‘Me and My Motherland’ to celebrate PRC’s 70th anniversary

Source: Global Times (3/21/19)
Chen Kaige’s new film project ‘Me and My Motherland’ to celebrate PRC’s 70th anniversary

From left: Chinese filmmakers Wen Muye, Xue Xiaolu, Zhang Yibai, Chen Kaige, Huang Jianxin, Guan Hu and Ning Hao pose for a photo at a media event for Me and My Motherland in Beijing on Wednesday. Photo: Liu Zhongyin/GT

“Back in 2008, my mother called me to ask if I was involved in preparations for the Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. I wasn’t then, but this time I can confidently say that I will be responsible right from start for producing Me and My Motherland,” Chinese director Zhang Yibai said at a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday announcing his new film project.

Zhang, however, will not be alone. He is one of seven directors that will work on the film, an anthology that will tell different stories about ordinary Chinese during major historical moments since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, which will celebrate its 70th anniversary on October 1. Continue reading

‘Low-level red’ and other concerns

Source: China Media Project (3/11/19)
“Low-level Red” and other concerns

“Low-Level Red” and Other Concerns

On the last day of February, a pair of new political catchphrases made their way not just into the Party’s official People’s Daily newspaper but into a central-level Party document. These were “high-level black,” or gaojihei (高级黑) and “low-level red,” or dijihong (低级红). Before we explore how these two terms emerged on the internet and then made their way into central Party documents (中央文件), let us first take a look at some of the key trends that could be noted in Chinese political discourse in February.

Slogans, Hot and Cold

According to the six-level heat index developed by the China Media Project, here is how various important political phrases appeared in the People’s Daily:

One important thing to note as we look at phrase frequencies is that during February the total number of pages in the Party’s flagship newspaper was reduced to eight in light of the Spring Festival holiday, meaning that the total number of articles was likewise reduced, and so word frequencies were about half of what might usually be expected and we don’t see any dramatic changes in the temperature of various keywords. Continue reading

Xinjiang party boss outed as PhD plagiarist (2)

PS on the plagiarized PhD theses of Chinese officials:

Yet one more separate investigation, by the Agence France Presse, concludes Chen Quanguo (the Xinjiang province party chief currently in charge of the new concentration camp system and genocide under way in Xinjiang), plagiarised his PhD — along with other officials who also did so.

It concludes that Chen’s thesis “includes over 60 paragraphs copied without citation from another work.”

Read more here: http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/world/top-chinese-officials-plagiarised-university-theses/article/544823

Or here: https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/03/08/chinese-officials-plagiarised-university-theses-including-top-xinjiang-official-chen-quanguo/

Have there been any responses from, or any discernible consequences for, those outed as plagiarists?

Magnus Fiskesjö <nf42@cornell.edu>

Why China silenced a clickbait queen

Source: NYT (3/16/19)
Why China Silenced a Clickbait Queen in Its Battle for Information Control
By Javier C. Hernández

Chinese blogger Ma Ling, right, speaking at an event in Shanghai in 2018.CreditZhou Junxiang/ImagineChina

BEIJING — She was known as China’s clickbait queen, an irreverent blogger who prescribed shopping to combat sadness (“better than sex, orgasms, strawberry cake”) and makeovers to win back cheating husbands (“men are visual animals”).

But late last month, Ma Ling, a blogger who commanded an audience of more than 16 million people, went conspicuously silent.

In the battle for control of the Chinese internet, the authorities had designated Ms. Ma a threat to social stability, pointing to an article she published about a young man with cancer whose talent and virtue were not enough to overcome problems like corruption and inequality. Continue reading

China’s intellectual dark web

Source: Sup China (3/13/19)
China’s Intellectual Dark Web And Its Most Active Fanatic

Illustration by Anna Vignet

Liu Zhongjing, with his philosophy called “Auntology,” built a name for himself by espousing aggressively anti-leftist and anti-progressive views. But he’s reserved his most controversial — and dangerous — opinions for the Chinese state itself: new regionalism, de-Sinification, and support of separatist movements like those in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Xinjiang, and Tibet.

