Conversation

02.23.17

Can China Expand its Beachhead in Hollywood?

Stanley Rosen, Ying Zhu & more
With The Great Wall, a classic army vs. monsters tale, director Zhang Yimou has brought America the most expensive Chinese film ever created. The movie may be backed by a Hollywood studio and it may star no less an American icon than Matt Damon, and...

Books

02.16.17

Chinese Theology

Chloë Starr
In this groundbreaking and authoritative study, Chloë Starr explores key writings of Chinese Christian intellectuals, from philosophical dialogues of the late imperial era to micro-blogs of pastors in the 21st century. Through a series of close textual readings, she sheds new light on such central issues in Chinese theology as Christian identity and the evolving question of how Christians should relate to society and state.Reading these texts in their socio-political and traditional literary contexts, Starr opens a new conversation about the nature of Chinese theology and the challenge it offers to a broad understanding of how theology is created and contextualized. Concentrating on those theologians who have engaged most actively with their cultural and political milieus, Starr argues throughout her readings, as she examines how Chinese literary traditions and reading patterns have shaped Chinese theology, that text is as important as context. —Yale University Press{chop}

Trump Will Honor ‘One China’ Policy

Paul Haenle & Evan Medeiros from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
President Trump agreed to honor the U.S. “one China” policy in his first phone call with President Xi Jinping since taking office, providing the basis for bilateral relations to move forward. Shortly after the February 9 call, Paul Haenle spoke with...

Books

02.07.17

Shanghai Faithful

Jennifer Lin
Within the next decade, China could be home to more Christians than any other country in the world. Through the 150-year saga of a single family, this book vividly dramatizes the remarkable religious evolution of the world’s most populous nation. Shanghai Faithful is both a touching family memoir and a chronicle of the astonishing spread of Christianity in China. Five generations of the Lin family—buffeted by history’s crosscurrents and personal strife—bring to life an epoch that is still unfolding.A compelling cast—a poor fisherman, a doctor who treated opium addicts, an Ivy League-educated priest, and the charismatic preacher Watchman Nee—sets the book in motion. Veteran journalist Jennifer Lin takes readers from remote nineteenth-century mission outposts to the thriving house churches and cathedrals of today’s China. The Lin family—and the book’s central figure, the Reverend Lin Pu-chi—offer witness to China’s tumultuous past, up to and beyond the betrayals and madness of the Cultural Revolution, when the family’s resolute faith led to years of suffering. Forgiveness and redemption bring the story full circle. With its sweep of history and the intimacy of long-hidden family stories, Shanghai Faithful offers a fresh look at Christianity in China—past, present, and future. —Rowman & Littlefield{chop}

Viewpoint

02.07.17

Can the New U.S. Ambassador to China See Xi Jinping for Who He Really Is?

Jeffrey Wasserstrom
When the Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds confirmation hearings on Terry Branstad’s nomination to be Ambassador to China, the Iowa Governor is sure to be asked about the positions of the president who nominated him. I hope, though, that...

Conversation

02.05.17

Is The White House Beginning to Resemble Zhongnanhai?

Melissa Chan & Yifu Dong
Since Donald Trump was sworn into office on January 20, he has lied repeatedly about the size of the crowd at his inauguration, embraced xenophobic policies, and declareda “running war with the media.” The White House has frozen out the...

Books

02.01.17

Unlikely Partners

Julian Gewirtz
Unlikely Partners recounts the story of how Chinese politicians and intellectuals looked beyond their country’s borders for economic guidance at a key crossroads in the nation’s tumultuous 20th century. Julian Gewirtz offers a dramatic tale of competition for influence between reformers and hardline conservatives during the Deng Xiaoping era, bringing to light China’s productive exchanges with the West.When Mao Zedong died in 1976, his successors seized the opportunity to reassess the wisdom of China’s rigid commitment to Marxist doctrine. With Deng Xiaoping’s blessing, China’s economic gurus scoured the globe for fresh ideas that would put China on the path to domestic prosperity and ultimately global economic power. Leading foreign economists accepted invitations to visit China to share their expertise, while Chinese delegations traveled to the United States, Hungary, Great Britain, West Germany, Brazil, and other countries to examine new ideas. Chinese economists partnered with an array of brilliant thinkers, including Nobel Prize winners, World Bank officials, battle-scarred veterans of Eastern Europe’s economic struggles, and blunt-speaking free-market fundamentalists.Nevertheless, the push from China’s senior leadership to implement economic reforms did not go unchallenged, nor has the Chinese government been eager to publicize its engagement with Western-style innovations. Even today, Chinese Communists decry dangerous Western influences and officially maintain that China’s economic reinvention was the Chinese Communist Party’s achievement alone. Unlikely Partners sets forth the truer story, which has continuing relevance for China’s complex and far-reaching relationship with the West. —Harvard University Press{chop}

