How Beijing Influences the Influencers

How Beijing Influences the Influencers

China’s government has supported foreign YouTubers who put a positive spin on its policies, in its latest effort to shape how the world sees it.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/12/13/technology/china-propaganda-youtube-influencers.html

Joshua Lam and Libby Lange, graduate student researchers at Yale University, analyzed a sample of nearly 290,000 tweets that mentioned Xinjiang in the first half of 2021. They found that six of the 10 most commonly shared YouTube videos in the tweets were from the pro-China influencers.

Does Xi Jinping’s Seizure of History Threaten His Future?

Does Xi Jinping’s Seizure of History Threaten His Future?

The struggles of the first century of Communist Party rule are being buried by the need to cohere around what Xi calls “the great rejuvenation” of China.

Link: https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/does-xi-jinpings-seizure-of-history-threaten-his-future

The full self-portrait won’t be released until after the meeting—which consists of four days of closed sessions—but it’s been clear for months that Xi is determined to eradicate what he calls “historical nihilism,” the corrosive doubt that could threaten the dominance of his party. During the summer, China’s official online Rumor Refutation Platform, a Web site that collects public tips and reports levels of purportedly false content online, warned of attempts to “smear Party history” through what it called efforts to “slander and discredit revolutionary leaders.” Under Chinese law, a person found to have spread a rumor faces up to fifteen years in prison. A list of the “top-ten” most-circulated “rumors” ranged from deep strategic questions—“Did the Communist Party avoid confronting the Japanese army directly?”—to sensitive details, such as the suggestion that Chairman Mao’s son died during the Korean War because he gave away his battlefield position by “cooking egg fried rice.” (Mao Anying died in an air strike in 1950. The fried-rice story, which has never been confirmed, outrages nationalists and Party agencies.)

One by One, My Friends Were Sent to the Camps

One by One, My Friends Were Sent to the Camps

What is it like to live through—and escape—the Uyghur genocide? Tahir Hamut Izgil tells his family’s story in an unprecedented, five-part series.

via The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/the-uyghur-chronicles/

The Chinese government’s mass internment of Uyghurs was in full swing. This campaign had begun in Kashgar, Khotan, and other predominantly Uyghur parts of southern Xinjiang. Now it had reached Urumqi, the regional capital, where our acquaintances were regularly disappearing. Every day, hundreds of Uyghurs who had moved here over the decades—finding work, starting families, buying houses, coming to consider themselves locals—had been shipped out to concentration camps known as “study centers.” Nearly everyone I knew from the labor camp where I’d been imprisoned two decades earlier had already been rearrested. My turn would clearly come soon.

Is Taiwan Next?

Is Taiwan Next?

In Taipei, young people like Nancy Tao Chen Ying watched as the Hong Kong protests were brutally extinguished. Now they wonder what’s in their future.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/04/magazine/taiwan-china.html

In recent years, Chinese warplanes buzzing the Taiwan Strait’s midline increased substantially, and the country’s warships regularly encircled the island. In March, America’s top military officer in the Indo-Pacific region told a Senate hearing that he believed China could invade Taiwan in the next six years.

What Are the Cultural Revolution’s Lessons for Our Current Moment?

What Are the Cultural Revolution’s Lessons for Our Current Moment?

The great question of China’s Maoist experiment now looms over the United States: Why did a powerful society suddenly start destroying itself?

via The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/02/01/what-are-the-cultural-revolutions-lessons-for-our-current-moment

Western intellectuals and artists would have felt much less sympathy for the Devil had they heard about the ordeals of their counterparts in China, as described in “The World Turned Upside Down” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), a thick catalogue of gruesome atrocities, blunders, bedlam, and ideological dissimulation, by the Chinese journalist Yang Jisheng. Yang mentions a group of elderly writers in Beijing who, in August, 1966, three months after Mao formally launched the Cultural Revolution, were denounced as “ox demons and snake spirits” (Mao’s preferred term for class enemies) and flogged with belt buckles and bamboo sticks by teen-age girls. Among the writers subjected to this early “struggle session” was the novelist Lao She, the world-famous author of “Rickshaw Boy.” He killed himself the following day.

