VPN crackdown (1)

Source: Sup China (7/31/17)
VPN clampdown getting real
By Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief

Virtual private networks (VPNs) have been a popular tool to get around internet censorship of foreign websites in China for more than a decade. While the regulators have interfered with their operation, there has previously not been a sustained campaign against them. That seems to have changed:

  • In January, we noted that the internet and telecom regulator, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), published an order (in Chinese) specifically naming VPNs as a target for regulation.
  • Earlier in July, we reported that some Chinese VPN services have been shut down, while Bloomberg said that state-run telecommunications firms, including China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom, have been ordered “to bar people from using VPNs.”
  • Apparently in response to Bloomberg’s report, MIIT released a statement saying that it will not block “legitimate access” to the global internet by local or foreign business and general users, while some pundits predicted that the VPN clampdown was mere rhetoric.

Continue reading

VPN crackdown

Source: Quartz (7/12/17)
What you need to know about China’s VPN crackdown
By Echo Huang

FILE - In this Aug. 19, 2013 file photo, computer users sit near a monitor display with a message from the Chinese police on the proper use of the Internet at an Internet cafe in Beijing, China. China is blocking VPN services that let users skirt online censorship of popular websites such as Google and Facebook amid a wider crackdown on online information, tech companies and specialists said Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. The virtual private network provider Golden Frog wrote on its blog that the controls have hit a wide swath of VPN services. The popular provider Astrill informed its users this week that the controls have started hitting iPhone access to services such as Gmail. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

Under watch. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

China seems to be sticking to its self-imposed schedule for making it harder for Chinese citizens to connect to the unfiltered web.

Beijing has ordered three state-owned telecoms—China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom, which together dominate the Chinese Internet access market—to bar individuals from using VPNs, or virtual private networks, starting next February, Bloomberg reported Monday (July 10), citing unidentified sources.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), China’s top internet regulation body, on July 12 said it hasn’t issued such an order, according to news site the Paper (link in Chinese). None of the big three telecoms responded to Quartz’s request for comment. Continue reading

China’s new media strategy on Liu Xiaobo

Source: The Diplomat (7/28/17)
China’s New Media Strategy: The Case of Liu Xiaobo
Instead of hushing up issues it find embarrassing, China is now aggressively manipulating the public discourse.

Pro-democracy activists mourn the death of Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo, outside China’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong, China (July 13, 2017). Image Credit: REUTERS/Bobby Yip

As Chinese Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo lay on his deathbed in a hospital late June, a mysterious video surfaced on YouTube, showing him undergoing medical treatment while in custody and telling medical staff he “greatly appreciated” the care he was given.

While news of his terminal liver cancer was met with shock and disbelief around the globe, China’s state propaganda machine swiftly moved into high gear to make sure its version of the story was dominating public discourse.

When Liu died two and a half weeks later, another video appeared on a Shenyang provincial government website, with a narrator saying Liu had been treated by top medical experts and foreign doctors in a “humanitarian spirit.”  Just hours after his passing, doctors explained to a press conference that Liu couldn’t have traveled abroad to seek treatment as he wished due to the severity of his illness. Continue reading

Online literature franchises

Source: Global Times (7/13/17)
Top 10 online literature writers in China have created franchises worth a staggering 1 billion yuan ($150 million) each
Hurun’s list of most valuable literature IPs reflects growing power of online works
By Huang Tingting

Rupert Hoogewerf (left) and Wang Yuren pose for a picture at a press conference for the Mopian Hurun Most Valuable Creative Works IP 2017 list in Beijing on Wednesday. Photo: Courtesy of the Hurun Report

The top 10 online literature writers in China have created franchises worth a staggering 1 billion yuan ($150 million) each, Rupert Hoogewerf – better known in China as Hu Run, the British founder and chief researcher of the Hurun Report – announced at a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the Hurun Research Institute and domestic IP management agency Mopian released the Mopian Hurun Most Valuable Creative Works IP 2017 list, which lists the top 100 most valuable literature IPs in China after 1998. Continue reading

