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[VIDEO] Frank Lavin: What China Wants 

Fmr. Amb. Frank Lavin, author of ‘Homefront to Battlefront,’ on Beijing‘s goals.

Order Frank Lavin’s book, “Home Front to Battlefront: An Ohio Teenager in World War II (War and Society in North America)” from Amazon.com

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Badiucao: One Love, One China

From China Digital Times: In recent cartoons for CDT,  puts a Valentine twist on President Trump’s emerging relationship with President Xi Jinping, which took a step forward in a recent phone call:

Valentines, by Badiucao:

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A second drawing focuses on Trump’s effort to patch up relations with Beijing by acknowledging the “one China” policy, which declares that Taiwan is part of China. Trump had earlier stated that he was “not committed” to the longstanding policy.

One China, by Badiucao

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Since his inauguration in January, President Trump’s policy toward China has been elusive and unpredictable. He ignited a firestorm of controversy soon after taking office by accepting a phone call from President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan and later saying that he may choose not to adhere to the “one China” policy, which has defined the U.S.-China-Taiwan trilateral relationship for decades. These actions seemed to indicate that he would live up to campaign rhetoric to take a tougher line on China than his predecessors. Yet after two weeks of silence between the two leaders, Trump switched tacks by promising to uphold the one China status quo in a phone call with President Xi Jinping. From Simon Denyer and Philip Rucker of the Washington Post:

In a statement issued late Thursday, the White House said the two men had held a lengthy and “extremely cordial” conversation.

“The two leaders discussed numerous topics and President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our one-China policy,” the White House statement said.

In return, Xi said he “appreciated his U.S. counterpart, , for stressing that the U.S. government adheres to the one-China policy,” which he called the “political basis” of relations between the two nations, state news agency Xinhua reported. [Source]

The call has been taken by many as a sign of acquiescence by Trump to Xi, as he acknowledged that his mention of the “one China” policy was at Xi’s request. From Jane Perlez of The New York Times:

But in doing so, he handed China a victory and sullied his reputation with its leader, Xi Jinping, as a tough negotiator who ought to be feared, analysts said. Read the rest of this entry »


Smoke Rises from Overturned Jeep in Front of Tiananmen Square

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Videos are currently circulating online of a mysterious car crash that occurred earlier today in Tiananmen Square.

The footage shows an overturned military jeep emitting smoke on the road right in front of the iconic Gate of Heavenly Peace with its portrait of Mao Zedong as police try to push onlookers back.

Currently, not much is known about the incident, which occurred at around 7:20 a.m. this morning. While there are rumors of a planned attack and explosion, Chinese state media has called the incident a “vehicle rollover” in which a driver and cyclist were injured.

And it appears that the situation at the square has since returned back to normal. Read the rest of this entry »


The Chairmen, Trump and Mao

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The January 13, 1967 issue of TIME magazine featured Mao Zedong on its cover with the headline “China in Chaos.” Fifty years later, TIME made U.S. President-elect Donald Trump its Man of The Year. With a groundswell of mass support, both men rebelled against the established order in their respective countries and set about throwing the world into confusion. Both share an autocratic mind set, Mao Zedong as Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, Donald Trump as Chairman of the Board. As Jiaying Fan noted in May 2016, both also share a taste for “polemical 51gkpencml-_sl250_excess and xenophobic paranoia.” For his part, Mao’s rebellion led to national catastrophe and untold human misery.

[Order Peter Navarro’s book “Death by China: Confronting the Dragon – A Global Call to Action” from Amazon.com]

On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States of America. Although some of China’s New Leftists hailed Trump’s November 2016 win as a validation of ever-victorious Mao Zedong Thought, there is little reason to think that a Trump-led America will give much succor to China’s ideologues. In the two months since the U.S. election, through a phone call to Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen, repeated comments on China’s currency manipulation, the appointment of Peter Navarro (an economic hawk and author, among other things, of the 2011 book Death by China: Confronting the Dragon—A Global Call to Action) as director of the National Trade Council, and his intervention in a dispute over an underwater U.S. drone waylaid by the Chinese navy in the South China Sea, Trump has indicated that he is taking an unpredictable approach to the most important global bilateral relationship. Even long-standing friends and allies of the U.S. have been thrown off guard as they learn how to live with the Great Disrupter.

The Chinese Communist Party under its Chairman of Everything, Xi Jinping, hasn’t had to confront such an erratic and populist leader since Mao Zedong launched the Cultural Revolutionary 50 years ago.

Uproar in Heaven

In Official China, the anniversary of the Cultural Revolution passed in silence, even though today’s People’s Republic, whether in terms of its achievements or of its egregious failures, continues to live in the shadow of that political maelstrom.

[Read more here, at ChinaFile]

In 1966, Mao observed that his personality was a mixture of contradictory elements. There was the self-assured sense of destiny and confidence that led him to challenge and overturn earlier leaders of the Communist Party, confront Chiang Kai-shek, and lead the Chinese revolution. This was, he said, an expression of his “Tiger Spirit,” something that was in constant interplay with his “Monkey Spirit,” one that was skittish, paranoid, and unpredictable. The Monkey was always ready to take on the Tiger with devilish glee. In the last two decades of his life, Mao’s China reflected this deep-seated contradiction as the country lurched between authoritarian control and anarchic confusion. What for the Great Helmsman was his life force writ large would rend the fabric of the society he ruled and threatened everything he had worked to achieve.

Archive/Getty Images

Archive/Getty Images

At the time of the Sino-Soviet split in 1961, Mao wrote a poem in praise of China’s most famous monkey, Sun Wukong, the hero of the popular late-Ming novel Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en. The international order established following WWII was under increasing pressure, and the Socialist Bloc, led by the Soviet Union, was riven by rebellion and disquiet as a result both of repressive Soviet expansionism in Europe and the ideological uncertainty generated by Nikita Khrushchev’s secret denunciation of Joseph Stalin in 1956. Mao, giving vent to his Tiger Spirit, would now lay claim to the mantle of world revolution.ObaMao

A thunderstorm burst over the earth,
So a devil rose from a heap of white bones.
The deluded monk was not beyond the light,
But the malignant demon must wreak havoc.
The Golden Monkey wrathfully swung his massive cudgel,
And the jade-like firmament was cleared of dust.
Today, a miasmal mist once more rising,
We hail Sun Wu-kung, the wonder-worker.

Having delivered this challenge, Mao’s unpredictable Monkey Spirit would attempt to turn the world upside down. His poem and Uproar in Heaven, a 1964 film adaptation of Wu Cheng’en’s novel, struck a cord with the restive youth of China, many of whom closely followed China’s ideological contest with the Soviet Union. Like Mao, they too felt that their country was being stymied by a hidebound Soviet-style bureaucracy; the normalization of the revolutionary ardor of the past was frustrating China’s ability to lead history and achieve greatness. They related to Mao as he portrayed himself as an outsider who championed an uprising of the masses against a sclerotic system.

Chairman Mao Tse-tung, left, welcomes US President Richard Nixon at his house in Beijing (AFP)

Chairman Mao Tse-tung, left, welcomes US President Richard Nixon at his house in Beijing (AFP)

When, in 1966, Mao both engineered and supported a grassroots youthful rebellion against the very party-state he had created, a group of middle-school students in Beijing responded by composing a series of manifestos declaring that they, like Monkey, would support the Chairman, create an uproar in heaven, and smash the old world to pieces. In particular, they proclaimed “Rebellion is Justified” and quoted a line from Mao’s 1961 poem:

The Golden Monkey wrathfully swung his massive cudgel,
And the jade-like firmament was cleared of dust.

Mao responded to the young rebels and, to use today’s parlance, an alt-left movement of radicalism was born. The students called themselves Red Guards.

[Read the full story here, at ChinaFile]

In August 1966, Mao and his deputy, Lin Biao, encouraged the Red Guards to Destroy the Four Olds and a wave of iconoclasm swept the country while the violence against people victimized as representing the old order were denounced, attacked, beaten, and even killed. During what would be known as Bloody August, Mao is said to have written to Jiang Qing, his wife and partner in revolutionary extremism, declaring that “Once heaven is in great disorder a new kind of order can emerge.” He believed that throwing the political establishment and social order into confusion would liberate the true potential of people to achieve what was otherwise seemingly impossible. A high-tide of revolutionary enthusiasm would allow people to cast aside the deadening bureaucracy and revitalize industry, agriculture, research, and society itself. Under the guidance of Mao Zedong Thought, the goal of making China great again could be realized on the world stage.

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The Instincts of an Autocrat

The similarities between Mao Zedong and Donald Trump don’t end with the autocrat’s mindset touched on in the opening paragraph of this essay, or with the clash between tiger-like brio and the dyspathy of the monkey. The will to autocracy means that both figures share (with elected or self-appointed strong men historically and worldwide) some disturbing parallels:

Quotations Vs. Tweets: In the Mao era, the mysterious, contradictory, and yet powerfully inciting utterances of the Chairman were conveyed not by Twitter, but through quotations broadcast over national radio and carried in the newspapers. In the print media, Mao’s gnomic utterances were always highlighted by being printed in bold, while on radio they were recited in the stentorian voice of authority. A daily quotation called “The Highest Directive” featured in the top right-hand corner of the People’s Daily and was mimicked by every paper across the land. The quotations demanded a response and action and sent the country lurching in different directions while confusion reigned supreme in Beijing.

Progadanda Vs. the Lying Media: Like Mao, Trump has trouble sleeping, and his early morning Tweets reveal whatever has caught the leader’s flickering attention, alerting the world to some new twist or turn in his feverish thinking. With Twitter, Trump bypasses both the formal bureaucracy of Washington and what he and his followers dub “The Lying Media.”

mao-propaganda

Mao too distrusted the state media based in the capital, Beijing, and with the support of his wife, Jiang Qing, and her Shanghai comrades he got his message of rebellion out in other cities. He extolled The Right to Rebel and, in essence, he launched the Cultural Revolution to “drain the swamp” of the Chinese Communist Party bureaucracy. He called enemies within the Party nomenklatura “Capitalist Roaders,” the permanent political class, that is men and women who were pursuing policies that undermined his ideas and which, he believe, held back China’s productive capacity and frustrated the country’s global revolutionary preeminence.

[Read the full text here, at ChinaFile]

Climate Change Vs. Human Will: The effects of climate change and the mismanagement of natural resources were evident in Mao’s China. There was a profligate depletion of water resources; increasing desertification starting from Outer Mongolia; unmodulated industrial pollution from the Great Leap Forward era onwards; denial of contaminants in food and water supplies. . . the list goes on. Mao believed that “man can conquer heaven,” that human will could triumph over nature. China now faces the challenge of climate change and environmental degradation with sober clarity; Trump’s America will be led by climate skeptics, deniers, and those who would sign up for Mao’s axiom.

The Smartest Men in the Room: Like Trump, Mao thought he was “smart,” and he distrusted experts and the educated. An autodidact, he believed that he did not need to rely on others to understand complex issues and resolve problems. He declared that the more education you have, the more dangerous you may be. Read the rest of this entry »


Helen Raleigh: 2017 May Be The Year China’s Chickens Come Home To Roost 

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While Americans embrace their reinstated confidence in both economics and international affairs, China seems to be going the opposite direction.

