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Tea Leaf Nation

Tea Leaf Nation is a channel on ForeignPolicy.com that decodes Chinese media—mainstream, social, local, special interest—to illuminate the country from within.

Last Updated: February 10, 2016

Media

11.20.15

China Censors Online Outcry After ISIS Execution

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
On November 18, the Islamic State (IS) released photos of what it claimed were two executed hostages. The photos, appearing in the terrorist group’s English-language magazine Dabiq, depict two men with bloodied faces, the word “executed” emblazoned...

Media

11.18.15

Chinese Students in America: 300,000 and Counting

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
In 1981, when Erhfei Liu entered Brandeis University as an undergraduate, he was only the second student from mainland China in the school’s history. “I was a rare animal from Red China,” Liu said in a September 1 interview with Foreign Policy, “an...

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...

Media

11.12.15

Watch Frank Underwood Advertise China’s Black Friday

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
On November 11, at the stroke of midnight Beijing time, millions of Chinese sitting behind their computers or cradling their mobile phones began purchasing cell phones, handbags, and clothing at cutthroat prices. By the end of November 11, analysts...

Media

11.06.15

‘A Brutality Born of Helplessness’

Alexa Olesen
When China finally scrapped its one-child policy after more than three decades of brutality, almost no one lamented its passing. But Paul R. Ehlich, a Stanford-educated biologist and author of the 1968 fear-baiting classic The Population Bomb, was...

Media

11.06.15

Xi Jinping’s Taiwan Trap

Isaac Stone Fish
Before Chinese President Xi Jinping had a dream, his predecessor Hu Jintao had a wish: the “peaceful reunification” of China and Taiwan. In fact, all of Xi’s predecessors since Mao Zedong founded the People’s Republic of China in 1949 have pined for...

Media

11.05.15

With Historic Ma-Xi Summit, Chinese State Media Walks a Fine Line

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
For the first time in 66 years, the president of mainland China and the president of self-governing Taiwan will meet face to face. On November 3, Zhang Zhijun, minister in charge of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, stated that China’s Xi Jinping would...

Media

10.29.15

Ai Weiwei Doesn’t Need Anyone to Give Him Legos

James Palmer
The noted Chinese artist and perennial dissident Ai Weiwei recently announced that Lego, a Denmark-based company, had refused his request to purchase more than a million of the tiny toy bricks for an Australian display of his work “Trace,” a...

Media

10.28.15

‘Stop Boasting and Fight’

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
On October 27, the high-stakes maritime game of chicken that has been playing out in the South China Sea came to a head. In a long-discussed freedom of navigation patrol, the United States sailed the USS Lassen, a guided missile destroyer, within 12...

Media

10.23.15

The Eagle, the Dragon, and the ‘Excellent Sheep’

Former Yale University English professor William Deresiewicz’s book, Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life, created a firestorm in the United States when it was released in August 2014. “The...

Media

10.13.15

Chinese Censors Are Giving North Korea a P.R. Makeover

David Wertime
On October 10, Liu Yunshan, a member of the elite Politburo Standing Committee and one of the seven most powerful men in China, paid a visit to North Korea to observe a massive parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Worker’...

Media

10.02.15

Meet China’s Salman Rushdie

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
On a warm late afternoon in June, I sat with Perhat Tursun as he slowly exhaled a puff of smoke from a blue cigarette with shiny gold trim. Arrayed on the pale lace tablecloth before us was an assortment of nuts, sunflower seeds, and wine. The...

A Quarter of Chinese Under 7 Already Online

Jimmy
Netizens are getting younger and younger these days. In China over a quarter of children under 7 are already online, according to a 2011 report on Internet usage by minors. And parents are not happy about it.

Netizens: 'Power of Weibo,' Not the Law, Saved Wu Ying's LIfe

David Wertime
Ms. Wu, once among the richest women in China, was sentenced to death in January by a provincial court for illegally accumulating over RMB380 million, or about US$60 million, through a combination of loansharking and Ponzi schemes directed at (...

Today's Most Viral Image: Donated School Makes Way for Luxury

David Wertime
It’s one tragedy after another. After Mianyang, Sichuan suffered in the horrible earthquake of 2008, millions of RMB were donated to rebuild a local school. Now, that school has suffered not from a quake, but from greed. With over 16,000 re-posts...