Meng Wanzhou's "model essay", "parallel prose", and Pinyin for the masses

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Meng Wanzhou 孟晚舟 is the Chief Financial Officer of Huawei (the PRC communications technology giant), who was arrested on financial fraud charges at Vancouver International Airport on December 1, 2018.  Nearly three years later, in exchange for two Canadian citizens (the "two Michaels", Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who had been summarily taken prisoner and held in Chinese jails for 1,020 days), she was released from detention and flew back to China on September 24, 2021.  The text quoted below was supposedly written by her on the flight from Canada to China.

Also provided is a photograph of people gathered in the Shenzhen airport to welcome her with red banners, two of which have Hanyu Pinyin phonetic annotations on them.

Questions have been raised about the nature and quality of the essay attributed to Meng.

From an anonymous Chinese citizen:

Articles, news, and slogans have been bombarding Chinese social media for two days. I did not have to look into them to imagine what they would say, same with this model essay.  [VHM:  cf. "model operas" under "Suggested readings")  It actually smacks of primary school essays where students are encouraged to use extensive parallelisms and four-character idioms for descriptive effects, to the point that the form outweighs the content occasionally. To exaggerate a bit, think of a modern version of piánwén 駢文 ("parallel prose")
 
The difference is that primary school essays are usually born of genuine feelings, whereas this one reads like an attestation, so it is probably the action of writing and publicizing it that matters rather than what is written. I suspect that she did not write this herself but had to bear the author's name to conform to an ongoing nationalist rhetoric, which is only exacerbated by the covid and the China-US relationship. It is interesting to see that Twitter and Weibo are shrouded by quite different airs. Is this part of why English learning is being suppressed? Maybe some people celebrate the veneer because that is what they are being told, others do because it is more heartening and relaxing. I as an ignorant cannot comment further.
 
The pinyin on those banners ia indeed curious, and I have not come up with a sound explanation. Those two lines with pinyin are special among others, as they form a somewhat poetic and parallel slogan:
 
Dēngtǎ zài shǒuhòu, (Wǎn?)zhōu zhōng guīháng.
 
燈塔在守候, (晚?)舟終歸航.
 
The lighthouse is waiting, the late boat / Wanzhou at last is on its / her return voyage.
 
A simple metaphor and a pun on Meng's name are being used, which distinguishes them from other more plain and straightforward banners. The font is also different and more elegant. Maybe it is for emphatic effect. Despite all those somewhat literary aspects, I personally would consider those characters as easily intelligible, so maybe the pinyin is not there to facilitate recognition of the characters.

What, then, is the purpose of the Pinyin?

From a PRC citizen with a PhD in literature:

I first learned the news of Meng Wanzhou from a WeChat moment posted by a friend in Canada saying that Meng was ready to board on an Air China plane and two Canadians were flying back to Canada at the same time. Then a friend in US posted a screenshot of news from the website of US Department of Justice that Meng admits to misleading global financial institution and enters into deferred prosecution agreement. So the deal was made, I thought. It was, as I expected, on the same day that Chinese media cried with wild joy to celebrate another victory of the great Party and nation. From victory to victory, from success to success. Well, people do need something to feast upon, especially in a year of disasters and difficulties. 
 
Meng‘s speech follows the official order of thanking the Party, the nation and her work unit with verbalism and sentimentalism. The speech was the one authorized to be given to the public. It could be written by anyone. 
 
I can't figure out why pinyin is put on the banners. Those are very simple characters. Anyone who graduates from primary school can read them.

From yet another Chinese citizen, nephew of a Chinese business executive who was recently imprisoned for some unknown reason and whose wealth was confiscated:

I haven’t followed this event. But there must be a ghostwriter and this is certainly for propaganda purposes, as is the case for almost everything in the news in China. 
 
People who think differently don’t comment, so what you see online is largely a staged show. No need to read what they say; just check how many business tycoons feel safe enough to keep their wealth here

For the welcoming scene at the Shenzhen airport, see the photograph at the bottom right here (may be enlarged by clicking on it):

 

The photograph is from the Twitter account (@fangshimin) of Fang Zhouzi 方舟子, the Chinese popular science writer who is best known for his exposure of pseudoscience and academic fraud. 

 

Meng Wanzhou's essay

Google translation with a few minor modifications.  The text is not worthy of the labor that would be required to make a sensible, polished translation into English.  Indeed, leaving the translation somewhat fractured gives a fair idea of the shoddy, maudlin quality of the original.  This is not a great work of literature.  Because of the length and refractory nature of the text, I am omitting the usual LL romanization.  I copied the Chinese text from here.  It is also available here and here.

The following is the full text of Meng Wanzhou's post:   

—–

Moon is the brightness of my hometown, peace of mind is the way home.   

—–

It is pitch black outside the portholes, and the navigation lights on the wings flicker constantly. In the silent night sky, the shimmering light seems extra warm. At this moment, I am flying over the North Pole, heading towards home, and I am about to plunge into the arms of the great mother of the motherland. My motherland, from which I have been three years away, is close at hand. Feeling closer to my hometown makes me even more nervous, and tears blur my eyes.   

Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, our motherland is moving towards prosperity. Without a strong motherland, there would be no freedom as I have today. Scenes of the past flash by, as if they were a lifetime away, but they are still vividly visible. In the past 1,028 days, it was difficult to choose between left and right. In the past 1,028 days, I wandered around day and night, even if there were untold words. In the past 1,028 days, the mountains and rivers were overwhelming, and I did not know where to return. "People who have not cried in the middle of the night are not enough to talk about life", falling into the abyss again and again, breaking into the dark night again and again, has made me sleepless and eternally grateful [to my homeland]. Tears complained that the sorrow could not be resolved, and the sadness of the spring and autumn left me bogged down. Instead of struggling with difficulty, it is better to turn to the sun and rush out of the haze. Some winds and waves are unavoidable, and you can sail far away only if you face them straight; some arrive, inevitably detour, and will eventually anchor and dock after all the ups and downs. Countless runs, countless falls, only this time makes me feel stronger; countless departures, countless homes, only this time brings tears to my eyes. There is always a light in the thousands of lights that gives me warmth, and the vast galaxy always gives me hope, moved in my heart, and grateful.   

We pray for peace. Fortunately, we were born in a peaceful era; we admire greatness, and the most valuable thing is that we were born in a great country. Growing up in the period of reform and opening up, I have witnessed and personally experienced how great China and the Chinese people are under the leadership of the Communist Party. All my compatriots have worked hard for decades to make our motherland prosperous and strong, and the people march towards common prosperity, to make great contributions to world peace and development. Thank you, my dear motherland, and the party and government. It is the brilliant Chinese red that ignites the fire of faith in my heart, illuminates the darkest moments of my life, and leads me on the long journey home.   

