Chinese Tycoon Wang Jianlin Blames ‘Western Schooling’ for Son’s Comments About Wanting a Girlfriend With Big Boobs

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Wang Jianlin blames Western education for his son’s controversial remark that potential girlfriends needed to be “buxom”

Wang, one of the richest men in China, used an interview on state television on Tuesday evening to publicly defend his son, whose remark caused a furore on social media and led to condemnation by a state news agency. He also said he preferred to stay away from politics and said businessmen should “refrain from bribes”.

Wang said his son, Wang Sicong , had spent years studying overseas and had got into the habit of speaking whatever was on his mind.

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Tycoon takes to TV to defend offspring who caused uproar by saying he preferred ‘buxom’ girlfriends; his overseas schooling is to blame

The younger Wang was lambasted after making the remark on Valentine’s Day, with the state-run news agency Xinhua publishing a 1,287-word commentary condemning his remarks.

His father, who runs a property and cinema empire, said he was always ready to “take a hint” from others and not “speak carelessly”, but his son was more direct and had not learnt Chinese subtlety.

“He is smart. He went overseas to study at grade one and he has a Western-style of thinking,” said Wang.

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“Maybe after spending five or eight years in China, he will truly become Chinese.”

Wang Sicong, a board member of his father’s Wanda Group and the chairman of the private investment firm Prometheus Capital, is well-known for his outspoken comments on social media.

He made his latest eyebrow-raising remark after helping to raise more than 500,000 yuan (HK$630,000) for charity by auctioning the chance for a member of the public to watch a film with him.

Wang Jianlin’s son Wang Sicong, a board member at his father’s company, was chastised by state media and the public for a ‘crude’ comment about women. Wang Sicong said it was made in jest. Photo: SCMP Pictures

The senior Wang said he wanted his son to succeed in his own right in business, but would give him only two opportunities. “The third time he fails, he comes to work at Wanda,” he said.

The tycoon’s comments appeared to question Western customs and values, echoing remarks by government officials in recent months.

Education Minister Yuan Guiren said last month that universities must tightly control the use of text books from overseas that spread “Western values”. Read the rest of this entry »


China’s Box-Office Expected to Hit 2 Billion During the New Year Holiday

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Driven by the ‪‎Spring Festival‬ period, one of the golden times for Chinese productions, China’s domestic movies are gaining more momentum

The ‪Chinese New Year‬ is approaching an end, but the country’s ‪movie‬ industry boom seems to have just begun, thanks to record high box-office sales during the New Year holiday.

Statistics show that across the country there were over nine million Chinese going to the movies during that period. On the first day of the Spring Festival, there was a record high intake of 356 million yuan or about $57 million at the ‪‎box office‬. That’s about 44 percent up on the same day last year.

Even on New Year’s Eve, a time traditionally devoted to family reunions, home banquets and the grand CCTV gala, Chinese moviegoers still spent 21 million yuan ($3.5 mln) in the country’s cinemas.

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By Sunday, box offices for the Spring Festival holiday reached 924 million yuan ($154 mln), a 42.15% increase from last year. Industry experts say that China’s movie market is expected to gross nearly 2 billion yuan ($300 mln) during the period.

There were 7 new movies released on the first day of the Chinese New Year, which could be one reason for the high sales.

The costume action movie “Dragon Blade” starring Chinese Kungfu star Jackie Chan leads the box office charts, creating about one third of the total income. It’s followed by Chow Yun-Fat’s family comedy “The Man from Macao II” and fantasy adventure “Zhongkui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal”.

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Rao Shuguang, the secretary-general of the China Film Association, says the recorded growth is also partly to do with the increased number of screens across the country, now at over 24,900.

Driven by the ‪‎Spring Festival‬ period, one of the golden times for Chinese productions, China’s domestic movies are gaining more momentum. Last year, Chinese domestic box-office revenue hit $4.7 billion, ranking the second largest in the world. Made-in-China movies accounted for 55 percent of the total. Read the rest of this entry »


Amanda Foreman: ‘It Was Horrifying To Realize That Every Aspect of Women’s Beauty Was Intimately Bound Up With Pain’

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Why Footbinding Persisted in China for a Millennium

Despite the pain, millions of Chinese women stood firm in their devotion to the tradition

Amanda Foreman writes: For the past year I have been working with Britain’s BBC television to make a documentary series on the history of women. In the latest round of filming there was an incident that haunts me. It took place during a segment on the social changes that affected Chinese women in the late 13th century.

“The truth, no matter how unpalatable, is that foot-binding was experienced, perpetuated and administered by women.”

These changes can be illustrated by the practice of female foot-binding. Some early evidence for it comes from the tomb of Lady Huang Sheng, the wife of an imperial clansman, who died in 1243. Archaeologists discovered tiny, misshapen feet that had been wrapped in gauze and placed inside specially shaped “lotus shoes.” For one of my pieces on camera, I balanced a pair of embroidered doll shoes in the palm of my hand, as I talked about Lady Huang and the origins of foot-binding. When it was over, I turned to the museum curator who had given me the shoes and made some comment about the silliness of using toy shoes. This was when I was informed that I had been holding the real thing. The miniature “doll” shoes had in fact been worn by a human. The shock of discovery was like being doused with a bucket of freezing water.

