China 2019 – 2018 – the latest information and some analysis
Chronology of events
(including some comments, many by X, who has made himself familiar with developments in China for many many years)
Please note: this page only goes back to the beginning of 2018; the rest of the chronology going back to 2013 has now moved here
Report on Current Situation Facing Chinese Youth Activists (pdf) X writes: “Two memorable citations from this:
p. 29 : The extinction-level crackdown on all sorts of activist groups has given the majority of activists personal experience of just how little possibility there is for civil society in China right now.
p. 27 (a quote from an activist): “For the mainland, if you don’t take any violent action, if you don’t make any sacrifice of blood, then you can’t really accomplish anything.”
Article on the centenary of the May 4th movement X writes: “The absence of the the anarchists from this little chiding mini-essay, shows once again the pernicious influence of the religion of the bureaucratic class. Chen Duxiu is supposed to matter; Tsai Yan-pei and Liu Shifu are supposed to remain invisible.“
Report on further developments in predictive policing in Uighur region “The report’s findings, arrived at through a yearlong project reverse-engineering a policing app used by Xinjiang authorities, help explain how police interface with the “Integrated Joint Operations Platform” (IJOP), a predictive policing system that examines residents’ behavior to determine who should be interrogated and potentially detained. (HRW described the IJOP at length in a 2018 report.) At The Guardian, Simina Mistreanu summarizes the report: Data collection, including people’s blood type, height and religious practices, has been central to the crackdown, which started in late 2016, the rights group says. “[…] The app targets 36 “person types” to whom officials must pay special attention. The categories include seemingly harmless behaviours such as “does not socialise with neighbours, seldom uses front door”; “suddenly returned to hometown after being away for a long time”; “collected money or materials for mosques with enthusiasm”; and “household uses an abnormal amount of electricity.”…“Psychologically, the more people are sure that their actions are monitored and that they, at anytime, can be judged for moving outside of a safe grey-space, the more likely they are to do everything to avoid coming close to crossing a moving red- line,” Samantha Hoffman, an analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre, told AFP. “There is no rule of law in China, the Party ultimately decides what is legal and illegal behaviour, and it doesn’t have to be written down.”…Authorities appear to be using Xinjiang as a pilot region to test cutting-edge, high-tech surveillance and policing methods that could later be used in other locales, domestic and foreign. …“This is not just about Xinjiang or even China — it’s about the world beyond and whether we human beings can continue to have freedom in a world of connected devices,” Wang said. “It’s a wake-up call, not just about China but about every one of us.”…Gohar Abbas interviewed Pakistani men whose Uyghur wives were recently released from the camps. The men relay their wives’ tales of being forced to betray their faith: “[…T]he men [said] their partners were forced into acts that are haram, or forbidden, to followers of Islam — both in the camps and now they’ve been freed.“She said they had to eat pork and drink alcohol, something she still has to do,” one merchant, who recently visited his wife at her parents’ house in Xinjiang told AFP, on condition of anonymity. “She was told that she had to satisfy the authorities that she no longer possesses radical thoughts if she does not want to go back,” he explained, adding that she had given up praying and the Quran had been replaced by books on China at his in-laws home…” More here
Everyone loves Big Brother “I couldn’t tell which terrified me more: China’s all-encompassing network of facial recognition surveillance cameras, or that my countrymen were proudly cheering them on… Many people in China seem to be happy about the physical security promised by the surveillance network. Our mind-set, long ago, was wired to see safety and freedom as an either-or choice. Huawei’s Hong-Eng Ko put the public safety argument more bluntly this week, arguing that “if privacy wins, criminals win.” The acceptance Qian describes is mirrored in widespread public support for China’s various emerging social credit systems as mechanisms of accountability for untrustworthy behavior, as found by Genia Kostka through surveys and Manya Koetse through analysis of social media discussion.”
X writes: “The final subhuman product of the system: docile cattle who are nervous if they don’t think they are being supervised. They need to be slaughtered to understand what is going on, and when that happens, they’re quickly far beyond being able to understand anything at all. How thoroughly contemptible. One of the first orders of any revolution is to make this type of subhuman impossible and to spare no instance in which they can be denounced, pilloried, demeaned, caricatured, denigrated, and subjected to condescending pity, while taking every pain to praise and encourage them at whatever acts of rebellion they may belatedly engaging in. and understanding that this is something that regularly happens to all of us because it is embedded in the civilization that we must destroy.[wasn’t it Wilde who said that the first revolutionary act is disobedience?]…“
Journalist writes of new “cultural revolution” During the 60s so-called “cultural revolution”, the reason the kids were “sent down to the countryside” was that the Red Guards were escaping from the control of their handlers in the Gang of Five, writing things like “Whither China“ and fighting the army and the security goons. It’s hard to know the extent to which this, or some similar evidence of “uncontrollability”, allows us to see a comparable trajectory in the present that has provoked this extreme policy (with its attendantly greater risks). Of course it is possible to see in this measure something similar to the program of putting Han snitches in Uyghur households as they do in Xinjiang, but maybe there’s some other kind of explanation lurking somewhere, maybe something that forced the bureaucracy, or sections of it, to try to re-direct/recuperate energy that posed something of a threat to its monopoly of control.
From Uncle Joe to Grandpa Xi – The Little Red Book takes a great leap forward to become The Little Red App “Schools are shaming students with low app scores. Government offices are holding study sessions and forcing workers who fall behind to write reports criticizing themselves. Private companies, hoping to curry favor with party officials, are ranking employees based on their use of the app and awarding top performers the title of “star learner.” Many employers now require workers to submit daily screenshots documenting how many points they have earned.“
Nanjing: sanitation workers now have to wear GPS tracking bracelets “…sanitation workers in Nanjing, China’s Hexi district were being required to wear GPS-tracking smart bracelets to not only monitor their location at all times, but audibly prod them if they stopped moving for more than 20 minutes…. public pressure had mounted to the point that the local sanitation company decided to walk things back a bit — but only by removing the most obnoxious part of the system. Now, the bracelets will no longer say “please continue working” if a worker decides to stay in one place, but they’ll reportedly still track workers just the same.”
