Taiwan, Asia’s bastion of free speech

Source: NYT (3/14/18)
Asia’s Bastion of Free Speech? Move Aside, Hong Kong, It’s Taiwan Now.
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By CHRIS HORTON and AUSTIN RAMZY

A view of Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, which has emerged as one of Asia’s most vibrant democracies, drawing the political dissidents and rights groups that once naturally gravitated to Hong Kong. CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

TAIPEI, Taiwan — For decades under British rule and after its handover to China, Hong Kong was a bastion of free speech in the Chinese-speaking world. International media and rights groups established their headquarters there, and it served as a haven for political fugitives, from Tiananmen student leaders to Edward Snowden.

In recent years, however, as Beijing has tightened its grip on the former colony, Hong Kong has been increasingly supplanted by Taiwan, a self-governing island that has emerged as one of Asia’s most vibrant democracies. Taiwan now draws the sorts of dissidents, rights groups and events that once naturally gravitated to Hong Kong. Continue reading

Orientalism Forty Years on–cfp

HONG KONG STUDIES—Issue 3 (Spring 2019) Call for Papers—Special Section on Orientalism Forty Years on; and General Research Papers

The first bilingual and interdisciplinary academic journal on Hong Kong, Hong Kong Studies (Chinese University Press), is now accepting articles for Issue 3 (scheduled for publication in Spring 2019), which will comprise both general research articles on Hong Kong and a special section on Edward Said’s Orientalism. Continue reading

SCMP’s on a soft power mission

Source: NYT (3/31/18)
A Hong Kong Newspaper on a Mission to Promote China’s Soft Power
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By JAVIER C. HERNÁNDEZ

The South China Morning Post’s headquarters in Hong Kong. Scholars and activists worry that The Post is softening its critical stance to please Beijing. CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

HONG KONG — On a recent afternoon, the staff of The South China Morning Post, a 114-year-old newspaper, gathered around roast suckling pig in their lavish new headquarters in Hong Kong to celebrate a remarkable turnaround.

Readership has been surging. The Post has launched new digital products and added dozens of journalists. After more than a decade of decline and editorial chaos, the newsroom now buzzes like a tech start-up, with table tennis and an in-house pub serving free craft beer. Continue reading

Oral history archive of Sunflower Movement

Hi all, I recently released an online, open-source oral history archive of the 2014 Sunflower Movement in Taiwan, compiling interviews with participants at all levels of the movement.

The overall archive is over 300,000 words. The website also contains a detailed day-by-day timeline of the movement, an interactive map of the occupation site, translations of key documents, a dictionary of terms that come up frequently in Taiwanese activist discourse, and other features.

I hope it may be of interest to members.

Brian Hioe <bch2131@columbia.edu>

update on Gui Minhai

Update on the Swedish publisher Gui Minhai, imprisoned in China since October 2015:

The good news is that his daughter Angela accepted the International Publishing Assn. Voltaire prize, for freedom of publishing, for her father currently imprisoned in China. The prize was issued in Delhi. See:

https://publishingperspectives.com/2018/02/gui-minhai-daughter-ipa-congress-freedom-to-publish/   (English)
https://www.svt.se/kultur/gui-minhais-dotter-om-tv-framtradandet-uppenbart-manusfort  (Swedish/English w. video) Continue reading

Update on Gui Minhai

Here is an update on the dramatic new turn for the worse for Gui Minhai, the HK-based published and writer kidnapped from Thailand in October 2015, then detained in China and forced (twice, in 2016) to make fake confessions on Chinese state TV, and detained (while his HK bookstore and publishing business was destroyed and silenced) until mid-October 2017 when the Chinese authorities said he was free.

Gui is a Swedish citizen only, and on Jan. 20, my country’s embassy had arranged for him to travel to our embassy and see a doctor for the grave signs of illness that he has developed while in Chinese detention. On the train there, in the presence of the two Swedish diplomats accompanying him on the trip, Gui was suddenly seized and hauled off by ten plainclothes men. It took China two weeks to acknowledge it was indeed China’s government (and not some random rogue gang) that had seized him again, despite their words. When, finally, China’s government acknowledged thru their own foreign ministry that it did this, they also issued threats against our country, in the manner typical of previous times China has intimidated other countries — such as it recently did to Norway and to others. Continue reading

China confirms arrest of Gui Minhai

Source: Al Jezeera (2/6/18)
China confirms arrest of bookseller Gui Minhai

China confirms arrest of bookseller Gui Minhai

Gui disappeared while on holiday in Thailand in October 2015 [Anthony Wallace/AFP]

An ailing Hong Kong-based bookseller was arrested by Chinese authorities last month for allegedly breaking the law, China’s foreign ministry said.

China confirmed Gui Minhai’s detention for the first time on Tuesday, after his daughter said Chinese police had arrested him in January while he was travelling to Beijing for medical help, accompanied by two Swedish diplomats.

“Gui Minhai broke Chinese law and has already been subjected to criminal coercive measures in accordance with the law by relevant Chinese authorities,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters. Continue reading

Agnes Chow has China worried

Source: The Guardian (2/3/18)
Enemy of the state? Agnes Chow, the 21-year-old activist who has China worried
Hong Kong pro-democracy campaigner who was banned from office says an entire generation of young people is being targeted
By Benjamin Haas in Hong Kong

Agnes Chow

If China has its way, Agnes Chow’s political career will be over before it begins.

The self-described “average schoolgirl” who transformed into a thorn in the side of the Chinese leadership was last week blocked from running for political office in Hong Kong because of her party’s pro-democracy manifesto.

