The Cholera and Bubonic Plague Vaccination Campaigns of Waldemar Haffkine Count as Evidence of “the Benevolence of British Medical Imperialism”

(p. C7) “In the end, all history is natural history,” writes Simon Schama in “Foreign Bodies: Pandemics, Vaccines and the Health of Nations.” The author, a wide-ranging historian and an engaging television host, reconciles the weight of medical detail with the light-footed pleasures of narrative discovery. His book profiles some of the unsung miracle workers of modern vaccination, and offers a subtle rumination on borders political and biological.

. . .

Inoculation, Mr. Schama writes, became a “serious big business” in commercial England, despite the inoculators’ inability to understand how (p. C8) it worked, and despite Tory suspicions that the procedure meant “new-fangled,” possibly Jewish, interference in the divine plan. In 1764, the Italian medical professor Angelo Gatti published an impassioned defense of inoculation that demolished humoral theory. Mr. Schama calls Gatti an “unsung visionary of the Enlightenment.” His work was a boon to public health, though his findings met resistance in France, where the prerevolutionary medical establishment was more concerned with protecting its authority.

. . .

(p. C8) Mr. Schama alights on the story of Waldemar Haffkine, the Odessa-born Jew who created vaccines against cholera and bubonic plague. In 1892, Haffkine inoculated himself against cholera with the vaccine he had developed at the Institut Pasteur in Paris. He went on to inoculate thousands of Indians, and so effectively that his campaigns served as, in Mr. Schama’s words, “an advertisement for the benevolence of British medical imperialism.”

. . .

The author notes the contrast between the facts of Haffkine’s achievements and the response of the British establishment, with its modern echoes of the medieval fantasy that Jews were “demonic instigators of mass death.” Yet Mr. Schama’s skepticism of authority only extends so far. It would have been instructive to learn why, when Covid-19 appeared, the WHO concurred with Voltaire that the Chinese were “the wisest and best governed people in the world” and advised liberal democracies to emulate China’s lockdowns.

Haffkine’s colleague Ernest Hanbury Hankin once wrote an essay called “The Mental Limitations of the Expert.” Mr. Schama’s conclusion shows the limitations of our expert class, which appears not to understand the breach of public trust caused by the politicization of Covid policy and the suppression of public debate. You do not have to be “far right” to distrust mandatory mRNA vaccination. As Mr. Schama shows, the health of the body politic depends on scientific inquiry.

For the full review, see:

Dominic Green. “Protecting the Body Politic.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023): C7-C8.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date September 22, 2023, and has the title “‘Foreign Bodies’ Review: Migrant Microbes, Human Borders.”)

The book under review is:

Schama, Simon. Foreign Bodies: Pandemics, Vaccines, and the Health of Nations. New York: Ecco Press, 2023.

Mao’s Red Guard “Just Wanted to Beat Us to Death”

(p. C7) The Cultural Revolution is the monster that lurks behind the Communist Party’s claims of harmonious, orderly leadership in China. Under Mao’s direction, fanatical youth turned on their teachers, their parents, all figures of authority. This was an era of torture and violence, committed in many cases by mere children. Nobody was safe—perpetrators became victims, and victims took revenge. As many as two million died, and tens of millions had their lives destroyed.

. . .

In “Red Memory” the author explores how people in 21st-century China continue to process a collective trauma that the government would prefer to erase, even as the Party itself cannot put Mao behind it. The book unfolds as a series of portraits of people and settings tied to the events from half a century ago.

. . .

A music composer who was savagely tortured tells Ms. Branigan that he used to think there was some catharsis at work behind the violence, a correction of some kind to help bind people together. But there was not. “I wasn’t helping them at all,” he said of his tormentors. “They just wanted to beat us to death.”

. . .

The reporting in this book was gathered between 2008 and 2015, when Ms. Branigan was a Guardian correspondent in China. Poignantly, she observes that she could not have conducted such interviews today. In the past several years, even greater pressure has come down on those who wish to remember a past the Party wants to forget. People who spoke freely with her 10 years ago might not risk doing so today. The internet sites of commemoration have been shut down.

For the full review, see:

Stephen R. Platt. “The Chairman’s Children.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, May 13, 2023): C7.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date May 12, 2023, and has the title “‘Red Memory’ Review: China’s Cultural Revolution Still Echoes.”)

The book under review is:

Branigan, Tania. Red Memory: The Afterlives of China’s Cultural Revolution. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2023.