Thank you dear family members for experiencing the wind and rain with me, witnessing the years, and allaying all my joys and sorrows. It is your distant company that accompanied me across the hills; it is your silent guardianship that took me out of the bushes and thorns. Thank you dear friends, there is a romance called fighting side by side, a pure calling to go all out, and a brave calling to be reckless. Looking back here, it is full of still water and deep affection and thunderous responsibility. Thank you dear colleagues. Although we have been separated for a long time, your sincere encouragement and continued perseverance have allowed us to stay in the same boat through storms and hardships. My thanks to all you and you who care about me, even if we have never met, your deep affection, sincere greetings and deep blessings, like a rainbow, make colorful the corner of the sky on the bumpy road.

Dreaming back at midnight, the most is the bright moon in my heart, that river of spring water, that ray of homesickness, it is also the soul destination every minute and every second of my stay in another country for three years. As the autumn wind passed, Vancouver already needed winter clothes before boarding. At this time, the autumn of the motherland is the time when the sky is clear and the sun is warm, looking forward to a good year, and then enjoying the orange, yellow, orange and green. Happy birthday to motherland! Although the road home is tortuous with ups and downs, it is the warmest way home in the world.

以下是孟晚舟贴文全文:

  月是故乡明,心安是归途。

  舷窗外一片漆黑,机翼上的航行灯闪烁不停,在寂静的夜空中,这些许的微光显得格外温暖。此刻,我正飞越北极上空,向著家的方向前行,马上就要投入伟大祖国母亲的怀抱,阔别三年的祖国已在天涯咫尺。近乡情更怯,不觉间泪水已模糊了双眼。

  在中国共产党的领导下,我们的祖国正在走向繁荣昌盛,没有强大的祖国,就没有我今天的自由。往事一幕幕闪过,恍若隔世,却又历历在目。过去的1028天,左右踟躇,千头万绪难抉择;过去的1028天,日夜徘徊,纵有万语难言说;过去的1028天,山重水覆,不知归途在何处。“没有在深夜痛哭过的人,不足以谈人生”,一次次坠入深渊,又一次次闯入暗夜,曾让我辗转难眠,更让我刻骨铭心。泪水抱怨化解不了愁苦,伤春悲秋翻越不过泥泞,与其困顿挣扎,不如心向阳光,冲出阴霾。有些风浪,难免艰险,唯有直面才能扬帆远航;有些抵达,难免迂回,历尽波折终会停泊靠岸。无数次奔跑,无数次跌倒,唯有此次让我倍感坚强;无数次出发,无数次归家,唯有此次让我热泪盈眶。万家灯火总有一盏给我温暖,浩瀚星河总有一予我希望,感动于心,感激于情。

  我们祈祷和平,幸运的是,我们生在一个和平的时代;我们崇尚伟大,可贵的是,我们生在一个伟大的国家。成长在改革开放时期的我,亲眼目睹、亲身经历了共产党领导下的中国和中国人民是如此伟大,全体同胞数十年如一日地艰苦奋斗,让我们的祖国走向繁荣富强,人民迈向共同富裕,为世界的和平与发展做出巨大的贡献。感谢亲爱的祖国,感谢党和政府,正是那一抹绚丽的中国红,燃起我心中的信念之火,照亮我人生的至暗时刻,引领我回家的漫长路途。

  感谢亲爱的家人们,与我一起经历风雨,见证岁月,安放我所有的喜乐苦悲。是你们的遥遥相伴,陪我越过层层山丘;是你们的默默守护,带我跨出丛丛荆棘。感谢亲爱的伙伴们,有一种浪漫叫并肩作战,有一种纯粹叫全力以赴,有一种果敢叫奋不顾身,回首此间,满是静水流深的情义和雷霆万钧的担当。感谢亲爱的同事们,虽然分别已久,你们的真挚鼓励和持续坚守,让我们始终风雨同舟,艰难征程波澜壮阔,赤诚初心历久弥坚。感谢所有关心我的你和你们,就算素未谋面,你们的浓浓情意、切切问候和深深祝福,如一道彩虹,斑斓了坎坷路途上的一隅天空。

  午夜梦回,最是心底那一轮明月,那一江春水,那一缕乡愁,亦是我滞留他乡三年每分每秒的心灵归宿。秋风掠过,登机前,温哥华已需寒衣加身。此时,祖国的秋日正是天朗气清、暖阳和煦,期待一年好景致,再赏橙黄橘绿时。祝愿祖国母亲生日快乐!回家的路,虽曲折起伏,却是世间最暖的归途。

 

Selected readings



53 Comments

  1. Perry Link said,

    September 27, 2021 @ 9:57 am

    Of course this piece was not written by Meng on an airplane. It was written by professional propagandists in China–perhaps days or even months in advance. The goal is to stoke and to manipulate the sentiments of people in China.

    We should not let this crude cynicism lead us to scoff at the childish prose and then move on. It is important to realize that the manipulation works and that its success is a very dangerous fact.

    In the last twelve hours I have been in touch with three people in China, fairly well educated, who know all about the glorious return of the daughter of Han into the embrace of the motherland but (until I told them) knew nothing at all about the two Canadian hostages. They were prevented from knowing that the CCP was operating as gangsters do. If there is a ray of good news here, it is that the CCP is aware that the Chinese people would not approve of hostage-taking were they allowed to know about it. Some fundamental bedrock values are still there in the Chinese populace.

    But what Chinese public sentiment might become in a situation where truth is suppressed is a very, very frightening prospect, and this is why we must not merely laugh at Meng's laughable statement.

  2. Paul Garrett said,

    September 27, 2021 @ 5:37 pm

    Yes, in a pathetic sense, (I forget where I heard this…), "hypocrisy can be a first step on a road to virtue"… in the sense that hypocrisy _recognizes_ virtue, and pretends to it…

    … rather than "not even pretending".

    In the U.S., the Trump administration was perhaps the first (in my several decades of observation) wherein the president would not even be hypocritical about obvious things. (Some of his aides would, still.)

    All things considered, I'm in favor of oppressive regimes being inclined to pretend to virtue, rather than not bother.

  3. Jonathan Smith said,

    September 27, 2021 @ 6:46 pm

    If nothing else, we might hope that such flagrant acts of defiance of "international norms" (cough) by the P.R.C. would prompt the U.S. academic establishment to serious reflection on the matter of which particular differences in our respective attitudes and approaches to domestic affairs and international relations are matters of kind and which merely matters of degree. With respect to l'affaire Meng Wanzhou, given among other considerations that no less personages than the U.S. President and Secretary of State promptly announced their eagerness to leverage the case (such as it is/was) for the national interest, I'm afraid the answer is plainly "degree" :/

  4. Victor Mair said,

    September 27, 2021 @ 8:12 pm

    From a PRC M.A. (art and literature):

    I believe this text was prepared under the authorities’ supervision and was released with the authorities' approval, and I believe there must be a ghostwriter. I think the article serves as a mouthpiece of the CCP. It seems that the text was designed to be erudite and especially well-learned in Chinese literature and culture. Its language is overly epideictic, bombastic, and rhetorical in a very contrived way, containing many instances of sycophancy, ideological propaganda on behalf of the CCP, and little of substance.