“As I held the lotus shoes in my hand, it was horrifying to realize that every aspect of women’s beauty was intimately bound up with pain.”

Foot-binding is said to have been inspired by a tenth-century court dancer named Yao Niang who bound her feet into the shape of a new moon. She entranced Emperor Li Yu by dancing on her toes inside a six-foot golden lotus festooned with ribbons and precious stones. In addition to altering the shape of the foot, the practice also produced a particular sort of gait that relied on the thigh and buttock muscles for support. From the start, foot-binding was imbued with erotic overtones. Gradually, other court ladies—with money, time and a void to fill—took up foot-binding, making it a status symbol among the elite.

Lui Shui Ying (right) had her feet bound in the 1930s, after the custom fell out of favor. (Jo Farrell )

Lui Shui Ying (right) had her feet bound in the 1930s, after the custom fell out of favor. (Jo Farrell )

A small foot in China, no different from a tiny waist in Victorian England, represented the height of female refinement. For families with marriageable daughters, foot size translated into its own form of currency and a means of achieving upward mobility. The most desirable bride possessed a three-inch foot, known as a “golden lotus.” It was respectable to have four-inch feet—a silver lotus—but feet five inches or longer were dismissed as iron lotuses. The marriage prospects for such a girl were dim indeed.

“First, her feet were plunged into hot water and her toenails clipped short. Then the feet were massaged and oiled before all the toes, except the big toes, were broken and bound flat against the sole, making a triangle shape…”

As I held the lotus shoes in my hand, it was horrifying to realize that every aspect of women’s beauty was intimately bound up with pain. Placed side by side, the shoes were the length of my iPhone and less than a half-inch wider. My index finger was bigger than the “toe” of the shoe. It was obvious why the process had to begin in childhood when a girl was 5 or 6.

[read the full text here, at The Smithsonian]

First, her feet were plunged into hot water and her toenails clipped short. Then the feet were massaged and oiled before all the toes, except the big toes, were broken and bound flat against the sole, making a triangle shape. Next, her arch was strained as the foot was bent double. Finally, the feet were bound in place using a silk strip measuring ten feet long and two inches wide. These wrappings were briefly removed every two days to prevent blood and pus from infecting the foot. Sometimes “excess” flesh was cut away or encouraged to rot. The girls were forced to walk long distances in order to hasten the breaking of their arches. Over time the wrappings became tighter and the shoes smaller as the heel and sole were crushed together. After two years the process was complete, creating a deep cleft that could hold a coin in place. Once a foot had been crushed and bound, the shape could not be reversed without a woman undergoing the same pain all over again. Read the rest of this entry »


Apple’s Titan Car Project to Challenge Tesla

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Apple Has 100s Working on Design of a Minivan Like Vehicle 

Daisuke Wakabayashi and Mike Ramsey report: Apple Inc. has revolutionized music and phones. Now it is aiming at a much bigger target: automobiles.

The Cupertino, Calif., company has several hundred employees working secretly toward creating an Apple-branded electric vehicle, according to people familiar with the matter. The project, code-named “Titan,” initially is working on the design of a vehicle that resembles a minivan, one of the people said.

“There are products that we’re working on that no one knows about. That haven’t been rumored about yet.”

– Chief Executive Tim Cook, to Charlie Rose, in September

An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

Apple ultimately could decide not to proceed with a car. In addition, many technologies used in an electric car, such as advanced batteries and in-car electronics, could be useful to other Apple products, including the iPhone and iPad.

Apple often investigates technologies and potential products, going as far as building multiple prototypes for some things that it won’t ever sell. Any car would take several years to complete and obtain safety certifications.

But the size of the project team and the senior people involved indicate that the company is serious, these people said. Apple executives have flown to Austria to meet with contract manufacturers for high-end cars including the Magna Steyr unit of Canadian auto supplier Magna International Inc. A Magna spokeswoman declined to comment.

Apple’s industrial design team is staffed with several people who have experience at European auto makers. Last year, Apple hired Marc Newson, a famous industrial designer and close friend of the company’s design guru, Jony Ive. In the past, Mr. Newson created a concept car for Ford Motor Co.

Apple hopes to put its stamp on the electric vehicle market in the same way it did the smartphone with its iPhone, said a person familiar with its work. Even though Apple defied expectations of slowing growth with a 30% rise in revenue in the quarter ended December, the company is under constant scrutiny of where its next breakthrough product will come from.

Last year, Apple hired Marc Newson, a well-known industrial designer and close friend of the company’s design guru, Jony Ive. In the past, Mr. Newson has created a concept car for Ford. Photo: Getty Images

Last year, Apple hired Marc Newson, a well-known industrial designer and close friend of the company’s design guru, Jony Ive. In the past, Mr. Newson has created a concept car for Ford. Photo: Getty Images

Earlier this week, Mr. Cook said at an investor conference that he does not believe that companies naturally start to slow as their revenue grows. He said this was “dogma” and that Apple didn’t believe in putting limits on what it was capable of.

