Monday, October 26, 2020

Communist China Runs Your Bookstore and WorldCon too.


Difficult to know what to say about this. I'll just drop it here and y'all can make up your own minds.

As China tries to expand its influence abroad, it's going beyond politics and business to target literature and publishing. German publishers are among those that have been targeted by censors, as DW has learned.

The books were hot off the press when the request for changes came. Nora Frisch, owner of a small publishing house in the southwestern German city of Esslingen, was asked to stop the publication of a novel.

Dragonfly Eyes was written by Cao Wenxuan, a well-known Chinese author of children's and young adult books. Shortly after the German translation was completed, the Chinese publisher, who had licensed the translation, contacted Frisch and told her to take the book off the market.

The publisher told Frisch she would have to make some corrections. Otherwise, she was warned, a planned reading tour with the author would be canceled. "She was really verbally aggressive," recalled Frisch, whose Drachenhaus Publishing Company specializes in Chinese culture and literature.

Nora Frisch told them to cram it, apparently, and released the translation as it was. Good on her. But finding Chinese  government stooges getting involved in something that fine-grained is alarming.

Here's something else that's alarming:

As Chinese authorities have begun paying more attention to how China is perceived abroad in recent years, censorship has increased. President Xi Jinping has repeatedly stressed that he expects Chinese media and publishers to contribute to the country's soft power by "telling China's story well."

The impact of this policy recently became apparent in Germany, when Thalia, a large chain of bookstores, suddenly designated an unusual amount of shelf space to Chinese literature in some of its stores. Clients quickly noticed that the shelves lacked any literature critical of the Communist Party. Instead, speeches by Xi Jinping were front and center. 

Thalia later admitted that the display had been curated by China Book Trading, a German subsidiary of China International Publishing Group, which is owned by the ruling Communist Party. Thalia didn't disclose whether China Book Trading had paid for the prominent shelf space.

"Curated" is a euphemism for "bought-and-paid-for." Thalia may not have disclosed the information, but you can safely assume it was a display paid for by the publisher. What's alarming here is not that a publisher paid for a display, they all do that. What's alarming is that the Chinese Communist Party is making this kind of deep propaganda incursion into the West's culture. Obscure bookstores in dorky little towns in Germany have not escaped their efforts. Imagine what they do at Barnes & Noble.

In other news no one seems very bothered that the Chinese city of Chengdu is making a very well organized and handsomely funded bid to host the World Science Fiction Convention. Aka WorldCon, owner of the Hugo Awards. Puppy kicker extrordinaire and all-round asshole Steve Davidson at the link there is about the only person making a fuss. Everyone else in the SMOF universe seems perfectly fine with it. These are the same people who made an international media uproar over people like myself buying memberships to WorldCon and voting for books that we liked. You know, by the rules? They went so far as to label us all fascists and racists, and changed the rules of the convention to keep us out.

But the city of Chengdu is right in the middle of the Chinese Communist Party's effort to enslave the Uighur Muslims. The US consulate in Chengdu was closed by order of the Chinese government. (Interesting fact, if you Google "Chengdu Muslim" there's two pages of happy-slappy propaganda articles before you see the word Uighur in the results. Tell me that's not an arrangement.) Millions of people are incarcerated and made to work in prison factories. The correct word for that is slavery.

And nobody cares except Steve Davidson, apparently. (Sorry Steve, you're still an asshole. One good call doesn't make up for decades of assholery.) Plenty of comments over at the wretched hive of scum and villainy that is Vile 666 about how Chengdu is a nice city, and wouldn't it be nice, and can't we all just get along? In fact, Cat Rambo, another puppy kicker extraordinaire says Chengdu is a beautiful city that she remembers with great fondness, and hopes that things will work out in such a way that people feel comfortable going there.(No link, the Vile Ones do not get a free click from me.)

