Viewpoint

09.16.22

New Export Controls on Chinese Semiconductors May Prove Self-Defeating

Sam Bresnick & Nathaniel Sher
New restrictions are not only likely unnecessary, they may ultimately prove self-defeating. Overly zealous controls that limit older semiconductor equipment sales to China will inflict collateral damage on American, and potentially international,...

Features

09.15.22

ChinaFile Presents: Surveillance State—Inside China’s Quest to Launch a New Era of Social Control

Josh Chin, Liza Lin & more
Wall Street Journal reporters Josh Chin and Liza Lin discussed their new book with ChinaFile Senior Editor Jessica Batke and Arthur Ross Director of Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations Orville Schell. Surveillance State: Inside China’s...

International Order and Disorder

Paul Haenle & Anja Manuel from Carnegie China
The international order is shifting. Besides COVID-19 and supply chain disruptions, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to major crises that threaten global stability. While the European Union, the United States, and their allies and partners...

Online Posts Purport to Show Severe Lockdown Conditions in Xinjiang

Jessica Batke
Videos, voice messages, and WeChat posts purporting to show residents in the Ghulja (Yining), Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, area of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region crying out for food or medical attention have appeared online in recent...

Conversation

09.09.22

Could China’s Very Hot Summer Revive Action on Climate Change?

Ilaria Mazzocco, Lauri Myllyvirta & more
For more than two months, China—along with the rest of the globe—has been struggling with extreme heat and severe droughts. Hundreds of cities are facing temperatures in the 90s and higher, and Beijing last month issued its first nationwide drought...

Excerpts

09.06.22

The American-Trained Rocket Scientist Who Shaped China’s Surveillance System

Josh Chin & Liza Lin
The role Qian Xuesen would play in propelling China into a technological and ideological clash with the United States seems almost fated in retrospect. Born in Hangzhou in 1911, the year China’s last dynasty crumbled, Qian had traveled to the United...

China’s Role in Sri Lanka’s Debt Crisis

Paul Haenle & Anushka Wijesinha from Carnegie China
In this episode of the China in the World podcast, Paul Haenle speaks with Anushka Wijesinha about the ongoing political and economic crisis in Sri Lanka. The discussion covers the domestic and international causes of Sri Lanka’s debt crisis,...

Hong Kong from the Inside

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
In November 2019, some one thousand young pro-democracy protesters occupied the campus of Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University, which is located at a crucial junction of two highways and the cross-harbor tunnel. They disrupted traffic for more than a...

The Strategic Importance of the Indo-Pacific

Paul Haenle & Darshana M. Baruah from Carnegie China
Spanning from East Africa to the West Coast of the United States, the Indo-Pacific is a complex region encompassing two oceans and countless islands and maritime powers. In this episode of the China in the World podcast, Paul Haenle speaks with...
08.08.22

Nevertheless, Chinese Civil Society Persisted

Alison Sile Chen
In an autocracy, atomized individuals, without power or influence, seem to have only two options: willingly serve as “social livestock,” or accept their fate and lie flat. But in a society as large as China’s, with 1.4 billion people, can that...

Features

08.04.22

In What Purport to be Lifestyle Videos, Uyghur Influencers Promote Beijing’s Narrative on Their Homeland

Rune Steenberg & Seher
For the past few years, Uyghur and other young members of ethnic minority groups from Xinjiang have been creating videos like Anniguli’s in which they appear to display details of their personal lives while simultaneously evincing support for the...

Conversation

08.02.22

Pelosi in Taiwan

Brian Hioe, Lev Nachman & more
On the evening of August 2, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, landed in Taipei to begin an official visit. The trip, the first by a U.S. official of comparable rank in 25 years, came amid debate about how Beijing would...

Confession and Reconciliation in the Cultural Revolution’s Aftermath

Susan Jakes
Last week, frequent ChinaFile contributors Geremie Barmé and Zha Jianying joined editor Susan Jakes on Twitter Spaces to discus Zha’s recent short story for ChinaFile, “The Prize Student.” The story takes place in Nanjing in 1983, as a prominent...

Conversation

07.26.22

Can a New U.S. Law Prevent Uyghur Forced Labor?

John Foote, Darren Byler & more
Last month, the U.S. began enforcement of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. Signed into law late last year, the UFLPA bans imports of goods made in Xinjiang unless the importer can offer “clear and convincing evidence” that no forced labor was...

Viewpoint

07.21.22

From My Anguished Heart—A Letter to My Daughter

Xu Zhangrun & Geremie R. Barmé
In early July 2020, Xu Zhangrun was detained for supposedly having “solicited prostitutes” during a trip with friends to Sichuan in late 2019. He was being persecuted for his unsparing critiques of Xi Jinping, starting in July 2018. The following...

