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China Bans the Word 'Leica' on Social Media (gizmodo.com)
324 points by mmastrac 27 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 260 comments

Powerful ad.

My gut feeling is that there will be a day in the future where everything in China is going to boil-over just like any other totalitarian regimes in the past. It could be 20 years from now when Xi dies or some type of student uprising again, or could be from the HK/Taiwan situation.

The behavior of the Chinese government and as they call it "the hand of Beijing" has a self-propelling streisand effect, the more you clamp down, the more it leaks and at some point, it will boil over. Nationalism is tribalism in its glorified, patriotic form. On one hand, we have great men who strive to make the world a better place - journalists, scientists, mathematicians, teachers and community workers and on the other hand we have ugly human tendencies surfacing in a powerful form from politicians.

Every politician should listen to Jiddu Krishnamurthy's UN speech in 1985: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcga8ATBNh0

There rest of the world needs to fearlessly criticize Chinese censorship as it is only going to get worse. If the Chinese government is insecure from opening history books, hell even calling Xi Jingpin a Winnie-the-Pooh; that's not the kind of superpower I wish to see in this world.

The West is the outlier here. Most of the world has lived under dictatorships for most of history. China is a millenia-old civilization that has never been a democracy. The current regime may fall, but it is not written in the universe that it will progress towards anything resembling a Western democracy.

If I were playing the odds, I'd put money on democracy failing in the west rather than it rising in China in the next century.

That's true but most of the people who have lived have been relatively poor and ignorant. Empirically, there seems to be a transition point in development where democracy goes from making a country less stable to making it more stable and I've actually forgotten exactly what the level was but China will be past it soon if it isn't already. I really have to re-read Wars, Guns, and Votes.

> Empirically, there seems to be a transition point in development where democracy goes from making a country less stable to making it more stable

Even if that was the case for now (lets say e.g. reading or education made the masses harder to oppress), this doesn't mean other developments cannot outperform those effects in a different direction. Especially social media is a recent invention that seems to put a lot of power into the hands of very few. So far they don't seem to wield that power to drastically shape politics of our societies. At least not intentionally. But keeping it this way will be hard, since they either do something to prevent headlines like "A Genocide Incited on Facebook, With Posts From Myanmar’s Military" or have them attract the wrong kind of investor. Actually, the latter is probably impossible to avoid long-term, if the US broadcasting industry is something to go by.

The rising political divide in the US is an interesting upcoming case study. I don't see a lot that could revert course, so it will probably end as an anecdote for "less stable". The current US existing for that long is still a remarkable achievement. But we better use the knowledge we gain, since technological progress has made it unacceptable to have our societal systems become unstable every once in a while and needing to be reset violently.

Technically, China was a democracy for a brief period after the Xinhai Revolution at the start of the 20th century.

Democracy was also one of the major themes of the May Fourth Movement of 1919. In these decades, China was busy importing Western ideas because they believed that was the key to rejuvenate China.

The Communist Party eventually won power in China, but it was only following the Korean War that all hope was lost that China could transition to a democracy.

Still, the spectre of democracy remains. The Chinese Communist Party still talks about democracy positively sometimes and the Chinese constitution describes China as a democracy. They do this partly by ignoring what democracy means (the constitution also guarantees "freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration"), and partly by redefining what democracy means. It's Western-style democracy that the CCP treats as an unambiguously bad and dangerous idea.

>The current regime may fall, but it is not written in the universe that it will progress towards anything resembling a Western democracy.

Nowhere in his comment did he say it was. He simply said the situation wold "boil-over"

The West was never a democracy until it suddenly was one. Heads rolled.

Heads rolled in France, but that lead to the totalitarian Jacobin regime. Across the channel in Britain, democracy had been growing slowly since the signing of the Magna Carta began the process of subjecting power to the rule of law, divesting the monarch of the claim to absolute power and distributing that power among institutions such as parliament.

"Never" is an overstatement, since both Rome and Greece had some forms of democracy.

Also, fwiw, the west is the one that can't stop it's out-of-control careening toward climate catastrophe. China's handling it much better.

I'm sorry but China shows no sign of reducing emissions: https://static01.nyt.com/images/2014/09/22/blogs/dotglobcarb...

Also, have you been to Beijing? The smog is so dense that sometimes you don't see 50m ahead ...

The only thing they're doing is trying to build cheaper electric vehicles.

I’m in Beijing right now and it’s nowhere as bad as you describe (which is how it was ten years ago). Electric cars and scooters are everywhere. China really seems to be trying to get their environmental shit together, it’s just a big project that takes time

I was there yesterday for a few hours and the air looked terrible. didn’t check the actual numbers, but wow was the air ugly.

It depends heavily on the weather, and on the season. No wind -> worse smog, more coal heating (in the winter) -> also worse smog. It does seem to be improving though:


That's completely false

>My gut feeling is that there will be a day in the future where everything in China is going to boil-over just like any other totalitarian regimes in the past.

Isn't that what happened in the referenced photo? And the regime murdered the protesters and put in place a draconian censorship system to avoid it happening again.

Yes, although, the thing about failure and success is that you can have an unbounded number of failures but you only need one success.

As westerners I feel this is natural to think, and makes sense to us, but having been in China several times I'm not so sure.

The value systems in Asia are far different, and people are much more collective where as we are a more individualist society with different thoughts about individual freedom.

I doubt China could have become as strong as it is today without it's long history of authoritarian regimes, and I feel that many in China believe this to be true. The growing dissent may not be a sign of what's to come but may simply be the growing pains of a totalitarian regime moving into the 21st century. I do not agree with Chinese government but I never underestimate it. There are some smart people working to keep over a billion people under control and productive, and I'm sure they will ultimately find a way that keeps them like that, and can be accepted by it's citizens.

As a Korean I absolutely disagree. Korea has embraced Chinese philosophy in the past, sometimes to such a degree that it was more Confucian than China itself. Yet South Koreans are as zealous about democracy as any western nation.

In fact, there was a time when our own dictator and his followers used exactly the same argument, saying that "Western Democracy" does not fit Asia's unique culture, and we should instead implement "Korean Style Democracy", i.e., authoritarianism. I view them as traitors of our own country and our own culture.

In fact, one of the core tenets of Confucianism is that the monarch is not an absolute ruler but is bound by moral duty. As a classical Confucian text says: 君者舟也, 庶人者水也, 水則載舟, 水則覆舟.

"The monarch is a boat, and people are the water. Water floats the boat, but water also sinks the boat."

That's a fantastic quote. Thanks for sharing it.

This is not a very compelling argument - "They're different from us, therefore we are not in a position to comment." There is a tremendous understanding, analysis and comprehension of totalitarianism in the west. Even in popular culture, say 1984 by George Orwell.

Analyzing widely differing cultures and peoples under the unitary framework of “totalitarianism” isn’t terribly compelling either. The Chinese government has shown remarkable staying power, and it’s important to analyze the ways/reasons it might continue to hold power, since that seems to be a quite likely outcome.

The intuition that western liberal democracy is some sort of inevitable wave is very possibly just an artifact of the US winning WWII.

> The Chinese government has shown remarkable staying power

They are huge, filled with uneducated hungry people. Isn't too remarkable when the government's tactic boils down to "kill dissenters & feed the rest".

It seems like an ironic blind spot to me. Western liberals claim to be all about tolerance and diversity and multiculturalism, yet seem to have difficulty conceiving of the idea that maybe some other cultures genuinely don't want to turn into Western Liberal Democracies.

Tolerance and diversity normally stops at "it's cool we're doing things differently, as long as nobody gets hurt". Why would you be tolerant of people being abused?

That's a good question to ask police and local government officials in places like Rotherham.

I'm not sure what point you're trying to make. Would you like to expand on the situation?

Blowing that dog whistle hard aren’t you.

Maybe, maybe not. The starting philosophical base of Western Liberal Democracy is that individuals matter, and they have natural rights. That's a compelling narrative.

What does it even mean for a culture to want something?

Only individuals can want something. Societies can't want something; the Earth can't want something; a company or government can't want something.

It's clear that there are individuals in China who do want tolerance. And it's even clearer that there are government officials who are scared of what individuals might start wanting if exposed to ideas of tolerance and democracy.

