On December 3, four workers organizations in the southern manufacturing hubs of Guangzhou and Foshan came under attack from Chinese authorities. Dozens of staff, family members, and affiliated workers were questioned, and seven remained in custody for over a month. Four have now been formally charged: three of them for “assembling a crowd to disrupt social order” and one for “embezzlement.”
Little more is known about the detainees. While a group of sixty lawyers volunteered to represent the activists, they’ve been barred from meeting their potential clients. In the meantime, the state media has unleashed a harsh smear campaign aimed at destroying the activists’ personal and professional reputations and legitimating the crackdown.
The crackdown didn’t come from nowhere. Labor groups and activists in China are regularly subjected to state repression and harassment. What sets the current sweep apart are the number of workers organizations (or labor NGOs, as some call them) and individuals targeted, and the severity of the criminal charges they are facing. The Chinese state’s goal is to stifle these and other workers organizations through humiliation and fear.
A factory worker who survived a tragic fall into a vat of boiling slurry now has to face death again after his company stopped paying his medical bills and told his family they should simply 'let him die'.
38-year-old Yuan Longhua, from central China's Yiliang County, suffered burns to 99 per cent of his body when he accidentally plunged into the steaming mixture on the morning of August 1 2015, reports the People's Daily Online.
His younger brother, Yuan Longyun, claimed his factory hoped his family could give Yuan euthanasia in a likely bid to avoid paying expensive medical bills.
But this week, after 20 years, Guo’s organisation – the Beijing Zhongze Women’s Legal Counselling and Service Centre – abruptly announced it was closing, sending shockwaves through the country’s already embattled third sector.
Details of the group’s closure remain sketchy. Reached by telephone on Thursday, Guo, 55, declined to comment on its apparently forced demise, citing “pressure”. “It is not convenient to say [what is happening],” the veteran women’s rights activist said. “I hope you can understand.”
Human rights campaigners, NGO workers and diplomats are convinced Guo’s group is the latest victim of President Xi Jinping’s escalating clampdown on civil society. Maya Wang, a Hong Kong-based researcher for Human Rights Watch (HRW), said the authorities’ decision to shut it down was designed to send a message that only those toeing the Communist party line would now be tolerated. ...
China has banned retired Communist Party members from believing in a religion or practising religious activities, state media report.
China is officially atheist but says it guarantees religious freedom.
However, serving Communist Party members are not expected to be religious.
Newly published Party rules now say retired officials are also barred from religion and must oppose cults, state media said.
The regulations were issued by the Communist Party's powerful Organization Department.
Chinese media quoted an official, explaining the new regulations, as saying: "There are clear rules that retired cadres and party members cannot believe in religion, cannot take part in religious activities, and must resolutely fight against cults."
Retired officials should "maintain a high degree of consistency, in thought, in political views and in action, with the central party committee which is headed by Xi Jinping", the official added. ...
Four of the five Hong Kong booksellers who went missing in October appeared on Chinese television confirming for the first time they'd been detained for "illegal book trading" in mainland China.
The five booksellers — including a British and Swedish national — had been linked to the same Hong Kong publisher and bookstore that specialised in gossipy books on the private lives and power struggles of China's Communist Party leaders.
The disappearances have prompted fears that mainland Chinese authorities may be using shadowy tactics that erode the "one country, two systems" formula under which Hong Kong has been governed since its return to China from British rule in 1997.
Four of the men, Gui Minhai, Lui Por, Cheung Chi-ping and Lam Wing-kee, gave details of their alleged offences to Phoenix Television on Sunday night.
"I have deeply reflected on what I have done and very much regret the illegal book trading I have carried out with Gui Minhai," said Lui Por in the Phoenix TV report.
In a four-minute report that involved exclusive interviews with the four, they confessed to selling "unauthorized" books in China via an online platform and evading customs inspections to deliver some 4000 books to 380 customers since October 2014.
New questions have emerged over a group of five missing Hong Kongpublishers of controversial books who are thought to have been abducted and taken to Beijing for selling literature banned in mainland China.
The booksellers later reappeared in mainland China helping police with inquiries, then made TV appearances in which they said they had not been taken across the border illegally.
However, according to an email sent by one of the booksellers, Lee Bo, there was indeed a political aspect to the case as Mr Lee said he feared his colleagueGui Minhai, a Swedish national, had been taken by Chinese security officials “for political reasons”.
