Category Archives: China

Video: Chinese Soldier Almost Kills Himself With Grenade, Saved by Instructor

A video has been circulating on Youku, a Chinese video sharing site similar to YouTube, and has been viewed over 1 million times. The video shows a trainee PLA soldier being instructed in the art of hand-grenade throwing, yet the trainee still hasn’t quite mastered the technique. He manages to throw the grenade only a few feet away from him and his instructor. When he tries to take cover, he lies down in close proximity to the impending explosion. Luckily the trainee is saved by his instructor who pulls him to safety in a ditch a split second before the grenade detonates.

Video on Youku:
May be removed by censors

Copy on YouTube:

Translations of Comments from Youku:

“That instructor is impressive, pay attention at 00:26 secs, the instructor forcefully pulls him down and saves his life.”

“Students at military universities are all attracted by the high tech weapons. What soldiers now have the strength of those in the past? They are all university soldiers! They hold pens!”

“The trainee soldier lay on his belly perfectly, I laugh every time (I watch it).”

“Reason for the accident: the trainee was nervous, he feared the grenade would detonate early, under this nervous situation his grip loosened, which affected the direction and strength of his throw.”

“When he goes back (to barracks) he will definitely be kicked in the butt!”

“This isn’t about technique, it is about intelligence. If it was a real war, how many comrades would have died in his hands? I suspect he is a spy sent by the enemy.”


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CCTV Does Not Play Well with Others

Chinese State Television Launches on Washington, DC Cable

This October 1st, on the 62nd anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party’s takeover of China, China Central Television launched a new cable channel in Washington, DC metro area on MHz Networks 3. CCTV is state-run media ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.  For at least a decade CCTV has had the ambition to have its programming shown in the United States.

We asked China expert Ethan Gutmann, Adjunct Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and author of Losing the New China: A Story of American Commerce, Desire and Betrayal about the possible ramifications of CCTV’s presence in the United States and the possible motives for the launch.

Nationalism & Propaganda


It’s half a prestige issue and half a propaganda issue. One is to influence the Chinese American population, the Chinese Diaspora, within America. The second is to try to influence Americans so they see China as equal and non-threatening.

I’ve never been able to understand exactly why they are so obsessed with competing with America. If you go to China, people spend a lot of time and mental energy thinking about how competitive China is with America—if China is weaker than America, if Americans look down on China, etc. These are huge issues in China.

It’s part of China’s nationalism. Marxism philosophy has been replaced by nationalism since the last days of Deng Xiaoping. And the strongest aspect of Chinese nationalism is to be number one. And this requires being as strong as America, if not stronger.

A way for the Chinese Regime to Boost Nationalism

The other aspect is to make inroads among Chinese Americans. The racial ties of Chinese are  emphasized in Chinese nationalism. They believe that even if somebody moves to another country, even if they have grown up not speaking Chinese—if they have Chinese blood, they are in some sense Chinese citizens and they should be loyal to the Chinese state.

“The Big Underpants” CCTV Headquarters

Threats to Freedom of Expression? How will this CCTV channel influence Chinese Americans?

I don’t find freedom of expression threatening. Let the market decide. What I’m more concerned about is that—I assume—they are part of some cable bundle. And if, let’s say, NTD Television tried to get on that same cable bundle, they would be turned down because it would be seen as a conflict with CCTV.

The big problem with the Chinese government—the Chinese Communist Party—is that they want to be in the Western system but they don’t respect it. They don’t respect the fact that we have a system of free expression. They never accept that. They are still not willing to play by those rules—at a level playing field. If they want their ideas to be out there, if they want to use soft power, then they have to play by the soft power rules, where the best and the most entertaining ideas win—very true for TV. It’s not just politics. It has to be generally entertaining.  CCTV doesn’t tend to be terribly entertaining  because it’s a propaganda station. And, in the final analysis, it’s not allowed to touch many topics, and if it does, it has to touch on them very carefully to the point where it interferes with artistic expression, or any kind of expression.

We know that within China this happens again and again.  If Disney wants to do a film and it’s about Tibet, then suddenly Disney has a big problem. And we don’t know how they are going to do in the American market.  So far the track record is very bad.

