Media

02.29.12

Three Trends in Public Opinion Online in China

Hu Yong
Looking back at China’s Internet in 2011, there were three broad trends that deserve greater attention. The first was a general shift from emotionally-driven nationalist chatter as the defining tone of China’s Internet to more basic attention to...

Sinica Podcast

02.10.12

The Allure of the Southwest

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn take a closer look at the beautiful city of Chongqing in a forthright discussion that delves into the myriad attractions of this beautiful and occasionally mysterious Chinese city, famous recently...

He Told the Truth About China’s Tyranny

Simon Leys from New York Review of Books
Better than the assent of the crowd: The dissent of one brave man!—Sima Qian (145–90 BC)Records of the Grand HistorianTruth will set you free.—Gospel according to JohnThe economic rise of China now dominates the entire landscape of international...

Sinica Podcast

02.03.12

Running Dogs and Locusts

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Ongoing tension between Hong Kong and mainland citizens erupted into open flames on February 1, when a Hong Kong group raised more than HKD 100,000 to publish a full-page anti-China advertisement in the Apple Daily comparing mainlanders to parasitic...

Is Democracy Chinese?

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Chang Ping is one of China’s best-known commentators on contemporary affairs. Chang, whose real name is Zhang Ping, first established himself in the late 1990s in Guangzhou, where his hard-hitting stories exposed scandals and championed freedom of...

Sinica Podcast

01.13.12

Year-End Roundup

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
It was the year of the housing market (up then down), Ai Weiwei’s imprisonment, Wukan, the Wenzhou train crash, air pollution, gutter oil, tainted milk, clenbuterol, China bulls and bears, government transparency, the soaring price of Maotai, Guo...

Reports

01.06.12

“Social Management” as a Way of Coping With Heightened Social Tensions

Joseph Fewsmith
He Jianan
China Leadership Monitor
Over the last year there has been an increasing emphasis on “social management” as a way of managing increasing social tensions in Chinese society. Indeed, the effort the CCP is putting into publicizing this concept underscores high-level concerns...

China Gets Religion!

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
This autumn, China has been marking the one hundredth anniversary of the collapse of its last imperial dynasty, the Qing, with a series of grand celebrations. The government has released an epic film showing how the revolution of 1911 prepared the...

Do China’s Village Protests Help the Regime?

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Over the past two weeks, the Western press has focused on a striking story out of China: a riveting series of protests in Wukan, a fishing village in the country’s prosperous south. The story is depressingly familiar: Corrupt cadres sell off public...

Media

12.15.11

Anxiety’s Remote Control

Hu Yong
The Chinese government agency that English speakers know as SARFT has several monikers. Its full name is the State Administration for Radio, Film, and Television. Literally translated, its Chinese name, guangdian zongju, is more...

My First Trip

11.05.11

My First Return Trip to China

Wei Peh T’i
Thomas Wolfe's admonition that “you can't go home again” notwithstanding, I returned to the land of my birth after an absence of 33 years. I was born in Nanjing and spent a good part of my childhood in Chongqing. In November 1937, Japanese...

Reports

11.01.11

Catalyzing Social Investment in China

Brooke Avory, Adam Lane
BSR
In May 2008, an earthquake hit the western Chinese province of Sichuan, taking 80,000 lives and displacing millions of others. The earthquake inspired an increase in donations from RMB13.3 billion in 2007 to RMB76.4 billion in 2008 and highlighted...

Are China’s Rulers Getting Religion?

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
With worsening inflation, a slowing economy, and growing concerns about possible social unrest, China’s leaders have a lot on their plates these days. And yet when the Communist Party met at its annual plenum earlier this week, the issue given...

Sinica Podcast

09.30.11

The Shanghai Train Accident

Kaiser Kuo & Jeremy Goldkorn from Sinica Podcast
At least 284 people were injured on Tuesday when a train in the Shanghai metro smashed into another which had stalled on the tracks. The accident, which threw Shanghai into disarray, came only two months after another near-disastrous incident on the...

Sinica Podcast

09.23.11

The Gutter Oil Podcast

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
“It was really distressing for me to talk to a WHO expert and have him tell me, ‘I have no idea where it’s safe to buy food here ...’” — Sharon LaFraniere.When Luoyang journalist Li Xiang broke China’s latest food scandal last week, exposing the...

