Friday, December 1, 2023

Internet Censorship on the First Anniversary of the White Paper Movement

The White Paper Revolution, also known as the White Paper Movement, A4 Revolution, Blank Paper Protests, was a series of protests that occurred across China in November 2022. Protesters used blank sheets of paper as a form of silent protest to symbolize the government's censorship and suppression of free speech, and chanted slogans such as "End zero-COVID," "We want human rights," and "Down with the Communist Party!"Several factors contributed to the rise of the White Paper Revolution:

  • Frustration with the zero-COVID policy: The policy's strict measures, including mass lockdowns, travel restrictions, and mandatory quarantines, had caused significant economic disruption and social unrest. Many people felt that the policy was no longer sustainable and that the government was prioritizing control over people's well-being.
  • Anger over the Xinjiang fire: The protests were further fueled by a deadly fire that occurred in Urumqi, Xinjiang, on November 24, 2022. Ten people died in the fire, which many blamed on the lockdown restrictions that prevented residents from escaping the blaze. The incident sparked public outrage and reignited long-standing grievances about the government's treatment of minorities, particularly Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
  • Erosion of civil liberties: The Chinese government's tightening grip on dissent and freedom of expression in recent years also played a role in the protests. Many young people felt increasingly disillusioned with the political system and saw the protests as an opportunity to demand change.

These screenshots were taken in the morning on November 28, 2022 and show Tencent-owned Sogou and Qihoo, were censoring "White Paper Revolution" (白纸革命) and "White Paper Protests" (白纸抗议).

At that time Baidu's censorship was initially harder to spot, so I've annotated these screenshots so its easy to see: these screenshots were taken on November 28, 2022, and shows Baidu was restricting results for "White Paper Revolution" (白纸革命) to government and Party operated websites. "Black Paper Revolution" returns many more results from more diverse sources.

This screenshot shows by December 7 Baidu was completely censoring results for "White Paper Revolution" (白纸革命).

The following screenshots show how PRC websites were continuing, and in some cases increasing, censorship of this topic one year later.

Screenshots taken on December 1, 2023, showing Sogou and Qihoo were completely censoring search results for White Paper Protest, Movement, and Revolution.

Screenshots showing that in the year since the White Paper Movement Baidu went from restricting search results for that phrase to government and Party operated websites in 2022 to completely censoring search results in 2023.

Screenshot taken on December 1, 2023 showing Sina Weibo censoring searches for the hashtag "White Paper."

In the face of this extreme censorship, some Internet users in China nevertheless attempted to commemorate the anniversary online, as shown by these comments that, as of December 1, 2023, had not been censored by Baidu's Tieba (PostBar) forum operators.

Additional Information

Monday, November 27, 2023

Xu Zhiyong's Statement at His Final Appeal

 On November 24, 2023, former PRC civil rights lawyer Teng Biao posted the following statement:

In the cases of lawyers #Xuzhiyong and #Dingjiaxi, the Shandong High Court just announced its second-instance judgment, rejecting the appeal and upholding the original judgment. 14 years for Xu and the 12 years for Ding. 

The Council of the Bar Associations in Europe (CCBE) awarded this year’s Human Rights Award to imprisoned human rights lawyers Zou Xingtong, Xu Zhiyong, and Ding Jiaxi. 

Two days from now it will also be the first anniversary of the White Paper Movement.

Dr. Xu Zhiyong said loudly when he arrived at the court that it was almost dawn and the Communist Party only had a few days left. After that he was restrained.
When the judge read out the ruling, Dr. Xu said: Ridiculous!
He also knew he had won the European Bar Association’s Human Rights Award.

#许志永 和 #丁家喜 律师案,山东高院刚刚二审宣判,驳回上诉,维持原判。许14年,丁12年。


Ding Jiaxi's wife wrote that the judgment was subject to a confidentiality agreement, and was not provided to the family (判决书受制于保密协议,不得交给家属).


The same day the following statement was posted on the China Citizens Movement website (English translation mine):

Whither China? —Xu Zhiyong’s Appeal

Published on November 24, 2023 Editor Ling Jiangfeng

You judge us, and the people judge you. The actual appeal is not to the humble Shandong High Court, but to the people and to history. After the epidemic, with the world's economies booming, why are China's industries struggling? After a short rebound, consumption is shrinking, investment is weak, exports are in decline, employment is dire. What is root cause of this exhausting economic crisis? Where is the way out?

The root cause lies in the decade's reversal and collapse of national confidence.

Economic issues are, in essence, political issues.

Advance the State, diminish the people. State-owned enterprises are made bigger and stronger, the living space for private enterprises is made smaller, high-tech private enterprises are made state-owned, and outstanding private entrepreneurs are retired. Everywhere bureaucratic capital and one dominant family compete with the people for profits. Resources, energy, communications, electricity, and even tourism and travel are all profitable industries with state-owned enterprises. Bureaucratic capital dominates and competes with the people for profits. They keep claiming fair competition, but the ideology of the Communist Party is to eliminate private ownership. They keep saying that all subjects are equal, but without democracy, how can officials and citizens be equal?

Distort the market. There are high subsidies for electric vehicles and relentless promotion of 5G communications, the authorities lead banks around by the nose and the stock market is manipulated to death by black hands. The hand of power can do whatever it wants, so where does the market play a decisive role?

