HK law chokes a broadcaster RTHK

Source: NYT (7/8/20)
China’s Leash on Hong Kong Tightens, Choking a Broadcaster
RTHK, a government-funded news organization, has a fierce independent streak that has long angered the authorities.
By Austin Ramzy and Ezra Cheung

The “Headliner” set at Radio Television Hong Kong in June. The show, which has taken pointed jabs at the police, was suspended after government complaints. Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

HONG KONG — Hong Kong’s public broadcaster has long been a rare example of a government-funded news organization operating on Chinese soil that fearlessly attempts to hold officials accountable.

The broadcaster, Radio Television Hong Kong, dug into security footage last year to show how the police failed to respond when a mob attacked protesters in a train station, leading to widespread criticism of the authorities. The broadcaster also produced a three-part documentary on China’s crackdown on Muslims in Xinjiang. One RTHK journalist, Nabela Qoser, became famous in Hong Kong for her persistent questioning of top officials.

Now, RTHK’s journalists and hard-hitting investigations appear vulnerable to China’s new national security law, which takes aim at dissent and could rein in the city’s largely freewheeling news organizations. The broadcaster, modeled on the British Broadcasting Corporation, has already been feeling pressure. Continue reading

China targeting journalists in new push for influence

Source: The Guardian (6/24/20)
China targeting non-English-speaking journalists in new push for influence – study
Exclusive: International Federation of Journalists finds tours, control of infrastructure and provision of pro-China content part of escalating campaign
By Ben Doherty

 Uighur men dancing after Eid al-Fitr prayers, marking the end of Ramadan, outside the Id Kah mosque in Kashgar, in China’s western Xinjiang region

IFJ research found China has taken several groups of journalists from Muslim countries to ‘re-education’ camps in Xinjiang. Photograph: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images

China is attempting to use journalists from non-English speaking countries to promote its policies beyond its borders in a concerted new push for influence, a report by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has found.

A survey of journalist unions across 58 countries found that through study tours, control of media infrastructure, and the provision of pro-Beijing content, China is “running an extensive and sophisticated long-term outreach campaign … [in] a strategic, long-term effort to reshape the global news landscape with a China-friendly global narrative”.

The IFJ report, The China Story: reshaping the world’s media, argues Beijing is also seeking to build control over messaging infrastructure – effectively the channels by which countries receive news – through foreign media acquisitions and large-scale telecommunications ventures. The report found the decade-long campaign “seems to be escalating”. Continue reading

Citizen journalist charged for covid-19 reporting

Source: China Media Project (6/22/20)

Citizen Journalist Charged for Covid-19 Reporting

According to Chinese news reports and online posts, Shanghai-based citizen journalist Zhang Zhan (张展), who was arrested in May after posting a video criticizing the government’s epidemic response measures, was formally charged last Friday with the crime of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” (寻衅滋事罪). This is a criminal charge often used in China against activists, dissidents and writers. Zhang is reportedly being held in the Pudong New District Detention Center (浦东新区看守所).

Sometime around February 1 this year, after the outbreak in Wuhan became public knowledge in China, Zhang travelled to Wuhan from Shanghai to report on the crisis. She filed a number stories through WeChat, YouTube and Twitter before becoming the fourth citizen journalist detained in Wuhan by authorities – following journalists Chen Qiushi (陈秋实), Fang Bin (方斌) and Li Zehua (李泽华).

Back in February, CMP documented and translated a speech Li Zehua gave to local police outside the door of the apartment where he was staying before turning himself in. “I’m not willing to disguise my voice, nor am I willing to shut my eyes and close my ears,” he said.

PLA site attacks Fang Fang’s diary

Source: China Media Project (6/23/20)
PLA Site Attacks “Bad Domestic Media”

PLA Site Attacks “Bad Domestic Media”

On June 10, the website China Military (, a news portal operated by the People’s Liberation Army, ran an attack piece on the author Fang Fang, whose diary documenting 74 days under quarantine in Wuhan during the coronavirus epidemic was recently published in both English and German editions. Fang Fang’s Diary, in English titled Wuhan Diary: Dispatches from a Quarantined City, is an insider’s account of events in the city of Wuhan, the epicenter in January this year of what would eventually become a global pandemic, and it offers details about the crisis and the official response that are highly embarrassing for China’s leaders.

