Li Wenliang’s Wailing Wall, September 2022: “How to Voice This Desolation?”

Two years and four months after whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang’s death from COVID-19, the “Wailing Wall” that emerged in the comments under his last Weibo post continues to serve as a repository for the hopes, dreams, worries, and opinions of countless Chinese citizens. CDT editors regularly collect and archive Wailing Wall content, including the selection of comments translated below. In September, many Wailing Wall comments referenced current events such as the deadly bus crash in Guizhou province that killed 27 people and injured 20; the death of Queen Elizabeth II; the protests in Iran;...

If they sell to you, it’s 'technological imperialism.' If they don’t sell to you, it’s 'technological hegemony.' If they give it away, you suspect they have 'ulterior motives.' If they don’t give it away, it’s a 'technological stranglehold.'”

— Netizen comment under the People's Daily hashtag #U.S.RestrictionsOnSemiconductor
ChipExportsAreTechnologicalHegemony (#美国限制芯片出口是科技霸权主义#)

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Li Wenliang’s Wailing Wall, September 2022: “How to Voice This Desolation?”

Two years and four months after whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang’s death from COVID-19, the “Wailing Wall” that emerged in the comments under his last Weibo post continues to serve as a repository for the hopes, dreams, worries, and opinions of countless Chinese citizens. CDT editors regularly collect and archive Wailing Wall content, including the selection of comments translated below. In September, many Wailing Wall comments referenced current events such as the deadly bus crash in Guizhou province that killed 27 people and injured 20; the death of Queen Elizabeth II; the protests in Iran;...

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UN Faces Internal Tensions Over Abuses in Xinjiang, Engagement with Chinese Initiatives

China has taken center stage at two major events currently taking place at the UN: the 51st session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, and the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York. Many Western developed countries are deliberating over the proper response to China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang, with activists demanding substantive action after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet concluded China may be committing crimes against humanity. But many non-Western, less-developed countries, as well as UN Secretary General António Guterres, are rallying...

Despite Sentencing Tangshan Attackers, Authorities Ignore Violence Against Women

Three months after a group of men assaulted four women at a restaurant in Tangshan, a district court in Hebei sentenced the men to prison for a number of crimes. Their sentencing comes after authorities and state media attempted to quell public anger by sidestepping the underlying issue of gender-based violence and instead focusing on gang violence. Judging by reactions to the sentencing and other major #MeToo incidents that have recently surfaced, Chinese authorities continue to neglect, ignore, and censor the problem of violence against women. Surprisingly, as George Washington University...

Li Wenliang’s Wailing Wall, September 2022: “How to Voice This Desolation?”

Two years and four months after whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang’s death from COVID-19, the “Wailing Wall” that emerged in the comments under his last Weibo post continues to serve as a repository for the hopes, dreams, worries, and opinions of countless Chinese citizens. CDT editors regularly collect and archive Wailing Wall content, including the selection of comments translated below. In September, many Wailing Wall comments referenced current events such as the deadly bus crash in Guizhou province that killed 27 people and injured 20; the death of Queen Elizabeth II; the protests in Iran;...

Interview: Lynette Ong on “Outsourcing Repression” in Demolitions and Land Seizures

Lynette Ong, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto, joins CDT to discuss her new book Outsourcing Repression: Everyday State Power in Contemporary China. In Outsourcing Repression, Ong investigates the methods by which the Chinese state has deployed nonstate actors, both violent and nonviolent, to seize farmland and demolish urban homes when it lacked the legitimate authority to do so. During fieldwork in Yunnan, Zhengzhou, and elsewhere, Ong examined the sticks, carrots, and persuasive methods through which the state exerts its influence on society without...

Hong Kong Police Use Colonial-era Sedition Law to Arrest Man Mourning Colonial Era

Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8, Hongkongers have used the subsequent period of mourning to air their emotions in rare public gatherings of political solidarity. The citizens of this former British colony expressed a mix of nostalgia for the past, dissatisfaction with the current leadership, and anger about the steady dismantling of civil rights since the city was returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. While Hong Kong authorities initially showed restraint towards those gathered, on Monday night outside of the British consulate, police arrested one man for sedition...

Translation: Wei Zhou Explains, “Why Did My Comment Disappear?” 

Popular online writer Shen Maohua, who writes under the pen name Wei Zhou, is known for his trenchant and often humorous essays, lively social media comments sections, and occasional brushes with platform censors.  In this classic Wei Zhou essay from March 2022, he tries to help his readers understand how and why some of their comments disappear from his WeChat public account. In the process, we gain insight into the methods of platform-based censorship, the relationship between an online writer and his readers, and the careful balancing act required to keep a popular social media account up...

