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Updated: 16 min 21 sec ago

Chinese Journalists Barred From Canadian Leader’s Trip

6 hours 53 min ago

Bree Feng at The New York Times reports that Chinese state media reporters have been barred from news conferences for an Arctic tour by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

A spokesman for the prime minister’s office told QMI Agency that reporters from “certain news outlets” would not be welcome on Mr. Harper’s tour of the Arctic this week. An unnamed government official said this referred to People’s Daily and Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency.

“What’s interesting here is that someone who is normally dismissed as being a mouthpiece for the state is being punished for being aggressive in covering a story, just like a Western journalist,” David Mulroney, who served as Canada’s ambassador to China from 2009 to 2012, commented in an email.

[...] “As far as I know, the issue has more to do with a very low level of tolerance for what people in the prime minister’s office deem is bad behavior by journalists, whatever their provenance,” said Mr. Mulroney, who is now a senior fellow at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. [Source]

The ban was apparently prompted by an incident last year involving People’s Daily’s Li Xuejiang, but Xinhua’s Li Baodong was not a given clear reason for his own exclusion. From the Associated Press:

The decision follows Li Xuejiang of the People’s Daily having pushed former Harper spokeswoman Julie Vaux during last year’s trip to the Arctic after she prevented him from asking a question.

[...] Li, the bureau chief for the Communist Party newspaper and a former Washington correspondent, said he couldn’t understand why he was silenced and later manhandled by police. Harper’s staff limits the number of questions at public events.

[...] Xinhua News Agency reporter Baodong Li said he applied but was told he could not go because of a lack of space. He doesn’t understand why he was banned.

“This is really ridiculous. This is not just against Mr. Li of the People’s Daily, it’s also against all the Chinese journalists,” Baodong said. “It has nothing to do with me.”

Li and Baodong said they are considering issuing a complaint with the Ottawa press gallery. [Source]

Earlier this year, Canada cancelled an investor immigrant program that had been popular among wealthy Chinese, prompting an unsuccessful lawsuit. Relations have since been strained by hacking accusations and the detention of a Canadian couple in China’s northeast.

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German Broadcaster Fires Chinese Blogger

7 hours 14 min ago

At The New York Times, Ian Johnson reports that German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) has terminated its contract with Chinese freelancer Su Yutong over alleged employee misconduct. Su’s dismissal is viewed by many Chinese commentators as a move to tone down voices that are critical of the Chinese government. Earlier this year, Su was involved in a series of debates surrounding a controversial article published by Deutsche Welle’s China correspondent Frank Sieren, who criticized Western coverage of the Tiananmen crackdown

The activist, Su Yutong, 38, who has been exiled in Germany since 2010, was informed Tuesday that her contract with Deutsche Welle would not be renewed in 2015. In a statement on Wednesday, the broadcaster said the decision had been made because she disclosed information about internal meetings and publicly criticized a co-worker.

[...] Many commentators on Chinese-language social media, however, see more at work, especially because Ms. Su was one of the most prolific bloggers on Deutsche Welle’s widely read Chinese-language website, and often very critical of Chinese government policy. In recent months, they say, more pro-Beijing voices have been given greater prominence.

[...] Liao Yiwu, a Chinese writer in exile in Berlin, said he worried that the case showed how even foreigners worry about how China will react to critical articles. Deutsche Welle is owned by the government, much like the British Broadcasting Corporation or the Voice of America, and has to balance journalistic issues with broader foreign-policy concerns. [Source]

Writer Rose Tang relayed Su Yutong’s own account of the circumstances surrounding her dismissal:

Su Yutong, who worked for DW’s Chinese-language section for four years, said: “Frank Sieren (DW columnist) published articles in DW defending Chinese government’s role in Tiananmen Massacre. I signed a petition opposing Sieren’s views. Managers at DW said I have violated DW’s internal regulations by spreading the news about Sieren.

[...] Su today released on her Facebook and Tweeter a copy of DW’s Chinese-language coverage performance chart of February. She said Meuer, when sacking Su, stressed that Su did not fit into the “new direction” that DW’s Chinese-language section needs. “Please look at my direction — stories I’ve written count for half of the Chinese-language reporting done by more than 20 reporters. The most important factor is that I covered stories that aren’t liked by the Chinese Communist Party!” Most of Su’s reporting is about human rights in China and exposé on the Party leadership.

[...] Su said: “Frank Sieren has won so much support from the DW management and published numerous articles with false facts, attacking people who are critical of the Chinese government. As a journalist who knows China well and familiar with and in support of Chinese human rights, I protest that Sieren’s views being promoted on the platform of DW. I protest that the DW Director General and Editor-in-chief continuously support Sieren. With their support, Sieren even published a piece smearing artist Ai Weiwei, using the language of Global Times. In his recent column, Sieren ridiculed Ai, saying Ai was going after the market and fame.” [Source]

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Fujian Death Row Inmate in Hiding After Acquittal

7 hours 39 min ago

The New York Times’ Chris Buckley reports on the acquittal and release of Nian Bin, who was sentenced to death in 2007 for killing two children.

Mr. Nian maintained that he had confessed to the crime of “placing dangerous materials” — poisons — only under searing torture after his arrest. But it took a first trial, three appeals, three retrials and a review by China’s highest court before judges in Fujian Province acquitted him after concluding that the evidence marshaled by prosecutors was fatally marred by flaws and inconsistencies.

[…] Mr. Nian’s case illustrated how reluctant judges, prosecutors and the police can be to admit error. The problem is by no means unique to China, but lawyers there said political pressures on the legal system make it all the harder for unjust verdicts to be overturned.

