Chinese ‘police stations’ in the US

Source: The Guardian (11/17/22)
FBI director ‘very concerned’ by reports of secret Chinese police stations in US
Christopher Wray says the FBI is investigating the existence of stations in New York, which could violate sovereignty
By Reuters

Christopher Wray

Christopher Wray said the FBI was looking into the legal parameters of Chinese ‘police stations’ in the US Photograph: Michael McCoy/Reuters

The United States is deeply concerned about the Chinese government setting up unauthorised “police stations” in US cities to possibly pursue influence operations, FBI director Christopher Wray has said.

“I’m very concerned about this. We are aware of the existence of these stations,” Wray told a US Senate homeland security and governmental affairs committee hearing, acknowledging the FBI’s investigative work on the issue but declining to give details.

“But to me, it is outrageous to think that the Chinese police would attempt to set up shop, you know, in New York, let’s say, without proper coordination. It violates sovereignty and circumvents standard judicial and law enforcement cooperation processes.”

Wray, asked by Republican Senator Rick Scott if such stations violated US law, said the FBI was “looking into the legal parameters”. Continue reading

Supporters of student alleging rape are silenced in China

Source: Star Tribune (8/29/22)
Supporters of University of Minnesota student alleging rape by Chinese billionaire are being silenced in China
Social media accounts sharing information sympathetic to the student are being suspended or shut down.
By 

LINTAO ZHANG, GETTY IMAGES/TNS. Billionaire Richard Liu is accused of raping a University of Minnesota student in 2018.

Supporters of a University of Minnesota student who is suing a Chinese billionaire for allegedly raping her in Minneapolis in 2018 say their social media postings about the case are being blocked in China.

Xiaowen Liang, a leading Chinese feminist activist in the United States, wrote an article about the young woman for WeChat, an instant-messaging site in China with a billion subscribers, in which she provided details from a June hearing in Hennepin County District Court. She said that after the article had racked up about 100,000 views, it was blocked along with her own account. “I lost over 2,000 contacts,” she said.

A Chinese student at the U who said he copied Liang’s report and sent it out on WeChat also had it blocked, and said his account was shut down for two weeks. He asked that his name not be used for fear of retaliation.

“In the past few years, the Chinese government has been cracking down on the MeToo activists in China and Chinese feminists,” Liang said in an interview. “More and more women are paying attention to the movement and are very vocal on Chinese media. On the other hand, the censorship against young women activists is getting more and more serious.” Continue reading

Taiwan identity politics and the California church shooting

Source: NYT (6/12/22)
They Inhabited Separate Worlds in Taiwan. Decades Later, They Collided in a California Church.
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
The 68-year-old suspect in a May mass shooting harbored resentment dating back to his formative years in Taiwan.
By Amy QinJill CowanShawn Hubler and Amy Chang Chien

Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., where members of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church were meeting when the shooting occurred.

Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., where members of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church were meeting when the shooting occurred. Credit…Mark Abramson for The New York Times

David Chou and Pastor Billy Chang spent their whole lives forging parallel paths. They were born in early 1950s Taiwan, grew up just miles apart during martial law and later rebuilt their lives in the United States.

But over several decades, they carried with them vastly different memories — and views — of the island of their birth.

Mr. Chou was the son of parents who fled mainland China following the 1949 Communist revolution, part of a mass exodus of Chinese who established an authoritarian government-in-exile in Taiwan. Though he was born on the island, he and his parents were “mainlanders” devoted to the Chinese motherland and saw Taiwan as forever part of China.

Pastor Chang’s relatives were local Taiwanese who had spent centuries on the island. At home, he spoke Taiwanese Hokkien, a language that for decades was banned in public spaces. Pastor Chang grew to believe that despite Beijing’s longstanding claims, the self-ruled island had its own identity, separate from China.

