Quote of the Day: “Do You Think Xi Jinping is a Dictator?”

Hu Chenfeng, a Chinese content creator who first rose to fame making videos about poverty, has been suspended from Bilibili and Weibo after a livestream viewer asked him:  “Do you think Xi Jinping is a dictator?” CDT a...

I thought only soccer matches were fixed in China. I never imagined marathons could be, too."

— Weibo user @飞天猪Jason (fēitiān zhū Jason, "flying pig Jason"), reacting to viral footage that appeared to show three runners from Kenya and Ethiopia slowing down in the final stretch of the April 14 Beijing half-marathon to allow Chinese runner Hu Jie to win the race. The controversy, ironically, emerged soon after China’s sports regulator announced it would stiffen punishments for throwing matches, fixing competitions, and sports-related misconduct.

 

CDT Highlights

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Translation: The Problems of Inefficient Infrastructure Spending Are Beginning to Surface

After a decades-long infrastructure spending spree, many of China’s local governments now find themselves saddled with unsustainable levels of debt and a surplus of vastly ambitious but often underutilized infrastructure projects. The International Monetary Fund and Wall Street banks estimate China’s total outstanding off-balance-sheet government debt to hover between $7 trillion to $11 trillion U.S. dollars, which includes bonds issued by thousands of local-government financing vehicles (LGFVs) to finance roads, bridges, and other forms of infrastructure.  The local government debt problem...

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Authorities in Xinjiang Continue to Stifle Ramadan, Secularize Islam

Muslims around the world celebrated Eid-al-Fitr this week, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. The month is normally observed through daily fasting, prayer, and community service, but in Xinjiang, many of these traditions were stifled by authorities, as was the case in previous years. Accounts from various parts of the region reveal the CCP’s increasingly successful efforts to secularize Islam while rendering Uyghur Muslims into caricatures for external propaganda. David Rennie, author of The Economist’s Chaguan column, spent the final days of Ramadan in Xinjiang, where he...

Quote of the Day: Hikvision and Dahua Claim to “Support the Ten Principles of the U.N. Global Compact on Human Rights, Labour, Environment, and Anti-Corruption”

Two Chinese manufacturers of video surveillance equipment—state-owned Hikvision and publicly traded company Dahua Technology—have joined the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) in an attempt to burnish their reputations, which have been  severely undermined by evidence that the companies have contributed to human rights abuses of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. Both companies have been subject to restrictions by the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Canada for facilitating the oppression of Uyghurs by providing “highly invasive” surveillance equipment to the Chinese Party-state, underpinning their complicity...

Translation: The Problems of Inefficient Infrastructure Spending Are Beginning to Surface

After a decades-long infrastructure spending spree, many of China’s local governments now find themselves saddled with unsustainable levels of debt and a surplus of vastly ambitious but often underutilized infrastructure projects. The International Monetary Fund and Wall Street banks estimate China’s total outstanding off-balance-sheet government debt to hover between $7 trillion to $11 trillion U.S. dollars, which includes bonds issued by thousands of local-government financing vehicles (LGFVs) to finance roads, bridges, and other forms of infrastructure.  The local government debt problem...

Translation: The Problems of Inefficient Infrastructure Spending Are Beginning to Surface

After a decades-long infrastructure spending spree, many of China’s local governments now find themselves saddled with unsustainable levels of debt and a surplus of vastly ambitious but often underutilized infrastructure projects. The International Monetary Fund and Wall Street banks estimate China’s total outstanding off-balance-sheet government debt to hover between $7 trillion to $11 trillion U.S. dollars, which includes bonds issued by thousands of local-government financing vehicles (LGFVs) to finance roads, bridges, and other forms of infrastructure.  The local government debt problem...

Quote of the Day: “We Have Never Experienced Such Blatant Efforts to Evade Scrutiny of Court Proceedings in Any Country.”

An incident on Wednesday, in which a representative for Reporters Without Borders (RSF) was denied permission to enter Hong Kong to observe the national security trial of political and media figure Jimmy Lai, is yet another illustration of the precipitous decline of media freedom in that territory. Another RSF employee was allowed to enter. The episode comes on the heels of national security legislation related to Article 23, which threatens to further curtail civil liberties and press freedoms by criminalizing routine reporting, research, and advocacy work. The legislation was fast-tracked...

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...

