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Signs of China (1)

China Change, September 16, 2018

 

Unsettling news from China has been emerging in a constant stream for some time now, in news, on social media and from our own sources in the country. Not every new development is suited to a fully fleshed-out analysis, and as with so much to do with China, many reports and developments cannot be immediately confirmed or properly evaluated. Nevertheless, while each individual brush stroke may not be decisive, upon stepping back a fuller picture begins to emerge. China Change today inaugurates a new, regular series titled ‘Signs of China,’ where we catalogue and contextualize what might otherwise have been forgotten as ephemera. What are these signs pointing to? Our discerning readers will know. — The Editors

 

Sign series 1, 卸磨杀驴

Kill the donkey once it’s finished pulling the stone mill (卸磨杀驴).

 

Urgent Call to Watch ‘Operation Thunder 2018’

According to a variety of sources brought to social media by netizens, Chinese authorities sent out an urgent notice on September 14 to work units, companies, government departments, universities and more, across the country, demanding people to watch the September 15 nightly Network News Broadcast (《新闻联播》) on CCTV, as well as CCTV’s September 15 and 16 “Focus Talk” (《焦点访谈》) programs, and also the detailed reports due to be published on September 16 on Global Times online, as well as its the September 17 print edition. This hurried propaganda scramble is called ‘Operation Thunder 2018’ (2018-雷霆行动), and is an anti-espionage operation focused on ‘exposing Taiwanese spies.’ As state media reports, it’s about “increasing the anti-traitor and spy-prevention consciousness of the entire population, preventing online phishing and other harms to national interests and security,” as well as “firming up… the national security People’s Line of Defense.” At the same time, a similar Weibo announcement by Yibin Cable Television in Sichuan Province was censored. (More links on the operation are available here.)

Those familiar with the workings of Chinese Communist Party propaganda will recognize that yet another mass terror campaign is likely in the offing. 

Is the Private Sector Still Safe? 

Recently, a certain Wu Xiaoping (吴小平), self-identified as a “senior finance figure,” published a mere five paragraph article that has attracted significant attention. In it, Wu writes that “private companies would be ill-advised to continue blindly expanding; a completely new state of public-private mixed economic control — more centralized, more united, at a larger scale — will become an increasingly important part of the economy in the future,” and also that “the private sector in China has already completed its task of assisting state sector economic development, and it should now gradually diminish in importance.” His article argues that “in a battle between superpowers, China must concentrate its financial, material, and human resources, and must follow a planned development strategy.”

As might be expected, the article caused an uproar. Some observers suspected that it represented a trial balloon by Party Central; others thought the author was a nobody attempting to guess at what the higher-ups in the regime would like to hear, and curry favor by making the suggestion; while still others thought he was communicating the coded message that private enterprise should try to save themselves while they still had the chance. The independent historian Zhang Lifan (章立凡), based in Beijing, posed the question on Twitter as to whether the authorities were going to “kill the donkey once it’s finished pulling the stone mill.” The original essay was subsequently refuted by the People’s Daily, and appears to have been purged from domestic Chinese websites.

Whatever the case, the CCP’s plans of asserting control over private companies are already well underway. According to economist He Qinglian’s (何清涟) analysis of a key set of ‘Guiding Opinions’ about state-owned enterprise reform promulgated in 2015, private enterprises in China are going to be the main target for SOE reform. She wrote that the Chinese authorities hope to roll out a ‘mixed ownership system,’ in which “private companies can make cash purchases of shares in SOEs and become shareholders. But since the equity allocation ratio is based on the state-owned capital being the controlling party, private companies can only remain in a subordinate role, without any decision-making power or right to a say in matters.”

On September 16, the Chairman of the National Laboratory for Finance & Development (中国国家金融与发展实验室) Li Yang (李扬), speaking at an academic forum commemorating the beginning of reform and opening up in China, pointed out that as the economy declines, private companies will come under enormous pressure. Their “way to save themselves is to find a state-owned company as an ‘umbrella,’ and if they don’t do that they can’t get financing, and they can’t lower their costs. If they do that, the enterprise will survive, profits will be there, and employment will be maintained. It’s an outcome that should leave everyone satisfied.” Li Yang thinks that such a scenario would be an opportunity for state companies to buy out their private enterprise counterparts.

Over the past few years the CCP has already been hard at work establishing Party cells in private companies in order to exert control. If anything, the outsize reaction this short article received is a telling indication of how anxious and insecure the Chinese public feels about this trend intensifying.

Xinjiang University Professors Sent to Concentration Camps

sign series 1, uighur professors

Left, Professor Arslan Abdulla; right, Professor Abdukerim Rahman.

News continues to emerge of Uighur academics in Xinjiang being sent to the re-education camps. Twitter user @Uyghurspeaker tweeted in both English and Chinese from a Radio Free Asia report that “Personnel from Xinjiang University’s Overall Management Command have verified that the dean of the humanities department, Professor Arslan Abdulla (the former director of the consultative office of the government of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region) as well as Professor Abdukerim Rahman have been sent to re-education camps ‘for the same reason’ that Rahile Dawut (a folklore scholar) was. Rumors say that at least 56 professors and teachers at the university have been taken away.”

