Our latest fortnight selection of press articles on what is making the news in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. For print-friendly version, download here.
Keywords: Environment of China, Double Eleven, ban on online video game, increase in military budget, Blue House, national anthem law, five-day workweek law.
1. 1,140 party-appointed environmental inspectors held accountable for ecological damages in eight Chinese provinces
According to a report published by the Ministry of Environmental Protection on 16 November, 1,140 environmental inspectors (环保督察), including 56 local party committee members and 130 department-level officials, were called to account for their responsibility over ecological damages in the eight provinces (Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Henan, Guangxi, Yunnan, and Ningxia) they oversaw. Under the Xi’s administration, environmental protection has become one of the most pressing concerns as the government is attempting to fight pollution caused by decades of economic developments through law enforcement, and, thus, an important performance indicator used to evaluate government officials. The accused inspectors were charged for failing to manage pollution in their respective provinces (e.g. the worsening air quality in Henan). The disciplinary actions taken include investigation for criminal offenses and punishments within the party’s discipline. And unlike most government accountability in the past, many of the inspectors were publicly named and made to publicly apologize for their failed management.
- // 8省(区)1140人被问责，从人数上看并不多，不过涉及高级别官员之多，却是此前罕见的。在之前，许多地方在环保督察之后，问责的大多是企业人员和基层官员，许多地方主政官员，不仅不会被问责，反而成为问责他人的主体。而现在，大批厅级干部、处级干部被纳为问责对象，意味着环保问责正在转变为着重追究领导责任、管理责任。[…] 当然，此一轮的环保问责，亮点不止于此。一些地方主政官员不光被问责，还被实名曝光。[…] 类似的名单有着长长的一串，如此多地方主政官员因为环保被集中实名曝光，过去相当少见。反观以往，我们看过太多的“批量化呈现”问责，许多地方总是高调宣称问责了多少人，数字虽可观，却难见具体人名。 缺乏“点名”问责，不过是和稀泥而已。因为，没有“点名”，就无从监督，民众也难以判断问责数字有无水分，判断有没有避重就轻。而对于官员而言，隐姓埋名式的问责，难以给当事者以震撼教育，更难以让后来者引以为戒，避免重蹈覆辙。 问责就应当从“点名”开始。如今环保问责正在打破地方官场的好人主义，敢于硬碰硬，敢于动真格。治污不力意味着乌纱帽难保，只有如此，官员才会对治污有如履薄冰的危机感，对生态环境有发自内心的敬畏，从而抵挡住利益的驱动。// Source: 新京报, 17 November 2017
- //此前，社會上流傳的“中央環保督察隻打‘蒼蠅’”的說法顯然與事實嚴重不符。[…]在這幾個案件中均是廳級干部被問責。國家環保督察辦公室透露，第一批中央環保督察8省(區)被問責的廳級干部多達130人，其中正廳級干部24人。 因為生態環境保護不利如此多的領導干部特別是地方高級領導干部被問責，這在我國歷史上仍屬首次。目前，中央環保督察已經完成了對全國31省(區、市)的督察，繼今天8省(區)問責結果公開后，其余23省(區、市)的問責結果也會陸續公開。首批中央環保督察令1140人黨政領導及責任人被問責。接下來的23省(區、市)又有多少黨政領導及責任人被問責，目前仍是未知數。但可以肯定的是，一個地方的生態環境出了問題，這個地方的黨政領導一定脫不了干系。同時，從第一批中央環保督察問責結果看，中央環保督察在問責上絕不是僅打“蒼蠅”。// Source: 人民網, 17 November 2017
- //在8省（區）公開的問責情況中，一些典型案例引人矚目。 因內蒙古呼倫貝爾北方葯業有限公司存在未批先建、批建不符問題，以及建成投產後異味擾民、超標排放、違規處置廢物等問題，群眾對該公司環境污染問題反映強烈。中央環保督察組將這一問題移交地方，包括已任其他崗位正廳級幹部的巴樹桓等牙克石市前後四任市委書記、前後兩任市長、副市長受到黨內處分。 因落實「大氣十條」不力， 2013年以來，哈爾濱秋末冬初重污染天氣頻發，導致中小學校和幼兒園停課、高速公路封閉，對人民群眾生產生活產生較大影響。31名責任人因此被嚴肅問責，其中包括受到黨內嚴重警告處分的哈爾濱市政府副市長賈劍濤。 8省（區）相關案件的具體問責情況已在環境保護部網站和8省（區）政府網站同步公布。 國家環境保護督察辦公室表示，各級領導幹部要引以為鑒，舉一反三，把思想和行動統一到黨中央決策部署上來，自覺踐行新發展理念，推動經濟與環境協調發展。同時各級各部門要認真落實環境保護黨政同責和一崗雙責，層層壓實責任，抓實各項工作，以看得見的成效兌現承諾，取信於民。 據悉，第二批中央環保督察移交案件問責情況將在今年年底公布。// Source: Wen Wei Po, 17 November 2017
2. China’s Singles’ Day (11 November) reaching new online sales record at the expense of the environment
