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Twelve Chinese Petitioners in Pesticide Suicide Bid

RFA ( Radio Free Asia) 2014-07-16 Twelve people are in hospital in Beijing after two mass suicide attempts apparently triggered by failure by the authorities to look into their grievances, including forced evictions, witnesses said. Five petitioners from the southwestern province of Guizhou on Wednesday attempted suicide in a Beijing police station by drinking pesticide […]

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Brand Wars: Battling China’s Trademark Squatters

By Sophie Brown, CNN July 18, 2014 — Updated 0230 GMT (1030 HKT) STORY HIGHLIGHTS Many register trademarks of well-known foreign brands in China to sell them for large sums Top Australian winemaker at center of legal dispute after failing to register Chinese name for its brand China’s trademark laws tend to favor so-called “trademark […]

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Wartime Confessions Reignite China and Japan’s “War of Words”

By David McKenzie and Zoe Li, CNN July 16, 2014 — Updated 0522 GMT (1322 HKT)   STORY HIGHLIGHTS Sino-Japanese relations fast deteriorating amid tensions over disputed islands in the East China Sea Analysts say China and Japan are engaged in a war of propaganda and rhetoric Jeff Kingston: “These battles over history undermine trust […]

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Apple iPhone a Danger to China National Security: State Media

BEIJING Sat Jul 12, 2014 10:19am EDT   (Reuters) – Chinese state media branded Apple Inc’s iPhone a threat to national security because of the smartphone’s ability to track and time-stamp user locations. A report by broadcaster CCTV on Friday criticized the iPhone’s “Frequent Locations” function for allowing users to be tracked and information about […]

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Why China is Stealing America’s Corn Seeds

By Charles Riley @CRrileyCNN July 3, 2014: 11:20 PM ET   HONG KONG (CNNMoney) Three years ago, a security guard working for seed company Pioneer Hi-Bred came across something unusual on a road in Iowa: Just off the pavement, a man was on his knees, digging in a field. Challenged by the guard, Mo Hailong […]

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Hundreds Arrested at Sit-ins Following Huge Pro-Democracy Rally in Hong Kong

By Tim Hume and Zoe Li, CNN July 2, 2014 — Updated 0332 GMT (1132 HKT)   STORY HIGHLIGHTS Huge crowds march in Hong Kong calling for democracy on the anniversary of handover NEW: 511 protesters arrested at illegal sit-ins following the march, say police An annual event, the march is especially charged this year […]

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After Almost 800,000 Occupy Central “Vote”, Hong Readies for Massive Protest

By Euan McKirdy and Wilfred Chan, CNN June 30, 2014 — Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT) STORY HIGHLIGHTS Unofficial referendum on Hong Kong’s political future draws almost 800,000 votes Results were announced just before the anniversary of the 1997 handover of power, traditionally a big day for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong Hong Kongers angered […]

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China “Baby Hatch” Inundated With Abandoned, Disabled Children

By Connie Young, for CNN June 30, 2014 — Updated 0456 GMT (1256 HKT) STORY HIGHLIGHTS Jinan ‘baby hatch’ overwhelmed since opening on June 1 Over 100 children abandoned, all had disabilities or medical conditions City has had to introduce new rules to reduce number of babies, children Babies must now be less than one […]

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Pakistani Newlyweds Decapitated by Bride’s Family in Honor Killing

 

By Shelby Lin Erdman, CNN

June 29, 2014 — Updated 0229 GMT (1029 HKT)

 

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Newlyweds in Pakistan are killed by the bride’s family over opposition to the wedding
  • Police say the couple was lured back to the bride’s village, tied up and beheaded
  • Family members turned themselves in after the murders and are now jailed

 

Pakistani Honour Killing(CNN) — A young newlywed couple in northeastern Pakistan died a horrible death at the hands of the bride’s family in the latest honor killing in the nation, police in Pakistan said Saturday.

The couple, identified as Sajjad Ahmed, 26, and Muawia Bibi, 18, were married by a Pakistani court on June 18 against the wishes of the Bibi family, Punjab police official Mohammad Ahsanullah told CNN.

On Thursday, the bride’s father and uncles lured the couple back to the village of Satrah in Punjab province, where Ahsanullah said the pair were tied up and then decapitated.

Despite the fact that there were no outside witnesses, family members turned themselves in to police and are now jailed in the Sialkot district of Punjab, Ahsanulluh said.

Such killings often originate from tribal traditions in Pakistan and usually happen in rural areas. Human rights activists said bystanders, including police, don’t often interfere because the killings are considered to be family matters.

According to the United Nations, some 5,000 women are murdered by family members in honor killings every year.

However, women’s advocacy groups believe the crime is underreported and that the actual death toll from this all too common crime is actually much higher.

In Pakistan, 869 women were victims of honor killings last year, according to the country’s human rights commission.

Earlier in June, 18-year-old Saba Masqood was found left for dead inside of a sack in a canal in Pakistan, injured by gunfire. She accused her brother and father of shooting her because they didn’t approve of her marriage to a neighbor. She survived, but many aren’t so lucky.

Last month, the death of a pregnant Pakistani woman made headlines around the world.

Farzana Parveen, 25, was attacked with bricks by about 20 people, including members of her immediate family, police said. And her husband, Mohammad Iqbal, told CNN that he had killed his first wife six years ago so he could marry Parveen.

Pregnant Pakistani woman beaten to death with bricks

I killed my first wife, stoned Pakistani woman’s husband says

CNN VIDEO: Pakistani Honour Killing

 

 

 

 

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Party Boss of China’s Guangzhou Investigated for Graft

BEIJING Fri Jun 27, 2014 5:11am EDT

 

Wan(Reuters) – The Chinese Communist Party boss of the southern city of Guangzhou is being investigated for corruption, the party’s anti-corruption body said on Friday, the latest target of President Xi Jinping’s war on graft.

Wan Qingliang was suspected of “serious disciplinary violations”, the usual euphemism for graft, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said. It provided no other details and it was not possible to reach Wan for comment.

China is in the midst of a sweeping campaign against deep-rooted corruption launched by Xi after he became head of the Communist Party two years ago, warning the problem is so serious it threatens the party’s very survival.

The commission said the party had also expelled a former senior official in charge of the controversial petitioning system, accusing him of taking bribes, adultery and other violations of the law.

The system of petitions dates back to imperial times as a means for citizens to bring grievances to the attention of government officials by bypassing the legal system or authorities, especially at the local level.

The commission said Xu Jie, formerly deputy head of the State Bureau for Letters and Calls, was responsible for a series of cases involving the bureau’s office that receives petitioners “severely violating party discipline and the law”.

An investigation found that Xu abused his position by demanding and receiving bribes, it said in a statement released in its website. Xu was also an adulterer, the commission added, without providing details. Party officials are supposed to be morally upstanding.

Xu will be handed over to judicial authorities and be dealt with “in accordance with the law”.

The southwestern province of Sichuan, which was a powerbase of the influential former domestic security chief, Zhou Yongkang, has emerged as one of the front lines of the anti-corruption campaign.

Sources have told Reuters that Zhou has been put under virtual house arrest while the party conducts a graft probe, though Beijing has yet to make an announcement about his case.

The former party boss of the small Sichuan city of Ya’an was sacked for taking bribes, as well as having improper sexual relationships with married women, the commission said in a separate announcement on Friday.

This week, the largely ceremonial advisory body to parliament expelled a former senior Sichuan military official, Ye Wanyong, though it did not give a reason.

The military has been another target of the corruption fight. In March, China charged former senior army officer Gu Junshan with graft, in what is likely to be the country’s worst military scandal in years. [ID:nL4N0MS2O5]

Gu has been charged with corruption, taking bribes, misuse of public funds and abuse of power.

(Reporting by Li Hui, Ben Blanchard and Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Nick Macfie)

 

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Primark Investigating “Forced Labour” Notes Found in Clothing

By Sophie Brown, CNN

June 26, 2014 — Updated 0948 GMT (1748 HKT)

 

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Woman in Northern Ireland finds note in garment, allegedly from Chinese prisoner
  • Two other cases involving the same retailer have been reported in Wales in recent days
  • Primark is investigating all three incidents, but says circumstances are suspicious
  • Amnesty has documented prison labor camps in China in the past

 

Chinese Labour Camp Note(CNN) — A shopper in Northern Ireland may have gotten more than she bargained for when she reportedly discovered a chilling note stuffed in a pair of pants she purchased from European retailer, Primark.

Scrawled on a yellow piece of paper and wrapped around what appears to be a prison identification card, was a message claiming to be from an inmate at a Chinese prison making clothes for export under conditions of slave labor.

“We work 15 hours every day and eat food that wouldn’t even be fed to pigs and dogs. We’re (forced to) work like oxen,” the handwritten note said in Chinese.

The message appealed to the international community to “condemn these human rights abuses by the Chinese government.”

Tip of the iceberg?

Karen Wisinska, who lives in Northern Ireland’s Fermanagh county, said she bought the pants for about £10 ($16) on a trip to Belfast in 2011, but left the garment in her closet — unworn — after she discovered the zipper was broken.

She only found the note when she retrieved the item while packing for a holiday last week, she said. After getting a rough translation of the note, Wisinka sought help from Amnesty International, an organization that has documented the use of forced labor in Chinese detention facilities in the past.

“I was shocked to find this note and card inside the trousers from Primark and even more shocked to discover that it appears to have been made under slave labor conditions in a Chinese prison,” she told Amnesty.

“I am only sorry that I did not discover the note when I first purchased the clothing — then I could have brought this scandal to light much earlier.”


Broken by China’s labor camps CNN VIDEO: Broken by China’s Labour Camps

China under fire over labor camps CNN VIDEO: China Under Fire Over Labour Camps

 

Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland program director, Patrick Corrigan, described the story as “horrific.”

“It’s very difficult to know whether it’s genuine, but the fear has to be that this is just the tip of the iceberg,” Corrigan said.

Investigation underway

Primark denied sourcing clothing made using forced labor in a statement Wednesday, noting the “considerable time delay” since the garment was purchased.

A spokesperson for the company said that particular line of pants was last sold in Northern Ireland in October 2009.

“We find it very strange that this … has come to light so recently, given that the trousers were on sale four years ago,” he said.

Since 2009, the company’s ethical standards team has carried out nine inspections of the supplier who made the garment, and found no prison or forced labor of any kind, the statement said.

Despite the company’s suspicions, the spokesperson said Primark “knows its responsibilities to the workers in its supply chain,” and has started a detailed investigation.

The company is also examining two other cases that have surfaced in Wales in recent days. On two separate occasions, women reportedly found desperate pleas sewn into labels on dresses purchased from the same Primark store in Swansea. One read “Forced to work exhausting hours,” while the other said, “Degrading sweatshop conditions.”

Primark said the circumstances surrounding the incidents were suspicious, since the labels looked very similar and the two garments were on sale around the same time, but they were made in two different countries, “many thousands of miles apart.”

The budget retailer was among a group of international brands that sourced from factories in Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza building, whichcollapsed in April 2013, killing more than 1,000 workers and injuring 2,500 others.

The company said it has paid over $12 million in aid and compensation to to support the victims of the disaster.

Forced laborin China

It’s not the first time western consumers have found distressing notes allegedly from abused workers in detention in China.

In 2011, a woman in the United States found a letter in a mix of broken English and Chinese inside a Halloween decoration purportedly from a inmate who made the object under abusive conditions. Last year, CNN tracked down a Chinese man who claimed he wrote the note, along with more than a dozen others, while at a labor camp in northeastern China.

Sears, the company that owned the store that sold the item, said it found “no evidence” that production was subcontracted to a labor camp during its investigation into the case, but added it no longer sourced from that supplier.

Until recently, China used hundreds of labor camps to detain petty offenders without a trial, under what was known as the laojiao — or “re-education through labor” — scheme. The system was criticized by human rights groups as a means to silence so-called trouble makers, including political dissidents, activists and Falun Gong members.

In November last year, Beijing said it would begin to close the camps. But Amnesty International has since warned that while the laojiao camps have been shut, research suggests that authorities have expanded the use of other forms of arbitrary detention such as “black jails,” enforced drug rehabilitation clinics and “brainwashing centers” to take their place.

CNN could not reach the Xiang Nan prison in China’s Hubei province, where the note found in Northern Ireland allegedly came from. The facility houses around 5,000 inmates, according to China’s justice ministry.

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“Invisible” in India: The Story of the Disabled Boy Tied to Mumbai Bus Stop

By Mallika Kapur, CNN

June 23, 2014 — Updated 0739 GMT (1539 HKT)

 

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Deaf and mute, nine-year-old Lakhan Kale was being cared for by his grandmother
  • She tied him to a pole while she went to work selling trinkets on a Mumbai beachfront
  • He now lives in a juvenile center but it’s not a home for children with special needs
  • Mumbai’s suffering a severe shortage of care homes for children with disabilities

 

Disabled Boy Tied to Bus StopMumbai (CNN) — When I first heard that a nine-year-old boy had been found tied to a bus stop in Mumbai, I was surprised. He can’t have been, I thought. In Mumbai?

When I found out where the bus stop in question was, I was even more surprised. I pass by that area often. I’d never seen a young boy chained to a pole.

Had I passed by and just not noticed?

Like me, thousands of Mumbaikars didn’t see Lakhan Kale, who suffers from cerebral palsy, on the pavement.

According to the last census conducted in 2011, around 26.8 million people are in living with disabilities in India. That’s 2.2% of the population of more than 1.2 billion. Other bodies, including the World Bank, say the figure is much higher.

However, many of disabled people, like Lakhan, are allowed to quietly fade into the background in a populous country wracked by poverty where the worth and survival of many depends on their ability to work.

Let me tell you Lakhan’s story.

