Tag Archives: Anniversaries

Domestic Media Coverage of Xinjiang Riots’ First Anniversary

Today is the anniversary of last year’s deadly July 5th riots in Urumqi, Xinjiang, where 200 people were killed and another 1,700 injured when rioters — mostly Uyghurs — took to the streets in what seems to have been a protest that got way, way, out of hand. Most of the casualties were Han Chinese, increasing ethnic tensions in an already tense region.

The government responded quickly, blaming external separatist forces for organizing the riots, and quickly shut down the internet and telephone services in Xinjiang completely. Social networking sites supposedly used in the organization of the riots, such as Facebook, were also blocked nationwide. Over the past year, the government has slowly returned internet and other telecommunication services to Xinjiang, a process that Josh Summers has chronicled on his excellent Far West China blog.

The government has also been beefing up security significantly in Urumqi, where the police for has swelled and CCTV (closed-circuit) cameras are being installed that will cover the entire city Big Brother-style.

Everyone knows anniversaries are sensitive affairs in China. So what is the Chinese media reporting on the anniversary, if anything? That, it turns out, depends very much on what you read, and in what language.

Note: Unless otherwise noted, this is all based on what was on their websites’ front pages, as of around 10AM July 5. Obviously, there may well be changes later in the day.

China’s major English papers, the China Daily and the Global Times, both have front page stories on the anniversary. The stories contain a basic overview of the riots and ensuing communications blackout juxtaposed with the stories of Han orphans whose parents were killed by Uyghur rioters. The China Daily quotes only one Uyghur source, briefly, and does not speak to the causes of the riots or the motivations of the rioters. The Global Times article does not quote an Uyghur sources at all (Whoops! It actually does quote one Uyghur source, my apologies). Both papers also ran these stories on the front pages of their print editions.

Still, these fare much better than other domestic English news outlets. The People’s Daily does have several pieces on Xinjiang, but the one that really addresses the riots is just a copy of the China Daily’s piece. Xinhua’s English service doesn’t address the anniversary at all; today’s top stories include pieces on the summer heat, Wimbledon, and a piece on “glamorous female bodyguards worldwide.”

The South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong paper, is running an article today questioning some evidence against one of the alleged Urumqi rioters; however, Hong Kong papers are obviously not subject to the same scrutiny as mainland media outlets.

Xinhua’s Chinese service doesn’t seem to mention the anniversary on their front page at all. Neither do the front pages of the Southern Metropolis Daily, the Beijing Daily, or the Xinjiang Daily. The Beijing News didn’t address the story on its website or in the print edition (this is the only Chinese print edition I’ve had time to check so far this morning).

Foreign media have had difficulty reporting on the anniversaries too. Al-Jazeera corresponded Melissa Chan was using Twitter to post updates on their attempts to report in Urumqi yesterday, and wrote that in the morning alone, her team was stopped by police on seven different occasions, and that police were present for every interview they conducted. “Thinking I should get t-shirts made with my press card number and passport details for authorities’ convenience,”, she wrote around noon yesterday.

Western media reports marking the anniversary likely won’t be filed until this evening because of the time difference, but I expect a very different tone in their coverage of the anniversary. (Al Jazeera has run a story already, though).

Can’t load some of the links mentioned in this post? Break free of the GFW and enjoy uncensored internet with Freedur.

Happy Birthday, ChinaGeeks!

Today marks the one-year anniversary of this humble blog, which burst onto the scene with a historical post about the atrocities committed at Unit 731 that virtually no one read.

In terms of growth, we’re fast-approaching our 100,000th visitor to the website itself, and have over 800 RSS subscribers according to the last count. For some comparison, check out our 100th and 200th posts, which have similar statistical information.

While the blog is back to being just me, much of this blog’s success is owed to contributors Chris Hearne and Michele Scrimenti, who both wrote excellent posts and remain an important part of ChinaGeeks even in their absence.

In any event, this seems as good a time as any to highlight some of my favorite posts of the year. In chronological order:

Thanks are due, of course, to everyone who has linked us over the year (too numerous to mention but check out our blogroll), to everyone who has commented (ditto), and to everyone who has offered help and support behind the scenes. Some exciting things are in the works for the future, and they are going to be very good for you, reader of China blogs!

Here’s hoping the next year of ChinaGeeks brings more talented contributors, and fewer depressing stories! If you want to help out, please read this and join us!

