China Reporters Face Further Muzzling

26 June, 2014 at 10:19 | Posted in censorship, China, human rights, IT and Media, persecution, Society | Leave a comment
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China Reporters Face Further Muzzling: photo 2

By Lu Chen
Epoch Times

Journalists in China have been banned from writing articles deemed “critical” about the government or even about companies without permission, according to a recent announcement from China’s propaganda authorities.

The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television—shortened to SAPPRFT—ian amalgam of the former State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT) and the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP)—published a notice last week laying down the new rule, while going over eight cases of journalists and news companies that have strayed.

“Journalists and news stations are prohibited from doing critical reporting without permission from their work units, and they are prohibited from creating websites, channels, special editions, and print editions to publish critical reporting without authorization,” the notice said.

Violators could have their licenses to practice journalism, or in the case of a publisher, its publishing license, revoked, the notice said.

Six of the eight cases highlighted by propaganda authorities allegedly involved journalists who had attempted to extort the targets of their stories.

Such activities indeed take place in the recesses of China’s repressed news industry—though analysts are more apt to blame the communist authorities for their overbearing restrictions on reporters, rather than the moral turpitude of journalists themselves.

In one of the cases, Zhou Xiang, a reporter at the state-run Maoming Evening News in Guangdong Province, was sentenced to two years and three months in prison in March.

Zhou was accused of bribery after he took 26,000 yuan ($4,173) from 13 companies and individuals, whom he apparently threatened to run negative reports about if they didn’t pay up.

Such reports would have included claims that they polluted the environment, neglected industrial accidents, or were involved in illegal housing projects. The truth status of the charges was not clear from the reports. Apart from Zhou’s jail time, he has been barred from practicing journalism for the rest of his life.

But whatever the abuses of journalists—real or fabricated—Chinese public opinion has not taken kindly to a blanket prohibition on “negative” coverage.

“Extortion is extortion, and critical reporting is critical reporting! How could extortion lead to a ban over the other?” said Chinese lawyer Chang Xiaokun, based in Shandong Province, on Weibo, a popular social media website in China.

“The constitution says citizens have the freedom of speech, which includes freedom to criticize. Aren’t journalists also citizens? If criticism is not allowed, the nation is finished!” wrote an outraged Song Zude, a well-known commentator of the entertainment industry, on his Weibo page.

Yang Bo, a regular Internet user, wrote: “Journalists often use Weibo to expose corruption without the permission of their companies. Now they don’t dare do that any more, and corrupt officials will sleep well.”

Chinese of a more pessimistic bent were not surprised by the announcement, because suppression of the media has never changed under Party rule. The notification simply announces the status quo, these commentators said.

Even before the new prohibition, many Chinese journalists have been punished for reporting negative news on a variety of social issues. Xiang Nanfu, for instance, who was based in Beijing and wrote for the overseas media Boxun, was arrested last month on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”

Party media agencies said that Xiang published “fake” news that “defamed China” and “deceived Chinese people,” while Boxun was labeled a “reactionary website.”

But much of what Boxun reported about included the violation of human rights of petitioners and other disenfranchised groups in China.

Other reporters have been punished for simply doing their jobs. Before the 25th anniversary of the June 4 Tiananmen Square massacre, Xin Jian, with the Japanese newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun, and Vivian Wu, a former Beijing-based reporter for the South China Morning Post, were detained after interviewing Pu Zhiqiang, a well-known human rights lawyer who is now also in custody and faces a potentially lengthy imprisonment.

via China Reporters Face Further Muzzling

Australia Seeks Release of Artist Held in China

4 June, 2014 at 09:01 | Posted in censorship, China, human rights, persecution, Society | Leave a comment



By

BEIJING—Australia said Tuesday it is trying to confirm reports that a Chinese-born Australian artist had been detained in Beijing ahead of the 25th anniversary of the military clampdown on the student protest centered around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, adding it would try to persuade China to release him if he is being held.

Guo Jian, a former protester in China’s 1989 pro-democracy movement, was taken away by Chinese authorities shortly after a profile of him appeared in the Financial Times newspaper in commemoration of the anniversary of the crackdown.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the Australian embassy in Beijing was attempting to confirm with Chinese authorities that the 52-year-old former soldier had been detained.

“As an Australian citizen, we’ll do what we can to release him if the case is he’s been detained,” she told Sky News television in the Australian capital, Canberra.

An Associated Press reporter talked to Guo as he was taken away from his home in suburban Beijing on Sunday night. Guo said he would be held by police until June 15.

It is the latest in a string of detentions of artists, lawyers, scholars and journalists ahead of the Tiananmen anniversary amid intense government efforts to deter coverage by foreign media of its remembrance.

Read more: Australia Seeks Release of Artist Held in China

Journalist Gives Forced Confession on Chinese State Television

10 May, 2014 at 10:46 | Posted in censorship, China, human rights, IT and Media, persecution, Society | Leave a comment

By Lu Chen
Epoch Times

Gao Yu, a well-known veteran Chinese journalist, who has been missing for half a month, was recently paraded onto China’s national state broadcaster and filmed sitting in a police station pleading guilt to crimes and asking for punishment from the state.

Gao is being accused of leaking state secrets to overseas media channels. The May 8 broadcast has concerned many observers, inside and outside China, with the methods taken by the authorities to stifle dissent.

Beijing police arrested the 70-year-old Gao on April 24, under the orders of a special task force established in Beijing after a “central confidential document” was published on an overseas website last August, according to the Party mouthpiece Xinhua.

Gao pleaded guilty to obtaining and passing on that secret document, an action she said she “deeply regrets” and for which she is “willing to accept legal punishment.” She was said to have obtained the document last June, typed it into her computer, and then emailed it overseas, the report said.

Gao was shown being led into a small, enclosed police room, wearing an orange prisoner vest where she made her confession. Her face was blurred out for some reason.

“I think what I did touched upon the law, and harmed the interests of the state,” she said, while nervously rubbing her hands together. “It was very wrong.” The police nod their heads sternly. “I sincerely accept the lesson and plead guilty,” she said.

No official reports have clarified what the leaked document was, but it bears a very close resemblance to the infamous “Document No. 9,” reported widely last year.

“Document No. 9,” published by the Hong Kong-based Ming Jing media group in August of last year, transmitted new ideological directives from the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Propaganda Department. It required Chinese universities to stay away from seven topics including universal values, press freedom, citizen rights, civil society, the Communist Party’s historical mistakes, judicial independence, and “the bourgeois elite.”

Observers of the Chinese political system saw the document, and the campaign that accompanied it, as historical regression.

No official reports have fully explained “Document No. 9,” but some local government websites appeared to discuss it in May of last year. Though the news items were later purged, a screenshot of a circular announcing that officials at the Rural Construction Committee of Chongqing City studied the document was preserved on the Internet.