Originated as a non-commercial festival celebrating bachelorhood among university students in Nanjing during the 1990s, China’s Singles’ Day – also known as Double Eleven (双十一) or Guanggun Jie (光棍节) – on 11 November (the number “1” symbolizes a person who is single) has evolved into a nation-wide as well as the world’s largest online shopping gala where goods ranging from food to motor vehicles are sold at discounts. Initially launched by the Chinese e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba in 2009 to promote its online shopping website Taobao, Double Eleven’s sales are now competed among other e-commerce companies such as JD.com, despite Alibaba has previously registered trademarks associated with the festival in 2012 and 2013. With a total amount of sales increased from US$7.5 million in 2009 to US$25.3 billion in 2017, it is now the largest online shopping event on earth and is 18 times the total sales of Amazon’s Prime Day. With more than 1.5 billion items sold and 300,000 tons of waste produced during the Double Eleven event, this rapidly developing online shopping culture at the expense of the environment has indeed created a number of pressing problems which the country needs to deal with. For example, more than 70,000 parcels ordered on 11 November were delivered to and left on the pedestrian pathways at Peking University and Tsinghua University.
- // “双十一”过后，快递配送迎来高峰，高校则成为“主战场”。有快递公司相关负责人透露，仅昨天清华、北大两所高校快递数量就达7万余件。 新京报记者当天在清华、北大周边看到，多家快递公司的快递包裹摆满校园外的人行道，不时有学生前来隔着围栏取件。就此有学生和快递人员呼吁，希望在“双十一”等高峰期，适当增加校内快递领取点数量和空间，使校园快递“最后一公里”通畅起来。[…] 昨日下午，清华大学北二门外快递领取点，中通、圆通、韵达等多家快递公司，均将快递包裹摆放在校园围栏外的人行道上，现场还有很多快递公司的三轮车在卸载包裹，行人只能在人行道下通过。不时有学生穿越围栏内的树林领取快递，快递工作人员则将包裹托过围栏，递进校园内的学生手中。[…] 此外在清华大学北二门北侧的一处公园空地上，也能见到很多快递公司在此处分拣快递，地上的众多包裹堆积在此处，最高的有一米多。// Source: 新京报, 14 November 2017
- //网购快递过度包装，这是为什么呢？可能只为了一个好评！电商平台和卖家也是苦不堪言：“经常有顾客评价说：‘几百块的衣服，卖家竟然只用一个袋子包装，太简陋了，万一划破算谁的？’”每年消耗数亿立方米的木材中，有相当比例用于各种产品包装，那为何不用绿色材料？成本高，快递竞争又如此激烈……在回收可利用的包装方面，快递员和消费者积极性都不高，消费者嫌费事、快递员嫌费时，回收率较低，难以实现循环，场面十分尴尬！目前快递业中纸板和塑料回收率较低，许多城市没有足够场所处理垃圾，在农村，每年生活垃圾超数亿吨，甚至在某种程度上能超过城市。当陆地已经难以负荷，我们又把目光投向海洋，每年约有数百万吨塑料倾入。一些海洋动物被塑料制品缠绕，它们的身体慢慢长大，这些垃圾却依然留在它们身上，造成终生伤害！// Source: 每经网, 16 November 2017
- //網絡購物是中國消費的巨大引擎之一，去年，中國網絡購物達7500億美元，近似荷蘭一年經濟產值。Goldman Sachs估計，至2020年，此數值將翻倍至1.7萬億美元。今年的雙十一，各大電商甚至綫下零售商，也均磨拳擦掌準備刷新銷量與售額記錄。 然而，在銷售記錄不斷飆升的同時，投訴率與退貨率也在上漲。去年雙十一成交總額高達1030億人民幣，但2016年11月1日00:00至11月18日14:00期間，第三方消費投訴平台「聚投訴」稱接到八大電商平台的投訴共計1062件，較上月同期上升115%，較去年同期上升416%。[…]在雙十一時爲了凑單和獲得優惠價購買的快感，有不少用戶購買了用不到或質量不好的商品，淘汰轉換率很高，自嘆「吃土」、「剁手」的感慨隨處可見。// Source: Initium, 10 November 2017
1. China’s ban on popular online video game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds triggered Chinese game developers to create copycat versions containing “core socialist values”
With over 20 million copies sold globally as of November 2017, the world’s best-selling battle survival video game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) was recently banned in China due to its violent contents and competitive spirit which, according to a statement issued by the China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association, deviate from the country’s core socialist values and Chinese culture’s traditional moral principles. Soon after the ban was announced, a number of local media companies (e.g. Tencent) have expressed interest in acquiring a publishing license from the game’s South