New Details Emerge from Xinjiang Camps Amid Government Efforts to Discredit Victims

As a campaign of mass internment of Uyghurs in northwest China seemingly begins to transition into a new stage involving forced labor and population transfers, details of the detainees’ experiences continue to emerge. In early February, a BBC investigation uncovered evidence of systematic rape in the camps, “the-situation-that-must-not-be-mentioned” in the words of Weibo users trying to avoid censors’ gazes. At The New Yorker, a visual essay written by Ben Mauk, with artwork by Matt Huynh, drew on extensive interviews to provide deeply personal testimony on life in Xinjiang during the...

Today, to be guilty of our common ideals, I am deeply honoured.

- former Hong Kong LegCo member Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, before his bail hearing

CDT Highlights

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CDT Weekly, February 12-18: Ilham Tohti, Xinjiang, and Why Clubhouse Had to Die

Welcome to the second edition of CDT’s weekly roundup, also available as an email newsletter through Substack. With these updates, we aim to provide an overview of new content across CDT’s English and Chinese sites, as well as the bilingual China Digital Space wiki, and related content elsewhere. The highlight of our translation content this week was a long essay from 2009 by journalist and website founder Huang Zhangjin, describing his friendship and discussions with Uyghur intellectual Ilham Tohti after the latter’s detention in the wake of violent unrest in Urumqi in 2009. The essay was...

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In Great Hall of The People, “Complete Victory.” In the Countryside, a More Complicated Story

In late 2020, China declared victory over poverty, marking the end of a five-year campaign to raise rural incomes above $600 per year. In the essay “The Countryside Through A Daughter In-Law’s Eyes,” though, Huang Deng wrote movingly about the harsh realities of life outside of China’s urban areas. The poverty alleviation campaign was intended to address some of those issues, yet significant questions remain about who, exactly, accrued the benefits. Nevertheless, in a triumphant speech given in the Great Hall of the People this week, Xi Jinping reiterated that the campaign was a complete...

New Details Emerge from Xinjiang Camps Amid Government Efforts to Discredit Victims

As a campaign of mass internment of Uyghurs in northwest China seemingly begins to transition into a new stage involving forced labor and population transfers, details of the detainees’ experiences continue to emerge. In early February, a BBC investigation uncovered evidence of systematic rape in the camps, “the-situation-that-must-not-be-mentioned” in the words of Weibo users trying to avoid censors’ gazes. At The New Yorker, a visual essay written by Ben Mauk, with artwork by Matt Huynh, drew on extensive interviews to provide deeply personal testimony on life in Xinjiang during the...

Translation: Weibo User Sentenced to Six Months Over Wuhan Poem

Last April, Weibo user “Marilyn Monroe” (@玛丽莲梦六) wrote a widely-shared post of vignettes from the Wuhan lockdown. The user reported that they were “asked to tea” soon after the post went viral, and later disappeared. Now they have been convicted of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles” and sentenced to six months in prison: Zhang Wenfang, a Hebei based Weibo user, sentenced to 6 months in prison for a piece of content she posted on Weibo, which mentioned dozens of untold sad stories during the Covid lockdown in Wuhan City, and which authority claimed contained rumors....

New Details Emerge from Xinjiang Camps Amid Government Efforts to Discredit Victims

As a campaign of mass internment of Uyghurs in northwest China seemingly begins to transition into a new stage involving forced labor and population transfers, details of the detainees’ experiences continue to emerge. In early February, a BBC investigation uncovered evidence of systematic rape in the camps, “the-situation-that-must-not-be-mentioned” in the words of Weibo users trying to avoid censors’ gazes. At The New Yorker, a visual essay written by Ben Mauk, with artwork by Matt Huynh, drew on extensive interviews to provide deeply personal testimony on life in Xinjiang during the...

How the HK47 Prepared for Charges Under the National Security Law, and International Reactions

On Sunday, February 28, 47 prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activists were charged with subversion under the Hong Kong National Security Law. The charges were widely expected after the activists were first arrested in a massive sweep in January 2021. After initially being released on bail after their arrests, they were notified on Friday, February 26th to report to police stations across the city at 2pm on Sunday, giving them just days to prepare. On social media and with local media outlets, the 47 documented their last days of freedom and their final messages to the public. On Sunday,...

Another Brick In the Wall: Music Site’s Blocking Further Closes Off Chinese Internet

Nobody was surprised when Clubhouse, the viral app on which Chinese users shared their unfiltered views with global audiences, was blocked in China. Users had widely anticipated that Clubhouse would have to die. But the sudden blocking of Bandcamp, an international independent music platform, shocked Chinese and international observers. Together with the recent raid on Renren Yingshi, the subtitling group that provided uncensored international film and television translations to the Chinese public, the block illustrates the significant ongoing constriction of space for unregulated cultural...

