Conversation

09.17.20

Europe and China’s ‘Virtual Summit’

Noah Barkin, Dan Baer & more
Meeting via video conference on Monday, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, held a summit with European Council President Charles Michel, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Slimmed down in format thanks to the...

Viewpoint

09.17.20

Could Same-Sex Marriage Advocacy in China Be Poised for a Breakthrough?

Darius Longarino
Last fall, as China’s lawmakers neared finalizing the country’s first-ever Civil Code, they opened to public comment its draft chapters on marriage and other areas of law. A newly formed coalition of LGBTQ organizations advocating for gay marriage...

Viewpoint

09.10.20

In Defense of Diplomacy with China

James Green
Critics of the last four decades of China policy have incorrectly and simplistically labeled diplomacy a failure because the People’s Republic did not become a liberal democracy. That was never the goal or an achievable objective of U.S. policy. The...

Conversation

08.27.20

The Future of China Studies in the U.S.

Sheena Greitens, Rebecca E. Karl & more
As an extraordinarily fraught school year begins, the study of China on U.S. campuses (or their new virtual equivalents), as well as China’s role in university life more broadly, has recently become a subject of scrutiny and debate. What is the...

Viewpoint

08.27.20

When China Reporters Can’t Report from China

Matt DeButts
Shortly after midnight on March 18, a phone call awoke Steven Lee Myers in his Beijing apartment. The call was followed by a flurry of messages: WhatsApp, text, email. Friends and colleagues were asking him questions: What is going on? What does...

Viewpoint

08.20.20

How To Teach China This Fall

Dimitar D. Gueorguiev, Xiaobo Lü & more
The coming academic year presents unique challenges for university instructors teaching content related to China. The shift to online education, the souring of U.S.-China relations, and new national security legislation coming from Beijing have...

Conversation

08.05.20

What Now?

Jerome A. Cohen, Scott Kennedy & more
The past several months have been a particularly volatile period in U.S.-China relations. After last month’s closures of the Chinese consulate in Houston and the American consulate in Chengdu, we asked contributions to give us their assessments of...

Viewpoint

08.04.20

Reciprocity in U.S. Relations with China Should Be a Tool, Not the Whole Strategy

Lucas Tcheyan & Sam Bresnick
Since the outset of the U.S.-China trade war, critics have castigated the Trump administration for its capricious approach to relations with Beijing. They have found fault in particular with Donald Trump’s flip-flopping on sanctioning ZTE, banning U...

Viewpoint

07.30.20

For Wuhan’s COVID Mourners, Little Has Been Laid to Rest

Tracy Wen Liu
In a conversation on Weibo, Yang, 50, told me about the loss of her 24-year-old daughter, Yuxi, her only child, to COVID-19. She was grieving, of course, but she was also seeking justice for what she viewed as an avoidable death. She showed me a...

Conversation

07.21.20

Is There a Future for Values-Based Engagement with China?

Neysun A. Mahboubi, Mary Gallagher & more
A key feature of current debates over U.S.-China relations is the proposition that “engagement failed,” in light of the Chinese government’s increasingly aggressive posture towards liberal values at home and on the world stage. Already on the...

Viewpoint

07.02.20

It’s True That Democracy in China Is in Retreat, But Don’t Give up on It Now

Li Fan
China’s popularity in the world is plummeting, and antagonism between China and the United States is growing. Many blame China for allowing a series of new viruses to emerge, for failing to stop COVID-19 when it first appeared, and for not sharing...

Conversation

06.30.20

How Should Democracies Respond to China’s New National Security Law for Hong Kong?

Bernhard Bartsch, Yu-Jie Chen & more
July 1 will mark 23 years since Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty. Each of those years—and many that preceded them—has seen its share of disquiet over the future of the territory’s way of life and about the resilience of “one country, two...

Conversation

06.16.20

China’s Zoom Bomb

Wang Dan, Donald Clarke & more
In the lead-up to the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations this spring, Zoom, the U.S.-based company whose online meeting platform has rocketed to global prominence amid the COVID-19 pandemic, received requests from China’s...

Viewpoint

06.10.20

For Me, the Breakdown in U.S.-China Relations Is Personal

Judy Polumbaum
In my childhood, they were the Red Chinese. In my husband’s upbringing, we were the American imperialists. U.S.-China reconciliation after ping-pong diplomacy enabled us to meet and marry 40 years ago. Those of us with a foot in each world find the...

Conversation

06.03.20

Has COVID-19 Changed How China’s Leaders Approach National Security?

Rorry Daniels, M. Taylor Fravel & more
While the world is reeling from the cascading shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic, China has continued a comparatively aggressive course in its foreign policy and security posture. Not only has it continued military and paramilitary activities in the...

