China Might Be Killing Off a Pikachu-Like Animal For No Reason

Kayla Ruble
Vice News
The animated yellow rodent-like character, Pikachu, from the Pokémon video game and TV franchise, is not a total work of fiction. In fact, many believe the creature is based off of a small mousey animal found in China known as a pika.

Myanmar Returns to What Sells: Heroin

Thomas Fuller
New York Times
A decade ago, Myanmar seemed on course to wipe out the opium fields and heroin jungle labs along its eastern border, the notorious Golden Triangle.

Inside a Chinese Test-Prep Factory

Brook Larmer
New York Times
One minute later, at precisely 11:45, the stillness was shattered. Thousands of teenagers swarmed out of the towering front gate of Maotanchang High School. Many of them wore identical black-and-white Windbreakers emblazoned with the slogan, in...

Other

12.30.14

A Look Back at 2014

It’s hard to believe, but ChinaFile is almost two years old. It’s been an exciting year for us, and, as ever, an eventful year for China. It was a year of muscular leadership from Xi Jinping, who has now been in office just over two years and who...

China’s Mountain Hermits Seek a Highway to Heaven

Tom Hancock
Agence France-Presse
His unheated hut is half way up a mountain with no electricity, and his diet consists mostly of cabbage. But Master Hou says he has found a recipe for joy. "There is no happier way for a person to live on this earth," he declared,...

Video

12.15.14

Down to the Countryside

Sun Yunfan & Leah Thompson
The world has heard much of late about the scale and scope of China’s mass migration from the poor rural countryside to its booming cities. Some think the number of these migrant workers will soon reach some 400 million souls. They have created...

Earthbound China

12.15.14

A Map of China’s Back-to-the-Land Efforts

Leah Thompson
In our short film “Down to the Countryside,” Sun Yunfan and I follow Ou Ning, an artist and curator who moved from Beijing to the village of Bishan in rural Anhui province in 2013, where he experiments with preserving and revitalizing local heritage...

China’s Water Diversion Project Starts to Flow to Beijing

Jonathan Kaiman
Guardian
The project has roots in an offhand comment by Mao Zedong who, on an inspection tour in the early 1950s, said: “The south has plenty of water, but the north is dry. If we could borrow some, that would be good.”

Infographics

11.20.14

Who Really Benefits from Poverty Alleviation in China?

from Sohu
A series of reports issued by China's National Audit Office highlights problems in 19 counties that have received funding from national poverty alleviation programs. News of "impoverished counties’" constructing luxurious new...

China Warns Tibet Party Members Not to Harbor Separatist “Fantasies” about Dalai Lama

Reuters
Reuters
"As for cadres who harbor fantasies about the 14th Dalai Group, follow the Dalai Group, participate in supporting separatist infiltration sabotage activities, (they will be) strictly and severely punished according to the law and party...

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.

China Officials “Buy Corpses to Meet Cremation Quota”

BBC
BBC
Two officials in Guangdong province have been arrested after they allegedly bought corpses from grave robbers to have them cremated, Chinese media say.

India-China Border Standoff: High in the Mountains, Thousands of Troops Go Toe-to-Toe

Gordon Fairclough
Wall Street Journal
The mountain standoff lasted weeks and at times involved tense shoving-and-shouting matches, according to Indian border-patrol troopers who participated. Both armies called in helicopters. The scale and duration of the clash are signs of mounting...

Environment

10.23.14

Tibetan Plateau Faces Massive ‘Ecosystem Shift’

from chinadialogue
Large areas of grasslands, alpine meadows, wetlands, and permafrost will disappear on the Tibetan plateau by 2050, with serious implications for environmental security in China and South Asia, a research paper published by scientists at the Kunming...

Unrest in China Leaves 22 Dead Following Xinjiang Attack

Lucy Hornby
Financial Times
A new ethnic clash in the restive region of Xinjiang, on China’s central Asian frontier, saw 22 people killed after Uighur assailants attacked Han Chinese merchants at a wholesale food market near the border with Kyrgyzstan. 

