Luxury homes tie CCP elite to HK’s fate

Source: NYT (8/12/20)
Luxury Homes Tie Chinese Communist Elite to Hong Kong’s Fate
Three top leaders of China’s Communist Party have relatives who own assets in Hong Kong, including more than $51 million in luxury real estate, a New York Times investigation shows.
By Alexandra Stevenson and Michael Forsythe

China’s leading political families have put money into Hong Kong real estate, giving them personal stakes in the city’s fate. Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

HONG KONG — Li Qianxin, the elder daughter of the Chinese Communist Party’s No. 3 leader, has quietly crafted a life in Hong Kong that traverses the city’s financial elite and the secretive world of Chinese politics.

For years, she has mingled with senior executives of state companies through Hong Kong and mainland professional clubs known for grooming the sons and daughters of officials. She has represented Hong Kong in Chinese provincial political advisory groups. She is the chairwoman of a state-owned investment bank based in Hong Kong that has long done business with the relatives of top Chinese officials.

Ms. Li, 38, also has deep financial roots in the city, having bought a $15 million, four-story townhouse perched high above a beach. Her partner owns a now-retired racehorse and spent hundreds of millions on a stake in the storied Peninsula Hotel that he later sold.

Ms. Li and other members of the Communist nobility are embedded in the fabric of Hong Kong’s society and financial system, binding the former British colony closer to the mainland. By building alliances and putting their money into Hong Kong’s real estate, China’s top leaders have inextricably linked themselves to the fate of the city. Continue reading

Demolition drive

Source: NYT (8/7/20)
Beijing Launches Another Demolition Drive, This Time in Its Bucolic Suburbs
The authorities have moved to demolish hundreds of homes in the hills near the Great Wall that were once a sign of China’s rising prosperity.
By Steven Lee Myers and Keith Bradsher

Villas slated for demolition in Wayaocun, on the northwest fringe of Beijing, last week. Credit…Keith Bradsher/The New York Times

The people who would destroy the village came in the middle of the night last week. Hundreds of guards breached the wall surrounding the village and began banging on the doors of the 140 courtyard homes there, waking residents and handing them notices to get out.

Many tried to protest but were subdued by the guards, and by this week, the demolition was already in full swing. Backhoes moved house by house, laying waste to a community called Xitai that was built in a plush green valley on the northern edge of Beijing, only a short walk from the Great Wall of China.

“This was a sneak attack to move when we were unprepared,” said Sheng Hong, one of the residents.

The destruction of the village, one of several unfolding on the suburban edges of Beijing this summer, reflects the corruption at the murky intersection of politics and the economy in China. What is perfectly acceptable one year can suddenly be deemed illegal the next, leaving communities and families vulnerable to the vagaries of policy under the country’s leader, Xi Jinping. Continue reading

Chinese court clears man of murder after 27 years

Source: BBC News (8/5/20)
Zhang Yuhuan: Chinese court clears man of murder after 27 years in prison

File image of prison in Beijing

China’s legal system is trying to stamp out the use of forced confessions. GETTY IMAGES

A man in eastern China has been acquitted of murder and freed after spending 27 years in prison. Zhang Yuhuan maintained he was tortured by police and forced to confess to the murder of two young boys in 1993.

He was China’s longest-serving wrongfully convicted inmate, after having served 9,778 days in the prison in Jiangxi province.

Prosecutors who reopened the case said his confession had inconsistencies and did not match the original crime. He walked free after a high court found there was not enough evidence to justify his conviction.

Observers say China is growing more willing to quash wrongful convictions, but only criminal not political. Continue reading

Being a Chinese student in the US

Source: BBC News (8/3/20)
Being a Chinese student in the US: ‘Neither the US nor China wants us’
BBC Chinese Service, Washington

American and Chinese flags painted on cracked wall background

The US-China relationship is now at one of it lowest points in years. GETTY IMAGES

Stranded abroad by the coronavirus pandemic and squeezed by political tensions, Chinese students in the United States are rethinking their host and home countries.

Eight years ago, Shizheng Tie, then aged 13, moved alone from China to rural Ohio for one sole purpose: education. She once had a budding American dream, but now she says she is facing hostility in that country.

“As a Chinese living in the US, I am very scared now,” she says. Tie, now a senior student at Johns Hopkins University, describes America as “anti-China” and “chaotic”.

Some 360,000 Chinese students are currently enrolled in schools in the US. In the past months, they have experienced two historical events – a global pandemic and unprecedented tensions between the US and China, which have reshaped their views of the two nations. Continue reading

Must fiction from China be penned in Mandarin

Source: (8/1/20)
Contemporary Fiction from China: Must it Be Penned in Mandarin?
By Bruce Humes

A few years back I posted a piece entitled A Resounding “Yes” to Mother-tongue Literature — but for Whom and about What?