Coronavirus and the Korean Peninsula

Paul Haenle, Zhao Tong & more from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
As nations confront the pandemic, rumors of Kim Jong-un’s death and a flurry of North Korean missile tests injected even more uncertainty in the international landscape. How do views in Washington, Seoul, and Beijing differ or align on North Korea?...

Viewpoint

05.21.20

A New U.S. ‘Consensus’ on China May Not Be as Solid as It Appears

Ali Wyne
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought ties between Washington and Beijing to their lowest level since the countries normalized relations in 1979, with many observers warning that they have entered into either “a new Cold War” or at least “a new type of...

Viewpoint

05.21.20

How Will Historians Look Back at the Coronavirus Outbreak?

Sulmaan Khan
Imagine that a historian decides to reflect on the pandemic, asking quite simply, “How did it come to this?” There would be many ways of telling that story. But one way would be to chart a series of off-ramps on the road to disaster. Some of these...

U.S.-China Relations 2020: Coronavirus and Elections

Paul Haenle & Xie Tao from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
China is facing growing international scrutiny due to its initial mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak. Countries are increasingly questioning the motives underlying Beijing’s recent international aid efforts, and there is growing concern over...

Conversation

05.19.20

What Are the Right and the Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support Taiwan?

Daniel R. Russel, Yu-Jie Chen & more
What are the right and wrong ways for the U.S. to support Taiwan? Traditionally, America’s goals have been to deter the mainland from aggression and coercion, support Taiwan’s democratic system, strengthen economic ties, and help it maintain...

Missing in Action: U.S.-China Cooperation on Coronavirus

Paul Haenle & Evan A. Feigenbaum from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
The coronavirus outbreak has highlighted the many issues in the U.S.-China relationship. Why can’t Washington and Beijing better coordinate a response to the pandemic, replicating their cooperative efforts during the 2008 financial crisis and 2014...

Conversation

05.09.20

How Will China Shape Global Governance?

Jeremy Youde, Melanie Hart & more
How is the Trump administration’s contempt for, and retreat from, multilateral bodies affecting China’s position and weight within them—or indeed its overall strategy for relations with these organizations? Do China’s leaders aspire to supplant the...

Conversation

04.06.20

What Does the Coronavirus Mean for EU-China Relations?

Plamen Tonchev, Theresa Fallon & more
2020 promised to be an especially consequential year for the EU-China relationship, but three highly anticipated summits have been thrown into uncertainty, and diplomacy between Europe and China is now completely consumed by the coronavirus crisis.

Viewpoint

04.03.20

‘We’re Hardly Heroic’

Tracy Wen Liu
Dr. Li, a heart specialist at Wuhan No. 4 Hospital, spent the third week of March preparing for the reopening of the hospital’s general clinics, which closed on January 22, when No. 4 became a key facility for treating COVID-19 patients. After...

Conversation

03.28.20

Is U.S.-China Cooperation on COVID-19 Still Possible?

Julian B. Gewirtz, Deborah Seligsohn & more
Over the past two weeks, as the outbreak of the virus known has COVID-19 has accelerated its deadly spread around the world, an already collapsing U.S.-China relationship appears to be entering a period of free fall. This is happening at a moment...

The Flowers Blooming in the Dark

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
It’s possible to identify another period that might surpass the 1980s as China’s most open: a 10-year stretch beginning around the turn of this century, when a rich debate erupted over what lay ahead. As in the past, many of those speaking out were...

Viewpoint

03.20.20

Xi Jinping May Welcome Trump’s Racism

Dan Baer
The coronavirus pandemic has ushered in a new low-point for the already strained relationship between the U.S. and China—and it could get worse in the months ahead as the toll rises and there is more urgency to assign blame. At the White House press...

Conversation

03.19.20

As Its Coronavirus Outbreak Abates, China Is Trying out a New Look. Is It Working?

Daniel R. Russel, Pamela Kyle Crossley & more
As the coronavirus spreads globally, China’s government is working aggressively to change its international image. In the span of just a few weeks, China has gone from the embattled epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic to presenting the country as...

