Facebook’s Return to China Thrown into Doubt

BBC
The company, like all major US tech platforms, has been blocked in the country since 2009. Facebook said on Wednesday it had secured a licence to set up an “innovation hub to support Chinese developers, innovators and start-ups”. But 24 hours later...

‘Ruling Through Ritual’: An Interview with Guo Yuhua

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Guo Yuhua is one of China’s best-known sociologists and most incisive government critics. A professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, she has devoted her career to researching human suffering in Chinese society, especially that of peasants, the...

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}

In China, Photo of Trade Talks Embodies ‘Young’ Country Passing Aging U.S.

Raymond Zhong
New York Times
A distinct age gap between Chinese delegates and American lawmakers.

Gap Apologizes for Selling T-Shirt with 'Incorrect Map' of China

Reuters Staff
Reuters
Disputed territories including south Tibet, Taiwan and the South China Sea were omitted.

A Documentary Reveals the Dangerous Fickleness of Online Fame in China

Christina Larson
Slate
In The People’s Republic of Desire, Hao Wu films the lonely shadows where the lines between online and offline dissolve.

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...

Alibaba Opens Car Vending Machine in China That Gives Free Test Drives for People with Good Social Credit

Thuy Ong
Verge
Alibaba and Ford signed a deal to form a partnership last year that would see both companies working together on new technological opportunities.

A Reporter Rolled Her Eyes, and China’s Internet Broke

Paul Mozur
New York Times
A reporter's eye-roll at China's legislature meeting went viral...

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...

China Chides Tech Firms over Privacy Safeguards

CNBC
China reprimanded three top tech firms on Friday over poor privacy protections, as tech companies face an increasing backlash from consumers and authorities over excessive data collection practices.

Chinese boy with frozen hair reignites poverty debate

BBC
An eight-year-old Chinese pupil, dubbed "Ice Boy" by social media users after images emerged of him arriving at school with swollen hands and frost on his hair and eyebrows, has sparked renewed discussion online about child poverty...

China's Social Media Giants Want Their Users to Help out with the Crushing Burden of Censorship

Quartz
China’s social media giants are ramping up efforts to get their users to turn in people circulating taboo content, as the Communist Party further tightens its grip on the country’s internet.

Reports

12.12.17

Central Planning, Local Experiments

Mareike Ohlberg, Shazeda Ahmed, Bertram Lang
Shazeda Ahmed & Bertram Lang
Mercator Institute for China Studies
The “Social Credit System” is designed to monitor and rate citizens and companies in China and to guide their behavior. “It is a wide-reaching project that touches on almost all aspects of everyday life,” the authors Mareike Ohlberg, Bertram Lang,...

Skype Vanishes from App Stores in China, Including Apple’s

Paul Mozur
New York Times
For almost a month, Skype, the internet phone call and messaging service, has been unavailable on a number of sites where apps are downloaded in China, including Apple’s app store in the country.

Chinese Social Media Giant Is Worth More Than Facebook

Daniel Shane
CNN
Tencent shares closed more than 2% higher in Hong Kong on Tuesday, valuing the social media and gaming giant at around $522 billion, according to FactSet. Facebook is currently worth a little over $519 billion.

In China, Trading Begins on WeChat

Lianting Tu and Carrie Hong
Bloomberg
Regulators elsewhere may be clamping down on the financial industry’s use of private messaging apps, but in the world’s second-largest economy the practice is flourishing.

Facebook Blocks Chinese Billionaire Who Tells Tales of Corruption

Alexandra Stevenson
New York Times
A Chinese billionaire living in virtual exile in New York, Guo Wengui has riled China’s leaders with his sometimes outlandish tales of deep corruption among family members of top Communist Party officials.

Fame Academy, the Chinese College Offering Classes in How to Become an Internet Celebrity

Liu Zhen
South China Morning Post
Chongqing Institute of Engineering has already enrolled 19 students, mainly female, to be taught about how to present themselves online to attract viewers and translate fame into profit.

The Timing May Be Right for Facebook to Enter China next Year, Analyst Predicts

Evelyn Cheng
CNBC
A Mizuho report pointed out that Beijing tends to lessen its media scrutiny during an administration's second term, and Facebook may have “an opening” after Xi Jinping begins his second five-year term in November...

China Communist Party Youth Twitter Account Prompts Abuse

BBC
Setting up a Twitter account may seem a fairly obvious thing for a political party to do, but the step has not so far worked out too well for China’s Communist Party.

