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Radio Free Asia – 13 November 2014
Authorities in a southern Chinese province are holding two people following clashes earlier this week with thousands of villagers who tried to prevent their farmland from being taken over for development, local residents said on Thursday.
Around 3,000 residents of three villages in Wushi township near the port city of Zhanjiang, Guangdong province took to the streets in anger on Wednesday after officials and construction teams moved in and cleared the land suddenly without any warning or compensation, a resident of Namao village surnamed Xu told RFA.
The authorities sent hundreds of armed police and local officials to the scene, but the situation escalated further after police detained two protesters.
“Suddenly, the authorities sent more than 400 riot police, armed police and regular police,” Xu said. “There were four ambulances … and more than a dozen police dogs.”
“Within two days they had razed the land to nothing,” he said. “They used mechanical diggers to scrape away all the agricultural work that had gone into the land.”
He said the government claimed that a total area of 500 mu (82 acres) had been requisitioned, but villagers estimated that the true figure was closer to 1,000 mu (165 acres).
Large numbers of villagers had initially turned out on Wednesday in a bid to speak with Zhanjiang municipal party secretary Liu Xiaohua, who was on his way to the area on a visit, Xu said.
“When the [local government] heard about this, they turned aside and took Liu Xiaohua via a very small dirt track, and they left.”
“Then the police … started detaining people. Two people [were detained].”
He said villagers had been incensed by the arrests.
“They surrounded the police and wouldn’t let them leave. There were several thousand people there after midnight,” Xu said.
“They agreed to let the police leave after the head of Wushi township promised that the two villagers would be released on Thursday.”
A second Namao resident who asked to remain anonymous said local people were also worried about reports that authorities are planning to build a coal-fired power station on the land.
“The main issue is the pollution, but the other problem is that the local government has given out very little in compensation,” he said.
He said the government’s offer of 30,000 yuan (U.S. $4,900) per mu (one-sixth of an acre) wasn’t enough for the loss of land that had supported many of the local families for generations.
“Villagers don’t have much other income, so they rely on this land to get by,” he added.
Calls to the Wushi township government offices rang unanswered during office hours on Thursday.
An official who answered the phone at nearby Leizhou city, which administers Wushi, declined to comment.
“I don’t know about this, because I just work in the office here,” the official said. “It’s not my job to respond to inquiries.”
Site to be razed
Xu said the government’s offer of compensation hadn’t been presented in official documents, and that none of the local farming families had yet received any money for the land.
“They won’t show the documents to anyone,” Xu said, adding that the land grab had been ordered by authorities in Zhanjiang.
“One of the township officials told me that the Zhanjiang party secretary had ordered that the entire site be razed within three days,” he said.
Villagers first heard of the plan following a local government meeting with their representatives on Nov. 21, which was held behind locked iron doors, Xu said.
“They held that meeting from 9:00 a.m. to 3:40 p.m., but still the villagers wouldn’t sign,” he said. “They threatened they wouldn’t be allowed to leave, then they offered them 1,000 yuan (U.S. $163) each to sign.”
He said the meeting had been called by a Leizhou deputy mayor and the township party secretary from Wushi.
Neither of the detained villagers had been released by Thursday evening local time, according to a post on the Twitter-like service, Sina Weibo.
The requisitioning of rural land for lucrative property deals by cash-hungry local governments triggers thousands of “mass incidents” across China every year, as do protests against pollution or feared pollution.
Many result in violent suppression, the detention of the main organizers, and intense pressure on the local population to comply with the government’s wishes.
Reported by Yang Fan for RFA’s Mandarin Service, and by Wen Yuqing for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.
By Anjali Tsui, Euan McKirdy, Esther Pang and Vivian Kam, CNN
September 28, 2014 — Updated 1205 GMT (2005 HKT)
- Student organizers call for the resignations of four politicians
- Tear gas, batons used by police against protesters
- HK chief executive: Government ‘is resolute in opposing the unlawful occupation”
- Demonstrators say China is imposing its political will on Hong Kong’s governance
Hong Kong (CNN) — Police are in a tense standoff in Hong Kong with tens of thousands of pro-democracy student demonstrators, recently joined by the like-minded Occupy Central movement, which has announced the formal start of a campaign of civil disobedience in the Chinese territory.
The weekend’s demonstrations follow a week of student-led boycotts and protests against what many see as the encroachment of China’s political will on Hong Kong’s governance, in the face of China’s decision to only allow Beijing-vetted candidates to stand in the city’s elections for chief executive, Hong Kong’s top civil position.
Thousands remain at the protest site at government buildings in Hong Kong’s business district. Police have indicated that the site will be cleared shortly.
While the protests — which have swelled following two consecutive nights of “occupation” of government property — have been largely peaceful, police say they have made dozens of arrests. Those taken into custody range in age from 16 to 58.
Pepper spray has been used, along with tear gas being deployed against more than one group of protesters around the Central Government Offices. Riot police have also wielded batons against protesters. CNN teams witnessed police donning riot gear and gas masks.
