Papa Xi “Beats The Tiger” – Xi Jinping’s New Year Propaganda Cartoon

On 17 February Beijing Chaoyang Studio (北京朝阳工作室) released three cartoons which aim at spreading among the people the values of the Xi Jinping administration in a way that is closer to the common citizen and less stiff and cold than traditional political propaganda.

One of the three cartoons is entitled  “Has the mass line been truly implemented?” (群众路线动真格了?) The animation revolves around Xi Jinping’s fight against corruption, a phenomenon which, according to the leader of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), runs counter the Communist Party’s mass line.

The animation condemns the vices that the official party language describes as “The Four Decadent Customs” (四风)and “The Three Abuses” (三公).

According to the Southern Metropolis Daily (南方都市报), the animations represent a departure from the previous style of government communication, which was too cold and detached from the people. “In the past,” writes the paper, “the Chinese people only saw pictures, portraits or official videos of their leaders, while it was extremely rare to see them in animated films.”

But China has now entered a new era, which the newspaper describes as “the era in which every person has a microphone” and in which every citizen is involved in disseminating political ideas. The way the government gives prominence to the people is the adoption of a new style of propaganda. It abandons “the language of preaching” (说教腔调), which scares people away and is ineffective, because “if no one wants to listen, it does not matter how loud the voice is, it will be to no avail”. In order to reach out to the public, “it is necessary to adjust to its taste”, to resort to a more joyful tone. This strategy will achieve the goal of “convincing the public without compulsion” (说服而非压服).

One scene from the video has become particularly popular. It is the one in which Xi Jinping brandishes a club and beats a tiger. “Tigers” is the common term used to refer to corrupt high-ranking Communist officials. The image therefore aims at illustrating in a simple (and frivolous) way how Xi Jinping is defeating corruption within the Communist Party.

But what is exactly the ‘mass line’ which the video mentions?

The mass line is not to be understood as a democratic principle in a Western sense, but rather as the implementation of what the PRC constitution calls the “people’s democratic dictatorship“. The people’s democratic dictatorship, which may sound like a self-contradictory concept, is in reality the logical result of the Communist Party’s principle of “avant-garde leadership”. The Party considers itself – in Marxist and Leninist terms – the most progressive element of society, the defender of the rights of the working classes, and the true liberator of the masses from capitalist exploitation. While the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has de facto discarded the idea of creating a classless society, it has maintained the principle of ‘avantgardism’: the Party interprets the will and needs of the masses, formulates its policies which it will then spread among the people through top-to-bottom mobilisation.

In “The Governance of China” Xi Jinping explains,

We have made the important decision to start an education campaign to promote the mass line of the Party. It was a decision made on the basis of the current circumstances, with the purpose of exercising self-discipline and of strictly carrying out the Party’s policies. This education campaign is an important measure that will fulfill the expectations of the people and facilitate the betterment of our Party as a Marxist ruling party based on learning, service and innovation. This will also be an important step towards the implementation of Chinese socialism. This campaign will play in important part in upholding the avant-garde character and the integrity of our Party …

According to Xi Jinping, corruption is one of the phenomena that have estranged the people from the Party, it is an evil that contradicts the mass line character of the Party. In order to re-establish the ties between Party and people, fighting corruption is a priority.

The cartoon exemplifies Xi’s war against corruption by addressing “The Four Decadent Customs” (四风)and “The Three Abuses” (三公).

“The Four Decadent Customs” are formalism (形式主义), bureaucratism (官僚主义), hedonism (享乐主义) and extravagance (奢靡).

In “The Governance of China” Xi Jinping describes them in the following way:

Formalism means looking only at the form of things, separating action and knowledge, neglecting effectiveness, hiding behind piles of documents and in conference rooms; it means pursuing vanity and resorting to wrong facts.

Bureaucratism means being detached from reality, losing the connection with the people, being indifferent towards facts, it means arrogance and egomania.

Hedonism means spiritual laxity, resting on one’s laurels, vanity, lasciviousness, longing for the limelight and always yearning for pleasure.

Extravagance means dissipation, wasting resources, expensive construction projects, endless parties and ceremonies, a luxurious and dissolute lifestyle, abuse of power for one’s own private interests …

“The Thee Abuses”, on the other hand, refer to the squandering of public money for cars, travel expenses and banquets during official trips.


