03.23.20

‘I Feel Like I Am Committing Crimes’

Elaine Lu
On July 22 last year, three activists from the public interest NGO Changsha Funeng were detained and later formally arrested for “subversion of state power.” Cheng Yuan, Liu Dazhi, and Wu Gejianxiong, known as the “Changsha Three,” have been...

Books

02.18.20

Vigil

Jeffrey Wasserstrom
Columbia Global Reports: The rise of Hong Kong is the story of a miraculous post-war boom, when Chinese refugees flocked to a small British colony, and, in less than 50 years, transformed it into one of the great financial centers of the world. The unraveling of Hong Kong, on the other hand, shatters the grand illusion of China ever having the intention of allowing democratic norms to take root inside its borders. Hong Kong’s people were subjects of the British Empire for more than a hundred years, and now seem destined to remain the subordinates of today’s greatest rising power.But although we are witnessing the death of Hong Kong as we know it, this is also the story of the biggest challenge to China’s authoritarianism in 30 years. Activists who are passionately committed to defending the special qualities of a home they love are fighting against Beijing’s crafty efforts to bring the city into its fold—of making it a centerpiece of its “Greater Bay Area” megalopolis.Jeffrey Wasserstrom draws on his many visits to the city, and knowledge of the history of repression and resistance, to help us understand the deep roots and the broad significance of the events we see unfolding day by day in Hong Kong. The result is a riveting tale of tragedy but also heroism—one of the great David-versus-Goliath battles of our time, pitting determined street protesters against the intransigence of Xi Jinping, the most ambitious leader of China since the days of Mao.{chop}

Viewpoint

12.11.19

Is Violence in Hong Kong’s Protests Turning off Moderates?

Andy Buschmann
As protests in Hong Kong have become more violent, have the demographics of the protesters changed? The level of violence employed by protesters as well as the police force has escalated to new heights ever since July 21, when alleged triad members...

Viewpoint

11.14.19

Violence by Hong Kong Protesters Won’t Advance Their Cause

Thomas Kellogg
I have watched with growing concern as violence has intensified in Hong Kong. I have been deeply dismayed to see escalating police violence, which has fundamentally damaged the reputation of a police force once known as among Asia’s best. And I have...

Conversation

11.04.19

How Should Universities Respond to China’s Growing Presence on Their Campuses?

Charles Edel, Vicky Xiuzhong Xu & more
How should universities encourage respectful dialogue on contentious issues involving China, while at the same time fostering an environment free of intimidation, harassment, and violence? And how should university administrators and governments...

Postcard

10.17.19

‘If We Give up on Our Husbands Today, Tomorrow Our Children Will Be Ashamed of Us’

Jiang Xue
This is a story about fear and the attempt to conquer fear. The wives of some of the lawyers who disappeared in China’s “709” crackdown have suffered house arrest, threats, and suppression. In their search to find their husbands, they hope no longer...

Postcard

08.28.19

Thwarted at Home, Can China’s Feminists Rebuild a Movement Abroad?

Shen Lu & Mengwen Cao
A small number of China’s feminist movement’s influential thinkers and organizers have relocated overseas, in search of an environment more hospitable to their activism. Today, though their numbers are relatively small, they have succeeded in...

Conversation

08.27.19

Can China’s Government Replace Hong Kong?

David Schlesinger & Jerome A. Cohen
As the Hong Kong protests enter their fourth month with no end in sight, on August 18 Beijing announced that the nearby Chinese metropolis of Shenzhen would again become a new type of special economic zone. In a clear message to Hong Kong, the plan...

Viewpoint

08.27.19

China’s Government Wants You to Think All Mainlanders View Hong Kong the Same Way. They Don’t.

Kiki Tianqi Zhao
Mainland Chinese flood the Internet with messages calling protesters in Hong Kong “useless youth.” They send obscene messages and death threats to supporters of the Hong Kong demonstrations. But reports on episodes like this, while important, are...

Conversation

08.07.19

Will Hong Kong Unravel?

Ho-fung Hung, Thomas Kellogg & more
Beijing’s top official in Hong Kong, Wang Zhimin, called the protests a “life and death war” and compared them to the “color revolutions.” Coming a week after Hong Kong police charged 44 people with rioting and days after strikes paralyzed parts of...

Conversation

06.19.19

Hong Kong in Protest

David Schlesinger, Ho-fung Hung & more
On June 16, an estimated 2 million people took to the streets to protest the Hong Kong government’s handling of a proposed extradition bill. This followed two massive demonstrations against the bill earlier in the month, including one where police...

Viewpoint

05.31.19

Taiwan and Hong Kong Have a Stake in Mainland China’s Political Development. They Should Act on It.

