Books

12.16.15

One Child

Mei Fong
When Communist Party leaders adopted the one-child policy in 1980, they hoped curbing birth-rates would help lift China’s poorest and increase the country’s global stature. But at what cost? Now, as China closes the book on the policy after more than three decades, it faces a population grown too old and too male, with a vastly diminished supply of young workers.Mei Fong has spent years documenting the policy’s repercussions on every sector of Chinese society. In One Child, she explores its true human impact, traveling across China to meet the people who live with its consequences. Their stories reveal a dystopian reality: unauthorized second children ignored by the state, only-children supporting aging parents and grandparents on their own, villages teeming with ineligible bachelors, and an ungoverned adoption market stretching across the globe. Fong tackles questions that have major implications for China’s future: whether its “Little Emperor” cohort will make for an entitled or risk-averse generation; how China will manage to support itself when one in every four people is over sixty-five years old; and above all, how much the one-child policy may end up hindering China’s growth.Weaving in Fong’s reflections on striving to become a mother herself, One Child offers a nuanced and candid report from the extremes of family planning. —Houghton Mifflin Harcourt{chop}

Media

11.13.15

The Real Reason for China’s Two-Child Policy: Millions of New Consumers

Two fictitious Chinese brothers are born in Tuanjiehu Maternity Hospital in the Chinese capital of Beijing. Let’s say the first was born already, in late 2015; his parents nickname him Laoda, meaning “oldest child.” That’s because they have hopes...

Caixin Media

11.10.15

Mao’s ‘Proud Poplar’: Yang Kaihui

Sheila Melvin
Yang Kaihui—who was killed 85 years ago this month—was the first of Mao Zedong’s three freely chosen wives. (Mao was forced by his parents to wed an older neighbor when he was just 14 but did not consider this a true marriage.) Yang’s dramatic, and...

Photo Zines That Explore Singapore’s Identity

Rena Silverman, photos by Sim Chi Yin
New York Times
In 1949, Sim Chi Yin’s grandfather, Shen Huansheng, a school principal and chief editor for the leftist Ipoh Daily newspaper, became a “Communist martyr.” A monument in Gaoshang with the inscription, “The tomb of martyr Shen Huansheng” proves it.

P&G Tripped Up by Its Assumptions About Diapers in China

Serena Ng and Laurie Burkitt
Wall Street Journal
Pampers diapers fall behind after aiming too low at the growing middle class.

Excerpts

03.16.15

The Education of Detained Chinese Feminist Li Tingting

Eric Fish
It is probably fair to say no woman has ever taken more flak for walking into a men’s room than Li Tingting. In the run-up to Women’s Day in 2012, the feminist college student was distressed by the one-to-one ratio of public restroom facilities for...

Culture

02.20.15

‘Still Not Married?’ A Graphic Guide to Surviving Chinese New Year

Roseann Lake
Maya Hong is a Beijing transplant from a small town outside of Harbin, the icy city not far from China’s border with Siberia. Though proud of her glacial origins and skilled at combating subzero temperatures, over the years Hong, 30, has had to add...

Parent Meddling Makes for Unmerry Marriages in China

Laurie Burkitt
Wall Street Journal
"Parental matchmaking is robustly correlated with lower marital harmony,” says a new World Bank report.

Media

02.05.15

Why Chinese Promote Confining New Mothers for a Month

Rachel Lu
HONG KONG—Giving birth is never easy, but for new Chinese mothers the month following a baby’s arrival is particularly fraught. Immediately after I became pregnant for the first time, I started to hear about zuoyuezi, or “sitting the month.” It’s a...

Sinica Podcast

10.17.14

China Daddy Issues

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
We’ve all heard about the difficulty of finding good schools in China, and know first hand about the food and air safety problems. But what about the terrors of pedestrian crossings, the dilemmas of how much trust you should inculcate in your kids,...

Viewpoint

09.19.14

“Daddy’s ‘Friends’ Are Actually Plainclothes Cops”

Zeng Jinyan
[Updated March 18, 2015] The essay that follows was written by Zeng Jinyan, whose former partner, Hu Jia, has been prominently involved in activism around environmental issues, AIDS, and human rights in China over the past decade and a half and is a...

Sinica Podcast

08.08.14

In Memory of Jenkai Kuo

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, Jeremy and David welcome back Kaiser to remember the life and lessons of his father, Jenkai Kuo (Guo Jingkai) (郭倞闓). He was an upstanding man who spent much of his life dedicated to his passions, none more important than his...

Sino-African Marriages in China: ‘Til Death Do Us Part’?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
A marriage boom of sorts is underway in China, where a growing number of African men are tying the knot with Chinese women. While these new families are breaking long-held cultural stereotypes, they are also confronting a whole set of new challenges...

Features

02.14.14

It’s Hard to Say ‘I Love You’ in Chinese

Roseann Lake
“We didn’t say ‘I love you,’” said Dr. Kaiping Peng, Associate Professor of Psychology Emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley. I’d ventured over to his China office on the campus of Beijing’s mighty Tsinghua University to talk to him...

Viewpoint

02.04.14

In Slickness and in Wealth

Leta Hong Fincher
Under the harsh glare of a studio spotlight, bride-to-be Tong turns her face until it is almost completely in shadow. Tong is posing for a three-day session of wedding photographs at Shanghai’s premier Princess Studio, where couples spend between 3,...

Law Requires Chinese to Visit Their Aging Parents

Louise Watt
Associated Press
It’s still unclear how much the amended law changes the status quo. Elderly parents in China already have been suing their adult children for emotional support, and the new wording does not specify how often people must visit, and other details...

Media

06.03.13

Online Outrage After Chinese City Proposes Fine on Single Mothers

Women giving birth out of wedlock in China have to contend with family pressure, social stigma, and financial hardship. Now, some of them may have to pay a hefty fine as well.Wuhan, a city of more than 10 million people in Central China, posted a...

Excerpts

05.29.13

Every Thousand Years

Dan Washburn
There are no guardrails on the road to Qixin. And there is only one other way to the top of the mountain—a four-hour hike. It was February, and the ice and snow from Guizhou’s winter storms had recently melted, leaving the famously treacherous cliff...

The Balinghou: China’s Generation Gap

James Palmer
Aeon Magazine
The raft of criticisms being levelled at the generation of children born in the 80s has very little to do with the actual failings of the young, but is a symptom of the yawning, and unprecedented gulf between young urban Chinese and their parents.