søndag 24. november 2019

Torbjørn Færøvik: Vietnam vokser og vokser. Men landet lever farlig.

For noen dager siden hilste jeg på Onkel Ho. Han så ut som en voksdukke der han lå i sitt storslåtte mausoleum i Hanoi. Vietnamesernes revolusjonshelt døde i 1969, for femti år siden. Jubileet er blitt markert med taler og seremonier, og med høytidelige løfter om å «føre revolusjonen videre». 

Old China: Bound Feet and Bad Smell


We don't know when Chinese women began binding their feet. It was most likely around 800-900 A.D. The curious custom had to do with marriage, with sex, with beauty - and duty. This is a chapter from my book "Midtens rike" (The Middle Kingdom, Oslo 2009).

Torbjørn Færøvik: Tre asiatiske hoteller i særklasse



Endelig, etter årelange kvaler, kommer jeg ut av skapet for å fortelle at jeg har en utkåret i Bangkok. Ikke en kvinne, å nei, men en salong. En salong som er så lys og vakker at jeg besøker den så ofte jeg kan. Forfatternes salong på Oriental Hotel er mitt gjemmested i en av Asias travleste byer. Jeg finner den i hotellets opprinnelige bygning, en hvitmalt skjønnhet ved elva som bukter seg gjennom byen.

Her satt de i en svunnen tid, Joseph Conrad, Noel Coward, William Somerset Maugham, Graham Greene og alle de andre – John Le Carré også – med sine drømmer, drinker og skrivemaskiner. Somerset Maugham pleide å dra fram sin Remington i tide og utide. Ja, selv under innsjekkingen kunne han få en lysende idé og feste viktige ord til papiret. «Jeg har alltid vært interessert i mennesker, men jeg har aldri likt dem», lyder et av hans utsagn.


torsdag 24. oktober 2019

Boken du bør lese: "Kina - det perfekte diktatur", av professor Stein Ringen


Professor Stein Ringens bok Det perfekte diktatur. Kina i dag burde være obligatorisk lesning for norske Kina-aktører. Kanskje særlig for medlemmene av vår Kina-vennlige regjering. Boken utkom for tre år siden, men er fremdeles like aktuell. Ringen har forsket og undervist i sosiologi ved universitetet i Oxford. Hans bidrag går rett inn i debatten om hva slags samfunn Kina er og bør derfor leses av alle som interesserer seg for verdens mest folkerike land. 

søndag 20. oktober 2019

Chinese soft power is a carrot being undermined by a stick



China’s policymakers are well aware of the importance of soft power in shaping a nation’s standing in the world. Indeed, its leaders have often spoke admiringly of the concept first put forward by the US political scientist Joseph Nye in his 1990 book, Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power.


The former dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University had theorised that in an increasingly complex and multipolar world the constraints of “hard power” – the use of force, threats, coercion, sanctions, etc – were becoming increasingly obvious, and that states had more to gain by focusing instead on “soft power” – using the power of attraction, admiration and persuasion to achieve their goals.

US Must Better Prevent Importation of Goods Made With Forced Labor in Xinjiang: Experts

The U.S. must do more to ensure that goods imported from China are not produced through forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), where Uyghurs are subject to mass detentions under the guise of “vocational training,” experts said Thursday.

Speaking at a hearing in Washington held by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), witnesses highlighted reports of a widespread system of forced labor in the XUAR, which requires Uyghurs and other ethnic minority Muslims to work in the production of textiles, food, and light manufacturing.

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam defends police use of force


Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Saturday said the police have used "appropriate force of weapon" to respond to protesters in large-scale events and that the government will not tolerate any unlawful or violent acts, even by the police. In an interview with public broadcaster RTHK, Hong Kong's chief executive Lam said police officers have not deliberately adopted violence but have chosen "appropriate" measures for when rioters use violence. "We should have faith in the rule of law of Hong Kong, which also includes obeying the law," Lam added.

