Japan’s Answer to Non-Surgical Breast Enhancement: Are You Ready for the ‘Air Bra’?

ladyair1

CosMedic notes that the Lady Air is superior to simple padded bras because the Lady Air is lighter, easier and more comfortable to wear, and, crucially can inflate to larger sizes.

RocketNews24 reports:

…Modern standards of beauty being what they are, it’s common for women to show a little bit of breast cleavage to signal confidence and sexiness (but heaven forbid a man display a little bit of his God-given testicle cleavage, amirite guys?),  but what if you’re one of the many ladies just a little too shy of material to work with? Sure, there’s the cartoon standard of stuffing watermelons into your shirt, but who’s got the time to hunt down two watermelons of the exact same size, anyway?

Luckily for small-chested ladies everywhere, Japanese beauty product manufacturer CosMedic has taken the guesswork and produce out of non-surgical breast augmentation with this deceptively simple air bra!

ladyair4ladyair3

…A product like this, of course, wouldn’t be complete without hilarious promotional materials that are an uncomfortable combination of late-night infomercial and late-night Cinemax softcore porn, hence this awkwardly pornographic YouTube commercial:

CosMedic notes that the Lady Air is superior to simple padded bras because the Lady Air is lighter, easier and more comfortable to wear, and, crucially can inflate to larger sizes. We presume there’s still an upper limit to the Lady Air’s inflation capacity, too, however, so don’t expect to be strutting around like you’ve spontaneously sprouted beach balls on your chest….(read more)

RocketNews24

Source: NariNari
Photos: CosMedic


Japanese journalist pulls a ‘Weiner’ in Thailand

Japanese media said the bureau chief, who is in his forties, had meant to send the picture to a female friend, but instead uploaded it through popular messaging app Line

Japanese broadcaster TV Asahi apologised Saturday after its Bangkok bureau chief posted an image of his genitals on a mobile forum set up by Thailand’s foreign ministry, which warned of “consequences”.

A spokesman for the channel said the unnamed employee had been removed from the job due to his “extremely inappropriate” behaviour.

“We deeply apologise to the Thai foreign ministry and other people concerned.”

— Spokesman for the channel

The ministry demanded an explanation for the graphic picture that appeared late Monday in the forum, which was set up for foreign journalists working in Thailand.

“We deeply apologise to the Thai foreign ministry and other people concerned,” the spokesman said, adding the journalist had been urged to “seriously reflect” on the incident.

Japanese media said the bureau chief, who is in his forties, had meant to send the picture to a female friend, but instead uploaded it through popular messaging app Line to about 150 journalists who belong to the forum.

He left the forum immediately after the incident, prompting a warning that “actions will be taken” from a ministry official and a vomiting emoji from one group member as a few others in the forum questioned what had just happened.

“May we remind you that this (forum) is for official purposes. Actions will be taken,” the ministry official said.

“Just leaving the room does not mean this action won’t have consequences.”

Cases of so-called “sexting,” or sending sexually explicit images by phone, have exploded with the prevalence of smartphones and other mobile devices. Read the rest of this entry »


Beijing Announces Addition of ‘White House Fence Jumping’ Event to 2022 Olympics

White House Fence

Though controversial, the addition of ‘White House Fence Jumping’ and ‘Freestyle White House Barricade Jumping‘ events to Beijing’s 2022 Olympics is seen as an important effort to bring creativity and excitement to Olympic competition in the 21st century.

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A full-scale model of the White House’s newly-erected barricades and pointy fences is being constructed in a top-secret location near Beijing. Government sources declined to comment.

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[VIDEO] Who’s the Champion of the Panda Kingdom? 37-Year-Old Senior Citizen ‘Jai Jai’ Breaks World Record in Hong Kong

Jai Jai has become the world’s oldest captive panda at the grand old age of 37, entering the history books and breaking a 16-year-old record, from her home in Ocean Park, Hong Kong.


China’s Aim to Rewrite Rules of Global Internet

china-web-wsj

Mission: Control online discourse, reduce U.S. influence

SHANGHAI— James T. Areddy writes: As social media helped topple regimes in the Middle East and northern Africa, a senior colonel in the People’s Liberation Army publicly warned that an Internet dominated by the U.S. threatened to overthrow China’s Communist Party.

Ye Zheng and a Chinese researcher, writing in the state-run China Youth Daily, said the Internet represented a new form of global control, and the U.S. was a “shadow” present during some of those popular uprisings. Beijing had better pay attention.

