Archive for October, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

Zeng Jinyan Seeks Ways around Firewall

Zeng Jinyan (曾金燕), her daughter Baobao, and her mother in law had the regular monthly meeting with Ms Zeng’s husband Hu Jia (胡佳) on Wednesday afternoon (local time in Beijing). Hu Jia’s viral load has increased substantially, writes Zeng Jinyan – her husband suffers from hepatitis b. When the prison staff noticed the load rise’s effects, they took Mr Hu to the prison’s hospital. Hu Jia caught a cold more than two months ago and hasn’t been able to shrug it off so far.  Conditions in prison don’t offer the basic conditions needed for the recovery of a hepatitis patient, notes Ms Zeng, and adds that September 26 marked halftime of her husband’s prison term.

Zeng Jinyan’s Wednesday blog post with the information above consists of messages from Seesmic or Twitter . Ms Zeng recently had difficulties with getting over the Great Firewall and reaching websites censored by the Chinese authorities. Obviously, this included problems with accessing her own blog, too. She found ways around the internet blockade on Wednesday.

Censorship – Beijing’s Latest Updates, October 5, 2009
More Posts about Zeng Jinyan and Hu Jia »

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Xinhua: Go, tell it from Global Local Sticks TV

David Bandurski of the China Media Project in Hong Kong offers a review of Xinhua’s – i.e. the CCP’s – global information strategy. The recent “World Media Summit” in Beijing was an act of statecraft, writes Bandurski, and quotes a Chinese media scholar:

Many local television stations are willing to use news from Xinhua News Agency. Right now that means text and image. In the future it will mean video material as well, because Xinhua News Agency is a news copy provider that “can maintain its grasp politically.” “There are a lot of people at Xinhua News Agency who really understand politics, who really understand [China’s] national circumstances. When these people produce news, it will be more grounded.”

Wu Jincai (吴锦才), Xinhua‘s deputy editor-in-chief, is also extensively quoted by Bandurski: Xinhua intends to increase the proportion of local hires for its local news bureaus. Bandurski asks how much these will observe the CCP’s propaganda discipline.

The propaganda model isn’t new. The now defunct USIA (U.S. Information Agency) had a similar policy. It offered pre-produced programs to local stations around the world.

Many local stations in America and Europe are cheap. Some in Northern Germany sound more like continuous gambling agencies than like radio – they will phone you, and if you pick up the phone saying “I’m listening to [radio station’s name]”, you will instantly earn 50,000 Euros, or so the DJ says. Many radio stations (and arguably television stations, too) will gladly re-broadcast Xinhua contents without asking questions, so long as they will be for free.

Awareness of such business patterns is part of media literacy, a content which is becoming fashionable in our schools, but basically as a topic teaching students how to use a computer. That often amounts to carrying coals to Newcastle – many students are much more computer-savvy than their teachers. But the topic could become important if it broadens its scope. Listeners, watchers and readers should be able to reflect on what they hear and watch. If that’s the case, let Xinhua be Xinhua, and CCTV be CCTV.

What is something to worry about isn’t China’s rise to media superpowerdom, but the state of our own mainstream media. Cash-strapped newspapers with little staff and no investigative journalism, foreign radio stations funded by tax money, but often without a clue, but always ready to hire external expertiseRoland Berger has joined the station’s Deutsche Welle‘s newly-created advisory committee for economic matters, for example. (JR’s advice to the Voice: offer your staff an internship with the BBC, and let them work by their standards afterwards. Then you won’t need advisory committees.)

A lot is said about how useless mainstream media are – especially bloggers like to bash the media establishement. One can argue about what the structures of our future media should be. But we need more public radio and television, not less.

And an informed public will need independent newspapers as well. Media that write their own stories, that is, rather than buying them from propaganda agencies.


Will CCTV and Xinhua shape China’s Global Image, February 8, 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Frankfurt Book Fair: Another Triumph

… through the lense of a China Radio International (CRI) website commenter:

Dear CRI team:
With pleasure we leran about another triumph ; this time Chinese literature and other types of writing.
I do congratulate chinese authorities about the honorable guest of 2009’s Frankfurt Book fair in Germany.
We wish you more continued success.

