China Restricts Exports of Drones, Supercomputers

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China has been strengthening its control over its technology industry, as it seeks to avoid infiltration by foreign spies and build up globally competitive tech companies.

Eva Dou reports: China is curbing its exports of advanced drones and supercomputers, in the country’s latest move to tighten control over technologies linked to national security.

Starting in mid-August, Chinese makers of super-powerful drones and some advanced computers will have to obtain an export license, according to a statement from China’s Ministry of Commerce and the General Administration of Customs on Friday.

Computers will require an export license if they exceed 8 “teraflops” – which means they can process more than 8 trillion calculations a second, roughly equivalent to the processing power of 33 Xbox 360s.

China has been strengthening its control over its technology industry, as it seeks to avoid infiltration by foreign spies and build up globally competitive tech companies.

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

China’s drones have also caused political incidents in recent months, after unmanned aircraft sold by Shenzhen-based SZ DJI Technology Co. were flown onto the roof of the office of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the grounds of the White House in Washington. Tensions flared between Pakistan and India last month after Pakistan’s military shot down an Indian “spy drone” in the disputed region of Kashmir that appeared from pictures to be made by DJI. Read the rest of this entry »


#Robot Waitress Debuts in #Zhejiang

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On Wednesday, a company in Yiwu, eastern China Zhejiang Province, has finally launched their first batch of catering robots that can deliver food to customers, and other types of robots such as security robots after a three-year endeavor. Such gorgeous-looking robots are expected to be available in the market very soon. These robots basically consist of human simulations and chasses, through which they can discern the chromatism on the floor and thereby make moves. Catering robots are able to endure weight of more than 35 kg while security robots patrol on their own.


Seriously, Must Presidential Visits Be Such Regal Affairs?’

Marine One with US President Barack Obama lands at a Wall Street heliport on July 17, 2015 in New York, New York. Obama plans to spend the night in New York City after attending a Democratic National Committee fundraiser. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI        (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Security is one thing; a sense of moderation is another. They are not incompatible values.

President Obama just shattered another long-standing tradition: he didn’t stay at the Waldorf-Astoria during his visit to New York City this past weekend, and is apparently not planning to use the venerable Park Avenue tower during September’s meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. Every president since Herbert Hoover has either lived or stayed at the Waldorf—though Jimmy Carter says he never actually spent the night—and it was for many years the official residence of the United States’ permanent representative to the U.N. The list of overnight guests includes Mr. Obama who stayed at the hotel during previous General Assembly sessions.

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“He might do well to take a page from the British. Both Prime Minister David Cameron and the heir to the British thrown, Prince William, were recently photographed traveling (heaven forbid) economy class.”

But no more. The State Department announced that it was moving its headquarters during the U.N. session. Apparently, the sale of the Waldorf to China’s Anbang Insurance Group triggered either pique over the recent hacking of 4.2 million U.S. government personnel records—where China is the main suspect—or real fears about security.

[Read the full editorial here, at the Observer]

As part of the $1.95 billion sale, there will be a major renovation of the hotel, and some are concerned that the new owners will implant new bugging equipment.

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“Similarly, Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton managed to stay chic flying to the French Alps for a ski vacation also on Easyjet.”

So the State Department has decamped to the New York Palace Hotel, which was recently purchased by South Korea’s Lotte Group. According to documents leaked by Edward Snowden, South Korea regularly spies on the United States, but we don’t much care.

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“When Mr. Obama and his daughters took a not-so-impromptu walk through Central Park, a caravan of 31 vehicles delivered them, at least 10 secret service agents, almost all wearing not-quite-matching blue and gray short-sleeve shirts, surrounded them, and a giant Cadillac Escalade followed closely behind—on the sidewalk.”

With all of this Spy vs. Spy activity, finding a decent hotel room is apparently getting tougher and tougher. Alas, payback is a bitch. Read the rest of this entry »


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

— Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based military scholar

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

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

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

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

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

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

A photo of the actual presidential palace. Bloomberg News

A photo of the actual presidential palaceBloomberg News

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

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

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


[VIDEO] Matt Jacobson and Tanya Rivero Discuss Maine Lobster Flavor & Fishing Rules

Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative executive director Matt Jacobson and WSJ’s Tanya Rivero discuss the highly lucrative Maine lobster market and efforts to maintain future fishing sustainability.

