Beyond election fever: the echo chamber, cyber spies and Bob Dylan

And we’re off: a month from today, the UK’s general election will be held, and today’s tantalising frenzy of live blogging, polling, tweeting and sharpening up on the policies broken down for us into manageable chunks has reigned supreme. Today’s China news has, however, provided some interesting deviations.

  • The new-look ChinaGeeks has a humble post on commentating, blogging and the haunting effect of ‘echo chamber’ resonating through the Chinese Internet. Speaking of the blogging community of ‘China experts’, C. Custer reminds us that it is one of both students and teachers: “while our words may be interesting, they are never infallible,” he writes.
  • The Chinese Law Prof Blog has quoted an SCMP story detailing how Peking University has cut ties with high-profile women’s rights advocacy group, the Women’s Legal Research and Services Center:  “the social sciences faculty announced it was ‘cancelling’ four research institutes set up under its name, and that any further actions carried out by them would have nothing to do with the university,” SCMP reported. This has apparently unsettled China’s nascent NGO community, which fears more stringent controls.
  • Thought cyber attacks only affected Google? Think again. The Guardian reported today that China-based cyber spies were found to have stolen classified Indian security documents and obtained emails from the office of the Dalai Lama. However, the investigation carrying out the research stressed that the cyber-spying network may have largely  been run by individuals, and there was no evidence of involvement by the Chinese government. Plus, while we’re on the topic of ‘Chindia’, Ananth Krishnan has shed some light on the debates surrounding these two powers’ interactions.
  • A county in Jiangsu province has been collecting information on its citizens’ behaviour and dishing out corresponding credit scores to reflect their “trustworthiness and moral character”, Global Voices reported. Citizens with bad scores will be “dealt with severely and subject to monitoring,” whilst those with more positive scores may enjoy greater employment and educational benefits, along with Communist Party membership opportunities.
  • China Digital Times has featured Ai Weiwei’s eight-part documentary about his trip to Chengdu last year to testify on behalf of imprisoned activist Tan Zuoren. It includes the moments when Ai was beaten by police, due to which he sustained brain injuries and underwent emergency surgery in Germany.
  • Finally, different explanations for the cancellation of Bob Dylan’s China gigs have been hovering. While the popular view was that China feared the potentially subversive effect of Dylan’s music on its audience, Zachary Mexico gave The Atlantic’s James Fallows a different story: “it was the Taiwanese promoter’s outlandish financial requests that made the tour unrealistic,” he said.
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