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}

Excerpts

05.29.13

Every Thousand Years

Dan Washburn
There are no guardrails on the road to Qixin. And there is only one other way to the top of the mountain—a four-hour hike. It was February, and the ice and snow from Guizhou’s winter storms had recently melted, leaving the famously treacherous cliff...

China’s Brutal One-Child Policy

Ma Jian
New York Times
In the countryside, where the need for extra hands to help in the fields and the deeply entrenched patriarchal desire for a male heir have created strong resistance to population control measures, officials has been merciless. 

Media

05.22.13

On “Strange Stones,” a Discussion with Peter Hessler

Peter Hessler, Michael Meyer & more
On May 21st at the Asia Society in New York City, Peter Hessler, author of the recently published Strange Stones: Dispatches from East and West, discussed his book and a decade of writing about China and elsewhere with author, Michael Meyer and...

Five Years After Quake, Chinese Cite Shoddy Reconstruction

Louisa Lim
NPR
Five years after the massive Wenchuan quake in China’s Sichuan province left about 90,000 dead and missing, allegations are surfacing that corruption and official wrongdoing have plagued the five-year-long quake reconstruction effort. 

Video

05.15.13

The Reborn of Beichuan

Zijian Mu
The Sichuan earthquake that struck this mountainous region on May 12, 2008 killed an estimated 90,000 people, including thousands of children. For many families in China, losing one child means losing an only child. The Reborn of Beichuan follows...

Conversation

05.14.13

Why Can’t China Make Its Food Safe?—Or Can It?

Alex Wang, John C. Balzano & more
The month my wife and I moved to Beijing in 2004, I saw a bag of oatmeal at our local grocery store prominently labeled: “NOT POLLUTED!” How funny that this would be a selling point, we thought.But 7 years later as we prepared to return to the US,...

Caixin Media

05.04.13

Earth Moves, China Rallies

Rapeseed was ripening in the lush fields ringing the village of Renjia when a local farmer, forced from his home, stepped into the sea of green stalks and pitched a tent.Less than a day earlier, the farmer and each of his more than 3,000 neighbors...

China’s Ancient Lifeline

Ian Johnson
National Geographic
Over time, the Grand Canal did more than move grain—it was a potent political symbol in being the country’s unifying feature and acted as a cultural conduit connecting North and South. Johnson deatils his journey with one barge on a southbound coal...

Mother Loses Son, Then Daughter In Both Sichuan Earthquakes

Chris Luo
South China Morning Post
Life has not been fair for 50-year-old Lu Jingkang, who lost her teenage daughter in the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that hit Yaan on April 20, 2013. Barely five years earlier, she lost her son in the other catastrophic Sichuan earthquake, in...

The Silk Road Of Pop

Sameer Farooq
Smoke Signal Projects
The film follows the trails left by a young Uyghur female named Ay and her interest in music, documenting her influences and portraying her musical idols in northwestern China. 

Earthbound China

04.11.13

Moving House: Preserving Huizhou’s Vernacular Architecture

Leah Thompson & Sun Yunfan
In 1996, art historian Nancy Berliner, working with the Peabody Essex Museum, purchased a vacant Qing dynasty merchant’s house from the Huizhou region of China and, piece by piece, moved it to the United States to be meticulously reconstructed at...

Earthbound China

04.11.13

There Goes the Neighborhood

Sun Yunfan & Leah Thompson
When, in 1996, art historian Nancy Berliner purchased a late Qing dynasty merchants’ house from Huangcun, a village in Anhui province, it was just one ordinary house among thousands like it in the picturesque Huizhou region of China. It took...

Environment

04.10.13

Writing Yunnan a Rubber Check

Chris Horton
Our van stopped at a scenic vista on the contour road where verdant mountains undulated southward toward China’s border with Laos. Stepping out to take some photos, I was overcome by an acrid, unpleasant odor. I asked my local travel partner, Xiao...

China’s Urban Refugees: Leaving Pollution, City Life Behind

Rob Schmitz
Marketplace
Many educated Chinese urbanites have left the city and their jobs for a slower and cleaner life in the mountains of Western China. 

