Posted: May 21, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Asia, Censorship, China, Entertainment, Japan | Tags: China, Chinese people, cinema, Crotch bomb, Innuendo, media, Movies, Sex, Shanghaiist, Steven Soderbergh, WWII veteran, Xinhua News Agency, XXL (magazine)
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.
[See the video at Shanghaiist]
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 »
Posted: May 20, 2015 Filed under: Asia, Censorship, China, Reading Room | Tags: Beijing, China, China–Japan relations, Communist Party of China, Hong Kong, John Kerry, Mao Zedong, Moscow, Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, Xi Jinping
Exhibitors arrange books at a booth at the annual Book Fair in Hong Kong Tuesday, July 18, 2006. Over 10,000 titles and showcased by 430 exhibitors, the Hong Kong Book Fair will open from July 19 to July 24. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
“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]
And how about Zhao Ziyang’s bestselling Prisoner of the State – an explosive account of what happened behind the scenes during the pro-democracy protest of 1989 in Beijing?
“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.
Zhao Ziyang’s memoir about the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests in 1989. Photograph: Kin Cheung/AP
“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.
[Read the full text here, at The Guardian]
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.
Rising property prices in the city mean few bookshops can afford ground-floor premises – except those backed by China’s official Liaison Office. Photograph: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images
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 »
Posted: May 19, 2015 Filed under: China, Crime & Corruption, Asia | Tags: China, San Francisco, University of Southern California, Wireless, Zhang Hao, Pang Wei, Tianjin University, Economic Espionage, Hao Zhang, Wei Pang, Huisui Zhang, Skyworks Solutions Inc., Avago Technologies
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.
The Justice Department is accusing six Chinese citizens with conspiring to steal technology from two Silicon Valley companies. Photo: Yue Yuewei/Xinhua/Zuma Press
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 »
Posted: May 18, 2015 Filed under: China, Diplomacy, Politics, Russia | Tags: Bashar al-Assad, Beijing, China, John Kerry, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Russia), Moscow, President of the People's Republic of China, RUSSIA, Sergey Lavrov, United Nations Security Council, United States, Vladimir Putin, World War II, Xi Jinping
Benny Avni writes: Supposedly “isolated” Russia’s bromance with China flourishes. No wonder: Both countries appreciate power politics and scoff at America’s display of global weakness.
President Obama pooh-poohed Moscow ever since his “reset” with Russia crashed and burned. He argued that under President Vladimir Putin Russia is an isolated country on the verge of bankruptcy.
That was then. On Tuesday, after months of snubbing the Kremlin, Secretary of State John Kerry came hat in hand to Sochi, Russia, where he tried to schmooze Putin and his foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov.
The Kremlin signaled its disdain for Washington by declining to confirm Kerry’s meeting with Putin until the last minute. Afterward, Kerry sheepishly said the sides weren’t seeking a “major breakthrough.”
While this haphazard attempt at diplomacy took place, the Russian and Chinese navies exercised together for the first time in the eastern Mediterranean — a symbol of a fast-gelling alliance between two growing military powers.
Beijing just invested $6 billion in a Russian rail project. Dozens of trade and other bilateral agreements address mutual interests in Central Asia.
[Read the full text here, at New York Post]
And to address Beijing’s never-satiated hunger for energy sources and Moscow’s need for cash, Russia just signed a pact to build a lucrative natural-gas pipeline to China. Annual trade between the two countries is estimated at $100 billion.
Meanwhile, as cyber threats to America grow, including, prominently, from Chinese and Russian hackers, the two countries just signed a cyber non-aggression pact, raising fears about the future of Internet freedom.
And in the world of global diplomacy (Obama’s supposedly strong suit), Beijing and Moscow unite on United Nations Security Council votes that could harm them or their allies, blocking and vetoing American and other Western resolution proposals on Syria, Ukraine and, of course, anything to do with Beijing land grabs in the East and South China Seas.