Opinion | Trump Is Wrong About TikTok. China’s Plans Are Much More Sinister. (Published 2020)

Opinion | Trump Is Wrong About TikTok. China’s Plans Are Much More Sinister. (Published 2020)

The West still doesn’t understand the scale of Beijing’s soft-power ambitions.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/17/opinion/tiktok-china-strategy.html

Across the Indian Ocean, where historically India has held sway, China now controls or helps manage ports, airfields, military bases or observation stations, along the coast of Myanmar and in Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Pakistan, all the way to Djibouti and Kenya. It is also making forays right in America’s backyard, for example, eyeing the Panama Canal.

Fearing Detention, Two Australian Correspondents Flee China (Published 2020)

Fearing Detention, Two Australian Correspondents Flee China (Published 2020)

The forced departures highlight souring relations between the two countries and Beijing’s increasingly heavy-handed tactics to limit independent journalism.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/07/world/australia/china-correspondents-bill-birtles-michael-smith.html

The Australian Financial Review reported that Chinese investigators sought to question Mr. Birtles and Mr. Smith about Cheng Lei, a Chinese-born Australian business news anchor for China’s CGTN television service who was detained in August.

With Hacks and Cameras, Beijing’s Electronic Dragnet Closes on Hong Kong (Published 2020)

With Hacks and Cameras, Beijing’s Electronic Dragnet Closes on Hong Kong (Published 2020)

Under a new national security law, the police are targeting the social media accounts of executives, politicians and activists. American internet giants are struggling to respond.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/25/technology/hong-kong-national-security-law.html

When officers swarmed him at a Hong Kong shopping mall last month, they pulled him into a stairwell and pinned his head in front of his phone — an attempt to trigger the facial recognition system. Later, at his home, officers forced his finger onto a separate phone. Then they demanded passwords.

The Panopticon Is Already Here

The Panopticon Is Already Here

Xi Jinping is using artificial intelligence to enhance his government’s totalitarian control—and he’s exporting this technology to regimes around the globe.

via The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/09/china-ai-surveillance/614197/

By 2030, AI supremacy might be within range for China. The country will likely have the world’s largest economy, and new money to spend on AI applications for its military. It may have the most sophisticated drone swarms. It may have autonomous weapons systems that can forecast an adversary’s actions after a brief exposure to a theater of war, and make battlefield decisions much faster than human cognition allows. Its missile-detection algorithms could void America’s first-strike nuclear advantage. AI could upturn the global balance of power.

‘We Will Persevere’: A Newspaper Faces the Weight of Hong Kong’s Crackdown (Published 2020)

‘We Will Persevere’: A Newspaper Faces the Weight of Hong Kong’s Crackdown (Published 2020)

Apple Daily, a pro-democracy paper known for celebrity gossip and hard-hitting investigations, has become a target in Beijing’s new national security law in Hong Kong.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/12/world/asia/hong-kong-apple-daily-jimmy-lai.html

Apple Daily, a pro-democracy paper known for celebrity gossip and hard-hitting investigations, has become a target in Beijing’s new national security law in Hong Kong.

China’s Arrest of a Free-Speech Icon Backfires in Hong Kong

China’s Arrest of a Free-Speech Icon Backfires in Hong Kong

The arrest of the tycoon and democracy activist Jimmy Lai has reinvigorated defiance rather than demoralize his supporters.

via The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/chinas-arrest-of-a-free-speech-icon-backfires-in-hong-kong

Last September, when I was in Hong Kong reporting on the anti-government protests engulfing the city, I spent an afternoon in the industrial-looking headquarters of Apple Daily, a popular tabloid owned by perhaps the city’s most unusual tycoon, an outspoken democracy activist and one of the Communist Party’s leading critics. To meet Jimmy Lai, I walked through the publication’s vast open-plan office, where hundreds of staff members busily put out the day’s news. “When I went into the publishing business, twenty-five years ago, it was a no-brainer,” Lai told me in his office, which resembled the appearance of its owner: determinedly functional and, unusually for Hong Kong, absent of status markers. “Information is freedom, and I wanted to be in the business of delivering freedom.” Lai admitted that back then he hardly thought this was a risky proposition. “I believed that all of China was going forward, that it was inevitable China would adapt to openness.”