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Updated: 49 min 49 sec ago

Photo: Figures, Lama Temple, by Anne H.

2 hours 27 min ago

Figures, Lama Temple

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Minitrue: ‘Blue’ Captures ‘Red’ in PLA Exercise

7 hours 34 min ago

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.

Please find and delete the article “In PLA Exercises, ‘Blue Army’ Captures ‘Red Army’ Commander with Cabbage Ruse.” (September 1, 2014)

请检查删除“解放军演习蓝军假扮慰问团送白菜活捉红军司令”一文。

On August 28, the state-run Global Times published an article [Chinese] on a PLA military exercise in which the “blue army” (representing an opposing force) used a ruse to capture the commanding officer of the “red army” (representing China’s PLA). In this summer’s PLA exercises, “blue” teams have met resounding success over their “red” opponents; last month in The Telegraph, Malcolm Moore reported that while war games had been previously scripted in favor of the “red army,” this year’s exercises have been more spontaneous.

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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Minitrue: Beijing’s Decision on Hong Kong Elections

8 hours 20 min ago

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.

Regarding the National People’s Congress Standing Committee decision on election of the chief executive of the Hong Kong S.A.R., as well as the so-called “Occupy Central Movement,” use coverage by authoritative, central government media as the standard. All Internet platforms must take care to check related content and commentary. (September 1, 2014)

对人大会常委会关于香港特别行政区行政长官普选办法公布、以及所谓“占中行动”报道均以中央权威媒体报道为准,各网络平台对相关信息及评论要注意审核。

After months of high-profile dispute in Hong Kong between pro-Beijing and pan-democratic camps about electoral reforms for the 2017 election of the semi-autonomous region’s chief executive, the Party legislature released its rules on the election yesterday, dashing the hopes of democracy activists—while candidates will be chosen by voters for the first time, they must first be approved by a Beijing-aligned committee. Occupy Central With Love and Peace, the loose-knit activism campaign responsible for organizing several recent protests and the unofficial referendum that so irked Beijing earlier this summer, is ready to live up to promises to take control of the region’s central business district.

State media is hailing Beijing’s decision to “grant universal suffrage [...] on the basis of nomination by a ‘broadly representative’ committee.”

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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Beijing Rules Out Democratic Reforms for Hong Kong

18 hours 28 min ago

For months, pro-democracy groups in Hong Kong have been escalating their demands for universal suffrage and other democratic reforms as Beijing has steadily tightened its control over the territory. On Sunday, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee dashed any hopes for democracy when it outlined the structure of future elections for chief executive, saying the position would be chosen by popular vote, but only after all candidates won the endorsement of more than half of a committee that is aligned with Beijing. Stuart Leavenworth at McClatchy reports:

Since it was reunited with China in 1997, Hong Kong has enjoyed a semi-autonomous status, with freedoms of assembly and speech that residents on the mainland can only dream about. But China’s recent actions towards the former British colony has alarmed many Hong Kongers that they may soon lose rights they took for granted.

At issue is Beijing’s interpretation of Hong Kong’s “basic law,” a type of constitution that resulted from Great Britain’s decision to return the territory to China in 1984. The basic law includes language granting Hong Kong a “high degree” of autonomy, including the ability of residents to elect their chief executive in 2017.

How that election will be conducted is now in dispute. Activists in Hong Kong want groups and political parties in Hong Kong to be free to nominate their own candidates. Beijing officials and state media have said for months that will lead to chaos and is in violation of basic law.

On Sunday, the National People’s Congress affirmed that position, meaning that a Hong Kong committee seen as beholden to Beijing will decide which two or three candidates can vie for Hong Kong’s top office. The nominating rules released Sunday require that candidates both “love the country (China)” and “love Hong Kong.” [Source]

For the New York Times, Chris Buckley and Michael Forsythe report:

The decision by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee drew battle lines in what pro-democracy groups warned would be a deepening confrontation over the political future of the city and of China. The committee demanded procedural barriers for candidates for the city’s leader that would ensure Beijing remained the gatekeeper to that position — and to political power over the city.

Li Fei, a deputy secretary general of the committee, told a news conference in Beijing that the nominating guidelines — including a requirement that candidates “love the country, and love Hong Kong” — would “protect the broad stability of Hong Kong now and in the future.”

