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Xinjiang Bus Passengers Face Airport-Like Crackdown

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 17:53

New transportation regulations in Xinjiang’s capital city of Urumqi have heightened security presence on public busses and enacted a lengthy list of banned items. These regulations come during a nationwide security campaign in which Xinjiang has been labeled the “frontline of terror.” Urumqi has been the site of two high-profile deadly attacks in recent months—one at the city’s largest train station in April, and the second at a public market in May. Reuters reports:

The new rules in the capital Urumqi, similar to restrictions usually imposed by airlines, reflect how nervous officials are about trying to contain outbreaks of violence in the region, home to the Muslim Uighur minority.

[...] The local government in Urumqi, a city of three million, issued new rules after a transport security meeting, barring passengers from bringing on board liquids, lighters and unknown powders “to strike a severe blow on all forms of criminal activity on public buses,” the state-run Legal Daily said.

Banned substances include gasoline and firecrackers, but also drinking water, cooking oil and yogurt. Restrictions on liquids have been in force for several years on aircraft, aimed at preventing militants from bringing on board sophisticated, hard-to-detect explosives.

The Legal Daily said at least two security guards would conduct hand checks and bag searches at every bus stop on 154 Urumqi bus routes and stop passengers with banned items from boarding.

“Bus drivers have two roles – while successfully carrying out their regular tasks they will also conduct security checks on suspicious individuals,” the newspaper said. [Source]

While several recent attacks in and outside of Xinjiang have been blamed by authorities on separatism and religious extremism, public busses in China have also seen a number of arson attacks on busses clearly not carried out with separatist motives—for example, one in early July in Hangzhou, or one last week in Guangzhou. The South China Morning Post reports that SWAT teams in Beijing are being trained in dealing with bus arsonists as part of new anti-terror measures:

Bus drivers in Beijing have been trained by SWAT officers on how to deal with arsonists, and knife-proof vests and pepper spray were distributed to 21 hospitals in the latest move to step up anti-terrorism in the capital.

Special weapons and tactics officers trained more than 300 bus drivers, telling them how to fight against arsonist suspects in an emergency.

Drivers were taught to yell out to distract arson suspects and “quickly and accurately” seize the hands of suspects holding lighters and push them away, Beijing Youth Daily reported. [...] [Source]

Amid frequent incidents of violence, central government allegations of terrorism, and a nationwide anti-terror campaign that has newly empowered some security officials with firearms, Chinese censors have been carefully managing the media narrative on violence.

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Photo: Lovers’ Cove, Hong Kong, by Owen Lin

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 16:31

Lovers’ Cove, Hong Kong

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What Do Chinese Dumplings Have to Do With Global Warming?

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 16:06

As China faces the latest in a long line of food safety scandals, Nicola Twilley writes at The New York Times Magazine about the booming refrigeration of the country’s food supply chain—a phenomenon with surprisingly broad implications ranging from Chinese cuisine and public health to food security and greenhouse gas emissions.

Chen, who is 72, never planned on being a dumpling mogul. Like almost everyone who came of age during the Cultural Revolution, he didn’t get to choose his profession. He was a “gadget guy” during his high-school years. “I liked building circuits and crystal radios and that sort of thing,” he told me. “I applied to university to study semiconductor electronics.” But the state decided that Chen should become a surgeon, and so he dutifully completed his studies and amused himself in his free time by learning how to cook: He made Sichuan pickles, kung pao chicken and, of course, dumplings. Even after he became vice president of the Second People’s Hospital in Zhengzhou, a provincial city about halfway between Shanghai and Beijing, Chen remained bored with his day job. “I didn’t have enough to keep me busy,” he said, blinking earnestly, hands steepled beneath his chin. “I would wander round inspecting the building, and I had meetings, but I felt as if I spent most of my time reading the newspaper and drinking tea.” He engaged in lots of Rube Goldberg-like tinkering: jury-rigging the hospital’s aging equipment, fixing his neighbors’ radios and even building Zhengzhou’s first washing machine. And he cooked. For decades, his lunar New Year gifts of homemade glutinous rice balls were legendary among friends and neighbors.

[…] Using mechanical parts harvested from the hospital junk pile, Chen built a two-stage freezer that chilled his glutinous rice balls one by one, quickly enough that large ice crystals didn’t form inside the filling and ruin the texture. His first patent covered a production process for the balls themselves; a second was for the packaging that would protect them from freezer burn. Soon enough, Chen realized that both innovations could be applied to pot stickers, too. And so in 1992, against the advice of his entire family, Chen, then 50, quit his hospital job, rented a small former print shop and started China’s first frozen-food business. He named his fledgling dumpling company Sanquan, which is short for the “Third Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China” — the 1978 gathering that marked the country’s first steps toward the open market. [Source]

See more on the current meat scandal, its context and causes from The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Financial Times.

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The Cult of Xi?

