#MustRead @NewYorker: China’s Bizarre Program to Keep Activists in Check


People the state considers troublemakers may be sent to jail—or sent on vacation.

bei lüyou—“to be touristed”—joins passive voice phrases describing things PRC gov’t does to people
Chinese #netizen slang: "whenever law enforcement frames people, or otherwise conscripts them into an activity, the prefix bei is used to indicate the passive tense. Hence: bei loushui (to be tax-evaded), bei zisha (to be suicided), bei piaochang (to be johned), and so on."
"In a joke [Chinese liberals—educated urbanites] liked about the 2016 U.S. election, a bunch of eunuchs are so appalled by the bawdy quarrels among the married folk that they congratulate themselves: 'How fortunate we are to be castrated!'"

"TThe Chinese police state can be at once harsh and accommodating, insidious and absurd. I got a sense of these peculiarities in 2008, when Jianguo was released after almost a decade behind bars, and a team of policemen was assigned to monitor him daily for three months."
"With the practice of bei lüyou, things grew stranger still. On the road, the three policemen assigned to Jianguo would look after him as though they were his assistants: they bought sightseeing tickets, checked in & out of hotels, helped with his luggage, took snapshots of him"
"The all-male quartet aroused curiosity and inspired innocent guesses about their relationships. 'So, are you father and sons?' 'Colleagues?' And, pointing at Jianguo: 'Is he your boss?'

Of course, their real boss was ultimately Xi, who chairs the National Security Commission."
As Andrew J. Nathan, a China expert at Columbia University, put it to me, in a succinct formulation, “#Mao was a chaos guy, whereas #Xi is a control guy.”

"If Sun’s thesis is right, the most urgent task for Chinese leaders today is not perfecting 'stability maintenance' but taking on the greed and cynicism that have become a national disease. Sun was, however, not optimistic about the prospects for treatment...."
"Bei lüyou is a symptom of this disease..the brainchild of someone who, alert to how lavishly the state will spend on all security-related affairs,figured out a way to creep through the back entrance of the great government banquet hall to join the feeding frenzy in the kitchen."
"The aim of bei lüyou was plainly to pamper diehard dissidents enough to soften their defiant spirit, but it could also serve as a morale-booster among the rank&file of the security forces. For them,it’s essentially a free vacation that counts as work..meichai, a beautiful duty."
"Jianguo was taken on four such trips between October of 2017 & September of 2018, providing almost a dozen meichai slots for the police. The officers varied as much as the itineraries, & I imagined them haggling over the rotation of these coveted slots."

"Perks must be shared. Once, Jianguo told me why an elderly policeman was assigned to his team for a trip south: the man was about to retire, and he’d never been to any tropical beaches."

"This is bei hexie, 'to be harmonized,' a form of virtual erasure. Bent on transforming the global Internet into a Chinese Intranet, official censors have made deft and extensive use of the method."

"You may know about @VP Mike Pence's recent speech on the @realDonaldTrump Administration’s #China policy, viewed by many as a declaration of a new cold war. But in China very few saw the actual text; it was met with swift bei hexie."

"The current arms race between the censors and the censored in China can be summed up in an old proverb: The monk grows taller by an inch, but the monster grows taller by a foot."

"Now Jianguo has been shut out of all large online groups. 'I'm forced to post my articles less often,' he announced in a recent post..'But I trust that all free voices cannot be blocked. Even if all the roosters are silenced, the dawn shall still come.'"

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