Josh Chin reports: One of the two activists identified as the “black hands” behind China’s 1989 democracy protests died of cancer on Tuesday, in a reminder of how little the Communist Party has budged in its tolerance of political dissent over the past quarter century.
Chen Ziming, 62 years old, died from pancreatic cancer Tuesday afternoon in Beijing, according to close friends.
“He was incredibly influential, in the academic world as well as in government and public circles.”
– Chen Min, a liberal writer and political commentator better known by his penname, Xiao Shu
“Famous Chinese dissident, so-called June 4th black hand and my mentor Chen Ziming finally succumbed to cancer,” Wang Dan, one of the leaders of the 1989 student-led Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests, wrote on his Facebook page. “His death is a massive loss for the Chinese opposition movement, and for the country.”
Mr. Chen and fellow activist Wang Juntao were accused by the government of being the masterminds behind the 1989 protests. In 1991, both were sentenced to 13 years in prison, in a trial authorities used to bolster the official line that the protests had been the work of a handful of conspirators rather than a movement with mass appeal. Read the rest of this entry »
A Hong Kong Media Mogul and His Protest Tent
“The momentum of this movement is tremendous. People just won’t go away if there’s no solution from the government.”
“I just feel that it’s my responsibility to be part of it,” said the media mogul on Wednesday in his blue tent, where he has gone every day since the start of pro-democracy protests that are now in their fourth week.
Mr. Lai, the founder of Next Media Ltd., which owns publications in Hong Kong and Taiwan including the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, said he believed the protesters will stay on in the streets.
“I was born in China and spent my childhood in China seeing how life was like under the authoritarian Chinese regime…This was like heaven, the other side like hell.”
– Jimmy Lai
“The momentum of this movement is tremendous,” he said. “People just won’t go away if there’s no solution from the government.”
Mr. Lai said he is prepared to stay at the tent, which he shares with some pro-democracy politicians and volunteers, for a long time. Unlike some students who sleep at the protest sites, Mr. Lai only spends time in the tent during the day and goes back home for work and sleep. Read the rest of this entry »
Apple iCloud users in mainland China have a cyber issue on their hands as the service is hit by an attack that could allow access to personal data
WSJ‘s Scott Thurm reports: Apple Inc. ’s iCloud service for users in mainland China has been hit by an attack that could allow perpetrators to intercept and see usernames, passwords and other personal data, activists and security analysts said.
“It’s evident that it’s quite massive.”
—Erik Hjelmvik, analyst
“That’s what she said.”
Though the perpetrator’s identity was unclear, the attack came as tensions between the U.S. and Chinese governments have simmered over accusations of cyberespionage and hacking attacks.
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The online censorship watchdog GreatFire.org claimed Chinese authorities were behind the attack, though other experts said the source couldn’t be determined. A spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry said she was unaware of the matter and reiterated Beijing’s position that it opposes cyberattacks.
Apple said in a statement on its website that it is aware of “intermittent organized network attacks” aimed at obtaining user information from iCloud.com. The company added that the attacks don’t compromise the company’s iCloud servers and don’t affect iCloud sign-in on Apple devices running its iOS mobile software or Macs running OS X Yosemite using its Safari browser.
Apple said users should not sign into iCloud.com if they receive a warning from their browser that it is not a trusted site. This suggests that the user has been compromised.
Apple did not mention China in its statement. Read the rest of this entry »
Photos of Beijing Bride’s Anti-Pollution Lingerie Not Available
A woman wearing a wedding dress made out of 999 anti-pollution masks with a 10-meter long trail drew crowds recently in Beijing.
It was apparently in a move to bring more attention to environmental protection. The “bride” was a Chinese artist who had designed her wedding dress to ‘marry’ the sky, according to Chinanews.
Many Chinese on social media gave a thumbs-up to the artist’s creativity… (read more)
Wedding dress made of “cups, plates, and plastic utensils…”
[Best Day of the Dead Costume Ever, Oct 31st, 2013]
Rhetoric aside, China has always retained the final say on how the city’s leaders would be chosen. That power was enshrined in Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, by giving Beijing the right to final interpretations, including on elections.
“There was no doubt in our minds that Beijing was quite prepared to give us democracy or universal suffrage as everybody would understand it to be.”