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 14:43

During his career as China’s President and Communist Party General Secretary, crackdowns on dissenting Party ideologycorruptioncivil society activism, and liberal online voices have garnered Xi Jinping numerous comparisons to his notoriously heavy-handed predecessor Mao Zedong. According to a recent study [Chinese] by University of Hong Kong professor and China Media Project director Qian Gang, one thing Xi has in common with the late Great Helmsmen to a degree not seen in any other prior Party leader is incessant state media praise. The Washington Post reports:

[...] Among past leaders, Mao [Zedong] and Hua [Guofeng] were mentioned most frequently, unsurprising given the fervent state leader worship during their time. The cult of Mao, for example, reached its peak in the late 1960s, during which he was called China’s bright red sun and the great savior of its people. During the Cultural Revolution, he was branded “the great leader, the great supreme commander, the great teacher and the great helmsman.” His words were deemed infallible. Badges, busts and posters bearing his image were ubiquitous. Almost everyone carried a little red book that contained his famous quotes.

But when the chaos of the Cultural Revolution abated and Deng rose to power as the next paramount leader, he criticized the cult of personality and said it was not only unhealthy but also dangerous to build a country’s fate on the reputation of one man. In 1980, the party’s Central Committee issued directives for “less propaganda on individuals.” Party leaders have since continued to feature in propaganda and party-controlled newspapers but with less frequency and intensity.

According to Qian’s study, however, that trend against leader worship has eroded gradually over the years, with the change accelerating especially rapidly since Xi’s elevation in 2012. Xi’s name, for example, has been mentioned almost twice as frequently in party news articles as his two immediate predecessors and is catching up with Mao’s. In his first 18 months in power, Xi has been mentioned in 4,186 articles in the first eight pages of the People’s Daily, while Jiang and Hu appeared in less than 2,000 reports.

[...] Qian said the numbers suggest an intensification in propaganda exalting China’s top leadership position, but he cautioned in a phone interview that he is not trying to make any argument or interpretation about China’s prevailing political situation. He said his goal is merely to provide quantitative data for others to use in their studies of China’s opaque political system. [...] [Source]

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Video: “Where Does the Taxpayers’ Money Go?”

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 12:39

CDT has translated a Ming’en Media (明恩传媒) video from 2012 that looks at opacity in China’s local and central tax revenue allocation. This video was one of three Ming’en videos that censors ordered to be taken down from video hosting websites in a directive in May.

(Click “CC” on the bottom of the YouTube window to view English subtitles.)

Click here to view the embedded video.

Alongside the Xi administration’s ongoing crackdown on Party corruption, austerity measures aimed at quelling public outrage over the “Three Public Expenditures” have been in effect since last year.

Also see CDT’s translation of the Ming’en Media videos “Who Made Us the Proletariat?” or “Who Speaks on Our Behalf?

Translation by Little Bluegill.

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Police Clash With Protesters Over Cross Removal

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 15:31

Christianity has been steadily gaining followers in Wenzhou, Zhejiang since the mid 1800s; in a city sometimes called the “Jerusalem of the East,” an estimated 15% of the local population are church-going Christians. In recent months, many Christian churches in and around Wenzhou have been demolished or seen their crosses removed, and many more have been notified by provincial authorities that they will soon share one of these fates. Early Monday morning, there was a violent confrontation between police and protesters over a cross on display at the Salvation Church in Wenzhou. Reuters reports:

Police in eastern China clashed in the middle of the night with Christian protesters massed around their church on Monday, but failed to carry out a government order to remove a cross from the building, according to witnesses and online accounts.

Several people were injured in the two-hour melee.

[...] “We did not want them to get close, so we joined up to stop them getting in, but they came at us and beat us,” one of the protesters, who gave his family name as Zhang, told Reuters by telephone, putting the number of police at about 500.

Zhang said police had been unable to remove the cross, but had locked down the site.

Another witness, who asked not to be identified, said the clashes had started at 2 a.m. and went on for two hours. She knew of at least five people who needed hospital treatment.

“We are Christians and are not looking for trouble, and if the government comes to us with reasonable requests, we will not oppose it. But using force on us at 2 a.m. is unacceptable and we cannot understand why they are doing it,” she added. [...] [Source]

On Twitter, protest archivist Lu Yuyu shared photos from the clash:


— 非新聞 (@wickedonnaa) July 21, 2014

While the government has denied accusations of a campaign against Christianity, a recently leaked policy document on the regulation of “overly popular” religious activities mentioned only Christianity. The New York Times notes that local Christians are standing guard in all of the Wenzhou area churches recently informed of impending cross removals or demolition. The Times also reports that, much to the disappointment of congregation members, following the bloody scuffle, the director of the Salvation Church agreed to the cross removal:

“My heart is broken,” said another man who has been guarding the church every night since the Monday morning melee with the police and strongly opposes removing the cross. “It’s so disappointing,” said the man, also surnamed Chen. “We’ve defended the church and we shed blood, but he compromised to agree that the cross be removed. May God have mercy on him.”

He said he was afraid that the police would return after the storm passes, and try once again to bring down the cross. “The storm came here today; they didn’t come,” he said. “I don’t know if they’ll come back tomorrow. We will defend the cross to the death.”