Life on the pavement

In addition to cerebral palsy, the general term for a group of neurological conditions that affect the body’s movement and coordination, Lakhan is deaf and mute. “He was fine when he was born, in fact he was a chubby baby,” his paternal grandmother Sakubai recalls. She says a few months later, Lakhan developed a high fever. “One night, he shook violently,” she says. “He was never the same again.”

Sakubai tears up when she talks to us about her grandson. We meet her at her home — a grimy stretch of pavement, right behind the bus stop. Desperately poor, this is where she lives. She sleeps here on a sari she spreads onto the ground. She eats here, buying food from a street vendor when she can afford to.

She is Lakhan’s only caretaker. She tells us his father passed away four years ago. His mother deserted them. His older sister ran away. For a long time, it was just Sakubai and her grandson living, eating, sleeping and surviving together on the pavement.

She may be in her 70s, but Sakubai still works to earn a meager living selling small toys and trinkets on Chowpatty, a popular beachfront in the heart of Mumbai.

She says she had no choice but to tie him to a pole. “He is deaf so he would not be able to hear traffic coming. If he ran onto the road, he’d get killed,” she says. “See, it’s a long rope,” Sakubai says, as she shows me the frayed cloth she would use to tie Lakhan’s leg. I notice many of them, tied to different poles.

Lakhan is not alone

There are many children like Lakhan in Mumbai, says Meena Mutha, a social worker. Mutha’s been involved with his case since the end of May. Lakhan was taken into care after a photographer published his photo in the local newspaper. A police constable saw it and asked Mutha to intervene.

“When I saw him first, I did feel he needs help. He needs a home,” Mutha recalls. Since his grandmother is already 70 years old, he could be without a caretaker in five or 10 years, she says. He needed somewhere secure to stay.

Unable to find a shelter that looks after children with special needs, Mutha took him to a government-run juvenile center in Mumbai. Lakhan is there now but Mutha isn’t happy because it’s not a home for children with special needs.

And that’s the problem, Mutha says. There’s a serious shortage of residential facilities for children with disabilities in Mumbai.

The superintendent of the facility, S. A. Jadhav says Lakhan is being well looked after but he too is trying to find him a more suitable home. According to Jadhav, there is only one shelter for children with special needs in Mumbai and he can’t get Lakhan a spot there because that too is severely overcrowded.

CNN attempted several times to contact the minister responsible for women and children’s affairs in Mumbai, Varsha Gaikwad, but received no response. Her office is a short walk away from bus stop 59 where Lakhan was found.

Poverty and disability are dangerous combinations, says Dr. Shabnam Rangwala, who works with Able Disable People Together (ADAPT), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to create an inclusive disability-friendly India.

Those who can afford to give their children or family members the care they need, do so. Those who can’t, end up like Lakhan; on the streets, with no recourse to social services, invisible to the public.

 

CNN VIDEO:Disabled Boy Tied to Bus Stop

 

 

Yulin Dog Meat Festival

Canine Controversy: Chinese Festival Serves Up Dog Meat

By Connie Young, for CNN

June 23, 2014 — Updated 0359 GMT (1159 HKT)

 

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Yulin’s annual dog meat festival draws controversy
  • Animal rights advocates want people to stop eating dog meat
  • Defenders say eating dog meat is like eating beef

Dog MeatYulin, China (CNN) — A mob of people have surrounded a group of animal rights activists protesting in the busiest open market in town. It’s the eve of Yulin’s annual dog meat festival, a tradition that dates back generations to celebrate the summer solstice.

Arguments ensue among those living in the city and the people who condemn the tradition. “Don’t you eat beef? If you stop eating beef, then we’ll stop eating dog meat,” yells one man frustrated with the intense media scrutiny in the Dong Kou open market, where an array of birds, snakes, cats and livestock are sold as daily fresh fare.

Dozens of journalists, filmmakers and photographers have come to the city in China’s southeast Guangxi province to document an event that lies at the center of a battle between deeply-ingrained tradition and the encroachment of the modern world. Activists say dogs are part of the daily diet here, with an estimated 10,000 dogs killed for the festival alone.

Ask a local when the tradition of eating dog meat began and you’ll likely be met with a dumbfounded expression — it is akin to asking someone when people started eating beef. For many in the city, eating dog meat is a hard habit to break, despite changing attitudes about the treatment of animals in China.

Rising prices

Another man at the market criticizes the media attention for increasing the price of dog meat, which has doubled since 2011 and now goes for $6 a kilogram.

In one stall, a butcher places a gutted and skinned dog on a wired sheath and uses a blow torch to cook a delicacy known to locals as “crispy skin dog meat.” As the shop owner butchers a another piece of dog, flecks of flesh flick onto her face. She tells CNN she’s been in the trade for over 10 years.

“This is our tradition and we are used to eating dog. It’s our culture and we won’t change … It’s tasty! But we won’t kill our pet,” she says, referring to her own dog who is cowering in the other side of the shop. Her dog tucks his head under a freezer, shielding his eyes from the carcasses of the dogs and cats hanging from hooks.

Signs around the market adorned with pictures of labradors and golden retrievers advertise raw dog meat for sale, despite new government regulations that restrict this practice.

Du Yufeng, a 58-year-old animal rights activists from Sichuan in southwest China, has made it her mission to stop dog meat consumption across China. Her protest in 2011 successfully ended the dog meat festival in Jinhua, in Zhejiang province — and she has now turned her attention to Yulin. It’s her fourth year protesting at the festival, and while dog meat continues to be a tourist attraction for the city, Du feels that there is growing awareness of animal rights in this city of six million people.

“I feel like we’ve had a lot of improvement in public awareness. The first time we came here in 2011 all you could hear were dogs wailing as soon as you entered into the city,” Du says, as she picks off ticks from the scruff of a black dog she rescued that morning.

“The biggest change is that the word dog on street signs have to be covered. This means the government has become aware that this needs to be canceled. Many people also realize that eating dog is not an honorable thing,” adds Du.

Boycott

Du is one of over 20 volunteers who have descended upon the city from the far reaches of China, to boycott the festival. Many run dog and cat shelters in their hometowns and have spent their life savings to rescue abandoned and diseased animals. But canceling the annual Yulin festival is now their main objective.

Another activist, Zhao Yangsu,said this is her first year protesting against the Yulin dog meat festival. The soft spoken 59-year old, who came to the city from Chongqing, says she’s spent her retirement money, roughly $1,000, to save dogs — a fact she’s reluctant to share with her children. She and another volunteer operate from makeshift shelter on the corner of a street in Yulin, only a block from where live dogs are traded on a daily basis.

Though she has come here to fight for the rights of these animals, she’s pessimistic about any meaningful change here.

“I have no hope that these people will change and our ability to make change is not significant enough,” Zhao says. “We have to go through the government to create some laws to protect these animals, but there are no laws and our ability to do anything is insignificant.”

Yang Yuhua, a 64-year-old retired steel worker, has also spent her life savings protecting street dogs and cats in Chongqing, and now she says she doesn’t even have money to charge her phone. Yang was cradling a dead puppy when CNN arrived at the makeshift shelter. She says the puppy was born after they had rescued a pregnant dog and this one did not make it. Almost all the dogs appeared injured, disfigured and diseased.