And there are going to be critical shows—shows that are critical of the Chinese state—that are going to examine [Chinese] history. There’s going to be things that they [CCTV] are not comfortable with and I suspect that they are going to start throwing their weight around. They are going to start putting pressure on these cable channels—creating a fuss. And that’s going to be a problem. That’s my guess—that it’s not going to end well.

Doesn’t it also involve the cable companies?

I don’t think the cable companies are used to this. Al Jazeera, for example, as far as I know, doesn’t insist that you can’t show pro-Israel things on the same cable bundle—because Al Jazeera may have a point of view, but it is not controlled by a government and they are not under the Communist Party. And CCTV is. I don’t think cable networks are very good about making the distinction between something which is foreign and has a different point of view, on the one hand, and something that is controlled by a single party state, on the other. They are two different things, like apples and oranges—well, more like apples and rocks. And I wonder if they are in for a surprise. The Chinese have spent so much time and effort trying to shut down NTD Television. They have a track record on this.  There is a precedent for concern.

But I strongly feel from another point of view that saying ‘CCTV has a biased point of view’—that is true, but it is not a reason to keep them off the air. We don’t feel it threatens our way of life, nor do I feel that the Chinese community is threatened by CCTV directly. But it’s the question of balance.

Let’s say NTD Television is getting very popular but can’t get on the same cable bundle.  It’s going to be very hard to prove a negative here—to prove that CCTV played the role in preventing that deal from coming through. I wonder if anybody has considered this—that CCTV is not going to sit there quietly,  comfortable with a lot of the other things that are shown on the same cable bundle.

I think they see this as a beachhead—not the conquest of the United States, but conquering a small part of the consciousness of the United States with soft power. There’s a foolish idea in the West that Marxists and the Communist Party do not understand persuasive techniques. That’s exactly what they understand. It’s not just about the gun. It’s about persuasion, and fear and mind control. These are the techniques that they use. Self-correcting mechanisms and self-censorship is a critical part of it. And part of this beachhead is based on the concept of self-censorship.

I don’t believe that it’s a travesty that CCTV will be on in America. My worry is that it will have a dampening effect on freedom of expression about China in this corner, maybe it’s a particular corner but it’s a start—that’s a legitimate fear.

The problem is that they are not looking at this in a democratic way and they don’t have experience with freedom of expression. And CCTV does not play well with others.”

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The Falun Gong “Protest That Changed China”? It’s Not So Simple…

Falun Gong practitioners gather outside Zhongnanhai on April 25, 1999. (Courtesy

Summary from Matthew Robertson in The Epoch Times (italics below added by me)

On April 25, 1999, the most “serious political incident” since 1989 occurred in China. Over 10,000 practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice, had quietly gathered on the streets of Beijing and silently stood and sat from morning to night, seeking to be allowed to practice their faith free from harassment.

The incident is often seen as the catalyst to what happened next: a nationwide Cultural Revolution-style persecution featuring incessant propaganda, cruel violence, labor camps, and thought reeducation campaigns that continues to this day. But a look at the three years that preceded that incident shows that rather than being the catalyst to the persecution, it was practitioners’ last-ditch effort to head off what hardliners inside the Communist Party had been hatching since 1996.

Exclusive interview with the author

I spoke with researcher and author Matthew Robertson about why this issue is still important—because it’s been 12 years since the incident on April 25, 1999, where 10,000-plus Falun Gong practitioners gathered outside the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing.

The reason this is important is because it affects how people understand the whole persecution [of Falun Gong]. If people understand it as a kind of action-reaction, and that Falun Gong got what was coming to them for protesting, then the attitude toward the persecution is different. If they understand that things had already started as early as ’95 or ’96, the whole perspective changes.

Robertson told me that he had to shorten his original article by about half to make it a suitable length for print. I asked him what got left out. He told me:

Ye Hao was the head of the Falun Gong Research Society and a director in the PSB (Public Security Bureau). He said that as early as 1995, the PSB said that they wanted to label Falun Gong a xiejiao—an “evil cult” or “heretical religion”—and ban it. But for whatever reason, that label didn’t get off the ground. But they had this plan in 1995.

The key that came out of this [research] is the ideological nature of the persecution and not the organizational fears. If you look at Western media, they emphasize that the CCP was scared of Falun Gong’s capacity to organize. But that really is just a superficial thing; that came much later. Since ’96 it was really an ideological struggle.

