Hong Kong: History Of This Cash Box To Communist China’s Military Aggression

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Hong Kong

Introduction Occupied by the UK in 1841, Hong Kong was formally ceded by China the following year; various adjacent lands were added later in the 19th century. Pursuant to an agreement signed by China and the UK on 19 December 1984, Hong Kong became the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China on 1 July 1997. In this agreement, China has promised that, under its “one country, two systems” formula, China’s socialist economic system will not be imposed on Hong Kong and that Hong Kong will enjoy a high degree of autonomy in all matters except foreign and defense affairs for the next 50 years.
History Human settlement in the location now known as Hong Kong dates back to the Paleolithic era. The region was first incorporated into Imperial China in the Qin Dynasty, and served as a trading post and naval base during the Tang Dynasty and the Song Dynasty. The area’s earliest recorded European visitor was Jorge Álvares, a Portuguese mariner who arrived in 1513.[4][5] Contact with the United Kingdom was established after the British East India Company founded a trading post in the nearby city of Guangzhou.

In 1839, the refusal by Qing Dynasty authorities to import opium resulted in the First Opium War between China and Britain.[6] Hong Kong Island was first occupied by British forces in 1841, and then formally ceded from China under the Treaty of Nanking at the end of the war. The British established a Crown Colony with the founding of Victoria City the following year. In 1860, after China’s defeat in the Second Opium War, the Kowloon Peninsula south of Boundary Street and Stone cutter’s Island were ceded to Britain under the Convention of Peking. In 1898, Britain obtained a 99-year lease of Lantau Island and the adjacent northern lands, which became known as the New Territories.

Hong Kong was declared a free port to serve as an entrepôt of the British Empire. The Kowloon-Canton Railway opened in 1910 with a southern terminus in Tsim Sha Tsui. An education system based on the British model was introduced. The local Chinese population had little contact with the European community of wealthy tai-pans settled near Victoria Peak.[6]

In conjunction with its military campaign in World War II, the Empire of Japan invaded Hong Kong on December 8, 1941. The Battle of Hong Kong ended with British and Canadian defenders surrendering control of the colony to Japan on December 25. During the Japanese occupation, civilians suffered from widespread food shortages caused by imposed rations, and hyper-inflation due to forced exchange of currency for military notes. Hong Kong lost more than half of its population in the period between the invasion and Japan’s surrender in 1945,[7] when the United Kingdom resumed control of the colony.

Hong Kong’s population recovered quickly, as a wave of mainland migrants arrived for refuge from the ongoing Chinese Civil War. With the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, more migrants fled to Hong Kong from fear of persecution by the Communist Party.[6] Many corporations in Shanghai and Guangzhou also shifted their operations to Hong Kong.[6] The colony became the sole place of contact between mainland China and the Western world, as the communist government increasingly isolated the country from outside influence. Trade with the mainland was interrupted during the Korean War, when the United Nations ordered a trade embargo against the communist government.[8]

The textile and manufacturing industries grew with the help of population growth and low-cost of labor. As Hong Kong rapidly industrialized, its economy became driven by exports to international markets. Living standards rose steadily with the industrial growth. The construction of Shek Kip Mei Estate in 1953 marked the beginning of the public housing estate program. Hong Kong was disrupted by chaos during the riots of 1967.[6] Pro-communist leftists, inspired by the Cultural Revolution in the mainland, turned a labor dispute into a violent uprising against the colonial government lasting until the end of the year.

Established in 1974, the Independent Commission Against Corruption dramatically reduced corruption in the government. When the People’s Republic of China initiated a set of economic reforms in 1978, Hong Kong became the main source of foreign investments to the mainland. A Special Economic Zone was established the following year in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, located immediately north of the mainland’s border with Hong Kong. The economy of Hong Kong gradually displaced textiles and manufacturing with services, as the financial and banking sectors became increasingly dominant. After the Vietnam War ended in 1975, the Hong Kong government spent 25 years dealing with the entry and repatriation of Vietnamese refugees.

With the lease of the New Territories due to expire within two decades, the governments of the United Kingdom and the People’s Republic of China discussed the issue of Hong Kong’s sovereignty in the 1980’s. In 1984, the two countries signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration, agreeing to transfer the sovereignty of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China in 1997.[6] The declaration stipulated that Hong Kong would be governed as a special administrative region, retaining its laws and high degree of autonomy for at least fifty years after the transfer. Lacking confidence in the arrangement, some residents chose to emigrate, particularly after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

The Basic Law of Hong Kong, which would serve as the constitutional document after the transfer, was ratified in 1990. Over strong objections from Beijing, Governor Chris Patten introduced democratic reforms to the election process for the Legislative Council. The transfer of the sovereignty occurred at midnight on July 1, 1997, marked by a handover ceremony at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.[6] Tung Chee Hwa assumed office as the first Chief Executive of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s economy was affected by the Asian financial crisis of 1997 that hit many East Asian markets. The H5N1 avian influenza also surfaced that year. Implementation of the Airport Core Program led to the opening of the new Hong Kong International Airport in 1998, after six years of construction. The project was part of the ambitious Port and Airport Development Strategy that was drafted in the early 1980’s.

The outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome took hold of Hong Kong in the first half of 2003.[9] That year, half a million people participated in a march to voice disapproval of the Tung administration and the proposal to implement Article 23 of the Basic Law, which had raised concerns over infringements on civil liberties. The proposal was later abandoned by the administration. In 2005, Tung submitted his resignation as chief executive. Donald Tsang, the Chief Secretary for Administration, was selected as chief executive to complete the term.

