Tags: Body & Mind, CCP, China, Culture, documentary, environmental issues, film, human rights, IT and Media, labor camps, Nature, organ harvesting, persecution of dissidents, Science, Society, sustainable development, technology
Since I have not posted any articles in a long time I will post some of those who have been published so you can select those that are of interest to you.
By Sarah Laskow
We have seen a lot of solar chargers in our day. And among all of them, this is the first one we’ve seen that we will definitely run out and buy as soon as it’s made available in the U.S. It’s a portable socket that gets its power from the sun rather than the grid. You plug into a window instead of into the wall. It’s easy.
By Joshua Philipp
Epoch Times Staff
Watching the soft glow of fireflies could become a more common activity if researchers at Syracuse University have anything to do with it. They’re developing a method to artificially create luciferase, the chemical behind the soft glow of fireflies, and are working to create commercial lights that mimic the insects’ bioluminescence.
These migrants know why they keep moving
By Francisco Gavilán
When I was going to travel through Central Asia for the umpteenth time, I was looking for new and enriching experiences, including living for a while with the nomads of Song Kul, in Kyrgyzstan.
By Tara MacIsaac
Earth permanently deformed: Geologists have discovered that the Earth’s crust may not be as elastic as previously thought. Quakes in Northern Chile have permanently deformed the Earth.
Celebrating compassion and higher living across the globe
By Arshdeep Sarao
In India the full moon day of May 25, 2013, is being celebrated as Buddha Purnima or the birth anniversary of Buddha Shakyamuni. This year the Buddha becomes 2,556 years old.
‘I didn’t take blood money from a government that is murdering its people,’ says Jeffrey Van Middlebrook, Silicon Valley inventorBy Matthew Robertson, Epoch Times
By Leonardo Vintini
Everybody longs for happiness, but it seems like a hidden treasure. One way or another—consciously or unconsciously, directly or indirectly—everything we do, our every hope, is related to a deep desire for happiness.
Tags: Body & Mind, CCP, China, health, Science, Society
Single gene swap enables avian virus to change hosts
Chinese researchers have created a virus that can infect mammals via coughing and sneezing by hybridizing the H5N1 bird flu virus with the H1N1 swine flu strain that caused the 2009 pandemic.
Their paper was published in the journal Science on May 2, the same day a man from Henan Province died from the H7N9 bird flu virus–reportedly the first death outside of eastern China and the 27th death among over 120 cases to date.
The H7N9 virus is believed to be a reassortment of several avian flu viruses, but is relatively benign in birds, according to recent research by another Chinese team published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
H5N1 bird flu is highly pathenogenic, but does not easily infect people, whereas H1N1 swine flu infected many millions in 2009. As yet, there is no evidence that the two viruses have mixed in nature, but they do overlap geographically and share some host species.
In the controversial new research the Chinese scientists deliberately manipulated the two viruses to make them more dangerous, for what they said was for the purpose of improving their understanding of pandemic risks. Some of the resultant mutants easily spread through the air between guinea pigs in the lab.
“If these mammalian-transmissible H5N1 viruses are generated in nature, a pandemic will be highly likely,” said research leader Hualan Chen at the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
“High attention should be paid during routine influenza surveillance to monitor such high-risk H5N1 hybrid viruses in nature.”
While Chen believes her work could benefit disease control and prevention, other scientists are critical of these so-called gain-of-function mutation studies, as manipulating viruses requires excellent lab security standards to prevent the viruses spreading or being accessed by terrorists.
Microbiologist Richard Ebright at Rutgers University, New Jersey, said two other studies had already looked at how H5N1 mutations spread through the air between mammalian hosts–in that case ferrets. That flu research triggered a debate about biosecurity, and led to a one-year moratorium on any similar projects.
“This argument—even if one accepts it, which I do not—does not provide a rationale for the third, fourth, fifth, and nth research projects confirming the same point,” Ebright told Science Magazine via email.
Baron May of Oxford, a former U.K. government chief scientist, told The Independent that the work by Chen’s team is “appallingly irresponsible.”
“They claim they are doing this to help develop vaccines and such like. In fact the real reason is that they are driven by blind ambition with no common sense whatsoever,” he added.
Further research by Chen and colleagues has apparently been delayed by investigations into the new H7N9 virus.
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Tags: Body & Mind, China, funny things, Nature, Science
By Li Wenhui
Ms. Xiao Hongyun, a teacher at Changde Normal School in Hunan Province, usually suffers dizziness, tinnitus, and palpitations the day before an earthquake occurs. She has suffered these symptoms in conjunction with earthquakes in China as well as in Taiwan and Chile.
She recently experienced dizziness and insomnia a few days before the 7-magnitude earthquake in Ya’an in Sichuan Province, China on April 20.
Voice of China interviewed Ms. Xiao about her physical prediction of the Ya’an earthquake.
According to Ms. Xiao, she suddenly fainted while giving a lesson. She was sent to the hospital and examined, but no abnormalities were found.
Xiao said, “I began to feel dizzy on the 18th and I could not fall asleep during the night, especially on the 20th, I was still awake at 4 a.m., feeling very tired as if I were in a boat swaying on the water.”
She said to her husband, “I’m afraid a quake is about to happen somewhere.” The Ya’an earthquake did then happen on the morning of April 20th. “I was sitting on the sofa and my legs could not stop shivering when the quake took place,” said Xiao.
Ms. Xiao, age 53, says her physical episodes date from an electric shock she suffered at the age of 13. “At that moment, my whole body went numb and I collapsed on the ground. Luckily I was not hurt badly,” she said. Since then, she has experienced the dizziness and other symptoms from time to time, yet medical examinations have always been normal.
