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25 Years Ago: Violent Protests Reported in China

9 hours 59 min ago

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.

From the April 23, 1989 New York Times:

A week of growing anti-Government protests turned violent for the first time on Saturday, spreading to the central Chinese city of Xian, where protesters attacked the provincial Government headquarters, injuring 130 officers and burning 20 houses, the official New China News Agency reported this morning.

The rioting, which included an attack on foreign tourists, continued for about 12 hours, the agency said. The volatile situation in Xian presented the Government with the substantial new challenge of controlling major unrest not only in Beijing but in other cities.

While pro-democracy demonstrations have taken place in several cities since the death on April 15 of the former Communist Party leader, Hu Yaobang, Saturday’s violence seemed likely to force the Government, which so far has acted with relative restraint to almost continuous demonstrations in the capital, to take a firmer line against the protesters.

See also a Danwei translation of a blog post by Laohu Miao in which he scanned the front page of People’s Daily from April 23, 1989, announcing Hu Yaobang’s death.

[This series was originally posted on CDT in 2009 to mark the 20th anniversary of June 4th.]

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Shoe Factory Strikes Spread To Jiangxi

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 21:50

Jonathan Kaiman at The Guardian reports that the ongoing Yue Yuen Industrial (Holdings) Ltd.’s shoe factory strikes in Guangdong have spread to thousands of workers protesting “unfair pay and benefits” at another factory in neighboring Jiangxi:

About 2,000 workers clocked in on Monday, but did not work, at the Yue Yuen factory complex in Jiangxi province, southern China, joining at least 10,000 employees at another Yue Yuen factory complex in Dongguan, Guangdong province, who have been on strike since 14 April.

Up to 30,000 employees have stopped working in the strike – China’s largest in recent memory, according to the New York-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) China Labour Watch.

“The issue that [the workers] are concerned about is very widespread,” said Geoff Crothall of the Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin, another NGO. “In this case, at least the company was paying something, it just wasn’t the full amount. In other cases we’ve seen, workers are getting nothing at all. [Source]

Didi Tang and Kelvin Chan at ABC news report that the factory owners and workers in the Dongguan strike “appeared far from agreement”:

Tens of thousands of workers remained off the job Tuesday, according to workers and labor groups, after they rejected the company’s latest offer, which included making up back payments for social security and housing, full contributions for those benefits starting May 1 and a $37 monthly cost of living allowance.

“We’ll pay what is in the regulations, there should not be any concern on that,” Yue Yuen spokesman George Liu said.

 [...] “We are not quite sure who to come to a deal with,” Liu said, adding that the dispute was having an impact on production and the company has made contingency plans to shift work to its other factories in Vietnam and Indonesia.

[...]He said workers are worried about losing their jobs but are unwilling to accept the Yue Yuen offer.

“As far as I know, none of the workers around me would like to accept the offer,” Cui said. “Some have worked there for more than 10 years, and in this case, they need to pay like 20,000 to 30,000 yuan (to make up the missed social security payments). It is too hard for the workers.” [Source]

 

 

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Sensitive Words; Xi Jinping’s First Wife, More

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 17:57

As of April 22, the following search terms are blocked on Sina Weibo (not including the “search for user” function).

Via CDT Chinese.

Browse all of CDT’s collected sensitive words.

All Chinese-language words are tested using simplified characters. The same terms in traditional characters occasionally return different results.

CDT Chinese runs a project that crowd-sources filtered keywords on  search. CDT independently tests the keywords before posting them, but some searches later become accessible again. We welcome readers to contribute to this project so that we can include the most up-to-date information.

Have a sensitive word tip? Submit it to CDT through this form:

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The Perils of Going Online in Xinjiang

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 15:16

In July 2009, following violent riots in Urumqi, authorities shut off Internet access throughout the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region for 10 months. Almost five years later, Internet activity by Uyghurs is still tightly monitored. For Foreign Policy, Alexa Olesen writes about the Uyghur language Internet, where the minority group “struggles to be heard online”:

This is the Uighur web. The space can be defined as the Internet as it exists within the borders of China’s far western autonomous region of Xinjiang, the homeland of the Turkic-language-speaking, mostly Muslim Uighur minority. It can also be seen as the Uighur-focused Internet perused by Uighurs across China. In both cases, content and access are tightly controlled.

Because of sporadic violence that the Chinese government blames on a simmering separatist movement, authorities are vigilant about scouring the Uighur web for material that they think could incite unrest. After ethnic riots in the regional capital of Urumqi left at least 197 people dead in July 2009, Xinjiang’s web was unplugged for 10 months, stranding 22 million people of all ethnicities offline.

