Melinda Liu

Stories by Melinda Liu

  • A Culture Rethinks Psychology

    The last time that China suffered a natural disaster approaching the magnitude of the recent earthquake in Sichuan, its Maoist leaders considered psychology a "bourgeois" discipline. Survivors of the 1976 Tangshan quake, which killed at least 255,000 people, were left to cope on their own with posttraumatic stress disorder. On May 12, however, for the first time in its history, China's Communist Party leaders ordered a large-scale mobilization of mental-health workers alongside disaster-relief personnel. The need is great: the calamity killed as many as 80,000, created at least 5,500 orphans and left 5 million homeless. According to one local news report, 600,000 residents may need psychological assistance.Help was available for 15-year-old Xiang Li, who along with 900 schoolmates was in class when the Juyuan Middle School collapsed. Pinned for three hours in the rubble, Xiang kept shouting encouragement to her friends. Out of her class of 66, she was among only 25 to survive. "I...
  • Winds of Change

    Cyclone Nargis may have done more than just wreck Burma's cities. It may also spell doom for the government.
  • Burma Cyclone: Exile Describes Victims' Anger

    A leading Burmese exile discusses the junta's slow response to cyclone relief and why many see the cyclone as divine intervention against their despotic leaders.
  • China Feels the Heat

    The Games are a test of its superpower status. Beijing may be flunking.
  • China’s Dangerous Game

    As rulers successfully crush sympathy for Tibet at home, they stir it worldwide.
  • A Race Fight Roils China

    With Tibet in turmoil and the 2008 Olympics looming, Beijing is trying to repair its international image. The strategy is a familiar one: control the story. China's state-run Xinhua news agency has packaged official FAQs on the Tibet unrest, while its CCTV released a 15-minute video of "the [March 14] beating, smashing, looting and burning incident." Domestic media paint a graphic scene of Lhasa bloodshed—the blood of ethnic Chinese, that is. Rioters, they report, killed an 8-month-old baby, sliced off a woman's ear and fatally trapped five saleswomen inside a burning store. Chinese TV showed shopkeepers grieving for the dead. "[Tibetans] don't want to work," said one Chinese woman. "They just want to destroy our prosperity."To justify its crackdown, which according to Tibetan rights groups has claimed some 140 lives altogether, China has portrayed the turmoil as a plot led by the exiled Dalai Lama to foment racist attacks against Han Chinese. This portrayal has triggered anti...
  • The Next Saffron Revolution

    The Dalai Lama wants to talk peace, but the anger of his long-suffering people is only hardening.
  • Interview: The Dalai Lama on Tibet

    In an exclusive interview, the Dalai Lama talks to NEWSWEEK about the violence in Tibet, his vision of the future—and how he manages to sleep in spite of his distress over the killings.
  • More Bloodshed in Tibet

    As police clashed with Tibetan protesters in Lhasa last week, shops were set on fire, vehicles overturned, ethnic Chinese attacked and crowds turned back by tear gas in the worst civil unrest to seize the remote region in nearly two decades. Although reports are difficult to confirm, Western media estimates of the death toll ranged from two to as many as 20. As in 1989, the last time such violence racked Tibet, relatively modest protests against Chinese rule escalated into wider unrest after authorities cracked down with detentions and brute force. The apparent cause of the turmoil, once again, was the March 10 anniversary of a failed 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule.But there's another factor adding to the tension: Beijing will host the 2008 Olympics in less than five months. Obsessed with pulling off a picture-perfect Games, Chinese authorities seem rattled by even minor PR setbacks. After the singer Björk shouted "Tibet! Tibet!" during a recent concert in Shanghai,...
  • Liu: U.S. Music in Pyongyang

    Can a spectacularly successful U.S. concert in North Korea be a catalyst for the normalization of Washington-Pyongyang ties?
  • Sex, Lies And Family Planning

    Even in the west, the scandal would be juicy. During a Dec. 28 gala launch in Beijing for the Chinese state-run TV network's Olympics coverage, newscaster Hu Ziwei seized the microphone from her husband, celebrity sports anchor Zhang Bin, and publicly denounced him for an alleged affair. The video clip wound up on YouTube, and Chinese blogs exploded with gossip, naming yet another TV personality as Zhang's mistress and the mother of his illegitimate child. But the bloggers further alleged that Zhang's wife was also pregnant at the time of her outburst—and that makes the scandal doubly controversial. If true—and Zhang would not confirm or deny the rumor—it makes him one of a number of wealthy Chinese officials, entrepreneurs and celebrities who have flouted the country's family-planning regulations barring most urban couples from having more than a single child. Breaking that ban can result in penalties of up to $100,000, which most Chinese citizens can't afford. But the country's...
  • Mao to Now

    China is thousands of years old but has been made anew in the last three decades, and my family with it.
  • In This Life, Or The Next

    Autocrats worry about Buddha power. In much of Southeast Asia, monks occupy the loftiest of moral high ground. According to the Buddhist concept of reincarnation, misdeeds in past lives affect problems in the current one. Do something bad in this life and you'll probably come back as a "sentient being" in your next one—but not necessarily a human. During Burma's bloody crackdown in September, some soldiers tried to "defrock" monks prior to detaining them, in a bid to soften their own karmic crimes. In 1988, I saw a Burmese soldier trying to give alms to Buddhist monks, who refused him by turning their begging bowls upside down. The guy seemed upset. He didn't want to be reincarnated as a toad, I suppose.Authorities in Beijing, who've been criticized for supporting the Burmese junta, have reason to be queasy about monk-led protests both at home and abroad. Opposition to the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1951 erupted first in Buddhist monasteries. Resentment still simmers. On Nov. 19...
  • A Princeling of the People

    China's new heir apparent is a surprise pick, suggesting that 'intraparty democracy' is no joke.
  • A ‘Modern’ Boss Rises In Beijing

    Henry Paulson, U.S. Treasury secretary, once called Xi Jinping "the kind of guy who gets things over the goal line." This month Xi scored the goal of his career. He has emerged as the favorite to become China's most powerful man, startling many analysts. For years they'd assumed Communist Party boss Hu Jintao was grooming prot?g? Li Keqiang to take over once he retired. But when the party reshuffled its personnel deck during its mid-October congress, last-minute horse trading among competing factions was intense. Hu got his satisfaction with Li's appointment to the party's nine-man leadership committee and the retirement of key rival Zeng Qinghong. But Hu had to relinquish something in return, so he signed off on Xi, 54, joining the party's top lineup in a rank above Li. If all goes according to script, Xi will become party chief in 2012, while Li will succeed Prime Minister Wen Jiabao—and in Chinese politics, the party boss outranks the prime minister.Xi's candidacy got a boost...
  • China’s Olympic PR Blitz

    Activists are using the Olympics to press China to reform. Now Beijing unleashes its own PR blitz.
  • China Lets Loose

    China's stock markets are smoking, and smart money is flooding into the country; last year foreign direct investment reached nearly $70 billion. Add to that a 2006 trade surplus of $177.5 billion, up 74 percent from the year before, and a tidal wave of hot money (or short-term speculative investments). Together, this ocean of cash has produced enormous reserves of foreign exchange within China--more than $1 trillion, a fat target for critics who say China's voracious appetites threaten the world economy.Until recently, largely all that money was stuck in the Middle Kingdom. For decades, communist China didn't allow money to go abroad, because it had so little at home. Once it opened up in the early 1980s, China was afraid volatile capital flows would turn its accelerating economic growth into a wild roller-coaster ride. And when Beijing saw capital flight undermine neighboring economies during the Asian financial crisis of 1997, it came to believe even more strongly in controlling...