HK activist abducted (1)

The recent abduction case/claim in Hong Kong has taken an interesting turn: The HK police arrested the man, and seem to be accusing him of fabricating the incident. (But why would he do that? The whole case is unclear. There is of course no dearth of evidence on torture and mistreatment of people abducted by the Chinese authorities, on the mainland. Fabricating some, in HK, would seem to serve only to sow doubt about such matters, including about the recent several abductions from HK. So the possibility that generating such doubts itself is the purpose, should probably not be discounted. ). See too: –Magnus Fiskesjö,

Source: Hong Kong Free Press (8/16/17)
Democrat ‘abduction’: Police consider formally charging activist Howard Lam with misleading officers
By Kris Cheng

Acting Police Commissioner Alan Lau. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Acting Police Commissioner Alan Lau has said the police will consider charging Democratic Party member Howard Lam with misleading police officers.

Last Friday, Lam said he was abducted and assaulted by suspected mainland agents in Hong Kong. He claimed that he was falsely imprisoned, interrogated and assaulted by men who inserted 21 staples into his legs. Continue reading

HK activist abducted

See the BBC article online, for pictures of the staples inserted into Mr Lam’s legs. (Also see: The identity of his assailants is unknown but it fits the general pattern of the well-known mainland police-hired thug enforcers who operate in civilian clothes to harrass people, close down events, beat up journalists, and so on. Fwd by: Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Source: BBC News (8/11/17)
Hong Kong activist ‘abducted by Chinese agents’
By Juliana Liu, Hong Kong correspondent, BBC News

Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Howard Lam (L), who claims he was abducted, blindfolded and beaten by mainland China agents, shows his stapled thighs and injuries to the media in Hong Kong on 11 August 2017. Image copyright AFP.

A veteran democracy activist in Hong Kong says he was kidnapped, beaten and tortured by agents of mainland China after trying to get in touch with Liu Xia, the widow of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.

The activist, Howard Lam, said on his Facebook page in late July that he had obtained a signed photo of the Barcelona football player Lionel Messi, and that he intended to send it to Ms Liu as a condolence gift. Continue reading

Why anyone can be Chinese (4)

An observation: There’s semantic, conceptual, and historical confusion in this. The conflation of China and empire underscores the regrettable tendency in Western scholarship to understand non-Western experiences only in terms of their own historical experiences and concepts. 

First, semantics: Rome had an emperor, an empire, and colonies; they were called that. China had a  皇帝, so it had a huangdinate, just like Ottoman was a Sultanate. Unfortunately, owing to the Western dominance of knowledge since the Enlightenment  — Said called it Orientalism, I believe — all pre-modern polities that came after the Romans, whether in the West or non-West, were labelled  Empire and Emperor. It is more accurate to say that China/Zhongguo was a Huangdinate, a grounded tributary system, which was a phenomenon that was global and that accounted for the existence of a multi-civilisational world at the time. The West had its own in the form of its feudal system. All were internally parochial systems.

Second, conceptual and historical: But if we are to overlook the semantic confusion and allow that China was an empire that went about conquering the world, we would today be conversing in some dialect of Chinese and the predominant worldview would be neo-Confucian/Daoist/Buddhist. But that is not the case, not now or the past 150 years at least: English remains the universal language, French, the language of diplomacy, most of the prominent languages have been derivatives of Latin etc, and the preponderant worldview is Liberalism. Why? That’s where history comes in. 

From European feudalism emerged what can be designated Euro-modernism, a cultural form that was let loose on the world and conquered it. In short, it established an empire in the true sense of the word. If you take a look around its predations continue, unabated, putting at risk the entire fate of humanity. Its influence is why we converse in English; why the preponderant worldview is liberalism, not Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism etc. The world went from multi-civilisational to mono-civilisational to unipolar. Of course, it seems like this uni-polarity is today crumbling and we could be headed towards a multi-polar world order again, but if we are to talk of empire, is this not at least where we should begin?

I don’t know Bell’s work well but from what little I have read, he should be applauded for having the courage to urge his colleagues re-visit what they already think they know.

Tung-yi Kho <>

Why anyone can be Chinese (3)

A few thoughts to add to the mix.

On Daniel Bell: To me, Daniel Bell seems like a cottage industry of finding virtue in “China” by any means necessary. So, even if China today obviously, by most counts, is an increasingly chauvinistic and narrow-nationalistic country, he harks back to the imperial era when ethnicity was indeed less relevant or salient (as is typically the case in empires!), and suggests that stance is, or should be, more true of China the eternal. I think he completely misses things like 1, empire; and 2, the profound impact of the modern ideas of nationalism and racism on modern China, an empire awkwardly re-cast as nation, today joining the new global trend of inwardlooking nationalism.

(One side of the Tiananmen gate has the text “Long live the unity of the world’s people” (世界人民大团结万岁), — I wonder how long it will be before it is taken down, — it does not fit with today’s dominant nationalism).

And so the whole thing comes across as an exercise in wishful thinking (something like his earlier effort to declare China the ultimate laudable “meritocracy” — for a review of that effort, read: Continue reading

Wolf Warrior 2

Source: BBC News (8/4/17)
Wolf Warrior 2: The nationalist action film storming China
By Beijing bureau, BBC News

Official promotional image for Chinese film Wolf Warrior 2

WOLF WARRIOR 2: The movie, directed by and starring action film star Wu Jing, has a decidedly patriotic tone

“Anyone who offends China will be killed no matter how far the target is.”

That is the tagline for Wolf Warriors 2, the Chinese box office hit that is equal parts testosterone-fuelled machismo – think blazing guns, explosions, and tanks – and chest-thumping Chinese patriotism.