[...] If Christian resistance cannot prevent crosses from being removed in Zhejiang, [sociology professor Yang Fenggang] said, it was possible that similar measures might be taken in other provinces in the next year or two. Referring to the clash at Salvation Church on Monday, he said, “If similar things happen again but don’t get any attention from the outside world, this crackdown may continue.” [Source]

In Henan Province earlier this month, Zhang Shaojie, the pastor of a state-sanctioned Protestant church, was sentenced to 12 years in prison on charges of fraud and “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order.” Zhang had earlier played a role in a land dispute between his church and the local government.

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Photo: Nanpu Bridge, by Ge Li

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 13:46
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Why Tibetans are Destroying Their Weapons

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 13:15

As China mobilizes for a “people’s war” against terrorism focused on Xinjiang, High Peaks Pure Earth translates a November 2013 blog post by Woeser on the decision by thousands of Tibetans to destroy their own knives and guns. She describes this as a commitment to non-violence inspired by Tibet’s now more than 120 self-immolators, and as a pre-emptive strike against any future efforts to extend the anti-terror campaign to Tibetan areas.

I have and always will believe in the Tibetan land, there are so many outstanding senior monks and lay people who are constantly thinking about the challenging situation and sinister fate of us only about 6 million Tibetans. In order to be saved from being assimilated or extinguished, countless Tibetans are resisting by means of various measures, self-immolation is among the most bitter and desperate one. The Chinese government, continually increasing its repression, criminalising the entire families of self-immolators and labelling their behaviour as “terrorism” will one day in the future defame the entire Tibetan people as “terrorists”, their attempts to fabricate this collective image will never stop. The goal is clearly to thoroughly reverse the image that Tibetans enjoy in the world of being a non-violent and peaceful people.

Through many years of cruel suffering, these outstanding senior monks and lay people are probably able to foresee this danger. Will today’s movement of throwing away and destroying knives that started in the Kham and Amdo regions not be a strong message to tell the world that Tibetan people will preserve their “non-violent” image by starting from personal sacrifices and will it not prove the attempt to label them as “violent” fruitless? […] [Source]

See more by and about Woeser, including her recent house arrest and a February profile from PRI’s The World, via CDT.

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Netizen Voices: How Would China Pay Last Respects?

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 13:00

Yesterday, the remains of some of the victims the Malaysia Airlines flight shot down over eastern Ukraine arrived in the Netherlands. The plane, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur last week, was likely downed by a surface-to-air missile fired by Russian separatists in Donetsk. One third of the passengers were Dutch citizens, and Holland is in mourning. From PRI’s The World:

Members of the Dutch royalty and politicians on Wednesday met a plane carrying the remains of 40 victims from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 at Eindhoven airbase.

They chose not to make speeches, instead, gathering in silence. They looked on as coffin after coffin moved from a military plane to a waiting hearse, each with its own honor guard. The 40 hearses then left in a long procession, carried live on Dutch TV. [Source]

Chinese netizens were moved by the honor paid to ordinary citizens whose lives ended so tragically. Weibo Big V 假装在纽约 shared photos of the procession, stirring readers to ask if China would treat its citizens with the same respect. Many compared the Netherland’s treatment of the victims to their own government’s reaction to the Wenzhou high-speed rail crash, which happened on the same day in 2011. Soon after the train crash, photos emerged of the authorities burying the cars at the scene of the accident. Survivors were even found after the rescue had been called off. The scandal blazed on Weibo and lead to criminal punishment of the former minister of railways. But online discussion shows that many doubt China would react differently to the next disaster:

雲海一鴎: Did the Dutch king make an important speech? Did the prime minister issue a memo? Did their diplomats go to the scene to stick out their big bellies and oversee a rescue effort? Compared to our country, Holland has no humanity.


胶澳: We use forklifts, just like moving dead pigs.


佛眼看佛: Our soldiers are busy maintaining stability.


任任大选: “Don’t do things the Western way!


胡同里的大熊猫: Look how people in other countries are given a state funeral. In China, they would immediately be cremated.


寒春Ann: This year, I still think of the families torn apart and the stories cut short by the train crash on July 23. A father, holding onto the watch he meant to give his daughter for her wedding trousseau, had no idea what had happened to her. The family couldn’t agree on compensation, and then they heard government officials whispering that “the freezers aren’t working well, there’s no way to see the body.” A photojournalist took a picture of [the father] collapsing in tears. The photo went viral on Weibo, then was immediately deleted. These are really just unrelated associations.


连鹏: If the government doesn’t respect life, how can life respect the government?


Read more comments at CDT Chinese.

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China to Require App Developer Registration

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 12:32

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has announced the implementation of long-standing plans to require real-name registration of app developers, Paul Bischoff reports for Tech in Asia:

The aim is to discourage developers from anonymously pushing apps containing pornographic content and viruses, both of which are illegal in China.

The notice also states that MIIT will create a blacklist database for developers who break the rules. Telecom operators, smartphone makers, and app stores will all be responsible for obtaining the names of developers who publish on their respective platforms. This database will be given to mobile security software vendors and app stores, who can then block apps from blacklisted developers from being installed on users’ phones. [Source]

Bischoff notes the uncertain success of existing real-name registration policies, including those on cell phones, microblog accounts and video uploads. Beyond the technology sphere, local authorities in Kunming reportedly imposed short-lived registration requirements on the sale of face masks, T-shirts and printing services during protests against a petrochemical plant last year. In May, Liaoning announced that customers would have to show ID to buy matches amid a broad national campaign to fight terrorism.