The email was sent to Mr Gui’s daughter Angela, which was released in local media. Mr Lee disappeared himself 10 days later.
The disappearances of the two men, along with three others who worked at the Causeway Bay bookshop they ran that specialised in gossipy books critical of the Communist Party, sparked fears they had been taken across the border by Chinese security forces. ...
The Chinese government has banned all depictions of gay people on television, as part of a cultural crackdown on “vulgar, immoral and unhealthy content”.
Chinese censors have released new regulations for content that “exaggerates the dark side of society” and now deem homosexuality, extramarital affairs, one night stands and underage relationships as illegal on screen.
Last week the Chinese government pulled a popular drama, Addicted, from being streamed on Chinese websites as it follows two men in gay relationships, causing uproar among the show’s millions of viewers.
The government said the show contravened the new guidelines, which state that “No television drama shall show abnormal sexual relationships and behaviours, such as incest, same-sex relationships, sexual perversion, sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual violence, and so on.”
The ban also extends to smoking, drinking, adultery, sexually suggestive clothing, even reincarnation. China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television told television producers it would constantly monitor TV channels to ensure the new rules were strictly adhered to.
Large protests by miners augur ill for the government’s reform plans
“COMMUNIST Party give us back our money”, “We want to live, we need to eat!” Such were the slogans daubed on banners that were displayed on March 12th during a protest by thousands of coal miners in the dingy streets of Shuangyashan, a city in Heilongjiang province near the border with Russia. The demonstrators gathered outside the headquarters of Longmay, the largest mining company in the north-east and Heilongjiang’s biggest state-owned enterprise (SOE). They demanded wages which they said they had not received for at least two months. Some protesters blocked railway lines; others scuffled with police wearing riot gear. Internet censors deleted pictures of the unrest (such as the one shown) as they spread across social media.
The protest was one of the biggest by workers at an SOE for many years. It was an indication of the problems that China’s government will probably face as it seeks to cut excess capacity among SOEs like Longmay and reduce their enormous losses. In February the labour minister, Yin Weimin, said that 1.3m coal workers and 500,000 steel workers could lose their jobs over the next five years.
Other estimates say 3m-5m people may be thrown out of work in these industries as well as in aluminium production and glassmaking. That is far fewer than the tens of millions who lost their jobs during SOE restructuring in the late 1990s. But the economies of some cities, including Shuangyashan, are driven by a handful of large SOEs. In these, downsizing will be traumatic and possibly turbulent. ...
Chinese citizens have reacted with anger and alarm at news of a massive illegal vaccine operation uncovered in Shandong province.
The illegal vaccine ring involved hundreds of people, and affected 24 provinces and cities, local media said.
On Monday, news that a boy had died after a vaccination sparked more anger, though officials said there was no link to the Shandong scandal.
China has seen several health and safety scandals in recent years.
The illegal vaccine ring was said to have been in operation since 2011.
The ringleaders, who have been arrested, were allegedly a mother and a daughter who purchased the vaccines from licensed and unlicensed sources, and then sold them on to illegal agents or local disease control and prevention centres for high prices, reported Xinhua state news agency.
The $88m (£61m) worth of vaccines were not adequately refrigerated nor transported in approved conditions.
The potentially compromised vaccines could cause disability and death, Xinhua said.
A Chinese human rights activist says she has been barred from leaving the country just as she was planning to travel to the US to accept an award.
Ni Yulan had hoped to travel this week to accept the state department's International Women of Courage Award.
But she says she was refused a passport. She also alleges she and her husband were forcibly evicted from their home and he was beaten up.
Ms Ni, a lawyer, is known for defending property rights of citizens.
She had been due to attend the US award ceremony in Washington on Tuesday, and had applied for a new passport last month.
"When I went to get a passport I was told I was forbidden to travel abroad," she told the BBC. "They raised my involvement in a criminal case in which I had supported the defendants and written some articles on their behalf."
She said there was no legal reason for withholding her passport: "It was an excuse and a violation of my rights."
IN MOST countries there have been storms of protest as a result of revelations of financial shenanigans in the “Panama papers”, as a hoard of documents from Mossack Fonseca, a law firm, have been dubbed. Angry publics have been demanding explanations from wealthy people implicated, or the resignations of political leaders named. But not in China.