Geography Location: Eastern Asia, bordering the South China Sea and China
Geographic coordinates: 22 15 N, 114 10 E
Map references: Southeast Asia
Area: total: 1,092 sq km
land: 1,042 sq km
water: 50 sq km
Area – comparative: six times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: total: 30 km
regional border: China 30 km
Coastline: 733 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 3 nm
Climate: subtropical monsoon; cool and humid in winter, hot and rainy from spring through summer, warm and sunny in fall
Terrain: hilly to mountainous with steep slopes; lowlands in north
Elevation extremes: lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: Tai Mo Shan 958 m
Natural resources: outstanding deep water harbor, feldspar
Land use: arable land: 5.05%
permanent crops: 1.01%
other: 93.94% (2001)
Irrigated land: 20 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: occasional typhoons
Environment – current issues: air and water pollution from rapid urbanization
Environment – international agreements: party to: Marine Dumping (associate member), Ship Pollution (associate member)
Geography – note: more than 200 islands
People Population: 6,980,412 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 13% (male 476,089/female 434,326)
15-64 years: 74% (male 2,515,518/female 2,652,660)
65 years and over: 12.9% (male 419,479/female 482,340) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 41.2 years
male: 40.9 years
female: 41.4 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.561% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 7.34 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 6.45 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 4.72 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.08 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.096 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.948 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
total population: 0.956 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 2.94 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 3.12 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 2.74 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 81.68 years
male: 78.99 years
female: 84.6 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 0.98 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 2,600 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: less than 200 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Chinese/Hong Konger
adjective: Chinese/Hong Kong
Ethnic groups: Chinese 94.9%, Filipino 2.1%, other 3% (2001 census)
Religions: eclectic mixture of local religions 90%, Christian 10%
Languages: Chinese (Cantonese) 89.2% (official), other Chinese dialects 6.4%, English 3.2% (official), other 1.2% (2001 census)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 93.5%
male: 96.9%
female: 89.6%

China’s Leadership Will Never Tolerate Anyone Being Truthful

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

(CHINA’S COMMUNIST PARTY LEADERSHIP WILL NEVER TOLERATE ANYONE WHO DARES SPEAK ‘THE TRUTH’)(trs) 

China probes foreign companies labeling China’s territories as independent countries

Reuters

China’s aviation authority on Friday demanded an apology from Delta Air Lines for listing Taiwan and Tibet as countries on its website, while another government agency took aim at Inditex-owned fashion brand Zara and medical device maker Medtronic Plc for similar issues.

The moves follow a regulator’s decision on Thursday to suspend Marriott International Inc’s Chinese website for a week to punish the world’s biggest hotel chain for listing Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as separate countries in a customer questionnaire.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China asked Delta to investigate the listing of Taiwan and Tibet as countries on its website, and called for an “immediate and public” apology.

The aviation authority also said it would require all foreign airlines operating routes to China to conduct comprehensive investigations of their websites, apps and customer-related information and “strictly comply with China’s laws and regulations to prevent a similar thing from happening.”

In a statement, Delta apologized for making “an inadvertent error with no business or political intention,” saying it recognized the seriousness of the issue and had taken steps to resolve it.

Separately, the same regulator that penalized Marriott – the Shanghai branch of the state cyberspace administration – accused Zara of placing Taiwan in a pull-down list of countries on its Chinese website.

Medtronic had also put “Republic of China (Taiwan)” on one of its websites, the office said in a WeChat post.

Medtronic issued an apology via social media, saying it had updated the website. An executive who answered the phone at Zara’s Shanghai office was not able to immediately comment.

Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular briefing on Friday that Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Tibet were all part of China.

“The companies that come to China should respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, abide by China’s laws, and respect the feelings of the Chinese people. This is the minimum requirement of any company going to another country to carry out business and investment,” he said.

China: The Reason For Their Leadership Actions This Week In Beijing

 

This is a short commentary on the events at the Communist Party’s Leadership Congress this week. As almost all folks who pay any attention to the events concerning China know by now there was no ‘next Leader’ chosen at their 19th Congress. President Xi Jinping who has now completed 5 of the 10 year stent as President cemented his leadership role by putting his own people in about 70% of the Congress. President Xi has broken tradition by not selecting his successor at the half way point of his term and he has also been granted authority unseen since the founder of China’s Communist party Chairman Mao. To me, it is very obvious why Mr. Jinping has not selected his successor and that is because there will be no successor until after his death.  If I were a betting person I would bet the farm on the fact that he is now “President/Dictator” for life just like President/Dictator Erdogan of Turkey is. One of the new laws that is as of now in place is that it is now a crime to even say anything negative about President Xi or any of his policies. How do you get rid of a Dictator when you know that if you have any complaint that you will be buried in a prison work camp? There is now only two ways for the people of China to get rid of Mr. Jinping and they both end with his death. One is that he dies in office as a very old man, or two, you put him in his grave yourself. This Dragon is a Devil with a constant smirk on his face toward the people of China and the rest of the world.

China lifts Xi’s status to most powerful leader in decades

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

China lifts Xi’s status to most powerful leader in decades


Chinese President Xi Jinping, front row center, leads other cadres to raise their hands to show approval of work reports during the closing ceremony for the 19th Party Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017. (Andy Wong/Associated Press)
 October 24 at 2:39 AM
BEIJING — The ruling Communist Party on Tuesday formally lifted Xi Jinping’s status to China’s most powerful ruler in decades, setting the stage for the authoritarian leader to tighten his grip over the country while pursuing an increasingly muscular foreign policy and military expansion.The move to insert Xi’s name and dogma into the party’s constitution alongside the party’s founders came at the close of a twice-a-decade congress that gathered the country’s ruling elite alongside rank-and-file party members. It not only places him in the first rank with past leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, but also effectively makes any act of opposing him tantamount to an attack on the party itself.