In May, the lives of the two men collided in a quiet retirement community in Southern California. Authorities say that Mr. Chou, 68 — armed with two guns, four Molotov cocktails and a deep-seated rage against Taiwanese people — opened fire inside the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church as members gathered in honor of Pastor Chang, 67. Continue reading

The Exiles review

Source: SupChina (4/15/22)
‘The Exiles’: Chinese democracy activists reflect on their banishment
Filmmakers Violet Columbus and Ben Klein reopen one of the most tightly sealed boxes from China’s collective consciousness — the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre — to consider what it means to be Chinese.
By Catherine Zauhar

Illustration for SupChina by Derek Zheng

Good documentaries need to have one of two elements: a wealth of archival material, whether that be footage, documents, photographs, etc., to build a strong visual and atmospheric foundation of the past, or a compelling character to catalyze the story. The Exiles, the Sundance-winning debut feature from Violet Columbus and Ben Klein, has both.

The film opens with Columbus and Klein interviewing Christine Choy (崔明慧 ​​Cuī Mínghuì), who is most well-known for her Oscar-nominated documentary Who Killed Vincent Chen? In the New York film community, Choy is regarded as one of the brashest, most uncompromising, chain-smoking, expletive-spewing, wonderfully politically incorrect, and always-magnetic people you’ll have the pleasure of talking to. We learn through the film that Choy had ambitions to make a documentary about the exiled leaders of Beijing’s 1989 democracy movement, but the film never came to fruition due to budgetary and emotional constraints.

In 1989 she and a small crew started closely following Yán Jiāqí 严家其, a steadfast and observant intellectual, Wàn Rùnnán 万润南, the once-CEO of the tech firm Sitong, and Wu’er Kaixi (吾尔开希·多莱特 Wúěr Kāixī Duōláitè), a fiery student leader, from the day the men land on American soil. Their post-Tiananmen story is told through press conferences, demonstrations, protests, and quieter moments of conversation and rest. (One of these exiles’ friends, Chén Yīzī 陈一咨, died in Los Angeles.) This footage intimately captures how these young men grapple with witnessing their compatriots die at the hands of a government they once respected. Back then, they believed that China’s political corruption and their own exiles would be temporary, a necessary anguish before a revitalizing rebirth. Continue reading

Germany’s contentious China debate

In an op-ed (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung F..A.Z., March 9), Sinology professors Bjoern Alpermann (University of Wuerzburg) and Gunter Schubert (University of Tuebingen) branded criticism of self-censorship and appeasement within German-language China studies toward the Chinese government as “crusaderism.”

With ad hominem allegations rarely seen in German academic written exchanges, both authors called discussants of this academic discourse „moral crusaders“ (author’s translation) and established China scholars were labeled as „new crusaders“ (author’s translation). Thorsten Benner, Co-Founder & Director of the Global Public Policy Institute pointed out on Twitter that Alpermann and Schubert demonstrate a “most impressive capacity for cognitive dissonance when one claims: ‘Serious China research needs differentiation. Polarization makes it blind’ and at the same time one calls dissenters ‘moralizing crusaders’ who have fallen prey to ‘delusions of decoupling.’”[1]

In addition to these polemical personal attacks, Alpermann and Schubert brushed away arguments and existing research by claiming that there is no evidence for a growing influence of China on German China studies.

Andreas Fulda (University of Nottingham), Mareike Ohlberg (German Marshall Fund), David Missal (Sinologist and Tibet Initative Initiative), Horst Fabian (independent scholar), and Sascha Klotzbuecher (University of Goettingen) have replied with their own op-ed titled “Grenzenlos kompromissbereit?” (Willing to compromise without limits?) (F.A.Z., March 16).

You can read the German version here (paywalled). Pre-print of this article. The English translation of our op-ed is below.

Sascha Klotzbücher <sascha.klotzbuecher@univie.ac.at>

Willing to compromise without limits?

In view of Xi’s policy of repression, China studies must rethink its role. Ignoring problems and stigmatizing critical voices are the wrong way to go. A reply to an op-ed by Björn Alpermann and Gunter Schubert.  

By Andreas Fulda, Mareike Ohlberg, David Missal, Horst Fabian and Sascha Klotzbücher.

