Skip to content

Briefings - 2. page

The Arrest of Yang Hengjun

The Chinese government arrested Yang Hengjun (杨恒均), a China-born Australian citizen on January 19, 2019. On April 8, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation aired an interview with his wife who appeared (on the show) in tears, asking the Australian government to rescue her husband.

This news created some heated discussions among some Chinese media for the following reasons:

First, Yang has been writing articles promoting democracy after he began living outside of China. He built up a large reader base. In January, he flew, with his wife and daughter, from New York to Guangzhou where he was arrested at the Guangzhou airport. On the surface, his arrest appeared to be the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) retaliation against a democracy promoter.

Second, Yang’s wife, Yuan Xiaoqian (袁小靓) has the pen name of “Ran Xiang (染香).” “Ran Xiang” is one of the biggest “fifty cents” writers. “Fifty cents” people refers to Chinese who copy and paste government-fed materials on the Internet to praise the CCP or to echo the party’s position. At the beginning, they were paid 50 cents for every posting  and therefore obtained the name of “50 cents.” Now some die-hard party supporters do that even if they are not paid. In China, there are a few super-big “fifty cents” writers who frequently write their own articles to brown-nose the CCP. “Ran Xiang” is one of them. She used to attack Western democracy and freedom, claiming that the CCP’s dictatorship is the best democracy or that “democracy will not succeed in Asia.”

These super-big “fifty cents” writers are supposed to be the favorites of the CCP, but there is a bit of irony here. Even the biggest “fifty cents” writer cannot protest about her husband and has to go to a Western country that she belittled to ask for help on the grounds of human rights.

The third is the most controversial one: Yang is actually not a democracy promoter but rather the main executor of the CCP’s “Big Global Propaganda (大外宣)” strategy. His position of promoting democracy is just a disguise.

Some evidence includes that, despite the fact that Yang had been talking about democracy for a decade, he was invited to attend Beijing’s celebration of National Day (October 1) at the Great Hall of the People in 2014. Only high-ranking government officials and people with an extremely high status can attend that gathering. In addition, 35 owners/managers of overseas Chinese media (the CCP’s Propaganda Department has directly controlled or invested in most of them) formed the International New Media Cooperation Organization in Beijing on December 11, 2014. Yang was elected as the Chairman.

If Yang was indeed working for the CCP, why did the CCP arrest him? One theory is that he may belong to the faction of Jiang Zemin and Zeng Qinghong. After Xi Jinping cleansed Jiang’s loyalists from the State Security Ministry, Yang was abandoned and eventually arrested.

Yang’s being a CCP spy is also a better explanation of why a democracy promoter (which Yang appeared to be) would marry a big “fifty cents” writer who was totally anti-democracy.

Yang, 53, graduated from the Department of International Politics of Fudan University (students from this department normally work in the state security or diplomat areas). He worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Hainan Provincial government, and at China’s state-owned enterprise in Hong Kong. In 2000, he became a naturalized citizen of Australia. He has been living with his family in the U.S. for the past few years.


1. The Epoch Times, April 11, 2019
2. Twitter

3. YouTube

Beijing Threatened Delegations to the United Nations (UN)

A human rights organization issued a statement condemning the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for threatening delegations to the United Nations from other countries. The CCP warned them not to support the UN Human Rights Council’s review of China’s human rights record.

Last month, the Beijing delegation sent letters to multiple delegations in Geneva pressuring and warning them not to attend the Xinjiang human rights forum that the U.S., Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and the U.K.were hosting on March 13. Several diplomats verified that they had received such letters, which had the signature of Yu Jianhua, China’s Ambassador to the United Nations and the head of its UN delegation in Geneva.

Some diplomats from developing countries also verified that the CCP diplomats even came to visit them to warn them not to attend the forum.

Source: The Epoch Times, April 2, 2019

Chinese Official Threatened an Italian News Reporter

During Xi Jinping’s visit to Italy, a Chinese media official from the Chinese Embassy in Rome threatened a female Italian news reporter from the Italian Newspaper Il Foglio multiple times.

The incident happened when Xi Jinping was holding a meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella in Rome on March 22. Yan Han, the lead official from the media office of the Chinese Embassy, came to threaten Giulia Pompili of Il Foglio. He said to her multiple times, “You must stop saying bad things about China.” ” I’m very clear who you are.” Ms. Pompili asked him to show his ID, but he refused. She took out her phone. Yang walked closer to her and requested her to “put down (her) phone.”

Ms. Pompili was covering the Asia-Pacific area for Il Foglio. In 2012, she won a news report award. She has been focusing on China for the past nine years. On April 9, 2016, she wrote an analysis on China’s news reporting industry. She asked, “How can a news reporter work in China? How can they find information in a country that mixes propaganda and news together? How does the government try to restrict the vitality of some factors of the media?”