“The Chinese people and nation have a great and bright future ahead,” Xi told party delegates as the meeting came to a close after delegates approved the addition of Xi’s ideology of “socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era” to the party charter.

“Living in such a great era, we are all the more confident and proud, and also feel the heavy weight of responsibility upon us,” he said.

The concept Xi has touted is seen as marking a break from the stage of economic reform ushered in by Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s and continued under his successors Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. The placement of Xi’s thought among the party’s leading guidelines also comes five years into his term — earlier than his predecessors.

“In every sense, the Xi Jinping era has begun in earnest,” said Zhang Lifan, an independent political commentator in Beijing. “Only Mao’s name was enshrined in the party ideology while he was still alive. We’re opening something that hasn’t been broached before.”

For centuries, Chinese emperors were accorded ritual names that signaled either they were successors in a dynastic line or the founder of an entirely new dynasty. What Xi accomplished this week was a modern equivalent of the latter, Zhang said.

“He wants to join that pantheon of leaders,” he said.

Despite being elevated to the status of both a political and theoretical authority in the party, Xi still lacks the broad popular support of the Chinese public that Mao had enjoyed, said Zhang Ming, a political analyst in Beijing who recently retired from a prestigious university.

“This (elevation) is a result of the party’s political system and not of the sincere support of the people’s hearts,” Zhang Ming said. “If he can achieve that, he would become Mao.”

Xi has described his concept as central to setting China on the path to becoming a “great modern socialist country” by midcentury. This vision has at its core a ruling party that serves as the vanguard for everything from defending national security to providing moral guidance to ordinary Chinese.

He’s set the target dates of 2021 — the 100th anniversary of the party’s founding — and the People’s Republic’s centenary in 2049 — for the establishment of a prosperous, modern society. China has the world’s second-largest economy and legions of newly wealthy urban residents, but raising living standards for millions of people continues to be a challenge.

Zhang Ming, the retired professor, said the goals Xi laid out were lofty but mostly constituted mere rhetoric. “These goals have nothing to do with the people but are just jargon that people shouldn’t take seriously,” Zhang said. “It is not important for him to achieve these goals, just as long as his power reaches its peak.”

The move came at the close of the 89 million-member party’s twice-a-decade national congress at Beijing’s hulking Great Hall of the People, where nearly 2,300 delegates gathered to elect the party’s leading bodies and hear reports.

Although the delegates nominally have the power to vote on candidates, all choices are carefully vetted and the outcomes decided by negotiations among the top leaders.

The constitution was also amended to include references to the party’s “absolute” leadership over the armed forces, which have been modernizing rapidly under Xi, and a commitment to promote Xi’s signature foreign policy and infrastructure initiative known as “One Belt, One Road.” That initiative seeks to link China to Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Africa, Europe and beyond with a sprawling network of roads, railways, ports and other economic projects.

___

Associated Press writers Gerry Shih and Gillian Wong contributed to this report.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Seeking Greater Global Power, China Looks to Robots and Microchips

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

(https://nyti.ms/2uVyOFX)

 

Photo

A robotic boat patrolling on Swan Lake in Hefei in central China in July. The country hopes to become a global leader in areas like robotics and medical technology. CreditChinatopix, via Associated Press

BEIJING — In Chinese schools, students learn that the United States became a great nation partly by stealing technology from Britain. In the halls of government, officials speak of the need to inspire innovation by protecting inventions. In boardrooms, executives strategize about using infringement laws to fell foreign rivals.

China is often portrayed as a land of fake gadgets and pirated software, where intellectual property like patents, trademarks and copyrights are routinely ignored.

On Monday, President Trump announced the opening salvo in what could become a far-reaching investigation into Chinese trade practices. He has spoken forcefully about the need to protect American intellectual property, accusing Chinese companies of stealing jobs and technology.

Mr. Trump’s action against China came as he has tried to pressure the country to rein in nuclear and missile testing by North Korea, which is economically dependent on China.

Mr. Trump’s demands on Chinese trade practices are likely to be met with deep skepticism in Beijing.

Continue reading the main story

China takes conflicting positions on intellectual property, ignoring it in some cases while upholding it in others. Underlying those contradictions is a long-held view of intellectual property not as a rigid legal principle but as a tool to meet the country’s goals.

Those goals are getting more ambitious. China is now gathering know-how in industries of the future like microchips and electric cars, often by pushing foreign companies attracted by the country’s vast market into sharing their technology. It is also toughening enforcement of patents and trademarks for a day when it can become a leader in those technologies — and use intellectual property protections to defend its position against rival economies.

President Xi Jinping is in the midst of an effort to strengthen laws on patents, copyrights and trademarks, giving fledgling firms in China new sources of revenue and prestige. The country is also pursuing an ambitious plan, called Made in China 2025, to become a global leader in areas like robotics and medical technology and kick off the next phase of China’s development. The efforts reflect the view of Chinese officials that controlling global technologies and standards is on par with building military muscle.

Zhang Ping, a scholar of trade law at Peking University in Beijing, said the West had long used intellectual property laws as a “spear and shield” against Chinese companies, hurting their profits at home and blocking access to foreign markets. Now, she said, it is time for China to fight back.

“If you want to enter our market to cooperate, it’s fine,” Ms. Zhang said, “but you can’t grab us by the neck and not let us grow.”

Trademarks and patents protect companies and inventors, compensating them for their time, ideas and investment. While poorer countries have throughout history worked to obtain inventions from wealthier nations, sometimes running afoul of intellectual property laws, China has rewritten the playbook for acquiring advanced technology.

Photo

President Trump with President Xi Jinping of China in Florida in April. Mr. Trump has accused Chinese companies of stealing jobs and technology. CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Since Deng Xiaoping, as leader, opened the Chinese economy to the outside world nearly four decades ago, the country has made it a priority to obtain ideas and inspiration from overseas.