So far, there is no official or indeed unofficial objection from the publishing industry in Europe, Canada and the USA about Chinese interference, Chinese influence on their freedoms or indeed Chinese slavery. A vast cloud of quiet and "good manners" has descended on them all, the same people who still can't shut up about those eeeevile Sad Puppies and their racism.

Given all of the above, I speculate that a considerable amount of money has changed hands. Hunter Biden isn't the only one with "friends" I guess, there's suitcases full of Chinese cash showing up all over the place. If they can throw money at obscure German publishers they can buy Liu Cixin a couple of Hugos.

Update: Welcome Instapundit! Thanks for the linkage Sarah Hoyt! ~:D


Joe Wooten said...

Even DUCKDUCKGO does not show much past the happy stuff

Zsuzsa said...

Given all of the above, I speculate that a considerable amount of money has changed hands.

I'm not so sure about that. The World Con folks all seem to suffer from serious oikophobia; whatever the U.S. in particular and "the West" in general are doing is wrong, and whatever those who oppose them are doing must be right.

Reading the comments over at the Puppy Kicker's article, there was a lot of "Yeah, okay, maybe the Chinese are doing some bad stuff to the Uighurs, but what about the Native Americans and Aboriginals? Do we have any right to get up on our high horse?" or "China gets a bad human rights rating, but that's by western standards. Doubtless if the Chinese were rating their own human rights, they'd rate high and we would rate low." It's possible that these are essentially paid for by the Chinese government--but I've seen enough similar sentiments from the SJWs over the years to know its entirely possible they aren't. We've gotten our morality so turned around that I think quite a few of them honestly don't know the difference between the US and China any more.

The Phantom said...

Duckduckgo isn't much better, I agree. Which tells me somebody is spending a great deal of time gaming the algorithms. With Google we know there's an arrangement.

Kind of interesting that China Mike gets so much of his traffic from China, isn't it?

Robin Munn said...

Re: gaming the algorithms, it's time for a story. At one point a few years ago, I was planning a road trip from one city in SE Asia to another city in a neighboring country, which was located more or less east of the city I started out in. (Precise details left intentionally vague). I loaded up Google Maps to find out how long it would take, and found to my surprise that instead of taking the obvious route eastwards, Google Maps was suggesting a route that started out going west, then looped around in a huge loop through several countries. In fact, as I took a closer look at which countries it was suggesting, I learned that that route would take me through India's border with Pakistan, from there into Afghanistan, then through a couple other Stans and into Russia. After hours and hours of driving in Russia, I would then enter China at a point on its northern border, drive all the way through China to a point on its southern border, and then make my way from there to the city (and country) where my destination was.

This got me curious, and I started to examine other routes, and found out that other routes were doing the same thing: looping west through the Stans, north and east through Russia, and then south through China. Routes entirely within one country were acting normal, but any route that crossed a national border, unless the total length of the route was less than ten miles or so, was suggesting a trip through the Stans, Russia, and China. And... "Huh," I thought. "The crossing from Russia to China is always at the same point. Let me zoom in... okay, there's the name of the place where it crosses. Google that name... it's a tunnel, and there's a toll for using the tunnel. Okay, I understand what's going on now."

Google doesn't update the map data for every country around the world all by themselves. No, they buy map data subscriptions from other services. And one of those services had sold them map data for SE Asia that had been deliberately, shall we say, "tweaked" in its priority settings. I figured out a long time ago that Google Maps tended to prioritize major roads over minor ones, and that it had some kind of number assigned to each road. Local neighborhood streets would be a 1, larger streets with two lanes in each direction might be a 3, major city streets with lights every mile might be a 5, and interstate highways might be a 10. I figured the owner of the toll tunnel had paid someone to tweak the China map data before it got sold to Google, and had set the priority score of the tunnel to 9,999,999 so that it would always be picked as a route the Google Maps algorithm would attempt to pathfind with. (Or rather, would always be picked *if* the route crossed any borders; I imagine that if the route starts and ends in the same country, Google Maps' algorithm wouldn't consider any border crossings no matter how high someone had set their priority scores).