Emergency personnel have been deployed to the front line of the clashes.
The city’s chief administrator, Chief Executive C.Y. Leung, said at a news conference Sunday afternoon that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government is “resolute in opposing the unlawful occupation” of the government buildings.
“The police are determined to handle the situation appropriately in accordance with the law,” he said.
Protest organizers announced early Sunday evening that demonstrators have occupied the upscale Pacific Place shopping mall, located near the main protest site. They said that numbers of protesters continue to grow.
Leung, who was addressing the protesters for the first time, urged Hong Kong’s residents to express their dissatisfaction with the political process in a safe and lawful manner.
He said that a round of consultations on electoral reform will take place “shortly” but went on to appeal to pro-democracy activists to engage in rational discussions through lawful means “so as to allow the more than 5 million eligible voters in Hong Kong to elect the chief executive in 2017 for the first time in Hong Kong’s history by one person, one vote.” He reaffirmed that the government in Hong Kong will uphold Beijing’s decision.
The Chinese central government said that it is “confident” that the Hong Kong government can handle the movement lawfully,according to a report in Chinese state media. The Chinese government opposes all illegal activities that “could undermine rule of law and jeopardize ‘social tranquility,'” the report says.
Yvonne Leung, the spokeswoman for the Hong Kong Federation of Students, which organized the protest, told CNN that the demonstrators plan to continue to occupy the area outside Hong Kong government headquarters in an act of civil disobedience.
In a statement Sunday evening, she said the protesters called for the chief executive and three other politicians working on political reform to resign. If the demand, and three others, go unmet, the students vowed to step up their protests and will boycott school.
Yvonne Leung said the group has not received any news concerning the whereabouts of Hong Kong protest leaders Alex Chow and Lester Shum, who were arrested on Saturday. High school student protest leader Joshua Wong is still under detention.
The previous week had seen days of action, as university and high school students came out in droves to rally against what they believe is the Chinese central government’s reneging on key promises for Hong Kong’s political future.
Student protesters joined
Since then, the movement has developed into a much larger, more inclusive display of defiance as the Occupy Central movement joined the students’ rally.
The pro-democracy advocacy group — it is unaffiliated with the broader anti-capitalist Occupy movement — has been vowing to lead a campaign of civil disobedience in the face of China’s decision to control what candidates can run for Hong Kong’s top office.
“Occupy Central has formally begun,” said a statement by the group, released in the early hours of Sunday morning.
“The two nights of occupation of Civic Square in Admiralty have completely embodied the awakening of Hong Kong people’s desire to decide their own lives,” the statement said.
“The courage of the students and members of the public in their spontaneous decision to stay has touched many Hong Kong people. Yet, the government has remained unmoved. As the wheel of time has reached this point, we have decided to arise and act.”
The movement will continue the current protest, the statement said, using the student-led occupation of the Central Government Office as a starting point.
Occupy Central leader Benny Tai and pro-democracy legislators Lee Cheuk-yan and Leung Kwok-hung were spotted at the protest site Sunday.
Government: Fears are ‘unfounded’
Leung, the city’s chief executive, told CNN that fears that the nominating process for the 2017 election were too restrictive were “unfounded.”
“We have not even started to discuss the detailed but crucial aspects of the nominating process for potential chief executive candidates,”he wrote in an exclusive commentary.
“This will be the subject of a public consultation to be launched soon and which will eventually lead to the enabling legislation on changes to the electoral method for the 2017 election.”
Organizers said some 60,000 protesters turned out for a Saturday night rally and police tried to block them from joining the protesters who are part of a sit-in outside the government complex.
Sunday saw an increased police presence at the protest site. At the entrance of the protest area, around 30 officers formed a cordon between the main group of protesters, fenced inside the complex’s Civic Square area inside the premises, and several smaller gatherings.
Those on the outside of the fences, wearing goggles or masks and raincoats, and holding umbrellas to protect against the possible use of pepper spray, chanted: “Let us through.”
As the day wore on, the protest remained calm, with marshals telling the crowd not to provoke police, while also urging the authorities not to use excess force.
Core group of protesters isolated
The three entrances to Civic Square, which houses a core group of protesters, were blocked off by steel fences and guarded by around 100 police officers.
A protest leader, over a public address system, told the crowd that since the police claim the gathering is an unlawful assembly, supplies including water and audio equipment won’t be allowed into the sealed-off protest area. Supplies, the voice on the microphone said, were also confiscated by the police.
Demonstrators claimed that undercover officers had joined the main protest group, and others said they had seen police preparing water cannon.
Many in the city, which under British rule enjoyed considerable political freedom, fear a rollback of the city’s political autonomy, agreed between Britain and China under the Basic Law. The Basic Law, which serves as a de facto constitution, was written in the lead-up to the 1997 handover of sovereignty.
Amnesty International issued a statement condemning the arrests and violence used against student protesters.
“The police response to events on Friday night is a disturbing sign that the Hong Kong authorities will take a tough stance against any peaceful protest blocking the financial district,” said Mabel Au, director of Amnesty International Hong Kong.
