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China Change, May 30, 2019     In the evening of May 16, Deng Chuanbing (邓传彬) posted a picture of a “Remember 8964” wine bottle on Twitter. Father of two school children, he lives in a town in Yibin, Sichuan province. Within half an hour, local police arrived. They ringed him from outside asking him to flash the upstairs lights to prove that he was home. We don’t know what the conversation was like, but he posted on WeChat, “I caved in again, and deleted the wine bottle photo.” The wine bottle Deng Chuanbin had photographed at a friend’s home some time ago was not the same wine bottle that led to the incarceration of four men in Chengdu for three years without trial. It […]


Yaxue Cao, December 5, 2018     If you have been with Twitter’s simplified Chinese community long enough, you know it’s nothing new that handles disappear and in some cases the persons behind them go to jail – it’s a freedom tunnel that the Chinese Communist regime is leery of. But over the last few months, and still ongoing, we keep hearing mainland tweeps reporting that they have been summoned by police who ordered them to delete tweets or accounts altogether. AFP’s Eva Xiao and Human Rights Watch’s Yaqiu Wang reported on the trend early on.  I myself reported one particular instance – the deletion of Wu Gan (吴淦)’s account. As of today, I collected 42 tweets from users themselves tweeting about what had happened […]


Yaxue Cao, October 18, 2018     Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, is a small liberal arts college with around 2500 students. The Campus Center is the central meeting place with a bookstore, a cafe, a post office, computer terminals, a small auditorium, lounge areas and art exhibit space. On October 1, a photo exhibit was mounted along the hallways of the center. It is called, adopting a well-known Mao Zedong quote, “Weightier Than Mount Tai, Lighter Than a Feather: Human Rights Experience of Chinese Contemporary Art.” Featuring ten artists (all but two lived in China), the exhibit includes photographs, conceptual compositions, negative images of Tiananmen Square in 1989, and photographs that depict a wide range of life in China: the student movement in […]


Yaxue Cao, October 15, 2018     On the morning of October 11, Ms. Pu Wenqing (蒲文清) arrived in Beijing accompanied by a couple of supporters. Ms. Pu is 85 years old, a retired doctor living in Neijiang, Sichuan province (四川内江市). As soon as she stepped off the train at Beijing West Railway Station, she spotted six people who had followed her all the way from Sichuan. In China, they are known as “jie fang renyuan” (截访人员), or local government workers whose job is to trail, stop and take back to their hometown petitioners who have gone to the capital on a quest for justice. That is what brought Ms. Pu to Beijing –she was seeking justice for her son. With the help of activists, […]


Yaxue Cao, founder and editor of ChinaChange.org House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee Hearing: Is Academic Freedom Threatened by China’s Influence on U.S. Universities? June 25, 2015 (This is an abbreviation of the full testimony)   Dear members of the Subcommittee, I’m pleased to have this opportunity to speak today about the Chinese government’s policies on joint higher education ventures, its mechanisms of controlling them, the Party’s presence in these ventures, and the regime’s severe suppression of academic freedom in Chinese universities. China’s national policies on joint ventures in higher education In 2003, China first issued the Regulation on Chinese-foreign Cooperative Education (《中华人民共和国中外合作办学条例 》) to set the rules for joint-venture higher education programs. Between 2004 and 2007, China issued several follow-up regulatory documents regarding the implementation […]


While instances of violence and coercion in China are well-known overseas, they actually make up a small percentage of the total cases that are silenced in less visible ways. For every Chen Guangcheng, there are likely hundreds (thousands?) of others who never dared to speak, or shut up shortly after first opening their mouths. In a great series of papers from Kevin O’Brien and Rachel Stern, they show that China has developed a wide variety of tools for maintaining stability (the following sections are a combination of information from the papers and my own observations). Relational Repression (link) As O’Brien shows with a case study of an environmental protest in Zhejiang, people’s family members and friends are often mobilized to apply pressure to activists. In many cases […]


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