How scared is China of Donald Trump’s return?

IF YOU WANT to get a sense of how China feels about the prospect of Donald Trump winning America’s presidential election, Chinese social media offers some revealing signals. In the last few weeks it has begun to boil over with fury and mockery. The prospect of American tariffs of over 60% on Chinese imports? “Add even more,” rages one online commentator in the mainland. “I’d be curious to see how ordinary Americans would live.” Others think he would increase the odds of a war. The world will “never be at…

Hong Kong is struggling to restore its image as a global city

As China has struggled with reopening to the world, so too has Hong Kong. The former British colony has long branded itself “Asia’s world city”, a more international place than the mainland. But on top of the pandemic, a sweeping national-security law enacted in 2020 has crushed dissent and spooked foreigners. Some 34m tourists still visited last year, but that was only 57% of pre-pandemic numbers. Hong Kong officials had hoped that holding some big events might help. To that end, they offered HK$16m ($2m) to help fund an exhibition…

China is trying to boost domestic tourism

Listen to this story.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android. Your browser does not support the <audio> element. Surfing is harder than Huang Shimin had expected. Alongside a bunch of other wet-suited novices, she is trying it out on the golden sands of Hainan, a tropical island roughly the size of Taiwan, off China’s southernmost tip. The young professional from Shanghai is exactly the kind of high-spending tourist that China’s government hopes will holiday within China now the pandemic is over. The lunar-new-year break, which began on February…

How China stifles dissent without a KGB or Stasi of its own

Listen to this story.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android. Your browser does not support the <audio> element. Much thought has gone into making the Beijing Police Museum a family-friendly attraction. Housed in a classical mansion near Tiananmen Square, the museum is big on crime-fighting heroics. Glass cases show guns used by Chinese police. A model of a police dog sports a bullet-proof vest, commando-style helmet and protective boots on its paws. During the lunar-new-year holidays, a recent weekday found parents and children admiring displays about police helicopters,…

Xi Jinping’s paranoia is making China isolated and insular

“NIhao, china” is the name of the country’s latest effort to attract foreign visitors. The logo accompanying the phrase (which means “hello, China”) features a panda—an image always handy when China wants to seem cuddly. Chinese officials have been touring the West to promote the campaign, helped by a video in which happy-looking foreigners intone the Chinese greeting. Those with a deeper grasp of the language might sense a different mood, including billboards on city streets warning people to look out for foreign spies, and government propaganda on social media…

Protests are soaring, as China’s workers demand their wages

“Whether you’ve got money or not, do go home for lunar new year.” So goes a sentimental Chinese pop song. This year’s Spring Festival, as the occasion is also known, begins on February 10th. In recent weeks millions of China’s migrant workers, who spend most of the year toiling in cities, have been travelling back to their villages to celebrate with their families. Some are returning with hard-earned cash, which they might stuff into red envelopes (per tradition) and give to their children. Others, though, are coming home empty-handed—not because…

An espionage case hurts Chinese relations with Australia

In November Anthony Albanese, Australia’s prime minister, met Xi Jinping, China’s leader, in Beijing. Mr Xi declared that China and Australia had “embarked on the right path of improving relations” after years of estrangement. Just over two months later that path has a big pothole. On February 5th Yang Hengjun, an Australian citizen (pictured), was given a suspended death sentence by a Chinese court, after facing charges of espionage. Mr Yang’s story is murky. Born in China, he may once have had ties to the country’s foreign or security ministries,…

Xi Jinping’s chaos-loving friends

Listen to this story.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android. Your browser does not support the <audio> element. TURMOIL FASCINATED Mao Zedong, a revolutionary who enthused that when “there is great chaos under heaven, the situation is excellent”. Today China is the indispensable patron of regimes with a Maoist relish for disorder and for terrorising neighbours, including Iran, North Korea and Russia. Without China as a trading partner and diplomatic defender—notably at the UN, when sanctions are on the agenda—those troublemakers would pay a higher price for their…

Can consumers rescue China’s economy?

MOST EMERGING economies struggle to live within their means; China struggles to live up to them. Even in the best of times, the combined spending of its households, firms and government is not enough to buy all that it can produce, leaving a surplus that must be exported: the country has run a trade surplus for 34 of the past 40 years. And these are not the best of times. China is enduring its longest spell of deflation since the Asian crisis over a quarter-century ago. An epic stockmarket rout…

Watching “The Shawshank Redemption” on stage in China

IS HOPE A dangerous thing in China? Theatregoers in Beijing have been mulling that question, with two new stage adaptations exploring themes of injustice, freedom and renewal. “The Shawshank Redemption” (pictured) is set in mid-20th-century America, while “Les Misérables” takes place in 19th-century France. Both feature characters who are unjustly imprisoned and suffer under cruel jailers and corrupt systems. The plays, performed in Mandarin, might seem a bit too on the nose for Chinese censors. After all, the Communist Party has been known to play the role of cruel jailer…