“Throughout this trial process, the lawyers could clearly feel the pressure from inside and outside the system,” Mr. Nian’s lawyers, led by Zhang Yansheng, said in a statement issued after his release. [Source]

Beijing has unveiled measures to free courts from local interference, but these may simply move the meddling up to the provincial level.

Amnesty International issued a statement on Nian’s acquittal:

“This rare acquittal is yet another vivid example of why the death penalty should be abolished, and the ever present risk of executing innocent people is just one of many compelling arguments against the death penalty,” said Anu Kultalahti, Amnesty International’s China Researcher.

[…] “In this case, China’s system of Supreme People’s Court review of all death sentences eventually prevented a miscarriage of justice. But Nian Bin and his family would not have had to endure such a lengthy process of retrials and appeals if the Fuzhou court had seriously considered the higher courts’ repeated rulings that there was insufficient evidence against him,” Kultalahti said. [Source]

While Nian is now free, South China Morning Post’s Patrick Boehler reports that he has gone into hiding with his family, while investigation of his wrongful conviction and alleged abuse seems unlikely:

Zhang Yansheng, who along with Si Weijiang led Nian’s defence, said on Friday afternoon she has been unable to reach the family ever since they drove away from the court house in Fuzhou to avoid the media frenzy and the children’s family, who have opposed his release.

“They don’t dare to return home,” she said. “Their home had been ransacked by the children’s relatives. [The family] still believes he killed the children.”

[…] Lawyer Zhang said she did not expect anyone would now look into the torture allegations or the police investigation that led to Nian’s arrest and conviction. “The courts cannot handle such matters, it would have to be a police investigation,” she said. “They are not going to slap themselves in the face.” [Source]

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Photo: 夏日沙滩, Fujian, by 丰毅 叶

8 hours 37 min ago

夏日沙滩, Fujian

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Rebel Pepper: Black Cat, White Cat Theory

8 hours 53 min ago

To honor the 110th anniversary of Deng Xiaoping’s birth, cartoonist Rebel Pepper (变态辣椒) served up a new cartoon on Twitter:

邓小平要是活到昨天,也110岁了,国内外华人各种纪念,我也画了张漫画纪念他和他伟大的黑白猫理论以及这个伟大的矮子对中国的影响。— 变态辣椒 (@remonwangxt) August 22, 2014

Had Deng Xiaoping lived until yesterday, he’d be 110 years old. As Chinese people at home and abroad offer commemoration, I’ve also drawn a cartoon to memorialize him, his great “Black Cat, White Cat Theory,” and the mighty shorty’s influence on China.

Deng Xiaoping’s reformist politico-economic theory is often summarized by the late leader’s maxim,”It doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice it’s a good cat” (不管黑猫白猫,捉到老鼠的就是好猫). Deng’s birthday this year comes amid the newly launched CCTV miniseries Deng Xiaoping at History’s Crossroads, which has been the cause of controversy due to its omission and revision of sensitive aspects of Deng’s tenure. Rebel Pepper’s cartoon uses the two-tone feline metaphor to represent sustaining points of contention about Deng’s career: the bloody crackdown on protesters on June 4th, 1989, and the culture of money worship ushered in by his sweeping economic reforms.

Rebel Pepper’s outspokenness recently made the cartoonist the target of a state media smear campaign. After posting a cartoon mocking pro-Beijing protesters in Hong Kong, state media highlighted social media comments about a trip to Japan which countered popular anti-Japanese sentiment so often encouraged by Beijing. Radio Free Asia notes that the cartoonist, currently in Japan, fears detention upon returning to the mainland. Last October, Rebel Pepper was briefly detained for sharing information about flood victims amid an ongoing crackdown on Internet rumors.

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Chinese Internet Giant Baidu Starts to Dream

21 hours 21 min ago

MIT Technology Review’s Robert D. Hof profiles Baidu’s new chief scientist Andrew Ng and the company’s work on artificial intelligence and deep learning.

[…] Baidu has made Ng, 38, the linchpin of an effort to transform itself into a global force. The company hired him in May to head its research organization, which includes a new artificial-intelligence lab in Silicon Valley and two labs in Beijing, one focused on deep learning and the other on large-scale data analysis. Often called China’s Google, the company plans to invest $300 million in the new lab and a development office on the same floor over the next five years. Ng (it is pronounced “Eng”) aims to hire 70 artificial-intelligence researchers and computer systems engineers to work in the new lab by the end of 2015. “It will really target fundamental technology,” says Kai Yu, the director of Baidu’s Beijing deep-learning lab, a friend of Ng’s who urged him to join the company.

Baidu, which hopes to get half its revenue from outside China by 2020, is just one of several large Chinese Internet companies now looking abroad for talent and customers, seeking to make the most populous nation on earth more than just the world’s factory. With 632 million citizens online, China claims four of the planet’s 10 most-visited Internet properties, up from just one a year ago. The top 20 Chinese Internet companies listed on public exchanges outside mainland China have a combined market value of about $340 billion. The social-networking giant Tencent, whose WeChat mobile messaging service has 100 million registered users from outside China, accounts for almost half of that. And in September, the e-commerce group Alibaba was expected to complete what could be the world’s largest initial stock offering ever. Its debut on the New York Stock Exchange could value it at $150 billion. [Source]

Read more about Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent, via CDT.

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Human Rights and Cross-Strait Relations

22 hours 20 min ago

At The Diplomat, Jerome Cohen and Yu-Jie Chen describe the often sidelined human rights challenges in cross-strait relations, focusing on protection of the rights of Taiwanese travelers on the mainland.