Korean development Bluehole as well as create copycat versions that are deemed suitable for the Chinese market. For example, the Chinese internet company NetEase’s Wildness Action (荒野行动) and technology giant Xiaomi’s Xiaomi Gunfight (小米枪战) are among the two notable versions of the game developed by local companies. Topping the China’s Apple iOS store, Wildness Action addresses the Chinese regulator’s concerns by showing red banners with slogans that reflect the country’s socialist values such as “Safeguard national security, safeguard world peace” (维护国家安全，维护世界和平). Commentators have suggested that the ban on PUBG signals China’s increasingly vigorous policing of video game cultures and technology companies.
//“Chinese developers are the best in the world when it comes to copying domestic or foreign hit titles at record speed,” said Serkan Toto, founder of Tokyo-based consultancy Kantan Games Inc. “It’s just amazing how fast, and in some cases how good, Chinese companies can take over content made by others.” […] “Survival-themed games might become the biggest revenue drivers next year, and in China companies have the tendency to copy the same games in swarms,” said Li Muzhi, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Arete Research Services. “At the end, you’re competing for user volume and user engagement. Tencent has been actively investing in this space.”// Source: Bloomberg, 7 November 2017
//通告中又指，鑑於大逃殺類型遊戲鼓勵殺戮，以殺死其他遊戲玩家扮演的角色達至最終目的，當局對此明確持否定態度，更表示「難以獲得出版運營許可」。為此，「遊戲工委」建議國內遊戲企業不宜安排研發及引進此類游戲，同時認為電競及直播等平台，不應為此類遊戲提供宣傳及推廣等服務。消息傳出後，大批內地網民紛紛留言表示不滿，「意思是所有的射擊類游戲都得停」，又擔心當局會封鎖伺服器，暗諷當局只懂封鎖，不懂教育，「祖國上下，一片繁榮和諧」，亦有網民直指中央經常將人民當作「溫室裏的花朵」。[…]《絕地求生》玩法如日本經典電影《大逃殺》，玩家在開局時獲隨機派發至戰場附近，玩家需在戰鬥開始時搜索武器，繼而進行殺戮，隨遊戲推進，戰場範圍會收窄，玩家繼續與其他餘下玩家決鬥，到最後在戰鬥中的生還者便是勝方。// Source: HK01, 1 November 2017
2. Leading Australian publisher delayed publication of prominent professor’s book for fear of the Chinese government
The publication of Silent Invasion: How China is Turning Australia into a Puppet State – a book by Clive Hamilton, a prominent professor at Charles Sturt University, examining the Chinese Communist Party’s activities in Australia was pulled by the leading Australian publisher Allen & Unwin in early November. According to an email by the publisher where the author has published eight previous books, the decision to delay publication was made due to “potential threats to the book and the company from possible action by Beijing”, despite the book has gone through several rounds of significant editing by lawyers. Seeing this as “a watershed in the debate over China’s suppression of free speech”, Hamilton pointed out that it was “the first instance where a major Western publisher has decided to censor material of the Chinese Communist Party in its home country”. Having requested the Allen & Unwin to return his rights, Hamilton is currently seeking other potential publishers to bring his book into publication. The episode came after a recent series of self-censorship in global academic publishing such as the University of Cambridge journal China Quarterly and the German publishing house Springer Nature (home to Springer and Palgrave Macmillan) who removed access to their articles containing politically sensitive topics from readers in China.