Professor Duwat, the scholar of Uighur folklore at Xinjiang University, disappeared last December and has not been heard from since. No one knows why.

Apple Hurts the Feelings of the 1.4 Billion Chinese People

Apple held its new product launch in California on Wednesday (September 12), with Phil Schiller, senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, unveiling the new model of iPhones as well as when and where they’d first be sold. The background screen prepared for the event showed the individual flags of Hong Kong and Taiwan, and used the flag of the Republic of China for the latter.

Predictably, the China Youth League and Global Times immediately began expressing their displeasure, accusing Apple of having a double standard: “Apple, what are you trying to say here in your press event?” and “Given that you can put ‘United States’ before ‘Virgin Islands’ in order to differentiate it from the British Virgin Islands, why don’t you put ‘China’ before ‘Hong Kong’ and ‘Taiwan’?” Some Chinese netizens have called for a boycott of Apple phones and other products.

Following the public displays of contrition from Marriott and Mercedes Benz for similar grave insults, will Apple also apologize for hurting the feelings of the 1.4 billion Chinese people?

Uneasy Disappearance of a Popular Website

Letscorp.net, going by the Chinese name 墙外楼, which translates literally as ‘Over the Wall,’ is a popular Chinese news aggregation website, primarily focused on maintaining an archive of the news, posts, and commentaries that are censored inside China. The website uses RSS and mail subscriptions to propagate its content. Its Twitter handle, @letscorp, has been around for nearly eight years, and it boasts over 70,000 followers. Most of the time the Twitter handle has simply pushed out new content from the letscorp website automatically, but over the last year or so, the actual person behind the account has also become opinionated. He or she appears to be an astute observer of Chinese politics and society. Because of the website’s name (‘Over the Wall’), most everyone (including China Change editors) took it for granted that whoever runs the site lives outside of China.

Beginning on September 5, however, Chinese Twitter users noticed that the @letscorp account had stopped tweeting, that the website was down, and newsletters were no longer going out, and concerned users now feared that the website operator, likely based in China, had been identified by the authorities. “In the future, it will be more and more difficult to get valuable Chinese-language content even outside of China,” one Twitter user lamented.

We at China Change can’t help imagining the scene of that person being taken away, probably from his or her home, though we may never know, in the end, what has happened. Many Chinese Twitter accounts have similarly disappeared over the past few years. We recently subtitled and re-published a video of six police in Shenzhen forcing their way into the home of a young woman in the middle of the night simply for what she’d posted on social media.

Activist Barred From Traveling by Train

Ms. He Peirong, from Nanjing, is a Chinese activist who became very well-known during the Free Chen Guangcheng movement in 2012. Over the last few years she has been working on various public interest projects. On September 13 she tweeted out: “My liberty has been severely restricted; I can’t go out to buy train tickets, I can’t travel where I want in China. No department has officially notified me as to why I’ve been restricted and who is punishing me. I was preparing to travel to Shanghai yesterday, but only at the train station did I find out that I couldn’t purchase a ticket. I want to know which level of government made this decision. What is the legal basis for it?”

The ‘legal basis,’ it turned out, is likely China Railway’s May 1, 2018 policy of restricting the travel rights of individuals who have ‘seriously breached trust’ (《限制铁路旅客运输领域严重失信人购买车票管理办法》). It seems that Ms. He is now also marked as such an individual.

This and other incidents of the like are yet another indication of how the Chinese authorities appear to be planning to impose sweeping limitations on personal liberty as they deploy the national ‘social credit system.’

Cellphone Inspections in Hangzhou 

We made a mention of this elsewhere before but would like to draw your attention to it again: a Twitter user witnessed police in a Hangzhou subway station checking citizens’ cellphones. Similar incidents were reported in Beijing too. It looks like the Chinese government is conducting a trial of this practice in cities. The amended Police Law expected to pass during the Two Sessions in March 2019 will make such searches legal and therefore a common practice.

Date and time: August 23, 2018, 3:55 p.m.;

Location: Safety check at the entrance of the No. 1 Line subway at the Fengqi Road station, Hangzhou (杭州地铁1号线凤起路站); [the police were] checking the phone of every passenger waiting in line to enter the station;

Apparatus: They were using handheld scanning equipment;

The number of police: 6 to 7.

Crackdown on Christians

In Henan, the government has been conducting an intense crackdown on Christians, burning/removing crosses and dispersing congregations, forcing believers to sign pledges to quit the church, or closing down churches altogether (here, here, here, here). On September 9, the largest house church in Beijing, Beijing Zion Church, was shut down by the authorities who said it was not registered and “disrupted the order of civil organization management.”