Ms. Xiao recalls that when she was 16 years old, one day she heard a roar in the field while harvesting rice crops, but people next to her didn’t hear anything. Many days later, she learned that the Tangshan earthquake had happened on that same day. (On July 26, 1976 the Tangshan earthquake struck in northeast China, killing hundreds of thousands of people.)
However, Ms. Xiao did not associate her abnormal physical symptoms with earthquakes until September 1999. “When I saw on TV the strong quake in Taiwan on September 21, 1999, I began to think, maybe my strange illness is related to earthquakes.” Xiao said, because she had suffered strong physical reactions the day before.
Since then, Ms. Xiao watches the news every time she feels unusual. “After my physical reaction, most likely there will be an earthquake. Based on the degree of the ringing in my ears, I can judge how far, how strong, and in what direction approximately a quake will be,” she said
Because nobody believed her and thought something was wrong with her, Xiao started recording every premonition that had been verified by an earthquake. She asked her family and colleagues to sign the pages as confirmation. According to her diary, the closest earthquake occurred in Linli County of Chengdu and the farthest occurred in Chile.
Ms. Xiao contacted Sun Shihong, a retired professor of the Chinese Seismograph Station, the day before the Yushu earthquake of April 14, 2010. She told him she had a strong physical reaction and that this usually happened the day before an earthquake.
Sun Shihong believed Ms. Xiao’s condition really is linked to earthquakes.
Subsequently, experts from various seismic stations throughout Hunan Province made a special trip to Ms. Xiao’s home to conduct an investigation and analysis.
The experts concluded that Xiao’s reactions were indeed linked to the earthquakes because her body could sense the infrasonic sound of the earthquake in advance. The higher the magnitude is, the stronger the sensation is.
Translation by Alex Wu. Written in English by Arleen Richards.
Tags: CCP, China, human rights, Kilgour and Matas, labor camps, organ harvesting, persecution of dissidents, Society
A prestigious Australian university has come under scrutiny recently for giving an honorary professorship to a former top Chinese health official who has been involved in unethical organ harvesting.
Researchers of organ harvesting in China spoke to the influential Australian news program the “7:30 Report” with information about Huang Jiefu’s involvement in organ harvesting in China; they called on the University of Sydney to rescind the honorary professorship they gave to Huang in 2008 and renewed in October 2011.
Researcher Maria Fiatarone Singh, a member of the faculty of health science at the University of Sydney, regards Huang as one of the former leaders of an unethical system of organ transplantation.
In the 1990s a very special form of lethal injection called slow lethal injection was perfected in China by Chinese officials. – Researcher Maria Fiatarone Singh
“In the 1990s a very special form of lethal injection called slow lethal injection was perfected in China by Chinese officials,” she said to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which produces the “7:30 Report.” This was meant to preserve the organs while the person is anaesthetised.
“They don’t die right away,” Singh said, giving the surgeon time to pull out organs before the lethal injection is finalized. “It’s done in a way that actually allows this very, very unsavoury mix of execution and medical care and treatment to be done by the same team of doctors,” Singh said. “It’s horrific, really.”
Huang was the vice minister of health from 2001 to 2013, and was the point person for international groups to hear the official word on the Chinese regime’s organ transplantation policies. He was also a member of the Party Leadership Group in the Ministry of Health, according to the Ministry’s website; and he is a reserve member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, ostensibly an advisory body for the Communist Party.
Huang also watched over a period of extensive harvesting of organs from prisoners of conscience, according to the research of David Matas, a Canadian lawyer who co-authored the seminal “Independent Investigation Into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China,” first published in 2006.
Practitioners of Falun Gong are suspected of being the preponderant source of illicit organs trafficked through the Chinese system from the early 2000s onwards; tens of thousands may have been killed in that fashion, researchers indicate.
Much of that activity was carried out by the medical-military complex, where military hospitals work with labor camps to source organs and carry out the transplants in secret. Such hospitals are not under the purview of the Ministry of Health—but as head of the transplantation system, Matas holds Huang accountable.
The University of Sydney defended itself with a note from Professor Bruce Robinson, Dean of the Medical School: “Huang Jiefu is recognised internationally for having made significant changes to the regulation of China’s organ transplantation processes in an effort to curb the practice of organ retrieval from executed prisoners.” Robinson listed some of the initiatives that were attributed to Huang, including “publicly stating that executed prisoners are not an appropriate source of organs for transplantation.”
But it’s likely that Huang has himself extracted the vital organs of executed prisoners, says Singh. Singh notes that even up until November of last year Huang was still carrying out liver transplants.
“That would be 100 organs a year,” Singh says. “Using his own figures, 90 to 95 percent of those would have come from executed prisoners.” Huang previously gave estimates that 90 or 95 percent of all organ transplants in China were from executed prisoners.
Before an operation in 2005, he also contacted the Third Military Medical University in Chongqing, which is affiliated with the Chinese military, as well as the Zhongshan School of Medicine located in Guangzhou, to obtain a blood-matched liver. Within about 24 hours, one arrived from Chongqing and he performed the transplant, according to a news report on a Chinese official website, recounting the incident in adulatory terms.
While David Matas, the lawyer and researcher, acknowledges that Huang played a public role in highlighting the need for the People’s Republic of China to reform its organ sourcing system, he said in a previous interview with The Epoch Times that it was far from enough.
“With Huang Jiefu, I mean, he says all the right things, but he’s a fellow traveller. This guy is sitting on top of a system of massive transplant abuse,” Matas said. “What I see is the system playing good cop/bad cop. Huang is the good cop. He has this notion of ‘Let’s change things gradually.’ He’s been saying this for many years now, and I don’t see a lot of changes. They do everything to hide the figures.”
Matas added: “I don’t buy the line that they’re doing what they can. They should stop it.”