//While Australian publishers routinely deal with legal threats or court action from individuals named in books, it is exceptionally rare that a perceived threat from a foreign power prevents or delays publication. It raises serious questions about academic freedom and free speech in Australia. “I’m not aware of any other instance in Australian history where a foreign power has stopped publication of a book that criticises it,” Dr Hamilton said. “The reason they’ve decided not to publish this book is the very reason the book needs to be published.” He was concerned that a perceived and vexatious threat, rather than an actual or justified legal action, had prompted the decision to ditch the book. […] The book by Dr Hamilton, who has published eight previous books with Allen & Unwin and has received an Order of Australia for his contribution to public debate, examines evidence that suggests various Chinese Communist Party agencies are seeking to extend Beijing’s influence in Australia for strategic and political gains. While such activity is carried out by other states, elements of Beijing’s influence campaign are clandestine or highly opaque. According to media investigations and warnings from spy agency ASIO, these efforts are targeted at Australian politicians and academics. In response, the Turnbull government has plans to legislate to counter Beijing-linked influence operations by introducing new offences prohibiting foreign interference. // Source: Western Advocate, 13 November 2017
// Media attention and academic outrage have again spread relatively quickly. Yet something is different this time around. By this point in the Cambridge controversy, six days after the news broke, the press had already reversed its initial cowardly decision. There is no sign that Springer Nature is about to experience any such change of heart. In its most recent statement, Springer again emphasized that it is simply abiding by “China’s regulatory requirements”. And on Saturday, Chinese state media announced a new “strategic partnership” between Springer and Chinese IT censorship and monitoring giant Tencent, purportedly to encourage scientific innovation. […] One possibility that I have considered is elitism. The idea that the prestigious (and imminently prestigious sounding) Cambridge University Press is censoring content, and particularly focusing its censorship efforts on its top-ranked China Quarterly, easily begets outrage. […] If none of the factors above can explain the different courses of the two censorship scandals, another more distressing explanation, and a possibility that I have come to consider increasingly likely in recent days, is that these types of attacks on academic freedom for access to the China market could gradually become the new normal for all of us: shocking the first time, but gradually something to which we will all grow accustomed. // Source: China Policy Institute, 8 November 2017
China ordered its military to pledge absolute loyalty to Xi Jinping and aims to build world-class military power
Announcing in front of 2,300 delegates in the Communist Party meeting held in October, Xi Jinping called to build a military power of world-class standard by the mid-21st century. In early November, the Central Military Commission has moreover added a new guideline requesting the Chinese military force consisting of more than two million personnel to pledge absolute loyalty to and follow the command of President Xi. Commentators, such as James Char, suggested that such moves to modernize the Chinese military indicate that Xi has consolidated and further centralized his power due to his earlier crackdowns on high-ranking army officers for corruption. Although China has increased its military spending over the last 30 years and actively displayed its military activities, its military budget remains one-fourth of that of the US. With the increase in military spending, it is expected that China will continue to defend its territorial claims over the South China Sea as well as establish overseas military bases following the opening of its first foreign naval base in Djibouti in August this year.
