Stuck In The Middle: Korea In Chinese History

J.J.
Economist
For more than two thousand years, successive Chinese dynasties have seen Korea as a tributary to be protected, a prize to be coveted, or as a dangerous land bridge which might convey “outer barbarians” into China. China unsurprisingly has a long...

Poet’s Nightmare In Chinese Prison

Elaine Sciolino
New York Times
 Chinese author and poet Liao Yiwu on his reluctant dissent, his years in a Chinese prison, his relatively new celebrity status, and living with the torutrous memories of his violent experiences. 

Missiles And Memorial Stones: Figuring Out North Korea And China

Didi Kristen Tatlow
International Herald Tribune
Some are speculating that China is trying to ensure that U.S.-North Korean relations remain terrible, as they are, therefore increasing its influence over the region, politically, economically and strategically. 

San Francisco Strengthens Ties With China Despite Washington Suspicion

Rory Carroll
Guardian
San Francisco’s courting of Chinese partnerships contrasts with Washington suspicion towards China. Last year the House Intelligence Committee urged U.S. firms to avoid partnering with Chinese telecom firms, to safeguard customer data. 

Wikileaks Dumps Over 200,000 Documents Related to Kissinger

Wikileaks
A new, full-searchable document dump containing over 206,000 documents related to Henry Kissinger from between 1973 and 1976. 

Playing Margaret Thatcher In China

Melissa Rayworth
Salon
Melissa Rayworth on her  chance to show a small cross-section of China that Margaret Thatcher was not a cartoon. She was a real, three-dimensional person.  

Books

04.12.13

Lin Shu, Inc.

Michael Gibbs Hill
How could a writer who knew no foreign languages call himself a translator? How, too, did he become a major commercial success, churning out nearly 200 translations over twenty years? Lin Shu, Inc. crosses the fields of literary studies, intellectual history, and print culture, offering new ways to understand the stakes of translation in China and beyond. With rich detail and lively prose, Michael Gibbs Hill shows how Lin Shu (1852-1924) rose from obscurity to become China’s leading translator of Western fiction at the beginning of the twentieth century. Well before Ezra Pound’s and Bertolt Brecht’s “inventions” of China revolutionized poetry and theater, Lin Shu and his assistants—who did, in fact, know languages like English and French—had already given many Chinese readers their first taste of fiction from the United States, France, and England. After passing through Lin Shu’s “factory of writing,” classic novels like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Oliver Twist spoke with new meaning for audiences concerned with the tumultuous social and political change facing China. Leveraging his success as a translator of foreign books, Lin Shu quickly became an authority on traditional Chinese culture who upheld the classical language as a cornerstone of Chinese national identity. Eventually, younger intellectuals—who had grown up reading his translations—turned on Lin Shu and tarred him as a symbol of backward conservatism. Ultimately, Lin’s defeat and downfall became just as significant as his rise to fame in defining the work of the intellectual in modern China. —Oxford University Press

China Escalates Its Response To Outbreak Of Avian Flu

Andrew Jacobs
New York Times
Chinese officials escalated their response, advising people to avoid live poultry, sending virologists to chicken farms across the country and slaughtering more than 20,000 birds at a wholesale market in Shanghai.  

China ‘Shifts Position’ On North Korea

Malcolm Moore
Telegraph
Beijing appears to prefer the devil it knows, in the shape of the unpredictable Kim family regime, to the uncertainties, and perhaps American influence, that a reunification on the Korean peninsula could bring, but that seems to be changing.&...

How The American Military Dwarfs China’s In One Infographic

Geoffrey Ingersoll
Business Insider
An infographic from the U.S.C. U.S.-China Institute illustrates well just how outgunned China (and everyone, generally) is by the U.S., regarding firepower, nuclear warhead counts and even the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait...

Jail For Rare China Cultural Revolution Murder Case

Agence France-Presse
Chinese media said Qiu had been arrested last July. But it was unclear why his case went ahead several decades after the Cultural Revolution, a violent period that the government has sought to move beyond. 

Earthbound China

04.11.13

Moving House: Preserving Huizhou’s Vernacular Architecture

Leah Thompson & Sun Yunfan
In 1996, art historian Nancy Berliner, working with the Peabody Essex Museum, purchased a vacant Qing dynasty merchant’s house from the Huizhou region of China and, piece by piece, moved it to the United States to be meticulously reconstructed at...

Earthbound China

04.11.13

There Goes the Neighborhood

Sun Yunfan & Leah Thompson
When, in 1996, art historian Nancy Berliner purchased a late Qing dynasty merchants’ house from Huangcun, a village in Anhui province, it was just one ordinary house among thousands like it in the picturesque Huizhou region of China. It took...

