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: 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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More in Chinese Regime
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, 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.”
Tags: CCP, China, IT and Media, Society
Chinese online media company Sina says it has 500 million people—about a third of China’s population—on its Twitter-like platform called Weibo. But a recent report suggests the numbers include many fraudulent “zombie” accounts, meant to pad the books.
A report titled “The Illusion and Shadow Behind Sina’s Flourishing Numbers,” was published at TMT Post, a Chinese online media that focuses on market research in online technology. Its author Wang Shuai works for CCID Consulting Company Limited. The report was later deleted from the website.
Of Sina’s 500 million registered Weibo users, the number of active daily users was 46.3 million—a 74 percent increase compared with the same period last year—according to data recently released by the company.
100 Million Zombies
According to Wang Shuai’s article, Sina has adopted many “secret methods” for attempting to make its business profitable, most notably by creating fake users whose accounts can follow, comment, and vote.
“Sina’s technical staff have developed an internal Weibo platform with over 100 million ‘users,’ and the number is still increasing on a massive scale. However, those so-called users are all ‘dead;’ some of them are zombie followers, and some are still breathing.”
The term “zombie” refers to accounts with profile pictures that follow other accounts, but have no followers and do not post comments; while those who are “still breathing” actually post comments.
It’s all computer-generated though, Wang writes. They follow each other, and comment and vote on each others’ content. Sina then attempts to sell advertising space based on the numbers created by all this fake activity, Wang alleges.
Alongside this is an industry in selling fake Weibo followers. Wang cites some 2013 prices: $0.80 per thousand zombie followers, $4.50 per thousand super followers (with less than 100 followers each), $5.60 per thousand premium followers (with hundreds of followers and over 100 posts), and $16 per thousand customized followers.
Buyers can also determine the activities of their zombie hordes.
Between Feb. 11 and 17, Sina had the highest number of visitors of the five Chinese Weibo (or “microblog”) platforms–Sina, QQ Tencent, Sohu, NetEase, and Digu–as shown by data from the China Internet Information Centre (CNNIC). Specifically, Sina accounted for 63.5 percent of the total Weibo traffic, had the highest number of page views with 80.6 percent, and the longest user time at 81.2 percent during this period.
Although Sina is proud to be number one and has invested heavily in its Weibo platform, it has not enjoyed matching returns.
In its recent 2012 financial report, Sina achieved a net revenue of US$139 million, netting a profit of US$2.4 million, which is a 74.3 percent drop from 2011.
The TMT Post article attributes this loss to the large investment Sina pumped into staffing, office space, and sales costs for its Weibo business. However, the financial report shows that Sina’s daily active user figure is less than 10 percent of its claimed total registered users.
Herman Yu, Sina’s chief financial officer, said that the company lost US$93 million due to its Weibo business, mainland media Netease reported on Feb. 20.
Research by Ariel Tian. Translation by Amy Lien and Gao Hao. Written in English by Cassie Ryan.
Read Original Chinese article.
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Tags: CCP, censorship, China, human rights, persecution of dissidents, Society
Coming across the message “this page cannot be displayed” while browsing the Internet is a common experience for Chinese netizens, and is often a sign the content was removed by Internet censors. The practice is known as “post-deleting,” and a recent inside account reveals how the industry has boomed.
Like most things in China, the dubious practice of deleting posts straddles both business and officialdom, according the report in Beijing-based Century Weekly on Feb. 18. This gray economy is controlled by public relations companies, website managers, and Party officials tasked with monitoring the Internet.
Also known as “Internet crisis public relations companies,” post-deleting firms serve private businesses as well as officials. One such company, Beijing Qihang Internet Public Relations, explains on its website that certain online posts must be deleted because “many well-known enterprises spend large amounts of money on establishing their corporate images. If they do not take action to remove negative articles, they could find themselves in a deadly crisis.”
Beijing Qihang is able to remove any online article that can be found using Baidu, China’s largest search engine, as well as cached screenshots of the offending webpages stored on Baidu servers.
Deleting an article costs up to tens of thousands of yuan, and blocking a search term can cost up to 1 million yuan (US$160,000), according to Century Weekly.
However, with many anonymous netizens now using the Internet as a platform to report acts of corruption, Chinese officials have become the main clients for these censorship companies.
Web-scrubbing company Yage Time Advertising Ltd. said in the report that 60 percent of its revenue came from officials in small- and medium-sized cities, most of whom were police chiefs and county governors.
Gu Tengda, Yage Time’s founder, reportedly told his salesmen during a training session, “Each of your business deals should be worth at least 500,000 yuan (US$80,000).” A former high-ranking manager disclosed that the company turned a profit of 50 million yuan (US$8 million) in 2011.
Mr. Zhang, an employee at a business in the same industry, 306 Internet Brand Consulting, said in an interview with the Chinese International Business Times that the company provides long-term services for its customers. “Prices depend on the difficulty of the job. It’s not difficult to delete news from most news sites, but deleting news or posts from financial news websites and forums often costs more. We also offer the service of modifying the original news and releasing positive information on our customers,” Zhang said.
According to Zhang, the post-deleting business began to boom in 2007 and peaked in 2010, but has since slowed down. “This industry is still profitable. It is really competitive in large cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou. However, the market is also bright in small- and medium-sized cities.”
Research by Howard Feng. Translation by Hsin-Yi Lin. Written in English by Tan Shu Yan.
Tags: Body & Mind, Children, health, IT and Media, psychology, Society
The noise the first student is referring to is the background noise of television, radio and music, plus a multitude of social media and online curiosities. And the silence the second student refers to is a world devoid of such background noise.
Drawing on six years (2007-12) of observations from 580 undergraduate students, it can be reasonably argued that their need for noise and their struggle with silence is a learned behavior.
The desire for media-generated background noise is acquired more from parents and grandparents than from my students’ new-found relationship with social media.
To that extent, Larry D. Rosen’s excellent advice on how teachers can address student social media anxiety – such as by introducing one-minute technology breaks–shouldn’t be confused with issues surrounding the same students’ need for background noise.
With obvious exceptions, mum and dad also inherited this need for background noise: “My grandparents have the television on practically all the time in the background”, observes one student.
It is not surprising then when another writes, “the television was switched on by my parents earlier in the morning for the news and left on … even when no-one was watching”.
For all but one of the 580 students, television and radio was in the home prior to their birth. For most students, the family home also had at least one computer before they were born. Indeed, this year we had our first student that can’t remember her family’s first mobile phone.
Beginning at infancy, the constant media soundscape has provided the background noise either side of bassinet, kindergarten, school and university. It is little wonder many of my students feel agitated and ill-at-ease when there is not at least one portal providing background noise.
Such background noise speaks to Bill McKibben’s observations of the Third Parent.
More often than not, a student’s third parent (whether that be analogue or digital media) speaks to them more often than their biological parents. As one participant noted, “the noise of the TV and the communication on Facebook helps me feel more in touch with people”.
By and large my students report they can’t function in silence. As one explained, “I actually began doing this assignment in the library and had to return to my room minutes later to get my iPod as I found the library was so quiet that I couldn’t concentrate properly!”
It’s not just the silence of a library that students report as disturbing. Having gone home to the farm, one student observed how she found it hard to walk down to the dam without an iPod.
When the students were provided with the tools to reflect on their media consumption they began to recognize the nature of background noise. Having filled in their spreadsheets, they were asked to spend one hour walking, sitting and/or reading in a quiet place. This is the moment in the assignment when students tend to discover their relationship with silence:
“The lack of noise made me uncomfortable, it actually seemed foreboding”, observed one student. Another said “perhaps, because media consistently surrounds us today, we have a fear of peace and quiet”.
Could it be that it’s the background noise and not the discrete content of each media portal that creates the perception of well-being my students write about?
Either way, it’s clear that students (and doubtless many others) have become accustomed to the background noise that’s become such a feature of modern life.
So what about you: are you scared of silence?
This article was originally published on The Conversation.
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Tags: CCP, censorship, China, human rights, IT and Media, persecution of dissidents, Society
Strike and protest follow China’s Southern Weekly censorship
Scores of protesters amassed in front of the headquarters of the Guangdong-based Southern Weekend to support media freedom after it emerged that the prominent publication’s New Year’s editorial was doctored by a local Chinese Communist official.
Some experts believe it is one of the most important incidents to raise public awareness about China’s beleaguered media environment in some time.
“Get rid of censorship. The Chinese people want freedom,” wrote one user on Twitter.
The protest came after the Southern Weekend’s editorial staff went on strike over the weekend, a rare public demonstration in support of media freedom in China, one of the most tightly censored countries in the world.
The South China Morning Post reported that the editorial staff went on strike–the first such strike at a major newspaper in several decades.