“What we need the most now is medicine, but it’s the most expensive thing,” Yang says as as she tears up. Many of the dogs in her care are in desperate need of antibiotics to fight off infection, but the volunteers don’t know where to find them in the city.

Together, the activists say they’ve saved more than 400 dogs this year alone in Yulin — yet this number will be dwarfed by the number of animals likely to be slaughtered for food at the festival. Asked what makes this different from eating beef or pork, Du Yunfeng’s answer is unequivocal.

“You cannot categorically say that all animals should either be eaten or not eaten,” she says.

“Every animal has their its own value and worth. For example, grass-eating animals are meant to be supplied to humans. But these companion animals, such as dogs and cats, they are meant to contribute to human production — such as drug-sniffing dogs or watch dogs,

“So eating these animals compared to eating pork and lamb are two different things. Their value is not the same.”

 

CNN VIDEO:Canine Controversy

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Tackling Thailand’s Human Trafficking Problem

By Sophie Brown, CNN

June 21, 2014 — Updated 0508 GMT (1308 HKT)

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • U.S. says Thailand isn’t doing enough to fight human trafficking
  • Thailand could face sanctions as a result of State Department’s annual report
  • Thailand’s ambassador to the U.S. says “significant efforts” have been made to tackle problem
  • Countries need to show “results” not only promises, State Department says

 

Thailand Trafficking(CNN) — Ever since Myo’s head was smashed into a block of ice he’s had trouble hearing. The Burmese man, whose name has been changed for his safety, was on a fishing boat in Thailand last year when it happened.

He had left Myanmar, also known as Burma, thinking he was going to work in a factory processing pineapple. But when he arrived in Thailand, he says, his recruiters sold him to a boat captain for the equivalent of around $430. After being held on the vessel for 10 months, working against his will and suffering regular beatings, he finally managed to escape.

Myo’s story features in the United States’ latest report on countries efforts to fight modern slavery around the world. It echoes numerous other accounts told by trafficking survivors to international media and human rights groups in Thailand in recent years.

Many are foreign migrants who report being forced into labor or prostitution; some face physical abuse or even death. The lucky ones escape or know someone who can pay the exorbitant price for their release.

For four years the U.S. State Department has warned Thailand that it hasn’t been doing enough to combat human trafficking. It said the country was a source, transit point and destination for trafficking, with ethnic minorities and citizens of neighboring countries at particular risk of exploitation in the sex trade and forced labor.

In the State Department’s 2012 and 2013 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, Thailand faced relegation to the worst category, but received waivers based on a plan to bring itself into compliance with minimum standards for eliminating trafficking.

On Friday, when the State Department released its 2014 report, it automatically downgraded Thailand to the lowest possible ranking, after the country reached its limit of waivers and failed to show significant improvement.

Read: U.S. downgrades four countries in trafficking report

Now, the Southeast Asian nation shares the “Tier 3″ category with 22 other countries, putting it on par with the likes of North Korea, Syria and the Central African Republic.

Sihasak Phuangketkheow, the permanent secretary to Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called the move “a great disappointment.”

“I do know that Thailand has been doing much better than those countries in that category,” he said. “So I ask U.S. whether Thailand should be in that category.”

Sihasak said Thailand will continue efforts to tackle this problem.

The downgrade means Thailand could see the withdrawal of non-humanitarian U.S. assistance, and its opposition to funding from international institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Although anti-trafficking advocates, like the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking, believe the U.S. is unlikely to impose such sanctions in practice to preserve security, and economic ties between the two nations.

Progress?

Thai authorities acknowledge there is a problem. “Human trafficking is one of the worst forms of human indignity and Thailand is committed to eliminating this inhumane exploitation,” the Thai Ambassador to the United States, Vijavat Isarabhakdi, said in a recent press statement.

But he insisted significant progress has been made in tackling the issue, and that efforts made in 2013 exceeded the State Department’s criteria for an upgrade.

“We’re not doing it just because it might impact our trade … we think that it’s a scourge that needs to be eradicated in Thailand and other countries,” Isarabhakdi told CNN.

He pointed to the number of trafficking convictions — 225 defendants were convicted in 2013, over four times more than the previous year. The government took legal action against more than 150 illegal labor recruitment companies for alleged corruption, forced labor, human trafficking and smuggling. The police carried out over 28,000 police inspections in workplaces suspected of being used for commercial sex and forced labor, he said.

“So in total, I think that we’ve been doing a lot, but we acknowledge the fact that much more needs to be done,” he added.

Yet Thailand’s law enforcement efforts remain “insufficient” compared to the size of the issue, the State Department said.

“In Thailand, we have a lot of beginnings that will hopefully come to fruition, but the report doesn’t look at promises, it looks at results,” said Luis CdeBaca, the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. “In this coming year, we hope we’ll see success with the new round of cases that there have been some arrests in. We’re seeing some good numbers from police, but what happens when the prosecutors get the cases? What happened when the judges hear the cases?”

Prostitution, slavery at sea

Two of the biggest areas of concern are sex trafficking, and forced labor, especially in the fishing industry.

The majority of Thai victims identified during 2013 were found in the country’s billion dollar sex industry, according to the State Department. The exact number of women and children exploited through prostitution in Thailand is unknown, but estimates from researchers and non-profit groups put the figure in the tens of thousands. Victims are subject to sex trafficking in venues that cater to local demand, along with establishments in tourist hubs like Bangkok and Chiang Mai that cater to foreigners, the State Department said.

Thailand is also the world’s third-largest exporter of seafood. A 2013 study published by the U.N.’s International Labor Organization (ILO) found that 17% of around 600 fishermen in Thailand said they worked against their will and were unable to leave for threat of financial penalties, the threat of violence or being reporting to authorities. Around six in 10 migrants who had been forced to work on Thai fishing boats said they had seen the murder of another worker, according to a 2009 survey from the U.N. Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking.

Corruption

According to the State Department, Thailand’s efforts to address trafficking are being hampered by “corruption at all levels.” Some corrupt officials have even protected brothels and food processing facilities from raids and inspections, the TIP report said. Police officers at the local and national level, who had been assigned to regions notorious for trafficking, formed protective relationships with traffickers. Immigration officials and police have allegedly sold migrants who were unable to pay labor brokers and sex traffickers, according to the report.

“There are cases of suspected corruption, and in all the cases, investigations have been or are being carried out,” Ambassador Isarabhakdi said. “At least 33 police officers and also five high-ranking police officials were, or are being, punished under the civil or criminal processes. So many of the cases are still in the process but many have been punished already.”

The State Department acknowledged Thailand has improved its system for collecting anti-trafficking data, but says authorities have demonstrated little effort in addressing reports of debt bondage among foreign migrants in commercial sectors, and have not made “sufficient efforts” to proactively identify trafficking victims.

It also warned that the use of harsh criminal defamation laws to prosecute those who researched or reported on trafficking “may have discouraged efforts” to combat the practice.

