Te-Ping Chen writes: China has long struggled with the question of how to build world-class universities that encourage creativity and innovation. This week, that challenge was again in the spotlight after Shanghai’s prestigious Fudan University – one of the country’s best schools – pulled a glossy promotional video from its website, following a public outcry over allegations of plagiarism.
Posted earlier this week, the video bears a striking resemblance to the University of Tokyo’s official promotional video, “Explorer,” which was released last year. In it, an astronaut walks through campus and the city of Tokyo, narrating in English in a contemplative voice.
“I took this city as an explorer, ate with strangers from the same bowl, laughed, partied together, became a family,” the astronaut intones in English, as the video shows footage of her busting various moves on a laser beam-lit dance floor. The video culminates with a shot of the main character removing her white helmet to reveal a woman identified as astronaut Naoko Yamazaki, class of 1993.
Fudan University’s film follows a similar arc, with the main character dressed in a flight suit and shown partying on a dance floor. When she whips off her helmet at the end of the video, it is revealed that she is Le Yafei, class of 2009 and a flight test engineer.
Social media users were quick to mock the video, which the university explained earlier this week was produced in English in keeping with its increasingly internationalized campus. Read the rest of this entry »
The survey comes amid reports that federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh have indicted 15 Chinese citizens for allegedly taking part in a college exam scheme
Liyan Qi reports: As tens of thousands of Chinese students prepare to study in the U.S., they might reflect on the experience of some of those who went before them. According to an estimate by a U.S. education company, some 8,000 Chinese students were expelled from American universities last year alone – and the main reasons were poor grades and cheating.
“This is an issue not just about students in the U.S., but about the entire higher-education system in China.”
The estimate by WholeRen Education, a U.S. company that caters to Chinese students, was based on official U.S. data and a survey of 1,657 students expelled from American universities last year. More than 80% of these students were expelled because of poor academic performance or dishonesty, the company said.
“Chinese students used to be considered top-notch but over the past five years their image has changed completely — wealthy kids who cheat.”
— Chen Hang, chief development officer at WholeRen
The company surveyed students about their U.S. study experience a year earlier but didn’t make any estimate for expulsions.
The survey comes amid reports that federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh have indicted 15 Chinese citizens for allegedly taking part in a college exam scheme.
Stacked up against the huge numbers of Chinese students who go to American universities every year, the failure rate isn’t so bad, WholeRen said, though it does suggest a change in the once-shining image of students from China. Read the rest of this entry »
Some student groups won’t join annual vigil on June 4
HONG KONG— Isabella Steger reports: Every year for a quarter-century, large Hong Kong crowds have commemorated the 1989 crackdown on student protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. This June 4, some young Hong Kongers say they won’t join in.
Much like in Beijing in 1989, student groups were at the forefront of the monthslong pro-democracy protests that paralyzed much of Hong Kong last year and which challenged Beijing on how Hong Kong should elect its leader.
“I feel very sad. It’s a watershed year in my life” she said. “To call the ocean of candlelight ceremonial or perfunctory, it’s just not fair.”
— Claudia Mo, an opposition lawmaker and former journalist who was in Beijing during the 1989 crackdown
Unlike in Beijing, the Hong Kong protests ended peacefully, though with no visible concession from the Chinese government. What the rallies also did was lay bare a growing chasm between old and young over Hong Kong’s identity and relationship with Beijing. That rift is now playing out over the annual Tiananmen vigil, with some student groups saying Hong Kongers should focus on democratic rights in the territory rather than on the mainland.
“Every year it’s the same, we sing the same songs and watch the same videos. For some people, going to the vigil is a bit like clocking in. Should we continue looking back on a historical event, or focus on the more urgent situation here now?”
— Cameron Chan, 20, a social-sciences student at the University of Hong Kong
The University of Hong Kong’s student union will organize its own June 4 event “to reflect on the future of democracy in Hong Kong.” Separately, the Hong Kong Federation of Students, the main group leading last year’s protests, said that for the first time it won’t participate in the vigil as an organization.