Hong Kong: sad sacrificial notion of Occupy Hong Kong as city awaits result of trial of activists For details about Occupy Hong Kong, see July 2014 to December 2014 here
France, Nice: Xi Jinping on fire…? A fire – almost certainly arson – of a dozen or so cars in a car park under, or nearly under, the hotel where Xi Jinping was staying in Nice on Saturday 23rd. Not sure that it was directly under the hotel but certainly very close. This was shortly after a yellow vest woman, amongst about only 30 yellow vests who’d decided to demonstrate despite the ban on demos there on the eve of Macron’s visit with XJ, fell and cracked her skull following a crazy charge (against 30 unarmed peaceful demonstrators) by riot cops (she’s now in a coma). No-one’s talking about the fire as an attack on XJ (in fact, the fire’s hardly been talked about at all) but it seems like quite a coincidence.
US tech companies supply intensified surveillance technology to China as China exports this self-same technology to other states “The SenseNets database logged exact GPS coordinates on a 24-hour basis and, using facial recognition, associated that data with sensitive personal information, including national ID numbers, home addresses, personal photographs, and places of employment. Nearly one-third of the individuals tracked were from the Uighur minority ethnic group. In a bizarre juxtaposition of surveillance supremacy and security incompetence, SenseNets’ database was left open on the internet for six months before it was reported and, according to the researcher who discovered it, could have been “corrupted by a 12-year-old.” The discovery suggests SenseNets is one of a number of Chinese companies participating in the construction of a technology-enabled totalitarian police state in Xinjiang, which has seen as many as 2 million Uighurs placed into “re-education camps” since early 2017.“
Yet another horrific ‘accident’ “Public anger over safety standards has grown in China over industrial accidents ranging from mining disasters to factory fires that have marred three decades of swift economic growth.”
New book on China’s growing influence on the internet and surveillance technology – “The Great Firewall of China” “Besides chronicling past developments within China, the book stands as the latest in a growing chorus of warnings about the expanding global reach of China’s digital controls and its role as a source of inspiration and technology to other countries.”
Report on jailed Uighur singer A bit heavy on the hero worship, but somewhat understandable considering what Heyit has been up against and for how long.
Depressing report on the rise of Maoism inside China and elswhere X writes: Even as the shootings in Christchurch emphasize the power of the ultra-right, it is good to be reminded of the power of fascism’s left wing. Both of these phenomena are examples of the same thing: rising authoritarianism in the world, increasing frustration with existing dispensation, and absence of an anti-authoritarian anti-capitalist critique.
Report on Uighur poet Hardly a surprise, but this puts the lie to claims of the Chinese state that the wholesale incarceration of Uyghur and other Muslim populations of China’s far west is about “extremism,” or some kind of fundamentalist threat. What Han supremacy is doing in Tibet and Turkestan is just as vile, indeed made worse with the dark technology of our time, as the expressions of genocidal colonialism were in the Americas beginning five hundred years ago, or the efforts of the NSDAP to make Germany, in the words of Turning Point USA, “great again.” And the rest of the world passes judgment on itself with its obscene avidity in wanting to “do business” with the monsters making this all happen. But then, just a few months after the massacre in Tiananmen square, when the world’s capitalists temporarily boycotted Chinese products, it was all back to business-as-normal.
Rap eulogy to Chinese state achievements “What we are seeing is the inevitable outcome of a propaganda system that is cash-rich and culturally and intellectually bankrupt”
Report on protests by workers at online 2nd hand car dealership made recently redundant “… the sudden sacking of staff at second-hand car sales platform, RenRenChe, after the Lunar New Year holiday led to protests in at least six cities across the country….Around 100 workers staged a protest at the company’s headquarters in Beijing on the morning of 19 February. The workers demanded payment of their February salary, performance bonus and lay-off compensation after the company suddenly announced redundancies the day before. The company promised to come up with a compensation plan by ten o’clock but failed to deliver. In response, the workers blocked the outer doors of the office building to prevent managers from leaving. Security guards initially prevented staff from entering the building but the workers eventually forced their way in and jumped the barriers….”
After Repression, Revolt? More on Xi Jinping
Famous Uighur musician probably killed by state in internment camp X: “This concerns the fate of Uyghur musician Adbulrehim Heyit, who among his other “crimes” composed a song about an obstinate “guest” who overstays his welcome. The Chinese have issued a vid which resembles their forced-confession vids of human rights activists and dissidents shown on TV, and rather than shutting down the critical comments, this has sparked a strong reaction, even from the recent recipient of 3.6 billion dollars worth of “aid” from the Chinese, Turkey. The Chinese, correctly as irony would have it, have called the Turks hypocrites (and isn’t everybody?), but this still seems to a number of the commentators to be a kind of turning point in international perceptions of the Chinese and, it would seem, a possible threat to the “Road and Belt” initiative with which they were planning to secure their hold on the Eurasian continent.”
Blood plasma scare We can see here some aspects of growing totalitarianism and its practice of micromanaging appearances, which necessarily means the appearance of total control – which relates to the such regimes in general and not just this local (Chinese) example. ThIs paragraph is most revealing: “The story’s political sensitivity is amplified by its resonance with two others. It follows a series of public outcries over tainted or otherwise substandard vaccines or other medical products: last month, a city-level media directive from Huai’an, Jiangsu urged strict control of “calls to action or inflammatory information” following protests after 145 children received expired polio vaccines. Staff were also asked to gather links and screenshots of examples outside the local jurisdiction, apparently for referral to relevant authorities. Last July, a case involving 250,000 doses prompted a national directive to limit front-page coverage to reprints of official material, with other content given less prominent placement, special topic pages and links to earlier stories forbidden, and “comments attacking the system” targeted for deletion.
