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As Movie Industry Suffers Major Setback due to COVID 19, Administration Exerts More Influence

Radio Free Asia reported that China’s film and television industry suffered a significant setback due to COVID 19. The latest data shows that, since the beginning of this year, more than 6,600 film and television companies have closed their doors. The box office revenue will show a loss of 30 billion yuan (US$4.2 billion) this year. Some analysts believe that the central administration could use the opportunity to intensify censorship on the contents of the creations in the film and television industry, making it drift away and become distant from the rest of the world.

On April 29, Wang Xiaohui, executive vice minister of the Central Publicity Department, gave the film and television industry directives to produce films using the following three major themes: showing a moderately prosperous society, the 100th anniversary of the party, and the anti-epidemic effort which promotes positive energy. Wang said that the government will increase the support to the industry, actively coordinate the effort to reduce rent payments, provide loan discounts, and support the purchase and distribution of movie tickets.

On May 7, three video websites, Tencent Video, iQiyi, and Youku, together with six other film and television companies, jointly released an industry rescue proposal and vowed that the industry will produce contents that are “in line with party policy and provide audiences with products that document the lively life and great moments in this era.”

According to the comment quoted in the article, since the central administration has the ability to provide the funding, it now has more leverage to influence the content of the narratives for the movies that are being produced.

Source: Radio Free Asia, May 8, 2020

A Chinese University Professor Disciplined for Criticizing Karl Marx

Yu Linqi, a history professor at Harbin Normal University in the northeast province of Heilongjiang, was recently named and shamed for criticizing Karl Marx, the German philosopher whose theory is viewed as the founding ideology of Communist China. On Thursday May 7, the university responded by launching an investigation.

What put Yu at the center of the incident was his comments on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter. He stated, “Why should the (Chinese Communist) Party’s admission oath include ‘never betray the Party’? The Communist Party is not a gang, and its pursuit is not self-interest. It should be a democratic, open and modern political party. One can apply to join the Party when its ideas and policies match his wishes and ideals. Once they don’t match, one can choose to quit, oppose, or even betray. It is irresponsible to blindly follow (the party).” Yu also mentioned that the world’s most successful abettor is (Karl) Marx.

The 50 Cent Army, Internet posters and commentators hired by Chinese authorities to flood social media with pro-government comments, made Yu a target and they fired a barrage of criticism and personal attacks at him.

In the past three years, there have been at least 10 cases of university professors being punished for their speech, including Tsinghua University law professor Xu Zhangrun.

Source: Radio Free Asia, May 8, 2020

WeChat Users outside China Are under Political Surveillance

Evidence shows that communications among users with WeChat accounts registered outside China are under political surveillance. Moreover, according to a Citizen Lab report published on May 7, 2020, they are also being used to train the algorithms WeChat uses to censor and monitor China-registered users.

WeChat is a communication application released by China’s Tencent in 2011.  It is used by more than 1 billion people worldwide, and ranks the third-largest in the world, after Whatsapp and Facebook.

As with all social media in China, WeChat actively censors on its platform, including around politically sensitive topics and discussions related to the coronavirus pandemic. The censorship of users appears to be for accounts registered to mainland China’s phone numbers.

WeChat is required by law to share user data with the State government. Tests at the Citizen Lab showed that, for the first time, communications among non-mainland-China users are subject to surveillance.

Further, it has been demonstrated that such communications are also being used to train the algorithms WeChat uses to censor and monitor China-registered users. After documents and images containing politically sensitive content were sent solely among non-China-registered accounts, it was observed that, shortly thereafter, those files were censored for China-registered users.

Source: Radio Free Asia, May 7, 2020

CCP to Monitor Postings on Foreign Self-Media

Han Lianchao, a former employee of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted a screenshot on Twitter of a notice from the Publicity Department of the party committee of the Beijing International Studies University. His comment indicated that the CCP will impose large-scale censorship and monitoring of Twitter, YouTube and Facebook accounts overseas.

Below is the translation of the notice:

Notice to Collect Foreign Self-Media Account Setup by Student and Faculty Members

Based on the requirement from the Publicity Department of the City of Beijing, in order to do well in promoting China’s image overseas and to “Tell China’s Story Well,” we are here to collect foreign self-media account(s) that students and faculty members have set up. Below are the detailed requirements:

1. This requirement applies to all levels within the university and the affiliated schools, as well as the graduate research institute. Each unit should appoint one person to collect foreign self-media account(s) that students and faculty members have set up. It must have used the real name of each individual. There are two forms to fill out: a foreign self-media account collection form and a foreign self-media account collection consolidated form. Foreign self-media include but are not limited to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, and Buzzfeed.

2. Each unit should forward the forms to the person in charge for signature and a stamp seal. The original signed hard copy of the consolidated form should be submitted to the university’s publicity department by April 21 at 5:00pm while the unit can retain the individual account collection form.

