CDT Editors’ Picks: The Best of 2019
The editors at CDT have made their annual selections of their favorite posts, from CDT and elsewhere around the web, over the past year. Dong Ge (Executive Editor, CDT Chinese) :
CDS 档案 | “辱华节目”全球连晒（连载一）： 不可言说之辱—— “维尼”那些事儿
“Hurting the feelings of the Chinese people “or “insulting Chinese people” has been an effective weapon used by the CCP to manipulate Chinese people to deny the freedom of speech of the Western world. However, the straightforward response from South Park made this accusation ridiculous and sharply reveals the hypocrisy of the Western corporations and people that have defended this argument and made apologies to the Chinese for this reason. China Digital Space’s archive documents a number of this kind of “insulting China” events, representing the Western world and Chinese netizens’ resistance to this propaganda.
When ‘Big Brother’ Isn’t Scary Enough , by Lora Kelley, New York Times
“Big brother” or “big other”? Starting with the naming strategy, this article discusses the complexity of New Totalitarianism. As surveillance technology grows more complex, it outpaces public understanding of the threats it poses. The future of surveillance looks far more expansive and invasive than the Big Brother metaphor can capture. Where we’re headed, we’re going to need better metaphors — ones that accurately capture the diffuse, discriminatory, and often secretive nature of both government and private surveillance.
Samuel Wade (Deputy Editor, CDT English) :
CUHK sociology professor Chan Kin-man gave his farewell lecture in November 2018, shortly before standing trial for his role in the 2014 Occupy protests, but CDT’s 16,000-word translation was posted in the first week of January, together with a more digestible selection of excerpts . (Chan was later sentenced to 16 months in prison .) Chan’s speech is a reflection on his political and intellectual influences and the value of civil disobedience and perseverance in the face of gloomy prospects. At the time, it seemed like something of an epitaph for 2014; rereading now, after six months of resurgent protests involving as many as two million Hong Kongers, it feels quite different.
The CCP aggressively claims a monopoly on “ explaining China to the world ,” and painting China as a monolithic adversary is expedient to many in the West. Independent Chinese voices are therefore more important than ever. They’re the core of much of the best China coverage, like Ian Johnson’s interviews and profiles or Geremie Barmé’s fearsomely annotated translations . 2019’s outstanding development on this front was the emergence of the Chinese Storytellers collective, a group of journalists and others from China and its diaspora. Their weekly newsletter highlights members’ recent work, and hosts discussion of issues like reporters’ personal safety , the challenges of conveying context in China stories , and potential pitfalls in fear-focused coverage of “China’s influence.”
Joshua Rudolph (Editor and Special Projects Manager, CDT English) :
Sharper Eyes: Surveilling the Surveillers
With the Sharper Eyes series , we introduced Beijing’s highly ambitious nationwide attempt to upgrade Mao-era, crowd-sourced methods of surveillance for the digital age. The Sharp Eyes program has been largely overshadowed by English press coverage of other active Chinese surveillance campaigns, and CDT aimed to fill some of the gap with this project. Stay tuned to Part 2, our interactive map, which will be updated in 2020.
‘Absolutely No Mercy’: Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims , by Austin Ramzy and Chris Buckley, New York Times
In their explanation of the 400+ pages of leaked internal CCP documents, NYT’s Buckley and Ramzy gave the world a rare peek into the official motives behind the ongoing crackdown on Uyghurs in Xinjiang. The documents show proof of the detailed planning that went into the horrific campaign to extralegally detain over a million Uyghurs, and also of local officials’ protest along the way.
Yuri (Editor, CDT Chinese) :
This CDT original article integrates a wealth of resources to show how China’s propaganda machine uses popular culture, various social media platforms, and new technologies to target the Chinese younger generation, and reveals the influence and side effects on the young people and the whole society.
Police Misconduct, by HK Democratic
This Police Misconduct Record collects a massive number of cases of police misconduct during Hong Kong’s ongoing protests, and it will continue to keep a record until the day when justice prevails.
Sophie Beach (Executive Editor, CDT English) :
“Hang in There, Hong Kong,” Mainlanders Stand with You
Amid ongoing protests as millions in Hong Kong fight to defend their democratic rights, reports have emphasized growing tensions between mainlanders and Hong Kongers. As the Chinese government launches disinformation and propaganda campaigns to shape public opinion against the protesters, little reliable information about the protesters and their goals is easily available inside China. Despite this, many mainland internet users have found ways online to express support and encouragement for the protests, demonstrating yet again that government censorship can never fully shut out the truth.
A Birthday Letter to the People’s Republic , by Yangyang Cheng, ChinaFile
Particle physicist Yangyang Cheng is a welcome new voice on the China journalism scene, with a string of deeply personal, compassionate, and intellectual essays that grapple with the intersection between science, politics, and a life in exile. This essay examines her complex and emotional relationship with her native country. In a letter addressed to China, she writes: “I cannot look away from you. You are my bloodline and my imagination, the sheriff and the judge, the hunter and the prey. You are a Party pretending to be a country, and a people in search of an identity. You are three thousand years of words and song, the ode and the siren; seven decades of struggle and survival, the triumphs and the tragedies.”
Xiao Qiang (Editor-in-Chief):
Li Hai’s List , from ChinaChange
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2019-12-30 | CDT Highlights, Information Revolution, Level 2 Article | English | ChinaDigitalTimes