Features

05.24.22

Public Security Minister’s Speech Describes Xi Jinping’s Direction of Mass Detentions in Xinjiang

Adrian Zenz
An internal Chinese government document provides new support for the extraordinary scale of internment during what was likely its peak in 2018 and 2019. The document, a transcript of an internal June 15, 2018 speech by Minister of Public Security...

Conversation

05.19.22

Is Beijing Changing Tack on Big Tech?

Rui Ma, Ruihan Huang & more
In recent weeks, news has emerged that China may be slowing its Big Tech regulations. On Tuesday, the CPPCC held a special meeting on the digital economy, with Vice Premier Liu He highlighting the need “to support the platform economy.” This...

Conversation

04.29.22

Shanghai’s Lockdown

Kenton Thibaut, Guobin Yang & more
In late March, China started its largest lockdown in more than two years, with most of Shanghai’s 26 million residents confined to their homes in an effort to battle the rapid spread of Omicron. As of mid-April, 45 cities across the country were...

Conversation

04.14.22

Europe’s China Policy Has Taken a Sharp Turn. Where Will It Go Next?

Rogier Creemers, Una Aleksandra Bērziņa-Čerenkova & more
In their first such meeting in nearly two years, representatives of the European Union and Chinese government met on April 1 for a virtual summit. The conversations took place against the backdrop of not only unprecedented unity among the members of...

Viewpoint

04.08.22

Closing the U.S. to Chinese Biotech Would Do Far More Harm Than Good

Scott Moore & Abigail Coplin
Biotechnology intrinsically blurs boundaries between science and commerce, market and state, the global and the national, and even personal privacy and collective interest. Progress depends more heavily in biotech than in other high-tech industries...

Conversation

04.07.22

What Does Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine Mean for China-Russia Relations?

Yun Sun, Philipp Ivanov & more
As Russia piles up casualties in Ukraine while its economy collapses at home, the democratic world appears—at least for now—more united than ever. Russian firms are scrambling to adjust to the country’s status as an international pariah, while big...

Features

04.05.22

Arrest Data Show National Security Law Has Dealt a Hard Blow to Free Expression in Hong Kong

Eric Yan-ho Lai & Thomas Kellogg
On December 29, 2021, two hundred national security police officers raided a newspaper headquarters and arrested several individuals at various locations across Hong Kong. The exceptional number of police officers involved suggested those arrested...

Viewpoint

03.21.22

‘I’ve Forgotten How to Kneel in Front of You!’

Geremie R. Barmé
It started with a simple message to his parents. Russian forces were invading Ukraine and, in case something happened to him, Wang Jixian, a computer programmer based in Odessa, decided he had better record a few words addressed to his parents on...

Viewpoint

03.12.22

Wang Jixian: A Voice from The Other China, but in Odessa

Geremie R. Barmé
“Hello, everyone. This is Jixian in Odessa. Just checking in to let you know that I’m okay; I’m still alive.” This is the way that Wang Jixian, a 37-year-old software engineer originally from Beijing, starts most of his daily vlog updates posted...

The Uncompromising Ai Weiwei

Orville Schell from New York Review of Books
As I read 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows, I felt as if I’d finally come upon the chronicle of modern China for which I’d been waiting since I first began studying this elusive country six decades ago. What makes this memoir so absorbing is that it...

Conversation

03.02.22

China’s Calculus on the Invasion of Ukraine

Paul Haenle, Bonnie S. Glaser & more
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, the response from much of the international community has been swift and coordinated, with sanctions, shipments of armaments, and loud condemnation. China, however, has stayed markedly apart. What does...

Viewpoint

02.28.22

In Xinjiang’s Tech Incubators, Innovation Is Inseparable from Repression

Jessica Batke
Innovation and its benefits to society in Xinjiang have come to encompass both the use of big data to enhance cross-border trade and the use of big data to monitor people inside their own homes. Official documents promoting innovation in Xinjiang...

Viewpoint

02.03.22

Keeping the Flies Out

Anne Stevenson-Yang from Mekong Review
The first time I rode a public bus in China, in 1985, a young woman came up to me and ran her hand up and down my arm to feel the body hair. Foreigners were like rare animals then: precious, strange, probably dangerous. Surveillance was constant and...

Viewpoint

02.01.22

Verdicts from China’s Courts Used to Be Accessible Online. Now They’re Disappearing.

Luo Jiajun & Thomas Kellogg
Judicial transparency in China has taken a significant step backward in recent months. Beginning at least a year ago, China’s Supreme People’s Court has considerably scaled back the number of cases available on its China Judgments Online web portal...

