Quiet burials

Source: NYT (4/3/20)
China Pushes for Quiet Burials as Coronavirus Death Toll Is Questioned
Officials are ​trying to curb expressions of grief and control the narrative​ amid doubts about the official number of deaths in China.
By Amy Qin and 

Workers in protective suits screened visitors to the Biandanshan Cemetery in Wuhan on Tuesday. Credit…Hector Retamal/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Liu Pei’en held the small wooden box that contained his father’s remains. Only two months ago, he had helplessly clutched his father’s frail hand as the elderly man took his last breath, and the pain was still raw. He wept.

But there was little time, or space, for Mr. Liu to grieve. He said officials in the central Chinese city of Wuhan had insisted on accompanying him to the funeral home and were waiting anxiously nearby. Later, they followed him to the cemetery where they watched him bury his father, he said. Mr. Liu saw one of his minders taking photos of the funeral, which was over in 20 minutes.

“My father devoted his whole life to serving the country and the party,” Mr. Liu, 44, who works in finance, said by phone. “Only to be surveilled after his death.” Continue reading

US intelligence concludes China misrepresented coronavirus deaths (2)

I wonder if Tung-yi Kho has been reading the news. For the last several months, mainstream American newspaper, blogs, and journals have appropriately heaped criticism on the coronavirus response in the US, singling out Donald Trump and his gutting of expertise at every level of government (as well as his nepotism, most recently putting his unqualified son-in-law Jared Kushner in charge of virus response—Kushner’s first appearance has been widely criticized), the severely lacking health insurance system, the radical right’s rejection of scientific knowledge and their ability to influence the president, the failure to stockpile protective gear for hospitals and medical workers, the inability to test—which makes it very likely that the number of infected people are in fact much greater than those verified—and the overall incompetence and inability to take organized and concerted action. Every day I read twenty or so articles along these lines, in common publications such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and even the Wall Street Journal. They also come up on my google news feed with great regularity, and there I can see that even minor venues are publishing similar critiques. Articles on the coronavirus and the failures of the US government in addressing it are available free of charge at most major publications. In other words, no one is in the least distracted from the dire American response. Continue reading

Crows and Sparrows

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Christopher Rea’s translation of the script Crows and Sparrows (烏鴉與麻雀), the 1949 film directed by Zheng Junli 鄭君里. The translation includes many stills and an embedded version of the film that includes Rea’s subtitles. The translation’s can be read at:

Our thanks to Christopher Rea for sharing his work with the MCLC community.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Concerns grow over disappeared whistleblower

Posted by: Magnus Fiskesjo <>
Source: Radio Free Asia (3/30/20)
Concerns Grow Over Wuhan Doctor Amid Call For Return to Work

The front page of China's People magazine featuring Ai Fen (left, second from top), director of the Wuhan Central Hospital ER, as it initially appeared (L) and after it was deleted from its website and paper copies were removed from the shelves.

The front page of China’s People magazine featuring Ai Fen (left, second from top), director of the Wuhan Central Hospital ER, as it initially appeared (L) and after it was deleted from its website and paper copies were removed from the shelves.

Whistleblowing Wuhan doctor Ai Fen is currently incommunicado, believed detained after giving media interviews about her initial concerns over the coronavirus, according to an Australian media report.

“Just two weeks ago the head of Emergency at Wuhan Central Hospital went public, saying authorities had stopped her and her colleagues from warning the world,” flagship investigative show 60 Minutes Australia reported on Sunday.

“She has now disappeared, her whereabouts unknown,” the show reported, also tweeting photos of Ai. Continue reading

US intelligence concludes China misrepresented coronavirus deaths (1)

This is incredible and shameless and an attempt to distract from the fact that what’s happening now in the US represents a woeful failure of US intelligence, governance and public policy. It would be funny if the consequences weren’t so tragic.

The US administration had three whole months to prepare for what was to come, and did nothing. Now that the country has become the global epicenter of the pandemic, US intelligence accuses the Chinese government of falsifying numbers?

