China Has an Online Lending Crisis and People Are Furious about It

Matt Rivers and Jethro Mullen
CNN
The outcry shines a light on a murky corner of China's financial industry that authorities allowed to grow rapidly with little oversight. Promises of double-digit returns attracted people looking for more lucrative places to put their money...

Walmart and JD.Com Invest $500 Million in a Chinese Online Delivery Company

Saheli Roy Choudhury
CNBC
Dada-JD Daojia was formed from the merger of JD Daojia, which is JD.com's online-to-offline business, and Dada Nexus, a large crowd-sourcing delivery platform in China with operations in more than 400 major cities...

Where China’s Top Leaders Go in Summer and in Secret: A Brief History of Beidaihe

Choi Chi-yuk
South China Morning Post
When state radio reported on Wednesday that Premier Li Keqiang met United Nations General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa in Beidaihe, it was the clearest confirmation that the annual summer gathering of China’s most influential...

Books

08.08.18

Poisonous Pandas

Matthew Kohrman, Gan Quan, Liu Wennan, Robert N. Proctor
Stanford University Press: A favorite icon for cigarette manufacturers across China since the mid-20th century has been the panda, with factories from Shanghai to Sichuan using cuddly cliché to market tobacco products. The proliferation of panda-branded cigarettes coincides with profound, yet poorly appreciated, shifts in the worldwide tobacco trade. Over the last 50 years, transnational tobacco companies and their allies have fueled a tripling of the world’s annual consumption of cigarettes. At the forefront is the China National Tobacco Corporation, now producing 40 percent of cigarettes sold globally. What’s enabled the manufacturing of cigarettes in China to flourish since the time of Mao and to prosper even amidst public health condemnation of smoking?In Poisonous Pandas, an interdisciplinary group of scholars comes together to tell that story. They offer novel portraits of people within the Chinese polity―government leaders, scientists, tax officials, artists, museum curators, and soldiers―who have experimentally revamped the country’s pre-Communist cigarette supply chain and fitfully expanded its political, economic, and cultural influence. These portraits cut against the grain of what contemporary tobacco-control experts typically study, opening a vital new window on tobacco―the single largest cause of preventable death worldwide today.{chop}Related Reading:“In China, Industry Push-Back Stubs out Anti-Smoking Gains,” Christian Shepherd, Reuters, May 31, 2018“China’s Ministry in Charge of Tobacco Control Had Ties to the Tobacco Industry. Not Anymore,” Sidney Leng, South China Morning Post, March 15, 2018“The End of China’s ‘Ashtray Diplomacy’,” Heather Timmons and Quartz, The Atlantic, December 30, 2013“The Political Mapping of China’s Tobacco Industry and Anti-Smoking Campaign,” Cheng Li, Brookings, May 30, 2012Author’s Recommendations:Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, Rob Nixon (Harvard University Press, 2013)Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable?, Judith Butler (Verso; Reprint edition 2010)Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, Giorgio Agamben, Translated by Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford University Press, 1998)

Video

08.08.18

The Window

Zhou Na
I have spent three years collecting accounts and examining how survivors and families have coped since that traumatic event. I document the lingering pain, to resist public forgetting and indifference. Hundreds of photographs bear witness to the...

China Tightens Grip on Foreign University Ventures

Emily Feng
Financial Times
The directive, which took effect last year but whose existence is being revealed for the first time by the Financial Times, mandates foreign education institutions to include a clause that supports the establishment of a party organisation in any...

A Demonstration of Power: China Derails Protests before They Even Begin

Nathan VanderKlippe
Globe and Mail
It was after midnight and the slow train from Chengdu was nearing the end of its 30-hour journey when Ms. Yang decided to make a run for it. She was headed to Beijing to join a protest, but it was becoming clear that the authorities were closing in...

China Stamps Hint at Relaxation of Two-Child Policy with Large Piglet Family

Foreign Staff
Telegraph
Commentators noted that the scrapping of the decades-old one child policy in 2015, in favour of a two-child policy, was preceded by the release of a stamp for 2016, the Year of the Monkey, featuring two baby monkeys.

Conversation

08.07.18

We’re a Long Way from 2008

Kate Merkel-Hess, Maura Cunningham & more
On August 8, 2008, China’s then Chairman Hu Jintao told a group of world leaders visiting Beijing to attend the Olympics that “the historic moment we have long awaited is arriving.” Indeed, awarding the Games to China in 2001 sparked a fierce debate...

Chinese Audiences Will Not See Disney’s New Movie Starring Notorious Outlaw Winnie the Pooh

Marissa Martinelli
Slate
Christopher Robin, which is already in theaters in the U.S., is the second Disney movie to be rejected in China this year, following A Wrinkle in Time. Another source told THR that Christopher Robin was not...

