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Frank Ching
Frank Ching is a Hong Kong-based writer who has covered developments in China for several decades. He opened The Wall Street Journal’s Bureau in Beijing after the U.S. and China established diplomatic relations in 1979, becoming one of the first American reporters to be based in China since 1949.
For Frank Ching's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
COMMENTARY
Oct 4, 2004
CCP eyes reforms while sustaining Hu
HONG KONG -- A key policy document endorsed by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party at the same time that it approved Hu Jintao as Jiang Zemin's successor as the country's top leader calls for urgent steps to enhance the party's ability to govern while outlining a cautious strategy of gradual and moderate reforms.
COMMENTARY
Sep 26, 2004
Curtain falls on China's 'strongman' era
HONG KONG -- The decision by 78-year-old former President Jiang Zemin to step down as head of the Chinese Communist Party's Central Military Commission in favor of 61-year-old Hu Jintao, his successor as party and state leader, is a milestone in China's political development, marking as it does the completion of the first peaceful political transition in the 55-year history of the People's Republic of China. But now the hard work begins.
COMMENTARY
Sep 19, 2004
Removing the thorn from Japan-China ties
HONG KONG -- Last month, when Japanese and Chinese teams faced each other in the Asian Games soccer final in Beijing, Chinese fans booed so loudly that they drowned out the strains of the Japanese national anthem. And when Japan won, the spectators pelted the Japanese players' bus with soda bottles and broke the window of a car carrying a Japanese diplomat.
COMMENTARY
Sep 4, 2004
China favored in cross-strait tug-of-war
HONG KONG -- When Singapore's then Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visited Taiwan in July on what was described as a "private and unofficial" trip, China reacted angrily. Among other things, it canceled a visit by its top banker to Singapore and warned darkly of "grave consequences" for which "the Singapore side should take full responsibility."
COMMENTARY
Aug 21, 2004
A lonely stand against the party machine
HONG KONG -- The extraordinary story of a county Communist Party secretary's lonely six-year battle against corruption in coastal Fujian Province, unveiled last week on the Web site of the official People's Daily newspaper, on one level marks a personal crusade.
COMMENTARY
Aug 7, 2004
Creating a more caring China
HONG KONG -- China under President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji astounded the world with its economic growth, reflected by a substantial increase in gross domestic product year after year. Yet the current leadership of President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao are making it clear that they have a somewhat different emphasis.
COMMENTARY
Jul 25, 2004
Gender imbalance exacting social costs
HONG KONG -- A quarter of a century ago, China decided to focus on economic development rather than Maoist class struggle. As part of that drive, it adopted a policy of limiting population growth with couples allowed to have only one child in the cities. Chinese officials say that as a result, 300 million births have been prevented. Without such a policy, China's population today would stand at 1.6 billion.
COMMENTARY
Jul 9, 2004
Hu's star will keep rising
HONG KONG -- Ever since Hu Jintao took over as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party in 2002 and assumed the presidency in 2003, there has been much speculation as to whether he really wields the powers of those offices or whether his predecessor, Jiang Zemin, who remains head of the armed forces, is actually the power behind the throne.
COMMENTARY
Jun 27, 2004
Asian antiterror group finds its footing
HONG KONG -- Last week the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an international antiterrorist group formed by China, Russia and four Central Asian countries only months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, inaugurated a new antiterrorism center in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. The fledgling group held a summit meeting to mark the establishment of its organizational structure.
COMMENTARY
Jun 10, 2004
China woos influence with softer style
HONG KONG -- Publicly, American officials such as Secretary of State Colin Powell are saying that relations with China are the best they have ever been. Privately, however, policymakers are not shy about admitting that the two countries are engaged in a diplomatic contest in many arenas, most notably in Southeast Asia.
COMMENTARY
May 31, 2004
Taiwan-China gap can still be bridged
HONG KONG -- The conciliatory inaugural address May 20 by Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian, taken together with a major statement a few days earlier by Beijing, show that both Taiwan and mainland China are eager to avoid a confrontation. It is now conceivable that, given good will and flexibility on both sides, they may be able to edge away from a confrontation.
COMMENTARY
May 15, 2004
Has President Chen learned his lesson?
HONG KONG -- Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian, who narrowly won a disputed election in March, is without doubt the Bush administration's least favorite democratically elected leader.
COMMENTARY
May 2, 2004
Taiwan Strait status quo grows riskier
HONG KONG -- The Shanghai Communique, signed by U.S. President Richard Nixon and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai in 1972, asserted: "The United States acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China. The United States Government does not challenge that position."
COMMENTARY
Apr 20, 2004
Hong Kong protesters roll up their sleeves
HONG KONG -- The April 11 protest against Beijing's decision to interpret the Basic Law's provisions in a way that makes it impossible for the Special Administrative Region, or SAR, to initiate moves toward universal suffrage marks the first large protest against the central government since the handover almost seven years ago. It will not be the last.
COMMENTARY
Mar 18, 2004
China adds protections to Constitution
HONG KONG -- The 2004 session of China's National People's Congress closed Sunday with the passage of several constitutional amendments. Attention focused on those relating to human rights and the protection of private property.
COMMENTARY
Mar 4, 2004
China shines as host at arduous standoff
HONG KONG -- The second round of the six-party talks in Beijing on North Korea's nuclear weapons program went off relatively well even though there was no breakthrough. While the United States and North Korea may not agree on much, both agreed that China had done an excellent job as host and mediator.
COMMENTARY
Feb 27, 2004
Watershed for Hong Kong-Beijing ties
HONG KONG -- The relationship between Hong Kong and Beijing is at a critical point, with the central government having cautioned the special administrative region not to rush headlong into democracy while local people fear that their democratic aspirations may be frustrated.
COMMENTARY
Feb 12, 2004
China creeps toward a culture of openness
HONG KONG -- Last month, in a small but significant move toward greater openness and transparency, China for the first time made available to the public a portion of materials from its diplomatic archives for the period between the founding of the People's Republic in 1949 and 1955.
COMMENTARY
Feb 2, 2004
Setbacks have Chen scrambling for win
HONG KONG -- Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian has encountered unexpected setbacks in recent weeks that have slowed down his re-election campaign even though, at this point, the race between him and Kuomintang chairman Lien Chan is still neck and neck.
COMMENTARY
Jan 15, 2004
China more open, at least on medical front
HONG KONG -- Last year, after China was caught suppressing information about the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, it dismissed the minister of health and the mayor of Beijing and dramatically opened its health-care system up to international scrutiny. There was much hope then that the disease would usher in a new era of governmental openness.

Longform

Historically, kabuki was considered the entertainment of the merchant and peasant classes, a far cry from how it is regarded today.
For Japan's oldest kabuki theater, the show must go on