Interview with Ma Jian

Source: Deutsche Welle (10/18/17)
Chinese author Ma Jian: ‘The Communist Party keeps their people well-fed, but in a cage’
Every five years, China’s Communist Party convenes at a special congress. Can the one taking place now bring about political change? DW spoke with Chinese author and activist Ma Jian, who lives in Berlin.

Chinese author Ma Jian (picture-alliance/U. Baumgarten)

Ma Jian

Ma Jian was born in Qingdao, Shandong Province, East China in 1953. He lived and worked as a writer, photographer and painter in Beijing, then later in Hong Kong, before moving to London in 1999. A political dissident then and an outspoken critic of Communist China ever since, his award-winning literary works of his travels through China and Tibet lent voice to his country’s “lost generation.”

His most famous book, “Beijing Coma,” was published in 2008 and likewise garnered numerous awards. For his book “The Dark Road,” published in 2013, which explores China’s one-child policy, he traveled extensively through the country’s remote interior. Continue reading

Australian official warns about Chinese influence

Things are really heating up in Australia, with the country’s foreign minister and other elected officials warning Chinese Communist activists in the country to respect Australia’s “values of openness and upholding freedom of speech.” –Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation (10/16/17)
China’s soft power: Julie Bishop steps up warning to university students on Communist Party rhetoric
By defence reporter Andrew Greene and political reporter Stephen Dziedzic

Julie Bishop speaks into two microphones at a lectern. She is wearing a beige coloured suit and jewelled earrings.

Julie Bishop gives a speech. Ms Bishop said freedom of speech was crucial for all those living in or visiting Australia.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has issued a blunt warning to Chinese university students affiliated with the Communist Party, urging them to respect freedom of speech in Australia.

There are mounting anxieties about the way the Chinese Government uses student groups to monitor Chinese students in Australia, and to challenge academics whose views do not align with Beijing’s.

Australia’s security agencies are now pushing allies — including the US, the UK, Canada and New Zealand — to hammer out a collective strategy to resist Chinese Government intrusions into Western universities. Continue reading

Digital authoritarianism/Leninism

On the occasion of the China congress, the BBC has an excellent, brief overview of Chinese digital authoritarianism, only leaving out mention of repressive measures retained for those who try anything:  See the link for lots of illustrations and video.

“How authorities censor your thoughts.” By Stephen McDonell. BBC News (16 October 2017).

Some are now identifying the new system as “digital Leninism”:

Heilmann, Sebastian. “Big Data reshapes China’s approach to governance.” Merics (2 October 2017).

–Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Party Congress news

Source: Sup China (10/12/17)
Today’s reading on the 19th Party Congress and Chairman Xi
By Jeremy Goldkorn

If you can’t get enough news about President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party’s 19th Congress, the meeting set for next week when the leadership team and policy direction for the next five years will be announced, here is a selection of interesting reading:

  • On Macro Polo, Damien Ma says that despite the extraordinary power that Xi has in his hands, and the official adoration of Xi that some call a personality cult, Xi will probably “still be bound by certain core ideas of how the Party-state behaves and functions.” Ma borrows “from the CCP’s preference for numerology” and call the core Party ideas “the Four Avoids and Three Imitates”:
    • Avoid the Soviet Union’s political sclerosis and collapse.
    • Avoid India’s raucous and unbridled democracy.
    • Avoid Japan’s economic bust and subsequent stagnation.
    • Avoid Latin American-style urbanization and shock therapy. Continue reading

1.34 million officials punished for graft

Source: Reuters (10/8/17)
Chinese watchdog says 1.34 million officials punished for graft since 2013
By Reuters Staff

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s anti-graft watchdog said roughly 1.34 million lower-ranking officials have been punished since 2013 under President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption drive.

Xi, who is preparing for a major Communist Party leadership conference later this month, has made an anti-graft campaign targeting “tigers and flies”, both high and low ranking officials, a core policy priority during his five-year term.

China is preparing for the 19th Congress later this month, a twice-a-decade leadership event where Xi is expected to consolidate power and promote his policy positions. Continue reading

Ideas and ideologies competing for China’s political future

Source: Merics: Mercator Institute for Chinese Studies
Ideas and ideologies competing for China’s political future

How online pluralism challenges official orthodoxy

Unlike any other Chinese leader since the beginning of the reform era, Xi Jinping has worked on crafting a unified national ideology with the aim to strengthen the ties between China’s citizens and the Communist Party of China (CCP). The Xi leadership tries to rally support around the “China Dream,” the vision of China as a global player, and it promotes the “China Path” as an alternative to market economies and liberal democracies.

Although partially successful, the propaganda offensive has so far not yielded the desired result: a broad-based societal consensus on China’s future course. A new publication by the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) shows widely differing views within Chinese society on China’s developmental model and its global role.

For their report, “Ideas and ideologies competing for China’s future,” Kristin Shi-Kupfer, Mareike Ohlberg, Simon Lang and Bertram Lang analyzed debates in Chinese social media and conducted a survey among predominantly urban Chinese netizens. Even though party-state propaganda played a dominant role, debates in online chat groups such as Weibo or Tianya Net displayed a wide range of opinions despite censorship and repression of dissent.

