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Xi’s Power Play Foreshadows Historic Transformation of How China Is Ruled

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Party insiders say president wants to remain in office after his second term, breaking succession conventions.

BEIJING— Jeremy Page and Lingling Wei report: China’s Communist Party elite was craving a firm hand on the tiller when it chose Xi Jinping for the nation’s top job in 2012. Over the previous decade, President Hu Jintao’s power-sharing approach had led to policy drift, factional strife and corruption.

The party’s power brokers got what they wanted—and then some.

Four years on, Mr. Xi has taken personal charge of the economy, the armed forces and most other levers of power, overturning a collective-leadership system introduced to protect against one-man rule after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976.

Shattering old taboos, Mr. Xi has targeted party elders and their kin in an antigraft crusade, demanded fealty from all 89 million party members, and honed a paternalistic public image as Xi Dada, or Big Papa Xi.

Now, as he nears the end of his first five-year term, many party insiders say Mr. Xi is trying to block promotion of a potential successor next year, suggesting he wants to remain in office after his second term expires in 2022, when he would be 69 years old.

Mr. Xi, who is president, party chief and military commander, “wants to keep going” after 2022 and to explore a leadership structure “just like the Putin model,” says one party official who meets regularly with top leaders. Several others with access to party leaders and their relatives say similar things. The government’s main press office declined to comment for this article, and Mr. Xi couldn’t be reached for comment.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

Mr. Xi’s efforts to secure greater authority may help ensure political stability in the short run, as an era-defining economic boom starts to falter. But they risk upending conventions developed since Mao’s death to allow flexibility in government and ensure a regular and orderly transition of power.

Concern is rising among China’s elite that the nation is shifting toward a rigid form of autocracy ill-suited to managing a complex economy. China’s array of challenges includes weaning the economy off debt-fueled stimulus spending, breaking up state monopolies and cleaning up the environment.

“His dilemma is that he can’t get things done without power,” says Huang Jing, an expert on Chinese politics at the National University of Singapore. “He feels the need to centralize, but then he risks undermining these institutions designed to prevent a very powerful leader becoming a dictator.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and Premier Li Keqiang arrived for the opening session of the National People's Congress in March.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and Premier Li Keqiang arrived for the opening session of the National People’s Congress in March. Photo: Agence France-Presse/Getty Image

Mr. Xi’s supporters say he still faces resistance within the party, and needs to modernize leadership structures to confront the slowing economy and a hostile West.

At a meeting of 348 party leaders in October that granted Mr. Xi another title—“core” leader—he railed against indiscipline and warned of senior officials who “lusted for power, feigned compliance and formed factions and gangs.”

Since then, many party members have signed written pledges of “absolute loyalty.” In a speech in October, the party chief of Henan province, Xie Fuzhan, hailed Mr. Xi as a “great leader”—words usually reserved for Mao.

[Read the more here, at WSJ]

Hours before Donald Trump’s election victory, China officially launched its own convoluted process for selecting a new national leadership team, to be unveiled at a twice-a-decade party congress next fall. Up to five of the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee, China’s top leadership body, are due to retire.

Only Mr. Xi and Premier Li Keqiang would remain if the party observes the precedent, established in 2002, that leaders over age 67 step down. Read the rest of this entry »

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HONG KONG WRONG: iPhone 7’s New Slogan Translates to ‘This is Penis’ in Cantonese

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The Cantonese language uses subtly different tones to differentiate between words. The Cantonese pronunciation of ‘seven’ (七) uses a ‘cat1’ tone, according to the Chinese Character Database of Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Apple launched its iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus at a live event in San Francisco this week. One of the technology firm’s biggest market is China, which includes the mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Apple’s ‘This is 7’ slogan for its new iPhone 7 has a rather unfortunate translation in Hong Kong.

Smartphone users have been mocking the technology firm’s latest marketing line because it sounds just like ‘This is penis’ in Cantonese.

The iPhone 7 slogan as it appears on Apple's site  in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong (l-r)

China is one of Apple’s biggest markets, but the translations for its new slogan differ drastically across mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

“A common example is the Hong Kong’s Chief Executive CY Leung who is nicknamed as ‘689’ after being elected to his post with just 689 votes from an election committee – regrettably missing a ‘seven’.”

Apple boss Tim Cook introduces the iPhone 7 during an Apple special event in San Francisco

While mainlanders and Taiwanese people predominantly speak Mandarin, Hong Kong dwellers typically converse in Cantonese, which is why the comical translation only affects them.

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“Earlier this year, Korean technoloy firm Samsung faced similar mockery in Hong Kong following the launch of its Galaxy Note 7.”

Many Cantonese speakers in Hong Kong took to social media to mock the x-rated gaffe, reports Quartz.

Tim Cook unveils newly-designed iPhone 7 at Apple Keynote

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“The number ‘seven’ is a common euphemism of a Cantonese profanity word referring to penis, which only differs slightly in the tone. Number ‘seven’ is widely deployed in local politics.”

‘The slogan “7, is here” in China is the best. They got so many “7”s,’ said one Facebook user.

‘Why didn’t people say anything during the launch of Windows 7?’ queried another. Read the rest of this entry »


Meet the Young Leaders Shaking up Hong Kong Politics

Pedestrians walk past a banner for new party Youngspiration showing disqualified candidate Edward Leung (L) and Baggio Leung (C) during the Legislative Council election in Hong Kong on September 4, 2016. Young Hong Kong independence activists calling for a complete break from China stood in major elections for the first time on September 4, the biggest vote since 2014 pro-democracy rallies. / AFP / Anthony WALLACE (Photo credit should read ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)

Beijing wants pro-democracy activists to go away. Instead, they’re getting elected.

Suzanne Sataline writes: In late 2014, Hong Kong protestors used umbrellas to shield themselves as police soaked them with pepper spray. Student leaders demanded elections free of intrusion from the Chinese central government, capturing headlines around the world, but their efforts failed. On Sept. 4, city residents pushed back again. Voters elected several of those young activists to the city’s legislature, a sharp rebuke to Beijing’s increasing encroachment on political life in the city.

“By the terms of its constitution, called the Basic Law, Hong Kong has autonomy, but with an asterisk. Individual residents cannot elect the city’s leader, nor try to change policies through referenda; they pick just half of their lawmakers. “

A record 2.2 million people queued to cast ballots — hundreds reportedly waited at one polling station past two o’clock in the morning — in the financial capital’s first city-wide election since protests two years earlier. Voters tossed several veteran moderates from the Legislative Council (LegCo), and replaced them with six activists who want to wrest Hong Kong from mainland China’s control. While the chamber’s majority still tilts toward Beijing — thanks mostly to voting rules that grant greater power to trade and industry groups — the new term will seat 30 lawmakers who favor democracy in the 70-member chamber. They will collectively pose a greater obstacle to the city’s unpopular chief executive, C.Y. Leung, a man widely considered too deferential to Beijing.

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“This arrangement of 19 years — engineered by the British crown, enforced by mainland China after it took Hong Kong back — never sought, and was never given, resident approval. Hence the widespread, youth-driven protests two years ago, quickly dubbed the Umbrella Movement.”

By the terms of its constitution, called the Basic Law, Hong Kong has autonomy, but with an asterisk. Individual residents cannot elect the city’s leader, nor try to change policies through referenda; they pick just half of their lawmakers. This arrangement of 19 years — engineered by the British crown, enforced by mainland China after it took Hong Kong back — never sought, and was never given, resident approval. Hence the widespread, youth-driven protests two years ago, quickly dubbed the Umbrella Movement.

[Read the full story here, at Foreign Policy]

Since then, Beijing appears to be tightening its grip on the semi-autonomous city. Many residents were unsettled when five members of a local book publisher disappeared last year, and yet Hong Kong’s government seemed to do little to help. (One man later resurfaced, sharing details of how he’d been kidnapped by state security and held for months in mainland China; a colleague is still missing.) A sudden demotion and resignations at the city’s independent graft commission signaled that the lauded agency might not be so independent anymore. The central government’s chief lawyer in Hong Kong said in April that the government could deploy British colonial laws still on the books, such as those for treason and sedition, to prosecute independence activists. This summer, the city government’s Electoral Affairs Commission barred six candidates from the LegCo race, five of whom demand either independence, or a vote on the issue among Hong Kong residents. (The commission’s chairman is appointed by the city’s chief executive.)

Cheng Chung-tai speaks to supporters in Hong Kong elections

“Since then, Beijing appears to be tightening its grip on the semi-autonomous city. Many residents were unsettled when five members of a local book publisher disappeared last year, and yet Hong Kong’s government seemed to do little to help.”

But that didn’t stop the election of young upstarts who aim to amend the constitution, expand voting rights, and bolster civil liberties. Sixtus “Baggio” Leung of a new party called Youngspiration thinks Hong Kong should declare independence from China. (None of the Leungs mentioned in this article are related.) Nathan Law, at age 23 the youngest lawmaker in city history, believes residents deserve a vote for self-determination. Beijing officials “are scared of our influence because we are not controllable,” Law, a leader in the 2014 protests, said. “We can mobilize people and arouse people and create enough tension between Hong Kong and China.”

“A sudden demotion and resignations at the city’s independent graft commission signaled that the lauded agency might not be so independent anymore. The central government’s chief lawyer in Hong Kong said in April that the government could deploy British colonial laws still on the books, such as those for treason and sedition, to prosecute independence activists.”

Some of those activists have been preaching on radio and street corners that Hong Kong is historically and culturally separate from China. The city, they have said, cannot trust China, and city residents should decide their own fate. By July, according to one survey, more than 17 percent of residents, and nearly 40 percent of those aged 15 to 24, said the city should separate from China when the “one-country, two-systems” plan ends in 2047. In August, the banned candidates organized what they called the city’s first independence rally, drawing several thousand people. One of the organizers was Edward Tin-kei Leung, a 25-year-old philosophy student born on the mainland. Read the rest of this entry »


Why Anti-China Sentiment is On The Rise in Hong Kong 

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Elections for the Hong Kong Legislative Council were held Sunday with near-record turnout in the city. Many are voting for younger, more democratic candidates who want to become more independent from increasingly authoritative mainland China.

Weston Williams reports: In 1997, when Hong Kong underwent its “handover” from the British government to China, the deal carried with it the promise that, for the next 50 years at least, the former British colony would be largely autonomous from the Chinese mainland. The historic agreement created an unusual bond between the largely democratic island and the authoritarian communist state of which it is now a part.

In recent years, however, the handover that created “one country, two systems” has been called into question, as mainland China has increasingly tried to impose its will on the city.

On Sunday, these questions were brought to the forefront as Hong Kong voters turned out in near-record numbers to decide this term’s members of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong (LegCo). Pro-democracy candidates hope to win enough seats to resist the pro-Beijing establishment in the first election following the student-led “Umbrella Movement” protests in 2014.

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

At least by Chinese standards, LegCo is a significantly democratic institution. The council consists of 70 seats that accept both pro-Beijing politicians as well as the “pan-democrats,” politicians who support the idea that the civil liberties enjoyed under the British can be preserved only through democratic action. But of those 70 seats, only 40 are directly elected by citizens of Hong Kong. According to the Economist, the remaining 30 seats belong to “functional constituencies,” which are chosen by groups representing business interests, professionals, and rural communities. The design of the constituencies has ensured that the majority of LegCo legislators have been pro-Beijing since the handover.

According to Reuters, Hong Kong’s pan-democratic opposition currently controls just 27 seats in LegCo, giving it the power to block policies and some laws, but little else. While Hong Kong enjoys a great deal more freedom and democratic leeway than mainland China, many citizens feel the Beijing holds too much sway in city elections. 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.

NYT China-Espionage

“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 »


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 »


Hong Kong Glues Down Paving Stones to Prevent Violence During Beijing Official’s Visit 

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Beijing taking no chances in protest-prone Hong Kong.

Emily Rauhala writes: In a sign of the times, officials in Hong Kong are gluing down bricks ahead of a visit by a top Chinese official, a move reportedly aimed at stopping protesters from turning pieces of pavement into projectiles.

The road work is part of a sweeping security mobilization that includes counterterrorism measures, such as road closures and barricades near the city’s central business district. Demonstrators will be relegated to protest zones, drawing complaints that the government is trying to play down dissent.

The man at the center of the storm: Zhang Dejiang, a member of China’s highest political body and the top official responsible for Macau and Hong Kong. Zhang lands in Hong Kong on Tuesday for a three-day trip. He will be the highest-ranking cadre to visit the city since pro-democracy protests in 2014.

Rioters throw bricks at police in Hong Kong in February after local authorities tried to prevent street food sellers from operating. (Kin Cheung/AP)

Rioters throw bricks at police in Hong Kong in February after local authorities tried to prevent street food sellers from operating. (Kin Cheung/AP)

Judging by the security preparations, not everyone is looking forward to his visit.

Anger and frustration over Beijing’s influence in Hong Kong affairs has been on the rise since 2014, when protesters occupied the heart of the city for months calling for free and fair elections.

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

More than a year and a half later, the issues raised by the demonstrators remain unresolved and many worry that Beijing is tightening its grip on the former British colony, threatening rule of law and the free press.

Amid crackdown on a Hong Kong publishing house this winter, Lee Bo, a local bookseller with a British passport, disappeared from a warehouse in the city and surfaced across the border in mainland China under truly unbelievable circumstances. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Virus of the Mind’! ‘Ten Years‘: The Controversial Hong Kong Independent Film that China Doesn’t Want You to See

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Communist Party mouthpiece Global Times has called ‘Ten Years,’ comprising vignettes that reveal a dystopic vision of Hong Kong’s future in which political freedoms have been eroded by China’s control, a “virus of the mind.”

Patrick Brzeski reports: The most talked-about recent film phenomenon in Hong Kong centers on the territory’s tiniest local release. The dark, provocative indie drama Ten Years was produced on a microbudget of $75,000 and opened in December at a single cinema in Hong Kong’s Yau Ma Tei district. A surprise run of sellout screenings resulted in the movie beating the local per-screen average of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which opened the following day.

Ten Years comprises five shorts — all set in the year 2025, and each directed by a different Hong Kong filmmaker — that explore ways in which life in the territory might change during the next decade. Collectively, the vignettes reveal a dystopic vision of Hong Kong’s future in which human rights and political freedoms in the semiautonomous territory have been eroded by the incursion of mainland China’s control.

[Read the full story here, at Hollywood Reporter]

The film struck an immediate chord among a Hong Kong populace worried about its future.

“Many in the audience told us they hadn’t gone to the cinema to watch a movie for a long time,” says Jevons Au Man-Kit, one of the film’s five directors. “But they came to support Ten Years. It was more than just a movie to them — it’s about their home.” Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong Police Restore Cuts Made in Revision of their Official Account of the Deadly 1967 Riots

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Force backs down after being accused of trying to whitewash the city’s history and role played by pro-Beijing radicals.

Christy Leung reports: The Hong Kong police force has made an unexpected climbdown and is restoring its official account of the 1967 riots after causing a storm earlier this year by deleting parts of it.

A source told the Post the missing details would be reinstated on its archived website as early as Friday, and more historical details would be added to make the account “fuller”.

The U-turn was decided at a meeting of the Police Historical Records Committee yesterday.

It reverses a controversial move in mid-September to revise the official version of the riots, during which pro-Beijing radicals inspired by the Cultural Revolution sought to overthrow the colonial government.

Protestors wave the Little Red Book

The force replaced phrases like “communist militia” with “gunmen” and deleted detailed descriptions of events such as leftist mobs threatening bus and tram drivers who refused to strike.

Police were accused of trying to whitewash history out of political considerations. They were also ridiculed for claiming there was not enough space to publish full details online.

[Read the full story here, at South China Morning Post]

“[We are uploading the original version] to answer our readers’ calls and have no political agenda behind it,” the source explained yesterday.

“We think people nowadays are not into reading bulky and long paragraphs, but since they enjoy reading the full version, we are bringing it back.”

In addition to the original write-up, the history of women in the force and the Hong Kong Police College will be added to the website.

The Police College will be added to the Hong Kong police website. Photo: Jonathan Wong

“We want to make the contents ‘finer’ and ‘fuller’, so that people can have a better understanding of police history,” the source said.

It is understood the committee is still reviewing the content and may upload the original version along with the new information on January 1 at the earliest. Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong’s Memory Hole

The right to privacy is usurping the public right to know in Asia’s financial hub.

Financial hubs depend on the free flow of information, and nowhere more so than in Hong Kong, gateway to the opaque China market. So a recent case in which an appeals board upheld the censorship of a court judgment to protect the supposed privacy rights of the litigants sets a bad precedent. The territory is following Europe’s lead toward extreme privacy protection at the expense of access to information.

“The right to be forgotten affects more than media freedom. It prevents investors and entrepreneurs from conducting due diligence and managing business risks, and helps people hide from public scrutiny. That may be good for the reputations of the rich and powerful, but it will hurt Hong Kong’s reputation for transparency.”

Luciana Wong Wai-lan, who now serves on several government advisory panels, participated in a matrimonial case in the early 2000s. In 2010 Ms. Wong requested that the court remove the judgments from its online reference system. The court made them anonymous, but hyperlinks to the judgments placed on the website of local shareholder activist David Webb still revealed her name.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

Ms. Wong wrote to Hong Kong’s privacy commissioner for personal data in 2013, and the commissioner ordered Mr. Webb to remove the links pursuant to Data Protection Principle 3 (DPP3) of the Personal Data Privacy Ordinance. Read the rest of this entry »


China’s Latest Crackdown: Homemade Porn

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The Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications mentioned the videos in its notice and declared that they are ‘having an extremely bad impact on society’.

Felicia SonmezFSinstagram_400x400 reports: Chinese authorities are striking back after a string of high-profile incidents involving explicit homemade videos, according to a notice by the country’s antipornography office.

“So-called ‘indecent videos’ are harming social virtue, promoting pornography, severely disturbing order on the Internet and trampling on the moral and legal bottom line,” reads the notice, which was posted Thursday on the website of China’s National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications.

Last month, a clip of a couple having sex in a Uniqlo dressing room went viral on the Chinese Internet, in an episode that inspired scores of online parodies and prompted thousands of couples to take selfies outside of the downtown Beijing store where the incident took place. Four people have been detained in connection with the video.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ – Follow Felicia on Twitter @feliciasonmez]

Since the Uniqlo incident, several other risqué videos have found their way to the Chinese public eye. In one case, a clip made by several people in Shengzhou in coastal Zhejiang province after a night out at a karaoke parlor went viral online late last month. Read the rest of this entry »


Disillusionment Among Hong Kong’s Youth Fuels Uneasy Separatist Longings

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The youngsters are members of a new front that is using increasingly aggressive tactics to demand an independent Hong Kong free from mainland China’s grip.  

Viola Zhou and Claire Baldwin report: On a recent Sunday night in the working-class Hong Kong district of Mong Kok, a group of radical young activists swore through loudspeakers and gestured rudely as they denounced mainland Chinese as “prostitutes” and “barbarians.”

The youngsters are members of a new front that is using increasingly aggressive tactics to demand an independent Hong Kong free from mainland China’s grip.

Their separatist yearnings have alarmed Beijing and the pro-Beijing Hong Kong government which are fighting back to win hearts and minds and forge a spirit of “love China, love Hong Kong” with multimillion-dollar information drives and exchanges.

The animosity on display in Mong Kok was virtually unheard of until recently, despite resentment toward mainlanders flooding into Hong Kong, and follows unsuccessful protests to demand full democracy in the city late last year.

The 'Umbrella Revolution' rallies together again after the October 21 talks

“I never call myself Chinese at school because it is a shame to be Chinese,” said 16-year-old “Gorilla” Chan, who, unbeknownst to his parents, founded a radical group with a 14-year-old friend.

He said violence is almost inevitable.

“That day will come sooner or later if Hong Kong remains like this,” Chan said.

Beijing sees national unity as sacrosanct and has ruled Hong Kong under a “one country, two systems” formula, allowing broad autonomy, since the city returned from British rule in 1997.

But Hong Kong’s prodemocracy movement, spearheaded by fresh-faced youngsters, has shaken the assumption of cozy accommodation between the mainland’s communists and the capitalist enclave.

The protesters demanded full democracy in a 2017 election for the city’s leader. But Beijing insists the leader will be chosen from a list of candidates it approves.

The anti-China radicals were galvanized by the democracy protests and gained traction later during protests against mainland shoppers swamping Hong Kong and buying up various items, including formula milk, and pushing up prices. Read the rest of this entry »


Isabella Steger: Hong Kong Votes Down Beijing-Backed Election Plan

HK-reject-WSJ

For the Chinese government, the defeat was a blow to its effort to integrate Hong Kong into the mainland. And it was a rare defeat for the country’s Communist Party

HONG KONG — Isabella Steger reports: Hong Kong’s legislature rejected a Beijing-backed election-reform plan, ending a year of turmoil in the city and dealing a setback to the former British colony’s relationship with mainland China.

The outcome was expected, but the vote was called abruptly amid the second day of debate for the package, which would have allowed Hong Kong citizens to vote for their leader for the first time but required that candidates be vetted by a pro-Beijing committee.

“After about 20 months of intense political wrangling, many people feel fatigued. No matter what the result today, society needs some time to calm down and reflect on what has happened over these past 20 months, and think about the future direction of Hong Kong.”

— Carrie Lam, the city’s No. 2 official who has spearheaded the effort to sell the electoral overhaul plan

Pro-government lawmakers walked out of the legislature before the vote, leaving the chamber filled with mostly opposition lawmakers, who had vowed to reject the plan. The vote was 28 against and eight in favor, with 34 not voting. The vote would have required a two-thirds majority to pass.

“After about 20 months of intense political wrangling, many people feel fatigued,” said Carrie Lam, the city’s No. 2 official who has spearheaded the effort to sell the electoral overhaul plan, in concluding remarks in the legislature just before the vote. “No matter what the result today, society needs some time to calm down and reflect on what has happened over these past 20 months, and think about the future direction of Hong Kong.”

Pro-democracy lawmaker Charles Mok is surrounded by veto signs during his speech in Hong Kong’s legislature on Thursday. Photo: Reuters

Pro-democracy lawmaker Charles Mok is surrounded by veto signs during his speech in Hong Kong’s legislature on Thursday. Photo: Reuters

“We used our sacred vote today to veto a fake universal suffrage proposal. We helped Hong Kong people send a clear message to Beijing that we want real choice. This isn’t the end of the democracy movement in Hong Kong. A new chapter starts today.”

— Alan Leong, a pro-democracy legislator, told reporters after the vote

The vote on Thursday marks probably the most critical event in Hong Kong’s political development since pro-democracy activists started angling for greater democracy in the territory in the 1980s. Ms. Lam said Thursday that she couldn’t predict at what point Hong Kong’s democratic development would resume.

The rejection of the reform proposal was a victory for pro-democracy legislators who stuck to their pledge to reject the plan. The group had come under pressure from Beijing, which said they could be held to account for their votes. It was a serious defeat for Hong Kong’s government, which was forced to promote Beijing’s plan despite opposition in Hong Kong.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

“We used our sacred vote today to veto a fake universal suffrage proposal,” Alan Leong, a pro-democracy legislator, told reporters after the vote. “We helped Hong Kong people send a clear message to Beijing that we want real choice. This isn’t the end of the democracy movement in Hong Kong. A new chapter starts today”. Read the rest of this entry »


Analysis: Hong Kong is Less Competitive, Thanks to the Heavy Hand of China

 and  write: For the first time in a decade, Hong Kong no longer tops the list of competitive cities in China, and its due to the stifling hand of the Chinese regime, commentators note.

 “On the surface, Hong Kong’s economy is in the hands of the mainlanders.”

— Canada-based political commentator Meng Tianyu

According to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ recently released Blue Book on Urban Competitiveness—a survey of 294 China cities, Taiwan included—Hong Kong now ranks number two, falling behind its neighbor just across the border in mainland China, the metropolis Shenzhen.

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“If this situation continues and Hong Kong loses its judicial advantages, its financial and information center position would inevitably disappear. Hong Kong, the well-known Pearl of the Orient, would be gone.”

Epoch Times Hong Kong branch president Ms. Guo Jun

The survey report claims Shenzhen topped Hong Kong, a bustling international financial hub and former British colony, because the mainland city better backed innovation—in 2014, Shenzhen government spent 4.05 percent of its gross domestic production supporting its innovation and technology sector compared to Hong Kong’s 0.73 percent.

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The report also said Hong Kong’s standing was affected by last year’s student-led Occupy protests. From the end of September to mid December, hundreds of thousands of Hongkongers held three areas of the city to protest a restrictive Beijing diktat on political reform in Hong Kong.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ ranking is suspect, writes Canada-based political commentator Meng Tianyu in her regular column for the Chinese-language Epoch Times. But Meng says Hong Kong has been slipping as a competitive place to do business since 1997—the year the Chinese regime assumed sovereignty over Hong Kong from the British.

Economically, Hongkongers have been overtaken by mainlanders, Meng says, citing the increased Chinese shares in Hong Kong’s real estate, finances, power, construction and stock market. Read the rest of this entry »


Suzanne Sataline: What Happened to Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Movement?

Sit In Protest Continues In Hong Kong Despite Chief Executive's Calls To Withdraw

Still riven over strategy, tactics, and core values, many now consider the 2014 protests a failure

HONG KONG – Suzanne Sataline writes: The activists from last year’s massive democracy occupation have splintered. Nowhere is this clearer than on college campuses represented by the Hong Kong Federation of Students, one of the architects of the fall 2014 pro-democracy protests that roiled the Chinese territory. Students at three local universities have voted to quit the league of university students; more vote drives are underway. Critics, some swayed by rising nativist anger, say student leaders’ insistence on passive resistance at the height of the protests doomed the push for open elections for the city’s chief executive, instead of a slate of candidates pre-vetted by Beijing. As the wounded student group tries to shore up its membership, its allies worry that the loss of a united student front will push the already anemic pro-democracy camp closer to irrelevance.

“Today, many participants from last year’s occupation consider the movement a failure. After all, the strike did not achieve its stated goals of toppling the chief executive, C.Y. Leung, or jettisoning the election system in which 1,600 business and trade groups chose him. In fact, the campaign won no material concessions.”

Since February, students at three local universities have voted to leave the federation; balloting at another campus is underway and more drives are expected. The results could re-shape the future of the Hong Kong protest movement, just as the city’s government is debating a new elections law. It would, for the first time, let citizens cast ballots for the chief executive, albeit only among candidates that pass muster with Beijing.

People listened to talks between student leaders and senior government officials as they were broadcast live at a protest site in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong, Oct. 21, 2014. PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

People listened to talks between student leaders and senior government officials as they were broadcast live at a protest site in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong, Oct. 21, 2014. PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

The division among democracy protesters began shortly after police fired teargas at demonstrators in September 2014, during discussions under the tarpaulins shielding protest camps from the rain. Many protesters blamed the federation for being opaque, passive, and shackled to the city’s old guard liberals – the so-called pan-democrats. Some in the sit-in chided the federation’s leaders for taking no action when the government refused to negotiate, and for the student leaders’ “greater-China bias,” a focus on bringing democracy to the nation, rather than addressing Hong Kong concerns.

[Read the full text here, at Foreign Policy]

Today, many participants from last year’s occupation consider the movement a failure. After all, the strike did not achieve its stated goals of toppling the chief executive, C.Y. Leung, or jettisoning the election system in which 1,600 business and trade groups chose him. In fact, the campaign won no material concessions. The federation had kicked off the protest with a week-long class boycott, and has become an easy target for those disappointed. “Students felt betrayed by the federation,” said Leonard Sheung-fung Tang, a political science student leading the campaign to end federation ties at City University. The federation has lost the trust of students, and if it urged people to stand up to the police again, Tang said, most students wouldn’t listen.

A pro-democracy protester sits on a barricade at a protest site in the Mongkok district of Hong Kong on October 26, 2014. Four weeks after tens of thousands of Hong Kongers took to the streets demanding free leadership elections for the semi-autonomous Chinese city, weary demonstrators remain encamped across several major roads.   AFP PHOTO / Philippe LopezPHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images

A pro-democracy protester sits on a barricade at a protest site in the Mongkok district of Hong Kong on October 26, 2014. Four weeks after tens of thousands of Hong Kongers took to the streets demanding free leadership elections for the semi-autonomous Chinese city, weary demonstrators remain encamped across several major roads. AFP PHOTO / Philippe LopezPHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images

Throughout the protest, student federation leaders preached non-violence even as they faced withering criticism for that tactic – especially online and on social media — as a more radical faction grew in prominence, if not number. Months after police cleared the democracy encampments, several veterans of the occupation urged people to join rallies to protect Hong Kong against a mainland incursion. Hundreds of angry people attacked mainland visitors and confronted police.  Read the rest of this entry »


Beijing is Restricting How Often Residents of Neighboring Shenzhen Can Enter Hong Kong

Hong-Kong-train-station

China Reduces Mainlander Visits to Hong Kong

Isabella Steger writes: Can a tweak to a visa arrangement for mainland Chinese tourists coming to Hong Kong help ease tensions between the two places?

“The change was prompted by a marked increase in public anger in recent months against parallel traders. Protests have broken out in areas of Hong Kong near the border with the mainland, such as Tuen Mun, Sheung Shui and Yuen Long.”

On Monday, Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying confirmed a long-anticipated move by Beijing to address the influx of mainland visitors to Hong Kong in recent years. The move is aimed specifically at those who come from neighboring Shenzhen to Hong Kong to engage in so-called parallel trading, the practice of buying goods ranging from toiletries to food in Hong Kong to resell at a higher price on the mainland.

“Residents of these towns complain that parallel traders drive up the prices of goods and rents, pushing out small businesses serving locals.” 

According to the new arrangement, Shenzhen residents applying for an individual visitor visa to Hong Kong will only be allowed to enter the city once a week, rather than multiple times. The change is effective Monday. Residents of these towns complain that parallel traders drive up the prices of goods and rents, pushing out small businesses serving locals.

“Since 2009, Shenzhen permanent residents have been allowed to apply for one-year, multiple entry visas to Hong Kong…”

The change was prompted by a marked increase in public anger in recent months against parallel traders. Protests have broken out in areas of Hong Kong near the border with the mainland, such as Tuen Mun, Sheung Shui and Yuen Long. Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong Protesters Stage Another ‘Umbrella Marathon’ Run

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Gregor Stuart Hunter reports: For protesters sleeping on the streets of Hong Kong, the past three weeks have at times felt like a marathon. Now, they have a real one. Sort of.

“At a dire time like this, when we’ve been camped out for 19 days, this really helps boost morale.”

On Thursday night, runners returned for the second “Umbrella Marathon” following Sunday’s inaugural event, and named after the symbol of the city’s pro-democracy protests. The route is on downtown roads that are temporarily pedestrianized as a result of the sit-in, and just 2.5 miles compared to a regular marathon’s 26.2-mile slog.

Participants ran waving illuminated mobile phones in the nighttime air and cheered “Hong Kong, Hong Kong” as the students watching from the surrounding tent city broke into applause.

“Running is synonymous with freedom.”

“At a dire time like this, when we’ve been camped out for 19 days, this really helps boost morale,” said Nikki Lau, one of a handful of volunteers who organized the event in a single day after being inspired by a blog post.

The event drew a wide mix of Hong Kong society, including professionals and expatriates who said they had been looking for a role to play in supporting Hong Kong’s democratic aspirations. Read the rest of this entry »


Keep Hong Kong’s Window Open

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Journalists covering the protests include some who have been expelled from China amid crackdowns

renocol_GordonCrovitzOct. 5, 2014 5:03 p.m. ET, L. Gordon Crovitz writes: Information has been the main currency of Hong Kong since colonial days, when word reached mainland Chinese that if they escaped to “touch base” in Hong Kong, they would get refuge under British rule. Hong Kong became Asia’s first global city thanks to hardworking immigrants who made the most of their open trade, English legal system and free speech.

“By breaking the promise that Hong Kong can select its own government, China’s current rulers are violating clear obligations.”

Hong Kong protesters are driven by hope that a leader selected by Hong Kong voters—as Beijing promised for 2017 before it reneged—can protect their way of life. But as the Communist Party narrows freedoms on the mainland, Deng Xiaoping ’s “one country, two systems” formulation for the 1997 handover entails a widening gap between life in Hong Kong and the rest of China. Without a government to represent them, Hong Kong people had no better choice than to take to the streets.

Exclusive: punditfromanotherplanet Hong Kong Bureau

Exclusive: punditfromanotherplanet Hong Kong Bureau

“This year has seen unprecedented physical attacks on journalists in Hong Kong, presumably at Beijing’s behest. China extorted advertising boycotts of pro-democracy publishers in Hong Kong. It forced critical bloggers to close down.”

Mainland China is in an era of brutal suppression. Beijing jails reformers, controls journalists and employs hundreds of thousands of censors on social media. Twitter Facebook , YouTube and many global news sites are blocked. Instagram was closed down after mainlanders shared photos of Hong Kong people using umbrellas against pepper spray and tear gas.

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“Hong Kong’s fate is to be the world’s window on an unpredictable China. “

As a financial capital, Hong Kong cannot survive without open access to information. It has more newspapers than any other city in the world. It’s been a window on China since the communist revolution. An unintended consequence of Beijing’s recent crackdown is that expelled foreign journalists now operate from Hong Kong, delivering news of the protests.

Exclusive: punditfromanotherplanet Hong Kong Bureau

Exclusive: punditfromanotherplanet Hong Kong Bureau

Google searches from China are routed to Hong Kong servers so that results can be delivered uncensored

The Wall Street Journal’s first overseas edition was launched in Hong Kong in 1976. A running joke among Journal opinion writers is that it’s the only place in the world where our free-market, free-people beliefs are mainstream. Google searches from China are routed to Hong Kong servers so that results can be delivered uncensored. Read the rest of this entry »


When Social Media Goes Sideways: Man Who Put Dog in Washing Machine Flees Hong Kong

Facebook post of the dog in the washer. Photo: SCMP

Facebook post of the dog in the washer. Photo: SCMP

“In his post, Lo comments in Chinese: ‘A super quick way to wash a dog: soak, clean, and dry. All done. Clean and quick!'”

For South China Morning Post, Hazel Parry reports: A man being investigated over a Facebook post featuring photographs of a dog churning in a washing machine claims to have fled to the mainland. The man, who goes by the name of Jacky Lo, posted a status update yesterday in which he bragged that he was on his way out of Hong Kong as pressure mounted for him to be punished.

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Struggling: The trapped dog attempts to keep his head out of the water. Photo: SCMP

“In response to a comment underneath asking if the dog was dead, Lo answers: ‘Yes! Do you want to see it!'”

The post included a link to the online petition urging the police to bring him to justice, with Lo commenting: “Wanted?? This afternoon I’m going back to China. See ya later.”

“His latest remarks have brought more criticism online, with people calling him a ‘weak bully’, ‘shameless’, ‘sick’ and a ‘monster’.”

The pictures, which show a small white dog submerged in water and being spun around helplessly in the washing machine, have sparked outrage, with about 14,000 people signing the petition.

In his post, Lo comments in Chinese: “A super quick way to wash a dog: soak, clean, and dry. All done. Clean and quick!”

He then add a smiley icon and the words “feeling content” in English.

Hong Kong police said they were investigating the case as one of suspected animal cruelty. Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Showdown: China Warns Against ‘Foreign Meddling’

Hong Kong Democracy Showdown

Protesters are taken away by police officers after hundreds of protesters staged a peaceful sit-ins overnight on a street in the financial district in Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s simmering summer of discontent gets even hotter on Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014 when Beijing is expected to recommend restricting the first direct elections for the Chinese-controlled financial hub’s leader, stepping up chances of a showdown with democracy groups. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

BEIJING (AP) — China warned against foreign meddling in Hong Kong’s politics Saturday ahead of an expected announcement to recommend highly contentious restrictions on the first direct elections for the leader of the Chinese-controlled financial hub.hk-protest

An article in the ruling Communist Party’s flagship newspaper People’s Daily said that some in the former British colony were colluding with outside forces to interfere in Hong Kong’s governance.

“Not only are they undermining Hong Kong’s stability and development, but they’re also attempting to turn Hong Kong into a bridgehead for subverting and infiltrating the Chinese mainland,” said the article.

[Also see – Hong Kong Tensions Rise as Beijing Critic’s Home Raided – WSJ]

“This can absolutely not be permitted,” it said, citing an unidentified official in the Foreign Ministry‘s department for Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan affairs. Read the rest of this entry »


Tiananmen Anniversary in Hong Kong

hongkong-square-candles

Tens of thousands have gathered in Hong Kong for the only major commemoration in China of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing.

For BBC News, Juliana Liu reports: The organizers said some 180,000 attended the vigil, but the police put the crowd size at just under 100,000. The city retains civil liberties not permitted to mainland Chinese. The 1989 protesters wanted political reform, but the crackdown was ordered after hardliners won a power struggle within the ruling Communist Party.

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In Beijing, the authorities have imposed blanket security, particularly on Tiananmen Square, to prevent any attempts to mark the anniversary.

Dozens of activists were detained in the run-up to the anniversary, with foreign journalists ushered away from the square on Wednesday. Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong Raid on Public Toilet Brothels

The mostly-deserted shopping mall, which housed the brothels, was spread over several floors of a building in Yuen Long

The mostly-deserted shopping mall, which housed the brothels, involved several floors of a building in Yuen Long

CrackdownHong Kong police have raided triad gang-run brothels operating out of converted public toilets in an unused shopping mall, reports say.

Dozens were held at a building in the Yuen Long area. They face charges including keeping a vice establishment and membership of a triad society.

Many of the women held are thought to be from mainland China.

Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong quarantines 19 people over second bird flu case

English: Hong Kong (Aug. 7, 2003) -- Hong Kong...

AFP – Hong Kong on Saturday quarantined an additional 19 people after the city confirmed its second human case of the deadly H7N9 bird flu, less than five days after it confirmed its first, officials said.

The 19 people were close contacts of the second carrier of H7N9 in the city — an 80-year-old Hong Kong man who had been living in the neighbouring mainland Chinese city of Shenzhen.

The man developed a fever and was found to be infected with the virus on Friday after he was admitted to the city’s Tuen Mun hospital on Tuesday due to underlying medical conditions.

“Nineteen close contacts of the patient have been quarantined,” a government statement released late Saturday said.

Out of the 19 quarantined, 13 had stayed in the same cubicle with the elderly man at the city’s Tuen Mun hospital, five were his family members, and one other was the taxi driver who drove him from the border to the hospital, the statement said.

Eighteen of the quarantined patients have tested negative for the deadly virus, while the test results for an “asymptomatic” patient was pending. All 19 will be quarantined for 10 days since their last contact with the carrier.

Officials are still investigating whether or not the 80-year-old patient, who remains in stable condition, had come into contact with poultry on the mainland.

On Monday the city admitted a 36-year-old Indonesian domestic helper who was infected with the virus.

“She has a history of travelling to Shenzhen, buying a chicken, slaughtering and eating the chicken,” Hong Kong health minister Ko Wing-man had said of the patient, who remains in a critical condition.

Health officials said they have not found any links between the two cases.

The government has placed 17 people who had been in close contact with the Indonesian patient under quarantine since Tuesday.

Hong Kong is especially alert to the spread of viruses after an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) swept through the city in 2003, killing 299 people and infecting around 1,800.

In all, 138 human cases of H7N9 have been reported in mainland China since February with 45 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

FRANCE 24


Off the Menu:Hong Kong Gov’t Bans Shark’s Fin

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images Shark fins drying in the sun cover the roof of a factory building in Hong Kong on January 2, 2013.

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Shark fins drying in the sun cover the roof of a factory building in Hong Kong on January 2, 2013.

Hong Kong may be the capital of the world’s shark’s fin trade, but as environmentalists step up their campaign against the delicacy, even this city’s government has declared it off-limits.

Last year, China’s government announced it would stop serving shark’s fin soup at official banquets, a move that was heralded by green groups around the world, though it will likely take years to come into effect. Now, Hong Kong is following suit, banning the dish at official events and requesting civil servants to refrain from eating it at other functions, along with other endangered species such as bluefin tuna and black moss. The move comes as international companies from luxury Shangri-La hotel chain to Cathay Pacific Airways have declared they will refuse to serve or carry most shark’s fin. Read the rest of this entry »


Chinese Painter Zao Wou-ki Dies at 93

Franco-Chinese-painter-Zao-Wou-Ki-poses-in-his-workshop-in-Paris-on-November-6-2003.-AFP
 (Zhao Wuji 赵无极), the Chinese-French abstract painter once lauded as the highest-selling living Chinese artistdied on Tuesday at the age of 93. Reuters reports:

Abstract master Zao Wou-ki, one of China’s most significant artists whose works routinely fetch millions of dollars at auction, has died in Switzerland aged 93.

Zao, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, died on Tuesday and had been in hospital for 10 days in the western Swiss town of Nyon, his widow’s lawyer Marc Bonnant told Reuters.

[…]“He mixed Western influences with his Chinese identity to give his work a universal scope,” [French Foreign Minister] Fabius said in a statement. “With him, we are losing an emblematic figure of lyrical abstraction whose work made ​​an outstanding contribution.”

all images © Zao Wou-Ki archives

images © Zao Wou-Ki archives

The New York Times outlines Zao’s emigration to France, his artistic lineage, and the popular reception of his work in the west:

Mr. Zao, who was born in Beijing in 1921, moved to France in 1948, just before the 1949 Communist takeover of China. He became a French citizen in 1964.

[…]Mr. Zao’s abstract works — influenced by both European abstraction and traditional Chinese brushwork — quickly drew the attention of galleries in New York and Paris, where he was regularly showing by the 1950s. He befriended contemporaries like Alberto Giacometti and Joan Miró. Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong Customs Nets Record Cocaine Haul, Seizing 60 Kilograms of the Drug

Hong Kong customs seized a record haul of cocaine at its international airport this week, foiling two passengers who tried to smuggle 58 million Hong Kong dollars (US$7.5 million) worth of the drug in their luggage.

One 35-year-old man arrived Tuesday from São Paulo, Brazil, after transiting in Beijing with 48 kilograms (105 pounds) of cocaine wrapped in quilts inside his suitcases, the largest amount ever seized from an individual passenger in the city’s history. A 22-year-old female traveler on the same flight was also discovered to be carrying 12 kilograms of cocaine inside false compartments of four backpacks stowed in her suitcase. They two were arrested and charged with drug trafficking.

Not including Tuesday’s cases, customs officers have seized more than HK$50 million worth of cocaine at the airport this year, found sewn into jacket linings or stuffed into shopping bags and laptop cases. On Monday, airport customs officers found about HK$1.92 million worth of the drug inside layers of silicone rubber, which were in turn tucked inside handbags, two cushions and a wall map shipped by air mail from Uruguay.

Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong Protestors Raise Colonial Flags at Anti-Mainland Rallies

Protestors carry colonial flags on July 1, 2012. Photo credit: AP/ Vincent Yung.

It was a sight not seen in over 15 years: in the annual July 1st Hong Kong Handover Day protests, the colonial flags of British Hong Kong were hoisted well above the crowd. The reappearance of the “Dragon and the Lion” shocked news outlets around the world.

A former British colony for over 150 years, Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region under the People’s Republic of China on July 1st, 1997. Although Hong Kongers have protested annually since the Handover, the protests this year were marked with a noticeably pro-British and anti-PRC sentiment. Mainlanders in Hong Kong have been accused of illegal goods smugglinggiving birth in order to obtain citizenship, and causing inflation.

The increased tensions over the past year between Hong Kong and the Mainland have been fueled by several online videos gone viral. Initially, it was a video of Hong Kongers on the subway confronting Mainland tourists over littering, then it turned personal when a professor from Peking University attacked Hong Kong people on national television…