“I feel very sad,” said Claudia Mo, an opposition lawmaker and former journalist who was in Beijing during the 1989 crackdown. “It’s a watershed year in my life” she said. “To call the ocean of candlelight ceremonial or perfunctory, it’s just not fair.”
“Going to the vigil is a bit like clocking in.”
—Cameron Chan, University of Hong Kong student
But to Cameron Chan, 20, a social-sciences student at the University of Hong Kong, it is precisely that the annual vigil has become such a fixture that is the problem.
The student group’s decision is baffling to many democracy supporters in the city, who see the annual candlelight vigil in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park to remember the Tiananmen victims as an important civic duty—not least because it’s the only mass commemoration of the event in the Greater China universe.
“I don’t see how Hong Kong can fully divorce itself from democracy movements on the mainland.”
—Joshua Wong, student leader
“I cannot understand [the students’] thinking,” said Jack Choi, a 36-year-old who works in finance and has been going to the vigil on and off since 2000. “It’s two separate issues. Our mother is China, if the mother is not free, how can the child be?” Read the rest of this entry »
American fast food franchises make tweaks to their menus in order to adapt to local tastes. In Japan, in particular, ingredients such as shrimp, teriyaki sauce and mayonnaise seem to be important to catering to the tongue of the Japanese consumers.
Margherita Stancati reports: Afghanistan’s most prominent peace envoy held secret talks with former Taliban officials in China last week, accelerating regional efforts to bring the insurgency to the negotiating table, according to individuals briefed on the matter by the warring parties.
The two-day meeting, which took place in the northwestern Chinese city of Urumqi, was aimed at discussing preconditions for a possible peace process, those people said.
“These were talks about talks,” one diplomat said.
The meeting was significant for another reason: It was facilitated by Pakistan’s intelligence agency in an apparent show of goodwill aimed at a negotiated solution to the insurgency. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] ‘Kumbaya': Activists & Feminists Cross Demilitarized Zone Between North and South Korea to Buy the World a CokePosted: May 24, 2015
The group wants to promote peace, love, harmony, understanding, and reconciliation between the two sides
A international group of female activists crossed the border between North and South Korea on Sunday to promote peace between the two countries, which have yet to sign a peace treaty 60 years after the Korean War ended.
“Several groups have criticized the march, arguing that the women should have crossed the North Korea-China border, which is more dangerous than the DMZ. Others called the crossing “empty,” blasting the activists for allowing North Korea an opportunity to cover up its record of human rights abuses.”
The group of about 30 women, WomenCrossDMZ, was taken by bus across the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), CNN reports, which was created by a 1953 armistice that halted, but never ended, the Korean War.
The crossing was sanctioned by both sides, and included feminist Gloria Steinem and Nobel laureates Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland.
An anti-Japanese war drama has been temporarily pulled from Chinese television after viewers complained that a scene showing a female character concealing a suicide bomb in her crotch has gone too far.
“They are using sex and violence to entice the audience under the cover of national sentiments. They are reveling on the scars of the history.”
— Xinhua editorial that lashed out at ludicrous plots in such dramas
That’s saying something, considering Chinese TV dramas set during the Japanese invasion are known for their impossibly violent and outlandish plots. This includes one scenario in which a man ripped a Japanese soldier in half with his bare hands, and another scene showing a communist hero blowing up a plane by tossing a hand grenade in the air.
“The authorities have banned foreign TV shows only to let us see this?”
— Question from a dissatisfied netizen
The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) is now reviewing the popular period drama Together We Fight the Devils, after the viewers seemed to agree that the scene showing Chinese actress Ge Tian pulling an explosive from her undercarriage was even more lewd than usual.
The shot begins with “sister Yin” visiting her lover who’d been locked up by Japanese soldiers, Associated Press explains.
He fondles her and finds a grenade hidden in her crotch. It is meant for a suicidal act of resistance against his Japanese captors. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] ‘Solid Sato’ Sneaks into Starbucks Under Cover, Metal Gear-Style メタルギアみたいに段ボールで隠れながらスタバに行ったらバレずにコーヒーが買えるのか試してみたPosted: May 20, 2015
“Things have been changing dramatically in the last two years. Since Xi Jinping came to power, what was tolerated before is not tolerated any longer, in China or Hong Kong.”