Charity, as they say, begins at home. Perhaps the discussion to be had (still) is why the US lacks public healthcare despite being the world’s wealthiest and most powerful nation since the end of WWII.

Tung-yi Kho <>

sources on spring festival couplets?

My name is Lesya, 爱丽丝 in Chinese. I live in Bologna, Italy where I’m finishing my studies. I’m attending graduate school, specializing in Far East Studies, so I’m also studying Chinese language and culture. The subject of my final thesis is , Spring Festival Couplets. My purpose is to give a deep analysis of the couplets from a social and anthropological point of view. I want to focus on the evolution of the couplets in an urban area, such as Beijing or Shanghai, then offer a comparison with a more rural area, such as Hakka regions of Fujian province. Unfortunately, I have had problems finding a lot of information about this subject in English. So I wonder if list members could suggest scholarly articles, books, or websites about Chinese Spring Festival, Chinese New Year Couplets, and other important celebrations that would be helpful for my work. Please contact me off-list at the email below.

Lesya Uhrak <>

US intelligence concludes China misrepresented coronavirus deaths

See also this report from Radio Free Asia cited in the article below:–Kirk

Source: Business Insider (4/1/20)
The US intelligence community has reportedly concluded that China intentionally misrepresented its coronavirus numbers
By Sonam Sheth and Isaac Scher

xi jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on November 2, 2018. Thomas Peter/Getty

  • The US intelligence community has determined that the Chinese government concealed the extent of its coronavirus outbreak and gave false statistics to other countries, Bloomberg News reported, citing three US officials.
  • Officials transmitted a classified report of their findings to the White House last week.
  • Bloomberg described its sources as saying that the report’s main conclusion was that China’s public reporting of coronavirus cases was “intentionally incomplete” and that its numbers were fake.
  • China was the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak until last week, when the US’s number of cases surpassed China’s.
  • US and other Western officials have repeatedly expressed skepticism about China’s numbers. Residents of Wuhan, where the outbreak originated, have also publicly doubted the government’s reporting.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The US intelligence community has determined that the Chinese government concealed the extent of its coronavirus outbreak and gave false numbers of cases and deaths in the country, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday, citing three US officials. Continue reading

Hard truths about China’s soft power

Source: The American Interest (3/30/20)
Hard Truths About China’s “Soft Power”
Is China’s brand of coercive “soft power” a contradiction in terms? A new edited volume helps cut through the morass.

Soft Power With Chinese Characteristics: China’s Campaign for Hearts and Minds
edited by Kingsley Edney, Stanley Rosen, and Ying Zhu
Routledge, 2020; 296 pages; priced from $155.00 (hardback) to $22.48 (six-month e-book rental)]

When opening Soft Power With Chinese Characteristics, a timely new volume that arrives amid a flood of COVID-19-fueled disinformation, it is important to notice the irony embedded in the title. The phrase “with Chinese characteristics” is used by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) whenever it borrows a Western idea or practice to utilize for its own purposes. For example, in the early 1980s, when Deng Xiaoping was introducing market forces into China’s dead-in-the-water planned economy, the new system was not described as “capitalism”—that term would have conceded far too much ground to the enemies of socialism. Rather it was dubbed “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

This touch of Newspeak did not bother Deng’s free-market champions in the West; they knew what Deng meant, and many a capitalist smiled knowingly at his motto: “It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white; if it catches mice, it’s a good cat.” But the phrase “with Chinese characteristics” is no longer so benign. For Deng, it was a way to camouflage the fact that he was moving the Chinese economy in the direction of capitalism. For today’s Communist rulers, by contrast, it is a way to camouflage policies that are profoundly anti-democratic. Continue reading

How China built a Twitter propaganda machine

Source: ProPublica (3/26/20)
How China Built a Twitter Propaganda Machine Then Let It Loose on Coronavirus
ProPublica analyzed thousands of fake and hijacked Twitter accounts to understand how covert Chinese propaganda spreads around the globe.
By Jeff Kao, ProPublica and Mia Shuang Li for ProPublica

Posts by Twitter accounts involved in an ongoing Chinese government influence campaign discovered by ProPublica. (Allen Tan/ProPublica)

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published.