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More in China Human Rights
Tags: CCP, censorship, China, Chinese culture, classical Chinese dance, Shen Yun, Society
Letters sent to businesses and government officials ask for withdrawal of support
By Matthew Robertson
TOKYO—Chinese consulates in Japan have recently sent letters to businesses, newspapers, and government officials in cities and prefectures across the country, demanding that they withdraw their support for Shen Yun Performing Arts, a Chinese classical dance company that tours the world. Good relations with the People’s Republic of China PRC are said to be at issue.
Shen Yun’s tour in Japan runs from April 19 until May 1. It will perform 11 shows in five cities, and is currently playing in Tokyo.
Last year, and the year before, Chinese consular officials also sent similar letters.
One of the letters, reviewed by The Epoch Times, asks a businessman to cancel his sponsorship of Shen Yun’s local promoters in Fukuoka, where the company is scheduled to perform on May 1. He was additionally asked to withdraw all public relations activities, “involvement,” or other support.
Local government officials have also received such letters, like that sent to the mayor of a city in the Fukuoka Prefecture, by Li Tianran, an official at a PRC consular office in Fukuoka.
Officials in prefectural governments in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Osaka, and Aichi, at least, have also received the letters, according to the local promoters in those areas, who were contacted by confused officials after receiving the abusive notes.
So have theaters, television broadcasters, magazines, and three of Japan’s largest newspapers.
The letters frame their demands as being “for the sake of Sino-Japanese relations,” according to the text in the letter seen by The Epoch Times. The Epoch Times devotes a segment of its website to feedback from audiences that have seen Shen Yun.
The Chinese authorities have long attempted to shut down Shen Yun’s performances around the world. The company is frequently sponsored by the Falun Dafa Associations where it performs; Falun Dafa, a spiritual practice, is persecuted ferociously by the Communist Party in China.
A focus of the round of letters in Japan was to slander the host Falun Dafa Association, using the Communist Party’s propaganda against the practice.
In addition, analysts say that the Chinese regime fears the attractiveness to Chinese audiences of the traditional Chinese culture Shen Yun presents. The Chinese Communist Party has sought over the past 60 years to stamp out China’s traditional culture.
The demanding letters were sent in the context of ongoing maritime disputes between Japan and the PRC, where many Japanese feel that the PRC is acting like a bully.
This round of letters targeting Shen Yun is unlikely to reassure the Japanese that China is a generally benign presence, indicated Koyu Nishimura, a Japanese critic and journalist, who read the letter sent to government officials.
“We have the freedom to think, freedom to speak, and freedom to believe. This is what the Communist Party is most frightened of,” he said in an interview with The Epoch Times. “The world is awakening to the real nature of the Communist Party.”
Nishimura continued: “If this has been happening each time the performers come to Japan, we should not keep silent. We must take action.” He added: “We shouldn’t forgive these actions.”
As a result of the letter-writing campaign, some of the sponsors of the hosting organization withdrew their support, and newspapers have been reluctant to run advertising for Shen Yun.
In the history of Shen Yun’s performances this response is unusual. Letters of this kind are regularly sent to sponsors and politicians who support the hosting organizations in countries around the world, and are often ignored or dismissed. Sometimes they are roundly rebuffed.
In early 2011 one such letter reached Dr. Cathy Casey, a member of the city council of Auckland, New Zealand. “I was quite outraged by it,” she said in an interview at the time. “I’m really upset that the consulate should think it can influence elected members in a host country, where they’re our guest. … How dare they!”
After seeing Shen Yun on April 20, Hirosato Nakatsugawa, a member of Japan’s House of Representatives, said: “I deplore the Chinese Communist Party sabotaging the performing arts. It is just pure artistic performance. People want this emotional experience.”
Updates: The article was updated to reflect the widespread nature of the letter-writing campaign, the content of the letters sent, and the impact they had in Japan.
Translation by Yukari Werrell. Written in English by Matthew Robertson.
Read the original article in Japanese.
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Tags: CCP, China, Society
By Ariel Tian
The Communist Party has banned civilian volunteers and groups from entering the Sichuan earthquake disaster region without permission, and is also calling for donation of money instead of supplies.
After the devastating quake hit Lushan county in Ya’an on April 20, volunteers nationwide formed rescue groups, and headed to the quake-hit areas. Several non-official charities and civil rights activists joined in, but encountered heavy resistance from authorities.
New Tang Dynasty (NTD) Television interviewed Huang Qi, founder of China Tianwang Human Rights Center, who rushed to Lushan from Chengdu with three other volunteers. After the 2008 Wenchuan quake, Huang exposed the shoddy “tofu” school buildings, that had claimed numerous children’s lives.
When the four men arrived at Ya’an city, they were blocked by the local stability maintenance department, and taken to a police station. The officers checked their identities, and then said they were “not welcome.”
Huang said that the police told them not to “cause trouble,” and that it would be bad for the locals if they went to the disaster areas.
Huang’s center has again revealed poorly-constructed projects that collapsed in the Ya’an earthquake. He said the communist authorities are afraid they would see more examples if they went to the scene. “The authorities don’t want us to have close contact with local quake victims. I think this is mainly because they don’t want us to expose problems associated with the quake.”
The day after the Ya’an earthquake, the Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a statement, saying that China has adequate rescue and medical forces, and relief supplies, and foreign assistance is not required for the time being.
However, two news reports issued by official media People’s Daily and China National Radio contradicted this statement, saying there is a shortage of relief supplies, with 30,000 tents and 40,000 blankets and clothing needed, and that Ya’an has food and water shortages, with only enough water to last three days.
Shenzhen-based author Zhu Jianguo told NTD that he also believes the regime is trying to hide the real situation in the disaster areas. “If any other third-party rescue forces arrived there, the truth would be revealed against the authorities’ wish. So the government rejected foreign and even non-official rescue assistance as early as possible”
Many netizens were upset that the authorities refused the donation of supplies and only wanted money, especially as media said there is a severe shortage of relief materials.
