Did our cover catch your eye? The image is by Chen Man, a 32-year-old Beijing visual artist whose work has been featured in museum and gallery exhibitions around the world, as well as in leading fashion magazines. She infuses her images with Chinese backgrounds and faces, and strives to bridge both East and West and tradition and modernity. “China should not repeat its ancient art over and over again,” she explains. “I would like to show how contemporary Chinese art can be.” The cover depicts Chinese fashion model Du Juan striking a pose in Shanghai. The image projects a bold, modern vision for the People’s Republic of China—an apt curtain raiser, we think, to our Special Report on China.
Our lead essay is by Cheng Li, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who looks behind the scenes of the 18th Party Congress of the Communist Party and examines how new Chinese leader Xi Jinping will use his mandate. Ying Zhu, a professor of media culture at the City University of New York, profiles China Central Television, a modern media empire that is going global. Joan Johnson-Freese, a scholar at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, RI, reports on yet another remarkable achievement—China’s space program. Ngo Vinh Long, a professor of history at the University of Maine, reviews the growing tensions over the South China Sea.
Orville Schell, one of America’s foremost experts on China, observed that when he first arrived in Beijing in 1975, the then-isolated country had no fashion magazines (and certainly no internationally acclaimed visual artists like Chen Man). Schell is about to publish his tenth book on the country he has closely studied for five decades: Wealth and Power: China’s Long March to the Twenty-First Century. He met in New York for a discussion about China’s “next act” with Dorinda Elliott, who as a Newsweek correspondent (and a fluent Chinese speaker) lived in Asia for fifteen years and reported on everything from China’s economic rise and the 1989 student movement to the Hong Kong handover to Chinese sovereignty. It’s a fascinating Cairo Review Interview.