A side benefit of the project, according to one of the people, is that it has persuaded many Apple employees who were thinking of leaving the company to stay and work on an exciting new endeavor without the pressure of churning new products every year.

Other Silicon Valley giants are looking at autos. Google Inc. has been working on a self-driving car for years. The head of Google’s autonomous vehicle project said last year that the company aims to forge a partnership with auto makers to build a self-driving car within the next few years. A self-driving car is not part of Apple’s current plan, one of the people familiar with the project said. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Internet Power! China’s Internet Censors Now Have Their Own Theme Song

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‘Like a beam of incorruptible sunlight, touching our hearts’

Josh Chin and Chun Han Wong report: When China is truly proud of something, it writes a song. During the Cultural Revolution, the oil workers who helped turn China into a crude exporter got their own song. More recently, China’s aircraft carrier and the relationship between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife have been lauded with jingles.

This week, China’s Internet censors got their own musical tribute — or, rather, they wrote one for themselves.

According to a report posted Thursday to the website of the state-run China Youth Daily, the Cyberspace Administration of China choral group this week unveiled a new song, “Cyberspace Spirit,” glorifying the cleanliness and clarity of China’s uniquely managed Internet.

The song, an orchestral march built around a chorus that proclaims China’s ambition to become an “Internet power,” opens with lyrics describing celestial bodies keeping careful watch over the sky. From there, the lyrics conjure more vivid imagery, comparing the Internet to “a beam of incorruptible sunlight” that unites “the powers of life from all creation.”

The Cyberspace Administration of China is the government agency in charge of managing the country’s Internet, including the complex filtering system known as the Great Firewall.

Recently, the government has grown bolder in advocating China’s brand of Internet management. In November, it hosted a World Internet Conference in the eastern canal town of Wuzhen, where Lu Wei, the minister in charge of CAC, promoted the need for rules on the Internet. A few months later, another official surprised some by openly praising China’s censorship system for helping foster Chinese tech companies….(read more)

Below is China Real Time’s rough translation of the lyrics:

在这片天空日月忠诚的守望 Keeping faithful watch under this sky, the Sun and the Moon

为日出东方使命担当 Undertaking this mission for the break of dawn [in the East]

创新每个日子拥抱着清朗 Creating, embracing everyday clarity and brightness

像一束廉洁阳光感动在心上 Like a beam of incorruptible sunlight, touching our hearts

团结万物生长的力量 Uniting the powers of life from all creation

奉献地球村成为最美的风光 Offerings to the global village become the most beautiful of scenery

网络强国 网在哪光荣梦想在哪 Internet Power! The Web is where glorious dreams are

网络强国 从遥远的宇宙到思念的家 Internet Power! From the distant cosmos to the home we long for

网络强国 告诉世界中国梦在崛起大中华 Internet Power! Tell the world that the China Dream is lifting Greater China to prominence

网络强国 一个我在世界代表着国家 Internet Power! One self represents the nation to the world

在这个世界百川忠诚寻归海洋 In this world, all rivers loyally seek to return to the sea

担当中华文明的丈量 Bearing the measure of Chinese civilization

五千年沉淀点亮创新思想 5,000 years settle and give light to creative new thinking

廉洁就是一个民族清澈荡漾 Incorruptibility is the clear rippling of a nation

我们团结在天地中央 We unite at the center of Heaven and Earth Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Courtesy, Hong Kong Style: How to Politely Say ‘No’ in Cantonese

Smile and give them a pen

kamenoblog shares this language insight:

Last night my Cantonese professor taught my class how to politely refuse someone.

Instead of directly saying no, Cantonese speakers can give a subtle hint by giving an unwanted suitor a pen.

The words for “pen” and “no” sound similar in Cantonese. However, both words use different traditional Chinese characters:

筆 means “pen”

不是 (“bat si”/”m hai”) means “no”

Source: Milk Tea & Pudding


LA Supermarket Sells Raccoons As Food, Health Officials Not Amused

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TEMPLE CITY (CBSLA.com) — The Health Department has taken action after a local supermarket’s frozen foods section featured an unusual item.

Inspectors from the LA County Health Department visited the Metro Supermarket in Temple City on Tuesday, after being informed that the market was selling raccoons as food.

"I've tried grilled raccoon, and I have to say, it's really not bad."

“I’ve tried grilled raccoon, and I have to say, it’s really not bad.”

Employees at the market declined to appear on camera, but did show entire raccoons, frozen, bagged, and selling for $9.99 per pound. The employees say raccoon is considered a delicacy in China.

Customer Christina Dow was at the market, and upon seeing the frozen raccoons, filmed the scene on her cell phone. She shared the video on social media.

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“I’ve tried lobster, it’s actually quite good”

“The way it’s packaged in the store, it’s so real, and it’s so fresh, and you don’t see chickens with their feathers and blood all over them, and their expression, with their tongue hanging out,” Dow said.

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Dow also went on to contact the LA County Health Department, who says that selling raccoons as food may indeed be perfectly legal, depending on the origins of the meat. Read the rest of this entry »


[BOOKS] Did Christianity Create Liberalism?