    The way it sentimentally thanks the party and the nation, and its overly flowery parallelism and classical allusions it uses somehow remind me of the concept of “样板”(“model; standard”).

    Meng Wanzhou flew back to China on September 25. On Weibo, the popular Twitter-like social media platform in China, posts and articles which represented the authority stance and its propaganda for various purposes were foregrounded as “top searched clips”, while their comments were, of course, heavily censored and filtered. It was almost impossible to tell the real public opinion since it was largely whipped up, if not faked. In real life, there were indeed many people jubilantly celebrating Meng’s return to home, just like the cheering crowds at the Shenzhen airport; on the other hand, there were also criticisms, innuendos, and incisive sarcasm towards these agitated, chauvinistic partisans and Meng’s heroic image produced by China’s propaganda machine. I witnessed a few disputes over the Meng Wanzhou event in my WeChat Moments (similar to Instagram) and subsequent falling-outs.

    Except for issues concerning Meng Wanzhou, there was some other breaking news in China in late September: the plaintiff in a high-profile, landmark sexual harassment case lost her lawsuit, which was censored in multiple media, and it showcased how the Chinese #Metoo movement was stifled. Recently, an unannounced power cut has been imposed in northeast China where local livelihood has been severely affected. “Violent”, “pornographic”, and “vulgar” cartoons and animations, including many popular ones, were censored and cracked down by the authority “for the healthy growth of young people”, following its stringent curbs on China’s entertainment industry (including its ban on “effeminate man” that we talked earlier this month).

    In a word, I think this text works in line with the ideological and propaganda purposes of the CCP, and it concerns nothing about diplomatic issues and international juridical debates.

  5. Phil H said,

    September 28, 2021 @ 3:01 am

    A couple of points.
    (1) The culture inside Huawei (I worked there for a few years) is very patriotic, and they love their obtuse essays. The founder, Ren Zhengfei, is famous for writing "obscure" articles. (They're not really obscure, he just uses metaphor occasionally, and applies it to business theory.) This has affected the entire culture of the company, so every senior manager tries to write their own artistic masterpieces. This particular essay would not have required the help of any government agents; it's exactly the kind of thing that Huawei insiders love to write and read. (That's not dispositive, of course – I have no knowledge of whether any government agents were involved in its production or dissemination.)
    (2) It is pretty laughable, but who's feeling good about their country right now? If you want to talk about ignorant citizenries, it's tough for English-speaking nations (I'm British) to hold their heads up at this particular political moment. (Apologies to Canada, but you know you're French, really.)

  6. AntC said,

    September 28, 2021 @ 4:32 am

    It is pretty laughable, but who's feeling good about their country right now? If you want to talk about ignorant citizenries, it's tough for English-speaking nations

    (I'm ex-British, now New Zealander.)

    Despite all the dysfunctioning of democracies in some English-speaking nations, that is hardly comparable to the total absence of democracy in PRC or to the abuses of human rights and control of all information reaching its citizenry. Some of that dysfunctioning is also laughable, and we can openly say so. Good luck within the PRC with openly laughing at Meng's propaganda; or laughing at the flagrantly trumped-up charges (and supine court system) against the two Michaels, which mysteriously melted away as soon as Meng was released.

    The very fact you can openly ask your questions/point out why it's tough demonstrates the difference amply. Who in PRC can question (for example) whether the Party bears some responsibility for the Evergrande debacle/property bubble; whether corrupt Party officials bear some responsibility for the mismanagement of the flooding and deaths last month; whether Huawei does build information-capture into its devices to monitor the citizenry within PRC; whether the National Security Law in HK is within the 'one country two systems' agreement; whether it's a fabrication that Covid was cooked up in a lab in Fort Detrick and deliberately planted by USA agents during the World Military Games in Wuhan; and on; and on; …?

    New Zealanders are not feeling smug: but we are a functioning democracy that managed to hold an election (a little delayed) in the middle of a pandemic, with robust debate not poisoned by misinformation. I'm feeling good about my (adopted) country.

  7. Phil H said,

    September 28, 2021 @ 9:29 am

    All of that's true, and valuable. But… I live in the PRC, and here I am, saying whatever want about Evergrande. And my 14 year old nephew (who is Chinese and exposed only to Chinese media) asked me about the two Michaels the other day. Information finds a way!
    None of which is to excuse the behaviour of the Chinese government, of course. But I find that people who don't live here have a very peculiar view of what life is like. All of the questions you mentioned would be pretty normal conversations around our dinner table; online debate is stifled, but for the most part, it doesn't feel like 1984 living here. Remember that online isn't the real world!

  8. 1982 said,

    September 28, 2021 @ 9:55 am

    "online debate is stifled, but for the most part, it doesn't feel like 1984 living here. Remember that online isn't the real world!"

    When curriculum is changed at the international schools, when kids are asked to sing songs praising the motherland and are afraid to say no, then it is headed toward 1984 if not there with all the video cams and tracking. Yes you can say what you want at home but I doubt that is true at a restaurant or at school or anywhere in public. But I guess its better than during the cultural revolution where around the dinner table if you had a home) one might worry your own family might narc on you.

    anyway perhaps its not 1984 but only 1982. Lets see after 2 more years. A lot can happen in 2 years as we witnessed in the next door neighbor of Shenzhen

  9. Victor Mair said,

    September 28, 2021 @ 10:50 am

    @Phil H

    You must have very special privileges. Yesterday, a professor who is teaching at a major American university in China (he is actually a dean there) told me that – even with a VPN (Virtual Private Network) (never mind that it is illegal to use a VPN in China [if you are caught using one, you are liable to a $145 fine]) – it is usually impossible for him, his colleagues, and their students, to access Language Log.

    See also “Badge of honor: Language Log is blocked in China” (12/26/19).

  10. 1982 part 2 said,

    September 28, 2021 @ 7:18 pm

    I do think many average citizens feel it's a win for their 'team' as the stream of moments on my WeChat was endless the days of the release and arrival.

    In China companies of a certain size or larger (M of SME) and international schools must have gov appointed people as observers/advisors. A neighbor mentioned now he must 'support' 3 instead of 1 several years ago. Moreover offices must be provided for them. So yes while nationalism runs high her speech of course was approved or written by gov.

    As for 1982

    'China’s education ministry incorporates ‘Xi Jinping thought’ into national curriculum, from primary schools to graduate programmes.'

    This is real regardless if you are attending an international school or not.

    Of course it's personal opinion if that is 1984 or not.

    "Next week, the school will record a video for the "72nd anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China". We will need G4-G6 choir members to prepare the song 《I love you, China"

    Would I be worried to say sorry I don't want my children to attend if they were in the US. (Guess many people take a knee.) The answer is no. Here yes. I have to say my child is sick today. Or perhaps I'm just paranoid.

    People just get used to it and so perhaps 1984 doesn't seem like 1984.