The move closes one of the few avenues left for gradual political liberalization in China after a sustained campaign against dissent on the mainland this year under President Xi Jinping. In pressing its offensive in Hong Kong, Beijing has chosen a showdown with a protest movement unlike any it has ever faced on the mainland. [Source]

Li Fei’s press conference was the scene of a vigorous protest:

Hong Kong protesters heckle Beijing's man as he explains rules on 2017 vote http://t.co/0AzhGeWzAP pic.twitter.com/b4jFcTcbek

— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) September 1, 2014


Reuters’ Clare Jim describes the scene when security officers used pepper spray on protesters:

Dressed in black and wearing yellow ribbons, members of the democratic camp were escorted out of the auditorium after they shouted and held up signs reading “shameful” and saying Beijing had lost credibility.

Pro-establishment people in the crowd clapped as the democrats were led out.

Alex Chow, the head of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, was escorted out jeering and heckling. Student activists said they would begin boycotting classes in mid-September and that students at 11 schools had confirmed their participation.

About 100 activists had gathered for Li’s speech, some waving British colonial flags and banners with an “X” over the Chinese characters for “communism” amid a heavy police presence.

A group of Beijing loyalists stood nearby waving China’s flag. [Source]

Occupy Central, the group which has been the primary organizing force behind recent pro-democracy protests, vowed to launch a number of civil disobedience actions in response to Beijing’s decision, including a takeover of the city’s financial district and student strikes. From the BBC:

Angry democracy activists vowed to take over the Central business district.

Co-founder of the Occupy Central protest group, Benny Tai Yiu-ting, said: “This is the end of any dialogue. In the next few weeks, Occupy Central will start wave after wave of action.

“We will organise a full-scale act of occupying Central.”

On Sunday a group of pro-democracy supporters protested in a park in front of Hong Kong government headquarters.

One protester, Henry Chung, told Agence France-Presse: “I am very sad. We have waited so many years. But now we have nothing.” [Source]

The guidelines issued by Beijing will create the framework for an election reform bill that will be voted on by Hong Kong’s Legislative Council. But pro-democracy representatives in the LegCo are vowing to veto the plan. Jeffie Lam reports for the South China Morning Post:

The government is expected to put forward a concrete reform plan later this year, and must win a two-thirds majority in the 70-strong Legislative Council, meaning at least four pan-democrats must break ranks and vote “yea” for the plan to pass.

But the 27 pan-democrats in the Legislative Council now stand in a united front, vowing to veto the plan after watching the live broadcast from Beijing where Li Fei, Basic Law Committee’s chairman, spelled out the framework approved by the Chinese parliament on Sunday afternoon.

“Our allies in the Legco are very determined to veto such a disgusting reform proposal,” said Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing, who said Beijing was “full of lies”.

She said universal suffrage went beyond “one person, one vote” where any true democratic election should offer voters a real choice of candidates. [Source]

In his South China Morning Post column, Peter Guy argues that the struggle for Hong Kong’s future is less about democracy and more about who controls the economy:

Hong Kong faces its equivalent of a constitutional crisis that will define its future. The only contributions from our government and business elites are either stern and condescending admonitions or a taunting look inside the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

At last, someone influential explained that Hong Kong and Beijing’s struggle was not for democratic principles or process, but for who had the right to control Hong Kong’s economy and industry. It was always about money.

Speaking in Hong Kong last week, Wang Zhenmin, a dean of Tsinghua University Law School and a former member of the Basic Law Committee who acts as an adviser to the central government, defended the plan, saying: “Less-than-perfect universal suffrage is better than no universal suffrage.”

[...] Hong Kong has always been a practical and capitalistic society where democracy is an abstract, foreign concept because it was never available. After all, democracy is a difficult concept to define and describe in both theory and practice. But people do know when their basic rights as free people are denied or infringed upon. [Source]

Xinhua defended the decision, citing a People’s Daily editorial:

An editorial carried by the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China hailed the landmark decision as a major legal decision as well as a major political resolution.

The editorial said the decision was legal, fair and reasonable as it was made in accordance with the Constitution and the Hong Kong Basic Law. It also responded to mainstream opinions in Hong Kong society and complies with the region’s realities and common wishes of the public, according to the editorial.

