China Change Logo

You are reading about: Chengdu

Liao Yiwu, translated by Michael Martin Day, March 4, 2019 On December 9th, 2018, on the eve of International Human Rights Day, in my hometown of Chengdu, Sichuan, the most influential house church in China today, the Early Rain Covenant Church, was raided by the police and banned, and more than 100 believers were taken away. The chapel, seminary, and other church property funded by the congregants were seized and the property was immediately and illegally occupied, becoming the government office hall of the Double Eyes Well Community. The founders of the church, the husband-and-wife pair of Wang Yi (王怡) and Jiang Rong (蒋蓉), were both accused of “inciting subversion of state power”, arrested and have gone missing until this day, leaving their ten-year-old son, Wang […]


Pastor Wang Yi, December 24, 2018     In line with the teachings of the Bible and the mission of the gospel, I respect the leaders that God placed in power over China, because the coming and going of kings and leaders is all His hands. In this vein, I shall obey the arrangements God has made for Chinese history and its government. As a pastor of the Christian church, my starting point is the Bible, and I have my own understanding and views on society, politics, and law, as well as on the proper definitions of justice and benevolent governance. I abhor the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution of the church, how it deprives people of their right to free faith. However, it is not […]


China Change, December 21, 2018     On Sunday evening, December 9, while worshiping with members, Wang Yi (王怡), the lead pastor of Chengdu Early Rain Covenant Church was seized and taken away by police. The church was raided; books and other items were confiscated. In the same evening, police descended on homes of many members, demanding that they sign a pledge not to participate in “illegal gatherings of the Early Rain church” anymore. Over one hundred were taken away for refusing to sign. The church’s WeChat group was shut down, so were the personal accounts of many churchgoers. The authorities outlawed the church, the church’s elementary school and its divinity school. According to the latest report, 25 church members have been detained so far. […]


Wu Qiang, December 14, 2016 “They had merely to sit on the edges of Tianfu Square wearing smog masks for police bring them in for interrogation until the early hours of the morning — this is a clear show of how deeply anxious Chengdu authorities are about protests against smog.”     For the last week, inland China has been enveloped in smog. Some cities issued emergency smog warnings; others cancelled outdoor activities at schools. In Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, the government banned gatherings in Tianfu Square (天府广场)— as though they were afraid of something. And just as expected, on the weekend, Chengdu residents came out in numbers on Chunxi road in the central business district and on Tianfu Square. Some sat down […]


On Saturday Yaxue shared the story of “Subverter” Chen Pingfu. Essentially, he was deeply in debt after paying for a surgery, and turned to performing in public to try and pay off the money he owed his family members. For this he was threatened and eventually beaten by “public servants,” but he continued on. When he complained about this treatment online, he was further harassed by police, and was forced out of the only job he’d been able to find in years. Chen was a man desperately clinging to the last shred of dignity he had and local officials were determined to take that away from him. Apparently in China, when the gov’t takes away your job and threaten you by saying, “I’ll send you […]


On return from more than a week on the road, I caught up with my China news and found it all to be a bit…predictable. In response I’ve created the following template that seems to exist somewhere to save all of you time. A gov’t official (or family member of an official) was caught abusing their power by murdering/embezzling/forcing farmers off their land/covering up a scandal for a company in X province. The story first appeared on Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter, late last week and built to a crescendo over the weekend. SomeGuyWithACamera posted pictures of an angry crowd ranging between dozens and thousands, which were deleted within 24 hours by censors. Calls to the local gov’t went unanswered. A man from the […]


For the last few weeks, the expat community in China has been abuzz with talk about Beijing’s crackdown on foreigners who are here illegally, and the growing anti-foreign sentiment that seems to be stoked by state media (Beijing Cream’s summary of what sparked it all and the fiery post that almost got China Geeks sued). So far the crackdown has already spread to Yanbian and Chengdu is preparing to announce similar measures, a nationwide campaign in the next few months would not be surprising. If we’re completely honest though, I think most of us would agree with the importance of enforcing visa policies, but dislike the tone of the rhetoric and the nationalism it encourages. I think we should also admit that most of us know people […]


Last night the Central Gov’t confirmed that rumors of Bo Xilai’s involvement in the death of a British national were true. The Party claims this as a victory that shows China as a country “ruled by law (and here),” even though information about this case began to surface months ago with Wang Lijun fleeing to the U.S. Embassy in Chengdu. Bo’s sacking along with the revelation that he may have been an accomplice in a murder is also unusual in that high-level officials are usually dismissed without much clarification. In the last big case, with Railway minister Liu Zhijun supposedly embezzling 800 million RMB, it was only stated in the Chinese press that he was suspected for graft without a specific amount (even though he was blamed […]


For those who have never visited China, the country offers much more freedom than you are probably imagining. For those who’ve visited for quick trips, China is likely far more restrictive than what you’ve experienced. For most people in China, the lack of freedom only occasionally asserts itself as the veneer of “reform and opening up” gives way, exposing the fact that in many ways, China is still a police state. Despite my daily reading of abuses and scandals, these breaches rarely appear in daily life. This is partially why I try to avoid reporting on every act of depravity, they don’t reflect the China I know. At times it feels like there are two completely separate realms, the one in the papers and the one that I […]


Just in case you’ve been doing something else this week besides poring over China news, Monday marked the start of China’s annual Two Meetings (两会lianghui). Over 10 days, “representatives” (it is unclear who they actually represent) submit thousands of suggestions for new laws, listen to speeches from heads of various ministries, and approve virtually everything the Party sets in front of them. For many Chinese netizens, it serves as a buffet of memes (internet jokes) at the expense of sleeping delegates and Mao’s grandson, as well as a source of outrage when it comes to expensive clothing and accessories. At the end of the meetings, new laws will be presented and then promptly forgotten. As the WSJ put it: …activists including artist Ai Weiwei, who was detained […]


Clark Nielsen came to China with no training and no clue how to be an English teacher, Yes China! An English Teacher’s Love-Hate Relationship with a Foreign Country ($13.45 paperback, $5.99 Kindle) is the enjoyable record of what happened next. The majority of the book focuses on his experiences in a variety of classroom settings and his failure to understand how to properly lesson plan. Clark’s first foray into China was with a largely Mormon summer teaching program, which leads to interesting reflections from Clark on his former faith and how his decision to leave the church has changed his life (non-China related personal content makes up about 20-30% of the book). It’s also an account of him struggling to control a class full of primary students […]


As my wife, whom I love very much, reminds me from time to time, I assume too often that the readers of the blog actually know me. I hope this post helps you better understand where I am coming from as you read about the China that I know. From time to time readers of the blog ask whether or not I even like living in China. They say things like, “If you don’t like it, why don’t you just go home?” In no time the comment section fills up with reasons why I should stay in China to continue my work, whatever that might be. The truth is though, I love China. Since high school I’ve been fascinated by everything about the country, and […]


This year a crowd of economists and social spectators have started to wonder aloud if 2012 will be the year China’s system collapses (to be fair, this is an annual tradition). This time they are pointing to mass incidents, economic troubles, growing evidence of corruption, a Grand Canyon sized gap between rich and poor, and scandals that seem to rock the country on a bi-weekly basis. These are challenges China has overcome before, but on a much smaller scale and without having to contend with the openness of Weibo. Some might go so far as to say that what has already been set in motion makes it impossible to avoid such a catastrophe. However, there is a single problem underlying many of China’s greatest woes: […]


As Thanksgiving and the winter holidays draw near, we often imagine Norman Rockwell-esque gatherings. Elaborate and delicious meals, the sounds of convivial conversation, the feeling of warmth that comes from time spent with family. I think for most of us, it is these things that come to mind, even if we haven’t personally experienced these things in our own lives. We imagine a time in the past when things were better, and from that false memory, complain about the present. I’ve noticed that among my Chinese friends, the topic of discussion has been more frequently focused on China’s current woes. The other day, one co-worker was disgusted by the deaths of over 20 children in a school bus crash, and the other one talked in […]


In China, white people get an inexplicably large amount of respect simply by being white (I didn’t use “foreigners” here because people with darker skin are typically excluded from these “perks” regardless of their country of origin). You get preferential treatment when it comes time to find a job (often making several times what your Chinese counterpart makes)and even in Chengdu, a city with a decent number of foreigners, Casey and I were offered positions as “marketing managers” for a wine company while we shopped at a supermarket. A few months ago, I was offered a spot in an advertisement for a nearby restaurant. For reading a few lines in Chinese I would have received 2,000RMB (close to what a factory worker earns in a month), and a scrumptious banquet […]


