Fudan’s storm in Budapest

Source: China Media Project (7/13/21)
Fudan’s Storm in Budapest
As plans by Shanghai’s Fudan University for a new international campus in Budapest’s ninth district meet staunch local opposition, with fears the project is a Trojan horse, it is unclear what lessons the university’s efforts in Hungary will have for the global future of Chinese higher education.
By Fulop Zsofia

Among the 23 sub-districts of Budapest, the ninth district, Ferencváros, has been called a “rustbelt” – a former industrial area now in decline that is awaiting revitalization. But for me, a resident here, Ferencváros is a vibrant place. Not far from the center of Budapest, it edges up to the Danube. The central area has beautiful old buildings, museums, universities, and one of Budapest’s largest and oldest markets. The place teems with young people, bars and a rich nightlife. The residential area on the outside of the district is equally rich in character, and the building I live in, named for the Hungarian poet Attila József, is green and flowery, drawing together a tapestry of young parents, pets and older retired people.

If you open up Google Maps and scan across the ninth district, you will notice certain changes: several streets here have suddenly had their names changed. On June 2, four streets along the Danube in the ninth district underwent sudden name changes. You can now find “Dalai Lama Road,” “Uyghur Martyrs Road,” “Liberate Hong Kong Road” (a reference to the slogan used during the 2019 protests in Hong Kong) and “Bishop Xie Shiguang Road” (referring to a bishop of the underground Roman Catholic Church in China who died in 2005). Continue reading

Chinese sports machine

Source: NYT (7/29/21)
The Chinese Sports Machine’s Single Goal: The Most Golds, at Any Cost
China relies on a system that puts tens of thousands of children in government-run training schools. Many of the young athletes are funneled into less prominent sports that Beijing hopes to dominate.
By Hannah Beech

Hou Zhihui of China won weight lifting gold in the women’s 49-kilogram division in Tokyo and shattered three Olympic records, part of a fearsome Chinese squad that aimed to sweep every weight class it was contesting.

Hou Zhihui of China won weight lifting gold in the women’s 49-kilogram division in Tokyo and shattered three Olympic records, part of a fearsome Chinese squad that aimed to sweep every weight class it was contesting. Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

TOKYO — Six days a week since she was 12 years old, with only a few days of time away each year, Hou Zhihui has been driven by one mission: heaving more than double her body weight into the air.

On Saturday, at the Tokyo Olympics, Hou’s dedication — sequestered from her family, dogged by near constant pain — paid off. She won gold in the 49-kilogram division and shattered three Olympic records, part of a fearsome Chinese women’s weight lifting squad that aimed to sweep every weight class it was contesting.

“The Chinese weight lifting team is very cohesive, and the support from the entire team is very good,” Hou, 24, said after winning gold. “The only thing we athletes think about is focusing on training.”

China’s sports assembly line is designed for one purpose: churning out gold medals for the glory of the nation. Silver and bronze barely count. By fielding 413 athletes in Tokyo, its largest ever delegation, China aims to land at the top of the gold medal count — even if the Chinese public is increasingly wary of the sacrifices made by individual athletes.

“We must resolutely ensure we are first in gold medals,” Gou Zhongwen, the head of the Chinese Olympic Committee, said on the eve of the Tokyo Olympics. Continue reading

Nobelists decry China’s censorship attempts

Source: Science (7/27/21)
Nobelists decry Chinese government’s censorship attempts at the Nobel Summit
By Rodrigo Pérez Ortega

The Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., wanted to prevent Nobel laureate Yuan Lee, a Taiwanese chemist seen here in 2003, from speaking at a high-profile conference. RICKY CHUNG/SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST VIA GETTY IMAGES

More than 100 Nobel laureates have signed a statement expressing outrage after the Chinese government intended to “bully the scientific community” earlier this year with attempts to censor two Nobel laureates during the Nobel Prize Summit, organized by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the Nobel Foundation in April.