China's WeChat Crackdown Drives Bitcoin Devotees to Telegram

Lulu Yilun Chen
Bloomberg
With administrators personally liable for what is said on groups they run, users of bitcoin exchanges OKCoin, Huobi and BTCChina are migrating to services beyond the Chinese government’s reach.

Blocked in China, Facebook Is Said to Seek a Shanghai Office

Paul Mozur
New York Times
The social media giant in recent months has quietly scouted for office space in Shanghai, according to two people with knowledge of its efforts there. Those offices would house employees working on Facebook’s effort to make hardware but could also...

Wanda Sues over 'False' Reports on Chairman Wang Jianlin

Wayne Ma
Wall Street Journal
Dalian Wanda Group, the property and entertainment giant controlled by billionaire Wang Jianlin, has filed defamation suits against at least 10 Chinese social media accounts that published reports the company says sent its shares and bonds tumbling.

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.

KFC—Yes That KFC—Is Selling Its Own Smartphones in China

Cheang Ming
CNBC
Kentucky Fried Chicken celebrated its 30th anniversary of operations in China by unveiling a limited edition smartphone it had collaborated on with Chinese smartphone maker Huawei.

China, Where the Pressure to Marry Is Strong, and the Advice Flows Online

Karoline Kan
New York Times
Although women in their 20s are greatly outnumbered by men in the same age group in China, a product in part of the since-abandoned one-child family policy and a cultural preference for sons, they face enormous pressure to marry. Those who do not...

Online Gossip Clampdown in China Leads to Netizen Outcry

Yuan Yang, Yingzhi Yang
Financial Times
Chinese netizens have decried a government campaign to shut down many of the nation's top celebrity gossip outlets as Beijing escalates its control over online content...

The Classic Chinese Text That Ivanka Trump’s Kids Recited for Xi Jinping Was Long Banned in China

Zheping Huang
Quartz
For decades, Sanzijing had been banned from all public kindergartens and schools in China as the Communist regime cracked down on non-socialist ideas.

Media

04.12.17

Chinese Blame America for United Airlines

James Palmer from Foreign Policy
The video of David Dao being dragged kicking and screaming off a United Airlines flight by Chicago police set the American Internet aflame Monday. That’s not a surprise: Whether you blame the greed of American airlines or late capitalism, the video...

China and the Legend of Ivanka

Jiayang Fan
New Yorker
That such a vexed figure may serve as the role model for Chinese women who are just beginning to grapple with their identity in a society that has historically been hostile to their empowerment seems like a regression.

China’s Twitter Clone Will Soon Have More Users Than Twitter

Zheping Huang
Quartz
While Twitter is going through some rough times, Weibo, which went public in the U.S. in 2014, is thriving. In fact Weibo is on track to surpass its U.S. counterpart in one of the key metrics for social media platforms: monthly active users.

Trump’s Feminist Critics Gagged by Chinese Internet Giant Weibo

Tom Phillips
Guardian
Chinese feminists have hit out at their country’s answer to Twitter after it gagged one of their movement’s most visible social media accounts in an apparent bid to stifle criticism of U.S. president Donald Trump.

Live-Streaming in China Now Requires a Broadcast License If You’re Not a Citizen

Yvette Tan
Mashable
Live streaming is taking off in China, but foreigners won’t be able to join in the fun.

China’s Weibo Eclipses Rival Twitter’s Market Capitalization

Louise Lucas
Financial Times
Shares rally on back of Chinese social platform’s ability to monetize subscriber base

U.N. Social Media Posts Removed in China After Backlash

William Ide
Voice of America
A massive backlash on social media in China has apparently led the United Nations to take down two Lunar New Year posts on refugees and poverty from their Chinese Weibo social media site.

Chinese Send Fake Trump Tweets as Jokes, New Year Wishes

Associated Press
In China, Twitter is blocked but fake tweets by @realdonaldtrump look set to become the latest internet sensation.

Twitter China Chief Kathy Chen Departs

Wall Street Journal
Twitter Inc.’s controversial China chief has departed after only eight months, the latest executive to leave amid a global reorganization. A stream of executives has left the company since it announced layoffs in October amid continued losses...

China Warmly Welcomes a Giant Rooster With Trumpian Characteristics

Mike Ives
New York Times
Trump's golden quiff has appeared on a 23-foot tall rooster statue outside a shopping mall in the northern Chinese city of Taiyuan...