Zion Church’s pastor, Jin Mingri (金明日), told Voice of America that religious repression has intensified since the 19th Party Congress. After the Congress (held in October 2017), the government has gone about strengthening both ideological and managerial control in all sectors of society. Then again after the ‘Two Meetings’ in Beijing in March of this year, there were further changes, in particular in religious policy.

Overall, the new policies indicate a shift from tolerating some non-official denominations of Christianity to heavily restricting them, as a greater number of religious populations are seen as ideological competitors to the Party, or even hostile forces.

Xu Zhiyong, in response to a video of burning cross, wrote on Twitter addressing the Party: “What wrong has Christianity done to you? You’ll suffer retribution for this! In this life, in this world, it will come to pass. On many occasions making a curse is the only weapon of the weak. If the curses are sufficient in number and people lose heart, the retribution will then arrive.”

10th National Assembly of Representatives of Overseas Chinese and Relatives is Held

A major convocation of overseas Chinese, overseas Chinese returnees and their families, was held in Beijing from August 29 to September 1. It must have been a significant event for all seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee to attend the opening ceremony. State media highlighted the fact that nearly 1,300 returnees from over 110 countries, as well as 700 (still) overseas Chinese, attended. Zhao Leji (赵乐际, China’s anti-corruption chief) made remarks that included this memorable exhortation for overseas Chinese: “Always remember [how] the Party and the People have entrusted you; spread good news about China; assist the development of the fatherland; safeguard the virtue of the Chinese people; promulgate Chinese culture; make new contributions to the realization of the China Dream of the Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese people and promote the construction of a Community of Shared Human Destiny.”

Observers should not think of statements like this as mere empty rhetoric — the Chinese government’s ability and readiness to organize, mobilize, and use overseas Chinese has reached an impressive level of scale and sophistication. For instance, following the CCP’s 19th Party Congress, the Chinese Embassy-controlled Chinese Student and Scholars Association (CSSA) at Harvard University, as well as a number of Hometown Associations on both coasts, organized discussion forums. In 2016, when the ethnically-Chinese police officer Peter Liang was being sentenced in New York City, the mass protest of Chinese and Chinese-Americans was suspected of having been at least in part mobilized by Communist Party agents, according to WeChat communications. And the Party’s Federation of Overseas Chinese, which operates on all levels of the government, regularly award membership in its “Overseas Chinese Committee” (海外委员会) to overseas Chinese who are in important positions in Western society, including many American university professors and scientists. China Change previously reported on the case of the Wellesley professor Charles Bu serving on one such commission.

Professor Xu Zhangrun, Author of Famous Lament, Forced to Return to China Early 

The author of the widely celebrated, lengthy reflection on the parlous state of affairs in contemporary Chinese political life published in July, Tsinghua University law professor Xu Zhangrun (许章润), was recently called back to China early from his visiting professorship in Japan. Rong Jian (荣剑), another Chinese scholar, saw Xu in Japan on September 7 and reported that Xu told him that “he was forced to go back on the 14th of the month.”

Xu’s essay, ‘Imminent Fears, Immediate Hopes,’ a portion of which was translated by China Change, and translated in its entirety by Geremie Barmé, was the subject of widespread public discussion in China and abroad, and was featured in a New York Times article for capturing the essence of concerns about China’s current political direction.

 

 


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At China Change, a few dedicated staff on a shoe string budget bring you information and produce videos about human rights, rule of law, and civil society in China. We want to help you understand aspects of China’s political landscape that are the most censored and least understood. We are a 501(c)(3) organization, and your contribution is tax-deductible. For offline donation, or donor receipt policy, check our “Become a Benefactor” page. Thank you.

 

Taiwan Out of the UN: Unfair to Taiwan and Harmful to Global Interests

Yang Jianli, September 22, 2017

 

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Taiwanese citizens are required to present ID documents issued by Beijing to enter UN buildings. Taiwanese passport is not recognized. 

 

Recently, the long detained Taiwanese citizen and human rights activist Lee Ming-che appeared in a bogus trial in Chinese courts and was forced to plead guilty to “subverting (Chinese) state power”. Outraged family members and Taiwanese supporters might want to come to the United Nations’ human rights mechanisms for help — but they can’t. This is because they, as citizens of Taiwan, are not represented at the world governing body. With pressure from China, even Taiwanese tourists are routinely excluded from visiting the UN Headquarters with Taiwanese passports. Egregious and ridiculous as such is the reality facing us today.

The only thing preventing Taiwan, a full democracy, from taking its rightful seat in the UN is China, and China’s aggressive posture on the international stage with respect to Taiwan. Allies of Taiwan such as the US and like-minded nations must stand up to China’s bullying and intimidation and advocate for Taiwan to rejoin the UN, or at a minimum as the first step, to ensure that Taiwan is able to participate in a meaningful way in UN-affiliated organizations and meetings. Succumbing to pressure from China to exclude Taiwan from UN-related organizations and activities is tantamount to abandoning the beacon of democracy, human rights, and rule of law in Asia, and to depriving the 23 million citizens of democratic Taiwan their fundamental rights to participate in, and receive protections from, the mechanisms of global governance.  This is as unfair to the people of Taiwan as it is harmful to the interests of the world.