Deng probably hoped future Chinese leaders would be humble and restrained, keep a low profile, and instead of broadcasting China’s ambitions or showing off China’s economic or military muscles, quietly focus on overcoming China’s weaknesses, such as economic development. In international affairs, Deng probably would have liked to see China avoid acting like an aggressor. Instead, he would have preferred China conshun either causing any international conflict or serving as a leader of any faction within an international conflict.

[Check out Helen Raleigh’s book “Confucius Never Said” at Amazon.com]

When Deng passed away in 1997, China was still in its first decade of economic reform and its per-capita gross domestic product was less than $800, so the kind of restrained policy approach he advocated made perfect sense. No one knows how long Deng intended for this policy guidance to last. But Deng’s successors, from Hu Yaobang to Hu Jingtao (they aren’t related), pretty much followed Deng’s policy guidelines until President Xi Jinping assumed power in 2012.

No More Humility and Restraint

It seems President Xi has abandoned Deng’s strategic policy guidelines. On the domestic front, he focused on ensuring his power by purging many political rivals through the anti-graft movement. In October, he was declared the “core” leader of the Chinese Communist Party, a title last used by Chairman Mao.

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[Read the full story here, at The Federalist]

He coined the term “China dream” to counter “American dream.” While “American dream” is about any hard-working individual living to his or her full capacity in a free society, “China dream” means Chinese people can only live a better life by subjecting themselves to the Communist Party’s absolute rule. Under President Xi, the 51hkz5w3lkl-_sl250_Chinese government has ruthlessly cracked down on dissidents, including Chinese nationals and foreigners, and China has become a much less friendly place to foreign investors and companies.

[Check out Helen Raleigh’s other book “The Broken Welcome Mat: America’s un-American immigration policy, and how we should fix it” at Amazon.com]

On the foreign policy front, China doesn’t lay low any longer. President Xi has been very vocal about China’s ambitions. He seems to believe that China’s rise to replace the United States as the next superpower is unstoppable and the time is now.

He sees at least two trends in his favor. First, there’s a consensus within the Chinese leadership and public opinion that the 2008 economic crisis has produced long-lasting devastating effects to the West: most countries in Europe are still struggling economically while the United States has experienced a very timid recovery. Since China emerged from the 2008 economic crisis relatively unscathed, many people, including Xi, believed that free market economics have reached their end and it’s time to adopt the Chinese-style authoritarian mercantile economic model. Thus, China should replace the United States to set a new economic order.

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Second, based on a misguided belief that the world is a better place when the United States gives up its power and authority in a global system established since World War II, President Obama has been ready and willing to acquiesce America’s leadership in international affairs in the last eight years. President Xi quickly sized up president Obama as a weak leader, and sought to expand China’s influence and challenge America wherever opportunities rise. Read the rest of this entry »


China’s Xi Calls for ‘Socialist Family Values’ in 2017 as Anti-Beijing Sentiment Grows

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Chinese President Xi Jinping made statements last month demanding a “new trend toward socialist family values” in China.

Frances Martel reports: The Chinese state news agency Xinhua is promoting statements by President Xi Jinping made last month demanding a “new trend toward socialist family values” in China as the Communist Party faces a 2017 teeming with new challenges from separatist groups, religious minorities, and even Maoists who reject Xi’s autocratic capitalist reforms.

Xi made the comments at a conference “to honor model families” in December, according to Xinhua, defining “socialist family values” as “love for the nation, family and one another, devotion to progress and kindness, and mutual growth and sharing.” His New Year’s Eve address appeared to promote more of the same, demanding the Chinese people “work harder” to aid the Communist Party’s progress both nationally and globally.

“As long as our 1.3 billion-plus people are pulled together for a common cause, as long as the Party stands together with the people and we roll up our sleeves to work harder, we will surely succeed in a Long March of our generation,” Xi reportedly said in his address.

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He made clear that the values he seeks to see Chinese families promote are indivisible from Communist Party edicts, reminding listeners that “law is virtue put down in words, and virtue is law borne in people’s hearts.”

Wu Zhihong Nation of Giant Infants

Xi reportedly urged “fostering a belief in law, the rule of law and rules, and guiding people to voluntarily assume their statutory duties, as well as responsibilities for society and family.”

[Check out Wu Zhihong’s bookThe Giant Baby Nation” (Chinese Edition) at Amazon.com]

The Chinese Communist Party propaganda outlet The People’s Daily reported that Chinese citizens online “responded enthusiastically to President Xi Jinping’s New Year’s address, equally impressed by the content and inspirational phrasing of the speech.”

The Chinese media outlets’ emphasis on family values are contrasted with Western-style popular culture on the pages of the Global Times, another English-language propaganda outlet. While China’s president has repeatedly dwelled on “socialist family values” in recent speeches, the Times has decried reality show participants and celebrity divorcees as indicative of a trend of immaturity among young Chinese people. Read the rest of this entry »


China Criticizes Abe’s Pearl Harbor Visit 

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BEIJING/SEOUL (Jiji Press) — China on Wednesday criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii for his lack of deep reflection on the country’s past.

Noting that Japan waged a war of aggression against China and other Asian countries, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a press conference, “Reconciliation between the inflicters and victims must and can only be based upon sincere reflection and apology from the inflicters.” This is the only way to realize “a genuine and lasting reconciliation,” she said. For victimized countries in Asia, “one sincere apology” is more important than “dozens of smart shows,” Hua said.

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The People’s Daily newspaper of the Communist Party of China said in its Wednesday edition that the Pearl Harbor visit is criticized both in Japan and the United States because Abe made the trip before apologizing to war victims in Asian countries that Japan invaded during the war.

Meanwhile, a South Korean Foreign Ministry official, touching on Abe’s pledge never to wage war again in the speech, said that Japan, based on a correct understanding of history, should strive further to promote reconciliation and cooperation with neighbors that fell victim to its wartime militarism. Read the rest of this entry »


China Responds to U.S. Election With Heavy Censorship

Commuters use smartphone

The reaction among the United States’ strongest allies in Asia — Japan and South Korea — was more severe, however, as local stock markets plunged.

Patrick Brzesk reports: As news of Donald Trump’s shocking presidential win was reverberating around the world Wednesday, media coverage in China was oddly scant — and not by accident.

“I think Trump is the tragedy of the American people. How did he win? It must be a scam. Now I think cats and dogs can be president!”

— Sina Weibo user Zhonghua Junlon

China’s censors had issued advance orders to media outlets to restrict coverage of the U.S. democratic contest. All websites, news outlets and TV networks were told not to provide any live coverage or broadcasts of the election and to avoid “excessive” reporting of the story, a source who was briefed on the official instructions told the South China Morning Post.

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“In Tokyo, and across the Japanese archipelago, the election also was a sensation. TV stations in Japan rapidly rejigged schedules Wednesday afternoon to continue coverage of the U.S. election as the reality of a Trump presidency became apparent, while the Tokyo stock market crashed as the yen soared against a weakening dollar.”

In response, coverage of Trump’s upset was carried only as a secondary story across the Chinese media landscape, with most outlets highlighting a meeting between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Vladimir Putin instead.

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China’s foreign ministry also stopped short of issuing congratulations to Trump in the immediate aftermath of the decision, instead stating: “China is closely following the U.S. presidential election, and expects to maintain healthy Sino-U.S. relations with the new government.” (Chinese President Xi Jinping was also making calls elsewhere: he rang outer space to congratulate the astronauts aboard China’s recently launched Shenzhou 11 spacecraft, wishing them “a victorious return.”)

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The press restrictions were part of Beijing’s usual strategy of limiting the Chinese public’s exposure to Western ideas and democracy. Instead, censors told Chinese media to report “in a timely manner” on any embarrassing scandals during the election and to criticize “in depth” any perceived political abuses.

“2016 looks like it may be a turning point in world history with first Brexit and now this. I’m hoping 2016 doesn’t go down as the beginning of the end.”

— A manager at a major Japanese entertainment company, who spoke on condition of anonymity

To that end, the People’s Daily ran an editorial on the eve of the election saying that the current cycle had “undeniably revealed the dark side of so-called democracy in the U.S.” The paper, which is the official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, described the presidential contest as dark, tasteless, chaotic and nothing more than a “meaningless farce.” A similar editorial controlled by Xinhua said the election was “an expression of all of the American political system’s flaws.”

As Trump’s victory began to circulate around Chinese social media late Wednesday (local time), the response was a mix of surprise, schadenfreude and amusement.

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

Sina Weibo user Zhonghua Junlong said of the result: “It shows that the U.S. government and democracy have weakened. And at the same times it provided our country with a prosperous opportunity — it will make China more powerful.”

[Read the full story here, at Hollywood Reporter]

A user named Fangsi de qingchun weighed in with a more democratic-leaning reaction: “I think Trump is the tragedy of the American people. How did he win? It must be a scam. Now I think cats and dogs can be president!”

A Pew Research poll conducted in October showed that Clinton was the slim favorite of most Chinese, but an SCMP poll published earlier this week suggested that Trump was viewed somewhat more favorably in China than anywhere else in Asia. Read the rest of this entry »


China Blocks Hong Kong Lawmakers in a Reminder of Who is In Charge

Cheng Chung-tai speaks to supporters in Hong Kong elections

Hong Kong is reminded that the freedoms it enjoys are ultimately at the whim of Beijing.

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” is an 18th Century trumpet call for free speech, one often repeated by parliamentarians around the world… but never in China.

The message from Beijing to its unruly territory 2,000km (1,350 miles) south is, by contrast, “we disapprove of what you say and we hereby decree that you have no right to say it”.

China has now spoken on the question of whether elected members of Hong Kong’s legislature can use that public platform to campaign for ideas offensive to China and the answer is a resounding no. In a unanimous decision by a panel of the Communist Party-controlled national parliament, Hong Kong has been reminded that the freedoms it enjoys are ultimately at the whim of Beijing.

Today’s “interpretation” of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution is one of the most significant interventions in Hong Kong’s legal system in two decades of Chinese rule. It is the first time China’s parliament, without the request of either the Hong Kong government or Court of Final Appeal, has interpreted the mini-constitution at a time when the issue is under active consideration in a Hong Kong court.

Newly elected lawmaker Yau Wai-ching displays a banner before taking oath at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China October 12, 2016.

Newly elected lawmaker Yau Wai-ching displays a banner before taking oath at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China October 12, 2016. Yau Wai-Ching had used her oath-taking attempts to insult China. – Reuters

Why didn’t China’s politicians wait till after a court ruling on whether two legislators might be allowed to retake their oaths? Li Fei, the chairman of the Basic Law Committee of China’s parliament, made the logic clear when he said the Chinese government “is determined to firmly confront the pro-independence forces without any ambiguity”.

The interpretation is a highly confrontational move which plunges Hong Kong into a new phase of its long running political and constitutional crisis. But Beijing’s move comes in response to an equally confrontational move from the other side.

[Read the full story here, at BBC News]

The two lawmakers, Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching, who used their swearing-in ceremony to insult China and talk of a “Hong Kong nation” should have known that a Chinese government so sensitive to questions of national pride and dignity would feel it had no choice but to act.