It sees a soldier venturing into an African warzone and saving hundreds of lives from Western baddies. It’s basically the plot of your typical Hollywood action movie, but this time it’s a Chinese man upholding justice and keeping the world safe. Continue reading

Chinese threat to Australian openness

Source: NYT (7/31/17)
The Opinion Pages: OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
A Chinese Threat to Australian Openness

Students in a university classroom in Beijing. Credit in Pictures Ltd./Corbis, via Getty Images

SYDNEY, Australia — Australians are increasingly concerned about China’s growing influence in the country. Chinese money is being funneled to politicians. Beijing-run media outlets buy ads in Australian newspapers to promote the Communist Party view on local and regional issues. Chinese companies are buying Australian farms and natural resources.

The push extends to Australia’s universities. Chinese agents are said to monitor Chinese students and report on those who fail to toe the Communist Party line. And in another troubling trend, many of the 150,000 visiting Chinese students are importing a pro-Beijing approach to the classroom that is stifling debate and openness. Continue reading

Style guide for Party media (2)

Source: Sup China (8/1/17)
Here are all the words Chinese state media has banned
A full translation of the style guide update from Xinhua, and why it matters.

Xinhua News Agency was established by the Chinese Communist Party in 1931 in little house in Ruijin, Jiangxi Province. Until 1938, it was called the Red China News Agency 红色中华通讯社, but it has always had the same goal: to collect information for the Party and act as its voice. Despite its propagandist mission, Xinhua has produced some excellent journalists, such as Yang Jisheng 杨继绳, author of Tombstone, an excruciatingly detailed record of the Great Famine of 1959–1961.

Xinhua operates in a similar way to Western newswires such as Reuters: Thousands of journalists and editors across China and in 170 foreign bureaus churn out news articles, video, opinion pieces, and breaking news briefs, which are fed out to newspapers and websites across the country. But there are some key differences: Chinese newspapers and websites cannot only use Xinhua content for free; sometimes instructions from the authorities compel them to run Xinhua copy. So when Xinhua updates its style guide, it affects the way the news is written in numerous newspapers and websites across China. Continue reading

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

Why anyone can be Chinese (2)

Reality or not, the Chinese themselves tried to redefine Chinese identity as cultural rather then ethnic in attempts to unify the empire. American identity can be mixed with anything, true, but so can other identities in the world. People are born in one place, educated somewhere else, work in a third country, and marry in a fourth. I married into a Chinese family, and my children would be Chinese: couldn’t I share an identity with them?

Naomi Thurston <>

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

Why anyone can be Chinese (1)

It is interesting that Daniel Bell has brought up this topic. I think he is aware of the reality that Chineseness is defined by the ethnicity more so than the nationality/citizenship, and he just refuses to accept such reality. The meaning of being Chinese, in a non-immigrant country, is vastly different from being Canadian. One can say s/he is Canadian and Irish/Scottish/Chinese at the same time, while the two refers to different aspects of one’s identity. From my understanding, the definition of nationality in any countries except immigrant countries such as US, Canada and Australia is closely tied to heritage and ethnicity. It might not be the reality the author is willing to accept, but I doubt this is likely to change any time soon.

Peng Z <>

What Liu Xiaobo’s death says about China’s futures

Source: The Nation (7/25/17)
What Liu Xiaobo’s Death Says About China’s Two Futures
China’s president has crafted an increasingly progressive image for himself abroad, while stifling dissent at home.
By Gina Anne Tam and Jeffrey Wasserstrom

Liu Xiaobo Memorial

Protesters chant slogans to mourn the death of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo in Hong Kong, China, July 15, 2017. (Reuters / Bobby Yip)

In mid-January, when Xi Jinping made his debut at Davos, the head of the Chinese Communist Party and president of the PRC took pains to appear as a self-confident leader determined to guide his country into a high-tech, globally interconnected future. He wanted the world to think that China had put far behind it the century of oppression by foreign powers that preceded the founding of the PRC, during which time, so goes the national myth, the country had been poor, weak, and badly governed. He wanted, too, to show that China had moved on from the ideological upheavals, irrational personality cult, and global isolation that characterized much of the era of rule by Mao Zedong (1949–76). This image of Xi, taken at face value in some international press reports, has stayed in the news via reports of such things as his championing of the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, presented as a 21st-century reboot of China’s economic integration with the global community. Continue reading

China’s quest to end its century of shame

Source: NYT (7/13/17)
China’s Quest to End Its Century of Shame

CreditMatt Chase

SHANGHAI — At an ocean research center on Hainan Island off China’s southern coast, officials routinely usher visitors into a darkened screening room to watch a lavishly produced People’s Liberation Army video about China’s ambitions to reassert itself as a great maritime power.

As enormous, new naval vessels plow through high seas, a deep male voice intones: “China’s oceanic and overseas interests are developing rapidly. Our land is vast, but we will not yield a single inch to foreigners.” Continue reading

Poem for Liu Xiaobo (2)

I admire the translation of the poem by 小众童网 on CDT. It was probably harder to translate than the one by Meng Lang, although I don’t think Meng Lang is easy to translate. This period since Liu Xiaobo’s terminal illness was announced has brought much attention to poetry by and for Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia.

Two days ago I discovered a poem on Weibo. I think it wasn’t censored, probably because it is circulated as a picture. My translation is below. Click on the picture on my blog

and click through to Weibo. Or see the author’s blog:

I have also tried to translate (to German) a poem by Liu Xiaobo from 1997. An excerpt was circulated on Twitter when Liu Xiaobo was still alive. You can see the original interspersed with my efforts here:
Two sections were published in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Neue Zürcher Zeitung. They are very poignant. There is one section that I found too hard to translate. I googled the two most difficult lines, and found an entry titled “Who writes better poetry, Liu Xiaobo or a junior high school student?” Continue reading