The decision to strike was made after the paper’s management took control over the editorial department’s microblog account, and said that its New Year’s statement was written by staff and not the provincial propaganda chief Tuo Zhen, who formerly headed Xinhua. Reports emerged over the weekend that Tuo Zhen made the changes without editorial consent, drawing condemnation from reporters, commentators, and numerous Chinese academics.
“The statement [on the official microblog] does not represent the opinion of the editorial staff. It is a result of pressure applied by the authorities on the … management,” reads a statement from Southern Weekly staff members on another microblog, according to the Morning Post. “The editorial staff will fight against the falsified statement … Until the issue is resolved, we will not do any editorial work.”
The original editorial touched on reviving constitutionalism in China, but the new one apparently authored by Tuo removed sensitive topics and praised the Communist Party.
All media organizations–state-run and private–are subject to the Communist Party’s censorship and oftentimes remove content that is deemed sensitive or contrary to its propaganda line. China is consistently ranked as one of the world’s worst press freedom violators in the world by watchdogs.
Protesters in front of the Southern Weekend’s office brought chrysanthemum flowers and chanted “for democracy, press freedom, and human rights,” according to John Kennedy of the South China Morning Post. He also said that middle school students came out to show support. There were minor scuffles between police officers and protesters.
“End press censorship. The Chinese people want freedom!” another Chinese protester said.
“I feel that the ordinary people must awaken,” protester Yuan Fengchu, told The Associated Press via telephone. “The people are starting to realize that their rights have been taken away by the Communist Party and they are feeling that they are being constantly oppressed.”
David Bandurski of Hong Kong University’s China Media Project said the incident “is without a doubt one of the most important we will witness in China this year.”
According to the China Media Project, editorial staff at a Southern Weekend meeting demanded the formation of an investigative team to look into the New Year’s editorial incident and produce a public report. However, editorial board chief Huang Can said that there “there would be no settling of scores and that the censorship process would be ‘returned to normal,’” according to the Media Project.
Tags: CCP, China, Falun Gong, human rights, IT and Media, persecution of dissidents, Society
Tags: IT and Media, Society
Paper lauded for efforts to bridge cultural divide and ‘fight for the truth’
TORONTO—The Chinese edition of The Epoch Times has received the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada award for “Excellence in editorial/free expression, best concept and visual presentation.”
Cindy Gu, publisher of the paper, accepted the award from Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley on behalf of what she described as an “excellent team of reporters, editors, photographers and designers” at an event Nov. 9 at Queen’s Park.
Gu said The Epoch Times has come a long way since it first began as a weekly tabloid in 2000. Since then, the paper has grown into Canada’s largest Chinese broadsheet and the only daily Chinese newspaper with an audited circulation.
The newspaper’s growth includes the addition of English and French editions and expansion across the country to Canada’s six largest cities.
It is the second time The Epoch Times has won the award. In 2005, the paper won for its coverage of SARS. It was the first newspaper to report on SARS while official Chinese channels still denied the existence of the disease.
Thomas Saras, president of the National Ethnic Press and Media Council, lauded The Epoch Times’ efforts to bridge the cultural divide between Chinese newcomers and mainstream Canadian society while reporting on ongoing problems in China.
“The Epoch Times are real good fighters. They bring many, many stories about what is happening in China with issues like organ harvesting and the killing of people for their organs. [The award] shows that it is a paper well respected in the community, by the community, and it is working for the benefits of the human family,” Saras said.
“They have the ability to fight for the truth and to fight for human rights.”
Ethnic Media Rising
Once considered relatively insignificant, Canada’s ethnic press has grown in stature as its ethnic communities have grown.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is credited in part with delivering to the Conservatives suburban ridings with large ethnic communities during the last federal election
Looking to the future, Saras said it isn’t hard to project that ethnic press will be increasingly viewed as mainstream media.
“The Ethnic media at this point is thriving. According to Statistics Canada data released last month, 6.4 million Canadians are communicating at home in their mother tongue, in a language that is not English or French,” he said.
“That means 6.4 million Canadians are relying on the ethnic media to get their news from either Canada or their old country. So under those circumstances I believe the ethnic media has a very good chance to prosper.”
Saras said mainstream media currently overlook that demographic and stories relevant to Canada’s diverse cultural communities.
“The members of these communities get their stories from the ethnic media, and one that has done well is The Epoch Times. It is a very good example.”
