Keywords: anti-sexual harassment campaign, DNA database, pension funds, poverty reduction plan, Taiwan’s Labor Standards Act.
CHINA – SOCIETY
1. #MeToo campaign reaches China, inspiring thousands of women to stand up against sexual harassment
Although the #MeToo anti-sexual harassment campaign has been spreading the world through the circulation of the two-word hashtag on social media since October 2017, it has not reached China until very recently. On 8 January 2018, Luo Xixi, a former student at Beijing’s Beihang University in 2000–2004 and now a US resident, has posted a statement with #MeToo on Weibo to accuse Chen Xiaowu, her former professor, for sexual harassment 14 years ago. Resulting from Luo’s statement, Beihang University has now suspended Chen as well as set up a unit to investigate the case. Inspired by Luo’s courageous act that went viral on the internet, college students from more than 30 Chinese universities have signed public petition letters demanding their university heads to “organize a special training on sexual harassment for all faculty and students, conduct an anonymous survey on sexual harassment among students every semester, set up a channel for students to report misconduct, and specify a person overseeing the issue” (The Diplomat, 10 January 2018). And subsequently, more and more women across the country have shared their experiences of sexual harassment, quickly localizing the #MeToo movement into #WoYeShi ( or #我也是). Despite the public support for the campaign from academics, journalists, and activists, the campaign nevertheless faced state crackdowns which have censored certain contents posted by victims on social media.
- // In October, Chinese state media crowed over the Harvey Weinstein case, arguing that Chinese culture is superior to Western culture, that harassment doesn’t happen here because men are taught to “protect” women, and that the authorities deal harshly with those who misbehave. The reality is quite different. Powerful perpetrators are habitually protected by the Chinese state, Ye said, while women’s rights groups are treated with suspicion by the Communist Party, branded as agents of foreign interference. “As long as the Communist Party remains in power, it’s arguable China will never be ready for a #MeToo movement,” said Leta Hong Fincher, author of the forthcoming book “Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China.” Abroad, the #MeToo movement has led to the downfall of many prominent men, including politicians. That’s bound to make Chinese leaders nervous, said Fincher. Not only have some women’s posts been censored on social media, but there has been none of the in-depth, investigative reporting by news media of the kind that brought down Weinstein in the United States. “There’s no press freedom in China, and there’s no rule of law, so it’s extremely difficult for victims of sexual harassment to find justice of any kind,” Fincher said. // Source: The Washington Post, 9 January 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/chinese-women-reveal-sexual-harassment-but-metoo-movement-struggles-for-air/2018/01/08/ac591c26-cc0d-4d5a-b2ca-d14a7f763fe0_story.html?utm_term=.9fd246ebe8f9
