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...

Green Gold: How China Quietly Grew into a Cannabis Superpower

Stephen Chen
South China Morning Post
Every year in April, Jiang Xingquan sets aside part of his farm in northern China to grow cannabis. The size of the plot varies with market demand but over the last few years it has been about 600 hectares.

China's Crackdown on North Korea over U.N. Sanctions Starts to Pinch

Jane Perlez
New York Times
Trucks packed with seafood were backed up, bumper to bumper, at the Chinese border with North Korea. Protesters carried red banners demanding compensation. And Chinese businessmen who have been making big money from North Korean crabs,...

Depth of Field

06.29.17

Love, Robots, and Fireworks

Ye Ming, Yan Cong & more from Yuanjin Photo
Included in this Depth of Field column are stories of love, community, remembrance, and the future, told through the discerning eyes of some of China’s best photojournalists. Among them, the lives of African migrants in Guangzhou, seven years inside...

China Landslide: Families' Frustration Grows as More Than 100 Feared Dead

Guardian
Families affected by huge slip that buried Xinmo village say they are concerned by a lack of information and the fate of orphaned children

China Drive to Relocate Millions of Rural Poor Runs into Trouble

Tom Hancock
Financial Times
Villagers return home after struggling with lack of jobs in urban apartments

Books

06.01.17

Welfare, Work, and Poverty

Qin Gao
Welfare, Work, and Poverty provides the first systematic and comprehensive evaluation of the impacts and effectiveness of China’s primary social assistance program—the “dibao,” or “Minimum Livelihood Guarantee”—since its inception in 1993. The dibao serves the dual function of providing a basic safety net for the poor and maintaining social and political stability. Despite currently being the world’s largest welfare program in terms of population coverage, evidence on the dibao’s performance has been lacking. This book offers important new empirical evidence and draws policy lessons that are timely and useful for both China and beyond. Specifically, author Qin Gao addresses the following questions:How effective has the dibao been in targeting the poor and alleviating poverty?Have dibao recipients been dependent on welfare or able to move from welfare to work?How has the dibao affected recipients’ consumption patterns and subjective well-being?Do they use dibao subsidies to meet survival needs (such as food, clothing, and shelter) or to invest in human capital (such as health and education)?Are they distressed by the stigma associated with receiving dibao, or do they become more optimistic about the future and enjoy greater life satisfaction because of dibao support?And finally, what policy lessons can we learn from the existing evidence in order to strengthen and improve the dibao in the future?Answers to these questions not only help us gain an in-depth understanding of the dibao’s performance, but also add the Chinese case to the growing international literature on comparative welfare studies. Welfare, Work, and Poverty is essential reading for political scientists, economists, sociologists, public policy researchers, and social workers interested in learning about and understanding contemporary China. —Oxford University Press{chop}Related Reading:“Welfare, Work, and Poverty: How Effective is Social Assistance in China?,” by Qin Gao, China Policy Institute: Analysis

Caixin Media

05.05.17

Belt and Road: A Symphony in Need of a Strong Conductor

In just a few weeks, the Chinese president will host the Belt and Road summit—Xi Jinping’s landmark program to invest billions of dollars in infrastructure projects across Asia, Africa, and Europe. Reactions to the project have been, understandably...

Video

04.19.17

Trafficked into Wedlock

Yan Cong
When Buntha left Cambodia to marry a Chinese man, she did so for money, not for love.Thirty-two years old at the time, and never married, she had few opportunities to earn money for her family in her village in Kampong Cham, Cambodia. The China she...

Xinhua Insight: Procedures unveiled for birth of Xiongan New Area

Xinhua
Plans for Xiongan New Area, an economic zone about 100 kilometers south of Beijing, are becoming more clear. President Xi Jinping said, “The capital's core functions should be preserved and strengthened, and some inappropriate functions...

Xiongan District Becomes Hot Property in China

BBC
A sleepy district in Hebei province has suddenly become the center of China’s latest property craze and the talk of the country.

Depth of Field

03.22.17

Refugees from Myanmar, Migrant Workers, and the Lantern Festival

Ye Ming, Yan Cong & more from Yuanjin Photo
This month, we feature galleries published in February that showcase photographers’ interest in China’s borders and its medical woes, the lives of its minorities and their traditions and customs, and—in the case of Dustin Shum’s work—in a visual...