Deplete the people's energy. Monopolize land, riase housing prices, and turn people into housing slaves. Monopolize oil, raise oil prices, and turn citizens into car slaves. A truck costs 1,000 yuan a day for gasoline and 1,000 yuan for tolls. Logistics costs are seldom seen in this world. There are central enterprises at the top and city investment at the bottom. The national economy and people's livelihood are monopolized are wielded as blood-sucking tools. How can the people consume when they are heavily in debt?

Make waste with haste. The financial crisis of 4 trillion yuan in 2008 came at just the right time. If the market had been respected and the society had been opened, China's economic growth rate would have been degraded, but more sustainable, until it became a developed country. But economic growth is the only basis for the legitimacy of the Communist Party of China. If you care too much about GDP figures, high-speed rail, highways, and cross-sea bridges, no matter how redundant they are, and no matter how valuable they are, they far exceed 4 trillion yuan every year. Fifteen years of destructive efforts have hollowed out China with fiscal overdrafts and bank deficits, which have been passed on to the people, leaving China heavily in debt.

Three years of prevention and control. On New Year's Day 2020, CCTV refuted the rumors eight times a day. The totalitarian system successfully blocked the news, causing the epidemic to spread globally. Once again its the totalitarian system, and with a single order cities, villages, and countries were sealed off. At first, the overreaction was understandable, but half a year later, the global mortality rate was very low, and the world economy began to recover. Why did it take three years for China to get the message? Such is the curse of dictatorship. Thousands of companies have closed down and hundreds of millions of people have become unemployed, leading to a full-blown crisis today. God willing, the novel corona virus has dealt the final blow to the communist totalitarianism.

When all is said and done, there are no restrictions and power is arbitrary. If Hitler had lived forty more years, his empire would have declined and perished, which is the inevitable fate of a totalitarian system.

The fundamental problem is one of direction.

Through reform and opening up, China has emerged from the abyss of a publicly owned planned economy and moved in the direction of a modern civilization, private property rights, and a free market, bringing about more than thirty years of prosperity and progress. But in the past ten years, we have gone against the grain, holding high Marx, and following the example of Kim Jong Un. The people are confused and their confidence has collapsed.

Where is China going? Is it a market economy or a planned economy? Is it democracy and freedom or dictatorship? Is it the United States or North Korea? Is it a broad road or a cliff? Should we thrive with the tide or perish against it?

China has a clear future with true democracy, multi-party competition, universal suffrage, independent judiciary, and freedom of speech. In a true market economy, private property rights are the main body, and the market determines resource allocation. It is a universal trend of human civilization, and China cannot be an exception.

Of course China has its own characteristics, this is a fact common to every nation. The United States has a president, Japan has an emperor, and India has a prime minister. However, the four fundamental principles of the democratic system are everywhere the same. Democracy does not distinguish between doctrines, between East and West, only between truth and falsehood. There is competition among multiple parties and the people have choices. This is true democracy. One candidate getting 100% of the votes is fake democracy. What we oppose is not so-called socialist democracy, but fake democracy. What we pursue is not so-called capitalist democracy, but true democracy.

The modern civilization of the Chinese nation is by no means a combination of Marxism-Leninism and imperial power, or Western dross contaminating Chinese dross. Rather, it is scientific democracy supported by benevolence, justice, propriety, trustworthiness, and Western civilization complementing Chinese civilization. After the end of autocracy, a China that is free and democratic with 1.4 billion people will burst out with passion and vitality, creating the most advanced technology, the most prosperous economy, and the most splendid culture in the world. A glorious China will lead a new era of human civilization.

Originally, they had the right direction, privatizing state-owned enterprises that competed with the people, gradually withdrawing their power over the market and opening up democratic elections. The general direction was correct, and the people  regained hope and confidence.

Twenty years ago, I made sincere suggestions, and ten years ago, I spoke out loudly. But it seems that China is going further and further in the wrong direction. Advocating for people to conduct themselves as true citizens is punished with severe sentences, and calling for active participation in the election of National People's Congress deputies can also be used as evidence of guilt. All democratic sprouts have been strangled, and all room for improvement has been blocked. Their destiny and role is to be the last generation of totalitarianism, and no one can stop them from running towards the cliff.

Economic collapse. State-owned enterprises have monopolized people's livelihood, distorted the market with the help of power, and drained the national treasury. The Xiongan New Area is riding a tiger, and the Belt and Road Initiative has yielded no gains. Three years of harsh epidemic prevention and control and a series of major and continuous wrong decisions have led to economic collapse. But they could not help themselves, and continued to make waste in their haste and  and to quench their thirst with poison.

Political regression. Village-level democracy has been reduced to a Party monopoly, separation between the government and the Party has been reduced to comprehensive Party leadership, and collective leadership has been reduced to a one-man dictatorship. Political regression has been comprehensive, totalitarianism continues to expand, stability maintenance continues to swell, and these mountains are crushing China.

Cultural decay. Cultural prosperity is not about digging ancient tombs and building monuments, but about creating splendid culture to share with mankind. Freedom is the lifeblood of culture. The Communist Party regards freedom as its enemy. Once upon a time, this Western evil spirit took as its mission the destruction of Chinese culture, destroying the mausoleum of Emperor Yan, digging up the tomb of Confucius and disinterring China's ancestors. Nowadays, its layers of censorship are like a dismemberment, and film, television, art, and culture are on the verge of death.

Societal suffocation. There can be no self-confidence without democratic elections. The closer you come to the end of the line, the more sensitive you become, the more taboos you have. Actors, Internet celebrities, writers, singers, etc. are all blocked for the slightest infractions. Everyone lives in fear, like a thousands of horses standing lifeless and mute, and the Chinese nation is gradually losing its vitality to the point that it is practically a zombie.

