Revue de presse du 8 juin 2015

Keywords: NGO Law, Strikes in China, June Fourth, Yangtze ship disaster, Internet, Hong Kong


New CPC regulation stresses role of leading Party members’ groups

  1. // A meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on Friday passed a regulation stressing the need to strengthen the Party’s role in state organs and non-Party units. « Leading Party members’ groups » in state organs, organizations and non-Party units are important channels to guarantee the implementation of the line and policies of the Party and the system must be strengthened and improved, according to a statement released after the meeting presided over by Xi Jinping. According to the CPC constitution, such groups may be formed in state organs, organizations or other non-Party units to ensure the Party line and policies are properly implemented. Such organizations cover a broad spectrum, but include the State Council, the Supreme People’s Court, ministries, state-owned enterprises and organizations like the China Writers Association. Unlike elected Party committees, the composition of a leading Party members’ group is decided by the Party organization that approves it. // Source: Xinhua
    i. // 中国共产党发挥总揽全局、协调各方的领导核心作用,必须有坚强有力的组织制度保障。在国家机关、人民体、经济组织、文化组织、社会组织和其他组织领导机关中立党,是确保党的理和路线政策得到贯彻的重要途径,体现了我们党独特的政治优势、组织优势、制度优势。当前,贯彻落实全面建成小康社会、全面深化改革、全面依法治国、全面从严治党的战略布局,必须牢牢坚持党的领导,把党的建设放在更加突出位置,进一步完善党组制度,提高党组工作制度化、规范化、程序化水平。// Source: Xinhua
    ii. What are Party members’ group? // 黨組的任務包括五方面:負責貫徹執行黨的路線、方針、政策;討論和決定本單位的重大問題;做好幹部管理工作;團結黨外幹部和群眾,完成黨和國家交給的任務;指導機關和直屬單位黨組織的工作。// Source: Sina
  2. SCMP has more: //Analysts say the move is evidence of the party’s anxiousness to bolster its authority across society. All places of employment and organisations in China are already required to have a party branch. Analysts say the need to have a new regulation to ensure this arrangement is strictly implemented indicates that the party believes its influence on society is inadequate and the situation needs to be changed. […] Beijing University of Technology economist Hu Xingdou said the requirement of having a branch in every organisation had been made into a regulation because the party felt corruption had become an extremely serious issue that needed to be addressed. Hu said many cadres blatantly flouted party rules and regulations and the party wanted to reassert its authority. […] Political commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu said the regulation indicated the party believed its organisation was lax and that there was a lack of discipline among cadres. « So it wants to bolster the party’s unity, especially among the grass-roots organisations and make sure that party branches supervise one another across the board, » he said. // Source: SCMP