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Samuel Moyn writes: A generation ago the political philosopher Larry Siedentop published an essay called “Two Liberal Traditions,” its title a nod to his teacher Isaiah Berlin’s celebrated lecture “Two Concepts of Liberty.” An American, Siedentop had traveled to the University of Oxford in the 1950s to study under the great Cold War liberal, and later he taught there for decades.

“How, against its original purposes, was the Gospel’s message brought down to earth?”

In his still mandatory essay, Siedentop persuasively argues that Anglo-American liberalism has never been the sole version of the tradition. There is also, Siedentop contends, a characteristically French approach, more historicist and sociological than conceptual and normative in making the case for modern liberty. Great nineteenth-century French thinkers such as Benjamin Constant, François Guizot, and Alexis de Tocqueville generally cast liberal values such as individual freedom as complex social achievements won over long periods, to be treasured and fostered precisely because they reflect collective advancement, not merely moral truth.

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“There was a time before the individual, and Siedentop spends his first few chapters dwelling on it: the ancient world, in which individuals were wholly subordinated to family structures. No matter that admirers from the Renaissance and Enlightenment appealed to the classical past in order to attack Christian oppression, Siedentop says: they ignored the fact that no ancient society embraced the value of individual freedom.”

This line of thought suggests that history and experience are central to the making of liberal values and not simply the storehouses of wisdom for conservatives, better known for appealing to the past. Unlike their Anglo-American counterparts from Thomas Hobbes to John Rawls, Frenchmen did not rely on the thought experiment of the social contract to motivate allegiance to liberal norms. Thus their approach, as Siedentop describes it, is an indispensable counterpart to the usual focus in our own liberal tradition, 41ncnodwApL._SL250_which prizes normative justification rather than a story about how we came to defend liberal values, through what institutions and practices.

[Check out Larry Siedentop’s book “Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism” at Amazon]

Of course, a lot turns on how believable the narrative is. In his new book Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism, Siedentop tries his own hand at telling how modern freedom came about. Channeling the project of the French tradition, he leans heavily on the almost-forgotten Guizot, the political theorist and government minister whose History of Civilization in Europe (1828) Siedentop in effect revives and updates. (If readers have any recollection of Guizot, it is probably because in the opening lines of The Communist Manifesto Karl Marx denounces him as a leading statesman of a conservative entente that had brought stability but not justice to post-Napoleonic Europe.)

There are a few powerful components to Siedentop’s rehabilitation of the French tradition. The most important follows that tradition’s most promising move, which is to treat modern individualism as a historical product rather than a natural fact. There was a time before the individual, and Siedentop spends his first few chapters dwelling on it: the ancient world, in which individuals were wholly subordinated to family structures. No matter that admirers from the Renaissance and Enlightenment appealed to the classical past in order to attack Christian oppression, Siedentop says: they ignored the fact that no ancient society embraced the value of individual freedom. “They failed to notice,” Siedentop comments mordantly, “that the ancient family began as a veritable church.”

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This history may be news to Anglo-Americans liberals, who routinely take the individual as a natural given. In the social contract, individuals are a premise, not a product. In economics, the satisfaction of individual preferences is the self-evident goal, but this is never explained or justified, even though it is an astonishingly rare commitment across the sweep of time. Siedentop wants to treat such first principles as the result of a history that made liberalism conceivable in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »


Censorship: So what’s blocked in China?


The Legend of Zheng Shi: Badass Lady Pirate

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According to legend, the greatest pirate ever to have lived may have been a woman by the name of Zheng Shi

According to legend, the greatest pirate ever to have lived was a woman known by several names, including Zheng Yi Sao, Zheng Shi, Cheng Shih, Madame Ching, and more.

It all started with a fateful meeting with a pirate by the name of Zheng Yi. In the 1800s, he and his crew were busy ravaging the region now known as Guangdong when they happened to capture a brothel girl that caught Zheng Yi’s attention. Although she agreed to marry him, she did so under the condition that he would share his treasure and power with her. He agreed. Through diplomacy and business deals with Zheng Yi’s rivals, his wife Zheng Shi (as she would come to be known, meaning the widow Zheng), managed to help put together a fleet of around 1500 ships, a force to be reckoned with. In addition, she made several strategic offers of protection to villages in exchange for tribute.

Although Zheng Yi died in 1807, Zheng Shi would not fade into the historical background. In fact, upon Zheng Yi’s death, Zheng Shi, was quick to put Zheng Yi’s first mate to work (presumably to stave off doubts that might come from a woman running the show). After taking over, Zheng Shi’s power and influence only continued to grow. Zheng Shi’s navy, The Red Flag Fleet, was said to have over 1800 ships and 60,000 men at it’s height (about 30 times more than all of the different factions of Caribbean pirates put together) (the global dispatch).

