During the Cold War, it was not uncommon for some in the United States to attack what they called the forces of “godless” communism, whether in China or Soviet Russia. But this is a misconception.

Communist regimes are definitely atheist, but in their behavior they are not godless. Chinese President Xi Jinping recently gave the world a fresh reminder.

In mid-September, Xi visited a museum in Hunan province, stopping at a statue commemorating the “Ragged Quilt.” There, he retold the story of how three female soldiers in the Red Army spent the night at the home of a villager. As the soldiers left, they cut their quilt in two and gave one half to the woman who had sheltered them.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man walks past an advertisement for K-pop boy band BTS in Seoul, South Korea, on Sept. 18. (SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg)

Hell hath no fury like a legion of loyal K-pop fans scorned.

This month, K-pop group BTS accepted the Korea Society’s James A. Van Fleet Award, which recognizes the group’s role in developing goodwill between South Korea and the United States. By all accounts, it was a harmless event focusing on diplomacy. But then band leader Kim Nam-joon, better known as RM, made a comment about the tragedies of the Korean War, saying “we need to always remember the history of pain shared by the two nations, and sacrifices of many men and women.”

This immediately triggered the paranoia of the Chinese propaganda machine, which bizarrely interpreted the remark as an insult because there was no mention of Chinese lives lost during the war.…  Seguir leyendo »

Credit Liu Shiping/Xinhua, via Getty Images

Even as the United States and China confront deep disagreements, there is a global challenge that simply won’t wait for the resolution of our differences: climate change.

While some have decided that we are entering a new Cold War with China, we can still cooperate on critical mutual interests. After all, even at the height of 20th-century tensions, the Americans and the Soviets negotiated arms control agreements, which were in the interests of both countries.

Climate change, like nuclear proliferation, is a challenge of our own making — and one to which we hold the solution. We have an opportunity this month to make clear that great power rivalries aside, geopolitics must end at the water’s edge — at the icy bottom of our planet in the Southern Ocean, which surrounds the entire continent of Antarctica.…  Seguir leyendo »

In 2016, when nearly everyone in China thought that Hillary Clinton would win the White House, one group in particular was confident of a Donald Trump victory. Back when most goods flowed from China, merchants in the trading hub of Yiwu received four times more orders for Trump than for Clinton merchandise.

This year, just as popular opinion in China is sure that Trump will lose in November, the merchants of Yiwu are back in the spotlight. They report that Trump is beating Joe Biden in orders, but as at least one writer points out, 2020 is not 2016. The trade war means that Americans now order their Trump and Biden stickers and signs from all over the world, making Yiwu a less reliable barometer than last time around.…  Seguir leyendo »

En noviembre de 2017, Donald Trump visitó Pekin y el presidente chino Xi Jinping le acompañó en la Ciudad Prohibida. Ante la habitual referencia a la condición milenaria de China, Trump le objetó: “Pero la civilización egipcia fue más antigua”. La respuesta de Xi zanjó el debate: la china es la única civilización hoy sobreviviente después de 5.000 años.

La afirmación de Xi Jinping subraya un hecho capital: la continuidad que caracteriza a la trayectoria histórica de China ha superado incluso los momentos críticos en que pareció desplomarse, como la conquista mongol y la revolución comunista de Mao Zedong. La permanencia de las formas de pensamiento fue el indicador más claro: Mao se vanaglorió de haber eliminado a cientos de sabios confucianos, eso sí en competencia con el primer emperador, y la acusación de confuciano fue utilizada en las condenas de sus rivales Liu Shaoqi y Deng Xiaoping, el de los gatos cazadores.…  Seguir leyendo »

Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu/Getty Images Actors from the People’s Art Theater of Wuhan performing in a drama about medical staff fighting Covid-19 in Wuhan, September 2020

On January 31 I received a knock at the door of my Beijing apartment. It was the manager of lease renewals clutching a stack of flyers.

“Mr. Zhang, you’re feeling well?” she asked, using my Chinese surname.

“No fever yet.”

She laughed—foreigners and their comments.

“I know you don’t have the illness, but we want everyone to be safe. Here.” She handed me two copies of the flyer, one in Chinese and the other in English.