Last week, sinology professors Björn Alpermann and Gunter Schubert branded the criticism of self-censorship and appeasement within German-language China studies toward the Chinese government that has flared up in recent years as “crusaderism” (F.A.Z., March 9). Critics of the conformist course, including authors of this article, were defamed as “moral crusaders” and stigmatized as defilers of their own nests. The authors brush away arguments by claiming that there is no evidence for a growing influence of China on German China studies. Continue reading

Swedish Olympian gives away gold medal as protest

Source: NYT (2/25/22)
Swedish Olympic Star Gives Away Gold Medal to Protest Beijing’s Abuses
In a rare rebuke of Beijing, Nils van der Poel, a speedskater, handed one of his gold medals to the daughter of Gui Minhai, a book publisher imprisoned in China.
By Chris BuckleyTariq Panja and Andrew Das

The Swedish speedskater Nils van der Poel handing his Olympic gold medal to Angela Gui, the daughter of an imprisoned Chinese bookseller, in Cambridge, England, on Thursday.

The Swedish speedskater Nils van der Poel handing his Olympic gold medal to Angela Gui, the daughter of an imprisoned Chinese bookseller, in Cambridge, England, on Thursday. Credit…Mary Turner for The New York Times

The Swedish skating star Nils van der Poel jumped for joy on the podium when he received his gold medal for the men’s 10,000-meter speedskating race at the Beijing Winter Olympics. Years of grueling training had brought him the world record-breaking victory.

Even in his moment of glory, though, he had a secret plan: to use his victory to denounce the Chinese government’s ferocious clampdown on free speech, dissent and ethnic minorities.

Mr. van der Poel has now acted on that plan. On Thursday, he gave his gold medal to the daughter of Gui Minhai, a Chinese-born Swedish publisher of books critical of Beijing, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence in China. It was the boldest protest yet by an athlete who took part in the Beijing Games.

“I realize that Gui Minhai will not be set free because of this. I realize that the Chinese people will not stop suffering from oppression because of this. But I really, really believe in free speech,” Mr. van der Poel said in Cambridge, England, where he handed the medal to Angela Gui, Mr. Gui’s daughter, in a small, improvised ceremony. Continue reading

Interview with Rose Luqiu about WeChat

Source: Global Voices (11/29/21)
An interview with media scholar Rose Luqiu about WeChat and techno-nationalism
Her research explains Chinese diaspora’s unwavering loyalty to WeChat
By Oiwan Lam

WeChat censorship. Image created by Oiwan Lam.

Rose Luqiu Luwei, a veteran journalist and director of the International Journalism Studies Master’s program at the Baptist University of Hong Kong, recently published a research paper, analyzing how WeChat is used in Chinese government censorship campaigns. The paper, entitled “Loyalty to WeChat beyond national borders: a perspective of media system dependency theory on techno-nationalism” provides a multi-disciplinary analysis on why the Chinese diaspora is loyal to WeChat — a key arm in the Chinese censorship system.

Co-authored by professor Kang Yi, a political scientist, the research addresses how the Chinese government’s policies and WeChat, the most influential new media and communication tool used among mainland and overseas Chinese communities, mediate the Chinese diaspora’s interaction with the local and settlement in host societies. The researchers refer to such overarching techno-political force as “techno-nationalism” which often influences users’ habits, opinions, and behaviors.

Global Voices East Asia editor, Oiwan Lam, interviewed Rose Luqiu on her five-year-long research process and the challenges of techno-nationalism. The interview was conducted in Cantonese via video chat and transcribed into English.

Continue reading

Purdue president responds to Chinese student’s harassment

There’s been an important statement from Purdue University’s president regarding harassment of Chinese students by pro-regime ultranationalist students: reacting to the recent ProPublica report on such harassment, Purdue University President Mitch Daniels sent a message to Purdue students, faculty and staff:

My comment on his statement, also posted on Twitter:

Good. Just one thing: Don’t blame just the Chinese pro-regime harassers, on our campuses. They’re often instigated by the regime, via their nearest consulate. Those officers need to be told off, and closely monitored for violations.