‘We’re a People Destroyed’: Why Uighur Muslims across China Are Living in Fear

Gene A. Bunin
Guardian
Gene A Bunin has spent the past 18 months talking to Uighur restaurant workers all over China. These conversations reveal how this Muslim minority feel the daily threat of arrest, detention and ‘re-education’

Australia’s China Reset

John Garnaut
It’s no secret that Professor Francis Fukuyama got it wrong in his classic “End of History” treatise, published in the dying days of the Cold War. More interesting is why he got it wrong. His conclusion that the Western model of...

Ai Weiwei Responds To Chinese Authorities Destroying His Beijing Studio

Shannon Von Sant
NPR
In Beijing, the AFP reports that authorities have slated the neighborhood surrounding Ai's studio for redevelopment. According to the AP, Beijing has destroyed "large swaths of the suburbs over the past year in a building safety campaign...

China Millennials’ Love of Credit Cards Raises Debt Fears

Tom Hancock and Wang Xueqiao
Financial Times
Mr Wang is part of a generation of young consumers who have rejected the thrifty habits of their elders and become used to spending with borrowed money. Outstanding consumer loans — used for vehicle purchases, holidays, household renovations and...

Worries Grow in Singapore Over China’s Calls to Help ‘Motherland’

Amy Qin
New York Times
Growing up in Singapore, Chan Kian Kuan always took pride in his Teochew heritage — the dialect, the cultural traditions and the famous steamed fish. But after visiting his ancestral village in Teochew, in Guangdong Province, China, and seeing the...

Viewpoint

08.02.18

Remaking China’s Civil Society in the Xi Jinping Era

Shawn Shieh
Given his past animosity towards civil society, Xi’s actions have been seen by some as moving China towards a new form of totalitarianism and a closing of the space for civil society. I would argue instead that we should see Xi’s ascendancy,...

Chinese Spiritual Leader Is Accused of Harassing Female Followers

Javier Hernandez
New York Times
In a 95-page document that circulated widely on social media this week, two male monks accused the Venerable Xuecheng, the abbot of Longquan Monastery in Beijing and a powerful religious official, of sending explicit messages and making unwanted...

China’s Introverts Find a Kindred Spirit: A Stick Figure From Finland

Mike Ives and Zoe Mou
New York Times
The “Finnish Nightmares” comic series documents the social challenges faced by Matti, a mild-mannered stick figure who abhors small talk. The series has been trending on Chinese social media, and it even spawned a new word for social awkwardness in...

As China’s Woes Mount, Xi Jinping Faces Rare Rebuke at Home

Chris Buckley
New York Times
China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, seemed indomitable when lawmakers abolished a term limit on his power early this year. But months later, China has been struck by economic headwinds, a vaccine scandal and trade battles with Washington, emboldening...

Whistleblower Reveals Google’s Plans for Censored Search in China

James Vincent
Verge
According to internal documents provided to The Intercept by a whistleblower, Google has been developing a censored version of its search engine under the codename “Dragonfly” since the beginning of 2017. The search engine is being built as an...

Chinese Surveillance Expands to Muslims Making Mecca Pilgrimage

Eva Dou
Wall Street Journal
The state-run China Islamic Association published photos of Chinese Muslims at the Beijing airport departing for Mecca in Saudi Arabia in recent days wearing customized “smart cards” on blue lanyards around their necks. The devices, which include a...

China’s Plan to Win Friends and Influence Includes Ski Slopes and Spas

Alexandra Stevenson and Cao Li
New York Times
In Thailand, a theater rigged with hydraulic seats will give moviegoers the sensation of flight. In Australia, an indoor ski slope is going up near the beaches of the Gold Coast. In the Czech Republic, a spa with Chinese medicine is under...

Kazakh Trial Throws Spotlight on China’s Internment Centres

Emily Feng
Financial Times
The trial of a Chinese citizen who fled to Kazakhstan has offered rare insight into China’s secretive internment system, with Beijing’s security campaign in the western region of Xinjiang increasingly putting neighbouring countries in central Asia...

China Set to Leapfrog US in the AI Race

Tristan Greene
It’s only been a year since TNW reported China’s announcement it was shifting its national strategy to claim the artificial intelligence crown. In that time China has advanced its agenda to a startling degree, at least according to the experts.

Facebook’s Return to China Thrown into Doubt

BBC
The company, like all major US tech platforms, has been blocked in the country since 2009. Facebook said on Wednesday it had secured a licence to set up an “innovation hub to support Chinese developers, innovators and start-ups”. But 24 hours later...

Chinese Internet Users Employ the Blockchain to Share a Censored News Article

Shannon Liao
Verge
Chinese netizens have turned to blockchain to share a censored news story about faulty vaccines given to small babies. Their efforts to repost an investigative piece about a large vaccine maker were largely thwarted by Internet monitors, but by...