Although she achieved great wealth and power, Zheng Shi’s reign over Southern China and the South China Sea was not entirely a reign of terror. There was a strict and somewhat ruthless code of conduct that all of the crew were forced to abide by:

  1. If you disobey an order, you get your head chopped off and body thrown in the ocean.
  2. If you steal anything from the common plunder before it has been divvied up, you get your head chopped off and body thrown in the ocean.
  3. If you rape anyone without permission from the leader of your squadron, you get your head chopped off and your body thrown in the ocean.
  4. If you have consensual sex with anyone while on duty, you get your head chopped off and your body thrown in the ocean and the woman involved would get something heavy strapped to her and also tossed in the ocean.
  5. If you loot a town or ship of anything at all or otherwise harass them when they have paid tribute, you get your head chopped off and your body thrown into the ocean.
  6. If you take shore-leave without permission, you get your head chopped off and body thrown into the ocean.
  7. If you try to leave the organization, you get your head… ha, just kidding, in this case you get your ears chopped off.
  8. Captured ugly women were to be set free unharmed.  Captured pretty women could be divvied up or purchased by members of the Red Flag Fleet.  However, if a pirate was awarded or purchased a pretty woman, he was then considered married to her and was expected to treat her accordingly. If he didn’t, he gets his head cut off and body thrown in the ocean.

Finally, Zheng Shi and her Red Flag Fleet were such a thorn in the Qing emperor’s side that he decided to send the Imperial Navy after her. Read the rest of this entry »


紫禁城 ! Chinese Education Minister Warns Against ‘Infiltration’ of Western Ideas

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Te-Ping Chen reports: Chinese teachers should be on their guard against the infiltration of Western ideas, the country’s education minister says. Also, while they’re at it, they should stop complaining and venting their grievances in front of students as well.

“Mr. Yuan declared that the government ‘absolutely could not allow teachers to whine while teaching, air their resentments or spread negative spirits to their students.’ The report didn’t elaborate on the nature of grumbling that the government was opposed to.”

The minister, Yuan Guiren, made the comments at a conference Thursday at which representatives from some of China’s best universities were assembled. According to Mr. Yuan, as cited by state news agency Xinhua, universities should avoid use of teaching materials that “disseminate Western values.”

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As well, Xinhua said, Mr. Yuan declared that the government “absolutely could not allow teachers to whine while teaching, air their resentments or spread negative spirits to their students.” The report didn’t elaborate on the nature of grumbling that the government was opposed to.

“Since assuming office, Chinese President Xi Jinping has actively pushed the study of traditional Chinese culture. Such a push has also come in tandem with a backlash against certain Western traditions, notably Christmas.”

Mr. Yuan’s comments come amid a growing scrutiny of ideology on China’s campuses. Earlier this month, the State Council General Office released an opinion on the need to “further strengthen and improve propaganda and ideology work.” It declared that higher education is a key “battlefield” in the struggle for ideology. Read the rest of this entry »


Xiao Shu: Yang Zili and the Paranoid Regime

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A journalist’s plight demonstrates the depth of China’s present illness

Xiao Shu writes: Chinese journalist Yang Zili first appeared in international headlines in 2001 after being arrested in Beijing and charged with “subverting state authority.” His crime was starting the “New Youth Society,” a salon with the stated mission of “seeking a road for social reform.” Mr. Yang eventually served eight years in prison for his involvement.

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“We had no idea how quickly the tide would turn. Mr. Yang is now in hiding.”

Once released from prison, Mr. Yang joined the Transition Institute. Unlike many other nongovernmental organizations in China, the Transition Institute isn’t engaged in direct social action but rather focuses on research work as a think tank. While there, Mr. Yang studied Chinese social issues and proved to be a prolific writer. Much of his work was on equal access to education and migrant-worker rights. His friends applauded his return to the public sphere within a profession that still allowed him to promote social change.

“Mr. Yang is now in hiding. Chinese authorities last year detained three leaders of the Transition Institute and six people indirectly involved, including the lawyer Xia Lin. The organization remains paralyzed.”

We had no idea how quickly the tide would turn. Mr. Yang is now in hiding. Chinese authorities last year detained three leaders of the Transition Institute and six people indirectly involved, including the lawyer Xia Lin. The organization remains paralyzed. It suffered this fate despite having a far more nuanced understanding of political struggle than did the New Youth Society in 2001.

Chinese former president Jiang Zemin - WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images

Chinese former president Jiang Zemin – WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images

“The decisive factor in the case against Mr. Yang was a set of written instructions from Jiang Zemin , China’s president at the time. ‘Because instructions had come down from heaven,’ Mr. Yang recalled years later, ‘every material fact was forcibly crushed.’ And so was the process of justice.”

The similarities and differences between these two cases reflect the deep uncertainty that all Chinese citizens face when confronted with contemporary “socialist rule of law.”

The New Youth Society focused on hot-button social issues like government corruption, unemployment among workers from state-owned enterprises, and rural development. Members were at first split over what to do with their activities. Either they could operate in secret, attempting to disguise their group from the authorities, or they could be entirely open, affirming their discussions in hopes of avoiding the impression they were being covert. Mr. Yang and others compromised: They didn’t actively promote their ideas, nor did they conceal them. Read the rest of this entry »


China Exerts Pressure on Foreign News Outlets

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Beijing Officials Pressure International Media

 writes: China pressured international media outlets to censor their news coverage last year in addition to cracking down on domestic journalists, according to a new report.

 “Chinese embassy officials in Paris, Berlin, and London lodged direct complaints with senior editors, in an apparent effort to pressure them into restraining their reporters in Beijing. The Tokyo headquarters of Japanese media have received similar visits.”

