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 | In the West, China the villain is a narrative few dare to challenge

Vitriol heaped on the contrarians who point out the lack of evidence for claims of genocide in Xinjiang reflects how much the Biden administration’s approach to China resembles its predecessor’s.

Vitriol heaped on the contrarians who point out the lack of evidence for claims of genocide in Xinjiang reflects how much the Biden administration’s approach to China resembles its predecessor’s.

In the West, China the villain is a narrative few dare to challenge
27 Apr 2021 - 11:06AM
Opinion | Why the US should look to Jim Sasser as a model for its new ambassador to China

Sasser’s conduct during the siege of the US embassy in Beijing in 1999 shows toughness is not everything. Rahm Emanuel lacks the calm and R Nicholas Burns the verve and autonomy needed for the job.

Sasser’s conduct during the siege of the US embassy in Beijing in 1999 shows toughness is not everything. Rahm Emanuel lacks the calm and R Nicholas Burns the verve and autonomy needed for the job.

Why the US should look to Jim Sasser as a model for its new ambassador to China
13 Mar 2021 - 5:52AM
Opinion | Late to the space race, China is making strides with Chang’e 5 moon landing

China may be a late contender in the space race but the success of Chang’e 5 is an important milestone that moves it ever closer to building a base on the moon

China may be a late contender in the space race but the success of Chang’e 5 is an important milestone that moves it ever closer to building a base on the moon

Late to the space race, China is making strides with Chang’e 5 moon landing
28 Nov 2020 - 11:53AM
Opinion | Why a US senator’s attack on Chinese writer Liu Cixin and Netflix smacks of nationalistic double standards

US senators, including Marsha Blackburn, have called Netflix out on Liu Cixin’s comments on the Chinese government’s policies in Xinjiang. Yet Blackburn, a supporter of Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’, is no friend of Muslims in Xinjiang or anywhere else.

US senators, including Marsha Blackburn, have called Netflix out on Liu Cixin’s comments on the Chinese government’s policies in Xinjiang. Yet Blackburn, a supporter of Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’, is no friend of Muslims in Xinjiang or anywhere else.

Why a US senator’s attack on Chinese writer Liu Cixin and Netflix smacks of nationalistic double standards
30 Sep 2020 - 1:30AM
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.

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
23 Jul 2020 - 8:01PM
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.

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
16 Jul 2020 - 6:19AM
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.

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?
18 Apr 2020 - 1:49AM
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.

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?
5 Jan 2020 - 9:00AM
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.

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?
4 Dec 2019 - 7:17PM
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.

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
25 Jul 2019 - 5:22AM
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.

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
5 Mar 2019 - 9:07AM
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.

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
19 Mar 2018 - 5:31PM
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

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
20 Jul 2018 - 2:55PM
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.

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
26 Jun 2013 - 3:44AM
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.

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
17 Jun 2013 - 4:23AM
US whistleblower Edward Snowden finds haven in Hong Kong, but for how long?
11 Jun 2013 - 11:05AM
On the eve of their summit, China and US are playing to script
5 Jun 2013 - 10:06AM
Maverick Japanese mayor confuses prostitution with sex slavery
20 May 2013 - 1:52AM
Wind of change
10 May 2013 - 4:51AM
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.

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
25 Apr 2013 - 3:03AM
Till the day a million may gather in Tiananmen Square to remember
15 Apr 2013 - 5:01AM
Thaksin is busy talking, but is anyone listening?
2 Apr 2013 - 3:43AM
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.

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
11 Mar 2013 - 9:01AM
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.

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?
25 Feb 2013 - 2:52AM
Chuang Song-lieh
4 Apr 2003 - 12:00AM