Translation: The Problems of Inefficient Infrastructure Spending Are Beginning to Surface

After a decades-long infrastructure spending spree, many of China’s local governments now find themselves saddled with unsustainable levels of debt and a surplus of vastly ambitious but often underutilized infrastructure projects. The International Monetary Fund and Wall Street banks estimate China’s total outstanding off-balance-sheet government debt to hover between $7 trillion to $11 trillion U.S. dollars, which includes bonds issued by thousands of local-government financing vehicles (LGFVs) to finance roads, bridges, and other forms of infrastructure.  The local government debt problem...

Quote of the Day: “Do You Think Xi Jinping is a Dictator?”

Hu Chenfeng, a Chinese content creator who first rose to fame making videos about poverty, has been suspended from Bilibili and Weibo after a livestream viewer asked him:  “Do you think Xi Jinping is a dictator?” CDT a published a video of the incident:  After uttering “fuck” under his breath, Hu began denouncing the question-asker by repeatedly exclaiming that the question was a serious violation of streaming guidelines, that the person who asked the question must be insane, and that police would likely be at their doorstep soon. The following day, Hu shared a post to Bilibili announcing...

IM Motors CEO Liu Tao Praises Overwork, Violation of Labor Laws

At an April 8 press conference to unveil IM Motors’ new L6 electric sedan, company CEO Liu Tao enumerated the many sacrifices his workers had made, which suggested to some observers that the company’s punishing schedules were likely in violation of Chinese labor laws. Backlash on Chinese social media was swift, with many commenters criticizing the glorification of overwork and proposing that consumers not buy vehicles made by a company that treats its workforce so poorly. In response to this backlash, Alibaba- and SAIC-backed IM Motors complained that it was the victim of “organized...

Chinese Social Media Ablaze With Discussion of Germany Legalizing Weed

A German “pro-China” influencer became the latest target of nationalist ire after her writing on Germany’s legalization of recreational cannabis use was interpreted as a call for China to “live with drugs.” Navina Heyden, a China-based influencer of minor repute, recently shared with her 800,000 Weibo followers her opinion that alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana. “As to what policies China should adopt,” she wrote, “this all depends on Chinese social customs, medical advances, and the results of [legalization] experiments everywhere.” Perhaps expecting some pushback,...

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

Latest

Quote of the Day: Hikvision and Dahua Claim to “Support the Ten Principles of the U.N. Global Compact on Human Rights, Labour, Environment, and Anti-Corruption”

Two Chinese manufacturers of video surveillance equipment—state-owned Hikvision and publicly traded company Dahua Technology—have joined the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) in an attempt to burnish their reputations, which have been  severely undermined by evidence that the companies have contributed to human rights abuses of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. Both companies have been subject to restrictions by the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Canada for facilitating the oppression of Uyghurs by providing “highly invasive” surveillance equipment to the Chinese Party-state, underpinning their complicity...

Politics

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Chinese Migrants Face Perilous Journeys En Route to the U.S.

Last week, the bodies of eight Chinese nationals were discovered off the coast of Oaxaca, Mexico, after their boat capsized along a route often used by migrants attempting to reach the U.S. This is the latest example of an ongoing wave of Chinese emigration, and it highlights the perilous conditions that Chinese migrants face in pursuit of a better life in the U.S. Reporting on the incident for RFA, Jing Wei described the dangers of taking various migration routes through Central America: “I heard that one of these boats had capsized and people had drowned,” [migrant Li Kai] said...

Society

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Netizen Voices: Anti-Corruption Education for the Spouses of 140 High-Ranking Cadres in Hunan Province

According to reports on Hunan TV, Global Times, and related WeChat public accounts, the spouses of 140 high-ranking cadres in Hunan province recently attended an “anti-corruption” educational activity sponsored by the provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection. The participants—whose spouses head up various provincial government agencies, state-owned enterprises, universities, and other work units—were first treated to a visit to the on-site Hunan Anti-Corruption Warning and Education Center, featuring museum-style displays about anti-corruption investigations and prosecutions targeting...

China & the World

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Attitudes in Global South Tilt Towards China at Expense of U.S.

Recent public opinion polls from countries in the Global South point to a slight shift in attitudes vis-a-vis China and the U.S. By small but significant margins, a growing number of people in many of these countries appear to favor China over the U.S. This appears due at least as much to perceptions that the U.S. government has been hypocritical over Israel’s war in Gaza and lacks a compelling global vision for the future as to China’s increasingly active diplomatic engagement around the world. To some, the surveys merely show a snapshot in time; for others, they reflect a deeper trend of...