Interview: Laura Murphy on Forced Labor in Xinjiang

Evidence of human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other ethnic groups in Xinjiang has significantly increased over the past five years. As documented by researchers and human rights groups, the Chinese government has subjected members of these ethnic groups to widespread surveillance, arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence, forced sterilization, forced labor, family separation, religious discrimination, and linguistic assimilation. The accumulated evidence is strong enough for various governments, human rights groups, independent experts, and the Uyghur Tribunal to have concluded...

Interview: Lynette Ong on “Outsourcing Repression” in Demolitions and Land Seizures

Lynette Ong, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto, joins CDT to discuss her new book Outsourcing Repression: Everyday State Power in Contemporary China. In Outsourcing Repression, Ong investigates the methods by which the Chinese state has deployed nonstate actors, both violent and nonviolent, to seize farmland and demolish urban homes when it lacked the legitimate authority to do so. During fieldwork in Yunnan, Zhengzhou, and elsewhere, Ong examined the sticks, carrots, and persuasive methods through which the state exerts its influence on society without...

Li Wenliang’s Wailing Wall, September 2022: “How to Voice This Desolation?”

Two years and four months after whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang’s death from COVID-19, the “Wailing Wall” that emerged in the comments under his last Weibo post continues to serve as a repository for the hopes, dreams, worries, and opinions of countless Chinese citizens. CDT editors regularly collect and archive Wailing Wall content, including the selection of comments translated below. In September, many Wailing Wall comments referenced current events such as the deadly bus crash in Guizhou province that killed 27 people and injured 20; the death of Queen Elizabeth II; the protests in Iran;...

Interview: Josh Chin on China’s Surveillance State

The CCP has become synonymous with surveillance. On an increasingly authoritarian trajectory, Xi Jinping has bet his and the Party’s longevity on its ability to not only neutralize challenges to authority but also anticipate them before they arise. Enormous investments in China’s surveillance apparatus over the past few decades, particularly during Xi’s tenure, have given the state an unprecedented level of access to the personal lives of its citizens, thereby unlocking new opportunities for social governance and control. These experiments in state control extend from Beijing to the...

Despite Sentencing Tangshan Attackers, Authorities Ignore Violence Against Women

Three months after a group of men assaulted four women at a restaurant in Tangshan, a district court in Hebei sentenced the men to prison for a number of crimes. Their sentencing comes after authorities and state media attempted to quell public anger by sidestepping the underlying issue of gender-based violence and instead focusing on gang violence. Judging by reactions to the sentencing and other major #MeToo incidents that have recently surfaced, Chinese authorities continue to neglect, ignore, and censor the problem of violence against women. Surprisingly, as George Washington University...

Viral Videos on Food Shortages and Quarantine Conditions During Shanghai Lockdown

After conducting nucleic acid testing on its 26 million residents this week, Shanghai remains under lockdown. The metropolis has reported over 120,000 cases of COVID-19 thus far, most of them asymptomatic. Nationwide, an estimated 193 million Chinese citizens in 23 cities are currently under lockdown—areas that account for 13.6% of China’s GDP, according to Nomura brokerage. Residents confined to their homes are largely dependent on some combination of government deliveries, individual online purchases, and collective purchases of food and supplies, but quarantine zone restrictions, a...

Human Rights

Latest

Despite Sentencing Tangshan Attackers, Authorities Ignore Violence Against Women

Three months after a group of men assaulted four women at a restaurant in Tangshan, a district court in Hebei sentenced the men to prison for a number of crimes. Their sentencing comes after authorities and state media attempted to quell public anger by sidestepping the underlying issue of gender-based violence and instead focusing on gang violence. Judging by reactions to the sentencing and other major #MeToo incidents that have recently surfaced, Chinese authorities continue to neglect, ignore, and censor the problem of violence against women. Surprisingly, as George Washington University...

Politics

Latest

Hunger Stalks Guiyang After Snap Lockdown

Hunger is becoming a common side-effect of China’s often chaotic lockdowns. During a citywide pandemic lockdown in Xi’an, residents went hungry as government propagandists cheered “noodles helping noodles.” During the months-long Shanghai lockdown, coroners listed “severe malnutrition,” a telltale sign of starvation, as an underlying condition contributing to the deaths of some COVID patients. Lockdown-related hunger is being driven by two factors: official denials of lockdowns in a misguided effort to prevent panic buying, and inevitable disruptions to urban supply chains as everyone but...

Society

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Chinese Censors Fillet “Minions,” Shrink “Big Bang Theory”

Discontented with the ending of “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” during which the titular supervillain Gru and his partner-in-crime Wild Knuckles escape arrest alongside three yellow bean-shaped minions, China’s censors gave it a new one. Audiences were instead treated to a slideshow in which Gru renounced world domination in favor of the joys of fatherhood (to his three daughters, in line with the new “Three-Child Policy) and Wild Knuckles was sentenced to 20 years in prison, during which time he embraced his love of acting: The ending was changed simply by adding a few static scenes with...

