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China Change, July 27, 2018   Xu Lin (徐琳), who described himself as “a dissident, poet, singer-songwriter and senior construction engineer in mainland China,” was put on trial in the Nansha District Court in Guangzhou on July 27, where he faced charges of ‘picking quarrels and stirring up trouble’ (寻衅滋事) for a series of songs about sensitive political topics that he composed, sung, and posted online. Xu pleaded not guilty to the charges. The court did not deliver a sentence at the end of the trial. Xu Lin was arrested and criminally detained in September 2017 while visiting his sick father in Hunan. Among the list of his supposed crimes were the songs he composed supporting human rights lawyers targeted in the July 9, 2015 […]


China Change, February 12, 2018     On February 9, lawyer Chen Wuquan (陈武权) was criminally detained with five villagers on an island off the coast of Zhanjiang (湛江), on the southwest peninsular of Guangdong Province. He was not a lawyer representing clients in a land rights defense case, as one may assume. Instead, he was a disbarred lawyer living at home in his village, leading an effort against forced demolition, illegal land reclamation, and the logging of redwoods along the beach. The group of six had petitioned on behalf of the village, and the police responded by detaining them for “obstructing the start of construction.” On February 11, Chen Wuquan’s family received notice of his criminal detention. Before he led villagers to protest illegal […]


Zhuang Liehong, November 23, 2016 “Wukan is a big prison now. Scores of villagers have been detained, including my father. Police patrol the streets and roads, and life is difficult.” – Wukan villager Zhuang Liehong     Wukan, a fishing village in eastern Guangdong Province, occupies an area of about 5,765 acres and has a population of 13,000. Since 1993, corrupt officials have conspired with businessmen to secretly sell off the collectively-owned, arable village land, and pocket the proceeds. This led to large-scale petitions and protests to defend villagers’ rights from 2009 to 2011. As they fought for their land and for democracy in their village, Wukan residents were faced with extreme hardship, and the local government did everything it could — including plots and […]


By Mo Zhixu, April 13, 2016 “When the Southern activists stood amidst heavy traffic and photographed themselves holding placards of protest, the feeling it gives is a little surreal….”   On April 8, 2016, after a year and half in detention, two activists arrested in 2014 for holding banners on the streets of Guangzhou in support of Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement—Wang Mo (王默) and Xie Wenfei (謝文飛, real name Xie Fengxia 謝豐夏)—were sentenced to four and a half years imprisonment by the Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court. In addition, they will be deprived of political rights for three years. On the same day Zhang Shengyu (張聖雨, real name Zhang Rongping 張榮平), who held a placard in support of the Hong Kong students, was sentenced to four […]


A 2016 New Year’s Message from China’s Labor Community   Dear fellow workers, compatriots, and friends from around the world: Happy New Year! Toward the end of 2015, the labor community in China experienced an unprecedented attack. A group of activists who have dedicated years to defending the rights and interests of workers were detained, monitored and interrogated by the police. It could have been a moment for fear and paranoia to set in. But those in the labor community and other walks of life responded quickly by drafting a petition to the Communist Party Central Committee, National People’s Congress, and State Council. The petition described in no uncertain terms the severe and widespread violations of workers’ rights and interests over the last few decades, […]


(Tom is unable to post his piece at the moment. Yaxue substitutes.) Xi Jinping created quite a stir with his recent trip to Guangdong province, which has been seen by many as a demonstration of his determination to continue with (economic) Reform and Opening up. On this trip he impressed many by proceeding in a much less flashy fashion than most expect from Chinese gov’t officials. While his recent promotion of waste-preventing guidelines and anti-corruption policies show a strong desire to limit these ills of the Party, there is little hope that these alone will make a difference. Xi is right to focus on these issues early on in his leadership, as graft and abuse of power are widely seen as the biggest threats to […]


When you hear the words “migrant worker,” what kind of person comes to mind? Are they young or middle age? Are they poor? Are they educated? While “migrant worker” seems at first to describe a fairly uniform group of lowly occupations – factory and construction workers, aiyis, taxi drivers, etc. Their backgrounds are actually quite diverse, and the term covers a far larger group of people than we might expect. So large in fact that over 55% of those between 14-35 living in Shanghai are counted as “migrants.” Many of these people are ambitious college graduates entering a workplace with little need of higher education degrees. As a colleague from a Chinese charity recently told me, a large number of people working at factories like […]