“A Little Reflection on Patriotism”

The following is a translation of an essay from Fenqing Net. It was originally posted in July, but is one of the essays they’ve been highlighting on the front page in honor of National Day. Before you fire up your “Communist shills!” comments, we remind you that we don’t always agree with everything we translate.


In real life and on the internet, one can often see and hear people loudly complaining about the injustices of life and the dark aspects of society. Speaking with righteous anger, if they aren’t talking about corruption they’re discussing the impotence of the government, mocking and complaining, blaming everyone but themselves. They speak as though some incidents [such as the] corruption of officials occurred right in front of their eyes instead of behind closed doors. This kind of person is quite common, and I look down on them. I used to argue with them, but now I just laugh at them. Towards the nation and the government, I feel more supportive and eagerly anticipating, encouraging and grateful. I think this is also a kind of patriotism! But people [feel] they must discuss present-day evils.

Indeed, it’s undeniable that there are irrational and unjust things in society. China still hasn’t eliminated corruption. But why do people always want to focus on this and refuse to let go of it? Society has developed, life has improved, the nation has become prosperous and strong. No one can deny this, so why aren’t there more people paying attention? Treasure a positive attitude, rebuild through one’s own efforts, take care of yourself and live well, this is what is most important.

When I was young our family was poor, so I witness firsthand the relentless improvements in [our] lives. [These days,] people who build their family fortune without a background or a patron are numerous, those who rely on their hard work to buy cars and houses are also many. So what injustice and corruption are you talking about? If you aren’t taking care of yourself, how can you complain about others? Society has provided enough opportunity and space for everyone, if you are capable you can [succeed]! If you haven’t been able [to succeed], it’s because you’re incapable, it’s that simple!

China’s situation now is very difficult, there is domestic trouble and foreign invaders. Tibetan independence, Xinjiang independence, Taiwan independence, in the east Japan persists with their evil intentions […], in the north Russia is anti-China and has always been eyeing us covetously, India is massing troops to the south, Vietnam, Indonesia, and other third world countries in Southeast Asia are constantly stirring up conflict…then there’s the financial collapse and natural disasters. Actually, in these times, if you’re living well, what is there to complain about? I don’t get it, don’t understand, I’m bitterly disappointed.

Imagine we are children. Mother has a bad temper, and occasionally makes mistakes. Sometimes she curses you, and occasionally beats you. But she bore and raised you through childhood, and worked hard her whole life for your happiness. When you run across one of her mistakes, would you complain, oppose, and betray her? I think that one should look at one’s country with the same principle!

Common people’s patriotism can’t always be on a large scale, but at least don’t complain, oppose, or betray. Tolerate more, support more, understand more, dependably take care of your own issues, this is the greatest kind of patriotism…

Happy 60th Birthday, P.R.C.!

Not everyone is happy about the P.R.C.’s birthday, or some of the festivities associated with it. Still, it’s important to mark these historical anniversaries, and I don’t think many people would disagree that at the very least, China and the Chinese people are better off now than they were sixty years ago. Plus we get charmingly confusingly-worded little People’s Daily blurbs like this.

Everyone else will be writing historical retrospectives and future predictions, but being simple folk, we offer you these lines of poetry, posted by Yin Lichuan on Septemer 29th. Perhaps it’s relevant, and perhaps not. As with all poetry — but especially Chinese poetry — translating it requires picking an interpretation, and there are many possible interpretations so if you can read Chinese we suggest you read it yourself.

A Cold Wind Springs Up at the End of the Day

What is the meaning of a sage*?

In these kinds of circumstances,
We needn’t play with words and phrasing, we needn’t make up tunes.
During some stages, a tune can be very enchanting.
But a tune doesn’t necessarily spread, [and] honesty is also a kind of melody.

*This word, 君子,could also be translated as “sovereign” or “nobleman”.

Meanwhile, in sadder news, CNN is just now learning that Communists aren’t robots. No wonder Anti-CNN is as busy as ever. Also, Xu Zhiyong’s blog has been closed. How long has that been true? Since this? Perhaps we missed it…

UPDATE: For those interested in the military parade, check out this flash app Xinhua has on their site. It’s got 3d schematics with some brief notes for almost all the military vehicles in the parade. Fun!