Aside from the secretive nature of the document, political analysts see the arrest and punishment of Gao Yu as an open attack on the press in China. Bao Tong, a former policy adviser to the reformist Party leader Zhao Ziyang, ousted during the Tiananmen turmoil of 1989, said that there were a number of “bizarre things” about the accusations against Gao.

“If collecting and delivering information is guilty, why does journalism exist?” Bao Tong asked.

Gao has worked in the media industry in China since 1979, and has twice been sentenced to prison for her work. The first instance was on June 3, 1989, when she was arrested and detained for more than a year for her reporting on the student movement leading up to the massacre of June 3 and 4.

Then in October 1993, Gao was arrested again and sentenced six years in prison for “publishing state secrets.” In February 1999, she was given parole due to poor health. She has won a number of international journalism awards, including the Golden Pen of Freedom, Courage in Journalism Award from the International Women’s Media Foundation, the Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, and others.

Some of Gao’s work has brought intense controversy outside China. In a column for Deutsche Welle’s online Chinese edition in January of this year, Gao wrote that a secretive security task force inside the Communist Party in 2012 “sent materials to Bloomberg News about every standing committee member” except two. Bloomberg later that year published revelations, purporting to be based on publicly available documents, about the wealth of the Xi Jinping family.

The use of forced confessions aired on television was widely used during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, and many Chinese intellectuals have compared the treatment of Gao Yu and others to those days. The method is used by the Party both to humiliate the individual in question, and also to warn others from committing the same acts.

Others targeted in a similar manner include Charles Xue, a Chinese-American entrepreneur and angel investor, known by the screen name of Xue Manzi. While in detention last September he was forced to confess to visiting prostitutes. Xue had gained a reputation for his sharp speech criticizing the Communist Party, and for the millions of online followers he had amassed. He called for free speech and democracy in China.

Chen Yongzhou, a reporter at a newspaper in Guangzhou, was also hauled onto China Central Television to admit to taking bribes for reporting “fake news” about alleged corruption at the state-owned construction equipment manufacturing enterprise Zoomlion. Before Chen had gone to trial he had been made to confess to his crimes on national television, an ordering of events that lawyers in China took exception to.

via Journalist Gives Forced Confession on Chinese State Television

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Trial of Young ‘Rumor’ Monger Tries to Chill Internet in China

16 April, 2014 at 09:33 | Posted in censorship, China, human rights, IT and Media, persecution, Society | Leave a comment

By Lu Chen
Epoch Times

The first public trial in China that would use a unique interpretation of the law to criminalize “rumors” began Friday in Beijing. Microblogger Qin Zhihui was accused of using the Internet to spread rumors, and was indicted by the state prosecutor for “defamation” and “harming society.”

The case of 30-year-old Qin, known by the online moniker “Qin Huohuo,” came to public attention last August when he was put in criminal detention by Beijing police for posting what the authorities said was “untruthful information” on social media.

Plain old truthfulness may not be the ultimate priority of Chinese communist authorities in the matter, though: Observers said that the trial is primarily another sign of the authorities’ determination to rid the Internet of speech about official corruption and other social ills.

Though the Communist Party is currently waging a high-profile campaign against corruption, the focus of propaganda is always on individual officials. Allowing ordinary citizens to freely voice their opinions about the corruption of the entire system could quickly become problematic and inconvenient for the authorities.

“The authorities are actually abusing their power to reach the goal of purging and rectifying the Internet,” said Wen Yunchao, a Chinese media researcher based in the United States, and formerly a visiting scholar at Columbia University.

‘Eradicating’ Rumors

The arrest of Qin last year took place as the regime announced plans to “fundamentally eradicate Internet rumors,” signaling a crackdown on social media and a tightening of the space online in which Chinese can speak freely about society.

A rule announced then said that someone who posts “fake information” that is viewed over 5,000 times or reposted over 500 times could face criminal charges, depending on the social impact.

The public prosecutor in Qin’s case said that Qin had posted more than 3,000 online rumors that had attracted a lot of attention and negative remarks against the government, “which seriously harmed society.”

An example given was Qin’s comments on the Ministry of Railways (which was later disbanded because of corruption) on the topic of compensation to victims of a severe rear-end train collision that took place on July 23, 2011.

Qin wrote that the Chinese regime gave a large compensation of 200 million yuan ($32 million) to foreign passengers in the accident, which the authorities said is not true. More than 12,000 netizens reposted this information within an hour, many tacking on a few words of their own resentment toward authorities.

A number of Qin’s other posts alleged corruption of well-known public figures. He charged, for example, that Yang Lan, a wealthy media entrepreneur, faked donations, and that Guo Meimei, a young lady who became famous for posting photographs as she posed alongside expensive sports cars, had used money embezzled from the Chinese Red Cross. Qin was in both cases said to have used “fake information” to damage the reputations of the two women.

But neither Yang Lan nor Guo Meimei joined a lawsuit against Qin. Instead, the procuratorate directly indicted him for “defamation” and “harming society.”

Whether what he wrote is true or false, the regime’s manner of handling it gave the unmistakable impression that a campaign to squelch free speech was afoot.

Harming Society?

Chinese law says that “harming society” must consist of acts that are directly, rather than indirectly damaging, and that victims of defamation can only be natural persons, not governments.

“If Qin Huohuo lived in a democratic country, it’s obvious that he might face civil lawsuits, at the most, to give compensations and apologize,” Wen said. “But it would be impossible for a state judicial organization to prosecute someone like him.”

Confession

As in previous cases of prosecuting Internet users, Qin confessed his guilt. His apparent remorse and guilt was made a central focus on China Central Television and Xinhua, the state mouthpiece.

“It’s all my fault that I’m standing here today,” he said. “I hope my case can give others a warning not to do such stupid things as I’ve done,” he said in his court statement.

Qin also gave profuse thanks to society, the court, the police, lawyers, the media, his parents, and more. The compliant demeanor will likely serve to reduce his punishment. The sentence has not been handed down yet.

“Qin had no choice but to confess under such high pressure,” said Wen Yunchao. “The authorities also need Qin to have an attitude like that, to show the achievements of their Internet purge.”

Double Standards

Observers found it difficult not to draw an unwelcome contrast between Qin’s prosecution and the demonstrably false statements regularly made by the Chinese authorities themselves, none of which have yet been punished.

Internet user Yuyue Yunqi wrote: “Who’s going to put the Lanzhou government on trial for making rumors?” A recent news report showed that 20 times the regulated limit of Benzene, which causes cancer, has been found in the water in Lanzhou City, Gansu Province, after the local government announced that “the water meets state standards of safe drinking.”

Chinese authorities are known to conceal disease epidemics like bird flu, and play down the death tolls of natural or man-made disasters. No legal actions have been taken in those cases, netizens said.