Xinjiang has “gained independence on the Internet, separated from the Internet world,” blogged journalist and blogger Wang Dahao wryly a few months into the shutdown. “It was absolutely unbearable,” Zheng Liang, a lecturer at Xinjiang University in Urumqi, who researches media and ethnic minorities, told Foreign Policy. “I had to fly to another province to get to my emails.”

[...] A few months after the Urumqi violence, Xinjiang approved a law that made it a crime to post comments about independence or separatism online (the regional law reinforced already existing national legislation that bars seditious talk in cyberspace). The law also required Internet service providers and network operators to monitor and report any lawbreakers. This has put “intense political pressure” on webmasters and dissuaded people from opening new sites, said Alim Seytoff, president of the Uyghur American Association, in an interview with FP. “It can be very risky to open a website,” Seytoff said. “If you have a chat room and in the middle of the night somebody posts something seditious, the next day the webmaster will have a big problem.” [Source]

Academic Ilham Tohti is currently in detention on charges of separatism, partly for his role editing Uyghur Online, a website about Xinjiang affairs.

Meanwhile, Xinhua has published a rose-colored portrait of life in Xinjiang under the 2009 Internet closure:

As a result, life for those living in Xinjiang changed abruptly after the July 5 riot.

In the eyes of a local college student surnamed Wang, almost all Internet bars in Urumqi at that time were transformed into game rooms overnight. “Otaku,” or young people who surf the web all day, left their homes to hang out with friends in restaurants, drinking beer and feasting on mutton kebabs.

Video shops that had been on the verge of extinction were revived, with customers flooding in to rent movies. Every film, blockbuster or not, became a sell-out in local cinemas.

Wang himself became a frequenter of KTVs, or karaoke bars. “My singing skills were honed during that time,” he said. [Source]

But Josh, an American who has lived in Xinjiang since 2006, offered an alternative account of life during those ten months on his blog Far West China:

Once September rolled around and it started to sink in that this might not be “temporary” after all, the newest topic of casual conversation among friends became “What work-around have you found or heard about?”

I heard of many people (especially Uyghur who had family abroad) would would call a friend in Beijing or Shanghai and have them literally hold the phone next to a second phone they had used to call internationally. The connection was poor, but it worked.

Satellite connections were another option that I heard mentioned more than once, but not only did it have the potential to get you in real trouble, it was also incredibly expensive. There was no way the average Xinjiang person could afford a 10,000+ RMB option. I know I couldn’t.

There was one work-around I came across that ended up working well – a dial-up internet connection via a long-distance call to Beijing. It was unbelievably slow and it wasn’t cheap – each minute was charged both long-distance fees and internet usage fees – but it worked. Every day I was able to connect for about 5-10 minutes at most to send emails and try to fix banking problems back at home. [Source]

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Zhou Yongkang’s Hometown Rises To His Defense

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

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

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 12:05

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Rongjiang County, Guizhou Province

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Minitrue: VPN Sales and the Property-less

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)

网店铺公开售卖VPN工具,请下架清除。

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)

删除“谁让我们成了无产阶级”视频。

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.

WAR IS PEACE • FREEDOM IS SLAVERY • IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

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25 Years Ago: 100,000 Demand Democracy in Beijing

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 64memo.org]
Read more from Under the Jacaranda Tree.

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China Releases Content Rules for Console Games

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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Criminal Detention Replacing Re-Education Through Labor

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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The Specter of June Fourth

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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Tencent: Tech Giant that Can Rival Facebook and Amazon

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 19:05

Asia’s largest Internet company Tencent, which reached a market value of more than US$100 billion last September, is expanding its reach into international markets. Dorinda Elliott at Fast Company reports:

With one word in 2012, Tencent announced its philosophy of global expansion–and that word was “WeChat,” the friendly English name it gave its international version of Weixin. WeChat, an app with many of Weixin’s most popular chat functions, was marketed aggressively across Southeast Asia, and results were strong: It gained more than 100 million users outside China by last summer, and it was the second-most-downloaded app in India in 2013.

But despite WeChat not being so explicitly Chinese, the shadow of the Chinese government has followed it. India’s government has expressed concern that the app poses a “security threat.” Tibetan activists outside China tell their community to switch to other messaging services. Hu Jia, a Chinese dissident, who has claimed that Chinese officials knew about things that he had communicated only on WeChat, has called it “a monitoring weapon in your pocket.”

[...] For now, Tencent’s public moves in the U.S. tell a cautious tale of small-time acquisitions and investments. Mostly, the company seems interested in startups whose technologies might be useful to Tencent back home. It participated in a $22 million funding last fall for Plain Vanilla Games, which had just launched QuizUp, a super successful multi-user mobile quiz game. “Tencent has been less focused than other investors on strategies of prevaluation and growth multipliers and profit,” says Thor Fridriksson, Plain Vanilla’s founder. “They say, ‘Don’t worry about revenue right now; just focus on the user experience.’” [Source]

Read more on China’s surveillance of Tibet activists, Hu Jia’s and others’ suspicions of monitoring on WeChat, and a reported crackdown on the platform last month, via CDT.

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Photo: Pigeons riding a bike, by Gaël Hurlimann

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 13:30

Pigeons riding a bike

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Rage Against the Machine, or Work Within It?

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 13:17

Reviewing Emily Parker’s Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices from the Internet Underground at the Los Angeles Review of Books, Jason Q. Ng focuses on Parker’s comparison between two prominent online figures and their opposing approaches to Internet activism in China:

In what was no doubt many parts tenacious networking and one part good fortune, she connects with two “rightist” bloggers who in some ways are perfect foils for each other: Michael Anti and He Caitou. (In Chinese politics, “right” roughly corresponds to progressive in the US sense. Leftist voices — generally speaking conservatives who advocate support for today’s Communist Party leaders, lionize earlier ones such as Mao, or both — are not included in this book.) Anti (a pseudonym: his real name is Zhao Jing) is a “democratic” firebrand whose blog was famously shut down by Microsoft in 2005 after he called for a boycott of a Beijing newspaper. By contrast, He Caitou is a “liberal” reformer whose more moderate and playfully commercial approach to blogging has simultaneously earned him respect, snickers, and outright contempt. Anti disdains Chinese social media and the need to chat in code to the public and instead primarily uses Twitter to speak directly to foreigners and countrymen enlightened enough to have jumped the Great Firewall. He Caitou, who worked at Tencent, a Chinese company best known for its web-based and mobile chat services QQ and WeChat, doesn’t bother communicating through Twitter and instead devotes his time speaking to an almost exclusively Chinese audience through Weibo. Through the two of them, a fascinating debate plays out over how best to organize netizens in order to achieve a more open China: rage against the machine or work within the system?

[… I]n many ways, picking your battles and living to fight another day is a more realistic option today for most Chinese netizens than agitating for wholesale replacement and suffering potentially devastating consequences. Even Anti notes in a message to journalists thinking of becoming activists that our individual situations dictate what sort of efforts we can make on behalf of greater freedom. As he tells enterprising reporters who are thinking of sacrificing their livelihoods to join the cause, “We cannot starve to death” — a reminder that even for a man who personally declares himself unwilling to compromise, sometimes concern for one’s fellow comrades trumps all. [Source]

See also Andreas Fulda’s similar comparison last year between “establishment intellectual” Yu Jianrong and “libertarian activists like Liu Xiaobo and artist Ai Weiwei.”

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Mexico, China, and Life After One-Party Rule

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 12:36

Foreign Policy’s Isaac Stone Fish explores the argument, proposed by former Mexican ambassador to China Jorge Guajardo in January, that the end of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)’s monopoly on power in Mexico offers more apt lessons for the CCP than the fall of the Soviet Communist Party. China’s current rulers seem to view their own fall from power as an apocalyptic scenario; but the PRI’s survival of its ousting and its subsequent re-election offer alternative prospects.

[… T]he CCP continues to fixate on comparisons with the shambolic USSR. A six-part party-made documentary about the Soviet Union’s collapse, based on a 2012 book, has recently been shown at dozens of political meetings. The movie begins with a narrator warning, “On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the death of the Soviet Union and its party, we are walking on the same ground.” And in a December 2012 speech, Xi reportedly told party insiders. “Why did the Soviet Union disintegrate? Why did the Soviet Communist Party collapse? An important reason was that their ideals and convictions wavered.” But by obsessing over the USSR, “I think they’re looking at the wrong example,” says Jorge Guajardo, who served as Mexico’s ambassador to China from 2007 to 2013. In hindsight, he told Foreign Policy, “living in China on a daily basis felt like living in Mexico under the PRI.”

Guajardo remembers watching the celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party on Oct. 1, 2009, held on the Avenue of Eternal Peace in central Beijing. The celebrations – meant to communicate longevity and legitimacy – featured a military parade of 10,000 troops, where then-Chinese President Hu Jintao declaimed the oft-spoken slogan “gongchandang wansui”– literally, “Ten thousand years for the CCP.” The CCP’s confidence – and that of his fellow ambassadors, who seemed to believe that that the CCP would govern in perpetuity – reminded Guajardo of the PRI. “Everyone agreed that Mexico was governed by one party, and that it would be that way forever,” he said. (In 1995, Guajardo joined the opposition National Action Party [PAN], whose victory in the 2000 elections ended the PRI’s monopoly on power.) [Source]

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Photo: In Chengdu, by paolobarzman

Sun, 04/20/2014 - 22:06
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China Silent On Fatal Kunming Railway Knife Attack

Sun, 04/20/2014 - 21:59

Julie Makinen reports for The Los Angeles Times on the Chinese government’s silence after the March Kunming railway knife attacks which took the lives of 29 and injured more than 140:

Reporters leaped into action, gathering details from victims in their hospital beds. President Xi Jinping urged all-out efforts to investigate the slaughter. The incident was quickly dubbed “China’s 9/11.”