Ilaria Maria Sala writes: The shop assistant is abrupt when the question comes.
“We are not going to sell that one. Sorry,” he says, when asked for a copy of one of Hong Kong’s most eagerly searched-for books.
[Order Zhao Ziyang book “Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao Ziyang” from Amazon.com]
“It might come back,” he says vaguely.
On the surface, there seems to be no censorship in Hong Kong. Unlike the mainland, the web is free, a wide range of newspapers is available, TV news covers demonstrations and protests, and nobody needs to apply for permission to print books.
“The pressure is on to stop Hong Kong people and mainlanders from reading unapproved books. When sales became harder, we started shipping books to individual customers in China. Nothing reached them. We tried through a courier in Shenzhen, but they stopped accepting books.”
“In 40 years, I know of only one book that has ever been stopped from distribution,” says Wong Sheung Wai, director of Greenfield Bookstore, a shop and distribution company, “and that was the Chinese translation of a guide to suicide.
“The real problem, though, is that our local government does not defend our autonomy. Rather, they lecture Hong Kong on how to behave to please the central authorities.”
“Taiwan translated it, but the Hong Kong authorities did not allow for it to be published and distributed here,” he says.
But mounting pressure from China to have greater control over what the Hong Kong public, and the Chinese tourists flocking there, read is creeping into this former British colony.
“Even the three big chains are commercial interests, so they do try to sell what clients want. At times certain books disliked by the Chinese authorities will still be available, but hidden behind a counter, or piled up with the spine turned to the walls.”
Through a complex web of self-censorship, soft censorship and mainland economic control, bookshops and media outlets in the territory have been changing their tone or giving less coverage to topics that China deems sensitive.
A slow but steady “mainlandisation” of Hong Kong, a key factor in bringing tens of thousands of protesters to the streets during last year’s umbrella movement, has been changing the face of the publishing and book distribution industry, with fewer shops willing, or able, to sell books forbidden in China.
Booming real estate costs add to that problem.
“Readers’ numbers are going down everywhere, and nobody can afford a ground-floor bookshop unless they are backed by people with very deep pockets,” says one publishing industry insider.
“If you ask me what is the biggest problem that Hong Kong faces right now, it is the Liaison Office, and their growing involvement in Hong Kong’s affairs.”
— Alex Chow, one of the student leaders at last year’s protests
The three main local bookshop chains, with a total of 51 outlets, are controlled by the Liaison Office, Beijing’s official representation in Hong Kong, which, she adds, makes sure they only pay a nominal rent for their operations. Read the rest of this entry »
Three Chinese nationals who earned advanced degrees from the University of Southern California and three others have been charged with stealing wireless technology from a pair of U.S. companies.
“This case demonstrates that the U.S. is committed to protecting U.S. companies’ trade secrets and their proprietary business information from theft. This is an important issue for the United States.”
— State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke
Federal prosecutors say Hao Zhang, Wei Pang and Huisui Zhang met at the university and conspired to steal technology from Skyworks Solutions Inc. and Avago Technologies soon after graduating in 2006. Both companies are publicly traded chip suppliers for Apple’s iPhones and manufacture other communications-related products.
A 32-page indictment charging the six with economic espionage and trade secret theft was unsealed after Hao Zhang was arrested Saturday at Los Angeles International Airport after arriving from China to attend a scientific conference. The five others are believed to be in China.
Federal officials say foreign governments’ theft of U.S. technology is one of the biggest threats to the country’s economy and national security. They are particularly concerned with China.
“Wei Pang boasted in the same email that the technology is worth $1 billion a year in the phone market alone, according to the indictment.”
State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said Tuesday the U.S. government takes “economic espionage” very seriously.
“This case demonstrates that the U.S. is committed to protecting U.S. companies’ trade secrets and their proprietary business information from theft. This is an important issue for the United States,” he told reporters in Washington.
A spokesperson at the Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. The Chinese consulate in San Francisco was unaware of the indictment and declined to comment.
