Books

06.13.18

Censored

Margaret E. Roberts
Princeton University Press: As authoritarian governments around the world develop sophisticated technologies for controlling information, many observers have predicted that these controls would be ineffective because they are easily thwarted and evaded by savvy Internet users. In Censored, Margaret Roberts demonstrates that even censorship that is easy to circumvent can still be enormously effective. Taking advantage of digital data harvested from the Chinese Internet and leaks from China’s Propaganda Department, this book sheds light on how and when censorship influences the Chinese public.Roberts finds that much of censorship in China works not by making information impossible to access but by requiring those seeking information to spend extra time and money for access. By inconveniencing users, censorship diverts the attention of citizens and powerfully shapes the spread of information. When Internet users notice blatant censorship, they are willing to compensate for better access. But subtler censorship, such as burying search results or introducing distracting information on the web, is more effective because users are less aware of it. Roberts challenges the conventional wisdom that online censorship is undermined when it is incomplete and shows instead how censorship’s porous nature is used strategically to divide the public.Drawing parallels between censorship in China and the way information is manipulated in the United States and other democracies, Roberts reveals how Internet users are susceptible to control even in the most open societies. Demonstrating how censorship travels across countries and technologies, Censored gives an unprecedented view of how governments encroach on the media consumption of citizens.{chop}

Conversation

05.11.18

Do American Companies Need to Take a Stance on Taiwan?

J. Michael Cole, Frances Kitt & more
China’s airline regulator recently sent a letter to 36 international air carriers requiring them to remove from their websites references implying that Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau are not part of China. In a surprisingly direct May 5 statement, the...

How China Managed to Play Censor at a Conference on U.S. Soil

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
Foreign Policy
The Beijing-backed Confucius Institute offers much-needed money to American universities — but with strings attached.

Peppa Pig, Subversive Symbol of the Counterculture, in China Video Site Ban

Benjamin Haas
Guardian
The latest subversive symbol in China is a small pink cartoon pig: Peppa Pig to be precise.

The Demise of Watchdog Journalism in China

Helen Gao
New York Times
As unfettered capitalism reached a fever pitch in China in the early 2000s, a boom in investigative journalism was hailed as the most salient example of growing citizen power.

China Wages War on Apps Offering News and Jokes

The Economist
Economist
At the end of last year Bytedance, one of China’s most talked-about technology firms, seemed to have the world at its feet.

Conversation

04.18.18

A Ban on Gay Content, Stopped in Its Tracks

Siodhbhra Parkin, Steven Jiang & more
On April 13, China’s major microblogging platform Sina Weibo announced that, in order to create “a sunny and harmonious” environment, it would remove videos and comics “with pornographic implications, promoting bloody violence, or related to...

Conversation

04.11.18

China’s Communist Party Takes (Even More) Control of the Media

Stanley Rosen, Chris Fenton & more
China’s Communist Party made moves last month to solidify and formalize its (already substantial) control over the country’s media. China’s main state-run broadcasters are to be consolidated into a massive new “Voice of China” under the management...

Reports

03.13.18

Forbidden Feeds: Government Controls on Social Media in China

PEN America
PEN International
Based on extensive interviews with writers, poets, artists, activists, and others personally affected by the government’s grip on online expression, as well as interviews with anonymous employees at Chinese social media companies, this report lays...

Media

03.08.18

Weibo Whack-a-Mole

King-wa Fu, Channing Huang & more from Weiboscope
China might be the world’s second-largest economy, and have more Internet users than any other country, but each year it is ranked as the nation that enjoys the least Internet freedom among the 65 sample nations scored by the U.S.-based Freedom...

The Brands That Kowtow to China

Richard Bernstein from New York Review of Books
There’s been no joking as the apologies to China have come thick and fast in recent weeks, issued not by teenage singers but by some of the largest and richest multinational corporations in the world—the German luxury car manufacturer Daimler, the...

Why China Is Censoring Winnie the Pooh—and the Letter ‘N’

Natasha Bach
Fortune
Chinese President Xi Jinping has had a fruitful five plus years in his current position.

Sinica Podcast

03.01.18

Can Chinese Journalists Criticize the Party-State?

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Outside observers typically view China’s media as utterly shackled by the bonds of censorship, unable to critique the government or speak truth to power in any meaningful sense. In part, this is true. Censorship and other pressures do create “no-go...