The files show that nine of the country’s most prominent families, including a relative of President Xi Jinping—own or have owned secret offshore companies, mostly based in the British Virgin Islands. Official media have largely kept quiet about this and censors have removed any mention of the scandal online. On April 5th a foreign ministry spokesman called allegations relating to Chinese leaders “unfounded”, but refused to discuss the matter further. Global Times, a newspaper owned by the Communist Party, did carry a sketchy report on the papers but made no mention of what they suggested about the financial affairs of prominent Chinese. Its English-language edition dismissed the matter as “a new means for the ideology-allied Western nations to strike a blow to non-Western political elites”.
The papers show extensive Chinese ownership of secret offshore companies. President Xi Jinping’s brother-in-law, Deng Jiagui, a property magnate, was listed as the sole director of three companies registered in the British Virgin Islands. In 2012 Bloomberg, a media group, said it had found evidence that Mr Deng and his wife, Qi Qiaoqiao, Mr Xi’s older sister, had run businesses worth hundreds of millions of dollars. By that time, however—shortly before Mr Xi came to power—the companies in question were no longer active. ...
A post box has become an unlikely object of adoration in Shanghai, after a former boy band star posed alongside it and shared the photo online.
Pop singer Lu Han, once a member of million-selling Chinese-Korean group EXO, posted a snap of himself leaning on the post box on Friday night. It received more than 800,000 likes on his Weibo account, but the fervour wasn't just online. Hundreds of fans keen to follow in their idol's footsteps tracked down the box in question - on one of Shanghai's busiest roads - and began queuing to have their photos taken with it, popular news website The Paper reports.
The line stretched up to 300m (1,000ft) along the pavement and some fans queued into the small hours, determined to give the post box a hug or a kiss. "He walked on this road, he saw this landscape, I feel a little closer to him," one woman tells The Paper. ...
I condemn this backtracking by Capitalist Roaders! Running Dogs of Imperialism! Paper Tigers!
China says it is no longer a crime to play golf
The game had been declared 'bourgeois' by Chairman Mao
China has declared it is no longer a crime to play the "hedonistic" game of golf.
In October 2015, the Communist Party banned all 88 million of its members from joining golf clubs as part of an anti-corruption campaign.
Members were banned from “obtaining, holding or using membership cards for gyms, clubs, golf clubs, or various other types of consumer cards, or entering private clubs,” according to the countries official press agency Xinhua News.
Now, the official newspaper for the China's Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspection, says the ruling Communist Party has had a change of heart and decided “playing golf itself is not wrongdoing” provided officials “pay out of their own pockets”. ...
Bulldozers battle on street in northern China – video
Police in northern China say an argument between construction workers escalated into a clash of heavy machinery that left at least two bulldozers flipped over in a street. This video footage shows several bulldozers ramming each other while cars scurry away from the clouds of dust. The workers were from rival companies competing for business. One driver is seen running unhurt from his toppled bulldozer
Well, it worked for a while!
Over the past week, onlookers gazing across Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong might have caught an unusual sight: a series of seemingly random numbers snaking down the facade of the International Commerce Centre (ICC), the tallest skyscraper in the city.
But hidden inside the numbers was a very political message.
A one-minute sequence of numbers was actually a creative piece of guerrilla protest art orchestrated by local pro-democracy artists Sampson Wong and Jason Lam.
They represent the number of seconds counting down to 1 July 2047, when, in theory, any legal or political division between Hong Kong and the rest of China will disappear.
Over the weekend the Hong Kong government-related body that commissioned the display abruptly cancelled the it, citing "disrespect" on the part of the artists behind it.
The Chinese lawyer who had his clothes ripped off in court
By Stephen McDonellBBC News, Beijing
Image copyrightWU LIANGSHU
Image captionMr Wu was allegedly assaulted by three officers inside a courtroom, in front of two judges who rejected his request to file a case in the district court of Nanning
What a difference an image makes.
Plenty of Chinese lawyers have been harassed, detained, even jailed in China but the photograph of one with his clothes reportedly torn off him by police has drawn plenty of attention in China.
Wu Liangshu stood in the Qingxiu District Court wearing the remnants of his suit with his bare leg and underpants showing.
He and other lawyers were telling court officials that he had been assaulted by three officers inside a courtroom in front of two judges who also happened to reject his request to file a case in the district court of Nanning in Guangxi Province.
Mr Wu was offered a new set of clothes but he knew the power of what he was about to do. "No thanks," he said.
The lawyer then walked out the front door of the court complex carrying his court materials, with a pen still stuck in the top pocket of his ripped open shirt.
He was then photographed outside the building. ...