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Show Me the Money

Thu, 10/30/2014 - 22:58

For Science, Mara Hvistendahl recounts the experiences of theoretical physicist Ulf Leonhardt, who was contracted to spend three months a year at the Centre for Optical and Electromagnetic Research (COER) at South China Normal University. His work was partly funded by the the Recruitment Program of Foreign Experts, or “Thousand Talents” plan, which offers a generous subsidy to foreign scholars for part-time work at Chinese institutions. But Leonhardt’s experience demonstrates how contractual agreements are often ignored as Chinese host institutions seek to benefit from their relationship with foreign experts:

Thousand Talents and similar programs had struggled to attract candidates of international caliber (Science, 31 July 2009, p. 534), and Leonhardt, who was applying at the peak of his career, seemed a shoo-in. By September 2012, he had snagged acceptances from both programs and had signed a 5-year contract with COER. The center offered his partner, Jana Silberg, a part-time job, too.

But Leonhardt and Silberg would come to suspect that a substantial portion of his grant money and the salary due to Silberg were being diverted to other uses. After hiring lawyers to investigate, they uncovered a web of misinformation, including incorrectly translated agreements and covert purchases of equipment at COER. “The fraud they committed was so brazen,” charges Leonhardt, who bailed out of his contract after spending just one summer in Guangzhou.

Sailing He flatly denies that COER diverted any funds, and others at COER say that Leonhardt agreed up front to an arrangement in which the bulk of his grant would be administered by others. Sailing He calls Leonhardt ungrateful for COER’s help in securing the lucrative arrangement: “He was getting $20,000 USD a month. He doesn’t need to care about the details.”

At a time when China is spending heavily to recruit talented overseas scientists, the dispute between COER and Leonhardt is a cautionary tale. Interviews with other foreign-born recipients of Thousand Talents awards reveal that host institutions in several instances have seized the reins, controlling everything from the application process to grant administration. Among Thousand Talents awardees interviewed by Science, ignorance of the program’s nuts and bolts—even at the most basic level, such as the amount of money they are due—is the norm. [Source]

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Photo: Untitled (Beijing), by Jacques Beaulieu

Thu, 10/30/2014 - 19:17
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Human Rights Groups Urge Obama to Pressure Beijing

Thu, 10/30/2014 - 19:10

A joint letter from nine organizations urges President Barack Obama to publicly emphasize human rights during his impending visit Beijing. The groups call specifically for the release of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia, rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti, and Tibetan Buddhist leader Tenzin Delek Rinpoche.

The deteriorating human rights environment and the extraordinary damage done to China’s civil society should be given greater prominence in the bilateral relationship generally and your upcoming trip in particular. We appreciate the U.S. government’s efforts to raise individual cases and discuss broader human rights issues with Chinese counterparts. While it may be tempting to conclude from Beijing’s increasing intransigence that such efforts are ineffective, we believe that by publicly raising the cases of particular activists during your visit to Beijing, you may afford them protection from ill-treatment or torture in detention, and increase the prospects of parole or humanitarian release. Even if these results are not achieved, your speaking about these activists now would bring them and their family members a degree of hope, and would serve as one of the only means of demanding accountability from Chinese authorities. [Source]

The letter is signed by representatives of Amnesty International, Freedom House, Freedom Now, Human Rights First, Human Rights in China, Human Rights Watch, the International Campaign for Tibet, Project 2049, and the Uyghur American Association. As China grows increasingly resistant to foreign criticism on human rights, many foreign leaders prefer to raise such issues in private, if at all.

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China’s Cyberspace Minister Accuses U.S. of Hacking

Thu, 10/30/2014 - 18:47

Aside from defending China’s right to block foreign websites, top Internet regulator Lu Wei struck back against hacking accusations at a news conference on Thursday. 80 per cent of government websites in China, he claimed, have come under hacking assaults, many reportedly launched from the US. The Financial Times’ Charles Clover reports:

China’s internet tsar has lashed out at US cyber hacking allegations against his country, saying it was in fact the “world’s largest victim” of the practice.

[…] “There are some who accuse China of hacking, and here I must stress that we do not permit hacking of others’ networks to attain information,” said Mr Lu, adding: “China is the world’s main victim of cyber hacking.” [Source]

Nevertheless, Lu told the audience that Sino-American talks on cyber security cooperation had not stalled as previously reported. From Reuters’ Gerry Shih:

Lu Wei, head of the State Internet Information Office, condemned the use of “superior technology to attack or steal secrets”. But he described U.S.-China dialogue on cybersecurity as “unhindered”, less than a week after the talks appeared to have stalled.

Chinese state councillor Yang Jiechi told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry this month that resuming cybersecurity cooperation between China and the United State would be difficult because of “mistaken U.S. practices”.

Speaking to reporters at a Beijing news conference on Thursday to publicize an Internet conference, Lu said the two countries had “differences but also commonalities”, and he hoped they could find common ground. [Source]

The latest hacking accusations against China involve a group of allegedly government-backed hackers dubbed “Axiom” that is said to target foreign companies, government agencies, and dissidents both inside and outside China. Ellen Nakashima at Washington Post reports:

In a report to be issued Tuesday, the researchers said Axiom is going after intelligence benefiting Chinese domestic and international policies — an across-the-waterfront approach that combines commercial cyberespionage, foreign intelligence and counterintelligence with the monitoring of dissidents.

Axiom’s work, the FBI said in an industry alert this month, is more sophisticated than that of Unit 61398, a People’s Liberation Army hacker unit that was highlighted in a report last year. Five of the unit’s members were indicted this year by a U.S. grand jury. The researchers concur with the FBI’s conclusion, noting that, unlike Unit 61398, Axiom is focused on spying on dissidents as well as on industrial espionage and theft of intellectual property.

“Axiom’s activities appear to be supported by a nation state to steal trade secrets and to target dissidents, pro-democracy organizations and governments,” said Peter LaMontagne, chief executive of Novetta Solutions, a Northern Virginia cybersecurity firm that heads the coalition. “These are the most sophisticated cyberespionage tactics we’ve seen out of China.” [Source]

At Bloomberg News, Chris Strohm and Michael Riley report that a number of private sector firms in the US are now forming coalitions to combat Chinese hacking assaults in new and innovative ways:

A coalition of technology companies says it has disrupted a hacking campaign linked to Chinese intelligence, demonstrating for the first time a private-sector model that they believe can move faster than investigations by law enforcement agencies.

