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...

Viewpoint

09.28.19

A Birthday Letter to the People’s Republic

Yangyang Cheng
Dear People’s Republic, Or should I call you, China? I am writing to you on the eve of your 70th birthday. 70, what an age. “For a man to live to 70 has been rare since ancient times,” the poet Du Fu wrote in the eighth century. You have outlived...

Features

09.21.19

Which European Companies Are Working in Xinjiang?

Benjamin Haas
Foreign companies continue to conduct business in Xinjiang despite widespread evidence of human rights abuse. This list identifies 68 European companies with ties to Xinjiang ranging from building infrastructure and investing in joint ventures to...

Viewpoint

09.18.19

Beyond Hawks and Doves

Ali Wyne
Two recent documents—as well as the critiques they have elicited—furnish the basis for a more nuanced debate on U.S. policy towards China. First, on July 4, a group of roughly 100 figures from the policy, military, business, and academic communities...

Conversation

09.13.19

Why Is the FBI Investigating Americans Who Study in China?

Rosie Levine, Johanna M. Costigan & more
Over the last two years, the FBI has questioned at least five U.S. citizens who have studied at Yenching Academy, a Master’s degree program hosted by Peking University. The purpose of the interviews, according to NPR, is to “ascertain whether they...

Is the U.S.-China Relationship in Free Fall?: Part II

Paul Haenle & Da Wei from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
Da Wei argues that shifting domestic politics in China and the United States are negatively impacting bilateral ties. In Washington, there is no longer widespread support for engagement with China. In Beijing, debates over the role of the state in...

Is the U.S.-China Relationship in Free Fall?: Part I

Paul Haenle & Da Wei from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
The Trump administration has focused China’s attention on the need to address underlying issues in the bilateral relationship, but it has overstepped. Trump’s use of tariffs has hardened Chinese views and limited Beijing’s ability to make...

Conversation

08.27.19

Can China’s Government Replace Hong Kong?

David Schlesinger & Jerome A. Cohen
As the Hong Kong protests enter their fourth month with no end in sight, on August 18 Beijing announced that the nearby Chinese metropolis of Shenzhen would again become a new type of special economic zone. In a clear message to Hong Kong, the plan...

Viewpoint

08.27.19

China’s Government Wants You to Think All Mainlanders View Hong Kong the Same Way. They Don’t.

Kiki Tianqi Zhao
Mainland Chinese flood the Internet with messages calling protesters in Hong Kong “useless youth.” They send obscene messages and death threats to supporters of the Hong Kong demonstrations. But reports on episodes like this, while important, are...

Conversation

08.20.19

What Would a Larger Chinese Presence Mean for the Middle East?

Lindsey Ford, Daniel Kliman & more
China’s steady expansion of its Middle East footprint and influence poses significant questions for U.S. policymakers. The Middle East has long been a battleground for strategic competition between both regional and global powers. Is it poised to...

Conversation

08.07.19

Will Hong Kong Unravel?

Ho-fung Hung, Thomas Kellogg & more
Beijing’s top official in Hong Kong, Wang Zhimin, called the protests a “life and death war” and compared them to the “color revolutions.” Coming a week after Hong Kong police charged 44 people with rioting and days after strikes paralyzed parts of...