The piece at China Military, “The Lightspeed Publication of “Fang Fang’s Diary” Will Only Expose the Truth About More Western “Pot Throwing, alleges that certain “bad domestic media,” principally Hu Shuli’s Caixin Media, are responsible for pushing Fang Fang’s account and making it a tool for critics of China in the West. Continue reading

US designates 4 more news organizations as foreign missions

Source: NYT (6/22/20)
U.S. Designates Four More Chinese News Organizations as Foreign Missions
The move brings to nine the total number of Chinese state-run news organizations that the State Department has designated with that label. China will most likely retaliate.
By Edward Wong

The headquarters of China Central Television in Beijing. The State Department classified the organization and three others operating in the United States as “foreign missions.” Credit…Nicolas Asfouri/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration announced on Monday that it was designating four more Chinese state-run media organizations that have operations in the United States as foreign missions, in a new round of restrictions likely to lead to some form of retaliation from China.

State Department officials said they were taking the action to make it clear to American citizens that the organizations are viewed by the U.S. government as propaganda organs for a foreign government. The groups will be asked to send to the department a complete roster of employees in the United States and a list of their real estate holdings.

David R. Stilwell, the assistant secretary for East Asia and the Pacific, declined to say in a telephone briefing with reporters what actions the United States might then take based on that information. Continue reading

Online lit to see tighter regulation

Source: China Daily (6/19/20)
Publication of online literature to see tighter regulation

Serenade of Peaceful Joy (2020), a popular costume drama adapted from an online novel wirtten by Milan Lady. [Photo provided to]

Recently, the National Press and Publication Administration issued a notice on further strengthening the administration of online literature publication.

The notice requires regulating online literature, strengthening the management of online literature publication and guiding the work of related publishers.

It asks for putting a priority on social benefits, bringing more high-quality works to people and promoting the development of online literature in a healthy way.

According to the notice, online literature publishers must strictly implement their responsibilities as main platforms, improve content evaluation mechanisms for online literature, strengthen content assessment, and support the creation of new works. Continue reading

Zoom censorship

The issue of Zoom censorship of users in both the US, China, and in Hong Kong, is becoming a big topic – and the company is failing to answer basic questions.

The issue broke with yesterday’s original Axios report of a U.S. based paid Zoom account shuttered for doing an online Tiananmen conference with participants from China, including a prominent Tiananmen Mother, Zhang Xianling, and Dong Shengkun, a factory worker who spent 17 years in jail for his participation in the 1989 pro-democracy protests. See:

Zoom closed account of U.S.-based Chinese activist “to comply with local law”. Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, Axios, June 10, 2020. (updated with a vague company response)

The journalist who broke the story, Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, tells on Twitter about the Zoom company PR department now flooding her with demands for “corrections” and “updates” – but, Zoom is still not answering her basic questions about exactly what authorities told the company to shutter the account and exactly on what grounds:

One account surfaced today of a noted China scholar at the US Council of Foreign Relations being cut off mid-sentence, for speaking of the wrong topics, including the Uyghurs. Continue reading

Street vendor push ignites debate

Source: NYT (6/11/20)
China’s Street Vendor Push Ignites a Debate: How Rich is It?
The premier’s suggestion to empower a “stall economy” and focus on low-income workers leads some to ask whether the world’s No. 2 economy is as prosperous as it seems.
By Li Yuan

Credit… Jialun Deng

Xie Yiyi lost her job last Friday, making the 22-year-old Beijing resident one of millions of young people in China left unmoored and shaken by the coronavirus.

So that same day, heeding the advice of one of China’s top leaders, she decided to open a barbecue stall.