Also, Chinese “education” consular officers should not be allowed to infiltrate and dominate on-campus Chinese student associations for spying purposes, like they have long been doing, with impunity, all over.

The failure to stop the long-running ultranationalist pro-regime political harassment of Chinese students, is a great betrayal of all those Chinese students who thought they’d be enjoying some freedom of speech, and thought, for a while.

Magnus Fiskesjö, nf42@cornell.edu

At Home with External Propaganda

Source: China Media Project (12/8/21)
At Home with External Propaganda
The Battle at Lake Changjin, hailed inside China as a film transforming the production value and appeal of films that tow the CCP line, may have broken domestic box office records this year. But the struggle for global audiences will be far more difficult to win. And China may not be listening.
By Stella Chen and David Bandurski

Battle of Lake Changjin

The Battle at Lake Changjin (长津湖), the Chinese war epic that recently became the country’s top-grossing film of all time, tells the story of self-sacrificing volunteer soldiers who bravely take on American troops at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War. Commissioned by the Central Propaganda Department with a budget of over 200 million dollars, the film has been praised inside China as a milestone both for China’s film industry and for the telling of the “China story.”

But while The Battle at Lake Changjin may have been a domestic success, earning more than 895 million dollars by the end of November, it has seriously misfired internationally, and the self-congratulatory tone of much coverage inside China points to the continued myopia of the country’s media system when it comes to crafting stories the rest of the world can relate to.

Earlier this week, the Economic Daily, a central newspaper run by the State Council, hailed the fact that in a period of 10 days following its first screening in Hong Kong on November 11, The Battle at Lake Changjin had brought in more than 10 million Hong Kong dollars in ticket sales. Not only this, said the paper, but the film, which in mainland China had prompted emotional tributes, including a wave of frozen potato eating, had “continued to heat up overseas,” showing in Singapore, the United States and Canada. Continue reading

Even on US campuses, China cracks down on students who speak out

Source: ProPublica (11/30/21)
Even on U.S. Campuses, China Cracks Down on Students Who Speak Out
By Sebastian Rotella, photography by Haruka Sakaguchi, special to ProPublica

Students and scholars from China who criticize the regime in Beijing can face quick retaliation from fellow students and Chinese officials who harass their families back home. U.S. universities rarely intervene.

The campus of Brandeis University. An online panel sponsored by the school about atrocities against Uyghurs was disrupted last year.

On the bucolic campus of Purdue University in Indiana, deep in America’s heartland and 7,000 miles from his home in China, Zhihao Kong thought he could finally express himself.

In a rush of adrenaline last year, the graduate student posted an open letter on a dissident website praising the heroism of the students killed in the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.

The blowback, he said, was fast and frightening. His parents called from China, crying. Officers of the Ministry of State Security, the feared civilian spy agency, had warned them about his activism in the United States.

“They told us to make you stop or we are all in trouble,” his parents said.

Then other Chinese students at Purdue began hounding him, calling him a CIA agent and threatening to report him to the embassy and the MSS. Continue reading

Badiucao show goes on

Source: NYT (11/12/21)
The Show Goes On, Even After China Tried to Shut It Down
An Italian city rejected a request from the Chinese Embassy in Rome to cancel an exhibition by Badiucao, an artist who has been described as the Chinese Banksy.
By Elisabetta Povoledo

Badiucao in front of one of his works, “Carrie Lam,” a portrait of Hong Kong’s chief executive, at Santa Giulia Museum in Brescia, Italy. Credit…Alessandro Grassani for The New York Times

BRESCIA, Italy — With a week to go before his first solo exhibition, the Chinese-Australian artist Badiucao was in head-down work mode: installing the show during the day, and sharpening hundreds of pencils with a knife at night.

Set closely together, the pencils — 3,724 in all — were part of an installation in the show “China Is (Not) Near,” which opens Saturday in the municipal museum of Brescia, an industrial city in the northern Italian region of Lombardy.

After a decade building an online following as a political cartoonist by lambasting China, whether for its censorship (and Western complicity in it), its treatment of the Uyghur minority, or the crackdown in Hong Kong, Badiucao said he was keen to show work in a traditional institutional setting.

