This week in China’s media, former cyber czar Lu Wei, the man who for much of Xi Jinping’s first term as general secretary epitomized China’s new confidence in its policy of concerted control of cyberspace, finally appeared in court to face charges of corruption; a self-made online video streaming superstar was sentenced to detention for disrespecting China’s national anthem; and state media tried to downplay fears that the country’s private sector is in retreat.

 

THIS WEEK IN CHINA’S MEDIA
October 13-19, 2018

Case against former cyber czar Lu Wei appears in court, accused of accepting 32 million in bribes
Vice Premier Liu He voices support for role of private sector, Party media discuss non-public economy
Official media debate safety of GMO foods, as Science and Technology Daily accuses Heilongjiang Daily of incorrect reporting
➢ Live-streaming star given five-day administrative detention for disrespecting national anthem
➢ Sexual assault case against actor and television host Zhu Jun to be heard October 25

[1] Case against former cyber czar Lu Wei appears in court, accused of accepting 32 million in bribes

On October 19, the Intermediate People’s Court of Ningbo City in Zhejiang province began court proceedings in the case against Lu Wei (鲁炜), a former deputy minister of the Central Propaganda Department and China’s first cyber czar as head of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) from 2014 to 2016. During his tenure as director of the CAC, Lu fashioned an image as an unapologetic and even charismatic proponent of China’s aggressive internet control regime, saying in one speech to an international audience that a safe internet requires brakes just as safe cars require brakes.

According to the court, from 2002 through to the second half of 2017, Lu Wei abused his positions as a member of the Party committee at Xinhua News Agency, as propaganda minister of Beijing, and as head of the CAC and a deputy director of the State Council Information Office, to seek personal benefit, accepting bribes amounting to around 32 million yuan. According to reports from Xinhua News Agency, Lu Wei plead guilty to the allegations, and now awaits sentencing.

Lu Wei was deprived of his Party membership and official posts, a process known in Chinese as “shuangkai” (双开), in February 2018, and the language used against his by official state media was extraordinarily severe, suggesting that he was guilty of a long list of crimes, including “deceiving the Central Committee” (欺骗中央), “speaking idly of central Party policies” (妄议中央), “anonymously framing others” (匿名诬告他人), “interfering in inspections from the central Party” (干扰中央巡视), “vile moral conduct” (品行恶劣) and “engaging in factionalism” (拉帮结派).

Key Chinese Sources: 
WeChat public account “Zhejiang Tianping” (微信公众号”浙江天平”): 中共中央宣传部原副部长鲁炜受贿案一审开庭
WeChat public account “Political Awareness Circle” (微信公众号”政知圈”): “不论如何判都认罪”的他, 落马后中央曾下发文件

[2] Vice Premier Liu He voices support for role of private sector, Party media discuss non-public economy (非公经济)

In a joint interview with the official People’s Daily newspaper, Xinhua News Agency and China Central Television appearing on October 19, Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He (刘鹤) responded to recent turbulence in Chinese share markets and and other fears about general economic weakness, including concern that the private sector was struggling in the midst of deeper economic weakness while the state sector was advancing, a phenomenon referred to in Chinese as guojin mintui (国进民退).

It was also reported that on October 17 Liu He had chaired a so-called “leading group conference” on the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, where the key role of SMEs in China’s overall economic development was again affirmed.

These moves in the state media seem to be a concerted effort to stem fears that tougher times are ahead for private business in China, a debate that has simmered online over the past few months. On September 11, a post by Wu Xiaoping (吴小平), a finance expert and web entrepreneur, suggested that “China’s private sector has already done its job in aiding the development of the state economy, and it should now leave the stage” (中国私营经济已完成协助公有经济发展的任务, 应逐渐离场). 