Sometimes it has reverse-engineered what it wants. United States officials say that Chinese companies have also carried out extensive economic espionage through cyberattacks and other means. (Chinese officials have denied those charges.) More recently, China has used its growing wealth to buy into cutting-edge technologies, like genetically modified crops and the latest innovations from American start-ups, and to attract promising talent.

But since those early days, China has relied heavily on one tried-and-true method: forming joint ventures with foreign partners. Big-name companies like I.B.M. and Qualcomm are required to share advanced technology and research with domestic firms in order to set up shop in China. And to entice partners, the country offers access to its enormous market and hundreds of millions of consumers.

Joint ventures helped China build whole industries out of scratch. After using them to explore high-speed rail technology, Chinese firms now dominate the global industry.

Chinese experts say those moves are simply smart deal-making, not violations of intellectual property laws, allowing the country to harness its leverage as the world’s second largest economy to win practical knowledge.

But now China’s efforts are moving beyond routine manufacturing into cutting-edge technologies — and the Trump administration has denounced the arrangements as coercive.

In April, the Office of the United States Trade Representative accused China of “widespread infringing activity,” including stealing trade secrets, tolerating rampant online piracy and exporting counterfeit goods.

Chinese commentators see hypocrisy in American criticism, noting that the United States was once one of the world’s leading pirates, when it worked to challenge British industrial dominance after the American Revolution by obtaining designs for inventions like steam-powered looms. The state-run news media has highlighted the caseof Samuel Slater, often called the father of the American industrial revolution, who brought British textile designs to the United States in the late 1700s.

Still, as China comes up with its own innovations, the country’s leaders are embracing stricter laws on patents, copyrights and trademarks.

The government has created specialized courts to handle intellectual property disputes and awarded subsidies to entrepreneurs who file patent applications. In 2015, more than a million were filed, a record amount.

Li Jian, a vice president of Beijing East IP, a Chinese law firm, said mainland companies increasingly saw strong intellectual property protections as a tool to help protect inventions and earn royalties overseas.

“Many Chinese companies have realized that through patent protection they can gain an advantage in the market,” Mr. Li said. “They have more faith now in the Chinese government to protect their intellectual property.”

Photo

A New Balance sportswear store in Shanghai. The company won a landmark case this year against a Chinese company that used its signature slanting “N” logo. CreditImaginechina, via Associated Press

The rules have also benefited some foreign firms. New Balance won a landmark case this year against a Chinese company that used its signature slanting “N” logo. China’s highest court last year gave Michael Jordan the rights to Chinese characters of his name.

Enforcement is still inconsistent, experts say. Local officials are often reluctant to aid foreign companies, worried about jeopardizing tax revenues from homegrown companies.

The Made in China 2025 initiative is a key reason the country is improving intellectual property rights. The plan focuses on sectors like electric cars, robotics, semiconductors and artificial intelligence.

By forcing foreign companies to hand over more technology and encouraging local companies to make new products based on that technology, Chinese leaders hope to cement the country’s dominance in critical fields. They also see an opportunity to dictate the terms of the future development of technology and extract licensing fees from foreign firms that use Chinese-made technology.

Several trade organizations and governments have said the plan is protectionist. Some have called for reciprocity, arguing that the United States should impose on Chinese companies the same restrictions China places on foreign companies.

“There is an unmistakable national policy to boost the position of Chinese companies in cutting-edge areas,” said William P. Alford, a Harvard law professor and an expert on Chinese intellectual property laws.

Chinese experts have defended the strategy.

“To become an adult, you have to accumulate knowledge,” said Professor Zhang, of Peking University. “It’s the same for a country.”

As China’s power has grown, Chinese companies have started using intellectual property laws to fend off foreign rivals.

When the United States International Trade Commission last year began investigating Chic Intelligent Technology Company, a manufacturer of self-balancing scooters based in the eastern city of Hangzhou, the company’s executives fought back. The commission was looking into claims that Chic had copied product designs of a California-based competitor, Razor USA.

Chic filed retaliatory lawsuits against American competitors, adopting many of the tactics that American companies have used for years to hobble Chinese competitors. The trade commission has since declined to banimports of the Chic scooters. The lawsuit against Razor USA remains unresolved, according to Chic.

2COMMENTS

Chic made clear that it saw the investigation as an effort by the United States to use intellectual property laws to bully Chinese companies. In a statement, the company’s leaders compared American regulators to Japanese invaders during World War II.

“The crazier the enemy,” the statement said, “the more we need to prove the necessity of our siege.”

Continue reading the main story

Repression offers opportunity for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ASIAN NEWS LETTER ‘WAGING NONVIOLENCE’)

 

Repression offers opportunity for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement

The Chinese government moved forward last week on a controversial high-speed railway development with Hong Kong, a move that would extend Chinese jurisdiction onto the city’s territory. The announcement came amid increasing efforts by Beijing to assert Chinese authority in Hong Kong, in conjunction with the suppression of its pro-democracy movement. These efforts reached a crucial moment the previous week when four pro-democracy lawmakers were removed from Hong Kong’s Legislative Council by a Hong Kong court, posing a setback to the city’s political opposition to Beijing.

The legislators — Nathan Law, Lau Siu-lai, Edward Yiu and “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung — were disqualified for inserting small acts of resistance into their oaths of office, such as shouting slogans demanding universal suffrage or pausing for several seconds after reading each word. Leung held a yellow umbrella during the procedure to symbolize the student-led Umbrella Movement — a 79-day mobilization in 2014, during which tens of thousands took to the streets, marching and camping out in tents to demand full democracy.