[...] The take-down largely bypassed traditional law enforcement tools, relying instead on cooperation between companies that are normally fierce competitors. Coalition members — which include Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), Cisco Inc. (CSCO) and Symantec Corp. (SYMC) — say they can act faster than governments because they operate global Internet systems and have business relationships with tens of thousands of companies.

“We believe this is a first-of-its-kind effort,” said Peter LaMontagne, chief executive officer of Novetta Solutions LLC, a cybersecurity company based in McLean, Virginia, that is part of the coalition. “The security industry is starting to raise the bar, or hopefully forcing hostile actors to have to spend more of their resources” to continue attacks. [Source]

A recent study found that China and the U.S. were both implicated in thousands of attacks on a “honeypot” decoy computer.

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Minitrue: Lu Wei Denies ‘Closing’ Foreign Websites

Thu, 10/30/2014 - 16:26

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.

Disable commentary on the article “Lu Wei on Inability to Log On to Facebook:  We Haven’t Closed A Single Foreign Website.” Implement immediately. (October 30, 2014)

关闭《鲁炜回应无法登陆facebook:没关过境外任何一家网站 》一文下的评论,立即执行。[Chinese]

While speaking to the press about the “World Internet Conference” to be held in Zhejiang Province next month, head of the Cyberspace Administration of China (China’s main Internet regulator, formerly known as the State Internet Information Office) Lu Wei was questioned on why certain foreign websites were “shut down” in China. Lu’s measured response was evasive. The BBC reports:

Asked by a reporter why sites such as Facebook had been shut down, Mr Lu replied: “I have never used any of these websites so I don’t know if they have been shut down. But as for situations where some sites become inaccessible, I think it is possible.

“We have never shut down any foreign sites. Your website is on your home soil. How can I go over to your home and shut it down?”

Mr Lu however added that while China was “hospitable”, it could also “choose who can come to our home and be our guest”.

“I can’t change who you are but I have the power to choose my friends,” he said. “I wish that all who come to China will be our real friends.” [Source]

Last month Lu Wei commented on the need for strict Internet control—both for economic reasons: “We cannot permit [foreign Internet companies] taking advantage of China’s market, of profiting from Chinese money, but doing damage to China”; and to maintain order on unruly social media: “Freedom and order are twin sisters, and they must live together.” Over the past year, Microsoft and Qualcomm have both seen antitrust probes in China as Beijing continues to put pressure on foreign tech firms.

In February, Xi Jinping vowed to turn China into a “cyberpower,” and a report by Adam Segal for Forbes notes that the upcoming World Internet Conference signals Beijing’s intentions to “take more of a role in shaping the rules of the road for cyberspace.”

Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. 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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Relaxed One-Child Policy Fails to Trigger Baby Boom

Thu, 10/30/2014 - 13:51

The “one-child policy,” originally implemented to address the social, economic, and environmental problems facing China’s massive population, has successfully averted hundreds of millions of births. However, 35 years of state sanctioned family planning have also steered the country into distressing demographic territory. Last year, in hopes of avoiding the problems that come with an increasingly top-heavy population pyramid, central authorities announced a gradual easing of the controversial policy. At The Telegraph, Malcolm Moore explains the new family planning allowances, and how measured reforms are so far falling short of official expectations:

At a stroke, more than 11 million couples became eligible for a second child and officials hoped for 2 million extra births this year.

But the latest figures show just 700,000 couples applied for the new dispensation, and only 620,000 were given a permit.

That leaves China still facing a demographic disaster. After more than three decades of the one child policy, China is now a rapidly ageing society. In just over 15 years, a quarter of its population will be over 60.

[...] [According to former family planning official Lian Zhongtang] “This number [of new babies] is low, and that means our birth-control policy is not working at all. We are already like developed countries where families do not want to have more children. People are making their decisions not because of government policy but because of the economy and our society. So we should give people back the freedom to have children free from government interference.” [Source]

Also see Malcolm Moore’s FAQ on the one-child policy from The Telegraph.

State media coverage of the new figures also points to a falling desire for a second child among China’s educated middle class, and notes that while a comprehensive rollout of a “two-child policy” is on the horizon, the timetable is as of yet unclear. From China Daily:

The latest relaxation aims to address a rapidly aging society and to maintain a sustainable labor supply, he said.

Lu said that a careful analysis of new births next year under the new policy is required to assist future decision making, primarily when to introduce a comprehensive two-child policy.

“That probably will come in five years,” he said.

However, Cai Fang, deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the top government think tank, believes otherwise.

“It will be introduced in two years,” he said in an interview with China National Radio earlier this month. [Source]

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Photo: Trio, by Shazz

Wed, 10/29/2014 - 18:53
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The Unlikely Success of Harold Fry’s Pilgrimage

Wed, 10/29/2014 - 18:38

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce, was first published in 2012 to widespread acclaim. The book has since attracted a large audience both in mainland China and on Taiwan. At The Los Angeles Review of Books, Paul French explains why many Chinese readers have been captivated by its English protagonist:

[...] Chinese readers have several different answers and none involve anything as trite as the resonance of a long march to Chinese readers. Rather, many identify with Harold’s loneliness – retired with a wife who is a mild nag and obsessed with household cleanliness. He has dropped out of a fast changing society around him, has few friends, few pastimes. But most readers seem to take heart with Harold’s decisiveness. That he actually, finally makes a decision (albeit a rather ludicrous one to walk from Devon to Northumberland; a walk he believes will cure an old friend of cancer) has been described as rejuvenating by many Chinese readers; just as it is to Harold. Once he has committed to the 87-day trek (for which he is singularly ill-prepared) the world changes for him – he sees the riot of color in the hedgerows, he tastes the tanginess of the cheese in his pub sandwich. He talks to people – tells his story and listens to them and their bizarre pasts, fetishes and foibles. Sometimes it is only by taking the most decisive of acts that we are forced to interact with others. Harold’s bizarre decision is secondary to the fact that he has made a choice to fill his own personal spiritual void, broken out of his own social isolation and reconnected with the wide world out there. [Source]

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21 Arrested Over Deadly Land Clash in Yunnan

Wed, 10/29/2014 - 15:51

After a deadly clash that arose out of a months running land dispute in Jinning, Yunnan Province earlier this month—in which nine died, several of whom were reportedly construction workers that were tied up, doused with gasoline, and burned by villagers—21 have been arrested by local authorities. The New York Times reports:

Those arrested included six employees of a construction firm and 15 local residents, the Kunming city government said on Tuesday. The announcement added that the death toll had climbed from eight to nine after one severely injured worker died in a local hospital.

