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Inside the Ring
Question of the Day
“Domestic critics of the Chinese government focus more on official censorship and control of China’s new Internet-based media such as websites, online social networking tools such as Twitter, and other online resources such as bulletin board systems than on the SIS and its traditional methods,” the report says.
Most colleges and universities in China have a “student teaching information center” dedicated to student-informant-related work. Each class has a dedicated student spy who reports to the information center through e-mails, phone calls, written reports and other feedback forms.
According to the report, the spy system “soured” ties between teachers and students, with educators calling the informants “education spies.”
“Teachers reject being monitored by student informants, and worry that these students understand little about teaching methods and theories,” the report says. “Student informants worry that if they report teachers, the teachers will take their revenge and ruin the students’ academic careers.”
Some Chinese also say that promoting a “culture of denunciation” will hinder learning.
One lecturer at the Jillin Art Institute, Lu Xuesong, was suspended after a student spy reported in June 2005 that the lecturer had expressed positive views of a film about a Cultural Revolution-era dissident.
A more recent example was a student spying after the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to dissident Liu Xiaobo, when students who celebrated the award on Oct. 8 had their scholarships canceled.
“University authorities also investigated students who ‘showed unusual happiness’ on the day of Liu’s award,” the report said. “Some students wondered how their students’ facial expression could be known by school authorities, and asked how many student informants had been hired.”
A copy of the report was obtained by Secrecy News.
The incident was described by students as “facecrime,” from the George Orwell novel “1984.”
A professor in Shanghai, Yang Shiqun, was investigated in November 2008 after two student spies denounced him as a “counterrevolutionary” because he criticized the government during his class on Chinese classics.
To resist the student spying, some Internet users in China are posting lists of student spies, prompting denunciation of them by other students.
The report says Beijing is likely to expand the spying program: “The gradual expansion of the program now under way will bring the SIS to provincial and local-level universities, colleges, and other types of schools in other regions of China.”
Saddam and terror
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About the Author
Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
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