Continue reading

A monument to Xi’s power

Source: NYT (10/8/17)
Chinese Village Where Xi Jinping Fled Is Now a Monument to His Power
查看简体中文版  | 查看繁體中文版<

Liangjiahe, where President Xi Jinping of China spent a formative period of his youth during the Cultural Revolution, has been converted into a tourist attraction that attempts to show how the village helped forge his strongman style. CreditBryan Denton for The New York Times

LIANGJIAHE, China — Almost 50 years after Xi Jinping first trudged into this village as a cold, bewildered teenager, hundreds of political pilgrims retrace his footsteps every day.

They follow a well-trod course designed to show how the seven years that the young Mr. Xi spent in this hardscrabble village in China’s barren northwest forged the strongman style that he now uses to rule the world’s most populous nation. Visitors peer down a well that Mr. Xi helped to dig, admire a storage pit that he built to turn manure into methane gas for stoves and lamps, and sit for inspirational lectures outside the cave homes where he sheltered from the chaos of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution. Continue reading

The Giant Awakens

A Collection of Insights into Chinese Government Influence in Australia

Download the full PDF version of The Giant Awakens

Read the e-book version of The Giant Awakens online


Influence /ˈɪnflʊəns/ [mass noun]:The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself.

The Chinese government’s vast sphere of influence has been a widely debated topic over the past few months. In many instances, discussions have blurred the lines between China – a country with a rich history of 5,000 years – and the Chinese government – currently controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.

China’s culture, its arts and trade relations with Australia, have had a significant influence on Australia’s development as a well-integrated multicultural society. The cultural and economic contributions of the 1.2 million Chinese living and studying in Australia cannot be overstated. Continue reading

Right to the city in China

Source: Chinoiserie (9/28/17)
Commons and the Right to the City in Contemporary China
By Carlo Inverardi-Ferri

Photo by the author.

This short essay tells the story of Dongxiaokou, an urban village in the northern outskirt of Beijing, infamously known in the press as the ‘waste village’ (feipincun). Until urban redevelopment projects accelerated its demolition in recent years, this informal settlement had been one of the biggest in the metropolis. Situated between the Fifth and Sixth ring road, around ten kilometres from the city centre, it hosted a massive population of migrant workers, who had made this place their home and used it as a base to enter the Chinese capital’s labour market. Continue reading

N. Korean women who escape to China

About the massive ongoing abuses against the thousands of North Korean refugees who escape to China, and about the rising protests in South Korea against China, for refusing to acknowledge them as refugees, and for sending them back (–Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Source: The Conversation (October 2, 2017)
A terrible fate awaits North Korean women who escape to China.
By Hyun-Joo Lim.

South Koreans protest against China’s treatment of northern defectors. EPA/Jeon Heon-Kyun

As North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme and provocative missile tests draw the world’s attention, one crucial reality about the totalitarian regime has been left largely unnoticed: as bleak as life is for most who live in North Korea, it is often far worse for those who flee – most of whom are forced to suffer horrific human rights abuses away from the world’s scrutiny. Continue reading

Ideological drive among youth

Source: China Digital Times (9/28/17)
China Steps Up Ideology Drive Among Youth

The Chinese government has always made painstaking efforts to keep popular  in line with the Party, especially for the younger generations. In recent years, the official grip over young minds has loosened for many reasons, including the prevalence of the internet, the dominance of western media and pop culture, and the rising awareness of circumvention tools. All of these factors have made it increasingly difficult to meet the goals of a recent official campaign to “ward off Western influence” in education. In response, the Party has been struggling to ensure that its ideology is passed on to the younger generation. Te-Ping Chen from The Wall Street Journal wrote about how China has stepped up to tighten the ideological control among college students:

In a drumbeat that has accelerated ahead of October’s twice-a-decade Party Congress, President Xi Jinping’s campaign to rein in civil society, online media and speech has extended to the classroom. Continue reading

Fable of the master storyteller

With his signature blend of probing research and crisp satire, David Bandurski hits another one out of the park–Andrew Clark <>

Source: China Media Project (9/29/17)
The Fable of the Master Storyteller
by David Bandurski

The Fable of the Master Storyteller

Copies of Xi Jinping Tells a Story

To Xi Jinping’s growing list of titles as Chairman of Everything, add one more: Storyteller-in-Chief. In the five years since he became general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party in November 2012, Xi has authored no less than four books, including The Governance of China (the tome on his ruling vision that Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg made such a show of placing on his desk), Up and Out of Poverty (a collection of his writings through the 1990s), The Chinese Dream and the Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation (which helps readers “come to understand the true nature of the Chinese Dream“), and the tenderly titled Knowing Deeply: Loving Keenly (a book of his writings from the early 1980s). Continue reading

United Frontlings Always Win

Insightful on the ongoing uproar over Chinese influence in New Zealand, also on Anne-Marie Brady’s report “Magic Weapons: China’s Political Influence Activities under Xi Jinping,” and, generally, on Chinese tactics for co-opting people thru the longstanding “United Front” program: Scroll down for “United Frontlings Always Win” by Jichang Lulu.

Magnus Fiskesjö <>