Many people in China would say selling spicy mutton skewers was a step down for an American-educated young person like Ms. Xie — or, really, for anybody in the world’s second-largest economy. Street vendors are seen by many Chinese people as embarrassing eyesores from the country’s past, when it was still emerging from extreme poverty. In many Chinese cities, uniformed neighborhood rules enforcers called chengguan regularly evict and assault sidewalk sellers of fake jewelry, cheap clothes and spicy snacks.

But Li Keqiang, China’s premier, had publicly called for the country’s jobless to ignite a “stall economy” to get the country’s derailed economy back on track. In the process, he laid bare Continue reading

China’s twitter campaign

Source: NYT (6/8/20)
Behind China’s Twitter Campaign, a Murky Supporting Chorus
Swarms of accounts are amplifying Beijing’s brash new messaging as the country tries to shape the global narrative about the coronavirus and much else.
By Raymond Zhong, Aaron Krolik, Paul Mozur, Ronen Bergman, and Edward Wong

Credit… Yifan Wu

As the Trump administration lashes out at China over a range of grievances, Beijing’s top diplomats and representatives are using the president’s favorite online megaphone — Twitter — to slap back with a pugnaciousness that is best described as Trumpian.

Behind China’s combative new messengers, a murky hallelujah chorus of sympathetic accounts has emerged to repost them and cheer them on. Many are new to the platform. Some do little else but amplify the Beijing line.

No doubt some of these accounts are run by patriotic, tech-savvy Chinese people who get around their government’s ban on Twitter and other Western platforms. But an analysis by The New York Times found that many of the accounts behaved with a single-mindedness that could suggest a coordinated campaign of the type that nation states have carried out on Twitter in the past. Continue reading

Is China reveling in US woes

Source: China Media Project (6/3/20)
Is China Reveling in US Woes?
By David Bandurski

Is China reveling in US woes?

Anumber of international media have reported in recent days that Chinese officials might be deriving some pleasure from the protests unfolding in the United States in the wake of the tragic killing of George Floyd. The Guardian newspaper noted Monday that both officials and state media appeared to “revel in scenes of US unrest, comparing protests there to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.” The New York Times reported yesterday that “[as] protests over police violence engulf hundreds of cities in the United States, China is reveling in the moment.”

It is certainly true that Chinese officials are likely to view protests over police brutality toward black people in America as an opportunity to undermine the legitimacy of US statements on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong — and on human rights more broadly. Observe the cunning Twitter mastery shown by Hua Chunying of China’s foreign ministry on Saturday as she responded with a simple “I can’t breathe,” the rallying cry for police protests, in response to a tweet in which her US counterpart Morgan Ortagus said that “freedom loving people around the world must stand with the rule of law and hold to account the Chinese Communist Party, which has flagrantly broken its promises to the people of Hong Kong.” Continue reading

China revels in US unrest

Source: NYT (6/2/20)
As Protests Engulf the United States, China Revels in the Unrest
Chinese officials and state media are seizing on the moment to tout Beijing’s authoritarian system and condemn American hypocrisy — a narrative that ignores many of their own issues.
By Javier Hernandez

Protesters being detained by the police in Minneapolis on Sunday. Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

The cartoon shows the Statue of Liberty cracking into pieces, a police officer breaking through its copper robe. A man’s head lies on the ground in front of the White House, its facade splattered with blood.

“Beneath human rights,” says the title of the cartoon, which was published by People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party’s flagship newspaper, and circulated widely on social media sites this week.

Propaganda machine defends move against HK

Source: NYT (5/23/20)
China Deploys Propaganda Machine to Defend Move Against Hong Kong
State-run news media depicted the proposed national security laws as necessary to protect the rule of the Communist Party.
By Javier C. Hernández

A screen in Beijing showed the opening session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference on Thursday. Credit…Thomas Peter/Reuters

China’s propaganda machine went into full gear as the government sought to defend new laws aimed at limiting dissent and protest in Hong Kong.

