Tags: CCP, China, documentary, Falun Gong, film, human rights, Kilgour and Matas, labor camps, organ harvesting, persecution of dissidents, Society
“Davids and Goliath,” a film about organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners in China, won Best Documentary at the 9th Hamilton Film Festival in Hamilton, Canada. The movie is currently available here to view for free until Nov. 27: http://tinyurl.com/nzx7fed
“It’s a movie like this that needs to get out to the public, and more people to become aware of it that it’s happening and how it’s happening. That kind of thing needs to be stopped.”— Administrative director of the Hamilton Film Festival, Nathan Fleet.
“Davids and Goliath” focuses on the investigation into organ harvesting by Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas and former Canadian Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific) David Kilgour. Both were separately nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for their work on forced organ harvesting in China.
Read more: http://tinyurl.com/q5cjkzm
Tags: CCP, China, human rights, Society
By Lu Chen
A student member of Scholarism, an organization leading the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement protests in Hong Kong, was recently refused entry by customs officers in the city of Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong.
On Nov. 8. Scholarism posted on Facebook that the customs officers accused a middle school student of “participating activities violating state security” and refused his entry to Shenzhen on Nov. 7.
The student was a volunteer of Scholarism who’s not well-known and had not been interviewed by any media, the Scholarism statement says. The student’s trip to mainland China was simply for personal errands unrelated to politics.
Scholarism leader Joshua Wong expressed deep concern that members’ information has been leaked. He said the name list of Scholarism members has never been open to the public and few people in the organization have the list, the Facebook post says.
Wong indicated that the organization would be more concerned and cautious when taking on volunteers in the future.
Vice secretary of Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) Lester Shum expressed disappointment at the mainland authority’s action of banning a supporter of the pro-democracy Occupy Central, according to Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily.
Shum believes that the blocking of this Scholarism member’s trip to the mainland is related to the plan of pro-democracy activists to visit Beijing. The students plan on appealing to the central authorities for the Hong Kong people to have the right to nominate candidates for the chief executive.
According to a decision handed down at the end of August by the Standing Committee of the Chinese regime’s rubber stamp legislature, the nominees for the chief executive position will be chosen by a committee that Beijing effectively controls.
HKFS stated last week that it was planning on marching to Beijing jointly with Scholarism and the pro-democracy Civil Human Rights Front. HKFS requested Tung Chee-hwa, a former Hong Kong chief executive who’s currently a Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, to arrange a meeting with the central leadership.
Tung hasn’t given a clear answer, and has urged the students to end the protests and go back to their studies.
Shum told Apple Daily that HKFS’s plan of going to Beijing would not be influenced by mainland customs refusing entry to the Scholarism member, and once again urged Tung to arrange the meeting soon.
The human rights group Amnesty International reported on Nov. 7 that at least 76 mainland Chinese have been arrested for supporting the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. It urged the Chinese authorities to release mainland supporters immediately and unconditionally.
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Tags: Body & Mind, China, Food, health
(Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Ryan Woo)
A criminal gang in eastern China has sold almost 100 metric tons 110.23 tons of toxic tofu onto the local market, the latest in a string of scares that have thrown light on shady practices in the country’s food industry.
The gang added industrial bleaching agent rongalite to make dried tofu sticks brighter and chewier, the Shanghai Daily reported on Monday, citing official media in Shandong province. Rongalite is banned in food production as it can lead to cancer.
Gut-wrenching food scares erupt regularly in China and highlight the challenges firms face to control supply chains.
Tags: CCP, China, human rights, persecution of dissidents, Society
Jiang Zemin faction sought bloody end to the Umbrella Movement
By Lu Chen
Hong Kong media are reporting that one faction of the Chinese Communist Party CCP has attempted to manipulate recent events in order to produce a Tiananmen Square-like massacre in Hong Kong. The goal of the bloodshed would be to bring down Party leader Xi Jinping, according to the reports, which corroborate previous reporting by Epoch Times.
The recently released November edition of Hong Kong’s Frontline magazine cited a Beijing source with inside knowledge of the CCP’s affairs as saying Politburo Standing Committee member Zhang Dejiang wanted to turn the suppression of pro-democracy protesters by Hong Kong police on Sept. 28 into a second Tiananmen Square massacre. The Frontline article, which is not available online, was quoted by the U.S.-based, Chinese-language news website Aboluowang.
Zhang is the chair of the Standing Committee of the CCP’s rubber stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress, and holds the Party’s portfolio for Hong Kong and Macau affairs. Zhang is also a close ally of former CCP head Jiang Zemin.
According to the Beijing source, the faction loyal to Jiang Zemin believed that if a massacre in Hong Kong took place under the spotlight of the world’s media, it would spell the end of Xi Jinping’s rule.
As Epoch Times has previously reported, Jiang’s faction has sought to displace Xi since before he took office. Part of the Jiang faction’s strategy has been to create unrest in Hong Kong as a way of making trouble for Xi, as Epoch Times, relying on sources inside the Party, first reported on Dec. 3, 2012.
Again relying on sources inside the Party, Epoch Times reported in 2014 before the Occupy Central protests began that Jiang’s faction sought to incite bloodshed in Hong Kong as a way of unseating Xi.
After the Hong Kong police volleyed dozens of tear gas canisters at the protesters on the night of Sept. 28, Xi issued orders prohibiting a violent crackdown, Frontline reported.
The leaked order from Xi to the Hong Kong government says: “It’s absolutely not allowed to open fire. Wasn’t the lesson of June 4 deep enough? Whoever permits shooting steps down! Even tear gas wasn’t necessary. Let it be, if it was already done. If people are not scared away, just leave. The condition has deteriorated to this point, and it’s your job to figure out how to solve the problem. Overall, never allow bloodshed. Try to win public support. Hong Kong affairs must be negotiated with the Hong Kong people.”
Senior political commentator, column writer, and historian of the CCP Lin Baohua published an opinion article on Taiwan People News on Oct. 25 that argued that the central authorities didn’t want a bloody incident in Hong Kong.
“If Beijing didn’t stop [the violence], with [Hong Kong chief executive] Leung Chun-ying’s wolf nature, he would have long committed the slaughter.” Lin wrote.
Lin said the lack of firm action against Occupy Central reflects the division of opinions high in the CCP.
The October edition of Hong Kong’s Trend magazine gives a picture of Hong Kong that complements that provided by Frontline and Lin Baohua.
The magazine quotes some anonymous princelings—offspring of the founders of the CCP—as saying Zhang Dejiang was “as bad as a violent terrorist” and was “using Hong Kong to bring trouble to Xi.”
Xi, son of communist revolutionary and a political leader Xi Zhongxun, is considered as a representative of offsprings of China’s elites.
Many princelings consider Xi Jinping, the son of communist revolutionary Xi Zhongxun, as a representative for their group.