Viewpoint

03.19.13

For Many in China, the One Child Policy is Already Irrelevant

Leslie T. Chang
Before getting pregnant with her second child, Lu Qingmin went to the family-planning office to apply for a birth permit. Officials in her husband’s Hunan village where she was living turned her down, but she had the baby anyway. She may eventually...

Caixin Media

03.16.13

Spin of a Crooked Record

Hundreds of villagers in Hebei province discovered they were victims of identity theft—and in demanding officials find the culprit, they became the recipients of harassment and legal bills. Instead of seeing a shakeout, the villagers watched...

Will The Middle Class Shake China?

Evan Osnos
New Yorker
A decade after recognizing that the middle class might be a signpost on the way to redemption, the government is failing to enact the will of the people it needs most, and thus it risks losing its greatest bulwark against the change it fears.&...

Return to Rivertown

Peter Hessler
National Geographic
In 1996 a Peace Corps volunteer arrived in Fuling, a sleepy town on the Yangtze, to teach English. He went back recently to find the landscape—and his former students—transformed.

Snakes On a Lane

Global Times
Beneath the creepy exterior lies a misunderstood goddess. What pops up in your mind when it comes to the concept of snake? Cold-blooded, dangerous, sly, or even a symbol of evil? It seems that all words related to it are negative. And even though we...

(Photo essay) Migrant Nation: Liu Jie Docuements China’s Ongoing Transformation

Liu Jie
Time
In 2011, Liu Jie, a Chinese photographer based in Beijing, visited and photographed more than 20 villages in the Chinese countryside, documenting one of the more silent but equally poignant externalities of the Chinese economic miracle: the...

In a Rush to Urbanize, China Flattens 700 Mountains

Calum McLeod
USA Today
China’s shift from a rural to urban society is speeding up development projects, including one where a developer is flattening mountains to build a new city.

Books

01.24.13

Shangri-La

Michael Yamashita
The legendary Chamagudao, the Tea Horse Road, winds through dizzying mountain passes, across famed rivers like the Mekong and the Yangtze, and past monasteries and meadows in a circuitous route from Sichuan and Yunnan provinces in western China to the Tibetan capital city of Lhasa. Actually a network of roads, trails, and highways, rather than one distinct route, the Chamagudao once stretched for almost 1400 miles (2350 km)—a conduit along which the historic trade between the mighty Chinese empire and the nomadic Tibetans linked remote villages and ethnic groups. The Chinese military needed strong horses for their wars against Mongol invaders from the north, and the fiercely religious Tibetans desired tea for sacred rituals and sustenance. Once tea was introduced into Tibet around the 10th century, demand for it grew. Tea soon became a staple for Tibetans, especially when combined with their other staple, yak butter. But with Tibet’s extreme temperatures and altitudes, tea cultivation on a large scale was impossible. This set the stage for the tea-horse trade, which, by the 11th century, flourished along the Chamagudao, continuing until the 1950s. But getting these prized commodities to their growing markets was no easy feat. To transport the tea over the mountains meant many months of hard and dangerous travel for the hundreds of porters.Today, as Chinese culture merges with and even absorbs Tibetan traditions, the Tea Horse Road is a relic of a vastly different time. The Chinese are rapidly paving dirt roads to make highways for cars and trucks. Soon there will be little evidence of this once vital trade route. Though horses are no longer a military imperative for the Chinese army, Tibet has a new commodity that is in much demand in China. A homely caterpillar infected by a parasitic fungus has replaced the horse trade in Tibet. The yartsa gombu is prized for its medicinal qualities. Now Tibetans nomads drive Land Cruisers and motorcycles instead of horses, thanks to the profits they make collecting and selling the miracle mushroom worth more than gold. So trade continues, even though relics of the tea-horse trade are becoming harder to find. Following the Chamagudao, this book is a rare intimate look into the changing world of Tibet—both ancient and modern, sacred and commonplace, the rarefied and the gritty—before the legends and mysteries of the Tea Horse road disappear into the Tibetan mist. —White Star {chop}

Earthbound China

01.23.13

Appalachia Comes to Anhui

Leah Thompson
This past fall, my colleague Sun Yunfan and I were preparing to bring Coal+Ice, the documentary photography exhibition we produce for Asia Society, to rural Anhui Province to participate in the Yixian International Photography Festival. Upon hearing...