Viewpoint

02.15.18

A Clash of Cyber Civilizations

Geoffrey Hoffman
There has been little need for the term “cyber sovereignty” among democratic states: the Internet, by its nature, operates under an aegis of freedom and cooperation. However, as the international system slips away from American unipolarity, a...

Germany’s Daimler Issues ‘Full Apology’ to China over Dalai Lama

BBC
Daimler has issued a second emphatic apology to China after its subsidiary, Mercedes Benz, quoted the Dalai Lama in an Instagram post on Monday.

China Confirms Detention of Hong Kong Bookseller Snatched from Train

Te-Ping Chen
Wall Street Journal
China confirmed it was holding Swedish citizen Gui Minhai and that he would be dealt with according to Chinese law, as Stockholm stepped up criticism of Beijing for its “brutal” treatment of the Hong Kong bookseller.

How WeChat Came to Rule China

Shannon Liao
Verge
China’s most popular messaging app, WeChat, has always had a close relationship with the Chinese government. The app has been subsidized by the government since its creation in 2011, and it’s an accepted reality that officials censor and monitor...

Media

01.24.18

China’s Animated Underbelly

Jonathan Landreth from China Film Insider
A tousled-haired young man in a third-tier Chinese city is desperate to fix the botched plastic surgery done on his fiancée’s face. At knifepoint, he steals a satchel of one million yuan from a local gangster, setting off a chain-reaction of greed...

‘Me Too,’ Chinese Women Say. Not so Fast, Say the Censors.

Javier C. Hernández and Zoe Mou
New York Times
They call themselves “silence breakers,” circulate petitions demanding investigations into sexual harassment and share internet memes like clenched fists with painted nails.

China Disrupts Global Companies’ Web Access as Censorship Bites

Yuan Yang and Lucy Hornby
Financial Times
Groups fear being forced to use expensive VPN software surveilled by Beijing.

France Couple in China Unreachable After Liu Xiaobo Tribute

BBC
BBC
Hu Jiamin and Marine Brossard painted a mural showing an empty blue chair at an art exhibition in Shenzhen last week.

China's Real-Life Magic Realism of 2017, According to Chinese Netizens

Zheping Huang
Quartz
In China, the term is beloved by netizens who use it when surfacing the absurd in political and social phenomena they witness daily.

Conversation

12.06.17

Apple in China: WTF?

Samuel Wade, Shaun Rein & more
In November, the non-profit watchdog Freedom House called China “the worst abuser of Internet freedom” of the 65 countries it surveyed. And yet, on December 3, Apple CEO Tim Cook keynoted China’s annual World Internet Conference. “The theme of this...

Will Tech Firms Challenge China’s ‘Open’ Internet?

Robin Brant
BBC
China has been smart and ruthless in its control of the internet within its borders. It blocks some foreign sites altogether and it censors - heavily - what Chinese are allowed to see.

China's Evicting Mentions of Its "Low-End" Migrants from Cyberspace

Quartz
First Beijing pushed thousands of migrant workers out of the city in the name of safety. Now authorities are carrying out a parallel virtual eviction as well, removing references to China’s “low-end population” from the internet.

U.S. Congress Urged to Require Chinese Journalists to Register as Agents

David Brunnstrom
Reuters
A report to the U.S. Congress released on Wednesday accused Chinese state media entities of involvement in spying and propaganda and said their staff in the United States should be required to register as foreign agents.

Taiwan Boosts Cyber Defences Against Threat from China

Edward White
Financial Times
Taiwan’s ruling party is bolstering its cyber defences after hacking attacks that have raised fears that groups linked to the Chinese government plan to influence elections.

Viewpoint

11.03.17

The Future of Particle Physics Will Live and Die in China

Yangyang Cheng from Foreign Policy
“Don’t you dare kill my project.”My phone interview with a senior official at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) had started with bland, yet polite, responses. But it took a sharp turn toward audible agitation and hostility as I raised my final...

Life Is about to Get Even Harder for Foreign Media in China

Charlotte Gao
Diplomat
It is widely known that foreign journalists encounter various strict restrictions when reporting on China — particularly since Chinese President Xi Jinping came into office five years ago. But China just sent another strong message to the “trouble-...

Diplomat's China Speech Renews Australia University Debate

BBC
BBC
Australia's education minister has urged universities to maintain academic integrity after a diplomat renewed a discussion about possible Chinese influence on campuses...

In China, Scholars Are Being Punished amid Growing Squeeze on Public Expression

Anthony Kuhn
NPR
In late July, Beijing Normal University authorities fired Shi Jiepeng, an assistant professor, citing a number of offenses, including "expressing views outside the mainstream of society."...

