Who Cares if Jack Ma Buys a Tiny, Dwindling Newspaper in Hong Kong? 

With the South China Morning Post, Jack Ma’s personal politics will move into a global spotlight, for anyone to see and read in English.

Josh Horowitz writes: After lengthy negotiations, Alibaba founder Jack Ma may be close to an investmentin the publisher of the South China Morning Post, according to reports in Bloomberg, the New York Times, and Caixin.

Neither party has commented publicly about a deal, and it is unclear whether Ma would buy all or some of the SCMP Group. He already has a media empire that rivals Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and has invested in two US-based social media apps—Tango and Snapchat. But the maybe-pending SCMP bid has already attracted nearly as much attention as any of those done deals.


That’s because with the SCMP, Ma’s personal politics will move into a global spotlight, for anyone to see and read in English.

The SCMP was once the English-language paper of record for reporting on China. Founded in 1903 as the “printing house for the Chinese revolution,” it covered far more than just Hong Kong. Throughout the fifties and sixties, it was often the first source for information about the famines and political clashes of the Mao era. After the country opened up, its multi-national staff would regularly break stories about political scandals and human rights abuses on the mainland, even after Hong Kong was handed over to China in 1997.

[Read the full story here, at Quartz]

Its reporting was rewarded financially. In 1997 it earned HK$805 million (over $200 million) in net profits, about $420 in profit per-reader. Read the rest of this entry »

Beijing’s Fear: Impotence in the Face of Terror

Islamic State’s slaying of Fan Jinghui, right, who was executed along with a Norwegian hostage, left, has put pressure on Beijing to step up protections for Chinese citizens abroad. Photo: Associated Press

Deaths, image of bloodied hostage speed up calls for Chinese intervention in world’s trouble spots.

Andrew Browne reports: A self-described drifter and thrill-seeker, Fan Jinghui didn’t fit the typical profile of Chinese victims of terrorism overseas.

“To an extraordinary degree, China’s international security policy in recent years has been driven by the political imperative to be seen doing everything it can to protect an estimated five million Chinese nationals living and working outside the country.”

Among the scores of Chinese expatriates who have met violent deaths in the past decade at the hands of extremists, most have been workers in state companies drilling for oil, operating mines or building highways, hospitals and other infrastructure in unstable parts of Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.

“In response to Mr. Fan’s execution, don’t expect Chinese fighter jets to join bombing runs against Islamic State; China lacks the ability to project force in that way, even if it wanted to. It has no overseas military bases, and shuns military alliances.”

But the recent execution of the itinerant Beijing resident by Islamic State, along with a Norwegian hostage, triggered a particularly bitter outpouring of online commentary in China. While France responded to the massacre in Paris by declaring it was at war with Islamic State, and U.S. and Russian jets pounded the group’s strongholds, critics noted that the Chinese government offered only angry rhetoric in response to the killing of Mr. Fan.

“Beyond that, what else can it do?” scoffed one Internet user.

Police escort a Chinese hostage in Bamako, Mali, where three Chinese rail executives were killed during a hotel siege.

Police escort a Chinese hostage in Bamako, Mali, where three Chinese rail executives were killed during a hotel siege. Photo: Panoramic/Zuma Press

“But it’s only a matter of time, say security analysts, before China sends in special forces to free hostages or rescue Chinese civilians trapped in a crisis.”

Any accusation of impotence abroad, when Chinese lives are at stake, stings Beijing’s leadership. Almost certainly, Mr. Fan’s brutal slaying, together with the deaths of three Chinese rail executives gunned down in the Mali hotel siege, is likely to accelerate a trend for Beijing to intervene in lawless areas of the globe to protect its own nationals and massive investments.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

President Xi Jinping vowed to strengthen collaboration with the world community “to resolutely fight violent terrorist activities that hurt innocent lives.” A foreign ministry spokesman said Monday, “In light of new circumstances, we will come up with new proposals to ensure the security of Chinese citizens and institutions overseas.”

To an extraordinary degree, China’s international security policy in recent years has been driven by the political imperative to be seen doing everything it can to protect an estimated five million Chinese nationals living and working outside the country.

That has eaten away at China’s long-standing policy of “noninterference” in the affairs of other countries. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Tiger Mother’ Sentenced to Six Months in Jail 

Hong Kong’s Memory Hole

The right to privacy is usurping the public right to know in Asia’s financial hub.