Rohingya asylum seekers

One particular area of concern, according to the State Department, are reports of trafficking of Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya minority — many of whom have fled ethnic and religious violence in the country in recent years and pass through neighboring countries, including Thailand. They are among those most vulnerable to being trafficked, the State Department says.

“We’re concerned about the Rohingya — the refugees and asylum seekers. We are concerned that some of them have been subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor,” said CdeBaca. “We want the Thai government to investigate and duly address those things.”

But when Thailand submitted its 2013 trafficking data to the United States for the Trafficking in Persons project in March, officials said they found no evidence that Rohingya were victims of trafficking, because their transit through Thailand was voluntary. This conflicted with reports from local NGOs and media groups: At least 40,000 ethnic Rohingya and Bangladeshis passed through trafficking camps in Thailand in 2013, according to Chris Lewa, director of the human rights group, the Arakan Project. Although she points out that it’s a rough estimate because it’s difficult to trace every single migrant boat.

On Friday, the Thai Ambassador to the U.S. told CNN that while most of the Rohingya cases involved willful smuggling, towards the end of the reporting period, December 2013, there were cases of trafficking also.

“Those cases are being investigated and will be dealt with in next year’s report I’m sure,” he said.

Thailand is not alone in struggling to demonstrate it is serious about fighting trafficking. Malaysia, its southern neighbor, has also been downgraded to Tier 3 in this year’s report, and all other nations it shares borders with remain on the State Department’s watch list.

Countries like Thailand and Malaysia will need to show “results” if they want to get off the State Department’s list next year, CdeBaca said.

CNN’s Leif Coorlim contributed to this report.

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Outrage Follows Sexist Outburst at Tokyo Assembly Meeting

By Will Ripley and Edmund S. Henry, CNN

June 20, 2014 — Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Male colleagues heckled assemblywoman Ayaka Shiomura
  • They interrupted her with comments urging her to get married
  • They also questioned whether she could bear children.

Ayaka ShiomuraTokyo (CNN) — Outrage is growing in Japan after lawmakers hurled sexist comments at an assemblywoman giving a speech this week about the need for more services for women.

Male colleagues heckled Your Party member Ayaka Shiomura on Wednesday during a Tokyo assembly meeting. They interrupted her with comments urging her to get married and questioning whether she could bear children.

Shiomura had taken the stage to urge the Tokyo Metropolitan government to increase efforts to support women. Citing recent regulations that require mothers to fold up their strollers when boarding a train, she outlined struggles Japanese women face when dealing with pregnancy and raising a child due to lack of public support.

She also addressed the issue of infertility.

However, she was interrupted by a male member of the ruling LDP who shouted, “You should get married!”

Shiomura smiled weakly and continued amid male laughter.

A second outburst, “Can you even bear a child?” followed as tears welled up in her eyes and her voice began to break.

When she sat down after her speech, she was seen drying her eyes with a handkerchief. Later, she posted on Ayaka Shiomura 1 Facebook that the outbursts were like “a punch in the gut” and called on the hecklers to come forward.

Backlash ensued, with television pundits debating the incident and women lawmakers demanding the names of those responsible be released.

Sexism in common in the nation’s workplace, and there have been concerns that Japan’s fertility rate will continue to drop as more women choose careers instead of marriage and children.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has attempted to fill a gender gap in the workplace through “Womenomics,” but men still hold the majority of positions of authority and command greater salaries.

Men in Japan earn 30% more than their female counterparts, according to statistics cited by Abe during an editorial last year announcing the launch of “Womenomics.”

Statistics from the National Personnel Authority show just 3% of women are managers in Japan’s central government, a number the Prime Minister has said is too low.

The goal is to increase that number to 30% by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Abe has said.

CNN VIDEO – Sexist Outburst

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Do Chinese Classrooms Have to Talk About Sex?

By Jemimah Steinfeld, for CNN

June 19, 2014 — Updated 0638 GMT (1438 HKT)

 

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Sex-related social issues on the rise in China, including sexual assault, STDs, unwanted pregnancies
  • Sex education is key to eradicating these problems, but educators have little incentive to teach
  • Traditional beliefs impede honest talk about sex
  • A one-minute Chinese video explaining important sex facts goes viral online

 

Editor’s note: Jemimah Steinfeld is a journalist who writes on youth culture in China. Her first book “Little Emperors and Material Girls: Sex and Youth in China” will be published at the start of 2015.

Sex Education in classesHong Kong (CNN) — When Lijia Zhang was 10-years old, her mother told her babies are born from armpits.

“I thought that’s strange, because there’s no hole there,” Zhang recalls, adding that she “had absolutely nothing” in terms of sex ed when she was growing up in Nanjing in the 1970s, beyond what her mother told her.

Now a journalist writing for English-language publications, Zhang publicly revealed her own experience of molestation by a schoolteacher in a recent opinion piece on the severity of child sex abuse in China.

Zhang is part of a growing number of voices calling for better sex education to combat child sex abuse, rising rates of sexually transmitted diseases, and unwanted pregnancies.

“With so little sex education and knowledge, you become very vulnerable to abuse,” says Zhang.

Sex education is taught inadequately in school and avoided by parents, resulting in generations of Chinese children growing up wondering if babies come out of armpits, or from the garbage dump, as others have also cited.

“We’ve never had a class on sex ed at my school. We’re not even allowed to have a boyfriend or a girlfriend. No kissing, nothing,” says Sun Meimei, an 18-year-old student at a top boarding school in wealthy Chengdu. Her teachers simply told her she would “be in trouble” if she had a boyfriend.

No incentive

Typically, Chinese students are taught the basic anatomical differences between the sexes and little else. There’s no real incentive for educator or student to learn about it. It then becomes a vicious cycle: no one learns about it so no one is in a position to later teach it.

But the puritanical classrooms hardly translate to a prudish society. A 2012 survey by the Qiushi journal showed that 70% of Chinese have engaged in pre-marital sex, up from just 15% of those surveyed in 1989.

Top-down efforts to make sex education part of the compulsory education curriculum were seen at the CPPCC this past March when two committee members spoke out about the issue. Meanwhile, Chinese Internet users have taken matters into their own hands, posting videos that teach crucial sex facts in one-minute clips, with some going viral and being watched millions of times.

Nothing to be desired

The repercussions of a population in the dark about the bedroom are vast. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are on the ascent and China has particularly high rates of syphilis, while sexual transmission now accounts for 81.7% of all new HIV infections.

Unwanted pregnancies are also rife. China has a staggering 13 million annual abortions, according to recent data published by China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission in 2013. In one instance a teenage girl underwent 13 abortions. These numbers would lower significantly if Chinese women knew how to use contraception effectively — but most don’t.

The lack of sex education plagues rural and urban areas equally. Meizhen Wu is a market researcher, investigating sexual health as part of her job. She had never heard of the human papilloma virus (HPV), a commonly transmitted STD responsible for 70% of cervical cancer cases worldwide. Wu only found out about it when her company put her in charge of work related to the HPV vaccine, which in China, is only available in Hong Kong.

Wu remembers her own sex education. It consisted of watching one 45-minute-long video explaining sexual differences between boys and girls.

