Weekly reading 20: Xinjiang edition

Sep 06, 2020
Blanked-Out Spots On China’s Maps Helped Us Uncover Xinjiang’s Camps - buzzfeed:

Our breakthrough came when we noticed that there was some sort of issue with satellite imagery tiles loading in the vicinity of one of the known camps while using the Chinese mapping platform Baidu Maps. The satellite imagery was old, but otherwise fine when zoomed out — but at a certain point, plain light gray tiles would appear over the camp location. They disappeared as you zoomed in further, while the satellite imagery was replaced by the standard gray reference tiles, which showed features such as building outlines and roads.

Very admirable reverse-engineering right here. 这个记者发现百度地图在某个分辨率下,会用灰块去显示某些新疆地区,跟周边对比鲜明,像这样:

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控制疫情后仍封城,新疆“一刀切”政策引发民怨 - nytimes:


Basically to strictly clamp down a recent coronavirus outbreak, Xinjiang local govs are enforcing draconian measures even by China’s standards. Besides the typical episodes such as locking all residents in houses and forbidding any attempt of going out, residents are also forced to take Chinese traditional medicine and Umifenovir daily - both of which have not been shown scientifically that can cure COVID19. It has been said that since then policies are relaxed for parts that don’t have COVID19 cases at all.

People in Xinjiang suffered so much that they started complaining on social media platform like Sina Weibo, making the Xinjiang regional topic trending at the top. When censorship kicked in, they started posting same content in the Beijing regional topic, which is more popular and can grab more attention. Of course both topics are soon censored and cleaned, and you won’t see any of those posts there anymore - you can still see some of them screenshot and preserved here, or search “新疆超话” on twitter.

In fact, people reinveted a Chinese phrase “西气东输” (transferring western-origin gas to the east) to mark this episode. The phrase originally means an infra project in China that pumps gas that originated from western regions (such as Xinjiang) to eastern region (like Shanghai, Beijing), as western regions are rich in natural resource. People cleverly leverage that fact that “气” as a noun can either mean “gas”, or “frustration/disatisfaction”, and unofficially transform the phrase with new meaning:

Xi qi dong shu

It now means transferring the disatisfaction originated from less-represented western region (Xinjiang) to eastern region (Beijing) to gain more attention, by shifting social media posts from geo-tagged of Xinjiang to Beijing. On one hand I am impressed by how clever Chinese people are; on the other hand the helpless and powerless that makes it happen saddens me a lot.

57 Percent of Republicans Think Number of U.S. Deaths From Coronavirus Has Been Acceptable - daringfireball:

The U.S. has over 176,000 deaths, and that number is growing by around 1,000 per day. According to the same poll, 73 percent of Republicans think the U.S. response to coronavirus is “going well”. This isn’t cultish — it’s a cult. Either a majority of Republicans are sociopaths or they’re so ignorant they have no idea how much worse the U.S. has handled COVID-19 than other industrialized nations.

Likely it’s because of latter. When time’s good, 2 competing parties in a country may stir up progressive discussions; when time’s bad (or hellish like 2020), partisan seems to divide the country more - people tend to hold on to their belief like the anchor in a turbulence time, and refuse or too stressed to open up their mind for the other world. The CNBC post cited in this post mentions negative partisanship:

For four in 10 Republicans, their allegiance to the GOP is based not so much on liking all that it stands for, but mainly on disliking what Democrats stand for.

And when I mean people refuse to open up their mind:

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I tend to think that people are open for different views when they are confident of their belief, while they close up and only hear what they like to hear if they are scared and find it difficult to convince themselves with their own belief. To be fair 2020 has been a scary year.

Xinhua media hails Hong Kong textbook review for getting rid of ‘poisons’ - appledaily:

China’s official news agency Xinhua on Friday threw its support behind a review of textbooks conducted by Hong Kong’s government, praising the move as “belated disinfection” and “a chance at self-redemption” for the city’s young people.

The vetting exercise, begun last year, led to content on Hong Kong’s human rights, civil disobedience, press freedom, policing abuses and rule of law being weeded out of some secondary school textbooks on the subject of Liberal Studies.

This is the worst one among all the ways the National Security Law changes HK. HK follows western values and education for years, and now is required to obey a completely different view of the world overnight. What is considered “right”, and who is considered “good”? It’s the people who will feel the pain to “hot-swap” their mind with new game rules.

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