The erasure of Mesut Özil

Source: NYT (10/26/20)
The Erasure of Mesut Özil
A year ago, he was one of the Premier League’s highest-paid players. Now, after angering China and refusing a pay cut, he has simply vanished.
By Rory Smith and Tariq Panja


Mesut Özil

LONDON — Everything started with a tweet. Mesut Özil knew the risks, in December last year, when he decided to offer a startling, public denunciation both of China’s treatment of the Uighurs, a largely Muslim minority in the region of Xinjiang, and the complicit silence of the international community.

Friends and advisers had warned Özil, the Arsenal midfielder, that there would be consequences. He would have to write off China as a market. His six million followers on Weibo, the country’s largest social network, would disappear. His fan club there — with as many as 50,000 signed-up members — would go, too. He would never play in China. He might become too toxic even for any club with Chinese owners, or sponsors eager to do business there.

Özil knew this was not fearmongering. He was aware of China’s furious response — both institutionally and organically — to a tweet by Daryl Morey, the general manager of the N.B.A.’s Houston Rockets, only a few weeks earlier. Yet Özil was adamant. He had been growing increasingly outraged by the situation in Xinjiang for months, watching documentaries, consuming news reports. He believed it was his duty, he told his advisers, not so much to highlight the issue but to pressure Muslim-majority nations — including Turkey, whose president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had served as best man at Özil’s wedding — to intercede.

And so he pressed send. Continue reading

Epoch Times influence machine (1)

The Epoch Times has responded to the NYT article–Leila M. <>

Source: The Epoch Times (10/25/20)
New York Times’ 8-Month-Long ‘Investigation’ of The Epoch Times: Light on Facts, Heavy on Bias

The New York Times on Oct. 24 published an article by tech columnist Kevin Roose about The Epoch Times. The article was published on the front page of the NY Times’ Sunday edition on Oct. 25.

Roose worked on this article about The Epoch Times for at least eight months. The result, however, is disappointing. Instead of attempting to give a fair portrayal of The Epoch Times as an up-and-coming media outlet, Roose resorts to factual errors, innuendo, and misrepresentations in an attempt to smear a competing media outlet.

Furthermore, previous social media comments made by Roose and NY Times media columnist Ben Smith (who contributed to Roose’s article) about The Epoch Times, in which they appear to discuss a collective effort against The Epoch Times, raise questions about the intent behind this article (see the section “Personal Bias” below). Continue reading

Epoch Times influence machine

Source: NYT (10/24/20)
How The Epoch Times Created a Giant Influence Machine
Since 2016, the Falun Gong-backed newspaper has used aggressive Facebook tactics and right-wing misinformation to create an anti-China, pro-Trump media empire.
By Kevin Roose


Credit…Adam Ferriss

For years, The Epoch Times was a small, low-budget newspaper with an anti-China slant that was handed out free on New York street corners. But in 2016 and 2017, the paper made two changes that transformed it into one of the country’s most powerful digital publishers.

The changes also paved the way for the publication, which is affiliated with the secretive and relatively obscure Chinese spiritual movement Falun Gong, to become a leading purveyor of right-wing misinformation.

First, it embraced President Trump, treating him as an ally in Falun Gong’s scorched-earth fight against China’s ruling Communist Party, which banned the group two decades ago and has persecuted its members ever since. Its relatively staid coverage of U.S. politics became more partisan, with more articles explicitly supporting Mr. Trump and criticizing his opponents. Continue reading

Top online lit for 2019

Source: China Daily (9/30/20)
List names top Chinese online literature for 2019
By Yang Yang |

Library of Heavenly Path [Photo provided to China Daily]

The list of Top Chinese Online Literary Works in 2019 was released yesterday in Shenzhen. After three rounds of assessments and online voting by 1.79 million readers, 19 works and projects made the list, including nine novels from the China Literature Group under Tencent .

Since 2014, the China Writers Association has issued the Top Chinese Online Novels every year, which was upgraded this year to become the Top Chinese Online Literary Works, adding lists regarding the influence of online novels’ intellectual property and their international reach.

The Top 10 Chinese Online Novels include Zhaoyang Jingshi (Cases in Zhaoyang), I Am On MarsLibrary of Heavenly PathZai Zhi Tian Xia (Rule the Country) and Hao Dang (the broad world), covering genres including reality, fantasy, martial arts and science fiction. Continue reading

Blogger loses status after extreme post

Source: China Media Project (10/2/20)

Blogger Zhao Shengye

Last month, CMP reported on the firestorm surrounding well-known blogger and amateur scientist Zhao Shengye (赵盛烨), who in a post to his more than three million social media followers appeared to advocate a Chinese policy of earth-wide destruction should the Trump administration be “bent on fighting against China.” Posts expressing extreme nationalism on Chinese social media are often afforded great latitude from censors, but Zhao’s violent advocacy of global destruction to spite the US was too much for many Chinese, and after Zhao was widely criticized the post was finally taken down.

