WHEN DETAINED in China, political prisoners often disappear for months at a time. Sometimes, they reappear after lengthy interrogation, having made a coerced “confession” that is then televised. Others are less fortunate, reduced to just an announcement that they were convicted without access to family or lawyers. Still others are tortured and denied medical care and die without ever resurfacing.
Given this reality, the case of Tashpolat Teyip is particularly murky and worrisome.
Mr. Teyip is an ethnic Uighur professor of geography. From 2010 until 2017, he was president of Xinjiang University, the leading institution of higher learning in the Xinjiang region in northwest China, home to millions of Turkic Muslim ethnic Uighurs. In the past two-and-a-half years, China has been carrying out a drive to corral 1 million or more Uighurs and others into the equivalent of concentration camps in order to wipe out their traditional language, traditions and mind-set in favor of that of the majority Han Chinese. China at first denied their existence, and now describes the camps as small and benign — “retraining centers” is one favored phrase. Continue reading →
Excellent update report here, on the human rights catastrophe in Xinjiang, China, including on the “single ‘state-race’” racist-nationalist and Han-supremacist ideology that is driving the Chinese government in perpetrating these atrocities. –Magnus Fiskesjö <email@example.com>
When Gulruy Asqar first heard that her nephew Ekram Yarmuhemmed had been taken away by the Chinese police, she feared it was her fault. It was 2016, and she had recently moved to the US from Xinjiang, the region in north-west China that is the traditional homeland of her people, the Turkic-speaking Uighurs.
Her nephew’s family had loaned her about $10,000 towards the move, and Asqar had just transferred the money back to Yarmuhemmed when police came to his home in the regional capital of Urümqi and detained him. “I felt so guilty and I cried . . . I thought I was the reason for it,” Asqar told the FT by telephone from her home in Virginia. Continue reading →
Chen Hongguo lecturing on King Lear at Zhiwuzhi, an arts and culture space in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, China, 2018. Sim Chi Yin/Magnum Photos
At night, a spotlight illuminates four huge characters on the front of the Great Temple of Promoting Goodness in Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi province in northwestern China: mi zang zong feng, “The Esoteric Repository of the Faith’s Traditions.” Twelve centuries ago, during China’s Tang dynasty, the temple was a center for spreading foreign ideas. Buddhist missionaries from India lived there, translating texts from Sanskrit into Chinese and advising emperors on their faith’s new ideas about life and society.
Today the temple is a tourist site. During the day visitors snap selfies and pray for good fortune; in the evening, it is dark except for the spot-lit characters. Across the street, though, the third-floor windows of a nondescript commercial building burn brightly, lighting up a sign with five English words: “I Know I Know Nothing.”
In Chinese, this Socratic paradox is rendered as Zhiwuzhi, which is the official name of what has become China’s liveliest public forum. An arts and culture space, Zhiwuzhi offers at least one lecture a day and a dozen reading groups, and it broadcasts its events on Chinese and foreign video websites like Youku and YouTube. Continue reading →
Source: Sixth Tone (0/2/19) Chinese ‘Deepfake’ App Censured Over Privacy Concerns Netizens demanded that the Zao face-swapping app be removed from app stores after noticing that it had reserved the right to sell user-generated content to third parties.
By Tang Fanxi
A promotional photo for the Zao “deepfake” app. IC)
A newly released face-swapping app has come under fire for a clause in its terms and conditions allowing it to sell users’ photos and videos, Sixth Tone’s sister publication, The Paper, reported Sunday.
Zao — meaning “make,” “build,” or “fabricate” in Mandarin — turns users into “stars” by digitally grafting their faces onto the bodies of celebrities in scenes from movies, TV shows, and music videos to create what is known as a “deepfake,” a technological portmanteau combining “deep learning” and “fake.”
After downloading the app, users are asked to upload photos of themselves that can be used to make a face-flipped clip of their choice. Each video takes less than 10 seconds to generate, with enhanced quality if users agree to let their cellphone’s camera film their face from various angles, and while blinking their eyes or opening their mouths. Continue reading →
Chinese counter-protesters wave the flag of the People’s Republic of China as members of the U.S. Hong Kong community protest against what they say is police brutality during the ongoing Hong Kong protests, in Santa Monica, California, August 17, 2019. Mark Ralston—AFP/Getty Images
Are mainland Chinese, especially tech-savvy millennials, overwhelmingly hostile, unsympathetic, or indifferent towards the protests that have engulfed Hong Kong over the past three months? Both the Chinese government and the international media seem to think so.
