Major Taiwanese news network Liberty Times Network (LTN) recently reported that 21 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, including Senator Marsha Blackburn and Congresswoman Michelle Steel, wrote to the U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in March, calling for replacing the Confucius Institutes with Taiwan-based Chinese language education programs. The goal is to let U.S. students learn Chinese in an environment without censorship and threats. This new action is to build on the Taiwan-US Education Initiative created last December. The joint letter also copied Sung Kim, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian & Pacific Affairs. The U.S. lawmakers mentioned that there are still Confucius Institutes operating in 55 U.S. colleges today. On the surface, it appears to be an effort to teach Chinese language and the Chinese culture. In fact, the Confucius Institute is sponsored and monitored by the Chinese Ministry of Education. Many times, research has shown that its operations pressured the teachers to avoid anything that damages the interests of the Chinese Communist Party. However, we have to recognize that there is a global education need for the Chinese language, culture and history, which can be fulfilled by Taiwan-based education programs without any censorship.
Source: LTN, April 7, 2021
Well-known Chinese news site Sina (NASDAQ: SINA) recently reported that, according to Swiss Julius Baer Group’s Global Wealth and Lifestyle Report 2021, Asia remains the most expensive region in the world and Shanghai, replacing Hong Kong, has become the world’s top city with the highest living cost. The report showed that Shanghai’s consumer prices increased by six percent last year, while the global average was only one percent. Shanghai’s business class airfare and hotel lodging price both increased rapidly. Hong Kong dropped its ranking from number one to number three. Tokyo now ranks number two. The Julius Baer Report covers 25 major cities in the world, mainly tracking the prices of 20 high-end products and services to compose high-end lifestyle indicators. This year’s focal point was on the impact of the pandemic and the findings showed a serious drop for travel related industries.
Source: Sina, April 9, 2021
Global Times recently reported that U.S. Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Rob Manfred announced on April 2 that MLB will pull the MLB All Star game out of Georgia, citing disagreement over Georgia’s recent voting regulation changes. Fox News immediately jumped in on the same day saying MLB just signed a big broadcast contract a couple of days back with China’s Tencent, which had cut off its NBA broadcast in 2019 when Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey criticized China’s Hong Kong human rights matters. Fox appeared to try to prove that MLB’s voting rights position is hypocritical as if Hong Kong’s protests had anything to do with Tencent. In the meantime, Republican Senator Marco Rubio wasted no time to join the debate by suggesting that it’s ironic that MLB signed a new deal with a Chinese Communist Party supported company and boycotted an already-signed deal with the U.S. State of Georgia nearly at same time. Former U.S. President Trump also jumped in and called for a boycott of MLB, along with a few other companies. However, even former U.S. President Obama praised the MLB’s action. Current U.S. President Biden also “strongly” supported MLB. Out of blue, Tencent became the latest victim of U.S. politics.
Source: Global Times, April 4, 2021
China’s cyber regulator recently set up platforms for people to report “distortions of the history of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), attacks on CCP leaders and the denigration of heroes and martyrs.” It quotes the CCP’s General Secretary Xi Jinping who once emphasized the need to “clearly oppose historical nihilism.”
In the modern Chinese Communist’s discourse, “historical nihilism” is a term that refers to the criticism of the socialist system or the leadership of the CCP. Xi Jinping once said that the key of “historical nihilism” is to deny fundamentally the leading position of Marxism and the historical inevitability of China’s socialist path, and to deny the leadership of the CCP.
The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the nation’s top cyber regulator, recently circulated an article on its WeChat public account. “Some people with ulterior motives, under the banner of so-called ‘reflecting on history’ and ‘recovering the truth,’ have been spreading false remarks of historical nihilism by taking things out of context and making things up out of nothing.” The article said, “They maliciously distort, denigrate and deny the history of the party, the state and the military, in an attempt to confuse people.”
CAC’s report center opened a channel for reporting “harmful information related to historical nihilism” on its official website, its smartphone apps and its telephone hotline. Accepted contents include: distorting the history of the CCP and China, attacking the CCP leadership and its ideology and policies, denigrating heroes and martyrs, and denying the traditional Chinese culture, revolutionary culture and advanced socialist culture.
Xi Jinping attaches much importance to the education of CCP history. In one meeting in 2013, he mentioned that one reason behind the collapse of the Soviet Union was the denial of the Soviet Union, the denial of the history of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the denial of Lenin and Stalin, and historical nihilism. In another meeting in February this year, he said, “One must clearly oppose historical nihilism, strengthen ideological guidance and theoretical analysis and clarify the ambiguous knowledge and one-sided understanding of some major issues of the party’s history.”