The unprecedented move penalises mere affiliation with a political idea and was designed to prevent Chow and her Demosisto party colleagues from entering the Legislative Council. Continue reading

HKU rallies behind suspended students

Source: Sup China (1/25/18)
Hong Kong University Groups Rally Behind Students Suspended For Protesting Mandarin Test
“We urge the president of other universities to stand out to safeguard free speech and academic freedom at Hong Kong universities”: joint statement from more than 10 Hong Kong university student unions.
By JIAYUN FENG

Andrew Chan Lok-hang 陈乐行 (left) and Lau Tsz-kei 刘子颀, Hong Kong Baptist University students

Lau Tsz-kei 刘子颀, the university’s student union president, and Andrew Chan Lok-hang 陈乐行, a fifth-year student at the HKBU School of Chinese Medicine, were barred from classes for violating the HKBU students’ code of conduct. They were involved in an eight-hour standoff at the school’s language center last week, in which they used foul language and appeared to aggressively confront the staff.

According to Chin, the decision had nothing to do with politics and was made because teachers at the scene felt threatened and insulted by the students’ behavior. He said that both he and the school were facing immense pressure due to the incident — from whom or what, he did not specify — adding that the ongoing disciplinary proceedings would take a few weeks to complete. At one moment during the announcement, Chin appeared to hold back tears. Continue reading

Backreading Hong Kong–cfp

Backreading Hong Kong: A One-Day Symposium (2018)
Call for Papers

The 2018 “Backreading Hong Kong” symposium, co-organised by the Department of English at Hong Kong Baptist University and the literary journal Cha, will take place on Saturday 5 May 2018. We are particularly interested in papers that challenge existing interpretations of any aspect of Hong Kong.

Abstracts of 250 words for 15 to 20-minute presentations can be sent to tammyh@hkbu.edu.hk before 15 March 2018 for consideration. Please also send us a bionote of no more than 100 words. Scholars whose papers have been selected will be notified before 1 April 2018.

The language of the 2018 symposium will be English. We welcome both established and early-career academics to take part. The one-day symposium will also include panel discussions, book presentations, and a poetry reading.

Tammy Ho <tammyh@hkbu.edu.hk>

Is HK really part of China?

Source: NYT (1/1/18)
Is Hong Kong Really Part of China?
By Yi-Zheng Lian

HONG KONG — One could say that long before 1997, the year that Britain handed Hong Kong back to China, the leaders of the city’s major pro-democracy parties had come to a tacit understanding with the Chinese government. The pan-dems, as these politicians are known here, would support the absorption of Hong Kong into a greater, unified Chinese state on the understanding that in time Beijing would grant Hong Kong genuine electoral democracy. That, at least, seemed to be the intention driving Hong Kong’s foundational legal text, the Basic Law. Continue reading

HK rail station to be subject to mainland laws

Source: Reuters (12/27/17)
China says part of Hong Kong rail station to be subject to mainland laws
By Christian Shepherd and Venus Wu

Laborers work in front of West Kowloon Terminus, under construction for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, in Hong Kong, China July 21, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo

BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) – China’s parliament on Wednesday said part of a high-speed railway station being built in Hong Kong would be regarded as mainland territory governed by mainland laws, an unprecedented move that critics say further erodes the city’s autonomy.

Hong Kong reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997, when it was granted a high degree of autonomy under a “one country, two systems” arrangement, giving it a separate police force, immigration controls, an independent judiciary and freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China. Continue reading

Backlash in HK against the ‘Me Too’ campaign

Source: SCMP (12/5/17)
Backlash in Hong Kong against the ‘Me Too’ campaign
There is widespread anxiety among many men that they, too, could be open to accusations over past inappropriate behaviour of which they may or may not be guilty
By Alex Lo

The American-inspired “Me Too” movement encouraging women to speak out against sexual harassment has barely started in Hong Kong and it’s already suffering a backlash.

When star hurdler Vera Lui Lai-yiu first alleged on Facebook that she was molested by her former coach a decade ago, she received widespread sympathy and support. Now, more sceptical voices are emerging. Continue reading

HK artists and activists turn to zines (1)

This is a fascinating story.

I can’t help share an article just published by a student of mine. It’s entitled “Feminist Ephemera in a Digital World: Theorizing Zines as Networked Feminist Practice.” Abstract is here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cccr.12172/abstract

The author of this article also has a fabulous lesson plan about how to teach activism and social movements through the making of zines: http://www.clark-parsons.com/blog/media-activism-and-social-movements-teaching-with-zines

Guobin Yang <guobin.yang@asc.upenn.edu>

HK artists and activists turn to zines

Source: SCMP (11/25/17)
Why Hong Kong artists and activists are turning to zines in the digital age
The independently published ‘pocket-sized works of art’ are undergoing something of a resurgence worldwide. In Hong Kong, with its rich printing history, youngsters have discovered a whole other avenue of expression
BY MANAMI OKAZAKI

A zine by Yiyu Lam depicting the Occupy Central protests as he saw them unfold on television in Britain. Picture: Manami Okazaki

A zine by Yiyu Lam depicting the Occupy Central protests as he saw them unfold on television in Britain. Picture: Manami Okazaki

To the untrained eye, “zines” don’t look like much: pamphlets stapled crudely together, featuring disparate topics and a range of art forms, such as cartoons, illustrations and photography. To collectors, they are pocket-sized works of art, and tools of self-expression.

Zines have been experiencing a resurgence in popularity. Museums, universities and institutions across the United States are championing them, and if any proof of their current popularity were needed, the fact that American rapper Kanye West has produced one – 64 pages of vintage-style photography – should suffice.

Hong Kong, too, with its restive youth, is proving fertile ground. Continue reading