China’s Tibetan Theme Park

Richard Bernstein from New York Review of Books
In the international press, China’s tensions with Tibet are often traced to the Chinese invasion of 1950 and Tibet’s failed uprising of 1959. But for the Chinese themselves, the story goes back much further—at least to the reign of Kangxi, the Qing...

My First Trip

09.10.11

Deng's Heyday

Ian Johnson
When I began thinking about writing this piece, my first trip to China in 1984 had seemed like a disappointment. Unlike today, this was the China of Great Events: the launch of bold reforms and an era of intellectual ferment unlike any since. Before...

Sinica Podcast

08.19.11

Not in My Backyard

Kaiser Kuo, Josh Chin & more from Sinica Podcast
While some Chinese media have flown into high dudgeon over allegations of sun-exposed hamburger buns at McDonalds, powder-based soy milk at KFC, and pork broth made from concentrate at Ajisen, a more grassroots protest gained notice across China...

‘I’m Not Interested in Them; I Wish They Weren’t Interested in Me’

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Amid the recent crackdown on dissidents by the Chinese government, the case of Liao Yiwu, the well-known poet and chronicler of contemporary China, is particularly interesting. For years, Liao’s work, which draws on extensive interviews with...

Reports

08.01.11

Measuring the Economic Gain of Investing in Girls

Jad Chaaban and Wendy Cunningham
World Bank
This report discusses the economic impact of the exclusion of girls from productive employment in developing countries. The paper explores the linkages between investing in girls and potential increases in national income by examining three widely...

My First Trip

07.30.11

My Long March from Mao to Now

Jan Wong
In my third year at McGill University in Montreal, a much older, married classmate suggested the two of us go to China during our summer vacation. I was 19; she was probably all of 25. When we applied for visas, she, a white Australian, was turned...

Sinica Podcast

07.29.11

Train Wrecks

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
After a long and hot July marked by the near-absence of most of our guests, Sinica host Kaiser Kuo is pleased to be back this week leading a discussion of the recent accident on the high-speed Hangzhou-Wenzhou rail line, an accident that has...

Reports

07.26.11

Toward a Healthy and Harmonious Life in China

Shiyong Wang, Patricio Marquez, and John Langenbrunner
World Bank
China’s 12th five-year plan (2011-2015) aims to promote inclusive, equitable growth and development by placing an increased emphasis on human development. Good health is an important component of human development, not only because it makes people’s...

Reports

07.14.11

Strangers at Home: North Koreans in the South

International Crisis Group
As the number of defectors from North Korea arriving in the South has surged in the past decade, there is a growing understanding of how difficult it would be to absorb a massive flow of refugees. South Korea is prosperous and generous, with a...

China’s Political Prisoners: True Confessions?

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s ankle-deep heap of porcelain sunflower seeds bewitched recent visitors to London’s Tate Modern. But in early April Ai’s strong criticisms of the regime led to his disappearance somewhere in Beijing. On June 22, eighty-...

Books

06.30.11

Ghetto at the Center of the World

Gordon Mathews
There is nowhere else in the world quite like Chungking Mansions, a dilapidated seventeen-story commercial and residential structure in the heart of Hong Kong’s tourist district. A remarkably motley group of people call the building home: Pakistani phone stall operators, Chinese guesthouse workers, Nepalese heroin addicts, Indonesian sex workers, and traders and asylum seekers from all over Asia and Africa live and work there—even backpacking tourists rent rooms. In short, it is possibly the most globalized spot on the planet. But as Ghetto at the Center of the World shows us, a trip to Chungking Mansions reveals a far less glamorous side of globalization. A world away from the gleaming headquarters of multinational corporations, Chungking Mansions is emblematic of the way globalization actually works for most of the world’s people. Gordon Mathews’s intimate portrayal of the building’s polyethnic residents lays bare their intricate connections to the international circulation of goods, money, and ideas. We come to understand the day-to-day realities of globalization through the stories of entrepreneurs from Africa carting cell phones in their luggage to sell back home and temporary workers from South Asia struggling to earn money to bring to their families. And we see that this so-called ghetto—which inspires fear in many of Hong Kong’s other residents, despite its low crime rate—is not a place of darkness and desperation but a beacon of hope.