A long-running conflict between residents of Jinning County, a semirural area under the administration of Kunming, the capital of the southwestern province of Yunnan, exploded into large-scale violence on Oct. 14. Hundreds of workers dressed in auxiliary police uniforms and carrying shields, tear gas and other anti-riot gear were sent to the village of Fuyou in Jinning County in an effort to intimidate residents and force them to drop their resistance to the construction of a logistics hub for manufactured goods.

[...] The villagers had sought better compensation for giving up their land for the project and had complained about the flooding of vegetable fields as a result of the construction. They had blocked construction work since May, with violence between the two sides flaring over the summer. The Oct. 14 riot exploded as developers pushed to resume work on the project, the Kunming government said. [Source]

While disputes between villagers and/or farmers seeking proper compensation and developers are a major cause of unrest in rural China, the Jinning clash was exceptionally violent and deadly. Last year, Beijing identified rural land use reform as a major policy goal.

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HK Lawmaker Pays Price for Breaking Ranks With Beijing

Wed, 10/29/2014 - 15:07

On Tuesday, the New York Times’ Michael Forsythe reported that Hong Kong lawmaker and founding head of the HK Liberal Party James Tien Pei-chun was looking at expulsion from the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress (CPPCC) after calling for the resignation of Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung. While student and pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong have been calling for CY Leung’s resignation since October 1, central Chinese authorities have made their support for the chief executive clear.

The lawmaker, James Tien, the leader of the Liberal Party, is set to be expelled from the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference for not supporting its resolutions, which include backing Hong Kong’s government, Mr. Tien’s brother, Michael, said in a telephone interview.

The body’s standing committee will meet Wednesday to vote on the issue, said Michael Tien, also a Hong Kong lawmaker.

“The oath made when being appointed is that they would vow to uphold all the resolutions made by the standing committee of the C.P.P.C.C.,” said Michael Tien, a delegate to China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress. “So they considered him as not honoring his oath.” [Source]

The South China Morning Post reports that while the CPPCC did vote for Tien’s expulsion by a massive majority, the former lawmaker stands by his calls for Leung’s resignation, and has also stepped down as leader of the Liberal Party.

Tien resigned as leader of the party he co-founded after the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference confirmed his removal.

He did not regret asking Leung on Friday to consider resigning, he said. Tien had been asked by reporters to respond after the former chief executive and CPPCC vice-chairman Tung Chee-hwa said he was “satisfied” Leung was doing “a good job”.

[...] In Beijing, Chan Wing-kee of the CPPCC standing committee said 267 members voted yesterday to expel Tien. Two voted against and three abstained.

[...] CCTV reported Tien was disqualified for “seriously violating the CPPCC’s charter and resolution”, which took effect in March and requires delegates to “support the chief executive in governing Hong Kong”. [Source]

Also see another South China Morning Post report on Tien’s reputation as a maverick in both Hong Kong politics and during his more than ten years on the CPPCC.

Just prior to the CPPCC’s vote on Tien, a former chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority official and current China central bank advisor urged protesters to return home, warning that Beijing would punish Hong Kong if they don’t. From Reuters:

A member of China’s central bank’s advisory body warned on Wednesday that Beijing will punish Hong Kong if pro-democracy protests that have paralyzed parts of the Chinese-controlled financial center for a month are allowed to continue.

Joseph Yam, executive vice president of advisory body China Society for Finance and Banking and a former Hong Kong central bank chief, said the city’s financial integrity and stability of its currency were also at risk.

“Hong Kong’s economic prosperity was built on its intermediary role between the mainland and overseas, especially in the financial realm,” said Yam, who urged student protesters to return to their homes. [Source]

Beijing has reportedly punished 47 Hong Kong celebrities who publicly support the protests by blacklisting them from the mainland.

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Snack of the Week: Cutlassfish Bun

Wed, 10/29/2014 - 13:26

Word of the Week comes from the Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon, a glossary of terms created by Chinese netizens and encountered in online political discussions. These are the words of China’s online “resistance discourse,” used to mock and subvert the official language around censorship and political correctness.

A cutlassfish leaks from a steamed bun bearing the likeness of President Xi Jinping. (Rebel Pepper 变态辣椒)

带鱼包子 (dàiyú bāozi): cutlassfish bun

Netizen mockery of the relationship President Xi Jinping forged with nationalistic writer Zhou Xiaoping at the 2014 Beijing Forum on Art and Literature.

On October 15, 2014, at the Beijing Forum on Art and Literature, Xi Jinping delivered a speech reaffirming the Communist Party’s long-held view of the social responsibility of the artist: promote Party ideology. As Xi was wrapping his speech up, he praised Zhou Xiaoping and Hua Qianfang, two young “Internet writers,” for their “positive energy,” called on them to continue writing, and directed the nation’s attention their way. Seemingly unbeknownst to Xi, Zhou Xiaoping had already achieved a level of Internet infamy for hisnationalistic and awkward prose and his tendency to misrepresent historical facts. In 2013, Zhou earned the nickname “Cutlassfish Zhou” (周带鱼 Zhōu Dàiyú) after fabricating a fact about the species.

