‘Oh my God, buy it!’ China’s livestream shopping stars risk being censored

Hua Shao stands knee-deep in water at the edge of the sea, behind a table piled high with large crabs. The famous Chinese TV host is sweaty, sunburnt and laughing with a co-host as a red-and-blue fishing boat bobs behind them. “The sea-ears taste so good, it must have been collected from a sea area where the water is very clear,” he tells more than 100,000 people who are watching online. It’s the eve of “618”, one of China’s biggest retail festivals, which are increasingly driven by the weird world…

Your Thursday Briefing: Turkey’s NATO Block

Good morning. We’re covering Turkey’s move to stall NATO’s expansion, North Korea’s effort to follow China’s pandemic restrictions and China’s new tactic to censor online speech. Will Turkey block NATO’s expansion? Finland and Sweden formally asked to join NATO on Wednesday, heralding what could be the alliance’s biggest expansion in decades, and one that would increase its presence on Russia’s doorstep. But later in the day, Turkey, a NATO member, blocked an initial effort to move ahead quickly with the applications. Analysts said it was an attempt to squeeze out…

Elon, Twitter is not the town square – it’s just a private shop. The square belongs to us all | John Naughton

On Friday 8 January 2021, Twitter kicked Donald Trump off its platform and an eerie calm enveloped parts of our global public sphere. Depriving him of his online megaphone was a compelling demonstration of how a tech platform had acquired an awesome power – the ability effectively to silence an elected president. But what kind of power is it really? Many years ago, in a landmark book, Power: A Radical View, the sociologist Steven Lukes wrote that power comes in three varieties: the ability to stop people doing what they…

Musk’s Ties to China Could Create Headaches for Twitter

SAN FRANCISCO — When Elon Musk opened a Tesla factory in Shanghai in 2019, the Chinese government welcomed him with billions of dollars’ worth of cheap land, loans, tax breaks and subsidies. “I really think China is the future,” Mr. Musk cheered. Tesla’s road since then has been lucrative, with a quarter of the company’s revenue in 2021 coming from China, but not without problems. The firm faced a consumer and regulatory revolt in China last year over manufacturing flaws. With his deal to take over Twitter, Mr. Musk’s ties…

China internet censors scramble as lockdown frustration sparks ‘creative’ wave of dissent

China’s strict system of censorship is struggling against the onslaught of complaints from Shanghai, as residents find creative ways to get around bans on words, hashtags and even lyrics from the national anthem. As the weeks-long lockdown in the city of 25 million prompted widespread food shortages, delivery failures and fatal healthcare disruptions, the government has urged residents to harness “positive energy”. Dystopian banners warn people to “watch your own mouth or face punishment” and drones admonish apartment dwellers. But far from inspiring residents to fall in line, the methods…

Chinese article urging country to cut ties with Putin gets 1m views

When an essay from a prominent Shanghai scholar suggested China needed to cut ties with Vladimir Putin as soon as possible over the Ukraine war, the online reaction was swift. Despite being published late on a Friday evening in the Carter Center’s US-China Perception Monitor, Hu Wei’s essay soon gained a million views in and outside China, and was republished into Chinese blogs, non-official media sites and social media accounts. Then came the backlash, as the article was criticised for being “reckless and dangerous” vitriol. Personal attacks on Hu and…

In Rare Rebuke, Chinese Denounce Russia’s War in Ukraine

in rare rebuke chinese denounce russias war in ukraine

When Hu Wei, a politically well-connected scholar in Shanghai, warned that China risked becoming a pariah if it didn’t denounce Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he ignited a war of words on China’s internet. Some readers praised Mr. Hu’s article, which spread online last week, seeing its gloomy prognosis about China becoming isolated behind a new Iron Curtain of hostility from Western countries as a welcome challenge to official Chinese soft-pedaling of President Vladimir V. Putin’s aggression. Many others denounced him as a stooge of Washington, unduly critical of Russia’s war…

Fight Club author praises Chinese cut of film: ‘Super wonderful!’

The author of Fight Club has praised the “happy ending” afforded to David Fincher’s film of his book for a new Chinese cut of the movie. Chuck Palahniuk described the change, in which the police successfully foil an anarchist plot and the heroes are incarcerated, as “SUPER wonderful”. Palahniuk told TMZ: “The irony is that … they’ve aligned the ending almost exactly with the ending of the book, as opposed to Fincher’s ending, which was the more spectacular visual ending. So in a way, the Chinese brought the movie back…

Chinese Police Hunt Overseas Critics With Advanced Tech

chinese police hunt overseas critics with advanced tech scaled

For Chinese security forces, the effort is a daring expansion of a remit that previously focused on Chinese platforms and the best-known overseas dissidents. Now, violations as simple as a post of a critical article on Twitter — or in the case of 23-year-old Ms. Chen, quoting, “I stand with Hong Kong” — can bring swift repercussions. Actions against people for speaking out on Twitter and Facebook have increased in China since 2019, according to an online database aggregating them. The database, compiled by an anonymous activist, records cases based…

Fury in China After Li Tiantian, an Outspoken Teacher, Disappears

fury in china after li tiantian an outspoken teacher disappears scaled

Chinese social media sites have echoed for days with a question that has been met with silence by Communist Party officials: Where is Li Tiantian? Ms. Li, an outspoken but previously little known teacher at a rural school in Hunan Province, southern China, disappeared after telling friends that police officers had forced their way into her home and were taking her to a psychiatric hospital. She told them the authorities had accused her of violating the bounds of officially acceptable comment on social media. In recent weeks, Ms. Li had…