Trend magazine sketches some of the steps the Jiang faction took to help incite the pro-democracy protests.
Politburo Standing Committee member Liu Yunshan, an ally of Jiang Zemin, issued the White Paper on Hong Kong on June 10 that defined the concept of one country, two systems out of existence by ending any claim Hong Kong had to autonomy.
The decision by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Aug. 31 that denied meaningful universal suffrage to Hong Kong was issued by Zhang Dejiang.
Trend magazine reports that the White Paper and the decision on universal suffrage were meant by Jiang’s faction to arouse anger in Hongkongers.
In response to the White Paper, more than 500,000 took part in the July 1 march for democracy. The decision on universal suffrage triggered the student strike on Sept. 22, which evolved into full-blown protests on Sept. 27.
A commentary article in the November edition of Frontline magazine criticizes Zhang for being “insane” for insisting NPC’s decision on universal suffrage was unchallengeable.
During the meeting of Zhang with Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions on Sept. 16, Zhang stated that the NPC’s decision on Hong Kong’s election in 2017 was “the supreme legal authority.”
In making this claim, the Frontline commentary pointed out that Zhang was contradicting the Basic Law of Hong Kong, which requires the Legislative Council and the chief executive to approve changes to the means for electing the chief executive.
One week after Zhang’s statement, Xi Jinping spoke in a much softer tone in a Sept. 23 meeting with top Hong Kong business people.
Without mentioning the NPC decision on universal suffrage or the White Paper, Xi said: “The basic policy that the central government takes to Hong Kong hasn’t changed and won’t change. [The central government] will firmly hold onto one country, two systems and the Basic Law, supporting Hong Kong promoting the development of democracy and maintaining prosperity and stability.”
Xi’s statements on the Hong Kong issue were “sharp warnings to Zhang,” Frontline said.
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Tags: archaeology, China, Culture, Science, Society
By April Holloway
The Dongba symbols are an ancient system of pictographic glyphs created by the founder of the Bön religious tradition of Tibet and used by the Naxi people in southern China. Historical records show that this unique script was used as early as the 7th century, during the early Tang Dynasty, however, research conducted last year showed that its origins may date back as far as 7,000 years ago. Incredibly, the Dongba symbols continue to be used by the elders of the Naxi people, making it the only hieroglyphic language still used in the world today.
The Naxi people lived in the beautiful mountain province of Yunnan (“south of the clouds”) for thousands of years, where they developed their own rich and enduring culture. Today, most of the 270,000 Naxi people live in the county of Lijiang where they retain many of their ancient traditions.
Tags: CCP, China, human rights, Society
HONG KONG — The United Nations Human Rights Committee urged China on Thursday to allow elections in Hong Kong without restrictions on who can run as a candidate. The move appeared likely to draw strong criticism from Beijing, where officials decided in August to set strict guidelines for the 2017 election of the city’s next leader, prompting mass sit-in protests.
“Hong Kong China should take all necessary measures to implement universal and equal suffrage in conformity with the covenant, as a matter of priority for all future elections,” Cornelis Flinterman, a member of the rights panel from the Netherlands, said on Thursday, referring to an international agreement on political rights.
United Nations Calls on China to Allow Free Elections in Hong Kong
By Matthew Robertson
HONG KONG—A panel of United Nations experts on Thursday called on China to allow real universal suffrage in Hong Kong, the latest sign of international pressure and attention on the People’s Republic of China over its restrictions on Hong Kong’s political system, after tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters have occupied major roads in the financial center for nearly a month.
Chinese communist authorities say they have already provided Hong Kong with universal suffrage. But the definition provided by the panel of 18 UN experts, differs from China’s.
Konstantine Vardzelashvili, the chair of the UN review session, said that “universal suffrage … means both the right to be elected as well as the right to vote.”
“The main concerns of Committee members were focused on the right to stand for elections without unreasonable restrictions,” she said, in statements made at the conclusion of the panel.
The panel, part of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, monitors Hong Kong’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a bedrock standard of human rights around the world.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, has since 1997 been a special administrative region of the PRC under a “one country, two systems” model. For decades Hong Kong activists have fought for the right to vote and stand in elections freely. Most recently they have been thwarted by decisions in Beijing which force candidates for the chief executive, the top position in the city, through a political sieve. Chinese authorities say that the Hong Kong public will be presented with two or three candidates that have effectively been vetted for their loyalty to the regime. Hong Kong citizens worry that such individuals will have little incentive to represent the interests of Hong Kong citizens.
The remarks by the ICCPR review panel were a follow up to recommendations put forward in March 2013 for Hong Kong to allow genuine universal suffrage. Chinese authorities responded last week that it was already trying to “forge consensus within the community so as to realize the implementation of universal suffrage.” The version of “universal suffrage” proposed by the regime, however, was found unsatisfactory to the United Nations panel.
Tags: CCP, Children, China, confucius institute, Falun Gong, human rights, Society
By Omid Ghoreishi
Is it possible for Confucius Institutes, a Beijing-controlled educational program cited by Chinese officials as a tool to extend the regime’s “soft power,” to follow both Chinese law and the law of the hosting nation?
A clause in the agreement between the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and the headquarters of Confucius Institute (CI) obtained by Epoch Times through a request under Ontario’s Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act says that CI activities must be in accordance with the laws and regulations of both Canada and China. The school board, Canada’s largest, will vote on whether to terminate its partnership with the CI on Oct. 29.
Experience in at least one Canadian institution shows that this is impractical since in many cases the laws of the one-party totalitarian state contradict those of Canada’s parliamentary democracy, and so it may be that the Canadian law gets dispensed with.
“Canadian law is equality, non-discrimination,” explains David Matas, a Winnipeg-based human rights lawyer. China’s laws, on the other hand, institute “repression, discrimination, hostility,” toward any group the Chinese Communist Party chooses to target, including Falun Gong, Tibetans, Uyghurs, and democracy activists, among many others, Matas says.
In 2012/13, Matas took on a case involving a Confucius Institute instructor at McMaster University who, like other instructors hired in China to come to the university’s CI, had to sign a contract promising not to practice Falun Gong, a spiritual meditation system severely persecuted in China.
Sonia Zhao signed the contract out of fear that her refusal might reveal to Chinese officials that she in fact practices Falun Gong and as a result could face imprisonment like her mother, also a Falun Gong adherent.
“Initially [McMaster's] defence was that it is not their jurisdiction and they didn’t know about it,” Matas says.
“I argued to the contrary that it was their jurisdiction because it was happening in Ontario and they must have known about it because the Hanban (CI headquarters in China) hiring policy was published on its website in English.”
Epoch Times reported in 2011 that Hanban has a stipulation in English on its main website stating that teachers at CIs must have “no record of participation in Falun Gong.”
