China

Fake China export invoices make comeback

FT China Feed - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 00:17
Phantom exports used to skirt country’s strict capital controls
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Picture China: Landslide Rescue, Beijing Tourism, Hong Kong Protests

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 23:27
The day's China news in pictures: Rescuers search for buried villagers after a landslide in Yunnan, tourists stroll on the Great Wall in Mutianyu, people gather to mark the one-month anniversary of Hong Kong protests and more.
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Zhou Xiaoping’s Claims Draw Fans and Critics

China Digital Times - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 22:42

For AP, Didi Tang profiles Zhou Xiaoping, the blogger lauded by President Xi Jinping who has been mocked online because of his propensity for creating facts out of thin air:

China’s stodgy state-run media often fall flat as they try to portray the West in an unflattering light, but Zhou’s approach has been more successful: His microblog has more than 500,000 followers, and party websites and newspapers have carried his articles. He deftly uses trendy online slang, including calling his readers “dear” with an abbreviated version of the Chinese phrase.

But his posts have drawn criticism from skeptics who say he distorts and misleads, raising the risk that official efforts to glorify him may backfire.

[...] Chinese propaganda officials have argued that it is important to safeguard Zhou’s free speech despite the criticism.

“Even though there are many blemishes in Zhou Xiaoping’s articles, it is a harbinger for free speech when he can speak up,” a statement posted on a government website run by the party’s central propaganda department and its central office for building and guiding spiritual civilization. “We can always analyze and debate whether the viewpoints are correct or not.” [Source]

Earlier this month, anti-academic fraud campaigner Fang Zhouzi wrote an essay critiquing Zhou’s work, and was quickly censored by propaganda authorities. Another netizen posted an annotated version of one of Zhou’s essays, pointing out all the factual errors. Zhou has also become the target of political cartoonists.

Read also about how Zhou got his nickname, “Cutlassfish Zhou” and why he is also called “bun filling.”

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China’s Jobs Picture Not As Rosy As It Looks

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 20:53
China’s Premier, Li Keqiang, has said repeatedly how happy he is with the strength in the country’s job market, despite slowing economic growth. That’s the main reason he sees little need to ease policy aggressively to spur growth, he says.
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Accounting Firms Came Out Against Protests Under Pressure from Beijing

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 20:06
Pro-Beijing entities encouraged local affiliates of the Big Four accounting firms to take out advertisements against Hong Kong’s protest movement in June, before the demonstrations got underway, according to people with knowledge of the situation.
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Photo: Big sign 傘誌, by 惠瑩 王

China Digital Times - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 16:46

Big sign 傘誌

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Yanhuang Chunqiu Fights for Editorial Independence

China Digital Times - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 16:31

The son of former party general secretary Hu Yaobang has taken over as publisher of liberal magazine Yanhuang Chunqiu, which has faced a number of challenges from authorities over the past year. Minnie Chan reports for the South China Morning Post:

The appointment of Hu Deping to oversee outspoken political magazine Yanhuang Chunqiu was the publication’s first step to fend off official moves to threaten its independence, outgoing publisher Du Daozheng said yesterday.

Du, 91, said that Lu De, son of late vice-premier Lu Dingyi would be the magazine’s new deputy publisher and legal representative. Du would become an “honorary publisher”.

[...] “A consensus was finally reached: we should spare no effort to ensure our magazine survives,” Du said. “Our goal is to keep our editorial independence. We don’t want to be another political magazine like party mouthpiece Qiushi.”

Beijing-based political commentator Zhang Lifan said the magazine might try to use Hu and Lu’s princeling background and connections to gain more “political living space”.

Yanhuang Chunqiu has long had the support of retired high officials, giving it an unusual amount of independence, which editors have used to challenge the official line on historical events. In 2008, the magazine broke a propaganda taboo by publishing a favorable article about Zhao Ziyang. In response, authorities have taken steps over the years to rein in the publication. Last year, the website was shut down. Last month, the publication was required to switch its official affiliation to the Chinese National Academy of Arts, which is under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Culture, from the more independent Yan Huang Culture of China. Read more about Yanhuang Chunqiu, including a translated interview with co-founder Du Daozheng, via CDT.

