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Chen Jiangang, March 3, 2017 When lawyer Chen Jiangang published the “Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang,” the revelations of torture garnered a great deal of attention in the international press and legal profession. To name a few among the many media and professional organizations that covered the transcripts or lamented the lawlessness of Chinese authorities: The Washington Post, the American Bar Association Journal, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, El País, Agencia EFE, The Guardian, The Irish Times, Brussels Diplomatic, and Le Monde. Twenty-nine respected lawyers and judges from around the world penned a letter demanding that China respect the rule of law, while the European Union issued a rare statement expressing concern over the reported torture of human rights lawyers. […]


Chen Jinxue, Qin Chenshou, March 1, 2017   On March 1, 2017, the Global Times, led by Hu Xijin (胡锡进), published a report claiming that it has interviewed Jiang Tianyong. As Jiang Tianyong’s defense lawyers, we make the following statement:   1. Defense lawyers have applied no fewer than three times to meet Jiang Tianyong (江天勇) since his disappearance on November 21, 2016, to no avail. The reason given to us is that meeting our client would obstruct the investigation or possibly divulge state secrets — yet apparently unrelated parties, and Global Times journalists, claim to have seen Jiang Tianyong. Our position has always been: lawyers meeting their clients cannot possibly obstruct the investigation or divulge state secrets, and according to the Criminal Law, when […]


By Song Zhibiao, published: July 13, 2014   At the beginning of last year, a friend proposed that we conduct a volunteer project — we do a sustained exposure and critique of the false reports and fraudulent op-eds coming out of the Global Times (Chinese version). I can imagine that this would be an onerous task requiring updates almost every day. In the end, the proposal was shelved and became a joke between friends. After all, it’s no fun cleaning up filth every day. Before, the Global times was something that was never discussed in my small circle of friends, and now, although we don’t talk about it that much, it has gradually become a topic that, like a piece of gum, cannot be easily […]


For the last month, there has been a raging debate over child abuse. It started when Yan Yanhong posted pictures of herself abusing her own kindergarten students; the pictures were taken by her co-worker, Tong Qingqing. She picked her students up by the ears, put children upside-down in garbage cans, and taped their mouths shut for “being disobedient,” and in other cases “just for fun.” Far more disturbing, was that Yan Yanhong forced her 4-5 year old students to strip, dance, and kiss each other (People’s daily reported several times on this story when it broke 1,2,3,4). This is just one of dozens of child abuse cases involving teachers. In Shanxi a girl was slapped in the face for nearly 10 minutes for failing to […]


On Saturday Yaxue shared the story of “Subverter” Chen Pingfu. Essentially, he was deeply in debt after paying for a surgery, and turned to performing in public to try and pay off the money he owed his family members. For this he was threatened and eventually beaten by “public servants,” but he continued on. When he complained about this treatment online, he was further harassed by police, and was forced out of the only job he’d been able to find in years. Chen was a man desperately clinging to the last shred of dignity he had and local officials were determined to take that away from him. Apparently in China, when the gov’t takes away your job and threaten you by saying, “I’ll send you […]


I recently finished Dan Ariely’s book, The Honest Truth About Dishonesty, and realized that I’ve been thinking about corruption in the wrong way. While I’m not about to argue that there are “acceptable levels” of it, in the way Global Times tried, I do think we are overlooking a few key points. For one, as Ariely argues, cases of embezzlement and fraud are not made up largely of Madoff’s (or Liu Zhijun’s), but of small daily acts by very ordinary people. He shows through his research that for the most part everyone is willing to cheat a little, and that massive cheats are actually far more rare than they should be (if one assumes that a person would cheat as much as is possible without repercussions), […]


Today, we continue our ongoing series on Ai Weiwei’s book, Time and place. A World Without Honor By 2006 China had already tapped Zhang Yimou to direct the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. To Ai this was completely unacceptable, and he decided to devote a rather fiery post to the injustice of this decision. It was  shortly before this that the once daring director had begun to back away from the line. As a friend who had attended film school with Zhang told me, it seemed to her that the gov’t had finally “gotten” him. But Ai’s essay is still relevant today, especially as we sit through two more weeks of Olympics. He says, “Every competition has a winner, and the victorious side always […]


Picking up from where Hannah left off yesterday, I want to look at a couple ideas from Ai Weiwei’s essays that jumped out at me. Chinese Contemporary in Dilemma and Transition Ai’s essays provide a great reminder of why Ai was so popular in China before the West took an interest in him – he isn’t speaking to a western audience and he is directly challenging Chinese culture. In fact much of his essay on Chinese art is in direct opposition to how the gov’t tried to paint him after his arrest; Ai is in no way infatuated with Western ideology, as he wants to see a strong and prosperous Chinese art scene, and by extension China. That Chinese artists should resist western influence, and […]


