Revue de presse du 2 octobre 2015


Xi Jinping ’s first visit to the US; cybersecurity; Climate change; NGOs in China; Xinjiang; Chen Zuoer; University of Hong Kong; Johannes Chan Man-mun; academic freedom.


President Xi’s first visit to the US

  • Background: From 22 to 28 September 2015, President Xi Jinping made his first state visit to the United States after he had assumed presidency. In his trip, the President Xi discussed with various parties on a range of issues, including Chinese currency, American firms’ access to Chinese market, cybersecurity, climate change, South China Sea dispute, etc. The detail result of the bilateral talk between President Xi and President Barack Obama of the United States can be checked from the White House’s website here. Among other deals, the two governments have reached agreements on two issues: cybersecurity and climate change.
  • Cybersecurity: The Obama’s administration repeatedly accused Beijing of tolerating cyberattack on US-related business firms in an attempt to steal commercial secrets or intellectual properties over a year. Back to May 2014, the U.S-China Cyber Working Group was suspended after the U.S. had hinted at the People’s Liberation Army’s involvement in one instance of hacking and economic spying. Before Xi’s trip, there were also hopes that the two countries would reach an agreement on control of cyberweapons on critical infrastructure during peacetime. // The United States and China are negotiating what could become the first arms control accord for cyberspace, embracing a commitment by each country that it will not be the first to use cyberweapons to cripple the other’s critical infrastructure during peacetime, according to officials involved in the talks. While such an agreement could address attacks on power stations, banking systems, cellphone networks and hospitals, it would not, at least in its first version, protect against most of the attacks that China has been accused of conducting in the United States, including the widespread poaching of intellectual property and the theft of millions of government employees’ personal data. The negotiations have been conducted with urgency in recent weeks, with a goal to announce an agreement when President Xi Jinping of China arrives in Washington for a state visit on Thursday. // Source, New York Times, 19 September 2015
  • Rogier Creemers, editor of China Copyright and Media website, argued that the talk on cybersecurity was more symbolic than substantial before the Sino-US Submit. // The reported talks on a sort of agreement about proliferation in the cyber realm demonstrates that there is a recognition on both sides that there are worst case solutions [scenarios?] that must be avoided. However, the importance of this agreement must not be overstated: neither side currently has an interest in causing serious bilateral conflict. In that sense, the agreement is an empty gesture: a promise not to do something neither side was planning anyway, without strong implementation and monitoring measures. And this brings us to the bad news, which is that irritation and tensions will continue to persist in the relationship.// Source: ChinaFile Conversation, 22 September 2015
  • During Xi’s visit to the US, an agreement was reached for both countries to resume a high-level talk and to cooperate with requests for information and assist in investigation of suspected malicious cyberactivity. Also, both parties would refrain from state-sponsored cybertheft of intellectual property, but the agreement fell short of restriction on traditional government-to-government spying. // China and the United States have agreed to help each other out on investigations into cyberspying and theft, with senior security officials from both sides meeting regularly to assess progress. After presidents Xi Jinping and Barack Obama met in Washington on Friday, the White House announced that the first of the meetings would be held later this year, to be followed by talks twice a year after that. […]The agreement comes amid mounting pressure on the Obama administration to impose economic sanctions on China for its alleged theft of trade secrets. Beijing has long accused Washington of being involved in the same activities, and suspended the only bilateral cybersecurity working group after the US indicted five People’s Liberation Army officers for allegedly stealing trade secrets last year. The presidents said both sides had agreed to cooperate with requests for information and help to investigate malicious cyberactivity from their territory.// Source: SCMP, 28 September 2015
  • // On cybersecurity, the governments said they would launch biannual ministerial-level talks by the end of this year. This would be a higher level of negotiation than talks suspended a year ago after the US charged five Chinese military officers with hacking. Xi said he and Obama had reached “a lot of consensus” on cybersecurity while Obama said both countries would refrain from state-sponsored cybertheft of intellectual property. Obama said they had “made significant progress” in areas such as information exchange and cooperation between law enforcement agencies. But he also reminded Xi that sanctions could still be imposed on Chinese companies. “The question now is: Are words followed by actions?” Obama said.// Source: SCMP, 27 September 2015
  • // The two leaders said they agreed that neither government would knowingly support cyber theft of corporate secrets or business information. But the agreement stopped short of any promise to refrain from traditional government-to-government cyber spying for intelligence purposes. That could include the massive hack of the federal government’s personnel office this year that compromised the data of more than 20 million people. U.S. officials have traced that back to China but have not said whether they believe the government was responsible.// Source: Reuters, 26 September 2015.
