Why was Microsoft hiding the Tank Man?

The China Letter: June 12, 2021

What looked like Microsoft restricting access to an iconic image of protest coincided with a startup facing the wrath of Beijing for merely making a cryptic reference to it. America prepares to take on China like never before—and Hungarians show what can be done. This and more in our latest weekly update of news worth knowing.

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1989 catches up to 2021

Microsoft blamed “accidental human error” for briefly blocking Bing image search results for the term “Tank Man.” But it seemed a little too coincidental to be in place June 4, the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, commemorations of which were also censured in Hong Kong, while another business seemed to virtually mark it:

“Tell me loudly: what’s the date today?” asked the Weibo account of Chinese e-commerce app Xiaohongshu before its profile was swiftly deleted. The startup that offers Instagram-inspired shopping said it was part of its routine series of questions for followers to answer, but now the operation finds itself being investigated by Beijing.

Getting ready to bite back

A massive U.S. bipartisan bill designed to counter the rise of China, by strengthening American technology and research, was passed by the Senate. The package also covers areas from banning the use of TikTok on government devices, to blocking Chinese-made drones, to allowing Taiwanese officials liberty in America.

The latest on the lab leak

The hypothesis of a virus leak from Wuhan was raised by an American government laboratory in a classified report prepared in May 2020. A year later, the revelation of this in the Wall Street Journal has added credence to the view that China has covered up the origins of COVID-19, despite the findings of the World Health Organization.

This week in protesting

A protest against China getting academic in Hungary appeared successful after the latter country backtracked on framing it as a done deal. The mayor of Budapest made his views known by announcing he’d rename four streets of the city after the history of Chinese human rights abuses, a subject that appears to show no sign of ending soon:

A new report from Amnesty International accuses China of creating “a dystopian hellscape on a staggering scale” with its treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslims.

The last words, for now

Table tennis is an Olympic sport where China has excelled, but there are signs of this domination under threat at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. So far, the Chinese team has won 28 out of 32 gold medals since the sport was introduced at the 1988 Games, which has led to ongoing curiosity about how much the country focuses on this sport:

The China Letter is produced by the Canadian Freedom Institute, a think tank based in Canada. We produce the China Letter every week to keep you informed and to press the ideas of free markets and free people not only in China but around the world. Please consider donating to keep this newsletter running!

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