Books

03.08.17

The Killing Wind

Tan Hecheng, translated by Stacy Mosher and Guo Jian
Over the course of 66 days in 1967, more than 4,000 “class enemies”—including young children and the elderly—were murdered in Daoxian, a county in China’s Hunan province. The killings spread to surrounding counties, resulting in a combined death toll of more than 9,000. Commonly known as the Daoxian massacre, the killings were one of many acts of so-called mass dictatorship and armed factional conflict that rocked China during the Cultural Revolution. However, in spite of the scope and brutality of the killings, there are few detailed accounts of mass killings in China’s countryside during the Cultural Revolution’s most tumultuous years.Years after the massacre, journalist Tan Hecheng was sent to Daoxian to report on an official investigation into the killings. Tan was prevented from publishing his findings in China, but in 2010, he published the Chinese edition of The Killing Wind in Hong Kong. Tan’s first-hand investigation of the atrocities, accumulated over the course of more than 20 years, blends his research with the recollections of survivors to provide a vivid account exploring how and why the massacre took place and describing its aftermath. Dispelling the heroic aura of class struggle, Tan reveals that most of the Daoxian massacre’s victims were hard-working, peaceful members of the rural middle class blacklisted as landlords or rich peasants. Tan also describes how political pressure and brainwashing turned ordinary people into heartless killing machines.More than a catalog of horrors, The Killing Wind is also a poignant meditation on memory, moral culpability, and the failure of the Chinese government to come to terms with the crimes of the Maoist era. By painting a detailed portrait of this massacre, Tan makes a broader argument about the long-term consequences of the Cultural Revolution, one of the most violent political movements of the twentieth century. A compelling testament to the victims and survivors of the Daoxian massacre, The Killing Wind is a monument to historical truth—one that fills an immense gap in our understanding of the Mao era, the Cultural Revolution, and the status of truth in contemporary China. —Oxford University Press{chop}

How China’s Insatiable Demand for Timber Threatens Congo’s Rainforests

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
In this episode, award-winning Shanghai-based environmental journalist Shi Yi joins Eric and Cobus to discuss the emerging crisis over the illegal trade of Congolese bloodwood. She recently reported on how surging demand in China is fueling...

When the Chinese Were Unspeakable

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
The Xiao River rushes deep and clear out of the mountains of southern China into a narrow plain of paddies and villages. At first little more than an angry stream, it begins to meander and grow as the basin’s 63 other creeks and brooks flow into it...

Depth of Field

01.17.17

House Calls on the Tibetan Plateau, Children of Divorce, Celebrity Secrets

Yan Cong, Ye Ming & more from Yuanjin Photo
In the final galleries of 2016, the publishing juggernaut Tencent again shows its leadership in the documentary photography space, but iFeng’s choice to publish a personal photo gallery by Zhou Xin is also worth a good look, especially since...

Migrant-School Students Face Difficulty Getting Into College, Study Finds

Chen Shaoyuan and Li Rongde
Less than 6% of students in Beijing schools for migrant children entered college. In local public schools, 60% did

Environment

11.16.16

The Future of Public Interest Litigation in China

from chinadialogue
China has seen a rapid growth in environmental public interest legal challenges since January 2015, when a revised version of the Environmental Protection Law (EPL) came into effect. Nearly 100 lawsuits have been filed by both NGOs and public...

Depth of Field

11.08.16

Dongbei’s Last Match Factory, Capital Straphangers, Retracing the Long March...

Yan Cong, Ye Ming & more from Yuanjin Photo
In October, several publications marked the 80th Anniversary of the Chinese Communists’ Long March. We have chosen two stories that revisited this event and that were standouts, visually. Elsewhere, photographers followed stories both large and...

Books

11.04.16

Land of Fish and Rice

Fuchsia Dunlop
The lower Yangtze region, or Jiangnan, with its modern capital Shanghai, has been known since ancient times as a “land of fish and rice.” For centuries, local cooks have harvested the bounty of its lakes, rivers, fields, and mountains to create a cuisine renowned for its delicacy and beauty. In Land of Fish and Rice, Fuchsia Dunlop draws on years of study and exploration to present the recipes, techniques, and ingredients of the Jiangnan kitchen. You will be inspired to try classic dishes such as Beggar’s Chicken and sumptuous Dongpo Pork, as well as fresh, simple recipes such as Clear-Steamed Sea Bass and Fresh Soybeans with Pickled Greens. Evocatively written and featuring stunning recipe photography, this is an important new work celebrating one of China’s most fascinating culinary regions. —W.W. Norton{chop}

China Land Reform Opens Door to Corporate Farming

Lucy Hornby
Financial Times
Move to bring capital into large-scale agriculture keeps bar on individual ownership

Resettling China’s 'Ecological Migrants'

Edward Wong and Josh Haner
New York Times
These are the people the government has relocated from lands distressed by climate change, industrialization, and poor policies to hastily built villages

Living in China’s Expanding Deserts

Josh Haner, Edward Wong, Derek Watkins...
New York Times
People on the edges of the country’s vast seas of sand are being displaced by climate change

Poignant Portraits Show What it is Like Being LGBT in China

Kenneth Dickerman
Washington Post
Despite being decriminalized in 1997, homosexuality is still heavily stigmatized in China.