[… W]hat was and still remains challenging for the negotiation is cross-strait disagreement over standards and expectations for assuring due process of law, including freedom from arbitrary detention and unfair legal procedures. Criminal justice is the weakest link in China’s legal system. Although Taiwan’s 1971 ouster from the United Nations has prevented it from acceding to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), it has incorporated the ICCPR into its domestic legal system. China, on the other hand, has never ratified the ICCPR, which it signed in 1998.

[…] The current negotiation over protecting the personal security of Taiwanese in the Mainland is merely the entering wedge of a broader, now widespread concern in Taiwan that the island’s increasingly close integration with China will undermine Taiwan’s core values and the personal freedoms for which Taiwanese have long struggled. As demonstrated by the Sunflower Movement, cross-strait relations are unlikely to make further significant progress unless people in Taiwan feel assured that they will keep their autonomy, their personal security and their democratic way of life. [Source]

Such concerns are shared by many in Hong Kong, which like Taiwan has seen major protests this year revolving around relations with the mainland. At Foreign Policy, Grace Tsoi notes the emergence of links between activists in the two territories, a development which Beijing seems keen to block.

[…] During the large-scale protest in the Taiwanese capital of Taipei, one of the most commonly chanted slogans was “today’s Hong Kong, tomorrow’s Taiwan.” Some Hong Kong tourists and students also joined in, with one of them wearing paperboards that read “I am a Hong Konger. Taiwan, please step on Hong Kong’s corpse and contemplate the path you want to take.” A photo featuring the protester bearing the grave message, pictured above, went viral.

[…] While some members of the Hong Kong and Taiwan public have concluded only recently that Taiwan and Hong Kong are facing similar threats from China, activist leaders and organizers received earlier hints showing their fates were becoming intertwined. One example was a November 2012 letter written by famed sinologist Yu Ying-shih, a professor emeritus of Chinese studies at Princeton University, to Huang Kuo-chang, a law professor who later played an important role in the Sunflower Movement. Later posted on Facebook, the letter urged the Taiwanese to pay close attention to developments in Hong Kong and learn from the city’s young dissidents how to resist Beijing’s encroachment. “The driving force behind the two movements was the Chinese Communist Party … and only then did I realize that we are facing similar problems,” Chen, the Sunflower Movement leader, told Foreign Policy. [Source]

See more on Taiwan and Hong Kong and their relations with Beijing, via CDT.

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What China Wants

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 23:06

A featured essay in The Economist this week asks what drives China, and places much emphasis on the country’s determination to regain its former national prestige.

[…] Economically and militarily, China has come a long way towards regaining the centrality in Asia it enjoyed through much of history. Intellectually and morally, it has not. In the old days it held a “soft power” so strong, according to William Kirby of Harvard University, that “neighbours converted themselves” to it. Now, Mr Xi may know how to assert himself and how to be feared, at home and abroad. But without the ability to exert a greater power of attraction, too, such strength will always tend to destabilise.

If China could resolve its identity crisis and once again become an attractive civilisation rather than just an enviable development model, it would be much better placed to get the respect and influence it craves. But it is hard to see that happening unless the party gives more power to its people, and Mr Xi has made it clear that will not happen on his watch. The danger is that China will seek greater power in the world as a substitute for fundamental changes at home. If it fails to make those changes, its global power will continue to look hollow, unattractive and threatening, and its neighbours will continue to cling to the coat-tails of Uncle Sam. [Source]

The essay devotes some attention to the question of China’s presence in Africa. For more on the subject, see CDT’s recent interview with Howard French, author of China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa. (The “masterly” book is reviewed elsewhere in this week’s Economist.) China’s quest for international esteem is also a focus of Orville Schell and John Delury’s Wealth and Power: China’s Long March to the Twenty-first Century, in which they argue that “self-inflicted humiliations have severely undercut China’s bid for soft power, acclaim, and global respect.”

The Economist’s accompanying leader argues why and how the U.S. should accommodate China within the existing international order:

[… I]f the liberal order is to survive, it must evolve. Denying the reality of China’s growing power would only encourage China to reject the world as it is. By contrast, if China can prosper within the system, it will reinforce it. That is why the United States needs to acknowledge one increasingly awkward aspect of its leadership: American advantage is hard-wired into the system in ways that a rising power might justifiably resent.

[…] Drawing China into a strengthened regional framework would not be to cede primacy to it. Nor would it be to abandon a liberal order that has served Asia—and America—so well. It may, in the end, not work. But given the huge dangers of rivalry, it is essential now to try. [Source]

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Australian MP Back-Pedals Insults to Chinese

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 15:38

Australian mining magnate and parliamentarian Clive Palmer made shocking comments this week that have been condemned by both Australian and Chinese officials. Palmer called the Chinese “mongrels” and “‘bastards’ who shoot their own people and covet Australian resources.” Palmer has since tried to explain himself, reports the Wall Street Journal:

On Wednesday, Mr. Palmer said his comments weren’t aimed at either the Chinese community in Australia or the Chinese government.

“They were directed at one Chinese state-owned company that has failed to honor its agreements,” said Mr. Palmer, who is a member of Australia’s lower house of Parliament. “I have been an admirer of China and its people for many years.”

The lawmaker, whose conservative Palmer United Party wields the balance of power in the upper house of Parliament, has for years been engaged in a legal dispute with Chinese company Citic Pacific over royalties from an iron-ore mine in Western Australia. Mr. Palmer says Citic Pacific, a Hong Kong-listed unit of Chinese state-owned behemoth Citic Group, has failed to pay royalties as stipulated by a 2006 agreement to build and operate the mine.