A Chinese Nuclear Site, Hidden in a Mountain, Is Reborn as a Tourist Draw

Amy Qin
New York Times
Fifteen years ago, the local government announced that inside the hollowed-out mountain lay the remnants of what was once one of China’s most ambitious military infrastructure projects: the top-secret 816 nuclear plant.

Scientists Discover Prehistoric Giant Otter Species in China

Merrit Kennedy
NPR
Six million years ago, giant otters weighing more than 100 pounds lived among birds and water lilies in the wooded wetlands of China’s Yunnan province.

Viewpoint

01.23.17

The Chairmen, Trump and Mao

Geremie R. Barmé
The January 13, 1967 issue of TIME magazine featured Mao Zedong on its cover with the headline “China in Chaos.” Fifty years later, TIME made U.S. President-elect Donald Trump its Man of The Year. With a groundswell of mass support, both men...

Can Donald Trump Break Beijing’s ‘One China’ Obsession?

Chow Chung-yan
South China Morning Post
Through force and diplomacy, many renowned figures have tried to divide the country, and all have failed. Still, the new U.S. president seems to want the issue back on the table and, if so, he has a steep, historic hill to climb

Sinica Podcast

01.19.17

The State of Journalism in China—Ed Wong’s Exit Interview

Jeremy Goldkorn, Kaiser Kuo & more from Sinica Podcast
Edward Wong became a reporter for The New York Times in 1999. He covered the Iraq war from Baghdad from 2003 to 2007, and then moved to Beijing in 2008. He has written about a wide range of subjects in China for the Times, and became its Beijing...

Sinica Podcast

01.13.17

Can the Vatican and China Get Along?

Jeremy Goldkorn, Kaiser Kuo & more from Sinica Podcast
Ian Johnson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has lived in Beijing and Taiwan for more than half of the past 30 years, writing for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, and other publications. He has...

China, Fanning Patriotism, Adds Six Years to War with Japan in History Books

Javier Hernandez
New York Times
For generations, the “Eight-Year War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression” has been ingrained in the minds of Chinese schoolchildren. Now the war is getting a new name, and an extended time frame.

History Shows Beijing Won’t Budge an Inch on Taiwan

Patricia Kim
Foreign Policy
Trump might want to use the island as a bargaining chip—but for China, it’s a matter of principle

Books

01.04.17

The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China

Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom
This lavishly illustrated volume explores the history of China during a period of dramatic shifts and surprising transformations, from the founding of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) through to the present day.The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China promises to be essential reading for anyone who wants to understand this rising superpower on the verge of what promises to be the “Chinese century,” introducing readers to important but often overlooked events in China’s past, such as the bloody Taiping Civil War (1850-1864), which had a death toll far higher than the roughly contemporaneous American Civil War. It also helps readers see more familiar landmarks in Chinese history in new ways, such as the Opium War (1839-1842), the Boxer Uprising of 1900, the rise to power of the Chinese Communist Party in 1949, and the Tiananmen protests and Beijing Massacre of 1989.This is one of the first major efforts—and in many ways the most ambitious to date—to come to terms with the broad sweep of modern Chinese history, taking readers from the origins of modern China right up through the dramatic events of the last few years (the Beijing Games, the financial crisis, and China’s rise to global economic pre-eminence) which have so fundamentally altered Western views of China and China’s place in the world. —Oxford University Press{chop}

How Tibet Is Being Crushed—While the Dalai Lama Survives

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
If you read every page of Tsering Woeser’s latest book and skip the first and last chapters of Tsering Topgyal’s, the ultimate message about the situation in Tibet is often the same. Chinese rule, writes Woeser, is no less than “ethnic oppression,”...

