Keywords: Climate Summit in Paris, World Internet Conference, urbanization, Pu Zhiqiang, labour NGOs in Guangdong, Alibaba’s Group, South China Morning Post, judicial review, presidential and legislative elections in Taiwan.
Climate Summit in Paris and China
- Paris Agreement in general: //Nearly 200 nations adopted the first global pact to fight climate change on Saturday, calling on the world to collectively cut and then eliminate greenhouse gas pollution but imposing no sanctions on countries that don’t. The « Paris agreement » aims to keep global temperatures from rising another degree Celsius (1.8 Fahrenheit) between now and 2100, a key demand of poor countries ravaged by rising sea levels and other effects of climate change. […] In the pact, the countries pledge to limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to the levels that trees, soil and oceans can absorb naturally, beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100. In practical terms, achieving that goal means the world would have to stop emitting greenhouse gases — most of which come from the burning of oil, coal and gas for energy — altogether in the next half-century, scientists said. That’s because the less we pollute, the less pollution nature absorbs. […] The accord does represent a breakthrough in climate negotiations. The U.N. has been working for more than two decades to persuade governments to work together to reduce the man-made emissions that scientists say are warming the planet. The previous emissions treaty, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, included only rich countries and the U.S. never signed on. The last climate summit, in Copenhagen in 2009, ended in failure when countries couldn’t agree on a binding emissions pact.// Source: New York Times, 12 December 2015.
- China in the process of the climate talk: //In the final hour before French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was finally able to announce that a Paris climate deal had been sealed, China’s top negotiator Xie Zhenhua was there among the small group of delegates and leaders helping to eliminate the last few points of contention. Much was hanging on the outcome, which capped a week in which China seemed to struggle to respond to pressure from a new coalition. But China stepped up its efforts on the last day and soon hailed the agreement – which aims to limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius – as a “historic step”. The deal was hailed for bringing all nations on board for a common goal: to peak their carbon emissions as early as possible and strive to reach net-zero emissions in the second half of this century. […] China, at a “more comfortable” place this time – with its pledge to peak carbon emissions around 2030 and US$3.1 billion funding for developing countries – appeared to dig in to positions more firmly than many had anticipated, the observers said. Chinese officials did want to secure a robust international climate deal because it could help force much-needed economic restructuring, but often didn’t have the flexibility to say anything but “no” to proposals they didn’t like. Some delegates admitted that China needed to find a better way to communicate the country’s position and improve its international standing.// Source: SCMP, 13 December 2015.
- Christian Egenhofer from Centre for European Policy Studies agreed that the US, the EU, and China were playing essential role in realizing the climate agreement, and the success of climate change abatement relies on their future cooperation: //欧洲政策研究中心（CEPS）能源与气候项目主任克里斯汀·艾恩胡弗（Christian Egenhofer）对本报记者表示，全球决心步入温室气体减排、排放达到峰值然后持续降低的过程，并且会最终淘汰化石燃料的使用，这是前所未有的成果。 该协议的达成，中国、美国与欧盟的领导作用必不可少。未来应对气候变化要取得进步，需要依靠上述三方的合作。//Source: Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, 16 Dececmber 2015.
- President of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Wang Weiguang (王伟光, 中国社会科学院院长) and Administrator of China Meteorological Administration Zheng Guoguang （郑国光, 国气象局局长）in an article emphasized the historical responsibility of developed countries for climate change. They also argued that the agreement made in Paris should uphold the ‘common but differentiated principle’, principle of fairness, and principle of contribution according to capability. They also urged developed countries to honour their obligation to provide money and technology.
- //20世纪90年代初，发达国家二氧化碳年排放量占全球排放的66%；而到了2012年，其占全球排放总量的份额下降到4%。尽管如此，其历史排放格局总体未有大的变化。18501990年发达国家累积二氧化碳排放占全球排放的82%，2011年仍高达71%。发达国家的累积排放量仍然高于发展中国家，说明发达国家在应对气候变化国际合作进程中承担主要责任和义务的基础尚未发生改变。另外，人均排放格局差异仍然巨大。发达国家自20世纪70年代以来，人均二氧化碳排放一直保持在10吨左右，同期，发展中国家人均排放仅为2吨左右，2003年以来略有增长，到2012年人均二氧化碳排放约3.2吨，与发达国家尚存在巨大的差距。因此，在气候治理国际合作中，各国既要积极主动自主减排，为减缓全球变暖做出贡献，也要强调在减少温室气体排放国际合作中遵循公约“共同但有区别的责任原则”，重点即发达国家要承担历史责任。[…] 中国正在大力推进生态文明建设，以求实现绿色低碳、气候适应型和可持续发展。2014年，我国单位国内生产总值能耗和二氧化碳排放分别比2005年下降29.9%和33.8%，“十二五”节能减排约束性指标可以顺利完成，我国已成为世界节能和利用新能源、可再生能源第一大国，为全球应对气候变化做出了实实在在的贡献。2014年11月，中美发表了应对气候变化联合声明，中美各自提出了2020年后应对气候变化行动目标；2015年以来，中国与印度、巴西、欧盟分别发布了中印、中巴（西）、中欧应对气候变化联合声明。作为全球最大的两大经济体与碳排放国，中美于2015年9月再次发布联合声明为巴黎气候大会注入新的动力。求同存异、促成巴黎大会达成共识是国际社会的共同期望，巴黎气候协议不应只是一份减排协议，而应遵循全面、平衡地反映减缓、适应、资金、技术转让、能力建设、行动和支持透明度等各个要素。协议应该全面遵循公约的原则和规定，特别是“共同但有区别的责任原则”、公平原则和各自能力原则。发达国家要履行在资金和技术方面的义务。//Source: 财经国家周刊, 11 December 2015.
- He Jingjun, an associate professor from the Southwest University of Political Science and Law (和静钧, 西南政法大学) praised the role played by China in reaching the agreement on climate change and also suggested that it indicated the increased strength of China in global governance.