  • After the agreement, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper cast doubts over its effectiveness. // Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that the agreement did not include specific penalties for violations but that the U.S. government could use economic sanctions and other tools to respond if needed. Clapper and other officials said they viewed last week’s cyber agreement between China and the United States on curbing economic cyber espionage as a “good first step” but noted it was not clear how effective the pact would be. President Barack Obama said on Friday that he had reached a “common understanding” with China’s President Xi Jinping that neither government would knowingly support cyber theft of corporate secrets or business information. Asked if he was optimistic the agreement would eliminate Chinese cyber attacks, Clapper said simply: “No.” Clapper said he was skeptical because Chinese cyber espionage aimed at extracting U.S. intellectual property was so pervasive, and there were questions about the extent to which it was orchestrated by the Chinese government. He said the United States should “trust but verify,” a reference to former President Ronald Reagan’s approach to nuclear disarmament with the former Soviet Union.// Source: Reuters, 30 September 2015
  • A Chinese commentator affiliated with the Guangming Wang, Guoping, viewed the result an achievement of strategic cooperation between China and the United States, but also pointed out that the Sino-US cooperation on cybersecurity issue is a long-term strategic one and many issues remain to be resolved. //从启程访美前接受《华尔街日报》的书面采访,到在西雅图、华盛顿等地的多次演讲,他反复强调中美展开有效战略合作的重要性、必要性和迫切性。习主席明确指出,必须“坚定不移推进合作共赢。”“合作是实现利益唯一正确的选择。要合作就要照顾彼此利益和关切,寻求合作最大公约数。”分歧是在所难免的,“关键是如何管控分歧。最关键的是双方应该相互尊重、求同存异,采取建设性方式增进理解、扩大共识,努力把矛盾点专转化为合作点。”“中美都是网络大国,双方拥有重要共同利益和合作空间,应就网络问题开展建设性对话,打造中美合作的亮点。”就此而言,中美两国在网络议题上展开有效合作,将网络合作建设成为中美关系新亮点是一项长期战略任务。[…]进入21世纪之后,随着中国整体实力的提升,构建有效合作领域,为共同关注的利益展开写作成为新的战略稳定来源。中美两国都关注网络安全,关注网络问题,关注与网络相关的国家利益,在网络问题上开展有效合作,包括以信息共享的方式共同应对网络威胁,有助于改善中美两国对于彼此的信任,推进中美两国的合作共赢。// Source: Xinhua, 4 October 2015
  • Shen Yi, the Deputy Director at the Center for Cyber Governance, Fudan University, argued that China and the United States are both superpowers in cyberspace. He urged the U.S. to abandon “Cold War Mentality” and utilize each other’s comparative advantages. // Obama’s confrontational rhetoric has been further hyped by the media, and it seems to intensify existing conflicts in U.S.-China cyber relations. Now, it seems, it is cyberwar, not cyber governance, that will consume the energy of Obama and Xi. This is wholly unnecessary and counterproductive. The absence of accepted rules is the root cause of current disputes. As the role of the Internet becomes ever more significant in global affairs, the right way forward for Chinese and American leadership is to commit themselves to first building a benign cyber relationship between the two cyber superpowers. The “we-are-righteous, you-are-wrong” approach taken by the U.S. is premature to say the least. Firstly, Washington needs to overcome its “Cold War mentality,” which gives rise to constant fear and suspicion of a great power rivalry. A quarter century after the fall of the Berlin Wall, American grand strategy has yet to steer away from playing a “zero-sum game” with an imagined archenemy. Therefore, it is imperative for Beltway insiders to gradually reach a consensus that today’s China is very much different from the former Soviet Union, that it now seeks mutual benefits and development instead of undermining America’s position. Without such understanding, it would be very hard for American political establishment to overcome structural distrust toward China, especially in global cyber governance. Secondly, it is precisely in the interest of the U.S. to take the initiative to strengthen cyber cooperation with Beijing, just as it did in striking the historical climate change deal last November. The USCIIF is an ideal platform for promoting cooperation, trust and mutual prosperity. It would be detrimental to both countries and the progress of Internet development around the world if the relationship between the two cyber superpowers are allowed to deteriorate. Perhaps American entrepreneurs know better than American politicians. Having realized the immense potential to capitalize on each other’s comparative advantages, American tech giants such as Apple, Amazon, Cisco and IBM, along with up-and-coming new generation of players such as Uber, are in Seattle working with their Chinese counterparts including Jack Ma of Alibaba, Pony Ma of Tencent and Robin Li of Baidu.// Source: Huffington Post, 06 October 2015
