CCP smear campaign targets the Dalai Lama (2)

I expand this discussion of the Chinese propaganda against the Dalai Lama, and the stunning gullibility of the Western audiences that fell for it, in this new online interview with the new website Global Order, based out of New Delhi–Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Source: Global Order (5/24/23)
How the Chinese Communist Party ran a global propaganda campaign against the Dalai Lama

The Chinese Communist Party is running a global propaganda campaign to destroy the credibility of the Dalai Lama. The most recent example of this, says Magnus Fiskesjö, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Asian Studies at Cornell University, was the crude and brutal ‘suck my tongue’ controversy where an innocuous Tibetan gesture was attacked by trolling mobs, and even celebrities, around the world as sexual exploitation – all led by propaganda teams of the Chinese Communist Party. Fiskesjö talks to Hindol Sengupta about propaganda, cultural differences and misunderstandings and the redemptive power of compassion.”

China ramps up scrutiny of culture

Source: NYT (5/24/23)
As China Ramps Up Scrutiny of Culture, the Show Does Not Go On
Performances across the country were canceled last week after Beijing began investigating a stand-up comedian.
By Vivian Wang, reporting from Beijing

A person walks in front of a building with bright yellow facade and a sign saying “You are part of the show.”

The Beijing venue of the stand-up comedy company Xiaoguo Culture Media Co., which was fined around $2 million after one of its performers was accused of insulting the Chinese military in a joke. Credit…Tingshu Wang/Reuters

The cancellations rippled across the country: A Japanese choral band touring China, stand-up comedy shows in several cities, jazz shows in Beijing. In the span of a few days, the performances were among more than a dozen that were abruptly called off — some just minutes before they were supposed to begin — with virtually no explanation.

Just before the performances were scrapped, the authorities in Beijing had fined a Chinese comedy studio around $2 million, after one of its stand-up performers was accused of insulting the Chinese military in a joke; the police in northern China also detained a woman who had defended the comedian online.

Those penalties, and the sudden spate of cancellations that followed, point to the growing scrutiny of China’s already heavily censored creative landscape. China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, has made arts and culture a central arena for ideological crackdowns, demanding that artists align their creative ambitions with Chinese Communist Party goals and promote a nationalist vision of Chinese identity. Performers must submit scripts or set lists for vetting, and publications are closely monitored.

On Tuesday, Mr. Xi sent a letter to the National Art Museum of China for its 60th anniversary, reminding staff to “adhere to the correct political orientation.” Continue reading

CCP smear campaign targets the Dalai Lama (1)

Thanks to Magnus Fiskesjö for providing a reading for the Dalai Lama’s interaction with the child in April. I wasn’t aware of the linguistic and cultural aspects of this meeting, reductively sexualized and sensationalized in Western anglophone media. When I saw the clip, memed with a sort of gleeful meanness, the first thing I thought of is the trope of Buddhist monks and nuns in Chinese culture as lascivious, a sort of a parallel to Catholic clergy in European gothic literature (Lewis’ The Monk is the most well-known version but of course, the Catholic Church has its own historical cross to bear in this regard). The opera “The Little Nun Goes Down the Mountain,” a story of desire for the secular life, is one version of this. A fish-plank beating Buddhist monk is murdered by Shi Xiu in Outlaws of the Marsh for seducing a brother’s wife. And a similar lascivious Buddhist monk trope gets repeated when grandpa murders his mother’s Buddhist monk lover in Mo Yan’s Red Sorghum centuries later.

Maybe we need a social analysis of cancelling, which operates like a secular form of shunning in contemporary media, minus the semblance of consistent moral rationale, and with a multiplicity of actors possessing varying degrees of clout.

Sean Macdonald <>

CCP smear campaign targets the Dalai Lama

Source: The Diplomat (5/20/23)
How a CCP Propaganda Campaign Targeted the Dalai Lama
The latest smear campaign succeeded beyond China’s wildest dreams by playing into Western ignorance about Tibetan culture – and self-righteous “cancel culture” on social media.
By Magnus Fiskesjö

How a CCP Propaganda Campaign Targeted the Dalai Lama

Credit: Depositphotos

On April 8, 2023, a new global smear campaign against the Dalai Lama was unleashed on social media.

This, in itself, wasn’t news. The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, has lived in exile in India since 1959, when he was forced to flee his homeland, occupied by Mao’s China. He remains deeply loved in Tibet, but the Chinese regime has made it a criminal offense even to have a photo of him. And ever since 1959, Chinese officials have been vilifying him in every medium possible.