Then there’s Kerry. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 18, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China, Crime & Corruption | Tags: Broward County, China, Chinese language, Fashion Mall, Florida, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport, Lawsuit, Shopping mall, South Florida, United States
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.
[read the full story on WSJ.com]
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)
Posted: May 17, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China, Economics | Tags: Advent International, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, China, China Securities Regulatory Commission, Hong Kong, Hong Kong dollar, Hong Kong Economic Times, Initial public offering, New York Stock Exchange, South China Morning Post, Umbrella, Umbrella Revolution, Umbrellas
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.
[Read the full text here, at WSJ – China Real Time Report]
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 »
Posted: May 15, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China, Mediasphere | Tags: Arrest, Bijie, CCTV, China, Criminal law, Guangdong, Guiyang, Guizhou, Hong Kong, Ministry of Public Security of the People's Republic of China
If you thought your commute to work was bad, spare a thought for these Chinese construction workers.
The migrants were on their way to a building site in Guiyang, Guizhou province, on Sunday when a police officer spotted their slow-moving vehicle swaying in the traffic.
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 »
Posted: May 11, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China, Global, Mediasphere | Tags: Ahmedabad, Asia Pacific, Beijing, CCTV, China, China Central Television, Communist Party of China, President of the People's Republic of China, Sina Weibo, Twitter, Xi Jinping
Was she flaunting a luxury item on air, or just wearing something that many Chinese can afford?
“Expensive watches have become a symbol of corruption in China ever since August 2012, when netizens unearthed an image of provincial safety bureaucrat Yang Dacai smiling at the scene of a deadly traffic accident — and wearing a luxury timepiece likely beyond his modest means.”
The photos initially attracted attention as an example of an ostentatious display; a spate of news articles and Weibo media posts on May 5 accused Wang of “showing off her wealth.” Some Weibo users chimed in to criticize Wang as well. “Official media should appear thrifty,” wrote one Weibo user, arguing that the image of official media and that of the government that controls it are closely related. More than one speculated without evidence that Wang, beautiful and in her mid-20s, might be mistress to a wealthy man.
Those claims are harsh (and unsubstantiated) – but the vitriol toward China’s reviled state broadcaster is more understandable. While CCTV has often served as an important mouthpiece for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s nationwide anti-corruption crackdown, now into its third year, the state broadcaster itself has been embroiled in several scandals during that time. In July 2014, authorities unexpectedly detained one of CCTV’s most outspoken hosts, Rui Chenggang. That same month, authorities held senior CCTV executive Guo Zhenxi for suspected bribery, and in August 2014 they detained Huang Haitao, a prominent CCTV deputy director, for alleged graft.
[Read the full text here, at ForeignPolicy.com]
Expensive watches have become a symbol of corruption in China ever since August 2012, when netizens unearthed an image of provincial safety bureaucrat Yang Dacai smiling at the scene of a deadly traffic accident — and wearing a luxury timepiece likely beyond his modest means. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 9, 2015 Filed under: Asia, Diplomacy, Global, War Room | Tags: Almazbek Atambayev, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, China, CHINA NATIONAL PETROLEUM CORPORATION, Communist Party of China, Moscow, Nazi Germany, President of the People's Republic of China, Red Square, Rossiya 1, RUSSIA, United States, Victory parade, Vladimir Putin, World War II, Xi Jinping
Echoes of the past as Moscow’s Victory Day parade stirs memories of a previous anti-American alliance
Richard Spencer reports: At first sight, things look very different now. When President Xi Jinping of China took pride of place next to Vladimir Putin of Russia on Saturday, they looked like any other modern world leaders: pragmatic men-in-suits, full of smiles, temporary possessors of power rather than dictators-for-life.
“Once again, the Russia-China axis is the main threat to the West’s vision of peaceful and prosperous international relations.”
Children in Young Pioneer uniforms paraded through the Bolshoi Opera House telling of their ambition to become tractor drivers. Mao wore a “Mao suit” and Stalin military uniform. Both men looked grumpy.