- //去年，好萊塢大製片人哈維·韋恩斯坦（Harvey Weinstein）性侵多名女星的新聞曝光後，演員艾莉莎·米蘭諾（Alyssa Milano）在推特上呼籲曾受性騷擾或性侵的女性在社交媒體分享自己的經歷，獲得全球各地大量女性響應。 據Hashtracking的統計，在過去一個月內有近190萬使用#MeToo的推文。 但在亞洲，#MeToo響應者寥。中國社交網絡上，羅茜茜的舉報可謂是首宗引發廣泛迴響的#MeToo行動。事態仍在發展當中，雖最終結果尚不明朗，但歐美網絡常見的連鎖效應，至今未有在中國網絡和社會上出現。 女性權益組織者認為，#MeToo在中國出現的形式，與西方有明顯差別。 平婦女權益機構共同發起人馮媛說：「中國的（#MeToo）行動與檢舉人，一開始就是舉報、要求懲處，更加有問責性。」[…]馮媛說，中國女性想要仿效羅茜茜、公開自己被侵害的經歷，門檻亦相對較高， 這同時也體現出制度缺位。 「無論是國家反性騷擾的法律，還是各個學校、單位都沒有反性騷擾的制度。一般女性沒有一定的凖備，她們的控訴可能就會石沉大海，沒人聽見。（檢舉）門檻高，反應慢或拖延時間，對受害者來說太不公平。」 「司法制度不完善難以為婦女討回公道，這是一方面。另一方面是各個機構沒有內部的性騷擾防治措施和流程，那些情節夠不上走法律程序的性騷擾事件，受害者也無從得到幫助和支持，肇事者輕易免掉被調查和處理。因此，靠社交媒體來引起重視、產生輿論壓力，從而進行問責。」 「但正因為這樣，我覺得站出來說的人很了不起，她們是開路者。」// Source: BBC中文網, 5 January 2018, http://www.bbc.com/zhongwen/trad/chinese-news-42577655
2. Shanghai’s masterplan sets population limit to 25 million by 2035 in hope of curbing « big city disease » and playing a greater role in the Belt and Road Initiative
On 25 December 2017, the State Council has released a statement on its website to approve Shanghai’s masterplan for 2017-2035. Following Beijing’s plan to cap its population size to 23 million by 2020, Shanghai is similarly setting a target of 25 million by 2035, as an attempt to curb the so-called big city disease, which, as defined by state media, arises “when a megacity becomes plagued with environmental pollution, traffic congestion and a shortage of public services, including education and medical care” (Guardian, 26 December 2017). Furthermore, the city aims to play a greater role in the nation’s Belt and Road Initiative as well as better integrate into the Yangtze River Delta city cluster. As a matter of fact, with a current population of over 24 million, Shanghai will need to strictly control its population growth in the next 17 years in order to meet its target. Critics are sceptical about the plan’s feasibility, considering Shanghai has largely depended on migrant workers to maintain its status as China’s financial hub. For example, Chen Youhua, a sociologist at Nanjing University, suggests that “curbing the population is unimaginable” since it would severely affect the city’s prospect. Contrary to the critics’ scepticism, Zhang Chewei, a demographer at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, wrote that Shanghai’s population will eventually stabilize because the city is becoming less attractive to migrant workers since its economy is slowing down and the income gap between regions is shrinking.
- // 规划提出，要转变城市发展模式。坚持“底线约束、内涵发展、弹性适应”，探索高密度超大城市可持续发展的新模式。牢牢守住人口规模、建设用地、生态环境、城市安全四条底线。缓解人口快速增长与资源环境紧约束之间的矛盾，严格控制常住人口规模，至2035年常住人口控制在2500万人左右。按照规划建设用地总规模负增长要求，锁定建设用地总量，控制在3200平方公里以内。把生态环境要求作为城市发展的底线和红线，锚固城市生态基底，确保生态用地只增不减。牢牢守住城市生产安全和运行安全底线，提高城市应急响应能力和恢复能力。加强历史文化风貌保护，坚持“整体保护、积极保护、严格保护”的原则，中心城区从拆改留转向留改拆，以保护保留为主，不断拓展保护对象体系。推动城市更新，更加关注城市功能与空间品质，更加关注区域协同与社区激活，更加关注历史传承与魅力塑造，促进空间利用集约紧凑、功能复合、低碳高效。应对未来经济发展和人口变化的不确定性，预留城市公共资源配置能力，建立空间留白机制，调控土地使用供应时序，为未来发展留足空间。// Source: 东方网, 5 January 2018, http://www.spcsc.sh.cn/n1939/n1944/n1945/n2300/u1ai158239.html
