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  2. Cities and Stability: Urbanization, Redistribution, and Regime Survival in China from ChinaFile on Vimeo.

    China’s management of urbanization is an under-appreciated factor in the regime’s longevity. The Chinese Communist Party fears “Latin Americanization”—the emergence of highly unequal megacities with their attendant slums and social unrest. Such cities threaten the survival of nondemocratic regimes. To combat the threat, many regimes, including China’s, favor cities in policymaking. Cities and Stability shows this “urban bias” to be a Faustian Bargain: cities may be stabilized for a time, but the massive in-migration from the countryside that results can generate the conditions for political upheaval. Through its hukou system of internal migration restrictions, China has avoided this dilemma, simultaneously aiding urbanites and keeping farmers in the countryside. The system helped prevent social upheaval even during the Great Recession, when tens of millions of laid-off migrant workers dispersed from coastal cities. Jeremy Wallace’s powerful account forces us to rethink the relationship between cities and political stability throughout the developing world.
    —Oxford University Press

     
     
  3. Chinese Dreamers from ChinaFile on Vimeo.

    A dream, in the truest sense, is a solo act. It can’t be created by committee or replicated en masse. Try as you might, you can’t compel your neighbor to conjure up the reverie that you envision. And therein lies the latent, uncertain energy in the concept of the “Chinese Dream.” As the new central motto of Chinese politics, introduced by President Xi Jinping in 2013, it is an expression of the Communist Party’s attempt to acknowledge the aspirations of its people. At the same time, wittingly or not, it is a provocative invitation to the public imagination.

    In a country that has long defined its interests in collective terms, people are no longer waiting for their goals and sacrifices to be decreed from above. In Sharron Lovell’s insightful short film, she shows us the Chinese Dream not as a slogan but as the possession of the ordinary young men and women who will determine China’s future. A migrant worker from Henan who says of his austere life in the capital: “In Beijing, all I have is this bed.” A farmer’s daughter who is determined to find the “space to imagine freely.” And, an idealistic student who wants nothing more than to “truly improve the lives of ordinary Chinese people.” They live in the age of the selfie, of headphones, of the smartphone video. Each shows us that, in a city with a population larger than that of Australia, it is possible to be both alone and awakened by the urge to dream.

    —Evan Osnos

     
     
  4. China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa from ChinaFile on Vimeo.

    An exciting, hugely revealing account of China’s burgeoning presence in Africa—a developing empire already shaping, and reshaping, the future of millions of people.

    A prizewinning foreign correspondent and former New York Times bureau chief in Shanghai and in West and Central Africa, Howard French is uniquely positioned to tell the story of China in Africa. Through meticulous on-the-ground reporting—conducted in Mandarin, French, and Portuguese, among other languages—French crafts a layered investigation of astonishing depth and breadth as he engages not only with policy-shaping moguls and diplomats, but also with the ordinary men and women navigating the street-level realities of cooperation, prejudice, corruption, and opportunity forged by this seismic geopolitical development. With incisiveness and empathy, French reveals the human face of China’s economic, political, and human presence across the African continent—and in doing so reveals what is at stake for everyone involved.

    We meet a broad spectrum of China’s dogged emigrant population, from those singlehandedly reshaping African infrastructure, commerce, and even environment (a self-made tycoon who harnessed Zambia’s now-booming copper trade; a timber entrepreneur determined to harvest the entirety of Liberia’s old-growth redwoods), to those just barely scraping by (a sibling pair running small businesses despite total illiteracy; a karaoke bar owner–cum–brothel madam), still convinced that Africa affords them better opportunities than their homeland. And we encounter an equally panoramic array of African responses: a citizens’ backlash in Senegal against a “Trojan horse” Chinese construction project (a tower complex to be built over a beloved soccer field, which locals thought would lead to overbearing Chinese pressure on their economy); a Zambian political candidate who, having protested China’s intrusiveness during the previous election and lost, now turns accommodating; the ascendant middle class of an industrial boomtown; African mine workers bitterly condemning their foreign employers, citing inadequate safety precautions and wages a fraction of their immigrant counterparts’.

    French’s nuanced portraits reveal the paradigms forming around this new world order, from the all-too-familiar echoes of colonial ambition—exploitation of resources and labor; cut-rate infrastructure projects; dubious treaties—to new frontiers of cultural and economic exchange, where dichotomies of suspicion and trust, assimilation and isolation, idealism and disillusionment are in dynamic flux.

    Part intrepid travelogue, part cultural census, part industrial and political exposé, French’s keenly observed account ultimately offers a fresh perspective on the most pressing unknowns of modern Sino-African relations: why China is making the incursions it is, just how extensive its cultural and economic inroads are, what Africa’s role in the equation is, and just what the ramifications for both parties—and the watching world—will be in the foreseeable future.

    —Knopf

     
     
  5. Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China from ChinaFile on Vimeo.

    A century ago, Chinese feminists fighting for the emancipation of women helped spark the Republican Revolution, which overthrew the Qing empire. After China’s Communist revolution of 1949, Chairman Mao famously proclaimed that “women hold up half the sky.” In the early years of the People’s Republic, the Communist Party sought to transform gender relations with expansive initiatives such as assigning urban women jobs in the planned economy. Yet those gains are now being eroded in China’s post-socialist era. Contrary to many claims made in the mainstream media, women in China have experienced a dramatic rollback of many rights and gains relative to men.

