Former Google executive Ross LaJeunesse blasts company’s work in China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FOX NEWS)

 

Former Google executive Ross LaJeunesse blasts company’s work in China

‘Just when Google needed to double down on a commitment to human rights, it decided to instead chase bigger profits and an even higher stock price’

Former Google executive Ross LaJeunesse slammed the tech giant for valuing profits more than human rights in an essay published Thursday.

LaJeunesse, Google’s former head of international relations, and a current Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Maine, wrote on Medium that Google’s phrase, “Don’t be evil” had become “nothing more than just another corporate marketing tool.”

He said that executives at Google were choosing to work with countries like China and Saudi Arabia, despite human rights violations committed by those countries.

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He also accused Google of pushing him out of the company in April, after 11 years at the company, according to a report from The Washington Post.

“I didn’t change,” LaJeunesse told The Post. “Google changed,”

Democratic Senate candidate and former Google executive Ross LaJeunesse is pictured. (Staff Photo by Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

LaJeunesse’s Medium post, “I Was Google’s Head of International Relations. Here’s Why I Left,” explained how Google entered the Chinese market in 2006 but it decided to stop cooperating with the Chinese government and leave the market in 2010.

However, LaJeunesse said that in 2017 he found out about several troubling projects, including the “Dragonfly” project, a secretly developed, censored Search product for China and potential deals between Cloud executives and the government of Saudi Arabia.

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And at the end of the year, he said he was “completely surprised” to hear that Google had established its Google Center for Artificial Intelligence in Beijing.

After hearing about all the troubling projects, LaJeunesse, who had been in the international relations head role since 2012, attempted to create a formal “Human Rights Program” for the entire company, but he said that executives brushed him off

“As someone who had consistently advocated for a human rights-based approach, I was being sidelined from the on-going conversations on whether to launch Dragonfly,” LaJeunesse wrote. “I then realized that the company had never intended to incorporate human rights principles into its business and product decisions.”

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“Just when Google needed to double down on a commitment to human rights, it decided to instead chase bigger profits and an even higher stock price,” he added.

In an emailed statement, a Google spokesperson told FOX Business the company has an unwavering commitment to support human rights organizations and efforts.

“That commitment is unrelated to and unaffected by the reorganization of our policy team, which was widely reported and which impacted many members of the team,” the spokesperson said. “As part of this reorganization, Ross was offered a new position at the exact same level and compensation, which he declined to accept.”

In his essay, LaJeunesse blamed the change of senior executive leadership at Google and the company’s products that it developed with the governments of China and Saudi Arabia

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Ultimately, LaJeunesse wrote that government oversight is the best solution.

“No longer can massive tech companies like Google be permitted to operate relatively free from government oversight,” he said. “As soon as Google executives were asked by Congress about Project Dragonfly and Google’s commitment to free expression and human rights, they assured Congress that the project was exploratory and it was subsequently shut down.”

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LaJeunesse said the executives and shareholders cannot be entrusted with the responsibility they have taken on because of how ubiquitous their technology has become.

“The role of these companies in our daily lives, from how we run our elections to how we entertain and educate our children, is just too great to leave in the hands of executives who are accountable only to their controlling shareholders who — in the case of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Snap — happen to be fellow company insiders and founders,” he added.

This story was updated to include a comment from Google. 

 

 

China: US act on Hong Kong ‘completely unnecessary’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

US act on Hong Kong ‘completely unnecessary, unjustifiable’: HKSAR chief executive

Xinhua

US act on Hong Kong 'completely unnecessary, unjustifiable': HKSAR chief executive

AFP

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a press conference at the government headquarters in Hong Kong on December 3, 2019.

The Hong Kong-related act recently passed by the US Congress and signed into law by the US president is “completely unnecessary and unjustifiable,” Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday.

At a media briefing before the weekly Executive Council meeting, Lam said the HKSAR government strongly opposes the so-called Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, and regards it as a “very regrettable” move by a foreign legislature and administration to interfere in the Hong Kong affairs through their own legislation.

Stressing that the human rights and freedom of Hong Kong residents are well protected by the HKSAR Basic Law, Lam pointed out “we enjoy a high degree of freedom in many aspects, including freedom of press, freedom of assembly and demonstration, as well as religious freedom.”

Lam noted that the major chambers of commerce here have been strongly opposing the act, adding that the act may even bring harm to US companies, considering that there are more than 1,300 US enterprises that have operation or even regional headquarters in Hong Kong.

