• Hkun Lat—Getty Images

    Will Protests against China Push Beijing to Intervene in Myanmar?

    Abby Seiff

    Angry with the results of the November election, which saw a landslide win for the ruling National League for Democracy party, Myanmar’s military claimed electoral fraud. On February 1, they seized power from the civilian government, rounding up longtime NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the rest of the country’s civilian leadership and unleashing an increasingly violent force against the public. Hundreds of thousands have since taken to the streets, and the military has arrested thousands and... Read full story>>

  • Jason Redmond—AFP via Getty Images

    Abandoning Criticism of China’s Government Isn’t the Right Way to End Anti-Asian Racism in the U.S.

    Ho-fung Hung

    The recent surge of anti-Asian violence across the U.S., culminating in the tragedy of the Atlanta shooting, reminds us that the mainstream (mis)representation of Asian Americans as a model minority never spares us from racist hatred and the perception of Asians as a “yellow peril.” What complicates the matter is that the Chinese government, having dug its heels into an intensifying rivalry with the U.S., is not missing any chance to bring up racism to delegitimize America’s democracy and... Read full story>>

  • Sean Gallup—Getty Images

    Shielding Corporate Interests, Europe Leaves NGOs Working in China by the Wayside

    If ratified, the EU-China investment agreement will shield corporate interests from human rights concerns while effectively deserting European NGOs and foundations trying to work in China.

    Bertram Lang

    In late December 2020, at the end of a very turbulent year in Europe-China relations, and after more than seven years of often strenuous negotiations, the European Union (EU) and China agreed on the terms of a “Comprehensive Agreement on Investment.” The European Commission and heads of state and government inked the deal despite vocal warnings from experts across Europe to allow time for further deliberation. Debates over the CAI, however, thus far have ignored the implications for non-profits... Read full story>>

  • Anthony Kwan—Getty Images

    Hong Kong’s Economic Future

    A ChinaFile Conversation

    Ho-fung Hung, Flora Huang & more via ChinaFile Conversation

    If conventional wisdom held that China would never risk Hong Kong’s market, that was predicated on a specter of a foreign financial exodus. When the national security law was promulgated, experts warned of an international withdrawal and an end to Hong Kong’s status as a global financial capital. Thus far, that seems not to have come to pass. Hong Kong’s economy shrank a record 6 percent last year, due to the pandemic, but is forecast to recover significantly by the end of 2021. Even as the... Read full story>>

  • (FeatureChina via AP)

    In Xinjiang, Rare Protests Came Amid Lockdown

    Tracy Wen Liu

    Six months after China rolled out its first coronavirus lockdown in Wuhan in late January 2020, Urumqi was placed under quarantine. The first lockdown specifically targeting the capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, rather than the region as a whole, which began July 18, was not unique; lockdowns of infected cities have been a key tool to controlling outbreaks in China since the coronavirus began spreading. But in a region subject to strict control, the Urumqi lockdown was China’s... Read full story>>

  • (Bloomberg/Contributor/Getty Images)

    ‘Because There Were Cameras, I Didn’t Ask Any Questions’

    Chinese Government Documents Provide New Details on a Small Xinjiang Town’s Extensive System of Surveillance

    Darren Byler

    Sometime in the summer of 2019, Vera Zhou, a young college student from the University of Washington, forgot to pretend that she was from the non-Muslim majority group in China, the Han. At a checkpoint at the mall, she put her ID on the scanner and looked into the camera. Immediately, an alarm sounded and the guards manning the equipment pulled her aside. That was when she remembered that when she ventured outside the jurisdiction of her police precinct she should pretend that she had... Read full story>>

  • Steven Weinberg for ChinaFile

    Message Control

    How a New For-Profit Industry Helps China’s Leaders ‘Manage Public Opinion’

    Jessica Batke & Mareike Ohlberg

    Li Wenliang’s death had only been announced a few hours earlier, but Warming High-Tech was already on the case. The company had been monitoring online mentions of the COVID-whistleblower’s name in the several days since police had detained and punished him for “spreading rumors.” Now, news of his deteriorating condition, and eventual passing, had triggered a deluge of sorrow and outrage online adorned with candle emojis, photos of farewell wishes scrawled into the snow, and a final image of the... Read full story>>

  • Steven Weinberg for ChinaFile

    Pretty Lady Cadres

    New Data Shows the Limits of Women’s Advancement in China’s Leadership

    Shen Lu

    In early February, at the beginning of the outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 virus in China, Wang Fang, a local Communist Party secretary, was working around the clock. As an official responsible for 19,000 residents of a neighborhood in the city of Deyang in Sichuan province, Wang spent her days answering questions from concerned citizens via WeChat and figuring out who needed to quarantine. Read full story>>

  • (Courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio)

    State of Surveillance

    Government Documents Reveal New Evidence on China’s Efforts to Monitor Its People

    Jessica Batke & Mareike Ohlberg

    Across China, in its most crowded cities and tiniest hamlets, government officials are on an unprecedented surveillance shopping spree. The coordination of the resulting millions of cameras and other snooping technology spread across the country remains partial at best, its efficacy uncertain. Yet, despite its limitations, surveillance in China differs dramatically in both execution and scale from its practice in other parts of the world. These are among the key findings of ChinaFile’s analysis... Read full story>>

Recent Stories



Will China Be a Global Vaccine Leader?

Deborah Seligsohn, Jenny Lei Ravelo & more
Beijing stands to reap major rewards by becoming the supplier of choice—or necessity—throughout low- and middle-income countries. China has expanded its international aid efforts in recent years and stressed its commitment to “south-south”...



How the CCP Took over the Most Sacred of Uighur Rituals

Timothy Grose
The rooster hadn’t even stopped his crowing when the police arrived at my Uighur host’s courtyard in rural Turpan one early spring morning in 2008. Although they spoke calmly, almost apologetically, the uniformed Uighur officers demanded that the...

How Did China Beat Its COVID Crisis?

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
The coronavirus was a big deal; it was something that I (and many other smug foreigners) misjudged but that the Chinese authorities accurately saw as a public health crisis. The thought and effort that went into the flyer were especially impressive...

China’s First Big #MeToo Case Tests the Party

Lavender Au from New York Review of Books
In November, a court at last notified Zhou Xiaoxuan, known more commonly by her nickname, Xianzi, that it would try her case, a civil lawsuit filed in 2018 against television host Zhu Jun, who she alleges sexually harassed her. But when the trial...

Photography & Video

Depth of Field


‘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


‘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...




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.



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}




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...



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...