 Civil society and foreign NGO law

  1. Ira Belkin and Jerome Cohen warned of a chilling of civil activity both within China and beyond if the government choses to “close its doors.” // If the NGO draft becomes law, the international cultural, educational and technical exchanges that have become commonplace and so essential to China’s astonishing development may come to a grinding halt. […] One of the most chilling parts of the draft, Article 59, extends to activities outside China’s borders. Any of the following vaguely defined actions, if attributed not only to a representative within China but also to a foreign organization abroad, would be a violation: subversion of state power, undermining ethnic harmony, spreading rumors, or “other situations that endanger state security or damage the national interest or society’s public interest.” In other words, if a student group on an American campus protests against Chinese government treatment of Tibetans, the university could be barred from activities in China, and its representatives in China could be detained and prosecuted. […] Those people who wish to see China continue on its path of peaceful engagement should come forward and be heard. The comment period for the draft law ends June 4. // Source: NY Times
  2. 30 Chinese lawyers have written to the NPC calling for the abandonment of the proposed foreign NGO law, translated by the CDT: // […]We discovered that this Draft, roughly written and hardly operable, lacks research on feasibility, necessity, and urgency. This draft mistakenly follows experiences of countries with multi-party systems like Russia. Therefore, we suggest that the NPC Standing Committee halt the adoption of the Foreign NGO Management Law, further deepen reform and opening, and promote instead of impeding civil exchange in and outside China. Our reasons are as follows:
    i. This legislation project, launched in a hasty manner and lacking sufficient argumentation, is an arbitrary legislation. […]
    ii. Several provisions of this Draft violated the principle of necessity as provided in the Administrative Permission Law and relevant administrative laws. […]
    iii. With unrefined and inexact text, poor operability, and an excessively large scope, this Draft is in violation of the fundamental national policy of “reform and opening-up” as well as the State Council’s reform spirit of “streamlining administration and power delegation.” […]
    iv. This Draft has little contribution but much negative impact to its purpose of public security protection. […]
    v. China is different from countries with multi-party systems that provide freedom of association such as Russia, Egypt and India, and should not be misled by the experience of such countries. […] Source: CDT
  3. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also published their submissions to the NPC. From HRW: // In its submission, Human Rights Watch notes concerns about five aspects of the law:
    i. Broad and vague limitations on foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) operating temporarily or permanently in China;
    ii. An onerous supervisory framework for NGOs;
    iii. An expansive role for the police in approving and monitoring NGOs’ work;
    iv. Restrictions on staffing and operations; and
    v. Punishments for vaguely defined activities.
    The impact of this law would be wide-ranging. Domestic organizations have worked on issues affecting millions of people that the government often claims it wishes to address: poverty alleviation, public health crises, and fighting environmental pollution. These groups have developed the kind of flexibility and creativity needed to address overwhelming societal challenges. Many of them have long relied on an estimated 1000 to 6000 foreign organizations and foundations for funding, training, and expertise. The draft law would also affect cooperation and exchanges with a wide range of nonprofits such as schools, universities, hospitals, professional associations, research institutes, and museums. // Source: Human Rights Watch
  4. Foreign business groups wary of China’s nonprofit clampdown: // That wide sweep has prompted the American Chamber of Commerce in China, the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, foreign technology industry associations and trade promotion groups, among others, into discussions on how to respond. Options being considered, those people said, include a joint letter to the Chinese government raising concerns and seeking clarifications, and submitting comments to the legislature as part of the public feedback process ending Thursday. “The immediate target is to make very clear that basically the law, as it is drafted, is unworkable and would have enormous impact, really, to the detriment of China,” one person said. // Source: Wall Street Journal
  5. The Financial Times reported mixed signs for foreign groups’ prospects of success: // A spokesman for the EU delegation to China said the bloc, China’s largest trading partner, was “very concerned about the draft law”. He noted the legislation’s vague definitions for what constitutes an NGO and its activities, as well as limits on where they can work and establish branches. According to diplomats, at least two western embassies attempted to submit formal diplomatic letters — or démarches — highlighting their concerns to the Ministry of Public Security, which refused to accept them. The diplomats said their embassies were now preparing démarches for the National People’s Congress, which will decide on the law’s final draft, and other government bureaux. Some experts said the NPC might include “carveouts” exempting foreign universities and commercial organisations from the new legislation, thereby setting out clear but worrying new boundaries between permissible and non-permissible activities for organisations active in civil society.// Source: Financial Times

 Strikes in China

  1. Political scientist Jay Ulfelder presents a series of graphs illustrating strike activity across China since January 2011: // First, here’s the picture by province. This chart shows that Guangdong has been China’s most strike-prone province over the past several years, but several other provinces have seen large increases in labor unrest in the past two years, including Henan, Hebei, Hubei, Shandong, Sichuan, and Jiangsu. Right now, I don’t have monthly or quarterly province-level data on population size and economic growth to model the relationship among these things, but a quick eyeballing of the chart from the FT in my last post indicates that these more strike-prone provinces skew toward the lower end of the range of recent GDP growth rates, as we would expect. Now here’s the picture by industry. This chart makes clear that almost all of the surge in strike activity in the past year has come from two sectors: manufacturing and construction. Strikes in the manufacturing sector have been trending upward for a while, but the construction sector really got hit by a wave in just the past year that crested around the time of the Lunar New Year in early 2015. Other sectors also show signs of increased activity in recent months, though, including services, mining, and education, and the transportation sector routinely contributes a non-negligible slice of the national total. […] As CLB has reported, almost all of the strike activity in China is over pay, usually wage arrears. There’s been an uptick in strikes over layoffs in early 2015, but getting paid better, sooner, or at all for work performed is by far the chief concern of strikers in China, according to these data. // Source: Dart-throwing Chimp