In fiery editorials and scornful social media posts, the state-run news media portrayed the proposed laws — which would amount to the most forceful crackdown on Hong Kong since it returned to Chinese control in 1997 — as necessary to protect the rule of the Communist Party in Beijing. Commentators also lashed out at the United States, warning American officials, who have threatened punishment if the laws are enacted, to stay out of the matter.

Here is how the party is using the news media to defend its plans to strengthen control of Hong Kong. Continue reading

Fine for VPN use sparks backlash

Posted by Magnus Fiskesjo <>
Source: Radio Free Asia (5/21/20)
Fine For VPN Use Sparks Rare Backlash on Chinese Internet
By Gao Feng

A man surnamed Yang (L) stands with a policeman at The Hanbin district police department in Shaanxi's Ankang city, which fined Yang 500 yuan for using a VPN to scaling China's complex systems of blocks, filters and human censorship that limits what Chinese users can see online, May 19, 2020.

A man surnamed Yang (L) stands with a policeman at The Hanbin district police department in Shaanxi’s Ankang city, which fined Yang 500 yuan for using a VPN to scaling China’s complex systems of blocks, filters and human censorship that limits what Chinese users can see online, May 19, 2020.

The fining of a Chinese internet user by authorities in the northern province of Shaanxi for using software to circumvent the Great Firewall has sparked a rare public backlash online.

The Hanbin district police department in Shaanxi’s Ankang city said on May 19 that it had fined a local man 500 yuan for scaling the Great Firewall, a complex systems of blocks, filters and human censorship that limits what Chinese users can see online.

China outlawed the use of VPNs (virtual private networks) — the most common form of circumvention tool — in 2018, and typically charges those caught using them with “accessing the international internet through illegal channels.” Continue reading

An Interview with Wang Jiuliang

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Jin Liu’s “A Cinematic Presentation of Trash: An Interview with Wang Jiuliang.” The interview appears below and at its online home: My thanks to Jin Liu for sharing this piece with the MCLC community.

Kirk Denton, editor

A Cinematic Presentation of Trash:
An Interview with Wang Jiuliang

By Jin Liu

Interview conducted in Chinese, translated by Jin Liu

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright May 2020)

Wang Jiuliang’s 王久良 documentary Plastic China 塑料王国 (2016; 82 min.) follows the members of two families who spend their lives sorting and recycling plastic waste imported from the United States, Europe, and Asia. Yijie, an eleven-year-old girl, works alongside her migrant parents from Sichuan in a recycling plant in Shandong while yearning to return home and attend school. Kun, the facility’s boss, aspires to buy a new car and to secure a better life for his family. Through the story of these two families, this poignant film explores not only waste recycling, but also social and gender inequality, urbanization, consumerism, and globalization. It won the Special Jury Award at the 2016 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), the prize for Best Film on Sustainable Development at the 2017 Millennium International Documentary Film Festival in Belgium, and was nominated for Best Documentary at the 2017 Golden Horse Film Festival in Taiwan. Continue reading

Roundup of China’s best photojournalism from Wuhan

Source: China File (5/15/20)
‘A Letter to My Friend under Quarantine in Wuhan’: A Roundup of China’s Best Photojournalism
By Ye Ming, Yan Cong, Beimeng Fu

Wu Wei, The Paper

In this edition of Depth of Field, we highlight Chinese visual storytellers’ coverage of COVID-19 inside China. Some of these storytellers were on the ground documenting the experience of residents and medical workers in Wuhan, the city where the virus first emerged. Other storytellers were not able to travel to the outbreak’s epicenter because of Wuhan’s lockdown, which lasted from January 23 to April 8. But they found creative ways to cover the news from afar: photographing life under quarantine in other cities, stitching together social media footage, using publicly available information to explain the supply chain of medical masks. Their stories, told from diverse perspectives, depict pain, strength, and sacrifice amid the outbreak, and they leave us with lingering questions about what China—and the world—will look like, when they emerge from the crisis. Continue reading