China’s Goodfellas

Howard W. French
Wall Street Journal
“A Death in the Lucky Holiday Hotel” is the most revealing work on the Bo Xilai episode to date. What emerges is an immensely complicated tale of behind-the-scenes power struggles as full of scandal, ambition and betrayal as anything that ancient...

Changing China Through Mandarin

Teng Biao
Seeing Red in China
Mandarin under totalitarianism is brimming with tautologies, self-aggrandizement and gangster logic, it has no use, no mercy, no reason, no fun, and no taste; it is reduced to a language game that has no connection with reality.  

China’s First Lady Serenaded Tiananmen Troops

Associated Press
A photo of China’s new first lady Peng Liyuan in younger days, singing to martial-law troops following the 1989 bloody military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, flickered across Chinese cyberspace...

Viewpoint

04.04.13

‘Hi! I’m Fang!’ The Man Who Changed China

Perry Link
In China in the 1980s, the word renquan (“human rights”) was extremely “sensitive.” Few dared even to utter it in public, let alone to champion the concept. Now, nearly three decades later, a grassroots movement called weiquan (“supporting rights”)...

Conversation

03.28.13

Will China’s Renminbi Replace the Dollar as the World’s Top Currency?

Patrick Chovanec, Damien Ma & more
Patrick Chovanec:This week’s news that Brazil and China have signed a $30 billion currency swap agreement gave a renewed boost to excited chatter over the rising influence of China’s currency, the renminbi (RMB). The belief, in many quarters, is...

China’s Xi Tells Africa He Seeks Relationship Of Equals

Fumbuka Ng’wanakilala and George...
Reuters
On the first stop on an African tour that will include a B.R.I.C.S. summit of major emerging economies, Xi Jinping told Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete that China’s involvement in Africa would help the continent grow richer. 

Lies, Damned Lies, And Chinese Statistics

Tom Orlik
Foreign Policy
Although the information provided by the National Bureau of Statistics is not completely transparent, it has taken steps to free national data from the influence of local exaggeration.

Who Killed Pamela in Peking?

Jonathan D. Spence from New York Review of Books
An ordinary winter evening in the Legation Quarter of Peking, where foreign embassies and consulates were located, January 7, 1937. Cold. The heavy sound of Japanese armored cars, out on patrol down the busy shopping streets that flank the Forbidden...

Their First Trips To China

David Whitford
CNN
David Whitford reviews My First Trip to China, a collection of essays in which distinguished China watchers evoke the world's most dynamic economy as it used to be. 

Xi Pivots To Moscow

John Garnaut
Foreign Policy
Will Xi’s late March 2013 trip to Vladimir Putin’s Russia -- a bastion of authoritarian state capitalism -- symbolically define China’s path ahead, like Deng’s 1979 U.S. tour? 

Sinica Podcast

03.15.13

A Discussion with Geremie R. Barmé

Kaiser Kuo & Geremie R. Barmé from Sinica Podcast
On March 8, Kaiser Kuo hosted a conversation at Capital M in Beijing with Geremie R. Barmé, the well-known Sinologist and now Director of the Australian Centre for China in the World, as part of the Capital Literary Festival. This week on Sinica, we...

China’s Public Expression Philosophy: A Case Of Too Little Theory?

Dr, Rogier Creemers
Free Speech Debate
For the foreseeable future, accepting pluralism, in all its colours and guises, is simply inconceivable in the epistemology of the Communist Party, and so are liberal conceptions of free expression and democracy. 

Half A Century Of Harvesting Souls In China

Debra Bruno
WSJ: China Real Time Report
Mark O'Neill writes about the life of his Presbyterian missionary grandfather, Frederick, who first moved to Manchuria in search of souls to save in 1897 and ended up staying for 45 years. 

Media

03.13.13

Chavez and Bo Xilai Gone: Death of a Political Model?

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez’s death on March 5, 2013 came in the same week as the “Two Sessions” began in China, when China’s national legislature meets in Beijing. It was also almost exactly a year since the spectacular political demise of Bo...

Conversation

03.13.13

China’s Post 1980’s Generation—Are the Kids All Right?

Sun Yunfan, Orville Schell & more
This week, the ChinaFile Conversation is a call for reactions to an article about China's current generation gap, written by James Palmer, a Beijing-based historian, author, and Global Times editor. The article, first published by Aeon in the U...

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.

Chinese Cinemas Cancel Propaganda Film Screenings

Clarence Tsui
Hollywood Reporter
Theater operators in several cities called off showings of government-backed “Young Lei Feng” after the film failed to sell a single ticket during its premiere on Monday.

Sanmao Learns From Lei Feng

Maura Cunningham
Maura Cunningham
Learn how to be a selfless good Samaritan like Lei Feng through Zhang Leping's Sanmao comics.