    'Law against insulting Chinese national anthem'

    I understand how Brits and Canadians might not feel it's 1984 when people can be fined or jailed for using pronouns, what I realized in recent years only the US has a strong first amendment ingrained in it's laws and culture.

    As for vpns or ladders as some people call them they can be blocked at anytime throughout the country for example certain high level gatherings and are very isp dependent.

    Once again sorry for the non language rant though censorship perhaps can be considered language related.

  11. AntC said,

    September 28, 2021 @ 8:19 pm

    I find that people who don't live here have a very peculiar view of what life is like.

    (Actually I have travelled in China, before Tiananmen square. Even back then, I was trailed by a 'tour guide' every time I tried to walk the streets. I lived in HK before the hand-back. Nobody trailed me there. There certainly were protests in HK (in Statue Square for example, which is now closed down). Nobody was protesting against British Rule — although there were some protesting against the British for their sell-out.)

    Remember that online isn't the real world!

    Both your points cut both ways. You don't live in USA or UK or NZ. If your only source of news of those countries is watching Chinese State news, or Fox News or other Murdoch outlets, you'd get a very peculiar view also. But I can (and do) survey a plurality of online sources. Even State-owned outlets like the BBC accommodate a plurality of views. In the USA, the First Amendment guarantees plurality — and there's plenty of that freely visible. Where would I get a plurality of views about China? Only from Western-based outlets relying on citizen journalists, and grabbing their footage from online media before the PRC censors close them down. I'm sure it is biased and only somewhat accurate. Equally, I'm sure it's more accurate than anything from the Global Times.

    If life in PRC is all honey and roses, surely the CCP would welcome Western journalists with open arms to show it off! Especially to Xinjiang. If there is an innocent explanation for the start of the Covid outbreak, surely the CCP would release the Wuhan lab(s) records rather than suppressing even what had been available before the outbreak, and release the medical history of the lab employees who got a mysterious flu-like illness in October/November 2019.

    I can at least triangulate news from UK by speaking freely to my family there.

    Is @Phil H speaking freely? Since he (she/they) seems to enjoy unusually privileged access to LLog, I have a suspicion it's not free-speaking/it may be a concocted persona/agent provocateur. Can I prove that beyond the (highly suggestive) evidence of access to LLog? No, but that's the trouble with anything coming from a State that controls all information: I wouldn't trust any denial either/I'd suspect any contra-evidence would be concocted.

  12. Phil H said,

    September 28, 2021 @ 9:27 pm

    Hahaha!
    See, this is what I mean about the very peculiar view of what living in China is like.
    @AntC, no, I'm not an agent of the Chinese state, as you comically suggest. My name's Phil, I come from the UK, and I've been living here for a long time.

    VPNs: In theory, I understand VPNs are illegal. I've never heard of anyone actually being arrested, prosecuted, or even noticed because of the use of a VPN. (It seems comparable to the availability of marijuana when I lived in the UK.) I bought mine from a Chinese person over WeChat; on my phone I have a free one which also works pretty well. In my experience, the vast majority of Chinese citizens are not very interested in getting a VPN, because there is inexhaustible content inside the great firewall. In my profession (translation), use is fairly common, because we need them to get onto Google, and to research on Wikipedia and other blocked sites. Again, I've never heard of a translator being noticed, harrassed, or attacked for the use of a VPN. Using my current VPN I can get through to Language Log with no problems.

    @1982 "When curriculum is changed at the international schools, when kids are asked to sing songs praising the motherland and are afraid to say no…"
    Again, I can only give this a yes, but. In American schools they have flags, do they not? And pledges of allegiance, or similar? Brits regard that as very odd indeed! And in my British school, I was required to go to chapel every day and sing songs to something I very definitely did not believe in. The British government, with Michael Gove as Ed Sec, introduce explicit patriotism requirements for British state education. And if you want to hear outrage, as a British teacher about the Prevent program, introduced after 9/11, to identify 'extremism'. If you think that American or Brit schools are paragons of liberalism, you're mistaken.

    Now, all of this has to be held in the right perspective. The Chinese patriotic propaganda is undoubtedly worse. (Anecdote: following the release of Meng Wanzhou, my older son was asked to do a piece of homework explicitly linking this incident with the burning of the Old Summer Palace in 1861! The school didn't actually trouble to teach them what had happened in the Meng Wanzhou incident… it was a definite educational low point.) And whatever is going on in Xinjiang is terrifying – maybe as bad as what white governments did to Canadian and Australian aboriginals in the 1960s. So it is absolutely right that Chinese citizens and world citizens continue to campaign and apply pressure to the Chinese government.

    My argument is that many of the "criticisms" lobbed at China are just off base. There is very little point in criticising China for instituting a patriotic education policy. Most countries do that. There is no point criticising China for having a military and using it occasionally. Most countries do that.

    Similarly, if you are picturing a zombified population that doesn't know what's going on, you're mistaken. There is now a chattering class, and we chatter.

    On-point criticisms include the suppression of free speech in the media and online; and the ongoing disasters that are Xinjiang and Tibet. (Unfortunately, given Britain's colonial history, I feel peculiarly poorly positioned to criticise China's colonialist policies in the west of the country.) By far the biggest attack on human rights in China was the one-child policy, which has now been substantially relaxed, thank goodness.

    Now, having read all that, if you still believe I work for the Communist Party… then there's not much I can do about that. For anyone reading who wants to know what living in urban China is like right now: it's nice. If you're in the middle class, you'll live in a middle class way here, too. Avoid the domestic state media, because it's ridiculous, and hobnob about house prices, just like everywhere else in the world.

  13. Victor Mair said,

    September 28, 2021 @ 10:04 pm

    "Using my current VPN I can get through to Language Log with no problems."

    Please carefully reread what I wrote about the use of VPNs and accessibility of Language Log for many other people in China.

    Wikipedia and many other invaluable sites are also blocked for most people in the PRC.

  14. 1982 said,

    September 29, 2021 @ 4:00 am

    "In American schools they have flags, do they not? And pledges of allegiance, or similar? Brits regard that as very odd indeed!"

    Yes there is all that but even when I was a youngster many decades ago we taught we don't need to participate and some didn't because they thought it was cool to test it.

    Moreover we were shown images of flag burning and why its allowed.

    Try to sit down in class in China during the anthem.

    Finally go try to wear a pooh shirt LOL

    enough said, freedom isn't even in the same ballpark.

    Btw I'm only addressing the 1984 comparison as I agree that even recent behavior such as Afghanistan Iraq Syria Libya are terrible. That said in the US one can express discontent about that publicly. Although what they did and are doing to Assange is terrible.