Two widely forwarded complaints on the QQ microblog said: “The law only serves people with power,” and “The government can make rumors, but the people can’t.”

via Trial of Young ‘Rumor’ Monger Tries to Chill Internet in China

Fast-Spreading Bird Flu Causes Panic in China

13 February, 2014 at 09:45 | Posted in Body & Mind, censorship, China, health, Society | Leave a comment

By Li Xia and John Wang
Epoch Times

Several influenza viruses, including bird flu and swine flu, that have rapidly spread to eight Chinese provinces, including the two municipalities Beijing and Shanghai, are steadily gaining pace from day to day and causing national panic. At least 181 human cases of influenza viruses with 38 fatalities have been confirmed since January, according to data compiled from reports by local authorities.

As of Feb. 9, 179 cases of H7N9 bird flu have been reported with 37 fatalities, alongside one fatal case of H1N1 swine flu and one case of H10N8 bird flu. The 179 recorded cases in first 40 days of this year has surpassed China’s official total number of 146 cases of H7N9 in 2013, which included 45 fatalities.

H7N9 Spread

The first recognized case of H7N9 human infection emerged in east China last March. The virus re-emerged in October and has rapidly spread since January, primarily in southeast China. According to China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), on average, five to seven cases of H7N9 are reported daily, with numbers increasing.

Zhejiang Province has reported the most cases–77 cases with 12 deaths have been confirmed. Li Lanjuan, professor and chief physician at the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University School of Medicine predicts a large rise in infections this winter.

“The H7N9 flu virus is known to be more active in the winter. There will be an increasing number of cases in the coming months in Zhejiang, even bigger than the cases being reported,” Li was quoted by Zhejiang News Online.

According to the Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO), as of Jan. 28, the case fatality rate of all confirmed cases in 13 provinces and municipalities in east China, Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region of China), and Taipei CDC is 22 percent, but many cases are still hospitalized.

Panic

As the H7N9 death toll rises, there has been growing panic among the public.

“Everyone is now panicking over the bird flu,” said Shen Jianmin, a resident in Zhejiang. “Worried about a deadly influenza pandemic, people wear masks and don’t eat poultry or meat.”

Among the 37 confirmed fatalities is a 31-year-old surgeon from the Shanghai Pudong New Area People’s Hospital. His death from the bird flu was identified on Jan. 18, with the source of infection unknown.

Shanghai resident Ms. Li told Epoch Times: “Even the doctor as a patient couldn’t be treated successfully, to say nothing of ordinary people.”

Ms. Li was also doubtful about the accuracy of reported fatalities. “The government has definitely not reported the real death toll,” Li said. “Now all the major hospitals in Shanghai are full of patients with flu-like symptoms. We’re really scared of the spread of bird flu, even not daring to go to a hospital for treatment of minor illnesses,” she added.

A female doctor at the hospital where the surgeon died, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “Because the H7N9 virus is more transmissible and harder to detect than H5N1 bird flu, we doctors even fear the prospect of human-to-human transmission of this virus.”

Mr. Ye, a resident from Guangdong, the province with the second most cases–60 with 13 deaths have been recorded since August of last year, told Epoch Times: “Increased cases of the bird flu raise concerns about the potential of more widespread infections and transmission to humans. So live chicken sales are banned here and even restaurants have removed chicken dishes from their menus.”

Beijing resident Mr. Yuan told Epoch Times that people are scared at the mere mention of the bird flu. They don’t even dare to eat chicken and eggs, and try to stay home for fear of getting bird flu, he said.

Multiple cases of family cluster infections have also been reported, indicating human-to-human transmission. If the virus mutates into a form that can directly pass between humans, it could result in the disease spreading rapidly, causing global epidemics, according to Chen Taoan, former director of the Information Division of Shanxi’s CDC.

Virus Types

According to the U.S. CDC, there are three types of influenza viruses, classified A, B and C. Only influenza type A and B viruses that routinely spread in people are responsible for seasonal flu epidemics each year.

Type A influenza viruses are further divided into subtypes on the basis of two proteins on the surface of the virus, the hemaglutinin or “H” protein and the neuraminidase or “N” protein. There are 18 known H subtypes (H1 to H18) and 11 known N subtypes (N1 to N11), possibly generating 198 different combinations of these proteins such as H1N1 and H7N2.

According to the WHO and CDC, wild aquatic birds, in particular certain wild ducks, geese, and swans are the natural hosts for all known influenza A viruses. Type A influenza viruses infect a range of avian species and mammals like pigs and horses, whereas type B and C infections are largely restricted to humans.

They indicate that the majority of the currently identified subtypes of influenza A viruses are maintained in wild avian populations. Humans are generally infected by virus of the subtypes H1, H2 or H3, and N1 or N2. However, humans can also be infected with influenza viruses that are routinely circulating in animals, such as avian influenza virus subtypes H5N1 and H9N2 and swine influenza virus subtypes H1N1 and H3N2.

“Usually these human infections of zoonotic influenza are acquired through direct contact with infected animals or contaminated environments, and do not spread very far among humans. If such a virus acquired the capacity to spread easily among people either through adaptation or acquisition of certain genes from human viruses, it could start an epidemic or a pandemic,” the WHO said.

Unknown Source

H7N9 has been identified as one of the most lethal influenza viruses. “When we look at influenza viruses, this is an unusually dangerous virus for humans,” Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s assistant director-general for Health Security and Environment, said last April.

One of the biggest problems with H7N9 is that the source of human infections has not been identified yet. In their paper published on May 2013 in The Lancet, Chinese researchers revealed that the H7N9 virus, based on past experience and epidemiological investigation, might be carried by infected poultry, but about 40 percent of the patients have not been in contact with poultry. The finding implies that it’s harder to prevent further spreading of the infection.

Because the H7N9 virus does not appear to cause clinical symptoms in infected poultry, clear links between infections in poultry and human cases have been difficult to establish, according to the WHO.

The absence of illness symptoms in birds carrying the H7N9 virus also makes it impossible to detect whether birds are infected, showing experts few signs as to where the flu might spread, and making the virus extremely difficult to detect, according to a research paper published on January 2014 in Chinese Medical Journal cmj.org.

“It could be that the infected animals might not shed the virus for more than a few days, so it is a matter of chance if you test and find it. It might be that they are not sampling enough animal species, and they may have to take a look at the less common species of birds being sold in Chinese markets,” the paper quoted Ho Pak-leung, associate professor in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Hong Kong.

Deliberate Downplay

Many people have speculated about the official number of H7N9 cases reported by Chinese authorities.

According to the female doctor in Shanghai who spoke to Epoch Times on condition of anonymity, Chinese official data are used for maintaining social stability and to prevent panic among the public. Therefore, authorities will often withhold the true number of infected people from the public.

“The Shanghai Municipal Health Bureau has instructed us to ‘report what you ought, and do not report what you ought not,’ for this is a big thing, creating an international impact,” the doctor added.

Zhu Xinxin, a former editor at Hebei People’s Radio Station, told Epoch Times about the official Chinese media reports of the epidemic situation.