From left: LM Kaganovich, Chairman Mao Tse-tung, NA Bulganin, Joseph Stalin, Walter Ulbricht, J cedenbal, NS Khrushchev and I Koplenig (Getty)
But the two events, six decades apart, have a clear parallel. Once again, the Russia-China axis is the main threat to the West’s vision of peaceful and prosperous international relations.
“China has been railing against a ‘unipolar world’ for a decade. Mr Putin and his allies all have their reasons for disliking the West’s tendency to set a high store on open elections, a free press and ‘cooperative’ foreign policies.”
The line-up of leaders alongside the two men was a walking representation of a new anti-American alliance that has formed bit by bit since the invasion of Iraq demonstrated the frightening ease with which Washington could destroy hostile leaders far away.
[Read the full text here, at the Telegraph]
Alongside Mr Xi were Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Raúl Castro of Cuba, Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela: standouts against what Mr Putin called a unipolar world, his code phrase for the spread of western-style democracy.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, centre, and Cuban President Raul Castro, centre right, after the parade (EPA)
In itself, there isn’t much new to this. China has been railing against a “unipolar world” for a decade. Mr Putin and his allies all have their reasons for disliking the West’s tendency to set a high store on open elections, a free press and “cooperative” foreign policies.
[Also see – China Parades Closer Ties in Moscow]
What is stark is that Russia and China are now openly stating their intention to stand together to lead such an alliance….(read more)
Chairman Mao Tse-tung, left, welcomes US President Richard Nixon at his house in Beijing (AFP)
Twenty years ago, when both Presidents Bill Clinton and Jiang Zemin of China stood alongside Boris Yeltsin at the 1995 Moscow Victory Day parade, the power relations were self-evident.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 8, 2015 Filed under: China, Diplomacy, Russia, War Room | Tags: Central Military Commission (China), China, Economy of Russia, End of World War II in Europe, Mediterranean Sea, Moscow, Oil Prices, President of the People's Republic of China, Recession, RIA Novosti, RUSSIA, Somalia, Vladimir Putin, World Bank, Xi Jinping
On display: an upgraded military relationship that could complicate U.S. strategy
BEIJING — Jeremy Page reports: When a Chinese honor guard joins a military parade in Russia’s capital this weekend, watched by China’s President Xi Jinping, it will mark more than just a symbolic recognition of the two countries’ contributions to the Allied victory in 1945.
China’s participation also reflects an upgrade of its military ties with Russia, including joint naval exercises and a revival of arms purchases, that could complicate U.S.-led efforts to counter both nations’ expanding military activities, analysts and diplomats say.
“They’ve basically come to a consensus that despite their differences over some national interests, they really face the same common enemy.”
The 102 Chinese troops who will join the Victory Day parade in Moscow on Saturday were seen during a rehearsal this week marching through streets near Red Square singing the Russian wartime ballad “Katyusha”, according to video footage posted online.
The only other foreign countries with troops in the parade are India, Mongolia, Serbia and six former Soviet states.
Three Chinese navy ships also made a rare foray into the Black Sea on their way to join commemorations in Russia’s southern port of Novorossiysk on Saturday.
“I think they’re both sending a message that their relationship is stronger than outsiders generally expect and if others put pressure on either in their own arenas, the two will stand together.”
— Gilbert Rozman,an expert on China-Russia relations at Princeton University
The Chinese ships—two missile destroyers and a supply vessel — will then take part in joint exercises with the Russian navy in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time, according to Chinese and Russian authorities.
Both sides say the drills aren’t directed at other countries, but the timing, after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, and the location, on NATO’s southern flank, have compounded Western concerns about an emerging Moscow-Beijing axis.
[Read the full text here, at WSJ]
“The main significance is that the two countries’ navies are learning how to jointly project power into the other regions of the world,” said Vasily Kashin, an expert on China’s military at Moscow’s Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies.
