lørdag 9. desember 2017

Confucius Institute in NSW education department 'unacceptable' – analyst

A former senior intelligence analyst for the Australian government is calling for an urgent review of an arrangement whereby a Chinese government-affiliated entity is embedded inside a state government department. 

The New South Wales Department of Education is the first government department in the world to host a Confucius Institute, part of an international network established by Beijing in 2004 to promote Chinese language and culture and, in the words of a former senior Chinese official, “an important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up”.

The gentrification of Beijing: razing of migrant villages spells end of China dream

City officials deny they are seeking to banish Beijing’s estimated 8 million migrant workers and claim their focus is saving lives by clamping down on illegal, unsafe and overcrowded buildings. Last week Beijing’s Communist party chief announced that ensuring safety and stability was now his “biggest political task”. But the scenes of migrants being driven from their drab rented homes – captured in heart-wrenching smartphone videos – have sparked public outrage just weeks after Xi began his second term promising citizens a “new era” of power and prosperity.

China Says It’s Open for Business. Foreign Firms Find It’s Not That Simple

The southern Chinese city of Guangzhou on Wednesday welcomed dozens of corporate leaders and foreign dignitaries with one overriding message: China is open for business. The reality on the ground was more complex. China is increasingly presenting itself as a global force: President Xi Jinping surprised the world in January when he told power brokers gathered in Davos, Switzerland, that the country planned to intensify its role in the absence of American leadership. 

That message was echoed at the Guangzhou conference, which was attended by the leaders of companies like Apple, Ford Motor, Philips and Walmart and foreign leaders like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada.

Eluding Censors, a Magazine Covers Southeast Asia’s Literary Scene

At Monument Books, a bookstore in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the magazine racks are stacked with copies of The Economist and other titles from Britain, Australia, France and the United States. But one top-selling magazine there was founded in Phnom Penh and takes its name — Mekong Review — from the mighty river that runs beside the city’s low-rise downtown.

Mekong Review was first published in October 2015, and each quarterly issue has featured a mix of about 10 to 20 reviews, essays, poetry, fiction, Q.& A.s and investigative reports about the culture, politics and history of mainland Southeast Asia. Supporters say it is a welcome platform for Southeast Asian writers and scholars of the region, as well as a sharp political voice in countries where speech is perennially threatened.

The Hwasong-15: The Anatomy of North Korea's New ICBM

On November 29, at 2:47 a.m. local time, North Korea carried out the first-ever launch of what is to date its largest and most powerful ballistic missile, the Hwasong-15. The launch ended a more than two-month pause in North Korean ballistic missile testing and refocused attention on the country’s rapid advances in ballistic missile technology in 2017.

Designated the KN22 by the U.S. intelligence community, the Hwasong-15 is North Korea’s second-ever liquid-fueled intercontinental-range ballistic missile (ICBM) design to see flight testing. Prior to its November 29 launch, the missile had never been seen publicly. The missile, which appears both wider in diameter and longer than the KN20, was delivered to a paved launch pad at a previously unused launch site on a new nine-axle transporter-erector. It appeared to be an indigenously modified version of the eight-axle WS51200 lumber truck that has previously been seen carrying three different North Korean ICBM designs, including the Hwasong-14.

Beijing’s Heavy-Handed Solution to Urbanization



Citing a deadly November 18 fire in one of Beijing’s many shantytowns, city officials are implementing a 40-day cleanup campaign to rid the city of unsafe structures. Most of these serve as homes to the 8.2 million permanent migrant workers living in the capital. The campaign aims to clear 40 million square meters of illegal housing in what will be the biggest facelift since the 2008 Olympics. The force and timing of the campaign, though, is leaving thousands of migrants without homes at the onset of a frigid winter. Universal backlash on social media, from intellectual groups, and international rights organizations came quickly.

Globe editorial: The breakdown of Canada-China talks is a blessing in disguise

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau emerged Monday from a meeting with China's Premier Li Keqiang to announce that, surprise, our two countries are not starting free trade talks, it was widely interpreted as a personal snub of the PM, and a loss for the government. But in time, what didn't happen on Monday may come to be seen as less of an embarrassment, and more of a blessing.

Canada has a long list of reasons to be cautious about entering into a trade deal with China. Our potential partner is not a free-market democracy; it's an absolute dictatorship, sitting atop a state-dominated economy. It's also not a rule of law country. And perhaps most importantly, describing the deal that Ottawa and Beijing were until Monday believed to be about to start negotiating as a "free trade agreement" diminishes the scope and scale of what Beijing is after.

At a Chinese Internet giant, Trudeau sells Canada – but is denied a live broadcast


Determined to control what its people can hear, China gives foreign leaders the ability to speak live to its people on only very few occasions. In 2009, when it gave that privilege to a U.S. president, it cut away from a speech by Barack Obama when he said: "recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions."

fredag 8. desember 2017

ANALYSIS: In China, Trudeau says journalism that informs, challenges is vital. Bravo


On Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s last day of a week-long visit to China — a week in which he had done his best to be a gracious guest and not say anything remotely controversial about the dictatorship that was hosting him — Trudeau said something rather remarkable. It may even be historic. Speaking on Chinese soil, in the presence of several members of China’s obsequious state media, he said that reporters play an essential “challenge function.”