As for the suspension of reviewing applications to visit Hong Kong by US military ships and aircraft and the sanctions against some US non-governmental organizations announced by the Chinese central government on Monday, Lam said the central government shall be responsible for the foreign affairs related to the HKSAR, and the HKSAR will cooperate and follow up in accordance.

China outlines integrated development of Yangtze River Delta

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

China outlines integrated development of Yangtze River Delta

Xinhua
China outlines integrated development of Yangtze River Delta

Xinhua

The mouth of the Yangtze River on Shanghai’s Chongming Island.

The Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council on Sunday jointly issued an outline of the integrated regional development of the Yangtze River Delta.

The document outlined targets, requirements and measures to boost the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta and build a regional cluster of high-quality development.

As one of China’s most economically active, open and innovative regions, the Yangtze River Delta boasts strategic significance in the country’s modernization and further opening-up, which makes its regional integration crucial for leading the country’s high-quality development and building a modern economic system.

The outline, mapping development for a 358,000-square km expanse that encompasses Jiangsu Province, Zhejiang Province, Anhui Province and Shanghai Municipality, consists of 12 chapters.

Tasks specified in the outline include establishing a coordinated innovative industry system, enhancing connectivity of infrastructure, strengthening environmental protection, advancing public services and building the Shanghai free trade zone under high standards.

The document detailed development goals to be achieved by 2025 and offered visions into 2035.

By 2025, the Yangtze River Delta is to see substantial development and basically realize integration in the science and innovation industry, infrastructure, environment and public services, said the document.

To fulfill integrated development in the science and innovation sector by 2025, the ratio of the region’s R&D spending to its gross domestic product (GDP) should top 3 percent, while its output of high-tech industries should account for 18 percent of total industrial output.

In the same period, connectivity of infrastructure will be represented by improvements in railway and expressway density and a 5G network coverage of 80 percent.

The outline also laid out environment standards to be met by 2025 in terms of PM2.5 density and energy consumption per unit of GDP.

By 2025, accomplishments in public services should put per capita fiscal expenditure at 21,000 yuan (about 2,987 U.S. dollars) and extend the average life expectancy to 79 years, according to the outline.

The outline also called for a unified market system marked by openness and the free flow of resources.

Looking further into the future, the outline envisioned the Yangtze River Delta as the most influential and robust driving force of the nation’s development by 2035.

Leaked Documents Reveal How China Controls Muslim Minority Detention Centers

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Leaked Documents Reveal How China Controls Muslim Minority Detention Centers

Monday, 25 November, 2019 – 11:00
A Chinese police officer takes his position by the road near what is officially called a vocational education center in Yining in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, Sept. 4, 2018. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Leaked government documents uncovered how China governs life in the network of internment camps in Xinjiang, where an estimated one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities are held.

Obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and published by 17 media outlets worldwide on Sunday, the documents show the strict protocols that controls life in the “vocational education centers” in the region, reported AFP.

The leak comes one week after The New York Times reported, based on more than 400 pages of internal papers it had obtained, that Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered officials to act with “absolutely no mercy” against separatism and extremism in a 2014 speech following a Uighur militant attack on a train station.

The latest leak consists of a list of guidelines for running the camps approved by Xinjiang’s security chief in 2017, along with intelligence briefings that show how police use data collection and artificial intelligence to select residents for detention.

Referring to detainees as students who must “graduate” from the camps, the guidelines lay out how staff should manage their day-to-day lives, such as by ensuring “timely haircuts and shaves”, while also emphasizing that detainees are barred from having cellphones, according to an English translation of the memo posted by ICIJ.

“Students… may not contact the outside world apart from during prescribed activities,” the memo reads, adding that staff should “strictly manage students requesting time off.”

If indeed the so-called students “really need to leave the training center due to illness or other special circumstances, they must have someone specially accompany, monitor and control them.”

The memo says inmates should be judged based on a points system that measures “ideological transformation, study and training, and compliance with discipline.”

“There must be full video surveillance coverage of dormitories and classrooms free of blind spots, ensuring that guards on duty can monitor in real time, record things in detail, and report suspicious circumstances immediately,” it adds.

According to the memo, “students” must stay in detention for at least one year, though that rule was not always enforced, former inmates told ICIJ.

The Chinese embassy in London denied such documents existed, telling the Guardian, one of the partners in publishing the memos, they were “pure fabrication and fake news”.