Four years after they sounded that alarm, China is paying a lot of attention. Its government is pushing to rewrite the rules of the global Internet, aiming to draw the world’s largest group of Internet users away from an interconnected global commons and to increasingly run parts of the Internet on China’s terms.

Unlike Putin, Xi Jinping is someone Obama does not want to alienate. | AP Photo

Flexibility

“Many Western companies are surrendering to Beijing’s rules so they can build a position in China, with an online population nearing 700 million.”

It envisions a future in which governments patrol online discourse like border-control agents, rather than let the U.S., long the world’s digital leader, dictate the rules.

“Ye Zheng and a Chinese researcher, writing in the state-run China Youth Daily, said the Internet represented a new form of global control, and the U.S. was a “shadow” present during some of those popular uprisings.”

President Xi Jinping—with the help of conservatives in government, academia, military and the technology industry—is moving to exert influence over virtually every part of the digital world in China, from semiconductors to social media. In doing so, Mr. Xi is trying to fracture the international system that makes the Internet basically the same everywhere, and is pressuring foreign companies to help.

“Four years after they sounded that alarm, China is paying a lot of attention.”

On July 1, China’s legislature passed a new security law asserting the nation’s sovereignty extends into cyberspace and calling for network technology to be “controllable.” A week later, China released a draft law to tighten controls over the domestic Internet, including codifying the power to cut access during public-security emergencies.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

Other draft laws under consideration would encourage Chinese companies to find local replacements for technology equipment purchased abroad and force foreign vendors to give local authorities encryption keys that would let them control the equipment.

Chinese officials referred questions about Internet policy to the Cyberspace Administration of China, a recently formed government body. That agency declined to make an official available to comment for this article. Read the rest of this entry »


The Iran Deal Isn’t Anything Like Nixon Going to China

obama-bow

Historical analogies most popular with the administration reveal precisely why this deal is so fraught with risk.

Analogies, Sigmund Freud once wrote, decide nothing, but they can make one feel more at home. President Obama is explicitly comparing his diplomatic triumph with Iran to President Nixon’s opening to China in 1972. Nixon, the president explained in a July 14 interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, “understood there was the prospect, the possibility, that China could take a different path” of “very important strategic benefit to the United States” — a point repeated in supportive commentary by Fareed Zakaria, and others. Meanwhile, former Obama National Security Council official Phil Gordon has cast the president’s breakthrough with Iran as a noble contrast to the George W. Bush administration’s alleged rejection of diplomacy with North Korea, claiming that Pyongyang developed nuclear weapons because Bush refused to implement a similar disarmament framework with North Korea negotiated by President Bill Clinton.

It is not surprising that an administration that came into office rejecting geopolitics and poo-pooing strategy in favor of “don’t do stupid [stuff]” would treat history as a plaything for twitter-sized talking points. But the historical analogies most popular with the administration reveal precisely why this deal is so fraught with risk.

Chairman Mao Tse-tung, left, welcomes US President Richard Nixon at his house in Beijing (AFP)

Chairman Mao Tse-tung, left, welcomes US President Richard Nixon at his house in Beijing (AFP)

[Read the full text here, at ForeignPolicy.com]

Nixon was right to play the China card against the Soviets in 1971 — but for reasons that simply do not apply to Iran. First, in 1971, China already had nuclear weapons and Nixon never asked Mao to abandon them. Second, the Soviet threat to Washington and Beijing, which ultimately drove the two countries together, was incalculably graver than the threat posed by the Islamic State to either Iran or the United States (the president and National Security Adviser Susan Rice have dismissed the Islamic State as “the JV team” and “not an existential threat” so perhaps they do not even really believe their own Nixon analogies). Third, the more militant, pro-Soviet faction in China led by Lin Biao had been purged by 1971, whereas Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Quds Force are on the ascendance and, in fact, will gain billions of dollars as a result of being delisted from the sanctions list. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Japan’s Comedy Central: Shōten 笑点

Don’t you love the theme music?

20140406 Shōten 笑点 #2409
出演:三遊亭小遊三、三遊亭好楽、林家木久扇、三遊亭円楽、春風亭昇太、林家たい平、­山田隆夫

Shōten 笑点 #2409


[VIDEO] Palace Intrigue: Chinese Soldiers Storm Replica of Taiwan Presidential Office

Chun Han Wong reports: Is Beijing doubling down on its longstanding threat to reclaim Taiwan by force? That’s a concern for some Taiwanese after China’s state broadcaster showcased a recent military drill that featured soldiers storming an apparent replica of the island’s presidential palace.

