TV Song Contest Inspires Nationalist Angst

China’s hottest television show, HunanTV’s “Singer 2024,” has inspired nationalist angst after two foreign contestants took first and second place—easily besting a field that included legendary Chinese pop star Na...

The higher-ups ordered me to collect money, so that’s what I’m going to do.”

— Ji Yunhao, a deputy village Party secretary in Inner Mongolia’s Kailu County, as he threatened and tried to block local farmers from plowing their fields unless they paid him additional extortionate fees for the "privilege." After he was caught saying this on camera by a state media outlet's undercover reporting team, Ji was sacked from his position.

 

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TV Song Contest Inspires Nationalist Angst

China’s hottest television show, HunanTV’s “Singer 2024,” has inspired nationalist angst after two foreign contestants took first and second place—easily besting a field that included legendary Chinese pop star Na Ying. The show is wildly popular in part because it requires live singing without autotune or post-production touch-ups, common features of most Chinese variety television. The victory of relative unknowns Chanté Moore, an American, and Faouzia, a Moroccan-Canadian, has been called a “wakeup call for China’s music industry” by state-media tabloid Global Times. After the foreigners’...

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Amnesty International Details Transnational Repression Against Overseas Chinese Students

Transnational repression by Chinese state-affiliated actors has long targeted Tibetans, Uyghurs, Hongkongers, and members of the Chinese diaspora. One subset of these groups is Chinese overseas students, who are now the focus of Amnesty International’s latest report: “On My Campus, I Am Afraid: China’s Targeting of Overseas Students Stifles Rights.” Using in-depth interviews with 32 Chinese students, including 12 from Hong Kong, studying at universities in Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the U.K., and the U.S., the report highlights the climate and sources of...

Zhang Zhan, Citizen Journalist Who Reported on COVID Outbreak, Missing After Scheduled Release From Prison

There are mounting concerns over the well-being and whereabouts of Zhang Zhan, the former lawyer-turned-citizen-journalist whose reporting from Wuhan in early 2020 was essential to lifting the lid on the emerging COVID pandemic. After being arrested in May of 2020, Zhang served four years in prison on charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” She was scheduled to be released from prison on Monday, but there has been no news of her release, health status, or current whereabouts, sparking fears that she has been subjected to what legal scholar Jerome Cohen calls “non-release...

Chengyu For Xi Jinping’s New Era (Part 1)

Xi Jinping’s New Era has inspired the creation of a host of “new chengyu”: idiomatic, often four-character, literary expressions that are the kernel of a larger tale. The following New Era chengyu are all references to infamous incidents that have taken place within the last calendar year. Consistent with much of CDT’s 2024 coverage, the chengyu introduced below center on economic pain: impoverished farmers, distressed creditors, penny-pinching landlords—even cash-strapped police departments. Many also focus on official malfeasance: petty despotism, official greed, and wanton enforcement of...

TV Song Contest Inspires Nationalist Angst

China’s hottest television show, HunanTV’s “Singer 2024,” has inspired nationalist angst after two foreign contestants took first and second place—easily besting a field that included legendary Chinese pop star Na Ying. The show is wildly popular in part because it requires live singing without autotune or post-production touch-ups, common features of most Chinese variety television. The victory of relative unknowns Chanté Moore, an American, and Faouzia, a Moroccan-Canadian, has been called a “wakeup call for China’s music industry” by state-media tabloid Global Times. After the foreigners’...

Google, YouTube Facilitate Hong Kong Government Censorship of Protest Anthem

“Glory to Hong Kong,” a popular protest anthem of the city’s 2019 pro-democracy movement, has become a persistent target of the government’s national-security crackdown. The song contains the slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times,” which judges in Hong Kong have ruled is capable of inciting others to secession, and numerous protesters have been arrested under various laws for publicly displaying the slogan. In July 2020, the song was banned from Hong Kong schools. In September 2022, a man was arrested for sedition for playing the song on a harmonica. Later that year, the Hong...

Translation: Special One-Month Reconnaissance Operation Against “Overseas Cyber Forces”

A pair of recently surfaced screenshots appear to offer unusual detail about a special month-long operation, held in Beijing and involving over 40 Ministry of Public Security computer specialists from around the country, to combat “overseas cyber forces” in the battle for public opinion. The apparently leaked internal instructions from the Ministry of Public Security are likely to be the result of an email breach. They include the names and locations of many of the computer-specialist officers, as well as the name and contact information of the individual in charge of the operation. At some...

New eBook: China Digital Times Lexicon, 20th Anniversary Edition

On September 12, 2003, John Battelle published the first post on chinadigitaltimes.net: Here’s what a Google Search on “china weblog” yields, I’m looking forward to seeing ours at the top soon! China’s online population at the start of that year was nearly 60 million. Ten years later, it was fast approaching 600 million, and now, after 20, it is well over a billion. This new completely revised and hugely expanded update to our ebook series, formerly known as “the Grass Mud Horse Lexicon,” aims to capture something of the enormous explosion of online speech that accompanied this growth, with...

Chengyu For Xi Jinping’s New Era (Part 1)

Xi Jinping’s New Era has inspired the creation of a host of “new chengyu”: idiomatic, often four-character, literary expressions that are the kernel of a larger tale. The following New Era chengyu are all references to infamous incidents that have taken place within the last calendar year. Consistent with much of CDT’s 2024 coverage, the chengyu introduced below center on economic pain: impoverished farmers, distressed creditors, penny-pinching landlords—even cash-strapped police departments. Many also focus on official malfeasance: petty despotism, official greed, and wanton enforcement of...

TV Song Contest Inspires Nationalist Angst

China’s hottest television show, HunanTV’s “Singer 2024,” has inspired nationalist angst after two foreign contestants took first and second place—easily besting a field that included legendary Chinese pop star Na Ying. The show is wildly popular in part because it requires live singing without autotune or post-production touch-ups, common features of most Chinese variety television. The victory of relative unknowns Chanté Moore, an American, and Faouzia, a Moroccan-Canadian, has been called a “wakeup call for China’s music industry” by state-media tabloid Global Times. After the foreigners’...

Chinese Surveillance Technology Expands at Home and Abroad

Government surveillance is a ubiquitous and growing phenomenon in China. New documents issued by the Ministry of State Security last month will empower Chinese law enforcement to search electronic devices without either a warrant or an ongoing criminal investigation. Last week, Conor Healy from the news website IPVM reported on developments related to a government project that would dramatically increase state surveillance capacity in Shanghai’s Xuhui District, a central, bustling area that includes the former French Concession: A sweeping mass surveillance expansion underway in central...

Google, YouTube Facilitate Hong Kong Government Censorship of Protest Anthem

“Glory to Hong Kong,” a popular protest anthem of the city’s 2019 pro-democracy movement, has become a persistent target of the government’s national-security crackdown. The song contains the slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times,” which judges in Hong Kong have ruled is capable of inciting others to secession, and numerous protesters have been arrested under various laws for publicly displaying the slogan. In July 2020, the song was banned from Hong Kong schools. In September 2022, a man was arrested for sedition for playing the song on a harmonica. Later that year, the Hong...

Quote of the Day: Official Disposable Income Figures Derided as “Today’s Daily Dose of Humor”

On March 16, China’s National Bureau of Statistics announced that the Chinese economy was off to a good start in 2024, with reported 5.3% year-on-year GDP growth in the first quarter of the year. The better-than-expected data was touted by various Chinese state media outlets online, although many of those news posts had comment filtering enabled, perhaps in anticipation of negative or skeptical reactions from social media users. Two items in particular seemed to strike netizens as overly optimistic: the reported “nationwide average per-capita disposable income” figure of 11,539 yuan...

Human Rights

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Zhang Zhan, Citizen Journalist Who Reported on COVID Outbreak, Missing After Scheduled Release From Prison

There are mounting concerns over the well-being and whereabouts of Zhang Zhan, the former lawyer-turned-citizen-journalist whose reporting from Wuhan in early 2020 was essential to lifting the lid on the emerging COVID pandemic. After being arrested in May of 2020, Zhang served four years in prison on charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” She was scheduled to be released from prison on Monday, but there has been no news of her release, health status, or current whereabouts, sparking fears that she has been subjected to what legal scholar Jerome Cohen calls “non-release...

Politics

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Lawyers Celebrate Justice Ministry Corruption Scandals With Black Humor

The latest corruption investigation into a senior Ministry of Justice official has inspired schadenfreude among lawyers in China. The investigation into Liu Zhiqiang, a former Vice-Minister of Justice, follows closely after another launched against Tang Yijun, the former head of the ministry. In 2017, long-time Justice Minister Wu Aiying was expelled from the Party for graft. In 2022, Fu Zhenghua, who headed the Ministry of Justice between 2018 and 2020, also fell in a corruption investigation—and was later accused of being part of a “political clique” opposed to Xi Jinping. At The South...

Society

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