Fake lives in Beijing (1)

Source: Sup China (7/28/17)
Author of hit ‘faking a life in Beijing’ article apologizes, sorta
By Jiayun Feng

As we noted yesterday, the caustic essay “In Beijing, 20 million people are faking a life,” which became a controversial and viral sensation in China in the last few days, also provoked an unusual reprimand from several state media organizations, including the People’s Daily and Xinhua. Now the essay’s author, Zhang Wumao 张五毛, has apologized for not being discreet enough when writing the essay, and begged media “not to magnify my mistake into a matter of principle” in an interview (in Chinese) with The Economic Observer.

“This is an article with many problems. In fact, I didn’t intend to express anything. I was just being contrarian and trying to amuse readers,” Zhang said. “I didn’t realize that I was wrongly contrarian and trying to amuse wrongly. I don’t want to cause more troubles and make anyone upset about it.” Continue reading

Fake lives in Beijing

Source: Sup China (7/28/17)
Xinhua: No fake lives in Beijing
By Jiayun Feng

On July 23, Chinese blogger and novelist Zhang Wumao 张五毛 published an essay titled “In Beijing, 20 million people are faking a life” on WeChat (see a translation including the original Chinese). The article went viral, generating more than 5 million views and nearly 20,000 comments overnight. Although the essay has been scrubbed from the Chinese internet, it has triggered a heated debate and sparked a series of countering articles, including some by state media such as the People’s Daily and Xinhua.

Zhang’s essay is caustically funny. He writes about the alienation of people living in a Beijing that is too big, too polluted and congested, and too expensive. At least for migrants: Zhang writes about rich old Beijingers who have “five apartments under their butts,” while the people from the provinces who do most of the work in the city struggle to afford even a tiny house in the outer suburbs. He also writes about the ongoing teardown of small shops and restaurants — mostly owned by non-locals — and how the years of destruction mean that even old Beijingers don’t really have a home to go back to. The essay ends: Continue reading

LARB China Channel

Dear MCLCers,

The Los Angeles Review of Books will launch its new China Channel this fall. The China Channel will host a broad range of writing and multimedia about China and the Sinophone world, with an emphasis on literature and culture, and will be accessible to a general audience.

As a commissioning editor, I invite you to pitch and submit essays, book reviews, and multimedia content. Please send your ideas and work to larbchinachannel@gmail.com.

Feel free to email me as well at anne.henochowicz@gmail.com. I look forward to reading/seeing/hearing your submissions. Continue reading

Style guide for Party media (1)

The article states that the name “Xinhuashe” (新华社) was adopted “after the 1949 revolution.” Two problems with this. First, the name Xinhuashe was used from 1937 when the CCP moved to Yan’an (after the Xi’an Incident). Second, officially there was no “revolution” in 1949, only the “establishment of the PRC” (建国).

Thomas Kampen <tk1893@yahoo.com>

Ode to Joy goes wrong

Source: Sixth Tone (1/19/17)
Ode to Joy: A breath of fresh air on Chinese TV that turned toxic
A show about five millennial women making their way in Shanghai is a smash hit. What made it different from other Chinese TV shows, and where has it gone wrong?
By Jiayun Feng

Meet the characters of China’s hit show, Ode to Joy:


Andi 安迪

A former Wall Street executive who returns to China in search of her lost brother. Despite her beauty and intelligence, Andi has social phobias and no experience with relationships.



Qu Xiaoxiao 曲筱绡

Born to an affluent family, Qu is bold, fierce, and good at making drama out of ordinary life.

Continue reading

Style guide for Party media

Source: Sup China (7/20/17)
A style guide for Party media: no bosses or green tea bitches

Founded in 1931 as Red China News Agency 红色中华通讯社, and named after the 1949 revolution, Xinhua News Agency is China’s most important state-owned newswire. Every day, Xinhua feeds thousands of articles to newspapers, websites, and TV stations across China. Xinhua copy is available for free to any news organization; in addition, during some political events, news organizations are required to use Xinhua copy.