Like many practitioners said [to me], and especially what Ye Hao said, no one was saying the kinds of things Falun Gong was saying, about cultivating to buddhahood, about cultivation in other dimensions, and about the importance of morality, and all those things. It just wasn’t done in China. People wouldn’t say things like that publicly. So some people in the CCP hated [Falun Gong]. And it also had supporters. So that’s what took three years.

If there wasn’t all this kind of resistance [from supporters], the CCP might have tried to ban it in 1996. So what happened in 1999 was just the endpoint of what really began earlier. And that’s something that’s kind of being missed because Zhongnanhai (the protest on April 25, 1999) was such a dramatic event—so it steals the show. But this history is really the key to understanding the dynamic that led to the persecution.

For more info on what happened on April 25, 1999 and the CCP’s reaction, watch Part 2 of our award-winning documentary series, A Decade of Courage.

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New Round of Fake Emails from Chinese Regime to Discredit Falun Gong?

This news release was published yesterday by the Falun Dafa Information Center, the official press group for the Falun Gong (a.k.a. Falun Dafa) spiritual practice.

A new round of fraudulent emails was sent from suspected Chinese agents to elected officials, journalists and NGOs in Canada, the United States, France and Norway earlier this month. The emails’ senders deceptively claim to be representatives of the Falun Dafa Information Center, and the content of the messages is crafted to portray Falun Gong as bizarre, threatening, intolerant, and otherwise undeserving of sympathy or respect.

The emails make bizarre claims, including that if the recipients took up the practice of Falun Gong, they would be granted “exceptional capabilities” including “making a fortune without labor.”

“The Falun Dafa Information Center did not send these emails, and in no way condones the threats or bizarre thinking that they advance,” says Falun Dafa Information Center spokesperson Mr. Erping Zhang… “Still, it’s very clear why the e-mails take this tactic: it plays directly into the fears of extreme religious believers.”

Read the full article

We had reported on this issue four weeks ago after purportedly fraudulent emails like this were first discovered. This is our story from March 25, 2011:

Of note, in this video above, investigations into the I.P. addresses showed that the emails came from inside China—obviously not from the Falun Gong spokesperson in New Jersey, who is likely blacklisted from even entering China.

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Video: 840-lb “Earthquake Fish” Caught in Taiwan

It’s one big fish. A man in Taiwan caught a sunfish weighing 840 lbs. And if that’s not enough, he also caught a swordfish weighing more than 260 lbs.

Some Chinese media are calling them “earthquake fish.” That is, fish believed to be displaced from their normal deepwater habitats because of the recent earthquake off the coast of Japan.

Here’s a video from local media.

Are big, deepwater fish really driven to shore after an underwater earthquake or tsunami?

Bruce E. Jaffe, an oceanographer with the U.S. Geological Survey, told us he doesn’t think so.

I’ve never heard of “earthquake fish”… I think it is doubtful that the earthquake and tsunami would have driven sunfish and swordfish closer to shore. Earthquakes cause underwater noise, but I don’t know if this would drive fish into shallower water. The tsunami in the deep ocean doesn’t result in strong currents, so I doubt it would have caused the fish to go into shallower water, where currents would be stronger.  I suspect, but don’t know, that the fish came closer to shore because of a warming of the water.

My response is partially based on something that happened in Monterey Bay some years ago. Sunfish (mola mola) came into the Bay during an El Nino year when water temperatures were warmer.

Jaffe points to this chart tracking rising water temperatures in the area over the past month, and to this abstract of a study of sunfish movement in the Pacific Ocean.

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The CCP Says No to Military Reform—How Is It Related to the Tuidang (Quit the CCP) Movement?

It appears that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been making a special effort recently to refute demands for military reform. Some experts say it may be related to the Tuidang movement—the movement to “quit,” or withdraw from, the CCP.

Here is a summary from Straits Times Indonesia:

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Daily ran a full page of articles recently to rouse the military and prepare its men for what it called a “war without gun smoke.”

The six articles, published on March 29, were intended to refute, among other things, three core demands made by advocates of political reform in the military.

The CCP has never bothered—until now—to refute the demands openly because of their highly sensitive nature. Devoting a full page in the PLA Daily for this purpose now is a rare move on its part.