‘One Seed Can Make an Impact’: An Interview with Chen Hongguo

Chen Hongguo might be China’s most famous ex-professor. Five years ago, he quit his job at the Northwest University of Politics and Law in Xi’an, publishing his resignation letter online after administrators prohibited him from inviting free-thinking lecturers to speak to his students. After resigning, he decided to keep bringing edgy speakers to this inland metropolis by launching Zhiwuzhi in 2015, a reading room whose name is the Chinese translation of the Socratic paradox “I know that I know nothing.”

Zhiwuzhi is easily the most dynamic public space in China, hosting a dozen book clubs and two to three events a day, including regular appearances by some of China’s best-known public intellectuals, including Guo Yuhua, Hu Jie, He Weifang, and dozens more. While similar bookstores or arts spaces have closed or self-censored themselves into irrelevancy, Zhiwuzhi has remained open, a tribute to Chen’s desire not to preach but to educate the public in critical, democratic thinking—not as an opposition figure but as someone with one foot in the mainstream.

A Chinafile Conversation: The Future of Huawei in Europe


On October 9, the European Commission and the European Agency for Cybersecurity released their long-awaited risk assessment of the region’s 5G network. Written with input from all 28 European Union members, the report warned about a 5G supplier from a “hostile” country, or a country “where there are no legislative or democratic checks and balances in place.” But notably, the report does not explicitly warn against China.

American officials have been urging their European counterparts to take a stronger stance against Huawei, the Chinese firm that is the world’s largest producer of telecommunications equipment. The White House is considering financially supporting European makers of 5G technology, like Nokia and Ericsson (there are no major U.S. competitors to Huawei). At U.S. urging, Italy—which less than a year ago became the first major European economy to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative—broadened its powers to scrutinize Chinese equipment. The U.S. and Poland agreed to align their approaches to 5G. But in a setback to U.S. efforts, on October 15 Germany decided not to ban Huawei from helping to build its 5G network.

What does this risk assessment mean for Europe?

Hong Kong protests: bring back app or risk 'complicity' in repression, Apple told

A bipartisan group of prominent US lawmakers has urged Apple chief executive Tim Cook to restore the HKMap app used in Hong Kong, as protesters push ahead with plans for another unsanctioned mass rally on Sunday. Earlier this month, Apple removed the app that helped track police and protester movements, saying it was used to target officers. The seven lawmakers included Senators Ted Cruz, Ron Wyden and Marco Rubio and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

“You have said publicly that you want to work with China’s leaders to effect change rather than sit on the sidelines and yell at them. We, too, believe that diplomacy and trade can be democratising forces. But when a repressive government refuses to evolve or, indeed, when it doubles down, cooperation can become complicity,” the members wrote to Cook.

Apple declined to comment on that latest appeal but said on 9 October that it had begun an immediate investigation after “many concerned customers in Hong Kong” contacted it about the app and the company found it had endangered law enforcement and residents.

Hong Kong activist stabbed handing out pro-democracy leaflets at 'Lennon Wall'

A man handing out leaflets for a Hong Kong pro-democracy protest was attacked by a knife-wielding assailant who slashed his neck and abdomen on Saturday, days after a leading activist was left bloodied in another street attack. The injured 19-year-old, wearing black clothes and a black face mask, was knifed near one of the large “Lennon Walls” that have sprung up around the city during months of demonstrations, police said.

Local media images showed the man had been severely injured in the afternoon incident in northeastern Tai Po district. Footage posted on social media showed another man holding a knife shortly after the attack and shouting: “Hong Kong is part of China ... (You) messed up Hong Kong.”

lørdag 19. oktober 2019

Interview: ‘I’m Disappointed in Their Silence’


Sam Brownback is a lawyer, former United States Senator and former governor of the state of Kansas who has served as the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom since February 2018.

He spoke with RFA Uyghur Service Director Alim Seytoff on Oct. 17 about U.S. policies in response to the persecution underway in northwestern China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), where authorities have held an estimated 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas in a network of internment camps since April 2017.

Thousands Protest Anti-Mask Law With Human Chain Across Hong Kong

Thousands of protesters gathered across Hong Kong onFriday, linking hands and wearing masks of all descriptions in protest at a mask ban under colonial-era emergency laws. In a repeat of the "Hong Kong Way" protest in August, they linked hands forming a human chain that crossed most of the city's 18 districts, interrupted only by roads and other obstacles.