Media

01.03.13

How a Run-Down Government Building Became the Hottest Item on China’s Social Web

It is perhaps a sign of the times in China that an image of nothing more than a ramshackle county government building could echo so widely. Since its posting on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter, hours before New Year’s Eve, the image (see below) has been...

Telling China's Stories Through Food

Rebekah Denn
Seattle Times
Former Associated Press reporter Audra Ang, talks about To the People Food is Heaven, her journey through a complicated, sometimes maddening, sometimes breathtaking society.

Caixin Media

12.28.12

Uncertain Future for Architectural Treasures

Nestled between mountains and a winding river in a scenic corner of Shanxi province is Zhongyang County, the home of an exquisite Confucian temple built during the Ming dynasty.The colorful wooden temple graced this idyllic valley for hundreds of...

Buy, Sell, Adopt: Child Trafficking in China

Mark McDonald
New York Times
In the past two and a half years, according to government statistics, some 54,000 children have been rescued from traffickers.

Earthbound China

12.17.12

Unlikely Harvest

Leah Thompson
A little over month ago, I found myself traveling to rural Anhui province. Coal+Ice, the documentary photography exhibition I had produced for Asia Society, had been invited to exhibit at the Yixian International Photography Festival. Logistically,...

Mongolia Finds China Can Be Too Close for Comfort

Charles Hutzler
Associated Press
In a global rush to get rich off China, Mongolia works to ensure that Chinese investment doesn't become Chinese dominance...

Opinion: How Cities Can Save China

Henry Paulson
New York Times
Working on urbanization will foster solutions to the challenges the world faces from China's pressure on ecosystems, resources and commodities. ...

The Hungry Years

Pankaj Mishra
New Yorker
Pankaj Mishra reviews two new books on Mao Zedong and the Great Famine of 1958-62.

Decline of Primary Schools in Rural China: Causes and Consequences

Wenjin Long
China Policy Institute Blog
“Half of rural primary schools have disappeared between 2000 and 2010 and such a trend is still an ongoing process”, says Twenty-first Century Education Research Institution, a NGO based in Beijing. The rapid decline of primary schools in rural...

Caixin Media

12.03.12

When Hope Dies

A nationwide uproar paralleled the investigation that led to the identification of five street children who suffocated in a large rubbish bin in the city of Bijie, Guizhou province.Officials learned the victims were the sons of three brothers. The...

Caixin Media

12.03.12

Toxic Effects and Environmental Nondisclosure

High-profile talk emphasizing environmental action at the Communist Party’s 18th national congress attracted a lot of attention. News from the November proceedings spurred industry demands for more information and pushed stock prices higher for...

Prominent Chinese Activist Blasts Nephew's Conviction

CNN
CNN
Chen Kegui, nephew, of Chen Guangcheng, was convicted of "intentional infliction of injury" during a clash with local officials...

China Sentences Chen Guangcheng's Nephew After Snap Trial

Peter Ford
Christian Science Monitor
The nephew of blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng is sentenced to three years in jail. 

Environment

11.28.12

Russia’s Siberian Dams Power “Electric Boilers” in Beijing

from chinadialogue
The underdeveloped, sparsely populated Eastern Siberia region that shares a 4,000-kilometer border with China has vast resources to offer its heavily populated and fast-developing neighbor. Hydroelectricity is key among them.A major new...

Culture

11.27.12

Remember to Tell the Truth

Maya E. Rudolph
The recording of memory brings history to life and creates a legacy of its own. In 2010, documentary filmmaker Wu Wenguang launched the Memory Project to try to shine a light on the long-shrouded memories of one of modern China’s most traumatic...

Caixin Media

11.26.12

When Tradition is Flattened by Policy

A “tomb-flattening policy” in Henan province has sparked intense controversy, with millions of tombs reportedly destroyed by local authorities in a quest to turn graveyards into farmland.The policy can be seen as a historical extension of land-...