The Chinese ships’ visit to Novorossiysk could be seen as a response to NATO ships holding exercises in the Black Sea in March, he said, the message being: “Russia has allies too.”
On Wednesday, Russia’s government unveiled a draft cybersecurity deal with China under which both countries agree not to conduct cyberattacks against each other and to counteract technology that might disrupt their internal politics.
The rapprochement between Moscow and Beijing has been driven in large part by Western sanctions which have forced Russia to seek new markets for its oil and gas and new sources of investment.
Mr. Xi also appears to share a personal affinity with Russian President Vladimir Putin who is seen by many in China as a strong, patriotic leader.
The relationship, though well short of a formal alliance, is now developing a more substantial military dimension as Russia ramps up air and naval patrols around Europe and China seeks to challenge U.S. military dominance in Asia. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 5, 2015 Filed under: Asia, Censorship, China | Tags: 1972 Nixon visit to China, Ahmedabad, China, Chinese Buddhism, Citric acid cycle, Facebook, Narendra Modi, Shaanxi, Sina Weibo, Tang Dynasty, Twitter, Xi Jinping, Xi'an, Xinhua News Agency
Vacationers from the People’s Republic have acquired a reputation for being unruly at times, and have lately made global headlines by attacking flight attendants, fighting in airplane aisles and opening emergency doors in non-emergency situations
Colum Murphy reports: Here’s a new addition to China’s growing list of do’s and don’ts for citizens when traveling at home and abroad: don’t snap a selfie while sitting on the head of a Red Army warrior when visiting a place that considers itself a holy land of Maoist China.
“Are these people raised by monkeys? Whatever they see at scenic spots, trees or statues, they climb up for pictures.”
— Sina Weibo user Li Biyou
That’s exactly what 18-year-old Li Wenchun did on a recent visit to what’s known as a red tourism site —and now he’s paying the price.
The incident took place in the city of Yan’an, in northern Shaanxi province, famous in Communist Party history as the endpoint of the Long March. On its website, the government of Yan’an says the city “is reputed as a world-renowned holy land of Chinese revolution,” where “tourists are organized to learn knowledge of revolutionary history and attend theme activities for traditional revolutionary education and experience broadening.”
“What an ignorant man. Without the Red Army, how can you live a happy life?”
— Another Sina Weibo user
The only things Mr. Li widened were his legs. Photographs of him circulating on the Internet show him dressed in a black shirt and trousers and wearing red sneakers, striking a pose on the heroic head of a bronze statue of a female warrior.
As a result of this stunt, Mr. Li has become one of the first Chinese to be added to a blacklist that China’s national tourism authority said earlier this year it would introduce to discourage Chinese vacationers from misbehaving while traveling. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 3, 2015 Filed under: Asia, Breaking News, China, History | Tags: Beijing, Bird, Bird flight, China, CHINESE ACADEMY OF SCIENCES, Dinosaur, Feather, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Jurassic, Kevin Padian, Nature (journal), Xu Xing (paleontologist)
Eva Dou reports: The scientific world is aflutter over the discovery in China of a bizarre dinosaur with bat-like wings.
“The scientists dubbed the little dino Yi Qi, which means “strange wing” in Chinese. It had a long rod-like bone connected to each wrist that is similar to the structures of flying squirrels and bats. “
Although other dinosaurs have been discovered with bird-like feathered flappers, this is the first known example of one with membranous wings. It suggests that the ancient creatures tried to fly in different ways before birds arrived on the scene, said the scientists who made the discovery in a paper published in the leading scientific journal Nature on Wednesday.
The scientists dubbed the little dino Yi Qi, which means “strange wing” in Chinese. It had a long rod-like bone connected to each wrist that is similar to the structures of flying squirrels and bats. Yi Qi likely weighed around 380 grams, or slightly less than a pigeon, the paper said.