"This represents a complete collapse of our aquatic immigration system"

“Sustainability?”


Half-Naked Foreigners Controlled by Police After Causing Sensation

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While some people joked about the defeat of the mighty Spartans, others took the incident seriously, citing safety issues. They were hired to promote salad by a food store.

A group of half-naked foreigners dressed as Spartan warriors made a mighty debut in Beijing on Wednesday, but soon lost their first battle against the police.

They showed up in some of the busiest areas in east Beijing around the afternoon, including Guomao and Sanlitun, drawing large crowds of admirers taking snaps.

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They were hired to promote salad by a food store, according to Beijing Youth Daily.

However the fun ended when police arrived at the scene. Officers asked them to leave after the half-naked men started to cause “disorder,” according to Beijing Youth Daily. The report said they were forcibly detained after that request was ignored.

There is no information yet on whether those detained have been released or what charges the models might face. But according to a statement released by the food store on Thursday, they have already “cleared the air” with the police.

Photos of the scene soon went viral on Chinese social platforms. While some people joked about the defeat of the mighty Spartans, others took the incident seriously, citing safety issues. Read the rest of this entry »


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Read the full text here, at VICE News]

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

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


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

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An emboldened Beijing clamps down on civil liberties

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

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

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

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

Fem-Five-WSJ

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

They never looked back—until now.

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

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

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Japan’s Peaceful Self-Defense

japan-protest-bloomberg

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

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

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

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


Disillusionment Among Hong Kong’s Youth Fuels Uneasy Separatist Longings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He said violence is almost inevitable.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

— Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

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

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

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

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

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

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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying

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

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

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

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

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

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


NSA Chief: ‘More Cyberattacks Likely’ in Wake of Office of Personnel Management Hack

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The U.S. should brace itself for more attacks like one on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management—in which millions of sensitive government records were stolen, the director of the National Security Agency warned on Wednesday. As WSJ’s Robert Wall and Alexis Flynn report:

The U.S. government last week said that two cyberattacks on the agency compromised more than 21 million Social Security numbers, 1.1 million fingerprint records, and 19.7 million forms with data that could include a person’s mental-health history.

“I don’t expect this to be a one-off,” said Navy Adm. Mike Rogers,who heads the NSA and the U.S. military’s Cyber Command. Read the rest of this entry »


Snowflake: Naked Art Student Accidentally Hangs Herself From Tree, Wins Award

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Nordic Girl Strings Herself from Tree for Nearly Four Hours

 reports: London-based artist Hilde Krohn Huse hung helplessly from a tree for 3.5 harrowing hours at the hands of… herself.

The artist, who is originally from Norway but has lived in London since she was young, decided to suspend herself from a tree with rope in a forest near Aukra, Norway as part of a video piece for an art class.

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 “I felt sick when I saw the video for the first time, I experienced everything anew. But I slept on it and realized that the video is quite decent.”

Award-winning artist Hilde Krohn Huse

Clearly, something went awry, and the 26-year-old Ms. Huse found herself strung out in the buff, unable to free herself.

[See the full video Hilde Krohn Huse’s website]

“The video ends when the camera shuts off, but I was there calling for help for another 30 minutes,” Ms. Huse told Norway’s VG newspaper about the incident.  “I felt sick when I saw the video for the first time, I experienced everything anew. But I slept on it and realized that the video is quite decent.”

As luck would have it, Ms. Huse’s video was chosen for the prestigious Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibition, where the work of 37 promising fine arts graduates in the U.K. is showcased…(read more)

Observer

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Bonus: Enjoy this long, depressing, confessional, navel-gazing, “actuality of truthfulness’ video by the artist, from Nov 26, 2014

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And for our multilingual readers, enjoy this original story from Norway’s vg.no

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Hilde Krohn Huse (26) hang naken i et tre i en halv time før noen fant henne, men det ble litt av en video ut av det hele.