He predicted that media now considered ethnic would be mainstream outlets within 20 years, playing a critical role for newcomers integrating into Canadian society.
Bridge to the West
Saras said one distinguishing quality of The Epoch Times was its effort to report mainstream news, helping newcomers better understand their adopted country while simultaneously keeping up with issues in China.
Too often now, he said, many Chinese newcomers remain locked into the Chinese community with little interaction with mainstream Canadian society.
“To the credit of The Epoch Times, it got out of that block and created a newspaper that goes everywhere in Toronto—not only areas of Chinese people, but also mainstream events. And the anglophone edition goes everywhere. This is the right policy to bring the problems of the Chinese community to other committees, and at same time report what happens with government to the Chinese community,” Saras said.
“[The English and Chinese editions] are the main bridge between the new culture and the old country. These people who are coming to Canada—they have very little idea of the Canadian culture.”
Gu noted that the English edition also provides a bridge for second-generation Chinese to connect with their culture by carrying stories about the mainland and the essence of traditional Chinese culture.
Big News, Big Readers
Earlier this year, upheaval in the Chinese Communist Party became the biggest story in China and The Epoch Times staked its claim on the story with inside sources and coverage that predicted major events, including the downfall of Bo Xilai, once the Chinese regimes commerce minister before being demoted and eventually purged.
That coverage saw visits to The Epoch Times website increase from 1 million per day to 600 million.
Such coverage is part of why Chinese community leaders attending the award ceremony said they make reading Epoch a regular habit.
Hong Shizhong, chairman of the Chinese Benevolent Association of Greater Toronto, said he and his wife read the paper every day because they believe that “you can really see the real situation in China in Epoch Times.”
Hong Kong and Canadian Alliance chairman Li Shude said he reads the paper two or three times a week, but more often if there is big news.
The Epoch Times features outspoken reports with rich information, he said.
Political commentator Li Tianming reads the website daily for news covering politics, human rights, the economy, and more, he said. He praised The Epoch Times for holding the Chinese regime to account for its numerous abuses of the Chinese people.
“They are very brave to stand up,” he said. “This award is well-deserved.”
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Tags: CCP, China, IT and Media, Society
Deleting online posts has become China’s latest get-rich-quick opportunity. Some web portals have what they call in-house public relations companies, which charge clients to delete unflattering posts. A recent scandal involving Japanese porn stars has raised prices for deleting content.
In May, after PetroChina’s Sichuan Petrochemical Company announced a 38 billion yuan (US$6.06 billion) project, Japan’s Shimadzu Corporation and its representative in Beijing, Beijing HED Group, allegedly won a contract to supply chromatograph machines with a low bid to the company, and then bribed officials by inviting officials from the company and a contractor to Japan, where top Japanese porn stars entertained them. The scandal went viral on the Internet.
A source told The Epoch Times that PetroChina’s investigators learned that the corruption in Sichuan Petroleum & Chemical was worse than the public had imagined. Because it involved executives in PetroChina with high connections, the investigation had to stop. Instead, PetroChina paid to have all online postings about the scandal deleted.
The Epoch Times learned that in order to delete all the posts about the scandal, PetroChina has so far spent 37 billion yuan ($5.9 billion). It is estimated that the total cost of deleting the posts will exceed 50 billion yuan ($7.98 billion). The implicated official is said to be of much higher rank than the CEO of PetroChina. The scandal reaches the highest level of Chinese politics.
Boxun, a Chinese-language website outside China, reported that a high-level manager at a popular Internet public relations company said the main source of income for Internet forums and blog sites is not advertisements but deleting posts.
“The business of deleting online content is so good right now that many websites that were losing money for the past few years became profitable in just one month,” the manager said. This sudden profitability was the contribution of PetroChina’s porn scandal, he said.
Liu Hu, a reporter for the Guangzhou-based New Express Daily, wrote on his Sina microblog on Oct. 14, “A gold mine owner in Shaanxi Province sent me a message. He asked me to delete one of my blog posts and all related articles, because the post has been a headache for certain high-ranking officials. In return, I will be paid handsomely—as much money as in the attached picture. My friends, should I delete or not delete?”
The picture provided showed a pile of RMB worth about 300,000 yuan (almost US$47,000).
The headache-inducing blog post on sohu.com is “Shaanxi Province Disciplinary Inspection Committee gives free coal mine.” Wang Erxiao, from Fugu in Shaanxi Province, ran a coal mine with an official who retired in 1979. Wang held one-third ownership.