“The Chinese Communist Party hasn’t given up on armed assault on Taiwan, and their military preparations are still geared toward the use of force against Taiwan.”

— Major Gen. David Lo, spokesman for Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense

Officials in Taipei have denounced the drill as harmful to the rapprochement of recent years between Taiwan and China, after decades of hostility following a civil war in the middle of the last century. Political and military experts, meanwhile, say the apparent targeting of an important political symbol for Taiwan marks Beijing’s latest bid to sway Taiwanese voters ahead of a key presidential poll next January.

“Militaries routinely practice fighting in combat scenarios based on their operational priorities and strategic realities. For the PLA, this would mean missions in the South China Sea, in the East Sea, and of course Taiwan.”

— Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based military scholar

The newsreel in question, first aired by China Central Television on July 5, featured dramatic footage of an annual military exercise in northern China—spanning fiery artillery barrages, imposing armored columns and infantry assaults on a mock-up city. The video went largely unnoticed until Wednesday, when a Shanghai-based media outlet said it demonstrated how Beijing “would use force to solve the Taiwan issue.”

A screenshot of the CCTV report, which shows soldiers storming a structure that bears a resemblance to Taiwan’s presidential palace. youtube.com

A screenshot of the CCTV report, which shows soldiers storming a structure that bears a resemblance to Taiwan’s presidential palace. youtube.com

The CCTV report swiftly struck a nerve in Taiwan, where President Ma Ying-jeou’s engagement policies with China have proved divisive, compounding the declining public support his ruling Nationalist Party is experiencing over economic and social fairness issues.

[Read the full story here, at China Real Time Report – WSJ]

Many commentators on Taiwanese media directed their ire on segments from the newsreel that appeared to show Chinese troops advancing toward a red-and-white structure that closely resembled Taiwan’s Presidential Office—built in a distinctive European-style in the 1910s by Japanese colonial administrators.

A photo of the actual presidential palace. Bloomberg News

A photo of the actual presidential palaceBloomberg News

 “By making the threat more recognizable and immediate than missiles fired off Taiwan’s northern and southern tips, or drills simulating an amphibious assault, Beijing may hope to engage ordinary Taiwanese not at the intellectual and abstract level, but on an emotional one.”

— J. Michael Cole, a Taipei-based senior fellow with the University of Nottingham’s China Policy Institute

The implied assault on Taipei was “unacceptable for the Taiwanese public and the international community,” Major Gen. David Lo, spokesman for Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense, told local media Wednesday. Read the rest of this entry »


Apple’s Big Growth Driver: China

Westlake Apple Store, Hangzhou, China

Daisuke Wakabayashi reports: The biggest growth driver at Apple is not any single product. It’s China. 

The numbers are shocking. Apple’s revenue in greater China – defined by the company as China plus Hong Kong and Taiwan – rose 112% in the fiscal third quarter ended June. This means that growth is accelerating in China after a 71% increase in the previous quarter, which was considered something of a seasonally-inflated surge because it encompassed the Chinese Lunar New Year, a peak shopping period in the country.

“The macro picture looks fantastic. Maybe there are minor thunderstorms now and then, but that kind of goes with the territory. We’re just getting started there.”

— Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said he expects China to become the company’s biggest market at some point in the future. It appears that future is fast approaching. (Apple’s biggest market now is the Americas where revenue was $20.2 billion compared to $13.2 billion for Greater China, but revenue in the company’s home market grew a more pedestrian 15%.)

apple-tim-cook-china-mobile

“China is a fantastic geography with an incredible unprecedented level of opportunity there. And we’re going to be there.”

— Cook, in a conference call with analysts

A growing reliance on the Chinese market does expose Apple to concerns about China’s economy, exacerbated by the recent pullback in the Shanghai stock market. On Wednesday, Cowen & Co. analyst Timothy Acuri downgraded Apple’s stock to a “market perform” in part because he said he saw lower-than-expected iPhone sales as a cause for concern due to mounting evidence of “a widespread demand reset from China.”

Cook said the company’s bullish view about China’s future remains unchanged. He said it is still planning to increase the number of Apple stores in China to 40 by mid-2016 from 22 currently. Read the rest of this entry »


Japan: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Mocked on Internet Over ‘Raw Meat’ Fire Model

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Read more…

Japan Times


With a Few Words, Japan Escalates Its Standoff With China in the South China Sea

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Japan isn’t the only one pushing back against China’s expansion in the region.

