1. Prominent and influential 五毛 Zheng Guocheng getting drunk, revealing his real thoughts about the regime and debating with sober 五毛 on a 4-hour livestream. He later apologised but his career as 五毛 is over.
2. 五毛 second-guessing the government claiming that power outages were a part of a big game plan to cripple the US economy. Afraid of high expectations and subsequent disappointment (as in No. 4), the authorities stepped in a declared that there was no game plan.
3. Foreign ministry’s Hua Chunying’s glaring misstep in a statement claiming that Chinese nationals have the right to use (misuse) Facebook just as foreigners have the right to use highly censored Weibo after being called out for the numerous fake accounts.
4. Hu Xijin’s repeatedly retreating red line, threatening invasion of Taiwan with every revelation of US military involvement.
5. Wilson Edwards, the fictional made-in-China “Swiss expert” who alleged at China state media’s behest, that the US was meddling in efforts to find the origins of Covid-19.
6. Netizens expressing impatience with state media’s overindulgence in problems in the US.
7. PLA promising they will invade soon, telling Chinese netizens they will soon see the rain Taipei. 五毛 flooded social media, looking forward to unification. Soon, soon, soon.
I would rank Hua Chunying’s statement as No. 1. Casually and carelessly saying that Chinese nationals have the right to use relatively uncensored Facebook just as foreign nationals have the right to use tightly controlled Weibo when everyone knows that Facebook is blocked in China and only the privileged 五毛 are in the position to create multiple fake accounts is a big fat joke.
The Chinese government hired a firm to recruit social media influencers as part of a new digital operation amid controversies surrounding diplomatic boycotts of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, OpenSecrets’ review of Foreign Agents Registration Act Records found.
The influence operation is being coordinated by Vippi Media, a consulting firm based in New Jersey, as part of a $300,000 contract that spans through March 2022. China’s Consulate General in New York paid $210,000 in advance on Nov. 23.
As part of the online influence campaign to promote the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, and the 2022 Paralympics, the Chinese government is paying the firm to recruit influencers who are “to be activated to drive viewership, mass awareness and premium content” for China.
Most of the influencers’ posts are expected to focus on “Beijing & China elements,” including “Beijing’s history, cultural relics, modern life of people, new trends,” Chinese athletes’ preparations and “touching moments.”
At least 20% of the posts are supposed to focus on “cooperation and any good things in China-US relations.” This content is expected to highlight “cooperation” on issues like “climate change, biodiversity, new energy” and “positive outcomes.”
The complete article can be found here. Please note that the site is constantly at risk of attacks from Chinese hackers and hence extra security measures are needed. Below are screenshots of the terms and conditions for these influencers.
In countries with the freedom to protest, protesters who hit the streets always claim victimhood and demand for justice and/or policy changes. Not everyone knows that. In August 2019 in Canada, this paunchy woman who is a Chinese student studying there (ostensibly the daughter of some high ranking party official) organised what she thought was a “protest march” consisting of a fleet of sportscars driven by her fellow countrymen.
With their Ferraris, Porches and Lamborghinis draped in Chinese flags, they drove onto the streets of Vancouver and Toronto, sounding their horns and revving their powerful engines. The “protesters” were trying to make a statement against Hong Kong protesters and their Canadian sympathisers. Not surprisingly, they got a lot of thumbs down.
This woman was seen sticking her neck out of her car and shouting “穷逼(poor asses)” at the Canadians on the streets. I hope the Canadians and other fellow human beings realise that such behaviour has nothing to do with Chinese culture or being Chinese.
This is hilarious. A North Korean report (definitely not correctly subtitled/translated) says that Christmas in China has been cancelled because Santa Claus had a fall in China and nobody dared help him up (for fear of being labelled traitors worshipping Western culture). As a result, poor Santa froze to death.
Collective punishment is a punishment or sanction imposed on a group for acts allegedly perpetrated by a member of that group, which could be an ethnic or political group, or just the family, friends and neighbors of the perpetrator. Because individuals who are not responsible for the wrong acts are targeted, collective punishment is not compatible with the basic principle of individual responsibility. The punished group may often have no direct association with the perpetrator other than living in the same area and can not be assumed to exercise control over the perpetrator’s actions. Collective punishment is prohibited by treaty in both international and non-international armed conflicts, more specifically Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol II.