Source: VOA, March 25, 2019

Apple Music Removed the Theme Song of Hong Kong Movie “A Chinese Ghost Story II” from China

Prior to the upcoming 30th anniversary of the June 4th student movement, Apple Music removed a theme song from China that had been in a Hong Kong movie. The title of the song was “A Human’s Path (人间道).” it was the theme song in the famous film “A Chinese Ghost Story II” which was released in 1990. It was produced by the late Hong Kong musician Huang Zhan. Huang Zhan mentioned in a video interview a few years later that many Hong Kong people had already emigrated abroad before and after 1989, and everyone who stayed in Hong Kong was confused about the future. However, when he saw the Tiananmen incident, he felt terrible. He said during the interview that no one at the time knew what the song was referring to, but he wanted to put “emotions secretly into this song.” After Apple Music removed this song, many Chinese major online music sites such as “Xiami” or ” NetEase Cloud Music” also followed up to remove the song.

In recent years, Apple Music removed the works of the Hong Kong democracy movement musicians including Anthony Wong Yiu-ming (黄耀明), Denise Ho (何韵诗) and all the works of the singer Bobby Chen (陈昇) who is accused of (favoring) “Taiwan independence.” In addition, Apple Music removed the songs that were said to be related to the Tiananmen Square incident, including “Time Flies Soundlessly (岁月无声)” by the famous Hong Kong-known band “Beyond,” “Don’t Ruin it (別去糟蹋)” by the mainland band “Black Panthers,” and Cui Jian’s album “Balls Under the Red Flag (红旗下的蛋)” as well as the famous American band “Guns and Roses” album “China’s Democracy.”

Apple’s ban on songs has once again caused concern about the political compromises that the technology leaders have been unable to evade after entering the Chinese market. When companies such as Google or Apple entered the Chinese market, they all said they would abide by relevant Chinese laws and regulations.

The ban, however, has caused discussions on the internet. Many people started looking for this song to listen to it. In China’s famous video sharing platform “Bilibili 哔哩哔哩,” there is still a film by singer Jacky Cheung at the concert singing the song “A Human’s Path (人间道).” People’s comments showed that they understand very well what the lyrics were implying. One post stated. “The intention is not to let people mention it and prevent the topic from fermenting.” Another post said the song was “brave.”

So far, Apple has not responded about this matter.

Source: BBC Chinese, April 11, 2019

Sina Weibo Shut Down Accounts that “Disseminate Harmful Information”

On the afternoon of April 16th, the Sina Weibo Community Management official microblog released an announcement on the recent investigation into the harmful information and accounts in Weibo. The announcement stated that from March 28, 2019, until April 10, 2019, according to the requirements of relevant laws and regulations, Sina Weibo banned and closed a number of accounts that had disseminated harmful information. The accounts closed included that of Actor Zhao Lixing, who has 7 million followers.

The announcement also reminded Weibo users that the language and discussion they use should comply with the requirements of relevant laws, regulations, and community rules. Users including self-media accounts should abide by the “Internet Information Service Management Regulations” and “must not create, copy, publish, or disseminate information content prohibited by law or administrative regulations.”

The announcement also posted a list of definitions of harmful information in current affairs. These include:
1. Opposing the basic principles established by the Constitution;
2. Endangering national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity;
3. Leaking state secrets, endangering national security or jeopardizing national honors and interests;
4. Inciting national hatred, ethnic discrimination, undermining national unity, or infringing on national customs;
5. Destroying the national religious policy and promoting cults and superstitions;
6. Spreading rumors, disrupting the social order and undermining social stability;
7. Distorting, vilifying, defaming, or negating heroic deeds and spirit; insulting and defaming heroic martyrs;
8. Promoting gambling, violence, murder, terror or instigating crimes;
9. Inciting illegal gatherings, associations, demonstrations, or public gatherings to disturb social order;
10. Spreading negative information that goes beyond the bottom line of social morality and the system;
11. Publishing other content prohibited by law, administrative regulations and national regulations.

Source: Wenxuecity, April 16, 2019

LTN: Shen Yun Brings Global Popularity

Major Taiwanese news network Liberty Times Network (LTN) recently reported that U.S.-based Shen Yun Performing Arts 2019 global tour has been enjoying sold-out shows around the world in over 150 cities such as New York, Mexico City, Berlin and Toronto. Calling Shen Yun a miracle is not an exaggeration. The Show brought its popularity to people in all walks of life with different religious backgrounds and different political views. It is quietly changing the world. What’s truly unique about the company is that the performers have tried to influence other people by improving themselves. Three-time Emmy Award Winner Rita Cosby described them as having very strong power by simply demonstrating inner peace. The Show has been recognized as waking up the traditional values in people’s souls. Values like freedom, compassion and kindness are very meaningful for today’s world.

Source: LTN, April 10, 2019