Ian Johnson, The New York Times

Ian Johnson

The New York Times

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  • The New York Times
  • NY Review of Books
  • ChinaFile
  • The Atlantic
  • The Guardian

Past articles by Ian:

Opinion | Mr. Biden, Enough With the Tough Talk on China

Modest measures can reverse the dangerous decay in relations. → Read More

Pandemic Journal

The latest edition in a running series of dispatches by New York Review writers documenting the coronavirus outbreak with updates from around the world, including Carl Elliott in Auckland, Liza Batkin in Rhinebeck, Tim Flannery in Sydney, Ian Johnson in Beijing and London, and more. → Read More

‘Everyone Is Isolated’: An Interview with Yuan Ling

Yuan Ling’s prose rarely criticizes the government explicitly, even as it vividly portrays social problems. → Read More

Coronavirus and the Panic Epidemic

The Chinese government is going all-out because it knows the people don’t entirely trust it. → Read More

Coronavirus and the Panic Epidemic

The Chinese government is going all-out because it knows the people don’t entirely trust it. → Read More

What Holds China Together?

It’s easy to put oneself in the minds of government propagandists and feel that things are going quite well in China. Yes, faraway Hong Kong is in crisis, with huge anti-government protests going on since March. But it was always going to be tough to absorb the former British colony; we’ll give them a bit more leeway but if necessary will crack down hard. And perhaps the distant territory of… → Read More

A Radical Realist View of Tibetan Buddhism at the Rubin

For many people in the West, Buddhism is completely divorced from its history. So many of the beliefs and rites have been stripped away that many Westerners regard it purely as a philosophy, rather than a religion. As well-intentioned as this version of Buddhism might be, it is also a fantasy that places its practice on a higher moral and spiritual plane and erects an unbridgeable distance… → Read More

China’s ‘Black Week-end’

When Chinese law professor Xu Zhangrun began publishing articles last year criticizing the government’s turn toward a harsher variety of authoritarianism, it seemed inevitable that he would be swiftly silenced. But then, remarkably, dozens of prominent citizens began speaking up. Some signed a petition, others wrote essays and poems in Xu’s support, and one wrote a song. To anyone familiar with… → Read More

‘One Seed Can Make an Impact’: An Interview with Chen Hongguo

Chen Hongguo might be China’s most famous ex-professor. Five years ago, he quit his job at the Northwest University of Politics and Law in Xi’an, publishing his resignation letter online after administrators prohibited him from inviting free-thinking lecturers to speak to his students. After resigning, he decided to keep bringing edgy speakers to this inland metropolis by launching Zhiwuzhi in… → Read More

A Specter Is Haunting Xi’s China: ‘Mr. Democracy’

Something strange is happening in Xi Jinping’s China. This is supposed to be the perfect dictatorship, the most sustained period of authoritarianism since the Cultural Revolution ended more than 40 years ago, a period of such damning disappointment that all but the regime’s most acquiescent apologists have become cynics or critics. And yet the past few months have also seen something potentially… → Read More

This Chinese Christian Was Charged With Trying to Subvert the State

Wang Yi has been held incommunicado since December, part of a government crackdown on independent religious groups. → Read More

Li Xueqin, Key Historian in China’s Embrace of Antiquity, Dies at 85

Mr. Li walked a fine line between scholarship and serving the Communist Party as he sought the truth about his country’s distant past. → Read More

‘It’s Hopeless But You Persist’: An Interview with Jiang Xue

Ian Johnson: Haven’t some people given up on civil society? Jiang Xue: It was our hope. Now, a lot of people have lost hope. The way society has developed under the Communist Party, it’s impossible to develop civil society. Public media has been killed. Public institutions have been closed. Teachers who dare to speak up have been driven off. It seems that civil society has no force. But I don’t… → Read More

‘My Responsibility to History’: An Interview with Zhang Shihe

“Tiger Temple” (Laohu Miao) is the nom de guerre of Zhang Shihe, one of China’s best-known citizen journalists and makers of short video documentaries, many of them profiling ordinary people he met during extraordinarily long bike rides through China, or human rights activists who have been silenced but whose ideas on freedom and open society he has recorded for future generations. Now 65 years… → Read More

Huang Qi, Online Dissident and Rights Advocate in China, Faces Trial

The case of the blogger behind the popular website 64 Tianwang has drawn intense international scrutiny, in part because he has a kidney disease. → Read More

Pastor Charged With ‘Inciting Subversion’ as China Cracks Down on Churches

Wang Yi, one of China’s best-known Protestant pastors, has been charged for “inciting subversion,” suggesting a serious crackdown on religious groups. → Read More

China and Vatican Reach Deal on Appointment of Bishops

For the first time, the pope accepted the legitimacy of bishops chosen by the Communist Chinese government. → Read More

‘Ruling Through Ritual’: An Interview with Guo Yuhua

Guo Yuhua is one of China’s best-known sociologists and most incisive government critics. A professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, she has devoted her career to researching human suffering in Chinese society, especially that of peasants, the promised beneficiaries of Communist rule. Born in 1956, Guo grew up in one of the “big courtyards” of government housing compounds for the country’s… → Read More

After-Shocks of the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake

The province of Sichuan is a microcosm of China. Its east is flat, prosperous, and densely settled by ethnic Chinese. Its mountainous west is populated by poorer minorities, but possesses resources that help make the east rich. → Read More

China Bans Online Bible Sales as It Tightens Religious Controls

The move aligns with a longstanding effort to limit the influence of Christianity in the country. → Read More