The rationale behind collective punishment is to root out any chance of revenge or retaliation from the punished person’s clan. At my local barber shop, I once heard a barber say that Westerners are stupid not to practise 连坐 . Chinese people are “smarter”.
In the video below, Xiao Cui touches on the recent spate of foreclosures in China. In spite of its glitzy exterior, the country still lacks a legal framework to help individuals deal with debt caused by business failure or overborrowing while also ensuring creditors are fairly compensated. Bankrupts are commonly known as 老赖 and thanks to big data and ubiquitous connectivity, blacklisting these individuals would result in them being publicly shamed and restricted from a whole range of high end services.
Connectivity also renders the children of 老赖 unable to apply for entry to elite schools. In many cases, families of 老赖 are even barred from certain jobs. Very often, we hear sinophiles mocking human rights activists, asking the stupid rhetorical question: “Can human rights be eaten?”
Well, just like oxygen, human rights can’t be eaten. People take oxygen for granted until they can’t breathe.
How could one mitigate damages if one were to end up in that unfortunate situation? Xiao Cui suggests first trying to negotiate with the bank to extend the payment period. Find a job, any job quickly and start slogging. Otherwise, those who still have some money and other assets with them could liquidate everything and keep cash, get divorced, get friends or relatives to adopt their children and then become 老赖 . In that way, their spouses and children would not be affected by the very smart and traditional practice of 连坐 which some barber I know is so incredibly proud of.
In a short video purportedly shot by a Chinese journalist for Singapore’s Chinese newspaper Lianhe Zaobao, Peng Shuai denied that she was ever sexually assaulted and she alleged that people who had read her shocking Weibo posting had misunderstood her. A pro-China local academic commented: “the plot thickens”.
On the contrary, this is an egregiously predictable outcome. The only curious thing is, why did it not happen earlier? The thing that ought to get our attention here in Singapore is that for the first couple of expositions, the Chinese authorities relied on journalists working for China Daily and CGTN. This time, they enlisted the help of our very own Lianhe Zaobao.
In the video below, commentator Tang Jing Yuan analysed the video released by Zaobao and highlighted many points indicative of fraud. The video showed the Zaobao journalist, apparently the only journalist there (even though there were many sporting celebrities at the scene), weaving through a crowd seemingly unnoticed and then approaching Peng Shuai who seemed well-prepared for the approach but quite maladroitly feigning an impromptu encounter.
Interestingly, Peng Shuai, without any hesitation whatsoever, jumped straight to the point and denied that her posting on Weibo implied that she had been sexually assaulted. It was all a misinterpretation by netizens. A person who has been following Peng Shuai from her dinner at a Beijing restaurant all the way to a skiing event at Shanghai in the latest video, was Ding Li – supposedly a trade sponsor for tennis in China. What was he doing in Shanghai? For that matter, what was he and Peng Shuai doing at a skiing event in Shanghai? Yao Ming and the other sporting personalities live in Shanghai. Obviously, Ding Li (who has practically no social media presence or content except for a few posts to dispel “rumours”) is not just a trade sponsor.
What’s also interesting about this latest exposition, is that it involved a foreign media company, namely Lianhe Zaobao or SPH. Mr Tang had bluntly called Lianhe Zaobao a propaganda instrument for Chinese state media. I can’t agree with Mr Tang that Zaobao has always been like that. Back in the early 2000s, my Chinese friends were very fond of Zaobao because they could read a relatively objective newspaper online. It was more serious compared to racy and sensational Apple Daily. However, they complained about Zaobao website being blocked whenever there was some unflattering content.
In recent years, however, Zaobao has undergone editorial remodelling to become the only foreign Chinese newspaper that is uncensored in China. With this privilege, one can only expect a certain level of compliance towards Chinese state media rules. Our astute Chinese commentators did some research on the “journalist” who interviewed Peng Shuai in the video. It turned out that she is a woman by the name of Gu Gonglei 顾功垒. Yes, she is a Chinese national. According to her Weibo, she is SPH assistant deputy CEO and Xingchen (Shanghai) Business Management Consultancy general manager (my translation; not sure about the official English name). The consultancy is believed to be effectively an advertising department under Zaobao. In other words, Gu Gonglei is not a journalist with a press pass hanging around her neck but a media advertising manager who somehow happened to stumble on a journalist-free entourage of Shanghai sporting personalities without being stopped or checked, spotting Peng Shuai by chance and Peng Shuai was apparently free to simply accept her impromptu interview while everyone just scattered. It’s yet another embarrassing performance. This shouldn’t even happen with athletes who are not facing controversy, let alone Peng Shuai. They tried too hard to show that Peng Shuai had freedom.
