The Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission and the Cyberspace Administration of China are two different names given to one single identity. The former is a department level body within the Chinese Communist Party system, a commission of the CCP’s Central Committee; the latter is a ministry level agency in the central government of China. Both names share the same abbreviation – CAC, which is China’s top authority regulating cyber affairs.
On November 14, the CAC met with a list of major Chinese social media — Baidu, Tencent, Sina, Toutiao, Sohu, NetEase, UC, idianzixun.com, Phoenix, and Zhihu. The CAC instructed these platforms to examine their user accounts comprehensively and to take corrective measures so that their user accounts follow an industry wide uniform standard. CAC also required each platform to perform a “cleanup” of the self-media accounts immediately and never allow the disciplined accounts to be “reborn” under another user name or achieve a “reincarnation” on another platform.
The ongoing campaign against social media started on October 20 and has “dealt with” 9,800 some accounts. The official reports said that the main issues are: A) spreading politically harmful information, maliciously tampering with the history of the Party and the nation, disparaging heroes, and damaging the image of the country; B) creating rumors, spreading false information, using sensational article titles, profiting from the spread of rumors, using false information to attract attention, and disturbing the normal social order; C) willfully spreading vulgar and pornographic information, disrupting the social order and traditions, challenging the moral bottom line, damaging the healthy growth of the young people; using a large number of self-media accounts for malicious marketing, adopting black PR (influential netizens hired to use postings to support or attack some companies), extortion, infringing on the legitimate rights and interests of normal enterprises or individuals, challenging the bottom line of the law; D) willfully plagiarizing, attracting cyber fans by “washing articles” (make minor modifications of other’s original articles), fake web traffic, and disrupting the normal order of communication.
Most of the disciplined social media accounts are on Tencent’s WeChat and Sina’s Weibo platforms. CAC also stressed that “social media is by no means a lawless place.” “In the next step, CAC will work with other branches to strengthen inspection and supervision of the social media platforms. It will strictly investigate and punish the irresponsible and problematic companies, so that illegal social media accounts have nowhere to hide.”
CAC also issued the “Security Assessment Provisions for Internet Information Service with Public Opinion Attributes or Social Mobilization Capabilities,” which will be implemented on November 30. This regulation includes all of the following cyber services or functions into the category of being “with Public Opinion Attributes or Social Mobilization Capabilities” and scope of regulation: forums, blogs, microblogs, chat rooms, communication groups, public accounts, short videos, webcasts, information sharing, and small applications.
Source: Radio France International, November 16, 2018
On November 15, the spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said at a press briefing that China is continuing active investment cooperation with the countries along the “Belt and Road.” In the first ten months of this year, China made new additional investments in 55 countries along the “Belt and Road,” totaling US$11.9 billion, or a 6.4 percent growth on a year-over-year basis. The total contractual value of newly signed projects in the countries along the “Belt and Road” was US$80.91 billion, accounting for 48.1 percent of the total in the same period; the accomplished turnover of the new projects was US$65.33 billion, or 53.7 percent of the total.
In the first ten months of the year, Chinese investors conducted non-financial direct investment of US$89.57 billion in 4,905 overseas enterprises in 155 countries and regions, registering a year-on-year increase of 3.8 percent.
Source: Chinese Ministry of Commerce, November 15, 2018
BBC reported that statements that college entrance examination candidates would be subjected to a political performance review have caused an uproar among netizens. On November 6, the Chongqing Party Committee’s “Chongqing Daily” published a report titled, “Registration for the Chongqing 2019 General College Entrance Examination Starts on November 7th; a Political Performance Review Is an Important Reference for the College Entrance Examination.” The report quoted the Chongqing Education Examination Institute as saying that the political performance review is one of the requirements for the 2019 college entrance examination. The results will be reflected in the comprehensive review of the candidate’s qualifications. Unqualified political conduct mainly includes “opposition to the four basic principles, poor moral quality, and illegal criminal conduct.” Those who fail the review will not be admitted to the university. After many mainstream media in China reported on this issue, the report caused an uproar on the social platform. Many netizens criticized that the “political performance review” is “turning back the wheel of history.”
