Foreigners At The Gates

As China grapples with rising nationalism and an influx of foreign residents, the country’s long and contradictory relationship with outsiders is coming to the fore—and it’s turning ugly.

Big Brother Beijing

For a media specialist, Guo Ke doesn’t watch much TV these days. The dean of the journalism school at Shanghai International Studies University is too worried about the impact of popular shows on his 12-year-old daughter.

China's Bizarre Energy-Saving Measures

Shortages of diesel at gas stations, factories forced to suspend production, homes left without electricity. Hard to imagine that these could be the results of a government campaign, but that’s recently been the case in some parts of China.

China's World Expo Goes for Quantity Over Quality

China’s Shanghai World Expo, which ended on Oct. 31, was certainly record-breaking. It clocked a staggering 73 million visitors, 9 million more than the previous record at Osaka in 1970. Whether the expo was successful was more questionable: the massive crowds—made up mostly of Chinese—spent an average of four hours (and up to nine) queuing for the most popular pavilions. There was widespread frustration, occasional fisticuffs, and even reports of able-bodied visitors swiping wheelchairs for priority access.

Jockeying Under Way for China’s Top Political Posts

As Beijing moves closer to a handover of power to a new generation of political leaders in 2012, jockeying for influence between rival factions is becoming more evident, with sometimes unexpected results. The annual meeting of the Communist Party Central Committee gave a major boost to current Vice President Xi Jinping’s chances of succeeding President Hu Jintao, by electing Xi deputy chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission.

The End of China's Cheap Labor?

As a wave of strikes at Honda and protests over worker suicides at Foxconn led the firms—two of China’s major foreign manufacturers—to offer workers significant pay raises, China watchers are wondering whether the country is facing the end of cheap labor.

Pursuing a Liberal Arts Education in China

Like many top students in Chinese high schools, Chen Yongfang dreamed of attending college in the United States. But unlike many of his classmates at Shanghai's Foreign Languages High School, Chen did not set his sights on Harvard, Yale, or any of the other Ivy League schools or big research universities long coveted by the Chinese. Instead he applied to Bowdoin College, a small, elite liberal-arts college in Maine. Chen received a full scholarship to study psychology, and he later added economics as a second major.Now in his senior year, Chen has become such a devotee of the liberal-arts approach that he's made it his mission to spread the word throughout China. He has coauthored a book called A True Liberal Arts Education, which essentially explains the little-known concept to Chinese students and their parents. "Most Chinese people only know about Harvard, Yale, and Princeton," he says over coffee in a Shanghai café during his winter vacation. Though there have been many books...

China's Fight Against AIDS Faces Uphill Battle

Officials in China, where the response to HIV has long been hampered by a reticence to discuss sexual matters in public, are finally getting real about AIDS. The Ministry of Health's announcement last month that "sexual transmission is now the main cause of new HIV cases" made headlines around the country and was underlined by new TV public-awareness ads repeating the message. The health minister broke another major taboo when he announced that almost one third of new infections were among male homosexuals. It's a big shift from the government's traditional attitude that HIV mainly affects drug users and people who sell blood at illegal "blood-collecting stations."Beijing's more enlightened outlook springs from a realization that HIV is increasingly threatening the mainstream population. The country registered 48,000 new cases over the past year, and official estimates put the number of people living with HIV at 740,000. And with surveys showing a 5 percent infection rate among...

High-Speed Trains Are Making China Smaller

For decades, rail travel in China meant an arduous overnighter in a crowded East German–designed train, riding along a rickety old track. Now China is undergoing a rail revolution. Over the next three years, the government will pour some $300 billion into its railways, expanding its network by 20,000 kilometers, including 13,000 kilometers of track designed for high-speed trains capable of traveling up to 350kph. Result: China, a nation long defined by the vastness of its geography, is getting, much, much smaller.Already, the journey from Beijing to Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi province, has been slashed from eight hours to three. Shortly before the Olympics last year, the 120km trip from Beijing to Tianjin was cut from almost an hour to just 27 minutes. In the next few years, a train journey from Wuhan to Guangzhou, halfway across the country, will shrink from 10 to three hours. The trip from Shanghai to Beijing, which currently clocks in at 10 grueling hours—and twice that, not...

China's Crisis in Vocational Training

When Pan Jianfeng, a Shanghai ad consultant, was recently asked to recommend young local designers to an international agency, he sent three candidates with years of work experience. But the company decided they weren't good enough and had to import designers from the West. It's a common problem, he says; Chinese vocational grads simply haven't had good enough teaching. "Most of the lecturers don't have any real work experience," he explains. "So they can't teach useful things." When graduates do get hired, he says, "they basically have to be re-educated."China's rapid economic expansion has exposed many frailties in its education system, especially on the vocational side. The country can't produce enough skilled workers. In part that's because it invests far more in academic than vocational programs. Though it has 1,300 vocational colleges and 14,000 high schools, these date to the days of the planned economy, with staff who are out of touch. And funding has fallen significantly...