Essay

Bill Clinton Never Said “Butchers of Beijing”

How an iconic phrase was misattributed for thirty years – Zachary Haver

Then-candidate Bill Clinton criticizing President George H.W. Bush for coddling the “butchers of Beijing” remains one of the most striking moments of the 1992 US election. This denunciation was so biting it continues to receive media attention today. You can find the quote in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and just about any other news organization ranging from the mainstream to Breitbart. It appears in the writings of former secretaries of State, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists, influential scholars and conservative firebrands. The phrase even materializes in foreign media on occasion, including in Chinese state-run papers. There is just one problem.

Bill Clinton never said “butchers of Beijing.”

Essay

Four Fates in a Changing China

An exclusive new essay by Yu Hua, translated by Allan H. Barr

By the end of this year, China will have seen 40 years of economic reform and interaction with the outside world – 40 years in which China has undergone earthshaking changes. In 1978 China’s total GDP was 367.8 billion RMB ($150 billion in current US dollars); by 2017 it stood at 82.7 trillion RMB  ($12 trillion). China’s economy has grown at a phenomenal rate, and of course prices have been soaring too. In 1993 Zhang Yimou paid me 50,000 RMB ($7200 at current exchange rates) for the film rights to my novel To Live. In those days my wife and I lived in a room of just eight square meters, and for us this was an astronomical sum. We laid the money underneath our pillow, and before going to bed each night we would take it out and gaze at it, dumbstruck that we had made enough to last a lifetime. It was days before we could bring ourselves to deposit the money in the bank. Nowadays, if you were to try to buy a house in Beijing with 50,000 yuan, you would only get one square meter.

Essay

The Lion Rock Bites

Hong Kong TV takes on the missing bookseller scandal – Cameron White

In mid-October, I was swiping through the news when a headline caught my eye: “RTHK’s Below the Lion Rock 2018 Season Opener to Revisit Causeway Bay Books Incident.” That may read like standard entertainment news, but it was anything but. RTHK – a government-financed channel – had adapted one of the most sensitive events in recent Hong Kong memory.

In 2015, five Hong Kongers went missing. They worked at Causeway Bay Books, a store known to sell tomes critical of China’s top leaders. One of men was allegedly taken from Hong Kong; if those accusations were true, it implied a violation of One Country, Two Systems, the principle supposed to guarantee Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy until 2047.

Essay

The Disappearance of Rahile Dawut

A vanished professor, remembered by students and colleagues – Darren Byler

On December 4, 2017, the disappearance of Professor Rahile Dawut, an eminent scholar of the Uyghur ethnic minority which she herself belongs to, sent quiet shockwaves among her students and colleagues around the world. On that day she had packed her bags for a flight to Beijing from Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where the majority of Uyghurs live, and has not been seen since. Presumably she is being held in detention. The cryptic text messages a colleague sent regarding what happened did not provide many details. They ended with the message, “I am going to delete my VPN [virtual private network, for communicating behind the Chinese firewall] and never use it again. So please if you care about people here, stop asking questions.”

Dawut’s Uyghur students care too deeply to stop asking questions, but for many months they have kept their questions quiet.

Essay

The Pixiu Triad

Mafia extortion of Chinese supermarkets in Argentina – Frank Beyer

In Argentina, a Chinese supermarket – supermercado chino, súper chino, argenchino or even just un chino – is not a store catering to Asian expats. The target market of these shops is the general population. In addition to several aisles of food and alcohol, there is usually a counter to buy meat, cheese and cold-cuts, and a fruit and vegetable stand. An Argentinian might be behind the meat counter, a Bolivian weighing the vegetables and a Chinese attending the till.

On September 18, 2016, on Bacacay Street in the Floresta neighborhood of the Argentinian capital city of Buenos Aires, two men on a motorbike pulled up in front of a small Chinese supermarket. One of them fired two shots through the entrance. In the aftermath there was a lot to clean up, but nobody was hurt.