“Sporadic cases are currently being reported by different provinces and municipalities, without the total number of cases published by the state. This is a measure commonly employed by the Chinese communist regime. They tend to see the Chinese New Year as a big sales occasion that helps boost the gross domestic product (GDP).

“If they report the true scale of the epidemic, they fear this will cause widespread public alarm. Consequently, the national industrial production chains would be hard hit and domestic market sales would then slide downward to a large extent, causing weak economies being devastated. Then a major economic panic may sweep the nation with declining GDP.”

A female employee who answered the phone at China CDC said that since the second half of last year, the authorities have adopted a degrading tactic to tackle H7N9 in China; they use a monthly reporting system in line with state guidelines, instead of daily incident reports.

Asked about the actual fatality rate, the woman said: “January data will be released on Feb. 10. The true tally in January is much greater than that in those provinces. I can’t answer that, though.”

According to another employee at China CDC, there have been more human cases of H7N9 in Beijing, but the true number is not clear.

via Fast-Spreading Bird Flu Causes Panic in China » The Epoch Times

Blogger in China Mentions Organ Harvesting and Is Arrested

22 January, 2014 at 06:45 | Posted in censorship, China, human rights, IT and Media, organ harvesting, persecution, Society | Leave a comment



By Epoch Times

A blogger from Shanxi Province in north-central China was recently arrested for warning on Weibo a twitter-like platform popular in China that forced organ harvesting has been occurring in the area in which he lives.

Mr. Han, 41 years old, is from Wenshui County. He used his cellphone to blog the information of several cases of people being killed for their organs recently in Wenshui and Qingxu counties.

The information had been posted 253 times when he was apprehended. When police arrested Mr. Han, they claimed the blog could cause people to panic.

In September China’s top judicial authorities issued new regulations according to which someone may be jailed if a blog post is forwarded more than 500 times. The broadly worded regulations criminalize “rumor mongering” in the name of preventing harm “to the social order or the national interests.”

In 2006, independent investigators outside of China reported that prisoners of conscience detained in China, particularly adherents of the spiritual practice of Falun Gong, were in effect being used as a live organ bank. When someone needing an organ presented him or herself, the needed organs would be harvested from a detainee, killing him or her.

Discussion of forced organ harvesting has been censored in China, but in recent years on scattered occasions China’s state-run media have reported instances of gangs engaging in a black market organ trade independent of the detention system.

Chinese netizens have been discussing the arrest of Mr. Han at great length, pointing out that according to the new regulations a blog post needed to be forwarded more than 500 times before an arrest could be made.

“Sadly, I could post something insignificant in the morning, and be arrested in the afternoon. The content was about highlighting corruption,” a netizen said.

“Was it [Han’s post about organ harvesting] really spreading rumors?” another netizen said. “Did it really result in disrupting public order, such as suspension of classes or production? Did it cause chaos or an event involving large group of people? How could you tell that locals were unsettled by the panic? Were there really 200 people who said they got frightened by the news?”

And another netizen said: “Because of “spreading rumors,” regardless of how many times a blog is forwarded, maintaining social stability is considered of the utmost importance. How much fear would this arrest instill in the hearts of the netizens?”

Recently efforts to stop illegal organ harvesting have increased around the world. On Dec. 9 Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting presented a petition calling for an end to forced organ harvesting in China to the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights that was signed by nearly 1.5 million people in 53 countries.

On Dec. 12, the European Union passed a resolution condemning forced organ harvesting in China, and legislation to curb the practice has recently been introduced in Canada and Australia.

Translated by Frank Fang. Written in English by Christine Ford.

Read the original Chinese report.

via Blogger in China Mentions Organ Harvesting and Is Arrested – The Epoch Times

Beijing Pushes Mandarin, Punishing Ethnic Tongues

19 January, 2014 at 07:18 | Posted in censorship, China, human rights, persecution, Society | Leave a comment
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By Carol Wickenkamp, Epoch Times | January 12, 2014

Last week eight Tibetans were detained in the latest effort in Beijing’s battle against ethnic and local languages.

The Tibetans were linked to a grassroots effort to preserve their language and cultural identity, said Radio Free Asia. The practice of teaching the local language is considered illegal by authorities in both Tibet and Uhygur regions, where the Chinese regime seeks to eliminate ethnic languages, replacing them with Mandarin, China’s official language.

The Tibetans were detained in Karma township, where a popular Tibetan religious figure, Khenpo Kartse, was detained nearly a month ago, accused of carrying out anti-state activities including teaching the Tibetan language, sources told RFA.

In Tibet, the Chinese regime represses Tibetan culture by making the language redundant throughout society, says the Central Tibetan Administration. Pointing to the education system, which is controlled entirely by the Chinese Communist Party, the Administration argues that the system is entirely set up to suit the needs of Chinese immigrants rather than the Tibetan students.

In Xinjiang, similar language repression is enforced on the Uyghur population.

“Compounded by the near elimination of the Uyghur language in the education system and restrictions on cultural practices, the Uyghurs face losing their ethnic distinctiveness,” Rebiya Kadeer, president of the exile World Uyghur Congress, told a 2012 U.S. congressional hearing in Washington.

Even minor dialects are besieged. China’s State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television has instructed all media presenters be out in front in promoting Beijing’s Mandarin dialect, boosting the “soft power” of Chinese culture, reported state media Global Times.

Television and radio hosts were instructed to speak proper Mandarin and not to imitate dialects, the article said.

Fully a third of the Chinese population, or 400 million people, can’t speak Mandarin, Ministry of Education representative Xu Mei told state media Xinhua in a September 2013 article. Xu went on to say that the ministry would focus on promoting the use of Mandarin in the remote countryside and areas inhabited by ethnic minorities in the coming year.

via Beijing Pushes Mandarin, Punishing Ethnic Tongues » The Epoch Times

QR Codes Are Stamped on Money to Circumvent China’s Great Firewall

18 January, 2014 at 07:05 | Posted in censorship, China, Falun Dafa/Falun Gong, IT and Media, Society | Leave a comment


Chinese find unexpected key to bypassing censorship on bank notes

By Lu Chen
Epoch Times

When shopping for groceries in a supermarket in Wuhan the other day, Mrs. Wu received for her change four one yuan notes, each with symbols on them that she had never seen before.

Underneath a black and white square of pixellated dots—which had evidently been stamped onto the note—were the words: “Scan and download software to break the Internet firewall.”

Wu took the bank notes to the Wuhan Evening News, and the story then went national. Even the Communist Party’s mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, reposted the article on its website.

In comments responding to the news articles, and in remarks made on Sina Weibo, a popular microblogging platform in China, users wrote about how they had themselves encountered notes with the symbols, called QR codes, on them.

The Codes

QR codes can be scanned, like a barcode scanner in a supermarket, by mobile devices. They then automatically take the user to a website. In this case, it goes to a Google short link that redirects to an Amazon cloud link, where a software file may be downloaded.