Conditions for both domestic journalists and foreign correspondents in China have worsened considerably under President Xi . Journalists surveyed last year said they were increasingly subjected to harassment by authorities, sometimes violent in nature, as well as to visa delays and cyber attacks. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), which released its annual report on press freedoms in China on Monday, said intimidation from officials in Beijing has now extended to foreign outlets.

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Chinese embassy officials in Paris, Berlin, London, and Tokyo all reportedly pressured editors at publications based in those cities to alter their coverage and exert more control over their reporters in Beijing.

’For activists, the internet is like dancing in shackles’

– Su Yutong

One Chinese blogger, Su Yutong, was fired from the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle last August after she alleged that directors at the outlet met with the Chinese ambassador and then told their Chinese-language staff to tone down its coverage. A Deutsche Welle spokesman said at the time that Su was terminated because “she tweeted about internal issues” in a manner that “no company in the world would tolerate.”

Frank Sieren, Beijing-based communist and media consultant

Frank Sieren, Beijing-based communist and media consultant

Deutsche Welle gave more prominence last year to columnists such as Frank Sieren, a Beijing-based media consultant who has business interests in the country and is known to be sympathetic to its leadership. The broadcaster has been criticized in the past for coverage that was overly supportive of the Chinese Communist Party.

IFJ specifically named three other overseas news services that were targeted by the Chinese government.

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“At least three media companies—namely France 24, ARD TV (Germany), and the Financial Times—came under unusual Chinese government pressure after publishing news reports that angered the Chinese authorities,” the report said. “Chinese embassy officials in Paris, Berlin, and London lodged direct complaints with senior editors, in an apparent effort to pressure them into restraining their reporters in Beijing. The Tokyo headquarters of Japanese media have received similar visits.”

IFJ also condemned the repression of journalists covering Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests last fall. At least 39 reporters were harassed, detained, or assaulted by the city’s police or by demonstrators opposed to the pro-democracy movement…(read more)

Washington Free Beacon

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Chinese blogger Su Yutong

From HumanRightsWatchinChina:

The following is a blog post written by a Chinese journalist Su Yutong about her experience and feeling of being an activist calling for social change in China. Although to be an activist even on the Internet is like “dancing in shackles” in China, clearly people will not stop, just as what we have seen in the most recent days. Many people have been actively posting, forwarding and translating related information, raising more international awareness of Guangcheng’s case.  Su said in her writing, “To the Chinese people, danger comes not from action, but from silence and submission. Rights activists such as Hu Jia and Chen Guangcheng have demonstrated this to us with their courage and action, and I would like to learn from them.”

When I was in China, I was a journalist. But, after four years, I decided to resign as the Chinese authorities did not allow us to report the truth. I then started to work in an criticalNGO, doing research on social issues.

[Li Peng Diary: The Critical Moments is available at Amazon]

My concerns included the situation of victims of contaminated water sources, people who contracted HIV/AIDS through blood transfusion, as well as assisting vulnerable groups in defending their rights.

I was one of the more active internet activists, giving my views on public affairs, disseminating information and organizing activities.

From 2005, I was “invited for tea”, and for “chats”, kept under surveillance and periodically placed under house arrest in China.

In 2010, I distributed “Li Peng’s Diary”, a book forbidden by the authorities, and had my home raided and property confiscated by the police. With the help of international NGOs and friends, I managed to go into exile and now live in Germany.

Photo courtesy of Su Yutong

Photo courtesy of Su Yutong

For many bloggers in China, the most common and typical situation you face on a daily basis is all your content is suddenly deleted. In worse situations, sites will block opinions that are deemed to be “sensitive”.

I was an early internet activist. I organized a protest against the Vice Minister Wu Hao of the Yunnan Provincial Propaganda Department, in solidarity with human rights lawyer Ni Yulan; commemorative activities in relation to the Tiananmen crackdown and actions of solidarity with other activists. Read the rest of this entry »


Hammer Cocked: Satellite Photos Reveal China Military Buildup on Island Near Senkakus

Chinese-military121025

 reports: Recent satellite photos of an island off the coast of China confirm Beijing’s buildup of military forces within attack range of Japan’s Senkaku islands.

“If you want to rate the level of tension, this is the PLA reaching for its holster. When forces start deploying to Nanji Island, that means the hammer is cocked.”

– Rick Fisher, a senior fellow with the International Assessment and Strategy Center

Construction of a helicopter base on Nanji Island was observed by a commercial spy satellite in October. The island is off the coast of Zhejiang province—some 186 miles northwest of the Senkakus, a group of resource-rich islets China calls the Diaoyu Islands.

The imagery, obtained from the Airbus Defense and Space-owned Pleaides satellite, reveals China is constructing an airfield with 10 landing pads for helicopters on Nanji Island.

The Pléiades system was designed under the French-Italian ORFEO program (Optical & Radar Federated Earth Observation) between 2001 and 2003

The Pléiades system was designed under the French-Italian ORFEO program (Optical & Radar Federated Earth Observation) between 2001 and 2003

Military analysts said the new military base appears to be preparation by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army for an attack or seizure of the Senkakus.