See more on China’s tightening Internet controls and their effects via CDT.

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Party Faces “Eight Battles” for Survival, Warns Scholar

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 11:29

Following repeated urging from the Party’s Organization Department and other quarters for members to maintain ideological discipline and resist Western influence, the vice-dean of studies at the Central Party School has warned of “eight battles, four challenges and four risks” facing China and its leaders. From Cary Huang at South China Morning Post:

[Han Qingxiong] listed the eight new types of battles as those involving resources, currency, market share, ideology, territorial integrity, anti-graft, internet, and separatism.

The “four challenges” facing the ruling government will come from maintaining rulership in the long term, the implementation of a reform and openness policy, the introduction of a market economy, and protection from the external environment.

The “four risks” are a slackness in spirit; the inability to meet challenges; losing contact with masses; and widespread corruption among officials.

[…] Han made […] warnings of threats, infiltration and containment by foreign forces and the negative influence of Western ideals such as “constitutionalism”, “neo-liberalism” and “universal values”. [Source]

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Minitrue: Remove Giant Toad from the Internet

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 09:02

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

Delete all online images of the “Yuyuantan inflatable toad” and related commentary. (July 23, 2014)


Netizens compared the 72-foot installation in a Beijing park to Jiang Zemin, who is mockingly called “The Toad.” Xinhua and Sina soon removed reports on the toad, and even innocuous weibo began to disappear.
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 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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Blogger Given 6.5 Years for ‘Rumor-Mongering’

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 20:51

AFP reports that a court in Yunnan has sentenced Dong Rubin, a well-known microblogger and businessman, to six-and-a-half years in prison for “fabricating and spreading online rumors for economic gain.” Dong’s prison sentence follows a judicial interpretation issued last year stipulating fines or prison time for those profiting from such activities. 

A Chinese blogger known for criticising the ruling Communist Party was sentenced Wednesday to six-and-a-half years in jail, state media said, as authorities pursue a crackdown on online “rumours”.

Dong Rubin — a businessman known to his 50,000 online followers by the alias “Bianmin”, or frontier person — had long discomfited officials in the southwestern province of Yunnan on issues ranging from environmental safety to police brutality.

He was found guilty by Wuhua district court of conducting “illegal business operations” and “fabricating and spreading online rumours for economic gain”, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Hou Peng, the general manager of Dong’s Internet consulting company, was sentenced to three years in jail, and the men were fined 350,000 yuan ($56,000) and 50,000 yuan respectively. [Source]

Dong has been detained since last September, when he predicted his own arrest for criticizing the government’s crackdown on Internet rumors. In 2009, he championed the case of Li Qiaoming, whose death in prison was infamously explained away as an accident during a game of hide and seek. In 2011, Dong also spoke out against the illegal dumping of chromium waste in Yunnan. Last year, AFP noted, he was a vocal opponent of a planned PX plant that sparked major protests in Kunming.

Other outspoken online commentators, known on Sina Weibo as “Big V” bloggers, arrested during the Xi administration’s Internet crackdown include Chinese-American investor Charles Xue, who like Dong was subsequently forced to confess his alleged wrongdoings on state television. This week the China Internet Network Information Center reported that the number of Chinese web users visiting social media websites dropped by 7.4% in the first half of the year amid tightened Internet controls. Sina Weibo in particular has seen activity crash, though the precise balance of factors behind this is disputed.

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Photo: Kite, by leniners

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 20:16
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A Eulogy for the Cenci Journalism Project

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 15:58

Since 2011, the Cenci Journalism Project has been “reporting another dimension of the world,” allowing Chinese-speakers to access diverse global coverage of marginalized topics through translation. Earlier this month, the Cenci Project’s website became blocked by the Great Firewall. In a lengthy (and now inaccessible) WeChat post immediately following the website’s blocking, project founder Kang Xia described his experience building up the nonprofit, his pain in watching its harmonization, and his thanks to the countless volunteers that helped him realize his goal [Chinese]:

From now on, there is no Cenci Journalism Project.

At 20:00 on July 14, I was chatting idly with friends, with my “battery killer” of an iPhone charging on the side. Sharp pain from my freshly removed teeth made me grimace as I talked. It couldn’t be any worse, I thought.


When my phone was fully charged, I turned it on. I had 400 unread messages in WeChat, as usual. Holding my swollen cheek with one hand, I deleted all the unread group messages with the other. Huh? Someone asked me why they could no longer visit the Weibo page of the Cenci Project.

Probably it had been shut down, damn it. I then asked my Weibo friends what was happening and how long the shutdown would last. “No big deal,” I typed in the Cenci Project’s WeChat, hoping to first calm everyone down, and then see what solutions we had.

Before I could finish sending the message, I received a phone call from Yang Chu and Zhuo Xing, “Where are you? Are you safe? What happened? Why was your phone switched off?!”