Features

01.31.22

A Vast Network of ‘New Era Civilization Practice Centers’ Is Beijing’s Latest Bid to Reclaim Hearts and Minds

Jessica Batke
New Era Civilization Practice Centers are designed to deliver a mix of social services and political indoctrination, to draw China’s citizens ever nearer to the Party by giving them tangible reminders of the Party’s largesse and molding them into...

Conversation

01.28.22

The Olympics Return to Beijing

Sam Crane, Maya Wang & more
In February Beijing will host the Olympic Games again, this time amid a surging pandemic, a new wave of lockdowns, at least 10 diplomatic boycotts, and international alarm at the disappearance of one of the country’s top athletes. “Together for a...
01.24.22

Tribute to an ‘Ordinary Chinese Activist’

Anonymous
I first met Jianbing on a cold Gansu winter day over twelve years ago, in the Year of the Ox. As fate would have it, the same astrological sign that brought a dear friend into my life snatched him away mercilessly when it returned twelve years later.

Conversation

12.28.21

Three Questions for China’s Neighbors

Richard J. Heydarian, Nirupama Rao & more
“China was, is, and will always be a good neighbor,” China’s leader Xi Jinping told ASEAN representatives in a November 2021 virtual meeting, after a series of conflicts over Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea had raised tensions...
12.06.21

Hong Kong’s National Security Law Made Amnesty International’s Departure All But Inevitable

William Nee
The human rights violations being committed now under the National Security Law only demonstrate China’s decision to drift further away from compliance with international human rights law. Rather, the NSL’s claim to global jurisdiction signals an...

Conversation

11.24.21

What Future for International NGOs in China?

Katherine Wilhelm, Shawn Shieh & more
Nearly five years have passed since China implemented its Foreign NGO Law, imposing a host of new restrictions on the activities of international non-profit groups. What kind of responsibility do non-government organizations bear for sustaining...

The CCP’s Culture of Fear

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
One way to measure China’s urge to transform itself is to note how often the word new has been used by Chinese leaders. In 1902, the concept of the “new citizen” took hold in Liang Qichao’s New Citizen Journal. 20 years later, the May Fourth...

Conversation

10.20.21

Tightening Up

Xibai Xu, Jude Blanchette & more
In what many observers have termed a “regulatory crackdown,” a wave of new legal restrictions and bans on business, technology, and entertainment has broken across China over the past several months, with what appears to be escalating velocity and...

Features

10.15.21

ChinaFile Presents: In the Camps—China’s High-Tech Penal Colony

Darren Byler, Susan Jakes & more
Darren Byler joined ChinaFile’s Susan Jakes and Jessica Batke to discuss his new book, In the Camps: China’s High-Tech Penal Colony. Evidence has mounted in recent years that China’s government has incarcerated more than one million Uyghurs and...

Excerpts

10.06.21

The Man Behind Xi Jinping’s Foreign Policy

Peter Martin
The daunting task of keeping up with Xi Jinping’s foreign policy ambitions fell to Wang Yi. Born in Beijing in 1953, the same year as Xi, Wang also spent a good chunk of his adolescence as a “sent down” youth during the Cultural Revolution, when he...

Chinese Medicine in the Covid Wards

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
In mid-February 2020, during the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, Liu Lihong, a slight man with a wispy beard, made his way into Hankou Hospital No. 8 in Wuhan. Dressed in an all-white infectious disease suit, the only equipment he carried...

Conversation

09.28.21

How Could the U.S. Deter Military Conflict in the Taiwan Strait?

Daniel R. Russel, Shelley Rigger & more
Last week, China flew 24 warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. One of the largest incursions in recent years, the People’s Liberation Army flyover came a day after Taipei applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement...

Viewpoint

09.23.21

‘China’s Search for a Modern Identity Has Entered a New and Perilous Phase’

Roger Garside
In 1980, writing the last paragraph of the last chapter of Coming Alive: China After Mao, I declared that China was moving “from totalitarian tyranny to a system more humane, part of a struggle by this nation to free itself from a straitjacket woven...

Viewpoint

09.09.21

A Farewell to My Students

Xu Zhangrun & Geremie R. Barmé
Xu Zhangrun addresses this letter to the students and young scholars who participated in “The Three Talents Salon” which Xu founded in 2003, a biannual symposium devoted to fostering “three talents” or skills in the participants: in-depth reading,...

Viewpoint

09.02.21

How Much Does Beijing Control the Ethnic Makeup of Tibet?

Andrew M. Fischer
The idea of swamping, which the Dalai Lama himself elaborated in 2008, holds that China’s government has been seeking to solve its problems in Tibet and other “ethnic minority” areas such as Xinjiang by turning local indigenous ethnic groups (such...