Importantly, the article says that this implicitly suggests that theCCP is admitting that the Tuidang movement is having an effect on the military.

Caylan Ford is completing a Masters thesis on the Tuidang Movement at George Washington University’s school of International Affairs. She has analyzed hundreds of documents, from official Communist Party directives to “withdrawal statements” by Tuidang participants.

She told NTD that the upper echelons of the Party, including Hu Jintao, are increasingly concerned that the military is no longer “ideologically pure” and their allegiance is wavering.

There are concerns about defections within the security apparatus… A disproportionate number of statements seem to come from members the security agencies, be it the PLA (People’s Liberation Army), or the MSS (Ministry of State Security), or the Public Security Bureaus at the local levels, or police stations.

Part of the reason is because those people in particular are targeted by Tuidang activists more than other citizens, but also that their experiences tend to disillusion them [with the Party] in a way that is unique.

Ford is the author of a 2009 Christian Science Monitor editorial An underground challenge to China’s status quo, which goes into more depth on the Tuidang movement’s impact.

Li Ding, Deputy Editor-in-Chief for Chinascope, an online periodical that translates and analyzes articles from China’s state-run media and other official sources, explained to NTD the Tuidang movement’s impact on the military:

Starting in 2004, people in China started a kind of movement (the Tuidang movement)—an awakening from the rule of the Party. They started to realize the crimes the CCP has done to Chinese people. And so we have seen from overseas websites many Chinese people want to cut their ties from the Chinese Communist Party. And the CCP clearly senses that.

This kind of momentum is also happening inside the military. This really makes the CCP nervous. Especially after the Middle East crisis… the CCP feels a really strong sense of crisis, so they want to step up their control of the military.

So in recent years, we see the CCP’s military [publications] are running an array of articles… They claim that the army serves the Party; if the army is not following the leadership of the Party, then the army is going down the wrong ideological path.

There is more background in this March 2011 report by Chinascope, in particular the section called The Tightening Grip of the Military and the Police, starting on page 6.

Full Disclosure: In 2006, NTD produced and aired a documentary based on The Epoch Times newspaper’s editorial series Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party. Both the original editorial and NTD’s subsequent documentary may have had a direct impact on the spread of the Tuidang movement.

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Shanghai Red Cross Spends $1,500 on Dinner Party, Chinese Netizens Angry

Summary from the Shanghaiist:

Last Friday, a microblogger posted a receipt from a lunch held for 17 people by the Luwan Shanghai Red Cross totaling 9,859RMB (about $1,500.) Now dubbed the “million dollar meal”, the revelation has enraged the public and led to calls for a boycott and an audit of all expenditures made by the organization.

Tian Yongbo, the Shanghai Red Cross’ former publicity officer, defended the cost in an interview with the state-run Global Times. He said the money spent on the meal came from government funding, not donations:

“Our annual budget from the government is too much to be used up, so why would we use donations?”

The Shanghai Red Cross’s money comes from two sources: state-allocated taxpayer money, and donations. Because the Chinese regime does not allow fundraising organizations or NGOs to be independent, it controls the Shanghai Red Cross, and also provides a portion of its budget. But the Red Cross also raises donations from the public for specific causes; for example, it raised tens of millions of dollars for Sichuan earthquake relief in 2008.

Wherever the money for the $1,500 meal came from, many Chinese netizens are angry. Here are some comments from Sina Microblog (Weibo):

passerbynet: The money the Red Cross raises comes from society, so their accounting should be public. If we are to have government transparency, it should start from here.

林晨1003: Faint. I guess my previous donations were for nothing but their astronomically expensive meals. I can’t afford this kind of meal myself, yet I donated money to let you eat like this. What kind of era [do we live in]? I think today’s Communist Party is even worse than yesterday’s Nationalist Party.

xiuli670: The right checks and balances that are supposed to be in place seem to have been missing. It’s the responsibility of news media to expose these kinds of adverse events before the eyes of the public…

郭霆-创业者: Ever since the government swallowed up my donation for the [2008 Sichuan] earthquake, I’ve never donated to any government-run charities. Not a penny!

幸福乐宜: Have always been suspicious of where donations end up. Now it’s truly clear that it’s being used to feed a bunch of bastards.

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