Key Chinese Sources:
Xinhua Online (新华网): 中共中央政治局委员、国务院副总理刘鹤就当前经济金融热点问题接受采访
People’s Daily (人民日报): 中共中央政治局委员、国务院副总理刘鹤接受采访——谈当前经济金融热点问题
Gov.cn (中国政府网): 刘鹤主持召开国务院促进中小企业发展工作领导小组第二次会议
Economic Daily (经济日报): 国企“接盘”民企并非“国进民退”
Beijing Daily (北京日报): 不能把国企规则简单照搬到非公企业上——兼谈当前应如何正确认识非公经济

[3] Official media debate safety of GMO foods, as Science and Technology Daily accuses Heilongjiang Daily of incorrect reporting

On October 19, the Science and Technology Daily (科技日报), a paper published by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, ran a report alleging that a page-seven story running the previous day in Heilongjiang Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Party committee in Heilongjiang province, had made “serious errors” in reporting on the safety of genetically modified foods. The October 18 report had suggested that some GMO foods already approved for release onto the market were unsafe.

Heilongjiang Daily runs report suggesting GMO foods are unsafe.

The Science and Technology Daily rebuttal of the Heilongjiang Daily report quoted a number of prominent experts by name (in a media environment often rife with anonymous sourcing), including Yang Xiaoguang (杨晓光) and Jiang Tao (姜韬), both researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and emphasized that approved GMO foods were safe and that “the consensus in the scientific community is that no evidence can be found to substantiate the claim that GMO foods are harmful to the human body.” Among the criticisms in the Science and Technology Daily piece, Lin Min (林敏), the director of the Biotechnology Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, accused one of the key sources in the Heilongjiang Daily story, Wang Xiaoyu (王小语), the deputy secretary of the Heilongjiang Soybean Association, of seeking to openly discredit GMO foods in order to protect the traditional soybean industry in the province. Wang Xiaoyu’s remarks, said Lin Min, went against the policies of the central government in supporting GMO food development.

Key Chinese Sources:
Science and Technology Daily (科技日报): 《黑龙江日报》非转基因大豆报道严重失实
Heilongjiang Daily (黑龙江日报): 非转基因大豆的坚守者——访原黑龙江省大豆协会副秘书长王小语

[4] Live-streaming star given five-day administrative detention for disrespecting national anthem

According to a post made to the official Weibo account of the Shanghai Public Security Bureau on October 13, a video streaming host on the video streaming platform Huya identified with as “Yang Mouli” (杨某莉) — using an anonymous Jane-Doe character to replace the middle character of the name — was given a five-day administrative detention by police in Shanghai’s Jing’an District, accused of using her own version of China’s national anthem as the music in the opening sequence of her online broadcast and treating the tune without the appropriate level of seriousness and respect. The police cited in their notice the new National Anthem Law of the People’s Republic of China (中华人民共和国国歌法). It was quickly revealed that the streaming host was Yang Kaili, a 21 year-old self-made star with more than 44 million followers on the Huya platform.

Key Chinese Sources: 
The Paper (澎湃新闻网):【雷热点】上海警方依法行政拘留侮辱国歌的网红女主播

[5] Sexual assault case against actor and television host Zhu Jun to be heard October 25

On October 15, Chinese singer Zhang Xianzi (弦子) posted on her Weibo account that her sexual assault case against celebrity actor and television host Zhu Jun (朱军) would be heard in court in 10 days time, on October 25, and that her lawyer had already submitted a request that Zhu Jun appear personally in the courtroom to face questioning. She also revealed that her legal team had submitted a request to the Haiding Precinct of the Beijing Public Security Bureau that all records concerning the allegations against Zhu dating back to June 2014 be made available as evidence.

In August 2018, an account appeared online offering a detailed account of the sexual assault Zhang Xianzi, known generally to the public by her given name “Xianzi,” allegedly suffered while serving as an intern for Zhu Jun in June 2014. The account sparked fierce interest online, the latest in a wave of cases in China’s developing MeToo movement.

Key Chinese Sources: 
Weibo account “@ComradeMaiXiao (微博用户@麦烧同学): #弦子和麦烧的开庭日记#
Sina Online (新浪网): 朱军案10月25日开庭 当事人已申请朱军本人出庭
AND: 朱军性侵案25号开庭,朱军或被要求出庭,女方发文疑扭转局面!