The editorial said universal suffrage in the selection of the HKSAR chief executive, which has been the most important political issue since Hong Kong’s return to China in 1997, is important for the “one country, two systems” policy as well as national sovereignty and security.

The key point at stake was whether to abide by the Basic Law and whether Hong Kong should be governed by those who “love the country and love Hong Kong,” it said. [Source]

Read the full text of the Standing Committee decision.

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Minitrue: Laser Pointer on Li Keqiang

Sun, 08/31/2014 - 07:48

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.

Delete content related to “laser pointer shone on Li Keqiang at Youth Olympics closing ceremony.” (August 31, 2014)

删除“青奥闭幕式上李克强被人用激光笔照射”有关内容。

A South Korean athlete shined his laser pointer on Le Keqiang during the closing ceremony of the Youth Olympics in Nanjing last week. “Keqiang + laser pointer” (克强+激光笔) is currently blocked from Weibo search results.

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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Tencent Shuts Messaging Accounts After New Rules

Fri, 08/29/2014 - 22:57

Reuters reports that more than 300 mobile accounts on WeChat have been suspended or permanently disabled by its parent company, Tencent Holdings, Ltd. The account suspensions were implemented to comply with new regulations imposed by the Xi administration to curb the spread of political news online:

China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd has suspended more than 300 accounts on its WeChat mobile messaging app and banned around 40 others as government restrictions on spreading political news online take effect, state media said on Friday.

Earlier this month, China imposed new rules on what kind of information can be spread via instant messaging apps as well as restrictions on accounts which can broadcast news to large numbers of followers.

Of the 357 accounts closed down by Tencent as of August 25, 46 were permanently banned while the rest were suspended, the official Xinhua news agency said on its microblog.

[...] Observers say President Xi Jinping is presiding over the worst crackdown on the internet and online censorship in China in recent memory. Xi also heads the Central Internet Security and Informatisation Leading Group, an internet security body whose remit includes building China into a cyber power, according to state media. [Source]

Read more about censorship on WeChat and Internet control under President Xi Jinping, via CDT.

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Detained Canadian Couple Accused of Spying

Fri, 08/29/2014 - 22:51

Global Times, a Communist Party mouthpiece, has published an infographic listing Canadian citizens Kevin and Julia Garratt as spies in disguise. The Garratts, who ran a coffee shop in Dandong and organized humanitarian aid trips to North Korea, were detained earlier this month by Chinese authorities for suspected theft of military and defense research secrets. Nathan VanderKlippe at the Globe and Mail reports:

The Garratts were spies in disguise as ordinary citizens, the graphic claims. It lists “targeting areas to collect information while disguised as ordinary citizens” as surveillance that is one of the “regular missions of spies.”

[...] The Global Times graphic places the Garratts in the company of Wang Qingjian, a People’s Liberation Army senior colonel who was working for Japan and helped to bug the office of the Chinese ambassador in Tokyo; of Cai Xiaohong, a senior Chinese official in Hong Kong who was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to give secrets to the British; and of Lu Jianhua, a sociologist who established ties with the Chinese president’s office and was sentenced to 20 years in jail for passing secrets to the U.S., Japan and Taiwan.

According to the Global Times, punishment for state secrets violations can include deportation for diplomatic staff, an exchange of spies, up to seven years in jail for “intentionally or negligently” divulging state secrets, or death for “stealing, spying or purchasing military secrets for agencies, organizations or individuals outside China.” [Source]

The Global Times’ publication, titled “Peeking in China: Spying targets and tactics,” can be accessed here.

The Garratts’ children have strongly denied the accusations against their parents. Other observers have linked their detention to a broader crackdown on Christian groups on the North Korea border, as the couple were known to be active Christians. Read more about their case via CDT.

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Photo: School Children, Shanghai, 1980, by Terry Feuerborn

Fri, 08/29/2014 - 13:27

School Children, Shanghai, 1980

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Sensitive Words: Lasers on Li, Anti-Corruption, More

Fri, 08/29/2014 - 13:22

As of August 15, the following search terms were blocked on Sina Weibo (not including the “search for user” function).

Lasers on Li Keqiang 

 

Anti-Corruption Campaign

 

Also Blocked

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 Sina Weibo 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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Halting Wrongful Convictions a “Tough Task”

Fri, 08/29/2014 - 12:05

South China Morning Post’s Mandy Zuo reports on comments by China’s top prosecutor Cao Jianming about avoiding wrongful convictions, which can arise from problems such as political interference and forced confessions.

