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 showed China is a threat to democracy

Source: The Guardian (7/16/19)
Hong Kong showed China is a threat to democracy. Now Europe must defend Taiwan
By Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Beijing is bullying another democratic neighbour. The EU must stop ignoring authoritarianism for the sake of stability and cash

China’s sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning

China’s aircraft carrier, the Liaoning. China ‘has stepped up its aerial missions violating Taiwanese airspace, sailing warships near or in Taiwanese waters’. Photograph: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

Hong Kong’s administration has backed down over the controversial extradition bill, but the canary in the coalmine of China’s tacit acceptance of democracy is already dead.

Under China’s “one country, two systems” model, Hong Kong was given the guarantee that the freedoms of its citizens would be preserved and respected. Meanwhile, for a long time in the west, the consensus was that, as its economy grew, China would start to look more like Hong Kong. Regrettably, in recent years the opposite has happened and Hong Kong looks more like China by the year. Perhaps we were naive to believe that this erosion of Hong Kong’s democracy was not inevitable. Beijing makes no secret of its view that democracy and Chinese civilisation are incompatible. The protesters in the streets of Hong Kong would beg to differ, and I hope they succeed through peaceful means. Continue reading

HK’s new political lexicon

Source: LA Times (7/8/19)
Hong Kong’s new political lexicon

Hong Kong’s new political lexicon

Anti-extradition bill protesters take part in a march to West Kowloon railway station in Hong Kong, China, July 7, 2019. (Chan Long Hei /EPA-EFE/REX)

For many of my fellow citizens in Hong Kong, June 2019 has broken new ground in the city’s political imagination. With mass street rallies against the extradition of criminal suspects to China, violent police crackdowns and the storming of the Legislative Council Complex, we’ve entered a time of living dangerously and truthfully — in opposition to an autocratic and intransigent government and in solidarity with the youth on the front line and their moral clarity.

Hong Kongers are first and foremost quick-witted pragmatists. They don’t typically embrace theories or ideologies about consciousness liberation. But that is what’s happening today, and in the process, they have added new keywords to the city’s political lexicon. This must be recognized as a victory, regardless of the fate of the extradition bill and Chief Executive Carrie Lam and her government. Continue reading

Xu Zhangrun vs. Tsinghua

Source: China Heritage (7/10/19)
The Case for Humanity Over Bastardy: Xu Zhangrun vs. Tsinghua University, Voices of Protest and Resistance (XXIX)
Geremie R. Barmé

Making a Case for Humanity Over Banditry 《人間不是匪幫》, published by Oxford University Press, is a selection of commentaries, essays, reviews and memoirs written by Xu Zhangrun between September 2012 and February 2019. Many of the chapters have previously appeared online, while some were composed following the publication of the author’s controversial July 2018 essay ‘Imminent Fears, Immediate Hopes’ 我們當下的恐懼與期待 (China Heritage, 1 August 2018). Although the ninety essays contained in Xu’s new book range over many topics, they reflect an abiding theme in the author’s thinking: humanity and decency, as opposed to the hypocrisy and lawlessness of one-party autocracy.

Below, we first pause to introduce the Introduction of Professor Xu’s book by offering an essay from the collection itself. ‘A Life at the Lectern’ 一輩子站講台 originally appeared in March 2016 and, unbeknownst to its author at the time, it would be something of an envoi to his previous life since, due to his increasingly outspoken criticisms of the Chinese Communist Party dating from that year, he would eventually be banned from his beloved career as a university lecturer. From late 2018, he was cautioned against all forms of public engagement and, from March 2019 further explicitly banned by ‘special investigators’ assigned to his ‘case’ at Tsinghua University from publishing, be it on Mainland China, in Hong Kong, Taiwan or elsewhere. His response to such interdictions has been that of unswerving recalcitrance and although Xu’s fate alerted people both in- and outside China to the increasingly blighted intellectual landscape of the People’s Republic, his work as well as the voices of his supporters have been a warning and a clarion call to all those who oppose and who are willing to resist Communist Party dominion…. [continue reading]

Xinjiang schools used to separate children from families

Source: BBC News (7/4/19)
China Muslims: Xinjiang schools used to separate children from families
BBC News, Xinjiang

The BBC’s John Sudworth meets Uighur parents in Turkey who say their children are missing in China

China is deliberately separating Muslim children from their families, faith and language in its far western region of Xinjiang, according to new research.

At the same time as hundreds of thousands of adults are being detained in giant camps, a rapid, large-scale campaign to build boarding schools is under way.

Based on publicly available documents, and backed up by dozens of interviews with family members overseas, the BBC has gathered some of the most comprehensive evidence to date about what is happening to children in the region.

Records show that in one township alone more than 400 children have lost not just one but both parents to some form of internment, either in the camps or in prison. 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

HK protests show dangers of cashless society

Source: Reason (7/2/19)
Hong Kong Protests Show Dangers of a Cashless Society
Many digital payments can be tracked, potentially assisting an authoritarian crackdown.