Jennifer Peters reports: Japan has put its foot down — at least in writing — over China’s attempts to assert greater control of the South China Sea.

In an outline of a defense white paper due to be released at the end of July, Japan calls China’s efforts to lay claim to the much-disputed Spratly Islands “high handed.” The diplomatically sharp words come in the wake of China’s reclamation efforts of the islands, which have included laying the foundations of a military base on Fiery Cross Reef at the western edge of a part of the South China Sea fittingly named Dangerous Ground.

“The Chinese take kind of a Leninist approach to these things,” Currie said. “They probe with the bayonet until they hit steel, and then they’ll stop. When they start to see that people are serious about pushing back, then they will back off a bit.”

Over the past year and a half, China has built up seven reefs in the region, adding 800 hectares — about three square miles — to islands and putting an airstrip and the beginnings of the base on Fiery Cross Reef. China has claimed that its structures in the South China Sea are for civilian purposes — or at most for a defensive military role — and would benefit other countries. But Japan’s fight with China over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea has seemingly left them wary of Beijing’s intentions.

A Japanese patrol plane, pictured in 2011, flying over the disputed islands in the East China Sea.

A Japanese patrol plane flying over the disputed islands in the East China Sea. Japan Pool, via Jiji Press

“The US plays a unique role, because it’s not an Asian nation, as a relatively distant and disinterested outsider there. The interest we have is not territorial, it’s not to benefit ourselves in any way other than maintaining this open trade order that we benefit from economically, but not in any of the traditional ways that usually cause war.”

Japan’s decision to act on this wariness so stridently, however, is a recent phenomenon. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been pushing for legislation that would allow Japan to participate in collective self-defense for the first time since World War II.

[Related: China Goes on the Offensive in the South China Sea]

“[This is] a shift that’s been coming,” Kelley Currie, a senior fellow with the Project 2049 Institute, told VICE News. “The language is definitely stronger, and the whole effort around reinterpretation to the self-defense constitution has been a response to the multi-year trend of the Chinese being more aggressive and pushing their military advantage in the region.”

Japan's Self-Defense Force honor guards prepare for a welcoming ceremony of new Defence Minister Gen Nakatani in Tokyo on December 25, 2014. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised December 24 at the start of his new term to revive Japan's economy so he can pursue "powerful diplomacy", but China's state media warned him to be wary about changing the pacifist constitution.  AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI        (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)

China’s state media warned Abe to be wary about changing the pacifist constitution. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI 

“China is actually very worried about Japan and how far Japan might go.”

— Michael Auslin, resident scholar and director of Japan Studies for the American Enterprise Institute

Japan isn’t the only one pushing back against China’s expansion in the region. The Philippines is taking China to court over territorial claims to the South China Sea, with top Filipino officials appearing at The Hague to argue their case before a United Nations arbitral tribunal. China has called it a “political provocation.”

[Read the full text here, at VICE News]

“The Chinese take kind of a Leninist approach to these things,” Currie said. “They probe with the bayonet until they hit steel, and then they’ll stop. When they start to see that people are serious about pushing back, then they will back off a bit.”

Other than the United States, Japan is the only nation that can truly challenge China in the region militarily. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] End of the Umbrella Revolution: ‘Hong Kong Silenced’


In September 2014, VICE News documented the birth of the so-called Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong. When students organized a weeklong strike to protest China’s handling of the local election process, the government responded with tear gas.

Thousands of Hong Kong residents took to the city’s streets in solidarity with the students and the protesters occupied several major roads for weeks on end.

[Read more about the Umbrella Movement at punditfromanotherplanet.com]

Nearly two months into the occupation, the demands and resolve of the protesters remained unchanged. They started to become fatigued and divided against each other, however, and public support for their cause began to decline. The movement was under immense pressure to either escalate their action, or to retreat and give back the streets.

When VICE News returned to Hong Kong near the end of 2014 to check in on the protesters, we witnessed the final days of the Umbrella Movement’s pro-democracy demonstrations.