Girlfriend of Hong Kong Democracy Activist Joshua Wong Detained In Mainland China

On February 18 Tiffany Chin (錢詩文), a Hong Kong pro-democracy activist, was denied entry into mainland China and detained at Kunming Airport. The 19-year-old Tiffany Chin is the girlfriend of Joshua Wong, the founder of ‘Scholarism‘, a pro-democracy student association that was at the forefront of last year’s Occupy Central movement. Joshua Wong soon became one of the most famous leaders of the demonstrations.

According to the mainland Chinese newspaper Guanchazhe (观察者网), Tiffany Chin, a member of Scholarism, which was one of the organisers of the “illegal” Occupy Central protests, was denied entry into mainland China upon arrival with her family in the city of Kunming, where they had travelled to visit relatives on Chinese New Year. She was stopped by the police who asked her whether she “had done bad things in Hong Kong”. She was not permitted to leave the airport. She had to spend the night at a hotel inside the airport and flew back to Hong Kong the following day.

On February 7 Tiffany Chin had participated in a session of a special committee of the Legislative Council (LegCo) that dealt with matters concerning the electoral system. Chin had boldly criticised Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, going so far as to personally insult him.

Hong Kong’s Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok stated that the Hong Kong authorities had not aided their mainland counterparts in compiling a blacklist of people who had taken part in ‘Occupy Central’.

Foreign National Attacked on Taipei Metro

According to reports, today (17/02) a fight broke out between a Taiwanese worker and a foreigner from Namibia. The clash erupted at around 17:00 local time at Hongshulin Station (紅樹林站), on Taipei Metro Line 2.

Apparently the fight started because of a queuing dispute when the passengers boarded the train. The worker allegedly hit the foreigner with pliers. The man’s head was injured and bled. The victim’s Taiwanese wife succoured him and tried to keep the worker away.

Taipei Metro staff immediately intervened. The assailant appeared unrepentant as he continued to curse the man who was lying on the floor. The victim was taken to Mackay Memorial Hospital in Danshui. The police have opened an investigation.

According to the victim, he and his wife were taking the train to go to Zhongshan Station. They were the first ones in the line, but a 61-year-old Taiwanese worker surnamed Qiu jumped the queue. The foreigner patted on the man’s bag and complained in English about the man’s behaviour. An argument between the two started, which continued after they boarded the train. The 61-year-old man cursed in Taiwanese the foreigner and his wife. He drew closer to the couple, and the foreigner pushed him back for fear he might harm his wife. Then the Taiwanese man hit his head with pliers. The foreigner was injured and lost blood.

When the Taipei Metro staff entered the train, the victim was taken to the hospital and his wife was interrogated by the police. The 61-year-old Qiu had left the scene of the event, but was caught up by the police. He apologised for what he had done, stating that he had grown angry because the foreigner had pushed him. Qiu now faces charges of attempted murder.

According to some eyewitnesses, however, it was the foreigner who jumped the queue. This angered not only Qiu, but also other passengers.

Netizens‘ responses were mixed. Some people condemned the attacker. For example, a netizen wrote: “Beating someone is wrong” (打人就是不對). Others, however, criticised the foreigner.  A netizen compared him to the notorious Jason, a foreigner who assailed a Taipei bus driver last year. “Last time it was also a foreigner (老外) who cursed a bus driver.  What a pity that he had the good luck not to bump into such an uncouth worker. PS: This kind of foreigners always have a Taiwanese woman accompanying them.”

The victim has been identified as a Namibian athlete. According to Focus Taiwan his name is Juhannes Benade, 41 years old. Yet no information about a person of this name is available online. However, a Namibian athlete named Reginald Benade had moved to Taiwan in 2010.


Taiwan – Kaohsiung Prison Drama

On February 11 Taiwan‘s society was shocked by the events that unfolded in Kaohsiung prison, where 6 inmates rebelled and took staff members hostage. This was the first prison riot in Taiwan’s history. This drama highlighted not only Taiwan’s need to reform its prison management system, but also the existence of a grey zone between legality and criminal syndicates.