Saying that the culture wants something is kind of a shorthand. It's more like a function of exactly what every individual in the population wants, how badly they want it, and how they go about ranking various things they want that sort of contradict each other.

I'm going to just skip tolerance here, because it's a complex idea not entirely related.

Let's use Democracy. There are definitely some people in China who want Democracy. There are everywhere. It's not remarkable that some people want it, but the numbers are the important part. If 2% of the people want it, then it's never going to happen. If 40% of the people want it, then it might move that way soon. Thing is, while 2% is a tiny minority, it's still objectively a lot of people. 2% can get you a bunch of activist groups and busy-looking protests and that sort of thing. It's much easier than you might think to look at a 2% movement that you personally agree with and believe that it's a mainstream view, the future of the country, etc, when it actually isn't.

Now that's just an example. Personally, I have no idea what the approval rating of Democratic ideas is in China. Tricky thing about totalitarian countries that practice censorship, it's hard to get an idea of what people really think. I'd like to think that it's a mainstream, growing idea. Clearly the Government is indeed afraid of it enough to go out of their way to censor it. But I worry that we may be fooling ourselves, and it has no real traction.

I would also point out that we don't have entirely clean hands either when it comes to tolerating 2%-size political movements advocating for radical changes to the structure of our government and society. Plenty of examples to pick from, no matter what your political persuasion is. I'm not saying we're as bad as them or anything - they're much, much further down that rabbit hole. I'm just saying that it's much easier than you think to ignore and excuse such abuses when they're against something that you don't like.

Google "The Paradox of Tolerance," if you're allowed to.

Some truths really are self-evident.

I have read it. If you have a point you want to make, you're welcome to make it.

If you didn't get the point when Karl Popper explained it, I doubt I'll be any more effective at conveying it here.

Including myself, there's probably many other people reading this who have not read it and would like one or two of its salient points.

The basic idea is that tolerating totalitarianism is self-defeating, even when done to prop up one's fondest notions of cultural relativism.

This is a good read for the notion. I found it a good starting point when I dug into this a little while ago.


I'm generally happy to write walls of text to debate ideas, but I'm not very inclined to do it for people who just drop links. I will however drop a link of my own:


TL; DR: Everyone hates their outgroup, and everybody has one, including you and me. Isn't it rather convenient to convince yourself that everyone in your outgroup is intolerant totalitarians, so that you can continue to hate them and justify any kind of tactics against them while also patting yourself on the back at how tolerant you are? (The 'you' there doesn't mean anyone in particular, just a general statement).

Tolerance means not hating your enemies, your outgroup, and is genuinely hard and pretty rare. Everybody likes their friends and allies, and there's nothing particularly special or virtuous about it.

> Isn't it rather convenient to convince yourself that everyone in your outgroup is intolerant totalitarians

That's a pretty extreme strawman. I disagree with lots of outgroups, and I only call a couple of them totalitarians.

If someone hates all of the outgroup, they are almost certainly hypocritical and lying to themselves about being tolerant.

If someone hates none of the outgroup, we can agree they're virtuous and special, sure.

If someone hates 15% of the outgroup for specific reasons, that's probably okay. It doesn't automatically imply that they are secretly intolerant. Most people that claim to prioritize tolerance are here, and most of them are telling the truth.

I think we have a disagreement on the definition of the term "outgroup". The article I linked goes into more detail, but I'd say that an outgroup is defined by being the group that you hate, not necessarily just those who are different from you in some way. It doesn't make sense to talk about what percentage of them you hate when it's defined as being the people that you hate. There's no test to determine exactly what it is, but you can sometimes tell by people's behavior. Tolerance, then, is determined by behaving respectfully and with consideration to those you hate.

And perhaps that statement was an oversimplification, but as I understand it, that's essentially the point of the Paradox of Tolerance. If you had to sum that up in a sentence or two, how else would you do it?

If it's defined as the people you hate, then size matters a huge amount. If you only hate and would discriminate against two people, then you're amazingly tolerant.

The paradox of tolerance is not particularly difficult to deal with. You prioritize the preservation of as much tolerance as possible. If someone is trying to reduce the levels of tolerance in the world by a large amount, it's important to fight them, even if it means minor short term intolerance. And even then you tolerate them in all other ways.

The argument was not that they are different, but that they are more collectively minded and put less value in "individual freedom". Totalitarianism seems an obviously bad thing wrt to individual freedom, but if that is not so important, it may not matter as much as we westerners think it should.

> but that they are more collectively minded and put less value in "individual freedom"

Chinese people aren't drones. They don't have a hivemind to tell them what is good for them. Sacrifice for the country might be a thing during Mao's period, but I am not seeing it in nowadays' young generation.

On the contrary, I think Chinese people believe less in the collective good. If the problem isn't your own problem, then it is everyone's problem, then it is no one's problem. That is why in so many situations, government becomes that last resort to figure stuff out.

'The mountains are tall, and the emperor is afar', as the old Chinese sayings goes. The ruthless authoritarianism and primitive freedom co-exist in China's case.

There is pressure to conform, but only because not doing so, there will be pain. 'The bird who extends out its head most gets shot first', as they always say.

Confucianism might be what the world, even China itself thinks about itself, how it is ruled upon. But Fajia (Legalism) is what actually gets executed in real life.

It's hard to believe in the collective good when you haven't achieved basic economic security for yoursef. You see this everywhere - charity begins at home. And even "putting value in individual freedom", in a broadly political sense, is something that requires a sympathetic and collectively-minded outlook.

Well, maybe they're "more collectively minded" because they've been living under totalitarian regimes for millennia. And even if we accept (which I do) that some Western-style society is better, getting there would be hugely nontrivial.

In particular, getting there would arguably involve considerable chaos. And so it's not that hard for those in control to play on people's fears about that. After all, Westerners have tried to impose democracy on China before, and it didn't work out very well.

Back in the 60s, China was on track to be North Korea times 10^4 to 10^6. But Kissinger managed to convince Nixon to intervene in a constructive and noninvasive way. That clearly has worked, so what we need is arguably to stay on that track.

On the other hand, isolating South Africa arguably did hasten the end of Apartheid. And if China undertakes full-on genocide against the Uyghurs, that may be the only moral path. But orders of magnitude more dangerous. And when we add global climate change to the mix, it'll be insane.

It's more collectively minded as many countries ended up with an figurehead emperor who acts as a symbol of the state, giving everyone something to bind themselves to even if they hate their local king.

South Africa really the best example of a 'successful' intervention?

Have there been any truly successful forceful interventions?

It depends on the definition of success for the involved parties. It doesn't always mean full captulation.

I meant more about long-term improved situation.

I suppose that you could claim Germany or Japan as long-term successes. But the costs were immense.

What do you expect to happen when their economy has its version of the great depression or the Japanese lost decades?

That's unlikely to happen unless the PRC loses a major war or becomes much more corrupt. They're ideologically and politically quite capable of re-engineering their financial system so it continues to allocate resources as they see fit, and they're not beholden to a great power with misaligned interests, the way Japan is.

> therefore we are not in a position to comment.

I did not read anything of the sort in that response. It stated that respondent disagreed with your conclusion and explained why. Are you conflating a difference of opinion with suppression of free expression? That does not seem a healthy attitude to have.

> As westerners

Are the actions of the current Chinese dictatorship praised or at least scene as normal by Koreans, Japanese, or Taiwanese?


The culture of repression, and a hair trigger to stamp out any unfavorable comment on a regime is a sign of bad governance. Where will it end? Ten years ago, it was safe to criticize the actions of the regime, so long as you accepted that the government as a whole legitimate. Now you can no longer criticize the top-level, as its just one man. Will this trickle down till no one can speak ill of the government at all, lest they be seen as speaking ill of its dictator?

Honestly, the few times I've tried to bring it up with Chinese students at USA universities they have all been blasé about it. They have all been, "that's just the way it is."

That could be because they just don't want to talk about it. Or because they are mostly from rich families and so they really don't care. Or only kids from loyal families are allowed to go to school overseas.

Or perhaps their English isn’t good enough or they think type are trying to lecture them?

At least one person I talked to was very fluent in English.

TIP: find a student born and raised in Beijing/Tianjing, they are much more likely to talk about politics. My father’s favorite story was about drinking with the student leader at the night before 89’s event happened.