  15. Phil H said,

    September 29, 2021 @ 5:11 am

    Yeah… again, you're radically overestimating how militarised and worked up everything is. Teenagers are teenagers the world over. Little videos of kids messing around when they're supposed to be standing up for the national anthem are a staple of mummy-twitter here (conducted on WeChat, of course). And my older boy was once given a good telling off for lying on the ground during the flag-raising. This stuff is school assembly. Everyone knows it's school assembly. No-one starts making political hay out of teenagers messing around.
    As for the Winnie the Pooh thing, what is this, 2018?! That was a meme, not a political statement. I don't own cartoon-themed clothing myself, but I guarantee you that if you wore a Winnie shirt, no-one would have a clue what you were doing. This is not how Beijing's "social controls" work.
    This is what I meant by the peculiar view of what life is like. People who don't live here seem to imagine that residents in China walk around on eggshells, afraid to sing the wrong song or like the wrong cartoon character. And it's just not like that – because 99% of what we do on any given day simply isn't political. If you stay here long enough, you'll catch some. I've brushed up against the edges of censorship (worked for a newspaper for a while, had online posts disappear, had emails never reach their recipients). And obviously, if you're involved in politics in any way, then the danger is real.
    But my point was about the day-to-day experience of living in the country, which is… fine. It doesn't feel at all uptight and repressed.

  16. Victor Mair said,

    September 29, 2021 @ 6:09 am

    Why is it your VPN (or some other arrangement) allows you to read and comment on Language Log when most of my friends and colleagues in the PRC cannot do so? And Wikipedia? And…?

  17. Victor Mair said,

    September 29, 2021 @ 6:52 am

    "And obviously, if you're involved in politics in any way, then the danger is real."

    In the PRC, the scope of politics is broad. I know many people who got in serious trouble when they didn't think that they were saying or doing anything political.

    "But my point was about the day-to-day experience of living in the country, which is… fine. It doesn't feel at all uptight and repressed."

    This is not what many people I know who have left the PRC because they were feeling uptight and repressed have told me — e.g., high school teachers who told me there were closed circuit cameras recording their every word in the classroom and warnings about what could and could not be said.

  18. ~flow said,

    September 29, 2021 @ 7:13 am

    FWIW the German word for this literary style is Schwulst. When the schwulstload increases in the papers and the other media, you know something is rotten in the state. Schwulst is the flowery discharge of a feverish body political.

  19. Phil H said,

    September 29, 2021 @ 7:16 am

    @Victor Mair
    I'm afraid you're mistaking me for a person with tech skills – I have no idea why my VPN works and others don't. For reference, if your friends want to know, I'm using shadowsocks on the computer, and Star VPN (free version) on my phone, and they get me through to most things most of the time, with the occasional mystifying cut out. I regard this whole area as dark sorcery, so I can tell you no more.

    As for the people you know… they sound like a fairly self-selecting group. I don't really know what to say about them, except, what's the baseline? I fear you're comparing these people, who felt oppressed by their government, with a magical land where no one feels oppressed. If you watch Fox News for a little while, you'll hear people who feel just as aggrieved, and for surprisingly similar-sounding reasons. If you spend all your time listening to people who left China, you're going to hear a fairly consistent viewpoint. And of course, that works both ways: I live among the people who didn't leave, and so I hear their viewpoint. My purpose in commenting here was to represent that viewpoint, because it seems to be underrepresented in this forum.

    (Hi, by the way! You know my friend Alex, and I believe you've seen some of my work.)

  20. ~flow said,

    September 29, 2021 @ 7:57 am

    > dark sorcery

    Magic is not the issue here, but the MITM might be.

  21. Dr. Emilio Lizardo said,

    September 29, 2021 @ 9:41 am

    @Phil H.

    Thank you for your strident defense of such a heartfelt essay. Who could not empathize with Meng as she suffered the indignities of living in a mansion which she was only allowed to leave if she wore an ankle bracelet? Compare that to the nearly three years of room and board provided to the Canadian visitors by the PRC government. Why, there is no comparison.

    As for the ignorance of the English-speaking peoples regarding this matter, how can anyone argue with that. The abundance of reporting and ‘fake news’ about this situation available to Westerners was undoubtably confusing and cast the CCP in an unfavorable light. Compare that with the carefully vetted, CCP-approved reporting available in the PRC and it’s clearly obvious who are the ignorant.

    As for foreigners’ misunderstandings regarding the PRC, you make some good points. They live in completely different cultures and only receive their information from unreliable sources. Of course, the foreigners who are the most susceptible to such misperceptions are expats who haven’t lived in their native country for decades but purport to speak authoritatively (and, typically, critically) about contemporary life in their former abode. And, as we all know, those who consistently resort to what-a-bout-isms and “yeah, but…” don’t have credible responses to criticism.

    It’s great to learn that you’re not experiencing a 1984-like existence in the PRC. So many of us are under the misperception that all forms of communications are closely monitored in the PRC to identify ‘wrong think’ and that there is a high level of self-censorship. In fact, there are actually people who believe what was written in Perry Link’s renowned essay “The Anaconda in the Chandelier” (https://www.chinafile.com/library/nyrb-china-archive/china-anaconda-chandelier) – thanks for putting such matters to rest. (As an aside, when you receive ‘free’ software (e.g. VPN), do you know who the product is?)

    Please continue to comment on LL. I assure you that your insights and perspectives are appreciated by all. As sure as my name is Dr. Emilio Lizardo.

    p.s. Thought you might enjoy this recent report from Freedom House:

    https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-net/2021/global-drive-control-big-tech

    China ranks as the worst environment for internet freedom for the seventh year in a row. Chinese authorities imposed draconian prison terms for online dissent, independent reporting, and mundane daily communications. The COVID-19 pandemic remains one of the most heavily censored topics. Officials also cracked down on the country’s tech giants, citing their abuses related to competition and data protection, though the campaign further concentrated power in the hands of the authoritarian state.

  22. Philip Taylor said,

    September 29, 2021 @ 12:36 pm

    Dr Lizardo — ny namesake Phil H. has stated that he has lived in the PRC for a long time, and is therefore presumably reporting the facts as he experiences them. It would be helpful to those of us trying to decide how much credence to ascribe to Phil H's assertions to know whether you too are (or have been) resident in the PRC, and are therefore, like Phil H, reporting first-hand experiences, or whether you are describing things as you see them from the perspective of a resident of another country.

  23. Dr. Emilio Lizardo said,

    September 29, 2021 @ 3:13 pm

    Mr. Taylor – I don’t argue that your namesake is portraying the realities as he sees them. However, given the abundance of examples (both in this thread and from many other sources) that contradict many of his assertions, I consider his comments to be a single data point that is worth reading, but not necessarily accepting as the general condition of things in the PRC.

  24. Victor Mair said,

    September 29, 2021 @ 3:16 pm

    My more electronically sophisticated friends know about shadowsocks and all those workarounds, but much of the time nothing works. If the PRC government wants to shut down something on the internet, they do so at will.

    Those few / select individuals who continue to have access to forbidden sites must have some other kind of mojo / sorcery working for them.

    Why do people in China need to have VPNs at all?

    And what is so bad about Language Log that the Chinese government feels the need to block it, as well as thousands of other apolitical, academic websites?