Lone Suspect Wounded in Blast near U.S. Embassy in China

Se Young Lee, Tom Daly
Reuters
The explosion happened on the street outside the southeast corner of the embassy compound. Beijing police said the suspect, a 26-year-old man from China’s Inner Mongolia region, had injured his hand and been taken to the hospital. Police did not...

Big Investors Are Placing Bets on China’s Facial Recognition Start-Ups

Jamie Condliffe
New York Times
In the past week, Chinese facial recognition companies, according to a pair of reports, were close to raising as much as $1.6 billion.

One in Five Arrests Take Place in ‘Police State’ Xinjiang

Lily Kuo
Guardian
Analysing publicly available government data, the advocacy group Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), found 21% of all arrests in China in 2017 were in Xinjiang

Viewpoint

07.13.18

‘Liu Knew His Responsibility in History’

Ian Johnson
He was risking not the immediate arrival of soldiers, but the inevitable and life-threatening imprisonment that befalls all people who challenge state power in China today. This was not an active decision to die, but a willingness to do so. The...

China’s Human Rights Record, Aggressive Military Expansion Damage Its Soft Power Rating

Liu Zhen
South China Morning Post
China’s soft power has been weakened by its hard line on foreign policy and human rights, according to an annual survey released on Thursday.

Uighur Children Fall Victim to China Anti-Terror Drive

Emily Feng
Financial Times
On a quiet street in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar, a house lies empty, padlocked from the outside, the family who lived there gone.

Inside China’s Dystopian Dreams: A.I., Shame and Lots of Cameras

Paul Mozur
New York Times
In the Chinese city of Zhengzhou, a police officer wearing facial recognition glasses spotted a heroin smuggler at a train station.

Qin Yongmin: Prominent Chinese Dissident Jailed for 13 Years

BBC
BBC
One of China’s highest-profile democracy campaigners has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for “subversion of state power”.

How Britain Went to War With China Over Opium

Austin Ramzy
New York Times
In 1840, Britain went to war with China over questions of trade, diplomacy, national dignity and, most importantly, drug trafficking. While British officials tried to play down the illicit origins of the conflict, opponents gave it a name that made...

China Issues U.S. Travel Warning Amid Trade Tensions

Reuters
Reuters
China’s embassy in Washington has issued a security advisory to Chinese nationals traveling to the United States, the latest such warning as trade tensions escalate between the two countries.

An American Lean-In Guru in China

John Corrigan
Wall Street Journal
Joy Chen got a glimpse of the limelight as a Los Angeles deputy mayor two decades ago, but it was nothing like the fame she has found in China urging women to forget what they’ve been taught about matrimony.

Meituan Wants to Be the Grubhub of China (and the Yelp, and the Groupon, and the Kayak)

Liza Lin
Wall Street Journal
China’s burgeoning middle class, which increasingly is going online for everything from ordering lunch to booking hotel rooms, is fueling expectations that an 8-year-old startup with an innovative smartphone app will go public at a lofty $60 billion...

John Oliver, Having Mocked Chinese Censorship, Is Censored in China

Tiffany May
New York Times
In a 20-minute segment about China that aired Sunday on the satirical news show “Last Week Tonight,” the host John Oliver brought up President Xi Jinping’s resemblance to Winnie the Pooh.

Books

06.20.18

The Third Revolution

Elizabeth C. Economy
Oxford University Press: In The Third Revolution, eminent China scholar Elizabeth C. Economy provides an incisive look at the transformative changes underway in China today. Chinese leader Xi Jinping has unleashed a powerful set of political and economic reforms: the centralization of power under Xi, himself; the expansion of the Communist Party’s role in Chinese political, social, and economic life; and the construction of a virtual wall of regulations to control more closely the exchange of ideas and capital between China and the outside world. Beyond its borders, Beijing has recast itself as a great power, seeking to reclaim its past glory and to create a system of international norms that better serves its more ambitious geostrategic objectives. In so doing, the Chinese leadership is reversing the trends toward greater political and economic opening, as well as the low-profile foreign policy, that had been put in motion by Deng Xiaoping’s “Second Revolution” 30 years earlier.Through a wide-ranging exploration of Xi Jinping’s top political, economic, and foreign policy priorities—fighting corruption, managing the Internet, reforming the state-owned enterprise sector, improving the country’s innovation capacity, enhancing air quality, and elevating China’s presence on the global stage—Economy identifies the tensions, shortcomings, and successes of Xi’s reform efforts over the course of his first five years in office. She also assesses their implications for the rest of the world, and provides recommendations for how the United States and others should navigate their relationship with this vast nation in the coming years.{chop}

China’s Social Credit System Spreads to More Daily Transactions

Jack Karsten and Darrell M. West
Brookings Institution
In May, enforcement of China’s social credit system spread to the travel industry, restricting millions of Chinese citizens with low social credit scores from purchasing plane and train tickets.