Praising the controversial blogger served a slight bruise to Xi’s well-crafted image as strongman and wise father figure. Xi’s high-profile down-to-the-people visit to a popular Beijing steamed bun shop in late 2013 won him the nickname “Steamed Bun Xi” (习包子 Xí Bāozi). After the president offered Zhou accolades, many netizens asked what the steamed bun was truly made of:

yes_man2011: Now I get it. Zhou Xiaoping is the steamed bun’s filling. (October 16, 2014)

周小平就是包子的馅,明白了吧。 [Chinese]

千里眼168168: The ignorant and incompetent steamed bun admires the ignorant and incompetent cutlassfish, naturally. //@黎津平: People’s Daily Online compelled to announce that Zhou Xiaoping does have his flaws. (October 20, 2014)

不学无术的包子欣赏不学无术的带鱼,正常。//@黎津平: 人民网已被迫宣布,周小平是有瑕疵的。[Chinese]

Read more about Zhou Xiaoping or Xi Jinping’s image, via CDT. See also Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon entries for Cutlassfish Zhou and Steamed Bun Xi.

Want to learn more subversive netizen slang? Check out Decoding the Chinese Internet: A Glossary of Political Slang. Available for $2.99 in the Kindle, Google Play, and iTunes stores. All proceeds from the sale of this eBook support China Digital Times.

 

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Party Document Lays Out Vision for Role of Law (Developing)

Wed, 10/29/2014 - 02:30

On Tuesday, the Party Central Committee unveiled the fruit of its rule-of-law-themed Fourth Plenum meeting, the Decision Concerning Some Major Questions in Comprehensively Moving Governing the Country According to the Law Forward. This builds on last week’s Official Central Party Communiqué, which provided a broad overview of Party leaders’ conclusions. Both documents were swiftly translated into English by China Copyright and Media’s Rogier Creemers, with contributions on the Decision from China Law Translate’s Jeremy Daum.

The Decision continues the resurgence of Xi Jinping’s early constitutionalist rhetoric, but expresses a vision of rule by law, not of law in the Western sense. It warns that while China should “learn from beneficial experiences in rule of law abroad, […] we can absolutely not indiscriminately copy foreign rule of law concepts and models.” (See more on “nipping this trend in the bud” from China Media Project.) While conceding that “governance according to the law requires that the Party governs the country on the basis of the Constitution and the laws,” it states that “laws are important tools to rule the country,” rather than a framework within which to govern. Elsewhere, it describes the work of “perfecting legislative structures” as a matter of strengthening Party leadership. “Party leadership and Socialist rule of law,” it asserts, “are identical.”

But policies emerging from the Plenum could still rein in violations and abuses of the law by lower-level authorities. Moves to shield courts from interference by local officials, for example, are set to expand. The document also offers the prospect of some legal foundation for efforts to battle corruption, which have for the most part proceeded on a pointedly extra-legal basis.

In any case, the test of new policies will lie in their execution, not on paper, or in gestures like an oath of loyalty to the constitution or a new holiday (December 4th) in its honor. From Reuters’ Sui-Lee Wee:

“We keep on talking now about ruling the country in accordance with the constitution, but I think we should not overdo this propaganda,” said Zhan Zhongle, a law professor at Peking University.

“These things are just formalities, the more important bit is the implementation. You know, China is a country that shouts slogans louder than any other country.”

[…] Since he took office in March 2013, Xi, who has a doctorate in law, has vowed to put “power within the cage of regulations” and waged a war against corruption, winning over many ordinary people. This year was the first time the party made “governing the country by law” the focus of the plenum.

[…] It is uncertain how much of an impact the plenum’s policies will have. Laws are often not enforced and can be abused by the police. Full details of the reforms will likely be unveiled in coming months. [Source]

Many observers, Wee reported last week, are pessimistic. The Brookings Institution’s Cheng Li said the scheme outlined in the Communiqué was “not a landmark […], certainly it’s not a philosophical or ideological change,” though he was reassured that it left “a lot of room for further debate.” Beijing-based scholar Zhang Lifan was more dismissive, saying “there’s nothing new there, it’s no different from 18 years ago. My hair has turned white while waiting for rule of law to be implemented.” Respected Peking University legal scholar He Weifang told The Financial Times ahead of the Plenum that he had already given up on promises of legal reform. “I have lost all hope and I just feel numb now,” he said. “In fact recently I have just been travelling around China visiting friends and getting drunk.”

Updated at 18:25 PDT on Oct 29: On his China Law Prof Blog, George Washington University’s Donald Clarke assesses the Decision’s various proposals, filing them as either positive steps forward (particularly on judicial reform), “meaningful but minor” changes, empty rhetoric (including 108 pledges to strengthen things, and 79 to perfect others), or areas of concern. He also notes some curious omissions.

The big-picture summary is that the Decision contemplates no fundamental reform in the relationship between the legal system and the Party. It is clear that institutionally speaking, the Party will remain above the law. At the same time, the Decision does contemplate some genuinely meaningful (and in my opinion positive) reforms. It also has a lot of stuff that might look meaningful but isn’t. […]

[… O]bedience of officials to law is presented throughout as a kind of internal Party policy goal: this is something that Party members should do, and officials will even be scored on it (Section 7, Subsection 3). Those who have a “special privilege” mentality will be criticized and educated, and if necessary removed from office. But because the Decision contemplates no changes in the relationship between the legal system and the Party, the system in which powerful officials can override law if they wish to remains comfortably in place. The Decision just wants them to wish to override it less often.

[…] The Decision has some welcome language on civil rights. It specifies the principle of the presumption of innocence (疑罪从无 yi zui cong wu: literally, something like “when there is doubt about the crime, err on the side of finding no crime”). It also endorses the principle of exclusion of unlawfully gathered evidence. I put both these items in the “meaningful but minor” category because I don’t want to say they’re meaningless, but at the same time we have heard this before and problems persist. [Source]

Clarke raises a particular objection to proposals to shield proceedings from outside influence by restricting media reporting. South China Morning Post’s Keira Lu Huang reports consternation among lawyers and legal scholars at similar secrecy rules under consideration by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, which is reviewing draft amendments to China’s Criminal Law.

The restrictions refer to three types of cases – juveniles, personal privacy and those involving state secrets – that are “privately tried” behind closed doors.

Lawyers say they will be banned from releasing information about the cases, which could result in more miscarriages of justice.

According to a draft amendment on “obstructing judicial administration”, it would be a crime if defenders, appointed agents or other participants in a trial leak information that should not be known to the public” that which can result in mass media coverage or “other severe consequences” of trials under way.