Legislative Councillors-elect Yau Wai-ching (L) and Sixtus Leung (R) are seen as thousands of people march through the streets of Hong Kong to protest against the Legislative Council oath-taking interpretation of the city's Basic Law, or mini-constitution, by the Chinese authorities in Beijing, Hong Kong, China, 6 November 2016

Ms Yau (left) and Sixtus Leung (right) have refused to pledge allegiance to Beijing

It was no surprise when China’s parliament said their words and actions had “posed a grave threat to national sovereignty and security”, with Li Fei adding: “The central government’s attitude is absolute. There will be no leniency.”

A price worth paying

The scope of Monday’s interpretation will raise inevitable questions about whether China is interpreting Hong Kong law, which is allowed, or re-writing it, which is not. And apart from disqualifying the two young legislators at the heart of the crisis, it will raise a raft of questions about the way in which some of the other newly elected young democracy activists took their oaths.

A man yells during pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong

The democracy activists could now capitalise on anger in Hong Kong – AFP

For example, does reciting the oath in slow motion or using eccentric intonation contravene the interpretation’s insistence on “genuine” sincerity and solemnity? Who will decide? And if Beijing doesn’t like the decision of a Hong Kong court, what will it do next? For that matter, where does Beijing’s intervention leave the ongoing review of the oath taking question in Hong Kong’s courts? Read the rest of this entry »


BABY BOOM: Rich Chinese Paying California’s Surrogates $200,000 to Have Their Babies

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Top fertility agencies scramble to meet foreign demand for the States’ surrogate moms as new wealth and the end of one-child laws bring baby seekers willing to spend $200,000.

Kalee Thompson reports: The first time Dianna Barindelli carried a baby that wasn’t her own was in 2012. “We were done having kids, but I still wanted to be pregnant,” says the Modesto, Calif., stay-at-home mom, whose own daughters are 6 and 9. Barindelli signed up with the Center for Surrogate Parenting in Encino, one of the most exclusive surrogacy agencies in the world. In 2014, she matched with a Chinese couple.

“If they can afford to, they’ll demand a California surrogate because they’ve heard they are the best. It’s a supply-and-demand issue and has raised the prices of surrogacy in California.”

— Sam Everingham, founder of nonprofit Families Through Surrogacy

Unlike many agencies, CSP first shows parent applications to the surrogates, rather than the other way around. “It’s little things that you’ll connect with people over,” says Barindelli, who was attracted to pictures of the couple’s extended travels and their traditional wedding photos.

[Read the full story here, at Hollywood Reporter]

The embryo transfer took place in late 2014. Barindelli emailed the mom weekly, sending updates and ultrasound pictures with WeChat, an app that offers instantaneous translation. The intended parents (IPs) planned to be there for the birth, but the baby boy arrived two weeks early, 24 hours before they arrived. Says Barindelli: “I texted and made sure [the mom] was OK with him staying in my room. I cleared everything with her. I didn’t want her to feel bad that she wasn’t there.”

Courtesy of Dianna BarindelliBarindelli currently is a surrogate for a Taiwanese couple: she is due to give birth Feb. 1, 2017.

“We’ve seen a surge. There’s a lot of money in China that’s being put into the second child.”

— Christene Anthony, who matches Chinese IPs with American gestational carriers

Barindelli, who used her surrogacy fees to set up a college fund for her girls, is pregnant again, this time with the baby, due Feb. 1, of a Taiwanese couple. She may not be done: Her first Chinese couple emailed her recently, soon after their son’s first birthday. They still have frozen embryos and hope that Barindelli, now 40, will carry their second child.

[Read the full text here, at Hollywood Reporter]

Commercial surrogacy is banned in most parts of the world, as well as in many U.S. states. Until recently, infertile couples, singles and gay would-be dads had a handful of options to turn to when it came to finding a surrogate, among them India, Thailand, Nepal and Mexico, where surrogacy services have cost a quarter of the $100,000 to $200,000 bill typical in the U.S. But in the past few years, those countries have started enforcing laws banning international surrogacy. Meanwhile, China — the world’s most populous country, with a growing wealthy elite and where some doctors believe infertility is more common than in the U.S. — lifted its decades-long one-child policy. The result is a soaring Chinese demand for U.S. surrogacy services, one that is flourishing particularly in California, with its culturally friendly enclaves, excellent physicians and favorable state laws that regard IPs as a baby’s legal parents even before birth, if proper court documents are filed. “We have more legal firepower in terms of the statue and case law than anywhere else,” says Lesa Slaughter of The Fertility Law Firm in Woodland Hills, whose own twins were born via California surrogate.

“We’ve seen a surge,” says Christene Anthony, who matches Chinese IPs with American gestational carriers for CSP, which has facilitated more than 2,300 births since 1980 and is responsible for helping Elton John, Elizabeth Banks, Angela Bassett and Mitt Romney’s son Tagg become parents. “There’s a lot of money in China that’s being put into the second child,” she adds, noting that it has become common for reproductive endocrinologists, fertility attorneys and surrogacy agencies to hire Mandarin-speaking staffers to cater to Chinese clients. Despite CSP’s Southern California location, 51 percent of its clients now are foreigners, up from 15 percent a decade ago. Rival agency Growing Generations (clients have included Sarah Jessica Parker and 30 Rock director Todd Holland) also sees half of its clients coming from overseas, as does Gifted Journeys, a boutique agency in Pasadena. At San Diego’s Expect Miracles Surrogacy, international clients account for 80 percent of IPs. And of foreigners participating in this permutation of California’s birth tourism, the number of Chinese IPs is growing the fastest, making up the most common single foreign nationality for many agencies right now. Read the rest of this entry »


BEAST MODE: China Debuts J-20 Stealth Jet in Show of Strength

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ZHUHAI, China (Reuters) –Tim Hepher and Brenda Goh report: China showed its Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter in public for the first time on Tuesday, opening the country’s biggest meeting of aircraft makers and buyers with a show of its military clout.

“It’s a change of tactics for the Chinese to publicly show off weapons that aren’t in full squadron service yet, and demonstrates a lot of confidence in the capability, and also a lot of pride.”

— Sam Roggeveen, a senior fellow at the Sydney-based Lowy Institute

Airshow China, in the southern city of Zhuhai, offers Beijing an opportunity to demonstrate its ambitions in civil aerospace and to underline its growing capability in defense. China is set to overtake the U.S. as the world’s top aviation market in the next decade.

Two J-20 jets, Zhuhai’s headline act, swept over dignitaries, hundreds of spectators and industry executives gathered at the show’s opening ceremony in a flypast that barely exceeded a minute, generating a deafening roar that was met with gasps and applause and set off car alarms in a parking lot.

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“I think we learned very little. We learned it is very loud. But we can’t tell what type of engine it has, or very much about the mobility. Most importantly, we didn’t learn much about its radar cross-section.”

— Greg Waldron, Asia Managing Editor of FlightGlobal

Experts say China has been refining designs for the J-20, first glimpsed by planespotters in 2010, in the hope of narrowing a military technology gap with the United States. President Xi Jinping has pushed to toughen the armed forces as China takes a more assertive stance in Asia, particularly in the South China and East China seas.

“It is clearly a big step forward in Chinese combat capability,” said Bradley Perrett of Aviation Week, a veteran China watcher.

State-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) was also bullish on China’s appetite for new civilian planes, estimating the market would need 6,865 new aircraft worth $930 billion over the next 20 years.

The COMAC forecast – similar to long-term outlooks from well-established rivals Boeing Co and Airbus Group – said China would make up almost a fifth of global demand for close to 40,000 planes over the next two decades. Read the rest of this entry »


Mark Zuckerberg’s Long March to China

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The Chinese government likes to control social media and what people do with it—but Facebook looks willing to launch in China anyway.

Emily Parker writes: For U.S. Internet businesses, China is the land of moral defeat. Many people hoped that Western technology companies would loosen China’s control over information. Instead, those companies have willingly participated in efforts to censor citizens’ speech. Yahoo gave Chinese authorities information about democracy activists, landing them in jail. Microsoft shut down the blog of prominent media-freedom activist Michael Anti. Google censored search results that were politically sensitive in China. In 2006, those three companies came before Congress and were accused by a subcommittee chairman of “sickening collaboration” with the Chinese government. Google shut down its mainland Chinese search engine in 2010, publicly complaining about censorship and cybersecurity.

“The number of Chinese Internet users has surged to some 700 million, and they represent a valuable untapped resource for American companies with saturated, highly competitive home markets. But the Communist Party’s attempts to control information have also grown more intense.”

Facebook has been blocked in China since 2009, and its Instagram photo-sharing service was blocked in 2014. I once thought that it would be disastrous or impossible for the social network to try a Chinese adventure of its own, and some China experts still believe that to be true. But a Facebook launch in China now looks probable.

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Facebook’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has signaled to Beijing that he’s willing to do what it takes to get into the country. People who know the company well think it will happen. “It’s not an if, it’s a when,” says Tim Sparapani, who was Facebook’s first director of public policy and is now principal at SPQR Strategies, a consulting firm. Facebook declined to comment for this article, but Zuckerberg said last year: “You can’t have a mission to want to connect everyone in the world and leave out the biggest country.”

[Read the full story here, at MIT – technologyreview.com]

A decade after Google’s hopeful but ill-fated entry into China, U.S. Internet companies may see the Chinese market as even more tantalizing—yet impenetrable. The number of Chinese Internet users has surged to some 700 million, and they represent a valuable untapped resource for American companies with saturated, highly competitive home markets. But the Communist Party’s attempts to control information have also grown more intense. In addition to the “Great Firewall” that blocks access to foreign websites, legions of human censors, many employed at Internet companies, police domestic blogs and social networks. And a U.S. company would now have to compete with China’s own Internet giants. WeChat, a messaging app from the behemoth Tencent, has hundreds of millions of users.

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Zuckerberg clearly thinks China is worth the trouble, even if that means leaving some “Western values” at the door. Earlier this year, he traveled to Beijing and had a high-profile meeting with China’s propaganda chief, Liu Yunshan. Chinese state media reported that Facebook’s founder praised China’s Internet progress and pledged to work with the government to create a better cyberspace. Liu highlighted the notion of Internet governance “with Chinese characteristics.” The translation was clear: a Chinese version of Facebook would definitely be censored. This year’s trip was something of a sequel. In 2014, he hosted Lu Wei, minister of the Cyberspace Administration of China, at Facebook’s offices. President Xi Jinping’s book The Governance of China just happened to be on ­Zuckerberg’s desk.

[Read the full text here, at MIT – technologyreview.com]

This courtship hasn’t been without some awkward moments. When ­Zuckerberg posted a photo of himself cheerfully jogging through the polluted haze of Tiananmen Squarethis year, he was mocked on Chinese social media. But overall he has made the right moves, says Cheng Li, director of the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution. “Chinese leaders pay a lot of attention to personal relationships,” he says. “They think Mark ­Zuckerberg is a friend of China. He’s successful. He’s very China-friendly. He has a Chinese wife. He speaks Chinese. So what else do you want?”