Kalen Keegan, a college student at the University of Nebraska Omaha, immediately noticed when her Twitter account unleashed a torrent of posts in Chinese. “My other account got hacked👍🏽,” the soccer player posted on a replacement account. The new author tweeting as @Kalenkayyy had strong views on geopolitics — all aligned with the Chinese Communist Party. It was obsessed with the protests in Hong Kong, offered uncritical praise of the Hong Kong police and accused demonstrators of fomenting a “color revolution” backed by an “anti-Chinese American conspiracy.”

As the coronavirus outbreak led to a lockdown of Wuhan and its surrounding cities in late January, the Hong Kong posts were suddenly deleted. The account continued to post relentlessly in Chinese, but it now focused on the burgeoning epidemic. About a month later, her Twitter profile began to change in other ways. The reference to her college disappeared and her headshot was replaced by a generic photo of two people kissing. By the end of the week, her Twitter transformation was complete. @Kalenkayyy was now a Chinese propaganda-posting zombie account belonging to someone purportedly named Kalun Tang.

Her new tagline? “When women arm themselves with softness, they are the strongest.”

Later, the account deleted more of its tweets and unfollowed all of its former friends. It is currently temporarily restricted by Twitter for unusual activity. . . [click here to read the long article in full]

HK Cinema MOOC


Hello from Hong Kong! We’ve been thinking about teaching across distances and disciplines for some time now and in these challenging times we are keen to offer you material and a little morale boost.

To accommodate your needs, and expand your menu of online teaching and learning options, we are offering Hong Kong Cinema through a Global Lens, the first MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on Hong Kong cinema to be produced anywhere in the world, as a learner-paced course.  That means all six units open simultaneously on April 1, 2020.

Feel free to enjoy the entire course or pick and choose lessons to fit your own individual needs. Continue reading

Fail-safe system to track contagions failed

Source: NYT (3/29/20)
China Created a Fail-Safe System to Track Contagions. It Failed.
After SARS, Chinese health officials built an infectious disease reporting system to evade political meddling. But when the coronavirus emerged, so did fears of upsetting Beijing.
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
By Steven Lee Myers

Medical staff checking on a coronavirus patient at the Red Cross hospital in Wuhan, China, in early March. Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The alarm system was ready. Scarred by the SARS epidemic that erupted in 2002, China had created an infectious disease reporting system that officials said was world-class: fast, thorough and, just as important, immune from meddling.

Hospitals could input patients’ details into a computer and instantly notify government health authorities in Beijing, where officers are trained to spot and smother contagious outbreaks before they spread.

After doctors in Wuhan began treating clusters of patients stricken with a mysterious pneumonia in December, the reporting was supposed to have been automatic. Instead, hospitals deferred to local health officials who, over a political aversion to sharing bad news, withheld information about cases from the national reporting system — keeping Beijing in the dark and delaying the response. Continue reading

Academic freedom index

Fascinating new report on academic freedom globally ranks China down in the worst bottom level. Also, rebuts the idea that some Chinese universities rank high globally. No, they should be downgraded sharply.

See: Free Universities: Putting the Academic Freedom Index Into Action. By Katrin Kinzelbach, Ilyas Saliba, Janika Spannagel, and Robert Quinn. Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi), 26 Mar 2020. PDF HERE.

The “dataset was developed collaboratively by experts at the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi), the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), the Scholars at Risk Network, and the V‑Dem Institute. The data is publicly available, and V‑Dem provides an online tool that can be used to analyze any of the indicators.”

BTW, one surprise (for me at least) was that Thailand counts in the bottom level, alongside China. Woa. That bad now.

Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Being 21 during the Coronavirus

Source: China Channel, LARB (3/21/20)
Being Twenty-One During Coronavirus
Advice for students out of school, from Shi Tiesheng’s celebrated essay
By Nick Admussen

Shi Tiesheng (

Nick Admussen is an associate professor of Chinese Literature and Culture at Cornell University, where all classes were cancelled last Friday. He penned this letter, edited for publication, to his students before leaving his desk.

As cases of Covid-19 spread and we begin a period of social distancing, I want to give you my argument for continuing to do the two things university was designed for: to read and to write. Colleges often present themselves to students as a package excursion for youth: open quadrangles, energetic friends and lovers, deep conversation, light beer, live music, parties. It is that, and much more. Yet my colleagues and I didn’t become literature professors – we didn’t become literate – by going to class. We learned what we know in rooms that lacked conversation, friends, and open doors.

Today I’ve been rereading the Chinese writer Shi Tiesheng, a Beijing native who was assigned to rural labor during the Cultural Revolution, when at the age of 21 his spine was injured in an accident and he was rendered paraplegic. His 1991 essay ‘The Year of Being Twenty-One’, translated by Dave Haysom, records his struggles to come to terms with the new limits on his mobility and his future. In the essay, he watches carefully as the other patients in hospital respond to their own illnesses, and to the social and emotional sicknesses that constrain them. From his sickbed, Shi talks with a man with aphasia (“Bed Two”) who has lost all nouns. He remembers a seven-year old boy who fell off a truck and never walked again. And he tells of a pair of lovers pulled apart by an accident, and more. Their stories leap off the page, as if there is something bigger behind them, laboring to push its way through. Continue reading

Australian Yang Hengjun charged over espionage

Australian citizen Yang Hengjun charged with espionage. It’s the usual stomach-turning pattern: Chinese authorities disappearing you, faking some “legal” moves (as if China had courts, judges, etc. other than the Communist bosses who are behind this), and then only to hide it behind vague espionage accusations and secret trials — as they have done with so many others, incl. our Swedish citizen #GuiMinhai. No-one can believe them, esp. now, given what we know of their propaganda machinery’s attempts to cover up “secrets” like the Xinjiang camps, the virus in Wuhan, etc.–Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Source: ABC News (3/24/20)
Chinese Government moves to formally charge Australian Yang Hengjun over espionage allegations
By Echo Hui and Dylan Welch

Dr Yang in military uniform with the Australian flag and Chinese MSS symbol in the background.

The Chinese Government has moved to formally charge Australian citizen Yang Hengjun over an ill-defined espionage allegation more than a year after first detaining him, ABC can reveal.

Key points:

  • Dr Yang has been detained for more than 420 days over as yet unexplained allegations relating to espionage
  • Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne has previously said Dr Yang’s ongoing detention is “unacceptable”
  • Dr Yang is now almost certain to now face trial in China

The news brings to an end Australian attempts to have the writer and democracy activist returned to Australia before he is fully enmeshed in the byzantine workings of Beijing’s judicial system. Continue reading

Uyghur singer sentence to prison term

This is another ghastly chapter in the Chinese regime’s continuing assault against Uyghur culture — the destruction of cultural icons, as part of the destruction of their people as a whole, a 21st century genocide and a crime against humanity, affecting 12+ millions of people or more.–Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Source: Radio Free Asia (3/24/20)
Uyghur Singer Rashida Dawut Sentenced to Prison Term by Xinjiang Authorities

Rashida Dawut in an undated photo.

Rashida Dawut in an undated photo.RFA

A Uyghur singer celebrated for her love ballads has been sentenced to a lengthy prison term for “separatism” following a secret trial in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), according to multiple sources.

Rashida Dawut, a long-time member of the Xinjiang Muqam Troupe in the XUAR capital Urumqi who produced popular solo albums in the 1990s, was sentenced to 15 years in jail for “separatism” by the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court in late 2019, a source claiming to have close knowledge of the situation recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service. Continue reading

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