Q&A: Leta Hong Fincher on China’s Resilient Feminists

A former journalist, Leta Hong Fincher was the first American to receive a PhD in Sociology from Tsinghua University in Beijing. Her research there led to her first book, “Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China,” which examined rising gender inequalities in China today through the lens of economics, marriage, and the real estate market. Her widely acclaimed second book, “Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China,” examines the rise of a new feminist movement in China and profiles several of the key participants, including the...

New Details Emerge from Xinjiang Camps Amid Government Efforts to Discredit Victims

As a campaign of mass internment of Uyghurs in northwest China seemingly begins to transition into a new stage involving forced labor and population transfers, details of the detainees’ experiences continue to emerge. In early February, a BBC investigation uncovered evidence of systematic rape in the camps, “the-situation-that-must-not-be-mentioned” in the words of Weibo users trying to avoid censors’ gazes. At The New Yorker, a visual essay written by Ben Mauk, with artwork by Matt Huynh, drew on extensive interviews to provide deeply personal testimony on life in Xinjiang during the...

In Great Hall of The People, “Complete Victory.” In the Countryside, a More Complicated Story

In late 2020, China declared victory over poverty, marking the end of a five-year campaign to raise rural incomes above $600 per year. In the essay “The Countryside Through A Daughter In-Law’s Eyes,” though, Huang Deng wrote movingly about the harsh realities of life outside of China’s urban areas. The poverty alleviation campaign was intended to address some of those issues, yet significant questions remain about who, exactly, accrued the benefits. Nevertheless, in a triumphant speech given in the Great Hall of the People this week, Xi Jinping reiterated that the campaign was a complete...

New Reports Highlight Globalization of Surveillance Tech Industry

A new report from The Intercept’s Mara Hvistendahl uncovers how U.S. software giant Oracle worked with Chinese law enforcement to supply analytics software for China’s burgeoning surveillance state. At the same time, other reports have revealed how Chinese manufacturers of surveillance equipment are widely supplying governments and companies in the West. Although the international connections of surveillance tech companies are not new, the new revelations underscore how an industry built around mass surveillance has become increasingly normalized and global, despite deeply...

New Details Emerge from Xinjiang Camps Amid Government Efforts to Discredit Victims

As a campaign of mass internment of Uyghurs in northwest China seemingly begins to transition into a new stage involving forced labor and population transfers, details of the detainees’ experiences continue to emerge. In early February, a BBC investigation uncovered evidence of systematic rape in the camps, “the-situation-that-must-not-be-mentioned” in the words of Weibo users trying to avoid censors’ gazes. At The New Yorker, a visual essay written by Ben Mauk, with artwork by Matt Huynh, drew on extensive interviews to provide deeply personal testimony on life in Xinjiang during the...

Chinese Countryside Better Off Than Ever Before, While Some Reforms Stagnate

In early December, President Xi Jinping declared that China had eliminated absolute poverty. His announcement was the culmination of a years-long campaign that sought to raise the annual income of every person in China’s countryside above 4,000 yuan. The Economist reviewed the campaign and found it largely effective in eliminating the destitution previously endemic to China’s countryside: Sceptics understandably ask whether China fiddled its numbers in order to win what it calls the “battle against poverty”. There are of course still isolated cases of abject deprivation. China, however, set...

Politics

Latest

New Details Emerge from Xinjiang Camps Amid Government Efforts to Discredit Victims

As a campaign of mass internment of Uyghurs in northwest China seemingly begins to transition into a new stage involving forced labor and population transfers, details of the detainees’ experiences continue to emerge. In early February, a BBC investigation uncovered evidence of systematic rape in the camps, “the-situation-that-must-not-be-mentioned” in the words of Weibo users trying to avoid censors’ gazes. At The New Yorker, a visual essay written by Ben Mauk, with artwork by Matt Huynh, drew on extensive interviews to provide deeply personal testimony on life in Xinjiang during the...

Human Rights

Latest

Translation: “The Situation-That-Must-not-be-Mentioned” – Chinese Netizens Respond to Xinjiang Camps

This week, the BBC published an investigation into reports of systematic rape at internment camps in Xinjiang, including graphic and disturbing detail from former detainees and camp staff. This is the latest of many recent reports alleging mistreatment, political indoctrination, forced labor, and more at the camps. While Chinese censors prohibit any discussion of events in Xinjiang from entering the domestic media space, official statements responding to news reports dismiss the allegations, claiming that residents of Xinjiang are living “a happy life in such a stable environment.” Despite...

Society

Latest

CCTV Spring Festival Gala Features Blackface, Again

This year’s CCTV’s Spring Festival Gala, the massively popular annual variety show aired since 1983, included blackfaced dancers in a performance titled “African Song and Dance,” alongside belly dancers, flamenco performers, and women dressed as Cleopatra. The Gala has previously been criticized for similar depictions: a 2018 skit featured a Chinese woman dressed in blackface and accompanied by a monkey, proclaiming, “I love China.” At The Associated Press, Joe McDonald described the gala’s latest controversy, and the show’s reach: The “African Song and Dance” performance Thursday came...