 The new legacy of June Fourth

  1. On the 26th anniversary of the Tiananmen Movement, the Chinese government is carrying out the routine round-ups of activists who might try to commemorate the anniversary. Authorities banned the relevant digits of 64 and 89, even from online financial transactions. From Bloomberg: //Today marks the 26th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown and it seems as though Chinese authorities are taking no chances. Users of the popular WeChat messaging service in China haven’t even been able to transfer money with the numbers containing 64 or 89. Bloomberg’s Stephen Engle reports on “First Up.”// Source: Bloomberg
  2. A group of 11 Chinese students studying overseas issued a public letter calling for transparency and accountability in the events of June 4. // The open letter from 11 students enrolled at universities in the US, UK and Australia is politically risky at a time of tightening government controls on activists and rights groups, from small charities and feminists to human rights lawyers who take on politically controversial cases. […] Gu, a chemistry student at the University of Georgia, said: “I feel strongly as a Chinese citizen with full access to information outside China that I have a responsibility to tell my fellow citizens about this. We have been living in fear for a lot of years and what we are trying to do is fight this fear so we can live in freedom.” The lengthy discussion of what happened in May and June 1989 was mostly addressed to fellow students at home in China, trapped behind what the letter called the “ever higher internet firewall”, but pointedly criticised the government. The letter said: “Some say the Communist party of China has taken lessens from 4 June and we should not pursue it anymore, and yet the repression lingers on: the truth is still being covered up; the victims are still being humiliated.” It goes on to subvert the so-called China dream, […]. “We have a dream in our hearts, that in the near future, on the basis of accurate history and the implementation of justice, everyone could live in a world free of fear. As a group of Chinese students overseas, this is our China dream.” The letter has already drawn more than 50 new signatures since it was posted online, Gu said, including one from a high-school student in China whom he described as very brave. He had not told his own parents about the letter to prevent them worrying. // Source: Guardian
  3. The letter has drawn attack from the Global Times, which published an editorial, titled “Hostile forces target younger generation”, in both Chinese and English slamming the students as stooges of Western forces (surprisingly, the comment section was made open): // The open letter claimed that the post-1980s and post-1990s generations in the mainland have been fooled and they couldn’t get to know the « truth » of the 1989 Tiananmen incident until they moved abroad to study, where they can get unlimited access to the Internet. However, it’s well-known that Internet censorship cannot prevent people acquiring sensitive information from overseas websites. The signatories mistake their own closed mindsets as the syndrome of the whole society. If the letter is truly written by a few students overseas, we have to say that those young people have been brainwashed in foreign countries, copying the paranoid minority overseas. It’s the students who participated in the Tiananmen incident who have the final say over the issue. At a time when the group, in their 50s nowadays, still play an active role in Chinese society, young students, if truly interested in what happened then, should figure out the attitude of the participants and respect their collective recognition. A majority of those student activists 26 years ago threw themselves into China’s reform and opening-up in the aftermath of the incident. As creators of China’s remarkable achievements, they have shared destiny with the country and witnessed the country’s profound changes over the past 26 years. Most of them through introspection now interpret the 1989 incident in a different way to their youth. China’s progress, the Soviet Union’s disintegration and turbulence in many other countries have fashioned their new understanding. The pro-democracy activists exiled in the Western countries after the incident are a very small part. Most have detached themselves from politics while a minority of the minority are stuck with the old stance, financially aided and manipulated by overseas hostile forces to upset China.// Source: Global Times
    i. But Chinese censors later removed the editorial due to the unintended publicity the editorial allowed the letter: // The result? More people learned about the letter, and now censors are trying to purge the editorial from the internet. That is to say, the Chinese government is censoring itself. […] As with most government-backed statements, the Global Times’ hysterical response was widely reposted across the internet by state-run media. That, no doubt, gave the letter more attention than it would have gotten on its own. To make matters worse for the government censors, the letter was posted as a Google Form, which allowed readers to add their names to the list of signatories, vastly increasing the letter’s reach.// Source: Quartz