Watch “Hong Kong Rising

Read “Hong Kong Leader Warns Concessions Could Lead to ‘Anarchy,’ as Scuffles Break Out in ParliamentRead the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Most Corrupt Nation on Earth: 26 Surprising Facts About North Korea

North Korea is officially the most corrupt country in the World. The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks every country in the world from 0 to 100, based on how corrupt it is, with a score of 0 being very corrupt and 100 meaning very clean. Every year North Korea ties with Somalia for last place. Let’s uncover the most disturbing facts about the World’s favourite hermit kingdom.

 


Political Chill in Beijing: Xi Turns Back the Clock on Women’s Rights in China

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An emboldened Beijing clamps down on civil liberties

Andrew Browne writes: Although it would be almost unthinkable today, as a political chill descends over Beijing, two decades ago close to 30,000 women from around the world converged on a muddy tent village outside the Chinese capital to
promote a host of social and political causes.

“Even though the so-called ‘Feminist Five’ were released from custody in April, they say they are still being treated as criminal suspects.”

The carnival-style NGO Forum on Women made the authorities nervous, but it was part of the U.N.’s Fourth World Conference on Women, which China agreed to host as a way to polish its international image still tarnished by the army’s brutal suppression of student protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989. Hard-liners in charge at the time evidently figured the political discomfort was worth the gains to China’s global prestige.
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“Just as President Xi Jinping prepares to attend a U.N. summit in New York in September to mark the 20th anniversary of the landmark women’s conference, his administration has begun to clamp down on independent women’s groups for the first time since the NGO Forum.”

Tibetan activists set up stalls. Amnesty International, in China for the first time, rebuked the Chinese government over its human rights practices at a news conference. Then U.S. First Lady Hillary Clinton, one of the celebrity attendees, made herself popular with the women by lecturing her Chinese hosts about free speech and assembly after they withheld visas for some of the delegates.

Fem-Five-WSJ

The event became a watershed moment for the Chinese women’s movement. Because foreign NGOs would be there, Chinese authorities had to allow local NGOs to set up and participate.

They never looked back—until now.

Ironically, just as President Xi Jinping prepares to attend a U.N. summit in New York in September to mark the 20th anniversary of the landmark women’s conference, his administration has begun to clamp down on independent women’s groups for the first time since the NGO Forum.

The restrictions underscore just how far Mr. Xi is turning back the clock on civil liberties in China—all the way to the days of harsh political repression that followed the crushing of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

They also reveal a transformation in the mind-set of the government, still fearful of organized political opposition but so confident in China’s elevated place in the world that it no longer feels much compulsion to make concessions to its international critics. Read the rest of this entry »


Pundit Planet Math: Industrial Accident + Chinese Surgeons = Photo of the Day

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Zhou had his left hand chopped off during a work accident involving a spinning blade machine and was rushed to hospital

CAROLINE MORTIMER reports: Chinese surgeons have saved a hand severed in an industrial accident by grafting it on to the man’s ankle for a month before reattaching it to his arm. The surgery was carried on a factory worker known as Zhou at Xiangya Hospital in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province in central China.

Zhou had his left hand chopped off during a work accident involving a spinning blade machine and was rushed to hospital where Dr Tang Juyu, head of microsurgery at the hospital, decide to operate to give him the chance to “revive” his lost hand.

The surgical team were unable to reattach the hand to Zhou’s arm straight away as the severed nerves and tendons needed time to heal.

So his hand was sewn onto his leg in order to keep it “alive” until the arm was ready. Read the rest of this entry »


Japanese Hospital Intern Challenge: The Teeny Tiny Sushi Surgical Dexterity Test

tiny-sushitiny-sushi-pair

Want to intern at a leading hospital in Japan? 20 students have taken a speical test, in which they are expected to prove their dexteiry by making teeny tiny sushi with a surgical knife and a pair of tweezers.

[]

 


[VIDEO] 味も見た目も完熟スイカな「スイカバウム」を食べてみた

 味も見た目も完熟スイカな「スイカバウム」を食べてみた – YouTube.


Japan’s Peaceful Self-Defense

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Shinzo Abe moved closer Thursday to securing passage of legislation that will allow Japan to participate in collective self-defense. After seven decades of sheltering under the U.S. security umbrella, the Prime Minister’s move would give Tokyo the ability to fight alongside an ally when either one is threatened, while protecting stability and democracy in East Asia.