So when Xinhua updates its style guide, it affects the way the news is written in every media organization in mainland China. On July 20, Xinhua added 57 new rules (in Chinese) to its existing style guide (which was released in May 2015). Here are some of them:

  • Boss
    Never use boss (老板 lǎobǎn) to describe leading cadres of the Party or people in charge of state-owned enterprises. Continue reading

Getting around censors to mourn Liu Xiaobo

Source: SCMP (7/14/17)
How Chinese internet users got round censors to mourn Liu Xiaobo
Indirect references and imagery used online to express sadness over the death from cancer of the jailed political activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner
By Eva Li

Large numbers of internet users in China have used elaborate methods to get round the censors to express their grief over the death from liver cancer of the political activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.
References to Liu’s name were blocked on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, as well as other phrases linked to the rights activist such as “I have no enemy” – a line from his final statement to court during his trial on subversion charges in 2009.

Liu was sentenced to 11 years in jail, but was released on medical parole and treated in hospital after his cancer was diagnosed in May. He died on Thursday. Continue reading

Tsai Ing-wen embraces Twitter as megaphone

Source: NYT (7/6/17)
Muffled by China, Taiwan President Embraces Twitter as Megaphone

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Over the past year, China has doubled down on its campaign to reduce Taiwan’s presence on the world stage, whether by luring away its few remaining diplomatic allies — most recently Panama — or blocking its participation in international organizations like Interpol and the World Health Organization.

Now President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan is trying to tweet the island back into the global conversation. Continue reading

China Reading ipo

Source: Sup China (7/6/17)
More money for … online literature
By Jeremy Goldkorn

Tencent — the internet behemoth behind WeChat — runs a digital literature publishing company called China Reading, which has begun filing for an initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong, proposing to raise $600 to $800 million. It would be the first listing of a company dedicated to internet literature.

China Reading was originally a company owned by Chinese games giant Shanda. According to TechNode, “China Reading logged $390 million (RMB 2.6 billion) in operating income last year, 77 percent of which came from its reading-related businesses.” The company had around 175 million users at the end of 2016.

Bloggers, filmmakers feel chill of crackdown

Source: Reuters (7/4/17)
China’s bloggers, filmmakers feel chill of internet crackdown
By Pei Li and Adam Jourdan, BEIJING/SHANGHAI

FILE PHOTO - People use computers at an internet cafe in Hefei, Anhui province, September 15, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer

FILE PHOTO – People use computers at an internet cafe in Hefei, Anhui province, September 15, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer

China’s latest maneuvre in a sweeping crackdown on internet content has sent a chill through a diverse community of filmmakers, bloggers, media and educators who fear their sites could be shut down as Beijing tightens control.

Over the last month, Chinese regulators have closed celebrity gossip websites, restricted what video people can post and suspended online streaming, all on grounds of inappropriate content.

On Friday, an industry association circulated new regulations that at least two “auditors” will, with immediate effect, be required to check all audiovisual content posted online – from films to “micro” movies, documentaries, sports, educational material and animation – to ensure they adhere to “core socialist values”. Continue reading

Propaganda trailers at cinemas

Source: China Film Insider (6/30/17)
Chinese Cinemas to Show Propaganda Trailer Ahead of Screenings

In preparation for an important Party meeting later this year, four videos remind viewers of key ideological points.

Moviegoers in China will have to watch public service advertisements that extol the “China Dream” and other ideological slogans, according to a directive from the country’s media regulator that will take effect July 1.

Industry insiders said that cinemas have been instructed to show one of four, minute-long videos collectively titled “The Glory and the Dream” before every movie screening. The clips will be shown from July through October in the run-up to the Communist Party’s 19th National Congress in November — China’s most important political event held every five years. Continue reading