Philip J. Cunningham

Philip J. Cunningham

Philip J. Cunningham has been a regular visitor to China since 1983, working variously as a tour guide, TV producer, freelance writer, independent scholar and teacher. He has conducted media research in China as a Knight Fellow and Fulbright Scholar and was the recipient of a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard. He is the author of Tiananmen Moon, a first-hand account of the 1989 protests in Beijing.

Latest from Philip J. Cunningham

Opinion | Closure of China’s Houston consulate shows danger of desperate US behaviour

Given the sharp decline in US-China diplomacy, the positive energy of the relationship’s early days has been replaced by petty bickering and recriminations. The brazen disrespect of science and international law by the Trump administration is akin to insisting American exceptionalism be respected at the risk of endangering public health.

23 Jul 2020 - 8:01PM

Given the sharp decline in US-China diplomacy, the positive energy of the relationship’s early days has been replaced by petty bickering and recriminations. The brazen disrespect of science and international law by the Trump administration is akin to insisting American exceptionalism be respected at the risk of endangering public health.

Closure of China’s Houston consulate shows danger of desperate US behaviour
Opinion | Trump’s student visa rules have been rescinded, but the damage is done

Cultural exchange has long been a core element of US diplomacy, and the business of educating the world is big business. The ill-conceived policy ploy to deport students, though reversed, still puts a serious dent in the US’ reputation as a desirable place to study.

16 Jul 2020 - 6:19AM

Cultural exchange has long been a core element of US diplomacy, and the business of educating the world is big business. The ill-conceived policy ploy to deport students, though reversed, still puts a serious dent in the US’ reputation as a desirable place to study.

Trump’s student visa rules have been rescinded, but the damage is done
Opinion | Does brash, rash Zhao Lijian really speak for the Chinese government?

China’s old-school diplomats are being drowned out by new voices like the Foreign Ministry spokesman. Mixed messaging is, of course, part of the diplomatic toolkit, but given the stakes in US-China relations, some tact and prudence would go a long way.

18 Apr 2020 - 1:49AM

China’s old-school diplomats are being drowned out by new voices like the Foreign Ministry spokesman. Mixed messaging is, of course, part of the diplomatic toolkit, but given the stakes in US-China relations, some tact and prudence would go a long way.

Does brash, rash Zhao Lijian really speak for the Chinese government?
Opinion | Carlos Ghosn fled Japan’s legal system. Is Canada’s star prisoner, Meng Wanzhou, taking notes?

There are parallels between Ghosn’s and Meng’s cases. Both were business leaders detained at an airport and placed under house arrest. The charges against both seem politically motivated. But one of them is more likely to get a fair trial.

5 Jan 2020 - 9:00AM

There are parallels between Ghosn’s and Meng’s cases. Both were business leaders detained at an airport and placed under house arrest. The charges against both seem politically motivated. But one of them is more likely to get a fair trial.

Carlos Ghosn fled Japan’s legal system. Is Canada’s star prisoner, Meng Wanzhou, taking notes?
Opinion | Hong Kong protest paradox: can a democracy movement backed by bigotry and vigilantism succeed?

The humour and humility evident in protest art is sorely lacking in the vigilantes at the forefront of street violence. Protest supporters who brush aside the violence are doing the movement no favours.

4 Dec 2019 - 7:17PM

The humour and humility evident in protest art is sorely lacking in the vigilantes at the forefront of street violence. Protest supporters who brush aside the violence are doing the movement no favours.

Hong Kong protest paradox: can a democracy movement backed by bigotry and vigilantism succeed?
Opinion | Li Peng wasn’t the butcher of Tiananmen, just the man who took the fall for Deng Xiaoping

Li’s arrogance made him easy to hate in 1989, but he was picked on because his boss Deng Xiaoping had a no-nonsense manner that intimidated even rebels.

25 Jul 2019 - 5:22AM

Li’s arrogance made him easy to hate in 1989, but he was picked on because his boss Deng Xiaoping had a no-nonsense manner that intimidated even rebels.

Li Peng wasn’t the butcher of Tiananmen, just the man who took the fall for Deng Xiaoping
Opinion | The Trump-Kim summit failed, but Kim Jong-un’s China train trek taught us the truth about Beijing’s role

When Kim, surrounded by lavish praise and rapt attention, took care to avoid dropping cigarette ash or a match on his host’s’ land, it was a reminder that China’s place atop the hierarchy of communist East Asia is as strong as ever.

5 Mar 2019 - 9:07AM

When Kim, surrounded by lavish praise and rapt attention, took care to avoid dropping cigarette ash or a match on his host’s’ land, it was a reminder that China’s place atop the hierarchy of communist East Asia is as strong as ever.