Marxism elevated. A ghost, a ghost wandering aimlessly through Europe, a virulent infectious disease, was transmitted to China through Soviet Russia, bringing with it a huge tragedy of more than 30 million people starving to death, and a decade of catastrophe that destroyed Chinese culture. In the twentieth century it brought unprecedented disasters to mankind, and it still brings endless slavery, famine and suffering to the North Korean people. Is it possible for a dystopian doctrine, a doctrine of total failure, to be held up as a model for all mankind?

Those who were born from the Cultural Revolution are now obsessed with a return to the Cultural Revolution. Woe to China!

The Constitution amended. Can anyone be so virtuous as to be a dictator for life? The fate of the country and the nation depends upon a single person, and the sages are still worried, so what is wrong with this blockhead? In the past, there were changes of leadership every ten years, and even though it was a single party, there remained a glimmer of hope. Now there is endless darkness and complete despair. One person's dictatorship has reversed course for ten years, causing hundreds of industries to wither and become trapped in innumerable difficulties. The evil spirit of Marxism-Leninism has poisoned China and gone against the tide of the times, making people resentful and angry. An emperor has once again ascended the throne, and the sky is filled with yellow sand. Hebei, Beijing, and Tianjin are in hot water, suppressing all efforts and oppressing people's livelihoods. All under heaven is confusion and worry, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. The country is misled by a dictator, such is the peril facing China!

China needs a revolution.

Revolution in China is inevitable. Only revolution can destroy autocracy, only revolution can save China, only revolution can bring democracy and freedom, only revolution can bring fairness and justice, only revolution can bring human dignity, and only revolution can bring the rebirth of China. Only when there is no Communist Party will there be a New China.

Not a violent revolution. If the people are unarmed, violence will hardly bear the fruits of freedom. When the communist regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe collapsed, there were no violent revolutions, only peaceful civil revolutions, without exception.

In August 1991, the conservative forces of the Soviet Communist Party launched a coup, and troops took to the streets of Moscow. However, there was no strongman in the ruling group, and the military hesitated and waited. Three days later, the Communist Party collapsed and the democrats won. At the last moment of the end of communist totalitarianism, the only mission and role of the military was to wait and see.

Revolutions are fueled by anger. But the color of the raging flames is not hatred but love. Drive out the evil spirit of Marxism and Lenin, save our Chinese compatriots, redeem every Chinese, do not hate any individual, do not attack others, do not destroy property, and do not give excuses for brutal violence and suppression. The greater power is ours, and it is not hate, but love.

China will not fall apart. The provinces in the mainland are highly integrated and have a deep-rooted national identity, but some border areas have deep grievances. During the transformation, our philosophy is clear and firm: freedom is the direction, and all regions will have democratic autonomy. Justice must be defended and no violence will be allowed. Negotiate the future peacefully and heal wounds with love.

China will not become turbulent and disorderly. Soviet Russia was undergoing political transformation, and its economy and society were unprepared. China has had a market economy for 40 years and has gradually matured forces yearning for freedom and democracy. Massive rallies and marches will assemble, the Communist Party will disappear, and within a few months a referendum and a constitutional election will be held.

The 1989 Tiananmen democracy movement failed. At that time, the ruling group had a charismatic strongman, and the vast majority of the military obeyed. The democrats had no leader, and lacked direction and rhythm. The international community still has hope for China's reform and opening up. Social conditions are not yet mature, as the people can still share the dividends of reform and opening up.

Today, there is no strongman in the ruling group. At this turning point in history, soldiers will hesitate and wait and see. Should they follow him? It will be sufficient to remain on the sidelines. The democrats have a mature leadership team, a clear direction, and a feasible path. The international community has clearly seen the nature of the CPC, and the Cold War has resumed. Social conditions have matured. In these last days of totalitarianism there is depression, unemployment, poverty, despair, people's resentment is boiling, and the tinder lies everywhere. No one knows when, where ,or which spark will ignite the revolution, but that spark will definitely appear.

My compatriots, the dawn in the east is about to break through the sky, the earth's fire is rushing, and the lava is gathering. China will not perish in silence, but will explode from silence.

The most precious thing is courage.

The courage to tell the truth, the courage to defend freedom, the courage to go to jail, the courage to take to the streets.

Thanks to the lone brave man Peng Lifa for coming forward. In the darkest hour before the dawn, the smoke column on the Sitong Bridge was a dazzling light. Thousands of citizens have been awakened, and you never were, and never will be, alone.

Thank you young students. Thirty-three years later, the Chinese nation has heard your cry again. Upon the white paper you held up will eventually be written a vast history. To the girl holding a sign at the door of the Peking University cafeteria, thank you. I am proud to have a classmate like you. Thirty-four years later, the Chinese nation is once again placing its hope in you. Peking University, your soul has returned!

Thank you to our democratic predecessors, from the Democracy Wall in 1979 to Tiananmen in 1989 and then to the Democratic Party in 1998. Generations of people with lofty ideals and benevolence hold high the banner of democracy and freedom. At that time, you needed more courage. Wei Jingsheng, Qin Yongmin, Liu Xianbin . . . serving out so many years in prison, paying such a price for China to be reborn? I'm honored to join you.

Thank you Christians. For decades, you have silently preached the love of Christ in this land of suffering, injustice, and anxiety. I once witnessed the prayers in the heavy snow at the entrance of Haidian Park when Shouwang Church was being persecuted. Both the Haotian God worshiped by the Chinese ancestors is like Jehovah, they are both the one true God of mankind.