“He Lived as a Free Man and Died as a Free Man”

(p. A1) Thousands of people crowded a neighborhood on Moscow’s outskirts on Friday [March 1, 2024] — some bearing flowers and chanting, “No to war!” — as they tried to catch a glimpse of the funeral for Aleksei A. Navalny. The outpouring turned the opposition leader’s last rites into a striking display of dissent in Russia at a time of deep repression.

. . .

After a procession to the cemetery, Mr. Navalny’s coffin was placed next to his freshly dug grave. Video live streamed from the site showed his family members and then other mourners kissing him goodbye for the last time. Then his face was covered with a white cloth and the coffin was lowered to the Frank Sinatra song “My Way” and then the final song from “Terminator 2,” which Mr. Navalny considered “the best film on Earth.” Mourners slowly passed by, each taking a handful of dirt and tossing it into the grave.

. . .

Outside the church, people chanted, “Thank you, Aleksei” and “Love is stronger than fear,” according to videos from the scene. As they gathered next to the cemetery, mourners cried out, “peace for Ukraine — freedom for Russia!”

. . .

(p. A8) Some people traveled from far away to attend the funeral. Anastasia, 19, had flown in from Novosibirsk, 1,800 miles from Moscow, to be present.

“I came here because this is a historic event,” she said in a voice message from the neighborhood where the church service was held. “I think that he is a freer man than all of us,” she said of Mr. Navalny. “He lived as a free man and died as a free man.”

In Russia, it is considered bad luck to give living people an even number of flowers in a bouquet — those are reserved for funerals. But Anastasia said that many mourners carried bouquets with an odd number, “because for them, Navalny lives on.”

For the full story, see:

Valerie Hopkins. “Crowds Flood Moscow Streets Over Navalny.” The New York Times (Saturday, March 2, 2024): A1 & A8.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date March 1, 2024, and has the title “Thousands Turn Out for Navalny’s Funeral in Moscow.”)

Mirsky Saw Communist “Soldiers Shoot Parents,” Doctors and Nurses Trying to Help Students in Tiananmen Square

(p. A21) Dr. Mirsky was a professor of Chinese language and history at Dartmouth College when he visited China for the first time, in 1972. An antiwar activist and a self-described “Mao fan,” he went as part of a group representing the Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars, a radical coalition dedicated to ending the war in Vietnam.

. . .

Not long after arriving in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, the visiting group was whisked off to meet what was described as a “typical Chinese worker family.” Mr. Mirsky came away impressed. The family seemed prosperous, with a nicely appointed home. Crime, the group was told, was nonexistent.

The next morning, on a stroll around the neighborhood, Dr. Mirsky bumped into the father from that “typical” family. He invited Dr. Mirsky, who was fluent in Mandarin, into his real home, a shabby apartment, and explained that the group had in fact been in a show apartment arranged by the Chinese authorities for “foreign friends.” The man said further that there was no shortage of crime.

“I returned to the hotel, stunned by what I had seen and heard,” Dr. Mirsky recalled in an account of the trip that was published in the 2012 book “My First Trip to China: Scholars, Diplomats and Journalists Reflect on Their First Encounters With China,” edited by Kin-Ming Liu. Afterward, he wrote, he became “suspicious of every venue, every briefing, and every account of how everything should be understood.”

In just 48 hours, Dr. Mirsky went from being a “Mao fan” to a disillusioned skeptic, foreshadowing a similar shift in how left-leaning American intellectuals would come to see the Communist government in China.

“He had a sharp eye for the abuses of totalitarian dictatorship,” said Mr. Garside, the author most recently of “China Coup: The Great Leap to Freedom” (2021). “He was early to denounce the evils of the Mao regime before it became fashionable to do so.”

Dr. Mirsky maintained that skeptical stance even as he made the transition from academia to journalism.

As China correspondent for The Observer, he was at Tiananmen Square in the early morning of June 4, 1989, when the People’s Liberation Army, acting on government orders, launched a bloody crackdown on peaceful protesters. About 3 a.m., he was leaving the scene to file a report with the newspaper when he came upon a group of armed police officers. When they found out he was a journalist, they beat him, fracturing his left arm and knocking out multiple teeth.