While Peng Shuai did not deny that the incriminating posting was made by her, she tried to twist her own words and explained that it had been misread by practically every netizen out there. No matter how ludicrous the performance, being able to face the camera and speak publicly on this matter shows that some settlement could have been reached with Peng Shuai being compensated in lieu of Zhang Gaoli’s silent exoneration.
It seems to me that she’s probably not seeking justice after all. She is obviously not another Wei Jingsheng or Liu Xiaobo who refused to compromise and certainly wouldn’t play along. You can say that her latest performance is a mockery to those who made monetary and opportunity sacrifices and stood by her by boycotting China. Had she stirred the hornet’s nest not to seek justice but to play her sympathisers against the people who wronged her so that she could strike a deal with them? It makes sense that they are still locking her out of social media and she is not withdrawing her scrubbed Weibo statement which had already gone viral at the beginning of the saga. They are holding each others’ necks, negotiating and her sympathisers could have been taken for a ride. So much for Peng Shuai, another product of the system who knows how to play the game unlike so many naive foreigners.
And if you look at some the comments from observant and discerning Chinese netizens, the damage to Lianhe Zaobao’s reputation is probably even more immeasurable. The publication has dug its own grave. We just fell a few more notches on the scale of press freedom/independence. Is it worth it?
As I’ve always said, I have just a passing interest in martial arts. It just happened that time and again, this sport/art generates newsworthy incidents that are incredibly edifying in the most dramatic fashion.
When Chinese MMA influencer Xuan Wu challenged Sho Kimura to a match at Wuhan (deliberately coinciding with the anniversary of the Nanjing massacre), he proudly declared that he would defeat Kimura with boxing rules, boxing gloves. He even had the audacity to declare that Kimura’s victory over Zou Shiming at Shanghai in 2017 is not counted. In that match, Olympic champion turned professional boxer Zou Shiming challenged Sho Kimura to a match at Shanghai. Zou was training full-time and had the entire state apparatus behind him. Kimura was an absolute underdog training at his own expense after work as a delivery man.
It’s a well-known fact that it’s one of the easiest ways to gain fame and admiration. Brainwashed by decades of anti-Japanese indoctrination, this crowd is easy to please. The man who threw a drink at former Taiwanese president Lee Teng Hui in Japan for example, was given a hero’s welcome after the Japanese police released him without charge.
The outcome of that Zou Shiming vs Kimura fight shocked everyone. It was a convincing victory for Kimura. Xuan Wu swore to save China’s face this time.
Xuan Wu’s weight was about 76kg. Kimura’s weight was 58kg. The former is almost a head taller. Kimura accepted the challenge in good faith. When Xuan Wu consulted Xu Xiaodong before the match, the latter told him that since he had a very significant advantage over Kimura, he would probably not lose too badly. He might even fight to a draw.
However, before the match, the organisers informed Kimura that leg sweeps would be allowed in addition to the usual boxing rules. Insiders informed Xu Xiaodong (who revealed this on YouTube) that if Kimura did not agree to it, his participation fees would be substantially reduced. Being cash-strapped (Kimura is a delivery man), the Japanese boxer reluctantly agreed.
The first half of the first round of the match was practically a walkover for Kimura. Xuan Wu was no match for him. Relying only on punches, Xuan Wu was clearly at the losing end and he knew it. The crowd was impatient. They kept chanting “kill him, kill him” 杀了他，杀了他.
Towards the end of the first round, Xuan Wu started using leg sweeps. Kimura’s manager protested, but it was stated in the contract that leg sweeps were allowed. In the second round, Xuan Wu went further. Not only did he keep knocking Kimura off balance with his leg sweeps, he added his own rules, picked Kiruma up and did a near-lethal wrestling throw with Kimura landing head first. Kimura was just inches from death. Kimura’s manager ran up and stopped the fight.