- // 在接受香港文汇报记者采访时，著名经济学家宋清辉直言，此次，上海更加关注和强调“人”的需求，这也是“新总规”的重中之重，即“改变了以往的经济导向，转变为更加突出以人民为中心的价值导向。”同时，宋清辉表示，“新总规”还首次明确了上海的城市发展需要严守的“土地、人口、环境、安全”四条底线，并对上海周边城市带来一次历史性的发展机遇。不仅如此，近年来，上海、香港之间不断深化沟通交流机制，有力推动了两地更深层次的合作与发展。据清晖智库统计，目前香港已是上海外商投资最大来源地，投资规模占上海吸引外资的50%以上，其中服务业占香港来沪投资的95%以上。而此次“上海2035”的发布，宋清辉直言，在上海基本建成卓越全球城市的同时，加上香港这个上海企业“走出去”的重要“窗口”的助力，相信沪港商贸合作联动发展将会迈进纵深。// Source: Wen Wei Po, 13 January 2018, http://www.sohu.com/a/216232740_112589
1. Surplus in China’s pension funds will likely turn into a deficit by 2022
A report by the Chinese Academy of Social Science indicates that the surplus in China’s pension funds will likely turn into a deficit by 2022. According to the China Aged Care Fund Actuarial Report (2018–2022) (中国养老金精算报告2018–2022) that was released on 3 January 2018, while there will be one out of every five people who do not pay for an endowment policy in 2018, the figure will rise to one in every four by 2022. Subsequently, the average number of payers supporting one retiree will fall from 2.56 in 2018 to under 2 in 2022, since the endowment funds cannot generate enough revenue to meet the expenditures. The people who are currently not participating in the insurance scheme are mostly migrant workers and workers who are flexibly employed and involved in new emerging industries (e.g. internet). According to Fang Lianquan, chief secretary of the World Social Welfare Research Centre at the Academy, “Our country’s basic endowment insurance has grown at a rate of over 10% for the past ten years, yet in the next five years the growth rate will be under 5%” (China Banking News, 4 January 2018). And as a result, “Growth in aged care funds could fall from between 10 – 20% to under 10% in the next five years, as the pace of expansion declines while growth in wages also slows” (ibid). Other than China’s slower economic growth in recent years, the disparity in pension funds’ performance among different regions is also highlighted in the report as a major problem to be tackled. Because, while provinces mostly located in the north such as Heilongjiang, Liaoning, and Jilin are facing the risk of having a negative balance, the funds in Beijing, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Shandong have continued to grow.
- // 在社會保障發展不平衡方面，雖然總體而言養老金不存在缺口，但地區之間不平衡問題十分突出。根據人社部統計，2016年中國基本養老保險基金收入37991億元，支出34004億元，收入大於支出3987億元，年末基本養老保險基金累計結存43965億元。不僅如此，作為社會保障“蓄水池”和“預備隊”的全國社保基金， 2016年年底規模已經超過了16000億元。但是，分地區看，2016年收不抵支的地區已經增至7個，分別為黑龍江、遼寧、河北、吉林、內蒙古、湖北、青海。其中黑龍江不僅當期收不抵支，且累計結餘已穿底，“負債”232億元。相比之下，廣東、北京、江蘇、浙江、山東等東部地區占據了企業養老金累計結餘的近“半壁江山”，所占比例為48.8%，其中廣東一省就以7258億元的累計結餘占總累計結餘近兩成。 在社會保障發展不充分方面，目前中國養老保險的覆蓋率超過了90%，但中國人口基數大，還有一億人沒有參保。這一億未參保的人主要包括三種人：一是靈活就業人員；二是新業態就業人員，比如互聯網業、快遞業等；三是中小企業人員，特別是以農民工為主體的從業人員。這就意味著他們將來老了以後，可能缺乏基本的養老保障。國家統計局發布的農民工監測報告也顯示，進城務工的農民工養老保險的參保率尚不足30%。不僅如此，參保隊伍不穩定、斷保退保率高也是社會保障面臨的一大問題。人社部曾發布過一個官方數字，在2013年年底，全年累計有3800萬人中斷繳納養老保險。這幾年經濟增速持續下滑、企業效益不佳以及負擔沉重問題突出，斷保退保的人數估計只會有增無減。// Source: 中國評論新聞, 10 January 2018, http://hk.crntt.com/doc/1049/3/6/0/104936055.html?coluid=53&kindid=0&docid=104936055&mdate=0110082159