In this context, “mother-tongue” referred to indigenous languages other than Mandarin. This topic may be of interest to potential readers who perceive “Chinese literature” as encompassing writing in Tibetan, Uyghur, Mongolian, as well as oral literature (口述文学) for peoples who do not have a script widely used in the PRC, such as the Evenki, Zhuang and many others.

In my essay, I posed this question: Who is going to write in their native language — or read what is written for that matter — if they cannot receive a decent education in it?

In this context, “mother-tongue” referred to indigenous languages other than Mandarin. This topic may be of interest to Paper Republicans who perceive “Chinese literature” as encompassing writing in Tibetan, Uyghur, Mongolian, as well as oral literature (口述文学) for peoples who do not have a script widely used in the PRC, such as the Evenki, Zhuang and many others. Continue reading

China is replacing ethnic minority languages with Mandarin

Source: The Hill (7/29/20)
China is replacing languages of ethnic minorities with Mandarin

China is replacing languages of ethnic minorities with Mandarin

© Getty Images

China has been carrying out propaganda that it cares for its minority communities, putting forth this perspective at various international forums, such as the United Nations Human Rights Council and the council’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group, and in white papers issued periodically.

In its September 2019 white paper, “Seeking Happiness for People: 70 Years of Progress on Human Rights in China,” Beijing claimed that it has effectively guaranteed ethnic minority rights in administering state affairs, with representation of all 55 ethnic minority groups in the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

It also claimed that it fully protects the freedom of ethnic minorities to use and develop their spoken and written languages, and that the state protects by law the legitimate use of spoken and written languages of ethnic minorities in the areas of administration and judiciary, press and publishing, radio, film and television, and culture and education. China claims to have established a database for the endangered languages of ethnic minority groups, and has initiated a program for protecting China’s language resources. Continue reading

Virtual kidnapping scam (1)

The piece on virtual kidnappings is very interesting. The BBC could also have mentioned that these scams have been going on since at least 2017 and much written about, from multiple countries.

But, most reports fail to discuss the most striking aspect, here too mentioned just in passing: The victims take it as believable that their own Chinese embassy/consulate/police/authorities would do this to them.

And of course they are right, it IS believable, because the Chinese authorities do these things all the time! (kidnapping you, forcing relatives to help work on you, etc.). And they know that even in a foreign country, you are not safe from the Chinese government.

I guess ransom payment from relatives are not commonly done officially (what’s extracted is usually — your silence, political compliance), but then the Chinese police and government are so thoroughly corrupt that the victims are probably justified in believing that part, too.

Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Virtual kidnapping scam

Source: BBC News (7/27/20)
Chinese students in Australia targeted in virtual kidnapping scam

Police-supplied image of a woman bound and gagged in a staged kidnap

NSW POLICE: Pictures of the staged kidnappings were provided to police

Chinese students in Sydney are being targeted in a kidnapping scam forcing them to pay massive ransoms to fraudsters, Australian police say.

In many cases, blackmailed students were forced to stage their own kidnapping and send video proof to relatives in China to obtain funds.

Eight “virtual kidnappings” have been reported this year, including one where a A$2m (£1.1m;$1.43m) ransom was paid.

Victims had believed they or their loved ones were in danger, police said. Continue reading

China is harvesting its people’s DNA

Source: NYT (7/24/20)
Opinion: China Is Harvesting the DNA of Its People. Is This the Future of Policing?
The Chinese police are systematically collecting genomic data from tens of millions of men and boys.
By Emile Dirks and James Leibold

Police officers collecting DNA samples from schoolboys in Shigu, Yunnan Province, in September. Credit…The Shifang Municipal People’s Government

For several years now, the police and other authorities in China have been collecting across the country DNA samples from millions of men and boys who aren’t suspected of having committed any crime.

In a report published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute last month, we exposed the extent of the Chinese government’s program of genetic surveillance: It no longer is limited to Xinjiang, Tibet and other areas mostly populated by ethnic minorities the government represses; DNA collection — serving no apparent immediate need — has spread across the entire country. We estimate that the authorities’ goal is to gather the DNA samples of 35 million to 70 million Chinese males.

Matched against official family records, surveillance footage or witness statements in police reports, these samples will become a powerful tool for the Chinese authorities to track down a man or boy — or, failing that, a relative of his — for whatever reason they deem fit. Continue reading

Wuhan Diary review

Source: SCMP (7/16/20)
Review: Wuhan Diary: Chinese writer Fang Fang’s nuanced, personal account of life under quarantine
Fang Fang documents confusing, conflicting and distressing circumstances in real time. The book collects 60 social media posts, written daily during the world’s strictest Covid-19 lock­down
By Yeung Ji-ging

Chinese novelist Fang Fang. Photo: Getty Images

Chinese novelist Fang Fang. Photo: Getty Images

Wuhan Diary, or at least its recent English transla­tion, is a work whose reputation precedes it. Its author, a 65-year-old award-winning writer known as Fang Fang, was targeted with online trolling and state censor­ship after she began posting about the coronavirus outbreak on her personal Weibo account.