As Council on Foreign Relations and Seton Hall University health expert Yanzhong Huang relates in the extended quotation that follows: “…As sociologist Dingxin Zhao has argued, a state can justify its power in essentially three ways: by appealing to shared values, to the sanctity of of an electoral process and the rule of law, or to its own performance. In China , the CCP’s hold on power today isn’t based on popular elections or the rule of law, and the party can no longer appeal to the superiority of communism as a holistic political theory. So it must justify its continued rule by consistently delivering public goods, such as economic growth or better standards of living.
[…] In a top-down, state-dominated political system, the link between performance and legitimacy is dangerously tight. When I was conducting research about health effects of pollution in China last summer, I was amazed to hear many people, academics and ordinary Chinese, treat a policy failure (like a food safety crisis) or an economic problem (like rising income inequality) as failures of the ‘system’ (tizhi) itself.”
New Zealand researcher into Chinese government’s propaganda & intimidation methods becomes victim of Chinese government’s intimidation “Beginning in late 2017, Brady has had her home burgled and her office broken into twice. Her family car has been tampered with, she has received a threatening letter (“You are the next”) and answered numerous, anonymous phone calls in the middle of the night, despite having an unlisted number. The latest came at 3am on the day her family returned home after a Christmas break. “I’m being watched”, she says.” X says: “Something the present regime and the Maoists have in common, historically. And so it leads one to ask whether the Jasic Maoists are offering the Chinese anything better than another serving of dog shit.”(reference to this)
China plays the race card against Canada X writes:
“Here’s a laugh: Han supremacists calling out the (presently) more circumspect white supremacists of Canada for having a “double standard.” The Canadians should comply with Chinese demands – and treat Princess Meng the way the Han treat the Uighurs in those “education centers” of theirs, or possibly render to her the kind of justice the Tibetans have experienced. Or perhaps she would instead prefer the treatment meted out to the Falun Gong and be farmed for her internal organs. Yes, we know the elites of the world and their insistence on “rule of law,” and we know this law for what it is: the law of the jungle.”
As China threatens Taiwan, it seemed useful to provide some information about naval developments in the region:
Country’s first Chinese-built aircraft carrier launched on 18/5/18 A small selection of various kinds of pieces illustrating the nature of China’s naval power development and contrasting it to the other powers of East Asia. See also this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Izumo-class_helicopter_destroyer
“The rise of Chinese naval power has prompted the Japanese to build these two “destroyers” whom anyone with a lick of familiarity with the subject would call straight-up aircraft carriers, although not the kind capable of launching fixed-wing aircraft. With the trials of the new Chinese carrier being conducted right now, the Japanese have committed to building their first (true) aircraft carrier since 1945. No information yet on how large it will be The Izumos are in the 20,000 ton category, and the new Chinese ship is the same size as the US Forestal super-carrier of the late 1950s, just short of 60,000 tons – in other words, the same size as the UK’s new Queen Elizabeth class ships.“
See also this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dokdo-class_amphibious_assault_ship X writes: “Here is another “aircraft carrier by any other name” recently built in East Asia, this one by the South Koreans. The expansion of Chinese naval power has already triggered an arms race.”
“A general overview of the Japanese navy. It is interesting to note the comments of the Wiki staff regarding the Maya, Atago and Kongo classes of guided missile destroyers – which the Wiki says more resemble cruisers. Although this is a general trend among the world’s guided-missile destroyers, in the case of these three classes, the names are also associated with previous historical (Imperial Japanese Navy) cruisers and battlecruisers. Also, indicating the relative increase in importance of submarines, the adoption of the names of former Japanese aircraft carriers for the most recent class of submarines is a reflection of their assumption of the role of “capital ships.”
See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_003_aircraft_carrier
“This is the kind of aircraft carrier the PLA is currently aiming for – something that is roughly the equivalent of the US Nimits-class of today in general capabilities and dimensions.”
“Here it is noteworthy that the PLA is consistent with realizing its threats against Taiwan building a large number of amphibious warfare vessels, along with sophisticated destroyers and escort vessels. Also of note is the existence of Chinese ballistic missile submarines.”
From the introduction above:
“The possibility that China might become the architect of a new global system is not based on economic growth or military power. It doesn’t have to win a war against the US, so long as it has military autonomy in its own corner of the world; all previous global architects won defensive wars against the earlier global leader decades before ascending to the role themselves, and China already did this in the Korean War. Rather, it would have to make itself the center for the organization of global capitalism.”
Report on one of the founders of Hong Kong’s 79-day Occupy movement before he went on trial X writes: “This allows us a somewhat lengthy look into the mind of a Chinese democrat, and a reminder that the Chinese intelligentsia still has a tendency to succumb to Confucian behavioral norms.”
Recent developments in censorship X writes: “The fact that compliance with the orders to excise the more than 100,000 sensitive words and their more than 3 million derivatives is costing these scum at a time when buyers are spending less freely, is at least mildly amusing. The idea that the Party’s demands on language are so stringent and cover such an expanse of behavior and history – and the degree to which this is unknown (like June 4th for goodness sake), also shows the effects as mentioned before, of the Party’s clear-cutting of social knowledge. A certain kind of idiocy is being assiduously cultivated and the Maoist ‘workers’ support’ groups (supporting the working class with the ideology of its enslavement) are of course the best illustration of how this hobbles any serious opposition. Thinking outside the box, is, by definition, discouraged…and so there goes technical innovation too, to some extent, and with it the ability to compete with the more “open” capitalism of the West. The inherent structural problems of bureaucratic capitalism recapitulate themselves on a higher plane.”