  • Climate Change: During President Xi’s visit to the US, one of the few joint-statements was issued about cooperation in climate change on 25 September 2015. //China announced on Friday that it would launch a national emission trading system in 2017 and pledged 20 billion yuan (US$3 billion) to help developing countries combating climate change. In a joint climate statement with the US, China said the emission trading system would cover power generation, steel, cement and other key industrial sectors. China also said it would prioritise power generation from renewable sources, which would better support its ambitious non-fossil energy targets of 15 per cent by 2020 and around 20 per cent by 2030.// Source: SCMP, 25 September 2015
  • The deal between the two world’s largest emitters is important in many regards. The timing of the announcement is widely regarded as setting an example for other countries in the upcoming Climate Submit in Paris, and the financial contribution to the Climate Change Fund (which is to provide financing from developed to developing countries) is a positive signal to other countries. //The announcement, to come during a White House summit meeting with President Obama, is part of an ambitious effort by China and the United States to use their leverage internationally to tackle climate change and to pressure other nations to do the same. Joining forces on the issue even as they are bitterly divided on others, Mr. Obama and Mr. Xi will spotlight the shared determination of the leaders of the world’s two largest economies to forge a climate change accord in Paris in December that commits every country to curbing its emissions. […]Domestic and external pressures have driven the Chinese government to take firmer action to curb emissions from fossil fuels, especially coal. Growing public anger about the noxious air that often envelops Beijing and many other Chinese cities has prompted the government to introduce restrictions on coal and other sources of smog, with the side benefit of reducing carbon dioxide pollution. The authorities also see economic benefits in reducing fossil fuel use. // Source: New York Times, 24 September 2015.
  • Li Shuo, a Senior Climate & Energy Policy Officer for Greenpeace East Asia, pointed out that:// The agreement was important in two regards. First, ahead of the United Nations’ timeline, the two biggest emitters gave the world a preview of their intended post-2020 climate actions. China, for the first time, indicated its intention to peak its emissions. Second, a new formulation of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) was agreed upon by adding in the language of “in light of different national circumstances.” This exact language was introduced into the subsequent U.N. decision in Lima. This effectively cleared the biggest stumbling block for the negotiation in the run up to Paris.// Source: ChinaFile Conversation, 18 September 2015
  • // Climate change experts anticipate finance will be a key issue in the U.N. climate change conference this fall. And, while commitments from China and the U.S. signal a willingness to engage on this issue, questions remain about how initiatives will be funded in the developing world. An agreement at the 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen called for developed countries to provide $100 billion annually by 2020 to fund efforts to combat climate change in developing countries. Beyond China and the U.S., Japan, the United Kingdom, France and Germany have all pledged more than a $1 billion in support, but the $100 billion per year target still appears elusive.// Source: Fortune, 25 September 2015