  25. alex said,

    September 29, 2021 @ 3:40 pm

    I think Phil is trying to say for the average upper middleclass person here daily life is pleasant. If one just goes about ones life, for example going to work etc life has improved until recently due to economic issues, especially in Shenzhen. There just isn't much interest in being a SJW as they focus on improving their own families, something Jordan Peterson would agree with. I know a piano teacher who doesn't care about politics, she wouldn't watch the news even if she could. She would just focus on teaching piano, pursuing her own hobbies and taking care of her child. I would say she is in the vast majority. The focus here is on family economics. I think Reagan said are you better off today….

    To be honest I find what's happening in Australia Canada Europe and some US states in regards with covid lockdown alarming as I had higher expectations in regard to freedoms.

    That said its clear I worry about what I write on this banned site. This worry has only increased in the past few years.

  26. Philip Taylor said,

    September 29, 2021 @ 3:42 pm

    Thank you for your reply, Dr Lizardo, but I am still intrigued to know whether you have ever resided in the PRC, and can therefore make a first-hand report on the situation that obtains there, as has Phil H., or whether you are relying solely on other's reports of what transpires there.

  27. Phil H said,

    September 29, 2021 @ 8:44 pm

    Thanks, @Philip Taylor, that's exactly right. I'm just saying how life feels to me.
    Perhaps more than anything, the thing to remember about China is how vast and diverse it is. My experience is not representative of all of China in any way; it's a privileged, relatively well-off life in one of China's most pleasant cities. I hope everyone here does listen to all sides of the story (including those sides that are not permitted inside the great firewall). And, Covid permitting, if you ever get the chance, do come to Xiamen some day. Obviously I'm biased, as it's my adopted home, but I really think it's a great place to be. Plus, there's a quick ferry to Taiwan if the propaganda all gets too much for you.

  28. the plural of anecdote said,

    September 30, 2021 @ 2:33 am

    If Phil H. is from the UK- unclear if he's even a citizen of China- the government may be purposefully subjecting him to less overt monitoring and control than their own citizens. He's not reporting on his neighbor's experiences, just those of people related to him, so I'm not sure if he can compare his experiences with those of non-connected Chinese citizens.

  29. Phil H said,

    September 30, 2021 @ 5:52 am

    @anecdote (apt name!)
    I'm not a citizen, but I am married to one, and the father of two. You're not wrong, of course; I'm certainly not a representative resident of China.
    I'll try to explain how the way you're talking seems to suggest a misunderstanding of how life here works.
    There isn't this thing called "the government" with a relationship to me as an individual, or any of the ordinary people who live around me. The controls which the government applies – and they definitely do exist – work in indirect and bureaucratic ways. They're administered at the primary level by old ladies who run the residents' association. You get nagged if you don't separate your recyclables. (In the past, these were the women who'd report you if you were pregnant without a permit.)
    As a non-citizen, I have to register with the police everywhere I stay the night. If I'm in a hotel, it's automated; if I'm at home, a single registration per year is enough. But in theory, if I stayed over at a friend's house, I would have to register at the police station. (For Chinese citizens the same applies if they're staying for any length of time.) This system is not thought of or treated like political spying, though of course, it also fulfills this function. On the operational level, this system just feels like an administrative hassle that everyone has to go through.
    Right now, the whole country is being electronically observed because we all have electronic Covid passports/track-and-trace software on our phones, which we have to show even to get into our own homes. I'm actually less surveiled by this bit of software than citizens, simply because the system for foreigners is an afterthought and doesn't have as many features as the system set up for track and trace on citizens. Again, this system is discussed as a piece of health tech; the chilling effect it could have on freedom of association is largely ignored.
    This is the way that social controls work. It's not special agents in fedoras tracking you around the streets of Beijing. It's a network of administrative systems that have no belief in privacy.
    Now… personally, I'm not a big believer in privacy, so it's not a big worry for me. (And neither are all the American systems who happily let Google and Amazon track their daily routines.) If you are someone who cares about privacy, this is how it's eroded and redefined: not through "overt monitoring and control," but with an app on your phone.

  30. ~flow said,

    September 30, 2021 @ 6:14 am

    > To be honest I find what's happening in Australia Canada Europe and some US states in regards with covid lockdown alarming as I had higher expectations in regard to freedoms.

    We're just trying not to die here, mind you. As for China's official SARS-Cov2 statistics, they can not possibly be truthful

  31. Victor Mair said,

    September 30, 2021 @ 9:38 am

    "…there's a quick ferry to Taiwan if the propaganda all gets too much for you."

    From a citizen of Taiwan:

    I don't think there is a ferry between Amoy and Taiwan. There are only ferries between Amoy and Jinmen.

  32. Victor Mair said,

    September 30, 2021 @ 9:46 am

    From a naturalized citizen of Taiwan:

    The ferry is actually between Taiwan-controlled Kinmen (Jinmen, Quemoy) and the PRC's Xiamen. There's no commercial sea route that goes all the way from the PRC to the main island of Taiwan.

    I have no idea what the ferry's status is since COVID. But Taiwan (including Kinmen) still has a mandatory two-week quarantine period for arrivals (including citizens — and most non-citizens can't enter), so there's no easy hopping back and forth on the ferry regardless of the link's status.

    When the route first opened up, foreigners, even foreign residents of Taiwan, were not permitted to make use of it. For that matter, I don't think even regular Taiwanese could make use of it at first, just people whose hukou was in Kinmen. This led to some businesspeople buying places in Kinmen so they could register themselves as living there. Eventually changes were made, and even foreigners could use the service — or at least I'm pretty sure that's how it worked out. The tricky part might have been the visas for foreigners (one can't get a Taiwanese visa in China, and one can't get a PRC visa in Taiwan).

    I was interested in taking this way back when it first opened, mainly for the novelty of it (and because I heard Xiamen was interesting). But I never followed through. These days I would certainly not want to set foot in what the PRC has become under Xi Jinping. So no ferry for me.

    Anyone who wants to know something of the history could probably find at least bits of it by digging through these long threads on forumosa.com, a site at least formerly popular with expats in Taiwan. Here are two:

    first

    second

    And a plug for some good guidebooks:

    first

    second

  33. Phil H said,

    September 30, 2021 @ 9:50 am

    Haha, damn, I keep getting sucked back into this thread!
    @flow "As for China's official SARS-Cov2 statistics, they can not possibly be truthful"
    I don't see any reason to think they're not truthful. Xiamen, the city of about 5m people where I live, just completely locked down because of a little outbreak of delta cases. We hit a peak of 20-30 new confirmed cases per day (that's cases, not hospitalisations). Whole city locked down, online school, offices closed, for zero hospitalisations. Today we had zero new reported cases, and the plan is to stay locked down for another two weeks.
    That's the kind of massive reaction (overreaction, perhaps) that gets you the kind of very low case loads that China reports.
    I don't know anything about the rest of the country, but around here, prior to this September outbreak, there were zero cases for a full year,

  34. Phil H said,

    September 30, 2021 @ 10:05 am

    And here we go again!
    @VHM:
    "The ferry is actually between Taiwan-controlled Kinmen (Jinmen, Quemoy) and the PRC's Xiamen" – yes, this is correct. Jinmen is an island that is part of Taiwan, and the ferry goes to it. You can then get another ferry over to Taiwan Island.