Taiwan’s participation in UN mechanisms not only benefits Taiwan, but also the rest of the international community. Taiwan’s absence, from, for example, the World Health Organization, Interpol, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the International Civil Aviation Organization, creates critical gaps in addressing borderless issues, such as the spread of disease, cross-border crime, counterterrorism efforts and global security, climate change, and aviation safety.

  • For the first time since 2009, as a result of pressure from Beijing, Taiwan was not invited to attend the World Health Assembly, the decision making body of the WHO, which met in Geneva this past May. Beijing insisted that Taiwan publicly accept the “one China” principle as a condition for retaining its observer status.

The importance of Taiwan’s involvement in the WHO cannot be overstated. The SARS outbreak in 2003 is a clear example: WHO’s delays in getting Taiwan critical information and timely assistance (because it wasn’t a member of WHO and China said it would assist Taiwan, and didn’t) contributed to the deaths of over 30 Taiwanese citizens. As a leader in health care in Asia, and a global leader in several medical specialties, Taiwan also has much to contribute to the international community.

  • Also in May, the Chinese delegation to a UN-affiliated conference called the Kimberley Process, which seeks to control the trade in conflict or “blood” diamonds, caused such a raucous scene at the meeting in Australia protesting the presence of delegates from Taiwan that the Taiwanese delegation was eventually asked to leave, even though Taiwan had received a formal invitation.
  • Similarly, due to Chinese pressure, Taiwan continues to be excluded from Interpol, which hampers international efforts to fight cross-border crime and terrorism. In November 2016, Interpol rejected Taiwanese participation in its general assembly.
  • Taiwan unsuccessfully sought observer status with the International Civil Aviation Organization, a UN-affiliated organization. While the ICAO invited Taiwan to attend as an observer in 2013, an invitation from the organization to Taiwan was not forthcoming for its meeting in Montreal in September 2016.  Given Taiwan’s bustling airports, economy, and the growing number of tourists (many of whom are from China), the absence of Taiwan from a key air safety regulatory body poses serious concerns for aviation safety.

China’s relentless and increasingly aggressive tactics to exclude Taiwan from global regulatory bodies has only harmful consequences. Absolutely no benefit comes from Taiwan’s exclusion; China’s political machinations are cynical and detrimental to global interests.

And China’s conduct contravenes the spirit and purpose of the United Nations, which includes:  “to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples” and “to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all….” UN Charter, Article 1

Taiwan has consistently acted as a responsible member of the international community. To name just a few examples: it was one of the few countries to voluntarily announce targets for reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, and Taiwan voluntarily adopted the two key UN human rights treaties (the ICCPR and ICESCR), incorporated their provisions into Taiwan’s domestic law, and devised its own innovative review process, since it cannot participate in the review process of the UN human rights treaty bodies.

Taiwan has much to contribute to world order, and the UN should open its doors to the vibrant democracy of 23 million people. The world needs Taiwan’s involvement and contributions, and Taiwan’s rights and interests must be protected.

 

 

Yang Jianli is the president of Initiatives for China. Follow him on Twitter @yangjianli001

 

 


Also by Yang Jianli:

Remembering Liu Xiaobo — And What the U. S. Can Do, Yang Jianli, July 22, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

‘I have decided to travel to Beijing, find out what is going on, and rescue my husband’: A Statement by Wife of Taiwanese NGO Worker Lee Ming-che

March 31, 2017

Taiwanese pro-democracy activist Lee Ming-che disappeared on March 19 after clearing immigration in Macau. China has confirmed that Lee is being investigated on suspicion of ‘pursuing activity harmful to national security.’ This is an unauthorized translation of his wife’s statement. — The Editors

 

Lee Ming-che, wife's statementLee Ching-yu’s Press Release:

I’ve been a historian of Taiwan’s period of political violence, the “White Terror,” for many years. Now that my own my loved one is detained, terror grips my heart. I’ve tried so hard to calm myself, to carefully compose my thoughts. I know from the history of the White Terror in Taiwan that when a country’s system of rule of law hasn’t risen to international standards, all attempts to offer defenses according to the law are useless. We can only offer a defense of humanity and human rights — but the legal systems in such countries aren’t built upon universal conceptions of human rights.

It’s for this reason that I make this considered announcement: I am not going to hire a lawyer and thus engage in pointless legal wrangling.

All human rights workers, all those who bring hope to corners of the world that need human rights upheld, are innocent. It is precisely through the contributions of such individuals that human welfare and civilization grows.

My husband acted selflessly and with love for mankind, and I am full of confidence that everything he has done is worthy of the utmost respect.

I’ve decided to travel to Beijing, find out what is going on, and rescue my husband.

 

Lee Ming-che’s wife, Lee Ching-yu

March 31, 2017

 

 

 

Chinese Twitter Users Unsettled at Appointment of New Managing Director

By Yaxue Cao, April 17, 2016

This story has been updated. 