The statement alleges that staffers at the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C., phoned NAS officials in March, and again in early April before the summit, to insist that two scheduled speakers, the Dalai Lama and Yuan Lee—a Taiwanese chemist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1986 for his work on chemical kinetics—be disinvited and not allowed to speak. An email with the same demand was received by NAS on 25 April, 1 day before the start of the summit. On all three occasions, NAS said no.

William Kearney, a NAS spokesperson, confirmed to Science that the Chinese embassy pressured NAS to remove both speakers from the agenda, “which of course, we did not do,” he says. Continue reading

Recuing China’s muzzled past

Source: NYT (7/25/21)
Rescuing China’s Muzzled Past, One Footnote at a Time
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
In a two-volume tome, the independent historian Yu Ruxin explains the crucial role of the military in Mao’s stormy Cultural Revolution.
By Chris Buckely

The historian Yu Ruxin, in Hong Kong in May. His book, “Through the Storm,” sheds new light on the central role of the military during the Cultural Revolution. Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

For decades, Yu Ruxin, a businessman turned independent historian, scoured used book stalls across China for frayed, yellowing documents about the Cultural Revolution, a decade of mass political upheaval unleashed by Mao Zedong.

The fruit of his long quest was published in Hong Kong this month, a 1,354-page history that sheds new light on the central role of the military during the Cultural Revolution. The People’s Liberation Army is widely known to have been called in to impose order, but Mr. Yu also documents in meticulous detail how the military was also involved in purges and political persecution.

“Through the Storm,” a two-volume Chinese-language book buttressed with 2,421 footnotes, stands out all the more these days, when the Chinese authorities are determined to erase the darkest chapters of the party’s history.

China’s leader, Xi Jinping, this month celebrated 100 years since the founding of the country’s Communist Party. The centenary has skipped over the political upheavals and mass suffering that characterized the party’s earlier decades in power. Continue reading

Seeking China’s new narratives

Source: China Media Project (7/16/21)
Seeking China’s New Narratives
The views put forth by a range of Chinese scholars at a recent discussion forum in Beijing hosted by the Center on China and Globalization offer a glimpse into strategic discussions of public diplomacy and propaganda in the country’s think-tank sector.
By David Bandurski

Wang Guiyao, the founder of the Center for China and Globalization, appears at the Munich Security Conference in 2019. Image Press / MSC available under CC license at Wikimedia Commons.

Earlier this week, the Center for China and Globalization (全球化智库), which has advertised itself as a “leading non-governmental think-tank in China,” held an event in Beijing to discuss “new narratives on China” (中国新叙事), and to launch a new book on external communication called I Talk About China to the World (我向世界说中国). A summary of the event released by CCG through its official WeChat public account provides an interesting glimpse into discussions in China’s think-tank sector on what Xi Jinping has called “telling China’s story well.”

The Center for China and Globalization, often referred to as “CCG,” was founded in Beijing in 2008 by Wang Huiyao (王辉耀), an economist and State Council advisor who is currently the organization’s president, and Mabel Miao (苗绿), the current vice-president and secretary-general. They are the authors of the new CCG book, which deals with the question of “how to create new narrative methods and models” (如何打造新的叙事方式和模式) for China. Continue reading

Latest target of HK crackdown: children’s books

Source: NYT (7/22/21)
The Latest Target of Hong Kong’s Crackdown: Children’s Books
A story that portrayed the police as wolves helped lead to the arrests of five leaders of a speech therapists’ union.
By Austin Ramzy and Tiffany May

A hooded suspect led by a police officer during the arrests of five leaders of a speech therapists’ union in Hong Kong on Thursday. Credit…Vincent Yu/Associated Press

HONG KONG — The fluffy white sheep were constantly harassed by wolves, who tore down their houses, ate their food and even sprayed poison gas. It became too much, and 12 sheep who had tried to defend their village were forced to flee by boat. But they were captured and sent to prison.

That story was told in a children’s book published last year in Hong Kong. The sheep represented 12 activists arrested at sea while trying to escape to Taiwan. The wolves were the Hong Kong police.

On Thursday, the police arrested five leaders of the group behind the book, a speech therapists’ union, accusing them of instilling hatred of the government in children.