They flood the Internet with messages calling protesters in Hong Kong “useless youth.” They send obscene messages and death threats to supporters of the Hong Kong demonstrations. They gather in Australia telling Hong Kong protesters to “get the fuck out of” Hong Kong because all of China is theirs.
Video footage of rallies outside mainland China shows groups of young mainlanders hurling profanities at supporters of the Hong Kong protesters. In one clip, Hong Kong sympathizers in Australia chant, in English, “Hong Kong stay strong,” and mainland Chinese students shouting in Mandarin respond, “Fuck your mother.” Continue reading →
Hong Kong’s harbor. The attachment many Hong Kongers once felt with the mainland is fading. Credit: Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times
HONG KONG — As a young student learning classical Chinese, I stopped off in Hong Kong nearly 40 years ago to catch a slow train up to Beijing, then still known as Peking. At the station, I bought a Chinese-language magazine of politics, culture and ideas that I was advised to hide when I crossed the border out of what was then still a British colony into China.
With only a rudimentary grasp of modern Chinese, I spent much of my three-day journey north trying to decipher the Hong Kong magazine’s articles that were wrestling with China’s past political convulsions under Mao, its present challenges and future possibilities. It was my first taste of what was then the city’s raucous and passionate debate about China. Continue reading →
Source: Sixth Tone (8/21/19) Guideline Clamps Down on ‘Xiaonao’ at Chinese Schools The country’s top education, judicial, and law enforcement officials have identified seven behaviors of aggrieved parents seeking compensation that will now be prohibited on school property.
By Cai Xuejiao
Parents wait for their children to get out of class at a school in Dongyang, Zhejiang province, Aug. 13, 2013. IC)
Chinese authorities issued a guideline Tuesday aiming to crack down on acts they say cause illegal disturbances at schools.
The guideline — jointly issued by five national agencies, including the Ministry of Education, the Supreme People’s Court, and the Ministry of Public Security — lists seven forms of xiaonao, or violence against school staff, that sometimes surface when there are safety issues or accidents on campus. The rules appear to be directed at aggrieved parents who feel they or their child has suffered an injustice, and so take their case to campus in an effort to gain visibility and increase their chances of receiving favorable compensation.
“Because of xiaonao, schools are overburdened with responsibilities and pressures, with some even refraining from holding physical education classes, offering extracurricular activities, or being critical of students,” Deng Chuanhuai, director of the Ministry of Education’s policy and regulation division, said during a press conference Tuesday. “This is not conducive to students’ development of the concept of rule of law, or to their awareness of rules more generally.” Continue reading →
Enjoying the waters at the beach in Beidaihe, China, in August. Credit: Giulia Marchi for The New York Times
BEIDAIHE, China — Most summers, the founder of Communist China, Mao Zedong, made big and fateful decisions at a funky stretch of beach a few hundred miles east of the nation’s sweltering capital. He swam in weather fair or foul. He sat cross-legged in the sand, dressed only in black trunks, his portly belly exposed for all to see.
His successors have not been such fearless swimmers, nor such show-offs.
But they still like to come each August to Beidaihe, a mix of shabby coastal resort with high-end villas behind tall fences.
In keeping with the hierarchical character of Chinese socialism, the top officials never rub shoulders with the public. Three distinct categories of visitors exist side by side, separated by earpiece-wearing security forces — and walls. Continue reading →
Nyo, 17, back home in Shan State in Myanmar, after being trafficked by brokers who sold her and her friend to men across the border in China. Credit: Minzayar Oo for The New York Times
MONGYAI, Myanmar — She did not know where she was. She did not speak the language. She was 16 years old.
The man said he was her husband — at least that’s what the translation app indicated — and he pressed himself against her. Nyo, a girl from a mountain village in the Shan hills of Myanmar, wasn’t quite sure how pregnancy worked. But it happened.
The baby, 9 days old and downy, looks undeniably Chinese. “Like her father,” Nyo said. “The same lips.” Continue reading →
I am writing to announce the debut of my book, Environmental Activism, Social Media, and Protest in China: Becoming Activists Over Wild Public Networks. The manuscript takes a close look at environmental protests and the ways in which activists deploy social media to organize outrage and demand change in China, an authoritarian country affected by censorship, surveillance, and state-controlled media. Specifically, I examine anti-PX protests in Xiamen in 2007, Dalian in 2011, and Maoming in 2014.