Jailed for a Text: China’s Censors Are Spying on Mobile Chat Groups

In China’s swiftly evolving new world of state surveillance, there are fewer and fewer private spaces. Authorities who once had to use informants to find out what people said in private now rely on a vast web of new technology. They can identify citizens as they walk down the street, monitor their online behavior and snoop on cellphone messaging apps to identify suspected malcontents.

Years ago, in the Mao Zedong era, people were sent to prison, labor camps and death for opinions expressed in private. In the decades since China launched economic reforms after Mao’s death, prosperity and social mobility created room for more personal freedom and expression. Now China appears to be reverting to old form, empowered by new digital surveillance tools.

Vestlige nettgiganter bøyer av for Kinas cyber-sensur



Apple-sjef Tim Cook gikk god for Kinas visjon om internetts fremtid da han talte til mektige kinesere denne uken. Talen får vestlige eksperter og aktivister til å måpe. Apple-sjefens tale ble hyllet i statlige kinesiske medier som et skritt i retning av en felles tolkning av hvordan internett skal reguleres. Human Rights Watch var mindre begeistret.

Terje Svabø: Når Stortinget lærer av Kina

Valget av nye medlemmer til Nobelkomiteen har utviklet seg til en bisarr forestilling, hvor Stortinget spiller Kina-kortet ukritisk og helt uten tanke på konsekvensene. Det var kandidaturet til Carl I. Hagen som startet det hele. Et kandidatur heller ikke jeg støtter, men det er ikke poenget her: Skulle en vararepresentant til Stortinget kunne bli medlem av Nobelkomiteen? Hva ville det i så fall bety for komiteens uavhengighet? Arbeiderpartiet, med tidligere utenriksminister Jonas Gahr Støre i spissen, har frontet motstanden mot Hagen. Det hele visstnok basert på en frykt for at verden der ute ikke vil skjønne forskjellen mellom Nobelkomiteen og den norske stat.

China's debt levels pose stability risk, says IMF


Fears that China risks being the cause of a fresh global financial crisis have been highlighted by the International Monetary Fund in a hard-hitting warning about the growing debt-dependency of the world’s second biggest economy. The IMF’s health check of China’s financial system found that credit was high by international levels, that personal debt had increased in the past five years, and that the pressure to maintain the country’s rapid growth had bred an unwillingness to let struggling firms fail.

mandag 4. desember 2017

Big data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens


On June 14, 2014, the State Council of China published an ominous-sounding document called "Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System". In the way of Chinese policy documents, it was a lengthy and rather dry affair, but it contained a radical idea. What if there was a national trust score that rated the kind of citizen you were?

Imagine a world where many of your daily activities were constantly monitored and evaluated: what you buy at the shops and online; where you are at any given time; who your friends are and how you interact with them; how many hours you spend watching content or playing video games; and what bills and taxes you pay (or not). It's not hard to picture, because most of that already happens, thanks to all those data-collecting behemoths like Google, Facebook and Instagram or health-tracking apps such as Fitbit. But now imagine a system where all these behaviours are rated as either positive or negative and distilled into a single number, according to rules set by the government. That would create your Citizen Score and it would tell everyone whether or not you were trustworthy.

As China Rises, Australia Asks Itself: Can It Rely on America?


When the Australian government set out to write a new foreign policy paper, it faced hotly contested questions shaping the country’s future: Will China replace the United States as the dominant power in Asia? If so, how quickly? The government’s answers came in a so-called white paper released last month by the administration of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. For sure, China is challenging the United States in Asia, though in the end, it argues, America will prevail and Australia can count on its security guarantor of the past 70 years.

Poor bear brunt of Beijing coal cleanup with no heating at -6C


While middle class Beijingers breathe the cleanest air in recent winters, in Zhuozhou, a small city 20 minutes by train from Beijing’s downtown, residents are shivering through cold nights without heating. The reason: a five-year anti-pollution drive has forced rural areas in northern China to switch from dirty coal to the cleaner alternative. The massive retrofitting campaign has sent gas prices soaring while many are left without heating systems at all.

12 regimekritikere i Kina forteller åpent om skrekkbehandlingen de fikk da de ble tatt



Kinesiske menneskerettighetsaktivister kidnappes, tortureres og holdes fanget i månedsvis. Nå forteller 12 av dem historiene sine i en ny bok, The People’s Republic of the Disappeared.

søndag 3. desember 2017

BEIJING MIGRANT WORKER EVICTIONS: THE FOUR-CHARACTER WORD YOU CAN’T SAY ANYMORE



As the Chinese capital sets about evicting workers unfortunately described as the ‘low-end population’, two cornerstones of the country’s economic miracle seem to have come head to head: real estate and cheap labour. In the end, those four characters had to go, never to be seen or mentioned again: di-duan-ren-kou, or “low-end population”. A cold bureaucratic definition of low value-added manual jobs that somehow expanded to designate the people who do those jobs, has caused as much heartburn as the harsh spectacle of Beijing’s ongoing eviction of the people who fit that description. The censors have now banned that word from social media and elsewhere.