“The quick use of pepper spray, deployment of riot police in full gear and arrests at government headquarters does not bode well for the potentially massive protests expected this week. All those being held solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly must be immediately and unconditionally released.”
As their ranks swell and the students’ movement is assimilated into the wider pro-democracy movement, their political vision remains clear.
“The future of Hong Kong is ours,” said 16-year-old student Phoebe Leung. “I can’t change Hong Kong, but if all of us are here … we may change Hong Kong’s future.”
CNN’s Ivan Watson contributed to this report
CNN VIDEO: Pro Democracy Protest in Hong Kong
CNN VIDEO: Hong Kong Youth Demanding Democracy
By Tim Hume and Junko Ogura, CNN
September 25, 2014 — Updated 0051 GMT (0851 HKT)
- Four pods of Risso’s dolphins have been killed in annual hunt in Taiji, Japan
- The hunting season runs from September to March every year
- It draws international conservationist activists to the village to document the killing
- Locals complain of harassment from activists; activists say the hunt is barbaric
Tokyo (CNN) — The slaughter of dolphins has begun again in a small Japanese village, in a controversial annual hunt that pits Western environmentalist values against what locals say are traditional hunting practices.
Taiji, a coastal town of 3,500 people in the Japanese prefecture of Wakayama, has a dolphin hunting season from September to March every year.
Local fishermen are permitted by the Wakayama prefectural government to hunt an annual quota of nearly 2,000 dolphins and porpoises from seven different species, in accordance with what the government says is traditional practice.
Most of the dolphins are killed for their meat, but many are sold live to aquariums around the world.
‘Eerie’ killing cove
In recent years, the Taiji dolphin hunt has become a focal point for activists, particularly since the release of the Academy Award-winning 2009 film The Cove, which documented the hunt and raised awareness of Taiji’s dolphin hunting industry internationally.
Conservationist group Sea Shepherd has had a presence in Taiji during hunt season for the past five years, broadcasting from the village via a livefeed, and mobilizing a social media campaign against the hunt.
The campaign has drawn celebrity and other high-profile supporters, with comedian Ricky Gervais and U.S. ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy tweeting their support in recent years, and former Beverly Hills 90210 and Charmed actress Shannen Doherty visiting Taiji last week to witness the hunt.
“It’s eerie,” Doherty said in a statement. “You wonder how they (the hunters) are able to go to bed at night… I think being here rocks even the most hardened human being, because it is just atrocious.”
Melissa Sehgal, Sea Shepherd’s campaign coordinator for the Taiji project, which it calls “Operation Infinite Patience,” said that after 15 days without the capture or killing of dolphins, the fishermen had begun killing pods of Risso’s dolphins last week.
Four dolphin pods had been driven into the cove for killing so far this year, the group said.
“These dolphins are a gentle and docile species, but they continued to fight and struggle to stay alive,” Sehgal told CNN.
Locals defend practice
The Wakayama prefectural government declined CNN’s request for an interview, referring instead to a statement on its website outlining its position on the issue.
It said that residents viewed dolphins and whales as a legitimate marine resource, and that the hunt, a local tradition, was integral to the town’s economic survival.
“Located far away from the centers of economic activity, the town has a 400-year history as the cradle of whaling, and has flourished over the years thanks to whaling and the dolphin fishery,” the statement said.
“The dolphin fishery is still an indispensable industry for the local residents to make their living.”
Sea Shepherd is particularly opposed to the method used to herd and capture the dolphins, a technique known as “drive hunting” which Sehgal described as “barbaric.”
“Using metal banger poles to create a wall of sound to disorient and deafen the pod… forces them to swim away from the boats and into the shallows of the killing cove,” she said.
“Once netted into the cove, the dolphins are literally wrangled and tethered, often sustaining bloody wounds… The dolphin hunters use large metal rods to penetrate the spinal cord. This is hammered into the dolphins and small whales. The dolphins do not die immediately, but are left to either bleed out from internal injuries or drown in their own blood.”
The Taiji fishermen’s union has previously told CNN that the spine-severing technique had been introduced as a more humane method of killing the dolphins.
Sea Shepherd’s operations in Taiji involve live-streaming activity in the village, including following suspected fishermen they believe to be transporting dolphin meat. A recent live-stream showed men retreating into garages when the Sea Shepherd crew approached.
This activism from foreign conservationists is interpreted by some locals as harassment.
“The Taiji dolphin fishery has been a target of repeated psychological harassment and interference by aggressive foreign animal protection organizations,” reads the Wakayama government’s statement.
“Taiji dolphin fishermen are just conducting a legal fishing activity in their traditional way in full accordance with regulations and rules under the supervision of both the national and the prefectural governments. . . Such criticisms are an unfair threat to the fishermen’s rights to make a living and offend the history and pride of the town.”
The statement also likens the killing of the dolphins to the killing of cows and pigs for food, implying hypocrisy on the part of activists for their criticism of the dolphin hunt.