Outrage grew in April after Harper Collins began marketing an English-language compilation of her posts, to be published in book form in June. Fang Fang was accused of casting the nation’s coronavirus response in a poor light. Continue reading

China’s Xinjiang policy

“Genocide is an ugly word—but it should be applied to what’s happening in Xinjiang”–Mei Fong in The Atlantic. Posted by: Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Source: The Atlantic (July 11, 2020)
China’s Xinjiang Policy: Less About Births, More About Control
Like the one-child policy, Beijing’s repressive actions against minority Uighur Muslims are about preserving power.

A group of young boys stands close to two large posters extolling the one-child policy.

A group of young boys stands near posters extolling the one-child policy in China’s Henan province.DIDIER RUEF / LUZPHOTO / REDUX

For years, when I was giving talks or discussing my reporting on China’s one-child policy, well-meaning audience members would inevitably ask a question that I had come to expect: “Of course forced abortions and sterilizations are bad,” they would say, “but isn’t the one-child policy good, in some ways? Doesn’t it help lift millions of people out of poverty?”

This has always been the Chinese Communist Party’s narrative. The one-child policy, it claimed, was a difficult but necessary move that was crucial for the country’s advancement. Deng Xiaoping, then China’s paramount leader, insisted in 1979 that without a drastic fall in birth rates, “we will not be able to develop our economy and raise the living standards of our people.” Continue reading

Shen Haobo poem

Shen Haobo
(Second version)

America holds down America
America oppresses America
America pleads with America
America ignores America
America kills America

America suffocates
America cries for America
America rushes into the streets
America fights against America
America burns America

America’s rocket shoots into the sky
America’s blacks rush into the streets
Remember that time?
We are all people
People massacre people

People fight and resist people
People pursue freedom
People thirst for equality
The battle is not up in the sky
Always has been down in the streets

June 1st, 2020
Translated by Martin Winter, June 2020

First version on my blog, see Continue reading

Beijing coronavirus outbreak ‘extremely severe

Source: The Guardian (6/16/20)
Beijing coronavirus outbreak: travel restricted to tackle ‘extremely severe’ situation
Restrictions on travel to and from China capital brought in as neighbourhoods sealed off and venues close
By  in Beijing and 

An epidemic control worker directs people at a coronavirus testing station in Beijing, China, as authorities tackle the most significant outbreak in the country since February.

An epidemic control worker directs people at a coronavirus testing station in Beijing, China, as authorities tackle the most significant outbreak in the country since February. Photograph: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Authorities in Beijing have described the city’s coronavirus outbreak as “extremely severe” as dozens more cases emerged and travel from the city was curtailed.

Additional neighbourhoods were fenced off on Tuesday, with security checkpoints set up at residential compounds, and high-risk people – such as close contacts of people who test positive – prevented from leaving the city.

“The epidemic situation in the capital is extremely severe,” Beijing city spokesman Xu Hejian warned at a press conference. “Right now we have to take strict measures to stop the spread of Covid-19.” Continue reading

Street vendor push ignites debate

Source: NYT (6/11/20)
China’s Street Vendor Push Ignites a Debate: How Rich is It?
The premier’s suggestion to empower a “stall economy” and focus on low-income workers leads some to ask whether the world’s No. 2 economy is as prosperous as it seems.
By Li Yuan

Credit… Jialun Deng

Xie Yiyi lost her job last Friday, making the 22-year-old Beijing resident one of millions of young people in China left unmoored and shaken by the coronavirus.

So that same day, heeding the advice of one of China’s top leaders, she decided to open a barbecue stall.

Many people in China would say selling spicy mutton skewers was a step down for an American-educated young person like Ms. Xie — or, really, for anybody in the world’s second-largest economy. Street vendors are seen by many Chinese people as embarrassing eyesores from the country’s past, when it was still emerging from extreme poverty. In many Chinese cities, uniformed neighborhood rules enforcers called chengguan regularly evict and assault sidewalk sellers of fake jewelry, cheap clothes and spicy snacks.

But Li Keqiang, China’s premier, had publicly called for the country’s jobless to ignite a “stall economy” to get the country’s derailed economy back on track. In the process, he laid bare Continue reading

Should Chinese women have multiple husbands (1)

The economist Yew-Kwang Ng, who suggests that women should have multiple husbands to address the surplus of bachelors in China, misses the point entirely. Women in China refuse to get married because they are disillusioned in men as partners. Women are more independent financially nowadays, so there is no need for them to choose marriage if they haven’t found a man worth marrying.

Lily Lee <>