Financial hubs depend on the free flow of information, and nowhere more so than in Hong Kong, gateway to the opaque China market. So a recent case in which an appeals board upheld the censorship of a court judgment to protect the supposed privacy rights of the litigants sets a bad precedent. The territory is following Europe’s lead toward extreme privacy protection at the expense of access to information.

“The right to be forgotten affects more than media freedom. It prevents investors and entrepreneurs from conducting due diligence and managing business risks, and helps people hide from public scrutiny. That may be good for the reputations of the rich and powerful, but it will hurt Hong Kong’s reputation for transparency.”

Luciana Wong Wai-lan, who now serves on several government advisory panels, participated in a matrimonial case in the early 2000s. In 2010 Ms. Wong requested that the court remove the judgments from its online reference system. The court made them anonymous, but hyperlinks to the judgments placed on the website of local shareholder activist David Webb still revealed her name.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

Ms. Wong wrote to Hong Kong’s privacy commissioner for personal data in 2013, and the commissioner ordered Mr. Webb to remove the links pursuant to Data Protection Principle 3 (DPP3) of the Personal Data Privacy Ordinance. Read the rest of this entry »

OUT: ‘Clock Boy’ IN: CLOCK GIRL! Swedish Woman Invents ‘Slapping Alarm Clock’ 


China’s Chili-Eating Competition


Hong Kong for Paris


Hong Kong Bookstore Disappearances Shock Publishing Industry 

In a frenetic commercial district of Hong Kong, sandwiched between shops selling vitamins and clothing to tourists, the Causeway Bay Bookstore touts itself as the authority on Chinese politics.

Juliana Liu reports: The tiny shop specialises in selling gossipy paperbacks that are highly critical of China’s leadership. They are particularly popular with mainland Chinese visitors who cannot buy the banned books at home.

But two weeks ago, four men who work for the bookstore and its affiliated publishing house went missing. Their colleagues believe they have been detained by Chinese officials because of their work.

One of their associates, Mr Lee, told BBC News: “I suspect all of them were detained. Four people went missing at the same time.”

Among them is Gui Minhai, a China-born Swedish national who is the owner of Mighty Current, the publishing house that owns the bookstore.


Forthcoming book

According to Mr Lee, who declines to give his full name for fear of reprisals by Chinese officials, the publisher last communicated with colleagues via email on 15 October from the city of Pattaya in Thailand, where he owns a holiday home.

Mr Gui had written to tell printers to prepare for a new book and that he would send the material shortly. He has not been seen since.

The others are Lui Bo, general manager of Mighty Current, and Cheung Jiping, the business manager of the publishing house. Both have wives who live in Shenzhen, and were last seen there.

Lui Bo, general manager of Mighty Current publishing house

Lui Bo, general manager of Mighty Current publishing house, is among those missing

The fourth missing man is Lam Wingkei, manager of the bookstore, who was last seen in Hong Kong.

“I am quite certain that the main target was Mr Gui. They wanted to prevent him from publishing that book,” said Mr Lee, who was not privy to what the publisher had been writing about.

[Read the full text here, at BBC News]

“I think the others were taken because they thought the contents of the book had already been distributed.”

‘Deeply troubling’

Mr Lee said Mr Lam’s wife had filed a missing persons report with the Hong Kong police, who have confirmed the case to the BBC.

Calls to China’s Foreign Ministry office in Hong Kong have gone unanswered. Attempts to reach the relatives of the four men have been unsuccessful.

Banned books for sale at the Causeway Bay Bookstore

The tiny shop sells paperbacks that are highly critical of China’s leadership and banned in mainland China

The tiny shop sells paperbacks that are highly critical of China’s leadership and banned in mainland China

Sources close to the families fear international attention may hurt more than help.

Rights groups have expressed concern about the disappearances.

“We think that if the information is true, it is a deeply troubling case and it will have serious implications about the deterioration of freedom of expression in Hong Kong,” said Amnesty International‘s China researcher Patrick Poon.


Government influence?

Freedom of the press is guaranteed in Hong Kong. But many in the publishing business say the Chinese government has begun to exert its influence in the industry. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Quod me nutrit me destruit’


[VIDEO] 快乐光棍节“节 Kevin Spacey Wishes China a Happy Singles’ Day

“Good evening to the great people of China. I am the 45th president of the United States, Frank J. Underwood. And tonight, I wanted to take a moment to say hello to all of you out there to wish you a happy Singles’ Day.”

