What Future for International NGOs in China?

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 international exchange with China at a time when many governments are finding relations with Beijing increasingly contentious? Are the increased administrative burdens the Foreign NGO law imposes worth the benefits of remaining in China? How much should organizations compromise their missions to keep operations in China alive

Asia Society > China File What Future for International NGOs in China?

When Will China Get Off Coal?

As China looks to meet its energy demands, there has been a rush for coal, with prices hitting record highs in October. Despite pledges by Beijing to pull back from fossil fuels, the power crisis has exposed shortfalls in the country’s ability to meet its manufacturing needs. Can China ever hope to meet its energy needs without relying on dangerous fossil fuels? What are the implications for the global effort to combat climate change?

Asia Society > China File When Will China Get Off Coal?

The CCP’s Culture of Fear

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 Movement came to be known as the New Culture Movement. In 1934, Chiang Kai-shek launched his New Life Movement. The Communist takeover in 1949 was the advent of New China, and the Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s touted a “new socialist man.” After Mao Zedong died in 1976, the next few years were called “the new period.” Today, Xi Jinping’s watchword is “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.” It is important to ..

Asia Society > China File The CCP’s Culture of Fear

Tightening Up

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 force. Their rapid enactment has led many analysts—including those connected to the Chinese state—to view them as part of a single campaign. What is the best way to understand the connections among these new strictures? How do they relate to Xi Jinping’s leadership, how should they be understood to relate to governance goals in China more broadly, and to what extent will they succeed in achieving their intended ends?

Asia Society > China File Tightening Up

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

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 members of other ethnic and religious minorities in a network of detention facilities across Xinjiang, while subjecting millions of others in the region to severe religious and cultural repression and an unprecedented level of technologically enhanced surveillance. Byler examines thousands of government documents and many hours of interviews with both detainees and camp workers. Their stories describe a surveillance that overwhelms the lives of ..

Asia Society > China File ChinaFile Presents: In the Camps—China’s High-Tech Penal Colony

The Man Behind Xi Jinping’s Foreign Policy

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 spent eight years laboring on a farm in the northeast. Always a harder worker than others, Wang taught himself literature and history, a former classmate told the Christian Science Monitor. He was “quite open minded. He did not just accept what he was told,” the classmate remembered.

Asia Society > China File The Man Behind Xi Jinping’s Foreign Policy

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

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 for Trans-Pacific Partnership. Beijing, which applied to the trade pact a week earlier, has opposed Taiwan’s bid. In response, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement branding China an “arch criminal” bent on increasing hostilities across the strait.

Asia Society > China File How Could the U.S. Deter Military Conflict in the Taiwan Strait?

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

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 of feudalism, Marxism-Leninism, and twentieth-century technology.” In 2020, 40 years later, in China Coup: The Great Leap to Freedom, I describe a China firmly in the grip of totalitarian tyranny. In the years between, there were periods of loosening. But since Xi Jinping assumed the leadership of the Communist Party in 2012, he has progressively tightened the drawstrings the Party first imposed on China in 1949, cinching them closed with the..

Asia Society > China File ‘China’s Search for a Modern Identity Has Entered a New and Perilous Phase’

A Farewell to My Students

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, freewheeling discussion and debate, and convivial social drinking. Under Xu’s aegis, members of the salon published numerous edited volumes on topics related to law, history, philosophy, and politics.

Asia Society > China File A Farewell to My Students

EURICS Analysis on Foreign NGOs’ COVID Relief Efforts

In an article for The European Institute for Chinese Studies (EURICS), University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor of Law and Public Affairs Mark Sidel assesses how the Foreign NGO Law framework functioned during the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking at donations made through both the representative office and temporary activity mechanisms, Sidel concludes that the structures set in place over the last four years held up under crisis conditions and allowed international funding to flow in for COVID-related causes.

Asia Society > China File

Overseas NGOs and Foundations and COVID in China

The COVID crisis that enveloped Wuhan, Hubei province, and some other parts of China in late 2019 and early 2020 might, in another era, have encouraged China to temporarily relax constraints on international aid and engagement. In the current Chinese political environment, such relaxation of constraints wasn’t going to happen. China accepted some overseas aid at the beginning of the COVID crisis, but almost entirely on the restrictive political and legal terms laid down in the Overseas NGO Law and framework enacted in 2016.

Asia Society > China File Overseas NGOs and Foundations and COVID in China

Xi’s China, the Handiwork of an Autocratic Roué

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 characterized by brazen political opportunism, systemic corruption, and the celebration of populist thuggery.

Asia Society > China File Xi’s China, the Handiwork of an Autocratic Roué

Why China Is Going After Its Tech Giants

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 the removal of its mobile app from Chinese app stores. This came two days after the same regulator opened an investigation into the company, suspending it from adding new users. The app, alleged CAC, “has serious violations of laws and regulations pertaining to the collection of personal information.”