3. The foreign self-media account collection work starts effective immediately. If there are any questions, please contact our department for more information.

Contact: Ma Xianchao
Address: Room 230, Ming De Building
Telephone: 655778482

Communist Party Publicity Department
April 20, 2020
Beijing International Studies University Foreign Self-media Account Collection Form
Beijing International Studies University Foreign Self-media Account Collection Consolidated Form

Source: Twitter, April 25, 2020

NTDTV: Vice Minister of National Security Office is Probed for Disciplinary Violation

The official website of the National Commission for Discipline Inspection issued an announcement on April 19, saying that Sun Lijun, a member of the party committee and deputy minister of the National Security Office, was “suspected of serious violation of discipline and law” and is currently undergoing disciplinary review and supervision investigation by the National Commission for Discipline Inspection. Sun has held the position since 2013. The National Security Office is under the ministry of Public Security. Since 1999, it has quickly expanded and consists of large number of secrete policy who are responsible for crackdown on rights activists movements, dissidents and religious members. In February this year, Sun was sent to Wuhan to “supervise” local public security work.

According to public information, Sun Lijun is 51 years old and was born in Qingdao, Shandong. He studied public health and urban management at the State University of New South Wales, Australia. During his tenure as the deputy minister of National Security Office, Sun Lijun also served as the deputy director of the notorious “610 Office”, the extra-legal police task force responsible for carrying out the mission of eliminating Falun Gong. Sun Lijun was reported to have worked as the deputy director of the General Office of the Ministry of Public Security in the past and was the secretary for Meng Jianzhu who was the secretary of the Political and Legal Committee.

According to NTDTV, as COVID-19 broke out in Wuhan and spread rapidly around the world, Western countries have strongly criticized Chinese authorities for covering up the truth of the epidemic at the beginning of the virus outbreak, the timing to probe the deputy minister of Public Security who holds master’s degree in public health is puzzling.

Source: NTDTV (New Tang Dynasty Television), April 19, 2020

Publication of “Wuhan Diary” Outside of China Faces Serious Attacks from Mainland

On Wednesday April 8, the day that Wuhan was lifted from the lockdown, the English and German versions of Wuhan Diary, written by Fang Fang, went on pre-sale online. Fang Fang, a writer who lives in Wuhan, started to publish her diary on Weibo at the end of January documenting people’s lives in Wuhan during the 62-days of lockdown. Her work, however was criticized and attacked on the mainland for “spreading negative energy.” As the publication of the diary in the overseas market got closer, there were mounting condemnations from the left wing in China. One person claimed that publishing the diary around the world was just like “a butcher’s knife from the West (aiming towards China).” Another person complained that the overseas Chinese are likely to become targets of the venting. The Chief Editor of China’s mouthpiece Global Times wrote in his Weibo account that the diary is not a documentary work … It will catch the attention of the international media. Very likely, Chinese people including those who supported Fang Fang in the past, will pay for the fame that Fang Fang is gaining in the West. On the same day, Fang Fang also wrote in her Weibo account saying that this time she has truly experienced what Internet violence is like and said that those who attacked her were just ;oke the “COVID 19 virus” that spreads and strikes other people. A writer from Guangdong province told RFA that, even though Fang Fang’s diary only touches on superficial issues and the fact that this type of “progressive voice” is being severely suppressed suggests that there is no freedom of expression on the mainland.

Fang Fang, 54, whose real name is Wang Fang, graduated from the Department of Chinese Language of Wuhan University and served as the Chairman of the Hubei Writers Association from 2007 to 2018.

Source: Radio Free Asia, April 9, 2020

Internet Censorship at Local Levels

Based on internal documents Epoch Times obtained from Fangzheng County, Heilongjiang Province, it reported that the local Political and Legal Affairs Commissions of the CCP are actively involved in Internet censorship.

These documents show that, in 2019, the CCP Political and Legal Affairs Commission at Fangzheng County formally established a cyber force for Internet censorship which is composed of a “professional team” and a “local team.” The the County Public Security Bureau leads the professional team and is composed of relevant staff from the County Public Security Bureaus Office of Procuratorates, County Courts, and the County Judicial Bureau, all under the CCP Political and Legal Commission of Fangzheng County. The “local team” is composed of relevant staff from the townships.

The cyber force receives regular training based on the online hot topics, to ensure they master the language of Internet users and the CCP’s official language. On major online topics, the cyber force engages in “positive propaganda and guides public opinion” on WeChat, Weibo, news posts, and forums. For controversial topics, the members of the cyber force collaboratively repost CCP official messages onto their respective blogs, forums, and community platforms, in order to further spread the CCP propaganda on the controversy.