Videoen har vunnet Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2015, en konkurranse for engelske sisteårsstudenter. Premien er å få videoen utstilt i et storstilt galleri som åpnes opp i november – der vil verkene vises i ett år.

Hilde Krohn Huse er en av 37 andre som vil få sitt verk utstilt i galleriet som ligger på veien opp mot Buckingham Palace, men det var ikke planlagt at 26-åringen skulle lage vinnerfilm.  

I utgangspunktet skulle Huse ut å filme en scene til en videoserie hun holdt på med. Hun gikk ut i skogen ved hjemstedet Aukra i Møre og Romsdal, rigget kameraet klart og begynte å henge i repet– så hektet foten seg fast. 

– Der videoen slutter slo kameraet seg av, men jeg hang der og ropte på hjelp i 30 minutter, sier Huse til VG på telefon fra London.

En venn hørte til slutt ropene og kom til unnsetning.  Read the rest of this entry »


Chinese Web Censors Not Happy About Uniqlo’s Changing-Room Sex Viral Video

Uniqlo sex video: Police investigate smartphone footage showing couple doing the ‘secret communist handshake’ in Uniqlo’s Beijing flagship store changing room

Laura Lorenzetti reports: A sex tape filmed in a changing room of Uniqlo’s Beijing flagship store went viral on Chinese social media, sending national authorities into a tizzy.

Uniqlo changing room

“Uniqlo, which is owned by Fast Retailing, denies any such association, releasing a statement that customers should ‘abide by social ethics, maintain social justice and correctly and properly use the fitting spaces.’”

The short video, which features a black-clad male having sex with a naked woman, was condemned by Chinese officials as going “severely against socialist core values,” according to the South China Morning Post.

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Internet censors scrambled to ban and eliminate the clip after it spread across popular social networks like Weibo and WeChat Tuesday. It has reportedly been removed from the Internet by the Cyberspace Administration of China and an investigation has been launched to find out who made the clip.

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Chinese authorities have also ordered social media executives to help uncover the source of the video, while Uniqlo has come under fire for using it as a publicity ploy. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Pancake Man': Chinese Super Hero Movie Heads For U.S.

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 reports: Chinese super hero comedy “Pancake Man (“Jian Bing Man),” which features cameos from Jean-Claude van Damme, is set to get a North American release on July 24.

Pancake” and Hong Kong-made sports action picture “To The Fore” will both be distributed by Milt Barlow’s specialty company Asia Releasing on behalf of rights holder Magnum Films.

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Jian Bing Man,” which is a Wanda Pictures release in China, is the tale of a street pancake vendor who gains super powers from the breakfast dishes he serves. It is directed by Da Peng and stars Chinese actors Ada Liu (“Badges of Fury”) and Yuan Shanshan (“One Day”) and includes Hong Kong comedy favorites Eric Tsang and Sandra Ng. Read the rest of this entry »


May You Live In Interesting Times

china-stock-market-wsj

The latest drastic step by Beijing is a six-month ban on stock sales by controlling shareholders and executives who own more than 5% of a company’s shares. Any violation of the rule, announced Wednesday night, would be ‘treated seriously’

Shen Hong and Lingling Wei report: Since the last week of June, the Chinese government has intervened in the country’s stock markets nearly every day to stop their steep slide. But the harder NON-STOP-PANIC-EXChinese authorities try, the more it looks like they are losing control.

The Shanghai Composite Index fell 5.9% on Wednesday and is down nearly one-third from its peak on June 12. Since then, $3.5 trillion in value has been erased from companies in the benchmark index—or nearly five times the size of Apple Inc.

China’s bond market and currency also began to get hit Wednesday as worries deepened that a contagion from stock-market losses could further trammel the country’s slowing economy. It felt even more ominous because Chinese officials had rushed out another raft of emergency measures earlier Wednesday to reassure the market.

