What has Marx ever done for China

P.S.: The subtitle is: The key to Marx’s appeal for modern China lies in his conception of history.–Alessandro Burrone <alessandroburrone@gmail.com>

Source: The Diplomat (May 14, 2018)
What Has Karl Marx Ever Done for China?
By Kerry Brown, Kerry

Visitors walk past a photograph of Karl Marx at an exhibition to commemorate the 200th anniversary of his birth at the National Museum in Beijing (May 5, 2018). Image Credit: AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

One of the paradoxes of modern Chinese history is that, during the most xenophobic and anti-foreign period in the country’s modern history, in the depths of the Cultural Revolution half a century ago, the words of German émigré Karl Marx and the ideology that bore his name imported from that maligned, distrusted, and hated outside world were untouchable parts of the dogma.

Nien Cheng in her celebrated memoir of the era, Life and Death in Shanghai, put her finger on this paradox. Responding to her interrogators when attacked for working for a foreign company in Shanghai, she asked, why was that such a problem? The Communists, after all, she said, were serving a set of ideas born abroad, created by a foreigner. She could have gone further. The Red Guards were idolizing a foreigner whose vast corpus of work, when it mentioned China (which was rarely), did so with lofty disparagement and disdain. The country, Marx thought, was decades, if not centuries away from the revolutions he predicted were about to topple governments in Europe and the West. Continue reading

How I Made it to Renda’s Blacklist

Source: China Digital Times (10/15/18)
Translation: How I Made it to Renmin University’s Student Blacklist

Six weeks ago, 22-year-old Marxist student activist Yue Xin was detained, just over a week after she posted an open letter, translated in full by CDT, to the CCP Central Committee expressing support for protesting Jasic Technology Factory workers. Yue was one of about 50 student activists and workers who were detained while rallying for the protesting workers in Shenzhen. At the South China Morning Post, Guo Rui and Mimi Lau report that Yue is still yet to be seen since the detention, and notes the advocacy techniques of the new generation of Marxist activists that she represents, and that some Chinese universities appear to be targeting:

The detentions were part of an intensifying clampdown by the authorities on a growing number of young Chinese activists who have found inspiration in  in recent years, hoping to bring change on issues ranging from feminism and income equality to workers’ rights.

But in sharp contrast to the official Marxist line, this new generation of Marxists emphasises individual freedoms, with some even showing interest in a Western constitutional democracy – a stand the country’s mainstream Marxists and Maoists usually dismiss as the wrong path for China.

[…] Most of the protesters detained in August have since been released, but four have been placed under “residential  at a designated location” – a form of secret detention – while four others are still in custody and could face prosecution, according to their friends and other activists.

But the whereabouts of Yue, as well as her mother, who has been out of contact since early September, remain unknown. […] [Source] Continue reading

Yan Lianke’s forbidden satires

Source: The New Yorker (10/15/18)
Yan Lianke’s Forbidden Satires of China
How an Army propaganda writer became the country’s most controversial novelist.
By Jiayang Fan

Yan says, “The reality of China is so outrageous that it renders realism inert.” Illustration by Tatsuro Kiuchi.

When the novelist Yan Lianke visits his elderly mother, which he does every two to three months, he is loath to tell anyone he’s coming. As a local boy made good, Yan is acutely aware of the hazards that accompany a publicized homecoming: having to serve as the guest of honor at interminable banquets, being the dedicatee of countless toasts. Inevitably, though, word gets out, and when, in June, I travelled with him from Beijing, where he lives with his wife and son, to Luoyang, the city nearest his ancestral village, a friend had arranged a dinner in his honor.