  4. AP interviewed Gu Yi, who initiated the letter: // “We do not ask the CCP to redress the events of that spring as killers are not the ones we turn to to clear the names of the dead, but killers must be tried,” the letter reads. “We do not forget, nor forgive, until justice is done and the ongoing persecution is halted.” […] Gu said he was addressing Chinese students who had not seen the troves of photos, film footage and eyewitness accounts about the massacre that he came across only after he left China to study. “All they need to know is actually very simple,” Gu said. “Some people died, and some people killed them. If you understand that, you don’t have to understand a lot more.” // Source: Associated Press
  5. Asia Society also spoke with Gu about political activism among his generation: // [Some have suggested that most Chinese activists are from the older generation, and that this kind of action is relatively rare among post-80s and post-90s Chinese who grew up after 1989. Do you agree?] My action is to some extent conservative. We actually do have a lot of post-80s and post-90s activists in China and abroad. They’re probably not so famous. One example is a college student in Beijing who suggested last year that we could use some special method to deliver politically sensitive messages to Chinese mobile phones. Her suggestion was very creative, but it also led to her sudden disappearance, and finally, her confirmed arrest. She was a very brave girl. There was another girl named Liu Di, a freelance writer born in 1981. When she was a student, she was very active online and wrote some articles and commentaries. She was also arrested and put in jail for about a year, but when she was released she didn’t change. She kept writing and she contributed to some freethinking in China. We actually do have a lot of activists, but we have to admit that the relative proportion of these activists in the overall population is still small. Many people don’t have the information, or they are simply not interested. Many people know what this government is and what’s going on, but they choose to have their own personal lives without getting involved in politics and those complexities. This is just their personal choice. // Source: Asia Society
  6. Catherine Wang, a writer in Beijing who was born in 1989, writes for The Anthill about her efforts to come to terms with this part of her country’s history: // All afternoon, I sat in front of my laptop using a VPN to read reports on foreign websites for the first time, and watch videos of what happened twenty years ago, including of the “tank man”. Even the most hard-hearted person would have been shocked at what I saw. With tears in my eyes, I couldn’t stop searching for more images from that night. I still have the photo from 1998 when I first visited Tiananmen square. I was nine years old, smiling, with PLA soldiers standing behind me. I was so proud of the national emblems everywhere, of the slogan “Long live the PRC” above the gate of the Forbidden City, and of the soldiers with guns which are supposed to protect the nation and its people. But now it all changed. My tears were not just for those who died on June 4th, but also for myself. It hurts when the world you have built up in your mind for twenty years collapses. // Source: The Anthill
  7. Bao Tong, former aide to deposed Party leader Zhao Ziyang, who remains under house arrest in Beijing, wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times linking June 4th, Deng Xiaoping’s opening and reform policy, and endemic corruption: // While the government has periodically cracked down on graft, there has not been an anti-corruption campaign on this scale. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t corruption. In fact, during the two decades after Deng Xiaoping’s famous Southern Tour of China in 1992 — when, in semi-retirement, he traveled to Guangdong Province to forcefully promote economic liberalization — officials at all levels of the Communist Party quietly got rich. Tolerating corruption was, in fact, part of what Deng unleashed. […] The upshot of Deng’s revolution was that those with significant power got significantly rich, those with modest power got modestly rich, and those with no power remained in poverty. […] In China, if you want to “do big things,” you need to buy plenty of backup. How high an official you must pay rent to depends on whether you plan to make an impact at the village, county, provincial or even national level. Party officials at even the lowest levels can determine who within their domain will succeed and prosper. Once his interests are secured, an official becomes a major stockholder who can be relied on for green lights. So long as he gains, it’s irrelevant whether a venture helps or hurts the public. Its owner can be assured the official will channel “positive energy” to clear obstacles. Such an arrangement may do nothing to protect the environment, satisfy domestic needs or bolster public integrity, but it will no doubt drive up G.D.P.// Source: The New York Times

 Yangtze ship disaster news controlled

  1. Following a directive banning Chinese journalists from traveling to the site of last Monday night’s Yangtze River cruise ship disaster, Chinese authorities are censoring media coverage and online discussions pertaining to the incident: // […] Chinese media continue to publish hourly updates and extensive coverage—a contrast to previous information blackouts during national tragedies—but within the confines of the propaganda department’s directives. Officials have ordered outlets not to dispatch their own reporters to the scene and local journalists already there have been recalled. Chinese journalists have also been told to focus on the “positive part” of the story, like successful rescue accounts, and ordered to use only information released by state-run outlets. […] Authorities are also shutting down discussions and criticism online, and blocking Chinese language news reports that don’t follow government parameters for coverage. Today “Eastern Star” was the most censored term on the microblog Weibo, according to Free Weibo, which copies and republished censored Weibo posts. Comments calling into question officials’ explanation of weather problems and claiming that the ship’s captain ignored several weather warnings were deleted. So was a Sina news report that tracked the trajectory (link in Chinese) of the boat in detail before it over-turned.// Source: Quartz
  2. Front pages of Chinese newspapers covering the incident showed remarkable uniformity in form and content, all with a focus on official rescue efforts launched following the disaster. // China’s coverage of a deadly capsize on the Yangtze River took on a strikingly uniform presentation in its wall-to-wall domination of Wednesday’s front pages. A strong focus was on a single image of the rescue work, with many front-page articles devoted to official declarations on the all-out rescue effort. China Daily, the country’s leading English-language daily, blazoned “Hundreds Remain Missing” above the fold – meaning the upper half of the newspaper – and included a widely-circulated translation from an account by the state-run Xinhua news agency of a survivor’s ordeal from the sinking of the cruise ship Eastern Star. A photograph of orange-clad rescue workers fishing a 65-year-old survivor from the water dominated the top of the page both on- and offline. The format was similar in capital newspapers, and more terse by way of actual news and information. In the Beijing News and the Beijing Youth Daily, both leading papers in the nation’s capital, a single picture of rescue workers hauling Zhu Hongmei, the elderly female survivor, took up the entire front page. Articles on the rescue were shunted to inside pages. The Beijing Times followed much the same format// Source: Wall Street Journal
  3. Xi Jinping set the tone for the incident, saying that rescue efforts were “in time, orderly and effective”: // 东方之星号客轮翻沉事件发生后,党中央高度重视,迅速对救援和应急处置工作提出明确要求,领导和组织有关方面迅速行动,开展救援。在党中央坚强领导下,在国务院工作组直接指挥下,湖北湖南重庆等地党委和政府、中央有关部门统一行动,人民解放军、武警部队以及海事部门迅速调集力量,全力投入救援,发挥了主力军突击作用。人员搜救、人员救治和善后处理,以及原因的调查等工作正在有力、有序的进行。在这次事件应急处置当中,有关方面反应及时,救援有序,措施得力。// Source: Xinhua
  4. The WSJ observes that the Chinese government’s approach to information control demonstrates a departure from a method of “denials and suppression” towards a more “calibrated approach” that seeks to shape the story instead of censoring coverage completely: // […In] the Yangtze disaster the government is displaying much greater openness than was common in major mining and other industrial disasters over the past decade, or in 2003 when authorities reacted to the deadly SARS virus by suppressing the news of its spread in China for months. This is in part recognition that suppressing news of tragedies is neither advisable nor feasible in the Internet era, experts say. […] While authorities have still released little information about overall progress of the rescue and whether hundreds are likely to have perished in the river, a lengthy CCTV report Wednesday detailed a plan for the continued rescue effort. And Mr. Zhan said other small changes were noteworthy: There is much less use of clichés such as effusive expressions of gratitude toward the Communist Party by relatives and survivors. “Chinese people are watching. They are also dissatisfied with formalism and reporting that only focuses on the leaders.” // Source: Wall Street Journal

 China internet police to ‘come to the frontstage’

  1. According to China Daily, // Starting from June 1, internet police in 50 localities – including both metropolises such as Beijing and Shanghai as well as small, impoverished city such as Bijie in southwest China’s Guizhou Province – will officially launch their own accounts on popular social networking services including Weibo and Wechat. Working 24/7, the cyber police teams are tasked to sniff out « illegal and harmful information on the internet, deter and prevent cyber crimes and improper words and deeds online, publish case reports and handle public tip-offs. » They will give warning to those involved in minor offences and help investigate law violations in more serious cases, the ministry said.// Source: China Daily
  2. Quartz looks at these new accounts and reception by netizens: // Already over two dozen accounts from Shanghai to Xinjiang and Tibet have opened on the microblog Weibo. The internet police in Fuzhou in the southeastern province of Fujian greeted bloggers by saying, “Hello dear netizens…Hope you all can support me and understand me! Follow me!” (So far the account has 20 followers.) Hebei’s internet police wrote in its greeting, “Building a harmonious society on the internet needs everyone’s effort. Please calm down and communicate politely.” […] Chinese bloggers welcomed their new minders with both irony and criticism, addressing them as “internet police uncle.” One Weibo user dared others to criticize China’s late leader Mao Zedong on the forum, writing sarcastically, “Discontent with Chairman Mao? Come and have a chat.” Another wrote (registration required), “Is this not controlling the minds and words of the people? If we keep going like this, how are we any different from North Korea?” // Source: Quartz