[… B]ecause of frequent miscarriages of justice, mainland lawyers often chose to post information on social media or talk to the press to seek support from the public or pressure authorities to handle cases fairly. [Source]

Also at South China Morning Post, Andrea Chen highlights a People’s Daily article which reiterates the Decision’s claim that “Party leadership and Socialist rule of law are identical.” The two go hand in hand, quoted scholars argue, because the latter is a codified expression of the former.

“Rule of law” was listed as the theme of the party elites’ gathering last week. But scholars have been arguing the theme in China is different from the Western concept that no person, organisation or government agency, including the ruling party, is above law.

“It is wrong to say ‘rule of law’ contradicts the party rule,” the article quoted Wang Zhenmin, the dean of the Tsinghua Law School, as saying. “Law in China is the codification of the directives of the party.”

[…] The legal reform plans rolled out at the fourth plenum would further advance the party’s rule, Wang told the paper. From now on, party leaders must have their directives written in law [passed by the National People’s Congress] before they could rule the country

But the basis of all reforms in China, Xi said last night, “is to persist the ruling of the party”. [Source]

Updated at 23:50 PDT on October 29: Rogier Creemers has completed a translation of Xi Jinping’s Explanation concerning the ‘CCP Central Committee Decision concerning Some Major Questions in Comprehensively Moving Governing the Country According to the law Forward’ at China Copyright and Media. Meanwhile, the site’s translation of the Decision itself is now posted at Law Genius with annotations from Donald Clarke, who invites input from others.

Updated at 00:20 PDT on October 30: In his analysis of the Plenum documents at China Real Time, UC Berkeley’s Stanley Lubman focused on proposals to boost judicial independence by elevating local courts’ management to the provincial level and increasing transparency and accountability.

While the documents recognize the importance of independent courts, one particularly noteworthy paragraph in the communique demonstrates the determination of the party to maintain dominance over the legal system. In order to promote governing according to law, it says, the party “must forcefully raise the ideological and political quality, professional abilities and professional ethics of rule-of-law work teams.” Such teams, it says, should be loyal to the party, the country, the people and – last in the list – the law.

The notion of work teams harkens to the Mao Zedong era, when the party assembled groups of well-indoctrinated personnel with the specific aim of implementing specific party policies. Land collectivization in the 1950s and the Socialist Education Movement in 1964, among other campaigns, relied for their success on work teams, which were tasked with mobilizing lower-level officials and the masses. Aside from references to teams that have been sent to villages to quell protests over illegal land seizures, the term has rarely been used with reference to legal topics. [Source]

China Media Project’s David Bandurski noted another Maoist echo in a People’s Daily commentary on the Plenum:

A cursory reading would suggest the piece is what it seems to be — an anthem to “rule of law” (法治) that categorically rejects its evil twin, the autocratic “rule by man” (人治). In the People’s Daily Online version, a single sentence is bolded: “Nevertheless, some leading cadres are still obsessed with rule by man. In their eyes, legal process has too many limitations, and they think it’s better and more effective to deal with certain ‘defects’ by applying the flexible methods of rule by man.”

But if you think this is a simple struggle between the forces of light and dark, read more carefully.

The second paragraph of the piece praises the “Fengqiao experience” (枫桥经验), which as CMP director Qian Gang explained a year ago — when Xi Jinping surprised many by raising the specter — is a relic from one of the darkest chapters of contemporary Chinese “rule by man” under the Communist Party. [Source]

With all the rhetoric on how the legal system can serve the Party, Lubman also notes, there is little room left over for how it can directly serve the public:

It is disappointing that responsibility for initiating public interest litigation (as in such matters as product safety and environmental issues) is mentioned only in passing. The communique calls for establishing a prosecutorial system for such cases, rather than enlarging the right of classes of litigants or NGOs to sue. As Fu Hualing of Hong Kong University has noted, “There’s no room for civil society in this vision.” [Source]

Updated at 00:46 PDT on October 30: Eventual outcomes from Plenum policies on rule of law remain uncertain, but the past two weeks have seen some ill omens. Reuters’ Sui-Lee Wee reported on Monday that as the Party declares a national holiday in honor of the country’s constitution, a filmmaker faces up to five years in prison after making a documentary about it:

Shen Yongping will be the first person prosecuted for documenting China’s constitutional history in a film called “100 years of constitutional governance”, his lawyer, Zhang Xuezhong, told Reuters in a telephone interview on Monday.

[…] The film is about “the Chinese people’s pursuit of constitutionalism from the time of the Qing dynasty till the present day, and their failed experiences,” Zhang said, adding that he will argue the eight-episode documentary is not illegal.

[…] “The arrest of Shen is a signal from the government,” said Maya Wang from the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch. “Through these arrests, the government is making clear that the ‘rule of law’ should be understood as an instrument for the state to maintain its monopoly of power, not as a force to rein in arbitrary state power.” [Source]

Caixin’s Zhou Dongxu, meanwhile, described a sentencing rally held in Hunan three days before the Plenum began, and 26 years after the practice was banned:

The defendants, who were convicted in earlier trials, were taken to a public square for sentencing on the back of trucks that appeared to have special bars attached to keep them from fleeing. They were guarded by men in uniforms and wore placards around their necks giving their names and the crimes for which they were convicted.

A crowd of 5,000 people watched their sentencing, a local television station said. A video clip on the mass sentencing, which appeared on the local government’s website, has been removed.

[…] The events were not intended to be real court proceedings as much as events to burnish the image of local leaders, [Nankai University professor Hou Xinyi] said. “The judicial system cannot really decide many things anyway,” he said. [Source]

Updated at 22:13 PDT on October 30: Caixin editor Hu Shuli offers praise for “the leadership’s sincerity in its wish to improve the legal system,” but stresses that authorities should adhere to both the letter and the spirit of the constitution:

Too often, the government makes decisions that plainly flout the spirit if not the letter of the constitution. Thus, the leadership is right to stress the importance of its implementation.

[…] We need more than a collection of laws to realize constitutional rule. More importantly, we must honour the spirit of the constitution.

