HK battles Beijing as dreams for culture soar

Source: Taipei Times (4/3/19)
Hong Kong battles Beijing as dreams for culture soar

Hong Kong artist Kacey Wong plays the accordion inside a red mobile prison artwork called The Patriot, a performance art project protesting against the National Anthem Law, at his studio in Hong Kong.Wong’s work is a protest in a city struggling to square its vast cultural ambitions with an increasingly assertive Beijing. Photo: AFP

At a sunny Hong Kong art studio Kacey Wong gazes out through the bars of a cage, painted communist red — his work a protest in a city struggling to square its vast cultural ambitions with an increasingly assertive Beijing.

Better known for its high-end commercial galleries — and glamorous fairs like last month’s Art Basel — Hong Kong is striving to turn itself into a cultural heavyweight through a spate of new multimillion-dollar public art spaces.

But local artists warn Beijing’s growing influence is creating a climate of fear that is stifling creativity and threatens the nascent grassroots art scene Hong Kong says it wants to enrich. Continue reading

Dissidents in Canada feel Beijing’s wrath

Source: NYT (4/1/19)
Chinese Dissidents Feel Heat of Beijing’s Wrath. Even in Canada.
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
She thought she would be safe in Toronto. Then she began speaking out against the Chinese government and became the victim of a lurid smear campaign.
By Catherine Porter

Sheng Xue at a rally last year for political prisoners in front of the Chinese Consulate in Toronto. Credit: Ian Willms for The New York Times

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario — Search for Sheng Xue on Google in English and you will find the story of an award-winning writer who left China for Canada after the Tiananmen Square uprising and became one of the world’s leading advocates for Chinese democracy.

But that same search in Chinese comes up with a very different portrait: Sheng Xue is a fraud, a thief, a traitor and a serial philanderer. Want proof? It offers up salacious photos, like one seeming to show her kissing a man who is not her husband.

As China extends its influence around the globe, it has mastered the art of soft power, establishing Confucius Institutes on Western college campuses and funding ports and power plants in developing countries. Continue reading

AAS statement on Xinjiang detentions (2)

“Concerned” — Really? It is certainly appropriate for AAS to have something to say about the deplorable situation in Xinjiang, but “concerned”? Surely there is more to be said about the mass detentions of people who make the Beijing authorities insecure in their governance. AAS is clearly aware of the persecution of academics in Xinjiang, but limiting its response to that alone as a matter of “concern” seems quite weak. Where is the powerful voice of Western intelligentsia?

Ron Janssen <>

Professor demoted over in-class comments

Source: RFA (3/29/19)
University in China’s Chongqing Demotes Professor Over Comments Made in Class

Tang Yun, a deputy professor at the Chongqing Normal University, in undated photo.

Tang Yun, a deputy professor at the Chongqing Normal University, in undated photo. Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.

A university in the southwestern city of Chongqing has barred another professor from the classroom as the ruling Chinese Communist Party wages ideological warfare on the country’s campuses.

Tang Yun, a 56-year-old deputy professor at the Chongqing Normal University, was stripped of his rank and teaching credentials after he made “comments injurious to the country’s reputation,” an official directive issued by the school said.

Tang, who penned the university’s anthem, was also accused of being “abad influence” on staff and students at the school. Continue reading

AAS statement on Xinjiang detentions (1)

The AAS statement on Xinjiang is an excellent statement, but in my view still does not go far enough.

We should decry the mass detentions, including how the Chinese state targets the cultural elite of the Uighurs, Kazakhs, etc., with mass arrests of academics, artists, poets, and so on. But, the wholesale targeting of ethnic culture and language, means that this is now much bigger than even the up to 2 million people locked away in the concentration camps system.

Millions more face a concerted forced-assimilation campaign of which the detentions is a part: They are forced to denounce and abandon their culture and adopt Chinese ways, break food taboos, go into forced marriages, to stop speaking their own language (as mentioned below), and many children are taken and sent to Chinese -only ‘orphanages’ while parents are in camps. The list goes on. Continue reading

J’accuse, Tsinghua

Source: China Heritage (3/27/19)
J’accuse, Tsinghua University!

On 21 March, the same day on which President Bacow of Harvard delivered a powerful lecture at Peking University in which he extolled the virtues of academic inquiry, independence of thought and the pursuit of excellence, ‘next door’ on the campus of Tsinghua University, Professor Xu Zhangrun 許章潤, a noted scholar of law with an international reputation, was formally notified that henceforth he was banned from all teaching activities. Xu was also told that, on Monday 25 March, the university would launch formal disciplinary action against him for his recent writings, some of which have been translated and published by China Heritage (for a list of these, see below). Xu was to be taken task for exemplifying the very qualities that President Bacow advocated when addressing his audience at Peking University.

On hearing of Xu’s suspension, the celebrated independent writer Zhang Yihe (章詒和, 1942-) published a short note in which she expressed outrage and demanded answers from Tsinghua University. In her comments Zhang listed eight major essays that Xu Zhangrun had published in recent years, unique in that they publicly question the country’s rulers and the political direction of the nation. Meanwhile, Geng Xiaonan 耿瀟男, a film critic and publisher, declared in an online post that Xu’s essays were:

直擊七寸, 劍指廟堂。
Blows directed at their Achille’s Heel;
A sword pointed at their Sacred Heart. Continue reading

‘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:

Or here:

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

Magnus Fiskesjö <>

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