China Is Concerned About HK Court Ruling

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS NETWORK ‘SHINE’)

 

Central gov’t spokesperson expresses strong concern over HK court judicial review related to mask ban

Xinhua

A central government spokesperson on Tuesday expressed strong concern over the serious negative social impact of the ruling on the judicial review related to the anti-mask regulation by the High Court of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

The Emergency Regulations Ordinance in force in Hong Kong was confirmed to be in accordance with the HKSAR Basic Law by the relevant decisions of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in February 1997 and adopted as a law of the HKSAR, said Yang Guang, spokesperson for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council.

“This shows all the provisions of the ordinance are in accordance with the Basic Law,” Yang said.

The HKSAR Chief Executive in Council invoked the power under the Emergency Regulations Ordinance to put in place the Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation, which was an exercise of the Chief Executive’s functions in accordance with the Basic Law and relevant decisions of the NPC Standing Committee, he noted.

“The regulation has played a positive role in curbing violence and chaos since its implementation,” he added.

The Court of First Instance of the High Court of the HKSAR ruled that the provisions of the Emergency Regulations Ordinance which empower the Chief Executive to make related regulations under certain circumstances were inconsistent with the HKSAR Basic Law and that the main elements of the anti-mask regulation failed to meet the proportionality test.

“This is a blatant challenge to the authority of the NPC Standing Committee and to the power vested in the Chief Executive by law to govern. It will have serious negative social and political impact,” said Yang, adding that the central government will closely follow the development of this case.

The spokesperson expressed the hope that the HKSAR government and the judiciary will perform their duties strictly in accordance with the HKSAR Basic Law and jointly shoulder the responsibility of ending violence and chaos and restoring order.

30 Years Since Berlin Wall Fell, Now It Is All At Risk

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNBC NEWS)

 

  • This weekend’s 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s fall provides a good moment to reflect on four reasons that event has failed to deliver on its full potential, writes Frederick Kempe.
AP: Berlin Wall pulled down 891111
East German border guards look through a hole in the Berlin wall after demonstrators pulled down one segment of the wall at Brandenburg gate Saturday, November 11, 1989.
Lionel Cironneau | AP

The most significant hopes and gains unlocked by the Berlin Wall’s fall, which was 30 years ago Saturday, are all at risk.

They included a historic expansion of democracies and open markets, a wave of globalization that created the greatest prosperity and largest global middle class the world has ever seen, and the enlargement the European Union, to 28 from 12 members, and NATO, to 29 from 16 – deepening ties among the world’s leading democracies.

That all brought with it the hope of what then-President George H.W. Bush called in 1989 “A Europe Whole and Free,” in which Russia could find its proper and peaceful place. Bush went even further in September 1990, after the UN Security Council had blessed the U.S.-led coalition’s war to free Kuwait from Iraqi invasion, envisioning a New World Order, “an era in which the nations of the world, East and West, North and South, can prosper and live in harmony.”

The idea had been hatched a month earlier by President Bush and General Brent Scowcroft, his national security adviser, while fishing near the president’s vacation home at Kennebunkport, Maine. They came home with three bluefish and an audacious vision that the Cold War’s end and the Persian Gulf Crisis presented a unique chance to build a global system against aggression “out of the collapse of the US-Soviet antagonisms,” in the words of General Scowcroft.

Reflecting on those heady days, Scowcroft recently told me that he felt everything he had worked for in his life was now at risk. If U.S. and European leaders don’t recover the common purpose they shared at that time – and there is yet little sign they will – this weekend’s Berlin Wall anniversary is more a moment for concern than celebration.

“Look at what is happening in the world,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in a freshly published interview in the Economist. “Things that were unthinkable five years ago. To be wearing ourselves out over Brexit, to have Europe finding it so difficult to move forward, to have an American ally turning its back on us so quickly on strategic issues; nobody would have believed this possible.”

This weekend’s 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s fall provides a good moment to reflect on four reasons that event – one of freedom’s greatest historic triumphs – has failed to deliver on its full potential. Understanding that, might unlock a better path forward.

1. China’s authoritarian turn

Another thirtieth anniversary this year, the crushing of the Tiananmen Square protests in June 1989, might have had even more lasting consequences.

The regime’s attack on the pro-democracy movement, at a time when the Communist Party could have chosen greater liberalization over repression, ensured that the most important rising power of this century would be increasingly authoritarian in nature.

The lesson Beijing took from the Cold War’s end was that the Soviet Union had failed because it had liberalized its economy too little and its politics too much – a fatal combination. Economic liberalization and a growing Chinese middle class failed to bring with it the Western-style democratic freedoms that some thought would follow.