No one wants to upset a good thing, that being in the United States of America.

I have asked many as well. I believe it is partly cultural pressure to conform, but mostly because they all have family back in China still and care about what happens to them.

I have also heard, but have not been able to verify, that any Chinese student who studies abroad must become a member of the Communist Party.

"Chinese student who studies abroad must become a member of the Communist Party." . The chinese international students in US, have to become member of the Chinese Students Association. The association is a front for the Chinese govt via their Embassy to monitor the students.


> that any Chinese student who studies abroad must become a member of the Communist Party

Not true. Being a Chinese student who studied in the US in the past, I never joined, or was asked to join the Communist Party. In fact, the majority of Chinese students in the US that I know are not Communist Party members. A passport (and a valid visa) is all you need to go abroad.

I wonder if a comparison to how US students would react to mentions of Kent State or Rodney King or OWS would be enlightening. There's obviously a big difference in severity, but given student opposition to some of the fubdamentals of freedom of speech in recent years, maybe we can learn what cultural differences and commonalities drive state- and self-censorship and thus better address the root problems.

The key difference is whether or not people in the society are allowed to discuss the incident, or if doing so is heavily censored.

You know, it's funny. I originally planned to post that comment under a throwaway, but I thought it was ironic that I was afraid of censorship on an American forum. I decided HN readers would be mature enough to handle honest conversation about how to handle a problem that affects all of us in every country. Guess I was wrong

Censorship in America is vast and pernicious. It takes many forms: taboos, shunning, algorithms, downvotes, shadowbans, no-platforming, heckling, harassment, must-show news segments, advertiser demands, textbook authoring committees, etc.

There are ongoing movements on US college campuses and ongoing development in US tech companies that will undo every bit of progress that was fought for in the free speech movement.

This very thread shows a video on an American site being removed because of Chinese complaints.

I am not trying to detract from the importance of Chinese censorship by muddying the waters. This is not whataboutism. We are standing on a sinking ship ourselves, and if we don't start fixing the damage to our own freedoms, we will sink right along with the rest of the world. We must solve our own problems if we are to have any hope of helping others with theirs.

I did not ask them about Tienanmen Square but about censorship in general so it is a little different.

I am a college professor and I think student opposition to freedom of speech is way way way overblown.

What would you expect an overseas US college student to say or not say about Rodney King?

Whatever the individual US student themselves actually thought about Rodney King and all of the social impacts and causation surrounding those terrible events in Los Angeles.

This is in fact the critical difference between totalitarian society and free society.

Totalitarian regime in North Korea seems pretty stable after 70 years. Ancient Egypt was extremely totalitarian regime yet its worst period lasted centuries.

Don't compare 3000BC to internet times.

You're right, once science has advanced to the point where human lifetimes can be arbitrarily extended, totalitarian regimes will never need to experience the trauma of power transfer, and will continue without end forever.

Another factor is surveillance. Government state in first-world countries can spy over every citizen right now with millions of video cameras and cellphones, finding outliers with big data technologies and AI algorithms. So-called terrorists. Third-world countries don't possess those technologies yet, but they are coming and probably will rent software (so first-world countries will have even more data outside of their borders).

I can't imagine how someone would organize protests under real totalitarian control, when every step is recorded and you can't hide. They will be arrested pretty soon. So 21-century will allow totalitarian regimes to thrive, unless they are not friends with closer supercountry, in that case of course they will be overthrown and replaced with loyal ones.

The fall of Ceaușescu or going back further Robespierre being two examples

> My gut feeling is that there will be a day in the future where everything in China is going to boil-over just like any other totalitarian regimes in the past.

I think the 1989 incident was such an event. It almost boiled over. But what happened is that regime learned from its mistakes and it learned to control its temperature better i.e. introduced market economy.

They've sort of made this pact with the people "you don't ask us about what happened in 1989, but in exchange you get to participate in world's capitalist economy".

Another sad realization could be that capitalism and democracy don't really have to coexist. It seemed for a while that democracy would follow after enough prosperity and market economy took over. But it hasn't happened in China. And we might be surprised that capitalism might even work better under a totalitarian regime.

It’s tempting to think we have x-ray vision into the true narrative of world events, but isn’t that a little naive?

*great people

In an unfortunate act of self-censorship, the video has been now removed from YouTube.

Update: while the video linked by the article has been removed, here it is: https://youtu.be/dQpKcw-n330

"Self-censorship" is much scarier to me than the "traditional" censorship.

It's terrible when a government takes away your voice. But it's so much worse when people do it voluntarily to avoid the consequences.

(in this case, of course Leica is a business that doesn't want to lose a market with billions of people, but still... Leicas have been used for a hundred years to expose this type of nonsense, and now they're doing this...)

If Leica wasn't run by a spineless board of directors then they would have the power to pursue principle instead of profit.

Too bad no one supposes it worthwhile to form a backlash boycott against Leica's toadying stance with China.

“The Empire's got something worse than whips all right. It's got obedience. Whips in the soul. They obey anyone who tells them what to do. Freedom just means being told what to do by someone different.”

From Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett

After 1989 there was some debate about how the free world should deal with the Chinese state, and basically "free trade will lead to change" won. We should've been more specific about which side was going to change.

In case that goes offline, in the interest of combating censorship, I've mirrored that copy of the ad to IPFS. Here's the hash:


If you don't have your own IPFS node, you can watch it through any of the public gateways like this:


> The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it. -John Gilmore

apo 27 days ago [flagged]

The Chinese are innovating totalitarianism faster than any other country. Take this, for example:

> ... When undergraduate students at Peking University, which was at the center of the incident, were shown copies of the iconic photograph [of Tank Man] 16 years afterwards, they were "genuinely mystified." One of the students said that the image was "artwork." It is noted in the documentary Frontline: The Tank Man that he whispered to the student next to him "89," which led the interviewer to surmise that the student may have concealed his knowledge of the event.


The fact that Leica, a foreign company, is now apologizing about the ad (and has deleted it from their YouTube account) shows just how effective the Chinese government has become at their trade. From the article:

> “Leica Camera AG must, therefore, distance itself from the content shown in the video and regrets any misunderstandings or false conclusions that may have been drawn,” Emily Anderson, a spokesperson for Leica, told SCMP.

That reminds me of an interview with a Chinese esports team I saw at a tournament a few months ago. The interviewer was doing a light-hearted game where they showed twitch emotes to the Chinese team and asked what they thought the emotes meant. One of the emotes was a frog (the creator of the game goes by IceFrog), and the Chinese translator said that the players weren't allowed to say anything about the emote. We later found out that they were afraid to say anything because the nickname of the former president of China was "Toad King", and the players were worried that they'd get in trouble if they said anything about the frog emote.

Fasinating, I never heard about that one before.


searching "膜蛤" on baidu.com yields zero results.

Similar to how "Winnie the Pooh" is censored in Chinese social media. Because, a meme became popular comparing Xi Jinping to the character. https://www.businessinsider.in/Pictures-of-Winnie-the-Pooh-a...

You get the whole thing wrong.

In China, Toad King Warship (膜蛤文化) is very popular in some people, espcially young ones. There are tones of memes and internet jokes around that and obviously nobody gets into trouble because of it.

I don't know why your interviewer told you he was afraid. A wild guess is that he was one of those young people who loves Toad King Warship, and your ice frog reminded him of it. But it's hard to explain it to a foreigner (or he find it inappropriate to mention in an interview. it's a sub-culture anyway). So he just say he cannot say about it. As you further asked for reason, he gives you the answer you have in mind, by acting as victim of surveillance state (another culture thing).


As a symbol of racist misogynist hate of marginalized groups, not a statement against a totalitarian leader. What exactly are you comparing?

Perhaps comparing how different cultures dramatically interpret or react to images, and how we often view the behavior of other cultures in this respect to be odd or silly, while our unique behavior is based in rational, fact-based logic. But that's just a guess.

Take your interpretation for example, am I mistaken to conclude that you believe all who post that frog are both misogynist and racist, or did I guess wrong? If so, could you clarify?

I did not say that. Not really interested in clarifying for you here, sorry. Not was the poster I replying to making a good-faith philosophical inquiry of the sort you’re suggesting.

Not for talking about it.

It depends on what you say about it. If you say you think it's funny then you could get in trouble with some people.

