Translated by Violet S. Law
Tsering Woeser and Wang Lixiong are widely regarded as the most eloquent, insightful writers on contemporary Tibet. Their reportage on the economic exploitation, environmental degradation, cultural destruction, and political subjugation that plague the increasingly Han Chinese-dominated Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) is as powerful as it is profound, ardent, and analytical in equal measure, and not in the least bit ideological. Voices from Tibet is a collection of essays and reportage in translation that captures the many facets of an unprecedented sea change wreaked by a rising China upon a scared land and its defenseless people. With the TAR in a virtual lockdown after the 2008 unrest, this book sheds important light on the simmering frustrations that touched off the unrest and Beijing’s stability über alles control tactics in its wake. The authors also interrogate longstanding assumptions about Tibetans’ political future. Woeser’s and Wang’s writings represent a rare Chinese view sympathetic to Tibetan causes, one that should resonate in many places confronting threats of cultural subjugation and economic domination by a non-indigenous power. —Hong Kong University Press {chop}

Beijing, Vatican Prepare to Resume Talks for the First Time Since 2010

Kristine Kwok
South China Morning Post
Meeting said to be in the works, but recent anti-church actions could complicate dialogue.

Catholic Cardinal Makes First Appearance at Vigil

Keith Bradsher
New York Times
Cardinal Joseph Zen of the Catholic Church, a longtime advocate of greater democracy in Hong Kong and mainland China, attended the annual candlelight vigil for Tiananmen Square victims for the first time in Hong Kong on Wednesday evening.

China’s Two Problems with the Uyghurs

Lisa Ross
Los Angeles Review of Books
Beijing has two problems with the Uyghurs, the Turkic-speaking, Central Asian people from China’s northwestern Xinjiang region. One problem is terrorism; the other problem is civil rights.

China Sentences 55 in Xinjiang Mass Trial

Michael Martina and Li Hui
Reuters
The public sentencing, reminiscent of China's revolutionary era rallies, attracted a crowd of 7,000 at a sports stadium in Yining city in the northern prefecture of Yili...

China's Beachhead in U.S. Schools

David Feith
Wall Street Journal
The Confucius education network shows the promise and peril of doing academic business with Beijing.

Residents Try to Move On After Terrorist Attack in China

Andrew Jacobs
New York Times
By the time the vehicles exploded at opposite ends of the block, 43 people were dead and more than 90 people were wounded, according to an updated casualty list.

Books

05.22.14

Age of Ambition

Evan Osnos
From abroad, we often see China as a caricature: a nation of pragmatic plutocrats and ruthlessly dedicated students destined to rule the global economy—or an addled Goliath, riddled with corruption and on the edge of stagnation. What we don’t see is how both powerful and ordinary people are remaking their lives as their country dramatically changes.As the Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, Evan Osnos was on the ground in China for years, witness to profound political, economic, and cultural upheaval. In Age of Ambition, he describes the greatest collision taking place in that country: the clash between the rise of the individual and the Communist Party’s struggle to retain control. He asks probing questions: Why does a government with more success lifting people from poverty than any civilization in history choose to put strict restraints on freedom of expression? Why do millions of young Chinese professionals—fluent in English and devoted to Western pop culture—consider themselves “angry youth,” dedicated to resisting the West’s influence? How are Chinese from all strata finding meaning after two decades of the relentless pursuit of wealth?Writing with great narrative verve and a keen sense of irony, Osnos follows the moving stories of everyday people and reveals life in the new China to be a battleground between aspiration and authoritarianism, in which only one can prevail. —Farrar, Straus, and Giroux {chop}

Media

05.15.14

Evan Osnos: China’s ‘Age of Ambition’

Evan Osnos & Orville Schell
New Yorker correspondent Evan Osnos discusses his new book, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China, with Orville Schell, Arthur Ross Director of Asia Society's Center on U.S.-China Relations.{chop} ...

China Denies Declaring War on Christians After Mega-Church is Razed

Tom Phillips
Telegraph
Communist Party officials have rejected claims they have launched an orchestrated campaign to slow the spread of Christianity in China, after the razing of a church in a city known as the "Jerusalem of the East"...