Half an hour later, I rushed back to my home in Shuangjing by taxi. Feng Xiao, Yang Chu and Zhuo Xing were all there. In the hour my phone was switched off charging, Cenci Project’s Weibo had been shut down, as had its WeChat and Douban accounts. Even our many QQ groups for internal communication had vanished without trace.

Perhaps these friends of mine thought that I’d also vanished altogether.

I made several phone calls trying to negotiate a fix to the situation, got some WeChat messages, and then I learned the reason [for the shutdown]. I slumped onto the couch, realizing that the Cenci Project was finished.

On July 15, the domain name of Cenci Project ( was blocked by the Great Firewall—people could no longer visit the site without without breaching the Wall. My personal Weibo was also shut down, @康夏Eric and his more than 2000 posts also vanished. All volunteers with a “Cenci Project” suffix had their Weibo usernames turned into random numbers.

A friend sent me an email marked “read and delete,” an order to delete some reposted article. Then, Cenci Project’s app and its search results on Baidu, as well as every single interview of mine, would vanish from the world without a trace, like they’d never existed.

My teeth were killing me. With my back bent, I replied to every WeChat stream telling people to keep calm. I squeezed the fingers of my right hand with all the strength of my left—I do this every time I have a dental surgery or have to give a speech. It felt like all my friends had died. I wanted to write 1000 obituaries, but I knew that obituaries wouldn’t bring them back.

When you are a little sad, you binge eat; when you are sadder, you cry; when you can’t endure the hopelessness, you scream, smash bowls and furniture; then the level of hopelessness deepens more, and more…

I didn’t want to eat or cry. I didn’t wish to talk. I walked around the room, again and again. I turned on my computer. The Weibo page could not be visited. What used to be my homepage,, had become “this page cannot be displayed.” I refreshed the page, again and again. It went on like this for an hour.

Friends, elders, teachers, readers, and some people I barely even knew were asking me on WeChat, “what happened to the Cenci Project?” I didn’t want to reply, fearing that while a bloated answer would disappoint others, a real answer would only embarrass me. So I just pretended not to see the question.

When you have devoted so much to one thing, it becomes your very core. From 2011 until now, I graduated from college, studied abroad, returned China to look for a job, interned, worked, quit, and then re-applied to school. In these many years, I had tried to get up at 7 am everyday, go for a jog, read for an hour in the evening, look over one page of The Encyclopaedia Britannica before bed, contact a long-lost friend every midday—not a single one of these things had I managed to carry on. Most of them I abandoned halfway, but the Cenci Project was the only one I’d ever stuck to.

In August 2011, as I was preparing the Cenci Project, I was about to graduate. But my GPA was at stake, and I needed good grades for my study abroad application. Time was running out. In December 2011, Cenci Project was losing members, and internal conflict was fierce. No one wanted to do trivial tasks like manage Weibo posts. We also barely had any followers, which was disappointing.

A June 2012 report in Beijing Weekly introduced Cenci Project to a wider audience. More and more people thought that Cenci’s translations were pretty much the same as content in Reference News. In October 2012, while I was in Britain, the organizational structure of Cenci volunteers broke at the upper-middle level, and our content frequency became unstable. Often times there were only one or two new articles each week.

In July 2013, I started my first job. The work was abundant and trivial. As a journalist, the amount of energy I spent on an article depended entirely on my self-discipline. I scheduled over eight hours for work everyday, and the rest of my time I gave to the Cenci Project. I was in HR, a designer, in public relations, an event planner, an editor, a journalist, and a copywriter. It was common for me to stay up as late as 3 or 4 a.m.; Red Bull became my life elixir. In April 2014, two headhunters talked to me individually about investing in the Cenci Project. Commercializing would change the original spirit of volunteerism and our ambitions to provide alternative reporting, and that spirit and focus on marginalized groups were at the core of the Cenci Project. However, at the time everyone around me was talking about entrepreneurship. Attracting investment sounded right, since glory and superiority also had to be achieved.

In June 2011, after being “invited to tea” countless times over the Cenci Project, I was fed up. I thought the whole “reporting another dimension of the world” thing had turned me into the idealist book publisher in Too Loud a Solitude, who was building a house with his unrealistic fantasies. The house had candy, cheese, crackers, jelly—all these things. However, in reality, he had nothing but a bottle of spoiled milk.

Despite this, all through August 2011, December 2011, June 2012, October 2012, July 2013, May 2014, and June 2014, I had never once thought to back off, to give up, to change or to stop. Not even once.

This year in early July, Cenci volunteers in Beijing had a big offline party. The first since the revision of the website, and, unexpectedly, the last. There were over 30 volunteers, and we had vodka, tequila, and beer. Seeing each other face-to-face for the first time was a little embarrassing. I drank myself  into a total, record-setting blackout. After I came to the next day, I heard I’d acted crazy, holding other people firmly and not letting them leave, laughing and crying at the same time.

I don’t like alcohol. I don’t like dinner parties, chitchat, or workplace gossip. But I like who I was on that day, even though I had a headache for two days from the hangover, sent lots of embarrassing WeChats to my elders, and my intoxication was caught on videotape by the volunteers.