Conversation

12.21.16

Did Oslo Kowtow to Beijing?

Isaac Stone Fish, Stein Ringen & more
In 2010, the Oslo-appointed Nobel Peace Prize committee bestowed the honor on imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. Furious with the selection of Liu, a human rights advocate, who is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence on spurious...

Books

12.20.16

The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom

John Pomfret
From the clipper ships that ventured to Canton hauling cargos of American ginseng to swap for Chinese tea, to the U.S. warships facing off against China’s growing navy in the South China Sea, from the Yankee missionaries who brought Christianity and education to China, to the Chinese who built the American West, the United States and China have always been dramatically intertwined. For more than two centuries, American and Chinese statesmen, merchants, missionaries, and adventurers, men and women, have profoundly influenced the fate of these nations. While we tend to think of America’s ties with China as starting in 1972 with the visit of President Richard Nixon to China, the patterns—rapturous enchantment followed by angry disillusionment—were set in motion hundreds of years earlier.Drawing on personal letters, diaries, memoirs, government documents, and contemporary news reports, John Pomfret reconstructs the surprising, tragic, and marvelous ways Americans and Chinese have engaged with one another through the centuries. A fascinating and thrilling account, The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom is also an indispensable book for understanding the most important—and often the most perplexing—relationship between any two countries in the world. —Henry Holt{chop}

Viewpoint

12.15.16

The Missing Topic in Trump’s Tough Talk on China

Melissa Chan
President-elect Donald Trump’s rhetoric suggests he will push China on many issues, not just one. Some observers have held on to the hope that his phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, his burst of anti-China tweets, and his most recent...

Books

12.15.16

Crashing the Party

Scott Savitt
It’s 1983. Scott Savitt, one of the first American exchange students in Beijing, picks up his guitar and begins strumming “Blackbird.” He’s soon surrounded by Chinese students who know every word to every Beatles song he plays. Savitt stays on in Beijing, working as a reporter for Asiaweek Magazine. The city’s first nightclubs open; rock ‘n’ roll promises democracy. Promoted to foreign correspondent for The Los Angeles Times and then United Press International, Savitt finds himself drawn into China’s political heart. His girlfriend is the assistant to Bette Bao Lord, the wife of the U.S. ambassador. He interviews people who will become leaders of the democracy movement.Later, at 25 years old, Savitt is the youngest accredited foreign correspondent in China, with an intimate knowledge of Beijing’s backstreets. But as the seven-week occupation of Tiananmen Square ends in bloodshed on June 4, 1989, his greatest asset is his flame-red 500cc Honda motorcycle—giving Savitt the freedom to witness first-hand what the Chinese government still denies ever took place. After Tiananmen, Savitt founds the first independent English-language newspaper in China, Beijing Scene. He knows that it’s only a matter of time before the authorities move in, and sure enough, in 2000 he’s arrested, flung into solitary confinement and, after a month in jail, deported.Savitt’s extraordinary memoir of his two decades in China manages to take an extremely complex political-historical subject and turn it into an adventure story. —Soft Skull{chop}

Media

12.09.16

U.S.-China Relations As a Cycle of ‘Rapturous Enchantment’ and ‘Deep Disappointment’

Eric Fish from Asia Blog
In 1872, China’s imperial government began sending teenage boys to the United States to study science and technology. After a series of “humiliating” military defeats at the hands of technologically superior foreign powers, China’s leaders realized...

Conversation

12.05.16

Should Washington Recalibrate Relations with Taipei?

Yu-Jie Chen, J. Michael Cole & more
On Friday, Donald Trump shocked the China-watching world when news broke that he had spoken on the phone to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. The call was remarkable not for its content—Tsai’s office said she told Trump she hoped the United States “...

Features

12.02.16

How Do You Stand up to China? Ask Mongolia

Sergey Radchenko
The day before the Dalai Lama’s November 18 trip to Mongolia, Beijing issued a “strong demand” to its neighbor to cancel the visit of the “anti-Chinese separatist” or face (unstated) consequences. The Dalai Lama would be making his ninth visit to...

Viewpoint

12.01.16

Why I’m Giving Away My Book in China

Mei Fong
After a decade covering Asia for The Wall Street Journal, I devoted three years of my life to researching and writing a book about China’s one-child policy, One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment. This month, I’m giving away the...

Viewpoint

11.29.16

The Anti-Mainland Bigotry of Hong Kong’s Democracy Movement

Taisu Zhang
Given the political earthquake that occurred on November 8, the recent political and constitutional crisis in Hong Kong now seems comparatively diminished in significance. At the time, however, it was widely seen as—and continues to be—a major...

Stuck at the Bottom in China

Lijia Zhang
New York Times
If the Chinese government is serious about fostering a stable and harmonious society, it must address limits on social mobility before it’s too late

Castro’s Death a Reminder in China of Changed Communist Axis

Gerry Shih Associated Press
Washington Post
China and Cuba frequently nod to their shared ideological history, but relations revolve more around developing beach resorts or Chinese telecoms investments

Animosity in a Burmese Hub Deepens as Chinese Get Richer

Jane Perlez
New York Times
Locals view Chinese as taking advantage of Mandalay’s location and resources. Chinese view locals as beneath them, slow at business and making money.

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...

A Magician of Chinese Poetry

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
Some people, and I am one, feel that Tang (618–907 CE) poetry is the finest literary art they have ever read. But does one need to learn Chinese in order to have such a view, or can classical Chinese poetry be adequately translated?In 1987 Eliot...

Caixin Media

11.18.16

Is the Trump Victory a Blow to Globalization?

The 2016 U.S. presidential election ended with the surprise victory of property mogul Donald J. Trump. An outsider without a political track record, Trump defied predictions by most polls, pundits, and political observers when he defeated Hillary...

Conversation

11.15.16

Should China’s Neighbors Rely on the U.S. for Protection?

Richard J. Heydarian, Sheila Smith & more
President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on a platform of neo-isolationism that could see many traditional U.S. allies in Asia left without Washington’s support in the newly roiled waters of the South- and East China Seas. What will the governments...

With Odes to Military March, China Puts Nationalism into Overdrive

Javier Hernandez
New York Times
President Xi has been making the case for a “new long march,” using the anniversary to rally the public and warn against creeping complacency

For Chinese Women, a Surname is Her Name

Didi Kirsten Tatlow
New York Times
Keeping a surname is not an expression of marital equality, but of powerful patriarchal values. A married woman continued to be identified by her father’s lineage.

Depth of Field

11.08.16

Dongbei’s Last Match Factory, Capital Straphangers, Retracing the Long March...

Yan Cong, Ye Ming & more from Yuanjin Photo
In October, several publications marked the 80th Anniversary of the Chinese Communists’ Long March. We have chosen two stories that revisited this event and that were standouts, visually. Elsewhere, photographers followed stories both large and...

In Xi’s China, Everything Old is New Again

Julian Gewirtz and Jeff Wasserstrom
Foreign Policy
Eighty years after the end of the Long March, a Communist leader asks for another one. What is he really seeking?

A Plea to Britain: Don’t Forget Tibet in Your Dealings With China

Lobsang Sangay
Guardian
Britain has a fine history of upholding the democratic values of Tibet. It must do once again as it negotiates business and trade ties with Beijing

China: The Virtues of the Awful Convulsion

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
For decades, Beijing’s Beihai Park has been one of the city’s most beloved retreats—a strip of green around a grand lake to the north of the Communist Party’s leadership compound, its waters crowded with electric rental boats shaped like ducks and...

Researcher Uncovers How Victims of China’s Cultural Revolution Really Died

Violet Law
Los Angeles Times
Her persistence has pierced the official silence enforced by the Chinese government. As time goes on, families of those who died are more willing to open up

Features

10.21.16

The Separation Between Mosque and State

Alice Y. Su
Driving through the Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu province, in China’s northwest, minarets puncture the sky every few minutes. Many rise out of mosques that resemble Daoist temples, their details a blend of traditional Chinese and...

Sinica Podcast

10.20.16

The Consequences of the One-Child Policy Will Be Felt for Generations

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
The first day of 2016 marked the official end of China’s one-child policy, one of the most controversial and draconian approaches to population management in human history. The rules have not been abolished but modified, allowing all married Chinese...

