Ma Jian at the HK literary festival

Source: NYT (11/10/)
Ma Jian, Exiled Chinese Novelist, Hails Appearance as Victory for Rights
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
By Mike Ives

Ma Jian, center, said the totalitarian society George Orwell predicted in “1984” had been “completely and totally” realized in China.CreditCreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

HONG KONG — An exiled Chinese novelist spoke at a literary festival in Hong Kong on Saturday, two days after his appearance had been briefly canceled in a move that was widely seen as the latest erosion of freedoms in the semiautonomous city.

The writer, Ma Jian, whose appearances at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival were reinstated at the last minute, said the reversal “proves the failure” of self-censorship.

Mr. Ma, a British citizen who lives in exile in London, said on Saturday that a robust literary culture helps to “safeguard the bottom line of our civilization.” Continue reading

Court jails prosecutors over death in custody

Source: SCMP (10/24/18)
China jails former prosecutors over tortured Hong Kong businessman Stephen Lau’s death in custody
Tianjin court hands down tough sentences of up to 15 years for intentional assault, extorting confession by torture and dereliction of duty. Reason for Hong Kong hotel owner’s interrogation still a mystery
By Guo RuiChoi Chi-yuk

Hong Kong businessman Stephen Lau Hei-wing shown in June 2009, leaving the High Court after testifying. A Chinese court has jailed nine former prosecutors over his death in custody last year. Photo: KY Cheng

A Chinese court has jailed nine former prosecutors for up to 15 years over the case of Hong Kong businessman and hotel owner Stephen Lau Hei-wing, who was tortured to death in custody last year.

The Tianjin No 1 Intermediate People’s Court handed down the sentences on Tuesday, giving the nine defendants, most of them from Yanbian prefecture in Jilin province, less than two weeks to appeal the decision.

According to a copy of the verdict seen by the South China Morning Post, lead interrogator Xu Xuezhe was jailed for 15 years and another defendant, Zhou Qingjun, for 11 years for intentional assault. Six others were sentenced to between 15 months and three years behind bars for extorting confession by torture. The ninth defendant, head of the investigation team Zhao Bozhong, was sentenced to four years for dereliction of duty. Continue reading

HK, Zhuhai, Macao bridge opens

Source: NYT (10/23/18)
China Opens Giant Sea Bridge Linking Hong Kong, Macau and Mainland
By Austin Ramzy

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge on Monday. The project includes a four-mile tunnel west of Hong Kong’s airport.CreditCreditKin Cheung/Associated Press

HONG KONG — China officially opened the world’s longest sea bridge on Tuesday after China’s leader, Xi Jinping, and local officials inaugurated the 34-mile structure, which crosses the Pearl River Delta to link Hong Kong with Macau and the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai.

The project, which includes sections of bridge and artificial islands linked by a four-mile tunnel west of Hong Kong’s airport, went billions of dollars over budget and was delayed by two years. Chinese officials expect the bridge to significantly cut driving time between the two sides of the Pearl River, helping to achieve their vision of a Greater Bay Area, as China calls the effort to knit the region’s cities more closely.

Plans for the opening ceremony were announced just days beforehand, apparently timed to coincide with Mr. Xi’s first trip to the southern province of Guangdong in nearly six years. Mr. Xi’s contribution to the opening event, on an artificial island holding Zhuhai’s port facilities, was modest.

[Go deeper: China has built hundreds of dazzling new bridges, including the longest and highest, but many have fostered debt and corruption.]

President Xi Jinping of China at the opening of the bridge in Zhuhai, China, on Tuesday.CreditAly Song/Reuters

“I declare the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is formally open,” he said, after comments by Vice Premier Han Zheng and local officials, including the leaders of Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong Province. Then digital fireworks exploded on a screen behind him.

Why was the bridge built?

The Pearl River Delta — which includes the financial center of semiautonomous Hong Kong, the tech hub of Shenzhen and manufacturing areas in several other mainland cities, including Dongguan — is a powerful economic engine for China. That status was bolstered by transportation projects like a highway linking the eastern cities in the 1990s.

The western side of the river, which includes the former Portuguese colony and gambling hub of Macau, is comparatively less developed. Local leaders hope the bridge will expand the potential for growth in the area, by easing access to cheaper land on the western side and ports and other infrastructure to the east.

Critics of the project say its goals are more political than economic, aiding efforts by China’s central government to bind the former colonies of Hong Kong and Macau more tightly with the rest of the country.

How much did it cost?