Gordon Mathews’s compendium of riveting stories enthralls and instructs in equal measure, making Ghetto at the Center of the World not just a fascinating tour of a singular place but also a peek into the future of life on our shrinking planet.  —University of Chicago Press

Sinica Podcast

05.07.11

Crazed Madmen, Foreign and Domestic

Jeremy Goldkorn, Gady Epstein & more from Sinica Podcast
Despite losing almost a dollar for every dollar of revenue last year, Chinese Facebook clone Renren (人人网) made a spectacular launch on Wall Street last week, raising U.S.$743.4 million in a crazed initial public offering. So it’s no surprise that...

China Misunderstood: Did We Contribute to Ai Weiwei’s Arrest?

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Like many artists, Ai Weiwei enjoys provoking. It isn’t just his finger-to-the-Chinese-government images that he has become known for but also how he does it: his obsessive-compulsive documentation of himself in photos, blogs, tweets, and rants into...

Books

04.15.11

Tide Players

Jianying Zha
In Tide Players, acclaimed New Yorker contributor and author Jianying Zha depicts a new generation of movers and shakers who are transforming modern China. Through half a dozen sharply etched and nuanced profiles, Tide Players captures both the concrete detail and the epic dimension of life in the world’s fastest growing economy. Zha’s vivid cast of characters includes an unlikely couple who teamed up to become the country’s leading real-estate moguls; a gifted chameleon who transformed himself from Mao’s favorite “barefoot doctor” during the Cultural Revolution to a publishing maverick; and a tycoon of home-electronic chain stores who insisted on avenging his mother, who had been executed as “a counter-revolutionary criminal.” Alongside these entrepreneurs, Zha also brings us the intellectuals: a cantankerous professor at China’s top university; a former cultural minister turned prolific writer; and Zha’s own brother, a dissident who served a nine-year prison term for helping to found the China Democracy Party. Deeply engaging, lucid, and poignant, Zha’s insightful “insider-outsider” portraits offer a picture of a China that few Western readers have seen before. —The New Press{chop}

Sinica Podcast

04.01.11

Scandal in Baidu and Chongqing

Kaiser Kuo, Gady Epstein & more from Sinica Podcast
A year after our first show memorialized Google’s retreat from the China market, our first anniversary sees Sinica host Kaiser Kuo and his employer on the defensive as Gady Epstein and Bill Bishop grill Kaiser over recent allegations of copyright...

Reports

03.01.11

Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights

Human Rights in China
Throughout the world, terrorism continues to pose major threats to peace, security, and stability. Since September 11, 2001, intensified counter-terrorism debates and responses, including national, multilateral, and regional approaches, have been...

My First Trip

02.19.11

Dawn in China

Perry Link
My father was a radical leftist professor. He led study tours to the Soviet Union in the 1930s and later admired Mao Zedong. That influence, in addition to the passion in the late 1960s and early 1970s within the American student movement against...

Middle East Revolutions: The View from China

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
Chinese authorities have done what they can to block news of Egyptian people-power from spreading to China. Reports about Egypt in China’s state-run media have been brief and vacuous. On February 6, at the height of the protests, the People’s Daily...

The Worst Man-Made Catastrophe, Ever

Roderick MacFarquhar from New York Review of Books
When the first waves of Chinese graduate students arrived on American campuses in the early 1980s, they were excited at entering an unfettered learning environment. After the recent ravages of the Cultural Revolution, political science students had...

Reports

02.01.11

A Seventeen-Province Survey of Rural Land Rights in China

He Jianan
Landesa
China continues to boost economic development in the countryside by extending secure land tenure rights to its 200 million farming families, according to findings from a seventeen-province survey, published in the 2011 Chinese Academy of Social...

Reports

02.01.11

Prospects for Democracy in Hong Kong: The 2012 Election Reforms

Michael F. Martin
Peony Lui
Congressional Research Service
Support for the democratization of Hong Kong has been an element of U.S. foreign policy for over seventeen years. The democratization of Hong Kong is also enshrined in the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s quasi-constitution that was passed by China’s National...

Books

01.15.11

Sound and Script in Chinese Diaspora

Jing Tsu
What happens when language wars are not about hurling insults or quibbling over meanings, but are waged in the physical sounds and shapes of language itself? Native and foreign speakers, mother tongues and national languages, have jostled for distinction throughout the modern period. The fight for global dominance between the English and Chinese languages opens into historical battles over the control of the medium through standardization, technology, bilingualism, pronunciation, and literature in the Sinophone world. Encounters between global languages, as well as the internal tensions between Mandarin and other Chinese dialects, present a dynamic, interconnected picture of languages on the move.In Sound and Script in Chinese Diaspora, Jing Tsu explores the new global language trade, arguing that it aims at more sophisticated ways of exerting influence besides simply wielding knuckles of power. Through an analysis of the different relationships between language standardization, technologies of writing, and modern Chinese literature around the world from the nineteenth century to the present, this study transforms how we understand the power of language in migration and how that is changing the terms of cultural dominance. Drawing from an unusual array of archival sources, this study cuts across the usual China-West divide and puts its finger on the pulse of a pending supranational world under “literary governance.”                 —Harvard University Press

Sinica Podcast

01.14.11

Amy Chua and the Tiger Mother Furor

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Judging from the explosive reaction to her recent Wall Street Journal editorial, it’s clear that Amy Chua's memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother has set off a storm of controversy over the appropriateness of “Chinese parenting” in America. Or...

Reports

01.01.11

Early Childhood Development and Education in China: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty and Improving Future Competitiveness

World Bank
Given China's goal to develop a harmonious society and to improve the competitiveness of its future workforce in order to overcome the challenges of an aging population and move toward a high-income society, there is an urgent need to identify...

Finding the Facts About Mao’s Victims

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Yang Jisheng is an editor of Annals of the Yellow Emperor, one of the few reform-oriented political magazines in China. Before that, the seventy-year-old native of Hubei province was a national correspondent with the government-run Xinhua news...

At the Nobel Ceremony: Liu Xiaobo’s Empty Chair

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
On December 10, I attended the award ceremony in Oslo, Norway, for the Nobel Peace Prize, which the government of China had a few days earlier declared to be a “farce.” The recipient was a friend of mine, the Chinese scholar and essayist Liu Xiaobo...

Sinica Podcast

12.10.10

The Wikileaks Revelations, Part III

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
As Interpol deepens its investigation into Mr. Assange’s use of birth control and financial service companies feel the wrath of script-kiddies worldwide, our own crew of Internet vigilantes sifts through the remains of the Wikileaks data-dump in...

Reports

12.01.10

Catastrophe Insurance Policy for China

Jun Wang
World Bank
The vast majority of China's population lies to the southeast of a line running from Beijing to Sichuan. This entire region is subjected to major floods each year, while typhoons affect the southern and eastern coastal areas and major...

Reports

12.01.10

Can China’s Rural Elderly Count on Support from Adult Children? Implications of Rural to Urban Migration

John Giles, Dewen Wang, and Changbao Zhao
World Bank
Support from the family continues to be an important source of support for the rural elderly, particularly the rural elderly over seventy years of age. Decline in likelihood of co-residence with, or in close proximity to, adult children raises the...

Reports

12.01.10

Income Uncertainty and Household Savings in China

Marcos Chamon, Kai Liu, and Eswar Prasad
International Monetary Fund (IMF)
China’s household saving rate has increased markedly since the mid-1990s and the age-savings profile has become U-shaped. The authors find that rising income uncertainty and pension reforms help explain both of these phenomena. Using a panel of...

A Hero of Our Time

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
On October 8, Liu Xiaobo became the first Chinese to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and one of only three winners ever to receive it while in prison. The Oslo committee had already received a warning from Beijing not to give Liu the prize because he...

Sinica Podcast

11.05.10

The Li Gang Scandal

Jeremy Goldkorn, Gady Epstein & more from Sinica Podcast
A deadly hit-and-run at Hebei University by the unapologetic son of a high-ranking official has sparked outrage across China, with early efforts to cover up the incident ultimately leading to father and son both making tearful apologies on national...

A Very Superior ‘Chinaman’

Richard Bernstein from New York Review of Books
Charlie Chan, the fictitious Chinese-American detective from Hawaii, makes his first appearance in the movie Charlie Chan in Egypt (1935) looking out the window of an airplane while flying over the Pyramids and the Sphinx. We next see him, looking...