Andreas Fulda
A range of observers and experts predicted that mainland China’s rapid economic modernization since the early 1990s would lead to social and political liberalization. Needless to say, that has not come to pass. The mainland’s economic reforms have...

Ai Weiwei Responds To Chinese Authorities Destroying His Beijing Studio

Shannon Von Sant
NPR
In Beijing, the AFP reports that authorities have slated the neighborhood surrounding Ai's studio for redevelopment. According to the AP, Beijing has destroyed "large swaths of the suburbs over the past year in a building safety campaign...

Viewpoint

07.13.18

‘Liu Knew His Responsibility in History’

Ian Johnson
He was risking not the immediate arrival of soldiers, but the inevitable and life-threatening imprisonment that befalls all people who challenge state power in China today. This was not an active decision to die, but a willingness to do so. The...

China: Security Guards Assault Women Attending LGBT Event

Lily Kuo
Guardian
Women wearing rainbow badges were blocked from entering Beijing’s 798 arts district by guards who punched them and then knocked them to the ground.

China Rebuffs Criticism of Decision to Bar British Activist from Hong Kong

Benjamin Haas and Tom Phillips
Guardian
China has rebuffed criticism of its decision to bar a prominent British activist from Hong Kong, declaring itself unshakably opposed to foreign interference in the former colony’s affairs.

From Innovation to Provocation, China’s Artists on a Global Path

Holland Cotter
New York Times
Strange to say, although China has 1.4 billion people, it has only one artist, Ai Weiwei. Or so you’d think if you followed the Western news media. “Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World” at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum wants to correct...

China 'Feminist Five' Activist Handed 10-Year Travel Ban

Yuan Yang and Emily Feng
Financial Times
One of China’s “Feminist Five” group of women who were arrested for campaigning against sexual harassment has been barred from leaving the country for a decade, in the latest example of Beijing’s ever-tightening grip on civil society.

The Lonely Struggle of Lee Ching-yu

Richard Bernstein from New York Review of Books
On March 19, a human rights activist from Taiwan named Lee Ming-che disappeared in mainland China, and his wife back in Taipei, Lee Ching-yu, became a member of one of the least desirable clubs in the world: the spouses of people who for political...

Viewpoint

06.26.17

Why Are So Many Tibetans Moving to Chinese Cities?

Gerald Roche, Ben Hillman & more
China’s Tibetan areas have been troubled by unrest since 2008, when protests swept the plateau, followed by a series of self-immolations which continue to this day. The Chinese state, as part of its arsenal of responses, has intensified urbanization...

China Charges Labor Activist for ‘Picking Quarrels’

Chun Han Wang
Wall Street Journal
A Chinese activist who for years has documented worker unrest faced charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” on Friday, in a trial seen as a bellwether of Beijing’s approach to containing labor tensions.

China Says It Has Detained Rights Activist from Taiwan

Chris Buckley and Chris Horton
New York Times
The detention adds to signs of an intensified clampdown on outsiders working with China’s beleaguered rights lawyers and groups.

As Hong Kong Chooses Its Next Leader, China Still Pulls the Strings

Alan Wong
New York Times
For the fifth time, Hong Kong’s next chief executive will be selected on Sunday by a committee stacked with supporters of the Chinese government rather than by a free election.

I Went to Jail for Handing out Feminist Stickers in China

Li Maizi
Guardian
The backlash is painful, but it coexists with progress as women activists manage—slowly—to bring about a change in attitudes

China’s Congress Meeting Brings Crackdown on Critics

Louise Watt and Isolda Morillo
Washington Post
Chinese authorities have shut down activist Ye Haiyan’s blogs and forced her to move from one city to another. Left with few options, she now produces socially conscious paintings to make a living and advocate for the rights of sex workers and...

We Must Resist until China Gives Hong Kong a Say in Our Future

Joshua Wong and Emily Lim
Guardian
If Beijing allows human rights to deteriorate in Hong Kong, then the whole country will lose all hope of reform

‘We the Workers’: On the Front Lines of China’s Record-Level Labor Unrest

James Griffiths
CNN
Zhang Zhiru is one of a shrinking number of Chinese labor activists helping workers in the world’s second largest economy fight for their rights—an ongoing crackdown has seen dozens detained and slapped with heavy prison sentences.

Trump’s Feminist Critics Gagged by Chinese Internet Giant Weibo

Tom Phillips
Guardian
Chinese feminists have hit out at their country’s answer to Twitter after it gagged one of their movement’s most visible social media accounts in an apparent bid to stifle criticism of U.S. president Donald Trump.

