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 »

Political Chill in Beijing: Xi Turns Back the Clock on Women’s Rights in China


An emboldened Beijing clamps down on civil liberties

Andrew Browne writes: Although it would be almost unthinkable today, as a political chill descends over Beijing, two decades ago close to 30,000 women from around the world converged on a muddy tent village outside the Chinese capital to
promote a host of social and political causes.

“Even though the so-called ‘Feminist Five’ were released from custody in April, they say they are still being treated as criminal suspects.”

The carnival-style NGO Forum on Women made the authorities nervous, but it was part of the U.N.’s Fourth World Conference on Women, which China agreed to host as a way to polish its international image still tarnished by the army’s brutal suppression of student protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989. Hard-liners in charge at the time evidently figured the political discomfort was worth the gains to China’s global prestige.

“Just as President Xi Jinping prepares to attend a U.N. summit in New York in September to mark the 20th anniversary of the landmark women’s conference, his administration has begun to clamp down on independent women’s groups for the first time since the NGO Forum.”

Tibetan activists set up stalls. Amnesty International, in China for the first time, rebuked the Chinese government over its human rights practices at a news conference. Then U.S. First Lady Hillary Clinton, one of the celebrity attendees, made herself popular with the women by lecturing her Chinese hosts about free speech and assembly after they withheld visas for some of the delegates.


The event became a watershed moment for the Chinese women’s movement. Because foreign NGOs would be there, Chinese authorities had to allow local NGOs to set up and participate.

They never looked back—until now.

Ironically, just as President Xi Jinping prepares to attend a U.N. summit in New York in September to mark the 20th anniversary of the landmark women’s conference, his administration has begun to clamp down on independent women’s groups for the first time since the NGO Forum.

The restrictions underscore just how far Mr. Xi is turning back the clock on civil liberties in China—all the way to the days of harsh political repression that followed the crushing of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

They also reveal a transformation in the mind-set of the government, still fearful of organized political opposition but so confident in China’s elevated place in the world that it no longer feels much compulsion to make concessions to its international critics. Read the rest of this entry »

‘She’s Freaking Me Out’: Man Sues Chinese Actress Over Her ‘Intense Stare’ in TV Show


Plaintiff alleges Zhao’s stare caused him ‘spiritual damage’

BEIJING (AP) — Rules making it easier to file lawsuits in China have led to a new concern over frivolous claims, such as one in which a man says actress Zhao Wei stared at him too intensely through his TV set.

The regulations making it more difficult for courts to reject lawsuits took effect May 1, leading to an increase in cases nationwide last month of 29 percent compared with same period last year, to just over 1 million cases, according to the Supreme People’s Court.

Shocked Man --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Shocked Man — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

The registration system requires courts to accept legitimate lawsuits when they are filed or clearly state the reasons for rejecting them, and citizens have the right to appeal the decisions.

“Previously, it was difficult for administrative cases, such as people suing governments, to be accepted,” said Li Heping, a Beijing lawyer.


In announcing the registration system, the official Xinhua News Agency said: “Authorities are determined to put an end to obstructive behavior by courts and officials meddling in cases.”

The change has led to Shanghai Pudong New District Court receiving a case against Zhao, the court’s litigation service hotline confirmed. The court official, who declined to identify himself, refused to say whether the court had accepted the case. Read the rest of this entry »