The term “intellectual dark web” was coined, almost tongue-in-cheek, in early 2018 by Eric Weinstein, a mathematician, manager at Thiel Capital, and op-ed writer, and was meant to recognize a network of “renegades” in academia and media who reject identity politics in the name of unhindered dialectic (“free speech”). The group includes the likes of Islamophobic blogger and neuroscientist Sam Harris, former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro, failed libertarian comedian Dave Rubin, and Jungian clean-your-room guy Jordan Peterson. Continue reading

1.5 million Muslims in camps

Source: SupChina (3/13/19)
1.5 Million Muslims Are In China’s Camps — Scholar

Adrian Zenz is a researcher at the European School of Culture and Theology in Korntal, Germany. Last year, he played a pivotal role in documenting the massive expansion of detention facilities in China’s Xinjiang region — what the government calls “vocational training centers,” but which function as political indoctrination camps. Zenz’s groundbreaking research estimating that as many as 1 million Muslims had disappeared into the facilities was published in the Jamestown China Brief, and then in the peer-reviewed journal Central Asian Survey. Continue reading

Parallelisms for the future

Source: China Media Project (3/12/19)

Parallelisms for the Future

“Parallelism,” or paibi (排比), is a rhetorical method that when used with appropriate measure can strengthen an article, but when used carelessly can have exactly the opposite effect. This is the front page of the March 4, 2019, edition of the Study Times newspaper, published by the Central Party School of the Chinese Communist Party, which just this month was upgraded to a central-level news unit.

The Study Times article, pictured here, totals 6,399 characters, and it makes use of 42 parallelisms, or paibiju (排比句).

To use the unique lingo of Chinese Communist Party media, this is what we call a “response article,” or fanyinggao (反应稿),” a kind of formalized exercise in responding to the instructions or ideological demands of one’s superiors. The fanyinggao can be regarded as one of a number of unique “genres” of Chinese Communist Party writing. In this case, we have a “response article” from a group of young Party cadres taking a study course at the Central Party School’s Chinese Academy of Governance (国家行政学院), and they are responding to a speech President Xi Jinping gave to mark the opening of the course. Continue reading

Entrepreneur takes on system

Source: NYT (3/9/19)
Chinese Entrepreneur Takes On the System, and Drops Out of Sight
By Chris Buckley

Zhao Faqi, 52, hoped to strike it rich when in 2003 he signed a government contract for coal exploration rights. Then the government tore up the deal. He fought back, and now he has vanished. Credit Giulia Marchi for The New York Times

YULIN, China — For months, Zhao Faqi was a folk hero for entrepreneurs in China — an investor who fought the government in court and online, and against the odds, seemed poised to win. He accused officials of stealing his rights to coal-rich land, and ignited a furor by accusing China’s most powerful judge of corruption.

Now, Mr. Zhao has dropped out of sight — and the authorities want to erase his story.

For much of the winter, Mr. Zhao’s case was the subject of avid discussion on Chinese social media, and his supporters saw it as a test of whether the president and Communist Party leader, Xi Jinping, would support the troubled private sector against grasping officials. Continue reading

Xinjiang party boss outed as PhD plagiarist (1)

According to news today, the Twitter account that revealed Xinjiang party boss Chen Quanguo’s and other party official’s plagiarizing of academic degree theses, has been emptied, and the Github trove of data supporting it disappeared:


Such a deletion looks a lot like an official admission of “guilty as charged.” Has anyone seen any attempt to actually answer the plagiarism charges? Or have they been met only by silence?

(ps. The Financial Times also had an article on the issue, https://www.ft.com/content/2eb02fa4-3429-11e9-bd3a-8b2a211d90d5 [Paywall])

Magnus Fiskesjö <nf42@cornell.edu>

Locking up his fellow Muslims

Source: NYT (3/2/19)
He Needed a Job. China Gave Him One: Locking Up His Fellow Muslims
阅读简体中文版| 閱讀繁體中文版| Leer en español
China’s vast detention program for Muslims has required more and more police officers. And recruits are coming from the very ethnic groups that are being suppressed.
By Austin Ramzy

Baimurat, who lives in Kazakhstan, says he helped deliver hundreds of fellow Muslims to an indoctrination camp in China’s Xinjiang region. “I came to regret ever coming back to China,” he said. “That choice led me into doing such awful things.” Credit Emile Ducke for The New York Times

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — The businesses he started had failed, and he had a wife and two children to support. So when the authorities in China’s far western Xinjiang region offered him a job with the auxiliary police, Baimurat welcomed the good pay and benefits.

For months, he stood at roadside checkpoints, looking for people on the government’s blacklist, usually from Muslim ethnic minorities. As a Kazakh Muslim himself, he sometimes felt uncomfortable about his work, but he needed the money.