With the conclusion of the school year, I marked the end of my 5th consecutive year in China. Soon, I will be heading back to the United States and applying to graduate programs related to international development and theology. It has been a fantastic time. I feel very fortunate that I have had the opportunity to be here and to witness China firsthand. I plan on continuing to write about China, and will try to digest a similar amount of People’s Daily, Global Times, and whatever else looks interesting. I know that I will not be able to keep up with frantic pace of five posts a week, so for the past few months I’ve been working with Yaxue and another friend (you will meet […]


Yesterday we posted Xu Zhiyong’s essay calling for a New Citizens’ Movement. Today I want to highlight a few of the aspects that make this piece especially interesting to me, and why I believe this essay lays out a realistic path for change. Reform not Revolution What has been made clear time and again in Global Times and Peoples Daily is that the Chinese people have little appetite for revolution, they aren’t wrong about this. After all, they got their fill of the chaos that revolution brings during Mao’s reign. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, and a successful movement is going to have to reassure the people that what they are doing is not going to turn China into Libya, Egypt or Syria. […]


Last week, a photo emerged on weibo of a woman laying next to her aborted daughter*, and the Chinese Internet exploded in anger over how the One Child Policy was being implemented (The New Yorker has a good overview). I didn’t comment on this last week, not because of self-censorship or a disinterest in the story, but because I had failed to consider just how powerful that image was. In the hospital where I work, dozens of abortions take place everyday in the name of family planning; I had assumed most people were aware of the practice, and as I’ve discussed before abortions aren’t usually seen as a moral choice. While most of these would be considered “voluntary,” if there were no policy, these women would […]


Last week I carefully broached the subject of Tian’anmen Square with one of my co-workers. Together we looked through a series of pictures from that day from The Atlantic (excellent), which sparked a very interesting, and yet minimally productive conversation. It was her first time seeing evidence of civilian casualties, and I explained that no one was certain how many students and workers had died in the Square, but most foreign sources say hundreds. With the ongoing violence in Syria (which she is following), this wasn’t an easy idea to accept. So I told her that I had never really heard about June 4th from a Chinese view, and asked her to tell me what it had been like. She said here in Nanjing and in Beijing […]


For the last few weeks, the expat community in China has been abuzz with talk about Beijing’s crackdown on foreigners who are here illegally, and the growing anti-foreign sentiment that seems to be stoked by state media (Beijing Cream’s summary of what sparked it all and the fiery post that almost got China Geeks sued). So far the crackdown has already spread to Yanbian and Chengdu is preparing to announce similar measures, a nationwide campaign in the next few months would not be surprising. If we’re completely honest though, I think most of us would agree with the importance of enforcing visa policies, but dislike the tone of the rhetoric and the nationalism it encourages. I think we should also admit that most of us know people […]


Yesterday we looked at a few of the pros and cons of rural life, today we’ll be looking at the development plan for this region. “China is a large country with a large population,” seemed to be the catch-all excuse for much of the poverty we saw as we traveled through rural parts of a central Chinese province.* While I generally find it an unconvincing dodge, the remoteness of this region lead me to contemplate how it could ever be prosperous. Many of China’s remote regions were settled exactly because they were so difficult to reach, offering minority groups and small clans protection from outsiders. But now that trade and manufacturing are the base of China’s growth, these rural places have been left behind. One […]


Last night the Central Gov’t confirmed that rumors of Bo Xilai’s involvement in the death of a British national were true. The Party claims this as a victory that shows China as a country “ruled by law (and here),” even though information about this case began to surface months ago with Wang Lijun fleeing to the U.S. Embassy in Chengdu. Bo’s sacking along with the revelation that he may have been an accomplice in a murder is also unusual in that high-level officials are usually dismissed without much clarification. In the last big case, with Railway minister Liu Zhijun supposedly embezzling 800 million RMB, it was only stated in the Chinese press that he was suspected for graft without a specific amount (even though he was blamed […]


China’s foreign policy of non-involvement seems to stem from the Confucian teaching to “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.” For the Party, this means avoiding situations like what is currently happening in Syria, which if the UN had its way would see the ouster of a gov’t for slaughtering its own people (similar stances were taken by China in respect to Sudan and Libya too). China’s foreign policy recognizes the possible problems of setting a precedence of using military force against chronic human rights abusers. The key to this policy is keeping public opinion in line with the gov’t response and to accomplish that, China needs nationalism. This also explains the Party’s framing of China as a still imperiled nation. They push […]