The crowd cheered! The judges declared Xuan Wu the winner. He had the cheek to drape China’s national flag over his body after such a heinous act! He even proudly declared that he had used “Chinese martial arts” to defeat a Japanese fighter. The response from some Chinese netizens came fast and furious. They condemned the judges. They condemned Xuan Wu. They called him a disgrace to Chinese people. That is the voice of reason. But what about the folks who cheered for Xuan Wu? Do they belong to the silent minority or even majority?
But what about movies like Huo Yuan Jia, Chen Zhen and of course the very well-known Ip Man. Even though the real Ip Man had never fought a single match against a Japanese (and much less a Westerner), the movie appealed to the Ah Q audience’s taste for imaginary “victory”. Could Xuan Wu’s fight against Kimura be seen also as a performance, paying a Japanese person to get beaten up to please the ignorant, vengeful audience?
The saddest part of all this is, Xuan Wu started off as a vigilante exposing fake martial arts – just like Xu Xiaodong. He was an honest whistleblower; a respected and conscionable member of the pugilistic world. Somewhere down the line, he lost his way and became a “patriot without principles”. In the face of nationalistic fervor which has reached boiling point in recent years, how much has it affected the most basic moral values and decency of the average Chinese? As for those who cheered Xuan Wu on, aren’t they the living examples of Lu Xun’s Ah Q in the 21st century?
And what’s the biggest irony? All the underhand methods of the Japanese portrayed in the movies are now exactly the same as those used by the Chinese in real life. Kimura could have been knocked out in pretty much the same underhand ways by which Huo Yuan Jia was defeated by the Japanese – as claimed by the Chinese. The real Huo Yuan Jia unfortunately, was not as amazing as he had been portrayed on the silver screen. Besides that, he was a good friend of the Japanese. Sadly, history will never be as popular as nationalistic nonsense.
The well-known Guangdong Hakka district of 梅县 (pronounced Moiyen in Hakka meaning “Plum County”) had an urban core carved out in the centre in 1949 after the Communists took over. The urban core is now known as 梅州市 city, the administrative centre for the prefecture of 梅州 Mei Prefecture which now includes Meixian, Meijiang 梅江and Xingning 兴宁, Wuhua 五华县, Fengshun 丰顺县, Dabu 大埔县, Jiaoling 蕉岭县, Pingyuan 平远县counties (at the Fujian border). Meizhou has a nickname: 客州 Hakka Prefecture.
This is Guangdong Province, a very well-known and probably one of the richest if not the richest province in China. But how well do you know China beyond the glitz and glamour of the cities and tourist destinations? I’m sure many Chinese people have not even heard of some of the places on the map above.
While Meizhou has become prosperous like Guangzhou, it forms a sharp contrast with the surrounding suburban areas. Once again, Comrade Shi Bingfeng shows us the reality on the ground. This is what’s representative of the vast areas outside Meizhou Prefecture outside central Meizhou City.
Songkou Ancient Town is touted as a tourist destination for overseas Chinese. There are old buildings, memorials and exhibition halls here. Curiously, wealthy migrants from Songkou don’t seem to have contributed too generously towards the preservation of the city. While the historical value is recognised, it’s strange that it’s not even a chip of ancient cities like Lijiang. Indeed, I have seen better maintained cities in Yunnan. Without the usual crowds, I think it’s still worth a visit.
You don’t have to travel far from the glitz and glamour to see poverty and dilapidation in China. This “ancient town” looks even worse than the poorest towns in Thailand. That’s what happens when things have no “market value” in China. The aunties who whisper “过来过来” to Comrade Shi remind me of the aunties at Level 3 of People’s Park Centre.
While Songkou is an ancient city, Meizhou is a modern city and the prefecture capital. Of course, it should look more respectable (above), but like most places in China, there is an underbelly that is completely removed from the glitz and glamour of the city centre. The video below is interesting and shows Comrade Shi exploring the underbelly of Meizhou city.
