Monthly Archives: July 2021

Karaoke in China

A karaoke place in Wuhan. “Just sing as you want”—but only if the CCP approves the song (credits).

The CCP issued regulations on the very popular form of “Karaoke” entertainment. It is also forbidden to sing that Taiwanese girls are sexy.

Netizens in China are poking fun at new regulations on karaoke (although their comments critical of the authorities are quickly cancelled). These are the “Regulations on the Management of Karaoke Music Content in Singing, Dance and Entertainment Places” by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. As usual in China, a draft was posted to solicit comments, but genuinely critical comments are usually not considered.

Karaoke is a huge phenomenon in China. There are more than 50,000 venues offering karaoke, often opened 24/7. China boasts the record for the longest uninterrupted karaoke session (456 hours and more, i.e., 19 days). Even shopping malls have mini karaoke booths for those feeling the urge to perform.

Of course, such massive phenomenon could not escape regulation and censorship by the CCP. According to the draft regulations, it was the Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Party that ordered to crack down on inappropriate songs performed in karaoke venues.

Read more at “Karaoke in China: Religious Songs Forbidden”

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July 2021 Update

As COVID restrictions ease up, our team is planning a return to evangelistic events and outreaches during the summer to continue building one-on-one relationships and minister to people in China.  A new twelve week “Faith or Fiction” class has been scheduled to begin August with 294 participants who already have signed up.

Our team couple who is leading the “New Hope trauma healing” ministry, not only give earthly hope by helping the hurting overcome trauma, but also provides eternal hope through stories from the Bible. During a meeting a woman who originally planned for an abortion decided to keep her baby after hearing the creation story. This same Bible story also helped a young man, who was feeling unloved and contemplating suicide, to realize that God had a purpose for his life. Life change is happening and relationships are being restored. Pray that as they meet, nonbelievers will be healed from trauma and come to salvation. Over fifty people have been trained so far and many are now leading groups of their own. Pray specifically for those who will receive this training and for the future training of women as well.

Chinese people desperately need to know Jesus who was sent to “the lost sheep” (Matthew 15:24). Jesus described Himself as the Good Shepherd, who lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:11). Jesus did everything He could to reach even just one lost sheep. That’s why ministering to people one-on-one must be the heart of everything we do. We are praising God that even during lockdowns, our team actually saw a 35 percent increase in one-on-one meetings with seekers via Zoom, Skype, WeChat and other social connections.

“If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered away? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.” (Matthew 18:12)

By God’s grace, this summer our team will reach thousands of people with the gospel—one at a time! God is constantly providing our team with divine appointments.

May the Lord Jesus bless you as together we serve the Church in China.

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HK Doxxing Law

The Hong Kong government has decided to push forward with an amendment of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance to criminalize doxxing acts on the internet with an extra-territorial effect after foreign IT firms raised their concerns.

Doxxing is the act of publicly revealing previously private personal information about an individual or organization. Facebook, Twitter and Google are among the major international tech companies that have collectively rung alarms about the ordnance and its potential impact on expression.

According to the draft of the Personal Data (Privacy) (Amendment) Bill 2021, the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) will serve a cessation notice where there is a disclosure of personal data without the data subject’s consent.

It adds that if the discloser has intent or was seen as reckless about causing any specified harm to the subject or any family member by the disclosure, and the data subject is a Hong Kong resident or is present in Hong Kong when the disclosure is made, it can act.

When any doxxing content is disclosed on an overseas social media platform, both the platform’s operator and the internet service provider in Hong Kong will receive the notice and be required to take cessation action within a designated time frame.

Read more at “HK doxxing law has tech giants up in arms”

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Slumping Marriage Numbers

A Chinese couple holding their marriage certificates pose for photos in a sunflower field in Beijing on July 9, 2021. Photo: AFP / Jade Gao

China’s slumping marriage numbers and declining birth rates have prompted Beijing to boost its recent pro-birth policies with new measures aimed at promoting marriage and deterring divorce.