The 14-mile main span cost $7 billion. The Hong Kong government spent $13.7 billion more on tunnels and border-crossing facilities on an artificial island near the city’s airport.

At least 10 workers were killed during the nine years of construction, and environmentalists have raised concerns about potential harm to endangered Chinese white dolphins.

Members of a marine mammal research group looking for Chinese white dolphins near the bridge off Lantau Island in Hong Kong in May. Concerns have been raised about the bridge’s potential harm to the dolphins.CreditBobby Yip/Reuters

The construction was also dogged by corruption, with 19 people facing criminal charges over faked concrete tests.

The kickoff of the bridge comes one month after the opening of a high-speed-rail station in Hong Kong, which was controversial because it allows mainland police officers to operate in the heart of the former British colony for the first time.

What is special about it?

The structure required more than 400,000 tons of steel. It is raised to allow for ships to pass underneath. But because the bridge enters Hong Kong next to the city’s airport, the eastern sections were built according to strict height limits, and a four-mile undersea tunnel links the Hong Kong side to the main bridge span.

Since vehicles are driven on the right side of the road in mainland China and the left side in Hong Kong and Macau, the bridge includes a couple of points where drivers change sides.

Shuttle bus attendants on Friday in Hong Kong at a port building leading to the new bridge.CreditAlex Hofford/EPA, via Shutterstock

Who will use it?

Private cars will have limited access to the bridge, with special permits required to drive the entire distance. The Hong Kong government produced an animated video listing the requirements. “It is simple and convenient,” the narrator says unconvincingly.

Most travelers will cross on shuttle bus lines. Large parking lots have been built on either end for private cars. Government estimates for traffic by the year 2030 have been scaled back to 126,000 passengers daily from about 172,000.

The mainland city of Shenzhen, just north of Hong Kong, is building its own competitor bridge across the Pearl River that is expected to open in 2023.

HK education chief waffles on language policy

Source: SCMP (10/9/18)
Hong Kong education chief says he doesn’t want to force schools to teach Mandarin over Cantonese, as critics claim Beijing is trying to control what city’s children learn
Kevin Yeung forced to clarify earlier remarks as backlash against China’s influence over what is taught in city grows
By Kimmy Chung

Kevin Yeung, the Secretary for Eduction, has had to clarify remarks he made suggesting Mandarin should be taught in schools over Cantonese. Photo: Nora Tam 

Hong Kong’s education chief has been forced to clarify twice in two days that he had no intention of forcing schools to teach Mandarin, in what critics say reflected the sensitivity surrounding language in the city.

Kevin Yeung Yun-hung was strongly criticised on Sunday after he suggested experts look into whether Mandarin, which is the official language in mainland China, should be taught instead of Cantonese, which is the dialect spoken in Hong Kong.

Yeung came under fire when he noted, “the future development of Chinese language learning across the globe will rely mainly on Mandarin”. Continue reading

New train blurs line btw China and HK

Source: The Guardian (10/4/18)
‘This is part of the plan’: new train blurs line between China and Hong Kong
The $11bn high-speed Vibrant Express connects Hong Kong with mainland China in 20 minutes for the first time – and the city’s residents are nervous
By Lily Kuo

The Hong Kong and China flags outside the West Kowloon station in Hong Kong.

‘They want us to go to China and work’ … The Hong Kong and China flags outside the newly built West Kowloon station in Hong Kong. Photograph: Jerome Favre/EPA

Inside the newly built West Kowloon terminus, it’s hard to know where Hong Kong stops and China begins.

A restaurant on one floor is technically on Hong Kong soil. Just below it, a duty-free shopping area belongs to neither government. Meanwhile, the VIP lounge one level down from that is Chinese territory.

In the open space of this cavernous train station, you can stand on Hong Kong territory (the ticketing floor) and look down into Chinese territory (the departure hall). Outside the station, the Chinese and Hong Kong flags fly side by side – with the red-and-white Hong Kong flag set slightly lower. Continue reading

PolyU democracy wall row

Source: SCMP (10/2/18)
PolyU democracy wall row escalates as ‘student tears down’ paper covering Hong Kong independence messages
Incident happens a day before deadline in ultimatum to institution given by student union to remove the red paper
By Su Xinqi

The fight over control of a bulletin board at Hong Kong Polytechnic University escalated on Tuesday after a large piece of red paper that management used to cover pro-independence messages was reportedly torn down by a student.

The incident happened a day before the deadline in an ultimatum issued to university staff by the student union and 37 other campus groups. They called for the removal of the red paper by noon on Wednesday.