This handout image released by the review Nature shows the only known specimen of a newly discovered dinosaur, the Yi qi, found in Jurassic rocks in northeast China. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
“Yi may have been capable of flapping flight or only gliding, or may have combined the two locomotor styles as in many extant birds and some bats,” said the paper, which was written by a team of Chinese scientists led by paleontologist Xu Xing, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 30, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Asia, Censorship, China, Global | Tags: Africa, Asia, Beijing, Billy Ray Cyrus, China, Communist Party of China, History of China, New York City, Shen Yun Performing Arts, Xi Jinping
Isaac Stone Fish writes: On a cool evening in late April, I watched a performance of Shen Yun, the two and a half hour variety show organized by the religious sect Falun Gong. Artistically, it was pleasant: The dancers are professionals, emotive and lithe. The emcees — one American, one Chinese — who introduce the acts and offer a bit of historical commentary, banter amicably if a bit awkwardly. Unsurprisingly for a performance held at Washington, D.C.’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and at flagship theaters around the world, the show and the orchestra are technically superb.
But Shen Yun, which ended its annual run at the Kennedy Center on April 26 and has performed in dozens of cities across the world since its founding in 2006, is not about the arts. It’s not about “reviving 5,000 years of civilization,” as the show’s ubiquitous fliers proclaim; nor is it a Chinese version of the wildly popular Canadian circus company Cirque du Soleil, as the older gentleman sitting next to me at the performance expected.
Rather, Shen Yun exists to transmit a message: that heavenly forces will destroy modern-day China, obliterating the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which has ruled the country since 1949.
[Read the full text here, at Foreign Policy]
Falun Gong was founded in China in 1992 by qigong (energy cultivation) practitioner and former grain clerk Li Hongzhi. Emphasizing the three principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance — values seen as lacking in modern China — the organization quickly grew in popularity. At its peak in the late 1990s, it had millions of practitioners across the country.
“An unknown but presumably very small number of people continue to practice Falun Gong inside mainland China.”
Practitioners perform breathing and movement exercises thought to improve health and extend one’s life. More serious members may subscribe to some of the organization’s religious beliefs, which borrow from the Buddhist notion of the cycles of rise, flourishing, decline, and death, says Benjamin Penny, author of the 2012 book The Religion of Falun Gong.
[Check out Benjamin Penny’s book “The Religion of Falun Gong” at Amazon.com]
“They’ve always had this notion that there was this physical end point coming, and that practitioners, or those that cultivate good to a certain level, will survive to the next cycle,” notes Penny, who’s also the deputy director of the Australian Centre on China in the World. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 23, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China | Tags: Agence France-Presse, Beijing, China, Funeral, Global Times, Handan, Hebei, Jiangsu, Provinces of the People's Republic of China, Xinhua News Agency
In China, friends and family of the deceased may have to do without a special form of funeral entertainment: strippers
Primatologist alerted me to this item from WSJ’s Real Time China Report. Hopefully before those Communist Chinese government party-killers crush this unique tradition, we can convince our Hong Kong Bureau Chief to attend one of these events in person? In the meantime, Te-Ping Chen and Josh Chin have it covered:
“The point of inviting strippers, some of whom performed with snakes, was to attract large crowds to the deceased’s funeral – seen as a harbinger of good fortune in the afterlife. ‘It’s to give them face,’ one villager explained. ‘Otherwise no one would come'”.
Te-Ping Chen and Josh Chin: According to a statement from the Ministry of Culture on Thursday, the government plans to work closely with the police to eliminate such performances, which are held with the goal of drawing more mourners.
Pictures of a funeral in the city of Handan in northern Hebei province last month showed a dancer removing her bra as assembled parents and children watched. They were widely circulated online, prompting much opprobrium. In its Thursday statement, the Ministry of Culture cited “obscene” performances in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu, as well as in Handan, and pledged to crack down on such lascivious last rites.
“This has severely polluted the local cultural life. These troupes only care about money. As for whether it’s legal, or proper, or what effect it has on local customs, they don’t think much about it.”