Many protesters wore Anonymous masks, while others donned surgical masks or flashing electronic creations, and still others covered their faces with photographic masks of Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam and Chinese President Xi Jinping, social media posts showed.

40,000 people are about to run a marathon in the world's most polluted city

More than 40,000 marathoners are preparing to compete on Sunday in the Indian capital New Delhi, where air pollution has reached dangerous levels. Images of the city this week show it blanketed in a thick yellow smog, some buildings barely visible through the haze. The air quality index, which ranks pollution on a scale of 0 to 500, reached 227 on Friday -- classed as "very unhealthy."

This score reflects the concentration of fine particle matter, known as PM2.5, per cubic meter. According to the World Health Organization, an acceptable air quality index score for humans to breathe regularly is 25.

Unsurprisingly, running in this environment can be dangerous. Microscopic pollutants like PM2.5, which are smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, can enter deep into a person's lungs and bloodstream, increasing risk of respiratory problems, cancer, stroke and heart attack. Physical exercise can increase the amount of pollutants breathed in by up to five times.

Abominable: anger grows over controversial map in Chinese children's film

Malaysia’s film censors have ordered a scene to be removed from the animated movie Abominable which shows China’s nine-dash line in the South China Sea, an official has said, amid growing anger among countries with overlapping claims to the region. The U-shaped line is used on Chinese maps to illustrate its territorial claims over vast expanses of the resource-rich South China Sea, including areas claimed by other countries.

Vietnam pulled the movie from cinemas on Monday, while the Philippines’ foreign minister has called for the scene showing the map to be cut and the film boycotted. Malaysia’s film censorship board said on Thursday it has given the green light for the movie t
o be screened in cinemas without the scene depicting the map.

Zhao Ziyang: Purged Chinese Communist reformer is buried


The ashes of reformist Chinese leader Zhao Ziyang, purged for opposing using force to suppress student protests in 1989, have been buried in Beijing. The remains of Mr Zhao, who died in 2005, were interred along with those of his wife in a quiet ceremony.

Mr Zhao was ousted as general secretary of the Communist Party in 1989 and lived under house arrest until he died. The crackdown authorised by officials killed hundreds, and has been excised from Chinese history books. Negotiations about what to do with the ashes of a man the authorities have also tried to write out of history have gone on for years. Only close family were allowed to attend the low-key burial in Tianshou Garden cemetery in Chaoping in Beijing's northern outskirts. Well-wishers and supporters were kept away.

"Today we are burying our parents with family ceremonies. The small ceremony is held in the atmosphere of family peace," Mr Zhao's daughter Wang Yannan told BBC Chinese.


fredag 18. oktober 2019

Cambodia’s PM Hun Sen Orders Military to ‘Attack’ Exile Opposition Leaders on Sight

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday ordered the military to “attack” exiled leaders of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) if they enter the country as planned next month to lead protests against his rule, as authorities continued a crackdown on the party’s supporters.

Speaking at a ceremony in the capital Phnom Penh to mark the graduation of exceptional high school students, Hun Sen ordered defense minister Tea Banh to deploy all forces and “state-of-the-art weapons” to prevent the repatriation of CNRP leaders, including acting president Sam Rainsy, who has vowed to return on Nov. 9 to lead a “restoration of democracy” in the country. “Attack them wherever you see them—you don’t need arrest warrants at all,” he said, adding that “All armed forces are authorized to carry out this attack.”


US Religious Freedom Envoy Urges Muslim World to Speak up For Incarcerated Uyghurs

U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback on Thursday called on the world and Muslim-majority countries in particular to “get their courage back” and confront China over its internment of some 1.5 million Muslim Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

Brownback, a former U.S. senator and state governor, told RFA’s Uyghur Service in an interview that Washington is focused on highlighting the detention camps and other abuses of the roughly 11 million Turkic-speaking Muslims in the XUAR. “This is a horrific human rights situation that’s happening—over a million in detention camps, while those that aren’t in the detention camps are in a virtual type of detention camp, with all of the security cameras and artificial intelligence systems,” he said.