• Courtesy of MIT Press

    China’s Typing Triumph

    An Excerpt from ‘The Chinese Computer: A Global History of the Information Age’

    Thomas S. Mullaney

    A standard QWERTY keyboard has a few dozen keys. How can Chinese—a language with tens of thousands of characters and no alphabet—be input on such a device? To answer this question, one needs to return to the beginnings of electronic Chinese technology in the wake of World War II, and follow up through to its many iterations in the present day. In particular, we need to examine the development of Chinese “input methods”—software programs that enable Chinese characters to be produced using... Read full story>>

  • Shenzhen Lolaage Technology

    “The Police’s Strength Is Limited, but the People’s Strength Is Boundless”

    To Supplement Law Enforcement, Local Governments across China Are Recruiting Citizen “Vigilantes”

    Jessica Batke

    In some ways, “vigilantes” are the opposite of what their name suggests: rather than rogue agents meting out street justice, they are individuals deemed trustworthy by authorities, working under the guidance of local police forces, deputized to surveil their fellow citizens. In recent years, as Beijing has encouraged the “masses” to take a greater role in public safety, vigilante groups—and their close cousins, “safety promotion associations”—have sprung up across the country, working with the... Read full story>>

  • Alex Wong—Getty Images

    The Committee that Ended the Age of Engagement?

    Charles Hutzler

    The U.S. Congress’ special China committee has a packed agenda for the few months left this term. But its most consequential work may be done: a more confrontational U.S. policy towards China. The Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party has racked up notable successes in its brief existence. Its scrutiny put Wall Street and Silicon Valley on notice to police their investments into China. Its investigations showed that Chinese tax... Read full story>>

  • Sergei Bobylyov—AFP/Getty Images

    The Future According to Xi and Putin

    A ChinaFile Conversation

    Maria Repnikova, Evan Medeiros & more via ChinaFile Conversation

    On May 16 and 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a state visit to China, where he met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Xi has stood closely by Putin’s side since their announcement of the “no limits” partnership, and this does not look likely to change. But what has been the outcome of Putin’s trip? Did the two leaders make a serious attempt to negotiate on Ukraine, or were the optics of bilateral friendship the main aim? How should we expect the two countries’ trade relationship to... Read full story>>

Recent Stories

Viewpoint

05.13.24

Beijing’s Culinary Crusade: Erasing Uyghur Identity through Food

Timothy Grose
Instruction began early on a November 2018 morning. This lesson was not taught in a classroom, but in a makeshift kitchen as part of Xinjiang’s “household school” program. There, a teacher stood before her class of adult women and asked: “What do...

Viewpoint

05.10.24

Why the African Union Stopped the Donkey Hide Trade with China

Lauren Johnston
The African Union’s unprecedented decision to ban the trade of donkey skin ended a hitherto fast-evolving China-Africa business. It also is the result of an unusual agreement between the 55 African Union member countries on a matter that affects...

Updates to Our Database of Arrests under the Hong Kong National Security Law

We updated our suite of graphics tracking the impact of Hong Kong’s National Security Law. The law, which went into effect on June 30, 2020, and the allegation of “sedition,” have been used to arrest 292 individuals, charge 159, and convict 71 as of...

Features

03.08.24

Xinjiang Authorities Are Retroactively Applying Laws to Prosecute Religious Leaders as Criminals

Darren Byler from Foreign Policy
Sholpan Amirkhan and her aunt gasped when the guards carried her brother-in-law Nurlan Pioner into the Jimunai County People’s Court, on the border with Kazakhstan in China’s western region of Xinjiang. He was gaunt, and a fetid smell followed him...

Conversation

03.15.24

Time up for TikTok?

Aynne Kokas, Julian G. Ku & more
On March 13, in a rare moment of bipartisanship, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill that could result in TikTok’s being unable to do business in the U.S. What does the rapid passage of the bill in the House say about the state...

Viewpoint

04.19.24

A New Round of Restrictions Further Constrains Religious Practice in Xinjiang

Martin Lavička
Authorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region rang in 2024 by announcing an update to the region’s strictures on religious practice. Changes include new rules to ensure that sites of religious worship, like mosques, look adequately “Chinese...

