China Launches Hotline to Report Criticism of Communist Party


The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) prepared for its 100th-anniversary celebration in July by setting up a hotline for citizens to report “historical nihilists” who dare to complain about the Party online.

Chinese law makes it possible to jail anyone who speaks ill of the Party or its designated heroes.

Reuters quoted a notice from the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the authoritarian regime’s top Internet-control bureaucracy, announcing a “tip line” for faithful Communist citizens to report anyone who tries to “deny the excellence of advanced socialist culture” with online posts:

“Some with ulterior motives … have been spreading historical nihilistic misrepresentations online, maliciously distorting, denigrating and negating the history of the party,” said the notice.

“We hope that the majority of internet users will actively play their part in supervising society … and enthusiastically report harmful information,” it said.

“Historical nihilism” is a phrase used in China to describe public doubt and scepticism over the Chinese Communist party’s description of past events.

China has imposed all manner of laws forbidding criticism of the CCP or disagreement with the Party’s official version of history. Many of these laws have been promulgated or tightened around important dates, such as the anniversary of the 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square, a forbidden subject for Chinese citizens to discuss. Frank discussions of China’s forced labor policies and disagreements with China’s dishonest history of the coronavirus pandemic are also likely to be classified as “historical nihilism” by the operators of the new snitch line.

The CCP hopes to make its centennial on July 1 a major propaganda event, with an emphasis on China’s “historic achievements” under dictator Xi Jinping. The party now claims it has almost 92 million members, making it “the largest Marxist ruling party in the world.” Absolute loyalty to the CCP, its ideology, and its version of history will be a major theme of the anniversary event.



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Stop ‘Randomly Mixing Chinese Elements’ into Movies

China’s state-run Global Times on Thursday told Hollywood it needs to do more than just throw a few “Chinese elements” into big-budget films if it wants to succeed at the Chinese box office, which surpassed the American box office during the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.

The Global Times editorial offered few concrete suggestions for how American films could compete more effectively in China, whose film industry has begun producing “homegrown” big-budget features that frequently outperform even recent Hollywood successes like Godzilla vs. Kong.

“The top ten most anticipated films during China’s May Labor Day holiday are all domestic films, including Zhang Yimou’s first spy thriller Impasse, video game-based fantasy Dynasty Warriors, and adventure suspense film Schemes in Antiques,” the article reported.

On the other hand, Chinese audiences are supposedly somewhat tepid about most high-profile upcoming American releases, although they are apparently keeping their fingers crossed for Fast and Furious 9, suggesting exploding cars may have become a universal cinematic language that crosses all cultural barriers.

“Maybe it is because of the COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] epidemic that Chinese people are turning their eyes more toward their own stories,” the Global Times warned. “If Hollywood still cannot really respect and understand Chinese culture and just randomly mixes some Chinese elements into their films, it will lose a large amount of its fans in China.”

Many Americans are worried the Chinese Communist Party already has too much influence over Hollywood, and the problem could grow worse if the crippled American theater industry does not swiftly recover from the pandemic, since — as the Global Times unsubtly hinted — Chinese box office receipts will become increasingly important to the profitability of American studios. 

Sometimes American filmmakers throw in the sort of little gestures to Chinese culture or politics the Global Times derided, adding scenes to the Chinese release of movies — or, increasingly, planting them right in the middle of the cut American audiences see — that show extremely efficient and professional Chinese scientists or military officials popping in to help deal with the aliens, giant robots, or other movie menaces of a Hollywood production.

In other cases, Hollywood films are rewritten to make them more palatable to Chinese government censors, which is how the ageless Tibetan sorcerer who should have taught magic to Doctor Strange absurdly became Tilda Swinton, without a peep of concern from the hypersensitive film industry about the loss of a plum opportunity for an Asian actor.

In an especially weird recent example, the goofy video game-fantasy film Monster Hunter — which went out of its way to include roles for Asian actors — was yanked out of Chinese theaters and hastily edited because ten seconds of dialogue supposedly offended “patriotic Chinese audiences.”

Chinese audiences were so offended they proceeded to review-bomb the game the movie was based on, even though the supposedly offensive joke from the movie has absolutely nothing to do with the game, and further demanded “punishment” for everyone involved in producing the film.