That doesn’t mean a New World Order can’t still be built with Beijing, but it will take considerable vision and patience to knit the two most important countries of our times together simultaneously, as strategic competitors and collaborators.

2. Revanchist Russia and the ‘Gray Zone Conflicts’

There’s a lot of finger pointing still about “who lost Russia” after the Cold War, whether it was Westerners who didn’t offer enough of an embrace or Russians who missed the opportunity.

Wherever you stand in that debate, the U.S. and its European allies failed to appreciate the potential or staying power of Putin, who has made it his life’s purpose to redress what he considered the biggest disaster of the 20th century, Soviet collapse.

At the same time, the enlargement of the European Union and NATO left behind a “gray zone” of 14 countries like Ukraine that were no longer in the Soviet bloc or Warsaw Pact but hadn’t been integrated into Western institutions.

French leader Macron has argued that it would be a huge mistake not to work to find more common ground with Russia. The difficulty is how to do so without selling out the democratic, sovereign hopes of Russia’s neighbors.

3. Europe’s lost momentum

Bill Emmott argues in Project Syndicate this week that the European Union’s biggest problem “is not Euroskepticism but indifference.”

He’s partially right: some 72% of French respondents in an opinion poll based on interviews with over 12,000 respondents across the 28 EU countries don’t think they would miss the EU as well as 67% of Italians and 60% of Germans.

That said, the EU also suffers from not having addressed design flaws that hobble it even as it has grown to its current size of 28 member states with 513 million citizens and a GDP of $18.756 trillion.

They include a monetary union without a fiscal union, immigration policies that allowed free movement inside the so-called Schengen Zone but too-porous external borders, and a failure to envision a world where the U.S. is losing interest, Russia remains a problem, and China is remaking global politics and economics.

Europe is “on the edge of a precipice,” Macron told the Economist. “If we don’t wake up … there’s a considerable risk that in the long run we will disappear Geo-politically, or at least we will no longer be in control of our destiny. I believe that very deeply,” he stated.

4. The lack of U.S. vision and strategy

The Berlin Wall’s fall in 1989 – taken together with Soviet collapse and the Cold War’s end – marked an inflection point of history for U.S. leadership globally that one can compare to 1919, the end of World War I, and 1945, the end of World War II, in its potential historic consequences.

U.S. and European leaders failed after 1919 to prevent the rise of European fascism, and then the Holocaust and World War II. The US got it more right than wrong in 1945 after World War II, creating the institutions and principles that paved the way for one of the world’s most sustained periods of relative peace and prosperity.

In his 1989 “A Europe Whole and Free”, President H.W. Bush underscored how “too many in the West, Americans and Europeans alike, seem[ed] to have forgotten the lessons of our common heritage and how the world we know came to be. And that should not be, and that cannot be.”

Thirty years later, the jury is still out on what the post-Cold War period will bring, but none of the post-Cold War presidencies – from President Bill Clinton to President Donald Trump – have yet recognized the stakes or laid out a strategy commensurate to the risks.

Communist China: Huangpu joins up with eBay

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

Huangpu joins up with eBay

China International Import Expo

Huangpu District is to establish a cross-border e-commerce platform with eBay to better serve and expand the effect of the upcoming second China International Import Expo.

The district government signed an agreement with the e-commerce giant on Wednesday to develop the platform to offer financial services, build exhibition and trade centers as well as train professionals for cross-border e-commerce trade.

An innovation, entrepreneurship and R&D center to mainly boost e-commerce export trade will be established in Huangpu along with a full industrial chain, said Yang Dongsheng, deputy director with the district.

Shanghai has become the headquarters of eBay’s cross-border trade business across China, Southeast Asia, Russia and Israel as well as east and north Europe, the company said. Its China headquarters are in Huangpu District.

Huangpu endeavors to help local companies expand their overseas businesses through e-commerce platforms. The cooperation is expected to make Huangpu a downtown center for the city’s e-commerce businesses, Yang said.

E-commerce has become a new way for Chinese products to be sold across the world, said Shen Weihua, deputy director of the city’s commerce commission. International pioneers such as eBay are expected to help the city further open up and upgrade its foreign trade, Shen said.

The city’s export e-commerce volume ranks third in the country following Guangdong and Zhejiang provinces.

Local retailers are exporting through e-commerce platforms to over 70 countries. The top destinations are the United States, the UK, Australia, Germany and Canada.

Many local brands, such as Threegun clothing, have become popular with overseas shoppers, according to eBay. Other popular products from Shanghai include those for home decoration, automobile accessories, clothes, cosmetics and sports products.