- // 《巴黎协议》的达成，彰显了中国的全球治理能力的提升。正如美国国务卿克里单独提及中国，赞赏其建设性参与时说的一样，“这一次，一个发展中国家开启了大门”。中国基于已经成为全球排放大国的事实，没有过多地纠缠于工业发达国家的“历史责任”，也没有以“共同但有区别”责任为保护来推诿全球领导者角色的期待，更没有把协议视为阻挠自身发展的负面安排。中国承诺于2030年前排放达到峰值，并争取尽早达到峰值，清晰地向全球发出了利用清洁能源和可再生资源以达到可持续发展的共同愿望。 在巴黎大会的峰会期间，中美领导人密切沟通，在巴黎大会进入马拉松式的谈判过程中，中美领导人再次通过电话会谈方式协调行动。在一度传出排除中印的“雄心联盟”等传闻之时，中国表现沉稳，态度积极，主动配合，这一切都显示出了中国作为大国的担当与参与并引领全球治理的能力。// Source: China Economic Net, 16 December 2015.
- Researcher at Unirule Institute of Economics Wan jun (王军, 天则经济研究所) argued that the media coverage on climate change in China did not match the importance of the issue compared to foreign media coverage, attributing this phenomenon to the mainland censorship of media, underdevelopment of environmental NGOs, and culture of the Chinese people.
- // 与国际媒体对气候变化问题持续的高曝光率相比，中国官方媒体和学者对气候问题的关注可谓不冷不热，这似乎与“稳居”温室气体最大排放国（这是导致气候变化的主因）的我们，有些不太相称。这究竟何故？表面上看，中国是重视气候变化问题的。如中国政府曾发布《中国应对气候变化的政策与行动》的白皮书等法律文件，今年中国最高领导人还出席了巴黎气候变化峰会。不过，好像只有在每年一度的联合国气候变化大会期间，中国媒体才肯对气候问题腾出一些版面，而报道的强度也总是与参会领导人的职位高低成正比。[…] 如果考虑到中国政府对新闻媒体近乎严苛的审查制度，特别是中国关注环境问题的非政府组织发育的严重滞后，我们便不难理解为什么中国媒体对气候变化问题的关注度远不及国外同行了。其实，来自发达世界的经验告诉我们，对于环境保护这样的公共问题，应该允许最广泛社会公众包括媒体的参与。公共问题，公共参与，这符合逻辑。这不仅不会造成混乱，相反，还会促进政府的环保工作，成为政府不可或缺的难得补充。例如，近年中国环保部门和公众对雾霾以及5的觉醒正是源于民间力量的推动。 中国对气候变化问题关注不够的另一原因，也许还可以从文化角度来加以解释。例如，中国传统文化中大概只有此岸的概念，极少涉及彼岸世界。于是，在一些国人眼中，相对遥远的未来威胁也许根本就不值一提，正所谓“事不关己高高挂起”，而“人到山前必有路”的乐观逻辑也总可以打消我们对于未来的不安和忧虑。// Source: Financial Times (Chinese Edition), 09 December 2015.
- Cary Huang, a commentator from the SCMP, summarized the discussion on climate change on China’s social and state media. He argued that the level of severity of air pollution in Beijing pushed China to make a deal in the climate summit in Paris: //As social media was filled with pictures of blanketed skylines and criticism of the government’s failure to improve the situation, state media used the global summit to trumpet rising public awareness and government action. Internet users ridiculed the timing of China’s latest disaster. Some suggested the global climate summit should be held in Beijing rather than in Paris. Echoing public anger, the party-run Global Times said smog was one of the most hated aspects of pollution among the Chinese people. « This rising [public] awareness will help facilitate the climate agenda, » its English edition said. China Daily said that « the municipal government cannot shirk its responsibility to do whatever it can to mitigate as much as possible the harm smog may cause to residents’ health ». Public outrage over air pollution has been a catalyst behind the change of the government’s attitude toward the issue, with China taking an active role in seeking a breakthrough in Paris. […] Collusion between business and officials is common, given the lack of transparency in governance, the lack of press freedom and the lack of public oversight of officials. The Beijing News cited British success in fighting smog as an example China should follow, but failed to say that London and counterparts such as Paris and Los Angeles resolved the issue only after constant protests, widespread media coverage and fierce debate in legislatures.// Source: SCMP, 06 December 2015.
World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, China
- The theme of the World Internet Conference this year is “An interconnected world shared and governed by all: building a community of common future in cyberspace”.
- //这是习近平首次出席世界互联网大会。去年的首届世界互联网大会，习近平向大会致贺词，表示互联网日益成为创新驱动发展的先导力量，并倡导共同构建和平、安全、开放、合作的网络空间，建立多边、民主、透明的国际互联网治理体系。昨天上午，国务院新闻办举行新闻发布会，国信办主任鲁炜，浙江省委常委、宣传部长葛慧君等介绍第二届世界互联网大会情况。[…] 本届世界互联网大会将于12月16日至18日在浙江乌镇举行，大会主题是：“互联互通共享共治——构建网络空间命运共同体”。 鲁炜介绍，大会设置了10场论坛、22个议题，涉及网络文化传播、互联网创新发展、数字经济合作、互联网技术标准、网络空间治理等前沿热点问题。// Source: The Beijing News, 10 December 2015.
- //Xi is scheduled to attend the event and make the opening speech, reflecting the importance the authorities attach to the internet as a source of economic development. More than 2,000 participants from 120 countries and regions are due to take part in the conference, including eight foreign leaders and close to 50 ministerial-level officials. […] Addressing the media last week, Lu Wei, the head of the Cyberspace Administration of China admitted that mainland authorities had strengthened control over the internet, especially in cracking down on online rumours and cybercrimes. Lu said censors would only block posts that violated national laws or infringed on the rights and interests of others.// Source: SCMP, 15 December 2015.
- //中国互联网络信息中心（CNNIC）第36次全国互联网发展统计报告明确显示，截至6月我国网民总数已达68亿人，占全球网民总人数五分之一。尤其令人振奋的是，“十二五”期间中国互联网经济在GDP中占比持续攀升，2014年已达7%，占比超过美国。体量如此庞大，也意味着全球任何国家都不可小觑来自中国的互联网力量。[…] 仅就网络安全而言，其就必须加强国际合作。网络必须有网防，互联网时代国家主权已经从领土、领空、领海等领域拓展到了“信息边疆”。习近平在中央网络安全和信息化领导小组第一次会议上也已明确指出，没有网络安全就没有国家安全，没有信息化就没有现代化。如何防范网络侵入，无疑需要世界各国坐下来讨论，制定相关规则，共同构建和平、安全、开放、合作的网络空间。[…] 在治理互联网过程中，需要各国增强互联互通，实现合作共治。 // Source: Xinhua, 15 December 2015.
