Inside China global propaganda campaign

Source: The Guardian (12/7/18)
Inside China’s audacious global propaganda campaign
Beijing is buying up media outlets and training scores of foreign journalists to ‘tell China’s story well’ – as part of a worldwide propaganda campaign of astonishing scope and ambition.
By Louisa Lim and Julia Bergin

China Central Television’s headquarters (right) in Beijing.

China Central Television’s headquarters (right) in Beijing. Photograph: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

As they sifted through resumes, the team recruiting for the new London hub of China’s state-run broadcaster had an enviable problem: far, far too many candidates. Almost 6,000 people were applying for just 90 jobs “reporting the news from a Chinese perspective”. Even the simple task of reading through the heap of applications would take almost two months.

For western journalists, demoralised by endless budget cuts, China Global Television Network presents an enticing prospect, offering competitive salaries to work in state-of-the-art purpose-built studios in Chiswick, west London. CGTN – as the international arm of China Central Television (CCTV) was rebranded in 2016 – is the most high-profile component of China’s rapid media expansion across the world, whose goal, in the words of President Xi Jinping, is to “tell China’s story well”. In practice, telling China’s story well looks a lot like serving the ideological aims of the state. Continue reading

Gaokao public outcry (1)

Unmentioned by this article, but essential to understanding it, is the fact that since 1985 the gaokao has not been a uniform national exam.  Zhejiang’s license to customize the exam for Zhejiang students dates from 2003. Wikipedia says that 16 provinces and municipalities customize their exams.

This is doubtless a complex matter which I am not qualified to judge, but it seems to me that varying the questions (as well as the grading protocols) from province to province compromises a national exam’s ability to ration access to the best universities based on merit.

A. E. Clark <aec@raggedbanner.com>

2018’s hottest buzzwords

Source: World of Chinese (11/28/18)
What are 2018’s hottest buzzwords?
Official and netizen-submitted nominations for 2018’s buzzword phrase of the year
By Sun Jiahui (孙佳慧)

It’s that time of year again. Soon, China’s language authorities will declare 2018’s hottest buzzwords and slang—“进博会 (World Import Expo)” and  “板门店宣言 (the Panmunjom Declaration)”—while netizens react with confusion.

The annual search has four categories—Domestic Word, Domestic Phrase, International Word, and International Phrase–that seek to nail down the words, characters, and phrases most widely used.

Official contenders (besides the two above examples) include “幸福都是奋斗出来的 (happiness comes from efforts),” “改革开放四十周年 (40th anniversary of reform and opening-up),” “宪法修正案 (constitutional amendment),” “港珠澳大桥 (Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge),” “平昌冬奥 (Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang),” “中非命运共同体 (a community of shared future for China and Africa),” “5G,” “正当防卫 (justifiable defense),” and “e-sports (电竞).” Of course, these are just the official contenders, and everyday speakers may have very different opinions on what constitutes the pandian of the year. Continue reading

Great Transformation exhibit

There’s been a lot of media attention in China to the recently-opened Great Transformation (伟大的变革) exhibit at the National Museum of China and to Xi Jinping’s visit to it earlier this month. See, for example, this vacuous piece from the China Daily: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201811/26/WS5bfb41eca310eff30328af2b_3.html. The SCMP’s take is more interesting.–Kirk

Source: SCMP (11/16/18)
What does ‘opening up’ exhibition giving credit to SOEs and Xi Jinping say to China’s private firms?
By Amanda Lee
Deng Xiaoping, who began reforms that transformed the economy, marginalised in displays marking their 40th anniversary. Beijing continues to send mixed messages about support for ailing private sector, which contributed two-thirds of China’s growth last year

State-owned enterprises are much more prominent than the private sector and President Xi Jinping far more visible than Deng Xiaoping in a special exhibition marking 40 years since China’s reform and opening up, stressing the Communist Party’s role in the economy even as Xi courts private firms to help stabilise growth during the trade war with the United States.

The exhibition, at the National Museum of China in Beijing, devotes half of a display about Chinese leaders to the achievements of Xi, who took office in 2012 yet receives more emphasis than former paramount leader Deng – under whom China began its economic transformation in 1978 – and his successors. Continue reading

Another crackdown on online expression

Source: Sup China (11/14/18)

The National Internet Information Office of China, the country’s top cyber authority, has launched yet another crackdown against online expression, with “self-media,” blogs, and microblogs squarely in the crosshairs.

