Last week, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) chalked up the Great Famine (1959-1961) to an “exploratory error.” The premier academic research organization castigated “Western hostile forces” for insisting that tens of millions of people died during the Great Leap Forward, a period of farm collectivization and other agricultural and food programs that converged with drought to kill anywhere from 18 million to 45 million people throughout China, more than died during WWI. (The Academy itself has recently been accused of harboring Western influence.) Instead, CASS explained, the deaths were the result of “exploring the construction of the socialist path.”
In this cartoon by Kuang Biao, three headless communists lead the way to nowhere. Skulls pave the land as far as the eye can see, sweeping into a dais where the three figures pose like martial arts heroes. Their “explorations” are blind, and only lead to destruction.
This week Badiucao honors the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong by linking it with the 1989 protest movement. In this image, the Tank Man is now joined by dozens of youthful, exuberant protesters who are “occupying” the tank. They are holding aloft a flag emblazoned with “抗命,” part of the term “civil disobedience”which has been used for the Hong Kong protests.
Occupy: 1989 to 2014, by Badiucao for China Digital Times
Eccentric tycoon Chen Guangbiao took the Ice Bucket Challenge to new heights when he submerged his entire body in ice water for 30 minutes. But many Chinese Internet users thought he was faking it.
Check out more cartoons by Chinese artists here.
(Cartoon by Dashixiong 大尸凶)
Badiucao comments on the health condition of human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who was recently released after three years in jail. Upon his release, Gao’s family and supporters expressed concern that he had been mistreated in detention; his wife told reporters that the poor condition of his teeth indicated that he had been tortured. In the drawing, Gao is seen undergoing a dental check, with the “red” dentist wielding a hammer and sickle in place of dental instruments.
Red Dentist, by Badiucao for China Digital Times
To honor the 110th anniversary of Deng Xiaoping’s birth on August 22, cartoonist Rebel Pepper (变态辣椒) served up a new cartoon on Twitter.
Deng Xiaoping’s reformist politico-economic theory is often summarized by the late leader’s maxim, “It doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice it’s a good cat” (不管黑猫白猫,捉到老鼠的就是好猫). Deng’s birthday this year comes amid the newly launched CCTV miniseries Deng Xiaoping at History’s Crossroads, which has been the cause of controversy due to its omission and revision of sensitive aspects of Deng’s tenure. Rebel Pepper’s cartoon uses the two-tone feline metaphor to represent sustaining points of contention about Deng’s career: the bloody crackdown on protesters on June 4th, 1989, and the culture of money worship ushered in by his sweeping economic reforms.
Rebel Pepper’s outspokenness recently made the cartoonist the target of a state media smear campaign. After posting a cartoon mocking pro-Beijing protesters in Hong Kong, state media highlighted social media comments about a trip to Japan which countered popular anti-Japanese sentiment so often encouraged by Beijing. Radio Free Asia notes that the cartoonist, currently in Japan, fears detention upon returning to the mainland. Last October, Rebel Pepper was briefly detained for sharing information about flood victims amid an ongoing crackdown on Internet rumors.
Cartoonist Badiucao riffs on images of officials and athletes at the Youth Olympics in Nanjing taking selfies to broadcast on social media networks, many of which are blocked in China by the Great Firewall. In his remarks during the Opening Ceremony, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach called on all in attendance to, “get your smart phones out and let’s set a record for selfies!” In Badiucao’s image, arms are reaching out of the Great Firewall to do just that.
Great Firewall Selfie, by Badiucao for China Digital Times
For his latest cartoon, Badiucao comments on the recent release of human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng amid concerns that he would continue to face strict surveillance and harassment. Gao served three years in detention on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power,” after being repeatedly detained and mistreated in recent years. Gao has handled a number of politically sensitive cases, including those involving underground Christians and Falun Gong practitioners.
In Badiucao’s image, Gao is a bird (reminiscent of the Twitter bird), leaving a small cage only to find himself trapped in a larger cage.
Free at Last? by Badiucao, for China Digital Times
Badiucao reacts to the long-anticipated news of a disciplinary investigation into former security chief Zhou Yongkang. Zhou fell victim to an anti-corruption campaign which President Xi Jinping promised would catch “both tigers and flies”—both high-ranking and low-level officials—but many suspect that factional rivalries within the Party were also involved.
In Badiucao’s cartoon, Xi devours a bowl of Master Kang instant noodles—a reference to a censorship-ducking online nickname for Zhou. The noodles contain a tiger’s tail and a frog’s leg—allusions to Zhou, the biggest tiger to fall so far, and to the allegedly amphibious appearance of Xi’s predecessor Jiang Zemin. Jiang’s name is now blocked as a search term on Sina Weibo, prompting speculation that he may be a future target.
(by Badiucao for China Digital Times)
For his latest CDT cartoon, Badiucao comments on the recent news that the photo-sharing app Instagram is missing from Android stores in China, though it is apparently still available from China’s iOS App Store and online. The disappearance comes amidst disruption in service of several foreign apps in China, though it is not yet apparent if it is part of a targeted crackdown or something else, according to Tech in Asia.
In his drawing, Badiucao reimagines the Instagram logo as “Chinstagram,” which is reminiscent of the “Chinternet,” a term used for the censored Internet that is available to users in China.
Chinstagram, by Badiucao for CDT