søndag 11. november 2018

Beijing Bars Independent Intellectuals From Attending Harvard Events on China’s Reform and Opening

While Chinese leaders vow to deepen reform and opening-up, the Chinese government seems to be doing the opposite. On November 5, China opened its first six-day International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai. In his keynote speech delivered at the opening ceremony, Chinese President Xi Jinping repeatedly mentioned China’s commitment to reform and opening-up over the past 40 years, vowiing to “push for a new round of high-level opening-up.”

On the same day, the Fairbank Center at Harvard University — one of the most prominent academic institutes for Chinese Studies in the world — also initiated a week of public events marking 40 years of China’s opening and reform. However, a group of Chinese intellectuals who had been scheduled to attend the Harvard events were barred from leaving China.

Anti-Chinese Sentiment on the Rise in Cambodia

When a Chinese national crashed his military number-plated SUV into a stone erected in Phnom Penh in the 1990s to celebrate Cambodian-American friendship, many commented on how it was the perfect metaphor for Cambodia in 2018. “Chinese nationals have come to invest in Cambodia, prompting so many problems to Cambodia and making the people suffer,” commented one Facebook user under a post using the #ChineseAgain! hashtag on a popular page focused on highlighting social issues. Whether it’s gangsters brawling in bars, drunk tourists crashing cars, or scammers running online extortion schemes, the Chinese are rarely out of the news here these days.

Young Activists Go Missing in China, Raising Fears of Crackdown

At least a dozen young activists who took part in a national campaign for workers’ rights in China are missing, friends said on Sunday, in what appeared to be an effort by the government to silence one of the most visible student protests in years.

Unidentified men in at least five Chinese cities rounded up the activists, who are recent graduates of elite universities, over the past few days, according to friends of the activists. The men beat several activists before pushing them into cars and driving away, the friends said. The activists, describing themselves as ardent communists who fervently believe in the ideals of Marx and Mao, have waged an unusual campaign against inequality and corporate greed that has gained traction at some of China’s top schools.

Ma Jian, Exiled Chinese Novelist, Hails Appearance as Victory for Rights

An exiled Chinese novelist spoke at a literary festival in Hong Kong on Saturday, two days after his appearance had been briefly canceled in a move that was widely seen as the latest erosion of freedoms in the semiautonomous city. The writer, Ma Jian, whose appearances at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival were reinstated at the last minute, said the reversal “proves the failure” of self-censorship.

Mr. Ma, a British citizen who lives in exile in London, said on Saturday that a robust literary culture helps to “safeguard the bottom line of our civilization.” “Of course there is no way literature can resist a political force,” he told reporters at a hastily arranged news conference. But he said that “in fiction we find our real roots: the goodness of human nature.”

Forget the trade war, China's economy has other big problems

China is riding out the trade war so far but its economic troubles run deep and could escalate rapidly if US tariffs really start to bite. Beijing is already wrestling with other problems that the trade war could exacerbate. 

China's economy is now growing at its slowest pace since the global financial crisis. It's laden down with debt and facing concerns about a real estate bubble and weakening currency. Despite the Trump administration's new tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods, exports are still growing strongly, up 16% in October. But that could change in the coming months if tariffs rise to 25% from 10% at the end of December, as the US has threatened, adding to China's growing list of problems.

fredag 9. november 2018

Writer’s Invitation Is Pulled, and Some Ask if Hong Kong Is Still a Refuge

A cultural venue run by a nonprofit organization with close ties to the Hong Kong government has abruptly canceled plans to host two events featuring an exiled Chinese writer, in what some saw as the latest sign of eroding freedoms in the city. The cancellation came just days before the writer, Ma Jian, was scheduled to speak at the Tai Kwun Center for Heritage and Arts as part of the annual Hong Kong International Literary Festival. It left festival organizers scrambling to find a new venue for the Saturday events.

“We do not want Tai Kwun to become a platform to promote the political interests of any individual,” Timothy Calnin, director of Tai Kwun, said in a statement sent to reporters on Thursday. “We have therefore worked closely with the Hong Kong International Literary Festival to find a more suitable alternative venue.”

Australia ramps up Pacific spending amid China debate

Australia will create a multi-billion dollar fund for Pacific island nations to build infrastructure, in an apparent attempt to counter China's influence. Delivering a major policy speech, PM Scott Morrison said he aimed to restore the Pacific to the "front and centre" of Australia's foreign outlook. Australia will offer up to A$2bn (£1.11bn; $1.45bn) in grants and loans to strengthen ties, he said.

In Beijing, China's top diplomat said the two countries were "not rivals". After meeting Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne in Beijing, top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said the two countries should be co-operating in the Pacific.

Historic Preservation or Just Ripping Out a Way of Life in Beijing?

Beijing’s latest urban preservation campaign swung like a wrecking ball this summer through the colorful shops along Yonghegong Street, a tree-lined road between two of the city’s landmarks: the Confucius and Lama Temples. Workers wielding crowbars, jackhammers and written orders from the city knocked out tiled eaves and wooden columns decorated with red lanterns and Tibetan prayer flags. Then they bricked up and painted over spaces that had once been doors or windows.

Yuan Hong, who a decade ago opened a hair salon on one of the distinctive alleyways known as hutongs not far from Yonghegong, showed up there early one morning recently to find workers knocking out her glass storefront. “Can you wait for me to get my face washed first?” she said she implored the workers. “Can you slow down a little bit?”

At China’s Internet Conference, a Darker Side of Tech Emerges

Every year at the World Internet Conference, held since 2014 in the photogenic canal town of Wuzhen near Shanghai, companies and government officials have convened to send a message: China is a high-tech force to be reckoned with. With that message now settled beyond much doubt, this year’s conference showcased something different. China’s tech industry is becoming more serious about grappling with its products’ unintended consequences — and about helping the government.