[...] Asked about the business spat earlier this week on Australian national television, Mr. Palmer said: “I don’t mind standing up against the Chinese bastards and stopping them from doing it. I’m saying that because they’re communist, because they shoot their own people, they haven’t got a justice system and they want to take over this country. We’re not going to let them do it.” [Source]

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman called Palmer’s remarks “completely unreasonable and absurd,” but noted that Palmer does not speak for all of Australia:

The relevant remarks made by Clive Palmer, a member of the House of Representatives of the Australian Federal Parliament, are completely unreasonable and absurd, to which we express our strong condemnation.

We noted that Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Foreign Minister Bishop and other senior officials as well as people from all walks of life have publicly refuted Palmer’s words. This shows that Palmer is alone in what he said and did. [Source]

The state-run Global Times, on the other hand, says Palmer’s “rampant rascality serves as a symbol that Australian society has an unfriendly attitude toward China”:

Clive Palmer, an Australian legislator and mining magnate, delivered a scathing harangue in a TV program on Monday, referring to the Chinese government as “bastards,” who “shoot their own people” and want to usurp control of Australia. He called Chinese resources companies “mongrels,” which send workers to destroy the wage system and take over Australian ports and plunder minerals for free.

This is the most vicious attack by one of the Australian elite in recent months.

Not long ago, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Prime Minister Tony Abbott also made bitter remarks against China without any reason, which was quite astonishing. Now Palmer’s “bastards” ravings have intensified this.

[...] China should consider imposing sanctions on Palmer and his companies, cutting off all business contacts with him and forbidding him and his senior executives into China. The sanctions could also be given to any Australian companies which have business dealings with Palmer’s. China must let those prancing provocateurs know how much of a price they pay when they deliberately rile us.

Australian society has been aware that Palmer crossed the red line too far and his remarks, along with those of Bishop and Abbott, pose a direct threat to Australian-Sino relations. Canberra is waiting for China’s reactions, from which they can assess the tenacity of Chinese diplomacy. [Source]

The Global Times makes no mention of Palmer’s later explanation that he only meant to curse Citic Pacific. The newspaper also turned Palmer’s phrase “shoot their own people” into “massacre their own people” (屠杀自己人民). This left room for netizens to speculate on the target of Palmer’s anger. When Sina Comment (新浪评论) posted the Global Times’s story to Weibo, netizens jumped in:

倚天万里须长剑: Massacre their own people? Did that happen? You’re spreading rumors.


鲁有东师古: How disgusting. When did he see a massacre? Was he there on June 4th?


燃烧吧燕小抗: It turns out the murderers are weak-hearted. Someone curses them and they pout that they aren’t happy.


Read more netizen reactions at CDT Chinese.

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5 Members of “Evil Cult” on Trial for Murder

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 11:52

In May, five members of the fringe millenarian Christian group Church of Almighty God, also known as Eastern Lightning (东方闪电), were arrested after fatally attacking a woman who resisted their recruitment efforts in a Shandong McDonald’s franchise. Beijing subsequently launched a crackdown on “evil cults”—a term previously used in reference to Falun Gong practitioners. Xinhua reported earlier this week that the cult crackdown has netted 1,000 members since June:

Chinese police have arrested nearly 1,000 suspected members of the illegal quannengshen (almighty god) cult, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

The suspects, all seized since June, are allegedly involved in more than 500 cases. Among them are nearly a hundred “high-level organizers and backbone members”, a ministry statement said on Tuesday.

[...] “Quannengshen cheats people, illegally collects money and violates the law under the guise of religion. A series of acts by its members have harmed people’s lives and property and disrupted social stability,” the ministry said.

Founded in the 1990s in central China’s Henan Province, quannengshen group claims that Jesus has been resurrected as Yang Xiangbin, wife of the group’s founder Zhao Weishan. The couple fled to the United States in September 2000. [Source]

Xinhua’s announcement of the campaign’s success came just ahead of the five members’ trial for murder, which started yesterday in Shandong and has attracted significant state media attention. The New York Times reports:

Five defendants stood trial in eastern China on Thursday, accused of beating and kicking a woman to death in a McDonald’s restaurant after she resisted their attempt to recruit her into a sect that has been condemned by the government as a malignant cult.

The trial, in the Shandong Province city of Yantai, has been widely publicized by the Chinese news media and has served as the government’s main exhibit in a renewed campaign to eradicate the Church of Almighty God, a homegrown offshoot of Christianity that believes Jesus Christ has returned as a Chinese woman who will save followers from apocalyptic destruction.

[...] The Church of Almighty God fraudulently uses the name of religion to swindle the public and illegally reap wealth,” said a report by Xinhua, the state-run news agency, which accompanied the ministry’s statement. “In recent years, it had been the cause of many cases of harming the public’s safety — of person and property — as well as social stability.”

[...] International human rights groups have said that [previous campaigns, especially those targeting Falun Gong...] have persecuted many people whose only offense has been to embrace beliefs abhorrent to the authorities. Maya Wang, a researcher in Hong Kong with Human Rights Watch, said members of the Church of Almighty God were at similar risk. [...] [Source]

After the launch of the crackdown earlier this summer, members of mainstream and state-sanctioned Christian churches—some of which are themselves facing pressure from the state in the form of forced demolitions and crucifix removals—expressed worry that anti-cult rhetoric would tarnish public perception of their groups. In a report for The Telegraph, Malcolm Moore differentiates the group from orthodox churches noting blatant anti-CCP tenets in the sect’s doctrine. From The Telegraph:

Mr Peng [husband of a cult member] said the teachings are straightforward. “They just want you to repeat over and over that you obey ‘God’, listen to her, and not fight back. And there are threats for those who think of quitting. After six months, a new member can be brainwashed.”

[...] In 22 pages of instructions sent from the United States in June and July, the heads of the cult preached that the “chosen ones” should be ready to “sacrifice their lives” and that their ultimate goal is to kill the Communist party, referred to in their teachings as “the Great Red Dragon”.