 Decline in the number of college graduates seeking employment in public sector

  1. // Government jobs have long been prized in China. Most years new records are set for the number of people sitting civil-service exams. University students, for all their disenchantment with politics, have been flocking to join the Communist Party in the hope of getting a leg-up into the bureaucracy. Such a career has offered security and perks aplenty. […] Students are showing signs of losing interest in the career. Civil servants are anxious. The reason is President Xi Jinping’s campaign against corruption, the most intense and sustained in the party’s history. It has made it harder to trouser the bribes that have traditionally supplemented those meagre official salaries. Many civil servants now fear a knock on the door by agents of the party’s anti-corruption department. In 2014 it punished 232,000 officials, 30% more than in the previous year. That was still only about 3% of officialdom, but the publicity surrounding these cases has compounded anxieties. Many officials are being taken, with their spouses, to learn a lesson by visiting their former colleagues in prison. A Chinese job-search website, Zhaopin.com, reported that in the three weeks after the lunar new-year holiday in February more than 10,000 government workers quit their jobs to seek greener pastures, mainly in the finance, property and technology industries—an increase of nearly one-third over the same period in 2014. The company attributed this to a new emphasis on frugality in government work. Lavish meals are now banned (much to the chagrin of restaurants, which have suffered falls in profits). Governments are no longer allowed to build fancy offices for themselves. Stricter controls have been imposed on the size of ministers’ offices and temperature settings in government buildings. The receiving of gifts and donations of cash, once common features of bureaucratic life, has become far riskier. Earlier this year an investigation revealed the diversion by the Shaanxi provincial government of 89m yuan ($14.4m) in disaster relief funds toward the construction of new homes for civil servants. Officials do receive housing benefits, but not enough to cover the kind of well-appointed accommodation to which they aspire. // Source: Economist

Hong Kong


June Fourth commemoration in Hong Kong

  1. Tens of thousands gathered in Victoria Park this year, lower than last year and also a historical low since 2009: // The 25th anniversary of the massacre last year saw an estimated 180,000 attendees. This year’s crowd was also impressive, with the six adjacent soccer fields at the park’s center quickly filling up, forcing thousands of late arrivals to be accommodated on grassy expanses elsewhere in the park. The organizers estimated the final attendance at around 135,000. (The Hong Kong police, notorious for the conservatism of their crowd estimates, put the crowd at just over 46,000.) Several hard-line democracy groups and student unions chose to give the vigil a miss and organized their own events to observe the 26th anniversary of the bloody crackdown in Beijing. Many young people do not agree with the call, made each year by the organizers of the main vigil, for a unified democratic China. Instead, they feel linguistically, culturally, and historically alienated from mainland China and argue that Hong Kong’s own struggle for democracy — which flared up during last year’s Umbrella Revolution, when thousands occupied the streets for over three months — should take precedence over trying to reform China’s communist government. // Source: Time
  2. Meanwhile, students staged a separate commemoration at the University of Hong Kong, attracting over one thousand participants: // For the first time in the commemoration’s quarter-century history, some student groups won’t be taking part and will instead hold their own memorials, in a sign of an emerging rift between young and old over Hong Kong identity that took root during the Occupy Central protests. […] “June 4 and Occupy Central are very similar,” said Otto Ng, a 19-year-old student who planned to attend the vigil for the first time. Ng said he hadn’t known much about the events in Tiananmen Square but tried to learn more after last year’s protests erupted. In both cases, “we are all students, and we are pushing for democracy and freedom,” he said, adding he was upset that dozens of tear gas canisters had been fired by Hong Kong police in a failed bid to disperse tens of thousands of protesters on the streets. // Source: Associated Press
  3. The New York Times looks at the shifting views of personal identity in Hong Kong: // Surveys have indicated that young people in Hong Kong, China’s richest major city per capita, feel less affinity toward mainland China than before the 1997 handover from British colonial rule. Instead of feeling an attachment to China, they are looking inward, disillusioned by Beijing’s uncompromising stance on freer elections in Hong Kong, which set off huge student-led protests last year. A long-running semiannual survey by the University of Hong Kong found that at the end of last year, 42.3 percent of people in the city identified as Hong Kongers, while 17.8 percent identified as Chinese — among the highest and lowest numbers since 1997. Among people ages 18 to 29, 55 percent identified themselves as Hong Kongers, according to another widely cited poll, by the Hong Kong Transition Project. For some, disillusionment with China has led to calls for more autonomy for Hong Kong, even independence. A separate rally organized by students at the University of Hong Kong was attended by hundreds of people. Some painted Chinese characters on the ground that read “The spark of democracy will glow forever.” // Source: The New York Times