In a rare case of public backlash having consequences for extreme nationalist views online, the China Computer Federation (CCF) issued a notice on September 24 saying it had revoked Zhao Shengye’s membership in the organization after his “extreme comments” on his official WeChat account had had a “huge negative impact” on the organization. The CCF said in its notice that it had received numerous official complaints from other members. Continue reading

Vlogger set on fire by ex during live stream

Source: BBC News (10/2/20)
Chinese vlogger dies after ‘set on fire by ex during live stream’

GETTY IMAGES: A phone using the Douyin app. Lamu was allegedly live streaming when she was attacked

A Chinese influencer has died after her ex-husband allegedly doused her in petrol and set fire to her as she was attempting to live stream, said local media reports.

Lamu was popular on Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, where she had hundreds of thousands of followers.

Lamu suffered burns on 90% of her body and died two weeks after the attack.

The case has prompted conversation on social media about violence against women in China.

Lamu, 30, from China’s Sichuan province, was known for her happy posts on rural life and was praised for not using make up in her videos, which had millions of likes. Continue reading

Sex education controversy

Source: SupChina (9/22/20)
Sex education advocates push back after Chinese parent denounces reproductive anatomy lesson in primary school
Although the State Council, China’s Cabinet, urged all schools to make sexual and reproductive health education part of their compulsory curriculums in 2011, lessons covering sex-related topics are still limited and not offered at all in many Chinese schools.
By Jiayun Feng

sex education china

A Chinese mother of a nine-year-old girl recently shared her indignation over how her child was taught about human anatomy and reproduction at school, accusing her daughter’s teacher of providing sex education too early.

Her complaint, however, was swiftly dismissed as prudish and backward by an overwhelming number of people on social media, who leveraged the situation to call for more candid conversations about sex in Chinese classrooms.

According to a series of screenshots of WeChat messages shared by the parent, she decided to reach out to the teacher after her daughter came home from school one day, telling her what she learned about “pregnancy” and “anatomical differences between men and women.” Continue reading

Violinist blames China for losing his job

Source: NYT (9/13/20)
A Violinist Lost His Seat and His Job. He Blames China.
In a lawsuit filed in New Jersey, a former member of the well-known Shanghai Quartet said he had been dumped after a remark he made on social media was misinterpreted as an ethnic slur.
By Melena Ryzik

Yi-Wen Jiang, a violinist formerly with the Shanghai Quartet, says in a recently filed lawsuit that he was unfairly forced from the group after a remark he made on social media was mischaracterized. Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

Yi-Wen Jiang, a violinist who was, until recently, billed as a member of the Shanghai Quartet, an internationally known chamber group with roots in China, says he didn’t give the pig emoji a second thought.

Responding to a post on social media about Chinese-American relations a few months ago, he typed in the image of the smiley pig face — “the cute one,” he said — and went about his day. But his posting soon caused an outcry and he was called a bigot for what his critics said was his effort to deride the Chinese people as pigs.

Within days, Mr. Jiang had lost his job and, he said, his reputation.

Now Mr. Jiang, who has been a U.S. citizen for over two decades, has brought a lawsuit in New Jersey Superior Court, contending his offhand remark on social media was purposely distorted by those who object to his longstanding criticism of the Chinese government. Continue reading

‘Mulan’ fizzles in China

Source: NYT (9/14/20)
Imagined as a Blockbuster in China, ‘Mulan’ Fizzles
Disney’s live-action remake had already drawn a global backlash. Chinese audiences mocked it for other reasons, including historical inaccuracies and stereotyping.
By Amy Qin and Amy Chang Chien

Disney took pains to ensure that “Mulan” would appeal to audiences in China, but the film collected just $23 million its opening weekend in the country. Credit…Greg Baker/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Disney had been pinning its hopes on its $200 million live-action remake of “Mulan” as a way to finally deliver a blockbuster that resonated culturally with moviegoers in China, the world’s No. 2 film market.

But when it arrived, Chinese moviegoers had a litany of complaints.

The filmmakers were trying too hard to pander to China, but did not try hard enough to get their historical facts right. They made Mulan too westernized yet still succumbed to Orientalist stereotypes. They cast popular Chinese actors yet gave them lines in English that felt awkward in a Chinese setting.

“The movie is a waste of Mulan’s innocent name; it really is heartbreaking,” Qiu Tian, 30, a psychology teacher at a Beijing university who recently saw the movie, said in an interview. “The director completely misunderstood Mulan and stubbornly twisted her character into this role as an extreme feminist and hero.” Continue reading

Ambassaor ‘likes’ an x-rated video

Source: NYT (9/10/20)
Chinese Ambassador ‘Likes’ an X-Rated Video. Awkward.
China demanded that Twitter investigate, suggesting that Liu Xiaoming’s account had been compromised. But the account has a history of unusual likes.
By Austin Ramzy

Liu Xiaoming, one of China’s most high-profile diplomats, has been the ambassador to Britain since 2009. Credit…Tolga Akmen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

HONG KONG — When the Twitter account of a Chinese ambassador on Wednesday “liked” a tweet of an X-rated video involving the use of feet, a furious statement from the Chinese Embassy demanded that Twitter launch an investigation.