[...] “My wife was always very respectful of her mother, so when she asked her to start going, she did,” said Mr Qi, whose wife abandoned him and their five-year-old son earlier this year.

“You can see how far from Christianity this cult is. Christianity preaches that family is important. Who would tell a mother to leave behind their child?” [...] [Source]

The Church of Almighty God’s extremism and blatant anti-CCP stance no doubt raises hackles in Beijing; central and local governments’ have been known to crackdown even on mainstream religious groups seen as a potential challenge to the Party’s authority, and Party officials are discouraged from any religious observance.

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Sensitive Words: Alibaba’s Shareholders, More

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 11:45

As of August 21, 2014, the following search terms were blocked on Sina Weibo (not including the “search for user” function).

More Blocks on Alibaba Shareholders: Last month, the New York Times reported that investment firms with ties to the families of China’s leadership are shareholders in the e-commerce giant Alibaba, which is set to IPO in September. Among those firms are Boyu Capital, one of whose partners is Jiang Zemin‘s grandson Alvin Jiang (Jiang Zhicheng). For more related sensitive words, see our July 22 Sensitive Words post.

  • 陈元+阿里巴巴
: Chen Yuan + Alibaba–Chen Yuan headed the China Development Bank until last year. His father, Chen Yun, was one of the “Eight Immortals” of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
王军+阿里: Wang Jun + Ali–Wang Jun is a former chairman of Citic Capital Holdings, one of the investment firms Alibaba sold shares to in 2012. His father, Wang Zhen, was Chinese vice president from 1988 until his death in 1993.

: China Development Bank + Alibaba–The bank’s investment company also purchased Alibaba stock in 2012.
  • (刘)云山+阿里巴巴: [Liu] Yunshan + Alibaba–Liu Lefei, vice chair of CITIC Securities Co. Ltd., is the son of Politburo Standing Committee member Liu Yunshan.
[Liu] yunshan + Ali
  • 孙子+阿里巴巴
grandson + Alibaba
纽约时报+阿里巴巴: New York Times + Alibaba

江志成+路透社: Jiang Zhicheng + Reuters: Reuters published a special report on Jiang’s company, Boyu Capital, on April 9.
江志成+孙子: Jiang Zhicheng + grandson
  • 江志成+私募
Jiang Zhicheng + private equity


Deng Xiaoping: The 110th birthday of the former “paramount leader” is on August 22. CCTV is airing a 48-episode TV drama about Deng’s career from 1976 to 1984.


Also Blocked:


Sina Weibo often readjusts its censorship strategy regarding popular topics. The blocking of search results for sensitive words, therefore, can also change.This list only reflects the situation at the time of posting. For test screenshots, see our Google+ page [Chinese].

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

Our Grass-Mud Horse List includes blocked Weibo search terms from April 2011 to the present.

CDT Chinese crowd-sources search terms filtered from Weibo search results. 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 through this form:

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China’s Anti-Corruption Crusader and His Battle Plan

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 00:33

At The Wall Street Journal, Lingling Wei and Bob Davis provide a lengthy overview of China’s ongoing anti-corruption crackdown, its human and economic costs, and its chief architect, Xi Jinping’s right hand man Wang Qishan.

Since the corruption drive started, about three dozen officials with the rank of vice minister or higher have been detained on corruption allegations. In 2013 alone, about 182,000 party members were investigated, according to a count by Peking University law professor Jiang Ming’an, compared with roughly 10,000 to 20,000 graft investigations a year before Mr. Xi took power in 2012. So far, those efforts appear to be popular in China. Fifty-three percent of Chinese view corruption as a “very big problem,” according to a 2013 poll by the Pew Research Center in Washington, up from 39% in 2008.

[…] But the crackdown isn’t without its critics. Observers point out that it is helping Mr. Xi sideline powerful figures who could emerge as rivals or otherwise limit his authority, while burnishing his reputation with the public at large. What’s more, some human rights groups have raised concerns that those investigated are being held incommunicado, without access to lawyers or family members. Tactics used to coerce confessions have come under criticism as well: In the harshest example, six Chinese investigators—including five from Mr. Wang’s agency—were convicted of intentional infliction of harm last year when they drowned a local official during an interrogation.

[…] Mr. Wang, square-jawed with a trademark comb-over, is called “the fireman” by the Chinese media for his long career of handling emergencies. His fans have posted messages on social media sites likening him to Justice Bao, a Song Dynasty official who became a symbol of justice because of his willingness to punish powerful people guilty of crimes. They also routinely note that Mr. Wang, who is married, is childless, and thus, by local logic, has less incentive to steal to enrich his family. [Source]

In a separate post at China Real Time, Wei and Davis describe some of the anti-corruption strategies that have been employed, proposed or rejected:

Mr. Wang has said he will focus his attention on officials who keep flouting rules laid out by Communist Party Chief Xi Jinping early in the chief’s tenure—implying that he will give a pass to those who are trying to change their habits. The rules, known as the “eight-point guidelines for official conduct,” forbid public officials from doing things such as throwing extravagant banquets and using government cars for personal purpose.

Mr. Wang’s anticorruption agency is also starting to describe some offenses in plainer language than before, when authorities targeted vague notions such as “lifestyle problems,” so people know what’s barred. For instance, Mr. Wang’s agency recently started to use the term “adultery” for the first time, making clear that infidelity is an infraction of party discipline and can lead to demotions.

