HK Protests Spread to US Colleges (1)

In response to the NYT’s piece “HK Protests Spread to US Colleges,” a list member suggests that it might useful to remind mainland students who seek to suppress the freedom of expression of Hong Kongers of the rights enshrined in the PRC constitution.

CONSTITUTION OF THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA 中华人民共和国宪法:

CHAPTER II. Fundamental Rights & Duties of Citizens (第二章 公民的基本权利和义务)

Article 33. Citizenship (第三十三条)

All persons holding the nationality of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are citizens of the PRC.
凡具有中华人民共和国国籍的人都是中华人民共和国公民。

All citizens of the People’s Republic of China are equal before the law.
中华人民共和国公民在法律面前一律平等。 Continue reading

China sharpens hacking to hound its minorities

Source: NYT (10/22/19)
China Sharpens Hacking to Hound Its Minorities, Far and Wide
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
By Nicole Perlroth, Kate Conger, Paul Mozur

Uighur teenagers on their phones in Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang region. Chinese hackers have secretly monitored the cellphones of Uighurs and Tibetans around the globe. Credit: Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO — China’s state-sponsored hackers have drastically changed how they operate over the last three years, substituting selectivity for what had been a scattershot approach to their targets and showing a new determination by Beijing to push its surveillance state beyond its borders.

The government has poured considerable resources into the change, which is part of a reorganization of the national People’s Liberation Army that President Xi Jinping initiated in 2016, security researchers and intelligence officials said.

China’s hackers have since built up a new arsenal of techniques, such as elaborate hacks of iPhone and Android software, pushing them beyond email attacks and the other, more basic tactics that they had previously employed. Continue reading

Testimony from a Xinjiang reeducation camp (1)

On the enforced confessions in the camps: I think of it as an “identity conversion therapy”: Detainees are forced to reject their ethnic and cultural identity and stop speaking their native language, on pain of extra punishment. They are forced to find fault in themselves, and reject themselves, including especially their personal everyday faith, by way of interpreting the “faults” (= doing things like eating halal food) as would-be extremism. The procedure could be called “anti-religious,” rather than religious – but then detainees are also forced to endlessly chant Xi Jinping’s words, which also could be seen as a kind of religious worship.

It is of course the Chinese regime that is extremist here. As regards the violence, I think there is a spiral of violence involved, begetting more and more violence and cruelty. There is nothing blocking violence from festering and escalating, when the leader’s permit it, encourage it, and, cover it up. I wrote about this aspect here: http://theasiadialogue.com/2018/10/24/the-xinjiang-camps-as-a-stanford-prison-experiment/ Continue reading

China detains 2 Americans (1)

It’s a good article – Still, I feel it’s strange that the NYT makes no mention of our Swedish citizen Gui Minhai, the Hong Kong bookseller and publisher abducted by China – even though the date of the article, Oct. 17, marks exactly 4 years, or 1,461 days, since the Chinese regime kidnapped Gui from his home, on Oct 17, 2015.

We have no news of him after they last paraded our fellow citizen on their TV, last year. Instead, the Chinese authorities just continue to detain him extra-legally – refusing consular visits, even though under international agreements they are obligated to allow our side to visit our citizen.

At the same time the Chinese “ambassador” in Stockholm continues his ultra-nasty campaign attacking anyone in Sweden and any Swedish media that defends Gui Minhai, or criticizes China in any way. Continue reading

China detains 2 Americans

Source: NYT (10/17/19)
China Detains 2 Americans Amid Growing Scrutiny of Foreigners
Two Americans who ran an English-language teaching company are being held on charges of organizing illegal border crossings, a Chinese government spokesman said.
By Amy Qin

BEIJING — The authorities in southern China have detained two Americans who led an Idaho-based English-language teaching company, the latest sign of the Chinese government’s growing scrutiny of foreigners working and traveling in the country.

The two Americans, Jacob Harlan and Alyssa Petersen, were detained late last month and are being held in Zhenjiang, a town in Jiangsu Province, according to GoFundMe pages set up by friends and relatives.

Mr. Harlan, a father of five, is the owner of China Horizons, a company he founded in 2004 that arranges for Americans to teach English in China, according to the company’s website. Ms. Petersen, who has lived in China periodically for the past eight years, is the director of the company, according to a GoFundMe page set up to raise money for her legal fees. Continue reading

Testimony from a Xinjiang reeducation camp

Ha-Aretz has published a remarkable testimony from an ethnic-Kazakh woman who claims to have escaped from a re-education camp and has found asylum in Sweden.

https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/.premium.MAGAZINE-a-million-people-are-jailed-at-china-s-gulags-i-escaped-here-s-what-goes-on-inside-1.7994216

The article, by David Stavrou, includes extended quotations from Professor Fiskesjö, and alludes to accounts published elsewhere that paint a consistent picture.