Thank you to the practitioners of truthfulness, kindness, and patience. In December 2021, Mr. Liu Jinguo in the cell next to mine was shackled and fixed to the bed board for a month because of his hunger strike. For more than two decades, the suffering all of you have endured is shocking, but it has enriched the history of the Chinese nation.

Thank you to all those who fight for freedom, democracy, justice, and dignity. Under autocracy, no matter how humiliating it is, the majority remain silent. However, tens of thousands of brave Chinese people have still stood up and said no to power. Their posts were deleted, their accounts were blocked, and they were thrown into black jails, detained, and imprisoned. It is these brave people who have created the unyielding backbone of China.

Thank you to the citizens who have walked with me over the past twenty years. Have the courage to resist and the wisdom to build a glorious China of freedom, justice, and love. One day, every Chinese will become a true citizen and enjoy universal freedoms such as freedom of speech and the right to vote. That will be a China that truly belongs to the people, our lifelong dream and struggle.

My fellow citizens,

One hundred and twelve years ago, the Revolution of 1911 overthrew the Manchu Dynasty and established the Republic of China, Asia's first republic. Unfortunately, after decades of internal and external troubles, the Republic of China fell and autocracy returned. Another seventy years have passed. The political landscape of the world has been turned upside down. The tide of democracy has swept across the world, and dictatorial regimes have come to an end. Even Africa has had universal suffrage for many years. My ancestral land, however, remains under the dictatorship of one party and one man. It is this which is truly the Chinese nation's greatest shame.

The people of China live a life of suffocation.

There was a time when pots and pans were melted to make steel and the fields were left barren. During three years of good weather more than 30 million people died of starvation. Now this unprecedented famine is gently brushed away by the textbooks as "three years of natural disasters." During the great revolution in Chinese culture, countless cultural relics were destroyed. Ask for instructions in the morning and report in the evening, dance the loyalty dance, and raise loyalty pigs. Amid great terror, the whole country went insane.

There was a time when "unauthorized birth strike teams" roamed the land. When a woman was seven or eight months pregnant, a team of men would be forcibly pushed her to the ground and drag her to the backyard of the county hospital. They injected poison into the child's head. If the child was still alive after birth it was tossed into a nearby  large pot of boiling water. For forty years, thousands of Chinese mothers have watched their children being brutally killed, crying without tears and wailing silently.

The grave removal movement has arrived, and ancestral graves have been bulldozed, and the dead who have been laid to rest in their graves have been forcibly disinterred. Except for high-ranking officials, everyone's destination is a small half-meter square grid, densely packed and without dignity.

An environmental storm has arrived, and the coldest month of winter, heating stoves are forcibly dragged away. Thousands of private enterprises are ordered to close down. For those have spent most of their lives struggling and lose everything there is no recourse to the law.

The epidemic has arrived, and with one order they silenced the doctors and CCTV "refuted the rumors." The whole country was rendered speechless, and with another order cities, villages, and countries were locked down. Work, life, and dreams, everything was shattered by idiotic prohibitions.

Another order was given, and without any preparation, everyone was suddenly released. One billion people were unable to find medicine, and a long queue formed in front of the funeral parlor.

A plane crashes, and no one is qualified to know the truth, let alone reflect on it. There is a flood, and no one is qualified to know how many people lost their lives. If you want to donate to earthquake-stricken areas, you can only donate to a few government-run organizations such as the Cross Society, and you are not eligible to check the whereabouts of the donations. Discussing national affairs already leaves you on the verge of breaking the law. Praise the emperor's new clothes loudly, even though everyone knows that he has no clothes on. Facing unbearable injustice I sought to petition. I turned off my mobile phone and didn't take the train. I was like a guerrilla who snuck into the imperial capital, only to be caught in front of the National Bureau of Petitions and Calls.

People are political animals. We are not qualified, however, to live a normal human life, because without elections, the country does not belong to the people, but rather to the Communist Party. We are still on our knees with pigtails on the back of our heads. Even if in the past few years one could say that  we have been able to have just enough to eat to console ourselves like pigs, today even that proposition has become questionable. When will the time come when we no longer endure this?

What kind of China should we leave for future generations? Let them continue to kneel as slaves, or should we step forward bravely today?

This absurd nation, this shameful nation, this nation where power runs rampant, this nation where humanity is lost, this nation where the dictator is aloof and the people are as humble as ants, this nation of sadness, numbness, despair and sinking into the abyss of hell. This nation is my ancestral home. I will devote all my life to saving her, saving my Chinese nation, and ushering in the glorious rebirth of Chinese civilization.

The curtain has already opened on an era of greatness. In the darkest hour, dawn is approaching. When despair lies flat, passion must fly. This is our era, the era of citizens, the era of the people. Say goodbye to the ghost of communism, say goodbye to the millennium of autocracy, and welcome in the civil revolution. This is the most magnificent chapter in human history. Compatriots, are you ready?

Citizen Xu Zhiyong
August 2023 


发表于 2023年11月24日 编辑 凌江峰

























































公民 许志永
本文发布在 12.26公民案, 公民立场, 本站首发, 许志永. 收藏 永久链接.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

From the Archives: Censorship of "Civil Society"

Recently I've been reviewing my archives of screenshots illustrating Internet censorship in the PRC. I've got images going back to 2008, and one of the most interesting things to me is to find screenshots showing what was NOT being censored back then, but is being censored now. For example, the screenshot below  was taken on January 12, 2011, and shows that a search on Baidu for "Civil Society" (公民社会) returned results from a variety of sources including social media ( is Baidu's "PostBar" forum website) and overseas websites ( is the website of National Chengzhi University in Taiwan).

The following image was taken on November 14, 2023, and shows that the same search on Baidu now only returns results from a whitelist of websites under the direct control of the PRC central government and Communist Party. 

The following screenshot shows the same restricted results on the last page of Baidu's search results.

The following screenshot illustrates another interesting facet of Internet censorship in the PRC - it does not always strive for perfection. In the case of this query, it is possible to find results from non-Party/non-State controlled sources by adding the "site:" operator.

Baidu is not, however, willing to take any chances when it comes to censoring its own social media platforms. For example, the left screenshot was taken in 2011, and shows that at that time a search for "Civil Society" on Baidu's "Zhidao" Q&A platform returned many results. The right screenshot was taken in 2023 and shows the same search returns no results, just a notice saying "Sorry, no answers related to 'civil society' were found." (抱歉,没有找到与 “公民社会” 相关的回答。)

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Tencent's Weixin Censors 1980's People's Daily Article on Cult of Personality

On September 3, 2023, an article titled "People's Daily: Exaggerating the Personal Role of Leaders to an Extreme Level will Lead to Superstitious Belief in the Individual" (人民日报:把领袖个人的作用夸大到极端的程度,就会出现对个人的迷信) was posted on the "The Reading Drawer" (抽屉读书) public Weixin account. It was censored within 24 hours and replaced with a notice saying: "This content cannot be viewed due to violations. Complaints were made by users and audited by the platform. This involves the use of words, pictures, videos, etc. that exaggerated, seduced and violated objective facts to maliciously incite, confuse and mislead users. Check the corresponding rules."

I checked, and the Weixin article is a word-for-word copy paste of the referenced People's Daily article, which was published on Page 2 of the July 4, 1980 edition, according to the copy I found here: - with one exception, which I don't this is material:
  • Weixin Article: 马克思主义者承认个人权威,重视个人权威的,但是,我们首先要强调的还是集体的权威。
  • govopendata: 马克思主义者承认个人权威,重视个人权威的,但是,我们首先要强调的还是集体的权威。

The only other difference is the addition of the photo at the top of the Weixin article. Based on some online research, this is a photo of Nikita Khrushchev during his trip to the United States in 1959. 

Below are selected translations from the article (emphasis added by me).

Deification of, and superstitious belief in, the individual begins with exaggerating the role of the individual. Lin Biao and the "Gang of Four" engaged in modern superstition, not only taking advantage of people's simple feelings, but also taking advantage of these loopholes in people's understanding.

A Profound Lesson in Personal Deification

The communist movement and our own experience show that when the role of individual leaders is exaggerated to an extreme level, superstitious belief in individuals will emerge.

For many years, we have been accustomed to using superstition to explain the history of our struggles. Now, as Marx said, we should "use history to explain superstition." (The Complete Works of Marx and Engels, Vol. 1, p. 425) That is to say, we should take a look at history, how did a man become a "god"? How did people come to deify and superstitiously believe in individuals? In this way, the necessary lessons can be drawn. This is a rather complex and difficult task. Here are just a few examples, briefly.

. . . .

Our Party is organized according to the principle of democratic centralism. According to this principle, the Party line must be discussed and formulated by the Party's national congress or central authority. Although the Party's line is sometimes put forward by a certain person, once it is decided, it becomes the Party's line and cannot be attributed to an individual, it is called the line of so-and-so. Of course, when summing up historical experience, calling the opposing lines the lines of a certain person, and comparing and analyzing them will help distinguish right from wrong and educate the entire Party. But this is a special situation. From the perspective of organizational principles, within the Party, all Party members must implement the Party's line, rather than the entire Party following the line of a certain individual.

However, for a period of time, people have often attributed the Party's line to individuals, and also promoted all the opinions and propositions of individual leaders as lines, or believed that they have the same authority as the Party's line, and the whole Party must unconditionally implement it. In this way, in the life of the Party, in fact, some abnormal practices gradually took shape: obeying the Party's leadership means listening to a certain person, implementing the Party's line means doing what a certain person says, and thinking that as long as you act "in accordance with every sentence," you will be invincible. This actually regards the individual as a sacred authority over the entire Party.

. . . .

We must be highly conscious and take various measures to prevent the situation where the top leaders look down at the masses from above, while the masses can only squint and look up at the leader from below, so as to prevent the leader from becoming a figure that ordinary people cannot approach. The guidelines for political life within the Party passed by the Fifth Plenum of the Party Central Committee have made a series of specific regulations to prevent leaders from becoming special in their political life and from praising leaders without principle. This is undoubtedly necessary. However, in order to achieve what Lenin said, to make the leaders and the class, and the leaders and the masses form a whole, we still need to make efforts in many aspects and have a series of effective methods. For example, restore the system that our Party advocates that senior leading cadres must spend a certain amount of time at the grassroots level in a year; establish a system for leaders to communicate directly with the people; put senior leaders in fixed electoral districts to maintain regular contact with voters and accept voter supervision; cancel all kinds of unreasonable regulations that completely separate senior leaders from ordinary cadres and the masses in daily life (such as housing, transportation, shopping, entertainment, etc.); and we must use newspapers and radio to exert the supervisory power of public opinion, etc. In short, we should continue to adhere to the methods that have worked well in the past, and at the same time, we should continue to adopt some new methods based on new situations. 

. . . .