Dr. Mirsky managed to dictate his article, which would appear on The Observer’s front page, by phone. The next morning he returned to Tiananmen, where, he said, he saw soldiers shoot parents trying to enter the square to look for children who had not returned home. They also shot doctors and nurses who had come to help the injured, he said.  (. . .)

“Tiananmen Square became a place of horror,” Dr. Mirsky wrote in his article on the day of the crackdown, “where tanks and troops fought with students and workers, where armored personnel carriers burned and blood lay in pools on the stones.”

He was named international reporter of the year at the 1989 British Press Awards ceremony for his Tiananmen coverage.

. . .

Dr. Mirsky was unsparing in his criticism of China’s Communist rulers and the Western leaders whom he believed were overlooking Beijing’s rights abuses to preserve economic ties. Throughout his career he wrote of the Communist Party’s insistence on controlling the narrative of China and, in his view, the deleterious effects this had on Chinese society as a whole.

“For the Chinese, lying creates a universe of uncertainty in which one of the commonest answers to questions is ‘bu qingchu’ — ‘I’m not clear about that’,” he wrote in The Observer in 1993. “There is virtually no aspect of life outside the immediate family or close circle of friends where one can be certain about the truth.”

For the full obituary, see:

Amy Qin. “Jonathan Mirsky, 88, Scholar on China Affairs.” The New York Times (Thursday, September 30, 2021 [sic]): A21.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the obituary was updated Sept. 29, 2021 [sic], and has the title “Jonathan Mirsky, Journalist and Historian of China, Dies at 88.”)

Mirsky’s account of the experience that changed him “from being a ‘Mao Fan’ to a disillusioned skeptic” appears in Mirsky’s section of the edited book:

Liu, Kin-ming, ed. My First Trip to China: Scholars, Diplomats, and Journalists Reflect on Their First Encounters with China. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2013.

The book by Garside, mentioned above, is:

Garside, Roger. China Coup: The Great Leap to Freedom. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2021.

3.7 Million Russians “Flocked” to Film Satirizing “Tyranny and Censorship”

(p. C1) By all appearances, the movie adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s cult favorite novel “The Master and Margarita,” in Russian theaters this winter, shouldn’t be thriving in President Vladimir Putin’s wartime Russia.

The director is American. One of the stars is German. The celebrated Stalin-era satire, unpublished in its time, is partly a subversive sendup of state tyranny and censorship — forces bedeviling Russia once again today.

. . .

“I had an internal belief that the movie would have to come out somehow,” the director, Michael Lockshin, said in a video interview from his home in California. “I still thought it was a miracle when it did come out. As for the response, it’s hard to expect a (p. C2) response like this.”

More than 3.7 million people have flocked to see the film in Russian theaters since its Jan. 25 [2024] premiere, according to Russia’s national film fund.

. . .

State networks didn’t promote the movie the way they normally would for a government-funded picture. And the state film fund, under pressure after the release, removed the movie’s production company from its list of preferred vendors.

The antics spurred a new wave of moviegoers, who rushed to theaters fearing the film was about to be banned.

“The film amazingly coincided with the historical moment that Russia is experiencing, with the restoration of Stalinism, with the persecution of the intelligentsia,” said the Russian film critic Anton Dolin, who has been branded a “foreign agent” and fled the country.

. . .

“The movie is about the freedom of an artist in an unfree world,” Lockshin said, “and what that freedom entails — about not losing your belief in the power of art, even when everything around you is punishing you for making it.”

. . .

When Putin launched his invasion two years ago, Lockshin opposed the war on social media from the United States and called on his friends to support Ukraine. Back in Russia, that put the movie’s release at risk.

“My position was that I wouldn’t censor myself in any way for the movie,” he said. “The movie itself is about censorship.”

. . .

The film’s verisimilitude was unmistakable for many moviegoers.

Yevgeny Gindilis, a Russian film producer, said that he had crowded into a Moscow theater near the Kremlin to watch it, and sensed some discomfort in the hall. At the end, he said, about a third of the audience erupted in applause.

“I think the clapping,” Gindilis said, “is about the fact that people are happy they are able to experience and watch this film that has this clear, anti-totalitarian and anti-repressive state message, in a situation when the state is really trying to oppress everything that has an independent voice.”

Gindilis recounted how one of the most uncomfortable scenes for people to watch in Moscow was the final revenge sequence, when the devil’s mischievous talking cat repels a secret police squad that has come to apprehend the Master, leading to a fire that ultimately engulfs all of Moscow.

The Master and Margarita, alongside the devil, played by the German actor August Diehl, gaze out over the burning city, watching a system that ruined their lives go up in flames.

“Today the whole country is unable to take revenge or even respond to the persecution, restrictions and censorship,” Dolin, the film critic, said. But the protagonists of the film, having made a deal with the devil, manage to get even.

The film flashes to the Master and Margarita in the afterlife, reunited and free. “Listen,” she says to him. “Listen and enjoy that which they never gave you in life — peace.”

For the full story, see:

Paul Sonne. “Poking The Bear Right In His Den.” The New York Times (Monday, February 19, 2024): C1-C2.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed year, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Feb. 16, 2024 and has the title “Life Imitates Art as a ‘Master and Margarita’ Movie Stirs Russia.”)

Even in Chinese “Oasis” for “Dreamers,” Space to Think Critically “Is Shrinking”

(p. A8) Welcome to the Chinese mountain city of Dali, also sometimes known as Dalifornia, an oasis for China’s disaffected, drifting or just plain curious.

The city’s nickname is a homage to California, and the easy-living, tree-hugging, sun-soaked stereotypes it evokes. It is also a nod to the influx of tech employees who have flocked there since the rise of remote work during the pandemic, to code amid the picturesque surroundings, nestled between snow-capped, 10,000-foot peaks in southwest China, on the shores of glistening Erhai Lake.

. . .

But recently, Dali has filled with a different crop of wandering souls: young people from China’s megacities, fleeing the intense lifestyles that so many of them once aspired to. Worn out by the high cost of living, cutthroat competition, record youth unemployment and increasingly suffocating political environment, they have turned Dali into China’s destination of the moment.

“Young people who can’t fit into the mainstream can only look for a city on the margins,” said Zhou Xiaoming, 28, who moved from Shanghai three years ago.

. . .

. . . nowhere in China is truly immune to the tightening political climate — as Lucia Zhao, the owner of the bookstore where Ms. Chen was reading Beauvoir, recently learned.

Ms. Zhao, 33, moved to Dali from Chengdu in 2022 after being laid off from a tech company. She opened her bookstore, which focuses on art, feminism and philosophy, because she wanted to create a space where people could relearn to think critically, she said.

But in August [2023], officials suddenly confiscated all her books, on the grounds that Ms. Zhao had applied for only a regular business license, not a license specifically for selling publications. She shut down for several months while applying for the license and rebuilding her inventory.

She was now more cautious in her book selection. Local officials dropped in occasionally to inspect the store and had recently scrutinized a display of antiwar books she had put out.

“You definitely have more latitude in Dali than in cities like Beijing and Chengdu,” Ms. Zhao said. “But compared to when I got here last year, the space is shrinking.”

For the full story, see:

Gilles Sabrié and Vivian Wang. “Enclave in Southwest China Offers Oasis for Drifters and Dreamers.” The New York Times (Monday, Feb. 5, 2024): A8.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed year, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated Feb. 5, 2024, and has the title “Welcome to ‘Dalifornia,’ an Oasis for China’s Drifters and Dreamers.”)

Navalny to Russian People: “Not Give Up”

(p. C1) In the opening moments of “Navalny,” the Oscar-winning 2022 documentary about the Russian opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny, the director Daniel Roher asks his subject a dark question.

“If you are killed — if this does happen — what message do you leave behind to the Russian people?” the voice asks from behind the camera.

Navalny’s ice-blue eyes narrow just a little, and he sighs. “Oh, come on, Daniel,” he says in heavily accented English. “No. No way. It’s like you’re making a movie for the case of my death.” He pauses, then continues. “I’m ready to answer your question, but please let it be another movie, Movie No. 2. Let’s make a thriller out of this movie.”

. . .

(p. C8) But if “Navalny” wasn’t intended as a postmortem, it’s chilling to watch it after reports of his death. He knows what might happen but doesn’t seem scared, just determined. The day of his return to Moscow, he appears nervy and intent, but with fellow plane passengers, he makes jokes about the weather, accepts their well wishes and watches “Rick and Morty” as they descend. This is, you realize, a resolutely unflappable man.

At the end of the film, Roher once again asks Navalny what message he would leave for the Russian people if he was imprisoned or even killed. Answering in English, Navalny responds, “My message for the situation when I am killed is very simple: Not give up.” Recognizing there’s more to the sentiment, Roher asks him to repeat his answer in Russian.