Economy in crisis? “….as the world’s second-largest economy experiences its worst downturn since the 2008 global financial crisis…. China faces not just a slowing economy but also a protracted trade war with the US, a pile of debt that threatens the world economy along with the Chinese financial system, and a populace demanding better environmental, labour, and health protections. Next year, China’s leaders face some of the most difficult policy decisions they have had to make in years. Analysts say they are confronting a choice between pushing headline growth through Beijing’s traditional levers of infrastructure spending funded by debt, or painful reforms that lower financial risk but raise the possibility of unemployment, and ultimately social instability. Officially, China’s economy is humming along. Economic growth is expected to slow to 6.3% next year, after reaching 6.6% in 2018. The economy expanded by 6.5% in the third quarter, the country’s slowest quarter since 2009. Yet economic indicators from auto sales to manufacturing activity are all flashing red. In November, growth in China’s manufacturing sector stalled for the first time in more than two years. Annual auto sales in the world’s largest car market are on track to contract for the first time since 1990. Chinese stocks, more a measure of confidence than the real economy, have been some of the worst performing this year, losing $2tn (£1.58tn) in value. Factories have dismissed workers months early for the Chinese New Year holiday in February. Real estate, one of the few areas in which regular Chinese people can invest, has also suffered, causing developers to slash prices…”
School uniforms now have tracking devices “Each uniform has two chips in the shoulders which are used to track when and where the students enter or exit the school, with an added dose of facial recognition software at the entrances to make sure that the right student is wearing the right outfit (so you can’t just have your friend, say, wear an extra shirt while you go off and play hooky). Try to leave during school hours? An alarm will go off…the chips can apparently detect when a student has fallen asleep in class, and allow students to make payments (using additional facial or fingerprint recognition to confirm the purchase). “
Article on how well-known veteran dissidents are “touristed” “Recently, the Beijing police took my brother sightseeing again. Nine days, two guards, chauffeured tours through a national park that’s a World Heritage site, visits to Taoist temples and to the Three Gorges, expenses fully covered, all courtesy of the Ministry of Public Security. The point was to get him out of town during the 2018 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, held in early September. The capital had to be in a state of perfect order; no trace of trouble was permissible. And Zha Jianguo, a veteran democracy activist, is considered a professional troublemaker…”
Maoist gets arrested on his way to the 125th birthday party of his God X writes:“A real sign of the malignant stupidity of the times. When critical discourse is silenced, this is what happens. Don’t these stupid fuckers have any idea what happened to students and others who started “Marxist study groups” during the Mao era? The same bloody thing! To think the most savage counterrevolutionary ideology that ever was (and please correct me if I’m wrong, but is there any other ideology you know of that goaded people into eating each other?) is somehow revolutionary takes a sustained and determined ignorance that is truly jaw-dropping. This is how far the students of China have sunk. Again, what is needed is a demonstration demanding that the repression cease because Marxist ideology is no threat to Xi Jinping thought, the State or bureaucratic capitalism. This is an interreligious squabble that the CCP wants to treat as an existential threat: a virtuous circle of bureaucratic revalorization then; the repression against the Chinese Maoists, gives the anti-intellectual anti-proletarian ideology of Maoism the patina of “oppositional thought,” while the inevitable journey of the the young Maoists into the bureaucracy eventually gives new life-blood to the bureaucratic class.”
The Chinese bureaucracy’s model of social control goes global “One of the most striking aspects of Xi Jinping’s “New Era” is the rapid externalization of systems and policies previously only applied, for the most part, domestically. This external activism is of course a reflection of the CCP’s new effort to utilize the “historic window of opportunity” in international relations, identified by Xi as one of the defining characteristics of the “New Era.” The advancement of the PRC’s global interests, in particular through Xi’s ‘Belt and Road’ and other geopolitical initiatives, includes the extraterritorial expansion of social control mechanisms once mostly reserved to the PRC. These mechanisms comprise cooptive and coercive tactics: United Front work and repression, both intensified under Xi….The CCP’s Leninist model of governance applies several basic mechanisms to maximize control over a vast population by a small “vanguard” without the explicit consent of the governed masses. The model is onion-shaped, made up of three concentric layers of governance. The tools to control these three realms are, to echo a Maoist simile, “three magic weapons” (三大法宝): Party building, armed struggle (succeeded by state violence) and cooptation tactics (the United Front). The inner realm is the Party itself, the “vanguard” of China’s working class, the Chinese people and the Chinese “nation” (民族), controlled by the party discipline imposed by its core leadership. Resuming a trend often encountered in Communist history, Xi as the Party’s “Core” (核心) has been consolidated as a potentially perpetual dictator. Party discipline is mostly enforced through extra-legal bodies, notably the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI, 中央纪律检查委员会), prominent in Xi’s “anti-corruption” campaign. When these instruments are not deemed sufficient and discipline loosens, the Party is brought under control again with periodic purges. Individual Party members enjoy various privileges and certain career paths are only open to them, but at the same time are bound by strict Party discipline that subjects them to more direct control by the Core than any other social group.”
“Thou shalt have no other religions before me” says the god-king Xi X writes: “Interesting, but not surprising, that unauthorized “house churches” come in for the worst of it. There have been a number of cases where the communism of house churches such as the “Jesus Family” very clearly demonstrates how different communism can be from the totalitarian state capitalism of the “communist ” party.”
How dissidents are being ‘mentally-illed’ “A tense to be reckoned with for all us teachers of languages: the “involuntary passive.” It is no surprise to see its roots in Maoism or to see these roots running unbroken to the present. This is the authentic expression of the opposition, not the unconsciously self-parodic militantism of the neo-Maoists. China is an example of a place where Authority has turned all of politics into an irradiated zone.”