- In the development of global Internet governance, President Xi Jinping proposed that the international community should respect Internet sovereignty, maintain Internet security, facilitate international collaboration, and keep a good balance between freedom and order in the cyberspace. For highlights of his speech in English, please find here prepared by Xinhua.
- //推进全球互联网治理体系变革，应该坚持以下一些原则。 ——尊重网络主权。《联合国宪章》确立的主权平等原则是当代国际关系的基本准则，覆盖国与国交往各个领域，其原则和精神也应该适用于网络空间。我们应该尊重各国自主选择网络发展道路、网络管理模式、互联网公共政策和平等参与国际网络空间治理的权利，不搞网络霸权，不干涉他国内政，不从事、纵容或支持危害他国国家安全的网络活动。——维护和平安全。一个安全稳定繁荣的网络空间，对各国乃至世界都具有重大意义。在现实空间，战火硝烟仍未散去，恐怖主义阴霾难除，违法犯罪时有发生。网络空间，不应成为各国角力的战场，更不能成为违法犯罪的温床。各国应该共同努力，防范和反对利用网络空间进行的恐怖、淫秽、贩毒、洗钱、赌博等犯罪活动。不论是商业窃密，还是对政府网络发起黑客攻击，都应该根据相关法律和国际公约予以坚决打击。维护网络安全不应有双重标准，不能一个国家安全而其他国家不安全，一部分国家安全而另一部分国家不安全，更不能以牺牲别国安全谋求自身所谓绝对安全。——促进开放合作。“天下兼相爱则治，交相恶则乱。”完善全球互联网治理体系，维护网络空间秩序，必须坚持同舟共济、互信互利的理念，摈弃零和博弈、赢者通吃的旧观念。各国应该推进互联网领域开放合作，丰富开放内涵，提高开放水平，搭建更多沟通合作平台，创造更多利益契合点、合作增长点、共赢新亮点，推动彼此在网络空间优势互补、共同发展，让更多国家和人民搭乘信息时代的快车、共享互联网发展成果。——构建良好秩序。网络空间同现实社会一样，既要提倡自由，也要保持秩序。自由是秩序的目的，秩序是自由的保障。我们既要尊重网民交流思想、表达意愿的权利，也要依法构建良好网络秩序，这有利于保障广大网民合法权益。网络空间不是“法外之地”。网络空间是虚拟的，但运用网络空间的主体是现实的，大家都应该遵守法律，明确各方权利义务。要坚持依法治网、依法办网、依法上网，让互联网在法治轨道上健康运行。同时，要加强网络伦理、网络文明建设，发挥道德教化引导作用，用人类文明优秀成果滋养网络空间、修复网络生态。//Source: Caixin, 16 December 2015.
China’s plan to build 10 new megacities in the future
- //China needs 10 new megacities – each with top schools, hospitals and corporate headquarters – to ease the strain on Beijing, a top economic planner has said. Public services were simply too concentrated in the capital, which meant more people were flocking there to live, worsening pollution and gridlock, Yang Weimin told a forum in Chongqing on the weekend. Yang, who is the deputy chair of the Central Leading Group on Finance and Economic Affairs, supported the government’s urbanisation plan for 2014-2020, calling for megacities to be established in the northeast, central and western areas. […] The mainland has six megacities – Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Tianjin and Chongqing – all with a population of 10 million or more. But troubled by traffic and smog, they are tightening growth and moving some of its facilities to other areas.// Source: SCMP, 14 December 2015.
Calling for more cooperation with members of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on urbanization
- //Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday called for more cooperation with member and observer states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on urbanization. […] Calling urbanization « the biggest domestic demand in China, » Li said the central and western part of China enjoy huge potential for development. He said China will promote a people-centered urbanization and expand domestic demand through reform and innovation, so as to inject impetus into economic growth and provide opportunities for cooperation with other countries. China is willing to explore cooperation with SCO member and observer states on promoting new urbanization especially in central and western China, Li said.// Source: Xinhua, 16 December 2015.
Beijing’s plan to introduce new scoring system to gain household registration (hukou) in the city
- //A proposed points system that the capital’s government is considering using when giving permanent resident status to migrants will push up living costs by attracting high earners while driving away less-skilled workers, an expert has said. Beijing’s government released a draft plan on December 10 that would introduce a scoring system similar to the merit-based points scheme for people who move to the United States so that migrants can get household registration documents known as hukou if they meet certain criteria. […] Nie Riming, a professor at the Shanghai Institute of Finance and Law, said the policy is apparently designed to benefit highly skilled workers, and added that the difficult criteria mean few people employed in construction, commerce and service industries will get a hukou, which gets the bearer a range of public services such as health care and education. The change would ultimately mean services and goods will become more expensive in Beijing, pushing up the cost of living in the long run, he said. […] Efforts to revamp the residence registration system coincide with the capital’s desire to limit population growth. The overcrowded capital is home to 21.5 million people. The city wants the figure to stand at no more than 23 million in 2020, but it’s targets have been missed before.//Source: Caixin, 14 December 2015.
- //根据北京市法制办公布的《积分落户办法(征求意见稿)》，北京市积分落户的申请人，需同时符合持有北京市居住证、年龄不超过45周岁、在京连续缴纳社会保险7年及以上、符合本市计划生育政策、无违法犯罪记录等5项条件，才有资格参加积分落户。 […] 对于能够落户的重要条件——积分指标，北京市《积分落户办法(征求意见稿)》由三项基础指标和七项导向指标构成，其中教育背景、纳税指标、职住区域等项目分数较高。// Source: Caixin, 14 Decemeber 2015.
- Kam Wing Chan, a professor of geography at the University of Washington, drew our attention to the effect of limiting population size in big cities on migrant workers and their children: //Under China’s latest hukou reform, big cities are being asked to limit their population size-despite the new two-child-policy-by stringently restricting migration. Many city governments are jumping on the opportunity to further curb migrant children’s access to education, resulting in tens of thousands losing their spots in city schools and many more remaining in villages. This has led to protests by migrants in several cities since last year. The measure to purge migrant children from cities have produced highly skewed age structures in many big cities.// Source: SCMP (Print Edition), 16 December 2015.
Protest for compensation by parents who lost their single child
- Parents who had lost their only children asked for greater compensation from the government and better protection of retirement life. For pictures, see here by Caixin.