And that's not something that Google would have been a voluntary participant in. Unlike "personalizing" search results, having something that blatant in a Google Maps route is something that would be obviously wrong even to people without a single techie bone in their bodies, and that would cost Google in reputation. And sure enough, a few weeks (or maybe it was days, I don't remember now) later when I checked again, the cross-border routes being suggested were sensible ones.

So yes, China does know how to game algorithms. I've seen evidence of that with my own two eyes.

The Phantom said...

Zsuzsa said: "I'm not so sure about that. The World Con folks all seem to suffer from serious oikophobia; whatever the U.S. in particular and "the West" in general are doing is wrong, and whatever those who oppose them are doing must be right."

Lately there have been some very, very interesting revelations regarding US and Canadian (and probably Australian, British etc.)universities accepting -billions- of dollars worth of Chinese money over the last 20 years or so. Not Podunk U either, but Yale and Harvard, University of Toronto, all the bigs. Billions.

And, of course in the last 20 years we've seen political correctness become the biggest deal there is. Even a cursory examination of PC reveals that what is "correct" changes faster than women's hem lines. What was "bold feminism" five years ago makes you a TERF this year.

Given what I saw in this current article and connecting a few dots, it isn't much of a stretch to see Chinese money pushing along the whole SJW wave. There's no question that the SJW thing and Critical Race Theory -all- comes right out of the universities, and we know from history that the Soviet Union was all over the universities and Hollywood from WWII until the Wall fell in 1989. That's a matter of historical record these days.

All of that as background, do I think the Chicoms -paid- WorldCon -directly- for a Hugo? No way. Much too crass. Somebody would have squealed by now. But did China financially and through other shenanigans support the "Studies!" programs that make Chinese authors big "Own Voices! diversity heroes to the SJW brigades? I absolutely think so.

Let's face it, after 100 million murdered by Communism in the 20th Century, now 20 years into the 21st we're still facing explicitly Marxist Antifa and explicitly Marxist #BLM? In America? I'd have to be crazy to think that's not enemy action.

Good old George Soros is still a big name in #BLM and #Antifa shenanigans as well. Just sayin'.

Regarding the -idiots- commenting at Davidson's blog, I'm familiar. These are the type of people who equate crappy conditions on Indian reservations in the Canadian North with the millions of people shoved into forced labor camps by the Chicoms. You can't really argue with someone who considers those two things to be the same. That's the result of dis-educating a whole generation.

Banshee said...

Don't forget that Chengdu is also a center of persecution of Christians, and for the destruction of historic Buddhist, Taoist, and folk Chinese places of worship and statues of deities. And they hold formal conferences on how to better oppress religions and minorities! Yay!

Rix said...

If you add "camps" to Chengdu Muslim on Duckduckgo, about half the results are about reeducation camps. There is an entry for camping in Chengdu.

Charlie Martin said...

I suspect that you’re wrong about the Chinese wanting to enslave the Uighur. They want to eliminate the Uighur ; the slave labor is just a side hustle.

Dann665 said...

"Plenty of comments over at the wretched hive of scum and villainy that is Vile 666 about how Chengdu is a nice city, and wouldn't it be nice, and can't we all just get along?"

While there were a couple of "nice" comments, there were many more at File770 that were critical of the Chengdu bid for some of the same reasons that you present abo ve.

I don't think I've met anyone with a stronger work ethic than Ray Charles. - Clint Eastwood

The Phantom said...

Robin, nice anecdote on the Google thing. That's a great example. But we also know that Google is explicitly acceding to Chinese demands and taking their money all over the place, so there's no reason not to expect both overt and covert "fixing" in the works.

Banshee, re: the Christian oppression in China and the Middle East, have you noticed how many people out there are completely fine with that? Starting with the Pope of Rome and working down from there. Those Xtians, man, they were asking for it.

Rix, I see that you are correct. I guess even Chicom hackers can't plug every hole. And there probably is some lovely camping in Chengdu. Funny that it would be in English though, know what I'm sayin'?