 Legco expected to vote on electoral reforms on June 17

  1. // The electoral overhaul package for the 2017 chief executive election will be put before the Hong Kong legislature for debate and voting on June 17, the government said Tuesday, though the possibility of its passage is extremely low. […] A bloc of 27 opposition lawmakers reiterated its pledge to vote against the package after a meeting in Shenzhen on Sunday with three Chinese officials, who stood firm in refusing to offer any changes. Their no votes would be enough to deny the government the two-thirds majority needed. The government had needed four defectors to back the package for it to pass. However, another lawmaker, Leung Ka-lau, who represents the medical sector, said Tuesday that he would also vote against the package.// Source: Wall Street Journal

Official use of English being ‘neglected’ by Hong Kong government

  1. // The Hong Kong government has been accused of increasingly neglecting the use of English in communicating with the media and public while showing a clear bias in favour of Chinese. Critics say such an approach contravenes the equality principle laid down by the Official Languages Ordinance that requires the administration to use both Chinese and English in its official communication. A prime example is the policy of ministers penning Chinese-only blogs which began about eight years ago and is now a regular practice. No English translations are provided, even though the blogs often contain important policy ideas. Beyond blogs, there is also a growing trend of ministers delivering public speeches and statements in Chinese. When reporters ask follow-up questions, answers in English are rare. Setting the example is Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who made 61 public speeches in Chinese over the 12 months to the end of May. He made 28 speeches in English over the same period. Only six speeches were either delivered in both languages or had English translations. In comparison, the city’s first chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, delivered 49 speeches either in both languages or in Chinese with English translations in 2004. Nine speeches were delivered in Chinese only and two speeches in English only. The government’s news and media information website does not provide English translations of the chief executive’s opening statements and Cantonese discussions during the Legislative Council’s question-and-answer sessions. // Source: SCMP
    • The Hong Kong government’s language barrier: // The Post tracked down an obscure department known as the Official Languages Division under the Civil Service Bureau which is tasked with monitoring implementation of the government’s language policy. Getting a straight answer from the bureau was an exercise in frustration. Its press office could not answer a list of questions, instead quoting from its brief under the Official Languages Ordinance: « Both Chinese and English are the official languages of Hong Kong for the purpose of communication between the government and members of the public. It is the government’s policy to maintain a biliterate (Chinese and English) and trilingual (Cantonese, Putonghua and English) civil service to ensure effective communication with all sectors of the community. » When pressed to respond directly to questions about the government’s failure to use English as much as it should, the office would only say: « We fully appreciate the importance of maintaining bilingual communication with the public. Bureaus and departments will continue to be reminded to disseminate information bilingually. »
      […] The government’s post-handover policy of mother-tongue teaching has been widely blamed for exacerbating the problem. Mo is fiercely critical of the city’s education system, and has been pressing the government to reform the English language curriculum in schools. « What is horrible is that many local teachers use Chinese to teach English. They translate the terms [such as] ‘intransitive verbs’ and ‘transitive verbs’ into Chinese and ask students to follow the hard grammar rules, » she says.// Source: SCMP