News control, in the palm of your hand

Source: China Media Project (8/29/19)
By David Bandurski

News Control, In the Palm of Your Hand

Remember Xi Jinping’s little red app? “Study Xi, Strong Nation” (学习强国) was introduced back in February this year, along with demands that a wide range of Chinese, from government employees to school teachers, devote sufficient time to the study of the theories and policies of the Chinese Communist Party. The app, which scores users on a point system and tracks their progress, represents the gamification of propaganda and political control. Continue reading

Censorship laws prompt foreign publishers

Source: SCMP (8/25/19)
Chinese censorship laws could prompt foreign book publishers to look elsewhere for printers
By Linda Lew

Foreign publishers are starting to look beyond China. Photo: Bloomberg

Publishers from Australia and New Zealand are looking for printers outside China after falling foul of censorship laws that require maps to be vetted.

A number of businesses have been hit by delays or cancellations – even if the books in question are not intended for local distribution or do not contain China-related content.

Awa Press, a New Zealand publisher, suffered a one-month production delay in October last year when printing the fourth edition of a travel book called Antarctica Cruising Guide because the book contained a map of Antarctica and the Chinese printers needed the extra time to have the map vetted. Continue reading

China Brand Insider

Dear Media Friend,

The publisher of China Film Insider today announced the launch of China Brand Insider, a new weekly business publication specifically focused on the business of brand integration in Chinese entertainment.

China Brand Insider will act as a key source of news and insights for the business of brand integration in the world’s most dynamic consumer culture. The first issue can be viewed here.

The weekly newsletter, written in English, features original content, case studies, and takeaways from the latest Chinese-language news on the relationship between brands and entertainment. CBI as it is known, will also develop in-depth reports and case studies as well as live events to deeply cover the rapid rise of this industry.

For more information, please see the attached press release. Let us know if you have further questions.

Best Regards,
Chen Zeng
China Film Insider

Twitter suspends PRC-based accounts directed at HK

Source: Twitter (8/19/19)
Information operations directed at Hong Kong
By Twitter Safety

We are disclosing a significant state-backed information operation focused on the situation in Hong Kong, specifically the protest movement and their calls for political change.

What we are disclosing

This disclosure consists of 936 accounts originating from within the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Overall, these accounts were deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground. Based on our intensive investigations, we have reliable evidence to support that this is a coordinated state-backed operation. Specifically, we identified large clusters of accounts behaving in a coordinated manner to amplify messages related to the Hong Kong protests. Continue reading

HK through China’s distorted lens

Source: China Media Project (7/24/19)

Hong Kong Through China’s Distorted Lens

A page-one commentary in the Monday edition of the official People’s Dailynewspaper, the flagship publication of the Chinese Communist Party, offered the closest we have yet had to an authoritative response from China’s top leadership on the protests in Hong Kong and related acts of violence that have unfolded in recent days.

The piece is attributed to “a commentator from this paper,” or benbao pinglunyuan(本报评论员), which marks it as executed by top staff at the paper but representing views at the most senior levels of the Party. It essentially takes a strong line on the July 21 incident in which protestors — referred to in the commentary as “radical demonstrators” (激进示威者) and “extremists” (激进分子) — massed at the entrance of the Liaison Office of the Central Government in Hong Kong and pelted the building, including the national emblem of the People’s Republic of China, with black paint, eggs and other projectiles. Continue reading

Three Gorges Dam back in the spotlight

Source: China Media Project (7/7/19)

Three Gorges Dam Back in the Spotlight

(Featured image by Michael Gwyther-Jones available at under Creative Commons license.)

The Three Gorges Project, the gravity dam and hydroelectric power station on the Yangtze River that is currently the world’s largest power station, is back in the news in China. And state-run media are pushing to reassure the public that the dam is safe. So why is this becoming an issue now?