The two disputed the ownership arrangement and fought county, city and provincial lawsuits. Wang lost all the lawsuits.
Wang cooked up a “letter from the people,” sent it to a provincial level official and received a reply. The provincial level Disciplinary Inspection Committee intervened and eventually helped Wang win ownership of the mine. Officials from the Disciplinary Inspection Committee were said to own some shares of the mine, according to Liu’s blog post.
Liu’s Weibo post attracted much attention. Fu Liang, a communications analyst from Beijing wrote, “let’s dig around for this valuable blog and repost it so that we all can get rich.” Many others echoed his suggestion.
Because of the rapid development of the Internet, deleting negative content on portals, chat rooms, forums, video and audio sharing sites, wikis, blogs and search engines is an emerging business. Some companies that delete posts offer a “lifetime guarantee” on deleted content, according to an Aug. 6 report by Southern Metropolis Daily.
The Daily said one service offers slow deletion and fast deletion. Slow deletion takes one to three business days and costs 1,200 yuan ($192) per post for businesses and 800 yuan ($128) per post for individuals. Fast deletion takes from a few minutes to over 10 minutes, up to 1,100 seconds and costs about 2,500 yuan ($399) per post.
According to the article, portals such as sina.com and tianya.cn are more expensive than other online platforms. The cost to delete a post on a portal averages 2,500 to 3,800 yuan ($399 to $606). Some charge more than 10,000 yuan ($1596) per post.
An experienced “deleting posts” professional told Southern Metropolis Daily that the standard of deletion charges depends mainly on the type of websites, and the popularity of the post.
Tags: CCP, censorship, China, human rights, IT and Media, persecution of dissidents, Society
The Chinese regime has become more restrictive in controlling what its citizens see on the Internet in the past year and commits the most violations of user’s rights in the world, a new report from Freedom House has found.
“Chinese authorities further enhanced an already sophisticated and multilayered system for censoring, monitoring, and manipulating activities on the Internet, while abducting or imprisoning dozens of activists, lawyers, and bloggers,” the report states, noting that China’s score on restricting Internet freedoms increased by two points from 2010 to 2011. This means that China, alongside Iran and Cuba, is the most restrictive country in the world.
In 2011, Chinese authorities arrested dozens of bloggers and activists and detained them for weeks, with some receiving prison sentences, the report said.
Freedom House noted that Chinese netizens have become increasingly inventive in circumventing the regime’s censors, pointing out that microblogging sites including Sina Weibo have allowed netizens “to outpace censors, draw attention to incipient scandals, and mount online campaigns on various topics.”
In the past several months, one notable example of Chinese Internet users outflanking the censors was when a gruesome photo of a woman whom local Chinese Communist authorities forced to have an abortion went viral on Weibo.
As a result of Weibo and other microblogging sites’ popularity, Chinese “authorities responded with tightened controls on such services, including intensified censorship and real-name registration requirements, although the new restrictions’ full effect on online discourse remains to be seen,” according to the report.
It noted that ordinary Chinese still face a litany of obstacles to full and free access to the Internet such as “centralized control over international gateways, a notable urban-rural gap, and sporadic,
localized shutdowns of Internet access at sites of protest.”
Recently, in several areas in Tibet and neighboring Sichuan Province, Chinese censors have reportedly cut off the Internet in order to prevent the spread of information regarding a spate of self-immolations carried out by monks and others over harsh communist rule in the region.
Similarly, censors blocked Internet access in parts of the Xinjiang region from July 2009 to May 2010 after protests erupted over Chinese rule over the area, which triggered a crackdown on dissent, the report said.
Freedom House also criticized the Chinese regime’s cyberattacks on overseas websites that are critical of the ruling Communist Party, including websites belonging to Falun Gong, a form of meditation practice that has been suppressed since 1999.
“The Chinese government has vigorously denied any involvement in these attacks. Such denials were undermined by archive footage aired on a state-run television program in July 2011, which included a demonstration of software designed by the Chinese military being used to carry out an attack on a Falun Gong-related website in the United States,” according to the report.
China is also being used as a model for other repressive regimes around the world, it added.
“China’s influence as an incubator for sophisticated restrictions was felt across the globe, with governments such as Belarus, Uzbekistan, and Iran using China as a model for their own new Internet controls,” the report said. Uzbekistan and Iran scored in the top five on Freedom House’s “not free” list.