To gather the experience and opinions of the broad masses and the entire Party and form correct leadership ideas and opinions, it is necessary to adopt democratic centralism and collective research and discussion. The view that "the first secretary has absolute truth, the second secretary has relative truth, and the others have no truth" is not in line with the facts.

. . . .

Second, we must treat the right of one vote correctly. In the leadership team, the top leader has more responsibilities but no greater power. He has only one vote in deciding major issues, while other members have the same vote. Why do some leadership groups form a "one-man-talk" situation? The first is that the top leader lacks a democratic style and engages in personal arbitrariness. At the same time, it is also an important reason why each leading member cannot exercise his right to vote seriously and responsibly. If every leading member can responsibly exercise his right to one vote, especially when some people put forward wrong propositions, everyone can stick to the principles and not support or veto them, then can "one word" be achieved? Can personal arbitrariness prevail unimpeded? Can those wrong and confusing decisions be made easily? Therefore, every leading member must exercise his right to vote with the utmost solemnity when deciding major issues.

. . . .

Marxists must recognize and value individual authority, but the first thing we must emphasize is collective authority. Only when personal authority is combined with collective authority can it play its role better.




. . . .

. . . .
. . . .
. . . .
. . . .


Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Science with PRC Characteristics: CAS Academics Must "Toe Party Line"

 On September 6, 2023, the state sponsored media outlet Caixin published an article titled "China’s Top Academics Told to Toe Party Line With Public Statements."

Some excerpts:

China’s top science academy has updated its code of conduct with new rules that require members ensure their public statements are “in line with the general policy of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China” and prohibit openly expressing academic views unrelated to their field of expertise.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) code of conduct, which consists of 33 articles in six chapters, is an update of a version released nine years ago.
. . . .
Compared to the 2014 version, the latest code adds a chapter that specifies what CAS scientists are prohibited from doing.
Specifically, the new version the Chinese Academy of Sciences Code of Conduct (中国科学院院士行为规范(试行)) contains the following provisions:

Article 2: Abide by the Constitution, laws and regulations, improve political standing, enhance awareness of responsibility, respect moral integrity, model love of the Party and love of country, and be an example for scientific researchers.

Article 3: Set an example of cherishing the fatherland and serving the people. To improve our country's independent innovation capabilities, enhance our country's comprehensive national strength, promote our country's scientific and technological progress, economic development, ecological protection, and improvement of people's livelihood, and serve national security and national decision-making.

Article 19 Consciously accept social supervision and correctly address doubts and criticisms. When making public statements, be consistent with the major policies of the Party Central Committee.

第二条 遵守宪法和法律法规,提高政治站位,增强责任意识,尊崇道德操守,做爱党爱国的模范和科研人员的榜样。

第三条 做胸怀祖国、服务人民的表率。为提高我国自主创新能力,增强我国综合国力,推动我国科技进步、经济发展、生态保护、民生改善,服务国家安全和国家决策作出贡献。

第十九条  按规定出席评审会议,超脱部门、单位和学科的利益,郑重负责地履行选举权利。关注新兴和交叉学科的发展,注意学科平衡。

The previous version of the Code of Conduct (available here: did not contain any mention of the terms "Party" (党), "fatherland" (祖国), "national security" (国家安全) or "love the country" (爱国).

Friday, September 8, 2023

Academics Criticise Proposed Public Security Administrative Punishments Law Revisions

 As noted previously on this blog, in early Septmber 2023, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress solicited public comment on proposed revisions to the Public Security Administrative Punishments Law through September 30, 2023. One of the most drastic proposals was the addition of a new Article 34:

Anyone who commits any of the following acts shall be detained for not less than five days but not more than ten days, or fined not less than 1,000 yuan but not more than 3,000 yuan; if the circumstances are relatively serious, they shall be detained for not less than ten days but not more than fifteen days, and may also be fined not more than 5,000 yuan:

(1) Engaging in activities in public venues that damage the environment and atmosphere of commemorating heroes and martyrs;

(2) Wearing or adorning, or forcing others to wear or adorn, clothing or symbols in public venues that are detrimental to the spirit of the Chinese nation or hurt the feelings of the Chinese nation;

(3) Producing, spreading, advocating, or disseminating articles or remarks that are detrimental to the spirit of the Chinese nation or hurt the feelings of the Chinese nation;

(4) Blaspheming or repudiating the deeds and spirit of heroes and martyrs, advocating or beautifying aggressive wars and acts of aggression, disturbing the peace, and disrupting public order;

(5) Insulting, defaming, or otherwise infringing on the names, likenesses, reputation and honor of heroes and martyrs, harming the public interest of society;

(6) Occupying, destroying, or defacing memorial facilities for heroes and martyrs.

On September 6, several PRC academics published statements criticizing Article 34.

Tong Zhiwei (童之伟), Professor of Constitutional Law, East China University of Political Science and Law

It is recommended that paragraphs 2-3 of Article 34 of the "Public Security Management Punishment Law" (revised draft) not be reviewed for the time being. Who determines what is the "spirit of the Chinese nation" and what procedures are followed? Who determines what are the "feelings of the Chinese nation" and what procedures are followed to recognize and determine it? These are huge problems that are almost impossible to implement in accordance with the principles of the rule of law. If the National People's Congress Standing Committee adopts this article according to the current draft, the practical consequence of its enforcement and adjudication will inevitably be the arrest and conviction of people in accordance with the will of senior officers, which will lead to untold troubles. The law is something that regulates human behavior, and scientific legislation requires legislators to always avoid making regulations on matters of "spirit" and "feelings."



