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Yaxue Cao, March 28, 2017     When on March 1 Chinese media launched a sudden and all-out smear campaign claiming that the torture of human rights lawyer Xie Yang (谢阳) was a fabrication, and that Western media coverage of it was “fake news,” many of us wondered what this outburst was all about. A UN Human Rights Council meeting? The German Chancellor’s planned visit? Now we know. On February 27, diplomatic missions in Beijing from 11 countries wrote a letter, expressing their “growing concern over recent claims of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in cases concerning detained human rights lawyers and other human rights defenders.” The letter also urged China to abandon the practice of secret detention known as […]


December 22, 2016 On December 20 the official Weibo account of the Communist Youth League Central Committee posted a short video (YouTube) targeting human right lawyer Jiang Tianyong (江天勇). Jiang was disappeared on November 21, and the Chinese government has not formally notified his relatives of his whereabouts, which violates China’s own laws. As the Party’s propaganda juggernaut churns out videos like this, the word “shameless” fails to describe it. The Chinese narration of the video is presented, interspersed with the images and corresponding text in italics. — The Editors     As the population of society has continued to grow, the number of people using fake identities to commit crimes has increased in large numbers. Thus, the real name-registration system is an important feature […]


By Yaxue Cao, April 17, 2016 This story has been updated.    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 […]


By Chang Ping, published: October 1, 2015 “Why would the results of a poll conducted by a neutral, respected polling organization tally so closely with the propaganda of a totalitarian government?”   Can it be that 92.8% of Chinese poll respondents are truly satisfied with the Chinese central government, and that among these, 37.6% are “extremely satisfied”? For over a decade, the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, in collaboration with Horizon Research (零点调查公司) in Beijing, has been conducting polls on Chinese citizens’ attitudes toward their government. In the most recent poll, respondents’ satisfaction with the central government was at an all-time high. The New York Times described it as a “reliable” public opinion poll. […]


By Matthew Robertson and Yaxue Cao, published: July 27, 2015   On the heels of a nationally coordinated campaign of arrests and disappearances of rights lawyers in China, Party-run media have aggressively attacked, framed, and sought to defame the same lawyers in articles and news reports (here, here, and here). In one CCTV segment in particular, Wang Yu (王宇), one of China’s most prominent rights defenders, was portrayed as a menace to court order as she loudly remonstrated with bailiffs. Wang was, along with four other lawyers, attempting to defend three practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice that is heavily persecuted in China, in a court in Shenyang, Liaoning Province last April. On July 19, nine days after Wang Yu had been taken away […]


By Chang Ping, published: September 4, 2014   The U. S. National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) recently issued a report titled Curriculum and Ideology which stated that the Chinese Communist government’s ideological education was startlingly effective: the textbooks for the course “ideology and politics” used since the 2004 curriculum reform have shaped students’ ideas and minds more effectively. This NBER report destroyed many people’s illusions. Internationally, one of the common arguments used to justify the Chinese Communists’ brainwashing in education is that even though the Chinese Communists impose relentless internet censorship, in comparison to the past, the internet provides a wealth of information to China’s internet users. For example, not long ago, Frank Sieren, a commentator for the Deutsche Welle, questioned publicly, in his […]


By Chang Ping, published: August 30, 2014   (This is Chang Ping’s fourth rebuttal, also declined publication by Deutsche Welle, to Frank Sieren’s defense of the Tiananmen massacre, the “right to forget,” and his accusation that some criticisms against the Chinese government are gross exaggerations (links in German) in the Sieren vs. Chang Ping debate earlier this year in DW about the June 4th massacre in 1989 in China. Read Tiananmen Massacre not a “Passing Lapse” of the Chinese Government, Without the Right to Remember There Can Be No Freedom to Forget, and How Brainwashing Works in China, Chang Ping’s first, second and third rebuttals to Sieren. – The Editor)   In the two pieces he wrote in response to criticisms about how he portrayed the Chinese government, Mr. Frank Sieren never […]