- // 人社部数据显示，职工养老金的征缴收入（不含财政补助等）近年不断增长，2014、2015、2016年的增长率分别为9.7%、12.6%、16%。但与相应的养老金的支出增速分别为17.8%、18.7%和21.8%。《报告》预测了收支数据的未来走势：基金征缴收入将继续保持较快增长，但增速会轻微下降，将从2018年的12%下降到2022年的9.9%。不过，基金支出的增速并未同步下降，其增长率将从2018年的11.2%提升至2020年的11.3%，随后两年保持不变。数据背后的逻辑是，社保制度逐渐成熟，正规部门的参保人群基本实现全覆盖，而灵活就业人员和自雇者不那么容易加入制度。而未来的新业态带来的新增就业人员中，相当一部分属于灵活就业。《报告》预测，参保缴费人员的增长率将从2018年的3.1%放缓至2.5%，未来五年，平均每年离退休人员却会增长5.5%左右。也因此，制度赡养比将会上升，到2022年，需要平均2.56名在职职工供养一名退休人员。届时，全国会有一半的省份需要不到两个在职职工供养一个退休人员，其中个别省份甚至出现赡养比接近1：1的情况，支付负担可见一斑。// Source: 财经, 4 January 2018, http://yuanchuang.caijing.com.cn/2018/0104/4389162.shtml
- // The report also highlights increasing regional disparities in the performance of China’s pension funds, with the funds of some provinces on the verge of bankruptcy. “The disparity in the total fund balance for the provinces is even more pronounced, and structural contradictions are becoming more evidence,” said Fang. “In cities and provinces such as Guangdong and Beijing the size of funds continues to increase, while in the provinces of the north-east and the north-west the risk of balance exhaustion has increased.” In order to address this risk, the report proposes the establishment of a central fund which will appropriately supplement basic endowment insurance funds when necessary, as well as the linking of the payment levels, payment terms ands full career salary earnings of insurers, and the establishment of indexed adjustment mechanisms for post-retirement pensions. The report also advocates the adjustment of pension fund revenues and expenditures when appropriate, based on population and socio-economic shifts. […] With respect to “expanding sources” Tang said that a key measure would be improving and expanding the investment operations of Chinese pension funds – a trend that Beijing has driven over the past several years. // Source: China Banking News, 4 January 2018, http://www.chinabankingnews.com/2018/01/04/think-tank-warns-impending-chinese-pension-dilemma/
2. Report summarizes the first four years of China’s eight-year poverty reduction plan
The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences has recently released its Blue Book of Poverty Reduction: Annual Report on Poverty Reduction (2017) (扶贫蓝皮书：中国扶贫开发报告（2017）) which provides an overview of the first four years (2012–2016) of the eight-year state-run poverty reduction plan (2012–2020). Despite being in an unfavorable economic environment, the report praises the country for having alleviated more than 55 million people out of poverty in the last four years. While attributing the success to China’s effective management over the last 30 years, the report nevertheless states the challenges that China will face in the next four years. For example, while there is a total of 28 counties and districts having been officially removed, through legal procedures, from the country’s list of poverty-stricken counties (国家级贫困) by the year of 2016, there are still 804 left on the list to eliminate in order to meet the plan’s target by 2020.