Luoyang, in Henan Province, is an arid backwater, but its position in the Yellow River Basin made it one of the cradles of Chinese civilization. For fifteen hundred years, from the eleventh century B.C., it was an imperial capital; on its streets, Confucius, a failed official turned itinerant sage, is said to have met Laozi, the founder of Daoism. Nowadays, Luoyang is best known for the Longmen Grottoes, where tens of thousands of Buddha statues have been carved into cliffs on the banks of the Yi River. Continue reading

Marxist activist missing after police raid

Source: SCMP (10/12/18)
Fears for young Marxist activist missing after police raid in China
Yue Xin was detained along with about 50 other activists, many of them young Marxists, who joined campaign for union rights at Jasic Technology
By Guo RuiMimi Lau

Yue Xin (centre) was taken into custody on August 24 along with about 50 other activists. Photo: Mimi Lau

A young rights activist who called for China’s top university to be transparent about its investigation of a rape case and joined a labour dispute in Shenzhen has not been seen for more than six weeks after she was detained by police.

Yue Xin, 22, was taken into custody on August 24 along with about 50 other activists, many of them young Marxists, who were involved in a labour rights protest in Shenzhen. Continue reading

Fan Bingbing violates grammar rules (1)

Excuse me, but this is ridiculous. Of course we already know, that Fan Bingbing’s police handlers would have vetted and approved every sentence, every comma. Or, they wrote the whole thing! This is what typically goes on, when somebody is disappeared. See my writings on this:

Confessions Made in China, http://www.chinoiresie.info/confessions-made-in-china/
The Return of the Show Trial: China’s Televised “Confessions,” http://apjjf.org/2017/13/Fiskesjo.html

So, the high school teachers that supposedly complained about her confessional statement’s grammar, should be ashamed! Continue reading

Man gets 3-year sentence for selling VPNs

Source: SupChina (10/10/18)
Man In Shanghai Gets Three-Year Sentence For Selling VPNs

A software engineer in Shanghai has been sentenced to three years in prison after providing illegal virtual private networks (VPNs) to hundreds of customers since 2016, reports the People’s Court Daily (in Chinese).

The man, surnamed Dai 戴, was also ordered to serve three years probation and pay a fine of 10,000 yuan ($1,400).

According to the People’s Court of Shanghai Baoshan District, Dai was charged with “offering illegal tools like computer programs that can invade and control computer information systems.” More specifically, Dai was found guilty of making unlawful profits by “creating a website selling VPN services” and “renting foreign servers that grant customers access to foreign websites that they can’t visit with a domestic IP address.” Continue reading

Interview on Xinjiang

Truly frightening account of what goes on in Xinjiang. See below. (+ will include it in my periodically updated list of news on Xinjiang, https://uhrp.org/featured-articles/chinas-re-education-concentration-camps-xinjiang)–Magnus Fiskesjö <nf42@cornell.edu>

Source: Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/notes/gene-bunin/the-uyghurs-of-kazakhstan-have-been-pressured-into-inactivity/2271471456418034/

“The Uyghurs of Kazakhstan have been pressured into inactivity”
Gene Bunin

The following is a translation of the Azattyq interview of Kakharman Kozhamberdi by Ayan Kalmurat, published in Russian on October 4, 2018. I’ve decided to translate it as it answers a question that I’ve often found myself asking during my time in Kazakhstan: “So, where are the local Uyghurs in all this?”

The Kazakhstan Uyghur Association has not been active in searching out relatives arrested in Xinjiang, nor has it made many statements regarding the issue. Azattyq talked to a main advisor of the World Uyghur Congress, Kakharman Kozhamberdi, about the reasons behind this state of affairs. Continue reading

Xinjiang human rights radio show

Soundcloud link for last Friday’s Ithaca, NY, radio show on Xinjiang human rights:


Magnus Fiskesjö and John Weiss, Human Rights and Social Justice, hosted by Ute Ritz-Deutch, 4-5PM, Friday, 5 Oct. 2018, on FM 88.1, WRFI.org, in Ithaca, N.Y.

