Deng, Deng Don’t Tell Me: A Chinese Political Quotes Quiz

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 19:24
“Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” While some quotes are indelibly linked with certain politicians—in this case, Mao Zedong—in many other cases, what leaders say can sound the same, no matter what end of the political spectrum they sit on.
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Hong Kong Lawyers Line Up to Give Free Aid to Pro-Democracy Protesters

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 19:13
Dozens of Hong Kong lawyers are lining up to offer pro bono assistance to pro-democracy protesters, in a move that highlights the legal community's growing concern over potential infringement on the city's judicial independence by Beijing.
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China’s misleading economic indicators

FT China Feed - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 17:36
Contrary to popular beliefs, existing distortions may be giving a more negative impression than the reality
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Political News Site Scolded for ‘Incorrect Practices’

China Digital Times - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 16:10

The South China Morning Post reports that the newly launched political news website (澎湃) has been issued a “stern warning” by central government propaganda officials:, widely perceived as a key player in President Xi Jinping’s vision to establish a “new media” industry, was scolded for “improper practices” by the Cultural Security and Ideology Construction Research Centre – but there were scant details on what those mistakes were.

“The central government officials and relevant departments have conveyed stern criticism of the for a series of improper practises and requested rectification,” the centre, affiliated to the nation’s main think tank Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said on its verified Weibo account.

It reminded all news media to stick to the “bottom line” before they innovate their reporting and warned that “no media is exceptional” or exempt from the rules.

[...] The Shanghai United Media Group ['s state-run operator] is one of the contenders of the ‘new media national team’ that [the] government is keen to endorse,” he said. “So the website’s prospect is unlikely to be affected by what this [warning] has indicated.”

He said it was hard to pinpoint what the website had done to irk the propaganda department. [Source]

Government control of the media—including print, digital, and social media—has been steadily increasing under President Xi Jinping. Earlier this month, Xi called for the establishment of new “strong, influential and credible” media organizations.

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HK Told to Seek a ‘Less Perfect’ Democracy; Graft Cops Raid Pro-Democracy Media Boss’ Home

China Digital Times - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 15:32

Concerns over the allowance of universal suffrage in upcoming Hong Kong elections have put tensions between Beijing and the semi-autonomous region on display in recent months. Longstanding concerns from the pro-democracy camp were heightened in June after the State Council Information Office released a white paper asserting “complete jurisdiction” over Hong Kong, and suggesting that a “basic political requirement” for the city’s judiciary was a “love for China.” Since then, pro-Beijing and pro-democracy camps have been staging protest rallies and circulating petitions that reflect their competing visions of Hong Kong’s future.

As Hong Kong waits anxiously for Beijing to announce a proposal on rules for the 2017 election of chief executive, the New York Times reports that top Hong Kong adviser Wang Zhemin delivered a speech in Hong Kong aimed at soothing lingering concerns among both of Hong Kong’s ideological camps:

Speaking in Hong Kong on Thursday, Wang Zhenmin, dean of the law school at Tsinghua University in Beijing, who advises the central government on Hong Kong issues, said “no democracy in the world” was perfect.

“The overwhelming majority of the people in Hong Kong and the central authorities would like to see universal suffrage in 2017,” he said. “We should not let the people down. More is less, less is more. Less perfect universal suffrage is better than no universal suffrage. Leave some room for future growth.”

[...] Mr. Wang, who visited Hong Kong under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make its case for the new rules, also assured Hong Kong residents that contrary to published reports, the territory’s independent courts would be respected and flourish in coming years, as China itself moved toward a more rules-based system. He said reports that judges would be subject to a political requirement of “loving the country” were the result of mistranslations of a Chinese white paper.

[...] In an unusual theoretical leap for a state that is still at least nominally socialist, Mr. Wang suggested one reason to keep control of the nomination process was to protect the interests of its capitalist class. [...] [Source]

Amid competing views of Hong Kong democracy, the HK Journalists Association recently declared 2014 the “darkest for press freedom for several decades.” Last month, pro-democracy website House News shut down due to a combination of political pressure and low advertising revenue; also, pro-democratic Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai said that millions of advertising dollars had been pulled from the popular paper following their overage of recent protests. Later, several pro-Beijing newspapers published documents hacked from Lai’s personal computer showing his donations to pan-democratic parties and sparking bribery concerns among pro-Beijing lawmakers. Yesterday, Jimmy Lai’s Hong Kong residence was raided by anti-corruption officers, as was the home of HK Labour Party chairman and pro-democracy lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan. From the AP:

Hong Kong anti-corruption police on Thursday searched the homes of a media magnate who is an outspoken critic of Beijing and a pro-democracy legislator after receiving a complaint alleging that lawmakers had taken bribes.

