Key Articles

China’s stalled social mobility

In 2013, an anonymous story about the lives of some sixty interns at an unnamed bank in China, posted on the popular online forum Tianya, went viral on the Chinese Internet. The author, who claimed to work at the bank, highlighted the importance of family background and connections in determining a person’s fate. It wasn’t just that … more

What hinders the rise of Chinese culture?

The 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and China’s robust economy that year, despite the global financial crisis, made many Chinese citizens immensely proud of their country. They felt that China had regained the admiration of the world and resumed its rightful place as a global superpower. But such feelings are often undercut by worries about … more

A survey of common views on China’s economy in early 2014

Since the start of 2014, China’s economic situation and its prospects has been much discussed and debated in the Chinese-language media. Three factors have contributed to this focus on the economy: Xi Jinping’s strong leadership style and rapid centralisation of power since assuming the role of Party General Secretary in November 2012; the current administration’s economic … more

The future of bookstores – three Chinese perspectives

The digital revolution has had a profound effect on the practice of reading: tablets, e-readers, blogs, and multimedia channels have changed the way we read and our views of writing. As a result, traditional bookstores are under threat and booksellers are suffering. This change is not limited to the West: in China too, electronic writing … more

Recent Discussions of the One-Child Policy

Official attention to ‘family planning’ and population control can be traced back to 1955 when the government published its ‘Instructions on the issue of population control’ (关于控制人口问题的指示). The document states that ‘In the interests of the nation, families and future generations, the Party is in favor of taking appropriate measures for birth control’ (为了国家、家庭和新生代的利益,我们党是赞成适当地节制生育的). But … more

Considering the Third Plenum

Anticipation and the ‘383 Scheme’ Though the official opening date of the Third Plenary Session of the Eighteenth Central Committee of the Communist Party of China was not officially announced till the end of October, rumours about and expectations of the meeting and possible reforms that would be announced started much earlier. On 6 October, … more

China’s Luxury Fever and Curbing Official Ostentation

In 2012, China became the world’s largest consumer of luxury goods, overtaking Japan and the US. More striking is the rate of growth in this domain: consumption of luxury goods increased by a factor of sixty between 2000 and 2010. Compared to Europe and the US, Chinese consumers of luxury goods are younger and the … more

How Fares Chinese Academia? – Questioning the ‘University Spirit’ 大学精神

One of the abiding mythologies of contemporary China relates to the unique qualities of what is dubbed the ‘University Spirit’ 大学精神. Supposedly a modern refraction of the ancient traditions of learning, reading, scholarship and public service, the University Spirit is somehow inculcated in generations of Chinese youth to create an ethos of public engagement, good … more

Me Talk Pretty One Day: The Ethics of Public Debate

In an article dated 7 November 2012  on 1510, the independent online news website and journal that we feature in the Key Articles of Thinking China on this site, a blogger by the name of ‘Duyuan Jushi’ 独园居士 (literally, ‘the lay Buddhist of the Solitary Garden’) assembled essays by three prominent women writers and social critics: Rose Luqiu Luwei, Chai … more

Mo Yan’s 莫言 Nobel Win in Three Registers

When, on 11 October, the Swedish Academy announced that the 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature would go to Mo Yan 莫言, the reaction in the Chinese media was intense. After decades of waiting and years of stinging disappointment, Mainland China at long last had a Nobel Prize it could talk about in the open. The … more