Twitter_@blogtd

This cartoon by @blogtd sums up Chinese Twitter users’ anxiety over Kathy Chen’s appointment.

 

On Thursday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced the new managing director of Twitter for the Greater China region. By Saturday the news had excited a fierce reaction among Twitter users in China.

It’s well known that Twitter, YouTube, Google and other major social media networks are banned in mainland China. While there aren’t many users of Twitter in the mainland (one estimate has it that there are roughly 10,000 active users), those who do use it are among the most ardent believers in internet freedom, and have a special love for Twitter. A large number are IT experts who migrated from Fanfou (a Chinese social media site) in 2009 and became almost religious users of Twitter; another large group are political dissidents. The former group can’t stand being stifled by the Great Firewall’s internet strictures, while the latter uses Twitter as a space where they can communicate to one another freely even as China continues to ratchet up internet controls. Twitter has thus become an enclave for a group of mainland Chinese users and a sanctuary of freedom of speech online. Over the last couple of years, Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily and Xinhua News Agency have also opened Twitter accounts, spreading Party propaganda to the world, apparently with no sense of shame that China’s government prevents its own citizens from using those social networks. And it should surprise no one that on Twitter they’re often the butt of jokes.

Twitter MD China_DEC

DEC’s Rainbow 100+ microcomputer. Photo: boston.com

It’s only natural that Chinese Twitter users were highly curious about Twitter’s new managing director for Greater China—and they were repelled instantly. According to Baike, China’s equivalent of Wikipedia controlled by Baidu, Kathy Chen (陈葵) graduated with a degree in computer science from Beijing Jiaotong University in 1987. She immediately joined the People’s Liberation Army’s Second Artillery—China’s strategic missile force—and became an engineer in its No. 1 Research Academy. There, according to another article, she worked “as a programmer on the top-secret missile protocol design.” After seven years in the Second Artillery, she returned to civilian life and in August of 1994 became head of sales at Digital Equipment Corporation in China. DEC is a Massachusetts-based specialty computer company founded in 1957, and one of the earliest of America’s computer firms. From June 1995 to May 1997 she was Compaq’s chief sales representative in Beijing, and from May 1997 to December 1999 was the China regional sales manager for 3Com.

Twitter_KathyChen

Kathy Chen via @TwitterGCN

For the next four years, until 2004, Chen was the CEO of a newly-founded software company called CA-Jinchen, which primarily supplies anti-virus software. The firm is a joint venture between Computer Associates International (now known as CA Technologies) and China’s Ministry of Public Security, the first US-China software joint venture. Leveraging the resources of China’s public security apparatus, CA-Jinchen’s products are used in finance, government, the military, enterprises, telecommunications, education, the energy sector, and many key network systems. Reviewing CA-Jinchen’s 10-year history in 2008, Chen’s successor said: “China Jinchen Security Technology Co., Ltd. joined with the second-largest global software firm Computer Associations in a strategic partnership, promoting anti-virus technology globally and bringing ‘Preemptible Kernel’ technology into China.” She also remarked that: “Public security, the military, and the government are the troika behind Jinchen.” In 2010, CA’s 80% holding in CA-Jinchen was bought out by two Chinese investment firms (the transaction might not be as willing on the part of CA as the Chinese media portrayed it to be), and Jinchen became a corporation solely-owned by China. “Research and development is focused on preventing information leaks, designing anti-spy and code-breaking software. The user base will remain the traditional market: large domestic enterprises, government, public security, and will include a renewed focus on our roots in the military-industrial sector.”

Are there any problems here? To begin with, Chen is without a doubt a Chinese Communist Party member, based on a common sense understanding of China. She has been through the most strict and exacting process of political examination, and has been found by the Party to be reliable—all this is certain. My sense is that Kathy Chen’s rapid shift from extremely secret and politically sensitive missile protocol design work, straight to an American software company, is very unusual: in China, even a regular member of the armed forces dealing with secret information isn’t allowed to make overseas visits as they wish, either while in the army or soon after leaving (I have some anecdotal evidence here and here). They may apply, but I understand that it’s difficult to gain approval. I think it’s a fair assertion that Kathy Chen’s transition from a programmer of top-secret missile protocol to DEC sales could only have happened with the approval of a Chinese government agency. And then there are the four years with CA-Jinchen, which raises questions about the depth of Chen’s involvement in China’s public security sector.

twitter hotelWhen she was the CEO of CA-Jinchen, Chen once used the term “3S” to describe the scope of the company’s work: “Security Solution” provides the user with a complete security program, including anti-virus, firewall, intrusion detection, defense, and weakness detection mechanisms, among others, for the host machine, internet traffic, and the internet peripheries; “Security Application” provides on-demand security programs for government, telecommunications, finance, energy, and enterprise firms; and “Security Service” enquires as to the needs of the client and provides a complete, customized security service, from spec to roll-out, as well as ongoing consultation.