Statistics show marriage and parenthood are losing their appeal with China’s Y and Z generations and Millennials. Only eight million marriages were registered in the world’s most populous nation in 2020.

This is about one-third lower than 2013’s peak of 13.47 million and is down 12.2% year-on-year, according to the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs, the state body that maintains a national register of marital changes.  

The rising tendency towards postponing marriage or forgoing it altogether in both genders is in line with key findings from China’s latest population census last year. The census revealed a fast-aging demographic with fewer newborns and a shrinking labor force. 

After loosening its childbearing policy in June to allow each couple to have as many as three children, up from a previous revision up to two, Beijing is now finalizing plans to promote wedlock to increase baby making, starting by making marriage easier and cheaper. 

Read more at “China making marriage easier, divorce harder”

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Relativity Research Association

Members of the Beijing Relativity Research Association. From Weibo.

Opposing Einstein and his relativity theory may look like a strange core business for a group banned as a xie jiao (“heterodox teaching”) or a “cult” in China. But in fact the Beijing Relativity Research Association (北京相对论研究联谊会) was, in its own way, a serious organization, with branches in 38 cities and provinces. It was banned on July 2, called a xie jiao by the CCP media, and all its provincial and local branches were raided by the police starting on June 30, with several members taken to local police stations.

Anti-relativity was an officially encouraged activity in Chairman Mao’s China, when Einstein’s theories were denounced as the epitome of “bourgeois science.” Mentioning that Lenin and Stalin sponsored Soviet scientists had also been critical of Einstein, some CCP members such as Zhou Yuhua, a professor of mathematics in a junior high school in Hunan, lobbied the Chinese Academy of Science to ban relativity as opposed to Marxist dialectical materialism in the 1960s.

They were initially ridiculed by the academic scientists, but gained the support of a circle close to Chairman Mao, including Mao’s son-in-law, Kong Linghua, and the Chairman’s former secretary and trusted adviser, Chen Boda. During the Cultural Revolution, mainline physicists were largely purged, and the anti-relativity movement was endorsed by the Red Guards. It was also seen as a weapon against Zhou Enlai, who was an admirer of Einstein and had tried to stop the movement.

Read more at “Anti-Einstein Relativity Research Association Banned As a Cult”

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Failed Propaganda

The persecution of religious minorities in China is a deadly serious affair, but the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) propaganda abroad sometimes looks more like a comedy. We at Bitter Winter were ourselves involved in a bizarre series of events, which can be read as a spy story but also as a piece of old-time vaudeville.

First, we should introduce the main characters. If you are reading this article, you probably know what Bitter Winter is all about. The respected American Protestant magazine World once called us “a thorn in the side” of the CCP. To remove the thorn, the CCP has arrested 45 of our reporters in China. It has also mobilized its fellow travelers in the West to attack us whenever possible.

If you read Bitter Winter, you also know the CCP, but most probably you don’t know a minor Belgian fellow traveler of that Party, a Belgian called Roland Delcourt, who is married to a Chinese and has been living in Shenzhen for “at least 20 years.” He gives interviews and writes propaganda letters in favor of the CCP that are published in the Chinese regime’s official organs, including the People’s Daily and the news agency Xinhua.

He is also a “cyber warrior” and posts on social media to defend the CCP, with a language that parrots, but goes beyond, the “wolf warrior” Chinese diplomats. For instance, he likes to play on the phonetic similarity between “Biden” and the French word “bidon” (phony), and calls the U.S. President, when he criticizes China, “a false democrat,” “the Yankee Gauleiter”, suggesting a comparison with “Nazi” war criminals, and “cholera” as Trump was the plague.

Read more at “False Documents Against Chinese Refugees and Bitter Winter”

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Tit-for-Tat

The “downward spiral” in United States-China relations has taken a new legal twist that threatens to further decouple the world’s two largest economies.

Not only is Beijing determined to frame this confrontation as one in which the US is the aggressor and China is merely defending itself, but in doing so it is developing and deploying the same tools that Washington has deployed.