    Leftover Women debunks the popular myth that women have fared well as a result of post-socialist China’s economic reforms and breakneck growth. Laying out the structural discrimination against women in China will speak to broader problems with China’s economy, politics, and development. —Zed Books

     
     
  6. The New Emperors: Power and the Princelings in China from ChinaFile on Vimeo.

    How does one become the leader of the world’s newest superpower? And who holds the real power in the Chinese system? China has become the powerhouse of the world economy and home to one in five of the world’s population, yet we know almost nothing of the people who lead it. In The New Emperors, the noted China expert Kerry Brown journeys deep into the heart of the Communist Party. China’s system might have its roots in peasant rebellion but it is now firmly under the control of a power-conscious Beijing elite, almost half of whose members are related directly to former senior Party leaders. Brown reveals the intrigue, scandal, and murder surrounding the internal battle raging between two China’s: one founded by Mao on Communist principles, and a modern China in which ‘to get rich is glorious’. At the centre of it all sits the latest Party Secretary, Xi Jinping—the son of a revolutionary, with links both to big business and to the People’s Liberation Army. His rise to power is symbolic of the new dragons leading the world’s next superpower. —I.B. Tauris

     
     
  7. The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream from ChinaFile on Vimeo.

    In China, just because something is banned, doesn’t mean it can’t boom. Statistically, zero percent of the Chinese population plays golf, still known as the “rich man’s game” and considered taboo. Yet China is in the midst of a golf boom—hundreds of new courses have opened in the past decade, despite it being illegal for anyone to build them. Award-winning journalist Dan Washburn charts a vivid path through this contradictory country by following the lives of three men intimately involved in China’s bizarre golf scene. We meet Zhou, a peasant turned golf pro who discovered the game when he won a job as a security guard at one of the new, exclusive clubs and who sees himself entering the emerging Chinese middle class as a result; Wang, a lychee farmer whose life is turned upside down when a massive, top-secret golf resort moves in next door to his tiny village; and Martin, a Western executive maneuvering through China’s byzantine and highly political business environment, ever watchful for Beijing’s “golf police.” The Forbidden Game is a rich and arresting portrait of the world’s newest superpower and three different paths to the new Chinese Dream.

    —Oneworld Publications

     
     
  8. Tiananmen Exiles: Voices of the Struggle for Democracy in China from ChinaFile on Vimeo.

    In the spring of 1989, millions of citizens across China took to the streets in a nationwide uprising against government corruption and authoritarian rule. What began with widespread hope for political reform ended with the People’s Liberation Army firing on unarmed citizens in the capital city of Beijing, and those leaders who survived the crackdown became wanted criminals overnight. Among the witnesses to this unprecedented popular movement was Rowena Xiaoqing He, who would later join former student leaders and other exiles in North America, where she has worked tirelessly for over a decade to keep the memory of the Tiananmen Movement alive.

    This moving oral history interweaves He’s own experiences with the accounts of three student leaders exiled from China. Here, in their own words, they describe their childhoods during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, their political activism, the bitter disappointments of 1989, and the profound contradictions and challenges they face as exiles. Variously labeled as heroes, victims, and traitors in the years after Tiananmen, these individuals tell difficult stories of thwarted ideals and disconnection that nonetheless embody the hope for a freer China and a more just world.

    —Palgrave Macmillan

     
     
  9. Voices From Tibet: Selected Essays and Reportage from ChinaFile on Vimeo.

    Tsering Woeser and Wang Lixiong are widely regarded as the most eloquent, insightful writers on contemporary Tibet. Their reportage on the economic exploitation, environmental degradation, cultural destruction, and political subjugation that plague the increasingly Han Chinese-dominated Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) is as powerful as it is profound, ardent, and analytical in equal measure, and not in the least bit ideological. Voices from Tibet is a collection of essays and reportage in translation that captures the many facets of an unprecedented sea change wreaked by a rising China upon a scared land and its defenseless people. With the TAR in a virtual lockdown after the 2008 unrest, this book sheds important light on the simmering frustrations that touched off the unrest and Beijing’s stability über alles control tactics in its wake. The authors also interrogate longstanding assumptions about Tibetans’ political future. Woeser’s and Wang’s writings represent a rare Chinese view sympathetic to Tibetan causes, one that should resonate in many places confronting threats of cultural subjugation and economic domination by a non-indigenous power.

    —Hong Kong University Press

     
     
  10. Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China from ChinaFile on Vimeo.

    From abroad, we often see China as a caricature: a nation of pragmatic plutocrats and ruthlessly dedicated students destined to rule the global economy—or an addled Goliath, riddled with corruption and on the edge of stagnation. What we don’t see is how both powerful and ordinary people are remaking their lives as their country dramatically changes.

    As the Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, Evan Osnos was on the ground in China for years, witness to profound political, economic, and cultural upheaval. In Age of Ambition, he describes the greatest collision taking place in that country: the clash between the rise of the individual and the Communist Party’s struggle to retain control. He asks probing questions: Why does a government with more success lifting people from poverty than any civilization in history choose to put strict restraints on freedom of expression? Why do millions of young Chinese professionals—fluent in English and devoted to Western pop culture—consider themselves “angry youth,” dedicated to resisting the West’s influence? How are Chinese from all strata finding meaning after two decades of the relentless pursuit of wealth?

    Writing with great narrative verve and a keen sense of irony, Osnos follows the moving stories of everyday people and reveals life in the new China to be a battleground between aspiration and authoritarianism, in which only one can prevail.

    —Farrar, Straus, and Giroux