“China’s new heli-base on Nanji Island demonstrates that the PLA is preparing for an offensive military operation against the Senkaku/Daiyoutai Islands,” said Rick Fisher, a senior fellow with the International Assessment and Strategy Center.

“If you want to rate the level of tension, this is the PLA reaching for its holster. When forces start deploying to Nanji Island, that means the hammer is cocked.”

© CNES (2014), Distribution Airbus DS / Spot Image / IHS

© CNES (2014), Distribution Airbus DS / Spot Image / IHS

The military buildup on Nanji was first disclosed by Japan’s Kyodo News Service last month. Kyodo, quoting Chinese sources, said a landing strip was being built.

However, the satellite photos, reported last week by IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, a trade publication, did not indicate construction of an airstrip, only helicopter landing pads. The helicopter pads are an indication that China plans to use the base for transporting troops and forces by helicopter and not for longer-range air transports or fighter jets.

China has been engaged in a tense confrontation with Japan over the Senkakus since 2012, when Tokyo, in a bid to clarify the status of the uninhabited islands, purchased three of the islands from private owners in a bid to prevent Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara from buying them.

Since then, Chinese ships and warplanes, as well as unmanned surveillance drones, have been flying close to the islands, prompting numerous Japanese maritime and aerial intercepts.

Jane’s reported the helicopter base construction is new. The construction is not visible in photos taken earlier than October 2013.

Google Earth screenshot

Google Earth screenshot

Wind turbines also are visible additions to the island that are located on a ridge on the southeast part of the island. Radar and communications equipment also is visible.

China’s Defense Ministry did not dispute the military buildup on Nanji. Read the rest of this entry »


China: Julia Leung, ‘The Tides of Capital’

Julia-Leung

Edited from an interview with William Kazer

Julia Leung has spent two decades engaged in financial policy work for the Hong Kong government. During her time as an official, she’s seen the city’s economy whiplashed by the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis and again by the global crisis a decade later. She has also tides-of-capitalwitnessed the territory’s increasing economic links to mainland China.

[Check out Julia Leung’s book “The Tides of Capital: How Asia surmounted financial crisis and is guiding world recovery” at Amazon]

In her new book The Tides of Capital, Ms. Leung examines the origins and response to financial crises of the 1990s and 2008 that shook economies across Asia and the world. The former Hong Kong Monetary Authority official and ex-undersecretary for financial services and the treasury (who also had a decade-long stint with the Asian Wall Street Journal) contends that emerging economies need a greater voice in global financial governance. China Real Time caught up with the reporter-turned-policy maker to talk about the financial challenges facing emerging nations, as well as China’s own financial and economic reforms.

Edited excerpts (read the full text of this edited excerpt here)

In your book you conclude that the IMF and the U.S. offered up the wrong prescriptions in the Asian crisis of 1997-1998. Where do you see policy leadership headed in the future?

Twenty years ago, the world was divided between the core and the outlying periphery….Financial crises only happened in the periphery, and the core dished out advice. In 2007, financial crisis erupted at the core and rippled to the periphery. Between 2008 and 2013, the size of China ’s economy doubled in dollar terms. The U.S. grew 14% during the same period, while Europe including the U.K. still falls short of the peak reached before the crisis. Combined GDP of emerging markets now make up more than 50% of global GDP, compared to one-third in 1990.

There will have to be considerable give-and-take between the country that is still the world’s leading economy and the other important players, especially China, that are assuming a progressively more important role. In view of the economic stagnation and political infighting besetting Europe, that continent will not be playing a full part in developing and policing a julia_leung_highresseries of better standards for world economic and financial governance. The world will rely ever more on a U.S.-Asian tandem for policy leadership.

You say the U.S. Congress is standing in the way of reforming International Monetary Fund quotas that would give more say to emerging markets. What will happen if there’s no reform?

The IMF is ideally positioned to provide policy leadership, particularly at times of crisis, but its effectiveness is undermined by its shareholding and governance structure, which has not kept pace with the shift in economic power to emerging markets. It is not surprising that developing countries have shown considerable frustration and exasperation with this imbalance, leading to new regional financing facilities, such as the Asian Infrastructure Bank and the New Development Bank.

When the core of the old world order continues to write rules that don’t take developing countries’ interests into account, the “peripheral” nations will use their own vast resources to start a new core…and write their own rules.

You say Asia needs to speak with a more coordinated voice. How much progress do you see here and what steps are still needed?

Even if Asia has a coordinated voice, it’s hard for it to be heard in the councils of the world power when the governance of these councils is slow to reflect shifting power. Read the rest of this entry »


Chinese Officials Vow To Fix Nation’s Crumbling Reeducation System

China-Reeducation

BEIJING—Acknowledging that its current programs are insufficient to meet the needs of a fast-paced, 21st-century population, the Chinese Ministry of Justice held a press conference Friday affirming its commitment to fixing the nation’s crumbling reeducation system.

“We are falling well short of the reeducation needs of this country and failing a whole generation of dissidents. We need better reeducators who know how to use modern teaching and disciplinary technologies if we want to inspire our people to become fully subservient pawns of the state.”