ABC montage:

Wondering Where Quotations Come From

It’s amazing how fast China blogs grow old. ChinaGeeks is over half a year old now, and still the Western media hasn’t sat us down to have “the talk” about where quotations come from. Maybe it’s time they did.

See, the New York Times recently reported on the mandatory patriotic touch China Mobile has added to cell phone calls pre-Oct 1st. According to “Chinese Pride, at the Touch of a Cellphone Button,” China Mobile has changed everyone’s ringback tones — the tone that plays while someone’s phone is ringing when you call them — to ”国家“,a famous patriotic song sung by the famous actor Jackie Chan and the female singer Liu Yuanyuan.

The change is effective for all China Mobile users, but anyone who doesn’t like it can change it back to something else at no cost, and it seems as though it will be automatically deactivated at some point in the future, anyway.

We first suspected something was a bit off with the article when we read that the NY Times credited the song to “the actor Jackie Chan and a female vocalist.” A female vocalist? We found her name through a Google search in two seconds, and as far as patriotic songs go, she’s got a few under her belt. A quick perusal of her personal site reveals songs like “The Five-Starred Red Flag”, “China Has Chosen You”, “China is My Home”, etc. Was it a conscious decision — the NY Times figures their readers don’t care about a singer they’ve probably never heard of — or laziness? Who knows.

Anyway, at the end of this article came this little tidbit:

But Hu Xingdou, a reform-minded economics professor at Beijing Institute of Technology, said China Mobile went overboard in tinkering with its customers’ phones.

“The current efforts to instill ideology makes me feel that the authorities consider ordinary Chinese people to be unpatriotic or even mentally challenged,” he said. “So they enforce this patriotic education on people.”

Huh? What exactly do the “authorities” have to do with this? For that matter, what does this have to do with “patriotic education”? As far as we can tell, it’s just an example of a company from China doing something small to celebrate a national holiday. Nearly all American companies do similar things for the Fourth of July. Given that China Mobile has given users the option of disabling the tone if they so choose, and that there’s nothing in the article that indicates this decision was mandated by the government.

EDIT: We forgot China Mobile was state-owned, which does explain the connection to authorities, although we still think that terminology is a bit misleading. State-owned and state-run are two different things, and whether or not any real “authorities had anything to do with the ringback tone change is still up for grabs.

One wonders whether this is a question of the Chinese source overreacting (Hu Xingdou is a self-proclaimed “student of China’s problems”), of the New York Times putting a quotation out of context, or if there’s something more to this whole thing they somehow left out. Hu’s point isn’t necessarily even something we disagree with, but there isn’t a lot of connection between the problems of patriotic education and a mobile phone company changing people’s ringback tones to a patriotic song for a few days. The way the article reads now is misleading, at least barring the Times revealing some evidence that the government is actually connected to this move in some way.

Rather than speculating on motives, we’ve emailed the reporter herself. We don’t expect a reply, but if we get one we’ll post it here. In the interim, discuss your thoughts about the article in the comments.

Discussion Section: Sixty Years of China

Maybe you’ve heard. China’s got a big birthday party coming up, and they’re definitely going to be celebrating, with everything from soldiers to tanks to…I’m sure there will be other things, too.

So what are your thoughts on the anniversary celebrations? How will these sixty years be viewed in the future? Net gain? Net loss? Neither? Or, perhaps, a more interesting question: put your Nostradamus cap on and tell us where you think China will be sixty years from now. Please try to support your answers with some sort of logic. Show your work, use only number 2 pencils. You have thirty minutes.

This post on China Media Project might offer you a place to start. And this post on CNReviews has nothing to do with the anniversary but does tie into the race issue we sometimes discuss and thus is worth mentioning, too.

“Conversations With an Old Comrade on the Eve…” (Part 2)

The following is part 2 of our translation of a blog post called “Conversations with an Old Comrade on the Eve of the 60th Anniversary of the PRC“. Part one is here. The China Media Project has already done a piece on this, which everyone should read, but we thought it would be valuable to translate the entire piece. CMP has more background, but the post was supposedly written by senior Party official Wan Li (万里), and many netizens apparently believe this is true.

Translation (Part 2)

[If you missed part one, read it here]

I was once a high level leading cadre in the Party, and now enjoy high-level political treatment. Precisely because [I’m] at a high level, I must consider this problem from the lofty angle of our responsibility vis-a-vis history, otherwise, high-level cadres would be the same thing as high-level officials, which would be absolutely no good. Our responsibility to history is a question of political ethics; for a [political] party to take responsibility, we must carefully consider this issue.