The like created a storm on social media, with many debating whether it had been an accident or if the account of the ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, had been hacked.

Evidence suggests that Mr. Liu may be a tech-unsavvy boomer struggling to master a platform that is banned in his own country. The account has a history of odd likes. It has frequently liked its own tweets. It has even liked criticism of China itself. Continue reading

How my mother and I became Chinese propaganda

Source: The New Yorker (9/7/20)
How My Mother and I Became Chinese Propaganda
Immigrant struggles in America forged a bond that became even tighter after my mother’s A.L.S. diagnosis. Then, as COVID-19 threatened, Chinese nationalists began calling us traitors to our country.
By Jiayang Fan

mother daughter

The author and her mother came to the U.S. in 1992. “Desperation burnished in my mother a raw, enterprising grit.” Illustration by Tyler Comrie; photographs courtesy the author

The messages wishing me a gruesome death arrive slowly at first and then all at once. I am condemned to be burned, raped, tortured. Some include a video of joyful dancing at a funeral, with fists pounding on a wooden casket. The hardest ones to read take aim at my mother, who has been immobilized by the neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis since 2014. Most of the messages originate in China, but my mother and I live in New York. As the COVID lockdown has swept the city, I find out that the health aides she depends on are to be banned from her facility and take to Twitter to publicize my despair. But this personal plight as a daughter unexpectedly attracts the attention of Chinese nationalists who have long been displeased with my work as a writer reporting on China. In short order, my predicament is politicized and packaged into a viral sensation. “Has your mom died yet?” China15z0dj wants to know. “Your mom will be dead Haha. 1.4 billion people wish for you to join her in Hell. Haha!”

At some point, I stop scrolling. The messages I dread the most come not from Internet strangers but from people who know me—my aunt, my uncle, my mother’s childhood best friend. On WeChat, they link to various Chinese-language articles about me and ask, “Have you read this?” The next question would be almost funny if it weren’t so painfully earnest: “Do you know this Jiayang Fan?” Continue reading

China freezes US journalists’ credentials

Source: NYT (9/6/20)
China Freezes Credentials for Journalists at U.S. Outlets, Hinting at Expulsions
CNN, The Wall Street Journal and Getty Images are affected. Chinese officials told journalists, who can still work, that their fate depends on what the United States does to Chinese media employees.
By Edward Wong

Employees of The New York Times on their last day of work at the newspaper’s bureau in Beijing in March. Credit…Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Chinese government has stopped renewing press credentials for foreign journalists working for American news organizations in China and has implied it will proceed with expulsions if the Trump administration takes further action against Chinese media employees in the United States, according to six people with knowledge of the events.

The actions and threats raise the stakes in the continuing cycles of retribution between Washington and Beijing over news media organizations. Those rounds of retaliation are a prominent element of a much broader downward spiral in U.S.-China relations, one that involves mutually hostile policies and actions over trade, technology, educationdiplomatic missionsTaiwan and military presence in Asia.

American news organizations immediately affected by China’s latest actions include CNN, The Wall Street Journal and Getty Images. Journalists from all three organizations tried to renew press cards with the Foreign Ministry last week, but were told the cards, which are usually good for one year, could not be renewed. In total, at least five journalists in four organizations have been affected, several reporters said. Continue reading

Jimmy Lai found not guilty

Source: BBC News (9/3/20)
Jimmy Lai: Hong Kong tycoon found not guilty in intimidation trial

Jimmy Lai arrives at court for verdict

GETTY IMAGES: Jimmy Lai arrives at court for the verdict

A Hong Kong court has found media mogul Jimmy Lai not guilty of intimidating a photojournalist from a rival newspaper three years ago.

Mr Lai had denied the charge of “criminal intimidation” over a 2017 incident at a Tiananmen massacre vigil.

Last month police detained the democracy activist in a separate case under a controversial new security law.

He is also facing several other charges over last year’s anti-government protests.

The 71-year-old’s arrest in August sparked global condemnation of the escalating crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong. Continue reading

Online teaching suggestions (3)

Dear All,

For the last part of my academic career I had the privilege of working in New Zealand’s foremost tertiary-level distance provider. The institution began to experiment with online delivery beginning in the late 1990s. I’d like to share my story about how I survived this experience, that is, being thrown in the deep end of a situation that demanded quick mastery of new pedagogy, new terminology and mindset, and new technology. Those teaching online for the first time may find these insights helpful.

At my university two-thirds of the students in Chinese study at a distance. The distance mode of delivery required the writing of study guides that were printed out and mailed to the students. The remaining students, mostly school leavers, were/are taught face-to-face internally using the same study material. When the university transitioned to online teaching the internal students had access to the course online sites. At that point, the environment comprised what is referred to as a “dual mode of teaching” with a “blended form of learning.”

In about the year 2000 the university purchased the license for Moodle (Stream) that became the learning management system for all staff and students teaching and learning online. We were all working off the same page, as it were. As the situation evolved I came to view the online delivery as a seamless development of the provision of distance teaching. The following points sum up how I tackled my offering in dual mode of the foundation course on pre-modern China. Continue reading