But while this latest round is almost certainly also disinformation “Made in China,” it represents a new approach: Attempting to paint the Dalai Lama as a pedophile. The trick succeeded beyond belief, with millions of people in the United States, Europe, and beyond – due to prior prejudice coupled with the self-righteous tendency to jump to conclusions, combined with widespread ignorance about Tibet.

As the Tibetan exile activist Lhadon Tethong pointed out in a recent public conversation, the goal was very likely also to distract the world from the new dramatic oppression inside Chinese-occupied Tibet. U.N. human rights experts just issued a warning that Chinese authorities are detaining large numbers of both children and adults in Tibet, to erase their culture and turn them into Chinese-speaking laborers – modeled after the massive parallel genocide against the Uyghurs. Continue reading

Comedy studio fined for insulting the military

Source: NYT (5/17/23)
No Joke: China Fines a Comedy Firm $2 Million for ‘Insulting’ the Military
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
The penalty came after a popular comedian joked about a military slogan often used by China’s leader, Xi Jinping, who has strictly curbed expression.
By Chang Che and 

The entrance to a theater features comic drawings on its front wall.

Xiaoguo Culture Media’s theater in Shanghai on Wednesday.  Credit…CFOTO/Future Publishing, via Getty Images

Beijing fined a Chinese comedy studio around $2 million on Wednesday for a joke that compared China’s military to stray dogs, a reminder of the ever-narrowing confines of expression under the country’s leader, Xi Jinping.

The Beijing Municipal Culture and Tourism Bureau accused a popular comedian, Li Haoshi, who is employed by the studio, of “severely insulting” the People’s Liberation Army, China’s military, during two live performances in Beijing on Saturday. The authority said his joke had a “vile societal impact.”

“We will not allow any company or individual to wantonly slander the glorious image of the People’s Liberation Army,” the statement read.

The authority also said it indefinitely suspended all Beijing performances hosted by the studio, the Shanghai-based Xiaoguo Culture Media. The bureau also confiscated roughly $180,000 worth of what officials described as illicit income uncovered during the investigation, which was started on Monday. Officials in Shanghai followed suit, suspending all Xiaoguo performances there and ordering the company to “deeply reflect” on the lessons from the incident, according to a government social media account. Continue reading

Picun Museum to be demolished

The Museum of Migrant Worker Culture and Art 打工文化艺术博物馆, in Picun, on the outskirts of Beijing, will be demolished in the very near future, to make way for urban development. The Migrant Workers Home 工友之家, of which the Museum is a part, is organizing a get-together on May 20th to bid the Museum farewell. Here’s an announcement from the community, with beautiful single-shot video and beautiful, carefully paced voice-over by someone who sounds like they are poet Xiao Hai 小海:

The Picun Museum of Migrant Worker Culture and Art. Source.

Founded in 2008, the Museum has been a unique monument to migrant worker culture, produced by migrant workers for migrant workers (while welcoming others as well) to document and reflect on the migrant worker experience. The announcement mentioned above says it has seen over 50.000 visitors over the years.

The Museum is a shining example of the cultural education 文化教育  that is a key element of the Home’s mission to advance migrant worker rights (other designations of this social group include “new workers” 新工人 and “battlers” 打工者). Alongside achievements in music, literature, theater, digital video, and so on, it embodies the rich and complex force field in which migrant worker culture emerges: socioeconomic insecurity, political constraints, class-based hierarchies of aesthetics, DIY infrastructure, media interest propelled by a mix of social concern and engagement with voyeurism and othering. Continue reading

New sources on cotton slavery in China

A new report on cotton industry slavery in China has been issued by the noted China anthropologist Adrian Zenz, who has been working mainly with Chinese government documents to reveal the staggering scale of the Chinese government’s ongoing mass atrocities launched in 2017 against the Uyghur and Kazakh peoples, in whose homelands most of China’s cotton is gathered. The report “dissects the evolution of China and Uzbekistan’s systems of state-sponsored forced labor and exposes an inside view of their brutal nature, scale, and motivations.”

Key findings include: Never before seen Chinese internal state documents show that despite some mechanization, Uyghurs continued to be sent to pick cotton through coercive labor transfers in 2021 and 2022, and such seasonal labor transfers continue to be part of Xinjiang’s Five-Year Plan for 2025 as premium-grade long staple cotton grown in southern Uyghur regions still cannot be harvested by machines.