They were written by the Beijing municipal government and offered practical tips on how to protect oneself from the coronavirus. It had been eight days since the city of Wuhan had gone into full lockdown and seven since Beijing and other cities across China had declared a public health emergency.…  Seguir leyendo »

China aseguró recientemente que la línea media del Estrecho de Taiwán, reconocida oficiosamente por ambas partes desde hace décadas para prevenir conflictos con la isla de Formosa, es una quimera; en paralelo, tras la reciente visita a Taipéi del funcionario de mayor rango del Departamento de Estado de EE UU en cuatro décadas, el Ejército Popular de Liberación publicitaba un vídeo simulando un ataque a lo que parece ser la base aérea Andersen en Guam. Por su parte, la líder taiwanesa Tsai Ing-wen aseguraba desde la base aérea de Magong, en Penghu, que las importantes grietas surgidas en el statu quo consolidado tras el fin de la larga guerra civil china elevan a ámbar el semáforo de la estabilidad en la región.…  Seguir leyendo »

En la reciente Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas, el presidente chino Xi Jinping declaró que su país se esforzará por alcanzar en el año 2060 la neutralidad de carbono. Fue un anuncio potencialmente muy trascendental y merece que se le preste mayor atención, sobretodo en la Unión Europea.

China produce casi el 30 por ciento de las emisiones mundiales de dióxido de carbono procedentes de los combustibles fósiles: aproximadamente el doble de las emisiones de Estados Unidos y el triple de las de la Unión Europea. Además, es probable que las emisiones de China sigan aumentando, Xi sólo prometió que las emisiones alcanzarían su punto máximo en el año 2030, en tanto que la UE ya tiene planes de reducirlas en 30 puntos porcentuales adicionales.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hong Kong is China, like it or not

No amount of outcry, condemnation or sanctions over the Chinese government’s purported encroachment in Hong Kong’s affairs will alter the fact that Hong Kong is part of China and that its destiny is intertwined with the mainland’s.

Hong Kong has been rocked by a series of crises after the eruption of protests last year over a proposed bill (long since withdrawn) that would have allowed the extradition of some suspects in criminal cases to mainland China.

Hong Kongers who wanted the city promptly to return to peace thought the authorities’ handling of the situation, which dragged on for months and grew more and more violent, was incompetent.…  Seguir leyendo »

Decodificando la estrategia de circulación dual de China

En mayo, la conducción central de China proclamó que “desarrollaría plenamente las ventajas del mercado extremadamente grande del país y el potencial de la demanda doméstica para establecer un nuevo patrón de desarrollo que contemple la circulación dual doméstica e internacional que se complementan entre sí”. La “circulación dual” ha sido objeto de un intenso debate dentro y fuera de China desde entonces.

¿El anuncio señala un cambio fundamental en el paradigma de crecimiento o la estrategia de desarrollo de China? ¿Por qué se introdujo este nuevo concepto y qué cambios conllevará en materia de políticas?

Para responder estas preguntas, deberíamos analizar brevemente el proceso de “reforma y apertura” de China desde que comenzó a fines de los años 1970.…  Seguir leyendo »

Emissions rise from cooling towers at a coal-fired power station in Tongling, China. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg News)

China’s President Xi Jinping announced new climate targets during his Sept. 22 address to the U.N. General Assembly, including the nation’s plan to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.

China’s international climate leadership seems to be in direct conflict with Beijing’s continued promotion of fossil fuel projects at home and abroad, however — so why did Xi make this announcement? Here’s what you need to know about its political and scientific implications.

The timing of China’s announcement is strategic

It’s a big year for the 2015 Paris agreement — by year-end 2020, countries are supposed to submit their second round of “Nationally Determined Contributions” (NDCs), as well as their long-term strategies.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman passes a tarp emblazoned with a Chinese flag on a street in Belgrade, Serbia, on April 13. (Darko Vojinovic/AP)

Last week, a small Chinese company made headlines when independent researchers revealed that it has been collecting information on prominent individuals around the world — 2.4 million of them.

American researcher Christopher Balding and his colleague Robert Potter discovered the database and were able to recover 10 percent of it. The database was created by Zhenhua Data Information Technology, a firm based in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.

At first glance, the company’s activities might not appear especially unusual. Many companies around the world scrape data from the Web to build databases for clients.

Yet what makes the Zhenhua collection effort striking is its extraordinary scale, which encompasses every country and territory in the world.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Chinese government is forcing Tibetans to give up herding and farming to become wage laborers, cutting them off from ancient traditions and sacred landscapes. And that’s just the point.Credit...Purbu Zhaxi/Xinhua, via Getty Images

Before Xinjiang, there was Tibet. Repressive policies tested there between 2012 and 2016 were then applied to the Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in northwestern China: entire cities covered in surveillance cameras, ubiquitous neighborhood police stations, residents made to report on another other.

Now that process also works the other way around. Xinjiang’s coercive labor program — which includes mandatory training for farmers and herders in centralized vocational facilities and their reassignment to state-assigned jobs, some far away — is being applied to Tibet. (Not the internment camps, though.)