“The indictment alleges that the men stole ‘recipes, source code, specifications, presentations, design layouts and other documents marked as confidential.’”
The indictment alleges that the three USC alums began plotting in late 2006 to steal trade secrets from the U.S. companies where Hao Zhang and Wei Pang worked.
Months after their 2006 graduation, Wei Pang sent an email to China discussing the trio’s plan to use purloined U.S. trade secrets to set up a factory in China to manufacture technology that eliminates interference from wireless communications, according to the indictment. Wei Pang boasted in the same email that the technology is worth $1 billion a year in the phone market alone, according to the indictment. Read the rest of this entry »
Why Aggrieved Chinese Citizens and Chinese Police Are Fighting Over Corpses
Yaqiu Wang writes: On the morning of March 16, 48-year-old Huang Shunfang went to her local hospital located in Fanghu Township in the central Chinese province of Henan. Her doctor diagnosed her with gastritis, gave her a dose of antacids through an IV, and sent her on her way. Huang died suddenly that afternoon. In the hours after her death, Huang’s family went to the hospital for an explanation and was told by the hospital leadership that “the hospital is where people die,” according to a witness’ account of the incident.
“The corpse is the most sensitive… People who have ulterior motives use the dead body to pressure the government… Onlookers, out of curiosity and sympathy, encircle the corpse forming a large crowd. If the corpse is not removed in time, a mass incident can break out at any time…”
Incensed, Huang’s family visited the local public security bureau and the health bureau, both to no avail. Four days later, on March 20, after rejecting the hospital’s offer of compensation of RMB 5,000 ($800), the family placed Huang’s corpse outside the gate of the hospital in protest. Soon, over a hundred policemen swooped in to take the body away, beating and detaining Huang’s relatives who tried to resist them.
“’Taishi kangyi,’ or ‘carrying the corpse to protest,’ is a practice with deep roots in Chinese history. Since late imperial times, people have employed it when judicial systems failed to provide a reliable channel of redress for injustice.”
A week earlier, at noon on March 9, during a forced residential demolition operation orchestrated by the township government in Jiangkou Township, Anhui province, 37-year-old Zhang Guimao died when his chicken coop collapsed on him. That afternoon, Zhang’s relatives, along with more than a hundred villagers, carried Zhang’s body into the township government office compound to demand an explanation. At midnight that day, all the streetlights suddenly went dark. Around two hundred riot police carrying shields appeared on the scene to take the body away to the crematorium, detaining at least six people in the process.
“Especially with the rise of social media in the past ten years or so, families of the dead can post photos or videos online. The rapid spread of such information can turn up the heat on local governments.”
“Taishi kangyi,” or “carrying the corpse to protest,” is a practice with deep roots in Chinese history. Since late imperial times, people have employed it when judicial systems failed to provide a reliable channel of redress for injustice. These days, corpses are dragged into all manner of disputes involving medical malpractices, forced housing demolitions, vendor’s tussles with local patrols, and compensations for workplace accidents.
When an accidental death occurs, citizens use the corpse to draw attention and invite sympathy from the wider public, all in an effort to put pressure on the authorities and to render a just outcome. This “highlights the distrust people feel about autopsies or investigations conducted by government organs and China’s justice system,” says Teng Biao, a civil-rights lawyer and visiting scholar at Harvard Law School. “Especially with the rise of social media in the past ten years or so, families of the dead can post photos or videos online. The rapid spread of such information can turn up the heat on local governments.”
“A common scene across China today pits families, friends, and local residents barricading a dead body in concentric circles against police, often numbering in the hundreds and armed with batons and shields.”
It’s that heat that perhaps has driven Chinese law enforcement to ever-more coordinated and deliberate attempts to curb corpse-keeping. A common scene across China today pits families, friends, and local residents barricading a dead body in concentric circles against police, often numbering in the hundreds and armed with batons and shields. Read the rest of this entry »
The Fashion Mall hasn’t much lived up to its name. Already faltering a decade ago, the South Florida shopping mall has since been hammered by a hurricane, vacated by its tenants and put into bankruptcy, all the time, it turns out, being partially owned by a fugitive from China. As WSJ’s Esther Fung and Kris Hudson report:
Busted plans to redevelop the dilapidated mall have featured in a lawsuit between its Chinese investors. Du Zhenzeng, a steel baron from northern China, sued his naturalized American business partner, Wei Chen, for using their business “as his personal piggy-bank” to fund a flashy lifestyle that includes a Bentley and yacht trips, according to testimony in that lawsuit.
