Reformers Aim to Get China to Live up to Own Constitution

Edward Wong and Jonathan Ansfield
New York Times
After the chaos of the Cultural Revolution, the surviving Communist Party leaders pursued a project that might sound familiar to those in the West: Write a constitution that enshrines individual rights and ensures rulers are subject to law, so that...

(Essay) Masters of Subserviance

Louisa Lim
New York Times
The Chinese author Wang Xiaofang learned to write corruption exposés the hard way. His decade as a pen-pushing civil servant culminated in a three-year investigation for corruption while his boss, the deputy mayor of the rust-belt city of Shenyang,...

Xu Liangying, 92, Scientist and Advocate, Dies

Chris Buckley
New York Times
“Superstition is the great enemy of truth,” Xu told a Chinese magazine, Caijing, last year. “We must use science and democracy to eradicate modern superstitions of every kind, to eradicate superstitions that are born of loyalty.”

Books

01.31.13

Tombstone

Yang Jisheng
An estimated 36 million Chinese men, women, and children starved to death during China’s Great Leap Forward in the late 1950s and early ’60s. One of the greatest tragedies of the twentieth century, the famine is poorly understood, and in China is still euphemistically referred to as the “three years of natural disaster.”As a journalist with privileged access to official and unofficial sources, Yang Jisheng spent twenty years piecing together the events that led to mass nationwide starvation, including the death of his own father. Finding no natural causes, Yang lays the deaths at the feet of China’s totalitarian Communist system and the refusal of officials at every level to value human life over ideology and self-interest.Tombstone is a testament to inhumanity and occasional heroism that pits collective memory against the historical amnesia imposed by those in power. Stunning in scale and arresting in its detailed account of the staggering human cost of this tragedy, Tombstone is written both as a memorial to the lives lost—an enduring tombstone in memory of the dead—and in hopeful anticipation of the final demise of the totalitarian system. —Farrar, Straus and Giroux

China’s Ethnic Manchus Rediscovering Their Roots

Barbara Demick
Los Angeles Times
Aristocracy is no longer a dirty word in China, and those with ties to the nation's last imperial rulers are now embracing their past.

Conversation

01.30.13

China, Japan and the Islands: What Do the Tensions Mean?

Orville Schell, John Delury & more
How did the Diaoyu, Spratly, and Paracel islands come to replace Taiwan as the main source of tension for maritime Asia? And how are we to explain the fact that China’s foreign policy toward its Asian neighbors has now morphed from such slogans as...

China Announces Naval Exercises Amid Japan Tensions

Christopher Bodeen
Associated Press
China said Wednesday that its navy would proceed with a deep-water training exercise amid a continuing spat with Japan over disputed islands in the East China Sea that has sparked regular confrontations among patrol boats from each side.

China Leader Affirms Policy on Islands

Christopher Buckley
New York Times
China won't bargain over what it deems to be “core” territorial and security interests, the country’s top leader, Xi Jinping, said in his first published speech setting out his foreign policy views since taking over as head of the Communist...

Dissident Chen Sure 1-Party China Will Change

The Associated Press
Associated Press
“It’s an inevitability of history, whether the party likes it or not,” Chen said. “Once the people are waking up, change is coming for sure.”

Xi Jinping’s Opposition to Political Reforms Laid out in Leaked Internal Speech

John Kennedy
South China Morning Post
Beijing-based writer Gao Yu’s writing on a speech Xi Jinping made during his “southern  tour” in December, suggests Xi, who blames those not “man enough” to do what had to be done to save the Soviet Communist Party from itself, has even...

Beijing Observation: Xi Jinping the Man

Gao Yu
Seeing Red in China
Xi Jinping’s “new southern tour speech,” made in December, began circulating last week in the party. It reads like a confirmation of Harvard Professor Roderick MacFarquhar’s prediction that the likelihood of the Chinese Communist Party reforming...

New Komeito, LDP at Odds Over How to Improve Ties with China

Norihisa Hoshino and Atsushi Okudera
Asahi Shimbun
New Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi's meeting on Jan. 25 with Chinese leader Xi Jinping highlighted the differences emerging within the ruling coalition over how to improve ties with Beijing.

Peak Toil

Economist
In the first of two articles about the impact of China’s one-child policy, The Economist looks at China's shrinking working-age population.

China Wouldn’t Mind a Unified Korea--Just Not Yet

Matt Schiavenza
Atlantic
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, China has had the dubious distinction of being North Korea’s only ally and friend on the world stage.