— China Central Television
In the Handan incident earlier this year, the ministry said, six performers had arrived to offer an erotic dance at the funeral of an elderly resident. Investigators were dispatched and the performance was found to have violated public security regulations, with the person responsible for the performing troupe in question detained administratively for 15 days and fined 70,000 yuan (about $11,300), the statement said. The government condemned such performances for corrupting the social atmosphere. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 22, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China, Politics | Tags: Carrie Lam (politician), Chief Executive of Hong Kong, China, CY Leung, Government of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Legislative Council of Hong Kong, National People's Congress, Pan-democracy camp, Pro-Beijing camp
Hong Kong’s electoral reform proposal can at times resemble a complicated math problem.
Real Time China‘s Isabella Steger writes: On Wednesday, the government unveiled an updated package for the 2017 chief executive election following a second round of public consultation. The gist of it? The government says their reform package now makes it easier for people to participate in the election. The opposition says in reality, the vote is still one rigged in favor of pro-Beijing candidates.
The government has repeatedly said that Beijing’s Aug. 31 decision that any candidate running in the election must be pre-screened by a nominating committee cannot be amended. The decision, simply referred to as “831” in Hong Kong, sparked last year’s Occupy protests.
People listened to talks between student leaders and senior government officials as they were broadcast live at a protest site in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong, Oct. 21, 2014. PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
“The government says their reform package now makes it easier for people to participate in the election. The opposition says in reality, the vote is still one rigged in favor of pro-Beijing candidates.”
But the government has hinted that tweaks could be possible within the nomination process. And that’s what the Hong Kong public got in the form of concessions on Wednesday.
Under the current electoral system, a nominating committee of 1,200, heavily stacked in favor of pro-Beijing and pro-business interests, nominates candidates for the chief executive position. A candidate requires one-eighth of votes, or support from 150 members of the committee, to be nominated. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 21, 2015 Filed under: Asia, Censorship, China | Tags: Asia, Censorship in China, China, Communist China, Denial-of-service attack, Foreign Policy, GitHub, Government of the People's Republic of China, Great Firewall of China, Internet, Internet censorship in the People's Republic of China, media, news, The New York Times, Twitter, United States
Posted: April 18, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Asia, Entertainment, Global, Japan | Tags: 1964 Summer Olympics, Barack Obama, China, East China Sea, Godzilla, Japan, Japanese archipelago, Kabukichō, Movie theater, Senkaku Islands, Shinjuku, Shinzō Abe, Toho, Tokyo, Yomiuri Shimbun
The Yomiuri Shimbun reports: Godzilla is playing a leading role again — this time as a tourist attraction in the Kabukicho district of Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, where the monster is working to resurrect the area’s reputation as a film hub.
“The 12-meter-high Godzilla head is a centerpiece of the building. The sculpture is installed 52 meters above ground level — matching the height of the original monster that appeared in the first film in 1954.”
The 30-story Shinjuku Toho building opened Friday in Kabukicho on the site of the former Shinjuku Koma Stadium theater. Thanks to the installation of a colossal sculpture of Godzilla’s head, the monster himself appears to be hovering over a terrace on the eighth floor. The new building houses a fancy movie theater and a hotel with rooms from which Godzilla can be observed close-up.
Kabukicho shopkeepers, restaurant owners and other business operators expect the new building to help reinvigorate the district as a center for cinema lovers. “We’ll do our best to make Kabukicho a safe, secure place,” said Mototsugu Katagiri, the 66-year-old head of the district’s commerce association, at a dedication ceremony Thursday.
The Yomiuri Shimbun – An aerial photograph of the Shinjuku Toho building constructed on the site of the former Shinjuku Koma Stadium theater
Kabukicho was formerly home to more than a dozen movie theaters, but that number has dwindled as fewer people have been going to the cinema. Shinjuku Milano Theater was shuttered at the end of last year, leaving the district without a single movie house.