America’s Best Idea May Now Be China’s Too, as It Expands It’s National Park System

Jessica Meyers
Los Angeles Times
With U.S. guidance, China is launching a pilot project that spans nine provinces

Mother’s Killing of 4 Children Reveals Cracks in Anti-Poverty Drive

Li Rongde, Xiao Hui, Huang Ziyi, and...
Corruption, red tape has led to most vulnerable citizens receiving little help

A New Literary Genre Critiques the Scariest Part of Life in China: Reality

Adrienne Matei
Quartz
Enter chaohuan, the "ultra-unreal"...

Media

09.14.16

The Chinese Democratic Experiment that Never Was

David Wertime
Protesters in southern China are up in arms. They feel that Beijing’s promises that they’d be able to vote for their own local leaders have been honored in the breach. They’re outraged at the show of force in the face of peaceful protest, and...

Depth of Field

09.12.16

African Migrants in Guangzhou, Forgetting, Family Planning’s Fate, and More...

Yan Cong, Ye Ming & more from Yuanjin Photo
Photographing the aftermath of catastrophic events is challenging—one that photographer Mu Li handles with creativity and grace looking back at the chemical explosion in Tianjin that damaged as many as 17,000 homes August 12, 2015. Another challenge...

Other

08.23.16

The Abigail Cohen Fellowship in Documentary Photography

In 2014, ChinaFile and the Magnum Foundation founded the Abigail Cohen Fellowship in Documentary Photography to support photographers working to address pressing social issues impacting China and its relations with the world that have not received...

China’s Coal Towns Are Literally Sinking

Scott Cendrowski
Fortune
Hundreds of thousands are being moved from regions made unsafe from coal companies.

China Pledges to Cut Size of Its Massive Fishing Fleet Due to Serious Threat to Nation’s Fish Stocks

Stephen Chen
South China Morning Post
The government said there were practically “no fish” in the coastal East China Sea.

Caixin Media

08.02.16

Revival, Resistance for National Pension Push

Bridging the “regional divide” that separates affluent and less affluent areas is a main goal as the central government revives a stalled effort to form a nationwide pension system.The State Council, China’s cabinet, laid the groundwork for a...

Historic Flooding Costs China $44.7 Billion So Far This Year

Wade Shepard
Forbes
’Ruthless’ urbanization takes its toll.

China’s Short-Changing Its Future

Christopher Balding
Bloomberg
One of the most critical tasks is developing a workforce for the 21st century.

Environment

07.14.16

South China Faces Worst Floods in Decades

from chinadialogue
It’s like someone poked a hole in the sky, the rain just keeps pouring down, you can’t breathe,” said Mrs Wu from Donghu, a district in Wuhan a city in central China with over 10 million residents. Mrs Wu lives in Chunshuli, an affluent neighborhood...

Depth of Field

07.01.16

Tornados and Drag Queens

Ye Ming, Yan Cong & more from Yuanjin Photo
Being a photojournalist involves reacting to breaking news, a dedication to long-term projects, and everything in between. This month’s showcase of work by Chinese photographers published in Chinese media underscores this range of angles: from the...

‘Destined to Disappear’: The Last Generation of China’s ‘Bang-Bang’ Army

Chris Buckley
New York Times
Itinerant porters face a vocational extinction in the towering hills of Chongqing....

Conversation

06.24.16

Is Europe Prepared to Deal with the China Challenge?

Mikko Huotari, Jan Gaspers & more
Chinese President Xi Jinping is on a grand tour of the western end of the “New Silk Road,” in visits to Serbia and Poland this week before he returns to Beijing via Uzbekistan, a more eastern outpost on China’s expanding 21st Century trade route. Xi...

Skepticism in China After Wukan Confession

Chun Han Wong
Wall Street Journal
Chinese protesters are not convinced by Mr. Lin’s video confession.....

Chinese Official Whose Arrest Stirred Protests Confesses To Taking Bribes

Austin Ramzy
New York Times
Mr. Lin is detained on suspicion of recieving bribes and abuse of power....