[… T]he party is debating whether to require officials to disclose assets publicly for the first time, a tricky issue in any society. Questions abound: Which assets should be disclosed, and to whom? What levels of privacy are public officials entitled to? [Source]

China has taken some tentative steps toward internal asset disclosure requirements, while clamping down on those who advocate the information’s release to the public. On Monday, Bloomberg’s Henry Sanderson noted that many asset disclosure pilot schemes have been abandoned:

The Beijing News found that in 2009 a county in Hunan started to reveal the assets of 69 officials, including details of the property they owned, leading locals to question how a township level official could have a nearly 1,000 square-meter property. The program was stopped after causing some “contradiction” and “disputes,” the paper said, citing an unnamed local discipline inspection official.

In Altay prefecture in northwestern Xinjiang province, the assets of 1,054 officials were disclosed in 2009. The program was stopped after an official from the regional discipline inspection committee died, the Beijing News said.

The paper said that of the 30 trial areas it studied, officials from nine didn’t answer the phone within three days, and a further nine were busy or said they weren’t clear on the situation and couldn’t do interviews. [Source]

Other mooted remedies include the development of judicial independence and rule of law, but many are skeptical of the Party’s promises in these spheres, particularly when its own disciplinary systems exist outside the law. Read more on the feared but flawed machinery of China’s anti-corruption crackdown via CDT.

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China Probes Foreign Ties of Rights Lawyer, NGOs

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 23:22

Reuters’ Sui-Lee Wee reports that interrogation of arrested rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang has concluded, though no decision to prosecute him has yet been announced. Pu’s own lawyer Zhang Sizhi claims that the direction of his questioning supports suspicions that the case is politically motivated, saying that “it looks like someone really wants to take him down.”

Beijing police have questioned Pu on his meetings with former U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke, who had asked Pu to share his views on human rights, said Pu’s lawyer, Zhang Sizhi. Locke left China in February.

[…] Zhang said Beijing police had also questioned Pu in connection with his postings on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, that allegedly “insulted” senior officials including Mao Xinyu, a grandson of Mao Zedong, who holds the rank of major-general in the People’s Liberation Army.

[…] Zhang said Pu has admitted to writing those posts, but said he did not mean to insult. If convicted of insulting people, Pu faces a maximum imprisonment of 10 years.

Beijing police also questioned Pu about his frequent trips to Japan, asking him “why he travelled to Japan four times every year”, Zhang said. Pu’s son studies in Japan. [Source]

Read more on Pu Zhiqiang’s case via CDT.

The focus on Pu’s conversations with Locke, Zhang suggests, implies that police could be gathering evidence of “collusion with hostile foreign organizations.” The news comes amid a “war of words” against the West that has seen the State Council-affiliated Chinese Academy of Social Sciences accused of being a beachhead of foreign influence. At South China Morning Post, Erin Hale notes that NGOs’ foreign ties have also come under close scrutiny by authorities, citing employees and founders of NGOs in Henan, Sichuan, Guangdong and Yunnan.

They say that they have all been questioned either orally or asked to fill out a detailed questionnaire about their source of funding, ties with foreign donors and foreign organisations, as well as their day-to-day operations.

[…] “Ever since Xi Jinping came into power, there has been this larger, kind of fairly strategic and fairly proactive tightening of civil and political freedoms, and the crackdown is not only on NGOs, but also on the internet, mass media, universities, limiting, further narrowing civil and political freedoms,” [Human Rights Watch’s Maya] Wang said. “There seems to be a multi-layered or strategic targeting of various facets of Chinese society, which in the past were fairly strong, [and] have grown even stronger in recent years.”

[…] Shui Yan Tang, a professor at the University of Southern California’s Price School of Public Policy, took a more positive view of the situation. Tang […] thought that China’s NGO probe might have more to do with a desire of the government to regulate the work of NGOs rather than crack down on them. [Source]

In April, The Economist (via CDT) reported that Beijing seemed intent on expanding the role of NGOs in China, so long as their goals align with its own.

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Costs and Consequences of Stability Maintenance

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 15:33

At Foreign Policy, Hu Jia describes his detentions and the house arrests between them, and discusses the treatment of other Chinese activists over the past ten years:

[…L]et’s just look at what has happened since 2004, when Beijing amended the Chinese Constitution to add the phrase, “The Chinese government respects and protects human rights.” 2004 was the fifth anniversary of the suppression of practitioners of the spiritual movement Falun Gong and the 15th anniversary of the June 4 Tiananmen Square massacre, in which Chinese troops opened fire on unarmed protesters in the center of Beijing. That year, in the days leading up to the Tiananmen anniversary, I went to the square to present bouquets of flowers in memory of the victims. But police detained me. I told Yang Shun, a local officer in charge of Guobao, that my behavior was lawful and in accordance with the Constitution. He scoffed. “That was written to show the foreigners,” he told me.

[…] Will things get better? Some say they will improve because Zhou Yongkang, the former head of the Central Political and Legislative Affairs Committee (CPLC) and the official responsible for “security maintenance,” is now out of the picture. And many people praise Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption crackdown on Zhou and his allies.

But the National Security Commission that Xi established in November 2013 is really just a super CPLC. All this is a power struggle within the CCP – what the common people refer to as “dog bites dog.” After Xi eliminates his enemies in the CCP, he will be able to use all the resources at his disposal to move against dissidents. I believe that eventually, China will move in the direction of democracy. But in the meantime, the coldest winter for Chinese dissidents has not yet arrived. [Source]

Hu also points out the case of rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who began campaigning for adherence to the constitution following the 2004 amendment. His efforts brought a string of detentions and a three year prison sentence for inciting subversion of state power, which ended this month. He is now under tight surveillance during a one-year “deprivation of political rights,” while prolonged solitary confinement in prison has reportedly made him incapable of coherent speech. At the University of Nottingham’s China Policy Institute Blog, Jackie Sheehan describes these and earlier abuses, and writes that “the silencing of Gao Zhisheng is a warning to other lawyers and activists”:

Gao’s year of deprivation of rights could stretch into indefinite isolation, surveillance, and pressure to cooperate with the authorities. Inner Mongolian rights activist Hada, “released” from prison at the end of a fifteen-year sentence in December 2010, is still in a “black jail” in Hohhot, denied medical treatment for the severe depression and paranoia he has developed over 18 years of incarceration, but reportedly supplied with plenty of alcohol. His family are continually threatened over their “non-cooperation” and persistence in making Hada’s condition known outside China, using trumped-up drugs charges against his son and ever-tighter restrictions on his wife’s links with outside world.