“Not only dolphins but also other animals including livestock such as cows and pigs display emotion and intelligence,” it read. “We, however, cannot help killing livestock to eat their meat. Do people criticize these activities as barbaric?”
But activists say any comparison between the killing of wild dolphins and domesticated livestock is spurious.
“They’re terrorized for hours on end,” says Ric O’Barry, a former dolphin trainer who trained the animals used in the popular U.S. show Flipper, before undergoing a sea-change in his views about holding dolphins in captivity.
He has campaigned against the live dolphin trade with his organization The Dolphin Project, and also featured in The Cove.
“They’re self-aware like humans and the great apes. They look in the mirror and they know what they’re looking at. They’re not domesticated animals,” he told CNN.
Besides, he said, while many of the dolphins were killed and sold for meat, the most attractive specimens were rounded up during the drive hunting were taken alive and sold to aquariums for sums in excess of $100,000 an animal. These captures were the real “economic underpinning” of the annual hunt, he said.
“You’d get $400-500 for a dead dolphin’s meat, but there’s a lot of money for a live one, and that’s what keeps this thing going,” he said.
Live dolphin trade
Sehgal said that local dolphin trainers who “claim to love dolphins” were often seen assisting hunters in wrangling the animals to shore.
“Only the young, beautiful and more suitable are selected. These dolphins are then forced to witness their families brutally slaughtered in front of them,” she said.
According to Sea Shepherd estimates, 850 dolphins were killed and 160 taken into captivity last season, 920 killed and 249 caught the previous season, and 820 killed and 54 caught the season before that.
Conservationists argue that it is this lucrative trade in captive dolphins that is the real motivation for the hunting season, a practice they say has only existed since the late 1960s.
“The argument that it is (an older) tradition is simply untrue,” said Lisa Agabian, Sea Shepherd’s director of media relations.
“Even if it were, I can say with absolute certainty that at no time would ancient fisherman have gone out with motorized fishing vessels and skiffs and modern technology to aid them in their capture of dolphins. The way they are hunting now, the dolphins don’t have a fighting chance. That is certainly not traditional culture at work.”
Said Sehgal: “This is blood money . . . (there’s) nothing cultural about kidnapping wild dolphins for profit.”
But Japanese defenders of the hunt maintain that the hunting of dolphins and whales has been a traditional industry and economic lifeline since the 17th century.
An official at the Taiji town office told CNN it was natural that hunting techniques had evolved with new technologies.
Staff at Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Institute of Cetacean Research said they were not available for comment.
CNN’s Yuki Arakawa contributed reporting from Tokyo.
CNN VIDEO: Japanese Dolphin Slaughter
By Katie Hunt, CNN
September 23, 2014 — Updated 0132 GMT (0932 HKT)
- Trade in torture devices by Chinese companies flourishing, says Amnesty International
- Exports of police equipment are fueling human rights abuses in Asia and Africa, it says.
- Much of the equipment is “inherently cruel” and should be banned.
- Some equipment has legitimate uses but can still be misused, it adds.
These are some of the torture devices being made and exported by Chinese companies, fueling human rights abuses in Asia and Africa, according to a new report from campaign group Amnesty International.
The report says that trade in what it calls tools of torture is flourishing, with 130 Chinese companies engaged in the production and trade of potentially dangerous law enforcement equipment, compared with 28 companies a decade ago.
Most of the companies highlighted in the report are state owned, the report said, and openly promote their products at international trade shows and online.
While some of the equipment such as tear gas, handcuffs and plastic bullets has legitimate policing uses, Amnesty says many of the devices marketed by these companies are intrinsically cruel and inhumane and should be banned immediately.
China’s Ministry of Commerce did not immediately respond to a call for comment.
“Chinese authorities have done nothing to stop companies supplying these sickening devices for export or to prevent policing equipment falling into the hands of known human rights abusers,” said Patrick Wilcken, security trade and human rights researcher at Amnesty International.
The report, co-authored with the Omega Research Foundation calls on China to immediately ban the production and trade of inherently cruel and abusive equipment.
It also urged Beijing to suspend or deny trade license for the supply of equipment when there is a substantial risk that the equipment will be used to commit or facilitate serious human rights abuses.
Amnesty said the global trade in law enforcement equipment is poorly controlled and China is not alone in its failure to regulate the supply of law enforcement equipment to countries where there is a clear risk that it will be misused. It added that all countries should heed the report’s recommendations.
As many as 29 Chinese companies make electric stun batons that allow security officials to apply painful multiple shocks to sensitive areas of the body such as the groin without leaving long-lasting physical traces. A greater number of companies make restraint devices such as weighted leg cuffs.
Spiked batons have been exported to security forces in Nepal and Thailand and have been reportedly used by police in Cambodia, while Chinese made electric shock batons are being carried by police in Ghana, Senegal, Egypt and Madagascar, the report said.
Another example highlighted shows how Chinese-made riot control equipment was used to suppress protests against the rising cost of living in Uganda, killing at least 33.
