Twitter suspends PRC-based accounts directed at HK

Source: Twitter (8/19/19)
Information operations directed at Hong Kong
By Twitter Safety

We are disclosing a significant state-backed information operation focused on the situation in Hong Kong, specifically the protest movement and their calls for political change.

What we are disclosing

This disclosure consists of 936 accounts originating from within the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Overall, these accounts were deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground. Based on our intensive investigations, we have reliable evidence to support that this is a coordinated state-backed operation. Specifically, we identified large clusters of accounts behaving in a coordinated manner to amplify messages related to the Hong Kong protests. Continue reading

China sends stark warning to HK

Source: NYT (8/19/19)
With Troop Buildup, China Sends a Stark Warning to Hong Kong
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
By Steven Lee Myers and 

The People’s Armed Police ran running exercises and drills, while armored vehicles arrived at Shenzhen Bay Sports Center, across the border from Hong Kong, on Friday. Credit: Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

SHENZHEN, China — The Shenzhen Bay Sports Center rises along the shore with the green hills of Hong Kong visible across the water. It normally bustles with a variety of youth sports programs and dance, art and language academies, including one that advertises a “Hong Kong Style Education.”

In recent days, however, it has become a staging ground for olive-green military transports and armored personnel carriers that arrived on Aug. 11 and disgorged hundreds of security officers from the People’s Armed Police, a Chinese paramilitary force, who are loudly running through daily exercises and drills.

By massing the troops within view of Hong Kong, the semiautonomous territory convulsed by protests, China’s Communist Party is delivering a strong warning that the use of force remains an option for Beijing. It is also a stark reminder that military power remains a bedrock of the party’s legitimacy. Continue reading

Support Prof. Benny Tai

Support Professor Benny Tai and the University of Hong Kong’s Autonomy

To sign on the statement, please visit:

Members of academia are invited to express their support for our imprisoned colleague Benny Tai Yiu-Ting (戴耀廷), an associate professor at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) Faculty of Law, who is at risk of wrongful dismissal.

In April 2019, Professor Tai was found guilty of conspiracy to cause public nuisance and inciting others to cause public nuisance and sentenced to sixteen months imprisonment for his role in the ‘Occupy Central with Love and Peace’ campaign. In the first-instance verdict against him, Judge Johnny Chan rejected Professor Tai’s argument that he had merely engaged in peaceful civil disobedience and ought not to be punished. Continue reading

Three rallies mark 11th weekend of protests

Source: The Guardian (8/17/19)
Hong Kong: three rallies mark 11th weekend of protests
Demonstrators aim to show public support for movement remains strong
By Lily Kuo in Hong Kong

Thousands of teachers rallied against police brutality toward young protesters.

Thousands of teachers rallied against police brutality toward young protesters. Photograph: Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Hong Kong, as they sought to show their movement still had public support even after two months of increasingly violent clashes.

Protesters, clad in their signature black and holding umbrellas, marched down major streets in Kowloon, chanting: “Liberate Hong Kong! Revolution of our time!” Volunteers handed out herbal tea and juice, while some shops that had closed for the day left boxes of drinks out for protesters.

Three separate rallies were taking place on Saturday, marking the 11th weekend of protests in Hong Kong as residents continue to press the government to formally withdraw a controversial extradition bill as well as meet other demands. Continue reading

Beijing’s game play for HK now clear

Source: The Guardian (8/14/19)
Beijing’s game plan for stifling the Hong Kong protests is now clear
By Sebastian Veg

Manipulation of public opinion and pressure on the region’s businesses, universities and judiciary are part of the strategy

protesters in the departure hall of Hong Kong international airport on 13 August

The departure hall of Hong Kong international airport on 13 August: ‘Beijing has engaged in a battle to turn public opinion in Hong Kong against the movement.’ Photograph: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

As protests in Hong Kong against a controversial extradition law enter their third month, the prospect of any resolution to the unrest seems a long way off. However, the past week has given an indication of the strategy of the governments in Beijing and Hong Kong in dealing with protesters.

The growing pro-democracy movement achieved early success in June with the suspension of the proposed bill that would have allowed the extradition of suspects from Hong Kong to mainland China. This followed unprecedented peaceful demonstrations that brought up to two million people on to the streets and, separately, police violence. When Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, declared that she was shelving the bill, the Beijing authorities, having distanced themselves from the unpopular law, seemed to be lying low. Continue reading

In Defense of the Yenching Academy

Source: Sup China (8/9/19)
In Defense Of The Yenching Academy
The FBI’s unfair targeting of my classmates, and NPR’s suggestive and narrow reporting on the issue, have tarred the reputation of Yenching. Can cross-border academic exchange survive strategic competition?