Felicia Sonmez and Gillian Wong report: Is Frank Underwood a fan of online shopping in China? We couldn’t possibly comment.

On Tuesday, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba rang in China’s Singles’ Day online shopping holiday with a star-studded gala at Beijing’s Water Cube. The event included a video appearance by actor Kevin Spacey, who plays the scheming politician Frank Underwood in the hit U.S. TV series “House of Cards.” The show airs online in China and is a favorite of China’s anticorruption czar – and perhaps even its top leader.

“Good evening to the great people of China. I am the 45th president of the United States, Frank J. Underwood. And tonight, I wanted to take a moment to say hello to all of you out there to wish you a happy Singles’ Day,” Mr. Spacey says in character in the video, which shows him seated at a presidential desk….(read more)

Source: China Real Time Report – WSJ

Independent Hong Kong Book-Sellers Missing, Believed Detained

Four people linked to a Hong Kong bookstore which has stocked titles highly critical of the ruling Chinese Communist Party have been “delayed,” believed detained by Chinese authorities, while on a visit to Thailand.

Owner Gui Haiming, general manager Lu Bo, store manager Lin Rongji, and staff member Zhang Zhiping of publisher and bookstore company Sage Communications are believed to be in China after having been detained there or in Thailand, their associates told RFA.

Gui and Lin called their wives to reassure them on Friday, but little information about their whereabouts was forthcoming, according to a fellow Sage shareholder surnamed Li.

“They said they were OK, but they’re not OK,” Li said. “They just told their loved ones they would be coming back a bit later than expected, and told them not to worry.”

“But they didn’t answer any questions about where they were or what they were doing,” he said.

Gui, who holds a Swedish passport, went missing in mid-October while on a trip to Thailand, where he owns a holiday home, while Lu and Zhang stopped communicating around Oct. 22-24 after trips back to their family homes in mainland China, Li said.



Li only discovered that Gui, whose company publishes 3-4 books a month on Chinese politics and current affairs, was incommunicado after being contacted by the printers of the next book.

“Usually, he would get back to the printers by the following day if it was urgent, but the printers had been looking for him for a week,” he said.

It is unclear where Lin was when he lost contact with friends and family.

“He used to sleep over at the bookstore a lot, so his wife didn’t know he was missing,” Li said.

Gui has previously published titles critical of the administration of President Xi Jinping, including The Great Depression of 2017, and The Collapse of Xi Jinping in 2017.

Calls to Lu Bo’s and Zhang Zhiping’s cell phones rang unanswered on Friday, while Lin reportedly owns no cell phone.

Repeated calls to the Shenzhen municipal police department, just across the internal border from Hong Kong, also rang unanswered.

An employee who answered the phone at the Swedish consulate in Hong Kong said the consulate was unaware of the reports.

Others targeted

Gui and his colleagues wouldn’t be the first in their profession to be targeted by Beijing.

In May 2014, a court in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen on Wednesday handed a 10-year jail term to 79-year-old Hong Kong publisher Yiu Man-tin after he edited a book highly critical of President Xi Jinping. Read the rest of this entry »

Back-Alley Upgrades: In China, $100 Can Get You an 128GB iPhone Boost

Commuters use smartphone

In China’s unbridled marketplace, you can pay $5 for soap made from human breast milk, $800 to take a cosmetics CEO out during Christmas and $430,000 for a purple Bentley convertible once owned by a corrupt official.

If you’re an Apple Inc. device user, you can also now boost your iPhone’s storage from the cramped-feeling 16GB standard to a cavernous 128GB for less than a hundred bucks.


Mobile phone repair shops in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai have sparked curiosity on sidewalks and social media by offering the service, which appears aimed at the many aspirational Chinese device users who can’t afford the roughly $200 premium attached to large-capacity iPhones….(read more)

Source: China Real Time Report – WSJ

The End of History


VOC will Award its Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom to Activist and Lawyer Chen Guangcheng at This Week’s #ChinaForum


Through his work and activism, Chen Guangcheng has helped expose the crimes of the Chinese Communist Party, including forced abortions and corruption, and has given voice to China’s disabled population.

