Tighter regulations on film and tv dramas

Source: Sup China (6/12/18)
Internal Memo Reveals Tighter Regulations On Chinese Films And Television Dramas

Censorship of Chinese films and TV programs has been bad recently, and it’s about to get worse. That’s the takeaway from an internal document circulating in the Chinese entertainment industry.

The memo (in Chinese), obtained and shared by WeChat blogger Xiaode Zhang 晓得张, is allegedly from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (see this piece on recent developments at the organization known as SAPPRFT).

In the document, the government encourages content that showcases “people’s happiness” and features important upcoming events, such as the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the PRC in 2019, and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s 100th anniversary in 2021. Continue reading

Wang Yang criticizes CR

Source: SCMP (6/7/18)
Top Chinese Communist Party cadre criticises Cultural Revolution for damage to tradition
Wang Yang applauds Taiwan for preserving aspects of the past in rare reference to party’s dark past
By Jun Mai

In Xiamen on Wednesday, Wang Yang (centre), chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, meets Taiwanese living in Fujian province. Photo: CNA 

The Communist Party’s top political adviser has openly derided the Cultural Revolution for damaging traditional Chinese culture, in a rare reference by a senior Chinese official to the dark chapter in the party’s history.

“The Cultural Revolution eliminated a large part of both the essence and the dregs of traditional culture on the mainland,” said Wang Yang, chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, China’s top political advisory body. “But Taiwan preserved it well.” Continue reading

US evacuates Guangzhou consulate

Posted by Anne Henochowicz  <annemh2@gmail.com>
Source: NPR (6/7/18)
U.S. Evacuates Multiple Employees From Chinese Consulate Over Mysterious Illness
By James Doubek

The U.S. Consulate building in Guangzhou in southern China pictured Thursday. More State Department employees have been evacuated. Kelvin Chan/AP

The U.S. State Department has sent “a number of individuals” from the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China, back to the U.S. after screenings showed they may have been affected by mysterious health problems similar to what diplomats experienced in Cuba.

Two weeks ago, the agency said one government employee in Guangzhou experienced “vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure,” similar to the unexplained incidents — sometimes described as “sonic attacks” — that recently sickened staffers in Cuba. Continue reading

Ban on Pakistani scholars at AAS-in-Asia

Posted by: Rebecca Karl <karl.rebecca22@gmail.com>
Source: The Wire (6/7/18)
Ban on Pak Scholars Against Open Exchange of Ideas: Asian Studies Conference Organisers
A political clearance letter from the MEA includes explicit instructions from the Indian government to not include any scholars from Pakistan at next month’s event.
By Devirupa Mitra

Ban on Pak Scholars Against Open Exchange of Ideas: Asian Studies Conference Organisers

An image from 1947 showing the partition of books from India and Pakistan, at the Calcutta National Library.

New Delhi: Next month, India will be playing host for Asian studies scholars from all over the world for a major conference. But, following explicit instructions from Indian government, Pakistani academics will not be allowed to participate.

The Association for Asian Studies is the premier international academic body of Asianists with around 10,000 members. Every year since 2014, it holds an annual AAS-in-ASIA conference for scholars who cannot attend the annual event in North America. The last four conferences were held in Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Continue reading

New appeals for Gui Minhai

Today June 6, is Sweden’s national day. On this occasion, 45 public figures from publishing, media, politics and culture, including myself, co-signed an appeal for the freedom of Gui Minhai, the Swedish citizen, publisher and poet detained by China since October 2015, for 2 and a half years now.

The appeal was simultaneously published in at least 37 media outlets, including major newspapers and the website of our national TV, and more.

For an English translation see: https://twitter.com/KongTsungGan/status/1004179576988131328; also see: “37 Swedish newspapers urge China to free detained publisher Gui Minhai.” HKFP/AFP, 6 June 2018, https://www.hongkongfp.com/2018/06/06/37-swedish-newspapers-urge-china-free-detained-publisher-gui-minhai/, and: “Swedish personalities demand release of Gui Minhai.” RTHK, 2018-06-05, http://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1400040-20180605.htm. Continue reading

Document reveals sweeping effort to censor political content

Source: Toronto Globe and Mail (6/3/18)
Unpublished Chinese censorship document reveals sweeping effort to eradicate online political content

Chinese authorities have tightened their grip on the country’s online broadcasting platforms, banning a long list of content – everything from tattoos to religious proselytizing, violations of “mainstream values,” flirtatious dancing, images of leaders and Western political critiques – as the government seeks to stamp out any venue that could be used for dissent or behaviour it considers obscene, according to an unpublished censorship directive obtained by The Globe and Mail.