Hakka is spoken everywhere here. I won’t translate the Mandarin parts. The lady selling vegetables about 1 minute into the video was loudly insisting that her lotus root was not “powdery” but crunchy. The old man was selling watches, 100 yuan for 2. He claimed that someone had bought 6 pieces from him. Comrade Shi asked him the brand of the watch. The old man answered in Hakka: “how would I know? ”
I think it would be so interesting if I travel thousands of miles from home and find an alien land where there are more people who speak my dialect than back home. Comrade Shi remarked that while there are no red light districts in China, sex services are found everywhere. He also observed the proliferation of these seedy massage and hairdressing establishments in recent years. Is that a sign of prosperity or rising unemployment?
The video below shows Comrade Shi exploring Xingning city. From the dilapidated condition of the streets and buildings, the predominance of elderly folks and the virtual absence of young people, it can probably be inferred that Guangzhou has sucked the life out of neighbouring cities.
Below is a slightly more reassuring scene taken from a town in Mei County inside. As Comrade Shi pointed out, it’s only so bustling when there’s a bazaar. Dog meat is sold here. Comrade Shi went for the cupcake which is of course very familiar to those of us in Singapore. Outside the marketplace, the sleepiness and neglect of the town are apparent. It reminds me of Ipoh during my childhood days 50 years ago. Then, there’s the gambling den in broad daylight. Another nondescript, featureless town representative of “the rest” of China.
The video below was shot at the city of Qing Yuan. Comrade Shi tries their chee cheong fun with egg. It’s called 窝仔粉 over there. The woman in the background said something I couldn’t make out. The lady in yellow said “要现在打“ in Hakka. They even sell dogs here, apparently not meant to be pets. The city hall is almost futuristic compared to other parts just visited. Comrade Shi discovered that almost all government officials drove foreign cars. Nationalistic chest-thumping notwithstanding, many Chinese people quietly show their preference for foreign imports.
The video below was shot at Kai Ping town, also part of prosperous Guangdong Province. The massive bathroom supplies megamall 开平(水口)卫浴博览城 is pretty much deserted. One of the shop units inside was even offering free rental for one year if the tenant could open the shop every day without fail. It’s an incredibly attractive offer, but potential tenants would also consider opportunity costs, sitting around a shop in an area with practically zero human traffic. 旺铺出租 (booming shop for rent) laughably demonstrates the ability of some people to tell an obvious lie. Next to the megamall, is another abandoned project which is part of the bathroom supplies megamall. There is even a hotel planned for this megamall. Unfortunately, that has also been abandoned. The most depressing part has to be the image of the homeless guy sleeping by the side of the road.
Now, would you believe that this is what the megamall is supposed to look like and the properties here are still for sale? The importance of doing one’s homework and checking on the situation on the ground cannot be over-emphasised but even if the place looks resplendent today, it may be in ruins a few years later as some of Comrade Shi’s videos would show. China’s economic miracle is very much fueled by debt and tremendous leverage. Banks with enormous amount of non-performing loans would have been declared insolvent without “government support”. We have heard and seen all the proud displays of wealth and technological advancement. Progress is everything but even. In fact, it has to be uneven and the lower levels must continue to be neglected and even milked and exploited in order for the privileged to soar. This is the harsh and cruel reality on the ground of Asia’s economic miracle.
The excerpt of a document on a special kind of salt used for preserving vegetables caused a major stir on Chinese social media. It states that in the interest of public health and to satisfy requirements from overseas customers, stringent measures must be in place to prevent special salt used for preserving vegetables from ending up as table salt in homes.
The second paragraph states that “special salt” does not contain iodine and potassium hexacynoferrate.
Chinese netizens were up in arms. The statement states that special salt should not contain iodine and potassium hexacynoferrate. Does it imply that the salt used in households contain the two substances? Well, it’s no secret, as clearly stated in the labels. The same anti-caking agent can be found in salts produced all over the world. Sodium or potassium hexacynoferrates are non-toxic and approved as food additives.
Why is it that “special salt” should not contain hexacynoferrate? That’s because sacks of salt are emptied into drums containing vegetables to be preserved. There is no need for any anti-caking agent which only comes in handy when you want to dispense salt from a shaker.
The “special salt” also does not contain iodine, probably because of cost factors. Thus, this non-fortified salt should not be consumed as table salt as iodine deficiency could be a problem if it’s used as a table salt.