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Tags: CCP, censorship, China, human rights, IT and Media, organ harvesting, persecution of dissidents, Society
Freedom House recently reported that the Chinese regime has in the past year intensified its efforts to block the Internet. But in the past two weeks, those efforts have become even more vigorous.
Many mainland Chinese who have used software to “climb the wall,” referring to breaking the Internet blockade by the regime’s “great firewall,” have encountered a very slow Internet and difficulty accessing the websites that allow them to surf the Internet freely.
Several things have happened recently in China that might make the regime want to restrict access to the World Wide Web. Xi Jinping disappeared for two weeks, and speculation about that was suppressed.
The controversy over the Senkaku Islands—the Diaoyu Islands as they are known in China—needs to be carefully handled so that the protests instigated by Party officials don’t blow out of control.
And sometime in the next month the 18th Party Congress is expected to take place, at which the once-in-a-decade introduction of the new Party leadership will take place.
But the strengthening of the Internet blockade is most likely related to United Nations’ 21st session of the Human Rights Council at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Human Rights Council met from Sept. 10 to 28, and the atrocity of forced, live organ harvesting became a hot topic at the meeting.
Meetings in Geneva
On Sept. 18, two non-governmental organizations at the Human Rights Council presented reports on the crime of live organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China and asked that the United Nations immediately investigate.
On Sept. 19, Free China: The Courage to Believe and Between Life and Death, two award-winning films that tell of the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners and the live harvesting of their organs for profit, were shown at the venue.
Representatives from a number of countries as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations watched the films and joined discussion after the show.
On Sept. 21, the two films were shown again at the General Assembly of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva during a film show hosted by the Worldwide Organization for Women.
Members of the Human Rights Council and representatives of the NGOs that were present were excited that the atrocity of live organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners has finally been discussed for the first time at the General Assembly of the U.N. Human Rights Council.
Many of those present in Geneva said that in order to pressure the U.N. and the international community to go into China to investigate, more activities exposing the atrocity should be held around the world.
Saving the Party
Meanwhile, the exposing of its crime at the international human rights council to over 200 countries is certainly a blow to the Chinese regime. The high levels of the CCP have no idea what the response of the international community will be.
Various analysts have pointed out that the persecution of Falun Gong is core issue facing the CCP leadership. The forced, live organ harvesting is the cruelest crime used against the Falun Gong practitioners.
The individuals who were recently the most powerful men in China—former Party head Jiang Zemin and members of his faction, including Zhou Yongkang, Zeng Qinghong, Luo Gan, Bo Xilai, and Liu Qi—are implicated in the atrocity, as well as the military, local hospitals, and the public security system.
The involvement of the top Party officials in the forced, live organ harvesting poses a danger to the Party itself.
Ever since the Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun attempted to defect to the United States, a battle for supremacy has raged within the CCP between Jiang’s faction and the current head of the Party, Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, presumptive next head of the Party Xi Jinping, and their various supporters.
Although Hu, Wen, and Xi have gradually gained the upper hand, they have chosen not to hold Jiang’s faction accountable for organ harvesting. They realized that exposing the atrocity would also forever sink the Party’s chance of ruling China. The Chinese people would discard the CCP.
Hu, Wen, and Xi have chosen to save the Party. We have thus seen lenient sentences given to Bo Xilai’s wife Gu Kailai for the murder to the British businessman Neil Heywood and to Wang Lijun for his attempted defection and other crimes. Neither was charged with their involvement in organ harvesting, which was far-reaching.
Similarly, domestic security czar Zhou Yongkang is still free to speak as he likes on television and to visit foreign countries, even though Zhou’s security forces are deeply implicated in the organ harvesting and he is believed to have plotted to seize power in a coup.
The two factions have reached a compromise to save the Party amid their struggle.
The recent increase in Internet censorship is part of the deal between the factions to hide the organ harvesting.
However, Internet censorship can only go so far, and nothing can stay hidden forever.
With the continuous development of new software that breaks the Internet blockade, more and more people in China will discover the truth. And as the international community becomes more aware of the CCP’s atrocity of live organ harvesting, the CCP will face pressures as it never has before.
Read the original Chinese article.
Tags: CCP, China, IT and Media
Microsoft announced that it has found malware to be pre-installed in computers in China, accounting for up to 20 percent of some computers sold.