Epoch Times also reported earlier this year that the website of Hunan University, which has an agreement to supply instructors for the TDSB’s CI, states that teaching candidates “will be assessed to ensure they meet political ideology requirements.”
For its part, McMaster held discussions with CI headquarters to eliminate the discriminatory requirement for the instructors coming to Canada. However, Hanban wouldn’t back down.
Eventually, the university decided to end its CI program since the Beijing-run organization didn’t follow human rights values and principles that the university follows and “holds dear.”
“There wasn’t alignment between what was happening in the two countries,” says Andrea Farquhar, assistant vice president of public and government relations at McMaster.
“Although we tried to see if there could possibly be a solution, it turned out that there wasn’t, so we did give them notice in December of 2012 that we would be closing [the CI], and it closed in 2013.”
‘Political Arms’ of Beijing
McMaster isn’t the only institution to close its CI. The Canadian Association of University Teachers issued a statement late last year calling on all Canadian universities and colleges to cut ties with CIs, calling them “political arms of the Chinese government.” Shortly after, the University of Sherbrooke ended its CI program.
South of the Border, the American Association of University Professors echoed the statement of its Canadian counterpart and asked all American universities not to partner with CIs, saying hosting one enables CIs to “advance a state agenda in the recruitment and control of academic staff, in the choice of curriculum, and in the restriction of debate.”
Two prominent U.S. universities, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Chicago, decided to end their relationships with CIs in the last couple of months.
Intelligence agencies and experts, including former Canadian Security Intelligence Service senior manager Michel Juneau-Katsuya, have also indicated that CIs are involved in espionage activities for Beijing.
The TDSB’s CI partnership was originally championed by former chair Chris Bolton while the rest of the board was kept in the dark about the details of the agreement. Bolton resigned in June a few months before the end of his term amidst concerns raised by parents and many of the trustees about the partnership.
Earlier this month, a TDSB committee voted to terminate the board’s CI partnership. That decision will be voted on by the entire board during a general meeting on Oct. 29.
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Tags: CCP, China, human rights, Society
By Chen Pokong
1. Teens, Youth, and Middle-Aged People
Scholarism, the Hong Kong Federation of Students ,and the Troika of Occupy Central are the three major groups that uphold the Hong Kong Occupy Central Movement. They are composed of high school students, college students, and middle-aged intellectuals respectively.
The perfect combination of teens, youth, and the middle-aged represents the mainstream and future of Hong Kong. This combination disseminates an explicit message: Communism is unpopular in Hong Kong and the Communist Party has no future in Hong Kong.
Given these, there are two propositions that follow: Will Hong Kong’s youth live longer, or Beijing’s political patriarchs live longer? Will the universal values that Hong Kong people insist on live longer, or the one-party dictatorship that the Party leadership compound of Zhongnanhai adheres to live longer?
2. Illegality Against Illegality
Beijing accused the Hong Kong Occupy Central movement of being illegal. Nonetheless, civil disobedience is an illegal defiance meant to restore legality by means of illegality.
But one thing which is for sure is that the central government of the Beijing regime was illegal in the first place—it violated the “Basic law,” breached the “one country, two systems” formula, and broke the promises stipulated in the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
So, Hong Kong people simply followed suit. It is a kind of illegality against illegality, which is similar to the old Chinese saying, “to subdue the enemies by learning from their strong points.”
3. The Consequences of Violence
Throughout the Occupy Central With Love and Peace movement, the occupiers have always upheld pacifism and love for Hong Kong. They have never thrown a bottle or a paper ball. They even picked up the garbage on the ground and sorted it out.
Being unarmed, they held up their empty hands during their demonstrations. These kind of peaceful demonstrators are indeed few and far between. However, taking orders from the Beijing regime, the Hong Kong Government turned out to resort to a large amount of tear gas and pepper spray, trying to forcibly disperse the protesters as soon as possible.
This action in turn triggered another large-scale protest participated in by over 200,000 Hong Kong residents. The Occupy Central movement thus became occupying Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, which has long been a civilized territory, the chaos is in fact the consequence of the government’s violence.
4. Red Versus Black
To deal with the massive Occupy Central movement, it is reported that Beijing authorities finally came up with an alternative idea under the bottom line of “no compromise and no bloodshed.” That is, mobilizing the underworld to carry out sinister tricks by thugs to intimidate, harass, and attack Occupy Central protesters with violence.
The appearance of those masked men who forcibly demolished the barricades is no different from the terrorists in the Middle East, and their nature is equally evil. Under the evil forces’ incessant intimidation and vocal abuse, Chow Ting, a member of Scholarism quit the movement.
The (communist) red and the (triad) black have long belonged to the same family. No wonder the former Politburo member Bo Xilai failed after he advocated “singing red and fighting black”—his attempt in the megacity of Chongqing to revive a Maoist fervor for communism while pretending to fight organized crime. If something is self-contradictory, how can it not be doomed to collapse?
5. Black and White
Not only did those who are against Occupy Central movement lay siege to Occupy Central protesters, but they also participated in the forcible demolition of the barricades. We do not rule out the possibility that among those who are against the Occupy Central movement, there are some gangsters and some pro-communist residents.
In fact, the CCP’s special skill is to instigate struggles between groups. But people didn’t expect that it would still be applicable 65 years after it took power.
However, black and white are two distinct things. The anti-Occupy Central members’ joining the underworld side inadvertently proved the fact that those who associated with the underworld are in fact no different in nature from those in the underworld.
6. Hong Kong People Versus Chinese People
Some people from mainland China don’t understand the Hong Kong people’s fight for freedom, and even disdain or condemn them. They said, “Hong Kong people have been enjoying so much democracy and freedom, but they are still not satisfied. Hong Kong people are spoiled.”
This kind of mindset suggests that not only should people in mainland China not enjoy democracy and freedom, neither should the people in Hong Kong.
This situation is similar to the Chinese saying that caged birds ridicule the birds in the sky, while domesticated animals mock wildlife. The Zhongnanhai leadership should be secretly delighted that its birdcage policy and raising-pig philosophy have been so successful.
Growing up in different environments, the Hong Kong people’s concepts of democracy, universal values, and an independent personality differ tremendously from the Chinese mainlanders’ nationalism and slave personality—as much as if they were water versus fire.
7. The Scandal About the Chief Executive
Amid the heated Hong Kong democracy protests, a scandal about the Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying happened to come to light. He was accused of accepting approximately US$6.5 million in secret funds, without declaring them.
Who made this news public? The public doubted that it was the Beijing regime that leaked the news. In fact, between compromise and recourse to force, dismissing Leung Chun-ying might be a perfect intermediate solution, as it may be a step that avoids embarrassment for both sides.
