The “world’s factory” has long been patronized as a place of copying, rather than creativity. But in fact, since its founding, the People’s Republic has been driven by dreams of rapid modernization and innovation, with engineers turned politicians drafting policy at Zhongnanhai. Apps in China now operate at scales American entrepreneurs only dream of. Our China issue explores the situation on the ground, from biometric surveillance of Muslims in Xinjiang to the new global map that Chinese tech is drawing.
You can find the table of contents and excerpts below.
"Code Red" by The Editors (full piece)
The Chinese internet is coming for you. Or so we often hear.
“A Brief History of the Chinese Internet” by Graham Webster
The internet has transformed China, but not in the ways that American observers expected.
“QR is King” by Jiang Chenxin
A report from the frontier of a cashless future.
“Leninism 2.0” by Nick Frisch
A genealogy of the Chinese Communist Party’s relationship to technology.
“The Chinese Burner” by Chen Qiufan (full piece)
A Chinese perspective on Burning Man.
Command and Control
"Finding a Voice" by Lü Pin (full piece)
How feminist voices were silenced on the Chinese internet.
“Ghost World” by Darren Byler (full piece)
The Uyghur lives that power China's new security tech.
“The Messy Truth About Social Credit” by Shazeda Ahmed (full piece)
Separating the fact from the fiction of China’s social credit system.
“Pepe the Sad Frog Coloring Book and Chinese Language Guide” by Fei Liu
A meme mutation has made Pepe the Frog into an online Chinese sensation.
“Bullet Time” by Christina Xu (full piece)
An inquiry into how young people are hanging out on the internet.
“Another Country” by Hatty Liu
A report on digital life beyond the megacity.
“Chinese Pastoral” by Pu Yan
What happens when town and country collide.
“Disappearing City” by Ting Guo
A meditation on sex, love, and commerce in Hong Kong.
“Crypto with Chinese Characteristics: Eric Meltzer on The New New Thing”
A conversation about the booming world of Chinese blockchain.
“Bubbles and Opportunities,” by Chuanwei Zou
An analysis from China’s leading cryptocurrency expert.
“Busker from an Alternate Future” by Jason Li and Susan Lin
Imagining the future with objects available today.
“Let There Be Light” by Chen Qiufan
An excerpt from the science-fiction novel Waste Tide.
“Uneven and Combined Development: Hao Jingfang on Building the Future”
A conversation about picturing different possibilities.
“Paper Animals: Ken Liu on Writing and Translating Science Fiction”
How do you make a world?