— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) September 2, 2014
WSJ’s Jeffrey Ng reports: Beijing’s plans to allow Hong Kong people to elect their next leader—albeit only from among prescreened candidates and effectively denying an open vote—will need approval of two-thirds of the city’s 70-member strong legislature.
What happens if the reform package gets voted down?
By constituting a bloc of more than a third, the city’s 27 pro-democratic legislators hold the veto on any such plans. On Monday, these legislators voiced their disapproval by interrupting a speech by a senior Chinese official, chanting slogans while holding up banners condemning China’s decision as “shameful,” before storming out of a briefing session on political reform. Read the rest of this entry »
“The police started using pepper spray on us without any warning. We are here to protest in a peaceful manner.”
– Kit, a social worker and activist
HONG KONG—Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong Monday said police used pepper spray against demonstrators outside a news conference given by a top Chinese official on Beijing‘s decision on how the city should elect its leader.
“Since the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and the sovereignty, security and development interests of the country are at stake, there is a need to proceed in a prudent and steady manner.”
– From Beijing’s ruling Sunday
Li Fei, deputy secretary-general of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp parliament, gave a briefing at the AsiaWorld-Expo, near Hong Kong’s airport, to explain the decision to chaotic scenes of protests both inside and outside the venue.
Outside, a 21-year-old social worker identifying himself only as Kit said he and four others in his group of activist were pepper-sprayed by police. Read the rest of this entry »
From this weekend’s WSJ opinion pages:
The people of Hong Kong can plead or protest for democracy all they want, but they can only hold a sham election for Chief Executive in 2017. That was the ruling of China’s rubber-stamp National People’s Congress on Sunday.
“The threat to Hong Kong’s capitalism comes not from democracy, but from the cronyism and erosion of the rule of law that are infiltrating from the mainland.”
Moderates on both sides of the political spectrum in Hong Kong had urged compromise. They proposed nomination procedures that would satisfy Beijing’s concerns while still allowing the free election that China promised in 1997 when it made the city a self-governing special administrative region for 50 years.
“The tragedy for both Hong Kong and China is that the conflict is unnecessary.”
Beijing not only rejected these ideas, it seems they were never seriously considered. The Communist Party insists on absolute veto power over the choice of candidates. The result will be more frustration in Hong Kong.
“The city is manifestly ready for democracy, which would give Beijing fewer headaches rather than more.”
Since the handover from British rule, the city has suffered under mediocre leaders weakened by their lack of a popular mandate. This has angered parts of the population, particularly the young, and some are promising acts of civil disobedience. Read the rest of this entry »
…Another iconic HK treat is the slyly named ‘pineapple bun’, containing no pineapple (false advertising alert!) but reflecting just the pineapple-like appearance of that extra-golden, puckered, crunchy top that never fails to crumble into a delightful mess. In case you seek a cholesterol boost (beyond the lard that is part of the crunchy top – good luck wiping that from your memory!), most cha chaan tengs serving these local treats can’t leave well enough alone – but instead insert a slab (not a sliver) of butter to melt inside…(read more)
A Sea of Phones Illuminating Tamar Park, Connecting the Executive and Legislative Hearts of Hong KongPosted: August 31, 2014
A sea of phones illuminating Tamar Park, connecting the executive and legislative hearts of Hong Kong. pic.twitter.com/ZTMqM39U5t
— Alan Wong (@byAlanWong) August 31, 2014
— GlobalPost (@GlobalPost) August 31, 2014
The Chinese central government today announced regulations that would gut Hong Kong’s evolution to real democratic election of the city’s chief executive. In essence, Beijing imposed rules that would ensure that only it’s hand-picked candidates would be allowed to run for the city’s top government post. I attended the beginning of the rally in the park in front of the city’s main government offices today. Here are some pictures:
- Hong Kong Pro-Government Activists Rally Against Occupy Protest (punditfromanotherplanet.com)
- A showdown is looming in Hong Kong, with China threatening to send in its army (chinadailymail.com)
- Beijing Gets Ugly in Hong Kong (punditfromanotherplanet.com)
- Beijing: China Legislature Rules No Open Nominations for Hong Kong Leader (punditfromanotherplanet.com)
- CHINA’S Ticking Clock: Critical Hong Kong Vote Ruling by Beijing Coming Soon (punditfromanotherplanet.com)
- Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Showdown: China Warns Against ‘Foreign Meddling’ (punditfromanotherplanet.com)
- ‘Insufficiency of Mutual Trust': Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Protesters to Get Pro Bono Aid (punditfromanotherplanet.com)
(My apologies for the poor photography — my Hong Kong cell phone has a decidedly inferior camera, and the rally really only got under way after dark.)