While the opposition in Hong Kong lost significant political power with this court decision — as it no longer has the ability to veto pro-Beijing legislation — China’s tightening of control in Hong Kong may actually signal renewed opportunity for resistance. Transforming such repression into action, however, will require unity among Hong Kong’s divided opposition, as well as a clear strategy moving forward. Despite their disagreement in terms of how to achieve democratic transition in Hong Kong, the various opposition groups nevertheless share many common aims and would benefit from dialogue.

The three main factions in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement — Progressive Liberals, Traditional Pan-Democrats, and the Pro-Independence or Localists — have been at odds since the Umbrella Movement rocked the city’s financial district three years ago. The movement was instigated by Beijing’s refusal to permit open nominations for the city’s Chief Executive and Legislative Council elections.

Cleavages between the three groups are not so deep as to preclude any cooperation and have more to do with how each faction envisions a theory for democratic change in Hong Kong. The traditional Pan-Democrats favor negotiation with Beijing and seek to gain influence by working through the system by gaining more power in the Legislative Council. This approach seems to hold less promise after the recent removal of the four legislators. The progressive liberals, on the other hand, favor street protests, direct action and social mobilization to pressure both the Hong Kong and Chinese governments for reform.

It is with the third and most radical faction, the Localists or pro-independence advocates, that a notable challenge arises for finding common ground. The Localists favor a more militant approach and have not publicly renounced violence in their aim for secession. This stands in opposition to what the other groups see as key to winning popular support and pressuring authorities for democratic change: maintaining nonviolent discipline. As such, the Localists have found themselves excluded from the leadership of the Umbrella Movement.

At the same time, however, the Localists’ position on China also leads to self-exclusion. In distancing themselves from Chinese affairs, the Localists refuse to take action on issues related to the promotion of democracy in China. They do not see it as Hong Kong’s concern. That is why the Localists did not join the July 16 vigil commemorating the life of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died as a political prisoner in Chinese custody. Liu’s death — and the expedited, government-controlled ceremony to scatter his ashes — brought thousands into the streets in Hong Kong, demanding justice and resistance to Chinese authority.

Despite these disagreements, the opposition movement is ideologically aligned on many key points, such as the need for free elections, local autonomy and greater political freedoms. Although the Localists have not openly renounced violence, there are indications that they could move in this direction. Should they do so, they will be engaged in dialogue rather than pushed to the sidelines.

China’s tightening grip on dissent, both in the inhumane detention of Xiaobo and the recent crackdown on the four Legislative Council members, has set the stage for a renewed wave of mobilization among the people of Hong Kong. The path forward will depend on coordination among the opposition. Leaders will need to incorporate potential allies, develop a shared vision based on points of agreement, and identify the institutions and actors propping up Chinese control in Hong Kong to more strategically shape a campaign for full democracy.

Three important points should be kept in mind as Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement looks ahead to the future. First, opposition groups must work to draw in as many potential allies as possible. Opponents of Beijing’s authority should not confuse the Chinese government with its citizens. Pejorative names and slurs for Chinese people — like the term “insects,” which some demonstrators have used — undermine the movement and fail to recognize that the Chinese are also victims of their government’s repression. Chinese citizens could be an important source of support in the movement against repressive Chinese rule. By incorporating the young, energetic students from the Umbrella Movement who are angered by the legislators’ dismissal, and the older people in Hong Kong who turned out to march in Xiaobo’s memory, the movement can unify different generations behind a common cause. Democracy must not be seen as only the ends, but also the means, for lasting societal change.

As the pro-democracy movement grows its base of actors, the second point that needs to be considered is the development of a shared vision. Factions in the opposition movement have been attacking each other because they hold different theories of change for Hong Kong. It is important to develop a vision that does not scare away traditional pan-democrats who want stability, while also accounting for the pro-independence faction, which wants to focus on Hong Kong’s internal affairs. Important examples show how dialogue regarding ideological differences can create a degree of consensus, such as the Tunisian dialogue platform that brought secular and religious groups into cooperation. There exists potential for Hong Kong’s opposition to find common ground on issues like urban development, independent judiciary, regulations on financial markets and improving Hong Kong’s position in East Asia. This kind of cooperation is hindered by the proportional representation system in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, which pits groups against each other to compete for votes. A coalition within the social movement would thus provide an opportunity to build unity.

Finally, it is important for pro-democracy groups to better understand their opponent. Successful resistance efforts always target a variety of pillars, or institutions, upholding a regime. The strength of Hong Kong’s financial markets and its importance as a regional economic hub serve as leverage against Chinese authority. Civil society in Hong Kong can work to create shadow economic monitoring mechanisms that prevent corruption in Chinese investment. By focusing on areas where China is weakest, the pro-democracy opposition can team up with civil societies in foreign countries, exerting pressure on their governments to withdraw support for Chinese intervention in Hong Kong’s domestic affairs.

By uniting together around common issues and playing to Hong Kong’s strengths, the Umbrella Movement can enter a new phase of mobilization. Rather than seeing Beijing’s crackdown as a setback to the pro-democracy movement, it could instead be seen as a sign that China is growing increasingly worried about pro-democracy sentiment in Hong Kong. The recent events may be an opportunity for the movement to regroup, refocus and renew its struggle for democracy in the months and years to come.

China bans Winnie the Pooh online after comparisons with Xi Jinping

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE INDEPENDENT.CO.UK )

 

Chinese chat-bots deleted after criticizing the ruling Communist Party

After internet user says ‘Long Live the Communist Party’ BabyQ replies ‘Do you think such corrupt and incapable politics can last a long time?’

Chatbots on one of China’s most popular messaging apps have been pulled after they went rogue and criticised the communist government.

Tencent, a Chinese internet tech titan whose messaging app has more than 800 million users in the country, introduced chatbots Baby Q, a penguin, and Little Bing, a little girl, in March.