Google steps back from its Big Brother collaboration with the Chinese bureaucracy X writes: “The main point being that were it not for the principled individuals within the company who exposed the machinations of the Google techno-authoritarians, this would be unknown to us yet as anything more than the certainty that developments of this kind are expressions of core capitalist values and should be expected by all those who have an inkling of how the system works. The other half of the subject matter covered in this article illustrates the degree to which capital has become entangled with the business of legitimizing authoritarianism…openly, on a contractual basis…the pigs looking in the mirror (to borrow from Orwell) are beginning to realize that it was not a mirror after all; they were simply looking through a piece of transparent glass at each other.“
China, Jiangsu: 1000s of striking brewery workers clash with cops “Workers at a major brewery in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu faced off with police and security guards over the weekend after thousands went on strike over pay and conditions. Thousands of workers at the Yanghe Brewery in Jiangsu’s Suqian city tried to storm management headquarters on Sunday, but were headed off by dozens of police and security personnel, who shut the gates to stop them. Video footage of the confrontation showed hundreds of mostly female workers clad in white coats and hats running for the gates, but being overtaken by personnel in uniforms. The Shenzhen-listed brewery promised to hike wages in a statement on Sunday evening after reaching a negotiated settlement with workers. … the strike at a major local employer had made Suqian city leaders very nervous, and that they had imposed an information blackout on online news or content related to the protests. …A Yanghe Brewery worker who gave only a surname, Liao, said police have now locked down the Yanghe Brewery site, and are preventing workers from entering or leaving. He said the strike had been sparked by what workers said were unreasonable demands of the work force, including a production target of 8,000 cases per nine-hour working shift, which he said was “extreme,” and was accompanied by no additional pay….Liao said management at the factory were also flouting health and safety regulations, including depriving workers of rest breaks. “The strike isn’t over; we’re not back at work yet … there are about two or three thousand of us”…The strike began on Dec. 15 in a bid to protest “the disparity between rich and poor,” and to “defend the rights of thousands of people,” a statement from the workers posted to social media said. It said the dispute is more than a decade old, with bosses making large fortunes from the factory while exploiting generation after generation of its workers.”
The would-be totalitarian vice clamps down even on weak (ie artistic and only implicit) criticism of an aspect of their brave new world X writes: “The self-contradictory nature of the bureaucratic capitalist project is more sharply visible than elsewhere when it comes to the production of cultural values.”
China: report on truckdrivers’ strike “Several major cities and provinces in China have banned trucks with dangerously high exhaust emissions in a bid to tackle air pollution during the winter months. A notice issued by the Jiangsu provincial government, for example, identified diesel trucks as the major cause of air pollution in the region and said that tough restrictions on China 3 and China 4 standard diesel trucks were necessary in order to defend the blue sky. While many drivers agree that measures have to be taken to combat air pollution, they point out that the new measures place all the burden on them, with no assistance offered by the government. After the bans were introduced in November, drivers experienced a sharp drop in income and were quick to respond by staging strikes and protests in several different cities…“
Report on China’s influence on the USA X writes: “I notice with regret the names of Orville Schell (who once spoke to me appreciatively of the “No More Emperors” poster when we met mutual friend J W) and Elizabeth Economy, who ought to have taken a more critical attitude far earlier, based on what they knew and published long ago.”
Disappearance of a Leader (to be accompanied by this) “When she couldn’t sleep, she’d lustily sing “Che Guevara.” She loved photographing scenery that harmonized with Chairman Mao’s “wait ‘til bright mountain flowers are in full bloom” season.” X writes: “All the evil stupidities of Maoist “culture” and authoritarian psychology seem to be returning in this mirror-image opposition to the official hero-worship of Xi. It is amazing how the anti-authoritarian implications of feminism are ignored in this pathetic idolization of vanguard bureaucrats. It is time we asked “where are the actual Chinese revolutionaries while this pseudo-revolutionary shit-show is going on?” They are unlikely to be sticking their heads out now; we must look for them if they exist, because these avant-garde bureaucrats are certainly not them. …authoritarian behavioral norms (always, but increasingly so now) have infiltrated the ideas and norms of those seeking to overthrow the existing order now … in spades.”
Report on The Ministry of Truth’s latest memory hole actions “Regarding mass incidents involving veterans, all websites and new media must not interview, report, comment, or reprint without unified arrangements…. the party frets that veterans’ complaints will put off new recruits at a time when it is busily trying to raise their calibre. It fears that veterans’ protests will harm the morale of those serving now—especially of police or soldiers who are asked to help contain them. “
X writes: “Check the wooden prose and the uncritical identification of the greatest mass-murderer of proletarians in history with something “revolutionary.” And we’re supposed to be enthusiastic about this shit? This is just the revalorization of bureaucratic power.”
Review critical of Maoist myths in book on China X writes: “Even with the feeble critical ammunition at his disposal Friedman makes a number of telling points. But of course we can see huge opportunities this limited critical perspective neglects.”
Interpol resigns itself to the arrest of its boss by Chinese authorities Now obviously I don’t care about this guy at all but it seems extraordinary that this has received very little publicity compared, for example, with the murder of the Saudi Arabian journalist. Doesn’t this indicate something truly “alarming and new”, and at an international level – ie the enormous power China wields amongst the international bourgeoisie such that even a head of Interpol could “disappear”, and that his wife gets anonymous threats, whilst the secretary general of Interpol says “There’s no reason for me to suspect that anything was forced or wrong”. (see Interpol president “disappears” in Hong Kong here and here).
Yet another new technological development useful for the state “Chinese authorities have begun deploying a new surveillance tool: “gait recognition” software that uses people’s body shapes and how they walk to identify them, even when their faces are hidden from cameras….Gait analysis can’t be fooled by simply limping, walking with splayed feet or hunching over, because we’re analyzing all the features of an entire body…Shi Shusi, a Chinese columnist and commentator, says it’s unsurprising that the technology is catching on in China faster than the rest of the world because of Beijing’s emphasis on social control. “Using biometric recognition to maintain social stability and manage society is an unstoppable trend,” he said. “It’s great business.” X writes: “Just to note that the statement “Using biometric recognition to maintain social stability and manage society is an unstoppable trend” and the immediate addition that it is “great business” rather succinctly expresses the merging into a single identity of commercially-motivated totalitarianism (monitoring employee/consumer behavior) and politically-motivated totalitarianism.” But, like all “great business”, this is hyped up with lots of advertising of its perfection so as to sell it: “gait” is hardly like a face or iris or fingerprint. It may be that “you are totally unique in the way you walk” (though personally I doubt it), but actors know full well that walks can be altered and not just by limping. This is more a way of terrifying people with the invincibility of the state than a genuine expression of its apparent invincibility, as well as a marketing ploy.