Xinjiang now produces 90 percent of China’s cotton, up from 85 percent in 2020. This expansion was partly enabled through large-scale land transfer arrangements whereby Uyghur farmers are forced to surrender their land rights to large private or state-led entities, then subjected to state-arranged labor transfers. Hence, even when mechanically harvested, Xinjiang cotton is produced through exploiting the rights of ethnic groups. Continue reading

All Static and Noise

A new documentary film, All Static and Noise, on the ongoing atrocities against the Uyghur and Kazakh peoples in China, has just been released. Trailer on Youtube

Screenings can be booked via:


When Uyghurs and Kazakhs are arbitrarily detained in Chinese “re-education” camps, survivors and their families risk everything to expose the truth.

Jewher, a Uyghur teen from China with little English, lands in the U.S. after she is violently separated from her father, Ilham Tohti, at the Beijing airport as he is detained. Abduweli, a linguist and poet, imprisoned and tortured for teaching Uyghur language to 6-year-olds, makes his way to Istanbul upon his release. Testimony and action from survivors of China’s network of “re-education camps” (and their families, in Turkey, Kazakhstan, Europe and the United States, infuse All Static & Noise with an urgency that exposes the mass brutality of state-sponsored oppression in Western China. Together these voices highlight the moral dilemma between risking the safety of families back home by speaking out and the necessity of exposing atrocities in the hope that global awareness can bring change. With each voice we are brought closer to one of the most egregious human rights disaster of our moment.  This documentary combines intimate character-driven stories with brave testimony and honors those willing to speak out.  It poses difficult questions that are imperatives in our inter-connected global economy of the 21st century. Continue reading

Opening salvo in crackdown on Uyghur intellectuals

Source: (4/3/23)
China’s Culture Wars: Opening Salvo in Crackdown on Uyghur Intellectuals
By Bruce Humes

Incarceration of Xinjiang’s Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples expanded massively beginning in 2017, but the campaign targeting intellectuals specifically dates back to mid-2014.

At the end of Xi Jinping’s April visit to Xinjiang, an explosion at the Urumqi train station killed three people and injured nearly 80 others, according to the BBC. Just two months later in July, Professor Ilham Tohti was charged with separatism on the basis of his teachings at the university and his published writings on his site, Uighur Online, and quickly sentenced to life in prison. In 2019, he was awarded the 2019 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament.

Less high-profile was publication in late June 2014 of an open letter making a clarion call that echoed the Cultural Revolution, when biaotai —  “declaring where one stands,” or “signaling loyalty” — was an existential requirement, not an option.

This letter effectively announced the launch of the CCP’s campaign to pressure Uyghur intellectuals to proactively behave as Chinese patriots in the face of the mounting terrorist threat. Poets, writers, civil servants, students, clerics, male followers of Islam, and women specifically — all were instructed how to lead their lives on behalf of their Motherland. Continue reading

UNESCO ignores Xinjiang

Below, an interesting new article on how UNESCO, the UN system’s main agency for global cultural heritage protection, has remained dead silent on China’s destruction of ethnic minority heritage in Xinjiang (East Turkestan) — while springing quickly and vocally into action against Russia’s similarly targeted and genocidal destruction of Ukraine’s heritage. — Fwd. by Magnus Fiskesjö,

Source: Foreign Policy (3/23/23)
UNESCO Made Ukraine a Priority, but Xinjiang Fell by the Wayside
When some cultures are protected more than others.
By Liam Scott

Cultural destruction is playing a central role in China’s onslaught against Uyghurs in Xinjiang. Since 2017, Chinese authorities have destroyed or damaged approximately 16,000 mosques—about 65 percent of the total—in Xinjiang, according to a 2020 report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

To forcibly assimilate Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities into the dominant Han group, China has criminalized some cultural practices while turning others into tourist attractions.

“Destruction on this scale is an integral part of the wider project of cultural assimilation, which is ongoing,” said Rachel Harris, a British expert on Uyghur culture. “The destruction of a people’s identity is the destruction of a people.”

Yet the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which is charged with the promotion of cultural diversity around the world, has remained conspicuously silent on Xinjiang, even as it has actively prioritized responding to cultural destruction elsewhere, including in Russia’s war in Ukraine. In Ukraine, UNESCO frequently condemns the assault on Ukrainian identity and documents attacks on cultural sites like churches, museums, and monuments. Continue reading

Arise, Africa! Roar, China! review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Emily Wilcox’s review of Arise, Africa! Roar China!: Black and Chinese Citizens of the World in the Twentieth Century, by Gao Yunxiang. The review appears below and at its online home: My thanks to our literary studies book review editor, Nicholas Kaldis, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Arise, Africa! Roar, China!: Black and
Chinese Citizens of the World in the Twentieth Century

By Gao Yunxiang

Reviewed by Emily Wilcox

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright February, 2023)

Yunxiang Gao, Arise, Africa! Roar, China!: Black and Chinese Citizens of the World in the Twentieth Century Chapel Hill, N.C.: The University of North Carolina Press, 2021. xi + 392 pp. ISBN 978-1-4696-6460-6 (cloth).