According to the internal documents, the County’s CCP Political and Legal Commission will incentivize members of the cyber force with “rewards or encouragement of both a material and political nature.”

Source: Epoch Times, April 9, 2020

CNA: On April 4, Beijing Mourned the Dead while Netizens Fought Against Censorship and Demands Truth

In China, “404” means April 4, which is Ching Ming Festival or Memorial Day when people pay reverence of one’s ancestors in Chinese culture. Meanwhile it also means a webpage is deleted and “not found.” It often happens when words or content that are not liked by the authorities are deleted as soon as they are posted online. On April 4, while leaders in Beijing gathered together to mourn the death of the 2019 coronavirus disease, Chinese netizens were also commemorating the “404” on the internet. In addition to mourning the dead, they posted articles and comments criticizing the authorities’ act of covering up the truth and blocking comments on the internet. There were many commemorations and criticisms of the government appeared on the Internet while the authorities were busy deleting such postings at the same time.

On Sina Weibo, Chinese netizens expressed their helplessness and anger in a joking tone. Some people said: “It felt like a large-scale 404 site, and none of the postings I saw last night are still there.” “LOL(Laugh out loud)… complaining about 404 will indeed bring us 404.” Others have criticized: “If there was no 404, the flag wouldn’t be half way on April 4, nor will there be lock down and isolations, humanitarian tragedies, and economic crises all over the world.”

There are only a few articles left on the internet that are too late to be deleted or re-posted. Some people refused to follow the Chinese Communist Party officials to pay silence on this day because “I don’t like to have a special permission or to be arranged to show sadness. I think most people won’t Like it. ”
Another article stated that “On this day, please forgive me for not to participate. I don’t think this is a suitable time for the public ceremony. The epidemic is not over yet. There is still the possibility of more death from the epidemic. This feels like a unilateral announcement of a ceasefire when we don’t even know who is winning. This posting has been deleted since.

Source: Central News Agency, April 4, 2020

DW Chinese: No, Autocracy Is not Better for Handling Crises

Deutsche Welle Chinese Edition recently published a commentary on China’s propaganda about how well autocracy performed in a crisis compared to democracy. The commentary started with China’s media describing Xi Jinping showing up in Wuhan as a heroic scene. Unfortunately, this was immediately followed by mountains of work to shut off massive online criticism. The Chinese communists have been trying to sell the world fairy tales. One of them was that the government never made any mistakes in the battle against the coronavirus. Yet the Chinese leadership was initially caught by surprise and their first response was clearly a cover up all the way through December. Later in January the biggest news was that the whistle-blower Chinese doctor was detained and died thereafter. Now the Chinese leadership is working tirelessly on another fairy tale, which is to broadcast to the world that the coronavirus was not sourced in China. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson went even further, by accusing the U.S. Military of bringing the virus to China. People mostly laughed at this idea, but the effort of China offloading responsibilities sounded a serious alarm. The biggest fairy tale so far is claiming the autocratic system is more “successful” than democratic systems. This is a big lie. All one has to do is to look at Taiwan, where highly efficient and swift responses effectively controlled the spread of the virus in the island. This is especially remarkable when Taiwan achieved this with zero help from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Source: DW Chinese, March 15, 2020

The Government Is Taking over the HNA Group

The HNA Group, is a rapidly expanding airline and conglomerate in China. After the high-profile mysterious death of its Chairman, Wang Jian, in France in last year, the Hainan Provincial government has been leading its restructure.

The HNA Group announced on February 29 that its high liquidity risk that started at the end of 2017 continued and worsened in 2020 due to the novel coronavirus. Therefore, it requested to form the “Hainan Provincial Government HNA Joint Working Group” to coordinate and address the risk. The Hainan Provincial government has led the working group.

Key personnel in the joint work group are all from government offices or state-owned enterprises:

  • Director Gu Gang, Chairman of Hainan Development Holding Co., Ltd, which is directly owned by the Hainan Provincial government
  • Executive Deputy Director Ren Qinghua, Director of Management Committee of the Hainan Yangpu Economic Development Zone
  • Deputy Director Li Shuangchen, Deputy Director of the Central and South China Regional Administration, Civil Aviation Administration
  • Deputy Director Cheng Gong, Deputy Director of the Credit Management Bureau, China Development Bank.

The HNA Group also re-elected its seven-member board. Gu Gang and Ren Qinghua joined the board. While HNA Co-founder Chen Feng remained as the Chairman, Gu Gang became the Executive Chairman and Ren Qinghua became the joint-company CEO.

HNA Group Co., Ltd. is a Chinese conglomerate headquartered in Haikou, Hainan, China. Founded in 2000, it is involved in numerous industries including aviation, real estate, financial services, tourism, logistics, and more.

People have been sayings that the HNA Group is connected with Wang Qishan.

Source: Stock Times, February 29, 2020