“China’s flawed export system has allowed the trade in torture and repression to prosper,” Wilcken said.
The report also documents how electric shock batons, mechanical restraints and other devices are widely used in detention centers throughout China.
One practitioner of banned Falun Gong spiritual movement told Amnesty how she was tortured with an electric baton on her face:
“It’s a kind of torture the police call ‘bengbao popcorn’ because your face splits open and looks like popped corn.”
September 22, 2014 — Updated 0204 GMT (1004 HKT)
- 17-year-old Joshua Wong aims to incite youth civil disobedience in Hong Kong
- His goal is to pressure China into giving Hong Kong full universal suffrage
- Hu Jia, a Chinese dissident, says Wong could be arrested or jailed
- “The Communist Party is very scared” of Hong Kong, says Hu
Meet 17-year-old Joshua Wong, a skinny, bespectacled teen whose meager physical frame belies the ferocity of his politics. Over the last two years, the student has built a pro-democracy youth movement in Hong Kong that one veteran Chinese dissident says is just as significant as the student protests at Tiananmen, 25 years ago.
Echoing the young campaigners who flooded Beijing’s central square in 1989, the teen activist wants to ignite a wave of civil disobedience among Hong Kong’s students. His goal? To pressure China into giving Hong Kong full universal suffrage.
Wong’s movement builds on years of pent-up frustration in Hong Kong.
When the former colony of the United Kingdom was returned to Chinese rule in 1997, the two countries struck an agreement promising Hong Kong a “high degree of autonomy,” including the democratic election of its own leader. But 17 years later, little resembling genuine democracy has materialized. China’s latest proposalsuggests Hong Kongers may vote for their next leader, but only if the candidates are approved by Beijing.
Wong is bent on fighting the proposal — and impatient to win.
“I don’t think our battle is going to be very long,” he tells CNN. “If you have the mentality that striving for democracy is a long, drawn-out war and you take it slowly, you will never achieve it.
Doubt him if you like, but the young activist already has a successful track record of opposition.
In 2011, Wong, then 15, became disgusted with a proposal to introduce patriotic, pro-Communist “National and Moral Education” into Hong Kong’s public schools.
With the help of a few friends, Wong started a student protest group called Scholarism. The movement swelled beyond his wildest dreams: In September 2012, Scholarism successfully rallied 120,000 protesters — including 13 young hunger strikers — to occupy the Hong Kong government headquarters, forcing the city’s beleaguered leaders to withdraw the proposed curriculum.
That was when Wong realized that Hong Kong’s youth held significant power.
“Five years ago, it was inconceivable that Hong Kong students would care about politics at all,” he says. “But there was an awakening when the national education issue happened. We all started to care about politics.”
Asked what he considers to be the biggest threats to the city, he rattles them off: From declining press freedom as news outlets change their reporting to reflect a pro-Beijing slant, to “nepotism” as Beijing-friendly politicians win top posts, the 17-year-old student says Hong Kong is quickly becoming “no different than any other Chinese city under central administration.”
That’s why Wong has set his eyes on achieving universal suffrage. His group, which now has around 300 student members, has become one of the city’s most vocal voices for democracy. And the kids are being taken seriously.
In June, Scholarism drafted a plan to reform Hong Kong’s election system, which won the support of nearly one-third of voters in anunofficial citywide referendum.
This week, the group is mobilizing students to walk out of classes — a significant move in a city that reveres education — to send a pro-democracy message to Beijing.
The student strike has received widespread support. College administrators and faculty have pledged leniency on students who skip classes, and Hong Kong’s largest teacher union has circulated a petition declaring “Don’t let striking students stand alone.”
China’s reaction has been the opposite: Scholarism has been named a group of “extremists” in the mainland’s state-run media. Wong also says he is mentioned by name in China’s Blue Paper on National Security, which identifies internal threats to the stability of Communist Party rule.
But the teenage activist won’t back down. “People should not be afraid of their government,” he says, quoting the movie “V for Vendetta,” “The government should be afraid of their people.”
Hong Kong a “seed of fire” for China
Chinese dissident Hu Jia has been under frequent house arrest for 11 years.
Compared to activists in Hong Kong, activists in mainland China face a situation far more grim.
Few understand this better than veteran human rights activist Hu Jia, 41. A teenage participant in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, he remembers witnessing the carnage in the aftermath of Chinese government’s crackdown.
“At the age of 15, it made me understand my responsibility and my mission in life,” he tells CNN in a phone call from Beijing. “The crackdown made a clear cut between myself and the system.”
Inspired to fight for change, in 2000 he worked to expose “AIDS villages” in central China, where unregulated blood trades were infecting entire rural towns with HIV. But he paid a price: authorities jailed him for three and a half years for “inciting subversion of state authority,” then placed him under frequent house arrest, where he remains today.
“Fear has been deeply rooted in our genes through the past 65 years,” he says. “The majority of China’s 1.3 billion people are not true citizens — most of the people are simply submissive.”