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Anti-Terror, Smog Measures Ahead of APEC Summit

China Digital Times - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 15:04

As Beijing prepares to host a series of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings, state media reports that municipal police have been engaged in “security inspections and preparatory work” for the past eight weeks, and that officials yesterday urged “tight security checks to prevent terrorist attacks” during the meetings. Chinese authorities are currently engaged in a nationwide “war on terror” in response to a rise in violent incidents allegedly carried out by extremists from Xinjiang, amid which eight were recently executed for involvement in an attack on Beijing last year. The South China Morning Post’s Keira Lu Huang reports on security drills in the capital city yesterday:

The drills took place simultaneously at the China National Convention Centre in northern Beijing and at Yanqi Lake, with its 65-hectare island featuring a luxury hotel and villas on the outskirts of the capital, according to the China News Agency.

State media said the operations were designed to test the police response to riots and terrorist attacks.

[...] Officers descended on the sites as the operation unfolded and SWAT teams and armed police took up their positions. Helicopters patrolled the skies and sent live pictures back to the command centre during the 35-minute exercise that was overseen by the chief of the Beijing public safety department.

Meanwhile, security was stepped up around Tiananmen Square, in the heart of the city. [...] [Source]

As enhanced security efforts are being made ahead of the APEC summit, authorities are also taking great lengths to control another threat for which Beijing is infamous: air pollution. With heavy pollution season having already exposed Beijing residents to hazardous levels of pollution for a good part of October, Wayne Ma reports on Beijing’s goal to reduce pollution by up to 40% during the APEC gathering. From the Wall Street Journal:

The official Xinhua news agency reported Saturday that Chinese authorities plan to reduce air pollution in and around Beijing by as much as 40% during next month’s meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. That includes alternate-driving days for cars with even- and odd-numbered license plates, Xinhua said, citing Chai Fahe, vice president of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences.

This isn’t the first time Beijing has taken measures to improve the air during official visits. In August, the Beijing News reported that the city would heavily reduce the use of government vehicles for two weeks while hosting a meeting of senior officials from the APEC forum.

However, restricting car drivers to every other day is an unusual step for Beijing. It was last used to help improve air quality during the 2008 Olympics. The government hasn’t used the measure since, though officials said last year they would implement it for official use during emergencies. (Beijing still requires many drivers to take their cars off the streets one day a week based on the final digit of their license plate.) [...] [Source]

Another tactic being used to meet this goal: shut down the city, and create incentives for residents to leave town. From Bloomberg:

The municipal government announced a week-long break for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum Nov. 7-12, shutting schools, limiting cars on the roads and encouraging travel agencies to offer discount vacation packages. That comes after the week-long National Day holiday in early October.

China’s preparations for the APEC meetings go beyond cut-rate travel. Measures such as factory shutdowns are so sweeping that nationwide industrial production growth may be shaved by as much as half a percentage point in October and November, while steel output in nearby Hebei province may fall 10 percent in November.

[...] The measures are aimed at preventing smog from enveloping the city during the event, which will be attended by U.S. President Barack Obama, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladamir Putin. On Oct. 19, pollution levels exceeding World Health Organization limits by 16 times prompted many runners to drop out of the Beijing marathon and drew new attention to China’s difficulty in cleaning its air despite promises to do so. [Source]

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Fresh Cucumbers and Soft Tofu: New Survey Chronicles Chinese Sex Habits

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 14:45
For anyone in China who has ever wondered what the their neighbors get up to between the sheets, a survey by the China Sexology Association may help clarify things.
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Afghan President Vows to Help China Fight Extremists

China Digital Times - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 12:31

Newly elected Afghan president Ashraf Ghani arrived in Beijing today, where he was welcomed by Xi Jinping as an “old friend of the Chinese people.” The meeting between Xi and Ghani comes as the U.S. and NATO begin to wind down their military presence in the war-torn country; while China has said it will not send troops into Afghanistan, Xi did pledge US$245 million in aid to help in rebuilding efforts. As Afghanistan faces a rebounding threat of Taliban insurgency, Chinese authorities have been keen to present violent unrest in China’s Xinjiang region as part of the global jihad movement. A report from Reuters cites a Chinese official’s claim that Ghani has pledged to aid China in its fight against extremism in Xinjiang, and also offered his support for disputed Chinese territorial claims:

“In the area of security, President Ghani expressed the readiness and staunch support from the Afghan side in China’s fight against East Turkistan Islamic Movement terrorist forces,” Kong Xuanyou, Director General of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian Affairs Department, told journalists after Ghani and Xi met.

[...] Xi has repeatedly urged Central Asian countries to step up the fight against religious militants, which the Chinese government says were behind a spate of attacks in Xinjiang and across China that have left hundreds dead in the past two years.

Experts, however, dispute the influence of foreign militant groups within China, and argue that economic marginalization of Muslim Uighurs, who call Xinjiang home, is one of the main causes of ethnic violence there.

