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Tang Danhong, translated by Anne Henochowicz, January 26, 2018   Elliot Sperling died in his sleep at the end of January, 2017 (the Wikipedia entry puts the date of his death on January 29, 2017). In our unabating sorrow of losing a dear friend, China Change presents a full translation of Ms. Tang Danhong’s interview with Elliot. Ms. Tang (唐丹鸿) is herself a prolific writer about Tibet, and now lives with her family in Israel. The interview was conducted in Chinese on July 27, 2014, in New York City. Ms. Tang published it for the first time in February, 2017.  — The Editors         “When I got to Greece, someone said to me, ‘You know, the road doesn’t end in Greece. You could […]


Tsering Woeser, February 10, 2017 Woeser’s note: This essay was written in Lhasa in the summer of 2014, for a very special book. The volume, “Trails of the Tibetan Tradition: Papers for Elliot Sperling,” was a compilation of 31 essays from Tibetologists, paying respect to Elliot Sperling. There were 5 essays in Tibetan, 25 in English, and 1 in Chinese. On February 3, 2015, the book was launched at the Amnye Machen Institute [in Dharamsala]. Prior to that, Elliot didn’t know that this book had been in preparation for two years. It was presented as a gift to him as a token of respect and friendship, and most importantly as a testament to his preciousness and rarity: wise, kind, brave, righteous. And yet… those whom […]


Han Lianchao, September 28, 2016     Some young Chinese friends of mine often criticize me for getting mixed up with the Dalai Lama. They say he’s a separatist element who’s trying to split Tibet from China. I don’t blame them for this, as I once understood things pretty much the same way they do. It’s only after having more opportunities to observe and interact with the Dalai Lama at close range and having more frequent interactions with Tibetans that my brainwashed thinking has gradually begun to change. My answer to these young people is this: Contrary to what the Chinese Communist Party says in their propaganda, the Dalai Lama is no separatist. I recently heard His Holiness the Dalai Lama deliver a lengthy discussion […]


By Tsering Woeser, published: December 30, 2014   On December 26, 2014, I reposted on my Facebook page a video of Tibetan Buddhist monk Kalsang Yeshe’s self-immolation that occurred on December 23 [in Tawu county, Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan province, China], accompanied by an excerpted report explaining that self-immolation is a tragic, ultimate protest against repression. A few hours later, my post was deleted by the Facebook administrator. I was rather shocked when a Facebook notice of deletion leapt out on screen, which I tweeted right away with the thought, “It’s been more than six years since I joined Facebook in 2008, and this is the first time my post was deleted! Does FB also have ‘little secretaries?’” “Little Secretaries” refer to censors hired […]


By Xu Zhiyong Earlier this month, the New York Times published an essay by Dr. Xu Zhiyong (许志永) titled Tibet Is Burning. It was a pared-down version of the following translation that I did. Dr. Xu is the founder of Gongmeng (公盟), or Open Constitution Initiative, a NGO based in Beijing that provides legal assistance to the disempowered and politically persecuted. For much of the year, his freedom of movement was limited because the Chinese government is vigilant about his push for civil actions such as equal education rights movement. He visited Ngaba in October during a short period of freedom. –Yaxue After spending the night in Chogtse Laird’s Castle (卓克基土司官寨) township, I took a cab in the early morning to Barkam (马尔康), the capital of Ngaba, […]


The other day, I highlighted China’s argument for why it should be considered the rightful owner of the Diaoyu Islands – in short: Military aggression should not be rewarded with new territorial claims Treaties signed under duress should not be acknowledged Historical claims should be the major determining factor in ownership, giving special priority to “first come, first serve” Claims made by other gov’ts on land that is already being administered by another power are “illegal” So, while we’re on the issue of sovereignty, let’s take a look at why China claims Tibet as its territory (according to the somewhat misnamed site, Chinahumanrights.org) The peaceful liberation in May 1951 freed Tibetans from the fetters of imperialistic encroachment to enter a new epoch. Certain members of […]


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 […]


As I prepare to head back to the US, I want to share a few of my favorite memories from my five years in China. Late 2007 was a fantastic time to arrive in China. It was the perfect chance to get wrapped up in all of the Olympic hype, and even in the remote county of Longzhou the students could hardly contain their excitement. In October I was asked to fill out a survey from the provincial gov’t to gauge my enthusiasm, and while it seemed odd to ask someone who couldn’t have ended up much further from Beijing, I was pretty excited too. As the Olympics grew closer China’s gov’t faced two huge challenges, the widespread Tibetan uprising, and the devastating Wenchuan Earthquake. […]


By Yaxue Cao, published: March 1, 2012   It’s been a while since “he cha” (drink tea, 喝茶) came to mean, in certain contexts, “summoned and interrogated by the state security police.” A cup of tea may or may not, be present, but either way, it is “having tea” in the parlance of the Chinese netizens. It occurs like this: the interrogatee is called upon by at least two or more state security police at home or at work, approached by them somewhere else, or telephoned for a forced appointment. He cha itself occurs mostly in police stations, but also in secluded offices at workplaces or in schools; in some cases, in one’s home where security police show up at the door and force their […]