Taking strict precautions against such mistakes “is the fundamental requirement for the political and judicial bodies [such as procuratorate and courts]”, said Cao, Procurator-General of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, according to a report in the influential news magazine Caixin.

[…] Cao said wrongful convictions in recent years could be blamed on the biased mindset of some judiciary officials.

Problems included people’s presumption of guilty, excessive emphasis on testimonies, and more importance being placed on evidence to find someone guilty rather than to find someone innocent, Cao said.

“Illegal evidence should be excluded by law and for uncertain cases [and] we should stick with presumption of innocence,” he was quoted as saying. [Source]

Cao noted the case of Zhang Gaoping and Zhang Hui, who were acquitted last year after being convicted of rape and murder in 2004 based on forced confessions. More recently, Nian Bin was sentenced to death for murder in repeated retrials until his acquittal last week. This week Nian’s family called for an official investigation. From SCMP’s Echo Hui:

Nian Bin, a 38-year-old hawker, was arrested for the murder of two children with rat poison in 2006 in Fujian province. He supposedly pleaded guilty, but after he was convicted in 2008 by the Fuzhou Intermediate Court, he appealed, claiming police had tortured him into confessing.

[…] From a legal perspective, executing an innocent is not uncommon on the mainland. Last year, Supreme People’s Court executive vice-president Shen Deyong urged an end to wrongful convictions after high-profile cases were overturned in high courts in Henan, Zhejiang and Fujian.

Zhang Yansheng, Nian Bin’s leading defence lawyer, said it’s time authorities began to correct the flaws in China’s justice system. He said defence lawyers must be given equal status with prosecutors, and the court system must become independent. [Source]

China has already announced some reforms to boost judicial independence, but observers are skeptical about these and other rule of law initiatives.

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Minitrue: Mum on Beijing Indie Film Fest Shut Down

Fri, 08/29/2014 - 10:01

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.

Find and delete the article “11th Beijing Independent Film Festival Shut Down” and related content. (August 29)

查删”第十一届北京独立影像展被封杀”以及相关内容。

Police shut down the film festival on its opening day. AP video journalist Hélène Franchineau reported that police “broke my video camera, threw water at reporters, threatened us for filming, grabbed cell phones and yelled at everyone.” Li Xianting, the organizer of the festival, and festival artistic director Wang Hongwei were briefly detained by the police. Film director Huang Wenhai called the shutdown of this year’s film festival “the darkest day in the history of Chinese independent film.

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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Badiucao (巴丢草):Red Dentist

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 23:39

For his latest cartoon contribution, Badiucao comments on the health condition of human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who was recently released after three years in jail. Upon his release, Gao’s family and supporters expressed concern that he had been mistreated in detention; his wife told reporters that the poor condition of his teeth indicated that he had been tortured. In the drawing, Gao is seen undergoing a dental check, with the “red” dentist wielding a hammer and sickle in place of dental instruments.

Red Dentist, by Badiucao for CDT:

Read more about Gao Zhisheng via CDT. Read also a CDT Q&A with Badiucao in which he discusses his artistic and personal influences. All Badiucao cartoons for CDT are available here. See also exclusive CDT t-shirts with a Badiucao design, for sale on our Zazzle store.

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Political News Site Scolded for ‘Incorrect Practices’

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 16:10

The South China Morning Post reports that the newly launched political news website ThePaper.cn (澎湃) has been issued a “stern warning” by central government propaganda officials:

Thepaper.cn, widely perceived as a key player in President Xi Jinping’s vision to establish a “new media” industry, was scolded for “improper practices” by the Cultural Security and Ideology Construction Research Centre – but there were scant details on what those mistakes were.

“The central government officials and relevant departments have conveyed stern criticism of the thepaper.cn for a series of improper practises and requested rectification,” the centre, affiliated to the nation’s main think tank Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said on its verified Weibo account.

It reminded all news media to stick to the “bottom line” before they innovate their reporting and warned that “no media is exceptional” or exempt from the rules.

[...] The Shanghai United Media Group [thepaper.cn's state-run operator] is one of the contenders of the ‘new media national team’ that [the] government is keen to endorse,” he said. “So the website’s prospect is unlikely to be affected by what this [warning] has indicated.”

He said it was hard to pinpoint what the website had done to irk the propaganda department. [Source]

Government control of the media—including print, digital, and social media—has been steadily increasing under President Xi Jinping. Earlier this month, Xi called for the establishment of new “strong, influential and credible” media organizations.

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HK Told to Seek a ‘Less Perfect’ Democracy; Graft Cops Raid Pro-Democracy Media Boss’ Home

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 15:32

Concerns over the allowance of universal suffrage in upcoming Hong Kong elections have put tensions between Beijing and the semi-autonomous region on display in recent months. Longstanding concerns from the pro-democracy camp were heightened in June after the State Council Information Office released a white paper asserting “complete jurisdiction” over Hong Kong, and suggesting that a “basic political requirement” for the city’s judiciary was a “love for China.” Since then, pro-Beijing and pro-democracy camps have been staging protest rallies and circulating petitions that reflect their competing visions of Hong Kong’s future.

As Hong Kong waits anxiously for Beijing to announce a proposal on rules for the 2017 election of chief executive, the New York Times reports that top Hong Kong adviser Wang Zhemin delivered a speech in Hong Kong aimed at soothing lingering concerns among both of Hong Kong’s ideological camps:

Speaking in Hong Kong on Thursday, Wang Zhenmin, dean of the law school at Tsinghua University in Beijing, who advises the central government on Hong Kong issues, said “no democracy in the world” was perfect.

“The overwhelming majority of the people in Hong Kong and the central authorities would like to see universal suffrage in 2017,” he said. “We should not let the people down. More is less, less is more. Less perfect universal suffrage is better than no universal suffrage. Leave some room for future growth.”

[...] Mr. Wang, who visited Hong Kong under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make its case for the new rules, also assured Hong Kong residents that contrary to published reports, the territory’s independent courts would be respected and flourish in coming years, as China itself moved toward a more rules-based system. He said reports that judges would be subject to a political requirement of “loving the country” were the result of mistranslations of a Chinese white paper.

[...] In an unusual theoretical leap for a state that is still at least nominally socialist, Mr. Wang suggested one reason to keep control of the nomination process was to protect the interests of its capitalist class. [...] [Source]

Amid competing views of Hong Kong democracy, the HK Journalists Association recently declared 2014 the “darkest for press freedom for several decades.” Last month, pro-democracy website House News shut down due to a combination of political pressure and low advertising revenue; also, pro-democratic Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai said that millions of advertising dollars had been pulled from the popular paper following their overage of recent protests. Later, several pro-Beijing newspapers published documents hacked from Lai’s personal computer showing his donations to pan-democratic parties and sparking bribery concerns among pro-Beijing lawmakers. Yesterday, Jimmy Lai’s Hong Kong residence was raided by anti-corruption officers, as was the home of HK Labour Party chairman and pro-democracy lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan. From the AP:

Hong Kong anti-corruption police on Thursday searched the homes of a media magnate who is an outspoken critic of Beijing and a pro-democracy legislator after receiving a complaint alleging that lawmakers had taken bribes.

Wielding search warrants, officers from the Independent Commission Against Corruption [ICAC] paid a morning visit to the homes of Jimmy Lai and Lai’s top aide Mark Simon, Simon said. Pro-democracy lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan’s home and office also were searched.

The timing raised eyebrows because it comes days before a key decision by Beijing on direct elections for the leader of Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China. It also comes a month after a trove of documents was leaked to competing news outlets detailing big donations by Lai to local pro-democracy political parties and politicians, including Lee.

[...] Lai told reporters camped outside his home in an upscale neighborhood that “ICAC was here.”

“They’ve all gone now and there is no further comment,” he said.

Lai’s company Next Media owns popular newspaper Apple Daily, which is frequently critical of Beijing. [Source]

The New York Times has more on the reasoning behind the ICAC’s raids:

In a public statement issued Thursday evening, the Independent Commission Against Corruption said that four premises had been searched during the day after the agency obtained warrants from the Court of First Instance. The investigation began after the agency received notices that alleged some legislators had violated an antibribery law, the statement said, although it did not name the parties involved.

[...] It was not known which of Mr. Lai’s donations was under investigation. Hong Kong has no laws specifically requiring the disclosure of donations to political parties, but some legislators alleged to have received donations from Mr. Lai did not declare them as the legislature’s rules would require.