Discussions of technology’s promise were leavened with contemplation of its darker side effects, such as fraud and data breaches. A forum on protecting personal information featured representatives from China’s highest prosecutor and its powerful internet regulator. And several tech companies pledged their support for Beijing’s counterterrorism efforts, even as China faces international criticism for detaining and indoctrinating Muslims in the name of fighting terrorism in the western region of Xinjiang.

‘A Game of Chicken’: U.S. and China Are Risking a Clash at Sea

From a distance, the Chinese warship warned the American destroyer that it was on a “dangerous course” in the South China Sea. Then it raced up alongside, getting perilously close. For a few tense minutes, a collision seemed imminent. The American vessel, the Decatur, blasted its whistle. The Chinese took no notice. Instead, the crew prepared to throw overboard large, shock-absorbing fenders to protect their ship. They were “trying to push us out of the way,” one of the American sailors said.

Only a sharp starboard turn by the Decatur avoided a disaster in the calm equatorial waters that early morning in September — one that could have badly damaged both vessels, killed members of both crews and thrust two nuclear powers into an international crisis, according to a senior American official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the encounter in detail.

Interpol says no option but to accept China's removal of its chief

Interpol must accept the resignation of its Chinese boss, who is detained in China on charges of accepting bribes, the organisation’s secretary general has said. Interpol, which coordinates police work across the world, has been “strongly encouraging China to provide us with more details, more information” on what exactly took place when then-director Meng Hongwei was reported missing in early October, Juergen Stock told a news conference at Interpol headquarters in Lyon, France. The body investigating Meng, China’s National Supervisory Commission, can hold suspects for as long as six months without providing access to legal counsel.

Marshall Islands' president accuses Chinese interests of backing opponents

The Marshall Islands’ president, Hilda Heine, says accusations that she is destroying the country’s financial reputation by adopting a cryptocurrency are “baseless” and her opponents are being unduly influenced by pressure from China. Earlier this week eight senators moved to pass a vote of no confidence in Heine, the first female leader of any Pacific Island. The vote is scheduled to take place next week.

Heine’s opponents said she had bought the country’s financial reputation into disrepute by pushing ahead with the adoption of the cryptocurrency Sovereign as the country’s second legal tender, despite strident warnings from the International Monetary Fund to drop the “risky” plan.

World's first AI news anchor unveiled in China

China’s state news agency Xinhua this week introduced the newest members of its newsroom: AI anchors who will report “tirelessly” all day every day, from anywhere in the country. Chinese viewers were greeted with a digital version of a regular Xinhua news anchor named Qiu Hao. The anchor, wearing a red tie and pin-striped suit, nods his head in emphasis, blinking and raising his eyebrows slightly.

onsdag 7. november 2018

Why does the Chinese gov’t need to hire thugs to exert social control?

During the Occupy Movement in Hong Kong in 2014, protesters were reportedly beaten up by unidentified thugs from neighbouring Guangdong province in China. In 2012, local authorities hired scores of thugs to lock up the blind activist Chen Guangcheng in order to keep him out of the public eye. Local governments also work with professional intermediaries to convince aggrieved citizens to give up their resistance against the state, and engage private security personnel to intercept petitioners heading to Beijing.

China’s Nightmare Homestay In Xinjiang, unwanted Chinese guests monitor Uighur homes

Often, the big brothers and sisters arrived dressed in hiking gear. They appeared in the villages in groups, their backpacks bulging, their luggage crammed with electric water kettles, rice cookers, and other useful gifts for their hosts. They were far from home and plainly a bit uncomfortable, reluctant to rough it such a long way from the comforts of the city. But these “relatives,” as they had been told to call themselves, were on a mission, so they held their heads up high when they entered the Uighur houses and announced they had come to stay.

The village children spotted the outsiders quickly. They heard their attempted greetings in the local language, saw the gleaming Chinese flags and round face of Mao Zedong pinned to their chests, and knew just how to respond. “I love China,” the children shouted urgently. “I love Xi Jinping.”

How China is trying to decimate Uighur minds

Academics, journalists and rights groups have recently documented the accelerating repression of the 11-million strong Uighur population living in Xinjiang, a spacious, strategic and resource-rich northwestern borderland of China. The burgeoning security apparatus, ubiquitous surveillance, gathering of biometrics, the use of big data, and similar technological features of Chinese authoritarianism have invited comparisons of Xinjiang to an open-air prison or to the dystopian visions captured in Orwell’s “1984” or Zamyatin’s “We.”

Kina gikk opp til "FN-eksamen". Norges spørsmål til diktaturet får slakt av Human Rights Watch

Tirsdag stilte Kina til høring i FNs menneskerettighetsråd i Genève, noe som skjer med alle medlemslandene hvert femte år. Siden forrige høring har menneskerettighetssituasjonen i Midtens rike forverret seg kraftig. Ifølge Amnesty International er den verre enn på noe tidspunkt siden massakren i Beijing i 1989. Det siste året er det spesielt masseinterneringen av opptil én million uigurer og andre minoritetsgrupper i Xinjiang-regionen som har vakt oppsikt.

Uyghur crackdown in Xinjiang doubles security spending in one year

Spending on prisons and security-related construction in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang doubled between 2016 and 2017 new research has revealed, undermining China's denial of the existence of mass internment camps. Up to a million ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities have reportedly been detained in the past year inside enormous "re-education camps" in the tightly-controlled province, where former detainees say they were forced to endure intensive "brainwashing" sessions.

The claims, which have been made by activists for months, were confirmed as "broadly accurate" by the UK government in October. After initially denying the reports vehemently at the United Nations, China later changed its story without explanation to claim the camps were "vocational training centers", and the "students" were happy to be there and free to leave on completing their courses.