The meteoric growth of online video services in China has offered a vibrant venue for creativity and, occasionally, obscenity and political protest – unleashing a daily riptide of user-made cat videos, pranks and glimpses of everyday life. Hundreds of millions of people in China watch short video clips and live-stream video every month. Continue reading

Tiananmen vigil in HK

Source: SCMP (6/4/18)
Tiananmen anniversary vigil in Hong Kong: event organiser Albert Ho gives eulogy declaring ‘ruthless regime will not last forever’
‘The wounds have not healed, the blood has not dried … and justice has not been upheld,’ says chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China
By Tony Cheung Kimmy Chung

All six soccer pitches at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay have been filled by attendees at the June 4 candlelight vigil. Photo: Winson Wong

Tens of thousands of people have gathered in Victoria Park in Hong Kong to mark the 29th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown with organisers of an annual candlelight vigil vowing not to stop calling for an end to one-party rule in mainland China.

The vigil is the only large-scale public gathering in China to remember the crackdown on June 4, 1989, that brought an abrupt end to a pro-democracy movement in the heart of Beijing. Many activists, including students and civilians, died. Though the death toll may never be known, hundreds, maybe more than 1,000, were killed.

While large crowds are still drawn to the event, attendance has dwindled in recent years. Organisers are estimating a turnout of 100,000 to 150,000 this time, despite a boycott by university student unions for the fourth year in a row. Follow the latest below: Continue reading

Taiwan plans Liu Xiaobo sculpture

Source: NYT (6/1/18)
Taiwan Plans Sculpture Honoring Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel-Winning Activist
By Chris Horton

Mourning the democracy advocate Liu Xiaobo in Taipei, Taiwan, last July.CreditTyrone Siu/Reuters

TAIPEI, Taiwan — In a move likely to anger Beijing, a sculpture commemorating Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner, will be unveiled in Taiwan’s capital in July to honor the democracy activist, who died last year in a Chinese prison.

The sculpture, to be unveiled on July 13, the anniversary of Mr. Liu’s death, will be placed near the Taipei 101 skyscraper, one of the most popular areas in the city for Chinese tourists to visit and take photographs.

“I have always felt great sadness because there is not a place where we can express our grieving for Liu Xiaobo,” Wu’er Kaixi, founder of Friends of Liu Xiaobo, a United States-registered nonprofit, said at a news conference at the Taipei City Council. The group has led the drive to erect the sculpture, and has received support from local lawmakers and funding from nongovernment organizations. Continue reading

Bust of Liu Xiaobo erected in HK

Source: SCMP (5/31/18)
Bust of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo erected outside Hong Kong’s Times Square in bid to build support for June 4 vigil
Support for annual event commemorating Tiananmen Square crackdown has been dwindling in the city in recent years amid a rise in anti-mainland sentiments
Peace Chiu

The bust of Liu Xiaobo is unveiled in Causeway Bay as pan-democrats collect signatures to call for the release of his wife. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

In a move to reawaken Hongkongers’ waning support for the upcoming 29th anniversary of the Tiananmen Crackdown, a group of activists erected a bust of the late Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese pro-democracy icon, at a shopping district popular among mainlanders on Thursday.

On June 4 every year since 1990, a candlelight vigil is held in the city’s Victoria Park to mark the anniversary of the bloody anti-government crackdown in 1989 in Beijing, which followed large-scale street protests and weeks-long sit-ins and hunger strikes in Tiananmen Square in a bid for greater freedom. Continue reading

China tries to erase Taiwan

Source: NYT (5/25/18)
China Tries to Erase Taiwan, One Ally (and Website) at a Time
By Steven Lee Myers and Chris Horton

The changing of the guard at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital. China’s recent efforts to isolate Taiwan, diplomatically and otherwise, have been its most intense in decades, people on the self-governing island say.CreditIsaac Lawrence for The New York Times

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Can China use its enormous economic and diplomatic leverage to simply erase Taiwan’s international identity?

China seems to be trying. But its increasingly aggressive posture toward Taiwan is creating a backlash here that is undermining Beijing’s ultimate goal: bringing the island’s 23 million residents under its authority.

China continues to peel away the dwindling number of allies that recognize Taiwan as an independent country — most recently, on Thursday, Burkina Faso. This week, it blocked Taiwan’s representatives — even its journalists — from participating, with observer status, in the World Health Organization’s annual assembly in Geneva. Continue reading

China shutters Utopia

Source: China Media Project (5/23/18)
China Shutters Top Leftist Website
By David Bandurski

China Shutters Top Leftist Website

One key characteristic of Xi Jinping’s “New Era” has been the progressive elimination of all forms of ideological variance within the Party. Growing centralization of Party power has come with a pronounced narrowing of the discourse spectrum. Everyone must converge at the center — or remain silent.