China’s Political Meritocracy versus Western Democracy

Daniel Bell
Economist
Chinese meritocrats support democratic values but not elections, says Daniel Bell of Shandong University.

For Survivors of a 9-Hour Chinese Exam, a Door Opens to America

Tiffany May
New York Times
Every June, millions of high school seniors in China sit down for a grueling university entrance exam, knowing they may not get into a top school or any school at all. If their results are disappointing, finding another route to university can take...

A World in Transition

Paul Haenle & William J. Burns from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
As the world is in the midst of considerable uncertainty and transition, Ambassador William J. Burns points to the emergence of rising powers like China and India, challenges to regional order in the Middle East, and revolutions in new technologies...

The Fantastic Truth About China

Alec Ash from New York Review of Books
In 1902, Liang Qichao, a reformist intellectual of the late Qing dynasty, wrote a futuristic story called “A Chronicle of the Future of New China.” In the unfinished manuscript, he depicts Shanghai hosting the World Fair in 1962 (“Confucius year...

Conversation

06.04.18

How Should the World Respond to Intensifying Repression in Xinjiang?

Rian Thum, Rachel Harris & more
Deliberate, systematic human rights abuses are happening in China’s northwest. Reporting and research published in recent weeks shows that the Chinese government is targeting the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region’s roughly 11 million Muslims for “re...

Viewpoint

05.30.18

Who’s Really Responsible for Digital Privacy in China?

Shazeda Ahmed & Bertram Lang
While the United States is reeling from the revelation that political consultancy Cambridge Analytica harvested data from over 87 million Facebook accounts, China’s biggest tech companies and regulators are confronting a wave of of their own...

In China’s Booming Tech Scene, Women Battle Sexism and Conservative Values

Cate Cadell, Adam Jourdan
Reuters
Ms Li has a day job in the marketing department of one of China’s biggest tech firms.

As Chinese ‘Crepe’ Catches On Abroad, a Fight to Preserve Its Soul

Mike Ives and Tiffany May
New York Times
When is a pancake not a pancake?

Killing Spurs Didi, China’s Ride-Hailing Giant, to Revamp Its Service

Elsie Chen and Mengxue Ou
New York Times
Didi Chuxing, China’s wildly popular ride-sharing service, said on Wednesday that it would overhaul its app and its safety and security practices, after reports that a passenger had been raped and killed by her driver.

China: Security Guards Assault Women Attending LGBT Event

Lily Kuo
Guardian
Women wearing rainbow badges were blocked from entering Beijing’s 798 arts district by guards who punched them and then knocked them to the ground.

My Family Had Never Seen a Kenyan: The Chinese Making a New Life in Africa

Rajeev Gupta
BBC
“We fell in love but it was very difficult at first,” Xu Jing explains from the courtyard of the Fairmont Hotel in Nairobi.

10 Years After Tragic Quake, China Calls for ‘Thanksgiving’

Tiffany May
New York Times
The looming anniversary of a deadly Sichuan earthquake has been named “Thanksgiving Day” by local government officials, drawing scorn from Chinese internet users who feel the government should be honoring the dead instead.

After-Shocks of the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
The province of Sichuan is a microcosm of China. Its east is flat, prosperous, and densely settled by ethnic Chinese. Its mountainous west is populated by poorer minorities, but possesses resources that help make the east rich.In Sichuan, the...

Video

05.07.18

Ou Chen’s Good Run

Guo Rongfei from Arrow Factory Video
The number of Chinese racers has risen dramatically—a phenomenon that Chinese media call a “marathon fever.” Obed Tiony, a Kenyan studying at Shanghai University, works as an agent for some 300 runners from Kenya and its neighbor Ethiopia. Tiony’s...

No Regrets: Xi Says Marxism Still 'Totally Correct' for China

CNBC
The decision of China's ruling Communist Party to stick with the political theories of Karl Marx remains "totally correct", President Xi Jinping said ahead of the 200th anniversary of the German philosopher's birth...

Liu Xia, in Call from China, Tells of the Agony of Endless Captivity

Chris Buckley and Melissa Eddy
New York Times
“They keep forcing me to do the impossible,” Liu Xia says at end.

Chinese Nobel Laureate's Widow 'Ready to Die' in House Arrest

Lily Kuo
Guardian
Liu Xia, the widow of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, has said she is ready to die in protest at being held under house arrest in China for more than seven years.

Reports

05.03.18

Policy Analysis on China’s Civil Society Organizations First Quarter of 2018

China Europe Association for Civil Rights
Civil society organizations in China faced increasingly grim circumstances in the first quarter of 2018. Whether looking at the direct impact of the Law on the Management of Foreign Non-Governmental Organizations’ Activities or the Charity Law,...