With the holidays I know that many of you have taken a break from the internet to spend time with your families, but the Chinese gov’t realizes this too, slipping 3 State subversion trials of dissidents into the final week of the year in the hopes that foreign media will miss the story (and one very mysterious broken probation). Due to the number of links this week, I’ve only added a few comments. China jails dissident 10 years for subversive essays Why isn’t the West reacting to China’s crackdown Draft law prohibits citizens who may endanger national interests from leaving country – This story has not been widely reported on outside of People’s Daily, but would essentially allow China to keep any dissidents from speaking out […]


Tanks didn’t roll into Wukan. Relief? Yes. Comfort? Hardly, given countless precedents that inject nothing but dread, and the fact that the government is still lying and mis-presenting nearly every aspect of the event, down to the location where the village representative and the provincial deputy party secretary met. In Haimen the latest words are that the government conceded to the people’s demand after days of confrontation. This week, a great many Chinese mourned the death of Václav Havel, former president of Czech and a symbol of the communist collapse in Europe in 1989. Then the country had a field day celebrating the death of Kim Jong Il with the exception of the Party and its Foreign Ministry and CCTV. It is one of those […]


This is a developing story, and while I usually don’t comment on “sensitive” events as they happen, the stakes seem to be much higher this time. In a small village in Guangdong, the villagers have staged a revolt. All government officials and police have fled the village after months of demonstrations sparked by land grabs and public funds that seem to have gone missing. Now the village, and its thousands of inhabitants, are encircled by armed police who are demanding they give up their cause and return to normal life. The villagers however are insisting that the local gov’t apologize for the violence they have used against the people (including the death of an organizer while he was in police custody), as well as be […]


Those of us who grew up in Christian homes are all familiar with the parable of the Good Samaritan. Sadly we learned this week that the tale has a very different ending in China: A toddler was going down to the street to play, she was run over by an inattentive driver, who paused a moment to consider what to do and then departed, leaving her half dead. By chance, a certain merchant was going down that way. When he saw her, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a mother also, when she came to the place with her own child, and saw the injured toddler, passed by on the other side. Sixteen others did the same, but a certain […]


According to reports from Xinhua: Guangdong Experimental High School (广东实验中学) announced that not only had it completed 3 new campuses within China, but was proud to be opening the very first Chinese managed public school in Riverside, California. The move was heralded as China’s first step on to the world stage for promoting its unique style of education and overall quality. Even better, it was opened on National Day, and would soon be opening up to enroll Chinese students. This new campus/program was made possible through a relationship with the Chemax Educational Foundation, which was authorized by Guangdong Experimental High School to establish a branch in the United states. Former Secretary of Education for the state of California, Dr. David Long, had even been on hand for […]


One of my first posts on this blog focused on the idea of being a waiguoren (外国人), an “outside country person”, and the fact that a foreigner can never be fully accepted in China. Today though, we’ll be looking at the idea of a waicunren (外村人), an “outside village person”, and how it presents new challenges in an increasingly mobile China. Along with your name and age, a person’s hometown is considered an important part of their identity. This comes out of the fact that for thousands of years a person’s village in many cases mostly consisted of their extended family members. In a traditional village one would expect to find only a few family names with lineages tracing their history in a single place back hundreds […]


Last Train Home claims to be a documentary about migrant workers heading home for Spring Festival, but it is so much more than that. The director opted to focus on a single family, whose parents work in Guangdong province, while their children are looked after by their grandmother in rural Sichuan. In happens to cover the one Spring Festival that almost didn’t happen because of the massive winter storms that swept China in 2008, and depicts the anxiety that many felt. As one the father says, “If you can’t spend Spring Festival with your family, than what is the point of living”. The daughter in the film was the most interesting character I thought. After failing to achieve academic success in high school, she drops […]


Sara Jaaksola lives in Guangdong province where she write Living a Dream in China about her adventures. What is it like to date a Chinese guy? Or in more detail, what is it like for a Finnish girl living in China to love a Chinese boy from Guangdong province? I would say that it’s an adventure that I’m happy to be in. I haven’t found anything in common between Finland and China, but it doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything similar between me and my boyfriend. Let’s start from the beginning which happened over a year ago by the Pearl River in Guangzhou. My boyfriend never thought of having a foreign girlfriend. Like many Chinese guys, he thought that laowai women are out of his league. […]


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