Beijing can ask Leung to step down under the pretext of a corruption investigation and calm down the Hong Kong people’s anger. After winning the first-stage victory, Hong Kong people may calm down temporarily.
8. Color Revolution
Beijing refers to the Occupy Central movement as a “color revolution.” However, color revolution is not a negative term, but something positive.
All the color revolutions that occurred around the world were movements in which people overthrew authoritarian tyrants by taking to the streets or launching a great revolution, such as the “Velvet Revolution,” the “Tulip Revolution,” the “Orange Revolution,” “Jasmine Revolution,” and so on.
The Chinese regime’s defining the Hong Kong Occupy Central movement as a color revolution is tantamount to agreeing that Beijing is a dictator and a tyrant. In fact, Hong Kong Occupy Central movement is dubbed by the public as the “Umbrella Revolution.” Since the umbrella revolution is an anti-dictatorship revolution aiming to fight for freedom, it turns out to be one of the great color revolutions.
9. Foreign Forces
Beijing has said there are foreign forces behind Hong Kong people’s Occupy Central movement, and explicitly specified the U.S. government.
This accusation suggests that all the Chinese people, including the Hong Kong people, are all obedient subjects or citizens who are not supposed to criticize or protest against the Chinese regime. As long as there are Chinese people, Hong Kong people included, who criticize or protest against the regime, they must have been ordered by foreigners, or received money from foreigners to carry out the conspiracy plotted by foreigners.
In actuality, the Chinese regime has in this humiliated all the Chinese people: You are all slaves who were born a slave, and your IQ is lower than that of foreigners; if you were not ordered by foreigners to do so, how could you come up with the ideas of criticism, protest, and rebellion?
10. Ripple Effects
Hong Kong Occupy Central movement has attracted global attention. People around the world are aware that Hong Kong people do not agree with or accept the CCP’s rule.
Taiwan’s pro-independence campaign thus came up with campaign slogans reading “If you vote for the KMT, Taiwan would become Hong Kong,” “Taiwan people are worried “Today’s Hong Kong may be tomorrow’s Taiwan.”
Even Taiwan’s pro-China president Ma Ying-jeou had to stand up to make it clear that Taiwan will never accept the one country, two systems policy; and that he firmly supports the Hong Kong people’s fighting for genuine universal suffrage.
In addition, Ma also imitated Deng Xiaoping’s saying of “letting some people get rich first,” by calling on Beijing to “let some people get democracy first!”
Obviously, the Hong Kong Occupy Central movement is expanding its ripple effect.
Chen Pokong was a member of the 1989 student movement in China. After twice serving time in prison, Chen was exiled to the United States. He writes regularly on, and is the author of several books about, China and its politics.
Translation by Billy Shiyu
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Epoch Times.
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Tags: CCP, China, Hong Kong, human rights, Society
A photo captures the city’s imagination and helps it let go its anger
By Li Zhen
HONG KONG—On Sept. 29 the government withdrew the riot police, and at least 100 thousand students and adults continued gathering outside the central government offices in Admiralty, and in Causeway, Wan Chai, and Mong Kok. After a night of terror on Sept. 28, the mood in the city had shifted, a shift perhaps captured by an Epoch Times photograph that went viral.
On the night of Sept. 28, a young protester stood opposite the police outside the Central Government offices. Suddenly, and without provocation, the police discharged pepper spray.
The young man was preoccupied with filming, and the pepper spray went onto his face and in his eyes. He cried out in pain, “We are unarmed. How can you attack us like that?”
The policeman standing opposite the young man said, “I know, I know.” Then, while dressed in the face shield and gas mask that made him look like something other than a human being, the policeman took out his own water bottle and began rinsing the young man’s eyes.
At that moment, Epoch Times photographer Yu Gang snapped a photo.
The simple image has touched countless Hongkongers. They find the photo soothing in a time of trouble. It seems to encourage people to set aside their anger, and the positive feelings it engenders are circulating through the Internet and into society.
Within a few hours after the photo was uploaded to the Hong Kong Epoch Times Facebook page, over a million people saw the post in their news feed.
One netizen responding to the photo wrote, “Of course we understand they [the police] are just doing their jobs. We are not mad at them. We are mad at the authorities.”
Another wrote, “I used to be a policeman and understand they have to obey orders when on duty. Why only put the blame on frontline police? From my point of view, it’s the commissioner who should take the most responsibility. He should apologize and be dismissed from his position. Note that it is DIMISSED!”
“The police have gone too far, but the chief criminals are [Chief Executive] Leung Chun-ying and [Police Commissioner] Tsang Wai-hung. Should have them kneel and apologize to everybody,” wrote a netizen.
Another netizen wrote, “I heard the police kept saying ‘sorry’ to protesters while firing pepper spray.”
Some netizens also showed support and admiration for the reporters and photographers working at the front lines. “Without you guys, there won’t be any news. Thank you all for risking your lives to record everything from the beginning,” read one post.
The photographer Yu Gang said that while covering the protests he was caught in the tear gas and could hardly breathe. A few people helped him get out of that place, and one of them was a policeman. Yu remembered he saw the word “police” on one person through a translucent rain coat.
Peacefulness, Compassion, and Tolerance
After the police fired volleys of tear gas into the crowds on the night of the 28th, the authorities obviously realized the gravity of the situation and changed their tactics.
Condemnation for the police action immediately descended on Hong Kong from around the world, and statements of support for democracy in Hong Kong were forthcoming from the UN Secretary General, the White House, and Canada’s foreign ministry.
In Hong Kong, the indignation over the use of pepper spray and tear gas against unarmed students and protesters is citywide and extends through all parts of society.
Beneath the indignation, there is a mutual grief. Hongkongers have lost faith in the police, and a relationship built over a long period of time is now gone.
There are reports that the Hong Kong police are split on how to handle the demonstrators. Some are tormented at having targeted unarmed and compassionate young students, some of whom may be their relatives or people they know. After the night of tear gassing, some police announced their resignations on Facebook.
In the current situation, the police will have a hard time increasing the violence. Hong Kong is a special region. It is a small city with a population of about 7 million. Inhabitants here share the same Chinese traditions and also the colonial culture inherited from the United Kingdom. They mainly speak Cantonese and some English. They identify with one another.
The pro-democracy protesters have won over the whole city, even the entire world, with their peacefulness, compassion, and tolerance.
A Hongkonger wrote on Facebook that he has never seen such polite demonstrators. They have not damaged a single car or harmed any public facilities or anything at all. They did not attempt to fight back after being doused with pepper spray and being immersed in clouds of tear gas. They pick up their trash and clean up after themselves.
During their demonstrations, they sing and cry. They distribute food and water in an orderly way. Some students study at the site.
When the coordinator of the rally asked the protesters to leave after the police unleashed the tear gas on the 28th, none left. Instead, more people came to join. They are fighting for a better Hong Kong and displaying the true spirit of Hong Kong for the whole world to see.