One Internet user blogged: “I told them, ‘We can’t possibly place money in your care. The Red Cross has been notorious for its corruption. I won’t give a penny to the government-run Red Cross.’”
Others commented that the Communist Party has insisted on taking a closed approach to the rescue effort, and that it places more importance on stability maintenance than people’s lives.
Read the original Chinese article.
Translation by Jane Lin. Written in English by Cassie Ryan.
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Tags: CCP, censorship, China, human rights, persecution of dissidents, Society
By Cassie Ryan
The General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, the office charged with regulating the media, announced the move Wednesday. The office claimed it wanted to “strengthen management” and stop the “spread of harmful information.” The prohibition also applies to freelancers, NGOs, and commercial organizations.
The move coincided with the news that The New York Times had just won a Pulitzer Prize for its October 2012 report on the hidden wealth of ex-premier Wen Jiabao and family.
Press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RWB) condemned the ruling as “draconian,” saying that the Communist Party’s censorship has been increasing steadily since its 18th Congress last November, when the new leadership was selected.
“The censors have had the foreign media in their sights ever since they published embarrassing revelations about China’s leaders,” the report said. “The regime is trying to prevent the Chinese media from repeating such revelations.”
The report added that foreign media play a key role in informing the international community about events in China, as well as the Chinese public, which it described as “the victim of the government’s growing censorship of local media.”
However, burgeoning Internet use in China, for example via Sina Weibo microblogs, renders censorship virtually impossible.
“The initiative seems bound to fail in the era of Weibo and social networks, where information and revelations from the foreign media circulate like wildfire,” the RWB report said. “But it could be used to justify new acts of censorship and could therefore have an impact on the Chinese media, which often quote international news agency reports in particular.”
Beijing journalist Gao Yu, two-time Courage in Journalism Award winner, and former deputy editor-in-chief for Economics Weekly, told the Sound of Hope Radio Network that the Internet has broken the Party’s censorship restrictions, and the move is further evidence of a crisis in officialdom.
“[News about] communist officials’ scandals, natural and mining disasters can be spread around the world in a few minutes or seconds,” Gao said.
“For years the Chinese media’s brainwashing propaganda has destroyed the Chinese people’s morality. With the development of the Internet, the brainwashing propaganda can no longer be sustained,” she added. “This is the Chinese regime’s crisis, and that’s why they are tightening control.”
The ban could have a big impact on domestic newspapers, as international agencies like Reuters provide most of their foreign coverage.
Bloggers responded strongly, particularly journalists. A Beijing journalist cited by citizen media website Global Voices said on his Weibo: “Public opinion supervision is essential for a healthy society. The scale of criticism is the scale of democracy–if criticism is not free, then praise is meaningless. The correct conclusion is from a wide range of voices, rather than what is chosen by the authority.”
Another Weibo user added: “What is harmful information? I think there’s only true and false information. The purpose of the news is to broadcast the truth, which is the basic need of a society. Most of the harmful information as defined by the propaganda department throughout the history of the Chinese republic proved to be accurate. Blocking information and opinions may be effective temporarily, but such a policy of self-denial won’t work in the long run.”
A third referred to a Chinese idiom, saying “The more one tries to hide, the more one is exposed.”
With research by Jane Lin.
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Tags: CCP, China, human rights, IT and Media, labor camps, persecution of dissidents
By Genevieve Belmaker
An Epoch Times reporter is the winner of a prestigious annual award for his reporting on organ harvesting in China. Matthew Robertson, who specializes in reporting on China and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, wrote a series of articles on forced, live organ harvesting published in The Epoch Times in 2012.
Robertson and the articles won the Society of Professional Journalists’ (SPJ) Sigma Delta Chi award for professional journalism. The SPJ, founded in 1909 under the name Sigma Delta Chi, promotes freedom of information, educates and advocates for journalists, and protects First Amendment guarantees of the freedoms of speech and press.
Winners for the 10 categories of the 2012 Sigma Delta Chi awards came from a pool of more than 1,700 entries in categories including print, radio, television, and online. The awards are in recognition of outstanding work published or broadcast in 2012. The Epoch Times collection won for the newspaper category Non-Deadline Reporting (Daily Circulation 1-50,000).
In the nomination letter from The Epoch Times, Deputy Editor-in-Chief Stephen Gregory said that the topic of the articles—forced, live organ harvesting in China—is important and under-reported.
“Hospitals are working hand in glove with the Chinese regime’s repressive security apparatus, and doctors, using the skills meant to heal, are killing helpless prisoners of conscience by removing their organs,” stated Gregory in the letter. He added that the four articles by Robertson submitted on the topic “are a sample of a larger body of work and are the fruit of over two years of consistent effort.”
In praising Robertson’s work on the extremely complicated and sensitive issue, Gregory pointed to his professionalism and dedicated focus.
“Matt [Robertson] has developed contacts with all of the major investigators and human rights organizations in the West concerned with organ harvesting in China and has proven adept at digging important stories out of information publicly available on the Chinese web,” wrote Gregory.
The award-winning articles include “Would Be China Defector, Once Bo Xilai’s Right Hand, Oversaw Organ Harvesting,” about a high-ranking Chinese security official’s forced organ techniques; “After Bo Xilai’s Purge, Searches For ‘Organ Harvest’ Suddenly Allowed,” which analyzes Internet traffic to examine the struggle within the Chinese leadership over accountability for these crimes; “Accused Chinese Organ Harvester Lurks in Transplant Community,” about a Chinese doctor who was head of the organ transplantation unit at a hospital implicated in organ harvesting; “Friendly Ties Come With Award, But Ethicists Object,” on how a major university may have sacrificed ethics for the chance to develop closer ties with China; and “Book Exposes Organized Killing for Organs in China,” a review of State Organs: Transplant Abuse in China, a compilation of works from dozen specialists addressing the issue of organ sourcing practices in China.