[...] Mr. Lee, the legislator, said that the search of his office and apartment was prompted by Mr. Lai’s donation and about remarks that Mr. Lee made during a legislative debate on press freedom in January, in which he mentioned the withdrawal of ads from Apple Daily. [Source]

The central government is currently holding meetings in Beijing on the 2017 election of Hong Kong’s chief executive; their proposals are expected to be announced on Sunday, and pro-democracy activists are planning a rally to follow. For more on the political situation in Hong Kong, see commentary on the region’s uneasy resource dependence on the mainland from Tea Leaf Nation; or on contradicting definitions of patriotism in Hong Kong and Beijing from the South China Morning Post. Also see prior CDT coverage of Hong Kong democracy.

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What a Strong Earthquake Does in China vs. the U.S.

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 14:53

A video from Vox’s Joss Fong explains why the 6.1 magnitude earthquake in Yunnan this month did so much more damage than last week’s 6.0 magnitude quake in northern California. The former killed 619 and destroyed 25,800 homes, while there were no fatalities from the latter, and only four homes were destroyed. Much of the difference results from higher building standards in the U.S.. The problem of corner-cutting “tofu dregs construction” has been particularly acute in school buildings in poor rural areas, leading to a disproportionate number of children among the 88,000 casualties of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. (Some activists were imprisoned after investigating the issue.) The consequences of weaker construction standards are also evident in local comparisons: the Sichuan disaster showed a strong disparity between building safety in wealthier and poorer neighborhoods.

The U.S. Geological Survey notes that in Yunnan, landslides caused by a combination of the quake and heavy rain also contributed to the damage.

The magnitudes of the two quakes were less similar than they may appear because they are measured on a logarithmic scale: a 6.1 earthquake is 40% more energetic than one of 6.0. Moreover, magnitude is not the only factor in a quake’s intensity—the violence of shaking on the surface—which can vary from place to place depending on local geology. Nevertheless, the basic point of the comparison stands: the average death toll of American earthquakes since 1980 has been vastly lower than China’s, at 3 to 609.

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Murong Xuecun Targeted in Twitter Smear Campaign

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 14:46

In what appears to be a targeted attack, a ten-part essay smearing Chinese author Murong Xuecun is circulating on Twitter. The essay, “Murong Xuecun’s Previous Life Today” (慕容雪村的前世今生), claims that he is an “inhumane, perverse, fake author” who “foments negative energy in society” and has had several affairs. The essays have been posted and forwarded by newcomers to Twitter with avatars of beautiful young women and men, most likely robots.

多维社区:慕容雪村的前世今生(一):变态伪作家 http://t.co/oRt9fuHnW5

— 徐美丽 (@titusbailey668) August 23, 2014

Duowei Community: Murong Xuecun’s Previous Life Today (1): Perverse Fake Author

慕容雪村的前进今生(四):慕容雪村与烟雨偷情被捉 http://t.co/CGZlqnOv5e — 蓝色海洋lyr (@ejsus2011) August 23, 2014


Murong Xuecun’s Previous Life Today (4): Murong Xuecun Caught in Torrid Love Affair

http://t.co/D241SZvvWV 慕容雪村啥都好,就是人性有点少

— 内蒙古时空 (@vlealijnbeimne) August 25, 2014

Everything’s great about Murong Xuecun, except that’s he’s a bit inhumane.

Murong Xuecun, who first shared his novels online, is also active in human rights. He was invited to a seminar on June 4th while in Australia. While he could not attend, he publicly supported those who did, many of whom were detained immediately afterward—to show solidarity, Murong vowed that he would turn himself into the police upon his return to Beijing. After arriving home, he was detained and interrogated for over eight hours.

At the Hong Kong news site on.cc, Xiang Xiaokai shares his analysis of seven of the defamatory tweets and the users circulating them [Chinese]. Xiang found that the tweets were retweeted about 800 times each by only 160 users, meaning that each user had retweeted the original post multiple times. He also found that the retweets occurred just 20 minutes after the original went up, with retweets following each other in approximately ten-second intervals. All of the users sharing these salacious “details” on Murong Xuecun had opened their accounts on or after January 1, 2014, with nearly 80% were opened after June 1. The users have around 100 followers each, and seem to have formed a “closed community of mutual followers.”