Some nuances may have been obscured by serial translation.For example, she says that inmates were frequently required to write out confessions of their “sins.” The word “sins” suggests that standard CCP self-criticism was given a religious tinge — but by whom? The guards (adapting their message to the culture of their victims) or the prisoners (interpreting the requirement in terms of their religious experience)?

Concerning the atrocities (especially the widespread rapes), I have to wonder where the dividing line runs between high-level policies of cultural extermination and a low-level lack of discipline among the police.

The article also describes an employment contract with Chinese characteristics:

She was told she had been brought there in order to teach Chinese and was immediately made to sign a document that set forth her duties and the camp’s rules.  “I was very much afraid to sign,” Sauytbay recalls. “It said there that if I did not fulfill my task, or if I did not obey the rules, I would get the death penalty. The document stated that it was forbidden to speak with the prisoners, forbidden to laugh, forbidden to cry and forbidden to answer questions from anyone.

A. E. Clark <aec@raggedbanner.com>

The Myth of Political Brainwashing (3)

The Ryan Mitchell paper is very nostalgic, very bilateral, and rather ivory tower. Xinao, yes. Heard about it, read about it before. Interesting. But this article sounds like a kind of old-school liberal scholarship that has long existed in the West in the Cold War. And in Hong Kong. Removed from the reality of places where there is no academic freedom. Could he have written this in Taiwan nowadays, without someone telling him how it was under Chiang Kaishek? Scientific doesn’t mean nice and neutral, never did. Science wasn’t something better before the Cold War. Not at all. Remember race. Most science on race. Or Scientific Communism. A somewhat discredited term in Central and Eastern Europe. Some still use it, of course. Nothing wrong with Marx. Something tedious about ivory towers. Re-centering, oh god. In love with his idea of China or the East through the ages. Is he still writing in Hong Kong now? Sorry, I know this is very rambling, not very polite and so on. Has anyone looked when the word brain-washing came up in other languages? In Russian, for example. Did Orwell know it? It’s a classical modern scholarship thing to bring up a word, a term, a phenomenon, to declare it Western, Euro-centric, then de-construct it with non-Western facts. In China it works the other way around, ever since the times of the reformers around Liang Qichao Mitchell mentions, and earlier. Marx was very close to the political reality of his time. He wanted that very much. I suspect Mitchell doesn’t. I understand the impulse. But reality has overtaken Hong Kong, hasn’t it?

Peace,

Martin Winter <dujuan99@gmail.com>

Hong Kong’s sinkhole

Source: Verso Books (10/11/19
Hong Kong’s Sinkhole
By Pang Laikwan
The protests in Hong Kong continue to escalate. Yet, the Western left has struggled to come to terms with the situation – torn between the contradictory desire to support the movement and the mainly liberal democratic demands of the protestors themselves. In this article, Pang Laikwan analyses the nature and stakes of the movement.

Lead_720_405-1-

I am often asked how Xi Jinping compares to Mao Zedong, and whether another cultural revolution is approaching. To this, my responses are always consistent: Xi might want to model himself on Mao for his leadership skills and charisma, and they might share a common will to power; but from the perspective of political philosophy the two Chinese leaders are polar opposites. The former Party chief truly believed in revolution, while the current one seems to be interested only in protecting the status quo. Mao was an exceptional Chinese leader, willing China into chaos with an, ultimately unrealistic, hope that only a radical social upheaval could save the Chinese people from feudalism and capitalism. Xi however understands and appeals to the deep Confucian and pragmatic psychology of the Chinese people with the promise of perpetual order and wealth. Under Xi’s leadership, there is no chance of a repeat of the 1966 Cultural Revolution in China. Yet what is possible is a new political movement, one that could happen at any time and taking a completely different form to wreak havoc once more. Continue reading

One country, no arguments

Source: NYT (10/11/19)
China’s Political Correctness: One Country, No Arguments
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
The Communist Party has spent decades preparing the people to defend a united homeland. Hong Kong’s protests show it has paid off.
By Li Yuan

A military parade honoring the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China was held in Beijing in October.CreditCreditWu Hong/EPA, via Shutterstock

Hong Kong’s protests have disrupted Yang Yang’s family life. Though the 29-year-old lives in mainland China, he was inspired by the demonstrations to write a song about freedom and upload it to the internet. When censors deleted it, he complained to his family.

They weren’t sympathetic. “How can you support Hong Kong separatists?” they asked. “How can you be anti-China?” His mother threatened to disown him. Before Mr. Yang left on a trip to Japan in August, his father said he hoped his son would die there.