- //丧失独生子女的父母本周在北京举行抗议，要求获得更大补偿，这突显了中国最近取消的一胎化政策的深远后果之一。大约700名父母周二在国家卫生和计划生育委员会门前聚集，周三仍有一部分人坚持着，官员们护送很多人回了家乡。抗议者要求给予“失独”父母养老补偿，并将这一条写入允许所有夫妇生育两个孩子的新规定。中国在10月下旬宣布“二孩政策”，但尚未颁布法规变化。没有孩子可以依靠的父母的养老问题，对北京方面是一个致命弱点。北京方面从上世纪80年代初开始实行一胎化政策，动用的手段包括强制堕胎，对女性做绝育手术，毁坏房屋，剥夺工作机会，以及剥夺家人抚养婴儿的权利。服从的夫妇则被许以奖金和社会主义制度下从摇篮到坟墓的终身“铁饭碗”保障。[…] 尽管中国近年试图建立一个全国性的社会安全网，但上世纪90年代以来很多国有企业破产，以及农村缺乏正式养老金制度意味着，大多数中国老人依靠家人养老。// Source: Financial Times (Chinese edition), 03 December 2015.
Rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强) was charged of ‘creating disturbance’ (寻衅滋事) and ‘inciting ethnic hatred’ (煽动民族仇恨)
- Pu was charged on the basis of his seven messages on the Chinese social media Sina Weibo. Please find here for the content of the seven tweets in English prepared by Quartz.
- //Pu Zhiqiang, one of China’s best-known human rights lawyers, was an outspoken Internet commentator on the Twitter-like microblogging site Sina Weibo. Since attending a seminar on the the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests last May, Pu has been criminally detained without a trail. Beijing prosecutors indicted Pu in May on charges of “inciting ethnic hatred” and “creating a disturbance” for about 30 of his Weibo posts (paywall) while dropped the other two charges of “inciting separatism” and “illegally obtaining personal information.” On Tuesday (Dec. 8), the prosecution said for the first time that the charges against Pu—which could carry an eight-year jail sentence—are now based on just seven of his tweets. In them, Pu mocks Communist Party officials and criticizes government policy in Buddhist-heavy Tibet and Muslim-heavy Xinjiang.// Source: Quartz, 09 December 2015.
- Current Affairs Commentator from Global Times Dan renping (单仁平) argued that Pu’s case received much western attention because the western powers are in collaboration with the rights activists to pursue their own political agenda, and it is of vital importance for the Chinese court to rule according to its own standard, not the western’s.
- //西方舆论施加压力，显然是想让中国法官对浦案的裁量跳到它们提供的“普世”角度上，西方视角的背后是它们的政治利益，推送它们的原则，就是推送西方利益的隐蔽方式。中国国内有少数异见人士在类似司法争议中与西方力量结为同盟，从他们的策略角度看这也可以理解。[…] 然而浦案发生在中国，中国司法体系必须是裁量此案的绝对主导者，中国法律规定和相关证据是破解此案模糊性的唯一依据。这必须是浦案诉讼的起点和终点。浦案外围缠绕了大量政治因素，法官们应当有能力跳出它们，依法该怎么审理就怎么审理，该怎么判决就怎么判决。不用考虑“政治正确性”，也不用推测怎么判舆论的反对声可能最小。法官们不妨“任性”些：只要依法有据，我们认为就该这样判，嫌轻嫌重随你们说去。如果判得“重”，西方舆论肯定会跳起来。如果判得“轻”，那些舆论又会得意地认为它们“起了作用”。国内在两种情况下也都会有人不满。中国法院在这类案件中必须非常坚决，无论怎么判都是中国法律自己的事，之前的悬念也处在中国法律体系内。西方喜欢围观，随它们的便。// Source: Global Times, 09 December 2015.
- Zhang Qianfan （张千帆）, a professor from the Law School of Beijing University, argued that there is no legal grounds for Pu’s charges to be substantiated as what he said in his tweets on Weibo is within the boundary of freedom of expression guaranteed by China’s Constitution.
- //12月14日，北京市第二中级法院开庭审理了备受关注的浦志强案。从浦志强被逮捕之日算起，该案已经历18个月之久，而起诉罪名从四个减为两个——“煽动民族仇恨”和“寻衅滋事”，起诉书所用的证据——被告发表的微博言论——则从30多条减为7条。至此，浦志强案已经完全变成一桩纯粹的言论案，而浦案判决则将向世人昭示中国宪法第35条规定的言论自由是否有实际意义。[…] 2013年5月27日，最高法院与最高检察院联合发布《关于办理寻衅滋事刑事案件适用法律若干问题的解释》。根据其第5条对“公共场所”的解释，我在文章中特别指出：为防止“寻衅滋事”成为“口袋罪”，应严格界定“公共场所秩序严重混乱”等法律要件。只有当言论确实严重扰乱了现实公共场所的秩序，相关行为才可能构成“寻衅滋事”；而要构成“严重混乱”，言论所产生的危害必须是清楚和即刻发生的。换言之，要证明浦志强的微博构成《刑法》第293条意义上的“寻衅滋事”，必须提出充分证据表明这些微博在实体“公共场所”产生了严重混乱，譬如大量人群因为这些微博而聚集在“车站、码头、机场、医院、商场、公园、影剧院、展览会、运动场或者其他公共场所”，只有网民在网络虚拟空间的争论或围观显然是不够的。[…] 其次，关于涉嫌“煽动民族仇恨”的微博列举了4条，其中有针对藏区寺庙“九有”、禁止穆斯林戴面纱等宗教政策，以及针对昆明暴恐事件与宗教政策之间的关联，认为“疆独”势力是有关领导在治理新疆期间的不合理宗教政策造成。这些言论也许对、也许不对，但是显然不构成“煽动民族仇恨”。《刑法》第249条规定了“煽动民族仇恨”罪，“情节严重”者可被判处三年以下有期徒刑。和网络“寻衅滋事”一样，“煽动民族仇恨”罪也必须在尊重宪法言论自由的大原则之下得到解释与界定。言论自由的宪法原则要求，只有当相关言论产生严重、清楚和即刻发生的现实危险时，才能依法受到禁止或惩罚。中共中央总书记习近平在上任之初即指出：“宪法的生命在于实施，宪法的权威也在于实施。”浦志强案是一个标准的宪法案例，北京二中院的判决将直接检验政府依宪治国的诚信。如果尊重公民的言论自由，那么不仅被告得以获得自由，而且政府形象和法院威信也将因为尊重宪法而得到大幅度提升；反之，则宪法承诺将再次落空，法院判决将因为藐视宪法而增添一个司法污点，而政府形象也将再度受到贬损。既如此，何不将浦志强案判成一个尊重言论自由、信守宪法承诺、彰显政府诚信、提高司法权威的良好先例？// Financial Times (Chinese Edition), 15 December 2015.
