Zhou Yongkang’s Hometown Rises To His Defense

China Digital Times - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 12:12

China’s leaders have “appeared remarkably tolerant” of journalists and “curiosity seekers” who “stalk” former Communist Party security chief Zhou Yongkang’s family members in his hometown of Xiqiantou as he increasingly seems to be the target of a widening corruption probe.  Yet Jonathan Ansfield reports for The New York Times that many villagers interviewed rose to defend  ”the eel fisherman’s boy who would become one of China’s most fearsome men”:

The bad publicity did not sit well with many villagers interviewed last month, particularly after the lone brother to spend his whole life here, Zhou Yuanxing, died of bone cancer in February. Most residents had rather vague notions of the family’s affairs, yet many were quick to dispute the news reports as distorted.

“Anyone who is bad-mouthing the family is just stepping on people now that they’re down,” said one man in his 80s who shares the surname Zhou but is not related. He and others refused to give their full names, citing fears of retaliation.

It is highly unusual to find the family of any Chinese leader so unshielded from public scrutiny, let alone one who once presided over the police and intelligence agencies. But current leaders have appeared remarkably tolerant of the journalists and curiosity seekers who stalk Mr. Zhou’s family as investigators build their case against him.

In Xiqiantou, officials and businesspeople were among the carloads of gawkers snapping photos of the Zhou houses and graves. Many villagers voiced exasperation over the commotion.

[...] Mr. Zhou was a self-made man with humble roots, villagers stressed, unlike the “princeling” children of revolutionary leaders, who include President Xi Jinping. “Zhou Yongkang was very honest,” said a man surnamed Shen, 69, whose brother attended school with Mr. Zhou. “He wasn’t a double-dealer.” [Source]

Read more about Zhou Yongkang via CDT.

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Documentary Explores Beijing’s Graffiti Culture

China Digital Times - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 12:10

Texan Lance Crayon, in China since 2009, has produced a documentary film exploring the tiny street art scene in China, where graffiti is surprisingly “safe” and “open.”  Aly Thibault at PRI’s The World reports:

 ”It’s really a middle class and up endeavor, simply based on the money factor,” he says, “For a 19-year-old or even a 25-year-old to have something known as disposable income, that’s a pretty new thing in China. And you’ve got to ask yourself, do I want to spend 500 kuài — which is roughly $82 — on throwing up a piece that could easily be covered in a few days, or at some point.”

This leaves Beijing with only a small number of graffiti artists — no more than 25 by Crayon’s estimate.

For his film “Spray Paint Beijing: Graffiti in the Capital of China,” Crayon interviewed several graffiti artists about their work and lifestlye and even filmed them while they tag. He says taggers in Beijing often work in broad daylight and don’t usually run into any trouble with police.

“As long as you stay away from anything political or anything too sensitive, from painting on temples or anything sacred and government buildings, things like that, you’re not going to have a problem,” Crayon says. “And that’s what they do. I mean there is so much concrete in Beijing, that when these guys paint on walls that aren’t designated by the government, the citizens think they are making this city look prettier — and indeed they are.” [Source]

Click here to view the embedded video.

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Photo: Rongjiang County, Guizhou Province, by Tsemdo Thar

China Digital Times - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 12:05


Rongjiang County, Guizhou Province

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Minitrue: VPN Sales and the Property-less

China Digital Times - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 08:18

The following censorship instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.

Online shops which openly sell VPN tools are kindly asked to remove them. (April 19, 2014)


Virtual private networks (VPNs) are used to circumvent the Great Firewall, giving the user full access to the Internet.

Delete the video “Who Turned Us into the Proletariat.” (April 21, 2014)


The video, a bubbly cartoon, explains how the real estate market is stacked against ordinary Chinese citizens. The opening sequence paints a rosy picture of land reform under the Republican government (1914), when even the esteemed writer Lu Xun bought a home. “And then,” the announcer says, “The Republic was gone” (民国木有了). Watch the video on Youtube [zh]:

CDT collects directives from a variety of sources and checks them against official Chinese media reports to confirm their implementation.

Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. The original publication date on CDT Chinese is noted after the directives; the date given may indicate when the directive was leaked, rather than when it was issued. CDT does its utmost to verify dates and wording, but also takes precautions to protect the source.


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Should China Just ‘Shut Up’ About Its Territorial Ambitions?

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 05:00
China’s territorial conflicts have indeed prompted negative coverage in the foreign press, but how much of that is due to anti-China bias and how much falls on the shoulders of Beijing itself?
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Chinese Shoemakers Are on Strike for Benefits — But Who Will Foot the Bill?

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 04:23
When workers at a major footwear factory in south China walked off the job earlier this month, demanding better social insurance benefits, they threatened to upend a cozy system.
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Chinese Director Fires Back at Oliver Stone

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 04:13
Chinese director Ning Hao hit back at American filmmaker Oliver Stone, who stirred controversy last week with comments bashing the Chinese film industry for failing to face up to its country’s history.
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Japan groups exposed to Chinese lawsuits

FT China Feed - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 03:39
China’s new openness to lawsuits brought by private individuals against Japanese companies comes as tension simmers between the two countries
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Lippi’s Guangzhou Evergrande on Edge in Asian Champions League

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 02:05
As David Moyes’s exit from Manchester United unfolds and Madrid prepares to host both semifinals of the European Champions League, Asia is gearing up for some soccer drama of its own.
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Ban on Video Game Consoles Tentatively Lifted in the Shanghai FTZ

China Briefing - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 01:44

On Monday this week, details were announced regarding the lifting of China's 14-year ban on video game consoles, set to begin as a pilot program in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone.

The post Ban on Video Game Consoles Tentatively Lifted in the Shanghai FTZ appeared first on China Briefing News.

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So Much for Romance: ‘Somersault Kiss’ Meme Sets Off Wave of Injuries

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 01:31
A viral phenomenon dubbed the “somersault kiss” is sweeping the Chinese Internet, prompting the nation’s public security bureau to intercede on behalf of the country’s not-so-acrobatic enthusiasts.
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25 Years Ago: 100,000 Demand Democracy in Beijing

China Digital Times - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 00:01

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the nationwide, student-led democracy movement in China, and the subsequent military crackdown in Beijing. To mark the occasion, CDT is posting a series of original news articles from that year, beginning with the death of Hu Yaobang on April 15 and continuing through the tumultuous spring. The full series can be read here.

For the April 22, 1989 New York Times, Nicholas Kristof reported more than 100,000 people protested in Tiananmen Square as the government held an official memorial service for Hu Yaobang:

As the students chanted for democracy, China’s top officials, guarded by the military, entered the Great Hall of the People this morning for memorial ceremonies for the former Communist Party leader, Hu Yaobang, whose death last week touched off the demonstrations.

[...] In a country where control has been a way of life – Government officials assign people jobs, determine where they may live, and decide how many children they may have – the illegal protests represented an extraordinary lapse of control.

Students who normally avoid political issues that might blot their personnel files seemed carried away with an uncharacteristic political ferocity that is likely to have a significant effect on politics if it can be sustained.

”We will die for freedom!” students from Beijing University chanted in the pre-dawn hours this morning as they arrived in the square after a three-hour march from their campus. Others carried such banners as ”Press Freedom,” and the crowd relished the ironies as it sang the opening line of China’s national anthem: ”Rise up, you who refuse to be slaves.”

While the leaders were inside the Great Hall of the People, three student representatives knelt on the steps for 45 minutes, asking that then-Premier Li Peng accept their petition. Li Peng never came out:
[Photo from]
Read more from Under the Jacaranda Tree.

