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.

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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The “Misguided Academics” of Europe

Over the weekend, the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi) and the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS), both based in Berlin, jointly released a report calling on European leaders to take more concerted action to deal with China’s efforts to exert political influence in Europe. “If Europe intends to stop the momentum of Chinese influencing efforts,” the report said, “it needs to act swiftly and decisively.” The report takes a fairly comprehensive look at Chinese influence tactics in Europe, outlining challenges in three “arenas”: 1. political and economic elites; 2. media and public opinion; and 3. civil society and academia....

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Sudden Change at the Top of CCTV

Chinese state media reported today that Shen Haixiong (慎海雄), chief of Guangdong’s provincial propaganda department, has been appointed as the new director of China Central Television, the state-run television network. Shen replaces Nie Chenxi (聂辰席), a former deputy director of China’s broadcast regulator, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, and vice minister in the Central Propaganda Department. According to The Paper, a publication based in Shanghai, the decision to appoint Shen as head of CCTV was announced today at a network leadership meeting (领导干部会议) attended by officials from the Organization Department of the CCP and by senior propaganda department leaders....

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