QR codes are not unusual, nor are efforts to circumvent the Internet blockade, but Chinese Internet users were fascinated by the way the matter was appearing in media across China: it was an admission that there is an Internet firewall in China and that there are established ways to get around it.

Most curious of all, perhaps, was the identity of the individuals who likely stamped the QR codes onto the money. Though there is no way of definitively proving who is responsible in this case, putting messages on money is a tactic long used by practitioners of Falun Gong, a traditional spiritual practice that has been persecuted in mainland China since 1999.

A screenshot shows that Party mouthpiece People’s Daily republished the report about QR codes for circumventing the Internet firewall being found on bank notes. (Screenshot/People’s Daily/Epoch Times)

Meeting a Need

Anyone, in fact, can download the QR codes from the website dongtaiwang.com, which belongs to Dynamic Internet Technology, a company that produces the Freegate circumvention software.

Typically, a website that hosted anti-censorship software would itself be censored. But Bill Xia, the president of Dynamic Internet Technology, said in a telephone interview that there are ways to disguise the URL at the time that its scanned, so that users can still access a page from which they can download the software to their smartphones. If the Chinese authorities wanted to block these links, they would probably have to cut off access to Amazon Web Services, where the files are stored. Blocking Amazon in China could have serious business ramifications.

He said that it only works on Android and PC operating systems at this stage.

“We found this usage of the QR codes interesting,” Xia said. “We did get input from China, user feedback that we should provide QR codes so they can distribute them in China,” he said. “It’s interesting to see that it’s actually happening and see the news get publicized.”

The reports in China did not indicate that practitioners of Falun Gong may have been behind the effort to stamp the notes. The report identified the code as an “advertisement,” and warned readers “never to try scan it.”

But netizens seemed unswayed. Many left their sentiments in the comments sections of popular websites. “I often see Falun Dafa words [printed on money],” said netizen yubos1. Another remarked: “Whoever has seen one yuan bills with words stamped on it will understand what the code is about.”

Another user, woaixuneng520, wrote: “I tried to scan it. Oh my! I can finally watch YouTube.”

Some were disappointed with the blurry photographs that the newspapers published of the bank notes with the codes on them. “Can’t the reporter take a clearer picture? I scanned my screen for so long,” one user said.

“It’s so useful,” wrote Qingwenwoding. “Only when you break through the firewall can you see China clearly.”

Those Who Stamp

Soon after the persecution of Falun Gong started in 1999, practitioners of the discipline began using a variety of nonviolent ways to inform the Chinese people about it. The regime has attempted to shut down independent information about both the practice and the persecution, while also spreading anti-Falun Gong propaganda to justify their actions. The use of QR codes on banknotes—or posted onto telephone poles on the street—is the latest development in this strategy.

Hu Ping, the chief editor of Beijing Spring, a pro-democracy magazine, said in a telephone interview: “We all know that Falun Gong has contributed a lot in developing circumvention software, which has helped break the Internet blockade. The recent reports, especially in official media, will obviously expand the profile of Falun Gong in China.”

Hu added that, given that the persecution of the practice was highly contentious even inside the Communist Party, and was one of the pet projects of the political foes of current leader Xi Jinping, the appearance of these news articles may be a kind of warning to that faction—which includes the recently troubled security czar Zhou Yongkang and former regime leader Jiang Zemin—not to attempt a political comeback.

via QR Codes Are Stamped on Money to Circumvent China’s Great Firewall » The Epoch Times

Why the Chinese Regime Wants to Kick Out Western Journalists Now

11 December, 2013 at 07:17 | Posted in censorship, China, IT and Media, Society | Leave a comment

By Diana Zhang
Epoch Times

It has been widely reported that American reporters in China are having problems getting their residency visas renewed and might soon be forced to leave the country. As more consumers of news pay more attention to China, China news has higher value.

Last year, the New York Times published an article about the wealth of then-Premier Wen Jiabao’s family. The Times article won a Pulitzer Prize. Seemingly a victory of sorts for Western media in China, the article actually serves as tangible evidence of political maneuvering inside China. It also serves as a cautionary tale for how a prominent media company can be oblivious to how it was used as a tool by a political force.

The United States has developed more ties of all kinds with China. Much of what Americans buy is made in China, and China is the single-largest holder of U.S. debt (other than the U.S. Treasury). What is happening in China matters a great deal to Americans.

Media in free nations is supposed to help us understand what is happening around the world. But China is a tough nut to crack. Even Westerners who have lived there for a long time may not understand what is happening there.

In response to the threats to kick out Western journalists, Western journalists have begun talking about the rights of the press. They are saying that China should respect the rights of the world’s press or, at least, China should give the same number of spots to American journalists as the United States does to Chinese journalists.

In talking about their rights, the journalists are approaching this China problem from a Western perspective. They can’t see the real reasons that China wants to kick U.S. reporters out now, at this particular moment in history.

Politics Not as Usual

Since Xi Jinping has become paramount leader, he has been like a captain trying to direct a giant ship—some people call it the “Titanic”—in a big storm. He has been trying hard to keep it from sinking. Any extra push from any direction could be fatal.

This year, Xi started an anti-corruption campaign. In the last 10 years, any such campaign has been a war for power that is disguised under the name of anti-corruption. Under former Chinese Communist Party (CCP) head Jiang Zemin’s rule, the CCP encouraged corruption. The system is set up so that no government can get anything done without corruption.

With this system, Jiang Zemin could do whatever he wanted to people. All levels of government officials were so corrupt that no one wanted any change that would wipe out their opportunity to get rich.

In the trial of disgraced former Politburo member Bo Xilai earlier this year, one can see how corruption charges are used. He was charged with corruption big enough to send him to jail, but small enough not to cause the Chinese people to feel strong resentment toward the CCP. The corruption charges were just a tool in the war for power.

Any Western journalists who participate in exposing corruption of high-level officials are unwitting participants in a high-stakes power struggle. And in doing so they are shooting in the dark.

The corruption information is so complex and hidden. It is not something a Western journalist can easily dig out, let alone understand. When a journalist does happen to get some information, it is not clear whether or not the information is a complete setup.

Orchestrated Timing

Last year, Bloomberg published an article on the wealth of Xi Jinping’s family. The New York Times article on Wen’s family wealth (mentioned above) was published at the exact time that Wen Jiabao and then-CCP head Hu Jintao were taking down Bo Xilai. Unfortunately, these two articles resulted from falling into traps set up by Zhou Yongkang’s camp, and the information was certainly fabricated.

Bo Xilai was allied with domestic security czar Zhou Yongkang. Through Zhou’s control of the Political and Legal Affairs Committee, they had power over all of the legal system, the public security system, and prisons and labor camps. They had built strong relations with leading websites inside China, and had also built relationships with media in the West.

Zhou and Bo had a complete plan to take the top power in China. They had long planned to defame Wen Jiabao, and to defame Xi Jinping, and their fabrications were well-prepared.