So let’s not celebrate too soon the abolition, sort of, of re-education through labour, the banning, twice in one year, of interrogation through torture (it was already illegal), or even the reduced application of the death penalty in China, when activists like Gao and Hada can be so effectively destroyed without the need for lethal injection or a firing squad.

The focus of the next CCP plenum, to be held in October 2014, will be the rule of law in China. Perhaps, to paraphrase Gandhi on western civilization, party leaders will conclude that it would be a good idea. [Source]

Read more on prospects for progress on rule of law in light of the fall of Zhou Yongkang via CDT.

Gao’s case is extreme, but even ordinary citizens can find their lives overturned by the arbitrary and opaque consequences of government monitoring. At The New York Times, Murong Xuecun reports how he gained access to his own official personal file, and found it loaded with white lies by well-meaning teachers. But he cites other cases such as that of Tang Guoji, who was made unemployable by comments entered in apparent retaliation for complaints about teaching quality.

Now, with the advent of the Internet age, Beijing has new ways to control the populace. In May, the government announced it was rolling out a national social credit network. This will include a much more powerful personal file system, which, according to the People’s Daily, will collate information on every aspect of the life of every citizen, including records of online activities.

If the government deems a person’s activities “seriously untrustworthy,” his or her everyday life will be jeopardized. It is easy to envision a future where banks can cancel mortgages, the transport bureau can cancel drivers’ licenses, and hospitals can refuse treatment.

For the first half of my life a malevolent spirit in the form of a personal file envelope followed wherever I went, recording my every move, detailing every change in my circumstances. For the rest of my life, I will have an electronic file on me whose contents I may never see. No matter where I go this new file will be a burden that I will have to carry until my dying day. [Source]

At South China Morning Post, Dr Karen Lee of the Hong Kong Institute of Education writes that bribery of would-be petitioners—a reportedly innovative alternative to their detention and torture—has highlighted the mounting cost of all this stability maintenance machinery:

During the term of the now disgraced former security chief Zhou Yongkang from 2007 to 2012, “internal security” became the party’s top priority. Between 2010 and this year, public security spending rose nearly 70 per cent.

For years, the Ministry of Finance has listed “other public safety spending” in its public security budget alongside mundane items such as armed police and the judiciary. But this was absent in the latest budget, announced on March 25.

Authorities allegedly spent 9.5 million yuan (HK$11.6 million) a year during the 19-month house arrest of rights activist Chen Guangcheng , before his escape to the US embassy in Beijing in 2012. From security equipment to personnel, Chen’s detention “has become a lucrative industry” for his poor Shandong native village, The New York Times wrote. And we are talking about just one dissident.

Professor Ding Xueliang, in a 2012 article on the daily’s Chinese website, said stability maintenance was the “second worst” option. For all its social and human costs, its “only merit” lay in avoiding the full-fledged military action seen in June 1989, which was the worst option. The question is, besides the worst and the second worst, is there a better option? [Source]

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Five Tibetans Reported Dead in Police Custody

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 15:31

Following reports last week that police fired on a group of Tibetan protesters in restive Ganzi Prefecture, Sichuan Province, five injured protesters have reportedly died in police custody. From the New York Times:

[...T]he Tibetan government in exile, in Dharamsala, India, said on Wednesday that five men had died in police custody after being detained following a protest last week in which the police shot and used tear gas on an unarmed crowd in Ganzi Prefecture in Sichuan. Initially, reports from the exiled government and other groups said two men had died.

[...] One of the detainees, Lo Palsang, killed himself in detention in Luoxu Township, where two dozen Tibetans were held, the report said. Additionally, “an unidentified 22-year-old Tibetan youth succumbed to injuries sustained during the police firing,” according to the report. Tsering Wangchuk, an officer in Dharamsala with the administration, said staff members there had spoken to people in the area who verified its accounts.

Later, the exiled Tibetan administration said it had confirmed the deaths of three more injured villagers who had been detained, echoing earlier reports from Radio Free Asia, a news service based in Washington, and Free Tibet, a group based in London. Free Tibet said on its website that the three additional victims were all relatives of the arrested village leader.

“It is not known when they died, but their bodies were handed over to their families on Monday,” said the report from the exiled administration, which, like the other reports, cited unnamed sources. [Source]

Ganzi Prefecture, known in Tibetan as Garzê or Kardze, has been a hotbed of protest against Beijing’s rule in Tibetan regions of China.

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Photo: Night in Shanghai, by Ge Li

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 12:47

Night in Shanghai

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Under the Knife

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 12:09

For the New Yorker, Christopher Beam looks at the problems facing China’s health care system, and rising levels of violence by patients frustrated by the lack of care they receive. He recounts the story of 17-year-old Li Mengnan who stabbed doctor Wang Hao to death after being told a hospital in Harbin could not treat his spinal condition:

The killing in Harbin was national news. The health minister called for severe punishment. When Li Mengnan went on trial, four months later, the government took the rare step of opening the courtroom to the media. The Chinese business weekly Caixin spoke of the country’s “doctor-patient conflict,” and an editorial in the British journal The Lancet warned that “China’s doctors are in crisis.”