- //But while Xi flexed his muscles at the head of China’s central military commission during his first term, he is likely to observe more caution in future, having consolidated his power base by bringing down two of the country’s highest-ranking army officers for corruption, said James Char. He also reaffirmed the party’s “absolute control” over the army during the recently concluded congress. “Now that it’s done, he does not need to risk an external crisis any more. Therefore, we can reasonably expect Beijing will conduct less coercive diplomacy in the near- to medium-term,” Char said. “The Chinese military will continue to operate further and further away from China’s shores, and probably also establish more overseas bases,” he added. But, while it will continue to aggressively defend its own territorial claims, “it will likely act cautiously abroad and will not engage in overseas constabulary missions such as those carried out by the US military in Iraq or Afghanistan for example.” // Source: Hong Kong Free Press, 1 November 2017
//據中國軍網報道，中共中央總書記、國家主席、中央軍委主席、軍委聯指總指揮習近平昨日視察軍委聯合作戰指揮中心時強調，實現黨在新時代的強軍目標、把人民軍隊全面建成世界一流軍隊，必須扭住能打仗、打勝仗這個關鍵，在備戰打仗上有一個大的加強。全軍要認真學習貫徹黨的十九大精神，深入學習貫徹新時代黨的強軍思想，貫徹新形勢下軍事戰略方針，強化使命擔當，強化改革創新，強化工作落實，全面提高新時代備戰打仗能力，為實現「兩個一百年」奮鬥目標、實現中華民族偉大復興的中國夢提供戰略支撐。習近平對解放軍備戰打仗問題一直高度重視。黨的十九大閉幕後第2天，習近平主持第一次軍委常務會議，就強調軍委班子要推動全軍各項工作向能打仗、打勝仗聚焦。[…]習近平在聽取了全軍練兵備戰工作匯報後，發表重要講話。習近平充分肯定了黨的十八大以來全軍練兵備戰取得的成績。他強調，我國正處在由大向強發展的關鍵階段，前景十分光明，挑戰也十分嚴峻，中華民族偉大復興絕不是輕輕鬆鬆、敲鑼打鼓就能實現的。軍事鬥爭是進行偉大鬥爭的重要方面，打贏能力是維護國家安全的戰略能力。全軍要強化憂患意識、危機意識、打仗意識，全部心思向打仗聚焦，各項工作向打仗用勁，盡快把備戰打仗能力搞上去。// Source: Wen Wei Po, 4 November 2017
Xi Jinping’s visit to Hanoi sought maintaining stability over the South China Sea disputes
Arriving in Hanoi after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit (APEC) in Da Nang, Xi Jinping met with Nguyen Phu Trong, the current General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, to discuss the China-Vietnam relations and maritime issues on 12 November. On 13 November, a joint statement was issued saying that a consensus has been reached over the disputed areas in the South China Sea. As an effort to enhance the bilateral relations, a series of deals amounting to US$1.94 billion were signed before and during Xi’s official visit, including agreements on e-commerce cooperation and building a border trade zone. Other than the joint statement and cooperation pacts, Xi moreover referenced the shared revolutionary history of China and Vietnam (two of the five remaining communist states in the world) as well as China’s support for Ho Chi Minh against the US during the Vietnam War. These diplomatic exchanges between the two countries are seen to reflect, on the one hand, Beijing’s growing concern over Hanoi’s increasingly close relations with the US and, on the other, Hanoi’s ambition to benefit from China’s Belt and Road initiative, despite of Vietnamese residents’ growing disdain for China’s economic control over the region in recent years.