Fighting on Behalf of China’s Women—From the United States

Luo Siling
New York Times
Among hundreds of thousands of women who took to the streets for the Women’s March on Washington were Lu Pin and more than 20 other Chinese feminists who live in the United States and belong to the Chinese Feminism Collective

China Police Confirm Detention of Human Rights Lawyer Jiang Tianyong

Benjamin Haas
Guardian
The activist’s family are still waiting to hear from him despite officials saying he was released more than two weeks ago

Inside and Outside the System: Chinese Writer Hu Fayun

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Over the summer, I traveled to Wuhan to continue my series of talks with people about the challenges facing China. Coming here was part of an effort to break out of the black hole of Beijing politics and explore the view from China’s vast hinterland...

Books

10.11.16

The Red Guard Generation and Political Activism in China

Guobin Yang
Raised to be “flowers of the nation,” the first generation born after the founding of the People’s Republic of China was united in its political outlook and ambitions. Its members embraced the Cultural Revolution of 1966 but soon split into warring factions. Guobin Yang investigates the causes of this fracture and argues that Chinese youth engaged in an imaginary revolution from 1966 to 1968, enacting a political mythology that encouraged violence as a way to prove one’s revolutionary credentials. This same competitive dynamic would later turn the Red Guard against the communist government.Throughout the 1970s, the majority of Red Guard youth were sent to work in rural villages. These relocated revolutionaries developed an appreciation for the values of ordinary life, and an underground cultural movement was born. Rejecting idolatry, their new form of resistance marked a distinct reversal of Red Guard radicalism and signaled a new era of enlightenment, culminating in the Democracy Wall movement of the late 1970s and, finally, the Tiananmen protest of 1989. Yang completes his significant recasting of Red Guard activism with a chapter on the politics of history and memory, arguing that contemporary memories of the Cultural Revolution are factionalized along the lines of political division that formed 50 years before. —Columbia University Press{chop}

China Says Countering Dalai Lama is Top Ethnic Priority in Tibet

Michael Martina
Reuters
Region's Communist Party boss vows to uproot the monk's "separatist and subversive" activities

‘The Songs of Birds’

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Day and night,I copy the Diamond Sutraof Prajnaparamita.My writing looks more and more square.It proves that I have not gone entirelyinsane, but the tree I drewhasn’t grown a leaf.—from “I Copy the Scriptures,” in Empty ChairsEvery month, the...

Gay Pride: China Activists Fight ‘Conversion Therapy’

Benjamin Haas
Hong Kong Free Press
Coming out was never going to be easy, but Yu never thought it would see him committed

The People in Retreat

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Ai Xiaoming is one of China’s leading documentary filmmakers and political activists. Since 2004, she has made more than two dozen films, many of them long, gritty documentaries that detail citizen activism or uncover whitewashed historical events...

China Warns Hong Kong Democracy Activists After Election

BBC
Many in Hong Kong are increasingly concerned about Beijing's interventions in its politics.

Chinese Activist Zhai Yasmin Found Guilty of Subversion

BBC
Hundreds are detained since last year as a part of a crackdown on ‘legal activism’.....

Culture

06.29.16

Using Free Sex to Expose Sexual Abuse in China

Jonathan Landreth
Nanfu Wang hoped that a woman called Ye Haiyan (“Hooligan Sparrow”), who had offered free sex on the Internet to draw attention to the plight of poor women selling their bodies to support their children, would lead her to the prostitutes she wanted...

Green Space

01.14.16

Waking the Green Tiger

This documentary—available in full on ChinaFile throughout January courtesy of filmmaker Gary Marcuse—follows a group of environmental activists trying to prevent the construction of dams on the Nu (Salween) and the Upper Yangtze (Jinsha) rivers in...

China is Said to Formally Arrest Four Human Rights Activists

Michael Forsythe
New York Times
The move continues a nationwide sweep of more than 200 lawyers and associates who worked on civil rights cases

China: Novelists Against the State

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
Can writers help an injured society to heal? Did Ōe Kenzaburō, who traveled to Hiroshima in 1963 to interview survivors of the dropping of the atomic bomb on that city eighteen years earlier, and then published a moving book called Hiroshima Notes,...

Episode 36 – Sim Chi Yin

Sharron Lovell & Sim Chi Yin
Multimedia Week
Sharron Lovell speaks with Sim Chi Yin about crossing the lines between journalism and advocacy. Chi Yin recently published her four year story following a Chinese gold miner suffering with the lung disease silicosis, caused by years of inhaling...