[...] Speaking to Xi at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, Ghani pressed China to open the Wakhan Pass connecting the two countries, a long-held request from Kabul which hopes to see an influx of Chinese development. China has resisted, fearing unrest will spill over into Xinjiang.

Ghani also offered unconditional support on China’s own territorial problems, citing “Taiwan, Tibet, and other issues”. [Source]

A report from Deutsche Welle notes that Beijing as been slowly increasing engagement with Afghanistan over the past two years, and quotes Afghan officials on the mutual benefits of future economic and security partnerships between the countries:

Beijing has gradually increased its engagement in Afghanistan since 2012. China’s former head of internal security, Zhou Yongkang, traveled to Kabul, with both governments agreeing, among other things, to the training of 300 Afghan police officers in China.

[...] From Kabul’s perspective, the expansion of economic relations with China and cooperation in the fight against terrorism are just two sides of the same coin. “China can play an important role to achieve peace and security in Afghanistan,” Ghani’s spokesman Fayeq Wahedi told DW.

“We see China both as a neighbor and regional power which can support Afghanistan in all areas, including the economy, trade and security.” Terrorism is now a common threat to both the countries, so it is important that the two cooperate to that end,” the spokesman added. [Source]

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China military figure admits taking bribes

FT China Feed - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 09:21
Xu Caihou is former vice-chairman of Central Military Commission
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Minitrue: Chow Yun-fat Banned from Mainland

China Digital Times - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 08:37

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 websites must find and delete the article “Chow Yun-fat Responds to Potential Ban from Mainland: I’ll Just Make Less, Then.” (October 27, 2014)

全网查删《周润发回应或被内地封杀:那就赚少一点啰》一文。 [Chinese]

Several different articles carry the same headline on both Chinese news sites (available in Google’s cache) and overseas websites. All report that Hong Kong actor Chow Yun-fat is allegedly blacklisted from the mainland, along with 46 other stars who have supported the ongoing protests for free elections in the special administrative region. Chow took the reported ban in stride, saying, “I’ll just make less, then.”

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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Beijing efficiency drive attacks mah-jong

FT China Feed - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 03:29
Officials should instead be brushing up their Communist party ideology and discipline
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30 Days Later: A Month of Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Protests in Photos

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 03:17
It’s been a month since Hong Kong police first fired dozens of rounds of tear gas at protesters, igniting public anger and helping bring tens of thousands of people into the streets of the financial capital. As pro-democracy protests enter their second month, with major roads still barricaded and as tensions with police simmer, here’s a day-by-day visual snapshot of that month.
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Leung ‘regrets’ HK voting comments

FT China Feed - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 03:01
Territory’s top official says he was ‘misunderstood’ over his views on low-income voters
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Chinese Communist Party Members Urged to Abstain From Mahjong, Other ‘Small Thrills’

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 02:43
Communist Party cadres should lead earnest political lives, China’s leaders recently declared as they extend an corruption crackdown across officialdom. In practice, party scholars say, this could spell the end for many cadres’ favored pastimes – lengthy mahjong and poker sessions.
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China’s ‘new normal’ for consumption

FT China Feed - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 01:10
Multinationals and official retail data tell a different story
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What Is a Uyghur?

China Digital Times - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 00:31

In an adaptation from his book The Sacred Routes of Uyghur History at The Los Angeles Review of Books, Loyola University New Orleans’ Rian Thum examines the emergence of modern Uyghur identity in and around Xinjiang:

[…] Although the word Uyghur, a name associated with certain pre-Islamic Altishahri kingdoms, had maintained an ephemeral presence in Altishahr all the way into the 20th century, it was not an ethnonym in wide use, and when it was used, it tended to be restricted to subgroups of inhabitants around the northern oases of Turpan and Qumul. The resurrection of the term as an ethnonym seems to have been influenced by European scholarship on the Uyghur Buddhist kingdoms, scholarship that was becoming available to intellectuals in Western Turkestan. In 1910 a Taranchi author published under the pen name Child of the Uyghur (Uyghur Ballisi). By the 1920s, political and cultural organizations were using Uyghur as an ethnonym, and debating whether it should include Kashgaris (Altishahris exclusive of Taranchis) only, Kashgaris and Taranchis, or perhaps even all of the ethnic groups of Xinjiang, including Han. In 1935 Sheng Shicai [the “warlord-governor” who ruled Xinjiang from 1933-44] enshrined the Uyghur category, essentially as it had developed among the Yettisu Taranchis, as an official ethnic category. […]