The Trump-Kim summit failed, but Kim Jong-un’s China train trek taught us the truth about Beijing’s role
Beijing’s ban on gatherings of foreigners in restaurants raises eyebrows, and questions

Beijing’s ban on foreigners congregating in restaurants may be rooted in the fear that they could be a terrorist target, but clampdowns based on racial differences come across as intolerant.

19 Mar 2018 - 5:31PM

Beijing’s ban on foreigners congregating in restaurants may be rooted in the fear that they could be a terrorist target, but clampdowns based on racial differences come across as intolerant.

Beijing’s ban on gatherings of foreigners in restaurants raises eyebrows, and questions
Tiananmen was a tragedy Beijing won’t face up to, regardless of death toll

Whether or not 10,000 is an accurate account of the number killed at the Tiananmen uprising, we know the crackdown was horrific and that Beijing won’t give a clear account

20 Jul 2018 - 2:55PM

Whether or not 10,000 is an accurate account of the number killed at the Tiananmen uprising, we know the crackdown was horrific and that Beijing won’t give a clear account

Tiananmen was a tragedy Beijing won’t face up to, regardless of death toll
Living with the snoops in China

Part of the folklore of being a foreign student in China in the 1980s was that Big Brother was watching, all the time. Very few people had first-hand knowledge, fewer even had proof, but the discomfort, if not fear, was pervasive.

26 Jun 2013 - 3:44AM

Part of the folklore of being a foreign student in China in the 1980s was that Big Brother was watching, all the time. Very few people had first-hand knowledge, fewer even had proof, but the discomfort, if not fear, was pervasive.

Living with the snoops in China
The US security state laid bare

Sales of George Orwell's works are said to be enjoying a small boom ever since the National Security Agency spy story broke, suggesting that, in confusing times, people still find solace in aphorisms and essays, fiction and fantasy, seeking to get a better grip on the uncharted and unclear dangers of the present.

17 Jun 2013 - 4:23AM

Sales of George Orwell's works are said to be enjoying a small boom ever since the National Security Agency spy story broke, suggesting that, in confusing times, people still find solace in aphorisms and essays, fiction and fantasy, seeking to get a better grip on the uncharted and unclear dangers of the present.

The US security state laid bare
US whistleblower Edward Snowden finds haven in Hong Kong, but for how long?
On the eve of their summit, China and US are playing to script
Maverick Japanese mayor confuses prostitution with sex slavery
Wind of change
10 May 2013 - 4:51AM
Wind of change
Beware the overzealous response to acts of terrorism

To follow the drama of the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombers online through Twitter, Reddit, television news, police scanners and newspaper updates was to be inundated with an abundance of almost real-time information. Anyone with a computer and internet access could get a virtual view of events, blow by blow, and connect the dots, rightly or wrongly, along the way. To follow the tweets of Watertown eyewitnesses, in particular, was to be thrust into a front-row seat of a real-life movie of guns popping in the dark and bodies falling, police cars racing and bystanders mistakenly apprehended.

25 Apr 2013 - 3:03AM

To follow the drama of the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombers online through Twitter, Reddit, television news, police scanners and newspaper updates was to be inundated with an abundance of almost real-time information. Anyone with a computer and internet access could get a virtual view of events, blow by blow, and connect the dots, rightly or wrongly, along the way. To follow the tweets of Watertown eyewitnesses, in particular, was to be thrust into a front-row seat of a real-life movie of guns popping in the dark and bodies falling, police cars racing and bystanders mistakenly apprehended.

Beware the overzealous response to acts of terrorism
Till the day a million may gather in Tiananmen Square to remember
Thaksin is busy talking, but is anyone listening?
Japan's fault lines still a worry, two years after quake

Japan is in a cold burn now; cool on the exterior, simmering underneath. It's obvious in a geological sense; Japan sits above an unstable hot zone, but it's also a metaphor for a seemingly stable but deeply volatile and incendiary political system.

11 Mar 2013 - 9:01AM

Japan is in a cold burn now; cool on the exterior, simmering underneath. It's obvious in a geological sense; Japan sits above an unstable hot zone, but it's also a metaphor for a seemingly stable but deeply volatile and incendiary political system.

Japan's fault lines still a worry, two years after quake
How far will China's crackdown on corruption go?

Incoming leader Xi Jinping has signalled that he wants to cut back on banquets, but it's too soon to say whether this means the Communist Party's anti-corruption campaign is for real, or is being used to manage public opinion.

25 Feb 2013 - 2:52AM

Incoming leader Xi Jinping has signalled that he wants to cut back on banquets, but it's too soon to say whether this means the Communist Party's anti-corruption campaign is for real, or is being used to manage public opinion.

How far will China's crackdown on corruption go?
Chuang Song-lieh
4 Apr 2003 - 12:00AM
Chuang Song-lieh
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