At your service

Facebook will still have to overcome Beijing’s suspicions that American Internet companies could destabilize the Communist Party’s rule. Media outlets that described the Arab Spring as the “Facebook Revolution” didn’t do the company any favors. And documents leaked by the former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden fueled Chinese suspicions that American technology companies had “back doors” for U.S. government surveillance. Read the rest of this entry »


One-Third of Millennials Believe That More People Were Killed Under George W. Bush than Under Joseph Stalin

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Results from a new survey are not pretty. 

Jamie Gregora reports: The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation released its first “Annual Report on U.S. Attitudes Towards Socialism” Monday. The survey showed a distinct generation gap regarding beliefs about socialism and communism between older and younger Americans. For example, 80 percent of baby boomers and 91 percent of elderly Americans believe that communism was and still is a problem in the world today, while just 55 percent of millennials say the same.

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[Just how many people did Joseph Stalin kill?]

Just 37 percent of millennials had a “very unfavorable” view of communism, compared to 57 percent of Americans overall. Close to half (45 percent) of Americans aged 16 to 20 said they would vote for a socialist, and 21 percent would vote for a communist.

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[Mass killings under Communist regimes]

[Katyn Forest Massacre – Soviet Union –  Joseph Stalin]

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[ALSO SEE – 40 years after death, Mao’s mixed legacy looms over China]

From left: LM Kaganovich, Chairman Mao Tse-tung, NA Bulganin, Joseph Stalin, Walter Ulbricht, J cedenbal, NS Khrushchev and I Koplenig (Getty)

[MORE – The Russian Communist Party Is Rebranding Itself To Attract Young Supporters]

When asked their opinion of capitalism, 64 percent of Americans over the age of 65 said they viewed it favorably, compared to just 42 percent of millennials.

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[Read the full text here, at dailysignal.com]

The survey also revealed a general lack of historical knowledge, especially among young adults. According to the report, one-third (32 percent) of millennials believed that more people were killed under George W. Bush than under Joseph Stalin. Read the rest of this entry »


Helen Raleigh: Countries Like China Memory Hole Socialism’s Atrocities

Daily Life in China in the 1970s (43)

Chairman Mao inflicted human suffering in one country equivalent to the entirety of World War II. Not that socialism will allow its victims any remembrance.

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I was born in China, and finished my undergraduate education before coming to the United States to pursue a master’s degree. So I was typical of the output of China’s government-sanctioned education system. When I Chinese leader Xi Jinpingfirst came to the United States, although I had some doubts here and there about certain historical events I had been taught in China, I spent very little time questioning them. Instead, I focused on working hard to better myself economically, like many other immigrants have.

[Read the full text of ‘s article here, at thefederalist.com]

My parents rarely mentioned to me anything that had happened in the past. One thing they did tell me was that our family’ genealogy book, which covered many generations of our clan, was destroyed in China’s Cultural Revolution. As a writer, I always wanted to write a family history book. So when my parents turned 70 several years ago, I realized I’d better get my parents talking about the past.

What My Parents Remembered

What I learned from my parents was shockingly different from what I had been taught in China. Allow me to present two historical events to illustrate my point.

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The first historical event is the “land reform.” The Chinese Communist Party pushed for nationwide “land reform” from 1950 to 1953. In our high school history book, there were only a few sentences about land reform. The movement was depicted as a popular and necessary measure to distribute land back to poor Chinese peasants, who were supposed to be the rightful owner of the land.

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Our Chinese literature class reinforced this notion. One of the required readings was an excerpt from a novel titled “Hurricane” (Baofeng Zhouyu, or 暴风骤雨) by a Chinese novelist, Zhou Libo. The novel supposedly presented the most realistic picture of land reform. It showed how the righteous landless peasants fought and won land reform despite sabotage by the evil landowners.

[Read the full story here, at thefederalist.com]

I especially remember the excerpt we were required to memorize. It illustrated what a joyful event it was armies took land and farm animals from land owners and redistributed them to poor peasants. This novel was so popular in China that it was later adapted into a movie and stage play. Read the rest of this entry »


The Return of Mao: a New Threat to China’s Politics

Archive/Getty Images

The dictator is enjoying a surge of popularity. But the rise of this neo-Maoist movement could upend China’s stability.

 writes: A heavy pall of pollution hangs over Tiananmen Square and from a distance the giant portrait of Mao Zedong above the entrance to the Forbidden City looks a little smudged. It is 8am and the temperature in central Beijing is already approaching 30C.

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But the heat and smog are no deterrent to the thousands of people waiting in hour-long queues to pay respects to the preserved body of the “great helmsman”. Since his death 40 years ago, Chairman Mao’s corpse — or, more likely, a wax replica — has been on display in a purpose-built mausoleum in the geographic and figurative heart of the Chinese capital. Well over 200 million people have visited.

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In the west, Mao is understood chiefly as China’s “Red Emperor” — a vicious dictator who fostered an extreme personality cult, launched the disastrous Cultural Revolution and masterminded a “Great Leap Forward” that resulted in the worst famine in history. Experts estimate that Mao was responsible for between 40 million and 70 million deaths in peacetime — more than Hitler and Stalin combined.

[Read the full text here, at FT.com]

However, while Hitler, Stalin and most of the other totalitarian dictators of the 20th century were repudiated after their deaths, Mao remains a central figure in modern China. The Communist party he helped found in 1921 and the authoritarian Leninist political system he established in 1949 still run the country. “Mao Zedong Thought” is enshrined in the party’s constitution and, since 1999, his face has adorned most banknotes (something he refused to allow during his lifetime).

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But this whitewashing of Mao’s legacy is a risky strategy. Thanks to the party’s tight control over education, media and all public discourse, most people in China know very little of Mao’s terrible mistakes. Indeed, the dictator is more popular today than at any time since his death. Last year nearly 17 million people made pilgrimages to his home town — Shaoshan — in rural central China. In the mid-1980s, barely 60,000 undertook the journey.

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China has also seen the rise of a vocal political movement of “neo-Maoists” — militant leftists who espouse many of the utopian egalitarian ideas that China’s current leaders have largely abandoned. These neo-Maoists are by definition an underground movement, which makes it very difficult to estimate their numbers, but public petitions sympathetic to their cause have garnered tens of thousands of signatures in recent years.

[Read the full story here, at FT.com]

Several experts believe a neo-Maoist candidate would probably win a general election in China today, should free elections ever be allowed. This means the movement could enjoy the sympathy of hundreds of millions of China’s 1.4 billion people. As such, it poses one of the biggest threats facing the authoritarian system in the world’s most populous nation today.

Mao in modern China

“Speed up comrades, walk forward,” a young man in a clean white shirt with a bullhorn yells at the tourists lined up in Tiananmen Square, many of whom bow three times before a large Mao statue as they enter the mausoleum. Visitors are not allowed to take photos and tall paramilitary officers shoo people along, ensuring nobody gets more than a quick glimpse of the figure wrapped in the hammer and sickle flag and laid out in a crystal coffin behind a glass wall. Just a kilometre away is the heavily guarded compound where China’s current leaders work and live.

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“Chairman Mao was a truly great man but this is not the country he dreamt of, this is not real communism.”

— University lecturer interviewed in Tiananmen Square

Many of the people visiting Mao’s remains have been left behind by China’s economic boom in recent decades. They see Mao as a symbol of a simpler, fairer society — a time when everyone was poorer but at least they were equally poor. Those who have studied the resurgence in Mao’s popularity in China see it as part of a broader global phenomenon that encompasses the appeal of Donald Trump in the US, Brexit in the UK and populist politicians on the left and right in Europe. At a time of sharp dislocation and intense resentment towards elites, people in many countries are attracted by nostalgia and tradition. For ordinary people in China, that means Mao and the classless society he envisioned. Read the rest of this entry »


Two Years After the Occupy Protests, Hong Kong’s Youth Made Big Gains in a Record-Breaking Election 

At least six seats have gone to new politicians allied with Occupy and other anti-Beijing protests. Some replaced established pro-democratic politicians, who have been fighting for democracy for three decades in Hong Kong. Of the 70 seats, 55 have been announced, with 22 going to pro-democracy candidates.

Isabella Steger reports: Voters in Hong Kong showed they’re willing to put their future in the hands of politicians as young as 23, casting aside some of the most well known faces in local politics in the process.

Hong Kongers turned up in record numbers for the polls on Sunday (Sept. 4) to vote for members of the new Legislative Council. The council has long been controlled by pro-Beijing politicians, but holding on to veto power with one third of the seats is necessary for the opposition to push back against proposed legislation that could tighten the Chinese Communist Party’s over Hong Kong.

As the final results continued to roll in on Monday afternoon—counting was delayed because long queues forced polling stations to close well after the cut-off time—the after-effects of 2014’s Occupy protests, or Umbrella Movement, could already be viscerally felt.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Umbrella Movement Fights Back

The run-up to the Sept. 4 election for Legislative Council is getting tense, and the governments of both Hong Kongand Beijing are watching with keen interest. 

For the first time, a crop of fresh-faced candidates who cut their political teeth during the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement in 2014 are hoping to bring to the lawmaking body their battle to emancipate Hong Kong from Beijing’s increasingly authoritarian control.The activists, most of whom are in their 20s, no longer believe in the promises of the “one country, two systems” principle set out in the Basic Law. Even after paralyzing major traffic hubs in the city for 79 days in 2014, they failed to obtain any concession to democratize the rules by which the head of Hong Kong’s government, the chief executive, is nominated and elected. They concluded from the experience that democracy is impossible in Hong Kong as long as the territory remains under Chinese sovereignty. Read the rest of this entry »


China’s Nationalist Fervor & Fear-Mongering Paranoid Xenophobic Bloodthirsty Racist West-Bashing Reaches Dangerous New Levels

This kind of propaganda is highly effective and gives licence to ordinary people to indulge their most primitive prejudices. By convincing its people that many of China’s ills are the work of foreign spies and conspiracies, Beijing could eventually be forced to hit back against such perceived enemies in order to placate popular outrage. 

Across much of the world, fear-mongering and xenophobia are creeping into public and political discourse.

In liberal democracies with traditions of free speech, vociferous denunciations of these attitudes can act as a counterweight. But in authoritarian countries where alternative narratives are forbidden, official attempts to demonise foreigners and “others” can be especially dangerous. In the past week, the Chinese government has launched several viral online videos that blame “western hostile forces” for a host of ills and supposed conspiracies within China.

U.S. Navy leadership and senior officers from the Chinese People's Liberation Army (Navy) meet for lunch aboard the Chinese destroyer Harbin (DDG 112) marking the conclusion of a U.S.-China counter piracy exercise between Harbin and the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87). Mason is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Gary M. Keen/Released)

“In the past, most foreigners in China enjoyed a certain level of unstated protection and privilege. In business and in everyday life ‘foreign friends’ were welcomed and often treated with kid gloves by the authorities. Some of them undoubtedly took advantage of this to flout the rules or behave badly without fear of retribution.”

The videos are crude but exceptionally powerful in their simplicity and emotional appeal. One video promoted by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate and Communist Youth League, two of the most powerful state bodies, begins with heartbreaking scenes of orphans and victims of the wars in Iraq and Syria, and then jumps to an assertion that the west, led by the US, is trying to subject China to the same fate.