Books

06.22.16

Tibetan Environmentalists in China

Liu Jianqiang
This book weaves together the life stories of five extraordinary contemporary Tibetans involved in environmental protection (as well as a host of secondary characters): Tashi Dorje, a well-known and celebrated environmentalist; Karma Samdrup, a philanthropist, businessman, and environmentalist; Rinchen Samdrup, Karma’s brother, another extraordinary environmentalist; Gendun, a painter, historian, and researcher from Amdo; and Musuo, a Tibetan from the Dechin area of northwest Yunnan who founded the Khawakarpo Culture Society.In the politically fraught and ever-worsening situation for Tibetans within China today, it is often said that the only possible path for a better solution will be through a change in the way that the majority Chinese society thinks about and understands Tibetans, their aspirations, histories, and desires. This book provides the first such account by drawing readers in with beautiful narrative prose and fascinating stories, and then using their attention to demystify Tibetans, cultivating in the reader a sense of empathy as well as facts upon which to rebuild an intercultural understanding. It is the first work that seriously aims to let the Chinese public understand Tibetans as both products of an admirable culture and as complex individuals negotiating religious ideals, economic change, and sociopolitical constraints. In short it opens up a whole new way of understanding Tibet. —Rowman & Littlefield/Lexington Books {chop}

Hundreds of Residents of South China 'Rebel' Village Protest, Poised for Showdown

James Pomfret
Reuters
Villagers called for the return of seized land and the release of a former protest leader who was elected village chief in 2012.

Media

05.31.16

Will China’s ‘Taobao Villages’ Spur a Rural Revolution?

from chinadialogue
The province of Shanxi, in northern China, is famous for coal mining, and the industry’s impact is etched across the landscape. But the province’s southern counties, which lie near the Yellow River, are known for a very different commodity—red dates...

Depth of Field

05.31.16

Families, Weddings, and Beekeepers

Ye Ming, Yan Cong & more from Yuanjin Photo
This month’s Depth of Field column brings the stories of Chinese adoption; the marriage ceremony of Hu Mingliang and Sun Wenlin, a gay couple who filed the first civil rights marriage lawsuit to be accepted by a Chinese court (they lost); beekeepers...

Green Space

05.11.16

The Dark Side of Country Life

Michael Zhao
The last time we peeked at Lei Hu’s photo blog, Lei was giving us a cheery look at a China that we rarely get to see: the countryside and its beauty. But there’s a dark side to country life in China, as well, and a new blog post from Lei explores...

China to Relocate Two Million People in Bid to Tackle Poverty

Neil Connor
Telegraph
People from poverty-stricken communities are relocated to more developed urban areas as part of a wide-ranging plan to tackle poverty.

In Sichuan Province, an Artisan Retreats to China’s Past

Jonah M. Kessel
New York Times
Hanshan, an ethnic Miao, survives by selling the clothing he dyes to the same people he considers too materialistic.

Depth of Field

04.29.16

April’s Best Chinese Photojournalism

Yan Cong, Ye Ming & more from Yuanjin Photo
Over the past few weeks, the publications Sina, Tencent, Caixin, China Youth Daily, and the publishing duo Sixth Tone/The Paper published photo stories on the intimate, the industrial, the private, and the political. Journalists Yan Cong and Ye Ming...

China Sees Childhood Obesity 'Explosion' in Rural Provinces

Sarah Whitten
CNBC
The study cites three major reasons for the uptick in childhood obesity: cultural background, poor diet and and a lack of physical activity.

Depth of Field

04.03.16

Meet ‘Depth of Field’: The Month’s Best Chinese Photojournalism

Yan Cong, Ye Ming & more from Yuanjin Photo
Welcome to ChinaFile’s inaugural “Depth of Field” column. In collaboration with Yuanjin Photo, an independent photo blog published by photographers Yan Cong and Ye Ming on the Chinese social media platform WeChat, we will highlight new and...

Caixin Media

04.01.16

China’s Rural Youngsters Drop Out of School at Alarming Rate

Like many other teenagers in his village in the mountains of the northwestern province of Shaanxi, Chen Youliang decided to quit school early so he could follow in the footsteps of his migrant worker parents and find a job in a big city.Chen, who...

China Premier Urges More Efforts in Restive Uighur Heartland

Ben Blanchard
Reuters
China's violence-prone region of Xinjiang needs to make more efforts at development to ensure young people have "something to do and money to earn."...

Sinica Podcast

02.09.16

Sauced: American Cooking in China

Kaiser Kuo & David Moser from Sinica Podcast
Kaiser Kuo and David Moser are joined this week by Howie Southworth and Greg Matza, creators of the independent video series “Sauced in Translation,” a reality show that journeys into the wilder parts of China in search of local Chinese specialties...

Chinese New Year Fireworks So Dangerous That Only Few Get to Witness

Karson Yiu
ABC
In Nuanquan village, there is traditional a pyrotechnic display so unique and dangerous that it is still only found here.

Invisible Bridges

Peter Hessler, photo by Davide...
New Yorker
Over the past two centuries, there have been periodic tensions between Russia and China, including some serious border conflicts, and historically Russia has usually held the upper hand. But nowadays, at the personal level, Monteleone notices a...