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.

Xi Jinping, Constitutional Reformer

“Entering a New Era, Achieving New Acts.” This is the bright gold slogan emblazoned this week across the top of the official website of the People’s Daily — right over the top of an image of President Xi Jinping, identified as “the people’s leader,” or renmin lingxiu (人民领袖). Xi Jinping’s new act, the amendment of China’s Constitution to remove term limits on the country’s presidency, paving the way for his own indefinite period of rule, has been the subject of fevered discussion outside China. Inside China, the topic is virtually impossible to broach, unless privately and in person. The...

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Will China’s President Be Informed?

“To err is human,” Deng Yuwen, the former editor of Study Times, wrote in the South China Morning Post today. “And a leader who tolerates no checks on his power is even more likely to err, because power can make one arrogant and impervious to other views.” As the National People’s Congress opens tomorrow, one crucial focus will be a proposed change to China’s Constitution removing term limits for the presidency. As many commentators have warned this week, such a change would pave the way for Xi Jinping to rule for an indefinite period, and would undo a key political...

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Li Datong’s Open Letter

The following open letter was posted to WeChat on February 26, 2018, by Li Datong (李大同), the former top editor of Freezing Point, a respected supplement of the China Youth Daily newspaper.  The letter has been one of the most prominent voices of criticism in the wake of the announcement that China would eliminate term limits for the president and vice-president, paving the way for Xi Jinping to serve beyond the end of his current term in 2023.  To: Xu Tao (徐韬), Ren Ming (任鸣), Yang Yuanqing (杨元庆), Chen Jining (陈吉宁) and the rest of the 55 Beijing delegates...

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Goodbye Republic

As Xi Jinping's "New Era" ushers China back into the authoritarian past, paving the way for the Putinesque removal of term limits for the president and vice-president, there is so much to say. But the thing about such atavistic acts is that we have reflected on them before. We have been there. We have done that. And so, without further ado, I share a translation of a piece written back in 1980, almost two years before presidential term limits were put in place in China's 1982 Constitution. The piece, written by Yan Jiaqi (严家其), the former political advisor to Premier...

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China’s Race Against History

There has been a burst of commentary over the past few days about the overtly racist Africa skit that aired during the official Spring Festival Gala last week on China Central Television. I won’t recap the arguments here, except to note that we don’t need to read intent to appreciate the very real racist impact of a Chinese actress wearing blackface and butt padding to portray an African mother figure. Despite this well-intentioned argument, the link between racism and intentionality is a commonplace misunderstanding of the complex dynamics of racism. If we do look at the intent behind the Africa...

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Mobilizing for the “China Solution”

China’s comeback story is playing on repeat these days. According to this feel-good narrative, the country has returned to the center of the world stage after weathering two centuries of misfortune. And now, As Xi Jinping told fellow leaders last month, China faces an historic opportunity to contribute to the world (为世界作贡献). The model that empowered China’s restoration, newly encompassed by the grandiose notion of “Xi Jinping Thought,” “has the potential to correct and transform the existing world order.” The underlying idea here is that China’s unique system of leadership under the Chinese Communist Party has been tested, validated...

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