- // 贫困县退出标准包括4个单项否决指标，分别是贫困发生率中部地区降至2%以下、西部地区降至3%以下，脱贫人口错退率低于2%，贫困人口漏评率低于2%和群众认可度高于90%。中共中央办公厅、国务院办公厅于2016年4月印发的《关于建立贫困退出机制的意见》明确了贫困县退出的程序，具体是：县级扶贫开发领导小组提出，市级扶贫开发领导小组初审，省级扶贫开发领导小组核查，确定退出名单后向社会公示征求意见。公示无异议的，由各省份扶贫开发领导小组审定后向国务院扶贫开发领导小组报告。国务院扶贫开发领导小组组织中央和国家机关有关部门及相关力量对地方退出情况进行专项评估检查。对不符合条件或未完整履行退出程序的，责成相关地方进行核查处理。对符合退出条件的贫困县，由省级政府正式批准退出。该意见所提出的相关力量对贫困县退出进行专项评估检查，在实践中被调整为通过独立第三方进行专项评估检查，这进一步增强了退出结果评估的客观性。[…] 在经济增长对减贫的自动拉动作用减弱的条件下，如何通过一系列的干预制度和方法设计，在较短时期内实现贫困人口较大规模的减少，是迄今为止国际反贫困理论和实践中尚未解决的问题。其原因在于：在资本主义市场经济条件下，贫困的减少，取决于经济增长的方式和性质以及穷人利用经济增长所创造出来的机会的能力；一旦市场经济创造的机会减少或消失，贫困减少只能主要通过福利制度等再分配制度和政策的作用来实现。而通过再分配制度和政策减贫，第一，容易形成受益者的福利依赖；第二，除了消费的作用以外不能产生积极的经济影响；第三，用于再分配的资金如果规模过大，支持再分配解决贫困的方案很难被社会接受，因此短期内难以依靠再分配方式解决大规模贫困人口的脱贫。// Source: 海量智库报告, 2 January 2018, https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/ijxnkghxh-q6JL1TOEFpkg
- // 精准脫貧是中國全面建成小康社會的三大攻堅戰之一。但近段時間以來，扶貧工作被曝多有形式主義。一些地區反映，頻繁填表報數、迎評迎檢、陪會參會等扶貧領域的一些做法，耗費了基層干部大量精力。 比如，內蒙古自治區一個旗由于在檢查評比中排名靠后，旗委書記已被約談做檢討，而12月末又將迎來新一輪檢查，如果第二次排在后五名，他的上級領導將直接被問責，“迎檢”已成全旗頭等大事。 但從實際情況看，評比檢查有些勞民傷財。哪個地方“迎檢”，都要做展板、拉橫幅、准備各种材料和辦公用品，還得好吃好住好招待。這個旗一位干部透露，上次為迎接另一個旗縣來交叉檢查，全旗花在培訓、差旅費、接待費上共計20万元（1元人民幣約合0.157美元），這20万元至少夠給20個貧困戶每家買頭牛了。// Source: 多維新聞, 27 December 2017, http://news.dwnews.com/china/big5/news/2017-12-27/60032217.html
1. China in the process of building the world’s biggest DNA database, critics concern about the violation of people’s privacy
According to the Wall Street Journal – which claims to have examined police documents across the country, China is in the process of building the world’s biggest DNA database and aiming to increase the number of profiles from the current 54 to 100 million by 2020. Characterized by the state as procedures of crime-solving and fighting, mass screenings have been conducted in different parts of the country targeting people who did not commit any crimes but are considered a risk to social stability such as migrant workers and coal miners. Moreover, “DNA saliva swabs or blood samples are routinely gathered from people detained for violations such as forgetting to carry identity cards or writing blogs critical of the state” (Wall Street Journal, 27 December 2017). And “[i]n parts of the country, law enforcement has stored DNA profiles with a subject’s other biometric information, including fingerprints, portraits and voice prints” (Ibid). Compared to countries like the US where its DNA database does not grow so rapidly since collection is limited to people who have committed serious crimes, China does not have laws that regulate DNA collection outside of criminal investigation. According to Human Rights Watch, the DNA of 14 million residents in Xinjiang have been collected through medical check-ups since 2016; hence, critics have warned against such data collection as it would violate people’s privacy.