Police presence was heavy in the city during the day, with large foot patrols moving around. Interestingly, although Hong Kong’s police usually carry revolvers (.380s – I asked), most cops I saw today had empty holsters on their belts. Read the rest of this entry »
Occupy Central has threatened to shut down the city’s financial district with a massive sit-in if Beijing doesn’t allow completely open elections for chief executive
BEIJING (AP) — China’s legislature on Sunday ruled against allowing open nominations in elections for Hong Kong’s chief executive, a decision that promises to ignite political tensions in the Asian financial hub.
Left: Jimmy Lai, Chairman and Founder of Next Media (Reuters)
The legislature’s powerful Standing Committee ruled that all candidates for chief executive must receive more than half
of votes from a special nominating body before going before voters. Hong Kong democracy activists have held massive protests demanding that Chinese leaders let the city’s voters choose their chief executive from an open list of candidates.
Activists have also decried the nominating committee held up by Beijing as beholden to Chinese leaders and were mobilizing to stage massive protests against the decision.
“Since the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and the sovereignty, security and development interests of the country are at stake, there is a need to proceed in a prudent and steady manner,” the Standing Committee said in their decision. Read the rest of this entry »
Japan’s Defense Ministry Asks for Record Budget Increase in Response to China’s Heightened Military AggressionPosted: August 31, 2014
TOKYO—Took Sekiguchi reports: Japan’s Defense Ministry has requested a budget of ¥4.899 trillion ($47.1 billion) for the coming fiscal year starting April 1, a 2.4% increase over the amount for the current year. If granted, it would be the third year in a row Japan has expanded its military spending following a decade of cuts.
“We have an immediate neighbor whose military expenditures are at least twice as large as Japan’s and second only to the U.S. defense budget.”
– Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
The figure, requested by ministry Friday, doesn’t include spending related to U.S. bases in Japan, or for the purchase of a new government airplane for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. If these items are included, the total budget request would be ¥5.054 trillion, the largest ever for the ministry. It would also come as Mr. Abe continues his program to beef up the country’s defense capabilities.
“So call me a right-wing militarist if you want..”
Citing the continuing need for ocean surveillance amid tensions with China over disputed islands in the East China Sea, the ministry is requesting 20 patrol planes and five patrol helicopters. It is also looking into acquiring an early-warning radar system and aerial drones. Read the rest of this entry »
BEIJING (AP) — China warned against foreign meddling in Hong Kong’s politics Saturday ahead of an expected announcement to recommend highly contentious restrictions on the first direct elections for the leader of the Chinese-controlled financial hub.
- Hong Kong’s Occupy Central ‘Referendum’ Explained
- China threatens to remove Hong Kong’s autonomy
- Beijing Gets Ugly in Hong Kong
“Not only are they undermining Hong Kong’s stability and development, but they’re also attempting to turn Hong Kong into a bridgehead for subverting and infiltrating the Chinese mainland,” said the article.
[Also see - Hong Kong Tensions Rise as Beijing Critic's Home Raided - WSJ]
See more here…
About 30 Hong Kong Lawyers Plan to Offer Free Legal Aid in Case of Arrests
Background: In June, hundreds of Hong Kong lawyers joined a march after China’s cabinet, the State Council, issued a white paper declaring that “loving the country” was a basic political requirement for all Hong Kong administrators, including judges and judicial personnel.
CHESTER YUNG, ISABELLA STEGER and EDWARD NGAI reporting: HONG KONG—Dozens of Hong Kong lawyers are lining up to offer pro bono assistance to pro-democracy protesters, in a move that highlights the legal community’s growing concern over potential infringement on the city’s judicial independence by Beijing.
“Hong Kong is part of a sovereign country.…There is a constitutional obligation for all institutions in Hong Kong…to safeguard national security.”
– Wang Zhenmin, dean of the Tsinghua University School of Law in Beijing
- CHINA’S Ticking Clock: Critical Hong Kong Vote Ruling by Beijing Coming Soon
- Thousands March to Support Press Freedom in Hong Kong
- Hong Kong Pro-Government Activists Rally Against Occupy Protest
- What the World Owes Hong Kong, and Should Fear if its Democracy is Denied
Activist group Occupy Central has threatened protests to paralyze Hong Kong’s main business district if Beijing, in a decision expected to be announced on Sunday, moves to effectively bar any pro-democracy candidates from running for chief executive, the city’s top post, in 2017 elections.
Mr. Wang Zhenmin blamed the uproar over the white paper on “insufficiency of mutual trust” between Hong Kong and China.
A group made up of about 30 mostly local lawyers is prepared to offer free legal assistance to Occupy Central demonstrators in case they are arrested, said Alvin Yeung, organizer of the lawyers’ group. “We want to make sure the protesters’ civil rights are protected,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »
Does this sound familiar? You’re wrapping up a great meal at some fantastic restaurant – stuffed, maybe even overstuffed. Feeling the food coma creep in, you sense your brain struggling to maintain consciousness as your body desperately attempts digestion. Seeing you slump slightly in your chair, the waiter walks by with the dessert menu but passes you by, assuming you’re down for the count.
“Take the Hong Kong egg tart, for example…Best when freshly baked and still a tad warm, these little tarts are like a sweet hug for your stomach.”
Mere moments before he’s out of reach, you eagerly snatch the menu from his confused fingers. There’s ALWAYS room (and energy) for dessert! As my friends (and dentist) can attest, my sweet tooth is relentless.
“Maybe it’s bold for me to say, but I do believe they can melt even the staunchest Asian dessert cynic.”
You know how cows have 4-chamber stomachs? I must have bovine tendencies, since no matter how full I may be, I appear to magically grow a separate stomach chamber just in time for dessert! Are you with me?
Much to my surprise, Hong Kong is brimming with bakeries, pâtisseries, cafés, and cha chaan tengs (Chinese tea restaurants). Sometimes, these are more local shops, serving local desserts. Despite the somewhat negative stereotype that clouds western perceptions about Asian desserts, some of the local sweets here really do hold their own. And there is a fun element of novelty, at least to Chinese-dessert-virgins (you get what I mean).
Take the Hong Kong egg tart, for example – all creamy, custardy, buttery/flaky crust goodness. Best when freshly baked and still a tad warm, these little tarts are like a sweet hug for your stomach. Maybe it’s bold for me to say, but I do believe they can melt even the staunchest Asian dessert cynic.
Hong Kong residents are hard-core egg lovers – as proven by yet another famous egg-y sweet, the egg waffle. Humble in appearance, when prepared properly, they are slightly crispy on the outside, tender and airy on the inside – sort of the ‘bubble wrap’ of desserts, with the flavor of vanilla cake. The fun, bulbous shapes make tearing off a golden sphere (or 5, or 10) almost impossible to resist!
Another iconic HK treat is the slyly named ‘pineapple bun’, containing no pineapple (false advertising alert!) but reflecting just the pineapple-like appearance of that extra-golden, puckered, crunchy top that never fails to crumble into a delightful mess. In case you seek a cholesterol boost (beyond the lard that is part of the crunchy top – good luck wiping that from your memory!), most cha chaan tengs serving these local treats can’t leave well enough alone – but instead insert a slab (not a sliver) of butter to melt inside. Try this WAY before your next visit to the cardiologist! Read the rest of this entry »
George Will writes: Russia’s ongoing dismemberment of Ukraine and the Islamic State’s erasing of Middle Eastern borders have distracted attention from the harassment of U.S. Navy aircraft by Chinese fighter jets over the South China Sea. Beijing calls this sea, and the Yellow and East China seas, the “near seas,” meaning China’s seas. The episodes involving aircraft are relevant to one of Admiral Jonathan Greenert’s multiplying preoccupations — CUES, meaning Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea.
“Cascading dangers are compelling Americans to think afresh about something they prefer not to think about at all — foreign policy.”
This is designed to prevent incendiary accidents, a topic of special interest during this month’s centennial commemorations of the beginning of a war that, ignited by miscalculations, ruined the 20th century. Greenert, chief of naval operations, has carrier-based aircraft flying from the Persian Gulf to targets in Iraq. He is, however, always thinking about the far side of the largest ocean.