  • Besides altruistic reasons to do so, analysts pointed out that the two presidents had other self-regarding good reasons to reach the deal. Junjie Zhang, an Associate Professor of Environmental Economics in the School of Global Policy and Strategy at University of California, San Diego, argued that://The U.S.-China climate collaboration is aligned with the self interests of both countries. On the U.S. side, the Obama Administration is pushing the unprecedented regulation of coal-fired power plants. This initiative is perhaps the last opportunity for President Obama to craft his climate change abatement legacy. In order to gain domestic support, it is instrumental to leverage the climate actions of other major emitters. Since China accounts for over a quarter of global carbon emissions, working with China is crucial for the U.S. to achieve its climate target. As for China, the incentive for climate mitigation is not only from international pressures but also due to its own need to reduce energy consumption and improve air quality. As a middle-income country, climate change is not a top priority for the Chinese government. However, since energy security and environmental pollution are closely related to carbon emissions, these co-benefits convince China to engage in increasingly aggressive mitigation efforts. By collaborating with the U.S., China can learn from the U.S. experience how to grow the economy while curbing climate and air pollutants.// Source: ChinaFile Conversation, 16 September 2015
  • Experts also raised concerns about the feasibility and complexity of President Xi’s plan to tackle climate change problem in China. // “It will be a heavy burden having all this ready in time for 2017,” said Yang Fuqiang, a senior adviser on energy and climate change policy in Beijing for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Now we’re not even sure just how much energy we consume, so how can you go ahead with trading?” Mr. Yang and other policy experts said that Mr. Xi’s target date would be just the start of a national trading plan, which would initially include big companies in several industries. Mr. Xi’s “cap and trade” system would cover power, iron and steel, chemicals, building materials, papermaking and nonferrous metals. But the big transport sector has been left out for now.// Source: New York Times, 25 September 2015
  • In relation to the news, there was a recent in-depth reporting about the problems with pollution controls in China. One of the problem is the lack of scientific method to account for the volume of pollutants. // 总量考核,是中央政府对各省和大型国企最重要的环境考核。并且,总量考核也是各省份内部最重要的环境治理考核抓手。毫不夸张,总量考核在近十年充当了中国环境保护“指挥棒”的角色。上述十年期间,原环保总局升为环保部,该部污染防治司下属的总量办升格为污染物排放总量控制司,成为环保部实际权力最大的部门之一。目前正接受纪委部门调查的环保部前副部长张力军,即曾主抓总量减排。对于“十一五”期间总量减排两个指标SO2和COD,张力军曾说,“虽然只是两个数据,但其影响已经上升到了政治高度,已经影响到地方党政主要领导的政绩和政治命运,各地‘一把手’对这两个数据非常敏感。”问题来了:在总量考核捷报频传的背后,尽管账面上污染物总量数字在持续下降,但中国真实的空气和水的质量,并没有相应改善。也就是说,“指挥棒”是失灵的。到底是总量减排的目标不切实际,难以起到“指挥棒”的作用,还是核算方法存在漏洞,以至于十年来的举国之力的行动,沦为一场“数字游戏”?批评者指出,总量考核存在五方面的缺陷,应当改革甚至废弃。除与环境质量脱节外,还有最核心的减排基数并不科学、与真正影响环境质量的达标排放相冲突、四项污染物的设置过于片面和沦为数字游戏等四个方面。// Source: Caixin Weekly, 14 September 2015
  • Analysts expressed reservations about the effectiveness of the Sino-US Submit and they proposed their viewpoints. // American corporate executives have complained that a new national security law in China and proposed laws on cybersecurity and counterterrorism will restrict their operations by subjecting them to unnecessary scrutiny from China’s ever more powerful domestic security apparatus. But Mr. Xi offered a robust defense of the legislation in the meeting, according to the American with knowledge of the meeting. “The evidence seems to be accumulating that Xi is a leader whose vision is mainly about centralizing power and asserting China’s greatness,” said Arthur Kroeber, a managing director of Gavekal Dragonomics, a research firm, and a longtime analyst of the Chinese economy. “When forced to choose between giving market forces more play in the name of efficiency and sustainable growth, or reasserting the primacy of the state regardless of the long-run economic cost,” Mr. Xi seems more likely to choose the latter, he added. […]In foreign policy, too, Mr. Xi “seems less interested in cutting deals” than his predecessors, Professor Lampton said. “He has demonstrated a willingness to have more friction with the outside world than his predecessors.”The Obama administration is especially concerned about allegations of Chinese cyberattacks on American companies and government agencies, including the theft of trade secrets that are passed on to Chinese competitors and of millions of government employees’ personal data.“It is an area we have not seen progress or change in their behavior,” a senior administration official said. // Source: New York Times, 21 September 2015