The Shinjuku Toho building was constructed on the site of the former Shinjuku Koma Stadium theater, which closed in 2008. The new facility features a hotel and a movie complex.
With 12 screens and 2,347 seats, Toho Cinemas Shinjuku occupies the third to sixth floors. The theater features deluxe seats equipped with marble tray tables and power recliners. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 9, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China, Education, Robotics, Science & Technology | Tags: 3D printing, 3D scanner, Automobile, China, Chinese language, Local Motors, MakerBot Industries, Printer (computing), Sanya, United States
Brian Krassenstein reports: Education is probably one of the areas that will benefit the most from 3D printers in the long run. The problem though is getting the machines into the schools in the first place. With prices generally ranging from $400 to $3,000 for typical desktop 3D printers, they are not cheap, and with budgets within many school districts running dry, both in the United States and overseas, the unfortunate fact is that many schools simply can’t afford them, not to mention the materials and time it takes to train teachers to use them.
Speaking with former MakerBot CEO, Jenny Lawton, at CES this year, she told me that 3D printing will become mainstream and really begin to explode as far as adoption rates go, when a full cycle of education has been exposed to the technology. Just like many of us who were exposed in school to desktop computing back in the ’80s and ’90s can’t envision not having access to a computers now, the children of today may one day think the same about 3D printers.
The United States clearly understands the importance of this technology, particularly President Obama. In addition to investing heavily to bring manufacturing back to US soil, he has mentioned the importance of 3D printing on several occasions, visiting manufacturing facilities that are using 3D printers, and even going as far speaking about the technology in one of his State of the Union Addresses.
With that said, news coming out of Tapei, Taiwan today, from Simon Shen, the CEO of Kinpo Group (parent company of XYZprinting), suggests that China is about to one-up the United States in a big way.
According to Shen, the Chinese government has a new policy to install a 3D printer in each of its approximately 400,000 elementary schools over the next two years. This number caught me totally off guard for two reason. First of all, that’s a lot of elementary schools. For instance, in the United States we have approximately 70,000 elementary schools, and approximately 100,000 total public schools. As a nation we could easily match China’s ambitions. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 8, 2015 Filed under: Asia, China | Tags: Abuse, Beijing, Boao Forum for Asia, Cathode ray tube, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, China, Communist Party of China, Economy of the People's Republic of China, President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping
Recent guidelines issued by state media have included gems such as admonitions against wearing clothing items that have images of pigs on them and making off with chunks of coral when diving off the coast of Fiji
Chinese tourists behaving badly abroad are in for a shock when they return to the motherland.
New measures announced this week by China’s national tourism authority mean that misdeeds by wayward Chinese vacationers will now be kept on record for a period of up to two years.
According to the announcement, “tourist uncivilized behavior records” will be compiled for those travelers that behave in an unseemly manner—including getting into fights, defacing public property or historical relics, disrespecting social norms of the host nation, gambling or whoring. Although the notification didn’t specify whether the guidelines were aimed at Chinese behaving badly at home or abroad, the most scandalous tourist behavior has tended to involve Chinese abroad.
“According to the announcement, ‘tourist uncivilized behavior records’ will be compiled for those travelers that behave in an unseemly manner—including getting into fights, defacing public property or historical relics, disrespecting social norms of the host nation, gambling or whoring.”
When necessary, such files – which will be maintained for a period of up to two years — will be shared with Chinese authorities such the police, immigration, banking and transportation authorities, the announcement said, without specifying what kinds of consequences might follow.
[Read the full text here, at WSJ]
If the flow of examples of uncouth behavior by some of China’s 100 million annual travelers in recent months is any guide, China Real Time expects the keepers of such records will be busy.
“Don’t throw water bottles everywhere, don’t destroy people’s coral reefs and eat fewer instant noodles and more local seafood.”
— President Xi
From tantrums involving the hurling of hot water at flight attendants to writing graffiti on ancient monuments in Egypt, Chinese tourists have been making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Chinese authorities in recent years have grown worried about how some of its roving nationals could be damaging the country’s image abroad.