With the arrests, the authorities expanded, to the most elementary level of printed materials, a crackdown on political speech aimed at stamping out the dissent expressed during mass protests in 2019. Continue reading

What China scholars can do about Xinjiang crisis

Source: University of Westminster Contemporary China Blog (7/21/21)
What China Studies Scholars Can Do about the Xinjiang Crisis
By Guldana Salimjan

In 2019, at a dinner conversation with several established China scholars, I mentioned that it is dangerous for me to return to China and do further research because of the dire situation in Xinjiang. A professor from China was puzzled, ‘Why is that? I go back to my field site every year!’ I sighed but quickly explained to her, ‘Because right now the government has campaigns targeting Turkic Muslim people, and I am from one of these communities.’ She still expressed disbelief and continued, ‘But you are not Uyghur—they are outrageous.’ I was utterly shocked this time and my mind went blank. A friend and colleague overheard us and intervened, which prompted the professor to defend her remarks: ‘normal Chinese people’ think that Uyghurs ‘are outrageous,’ she added. She offered the excuse that because she conducted fieldwork in eastern China and predominantly Han areas, her knowledge of Xinjiang was based on the ideas of people there. This, she thought, justified her bigoted pronouncements that Uyghurs ‘are outrageous’ and not ‘normal Chinese people.’ In the end, she deferred by saying that she was actually not very informed about Xinjiang and was simply quoting her interlocutors’ opinions. Continue reading

HK film Revolution of Our Times

Source: SCMP (7/16/21)
Hong Kong director has sold rights to protest documentary screened at Cannes, but says he won’t leave city in spite of risks
Hong Kong director Kiwi Chow says he does not want to be ruled by fear of the Beijing-imposed security law. His film, Revolution of Our Times, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday after being kept secret until the last minute.

Filmmaker Kiwi Chow says he will not leave Hong Kong in spite of security law risks after his film was screened at Cannes. Photo: Reuters

Filmmaker Kiwi Chow says he will not leave Hong Kong in spite of security law risks after his film was screened at Cannes. Photo: Reuters

The Hong Kong director of a protest documentary screened at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday has sold the copyright of the film to protect himself from legal repercussions, but has decided to stay in the city, saying he does not want to be ruled by fear of the national security law.

Kiwi Chow Kwun-wai, an award-winning local director, surprised the Hong Kong film industry on Friday by having Revolution of Our Times, a 2½-hour documentary about the city’s anti-government protests in 2019, featured at the internationally renowned cinema showcase in France.

But Chow, 42, told the Post he no longer legally owned the film after handing it off to a distributor in Europe, noting he had also taken the step of deleting all the footage in his possession.

“I sold my copyright too,” he said. “You can say it’s a kind of risk assessment. In Hong Kong, I did not do any distribution of the film and I don’t have any clips with me.” Continue reading

Ketamine and the return of the party-state

Source: Palladium (6/23/21)
Ketamine and the Return of the Party-State

Yiran Ding/Shanghai

The riot cops marched in and arranged themselves around the dance floor in a well-practiced formation. As they approached me and my friends, I could feel my pulse quicken. The police came to a halt within spitting distance, taking in the entire scene. I knew they had a clear view of the mounds of ketamine on the table in front of me.

It wasn’t mine, I swear. But I didn’t want to have to explain that while sitting in a tiger chair at a Public Security Bureau detention center. Fortunately, it never came to that: they glanced around and then walked out. The man across the table from me went back to work dividing lines with his Agricultural Bank of China debit card. The six-fingered Uzbek dancer got back up on the bar and undressed to a Eurobeat remix of a Mongolian folk song. Faces bent to the table.

