For 80 years, a top Mao aide kept a diary detailing life near the center of the Communist Party. Before he died in 2019, his daughter spirited the volumes out of China—and into the a pitched custody battle over an unofficial history of China.
@jamestareddy Li was imprisoned for 20 years but kept writing after he was politically rehabilitated. A loyal cadre until his death at age 101, he was the rare insider to publicly criticize the party over Tiananmen Square, the Three Gorges Dam and China's direction.
@jamestareddy The fight between Li's widow and daughter over the diaries is taking place against the backdrop of Xi's call for a “correct outlook on history.” Stanford, which holds the diaries, says if they remained in China, they'd “be suppressed and likely destroyed.”
@jamestareddy Despite often dissenting from the party line, Li was accorded an official funeral with burial in Beijing’s storied Babaoshan Cemetery. Top leaders paid their respects, including Xi, who sent a wreath. A small group unfurled banners calling for democracy.

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More from @JChengWSJ

18 Sep
Two decades in the making, the multibillion-dollar Universal Beijing Resort—one of the highest-profile American entertainment investments in China—is set to debut Monday, amid souring relations between the two countries.
@Kubota_Yoko @qianweizhang
@Kubota_Yoko @qianweizhang The opening of NBCUniversal's $6.5 billion theme park in Beijing comes just ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics, for which NBCUniversal has exclusive U.S. broadcast rights—and which are already shaping up to be the most contentious in recent memory.
@Kubota_Yoko @qianweizhang So far, public reception has been encouraging. Tickets for opening day sold out in minutes. China’s new U.S. ambassador compared one Universal park ride to U.S.-China relations. “After all the tumbling and shakes, the rollercoaster came to a soft landing.”
Read 4 tweets
17 Sep
Beijing’s focus on regulating algorithms and its push for redistribution are theoretical wins for Chinese workers, says @chinalabour, though as independent contractors, many gig workers fall outside the new trade unions’ legal remit.
@chinalabour @shashamimi In August, Fang Ran, a doctoral student in sociology with strong Marxist convictions, was arrested and charged with subversion of state power. Friends suspect it was because of his interest in organizing workers.
@chinalabour @shashamimi In February, Beijing police detained food-delivery worker Chen Guojiang, known as a leader of a “delivery riders’ alliance.” He called out online platforms for violating rules and occasionally suggested fellow drivers protest labor practices.
Read 4 tweets
21 Aug
Behind Jack Ma's fall: A failure to keep pace with a fast-changing business landscape—and to appreciate the risks of falling out of step. He tuned out warnings for years and behaved too much like an American entrepreneur.
@QiZHAI @Lingling_Wei @jingyanghk
@QiZHAI @Lingling_Wei @jingyanghk Ma has exchanged a wall-to-wall schedule of business travel for golf and the reading of Taoist texts. He hired a teacher to learn oil painting, starting out with images of birds and flowers and then shifting to an abstract style.
@QiZHAI @Lingling_Wei @jingyanghk Initially, officials hailed Ma's work, including Xi Jinping, then the top leader of Zhejiang province, where Alibaba is based. After Xi became Shanghai’s top official in 2007, he asked: “Can you come to Shanghai and help us develop?” state media reported.
Read 5 tweets
20 Aug
Beijing has shut down a U.S. labor auditor’s local China partner, escalating a campaign to counter forced-labor allegations in Xinjiang and complicating efforts by multinationals to certify supply chains in the country.
@Lingling_Wei @wsjeva @Trefor1
@Lingling_Wei @wsjeva @Trefor1 Though Verite was small, Disney and Apple have hired it to consult on labor issues at Chinese factories. Now, the closing of Verite's Shenzhen-based partner after an April raid on its offices deprives companies of a channel to conduct audits in China.
@Lingling_Wei @wsjeva @Trefor1 For weeks, Chinese law-enforcement regularly interrogated roughly eight Chinese staffers of Verite’s Shenzhen partner, who were required to report to the police at 9 a.m. every day and not allowed to leave until around 5 p.m.
Read 4 tweets
19 Aug
"Common prosperity." It's not a new phrase, but it's one we're hearing more and more in China. After Xi declared victory over absolute poverty, expect the focus to turn to reducing inequality and boosting social mobility as growth slows.
@QiZHAI @yifanxie
@QiZHAI @yifanxie By reducing income gaps, says @BBikales, “Xi Jinping is seeking to rebrand the Communist Party’s image domestically and internationally…He wants this to demonstrate that socialism is better than Western capitalism in caring for all the population.”
@QiZHAI @yifanxie @BBikales How wealth is distributed has always preoccupied the Communist Party, but its views have evolved. Mao branded capitalists as enemies of the people. Deng said it was OK to “let some people get rich first.” Now, unequal wealth distribution is a big concern.
Read 4 tweets
13 Jun
"For the Chinese Communist Party, history is legitimacy…To make sure that history really appears to be on its side, the party spends an inordinate amount of time writing and rewriting it and preventing others from wielding their pens."
@iandenisjohnson "Xi has many goals, such as battling corruption, fostering innovation, and projecting power abroad through his Belt and Road Initiative, but controlling history underlies them all."
@iandenisjohnson "In theory, members are allowed to say what they want inside the party as long as they accept final decisions…In practice, the ever-shifting correct line means that…a statement that seems innocent now will become compromising later."
Read 4 tweets

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