Late last week, NPR reported that the FBI had questioned at least five American graduates of the Yenching Academy, an English-language master’s program Beijing founded five years ago to replicate the soft-power successes of the West’s Rhodes and Marshall scholarships. I spent the last year at Yenching, and will be returning in September to complete my second year. Although I have become accustomed to the Trump administration’s “whole of government” effort to combat Chinese espionage and influence, for the first time it felt personal. Continue reading

HK protesters descend on airport

Source: NYT (8/9/19)
Hong Kong Protesters Descend on Airport, With Plans to Stay for Days
By Katherine Li and 

Protesters, most wearing black, in the arrivals hall of Hong Kong’s international airport on Friday. Credit: Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

HONG KONG — Thousands of black-clad antigovernment protesters demonstrated at Hong Kong’s international airport on Friday, taking aim at both a global transit hub and the city’s closely guarded reputation for order and efficiency.

The protest in the airport’s arrivals hall, which is planned to last through Sunday, comes as Hong Kong reels from its worst political crisis since Britain handed the former colony back to China in 1997, and less than a week after protests and a general strike caused chaos in the city and led to 148 arrests. Continue reading

China bans Golden Horse participation

Source: Taipei Times (8/8/19)
China bans Golden Horse participation
JUMP CUT: The film festival’s organizing committee said that the jury process and all events would continue as planned, despite the absence of Chinese participants
By Reuters, BEIJING and TAIPEI

Chinese director Zhang Yimou holds his award for Best Director at the 55th Golden Horse Awards in Taipei on Nov. 17 last year. Photo: AP

The China Film Administration yesterday said that it was blocking the Chinese movie industry from participating in the Golden Horse Awards, without a giving a reason.

China Film News, a magazine published by the agency, made the announcement on its official WeChat account.

“China Film Administration says that it will suspend mainland movies and their personnel from participating in 2019’s 55th Golden Horse Awards,” it said.

The move comes after the annual event, the Chinese-speaking world’s version of the Oscars, became a lightning rod for questions about Taiwanese independence last year, sparking a debate between Taiwanese and Chinese stars, as well as netizens. Continue reading

Forbidden City opens wide

Source: NYT (8/3/19)
The Forbidden City Opens Wide as China Projects New Pride in Its Past
President Xi Jinping has pushed “cultural self-confidence” as a signature policy, and one of the beneficiaries has been the former home of emperors, neglected no longer.
By Ian Johnson

Visitors now throng the Forbidden City in Beijing. Credit: Yan Cong for The New York Times

BEIJING — For much of the past century, the Forbidden City has been an imposing void in the otherwise bustling heart of Beijing.

The 180-acre compound, where emperors and their advisers plotted China’s course for centuries, was stripped of its purpose when the last emperor abdicated in 1912. Since then, the palace grounds have at times lain empty or been treated as a perfunctory museum, with most of the halls closed to the public and the few that were open crammed with tourists on package tours.

But as the Forbidden City approaches its 600th birthday next year, a dramatic change has been taking place, with even dark and dusty corners of the palace restored to their former glories for all to see. Continue reading

A New Zealand university and Chinese censorship

Source: The Spinoff (8/3/19)
We must speak out on AUT, China and threats to academic freedom
Jacob Edmond | Guest writer


The AUT vice-chancellor denies that a Tiananmen Square commemoration was cancelled at the request of the Chinese embassy, but the emails released are enough to send a severe chill through New Zealand’s universities, writes Jacob Edmond

Auckland has a long and proud history of remembering the victims of the June 4, 1989 crackdown on student protests across China. Unfortunately, as the recent actions of Auckland University of Technology have underscored, the city’s universities have a more mixed record.

It is perhaps not that widely known, but one of the relatively few and earliest permanent memorials to the victims of June 4 stands in central Auckland. The memorial was unveiled on 17 September 1989 on the grounds of St Andrew’s First Presbyterian Church on Alten Rd. The initial plan had been to place the stone within the grounds of the University of Auckland. But when the University of Auckland authorities refused permission, St Andrew’s offered a home, and the stone stands there to this day. Continue reading

Yenching Academy grads questioned by FBI

Source: NPR (8/1/19)
American Graduates Of China’s Yenching Academy Are Being Questioned By The FBI
By Emily Feng

People cycle past a building at Peking University in Beijing in 2016. The university hosts Yenching Academy, a prestigious graduate studies program. Thomas Peter/Reuters

A sudden knock at one’s door. An unexpected call to meet off campus. Surreptitious visits to family members.