Chinese Middle Class in Uproar Over Alleged Police Brutality

Associated Press
New York Times
Thousands are signing online petitions to protest the dropping of a police brutality case, representing a rare display of white-collar outrage with Beijing

The Memes That Took Over China’s Internet in 2016

Echo Huang and Zheping Huang
Quartz
This year's most popular memes reflected a more ruthless and aggressive—but also more fragile—China...

Chinese Propaganda Video Warns of West’s “Devilish Claws”

Chris Buckley
New York Times
The video has been widely promoted online by public security offices that oversee the police, including the Ministry of Public Security

China’s Millennial Consumers: What Victoria’s Secret Got Wrong, and Nike Got Right

Helen Wang
Forbes
Chinese millennials are conflicted between their national pride and their love for western brands

Students in China Were Made to Take Exams Outdoors in Toxic Smog

Kevin Lui
Time
Widely circulated photos of the students, sitting at desks while blanketed in choking pollution, starkly dramatize the Chinese "airpocalypse"...

Drone Diplomacy

Tim Hume
Vice News
Trump's tweets at China over a drone are intensifying an already strained relationship...

China’s State Media Has Been Mocking Donald Trump’s ‘Unpresidented’ Tweet

Charlie Campbell
Time
"Trump is not behaving as a President who will become master of the White House in a month"...

Donald Trump Accuses China of 'Unpresidented' Act Over US Navy Drone

Martin Pengelly
Guardian
President-elect makes spelling error in belligerent early morning tweet; China says ‘hyping up’ of issue is not helpful but agrees return of vehicle

China’s Digital Dictatorship

Economist
Turn the spotlight on the rulers, not the ruled: Instead of rating citizens, the government should be allowing them to assess the way it rules

China is Censoring People’s Chats Without Them Even Knowing About It

Josh Horwitz
Quartz
Censorship in WeChat group chats is prevalent, and is done so that the sender isn’t even aware a piece of text has been scrubbed

Why Facebook’s China Adventure Will Need More than Censorship to Succeed

Benjamin Haas
Guardian
As social network develops tools to restrict users so China will let it in, some experts say it is ‘light years’ behind rivals already in place

Conversation

11.28.16

Should Facebook Self-Censor to Enter the Chinese Market?

Kaiser Kuo, Clay Shirky & more
The social network Facebook has reportedly developed software to suppress posts from users’ feeds in targeted geographic areas, a feature created to help the giant social media network gain access to China, where it is blocked. Facebook Chief...

'Social' Feature Turns China’s Alipay Into a Hook-up App

Josh Chin
WSJ: China Real Time Report
Alipay update leads to suggestive content flooding the typically staid financial app

Facebook Said to Create Censorship Tool to Get Back into China

Mike Isaacs
New York Times
The social network has quietly developed software to suppress posts from appearing in people’s news feeds in specific geographic areas

German Automaker Chief Removed After ‘Racist Rant’ in China

BBC
German carmaker Daimler has apologized and removed a senior executive from his job after he made racist remarks in a row over parking

Features

11.18.16

Chinese and American City-Dwellers Differ on Trump Win

Frances Hisgen
City-dwellers in China and the United States are among the greatest beneficiaries of the international trade deals President-elect Trump says he’s against, but the two groups responded differently to the outcome of the U.S. election, and the...

China Presses Tech Firms to Police the Internet

Eva Dou
Wall Street Journal
Third-annual World Internet Conference aimed at proselytizing China’s view to global audience

Media

11.09.16

Chinese, Netizens React to President-Elect Trump

Frances Hisgen & Ouyang Bin
When Donald Trump was elected president, the hashtag #TrumpWon was trending on Chinese social media. Chinese Internet users speculated about what Trump’s victory might mean for Sino-American relations, discussed the broader global implications of a...

Why Chinese Netizens Cheer Trump

Zak Dychtwald
To online 'Trump Guards,' the U.S. race pits a corrupt official against a plain-spoken outsider...

The 80-Year-Old Runway Model Reshaping China’s Views on Aging

Didi Kirsten Tatlow
New York Times
Last year, at 79, Mr. Wang walked the runway for the first time, his physique at his age causing a national sensation

A Toddler Dies as Her Mother Checks Her Phone, and China Wrings Its Hands

Owen Guo and Mike Ives
New York Times
The toddler’s death has led to an outpouring of anger on Chinese social media about the dangers of being obsessed with one’s phone