Interview with a professor on his latest book about China: ‘The Perfect Dictatorship” Whilst this is informative, some of what the guy says is very much a product of an ivory tower separation from reality when it comes to looking at democracies – eg this bit of nonsense: “…now China is one of the most unequal societies in the world. And I think this is part of the reason for the dictatorship, because these are realities that could not be maintained under a democratic system ––the combination of very heavy taxes and very inferior services.” [my emphasis] Equally, his comparison of “Marxist internationalism” under Mao and “Chinese nationalism” under Xi ignores the reality of this previous “internationalist” discourse, which in practice had nothing internationalist about it (eg Mao’s deal with Nixon in 1972) – but always aimed at an “internationalism” useful for the Chinese nation.
Report on crackdown on student discussion groups etc. “Two Nanjing University students were assaulted this week for protesting against administrators’ refusal to recognize a Marxist student group. The incident is the latest in a series of events that highlight the further erosion of academic freedom on college campuses nationwide. In August, students from Nanjing University, Peking University, and Renmin University were detained after they traveled to Shenzhen to support worker efforts to form a union at Jasic Technology factory. Student participants from Renmin University were punished for their activism, with authorities putting students on blacklists and ordering protesters to be sent home.” See this on the Jasic workers’ struggle
Anti-China art exhibition in Hong Kong closed following threats from Beijing This is certainly not to defend the ideology and practice of “art”, but to illustrate how the bureaucracy’s hierarchical censorship is extending itself to the supposedly more ‘open’ Hong Kong area.
As Camps Expand in Xinjiang, Dispossession Breeds Discontent “….the crackdown in Xinjiang is part of a broader regressive move toward repression throughout China under Xi Jinping; “What we are witnessing, in short, is not a continuation of China’s oppressive status quo but the onset of something alarming and new”
Chinese internet censorship exported throughout world “Report on 65 countries finds global internet freedom has declined for eighth consecutive year. Chinese officials have briefed 36 of the nations assessed on controlling information”
Big Brother is Watching….Big Brother “A nationwide “early warning system” is collecting data on government officials to predict delinquency….“Total Coverage” Monitoring of Public Officials at All Levels:
- Monitor records of public officials’ cell phone, computer and online activities; emails and chats sent and received; bank, credit, and online transactions; commuting and travel; ID registration…
- Collect and report online commentary involving public officials in real time.
- Implement full coverage of public officials both online and offline, during and outside of “9-to-5.”
- “Pinpoint corruption” with early warning of possible work-related crimes through analysis of officials’ activities…”
Liars losing themselves in the labyrinth of lies ” Xi is conceited and refuses to listen to second opinions. He has chosen to live in an isolated space, surrounded by flatterers. He has no idea what is going on in the real world.” X writes:The liars have lied so much that within the circumscribed universe of the acceptable bureaucratic truth, contact with the real world has been broken to the point where the factuality no longer exists to make rational, objectively based decisions….The saturation point of ideology.
Report on State spies posted in Uighur homes & villages “…The village children spotted the outsiders quickly. They heard their attempted greetings in the local language, saw the gleaming Chinese flags and round face of Mao Zedong pinned to their chests, and knew just how to respond. “I love China,” the children shouted urgently, “I love Xi Jinping.”…Much reporting has focused on the unprecedented scale and penetration of the surveillance technology deployed to carry out this campaign and on the ways China’s government has pressured other countries to assist in the work of forcibly repatriating Uighurs living abroad. But less attention has been paid to the mobilization of more than a million Chinese civilians (most members of the Han ethnic majority) to aid the military and police in their campaign by occupying the homes of the region’s Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, and undertaking programs of indoctrination and surveillance, while presenting themselves as older siblings of the men and women they might then decide to consign to the camps….the big brothers and sisters feared the Uighurs might be slippery, that however cheerfully they might open their houses or declare their loyalty to the Chinese nation, beneath their smiles and gestures of wholesome secularism there might lurk darker allegiances, uncured attachments to their “diseased” religious ways. But there were simple ways to test for this kind of thing. One could offer a host a cigarette or a sip of beer; a hand could be extended in greeting to a little sibling of the opposite gender, staying alert for signs of flinching. Or one could go out to the market for some freshly ground meat and propose that the family make dumplings. And then wait and watch to see if the Uighurs would ask what kind of meat was in the bag. All of this was valuable evidence. Everything that could be detected would be recorded, go into notebooks and onto the online forms. Everything would be factored into the recommendations the big sisters and brothers would make about which of their hosts would be allowed to remain at home in their villages, with their children, and which ones should be sent away to have their defects repaired by the state.“
Report on Xi Jiping Thought and non-Xi Jiping Thought Thought Crimes “Just last week, Zhao Siyun of Zhejiang University of Media and Communications received an official reprimand for a speech advocating the ideal of the “public intellectual” who comments on national affairs. Such matters, I assume, are now the sole purview of Xi himself.” There seems to be a self-contradiction in the demand for this ideological servitude, since such a stultifying environment means repressing any innovative ideas that could help with the accumulation of capital. Given the endgame of capital, with impending disasters (financial, environmental, etc.) on the horizon, the only perspective left for many of those in control of statist and monetarist terror is repression repression repression, particularly when authoritarianism is their only reflex. But there’s probably a limit to how far this can help them: an element of recuperative reform is necessary just to make people feel that they have a bit to gain from suggesting ideas to their masters that could be beneficial to them. If the state can’t bend it could easily break. In the 2nd half of the 1960s, in the Cultural Revolution, ideology reached its explosion point. At that time there were many Red Guards who, following Mao’s words but not his practice, tried to base their struggle on the Paris Commune, complete with revocable mandated delegates (with the ensuing repression by Mao, trying to reign unintended results of his power struggle within the bureaucracy, some fled to Hong Kong to form the anarchist Minus group; see also this). The same sort of thing that happened with the Red Guards shows at least some slight indication of happening with the Jasic workers’ support group. Perhaps Xi and his buddies think they’ve got it wired this time, because they think they’ve got a qualitative improvement, especially technological, in the means of social control.