//中共視越南為推行其「一帶一路」戰略重要支撐點；是海上絲綢之路的必經之地，但越南對中國的這個戰略支持有限；目前河內正在建設的越南首條輕軌，使用中國技術、資金、裝備和標準，預計明年開通營運；中方視之為一帶一路在越南的重點合作項目；隨着習到訪，中方加強對此項目的宣傳。但是河內的中國問題專家阮玉石對《蘋果》記者表示，同時在河內開建的還有一條日本投資的鐵路，「比較日本投資的那條，很明顯中國投資興建的這條，無論在質量和價格上，都不能跟日本比。我們越南人更傾向引進日本的技術和資本。」據透露，對北方（中國）的防範始終是越南當局的心結。南海問題更是中越兩國關係的死穴。中越兩國都聲稱擁有南海（越南稱黃海）主權；中方派大型船隻在爭議海域鑽探，越方不示弱派成百小漁船包圍鑽台騷擾抗議；今年初越南被揭聯合印度的公司在南海開採鑽探，中方不但公開反對，還取消原定兩軍邊境高層會晤，正在河內訪問的中共軍委副主席范長龍更突然中斷行程，提前回國。// Source: Apple Daily, 13 November 2017
// 11月9日，在对越南社会主义共和国进行国事访问前夕，中共中央总书记、国家主席习近平在越南《人民报》发表题为《开创中越友好新局面》的署名文章。习近平指出，中越是山水相连、唇齿相依的邻邦。近代以来，在争取国家独立和民族解放的斗争中，两国人民并肩战斗、彼此支援，结下了“同志加兄弟”的特殊情谊。进入新时期，我们共同探索符合本国国情的社会主义发展道路，创造出各自的发展奇迹，也推动两国关系得到长足发展。上个月，中共十九大成功召开，制定了中国党和国家未来发展的总体方针和行动纲领，绘制了从现在到本世纪中叶中国建设发展的宏伟蓝图。越南也正全面推进革新事业，朝着早日建成民富国强、民主、公平、文明的现代化工业国目标迈进。我们比以往任何时候都需要携手合作，共同追寻强国富民梦。 习近平强调，当前，国际和地区形势风云变幻，中越两党两国面临许多相同或相似的新问题新挑战。作为前途相关、命运与共的好邻居、好朋友、好同志、好伙伴，我们要维护和发展好两国关系，为各自维护稳定、 深化改革、改善民生提供助力，共同推进社会主义事业， 促进地区和平稳定和开放发展。双方要把稳方向，谋求战略互信新高度；深化合作，构建利益融合新格局；扩大交流，筑就民心相亲新基础；加强协调，打造多边合作新亮点；着眼大局，续写敦亲睦邻新篇章。我期待通过这次访问，同越南领导人以及各界朋友深入交流，共挖合作潜力，厚植友好情谊，深化两国特殊友好，携手开创中越关系新局面。// Source: The Paper, 9 November 2017
1. Blue House received UNESCO’s Award of Excellence for heritage preservation
Being one of the few remaining balcony-type tenement buildings in Hong Kong, Blue House won the highest award in this year’s UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. Symbolizing the working-class community in Wan Chai, the block of tong lau (唐樓) named after its distinctive color has been operating as a shophouse block in the last 95 years. Although Blue House was once threatened with demolition and wholesale redevelopment, it was safeguarded by an inclusive, grassroots advocacy alliance comprised of tenants, social workers, and other preservation specialists. The jury wrote in a citation, “This unprecedented civic effort to protect marginalized local heritage in one of the world’s most high-pressure real estate markets is an inspiration for other embattled urban districts in the region and beyond”. Unique in the history of urban renewal in Hong Kong, many residents of the building, with the support by St James’ Settlement – a charitable organization selected to oversee the redevelopment project, stayed on-site during the construction process and maintained their community networks. As a result of this internationally acclaimed success, Blue House is expected to become a model to encourage civil society-led, bottom-up urban revitalization projects in the future.
//藍屋抗爭的口號是「留屋留人」，這個口號，在當時算是激進。在此之前，香港雖然早有熱心保育的人，二戰前主要是一些外國人斷續地紀錄了本地習俗與風貌，七十至八十年代，在香港前途未卜的時候，尖沙嘴鐘樓也掀起過一次保育運動，但其後民間一直沉寂。香港歷史建築的處理方法，一般是清拆與重建（例如舊淺水灣酒店和利舞臺），偶爾會額外地「非原址保留」（如美利樓），而少數能留下的歷史建築，大多是改為商業和旅遊用途。曾是古物諮詢委員會成員的香港史專家高添強回憶說，「政府原本只打算用慣常的方法活化藍屋，提出時大概沒想過『留屋留人』，一直以來，政府的保育工作大多只重視硬件、外表，這些工作容易量化，可是處理軟件如歷史和人文關懷則困難得多，並不是大部分以打工心態工作的官員所願意承擔的」。當時沒有人想到，藍屋最終能夠同時保留老建築和老居民，並在十年後獲得聯合國教科文組織的高度表揚。高添強認為，社區組織聖雅各牽頭帶動街坊專家應記一功，但其實這次成功也是一次意外———民間的抗議恰好碰上政府需要爭取民心的需要。[…]艱難如此，作為一次保育奇蹟，香港可不可能再有第二個藍屋？周希旋認為，這種經驗可以延續，「保育藍屋重要，除了是因為它位處有豐富歷史的灣仔區，還因為它對其他舊區有示範作用 。香港當然可以繼續用這種方式做社區文化保育，以前政府要推搪時會說留屋留人沒有先例，但現在不怕，我們有了藍屋。」// Source: Initium, 6 November 2017