“Why don’t we just learn from Singapore and just cane them?”
— Wisecrack from a Weibo user
On a visit to the Maldives last September, even President Xi Jinping spoke out, saying China needed to teach its citizens to be “a bit more civilized” when overseas. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 8, 2015 Filed under: China | Tags: Air China, Air conditioning, Alibaba, Art Directors Club, Beijing, Beijing Youth Daily, China, Chinese language, IKEA, Sleep
The world’s largest furniture retailer introduced the rule because many customers, both adults and children, have been sleeping in stores, creating a scene and affecting the experience of other customers.
A middle-aged woman said Ikea beds are comfortable so her friends “take a nap” there sometimes, according to the newspaper.
Pictures also show young couples lying on the sofas, their faces covered by pillows.
The newspaper said some customers take off their shoes and lie on the beds as if they were in their own homes.
Ikea encourages customers to sit or lie on beds for a short while to experience their quality, but many sleeping customers occupy the display pieces for too long, a staff member says. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 4, 2015 Filed under: Mediasphere, Politics, Religion | Tags: Apple Inc, Carly Fiorina, China, Hewlett-Packard, Indiana, Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Republican Party (United States), Saudi Arabia, The Wall Street Journal, Twitter
Former CEO Carly Fiorina is disgusted with how CEOs condemned Indiana’s religious freedom law.
Posted: March 31, 2015 Filed under: Law & Justice, Politics, White House | Tags: Barack Obama, Benghazi, Benjamin Netanyahu, China, David Remnick, Diplomacy, Hillary Clinton, Internal Revenue Service, Israel, Richard Nixon, United States Department of Justice, United States House Committee on the Judiciary, Watergate scandal
She erased emails after the Benghazi probe wanted to see them
If the House panel investigating Benghazi really wants to get a look at Hillary Clinton’s emails, perhaps it should subpoena the Chinese military. Beijing—which may have hacked the private server she used to send official email as Secretary of State—is likely to be more cooperative than are Mrs. Clinton and her stonewall specialists now reprising their roles from the 1990s.
“Mrs. Clinton’s real message to Congress: You’ll see those emails over my dead body.”
On Friday Mrs. Clinton’s lawyer, David Kendall, disclosed that he couldn’t cooperate with the Benghazi committee’s request that she turn over her private server to an independent third party for examination. Why not? Well, the former first diplomat had already wiped the computer clean.
Of course she had. What else would she do?
The timing of the deletions isn’t entirely clear. Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy says they appear to have been deleted after Oct. 28, 2014, when State asked Mrs. Clinton to return her public records to the department. That could qualify as obstruction of Congress, as lawyer Ronald Rotunda recently argued on these pages.
The deletions certainly violate Mrs. Clinton’s promise to Congress on Oct. 2, 2012, when the Benghazi probe was getting under way. “We look forward to working with the Congress and your Committee as you proceed with your own review,” she told the Oversight Committee. “We are committed to a process that is as transparent as possible, respecting the needs and integrity of the investigations underway. We will move as quickly as we can without forsaking accuracy.”
[read the full text here, at the Wall Street Journal]
Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Kendall say the vanishing emails don’t matter because State and the committee already have all the relevant documents and emails they’ve asked for. But State and the committee don’t have the actual emails, only the printed copies she provided to State.
Hillary used iPad for official emails at State
The Hill reports: Hillary Clinton used an iPad and Blackberry to send official emails at the State Department despite her claim that she relied on a personal address to avoid the inconvenience of multiple devices, according to The Associated Press.
And State had previously assured the committee it had everything it had asked for before Mrs. Clinton coughed up 850 pages of email copies from her private server this month—emails State couldn’t turn over before because she hadn’t provided them despite clear State Department policy that she and other officials do so….(read more)
Mrs. Clinton’s real message to Congress: You’ll see those emails over my dead body. Read the rest of this entry »