One hundred years ago, the principal challenge of world diplomacy, which failed spectacularly, was to peacefully integrate a rising, restless power — Germany — into the international system. Today’s comparable challenge is China. Greenert, who knows well his Chinese counterpart, Admiral Wu Shengli, radiates a serene patience about China. Read the rest of this entry »
Gambling Firms Aim to Raise Funds for Macau, Overseas Casino Operations
HONG KONG— For WSJ, Kate O’Keeffe & Yvonne Lee report: China’s international financial hub, located a quick ferry ride from the world’s casino capital, has seen a throng of gambling companies rush to its equity markets over the past year.
“The Asia gaming industry should be one of the fastest-growing sectors in the next decade.”
– CLSA analyst Aaron Fischer
Since July 2013, at least six casino and VIP gambling companies have unveiled plans to list in Hong Kong, often through so-called backdoor listings. These companies are either hoping to raise funds to expand abroad or to bolster business at home in Macau at a time when the enclave’s $45 billion gambling market is suffering its first revenue declines in five years.
Most recently, Nasdaq-listed Iao Kun Group Holdings Co. last month filed a formal listing application to go public “by introduction,” where no new funds are raised, hiring Rothschild (Hong Kong) Ltd. as its sponsor. The company is part of Macau’s junket industry, which brings high-spending gamblers from mainland China to Macau, issues them credit and collects players’ debts in exchange for commissions from casinos. Read the rest of this entry »
Snakes are a delicacy in many parts of the world and among them the Indochinese spitting cobra is held in high regard for both is scarcity and the alleged health benefits it holds to those who consume it… (read more)
“She has the ability to change the course of people’s lives with a click of her mouse.”
Interview with Actress Yao Chen
The Telegraph‘s Sarah Keenlyside: “Is it like having a superpower?” I ask the actress Yao Chen as she raises her coffee cup to her lips. She breaks into a broad smile as her translator explains my meaning. “I’m getting more mature,” she says, avoiding the question. “These days I am much more careful and cautious.”
China’s Answer to Angelina Jolie
“Stories abound of children’s operations that were paid for by donations from her Weibo followers.”
One could add the word “modest” to that list, because Yao, self-effacing as she is, has more followers on Weibo (China’s version of Twitter) than the population of Britain. That’s 71 million, in case you were wondering. And when five per cent of the population of one of the world’s most powerful (not to mention politically sensitive) countries is hanging on your every word, you have a lot of influence, no matter how cautious you are.
“When I was younger a family member shared the gospel with me. And over the course of that summer I read the Bible and it just answered all of the questions I had about life, so very soon after I was baptised.”
In fact, so great is that influence, she has the ability to change the course of people’s lives with a click of her mouse. Stories abound of children’s operations that were paid for by donations from her Weibo followers, of old ladies who put their entire savings into causes she supports – even of a condemned man who was suddenly hailed as a hero because of her impassioned online defence of his character (he was a friend of her father’s).
How did a nice middle-class actress conquer Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter, and turn herself into one of the most influential figures in the world?
A still from Color Me Love (2010)
So how did a 34-year-old from a small coastal city in south-east China rise from obscurity to become one of Time magazine’s 100 most powerful people on the planet? (Forbes ranked her 83rd among the world’s most influential women.) And, more to the point, why have we never heard of her?
Government continues crackdown over violent incidents blamed on Uighur separatists from Xinjiang region
BEIJING—Chinese state media said on Saturday that eight convicted terrorists were executed in the far western region of Xinjiang, where ethnic conflicts have left dozens of people dead this year.
Among those executed were three men convicted of plotting a deadly assault in the heart of Beijing last year in which the attacker—with his mother and wife as passengers—drove a sport-utility vehicle through crowds, killing themselves and three bystanders, the government-run Tianshan Net news portal said.
The incident was a sign that the ethnic violence was spilling out of the ethnic region of Xinjiang.
The others who were executed were convicted of offenses including police attacks, bomb making, murder and arson, the news portal said.
The report didn’t say when the executions took place.
Xinjiang is home to the Muslim, Turkic minority of Uighurs. Beijing has blamed the ethnic violence on terrorism with overseas ties, but human rights groups say the Uighurs are suffering from repressive policies and practices. Read the rest of this entry »