Sen. Kerry’s Approach to China as Secretary of State

Nina Hachigian
Center for American Progress
On his first trip to China as Secretary of State, Sen. Kerry should make the rhetorical case for a positive future vision of the bilateral relationship based on rules.

Books

01.24.13

Shangri-La

Michael Yamashita
The legendary Chamagudao, the Tea Horse Road, winds through dizzying mountain passes, across famed rivers like the Mekong and the Yangtze, and past monasteries and meadows in a circuitous route from Sichuan and Yunnan provinces in western China to the Tibetan capital city of Lhasa. Actually a network of roads, trails, and highways, rather than one distinct route, the Chamagudao once stretched for almost 1400 miles (2350 km)—a conduit along which the historic trade between the mighty Chinese empire and the nomadic Tibetans linked remote villages and ethnic groups. The Chinese military needed strong horses for their wars against Mongol invaders from the north, and the fiercely religious Tibetans desired tea for sacred rituals and sustenance. Once tea was introduced into Tibet around the 10th century, demand for it grew. Tea soon became a staple for Tibetans, especially when combined with their other staple, yak butter. But with Tibet’s extreme temperatures and altitudes, tea cultivation on a large scale was impossible. This set the stage for the tea-horse trade, which, by the 11th century, flourished along the Chamagudao, continuing until the 1950s. But getting these prized commodities to their growing markets was no easy feat. To transport the tea over the mountains meant many months of hard and dangerous travel for the hundreds of porters.Today, as Chinese culture merges with and even absorbs Tibetan traditions, the Tea Horse Road is a relic of a vastly different time. The Chinese are rapidly paving dirt roads to make highways for cars and trucks. Soon there will be little evidence of this once vital trade route. Though horses are no longer a military imperative for the Chinese army, Tibet has a new commodity that is in much demand in China. A homely caterpillar infected by a parasitic fungus has replaced the horse trade in Tibet. The yartsa gombu is prized for its medicinal qualities. Now Tibetans nomads drive Land Cruisers and motorcycles instead of horses, thanks to the profits they make collecting and selling the miracle mushroom worth more than gold. So trade continues, even though relics of the tea-horse trade are becoming harder to find. Following the Chamagudao, this book is a rare intimate look into the changing world of Tibet—both ancient and modern, sacred and commonplace, the rarefied and the gritty—before the legends and mysteries of the Tea Horse road disappear into the Tibetan mist. —White Star {chop}

Enduring Mao’s China Led Geomagic’s Ping Fu To See The World In 3D

Anthony Wing Kosner
Forbes
Bend Not Break is  Ping Fu's memoir of growing up during the Cultural Revolution and winding up founding a successful, important tech company in America.

Viewpoint

01.24.13

China at the Tipping Point?

Perry Link & Xiao Qiang
Of all the transformations that Chinese society has undergone over the past fifteen years, the most dramatic has been the growth of the Internet. Information now circulates and public opinions are now expressed on electronic bulletin boards with...

Ex-China Leader Steps Back, Fueling Speculation

Chris Buckley
New York Times
A decade after Jiang Zemin stepped down as China’s top leader he has used the death of a former rival to signal that he may allow his political shadow to recede.

(Editorial) Fate of the World Rests with SIno-U.S. Ties

Global Times
The gap between the strength of China and the US will narrow. Previous experiences in international politics will be viewed as realistic reasons to exacerbate tensions between the two sides. This is a dangerous era.

When Tibet Loved China

Isaac Stone Fish
Foreign Policy
Rare Cultural Revolution Era photos from the Land of Snows.

The Next War?

Michael Klare
TomDispatch
China, Japan, and various other Asian countries insist a group of tiny islands are theirs alone. Toss in national pride and you have the potential for one of the dumber, more destructive face-offs in recent history.

China Says U.S. Culpable in Japan Island Dispute

The Associated Press
Associated Press
China says the U.S. has "undeniable historical responsibility" in Beijing's dispute with Japan over islands in the East China Sea.

A New Opportunity for China-South Korea Relations Under Park Geun-hye and Xi Jinping?

Scott A. Snyder
Council on Foreign Relations
South Korea and China are natural economic partners, but North Korea continues to rear its head as a challenging sticking point between the two sides.

China Seeks Peaceful End to Dispute as Japan Pledges Calm

Michael Wei, Stephen Tan and Isabel...
Bloomberg
China wants to settle territorial issues peacefully and criticized U.S. Secretary of State Clinton for comments made after she met Japan’s Foreign Minister.

