Richard Bernstein was Time’s bureau chief in China and a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. His most recent book is China 1945: Mao’s Revolution and America’s Fateful Choice.

 (November 2014)


China: The People’s Fury

A protester chants slogans against the United States supporting an international court ruling that denied China's claims to the South China Sea, outside US Consulate in Hong Kong, China, July 14, 2016

It is clear that neither China’s leadership nor the censorship apparatus have shown much interest in allowing an honest accounting of the South China Sea case. China may be too locked into a nationalism of grievance and its cult of national humiliation to allow for any public compromise, and this would make any settlement of the disputes that bedevil the country’s relations with its neighbors and with the United States all the more difficult.


Thailand: Beautiful and Bitterly Divided

A Red Shirt supporter holding pictures of Thailand’s ousted prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, at a rally in Bangkok, November 2013
Thailand has long had the image of a benign, stable country, which is a chief reason it has long been seen, at least by Americans, as a great hope for the future in Southeast Asia. But for the past eight years, it has been in the grip of an extraordinary political crisis, pitting two intransigent mass movements, known as Red Shirts and Yellow Shirts, against one another, each ready to take to the streets whenever it feels that the other has gained the upper hand.

The Insoluble Question

A scene from Rithy Panh’s film S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine showing the painter Vann Nath, one of the survivors of the Tuol Sleng prison

The Elimination: A Survivor of the Khmer Rouge Confronts His Past and the Commandant of the Killing Fields

by Rithy Panh with Christophe Bataille, translated from the French by John Cullen

S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine

a film by Rithy Panh
Sometime early in the reign of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979, Rithy Panh, who was thirteen years old, was digging a ditch on one of the regime’s brutal collective farms when he hit his foot with a pick-ax. His wound didn’t seem very serious at first, …

The Chinese Are Coming!

A ceremony in Sichuan Province, China, sending off an engineer battalion of the People’s Liberation Army on a peacekeeping mission to Lebanon, January 2011

A Contest for Supremacy: China, America, and the Struggle for Mastery in Asia

by Aaron L. Friedberg
The day after the Russian parliamentary elections in early December, the Chinese publication Global Times, an English-language newspaper and website managed by People’s Daily, the official organ of the Communist Party official, ran an editorial on how little credit the West gave to Vladimir Putin’s Russia for becoming a democratic …

A Very Superior ‘Chinaman’

Warner Oland as Charlie Chan in Charlie Chan at the Race Track, 1936

Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History

by Yunte Huang
Charlie Chan, the fictitious Chinese-American detective from Hawaii, makes his first appearance in the movie Charlie Chan in Egypt (1935) looking out the window of an airplane while flying over the Pyramids and the Sphinx. We next see him, looking awkward and unhappy, on a donkey, which takes him to …


Should the Chinese Government Be in American Classrooms?

Students from a Confucius Institute in the US visiting the Confucius Temple in Qufu, China, April 17, 2013

While the rapid spread of Confucius Institutes in the US has been impressive, in recent years their unusual reach in the American higher education system has become increasingly controversial: these institutes are an official agency of the Chinese government, which provides a major share, sometimes virtually all, of the funds needed to run them. The National Association of Scholars, a conservative group whose members are mostly American university professors, has recently issued the most complete report on the CIs to date; they recommend that the institutions either be closed or reformed.

Nail Salons: A Reply to the ‘Times’

On July 25, the NYR Daily published a post by Richard Bernstein on the first part of a New York Times investigation into workplace conditions at New York City nail salons, which Bernstein argued was a “misleading depiction of the nail salon business as a whole.” The editors of the Times have published a letter responding to Bernstein’s post. Richard Bernstein replies here.

What the ‘Times’ Got Wrong About Nail Salons

A nail salon on New York's Upper West Side, November 3, 2014

As a former New York Times journalist who also has been, for the last twelve years, a part owner of two day-spas in Manhattan, I read the Times’s recent exposé of the nail salon industry with particular interest. But it was troubling to discover that many of the story’s claims and sources, on which sweeping conclusions were based, were flimsy and sometimes wholly inaccurate.

From China to Jihad?

A Uighur man watching a convoy of Chinese paramilitaries in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, May 23, 2014

Among the many stories concerning foreigners setting out to fight in Syria, the allegations about Chinese Uighurs arrested in Thailand—many of them women and children—stand out. They have triggered a quiet tug of war between China, which is pressuring Thailand to send them back, and the West, which has argued that deporting them would expose them to savage mistreatment.