The main products of CA-Jinchen included anti-virus, firewall, invasion test, email filtering, mainframe protection, and etc. Describing a product called “The First Fortress Under the Heaven (天下第一关) in a 2004 interview, she said it could kill virus, block spam, and “filter Falun Gong content, politically sensitive information, or other harmful information.” CA-Jinchen also provided products for university campus surveillance on online browsing activities and other “illegal information and emails (such as Falun Gong).”

In the same interview, she also acknowledged that CA-Jinchen was the host of China’s national computer virus collecting and sampling center under the aegis of the Ministry of Public Security.

In May, 2004, Chen Kui was awarded the China Information Security Special Contribution Award (中国信息安全保障突出贡献奖) by a consortium of state agencies overseeing China’s internet security.

Following CA-Jinchen, Chen served in a high-level capacity at Microsoft, Cisco and then Microsoft again. As Cisco’s general manager of the Eastern Region, her job “included market development, and building and developing relationship with government agencies, research and educational institutions, and enterprises. In particular, [she] dedicated to maintain good relationship with government departments and their direct affiliations, engaging in broad strategic cooperation on macro level.”  Cisco has long been criticized for selling advanced internet surveillance and control software to China, having allegedly helped the Party build its Firewall and Golden Shield to target dissidents, according to two legal complaints (both dismissed, one still under appeal). 

During the two years at Microsoft before she takes up the Twitter position, she was responsible, among other things, “for key initiatives for Microsoft Azure in China,” according to her LinkedIn page.

Tech media outside China reported the appointment briefly and matter-of-factly. Twitter said in a statement, “As a global platform, we are already engaged with advertisers, content providers and influencers across greater China to help them reach audiences around the world. Going forward, we will look to Kathy’s leadership to help us identify ways in which Twitter’s platform and technology assets can be utilized to create further value for enterprises, creators, influencers, partners and developers in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.”

The appointment of Kathy Chen was also widely reported in mainland China, even though Twitter is banned. Netease Tech reported that it learned from Twitter insiders that Kathy Chen has “three clear goals” as the Managing Director of Greater China: “the first is to tell the China story, introducing to the world the best of Chinese culture, tradition, history and tourism and making China better known to the world utilizing the Twitter platform; the second is to help large and medium-sized Chinese companies tell the story of their brands, building their names and marketing overseas; the third is to communicate and exchange in the areas of technology and advertisement with rapidly growing Chinese internet companies and mobile internet companies.”  

LoveTwitter @Zeove good night twitter

“Good night, Twitter” via @zeove

All this may sound innocuous to untrained ears, but it’s alarming to mainland Chinese Twitter users and seasoned China watchers: In February, Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping warned mouthpiece media CCTV and Xinhua that they must do a good job of “telling the China story.” CCTV responded with the notorious slogan: “The Party’s media bears the surname of the Party!” Getting Chinese companies to advertise on Twitter is obviously a revenue stream, but what does it mean to “communicate and exchange with Chinese internet companies and mobile internet companies in technology and advertisements?” It sounds unnerving to Chinese Twitter users.

While direct Twitter censorship is unlikely, the Chinese Twitter users are concerned that the hiring of Chen Kui could be the beginning of Twitter’s cooperation (it does not have to be overt) with the Public Security apparatus and mobile companies in China that will make use of Twitter more difficult for independent users, but at the same time, open up Twitter to government-owned accounts, to government-hired propaganda workers known as fifty-centers, and dubious sales accounts, thus changing – or trashing – the Chinese language environment on Twitter. After all such change has occurred already on domestic microblogs over the last couple of years.

The Chinese govt has long been weary of Twitter as a fertile ground for anti-CCP sentiments and a place where dissidents gather. The Chinese government’s fear of a color revolution and Twitter’s role in recent social changes in other countries are well known.

Until the day of her appointment, the new Managing Director of the Greater China region was not a Twitter user. In a video clip, she greeted Twitter users with the equally new @TwitterGCN account. It’s clear that she has little understanding of the Twitter ecology. Of her total 15 tweets, the 6th encouraged @CCTVNews and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to “work together to tell the great China story to the world!” The 10th thanked @XHNews with: “look forward to closer partnership in the future!”

My friend @Yaqiu was appalled. “Twitter working with CCTV to tell the story of China? I can’t believe she said this. I’ve taken a screen grab.”

Another user pointed out, “Greater China = PRC, HK, Taiwan – people in TW/HK are NOT interested in CCP’s ‘great story’.” Indeed, China story means different things to different audiences.

Chinese tweeps—though not just Chinese tweeps—sneered out of disappointment and concern. I share their disgust, but I’m also deeply saddened, because just recently these same tweeps sang the tenderest tribute to Twitter on its 10th birthday. I had been encountering these tweeps everyday on Twitter, but hadn’t until that point known that they were so smart, witty, genuine and free.

One tweep was brutal. “Twitter has between 300 and 400 million users around the world. Nobody cares about the 10,0000 or 20,000 mainland Chinese users—do whatever you want to do and go wherever you want to go.” But it turns out he was deeply troubled as well.

 

Yaxue Cao is the editor of this website. Follow her on Twitter @YaxueCao.

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Related:

#LoveTwitter, a Special Place Like No Other for Mainland Chinese Netizens, March 24, 2016.

A Month or so in the House of Twitter, by Yaxue Cao, January 23, 2012.

 

 

The ‘1992 Consensus’: Rather Than Asking Tsai Ing-wen, Ask Xi Jinping Instead

By Hu Ping, published: January 24, 2016

The “1992 consensus,” the outcome of a meeting between representatives of the Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), refers to the putative agreement that there is only “one China,” but that each side is able to interpret the meaning of that one China differently. For the KMT, this means that the Republic of China represents the only “one China,” whereas for the CCP, it means that the People’s Republic of China is the sole representative of the “one China.” The status of the agreement, or even its existence, has been controversial. — The Editors.

"Change of administration in Taiwan hurts the feelings of the Chinese people." Cartoon by @thomasycwong

“Change of government in Taiwan hurts the feelings of the Chinese people.” Cartoon by @thomasycwong

 

In May 2004 in the overseas Chinese-language magazine “Beijing Spring”(《北京之春》)  I published an essay titled “Looking at Taiwan’s plight from Taiwan’s perspective,” in which I made the following comment:

By the same principle, the so-called 1992 Consensus—that is, “one China,” each with their respective interpretations—is also not helpful for Taiwan. This is because Taiwan’s “one China” interpretation can only have the effect of Taiwan talking to itself, and shutting itself off to the world. The international community won’t accept its interpretation of one China. Moreover, to the extent that Taiwan doesn’t want to isolate itself from the international community, and wants to actively participate in international organizations and activities, it must tacitly acknowledge that the People’s Republic of China, and not the Republic of China, occupies the space of China in international events. Thus, it has no choice but to de facto (in global for a) abandon its own version of the “one China.”

Perhaps at the beginning Taiwan wasn’t clear on what the CCP’s own “one China” meant when it agreed to the consensus. Taiwan may have thought that it simply means that each side does not directly acknowledge the other, but not that each can deliberately undermine, suppress, and attack the other in the presence of third parties and in international fora. (In the overseas Chinese community, this was called the “twin problem,” where each sibling says they’re the real one, and the other is fake. When community activities were organized around the world, the organizers were never clear which was the real and which the fake China, and they didn’t want to get dragged into the dispute. So they simply invited them both. Both sides attend, acknowledge that the other has attended, but refrain from going and pressuring the host to eject the other party.)

But who knew that the CCP’s version of the one China policy is that the CCP, on every possible occasion, does all it can to reject, suppress, and ruthlessly eliminate Taiwan’s presence. Taiwan obviously cannot accept this.

This is the problem right here. If the mainland’s understanding of the 1992 consensus is that it not only doesn’t recognize Taiwan, but also in international fora deliberately tries to suppress and negate Taiwan, then of course Taiwan won’t accept it. Who would accept a so-called “consensus” in which they are agreeing to being willfully negated and attacked? The pan-Green coalition couldn’t accept it, and the pan-Blue coalition also couldn’t accept it.

In March of 2006, when then-chairman of the KMT, Ma Ying-jeou, visited the United States, he spoke on the question of Taiwanese independence. Taiwan needs to gain more recognition in international diplomacy, he said, but if the CCP doesn’t allow even this, it will force Taiwanese people to the other side—and not even those originally concerned with Taiwanese independence. “Even people like us will oppose it. It’s got nothing to do with independence or not—but you won’t even give us a bit of breathing space!”

So, given that Taiwanese can’t accept a consensus which marginalizes and suppresses them, this is why the two sides cannot have a consensus. This is why the 1992 consensus just cannot exist.

If the 1992 consensus truly does exist, then it could only be on the basis of mutual respect and equality between the two sides. In this case, while each side would not directly recognize the other, they would not try to suppress and marginalize the other in the international community. Taiwan naturally sees it this way, but the question is whether the mainland agrees. The problem isn’t with Taiwan, but with the mainland.

Rather than asking Tsai Ing-wen whether she recognizes the 1992 consensus, we are better off first asking Xi Jinping just what he believes the 1992 consensus means. If Xi Jinping’s understanding of the 1992 consensus includes not marginalizing and suppressing Taiwan in the international community, then I think Tsai Ing-wen would also accept that consensus; if Xi Jinping’s understanding is that the 1992 consensus means that the mainland can marginalize and suppress Taiwan in the international community, then I think we’ve no need to ask Tsai Ing-wen in the first place.
Hu Ping (胡平) had been for years the chief editor of Beijing Spring, a long-running New York-based Chinese democracy magazine, until his retirement in  Mr. Hu has been one of the best known Chinese liberal thinkers and commentators since early 1980s, and his essay On Freedom of Expression influenced many intellectuals and students in China in the 80s when he was a graduate student of philosophy at Peking University.