The New York Times article was published at exactly the time Zhou Yongkang wanted it, in exactly the way Zhou Yongkang wanted it. When Zhou was threatened by Bo’s arrest, the Times article caused trouble for Wen Jiabao and for the Hu Jintao–Wen Jiabao–Xi Jinping camp.

In China, media has always been a weapon controlled by top CCP officials. Zhou and Bo had systematically controlled the media, including the Internet. Google losing out to Baidu is part of the game, because Baidu is easier for them to manipulate.

The Bloomberg article on Xi and the NY Times article on Wen both had direct effects on the struggle for power at the top.

The Bloomberg article on Xi and the New York Times article on Wen both had direct effects on the struggle for power at the top.

The Western media should talk about their rights. They should demand the Chinese regime respect the press and they should report as aggressively as they can inside China. At the same time, Western journalists should learn how not to be used as instruments in China’s internal power struggles.

In general, when Western journalists talk to Chinese people in China and gather highly sensitive information, such as the wealth of the CCP’s leading families, it is highly possible their encounters and conversations were carefully set up.

The CCP is in a very fragile situation. Xi Jinping understands that. And he is trying hard to keep the “Titanic” afloat. If any additional compartment gets broken, the CCP ship will sink right away. He will have no difficulty in tossing the rights of Western press overboard if he thinks that will help the ship stay afloat a little longer.

No one’s rights in China are respected, and the Western media shouldn’t be surprised that, if they meddle in the struggle for power—whether intentionally or inadvertently, they will get tossed out.

via Why the Chinese Regime Wants to Kick Out Western Journalists Now » The Epoch Times

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Award-Winning Hong Kong Journalist Tells Why Beijing Refused Visa

1 December, 2013 at 09:52 | Posted in censorship, China, human rights, IT and Media, persecution, Society | Leave a comment

Paul Mooney says things in China are going to get much, much worse

By Ma Youzhi, Epoch Times and Katy Mantyk
Epoch Times

Paul Mooney is one of those genuine journalists of the old-school—he focuses on people, the stories they need to know, and the stories they have to tell. After covering China for 18 years and having won multiple awards for his work, he has been refused a visa to return as a reporter for Reuters.

Sitting down with the Epoch Times in Berkeley, California, Mooney opened up on why the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) Ministry of Foreign Affairs won’t let him into China. He also told some stories he reported on that will break your heart, the kind of stories the CCP doesn’t want people to hear. His gift for telling those stories is why he was not allowed back in the country.

“I focus a lot on human rights and social justice. I reported on Tibet, Xinjiang, and these are sensitive topics in China. I’m sure the government wasn’t happy with the reporting I did.”

He says it’s not so bad for him, though. The real heroes are the Chinese reporters. “I have a great amount of respect for the Chinese journalists trying to do those stories (blocked by the CCP). There’s a great risk for them, they’ll lose their jobs, and some have even gone to jail. I have no hope in the CCP, but I do in those reporters.”

Chinese Embassy Warns Him

The Chinese regime over the last year has tightened its already firm grip on media, and many foreign journalists like Mooney are getting squeezed out. The Reporters Without Borders’ latest analysis map of world freedom of the press has China labeled totally black.

During the eight-month wait to get his visa, Mooney was summoned to the Chinese Embassy in San Francisco for his interview. He was asked about his views on Tibet, the Dalai Lama, and high profile human rights lawyers. He answered frankly that he didn’t think they were a threat to China. His interviewer warned him that if he wanted the visa he would have to report more “objectively.” “It was obviously a threat,” Mooney said.

Pro-China, Anti-China

“As a journalist I was always objective, I never injected my own opinion in any of those stories. I reported the same way in China as I would have in the U.S. That’s something the Chinese government doesn’t understand. They say that the Western media has it in for China. But that’s not true.”

One issue Mooney has to face as a reporter on China is the accusations that he is anti-China. He hears the CCP say it, but also hears the notion coming from Westerners, too.

“I think they thought I was anti-China. But I am actually very pro-China. The people that I interviewed, they never once called me anti-China. If the communist party doesn’t like the truth, that’s their problem.

“I felt like I was giving a voice to the people who had none, and I’ve even stayed in touch with many of the people I reported on. I’ve helped people get medicine from the U.S., and people get doctors who need surgery. I stay in touch on Skype. These people know there’s no hope for them also, but the fact that somebody cares means a lot to them.”

A report in Business Insider pointed out that it was after the 2008 Beijing Olympics that the CCP quit being so accommodating to foreign journalists. With the pressure off to appease the rest of the world, Mooney said he’s never seen so many foreign reporters waiting for visas.

“If you look at the reporting from South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, from Indonesia, Malaysia, from Latin America, they all report the same problems. The Chinese [propaganda] succeeds by saying America is out to stop China, but really the U.S. government and U.S. citizens do so much for Chinese people,” Mooney said.

“Countless NGO’s go into China. And for the Chinese students we have open schools and campuses in the U.S. If the U.S. really wanted to keep China down they wouldn’t do these things. But you don’t see those things reported in the People’s Daily or China Daily, we always hear that America’s out to stop them, that kind of slant.”

Pressure Needed

Mooney doesn’t think the situation for journalists will improve in China without reciprocal pressure from foreign countries. The United States should take the same restrictive approach to giving Chinese reporters visas.

“I’d like the American government to say, OK, if you’re not approving visas for American journalists, we are going to stop approving visas for Chinese journalists. China has more that 700 correspondents in the United States. We don’t delay their visas; we don’t refuse them in most cases. We don’t harass or follow them, or have the police intimidate them, and we don’t beat them up.”

“Chinese correspondents have free rein in the U.S., and some of them are even spies. I guarantee that if we start denying visas, within two weeks they’ll start granting visas for American journalists again, but right now there are no repercussions for them.”

Mooney explained that the rest of the world is afraid to put pressure on China in case they lose business and trade opportunities, but what they don’t realize is that China needs the rest of the world just as badly, and so pressure will work.

Reporting Injustice is Pro-China

“One story I wrote about was kidnapped rural children. Young boys kidnapped and forced to work in black kilns—illegal brick kilns where they were kept like slaves.

“A few years ago a lot of young teenagers started disappearing. They came from Henan [Province] to Zhengzhou [Henan’s capital] looking for work. So I went out with a group of about nine parents for about a week, and stayed with these families while they drove around these out-of-the-way places looking for their kids, and it was incredibly sad. They cried all the time.”

Mooney said some Chinese reporters did briefly cover these stories, but it didn’t last long.

“The people I helped put hope in me, but in my experience there is very little reaction from government,” Mooney said. “One father told me the police had done nothing to help find the children.”

Mooney recounted one story about a boy who escaped a kiln, and went to the Labor Bureau for help, only to be sold back to the kiln by one of the officials, then sold again by the same official to another kiln, for 600 yuan (US$98).