Books

03.12.20

China and Intervention at the UN Security Council

Courtney J. Fung
Oxford University Press: What explains China’s response to intervention at the UN Security Council? China and Intervention at the UN Security Council argues that status is an overlooked determinant in understanding its decisions, even in the apex cases that are shadowed by a public discourse calling for foreign-imposed regime change in Sudan, Libya, and Syria. It posits that China reconciles its status dilemma as it weighs decisions to intervene, seeking recognition from both its intervention peer groups of great powers and developing states. Understanding the impact and scope of conditions of status answers why China has taken certain positions regarding intervention and how these positions were justified. Foreign policy behavior that complies with status, and related social factors like self-image and identity, means that China can select policy options bearing material costs. China and Intervention at the UN Security Council draws on an extensive collection of data, including over two hundred interviews with UN officials and Chinese foreign policy elites, participant observation at UN Headquarters, and a dataset of Chinese-language analysis regarding foreign-imposed regime change and intervention. The book concludes with new perspectives on the malleability of China’s core interests, insights about the application of status for cooperation, and the implications of the status dilemma for rising powers.{chop}
03.05.20

China Alters Civil Society Rules, Allowing More Groups to Respond to Coronavirus

Holly Snape
As the COVID-19 epidemic continues in China, so do the efforts of civil society organizations and concerned citizens to mitigate the harm. In the official approach to managing their involvement, there have been clumsy force-of-habit measures from...

Books

03.05.20

Playing by the Informal Rules

Yao Li
Cambridge University Press: Growing protests in non-democratic countries are often seen as signals of regime decline. China, however, has remained stable amid surging protests. Playing by the Informal Rules highlights the importance of informal norms in structuring state-protester interactions, mitigating conflict, and explaining regime resilience. Drawing on a nationwide dataset of protest and multi-sited ethnographic research, this book presents a bird’s-eye view of Chinese contentious politics and illustrates the uneven application of informal norms across regions, social groups, and time. Through examinations of protests and their distinct implications for regime stability, Li offers a novel theoretical framework suitable for monitoring the trajectory of political contention in China and beyond. Overall, this study sheds new light on political mobilization and authoritarian resilience and provides fresh perspectives on power, rules, legitimacy, and resistance in modern societies.{chop}

Viewpoint

02.26.20

Dear Chairman Xi, It’s Time for You to Go

Xu Zhiyong & Geremie R. Barmé
In this open letter, the author urges Xi Jinping to step down. Xu Zhiyong went into hiding in late 2019. The following open letter, which was released on 4 February 4, 2020, was written while he was on the run. On February 15, Xu was detained in the...

Books

02.24.20

Fateful Triangle

Tanvi Madan
Brookings Institution Press: In this Asian century, scholars, officials, and journalists are increasingly focused on the fate of the rivalry between China and India. They see the U.S.’s relationships with the two Asian giants as now intertwined, after having followed separate paths during the Cold War.In Fateful Triangle, Tanvi Madan argues that China’s influence on the U.S.-India relationship is neither a recent nor a momentary phenomenon. Drawing on documents from India and the United States, she shows that American and Indian perceptions of and policy toward China significantly shaped U.S.-India relations in three crucial decades, from 1949 to 1979. Fateful Triangle updates our understanding of the diplomatic history of U.S.-India relations, highlighting China’s central role in it; reassesses the origins and practice of Indian foreign policy and nonalignment; and provides historical context for the interactions between the three countries.Madan’s assessment of this formative period in the triangular relationship is of more than historic interest. A key question today is whether the United States and India can, or should, develop ever-closer ties as a way of countering China’s desire to be the dominant power in the broader Asian region. Fateful Triangle argues that history shows such a partnership is neither inevitable nor impossible. A desire to offset China brought the two countries closer together in the past, and could do so again. A look to history, however, also shows that shared perceptions of an external threat from China are necessary, but insufficient, to bring India and the United States into a close and sustained alignment. That requires agreement on the nature and urgency of the threat, as well as how to approach the threat strategically, economically, and ideologically.With its long view, Fateful Triangle offers insights for both present and future policymakers as they tackle a fateful, and evolving, triangle that has regional and global implications.{chop}

Books

02.18.20

Vigil

Jeffrey Wasserstrom
Columbia Global Reports: The rise of Hong Kong is the story of a miraculous post-war boom, when Chinese refugees flocked to a small British colony, and, in less than 50 years, transformed it into one of the great financial centers of the world. The unraveling of Hong Kong, on the other hand, shatters the grand illusion of China ever having the intention of allowing democratic norms to take root inside its borders. Hong Kong’s people were subjects of the British Empire for more than a hundred years, and now seem destined to remain the subordinates of today’s greatest rising power.But although we are witnessing the death of Hong Kong as we know it, this is also the story of the biggest challenge to China’s authoritarianism in 30 years. Activists who are passionately committed to defending the special qualities of a home they love are fighting against Beijing’s crafty efforts to bring the city into its fold—of making it a centerpiece of its “Greater Bay Area” megalopolis.Jeffrey Wasserstrom draws on his many visits to the city, and knowledge of the history of repression and resistance, to help us understand the deep roots and the broad significance of the events we see unfolding day by day in Hong Kong. The result is a riveting tale of tragedy but also heroism—one of the great David-versus-Goliath battles of our time, pitting determined street protesters against the intransigence of Xi Jinping, the most ambitious leader of China since the days of Mao.{chop}

Viewpoint

02.10.20

Viral Alarm: When Fury Overcomes Fear

Xu Zhangrun & Geremie R. Barmé
Overnight, the country found itself in the grip of a devastating crisis; fear was stalking the land. The authorities proved themselves to be at a loss and the cost of their behavior was soon visited upon the common people. Before long, the...