It seems that few people manage to escape China without a tale of being conned out of at least a couple dollars. Whether it’s buying goods in Beijing’s silk market at prices 1000% higher than locals would pay, getting tricked into paying additional “fees” at hotels, or having a cabbie take you the long way back to the train station. Today we’re going to be exploring why scamming isn’t seen as an ethical problem in China. While many people think that these scams are simply a result of increased tourism (which is definitely a factor), this does not completely explain its prevalence in the middle kingdom. After all, foreigners aren’t the only ones getting tricked, it may actually be more closely tied to the idea […]


For those of you reading this outside of China, it’s important to understand that China has probably close to a dozen different kinds of police. There are traffic police, railway police, bus police and countless others. When there is a problem, like when my friend had her i-Pod stolen as she got on a bus, it took 6 phone calls to figure out which police should handle the case (ultimately it was the bus police, even though they didn’t think it was their jurisdiction because she wasn’t fully on the bus when it happened). Of these police, there is one branch that is the most feared and despised, they are known as the Chengguan (City Management). While most criticisms of gov’t agencies are only ever whispered […]


Continued from yesterday In the week before his new girlfriend arrived, there was a flurry of emails. He told us that he was spending hours each night writing and reading her emails. She was kind enough to accept them in English and would reply in English, all with the help of Google translate. They would even talk on the phone, but that was just a few very simple phrases. My friend seemed genuinely happy with this new-found love. They were able to communicate well enough, and he thought that with her determination she’d be able to learn enough English to handle living in the US. For now though he had a simple solution. He bought two pocket translators, and ever so slowly they could “talk” […]


Yesterday I brought you the wonderful example of true love in an intercultural marriage, so today I want to look at some of the ways these relationships can be exploitative. Now generally speaking when I hear Chinese-Foreigner marriage, I think of a Western Man and a Chinese woman. Typically the man is 10-30 years older than the woman, and she is far better looking than he is. In most of China’s major cities it is hard to miss seeing these kinds of relationships, and it’s harder still to believe that these could be true love. I know when I first arrive in China I thought it was disgusting that these men were so clearly taking advantage of the younger woman. Last year though I met […]


Yesterday we started to look very generally at China’s efficiency problems. Today I would like to introduce you to a few of the most pointless jobs in China that highlight the practices inspired by low wages. Bus Line Monitor I see these people standing at each of the bus stops on my way to work each morning. They stand around with their yellow or red arm bands and watch the masses cram in to buses. While their title might imply that these people are in some way responsible for making sure getting on the bus is an orderly process, I have yet to see them do anything to improve the situation. Receipt Stamper A common sight throughout China, the receipt stamper is the bored looking […]


Yesterday I detailed the many ways in which school officials cheat to pass inspections, so it’s no surprise that teachers often turn a blind eye to cheating in the classroom. Cheating/copying is pervasive throughout China, in every level of education and industry. A gov’t spokesperson even went so far as to say that copying was a kind of innovation. If you’ve read my posts about copyrights in China (here, here and here) you already know about the problems caused by copying, so today we are going to look at the lighter side of cheating. In the west I think we tend to idealize Chinese/Asian students as incredibly hard workers who are completely focused on their studies and hold their teachers in high regard. Many foreign […]


I know I promised more on creativity, but education is a big topic, and I think if you read through the comments on yesterday’s post, you will find a wealth of information on that topic. In China every college/university goes through a thorough inspection every 2 years (inspections are common in all institutions in China). This process is meant to evaluate the level of the school and to ensure that the school is up to the government standards. It involves interviewing teachers, monitoring lessons, and evaluating student work. These inspections are a collosal waste of time, and do nothing to improve the educational system. Today I’ll be showing you how even the worst universities manage to pass these evaluations (I was told by one of […]


This week Frontline aired an in-depth look at Chinese artist/dissident (or perhaps  dissident/artist) Ai Weiwei. The full episode entitled “Who’s Afraid of Ai Weiwei” is available online here along with a profile of his online activism here. If you aren’t familiar with Ai Weiwei, it’s time for your formal introduction. Ai Weiwei first caught my eye a few years ago when he championed a movement for a complete name list of those who died in the Sichuan Earthquake in 2008. It is believed the gov’t set an “official” number of causalities from the earthquake very shortly after the event, and never revised the number. Thousands of children died in school buildings that had been poorly constructed (Ai Weiwei estimates more than 5,000). These buildings collapsed […]