“I also did stories on cancer villages. I went to one village in Hunan Province with a battery factory. A lot of people started getting sick, so the government sent in doctors to test them, when they found out 1,000 people were poisoned with cadmium in their blood, they stopped all testing.

“The factory didn’t have any equipment to deal with the waste. The battery industry is a heavy metal polluter. They bribed local environmental officials to give them certificates; they were working with local government and local gangs. They pumped the waste water into the village river.”

The water, rice, and produce were all contaminated.

“One little girl died from cadmium poisoning. The eighty-year old grandma fell to her knees crying, and her mother bent down and was crying too, when they looked up and saw me crying they were shocked for a moment, then they just started howling even louder. It was heartbreaking.”

The father spent 90,000 yuan (US$14,770) to try to save her. Everyone else in the village was too scared to even talk to Mooney about the situation.

“I reported on this story because I hoped the government would compensate these people.”

Mooney hoped his reporting could help Chinese people, and therefore sees himself as pro-China, but in the end, “It was writing about these things that got me into trouble.”

Mooney explained that there are about 400 cancer villages in southern China. The rivers are all polluted with heavy metals. He hasn’t seen the CCP do anything about it.

“They talk a lot, but no action. The government sides with the local business and local officials, so they’re making money. The Communist Party’s face is much more important than the well-being of the Chinese people. So in the end, it is the Chinese people who always pay the price.”

‘Mean and Ruthless’

Mooney started to get interested in China in the 70s. Like many Americans at the time, he was fascinated with Chinese communism. But all that changed. “As a human being, one cannot imagine or understand the behavior of the CCP.”

He realized that many Chinese might not like what he says. “I think a lot of people, Chinese and Western, are duped by the CCP propaganda news. A lot of it is so positive, you never get the real picture of China.”

Mooney points out that the communists are harming the Chinese far deeper than the Japanese ever did.

“360,000 kids got sick on melamine poisoned baby formula. The story was blocked because the communist party wouldn’t allow any negative news leading up to the Olympics to save face.”

Another example: “A Chinese reporter had her story about high-speed train safety blocked. A year later a big accident happened. This is a government that is willing to let the Chinese people get poisoned, injured, or killed rather than lose face.”

“There is going to be a huge problem with lung cancer due to all the severe pollution. So it looks like a modern society but it’s really just a façade.”

“The communist party is really mean and ruthless. Regarding all the problems in society, unless the CCP feels there is a serious threat to their authority, they won’t do anything. So I anticipate that things will get much, much worse before the government responds and takes any action on these issues. I feel no hope.”

via Award-Winning Hong Kong Journalist Tells Why Beijing Refused Visa – The Epoch Times

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Major Crackdown on Bloggers in China Reported

28 November, 2013 at 07:19 | Posted in censorship, China, human rights, IT and Media, persecution, Society | Leave a comment

The widely respected Zhang Lifan one of those shut down

By NTD Television

Recent news from China tells of a massive and an exemplary denial of freedom of speech on the Internet, with huge numbers having their accounts closed, including one widely respected commentator.

On Nov. 13, Beijing Youth Daily reported that more than 100,000 microblog accounts accused of violating “seven bottom lines” have been canceled by Sina Weibo.

The report also stated, “Sina Weibo [a popular microblog service similar to Twitter] will further improve the online reporting mechanism to curb Internet irregularities.”

Lu Wei, director of the China Internet Information Office, held a meeting on Aug. 10 with several network celebrities, including Jilian Hai, Xue Manzi, Chen Li, and Pan Shiyi (also known as Big Vs on Weibo). Lu claimed that a consensus on adhering to the “seven bottom lines” had been reached with the Big Vs—individuals who use their real names when they blog and attract millions of followers.

The “seven bottom lines” are meant to identify topics about which bloggers know the CCP will scrutinize what they write with special care: laws and regulations, the socialist system, national interests, legitimate interests of citizens, social public order, trends in morality, and the authenticity of information.

Revered Scholar Silenced

Coinciding with the Daily report, several of Zhang Lifan’s registered website accounts were closed.

The 63-year-old Zhang, a scholar of modern Chinese history and a newspaper columnist, is considered to be an Internet celebrity. He often published political articles on the Internet, urging the authorities to conduct political reform.

Zhang Lifan spoke with Voice of America about the Internet environment in China, freedom of speech, and the ruling that penalizes for spreading “rumors” a blogger whose comments are viewed or forwarded too many times.

“The Internet rules should not hinder freedom of speech,” Zhang said.

“The Internet should have rules, but they need to be reasonable and conform to the freedom of speech stipulated in the Constitution’s Article 35, rather than restricting it,” Zhang said.

He admits that there should be boundaries between freedom of speech and rumor or slander, but the boundaries are hard to define in China.

In Zhang’s view, the “two highs,” namely the Supreme People’s Procuratorate and the Supreme People’s Court in China, in setting forth Internet regulations, did not actually interpret the law, but took it upon themselves to make new law, overstepping the power of the National People’s Congress (NPC), and sparking controversy in legal circles.

Despite the contrived legal interpretation, Zhang and the other network celebrities were not deterred from talking.

He said: “In fact, we fear nothing. Now the netizens are mocking the interpretation. This has shown that the government’s laws and the ‘two highs’ are without any authority at all.”

Zhang’s main concern was who would become the first victim of the judicial interpretation, because when making the law, the CCP could have targeted some people. Therefore, once such a case occurs, it would typically be significant.

Zhang mentioned as an example the case of Li Zhuang, a lawyer in Chongqing who was prosecuted in 2011 on the suspicion of instigating men to fabricate testimony, because they were unwilling to cooperate with authorities in their “crackdown on gangs” campaign.

The ‘Two Highs’ Crack Down

In September, the “two highs” promulgated provisions to combat rumors spreading through the Internet, stipulating: “If the same defamatory information is clicked and viewed 5,000 times or more, or forwarded more than 500 times, it will be regarded as ‘serious’ and the rumormonger will be sentenced to three years imprisonment.”

Subsequently, in order to strengthen the Internet control, the CCP’s new leadership launched a campaign to occupy the new battlefield of public opinion, leading to the arrest of many Internet celebrities and opinion leaders.

Dong Liwen, who is a member/advisor of Taiwan Think Tank and familiar with China’s politics, told the media that after coming to power, Xi Jinping has shown no signs of loosening constraints on free speech. He believes the recent arrests demonstrate continued constraints in the Xi era, which are worse than under the previous leader.

Dong says Xi Jinping “stabilizes political power by all means.” But Dong cautions that Xi’s move toward further constraint doesn’t exclude the possibility of triggering a greater backlash against him by the people. Xi simply “walks on the cliff.”

Translation by Joseph Wu. Written in English by Arleen Richards.