Conversation

02.09.20

Public Anger Over Coronavirus Is Mounting. Will It Matter?

Daniel Mattingly, Chenjian Li & more
The coronavirus outbreak that exploded three weeks ago in the central Chinese city of Wuhan has prompted the most severe government actions in three decades. Cities are closed down, transport links broken, and tens of millions of people effectively...

Culture

02.06.20

What a Picture of China’s One-Child Policy Leaves Out

Jie Li, Susan Greenhalgh & more
Brainwashed? Reflections on Propaganda in One Child NationBy Jie LiOne Child Nation, a documentary distributed by Amazon Studios which was shortlisted for an Academy Award, is becoming one of the most influential films about China in the United...

Viewpoint

01.29.20

How Much Could a New Virus Damage Beijing’s Legitimacy?

Taisu Zhang
A month into the coronavirus epidemic that has swept across China, the details of the Chinese government’s political and administrative response remain highly ambiguous. What has been unmistakable, however, is the volume and intensity of social...

Books

01.27.20

The Art of Political Control in China

Daniel C. Mattingly
Cambridge University Press: When and why do people obey political authority when it runs against their own interests to do so? This book is about the channels beyond direct repression through which China’s authoritarian state controls protest and implements ambitious policies from sweeping urbanization schemes that have displaced millions to family planning initiatives like the one-child policy. Daniel C. Mattingly argues that China’s remarkable state capacity is not simply a product of coercive institutions such as the secret police or the military. Instead, the state uses local civil society groups as hidden but effective tools of informal control to suppress dissent and implement far-reaching policies.Drawing on evidence from qualitative case studies, experiments, and national surveys, the book challenges the conventional wisdom that a robust civil society strengthens political responsiveness. Surprisingly, it is communities that lack strong civil society groups that find it easiest to act collectively and spontaneously resist the state.{chop}

Viewpoint

01.14.20

Why Aren’t More Countries Confronting China over Xinjiang?

Matt Schiavenza
China has justified its repressive actions in Xinjiang as a response to a series of terror attacks attributed to Uighurs. But the measures Chinese authorities have employed have attracted international condemnation. In July, the United Nations...

Postcard

01.09.20

As Taiwan’s Election Nears, A Sense of Foreboding Grips Voters from Different Camps

Anna Beth Keim
On the evening of December 29, at a rally in front of Democratic Progressive Party headquarters in Taipei, hundreds of people are shouting in unison. They support Tsai Ing-wen, the Democratic People’s Party (DPP) candidate in Taiwan’s January 11...

Conversation

01.08.20

China: The Year Ahead

David Schlesinger, Scott Kennedy & more
As 2019 drew to a close, ChinaFile asked contributors to write about their expectations for China in 2020.

Depth of Field

12.31.19

‘Nowhere to Dock’

Ye Ming, Yan Cong & more from Yuanjin Photo
In 2019, Depth of Field showcased stories covering a range of topics: Shi Yangkun’s nostaglic exploration of China’s last collective villages, Zhu Lingyu’s careful and artisitic portrayal of survivors of sexual violence, and cities seen through the...

Conversation

12.30.19

What’s Next for Taiwan?

Brian Hioe, Evan Dawley & more
On January 11, Taiwanese will go to the polls. Their election pits the incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which favors greater distance from Beijing, against Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu of the Kuomingtang,...

Viewpoint

12.11.19

Is Violence in Hong Kong’s Protests Turning off Moderates?

Andy Buschmann
As protests in Hong Kong have become more violent, have the demographics of the protesters changed? The level of violence employed by protesters as well as the police force has escalated to new heights ever since July 21, when alleged triad members...

Are China and Russia Getting Too Close for Comfort?

Paul Haenle, Dmitri Trenin & more from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
Discussion of U.S.-China-Russia relations often focuses on how American policy is driving Moscow and Beijing closer together. This analysis, however, ignores important factors limiting cooperation between China and Russia and preventing the two...

Conversation

12.09.19

What Does Beijing Want from the Pacific Islands?

