Despite Sales Bump, All Is Not Well in China’s Real Estate Market

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 23:52
China home sales enjoyed a bit of a bump last month, but Beijing’s Tuesday data dump suggests the country’s vast property sector faces more suffering ahead.
Categories: China

Winning, and Watching, Hearts and Minds in Xinjiang

China Digital Times - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 23:35

With tensions continuing to rise between local Uyghur residents of Xinjiang and Han authorities, a series of recent violent incidents have killed dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people. Meanwhile, authorities continue to employ harsh tactics to crack down on what they deem “separatist” behavior. Now a new program promises a softer approach to “win the hearts and minds” of Uyghurs by sending hundreds of thousands of Party officials to rural regions to interact with the local population. But as Tom Phillips reports for the Telegraph, the plan also includes a more sinister purpose:

“The basic idea is to visit families, build unity and bring them benefits,” said one of the 12 officials in Bayandai village. “It is a project to win people’s hearts and to improve the local economy and people’s lives.”

But there is also a second, largely unspoken task for the team, and for the rest of the officials who are fanning out across 8,000 villages in Xinjiang: to gather intelligence on the lives of the villagers and create a vast community surveillance network in this huge and troubled region.

“Nominally they are there to listen to the people,” said Dr James Leibold, a specialist on China’s ethnic policy from La Trobe University in Australia. “But one of the things they have also been tasked with is surveillance.”

The teams have been told to interview each household in their village and compile detailed reports on their employment status as well as on their observance of Islam, noting down, for example, whether the women wear veils and the men have beards. [Source]

According to the Telegraph report, the plan would, “help thwart terrorist activities and extremist thought.” China has blamed the recent violence on the rise of religious extremism from abroad, but other observers believe it is an extreme response to systematic government repression of the Muslim minority group.

While evidence of sustained links between global jihadist groups and Uyghurs in Xinjiang remains sketchy, some jihadist groups have condemned the Chinese government’s treatment of Uyghurs. A publication affiliated with Al Qaeda recently called Xinjiang “occupied Muslim land”, calling for it to be “recovered [into] the shade of the Islamic Caliphate.” James Griffiths reports for the South China Morning Post:

Produced by the jihadist organisation’s As-Sahab media wing, the 117-page debut issue of Resurgence includes a feature titled “Did You Know? 10 Facts About East Turkistan,” referring to the name for Xinjiang used by those who advocate independence from China.

While much of the article is inaccurate – it claims, for example, that teaching the Quran is illegal in China (Islam is one of the country’s five recognised official religions) – it shows how China’s actions in the region, such as encouraging the migration of Han Chinese into Xinjiang and restricting religious dress, are being used by jihadist organisations to confirm their belief that Muslims are under threat.

[...] “In recent years [jihadist organisations] have expressed an interest in the alleged oppression of Xinjiang Uygurs by the Han Chinese,” Ahmed Hashim, a terrorism expert and associate international studies professor at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, told the South China Morning Post. “China is being seen as an oppressive power as it grows in strength.” [Source]

In July, the leader of the Islamic State gave a speech in Iraq in which he vowed to get revenge on a number of countries, including China, which had “seized Muslim rights.”

Read more about Xinjiang, Uyghurs, and violence in the region, via CDT.

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Expensive Cameras the Latest Corruption Tell-tale

China Digital Times - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 23:28

Global Times reports that high-end photography gear has become a sign of officials’ illicit income, in a similar vein to the luxury wristwatches which have betrayed many of their owners:

The Xinhua News Agency carried an article on September 23 about officials accepting bribes and using public funds to pay for their hobby.

For instance, an unidentified “senior official” used a police helicopter during a trip in Henan in order to take overhead photos of swans in the Yellow River, Xinhua reported.

His plan was fruitless, as the loud noise of helicopter scared the swans away.

Xinhua reported that [recently dismissed Henan official Qin Yuhai] claimed that his all of his equipment was gifts from a local businessman. Qin allegedly got rid of his most pricey lenses and accessories before authorities launched an official probe that yielded millions of yuan in equipment.