- Referring to the prosecution of women activists in March 2015, Jerome Cohen, a professor and co-director of the US-Asia Law Institute at New York University School of Law, argued that rights campaigners deserve Beijing’s support in the pursuit of “rule of law”.
- //Although a veteran observer of Chinese efforts to secure a just and stable legal system, I was surprised when Chinese police formally detained five women opponents of sexual harassment ahead of International Women’s Day. […] Although ambiguous, “rule of law” at a minimum suggests that the government should not persecute those who seek to reasonably support its laws and policies. Of course, every country’s legal system needs to be rooted in local conditions. “Rule of law” in China need not mean precisely what it means in the United States or elsewhere: part of what it means to be a sovereign nation is for that nation to define its own laws, guided by its own values. Inevitably, “rule of law” in China is currently guided by the pre-eminent importance of ensuring stability and private compliance with public rules.// Source: SCMP, 26 March 2015.
- On 22 December 2015, Pu was found guilty of the charges by the court and received three years of jail sentence. It is a suspended sentence and Pu does not need to go to jail immediately, but he will lose his lawyer’s license as a result of the verdict：//A Beijing court on Tuesday handed down a three-year suspended jail sentence to Pu Zhiqiang, one of China’s most outspoken human rights lawyers, for posting online comments critical of the Communist Party. Pu would be released in days but would no longer able to practise law, his lawyer Shang Baojun said. The Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court found Pu, 50, guilty of “inciting ethnic hatred” and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” but gave him a three-year reprieve, Shang said. Pu’s lawyer’s licence would be permanently revoked as convicted lawyers were barred from practising, he said.// Source: SCMP, 22 December 2015.
Labour NGO leaders detained in Guangdong
- Labour NGO leaders, Zeng Feiyang (曾飛洋) from the Guangdong Panyu Migrant Worker Centre (番禺打工族), Zhu Xiaomei (朱小梅) from Xiangyanghua Service Centre (向陽花女工服務中心), He Xiaobo (何曉波) from Nanfeiyan (南飛雁), Deng Xiaoming (鄧小明) from Guangzhou Haige Labor Center (廣州海哥勞工服務部) and Peng Jiayong (彭家勇) from Panyu Workers’ Mutual Assistance Group (勞動者互助小組) were detained in early December. For detail of the their profiles and background, please see this article on ChinaChange.
- //12月4日，在失聯近一天後，廣東番禺打工族服務部的曾飛洋和朱小梅家屬分別接到通知，二人因涉嫌聚眾擾亂社會秩序罪被刑事拘留，羈押在廣州市第一看守所。此外，勞工工傷維權NGO佛山市南飛雁社會工作服務中心負責人何曉波因涉嫌職務侵佔罪，被刑事拘留，現羈押在佛山市南海區看守所。這是兩家機構在近一年來，因為支持工人維權，被切斷境外資金來源、停止政府項目、負責人被限制出境之後，遭遇的最嚴重打擊。[…] 涉案機構之中，廣東番禺打工族服務部成立於1998年，長期關注工人權益、勞工服務等工作。南飛雁社會工作服務中心於2007年開始活動，2012年在民政局正式登記註冊，是廣東佛山唯一一家勞工工傷維權NGO。番禺區向陽花社工服務中心在2012年9月完成登記註冊，其初衷是為女工提供一個學習培訓和生活交流的空間，在13年3月以後，逐漸開始轉向女工權益。陳輝海本人長期擔任工人維權義工，其機構海哥勞工服務部於2014年11月成立，致力於推動勞資集體談判。[…] 四家勞工機構的工作內容各有側重，但均觸及工人權利問題。除去工人維權組織常遭遇的人身威脅之外，這幾家機構在2015年頻頻遭遇政府壓力。2015年1月1日正式實施的廣州市《社會組織管理辦法》規定，NGO如接受境外資金捐助，需提前至少15日向登記機關及相關部門書面報告。早在2014年9月，中國國家安全部已通知番禺打工族服務部，不能接受香港勞工權益組織中國勞工通訊的資金，而這是他們當時唯一的資金來源。從去年9月起，主任曾飛洋也被邊控，無法離開大陸。失去基金會支持後，打工族服務部還在繼續為勞工提供服務。[…] 政府明顯收緊對勞工機構態度的同時，隨着國內經濟的下行，工廠倒閉與勞資糾紛問題日趨嚴重。根據中國勞工通訊的統計，今年10月和11月，廣東省的罷工抗議事件創造了新高，7月的時候有23起事件，10月達到了52起，十一月更是達到56起，相當數量的事件是由工廠倒閉引起的。對於這一事件，國內多位勞工專家表示不能發表意見。香港勞工通訊負責人韓東方認為，此番打擊背後的黑手非總工會莫屬，其目的則是阻撓工會改革，從而保住工會官僚的既得利益。目前，廣東省深圳市、東莞市等地勞工組織還未受到這一事件的波及，但勞工機構負責人均密切關注事態的發展。// Source: The Initium, 05 December 2015.
- Near a hundred of NGO workers, academics and citizens signed an open “suggestion letter” to the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, National People’s Congress, and the State Council, protesting against the recent arrest and urging the authority to recognize the importance of labour NGOs.
- //今天（12月10日），近百名NGO工作者、學者和公民在一封致中共當局“中共中央、全國人大、國務院”三大機構的聯署“建議書”上簽名，抗議當局最近對勞工NGO工作者的抓捕，並試圖勸喻當局接受勞工NGO在中國當下的必要性。12月3日上午開始至5日深夜，廣州和佛山兩地至少6個勞工權益組織大約二十幾人被警方帶走、傳喚或者問話。目前，已證實的有番禺打工族服務部負責人曾飛洋和朱小梅、廣州海哥勞工服務部職員鄧小明、勞動者互助小組負責人彭家勇、佛山市“南飛雁”負責人何曉波等5人，被以涉嫌“聚眾擾亂社會秩序罪”或“職務侵占罪”等罪名刑事拘留，另有勞工NGO職員孟晗和志願者湯建兩人仍被關押，罪名不明。//Source: RFI, 12 December 2015.
