Books

11.12.14

The Sacred Routes of Uyghur History

Rian Thum
For 250 years, the Turkic Muslims of Altishahr—the vast desert region to the northwest of Tibet—have led an uneasy existence under Chinese rule. Today they call themselves Uyghurs, and they have cultivated a sense of history and identity that challenges Beijing’s official national narrative. Rian Thum argues that the roots of this history run deeper than recent conflicts, to a time when manuscripts and pilgrimage dominated understandings of the past. Beyond broadening our knowledge of tensions between the Uyghurs and the Chinese government, this meditation on the very concept of history probes the limits of human interaction with the past.Uyghur historical practice emerged from the circulation of books and people during the Qing Dynasty, when crowds of pilgrims listened to history readings at the tombs of Islamic saints. Over time, amid long journeys and moving rituals, at oasis markets and desert shrines, ordinary readers adapted community-authored manuscripts to their own needs. In the process they created a window into a forgotten Islam, shaped by the veneration of local saints.Partly insulated from the rest of the Islamic world, the Uyghurs constructed a local history that is at once unique and assimilates elements of Semitic, Iranic, Turkic, and Indic traditions—the cultural imports of Silk Road travelers. Through both ethnographic and historical analysis, The Sacred Routes of Uyghur History offers a new understanding of Uyghur historical practices, detailing the remarkable means by which this people reckons with its past and confronts its nationalist aspirations in the present day. —Harvard University Press {chop}

China Planning $16.3 Billion Fund for “New Silk Road”

Bloomberg
The fund, overseen by Chinese policy banks, will be used to build and expand railways, roads and pipelines in Chinese provinces that are part of the strategy to facilitate trade over land and shipping routes.

A Comb Worth Fighting For

Economist
By one estimate, the number of Chinese Christians could by 2030 have reached 250 million—the largest Christian population of any country in the world.

The Dalai Lama Forces China to Overplay its Hand in South Africa

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
Pretoria’s apparent refusal to grant Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama a visa to attend a summit of Nobel peace laureates has sparked outrage in South Africa. Critics allege the government is bowing to China, undermining South African...

Penn State Latest School to Drop China’s Confucius Institute

Douglas Belkin
Wall Street Journal
The action signals increasing discontent on university campuses over the institutes' hiring practices and refusal to acknowledge unflattering chapters of Chinese history...

Reports: 50 Were Killed in China Clash

Callum MacLeod
USA Today
The latest violent clash in China's troubled Xinjiang region, described by authorities as a terrorist attack, was far more deadly than first reported, according to state media accounts...

Chinese Court Sentences Uighur Scholar to Life in Separatism Case

Edward Wong
New York Times
A university professor who has come to symbolize peaceful resistance by ethnic Uighurs to Chinese policies was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of separatism in the western region of Xinjiang.

Dalai Lama: Chinese President Xi Jinping is ‘More Open Minded’

Vibhuti Agarwal
Wall Street Journal
India's support of the Dalai Lama, who fled to India after a Chinese crackdown in the Himalayan region in 1959, has been a source of friction between the two countries...

Uighur Scholar Ilham Tohti Goes on Trial in China on Separatist Charges

Edward Wong
New York Times
A conviction of Ilham Tohti for separatism could result in the death penalty, but in his case life imprisonment is likely to be the maximum punishment because of the specific charges.

Tibet in Sichuan

Miguel Cano
Diplomat
Traveling the Tibetan plateau in Sichuan Province with indepdendent journalist Miguel Cano.

'Capture' of Chinese national fighting with ISIS gives China jitters

Jaime FlorCruz
CNN
It's not clear how many Chinese nationals may be fighting with the ISIS. Wu Sike, until recently China's special envoy to the Middle East, earlier stated that there could be about 100 of them...

Iraqis Identify Prisoner as Chinese Islamist Fighter

Edward Wong
New York Times
Chinese officials have in the past expressed concerns about citizens’ venturing abroad to join ISIS or other jihadist groups in the Middle East, or of their being influenced by such groups to carry out attacks within China.

Fabled Uighur Princess Coming to Chinese Television as a Cartoon

Edward Wong
New York Times
Animators in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen are creating a 104-episode cartoon series loosely based on a historical Qing Dynasty imperial consort, a Uighur woman who is shrouded in myth.

China Says 8 Executed in Western Region; Charges Stem From Separatist Attacks

Chris Buckley`
New York Times
The executions were the latest in a succession of displays of might and resolve by the Chinese government, which is trying to extinguish increasingly violent discontent among Uighurs in Xinjiang.

China Arrests 1,000 Members of Banned Religious Cult 'Eastern Lightning'

Katie Hunt
CNN
State news agency Xinhua said that the group, which Beijing regards as a dangerous doomsday cult, cheated people, illegally collected money and "violated the law under the guise of religion."...

China Said to Deploy Drones After Unrest in Xinjiang

Didi Kirsten Tatlow
New York Times
Three days after an eruption of violence in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang this summer left nearly 100 people dead, the region’s “antiterrorist command” asked the country’s biggest space and defense contractor for help.

Pope Francis Reaches Out to China As He Begins Asia Trip

William Wan
Washington Post
Pope Francis extended his best wishes to Xi and the Chinese people on his way to South Korea through Chinese airspace, the first time China allowed that since 1989.

China Imposes Intrusive Rules on Uighurs in Xinjiang

Barbara Demick
Los Angeles Times
Black-clad, helmet-wearing paramilitary forces were seen in several locations in recent days, stopping Uighur men to check their IDs and scroll through the playlists of their phones.

China Says Violent Xinjiang Uprising Left Almost 100 Dead

James T. Areddy
Wall Street Journal
Chinese police gunned down 59 people and arrested 215 during a violent uprising last week in the Xinjiang region, in a statement that shed fresh light on what dissident groups had earlier described as a major clash in the area.

China Says Violent Xinjiang Uprising Left Almost 100 Dead

James T. Areddy
Wall Street Journal
Chinese police gunned down 59 people and arrested 215 during a violent uprising last week in the Xinjiang region, the government said Sunday, in a statement that shed fresh light on what dissident groups had earlier described as a major clash in the...

State-Appointed Muslim Leader Killed in China

James T. Areddy
Wall Street Journal
Deatils on the death of Jume Tahir, who was killed early on the morning of June 30, are unclear one day later and sentiments among Chinese Muslims are mixed. This is not the first time an imam has been murdered in China.  

22 Attackers Shot Dead in Xinjiang Violence as Extremists Wielding Axes Targeted Civilians

South China Morning Post
Attack on government office and police station follows series of violent incidents in restive province.

China Removes Crosses From Two More Churches in Crackdown

Andrew Jacobs
New York Times
In another sign of the authorities’ efforts to contain one of China’s fastest-growing religions, a government demolition campaign against public symbols of the Christian faith has toppled crosses at two more churches in the coastal province of...

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...