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...

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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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...

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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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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

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...

Politics

Latest

“Only One Person Per Household Can Flee?” Earthquake Evacuation Barred as Breach of COVID Rules

Some efforts to flee an earthquake in Sichuan on Tuesday were thwarted by an even weightier power than tectonic plates: China’s zero-COVID policy. Viral videos and screenshots show that some residents of locked-down buildings in Chengdu were prevented from leaving their homes by building managers and pandemic control personnel in white hazmat suits who claimed that evacuation would violate COVID-containment rules. The magnitude 6.8 earthquake killed scores and necessitated the evacuation of tens of thousands more—more than a dozen people remain missing. Chengdu is one of 33 cities across...

Society

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Four Men in Jiangxi Punished for Breaking COVID Rules With “Malicious Mourning”

Police in Yingtan, Jiangxi province, have become the object of derision online after announcing that they had punished four men for evading a pandemic lockdown to attend the funeral of an elderly family member. The phrase used in the announcement—”malicious mourning” (恶意奔丧, èyì bēnsāng)—calls to mind the many other previously innocuous activities that have been dubbed “malicious,” or even criminalized, under China’s stringent zero-COVID policies.  Caixin’s Li Hang reported on the background to the funeral story and the ensuing social media backlash, noting that the “hashtag...

China & the World

Latest

Freedom House Report Reveals Extent of Beijing’s Global Media Influence

Last week, the NGO Freedom House released a special report titled “Beijing’s Global Media Influence 2022: Authoritarian Expansion and the Power of Democratic Resilience.” The report analyzes the growth of the CCP’s global campaign to influence foreign media outlets and news consumers through a combination of traditional, covert, and coercive tactics. Examining the information landscapes of 30 different countries, researchers mapped both the extent of the Chinese government’s media influence and the responses of democratic societies, in order to assess the resilience of media independence in...

Law

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...

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

Latest

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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