Delia Davin Obituary

John Gittings
Guardian
A pioneer of Chinese women’s studies who avoided the stereotypes offered by the communist regime and its critics

Police Recover 300 Million Yuan Worth of Stolen Sichuan Relics

Teng Jing Xuan
The two-year operation ends with 70 arrests and breakup of 10 criminal gangs

Viewpoint

10.14.16

Let One Hundred Panthers Bloom

Eveline Chao
“Chairman Mao says that death comes to all of us, but it varies in its significance: to die for the reactionary is lighter than a feather; to die for the revolution is heavier than Mount Tai.” So wrote Huey P. Newton, founder of the Black Panther...

Discoveries May Rewrite History of China’s Terracotta Warriors

Ann Williams
National Geographic
Finds at the famous tomb complex point to influences from abroad and a blood-soaked succession after the death of China's first emperor...

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}

Books

10.07.16

The Age of Irreverence

Christopher Rea
The Age of Irreverence tells the story of why China’s entry into the modern age was not just traumatic, but uproarious. As the Qing dynasty slumped toward extinction, prominent writers compiled jokes into collections they called “histories of laughter.” In the first years of the Republic, novelists, essayists, and illustrators alike used humorous allegories to make veiled critiques of the new government. But, again and again, political and cultural discussion erupted into invective, as critics gleefully jeered and derided rivals in public. Farceurs drew followings in the popular press, promoting a culture of practical joking and buffoonery. Eventually, these various expressions of hilarity proved so offensive to high-brow writers that they launched a concerted campaign to transform the tone of public discourse, hoping to displace the old forms of mirth with a new one they called youmo (humor).Christopher Rea argues that this period—from the 1890s to the 1930s—transformed how Chinese people thought and talked about what is funny. Focusing on five cultural expressions of laughter—jokes, play, mockery, farce, and humor—he reveals the textures of comedy that were a part of everyday life during modern China’s first “age of irreverence.” This new history of laughter not only offers an unprecedented and up-close look at a neglected facet of Chinese cultural modernity, but also reveals its lasting legacy in the Chinese language of the comic today and its implications for our understanding of humor as a part of human culture. —University of California Press{chop}

Conversation

10.06.16

Is the Growing Pessimism About China Warranted?

David Shambaugh, David M. Lampton & more from Washington Quarterly
There are few more consequential questions in world affairs than China’s uncertain future trajectory. Assumptions of a reformist China integrated into the international community have given way in recent years to serious concerns about the nation’s...

Fate Catches Up to a Cultural Revolution Museum in China

Didi Kirsten Tatlow
New York Times
The museum was covered up and shut down in the spring, a few weeks before the 50th anniversary of the start of the Cultural Revolution.

‘Botched’ Repair to China’s Great Wall Inspires Outrage

Chris Buckley and Adam Wu
New York Times
The shoddy paving over of a stretch of the Wall criticized for effacing the ancient monument

Depth of Field

09.12.16

African Migrants in Guangzhou, Forgetting, Family Planning’s Fate, and More...

Yan Cong, Ye Ming & more from Yuanjin Photo
Photographing the aftermath of catastrophic events is challenging—one that photographer Mu Li handles with creativity and grace looking back at the chemical explosion in Tianjin that damaged as many as 17,000 homes August 12, 2015. Another challenge...

Viewpoint

09.08.16

Mao the Man, Mao the God

Sergey Radchenko
Mao Zedong was dying a slow, agonizing death. Diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in July 1974, he gradually lost control of his motor functions. His gait was unsure. He slurred his speech and panted heavily. The decline was...

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...

Conversation

09.01.16

What Can We Expect from China at the G20?

Sophie Richardson, Joanna Lewis & more
On September 4-5, heads of the world’s major economies will meet in the southeastern city of Hangzhou for the G20 summit. The meeting represents “the most significant gathering of world leaders in China’s history,” according to The New York Times...

Sinica Podcast

08.31.16

What Is Cultural About the Cultural Revolution? Creativity Amid Destruction

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This year marked the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, a chaotic decade of Chinese history made infamous in the West through books such as Wild Swans and Life and Death in Shanghai, which describe in horrific detail the...

Excerpts

08.18.16

Why an Elite Chinese Student Decided Not to Join the Communist Party

Alec Ash
“Wish Lanterns” follows the lives of six Chinese born between 1985 and 1990 as they grow up, go to school, and pursue their aspirations. Millennials are a transformational generation in China, heralding key societal and cultural shifts, and they are...