J. Michael Cole, Michael S. Chase & more
In late September, Pacific Island countries the Solomon Islands and Kiribati switched their diplomatic allegiances from Taiwan to China. That month, a Beijing-based company signed a secretive deal granting it exclusive development rights for the...

How China’s Rise Has Forced Hong Kong’s Decline

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
For nearly six months, people around the world have watched the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong with one question in the back of their minds: When will Beijing lose patience and the repression begin? Journalists expecting to cover Tiananmen II...

Viewpoint

11.14.19

Violence by Hong Kong Protesters Won’t Advance Their Cause

Thomas Kellogg
I have watched with growing concern as violence has intensified in Hong Kong. I have been deeply dismayed to see escalating police violence, which has fundamentally damaged the reputation of a police force once known as among Asia’s best. And I have...

Conversation

11.04.19

How Should Universities Respond to China’s Growing Presence on Their Campuses?

Charles Edel, Vicky Xiuzhong Xu & more
How should universities encourage respectful dialogue on contentious issues involving China, while at the same time fostering an environment free of intimidation, harassment, and violence? And how should university administrators and governments...

Reports

11.01.19

Scanning the Horizon

Bertram Lang
Bertram Lang
International Civil Society Centre
China’s growing influence in the world has been identified as one of the top global trends influencing the trajectory and development of other major trends relating to sustainable development. China’s relevance for civil society organisations (CSOs...

Books

10.24.19

Rebranding China

Xiaoyu Pu
Stanford University Press: China is intensely conscious of its status, both at home and abroad. This concern is often interpreted as an undivided desire for higher standing as a global leader. Yet, Chinese political elites heatedly debate the nation’s role as it becomes an increasingly important player in international affairs. At times, China positions itself not as a nascent global power but as a fragile developing country. Contradictory posturing makes decoding China’s foreign policy a challenge, generating anxiety and uncertainty in many parts of the world. Using the metaphor of “rebranding” to understand China’s varying displays of status, Xiaoyu Pu analyzes a rising China’s challenges and dilemmas on the global stage.As competing pressures mount across domestic, regional, and international audiences, China must pivot between different representational tactics. Rebranding China demystifies how the state represents its global position by analyzing recent military transformations, regional diplomacy, and international financial negotiations. Drawing on a sweeping body of research, including original Chinese sources and interdisciplinary ideas from sociology, psychology, and international relations, this book puts forward a framework for interpreting China’s foreign policy.{chop}

Conversation

10.24.19

Can China’s Government Advance Its Case on Twitter?

Mia Shuang Li, Lotus Ruan & more
How successful have Chinese officials been at their use of English-language social media? Has the Chinese Party-state’s use of Facebook and Twitter been good or bad for Chinese soft power?

Conversation

10.18.19

The Future of Huawei in Europe

Samm Sacks, Yixiang Xu & more
On October 9, the European Commission and the European Agency for Cybersecurity released their long-awaited risk assessment of the region’s 5G network. Written with input from all 28 European Union members, the report warned about a 5G supplier from...

Postcard

10.17.19

‘If We Give up on Our Husbands Today, Tomorrow Our Children Will Be Ashamed of Us’

Jiang Xue
This is a story about fear and the attempt to conquer fear. The wives of some of the lawyers who disappeared in China’s “709” crackdown have suffered house arrest, threats, and suppression. In their search to find their husbands, they hope no longer...

Conversation

10.10.19

What Just Happened with the NBA in China?

Brook Larmer, Jonathan Sullivan & more
Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted—and then quickly deleted—a post supporting the protests in Hong Kong. The tweet generated an immediate outcry. The Chinese Basketball Association announced it was suspending cooperation with the...

Conversation

10.04.19

Taiwan Is Losing Allies. What Should Taipei (and D.C.) Do?

Margaret Lewis, Yu-Hua Chen & more
In a single week in September, the two Pacific nations of Kiribati and the Solomon Islands both switched their diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to Beijing, reducing the number of countries that still recognize Taiwan to 14 (and the Vatican)...

Viewpoint

10.01.19

We Need to Pull U.S.-China Relations Back from the Brink. Here’s How.

Orville Schell & Zha Daojiong
Like it or not, the U.S. and China are in the process of “decoupling.” The two countries find themselves drifting dangerously back into a state of growing distrust, and even antagonism. Both sides have their narratives and grievances that prevent...

Culture

09.30.19

The Same Old ‘China Story’ Keeps Chinese Sci-Fi Earthbound

Ying Zhu
In the run-up to the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic on October 1, China’s television regulator has mandated that all television channels only air patriotic shows. The ban might be short-lived, but it has kept the news in the headlines and...