Chinese Corner: Guide dog Jenny, Hu Xijin, and 29 trips to the central petition office - SupChina
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Chinese Corner: Guide dog Jenny, Hu Xijin, and 29 trips to the central petition office

Jiayun Feng’s review of interesting nonfiction from this past week on the Chinese internet.

Custody battle over guide dog Jenny

导盲犬珍妮的退役之旅
The retirement journey of guide dog Jenny
By Shí àihuá 石爱华
December 17, 2018

After serving blind piano tuner Chén Yàn 陈燕 for eight years, guide dog Jenny, a 10-year-old Labrador Retriever, was scheduled to retire. Before being sent to a training school for professional guide dogs in Dalian at the age of two, Jenny was raised by Mǎ ēnshū 马恩书, who offered to be the puppy’s foster mom. Ma initially thought Jenny was too naughty to be an assistance dog, but much to her surprise, Jenny excelled at her job and changed Chen’s life, who lost her sight after a car accident and once objected to going out alone.

During her time with Chen, Jenny also became a celebrity dog who enjoyed great publicity on various platforms. She was a volunteer at the Asian Games, a performer at the Shanghai Expo, and was invited to a number of television shows as a guest. All of these, according to Chen, were her attempts to raise awareness and appreciation for guide dogs like Jenny in China, where society lacks understanding of their role, and where they are often denied access in public areas despite regulations that protect their rights to serve in public.

As Jenny got older, Chen needed a new companion to assist her. But she still wanted to keep Jenny around as a family member. Meanwhile, Ma, who raised Jenny in her early years, has been waiting for Jenny’s retirement in hopes of a reunion. The two women’s profound love for Jenny put her at the center of what looked like a custody battle, one which ended when the training base decided to send Jenny back to Ma’s family.

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Scavengers in Beijing

北京有个冷水村
There is a Lengshui (Cold Water) village in Beijing
By Bingdian Weekly 冰点周刊
January 2, 2019

There are about 150,000 scavengers in Beijing, but locals hardly see them. They never appear during the day, when cleaning companies and sanitation workers hired by the government are out performing their jobs. They play a remarkable role in recycling waste in the city, but people rarely give them credit — or acknowledge them at all. Instead, trash collectors in the capital face many forms of overt discrimination from the authorities and locals, which forces them to live in the margins of the society, confining themselves in a small community and cutting off contact with the outside world.

But thanks to Zhāng Jiéyǐng 张劼颖 and Hú Jiāmíng 胡嘉明, two sociologists who spent years documenting scavengers in Beijing, their stories are now being told in a book called Lives of Wastes 废品生活, in which the authors explore this minority group’s struggles and capture their fleeting moments of joy.

Additional reading;

Hu Xijin

‘I am not particularly smart. But I try to avoid risks as much as possible. I am a realist.’

简单的胡锡进
Hu Xijin is simple
By Hé Chén 何辰
December 27, 2018

The Chinese media industry has its fair share of divisive and vibrant characters, but Hú Xījìn 胡锡进, editor-in-chief of the nationalist tabloid Global Times, is one of the most controversial personalities in the arena. Hu has caught the ire of liberals, public intellectuals, and anti-China hawks of all kinds. They condemn his nationalist values, provocative comments on current affairs, and his palpable thirst for attention. They also argue that he is an unflinching defender of the CCP, calling him a “frisbee dog” (飞盘狗 fēipángǒu) who unconditionally endorses CCP policies and displays a complete lack of independent thinking.

But these criticisms have never deterred Hu from making wild political proclamations and sharing his views on issues that he is not supposed to speak critically about. His outspokenness is a vital part of his strong social media presence, which has earned him millions of followers on Weibo.

Regardless of your opinion of him, Hu is arguably the most influential journalist in China, and this profile is an essential read for anyone wanting to know more about him.

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Arrested petitioners

29 petition trips to Beijing behind an extortion lawsuit

一桩没有被害人的敲诈勒索案
An extortion case that has no victims on paper
By 罗洁琪
December 27, 2018

Since 2012, Cáo Ruì 曹锐 and Dīng Fèng 丁凤, a couple in Heilongjiang Province and owners of a small-scale taxi company, made a total of 29 trips to Beijing to file complaints against the local government, which, they believe, unfairly punished their local taxi business by imposing fines under false pretenses. Over the course of five years, they exhausted every method at their disposal to be heard, all while being closely watched by local officials.

Their hope of finding justice was finally dashed in October 2018, when they were sentenced to 13 years in prison for blackmailing and extortion. According to a local government official, the couple was punished for “making unending requests to maximize their personal interest and making excessive demands on the government.” But in court documents, no victim is defined — not one person who suffered financial loss due to their alleged crime.

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Below are some other articles that I enjoyed reading this week:

Jiayun Feng

Jiayun was born in Shanghai, where she spent her first 20 years and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Fudan University. Interested in writing for a global audience, she attended the NYU Graduate School of Journalism for its Global & Joint Program Studies, which allowed her to pursue a journalism career along with her interest in international relations. She has previously interned for Sixth Tone and Shanghai Daily.

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