  • More than 9,800 blogging accounts have been erased from the internet since the campaign started on October 20, according to a statement (in Chinese) from the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC).
  • Reasons include spreading “politically harmful information” (政治有害信息 zhèngzhì yǒuhài xìnxī), creating rumors that disrupt the normal social order, and circulating vulgar content that has a negative impact on teenagers. “The chaotic nature of these self-media accounts seriously trampled on the dignity of laws and regulations, harmed the interests of the people, shaped online public opinion in a negative way, and caused strong backlash from the society,” the statement reads.
  • The move comes after a series of commentary articles published by the People’s Daily in October, which criticized bloggers, also known as self-media practitioners, for writing clickbait, spreading rumors to mislead the public, and being driven solely by profit. The Party’s house newspaper also urged authorities to introduce more laws and regulations to restore order in the space of online information. (All links in Chinese).
  • In August 2017, China initiated investigations into top social media sites, including WeChat and Weibo, claiming that they failed to comply with cyber laws. One month later, the cyberspace authorities moved to monitor conversations on WeChat more closely, which prompted many users to impose self-censorship by deleting chat groups. Continue reading

Women and the Periodical Press in China

New Publication
Women and the Periodical Press in China’s Long Twentieth Century: A Space of their Own?
EDITORS: Michel Hockx, Joan Judge, and Barbara Mittler
Cambridge University Press, 2018

In this major new collection, an international team of scholars examine the relationship between the Chinese women’s periodical press and global modernity in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The essays in this richly illustrated volume probe the ramifications for women of two monumental developments in this period: the intensification of China’s encounters with foreign powers and a media transformation comparable in its impact to the current internet age. The book offers a distinctive methodology for studying the periodical press, which is supported by the development of a bilingual database of early Chinese periodicals. Throughout the study, essays on China are punctuated by transdisciplinary reflections from scholars working on periodicals outside of the Chinese context, encouraging readers to rethink common stereotypes about lived womanhood in modern China, and to reconsider the nature of Chinese modernity in a global context.

Virtual news anchors debut on Xinhua

Source: Washington Post (11/9/18)
These news anchors are professional and efficient. They’re also not human.
China reveals world’s first virtual news anchors powered by artificial intelligence
China’s Xinhua TV news agency has created the world’s first virtual news anchors powered by artificial intelligence. (Reuters)
By Taylor Telford

The new anchors at China’s state-run news agency have perfect hair and no pulse.

Xinhua News just unveiled what it is calling the world’s first news anchors powered by artificial intelligence, at the World Internet Conference on Wednesday in China’s Zhejiang province. From the outside, they are almost indistinguishable from their human counterparts, crisp-suited and even-keeled. Although Xinhua says the anchors have the “voice, facial expressions and actions of a real person,” the robotic anchors relay whatever text is fed to them in stilted speech that sounds less human than Siri or Alexa. Continue reading

MMA fighter takes on grandmasters of kung fu

Source: Time (11/8/18)
Meet the Chinese MMA Fighter Taking on the Grandmasters of Kung Fu
By CHARLIE CAMPBELL/BEIJING

Fighters aren’t usually the blushing type. But Xu Xiaodong can’t hide his embarrassment when asked about his latest battle scar, a three-inch crimson railroad track that snakes over his right eyebrow. It was caused, he says, by an overzealous opponent’s knee at a recent training session, during which Xu grappled with four younger mixed-martial-arts (MMA) fighters in quick succession. “I was tired by the end and bam!” Xu tells TIME in his Beijing gym. “Twenty-six stitches!”

It’s by far the most obvious of the 40-year-old’s war wounds, eclipsing even cauliflower ears and a catalog of creaking bones. But it’s nowhere near the deepest. Xu has spent a lifetime fighting, first at school and later channeling a red-hot adolescent temper into competitive MMA. But the fiercest blows he suffered were far from the ring, when he took on practitioners of traditional Chinese martial arts, known officially as wushu but more colloquially as simply kung fu. Continue reading

Social credit overview

Source: China Law Translate (10/31/18)
Social Credit Overview Podcast

Sorry for the sound quality, it’s just me with a laptop and a baby sleeping in the other room.

Transcript

Hi this is Jeremy Daum of China Law Translate and Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center. If you’re listening to this you’ve probably seen an article or watched a show about China Social Credit System and chances are it also mentioned Orwell or Black Mirror somewhere in there. Continue reading

China’s grand Internet vision rings hollow

Source: Bloomberg (11/7/18)
China’s Grand Internet Vision Is Starting to Ring Hollow
Bloomberg News
Flagship internet conference drifts further from its roots. China remains intent on enlarging role in global industry

The Light of Internet Expo ahead of the 5th World Internet Conference in Wuzhen on Nov. 6. Photographer: AFP via Getty Images

Ever since Chinese President Xi Jinping marked the opening of the first World Internet Conference in 2014, it was meant to usher in a new era of digital openness and project China as a champion of global cyber-governance.