The video was counterproductive. Wu says it reinforced gender stereotypes of girls as passive and boys as active and aggressive.

Herein lies a dark consequence of poor sex education: females are particularly compromised.

A recent report from the United Nations revealed a shocking 22.2% of 998 Chinese males surveyed had raped a woman.

Children also don’t have the knowledge to protect themselves from unwanted sexual attention. A total of 125 cases of sexual assault on children were reported in 2013.

Richard Burger, author of “Behind the Red Door: Sex in China,” says knowledge is as important for empowering potential victims as it is for curbing aggressors. “Better sexual education would teach men to respect women more and be sensitive to their sexual needs, including the right to say ‘no,'” he says.

Dirty talk

When the Communists came to power in 1949, talking about sex became strictly taboo. It was erased from public life, especially during the Cultural Revolution when men and women squeezed into gender-neutral Mao jackets and all energy was directed towards the revolutionary cause.

This changed during China’s opening up period starting in the mid-1970s. As years of state-sponsored puritanism began to dissolve, the first sex education courses were instated in Shanghai, in 1981. The same year saw the Ministry of Education announcing sex ed classes would be established in all middle schools throughout the country.

Even then, the government preached abstention over indulgence. For example, the 1988 sex education charter warned adolescents of the dangers of premarital sex.

Ultimately, a prudish attitude prevails and as yet no standardized and authoritative teaching materials have been issued on the topic.

The government approach dovetails with its concerns over “polluted” and “unhealthy” material: References to sex, including kissing, are constantly edited out of public life, such as the sex scenes cut from Ang Lee’s “Lust, Caution” or more recently, the censoring of an on-stage lesbian kiss during the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest.

Educators have also largely ignored what calls the government has made to improve sex education. In part, teachers are too embarrassed to cover the subject, but primarily they concentrate on meeting their own academic targets. Sex is not a subject tested in the all-important university entrance exam and teachers have little incentive to emphasize the subject.

“At school the focus is to get students to score high in exams in order to get them into good universities. Sex education is not considered important,” Zhang explains.

Parents spur this on, pressuring their children to concentrate on academics above all else. Zhang adds that Confucian thought doesn’t encourage open discussion of sex. As a popular saying goes: “Lust is the worst of all wicked things; Filial piety is the best of all good things.”

TCM obstacles

Traditional Chinese medicine offers advice on coitus that can be at odds with modern science — again impeding honest talk about sex.

“There are big gaps between western concepts and Chinese traditional culture,” says Tao Lin, president of the World Association of Chinese Sexologists. Within traditional Chinese thought, semen is believed to be more precious than blood, with one drop said to equal 10 drops of blood. Excessive sexual activity that causes the loss of semen from the body is thought to be harmful, explains Tao.

The combination of misinformation and lack of teachers who are qualified on the subject is toxic, says Tao.

“Contradictions arise between radical and conservative, right and wrong. The radical may explain the use of condoms in middle school while the conservative still insist on abstinence in college. Someone says puppy love is beneficial, while someone says puppy love should be prohibited,” says Tao.

He adds that only one college in the country — Capital Normal University — offers an academic minor in sex education.

Protecting the future

With few avenues for young Chinese to turn to for information, the Internet and the arts have become key educators. An online survey showed that 88% of Chinese youth polled said they had learned about sex on their own.

There are signs of change. In light of child abuse cases, the issue of China’s poor sex education has recently gained traction. There’s growing support amongst parents for improvements and the government released a teaching outline in March for sex education lessons. It offers step-by-step guidance on how to instruct primary school children to better protect themselves from sexual abuse.

Many NGOs are also aiding the dissemination of knowledge. Tao’s organisation is one example, but he lists a series of other social organizations, such as the Ford Foundation and Path, who have all done “a great deal to promote sex education in China.”

Lily Liu Liqing, country director from NGO Marie Stopes, which was established in China in 2000, says they aim “to empower young people to have open and informed attitudes towards love, sex and life” through a series of services. Their best known initiative is the You&Me clinics, where young people can receive information on family planning.

 

 

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Dog Meat For Dinner: Feast Held Early to Dodge Festival Critics

The Associated Press
Published Wednesday, June 18, 2014 9:14AM EDT

Dog MeatBEIJING — Residents in a southern Chinese city that has come under fire for an annual summer solstice festival in which thousands of dogs are slaughtered for food have held their feasts early to avoid attention.

Some residents of Yulin started gathering last weekend and eating dog meat and lychees to celebrate the longest day of the year, ahead of Saturday’s actual solstice, state media reported this week. The residents wanted to avoid protests by animal rights activists.

In recent years, the festival has been targeted by activists who have drummed up public awareness of the event with posts on social media and online petitions, and descended on the city to protest outside slaughterhouses or markets where the dogs are sold.

The public uproar reflects the increasing affluence of ordinary Chinese, who keep pets, travel overseas and are changing attitudes toward traditions they may not have questioned before.

Photos on state media showed groups of Yulin city residents tucking into plates of meat and vegetables around dining tables strewn with lychees. Other photos, which circulated widely on Chinese microblogs, were of skinned, cooked dogs hanging from hooks at street stalls or piled on tables.

Under the Yulin tradition, eating dog and lychee and drinking liquor on the solstice is supposed to make people stay healthy during winter. It is unclear if the supposed health benefits diminish if the feast occurs before the actual solstice.

Animal rights activists say the event is a public health risk because the dogs undergo no quarantine to ensure they are free of disease, and that they are strays grabbed off streets around the country, as well as allegedly stolen from pet owners. The dogs are often poisoned with toxic chemicals that could be harmful to humans, they say.

Deng Yidan, an activist with Animals Asia, said the public backlash hurts the image of Yulin and China.

“Negative coverage is growing — dog theft, criminal activities, food hygiene issues, and rabies fears — not to mention the division in society between those for and against the festival — together these have brought significantly more negative publicity to Yulin than economic benefits,” Deng said in a statement.

The Yulin government has sought to distance itself from the feasting, saying it is not officially endorsed. State media reports say the government told restaurants to remove references to dog meat from their menus and signboards — though it did not bar the sale and consumption of the meat, which is not illegal in China.

The government has denied the formal existence of such a festival, saying it is a culinary habit practiced only by some businesses and people.

Public pressure stopped another dog meat festival, in eastern Zhejiang province, which was cancelled in 2011 despite dating back hundreds of years.

 

 

 

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China’s Holding Back of Terrorism Evidence Seen as Baffling

Radio Free Asia

By Parameswaran Ponnudurai
2014-06-12

China Holding Back EvidenceChina says it is reeling from a serious terrorism threat following recent deadly attacks but has refused to provide evidence to back its claims, raising questions over the basis of its charges and making it difficult for foreign governments and experts to deduce the magnitude of the problem.

Some experts wonder whether the Chinese authorities have little reliable evidence to share with the international community following the four high- profile attacks since October last year that have killed nearly 80 people and wounded scores of others.