“Listen, I’ve got something very obvious to tell you,” Navalny says rapidly and fluidly in Russian, according to the subtitles. He’s looking straight into the camera and picking up steam as he goes. “You’re not allowed to give up. If they decide to kill me, it means that we are incredibly strong. We need to utilize this power to not give up, to remember we are a huge power that is being oppressed by these bad dudes. We don’t realize how strong we actually are.”

. . .

Navalny takes a breath, then continues. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing. So don’t be inactive.” He stares sternly into the camera, steel in his eyes.

And then his face cracks into a wide, joyful grin.

For the full review, see:

Alissa Wilkinson. “More Chilling, Posthumously.” The New York Times (Tuesday, February 20, 2024): C1 & C8.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the review was updated Feb. 18, 2024, and has the title “The Documentary Aleksei Navalny Knew We’d Watch After His Death.”)

In Final Message, Navalny Quoted “Hope, My Earthly Compass”

(p. 26) Aleksei A. Navalny, an anticorruption activist who for more than a decade led the political opposition in President Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia while enduring arrests, assaults and a near-fatal poisoning, died on Friday [Feb. 15, 2024] in a Russian prison. He was 47.

. . .

Mr. Navalny dedicated his final post on social media to his wife on Valentine’s Day.

. . .

The song he quoted, “Hope, My Earthly Compass,” is one of the best-known hits in Russia. Its refrain is “Hope is my compass, and success is a reward for courage.”

For the full obituary, see:

Valerie Hopkins and Andrew E. Kramer. “Aleksei A. Navalny, Russian Opposition Leader, Dies at 47.” The New York Times, First Section (Sunday, February 18, 2024): 26.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)

(Note: the online version of the obituary was updated Feb. 18, 2024, and has the title “Aleksei Navalny, Russian Opposition Leader, Dies in Prison at 47.”)

“Xi Is Dampening the Energy and Optimism of the Chinese People”

(p. A1) A song called “Tomorrow Will Be Better” became a sensation in mainland China in the 1980s, when the nation was emerging from the poverty and turmoil of Mao Zedong’s rule.

Its inspirational lyrics, which exhorted listeners to “look upward for the wings in the sky,” came to represent a generation that was starting to believe in a brighter future.

Now people in China are listening to the song again—but for a very different reason. Videos of the song are circulating on WeChat and other communications apps, often with taglines expressing sadness about the end of that era.

“The 1980s are gone forever,” wrote one listener. “So long, those years of burning passion,” wrote another.

For many Chinese, especially those who came of age during the past 40 years of reform and opening, China appeared to be on an irreversible path forward toward more growth, openness and opportunity.

But now China’s leader, Xi Jinping, is restoring aspects of Mao’s rule, forcing people to confront a more uncertain future rooted in China’s past.

Xi’s predecessors, beginning with Deng Xiaoping, embraced market forces, growth and limited freedoms. Xi, by contrast, is placing national security over the economy, tightening government control, and putting the Communist Party—and himself—at the center of Chinese society.

A Dec. 16 [2023] article published by the party’s influential journal, Qiushi, elevated Xi to the same historical status as Mao, calling Xi “the People’s leader”—a title previously reserved for China’s Great Helmsman.

Gone is the booming China that inspired many young people and entrepreneurs to take risks and bet on the future. Home prices are falling, youth unemployment is at a record high, private investment is shrinking, the financial system is drowning in debt and deflation is setting in.

. . .

(p. A9) “Xi is dampening the energy and optimism of the Chinese people,” said Susan Shirk, a former senior diplomat during the Clinton administration and author of a recent book, “Overreach: How China Derailed Its Peaceful Rise.”

“In a system so dominated by one leader,” Shirk said, “everyone feels powerless to effect positive change.”

. . .

In Shenzhen, Deng’s reform policies helped transform the former fishing village in the shadow of neighboring Hong Kong into a cosmopolitan city of 13 million, home to globally competitive tech companies such as Tencent.

“Time is money, efficiency is life” was the slogan that guided the city’s early development.

Today, Shenzhen has a new slogan: “Follow the party, start your business”—with the party coming first.

Communist Party direction doesn’t seem to be brightening the city’s future. More than a quarter of Shenzhen’s office space sits empty after Xi started a campaign in 2020 to rein in risk-taking at private firms. The regulatory crackdown wiped out more than $1 trillion in market value from publicly-listed tech firms and triggered layoffs and business retrenchment.