  • One Chinese commentator also argued that the lack of strategic trust between the two states and increasingly bad perception towards each other by the Chinese and American populations before the visit might also spell the difficulties of the bilateral talk to reach any substantial agreement. // 在外交方面,中美關係是處在一個前所未有的「別扭」時期:一方面,中美兩國領導人的溝通和互訪機制已高度建立起來,應該說兩國沒有不可說的事、不可溝通的 問題。兩國的互依度也在不斷提高,在一些國際問題上也能合作、共贏。另一方面,兩國的相互猜忌也在加深,戰略互信嚴重缺乏,美國公眾輿論對中國的好感度不 斷下降。中國媒體也儼然已將美國看作是中國的頭號敵人,美國的很多所做所為都是針對中國而來,大有冷戰時期對中國遏制之嫌。兩國的猜忌和別扭在南海諸島爭 端中表現得最為淋漓盡致,中國周邊環境的惡化,尤其在中日、中菲、中越爭端中,美國被視為幕後麻煩製造者。中國在南海問題上的維權、建島,被美國看作崛起 後的中國在南海尋求霸權,排擠美國。[…] 很多美國人認為,美國人歷來喜歡中國的文化,同情、幫助中國。中國的崛起,得益於美國,而崛起以後,中國卻處處與美國作對。儘管國際關係多為現實主義左 右,力量與利益是現實主義的核心,但中美關係中,往往忽略的是心理因素,老百姓最實在的感受。近年來美國民眾對華態度的好感度一直在下降,雖說一般情况下 美國對華政策不直接受民意左右,但沒有任何總統會忽視民意,反其道而行之。雖然說此次習近平訪美,有需要在具體問題上取得一些進展,如碳排放、網絡安全合 作、雙邊投資協定等,但更重要的是應與美國人民溝通,向美國老百姓展現中國對美國的友好,影響美國人民對中國的態度,確定中美關係發展的大方向。// Source: PenToy, 25 September 2015.

Initiative to increase CCP party members within NGOs in China

  • After the drafting of specific laws targeting at foreign NGOs in China, and the massive prosecution of activists across China from rights lawyers to feminists in July (for detail background, please see CEFC’s previous piece of News Analysis by Samson Yuen), the Chinese Communist Party rolled out new initiative to increase party membership within NGOs, foundations, and trade unions by providing financial incentives to NGOs.// China’s Communist Party is calling on NGOs, trade unions and foundations to increase the presence of party members within their organisations, state media reports. The Organisation Department of the party’s Central Committee said the initiative to strengthen party organs in such organisations was necessary to “guide them in the right political direction” through promoting and carrying out party policies, the Xinhua news agency reported on Monday. The party groups installed in these organisations should also “mobilise and educate ordinary people to stand against negative influence and illegal activities”. NGOs, trade unions or foundations with more than three party members should establish a party branch, while neighbourhoods should also establish branches and organise activities, the department’s statement said. […] All organisations that respond to the idea will receive tax subsidies and additional financial assistance, plus the return of all membership fees.// Source: SCMP, 29 September 2015

Attack in Xinjiang

  • Ethnic tension in Xinjiang was heightened in the wake of 60th anniversary of the establishment of Xinjiang Autonomous Region. // At least 50 people died in September in an attack on a Chinese coal mine in the far-western region of Xinjiang, Radio Free Asia reported on Thursday. The news came after a visiting senior mainland leader warned that the security situation in the violence-prone region was “very serious”. […] The attack was reported as the country marked 60 years since the establishment of what it calls the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, complete with images on state television of happy ethnic minorities dressed in colourful outfits dancing in celebration. On Wednesday Yu Zhengsheng, in charge of religious groups and ethnic minorities and the fourth-ranked leader in the ruling Communist Party, told officials at an event marking the 60th anniversary in the regional capital, Urumqi, not to rest on their laurels. “We must fully recognise that Xinjiang faces a very serious situation in maintaining long-term social stability, and we must make a serious crackdown on violent terror activities the focal point of our struggle,” Yu said, in a speech carried live on state television. However, exiles and rights groups have said China has never presented convincing evidence of the existence of a cohesive militant group fighting the government, and that much of the unrest can be traced back to frustration at controls over the culture and religion of the Uygur people who live in Xinjiang – a charge that Beijing has denied.// Source: SCMP, 1 October 2015

Hong Kong

Comment by a former Beijing official on ‘One Country Two Systems’