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“Today, that informal immunity seems to have vanished. In its place are hints of a backlash that many long-term foreign residents will tell you can be very ugly, ranging from casual discrimination and racial slurs, to physical altercations that take on a racist dimension.”

“Under the banner of ‘democracy, freedom and rule of law’ western forces are constantly trying to create societal contradictions in order to overthrow the [Chinese] government,” the subtitles read over pictures of democracy protesters in Hong Kong and President Barack Obama meeting the Dalai Lama.

[Read the full story here, at FT.com]

According to the video, western plots and the “dark shadow of the Stars and Stripes” are also to blame for everything from attacks on Chinese peacekeepers in Africa, to farmers’ riots in China’s hinterland, to the Tibetan independence movement. The effect is heightened by ominous music and juxtaposition of chaos elsewhere with heroic images of Chinese soldiers and weaponry.

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 “In the past week, the Chinese government has launched several viral online videos that blame ‘western hostile forces’ for a host of ills and supposed conspiracies within China. The videos are crude but exceptionally powerful in their simplicity and emotional appeal.”

In some ways this is a mirror of the populist, jingoistic tilts happening elsewhere in the world. While not a direct reaction to the assertive Trumpism emanating from the US or the rise of rightwing nationalism in Europe, some of the same collective animus is taking hold in China, partly at the instigation of the ruling Communist party.

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“According to the video, western plots and the ‘dark shadow of the Stars and Stripes’ are also to blame for everything from attacks on Chinese peacekeepers in Africa, to farmers’ riots in China’s hinterland, to the Tibetan independence movement.

Many of those propagating this message are the shallowest of nationalists — the kind of party apparatchiks who are diversifying their (often ill-gotten) assets abroad as fast as they can and sending their children to study in Australia, the US, Canada or the UK.

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“The effect is heightened by ominous music and juxtaposition of chaos elsewhere with heroic images of Chinese soldiers and weaponry.”

Indeed, one of the main producers of the video on western plots is a 29-year-old PhD student from China now living in Canberra, Australia. Meanwhile, the party has called for the rejection of western values and concepts in favour of Marxism — an ideology named after a German living in London and refracted into China via Moscow. Read the rest of this entry »


China is in the Midst of Harshest Crackdown on Human Rights and Civil Society in Decades

Since Xi Jinping came came to power nearly four years ago, hundreds of activists, lawyers, writers, publishers and employees of nongovernmental groups have been rounded up. Many more have been threatened and intimidated. Internet news sites have been ordered to stop publishing reports from sources that aren’t sanctioned by the state.

Julie Making reports: For five days last week, the confessions poured forth from Chinese human rights activists and attorneys rounded up last summer and held incommunicado for a year. Four men, facing trial for subversion, cowered before a court where they were represented by lawyers they didn’t choose.

A fifth person, knowing her husband was detained and teenage son under surveillance, declared her wrongs in a videotaped interview.

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“As an old timer who’s been studying China since the Mao era, I have to say it’s the worst I’ve seen since then. It’s very discouraging.”

— Susan L. Shirk, chair of the 21st Century China Program at UC San Diego

China is in the midst of what many overseas scholars say is its harshest crackdown on human rights and civil society in decades. Since Xi Jinping came came to power nearly four years ago, hundreds of activists, lawyers, writers, publishers and employees of nongovernmental groups have been rounded up. Many more have been threatened and intimidated. Internet news sites have been ordered to stop publishing reports from sources that aren’t sanctioned by the state.

President Xi Jinping, who also serves as chairman of the Central Military Commission, shakes hands with PLA division commanders in Shandong province last year. Photo: Xinhua

“I want to remind everybody to wipe their eyes and clearly see the ugly faces of hostile forces overseas. Never be fooled by their ideas of ‘democracy,’ ‘human rights’ and ‘benefiting the public.’”

— Zhai Yasmin, one of the defendants

Even as China has been touting its efforts to boost the “rule of law,” some critics of the government have vanished under mysterious circumstances in places like Thailand and Hong Kong, only to surface months later in Chinese custody, claiming rather unbelievably they had turned themselves in voluntarily. Many of those detained have appeared on state-run TV confessing to crimes before they have had a day in court.

Archive/Getty Images

Archive/Getty Images

“Xi likes to underscore his status as the new Mao Tse-tung by not giving a damn about what the major Western leaders, authors or media are saying about China.”

“As an old timer who’s been studying China since the Mao era, I have to say it’s the worst I’ve seen since then,” said Susan L. Shirk, chair of the 21st Century China Program at UC San Diego. “It’s very discouraging.”

[Read the full story here, at LA Times]

The activists and lawyer prosecuted last week confessed to having illegally organized protests and drawn attention to sensitive cases at the behest of “foreign forces” in order to “smear the [Communist] party and attack the Chinese government.” They had erred in accepting interviews with international journalists, they added, and traveled abroad to participate in interfaith conferences and law seminars infiltrated by separatists and funded by enemies of China. Read the rest of this entry »


Rendezvous at Beidaihe: Never Underestimate the Power of Chinese Beach Towns

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China leadership gathers in Beidaihe for secret conclave.

Beijing watchers will closely monitor comments that trickle out over time after the meeting this year to discern what may have been discussed there. Xi is closing in on the last year of a five-year term that ends in October 2017.

Seems Mody reports: A closed-door meeting in a resort town on the Bohai Sea may be where China‘s future leadership begins to take shape, at a time when observers say there’s tension at the top in Beijing.

“We will be looking for signs that the successors to Xi and Li have been chosen, as this time 10 years ago it was clear that Xi and Li would come to power after five years.”

President Xi Jinping is said to be hosting the very highest echelon of China’s Communist Party this week in Beidaihe. No hard decisions on leadership are expected to come immediately from the annual meeting, but this year’s conclave is expected to initiate those conversations among top officials.

[Read the full story here, at cnbc.com]

The precise whereabouts of the meeting are not disclosed, but sources close to CNBC said the annual meeting typically takes places in four to five villas nestled in Beidaihe, a coastal town.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to a message left by CNBC.

Beijing watchers will closely monitor comments that trickle out over time after the meeting this year to discern what may have been discussed there. Xi is closing in on the last year of a five-year term that ends in October 2017. It’s for that reason that experts say politics and leadership changes will likely be on the agenda. Read the rest of this entry »


China Sentences Human-Rights Lawyer to 7 Years for Subversion 

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Julie Making reports: A prominent Chinese lawyer who had taken on sensitive, high-profile cases involving activists and victims of a tainted infant formula scandal was sentenced Thursday to seven years in prison on charges of subversion.

“This wave of trials against lawyers and activists are a political charade. Their fate was sealed before they stepped into the courtroom and there was no chance that they would ever receive a fair trial.”

Zhou Shifeng, a human-rights lawyer and director of the Beijing Fengrui Law firm, was arrested in July 2015 in a wide-reaching crackdown that saw hundreds of people detained.

“The Chinese authorities appear intent on silencing anyone who raises legitimate questions about human rights and uses the legal system to seek redress.”

State-run media accused him of operating a “criminal syndicate” that masterminded serious illegal activities to incite “social disorder” all in the name of making money.

Authorities accused Zhou of drawing unwarranted amounts of public attention to  “sensitive cases” by publishing information about them online and encouraging people to appear outside courthouses where trials of such cases were being held.

Fengrui gained a reputation as a firm that would take on the most difficult, and from the government’s perspective, nettlesome cases. Outspoken artist Ai Weiwei turned to the firm when he was slapped with a tax evasion case; the firm also represented Ilham Tohti, a scholar from the Uighur ethnic minority who was accused of separatism and sentenced to life in prison in 2014. And when contaminated baby formula sickened thousands and led to multiple deaths in 2008, Fengrui represented families seeking redress. Read the rest of this entry »


Decapitated Churches in China’s Christian Heartland 

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Christianity is Stigmatized, Feared, and Marginalized, in China as well as in the United States, because the Idea that Rights are God-Given Undermines Government Authority.

SHUITOU, China — Ian Johnson reports: Along the valleys and mountains hugging the East China Sea, a Chinese government campaign to remove crosses from church spires has left the countryside looking as if a typhoon had raged down the coast, decapitating buildings at random.

In the town of Shuitou, workers used blowtorches to cut a 10-foot-high cross off the 120-foot steeple of the Salvation Church. It now lies in the churchyard, wrapped in a red shroud.

About 10 miles to the east, in Mabu township, riot police officers blocked parishioners from entering the grounds of the Dachang Church while workers erected scaffolding and sawed off the cross. In the nearby villages of Ximei, Aojiang, Shanmen and Tengqiao, crosses now lie toppled on rooftops or in yards, or buried like corpses.

On a four-day journey through this lush swath of China’s Zhejiang Province, I spoke with residents who described in new detail the breathtaking scale of an effort to remove Christianity’s most potent symbol from public view. Over the past two years, officials and residents said, the authorities have torn down crosses from 1,200 to 1,700 churches, sometimes after violent clashes with worshipers trying to stop them.

A Sunday service at a state-sanctioned church in Wenzhou in 2014. There are an estimated 60 million Christians in China. Credit Sim Chi Yin for The New York Times

A Sunday service at a state-sanctioned church in Wenzhou in 2014. There are an estimated 60 million Christians in China. Credit Sim Chi Yin for The New York Times

“It’s been very difficult to deal with,” said one church elder in Shuitou, who like others asked for anonymity in fear of retaliation by the authorities. “We can only get on our knees and pray.”

The campaign has been limited to Zhejiang Province, home to one of China’s largest and most vibrant Christian populations. But people familiar with the government’s deliberations say the removal of crosses here has set the stage for a new, nationwide effort to more strictly regulate spiritual life in China, reflecting the tighter control of society favored by President Xi Jinping.

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

In a major speech on religious policy last month, Mr. Xi urged the ruling Communist Party to “resolutely guard against overseas infiltrations via religious means,” and he warned that religions in China must “Sinicize,” or become Chinese. The instructions reflect the government’s longstanding fear that Christianity could undermine the party’s authority. Many human rights lawyers in China are Christians, and many dissidents have said they are influenced by the idea that rights are God-given.

In recent decades, the party had tolerated a religious renaissance in China, allowing most Chinese to worship as they chose and even encouraging the construction of churches, mosques and temples, despite regular crackdowns on unregistered congregations and banned spiritual groups such as Falun Gong.

Hundreds of millions of people have embraced the nation’s major faiths: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and Christianity. There are now about 60 million Christians in China. Many attend churches registered with the government, but at least half worship in unregistered churches, often with local authorities looking the other way. Read the rest of this entry »


A Subversive Message in Hong Kong Goes Up in Lights 

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The city has gone to great lengths to contain protests during Mr. Zhang’s visit, but pro-democracy messages have slipped through.

BEIJING — Jason Lam reports: For more than a minute on Tuesday night, nine-digit numbers were displayed across the facade of Hong Kong’s tallest skyscraper, the International Commerce Center. Towering above Victoria Harbor, the glowing white digits blinked against the night sky: 979,012,493… 979,012,492… 979,012,491…

“Due to the high level of security, there’s almost no channel for the Hong Kong people to voice and protest.”

The seemingly innocuous numbers contained a subversive statement. The animation is a countdown of the seconds until when the “one country, two systems” framework — a guarantee that Hong Kong, a former British colony, would keep its civil liberties and a high degree of autonomy for 50 years after its return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 — is set to expire.