[…] For corrupt officials, photography also provides a convenient way to transmit bribes. Because art appraisal can be subjective, amateur works can be sold legitimately for astonishingly high prices. [Source]

Reuters’ Ben Blanchard reports that the gift loophole may soon be closed:

Currently, officials can defend themselves from accusations of receiving bribes by saying money or other goods received, like luxury watches or bags, were just a present from a friend, the official China Daily reported.

It is only considered a crime if a link can be made to some sort of abuse of power, it said.

[…] The gift rules will probably be changed at a regular meeting of the National People’s Congress opening on Oct. 27, the newspaper said.

“The draft is likely to deem that accepting gifts or money of a considerable amount would be punishable for all government officials,” it added. [Source]

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Watch: Fire Breathing Dragon-Horse Faces Off Against Spider in Beijing

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 23:23
It was ballet meets Transformers at a three-day performance put on by the French company La Machine to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between France and China.
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Hong Kong Leader Warns Poor Would Sway Vote: Readers React

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 23:04
Readers react to comments made by Hong Kong’s leader, who says a popular vote would give the city's poor too much power.
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Economists React: China’s Slowing Growth Is OK – For Now

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 21:31
Economists weigh in on the health of the Chinese economy and what the government should do next to sustain reasonable growth.
Categories: China

Picture China: Lego Protesters, Leaflets in Tiananmen, Leaders on Plates

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 21:27
The day's China news in pictures: A Lego creation depicts Hong Kong protesters confronting riot police, Chinese paramilitary police pick up protest leaflets thrown at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, decorative plates featuring Chinese leaders are seen in a shop window and more.
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Economics underpins HK political divide

FT China Feed - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 21:00
Dynamism comes at the price of the widest income gap in the developed world
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Hong Kong Leader: Popular Vote Would Give Poor Too Much Power

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 20:08
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said that if the government met student demands and allowed candidates to be nominated by the public, Hong Kong’s poor and working class could dominate the elections.
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As China Mulls Legal Reform, Its Judges Are Leaving in Droves

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 20:01
Dealing with the disillusionment in the judiciary is one challenge for President Xi Jinping and other Communist Party leaders going into a policy meeting, where promoting rule of law is top on the agenda.
Categories: China

New 3-D Musical Brings China’s Terracotta Warriors to Life

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 19:31
A retired Denver surgeon is bringing China’s ancient terracotta warriors to life in an offbeat, Broadway-style extravaganza.
Categories: China

Is Your China Manufacturing Business Ready for Next Year’s Flood of Cheaper Vietnamese Products?

China Briefing - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 19:17

Vietnam’s lower operating costs – in terms of both land-use rights and worker salaries – mean that inevitably, production of low and medium tech products will leech away from China into ASEAN. Here is a checklist of the issues your China manufacturing base will face as a result of this.

The post Is Your China Manufacturing Business Ready for Next Year’s Flood of Cheaper Vietnamese Products? appeared first on China Briefing News.

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Party “May Never” Open All Files on Painful Past

China Digital Times - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 18:17

Reuters’ Ben Blanchard reports comments from a senior Party scholar on the dim prospects for public release of sensitive historical documents:

Xie Chuntao, Director of the Party History Teaching and Research Department of the Party School, which trains rising officials, said the party had reflected deeply on its mistakes.

[…] “Everyone has reached a consensus that the mistakes of the past will certainly not be repeated today or in the future.”

Only a “small number” of the party’s historical files were still sealed, he said.

“Some involve the state’s core interests, and some are not convenient to be released,” Xie added.