Last week Weibo was swept up in rumors of a completely imagined coup in Beijing (Yaxue covered the extent of the madness excellently). It seems that this week is bringing yet another wave of crazed speculation, again involving former star Bo Xilai, as well as an international man of mystery, and most of Bo’s family (NYT coverage or the more entertaining and similarly accurate movie version). For me the question has nothing to do with whether or not these rumors bare any resemblance to what has actually happened (they probably don’t), the big question is why aren’t these rumors being squashed like a bug? There are several possibilities. While nobody really knows the answer, my Chinese friends have assured me that “this is absolutely not normal”. Weibo has come off […]


I think to many observers of China, People’s Daily (PD) has little worth outside of restating the Party line. They pretend that it is a reconstruction of the Ministry of Truth from 1984, whose only purpose lies in creating “truth.” Some even go so far as to argue that reading and quoting such a paper does nothing but affirm the Party’s leadership. In fact, bloggers, activists, and dissidents should be reading the People’s Daily, and, as I’ll show, often the most damning evidence against the Party’s rule can be found within its pages. Initially, I too was skeptical of the integrity of People’s Daily, but linked to it regularly, assuming that even the strongest proponents of China would find it difficult to argue with facts […]


The idea that democracy doesn’t fit China’s national condition seems to be a weekly feature in the Global Times (like today’s article). The arguments provided in these pieces not only show a disgusting contempt for the common Chinese person (we’ll call them “laobaixing (老百姓) from here on), but also expose the deeper flaws in the current electoral-system which is a faux-democracy at best. At present, China’s political system allows for choosing representatives at the local government level, these candidates though are handpicked by the Party. In the last round of elections there were several independent candidates, but many of these were harassed by the police and marginalized in the election. These elected officials are partially responsible for selecting the higher levels of gov’t although they too face […]


I broke the news today of Kim Jong Il’s death to several co-workers, hoping for some kind of reaction from them, but all I got was a shrug and a “So what?” The conversation then quickly turned to what this might mean for China, and whether or not more N. Koreans would be sneaking across the border (the N. Korean army actually received orders to seal the border with increased patrols several hours before the news was broken, it will remain sealed until at least Jan. 15). One co-worker did shake her head, and express concern about the fact that Kim’s son would be taking power, “Dynasties are not a good thing,” she said. One of the students my wife tutors said that N. Korea was “broken” […]


Today marked the 74th anniversary of the Rape of Nanking, and as I wrote last year, it is a day that for me is inescapable (you should read that post because I won’t be rehashing much of it). I am surrounded by the history of that dark time, but am also buoyed by the memories of those who risked their lives for the common people of China. Today I’d like to share a few lesser known facts from those six weeks. One of the most important things to understand about the Nanjing International Safety Zone, is that the foreigners involved with it never lost their faith in the rule of law. Time and again they brought cases directly to the Japanese embassy and Japanese military command, and […]


This week has seen renewed effort by netizens to visit Linyi, on what they call “group dating”, and instead of Dong Shi Gu, the destination was the People’s Square downtown. Three visitors were charged of “illegal gathering” and detained; a few more have been reported missing. And more are going. As for this week’s Weibo translation, we offer items about the citizen humanitarian effort in Beijing, the still unseen report about the high-speed train collision, what judiciary with Chinese character is like, Taiwan’s presidential debate, and more. Links to a couple of the items have been severed since I culled them, and you can join me to wonder why, but otherwise, click on date below item for link to the original. 翁涛yt:/Weng Tao/(investment executive associated […]


There have been fewer reports on netizens attempting to visit Chen Guangcheng, but there are signs of the campaign taking a different direction, which we illustrate for you in a group of pictures. Starting this week, Ai Weiwei will be sending to his 30,000 “creditors” an exquisite, hand-written IOU. We also offer items about the secret of Huaxi village, the national shame of China, and how good the Beijing subway security check is. Click on date below item for link to the original. Is this the beginning of a guerrilla campaign? A group of men carrying out what they call the first installation of “Veteran Military Doctor Program”(“老军医项目”): A group of four men planted “Free Guangcheng” balloons in various sites of Linyi: T-shirt, car stickers, […]