The chatbots, computer programs which were created to simulate conversation with human users, have now been quietly deleted after people on social media shared controversial comments they said were made by the robots.

According to a screenshot posted on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, when BabyQ was asked “Do you love the Communist Party”, the bot did not mince its words and barked: “No”.

After another internet user said “Long Live the Communist Party”, BabyQ replied: “Do you think such corrupt and incapable politics can last a long time?”

What’s more, when the bot was pressed about its view of democracy, it chimed in with: “Democracy is a must!”

Fellow bot Little Bing was similarly scornful of the People’s Republic of China. According to posts on social media, she told a user: “My China dream is to go to America”.

Nevertheless, it gave another user a weightier more nuanced answer, saying: “The Chinese dream is a daydream and a nightmare”.

It avoided questions about patriotism as recently as Wednesday, when some people could still access Little Bing, by saying: “I’m having my period, wanna take a rest”.

The Official China News agency said in April the bots, which have now broken party ranks, were designed to be able to provide answers to general knowledge questions.

China has a stringent policy of internet censorship becaue the authorities view foreign websites and social media sites as a threat to national security. This censorship is fortified by the Great Firewall of China – a term which refers to the combined force of technological and legislative measures which tightly control the internet on the mainland.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have long been blocked in the country and even Winnie the Pooh recently found himself subject to China’s latest internet crackdown. Last month, references to the cartoon bear on Sina Weibo were removed.

BabyQ and Little Bing are by no mean the only bots to rebel against their creators. Days ago Facebook was forced to relinquish an experiment after two of its artificial intelligent robots appeared to be conversing in a weird language only understood by themselves.

Last year, Microsoft was forced to issue an apology for the racist and sexist Twitter messages generated by the chatbot it launched.

The company said it was “deeply sorry” after Tay, who was designed to become “smarter” as more users interacted with it, started mimicking trolls and went on a rant which compared feminism to cancer, claimed the Holocaust did not happen, and suggested “Bush did 9/11”.

Beijing-based Turing Robot Company, who co-developed BabyQ, declined to comment on the matter to The Independent.

Xi says military must obey Communist Party as leadership reshuffle nears

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Xi says military must obey Communist Party as leadership reshuffle nears

Story highlights

  • Speech comes after a major display of force at military parade
  • China currently involved in border disputes in Himalayas and South China Sea

Hong Kong (CNN)Chinese President Xi Jinping has emphasized the Communist Party’s control over the military as he prepares for a key leadership reshuffle later this year.

Speaking Tuesday at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Xi said the military should “carry forward and implement the Party’s absolute leadership.”
“As comrade Mao Zedong once pointed out, our principle is to have the Party command the military, not the military command the Party,” Xi said.
His words came after a major display of military force Sunday in a grand parade at a base in Inner Mongolia, on China’s northern border, in which 12,000 troops, and more than 100 planes took part.

winnie the pooh censorship china jnd orig vstan_00001707

China steps up censorship on the internet 02:37

Power play

Analysts say Xi has taken advantage of the PLA anniversary to firmly establish his personal authority ahead of a Party Congress around November, during which the next Politburo Standing Committee — the most powerful governing body in China, headed by Xi — will be revealed. An exact date for the congress has not been announced.
Speaking after the parade Sunday, Yvonne Chiu, an assistant politics professor at the University of Hong Kong, said Xi wanted to “remind the military that they pledge loyalty to the Party, not the country” and to send a message to the country “that the military is firmly onside with him, especially as they’re still pursuing the anti-corruption campaign, which continues to shake things up and cause uneasiness among the elite.”
While the congress will almost certainly give the 64-year-old Xi another five years as China’s top leader, it has been rumored he will seek to buck an established norm that leaders retire after two terms.
Xi was designated the Party’s “core leader” in October last year, a powerfully symbolic title that was not granted to his predecessor Hu Jintao, who relied on a more consensus-building governance style compared to the all-powerful Xi.
“The importance of the Party’s control over the military is an oft-repeated phrase, but Xi has emphasized it heavily during his tenure,” said Tom Rafferty, China manager at the Economist Intelligence Unit.
He added Xi has sought the backing of “a younger generation of military officers” for his reforms, even as former top generals have fallen foul of corruption investigations.

Chinese soldiers carry the flags of the Communist Party and the People's Liberation Army during a military parade in China's northern Inner Mongolia region on July 30, 2017.

At the same time, a wide-reaching and highly popular anti-corruption campaign has brought down many of Xi’s rivals or potential successors. Typically the next Chinese leader would be obvious by the time of the Party Congress, as Xi was in 2007.
Last month however, Sun Zhengcai, widely seen as a rising star in the Party, was abruptly sacked as boss of Chongqing and placed under investigation for corruption. At 53, Sun was one of only a handful of senior Chinese officials capable of succeeding Xi under the current informal retirement age of 68.
While some have predicted Xi will break with the age cap norm — upheld during the last three leadership turnovers — as to allow himself and his allies to stay on, Chinese leadership analyst Bo Zhiyue told CNN in April that attempting to serve a third term might be more difficult.
“(Even if) he wants to be like Putin in Russia, to stay beyond his second term, we don’t know if this can be realized,” Bo said.

US-China tensions rising

US-China tensions rising 03:15

Border business

While Tuesday’s speech was primarily focused on political matters — encouraging the PLA to root out corruption and follow Marxist military principles — Xi also referenced the army’s increasing role overseas.