Call this a feedback loop of forcible assimilation. It certainly is evidence of the scale of Beijing’s ruthless campaign to suppress cultural and ethnic differences — and not just in Tibet and Xinjiang.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘All the trainees … have returned to society,’ said Xinjiang’s governor last year. An education centre near Kashgar, Xinjiang. Photograph: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images

Since 2017, Xinjiang in China has been reeling from a brutal crackdown outlawing both public and private displays of Uighur culture or identity, not to mention political dissent. A cornerstone of this repression, and the foundation upon which all other coercive measures are built, is an intense and unparalleled carceral regime: a network of hundreds of political indoctrination camps, detention centres and prisons. This has forced the region’s inhabitants not only into obedience but also into a chilling silence.

By most estimates, about 10% of Uighurs and other Muslim nationalities in Xinjiang have found themselves arbitrarily detained in these camps.

While researching human rights in Xinjiang at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a non-partisan thinktank based in Canberra, I’ve spent two years scouring satellite imagery and working with journalists, researchers and survivors to locate as many of these secretive camps as possible.…  Seguir leyendo »

Activists protest against the final draft of the National Register of Citizens in the northeastern state of Assam, in New Delhi, India, on Aug. 4, 2018. (Altaf Qadri/AP)

India and China are once again clashing along their disputed border in the Himalayas — for the first time since 1975. Soldiers on both sides have lost their lives — including at least 20 Indians and an unknown number of their Chinese counterparts.

Yet headlines in the outside world have largely overlooked the fate of local civilians — embodied by five young men from the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. Apparently hired as porters for the Indian Army, they were captured by the Chinese on Sept. 1 and held captive until just a few days ago, when, thankfully, they were finally returned home to their families.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Trump administration announced on Friday that starting on Sunday, it will ban the popular short-video app TikTok from app stores in the United States. The issue, the administration says, is that TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is Chinese, and Washington is worried that the personal data of the many millions of Americans using the app could be siphoned off to China and misused.

To some, that concern may seem excessive or its timing politically opportunistic, but the danger posed by TikTok is real: In fact, it is only a stand-in for far greater risks.

The problem isn’t just TikTok. The tech giant Huawei — which the U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Indian army convoy carrying reinforcements and supplies drives toward Leh, on a highway bordering China, in Gagangir, India, on Sept. 2. (Yawar Nazir/Getty Images)

Last week, the India-China border standoff came the closest it has yet to war. As Taylor Fravel explained, the long-standing border dispute dates from the 1962 Sino-Indian War. The dispute came to a boil in May when a large force of Chinese soldiers crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the disputed border between the two countries since 1962. A deadly skirmish in June temporarily raised tensions, but it was the result of tragic happenstance rather than large and risky military maneuvers.

Tensions have escalated more seriously since late August because both sides have jostled for tactical advantage, creating incentives for each side to outflank or even fight the other.…  Seguir leyendo »

Un anuncio al aire libre de 'Mulán' de Disney en Hollywood, el 13 de marzo. (Rich Fury para Getty Images)

La parte más devastadora de Mulán, la muy anticipada adaptación en acción real de la película animada de 1998, no está en la trama. Está en los créditos. La película vuelve a relatar la antigua leyenda china de Hua Mulan, una hija que decide disfrazarse de hombre para poder unirse al ejército, honrar a su padre y salvar al emperador. Si bien la película genera orgullo por China, lo hace de manera sutil: más allá de unas pocas menciones a defender la Ruta de la Seda, una ruta comercial predilecta del secretario general del Partido Comunista de China, Xi Jinping, los vínculos con la actualidad de este moderno país muy escasos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of arguably the worst congressional vote in this century.

On that day in 2000, the Senate approved Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with the People’s Republic of China by a vote of 83-15. President Bill Clinton signed the legislation into law, declaring: “China will open its markets to American products from wheat to cars to consulting services, and our companies will be far more able to sell goods without moving factories or investments there.”

Republican Rep. Bill Archer of Texas, the lead sponsor of the bill, remarked, “The American people support this agreement because they know it’s good for jobs in America and good for human rights and the development of democracy in China.”…  Seguir leyendo »

A man rides past an advertisement promoting Disney's "Mulan" at a bus stop in Beijing on Wednesday. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Like all little girls, I was captivated by the stories of Disney princesses as a child. My childhood was not so different from others in that respect. What set it apart was that I was born in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in China. My people were not treated with respect or human dignity and faced constant brutality because of our race in our own homeland. This brutality has only accelerated in recent years, as Chinese authorities detained more than 1 million Uighurs in concentration camps as part of a campaign of genocide.

The pain I have faced could never make a good Disney movie.…  Seguir leyendo »