That’s why Hu thinks Hong Kong, with its relative freedom, is a perfect place for activists to spark a democracy movement that could sweep all of mainland China.
“You can form political parties in Hong Kong. You can publish books that are forbidden in mainland China. The media can criticize the central government and the chief executive of Hong Kong.
“Mainland China is a tinderbox that’s been physically suppressed by the authorities, and Hong Kong is a seed of fire.
“The Communist Party is very scared of this tiny bit of land, because if true universal suffrage can blossom in Hong Kong, it is very likely true universal suffrage will end up happening in the mainland.”
It’s a dream that Wong acknowledges. “I can’t say we students striving for democracy now will directly lead to universal suffrage in China,” he says. “But at least, universal suffrage in Hong Kong could be a pilot for the people in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, and even the whole of China — it would let them know that a Chinese society under the rule of a Communist Party can still have a fair system.”
Because of the high stakes involved with challenging China, Hu says Hong Kong’s activists should prepare for the worst.
“Maybe the Chinese government will one day send troops onto the streets, or even tanks,” Hu says, though adding the possibility of the military actually opening fire would be “very small.”
More likely, says the elder activist, the Party might go after individuals like Wong himself.
“Joshua Wong could be arrested, or jailed,” Hu tells CNN. “I hope he understands this will be a battle of resilience. It is not a fight, nor a skirmish, it is a true war, in terms of the length of time it involves, its complexity, and the potential sacrifice it might involve.”
Reuters – WASHINGTON, Sept 17 Wed Sep 17, 2014 12:13pm EDT
(Reuters) – Hackers associated with the Chinese government have repeatedly breached the computer systems of U.S. companies, including airlines and technology firms, that are involved in the movement of U.S. troops and military equipment, a U.S. Senate panel has found.
The Senate Armed Services Committee’s year-long probe, details of which were made public on Wednesday, found that U.S. Transportation Command, or Transcom, was only aware of two out of at least 20 such cyber intrusions within a single year.
The committee’s investigation also found gaps in reporting requirements and a lack of information sharing among government entities. That in turn left the U.S. military largely unaware of computer compromises of its contractors.
“These peacetime intrusions into the networks of key defense contractors are more evidence of China’s aggressive actions in cyberspace,” Senator Carl Levin, the committee’s chairman, said in releasing the report.
The committee found that in a 12-month period beginning June 1, 2012, there were about 50 intrusions or other cyber events into the computer networks of Transcom contractors.
At least 20 of those were successful intrusions attributed to an “advanced persistent threat,” a term used to designate sophisticated threats commonly associated with governments. All of those intrusions were attributed to China. (Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Susan Heavey)
By Flora Zhang, CNN
September 10, 2014 — Updated 2122 GMT (0522 HKT)
- Artist Prune Nourry’s show, “Terracotta Daughters,” opens in New York on Wednesday
- Creating female terra-cotta warriors is a way to address the issue of gender imbalance
- Due to cultural preference for boys, China will have a big surplus of men, which is a problem
- Nourry worked with local craftsmen in China to make each female terra-cotta statue unique
Editor’s note: Flora Zhang is a producer at CNN Digital. Follow her on Twitter: @flozha
(CNN) — When Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, anticipated his death more than 2,000 years ago, he wanted an army of warriors to guard his mausoleum forever and protect him in the afterlife.
So he ordered the creation of some 8,000 terra-cotta soldiers, along with hundreds of terra-cotta horses and chariots, to be buried with him in his tomb. Historians speculate the soldiers were modeled after eight individuals. When the statues were discovered by workers digging a well in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, in 1974, the world was stunned by the spectacular funerary art and the legacy of the powerful emperor. Since then, it’s become a major tourist attraction and a World Heritage site.
Now, these soldiers have a counterpart: female terra-cotta warriors.
Prune Nourry, a Paris-born artist based in New York City, has created a small army of them. In “Terracotta Daughters,” 116 are featured in an exhibition at the China Institute from September 10 through October 4. The show’s U.S. premiere is presented by theFrench Institute Alliance Francaise and China Institute as part of FIAF’s Crossing the Line festival.
The difference is these female terra-cotta warriors are not out to protect any emperor, but were created to bring attention to the plight of girls in China.
“Terracotta Daughters” at Magda Danysz Gallery, Shanghai, in 2013.
“In China, there is a huge imbalance between boys and girls. I wanted to highlight the issue of gender preference,” said Nourry. “I needed a strong cultural symbol to base this project on, and a universal one that would speak both to Chinese villagers in the countryside and to citizens abroad.”
And, in a striking parallel to the terra-cotta soldiers, the terra-cotta girls will also become an archaeological project. After the exhibition, they will be buried in China until 2030, the year that, according to Chinese sociologists, men will have the hardest time finding a wife because of the skewed gender ratio.
The imbalance of the sexes is a serious problem for the Chinese. A 2010 census indicates there are at least 34 million more men than women. Due to the one-child policy and traditional preference for boys, as well as sex-selective technologies, China will have a huge surplus of men, which presents daunting demographic challenges for the world’s most populous country.