[Watch in Times Video »]

“We hope to deliver this work to illustrate the biggest anxiety of the Hong Kong people,” Sampson Wong, who created the animation with the artist Jason Lam, said before the lights first went up.

“Most of the animations shown on the I.C.C. are ad-like, meaningless videos. We wanted to show something relevant to the social situation of Hong Kong.”

–Sampson Wong

The artists planned the display to coincide with a three-day visit to Hong Kong by Zhang Dejiang, a member of China’s governing Politburo Standing Committee, which began on Tuesday. Mr. Zhang is the highest-ranking official from mainland China to visit Hong Kong since the pro-democracy demonstrations in 2014 known as the Umbrella Movement.

Zhang Dejiang

Zhang Dejiang

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

The city has gone to great lengths to contain protests during Mr. Zhang’s visit, but pro-democracy messages have slipped through. At least seven members of the League of Social Democrats party were arrested on Tuesday in connection with at least two banners appearing in public — one on a hillside, the other along the route taken by Mr. Zhang’s motorcade — reading “I Want Genuine Universal Suffrage” and “End Chinese Communist Party Dictatorship.”

“Due to the high level of security, there’s almost no channel for the Hong Kong people to voice and protest,” Mr. Wong said. Read the rest of this entry »


It’s Time To Do Something About China’s Internet Censorship

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Just last week, Beijing further tightened the screws on US companies when it imposed a ban on Apple’s online book and film services. The order came as part of a broader set of regulations, introduced in March, which established strict curbs on all online publishing.

Claude Barfield writes: For the first time this year, the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR’s) “National Trade Estimate Report” took note of China’s Great Firewall. Granted, it was with this tame statement: “China’s filtering of cross-border Internet traffic has posed a significant burden to foreign suppliers.” The report did not indicate what steps, if any, the US plans to take against the People’s Republic of China’s heavy-handed and economically damaging censorship regime. But it is high time for the US, possibly in conjunction with other major trading partners, to test the legality of China’s sweeping Internet censorship system.

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The nature of Chinese censorship

Chinese online censorship operations are not new, and they have been well-documented for over a decade. But the situation has grown worse since President Xi Jinping took office in 2012. Today, the USTR reports that eight of the 25 most trafficked websites worldwide are currently blocked by the Chinese government. Especially targeted are popular search engines such as Google, as well as user-generated content platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. Sometimes, the blockade is permanent — Google formally withdrew from China in 2010 — but more often it is intermittent and random, as has occurred with increasing frequency with Gmail and Hotmail. The New York Times has been banned since 2012, and recently (as a result of reporting on the misdeeds of President Xi’s relatives) the Economist and Time magazine have also secured spots on the honored block list. Just last week, Beijing further tightened the screws on US companies when it imposed a ban on Apple’s online book and film services. The order came as part of a broader set of regulations, introduced in March, which established strict curbs on all online publishing.

censorship

In many cases, the filters and blocks carry with them a strong whiff of industrial policy. The now-giant Chinese firm Baidu received a huge boost when Google was forced to withdraw from the Chinese market (Baidu stock shot up 16 percent the day Google announced its withdrawal). Sina’s Weibo and Tencent’s QQ are direct competitors to popular blocked websites such as Twitter and Facebook. Read the rest of this entry »


Progressive Activists in USA Inspired by Sweeping Action as China Tears Down Thousands of Crucifixes in Campaign to ‘Regulate Excessive Religious Sites’

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China’s leadership launched the crusade to eradicate Christianity almost two years ago. 

Lizzie Stromme reports: More than two thousand crosses have now been forcefully removed from churches as part of a government campaign to regulate “excessive religious sites”.The nation’s leadership launched the crusade to eradicate Christianity in the coastal province of Zhejiang almost two years ago.

“Christian charity China Aid confirmed just before Easter that more than 2000 crosses had now been demolished by the government as part of their ‘Three Rectifications and One Demolition” campaign.'”

Several members of the public have since been arrested for attempting to halt the government’s crude attempt to suppress the Christian faith.

In this photo taken July 15, 2014, Pastor Tao Chongyin, left, speaks with church member Fan Liang'an in front of the Wuxi Christian Church with the words "Church of Jesus" in red, in Longwan, Wenzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang province. Across Zhejiang province, which hugs China’s rocky southeastern coast, authorities have toppled, or threatened to topple, crosses at more than 130 churches. “I won’t let them take down the cross even if it means they would shoot me dead,” said Fan Liang’an, 73, whose grandfather helped build the church in 1924. (AP Photo/Didi Tang)

In this photo taken July 15, 2014, Pastor Tao Chongyin, left, speaks with church member Fan Liang’an in front of the Wuxi Christian Church with the words “Church of Jesus” in red, in Longwan, Wenzhou in eastern China’s Zhejiang province. Across Zhejiang province, which hugs China’s rocky southeastern coast, authorities have toppled, or threatened to topple, crosses at more than 130 churches. “I won’t let them take down the cross even if it means they would shoot me dead,” said Fan Liang’an, 73, whose grandfather helped build the church in 1924. (AP Photo/Didi Tang)

“It also claimed that since the beginnning of 2016 to early March, 49 Churches had been destroyed in the rampage to abolish Christianity.”

Among the arrested was prominent human rights lawyer Zhang Kai, who was detained after he mounted a legal campaign to challenge the removal of the crosses.

Mr Kai was detained for six months before he was “forced” to appear on the State channel to “confess” his
crimes against the Chinese governement by supporting the anti-establishment protest of the demolition of crucifixes.

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Local Christian leaders condemned the forced confession from the lawyer, who also represented a group Christians who were detained for suspected financial crimes last year after they protested at the demolation of crosses, in a public letter.

“There are concerns that this campain to curtail the visable Christian precens in the province could gather momentum.”

— Chief executive of Release international, Paul Robinson

Christian charity China Aid confirmed just before Easter that more than 2000 crosses had now been demolished by the government as part of their “Three Rectifications and One Demolition” campaign. Read the rest of this entry »


Beijing’s War on Rights Lawyers and Activists Continues

chinese-protests-WSJ

Stanley Lubmanlubman_a_20091028220718 writesA trio of recent repressive actions by the Chinese party-state represents a disturbing three-pronged attack that treats legality as an unnecessary burden on governance over society, and illustrates how far China is willing to go to snuff out dissent.

The actions include the arrest of seven lawyers accused of “subversion” and four others charged with lesser offenses; the televised “confession” of a China-based Swedish citizen who worked for a rights NGO and has been charged with “endangering state security;” and the disappearance of five Hong Kong booksellers and publishers One reemerged on CCTV to confess to a prior crime years earlier, and a second has written to his wife from Shenzhen to say that he has been “assisting in an investigation.”

Arrests for “subversion of state power”

The lawyers who have been arrested have all been in the forefront of defending controversial activists. Seven are accused of “subversion of state power,” an offense that has been on the books since 1997 but infrequently used. More commonly, activists such as Pu Zhiqiang have been convicted for the lesser charges of “inciting ethnic hatred” and “picking quarrels.” (Pu received a three-year sentence that was simultaneously suspended for the same length of time; however, because of his 51p37hYVRlL._SL250_conviction, Pu is barred from practicing law.) Conviction for subversion can lead to a sentence of anywhere from three years to life in prison.

[Order Stanley Lubman’s bookBird in a Cage: Legal Reform in China after Mao” from Amazon.com]

Three of the other lawyers were charged with the lesser offense of “inciting subversion against state power” which, according to a recent posting by Chinese Human Rights Defenders, is used against individuals who “express criticism of the government” and is punishable by a sentence of up to five years. One other person, a paralegal, has been charged with “assisting in destruction of evidence; other lawyers have been detained 417gpDdlxrL._SL250_incommunicado or forcibly disappeared for at least six months.

[Order Stanley Lubman’s book “The Evolution of Law Reform in China: An Uncertain Path” from Amazon.com]

The arrests raise the severity of the charges by aiming at speech related to “subversion” — rather than acts. Foreign experts are dismayed; Eva Pils (Kings College London) comments that the situation “is basically about as serious as it gets for human rights advocacy.”

The arrest of the human rights lawyers is a continuation of the crackdown that exploded in July, but the rise of the accusation of “subversion” raises the odds of harsher punishment.

Arrest and televised “confession” of Swedish citizen affiliated with a human rights NGO

A Swedish man in his 30s, Peter Dahlin, a co-founder of the Chinese Urgent Action Working Group (China Action) that organizes training programs for human rights defenders, was detained in early January, on a charge of “endangering state security.” On Wednesday, he was paraded on China Central Television and shown admitting to have broken Chinese laws, in a televised “confession” that has been denounced by rights advocates as coerced.

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

According to a statement from China Action, the NGO focuses on land law and administrative law and trains non-lawyers to provide pro-bono legal aid to victims of rights violations. Dahlin is in need of daily medication due to affliction by a rare disease; Chinese state media reports say he is receiving it, but no other information has been available. China’s Foreign Ministry says it is granting Swedish consular officials access to him, although no information has been available on his whereabouts. Read the rest of this entry »


Another Chinese Billionaire Goes Missing

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The billionaire founder of Metersbonwe, one of China’s best-known fashion brands, has gone missing, the latest in a series of Chinese business people and financiers apparently embroiled in the country’s anti-corruption campaign.

“The company said in a second statement on Thursday night that it was unable to reach Mr Zhou or the secretary of the board, Tu Ke. The statement gave no further details.”

Metersbonwe suspended trading in its shares on the Shenzhen stock exchange on Thursday while the company said it was investigating reports in the Chinese media that Zhou Chengjian, its chairman, had been picked up by police.

“Mr Zhou is the latest high-profile private sector businessman believed to have been caught up in probes, and his disappearance follows the detention last month of Guo Guangchang of the conglomerate Fosun, which owns Club Med.”

The company is a household name on the Chinese high street and Mr Zhou was China’s 65th-richest man last year, according to the Hurun Rich list, with a fortune of Rmb26.5bn ($4.01bn).

The company said in a second statement on Thursday night that it was unable to reach Mr Zhou or the secretary of the board, Tu Ke. The statement gave no further details.

[Read the full story here, at FT.com]

Mr Zhou is the latest high-profile private sector businessman believed to have been caught up in probes, and his disappearance follows the detention last month of Guo Guangchang of the conglomerate Fosun, which owns Club Med. Read the rest of this entry »


Christians in China Feel Full Force of Authorities’ Repression

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 Emily Rauhala reports: Pastor Su Tianfu slides into the back seat and tells the driver to hit it.

He looks over his shoulder: “Is there anybody following us?”

It is days before Christmas, but instead of working on his sermon, Su is giving his tail the slip.

The slight and soft-spoken Protestant preacher is no stranger to surveillance. Su has worked for years in China’s unregistered “house churches,” and he said he has been interrogated more times than he can count.

But even Su is surprised by what has happened in Guiyang this month: a crackdown that has led to the shuttering of the thriving Living Stone Church, the detention of a pastor on charges of “possessing state secrets” and the shadowing of dozens of churchgoers by police.

A local government directive leaked to China Aid, a Texas-based Christian group, and reviewed by The Washington Post advises local Communist Party cadres that shutting down the church is necessary to “maintain social stability”— a catchall phrase often used to justify sweeping clampdowns.

The Dec. 9 raid on the church in a relatively sleepy provincial capital is conspicuous because of the timing — about two weeks before Christmas — and because the government’s tactics were revealed.

[Read the full story here, at The Washington Post]

But it also speaks to a broader pattern of religious repression that is playing out beyond China’s mountainous southwest, as the officially atheist Communist Party struggles to control the spread of religion amid a broader push to thwart dissent.

“The overall environment in the past few years has been harsh,” said Yang Fenggang, director of Purdue University’s Center on Religion and Chinese Society. “There’s a tightened control over civil society in general, including churches.”

Unlike in many parts of the West, Christianity is thriving in China.

In this photo taken July 15, 2014, Pastor Tao Chongyin, left, speaks with church member Fan Liang'an in front of the Wuxi Christian Church with the words "Church of Jesus" in red, in Longwan, Wenzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang province. Across Zhejiang province, which hugs China’s rocky southeastern coast, authorities have toppled, or threatened to topple, crosses at more than 130 churches. “I won’t let them take down the cross even if it means they would shoot me dead,” said Fan Liang’an, 73, whose grandfather helped build the church in 1924. (AP Photo/Didi Tang)

In this photo taken July 15, 2014, Pastor Tao Chongyin, left, speaks with church member Fan Liang’an in front of the Wuxi Christian Church with the words “Church of Jesus” in red, in Longwan, Wenzhou in eastern China’s Zhejiang province. Across Zhejiang province, which hugs China’s rocky southeastern coast, authorities have toppled, or threatened to topple, crosses at more than 130 churches. “I won’t let them take down the cross even if it means they would shoot me dead,” said Fan Liang’an, 73, whose grandfather helped build the church in 1924. (AP Photo/Didi Tang)

Because of tight restrictions on religious practices, reliable figures are hard to find, but the Chinese government generally puts the number of Protestants (a group it calls “Christians”) at 23 million and the number of Catholics at more than 5 million.

Foreign scholars estimate that there are 67 million to 100 million Christians in China — compared with 87 million Communist Party cadres. Yang estimates that China will be home to 250 million Christians by 2030. Evangelical Protestants, like Su, are the fastest-growing group.

The Communist Party has a complicated, often contradictory, view of faith: The constitution protects the right to religion, but the state is unwilling to relinquish control.

“The Chinese Communist Party is violently allergic to non-party organizing vehicles, whether they’re nonprofits, libraries or churches,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. Read the rest of this entry »


U.S. Embassy in Beijing Warns of ‘Possible Threats Against Westerners’ on Christmas Eve

HK-christmas-warning-WSJ-Reuters

Carlos Tejada reports: The U.S. Embassy in Beijing issued a rare security alert for Westerners in the Chinese capital city on Christmas Eve, prompting a number of other foreign embassies to follow suit.

The notice posted on Thursday said the embassy had received “information of possible threats against Westerners” patronizing the area around Sanlitun, the site of a number of tony shops and restaurants catering to foreigners and affluent Chinese alike. The area is also close to a number of embassies, though not the U.S. embassy.

It said U.S. citizens should be vigilant. An embassy spokesman said he didn’t have additional information.

China Independent Film

A number of other embassies — including those for the U.K.the Netherlands, and Italy –  issued their own alerts, with many citing the U.S.

Beijing police didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Via social media, they issued their own security alert, though it didn’t specify any specific threats. It wasn’t clear whether the police notice was related to the embassy advisories. Chinese authorities have routinely issued security notices during holidays, even during foreign holidays such as Christmas.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman referred questions to other authorities. He added that Chinese authorities would do their best to ensure the safety of foreigners in the country.

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

A small group of armed troops were stationed in front of the Tai Koo Li mall, a high-end shopping center famous for housing an Apple Store that is sometimes the scene of scuffles when the gadget maker updates one of its popular products. Chinese security personnel also erected spiked barricades near embassies in the area. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s Bizarre Maoist Spectacle: Final Nail in the Coffin for the Cuckoo Bananas Labour Party?

video-_John_McDonn_3509964b

John McDonnell audaciously brandished a copy of Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell dropped a political bombshell in the House of Commons What was it over? A book. Not just any book, mind. A book conveying a philosophy that is most certainly taboo in British politics. A book that was none other than Mao Zedong’s very own ‘Little Red Book’. The commotion caused by it was far from little, however.

mao-propaganda

The immediate reactions of everyone in the House of Commons were indeed telling. The Conservatives were overjoyed. It was an early Christmas present for them. Many MPs were chorusing “more! more!” On the Labour side of the hall, some found it amusing; yet it clearly stirred up much discontent. Even Deputy Leader Tom Watson, who could be seen sat beside McDonnell at the time, had a faint look of despair as this historic book was pulled out; which is, to some extent, the scriptures, or holy book, of the far left.

Clearly it was done as a mere jest, and nothing more than a humoured attack at Chancellor George Osborne – who he ironically labelled “Comrade Osborne” – in criticism for his approach to Britain’s relations with China. His direct quote from Chairman Mao was as follows:

Archive/Getty Images

Archive/Getty Images

“We must learn to do economic work from all who know how. No matter who they are, we must esteem them as teachers, learning from them respectfully and conscientiously. But we must not pretend to know what we do not know.”

Yet it is an unsuitable affiliation. Surely you’d expect something like this from the Communist Party of Great Britain themselves; not from a serious opposition party vying to win power in modern-day Britain – where Thatcherism still lingers and private property is still at large.

[Read the full story here, at Ideology. Vision. Discussion]

Most Marxists I have ever associated with would actually distance themselves from Mao Zedong: a dictator of the People’s Republic of China, responsible for the deaths of millions of his own civilians – from famine and executing those against the rule. Even if you are going to cite a Communist figure at all in British politics, better to use a figure such as Lenin or Trotsky; not a brutal mass-murdering despot.

Cameron and Obsourne’s reactions show their delight

Cameron and Obsourne’s reactions show their delight

Many feel content with a more narrow view of politics. Even if it isn’t one that directly mirrors the Conservative party’s ideology, it wouldn’t drift too far from this. Hence by both the Conservative party and the then-austerity-favouring Labour party gained 330 and 232 seats respectively (562 out of 650 overall) in the General Election last May. Many predict the latter figure, which is that of Labour of course, will be trimmed away if trends stay the same. Read the rest of this entry »


Read the Newspaper, Chinese Official Urges Communist Party Members

wsj-china-communist-party-read-newspapers

Russell Leigh Moses writes: The People’s Daily is the Chinese Communist Party’s flagship newspaper. It announces what the party sees as the major issues of the day and the current direction of the nation. It’s also the main platform for political discussion, marking out initiatives and identifying the parameters for debate. Like many other party newspapers, People’s Daily is required reading for party members.

It is also, for too many new party members at least, increasingly irrelevant.

With articles on a typical day involving discussions of party doctrine, dogma and jargon abound. Major stories often include grip-and-grin accounts of Chinese leaders meeting obscure peers from faraway nations.

And headlines in the newspaper can have an eerie similarity, such as the recent edition that had 11 that began with the name Xi Jinping, China’s president and Communist Party leader.

That makes the People’s Daily no different from newspapers around the world struggling to stay significant during the digital revolution. But for the Communist Party, the stakes are arguably bigger: Its power and legitimacy depend on party leaders getting the word out and those words being taken seriously.

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

That unease was on display in an editorial in an edition of People’s Daily last month titled, “Is It OK for Party Members Not To Read Party Newspapers?” Yan Jin, an official in Changsha, the capital of China’s southern province of Hunan, noted that these days “some cadres do not bother to even read party newspapers and spend that time browsing through gossip instead.”

Yan concedes that this situation shouldn’t be a surprise as “current party members born in the 1980s and 1990s haven’t grown up with the habit of reading actual newspapers and now have more ways of getting information from the computer or their phone.” In his own district, Yan said, cadres between 22 and 30 years of age comprised 25% of the membership, suggesting that this problem of paying less attention to party news will grow as older officials retire and younger ones join the ranks.

Yan said that party newspaper readership has also declined because a growing number of cadres “justifiably criticized party newspapers as boring.” Many party members simply haven’t wanted to devote the time to wading through the heavy political prose even though, as he contends, party newspapers have “tried to write more and more lively sentences, and attempted to adopt a new style that’s both shorter and addresses real issues.” Yan notes that party newspapers are now easier to access online and at news kiosks, which should help their appeal to younger officials.

Apparently, that strategy is falling short. Read the rest of this entry »


Independent Hong Kong Book-Sellers Missing, Believed Detained

Four people linked to a Hong Kong bookstore which has stocked titles highly critical of the ruling Chinese Communist Party have been “delayed,” believed detained by Chinese authorities, while on a visit to Thailand.

Owner Gui Haiming, general manager Lu Bo, store manager Lin Rongji, and staff member Zhang Zhiping of publisher and bookstore company Sage Communications are believed to be in China after having been detained there or in Thailand, their associates told RFA.

Gui and Lin called their wives to reassure them on Friday, but little information about their whereabouts was forthcoming, according to a fellow Sage shareholder surnamed Li.

“They said they were OK, but they’re not OK,” Li said. “They just told their loved ones they would be coming back a bit later than expected, and told them not to worry.”

“But they didn’t answer any questions about where they were or what they were doing,” he said.

Gui, who holds a Swedish passport, went missing in mid-October while on a trip to Thailand, where he owns a holiday home, while Lu and Zhang stopped communicating around Oct. 22-24 after trips back to their family homes in mainland China, Li said.

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Incommunicado

Li only discovered that Gui, whose company publishes 3-4 books a month on Chinese politics and current affairs, was incommunicado after being contacted by the printers of the next book.

“Usually, he would get back to the printers by the following day if it was urgent, but the printers had been looking for him for a week,” he said.

It is unclear where Lin was when he lost contact with friends and family.

“He used to sleep over at the bookstore a lot, so his wife didn’t know he was missing,” Li said.

Gui has previously published titles critical of the administration of President Xi Jinping, including The Great Depression of 2017, and The Collapse of Xi Jinping in 2017.

Calls to Lu Bo’s and Zhang Zhiping’s cell phones rang unanswered on Friday, while Lin reportedly owns no cell phone.

Repeated calls to the Shenzhen municipal police department, just across the internal border from Hong Kong, also rang unanswered.

An employee who answered the phone at the Swedish consulate in Hong Kong said the consulate was unaware of the reports.

Others targeted

Gui and his colleagues wouldn’t be the first in their profession to be targeted by Beijing.

In May 2014, a court in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen on Wednesday handed a 10-year jail term to 79-year-old Hong Kong publisher Yiu Man-tin after he edited a book highly critical of President Xi Jinping. Read the rest of this entry »


VOC will Award its Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom to Activist and Lawyer Chen Guangcheng at This Week’s #ChinaForum

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Through his work and activism, Chen Guangcheng has helped expose the crimes of the Chinese Communist Party, including forced abortions and corruption, and has given voice to China’s disabled population.

This week VOC will award its Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom to Chinese legal scholar and civil rights activist Chen Guangcheng, for his heroic efforts promoting individual rights and the rule of law.