Wielding search warrants, officers from the Independent Commission Against Corruption [ICAC] paid a morning visit to the homes of Jimmy Lai and Lai’s top aide Mark Simon, Simon said. Pro-democracy lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan’s home and office also were searched.

The timing raised eyebrows because it comes days before a key decision by Beijing on direct elections for the leader of Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China. It also comes a month after a trove of documents was leaked to competing news outlets detailing big donations by Lai to local pro-democracy political parties and politicians, including Lee.

[...] Lai told reporters camped outside his home in an upscale neighborhood that “ICAC was here.”

“They’ve all gone now and there is no further comment,” he said.

Lai’s company Next Media owns popular newspaper Apple Daily, which is frequently critical of Beijing. [Source]

The New York Times has more on the reasoning behind the ICAC’s raids:

In a public statement issued Thursday evening, the Independent Commission Against Corruption said that four premises had been searched during the day after the agency obtained warrants from the Court of First Instance. The investigation began after the agency received notices that alleged some legislators had violated an antibribery law, the statement said, although it did not name the parties involved.

[...] It was not known which of Mr. Lai’s donations was under investigation. Hong Kong has no laws specifically requiring the disclosure of donations to political parties, but some legislators alleged to have received donations from Mr. Lai did not declare them as the legislature’s rules would require.

[...] Mr. Lee, the legislator, said that the search of his office and apartment was prompted by Mr. Lai’s donation and about remarks that Mr. Lee made during a legislative debate on press freedom in January, in which he mentioned the withdrawal of ads from Apple Daily. [Source]

The central government is currently holding meetings in Beijing on the 2017 election of Hong Kong’s chief executive; their proposals are expected to be announced on Sunday, and pro-democracy activists are planning a rally to follow. For more on the political situation in Hong Kong, see commentary on the region’s uneasy resource dependence on the mainland from Tea Leaf Nation; or on contradicting definitions of patriotism in Hong Kong and Beijing from the South China Morning Post. Also see prior CDT coverage of Hong Kong democracy.

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What a Strong Earthquake Does in China vs. the U.S.

China Digital Times - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 14:53

A video from Vox’s Joss Fong explains why the 6.1 magnitude earthquake in Yunnan this month did so much more damage than last week’s 6.0 magnitude quake in northern California. The former killed 619 and destroyed 25,800 homes, while there were no fatalities from the latter, and only four homes were destroyed. Much of the difference results from higher building standards in the U.S.. The problem of corner-cutting “tofu dregs construction” has been particularly acute in school buildings in poor rural areas, leading to a disproportionate number of children among the 88,000 casualties of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. (Some activists were imprisoned after investigating the issue.) The consequences of weaker construction standards are also evident in local comparisons: the Sichuan disaster showed a strong disparity between building safety in wealthier and poorer neighborhoods.

The U.S. Geological Survey notes that in Yunnan, landslides caused by a combination of the quake and heavy rain also contributed to the damage.

The magnitudes of the two quakes were less similar than they may appear because they are measured on a logarithmic scale: a 6.1 earthquake is 40% more energetic than one of 6.0. Moreover, magnitude is not the only factor in a quake’s intensity—the violence of shaking on the surface—which can vary from place to place depending on local geology. Nevertheless, the basic point of the comparison stands: the average death toll of American earthquakes since 1980 has been vastly lower than China’s, at 3 to 609.

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Murong Xuecun Targeted in Twitter Smear Campaign

China Digital Times - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 14:46

In what appears to be a targeted attack, a ten-part essay smearing Chinese author Murong Xuecun is circulating on Twitter. The essay, “Murong Xuecun’s Previous Life Today” (慕容雪村的前世今生), claims that he is an “inhumane, perverse, fake author” who “foments negative energy in society” and has had several affairs. The essays have been posted and forwarded by newcomers to Twitter with avatars of beautiful young women and men, most likely robots.


— 徐美丽 (@titusbailey668) August 23, 2014

Duowei Community: Murong Xuecun’s Previous Life Today (1): Perverse Fake Author

慕容雪村的前进今生(四):慕容雪村与烟雨偷情被捉 — 蓝色海洋lyr (@ejsus2011) August 23, 2014

Murong Xuecun’s Previous Life Today (4): Murong Xuecun Caught in Torrid Love Affair 慕容雪村啥都好,就是人性有点少

— 内蒙古时空 (@vlealijnbeimne) August 25, 2014

Everything’s great about Murong Xuecun, except that’s he’s a bit inhumane.