Chen Guangcheng Q&A

Nathan Gardels
South China Morning Post
The blind lawyer and human rights activists answers questions regarding China's constitution, rule of law in China, and the inevitability of change in the Chinese government.

New Chinese Leader Shores Up Military Support

Chris Buckley
New York Times
Since taking the top party post, Mr. Xi has made a closer relationship with the military with greater speed and sureness than his recent predecessors.  

Chinese Family Memories, Recycled

Kerri MacDonald
New York Times
Thomas Sauvin's photo project, composed of discarded negatives, "starts with birth, [and] ends with death... It talks a bit about love. People go to the beach. People travel." In short, it's about life. 

Man Who Had Mother Executed Wants Tomb Honored

Zhou Qun and Chen Baocheng
The 60-year-old Zhang Hongbing, who was among the most radical Red Guards during the tumultuous 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, describes his life as one full of regret. 

Media

03.05.13

What Do You Know About China’s Politics?

Ouyang Bin & Zhang Xiaoran
The Liang Hui or “Two Sessions”—the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC)—are the most crowded, most covered, and probably most hilarious annual political events in China. Every March,...

The Cold War Meets Taiwan

James R. Holmes
Diplomat
James R. Holmes looks at the applicability of a Cold War analogy in regards to U.S.-China and China-Taiwan relations. 

Mo Yan Grants First Interview Since Winning Nobel Prize

Anthony Tao
Beijing Cream
A look at the highlights from a Der Spiegel interview with Mo, covering Ai Weiwei’s and Liao Yiwu’s criticism of the author, his comments on the Cultural Revolution, and his relationship with the government. 

China’s Xi Affirms Goal Of Unification With Taiwan

Christopher Bodeen
Associated Press
The meeting is the first between Xi and a leading Taiwanese politician since Xi assumed the party leadership and was viewed on both sides as a symbolic gesture aimed at reaffirming warming ties between the two nations.

Books

02.25.13

Star Spangled Security

Harold Brown with Joyce Winslow
Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Harold Brown served during the hottest part of the Cold War when the Soviet Union presented an existential threat to America. In Star Spangled Security, Dr. Brown, one of the most respected wise men of American foreign policy, gives an insider’s view of U.S. national security strategy during the Carter administration, relates lessons learned, and bridges them to current challenges facing America.Brown describes his part in the SALT negotiations, the normalization of relations with China, the Camp David Accords, the development of a new generation of ballistic missiles, and more. Drawing on his earlier years as the director of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, as director of defense research and engineering, as Air Force secretary, and as president of Caltech, Brown uses his hard-won wisdom, especially during the painful Iran hostage crisis, to offer specific recommendations and key questions to ponder as America copes with challenges in a turbulent world.Highly readable, Star Spangled Security is for anyone wishing to better understand the debates about defense and its budget, its effect on the entire economy, and America’s relationship with allies during conflict and peace. Brown’s access to the leading forces in national security over sixty years spans ten presidents, giving the reader entrée into the inner circle of decision makers.Since leaving public office, Brown has served on the boards of directors of a dozen corporations. His unique economic, military, research, university, and government experience—at the top of all institutions he served—makes his a voice well worth heeding. —Brookings Institution Press

China Muscles U.S. in the Pacific

John Garnaut
Age
Within two decades the United States will be forced out of the western Pacific, says a senior Chinese military officer, amid concerns that increasingly militarised great-power rivalry could lead to war.

Vows of Change in China Belie Private Warning

Chris Buckley
New York Times
Xi Jinping told party insiders during a visit to Guangdong Province in December, China must still heed the “deeply profound” lessons of the former Soviet Union.

Conversation

02.15.13

U.S.-China Tensions: What Must Kerry Do?

Dorinda Elliott, Elizabeth Economy & more
Dorinda Elliott:On a recent trip to China, I heard a lot of scary talk of potential war over the disputed Diaoyu Islands—this from both senior intellectual types and also just regular people, from an elderly calligraphy expert to a middle-aged...

North Korea, China Do Their Usual Dance

Joseph Bosco
Christian Science Monitor
North Korea and China have done it again—call it the Pyongyang-Beijing two-step. Though Beijing registered ‘firm opposition’ to North Korea’s nuclear weapons test, it is unlikely to exercise its unique leverage on North Korea to encourage change.

American Policy Towards China: Getting Beyond the Friend-Or-Foe Fallacy

Ely Ratner and Steven Weber
New America
It is not widely accepted that any meaningful relationship can be boiled down to a single index that quantifies where it is at any moment and whether it is “better’’ or “worse” than a week or a month ago.

Waiting for the Next Act

Dorinda Elliott
Cairo Review
“The Taoists have always spoken of an un-carved block, and I think that we should look on the new Chinese leadership as being something like that,” says Orville Schell, Arthur Ross director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society.