- Zeng Feiyang was not able to meet his lawyer, citing concerns for national security: // Zeng’s lawyer, Cheng Zhunqiang, attempted to visit his client at the Guangzhou No. 1 Detention Centre on Wednesday morning but was barred by the police officers on duty. They claimed the Panyu District Public Security Bureau (the unit responsible for Zeng’s case) had ordered them to refuse the visit. When Cheng pointed out that the police had no right to ban lawyers from seeing their clients, the police changed their tune and said Zeng’s case was a matter of national security.// Source: China Labour Bulletin, 11 December 2015.
- Background of the detentions: //The Guangdong authorities have detained at least three influential labour rights activists in a wide-ranging crackdown amid the mainland’s economic slowdown and escalating industrial tensions. […] This is the largest crackdown targeting labour rights activists in recent years. It follows a nationwide crackdown against rights lawyers in July when at least 248 people were taken away, detained or arrested. As China’s economic growth slows, tens of thousands of migrant workers in Guangdong province have staged protests over the past months demanding that employers settle unpaid social insurance payments before closing down or relocating to more remote regions away from the Pearl River Delta. Mainland labour NGOs provide a service upholding workers rights that the government-affiliated All-China Federation of Trade Unions fails to provide, but they remain in a legal grey area because they are denied official registration as NGOs. // Source: SCMP, 06 December 2015.
- //The number of strikes more than doubled in 2014 to 1,378 from 656 the year before, according to China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based advocacy group. April saw the biggest strike in decades, when about 40,000 employees of Adidas and Nike supplier Yue Yuen went on strike to demand social insurance payments. All of which is making work for labor activists such as Zeng Feiyang and Zhang Zhiru, while social media platforms such as WeChat, QQ and Sina Weibo are making it easier for word of industrial action to spread. It is also increasing activists’ run-ins with the police and others in a country where officials see strikes as a threat to social stability, and investors often see workers’ rights as a threat to their wallets. […] Activists say the police appear particularly concerned about groups receiving money from outside China. “The police come to see us regularly. Their main objection is to our foreign funding,” said an employee of advocacy group Beijing On Action International Cultural Centre who asked not to be named. As a result of such pressure, the organization has stopped most of its work on labor rights.// Source: Reuter, 21 January 2015.
- An open letter by Nanfeiyan in October 2015 points out the change of the environment for labor NGOs in China: // “In July 2011, Wang Yang (汪洋), the then Party Secretary of Guangdong, put forth the ‘social construction’ doctrine during the 9th plenary meeting of the 10th Party Committee of Guangdong. … In March 2012, secretary Wang Yang came to Gaoming District in Foshan to conduct field studies for innovation in social management. He asked a manager of a company, who’s also a Party member: ‘If workers, wanting to have better benefits, come to odds with the factory, whose side will you lean to?’ The Guangdong government embraced the new social management concept in response to the increasingly acute confrontations between workers and their employers seen in the Pearl River Delta. As a result, in 2012, many NGOs in Guangdong, including Nanfeiyan, blossomed as never before: many groups were able to obtain NGO registration, and receive government funding to provide services. Between 2013-2014, Nanfeiyan also began to receive government funding for operating social work programs. However, the conditions changed abruptly at the end of 2014. The vibrant and innovative atmosphere for social management quickly withered. At first, the government suddenly cut funding for NGOs, including Nanfeiyan. Then, in the new social management regulations to be promulgated, the government made it very difficult for us to obtain foreign funding. On top of that, from around the end of 2014 to early 2015, we felt the government began to tighten control on, and suppress, a select group of NGOs. Our space for survival has sunk to its lowest, and we’re on the brink of extinction.”// Source: ChinaChange, 10 December 2015.
- Dr. Anita Chan, Research Professor at the China Research Centre of the University of Technology, Sydney, argued that the rise of labour incidences is a result of the failure of the official union in China to act on behalf of the workers. She observed that the labour strikes were all directed against the factory management but not the state: //In many workplace disputes, according to CLB’s research brief on China’s labor movement, labor unrest has outgrown the ACFTU bureaucracy, which typically serves to neutralize disputes on management’s behalf. In recent years, workers “have been perfectly able and willing to bypass the trade union entirely and organize strikes and protests themselves in their pursuit of better pay and conditions.” “The union doesn’t do anything” to promote workers’ interests, according to Hong Kong–based labor scholar Anita Chan. A lack of strong unions, she adds, is one reason groups like Dagongzu have approached labor relations through “legalistic” rather than militant means. Over the past decade of reform-era union activity, Chan says, grassroots organizing has been impeded by an oppressive political climate. Even in larger worker uprisings, such as last year’s massive Yue Yuen shoe-factory strikes, protests have been co-opted by union officialdom or quashed by authorities, and haven’t engendered sustainable autonomous organizing campaigns. “All these strikes, they’re directed against management, not against the state,” she observes.// Source: The Nation, 18 December 2015.
Acquisition of SCMP by the Alibaba’s Group
- //On Friday, the company announced that it would attempt to directly reshape global news coverage of China, which it says is too negative, by buying the media assets of the SCMP Group, including The South China Morning Post, a careworn English-language broadsheet in Hong Kong. […] Alibaba has agreed to pay $266 million in the deal, a small outlay for the company, which has annual revenue of $12 billion. But the political reverberations could range far beyond the sale price.// Source: New York Times, 13 December 2015.