At about 16:30 local time Zheng Lide (鄭立德), a leader of the Bamboo Gang (竹聯幫), a notorious Taiwanese triad, and 5 other prisoners faked an illness and asked for medical treatment. The 6 men took hostage the three guards who had come to help them. They forced the staff to take them to the prison armoury, where they stole four 65K2 rifles with 177 bullets and 6 guns with 46 bullets.

The prison’s head guard, Wang Shicang (王世倉), and the prison warden, Chen Shizhi (陳世志), asked to be taken hostage in exchange for the three guards, to which the prisoners agreed.

The inmates entered into negotiations with the authorities and claimed that they had rioted because of what they considered an unfair treatment on the part of the state. They demanded that a car be delivered to them and that they be allowed to leave the prison. However, the police refused to accept their request.

The police asked the help of former lawmaker Li Fangzong (李榮宗) and of the prisoners’ family members.

According to reports, the six men had committed serious crimes and were all serving prison sentences exceeding 20 years. Bamboo Gang leader Zheng Lide (鄭立德) had been arrested in 2012 and sentenced to 28 years in prison for murder, possession of weapons and other crimes; Qin Yiming (秦義明) was serving a 46 years’ prison term for banditry; Wei Liangxian (魏良顯) had been sentenced to 34 years and 3 months in prison for drug trafficking; Huang Xiansheng (黃顯勝) had been sentenced to 34 years and 2 months in prison for drug trafficking; Huang Ziyan (黃子晏) had been sentenced to 25 years in prison for drug trafficking and robbery; Jin Zhusheng (靳竹生) was serving a life term for robbery.

The negotiations between the prisoners and the police lasted for several hours. At around 23:00 Zheng Lide issued five demands and asked that they be read in front of media reporters by Wu Xianzhang (吳憲璋), the director of the Agency of Corrections of the Ministry of Justice.

Wu Xianzhang appeared in front of the cameras before midnight and read the letter written by Zheng Lide in which he explained the reasons for the rebellion. He accused the authorities of discriminating against prisoners, citing former president Chen Shuibian as an example. In 2009 Chen had been found guilty of corruption and sentenced to 20 years in prison, but he was released on medical parole on January 5, 2015. “Chen Shuibian was released from prison for medical treatment thanks to his faked illness, but other prison inmates who have more serious illnesses cannot?” wrote Zheng Lide. “Why? It’s because we are criminals, it serves us right to die. Is Chen Shuibian not a criminal, as well? Since he was released, everyone should be treated the same way.”

Zheng protested against the fact that he and the other 5 prisoners had been denied the right to be paroled and that their wages were too low.  “Because of the three-strikes regulations we cannot even ask for parole. It is you officials who force us to rebel. We work for a month and we only get 200 Taiwan dollars (around US$6.30), it’s not even enough to buy clothes, and we must ask our families to support us. We have lost even our dignity.”

He denied having committed the crime of which he had been found guilty. “I have been convicted of murder and sentenced to 18 years in prison, but I have killed nobody and I am not resigned. I am just the tip of the iceberg. There are many inmates in the same situation as me. Who will come here and talk with us?”

Zheng appealed directly to president Ma Yingjiu (Ma Ying-jeou) for help. “Ma Yingjiu,” he wrote, “you are not a very good president, but you were a good Minister of Justice. If you still have power please come and save us. Thank you.”

In his last point, Zheng asked the authorities to change the three-strikes laws. “Why don’t you change the proposed three-strikes law and give people a little hope? Why can people who have committed less serious crimes have their sentence shortened, while those who have committed more serious crimes cannot? If you allow the prison terms to be reduced, why do you have to discriminate? Aren’t we all criminals?”

In the course of the evening Zhang Anle (張安樂) arrived at the prison to help Zheng Lide. Zhang Anle, known as the “White Wolf”, was himself a leader of the Bamboo Gang and was a personal friend of Zheng’s. Zhang wanted to go inside the prison and talk to him, but the police did not consent. Zhang grew angry and had a row in front of the cameras with Lai Zhenrong (賴振榮), the deputy warden. Then Zhang Anle telephoned Zheng Lide and warned him. “The police will storm the prison, be careful,” he said.