The Cabinet adopted a new interpretation of Japan’s postwar Constitution last July allowing this cooperation. In April the U.S. and Japan announced new defense guidelines to put it into practice. On Thursday the lower house of the Diet approved the plan, and now the legislation moves to the upper house.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

Progress hasn’t come easily. Most Japanese oppose the plan, and according to an Asahi poll, Mr. Abe’s approval rating has fallen sharply to 39%. There have been tussles on the Diet floor and raucous protests outside it. Mr. Abe will need the support of coalition partners with pacifist tendencies to prevail in the upper house, though he could still overcome a defeat there with a two-thirds majority in the lower one. Read the rest of this entry »


Vintage Magazine: Girl’s Club! 少女クラブ

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Disillusionment Among Hong Kong’s Youth Fuels Uneasy Separatist Longings

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The youngsters are members of a new front that is using increasingly aggressive tactics to demand an independent Hong Kong free from mainland China’s grip.  

Viola Zhou and Claire Baldwin report: On a recent Sunday night in the working-class Hong Kong district of Mong Kok, a group of radical young activists swore through loudspeakers and gestured rudely as they denounced mainland Chinese as “prostitutes” and “barbarians.”

The youngsters are members of a new front that is using increasingly aggressive tactics to demand an independent Hong Kong free from mainland China’s grip.

Their separatist yearnings have alarmed Beijing and the pro-Beijing Hong Kong government which are fighting back to win hearts and minds and forge a spirit of “love China, love Hong Kong” with multimillion-dollar information drives and exchanges.

The animosity on display in Mong Kok was virtually unheard of until recently, despite resentment toward mainlanders flooding into Hong Kong, and follows unsuccessful protests to demand full democracy in the city late last year.

The 'Umbrella Revolution' rallies together again after the October 21 talks

“I never call myself Chinese at school because it is a shame to be Chinese,” said 16-year-old “Gorilla” Chan, who, unbeknownst to his parents, founded a radical group with a 14-year-old friend.

He said violence is almost inevitable.

“That day will come sooner or later if Hong Kong remains like this,” Chan said.

Beijing sees national unity as sacrosanct and has ruled Hong Kong under a “one country, two systems” formula, allowing broad autonomy, since the city returned from British rule in 1997.

But Hong Kong’s prodemocracy movement, spearheaded by fresh-faced youngsters, has shaken the assumption of cozy accommodation between the mainland’s communists and the capitalist enclave.

The protesters demanded full democracy in a 2017 election for the city’s leader. But Beijing insists the leader will be chosen from a list of candidates it approves.

The anti-China radicals were galvanized by the democracy protests and gained traction later during protests against mainland shoppers swamping Hong Kong and buying up various items, including formula milk, and pushing up prices. Read the rest of this entry »


Breaking with the Past, Japan Moves to Allow Military Combat for First Time in 70 Years

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Mr. Abe has presented the package as an unavoidable response to new threats facing Japan, in particular the growing military power of China. He seized on the murder of two Japanese hostages by the Islamic State militant group in January as an example of why Japan needs to loosen restrictions on its military.

TOKYO — Jonathan Soble reports: Defying broad public opposition and large demonstrations, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won a crucial vote in Parliament on Thursday for legislation that would give Japan’s military limited powers to fight in foreign conflicts for the first time since World War II.

“The vote was the culmination of months of contentious debate in a society that has long embraced pacifism to atone for wartime aggression.”

Mr. Abe’s party and its allies in the lower house of Parliament approved the package of 11 security-related bills after opposition lawmakers walked out in protest and as demonstrators chanted noisily outside, despite a gathering typhoon. The upper chamber, which Mr. Abe’s coalition also controls, is all but certain to endorse the legislation as well.

“These laws are absolutely necessary because the security situation surrounding Japan is growing more severe.”

— Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

The vote was the culmination of months of contentious debate in a society that has long embraced pacifism to atone for wartime aggression. It was a significant victory for Mr. Abe, a conservative politician who has devoted his career to moving Japan beyond guilt over its militarist past and toward his vision of a “normal country” with a larger role in global affairs.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Parliament on Thursday. He has championed legislation that would giving the Japanese military limited powers to fight overseas. Credit Franck Robichon/European Pressphoto Agency

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Parliament on Thursday. He has championed legislation that would giving the Japanese military limited powers to fight overseas. Credit Franck Robichon/European Pressphoto Agency

“Critics, including a majority of Japanese constitutional specialists, say it violates the country’s postwar charter, which renounces war. But the legislation is supported by the United States, Japan’s wartime foe turned ally and protector, which has welcomed a larger role for Tokyo in regional security as a counterweight to a more assertive China.”

