“The things I’m concerned about are all related to people’s survival experience,” said Brother Nut, an artist and activist in Beijing. He filled thousands of Nongfu Spring water bottles with filthy groundwater from a village in central China to draw attention to its pollution problem. CreditGilles Sabrie for The New York Times
BEIJING — The 9,000 bottles of water on display at an art gallery in Beijing last month appeared identical to those of Nongfu Spring, one of China’s most popular spring water brands, with one jarring difference. Inside each bottle was brown, murky groundwater collected from a Chinese village.
The water from the village, Xiaohaotu, in the central province of Shaanxi, is polluted with heavy metals, the likely result of nearby coal mining and gas exploration operations, residents and officials say. Continue reading →
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.
China fell two places to 27th in an annual survey of soft power. Photo: Reuters
China’s soft power has been weakened by its hard line on foreign policy and human rights, according to an annual survey released on Thursday.
In the “Soft Power 30” report by communications consultancy Portland and the University of South California Centre on Public Diplomacy, China ranked 27th of the 30 countries to make the list, down two places from last year.
The weaker showing was mostly a result of it finishing bottom on the “Government” subindex, which measures nations’ political values, such as their position on human rights, democracy and equality, said Jonathan McClory, the report’s author and Portland’s general manager for Asia. Continue reading →
Source: Sup China (7/10/18)
Liu Xia is free
By Jeremy Goldkorn
Eight years after being placed under de facto house arrest despite committing no crime, Liu Xia 刘霞 — the widow of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo 刘晓波 — left China on Tuesday morning, boarding an 11 a.m. Finnair flight from Beijing to Berlin. Her plane transited in Helsinki, where the above photo was snapped by AFP.
Not coincidentally, German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang 李克强 in Berlin shortly before Liu was allowed to leave.
During Li’s visit, “Germany and China signed a raft of commercial accords worth some 20 billion euros ($23.5 billion) on Monday, with their leaders reiterating commitments to a multilateral global trade order despite a looming trade war with the United States,” according to Reuters. Continue reading →
A video showing facial recognition software in use at the headquarters of the artificial intelligence company Megvii in Beijing.CreditGilles Sabrie for The New York Times
ZHENGZHOU, China — In the Chinese city of Zhengzhou, a police officer wearing facial recognition glasses spotted a heroin smuggler at a train station.
In Qingdao, a city famous for its German colonial heritage, cameras powered by artificial intelligence helped the police snatch two dozen criminal suspects in the midst of a big annual beer festival.
In Wuhu, a fugitive murder suspect was identified by a camera as he bought food from a street vendor.
With millions of cameras and billions of lines of code, China is building a high-tech authoritarian future. Beijing is embracing technologies like facial recognition and artificial intelligence to identify and track 1.4 billion people. It wants to assemble a vast and unprecedented national surveillance system, with crucial help from its thriving technology industry. Continue reading →
Rebel Pepper drew this cartoon in response to the news that Xi Jinping would abolish term limits for his chairmanship, potentially paving the way for him to stay on as dictator-for-life. Credit: Courtesy Rebel Pepper
What does it mean to live in the United States instead of China?
For China’s most prominent political cartoonist, Rebel Pepper, a dissident with a gentle smile and a wicked brush, it’s the difference between life as a wild pig and a domesticated one.
Kept pigs “think they live a carefree life because people feed them. But one day, they will be slaughtered,” Rebel, whose real name is Wang Liming, said in a May interview in Washington, DC, where he now lives. Continue reading →
The Geistkämpfer (spiritual fighter) by Ernst Barlach. Source: online photo.
Memorial Service for Liu Xiaobo in Berlin, Gethsemane church, one year after his passing.
I wasn’t sure if I should post this or not. Maybe Ian Johnson would do it, or someone else more involved with the event. Anyway, seems it’s going to be a grand thing. A reminder there are some things politics and the arts both can and should try to stand for. In Berlin, in Germany, in Europe, anywhere. Solidarity, for once.
The announcement in English and in Chinese is on China Change.
I have done a German translation from the Chinese version and put it on my blog.