Perhaps for those reasons, Nourry didn’t encounter difficulties with the Chinese government in pursuing this project in China. She started working on the terra-cotta statues two years ago after finishing an installation in India that also explored gender bias.
In deciding on the size of the female army, Nourry chose the number eight because of its auspiciousness in Chinese culture. She created the first eight statues modeled after eight girls whom she met through an orphan charity in China.
Then, working with local craftsmen in Xi’an, 108 permutations of statues were made based Nourry’s original eight statues by combining the different heads, torsos and legs. “For Xian Feng, the main craftsman I worked with in China, my project seemed at first impossible since women ‘can’t be soldiers.’ But after we began the project, he changed his view and even turned one of the 108 combinations into a portrait of his own daughter,” said Nourry.
The local craftsmen of Xi’an are used to making copies of the terra-cotta warriors which are sold primarily to tourists. When Nourry asked them to give their artistic interpretation in sculpting the female statues, they were initially tentative. Over time, they lost their hesitancy and gave each statue unique faces. No two statues have the same features.
Each terra-cotta warrior girl stands nearly 5 feet tall and weighs about 260 pounds. Their hairstyles are contemporary, as are their uniform, which is modeled after the orphan girls’ school attire. Unlike the male warriors, they look approachable, friendly and even charming.
“It was a very enriching collaboration, based on exchange and mutual respect,” said Nourry.
Her favorite moment was when the eight girls saw the terra-cotta statues of themselves and were delighted. Part of the proceeds from the sale of the eight original statues will pay for the cost of the eight girls’ education for three years.
“Terracotta Daughters” is impressive in its artistic craftsmanship and social statement. It’s a refreshing reinterpretation of one of China’s national symbols. With these modern female warriors, Prune raises the pressing issue of gender discrimination without pointing fingers at anyone or anything. One looks at these amazing terra-cotta statues and feel compelled to ask — why aren’t there more of them? And why aren’t there more girls in China?
CNN VIDEO: TERRA-COTTA WARRIORS GET “SEX CHANGE”
From Andrew Stevens, CNN
September 1, 2014 — Updated 0324 GMT (1124 HKT)
- Beijing says only candidates approved by a nominating panel can run to lead Hong Kong
- The city’s current leader insists it’s a step in the right direction
- Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Occupy Central movement says it’s a move that stifles democracy
- Protesters take to the streets in Hong Kong and vow more civil disobedience
China’s powerful National People’s Congress Standing Committee voted Sunday to change the way Hong Kong picks its chief executive, ruling that only candidates approved by a nominating committee will be allowed to run.
A top Chinese official made clear the candidates all must “love the country and love Hong Kong.”
The city’s current leader insists it’s a step in the right direction.
“The majority of Hong Kong citizens, namely, the 5 million qualified voters of the selection of chief executive in 2017, will be able to cast their votes to select the chief executive,” said Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
But that’s not how Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Occupy Central movement sees it. The group has vocally pushed for elections in which any candidate can run for chief executive. For weeks, protesters have taken to the streets.
n a statement on its website, the group slammed Beijing’s decision as a move that stifles democracy and blocks people with different political views from running for office.
“Genuine universal suffrage includes both the rights to elect and to be elected,” the statement said. “The decision of the NPC Standing Committee has deprived people with different political views of the right to run for election and be elected by imposing unreasonable restrictions, thereby perpetuating ‘handpicked politics.’ “
Under the “one country, two systems” policy, the 7 million residents of Hong Kong — defined as a “Special Administrative Region” of China — are afforded greater civil liberties than those in the mainland.
This reflects an agreement reached between China and the United Kingdom before the handover, which promised Hong Kong a “high degree of autonomy” for 50 years after its return.
But the decision to change the way Hong Kong picks its leader comes amid increasing fears that those freedoms are being eroded.
Currently, Hong Kong’s leader is chosen by an election committee selected mostly by Beijing loyalists.
Beijing brushed aside demonstrators’ demands for a fully open election in 2017, saying the decision to change the system is in line with Hong Kong’s basic law. Protesters demands are self-serving, one top official said.
“Those people’s so-called international standards are tailored for themselves,” said Li Fei, deputy secretary general of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee. “They are not the international standards, but their personal standards.”
Throngs of pro-democracy protesters rallied in central Hong Kong on Sunday to condemn Beijing’s decision and promised there would be more protests.
The threat of civil disobedience “is our bargaining power,” Benny Tai, the organizer of Occupy Central, told CNN earlier this month. “They take us seriously, though they will never admit that.”
After a massive rally calling for democracy in the Chinese territory in July, hundreds of demonstrators — including prominent lawmakers — were arrested.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators protesting Occupy Central marched in Hong Kong earlier this month. Local media swirled with reports of marchers getting paid or bused in to attend the pro-government march.
The march’s organizer said he took the accusations seriously and would investigate but maintained that no laws were broken.
Meanwhile, Fernando Chui Sai-on has been re-elected uncontested as Macau’s chief executive. Like nearby Hong Kong, Macau is a “Special Administrative Region” of China, following its transition from Portuguese control in 1999.