As a Hongkonger wrote on the internet, “At this moment, I have to admit that I’m truly proud of you all, my fellow Hong Kong people!”
Translated by Michelle Tsun.
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Tags: Body & Mind, CCP, China, environmental issues, Food, GMO, health, Science, sustainable development
Despite health concerns authorities push GMO, without fully admitting what they are doing
By Zhang Hong
On Aug. 17 safety certificates for genetically modified GMO varieties of corn and rice were due to be renewed by China’s Ministry of Agriculture, but the deadline came and went with no action being taken.
The failure to act was apparently not an oversight. Huang Dafang, a researcher from the Biotechnology Research Institute and a member of China’s Biosafety Committee, told state-run Xinhua news agency on Sept. 4 that the central authorities have an attitude of “active research and careful promotion” of GMOs.
Because local authorities fear public opinion against GMOs, Huang said, there was “a very slow procedure in getting approval” and the Aug. 17 deadline was missed.
The failure to act in this case amounts to a de facto approval. The curious handling of these safety certificates fits a general pattern of the Chinese regime moving toward a broad adoption of GMO food without publicly acknowledging this is happening.
Although authorities have never approved the commercial distribution of GMO rice in China, the environmental group Greenpeace reported that GMO rice was found in 4 of 15 samples bought by activists in randomly chosen supermarkets in November 2013 in Wuhan, the capital of central China’s Hubei Province.
Last year, the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily reported that 27 countries in Europe have found GMO-contaminated rice among Chinese exports, including 46 shipments in 2010, and 19 shipments in the first 10 months in 2011. According to People’s Daily, although all of the shipments were returned and supposedly destroyed, they were actually sold on the domestic Chinese market.
On July 31, China News published an article headlined, “GMO Rice Grown in Hubei on a Large Scale, Growers Refuse to Eat It Themselves.”
According to the article, farmers who grow GMO rice sell all of it, refusing themselves to eat it. Instead, they grow a small amount of conventional rice for themselves and their families. As a result, GMO rice has taken over.
A rice farmer named Dong Kejiang told China News, “It is now difficult to find conventional rice seeds.”
Not Just Rice
The Economic Observer, a magazine in mainland China, reported in June 2011 that a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences said at a forum hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture that GMO crops such as corn and rice have been illegally grown in China for a long time.
GMO corn varieties were found all over the country including in the provinces of Sichuan, Hunan, Guizhou, Liaoning, and Jilin, according to the Economic Observer.
Much of the GMO food consumed in China is imported.
Professor Sun Wenguang from Shandong University Department of Economics told Epoch Times the Communist Party imports large quantities of GMO crops to alleviate food shortages, since GMO foods are relatively inexpensive. The Party intentionally conceals data such as the varieties of and lab results for GMO foods, according to Sun.
According to China-based Science Net, Li Guoxiang, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said China imports over 70 percent of its soybeans and more than 90 percent of its vegetable seeds, and most of them are genetically modified.
The extent to which the state is pushing GMO food can be seen in budgetary figures mentioned in a 2010 report.
China-based Science and Technology Daily quoted a member of the National People’s Congress who is also a director of a research institute for rice as saying that the central government had approved 30 billion yuan (US$4.9 billion) for the research and development of GMO crops, but only 180 million yuan (US$29 million) for non-GMO crops.
The state’s official data doesn’t reveal the extent of the use of GMO in China.
According to the data published by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2013, China has issued GMO Safety Certificates for eight domestically developed, genetically modified crops, including varieties of tomato, cotton, petunia, sweet pepper, chili pepper, papaya, rice, and corn.
However, according to the Plant Genetic Engineering Center in Hebei Province, a government-funded research center, the Ministry of Agriculture has in fact issued as many as 1,110 certificates since 1996.
This plunge into GMOs may have presented Chinese society with a fait accompli.
“GMO has entered so many areas of society, it’s almost impossible to ban it now,” said Li Guoxiang.
The GMO rice whose safety certificate expired on Aug. 17 is named Bt Shanyou 63. It has a protein called Bt added to it, which helps the rice resist pests.
Dr. Wang Yuedan of the Department of Medicine at Beijing University noted that Bt is a type of bacterial protein that kills insects and bugs by dissolving and “melting” their intestines.
“The Bt protein is not a natural component of rice,” Wang said. “It is a bacterial protein. There have not been sufficient laboratory tests on the safety of this variety of rice.”
“We do not yet know what possible effects eating this variety of rice will have on human physiology, especially when this bacterial protein is absorbed into the blood stream,” Wang said. “This bacterial protein, when fully integrated into the human body, may cause allergies and may weaken the immune system.”
After Wang injected his lab rats with the Bt protein four times over a four-month period, he found their immune systems became abnormal, their spleens atrophied, and their white blood cell counts changed. He said this shows the Bt protein seriously affects mammals.
Yuan Longping is an agricultural scientist and popularly known as China’s “father of hybrid rice.” He is also a critic of the Bt rice.
During the China Development Forum 2014 Yuan told Xinhua, “A number of transgenic, insect-resistant rice varieties contain a toxic protein. If insects die after ingesting it, what happens when humans eat it? We have to be especially careful.”
Fudan University life sciences professor Yang Jinshui recently told Shanghai Daily, “The bacteria genes in GMO rice cannot be completely metabolized and eliminated.” Yang is a member of the genetic research team at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
“Rice is the staple food of the Chinese,” Yang said. “If [GMO rice is] industrialized and commercialized on a large scale, there is no turning back in our country. So we have to be extremely careful.”
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Tags: CCP, China, Falun Gong, human rights, labor camps, persecution of dissidents, Society
By Carol Wickenkamp
Electric shock weapons, dart guns, stun shields, thumb cuffs, restraint chairs, and spiked batons are just some of the specialty weapons designed to inflict pain being exported by Chinese companies closely aligned with, or owned by the state, according to a new report by Amnesty International.
Some of the equipment discussed in the report, such as ordinary handcuffs and restraints, a limited number of controlled stun weapons, and certain blunt striking instruments, all have legitimate law enforcement purposes, the report says.
But many of the weapons are “intrinsically cruel, inhuman and degrading, and therefore should be prohibited” from manufacture in the first place, the report says.
There are currently no comprehensive international covenants governing the manufacture and export of police weapons, and part of Amnesty’s advocacy work following the report will be to begin establishing such a mechanism—with China perhaps serving as a negative example.
Read more: China Markets Tools of Torture
Tags: Body & Mind, China, Food, health, technology
By Lu Chen
In ancient China, as the myths goes, the Emperor would use silver chopsticks to eat his food—because they would turn black if the food they touched contained poison.
Modern China now has an app for that: Smart Chopsticks, which promise to detect contaminated water, “gutter oil,” and chemicals in foods.