–Magnus Fiskesjö and John Weiss talk about the Uighurs, a Turkic Muslim minority in the Xinjiang province of China (formerly known as East Turkestan). They have been targeted by the Chinese government because of their ethnicity and religion. An estimated one million Uighurs have been threatened, disappeared or sent to so-called Re-Education camps. Those who have left China fear being forcibly returned. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have reported on this human rights crisis and the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) has compiled news sources as well. For more information visit uhrp.org.

Posted by:  Magnus Fiskesjö, nf42@cornell.edu (As always, comments welcome!)

New train blurs line btw China and HK

Source: The Guardian (10/4/18)
‘This is part of the plan’: new train blurs line between China and Hong Kong
The $11bn high-speed Vibrant Express connects Hong Kong with mainland China in 20 minutes for the first time – and the city’s residents are nervous
By Lily Kuo

The Hong Kong and China flags outside the West Kowloon station in Hong Kong.

‘They want us to go to China and work’ … The Hong Kong and China flags outside the newly built West Kowloon station in Hong Kong. Photograph: Jerome Favre/EPA

Inside the newly built West Kowloon terminus, it’s hard to know where Hong Kong stops and China begins.

A restaurant on one floor is technically on Hong Kong soil. Just below it, a duty-free shopping area belongs to neither government. Meanwhile, the VIP lounge one level down from that is Chinese territory.

In the open space of this cavernous train station, you can stand on Hong Kong territory (the ticketing floor) and look down into Chinese territory (the departure hall). Outside the station, the Chinese and Hong Kong flags fly side by side – with the red-and-white Hong Kong flag set slightly lower. Continue reading

Pence cites Lu Xun

Yesterday US Vice-President, Mike Pence, gave a speech on China at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think-tank in Washington. Near the end of the speech, he cited Lu Xun, of all people. He said:

The great Chinese story-teller Lu Xun often lamented that his country “has either looked down at foreigners as brutes, or up to them as saints, but never as equals.” Today, America is reaching out our hand to China; we hope that Beijing will soon reach back – with deeds, not words, and with renewed respect for America. But we will not relent until our relationship with China is grounded in fairness, reciprocity, and respect for sovereignty.

We can now add the Trump administration to the long list of “political uses” of Lu Xun. By the way, the quote is from the opening to “Impromptu Reflection, no. 48” (隨感錄四十八) and reads in the original:


Not sure where he got the translation, but Pence did not use (thankfully?) the translation, by Eileen Cheng, in Jottings under Lamplight (Harvard UP, 2017), which reads:

The Chinese have had, throughout the ages, only two terms of address for other races: either “beasts” or “royal highnesses.” They have never been called friends, nor said to have anything in common with us. (p. 253).

If you can stomach it, the whole speech, both in text and in video, is here:




Socialism Is a Bit Cool

Source: Sixth Tone (10/2/18)
Ideology for 500: Hunan TV Airs Quiz Show on Xi Jinping Thought
Second season of ‘Socialism Is a Bit Cool’ marks the first time any program has made the Chinese president’s life, philosophy, and policy its focal point.
By Cai Yiwen

A screenshot from the first episode of ‘Socialism Is a Bit Cool: Studying Xi in the New Era,” broadcast Sept. 30, 2018.

Just in time for the National Day holidays in the first week of October, one of China’s largest television networks has debuted a new quiz show about the life and philosophy of President Xi Jinping.

The first episode of “Socialism Is a Bit Cool: Studying Xi in the New Era” [社会主义有点潮:新时代学习大会] was broadcast at 7:30 p.m. Sunday on Hunan TV. Launched in October 2017, the show is now in its second season — though this year’s iteration marks the first time any program in China will focus explicitly on Xi’s teachings. Continue reading

PolyU democracy wall row

Source: SCMP (10/2/18)
PolyU democracy wall row escalates as ‘student tears down’ paper covering Hong Kong independence messages
Incident happens a day before deadline in ultimatum to institution given by student union to remove the red paper
By Su Xinqi

The fight over control of a bulletin board at Hong Kong Polytechnic University escalated on Tuesday after a large piece of red paper that management used to cover pro-independence messages was reportedly torn down by a student.