China & the World

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New Reports Detail Chinese Influence Operations in Foreign Media

A series of recent reports shows the variety of tactics employed to extend Chinese influence into foreign countries, particularly their information ecosystems. The reports outline the strengths and weaknesses of these influence operations and the resilience of their targets, and in many cases testify to the CCP’s growing desire and ability to control global narratives about China. In a report released on Tuesday, Meta revealed that it had taken down two online networks originating from China and Russia that violated the platform’s policy against coordinated inauthentic behavior. (The...

Law

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Despite Sentencing Tangshan Attackers, Authorities Ignore Violence Against Women

Three months after a group of men assaulted four women at a restaurant in Tangshan, a district court in Hebei sentenced the men to prison for a number of crimes. Their sentencing comes after authorities and state media attempted to quell public anger by sidestepping the underlying issue of gender-based violence and instead focusing on gang violence. Judging by reactions to the sentencing and other major #MeToo incidents that have recently surfaced, Chinese authorities continue to neglect, ignore, and censor the problem of violence against women. Surprisingly, as George Washington University...

Information Revolution

Latest

Chinese State Media Reinforces Russian Disinformation About War in Ukraine

While the official position from Beijing is that China remains a neutral observer of the Russian-Ukrainian war, Chinese state media content suggests otherwise. Since the start of the war, coverage by Chinese state media outlets has shown a substantial increase in citations of Russian state media. The content of this coverage has leaned heavily towards pro-Russian and anti-Western narratives and has amplified conspiracy theories and other Russian-government-backed disinformation. This week, Chinese government officials and state media also began amplifying disinformation from Russian...

Culture & the Arts

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Duo Use Performance Art to Prevail After Eviction for Opposition to “Routinized COVID Testing”

Following the deadly bus crash in Guizhou that killed 27 people, injured 20, and triggered fierce debate about China’s zero-COVID policy, two performance artists in Hebei successfully opted out of mandatory testing requirements after a three-day protest, achieving a rare concession from the local government. Hebei’s mandatory weekly testing was briefly suspended in July before being reinstated earlier this month. Last week, two residents of a village in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, were evicted from their home after refusing to participate in a mandatory weekly COVID test. They took to...

The Great Divide

Latest

Viral Videos on Food Shortages and Quarantine Conditions During Shanghai Lockdown

After conducting nucleic acid testing on its 26 million residents this week, Shanghai remains under lockdown. The metropolis has reported over 120,000 cases of COVID-19 thus far, most of them asymptomatic. Nationwide, an estimated 193 million Chinese citizens in 23 cities are currently under lockdown—areas that account for 13.6% of China’s GDP, according to Nomura brokerage. Residents confined to their homes are largely dependent on some combination of government deliveries, individual online purchases, and collective purchases of food and supplies, but quarantine zone restrictions, a...

Sci-Tech

Latest

Interview: Josh Chin on China’s Surveillance State

The CCP has become synonymous with surveillance. On an increasingly authoritarian trajectory, Xi Jinping has bet his and the Party’s longevity on its ability to not only neutralize challenges to authority but also anticipate them before they arise. Enormous investments in China’s surveillance apparatus over the past few decades, particularly during Xi’s tenure, have given the state an unprecedented level of access to the personal lives of its citizens, thereby unlocking new opportunities for social governance and control. These experiments in state control extend from Beijing to the...

Environment

Latest

Record Heat in Central China Causes Power Shortages, Economic Strain, and Suffering

A massive, months-long heat wave has scorched regions in central China. Intense droughts and evaporating water sources have choked energy supplies in several regions reliant upon hydropower, causing widespread power cuts and forcing businesses of all sizes to halt operations. Human suffering has accompanied the economic strain, with many netizens testifying to fatalities in their communities. As China grapples with interminable pandemic lockdowns, rising geopolitical tensions, and economic slowdowns, global climate change has reasserted itself as an existential issue that is too hot to...

Hong Kong

Latest

Hong Kong Police Use Colonial-era Sedition Law to Arrest Man Mourning Colonial Era

Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8, Hongkongers have used the subsequent period of mourning to air their emotions in rare public gatherings of political solidarity. The citizens of this former British colony expressed a mix of nostalgia for the past, dissatisfaction with the current leadership, and anger about the steady dismantling of civil rights since the city was returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. While Hong Kong authorities initially showed restraint towards those gathered, on Monday night outside of the British consulate, police arrested one man for sedition...

Taiwan

Latest

Another U.S. Congressional Delegation Visits Taiwan, Beijing Restarts Military Drills

On Sunday, another U.S. Congressional delegation traveled to Taiwan, less than two weeks after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to the country. In response to the latest delegation’s visit, Beijing announced it would stage new military exercises, following those conducted in unprecedented proximity to the island immediately after Pelosi’s departure. These tit-for-tat measures have left many wondering what new equilibrium will emerge from the regional tensions and how to prevent further escalation.  Johnson Lai of the Associated Press reported on the motivation and composition...

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