The product aims to respond to Chinese peoples’ general wariness about what they eat in the face of constant scandals of fake meat, gutter oil—that is, the stuff produced by underground workshops that use leftover oils and animal fats collected from the gutters outside restaurants—and chemical-laced rice and baby formulas.
Like the newest smartphone, the product was unveiled at a tech presentation held by Robin Li, the chairman and chief executive officer of Baidu Inc., China’s largest search engine. The chopsticks connect to a phone app using Bluetooth.
“Bringing Chinese people healthy living,” the slogan said at the Baidu Technology Innovation Conference in Beijing on Sept. 3.
“They can detect gutter oil,” Li said, to audience applause.
The device has three basic functions: it can analyze the quality of oil it touches and grade it superior, good, or bad. It can identify the pH levels, a measure of acidity or alkalinity, of liquids. Finally, it is supposed to be able to analyze the level of sweetness and even origin of fruits.
Data collected by the chopsticks is then beamed to the phone app, which analyzes the information and sends a conclusion to the chopsticks. An LED on the devices then lights up: blue means good quality, red means stay away.
Baidu released a video of the Smart Chopsticks on April Fool’s Day this year. The video went viral online, but was taken as a prank.
“But now we have the product made,” Robin Li said. Baidu hasn’t given a timeline for when it will be put on the market.
Reaction online was a mixture of excitement at the product and disappointment that such a product was necessary. “If the safety of our food is guaranteed, would we need something like these chopsticks??” wrote cheer_liu.
Food safety has become a major social issue in China in recent years. The regime on Wednesday announced prison sentences for up to eight years of 39 people in 17 food safety cases. They were guilty of adding chemical contaminants, like industrial salt, during the processing of meat, seafood, vegetables, and even medications. The court says one group produced and sold three tons of contaminated bean sprouts per day.
In 2013, police in the coastal city of Wenzhou uncovered 10 underground mills that used massive amounts of chemical additives and coloring agents to clean out-of-date meat and sell it to the public. The Ministry of Public Security in 2013 released a warning to consumers in Shanghai that recent lamb products may have been either rat, fox, or mink meat.
One of China’s biggest dairy companies, the Sanlu Group, was found to have produced baby formula containing melamine, a deadly chemical, in 2008. The poisoning led to the deaths of six babies and illnesses of over 300,000.
“There’s no food for us to eat,” wrote Internet user KathieCANke on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. “Everything’s poisoned.”
Tags: CCP, China, Hong Kong, human rights lawyers, Society
By Li Zhen
HONG KONG—For decades Hong Kong democrats have dreamed of universal suffrage. On Aug. 31, the Chinese communist regime officially shut the door on this possibility for the next election, infuriating Hong Kongers and moving them to action.
Since Britain agreed to return Hong Kong to China in 1984, democracy supporters in the city-state have hoped to someday elect their chief executive and Legislative Council members by true universal suffrage without control by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The CCP has repeatedly postponed its promise of true universal suffrage. Their most recent decision is that Hong Kong can have universal suffrage as long as a Beijing-controlled nominating committee selects the chief executive candidates and Beijing gets the final say in the election.
As a result, many Hong Kongers feel that they have been deceived for 30 years.
One Lie Too Many
Alex Chow Yong-kang, Secretary General of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, broke into tears during a rally on the evening of Aug. 31.
“We were all saddened at how much the efforts of young men have been wasted for the past 30 years, going around in circles on the issue of democratic development,” Chow said. “After this battle, the majority who support democracy, including the moderates, have been pushed into a dead end by the CCP.”
“Who would still hold out hope of negotiating with the Communist Party? Who would still believe in the lie of ‘one country, two systems’ and the high degree of autonomy?”
Chow was referring to the CCP’s promise in 1984 that Hong Kong would have a high degree of independence from mainland China, with the principle of “one country, two systems.”
Chow told Epoch Times that in the future Hong Kongers will fight for their autonomy, including launching student strikes, instead of trusting the CCP.
Nearly 800 thousand Hong Kong people voted for democracy in June during an informal civil referendum held by Occupy Central with Love and Peace, a nonviolent movement for universal suffrage. With their hopes of democracy dashed, Hong Kong citizens are rallying together to oppose the CCP.
“This is not the darkest day in Hong Kong, but the beginning day of Hong Kongers’ awakening,” said Occupy Central co-organizer Chan Kin-man.
Chan has participated in politics for years as a moderate scholar, attempting to negotiate with the CCP to carry forward Hong Kong’s democratic development. He supported Hong Kong’s political reforms in 2005 and 2010.
Now Chan is deeply upset with the decision by the CCP’s National People’s Congress (NPC) to deny true universal suffrage. He said the decision shows that the CCP would never grant any real power to Hong Kong.
Chan said that in the early 1980s some students from the University of Hong Kong were concerned with Hong Kong’s future after the handover, so they demanded democracy.
“[Former Chinese premier] Zhao Ziyang wrote a letter to the students and promised there would be universal suffrage in Hong Kong’s future. But to this day, you can tell that the universal suffrage is in fact a fully manipulated election,” Chan said.
After the handover in 1997, Hong Kongers continued to put their hopes in Beijing for universal suffrage. Chan said that they knew it wouldn’t be granted in the first ten years after the handover, so they pinned their hopes on 2007. In 2004, however, the NPC vetoed the plan of universal suffrage for 2007.
Later the hope was to achieve universal suffrage in 2012, but the CCP delayed it again. Chan said that the moderates and the democrats, including the Democratic Party, all feel like they have been deceived.
“When we accepted the time frame, we thought 2017 was the finishing point. But now 2017 is just a starting point, and democratic development is to be carried forward slowly, step by step [according to the CCP],” Chan said.
However, Chan sees hope in the darkness.
“We are willing to protect our way of life with the power of the people, which is a gratifying thing,” he said. “We hope that society will not develop a pessimistic mood just because the political reform has encountered a dead end. I hope we all stay in this place to protect our homeland, making this the beginning of a new chapter.”
Cheng Yu-shek, convener of the Alliance for True Democracy, thinks the CCP has deceived Hong Kong in two major aspects in the past 30 years. The first is the promise of a high degree of autonomy.
“Now some Beijing officials have said Beijing must take control over Hong Kong. This is a dramatic change,” Cheng said.
The second deception is the promise to achieve democracy in Hong Kong step by step. The NPC’s recent decision is a regression, Cheng said.
“How is ‘step-by-step’ reflected in this? They often say that Hong Kong will have democracy when conditions are ripe, but how to tell when the conditions are ripe?” Cheng said. “Therefore, we can see clearly that the Party will hold on to the power over Hong Kong, and it will certainly not allow genuine democracy in Hong Kong.”