In an interview about winning the award, Robertson said he found it gratifying.
“I think it’s awesome that SPJ gave this award because China is a controversial topic to some degree,” said Robertson. “Journalists in China—if they report on this—would probably have their visas denied, so it’s being pushed aside.”
Robertson began learning Chinese in 2007. He lived in Taiwan for eight months of immersion study. Learning aids included the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times, listening to NTD Television and Voice of America, studying reams of Communist Party propaganda, watching ancient Chinese drama serials, and reading the books of Falun Dafa.
To produce the articles, Robertson noted that he made all the phone calls and checked all the available sources, as good journalists do, but had to go well beyond.
“It’s much harder than reporting on subjects in the Western world, because the information is so much harder to get. You cross-check many sources and make some inferences.”
He said that he is “standing on the shoulders of the amazing research done by others, including my Chinese colleagues at The Epoch Times, and also the great work of other Chinese researchers.”
“Through my investigation I found not only gross abuses of human rights, evil things, really, that the Chinese regime has done, but also lack of fortitude in the West in the face of those things.”
“Tens of thousands of prisoners of conscience may have been killed from organ harvesting,” said Robertson. “In Mainland China, military hospitals and labor camps have worked together to carry this out.”
The winners of the Sigma Delta Chi awards were announced on April 23, 2013 on their website.
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Tags: CCP, China, human rights, persecution of dissidents, Society
By Sally Appert
An 18-year-old and fellow amateurs accurately forecast the April 20 earthquake in Sichuan Province and another one in Yunnan Province three days earlier, but a communist official said they were acting against the law.
Lin Long, a student and microblog owner, is part of an online team of about 50 amateur earthquake researchers who gather information online and use it to make predictions. Lin told the Beijing News that their group, called the Forecast Center, has made over 800 predictions so far, mostly for overseas quakes, with over 500 being accurate.
“I am protecting the people’s right to know, to let them know something out of the ordinary was found in the data. We do this to prevent property loss,” Lin told the news agency.
“We are really careful with information on big earthquakes, and we inform the rescue troops if that’s the case.”
However, a municipal decree states that earthquake predictions should only be announced by the authorities, chief forecaster Sun Shihong of China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC) told Beijing News. Sun said that a false prediction from a private group could disrupt social order and stability.
“They should turn in their results and once the government experts confirm it, they will ask the government to issue an official announcement,” Sun added.
On April 14, three days before the Yunnan quake struck, the Forecast Center posted an online prediction that there would be an earthquake in that area within 72 hours. According to state mouthpiece Xinhua, the tremor destroyed nearly 500 houses, injured 14 people, and affected almost 130,000 in the area.
The group noticed oddities in data from the Yunnan Earthquake Precursory Data Center about a week before the disaster hit, according to the Beijing News.
On April 18, Lin’s team also accurately predicted the devastating 6.9-magnitude quake in Sichuan, which killed at least 207 people and injured almost 12,000, based on official data.
Netizens expressed their opinions on the matter via Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblogging platform.
“Why don’t we make it illegal if an earthquake took place and the Earthquake Administration did not forecast it?” one Internet user joked.
Another quipped: “The Forecast Center stole the Earthquake Administration’s job. Also, earthquake prediction in China is a state secret.”
A third was more serious, saying, “There are tens of thousands of pieces of inaccurate information like this. If everyone just predicts at will, how much inconvenience will it bring to our daily life; can you imagine?”
Tags: CCP, China, Economy, human rights, persecution of dissidents, Society
Eight activists have been detained in the past few weeks for calling on over 200 high-level officials in the Communist Party to publicize details of their assets, alongside new leader Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign.
Most recently, rights lawyer Ding Jiaxi and veteran democracy activist Zhao Changqing were locked up on April 17, two days before Xi’s latest speech about countering corruption at a Politburo meeting on Friday.
“All Party members must keep high mental vigilance and gain more public trust for the Party by new progress in the anti-corruption struggle,” Xi said, according to state mouthpiece Xinhua.
Also on Friday, state-run media created special webpages that lead to online informant centers where the public can report on corrupt officials.
If they are afraid of their assets being publicized, it shows that there’s some issue with their property – Liu Weiguo
Overseas advocacy group China Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) said police have been detaining activists, lawyers, and ordinary citizens in a crackdown against anti-corruption and other politically sensitive issues.
The CHRD report added that the seized activists are part of “The New Citizens Movement,” and their petition for asset disclosure includes Xi Jinping and new premier Li Keqiang.
Lawyer and activist Liu Weiguo told New Tang Dynasty Television that Ding Jiaxi was completely within his rights to make the request for transparency. “If the human rights of a lawyer can’t be protected, then the basic rights of citizens will be trampled by the authorities.”
“If they are afraid of their assets being publicized, it shows that there’s some issue with their property,” Liu continued. “They possess huge amounts of undisclosed wealth. Officials fear that this evil will be exposed, so they stifle citizens who ask for disclosure.”
Ai Xiaoming, former professor of Sun Yat-Sen University, told Voice of America that Ding’s appeal is in line with the Party’s anti-corruption campaign. “So if you say asking officials to disclose their wealth is illegal, you are actually saying that the anti-corruption requirement raised by the Party is illegal.”
Prominent lawyer Zhou Ze blogged about the crackdown on his Weibo account: “It will be very difficult to systematize official asset disclosures,” he said. “Citizens who call for officials to disclose their assets get punished. The chasm between ordinary people, and the Communist Party and its officials is vast.”