In a court hearing in October in Fort Lauderdale, Mr. Du’s lawyers said he invested nearly $160 million in the mall development project. Mr. Chen said the funds Mr. Du promised never materialized…. (more)
Hong Kong is having another umbrella moment.
First there was the umbrella movement last year when young people took to the streets to defy China’s plan for watered-down democracy. Now there is an umbrella maker that’s stunned the stock market.
“It is a bit crazy. The fundamentals do not justify the current stock price.”
— Hannah Li, strategist at UOB-Kay Hian
Jicheng Umbrella Holdings Ltd.1027.HK +13.29% is an unlikely title holder of Hong Kong’s best performing newly listed stock in 2015. At its initial public offering back in February, it received little interest with bankers pricing it at the low end of an indicated price range. But once it got trading it went through the roof, and at one stage last month it rose nearly 20-fold from its IPO price and is still up 14-fold as of Friday.
“It is a bit crazy,” said Hannah Li, strategist at UOB-Kay Hian. “The fundamentals do not justify the current stock price.”
The rally means the company is worth 9.1 billion Hong Kong dollars ($1.17 billion), and is trading at a price-earnings ratio of 100, far higher than the 11.2 for the average of stocks in the Hang Seng index.
Exactly why investors are so keen on an umbrella maker to give it a sky high valuation is puzzling, while its shareholder structure looks even more bizarre. The Securities and Futures Commission, Hong Kong’s market regulator, issued a warning Thursday to investors that just 17 shareholders hold over 99% of the company’s shares (the major shareholder owns 75% of the company). This means a buyer could easily push the stock up substantially as there’s so few owners of the shares.
Ms. Li said while Jicheng’s business is in good shape, the small number of shares held by public shareholders is a major reason for the rally. Read the rest of this entry »
If you thought your commute to work was bad, spare a thought for these Chinese construction workers.
Upon closer inspection, he was astonished to find dozens of people crammed into the back of the six-seater minibus. Read the rest of this entry »
South Korean intelligence reports executions of a number of high North Korean officials by supreme leader Kim Jong Un, using methods including antiaircraft fire. The WSJ’s Deborah Kan talks about what the recent purge could mean for the Hermit Kingdom.
[VIDEO] Toshiba’s Communication Robot Chihira Aico’s Debut as a Receptionist Impresses Department Store CustomersPosted: May 14, 2015
“Humanoid robot capable of expressing various feeling.”
According to RocketNews24, Toshiba has plans to expand its robotics business outside of customer service and into healthcare, especially as companions for Japan’s aging population. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] ‘Seen By My Eyes’ Time Lapse Documentary by Hong Kong Independent Photographer Francis So 我所看見的美麗香港Posted: May 13, 2015
This time-lapse documentary caapturing scenes around Hong Kong, at Kowloon Peak, Yuen Long, Sai Kung, Tai Mo Shan, Po Toi, has swept four awards at a photography contest in Portugal, including top prize in the mountain view.
[VIDEO] North Korea: Satellite Imagery Captures What Analysts Say is Public Execution 북한 공개처형 장면 위성사진에 포착Posted: May 13, 2015
A U.S. civic group has released satellite images of North Korea that appear to show a public execution
Radio Free Asia reported Thursday that the Washington-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea made public its analysis report on the photos that were taken last October from above a military training area located near Pyongyang.
Analysts indentified six anti-aircraft machine guns lined up across from some blurry objects with distinct shadows that appear to be people also lined up side-by-side on a firing range.
Whatever… or whoever… was in the images was no longer there in another picture taken nine days later.
The committee says the most plausible explanation is that a public execution had taken place there.