Some of the Monster Hunter critics lambasted the film’s Chinese partners and distributors for thinking they could douse the flames of patriotic anger merely by clipping the objectionable dialogue out instead of banning the film altogether, which sounds a bit like the Global Times telling Hollywood it cannot compete in the increasingly important Chinese market by adding a few “Chinese elements” to its productions.

The expectation seems to be that American studios will cater more fervently to China and take even more steps to ensure their biggest movies actively please Chinese audiences, while studiously avoid giving the smallest hint of cultural or political offense. Given the current state of the U.S. box office, this might not be an unreasonable expectation.



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China to Crack Down on ‘Unregulated Expansion of Capital’

The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) annual legislative meeting this weekend will take action against the “unregulated expansion of capital,” according to Premier Li Kequiang, signaling another regulatory beating to teach outspoken tech billionaires who is truly in charge of the Chinese economy.

China’s state-run Global Times quoted Li and other CCP officials claiming the enhanced regulations would “ensure fair market competition,” stop “monopolistic behaviors,” and “prevent the disorderly expansion of capital.”

“The announcement came after China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) in February published the finalized anti-monopoly guidelines for the platform economy, which vows to protect fair competition in the market,” the Global Times wrote.

SAMR is the Chinese agency that tore Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s financial empire to pieces after Ma had the temerity to criticize CCP regulators in an October speech. The February regulatory package referenced by the Global Times came close to giving SAMR nearly unlimited power to arbitrarily declare any Chinese company a “monopoly” in need of breaking up.

Ma mysteriously disappeared for months after criticizing the CCP, and was no longer China’s richest man when he resurfaced. The valuation of his massive Ant Group financial corporation fell by about 40 percent after regulators blocked its stock IPO. In fact, no one is precisely certain what Ant Group shares are worth at the moment, or what they might become tomorrow in the hands of CCP regulators, an uncertainty that prompted the Ant Group to suspend its share buyback program for employees on Monday.

The Financial Times on Tuesday observed that Ma’s battered financial empire is now in the hands of the very institutions he derisively compared to “pawn shops” in his October speech. Chinese banking sources suggested regulators irked by Ma’s criticism took a closer look at the Ant Group and were alarmed to discover it had “larger market capitalization than China’s largest state-owned banks,” spurring the frenzy of “anti-monopoly” measures that culminated in the rules previewed by Li Kequiang on Friday.

Seeking Alpha on Wednesday speculated the CCP’s paramount objective is gaining control of the immense database of information Ma’s companies have accumulated about their customers, a demand Ma is evidently still resisting as best he can, although he will “likely cave in” eventually.



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Vladimir Putin Lumps Anti-Govt Protesters with Child Sex Traffickers

Russian President Vladimir Putin railed against anti-government protesters in a speech Thursday comparing them to child sex traffickers and suicide cultists because they supposedly use the Internet to exploit young people.

Putin was addressing We Are Togetherone of several nationwide volunteer groups launched in the spring of 2020 which aimed to help Russians struggling to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and its restrictions.

“I would like to congratulate you on a whole year of your joint work in this wonderful, noble, and highly appreciated field of supporting those who badly need a helping hand. It is especially gratifying that someone has been doing this during the most difficult time in recent years, one of the most challenging periods of our time, during the pandemic,” Putin told volunteers.

After reviewing the achievements of the group and expressing appreciation for its individual and corporate sponsors – “as many as 10,000 companies and five million people,” according to Putin – the Russian president regaled the crowd with political musings. In a bizarre shift in tone, Putin hammered the importance of controlling the Internet and forcing it to comply with “the moral laws of our society.”

Putin identified the great moral menaces of the Internet as child pornography, child prostitution, drug abuse, suicide bullies, and people who hold “unauthorized rallies” to harass him for such acts as using chemical weapons to murder political opponents:

Unfortunately, we have to deal with more than just calls to take part in unauthorized rallies. We are all adults here, and we are aware of it, why not face it? What can be found in cyberspace is child pornography, child prostitution, and the promotion and distribution of drugs among children and adolescents. They are encouraged to take to the streets and brawl with the police, and then hide behind children thus putting them on the spot.

What does it mean? It means using children as an object, it means using children as a tool for achieving someone’s selfish objectives, and it is always a source for using children to earn profit. Strange as it is, including by urging a minor to commit suicide. And there they find a way to profit off it too. It is amazing. I see that my colleague opened his eyes in surprise and made an understandable gesture with his hands. These were exactly my feelings when I learnt about it.