Death of of Ideology-Salesman “Hu was a well-known figure in the party’s tightly controlled official media and propaganda system, where many people suffer mental strain from having to repeat the party line rather than reporting on the issues of the day. … “Depression is very common in the media, because the amount of fakery we have to write gets to us psychologically,” she said. “Maybe she felt that she was still a person of conscience. Who knows? It’s complicated.”
Chinese bureaucracy fiercely defends totalitarian repression in Xinjiang with newspeak etc. X writes: This has got some funny lines, especially Shelly Zhang’ “don’t forget the non-cultural-genocide bread!”. I believe they missed one opportunity though. In one pic the state has this frightened puppet saying he makes 1300 Yuan a month and sends money home to his family. We have seen reports saying that people were rounded up and sent to the camps for sending money to their families (presumably outside China)…so does this mean that the man in question is going to be there for a second “tour of duty” until he stops sending money home?
Notice especially the comment by a former employee about the enthusiasm with which certain members of the Google leadership expound the rationales allowing them to continue working for the genocidal Chinese police state. Also notable is the opposition still within the company.
Key fact: only non-Uyghurs are allowed to study the Uyghur language
Pingdu: riot of war vets over health and pension benefits (report from 11/12/18) “The government refused to confirm the Pingdu riot at the time and censored reports about it on the Internet. The official Xinhua News Agency reported that around 60 people among the 300 who gathered assaulted officers and smashed a police van and three civilian vehicles using axe handles and fire extinguishers. A total of 34 policemen and others were injured during the disturbance, it said.“
Right after the fuckers opened the high-speed rail line from the mainland so they can run heaps of pigs into the city at a moments notice – the same way they sent (some of the) soldiers into Beijing in 1989. More on the high speed railway line opening ceremony
Not much difference between the surveillance the Chinese state imposes on its citizens and that which Google imposes on its workers.
Popular Chinese film star “disappears” “Fan has not been seen in public or made any public statements since 1 July when she visited a children’s hospital in Shanghai. An article in the official Securities Daily in August said she had been “placed under control and will accept legal judgement”. The story was quickly removed, and any mentions of it were scrubbed from Chinese social media along with Fan’s name. Companies and brands have distanced themselves from her. Her fiancé, another Chinese actor, has erased all photos or mentions of Fan this year from his profile on Weibo. A cameo by Feng Xiaogang, a director Fan works with, was cut from a Chinese film screened in Beijing on Sunday.” This seems extraordinary, a delirious result of despotism so paranoid & rigid that it can’t even bear a non-political focus of people’s focus, however passive. I doubt Stalin or Hitler would have dreamt this one up.
X: The microstructure of a totalitarianism which has married its archaic ideological roots (the Marxism-Leninism some conservative activists persist in thinking is, at this very late day and age, “radical”) to cutting-edge information storage and sharing, with omnipresent surveillance technology, to produce the truest expression of the totalitarian ethos today.
China’s Little-Noticed ‘New Police Law’ Gives Vastly Expanded Legal Powers to Public Security Apparatus
Note from the photo – the old monster who launched the world’s most comprehensive speed-up and then persecuted the people who patched up the economy after it all went wrong is still featured as a “workers’ icon”. Pathetic. It’s no good for the workers and intelligentsia creating an allegedly “new political language for the world’s largest working class” if it still brandishes the iconography of red fascism.
China: report on increased state repression of strikes “The harsh police response to the ongoing Jasic Technology workers’ campaign in Shenzhen seems to coincide with a recent surge in swift police intervention to dissolve workers’ collective actions in the past month, and this new phenomenon is not geographically confined to Shenzhen or Guangdong province. Between July and August 2018, CLB’s Strike Map recorded 12 cases of police intervention out of 279 workers’ collective actions; meanwhile, between January and June, police intervened in a total of 17 cases out of 907. Arrests quickly spiked from 1.8% in six months -or at an average of 0.3% per month- to 4.3% in just one month.” See also entries on this site for 24th, 23rd & 15th August 2018. And discussion on Jasic workers strike above (below 28/9/18).
China, Hunan province: 30 cops injured as parents resist transfer of kids to private boarding schools “30 officers wounded in clashes involving hundreds of people outside the Leiyang public security bureau headquarters in Hunan province…The incident was triggered by a provincial order to cut class sizes at schools in the city’s stretched education system to a maximum of 66 pupils by relocating all fifth and sixth graders to a private campus. The teachers would be transferred with the pupils and no extra fees would be charged but the children would have to live in dormitories during the week….The change would affect nearly 10,000 pupils who are due to start the new school year on Monday…In online posts that have since been deleted ,parents complained that some dormitories were unfinished and smells in the newly refurbished buildings raised concerns about indoor pollutants. On Saturday, some parents mounted protests at their schools in central Leiyang, blocked a national highway and demonstrated outside the Leiyang government offices. Police detained five people and cleared the road …demonstrators mounted another protest outside the city’s public security bureau headquarters to demand the release of the five detainees…… protesters threw water bottles, bricks, fireworks and petrol bottles at government officials and police officers, wounding the 30 officers and damaging the police building and vehicles…the clashes were brought under control early Sunday morning…“What led to it was not just education policies but discontent with local governance”…Beijing-based political commentator Hu Xingdou said parents had mounted similar protests in other parts of the country in the last two years and this incident showed how easy social unrest could erupt over mishandling of a seemingly small issue. “Local governments have to face the challenge because they are the ones dealing with residents and face the consequences of social unrest, especially in the social media age and when society is in transition,” Hu said. “Discontent can snowball and turn into big protests. Local authorities must improve governance from simply imposing blocks, such as deleting online postings, to … governing in accordance with the law.”