Xiao Yang, a former president of the Supreme People’s Court, once described the document as a declaration of rights, a treasure that safeguards the rights of a citizen. At the same time, it regulates and limits the powers of the state. Thus, the spirit of the constitution is to strike a balance between state powers and citizen rights, to ensure the state does not infringe on the basic rights of the people.

[…] More than three decades after the party’s 11th Central Committee affirmed the importance of the rule of law at its third plenum, China must work harder to realize a system of law based on the constitution. This is the way to win the people’s trust. [Source]

A leader and article in The Economist suggested that the focus on rule of law could bring real benefits to China, but expressed the widespread suspicion that it will be less a shield for the people than a sword for the Party:

Officials will now have to swear loyalty to China’s constitution. There is to be a new “National Constitution Day”. Schools are to teach its importance. The idea is to make it clear to errant officials that, no matter what they may think of ordinary laws and regulations, there is a big one they cannot ignore. The constitution, for example, enshrines property rights. Of the many thousands of “mass incidents” of unrest each year in rural China, 65% relate to disputes over the (often illegal) seizure of land by officials. Mr Xi wants to make it clear that their behaviour is not just illegal but also unconstitutional. That sounds scarier.

[…] Mr Xi has been presiding over the most sweeping crackdown on dissent that China has seen in years. He has clearly felt no compunction about using the law to do so, and it seems highly unlikely that he intends to use the constitution to check the power of the party itself. Yet he is clearly a brave leader who is prepared to take risks. If he really wants to clean up the system and defuse public anger, he should give Chinese citizens the rights enshrined in the constitution. It is the only way to bring about the “extensive and profound” change he has promised them. [Source]

[…] A decade ago the constitution was amended to include explicit protections for human rights and private property. Citizens with grievances briefly took heart and attempted to use these clauses to challenge official abuses of power. They were ignored, roughed up or arrested. Under Mr Xi, Chinese academics and journalists have been banned from expressing support for “constitutionalism”: a term that the party sees as a codeword for Western democratic values.

[…] Mr Xi’s aim appears to be to use the constitution to rein in local officials whose routine flouting of the law causes public anger and many thousands of protests every year. By making them swear to uphold the constitution, he is trying to make clear that they are not above the law when it comes to such matters as property rights. He does not expect them to ignore restrictions on demonstrating; the party has never acknowledged a contradiction between such laws and the constitution’s guarantees. [Source]

A third article gives an example of the current bleak state of property rights protection, in the illegal demolition of a Beijing guesthouse that had operated continuously for 60 years. It also notes a still more dramatic demonstration in Yunnan last month, where a clash over a land dispute left nine dead. Following the violence, 21 villagers and construction workers have been arrested, while 17 officials have been punished.

Updated at 01:35 PDT on October 31: Reuters’ Ben Blanchard and Sui-Lee Wee report Chinese authorities’ explanation for the lack of an anticipated announcement on former leader Zhou Yongkang’s ongoing corruption probe from the Plenum.

Jiang Wei, head of the Office of the Central Leading Group for Judicial Reform, told reporters that the case against Zhou “strongly reflects our attitude and determination to punish corruption”.

[…] “You asked about why there was no mention of the Zhou Yongkang case at the Fourth Plenary Session, that is because Zhou Yongkang no longer serves on the central leadership, so this plenary session did not make a decision on his problem,” Jiang said.

After the media conference, an aide accompanying Jiang said: “No comment, no comment” in English as a Reuters journalist attempted to ask more about Zhou’s case. [Source]

Within the plenary purview or not, Zhou’s case illustrates a basic reality of its “Socialist rule of law.” As Andrew Jacobs and Chris Buckley reported at The New York Times this month, he and many others have disappeared into an opaque internal Party system which has no foundation in national law and in which torture and other abuses are common. The Plenum documents promise accelerated work on anti-corruption law, but make clear that the Party will still police itself: “Governance according to the law requires that the Party governs the country on the basis of the Constitution and the laws, and requires that the Party manages the Party and governs the Party according to intra-Party regulations.”

At China Real Time, Yiyi Lu describes a flood of lurid investigative reporting on officials brought down by the anti-corruption campaign. The crackdown would be more effective, she suggests, if the Party were to relax its monopoly on internal investigation and discipline and allow the legal system, press, and public to take part.

The vivid stories flowing out of Shanxi are satisfying to a Chinese public that is weary of corruption, but the circumstances of their publication – always after the suspects have been placed under investigation by the party – highlight the limited role the media and the public play in rooting out corruption. For all its size and power, the party needs help policing its own.

China’s corruption czar, Wang Qishan, has argued for the need to institutionalize the country’s antigraft efforts. The party’s new focus on legal reform, discussed at a plenary meeting of top leaders in Beijing last week, has been cast as one way to do that. Having more respect for the law would certainly help curb corruption and abuse of power, but until the public is given the right to supervise the government, tigers are likely to continue roaming the country. [Source]

More analysis and background will be posted below as it appears.

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Zhou Xiaoping’s Claims Draw Fans and Critics

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 22:42

For AP, Didi Tang profiles Zhou Xiaoping, the blogger lauded by President Xi Jinping who has been mocked online because of his propensity for creating facts out of thin air:

China’s stodgy state-run media often fall flat as they try to portray the West in an unflattering light, but Zhou’s approach has been more successful: His microblog has more than 500,000 followers, and party websites and newspapers have carried his articles. He deftly uses trendy online slang, including calling his readers “dear” with an abbreviated version of the Chinese phrase.

But his posts have drawn criticism from skeptics who say he distorts and misleads, raising the risk that official efforts to glorify him may backfire.

[...] Chinese propaganda officials have argued that it is important to safeguard Zhou’s free speech despite the criticism.

“Even though there are many blemishes in Zhou Xiaoping’s articles, it is a harbinger for free speech when he can speak up,” a statement posted on a government website run by the party’s central propaganda department and its central office for building and guiding spiritual civilization. “We can always analyze and debate whether the viewpoints are correct or not.” [Source]

Earlier this month, anti-academic fraud campaigner Fang Zhouzi wrote an essay critiquing Zhou’s work, and was quickly censored by propaganda authorities. Another netizen posted an annotated version of one of Zhou’s essays, pointing out all the factual errors. Zhou has also become the target of political cartoonists.