Blending media, social movement, affect, and network theories, I propose the concept of wild public networks, which supplant the Habermasian public sphere with a dynamic understanding of contemporary argument in a densely panmediated environment awash with images, video, gifs, and creative inventions meant to sidestep censors. I also introduce and advance the concept of force majeure as a way of understanding protests and the various and multiple repercussions they have over time and across space outside of their instrumental success or failure.
Environmental Activism, Social Media, and Protest in China: Becoming Activists Over Wild Public Networks is available through Lexington Books and those that use the discount code LEX30AUTH19 can receive 30% off the list price.
Below you can find the editorial: Under Construction: Visions of Chinese Infrastructure
We shall sing the great masses shaken with work, pleasure, or rebellion: we shall sing the multicolored and polyphonic tidal waves of revolution in the modern metropolis; shall sing the vibrating nocturnal fervor of factories and shipyards burning under violent electrical moons; bloated railroad stations that devour smoking serpents; factories hanging from the sky by the twisting threads of spiraling smoke; bridges like gigantic gymnasts who span rivers, flashing at the sun with the gleam of a knife; adventurous steamships that scent the horizon, locomotives with their swollen chest, pawing the tracks like massive steel horses bridled with pipes, and the oscillating flight of airplanes, whose propeller flaps at the wind like a flag and seems to applaud like a delirious crowd.’ Continue reading →
Beginning with the earliest international exhibition at London’s “Crystal Palace” in 1851, “world’s fairs” became a prominent stage for the presentation of peoples and cultures of Asia to a world audience. With its rich, vibrant and diverse histories and cultures, Asia as represented at these universal expositions provided many fairgoers with their first encounter with Asia and helped shape their understanding of the world. Taking place during a time of widespread colonialism, the notion of the world presented at these fairs had many complex layers of meaning. In many cases, indigenous arts and crafts were selected and showcased by their colonial administrators. Yet, many Asian countries chose to actively confront the asymmetry of power in their relationship to the West by presenting in these exhibitions their own image of their country and culture. These expositions served as a grand stage that displayed a complex history of conflicts, contradictions, and engagement of Asia with the world. Continue reading →
Zhang Wenmin in Chengdu, China, in January. Once a widely read investigative journalist, she now has to live mostly off her savings. Credit: Giulia Marchi for The New York Times
BEIJING — She was once one of China’s most feared journalists, roaming the country uncovering stories about police brutality, wrongful convictions and environmental disasters. But these days, Zhang Wenmin struggles to be heard.
The police intimidate Ms. Zhang’s sources. The authorities shut down her social media accounts. Unable to find news outlets that will publish her work, she lives largely off her savings.
“The space for free speech has become so limited,” Ms. Zhang, 45, said. “It’s now dangerous to say you are an independent journalist.” Continue reading →
The BBC’s John Sudworth meets Uighur parents in Turkey who say their children are missing in China
China is deliberately separating Muslim children from their families, faith and language in its far western region of Xinjiang, according to new research.
At the same time as hundreds of thousands of adults are being detained in giant camps, a rapid, large-scale campaign to build boarding schools is under way.
Based on publicly available documents, and backed up by dozens of interviews with family members overseas, the BBC has gathered some of the most comprehensive evidence to date about what is happening to children in the region.
Records show that in one township alone more than 400 children have lost not just one but both parents to some form of internment, either in the camps or in prison. Continue reading →
The singer Denise Ho outside the Legislative Council building in Hong Kong last month. She has been blacklisted in China since throwing her celebrity behind Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement five years ago.CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times
HONG KONG — As Hong Kong’s protests evolve into a struggle against the grip of authoritarian China, one of the city’s biggest pop stars has emerged as an icon of defiance. She has spoken at rallies, handed out voter registration forms at marches and stood on the front lines with demonstrators, urging the riot police not to charge.
Denise Ho, a Cantopop singer, is just one of many high-profile figures in the decentralized protest movement, but among Hong Kong’s celebrities, she is a rare breed. Ms. Ho threw her stardom behind the city’s pro-democracy movement five years ago and has since been paying the price — being barred in the lucrative mainland Chinese market. Continue reading →