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A few days ago the New York Times posted a story entitled “Where Europe Trails Asia,” in which a weary traveler longs for the friendly customs line in China over the one in Germany (which, as we all know, has a global reputation for enthusiastic smiles). I thought I should offer my following experience in reply. On my recent trip home I was reminded of all the fabulous tourist sites I had visited over the past five years – The Terracotta Soldiers, The Great Buddha at Leshan, Dali, Lijiang, and scores of others. However, as incredible as the sites are, I’m often left pondering how much better the trips would have been if just a little bit more thought had been put into the planning […]


Yesterday we posted Xu Zhiyong’s essay calling for a New Citizens’ Movement. Today I want to highlight a few of the aspects that make this piece especially interesting to me, and why I believe this essay lays out a realistic path for change. Reform not Revolution What has been made clear time and again in Global Times and Peoples Daily is that the Chinese people have little appetite for revolution, they aren’t wrong about this. After all, they got their fill of the chaos that revolution brings during Mao’s reign. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, and a successful movement is going to have to reassure the people that what they are doing is not going to turn China into Libya, Egypt or Syria. […]


For seven years Chen Guangcheng has been silenced in China for his role in opposing illegal forced abortions in Shandong province, that ended today with his arrival in the US. Even after his escape from thugs in Linyi, the gov’t in Beijing kept him in a tightly guarded hospital room. Finally, he will have a chance to talk openly about his experiences and the situation facing hundreds of other activists in China. I hope you will take a moment to reflect on the power of that image – a man once tortured and imprisoned, now is able to stand in front of the world. I wanted to say that he was no longer afraid of the Chinese gov’t and their reprisals, but much of Chen’s […]


Chinese police rescue 178 children after mass child trafficking ring bust, from The Telegraph, covered the biggest story of the week: Chinese police arrested over 600 suspects connected with trafficking. This issue of child trafficking is one we’ve covered before on the blog, and if you’d like to learn more about it, read my interview with Charlie Custer, who is directing a film on the topic. Journalists should be government mouthpieces, Chinese media leader says, from the New York Times, looks at the most widely discussed comment this week. The leader argued that journalists who believed they were anything but propaganda pieces were misguided. Not a good sign for freedom of the press in China. The Death – Microcosms, by Eric Fish on Sinostand, is […]


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 […]


Ai Weiwei speaks out on his detention, appeared online for Newsweek and covers both the artist’s arrest and his ongoing campaign to pay a 2 million dollar tax bill. Ai’s description of his arrest is troubling, as well as Beijing’s attempts to silence him of which he said, “If you play a chess game, and play two or three moves, they throw the board away.” Shortly after paying part of the tax bill, the gov’t brought charges of pornography against him. Chinese executioner says job not complicated, appeared this week in Reuters. It gives a glimpse into one of China’s best kept state secrets: how many people are executed each year? It’s a little grisly, but it’s important to keep a focus on these issues. […]


A few weeks ago SeeingRedinChina.com was not accessible within China. My initial urge was to figure out which post had led to being blocked, and decide what that would mean for the future of the blog. Was it our coverage of Chen Guangcheng’s case? Or was it my rant against the Global Time’s incredible lack of integrity which unintentionally went online the same day that Global Time’s called us one of the best English language blogs focused on China. A few days later though, the site was accessible and we hadn’t changed a thing. The Great Firewall of China had shifted once again. In my year of blogging I’ve seen a number of websites get blocked and often people try to find a single reason. Instead of […]


I’m going to try something slightly different with this week’s Top Stories. Instead of creating a summary of the most important events, I’ll link to the best articles published this week about China. If you prefer this format or the other please let me know in the comments. -Tom Why many in China sympathize with Occupy Wallstreet – a great article from the Atlantic looking at differences between rural and urban residents. China’s Fox News – Christina Larson of Foreign Policy gives her take on the Global Times and journalism in China. Which was followed up by The top 10 screeds in China’s Global Times. Global Times fired back with Foreign Policy’s limited view of Chinese media. Chinese police take on ‘lost generation’ grandparents – Malcom […]


The top story this week was the fallout surrounding Li Yang’s abuse of his wife. Li is the head of “Crazy English” which is probably the best known English learning program in China. Last week pictures were post on Weibo by his wife that documented the abuse, and begged him to stop hitting her in front of their children. This was a shock to Li who said, “I hit her sometimes, but I never thought she would make it public since it’s not Chinese tradition to expose family conflicts to outsiders.” Adam Minter wrote an excellent piece for Bloomberg with a closer look at this case, and what it says about domestic abuse in China. The biggest lesson from this article is that China does not have […]


The big story in China news this week was that there was an effort by Chinese arms companies to sell weapons to Qaddafi in mid-July, well after the UN embargo had begun. While the Chinese gov’t is denying any knowledge of these meetings (even claiming that it might have just been a friendly chat), and is stressing that no arms were sold. This does however fit China’s pattern of supporting dictators with small arms that they know are being used against civilians. As China’s strength grows, it is finding foreign policy to be a bit of a minefield. Read my coverage of weapons sales to Zimbabwe, and Chinese attitudes about the genocide in Darfur. China also used state media to focus anger at ConocoPhillips this week as news […]


My wife pointed out to me last night that over the last few days I had fairly completely torn apart the Chinese educational system. My goal in writing these posts was not meant as a way of proclaiming the complete failure of the schools. So today I’d like to focus on the parts of the educational system that show great promise, but still need a bit of work. Creating World Class Universities If you look at this list of the top 100 universities in the world you will notice that China occupies 3 of the places (Sorry Chinese gov’t, you don’t get credit for universities in Taiwan or HK). Upon looking for the other up and coming BRICS, you will notice that China is the […]


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