With research by Ariel Tian.
Tags: CCP, China, environmental issues, Society, sustainable development
By Tian Yuan
Pollution is a big issue in China because it affects everyone. People get anxious when discussing the polluted air, sand storms, contaminated rivers and groundwater, and “cancer villages,” where toxic chemicals are having hazardous effects on the villagers.
Chinese officials talk about protecting the environment, but they get a special supply of clean food, water, and even air. In December 2012, when new Party leader Xi Jinping gave his “China Dream” speech, part of his vision included “a better environment.”
So if everyone is concerned about China’s environment, why is the pollution getting worse by the day, with the number of cancer villages increasing? It’s obvious that the officials are saying one thing but doing another: They are encouraging sacrifice of the environment in exchange for economic development and are penalizing those who spend money on cleaning up the environment.
Why is this? For starters, the Communist Party is an illegitimate dictatorship. To prolong its reign, the regime tries very hard to boost and boast about economic growth.
Before 2012, the Party tried desperately to keep the gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate around 8 percent. After 2012, it went all out to keep the rate around 7 percent. Below this level, unemployment will proliferate, causing social instability that would endanger the regime’s rule.
A recent study by the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research proves this point with solid numbers. The author looked at 283 cities in China and found that officials who spent their budgets treating pollution normally have no hope of being promoted. However, those who spent large sums on building highways and other infrastructure—increasing the local GDP at the expense of the environment—are very likely to be promoted.
In other words, if an official takes care of the people’s welfare and deals with pollution, he should not expect to be promoted. However, if an official raises the GDP figure, the regime gives him a raise without caring how much pollution was generated. Driven by this blatant personal gain, how many officials can we expect to protect the environment?
The Chinese regime also prohibits environmental protection movements by the people. Since 1996, the number of mass demonstrations and riots due to environmental issues has increased by about 30 percent each year.
From the p-xylene pollution in the coastal cities of Xiamen, Ningbo, and Dalian, to the molybdenum-copper pollution in Shifang in southwest China, and the Oji Paper Company’s waste pollution in Qidong, near the coast in central China, local officials colluded with companies and allowed polluting projects before the public became aware of the consequences.
The people have no channel through which they can appeal the state’s decisions. So they resort to demonstrations and riots, and the regime responds by “stabilizing society”—mobilizing the Armed Police force to suppress protesters. This has become the Party’s fixed protocol for solving environmental problems.
China’s dictatorship and the regime’s animosity toward the people’s will are also responsible for the severe pollution. The Western world’s environmental protection policies began as civil movements in the 60s and 70s, with democracy required for their success. The Americans achieved a strong foundation for environmental protection through votes and demonstrations.
During Japan’s industrialization, major localized pollution incidents caused local residents to become severely ill. In the 60s, there were many civil groups advocating environmental protection and challenging the Liberal Democratic Party, the dominant party after the war, which did not care about environmental pollution. These groups also encouraged people to boycott the worst companies.
By the mid 70s, environmentalist groups successfully changed Japan’s situation, with many politicians supporting environmental protection. Wanting to improve their public image, the companies began contacting environmental groups and promised to care about the environment. Positive mechanisms for dealing with environmental problems were eventually established.
The pollution in China reflects the corruption of the communist regime—pollution will exist as long as the Party exists. The soil is contaminated by heavy metals. Industrial chemical wastes are found in rivers, lakes, and groundwater, turning them an array of colors. The air is filled with tiny particles that cause lung cancer, and the food is loaded with toxins.
The Chinese have reached a critical point in their quality of life. If they continue to be indifferent and continue to be duped by the regime, the Chinese people will be committing a kind of suicide.
Tags: Body & Mind, CCP, China, environmental issues, health, Society, sustainable development
In a village in Hebei Province—the province that surrounds China’s capital, Beijing—villagers have reported that their well water has been the color red for more than a decade and have suspected the unnatural color is due to the run-off from a local chemical factory. Several years of complaints to the authorities have produced no visible results, and the villagers have had no choice but to use bottled water for drinking.
Asked about the situation is Xiaozhuzhuang Village, Deng Lianjun, the director of the Bureau of Environmental Protection in Hebei Province’s Cangxian County, remarked that boiled red beans can change the color of water to red. According to Deng, the red color is not necessarily an indication of poor quality.
Locals then began calling Deng the “Red Bean Director,” and he recently stepped down amid criticism. With his departure, stories of local villagers suffering from cancer due to pollution began coming to light.
The Yanzhao Metropolis Daily, a Hebei Province newspaper, reported on April 7 that the test results of a well with red water at a chicken farm in Xiaozhuzhuang Village, showed that the content of aniline, a toxic chemical, exceeded the limit allowed in drinking water by 73 times.
On April 9, China News reported that since 1996 in the village of Xiaozhuzhuang, population 800, 24 people have died of cancer, with six villagers currently living with the disease.
Although villagers have made multiple complaints to the Central Government’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, the response has always been the same: “water test results are within normal parameters.”
“It happens in Anhui, Henan, Shandong, Shaanxi, and Shanxi [provinces],” long-time environmental and human rights activist, Hu Jia, told Sound of Hope (SOH) Radio.
“Sometimes there are multiple instances in one province. I have been to the front line, for example, in the areas surrounding the Huaihe River [a major river in east China],” Hu Jia said. “I have seen those people with esophageal cancer. There are ‘cancer villages.’ A small factory can poison an entire river, not to mention the pollution from various types of huge state-owned enterprises.”
According to the 2012 Annual Report released this January by the National Central Cancer Registry, the growth of cancer in China is alarming, with one person diagnosed every six minutes, and 8,550 people diagnosed every day.
The national cancer morbidity rate is high, with about 3.5 million new cases and about 2.5 million cancer deaths every year.