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Corruption Investigation Hits China Resources Affiliates

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 23:59
News of a corruption investigation against the chairman of a Chinese state-owned holding company hit the share prices of its Hong Kong-listed affiliates in trading Tuesday morning.
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China Releases Content Rules for Console Games

China Digital Times - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 22:17

As long-anticipated official availability of foreign consoles in China nears, Games In Asia’s Charles Custer examines the approval process and conditions for games, which will be overseen by the Shanghai government’s culture department. Forbidden content includes:

  • Gambling-related content or game features
  • Anything that violates China’s constitution
  • Anything that threatens China’s national unity, sovereignty, or territorial integrity.
  • Anything that harms the nation’s reputation, security, or interests.
  • Anything that instigates racial/ethnic hatred, or harms ethnic traditions and cultures.
  • Anything that violates China’s policy on religion by promoting cults or superstitions.
  • Anything that promotes or incites obscenity, drug use, violence, or gambling.
  • Anything that harms public ethics or China’s culture and traditions.
  • Anything that insults, slanders, or violates the rights of others.
  • Other content that violates the law

Custer comments at Forbes on the rules’ likely implications:

How exactly the games will be judged remains to be seen. There are some reasons for optimism. Chief among them: the games will be evaluated by a Shanghai government agency rather than China’s national Ministry of Culture. It’s not yet known how the Shanghai agency will judge the games it assesses, but there is hope that it may take a more lenient approach than the national Ministry. […]

[…] Still though, the degree to which console games are censored could easily make or break the console industry in China. If most of the popular, desirable games (like Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, and Battlefield), Chinese console gamers are likely to stick to hacked machines and gray-market imports they’ve been using over the last decade. (China’s enforcement of the console ban was quite lax, and it’s quite easy to find both consoles and games in most Chinese cities). That would mean very low sales numbers for legitimate consoles in the Middle Kingdom, which is somethign Sony and Microsoft will be hoping to avoid. [Source]

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Shock at World Snooker Championship as China’s Ding Junhui Dumped Out

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 22:16
Chinese snooker star Ding Junhui has been knocked out of the World Snooker Championship, in one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport’s most prestigious tournament.
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Criminal Detention Replacing Re-Education Through Labor

China Digital Times - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 21:53

The abolition of China’s re-education through labor system last year was greeted with concern that other forms of detention would simply replace it. Reuters reported in December that existing inmates held for drug-related offenses were still doing the same forced labor in the same facilities, now rebranded as detox centers. Now, South China Morning Post’s Verna Yu reports that police appear to be abusing criminal detention as a convenient short-term alternative, even in cases with no prospect of eventual prosecution:

Statistics are impossible to obtain, due to the lack of transparency in the legal system and the difficulty in differentiating between politically motivated and non-political public order charges. But activists and petitioners also say they are experiencing more criminal detentions than before since the abolition of re-education through labour.

[…] Under mainland law, police can hold individuals for up to 30 days in criminal detention before deciding whether to pass the case to prosecutors. Prisoners can be held for another seven days while waiting for a formal arrest.

Legal experts say police have the power to arbitrarily detain perceived troublemakers in the absence of a court ruling or prosecutors’ approval, and rarely face consequences for improper detentions. Even if police do not expect a case to merit prosecution, they still use criminal detention to exert control over perceived trouble makers, lawyers say. Even when freed, former detainees are subject to restrictions including confinement to their hometowns and check-ins with local police.

[…] Some people are even detained again immediately upon their release. [Source]

Yu notes also the increased use of still other forms of detention. Two of these were involved in a recent case in which lawyers investigating a “legal education center” were themselves placed in administrative detention, and allegedly tortured.

There have been changes, too, in the charges used in political cases, with authorities shifting away from state security indictments relating to subversion and separatism. Observers are divided over whether this represents a sinister politicization of non-political crimes, or an encouraging concession to growing public rights awareness.

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Anger Over Delays as Tesla’s China Dream Dawns

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 21:26
A group of disgruntled Tesla customers in China is protesting delayed deliveries of their cars one day before the electric-vehicle maker is set to make its first China delivery.
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Picture China: Flight 370 Meeting, David Beckham in Beijing, Gas Explosion Rescue

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 20:49
The day's China news in pictures: relatives of passengers on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 express their anger during a meeting with Malaysian government representatives, David Beckham visits the Great Hall of the People, rescuers try to save miners from a gas explosion and more.
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Newly Signed China-Germany DTA Continues Trend of Sino-European Economic Cooperation

China Briefing - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 20:28

As a further sign of China's growing economic cooperation with Europe, the leaders of China and Germany signed a double taxation agreement on March 28, 2014.