Researchers for Microsoft in China have found forged versions of the Windows operating system, as well as a piece of malicious software known as Nitol, which sends information back to command-and-control nodes run by hackers. The malware is reported to be able to turn on the computer’s microphone and webcam, allowing hackers to see and hear in the vicinity of the computer. A similar attack was documented as part of Operation GhostNet, believed to be a state-sponsored espionage that used similar spying mechanisms on certain political targets such as Tibetans and government computers.
Worse, Nitol also turns the computer into part of a botnet, which can be used by hackers using the same servers to do malicious activity, such as unleash a DDOS (distributed denial of service) attack on hapless computers at the hackers’ will.
Lawsuit Filed to Stop Botnet Infection
Microsoft released this information as part of a federal lawsuit that it filed in the United States. The lawsuit targets a Chinese businessman named Peng Yong, who is alleged to be running web domains that are a hotbed of malware used in the attacks.
Court papers were unsealed on Thursday in a federal court in Virginia where the case is being filed, according to the Associated Press (AP).
In a private chat on Sina Weibo with AP, Peng is reported to have confirmed ownership of the domain, but defended himself saying his company has “2.85 million domain names” and could not exclude that certain domains were being used “for malicious purposes.” AP noted in the same article that “Russian security company Kaspersky Lab reported that 40% of all malware programs … connected to 3322.org.”
According to ThreatPost, The U.S. federal court gave Microsoft a restraining order against Peng Yong, his company Bei Te Kang Mu Software Technology, and three other unidentified people included in the lawsuit, and allowed Microsoft and U.S. authorities the go-ahead to block the Nitol malware and botnet. The report stated that 80 percent of the infected machines were in China, and 85 percent of the command-and-control nodes were operating in China.
Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit assistant general counsel Richard Domingues Boscovich wrote of the project in the report, ”Our disruption of the Nitol botnet further demonstrates our resolve to take all necessary steps to protect our customers and discourage criminals from defrauding them into using malware infected counterfeit software.” The software giant had uncovered the malware and identified sources after a few months of investigation.
Tags: CCP, China, espionage, Falun Gong, human rights, IT and Media, persecution of dissidents, Society
TORONTO—Long-time Parliament Hill reporter and author Mark Bourrie threw away a steady job reporting for Xinhua News Agency when it became painfully clear he was being used as a spy.
Now he is giving an inside look into the murky world of Chinese-state journalism with an article published Aug. 23 in Ottawa Magazine detailing his time with the Chinese regime’s leading state-controlled news agency.
“I knew when I worked for Xinhua that there would be that time when they would really try to compromise me. It became fairly obvious as the months went by,” he told The Epoch Times.
Bourrie took the job only after contacting CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) to find out if he should be worried about being used as a spy. CSIS never got back to him.
While Bourrie spent most of his time doing straight reporting, a few assignments were clearly intelligence work, done for the sole purpose of keeping the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) intelligence agency abreast of what the regime’s critics in Canada were up to.
As these questionable assignments added up, Bourrie felt the weight of compromising his journalistic integrity.
“There are times in life when you have to draw a line and say, ‘This is wrong.’ And to do it—to actually know that I could do it and not make excuses for continuing it—was cathartic,” he said.
There are times in life when you have to draw a line and say, ‘This is wrong.’
— Reporter Mark Bourrie
“It feels good to get away from them, to know I will never do business with these people again.”
He came to the job with noteworthy credentials. Bourrie is the author of several books, including a best seller, The Fog of War, published during his time with Xinhua. His work has been published in several of Canada’s most respected publications, has won several awards. Bourrie has also lectured at Carleton University.
The Chinese Embassy certainly saw him as a snag. Bourrie is a long-time member of the Parliament Hill Press Gallery, with a seat in the “Hotroom” located inside Parliament for journalists. Through him, Xinhua gained a physical presence inside Canada’s seat of power and the agency held a grand ribbon cutting to mark the occasion. Reporters chuckled when recalling the peculiar event held at the row of cubicles that included Bourrie’s desk.
He worked for Xinhua for around two years. Bourrie quit after he was asked to prepare a transcript of a press conference the Dalai Lama held with reporters in Ottawa last April. He was also asked to find out what the spiritual leader discussed in a private meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
After watching past reports on Chinese dissident activities on Parliament Hill disappear into the ether after he filed them, Bourrie knew it was likely to happen again. He asked his Xinhua bureau chief Dacheng Zhang what would be done with his work; he was told it was being sent to Beijing and wasn’t for publication.