China Crackdown Fuels Tibet Immolations Group

AFP
Agence France-Presse
A crackdown in China's Tibetan areas has fuelled dozens of self-immolations in protest at Beijijng rule, says the International Campaign for Tibet...

China: Worse Than You Ever Imagined

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Last summer I took a trip to Xinyang, a rural area of wheat fields and tea plantations in central China’s Henan province. I met a pastor, a former political prisoner, and together we made a day trip to Rooster Mountain, a onetime summer retreat for...

Recording the Untold Stories of China’s Great Famine

Louisa Lim
NPR
A young man trudges doggedly around his village, notebook in hand, fringe flopping over his glasses. He goes from door to door, calling on the elderly.The young man has one main question: Who died in our village during the Great Famine?This is the...

Seven Tibetan Self-Immolations Hit China in One Week

AFP
Agence France-Presse
Two Tibetans set themselves on fire protesting Beijing's hardline rule, a rights group said...

Books

10.17.12

To the People, Food is Heaven

Audra Ang
In China, life is comfortable for the fortunate few. For others, it’s a hand-to-mouth struggle for a full stomach, a place to live, wages for work done, and freedom to speak openly. It’s a place where few things are more important than food; “Have you eaten yet?” is another way of saying hello. After traversing the country and meeting its people, Ang shares her delicious experiences with us. She tells of a clandestine cup of salty yak butter tea with a Tibetan monk during a military crackdown, and explains how a fluffy spring onion omelet encapsulates China’s drive for rural development. You’ll have lunch with some of the country’s most enduring activists, savor meals with earthquake survivors, and get to know a house cleaner who makes the best fried chicken in all of Beijing. Through her reporting, Ang bites into the gaping divide between rich and poor, urban and rural reform, intolerance for dissent, and the growing dissatisfaction with those in power. By serving these topics to us one at a time through the stories of ordinary citizens, To the People, Food Is Heaven provides a fresh perspective beyond the country’s anonymous identity as an economic powerhouse. Ang plates a terrific, wide-ranging feast that is the new China, a country convulsed by change and propelled by aspiration. Have you eaten yet?  —Lyons Press{chop}

Reports

10.11.12

Standing Their Ground

Amnesty International
The forced eviction of people from their homes and farmland has become a routine occurrence in China and represents a gross violation of China’s international human rights obligations on an enormous scale. Despite international scrutiny and censure...

The End of the Great Migration

Rob Schmitz
Marketplace
China’s great migration started with farmers boarding crowded trains in Sichuan, Henan, and Hubei - poor provinces in China’s interior. A day or two later, they arrived here, along the Pearl River Delta, just north of Hong Kong, and became factory...

Caixin Media

09.28.12

Living on Dangerous Ground

Fractures had long plagued the rocky mountainside next to Huang Daihong’s home. When an earthquake jolted Luozehe County in Yunnan province, Huang watched a large black boulder release a shower of stones that instantly killed her neighbor.The...

Chinese Villagers Threaten Fresh Protests

Rahul Jacob and Zhou Ping
Financial Times
Zhang Jiancheng was a rebel with a cause. His detention with four other protesters in December sparked a stand-off in the southern Chinese village of Wukan, where 13,000 people faced down police in an 11-day siege.After the provincial...

Video

09.18.12

Last Call to Prayer

Kathleen McLaughlin & Sharron Lovell
China’s Hui Muslims are unique in many respects. The country’s second-largest ethnic minority share linguistic and cultural ties with the majority in China that have allowed them to practice their religion with less interference and fewer...

China's Greatest Challenge: Not America, But Itself

Anka Lee
Diplomat
As China’s international profile continues to rise in tandem with its economic and political significance, one might conclude that the Chinese public is likely to expect Xi Jinping to carry a higher profile on the international stage. As the leader...

Polymath’s Paradise: Artist and Cultural Promoter Ou Ning Confronts China’s Out-of-Control Urbanization

Madeleine O’Dea
Blouin Artinfo
When I ask Ou Ning how he would answer that perennial dinner party question, "What do you do?,"  he laughs. It’s not easy for one of China’s true polymaths, but he gives it a try. “I’m a cultural worker,” he offers modestly,...