Violence against doctors in China has become a familiar occurrence. In September, 2011, a calligrapher in Beijing, dissatisfied with his throat-cancer treatment, stabbed a doctor seventeen times. In May, 2012, a woman attacked a young nurse in Nanjing with a knife because of complications from an operation performed sixteen years earlier. In a two-week period this February, angry patients paralyzed a nurse in Nanjing, cut the throat of a doctor in Hebei, and beat a Heilongjiang doctor to death with a lead pipe. A survey by the China Hospital Management Association found that violence against medical personnel rose an average of twenty-three per cent each year between 2002 and 2012. By then, Chinese hospitals were reporting an average of twenty-seven attacks a year, per hospital.

As new details emerged in Harbin, the media’s portrait of the killer softened: Li Mengnan wasn’t a lunatic, nor did he have a history of violence. He was a man whom society had failed so completely that he was impelled to lash out. Wang Hao’s death came to symbolize the collapse of doctor-patient relations and a fundamental dysfunction in China’s health-care system.

[...] It’s not too surprising that doctors face significant public hostility. After the killing in Harbin, there were almost as many expressions of sympathy for the killer as for the victim. When People’s Daily, a newspaper that acts as a Chinese government mouthpiece, posted an online questionnaire asking readers to rate their reaction to the murder, as a smiley face, a sad face, or an angry face, sixty-five per cent of readers chose the smiley face. The survey was taken down, but CCTV aired a segment about it: a commentator mused, “Is it possible that we are all the killers?” [Source]

Read more about the death of Wang Hao and about hospital violence in China, via CDT.

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Minitrue: Promote Duowei Article on Xi Jinping

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 10:47

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 are kindly asked to repost on the double homepages [main and news] the Duowei article “Xi Jinping Is Awakening China.” Take care to control commentary. (August 19, 2014)


Mainland Chinese media have been reposting an “excerpt” from the Duowei article [Chinese], which praises president Xi Jinping for promoting China’s “national rejuvenation,” particularly through his anti-corruption campaign. The “excerpt” [Chinese] is actually an edited version of the original. The English “translation” on China Daily’s website also omits sentences which must have been deemed sensitive or unfit for English readers. For example, the English version mentions the late South African president Nelson Mandela’s “special connections” to China, but omits the quotation attributed to Mandela in the opening paragraph: “He once said, ‘While I was imprisoned on Robben Island for over twenty years, my moral support came from China!’” (他曾称,“我二十多年在罗本岛狱中生活的精神支柱来自中国!”) In the conclusion, former president of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew is quoted as putting Xi in “the Nelson Mandela class of persons.”

From the China Daily:

After showing his resolve with a sweeping and unprecedented anti-graft campaign, which netted Zhou Yongkang, a former member of the Political Bureau Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee, the spotlight of global attention is now on President Xi Jinping.

A year ago, many in China didn’t believe that the CPC would investigate such a high-ranking former top official as Zhou, nor did observers in other countries imagine that Xi, who just come to power, had the capability and courage to cage such big “tigers” as Zhou and Xu Caihou, the former vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission.

The outside world has mostly been impressed by the ruthlessness of the CPC’s anti-corruption campaign. Yet, many people close to the CPC ruling circle said that the fight against corruption is just part of the political objectives of the central leadership led by Xi. Behind the anti-graft campaign is a grand blueprint, which analysts have labeled “The Second Reforms”. The new concept contains a lot more than the word “reforms” can convey and has gone farther and wider than the outside world would imagine. Xi aims to break the entrenched bureaucracy and vested interests of officialdom formed during the fast economic expansion and initiate a brand-new model of governance for a modernized country. What is even more noteworthy is that Xi is quietly leading a revolution that is transforming the CPC’s theory of governance and the legal framework for governance. It has yet to be seen how Xi is going to implement it, but one thing is for sure, he highly cherishes the breadth and depth of traditional Chinese culture. As for economic development, the “new economic normal” idea, which runs counter to the reckless development of the past 30-plus years, has appeared and is starting to take root. What is more, reform of the People’s Liberation Army has been initiated and rebuilding the soul of military has become a top priority.

[...] Xi Jinping insists that he is a loyal descendant of revolutionary elders and it is his mission to revive China and achieve the ruling party’s modernization. “Xi could have enjoyed a relaxed term of office, but as a descendant of revolutionary forerunners, he feels obligated to choose a harder road.” said another offspring of revolutionary elders. Hu Jintao turned over both the power of Party and military to Xi at the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012. Despite being in office for less than two years, Xi’s confidence has made him a mature leader who is not afraid of hardship. The image Xi presents to the public is unimaginable for others, even for friends and colleagues who used to be familiar with him. His every word is no longer an empty slogan, but from his deep thinking. [Source]

Duowei, a Chinese-language media group founded in New York in 1999, is known for its pro-Beijing stance. According Radio Free Asia, Sino-i Technology Ltd. bought Duowei in 2010 and moved the company’s headquarters to Beijing, but its New York address is still listed on its website [Chinese]. Duowei is blocked by the Great Firewall, although the page for the article “Xi Jinping Is Awakening China” is unblocked, according to

On the Duowei article page, several readers have complained about the edits made to the version circulating on mainland websites. “The passengers have no say in where the car goes” (车开向何方,乘客没有发言权), writes one.

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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Saying of the Week: Donate My A**

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 00:00

捐你妹 (juān nǐ mèi): donate my ass

Literally “donate your sister.” After record rains hit Beijing in June 2012, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Civil Affairs called for donations online. Appalled that their tax dollars were not enough, netizens scoffed that they would “donate my ass.”

“Donate my ass” was censored on Weibo around the time of the flood.

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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