“From a historical research it is to be hoped that it would be best if they are all opened. But I fear this cannot happen, and may never happen.” [Source]

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China Accused of Infiltrating Apple’s iCloud

China Digital Times - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 17:44

Apple’s aggressive promotion of encryption for its devices’ internal storage has won praise from privacy advocates and criticism from U.S. law enforcement, met in turn with vigorous counterargument and talk of a reopening of the “Crypto wars” of the 1990s. As Apple itself has argued, however, data stored in the cloud remains relatively vulnerable. Censorship monitor highlighted this risk on Monday, revealing an apparent attempt to intercept Apple users’ iCloud data across China:

This is clearly a malicious attack on Apple in an effort to gain access to usernames and passwords and consequently all data stored on iCloud such as iMessages, photos, contacts, etc. Unlike the recent attack on Google, this attack is nationwide and coincides with the launch today in China of the newest iPhone. While the attacks on Google and Yahoo enabled the authorities to snoop on what information Chinese were accessing on those two platforms, the Apple attack is different. If users ignored the security warning and clicked through to the Apple site and entered their username and password, this information has now been compromised by the Chinese authorities. Many Apple customers use iCloud to store their personal information, including iMessages, photos and contacts. This may also somehow be related again to images and videos of the Hong Kong protests being shared on the mainland.

[…] This attack will come as a surprise to Apple. In the past, the company has had a bromance with the authorities and have blindly acquiesced when asked to remove apps from the China app store. With such a close, cozy and snuggly relationship, it is hard to imagine that the executives at Apple felt that they would get this kind of treatment in China. Tim Cook is looking in his mirror now and crying “What did I do wrong?”.

This episode should provide a clear warning signal to foreign companies that work with the Chinese authorities on their censorship agenda. […] [Source]

The post includes evidence of the attack and advice on how to avoid it.

One recent development in the Cupertino-Beijing “bromance” was Apple’s decision to host Chinese users’ information on servers within the country, leased from China Telecom. The company claimed that encryption would prevent unauthorized access, but questions remain over its vulnerability to legal requests from authorities.

Meanwhile, Apple’s new Yosemite desktop operating system has been found to transmit search and location data, though this can easily be disabled.

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Photo: Beijing, by ilya

China Digital Times - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 16:58
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Minitrue: Violent Incident in Kashgar

China Digital Times - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 14:45

The following censorship instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.

Temporarily do not report on the violent incident that occurred Sunday [October 12] in Maralbeshi, Kashgar, Xinjiang. (October 19, 2014)


On Saturday, October 18, U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia reported on a violent incident in Kashgar prefecture, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, the previous Sunday, October 12. The New York Times cites RFA in their coverage of the October 12 incident:

An attack on a farmers market in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang has reportedly left at least 22 people dead and dozens injured, Radio Free Asia, the news service financed by the American government, has reported.

Radio Free Asia said on Saturday that the rampage, which took place Oct. 12 in Kashgar Prefecture, was carried out by four men armed with knives and explosives who attacked police officers and merchants before being shot dead by the police. Most of the victims were ethnic Han Chinese and the assailants were ethnic Uighur, the news service said, citing local police officials.

One officer, Hashim Eli, said the assailants were local men who arrived on motorcycles at 10:30 a.m. “Two of them attacked police officers patrolling the street while the other two attacked the Han Chinese stall owners who were just entering the market to open their stores,” Radio Free Asia quoted him as saying.

A man who answered the phone at the police station in Bachu County, where the attack took place, declined to comment, saying he was not authorized to speak to reporters. [Source]

This is the latest of many recent violent attacks in Xinjiang, and comes as authorities continue a massive security crackdown in the region.

Beijing exercises strict control of the media narrative in Xinjiang, effectively barring journalists access from scenes of unrest. In continuing to limit media coverage, Beijing allows a monopoly on reported information to activists and advocacy groups; other media organizations, such as the Financial Times and The Times of India, have also cited RFA’s report in covering the attack in Xinjiang.

Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. The date given may indicate when the directive was leaked, rather than when it was issued. CDT does its utmost to verify dates and wording, but also takes precautions to protect the source.

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Why Even Minor Legal Reforms Are Important in China

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 14:30
A four-day meeting of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee scheduled to begin in Beijing on Monday has as its central theme “governing the country according to law.” There are certain steps the party-state can take with regard to law that can help it improve its legitimacy without giving up ultimate control.
Categories: China

C.Y. Leung Takes Tough Stance Ahead of Talks

China Digital Times - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:36

Following a weekend of violent clashes between protesters and police in Mong Kok, Hong Kong, and ahead of planned talks with government representatives, some students are vowing to continue their sit-in. Donny Kwok and John Ruwitch report for Reuters:

The talks between student representatives and senior city government officials, scheduled for Tuesday evening, may yield small confidence-building measures and an agreement to continue the dialogue, but are unlikely to bridge the chasm between the two sides or end the demonstrations.