// The cluster was one of the projects under a government scheme revitalising historic buildings launched in 2009. A spokesman from the Commissioner for Heritage’s Office under the Development Bureau said the award not only encouraged and recognised its heritage conservation efforts, but demonstrated that “a local level of revitalisation of government historic buildings can also be internationally recognised”. St James’ Settlement, a charity, was selected to redevelop the site with a government grant of HK$76 million. A charity spokeswoman said the group was “deeply honoured” and “extremely surprised to get the award”. “The whole process was made possible through a bottom-up approach, planning and participation, focusing on the residents and their rights. This proves that a conservation approach to retain the building and its people can work and is worth encouraging despite the city’s rapid development and gentrification.” She added the charity hoped its experience could “become a reference for others in Hong Kong that development isn’t the only option”. // Source: South China Morning Post, 1 November 2017
2. China inserted a new national anthem law into Hong Kong’s mini-constitution
Soon after China has recently passed a new law that punishes people who disrespect the national anthem (“March of the Volunteers”) to 15 days of administrative detention and three years of imprisonment, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee has formally inserted the law into an annex of Hong Kong’s Basic Law. While the Chief Executive Carrie Lam has publicly declared that the “legislation does not carry any particular scope for politicization”, pan-democrat legislators have warned that the law would undermine Hong Kong’s freedom of expression under the “one country, two systems” framework. In the absence of a public consultation, they have moreover requested guidelines concerning law enforcement. Legislator Tanya Chan is worried that “Hong Kong schools could become like those in China, where students are gathered every day to sing the anthem and salute the national flag”. Nevertheless, legal practitioners, such as Dennis Kwok, have pointed out that much of the law would be difficult to implement in Hong Kong where 15 days of administrative detention is non-existent in the common law system. The public debate in Hong Kong over the need and possibility of a national anthem law started in 2015, when Hong Kong football fans booed the national anthem during a World Cup qualifier and subsequent footfall matches where the national anthem was played.
//林太表示，國歌法的目的在於讓國歌得到尊重，防止和避免有人貶損或故意侮辱國歌，指政府在草擬本地法律時，會照法例實施目的、原則，以及本港的法制處理。她表示，「看不到與創作自由、表達自由拉上任何關係」。對於社會出現憂慮，她認為反映了近年社會有聲音「無必要地」在本港與中央有關事務上，上綱上線製造「恐慌式」的言語。民主黨立法會議員尹兆堅表示，林太對於追溯期的說法左搖右擺，反映有關立法和實際操作非常複雜，政府需要諮詢公眾，清楚解釋執法內容和具體情景，如在茶餐廳食飯時聽到國歌是否需要起立。他說，立法時需要取得平衡，法例不可以影響市民日常生活。公民黨楊岳橋說，市民擔心國歌法會否變成影響言論自由和創作自由的工具，因此希望政府透過諮詢，說服市民不會有這些事發生。楊又說，市民在球賽中噓國歌是政治問題，指中港問題冰封三尺非一日之寒，希望政府可以寬容的態度和誠意，說服港人尊重港府和國家。// Source: Ming Pao, 8 November 2017