‘A Turning Point in the Long Struggle’: Chinese Citizens Defend Liu Xiaobo

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
It would be hard to overstate how much the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo on October 8 has meant to China’s community of dissidents, bloggers, and activists. Not only has it lifted their spirits tremendously; many also view it as a...

A Hero of the China Underground

Howard W. French from New York Review of Books
As a poet and chronicler of other people’s lives, Liao Yiwu is a singular figure among the generation of Chinese intellectuals who emerged after the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. Unlike the leaders of Beijing’s student movement, people like...

Jailed for Words: Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
On October 8, Liu Xiaobo became the first Chinese to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and one of only three winners ever to receive it while in prison. The Oslo committee had already received a warning from Beijing not to give Liu the prize because he...

Sinica Podcast

10.01.10

Racism in China

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Racism isn’t a problem in China. That’s the official story you’ll read in the papers and hear on the streets, at least, and maybe there’s even a kernel of truth to it. Without a legacy of colonial activities abroad, the Chinese people are in many...

Booming China, Migrant Misery

Richard Bernstein from New York Review of Books
At the beginning of September, a Beijing criminal court announced a decision that called attention to the difficult and sometimes tragic circumstances of millions of migrant workers in China who have left their countryside homes to work for low...

Sinica Podcast

09.10.10

Showdown in Shenzhen

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
On September 6, Shenzhen celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of its founding as a special economic zone (SEZ). And while the city feted itself at the highest levels of power, its celebrations were marred by an unexpected development: in a speech...

Sinica Podcast

08.13.10

The Guo Degang Affair and China Apologists

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, Jeremy Goldkorn, Gady Epstein, Will Moss, and David Moser join Kaiser to talk about the Guo Degang Affair. When a fight with the media at the famous comedian’s house became news, the incident sparked a week of heated public...

Reports

08.01.10

Addressing the Environmental and Social Governance Challenges of Chinese Mining Companies Operating in Africa

Carole Biau
Global Environmental Institute
The growth of China’s consumption of base metals is reflected in increased overseas engagement in mining activities, particularly in Africa. There is increasing concern about the environmental and social implications of China’s overseas involvement...

Books

08.01.10

Dreaming in Chinese

Deborah Fallows
Deborah Fallows has spent much of her life learning languages and traveling around the world. But nothing prepared her for the surprises of learning Mandarin, China's most common language, or the intensity of living in Shanghai and Beijing. Over time, she realized that her struggles and triumphs in studying the language of her adopted home provided small clues to deciphering the behavior and habits of its people, and its culture's conundrums. As her skill with Mandarin increased, bits of the language-a word, a phrase, an oddity of grammar-became windows into understanding romance, humor, protocol, relationships, and the overflowing humanity of modern China.Fallows learned, for example, that the abrupt, blunt way of speaking that Chinese people sometimes use isn't rudeness, but is, in fact, a way to acknowledge and honor the closeness between two friends. She learned that English speakers' trouble with hearing or saying tones-the variations in inflection that can change a word's meaning-is matched by Chinese speakers' inability not to hear tones, or to even take a guess at understanding what might have been meant when foreigners misuse them.In sharing what she discovered about Mandarin, and how those discoveries helped her understand a culture that had at first seemed impenetrable, Deborah Fallows's Dreaming in Chinese opens up China to Westerners more completely, perhaps, than it has ever been before.  —WalkerBooks

Sinica Podcast

07.12.10

Ich Bin Ein Beijinger

Kaiser Kuo from Sinica Podcast
Sad as it is to admit, the rare solar eclipse that incited such mayhem on Easter Island earlier this week has thrown our own Beijing community into a tizzy. Or perhaps the culprit is the stultifying heatwave which has descended on our city, turning...

Sinica Podcast

06.04.10

Suicides, Strikes, and Labor Unrest in China

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
A spate of suicides leaves ten dead at the Shenzhen campus of Foxconn, the giant electronics manufacturer that makes many of the world’s most popular consumer electronics. A rare strike paralyzes production at Honda Motors, shutting down all of the...

Reports

05.26.10

Democratic Reforms in Taiwan: Issues for Congress

Shirley A. Kan
Peony Lui
Congressional Research Service
Taiwan, which its government formally calls the Republic of China (ROC), is a success story for U.S. interests in the promotion of universal freedoms and democracy. Taiwan’s people and their leaders transformed politics from rule imposed from the...