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By Li Xiaoming and Wang Yi, translation by China Change, published: March 3, 2016 “As I watched Zhang Kai’s so-called TV confession, my heart ached to no end,” a Chinese Twitter user wrote. He speaks for many of us. Zhang appeared thin and haggard, his dishevelled hair and lusterless eyes all the image of a concentration camp prisoner. He sounded as though he’d been forced to read a script prepared for him by his tormentors. Watching him is like watching our brother being cornered and strong-armed, or our sister raped, as we stand by, helpless. We are pained, but fall silent. What’s more, we begin to think it’s alright to say and do nothing. Then there are those who can no longer “stay out of […]


By China Change, published: February 29, 2016   Lawyer Zhang Kai was taken into police custody in Wenzhou on August 25, 2015. He was placed in residential surveillance in a designated location for six months, after which he appeared on Chinese television to make a “confession” on February 25. Zhang, 37, appeared thin and haggard, and his hair made him look like a concentration camp prisoner. We still don’t know what kind of ordeal he suffered during those six months. Looking at the language used in his “confession,” which was delivered in the tone and style of the official media, viewers were left feeling that he had been forced to read from a script prepared for him by the authorities. On February 28, Zhang Kai’s […]


By Yaxue Cao and Pastor L, published: December 15, 2015 This interview was conducted on November 23, 2015.   Yaxue Cao (YC): Paster L, I interviewed you in late July at the height of the Chinese government’s cross-removal campaign. The campaign of demolishing churches and removing crosses had lasted a year and half by then, and several large churches were destroyed. One estimate had it that up to 1,500 crosses were dismantled across Zhejiang Province. But since August and September, there hasn’t been much news about cross removals. Has it stopped?   Pastor L:  It has for the time being, but the suppression has not, and is very much ongoing. Since August and September, the authorities have changed their strategies and methods. They are accusing […]


A Report by the Initium Media, published: August 31, 2015 Zhang Kai (张凯), a prominent Chinese rights lawyer who has been living for a year among Christians in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, and assisting in their litigation against the government’s encroachments, disappeared with his assistant on Aug. 25. They are understood to have been taken into custody by the authorities in relation to Zhang’s legal work. On Aug. 27, Chinese lawyer Yang Xinquan (杨兴权), director of Beijing Xinqiao Law Firm and Zhang Kai’s employer, posted the following report of Zhang’s legal activities in Wenzhou. He also announced that he was establishing a legal group for Zhang’s defense, much like the many which Zhang established to defend Christians when he was free. — The Editors    Zhang Kai, a […]


By China Change, published: August 7, 2015   The ongoing forced demolition of crosses, and in some cases entire churches, taking place in Zhejiang is an extraordinary occurrence: the Chinese government appears determined to remove all traces of the symbol of Christianity in the public realm, with no regard to the antagonism it is provoking among at least two millions of Christians in one of China’s most prosperous provinces. All signs indicate that the attack on the cross is just the beginning of a plan to rein in the rapid-growing number of Christians across the country. In response to the church demolition and cross removal, Bishop Zhu Weifang (朱维方) of the Wenzhou parish published a letter a year ago titled “Believe, and Fear Not – […]


By Yaxue Cao, published: July 29, 2015 Yaxue spoke with Pastor L in Wenzhou on July 26.   YC: I began paying attention to the demolition of churches and tearing-down of crosses in Zhejiang last year after reading many international media reports on the demolition of the Sanjiang Church (三江教堂) in Wenzhou. Recently there’s been a resurgence of cross-removals, and the daily news items and images of this are quite shocking. It seems the Chinese government is determined to tear down every cross in Zhejiang! I’ve also read the statements issued both this year and last year by clergy and believers in Zhejiang, including from churches that are acknowledged and even, to a certain degree, led by the Chinese government, such as the statement from […]


By Yaxue Cao, January 15, 2013 An exile returns to his 86-year-old mother and family.                                                                                                                                                                                          In the morning of November 27, 2012, after tweeting “Good morning, tweeps!” to his friends on Twitter, Mr. […]


Around 1 p.m. this afternoon People’s Daily reported that a 300 meter section of high-speed railway collapsed in Hubei province, possibly because of heavy rains. As far as I can tell from the media reports, no one was injured or killed (although it does not say so explicitly). The strange part about this report though, is that the collapse happened Friday afternoon. Why was there a delay? Odds are that this was caused by the ongoing meetings in Beijing that typically prefer only positive news during their sessions. The same day as the collapse, officials assured the public that China would be pushing forward with it’s planned high-speed rails despite “some mistakes.” Even though there was no loss of life in this collapse, tragedy seems to have […]


Caging a Monster by Murong Xuecun is one of the most compelling cases I have seen made about the state of modern China, and what needs to be done to save it. Make sure you read this. Insight: Tibetans in China seek a fiery way out of despair, by Sui-Lee Wee at Reuters, focuses on the ongoing string of self-immolations happening in Tibet’s religious community and the act of suicide from a Buddhist perspective. Women in China: The sky’s the limit, from the Economist, examines women’s role in the Chinese work place, and explores the differences between types of companies (SEO vs. Multinationals). The piece also looks at how family life is effected by changes in the work place. A credit crisis in China’s most enterprising city […]


Today my co-worker informed me that she would be sending her 14 year-old son to study in New Zealand, and she was understandably sad about it. For the last year he has struggled to meet the school’s standards, but has been left behind by teachers who care more about their own performance bonuses than helping him reach his potential. He is a good kid, who simply does not fit the model of Chinese education. His family feels like there are no decent choices for educating him in China, but hate to be separated. My co-worker revealed part of the problem when she explained that every night he’s given hours of homework focused on memorizing answers. He doesn’t see the point, and she doesn’t either. After […]


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 […]


My office’s usually chipper intern (the same one whose budget we looked at last week) surprised me on the way to lunch today when she told me she was in a bad mood. “Our society has too many problems everywhere,” she told me in English before launching into Chinese, she had seen an old woman pick food out of the garbage can on her way to work this morning. Later she told me of seeing a patient fight with a doctor over a medical bill that he couldn’t afford. The metro crash to her wasn’t so much a wake up call as it was a painful reminder of all the problems facing Chinese society. “In society, we are powerless to change,” she said loudly enough […]


Continued from yesterday  When life satisfaction disconnects from GDP growth, it has to be met in other ways to ensure the Party’s rule, and I believe we are approaching that moment. Today we will be looking at some of those options. Note: while I do not have access to a crystal ball, I’m putting time frames on these issues to emphasize that these are not things that will be changed instantly, and to clarify the order in which they may happen. Lowering Costs (The Present) The Party knows that even though many Chinese people are far richer than their parents, many of them still cannot afford many of the basic appliances that can improve living standards. This is why the gov’t offers generous subsidies to […]


People’s daily and other state news sources have been pointing to the influence of Weibo as a sign of China’s shift toward democracy (here and here), but is social media really creating a more just China? Note: Weibo is a Chinese networking site, something like a combination of Twitter, Facebook and a blog. It is also carefully monitored by gov’t censors (a.k.a. internet police) for stories on sensitive topics, and imposes keyword bans. One way that Weibo is contributing to the development of democracy in China, is that it has helped introduce the idea that the gov’t should actually listen to its people. Weibo has accomplished this largely because it has given common people a way of airing grievances in a public forum. In the past […]


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