• Kevin Frayer—Getty Images

    China in Protest

    A ChinaFile Conversation

    Guobin Yang, Taisu Zhang & more via ChinaFile Conversation

    Over the weekend, large demonstrations broke out in cities across China. The protests followed news, spread rapidly across Chinese and international social media, that a fire in an apartment building in Xinjiang’s capital of Urumchi on Friday had turned deadly, claiming at least 10 lives, possibly as a result of the region’s COVID lockdowns. Throngs of residents took to the streets in anger, where the singing of “The Internationale” and China’s national anthem mingled with calls to end the zero... Read full story>>

  • Joe Raedle—Getty Images

    The Appliances Are Listening

    An Excerpt from ‘Trafficking Data: How China Is Winning the Battle for Digital Sovereignty’

    Aynne Kokas

    Americans’ addiction to low-cost consumer products, particularly connected (or “smart”) devices, has led to a world where data security takes a back seat to affordability. Consumer products have razor-thin profit margins, making everything from smart watches to baby monitors a potential source of data exploitation. Since firms with significant operations in China face intensive pressure to share consumer data with China’s government, affordability directly works against the safety and security... Read full story>>

  • Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images

    U.S.-China Dynamics in Southeast Asia

    A China in the World Podcast

    Paul Haenle & Evan A. Laksmana via Carnegie China

    Paul Haenle speaks with Evan Laksmana about U.S.-China dynamics in Southeast Asia and Southeast Asian views of U.S. foreign policy in the region. Haenle and Laksmana touch on the role of ASEAN, the Quad, and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, as well as China and the United States’ competing visions of regional order. Read full story>>

  • Kevin Frayer—Getty Images

    The Beginning of the End for Zero COVID?

    A ChinaFile Conversation

    Taylor Loeb, Johanna M. Costigan & more via ChinaFile Conversation

    At the end of October, videos began circulating on social media of workers at an iPhone plant in the city of Zhengzhou fleeing factory grounds to escape a quarantine lockdown of some 200,000 employees. Whether the workers wanted to escape the lockdown itself or avoid COVID infection, the incident highlighted the ongoing challenges China faces in its management of the epidemic, and underlined the questions surrounding the longevity of China’s zero-COVID policy. Some experts expect China’s... Read full story>>

  • (Courtesy of Harper Collins)

    ChinaFile Presents: Nury Turkel, No Escape

    Nury Turkel & Jessica Batke

    In his recent book, No Escape: The True Story of China’s Genocide of the Uyghurs, attorney and activist Nury Turkel tells his personal story—his birth in a re-education camp in China, his journey to the United States, and his career working to end the ongoing human rights crisis in his native Xinjiang. On November 1, Turkel spoke with ChinaFile Senior Editor Jessica Batke. Read full story>>

  • China’s Next Act

    A Q&A with Scott Moore

    Susan Jakes & Scott Moore

    While discussions of U.S.-China relations tend to revolve around trade and national security, more focus ought to be given to issues of environmental sustainability, including health, and to emerging technology, argues the University of Pennsylvania’s Scott Moore. Moore spoke with ChinaFile Editor Susan Jakes about his recent book, China’s Next Act: How Sustainability and Technology are Reshaping China’s Rise and the World’s Future. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation. Read full story>>

  • (VCG/Getty Images)

    In Tibet, Officials’ Pursuit of Zero-COVID Sent Tens of Thousands into Mass ‘Isolation’ Facilities

    Robert Barnett

    The general attitude in Lhasa since early September has been marked by concern and discontent. Its focus has been primarily on the mass transfer by city officials of thousands of citizens to isolation camps, and on the ways in which officials have carried out those transfers. But what has made the government pay attention to those concerns is that, on or just after September 15, messages from Tibet attracted the attention of sympathizers throughout China and went viral on Sinophone social media. Read full story>>

  • Nicolas Asfouri—AFP/Getty Images

    Elections? No Thank You. Performance Reviews? Maybe.

    Leaders at All Levels of China’s Government Seek Feedback through Public Opinion Polling

    Jessica Batke

    In recent years, both Chinese state and Communist Party organizations have fielded thousands of public opinion polls, on subjects ranging from hospital services, to rural revitalization, to food safety. Yet, much of the information gleaned from these surveys remains inaccessible to anyone else. And, since the mid-2010s, non-governmental entities, particularly foreign ones, have found it increasingly difficult to conduct their own surveys in China. Read full story>>

  • (Gansu Forest Fire Department via Zhihu)

    How to Become a Better Firefighter in Gansu? Read ‘1984,’ ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People,’ and ‘The Complete Book of Jewish Wisdom’

    Jeffrey Sequeira

    On April 23, 2022, the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) marked World Book Day with a meeting in Beijing to “study and implement the important instructions of Party General Secretary Xi Jinping and deepen the development of CPPCC member reading activities.” At the same time, fire departments across China observed the occasion with “study sessions” and reading activities designed to “keep the leaders’ instructions in mind and forever remain... Read full story>>

Recent Stories

China: Back to Authoritarianism

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Over the past decade, Xi has become a transformational figure on a par with the two other giants of Chinese Communist Party rule: Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. Like them, he has reversed earlier policies, in Xi’s case the relative openness that his...

Conversation

10.11.22

On the Eve of the Party Congress, What’s Ahead for China’s Economy?

Guonan Ma, Ryan Hass & more
Three years of zero-COVID and a lingering property crisis have taken a toll on China’s economy. What are the prospects for an economic turnaround in the coming months? And if it doesn’t come to pass, what will a slowing economy spell for the Party’s...
08.08.22

Nevertheless, Chinese Civil Society Persisted

Alison Sile Chen
In an autocracy, atomized individuals, without power or influence, seem to have only two options: willingly serve as “social livestock,” or accept their fate and lie flat. But in a society as large as China’s, with 1.4 billion people, can that...

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'...

Excerpts

09.06.22

The American-Trained Rocket Scientist Who Shaped China’s Surveillance System

Josh Chin & Liza Lin
The role Qian Xuesen would play in propelling China into a technological and ideological clash with the United States seems almost fated in retrospect. Born in Hangzhou in 1911, the year China’s last dynasty crumbled, Qian had traveled to the United...

Features

08.04.22

In What Purport to be Lifestyle Videos, Uyghur Influencers Promote Beijing’s Narrative on Their Homeland

Rune Steenberg & Seher
For the past few years, Uyghur and other young members of ethnic minority groups from Xinjiang have been creating videos like Anniguli’s in which they appear to display details of their personal lives while simultaneously evincing support for the...
06.21.22

‘China’s Surveillance State Is Growing: These Documents Reveal How.’

The Visual Investigations team at The New York Times reported and produced this video, using some 100,000 procurement documents provided by ChinaFile. Research shared with the Times built off of Jessica Batke and Mareike Ohlberg’s ChinaFile article...

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}

Reports

Reports

01.12.21

Precarious Progress

Darius Longarino
Darius Longarino
OutRight Action International
Whether state decisionmakers in the coming years and decades will pursue policies to protect the equal rights for LGBT people will come down to a mix of ideology, pragmatism, and public pressure. LGBT advocates are striving to turn that calculus in...

Reports

02.01.21

Hong Kong’s National Security Law

Lydia Wong and Thomas Kellogg
Lydia Wong & Thomas Kellogg
The Center for Asian Law at Georgetown University
The National Security Law (NSL) constitutes one of the greatest threats to human rights and the rule of law in Hong Kong since the 1997 handover. This report analyzes the key elements of the NSL, and attempts to gauge the new law’s impact on human...