Read the original Chinese article.

via Major Crackdown on Bloggers in China Reported » The Epoch Times

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Chinese Writer’s Lot: Home Ransacked again and Detained again

25 October, 2013 at 16:33 | Posted in censorship, China, human rights, persecution, Society | Leave a comment

By Matthew Robertson
Epoch Times

Lü Gengsong, a Chinese writer and advocate for political reform and democracy in China, was taken away by six security officers who forced their way into his home and ransacked it on the afternoon of Oct. 23, without providing any explanation to his family.

Agents from the Hangzhou Domestic Security office, which oversees Chinese dissidents, searched his home for two hours before providing a list of the items they were confiscating — this time it was two computers and some papers about petition cases — and then took him, and the items, away.

Hangzhou is the capital of the eastern province of Zhejiang, known for its Longjing green tea and religious buildings.

Lü’s wife, Wang Xue’e, said that she was worried about his safety, in an interview with Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a volunteer advocacy network, which published an urgent release about his arrest in Chinese.

“This year up to now, they have taken away six computers, including our daughter’s PC and some borrowed from friends. All of our family members have lived terribly in recent years. Not only is the family monitored, but our personal freedom is often restricted. The house has been ransacked multiple times. My daughter and I feel like we’re going crazy.”

Chinese Human Rights Defenders says it is the fourth time this year that Lü has been subpoenaed and detained. Accusations are typically of the “suspicion of subverting state power” variety — a catch-all charge used to persecute dissidents. This time, no reason was given.

The arrest of Lü comes at a time when the Chinese Communist Party has become much more aggressive against dissidents and advocates of all stripes. It also indicates that the regime is targeting not just headline dissidents like Xu Zhiyong, who promoted the concept of a New Citizens Movement, but less public writers like Lü, known for penning lengthy essays analyzing the inner workings of the Communist Party’s Political and Legal Affairs Committee. Lü spent three years in prison, from 2008 to 2011, for his writings, which the authorities said were an attempt to “subvert the state.”

Frank Fang contributed research.

via Chinese Writer’s Lot: Home Ransacked again and Detained again » The Epoch Times

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Chinese Regime Solicits Internet Users’ Tips, Then Arrests Them

24 October, 2013 at 06:12 | Posted in censorship, China, human rights, IT and Media, persecution, Society | Leave a comment

By Tan Hohua
Epoch Times

Officials of the Chinese Communist Party CCP have launched a fresh attempt to censor the Internet under the pretext of “fighting corruption.” Internet users are encouraged to submit information to a new tip-off website; those who do may be arrested.

However, Chinese people are fighting back as they continue to use the Internet to expose corrupt officials and speak their mind.

The tip-off website was started by the CCP’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) in order to receive complaints from the public as “an important source of clues in the fight against corruption,” according to CCP mouthpiece Xinhua.

The website opened on Sept. 2 and received 377,450 reports that day, according to the Sept. issue of Hong Kong-based The Trend Magazine. The large number of access requests overloaded the website, and it stopped working five times that day, with the longest breakdown lasting 31 minutes. In the subsequent two days, the website received 257,420 reports and 313,821 reports respectively.

On China’s Internet there are 500 million surfers and 200 million Weibo accounts (China’s version of Twitter). In recent months, police in many areas have arrested dozens of well-known Internet users who uncovered local corrupt officials, giving reasons for the arrests such as “disturbing public order” and “fabricating rumors.”

For instance, police arrested Duan Xiaowen of Central China’s Hunan province for “suspected troublemaking,” according to a Southern Metropolis Daily report.

Duan is well-known for posting questions about why a local beauty pageant queen quickly become a city government official and for exposing who owned a house that was apparently built illegally on top of a 5-story building, the Daily reported.

Beijing Police confirmed on Sept. 28 the arrest of renowned environmental activist Dong Liangjie for “making trouble,” Xinhua reported.

Dong has over 300,000 followers on Weibo and has exposed issues such as contraceptives in tap water and high lead content in pork in Nanjing City. The regime claims that Dong made these issues up to boost his reputation.

‘Uncensored Truth’

Current affair commentator Chen Simin said he believes the regime’s crackdown won’t be effective, and even with such a massive propaganda machine, the regime cannot beat Weibo.

Chen said that Weibo is spreading the uncensored truth people long for. He believes Chinese Internet users are actually the ones who control the spread of information on the Internet.

Pei Minxin, Professor of Government at Claremont McKenna College, commented on the CCP’s current situation in an article on New Straits Times.

“In the last decade, a series of scandals and crises—involving public safety, adulterated food and drugs, and environmental pollution—has thoroughly destroyed what little credibility lingered [for the CCP],” Pei wrote.

He added that many successful and influential people have emerged on the Internet. “Taking advantage of the Internet and Weibo, they have become champions of social justice. Their moral courage and social stature have, in turn, helped them to build mass support (measured by the tens of millions of their Weibo followers). Their voices often reframe the terms of social-policy debate and put the CCP on the defensive.”

“But several emerging trends, unobserved or noted only in isolation, have greatly altered the balance of power between the CCP and Chinese society, with the former losing credibility and control and the latter gaining strength and confidence,” Pei added.

Translation by Olivia Li. Written in English by Sally Appert.

Read the original Chinese Article. 

via Chinese Regime Solicits Internet Users’ Tips, Then Arrests Them

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Chinese Authorities Clamp Down on Activists Before UN Review

23 October, 2013 at 07:41 | Posted in censorship, China, human rights, persecution, Society | Leave a comment

By Carol Wickenkamp
Epoch Times

The Chinese regime is clamping down on activists before an important UN human rights review, says a statement from the United Nations, expressing serious concern at the reprisals.

The statement said that according to reports, activists have been threatened, arrested or banned from taking part in demonstrations or stopped from leaving China in the period before China’s second review of its human rights record by the UN Human Rights Council, scheduled to take place on Oct. 22 in Geneva.

“Intimidating civil society members who seek to contribute to such an important international dialogue is completely unacceptable,” the UN experts said.

Human rights defenders Cao Shunli and Chen Jianfang, who were planning to take part in activities associated with the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), were prevented from boarding flights to Geneva in September, said the statement.

The UN statement said that Chen Jianfang was told that she was barred from travelling abroad for life, and activist Cao Shunli was detained by security authorities on Sept. 14. The authorities have not provided any formal notification of Cao Shunli’s detention, said her family.

A group of United Nations independent rights experts stated: “These cases seem part of a pattern of increased harassment by China of those calling for greater accountability of public officials, transparency and political and legal reforms.”

Police have threatened Chinese civil society activists who have been demonstrating for the right to provide input and receive information on China’s report to the UPR since June, the report said.

Reports “suggest there have been acts of reprisals against people who seek to cooperate with the UN,” said Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders Margaret Sekaggya.

The Chinese communist regime has informed the UN that they have consulted non-governmental organizations prior to the UPR session and that the draft of the national report was available on its official website for public comment.

via Chinese Authorities Clamp Down on Activists Before UN Review » The Epoch Times

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