By Chang Ping, published: August 30, 2014   (This is Chang Ping’s third rebuttal, declined publication by Deutsche Welle, to Frank Sieren’s defense of the Tiananmen massacre and the “right to forget“  (links in German) in the Sieren vs. Chang Ping debate earlier this year in DW about the June 4th massacre in 1989 in China. Read Tiananmen Massacre not a “Passing Lapse” of the Chinese Government, and Without the Right to Remember There Can Be No Freedom to Forget, Chang Ping’s first and second rebuttals to Sieren. – The Editor)   In his article, “From Tiananmen to Leipzig,” Frank Sieren reproaches Western media with “unilaterally exaggerating the facts in reporting the incident,” the “incident” in question being the Tiananmen massacre. After Chinese commentators, including myself, raised objections, the example Sieren gives […]


By Rogier Creemers, published: September 18, 2013 First published at ChinaFile.com as part of the conversation What’s Behind China’s Recent Internet Crackdown   I’d say that the current rumor crackdown is just the tip of a very large policy iceberg. Internet control sits at the confluence of a number of policy streams, which together caused the situation on China’s Internet we see today: enormous commercial developments on the one side, and a government that is trying to regain control through increasingly harsh methods on the other. A first major undercurrent is the increasing clout of the propaganda department. While propaganda and culture had never completely disappeared from the political view, the drive towards development of the cultural industries and the expansion of its turf, thanks to the […]


By Mo Zhixu Mo Zhixu (莫之许), pen name of Zhao Hui (赵晖), is a Beijing-based Chinese dissident intellectual and a frequent contributor of Chinese-language publications known for his incisive views of Chinese politics and opposition. He is the co-author of “China at the Tipping Point? Authoritarianism and Contestation” in the January issue of Journal of Democracy. With permission, we edited his piece, originally published in iSunAffair Weekend on Thursday, to reflect later developments. A more detailed account of the event itself can be found in this Foreign Policy article by Annie Zhang that I translated. –Yaxue The predicament of Party-owned but commercialized media outlets in China China does not have private media. Most of China’s media groups are subordinates of CCP Committees on different levels. The […]


I assume you are a China watcher and already know the Southern Weekend (also translated as the Southern Weekly) incident that’s been raging on for the last couple of days. If you are not, you’ll find out here. Either way, I want to place the incident in the larger picture. China doesn’t have an independent press – we all know that. The Southern Weekend is a part of the  Southern Media Group (南方报业传媒集团), a Guangdong provincial-level state-owned media enterprise. Like any state-owned enterprises, whether they manufacture sewage pipes or produce newspapers, its top leader is the Party secretary (党委书记) and, in NMG’s case, the position is concurrently held by the Deputy Chief of the Propaganda Department of Guangdong province. The Group operates like a corporation, […]


By Yaxue Cao, published: June 28, 2012   I almost forgot; I had been to Shanghai before. It was the Chinese New Year of 1990, I decided spontaneously to go to a friend’s home to spend the holidays. On New Year’s Eve, I boarded an airplane in Guangzhou, and landed, several hours later, at Hongqiao Airport in Shanghai. From the airport, I took a taxi to the Shanghai Train Station. I remember it was dusk, the sky overcast, the air chilling beyond a northerner’s assumption of Shanghai. There was not a soul on the streets. I don’t know why, but right at this moment, I am thinking about six o’clock. Two clicks away now, I know the trip is sixteen kilometers long, and passes a […]


By Yaxue Cao Earlier last week, I was on the phone with an artist friend of mine in Beijing. We talked about the documentary he was making, my ideas about a story, and we chitchatted a little about our children. He too has two children and the older girl was a fourth grader, a couple of years younger than my daughter. The next day I received the following email from W: “I attended the Reading Festival performance of my daughter’s school this morning. I sat through the hour-long event horrified. The entire show had nothing to do with kids or reading, nor did the children look innocent and lovely. Instead, I watched Party’s propaganda, shrill patriotism, and twisted rendition of history. The fawning on teachers gave me goose […]


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