That day, all I wanted to do was say “thank you.” But, I thought “thank you” seemed too easy, and I couldn’t think of any alternative. So I drank till I passed out. The “thank you” was for those who devoted far more time than expected from a volunteer, and did all sorts of work for the Cenci Project: Chen Nan, Katara, Fang Yuan, Wang Fan, Wang Dengfeng, Alyssa, Yu Benyi, my classmate Qin, Yang Zhenjing, Yu Yichun, Zhong Ping, Liu Mingzhu, Zhao Yating, Hao Zhongya, Wang Mei, Lai Wei, Feng Shuai, Zhou Weile, Wu Weichen, Jin Xianan, Li Xiaoyuan, He Yining, Jennifer, Zhou Hao, Gao Honghao, Lou Qiqin, Hong Tao, Han Guimeng, Hong Tu, Liu Zhuoya, Jiang Wan, Mo Pianxiao, Wang Shijing, Yue Xiaoya, Lin Rong, Ma Suping, Chunyu Bingzhai, Zhou Nanjun, He Yaqing, Zheng Yao, Zhou Zidong, Guan Fanfu; those journalists who reported and promoted the Cenci Project: Xu Bei, Wang Mengying, Zhou Xinyuan; those readers who spent RMB to buy our poorly printed postcards, just to give us their warmhearted support; and those seniors and friends from the Pulitzer Center, the U.S.-China Dialogue, WCS, Century Weekly, Phoenix Weekly,, Asian Business Leaders, etc, who pushed for cooperation with the Cenci Project. You all made the Cenci Project shine when it was alive.

After the revision of Cenci’s website this year, I wrote the article “Together, We Report Another Dimension of the World.” In it, I said “my biggest ambition is that Cenci Project can last forever.” At the time, I thought I was quite pessimistic.

In Life of Caesar by Plutarch, Caesar finally decides to meet with the entire Roman Senate. With emotion, Plutarch remarks, “Fate, however, seems to be not so much unexpected as unavoidable.”

See, even Caesar is no exception—everything is doomed. Just like us—we met each other, and did this one thing together with simple and candid hearts, regardless of the cost or other people’s judgement. We didn’t earn a penny in this. We didn’t change the world. We didn’t even change ourselves. And shortly afterward, people will forget all about it.

I do not have complaints or resentment about his. The Cenci Project will not return. There won’t be another Cenci Project either. That’s it.

The language preparation for the [study abroad] application is over. Now I need to choose my major. I asked my friend Steph, “What if I go study accounting or finance?” She giggled for a second, then she raised her eyebrows when she realized I was actually serious. She looked at me incredulously and shook her head: “Kang Xia, that is so not you.”

I quoted Wilde on my blog: “A Map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth looking at.” On the cover of the book she [Steph] gave to me, she quoted one of my favorite lines from Dead Poets Society: “Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”

When you reach a dead end, dressed in tatters, wandering alone on an empty street, you will suddenly realize that if Fabre didn’t accomplish Souvenirs Entomologiques, if Van Gogh didn’t paint sunflowers, if Gu Cheng didn’t publish his poetry, and if Charles Strickland didn’t appear as the protagonist in The Moon and Sixpence, they would have all turned into a piece of transparent wallpaper.

The wallpaper can’t speak out. No one knows of it’s pain, filth, shabbiness, or fading but the wallpaper itself. [Chinese source]

Translation by Mengyu Dong.

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River Crabbed: Toad Story

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 14:57

One of Florentijn Hofman’s giant rubber ducks sat in Hong Kong’s harbor last year, inspiring knock-offs in China. Taking inspiration from the big bird, a 72-foot inflatable yellow toad arrived in Beijing’s Yuyuantan Park over the weekend. The toad’s creator, Guo Yongyao, meant to invoke the traditional symbolism of the “wealth-drawing golden toad” (招财金蟾). But the toad invokes something else for Chinese netizens: former president Jiang Zemin.

As soon as the connection was made, Xinhua and Sina deleted their stories about the giant toad. Related keywords do not seem to have been blocked on Weibo search, but a number of posts about the toad have been filtered, as FreeWeibo has documented.

Jiang Zemin is often called “The Toad” for his resemblance to the broad-faced amphibian. But even posts that make no reference to Jiang are being blocked.

A selection of deleted posts, archived by FreeWeibo and translated by CDT:

葱咯咯咯: On NetEase this morning I read that there’s a big inflatable toad in Beijing park. Everyone who commented on the news seemed to all know what’s up, but they wouldn’t say. Until I found this picture on [Baidu] Tieba…


DC胖兔子: The inflatable toad in Beijing’s Yuyuantan Park is 22 meters tall. No wonder netizens say the toad got fat. He’s even bigger than the tiger.


常杀人的微博:I heard that in Beijing a big yellow duck was eaten by a big yellow toad!! Now the big yellow toad is flexing his muscles where the big yellow duck once sat! I heard there’s a grass-mud horse in Changsha’s pedestrian zone!! I heard the weekend will soon be over! I have to go to work today!! Life is so busy!!!


北京生活杂志: #BeijingRevealed “Giant Golden Toad Leaks… Lies Down (Ha Ha)”: @宿迁老潘a That big toad in Yuyuantan just arrived two days ago, and now it’s deflating and lying down on its stomach.