- The Letter to readers of the South China Morning Post from Alibaba’s executive vice chairman Joseph Tsai explained the acquisition: //We see a compelling business case for the acquisition because we believe that Alibaba is best positioned to take the SCMP to the next level. […]Yet, the news business is in a state of flux. It has already gone digital and is now moving from online destination to other forms of distribution, in particular social media and mobile. Media now has a global audience and the challenge is to reach it in the most efficient and reader-friendly way. With proven expertise in digital distribution, especially on mobile devices, Alibaba is in an excellent position to leverage technology to create content more efficiently and expand distribution without borders. […] Our vision is to grow the readership globally. We believe we can do this because the SCMP, from its base in Hong Kong, is uniquely positioned to report on China with objectivity, depth and insight, a proposition that is in high demand by readers around the English-speaking world – from New York to London to its home in Hong Kong – who care to better understand the world’s second-largest economy. […] Further, the SCMP will stay close to its roots, with a strong China focus offering distinctive and informed analysis on trade, business, economy and society while maintaining its status as the paper of record for Hong Kong. Some have suggested that ownership by Alibaba will compromise the SCMP’s editorial independence. This criticism reflects a bias of its own, as if to say newspaper owners must espouse certain views, while those that hold opposing views are “unfit”. In fact, that is exactly why we think the world needs a plurality of views when it comes to China coverage. […] In reporting the news, the SCMP will be objective, accurate and fair. This means having the courage to go against conventional wisdom, and taking care to verify stories, check sources and seek all viewpoints. These day-to-day editorial decisions will be driven by editors in the newsroom, not in the corporate boardroom.// Source: SCMP, 11 December 2015
- In an interview, Alibaba’s executive vice chairman Joseph Tsai said in response to SCMP reporter’s question about how SCMP will deal with sensitive issues in China under Alibaba: //There are going to be situations when sensitive topics are being covered. But we think coverage should be objective, balanced and fair. That’s the principle. I don’t think there is anything wrong with seeing things from a certain perspective. Our perspective is this: China is important, China is a rising economy. It is the second-largest economy in the world. People should learn more about China. The coverage about China should be balanced and fair. Today when I see mainstream western news organisations cover China, they cover it through a very particular lens. It is through the lens that China is a communist state and everything kind of follows from that. A lot of journalists working with these western media organisations may not agree with the system of governance in China and that taints their view of coverage. We see things differently, we believe things should be presented as they are. Present facts, tell the truth, and that is the principle that we are going to operate on.// Source: SCMP, 11 December 2015.
- //“This is a good thing,” said Wang Wen, a researcher at Renmin University in Beijing and a former editor at Global Times, a popular Chinese tabloid that often criticizes the Western media. “This is an attempt by the country’s social power to alter the country’s image,” he added, referring to private corporations and others outside the direct control of the state. […] Since it returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, Hong Kong has preserved its own legal system and freedoms of expression that are unthinkable in mainland China. But many journalists say the exercise of those freedoms has become increasingly compromised, often by self-censorship. A journalist at The South China Morning Post, who requested anonymity in fear of being punished for speaking out, said that even before the sale to Alibaba there was a pattern of editors at the paper rejecting, shrinking or underplaying stories that might irk Beijing. “I think this is really the last straw on the camel’s back,” the journalist said about the sale to Alibaba.//Source: New York Times, 13 December 2015.
- Chan King cheung, the former editor-in-chief of the Hong Kong Economic Journal, pointed out that Alibaba’s Group has been active in acquiring media companies in the Mainland over the past years. It is its first time to take over an English-medium newspaper with a history of over 100 years old. He argued that the Alibaba’s takeover will make SCMP more a mainland’s media than a Hong Kong’s one as it will become less critical of China.
- //首先這宗交易阿里有賺，說的不是生意，而是一份過百年的老牌英文報紙，品牌好、在亞洲區有知名度，這樣的媒體，在中國大陸根本找不到。第二，阿里近年積極收購媒體，先後入股了二十多家傳媒公司，逐步打造一個傳媒王國，把內容結合它的網絡強勢，進一步擴大阿里的影響力。然而，阿里能買的主要是內地中文媒體，而南早在香港，又是英文，在國際主流媒體中間可以爭取話語權，這正是中國政府近年積極「走出去」想做但佷難做到的，南早在這方面可發揮很大作用。第三，阿里入主之後，南早是徹底染紅了，從此南早是一家內地媒體多於一家香港媒體，它過去擁有的一些特質，相信也會逐漸消失於無形。在香港做媒體的人都知道，南早有很獨特的地方；回歸前，它是港英政府的「傳聲筒」，很多政府的重要訊息和觀點都透過南早發放。回歸之後，南早明顯失去了這個優勢，但它對特區政府和內地政治的評論仍然有相當批判性，這也許跟南早是英文媒體，可以跟本地中文傳媒有所不同，在言論空間上有較大的自由。但這只是回歸初期的情况，近十年經歷多任總編輯、中國新聞主管換人，南早的編採方針已明顯收緊。// Source: MingPao, 14 December 2015
- In addition to the news above, there is a conversation on ChinaFile to discuss whether an Alibaba ‘Morning Post’ can Aid China’s Image Overseas.
Debate about the abuse of judicial review in Hong Kong
- Ex-Court of Final Appeal judge Henry Litton accused Hong Kong’s judiciary of allowing misuse of the judicial review system: //A distinguished former top judge has launched a stinging attack on Hong Kong’s legal system, lashing out at how judicial reviews were being “misused” and some judgments “so obscure” that no one could understand them. […] Citing a failed legal challenge to the government over its political reform package earlier this year by University of Hong Kong student union leader Yvonne Leung Lai-kwok, Litton hit out at what he called the “misuse” of judicial reviews. “Judicial review is not available for challenges to government policy. That’s a fundamental rule in the separation of powers. The court is concerned with law, not policy, for obvious reasons. The courtroom is the place for the vindication of legal rights, redress for wrongs done.// Source: SCMP, 03 December 2015
- John Chan, a practising lawyer and a founding member of the Democratic Party, offers his view on whether the abuse really happens: //The pre-2007 and post-2007 figures show three things. One, the chances of being granted leave fell significantly after the Court of Final Appeal ruling in 2007. Second, from the figures, it may well be that the extent of abuse is not as grave as one would have thought, notwithstanding Litton’s remarks. Third, the sharp drop in the percentage of leave granted vis-à-vis the number of applications after 2007 shows that the court’s scrutiny is working effectively. The abuse cited by Litton, and other similar cases, may well be the very few high-profile cases in which politicians and public policy advocates sought public attention by using judicial reviews as a means for propaganda. By bringing a legally hopeless case to a courtroom crowded with reporters, fame-seeking politicians find a perfect venue to promote their political beliefs while disgruntled public policy advocates can use it to vent their discontent against public policies that do not meet their expectations.//Source: SCMP, 08 December 2015