That was the line for Bourrie. He gave his resignation and warned the Parliament Hill Press Gallery that Xinhua was engaged in espionage, using the special access granted to Parliament Hill accredited reporters—which includes off-the-record briefings—to collect info for the Chinese regime.
Covering Dissident Events
Bourrie is particularly concerned about how intelligence gathered on Chinese dissidents like Tibetan activists and Falun Gong adherents is being used.
“When they go to something like a two-day conference on Tibet and film everything and transcribe everything, that is not going to a special publication—that is going to Chinese intelligence,” he said.
Zhang, who is currently accompanying Harper on a trip to the Arctic, has denied Bourrie’s account. No one from Xinhua’s Ottawa office responded to calls from The Epoch Times.
On Parliament Hill, it’s become the norm to see Xinhua dispatch all of its freelancers and staff, namely a photographer, reporter, and videographer, to events like Tibetan protests or Parliamentary luncheons about dangers posed by the Chinese regime.
Bourrie refused requests from Xinhua to collect the names of all present at Falun Gong press conferences, but Lucy Zhou, a spokesperson for the group in Ottawa, said it isn’t unusual for other Xinhua staff, including Zhang, to collect names and take an unusual number of close-up pictures at protests.
“It is very threatening to the practitioners who are protesting,” she said.
“When practitioners go back to China they can be arrested right away because of this information that they collected. Sure we can say the freelance photographer was just doing their job, but because Xinhua was behind it, it was beyond the normal work journalists do,” she said.
Bourrie said he learned that when covering dissident events, he should focus on the local spokespeople who were already well-known to the regime and not risk the safety of others by including them in his reports.
Over time, he took delight in filing reports comprised largely of criticisms directed against the regime, devoid of the type of intelligence the regime was hoping to collect.
“It was covered, but they would get nothing out of it,” he said.
That never eased his conscience however, and his discomfort continued until the day he quit.
Now he hopes his fellow Parliament Hill reporters take the issue seriously and recognize Xinhua is compromising the integrity of the Parliament Hill Press Gallery and the special access its members have on Parliament Hill.
Bourrie said in some ways he is just as guilty as others who compromise their principles because of money or access that the regime grants. That access is critical to reporters for Canadian news agencies and academics whose work is based in China.
“I guess we are just going to keep doing this forever, until someone has an experience like me where you just can’t do it anymore,” he said.
An Ongoing Concern
With Chinese state news agencies expanding their presence around the world in an effort to increase the regime’s soft power, Bourrie knows he won’t be the last to raise concerns about Xinhua.
But anyone dealing with a Chinese news agency or government-owned company needs to be wary, he said.
“In the course of day-to-day things, that probably won’t matter much. But when China’s interests come up in any important way, the mask comes off and you see the repression,” he said.
He warned that the Canadian government should also be fully aware what it means to share the oil sands with Chinese state-owned companies like CNOOC, which has made a bid to take over Nexen.
Julie Carmichael, director of communications for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, said she couldn’t comment on matters of national security, but “the government takes allegations of espionage and foreign-influenced activities very seriously.”
“All credible threats are investigated by the appropriate authorities,” she said.
Xinhua’s espionage activities have been documented since the agency’s inception.
Chinese defector Chen Yonglin, who held a senior diplomatic post for the regime in Australia, told The Epoch Times last year that Xinhua reporters are still tasked with espionage duties.
“They play the role of a spy because Xinhua is actually an outreach organ of the CCP’s intelligence agencies. The nature of their work means they must use all means to infiltrate and obtain intelligence,” he said.
It’s a fact repeated in a 2005 report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which gained insight into Xinhua’s operations through former staff.
RSF detailed Xinhua’s lead role controlling information in China, exercising authority over censorship and propaganda directly under the control of the Propaganda Department.
“Xinhua is de facto run by the Propaganda Department. The agency gets its editorial line from this organ of the CCP and sticks to it slavishly,” reads the report.
Xinhua also publishes some reports in English that are not translated, to give the impression it covers sensitive topics challenging for the regime. Reporters say such reports are an international public relations exercise.
As for Bourrie, he is using his extra time to edit his latest book, a collection of Canadian war correspondence called Fighting Words that will be out in a couple of weeks.
The loss of his $50,000 a year income from Xinhua is a “kick in the teeth” he said, but he’ll get by. His wife has work, and he still has his freelance gigs.
“That’s life I guess. Lots of people have it worse than me. It’s not like I’m totally down on my luck.”
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