It can be easy to take cash for granted, especially in a wealthy, developed economy. Those fortunate enough to live in a stable society usually suffer no lack of payment options. They are getting more advanced all the time, with financial technology (fintech) companies constantly developing new ways to quickly and cheaply make purchases and send money. It sometimes seems the days of old-fashioned cash, with its dormant physicality, are numbered.

Allowing cash to die would be a grave mistake. A cashless society is a surveillance society. The recent round of protests in Hong Kong highlights exactly what we have to lose. 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

Why many in China oppose HK protests

Source: NYT (7/1/19)
Why Many in China Oppose Hong Kong’s Protests
By Li Yuan

A democracy rally in Hong Kong last week.CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

Cecilia Zhang is the sort of Chinese person who you might think would be sympathetic to the protesters in Hong Kong. She went to a prestigious American university, gets her news from foreign media and has no plan to move back to the mainland from Hong Kong, where she has worked in the financial industry for the past four years.

But she says she doesn’t understand why people in Hong Kong continue to take to the streets. In fact, she thinks they should go home.

After hours of protesting in Hong Kong, demonstrators broke into the Legislative Council chambers on Monday. They were later cleared out by riot police who charged the crowd and used tear gas. Continue reading

Protesters storm HK legislature

SCMP has produced a detailed timeline of events, with photos, of the July 1 round of protests in Hong Kong. It’s too long to post here in its entirety.–Kirk

Source: SCMP (7/1/19)
Protesters storm Hong Kong’s legislature after hours of mayhem

  • Demonstrators vandalise entrances to Hong Kong’s legislature causing unprecedented red alert
  • Separately, thousands gather in Victoria Park for July 1 march while city leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor pledges to reform government during ceremony to celebrate anniversary of return to Chinese sovereignty
Protesters storm in the legislature after hours of mayhem outside. Photo: Felix Wong

Protesters storm in the legislature after hours of mayhem outside. Photo: Felix Wong

Protesters have stormed into the Legislative Council, after hours of besieging the building, smashing glass doors and removing metal bars in a day of violence marking the 22nd anniversary of the city’s return to China.

Their actions were in stark contrast to peaceful rally of hundreds of thousands of Hongkongers dressed mostly in black who took part in the annual July 1 march, starting out from Victoria Park. The marchers ended their parade at a diverted venue at Chater Road in Central, as organisers agreed to avoid the scene of chaos near the government complex in Admiralty.

During muted indoor celebrations in the morning, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor promised to overhaul her administration’s governing style, starting with herself. . . . [continue]

A language under attack (6)

Thanks. I don’t hate Germany, or the German language, nor China or the Chinese language. Or any language.

I understand your reaction, and would like you to hear me out on this. I made a comparison which I think is very much valid: If your country organizes mass oppression on the scale of what the Chinese regime is doing now, a Hitlerian scale, it will, unfortunately and unavoidably, make a deep stain on its reputation which it will take a very long time to remove.

The Nazis did this to Rilke’s German, and the current Chinese regime is doing this to Lu Xun’s Chinese. There are other examples, of course (don’t expect a Saami person to love Swedish literature), but the Nazi comparison is apt.

As you know, the Chinese regime is carrying out a massive genocidal campaign to destroy indigenous identities, including by prohibiting native languages, and imposing Chinese at the point of a gun. Continue reading

A language under attack (2,3,4,5)

That sounds like a very unfair judgment; why taking Magnus’ remarks so personally? This is an academic platform where we at the very least should expect some respectful manners. “I do not like his articles”: this is a statement not an argument. Could you elaborate please? Besides why not addressing him directly? “Magnus, I don’t like your articles (and here is why)” sounds a bit closer to a dialogue than a public attack.

My own reading is that Magnus was trying to emphasise the traumatic experience of people who are forced to abandon their mother language and to learn the dominant language. Some chose to use this dominant language to express themselves, some radically reject that language. The current Chinese policies in the Uyghur region, rather than building bridges and harmony, are creating the same rejection process; though indeed, as in the German case, some chose to use the dominant language to express their identity (like Tibetan writer Pema Tseden for instance).

Concluding from this comparison that Magnus hates Chinese and Germans… there might be other platforms to “laver votre linge sale” as the French saying goes.

Vanessa Frangville <> Continue reading

Hard hats, face masks, and goggles

Source: SCMP (6/28/19)
Hard hats, face masks and goggles: the essential wear for Hong Kong extradition bill protesters that is back in fashion five years after Occupy movement

  • Demonstrators splash out on protective equipment again in boon for the city’s hardware shops
  • The safety gear is often handed out for free at impromptu stands at demonstrations

By Kanis Leung

Protesters wear their trademark yellow helmets as they gather outside police headquarters in Wan Chai on June 22. Photo: Edmond So

Protesters wear their trademark yellow helmets as they gather outside police headquarters in Wan Chai on June 22. Photo: Edmond So

Helmets, goggles and masks have re-emerged as essential equipment for those taking part in protests against the suspended extradition bill, with some items selling out after violent clashes returned to Hong Kong’s political centre this month.

On June 12, tens of thousands of protesters surrounded the government’s legislature in Admiralty to block the passage of the controversial legal changes, which would have allowed the transfer of fugitives to mainland China and other jurisdictions with which Hong Kong has no extradition deal. Continue reading