In the early morning on November 9, the Chongqing Education Examinations Institute issued a statement on its official website to apologize, saying that it is not accurate to identify the “Ideological and Political Morality Assessment” as a “political performance review.” The examination institute also stated that the content of the “Ideological and Political Morality Assessment” for candidates in the 2019 Chongqing College Entrance Examination has not changed.
On November 12, a Duowei News article reported that following the announcement from the Chongqing Education Examinations Institute, the Fujian Education Examinations Institute had also issued a notice on November 9 stating that it will conduct an “Ideological and Political Morality Assessment” for candidates in the college entrance examination and make a comprehensive appraisal of the candidates’ political attitudes and moral character.” The notice specifically stated that candidates who made statements against the basic principles established in the Constitution or who participated in cult organizations would not be allowed to participate in the college entrance examination.
An online post titled, “Political performance review of your uncle” “政审你大爷” strongly criticized the practice of the college entrance examination. The post stated, “Many policies in this country are ridiculous.” “When collecting taxes, they never feel that our moral quality is bad and that there is no need for our dirty money, but when it’s time for our children’s college entrance exam, they dislike our children for their improper moral quality and don’t let them participate in the college entrance exams.” This post has since been deleted.
1. BBC Chinese, November 9, 2018 https://www.bbc.com/zhongwen/simp/chinese-news-46134585
2. Duowei News, November 12, 2018, http://news.dwnews.com/china/news/2018-11-12/60097529.html
Two non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Hong Kong and the Netherlands issued a joint investigation report on Wednesday November 14. The report investigated 167 suicides and attempted suicide incidents in China. The results showed that the suicide rate is extremely high among Chinese workers in the high-tech electronics industry as they were struggling due to a fast-paced environment, fear of losing their job, and worries about being punished.
The report lists the main reasons for suicide, including pressure from their superiors, unfair punishment, denial of bonuses, and the fear of losing their jobs.
The frequent suicides in the Chinese electronics industry highlight the lack of independent workers unions to speak for the employees.
China’s electronics industry employs tens of millions of migrant workers. Non-governmental organizations often condemn employers for violating labor laws. In October, the Apple Group launched an investigation into a supplier in China, which was accused of hiring students and forcing them to assemble smart watches as if they were robots.
According to a survey that the Dutch NGO Electronics Watch released in 2016, Chinese workers in the electronics industry often work more than 80 hours a week, almost double the 44-hour working week that the law stipulates.
Source: Radio France International, November 14, 2018
Guilin University of Electronic Technology (GUET), a university in China’s southwest Guangxi Province, recently took a rare action unseen in the past few decades. For half a month, GUET has been inspecting the illegal audio and video files on more than 40,000 students and faculty members’ phones, personal computers, and removable hard disks, with no stone unturned. The university acknowledged this operation and claimed that the instructions came from the higher level authorities. All the schools were simply following the orders.
On November 13, a Radio Free Asia reporter obtained the No. 77 document, which GUET had issued. The document stated that domestic and foreign hostile forces were spreading illegal audio and visual materials through the Internet and mobile phones. Therefore, the university arranged this operation to strike the spread of audio and video programs involving violence, terrorism, reactionary contents, and pornography.
The operation began on November 7 and will end on November 23; it will target all faculty members and students. The scope of devices includes mobile phones, computers, mobile hard drives, and USB flash drives. The requirement is to complete coverage without missing a single person. After the inspection, subordinate units and colleges must submit written summaries, which the main leader must sign and affix with the official seal, and then hand them over to the school’s security unit.
It is the first time in the past 20 years that a public notice has been issued to conduct a large-scale computer inspection.
A staff member of the school confirmed that it was indeed the case. The staff said that the instructions came from the upper level and each school would release its own method of implementation.
In addition, the police can monitor the audios and videos. If illegal files are found and are found to be serious, the police will handle them or the Domestic Security Protection Bureau, a branch of Ministry of Public Security dealing with dissidents and activists will do so.
GUET is a university under the joint jurisdiction of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology; the State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense; and the Guangxi Provincial government. It is also tasked with training technical personnel for the military.
Source: Radio Free Asia, November 13, 2018