The post Newly Signed China-Germany DTA Continues Trend of Sino-European Economic Cooperation appeared first on China Briefing News.

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The Specter of June Fourth

China Digital Times - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 20:19

In an adaptation of his introduction to Rowena He’s Tiananmen Exiles: Voices of the Struggle for Democracy in China at China File, Perry Link explains why the bloody events of June 4th, 1989 cast such a long shadow:

The massacre therefore created a puzzle for Deng Xiaoping and the other men at the top. With no more “legitimacy” to be drawn from claims about socialist ideals, where else could they generate it? Within weeks of the killings, Deng declared that what China needed was “education.” University students were forced to perform rituals of “confessing” their errant thoughts and denouncing the counterrevolutionary rioters at Tiananmen. These were superficial exercises that had little real meaning. But Deng’s longer-term project of stimulating nationalism and “educating” the Chinese population in the formula Party = country turned out to be very effective. In textbooks, museums, and all of the media, “Party” and “country” fused and patriotism—literally “love country” in Chinese—meant “loving” the hybrid result. China’s hosting of the 2008 Summer Olympics was a “great victory of the Party.” Foreign criticism of Beijing was no longer “anti-communist” but now “anti-Chinese.” Conflicts with Japan, the U.S., and “splittists” in Taiwan and Tibet were exaggerated in order to demonstrate a need for clear lines between hostile adversaries and the beloved Party-country. [...]

[...] Now, when legitimacy rests on the claims that the Party and the people are one, memory of the massacre—when the Party shot bullets at the people—is perhaps the starkest of possible evidence that the Party and the people are not one.

So the regime still needs to include these memories among the kinds of thought that need to be erased from people’s minds. It uses both push and pull tactics to do this. Push includes warnings, threats, and—for the recalcitrant—computer and cell-phone confiscation, as well as passport denial, employment loss, bank-account seizure, and—for the truly stubborn—house arrest or prison. Pull includes “invitations to tea”—a standard term in the lexicon of people whom the police try to control—at which one hears smiling reminders that a better life is available to people who stop talking about massacres; advice that it is still not too late to make this kind of adjustment in life; comparisons with others who are materially better off for having made just that decision; offers of food, travel, employment, and other emoluments (grander if one cooperates by reporting on others); and counsel that it is best not to reveal the content of all this friendly tea-talk to anyone else. [Source]

For the upcoming 25th anniversary of the June Fourth democracy movement, Human Rights in China has launched a new initiative called “June Fourth at 25: Resisting Enforced Amnesia, Building a Just Future” that documents the lives of June Fourth victims. From HRIC:

“June Fourth at 25” builds upon HRIC’s existing program activities relating to June Fourth, including press work, translation, production of multimedia resources, and participation in commemorative events.

The lead component of the initiative is the “Records of Visits and Interviews with Families of June Fourth Victims,” a collection of stories about 16 June Fourth victims and one survivor, written by members of the Tiananmen Mothers based on their visits and interviews with the victims’ families that began in fall 2013.

Last year, following the 24th anniversary of June Fourth, the Tiananmen Mothers asked themselves:

In all these years, and through all the energy and effort we had expended, we had not been able to get justice for our loved ones, or slow the pace of old age or sickness among our fellow family members who had shared in our common struggle over all these years. . . .  What should we do for those who have passed away? And how should we commemorate the lost souls of June Fourth?

Their answer was to document the lives and deaths of the victims as a way to honor them and to continue to press for justice. [Source]

See repostings of daily original news reports from 1989 via CDT. Former China Beat editor Maura Cunningham has also compiled a related selection from the site’s archive at her own blog.

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