China

RESIDENTS have found something else to blame for the toxic smog that envelops many Chinese cities for much of the year. Until recently the culprits that were usually fingered were the obvious ones: emissions from coal-fired power plants, exhaust fumes from cars and dust from building sites. This year, however, reports began to appear in state-run media that climate change is now reckoned to be a factor, too. Chinese scientists say that in eastern China global warming is resulting in less rain an...
Weighing them up against BMWsA MAN pedals a brand-new, orange and silver bicycle to his office door. He dismounts in the middle of the pavement, flicks down the kickstand and disappears inside. A woman approaches and waves her smartphone over a QR code near the rear mudguard. The lock snaps open and off she rides. These days, China’s once bicycle-clogged streets are choked with cars. But some urbanites are getting back on two (motorless) wheels, lured by the ease of using shared “dockless”...
ALL politicians demand loyalty, but some politicians demand more loyalty than others. Xi Jinping, China’s president, is in the Napoleon class—Napoleon the pig, that is, who taught the creatures of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” the slogan: “Comrade Napoleon is always right.”Over the past few months a parade of dignitaries has professed undying allegiance to Mr Xi and the Communist Party he leads. The trigger was a party decision in October to anoint Mr Xi as the “core” of the le...
THROUGHOUT Chinese history, the dawn of new dynasties often involved moving the entire capital, imperial palace and all, to a new city. By those dynastic standards, Xi Jinping’s ambitions are modest. He simply wants to shift some of Beijing an hour’s drive to the south. But by the standards of modern urban development, his vision is grand indeed. All going well, the new area, known as Xiongan, will cover 2,000 square kilometres, nearly three times the size of New York City or Singapore. A ...
The old Carrie LamTHE leader of Hong Kong, Leung Chung-ying, will not be widely missed when he steps down at the end of June, especially by the young. His five-year term has been dogged throughout by student-led protests. In 2012 thousands of high-school pupils demonstrated against what they saw as an effort to teach them to love the Chinese Communist Party (“national education”, as the government called it). Leaders of the campaign were back on the streets again two years later demanding fu...
FRIDAY is a good day for eight-year-old Yang Zongtao. He will see his mother and baby sister after spending the week boarding at Jiaoba Central Primary School in Guizhou, a southern province and one of China’s poorest. He misses his mother “a bit”, he says stoically. But the walk from his home takes an hour, too long to undertake alone each day. So, like millions of pupils in China’s countryside, he remains at school all week (some stay longer). There are rural children who start boardin...
IN THREE months, celebrations will take place at Hong Kong’s harbour-front convention centre to mark the 20th anniversary of the territory’s momentous return from Britain to China. The rumour is that President Xi Jinping himself will attend. What was striking about the handover ceremony on July 1st 1997 was that Hong Kong’s people were not represented. They were mere bystanders—or else helping with the catering. From the start, Hong Kongers were symbolically put in their place. At the co...
AS DONALD TRUMP prepares to welcome Xi Jinping next week for the two men’s first face-to-face encounter, both countries are reassessing their place in the world. They are looking in opposite directions: America away from shouldering global responsibilities, China towards it. And they are reappraising their positions in very different ways. Hare-like, the Trump administration is dashing from one policy to the next, sometimes contradicting itself and willing to box any rival it sees. China, tort...
IMAGES of China beam out from a giant electronic billboard on Times Square in the heart of New York city: ancient temples, neon-lit skyscrapers and sun-drenched paddy fields. Xinhua, a news service run by the Chinese government, is proclaiming the “new perspective” offered by its English-language television channel. In Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, children play beneath hoardings advertising swanky, Chinese-built apartment complexes in the city. Buyers are promised “a new lifestyle”....
THE National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s rubber-stamp parliament, wrapped up its annual session on March 15th. Usually its business is unremarkable. This year, however, a piece of legislation that was passed on the final day may prove unusually important. It is known by the unlovely name of the General Principles of Civil Law. It sets the stage for China to pass its first civil code, an overarching law governing legal disputes other than those involving crimes.China has a civil-law syst...
