Editor’s note for Friday, June 5, 2020


Dear Access member,

Two things I’d like to point out before we get on with the rest of the news:

ONE: One of the most famous soccer players in China, Hǎo Hǎidōng 郝海东, joined exiled tweeting businessman Guō Wénguì 郭文贵 and right-wing American political agitator Steve Bannon in a YouTube video calling for the downfall of the Communist Party, an end to the People’s Republic of China, and the formation of a “New Federal State of China.”

The rather bizarre video features Guo and Bannon motoring around the Statue of Liberty in a boat, Guo telling Bannon he loves him, and then a remote appearance by Hao from an undisclosed location. At the end of his call for the New Federal State of China, Hao is joined by his wife, Yè Zhāoyǐng 叶钊颖, a former badminton world champion and celebrity in her own right.

Both Hao and Ye are household names in China. He led the country’s football team to its only appearance in the World Cup, and is still Chinese domestic soccer’s all-time record goal scorer. She ranked as the number one women’s singles badminton player in the world in 1995. She lost and regained that ranking several times before her retirement after the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, where she won a bronze medal.

Hao’s and Ye’s social media accounts have been scrubbed from the Chinese internet, but there has been no formal reaction from the Chinese government.

Earlier this week on Wednesday, a group of propeller planes “trailing banners that read

‘New Federal State of China’ flew over New York” notes Reuters, apparently paid for by Guo.  

TWO: “Facebook said Thursday it will begin blocking state-controlled media outlets from buying advertising in the U.S. this summer,” reports Axios. “It’s also rolling out a new set of labels to provide users with transparency around ads and posts from state-controlled outlets.” Chinese, Iranian, and Russian state media are the major targets.

Xinhua News Agency responded with an irony-free tweet: “If you really believe in free speech, you should let different opinions be presented freely. We tell the truth they won’t.” Also said with a straight face by Foreign Ministry spokesperson Gěng Shuǎng 耿爽: Facebook “should not place barriers selectively, even less politicize issues.”

Today’s briefing was Geng’s last day on the job: He will be moving to New York to become deputy permanent representative at the United Nations, in charge of public outreach and press strategies. His new posting will mean he does not need a VPN to access Twitter and Facebook.

Our word of the day is street stall economy (地摊经济 dìtān jīngjì). See story #3 below.

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief