Ever wondered what being in space feels like? Well, in the wake of October’s launch of China’s Shenzhou-11 spacecraft, a theme park in Shunde City, Guangdong Province has given visitors the chance to experience the sensation of weightlessness. Tourists put on spacesuits before riding a capsule attached to cables. Read the rest of this entry »
Te-Ping Chen reports: The case of a Beijing judge gunned down late last week — the latest in a slew of physical attacks against the profession — has triggered horror and introspection among China’s legal community, which is already facing problems of morale.
According to the Supreme People’s Court’s verified Weibo account, Ma Caiyun, 38, was shot and killed on Friday by two attackers. One of the attackers, the court said, was an individual whose post-divorce property settlement case had previously been heard by Ms. Ma. The duo killed themselves after the attack on Ms. Ma, the court said.
According to the Beijing police, the perpetrators also attacked several others, including a man married to one of the attackers’ ex-wives. The man died in the assault, police said, adding that the gun used in the attack was homemade.
China’s judges have faced violent assaults before, including physical beatings, knifings and more. Last September, a 43-year-old man involved in a Hubei labor dispute, unhappy with the verdict, stabbed four judges.
On social media, numerous judges and lawyers mourned and shared news of Ms. Ma’s death. While such postings were at first the subject of assiduous deletions by censors, on Sunday, the country’s highest court publicly confirmed her death. Read the rest of this entry »
The average area per capita dropped 29.3% from 2013 to 47.8 square feet in 2015 – not much bigger than a king-size bed.
Isabella Steger reports: For some of Hong Kong’s poorest residents, the tiny subdivided apartments they call home are shrinking– and becoming less affordable.
With the city’s real estate among the most expensive in the world, many low-income Hong Kong residents — sometimes entire families — have been forced to live in so-called subdivided units. These apartments have been modified by landlords to fit multiple tenants and aren’t strictly illegal, but are subject to different structural and fire-safety requirements.
According to a study jointly conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Institute of Future Cities and a concern group for people living in subdivided units, tenants of subdivided units now pay on average around 41% of their income towards rent, compared to 29% two years ago. The average rent is about HK$3,924 (US$506) a month, the study said.
Rents in more central areas of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon far exceed those of the New Territories, where many poor families are forced to live despite long and expensive commutes.
According to the study, a 90-square-foot subdivided unit in the downtown Tsim Sha Tsui district could command HK$5,500 (US$710) a month, which works out to be about HK$61(US$7.87) a square foot a month. In a 2011 Wall Street Journal story, a family of four paid HK$4,000 (US$516) a month to live in a 150-square-foot subdivided unit in the low-income district of Sham Shui Po in Kowloon. The unit housed a stove, desk, fridge and bunk bed.
Spaces are also getting tinier in subdivided units, according to the study. The average area per capita dropped 29.3% from 2013 to 47.8 square feet in 2015 – not much bigger than a king-size bed. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
Sales Increase for Pricey Undergarments as Government Discourages Conspicuous Consumption
Laurie Burkitt and Alyssa Abkowitz report: Call it inconspicuous consumption. Lingerie stores in China are seeing strong sales of $300 bras and other pricey skivvies, defying a broad drop in luxury sales in the vast Chinese market. Italian lingerie maker La Perla—which once struggled to sell $2,000 strapless bustiers and other high-end undergarments in the region—saw sales at its 14 stores in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan jump 42% last year. Last month, La Perla opened a Shanghai men’s boutique, selling $200 silk boxers and $3,000 silk robes.
“I don’t want to overdress. But I don’t mind spending more than 1,000 yuan for a bra.”
— Ms. Zu, who works in pharmaceutical sourcing
Agent Provocateur, a London high-end lingerie company, said sales at the company’s four China boutiques are at least 25% above expectations. An Agent Provocateur saleswoman in a high-end Beijing mall said best sellers include a sheer bra with white-scallop details priced at 1,475 yuan, or about $240, and a 1,940 yuan lacy black bra.
Consumers like Zu Yujing, a 30-year-old from the northern Chinese city of Tianjin, say spending on luxury clothing for the office or leisure is too ostentatious. But Ms. Zu splurges on custom-made pieces at a Beijing-based lingerie shop called Pillowbook, where she spent about 4,000 yuan on her last shopping spree.
“I don’t want to overdress,” said Ms. Zu, who works in pharmaceutical sourcing. “But I don’t mind spending more than 1,000 yuan for a bra.”
Chinese consumers—famous for their appetite for designer bags and gold-plated iPhone cases—are now shying away from flashy logos and displays of wealth as a government austerity campaign shames officials who buy them. Sales of luxury goods, which include glitzy jewelry and couture, were down 1% last year in China, according to consulting firm Bain & Co.
But many Chinese appear to be flaunting their wealth under their clothes. Read the rest of this entry »
BEIJING— Brian Spegele reports: Police detained at least two editors and other employees at a major Chinese business news website and placed them under investigation for suspected extortion, state media reported, as the government steps up its scrutiny of journalists.
“Authorities have issued a series of orders in recent months to enforce greater control over media by demanding reporters heed the government line.”
State broadcaster China Central Television said two editors from the 21st Century Business Herald website were among eight people placed into custody Wednesday. At least two public-relations companies were also facing scrutiny as part of the investigation, CCTV said.