The city’s exports of home decoration and car accessories have been rising rapidly on cross-border e-commerce platforms this year along with electric appliances.

China condemns US House approval of bill on Hong Kong

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF COMMUNIST CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

China condemns US House approval of bill on Hong Kong: spokesperson

Xinhua

China on Wednesday expressed strong indignation and firm opposition to the US House of Representatives’ passing of the so-called Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act 2019, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in a press statement.

What Hong Kong faces at present is not the so-called human rights and democracy issues, but the issue of ending violence and chaos, restoring order and upholding the rule of law as soon as possible, spokesperson Geng Shuang said in the statement.

By neglecting the truth and turning white to black, the US House of Representatives called arson, smashing of shops, and violently assaulting police officers as human rights and freedom, which is a stark double standard that fully exposes some Americans’ extreme hypocrisy on human rights and democracy and their malicious intentions to damage the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and contain China’s development, Geng said.

The United States also has important interests in Hong Kong, he said.

“Should the act eventually come into law, it will not only harm the interests of China and the China-US relations, but also severely undermine the interests of the United States,” Geng said.

China will definitely take forceful countermeasures against the wrong decision of the US side in order to firmly safeguard its own sovereignty, security and development interests, the spokesperson said.

“Hong Kong belongs to China and its affairs are purely China’s domestic affairs that brook no foreign interference,” he reiterated.

“We advise the US side to get a clear understanding of the situation, rein in on the brink of the precipice immediately, and cease to promote the subsequent deliberation of the act and interfere in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs immediately,” Geng said.

get the US nowhere

The Office of the Commissioner of the Chinese foreign ministry in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region expressed strong indignation over some US politicians’ actions of passing Hong Kong-related bills at the US House, warning that playing Hong Kong as a card will get the United States nowhere.

Some US politicians have kept bent on passing Hong Kong-related bills including the so-called “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019,” ignoring the facts and confounding right with wrong. By doing so, they have openly endorsed anti-China troublemakers in Hong Kong, tested the red line of the “one country, two systems” principle, grossly interfered with Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs as a whole, and trampled upon international law and basic norms governing international relations, the commissioner’s office said in a statement.

“We express strong indignation over and condemn such actions, which have again exposed the politicians’ gangster logic and hegemonic mindset,” it said.

Communist China: Xi meets Nepali Congress Party chief

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF COMMUNISTS CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

Xi meets Nepali Congress Party chief

Xinhua
Xi meets Nepali Congress Party chief

Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with President of the Nepali Congress Party Sher Bahadur Deuba in Kathmandu, Nepal, Oct. 12, 2019.

Chinese President Xi Jinping met here on Saturday with President of the Nepali Congress Party Sher Bahadur Deuba, expressing the readiness to conduct exchanges and cooperation.

Noting that the Nepali Congress Party enjoys a historical connection with China, Xi said the Chinese people will not forget the Nepali Congress Party’s contributions to the China-Nepal relationship during the party’s ruling period.

Xi said that China and Nepal, as friendly neighbors, have always been good brothers and good friends, adding that no matter which Nepali party is in power, the two countries will maintain stable and friendly relations.

The Chinese leader said the Communist Party of China (CPC) is willing to maintain contacts with the Nepali Congress Party, and further carry out exchanges and cooperation.

Deuba said the Nepali side attaches great importance to developing relations with China, and thanks China for long-term assistance in Nepal’s development and its efforts to safeguard sovereignty and territorial integrity.

He said the Nepali side firmly adheres to the one-China policy, and will never allow any forces to engage in anti-China separatist activities in Nepal.

The Nepali party leader also said he hopes to promote connectivity with the region by jointly building the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.

Deuba added the Nepali Congress Party stands ready to advance friendly interactions with the CPC.

China: Tian’anmen Square decorated for National Day celebrations

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘SHINE’ NEWS OF SHANGHAI CHINA)

 

Tian’anmen Square decorated for National Day celebrations

SHINE

70 Years On

Tian’anmen Square at the heart of Beijing has been decorated to echo festivities of the 70th founding anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, which falls on Tuesday.

Red ribbon-shaped sculptures have been installed on the square to signify the lineage of China’s revolutionary past, present and future. A colossal portrait of Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925), a forerunner of the Chinese democratic revolution, has also been erected on the square.

On the front of the Tian’anmen Rostrum is a giant color portrait of late Chairman Mao Zedong, the founder of New China.

Huge red lanterns were hung atop the newly-refurbished rostrum, flunk by red flags flying above the stands on both sides.

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