  • The former Deputy Director of Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council, and the current President of Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, Mr. Chen Zuoer, mentioned in a speech that Hong Kong did not carry out “de-colonization” (去殖民化) enough and bring “de-sinofication” (去中国化) back. His remarks sparked not only response from pan-democrats, but also HKSAR officials. // A failure to carry out “de-colonisation” is the root cause of internal strife and economic woe in Hong Kong, a former Beijing official says – but the city’s constitutional affairs chief swiftly played down those remarks, calling for “tolerance and trust” from the central government. Speaking at a forum in Hong Kong, Chen Zuoer also criticised the city for allowing a “revival of de-sinofication”. He was referring to a belief in Beijing that British colonialists started a movement to reject and eliminate the mainland’s influence in the city as talks on its future began in the early 1980s. […] “Because de-colonisation wasn’t implemented in accordance with the law, things that should be put in the history museum ran into the streets,” said Chen, in an apparent reference to the hoisting of the colonial flag at protests in the city. “De-sinofication is at work, but there is no de-colonisation. This harms the ‘two systems’ under the ‘one country, [two systems’ principle] … and creates serious internal strife and many problems.” // Source: SCMP, 20 September 2015
  • // Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung insisted that the common law system and the judiciary as inherited from British rule should be preserved. “Certainly, not everything should be changed. Those aspects that are advantageous and capable of pushing Hong Kong forward need to be preserved,” Yuen said. […] Raymond Tam Chi-yuen, the secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, said yesterday that former central government officials like Chen should show greater tolerance and trust towards Hongkongers. // Source: SCMP, 21 September 2015

Rejection to Pro-vice-chancellor’s appointment by the University of Hong Kong’s Council

  • Background: The controversy of the appointment of pro-vice-chancellor in charge of academic staffing and resources started about 10 months ago. The University of Hong Kong’s Council, the university’s body to make decisions on personnel appointment, met several times to discuss the issues. Its delay in making the decision stirred up concerns over the politicalization of the Council. Under criticisms, the Council on 29 September eventually made the decision and rejected the Search Committee’s nomination of the only pro-vice-chancellor candidate, Mr. Johannes Chan Man-mun. For a more detail review of the incident, please refer to this piece by SCMP.
  • // In an unprecedented move, after months of delay and controversy, the University of Hong Kong’s governing council has rejected Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun’s appointment to a key managerial post. The decision was immediately condemned by students and alumni, who accused pro-government council members of politicising an academic matter and threatened to challenge it in court. The opposition to Chan’s appointment has been linked to his close ties to colleague Benny Tai Yiu-ting, a co-founder of the Occupy Central movement. […] But an angry HKU student union president Billy Fung Jing-en, who sits on the council, abandoned confidentiality rules to spill the beans on what pro-government council members and non-HKU staff had said behind closed doors. Quoting Executive Councilor Arthur Li Kwok-cheung and seven others, Fung cited reasons they gave ranging from Chan having no PhD degree and not publishing enough in academic research to his failure to “send regards” to a council member who collapsed in July when students stormed a meeting of the governing council over the appointment.// Source: SCMP, 29 September, 2015
  • Critics regarded the rejection of Chan’s appointment as blow to academic freedom and a reflection of Beijing’s influence. The President of HKU Peter Mathieson commented that Beijing’s involvement in the incident could not be ruled out. // “It’s obvious that the decision was a political one,” said Ip Kin-yuen, a lawmaker and head of an HKU alumni association that recently saw 7,800 of its members voice support for Chan. “Academic freedom will no longer exist after this.” Some students held a candlelight vigil in support of Chan while the student union said they’d consider further protests. Chan is one of Hong Kong’s most distinguished legal scholars and a prominent human rights advocate. Beijing’s representative Liaison Office in Hong Kong did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters, nor did the office of Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying. Two sources in contact with the Liaison Office said its representatives had expressed frustration that Hong Kong universities could not be controlled. […] While Hong Kong universities are much more free than those in mainland China, the HKU’s president, Peter Mathieson, told Reuters before the vote that he believed pressure on him and others who back Chan’s appointment was being “orchestrated”. He said his personal emails had been hacked and some had been published in pro-Beijing media. He added that he could not rule out the possibility Beijing was behind the episode.// Source: Reuter, 29 September 2015