By Ge Xun, translated by Yaxue Cao This is the continuation of Ge Xun’s account of his ordeal in Beijing that happened just one week ago. – Part One They asked what prompted me to “come back (to activism)” in 2009. I told them because the human rights situation in China was deteriorating badly, and I wanted to do something to be useful. They asked me what other organization(s) I had joined apart from IFCSS. Any organization having to do with Tibetans overseas? I realized they were asking about the Bay Area Chinese and Tibetan Friendship (BACTF). I joined in 2010. It’s a young organization for mutual understanding and friendship between Chinese and Tibetans in the bay area. I was elected Secretary. “Why did you […]


You know things are going wrong in Tibet and other Tibetan areas when CCTV tells you that Tibetans are living happily as never before, Global Times hits hard on “lawless Tibetans”, and Wumaos (五毛) are swarming Twitter accounts of Woeser and other sources of Tibetan news and spitting hate. On Weibo, there are loose items by travelers, local Chinese, or even one or two members of the armed police, about what they see and do. Otherwise they do a pretty good job making sure there isn’t much news. Click to see a set of pictures taken in Lhasa, Tibet,  on Jan. 31. In this issue we have items about the makeup of China’s new leadership, political reform or the absence of it, a reminiscence about […]


The year of the dragon began with the news that armed police were firing on protesters in Tibetan areas in Northern Sichuan. On Weibo, a netizen said he spotted a sniper on the roof of Jokhang Monastery (大昭寺) in Lhasa, Tibet; another expressed surprise at seeing “so many armed police” on streets of the same city who demanded her to delete pictures she took of them; and many more described seeing military vehicles full of soldiers moving on highways in Western and Northern Sichuan. Otherwise, there isn’t much talk about Tibetans, either the self-immolations or the violence, on Weibo due to censorship. On Twitter however, the news as well as the talks came in steadily from all directions. In this issue, I have several items on […]


Caging a Monster by Murong Xuecun is one of the most compelling cases I have seen made about the state of modern China, and what needs to be done to save it. Make sure you read this. Insight: Tibetans in China seek a fiery way out of despair, by Sui-Lee Wee at Reuters, focuses on the ongoing string of self-immolations happening in Tibet’s religious community and the act of suicide from a Buddhist perspective. Women in China: The sky’s the limit, from the Economist, examines women’s role in the Chinese work place, and explores the differences between types of companies (SEO vs. Multinationals). The piece also looks at how family life is effected by changes in the work place. A credit crisis in China’s most enterprising city […]


The China Quarterly recently released it’s top ten most downloaded articles for free. Over the next few weeks I’ll summarize and comment on a few of these great articles (and save you 20+ pages of reading). Belief in Control: Regulation of Religion in China By: Pittman B. Potter (link to full text) Tom’s Summary: Throughout China’s history, religion has been a source of opposition against imperial forces. Historically, religions that did not comply with current practices of the state were suppressed, which was exemplified by the Party’s efforts to destroy all types of identifiable religious practices under Mao. In the post-Mao era the Party has maintained the view that religion is something that has the potential to undermine their authority and have sought to regulate […]


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 […]


Yesterday we looked at two of the Party’s central myths concerning China’s role in the world, today I want to look at two more myths that might not be working in the way the Party meant. The important thing to note here with the word “myth” is that I don’t mean to judge these definitively as lies (that’s up to you), but that these are stories told with special meaning to teach a specific lesson to the masses. Happy Minorities If you’ve been reading the People’s Daily these past few weeks in the run up to the Party’s 90th anniversary you are probably more than aware of the fact that China is a family of 56 happy ethnic groups. This is a “fact” that students […]


The historical viewpoint that we looked at yesterday seems likely to be the one taken by many ethnic Mongolians, as well as Western journalists. While many of the issues raised will need to be addressed, I think it’s important to consider the bigger picture that these protests are a part of. Han vs. Minority Group This first viewpoint has been the most popular one cited so far, but after talking with my Chinese friend at length about this topic, I think it’s only part of the picture. I think this one has gained a lot of traction because in the past 4 years there have been protests in Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia. All of them sparked by a Han-Minority crime that exploded into larger […]


I think a lot of us picture China as a place where the people are completely ignorant of the outside world due to heavy censorship (yesterday’s post on the topic). Coming to China often does little to change this perception, as people will smile politely and tell you that everything has always been fine in Tibet, or that Tiananmen Square’s only remarkable feature is that it is the largest public square in the world. That is why I take so much pleasure in learning about the subversive corners of the Chinese internet, where the feelings people hide in public come pouring out for the world to read. Some simply ignore the danger of upsetting the government. Little is known about the exact methodology used to […]


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