I saw this scene replayed across China many times in the early 2000s, from provincial capitals to backwater towns. The nightlife ran on ketamine. If it wasn’t being openly displayed on club tables beside the fruit platters and bottle service jugs of Qoo and Red Label, then it was cut into neat lines and stashed in an ashtray. It appeared in Qzone photo albums, staged beside pink straws and stacks of red hundred-yuan notes. Continue reading

The Han Supremacy

Source: Time Magazine (7/12/21)
The Han supremacy
Beijing’s Ominous Campaign to Define What It Means to Be Chinese

PHOTOGRAPH BY KHADIJA FARAH FOR TIME: Gulzira Auelkhan, a survivor of the notorious “re-education centers” in Xinjiang, China

IN JULY 2017, GULZIRA AUELKHAN’S father fell ill. So she made the short hop from her village in the windswept Kazakhstan countryside into her native China to care for him. Upon arrival in the western province of Xinjiang, however, she was arrested, for no given reason. No charges were ever brought, but she spent the next 15 months being ferried between five different prison camps with barbed wire and watchtowers, during which she was interrogated 19 times and tortured with electric batons. Her interrogators had no clear explanation for her detention. “Once they asked me, ‘Do you have a TV in Kazakhstan?’” says Auelkhan, 42. “‘In which case your ideology has been corrupted.’”

Auelkhan, an ethnic Kazakh Muslim who grew up speaking a Turkic dialect, was forced to learn Mandarin Chinese, salute the Chinese flag and sing songs exulting the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) beneath photos of President Xi Jinping. “We all had to eat pork, and I was forced to burn a Koran and a prayer mat,” she says. “There was to be no more praying.” Afterward, she was sent to a labor camp for two months, where she sewed gloves until she says her neck ached and her eyes turned bloodshot. Continue reading

How China bought Cambridge

Source: The Spectator (7/10/21)
How China bought Cambridge
Ian Williams

One of the first places Professor Stephen Toope visited as Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University was the Chinese embassy in London. He posed for photographs with ambassador Liu Xiaoming and the two men discussed furthering the ‘golden era’ of China-UK relations. Shortly after that 2017 meeting, Toope told Xinhua, China’s state news agency: ‘There will be more opportunities to engage actively with China, a country with an extraordinarily growing influence which a university like Cambridge must pay attention to.’

Fast forward three and a half years and the shine has come off the ‘golden era’. But word has been slow to reach Cambridge, where Professor Toope continues his headlong pursuit of Chinese money. China is adept at directing funding towards areas of research which it sees as strategically important and it has targeted a range of British institutions. Few have allowed themselves to be so comprehensively compromised as Cambridge.

The university has begun work on a new home for the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership. It is retrofitting the city’s old telephone exchange at 1 Regent Street, turning it into the ultimate low-energybuilding at a cost of £12.8 million. The building is called Entopia (a play on ‘energy’ and ‘utopia’), a name coined by Lei Zhang, a Chinese billionaire, whose opaque Shanghai-based renewable energy company, Envision, is providing just under half the funds. Continue reading

Rahile Dawut ‘secretly jailed’

Renowned anthropologist and folklorist Rahile Dawut “secretly jailed” in China

Rahile Dawut was abducted by the Chinese authorities three years ago while on her way to a conference in Beijing. Since then, no trace. Now, in the last few days it’s been indirectly confirmed that she has been secretly jailed in China — for the details see further below.

Now let’s demand, with an ever stronger voice, that Rahile Dawut be immediately released, along with all the many thousands of other disappeared scholars and intellectuals and other camp detainees, as well as a halt to the entire Chinese state program destroying them and their peoples’ cultures.

Support Rahile Dawut’s daughter in exile, Akida Pulat, in fighting for her mom. Continue reading

China’s bitter youths embrace Mao

Source: NYT (7/8/21)
‘Who Are Our Enemies?’ China’s Bitter Youths Embrace Mao.
The chairman’s call for struggle and violence against capitalists is winning over a new audience of young people frustrated with long work hours and dwindling opportunities.
By Li Yuan

Credit…Xinmei Liu

They read him in libraries and on subways. They organized online book clubs devoted to his works. They uploaded hours of audio and video, spreading the gospel of his revolutionary thinking.

Chairman Mao is making a comeback among China’s Generation Z. The Communist Party’s supreme leader, whose decades of nonstop political campaigns cost millions of lives, is inspiring and comforting disaffected people born long after his death in 1976. To them, Mao Zedong is a hero who speaks to their despair as struggling nobodies.