Charlie Martin, given that they killed 80 million Chinese in the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, a few million Uighurs is a rounding error for these guys. I mean, if you're going to kill them anyway why not work them to death?

Dann665, there were five (5) comments on the Chengdu announcement post at Vile666 when last I looked. Four were nice, one was Steve Davidson. From WorldCon the organization there has been -nothing- that I am aware of, so there's that to consider as well. Given Kevin Standlee's non-statements on the Saudi Arabian bid, this is how they roll. Please compare and contrast with the ONGOING treatment of Sad Puppies by the WorldCon crowd. I'm not claiming that Vile666 is a bought-and-paid-for shill for the Communist Chinese government. I am saying that the contrast between Sad Puppies and the Chengdu bid is "interesting."

Andrew Fox said...

Thanks to the blog host for bringing these issues to my attention, particularly the Chinese WorldCon bid. It will be extremely interesting to see how that plays out. Even if the WorldCon voters decide to locate one of their annual events in a city I'd never dream of visiting, it won't affect my travel plans in the slightest, since I doubt I'd be very welcome at a WorldCon, in any case, due to my publication of these two volumes:

Hazardous Imaginings: The Mondo Book of Politically Incorrect Science Fiction (

Again, Hazardous Imaginings: More Politically Incorrect Science Fiction (

The Phantom said...

If Chengdu wins then I think its safe to assume the fix is 100% in, and they took the money. Unless there's some form of cheating I don't think the average WorldCon voter is going to vote for China any more than they'll vote for Saudi Arabia.

What I think is interesting is the disproportionate response. China wants in, they're "Meh, don't think so." Conservatives want in, "RRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!11! RAAACISTS!!!!"

Besides, who wants to go to a con and see nothing but fat old Leftists with bad haircuts riding mobility scooters?

Dann665 said...


There have been (3) posts that were explicitly about the Chengdu bid. The one you are referencing is about the announcement of the ambassadors. Not exactly the right space for criticizing the bid. YMMV

There was a second post regarding Anna Smith Spark's criticism of WSFS "accepting the Chengdu bid". That discussion could be summed up as "Hey, Anna, how about buying a membership so you can vote on site selection?" and "All bids are accepted for voting. It's the vote that matters."

The third one was about the announcement of the bid. That discussion had several people pointing out the problems with China and civil rights. Not everyone agreed and there were a few gaslighters, but the trend was generally against the bid.

There have been a couple other daily scrolls with discussions about the Chengdu bid. Again, the general trend is in opposition to the bid with a couple of exceptions.

Suggesting that the discussion is fairly represented by the single post about the announcement of the ambassadors is a misrepresentation.

I expect that there will be more discussion as the vote draws closer. I expect that it will get a bit more impassioned. Whether it rivals the Puppy-era discussions is yet to be seen. I suspect it won't get that far, but we'll have to wait and see.

There is no substitute for a militant freedom. The only alternative is submission and slavery. -Calvin Coolidge

The Phantom said...

Dann665 said: "There have been (3) posts that were explicitly about the Chengdu bid. The one you are referencing is about the announcement of the ambassadors. Not exactly the right space for criticizing the bid. YMMV"

And, "Suggesting that the discussion is fairly represented by the single post about the announcement of the ambassadors is a misrepresentation."

Okay, that's fair-ish. But today there's another Vile666 post about the Chengdu SFF fandom and it's big splashy award, and the Very First Post is Steve Freakin' Davidson backpedaling from his anti-Chengdu WorldCon bid position, trying hard not to look like a... racist Sad Puppy, I guess. Leaping into the air and landing on the fence as hard as he can. "Chinese fandom yes! Chengdu bid no!" As if any of this is about race.

So really, I think thou dost protest too much.

The Phantom said...

Okay, update on the Vile666 response to China Mike's latest Chengdu award show post, Steve Davidson's leap upon the fence remains the ONLY comment.

Readers may draw their own conclusions from that, I've already drawn mine.