Police in Shanghai, who are leading the investigation, didn’t answer telephone calls seeking comment.
The news website, in a statement posted to its microblog account, said it would “actively cooperate with public security organs in their investigation work.” Guangdong Twenty-First Century Media Co., a major Chinese publisher of business newspapers and magazines and controller of the site, declined to comment. Read the rest of this entry »
Former Beijing multimillionaire Xia Keming and his three companions were executed on Tuesday for killing eight people between 1999 and 2007, the Beijing Times observed on Wednesday.
Xia once served as a civil servant in Beijing. He was sentenced in 1988 to three years in prison for the illegaldealingof train tickets. After being released, Xia started a business in Shenzhen, and also owned 19 percent of shares in a Beijing-based company valued at more than 100 million yuan ($16 million).
The murder spree began when Xia asked his brother Xia Kezhi and two of his ex-cellmates to kill a business partner surnamed Liu.
In the following eight years, the four killed seven other people, including Xia Keming’s business partners, mistress and acquaintances.
To cover up their crimes, the gang bribed officials with cash, cars, luxury watches and expensive rosewood furniture. Read the rest of this entry »
DAVID E. SANGER and NICOLE PERLROTH reporting for the NYT: American officials have long considered Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant, a security threat, blocking it from business deals in the United States for fear that the company would create “back doors” in its equipment that could allow the Chinese military or Beijing-backed hackers to steal corporate and government secrets.
“The documents were disclosed by The New York Times and Der Spiegel, and are also part of a book by Der Spiegel, “The N.S.A. Complex.” The documents, as well as interviews with intelligence officials, offer new insights into the United States’ escalating digital cold war with Beijing.”
But even as the United States made a public case about the dangers of buying from Huawei, classified documents show that the National Security Agency was creating its own back doors — directly into Huawei’s networks.
The agency pried its way into the servers in Huawei’s sealed headquarters in Shenzhen, China’s industrial heart, according to N.S.A. documents provided by the former contractor Edward J. Snowden. It obtained information about the workings of the giant routers and complex digital switches that Huawei boasts connect a third of the world’s population, and monitored communications of the company’s top executives.
One of the goals of the operation, code-named “Shotgiant,” was to find any links between Huawai and the People’s Liberation Army, one 2010 document made clear. But the plans went further: to exploit Huawai’s technology so that when the company sold equipment to other countries — including both allies and nations that avoid buying American products — the N.S.A. could roam through their computer and telephone networks to conduct surveillance and, if ordered by the president, offensive cyberoperations.
“Many of our targets communicate over Huawei-produced products,” the N.S.A. document said. “We want to make sure that we know how to exploit these products,” it added, to “gain access to networks of interest” around the world. Read the rest of this entry »
Chinese authorities have uncovered a tunnel from the mainland to Hong Kong, apparently built by smugglers.
The tunnel, with concrete walls and interior lighting, started under a garage near the city of Shenzhen and stretched for 40m (130ft) under a river and into reed-beds in Hong Kong.
The authorities believe gangs intended to use it to import mobile phones and other electrical goods into Hong Kong.
The semi-autonomous zone has different tariffs to the mainland.
The smugglers could make huge profits by avoiding border fees and taxes.
A ‘Directive from The Ministry of Truth’
The following censorship instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online.
State Council Information Office: All websites strictly prohibit promotion of the December 11 Southern Metropolis Daily article “Name Change Requested for Mao Zedong’s Birthday Commemoration at the Great Hall of the People” and all related news. Immediately delete already published material. Close discussions on interactive segments and strictly control online comments. (December 13, 2013)
In an attempt to lower the profile of a planned symphonic concert honoring the120th birthday of Mao Zedong, authorities ordered a name change and merging of the commemoration with a New Years Gala. Recently, the State Council Information Office ordered the deletion of a Phoenix Net article that included an interview subject discussing the supernal power of Mao pictures.
Chinese journalists and bloggers often refer to these instructions as “Directives from the Ministry of Truth.”
Emily Rauhala reports: New Express has a message for China’s censors: We may be small, but we have backbone. On Wednesday the Guangzhou-based newspaper published a front-page call for the release of its reporter Chen Yongzhou. Chen was detained by police in Hunan province while investigating a state-linked firm. The three-character headline, ‘Please Release Him’ was printed in a large, bold font above the fold. Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post called it an “unprecedented” demand for press freedom. Read the rest of this entry »
WARNING: The following story includes disturbing content
Mental illness suspected. The good news: Penis later medically reattached
A six-year-old Chinese boy who had his eyes gouged out may one day see again after a Hong Kong hospital offered him “electronic eyes”.Posted: September 5, 2013
Eye expert Dennis Lam and his team have offered to give the boy years of treatment free-of-charge. ”When I heard about [the attack] I was really angry, very upset. I asked myself if I can help,” Lam told AFP.
The boy, known as Bin-Bin, went missing last month after playing near his family home in China’s northern province of Shanxi. His parents found him hours later covered in blood. The child’s eyes were recovered nearby.
Lam hopes to restore up to 40% of the boy’s vision using prosthetic eyes and an electronic sensory system. Cameras in the eyes would detect different objects and send signals to an electric pulse generator attached to Bin-Bin’s tongue, helping him to recognise shapes. The technology is already in use in Japan and Europe. Read the rest of this entry »