In 2010 I translated Bei Ling’s biography of Liu Xiaobo into German. It was a rush job, but I checked the facts. It’s an interesting book. Continue reading →
Universities across China have been told to further integrate Chinese traditional culture into their courses and award students credits for studying ethnic music, arts and crafts in a new government plan to boost cultural confidence and awareness in higher education.
According to the notice, the move is expected to strengthen the country’s cultural confidence and awareness, and “instil new vitality” to Chinese traditional culture. It is seen as a move to counter the growing popularity among young people of music, drama and other cultural imports from the West and Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea.
“Around 100 ‘cultural heritage’ bases will be set up at higher learning institutions nationwide by 2020 and 50 by the end of the year to advance education, protection, innovation and exchanges of Chinese traditional culture,” according to a notice issued by the Ministry of Education on 26 May. Continue reading →
In , civil law was amended to punish “those who infringe upon the name, likeness, reputation, or honor of a hero or martyr, harming the societal public interest.” The legislation introduced the term “historical nihilism.” Chinese President Xi Jinping perceived independent historians with critical ideas about the official history of the Communist Party and its heroes as producers of “historical nihilism.” In a 2013 speech, he had said that in recent years “hostile forces” at home and abroad had “attacked, vilified and defamed” China’s modern history with the aim of overthrowing the Chinese Communist Party. He believed that sloppiness on the historical front had contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.33
In March 2017, a historical novel, Ruanmai (Soft Burial) (People’s Literature Publishing House, 2016), written by Fang Fang, came under attack from Maoists because in describing the excesses during the land reform in the 1950s, it appeared to sympathize with the landlords. Critics believed that the novel discredited land reform, a major feat of the Communist Party of China, and saw it as a form of historical nihilism. The novel told the story of a dying woman, by following her buried memories and her son’s investigation of his family’s past. The wife of a rich landlord’s son in eastern Sichuan Province in the late 1940s, she witnessed her husband’s entire family committing suicide. Many of the landlords and their families were killed or tortured during the campaigns, even after their land was confiscated. The book was not banned. Continue reading →
The Chinese embassy in Stockholm is currently stepping up a campaign to smear the two Swedish citizens detained in China and forced to make coerced fake confessions on Chinese TV: Gui Minhai (still detained, and denied consular and medical assistance) and Peter Dahlin (expelled January 2016).
The embassy statement said: “The so called Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC) mentioned in the article is an unregistered illegal organization and lacks all legitimacy. It can by no means represent all the foreign journalists stationed in China, and the reports it released are totally unreliable.” Continue reading →
Liu Xia (centre), wife of Liu Xiaobo, holds a portrait of him during his funeral last year in Shenyang, China. Photo: Shenyang municipal information office via AP
UN human rights experts urged China on Wednesday to release Liu Xia, the widow of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, and allow her to seek treatment for deteriorating health, including travelling abroad.
The appeal came nearly a year after Liu Xiaobo died of liver cancer on July 13, 2017, while in custody, having been jailed in 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power”.
Liu Xia, an artist and poet who suffers from depression, has been under effective house arrest since her husband was awarded the prize in 2010. She has never been charged with any crime and was last seen in public at his funeral accompanied by Chinese authorities. Continue reading →
Students watching Feng Wuzhong’s online lecture video during a course on Mao’s ideology at Tsinghua University in Beijing.CreditGiulia Marchi for The New York Times
BEIJING — Democracy. Is it effective or flawed? Would it work in China?
Those were the teacher’s instructions on a recent Sunday morning when 17 college students met at Tsinghua University in Beijing for “Mao Zedong Thought and the Theoretical System of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics,” a mouthful of a course that is part of a government-mandated regimen of ideological education in China.
The students were sporting dragon tattoos and irreverent shirts — one had “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” emblazoned on its back — and playing bloody shoot-’em-up video games on their phones before class. Continue reading →
In the document, the government encourages content that showcases “people’s happiness” and features important upcoming events, such as the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the PRC in 2019, and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s 100th anniversary in 2021. Continue reading →