The incident happened a day before the deadline in an ultimatum issued to university staff by the student union and 37 other campus groups. They called for the removal of the red paper by noon on Wednesday.

The board, also known as the democracy wall, was for students to post notices to express their views.

The row started after the union, which manages the wall, relaxed rules on Monday last week, following an unprecedented government ban against the separatist Hong Kong National Party. Continue reading

Global propaganda aimed at bosses, not foreigners

Source: Foreign Policy (10/1/18)
China’s Global Propaganda Is Aimed at Bosses, Not Foreigners
Chinese reporters overseas are rewarded for whiny nationalism, not persuasive argument.
By James Palmer

Foreign Policy illustration

Foreign Policy illustration

It’s not unusual for political events in Britain to be disrupted by screaming protesters, but it’s rare for them to have a press card. At an event Sunday on the fringes of the Conservative Party Conference, hosted by the cross-party group Hong Kong Watch, Kong Linlin, a reporter for the Chinese state English-language TV station China Global Television Network (CGTN), began shouting at the panel that they were liars, traitors, and “fake Chinese.” When asked to leave, she slapped a young attendee and eventually was removed by police.

At another TV station, this bizarre and embarrassing event would probably get the reporter fired. As several foreign correspondents in China pointed out, a foreign reporter who did the same at a Chinese press conference would have their credentials revoked and be kicked out of the country—as happened to French journalist Ursula Gauthier for writing an opinion piece on China’s oppression in Xinjiang. Continue reading

Universities under strict surveillance

Posted by Magnus Fiskesjö <nf42@cornell.edu>
Source: Chinascope (10/2/18): http://chinascope.org/archives/16286
Original source: Radio Free Asia (9/28/18)

Professor in Exile: Chinese Universities Are under Strict Surveillance


A professor from China now living in the United States paints a very disturbing picture of the information control in Chinese universities. 

Tan Song, an associate professor at Chongqing Normal University investigated the truth about the “land reform movement,” the Anti-Rightist Campaign, the Second Sino-Japanese War, and the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. Because he did so, the school expelled him and the police arrested him. Another charge was that he taught about the 1989 Student Movement and the June 4th Tiananmen Massacre. In 2017, he was forced to leave China and is currently living in exile in Los Angeles. Continue reading

Trump Guards

Source: SupChina (9/26/18)
The Chinese Left Who Support Trump And The American Alt-Right

There is an active and vocal faction of Trump supporters in China, nicknamed “Trump Guards,” a pun on the Red Guards of the Cultural Revolution. In the American president, they see a kindred spirit — even in spite of recent provocations — whose aggressive nationalism, hard line on immigration, and disdain for liberals is matched by their own.

“To change a president is common, but to change an era is very rare.” So wrote Li Ziyang 李子暘, a 43-year old self-described Chinese nationalist and “self-media” opinion influencer, at 6:24pm on November 9, 2016, Beijing time, when Donald Trump’s electoral victory was secure but America was just waking up to discover it. Li was posting on China’s Twitter-like social media platform Sina Weibo, and as a Chinese supporter of Trump, he was delighted.

“I like Trump because he’s a businessman, not a revolutionary,” Li told me after the election. We were in Starbucks, and the Chinese patriot was wearing an Oakland Athletics baseball cap, slurping an Americano. There were three key areas where he was in agreement with Trump’s policy, he said. One: Like Trump, Li is anti-immigration, in a Chinese context as much as an American one. Two: He hates social welfare policies, especially for ethnic minorities (“only Trump openly says that’s not all right”). And three: He enjoys giving the liberal Western mainstream a hard time, taking relish in the drumming that Trump doles out to what he, too, calls jia xinwen, “fake news” — a term that for Li includes any criticism of China from the West, alongside breaking Trump scandals. Continue reading