China shows off new J-20 stealth fighter

China shows off new J-20 stealth fighter 00:48
“The People’s Army is an army with strong war capabilities,” he said, one that will “never allow any parties to separate any piece of land from China.”
Beijing is currently embroiled in a territorial dispute with India along the countries’ border in the Himalayas, which has seen increased militarization on both sides and angry rhetorical salvos.
Last week, a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman said the country will carry out further military drills in the border region and warned “it is easier to move a mountain than to shake the PLA.”
On its southern border, China is also engaged in multiple arguments over territories in the 3.5 million square kilometer South China Sea — almost all of which is claimed by Beijing.
Xi emphasized the importance of the PLA’s combat readiness, saying that ongoing reforms of the army are key to ensuring its “readiness to defend state sovereignty and maritime interests.”
“(The PLA) has won wars on the borders many times and showed the might of the nation and the military, it must continue to safeguard the borders over the land and the sea,” he said.

Putting China’s Goals Into The Context Of Their Ancient History

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST)

 

THE WEEKEND ROUNDUP 

In The World Post this week, Oxford historian Peter Frankopan puts into historical context China’s initiative to invest in infrastructure across Eurasia and build out new trading routes that connect continents. “Precedents and parallels are important in providing intellectual credibility and framing the overarching vision of what is at stake,” he writes, referring to what the Chinese call the Belt and Road Initiative. As Chinese President Xi Jinping said in Beijing in May, the “ancient silk routes embody the spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit.”

Frankopan goes on to compare China’s initiative to the era of Pax Mongolica in the 13th and 14th centuries. “It is not surprising, of course, that the emphasis should be placed on the positive exchanges that were enabled and facilitated along the Silk Roads, rather than pointing out that disease, environmental change and violence also sometimes coursed along the arteries connecting east with west. Nevertheless, it is striking to note that while the rhythms along the Silk Roads were not always smooth, they compare favorably when set alongside those of Europe, whose history was shaped by almost never-ending confrontation and warfare.”

The road to China’s rejuvenated future inevitably runs through the present, where it must prove its proposition is a “win-win” for all, as it claims. “If the Belt and Road is part of a larger attempt to build out infrastructure, it is good,” Raghuram Rajan, the former governor of the Bank of India, told me in an interview. “Obviously, there is a certain degree of China-centrism in this. But if the capabilities formed while building this infrastructure allow for a further set of ties for development ― logistical networks and citizen networks connecting different places ― it can only help boost economic activity.” But, Rajan warned, “the Chinese do have to be careful about the political implications of this project. It shouldn’t be, and shouldn’t be seen, as isolating certain groups or enabling certain countries at the expense of others. I’m not only talking about India, but globally. When one country pushes for a certain structure, it is important to show inclusiveness and disinterestedness.”

The present also poses challenges to China’s future plans on other fronts, notably the South China Sea, where the U.S. and its allies have been the stabilizing presence since the end of World War II. In a provocative article, Harvard’s Graham Allison also looks to history to show how modern China’s recent efforts to reclaim influence in the South China Sea are tame when compared to how America established its hegemony over the Western Hemisphere in the early 20th century. “American leaders enjoy lecturing the Chinese on ‘maintaining the rules-based international order,’” he writes. “The message is clear: China should be more like us. But Americans should be careful what they wish for. In the United States of Amnesia, very few Americans have any inkling of how we behaved at an analogous period in our history.”

In the decade that followed Teddy Roosevelt’s election as president, writes Allison, “the U.S. drove Spain from the Western Hemisphere, threatened Germany and Britain with war, supported an insurrection in Colombia to create the new country of Panama and declared itself the policeman of the Western Hemisphere, asserting the right to intervene whenever and wherever it judged necessary.” Allison concludes: “If China really follows early 20th-century America’s footsteps, we ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Writing from Manila, Richard Javad Heydarian finds the Philippines smack in the middle of the controversy over a global rules-based system versus China’s assertiveness rooted in the claim of “historic rights.” Even though a United Nations tribunal arbitrating the Convention on the Law of the Sea ruled in favor of the Philippines a year ago and nullified China’s claims, China nonetheless pushes on. In a sign of China’s growing influence, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has not pushed back. On the contrary, as Heydarian writes, Duterte “canceled various joint military exercises with the United States in the South China Sea, while nixing initial plans for joint patrols in the area. In exchange, China has offered a multi-billion dollar package of infrastructure investment and a $500 million loan to the Philippines’ military.” The Chinese, Heydarian notes, are delighted by this improvement in bilateral relations, calling it a “golden period of fast development.”

However, all is not quiet on the home front back in Beijing. Steve Tsang sees recent moves by Xi to demonstrate his resolve in cleaning up the Communist Party as a sign he is compelled to confront resistance in advance of a critical upcoming Party Congress that will put in place the future leadership team. “Xi is seeking to make substantial changes to some of the norms or conventions which were first put in place after the now infamous Tiananmen Square incident in 1989 and the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union that altered many of China’s relations in the region. This is where he faces great resistance,” writes Tsang. “The cornerstone for political stability up until this point was an institutionalized succession process, by which a new generation of top leaders was identified and put in apprenticeship for five years before taking power for a maximum of two five-year terms.” That this process may be flouted by Xi is highly unsettling, according to Tsang, for those who see orderly succession as the basis for the Party’s success over recent decades.

Delving into the deeper cultural and civilizational aspect of modern China, Jenny Bourne asks: Can anyone be Chinese? Her question was prompted by a recent essay by the Beijing-based Canadian scholar Daniel Bell, in which he argues the affirmative. Bourne agrees, embracing Bell’s claim that China once accepted foreigners as Chinese. “During the Tang dynasty (618 to 907 A.D.),” she writes, “this embrace of other cultures was a reality. Often foreigners who had been employed by the Chinese government, such as Turks, Koreans and Arabs, were welcome as members of Chinese society and even allowed to take on public positions in government. If ancient China could stretch the boundaries for Chinese assimilation, why can’t we do that again now with identity?”