Law

Latest

Chinese Social Media Ablaze With Discussion of Germany Legalizing Weed

A German “pro-China” influencer became the latest target of nationalist ire after her writing on Germany’s legalization of recreational cannabis use was interpreted as a call for China to “live with drugs.” Navina Heyden, a China-based influencer of minor repute, recently shared with her 800,000 Weibo followers her opinion that alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana. “As to what policies China should adopt,” she wrote, “this all depends on Chinese social customs, medical advances, and the results of [legalization] experiments everywhere.” Perhaps expecting some pushback,...

Information Revolution

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WeChat “Bug” Turns Out To Be Obscure Insult for Xi Jinping

A group of students under the impression they had discovered a WeChat “bug” that hides the phrase “200 jin of dumplings” (roughly 220 pounds) had in fact stumbled upon an obscure insult for Xi Jinping that triggers automatic censorship.  In the course of daily conversation, the students found that messages preceded by the term “200 jin of dumplings” (200斤饺子) were not received by their counterparts. Juvenile hilarity ensued. They sent each other curses and confessions: “200 jin of dumplings, you’re a stupid c***,” “200 jin of dumplings, you’re an idiot,” “200 jin of dumplings, piggy,” and...

Culture & the Arts

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Netizen Voices: “Fixed Matches, Rigged Races … What’s Going on with Chinese Sport?”

Beijing’s half-marathon is under investigation after three runners from Kenya and Ethiopia appeared to allow a Chinese runner to win. The odd ending of the race saw Willy Mnangat and Robert Keter of Kenya and Dejene Hailu of Ethiopia wave Hu Jie of China past them in the final stretch as they noticeably slowed down. Videos of the finish went viral both in China and abroad. The Beijing International Running Festival, the events organizer, and the Beijing Municipal Sports Bureau have both opened investigations  into the incident. On X, formerly Twitter, @whyyoutouzhele shared video of the...

The Great Divide

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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...

Sci-Tech

Latest

IM Motors CEO Liu Tao Praises Overwork, Violation of Labor Laws

At an April 8 press conference to unveil IM Motors’ new L6 electric sedan, company CEO Liu Tao enumerated the many sacrifices his workers had made, which suggested to some observers that the company’s punishing schedules were likely in violation of Chinese labor laws. Backlash on Chinese social media was swift, with many commenters criticizing the glorification of overwork and proposing that consumers not buy vehicles made by a company that treats its workforce so poorly. In response to this backlash, Alibaba- and SAIC-backed IM Motors complained that it was the victim of “organized...

Environment

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African Union Bans Donkey-Hide Trade in Response to Unsustainable Chinese Demand 

At a recent summit in Ethiopia, the African Union (AU) decided to approve a 15-year continent-wide ban on the slaughter of donkeys for their hides. Donkey hides are a key component of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) ingredient known as ejiao (“donkey-hide gelatin”), whose demand in China has boomed over the past decade and decimated donkey populations in Africa. The Donkey Sanctuary, one of the world’s largest equine charity organizations, celebrated the announcement and described its significance This historic decision taken by the African Union recognises, at the highest level of...

Hong Kong

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Quote of the Day: “We Have Never Experienced Such Blatant Efforts to Evade Scrutiny of Court Proceedings in Any Country.”

An incident on Wednesday, in which a representative for Reporters Without Borders (RSF) was denied permission to enter Hong Kong to observe the national security trial of political and media figure Jimmy Lai, is yet another illustration of the precipitous decline of media freedom in that territory. Another RSF employee was allowed to enter. The episode comes on the heels of national security legislation related to Article 23, which threatens to further curtail civil liberties and press freedoms by criminalizing routine reporting, research, and advocacy work. The legislation was fast-tracked...

Taiwan

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Whirlwind Weeks of Diplomacy In Beijing Center On Ukraine, Green Tech, Taiwan

Over a whirlwind two weeks of diplomacy in Beijing, China has sought to strengthen its ties to both the United States and Russia—a difficult balancing act. Xi Jinping took a phone call with U.S. President Joe Biden last week which was followed with a four-day trip through China by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. The day after Yellen’s departure, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Xi Jinping in Beijing in preparation for “upcoming contacts at the highest level,” a sign that Russian leader Vladimir Putin may be planning a Beijing trip this calendar year. Soon after, China’s...