David Bandurski

David is co-director of the China Media Project, and editor of the project’s website. He is the author of Dragons in Diamond Village (Penguin), a book of reportage about urbanisation and social activism in China, and co-editor of Investigative Journalism in China (HKU Press). His writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Wall Street Journal, Index on Censorship, the South China Morning Post and others. He received a Human Rights Press Award in 2007 for an explanatory feature about China’s Internet censorship guidelines. David is a producer of Chinese independent films through his Hong Kong production company, Lantern Films. He has a Master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Mr. Bandurski is an honorary lecturer at the Journalism & Media Studies Centre at the University of Hong Kong.

No Smooth Sailing for Comments on China-US Trade

The headlines on Sunday declared that China and the United States had agreed to pull back from a trade war and call an end to a round of escalating tariffs. The announcement followed a mission to Washington by Chinese vice-premier Liu He (刘鹤), a seasoned politician who is also known in China as one of the country’s top economists. Details of the negotiations and the agreed-upon measures were as yet unclear, but there were reports that China had pledged to purchase more American goods and services, including agriculture and energy, in order to offset the trade imbalance. As the news trickled back...

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Building the Party’s Internet

In a ceremony in Beijing earlier this week, the director of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), Xu Lin (徐麟), presided over the inauguration of the China Federation of Internet Societies (CFIS), a broad internet industry grouping whose stated purpose is to “promote the development of Party organizations in the industry.” The federation’s establishment is a clear sign of the growing involvement of the Chinese Communist Party in private internet firms, and further reflection of the broader trend of closer Party governance and scrutiny of all forms of media. Prominent industry leaders, including Tencent chairman Pony Ma, Alibaba’s founder Jack...

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The Revolution China Intends to Lead

Trade talks between China and the United States last week ended abruptly and with no discernible progress. Technology was one of the key sticking points, with the US pressing China to put a stop to state subsidies for technology firms under its “Made in China 2025” plan — a blueprint for establishing Chinese domination of advanced industries currently in development, what Axios recently called “the 10 biggest technologies of the future.” But if we understand how the Chinese Communist Party perceives the need to secure the technologies of the future through the lens of the past, we can better understand just how much it has invested in the idea of Chinese dominance — and how difficult it likely will be to arrive at a compromise of the kind Trump’s negotiators are hoping for. The following text is a very partial translation of a piece appearing yesterday on page 11 in China’s Guangming Daily, a newspaper published by the Central Propaganda Department. The piece, which was also posted at People’s Daily Online and other sites, was written by Zhi Zhenfeng (支振锋), a researcher in the Socialism With Chinese Characteristics Theoretical System Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. We translate the opening of the piece just to offer a taste of the official rhetoric surrounding China’s technological advancement and its link both to long-term national development and to...

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Tech Firms Tilt Toward the Party

In the New York Times today, Raymond Zhong and Paul Mozur write about how China risks spoiling its innovative technology sector through increasingly heavy-handed intervention. While China has in recent years “defied the truism that only free and open societies can innovate,” they write, the country’s “tilt toward strongman rule” under Xi Jinping could put that reputation at risk. Private technology firms in China are being drawn closer to the Chinese Communist Party across a range of technological development initiatives — from self-driving cars to social credit scoring, from voice and facial recognition to satellite navigation. At the same...

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Tech Shame in the “New Era”

When does a corporate apology become a political self-confession, or jiantao (检讨), an act of submission not to social mores and concerns, but to those in power? The line can certainly blur in China. But the public apology today from Zhang Yiming (张一鸣), the founder and CEO of one of China’s leading tech-based news and information platforms, crosses deep into the territory of political abjection. Zhang’s apology, posted to WeChat at around 4 AM Beijing time, addressed recent criticism aired through the state-run China Central Television and other official media of Jinri Toutiao, or “Toutiao” — a platform for content...

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Sunset for China’s “Sunshine Boy”

Zhou Xiaoping’s praise for Xi Jinping was never faint, but his enthusiasm may have damned him nonetheless. The young internet writer, once praised by state-run Chinese media as a great disseminator of “positive energy,” or zhengnengliang (正能量), through his professions of love for China and a profound sense of grievance directed toward the West, seems now to be fading into the wings. A report on March 22 noted in an otherwise unremarkable account of the minutes of a conference of the Sichuan Online Writers Association held the previous day that “[the] conference accepted Comrade Zhou Xiaoping’s resignation as chairman of the...

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