Gao Yunxiang’s new monograph Arise, Africa! Roar, China! Black and Chinese Citizens of the World in the Twentieth Century explores Sino-African American relations during the mid-twentieth century through five interconnected case studies: W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Robeson, Liu Liangmo 劉良模, Sylvia Si-lan Chen Leyda 陳茜[錫,西]蘭, and Langston Hughes. Drawing extensively on archival sources in the United States, published sources in Chinese, English, and Russian, and writings by these individuals, their family members, and their biographers, Gao documents how Chinese and African Americans interacted and collaborated with one other in diverse ways between the 1930s and the 1970s. Moving beyond a state-to-state understanding of international engagement, Gao examines how personal relationships and opportunities for travel and translation that developed in this period enabled forms of intellectual and artistic work and political activism, producing new mutual understandings and forms of transnational belonging across the Pacific.

Departing somewhat from recent scholarship that emphasizes the limitations of Afro-Asian discourse and its imagined intimacies, as well as work that focuses on one side of the China-African American interactions during this period, Gao seeks to document historical instances of connection and engagement through an approach that places equal emphasis on both Chinese and US source materials. As Gao asserts in the final paragraph of her book: Continue reading

Profiling the Tangping Attitude (1)

Question: What about bai lan 摆烂? And, perhaps also cite David Graeber’s book Bullshit Jobs: A Theory (2018). Graeber talks about it here (and on other occasions):

(London Real, Nov 9, 2015). It sure sounds a lot like tang ping, sometimes. And I’m sure he would have loved it (tang ping). And Marine Brossard’s article.

Magnus Fiskesjö <>

New World Orderings review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Kelly A. Hammond’s review of New World Orderings: China and the Global South, edited by Lisa Rofel and Carlos Rojas. The review appears below and at its online home here: My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC book review editor for literary studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

New World Orderings:
China and the Global South

Edited by Lisa Rofel and Carlos Rojas

Reviewed by Kelly A. Hammond

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright January, 2023)

Lisa Rofel and Carlos Rojas, eds. New World Orderings: China and the Global South Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2022. vii + 268 pp. ISBN 9781478019015 (paper).

This interdisciplinary volume—New World Orderings: China and the Global South, edited by Lisa Rofel and Carlos Rojas—has a lot to offer. By focusing on circulations of global capital and challenges posed by China and the Global South to the neoliberal world order, the combined efforts of the twelve contributors deemphasize state-level diplomacy in favor of an approach that emphasizes “globalization from below” (96). In doing so, the book concentrates mostly on movements of individuals, non-state actors, and economic intermediaries in and out of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and around and throughout the Global South. The chapters focus both on migrations and diasporas, and on cultural and economic interactions, to paint a variegated picture of the lives and experiences of both citizens of the PRC and peoples of the Global South who interact and deal with China and Chinese people on their own terms. The actors in this book—be they African women trying to eke out a living in Guangzhou, or the Chinese traders trying to make it in Johannesburg—are all active agents in the ongoing efforts to displace—or at least disrupt—traditional flows of capital. Continue reading

Whose New Year Is It Anyway? (1)

It’s actually not just about Chinese and Koreans! In Sydney, the city renamed the whole thing Lunar New Year. In Sweden, I contributed to getting the Asia-related museums in Stockholm change the name of the holiday the same way, to “lunar” — to block the Chinese embassy’s attempt to monopolize and politicize the holiday. Hopefully many other places are doing the same.

Are there other examples from around the world?

Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Whose New Year Is It Anyway?

Source: Language Log (1/23/23)
Whose New Year is it anyway?
From Alex Baumans

The struggle for cultural priority, supremacy, and naming between China and Korea is perennial:  fishing nets, printing with metal movable type, kimchi….  Now it’s over the lunar new year that is currently being celebrated.

NewJeans’ Danielle apologizes for calling the ‘Lunar New Year’ ‘Chinese New Year’
By Yaki-Jones, allkpop (1/21/23)

Chinese netizens terrorize the Instagrams of Korean celebrities who gave lunar new year greetings, including IVE’s Wonyoung and CL
By Yaki-Jones, allkpop (1/22/23)

Might be better to avoid the orthological controversy altogether and just refer to it as the Lunar New Year. Continue reading