– Martin Lee
When China and the U.K. began negotiating the transfer of Hong Kong in the early 1980s, both sides spoke optimistically about elections. Promises for future balloting were embedded in documents signed at the time to guide Hong Kong after its return to Chinese control in 1997.
For WSJ - Ned Levin, Charles Hutzler and Jenny Gross: In recent months, arguments over the meaning of those promises have helped to propel increasingly confrontational protests over how the city will choose its next leader in 2017. Beijing says that it has honored its commitment to provide universal suffrage; pro-democracy activists say that China has trampled those promises by insisting that candidates be approved by a committee whose members are largely pro-business and pro-Beijing.
“No one told Hong Kongers when they were assured of universal suffrage that it would not mean being able to choose for whom they could vote.”
Rhetoric aside, China has always retained the final say on how the city’s leaders would be chosen. That power was enshrined in Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, by giving Beijing the right to final interpretations, including on elections.
“They can interpret white as black, yellow, green or red. And tomorrow, they can interpret back to white,” said Martin Lee, a leading democratic activist and former legislator who sat on the law’s drafting committee. He resigned after China’s bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square.
The agreement to return Hong Kong to China was signed by U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang in 1984. During a tense 1982 trip to China, Mrs. Thatcher tripped and stumbled on the steps of the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Want Your Avoid Having Your South Korean Citizenship Application Rejected? Be Prepared to Prove You Can Sing This SongPosted: October 17, 2014
Can’t Sing the National Anthem? No Passport For You
Should you have to prove you can sing the national anthem of a country if you want it to make you a citizen?
In the U.S. the answer is no, but in South Korea it’s a clear yes.
Chinese Woman Denied South Korean Citizenship Because She Couldn’t Sing the National Anthem
That’s what a 52-year-old Chinese woman found out when she failed to pass an interview in November to become Korean.
“At the test, we don’t expect the applicant to sing in perfect tune, but we expect to hear the right lyrics. If the applicant fails at the first try, we give one more chance to sing in thirty minutes or an hour. She failed both.”
According to the Justice Ministry, the woman, known only by her Korean surname Choi, flunked three tests; singing the national anthem, understanding the ideas of free democracy and basic knowledge about South Korea.
Seoul’s education office in August provided a new version of the song in a key two steps lower than the original composition, after complaints were raised that high notes in the song make it difficult for students to sing, particularly boys going through puberty.
Ms. Choi then filed a complaint with the Seoul Administrative Court, which ruled on Sept. 30 that the ministry’s decision was legitimate as it followed due process in a fair and valid way. Read the rest of this entry »
Gregor Stuart Hunter reports: For protesters sleeping on the streets of Hong Kong, the past three weeks have at times felt like a marathon. Now, they have a real one. Sort of.
“At a dire time like this, when we’ve been camped out for 19 days, this really helps boost morale.”
On Thursday night, runners returned for the second “Umbrella Marathon” following Sunday’s inaugural event, and named after the symbol of the city’s pro-democracy protests. The route is on downtown roads that are temporarily pedestrianized as a result of the sit-in, and just 2.5 miles compared to a regular marathon’s 26.2-mile slog.
Participants ran waving illuminated mobile phones in the nighttime air and cheered “Hong Kong, Hong Kong” as the students watching from the surrounding tent city broke into applause.
“Running is synonymous with freedom.”
“At a dire time like this, when we’ve been camped out for 19 days, this really helps boost morale,” said Nikki Lau, one of a handful of volunteers who organized the event in a single day after being inspired by a blog post.
The event drew a wide mix of Hong Kong society, including professionals and expatriates who said they had been looking for a role to play in supporting Hong Kong’s democratic aspirations. Read the rest of this entry »
For Hong Kong Protesters, Ridicule Proves an Effective Formula
Lusty choruses of the song—in English—rang out in the working-class neighborhood of Mong Kok last week when thugs descended to try to break up the sit-in demonstrations there. The crowds would engulf a hostile interloper and strike up the melody.
It was musical mockery; the equivalent of the medieval pillory designed to publicly embarrass and humiliate. Read the rest of this entry »
The State Department said it is reviewing the sale of the hotel to Beijing-based Anbang Insurance Group, and that it may stop leasing space for the U.S. ambassador to the UN or the General Assembly. Anbang is reportedly linked to China’s Communist Party, which has overseen a massive effort to use cyberspying to steal U.S. trade and military secrets.
Grand plans by Beijing-based Anbang Insurance Group “to restore the property to its historic grandeur” has some Washington diplomatic and security insiders wondering if the Chinese will be adding more than a view to kill for.
Officials said Monday they are reviewing the sale — and implied the glittering renovation scheme for the iconic Park Ave. hotel may mask a nefarious purpose: espionage.
“We are currently in the process of reviewing the details of the sale and the company’s long-term plans for the facility,” said Kurtis Cooper, a spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.
The State Department said it may end a 50-year practice of leasing a residence at the hotel for the U.S. ambassador to the UN.
Also at stake is the department’s rental of two floors of the Waldorf during the annual UN General Assembly.
The White House declined to say if President Obama will continue staying at the hotel’s presidential suite during trips to New York. Every commander-in-chief since Herbert Hoover has stayed there. Read the rest of this entry »
Just Happened: Protesters Successfully Hold off Riot Police in Lung Wo Road with Umbrellas, BarricadesPosted: October 14, 2014
— Wilfred Chan (@wilfredchan) October 14, 2014
“While pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong may question why the United States hasn’t offered its unequivocal support, I want to make it clear to each one of them that their campaign is but one of dozens of important causes around the world that this administration is sidestepping.”
– — White House press secretary Josh Earnest
WASHINGTON—Addressing concerns that the Obama administration was selectively ignoring their ongoing demonstrations against the Chinese government, White House officials held a press conference Wednesday to reassure Hong Kong residents that their protest was just one of many issues the White House is currently keeping completely silent on.
“Our inaction puts the people of Hong Kong in good company with the subjugated populations of South Sudan, Eritrea, Central Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa, all of whom we systematically overlook. So, our message to the protesters is clear: You are not alone.”
“While pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong may question why the United States hasn’t offered its unequivocal support, I want to make it clear to each one of them that their campaign is but one of dozens of important causes around the world Read the rest of this entry »
The Dark Side of the Digital Age: Censorship in China, ISIS Propaganda, Russian Disinformation, and Asymmetrical WarfarePosted: October 6, 2014
There’s been a bazillion pixels spent on the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong — more media than we can adequately digest here — though with the help of our Hong Kong Bureau, we’ve been fortunate to be able to post a few exclusive updates and real-time images as resources allow. The Umbrella Revolution has spawned more news stories worldwide, in less time, than almost anything we’ve seen in our brief time here as an aspiring Global News Empire.
For many people inside China, however, accurate news and honest history — not just about the Tiananmen Square massacre, or the Umbrella Revolution — is either strictly limited, strictly forbidden, or hopelessly distorted by state propaganda. A topic our Hong Kong Bureau Chief might address in more depth in an upcoming post, but I will attempt to explore with a few impressions here.
When the internet blossomed, with it came the hope of the global democratization of information. The emerging information revolution‘s potential for “global information equality” was believed to be organic, inevitable, and universally beneficial. A belief not completely without merit.
In retrospect, the idealism and optimism that characterized those early predictions by the internet revolution’s most ardent proponents reeked of utopian overreach. The rhetoric of even the most cautious, moderately optimistic digital-age wizards was tainted. The smartest guys in the valley uniformly underestimated the digital age’s darker side.
A collective blind spot developed. Sure, there were a few dystopian warnings by a handful of Silicon Valley Johnny Rainclouds. These warnings were duly noted, then dismissed. The benefits of an interconnected world eventually seduced even the crankiest pessimists. The fantastically successful iPhone, its offspring, and imitators, ended up in the pockets of everyone. The wonderful gadgets turned the most pucker-assed dystopian soreheads into sugar-glazed gadget-addicted sweethearts.
In 2014, however, some of the dissenters most unpleasant predictions are coming true.
For the sake of brevity, it can be narrowed to two categories, large, and small. Each with its own problems.
First, the small
A relatively small number of highly-motivated actors with a totalitarian death-cult religious ideology can exploit the medium’s flexibility, affordability, and ease of entry with the same degree of “equality” as their modern liberal democratic counterparts. The modern western world invested in the development of these tools, but civilizations’ most dangerous enemies equally enjoy the benefits, and are more than happy to maximize their potential for harm. In this case, size doesn’t matter. Bad, suicidal, damaged ideas can spread just as quickly as aspirational, benevolent, or democratic ones.
A small tribe of stateless actors with internet connections, weapons, mobile devices, and apocalyptic ambitions can potentially unleash the kind of large-scale deadly force that was once only available to elite actors in large, heavily-armed totalitarian states. Such is the reality of 21st century asymmetrical warfare. Read the rest of this entry »
Journalists covering the protests include some who have been expelled from China amid crackdowns
Oct. 5, 2014 5:03 p.m. ET, L. Gordon Crovitz writes: Information has been the main currency of Hong Kong since colonial days, when word reached mainland Chinese that if they escaped to “touch base” in Hong Kong, they would get refuge under British rule. Hong Kong became Asia’s first global city thanks to hardworking immigrants who made the most of their open trade, English legal system and free speech.
“By breaking the promise that Hong Kong can select its own government, China’s current rulers are violating clear obligations.”
Hong Kong protesters are driven by hope that a leader selected by Hong Kong voters—as Beijing promised for 2017 before it reneged—can protect their way of life. But as the Communist Party narrows freedoms on the mainland, Deng Xiaoping ’s “one country, two systems” formulation for the 1997 handover entails a widening gap between life in Hong Kong and the rest of China. Without a government to represent them, Hong Kong people had no better choice than to take to the streets.
“This year has seen unprecedented physical attacks on journalists in Hong Kong, presumably at Beijing’s behest. China extorted advertising boycotts of pro-democracy publishers in Hong Kong. It forced critical bloggers to close down.”
Mainland China is in an era of brutal suppression. Beijing jails reformers, controls journalists and employs hundreds of thousands of censors on social media. Twitter , Facebook , YouTube and many global news sites are blocked. Instagram was closed down after mainlanders shared photos of Hong Kong people using umbrellas against pepper spray and tear gas.
“Hong Kong’s fate is to be the world’s window on an unpredictable China. “
As a financial capital, Hong Kong cannot survive without open access to information. It has more newspapers than any other city in the world. It’s been a window on China since the communist revolution. An unintended consequence of Beijing’s recent crackdown is that expelled foreign journalists now operate from Hong Kong, delivering news of the protests.
Google searches from China are routed to Hong Kong servers so that results can be delivered uncensored
The Wall Street Journal’s first overseas edition was launched in Hong Kong in 1976. A running joke among Journal opinion writers is that it’s the only place in the world where our free-market, free-people beliefs are mainstream. Google searches from China are routed to Hong Kong servers so that results can be delivered uncensored. Read the rest of this entry »
Dazed and Confucian
Russell Leigh Moses writes: Nearly two years into his tenure as China’s leader, President Xi Jinping has yet to expound on a clear notion of what the Communist Party should stand for as a whole or what direction the country should take. In the absence of a forward-thinking vision, Xi has instead often gazed backwards, into the periods of Chinese history the party once shunned.
That China’s president is often more comfortable talking about the country’s past than its future was evident this week when he delivered a speech at a meeting of the International Confucian Association commemorating the 2,565th anniversary of Confucius’s birth – the first time, according to Chinese Central Television that a Chinese president has addressed an international meeting on the philosopher.
The speech (in Chinese) was praised by people who were there as erudite and eloquent. Extolling Confucius and his importance, Xi said that “to understand today’s China, today’s Chinese people, we must understand Chinese culture and blood, and nourish the Chinese people’s grasp of its own cultural soil.”
“Xi seems caught between an abiding respect for the Chinese classics and the need to make sure that China modernizes. That’s created a conundrum that he seems far from fully resolving.”
Many have taken notice of the Communist party’s interest in Confucius – a scholar excoriated by previous generations of communists for advocating a social system that promoted inequality – in recent years. Although that revival seemed to be starting before Xi took over, it has accelerated under his watch, with official media repeatedly portraying the leader as being steeped in classical Chinese literature.
There’s no question the glorification of China’s past has helped the party win public support, adding emotional heft to the “China Dream” of national rejuvenation. The question is how much an obstacle it’s going to be for Xi’s efforts to lead the party.
Xi’s approach is different from his immediate predecessors, who provided ideological templates with slogans designed to summarize what the Communist Party stood for and where it planned to take China. Read the rest of this entry »
Hong Kong Democracy Protests: Open Letter From Former U.S. Consuls General to Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-yinPosted: October 4, 2014
Three former U.S. consuls general wrote an open letter to Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. They say the government’s proposal for Hong Kong’s electoral future—in which candidates running for chief executive would be pre-screened by a nominating committee friendly toward Beijing—is in defiance of the city’s Basic Law.
Full text below:
To the Honorable C.Y. Leung
Hong Kong, China
We are writing to you based on decades of inestimable interest and admiration for Hong Kong. We have loved the city, admired its citizens and promoted its vital role for business, culture and commerce for Asia and for China. Over the years, we’ve seen the buildings get taller and the harbour get smaller, and lived the exciting energy of one of the world’s greatest cities. We have seen the benefits of Hong Kong’s free markets, rule of law, civil discourse and people for China and the region. While we are Americans and write to you in our private capacity, we suggest that our views reflect the sentiments of the millions of traders, bankers, lawyers, sales teams, accountants, creative artists, film producers, bartenders and ordinary foreigners who have made Hong Kong their home at one moment or another in their lives.
We ask you, as the one person in your role as Chief Executive who can do so, to move to the forefront of efforts to settle the current dispute peacefully according to the terms of the Basic Law, the foundation of Hong Kong’s governance and status. The Basic Law embodies the ideas of peaceful evolution, self-administration and one country/two systems of Deng Xiaoping. Article 45 of the Basic Law says: “the ultimate aim is the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures.”
The proposal currently on the table –that a committee like the ones who have chosen the Chief Executives so far should continue for an undefined period to choose two or three candidates under the guidance of Beijing—clearly fails to advance Hong Kong’s system toward being more broadly representative or democratic, and in tightening the nominating committee rules would seem actually to retreat from those goals. Read the rest of this entry »
Hong Kong’s security chief furiously denied the government is using triad gangs against pro-democracy protesters on Saturday after accusations hired thugs had been brought in to stir up violent clashes.
Maya Pope-Chappell reports: There have been more than 2.3 million tweets related to the protests in Hong Kong since Sept. 27, according to Twitter data.
Though talk of the protests is still abuzz on the social network, the number of tweets has waned since Sunday’s crackdown by police, which saw more than 700 tweets per minute about the protests.
As photos of protesters using umbrellas to protect themselves against pepper spray and tear gas spread, the movement took on the name “Umbrella Revolution,” which also began appearing as a hashtag on Twitter and in Western media. Read the rest of this entry »
Beijing Blinks: Hong Kong Leader Leung Chun-ying Offers Talks with Protesters as He Refuses to Accept Calls for Him to ResignPosted: October 2, 2014
James Legge writes: Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed leader has offered talks to student leaders whose demonstrations against what they say is China’s attempt to gerrymander elections have brought the territory to a standstill.
“This is a war for public support. We must show Leung that we have the support of the masses.”
– Student Leader Joshua Wong
Speaking at the end of a fifth day of protests, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying refused to meet demonstrators’ demands to resign but said his top official, Carrie Lam, would hold a meeting with students to discuss political reforms.
“I hope both sides will be satisfied,” said Ms Lam, the city’s Chief Secretary. “Students had wanted a public meeting but I hope that we can have some flexibility to discuss details.” Occupy Central continued to demand Mr Leung’s resignation, and reject Beijing’s framework, but said it “welcomes the news that Ms Lam will meet with the students” and “hopes the talks can bring a turning point to the current political stalemate”.
“In any place in the world, if there are any protesters that surround, attack, or occupy government buildings like police headquarters, or the chief executive’s office… the consequences are serious”
– Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying
Mr Leung’s position had been bolstered earlier in the day when the People’s Daily newspaper, a Communist Party mouthpiece, published an editorial saying the party was “very satisfied” with his performance and had full confidence in his leadership. It also referred to the protest as “illegal activities” which threatened to bring chaos.
Nonetheless, the promise of face-to-face talks is an unusual concession by the Chinese government, and demonstrates their concern that the protests in one of Asia’s most important economic centres will continue over the weekend.
As Mr Leung spoke, hundreds of police officers stood at the barricade around his office, faced by thousands of protesters. Some of the police wore riot shields, and earlier in the day officers were seen carrying tear gas and rubber bullets into the area. Read the rest of this entry »
— Forbes (@Forbes) October 2, 2014