In a modern China grappling with widening social inequality, Mao’s words provide justification for the anger many young people feel toward a business class they see as exploitative. They want to follow in his footsteps and change Chinese society — and some have even talked about violence against the capitalist class if necessary.

The Mao fad lays bare the paradoxical reality facing the party, which celebrated the centenary of its founding last week. Under President Xi Jinping, the party has made itself central to nearly every aspect of Chinese life. It claims credit for the economic progress the country has made and tells the Chinese people to be grateful. Continue reading

The man behind China’s aggressive new voice

Source: NYT (7/7/21)
The Man Behind China’s Aggressive New Voice
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
How one bureaucrat, armed with just a Twitter account, remade Beijing’s diplomacy for a nationalistic era.
By Alex W. Palmer

Credit…Illustration by Olivier Bonhomme

On the morning of Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, the Australian prime minister Scott Morrison was working from his official residence when an aide alerted him to a tweet by a Chinese foreign-ministry spokesman. Morrison was about to finish a two-week quarantine after returning from a brief diplomatic visit to Japan, and he had spent most of the morning on the phone with Australian wine exporters, discussing Chinese tariffs that had just taken effect — some as high as 212 percent — the latest in an escalating string of punitive economic measures imposed on Australia by Beijing.

But the tweet, posted by a diplomat named Zhao Lijian, represented a different kind of aggression. “Shocked by murder of Afghan civilians & prisoners by Australian soldiers,” he wrote. “We strongly condemn such acts, & call for holding them accountable.” Attached was a digital illustration of an Australian soldier restraining an Afghan child with a large Australian flag while preparing to slit the boy’s throat. “Don’t be afraid,” the caption read, “we are coming to bring you peace!” When the tweet appeared online that morning, there were audible gasps in Australia’s Parliament House.

Earlier that month, the inspector general of the Australian Defense Force had released the results of a four-year investigation into alleged war crimes committed by elite Australian troops in Afghanistan. The investigation, which described a systemic culture of brutality and lawlessness, implicated 25 soldiers in the unlawful killing of 39 civilians and prisoners, with most of the incidents taking place in 2012. The report dominated news headlines for weeks and sparked a torturous national reckoning in Australia. To then see the country’s most grievous sins — already documented by its own government — weaponized in a sarcastic tweet from a foreign official was an almost incomprehensible insult. “I don’t think you could imagine a communication that could’ve been more perfectly shaped to be inflammatory in Australia, and so perfectly insensitive,” a former senior Australian government official said. Continue reading

More on “lying flat”

Be sure to watch the video of Zhang Xinmin singing “Lying Flat is the Kingly Way” at the end of the article–Kirk

Source: NYT (7/3/21)
These Chinese Millennials Are ‘Chilling,’ and Beijing Isn’t Happy
Young people in China have set off a nascent counterculture movement that involves lying down and doing as little as possible.
By Elsie Chen

Luo Huazhong, who popularized the idea of adopting a more relaxed approach to life, taking a break in Jiande, China. Credit…Qilai Shen for The New York Times

Five years ago, Luo Huazhong discovered that he enjoyed doing nothing. He quit his job as a factory worker in China, biked 1,300 miles from Sichuan Province to Tibet and decided he could get by on odd jobs and $60 a month from his savings. He called his new lifestyle “lying flat.”

“I have been chilling,” Mr. Luo, 31, wrote in a blog post in April, describing his way of life. “I don’t feel like there’s anything wrong.”

He titled his post “Lying Flat Is Justice,” attaching a photo of himself lying on his bed in a dark room with the curtains drawn. Before long, the post was being celebrated by Chinese millennials as an anti-consumerist manifesto. “Lying flat” went viral and has since become a broader statement about Chinese society.

A generation ago, the route to success in China was to work hard, get married and have children. The country’s authoritarianism was seen as a fair trade-off as millions were lifted out of poverty. But with employees working longer hours and housing prices rising faster than incomes, many young Chinese fear they will be the first generation not to do better than their parents. Continue reading