This week VOC will award its Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom to Chinese legal scholar and civil rights activist Chen Guangcheng, for his heroic efforts promoting individual rights and the rule of law.

Through his work and activism, Chen Guangcheng has helped expose the crimes of the Chinese Communist Party, including forced abortions and corruption, and has given voice to China’s disabled population.

Chen was born in China’s Shandong province in 1971, in the midst of the country’s violent Cultural Revolution. Chen became blind when he was five-months old because of an untreated fever. This life-changing event categorized him as one of China’s greatest discriminated groups—the disabled.

In China, as Chen once explained, the disabled are not considered fully human. Until the 1980s they were referred to as “useless.” Since the 1990s China’s law guarantees employment, education, welfare, and access to the country’s disabled, but they still continue to encounter difficulties in society. Disabled children are usually kept confined at home, most schools do not allow disabled students, and figures showthat only a quarter of the country’s disabled meet any form of employment. Even the cities are a struggle to those who manage to get out—pathways for the blind often lead to dead ends or trees, and other help, such as guide dogs, are forbidden.

[Read the full text here, at VictimsOfCommunism.org]

Chen was bound to follow the same fate. However, his fate changed when he was 17 and enrolled in a school for the blind 40 miles away from his hometown. Chen spent the next decade of his life studying, rapidly moving from primary school to the university, where he studied Chinese medicine and massage. It was during this time that Chen started fighting against the injustice he saw. He would speak against teachers and government authorities that mistreated him because of his condition. Read the rest of this entry »

China Censors Your Internet


In The Wall Street Journal, Information Age columnist Gordon Crovitz writes about how China censors your Internet—Beijing thinks Taylor Swift’s “1989” is code for Tiananmen Square and must be blocked….(read more)

Source: WSJ

University of Hong Kong Alumni Vow Action to Stop Ex-Minister Arthur Li Taking Over as Chairman of Ruling Council

U.S. Patrols to Raise Stakes with Beijing in Disputed South China Sea

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Greg Torode reports: U.S. plans to send warships or military aircraft within 12 nautical miles of China’s artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea, possibly within days, could open a tense new front in Sino-U.S. rivalry.

A range of security experts said Washington’s so-called freedom of navigation patrols would have to be regular to be effective, given Chinese ambitions to project power deep into maritime Southeast Asia and beyond.

But China would likely resist attempts to make such U.S. actions routine, some said, raising the political and military stakes. China’s navy could for example try to block or attempt to surround U.S. vessels, they said, risking an escalation.

Given months of debate already in Washington over the first such patrol close to the Chinese outposts since 2012, several regional security experts and former naval officers said the U.S. government might be reluctant to do them often.

U.S. allies such as Japan and Australia are unlikely to follow with their own direct challenges to China, despite their concerns over freedom of navigation along vital trade routes, they added.

“This cannot be a one-off,” said Ian Storey, a South China Sea expert at Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

“The U.S. navy will have to conduct these kinds of patrols on a regular basis to reinforce their message.”

The Obama administration has said it would test China’s territorial claims to the area after months of pressure from Congress and the U.S. military. It has not given a timeframe.

“I think we have been very clear – that we intend to do this,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters last Monday.

Chinese Foreign Ministry officials said this month that Beijing would “never allow any country to violate China’s territorial waters and airspace in the Spratly islands in the name of protecting navigation and overflight”.

Under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, 12-nautical mile limits cannot be set around man-made islands built on previously submerged reefs.

Four of the seven reefs China has reclaimed over the last two years were completely submerged at high tide before construction began, legal scholars say.

China claims most of the South China Sea. Other claimants are Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. Read the rest of this entry »

[PHOTOS] Star Wars Stormtroopers Assemble at the Great Wall of China to Promote Movie 

Mark Duell reports: As the excitement builds ahead of the new Star Wars film, a huge display of Stormtroopers has been assembled at the Great Wall of China.

The 500 replica characters were placed on the steps at the Juyongguan section of the wall near Beijing for a promotional event yesterday.

Stormtroopers are elite soldiers wearing white armed with blaster rifles who are the key ground troops of the Galactic Empire in the series.

Tickets for Stars Wars: Episode VII went on sale two days ago, even though the movie does not open in cinemas for another two months.

The Force Awakens, which is released on December 17, is set three decades after Return of the Jedi – the third film in the original trilogy….(read more)

Source: Daily Mail Online


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