- //中國正運用各種手段建立全球最大的DNA數據庫，學者指出，將這些DNA檔案與一些即時監控工具結合，對中國共產黨發展出一個鋪天蓋地的「數位極權國家」大有助益。 華爾街日報（The Wall Street Journal）報導，在以蒸汽火車和茉莉花知名的四川樂山市犍為縣，當警察到課堂上要求所有男童向小塑膠盒吐口水時，這些學童並沒有多想。 被要求吐口水的若干男童表示，警察沒有告訴他們，為什麼要這麼做。從幼兒園到高中，數百名男學生依指示提供讓每個盒中濾紙從粉紅色變成白色的足夠唾液。濾紙顏色的轉變顯示，檢體含量足以讓鑑識人員提取這些男孩的DNA，也就是他們獨特的遺傳指紋。 這些DNA也能用來辨識每個男孩與其血親共有的生物特徵。 犍為縣警方說，他們的計畫奏效。他們原本希望藉由採集DNA，為9年前未偵破的兩名店員命案提供線索。不久後，他們就在國營媒體上宣布捕獲凶手。 這個行動還有額外收穫，即警方採集比需求多出許多的DNA，可加入當局建立的DNA數據庫。在北局設法加強監控14億人民情況下，這是向全國撒下的高科技安全網必要的部分。// Source: CNA, 27 December 2017, http://www.cna.com.tw/news/firstnews/201712270391-1.aspx
- // Authorities in China have engaged in a major push to collect DNA information for years, with the Ministry of Public Security saying in 2015 its database was already the world’s largest, with some 44 million entries, according to Chinese academics. An HRW report earlier this year said DNA data is collected indiscriminately, in the name of « solving crimes, » with few safeguards to protect citizens’ privacy. Judges in other jurisdictions have expressed concerns at this type of broad biometric data collection, with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling in 2008 the retention of fingerprints and DNA from people acquitted of crimes breached their right to privacy. The UN has also warned DNA databases can « raise human rights concerns, including potential misuse of government surveillance (for example, identification of relatives and non-paternity) and the risk of miscarriages of justice. » Nor will the collection of this data necessarily help the authorities’ stated goals of reducing crime and religious extremism, according to Richardson. « Chinese authorities seem to think they can achieve ‘social stability’ by placing people under a microscope, but these abusive programs are more likely to deepen hostility towards the government, » she said. // Source: CNN, 12 December 2017, http://edition.cnn.com/2017/12/12/asia/china-xinjiang-dna/index.html
- // 據《華爾街日報》報導，中國科技巨頭正與政府部門合作創建數碼身份證件，可替代政府頒發的實體身份證。 報導稱，阿里巴巴集團旗下螞蟻金服正在武漢進行測試，研究使公民通過支付寶系統辦理護照申請預約等手續，其經過實名認證的支付寶訊息在武漢、深圳亦可作為正式身份證件，用於配合常規交通檢查等。 早在上週，騰訊公司旗下的微信與廣州警方合作推出「網絡身份證」，當地居民可通過微信「刷臉」或錄入個人訊息等方式獲得相關網証，以替代實體身份證辦理政務、住宿、車票等。該項目計劃在廣州試行一週後，已自1日於全國推廣。 《華爾街日報》報導認為，這一趨勢反映中國政府愈來愈依賴國內大型科技公司，以利用最新的數碼技術對國民實施監控。 // Source: Initium, 2 January 2018, https://theinitium.com/article/20180102-evening-brief/
2. The People’s Armed Police became a division under the Central Military Commission from 1 January 2018
Shortly after the Central Military Commission has added a new guideline to command its military force to pledge absolute loyalty to President Xi Jinping – who is now the chairman of the Commission – since October 2017, the Community Party has furthermore taken full control over the People’s Armed Police (PAP) since 1 January 2018. While the PAP was previously operated under the dual leadership of the State Council and the Central Military Commission, it has now become a division under the Central Military Commission only. « [N]oting how the president inherited a corrupt and increasingly independent-minded military when he came to power in 2012 » (Financial Times, 11 January 2018), observers have suggested that such move has further secured and centralized Xi’s power as well as given him a strong grip over the military force. Indeed, « the military’s command structure has been targeted in an aggressive anti-corruption purge » (ibid), during which high-profile vice-generals under the Commission were prosecuted and even sentenced to life imprisonment. According to the South China Morning Post, “[t]he changes have included the replacement of top military brass with Xi loyalists. Analysts said the latest consolidation could have arisen from anxiety over the potential use of the police force to stage a coup”.