 

Related articles

Now You Know the Terror, by Martin Oei, January 17, 2016. 

Chiang Ching-kuo and the Democratization of Taiwan, by Chang Tieh Chi, June 3, 2013. 

 

Also by Hu Ping:

How the Tiananmen Massacre Changed China, and the World, June 2, 2015

 

中文原文與其問蔡英文,不如問習近平-九二共識之我見》,translated by China Change.

 

 

Now You Know the Terror

By Martin Oei, published: January 17, 2016

 

On January 15 a video was published online showing Chou Tzu-yu (周子瑜), a 16-year-old member of the K-pop girl group Twice, apologizing for holding a Republic of China flag in a photo shoot several months ago. The video was produced and published by the group’s South Korean management company JYP Entertainment. “There is only one China,” she says in the tape. “The two sides of the strait are one, and I have always felt proud to be Chinese.” She then apologizes for holding the flag. The video, instigated by pro-Beijing Internet users, at the tip-off of pro-Beijing Taiwanese singer Huang An (黄安), infuriated Taiwanese. People have found it difficult to watch, but we urge you to forge beyond the first 10 seconds and go all the way to the end. Try some of her soft, halting lines: “I have always felt proud of being a Chinese… I’m guilt-stricken for having hurting people’s feelings on both sides of the strait… Once again, once again, I apologize to all of you.” Try that slow and deep bow. With that, in less than a minute, you will have an education in the terror of communist rule lived and internalized by all Chinese that no college course could provide. – The Editor  

 

周子瑜

Zhou Tzu-yu (top-left) holding a Taiwan flag and a South Korea flag in what looks like the girls’ dorm. This is the photo that enraged the Chinese “patriots.”

All it took was for Chou Tzu-yu, a Taiwanese pop singer, to hold in her hand a Republic of China flag. For this, a has-been singer, long resident in China, decided to make an example of her, falsely accusing her of stirring up Taiwanese independence. Remarkably, she was then forced by her South Korean management firm to record an apology video: a mere 16-year-old Taiwanese girl forced to identify herself as a Chinese and admit that her holding the Republic of China flag was wrong. The sequence of events evoked public ire in Taiwan and Hong Kong, with the widespread sentiment that China’s bullying is simply insufferable.

The manner in which Chou, wearing black, face pale, read out her statement of apology, not only showed that she was forced to apologize, but also recalled in style the kind of forced confessional videos produced by terrorist organizations ISIS and Al-Qaeda, where hostages are filmed reading out prepared statements. On top of that, the incident came not long after the news of Hong Kong publisher Lee Bo’s (李波) abduction—it seemed that China’s modus operandi differs little from that of terrorists. At least, this author struggles with the question: just what is the difference between China bullying and humiliating a Taiwanese minor, and the likes of the Islamic State’s videos?

Then there was Huang An, the has-been singer who informed against her, and his self-satisfied gloating on Weibo afterwards. This not only showed his betrayal of Taiwan, and the hurt he caused Taiwan’s people, but also recalled the “Lord Haw-Haw” nickname given to broadcaster William Joyce, who spread propaganda for Germany and earned the reputation of an infamous traitor. The zealotry and fervor with which he carried on seemed to differ little from the kind of fanaticism with which ISIS zealots execute their own “enemies” or “traitors.” The way that Internet users in China mindlessly parroted Huang An’s remarks further led one to consider: What difference is there between that kind of extreme Chinese nationalism and the kind seen in the Islamic State?

China is a country with a history of nationalist extremism: for instance, the Boxer Rebellion of 1899, or the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976—both are ISIS-style outbursts of fanaticism. The less stable the regime is, the more the authorities stoke nationalist fervor in an attempt to stabilize it.

The 1899 Boxer Rebellion took place because Empress Dowager Cixi began introducing Western institutions, leading the ignorant masses to be incited with slogans about “supporting the Qing and eliminating foreigners.” The Cultural Revolution was initiated by Mao Zedong to wrest back power from then-chairman of the PRC Liu Shaoqi.

Is Xi Jinping, in order to stabilize his own power, not only conniving at, but encouraging people like Huang An to bully and humiliate Taiwanese people? Will China, to fan nationalist sentiment in order to stabilize its own regime, even use force against Hong Kong and Taiwan? These questions bear our close attention.

But we can be certain of one thing: Whether it’s Taiwanese or Hongkongers, we all need to stand firm and say “no” to this extremism. Indulging the extremists will simply whet their appetite. There is an example from history: England and France’s appeasement policies before the Second World War swelled Hitler’s ambitions, and in the end a world war was inevitable. As Taiwan faces down China’s unhinged behavior, there’s simply no room for appeasement.

 

Martin Oei (黃世澤) is a columnist based in Hong Kong.

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Related:

‘The Zhaos’ — The Demarcation of a Divide, January 6, 2016.  

 

Chinese original 你知道中國有多恐怖了吧》