Books

06.10.15

China’s Millennials

Eric Fish
In 1989, students marched on Tiananmen Square demanding democratic reform. The Communist Party responded with a massacre, but it was jolted into restructuring the economy and overhauling the education of its young citizens. A generation later, Chinese youth are a world apart from those who converged at Tiananmen. Brought up with lofty expectations, they’ve been accustomed to unprecedented opportunities on the back of China’s economic boom. But today, China’s growth is slowing and its demographics rapidly shifting, with the boom years giving way to a painful hangover.Immersed in this transition, Eric Fish, a millennial himself, profiles youth from around the country and how they are navigating the education system, the workplace, divisive social issues, and a resurgence in activism. Based on interviews with scholars, journalists, and hundreds of young Chinese, his engrossing book challenges the idea that today’s youth have been pacified by material comforts and nationalism. Following rural Henan students struggling to get into college, a computer prodigy who sparked a nationwide patriotic uproar, and young social activists grappling with authorities, Fish deftly captures youthful struggle, disillusionment, and rebellion in a system that is scrambling to keep them in line—and, increasingly, scrambling to adapt when its youth refuse to conform.—Rowman & Littlefield{chop}

Environment

05.28.15

Chinese Posters Warn of the Dangers of Smog

from chinadialogue
{slideshow, 16211, 4}An exhibition of smog-inspired posters is touring the polluted cities of northern and eastern China this month to draw attention to the impending environmental disaster.Created by a group of Chinese designers, the 300 posters...

Environment

04.16.15

Petrochemical Plant Explosion Vaporizes Government Safety Assurances

from chinadialogue
Opposing the construction of petrochemical plants making Paraxyline (PX), a key ingredient in plastic bottles and polyester clothing, has been one of the most common forms of environmental activism for China’s urban residents in the past decade.On...

Media

04.15.15

Online Support–and Mockery–Await Chinese Feminists After Release

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
On April 13, Chinese authorities released on bail five feminist activists detained for over a month without formal charges. Despite tight censorship surrounding their detention, support on Chinese social media and thinly veiled media criticism...

China’s ‘Comfort Women’

Lucy Hornby
Financial Times
Thousands of Chinese women were forced into sex slavery during the second world war. Here is one survivor’s story. 

China Celebrates International Women’s Day By Arresting Women’s Rights Activists

Matthew Sheehan
Huffington Post
Many women’s rights groups activists who also work on LGBT issues have gone into hiding.

Young, Idealistic, and Caught Up in a Wave of Detentions

Didi Kirsten Tatlow
New York Times
Well educated and deeply committed to helping their fellow Chinese, Liu Jianshu and Zhao Sile are the kind of idealistic young people who pepper the story of China’s transformation over the past century as it searches for a modern identity.

China Detains Scholar, Bans Books in Crackdown on Moderate Voices

Sui-Lee Wee and Megha Rajagopalan
Reuters
China has detained prominent scholar Guo Yushan, who helped blind dissident Chen Guangcheng flee to the United States two years ago and has banned books by eight writers in a crackdown on dissent.

An Online Shift in China Muffles an Open Forum

Ian Johnson
New York Times
In recent months, Chinese microblogging service Weibo has been eclipsed by the Facebook-like WeChat, which allows instant messaging within self-selected circles of followers.

Who is Xu Zhiyong?

Malcolm Moore
Telegraph
Four people whose lives were change by Xu Zhiyong describe how he helped them. 

The Trial of the Chinese Dream

Evan Osnos
New Yorker
Xu Zhiyong tried to change China from the inside, but now he will be tried by the inside. 

Chinese Activists Test New Leader and Are Crushed

Andrew Jacobs, Chris Buckley
New York Times
Prominent activist, Xi Zhiyong, is indicted in a harsh warning to the New Citizens Movement. 

It’s O.K. to Protest in China, Just Don’t March

Shankar Vedantam
NPR
King has just completed two studies that peer into the Chinese censorship machine — including a field experiment within China that was conducted with extraordinary secrecy. The studies refute popular intuitions about what Chinese censors are after...

Kunming Pollution Protest Is Tip Of Rising Chinese Environmental Activism

Jennifer Duggan
Guardian
The frequency of protests is rising as China’s increasingly affluent and middle-class society becomes more aware of environmental issues. This protest in Kunming is the second large protest in a week over environmental concerns. 

Why China Executes So Many People

Zi Heng Lim
Atlantic
While anti-death penalty activists say public education is needed to get the message out, they believe change ultimately needs to come from the top -- something that they're not optimistic about at all. 

More Citizens Detained in China for Demanding Public Disclosure of Officials’ Personal Wealth

Yaxue Cao
Seeing Red in China
Dissident intellectuals pointed out that the regime is not afraid of what you say, no matter how strong; however, it is fearful of any form of organization and collective activities, and it has been cracking down harshly on these street...