China Launches Massive Rural ‘Surveillance’ Project to Watch Over Uighurs

Tom Phillips
Telegraph
They arrived at the fringes of China's modern day empire in early March, setting up base in a family planning center with riot shields, helmets and two sharp 6-foot spears propped up inside the front door...

Environment

10.16.14

‘Paranoia’ and Public Opinion

Sam Geall from chinadialogue
When permits for Chinese researchers to grow genetically modified rice and corn expired this summer, there was concern. More so, given there was little indication that the Ministry of Agriculture would renew them.The certificates, issued in 2009,...

Once a Symbol of Power, Farming Now an Economic Drag in China

Ian Johnson
New York Times
Frustrated by how little they earn, the ablest farmers have migrated to cities, hollowing out this rural district in the Chinese heartland.

The Kitchen Network

Lauren Hilgers
New Yorker
“Customers are here already!” the restaurant’s owner, a wiry Chinese man in his fifties, barked. He dropped a heavy container onto the metal counter with a crash. “How can you possibly be moving this slowly?”

Tibet in Sichuan

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

Books

09.02.14

Cities and Stability

Jeremy L. Wallace
China's management of urbanization is an under-appreciated factor in the regime's longevity. The Chinese Communist Party fears "Latin Americanization"—the emergence of highly unequal megacities with their attendant slums and social unrest. Such cities threaten the survival of nondemocratic regimes. To combat the threat, many regimes, including China's, favor cities in policymaking. Cities and Stability shows this "urban bias" to be a Faustian Bargain: cities may be stabilized for a time, but the massive in-migration from the countryside that results can generate the conditions for political upheaval. Through its hukou system of internal migration restrictions, China has avoided this dilemma, simultaneously aiding urbanites and keeping farmers in the countryside. The system helped prevent social upheaval even during the Great Recession, when tens of millions of laid-off migrant workers dispersed from coastal cities. Jeremy Wallace's powerful account forces us to rethink the relationship between cities and political stability throughout the developing world. —Oxford University Press {chop}

Can China Save Africa's Elephants?

Adam Minter
Bloomberg
Poaching has not only reduced elephant populations, but it has also become unsustainable. The problem, beyond how many elephants are being killed, is the lack of surviving males in their prime years.

Caixin Media

08.19.14

A Chinese Town’s Imported Cambodian Brides

It is a hot and sticky midsummer day in a small village along the Chang River in the eastern province of Jiangxi. The most popular spot is in front of the local grocery where a few women are playing mahjong as children chase each other around...

China Tells Citizens to Walk, Bike, and Snitch in “United Struggle” to Breathe Easier

Lily Kuo
Quartz
The environmental ministry has published a set of guidelines for citizens, which encourage them not only to reduce their personal environmental imprint, but to also turn in polluting and wasteful neighbors. 

Video

08.12.14

Chinese Dreamers

Sharron Lovell & Tom Wang
A dream, in the truest sense, is a solo act. It can’t be created by committee or replicated en masse. Try as you might, you can’t compel your neighbor to conjure up the reverie that you envision. And therein lies the latent, uncertain energy in the...

Environment

07.17.14

The Legacy of Hunan’s Polluted Soils

from chinadialogue
This is the second of a special three-part series of investigations jointly run by chinadialogue and Yale Environment 360 with the support of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. You can also read parts one and three.Cao Fushe spent much of 2013...

Environment

06.12.14

The Dead Swans of Dongting Lake

from chinadialogue
I’ve lost track of how many nights I spent traveling to Dongting Lake, a large, shallow lake in Hunan province, central China, famed for being the origin of dragon-boat racing.In mid-January 2013 I met the Yueyang River Porpoise Conservation Society...

Sinica Podcast

06.06.14

Rice, Wheat, and Air Filters

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, we're delighted to be joined by Thomas Talhelm, Ph.D. candidate in psychology at the University of Virginia and author of a recent paper proposing a fascinating connection between rice and wheat-growing communities, and...