China Could Become the World’s Largest Christian Country

Joshua Keating
Slate
China likely already has more Protestants—an estimated 58 million—than South Africa or Brazil, major centers of evangelical revival,  and 67 million Christians in all—larger than the total population of France. More people go to...

China Cancels Human Rights Dialogue with Britain

Tania Brannigan
Guardian
Beijing accuses UK of using rights issues to interfere in its internal affairs and axes dialogue that resumed after diplomatic freeze over Dalai Lama

Media

04.11.14

Is Jesus Really Hotter Than Mao on China’s Social Media?

It’s easier to talk about Jesus than Chinese President and Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping on Weibo, China’s massive Twitter-like social media platform.The atheist Chinese Communist Party, known for its sometimes heavy-handed policies...

Chinese Atheists? What the Pew Survey Gets Wrong

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Earlier this month, I came across a fascinating opinion survey by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. The report asked people in forty countries whether belief in God is necessary for morality. Mostly, the results aren’t surprising...

The Brave Catholics of China

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Like most pilgrimage sites in China, the shrine in the village of Cave Gulley in Shanxi province is located partway up a mountain, reachable by steep stairs that are meant to shift worshipers’ attention from the world below to heaven above...

Caixin Media

03.03.14

Kunming Attack Is ‘China’s 9/11,’ State Media Says

In the days after a major terror attack in Kunming, state media outlets are calling for a united front to combat terror and warning against excusing the attackers or criticizing the government’s policies on minorities.On the evening of March 1, a...

Conversation

02.22.14

What Can the Dalai Lama’s White House Visit Actually Accomplish?

Isabel Hilton, Donald Clarke & more
On February 21, the Dalai Lama visited United States President Barack Obama in the White House over the objections of the Chinese government. Beijing labels the exiled spiritual leader a "wolf in sheep's clothing" who seeks to use...

Conversation

02.13.14

Are Ethnic Tensions on the Rise in China?

Enze Han, James Palmer & more
On December 31, President Xi Jinping appeared on CCTV and extended his “New Year’s wishes to Chinese of all ethnic groups.” On January 15, Beijing officials detained Ilham Tohti, a leading Uighur economist and subsequently accused him of “separtist...

This Woman is the Voice of Tibet for China and the World

Matthew Bell
Public Radio International
Tsering Woeser is a prolific blogger who writes in Chinese, the language she grew up with in school in Tibetan towns in southwestern Sichuan province. This makes Woeser's voice for the rights of Tibetans unique...

China’s Way to Happiness

Ian Johnson
New York Review of Books
The return of collective religious traditions is part of Chinese people's search for meaning and stability...

China’s Way to Happiness

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Richard Madsen is one of the modern-day founders of the study of Chinese religion. A professor at the University of California San Diego, the seventy-three-year-old’s works include Morality and Power in a Chinese Village, China and the American...

In Pictures: Chinese New Year Around the World

BBC
A Chinese folk artist performs at the opening ceremony of the Spring Festival Temple Fair in Beijing, one of millions of people around the world celebrating ahead of Chinese, or Lunar, New Year.

China’s Detention of Uighur Professor Ilham Tohti Worries U.S.

Julie Makinen
Los Angeles Times
The U.S. government and human rights activists are voicing concern about the detention of a professor who has been an outspoken advocate for China’s Uighur minority group.  

Confucius Comes Home

Evan Osnos
New Yorker
In my fifth year in Beijing, I moved into a one-story brick house beside the Confucius Temple, a seven-hundred-year-old shrine to China’s most important philosopher.

China’s Kaifeng Jews Rediscover Their Heritage

Tiffanie Wen
Daily Beast
In Kaifeng, where Sephardic Jews from the Silk Road settled in the 12th century, their descendants are rediscovering long-last religious practices and petitioning Israel for recognition.