Cheng places his hope in long-term and persistent fighting, and never giving up.
“We shall safeguard our core values, lifestyle, and dignity,” he said. “We refuse to let Hong Kong become another mainland city.”
Taiwan political critic Lin Baohua held a press conference in Taiwan echoing Hong Kong’s democratic campaign. He said the NPC’s decision has shown that the CCP no longer needs to make Hong Kong an example of “one country two systems” to show to Taiwan.
Lin said the CCP is deceptive by nature, putting on a show for the public and letting them have fantasies. Before the NPC meeting, both Beijing officials and Hong Kong CCP supporter Lau Siu-kai said that NPC’s decision wasn’t final, and there was still room for discussion.
“However, this [political reform] draft was a step backward,” Lin said.
According to Lin, the previous rule “allows one to become a chief executive candidate with just one-eighth of all nominating committee votes, but now at least a 50 percent nomination is required.”
‘CCP Must Be Overthrown’
Lin added that only by disintegrating the CCP will Hong Kong have democracy.
“The CCP must be overthrown,” he said. “The CCP itself is opposing democracy, and it’s impossible to let Hong Kong develop democracy.”
“If it did, Guangzhou, Beijing, and Shanghai would all want democracy, and then what? So it’s impossible to grant democracy to HK,” Lin said.
Senior political commentator Lin Yuet-tsang wrote in his column in the Hong Kong Economic Journal that political circumstances have entered a sharp downturn. He said the CCP has shown its true nature, shocking many moderates, centrists, and those who are not usually concerned with political affairs.
Lin Yuet-tsang said he never believed Hong Kong could obtain democracy from the CCP’s hands. He added that he has been fighting for three decades, and it is important to spread democratic awareness.
Epoch Times columnist Xia Xiaoqiang said Hong Kong’s democratic system has demonstrated the universal values of freedom and human rights to the mainland Chinese people. This is what the CCP fears, Xia said.
Translated by Michelle Tsun. Written in English by Sally Appert.
Tags: CCP, China, Gao Zhisheng, human rights, human rights lawyers, persecution of dissidents, Society
By Matthew Robertson
Once dubbed the “conscience of China,” Gao Zhisheng spoke out powerfully for the persecuted and dispossessed. Now, after five years of abuse, the voice that challenged injustice is, for the moment at least, almost silenced.
Since Gao, a celebrated Chinese human rights lawyer, was released from custody last week, news about his condition has trickled out through his wife, Geng He, who lives in California with their two children.
Geng He has only been able to have a few brief conversations with her husband, but she has spoken extensively to her sister, who is with Gao in Urumqi. Chinese security officials live in their home and monitor them, while others are stationed outside.
Geng He described her conversations with Gao both on Twitter and in discussions with a family friend, Sherry Zhang, who visits and spends time with the family in the Bay Area, where they live. Geng He has declined interviews with the media, but publishes updates about Gao’s condition on Twitter.
A note from Aug. 12 is chilling in its depiction of Gao’s degraded faculties: “When I was speaking with Gao the phone cut off, so I called him back and asked: ‘What were we talking about?’ Gao said: ‘I don’t know.’ I asked: ‘How did the call get cut off?’ Gao said: ‘I don’t know.’ I said: ‘Look, do you understand what I’m saying or not? Can you not hear, or do you not understand?’”
At that point the phone passed to Geng He’s sister, who said: “He’s been locked in a dark cell by himself for five years, fed a steamed bun and a bowl of cabbage every day. You have to patiently help him learn to speak again,” according to Geng He’s account on Twitter.
Tianyu, Gao Zhisheng’s young son, was disappointed and confused after attempting to speak with his father on the telephone. He had been practicing Chinese in order to speak with his dad, but after getting off the phone simply said: “Dad can’t speak Chinese!” according to Sherry Zhang, who visited the family.
“He can barely talk—and only in very short sentences—most of the time he is unintelligible,” Zhang said in an email viewed by the Epoch Times. “Gao’s son was incredibly excited to speak to him on the phone, and was completely shocked that he barely understood his father, that his voice was monotone, and that he was only giving 2 or 3 word answers to questions and wasn’t initiating any of the discussion,” the email continued.
“Gao has been utterly destroyed,” said a recent statement from Freedom Now, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., which has followed Gao’s case for several years. “Guards were strictly instructed not to speak with him. He was not allowed any reading materials, television, or access to anyone or anything. … He has lost many teeth from malnutrition. It is believed he was also repeatedly physically tortured.”
Jared Genser, president of Freedom Now and a pro bono attorney for the Gao family, said in a telephone interview, “We hope the U.S. impresses on China the need to allow him to leave for medical treatment in the U.S. Without that help and support, Gao’s future physical and mental health is very much in question.”
Genser continued: “The only thing worse than Gao being killed was for him to be horrifically mentally and physically tortured. He’s a shell of his former self, and it’s devastating for Geng He and her family. She just wants to take care of him, and that’s what we’re hoping will happen. But the Chinese government doesn’t make anything easy there.”
Additional reporting by Ma Youzhi
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Tags: Body & Mind, CCP, China, environmental issues, health, Nature, Society, sustainable development
By Hong Jiang
China’s environment has been so thoroughly assaulted by urban and industrial development that pollution in air, water, and soil has reached alarming levels. “It’s on a scale and speed the world has never known,” according to Jennifer Turner, director of the China Environment Forum at the Woodrow Wilson Center. What do we know? What can be done?
Beijing’s air pollution reached a level so dramatically high in January 2013 that a new word, “airpocalypse,” was coined for it. The word has since been used to refer to the alarming air pollution in Beijing and other Chinese cities.
Beijing’s PM2.5 level reached beyond 500 in January 2013, with the high index recurring in 2014.
The smog-choked city experienced a visibility so low that it put schools and work at a halt.
World Health Organization (WHO) measures PM2.5, particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, as a health indicator, as it can penetrate the blood stream and enter the lungs, causing respiratory disease, lung cancer, and various other ailments. Safe exposure to PM2.5 is 10 micrograms per cubic meter annually, and 25 micrograms per cubic meter over a 24-hour period—called PM2.5 index 12 and 25, respectively.
A research report released by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences in February 2013 ranked Beijing as the second worst in living environment among 40 major cities in the world, according to the Daily Mail. The study considered Beijing “barely suitable” for living due to its severe air pollution.
Smog is especially severe in northern Chinese cities during the winter heating season when coal burning adds to air pollution. In October 2013, the northern city of Harbin had the record PM2.5 index of 1,000, with visibility reduced to less than 50 meters, according to data from China’s environmental protection agency.
China’s unbridled and coal-dependent development serves as the direct cause of air pollution. China consumes half of the coal in the world, used to fuel the world’s second-largest economy.