The territory has itself faced calls for greater democracy, though its constitution makes no mention of universal suffrage. A recent unofficial poll on this question was shut down by police and several pro-democracy organizers were arrested for allegedly breaching privacy laws.
CNN’s Catherine E. Shoichet, Tim Hume, Zoe Li, Radina Gigova and Wilfred Chan contributed to this report.
CNN VIDEO: Beijing Says NO
By Wilfred Chan, CNN
August 26, 2014 — Updated 0436 GMT (1236 HKT)
- Authorities have seized over 30,000 tons of contaminated chicken feet
- Chicken feet are a popular snack in China
- Hydrogen peroxide is used as a disinfectant and bleach, but is harmful to eat
Hong Kong (CNN) — In the latest stomach-churning food scandal to hit China, authorities have seized over 30,000 tons of chicken feet contaminated with hydrogen peroxide, according to state media.
Thirty eight people have been arrested on charges of producing the tainted items, while 11 suspects remain at large.
Images on Chinese news websites show large troughs filled with chicken feet soaking in what authorities say is hydrogen peroxide, a colorless chemical compound used for sterilization and bleaching.
The chemical, which causes vomiting and other stomach problems if consumed, may have been used to give the chicken feet a whiter, cleaner appearance.
A report by official news agency Xinhua said the tainted items were first discovered in Yongjia County in Zhejiang, eastern China. A subsequent investigation revealed hydrogen peroxide was being used in nine factories in Jiangsu, Anhui, Henan, and Guangdong, affecting several well-known brands of chicken feet sold in stores.
‘I want to throw up’
Chinese internet users are reacting with disdain and frustration.
A top-rated comment on a microblog run by state television CCTV asks: “Are there any Chinese foods left that are safe?”
Another fumes: “From now on, don’t tell us what we can’t eat — please tell us what we can eat!”
One commenter says: “Yesterday I ate a lot of these, now I want to throw up.”
Chicken feet are popular in China, where they are often available as a packaged snack. However, this is not the first time the item has found itself at the center of a safety scare.
In July 2013, police confiscated 20 tons of badly expired chicken feet from a frozen meat warehouse — some of the feet were reportedly 46 years old.
By Dayu Zhang and Zoe Li, CNN
August 22, 2014 — Updated 0554 GMT (1354 HKT)
- Residents in Beijing sick of water shortages, start digging wells
- Water authorities: Fixing the shortages is complicated
- Freshwater supply increasingly a problem in China
But a closer look reveals out-of-place pipes, mysterious pools of water and long hoses that run along the walls of nearby homes.
The “construction workers” aren’t paid laborers either — they’re local residents who have simply walked out of their homes and started hacking into the road.
For water. They lift tiles off the pavements and dig until they hit ground water.
“Who would dig up wells if there’s enough water? There’s just no water,” said one resident who would only give his surname, Yin. His family had been suffering from water shortages on and off for months until they decided to take matters into their own hands.
The Shuimo Community in Haidian district has grown rapidly and authorities have been unable to cope with the growing demand for water.
“We started receiving complaints from residents about water shortages since the end of July,” said Liu Zhongmin, head of the Water Resources Office in the Department of Water Affairs of Haidian District. “We’re aware of local residents digging wells to get water. These are illegal constructions and should be demolished.”
But any plans to fix the water supply problem have been delayed. “We don’t plan to do anything at this point as it’ll spark tensions between us and residents,” said Liu.
He explained that any work on the pipelines in the neighborhood would not be straightforward.
The community has grown from 1,000 residents to more than 8,000 in recent years, and new residents have occupied roads where pipelines are buried under their houses, according to Liu.
For the near future, residents see only one way out of the situation.
“Everybody knows we’re not allowed to dig wells here but what else can we do? Who can solve the problem?” asks Yin. He adds that a well costs as much as RMB 40,000 (about $6,500) to complete.
Freshwater supplies in China have been increasingly strained in recent years. A growing population, industrial development and widespread pollution pushes the lack of freshwater to crisis levels, according to China Water Risk.
CNN VIDEO: Pollution an economic concern in China
16 August 2014 Last updated at 15:41
According to police, at least eight children aged between 10 and 16 were made to donate blood to a company in Gansu province in north-west China.
Reports said the children had been beaten by the gang to make them comply.
Among those arrested was a blood centre official, who told police he had been under pressure to find more donors.
The schoolchildren were reportedly forced to donate once a month for seven months and the amount taken was three times the average amount for voluntary donors.
The gang, who netted 6,250 yuan ($1,000; £600) in the process, presented false identity cards at the blood centre to pretend the children were adults. Under Chinese law, blood donors must be over 18.
The scheme came to light when one of the youngsters sought help from his parents.
The deputy chief of the blood centre and six other men were arrested, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
The company, Lanzhou Institute of Biological Products in the city of Wuwei, is one of the country’s biggest producers of blood products, Xinhua said.