I say this because I have thought on many issues for quite a while. I recall near the end of the 1970s, Comrade Qiao Mu once mentioned “political ethics” in a speech delivered internally within the Party, that was the first time I had heard the term. Once, during the break of a meeting, I sought him out and asked him to explain it to me. He said he had experienced too many trials and hardships within the Party, and that the question of political ethics was difficult to explain concisely. Unfortunately, afterwards he never mentioned the topic again. Yes, it was thirty years after the founding until the Party finally had such a great talent mention something like [political ethics]. [But] afterwards, it wasn’t mentioned again. Now it’s been another thirty years, and still no one has mentioned it. My work is concrete, and I don’t have a high level of theoretical understanding, but the same question has been repeating itself in my brain for thirty years: can we CCP members really not bear to discuss political ethics? What I want to say is, they [the Nationalist Party] shut us out for 22 years, have we used the [next] sixty years to follow in their path or to fix things? Isn’t this kind of reasoning political ethics? [If] we don’t allow public discussion, can we really stop the common people from thinking about this question? All of these questions have been bumping around in my head since that Shenzhen discussion and I can’t keep up with them. To tell the truth, I still don’t fully understand, and I fear I won’t be able to explain by clearly pointing to all of the causes. This is something that everyone much thoroughly research together.

Whoever hasn’t done what they were supposed to do, whoever has done something wrong, [they] should step forward and bear the responsibility. This is basic ethics. There are more than a few people within our Party who like to brag about how everything they do today is correct, but at the same time completely fail to explain about things that were done incorrectly in the past. Such a great country as ours, such a powerful Party as ours, if we keep marching forward in such an ambiguous and indistinct manner, what will things look like in the future! People are misused, people [who came] recommended don’t take responsibility, inspectors evaluating the system also don’t take responsibility, consultants on [political] mechanisms don’t take responsibility, judicial inspection committees merely inspect and don’t worry about [possible] neglecting of supervisory duties during the process, locking people up and executing them and calling it finished without taking into account the accomplishments of the people involved. If things are like this, won’t this country become a country where no one takes responsibility? Won’t the Party become a party where no one takes responsibility? If things continue like this, when will ‘political ethics’ be mentioned again?

When one thinks carefully about it, the Party’s great mistakes are all cases of “running into the South Wall before finally turning around” [撞到了南墙上才回头]. This wall is natural law, the objective laws of developing a country; when you violate these laws you will surely end up with your head broken and bleeding. Why is this the case? In sixty years, our nation has not matured to the level of societal power that it ought to have, so there is no competition to remind and control our Party. Differing opinions, because they have no way of responding to the “correctness” of our Party, simply don’t listen at all. If [the CCP] has full powers of governance, then we also should bear the responsibility alone, but nope! Within just sixty years, the we’ve run into obstacles for national development, opportunities for the development of the people have been lost, and constitutional rights haven’t been realized. This kind of situation is unethical. That old comrade who asked me to pass along his message [to higher-ups] said: we are gradually getting older, [what I] fear is the final judgement that will be made when I’m already in the coffin! I’m already in the later days of my later days, this sort of blaming myself is something I can never shake off.

As soon as people have ethical responsibility, they don’t live like young people anymore! A nation and a Party are probably also like this. An old person like me, always wanting to know what young people think of me, must hold up his ears and listen. This young professor said to me: our country still hasn’t got an intact and meaningful electorate, we still haven’t built any way of tolerating other people bringing other ideas about new political actions and systems into play, aren’t these the things you are personally most uncomfortable about? The reason I am friends with this professor despite our difference in age is that he gave me an essay via my children, saying he didn’t want it published, and just wanted people inside the Party to see it so it could give rise to discussion. The essay asked why do all of the rights granted in the Party constitution always fail to materialize in reality, and why is there never any revision despite this? I brought him in to discuss this many times, speaking from the basis of facts. From the foundation of the Party, we have always said we represented the farmers, after ’49 we said again we represent the millions of Chinese people, and sixty years after founding the country, we still speak this way. At the same time everyone can see that sixty years later, we haven’t rigorously entrusted [the people] with this representational power in the political realm, and we don’t have a real electoral system.

Part 3 coming soon!