    "…COVID…" – yes, I assume it's not viable at the moment. Travel to China is pretty much impossible at the moment, from any direction.

    "…foreigners…not permitted…" – there was a process of gradual opening up of restrictions, but for the last few years pre-Covid, it was open to anyone (with a visa or a passport that Taiwan would allow in, which I think includes all major western countries). It was a quick and easy way to do a visa run.

    "These days I would certainly not want to set foot in what the PRC has become under Xi Jinping." – This is an odd media myth. China has not become worse under Xi Jinping. For most people, it is much, much freer – mainly because of the easing of the one child policy, which was by far the biggest restriction on most people. As the economy continues to grow, most people have more freedom, not less. Xi has made certain policy moves in the direction of more state control, this is true. But once again, it's useful to know that for ordinary people, these moves have made very little difference. China's media remains tightly constricted, but it was never unconstricted. The idea that China was freer or more relaxed under Hu Jintao is just… odd. It has no basis in the lived experience of most Chinese residents.

  35. Victor Mair said,

    September 30, 2021 @ 10:27 am

    I'm still waiting to hear why PRC citizens and residents need a VPN to access much of the internet, including countless valuable, apolitical sites such as Language Log and Wikipedia, and why even VPNs don't do the trick without some special mojo / sorcery available only to those who are privileged to have it.

  36. Victor Mair said,

    September 30, 2021 @ 10:43 am

    @~flow

    MITM

    Man-in-the-middle attack

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man-in-the-middle_attack

    =====

    In cryptography and computer security, a man-in-the-middle, monster-in-the-middle, machine-in-the-middle, monkey-in-the-middle (MITM) or person-in-the-middle (PITM) attack is a cyberattack where the attacker secretly relays and possibly alters the communications between two parties who believe that they are directly communicating with each other. One example of a MITM attack is active eavesdropping, in which the attacker makes independent connections with the victims and relays messages between them to make them believe they are talking directly to each other over a private connection, when in fact the entire conversation is controlled by the attacker. The attacker must be able to intercept all relevant messages passing between the two victims and inject new ones. This is straightforward in many circumstances; for example, an attacker within the reception range of an unencrypted Wi-Fi access point could insert themselves as a man-in-the-middle.

    As it aims to circumvent mutual authentication, a MITM attack can succeed only when the attacker impersonates each endpoint sufficiently well to satisfy their expectations. Most cryptographic protocols include some form of endpoint authentication specifically to prevent MITM attacks. For example, TLS can authenticate one or both parties using a mutually trusted certificate authority.

    =====

  37. Phil H said,

    September 30, 2021 @ 10:50 am

    "I'm still waiting to hear why…"
    Was that aimed at me? Why on earth would you be asking me that question? I have no expertise in any of those areas.
    You seem to be determined to find ways to refute the things I'm saying. I'm sorry if my opinions or my experience offend you, but… this is just what I see around me.

  38. Victor Mair said,

    September 30, 2021 @ 11:31 am

    Can ANYONE tell me why VPNs are necessary in the PRC?

  39. Victor Mair said,

    September 30, 2021 @ 11:31 am

    Latest news on the media censorship front.

    "Hong Kong national security law: 6 former Apple Daily executives face High Court trial with possible life sentences", by Brian Wong, SCMP (9/30/21 | 7:03pm)

    This is one reason why many people are fleeing from Hong Kong as fast as they can.

  40. Philip Taylor said,

    September 30, 2021 @ 1:27 pm

    Victor asks "Can ANYONE tell me why VPNs are necessary in the PRC ?". I would argue that they are not, any more than a motor car is necessary if one lives where there is adequate public transport. Some people elect to use a VPN, others elect to own a motor car. Both offer convenience, neither is necessary. A motor car will allow its driver to visit places not served by public transport; a VPN will allow its user to access Internet resources that are inaccessible from the network to which he or she is physically connected. If I want to access University resources from my home, I have to use a VPN, and if I want to visit many places on Bodmin Moor I have to use a motor car.

  41. Dr. Emilio Lizardo said,

    September 30, 2021 @ 2:19 pm

    @Philip Taylor
    Comparing VPNs to motor car ownership? Yikes!
    Gabby Johnson would stand in awe of your unique brand of logic.

    https://youtu.be/ke5Mr5eCF2U

  42. AntC said,

    September 30, 2021 @ 6:24 pm

    Today we had zero new reported cases, [of Covid] …

    Your "reported" is the weasel words.

    Covid reporting is at least one area of misinformation we have a reasonable level of evidence of PRC's deception. They back in late 2020 declared they wouldn't count cases that are unsymptomatic. That flat-out ignores WHO stipulation, so means China's reporting is not comparable with any other country. Furthermore, 'unsymptomatic' seems to be interpreted as 'not needing intensive care'. We all (outside PRC) have seen the cellphone footage of officials nailing apartment doors shut with iron bars — from the outside! Please explain why that's needed if there's no cases.

    How do I know there continue to be more cases of infection in China than officially reported? Because there's a continual stream of border cases reported in Taiwan coming from the Mainland. (Presumably not arriving by ferry from Qimoy, so I can't help you on that topic.)

    Furthermore, many of the cases have already received the SinoVac/SinoPharm, but are still 'breakthrough' infections. I'd be interested to hear if @Phil H can access (for example) Taiwannews.com.tw in English or Mandarin to see the reports for himself.

  43. AntC said,

    September 30, 2021 @ 10:50 pm

    If I want to access University resources from my home, I have to use a VPN,

    I think you'll find that's to protect the University's confidential information from the prying public. (Or from DoS or ransom attacks from the State-sponsored hackers that are trying to get into many Western public institutions. And you know which State sponsors I'm talking about.)

    Nothing on LLog is proprietary or confidential in that sense. Why should anyone need a VPN, as Victor keeps asking. I don't.

    if I want to visit many places on Bodmin Moor I have to use a motor car.

    A comparison to the situation in China would be that if you want to look up wikipedia on Bodmin Moor before your visit, you need to use a VPN wherever you're searching from. (Not of course in China that you'd be allowed to drive to just any wild piece of countryside.)

    And using a VPN wouldn't guarantee access anyway. I'm kinda interested in what sites Phil H can visit — but I'd have grave fears of putting him in personal peril for even trying.

    And if you can't see the wiki entry, you'd never discover there used to be a different language spoken thereabouts. You'd never discover there's a whole ancient culture and set of legends around it. You'd never discover it was a centre for smuggling; probably not even what smuggling was; nor why Government and Excise of the time was so onerous that smugglers would take huge risks.

