• (China Photos—Getty Images)

    It’s True That Democracy in China Is in Retreat, But Don’t Give up on It Now

    Li Fan

    China’s popularity in the world is plummeting, and antagonism between China and the United States is growing. Many blame China for allowing a series of new viruses to emerge, for failing to stop COVID-19 when it first appeared, and for not sharing information about it with the rest of the world in time to prevent it from spreading. People say China seeks to use its strong economic power to dominate the world, and that as it extends its influence it promotes authoritarianism, denying to others... Read full story>>

  • Chris McGrath—Getty Images

    How Should Democracies Respond to China’s New National Security Law for Hong Kong?

    A ChinaFile Conversation

    Bernhard Bartsch, Yu-Jie Chen & more via ChinaFile Conversation

    July 1 will mark 23 years since Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty. Each of those years—and many that preceded them—has seen its share of disquiet over the future of the territory’s way of life and about the resilience of “one country, two systems,” Beijing’s shorthand for its professed acquiescence to keeping its hands off Hong Kong’s democratic political institutions. But never has the sense of alarm, both within Hong Kong and internationally, been more acute than on this year’s... Read full story>>

  • Kevin Frayer—Getty Images

    China’s Zoom Bomb

    A ChinaFile Conversation

    Wang Dan, Donald Clarke & more via ChinaFile Conversation

    In the lead-up to the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations this spring, Zoom, the U.S.-based company whose online meeting platform has rocketed to global prominence amid the COVID-19 pandemic, received requests from China’s government to help it suppress commemoration of the June 4, 1989 massacre. Zoom acceded to this request, blocking Zoom accounts affiliated with two prominent Tiananmen activists—Wang Dan and Zhou Fengsuo—both of whom live in exile in the United States, as... Read full story>>

  • Billy H.C. Kwok—Getty Images

    Is Hong Kong about to Get Its Own Foreign NGO Law in the Name of ‘National Security’?

    Thomas Kellogg & Alison Sile Chen

    On May 28, China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) issued a much-anticipated Decision on preservation of national security in Hong Kong. The key paragraph in the short document authorized the NPC’s Standing Committee to “draft laws related to . . . the preservation of national security.” Unsurprisingly, the decision occasioned furious speculation on the ways that the new law, which is expected to be promulgated soon, might criminalize the exercise of basic rights, including the right to... Read full story>>

  • Tomohiro Ohsumi—Getty Images

    For Me, the Breakdown in U.S.-China Relations Is Personal

    Judy Polumbaum

    In my childhood, they were the Red Chinese. In my husband’s upbringing, we were the American imperialists. U.S.-China reconciliation after ping-pong diplomacy enabled us to meet and marry 40 years ago. Those of us with a foot in each world find the renewed hostilities of the Donald Trump-Xi Jinping era especially dispiriting and disruptive. Read full story>>

  • Shen Lu

    Scallion Dutch Baby

    How I Revised My Recipe for Home

    Shen Lu

    The dishes I make myself flavor my moods, and season my experience of the news. As my birth country and my host country cast blame on one another, I eat four-cheese pizza with a side dish of blanched cauliflower seasoned with soy sauce, vinegar, and extra chili oil. Read full story>>

  • (Getty Images)

    Has COVID-19 Changed How China’s Leaders Approach National Security?

    A ChinaFile Conversation

    Rorry Daniels, M. Taylor Fravel & more via ChinaFile Conversation

    While the world is reeling from the cascading shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic, China has continued a comparatively aggressive course in its foreign policy and security posture. Not only has it continued military and paramilitary activities in the South and East China Sea, including exercises around Taiwan, but actions have increased. China’s outreach efforts, including offers of medical supplies and advice, have at times been accompanied not only by vitriolic statements and dubious alternative... Read full story>>

Recent Stories

Viewpoint

04.03.20

‘We’re Hardly Heroic’

Tracy Wen Liu
Dr. Li, a heart specialist at Wuhan No. 4 Hospital, spent the third week of March preparing for the reopening of the hospital’s general clinics, which closed on January 22, when No. 4 became a key facility for treating COVID-19 patients. After...

The Eastern Jesus

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Over the past few years, the authorities in Beijing have given churches across the country orders to “Sinicize” their faith. According to detailed five-year plans formulated by both Catholic and Protestant organizations, much of this process...

Coronavirus and the Korean Peninsula

Paul Haenle, Zhao Tong & more from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
As nations confront the pandemic, rumors of Kim Jong-un’s death and a flurry of North Korean missile tests injected even more uncertainty in the international landscape. How do views in Washington, Seoul, and Beijing differ or align on North Korea?...

Conversation

03.19.20

As Its Coronavirus Outbreak Abates, China Is Trying out a New Look. Is It Working?

Daniel R. Russel, Pamela Kyle Crossley & more
As the coronavirus spreads globally, China’s government is working aggressively to change its international image. In the span of just a few weeks, China has gone from the embattled epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic to presenting the country as...

Viewpoint

02.26.20

Dear Chairman Xi, It’s Time for You to Go

Xu Zhiyong & Geremie R. Barmé
In this open letter, the author urges Xi Jinping to step down. Xu Zhiyong went into hiding in late 2019. The following open letter, which was released on 4 February 4, 2020, was written while he was on the run. On February 15, Xu was detained in the...

Photography & Video

Depth of Field

12.31.19

‘Nowhere to Dock’

Ye Ming, Yan Cong & more from Yuanjin Photo
In 2019, Depth of Field showcased stories covering a range of topics: Shi Yangkun’s nostaglic exploration of China’s last collective villages, Zhu Lingyu’s careful and artisitic portrayal of survivors of sexual violence, and cities seen through the...

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

04.09.20

The Myth of Chinese Capitalism

Dexter Roberts
St. Martin’s Press: Dexter Roberts explores the reality behind today’s financially-ascendant China and pulls the curtain back on how the Chinese manufacturing machine is actually powered. He focuses on two places: the village of Binghuacun in Guizhou province, one of China’s poorest regions that sends the highest proportion of its youth away; and Dongguan, China’s most infamous factory town located in Guangdong, home to both the largest number of migrant workers and the country’s biggest manufacturing base.Within these two towns and the people that move between them, Roberts focuses on the story of the Mo family, former farmers-turned-migrant-workers who are struggling to make a living in a fast-changing country that relegates half of its people to second-class status via household registration, land tenure policies, and inequality in education and health care systems.Roberts brings to life the problems migrant workers face today as they attempt to overcome a divisive system that poses a serious challenge to the country’s future development.

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}

Reports

Reports

09.01.17

The Costs of International Advocacy

Human Rights Watch
Even as it engages with U.N. human rights institutions, China has worked consistently and often aggressively to silence criticism of its human rights record before U.N. bodies and has taken actions aimed at weakening some of the central mechanisms...

Reports

05.24.17

China’s Social Credit System: A Big-Data Enabled Approach to Market Regulation with Broad Implications for Doing Business in China

Mirjam Meissner
Mirjam Meissner
Mercator Institute for China Studies
Under the catchphrase “Social Credit System,” China is currently implementing a new and highly innovative approach to monitoring, rating, and regulating the behavior of market participants. The Social Credit System will have significant impact on...

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