In recent days, posts on social media have suggested satellite imagery of the mega-structure now shows that it is warping, calling into question its structural integrity. Other posts have reported so far unsubstantiated claims that authorities have halted tours to the area. Continue reading

Stories of Digital Radicals–cfp

Stories of Digital Radicals: Call for Submissions
18 Jul 2019

The newly formed Center on Digital Culture and Society (CDCS) at the University of Pennsylvania invites submissions of stories of digital radicals from around the world. A digital radical is a person with a radical relationship to digital technologies. This relationship could be reflected in an attitude or belief, a daily practice, a political act or commitment, a way of life, and more. As to what is radical about the relationship, we will leave it for you to decide. It could be about forms of disengagement from social media, or ways of deploying them for social and political causes. We welcome stories about both well-known public figures and ordinary individuals around us. They may be people you know directly, or people you know through the media or your research. The stories may be biographical or autobiographical. The important thing is that you have a story to tell about the individual, and your story illustrates a vision for what you think of as a radical approach to digital technologies. The current conditions of social media and technological developments demand radical new visions and new politics. Continue reading

Investigative journalists ‘almost extinct’

Source: NYT (7/12/19)
‘We’re Almost Extinct’: China’s Investigative Journalists Are Silenced Under Xi
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
By Javier C. Hernández

Zhang Wenmin in Chengdu, China, in January. Once a widely read investigative journalist, she now has to live mostly off her savings. Credit: Giulia Marchi for The New York Times

BEIJING — She was once one of China’s most feared journalists, roaming the country uncovering stories about police brutality, wrongful convictions and environmental disasters. But these days, Zhang Wenmin struggles to be heard.

The police intimidate Ms. Zhang’s sources. The authorities shut down her social media accounts. Unable to find news outlets that will publish her work, she lives largely off her savings.

“The space for free speech has become so limited,” Ms. Zhang, 45, said. “It’s now dangerous to say you are an independent journalist.” Continue reading

HK celebrities support protests with a cost

Source: NYT (7/5/19)
For Hong Kong Celebrities, Supporting Protests Comes With a Cost
By Daniel VictorAmy Qin and Tiffany May

The singer Denise Ho outside the Legislative Council building in Hong Kong last month. She has been blacklisted in China since throwing her celebrity behind Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement five years ago.CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

HONG KONG — As Hong Kong’s protests evolve into a struggle against the grip of authoritarian China, one of the city’s biggest pop stars has emerged as an icon of defiance. She has spoken at rallies, handed out voter registration forms at marches and stood on the front lines with demonstrators, urging the riot police not to charge.

Denise Ho, a Cantopop singer, is just one of many high-profile figures in the decentralized protest movement, but among Hong Kong’s celebrities, she is a rare breed. Ms. Ho threw her stardom behind the city’s pro-democracy movement five years ago and has since been paying the price — being barred in the lucrative mainland Chinese market. Continue reading

Surveillance app on tourists’ phones

Source: The Guardian (7/2/19)
Chinese border guards put secret surveillance app on tourists’ phones
Software extracts emails, texts and contacts and could be used to track movements
By Hilary Osborne and Sam Cutler

Irkeshtam border

The Irkeshtam border is China’s most westerly border and is used by traders and tourists, some following the historic Silk Road. Photograph: Luo Yang/Xinhua/Barcroft Media

Chinese border police are secretly installing surveillance apps on the phones of visitors and downloading personal information as part of the government’s intensive scrutiny of the remote Xinjiang region, the Guardian can reveal.

The Chinese government has curbed freedoms in the province for the local Muslim population, installing facial recognition cameras on streets and in mosques and reportedly forcing residents to download software that searches their phones.

An investigation by the Guardian and international partners has found that travellers are being targeted when they attempt to enter the region from neighbouring Kyrgyzstan. Continue reading

TikTok reaches 1 billion downloads

Source: SupChina (6/25/19)
TikTok reaches 1 billion downloads, challenges Facebook

Photo credit: SupChina compilation of screenshots from TikTok feeds in the U.S.


In a major milestone for a Chinese technology company, the short-video app TikTok, known as Douyin (抖音 dǒuyīn) in its home country, was downloaded over 1 billion times as of earlier this year. That’s according to statistics from Sensor Tower, a U.S. company that tracks apps.