Murong Xuecun, who first shared his novels online, is also active in human rights. He was invited to a seminar on June 4th while in Australia. While he could not attend, he publicly supported those who did, many of whom were detained immediately afterward—to show solidarity, Murong vowed that he would turn himself into the police upon his return to Beijing. After arriving home, he was detained and interrogated for over eight hours.

At the Hong Kong news site, Xiang Xiaokai shares his analysis of seven of the defamatory tweets and the users circulating them [Chinese]. Xiang found that the tweets were retweeted about 800 times each by only 160 users, meaning that each user had retweeted the original post multiple times. He also found that the retweets occurred just 20 minutes after the original went up, with retweets following each other in approximately ten-second intervals. All of the users sharing these salacious “details” on Murong Xuecun had opened their accounts on or after January 1, 2014, with nearly 80% were opened after June 1. The users have around 100 followers each, and seem to have formed a “closed community of mutual followers.”

Xiang concludes that these users are robots, accounts set up such that a tweet from one triggers retweets from the others. This concentrated retweet attack “spreads these messages to other users’ timelines in an attempt to get more overseas users to retweet and disseminate” the smear campaign.

Human rights activist Hu Jia explains that “Murong Xuecun’s Previous Life Today” is part of a series of similar attacks:

此前世今生系列,包括王丹的前世今生,胡佳的前世今生,北风的前世今生……@CDTChinese 作家慕容雪村疑遭当局派水军抹黑 :推特上突然出现了一系列共10篇题《慕容雪村的前世今生》的文章,对中国大陆知名作家慕容雪村进行密集攻击… — Hu Jia 胡佳 (@hu_jia) August 28, 2014

This is a series of “previous lives,” including “Wang Dan’s Previous Life Today,” “Hu Jia’s Previous Life Today,” Bei Feng’s Previous Life Today…”

In July, the advocacy group Free Tibet identified almost 100 fake Twitter accounts spreading suspiciously cheerful news about Tibetans.

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Dumplings to Duck: Which Chinese Food Should Make Unesco’s Heritage List?

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 14:45
Chinese food– or at least some portion of it – may be soon joining the likes of kimchi and Mediterranean food on Unesco’s list of intangible cultural heritage items.
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Minitrue: Tone Down Military Training Brawl

China Digital Times - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 09:44

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.

All media must take care to tone down coverage of the high school military training conflict in Huangcang, Longshan County, Hunan. Do not continue to hype the story. Delete and control related writing which challenges or criticizes military training. (August 28, 2014)


A brawl broke out at a military training center between instructors and their students, leaving 42 injured. While the incident has sparked criticism of today’s “spoiled” youth, others think corruption in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is to blame.

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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China deals cash blow to Mugabe

FT China Feed - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 06:53
Beijing’s reception of Zimbabwean president shows open-wallet policy has limits, as he departs with far less than he was seeking
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In Democracy Debate, Scholar Says Tycoons Control Hong Kong’s Destiny

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 03:39
What should universal suffrage in Hong Kong look like? According to one top mainland Chinese legal scholar, any future democratic system should ensure the interests of the city’s wealthy businessmen are protected.
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Indonesia Says Hello to China’s ‘Little Rice’ Smartphone

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 03:27
China’s leading smartphone vendor, Xiaomi, has arrived in gadget-crazy Indonesia.
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Country Garden rights issue sinks shares

FT China Feed - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 02:58
Shares in Chinese property developer sink after deeply discounted rights issue aimed at lowering its leverage as property slowdown deepens
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Samsung faces China labour allegations

FT China Feed - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 00:37
China Labor Watch says supplier of South Korean group is employing more than 10 children. In 2012 the same contractor was accused of legal violations
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Picture China: PLA Pays Respects, Monk Pilgrimage, Aerobatic Contest

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 00:22
The day’s China news in pictures: PLA mourn Chinese navy soldiers killed in the First Sino-Japanese War, pilots perform during an aerobatic flight contest, two Tibetan monks prepare for a pilgrimage and more.
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HK anti-graft agents raid tycoon’s home

FT China Feed - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 23:51
Shares in Next Media suspended after 3% fall following news of investigation into pro-democracy tycoon
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The Past, Present and Future of VAT Reform in China

China Briefing - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 22:33

In this article, we survey the past, present and future of VAT reform for its unavoidable and thoroughgoing consequences for foreign investors with operations in China.

The post The Past, Present and Future of VAT Reform in China appeared first on China Briefing News.

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Has Alibaba Cursed Guangzhou Evergrande?

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 21:21
Guangzhou Evergrande’s defense of its Asian Champions League title crashed to a halt as it was knocked out of the competition, the latest setback since Jack Ma said Alibaba would buy 50% of the club.
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