Monday, 22 February 2016

No Hope For Democratisation in China Under Xi Jinping, Says Tiananmen Veteran Wang Dan

Xi Jinping: Consolidation of power (photo by By 美国之音)

 In an article published on Taiwan's website Apple Daily, Wang Dan casts away all hopes that the People's Republic of China might eventually move towards democracy. On the contrary. Under the leadership of Xi Jinping, he writes, the Communist Party is undergoing a process of "Fascistisation" (中共的法西斯化). 

Wang Dan is a prominent Chinese political thinker and activist, but one whose fate has been tragically shaped by Communist media censorship. His name has been erased from mainland China's collective memory and history, just like the political upheaval of which he was a leader in 1989. During that decade, in which China's authorities cautiously allowed an unprecedented degree of freedom, Wang Dan was one of the organisers of the "Democratic Salon", a study group and discussion platform on the campus of Beijing University. Wang Dan was a twenty-year-old student who, like many others of his generation, tried to change the face of the Communist state by political action from the bottom. On June 4th 1989, his dreams abruptly ended when the People's Liberation Army put down what the state leadership had called a "counterrevolution". 

Wang Dan was arrested on July 2, 1989, and remained in custody until his trial began in 1991. He was sentenced to four years in prison on charges of "counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement". He was taken to Qincheng, a maximum-security prison in Beijing's outskirts. Although he was released in 1993, he was arrested again two years later and in 1996 he was sentenced to eleven years in prison on charges of "subverting state power", the exact same crime of which Wang Dan's friend Liu Xiaobo was later accused (see Tiananmen Exiles: Voices of the Struggle for Democracy in China, pp. 114-115). 

Sunday, 21 February 2016

China's Consulate General in Houston Sends Letter to US Politician, Asking Him To Drop Support For Taiwan's Democracy

Taiwan democratic elections (photo by Luuva)
On February 19 Henry Zuber, member of the Mississippi House of Representatives, posted on his Facebook page a letter that he had received from the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in Houston. The letter urged him to stop supporting Taiwan and engaging in activities that could threaten Sino-US relations. 

Every year Zuber co-signs resolutions regarding Taiwan and meets the Taiwanese Delegation. As he explains: "I hold dear that every man has the God-given right to live under the freedoms of religion/speech regardless of national origin etc."

The Chinese government obviously did not like Zuber's engagement. The letter that the Consulate General sent was politely worded, but it put forward in strong terms the core of Beijing's one-China policy. The letter states:

Saturday, 20 February 2016

The Media Must Follow The Party, Says Xi Jinping


On February 19 Xi Jinping made a high-profile visit to China's three major news outlets, Xinhua News Agency, China Network Television and People's Daily. During his tour, Xi laid out his vision for the future of the Chinese media industry. And this vision is: journalists must do what the Party says. 

Xi ordered state- and Party-owned media to strictly follow the Party's leadership and focus on "positive reporting". They must work "to speak for the Party's will and its propositions and protect the Party's authority and unity". They must act as their "publicity fronts". 

They must align "their ideology, political thinking and deeds to those of the ... Central Committee [of the Chinese Communist Party] and help fashion the Party's theories and policies into conscious action by the general public while providing spiritual enrichment to the people". 

Friday, 19 February 2016

Xi Jinping Visits China Network Television, Sends Clear Message To Journalists

Xi Jinping does not miss a chance to show who is in charge. From the army to the internet, from the arts to the economy, the Secretary General of the Chinese Communist Party is eager impose on every sector of society his vision of the new China. And this vision is based on a simple principle: the "people" must follow the leadership of the Party, and the Party must follow his leadership.

On February 19 Xi Jinping paid a high-profile visit to CNTV, China's state television channel. He visited the control room and the broadcasting studio, took photos with journalists and was connected with the headquarters of CNTV in Washington DC. According to state-owned newspaper People's Daily, "90% of the staff [of CNTV] were present during the visit, Xi Jinping sent his greetings to the entire crew and wished them all the best".

The obsequious faces of the TV staff show clearly why more and more young Chinese journalists are giving up on their profession. 





Further readings: 

The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers

Xi Jinping: The Governance Of China

New Emperors, The: Power and the Princelings in China

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Forbidden Vocabulary - How China Censors Taiwan and Hong Kong-related Words

According to Taiwanese media reports, China's Xinhua News Agency released a list of "forbidden words" related to Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong. Although recent reports have brought this topic to the attention of the Taiwanese public, an article listing Xinhua's guidelines had already appeared in November 2015 on China's state-owned website People's Daily.

The "forbidden words on Xinhua News Agency's news reports" (新華社新聞報道中的禁用詞) are divided up into 5 sections, the fourth of which is entitled: "Forbidden words touching upon our national territory, sovereignty, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan". 

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Goodbye To Taipei's Legendary Dunnan Eslite Bookstore?

(Image courtesy of Solomon 203)
Sad news for all of Taipei's book lovers: the legendary Dunnan Eslite Bookstore (誠品敦南店), chosen by CNN as one of "the world's coolest bookstores", might soon be gone.

According to Housefun News, Dunnan Financial Building, where the bookstore occupies five floors, will be demolished and replaced by a 26-storey high skyscraper with 7 underground floors, which will house a 5-star hotel (By the way, I am wondering if there was no other location available for a new hotel; with all the ugly nondescript buildings in the neighbourhood ...).

The news was also mentioned on Taiwanese websites such as Apple Daily and EToday. However, Eslite Spectrum Corporation, owner of the bookstore, denied it would shut down its Dunnan branch, but it added that the lease for the bookstore expires in 2020. It's not so clear what is going to happen, but let's hope that this historic bookstore will not be closed.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Tainan Earthquake - Is There Anything Wrong With Taiwan's City Planning?

On February 6 a 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit Tainan, a city in southern Taiwan. The quake struck just before 04:00 local time, killing at least 23 people and destroying several buildings. Over 100 people are missing.

First of all, I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to all who lost their beloved ones. As I will write in a future post, I recently lost my father, so I know very well how it feels.

In this post I would just like to write a few words about a problem I have noticed in some Taiwanese cities.

One day I was talking with a German guy who lived in Taipei for a year. He was "complaining" that all the earthquakes he had experienced in Taiwan were small. When I said that earthquakes are nothing to laugh about, he argued that buildings in Taipei are earthquake-resistant and there was no reason to be worried even if the earth trembled. Well, I was quite surprised that he thought so, because I have seen loads of buildings in Taipei who look extremely precarious. Here are two examples: