For Real Time China, Joyu Wang writes: “Under a Vast Sky” (海阔天空), a monster ballad from the early ‘90s by Hong Kong rock band Beyond, has become the unofficial anthem for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests.
“It means to destroy the old and establish the new. Even if we are disappointed—we shouldn’t be discouraged–because our world will have a better future eventually.”
The 1993 hit has become the rallying cry for protesters angry over a China ruling that limits political reform in Hong Kong. Nikki Lau, a Hong Kong resident who has participated in the protests for the past three days, said protesters have sung the song nearly 10 times each day.
“We need a song that everyone can sing along to,” Ms. Lau said. “[This song] is part of the collective memory of Hong Kong people.”
Watch a clip of the music video with English subtitles:
The song was written by the band’s lead vocalist and guitarist, Wong Ka-kui, to express the singer-songwriter’s disappointment in Hong Kong’s music industry in the 1990s, according to drummer Yip Kwok-ming, who worked with the Canto-pop band. Beyond, which was formed in 1983, are seen by many as Hong Kong’s equivalent to The Beatles because both bands’ songs carry strong political messages.
Mr. Wong once was famously quoted as saying “there’s only the entertainment industry but not a music industry in Hong Kong.” The rock star died after a tragic incident in which he fell off a stage in a Tokyo television studio in 1993. Read the rest of this entry »
“Two of the world’s powerful autocracies, both rooted in the idea and practice of communist dictatorship, are bent on encroaching upon freedom and democracy on two different fronts: Ukraine and Hong Kong.”
Thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators turned out in Hong Kong on Monday, defying a government crackdown over the weekend that saw riot police using tear gas, pepper spray and batons against protesters. As demonstrations grow against Beijing’s violation of its promise to allow universal suffrage, there is a danger that the infamous 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square could be repeated in Hong Kong.
“Requiring voters to select leaders from two to three candidates selected by a committee controlled by Beijing is not meaningful “universal suffrage.'”
The crisis began in June, when Beijing released a white paper that reneged on the “One Country Two Systems” principle laid out in the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 and the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s constitution.
China had pledged that Hong Kong could rule itself on all matters apart from defense and foreign affairs, and voters could freely choose their own leader.
Instead, the white paper claimed that Beijing has complete jurisdiction over Hong Kong, with the only autonomy being what the central government decides to grant. All aspects of local government are subject to oversight by Beijing, and even judges must meet its standard of patriotism. Read the rest of this entry »
Since the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China, the semi-autonomous city has operated under a “one country, two systems” formula, allowing a limited democracy. In August, the Chinese government announced plans to vet candidates in Hong Kong’s 2017 elections, virtually assuring only pro-Beijing politicians would be on the ballots. Student groups and pro-democracy supporters have taken to the streets in recent days to protest the limitations and to demand universal suffrage. Tens of thousands of demonstrators have occupied Hong Kong’s Central District, bringing parts of the city to a standstill. The protests are one of the largest political challenges to Beijing since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Chinese officials have scolded protesters and warned against any foreign interference. [30 photos]
— Jacky Wong (@jackycwong) September 30, 2014
Bonus tweet – then came the violins…
Sad to see HK protesters resorting to violins. pic.twitter.com/17cGBXHeRO
— Samuel Wade (@samuel_wade) September 29, 2014
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) September 30, 2014
— Wendy Tang (@wwtang) September 29, 2014
On Sept. 28, organizers of Occupy Central, a civil disobedience movement pushing for universal suffrage in Hong Kong, joined student protesters in calling for democracy in the city. Occupy Central decided to launch its protests early after student protesters attempted to break into the Hong Kong government headquarters, sparking clashes with police.
Mr. Wong came to local fame in 2012 after his Scholarism group, made up of secondary school students, protested against a plan by the Hong Kong government to implement “patriotic education” classes in Hong Kong schools.
Isabella Steger reports: The face of Hong Kong’s student democracy movement came under furious attack by a pro-Beijing newspaper today, upping the ante in the fight over the former British colony’s political future.
On Thursday, Wen Wei Po published an “expose” into what it described as the U.S. connections of Joshua Wong, the 17 year-old leader of student group Scholarism.
“This isn’t the first time that Beijing-friendly media have accused foreign countries of covert meddling in the former British colony.”
The story asserts that “U.S. forces” identified Mr. Wong’s potential three years ago, and have worked since then to cultivate him as a “political superstar.”
“China’s government has long been concerned that Western intelligence agencies might try to exploit the city’s relatively more open political environment to push democracy in the rest of the country.”
Evidence for Mr. Wong’s close ties to the U.S. that the paper cited included what the report described as frequent meetings with U.S. consulate personnel in Hong Kong and covert donations from Americans to Mr. Wong. As evidence, the paper cited photographs leaked by “netizens.” The story also said Mr. Wong’s family visited Macau in 2011 at the invitation of the American Chamber of Commerce, where they stayed at the “U.S.-owned” Venetian Macao, which is owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp.
When asked about Wen Wei Po’s allegations that he was being manipulated by U.S. forces, Mr. Wong denied the idea. “Of course it’s false,” Mr. Wong told China Real Time. In a subsequent statement posted online, Mr. Wong denied every detail in Wen Wei Po’s story. Read the rest of this entry »
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SHACHE COUNTY, China – The month of Ramadan should have been a time of fasting, charity and prayer in China’s Muslim west. But here, in many of the towns and villages of southern Xinjiang, it was a time of fear, repression, and violence.
“Throughout Ramadan, police intensified a campaign of house-to-house searches, looking for books or clothing that betray “conservative” religious belief among the region’s ethnic Uighurs…”
China’s campaign against separatism and terrorism in its mainly Muslim west has now become an all-out war on conservative Islam, residents here say.
“…women wearing veils were widely detained, and many young men arrested on the slightest pretext, residents say.”
Throughout Ramadan, police intensified a campaign of house-to-house searches, looking for books or clothing that betray “conservative” religious belief among the region’s ethnic Uighurs: women wearing veils were widely detained, and many young men arrested on the slightest pretext, residents say. Students and civil servants were forced to eat instead of fasting, and work or attend classes instead of attending Friday prayers.
The religious repression has bred resentment, and, at times, deadly protests. Reports have emerged of police firing on angry crowds in recent weeks in the towns of Elishku, and Alaqagha; since then, Chinese authorities have imposed a complete blackout on reporting from both locations, even more intense than that already in place across most of Xinjiang.
“Chinese police have cracked down on the wearing of beards and veils, in observance of Ramadan, in Muslim-majority Xinjiang province.”
A Washington Post team was turned away at the one of several checkpoints around Elishku, as army trucks rumbled past, and was subsequently detained for several hours by informers, police and Communist Party officials for reporting from villages in the surrounding district of Shache county; the following day, the team was again detained in Alaqagha in Kuqa county, and ultimately deported from the region from the nearest airport. Read the rest of this entry »
China created 40,000 new millionaires in 2013, bringing the total to 1.09 million, according to a new study
CNBC reports: The growth of 3.8 percent is a bit of an improvement from last year’s 3 percent gain. But it’s still only about half the growth rate of 2010 and 2011, suggesting that China’s economic slowdown and the government’s crackdown on corruption is slowing its millionaire manufacturing machine.
“Beijing and Guangdong have the most millionaires, with 192,000 and 180,000 respectively, followed by Shanghai with 159,000.”
According to the Hurun Research Institute, the number of people in China with personal wealth of 10 million yuan—or $1.6 million—in mainland China reached 1,090,000, up from 1,050,000 in 2012.
The number of people in China worth 100 million yuan, or $16 million, increased by 2,500 people to 67,000.
[We also celebrate the scandalous pleasure of obscenely affordable luxury items]
The slower millionaire growth comes as sales of high-end luxury goods in China—everything from watches and wine to handbags and Lamborghinis—have also cooled. But Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of the Hurun Report, said this year’s millionaire growth was still solid.
“Although we have been seeing a slowdown in spending, the money is still very much there,” he said in the report. Read the rest of this entry »
From Austrian Archive: Shaman Dancers, Tea Houses, Arms Traders, Urban Dwellers, Coolies and Suffragettes
When a relative of a long dead Austro-Hungarian navy soldier approached Gerd Kaminski, a China scholar in Vienna, in 2007, she pointed him towards a treasure trove of thousands of photos of Beijing, many of which were a century old.
Kaminski, director of the Austrian Institute for China and Southeast Asia Studies in Vienna, worked his way through the photos and published a selection along with other photos he was given by descendants of Austrian diplomats and traders in imperial China.
“These photos give precious insights into daily urban life in Beijing a century ago,” he said. “Many of the buildings don’t exist anymore and traditions seen in the photos have been lost in time.”
In 2011, Erwan Rambourg was a six-year veteran of the luxury industry as an analyst for HSBC, based in Paris, a city that many high-end brands call home.
“The balance is story-telling. Luxury consumers are like kids. Brands are a dream, an aspiration.”
That year, he moved to Hong. While the brands were European, the consumption was shifting eastward toward China. “The reason I moved to Hong Kong was to try to understand better the trend and how the Chinese were consuming,” he said.
After three years of observation, the 41-year-old Mr. Rambourg, who continues to cover the sector for HSBC, has put together his insights into the industry in a new book, “Bling Dynasty: Why the Reign of the Chinese Luxury Shoppers Has Only Begun.”
“If you get the impression that you’re the only one, that you’re unique and being the only one told the story, you’ll pay up. If you feel like everyone else, you won’t.”
He recently spoke with China Real Time about how China’s luxury consumption is different, why the corruption crackdown is a good thing and how Chinese and American consumers are becoming more alike.
“You have to develop the illusion or reality of scarcity.”
Take us back to when you first arrived in Asia. What was the luxury landscape like?
The luxury sector 20 years ago was driven by European consumers. Ten years ago, it was driven Japanese consumers, with the hope that Chinese consumers would eventually take over. Today, the Chinese are the key driver. In 2015, Chinese consumers will become 35% of luxury consumes.
The development of the Chinese luxury market is often compared to that of Japan. But you see vast differences.
They’re considered similar by investors but the differences lie in culture and how the markets are built. First, gender: The Japanese market was centered on the office lady. These are secretary-types who were living with parents, allocating most of their income to their next handbag.
The Chinese market was built by men. The core consumer was male, businessman, a lot of corporate gifting, instead of self-purchasing.
Today, the core consumer in Japan is female and aging. The core consumer in China is diverse. You still have the businessmen, but you have the emergence of young, female shoppers and a whole diversity of consumer profiles you don’t see in Japan.
Currently in Japan, there’s a move away from luxury and brands. They’re looking for more holistic experiences: Instead of a handbag, they’re going to a spa. Read the rest of this entry »
The territory’s citizens must not give up demanding full democracy—for their sake and for China’s
Chinese officials have called it a “leap forward” for democracy in Hong Kong. Yet their announcement on August 31st of plans to allow, for the first time, every Hong Kong citizen to vote for the territory’s leader has met only anger and indifference. Joy was conspicuously absent. This is not because Hong Kong’s citizens care little for the right to vote, but because China has made it abundantly clear that the next election for Hong Kong’s chief executive, due in 2017, will be rigged. The only candidates allowed to stand will be those approved by the Communist Party in Beijing, half a continent away.
“Xi Jinping, the party chief and president, had the opportunity to use Hong Kong as a test-bed for political change in China. Had he taken this opportunity, he might have gone down in history as a true reformer. Instead, he has squandered it.”