You can always find someone willing to jump to conclusions. It's easy to have an in-depth discussion about the history, symbology, use, the way meaning and irony are twined together... and if someone lowers their opinion of you after that then oh well, either there's no pleasing them or you earned it from your opinions. It's a far cry from having something that can't even be brought up, ever.

Yeah, but this is about when an interviewer with a camera asks for a quick comment about the meme. There isn't time to have an in-depth discussion about it. And it's difficult to be put on the spot like that with a camera in your face, and you know that whatever you say, people can replay that clip over and over again and spread it about the internet to criticize you. To avoid the potential backlash, declining to talk about it could be a smart move.

The man you seem to be talking about was a proud white supremacist that got punched in the face.

It's interesting how on the internet those in positions of power get described as the real victims.

I wasn't referring to any specific person.

The closest person I was referring to is the player in the "Chinese esports team" that dx87 was talking about. Or possibly a hypothetical white player on who could have been put in a similar situation by an interviewer. I guess they have a little bit of power due to their position on a top team, but I don't consider that to be much power. I don't consider them victims either, just humans who have their own set of goals and fears, that I can try to analyze.

I believe this person was referring to the esports team not neo nazis

What happens if you show them a photo of a Llama, and ask about the Grass Mud Horse?

That means you’re intentionally trying to get them in trouble?

This is as asinine as getting someone to say “bomb” at airport security.

Right, I got it, here in the free world we should totally avoid Winnie the Pooh, Llamas, frogs, river crabs, or other things that are seen as anti-central-authority/anti-government by the powers in Beijing.




That's not at all what he said....

Leica distancing itself from the ad isn't a good look.

The company is not very relevant for actual "working" photographers today (I use one, but tellingly photography isn't a real job for me), but it once was and at the time they stood up to their own homegrown totalitarian regime by helping jews escape Germany disguised as transferring employees.

The ad itself is supposed to be a tribute to photo journalists, highlighting the risks they're prepared to take in pursuit of the truth. I can hardly capture in words how incongruent Leica's actions are with their message.

Like many “classic” camera companies (Polaroid, Voigtländer, etc), “Leica” today is a name controlled by various holding entities and private equity firms. While it might bear the same name, it has very little in common with the original company (the one that saved the lives of hundreds of Jewish employees).

This is not actually true. I mean, it's not under the ownership of the Leitz family, but it's basically steered around by Kaufmann and is more or less in continuity with its past (to the point that they moved back to Wetzlar).

Voigtlander is a brandname used by Cosina.

duxup 27 days ago [flagged]

They've even got totalitarian apps:


>Schools are shaming students with low app scores. Government offices are holding study sessions and forcing workers who fall behind to write reports criticizing themselves. Private companies, hoping to curry favor with party officials, are ranking employees based on their use of the app and awarding top performers the title of “star learner.”

>Many employers now require workers to submit daily screenshots documenting how many points they have earned.

How long until we see weaker nations require the same of their own people? Participating in the firewall, etc?

And that app is only used by / required for (? not sure) CCP party members. I know this because I have confirmed with personal Chinese acquaintances, including one party member and several non-members. While many Chinese nationals are party members, the vast majority aren't, so the app has nothing to do with them. The article doesn't mention that at all.

Also, I was told by the one who actually use the app that many of the quiz questions in the app are just about general scientific/cultural knowledge and stuff; only a small percentage involves current events (censored or not) or politics. I find that pointless, but again NY Times chose to cherry-pick the content here to paint a more horrifying picture.

It's intentionally or unintentionally (I don't know which) incomplete or cherry-picked coverage like this that makes me not trust Western coverage of China, Russia, or any other "enemy" nation at all.

If you read it, the article clearly states it goes beyond party members. They did not forget or not mention that fact... they claim it is something else entirely.

I did read it, and just read it again. I don't see where "it clearly states it goes beyond party members", but maybe I missed it, so a quotation is welcome. The relevant descriptions include "Tens of millions of Chinese workers, students and civil servants...", "Many employers now require workers to submit daily screenshots..." but those don't really allude to party-affiliation or lack thereof (as far as I know college students are allowed to join the party, and I suppose certain workplaces like government offices might consist entirely of party members).

The article does say there are >100M users of the app, and according to Wikipedia, CCP has ~100M members, so the numbers appear in line.

More detailed anecdata: the aforementioned acquaintance who use the app is employed at a Chinese university, and according to him they do have an institution-wide rank (among employees; students not included); party members are ranked, but non-party members are not (because they're not required to "study", as I already pointed out). He even told me he's ranked at around 30% at the moment, lol.

Also, I find the claim "Study the Great Nation has become the most downloaded app on Apple’s digital storefront in China" in the article pretty unbelievable. No way it could beat WeChat, Weibo, etc., even if it does have 100 million users.


This is completely unfounded speculation not found in that article or in any other writing on the topic(s) (of social credit scores and the study the great nation app). Or possibly it's an attempt at some dark humor through hyperbole. Either way, I see a lot of these sort of extreme claims on HN whenever China comes up, and I think we'd all do better to discuss what's actually happening rather than our wildest fears. This type of speculation really muddies the waters and makes it hard to have a thoughtful discussion about anything China-related on here, and China is a big, complicated, important topic right now that deserves careful consideration. It also risks undermining legitimate criticisms of Chinese policy, or at least making them less believable, which I assume is the exact opposite of the intent of the poster here.

Consider that already, purchases for mobility and communication are restricted based on social credit scores:





There are official confirmations


They also officially admit they can:

Throttle your internet speed

Ban your kids from some schools

Banning you from certain jobs

Taking your pets away


I think that predicting possible restricting ability to buy food is not “unfounded speculation” but rather pointing out something that can literally be one step away. If you help someone with a low social credit score who has been restricted, your score also lowers. The AI can track where you’ve been and who you helped. Uyghur markets are gone. Their freedom of movement has been restricted as they are in the re-education centers for years.

Are you really taking issue with the suggestion that food can be next, how much hyperbole is it given the scale of what happened in 2018 and 2019 thus far alone?

I don't want to have a big debate over what will and what won't happen in China in the future as I see you and I are working from very different assumptions and have very different approaches for extrapolating into the future. I'm just taking issue with the form of your previous comment, which took your personal fear of a Chinese policy that has not been suggested by the Chinese government, any China scholars, or even the most fearmongering clickbait hungry US reporter, and stated it as fact like so:

"Extreme claim not based in fact, stated as fact"

[link, implied to support the claim but doesn't]

When you do this, some percentage of people are going to take what you're saying at face value and believe that this is actual policy, especially since you seem to have provided a source (even though clicking on that source reveals it to be a paper thin cnet article that provides no support for what you're saying).

Frustratingly, you're doing it again here - you say "purchases for mobility and communication are restricted by social credit scores", and then you provide two links - one for cellphones and one for trains - that just say you need to use IDs to sign up for mobile plans and to buy train tickets in China, describing policies that existed long prior to social credit scores and have nothing to do with social credit scores. Those are also policies that exist in a lot of other countries, the first link you provide even says this in the first sentence:

"...joining many European and Asian countries in curbing the anonymous use of mobile technology."

Also, at least in my personal experience, you need an ID to buy a train ticket in the US as well. Also your source for that is a comment in a trip advisor thread about needing an ID to buy bus tickets, not train tickets, and consists entirely of people speculating and things they've heard second hand - a truly horrible source if ever I've seen one, and not in support of what you're saying even if it was a good source.

Without going through it, as I think it's pretty clear at this point that you're being very sloppy with your sources, that business insider article doesn't say what you're saying it says either.

Even looking past the many false claims here completely unsupported by the links you're providing, you can't just list a few things you don't like that seem "unfree" to you and then say you think that predicting keeping people that don't use an app regularly enough from buying food is a reasonable prediction. Or rather, go ahead and say it if you want but please just make it clear that it's your prediction rather than a fact like you did above, and be careful that the links you provide as supporting sources actually relate to what you're saying.

And please, please, please, be careful with how you summarize linked content - the way you do it here and appear to be doing it in your previous post is so inaccurate and so mixed with your own predictions and fears that I'm giving you a lot of benefit of the doubt by saying it's "sloppy" rather than "intentionally deceptive".