Read also about how Zhou got his nickname, “Cutlassfish Zhou” and why he is also called “bun filling.”

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Photo: Big sign 傘誌, by 惠瑩 王

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 16:46

Big sign 傘誌

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Yanhuang Chunqiu Fights for Editorial Independence

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 16:31

The son of former party general secretary Hu Yaobang has taken over as publisher of liberal magazine Yanhuang Chunqiu, which has faced a number of challenges from authorities over the past year. Minnie Chan reports for the South China Morning Post:

The appointment of Hu Deping to oversee outspoken political magazine Yanhuang Chunqiu was the publication’s first step to fend off official moves to threaten its independence, outgoing publisher Du Daozheng said yesterday.

Du, 91, said that Lu De, son of late vice-premier Lu Dingyi would be the magazine’s new deputy publisher and legal representative. Du would become an “honorary publisher”.

[...] “A consensus was finally reached: we should spare no effort to ensure our magazine survives,” Du said. “Our goal is to keep our editorial independence. We don’t want to be another political magazine like party mouthpiece Qiushi.”

Beijing-based political commentator Zhang Lifan said the magazine might try to use Hu and Lu’s princeling background and connections to gain more “political living space”.

Yanhuang Chunqiu has long had the support of retired high officials, giving it an unusual amount of independence, which editors have used to challenge the official line on historical events. In 2008, the magazine broke a propaganda taboo by publishing a favorable article about Zhao Ziyang. In response, authorities have taken steps over the years to rein in the publication. Last year, the website was shut down. Last month, the publication was required to switch its official affiliation to the Chinese National Academy of Arts, which is under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Culture, from the more independent Yan Huang Culture of China. Read more about Yanhuang Chunqiu, including a translated interview with co-founder Du Daozheng, via CDT.

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Anti-Terror, Smog Measures Ahead of APEC Summit

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 15:04

As Beijing prepares to host a series of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings, state media reports that municipal police have been engaged in “security inspections and preparatory work” for the past eight weeks, and that officials yesterday urged “tight security checks to prevent terrorist attacks” during the meetings. Chinese authorities are currently engaged in a nationwide “war on terror” in response to a rise in violent incidents allegedly carried out by extremists from Xinjiang, amid which eight were recently executed for involvement in an attack on Beijing last year. The South China Morning Post’s Keira Lu Huang reports on security drills in the capital city yesterday:

The drills took place simultaneously at the China National Convention Centre in northern Beijing and at Yanqi Lake, with its 65-hectare island featuring a luxury hotel and villas on the outskirts of the capital, according to the China News Agency.

State media said the operations were designed to test the police response to riots and terrorist attacks.

[...] Officers descended on the sites as the operation unfolded and SWAT teams and armed police took up their positions. Helicopters patrolled the skies and sent live pictures back to the command centre during the 35-minute exercise that was overseen by the chief of the Beijing public safety department.

Meanwhile, security was stepped up around Tiananmen Square, in the heart of the city. [...] [Source]

As enhanced security efforts are being made ahead of the APEC summit, authorities are also taking great lengths to control another threat for which Beijing is infamous: air pollution. With heavy pollution season having already exposed Beijing residents to hazardous levels of pollution for a good part of October, Wayne Ma reports on Beijing’s goal to reduce pollution by up to 40% during the APEC gathering. From the Wall Street Journal:

The official Xinhua news agency reported Saturday that Chinese authorities plan to reduce air pollution in and around Beijing by as much as 40% during next month’s meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. That includes alternate-driving days for cars with even- and odd-numbered license plates, Xinhua said, citing Chai Fahe, vice president of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences.

This isn’t the first time Beijing has taken measures to improve the air during official visits. In August, the Beijing News reported that the city would heavily reduce the use of government vehicles for two weeks while hosting a meeting of senior officials from the APEC forum.

However, restricting car drivers to every other day is an unusual step for Beijing. It was last used to help improve air quality during the 2008 Olympics. The government hasn’t used the measure since, though officials said last year they would implement it for official use during emergencies. (Beijing still requires many drivers to take their cars off the streets one day a week based on the final digit of their license plate.) [...] [Source]

Another tactic being used to meet this goal: shut down the city, and create incentives for residents to leave town. From Bloomberg:

The municipal government announced a week-long break for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum Nov. 7-12, shutting schools, limiting cars on the roads and encouraging travel agencies to offer discount vacation packages. That comes after the week-long National Day holiday in early October.

China’s preparations for the APEC meetings go beyond cut-rate travel. Measures such as factory shutdowns are so sweeping that nationwide industrial production growth may be shaved by as much as half a percentage point in October and November, while steel output in nearby Hebei province may fall 10 percent in November.

[...] The measures are aimed at preventing smog from enveloping the city during the event, which will be attended by U.S. President Barack Obama, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladamir Putin. On Oct. 19, pollution levels exceeding World Health Organization limits by 16 times prompted many runners to drop out of the Beijing marathon and drew new attention to China’s difficulty in cleaning its air despite promises to do so. [Source]

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Afghan President Vows to Help China Fight Extremists

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 12:31

Newly elected Afghan president Ashraf Ghani arrived in Beijing today, where he was welcomed by Xi Jinping as an “old friend of the Chinese people.” The meeting between Xi and Ghani comes as the U.S. and NATO begin to wind down their military presence in the war-torn country; while China has said it will not send troops into Afghanistan, Xi did pledge US$245 million in aid to help in rebuilding efforts. As Afghanistan faces a rebounding threat of Taliban insurgency, Chinese authorities have been keen to present violent unrest in China’s Xinjiang region as part of the global jihad movement. A report from Reuters cites a Chinese official’s claim that Ghani has pledged to aid China in its fight against extremism in Xinjiang, and also offered his support for disputed Chinese territorial claims:

“In the area of security, President Ghani expressed the readiness and staunch support from the Afghan side in China’s fight against East Turkistan Islamic Movement terrorist forces,” Kong Xuanyou, Director General of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian Affairs Department, told journalists after Ghani and Xi met.

[...] Xi has repeatedly urged Central Asian countries to step up the fight against religious militants, which the Chinese government says were behind a spate of attacks in Xinjiang and across China that have left hundreds dead in the past two years.