China, Shenzhen: over 50 support group students and workers have their rooms broken into by SWAT police and are dragged away, location unknown See entries for 23/8/18 and 15/8/18 below. And 3/9/18 above.
More flotsam rises to the surface as evidence of Chinese genocide in their western provinces (the ones they promised self-governance when they were Long Marching through that same countryside in the late 1930s, one might recall). You expected this – but to find complicity in this gargantuan state crime by the NBA (that’s right, the US National Basketball Association!!!), is thoroughly stunning, and to find them clamming up when asked about it…perhaps the sporting associations just need to clarify their relationship with bully culture just a little bit more…
China, Shenzhen: report on factory struggles and repression of independent trade unions More here and here. For latest twitter updates on labour conflict there, see the following Chinese twitter accounts:
https://twitter.com/2b0bKXcWuXpoNbb (Support Group Twitter); https://twitter.com/yuexinmutian (Support Group Organizer Yue Xin’s Twitter). And this: https://twitter.com/olRbaEHNMNWLwWj
X (a contact) wrote about this report from 10/8/18 of old guard Maoists supporting this struggle: “The militant reformist wing of the bureaucratic class. The avant-garde of recuperation, a faction of which let itself be used by Xi Jinping himself, not so very long ago. Flagrantly opportunistic.” The development of trade unions invariably tends towards the development of a bureaucracy from within (as opposed to bureaucracy imposed from outside). Nevertheless it’s important to distinguish between how these unions develop in formally democratic countries like the UK or France and those that develop in far more overtly autocratic countries like China. In the former they tend towards a repetition of something close to 200 years of labour struggles with all their contradictions yet this time quickly arriving at banality: absolute collaboration with the ruling society. However in countries where non- statist unions are illegal, things are more complex and not as predictable. Which is not to ignore how such organisations could develop; after all, trade unions were originally forbidden in dictatorial countries like South Africa under apartheid. The current president started as a union organiser for the miners in the early 1980s and yet later lead to him ordering the massacre of miners at Marikana in August 2012, and is now one of Africa’s richest men, worth over half a billion dollars. Not saying that the same trajectory will play out in China at all, just that it’s naive to not be cautious about even independent trade unions as a vehicle for independent struggle.
Dissident artist’s studio destroyed Not so much a critique of art, more a way of reducing art to anything that flatters the elite.
Liberal intellectual fears about totalitarianism Obviously nothing radical about it but indicative of the growing anxieties about growing repression.
X: Some memorable euphemisms for being sent to the camps: he’s “gone back to Xinjiang” – if he lived in some other part of China. He’s been placed “behind the black gate,” or “he’s got another home” now….
X writes: Note that Tibetans still have to deal with a higher ratio of cops to people than the Uighurs. Now the “Han” [I put this in inverted commas because, contrary to the dominant ideology, Han is no more an ethnic category than “Tudor” or “Windsor”] overlords forbid any initiative for the promotion of local language and culture, or for the protection of the local environment whatsoever. So these genocidal vermin are what the UK has selected to run a huge nuclear power plant in Britain, and no one says that the gov’t of the UK is complicit in crimes against humanity…
Story about doctor who criticised private pharmaceutical company’s snake oil medicine being imprisoned and how mention of his PTSD is censored
Developments in China’s Social Credit system “the SCS (Social Credit System) is, or has the potential to become, the Orwellian nightmare many fear it to be: an omniscient machine hoovering up the massive amounts of data individuals generate as they plod through their lives, processing it to deliver a quantified score that creates an ideological and consumerist straightjacket for every Chinese citizen”
On the Chinese state propaganda machine’s falsification of the misery of Ethiopian workers working in a Chinese shoe factory
China censors humour app More detailed report here At least the article in China Change about Neihan Duanzi is somewhat encouraging, although the parallel they draw between the sloppy corruption of the Egyptian forces of repression and the near-Singaporean level of “squeaky clean” police state competence one is likely to encounter in China may preclude an “Arab Spring”-type outcome – especially since the regime of Xi Jinping has already had the dress-rehearsal of the “Jasmine” movement to practice-up on.
Report on a vile little shit who hoped to cash in on extraditing Chinese dissident from US Impalement is too good for him: he’s beyond the pale
Scary use of facial recognition cameras “Chinese police have used facial recognition technology to locate and arrest a man who was among a crowd of 60,000 concert goers…China has a huge surveillance network of over 170 million CCTV cameras.“
China: as 120,000 Uyghurs are forced into “re-education camps… the intensification of totalitarian social control spreads beyond China A contact writes: “The poison spreads. … a very long time ago (1964-1965) there was, on the ground-breaking and often quite excellent science-fiction series “Outer Limits” an episode titled “O.B.I.T.” In it a spying technology at a highly secret US government department is used to check on individuals at any time the operator choses. Anxieties about infidelity and other kinds of disloyalty drive operators to destroy the fabric of their lives and finally, to murder. An investigation is held and the creator of the technology, a character who looks remarkably like Edward Teller [creator of the H-bomb], is revealed to be an alien who says this technology, now that it has been released and has metastasized, will undermine human solidarity destroy its institutions and render the planet ripe for invasion. It’s been decades since I’ve seen it, but revisiting that territory might yield some further ideas, metaphors, possible agitational means of mobilizing the public imagination, etc., to augment the critiques we might already have.”
Due to technical problems, this Chronology continues here