Is he worth it?MUCH grumbling accompanied the start on March 4th of this year’s season of the Chinese Super League (CSL), the uppermost tier of professional football in China. Managers of its 16 clubs have been gnashing their teeth at a change of rules which was suddenly announced just a few weeks before the first matches. Teams are now allowed to field a maximum of three foreigners.The clubs would have preferred more notice. Many of them have only just acquired even more foreign players. All ...
THE aisles at Lotte Mart in Beijing’s Wangjing district were strangely quiet early this week. A few elderly shoppers pushed trolleys; shop assistants tidied the supermarket’s shelves. Customers have been scarce since “something happened” a few weeks ago, says one cashier. That event was a deal signed on February 28th by Lotte, a South Korean firm, allowing America to build an anti-missile system on land the company owns in South Korea. China’s government has responded by encouraging an...
LI KEQIANG is a master of metaphors for painful economic reform. In 2013, his first year as prime minister, he told the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s rubber-stamp parliament, that reform required the courage of a “warrior cutting his own wrist”. At the NPC’s annual gathering in 2015, he described it as “taking a knife to one’s own flesh”. On March 5th, at the opening in Beijing of this year’s 11-day meeting of the legislature, he was less gory, calling it “the str...
HOW many parties does it take to run a one-party state? Although the Communist Party is in sole charge, China also has eight other legally registered ones. It calls this a system of “multiparty co-operation”, which involves “sharing weal or woe”. The role of the non-Communist groups is to add a veneer of democracy. Ordinary people dismiss them as “flower vases”—pure decoration.On March 1st Luo Fuhe, a senior leader of one such misleadingly named party, the Chinese Association for P...
Curiously familiar namesACCORDING to a programme on China Central Television, a state-run broadcaster, the following are the names of traitors: Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao. Well, sort of. The broadcaster itself was clearly not claiming the president of that name, or his prime minister, or their immediate predecessors, were enemies of the people. Rather, it aired a historical drama called “The Qin Empire” and someone slipped the names into the latest episode. Their extrao...
A POPULAR song about Xi Jinping, China’s president, begins “From China comes Papa Xi”. It is a deliberate echo of an anthem of the Cultural Revolution that begins “The East is Red. The Sun is rising. From China comes Mao Zedong.”The idea that Mr Xi has Mao-like attributes is common currency. The manifesto of America’s Republican Party, which Donald Trump professed to espouse when he was campaigning for the presidency last year, talks about China’s “return to Maoism” and its “...
THERE is not much doubt who will be declared the next leader of Hong Kong on March 26th: Carrie Lam, who until recently was the head of the territory’s civil service. That is because the Communist Party in Beijing prefers her. The “election committee”, which will make the decision, is stacked with people who will bow to the party’s will. Far more in doubt is whether Mrs Lam will command public support. Her main rival for the job is trying to show that he has more of it. If he is right, t...
THIS time of year can be a tough one for factories in areas surrounding Beijing. To keep the capital’s sky clear of smog during the annual session of China’s parliament, which begins on March 5th, officials often order polluting firms to close down for several days. This year many are reported to have done so. Such measures, however, do little to calm an anxious public. In recent months, amid persistent dense smog in Beijing and many other cities, alarm and anger have been growing. A few bra...
YAKS graze on grassland near the turquoise waters of Karakul, a lake in the far western region of Xinjiang. Further south, towards the border with Pakistan, the imposing walls of a ruined hilltop fort at Tashkurgan mark a stop on the ancient Silk Road (see map). With such a rich landscape and history this region should be a magnet for Chinese tourists. Instead the area that accounts for more than one-sixth of China’s land mass is better known for violent unrest. The picturesque charms of the l...
FEW television dramas boast a plot as far-fetched as the one that has unfolded in North-East Asian geopolitics over the past two weeks. Days after North Korea tested a ballistic missile on February 12th, two women assassinated the half-brother of Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader, by throwing chemicals in his face at a Malaysian airport. The alleged killers said they were duped into taking part, believing the attack was a prank for a TV comedy. Malaysian police suspect that a North Korean dipl...