An investor at a brokerage firm in the Chinese city of Heifi on Wednesday. Individual investors who began selling in mid-June helped unleash a downward spiral of more selling. Photo: Reuters

An investor at a brokerage firm in the Chinese city of Heifi on Wednesday. Individual investors who began selling in mid-June helped unleash a downward spiral of more selling. Photo: Reuters

The moves only heightened what is turning into an epidemic of anxiety among Chinese investors and a crisis of confidence in their leaders. Stocks were volatile early Thursday.

“The more the government intervenes, the more scared I am,” said Li Jun, who runs a fishing and restaurant business in the eastern city of Nanjing. He has spent about 3 million yuan, roughly wsj-chart$500,000, on stocks, using borrowed money for about one-third of the total.

Mr. Li has sold some of his investments every time the market “popped up a little” following a rescue announcement by the Chinese government. “I have no faith” in its ability to halt the losses, he says. Wednesday’s drop left the Shanghai index down 32% from its peak and at its lowest level since March.

The latest drastic step by Beijing is a six-month ban on stock sales by controlling shareholders and executives who own more than 5% of a company’s shares. Any violation of the rule, announced Wednesday night, would be “treated seriously,” China’s securities regulator said.

Early Thursday, China’s central bank said it has provided “ample liquidity” to a company owned by the country’s top securities regulator. The company is lending the funds to securities firms, which then will use the money to buy stocks.

The Chinese government has been praised for driving decades of economic growth and keeping the economy strong during the global financial crisis. In recent years, Chinese authorities have struggled with rising debt levels and the need to reform the economy away from government-driven infrastructure programs and toward consumer spending.

As it fought slower growth and a weakening real-estate market, the government turned its attention to the country’s languishing stock markets.

But Beijing’s inability to stop the recent decline has rattled investors who have long been used to seeing the government use its power to control markets.

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“Beijing’s latest bid to calm the market has had the opposite effect,” said Bernard Aw, market analyst at IG Group. “The panic is spreading, and authorities appear to be grasping at straws to hold back the tide.”

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew played down the possible world-wide impact of China’s stock-market mess, though he expressed worry that it could restrain the country’s longer-term growth if Beijing slows its promised economic overhauls. Read the rest of this entry »


National Fried Chicken Day, Part 2: KFC, McDonald’s, Look to Go Digital in China

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McDonald’s Corp. and Yum Brands Inc. are looking to add digital options in China that will make their fast-food sales even faster and win back business after a rough year in the critical Chinese market. As WSJ’s Laurie Burkitt reports:

McDonald’s will start testing mobile ordering and mobile payment in China under a pilot program in the current third quarter, said a spokeswoman. The aim is to speed payment and meet consumer demands, she said. “Given Chinese consumers being so digital—we are now preparing,” she added.

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Yum said its KFC business teamed up with technology giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in late June to launch mobile-payment services for 700 of its 4,500-plus stores in China. Customers can pay for their in-store orders of fried chicken in a few seconds by scanning bar codes generated by Alibaba’s mobile-payment application Alipay….(read more)

Read the full story on WSJ.com

via China Real Time Report


Volatility, Chaos, Panic, Despair: Greeks Freak

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Sarkis Zeronian reports: The value of the euro compared to major peer currencies is already dropping as the financial effects of the Greek ‘No’ vote in Sunday’s referendum filter into the global market. With analysts predicting banks facing funding crises and individuals unable to take their money from ATMs, volatility is set to reign for some time.

“It was not the only currency to lose value. The Aussie fell 0.9 per cent to 74.52 U.S. cents, the first time it’s broken 75 cents since 2009, and New Zealand’s dollar slipped 0.6 per cent.”

Bloomberg reports analysts are tipping the investment winners in the situation to be Treasuries and German bunds, benefiting from a “flight to safety”.

“This was also related to regional difficulties involving China where initial public offerings were suspended, as brokerages pledged to buy shares and the state media tried to limit investor panic as officials intensified efforts to stop the steepest plunge in equities the country has seen since 1992.”

With currencies trading throughout the day, the euro began to fall as soon as the outcome of the referendum became clear, even with most traders in Tokyo and Hong Kong yet to reach their desks. The drop is said to herald the start of what is expected to be a volatile week for global financial markets as institutions such as JPMorgan Chase & Co say Greece exiting the eurozone is now the base-case scenario.