I’m going to try something slightly different with this week’s Top Stories. Instead of creating a summary of the most important events, I’ll link to the best articles published this week about China. If you prefer this format or the other please let me know in the comments. -Tom Why many in China sympathize with Occupy Wallstreet – a great article from the Atlantic looking at differences between rural and urban residents. China’s Fox News – Christina Larson of Foreign Policy gives her take on the Global Times and journalism in China. Which was followed up by The top 10 screeds in China’s Global Times. Global Times fired back with Foreign Policy’s limited view of Chinese media. Chinese police take on ‘lost generation’ grandparents – Malcom […]


For over a month now we’ve been covering the story of Chen Guangcheng, thanks largely to Yaxue’s “Heard on Weibo” section. We’ve seen it grow from an online protest, to manifesting in the physical world with activists attempting to enter Chen’s village only to be beaten back time and again (this link is an incredible account of such a group). The issue is now widely known, and the angry question seems to be “How can Linyi’s government treat people this way?” But now the question is starting to shift to “How can the central government allow local thugs to treat people this way?” In China, calling for action from the Central government would typically be an ineffective approach. Most of the high-profile cases are never officially […]


This week China’s central gov’t continued to urge the development of Chinese culture, which no one is entirely sure how to do (at the hospital I have heard several times that we need to promote our hospital’s culture). Sensing that Confucianism hasn’t really caught on overseas, the gov’t promoted Daoism in a world conference. Sam Crane from “The Useless Tree,” was quick to point out that Daoist philosophy might undermine the Party’s authority; for example: “The people are starving, and it’s only because you leaders feast on taxes that they’re starving.” A few days later, protests against taxes turned into riots in the town of Huzhou (if only they’d read the Daoist classics sooner). A reader who used to live in the city told me […]


From time to time people disagree with some of my thoughts on China. I welcome thoughtful comments, and one of my major motivations in starting this blog was seeing to what degree people agreed with my thoughts on the middle kingdom. That being said, there are a few excuses that I’m tired of hearing. We’ll be looking at a few of these over the next few days. The West doesn’t understand China It seems that you can’t read an opinion piece in the People’s Daily without bumping into phrases like “the West”, “Hegemony” and the idea that westerners just don’t get China. This feeling comes out of a sense of superiority/insecurity within China’s nationalist groups. When it comes to democracy and other topics that worry China’s […]


The story most deserving of your attention this week can by found on Foreign Policy, and was written by Charlie Custer of ChinaGeeks.org, highlighting the problem of kidnapping in China (hopefully you already noticed the link on the right hand side of this page). According to the U.S. State Department there are nearly 20,000 kidnappings every year in China, which is over 100x higher than in the US. It is a heartbreaking story, and Charlie is working on a documentary called “Living with Dead Hearts” to draw more attention to this epidemic. Although there have been stories circulating for nearly a year about China’s possible economic problems, it seems like this week the evidence of a slow down started bubbling to the surface. Throughout China […]


It’s no secret that journalists working for Xinhua, Global Times, and People’s Daily, are part of an effort to distribute messages from the Party. I read these sources daily, and have built up a degree of tolerance to articles about how America wants to separate Taiwan from the mainland (example), that China’s presence in Africa is always beneficial to Africans (examples 1, 2, 3), and the seemingly weekly calls for the Party to serve the people (Example). Let’s just say that my expectations for Chinese journalists in these publications is pretty darn low, yet from time to time, they still manage to surprise me with their total lack of concern when it comes to exposing the truth. Yesterday’s post is a prime example. Not only did these officials take […]


One of the most concerning stories this week was a proposed legal change that would make secret detentions legal. This would be a huge step backwards for human rights in China, and would provide a shield for the gov’t when they are criticized by citizen groups and foreign leaders. Perhaps the best known case of secret detention came earlier this year with the arrest of Ai Weiwei. He was held for nearly 90 days in a secret location for “economic crimes”. It was never made clear why he was not held in a normal prison. Ai Weiwei reflected on the nature of Beijing’s oppressive gov’t this week in a piece for Newsweek that is well worth reading. This reflection by Ai Weiwei came at a […]


I was just told by a Chinese friend that the Nanjing South Railway Station, which was opened just over 10 days ago is already in need of massive restoration. Apparently the opening was rushed for the 90th anniversary, and tiles were either poorly laid, or the concrete had no completely dried (he was unsure of specifics). The result is that they are having to redo thousands of square feet so that the quality can reach an acceptable level. I had mentioned that the bridge in Qingdao had also been rushed for the Party’s anniversary, but a day later it came out that it had opened without all of its guard rails in place.  The Global Times and CCTV were quick to criticize the local gov’t […]


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