October 16, 2009


Related: China’s Troubled Coming-Out at the Book Fair, Time, October 20, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

FEER: How Beijing Undermines Democracy Abroad

Abroad, and in Hong Kong, one might add. The Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) published an article by Christopher Walker and Sarah Cook on October 12. They refer to the Frankfurt Bookfair as the most current example of Beijing’s export of censorship, and take a global tour of other similar cases.

It’s valid criticism – both of Beijing’s policies, and of compliant  attitudes in the free world. The most important point they make is at the end of their article:

The community of democratic states must acknowledge the Chinese government’s growing media ambitions and efforts to censor beyond its borders. Acquiescence in this challenge will only embolden the Chinese authorities.

It’s right to do business with China. But it’s wrong to do seek business with China at all costs. Opportunism only pays for the short term.

Thanks to C.A. Yeung for pointing to the  FEER story.


Related: Will CCTV and Xinhua shape China’s Global Image, February 8, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Frankfurt Book Fair: Unharmonious Finale

China’s Communist Party might start a list of martyrs in Germany: there were those reshuffles at the Voice of Germany last year, and now, Peter Ripken, one of the Frankfurt Book Fair managers, has been fired for continuing coordination problems, reports Der Spiegel.

Ripken had been the International Center‘s manager since 2003. The Center is a cooperation between the book fair and the foreign office. Chinese dissident author Dai Qing was told by Ripken last week that she wasn’t scheduled to speak there on a final reception on Sunday.

A witch hunt? I don’t think so. Last month, Mr Ripken told China’s Global Times, concerning Dai Qing and Bei Ling, that

“We have withdrawn the invitation” […] “But one of the writers has been granted a visa from the German Foreign Ministry. My colleague is now negotiating with Beijing.” “The German media is overacting on this issue,” he added.

Holy shit.

It may be worth some thoughts if Dai Qing has been treated too much as a VIP in recent weeks. After all, she isn’t the only person who can speak for China.

But if Ripken really worked so hard to keep her out, it’s right to see him off. It’s bad enough that the CPC censors Chinese media and events. There is no need to help them with their dirty work in our place.

Monday, October 19, 2009

It’s Hard to be Good in Shanghai

Reportedly, traffic law enforcement officials (交通执法人员) in Shanghai’s Minhang District (上海闵行区, central-western Shanghai) and in Pudong (上海浦东新区) acted as pedestrians in urgent need of help and asked private car owners or drivers of company vehicles to give them a ride home, or to other destinations. When the drivers agreed, they were accused of earning money as “black cabs” (黑车).

The trapping practise has apparently been a topic since 2008, and currently, the stories are emerging in China’s foreign-language press, too. Shanghai Daily reports the case of Sun Zhongjie (孙中界), a 18 or 19-year old migrant worker from Henan Province, working as a company minibus driver who reportedly reacted to the charges of illegally transporting passengers by cutting off part of a finger.

Shanghai’s authorities decline to disclose the identities of the officials – or their contractors – who act as hitchhikers. In September, a division captain told television reporters that  the tactic in cleaning up illegal cabs were job secrets that could not be divulged. A journalist with Southern Metropolis Daily (南方都市报), Zhou Junsheng (周俊生) writes today that all it would take to clarify the cases is a fair and completely transparent investigation. He also sees an improved (but still ambiguous) attitude from the Shanghai authorities, compared with the previous arrogance shown by the traffic enforcement division.

But so far, the authorities still seem to reverse the burden of proof on the accused. The number of cases to date isn’t really clear, but according to a EastSouthWestNorth translation, Zhang Jun has contacted several other private car owners who have encountered the same experience.

While Sun is a migrant worker from Henan, another accused, Zhang Jun (张军, name apparently made anonymous), who drove a car with a license plate from Anhui Province, works for a foreign-invested company.

Zhang reportedly chose an Anhui license plate because it was much cheaper than one from Shanghai. But according to Anhui Radio (安徽广播网), he is a New Shanghairen (新上海人), a newly-registered permanent resident (现拥有上海户口).