In February, China’s Environmental Protection Ministry published its 12th Five-Year Plan for the Prevention and Control of Environmental Risks of Chemicals, which acknowledged the existence of what are called “cancer villages”—places with sky-high cancer rates linked to pollution from toxic chemicals.
A New Epoch Weekly article, appearing in 2011, “Cancer Villages Unknown to the Outside World” featured the first person account of Mdm. Tang Miwan of Malaysia, who had joined a medical team sent to help the villagers.
The article revealed the locations of 30 cancer villages in Henan Province in central China. No foreigners were allowed to visit those villages, barriers were deployed at the entrances of some, and those visiting were instructed not to ask questions or take photographs.
According to the article, chemical waste water was routinely dumped into local rivers, and those villagers who consumed the seriously polluted water were at high risk of being diagnosed with cancer. Nothing would grow on the infertile land near the rivers, and villagers could not cultivate any land irrigated with the contaminated water. One person’s fingers festered after she washed her hands with the water.
Development at All Costs
“Damage to the environment and ecosystem has been the cost of China’s development,” Gong Shengli, a Beijing-based internet news researcher, told SOH. “A 2007 World Bank report reveals that 750,000 people die in China each year from air pollution.
“Land pollution is much more serious than air pollution, so the result is even more alarming. Serious pollution affects 40 percent of the country’s water supply, and 55 percent of underground water in 200 cities is polluted. This means about 300 million Chinese have no access to clean water,” Gong said.
According to a China Business Journal article in 2008, Julong Chemical Factory polluted the nearby Dongjin Village in Jiangsu Province, resulting in the deaths of 100 villagers over a period of 5 years, 2001 to 2006, from esophageal and lung cancers.
An article in the Changjiang Times in 2006 reported the creek adjacent to Diwan Village in Hubei Province was heavily polluted, leading to the deaths of more than 100 villagers from cancer.
“The Chinese Communist Party’s officials at all levels think of nothing but personal interest and gain, even those officials at environmental agencies. The officials’ performance ratings have been closely tied to the growth rate of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), so the officials are only concerned about tax revenues or the increasing growth rate of the GDP and give no regard to the rate of occupational disease or loss in food production,” Hu Jia told SOH.
“Political achievement and official posts have become top priorities for the officials. When there is no judicial independence in China, how can people expect [ethical] oversight of water safety, toxic chemical disposal, and the environment? Environmental problems have now become China’s ‘cancer,’ which is incurable when closely linked to [national priorities],” said Hu Jia.
Translated by John Wang and Euly Luo. Written in English by Barbara Gay. With reporting by Sound of Hope Radio Network.
Tags: CCP, China, Falun Gong, human rights, labor camps, persecution of dissidents, Science
By Matthew Robertson
Originally he’d only planned to speak for five minutes, about the recently-concluded Boao economic forum. But as he began recalling the details of torture recently revealed in a Chinese magazine article, well-known television host Cao Baoyin went on for over 20.
“Curse the Boao forum!” Cao said at the beginning of the video, using an actual Chinese curse word. He had just read the article after coming home from his day job on April 9, and needed to speak out. Cao is a television personality and a columnist for Beijing News, a major newspaper in the capital.
At a number of points in his talk he visibly struggled to hold back tears. At one point he held up a board that he’d written a number of the main torture methods on.
“Hell on earth,” he had titled it. He announced the techniques one by one: “Small room,” “inmate-monitors,” “electric shocks,” “death bed,” “tiger bench,” while rapping on each with his Chinese fan.
“Behind every word there’s blood, inhumanity, lawlessness, immorality, and naked barbarism,” he said, before elaborating on specifically how Chinese communist prison guards use the “hanging an airplane” torture against inmates in the Masanjia Women’s Labor Camp.
Cao was one of the hundreds of thousands of Chinese to read and react to a recent article about that labor camp, published in the Chinese magazine Lens, which is known for its photography.
The article detailed the brutal torture methods applied against inmates, most of whom are practitioners of Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual discipline that has been persecuted since 1999. The article did not mention Falun Gong—the persecution of the spiritual practice is off limits for China’s media.
The fact that the piece was published at all was stunning to many. Masanjia is known to have devised many of the extreme torture methods used to break the wills of Falun Gong practitioners, and then taught them to other labor camps.
Cao Baoyin spoke about how prisoners who go on hunger strikes are treated. “They tie them to a ‘death bed’ and use metal pliers to force open their mouths. Some of the victims have their teeth knocked out because of that. Even some of the workers ask for the day shift, so they don’t have to witness it when it happens at night.”
He became agitated and focused on the camera: “The ‘death bed,’ that’s really going to kill people. But in this women’s labor camp, if you die they don’t even care. They think the prisoners’ lives are worth less than flies. Women do this to other women, except that because some of them wear a uniform they can act like beasts, doing this crazy torture. Are these still people? Even beasts don’t do this to one another. When you hear all this, can you say it’s not hell on earth?!”
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Tags: China, Society, technology
China’s chokehold on minerals highlighted in report
Washington right now is supposed to be all about slashing budgets and tightening belts — but the Department of Defense has recently asked Congress for over a billion dollars. To buy rocks.
Specifically, to buy rare earth and other minerals that are crucial to the U.S. defense industry, and whose supply is currently at the mercy of China and its opaque political system. Japan, for example, was starved of rare earth elements during a maritime dispute with China in 2010. The United States wants to hedge that risk, given the damaging consequences an abrupt clampdown could entail.
The DoD has in previous years noted China’s near-monopoly on global rare earth metal production, but the present report, delivered to the House Armed Services Committee in late March, describes the risks in stark terms, and sketches out a range of scenarios.
One scenario has China embargoing exports of some key rare earth elements, and notes that currently the U.S. would be hamstrung.