//全國人大常委此前將《國歌法》納入《基本法》附件三，惟昨晚（9日）香港足球代表隊於主場友賽巴林期間，再有球迷對賽前奏播的中國國歌報以噓聲，亦有球迷高叫「We are Hong Kong」口號、或背向球場、或舉起不文手勢。 基本法委員會委員譚惠珠今早出席香港電台節目時表示，她感覺昨晚球迷對國歌不敬的情況已較過去有所改善，並認為《國歌法》本地立法後，市民會考慮到要為噓國歌付出代價，違法情況將進一步減少。她又指，個人認為對國歌表示尊敬是「普世價值」。 經民聯立法會議員梁美芬則表示，若在《國歌法》在香港通過立法之前空檔，出現太多嚴重的侮辱國歌事件，或促使人大改變看法；她又特別提到，過去12條中國全國性法律，只有1條是在香港經本地立法。有報導形容，梁美芬說法等同暗示《國歌法》可能繞過本地立法直接生效。// Source: Initium, 10 November 2017
Taiwan’s Cabinet proposed draft amendments to the five-day workweek law
The Cabinet under Tsai’s administration has recently proposed for a revision of the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) that was implemented on 1 January this year. Known publicly as Yili Yixiu (一例一休, one fixed day off and one flexible rest day), the working day reform policy guarantees workers to get two days of leave in every seven days, including one fixed day of mandatory holiday and one optional rest day. After almost a year of observation, employers and workers alike – especially those in small businesses and in the travel and transportation industries, however, have complained that the policy was too rigid and allowed little flexibility. In response to their concerns, the amendments would change the maximum consecutive working days from seven to 12, and maximum overtime hours from 46 to 54 per month (but limited to 138 hours every three months). It would also allow workers to accumulate unused leave for up to a year. Although the proposal is generally welcomed by much of the Taiwanese population (66.6%) as shown in a recent opinion poll, a number of labor rights groups and politicians have, however, criticized the amendments for allowing big businesses to exploit employees by requesting them to work longer overtime hours.
//賴清德擔任閣揆後第一個重大政策是一例一休鬆綁。自去年12月底《勞基法》修訂後，一例一休引起不少反彈，尤其是許多中小型商家企業或者勞動情況較特殊、勞動力短缺的產業，多認為新的《勞基法》窒礙難行。例如一家小型餐廳負擔不起兩個廚師輪班，為因應新法它就得至少休店1天，而且要多付加班費，這已超出很多小型店家的能力範圍。中南部的中小型商家企業負面反應尤烈，引起執政黨緊張，擔心綠營基本盤因此鬆動。因此，賴揆鬆綁一例一休也被視為拆解了執政黨明年選舉一個地雷引信。之前已數度談及一例一休諸多問題，對於賴揆修法我們基本上肯定，不過為保障勞工權益，有些政策須更細膩規劃。[…]由於這個解釋函失效引發資方緊張，也讓《勞基法》修法議程突然提前。而為了實現蔡英文周休二日承諾，執政者提出一個折衷的一例一休──「例假」不能加班，「休假」可以加班。所謂一例一休爭議，更準確地說是賴揆要解決原本《勞基法》中的七休一爭議，而賴揆處理方式就是把七休一變成十四休二。 值得注意的是，原本賴揆鬆綁《勞基法》是要解中小企業之苦，但修法卻對大型企業一視同仁。依勞動部《勞基法》修正草案第36條，例假日調動須「經中央目的事業主管機關同意」，問題是中央主管機關是就整個行業別、而非就個別廠商來核定是否符合彈性移休需求，因此，解小企業之苦可能讓有能力負擔勞動成本的大企業意外獲利。// Source: Apple Daily, 11 November 2017
//總體來看，此次《勞基法》修正案可說是民進黨政府自毀去年強推的「一例一休」法案，進一步削減勞工加班費和提高勞工加班工時，全面改惡《勞基法》的行動。勞團和青年團體日前已多次舉行記者會抗議，反對民進黨政府再度修惡《勞基法》，並要求還給勞工七天假。[…] 台灣高等教育產業工會研究員陳柏謙批評，如果依政院版本來修正《勞基法》，幾乎可以確定這將是1984年立法以來，最嚴重、也最具毀滅性的一次「改惡」。他指出，日後所有對勞動條件的最低法律規範，將被虛妄的「勞資協商」合議所取代，而台灣勞工過勞與嚴重超時工作的現況必將更為惡化。陳柏謙痛批，從賴清德主導《勞基法》修法顯示，對台灣勞工而言，從林全下到賴清德上，真的是名符其實的「狗去豬來」。桃園市空服員職業工會秘書長林佳瑋也諷刺，難怪政府要力推「罷工預告制度」，因為《勞基法》新修正草案，「真的非常值得全國大罷工！」// Source: 苦勞網, 31 October 2017