Ordering Off the Menu in China Debates

Jeffrey Wassterstrom
Oxford University Press Blog
Mo Yan’s Nobel Prize win last fall led some foreign commentators into an “Ai Weiwei or Zhang Yimou” trap. The former is an artist locked into an antagonistic relationship with the government, the latter a filmmaker who has been...

Five Ways China Could Become a Democracy

Minxin Pei
Diplomat
Few have seriously thought about the probability and the various plausible scenarios of a regime transition in China—until now.

Rebuilding a Relationship, an Interview with Japan’s Ambassador to China

Huang Shan and Takehiro Masutomo
Japan's new envoy to Beijing, Masato Kitera, says his country will never escalate tensions with China, and points out the two countries have a range of issues they cooperate on.

Conversation

02.13.13

North Korea: How Much More Will China Take and How Should the U.S. Respond?

Winston Lord, Tai Ming Cheung & more
China is increasingly frustrated with North Korea and may even see more clearly that its actions only serve to increase allied unity, stimulate Japanese militarism and accelerate missile defense. For all these reasons the U.S. should lean on Beijing...

Books

02.12.13

Zhao Ziyang and China’s Political Future

Guoguang Wu, Helen Lansdowne (Editors)
What legacies have previous reformers like Zhao Ziyang left to today’s China? Does China have feasible political alternatives to today’s repressive ‘market Leninism’ and corrupt ‘state capitalism’? Does Zhao’s legacy indicate an alternative to the past and for the future?For those who are familiar with the development of Chinese politics since the reform years, Zhao is now widely regarded as a major architect of the nation’s profound transition. His contributions to China’s post-Mao development are rich and multi faceted, including those on rural and urban economic reforms extending to accountable governance, liberal policies concerning domestic affairs and China’s foreign relations.Featuring contributions from leading experts in the field such as Richard Baum and Xiaonong Cheng, this book explores the historical development of China’s political reform issues, and how his political legacies are relevant to China’s political development since the 1980s to the future. Using recently translated recollection articles by veteran reformers who worked with Zhao in the 1980s, like Du Runsheng, An Zhiwen, Li Rui, Bao Tong, Zhao Ziyang and China's Political Future is a valuable contribution for students and researchers interested in the Chinese politics, Asian politics and political development in Asia.—Routledge

Zhuang Zedong, Skilled in China Foreign Relations and Ping-Pong, Dies at 72

Douglas Martin
New York Times
In 1971, at the world table tennis championships in Japan, an American player mistakenly boarded a bus carrying the Chinese team. The team had been told not to talk to Westerners, and an awkward silence descended. Ten minutes elapsed. Then the best...

In China, Shock and Acceptance of Pope’s Resignation

Didi Kirsten Tatlow
New York Times
In China, where official relations with the Vatican are a “never ending crisis,” as the Vatican Insider put it recently, the news of the resignation of Pope Benedict has been slow to spread. The Chinese state doesn’t recognize the Pope as the leader...

North Korea’s Nuclear Test: Are You Listening America?

Economist
EARS shut to the impending chorus of international condemnation, North Korea conducted its third nuclear test on February 12th. It said the detonation was of a “smaller and light” atomic bomb that was different from its previous two, and that it had...

Nuclear Test Poses Big Challenge to China’s New Leader

Jane Perlez
New York Times
North Korea's nuclear test in defiance of China’s warnings leaves that country’s new leader, Xi Jinping, with a choice: Does he upset North Korea just a bit by agreeing to stepped up United Nations sanctions, or does he rattle the regime by...

Greenland: China’s Foothold in Europe?

Paula Briscoe
Council on Foreign Relations
China’s current and planned investments in Greenland raise concerns, not only about Chinese access to more of the world’s resources but also about China’s longer term objectives and the foothold in Europe that a strong partnership with Greenland...

Staying Safe During Spring Festival: A Teacher’s Advice to his Students

Jeremiah Jenne
Rectified.name
An actual email from one foreign teacher to his Chinese students—he thought it also might be useful to any first time Spring Festival-ers out there.

Media

02.11.13

Covering China: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

On February 5, 2013, ChinaFile celebrated its official launch by bringing together a panel of former and current New York Times correspondents, whose collective China experience spans the course of half a century, to discuss their coverage of China...

Vipers and Beasts in the Year of the Little Dragon

Geremie Barme
China Story
A certain wariness surrounds the Snake, one of the twelve zoological signs of the traditional Chinese calendar, and not only because the reptile inspires fear and repulsion. 

Japan Protests to China After Radar Pointed At Vessel

Kiyoshi Takenaka
Reuters
A Chinese vessel pointed a type of radar normally used to help guide missiles at a Japanese navy ship near disputed East China Sea islets, prompting the Japanese government to lodge a protest with China, Japanese public broadcaster NHK said.