Infographic Map: Territorial Disputes Involving Japan

The New York Times
New York Times
Territorial disputes linked to Japan’s 20th-century military expansion across Asia, which ended in World War II, persist today.

Abe Adviser: Japan, China Need “Rules of the Game”

Reuters
Reuters
China scrambled two J-10 fighters last week after two Japanese F-15s followed a Chinese military aircraft on a "routine patrol".

The Drums of War: China and Japan Square Up

The Economist
Economist
Watch Chinese TV these days and you might conclude that the outbreak of war with Japan over what it calls the Senkaku and China the Diaoyu islands is imminent.

Talking Trust with China's Army

Didi Kirsten Tatlow
New York Times
With suspicion apparently the order of the day in East and Southeast Asia, an American scholar's visit to a Chinese military forum turned up some fascinating things to say.

Viewpoint

01.15.13

Will Xi Jinping Differ from His Predecessors?

Andrew J. Nathan
As part of our continuing series on China’s recent leadership transition, Arthur Ross Fellow Ouyang Bin sat down with political scientist Andrew Nathan, who published his latest book, China’s Search for Security, in September.In the three videos...

China Censorship Protest "Living in Truth" (Opinion)

Christian Science Monitor Editorial...
Christian Science Monitor
Protests erupt following a strike by journalists at a Chinese newspaper whose editorial on free speech was censored. Unlike most other protests in China, this one is about living in the truth.

The Old Fears of China’s New Leaders

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
I felt a shudder of déjà vu watching the mounting protests inside China this week of the Communist Party for censoring an editorial in Southern Weekend, a well-known liberal newspaper in the southern city of Guangzhou. It is all too similar to the...

Why China and Japan Can't Get Along (Opinion)

Odd Arne Westad
New York Times
There are few societies on earth more complementary than China's and Japan's. But Japan is afraid of China’s rise, and China is troubled by Japan.

My First Trip

12.31.12

After Ping Pong, Before Kissinger

Robert Keatley
My first trip to China apparently began in Montreal.It was April 1971, and the American ping-pong team had just been invited to China, opening the public part of the complex diplomacy that eventually brought Richard Nixon to Beijing and direct...

Caixin Media

12.28.12

Uncertain Future for Architectural Treasures

Nestled between mountains and a winding river in a scenic corner of Shanxi province is Zhongyang County, the home of an exquisite Confucian temple built during the Ming dynasty.The colorful wooden temple graced this idyllic valley for hundreds of...

Out of School

12.24.12

Politics and the Chinese Language

Perry Link
The awarding of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature to the Chinese novelist Mo Yan has given rise to energetic debate, both within China’s borders and beyond. Earlier this month, ChinaFile ran an essay by Chinese literature scholar Charles Laughlin...

Beijing's Doomsday Problem

Ian Johnson
New York Review of Books
Over the past 10 days, China's been riveted by accounts of what authorities call a doomsday cult: the church of Almighty God. 

In the People’s Liberation Army

Mo Yan
New York Review of Books
Mo Yan, recent recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, describes an experience in the People's Liberation Army in the 1970s. This text is excerpted from his part fiction, part memoir Change.

In China, New Leadership and New Style

Bill Bishop
New York Times
Xi Jinping is hitching himself to Deng Xiaoping’s legacy and style and is serious about reinvigorating reforms.

The Hungry Years

Pankaj Mishra
New Yorker
Pankaj Mishra reviews two new books on Mao Zedong and the Great Famine of 1958-62.

Top 10 Myths About China in 2012

Evan Osnos
New Yorker
This year may prove to be a pivot point, when the myths that China and the world had adopted about the politics and economics of the People’s Republic began to erode. 

My First Trip

12.03.12

A China Frontier: Once the Border of Borders

Orville Schell
In 1961, when I first arrived in Hong Kong as an aspiring young China scholar, there was something deeply seductive about the way this small British enclave of capitalism clung like a barnacle to the enormity of China’s socialist revolution. Because...

China Unearths Vast Ancient Palace Near Terracotta Army in Xi'an

Jonathan Kaiman
Guardian
The palace is the largest discovered in the emperor's sprawling second century BC mausoleum, which lies on the outskirts of Xi'an, an ancient capital city in central China.

China Overtaking U.S. as Global Trader

Joe McDonald and Youkyung Lee
Associated Press
In just five years, China has surpassed the U.S. as a trading partner for much of the world.  The first story in new Associated Press series on "China's Reach."