Through his work and activism, Chen Guangcheng has helped expose the crimes of the Chinese Communist Party, including forced abortions and corruption, and has given voice to China’s disabled population.

Chen was born in China’s Shandong province in 1971, in the midst of the country’s violent Cultural Revolution. Chen became blind when he was five-months old because of an untreated fever. This life-changing event categorized him as one of China’s greatest discriminated groups—the disabled.

In China, as Chen once explained, the disabled are not considered fully human. Until the 1980s they were referred to as “useless.” Since the 1990s China’s law guarantees employment, education, welfare, and access to the country’s disabled, but they still continue to encounter difficulties in society. Disabled children are usually kept confined at home, most schools do not allow disabled students, and figures showthat only a quarter of the country’s disabled meet any form of employment. Even the cities are a struggle to those who manage to get out—pathways for the blind often lead to dead ends or trees, and other help, such as guide dogs, are forbidden.

[Read the full text here, at VictimsOfCommunism.org]

Chen was bound to follow the same fate. However, his fate changed when he was 17 and enrolled in a school for the blind 40 miles away from his hometown. Chen spent the next decade of his life studying, rapidly moving from primary school to the university, where he studied Chinese medicine and massage. It was during this time that Chen started fighting against the injustice he saw. He would speak against teachers and government authorities that mistreated him because of his condition. Read the rest of this entry »


China’s Antigraft Drive Hits Communist Party Media

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Criticism of China’s top party-controlled publications comes amid a spell of tightened scrutiny of China’s news media.

Chun Han Wong reports: Over the past two years, Chinese state media have cheered as President Xi Jinping’s sweeping anticorruption campaign felled bureaucrats and businessmen alike.

Now, the ruling Communist Party’s own top scribes find themselves in the crosshairs.

china-media-censorship

Following recent investigations of the party’s mouthpiece daily and top political journal, Chinese antigraft officials said they uncovered a litany of financial and journalistic misconduct, including Chinese leader Xi Jinpingblackmail and misuse of public funds.

The criticism of China’s top party-controlled publications comes amid a spell of tightened scrutiny of the country’s news media. Graft busters have probed into alleged corruption and other ethical lapses in China’s journalism world in the past year, though the news outlets implicated have mainly been commercial publications rather than official organs.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

This changed late Sunday when the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Communist Party’s internal watchdog, criticized the mouthpiece People’s Daily newspaper and the party’s main political journal Qiushi for what it described as a broad range of transgressions.

At the People’s Daily, these include lax enforcement of internal discipline, misuse of public funds for travel, and improper use of official vehicles and residences, the antigraft team said.

“Some domestic bureaus made use of party newspaper resources to pursue profits through joint development projects,” the CCDI said. It added that there had also been “instances of extortion related to the reporting or non-reporting of news in return for compensation.” Read the rest of this entry »


Culture Shock: Chinese Ministry Slammed on Not-so-Social Media

weibo

Mass trolling of government Weibo accounts, once common, has become rare in recent years as authorities have tightened their grip on the platform.

Josh Chin reports: With China’s guardians of taste cracking down on everything from televised cleavage to the lyrics of Taiwanese rapper MC Hotdog, Chinese Internet users were provided with alternate entertainment this week: watching the country’s culture ministry get eviscerated on social media.

“You manage what we read, what we watch on TV, what movies we see, what we do online, when we drive our cars, what we say, but you don’t manage the quality of our food or housing, our health, or our children’s ability to attend school. Everything you should manage, you don’t and what you shouldn’t manage, you do!”

The Ministry of Culture, which is responsible for the protection and promotion of Chinese traditional culture, launched its official account on the popular social-media platform Weibo Thursday and almost immediately it found itself drenched by a firehose of vitriol. Three messages posted to the feed since Thursday afternoon had attracted over 100,000 comments a day later, most of them unfavorable or outright hostile.

“You manage what we read, what we watch on TV, what movies we see, what we do online, when we drive our cars, what we say, but you don’t manage the quality of our food or housing, our health, or our children’s ability to attend school,” read one comment that attracted more than 23,000 likes. “Everything you should manage, you don’t and what you shouldn’t manage, you do!”

china-communist-propaganda

The account was launched on the same day that the official Xinhua news agency released the full text of a landmark speech on arts and literature delivered by Chinese President Xi Jinping. The speech, delivered at a symposium last October, laid out a vision of artists serving the state that closely resembled cultural policies outlined by Mao Zedong seven decades earlier.

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

Mass trolling of government Weibo accounts, once common, has become rare in recent years as authorities have tightened their grip on the platform. The response reflected widespread frustration with increased censorship and cultural tightening under Mr. Xi, including harsher restrictions online that led to the banning of several popular foreign TV shows and cartoons. Read the rest of this entry »


‘American Progressivism is a Cult of Whiteness’

The American’s Left’s Blond-Haired, Blue-Eyed Fantasyland

kevin-williamsonKevin D. Williamson writes: The curious task of the American Left is to eliminate “white privilege” by forcing people to adopt Nordic social arrangements at gunpoint.

Progressives have a longstanding love affair with the nations of northern Europe, which are, or in some cases were until the day before yesterday, ethnically homogeneous, overwhelmingly white, hostile to immigration, nationalistic, and frankly racist in much of their domestic policy.

When leftists preach socialism, they have in mind a very white version of it.

In this the so-called progressives are joined, as they traditionally have been, by brutish white supremacists and knuckle-dragging anti-Semites, who believe that they discern within the Nordic peoples the last remnant of white European purity and who frequently adopt Nordic icons and myths, incorporating them into an oddball cult of whiteness.

“In this the so-called progressives are joined, as they traditionally have been, by brutish white supremacists and knuckle-dragging anti-Semites, who believe that they discern within the Nordic peoples the last remnant of white European purity and who frequently adopt Nordic icons and myths, incorporating them into an oddball cult of whiteness.”

American progressivism is a cult of whiteness, too: It imagines re-creating Danish society in Los Angeles, which is not full of Danish people, ascribing to Scandinavian social policies certain mystical tendencies that render them universal in their applicability.

Call it “Nordic Exceptionalism.”

[Read the full story here, at National Review Online]

The Left occasionally indulges in bouts of romantic exoticism — its pin-ups have included Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, Patrice Lumumba, Mao Zedong; we might even count Benito Mussolini, “that admirable Italian gentleman” who would not have been counted sufficiently white to join Franklin Roosevelt’s country club — but the welfare states that progressives dream about are the whitest ones: Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, etc. The significance of this never quite seems to occur to progressives.

[Kevin D. Williamson’s book  “The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome”  is available at Amazon]

When it is suggested that the central-planning, welfare-statist policies that they favor are bound to produce results familiar to the unhappy residents of, e.g., Cuba, Venezuela, or Bolivia — privation, chaos, repression, political violence — American progressives reliably reply: “No, no, we don’t want that kind of socialism. We want socialism like they have it in Finland.” Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong University Purge

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Pro-Beijing Forces Target a Top School’s Leaders to Intimidate Professors.

The new school term in Hong Kong is off to a bad start. A year after university students led mass protests for democracy, the government is taking revenge against pro-democracy voices in the academy.

The crackdown is especially harsh at elite Hong Kong University, where the governing council last week blocked the appointment of former law dean Johannes Chan to the senior post of pro-vice chancellor. Mr. Chan was the only candidate recommended by a search committee.

The problem is that Mr. Chan is a human-rights and constitutional lawyer with moderate pro-democracy views. He has done academic work with his HKU law colleague Benny Tai, founder of the group Occupy Central With Love and Peace, which helped start the street protests last year.

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For months Mr. Chan faced a smear campaign, with hundreds of articles in pro-Beijing newspapers condemning his “meddling in politics.” Critics accused him of mishandling a donation to Mr. Tai, but the governing council cleared him of wrongdoing earlier this year. Nevertheless the council denied his appointment last week by a 12-8 vote.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

Council deliberations are meant to be confidential, but leaks suggest Mr. Chan was supported by the council members drawn from HKU’s faculty. Read the rest of this entry »


China’s First Nobel Laureate in Science 

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Ms. Tu won for the discovery of artemisinin, a drug that has significantly reduced mortality rates among malaria patients.

Tu Youyou, awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine on Monday, is the first citizen of the People’s Republic of China to win a Nobel for a scientific discipline and the first female Chinese citizen to win any Nobel. Imprisoned writer Liu Xiaobo was the first Chinese citizen to win a Nobel while in China in 2010 when he was awarded the peace prize. Chinese novelist Mo Yan won the literature prize in 2012.

Physicists Li Zhengdao and Yang Zhenning, who left China prior to the Communist Party takeover in 1949, shared the 1957 physics prize while working in the U.S. Both men later became U.S. citizens.

Tu Youyou: Conqueror of Malaria

Tu Youyou: Conqueror of Malaria

Ms. Tu won for the discovery of artemisinin, a drug that has significantly reduced mortality rates among malaria patients, according to the prize announcement. The 84-year-old retired professor at the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences was awarded the prestigious Lasker Medical Research Award in 2011 for the same feat.

The discovery of the drug came in the early 1970s as the result of a program established by Mao Zedong to find a cure for malaria that would help the North Vietnamese in their fight with South Vietnam and the U.S., according to Chinese state media. Ms. Tu led a team that scoured traditional Chinese medicinal texts for remedies that might fight the parasite. They eventually identified artemisinin, a compound contained in a plant known as sweet wormwood that proved unusually effective in fighting the disease.

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

“It is one of the few very truly innovative drugs to come out of China,” said Ray Yip, former China program director for both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Gates Foundation. “The introduction of artemisinin was a major force in containing the scourge of malaria.” Read the rest of this entry »


The Future of Hong Kong: Bumpy Road Ahead 

Rising property prices in the city mean few bookshops can afford ground-floor premises - except those backed by China’s official Liaison Office. Photograph: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images

 writes: On September 28, protesters marked the anniversary of the start of last year’s Umbrella Revolution, in which 200,000 Hong Kongers took to the streets to demand genuine democracy for their city. The demonstrations ended after over two months of occupation, with the protesters failing to achieve their ends.

Although the democratic bloc in the Hong Kong legislature blocked implementation of Beijing’s preferred plan—the Chief Executive would be directly elected, but with candidates approved by a pro-Beijing nominating committee—it marked a pyrrhic victory. In rejecting what surely amounted to sham democracy, the city was left with its extant political system intact, leaving Hong Kongers no direct say in the appointment of the city’s leader. Read the rest of this entry »


China: 197 Punished for ‘Online Rumors’

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BEIJING (AP) — People recently punished in China’s campaign against online rumors include those who circulated an inflated death toll in the Tianjin blasts and who alleged a man committed suicide because of the country’s stock market woes, state media reported Monday.

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“Among the rumors circulated were that a ‘man jumped to his death in Beijing due to the stock market slump,’ and that ‘at least 1,300 people were killed in the Tianjin blasts.’ The death toll in the Aug. 12 explosions at warehouses for hazardous chemicals in the port city so far is 150.”

The official Xinhua News Agency said 197 people have been punished in a special campaign, citing the Public Security Ministry, but did not say over what period. Read the rest of this entry »