Information Control & Cybersecurity

Intrusion Campaign Targets Chinese Language News Sites

Researcher at University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab have uncovered a digital spying campaign that used domains and websites made to look like Chinese language news websites, all of which regularly report on issues considered taboo or controversial by the Chinese government, including: China Digital Times, Mingjing News, Epoch Times, HK01, and Bowen Press.

The investigation of the phishing attempts against China Digital Times led to the discovery of a wider campaign using various tactics including reconnaissance, phishing, and malware that used domains and copied content that masqueraded other news websites.

My comments:

It’s almost like a human nature to click links on the Internet. But that’s usually how hackers get you. Don’t click any links you don’t recognize and beware of phishing attempts. I wrote about some general tips (in Chinese) to protect our security online . I highly recommend you also read a rundown on digital security (in English) by my awesome colleague John Scott-Railton. If you think you belong to a more vulnerable group that has higher chance of being surveilled and hacked, Program-Think 编程随想 is a must read blog for you (in Chinese, probably needs VPN to access from mainland China).


In Anhui, Provincial Media Watchdog Invalidates 630 Press Cards, July 7

In Hong Kong, Journalist group warns on mainland money

TVB abruptly pulled an episode of its Headliner satire show that included sarcastic comments about visiting president Xi Jinping and references to terminally ill dissident Liu Xiaobo.

International NGOs’ China operations hit by registration delays under new law

Reuter reports that some international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in China are suspending operations, cancelling events and losing partnerships in the country six months after the government introduced a law requiring them to register with the police.

Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Administration of Activities of Overseas Non-Governmental Organizations within the Territory of China

Chinese Netizens Complaints About Lack of Coverage on Flooding in Southern China

At least 56 people have been killed and another 22 reported missing as heavy rains continue to pummel southern China, flooding towns, cutting off power and halting traffic, China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs says. Heavy rain has caused the Yangtse River and many of its tributaries to overflow, affecting more than 11 million people.

China watchers notice that there are relatively few coverage on the floods on state media, at least on their online news websites. The Ministry of Civil Affairs released updates of the floods in Guangdong and Guangxi provinces, leaving out information on Hunan, which was hit the hardest by the flooding since July 1, 2017 (coincidentally the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover).

My observation:

Chinese Internet users have shared photos of the disaster to Zhihu (accessible in China). @Zuola 佐拉 has uploaded 3 GB of videos recording the flooding situation in Hunan to Baidu Cloud Drive (accessible in China). A quick search of “洪灾” on Sina Weibo seems to suggest that the overall of tone of all relevant (permitted) posts are disseminating “positive energy”.

Advocacy Work for Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo 刘晓波 Continues

Reports said that Liu Xiaobo’s family and friends were told to prepare for his death. On Friday, a German doctor visited Liu and he is the first foreigner to see the dissident suffering from late-stage liver cancer. Activist and friend Hu Jia 胡佳 said he believed that foreigners had finally been granted access to the dissident because the authorities wanted to dispel speculation that Liu’s condition was not severe.

Chen Guangcheng 陈光诚, a Chinese dissident often coded as “the blind lawyer” in China, wrote an op-ed on the New York Times this week, shared his own experience serving his sentence in Chinese prison, “where torture, forced labor and inhumane conditions were the norm — I was occasionally brought to the medical wing for sham exams performed by a staff made up of convicts who had a smattering of experience in medicine or biology. I was never seen by a properly trained doctor, despite grave illness and serious injuries inflicted on me by other inmates on order of the wardens. Before I was released, I was given a “medical exam” during which they injected me with drugs that caused me to be unable to speak properly for many days.”


En route to 19th Party Congress

Cinemas Must Play Government-issued “China Dream” Videos Before Every Movie

Chinese cinemas have been ordered to play one of four government-issued videos before every movie screening. Theater managers in several Chinese cities confirmed on Wednesday that they had received the order, which went into effect last week.

The video series, titled “Our Chinese Dream”, includes four PSAs of 3 minutes or so: China Dream 中国梦, Socialist Core Values 社会主义核心价值观, “Four Comprehensives” Strategic Layout 四个全面战略布局 and  “Five-in-One” Overall Plan Layout 五位一体总体布局.


Regulators Target Entertainment Shows to “Ensure Harmony of Overall Atmosphere”

组图:广电总局规定重要宣传期 古装剧偶像剧不得播出

《广电时评》is a magazine owned by The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television 广电总局, China’s media regulator. Yesterday, it published a notice on its official WeChat account saying, “to welcome the successful opening of the 19th Party Congress and celebrate the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the PLA….. in principle, provincial television stations should not air costume drama, idol drama and other shows of strong entertainment nature.” Instead, TV stations show air shows recommended by SAPPRFT.  The original article has been deleted by the account operator.


Bank Staff Ordered to Wear Red Army Uniforms


Zunyi, a prefecture-level city in northern Guizhou province, is best known as the meeting place of the Communist Party of China in January 1935 during the Long March. While most of us learn about this history from textbooks, a Zunyi-based bank branch wants us to learnt it from everyday life.

China CITIC Bank’s Zunyi branch orders staff to wear Red Army uniforms in January and July every year to celebrate the establishment of the CCP and the anniversary of the Zunyi Conference.

My comments:

It’s a common knowledge that China tightens censorship around major news events. This year, the most important event is the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China 十九大, which will determine China’s next leadership. Besides censorship, China is taking a more proactive approach towards ideological education and managing media discourses.


Politics & Technology

Let’s Use Big Data and Artificial Intelligent to Calculate the Thought Status of Party Members — Those At Grass-root Level At Least

Ever wonder what the CCP can do with big data and AI technology? How about thought control? According to Science and Technology Daily 科技日报, Sichuan provincial party school has signed a partnership with University of Electronic Science and Technology of China to build “Smart Red Cloud” 智慧红云, the country’s first “smart party building project.”

The project, initiated in 2012, aims to informatize and digitalize Party building. The system, equipped with “TensorPlus Deep Learning System”, will collect basic data and activities of grass-root level Party members, including whether they attend and participate in the discussion at Party education sessions.

Business & Technology

Gadgets360, WeChat Go SIM Card Launched by KPN, Lets Users Chat on the Go in Europe

New China, China outbound investments shift from energy to technology

Caixin, Tencent Literature Unit Eyes Up to $800 Million for IPO, Report Says

Society & Technology

SCMP, Baidu investigated after CEO tests driverless car on Beijing roads

Caixin, Tencent Plays Defense in Addiction Claims Over Blockbuster Game

Caixin, Alibaba’s Ant Check Later 蚂蚁花呗 Raises Too Much Personal Information, Raising Privacy Concerns


Shout out to all


If you notice that certain content has been censored on WeChat, Weibo or any Chinese social media platforms, feel free to take a screenshot of the censored message or other evidence of the censorship and send me a direct message on Twitter or via encrypted emails.