Other

12.26.13

2013 Year in Review

As the year draws to a close, we want to take a moment to look back at some of the stories ChinaFile published in 2013. We hope you’ll find something that interests you to read—or watch—over the holidays.It’s hard to remember a recent year that didn...

Japanese Premier Visits Contentious War Shrine

Hiroko Tabuchi
New York Times
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan visited a contentious Tokyo war shrine early on Thursday, provoking swift condemnation fromChina and South Korea, both victims of Japan’s wartime aggression.

Why Eating Chinese Food on Christmas is a Sacred Tradition for American Jews

Marc Tracy
Tablet
The Hebrew year is 5774 and the Chinese year is 4710. That must mean, the joke goes, that against all odds the Jews went without Chinese food for 1,064 years. In fact, Jewish love for Chinese food is neither hallucinated nor arbitrary. It is very...

How China Spends Christmas

BBC
As the western world eagerly anticipates the festive season, in China Christmas will be a relatively subdued affair.

Riot in China’s Xinjiang Kills 16, ‘Terror Gang’ Blamed

Ben Blanchard
Reuters
Chinese police shot and killed 14 people during a riot near the old Silk Road city of Kashgar in which two policemen were also killed, the latest unrest in a region that has a substantial Muslim population. 

Culture

11.11.13

All He Needs is a Miracle

Debra Bruno
Courtesy of the USF Ricci Institute for Chinese-Western Cultural History A portrait of Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci by You Wenhui; painted at the time of Ricci’s death in Beijing, 1610. It now hangs at the Jesuit residence in Rome. It is the...

Xi Jinping Hopes Traditional Faiths Can Fill Moral Void in China

Benjamin Kang Lim and Ben Blanchard
Reuters
President Xi Jinping believes China is losing its moral compass and he wants the ruling Communist Party to be more tolerant of traditional faiths in the hope these will help fill a vacuum created by the country’s breakneck growth...

Politics in Taiwan: Daggers Drawn

Economist
Though he is often accused of being ineffectual, it is actually a rare show of decisiveness that has lost Ma Ying-jeou recent support. At issue is his handling of alleged wrongdoing by a titan of Mr. Ma’s Kuomintang (K.M.T.), Wang Jin-pyng. 

Uighurs at Xinjiang Mosque Have to Face China Flag When Praying

Massoud Hayoun
Al Jazeera
Prominent Uighur rights advocate Ilham Tohti called the local government’s move an effort to “dilute the religious environment” in the area, where minority Uighurs often complain of ethnic and religious repression. 

Shaolin Temple Denies Abbot Sex Scandal

China Daily
The Henan Shaolin Temple denies Spanish newspaper allegations that abbot Shi Yongxin has a mistress in college in Beijing, a son in Germany and an overseas bank account.

A Wave of Self-Immolations Sweeps Tibet

Jeffrey Bartholet
New Yorker
What is the reason behind the self-immolations of more than 100 Tibetans since 2011–monks and nuns, farmers and nomads, adults and teenagers? Some hope the they gain the world’s attention, and bring pressure on China to rethink its Tibet...

Conversation

07.03.13

How Would Accepting Gay Culture Change China?

Fei Wang & Steven Jiang
Last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike down the core provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act is not only “a stride toward greater equality in the United States, but also a shift that will reverberate far beyond our shores,” wrote...

“We’re Uyghurs. We’re Not Terrorists.” A Plea From Xinjiang

Offbeat China
A plea from a Xinjiang native stirred up discussions of how to make peace with people from different ethnic backgrounds on Weibo. “We’re from Xinjiang. We’re Uyghurs. We’re not terrorists. There are good people and bad people in...

Unrest In Xinjiang Incites Military Crackdown

Natalie Ornell
China Digital Times
State-run media reported that more than 100 people riding motorcycles, some wielding knives, attacked a police station in remote Hotan on Friday. It follows Wednesday’s clashes elsewhere in Xinjiang which killed 35. At a meeting...

Dalai Lama: No More ‘Wolf in Monk’s Robes’?