Lao Dongyan (劳东燕), Professor of Criminal Law, Tsinghua University 

A few days ago, I saw the content stipulated in Article 34 of the "Public Security Management Punishments Law (Revised Draft)". To be honest, I couldn't believe it. Today I went to the National People's Congress website to check the content of the draft, and I found out that it was indeed true. The draft is currently in the stage of soliciting opinions, and comments can be submitted on the "Draft Law Soliciting Opinions" column of the People's Congress website (

Regarding the provisions of Items 2-3 of Article 34, I hold an objection and suggest that they be deleted. The main reasons are:

First, "harming the spirit of the Chinese nation and hurting the feelings of the Chinese nation" is a concept with extremely vague connotations. Different people will have completely different understandings and grasps. If it is used as a legal penalty standard, the problem will be the penalty standard will inevitably be too vague, which can easily lead to arbitrary expansion of the scope of administrative penalties.

Second, due to the ambiguity of punishment standards, it will inevitably lead to selective enforcement of administrative power, which is prone to abuse of power, thus creating a new space for the breeding of corruption, and may intensify conflicts between the police and the public, bringing new risks to social stability.

Third, state power will directly interfere in area of daily clothing of individual citizens, which raises  the obvious suspicion that there will be excessive intervention. National spirit and national feelings are matters at the cultural and spiritual level. The State can advocate them, but they should not be promoted through legal coercion.

Fourth, such legislative provisions may stimulate the wanton spread of populism or extreme nationalism, further deteriorate the public opinion environment in the public sphere, and unduly suppress the freedom of individuals to dress and speak in their daily lives. At the same time, it may also intensify antagonism with some countries, leading to diplomatic passivity.







Zhao Hong (赵宏), Professor at China University of Political Science and Law

An expansion of the scope of punishable offenses also means an expansion of the authority of the public security agencies. The law must establish corresponding restraint mechanisms for this expansion of authority, otherwise the crackdown on and suppression of emerging illegal activities is likely to breed unconstrained and uncontrolled powers.

The modern rule of law has never advocated a doctrine of creating felonies in the pursuit order and unity through heavy punishment. On the contrary, it is always vigilant against the expansion of state power. Expanding the scope of punishable offenses under the Public Security Administration Punishments Law, the most punitive departmental law in the administrative field, must be approached with caution. It is necessary to clearly delineate the areas that require the intervention of the State's power to punish, and to avoid blurring the boundaries between law and morality.
. . . .
The newly added Article 34 inevitably brings to mind the precedent of a girl in Suzhou last year who accused of disturbing the peace by wearing a kimono. In that case, the individual was reprimanded by the police for wearing a kimono and taking photos in a Japanese-style street in Suzhou. After the individual expressed doubts, the police took her to the police station for investigation on suspicion of disturbing the peace. In the end, the party involved was not punished, but after the case was exposed it still had a relatively adverse social impact. Many Internet users commented that if taking pictures in a kimono can be understood as something damaging to the national spirit that should be punished by the police, then eating Japanese food, watching anime, or even learning the Japanese language will most likely be considered to offend national sentiments. If public officials can expand the interpretation and application of laws at will based on their personal preferences and ideas and creeds, then we are not far away from the situation where "if the authorities want to punish someone, they can always find grounds to frame them."


. . . .


Saturday, September 2, 2023

Proposed Revisions to the Public Security Administrative Punishments Law and Their Impact on Freedom of Speech

Based on my research in compiling "State Prosecutions of Speech in the People's Republic of China" (, three of the six offenses commonly employed by the PRC government to prosecute speech appear in the Public Security Administrative Punishments Law (治安管理处罚法). They are:

Article 25 (Disrupting Public Order by Disseminating Rumors). Example: In 2015, a court held the police did not violate Zhang Guanghong's rights when they jailed him for seven days and confiscated his computer on the grounds that he "used his own Sina Weibo to spread rumors and posts about the 'Five Heroes of Wolf Tooth Mountain' and distorted the image of those revolutionary martyrs." See "State Prosecutions," pp. 540-546.

Article 26 (Other Acts Disturbing the Peace). Example: In 2018, court found that police did not violate Feng Zhouguan's rights by subjecting him to five days administrative detention for referring to Xi Jinping as "fat pig," "steamed bun," and "spendthrift" in WeChat posts. The court rejected Feng's claim that "If the country's leader or his appointed attorneys want to play at litigation with [Feng] then [the police] should maintain a neutral stance because the [police] are agents of the country's judiciary." See "State Prosecutions," pp. 426-435.

Article 42 (Flagrantly Insulting or Concocting Facts to Defame Another Party). Example: In 2014, a court found that police did not violate Cheng Huaishan's rights when they subjected him to administrative detention for a single QQ post that the police decided "flagrantly humiliated leaders of the Party and the State" including Xi Jinping and other members of the Politburo Standing Committee. The court acknowledged that Cheng's post did not explicitly name any State leader, but "nevertheless included content that was clearly insulting and defamatory, and its target was both specific and unique, and based on the timing of the post and the related content, it was entirely obvious who it was about." See "State Prosecutions," pp. 416-420.

The Public Security Administrative Punishments Law is also used to punish individuals for using VPNs to access websites that the PRC government blocks using the Great Firewall. For examples, see "State Prosecutions," Chapter 16, pp. 641-643.