#北京爆料#【大金蟾漏气儿了。。。趴下了[哈哈]】@宿迁老潘a 北京玉渊潭那只大蛤蟆,刚登场两天就漏气趴下了

胡媛: Aerial view of the big toad. I just want to say that this city’s taste is incorrigible…


The inspiration for the toad attracted censors last year as well, when netizens edited the giant rubber duck into the famous “tank man” photo.

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Party Members Warned Not to “Echo Western Values”

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 14:41

On Sunday, Xinhua reported the latest move in the Party’s current drive to fight corruption and ensure the ideological orthodoxy of its members: an Organization Department edict on “intense ideological education for officials to strengthen their faith in communism and curb corruption.”

Profound social-economic changes at home and abroad have brought multiple distractions to officials who face loss of faith and moral decline, said the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee in a statement.

The conviction and morals of officials determine the rise and fall of the CPC and the country, it added. Officials should keep firm belief in Marxism to avoid being lost in the clamor for western democracy, universal values and civil society, according to the statement.

[…] The authorities pledged to improve officials’ morals, calling on them to be noble, pure and virtuous persons who have relinquished vulgar tastes.

“Chinese officials should safeguard the spiritual independence of the nation and avoid becoming an echo of western moral values,” it warned. [Source]

China Copyright and Media has translated a fuller summary of the Organization Department’s ‘Notice concerning Strengthening Education on Ideals, Convictions and Moral Conduct in Cadre Education and Training’ from People’s Daily.

Purity and tasteful restraint have recently been promoted with proclamations against adultery—defined by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection as keeping at least three mistresses—and the use of status-laden official vehicles and chauffeurs. Two weeks ago, meanwhile, a senior official at the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection warned that loss of ideological discipline had helped bring down the Soviet Communist Party, with many members becoming “megaphones for broadcasting Western ideology.” Days later, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences announced that ideological purity would be the foremost criterion for assessing its scholars, following accusations that it had been “infiltrated” by “foreign forces.” Zhang Ming, a political science professor at Renmin University, told the South China Morning Post that “the efforts to strengthen the ideological control on academics reflect the leadership’s overwhelming fears that communist rule in the country is under threat.”

At the University of Nottingham’s China Policy Institute Blog, Kerry Brown examined the question of Party members’ ideological rectitude in terms of Liu Shaoqi’s 1939 essay ‘How to be a Good Communist’ and Xi Jinping’s current corruption crackdown.

[…] Party members, [Liu] says, have to observe the proper ideology, they have to straighten out their thinking and see they are in a moment of revolutionary transformation and struggle in which they are the vanguard fighting against oppressive forces. ‘We Communists,’ he writes, ‘are the most advanced revolutionaries in modern history; to day the changing of society and the world rests upon us and we are the driving force in this change. It is by unremitting struggle against counter-revolutionaries that we Communists change society and the world, and at the same time ourselves.’

China’s current elite leaders are unlikely to come out with a statement like this today. But the question of what makes a good, effective, loyal Party member and how to prescribe and measure their behaviour and inner loyalty is never far from their minds. In particular, one of the key themes that Liu addresses in his short book (in fact, he devotes a whole section to it) will certainly have resonance with them: ‘A Communist must be clear about the correct relationship between personal and Party interests’, Liu declares. ‘Personal interests must be subordinated to the Party’s interests, the interests of the local Party organization to those of the entire Party, the interests of the part to those of the whole, and temporary to long-term interests.’ This, in their world view, still stands true, and lies behind the particular energy of the anti-corruption campaign they are currently waging.

There are plenty of people inside and outside China who maintain a very consistent and deep cynicism about the motives behind political figures and their actions across the country, particularly at the elite level. In an odd way, though, I think this cynicism lets a lot of important realities about the position China and its ruling party are now in evade attention. […] [Source]

See more from Brown on this topic via CDT.

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How China Dismantled the Uyghur Internet

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 14:24

Trapped in a Virtual Cage: Chinese State Repression of Uyghurs Online,” a recent report from the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP), surveys restrictions on Uyghur-language Internet content to show how “Chinese authorities have exerted effective control over how Uyghurs seek, receive and impart information online.” Following the release of the report, UHRP’s Henryk Szadziewski and Greg Fay look at the legacy of the 10-month Internet blackout that came after large-scale unrest in Urumqi spread to other cities in Xinjiang in the summer of 2009. From The Diplomat:

The unprecedented 10-month shutdown experienced after the 2009 protests was catastrophic for original writing in the Uyghur language. When the Internet was restored in May 2010, at least 80% of Uyghur-run websites, including Diyarim, were wiped from the web in what added up to a digital book burning of Uyghur content. On the forums of Diyarim and the other two most popular sites, Xabnam and Salkin alone, over 200,000 users had contributed over 2 million posts in 145,000 threads. Not a single website that was deleted by authorities after July 5 was devoted to religion. Instead, the sites were mainly devoted to literature, entertainment, culture and computers, based on a 2009 survey.