Touching on History, a Chinese Film May Have Been Burned by It

Chris Buckley
New York Times
One of China’s most popular directors, Feng Xiaogang, was determined to triumph at the box office with the release of his new film “Youth” during the weeklong National Day holiday. But then Mr. Feng’s premiere was abruptly canceled.

China Lifts Travel Ban on Feminist Activist

Emily Feng
Financial Times
A Chinese feminist activist who was banned from leaving mainland China for a decade has been given back her travel documents and allowed to travel. Wu Rongrong will fly to Hong Kong on Sunday, where she will begin a post-graduate degree in law.

Google Continues to Hire in China Even as Search Remains Blocked

David Ramli
Bloomberg
Google’s search service may be banned in China but parent Alphabet Inc. is hunting for workers in a further sign it has ambitions in the world’s biggest internet market.

Beijing’s Bold New Censorship

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
Authoritarians, in China and elsewhere, normally have preferred to dress their authoritarianism up in pretty clothes. Lenin called the version of dictatorship he invented in 1921 “democratic centralism,” but it became clear, especially after Stalin...

In China You Now Have to Provide Your Real Identity If You Want to Comment Online

Nikhil Sonnad
Quartz
The Chinese government under president Xi Jinping is continuing to make life on the internet difficult for its potential detractors. Yesterday (Aug. 25), the country’s highest internet regulator released new rules that govern who...

‘China Quarterly’ Publisher Restores Articles Following Backlash from Scholars

Leslie Cook
NPR
The British publisher of an academic journal has reversed a decision to take down hundreds of articles from its Chinese website. In a statement released Monday, Cambridge University Press said it’s reposting the more than 300 articles to The China...

Viewpoint

08.22.17

Burn the Books, Bury the Scholars!

Geremie R. Barmé
Chinese censorship has come a long way. During his rule in the second century B.C.E., the First Emperor of a unified China, Ying Zheng, famously quashed the intellectual diversity of his day by ‘burning the books and burying the scholars’. He not...

Chinese Activist Jiang Tianyong's Subversion Trial Dismissed as Sham

Tom Phillips
Guardian
China’s Communist party–controlled media claimed Jiang — whose past clients include activists such as the exiled dissident lawyer Chen Guangcheng — had confessed to the crime of ”inciting subversion of state power”. 

Conversation

08.21.17

Should Publications Compromise to Remain in China?

Margaret Lewis, Andrew J. Nathan & more
The prestigious “China Quarterly will continue to publish articles that make it through our rigorous double-blind peer review regardless of topic or sensitivity,” wrote editor Tim Pringle on Monday after days of intense criticism of the brief-lived...

Cambridge University Press Faces Backlash after Bowing to China Censorship Pressure

Washington Post
Cambridge University Press announced Friday it had removed 300 articles and book reviews from a version of the “China Quarterly” website available in China at the request of the government.

Facebook Tests Way Into China Via Secret Photo—Sharing App

Yuan Yang
Financial Times
A photo—sharing app has appeared on Apple’s App Store in China that looks exactly like Facebook’s Moments app, and analysts say it may be a way for the US tech group to finally break into its most coveted market.

In China, Facebook Tests the Waters with a Stealth App

New York Times
Facebook and many of its apps have been blocked in China for years. To change that, Mark Zuckerberg has made a big point of meeting with Chinese politicians, reading stodgy Communist Party propaganda, studying Mandarin and—perhaps more daunting—...

Facebook’s Secret Chinese App Is a Dud in China So Far

Quartz
Over the weekend the New York Times reported (paywall) that Facebook had stealthily released a photo-sharing app in the Chinese iOS App Store translated as “Colorful Balloons.” The news spread rapidly around English-language media, as it marked the...

Holes close in China’s ’Great Firewall’ as Apple and Amazon snub apps to bypass censors

Los Angeles Times
Moves by business giants Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. to stop people from using censorship-skirting apps in China have renewed questions about the extent to which U.S. companies are willing to work with authorities to operate in the vast but...