Beijing has accused overseas Islamic terror groups of being behind the ethnic minority Muslim Uyghur “extremists” and “separatists” in China’s troubled Xinjiang region who have been blamed for the attacks.

But it has not provided detailed evidence of terrorist involvement in the bloody violence.

It has also prevented journalists and international observers from independently verifying official Chinese media accounts which have been the sole source of information of the attacks.

“It seems China’s reluctance stems from the absence of solid evidence of external links to home-grown extremist organizations,” Mohan Malik, a China expert at the Hawaii-based Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, told RFA.

“Primitive methods” used in the recent raids—a pipe bomb-style device manufactured with low-explosive filler was cited in one case—point to a lack of coordination and external support by small groups, he said.

The Chinese state media has blamed particularly the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a banned militant organization advocating independence for Xinjiang that has run sanctuaries and training facilities in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region since the mid-1990s.

Claims debunked

But experts have shrugged off the claims, saying ETIM is obscure or largely defunct, though it was once tied to the dreaded Al-Qaeda terror network.

“There is little evidence so far that links these attacks to external sources—beyond a small number of Uyghur Islamists in Pakistan,” Michael Clarke, a senior research fellow at Australia’s Griffith University, told RFA.

Clarke, who has authored several books on Xinjiang and Central Asia, said China may want to depict the rising violence in Xinjiang as terrorist acts in a bid to cover up any harsh measures it takes to stem the attacks.

“In terms of international ‘feedback,’ Beijing is primarily concerned to portray its Uyghur problem as terrorism for the simple fact if successful— which to date it has been—it makes it very difficult for other actors to critique China’s heavy-handed response in Xinjiang,” he said.

Clarke said Beijing may have been withholding information on the attacks so as to not complicate ongoing investigations into the violence or in order to manage any potential for details of certain attacks to inflame interethnic tensions between the Uyghurs and majority Han Chinese in Xinjiang.

The theory that Beijing has little reliable evidence on the attacks “is perhaps unkind but has some basis in past episodes in Xinjiang where the authorities constructed a narrative of ‘terrorism’ around Uyghur opposition to justify a hard-line approach,” he said.

Implicating Pakistan
Clarke also wondered whether China is concerned that any evidence cited of terrorist attacks may implicate its ally Pakistan.

“Regional authorities in Xinjiang had in 2011 for example explicitly blamed Pakistan for permitting Uyghur Islamists to use the tribal areas as bases for attacks in Xinjiang,” he said. “Publicizing of Pakistan’s possible links to the latest series of attacks would be very damaging to the so-called ‘all weather’ Sino-Pakistan alliance.”

This year easily has been the most violent in Xinjiang since deadly riots between Uyghurs and Han Chinese rocked Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, in July 2009 and left almost 200 people dead.

Uyghur exile groups charge that Bejing’s repressive policies in Xinjiang, as in Tibet, have fueled the unrest, a claim Beijing strongly denies.

The latest attack in Xijiiang—on an open market in Urumqi on May 22—was the bloodiest single act of violence in the region in recent history, killing 43 people, including the four assailants.

Explosives
Three earlier high-profile attacks in China also were blamed on Uyghur extremists, who had used rudimentary explosives, vehicles, or knives.

Chinese authorities said that a suicide bombing at an Urumqi train station in April killed two suspected insurgents and one bystander, and that a stabbing spree at a train station in the southwestern city of Kunming a month earlier left 33 people dead, including the four perpetrators.

Last October, the authorities said three assailants drove an SUV through crowds in front of Beijing’s iconic Tiananmen Gate, setting their vehicle alight and killing the three attackers and two tourists.

Concerned over the reports of rising violence in Xinjiang, the United States has tried to prod the Chinese authorities into providing evidence of terrorism but to no avail.

“[I]t would be helpful to us if the Chinese would allow greater access to information on some of these attacks so that we could make a more informed estimate of what the circumstances were surrounding them,” lamented Tina Kaidanow, the U.S. Coordinator for Counterterrorism in the State Department.

“And we’ve made that clear to the Chinese Government,” she said in reply to a question at a recent briefing on the latest annual global terrorism report by her agency.

China frequently refers to Uyghur activists abroad—including those in the United States—as complicit in supporting “terrorist” activity, but it has not provided credible evidence to support those claims, the report said.

U.S. report slammed
The Chinese state news media and some commentators slammed the report, criticizing Washington and the Western news media for being too hesitant to label the deadly attacks in China as terrorism.

In a rare move, both the White House and State Department described the May 22 attack on the Urumqi market as terrorism, using carefully crafted language.

“Based on the information reported by the Chinese media, the May 22 incident appears to have been an act of terrorism targeting random members of the public,” the State Department said.

“We do not have further information about the attack,” a State Department official told RFA when asked to elaborate. “We encourage China to allow foreign journalists and other outside observers to independently assess PRC [People's Republic of China] accounts of violent incidents,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The United States had branded ETIM a terrorist organization in September 2002, a year after Al-Qaeda militants hijacked planes and slammed them into the World Trade Center’s twin towers, the Pentagon, and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing nearly 3,000 people.

When asked to comment on experts’ suggestions that ETIM is unlikely to have the capability to carry out the attacks that recently occurred in Xinjiang, the State Department official said he had no basis for making any judgment.
“We do not have sufficient information to comment on ETIM’s ability to carry out terrorist attacks in China.”

Global scrutiny
Ahmed Salah Hashim, a terrorism expert at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, said China’s reluctance to be open about terrorism attacks is aimed at preventing the issue from coming under global scrutiny.

“They do not want this problem to become center stage in the world, particularly the Muslim world with which [China] has good relations and seeks resources from,” he told RFA. “Tight control of information is thus important,” he said.

“Terrorism or separatist movements thrive on access to media and world knowledge. The PRC doesn’t want Xinjiang to become a cause célèbre in the international arena,” he said.

While wary of working with the United States on counterterrorism efforts, China is seeking cooperation with Pakistan and the Central Asian states that may have information on the activities of Uyghur migrants or militants in their territories, Ahmed said.

Beijing is adopting a cautious approach in divulging too much information on terrorism because it may invite “undue interest and or support” from Al-Qaeda-linked organizations, according to Malik.

‘Many unanswered questions’
What is unfortunate is that there may have to be more violent attacks in China to decipher Beijing’s “war on terror” narrative, some experts say.

“There are many unanswered questions regarding this subject, and it will be difficult to forecast the trajectory of Uyghur militancy in China until some of them are answered,” said Scott Stewart, vice-president of tactical analysis at U.S. geopolitical intelligence firm Stratfor.

“Given the limits placed on media reporting from China, especially from Xinjiang, combined with the Chinese government’s efforts to obfuscate this issue and label all Uyghur separatists as terrorists, the picture will remain murky,” he said in a recent bulletin to clients.

“Unfortunately, this means that we will likely have to wait until there are additional attacks to begin to look for clues that will help us answer some of these questions and help our readers and clients in China better understand what the implications of Uyghur militancy are for them.”