Get Rich or Die Trying: The Chinese Herbal Medicine "Death Sentence" in Uganda

James Wan
Think Africa Press
200,000 Ugandans have signed up to a company believing it will cure all their illnesses and help them make a fortune. But it is more likely to do the opposite.

Video

05.28.14

Staying Afloat

Lynn Zhang & Shirley Han Ying
In “Staying Afloat: Life on a Disappearing Lake,” Chinese filmmakers Lynn Zhang and Shirley Han Ying train their camera on the people who have been both perpetrators and victims of Lake Baiyangdian’s decline in water supply. They show us not just...

Mapping the Four C's of Chinese Wealth

Warner Brown
Live in a city near China's coast, and in a capital. (Coal doesn't hurt.)...

Caixin Media

04.01.14

Eviction by Arson: Land-Seizure Turns Deadly

A village head and the boss of a building company were among the seven people arrested over an arson attack on a protest against a land seizure in Shandong Province in which one man died and three others were hurt.The government of Pingdu, a county...

Environment

03.11.14

It’s Time to Cooperate on the Yarlung Tsangpo

Isabel Hilton from chinadialogue
This is part of a special series of articles produced by thethirdpole.net on the future of the Yarlung Tsangpo river—one of the world’s great transboundary rivers—which starts on the Tibetan Plateau before passing through India and Bangladesh.The...

Environment

02.20.14

Pollution Tax Suggested for Wealthy Chinese Fleeing for Greener Pastures

from chinadialogue
Environmental problems have become an important factor causing the rich to leave China—but one academic has now suggested that they should first pay an environmental levy. Chen Guoen, a professor at Wuhan University, said that some Western...

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...

In China, ‘Once the Villages Are Gone, the Culture Is Gone’

Ian Johnson
New York Times
Across China, cultural traditions like the Lei family’s music are under threat. Rapid urbanization means village life, the bedrock of Chinese culture, is rapidly disappearing, and with it, traditions and history.

Malaria Eradication—Cure All?

Economist
A novel approach, using drugs from a South China company, instead of insecticides, may make it easier to eliminate malaria. But it is not without controversy.

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...

The End of China’s One-Child Policy? An Interview with Mei Fong

Jeffrey Wasserstrom
Dissent
What exactly did the recent Third Plenum reveal about China’s strategy for dealing with the “One-Child Policy?” Questions for Mei Fong, a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter working on a book about the policy.

Environment

11.27.13

Life in the Shadow of the Mekong Dams

from chinadialogue
This is the second in a two-part special report on the resettlement rights of villagers displaced by dams along the Mekong (Lancang) River. Part one is an analysis of how China’s resettlement policies are playing out on the ground. Part two, below,...

In China, Rural Elderly Are Being Left Behind (Slideshow)

Qilai Shen
Washington Post
Tens of millions older Chinese are struggling with poverty and loneliness as their children flee villages for cities. Decades of societal turmoil — radical communism followed by rampant capitalism — have frayed the ties that once bound the nation’s...

As Chinese Farmers Fight for Homes, Suicide Is Ultimate Protest

Ian Johnson
New York Times
Farmers are increasingly thrown off their land by officials eager to find new sources of economic growth. The tensions are especially acute on the edge of big Chinese cities, and more and more people are resorting to suicide to protest the...

400 Million Cannot Speak Mandarin

Reuters
China’s governing Communist Party has promoted Mandarin for decades to unite a nation with thousands of dialects and numerous minority languages, but that campaign has been hampered by resistance, the country’s size and lack of investment in...

Visitors Flock to China’s ‘Kingdom of Women’

Nicola Davison
Guardian
Lugu Lake, situated in the mountains on the border between Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, is the historical home of the Mosuo, an ethnic minority with a population of 40,000 that forms one of the last matrilineal societies on Earth.&nbsp...

Conversation

08.15.13

What Should China Do to Reverse its Tourism Deficit?

Leah Thompson, Damien Ma & more
Recent news stories and industry studies show that fewer international visitors are choosing China as their destination. January-June arrivals in Beijing are down 15% from the same period in 2012 and more Chinese than ever before are spending their...