Books

08.01.17

Globalization against Democracy

Guoguang Wu
Globalization has reconfigured both the external institutional framework and the intrinsic operating mechanisms of capitalism. The global triumph of capitalism implies the embracing of the market by the state in all its variants, and that global capitalism is not confined to the shell of nation-state democracy. Guoguang Wu provides a theoretical framework of global capitalism for specialists in political economy, political science, economics, and international relations, for graduate and undergraduate courses on globalization, capitalism, development, and democracy, as well as for the public who are interested in globalization. Wu examines the new institutional features of global capitalism and how they re-frame movements of capital, labor, and consumption. He explores how globalization has created a chain of connection in which capital depends on effective authoritarianism, while democracy depends on capital. Ultimately, he argues that the emerging state-market nexus has fundamentally shaken the existing institutional systems, harming democracy in the process. —Cambridge University Press{chop}

Joining Apple, Amazon’s China Cloud Service Bows to Censors

Paul Mozur
New York Times
Days after Apple yanked anti-censorship tools off its app store in China, another major American technology company is moving to implement the country’s tough restrictions on online content.

Chinese Blogger Sorry after Essay Slamming Beijingers’ ‘Fake’ Lives Goes Viral and Is Censored

Eva Li
South China Morning Post
Widely-read blog criticized by state media after it lists complaints about soaring property prices, crowded subways and lack of human warmth in the capital

China Clamping down on Use of VPNs to Evade Great Firewall

CNBC
China is tightening control over foreign companies’ internet use in a move some worry might disrupt their operations or jeopardize trade secrets as part of a crackdown on technology that allows web surfers to evade Beijing’s online censorship.

In China, Despair for Cause of Democracy after Nobel Laureate’s Death

New York Times
Now, the ruling Communist Party’s feverish attempts to erase Mr. Liu Xiaobo’s legacy have raised fears that Mr. Xi will intensify his campaign against activists pushing for ideas like freedom of speech and religion.

Liu Xiaobo’s Death Pushes China’s Censors into Overdrive

New York Times
It came as little surprise when, after the death of the dissident Liu Xiaobo last week, China’s vast army of censors kicked into overdrive as they scrubbed away the outpouring of grief on social media that followed.

Tycoon’s Claims Reverberate in China Despite Censorship and Thin Evidence

Chris Buckley
New York Times
Since taking office, President Xi Jinping has cultivated an aura of austere probity and stern control. But now a garrulous billionaire living in a lavish apartment in Manhattan, taunting the authorities beyond the easy grasp of Chinese security...

Sinica Podcast

06.23.17

Islamophobia in China, Explained

Kaiser Kuo, Alice Y. Su & more from Sinica Podcast
Islamophobia isn’t a phenomenon limited to Trump’s America or the Europe of Brexit and Marine Le Pen. It has taken root in China, too—in a form that bears a striking resemblance to what we’ve seen in recent years in the West. The Chinese Party-state...

Media

06.21.17

American Universities in China: Free Speech Bastions or Threats to Academic Freedom?

Eric Fish from Asia Blog
In 1986, Johns Hopkins University opened a study center in Nanjing University, making it the first American institution of higher education allowed to establish a physical presence in China during the Communist era. Since then, dozens of other...

‘Islamic State Killings: China’s Censored Social Media Is in Uproar, so What’s Beijing Thinking?

Coco Liu
South China Morning Post
The deaths of two Chinese prompt widespread calls for retribution. Beijing, seeking favour in the region with its Belt and Road Initiative, remains curiously silent.

Have a Nice Day, Chinese Gangster Animation, Blocked in France

Stephen McDonelll
BBC
The makers of a cutting-edge Chinese film that was pulled from the world's premier animation festival following government pressure from Beijing say they still hope the movie will get a run in cinemas at home later this year...

China Compiles Its Own ‘Wikipedia,’ but Public Can’t Edit It

LOUISE WATT
Seattle Times
It’ll be free. It’ll be uniquely Chinese. It’ll be an online encyclopedia to rival Wikipedia — but without the participation of the public. And don’t expect entries on “Tiananmen Square 1989” or “Falun Gong spiritual group” to come up in your...

Should the Chinese Government Be in American Classrooms?

Richard Bernstein from New York Review of Books
Since their beginning in 2005, Confucius Institutes (CIs) have been set up to teach Chinese language classes in more than 100 American colleges and universities, including large and substantial institutions like Rutgers University, the State...

Liberating China’s Past

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
With the closing of this month’s National People’s Congress, China’s political season is upon us. It will culminate in the autumn with Xi Jinping’s almost certain reappointment to another five-year term. With Xi rapidly becoming the most important...

For a Change, China’s Censors Have No Problem with “Gay Moment” in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”

Echo Huang
Quartz
Unlike other Asian countries, China says it has absolutely no problem with a plotline involving a possibly gay character in Disney’s re-boot of Beauty and the Beast.