- Andrew Li, the former chief justice of the Court of Final Appeal, argued that there is no abuse of judicial review with the current legal filter in place. He also stressed that the quality of justice should not be compromised by efficiency: //Before 2007, the threshold for the granting of permission was relatively low. The test was merely that the case was potentially arguable. In 2007, the Court of Final Appeal discarded this and raised the threshold significantly. The test to be applied is that the court has to be satisfied that there is a reasonably arguable case which enjoys realistic prospects of success. The court observed that it is in the public interest that challenges which fail this test should not proceed. The granting of permission is an effective filter. By applying this test, the courts are able to screen out attempts to abuse the judicial review process. Many challenges have been stopped in this way. But once the court is satisfied that the applicant has shown a reasonably arguable case and grants permission for proceedings to commence, the judicial review challenge cannot be regarded as an abuse of the process. Whatever its eventual outcome, the challenge was allowed to commence as the court was satisfied that it had a realistic prospect of success. […] Litton is known to be an enthusiastic advocate of rigorous efficiency in judicial work. Judges must of course deal with cases with reasonable expedition. This is particularly important in judicial review cases. But it must be strongly emphasised that the pursuit of efficiency must not be at the expense of justice. It is of paramount importance to appreciate that the quality of justice must never be compromised.// Source: Mingpao, 14 December 2015
Critics urged Hong Kong government to do more to tackle climate change problem
- //Many governments, businesses and other organisations accept that we need to achieve zero, or near-zero, carbon emissions by 2050 if we are to reverse the trend of dangerous global warming. To that end, 17 leading cities, including London, Sydney and Yokohama, have committed to ambitious targets and are putting in place programmes to change energy generation and consumption. Hong Kong is not part of this parade of advanced world cities. For many of us, the city is noticeable only by its absence of either inspiring ideas or meaningful targets. […] Hong Kong has carbon intensity targets (the proportion of greenhouse gases emitted, rather than the absolute amount) that are barely better than the rest of China – yet China needs to tackle poverty reduction in remote undeveloped areas. Hong Kong’s unambitious emissions targets are easily achieved by changing our energy generation from coal to gas. […] Many of us following the talks in Paris return to Hong Kong with a growing sense of impatience and frustration, as well as a host of questions. Why is Hong Kong choosing to be a laggard rather than a leader? First, there is our moral responsibility – as a wealthy, historical emitter of carbon – to do more than the rest of China, and more than much of the rest of the world, on greenhouse gas reduction. Then there are the lost opportunities to develop business and finance in the new areas of a green economy that are certain to emerge worldwide as a result of the Paris agreement. We are watched by competing Chinese cities that are just waiting to grab the green baton and run ahead of Hong Kong. Then there’s the very real investment risk that will grow if companies in Hong Kong are not encouraged to embrace a green future. // Source: SCMP, 14 December 2015.
Presidential and Legislative Election in 2016
- Political Commentator Guo Zheng-liang (郭正亮) pointed out that Kuomintang has not gained any improvement after the replacement of presidential candidate in October and the Party did not show solidarity to face the elections either.
- //10月17日通過徵召、換柱參選總統的國民黨主席朱立倫，原本各界以為將會展現急起直追的朝野對決動能，但經過一個多月觀察，歷經馬習會、提名不分區立委、任命副手等三關考驗，朱立倫不但難以走出「先天不良」的黨內紛擾困境，甚至還日益陷入「後天失調」的選舉危機之中。眼看距離2016年1月16日總統大選只剩下不到50天，國民黨陣營仍然毫無聚焦能量可言。[…] 11月19日TVBS公布最新民調，可說是對朱參選一個月的期中考，結果蔡英文支持度從43%上升到46%，朱只從27%增加到28%，兩人差距反而從16%擴大為18%。這對於時間非常緊迫、必須急起直追的朱立倫來說，無疑是一大挫折。更嚴重的是，朱立倫與中立選民的距離也更加遙遠。蔡英文的中立選民支持度，從35%上升到41%，朱立倫只從13%上升到15%，兩人差距從22%擴大為26%。// Source: The Initium, 07 December 2015.
- Tao Yi-feng from the Department of Political Science at the National Taiwan University argued that the election in 2016 faces a different political landscape after the Sun Flower Movement in a sense that the young generations in Taiwan have new concerns such as justice across classes and generations, and the old politics represented by the unification/independence issue cannot effectively respond their demand. These prompt them to take their demand to the street and create the momentum for them to establish new political parties to contest in elections.
- //乍看之下，「太陽花運動」似乎是一場反對馬政府過度親中的經貿政策的「反中運動」，但放在更宏觀的歷史發展脈絡下來看，這幾年台灣各式社會運動發展在數量與規模上都是民主化之後所僅見，許多年輕學子加入各種社會弱勢群體的抗爭行列，更凸顯了這波社會運動有追求階級正義與世代正義的色彩。[…] 民主化之後，由於威權時代的轉型正義問題沒有得到妥善處理，以及中國崛起對中華民國的國際空間造成極大的限縮，台灣選舉的主軸一直無法擺脫統獨意識形態爭辯的認同政治。然而，經過兩次政黨輪替，台灣人民也越發明白，國際現實政治的結構限制，短期之內統獨都不大可能實現，自然對藍綠國家認同動員的「舊政治」感到厭煩。尤其是年輕人，在傳統藍綠切割的政治動員中看不到關於經濟環境變差、貧富差距拉大的解決之道，對政治漸漸冷漠無感。這幾年社會運動的再次風起雲湧與「太陽花運動」的實力展現使得年輕世代的政治效能感大增，相信行動是有可能帶來改變的。既然既有政黨不敢得罪大財團，不願意提出加稅、增加福利支出、改善勞動條件、保護環境等傷害財團利益的政策，這些長期耕耘社會運動的ＮＧＯ團體就自己成立新政黨，投入國會選舉改變政治。// Source: The Initium, 15 December 2015.
The US’s latest arms sale to Taiwan
- //The Obama administration is expected as soon as this week to authorize the sale of two guided missile frigates to Taiwan, U.S. congressional sources said on Monday, in spite of China’s opposition to the deal. […] The sale would mark the first time in four years that the United States has shipped arms to Taiwan, the longest gap in such arms sales in nearly four decades. […] « This is positive and helpful toward promoting regional peace and stability, » Taiwan defense ministry spokesman Major General David Lo said Tuesday at a regular press briefing in Taipei, adding that the ministry has not received official notice about the authorization. […] Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said its position on opposing U.S. arms sales to Taiwan was clear and consistent. […] Beijing expressed anger at last year’s bill, though arms sales to date to Taiwan have not caused lasting damage to Beijing’s relations with either Washington or Taipei. The new sales would come at a period of heightened tensions between the United States and China over the South China Sea, where Washington has been critical of China’s building of man-made islands to assert expansive territorial claims.// Source: Reuter, 15 December 2015.