The board, also known as the democracy wall, was for students to post notices to express their views.

The row started after the union, which manages the wall, relaxed rules on Monday last week, following an unprecedented government ban against the separatist Hong Kong National Party. Continue reading

HK bans pro-independence party

Source: The Guardian (9/23/18)
Hong Kong bans pro-independence party as China tightens grip
Hong Kong National Party banned in the interests of ‘national safety’
Bu Lily Kuo

Pro-democracy activists march against a proposal to ban the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party in July

Pro-democracy activists march against a proposal to ban the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party in July Photograph: Jérôme Favre/EPA

In an unprecedented move, Hong Kong has banned a pro-independence political party, causing outcry among critics who see the measure as another sign of the China’s tightening grip over the city.

On Monday, Hong Kong’s security bureau announced it had upheld a police request to ban the Hong Kong National Party (HKNP), a well-known but small group that promotes the city’s independence from China.

“I hereby order that the operation or continued operation of the Hong Kong National Party in Hong Kong to be prohibited,” a notice from the security minister said on a government website. Continue reading

HK cinema MOOC

The “rerun” of Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Hong Kong cinema will begin on 11 September 2018 (Tuesday). This is a great opportunity for you to understand Hong Kong cinema’s uniqueness and its continuing impact in transforming other national cinemas.

MOOC description

This pioneering online experience is under the direction of internationally-recognized film studies scholars Professor Gina Marchetti and Dr. Aaron Han Joon Magnan-Park from the HKU Department of Comparative Literature and Dr. Stacilee Ford from the HKU Department of History and American Studies Program with the creative assistance of HKU Technology-Enriched Learning Initiative (TELI).

The course explores globalization through Hong Kong cinema featuring crisp analyses of the actors and filmmakers whose lives and films connect the local Hong Kong scene to global histories, events, and trends. Throughout the six-week course, students will encounter stars including Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Maggie Cheung as well as award-winning directors such as John Woo, Mabel Cheung, Andrew Lau, and Wong Kar Wai. Each week a new film showcases talents, themes, and local-global connections. Continue reading

HK moves to crush pro-independence party

Source: SupChina (7/17/18)
Hong Kong moves to crush pro-independence party
By Lucas Niewenhuis

It has been little more than two years since the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party was founded. According to reports today, the Hong Kong government seems intent on making sure it doesn’t live to see two and a half.

  • This morning, police officers visited the home of Andy Chan Ho-tin 陳浩天, the leader of the party, and gave him documents that indicated the government wanted the party “banned from operating using the Societies Ordinance on the grounds of national and public security,” the Hong Kong Free Press reports.
  • The party was then given a 21-day ultimatum by Hong Kong’s security secretary, John Lee, who challenged the party “to justify why it should not be banned,” the Hong Kong Free Press says.
  • Hong Kong’s “Societies Ordinance,” specifically section 8(1)(a), allows the government to break up any group of one or more if it believes that it is “necessary in the interests of national security or public safety, public order or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”
  • This is the first time since 1997 — the year Beijing officially gained sovereignty over Hong Kong — that section 8(1)(a) of the Societies Ordinance has been applied. Pro-democracy camp convener lawmaker Charles Mok noted that the law was intended to crack down on organized crime Triads, and that it was “rather ridiculous” to use it to censor political speech.
  • If the party is banned, a fine of HK$50,000 ($6,370) and two years in prison will be applied to any person who attends meetings of the party or donates money to it.
  • Chan had tried to register the political party in March 2016 when it was founded, but had been rejected by the Companies Registry for “political reasons.” Chan was later himself barred from standing for election in the city, after he refused to renounce his pro-independence position.

Continue reading

Feature on HK lit in Words Without Borders

List members may be interested in a feature on fantastic Hong Kong literature that appears in the latest issue of Words Without Borders:

The full issue can be found here:
https://www.wordswithoutborders.org/issue/june-2018-queer

Jennifer Feeley jenniferlf21@gmail.com

Tiananmen vigil in HK

Source: SCMP (6/4/18)
Tiananmen anniversary vigil in Hong Kong: event organiser Albert Ho gives eulogy declaring ‘ruthless regime will not last forever’
‘The wounds have not healed, the blood has not dried … and justice has not been upheld,’ says chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China
By Tony Cheung Kimmy Chung

All six soccer pitches at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay have been filled by attendees at the June 4 candlelight vigil. Photo: Winson Wong

Tens of thousands of people have gathered in Victoria Park in Hong Kong to mark the 29th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown with organisers of an annual candlelight vigil vowing not to stop calling for an end to one-party rule in mainland China.