Experts, however, dispute the influence of foreign militant groups within China, and argue that economic marginalization of Muslim Uighurs, who call Xinjiang home, is one of the main causes of ethnic violence there.

[...] Speaking to Xi at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, Ghani pressed China to open the Wakhan Pass connecting the two countries, a long-held request from Kabul which hopes to see an influx of Chinese development. China has resisted, fearing unrest will spill over into Xinjiang.

Ghani also offered unconditional support on China’s own territorial problems, citing “Taiwan, Tibet, and other issues”. [Source]

A report from Deutsche Welle notes that Beijing as been slowly increasing engagement with Afghanistan over the past two years, and quotes Afghan officials on the mutual benefits of future economic and security partnerships between the countries:

Beijing has gradually increased its engagement in Afghanistan since 2012. China’s former head of internal security, Zhou Yongkang, traveled to Kabul, with both governments agreeing, among other things, to the training of 300 Afghan police officers in China.

[...] From Kabul’s perspective, the expansion of economic relations with China and cooperation in the fight against terrorism are just two sides of the same coin. “China can play an important role to achieve peace and security in Afghanistan,” Ghani’s spokesman Fayeq Wahedi told DW.

“We see China both as a neighbor and regional power which can support Afghanistan in all areas, including the economy, trade and security.” Terrorism is now a common threat to both the countries, so it is important that the two cooperate to that end,” the spokesman added. [Source]

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Minitrue: Chow Yun-fat Banned from Mainland

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 08:37

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.

All websites must find and delete the article “Chow Yun-fat Responds to Potential Ban from Mainland: I’ll Just Make Less, Then.” (October 27, 2014)

全网查删《周润发回应或被内地封杀:那就赚少一点啰》一文。 [Chinese]

Several different articles carry the same headline on both Chinese news sites (available in Google’s cache) and overseas websites. All report that Hong Kong actor Chow Yun-fat is allegedly blacklisted from the mainland, along with 46 other stars who have supported the ongoing protests for free elections in the special administrative region. Chow took the reported ban in stride, saying, “I’ll just make less, then.”

Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. 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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What Is a Uyghur?

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 00:31

In an adaptation from his book The Sacred Routes of Uyghur History at The Los Angeles Review of Books, Loyola University New Orleans’ Rian Thum examines the emergence of modern Uyghur identity in and around Xinjiang:

[…] Although the word Uyghur, a name associated with certain pre-Islamic Altishahri kingdoms, had maintained an ephemeral presence in Altishahr all the way into the 20th century, it was not an ethnonym in wide use, and when it was used, it tended to be restricted to subgroups of inhabitants around the northern oases of Turpan and Qumul. The resurrection of the term as an ethnonym seems to have been influenced by European scholarship on the Uyghur Buddhist kingdoms, scholarship that was becoming available to intellectuals in Western Turkestan. In 1910 a Taranchi author published under the pen name Child of the Uyghur (Uyghur Ballisi). By the 1920s, political and cultural organizations were using Uyghur as an ethnonym, and debating whether it should include Kashgaris (Altishahris exclusive of Taranchis) only, Kashgaris and Taranchis, or perhaps even all of the ethnic groups of Xinjiang, including Han. In 1935 Sheng Shicai [the “warlord-governor” who ruled Xinjiang from 1933-44] enshrined the Uyghur category, essentially as it had developed among the Yettisu Taranchis, as an official ethnic category. […]

[…] By 1985 the Uyghur ethnonym was widely accepted by Altishahris. In that year, Justin Rudelson conducted a survey of 81 Turpan residents, in which all but five respondents ranked Uyghur among their three most salient identities (other choices being Muslim, Turpanliq, Junggoluq, and Turk). However, the long journey from the situation that pertained in 1934 to the wide use of the ethnonym Uyghur in 1985 remains largely hidden. While scholars have paid plenty of attention to the development of elite Uyghur nationalist discourse and state ethnic policies, the process by which acceptance of the new (though presented as old) Uyghur identity spread among the ordinary Altishahri population has never been carefully studied, due mostly to a dire lack of accessible sources on the subject. Much of the spread of the Uyghur idea must have taken place during the first three decades of Chinese Communist rule (i.e., 1949–1979) a period for which we have only scant and little-studied sources. [Source]

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Censorship and Surveillance in Xinjiang

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 00:16

At The Los Angeles Times, Julie Makinen reports obstruction and harassment of reporters in Xinjiang amid China’s ongoing response to a series of deadly attacks.

[… E]ven as Chinese officials insist that this is a clear-cut battle against religious zealots and hard-core separatists, local authorities are making it difficult for anyone to independently question (or substantiate) that narrative. Outsiders inquiring about the scale or causes of the carnage in Xinjiang are unwelcome, and locals are discouraged from speaking freely about it.

That became abundantly clear on a recent Thursday when I and my assistant, our driver and guide suddenly found ourselves accompanied by two extremely persistent Xinjiang security officers who trailed us for hours and whose intimidating presence ensured that no one would talk openly to us.

China’s state-run media must follow the Communist Party line, but foreign journalists are supposed to be able to travel freely anywhere in the country except Tibet and interview anyone who consents.

In reality, though, authorities employ various tactics to stifle coverage. In a recent survey by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China, two-thirds of overseas reporters here said they had experienced interference, harassment or violence while attempting to report. [Source]

While obstructing independent information-gathering, Chinese authorities are building up their own intelligence capabilities in and beyond the region. From Reuters’ Ben Blanchard and Sui-Lee Wee:

The Xinhua state news agency said changes to the draft security law going through parliament were aimed at improving intelligence gathering and the sharing of information across government departments, while also enhancing international cooperation.

“Our country is facing a serious and complex struggle against terrorism,” Xinhua said.

“China will set up an anti-terrorism intelligence gathering center to coordinate and streamline intelligence gathering in the field, according to a draft law submitted for reading on Monday,” it said.

[…] Some recent attacks in Xinjiang have pointed to serious intelligence failures despite a big security presence there, including a bomb and knife attack at a train station in April that happened as President Xi Jinping was wrapping up a visit to the area. [Source]

See more on surveillance efforts in Xinjiang via CDT.

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