Opinion: China's Narrative of Han Expansion

Philip Bowring
South China Morning Post
China's focus on its role as victim of past humiliation is tempered by the spread of its largest ethnic group.

Out of School

11.30.12

Heirs of Fairness?

Taisu Zhang
An unusual debate on what may seem an arcane topic—China’s imperial civil service examinations—recently took place on the op-ed page of the The New York Times. The argument centered on the question of whether or not China during the past 1000 years...

Culture

11.27.12

Remember to Tell the Truth

Maya E. Rudolph
The recording of memory brings history to life and creates a legacy of its own. In 2010, documentary filmmaker Wu Wenguang launched the Memory Project to try to shine a light on the long-shrouded memories of one of modern China’s most traumatic...

Will China's New Leaders Change Tibet policy?

Martin Patience
BBC
Xi Zhongxun, father of China's new president, Xi Jinping, was a former leader known for a more conciliatory approach to Tibetans.

China: Worse Than You Ever Imagined

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Last summer I took a trip to Xinyang, a rural area of wheat fields and tea plantations in central China’s Henan province. I met a pastor, a former political prisoner, and together we made a day trip to Rooster Mountain, a onetime summer retreat for...

Books

11.20.12

Mao: The Real Story

Alexander V. Pantsov, Steven I. Levine
Mao Zedong was one of the most important figures of the twentieth century, the most important in the history of modern China. A complex figure, he was champion of the poor and brutal tyrant, poet and despot.Pantsov and Levine show Mao’s relentless drive to succeed, vividly describing his growing role in the nascent Communist Party of China. They disclose startling facts about his personal life, particularly regarding his health and his lifelong serial affairs with young women. They portray him as the loyal Stalinist that he was, who never broke with the Soviet Union until after Stalin’s death.Mao brought his country from poverty and economic backwardness into the modern age and onto the world stage. But he was also responsible for an unprecedented loss of life. The disastrous Great Leap Forward with its accompanying famine and the bloody Cultural Revolution were Mao’s creations. Internationally Mao began to distance China from the USSR under Khrushchev and shrewdly renewed relations with the U.S. as a counter to the Soviets. He lived and behaved as China’s last emperor. —Simon & Schuster

China: The Mao Dynasty Moves Toward Democracy And Human Rights

Ralph Benko
Forbes
China is visibly evolving toward liberal republican governance.  Ten years, rather than life, tenure for its leaders is a major step.

The New Member's of China's Ruling Body

The New York Times
New York Times
All of China’s new Politburo Standing Committee, the group of politicians who rule country, have close connections with former leaders.

Viewpoint

11.14.12

The Future of Legal Reform

Carl Minzner
Carl Minzner, Professor of Law at Fordham University, talks here about the ways China’s legal reforms have ebbed and flowed, speeding up in the early 2000s, but then slowing down again after legal activists began to take the government at its word,...

Viewpoint

11.14.12

Change in Historical Context

Peter C. Perdue
China’s Communist Party has only ruled the country since 1949. But China has a long history of contentious transfers of power among its ruler. In these videos, Yale historian, Peter C. Perdue, an expert on China's last dynasty, the Qing, puts...

Opinion: Don't Expect Radical Reforms in China

Michal Meidan
Financial Times
If Li Keqiang walks on stage second it will suggest the premier post has been upgraded to a position of greater political clout.

The Real China Model

Mark Elliott
New York Times
As a historian, however, I cannot let pass unchallenged the characterization of premodern Chinese political culture as “meritocratic.” Over the last 20 years, research has shown that the keju was far from the “ladder of...

The U.S.-China Reset

Minxin Pei
New York Times
The leaders of the U.S. and China may not want to say it out loud, but they would privately admit that U.S.-China relations are in trouble.

China Dodges Politcally Sensitive Questions at Key Congress

Ben Blanchard and Terril Yue Jones
Reuters
In pre-Olypmics 2007, officials took solo interviews and overseas reporters were encouraged to ask questions. Not so this time.

Recording the Untold Stories of China’s Great Famine

Louisa Lim
NPR
A young man trudges doggedly around his village, notebook in hand, fringe flopping over his glasses. He goes from door to door, calling on the elderly.The young man has one main question: Who died in our village during the Great Famine?This is the...

Building China's Enlightenment

John Garnaut
Sydney Morning Herald
China's most ambutious, radical and consequential think tank behind the scenes at the 18th Party Congress.