Stockpiling some of the crucial elements is one of the proposed remedies for China’s control. It’s an idea that has hardly been heard since the later years of the Cold War, given the growth of globalized and largely unfettered trade that has characterized the last several decades.
Daniel McGroarty, principal of American Resources, a policy group, and president of U.S. Rare Earths, a mining company, referred to a reflection made by Adam Smith, the ideological father of free markets, over two hundred years ago: that when it comes to strategic items like sailcloth and gunpowder, “it might not always be prudent to depend upon our neighbors for the supply.”
Rare earth metals are to the the modern world what gunpowder and sailcloth were to 18th century Britain, McGroarty says, which explains the DoD’s concern.
“I think we lost sight of the geopolitical or strategic element that might cause countries to intervene in industry for reasons of advantage that are not just economic,” McGroarty said in a telephone interview. “I think we just didn’t see that. And now when we do see it, the situation has changed drastically.”
Two decades ago, McGroarty said, the rare earth market was split between the United States and China. “Now it’s become extraordinarily lopsided,” with China producing over 90 percent of supplies of rare earths.
The Department presents its report on Strategic and Critical Materials Report on Stockpile Requirements every other year. In the past it has noted China’s predominance in the rare earth metal space, but had not previously evinced the concerns seen now.
In a strategic risk assessment given in Appendix 12, the possibility of China cutting off rare earth exports was assigned a mean probability of only 4 percent, though with dire consequences. “Gross domestic product losses would be high, and the consequences would extend over a significant timeframe,” the report said.
It continued: “Economic consequences of war with China are high based on the mutual dependence between the two countries. Militarily the conflict would be violent, but quick; and we would get the better of it, at least in the next ten years. Politically, there would be some loss of credibility on both sides, due to the failure to prevent the war. Trade disruptions would also have major Chinese domestic political consequences.”
A scenario where China cuts off exports of some key minerals for a year “in an effort to coerce or punish the United states… as well as to drive up commodity prices,” was also considered. There would be a $1.2 billion shortfall for the 72 minerals considered.
Complicating the assessment is the sometimes haphazard and fragmented nature of how rare earths are obtained from China: in the south of the country, tens of thousands of metric tonnes of rare earths are thought to be wrung from the ground, and refined and exported, by a chaotic chain of fly-by-night mining operators — none of those figures go into the official books. Estimates for that illicit activity range from 10,000 to 40,000 metric tonnes per year.
At the height of its production, Molycorp, a U.S.-based miner of rare earth elements that was hit hard by China’s rock-bottom prices, says it planned to produce 20,000 metric tonnes of product in 2012. This means the underground Chinese supply component could be as much as double the entire U.S. supply, which goes some way to illustrating the opaque and potentially volatile nature of Chinese supply.
“Think about how nervous that would make a Pentagon planner,” McGroarty says.
Tags: CCP, censorship, China, IT and Media, Society
By Epoch Times
Chinese mourned the passing of an unlikely hero Wednesday–a newspaper censor whose final regrets exposed some of the backstage machinations in the Chinese communist apparatus.
Zeng Li, the former in-house censor of Guangzhou’s Southern Weekly, died on April 3, only three days into his retirement. He was 61.
Zeng left behind a telling letter, written on March 28, which was shared thousands of times on Weibo, a Twitter-like microblog service, the day after his passing.
“Looking back on the last four years, I have made mistakes,” he wrote. “I killed reports that I shouldn’t have killed, I deleted content that I shouldn’t have deleted. But in the end, I woke up, preferring not to carry out a political mission and go against my conscience; I don’t want to go down as a criminal against history.”
“In the Southern Weekly New Year’s editorial incident, I stood up and spoke up out of a sense of justice,” he added. “I have a clear conscience, no regrets.”
Despite his role as “content examiner,” Zeng became well-known after the newspaper’s protest against censorship in January, when staff went on strike after Guangdong’s chief propagandist, Tuo Zhen, altered their 2013 New Year edition without consultation.
The greeting was written in support of respect for rule of law, and new Party leader Xi Jinping’s “dream of constitutionalism,” but was replaced with a pro-Party piece called “Seeking Dreams.”
Zeng’s job was to ensure the paper’s content adhered to censorship regulations laid down by provincial and central authorities. After the January incident, he explained in a blog post titled “Who Revised the New Year’s Greeting at Southern Weekly?” that he was employed to help the business avoid political risks, rather than to “strangle freedom of speech.”
He noted that the political environment became more sensitive last year after the ousting of Politburo official Bo Xilai, and the Party’s leadership change in November. Since the May 2012 appointment of Tuo Zhen, the provincial propaganda czar, the paper had been heavily censored, and all editorial had to be approved, Zeng added.
Tuo is a lapdog of ex-propaganda chief Li Changchun, a close ally of former Party leader Jiang Zemin. Analysts believe that Jiang’s faction is afraid Xi Jinping will use the propaganda of implementing the constitution to weaken Jiang’s power.
Former colleagues, writers, and other netizens reflected on Zeng’s life in online memorials. Chen Zhaohua, editor at sister newspaper Southern Metropolis Weekly, shared Zeng’s farewell letter, saying the outpouring of grief reflected the values he stood for.
Sociologist and history scholar Ma Yong at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences commented on his Weibo: “This letter is surely an important document in China’s history.”
Writer Li Chengpeng described Zeng as “entangled,” but said “justice always dominated his heart,” on his Weibo. “When this happened some time ago, he behaved very well. Now that he’s gone, he will continue to edit this country in heaven.”
Oian Gang, once a managing editor at the Weekly, blogged: “He showed the sincere strength of character typical of a Southern Weekly journalist and stuck to the bottom line,” adding: “Everyone has a choice.”