China & the World

Latest

WHO’s China Research Trip Ends With More Questions Than Answers

During a press conference that marked the end of the World Health Organization’s 12-day China-based investigation into the coronavirus’ origins, WHO experts seemingly ruled out the possibility of a lab leak, instead asserting that the disease likely crossed into humans from animals. Establishing the virus’ origin is critical for future pandemic prevention, yet the Chinese government delayed the WHO’s investigation for over a year. When Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for a WHO investigation in April 2020, the Chinese government launched a trade war against Australia and...

Law

Latest

New Details Emerge from Xinjiang Camps Amid Government Efforts to Discredit Victims

As a campaign of mass internment of Uyghurs in northwest China seemingly begins to transition into a new stage involving forced labor and population transfers, details of the detainees’ experiences continue to emerge. In early February, a BBC investigation uncovered evidence of systematic rape in the camps, “the-situation-that-must-not-be-mentioned” in the words of Weibo users trying to avoid censors’ gazes. At The New Yorker, a visual essay written by Ben Mauk, with artwork by Matt Huynh, drew on extensive interviews to provide deeply personal testimony on life in Xinjiang during the...

Information Revolution

Latest

Government Partners With Private Corporations To Monitor China’s Internet

New investigations by ChinaFile and The New York Times reveal the complexities of the vast and diffuse organs tasked by the Chinese state with understanding (and manipulating) online public opinion. The Great Firewall, the “Fifty Cent Party,” and CDT’s “Directives From the Ministry of Truth” are well known examples of the Chinese government’s efforts to control the internet. The investigations by ChinaFile and The Times show that public-private partnerships built on sophisticated software programs are the new frontier of internet control in China. Jessica Batke and Mareike Ohlberg’s...

Culture & the Arts

Latest

Translation: Weibo User Sentenced to Six Months Over Wuhan Poem

Last April, Weibo user “Marilyn Monroe” (@玛丽莲梦六) wrote a widely-shared post of vignettes from the Wuhan lockdown. The user reported that they were “asked to tea” soon after the post went viral, and later disappeared. Now they have been convicted of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles” and sentenced to six months in prison: Zhang Wenfang, a Hebei based Weibo user, sentenced to 6 months in prison for a piece of content she posted on Weibo, which mentioned dozens of untold sad stories during the Covid lockdown in Wuhan City, and which authority claimed contained rumors....

The Great Divide

Latest

Chinese Countryside Better Off Than Ever Before, While Some Reforms Stagnate

In early December, President Xi Jinping declared that China had eliminated absolute poverty. His announcement was the culmination of a years-long campaign that sought to raise the annual income of every person in China’s countryside above 4,000 yuan. The Economist reviewed the campaign and found it largely effective in eliminating the destitution previously endemic to China’s countryside: Sceptics understandably ask whether China fiddled its numbers in order to win what it calls the “battle against poverty”. There are of course still isolated cases of abject deprivation. China, however, set...

Sci-Tech

Latest

New Reports Highlight Globalization of Surveillance Tech Industry

A new report from The Intercept’s Mara Hvistendahl uncovers how U.S. software giant Oracle worked with Chinese law enforcement to supply analytics software for China’s burgeoning surveillance state. At the same time, other reports have revealed how Chinese manufacturers of surveillance equipment are widely supplying governments and companies in the West. Although the international connections of surveillance tech companies are not new, the new revelations underscore how an industry built around mass surveillance has become increasingly normalized and global, despite deeply...

Environment

Latest

Xi’s Climate Pledge Stuns World But Barriers Remain

Chinese leader Xi Jinping unexpectedly announced sweeping and potentially transformative, albeit vague, commitments to cut China’s carbon footprint last week. In an address before the United Nation’s General Assembly, Xi said, “We aim to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.“ Xi’s pledge both reaffirmed goals set by the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, and unilaterally set a new benchmark for emissions control. Since Trump’s ascension to the American presidency, China has angled to assume a global leadership position on climate change. Xi’s speech comes...

Hong Kong

Latest

How the HK47 Prepared for Charges Under the National Security Law, and International Reactions

On Sunday, February 28, 47 prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activists were charged with subversion under the Hong Kong National Security Law. The charges were widely expected after the activists were first arrested in a massive sweep in January 2021. After initially being released on bail after their arrests, they were notified on Friday, February 26th to report to police stations across the city at 2pm on Sunday, giving them just days to prepare. On social media and with local media outlets, the 47 documented their last days of freedom and their final messages to the public. On Sunday,...

Taiwan

Latest

In First Phone Call, Biden and Xi Hash Out Differences, Set Stage for “Extreme Competition”

On February 10, newly elected President Joe Biden spoke with Chinese leader Xi Jinping for the first time in office. The Biden White House and China’s Xinhua News both provided readouts of the call. Human rights appeared to be a central issue in their conversation as Biden expressed “fundamental concerns” about the “crackdown in Hong Kong, human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and increasingly assertive actions in the region, including toward Taiwan.” Xinhua’s readout curtly claimed those issues to be China’s internal affairs. The two leaders also spoke about climate change, security policy, and...

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