Orville Schell is the former Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. He is currently the Arthur Ross Director of the Center on US–China Relations at the Asia Society in New York City, and the coauthor with John Delury of Wealth and Power: China’s Long March to the Twenty-First Century. (April 2016)

Crackdown in China: Worse and Worse

Xi Jinping’s enormously ambitious initiative to purge the Chinese Communist Party of what he calls “tigers and flies,” namely corrupt officials and businessmen both high and low, has already netted more than 160 “tigers” whose rank is above or equivalent to that of the deputy provincial or deputy ministerial level, and more than 1,400 “flies,” all lower-level officials. But it has also morphed from an anticorruption drive into a broader neo-Maoist-style mass purge aimed at political rivals and others with differing ideological or political views.

China Strikes Back!

Deng Xiaoping and Jimmy Carter at the White House with their wives after a gala at the Kennedy Center that was held in Deng’s honor, January 1979
Since 1979 enormous progress has been made both in China’s development and in institutionalizing bilateral relations with the US. But suspicion over motives and intentions still remains. Indeed, one could only conclude that the two countries have recently been moving further apart, which became evident even before Jimmy Carter arrived in Beijing this September.

The Message from the Glaciers

Mount Everest and the Main Rongbuk Glacier, Tibet Autonomous Region, China, 2007; photograph by David Breashears. For a view of the same landscape in 1921, see the following page. Both photographs will be in the exhibition ‘Rivers of Ice: Vanishing Glaciers of the Greater Himalaya,’ at the Asia Society Museum, New York City, July 13–August 15, 2010.
Many of the ancient civilizations of the world arose around Asia’s ten great rivers, which all find their source in the majestic arc of mountains that begins in Inner Asia and wraps itself around the Tibetan plateau to become the Himalayas before ending in southwest China. These mountains encompass the largest nonpolar ice mass in the world and since time immemorial have held water in frozen reserve for the people of Asia. But scientists are now warning that, because of global warming, nearly half of these glaciers could disappear by 2070, a catastrophic loss we are only beginning to understand.

China’s Boom: The Dark Side in Photos

Some of his arresting images show plumes of pitch black and garishly colored yellow and red smoke belching out of factory and power plant chimneys – almost all caused by the burning of soft coal. They are reminiscent of the eerie, unnatural images and colors that blink out of a television set when the tint controls are turned all the way to one side.

China: Humiliation & the Olympics

The Incident On a snowy winter day in 1991, Lu Gang, a slightly built Chinese scholar who had recently received his Ph.D. in plasma physics, walked into a seminar room at the University of Iowa’s Van Allen Hall, raised a snub-nose .38-caliber Taurus pistol, and killed Professor Christoph Goertz, his …

Baghdad: The Besieged Press

The small Royal Jordanian Fokker F-28-4000, which makes daily trips to Baghdad, sits out on the tarmac away from the jetways as if some airport official feared it might prove to be an airborne IED (improvised explosive device, a US military acronym). Those of us on this hajj to the …

The Jiang Zemin Mystery

Since the Chinese Communist Party leaders will not allow themselves to be criticized in the press or on television, critics have had to find other means to express their political grievances. Historically speaking, one of the most telling ways to make a protest known has been to bring it to …

Keeping the Faith

Introduction On June 4, the day after the People’s Liberation Army opened fire on the citizens of Beijing, the distinguished Chinese astrophysicist and dissident intellectual, Fang Lizhi, reluctantly sought refuge in the American embassy in Beijing with his physicist wife, Li Shuxian. They did so because they feared for their …

Letters from the Other China

Orville Schell During the student demonstrations that swept China toward the end of 1986, the brilliant astrophysicist Fang Lizhi, who was then vice-president of the University of Science and Technology, emerged, through his speeches to student groups, as the country’s most forceful advocate of democracy and human rights. The letters …

China’s Spring

To stand, in early May, atop the Gate of Heavenly Peace, which guards the entrance to the Forbidden City, and look across the vast crowd of people jammed into Tiananmen Square was to have a historically new sense of what Mao called “the broad masses.” It was to this ancient …