  • Chinese companies had already produced several mega-apps, including the social media-and-everything-else app WeChat that also has over one billion active users, but none of those apps has ever had global reach.
  • TikTok, by contrast, is an international sensation, with its addictive video algorithm making junkies out of millions from India to Thailand to the United States.
  • Tiktok’s parent company Bytedance, which originally was known for its news app Toutiao, now has more employees than Facebook.

Continue reading

Livestreaming from HK (1,2)

This one is working now:

Four live-streaming channels at this link. it may not be working now but should resume tomorrow.

Chun Chun Ting <>


You can see at Now TV:

Some photos today:反對修例!金鐘集會現場實況/ss-AACKD2v?li=BBqiGU7#image=2

The police were brutal today, and they will be evermore so.

Ng Kwok Kwan Kenny <>

Social media post on the HK situation

As those of us on the list must know by now, the social media in China has been dead for a while. No one dares to post anything “politically sensitive” anymore. But I saw this singular post from a Chinese artist (and a WeChat friend) yesterday and managed to take a snapshot of it before it’s gone. The original appears below, and the translation is as follows:

Wang Wei (not sure who that is, perhaps a pseudonym) writes, “I am not optimistic about this movement. There won’t be a surprise at the end. ‘It’ takes one step after another, until Hong Kong is cornered into the turning point it wants. ‘It’ intends to thoroughly humiliate this city, peeling off its past independence and glory. The number of one million demonstrators means nothing to ‘it.’ For the soul of this city, this is a matter of life or death. The hope of changing reality through reason, held by the youths, will be smashed this time. This is a public prosecution of this city. Some will emigrate; some will kneel; some will be driven into “desperate audacity,” obtaining futureless subjectivities from negation, hatred, and nihilism. Perhaps this will become the 8×8 (June 4th) of this city, and the end of its soul. This is an ongoing urban tragedy.

Best Regards,
Chang Tan
Penn State University

Rural influencers

Source: Trivium (5/28/19)
The rise of rural influencers: Understanding the popularity of China’s “tuwei” KOLs
The popularity of small-town and rural KOLs is driving new trends in China’s internet and marketing cultures.
By Kendra Schaefer

Beginning in 2016, China saw the sudden and meteoric rise of the short video social media platform Kuaishou 快手. The app had been quietly accumulating a following since its launch in 2011, focusing on half-organic, half-algorithm-driven growth and ignoring traditional media and influencer marketing altogether. The strategy worked, and as of 2018, it was sitting on a registered user base of over 700 million people, 100 million of whom visit the platform daily.

What makes it unique among Chinese apps is not its feature set, but the demographics of its user pool, which is comprised of a higher percentage of rural and small-town residents than competing short video platforms. This emerging user segment has given rise to a new type of influencer, the tuwei 土味 KOL, one that doesn’t bother with the manicured, fashion-focused gloss — aka the chaowei 潮味 style — that characterizes urban internet celebs. Continue reading

Internet phrases you should know

Source: Goldthread (5/29/19)
5 Chinese internet slang phrases you should know, illustrated
By Frankie Huang
Frankie Huang is a Shanghai-based illustrator who writes a daily Twitter column called #PutongWords, where she dissects the origins of commonly used Chinese phrases.Many of them are poetic and visual—such as 吸猫 (ximao), “inhaling cats”—but they carry much deeper meanings. (In this case, “inhaling cats” is internet slang for people who are addicted to taking care of their pets.) We asked Frankie to illustrate some common Chinese internet slang and explain the deeper meaning behind the literal phrases.


Get shot lying down

Sometimes you go out of your way to avoid trouble, but trouble finds you like a stray bullet during a firefight. 躺枪 (tangqiang) literally means “to get shot lying down,” and it perfectly describes a situation where you become the victim of a fight in which you had no stake in fighting. The phrase is frequently used in online forums and conversations where multiple parties are present and things get a little too messy or heated. Continue reading

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