Mr. Abe has pressed this agenda, though, against the wishes of much of the Japanese public, and his moves have generated unease across Asia, especially in countries it once occupied and where its troops committed atrocities. Final passage of the bills would represent a break from the strictly defensive stance maintained by the Japanese military in the decades since the war.

hua-chunying-china

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying

“We solemnly urge the Japanese side to draw hard lessons from history, stick to the path of peaceful development, respect the major security concerns of its Asian neighbors, and refrain from jeopardizing China’s sovereignty and security interests or crippling regional peace and stability.”

— Hua Chunying, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, condemning the package

Critics, including a majority of Japanese constitutional specialists, say it violates the country’s postwar charter, which renounces war. But the legislation is supported by the United States, Japan’s wartime foe turned ally and protector, which has welcomed a larger role for Tokyo in regional security as a counterweight to a more assertive China.

Mr. Abe has spent considerable political capital pushing the bills through. Voters oppose them by a ratio of roughly two to one, according to numerous surveys, and the government’s support ratings, which were once high, fell to around 40 percent in several polls taken this month.

[Read the full text here, at The New York Times]

Mr. Abe has presented the package as an unavoidable response to new threats facing Japan, in particular the growing military power of China. He seized on the murder of two Japanese hostages by the Islamic State militant group in January as an example of why Japan needs to loosen restrictions on its military, suggesting that the military might have rescued them if it had been free to act. Read the rest of this entry »


Shopping Abroad: China’s Rich Seek Shelter from Stock Market Storm in Foreign Property

property-chines

Around 91,000 wealthy Chinese sought second citizenship between 2000 and 2014, a factor that is fueling demand to buy foreign property

Jane Wardell and Kate Holton report: Realtors in Australia, Britain and Canada are bracing for a surge of new interest in their already hot property markets, with early signs that wealthy Chinese investors are seeking a safe haven from the turmoil in Shanghai’s equity markets.

“There is anecdotal evidence that Chinese buyers have intensified their interest in ‘safe haven’ global property markets, including London, as a result of the recent stock market volatility.”

Sydney realtor Michael Pallier said in the past week alone he has sold two new apartments and shown a A$13.8 million ($10.3 million) house in the harbourside city to Chinese buyers looking for an alternative to stocks.

“A lot of high net worth individuals had already taken money out of the stock market because it was getting just too hot,” Pallier, the principal of Sydney Sotheby’s International Realty, said. “There’s a huge amount of cash sitting in China and I think you’ll find a lot of that comes to the Australian property market.”

foreign-buyers

“It is unusual to see the Chinese block buying, it implies that this is a capital movement rather than just individuals looking to park money.”

Around 20 percent has been knocked off the value of Chinese shares since mid-June, although attempts by authorities to stem the bleeding are having some effect.

Many wealthy Chinese investors had already cashed out. Major shareholders sold 360 billion yuan ($58 billion) in the first five months of 2015 alone, compared to 190 billion yuan in all of 2014 and an average of 100 billion yuan in prior years, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

While much of that money may initially be parked in more liquid assets like U.S. Treasury bonds and safe-haven currencies such as the Swiss franc, there is growing evidence that foreign property sales may receive a boost.

yuan

“Chinese investors had already sunk around $5 billion into U.S. real estate in the first six months of 2015, more than the $4 billion they invested in the whole of 2014.”

“There is anecdotal evidence that Chinese buyers have intensified their interest in ‘safe haven’ global property markets, including London, as a result of the recent stock market volatility,” said Tom Bill, head of London residential research at Knight Frank.

Ed Mead, executive director of realtor Douglas & Gordon in London, said his firm had seen two buyers from China looking to buy whole blocks of flats.

State Department officials said they are reviewing the sale of the famous hotel to a Chinese insurance company with possible ties to the country's Communist Party. JUSTIN LANE/EPA

State Department officials said they are reviewing the sale of the famous hotel to a Chinese insurance company with possible ties to the country’s Communist Party. JUSTIN LANE/EPA

“It is unusual to see the Chinese block buying, it implies that this is a capital movement rather than just individuals looking to park money.”

RICH EXODUS

Since 2000, China has had the world’s largest outflow of high net worth individuals. Around 91,000 wealthy Chinese sought second citizenship between 2000 and 2014, according to a report by residence investment broker Lio Global, a factor that is fueling demand to buy foreign property. Read the rest of this entry »


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