Hong Kong’s protests have inflamed tensions in the semiautonomous Chinese city, but passions in the mainland have been just as heated — and, seemingly, almost exclusively against the demonstrators. Continue reading

The Political Myth of ‘Brainwashing’ (1)

It’s eerie to have this article, which argues brainwashing is a pointless Cold War term only bounded about for political purposes and with no analytical purchase either on the past or on today, with no reference at all to the recent waves of forced-confession spectacles which are the results of months of “brainwashing” (exchange with another word if you don’t like it), surely the polar opposite of “individuals’ active attempts to re-examine their own ideas,” — whether or not that was an original sense of this word xinao, as the article says it was.

Worse, if you don’t like the term “brainwashing,” then what will you call the violent conversion therapy currently practiced on hundreds of thousands of concentration camp detainees in Xinjiang?

Even if Mitchell is right that “the term is used frequently by ideologues of all stripes to define the opinions of those whom they disagree with as the result of external mind control rather than an independent thought process,” how is it remotely possible to even write on this topic without touching on the massive campaign forcing people at gunpoint, in the Xinjiang camps, to regurgitate CCP dogma and then denounce themselves and deny their identity day out and day in — as copiously documented by numerous witnesses — surely a full-throated contemporary revival of Maoist CCP torture-brainwashing? Continue reading

The Political Myth of ‘Brainwashing’

Source: Made in China (10/8/19)
China and the Political Myth of ‘Brainwashing’
By Ryan Mitchell

‘Investigative Study of Brain Essence’, article and diagrams in the Zhixin Bao, 1897. Source: 全国报刊索引 database.

‘Brainwashing’ is a ubiquitous word, a basic part of the vocabulary in various languages around the world. In fact, the allegation is used so frequently in modern discourse that we might be puzzled as to how political arguments ever got by without its striking, pejorative imagery. It is de rigueur to describe those with different viewpoints as incapable of independent thought—instead, for example, Mainland Chinese citizens must have been ‘brainwashed’ into fervent nationalism, or, alternatively, Hong Kong protesters must have been ‘brainwashed’ by Western media or governments. Though it was the English word that became globalised from the middle of the twentieth century, writers on the topic have long claimed, with varying degrees of certainty, that it was in turn a calque of a preexisting Chinese term: xinao (洗脑), literally ‘to wash the brain’. Continue reading

Media attacks on Apple, NBA inflame nationalism

Source: NYT (10/9/19)
Chinese Media’s Attacks on Apple and N.B.A. Help Inflame Nationalism
Outlets are trying to intimidate multinational companies into toeing the party line while Beijing tries to rein in the Hong Kong protests.
By Javier C. Hernández

An Apple store in Hong Kong. The company has previously shown a willingness to block apps in China. Credit: Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

BEIJING — The editorial was scathing.

People’s Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, was taking aim at Apple, accusing it of serving as an “escort” for “rioters” in Hong Kong by providing an app that allows protesters to track police movements.

“Letting poisonous software have its way is a betrayal of the Chinese people’s feelings,” warned the article, which appeared this week and was written under a pseudonym, “Calming the Waves.”

As China seeks to contain pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong, state-run news outlets are increasingly lashing out at foreign companies, accusing them of enabling the protest movement. Continue reading

South Park creators offer fake apology

Source: NYT (10/8/19)
‘South Park’ Creators Offer Fake Apology After Show Is Erased in China
“Like the N.B.A., we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts,” the show’s creators said in a tongue-in-cheek response. “We too love money more than freedom and democracy.”
By Daniel Victor

Last week’s episode of “South Park,” titled “Band in China,” mocked Chinese censors and American businesses that bend over backwards to appease them. Credit: Comedy Central

HONG KONG — “South Park,” the long-running Comedy Central cartoon whose mockery has spared few touchy topics, was erased from major platforms in China after an episode last week taunted Chinese censors and the far-reaching effect they often have on American entertainment.

The government’s censors, who routinely quash news and commentary deemed undesirable by the ruling Communist Party, wiped out video clips and discussions of the show, which premiered in 1997 and has lasted 23 seasons. Once known mostly for the raunchy humor coming from the mouths of its elementary-school-age main characters, the show has in recent seasons focused on political and cultural satire, without abandoning its boundary-pushing ways. Continue reading

China censorship problem creeps into geek culture

Source: The Geekiary (10/8/19)
The China Censorship Problem Creeps Into Geek Culture
By Angel Wilson

The China censorship issue isn’t new – it’s been creeping into geek culture topics for quite a while – but the recent Hong Kong protests have made their reach much more noticeable.

China Censorship Blitzchung

The most recent example of China’s censorship in geek circles comes from the Esports community.  Hong Kong based Hearthstone player Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai was banned from a Blizzard tournament after making pro Hong Kong protest statements in an interview.  He has now been suspended for one year from participating in Hearthstone tournaments and was forced to give up his Grandmaster prize money as a result of his comments. Blizzard states his comments violated Section 6.1 of the tournament’s rules, which prevents players from making statements that “offends a portion or group of the public.” Continue reading