[...I]n an environment where one Internet footprint could land them in jail, Uyghurs tended to heavily self-censor. Especially in the post-2009 period, “crackdowns” and “strike hard” campaigns became de rigueur for Chinese officials as they attempted to demonstrate control over the region. Furthermore, the research found that just as self-censorship increased, so did distrust of VPNs, even though they are commonly used in China to circumvent government blocking of websites such as Facebook and Twitter. Uyghurs knew if they in particular were found using one, it would have all kinds of negative consequences.

The story of the daily erosion of expression and association rights on the Uyghur Internet does not grab headlines. Nevertheless, Uyghurs’ inability to express concern about government policies affecting them or creating forums enabling others to freely express those opinions, more accurately describes the online environment and conditions in the region. [Source]

Amid an ongoing terror crackdown in Xinjiang, where a series of recent violent attacks have been blamed on separatists, the Internet has been identified as a conduit to “promote religious warfare” and encourage terrorism. Earlier this month, 32 were jailed for spreading “violent Internet content.”

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Word of the Week: Poison Rice

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 08:40

毒大米 (dú dàmǐ): poison rice

Rice that has been treated with toxic chemicals to increase its marketability. Old rice (陈米 chén mǐ) that has been stored for over a year is polished, treated with chemicals, and coated with paraffin, giving the grains a translucent appearance. The treated rice can cause negative health effects.

“Poison rice” became an online watchword in May 2013 with a scare over rice that had been tainted with the toxic heavy metal cadmium (镉 gé).

“It isn’t convenient to write down all the ingredients,” explains the imperial official. Cadmium billows out of the bag of rice he guards.

Food safety scandals repeatedly pop up in China, creating a general unease about products like cooking oilinfant formula, and fast food. A list of 50 “Toxic Foods You Need to Know” from 2008 covers an unnerving range of products.

See also ditch oil and poison milk powder.

The Word of the Week comes from China Digital Space’s Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon, a glossary of terms created by Chinese netizens and frequently 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.

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Migrant Workers Mysteriously Dying in Dongguan

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 20:03

At the South China Morning Post, Andrea Chen reports that hundreds of young men living in the manufacturing area of Dongguan have mysteriously died in their sleep over the last ten years:

The number of young male workers with no history of health problems who died suddenly in their sleep has risen sharply over the past decade in the manufacturing hub Dongguan, research shows.

The city’s police recorded 893 cases of sudden unexplained nocturnal death syndrome from January 2001 to October last year.

It is a more than triple the 231 cases recorded from January 1990 to December 1999.

The sharp increase came to light after researchers at Zhongshan School of Medicine based in Guangzhou released their analysis of police records of deaths in Dongguan over the past two decades, the official Guangzhou Dailyreported. [Source]

Sudden unexplained nocturnal death syndrome (SUNDS) occurs when healthy individuals die in their sleep with no other fatal disease or injury. Cleo Alexis Fagela at China Topix reports that symptoms include choking and difficulty breathing:

Symptoms often manifest themselves in previously healthy individuals, where death occurs 3 to 4 hours after falling asleep.

Witness accounts often describe victims to be choking, gasping, and even foaming at the mouth. These symptoms are then followed by erratic heart fibrillations that eventually cause death. [Source]

As the victims in Dongguan were largely migrant workers employed in factories and other work sites requiring long hours of manual labor, researchers believe that the surge in SUNDS is likely associated with low wages and poor working conditions. From the People’s Daily:

Zhang Yiri, an associate professor from Guangzhou City Polytechnic, attributed the growing number of cases in Dongguan to the unreasonable payment system, which encourages people to work overtime.

“Many bosses pay very low base salaries to workers. But the payment for overtime work is higher,” Zhang said.

“Therefore, many people apply for overtime to earn extra money,” he said.

Peng Peng, a senior researcher at the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences, said government departments and employers should improve working and living conditions for migrant workers and raise minimum wages. [Source]

In a paper on SUNDS, the Guangzhou Institute of Forensic Science’s Chao Liu and his colleagues identified the syndrome as an “ethnic and region specific” disorder that affects populations in East as well as Southeast Asia. Amta Badkar at Business Insider reports:

A recent paper on SUNDS by Chao Liu et al, published in Forensic Science International, looks at SUNDS in Southern China and related diseases from other countries. From the paper:

As an ethnic and region specific natural death, sudden unexplained nocturnal death syndrome (SUNDS) or sudden unexplained death during sleep (SUDS), is a disorder that prevails predominantly in Southeast Asia and has various synonyms in different countries such as the Philippines (bangungut), Thailand (lai-tai), Japan (pokkuri), and China (sudden manhood death syndrome).

The annual incidence of SUNDS has been reported to be as high as 43 per 100,000 people aged 20–40 years in the Philippines and 38 per 100,000 people aged 20–49 years in Thailand. In Southern China, the incidence is about 1 per 100,000 people.

[...] The paper examined whether SUNDS is a function of a disorder in the cardiac sodium channel, which is responsible for the function of the myocardium, a heart muscle. “Our data suggest that a majority of Chinese SUNDS may be due to other mechanisms that lead to an increased risk for sudden death during sleep,” the authors write. [Source]

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