People from outer province are probably more inclined to help others (or more reluctant to deny a request) than Shanghai natives. That makes them easier victims.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

JR’s Little Riddle

guidance at the grassroots

guidance at the grassroots

If you have become obsessed by the question what the circuit inspection team of the Central Committee of CPC (中央第四巡回检查组) is, Xinhua News Agency is here to answer your question. A circuit inspection team – or, more elegantly translated – a mobile inspection team inspects and guides the in-depth study and practice activities of scientific development (对深入学习实践科学发展观活动进行检查指导).

The Central Mobile Team no. One was in Tianjin from July 29 to 31, for example, and now or recently, the Central Mobile Team no. Four was in Qinghai Province (青海省), lead by Zhang Weiqing and Mao Linkun (毛林坤). They also went to the grassroots there (i. e. to the city of Ledu (乐都) to inspect and guide the situation of the implementation of study and practice activities (深入基层指导检查学习实践活动的开展情况).

But why did one of the participants (to the right) in the activity disappear behind his papers? See for yourselves:

raising his documents

he's raising his documents

keeping them raised

and keeps them raised


so that he's almost invisible

But what does this mean?

Is he too modest to appear on television?
Does his wife suppose him to be somewhere else?
Is his family unaware of his party membership?
Is he blowing his nose with the documents?

Please send your assumptions, rumors, and state secrets to

The JR Intelligence Service
Human Motivation Search Department

Thank you for your cooperation. The best answer might get a prize, if JR is in the mood.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Shishou Court jails Five after June Riots

石首市 Shishou People’s Court, Hunan Province, has handed down jail sentences from 2.5 to five years on Saturday, against five defendants who were allegedly involved in the Shishou riots of June this year.

The riots had started after the death of Tu Yuangao (涂远高), a twenty-four year old chef at Shishou’s Yonglongda Hotel (永隆大酒店). He had been found in front of the hotel, and official findings suggested that he had committed suicide by leaping from a high buidling (apparently a reference to the hotel building itself).

Tu’s relatives doubted the findings, and accused the authorities of untimely cremating his body, thus eliminating evidence. In contrast, the authorities’ version was that Tu’s relatives had declined an autopsy, which police had actually urged for.

Protests and riots, reportedly with tens of thousands participating at peak times, started during the following days. The authorities accused relatives of Tu, among them his cousin (elder female cousin, 堂姐) Tu Xiaoyu (涂晓玉) and his older brother Tu Yuanhua (涂远华) of “organizing and instigating trouble” (“组织、煽动闹事”), with the goal of enforcing compensation from the hotel, i. e. Tu Yuangao’s former employer.

Official statistics counted 62 injured police officers, sixteen damaged or destroyed police cars, fire or other damage on the sites of Yonglong Hotel, Shishou Disease Control Center (probably the site of the crematory), and Bijiashan Police station (笔架山派出所).

There were rumors that Tu Yuangao had been killed, and thrown from a window of the hotel so as to make his death look like suicide, and others which alleged that hotel stakeholders had been involved in drug trafficking. The allegation was denied by the local government.

Xinhua reportedly quotes a municipal party committee official from Jingzhou (荆州市) as saying that as the riots erupted along with Tu Yuangao’s unnatural death, Shishou’s former municipal committee secretary (or party secretary Zhong Ming (钟鸣) didn’t become aware of the details of the death case details in time, and therefore didn’t handle it with the ideal timing (错过了事件处置的最佳时间).

Zhong Ming lost his job along with municipal party committee permanent committee member Tang Dunwu (唐敦武) in July.

Tu Yuangao’s family obtained a  RMB 80,000, compensation, jointly paid by the Yonglongda Hotel, the Shishou city government, and Gaojimiao town government (高基庙镇政府).

The Global Times understands that an autopsy and X-rays and tests for poisons carried out by experts from the Ministry of Public Security and Tongji Medical Institute showed Tu committed suicide.

Among the five defendants given a jail term is Tu Xiaoyu, while Tu Yuanhua is among the five defendants either exempted from jail, or on probation (而涂远华等五人则被判处有期徒刑缓刑或被免予刑事处罚).

This information is based on the BBC’s report of today, if not linked otherwise.


The Social Mosaic of Shishou, EastSouthWestNorth, July 31, 2009

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