Well of course it’s my prediction, and a flippant one also, but one that’s designed to draw attention to the problem, the same way that 1984 was designed to draw attention to certain policies.

We’re talking about a country that has extrajudicial detention facilities to detain for years and re-educate huge numbers of people who committed no crime, based not on due process but on their religion alone, including Falun Gong and Uyghurs and probably some underground Churches and Buddhists. They probably already have the food-based control I’m talking about. I mean, the trajectory and overton window is REALLY worrying. What I said is coming to be within that window.


Perhaps you are exaggerating a little. As a middle manager, I had to go to some of those trainings. We did not have to write essays but we did have to answer multiple choice tests with questions that were so loaded we couldn't help but laugh. Nobody got fired, but there was a note put in our files about how compliant we were with the training.

I've been to such training, but never heard of what you're talking about happening.

fall in line citizen or face the consequences of your deviation!

> ... When undergraduate students at Peking University, which was at the center of the incident, were shown copies of the iconic photograph [of Tank Man] 16 years afterwards, they were "genuinely mystified." One of the students said that the image was "artwork." It is noted in the documentary Frontline: The Tank Man that he whispered to the student next to him "89," which led the interviewer to surmise that the student may have concealed his knowledge of the event.

Reminds me of this: https://vimeo.com/44078865

Money quote: "Which unit are you from?"

they were "genuinely mystified." One of the students said that the image was "artwork."

Thats just spooky close to the "It doesn't look like anything to me" from Westworld. How long until they really don't see the man and the tank at all?

> Leica, a foreign company, is now apologizing about the ad (and has deleted it from their YouTube account)

Joining Mercedes Benz in that particular hall of shame:


Along with the airlines regarding Taiwan.


MB sales on Western markets didn't drop because of that, so could we say that was a rational business decision by MB.

Shame refers to morality and as such to the personal responsibility of individuals.

> There was a widespread conviction that it is impossible to withstand temptation of any kind, that none of us could be trusted or even be expected to betrustworthy when the chips are down, that to be tempted and to be forced are almost the same, whereas in the words of Mary McCarthy, who first spotted this fallacy: "If somebody points a gun at you and says,'Kill your friend or I will kill you,' he is tempting you, that is all." And while a temptation where one's life is at stake may be a legal excuse for a crime, it certainly is not a moral justification.


> It is fortunate and wise that no law exists for sins of omission and no human court is called up onto sit in judgment over them. But it is equally fortunate that there exists still one institution in society in which it is well-nigh impossible to evade issues of personal responsibility, where all justifications of a nonspecific, abstract nature - from the Zeitgeist down to the Oedipus complex - break down, where not systems or trends or original sin are judged, but men of flesh and blood like you and me, whose deeds are of course still human deeds but who appear before a tribunal because they have broken some law whose maintenance we regard as essential for the integrity of our common humanity. Legal and moral issues are by no means the same, but they have a certain affinity with each other because they both presuppose the power of judgment.


> What mattered in our early, nontheoretical education in morality was never the conduct of the true culprit of whom even then no one in his right mind could expect other than the worst. Thus we were outraged, but not morally disturbed, by the bestial behavior of the stormtroopers in the concentration camps and the torture cellars of the secret police, and it would have been strange indeed to grow morally indignant over the speeches of the Nazi big wigs inpower, whose opinions had been common knowledge for years. [..] The moral issue arose only with the phenomenon of "coordination," that is, not with fear-inspired hypocrisy, but with this very early eagerness not to miss the train of History, with this, as it were, honest overnight change of opinion that befell a great majority of public figures in all walks of life and all ramifications of culture, accompanied, as it was, by an incredible ease with which life long friendships were broken and discarded. In brief, what disturbed us was the behavior not of our enemies but of our friends, who had done nothing to bring this situation about. They were not responsible for the Nazis, they were only impressed by the Nazi success and unable to pit their own judgment against the verdict of History, as they read it. Without taking into account the almost universal breakdown, not of personal responsibility, but of personal judgment in the early stages of the Nazi regime, it is impossible to understand what actually happened.

-- Hannah Arendt, "Personal Responsibility Under Dictatorship"

China is a totalitarian country. Its not a democracy so there is no point criticizing them for the lack of democracy but its democracies that must be held accountable, yet we do not see that right from Snowden, Assange and Manning to a culture of surveillance, torture, war crimes, secret courts and processes and border agents demanding to go through your personal papers.

You can't claim to be a democracy and do these things by definition yet not only are 'democracies' doing these things openly but we have people who seem less outraged by what's happening in their own 'democratic' backyards and more outraged by what a totalitarian country is doing.

This lacks credibility and seems more like a way to score political points than out of any genuine concern for democracy or human rights.

To be clear, there's the Chinese government and then the Chinese people. The Chinese government is criticized when it abuses the Chinese people. The idea that the Chinese government cannot or should not be criticized, is to say that it is acceptable to abuse the Chinese people.

While they may live in another country, they still deserve all of the rights and liberties that all human beings deserve.

The Chinese government should be criticized when they do things that infringe on the natural human rights of the Chinese people... just as any other person or government should also be criticized.

We could have and still can apply economic pressure, but let’s face it, if the EU and US even tried, multinationals would complain it puts companies in peril or economic disadvantage. Before allowing them into MFN status or WTO, we had much better leverage, but that was wasted.

China does claim to be a democracy in its constitution, though:

Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China [...] the Chinese people of all nationalities will continue [...] to turn China into a socialist country that is prosperous, powerful, democratic and culturally advanced.


Of course the literal text of the constitution is completely ignored in practice, but criticizing that doesn't automatically lack credibility.

The word 'democracy' has been used in two incompatible senses.

In the West, we see democracy as a means of limiting the excesses of power. As Karl Popper noted, 'democracy' is not so much the answer to the question "who should rule?", as to the question "how do we prevent bad rulers ruling absolutely?". When 'democracy' is taken to imply the first answer, it is seen as the grounds of total legitimacy for the ruler. It is simply a substitute for the divine right of kings. In the second case, the ruler seen as having limited legitimacy, subject to the rule of law, of criticism, even ridicule, and of lawful challenge from other potential rulers.

When totalitarian states called themselves 'Democratic People's Republics' they were not so much lying as using the term 'democracy' in the first sense above. They were signaling that their governments had a legitimate claim to absolute power on the grounds that they were the expression of Rousseau's 'general will'. Those who clashed with the state were not seen as rebels against the ruler, but as 'enemies of the people'.

That's very insightful comment. I'd never thought about it that way. Thank you.

Adding some personal anecdata, Singapore has been having a large influx of Chinese students for the past couple of decades and I have spoken with a few who are adamant that Tiananmen is made up because they ‘don’t know anyone who has actually been through it’.

I bet 10-15 years ago the Tianamen video would be undeniable proof.

But now with deepfakes and other video editing, it wouldn't be that crazy for an average person in China to simply not believe the video was real if their government universally denies it.

Are you speaking to them in Mandarin or English?

I find when I speak in Mandarin, and in a nonjudgmental manner, they all know about it.

Of course they all say the protest started due to labor reform issues and not because of democracy.

It's pathetic that companies are giving in to that pressure

> "genuinely mystified." ... "artwork."

It's all about plausible deniability. Funnily enough, that's exactly why censorship doesn't actually work - these things are precisely what people would say if they knew about the picture and its significance, but wanted to make an outer impression that they don't. I think it's quite possible that the Chinese nationalists "protesting" Leica's shameful, anti-Chinese campaign are playing a very similar game, even while clearly hinting that they do respect the government's authority. These things are not what they seem to be, there's a lot of subtlety involved.

Oh, it works. The objective is to dissolve the bonds between people is dissolved that would allow them to collectively organize and resist. If everybody pretends they don't know, even if everybody else knows they do know, for all practical purposes, the objective of censorship is accomplished.


"Collectively organize and resist"? That's really not what Chinese politics looks like, either today or in the foreseeable future. It's not just that the vast majority of Chinese are quite apathetic about politics (though they definitely are) - most of them nowadays think the government is actually doing a pretty good job, all things considered. And they're even less inclined to think that rocking the boat in any way would be a good idea. Now, these overtly-expressed positions might change, and even quite suddenly (that's just about the only difference censorship makes - you're not going to see any gradual shifts or impending warning signs), but only if there's some sort of crisis that prompts such a change; they're not going to change on their own.