“I don’t expect much from tomorrow’s meeting, but I still hold some hope for the talks,” said protester Woody Wong, a 21-year-old student who camped overnight on Nathan Road, the main thoroughfare in the densely populated Mong Kok district.

“I will keep doing this until the government listens.”

[...] “So far we’ve seen no hope that they will reach some agreement in the coming week because both sides have different expectations of the dialogue,” said James Sung, a political analyst at City University of Hong Kong. [Source]

Chief Executive C.Y. Leung has further flamed protesters’ anger by claiming that the protests are being orchestrated by “foreign forces,” an assertion frequently put forward by China’s state media since the protests began. From Frederik Balfour, Chong Pooi Koon and Alex Davis of Bloomberg News:

“There is obviously participation by people, organizations from outside of Hong Kong,” Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said in an interview Sunday on Asia Television Ltd. “And this is not the only time they do it. And this is not an exception, either.”

This marks the first time Leung has invoked rhetoric common in China’s state-owned media that foreigners are to blame for interfering in Hong Kong’s domestic affairs.

“My concern is it excuses the government from resolving the problems by blaming it on the outside,” David Zweig, a political science professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology said in an interview. “The foreign intervention issue is that it allows China to say there are no domestic issues and then they don’t have to pay attention to social problems, some of which are caused by the political structure.”

Student leader Joshua Wong responded to Leung’s remarks in a humorous posting on his Twitter account, debunking the notion that foreign forces were running the show.

“The only overseas relationship I have, is my Korean cell phone, my U.S. computer and my Japanese gundam. Of course, all of them are made in China,” he wrote in Cantonese. [Source]

梁振英認為佔領行動外來勢力介入,唔知佢係咪覺得我個人有外來勢力介入啦,總之我個人唯一同外國有關系既就係: 韓國手機 美國電腦 日本高達 當然所有都係Made in China :o)

— 黃之鋒 (@joshuawong1013) October 19, 2014

Other protesters also denied Leung’s claims.

Leung further stoked controversy by claiming that universal suffrage, one of the key demands of protesters, would result in giving poor Hong Kong residents a dominant role in choosing his successor. Keith Bradsher and Chris Buckley report for the New York Times:

Mr. Leung gave the warning in a broad-ranging defense of his government’s handling of pro-democracy protests that have wracked the city for more than three weeks. He acknowledged that many protesters were angered by the city’s lack of social mobility and affordable housing but argued that containing populist pressures was an important reason for resisting protesters’ demands.

Instead, he offered a firm defense of Beijing’s position that candidates to succeed him must be screened by a “broadly representative” nominating committee, which would insulate Hong Kong’s next chief executive from popular pressure to create a welfare state and allow the government to implement more business-friendly policies to address economic inequality.

Mr. Leung’s blunt remarks — which seemed to reflect a commonly held view among the Hong Kong elite that the general public cannot be trusted to govern the city well — appeared likely to draw fresh criticism from the democratic opposition and to inflame the street struggle over Hong Kong’s political future, which has been has been fueled in part by economic discontent, especially among younger residents. [Source]

In #HongKong's #MongKok area. A relatively quiet evening for #HongKongProtests #OccupyCentral Talks to start tomorrow

— Michiel Willems (@michielwil) October 20, 2014

Pano of Nathan and Argyle at 1:30am. #OccupyCentral #mongkok

— ajlibunao (@ajlibunao) October 20, 2014

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Categories: China

EU and China agree truce on trade spats

FT China Feed - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 07:58
Brussels drops case against Huawei and ZTE
Categories: China

Leung warns protesters not to test China

FT China Feed - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 07:37
HK chief ready to listen to suggestions for ending demonstrations
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