On September 1, 2023, the NPC Observer published an article ( stating that the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) is soliciting public comment on proposed revisions to the Public Security Administrative Punishments Law through September 30, 2023. That announcement included a link to a PDF outlining the proposed revisions:

In the table below I've pulled out the provisions that could potentially be used to prosecute speech related activities, along with English translations. Some initial impressions:

There are no significant changes to Articles 25, 26, and 42.

The draft adds new language stating explicitly that "The comprehensive management of social security adheres to the leadership of the Communist Party of China."

The draft adds this new language to Article 27 (now Article 30): "Producing, spreading, or possessing for the purpose of spreading items, information, and materials that promote cults and sects." This will no doubt be used to punish Falun Gong practitioners and house church members. For an example of how these acts have been punished under Criminal Law, see the case of Geng Doe, who in 2020 was found guilty of "Using a cult to undermine law enforcement" on the grounds that she invited three other people to come to her home to "practice Falun Gong and share their knowledge of Falun Gong with one another." "State Prosecutions," Chapter 7, pp. 252-255.

The draft adds an entirely new provision devoted to offenses against the image of the State, Article 34. Some of the draft language closely mirrors the Protection of Heroes and Martyrs Law (英雄烈士保护法), for example "Engaging in activities in public venues that damage the environment and atmosphere of commemorating heroes and martyrs," and "Insulting, defaming, or otherwise infringing on the names, likenesses, reputation and honor of heroes and martyrs, harming the public interest of society." The remainder of Article 30, however, creates new offenses which will allow to the government to punish a broad range of pure speech conduct simply on the grounds that someone might find it offensive:

  • Clause (2) makes it illegal to wear or adorn clothing or symbols in public venues that "harm the spirit of the Chinese nation or hurt the feelings of the Chinese nation." It is easy to see how this provision could be used by police in the PRC to jail individuals who engage in protest activities outside of the PRC who then return to the PRC.
  • Clause (3) makes it illegal to produce, advocate, or publish any remarks that are "detrimental to the spirit of the Chinese nation or hurt the feelings of the Chinese nation." It is easy to see how this provision could be used by police in the PRC to jail individuals who publish anything critical of the Communist Party of China or its leaders outside of the PRC who then return to the PRC.
  • Clause (4) makes it illegal to advocate or beautify "aggressive wars and acts of aggression." It seems unlikely that this will be used by police to punish state run media when they advocate aggression against Taiwan (see, e.g., "PLA Conducts Mock Strikes on Taiwan Island on 2nd Day of Encirclement Drills" But it is easy to see how this provision could be used by police in the PRC to jail individuals who express support for freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea.










Article 62

The comprehensive management of social security adheres to the leadership of the Communist Party of China.

People's governments at all levels shall strengthen comprehensive management of social security and take effective measures to resolve social conflicts, enhance social harmony, and maintain social stability.

Relevant departments of the people's governments at or above the county level shall carry out work related to the comprehensive management of social security within the scope of their respective responsibilities.











Article 258. A person who commits one of the following acts shall be detained for not less than 5 days but not more than 10 days and may, in addition, be fined not more than 500 yuan 1,000 yuan; and if the circumstances are relatively minor, he shall be detained for not more than 5 days or be fined not more than 500 yuan 1,000 yuan:

(1) intentionally disturbing public order by spreading rumors, making false reports of dangerous situations and epidemic situations or raising false alarms or by other means;

(2) disturbing public order by putting in fake hazardous substances such as explosive, toxic, radioactive and corrosive substances or pathogens of infectious diseases; or

(3) disturbing public order by actions such as threatening to set fire, set off explosions, or put in hazardous substances.













Article 269. A person who commits one of the following acts shall be detained for not less than 5 days but not more than 10 days and may, in addition, be fined not more than 500 yuan 1,000 yuan; and if the circumstances are relatively serious, he shall be detained for not less 10 than days but not more than 15 days and may, in addition, be fined not more than 1,000 yuan 2,000 yuan:

(1) gang-fighting;

(2) chasing or intercepting another person;

(3) forcibly taking and obstinately seizing, or willfully damaging and occupying public or private property; or

(4) other provocative acts.




Article 2730

(3) Producing, spreading, or possessing for the purpose of spreading items, information, and materials that promote cults and sects.

Whoever knowingly provides the conditions for others to engage in the activities in the preceding paragraph shall be punished in accordance with the provisions of the preceding paragraph.









Article 34

Anyone who commits any of the following acts shall be detained for not less than five days but not more than ten days, or fined not less than 1,000 yuan but not more than 3,000 yuan; if the circumstances are relatively serious, they shall be detained for not less than ten days but not more than fifteen days, and may also be fined not more than 5,000 yuan:

(1) Engaging in activities in public venues that damage the environment and atmosphere of commemorating heroes and martyrs;

(2) Wearing or adorning, or forcing others to wear or adorn, clothing or symbols in public venues that are detrimental to the spirit of the Chinese nation or hurt the feelings of the Chinese nation;

(3) Producing, spreading, advocating, or disseminating articles or remarks that are detrimental to the spirit of the Chinese nation or hurt the feelings of the Chinese nation;

(4) Blaspheming or repudiating the deeds and spirit of heroes and martyrs, advocating or beautifying aggressive wars and acts of aggression, disturbing the peace, and disrupting public order;

(5) Insulting, defaming, or otherwise infringing on the names, likenesses, reputation and honor of heroes and martyrs, harming the public interest of society;

(6) Occupying, destroying, or defacing memorial facilities for heroes and martyrs.

Translation: Xu Zhiyong's Statement in His Own Defense

 Source: China Digital Times: On April 10, 2023, Xu Zhiyong, a well-known human rights de...