Xiang concludes that these users are robots, accounts set up such that a tweet from one triggers retweets from the others. This concentrated retweet attack “spreads these messages to other users’ timelines in an attempt to get more overseas users to retweet and disseminate” the smear campaign.

Human rights activist Hu Jia explains that “Murong Xuecun’s Previous Life Today” is part of a series of similar attacks:

此前世今生系列,包括王丹的前世今生,胡佳的前世今生,北风的前世今生……@CDTChinese 作家慕容雪村疑遭当局派水军抹黑 :推特上突然出现了一系列共10篇题《慕容雪村的前世今生》的文章,对中国大陆知名作家慕容雪村进行密集攻击… http://t.co/WTpJQkgBJz — Hu Jia 胡佳 (@hu_jia) August 28, 2014

This is a series of “previous lives,” including “Wang Dan’s Previous Life Today,” “Hu Jia’s Previous Life Today,” Bei Feng’s Previous Life Today…”

In July, the advocacy group Free Tibet identified almost 100 fake Twitter accounts spreading suspiciously cheerful news about Tibetans.

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Photo: Untitled, by sojouner º

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 13:22
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Minitrue: Tone Down Military Training Brawl

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 09:44

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 media must take care to tone down coverage of the high school military training conflict in Huangcang, Longshan County, Hunan. Do not continue to hype the story. Delete and control related writing which challenges or criticizes military training. (August 28, 2014)

各媒体对湖南龙山县皇仓中学新生军训冲突事件的内容要注意降温,不得继续炒作,质疑批评军训制度的相关言论加以删控。

A brawl broke out at a military training center between instructors and their students, leaving 42 injured. While the incident has sparked criticism of today’s “spoiled” youth, others think corruption in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is to blame.

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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Photo: Anchang Town, by Minxin Chen

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 21:49
Categories: China

Suicide, Brawl Draw Criticism to School Military Training

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 16:50

According to the PRC Law on National Defense Education, China’s nationwide compulsory military training for high school and university undergraduates, known as the 军训 (jūnxùn), exists “for the purpose of popularizing and strengthening education in national defense, carrying forward the spirit of patriotism, promoting the building of national defense and furthering socialist cultural and ethical progress.” A report from the South China Morning Post notes that two separate recent incidents have sparked a public debate about an institution that has existed since 1955:

China’s compulsory military training for students has come under the spotlight after brawl between Hunan students and their training officers left 42 people injured.

The suicide of a girl in [Liaoning] province, blamed on the criticism she reportedly endured from military training, also added fuel to the debate.

[...] Compulsory military training for first-year high school and university students have been in practice for decades in China. Experts say military training is common practice for secondary school students as well.

However, some experts say military training, in its current form, has deteriorated in quality and relevance. [...] [Source]

At Tea Leaf Nation, Alexa Oleson details the Hunan brawl, and explains how it is being interpreted as proof of both widespread corruption in China’s military and the decadence of the nation’s youth:

The conflict occurred during a week of military training at Huangcang High School in Hunan’s Longshan, a county of half a million people known for its karst caves. (The bulk of Chinese military recruits are rural youth and the unemployed, not students, but military training sessions are routine at high schools and colleges across China.) The incident traced to what several media outlets describe as a playful tiff between a female student and a drill instructor. The liberal Beijing News reported Aug. 26 that the girl’s classmates came to her defense and ended up pinning the instructor in what was then still a light-hearted dispute. According to the report, that impertinence led to punitive pushups later in the day for the class, and when students balked, other drill instructors ended up attacking the male students. A teacher who tried to intervene was also reportedly beaten.

[...] There’s also deep disagreement about the meaning of the incident. On the popular military-themed forum Tiexue.net, sentiment toward the incident was decidedly pro-military, reflecting a widely-held belief that modern Chinese youth are spoiled and egotistical.

[...] So what do the proverbial brats think? On Weibo, a Twitter-like social media platform whose users skew young, the military bore most of the invective. Although the drill instructors in Longshan were from the People’s Armed Forces, the arm of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) responsible for training and recruitment, the Weiborati viewed them as emblematic of the entire PLA. The Chinese military’s image has tarnished in recent months with public announcement of graft charges against high-ranking officers General Xu Caihou and Lieutenant-General Gu Junshan in June and April, respectively. [...] [Source]

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