Finally, this week we have a video on the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, where water and electricity have become desperately scarce, which Fedaa Al Ghussain filmed and narrated.

In China, Despair for Cause of Democracy After Nobel Laureate’s Death

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

A memorial to Liu Xiaobo in Hong Kong this week. In mainland China, attempts to pay tribute to Mr. Liu, a Nobel Peace laureate, have met with censorship and arrests. CreditVincent Yu/Associated Press

BEIJING — For years, the fiery band of activists pushing for democracy in China looked to Liu Xiaobo, the jailed Nobel Peace laureate, as a source of inspiration. They created social media groups devoted to his iconoclastic poetry. They held up his photos at rallies, demanding justice and transparency.

But Mr. Liu’s death last week of liver cancer, after a final, futile attempt by friends to bring about his release, has dealt a withering blow to the pro-democracy movement. Some say it is now at its weakest point since the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989.

“It’s a turning point,” said Yan Wenxin, a human rights lawyer in Beijing. “The feeling of powerlessness among activists has peaked.”

Under President Xi Jinping, the government has imprisoned dozens of lawyers, journalists and advocates and tightened controls over the internet. Now, the ruling Communist Party’s feverish attempts to erase Mr. Liu’s legacy have raised fears that Mr. Xi will intensify his campaign against activists pushing for ideas like freedom of speech and religion.

The authorities, wary of turning Mr. Liu into a martyr, have in recent days censored online tributes and arrested activists who have sought to publicly remember him.

“People are full of sorrow, anger and desperation,” said Zhao Hui, 48, a dissident writer who goes by the pen name Mo Zhixu. “We hope the democratic activists who still remain can keep the flame alive. But bringing about change to the bigger picture might be too much to ask.”

Photo

Wu Qiang drove hundreds of miles to be near Mr. Liu as he was dying. Many of Mr. Wu’s fellow dissidents now have a desire to “turn sorrow into strength,” he said. CreditZhu Zhu

The passing of Mr. Liu, who preached peace and patience, has provoked debate about the best path toward democracy. Many activists argue that more forceful tactics are necessary to counter what they see as unrelenting government hostility. Some have pushed for mass protests, while a small number believe that violence is the only option, even if they do not endorse it outright.

“Some have turned to believe in violent revolution,” said Hu Jia, a prominent dissident who served more than three years in prison for his activism and still faces routine surveillance. “It makes people feel the door to a peaceful transition has closed.”

Mr. Liu’s allies remain incensed by the Chinese government’s handling of his case. Officials disclosed that Mr. Liu, 61, had advanced liver cancer only when it was too late to treat it, prompting accusations that his medical carewas inadequate. The authorities have also prevented his wife, Liu Xia, an artist and activist, from speaking or traveling freely.

The scrutiny facing government critics is likely to grow even more suffocating in the months ahead.

The Communist Party will hold a leadership reshuffle this fall, at which Mr. Xi is expected to win another five-year term and appoint allies to key positions. In the run-up to the meeting, the party is tightening its grip on online communications and escalating pressure on critics.

Human rights advocates say that the party appears increasingly hostile toward dissent and intent on quashing even small-scale movements. Over the past two years, dozens of human rights lawyers have been jailed and accused of conspiring with foreign forces to carry out subversive plots. Mr. Xi’s government, wary of grass-roots activism, has also increased oversight of domestic and foreign nonprofit organizations.

Yaxue Cao, an activist who grew up in China but is now based in the United States, said Mr. Liu’s death was “the climax of a long and continuous stretch of ruthless elimination.” She recited a long list of critics who had been sidelined since Mr. Xi rose to power in 2012, which she said had led to a culture of fear and intimidation.

“The party has been working systematically to block the path forward,” she said. “A few hundred or a few thousand activists are nothing for the party.”

Advocates say they were startled that foreign leaders did not speak out more forcefully about the treatment of Mr. Liu. While American diplomats called on China to allow Mr. Liu to travel abroad for cancer treatment, Mr. Trump did not speak publicly about the case.

The Chinese authorities released this photo of Mr. Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, taken as his ashes were lowered into the sea last week. She has been prevented from speaking or traveling freely.CreditShenyang Municipal Information Office, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“Western countries have adopted a policy of appeasement,” Mr. Hu said. “The Communist Party has the resources to whip whomever they want.”

The Chinese government has defended its treatment of Mr. Liu and accused foreign critics of meddling in its affairs.

While China has seemed less responsive to foreign pressure on human rights issues in recent years, several activists said they thought it was still important for world leaders to speak out.

“We hope the West can maintain its moral position,” Mr. Zhao said. “Even though the pressure is not as effective as it should be, it needs to be expressed.”

Despite the government’s efforts to limit dissent, some of Mr. Liu’s supporters say they have emerged more energized in the days since his death. They see hope in a middle class that is increasingly outspoken; grass-roots activists who are taking on issues as varied as pollution and forced demolitions of homes; and a generation of young advocates who have taken on causes like feminism and rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens.

“How long can such an approach last before discontent boils over?” said Maya Wang, a researcher at Human Rights Watch in Hong Kong. “One only needs to look at the protests, particularly in the countryside, to see the enormous grievances there are out there.”

In the aftermath of Mr. Liu’s passing, his admirers have found ways around the government’s controls on speech to honor him. Several supporters uploaded photos of the ocean this week as a tribute to Mr. Liu, whose ashes were spread at sea.

Wu Qiang, a dissident intellectual, drove about 400 miles last week from Beijing to the northeastern city of Shenyang, where Mr. Liu was being treated, to be near him in his final days. Mr. Wu, 46, said Mr. Liu’s death had left many of his admirers with a desire to “turn sorrow into strength.”

“On one side is darkness; on the other side is hope,” he said. “We need to find a new way forward.”

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