> It's not just that the vast majority of Chinese are quite apathetic about politics (though they definitely are)

What? You have a source on this? Last I checked, people were jumping out of buildings to commit suicide so the gov put nets around the bottom. Things may have gotten better, but they are far from the ideal anyone wants to live in. I think the "apathy" you're referring to is actually "resignation" to the fact that they feel they can't do anything about the problem. Their country is dying off, and all they can do is watch. Miserably sad. :..(

That’s like saying, “the last I checked, Americans were shooting up schools, so there must be something wrong with democracy.”

Personal economic issues aren’t always caused by politics.

Many countries have suicide. What has that to do with suicide victims' opinions of the national government?

You're basically just stating that the objective has already been achieved (not exactly a surprise with decades of murdering dissidents), and I never claimed otherwise.

I'm curious as to what percentage of the US vs Chinese populations know about their own governments horrors?

I mean, what percentage of US students would recognize the Tuskegee experiments continued until 1972? I've had many people straight up tell me that is a lie, or a 'conspiracy theory'. In fact, I think this post will get down voted, despite asking a perfectly valid question and having concrete factual examples.

Not saying it isn't appalling that Leica is apologizing. Thought it makes sense from a business perspective.

I'm just curious to know what is more effective: the soft censorship of the west created by unwritten social norms or the hard censorship of the east?

>> what percentage of US students would recognize the Tuskegee experiments continued until 1972

Literally everyone who has ever had to take a medical or scientific ethics course knows this, since the IRB process was born specifically from this horrific abuse of science.

I'm guessing most high schools cover it in US History and/or World History, also, as mine did.

I went to a rather nice semi-private high school (graduated 15 years ago) and Tuskegee was not covered

Thank you. It seems this is common knowledge in some circles. I know for a fact it isn't in others.

My post was just a question as to the overall percentage. Not whether there were any Americans who knew about the experiments.

Apparently asking questions and being inquisitive is bad now.

How has Tuskegee been “soft” censored by the U.S. government?

I never said it was the government, in fact I even specifically stated unwritten social norms. It's interesting that a straw-man is being used to attack the argument.

Society is a complex system. The west has soft censorship via control systems.

If you can't see any now, that is fine. But we can deduct they exist from logic.

Here's an example: We can recognize the old ones. US newspapers and schools had effective censorship of, for example, the struggle of gay people in the US. The struggle was there, but it wasn't talked about. No matter the mechanisms to achieve this, it is effective soft censoring. While this doesn't exist anymore, it would be unreasonable to think we don't have similar blind sides now (I see plenty, but... that is neither here nor there, I'm going off logic)

Another western corporation loses its spine in pursuit of profits. "Hey, sorry we mentioned that time you murdered thousands of your own citizens, it's totally a fake event. Please let us keep selling things in your country."

One day, maybe, this cowardly behavior will end.

People like to pretend that corporations aren't political entities when they absolutely are - that's the whole point of capitalism and free market.

This has no added value over the article it links as the source: https://www.scmp.com/news/china/politics/article/3006817/lei...

Do any companies secure their confidential information by randomly inserting information or images that would be considered subversive in China?

Like, every other page contains an embedded Winnie the Pooh image, or an insert describing the 1989 incident. Would Chinese agents be afraid to have such materials in their possession?

> Do any companies secure their confidential information by randomly inserting information or images that would be considered subversive in China?

That would be pointless, since it's only forbidden in public discourse. People in trusted positions are able to access subversive information if needed, and anyone hacking foreign organizations for the state are probably in that group.

This article might be enlightening about the situation: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/02/business/china-internet-c...

So what's the official Chinese line on Tiananmen?

Did it not happen? Was it a western plot? Student riots?

Banning the word Leica seems to be implicitly admitting that it did happen, and that the Chinese government did something wrong, so I'm guessing the official story isn't the generally accepted story?

The official position is “don’t talk about that.”

That's exactly why the rest of the world needs to speak up.

To what end? It was 30 years ago. The Eight Elders are all dead. You really think a bunch of westerners tutting at China about lowlights in their history will do anything other than galvanize Chinese nationalism?

> To what end? It was 30 years ago. The Eight Elders are all dead. You really think a bunch of westerners tutting at China about lowlights in their history will do anything other than galvanize Chinese nationalism?

This makes me wonder if discussions of reparations for slavery have fueled a similar fire in the United States. In my mind, criticism of past wrongs would lead to resentment by those criticized. I'm not in any way saying that discussing past harms has caused a resurgence of these issues, but I do wonder if there is some relationship.

It needs to be talked about anyways. For every 100 nationals who laugh or scorn, 1 person hears about it and starts thinking "Hm... maybe what I've been taught here isn't so true. Maybe things really are bad here."

We need information to make decisions. One side providing all the info leads to biased thoughts. It's exactly what's happening here in the US. People pick their news source (CNN, FOX, etc) and gradually become polarized to think one way.

The lesson here is: Learn about the counter argument. You should find it isn't as crazy as people tell you.

Thing is, for a majority of people, life in China is perfectly normal (other than maybe air quality and population density, but the Chinese government has tried hard to combat those issues).

Most people are able to live normal lives where the government doesn't really have a massive influence. Even if it does, it's usually in terms of infrastructure development (transportation, housing, etc.), which can be done much more rapidly than in, say, the US (look at high-speed rail deployment in China over the past decade or so).

Plus, what's the alternative? China would be trading their fast-paced economic expansion and massive infrastructure investments (necessary to keep pace with the expanding number of people in China) for more... freedom?

And I think that's really the key here. The Chinese government is NOT incompetent and they're able to more than adequately provide for their citizens' needs. So, who would WANT a revolution?

It's important to speak up for as long as they seek to censor and imprison any person who dare to mention it, and use their economy to force foregn companies to help them censor/rewrite history.

Staying silent, or defending their tantrums, is what allows the Chinese to make it impossible for Macs sold in China to display Taiwan's national flag, to justify Mariott firing an employee for liking a tweet thanking the company for listing certain countries on their website, to force Leica to remove their ad and issue an apology over nothing, etc.

What makes it possible to force Mariott to do that is China's ability to retaliate against LDS members in China. The LDS church itself voluntarily blocks access to their websites from China as well. It would take more than not "staying silent, or defending their tantrums" to change the status quo.

It is talked about nonstop in the United States, taught to every kid who goes to high school, and is on various social media sites all the time.

In response, Chinese people mostly make fun of us for believing in things like women's rights and such. Not really sure wide discussion of Tank Man is having any sort of positive effect.

Especially don't talk about it on May 35th.

Here's the official party version of the story[1]:

Political turmoil in 1989:

"In the late 1980s, a wave of bourgeois liberalization was launched in the society. Liberalists promoted bourgeois democracy and freedom, carried out anti-Party and anti-socialist activities. Under this influence, in early April 1989, young students from some colleges and universities in Beijing carried out various forms of activities in response to real problems in the society. On April 15, the former General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Hu Yaobang passed away. The masses and young students held various forms of mourning activities. However, very few liberals used this opportunity to engage in anti-party and anti-socialist activities. Under their instigation, students from some universities in the capital and local areas flocked to the streets to hold demonstrations. Some unscrupulous elements in Xi'an and Changsha took the opportunity to fight, smash, rob, and burn. The student movement quickly developed into social unrest. On April 26, the People’s Daily published an editorial entitled “There must be a clear-cut against social unrest”, pointing out that this was a planned conspiracy. The essence of this movement was to fundamentally negate the party’s leadership and deny the socialist system.The editorial called on everyone to take urgent action and take resolute and effective measures to stop the unrest. However, the situation has not improved. On the evening of May 19, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China decided to impose martial law in parts of the capital, but a few rioters incited some people to confront the martial law forces. At the same time, Shanghai, Guangzhou and other places have also experienced serious incidents such as thugs hitting party and government organs and damaging transportation facilities. In this regard, the Party Central Committee, the State Council, and the Central Military Commission took decisive measures to calm the riots. This political storm has destroyed China’s normal social order, disrupted the normal economic construction process, and caused great losses to the party, the country and the people. The victory over social unrest and counter-revolutionary riots has consolidated the achievements of our country's socialist position and the decade of reform and opening up, and has also provided useful lessons for the party and the people."