Features

03.01.24

“There Is No CPEC in Gwadar, Except Security Check Posts”

Akbar Notezai
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is one of the major spokes of Beijing’s multi-trillion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), an ambitious attempt to remake global trade and transport infrastructure. CPEC’s terminus is Gwadar, a port...

Media

11.01.23

ChinaFile Presents: China Reporting in Exile

Annie Jieping Zhang, Li Yuan & more
ChinaFile and The New York Review of Books co-hosted a panel discussion with Chinese journalists working from abroad. Participants included reporter, editor, and digital media entrepreneur Annie Jieping Zhang, New York Times columnist Li Yuan,...

Explore the Site

The New York Review of Books China Archive

from New York Review of Books
Welcome to the New York Review of Books China Archive, a collaborative project of ChinaFile.org and The New York Review of Books. In the archive you will find a compilation of full-length essays and book reviews on China dating from the Review'...

Photography & Video

Photo Gallery

07.24.19

‘I Love HK but Hate It at the Same Time’

Todd R. Darling
A central issue many of the Hong Kong people in my portraits are wrestling with is how to define an identity and being challenged in that pursuit by cultural, social, or political pressures. There is a lot of frustration and anger over the recent...

Books

Books

03.12.20

China and Intervention at the UN Security Council

Courtney J. Fung
Oxford University Press: What explains China’s response to intervention at the UN Security Council? China and Intervention at the UN Security Council argues that status is an overlooked determinant in understanding its decisions, even in the apex cases that are shadowed by a public discourse calling for foreign-imposed regime change in Sudan, Libya, and Syria. It posits that China reconciles its status dilemma as it weighs decisions to intervene, seeking recognition from both its intervention peer groups of great powers and developing states. Understanding the impact and scope of conditions of status answers why China has taken certain positions regarding intervention and how these positions were justified. Foreign policy behavior that complies with status, and related social factors like self-image and identity, means that China can select policy options bearing material costs. China and Intervention at the UN Security Council draws on an extensive collection of data, including over two hundred interviews with UN officials and Chinese foreign policy elites, participant observation at UN Headquarters, and a dataset of Chinese-language analysis regarding foreign-imposed regime change and intervention. The book concludes with new perspectives on the malleability of China’s core interests, insights about the application of status for cooperation, and the implications of the status dilemma for rising powers.{chop}

Books

03.24.20

Vernacular Industrialism in China

Eugenia Lean
Columbia University Press: In early 20th-century China, Chen Diexian (1879-1940) was a maverick entrepreneur—at once a prolific man of letters, captain of industry, magazine editor, and cosmetics magnate. He tinkered with chemistry in his private studio, used local cuttlefish to source magnesium carbonate, and published manufacturing tips in how-to columns. In a rapidly changing society, Chen copied foreign technologies and translated manufacturing processes from abroad to produce adaptations of global commodities that bested foreign brands. Engaging in the worlds of journalism, industry, and commerce, he drew on literati practices associated with late-imperial elites but deployed them in novel ways within a culture of educated tinkering that generated industrial innovation.Through the lens of Chen’s career, Eugenia Lean explores how unlikely individuals devised unconventional, homegrown approaches to industry and science in early 20th-century China. She contends that Chen’s activities exemplify “vernacular industrialism,” the pursuit of industry and science outside of conventional venues, often involving ad hoc forms of knowledge and material work. Lean shows how vernacular industrialists accessed worldwide circuits of law and science and experimented with local and global processes of manufacturing to navigate, innovate, and compete in global capitalism. In doing so, they presaged the approach that has helped fuel China’s economic ascent in the 21st century. Rather than conventional narratives that depict China as belatedly borrowing from Western technology, Vernacular Industrialism in China offers a new understanding of industrialization, going beyond material factors to show the central role of culture and knowledge production in technological and industrial change.{chop}

Notes from ChinaFile

35 Years Later: A Retrospective of Our Work on the 1989 Tiananmen Protests and Crackdown

This year is the 35th anniversary of the 1989 mass demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, and elsewhere around China, and their brutal suppression on June 4. The memories of these events are receding into the past, a process greatly aided in...

“It’s Too Convenient to Say That Xi Jinping Is a Second Mao”

Nick Frisch & Chun Han Wong
The Chinese Communist Party, an organization of over ninety million members, remains opaque to many outsiders, even within China. Wall Street Journal reporter Chun Han Wong spent years in Beijing documenting social, political, and economic changes...