The forum’s mastermind — then-cyberspace czar Lu Wei — began aggressively courting U.S. technology giants, leading delegations of the Chinese industry’s brightest around Silicon Valley. In 2017, Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook and Alphabet Inc.’s Google CEO Sundar Pichai headlined the event in the town of Wuzhen. Continue reading

Xi elbows Deng aside

Source: NYT
China’s Leader, Hogging Spotlight, Elbows Communist Titan Aside
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
By Steven Lee Meyers

In a painting touring museums across China, President Xi Jinping is front and center while a statue of Deng Xiaoping is a distant image.CreditCreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

SHENZHEN, China — Shortly after taking over as China’s leader, Xi Jinping made a pilgrimage to lay a wreath at a large bronze monument to one of his predecessors, the man credited with ushering in the country’s new era of capitalist prosperity 40 years ago, Deng Xiaoping.

Mr. Xi’s gesture here in the southern city of Shenzhen was hardly remarkable. Deng is second only to Mao in the pantheon of Communist China’s founding fathers, and his influence and popularity lingered long after his death in 1997. Every Chinese leader since has sought to position himself as heir to Deng’s legacy.

Mr. Xi, though, now appears to be taking a different approach. Continue reading

‘Simple’ guide to Xi Jinping Thought (2)

Source: China Media Project (11/1/18)
THE MEDICINE CABINET
By Staff

The Medicine Cabinet

The mobile news app of the Chinese Communist Party’s official People’s Daily newspaper recently released a colorful chart that mapped the complex system of President Xi Jinping’s central governing concept, “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism With Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” (习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想). The chart had 30 main branches shooting off from the primary trunk of this supreme buzzword, and each branch, dealing with various aspects of policy and ideology, proliferated into numerous sub-branches. Continue reading

Internet is freaking out over a 5-year-old’s resume

Source: SupChina (10/31/18)
The Chinese Internet Is Freaking Out Over A Five-Year-Old’s Résumé
By Jiayun Feng

Full-fledged adults should stop whining about how arduous it is to write a decent résumé, because this five-year-old kid in China has just mastered the art of self-aggrandizing.

Today, an extensive résumé (in Chinese) by an anonymous kindergarten kid became the hottest topic on Chinese social media. Coming in the form of a 15-page PDF document, the résumé gives an incredibly comprehensive overview of the child’s awe-inspiring history.

Continue reading

Chinese farmer who live-streamed her life

Source: The New Yorker (10/29/18)
The Chinese Farmer Who Live-Streamed Her Life and Made a Fortune
By Yi-Ling Liu

Liu Mama, a loud-mouthed, ruddy-cheeked Northern farmer with millions of online followers, is one of many Chinese live-streamers participating in a virtual gold rush. Liu Mama / Kuaishou

Three years ago, Liu Mama was an unremarkable middle-aged farmer from the Dongbei region, in northeastern China. Then she started presenting her life on the social-media platform Kuaishou. Liu Mama’s son-in-law, who would later assume the role of her trusty cameraman, introduced her to the live-streaming craze, and they decided to try it out, for laughs. The first videos, each less than a minute long, show Liu, short and squat, black hair pulled back in a tight ponytail, dressed in a red mian ao (a cotton-padded jacket)—the archetype of the good farmer’s housewife—sitting at the kitchen table. She’s chewing on pork ribs and fish heads while composing crude rhymes about the glories of rural life. “Chowin’ on a pork bone / mouth covered in oil / Bringin’ me good luck / two years on,” she hollers between bites. Continue reading

‘Simple’ guide to Xi Jinping Thought (1)

Better than the SCMP article is this piece from Inkstone:

https://www.inkstonenews.com/politics/peoples-daily-makes-xi-jinping-thought-infographic-anniversary/article/2169306

I strongly recommend Prof. Carrico’s essay recounting his personal study of Xi Jinping Thought:

https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/10/18/i-mastered-xi-jinping-thought-and-i-have-the-certificate-to-prove-it/

He also comments on the mind-map for a website in New Zealand:

https://www.stuff.co.nz/world/asia/107974412/consciously-mystifying-chinese-president-xi-jinping-thoughtmapped-for-the-masses

What strikes me about this “map” is that its top-level organization appears to be spurious. The central box, which in a mind-map is supposed to be a root concept, is only the chart’s title. The thirty principal topics are numbered, but is there any intrinsic sequence to the ideas? (Except perhaps for the self-referential #1, which states that XJP Thought must guide the Party and the Nation for the long term.)  Also, is there any actual association connecting topics that have been printed in the same color?  The biggest problem, of course, is that a mind-map with 30 top-level domains offers the viewer no fundamental structure by which to grasp it.

As some wag commented: The Emperor’s new mind . . .

A. E. Clark <aec@raggedbanner.com>

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