. . .

Faced with growing economic headwinds and challenges to order, Xi is doubling down on Mao-style control, embracing a Mao-era tool as a way to ensure national security.

The practice, called the “Fengqiao experience,” is named after a town in eastern China that gained national fame in the early 1960s when Mao praised the way its officials mobilized people to identify and punish so-called enemies of the proletariat—capitalists, traditionalists and the like.

People were encouraged to report on one another, with husbands informing on wives and children on their parents, leading to some of the most brutal aspects of the Cultural Revolution. After that tumultuous period, the “Fengqiao experience” faded into history.

Xi is trying to revive aspects of it to mobilize people to fix problems at the local level before they lead to widespread social unrest.

. . .

John Ling, an e-commerce entrepreneur in Shanghai in his late 40s, recalls a far more liberal environment in the early 2000s. Lured back home by China’s seemingly limitless opportunities after studying in the U.S., he started a business trading goods online.

Back then, “I did feel like you could realize your American dream in China, as long as you worked hard,” Ling recalled.

Year by year he felt greater government interference. As more capital poured into e-commerce, he said, Beijing grew concerned that the sector was diverting resources away from more strategic areas such as semiconductors, an industry in which China still heavily relies on Western firms.

Ling said it became so difficult to raise fresh funding for e-commerce that he decided to shut his venture earlier this year. “It’s all about hard-tech these days,” he said, referring to sectors now favored by the government. “But can you sustain the entire economy with just hard-tech?”

“It feels like nothing is possible” nowadays, he said.

For the full commentary, see:

Lingling Wei. “China Is Looking to Move Ahead, But Xi Revives Mao-Era Playbook.” The Wall Street Journal (Friday, Dec. 29, 2023): A1 & A9.

(Note: ellipses and bracketed year added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary was updated December 28, 2023, and has the title “China Wants to Move Ahead, but Xi Jinping Is Looking to the Past.” The fourth and eighth paragraphs quoted above appear in the online, but not the print, version of the commentary. In other sections where the online version is more detailed than the print version, the passages quoted above follow the online version.)

The book by Shirk mentioned above is:

Shirk, Susan L. Overreach: How China Derailed Its Peaceful Rise. New York: Oxford University Press, 2023.

China-Born Dissidents Supported Trump for His “Willingness to Confront Beijing”

(p. A18) Many who fled abroad after being detained in China for their political activism have been won over by President Trump’s willingness to confront Beijing.

. . .

Fewer than one-quarter of Chinese-Americans voted for Mr. Trump in the 2016 presidential election, according to a study by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

But many mainland-China-born exiles are different. Teng Biao, a prominent U.S.-based Chinese lawyer and a critic of Mr. Trump, draws parallels to Cuban exiles, who aren’t so much pro-Trump as they are anti-communist.

For the full story, see:

Sha Hua. “Chinese Dissidents Back Trump Claims.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, Nov. 23, 2020 [sic]): A18.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date November 22, 2020 [sic], and has the title “Chinese Dissidents Back Trump’s Claims of Election Fraud.”)

Communist China Increases Censorship of Negative News and Views of “Struggling Economy”

(p. A16) BEIJING—Several prominent commentaries by economists and journalists in China have vanished from the internet in recent weeks, raising concerns that Beijing is stepping up its censorship efforts as it tries to put a positive spin on a struggling economy.

. . .

. . ., Li Xunlei, an economist at state-owned Zhongtai Securities, warned in a column published on Chinese news outlet Yicai that insufficient household consumption would persist unless China’s leadership took steps to help lower-income families. Li also highlighted a study conducted by Beijing Normal University showing that some 964 million Chinese people, representing roughly 70% of the population, were living on a monthly income of less than 2,000 yuan, equivalent to about $280.

That data point quickly went viral on Weibo before it disappeared from the Chinese microblogging platform’s official list of trending topics. Before long, Li’s column vanished from Yicai’s website too. It has also become inaccessible on Li’s public account on Chinese messaging platform WeChat, where a message read: “The content can’t be viewed due to violation of regulations.”

For the full story, see:

Jonathan Cheng. “Negative Takes on China’s Economy Vanish Online.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, February 1, 2024): A16.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated January 31, 2024, and has the title “Negative Takes on China’s Economy Are Disappearing From the Internet.”)