This mirror imaging threatens to lock in a reflexive “tit-for-tat” dynamic that ensures the relationship deteriorates further.

China is aggrieved by a lengthening list of US actions intended to punish the country, its companies, or its leaders.

Chinese anger is also being directed elsewhere in the Western world, with Australia and the European Union also targeted for retribution.

Beijing is especially galled by America’s increasing resort to sanctions against Chinese entities and demands that third parties respect and enforce them worldwide. There is also irritation with US laws that mandate disclosure of information that China feels is best held close, such as audits of companies that aim to list on US stock exchanges.

Read more at “US-China tensions take an ominous legal turn”

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Wolf Warrior Diplomacy

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, one of the most notorious “wolf warrior diplomats.”

At a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Politburo study meeting held on the afternoon of May 31, Xi Jinping instructed his colleagues that they must “tell a good Chinese story,” “propagate the voice of China,” ensure that China has an “international voice” that matches its “comprehensive national power and international status,” “grasp the right tone,” “be modest and humble,” “pay attention to the strategy and art of the ‘public opinion struggle,’” and “make Chinese discourse more persuasive.” This seems to indicate that the Chinese government has realized that “wolf warrior diplomacy” has placed China in a more difficult state of affairs on the international scene.

Consequently, Xi Jinping wants to make certain adjustments to China’s so-called “wolf warrior diplomacy.” However, it was Xi Jinping himself who initiated China’s wolf warrior diplomacy. It originated from Xi’s concepts of the self-confidence of a great power,” the Chinese model,” the Chinese plan,” and a community with a shared future for mankind.” Moreover, it was Xi himself who bolstered the Chinese public’s sense of nationalism as part of a strategy to further consolidate his power and increase his prestige.

Read more at “Why China’s Wolf Warrior Diplomacy Is Here to Stay”

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Religious Books Burned

The Kunming religious books bonfire.

Totalitarian regimes have a thing for burning books, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) joyfully burn dissident books and destroys other material not approved of by the regime.

In the festive climate of the 100th anniversary year of the CCP, it is recommended that this is done in public ceremonies to “educate the masses.”

To explain how these modern auto-da-fés should be organized, a “pilot” book-burning and DVD destroying ceremony was organized by the Ministry of Public Security in Kunming, Yunnan province, on July 16, in two locations.

The aim was to show how to publicly destroy illegal religious material, in this case coming mostly from Falun Gong and The Church of Almighty God.

Read more at “Religious Books Publicly Burned, DVDs Bulldozed in Yunnan”

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Parallel Genocides

The connecting link? Chen Quanguo went from Tibet to Xinjiang as CCP Secretary.

Professor Robert Barnett of the London’s School of Oriental and African Studies and King’s College is one of the most eminent living Tibetologists. He published in the “Asia Unbound” blog of the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) a provocative article where he criticized those who claim that Tibetans are experiencing “similar abuses” to those vested on the Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim populations in Xinjiang. He mentioned in particular claims advanced by German researcher Dr. Adrian Zenz and by politicians and scholars connected with the Tibetan administration in exile, supported by some Western colleagues. Some Tibetan activists took exception to Barnett’s article, and one asked the CFR to publish his rebuttal.

The controversy has been discussed in several international media, and deserves some comments. First, it is important to clarify what Barnett did not say. He did not argue that Adrian Zenz is a partisan or unreliable researcher. On the contrary, Barnett wrote that Zenz “has done well-regarded work on Tibet and Xinjiang in the past. His more recent work has been attacked and abused by Chinese state media and others, including smears about his religious beliefs by a pro-Chinese denialist called Max Blumenthal, demonstrating a particularly ugly form of hypocrisy.”

Where, thus, is the disagreement? Barnett claims that, whatever the horror of the abuses vested on Tibetan nuns, monks, and laypersons, there is such a difference in “scale and degree” with what is happening in Xinjiang that equating the two situations is incorrect.

Read more at “Xinjiang and Tibet, Parallel Genocides Or Perhaps Not?”

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