And when the police catch up to these monsters, can you imagine, they turn into totally different people. They surf the internet, pretending to be tough like Rambo, and urge a girl or a boy to jump off a roof – and they concoct a whole story to entice him or her to do it. But as soon as the police arrive, they literally crap their pants. Such bastards sitting there, you know. Like an insect no one feels sorry about crushing. They urge girls and boys to commit suicide. And in doing all this they also earn money by posting ads and doing other things.

“When we are talking about children, of course to some they are an object for exploitation, to some they are a tool for achieving selfish goals, to some they are a source of earning money and making profit, but to us they are an absolute treasure. That is the truth,” Putin concluded.

Putin’s regime is deeply worried about the growing number of young people participating in “unauthorized” demonstrations. Russian Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin said Friday his office has “received data about participation of 1,422 minors in illegal rallies.”

Bastrykin’s idea for fighting the “crisis” involved increasing “educational programs aimed at providing knowledge and skills that would shield children from manipulation techniques in the future,” in addition to limiting their free time so they cannot participate in protests.

“I have reiterated Marx’s idea many times: in order to keep a teenager from partaking in such actions, they should not have a single minute of spare time,” Bastrykin said.



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Saudi Energy Minister Declares End of American Energy Revolution

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, crowed at Thursday’s OPEC meeting that the American energy revolution is over, OPEC would soon regain control over oil markets, and “Drill, baby, drill is gone forever.”

“Drill, baby, drill” began as a Republican campaign slogan in 2008, popularized by vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, although it was coined by then-Lt. Governor of Maryland Michael Steele. The basic idea was that aggressively developing America’s energy resources would bring economic prosperity and make the United States less dependent on foreign oil.

History vindicated the Republican position once the American energy industry really was unleashed by the revolutions in shale oil and fracking. Rarely has a pithy political slogan so utterly defeated the people who once sneered at it. 

Falling oil prices, driven by surging American supply, not only propelled the robust American economy that would be ravaged by the Wuhan coronavirus in 2020; they were a powerful driver of geopolitical change. Among other things, cheaper oil weakened the malevolent regime in Iran and helped propel reform in Saudi Arabia, where plans to shift the economy away from oil and renovate the Kingdom’s politics to attract more foreign investment suddenly took on new urgency.

According to the Saudi energy minister, as quoted by Fortune, that era of American energy independence and cheap energy has come to a end:

“‘Drill, baby, drill’ is gone forever,” said Prince Abdulaziz, who’s orchestrated the revival of the oil market after last year’s catastrophic collapse.

His swagger comes mixed with a good dose of diplomatic tension: Russia, Saudi Arabia’s most important OPEC+ partner, has tried to convince Riyadh for several months to increase output, fearing that rising oil prices would ultimately awaken rival shale producers. The Saudis are certain the American industry has reformed itself.

If the prince is right, OPEC+ will be able to both push prices higher now and recover market share later without worrying that rivals in Texas, Oklahoma and North Dakota will flood the market. But if Riyadh has miscalculated — and it’s got shale wrong before — the danger will be lower prices and production down the line.

According to Fortune, other OPEC ministers largely went along with the Saudi gamble on price increases, but “trouble may be brewing” because OPEC may have once again “underestimated its American rivals, who year after year produced more than most expected.”

Fortune quoted analysts who noted American production is lower at the moment mostly because U.S. companies want prices to increase as much as OPEC does, and “there’s nothing really stopping them” from ramping production up again after prices stabilize except for the heavy regulatory hand of President Joe Biden.

“Under pressure from shareholders, shale producers have promised restraint, putting profits before the growth they relentlessly pursued during the boom years. Although drilling has risen from the lows of 2020, it’s well below previous levels. In addition, President Joe Biden is trying to temper the worst excesses of the industry, including the indiscriminate natural gas flaring that’s a byproduct of shale’s success,” Fortune noted, greatly underselling how much damage Biden can do to an industry with the stroke of his pen.

Arab News talked to other analysts who noted energy demand is likely to increase as America and other developed economies emerge from coronavirus lockdown, although price increases from the surge in demand will likely be delayed by large backlogged inventories of oil that are ready to ship.



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