Source: Central News Agency, April 11, 2021
For many years and in most areas, China has implemented a compulsory cremation policy. In some small towns that believe in Feng Shui, however, people still try to bury their deceased family members. Some have even tried to find a replacement dead body to cremate and in some cases, people have been killed because of it. It has become a secret practice in the funeral industry.
An article, “Looking for a Dead Body” that Sohu published on April 7 was quickly deleted. The article exposed a case in Shanwei City of Guangdong province in which a family offered to pay for a replacement “dead body” for the deceased father because the father said he didn’t want to be cremated after he dies. In 2017, after the father passed away, the family paid 107,000 yuan (US$16,315) for a dead body to replace the father in the cremation. A local coffin driver ended up killing a mentally handicapped person and swapped the body for cremation. A court paper showed how, in January of this year, the driver was arrested and sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve.
In 1997, China implemented new funeral regulations. They stipulated that cremation is implemented except for ethnic minorities and in a few regions. The main reason is the land scarcity due to population growth. In Shanwei city where the murder case was reported, it ranked the bottom in the nation on implementing the cremation policy. The city didn’t enforce the ban on burial and the sale of coffins until 2012. However, many people still find ways to bury their deceased relative secretly. They may swap with another dead human or an animal body. There have been at least four other similar cases reported in Lufeng region of Shanwei city. Many of the replacement dead bodies are homeless people, beggars, or elderly people living alone.
Some funeral homes also take the opportunity to accept bribes from people who want to have the deceased family member buried. A Sohu report disclosed one incident in 2014, in which one funeral home asked for 60,000 yuan (US$9,149) to replace the body. Almost all of the wealthy families in the region have paid for a replacement body so they could bury their dead family members.
Source: Central News Agency, April 9, 2021
According to Expressen, an evening newspaper in Sweden, on Thursday April 8, Jojje Olson, an independent journalist who is familiar with China issues, received an email from the Chinese Embassy. The email demanded that he stop writing critical news reports on China and accused him of conspiring with people who advocate “Taiwan independence” and spreading misinformation to incite anti-Chinese sentiments. The email called Olson “dishonest and morally corrupt” and explicitly warned Olson that he would face consequences. This is not the first time that the embassy demanded that Olson stop reporting on China but the tone in the latest email appears to be more threatening.
A spokesperson for the Sweden Democrats stated that the Chinese ambassador to Sweden has threatened Swedish journalists and politicians for many years, which is unacceptable. In 2019, the Swedish Democratic Party proposed that Ambassador Gui Congyou be listed as an “unwelcomed person.” A spokesperson of the Christian Democrats mentioned that even though Gui Congyou was summoned, he didn’t change his wolf-warrior diplomatic style. Therefore the Swedish government should list Gui as an “unwelcome person.”
Since taking office as the Chinese ambassador to Sweden, Gui Congyou has repeatedly accused the Swedish media of “viciously attacking the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party.” In 2020, Gui Congyou accused the Swedish Express and the Swedish Daily of “maliciously criticizing China.” The embassy sent at least three malicious e-mails to the political editor of the Swedish Nerikes Allehanda newspaper for publishing an interview with Taiwan’s representative to Sweden while criticizing China in the same report.
Other Swedish opposition parties also expressed dissatisfaction with the Chinese Embassy’s attempts to influence Sweden’s freedom of speech.
Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde stated that the Swedish government has summoned Gui Congyou multiple times to inform him that freedom of speech is guaranteed by the Constitution of Sweden and that journalists are free to conduct interviews and reports. Meanwhile the Swedish government has repeatedly asked the Chinese ambassador to respect Swedish law and said they would not accept threats.
Source: Radio Free Asia, April 10, 2021
As the centennial of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), propaganda activities in film, television and pop culture are in full swing, the authorities are also bringing in Westerners to “tell the China story.” The Shanghai Municipal Government and the Xinmin Evening News cooperated to produce a series of videos entitled “100 Years of the Great Party – Foreigners Tell the Stories.”
The series interviews 100 foreigners from all over the world, including artists, scholars, scientists, entrepreneurs, and sports stars, who share their feelings about Shanghai. The film was set to be shown for 100 days starting from April 8th.
The first episode featured Malcolm Clarke, an English film maker who received two Academy Awards for Best Documentary. In 2020, Clarke and his team were allowed to stay in the city of Wuhan to shoot a documentary about the outbreak of Covid-19.
Zhou Huilin, the propaganda chief of the CCP’s Shanghai Municipal Committee, said she hoped that the foreign media would “continue to adhere to an objective and impartial stance” in their reporting, so that the international community could understand the CCP, China and Shanghai.
Source: Central News Agency, April 9, 2021