The wedding fun continues (Part 1, Part 2)! Today we will wrap up with a few odds and ends about the activities surrounding the wedding day and the wedding night, before we begin to look at marriage in China. I realized this morning that I had almost forgotten an incredibly important part of getting married in China, wedding photos.The name is misleading; they aren’t pictures taken at the wedding, instead they are taken months in advance in clothes you don’t even own. My wife and I experienced this joy/ordeal for ourselves last year in Chengdu. We opted for the cheapest package (I think 2-3,000rmb), which included 3 outfit changes, 2 indoor backdrops and 1 outdoor photo shoot. My Chinese friends have gone with more pricey […]


With so many changes in China over the past 30 years of opening up, it isn’t surprising that weddings have been hugely impacted as well. The result is that in modern China it’s incredibly hard to say what a “typical” wedding includes beyond a large meal and a lot of drinking. So I will describe a wedding I attended last year in Chengdu in order to present some of the interesting twists that now appear in Chinese weddings. I was greeted at the door by the bride and groom who shook my hand before I was passed off to the official gift collectors. These people counted the money given by each guest and then recorded the figure in a book next to my name. Upstairs […]


We’ve seen how limited interconnectedness and a lack of communication have been causing problems in China’s banks and hospitals. Today I want to bring up a third trend that is critical to understanding how China works. China’s Government This might not be a popular view in the West, but China’s National government has created some excellent policies and laws (for the most part, the most oppressive laws are hold-outs from twenty years ago). I believe that they have a clear vision of what they want for China, and they are eager to be in a globally respected position. The problem is their inability to implement many of these plans because of local officials. I realized this last year when I read “Will the Boat Sink […]


Throughout the economic downturn China has kept huge numbers of people employed by starting massive infrastructure projects. They’ve built hundreds of miles of high-speed rail, started construction on new subway lines, and have worked on improving the freeway system. It seems China has all the infrastructure it could ever need, maybe even more than it will need for a while. However, there are three areas that seem decades behind where they should be for a superpower, and we’ll be looking at them over the next few days. Banks- The bank is my least favorite place in China. It is the pinnacle of Chinese style bureaucracy, with piles of pointless paperwork and regulations that are impossible to understand. A few examples: Paper work – When my […]


In China I often hear opinions stated as facts, so today I present to you: The two best Chinese poets, Li Bai and Dufu. These two are known by virtually all Chinese people, regardless of their level of education. I have chosen a few of their best short poems for you to read today to introduce you to some of the finer things in Chinese culture. A few things you should know about Chinese poetry before reading these is that: 1. Poets were usually travelers 2. Poets typically will express Daoist (Taoist) ideals, often through images of nature 3. Poets were usually inspired by simple events, and wrote hundreds of poems 4. Poets were often drunk Dufu, who lived just up the street from me […]


This is part Four of a series on childhood in Rural China. Part One. Part Two. Part Three. When I first arrived in China my friend Kyle made an excellent point. He told me that it was impossible to fully understand our students, because they have overcome tragedies and obstacles greater than we could ever imagine. At the time I thought that it was an exaggeration, of course I can empathize I thought, but now I know that he was right. Some of the people I am most in awe of were the students I taught in Guangxi and Sichuan. Helen was a shy girl, but you couldn’t help but notice her irrepressible smile. In Yizhou the other students had two nicknames for her, “Happy” […]


I’m not exactly sure how these things happen, but the other day my blog post got put up on a Chinese website (the section was later deleted). The title of the article had been translated pretty well. The name got translated to “China Sees Red,” which isn’t quite what I take it to mean, but its close. The post there led to some interesting discussion and a few naïve comments (it is still the internet, no matter the country). The big question though was; who is this American to judge China? It’s a fair question, so let me introduce myself. I had wanted to work in China since I was 16 and spent the 5 following years studying Chinese Language and history. I was enchanted, […]


vertical_align_top
Support our work

At China Change, a few dedicated staff bring you information about human rights, rule of law, and civil society in China. We want to help you understand aspects of China’s political landscape that are the most censored and least understood. We are a 501(c)(3) organization, and your contribution is tax-deductible. For offline donation, or donor receipt policy, check our “Become a Benefactor” page. Thank you.


Follow Us

Stats
Total Pageviews:
  • 1,360,911
Read in:
216 countries and territories