The euro lost 1.1 per cent to $1.0992 by 6:12 a.m. Tokyo time, its weakest level since 29 June, also slipping 1.7 per cent against the yen and 1 per cent versus the pound. Greece may only account for less than 2 per cent of eurozone output, but a ‘Grexit’ risks setting a precedent of reversible membership.

It was not the only currency to lose value. The Aussie fell 0.9 per cent to 74.52 U.S. cents, the first time it’s broken 75 cents since 2009, and New Zealand’s dollar slipped 0.6 per cent. This was also related to regional difficulties involving China where initial public offerings were suspended, as brokerages pledged to buy shares and the state media tried to limit investor panic as officials intensified efforts to stop the steepest plunge in equities the country has seen since 1992. Read the rest of this entry »


China’s Communist Party: Big, Getting Bigger

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The upper echelons of Chinese leadership appear to have come face to face with a realization that’s true all the world over: slimming down is hard to do

Felicia Sonmez writes: Quality over quantity. Less is more.

Those have been the watchwords of the Chinese Communist Party ever since its top leaders declared in early 2013 that its membership would be controlled in a bid to improve the organization’s “vigor and vitality.”

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Two years later, the upper echelons of Chinese leadership appear to have come face to face with a realization that’s true all the world over: slimming down is hard to do.

In a communique released Tuesday, the Organization Department of the Communist Party’s Central Committee said that the party boasted 87.793 million members as of the end of 2014. The figure – which exceeds the entire population of Germany – represents a net increase of 1.1 million from a year earlier.

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China is in the midst of a sweeping anti-graft campaign under President Xi Jinping, with announcements of corrupt officials’ investigation and ouster from the party a near-weekly occurrence. Along with that crackdown has come a steady stream of warnings for party members to rein in behavior ranging from their mahjong playing to the use of terms like “dude” or “boss” when addressing their superiors.

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

At its heart is the pursuit of the party’s survival. Xi and other top leaders have made a point of reminding cadres that the Chinese Communist Party must avoid the same pitfalls that brought about the demise of the former Soviet Union – particularly disloyalty to Communist ideals – with some Chinese scholars warning that the Soviet collapse came when the ranks of its Communist Party had swollen to an unwieldy 19 million, or nearly 10% of the Soviet Union’s adult population.

The membership of the Chinese Communist Party currently stands at about 7.8% of China’s adult population. Read the rest of this entry »


Meet the P-1 Patrol: Japan’s New Surveillance Jet Expands Scope for Patrols

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Tensions have risen in recent weeks over China’s extensive land reclamation activity in the Spratlys. The U.S. hopes Japan will join its maritime air patrols over the disputed waters to check on what it sees as China’s expansionism.

Chiko Tsuneoka reports: Japan’s next-generation surveillance plane, officially unveiled earlier this week, will enable its military to conduct longer reconnaissance missions at a time when Tokyo is paying close attention to China’s growing presence in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

The P-1, manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., is crammed full of high-performance sensor equipment and the latest data-processing systems to detect P-1submarines and small vessels.

“Mobility to fly out to distant destination waters swiftly and operate for a long time while remaining in operational areas is necessary.”

The new plane, billed as the world’s first production aircraft to use fly-by-light fiber-optic cable technology, has a cruising speed of 830 kilometers an hour (515 mph), 30% faster than the P-3C patrol plane it will replace, and a range of 8,000 kilometers, an increase of more than 20%.

“Mobility to fly out to distant destination waters swiftly and operate for a long time while remaining in operational areas is necessary” for detecting submarines and other targets, said Cmdr. Jun Masuda of the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s 511 Fight Unit during a presentation of the new jet at the MSDF’s Atsugi Air Base in Kanagawa prefecture, southwest of Tokyo.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

The introduction of the P-1 comes as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration is looking to pass security legislation to expand the scope of Japan’s military activities and bolster U.S.-Japan joint defense operations, partly in response to Beijing’s expanding military footprint in Asia. Read the rest of this entry »


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