  • Amnesty International (Hong Kong Chapter) also related the incident to a threat to academic freedom in Hong Kong, which is protected by the Basic Law, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.//學術自由和院校自主與教育權攸關,受國際人權公約保障。聯合國《經濟、社會與文化權利的國際公約》第13條保障教育權,而負責監察公約的經濟及社會理事會在第13號一般性意見〈受教育的權利(《公約》第13條〉(1999)指出「只有在教員和學生有學術自由的情況下,才有可能享受到受教育的權利」(段38)。而要落實學術自由,必須實現院校自主,包括對「涉及其學術工作、標準、管理和相關活動決策有必要的自治程度」,院校安排應該「公平、公正和平等,並且盡量做到透明和民主參與」(段40)。另一方面,《公民權利和政治權利國際公約》亦保障了所有人的言論自由及不受政治歧視;因此,任何學者在學術研究、院校職務或人事任命等,不應因其言論和政治取向等而獲不合理待遇。公約按《基本法》第39條適用於香港。此外,《基本法》第27、34及137條亦有保障學術自由。// Source: Pen Toy, 30 September 2015
  • Prof. Jerome Cohen, professor and co-director of the US-Asia Law Institute at New York University School of Law, raised concerns about the potential loss of autonomy for the tertiary institute. He also criticized the decision as putting politics above all when he learned of the rejection. // The council’s refusal to follow long-established appointment procedures has raised fears that the university’s autonomy is being compromised. […] The recent news that five mainland Chinese human rights lawyers were stopped from leaving for Hong Kong due to “national security” reasons suggests that the territory is no longer a safe venue for academic conferences, or even informal exchanges with scholars and lawyers from China – precisely the work that Chan has been so instrumental in promoting throughout his tenure as professor and dean of the law faculty. These events also cast a cloud over China’s trumpeted support for the rule of law. Institutional autonomy and academic freedom in Hong Kong are guaranteed, both under the Basic Law and the Joint Declaration that spawned it. The protracted dispute makes a mockery of that solemn pledge and of China’s professed commitment to legal reform – and to Hong Kong’s historic role in that process. // Source: SCMP, 25 September 2015
  • // The University of Hong Kong’s Council has voted to veto Johannes Chan’s appointment as pro-vice-chancellor. This is very sad news for Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedom. “Zhengzhi guashuai (政治掛帥)” is a slogan frequently invoked in the Mainland, but it is tragic to see “Politics in Command” in Hong Kong’s educational sphere. The Council is hiding behind the fig leaf of confidentiality and privacy because it cannot afford to be transparent and give the reasons for its decision. This is a scandal!// Source: New York Times, 30 September 2015
  • In relation to the Umbrella Movement last year, academics in Hong Kong have been under fire for their active role in politics deemed unpleasant to the Xi’s administration. A commentator from the Times Higher Education, David Matthews, worried that the increasing control over academics in Mainland China cast shadow over the maintenance of academic freedom in Hong Kong. // What is behind the apparent escalation in pressure on Hong Kong’s “politically incorrect” academics? On the face of it, Beijing is responding to the Occupy Central protests last year, which were the biggest display of public defiance towards the Chinese Communist Party since 1989. Yet the newspaper attacks on City University’s Joseph Cheng Yu‑shek and the Hong Kong University pollster Robert Chung Ting-Yiu preceded the start of the sit-in. An alternative explanation is that the moves are part of a wide-ranging attempt to stamp out dissent initiated by president Xi Jinping, who came to power in mainland China at the end of 2012. According to some commentators, criticism of the party that was tolerated in the Hong Kong academy under previous leaders is now no longer seen as acceptable. Under Xi, civil society groups, women’s rights activists and, most recently, lawyers have suffered increased harassment and detention.// Source: Times Higher Education, 10 September 2015