But by nightfall Monday, the state-run New China News Agency signaled that it was time to move on. “Kunming railway station serious violent terror case is successfully solved,” its headline said.

The public was left with just basic details, and since, there has been a deafening silence that has frustrated families of the victims. Analysts say China’s approach reflects a mix of embarrassment, self-interest and legitimate counter-terrorism strategy. At the same time, activist groups that normally would challenge authorities have their own reasons for not pushing for fuller disclosure.

[...] Whom can we ask? No one will respond,” said Yang Tao, a Beijing lawyer whose cousin, Wang Kaikai, was slain. “The government will control what’s released, and there are a lot of things they don’t want you to know.”

In contrast, families of the 153 Chinese passengers on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared a week after the Kunming attack, have received wall-to-wall media coverage and official attention. [Source]

See CDT’s liveblog of the attacks in Kunming.

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Zhou Yongkang’s Riches: Real Threat To Xi Jinping?

Sun, 04/20/2014 - 21:54

Xi Jinping’s “bold maneuver” to purge former security chief Zhou Yongkang from the Party may have had more to do with the former top security official’s widespread opulence than with his politics, according to “one school of thought.”  In an extensive investigation for the New York Times, Michael Forsythe, Chris Buckley and Jonathan Ansfield look into the accumulation of wealth by Zhou’s extended family, many of whom have been detained in a widening corruption inquiry:

Some political analysts argue that a leader of Mr. Zhou’s status would not face an inquiry of this kind unless Mr. Xi regarded him as a direct threat to his power. In other words, Mr. Zhou is the loser in a political struggle. His family’s financial dealings lost their immunity only because Mr. Zhou fell from favor, not because elite business dealings were being criminalized.

But another school of thought is that Mr. Xi considers the enormous agglomeration of wealth by spouses, children and siblings of top-ranking officials a threat to China’s stability by encouraging mercenary corruption and harming the party’s public standing. Those people say he has pushed the Zhou investigation beyond traditional bounds to signal that the rules have changed and that top leaders will be held responsible for their family’s business activities, even though Mr. Xi’s own family members have been among those who have grown rich.

If that is so, the case has the potential to alter the political compact of China’s boom years. For many elite clans, like Mr. Zhou’s, acquiring stakes in lucrative enterprises that did business in the realm that the family patriarch supervised was not effectively banned — and sometimes not even well disguised.

[...] “Because of his connections to energy, land and the internal security system, in effect the family had kind of carte blanche to go into anything they wanted,” said Andrew Wedeman, a professor of political science at Georgia State University who studies corruption in China. [Source]

In a separate blog post on the New York Times’ Sinosphere, Forsythe, Ansfield and Buckley explain how they obtained the information for their article from public records.

See also Matt Schiavenza’s argument in The Atlantic earlier this month that “Zhou Yongkang’s problems are almost purely the result of maneuverings within elite Chinese politics.”  Read more about Zhou Yongkang and his fall from grace via CDT.

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Minitrue: Mistresses, Housing, and Handshakes

Sat, 04/19/2014 - 18:49

The following censorship instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. 

State Council Information Office: All websites are to find and delete the following articles: (1) “Shen Weichen’s Mistress is Shanxi Singer Tan Jing, Husband Reveals”; (2) Real Estate Developer Flees Gu Junshan’s Sinking Ship; Gu and Greentown‘s Song Weiping Intersected”; (3) “Li Keqiang Meets Chinese and Foreign Entrepreneurs at Boao, Shakes Hands with Li Xiaolin” and related photos. Do not hype the story “Eight Years Needed to Absorb Housing Stock in Haining, Zhejiang; Developers Say [Local Market] Will Collapse.” (April 18, 2014)

国信办:全网查删以下文章:1,《曝申维辰情妇山西籍著名歌手谭晶老公揭秘》;2,《谷俊山翻船引开发商外逃 曾与绿城宋卫平有交集》;3,《李克强博鳌会见中外企业家并与李小琳握手》及相关图片。《浙江海宁楼盘库存消化需8年 房企称就要崩盘》一文不炒作。

Chinese journalists and bloggers often refer to these instructions as “Directives from the Ministry of Truth.”

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.

WAR IS PEACE • FREEDOM IS SLAVERY • IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

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