During the phone call Zheng Lide said that he wanted Zhang to bring them 6 bottles of rice wine and 2 bottles of Gaoliang. After finishing their drink, he added, the 6 men would come out with Zhang and surrender. But the police refused to let Zhang meet the inmates. Zheng proposed that the police could give them the wine and the liquor, and announced that after drinking it, the 6 men would commit suicide. If the police did not deliver them what they wanted by 02:00, he threatened, all of the 8 men would die.

Zhang Anle is a highly controversial figure. He joined the Bamboo Gang in 1964 and soon became known as the “brain” of the syndicate. In 1985 he was arrested in the US for drug trafficking and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He returned to Taiwan in 1995. The following year the government launched a major crackdown on organised crime and Zhang fled to China. There, he seems to have established ties with the Communist Party and to have become a supporter of Beijing’s pro-unification policies with Taiwan under the “one country, two systems” model. In an interview with the Global Times, China’s Communist newspaper, he openly declared that he wanted to nurture a pro-Communist electorate in Taiwan.

In June 2013, Zhang returned to Taiwan and founded the Party for the Promotion of Chinese Unification. Despite his criminal past, he continues unhindered his political activities and has often appeared on Taiwanese TV shows.

Read: Zhang Anle, the Sunflower Movement and the China-Taiwan Issue

At 03:20, after having drunk their wine and liquor, the inmates released one of the hostages, head guard Wang Shicang.

Several minutes later shots were heard. The police were alarmed, not knowing what was happening inside the prison and whether someone had been killed. The police soon realised that the shots were aimed at drones sent by some media reporters to capture footage of the events inside the prison. Zheng Lide had become nervous and had tried to stop them. The deployment of drones and the overly sensationalist live reports of some Taiwanese media were widely criticised. The police confiscated the drones and asked the media not to get too close to the building.

At 4:44 shots were heard again, yet this time the convicts were firing at the police. Having realised that their demands would not be met, they apparently tried to escape, but the police fired back and they returned inside the prison. Silence fell.

At around 5:00, the collective suicide which had been announced earlier began. Four prisoners killed themselves. The remaining two, including Zheng Lide, examined the bodies of their fellow inmates to make sure they were dead. At around 5:30, Zheng and the other prisoner committed suicide, too. The police watched through the security cameras as the 6 men took their own lives.

The following day, a Taiwanese TV station called Zhang Anle and interviewed him live. TV host Wang Jiemin (汪潔民) asked Zhang about the events of the previous night. Zhang stated that Zheng Lide had asked him to bring him a few bottles of wine and liquor and that he would allow the hostage to leave the prison together with Zhang. But the police did not agree with this proposal, whereupon Zhang became enraged and said to the police, “You don’t even care about the life of one of your colleagues!”, referring to the hostage. Zhang said he believed that the police rejected the offer because they wanted to “save face”. If Zhang had sorted things out, the police would have been put to shame.

Journalist Wu Guodong (吳國棟), replying to Zhang Anle’s assertions, pointed out that the authorities were in charge of the matter and that it was not for Zhang to take over the functions that pertain to the state. “I ask you,” responded Zhang Anle irritated, “does the Taiwanese state deserve to be trusted? You already know the answer.” At this point the conversation became heated. “Because Taiwan’s system is unjust,” he continued, “it’s people like you who trample on the public authority. I don’t want to quarrel with you. Don’t talk so much.” When a lawmaker of the Democratic Progressive Party was about to ask him another question, Zhang Anle hung up.

In the wake of the hostage drama, president Ma Yingjiu said that Taiwan’s prison management system had loopholes that needed to be addressed quickly. He instructed the Minister of Justice to release a report by Friday and prepare a programme of reform for immediate implementation.

As of 2014 Taiwan’s prison population was over 64,000, but the official capacity of the prison system is only less than 55,000.  A 2011 BBC report revealed that overcrowding had become a serious problem in Taiwanese prisons. Inmates “often housed 10 to 12 to a cell, sleeping on floor mattresses, with no air conditioning.” Moreover, many people in Taiwan do not want prisoners to be treated too leniently, but want them to be punished and understand the suffering they have caused to the families of their victims. For this reason, Taiwan’s prison system has not paid much attention to reforming the convicts but has focused mostly on punishing them .