According to government officials, the steady decline in the quality of reeducation is evidenced by the system’s serious overcrowding, dilapidated correctional facilities, and outdated propaganda materials, which have left a large percentage of China’s political prisoners unprepared for life as obedient citizens.

china-prisoner_2386555b

“For China to remain competitive, it is of the utmost importance that we hire administrators who have the passion and know-how to promote the inability to think independently.”

“We are falling well short of the reeducation needs of this country and failing a whole generation of dissidents,” said justice minister Wu Aiying, lamenting that many institutions currently rely on standardized reprogramming curriculums that haven’t been updated since the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. “We need better reeducators who know how to use modern teaching and disciplinary technologies if we want to inspire our people to become fully subservient pawns of the state.”

Chinese-Defense-Ministry-spokesman-Yang-Yujun

“The last thing we want is for state prisoners to fall behind and end up getting stuck in the system for several extra years. If we get them out there, we know they can thrive as pliant mouthpieces for the Communist Party.”

“It is crucial that we find ways to attract the best instructors to our facilities, the devoted ones who aren’t just in it for the paycheck,” Wu added. “For China to remain competitive, it is of the utmost importance that we hire administrators who have the passion and know-how to promote the inability to think independently.”

chinese-prop

Speaking candidly with reporters, several top Justice Ministry officials admitted that the majority of reeducators do not actively engage with China’s largest generation of prisoners to date, noting that most instructors lack passion and enthusiasm for their daily thought-suppression and punishment sessions. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Corrective Measures': China Asks Officials to Stop Plagiarizing Their Self-Criticisms

china-civil-servants

Even for a Marxist, writing original self-critical confessions is hard. Why not copy the confessions of a fellow transgressor?

William Kazer reports: China’s communist leaders may be taking a break from their battle with tigers and flies. Now the ruling party seems to be focusing on copycats.

While the nation’s graft-busters have been wrestling with corrupt officials big and small, the enforcers of party discipline are worried about another troublesome matter — too many insincere self-criticisms, according to the People’s Daily. Self-criticisms are reports officials are asked to regularly produce evaluating their own performance.

“Some cadres copied materials already on file or drafted similar accounts,” the newspaper wrote of official self-criticisms. “Copying or borrowing of existing material should be immediately pointed out.”

Those who are holding up a magnifying glass to examine the behavior of party cadres and ensure party guidelines are followed are apparently complaining about the rank and file not taking their self-criticisms seriously. Problem officials seem to be behaving more like schoolboys — copying the confessions of fellow transgressors.

“The problems with self-criticisms apparently don’t stop at plagiarism. According to the People’s Daily, sometimes officials have made ‘self-criticisms that were superficial, their criticisms were not serious and their corrective measures inadequate.’”

The People’s Daily said in its online edition that some 45 top party officials have been put in charge of ensuring party discipline at the local level and laying down the law as stated by Communist Party chief Xi Jinping. Read the rest of this entry »


Crackdown: Chinese Communist Party Warns Officials: ‘Calligraphy Isn’t for Amateurs’

ashamed-chinese-officials

Doing calligraphy, along with playing badminton, is a one of the few hobbies government officials in China admit to having

James T. Areddy and Lilian Lin report: Officials should put down their calligraphy brushes and stick to governing.

calligraphy

“The problem today, according to the editorial, comes when officials promote their squiggles as valuable works of art.”

A new warning to officials about their calligraphy is the latest anti-corruption guideline from the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

calligraphy-brushes

“Officials should put down their calligraphy brushes and stick to governing.”

Wang Qishan, the Politburo Standing Committee member who heads the party’s anti-graft commission, hit out at the traditional craft during a plenary meeting of the organization last week in Beijing, and the message was backed up by an editorial from the agency posted on Tuesday to its website.

Central Commission for Discipline Inspection

Central Commission for Discipline Inspection

Officials shouldn’t “grab meat from the plates of artists,” the editorial said.

Doing calligraphy, along with playing badminton, is a one of the few hobbies government officials in China tend to admit to having. State leaders often pen well-wishes in calligraphy when they drop into companies around the country, creating valuable mementos that tend to get BN-GN087_callig_E_20150120025827displayed in prominent spots in the companies.

 “As you have promised to make contribution to the party and to the country, why are you greedy for an unnecessary title for unjustified interests?”

Officials can be forgiven for thinking it’s OK to strive for recognition in calligraphy, an art form associated with erudition and wisdom. Chinese leaders from Qing dynasty emperor Qianlong to Mao Zedong have been celebrated for their ability to put brush to paper, though there is some debate as to whether the latter’s distinctive style deserved the praise the Communist Party has lavished upon it ever since.

The problem today, according to the editorial, comes when officials promote their squiggles as valuable works of art. Read the rest of this entry »


Head of God Hermes Seized in Anatolia

Hermes

A large number of historical artifacts, including the head of a 2,000-year-old Hermes statue, have been seized during an operation by the Sivas Police Department Directorate of Anti-smuggling and Organized Crime Branch.

Following three months of preparation, the police department simultaneously raided various addresses in villages and districts of the Central Anatolian province of Sivas, as well as in Nevşehir, Adıyaman and Kayseri on Jan. 13, and discovered historical artifacts. Read the rest of this entry »


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