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Chinese Netizens, Commentators Slam “Massacre” Article

Radio Free Asia -

2014-06-16

 

Nanjing MasscreAn editorial in the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper taking aim at Japan amid an ongoing row over the 1937 Nanjing massacre has drawn fire from netizens and political commentators, who have linked its hard-hitting headline to the 1989 military crackdown on student-led pro-democracy protests.

The signed People’s Daily commentary titled “Japan’s gangster logic: We can massacre a city, but you can’t speak out,” had been intended as a well-aimed blow at Tokyo, which last week urged Beijing to call off its bid to have papers linked to the “Rape of Nanjing” listed as world heritage documents by the United Nations.

Instead, the headline drew scores of satirical comments and verbal abuse from China’s netizens on popular social media sites on Monday.

“So is this the case with Tiananmen Square in Beijing?” Sina Weibo user @ELLA_yan commented on a tweet that highlighted the article.

“The Japs were evil because their gangster logic targeted another country; and that other country is evil because its gangster logic targets its own people,” wrote user @jiazhouzaixian.

And user @freeleewei added: “If you didn’t know, you might think we were talking about 1989, not 1937.”

Other users complained about the often violent treatment meted out by local governments by those during forced evictions, while some described both governments as “fascist” and “as bad as each other.”

Political blunder
Others were quick to poke fun at what they perceived to be a political blunder on the part of the People’s Daily.

“Has the People’s Daily shot itself in the foot?” quipped user @liuxu2009, while @Adachushengzaimeiguo wrote: “The stupid c***s have shot themselves in the foot again!”

Meanwhile user @gedeengecaixiang “chuckled,” adding: “They made a mistake with the headline, which should have read ‘You can massacre a city, but I’m not allowed to speak out?'”

Earlier this month, Beijing extended a massive censorship operation to target popular social media sites, banning keyword searches linked to the 1989 Tiananmen Square military crackdown 25 years ago and a mass vigil in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park.

The party’s powerful but secretive central propaganda ministry also issued censorship instructions to the country’s tightly controlled media, ordering editors to avoid any reference to June 4 or 1989.

On the popular Twitter-like service Sina Weibo and similar social media sites, censors quickly located and deleted posts containing the banned terms, while large numbers of accounts and chat groups were shut down, users said.

Keywords like “June 4, 1989″ and “6.4” are often blocked to China’s 620 million Internet users, who find ever more ingenious ways to elude censorship.

Netizens have used terms such as “Something Something Square” and “May 35th” to get around the blocks and filters, although “May 35th” began to be blocked for the first time last month.

‘Universal truth’
Former top Communist Party aide Bao Tong, who has been under house arrest at his Beijing home since serving a seven-year jail term in the wake of the 1989 crackdown, said the paper had touched on a “universal truth.”

“There shouldn’t be a double standard [in such matters],” Bao said in an interview on Sunday after returning from forced “vacation” outside Beijing under police escort during the 25th anniversary of the June 4,1989 bloodshed.

“Neither the Japanese nor the Chinese should get away with massacres,” Bao said. “The commentator was right; it is gangster logic, regardless of who is being massacred.”

“This article should get some kind of prize,” he said.

China says 300,000 people died as advancing Japanese troops rampaged through the city, while an international military tribunal in 1948 estimated that more than 200,000 Chinese were killed.

Beijing recently applied to have its historical archives on the massacre and the widespread forcing of “comfort women” into prostitution admitted to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.

Contemporary reports said at least 20,000 women and girls were raped, amid reports of other widespread atrocities including torture.

Numbers still unclear
Japan has acknowledged that the massacre took place, though its historians say Beijing has inflated the figures.

However, the number of people killed when People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops moved their tanks into Beijing, opening fire on civilians and putting a bloody end to weeks of peaceful, student-led protest on Tiananmen Square, remains a mystery.

Beijing authorities once put the death toll at “nearly 300,” but has never issued an official toll or list of names, and has always maintained that the violence was necessary to end the unrest.

The leadership has also ignored growing calls for a public reappraisal of the 1989 student protests, which the party styled a “counterrevolutionary rebellion.”

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA’s Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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UNESCO Lists Nanjing Massacre and “Comfort Women”, China Says

By Zoe Li, CNN

June 13, 2014 — Updated 0907 GMT (1707 HKT)

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Japan tried to register kamikaze pilots’ wills with UNESCO in February
  • Now China says they have registered records of ‘comfort women’ recruitment
  • UNESCO’s Memory of the World program protects important historical documents
  • Japan, China relations strained over ownership of East China Sea islets, Japanese wartime aggression

 

UNESCO ListingHong Kong (CNN) — China has revealed UNESCO has accepted its application to include documentation of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre and the issue of so-called “comfort women” — sex slaves used by Japanese soldiers during World War II — into a program that preserves important historical material relating to world heritage.

The issue threatens to put further strain on Sino-Japanese relations, which have deteriorated in recent years over conflicting territorial claims in the region as well as Japan’s wartime past.

Earlier this year, Japan applied for a collection of diaries and wills of kamikaze pilots from World War II, to be registered with the same UNESCO body.

UNESCO’s Memory of the World program has been collecting important world documents since 1992, preserving precious and potentially threatened material. Its archives include the diary of Ann Frank and the 13th century Magna Carta — a document that challenged the English monarchy’s absolute rule, making it subject to the rule of law.

Chinese state media, Xinhua news agency, reported Thursday that the latest UNESCO-registered documents are primary sources that point to atrocities committed by Japanese troops occupying the Chinese city of Nanjing from December 13, 1937 to March 1, 1938.

This includes historical files recording the recruitment of “comfort women” related to the Japanese Kwantung Army, police stationed at the Shanghai International Settlement, the Japanese-supported puppet regime of Wang Jingwei, and the Central Bank of Manchou, as well as written confessions by Japanese troops, according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).

Sex slavery

Japan forced about 200,000 women into sex slavery, luring them to “comfort stations” set up throughout East Asia by the Japanese military from 1932 until the end of the war, according to nonprofit advocacy group Washington Coalition for Comfort Women Issues.

CNN has widely reported on the stories of the women. Many have said they were kidnapped. For resisting sex, some say, they were raped and beaten. China insists that Japan has not officially apologized for these wartime atrocities.

The Nanjing Massacre refers to the invasion of the city of Nanjing in China’s Jiangsu province in 1937, during which time Japanese troops killed an estimated 300,000 people in a rampage of rape, murder, and looting.

Japanese conservatives insist that the mass murders and rapes did not take place.

China submitted the wartime documents to the UNESCO program “to prevent the miserable and dark days from coming back again,” said MoFA spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

‘Political move’

Japan has condemned China’s decision to register the wartime documents, calling it a political move during a sensitive period in the two countries’ relations.

“It is extremely regrettable that China used UNESCO politically to unnecessarily play up the negative legacy on a certain period of the history of the both countries when we need effort for the improvement on the bilateral relationship,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Wednesday.

Suga added: “We cannot deny that there was murders and looting against non-combatants after the Japanese imperial army entered into Nanjing. However there are several estimates about the scale and it is difficult for the government to determine clearly.”