Asia Society > China File Why China Is Going After Its Tech Giants

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

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 hand, has tried to insulate its business ties with China from its concerns about Chinese policies and ambitions. Europe and China jointly proposed the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), while German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emanuel Macron strove to keep the continent’s relations with Beijing on solid footing. Recently, however, it appears as though Europe has shifted course to align elements of its China strategy ..

Asia Society > China File How Will the EU Navigate U.S.-China Tensions?

Will I Return to China?

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 with longstanding professional ties to China felt reluctant to visit, in part owing to the passage of Hong Kong’s National Security Law, fear of detention, the recent trials for espionage of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, as well as the harassment of BBC correspondent John Sudworth. We asked respondents how likely they were to travel to China once COVID restrictions were lifted. We provided five choices: “Definitely Will Visit,..

Asia Society > China File Will I Return to China?

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

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 policy of strategic competition? How has Beijing responded so far? On this joint episode of the China in the World podcast and AmCham Shanghai’s China Voices podcast, Paul Haenle joined Kate Magill to discuss the state of U.S.-China relations after Biden’s first 100 days.

Asia Society > China File How Has the U.S.-China Relationship Changed under Biden?

China-Russia Relations at the Dawn of the Biden Era

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 could create roadblocks to the two countries’ warming relations. Given China’s increasing economic and political clout, how will Russia manage the relationship in a way that concurrently maintains cooperation with China and protects its own national interests? Will China continue to view Russia as a security and economic partner? And how does the United States view and approach strong China-Russia ties?

Asia Society > China File China-Russia Relations at the Dawn of the Biden Era

How Should the U.S. Respond to China’s Military-Civil Fusion Strategy?

During Donald Trump’s presidency, the term “military-civil fusion” (MCF) came to feature prominently in U.S. officials’ characterizations of their concerns about China. While efforts to integrate China’s civilian and defense economies have been a goal of China’s leaders for decades, Xi Jinping has elevated MCF as a priority and has expanded, intensified, and accelerated the effort across multiple domains, including to concentrate on more integrated development of emerging technologies. This strategy is regarded as critical to China’s capacity to succeed in a confrontation of systems.

Asia Society > China File How Should the U.S. Respond to China’s Military-Civil Fusion Strategy?

The Protest Families of Pro-Democracy Hong Kong

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 in the city’s southern Kowloon district of Yau Ma Tei by herself (she asked me to use a pseudonym to protect her from possible arrest or other official reprisal). A petite figure in a black T-shirt and balaclava, she was carrying an umbrella—not for rain, but to shield her face from surveillance cameras. This was the protesters’ uniform.

Asia Society > China File The Protest Families of Pro-Democracy Hong Kong

A Letter to My Editors and to China’s Censors

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 his ‘Ten Letters from a Year of Plague,’ a collection that, read as a whole, is an account of the persecution he has suffered since he published a fierce point-by-point appraisal of the Xi Jinping era and warned of the calamities that lay ahead. The letters also comprise an agonized farewell both to his former life and to China’s short-lived era of progressive reform.

Asia Society > China File A Letter to My Editors and to China’s Censors

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

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 Reporting Center for Illegal and Unhealthy Information, a division of the Cyberspace Administration, which oversees and regulates China’s Internet, announced that it had launched a new facility on its portal to fight “historical nihilism.” Chinese citizens concerned about online posts that “distort the history of the Party [or] of New China,” “attack the Party’s leadership or ideology,” or “slander heroic martyrs”—as China’..

Asia Society > China File Ahead of Its Centennial, the Chinese Communist Party Frets Over Unsanctioned Takes on Its History

Police Issue Administrative Warning to Australian NGO, Global Times Reports

According to the Global Times, local public security officials in Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province issued an administrative warning to Australia-based non-profit Nying-Jey Projects in April for operating in the area without permission. It is not clear from the wording of the Global Times article whether police censured the NGO for failing to register a representative office or for failing to file for a temporary activity.

Asia Society > China File

What Should China Do about Its Aging Population?

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 country reversed its one-child policy to allow—and encourage—couples to to have two children, there is little to suggest it has had the intended effect. While the fertility rate increased slightly the year after the new policy went into effect, it has declined ever since and remains below replacement rate. Economic constraints, insufficient workplace and government support for parents (particularly mothers), and, likely, decades of messagin..

Asia Society > China File What Should China Do about Its Aging Population?

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

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 terrorism, their primary crime appears to be peaceful criticism of the government. A closer look at the arrests under the NSL or conducted by the newly-created National Security Department of the Hong Kong Police paints a clearer picture of how authorities in Hong Kong have implemented the new law, and what they might hope to achieve.

Asia Society > China File New Data Show Hong Kong’s National Security Arrests Follow a Pattern