The vigil is the only large-scale public gathering in China to remember the crackdown on June 4, 1989, that brought an abrupt end to a pro-democracy movement in the heart of Beijing. Many activists, including students and civilians, died. Though the death toll may never be known, hundreds, maybe more than 1,000, were killed.

While large crowds are still drawn to the event, attendance has dwindled in recent years. Organisers are estimating a turnout of 100,000 to 150,000 this time, despite a boycott by university student unions for the fourth year in a row. Follow the latest below: Continue reading

Crackdown on film props in HK

Source: NYT (6/1/18)
A Crackdown on Film Props Angers Hong Kong’s Cinephiles
By Mike Ives and Tiffany May

The cast and crew of “Trivisa” at the Hong Kong Film Awards last year. On Thursday, two people involved in the film’s production were given suspended sentences for possession of counterfeit money — bills the defendants said were merely props.CreditAnthony Wallace/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

HONG KONG — Counterfeit money is hidden. Police uncover the stash. Justice is served.

It may sound like a film noir plot, but the fake bills had been used as props in an award-winning crime thriller filmed in Hong Kong. And the two suspects — who received suspended four-month sentences on Thursday — were not hardened criminal counterfeiters but members of a film production crew.

The question, local cinephiles say, is why the police even bothered to seek charges.

They say the case illustrates how onerous rules are needlessly hampering a local industry whose golden age of Bruce Lee kung fu films and Wong Kar-wai dramas seems long past, and which is now struggling to competeagainst rising competition from studios in South Korea and mainland China. Continue reading

Bust of Liu Xiaobo erected in HK

Source: SCMP (5/31/18)
Bust of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo erected outside Hong Kong’s Times Square in bid to build support for June 4 vigil
Support for annual event commemorating Tiananmen Square crackdown has been dwindling in the city in recent years amid a rise in anti-mainland sentiments
Peace Chiu

The bust of Liu Xiaobo is unveiled in Causeway Bay as pan-democrats collect signatures to call for the release of his wife. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

In a move to reawaken Hongkongers’ waning support for the upcoming 29th anniversary of the Tiananmen Crackdown, a group of activists erected a bust of the late Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese pro-democracy icon, at a shopping district popular among mainlanders on Thursday.

On June 4 every year since 1990, a candlelight vigil is held in the city’s Victoria Park to mark the anniversary of the bloody anti-government crackdown in 1989 in Beijing, which followed large-scale street protests and weeks-long sit-ins and hunger strikes in Tiananmen Square in a bid for greater freedom. Continue reading

Johnnie To, godfather of gangster films

Source: Taipei Times (5/19/18)
Johnnie To, still the godfather of gangster films
As Hong Kong’s once-thriving film industry sees a continual decline in production, Johnnie To represents a rare breed of filmmaker with his consistent and diversified output of films
By Paige Lim  /  Contributing reporter in Udine, Italy

Johnnie To at last month’s Far East Film Festival in Udine, Italy, where a restored version of his 2004 judo drama, Throw Down, premiered. Photo courtesy of the Far East Film Festival

The name Johnnie To (杜琪峯) is ubiquitous in Hong Kong cinema, but the prolific director and producer claims he might have never ended up making films, if it wasn’t for a stroke of luck 45 years ago.

As a then broke and unemployed 17-year-old, To joined Hong Kong’s leading television station TVB (Television Broadcasts Limited) on a whim, with no clue that it would eventually lead him to his true calling.

“I really just needed a job and some money. It wasn’t my choice, but I happened to be assigned to the drama department,” he says. “If I had been sent to the engineering department, I might have ultimately become an engineer.” Continue reading

HK says no to Mandarin

Source: SCMP (5/3/18)
Should Mandarin replace Cantonese in Hong Kong? No, says Carrie Lam
Chief Executive Carrie Lam, education secretary and mainland linguist all dismiss idea that Mandarin will be used to teach Chinese in city’s schools
By Su Xinqi/Sum Lok-kei

The debate over whether Cantonese was Hongkongers’ mother tongue has caused waves in the education sector. File photo

Hong Kong’s leader on Thursday dismissed a controversy over the use of Mandarin in public schools and whether Cantonese could be considered the city’s mother tongue as a “non-issue”, telling legislators her administration had no plan to change its policy on the language used to teach.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said two issues had caused waves in the education sector – the debate over whether Cantonese was Hongkongers’ mother tongue, and whether liberal studies should continue to be part of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education exam. Continue reading