He wasn’t always so forthcoming. Until not so long ago, Badiucao had been so concerned about reprisals from the Chinese government that he had kept his identity a secret, eliciting comparisons to the British street artist Banksy. He revealed his face in a 2019 documentary, and now says that he’s found safety in exposure, though he still prefers to use his artist name. Continue reading

“Fragile” music video (1)

As a follow-up to my Oct. 22 post, see below, for an excellent write-up by Chris Horton in The Atlantic, on the hit song “Fragile” (or Glass Heart 玻璃心) by Namewee and Kimberley Chen, now at 27 million views already, not just 26m … that was yesterday.How refreshing this is! Just like Kimberley Chen says here: “it is not censored, it is not limited, it is not bullshit.”–Magnus Fiskesjö <nf42@cornell.edu>

ps. The song again:

Earlier I recommended this discussion. And this is PRICELESS: Namewee responding to China netizens’ comments on Weibo (May 16, 2021, before the song was released):

What a guy! The man has both a spine, and a heart! Such a contrast to all the cowardly censors, spiteful propagandists, and petty trolls in China.

Also see this, very revealing report about how Kimberley was treated in China, as a would-be Tencent talent (her phone confiscated for months, room camera surveillance by pervert staff, and on and on, “This is China”).

Source: The Atlantic (11/9/21)
The World Is Fed Up With China’s Belligerence: Democracies are no longer as worried as they once were about offending a fragile Beijing.
By Chris Horton

In Chinese-speaking communities beyond the reach of Beijing’s censorship regime, the song “Fragile” has been an unexpected hit. With more than 26 million views on YouTube since dropping in mid-October, the satirical love song to Chinese nationalism has topped the site’s charts for Taiwan and Hong Kong, its lyrics mocking Chinese Communist Party rhetoric about Taiwan while also taking aim at Xi Jinping and Chinese censors. Continue reading

“Fragile” music video

This new music video “Fragile” is something else!

“It might Break Your Pinky Heart” by Namewee 黃明志 Ft.Kimberley Chen 陳芳語【Fragile 玻璃心】@鬼才做音樂 2021 Ghosician. Premiered Oct 15, 2021.

  • A nice writeup:

Malaysian rapper Namewee breaks the hearts of mainland Chinese ‘little pinks’ – Namewee and Kimberly Chen’s music is now banned in China.” Written by Oiwan Lam, Global Voices, 19 October 2021.

The Chinese lyrics are fantastic, the English translation a little bit halting, but you get it. (Can’t read the Malay subtitles). The lyrics even mentions the camps and the forced confessions — and are otherwise chock full of allusions to things like the pro-Chinese govt trolls’ disgusting “NMSL” curse, “Your Mom Is Dead.” Also the apples and pineapples, referring to the Chinese regime’s weaponizing of Taiwan fruits; etc. etc. Every sentence politically loaded, while at the same time it can all be read like it’s about complaining about an impossibly thin-skinned and abusive-domineering boyfriend, with a “heart of glass”, always angry and always smashing something, yet always insisting “You Belong to Me.”

In the end, the main thing may be how the Chinese regime is proving the singer-songwriter Namewee 100% right — by censoring him and Kimberley! These massively popular Chinese-language singers are now banned in China. Simply out of spite. Ha — their song just passed beyond ten million views now on Youtube.

I confess I watched it twice.

Magnus Fiskesjö, nf42@cornell.edu

Chinese student visas for US at pre-pandemic levels

Source: SupChina (8/24/21)
U.S. granted Chinese student visas at pre-pandemic levels in June
The U.S. issued nearly 34,000 F1 visas in June for Chinese students, about the same level as 2019. It’s not yet clear if the total number of Chinese students for the fall semester will be higher or lower than before the pandemic.
By Lucas Niewenhuis

An education expo in Beijing

An education expo in Beijing in 2018. Photo from Oriental Image via Reuters Connect.

For the approximately 370,000 Chinese students attending school in the U.S., the summer of 2020 was marked by a series of towering hurdles:

Continue reading