Conversation

08.26.21

What Does the U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan Mean for China?

Laurel Miller, Amanda Hsiao & more
As China seeks to balance security concerns and financial considerations, a nation that has long espoused the principle of noninterference may find its foreign policy tested in coming months. What will be the challenges and opportunities for China...

Xi’s China, the Handiwork of an Autocratic Roué

Xu Zhangrun & Geremie R. Barmé from New York Review of Books
At this crucial juncture, China’s political, business, and academic elites revealed a core of craven self-interest and vacuous hypocrisy. The display was even further evidence of the degraded state of our nation’s public life, one that has long been...

Conversation

07.30.21

Will Beijing Invade Taiwan?

Susan Thornton, Scott Swift & more
What, precisely, are Beijing’s plans for Taiwan? In recent years, there has been no small amount of saber rattling, with aggressive naval drills, aerial incursions, and warnings that force would be used for reunification if necessary. But given the...

Viewpoint

07.20.21

Making Sense of Support for Donald Trump in China

He Weifang
As the dust finally settled on the U.S. presidential election that shook the world, Biden was sworn in as president, and Trump, who tried everything to cling to a second term, slunk out of the capital city of Washington, D.C. in disgrace. Looking...

Conversation

07.12.21

How Should the U.S. Approach Climate Diplomacy with China?

Isabel Hilton, Scott Moore & more
As China continues to emerge as a superpower and move forward with its colossal Belt and Road Initiative amid the climate crisis, American climate engagement with China is more critical than ever. What would an effective climate diplomacy for the U...

Viewpoint

07.10.21

Why China Is Going After Its Tech Giants

Charles Mok
Just days after its lucrative listing on the New York Stock Exchange, China ride-hailing giant Didi Global was hit with another round of sanctions by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC). On July 4, the country’s Internet regulator ordered...

How Will the EU Navigate U.S.-China Tensions?

Paul Haenle, Rosa Balfour & more from Carnegie China
Over the past few years, Europe and the United States have each approached China’s rise differently. Washington has moved to reduce its economic reliance on Beijing while castigating its increasingly assertive global stance. Brussels, on the other...

Conversation

06.21.21

Will I Return to China?

Scott Kennedy, Tracy Wen Liu & more
ChinaFile sent a short questionnaire to several hundred ChinaFile contributors to get a sense of their feelings about traveling to China once COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease. Media reports at the time had suggested, anecdotally, that foreigners...

How Has the U.S.-China Relationship Changed under Biden?

Paul Haenle & Kate Magill from Carnegie China
As President Biden wraps up his first 100 days in office, there remain significant questions surrounding the future of U.S.-China ties. How has the bilateral relationship changed? Will the Biden administration maintain the Trump administration’s...

China-Russia Relations at the Dawn of the Biden Era

Paul Haenle, Andrew S. Weiss & more from Carnegie China
While U.S.-China and U.S.-Russia relations have steadily deteriorated, China-Russia cooperation has continued to strengthen. Although both nations have found a common adversary in the United States, any divergence of Russian or Chinese interests...

The Protest Families of Pro-Democracy Hong Kong

Lavender Au from New York Review of Books
They met at a crossroads in October 2019. That day, Hong Kong’s people came out in their tens of thousands, to protest the proposed Extradition Bill, which would allow the territory to detain and transfer citizens to mainland China. Hoikei was there...

Viewpoint

05.18.21

A Letter to My Editors and to China’s Censors

Xu Zhangrun & Geremie R. Barmé
Xu Zhangrun, perhaps China’s most famous dissident legal scholar, released a letter addressed not only to China’s censors but also to the editors and publishers with whom he had worked for decades. That essay, translated below, is Letter Eight in...

Viewpoint

05.14.21

Ahead of Its Centennial, the Chinese Communist Party Frets Over Unsanctioned Takes on Its History

Hans van de Ven
On July 1, the Chinese Communist Party will commemorate its founding in Shanghai one hundred years ago. Unsurprisingly, Beijing is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that nothing untoward takes place in the run-up to the great day. On April 9, the...

Conversation

05.06.21

What Should China Do about Its Aging Population?

Wang Feng, Karen Thornber & more
Though it has yet to be released, China’s latest ten-year census is certain to confirm what demographers have warned of for years: A labor crisis looms as the fertility rate remains low and the country ages at a dangerous speed. Five years after the...

Features

05.03.21

New Data Show Hong Kong’s National Security Arrests Follow a Pattern

Lydia Wong & Thomas Kellogg
In the nine months since the Hong Kong National Security Law was passed, more than 90 people have been arrested under the new legislation. Though they have been charged with various breaches of national security ranging from inciting secession to...