Now comes the news, not altogether surprising, that Utopia, the leftist website espousing that “our only firm belief is in Mao Zedong Thought,” could be shuttered indefinitely. Continue reading

Tibetan language erasure

Source: Sup China (5/22/18)
Tibetan language erasure
By Lucas Niewenhuis

In November 2015, the New York Times published a 10-minute video about Tashi Wangchuk, a Tibetan businessman, that followed him as he travelled to Beijing to advocate for the preservation of his ethnic language. In Tashi’s telling, the poor standards for Tibetan language instruction in his hometown of Yushu (Gyegu in Tibetan), Qinghai Province, and pushing of Mandarin language instead was tantamount to “a systematic slaughter of our culture.” The video opens with an excerpt of China’s constitution:

All nationalities have the freedom to use and develop their own spoken and written languages and to preserve or reform their own folkways and customs. Continue reading

China’s gulag for Muslims

Source: Sup China (5/17/18)
China’s gulag for Muslims
The evidence of a campaign to “re-educate” tens, or even hundreds of thousands, of Muslims in western China is building.
By Lucas Niewenhuis

Xinjiang Province has come to be known as one of the most heavily policed regions of the world, especially since Chen Quanguo 陈全国 was transferred from Tibet in 2016 to apply his hardline securitization strategy to the restive Muslim-majority region. Increasingly, it was suspected based on anecdotal reports that massive detention facilities were being used to hold Muslims targeted for their religious practices — but the government has repeatedly denied the existence of reeducation camps.

This week, a few more rare eyewitness reports have been published on the situation:

  • Five sources, including two who were willing to use their full real names, told the Associated Press’s Gerry Shih that the indoctrination camps are real, and they aim for nothing less than the near-complete replacement of detainees’ Muslim beliefs with full devotion to the Communist Party.
  • Crimes that could land you in detention, Shih reports, include “viewing a foreign website, taking phone calls from relatives abroad, praying regularly or growing a beard.”
  • Punishment for these crimes included solitary confinement, food deprivation, being chained up by wrists and ankles, and — especially — forced self-criticism and repetition of slogans.
  • “You have to criticize yourself, denounce your thinking — your own ethnic group,” said Omir Bekali, a Kazakhstan citizen who had lived in China previously, then visited Xinjiang and was “detained for eight months last year without recourse.”
  • “In four-hour sessions, instructors lectured about the dangers of Islam and drilled internees with quizzes that they had to answer correctly or be sent to stand near a wall for hours on end,” Bekali and other detainees reported.
  • The camps require chanting of “Thank the Party! Thank the Motherland! Thank President Xi!” before meals, and repeated chanting of “We will oppose extremism, we will oppose separatism, we will oppose terrorism” during study sessions.
  • Imagine this kind of required Party slogan repetition and self-criticism sessions applied to all of China, not just Muslims in Xinjiang, and you have a core part of theCultural Revolution.
  • This corroborates earlier reporting done by Shih; check out this Sinica Podcast episode for a discussion of his time in Xinjiang and links to his previous reports.
  • Omir Bekali and Kayrat Samarkand, both Kazakh Muslims detained and released in the last year, gave their accounts to both Gerry Shih and Simon Denyer at the Washington Post.

Continue reading

Building the Party’s Internet

Source: China Media Project (5/11/18)
by David Bandurski

Building the Party’s Internet

In a ceremony in Beijing earlier this week, the director of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), Xu Lin (徐麟), presided over the inauguration of the China Federation of Internet Societies (CFIS), a broad internet industry grouping whose stated purpose is to “promote the development of Party organizations in the industry.” The federation’s establishment is a clear sign of the growing involvement of the Chinese Communist Party in private internet firms, and further reflection of the broader trend of closer Party governance and scrutiny of all forms of media.

Prominent industry leaders, including Tencent chairman Pony Ma, Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma and Baidu chairman Robin Li, have been appointed as vice presidents of the new federation. Continue reading

China blocks earthquake memorial service (1)

One can compare what Charlene Makley wrote about the statist ‘spectacle of compassion’ and how Tibetan buddhists’ contributions were curtailed and obscured after the earthquake:

Charlene Makley (2014). “Spectacular Compassion: ‘Natural’ Disasters And National Mourning In China’s Tibet.” Critical Asian Studies, 46:3, 371-404, DOI: 10.1080/14672715.2014.935132

Magnus Fiskesjö <nf42@cornell.edu>

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