At its worst, this risks provoking a disaster which even China cannot want. Democrats are planning protests. It is unclear how many people will join in, but the fear is that the territory’s long history of peaceful campaigning for political reform will give way to skirmishes with police, mass arrests and possibly even intervention by the People’s Liberation Army. That would disrupt one of Asia’s wealthiest and most orderly economies, and set China against the West. But even if, as is likely, such a calamity is avoided, this leap sideways is a huge missed opportunity not just for Hong Kong but also for the mainland. A chance to experiment with the sort of local democracy that might have benefited all of China has been missed. Read the rest of this entry »
— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) September 11, 2014
Japanese paper Yomiuri Shimbun reported last month that Chinese-party officials submitted an official order for the PLA to go ahead with the establishment of an Aerospace Force, Zachary Keck of The Diplomat writes.
The space-branch would add to the PLA’s Ground, Air, Naval, and Second Artillery (nuclear and ICBM missiles) branches. It will come with the establishment of its own office run under the Party’s Central Military Commission.
In April, Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping told military officers “to speed up air and space integration and sharpen their offensive and defensive capabilities,” calling for a “new type of combat unit.” Read the rest of this entry »
HONG KONG—The Hong Kong protest movement Occupy Central plans to launch a civil-disobedience campaign in early October to protest Beijing’s decision to effectively control who can run for the city’s top post, said a person close to the group.
“Many people, including professors who were previously against Occupy Central, are now in support of the movement, whether through direct participation or donations.”
– Chan Kin-man, a co-founder of Occupy Central
The group last week had indicated a loss of momentum following the announcement of the Chinese decision on Aug. 31.
The person close to Occupy Central said holding the protest a full month after Beijing’s decision was aimed at giving supporters ample time to “decide for themselves” whether to join the cause in a “coolheaded” fashion. The person said detailed protest plans were still being made.
The person denied that the timing was chosen to coincide with the weeklong holiday around China’s National Day on Oct. 1. That is traditionally one of the biggest shopping weeks of the year in Hong Kong, when a lot of mainlanders visit the city. Read the rest of this entry »
“In his post, Lo comments in Chinese: ‘A super quick way to wash a dog: soak, clean, and dry. All done. Clean and quick!'”
For South China Morning Post, Hazel Parry reports: A man being investigated over a Facebook post featuring photographs of a dog churning in a washing machine claims to have fled to the mainland. The man, who goes by the name of Jacky Lo, posted a status update yesterday in which he bragged that he was on his way out of Hong Kong as pressure mounted for him to be punished.
“In response to a comment underneath asking if the dog was dead, Lo answers: ‘Yes! Do you want to see it!'”
The post included a link to the online petition urging the police to bring him to justice, with Lo commenting: “Wanted?? This afternoon I’m going back to China. See ya later.”
“His latest remarks have brought more criticism online, with people calling him a ‘weak bully’, ‘shameless’, ‘sick’ and a ‘monster’.”
The pictures, which show a small white dog submerged in water and being spun around helplessly in the washing machine, have sparked outrage, with about 14,000 people signing the petition.
In his post, Lo comments in Chinese: “A super quick way to wash a dog: soak, clean, and dry. All done. Clean and quick!”
He then add a smiley icon and the words “feeling content” in English.
BEIJING— Brian Spegele reports: Police detained at least two editors and other employees at a major Chinese business news website and placed them under investigation for suspected extortion, state media reported, as the government steps up its scrutiny of journalists.
“Authorities have issued a series of orders in recent months to enforce greater control over media by demanding reporters heed the government line.”
State broadcaster China Central Television said two editors from the 21st Century Business Herald website were among eight people placed into custody Wednesday. At least two public-relations companies were also facing scrutiny as part of the investigation, CCTV said.
Police in Shanghai, who are leading the investigation, didn’t answer telephone calls seeking comment.
The news website, in a statement posted to its microblog account, said it would “actively cooperate with public security organs in their investigation work.” Guangdong Twenty-First Century Media Co., a major Chinese publisher of business newspapers and magazines and controller of the site, declined to comment. Read the rest of this entry »
— Robert Holguin (@ABC7Robert) September 3, 2014