[1] http://cpc.people.com.cn/GB/33837/2535031.html

China continues to force the world to bend to its totalitarian demands: changes to Hollywood movie plots and editing, arbitrary keyword bans and FAANG helping to "accommodate" their platforms to facilitate censorship.

All of those parties are free to ignore China’s ridiculous demands.

When I was still an undergraduate student in China, the 4hr film The Gate of Heavenly Peace was available in our school's internal torrent network.(Tons of censored content was available there.) I and my buddies watched it together in our dorm, with high expectation. But we were quite disappointed, and wondered why the CCP censor it so firmly at all. The event is neither bloody nor aspiring.

> ad agency F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi

Ads do really seem increasingly likely to transport some political/ideological content. Is this happening the customer's explicit request, or are agencies and/or their individual creatives surreptiously hitching a political/ideological ride at their customer's risk and expense?

So my guess is that Huawei will now stop partnering with them for their phones? How does China deal with this type of thing?

It's not even "China" that's directly responsible for most of these decisions, really. It's each private company individually trying to figure out how to keep the Chinese government happy and on their side. That's why these things are inherently unpredictable. Sometimes you can even see seemingly-coordinated behavior that's actually the result of bandwagoning - e.g. if one company bans "Leica" on their social media site, then everyone else will feel like they have to follow suit. It's quite a mess.

That's a good point. What would it even look like if there was an official, authoritative list of things to be censored, with draconian enforcement? Xi Jinping isn't going to personally decide what goes on the list. He's certainly not going to personally adjudicate the myriad edge cases. Inevitably the system must devolve into a lot of individuals making conflicting decisions.

I see no way to have a cohesive, official censorship apparatus with centralized control, unless the method employed simply involves cutting cables. That would be pretty unambiguous.

> That's a good point. What would it even look like if there was an official, authoritative list of things to be censored, with draconian enforcement? Xi Jinping isn't going to personally decide what goes on the list. He's certainly not going to personally adjudicate the myriad edge cases. Inevitably the system must devolve into a lot of individuals making conflicting decisions.

> I see no way to have a cohesive, official censorship apparatus with centralized control, unless the method employed simply involves cutting cables. That would be pretty unambiguous.

Social control and censorship is far more effective than governmental censorship. Being "excommunicated" or ostracized from your social group is enough to prohibit many people from making political expressions (or otherwise).

For a dumb but illustrative example, think about how your posting habits on social media might change if your relatives were receiving those posts.

The best part is that it allows the government to indirectly encourage practices and behavior that would likely receive criticism in the global community if done directly.

It doesn't seem all that different from some similar events in our corporate internet ecosystem.

I have a question that maybe Chinese people here can answer. How patriotic are chinese people? How critical are they about the government and how many people (especially outside of China) approve of them?

Chinese people are critical of the government but when speaking to Westerners, they are tired of being lectured.

It’s like, when you want to go wash the dishes, and then someone nags you to wash them and “explains” the importance of keeping things clean.

Almost every interaction with Westerners about the government isn’t because they genuinely care about Chinese people, but rather to feel superior, like they are saving the “Chinese” from themselves.

That’s what it feels like and why many Chinese don’t like talking about it.

Unless of course pandering to Westerners can make them money. Then there are some that will gleefully act the part.

I mean, let's just imagine a hypothetical situation where the totalitarian system breaks down, riots happen and 1+ billion people are starving in China. I do not expect the West to sit and wait it out while it happens.

The West will surely only get to hear all the "sorry sorry sorrys" when it's too late.

Unless the many of us who believe that modern democracies ARE better are wrong, in which case China can continue taking IP, threatening foreign companies and claiming oceans while the rest of the world waits for it all to go tits up.

We make fun of the leaders and the systems all the times. Most private comments in my close circle are pretty critical(“wtf is this brainwashing Xuexiqiangguo app”). And I think overseas Chineses could show up as more patriotic than they were in China, because most of us had never been discriminated even slightly before or ever heard so many bad news for their motherland. Chineses overseas are also pretty self-proud, we probably don’t like hear some meme too many times.

Though, it’s not quite likely your Chinese friends/colleagues will ever talk with you about that unless you guys are super close.

haha on the Xuexiqiangguo app. I frequently hear complaints from people who have to use it.

I agree pretty much what you said. But I am in the motherland.

And to elaborate more on what you said.

There are lots patriotic people and vice versa, and the patriotic voices are often heard on the net. You won't hear much the other side because it's censored.

I was once on the side of making hard change. i.e overthrow the Gov. But the more I stay here and saw what have gone through in other countries, the more am I inclined to the side of soft change.

With 1.4 billion people, a hard change will be devastating to everyone and the rest of the world. It's just too easy to wonder why the Chinese haven't stood up to the Gov and not thinking about the consequences, esp You won't be the one doing it. And most of the Chinese are living a good life here and it's just too much to risk for.

I think the Gov has to screw up big time to stir up the hard change and I don't like to see it happen.

Does anyone have the mentioned video?

Thanks for the link. There are tons of comments written in Mandarin so I used Google Translate to see what they are saying. Suprisingly several top rated comments are positive about the ad!

> Suprisingly several top rated comments are positive about the ad!

It's not that surprising, Youtube is blocked in PRC

devoply 27 days ago [flagged]

Would it not be better for these idiots to simply apologize for Tienanmen Square and promise not to do it again? And also stop all their asshole human right violations?

Once you go down the road of totalitarianism, the risks of turning back get worse and worse over time. The playbook of all dictatorships is the same: squeeze tighter and tighter until you can no longer hold on, then collapse.

Sometimes the process is quite rapid, sometimes it drags on. It all depends how long you can keep the elite prosperous and happy and how long you can maintain economic growth.

> The playbook of all dictatorships is the same: squeeze tighter and tighter until you can no longer hold on, then collapse.

While a common-enough failure mode, this is by no means universal. Many successful monarchies began as the equivalent of dictatorships, and then opened up further and further over time.

> Many successful monarchies began as the equivalent of dictatorships, and then opened up further and further over time.

And then there's the Roman Empire, which started as a dictatorship (in the literal sense to which all other uses are metaphorical allusions) and went the other direction.

Please provide examples.

Off the top of my head, Britain, Spain, Portugal, and Chile (and Canada and Australia, if you want to cheat). Do you really think that every liberal Western European democracy had their own version of the French Revolution, or that they've been democracies since time immemorial?

None of those places functioned as modern nation states prior to the Peace of Westphalia. Monarchies were in constant flux, collapsing all the time as brother invaded cousin and so on. How exactly does this refute my point?

I'm not sure why you're bringing up the Peace of Westphalia when the topic is how monarchies transformed into democracies. There weren't many democracies at that time.

Spain for example wasn't a democracy until the 20th century and the first attempt at democracy failed miserably and only the second succeeded after the monarchy backed dictator died and the king didn't follow the late dictator's legacy as planned.

Uh,ok, if you're going to be intellectually dishonest and move the goalposts "here is the single path that dictatorships take (demonstrably not the case in whatever the final dictatorship that transitioned to democracy for each given non-revolutionary countries)...Spain, Portugal, and Chile were all examples from the last half century. How do both this and the general case I described _not_ refute your point?

> Britain

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Civil_War ended with the execution of the Monarch, a brief military dictatorship, and established the principle that the Monarch cannot rule without the consent of Parliament.

Not exactly the French revolution, but hardly a smooth transition either.

The parent comment is an exceedingly narrow description: totalitarians always tighten their hold until they collapse. I wasn't making a correspondingly strong counterclaim that the transition was smooth and bloodless for every/most polities. We can quibble about whether Post-Civil War Britain qualifies as having sufficiently transitioned to democracy (and if not, then Post-CW Britain is the polity in question that transitioned without collapse). But it's easy to refute the ludicrous original claim that polities under totalitarians only ever follow a single path.

I lol'd really hard at your mention of "Spain", here.

Not sure I get the joke. Is the claim that Francoist Spain was never totalitarian or that post-Franco Spain still is?

Current Spain is still francoist Spain. There has been no breach of legal continuity since the Spanish republic was defeated by fascism in 1939.

The monarchies of old changed hands and flipped over due to war (civil and otherwise) so often that they're not really comparable to a modern state dictatorship. Tons of monarchs had extremely short reigns, far less stable than the Chinese Communist party.