    For a Chinese context, imagine your tourist trip was to Xinjiang or Tibet — or indeed to Honk Kong or Taiwan.

    I just don't get why Phil H is so blasé/unreflective on what "I see around me". Yes, the U.K. and U.S.A. are historically guilty of enslavement and imperialism (and Brits in NZ of cultural oppression). No that doesn't mean I as a Brit have to carry cultural cringe forever and can't criticise oppression where I see it.

  44. Phil H said,

    October 1, 2021 @ 2:15 am

    @Ant C
    "Your "reported" is the weasel words."
    No, it's medical words. Obviously, there are no statistics on actual numbers of cases. All any territory can do is record cases that have been caught by tests. Hence, epidemiologists use the term "reported" or "recorded" cases. I don't know if Xiamen has zero unidentified cases today; but I do know that the latest rounds of testing haven't found any new positives.

    I can indeed open the Taiwan news website, where the current covid headline says: "Taiwan reports 1 COVID death
    Taiwan reports 11 imported COVID cases from US, Honduras, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Cambodia" – I don't know about the past, but apparently no cases from mainland China in the very recent past.

    "We all (outside PRC) have seen the cellphone footage of officials nailing apartment doors shut with iron bars — from the outside! Please explain why that's needed if there's no cases."
    Honestly, I think I've been patient and open with you. But this relentless silly questioning is just getting my goat. So I'll answer you like I'd answer anyone else silly enough to ask me a question like that in the pub. It's quite easy to understand if you know how *time* and *geography* work. I'll use the little words so you understand: Covid – nearly 2 years now! China – very big! That footage is real; it's from some northern city (Shenyang, maybe?), from the initial outbreak last year. There were cases in China then. There are very few cases now. I know this because I look with my eyes! I walk into Xiamen No. 1 Hospital, our officially designated Covid center, and look around me. There weren't Covid wards last month. (I assume there are now!)
    I know that you have all the resources of the internet at your disposal, and it tells you lots of things. That's great. I have a family here: my children, my parents-in-law. I'm pretty interested in finding out the truth about whether there is Covid about, what's safe and what's not, whether we should get the vaccines, etc. Now, I'm not an expert on any of these things, but I've done my best, and with the benefits of full access to the internet, as we've established. So, you're welcome to talk to me. But please don't try to be smart with clever little internet-based gotchas.

  45. Phil H said,

    October 1, 2021 @ 2:19 am

    @AntC
    "I just don't get why Phil H is so blasé/unreflective on what "I see around me"."
    Am I? What is it that makes you think I'm unreflective? Is it perhaps the lack of effort I've put into this thread?
    I think you're making a simplistic and silly assumption. If you disagree with the policies of a government, does that mean that you definitely can't live in its territory? Do you think that in a rich, full human life, there might be other factors that I'd consider when deciding where I'd like to live? And if I did decide to live here, do you think I should spend my life apologising for the Chinese government and shaking my fist at it?
    Think your position through. If I lived up to your high moral standards, how would that affect the way I live, and talk on a random internet thread?

  46. Phil H said,

    October 1, 2021 @ 2:30 am

    @VHM
    "Can ANYONE tell me why VPNs are necessary in the PRC?"
    I assume the Perry Link who wrote the first comment is *the* Perry Link? There's a writer who knows a thing or two about this area. I personally don't, but would be very interested to. If you do a post about the Beijing government's official justifications for censorship, I would be very interested to read it.

  47. Philip Taylor said,

    October 1, 2021 @ 5:49 am

    Well, I watched the clip linked by Dr Lizardo; I read the comments; and I failed to understand why it attracted such favourable reviews — perhaps one has to be American in order to appreciate it.

    But regarding cars and VPNs, do you really not see the analogy ? Neither is essential, both are useful, each will allow you access to places to which access may otherwise be impossible .

  48. Victor Mair said,

    October 1, 2021 @ 7:57 am

    "a random internet thread"

    That's Language Log.

    If it's just "a random internet thread", why waste so much time on it?

  49. 1982 said,

    October 1, 2021 @ 5:37 pm

    The party realized that the virus is not that much more harmful than the seasonal flu especially since most people in China do not have co morbidities (overweight). They correctly made the decision to keep the economy going unlike some other countries who used it for political advantage. They do not count asymptomatic cases. They also realized that they have rapidly reached herd immunity.

    Moreover the tests that Phil refers to are a joke as they barely touch your throat nor do they mass test people's noses nor do they take blood. As we all know the tests results can be anything the tester wants just by adjusting the sensitivity. They are no where near the tests they make people take before they board to come to China.

    They do the mass testing all for show. Our system is better.

  50. 1982 said,

    October 1, 2021 @ 6:04 pm

    As for VPNs most people who need vpns for their work have it. Those that need to see outside research. Doctors, IT people, scientists etc. Clearly the gov knows. There are many mainland youtubers.

    For those who want to understand more about VPNs and data this is a fun video. People might need to get used to his style but will learn a lot if you finish the video.

    #techlead
    US Bans TikTok and WeChat from App Stores he explains about the dangers of some vpn's and data

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsfypimnXw0

    I do think part of the reason many things are blocked due to economic considerations.

    That said

    After seeing Australia giving up its fight with Facebook and the power of twitter and google/youtube to censor and control what is shown one can see why the CCP recently reigned in the tech companies here like Tencent and Alibaba.

    The best would be to allow competition but its clear after seeing what Apple Amazon via AWS and google via playstore did to Parler over the summer its clear the tech monopolies will do whatever they can to keep their power.

    The power google and apple have by not allowing competitors to be on their app stores is immense.

    Outside of economics, why this site is blocked, well 1982. I say 1982 rather than 1984 because one still has VPN. That said for those who have watched the video I shared will then see how data is collected by the people controlling the vpn. You can bet many of the local 'free' vpns that work are controlled by the state and they are sweeping up the data to see what vpn users are watching, my bet its mainly porn

  51. Victor Mair said,

    October 2, 2021 @ 2:58 pm

    Many Chinese colleagues who teach in top tier universities tell me that they cannot access Language Log, Wikipedia, and other valuable, apolitical, academic online resources — even with a VPN.

  52. Louis Xun said,

    October 2, 2021 @ 8:28 pm

    As to the pinyin sign referenced in tbe post and associated pun, would anyone happen to know the origin of Meng’s lovely first name , Wanzhou, including whether it might be this beautiful Song Dynasty poem , Late Boat on the Long River. http://shici.baibeike.com/shici_wjyqtkktkufi/ ? Also how common it is in China? Apparently, per the internet, she adopted her mother’s last name, unusual in China, but I have not been able to find out anything about her lovely first name, including possible literary and cultural overtones.

  53. james said,

    October 3, 2021 @ 9:51 am

    Chinese texts annotated with pinyin usually suggest that their target audience are kids in 1st/2nd grade. It is possible that these banners were designed and held by a group of elementary school teachers to manifest their identity in a subtle style.

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