The Abuse of China’s 'left-behind' Children

Yuwen Wu
BBC
A series of disturbing revelations in China’s state media about the sexual abuse of school children has exposed the dark side of life in rural areas where parents leave their homes to earn money as migrant workers.

Caixin Media

08.12.13

China’s Urban Sludge Dilemma: Sinking in Stink

Promptly at noon on March 17, a heavy truck hauling a dark substance and on a dark mission pulled out of the Gaobeidian Wastewater Treatment Plant in eastern Beijing.A wastewater treatment engineer helped a Caixin reporter identify the unusual load...

Caixin Media

08.05.13

County in Shaanxi in a Deep Hole as Mining Bubble Pops

A financial crisis triggered by falling coal prices is brewing in Shenmu County, in the northwestern province of Shaanxi.Construction projects have been halted, universal health care has run into payment problems and many private bankers have...

From Cities To Farms: Is Agriculture The Next Boom For China?

Offbeat China
With some 6.99 million fresh graduates, 2013 is said to be the toughest year for China’s new graduates to land a job. But job hunting isn’t a concern for design-majored Chen and his girlfriend Du. The young couple, who just rented 1.5 acres of land...

China’s Cordgrass Plan Is ‘Overkill’

Jane Qiu
Nature
The plant in question is Spartina alterniflora, or cordgrass. In 1979, the plant was introduced to China because its roots can trap sediment, making it ideal for erosion control and land reclamation. Since then, the weed has spread rapidly...

Caixin Media

07.29.13

Why a Reporter Feels Sympathy for an Airport Bomber

These past few years as a reporter, I have met some people with nothing left to live for and now another person can be added to the list. Ji Zhongxing, the disabled man who set off a bomb in a Beijing airport on July 20, is that person.Ji and I are...

China's Bad Earth

Josh Chin, Brian Spegele
Wall Street Journal
Industrialization has turned much of the Chinese countryside into an environmental disaster zone, threatening not only the food supply but the legitimacy of the regime itself.      

Features

07.24.13

Carried Off

Charlie Custer
In March 2011, Rose Candis had the worst lunch of her life. Sitting at a restaurant in Shaoguan, a small city in South China, the American mother tried hard not to vomit while her traveling companion translated what the man they were eating with had...

Earthquake: Death Toll From Strong Temblor Hits 94

Huffington Post
About 123,000 people were affected by the quake, with 31,600 moved to temporary shelters, the provincial earthquake administration said on its website. Almost 2,000 homes were completely destroyed, and about 22,500 damaged. 

Pitfalls Abound in China’s Push From Farm to City

Ian Johnson
New York Times
Li Yongping is directing one of the largest peacetime population transfers in history: the removal of 2.4 million farmers from mountain areas in the central Chinese province of Shaanxi to low-lying towns, many built from scratch on other farmers’...

China’s Great Uprooting: Moving 250 Million Into Cities

Ian Johnson
New York Times
The ultimate goal of the government’s modernization plan is to fully integrate 70 percent of the country’s population, or roughly 900 million people, into city living by 2025. Currently, only half that number are.   &...

Books

06.04.13

Strange Stones

Peter Hessler
During the past decade, Peter Hessler has persistently illuminated worlds both foreign and familiar—ranging from China, where he served as The New Yorker’s correspondent from 2000 to 2007, to southwestern Colorado, where he lived for four years. Strange Stones is an engaging, thought-provoking collection of Hessler’s best pieces, showcasing his range as a storyteller and his gift for writing as both native and knowledgeable outsider. From a taste test between two rat restaurants in South China to a profile of Yao Ming to the moving story of a small-town pharmacist, these pieces are bound by subtle but meaningful ideas: the strength of local traditions, the surprising overlap between cultures, and the powerful lessons drawn from individuals who straddle different worlds.Full of unforgettable figures and an unrelenting spirit of adventure, Strange Stones is a dazzling display of the powerful storytelling, shrewd cultural insight, and warm sense of humor that are the trademarks of Peter Hessler’s work. —Harper Collins{node, 3320, 4}