Also, monarchies began in an era when the state generally was far less developed than it is now. The number of state functionaries and the control they exert was far less.

Louis the 14th of France was one of the first Western kings to have something like dictatorial control of a country rather than being quite dependent on the nobles formally under him (as those nobles were in turn dependent on their vassals).

In that case, is it really valid to count those monarchs as different governments and not continuations of the same system?

Yes. It's completely valid, since their borders, their laws, and the identities of the people were constantly in flux. Nothing at all like the continuity of modern nation states through successive governments.

Yes. It's completely valid, since their borders, their laws, and the identities of the people were constantly in flux.

You've both made a good point and refuted the absolutist position at the same time. In general, if monarchs change and the borders, the laws, and the identities of the people remain the same, then it's really a continuation of the same regime. Really, "it depends."

Oh, yes, sure, the old "no true dictatorship" rule. Redefine your argument as you go to exclude counter-examples.

If you suggesting China adopts a system in which every government systematically apologizes for what previous generations have done, while laying the foundations of the next apologetic generation; then they can’t do that. It’s copyrighted by the Government of Canada / Gouvernement du Canada.

Heh, that form of piracy is rampant, too, then.

[sarcasm] Oh I'm sure Canada and other Western nations are offering licenses for their model and indeed one might see this entire enterprise as a long effort to sell those licenses, while China just insists on relying on simpler methods.[/sarcasm]

That said, China's unwillingness to mention Tien Ah Min expresses the point that nation has to adopt a "no apologies, don't talk about this and we'd definitely do this again" position because the state ultimately deals in absolutes. This situation indeed implies a certain fragility.

Edit: Just for clarification, I certainly hope a framework of democracy and freedom of speech prevail but I am still clear quite a few Western interests have entirely selfish reasons for wanting this (and the Western model indeed has its flaws).

It's funny because China seems to have the mentality that this must be so. And look over to the Japanese and at one time they were similarly minded. And yet look at them now, a pleasure to deal with both on individual and societal level. So it's simply a choice and a mentality which will lead you into all sorts of bad situations. Unfortunately Chinese don't have enough experience with this and instead looking to history to guide their actions, which is a mistake. We simply can't act this way in the world we have built, the consequences are too grave for everyone involved.

Absolute power doesn't mean that you can act with impunity. Xi must retain the support of the heads of the army, secret police, and such or he will be replaced. The Dictator's Handbook[0] discusses this topic in detail. The Rules for Rulers[1] is an 18 minute video that summarizes some of the principles of the book.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dictator%27s_Handbook

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rStL7niR7gs

edited to add video title to second link

Winnie the Pooh changed all sorts of things for the worse that his predecessor had made progress on. He's an idiot. He should be replaced by someone more wise.

Progress on what?

It'd be better for who if they just apologized and stopped violating human rights? The people in charge?

People are self-interested.

Xi seems to be pretty smart though, but his ideals don't align with ours

Julius told Augustus to pay the soldiers well and have contempt for the rest.

Yes, of course. They seem to think that acknowledging mistakes and misbehaviour will rob them of their power since that power partly depends on them never being wrong. They must realise that anyone and his dog knows by now this is a total fiction but for some reason they just can't get themselves to step up, bow down deep like you sometimes see Japanese CxO's do when taking blame for some misstep and humble themselves before their nation. Given that the same phenomenon has characterised more or less al other "communist" regimes it seems to be something in this ideology/doctrine which makes it near to impossible to admit to failure.

Occasionally their rulers admit that previous rulers make mistakes. But they don't admit their own. But few rulers do anywhere on our planet.

How would that help the government achieve its goal of maintaining power, in any way?

It might be better for them, it might be worse. It is hard to say.

From "Bill and Ted's political thoughts".

Since the opium wars, the most lenient Chinese rulers have not lasted very long.


>> a protest that happened in China in 1989

Yeah, it was just a protest.

Someone did something right?

OK so China will forget about the opium wars then


No way they made fifty cents on that. They'd all be rich based on the volume of this stuff.

Even if they did, there would be very little certainty that people would trust them, or, more importantly, their successors in the same positions of authority. The only effective "apology" and "commitment" from them would be opening up their society in some way, perhaps along Neo-Confucian lines, i.e. with a sort of assembly of widely-recognized "wise scholars" that could veto/overrule the executive on such matters (Somewhat like the U.S. Supreme Court). But either way, it would be a real challenge to the current setup of authority in China, and any sort of change is inherently hard. So they'll just keep muddling through like this, even in ways that may seem obviously undesirable or even silly to outsiders.

It seems to work well for Russia.

> “Do you even deserve to collaborate with our patriotic Huawei?” one Weibo user said about Leica, according to SCMP.

Is this an actual sentiment that Chinese citizens have?

China has more than a billion people. It might be the sentiment ONE Chinese person may have, or even a group, but one Weibo user does not represent a significant fraction of Chinese citizens.

And no, I'm not even sure many people know that Leica collaborates with Huawei.

This felt off to me too. I really dislike articles that cherry-pick anonymous SNS posts to prove a point.

Why are discussions surrounding Chinese Politics permitted but no other political discussions? Seems like a double standard. Just quickly looking at the removals here's a 4 hour old Mueller report thread instantly removed - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19712217.

Why does every thread about China have to mention USA as well? The Mueller report was on the frontpage for quite a while, here's a thread with 310 points and 150 comments (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19691512), and, surprise surprise, not a single mention of China.

Chinese articles get flagged/removed from the frontpage all the time as well, and you'll see articles critical of the US and other governments/countries on the frontpage every day. There's no greater conspiracy, the only difference is that almost all Chinese articles mention USA, whereas almost no US/European articles mention China..

It’s not just Chinese politics, but the implementation of a social media ban. This article about Sri Lanka shutting down social media in the wake of the Easter bombings is also on the HN front page: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19713481


Mueller report vs copyright filters - this was on for a while.

This is more about how politics affects the tech world, not politics for its own sake. Mueller investigation drama doesn't really have anything to do with tech.

That's a weird take, since huge sections of the report deal with Wikileaks, email server administration, and social media manipulation.

Do you think a thread like the one linked above would have a rational discussion of those tech-related topics that are kind of connected, or rapidly devolve into a OrangeManGood/OrangeManBad flamewar and moderation nightmare?

I recall seeing probably 3 to 5 frontpage stories on Assange after his arrest and Wikileaks, but then the report that specifically talks about him and Wikileaks isn't allowed? Weird!

OTOH, this thread is also a shitshow by HN's explicit standards.

Agreed, you have a great point. However, most of the content on Hacker News is controlled by a small group of people who have specific agendas. I wish they would be fair like you mention, but you have to be part of that small group.

could you elaborate? I have heard of these invite-only HN groups, but I have a hard time believing people would care so much about some online forum.

After being here long enough, you'll just notice that certain companies and agendas get pushed pretty hard, when in reality they are using a lot of accounts to manipulate the discussion and emotion once you start looking at the comment history. It is no different than Reddit or Twitter.

It's a POPULAR online forum, which is why people care. If tomorrow no one gave a crap about HN but HN mods still wanted people, they'd have to welcome more discussion like all the other nobody forums.

From the guidelines:

> On-Topic: Anything that good hackers would find interesting. That includes more than hacking and startups. If you had to reduce it to a sentence, the answer might be: anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity.

So even that take doesn't make much sense.

Plenty of political discussions appear on HN. It's a complex question, which I wrote about some in an earlier thread today: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19720659. Strong political feelings lead people to rush to generalizations about HN, but you need to resist that pull if you want to assess the situation fairly.

As for Mueller, the report itself is off topic here on the grounds of (a) would they cover it on TV news? yes (see https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html), and (b) there is no intellectual curiosity left in any such discussions. But articles tangential to it have continued to appear and not been moderated. (Example: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19704347.)

Facebook USA politics are discussed all the time.

I would guess because this has a social media and business aspect to it rather than just pure politics.

Filters didn't catch it, though eventually this will be removed as well?

> Why are discussions surrounding Chinese Politics permitted but no other political discussions?

Because it's easier to finger wag at the bad Chinese government than to have an honest discussion about the dysfunctional (and increasingly authoritarian) aspects of our own governments.

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