American graduates of the prestigious Yenching Academy, a one- to two-year master’s degree program housed at Beijing’s elite Peking University, are being approached and questioned by the FBI about the time they spent in China. In the last two years, at least five Yenching graduates have been approached by agents to gather intelligence on the program and to ascertain whether they have been co-opted by Chinese espionage efforts.

Brian Kim is one of them. Five months ago, Kim received a call from an unfamiliar number. “It was a person who claimed to be an FBI agent, and I immediately thought it was a scam call,” Kim recalls. Continue reading

HK through China’s distorted lens

Source: China Media Project (7/24/19)

Hong Kong Through China’s Distorted Lens

A page-one commentary in the Monday edition of the official People’s Dailynewspaper, the flagship publication of the Chinese Communist Party, offered the closest we have yet had to an authoritative response from China’s top leadership on the protests in Hong Kong and related acts of violence that have unfolded in recent days.

The piece is attributed to “a commentator from this paper,” or benbao pinglunyuan(本报评论员), which marks it as executed by top staff at the paper but representing views at the most senior levels of the Party. It essentially takes a strong line on the July 21 incident in which protestors — referred to in the commentary as “radical demonstrators” (激进示威者) and “extremists” (激进分子) — massed at the entrance of the Liaison Office of the Central Government in Hong Kong and pelted the building, including the national emblem of the People’s Republic of China, with black paint, eggs and other projectiles. Continue reading

Yuen Long protest

Source: NYT (7/27/19)
Hong Kong Protests: Police Fire Tear Gas as Tens of Thousands Demonstrate Where Mob Rampaged
By Austin Ramzy

The police fired tear gas during clashes with protestors in Yuen Long, Hong Kong, on Saturday. Credit: Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

HONG KONG — Riot police officers fired many rounds of tear gas as they tried to disperse tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong who converged on Saturday on the satellite town where an armed mob attacked some demonstrators last weekend.

The protest in the district, Yuen Long, is an angry response to an assault by more than 100 men, armed with sticks and metal bars, on demonstrators and others in a train station there last Sunday night that left at least 45 people injured.

As hundreds of demonstrators in black shirts arrived at the station where the attack occurred, Cary Lo, a 37-year-old compliance officer and community officer for the Democratic Party of Hong Kong, said they had gathered there in defiance of a police ban because they believed there was safety in numbers. Continue reading

What is the PLA doing in HK

Source: NYT (7/25/19)
What Is the Chinese Military Doing in Hong Kong?
By Austin Ramzy

People’s Liberation Army soldiers took part in a drill open to the public at the Stonecutters Island naval base in Hong Kong last month. Credit: Tyrone Siu/Reuters

HONG KONG — When Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Chinese control in 1997, one of the biggest worries was how the Chinese military would behave.

Images of the People’s Liberation Army killing civilians on the streets of Beijing eight years earlier were still fresh in the minds of Hong Kong residents, who had marched in huge numbers to support the pro-democracy Tiananmen protests, and who had begun marking the anniversary of the 1989 crackdown with a yearly vigil.

As troop trucks and armored personnel carriers rolled into Hong Kong after its handover from Britain, residents wondered what the soldiers would do next. But in the 22 years since then, the People’s Liberation Army has had a very limited role in the city. Continue reading

Li Peng dies at 90

Source: NYT (7/23/19)
Li Peng, Chinese Leader Derided for Role in Tiananmen Crackdown, Dies at 90
By Erik Eckholm and Chris Buckley

Li Peng, then chairman of the National People’s Congress, right, in 2002. At left is Jiang Zemin, then the general secretary of the Communist Party. Credit: Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press

Li Peng, the former Chinese premier derided as the stone-faced “butcher of Beijing” for his role in the bloody crackdown on the Tiananmen Square democracy movement in 1989, died on Monday in the Chinese capital. He was 90.

Mr. Li’s death was announced on Tuesday by Xinhua, the state-run news agency. Xinhua’s report gave no specific cause of death, saying only that medical treatment had failed.

Born to Communist revolutionaries in the early years of the Chinese civil war and educated as a hydroelectric engineer in the Soviet Union, Mr. Li rose to the top ranks of the Communist Party, serving as a bridge between the old guard of revolutionaries and the more technocratic leaders who succeeded them. Continue reading

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