Air pollution has caused great harm to human health. Based on a “2010 Global Burden of Disease” study published in December 2013 in The Lancet, a British medical journal, air pollution led to 1.2 million premature deaths in China in 2010, which is about 40 percent of the global total.
Air pollution has reduced life expectancy by 5.5 years in Northern China, according to a study done by researchers from China, Israel, and the United States and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year.
China’s airpocalypse not only chokes the Chinese cities, but also affects other countries through long-range transport of air pollutants. About 40–60 percent of fine particulate pollution in Japan comes from China, said Hiroshi Tanimoto at Japan’s National Institute for Environmental Studies to New York Times. The effect on Korea is even greater. Pollutants have crossed the Pacific to affect the western part of the United States.
China’s airpocalypse goes hand in hand with China’s rank as the top emitter of greenhouse gases, aiding the driver of global climate change and the threat of global warming.
Water ‘Too Dangerous to Touch’
If air pollution is bad enough, water pollution is an even worse problem and more difficult to resolve, said a report by The Economist.
“There are large parts of the urban water supply which are not only too dangerous to drink—they are too dangerous to touch,” said John Parker, globalization editor at The Economist, in a video interview. “You cannot even wash in them.”
Data from the Chinese government in 2011 shows that over half of China’s large lakes and reservoirs were too contaminated for human use. Groundwater, which accounts for one-third of China’s water resources, suffers similar pollution. Of the more than 4,700 groundwater-quality testing stations, about 60 percent showed “relatively bad” or worse pollution level. Half of the rural population lacks safe drinking water.
Chemical, pharmaceutical, and power plants spew pollutants into waterways, creating dead zones where they flow. A notable example is central China’s Huai River, pronounced dead by Elizabeth Economy in her well-known 2004 book on China’s environment, “The River Runs Black.”
If China’s air pollution makes airpocalypse, water pollution has created incidents that attract international attention. In 2007, Lake Tai suffered from a heavy carpet of blue-green algae that is cancer-inducing, and its gruesome images have circulated on the Web. The 2006 incident of a chemical spill contaminated Songhua River in Northeast China, and the government cover-up was widely criticized. Many more incidents, however, go under reported.
Some incidents of water pollution can be sadly surreal. Urban waterways in the eastern city of Wenzhou were so polluted by chemicals that a lit cigarette set the water on fire, as reported in the Daily Mail earlier this year. This is not the first time a river was on fire, and other images of water pollution show water turning black or red or orange, or carpeted with algae or dead fish.
A report on chinadialogue indicates that in 2012 over half of China’s cities had water of “poor” or worse quality. Ma Jun, an environmentalist who heads a Beijing-based green NGO, told chinadialogue, “Tackling water pollution is as serious and worthy a challenge for the authority as combating air pollution … water pollution poses a bigger health threat to about 300 million people living in rural areas.”
Polluted Soil and Food
China Daily, an English-language newspaper published by the Chinese regime, ran an editorial stated, “Soil contaminated with heavy metals is eroding the foundation of the country’s food safety and becoming a looming public health hazard.”
Nearly one-fifth of China’s farmland is polluted, according to China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Land Resources. Chemicals such as cadmium, nickel, arsenic, lead, and mercury poison the soil, as they are dumped into waters used for irrigation.
Early this year, the Ministry of Environmental Protection admitted that there are 450 pollution-related “cancer villages” in China. Prior to that, soil pollution and its threat to health and food received limited media attention, and the Chinese government had kept data on soil pollution as a “state secret.”
The change was partly brought about by a recent scandal of cadmium in rice that set off a Hunan rice scare. According to the mainland business magazine Caijing, the city of Guangzhou inspected local restaurants and found excessive cadmium level in 44.4 percent of rice and rice products. Most of the rice came from Hunan Province.
According to Caixin’s New Century Magazine, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and other institutions had reported on cadmium pollution in 2009. They sampled 100 rice paddies near mines throughout Hunan Province, and found that 65 percent of the samples exceeded the cadmium safety limit. The contaminated rice had entered the local and national market.
WHO’s website states, “Cadmium exerts toxic effects on the kidney, the skeletal, and the respiratory systems.” The heavy metal is leached from mines and chemical factories in Hunan.
Also under the spotlight are Hunan’s new cancer villages, among which, Shuanqiao. China Youth reported that 26 people in Shuanqiao died of cadmium poisoning. Soil samples there showed cadmium content 300 times the permitted level, and 509 of its 2,888 villagers were tested positive for cadmium poisoning. The chemical came from the Xianghe Chemical Plant, whose pollution villagers have complained about since 2006. This example is just the tip of the iceberg of chemical poisoning in China.
Worrisome ‘War Against Pollution’
Facing catastrophic environmental pollution, the Chinese government has become alert. Prime Minister Li Keqiang announced early this year at the National People’s Congress, “We will declare war against pollution.” Li said, “Smog is affecting larger parts of China, and environmental pollution has become a major problem, which is nature’s red-light warning against the model of inefficient and blind development.”
The Chinese government has plans to clean up the environment. In September 2013, the government launched a $280 billion plan to clean up the air, and early this year, it announced an investment of $300 billion to tackle water pollution. Experts are uncertain, however, whether these investments will change the situation.
What is worrisome is the regime’s persistent attitude of a “war against nature,” that has rendered past investments in the environment limited in their effect. In Mao’s war against nature, draconian actions in agriculture destroyed the fabric of the rural ecosystem. Post-Mao pursuit of economic development has only trumped the past trend with unprecedented pollution in air, water, and soil from industrial and urban growth.
Experts on China believe the root of China’s environmental problems lies with the top-down control by the Communist Party, which has been trapped in corruption and a lack of political accountability and rule of law. Economic incentives for officials have continued to leave pollution unchecked. As some polluting factories are closed, others pop up.
“Environmental problems are one of the main outcomes of a one party-ruled, corrupted, non-humane government,” said Ahkok Wong, a university lecturer in Hong Kong, to the ROAR Magazine.
Environmental pollution has increasingly become a source of discontent and protest in China. In the 1990s, rural protests in China already included pollution-related land loss. Since the 2000s, large-scale protests expanded to cities where citizens reject polluting factories and plants. According to a Pew survey, environmental issues accounted for half of the protests in 2013 in China.
Short of fundamental changes in the political system, it is hard to foresee major environmental improvements.
As Mao obliterated traditional Chinese belief of harmony between human beings and heaven, and as the post-Mao communist regime continues to favor development over the environment, the moral foundation of the Chinese people has also been eroded, aiding corruption and disregard for others and the environment.
Without a rebuilding of a moral system, the Chinese environment will continue to suffer, along with the Chinese people.
Hong Jiang is associate professor and chair of the geography department at University of Hawaii at Manoa. She specializes in China’s environment and culture.
For more photos: China’s Environmental Catastrophe
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