Then he was asked to help bring 600 handcuffed people to a new facility — and was stunned by what he saw. Officials called it a job training center, but it was basically a prison, with toilets and beds behind bars. One detainee was an acquaintance he barely recognized because he had lost so much weight. Continue reading

The ‘bots’ of Weibo

Source: LA Review of Books, China Channel ()
The “Bots” of Weibo
By Bai Mingcong
How fake automated Chinese social media accounts are being used as a Trojan horse for dissent

On October 21, 2018, an account named ‘People’s Daily bot’ (@人日bot) posted this message on Weibo:

They fear the empowerment of the people, fear that the people shall see the true face of our era, and further yet, they fear that their vice shall be exposed in front of the masses! (他们害怕人民翻身,害怕人民认识大时代的真面貌, 更害怕他们自己的丑恶暴露在人民大众面前!)

Taken at face value, the account appears to directly and forcefully target the Chinese regime. Puzzlingly, by the time of publication, the post has yet to be removed, and the account has not been banned, as usually happens to dissenting social media in China. Yet a closer look reveals that this is a repost of a 1946 editorial from the People’s Daily, the central mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, that criticized the treatment of journalists in the Nationalist “occupation zone” as contrasted with the communist “liberated zone” under CCP control. The survival of the post in the face of hardening censorship is not a loosening of the cords. Instead, it is representative of a new trend on the Chinese internet, in which Weibo accounts purporting to be bots hide their criticism of the government behind prominent and often politically unassailable figures of modern China. Continue reading

Zhang Yimou’s ‘One Second” pulled from Berlin fest

Source: Variety (2/11/19)
Zhang Yimou’s ‘One Second’ Pulled From Berlin Festival Lineup


Zhang Yimou’s “One Second,” set during China’s 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, has been withdrawn from the Berlin Film Festival, where it was to premiere in competition. A post Monday on the film’s official Weibo social media site announced that the film had been yanked, saying that it was for “technical reasons.” The festival confirmed the information, and explained that the film had not been completed.

The move means that Berlin’s competition section will drop from 17 to 16 films. However, Berlin expects to play another, older, film by Zhang in the same time slot on Friday, albeit out of competition. Sources close to the festival said that Zhang’s 2002 art-house actioner “Hero” will fill the slot. Continue reading

China’s about-face on education

Source: China Media Project (2/24/19)

China’s About-Face on Education

In late January, Introduction to Constitutional Law (宪法学导论), a textbook on China’s Constitution first published in 2004 and now in its third edition, vanished from online bookstores, including Amazon.cn, JD.com and dangdang.com. Offline, the book was apparently pulled from shelves at Xinhua Bookstore, a government-affiliated book chain that is also the country’s largest.

Written by Zhang Qianfan (张千帆), a law professor at Peking University and one of the country’s leading experts on constitutional law, Introduction to Constitutional Law has long been essential and required reading for students of law in China. While the precise reasons for the textbook’s disappearance were not entirely clear, rumors posted across social media suggested the textbook had run afoul of the authorities for “promoting western ideas, and singing praise of western systems” (宣扬西方思想, 鼓吹西方制度).

The book’s sudden change of fate is one of the latest and clearest indications of a deeper ideological shift in China under Xi Jinping (习近平), one that puts Marxism — with “Chinese characteristics,” of course — back in the driving seat, with real and felt implications for all aspects of society, including education.

Whatever the backstory concerning Zhang’s book, the news of its disappearance came amid a nationwide operation targeting college textbooks. Continue reading

2019 a sensitive year for China

Source: NYT (2/25/19)
2019 Is a Sensitive Year for China. Xi Is Nervous
By Chris Buckley

Pictures of President Xi Jinping at an exhibition for the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up, at the National Museum of China in Beijing last year.CreditThomas Peter/Reuters

BEIJING — China’s leader, Xi Jinping, abruptly summoned hundreds of officials to Beijing recently, forcing some to reschedule long-planned local assemblies. The meeting seemed orchestrated to convey anxious urgency. The Communist Party, Mr. Xi told the officials, faces major risks on all fronts and must batten down the hatches.

Whether dealing with foreign policy, trade, unemployment, or property prices, he declared, officials would be held responsible if they slipped up and let dangers spiral into real threats.

“Globally, sources of turmoil and points of risk are multiplying,” he told the gathering in January at the Central Party School. At home, he added, “the party is at risk from indolence, incompetence and of becoming divorced from the public.” Continue reading

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