Didi Kirsten Tatlow
International Herald Tribune
“In an abrupt and unexpected reversal of policy, Chinese government officials have told monks in some Tibetan areas that they are now free to ‘worship’ the Dalai Lama as a ‘religious leader,’” Tsering Namgyal, a writer and journalist based...

Books

06.19.13

Confucianism as a World Religion

Anna Sun
Is Confucianism a religion? If so, why do most Chinese think it isn’t? From ancient Confucian temples, to nineteenth-century archives, to the testimony of people interviewed by the author throughout China over a period of more than a decade, this book traces the birth and growth of the idea of Confucianism as a world religion.The book begins at Oxford, in the late nineteenth century, when Friedrich Max Müller and James Legge classified Confucianism as a world religion in the new discourse of “world religions” and the emerging discipline of comparative religion. Anna Sun shows how that decisive moment continues to influence the understanding of Confucianism in the contemporary world, not only in the West but also in China, where the politics of Confucianism have become important to the present regime in a time of transition. Contested histories of Confucianism are vital signs of social and political change.Sun also examines the revival of Confucianism in China today and the social significance of the ritual practice of Confucian temples. While the Chinese government turns to Confucianism to justify its political agenda, Confucian activists have started a movement to turn Confucianism into a religion. Confucianism as a world religion might have begun as a scholarly construction, but are we witnessing its transformation into a social and political reality?   —Princeton University Press

China Officials Seek Career Shortcut With Feng Shui

Dan Levin
New York Times
As Marxist ideology has faded in China, ancient mystical beliefs once banned by the Communist Party are gaining ground. This mystical revival is attracting devoted followers in that most forbidden of realms: the marbled, atheistic halls of...

Conversation

05.10.13

What’s China’s Game in the Middle East?

Rachel Beitarie, Massoud Hayoun & more
Rachel Beitarie:Xi Jinping’s four point proposal for a Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement is interesting not so much for its content, as for its source. While China has maintained the appearance of being involved in Middle East politics for years,...

Bishop Who Brought Church Back From Maoist Persecution, Dies At Age 96

Associated Press
Jin Luxian’s death leaves one of China’s largest and wealthiest dioceses in a deeply unsettled state, underscoring continuing tensions generated by the ruling Communist Party’s control of all organized religions.

China Criticizes U.S. For Questioning Xinjiang Clash

Associated Press
In the wake of Tuesday’s violence, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell called for a thorough and transparent investigation and expressed concern over discrimination against Uighurs and the practice of Islam.  

China’s Sufis: The Shrines Behind the Dunes

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Lisa Ross’s luminous photographs are not our usual images of Xinjiang. One of China’s most turbulent areas, the huge autonomous region in the country’s northwest was brought under permanent Chinese control only in the mid-twentieth century...

The Vatican And The Other China

Didi Kristen Tatlow
International Herald Tribune
Ma Ying-Jeou was present at the Vatican during Pope Francis’ inauguration, affording the Taiwanese president a rare opportunity to mix with other world leaders. 

Half A Century Of Harvesting Souls In China

Debra Bruno
WSJ: China Real Time Report
Mark O'Neill writes about the life of his Presbyterian missionary grandfather, Frederick, who first moved to Manchuria in search of souls to save in 1897 and ended up staying for 45 years. ...

National People’s Congress Kicks Off With A Kaleidoscope Of Diversity

Zhang Qian and Yao Chun
People’s Daily Online
Photos of the various ethnic minorities represented at the 2013 National People's Congress, showcasing the government’s inclusiveness and the country’s diversity...

Going Undercover, The Evangelists Taking Jesus To Tibet

Jonathan Kaiman
Guardian
 Missionaries see Tibet as a formidable yet crucial undertaking, a last spiritual frontier. Today’s evangelists work undercover as students, teachers, doctors, and business owners in order covertly proselytize. 

Dancing in Empty Beijing

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
The Lunar New Year began last week as it always does, with a new moon. The empty sky seemed to empty Beijing of up to half its residents—authorities estimate that an incredible nine million people left the city, which usually has a population of...