[…] By 1985 the Uyghur ethnonym was widely accepted by Altishahris. In that year, Justin Rudelson conducted a survey of 81 Turpan residents, in which all but five respondents ranked Uyghur among their three most salient identities (other choices being Muslim, Turpanliq, Junggoluq, and Turk). However, the long journey from the situation that pertained in 1934 to the wide use of the ethnonym Uyghur in 1985 remains largely hidden. While scholars have paid plenty of attention to the development of elite Uyghur nationalist discourse and state ethnic policies, the process by which acceptance of the new (though presented as old) Uyghur identity spread among the ordinary Altishahri population has never been carefully studied, due mostly to a dire lack of accessible sources on the subject. Much of the spread of the Uyghur idea must have taken place during the first three decades of Chinese Communist rule (i.e., 1949–1979) a period for which we have only scant and little-studied sources. [Source]

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Censorship and Surveillance in Xinjiang

China Digital Times - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 00:16

At The Los Angeles Times, Julie Makinen reports obstruction and harassment of reporters in Xinjiang amid China’s ongoing response to a series of deadly attacks.

[… E]ven as Chinese officials insist that this is a clear-cut battle against religious zealots and hard-core separatists, local authorities are making it difficult for anyone to independently question (or substantiate) that narrative. Outsiders inquiring about the scale or causes of the carnage in Xinjiang are unwelcome, and locals are discouraged from speaking freely about it.

That became abundantly clear on a recent Thursday when I and my assistant, our driver and guide suddenly found ourselves accompanied by two extremely persistent Xinjiang security officers who trailed us for hours and whose intimidating presence ensured that no one would talk openly to us.

China’s state-run media must follow the Communist Party line, but foreign journalists are supposed to be able to travel freely anywhere in the country except Tibet and interview anyone who consents.

In reality, though, authorities employ various tactics to stifle coverage. In a recent survey by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China, two-thirds of overseas reporters here said they had experienced interference, harassment or violence while attempting to report. [Source]

While obstructing independent information-gathering, Chinese authorities are building up their own intelligence capabilities in and beyond the region. From Reuters’ Ben Blanchard and Sui-Lee Wee:

The Xinhua state news agency said changes to the draft security law going through parliament were aimed at improving intelligence gathering and the sharing of information across government departments, while also enhancing international cooperation.

“Our country is facing a serious and complex struggle against terrorism,” Xinhua said.

“China will set up an anti-terrorism intelligence gathering center to coordinate and streamline intelligence gathering in the field, according to a draft law submitted for reading on Monday,” it said.

[…] Some recent attacks in Xinjiang have pointed to serious intelligence failures despite a big security presence there, including a bomb and knife attack at a train station in April that happened as President Xi Jinping was wrapping up a visit to the area. [Source]

See more on surveillance efforts in Xinjiang via CDT.

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Hundreds Turn Out to Mourn Tiananmen ‘Black Hand’

China Digital Times - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 23:46

Hundreds of people, including supporters who had never met him, attended the funeral for Chen Ziming, who played a key role in the 1989 protest movement and died last week of pancreatic cancer. Josh Chin and William Kazer report for the Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time blog:

Police prevented China Real Time from attending the funeral of Chen Ziming, 62 years old, who died of pancreatic cancer last week. At least one other would-be attendee, a democracy activist, reported being stopped by authorities on his way to the funeral, which was held in Beijing’s northern Changping district on Saturday morning.

But many others, including some who had never met him, packed the Changping funeral home to bid goodbye to a man who was little-known in the West but remembered by the country’s fractured pro-democracy activists as a unifying figure. Photos of the event seen by China Real Time showed mourners squeezed shoulder-to-shoulder inside the reception hall surrounded by wreaths.

Wang Ying, a well-known entrepreneur who was among the mourners, put the crowd at between 500 and 600 people.

The eulogy was delivered by retired Peking University sociologist Zheng Yefu, who described Mr. Chen as one of modern China’s leading figures in the fight against authoritarianism. In an essay written just after Mr. Chen’s death – large parts of which he repeated during his eulogy, according to those in attendance – Mr. Zheng listed the various pro-democracy movements leading up to 1989. “What’s especially astounding is that, at every step in China’s fight for freedom and rights, he played a central important role.”

Read more about Chen and his former partner Wang Juntao, and the 1989 protest movement that they participated in, via CDT. To learn more about Chen’s work in 1989, see Robin Munro and George Black’s book Black Hands of Beijing.

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