- // 2017年12月27日，中共決定對武警部隊領導體制實施改革，重點是收歸領導指揮權力。 中共中央決定，自2018年1月1日起，武警部隊收歸中央軍委建制，不在受國務院領導，並施行「中央軍委－武警部隊－部隊領導指揮」體制。 近期有關武警改革的消息頻出。首先是1月1日後，原來的武警天安門國旗護衛隊番號已被取消，原先的任務由解放軍三軍儀仗隊接替。 其次，消息人士透露，武警部隊已將擁有的14個機動師番號裁撤，編入武警駐各省市自治區內衛總隊和新成立的2個機動總隊，並且所有部隊全部移防。 對於武警部隊改革的原因，有中共軍方退役軍官曾表示，武警部隊雙重領導體制存在重大弊端，會弱化中共絕對領導；為「第二武裝」埋下不穩定隱患；地方長期濫用武警部隊。該退役軍官特別強調，改革武警部隊目的是防止諸如周永康、薄熙來等濫用。// Source: HK01, 10 January 2018, https://www.hk01.com/%E5%85%A9%E5%B2%B8/148500/%E7%BF%92%E8%BF%91%E5%B9%B3%E5%90%91%E6%AD%A6%E8%AD%A6%E9%83%A8%E9%9A%8A%E6%8E%88%E6%97%97-%E5%BC%B7%E8%AA%BF%E8%A6%81-%E5%A0%85%E6%B1%BA%E8%81%BD%E9%BB%A8%E6%8C%87%E6%8F%AE-
- // “Maintaining discipline is the major goal, as well as heightening the loyalty to Xi. Everyone with a weapon has to be utterly loyal to Xi and the party,” said Liu Bojian, a researcher at the East Asian Institute of the National University of Singapore. “It’s a consistent process of power centralisation in the military.” In a sign of this centralisation, the PAP, whose mission is to quell civil disturbances and protests, transferred on January 1 to Communist party control. Late last year its 1.5m members lauded Mr Xi with the song “Be a good soldier for Chairman Xi” — mirroring a similar tune once sung about revolutionary leader Mao Zedong. […] As part of this, the military’s command structure has been targeted in an aggressive anti-corruption purge. Among the first high-profile targets were Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong, two former vice-generals under China’s central military commission, which oversees the People’s Liberation Army. “The army is the gun, the police is the knife. [Xi] wants personal and highly concentrated control over the gun and the knife,” said Willy Lam, professor of politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “There’s still a lot of Xu and Guo faction members in the PLA, and Xi Jinping does not feel very secure. That’s why he is pulling out all the stops to show he is firm control.”// Source: Financial Times, 11 January 2018, https://www.ft.com/content/72a64aec-f698-11e7-88f7-5465a6ce1a00
The shocking death of a five-year-old girl calls attention to the severity of child abuse cases in Hong Kong
On 6 January 2017, a five-year-old girl covered in bruises and infected wounds – some as big as 10cm across – was certified death shortly after arriving Tuen Mun Hospital unconscious. On 9 January 2017, the court revealed that her eight-year-old brother has also been severely abused by their father, a 26-year-old transport worker, and stepmother, a 27-year-old housewife, who are currently facing a murder charge. According to the prosecutor after having interviewed the diseased girl’s brother and her seven-year-old half-sister, the two children were abused daily by their parents who have beaten them with canes, smacked their faces with slippers, and poked their chests with scissors. The two children were not given enough food and were made to sleep on the living room floor. On the day before her death, the girl was hurled into the air, causing her head to hit the ceiling a dozen times. Soon after the incident was exposed on local media, the public has accused schools the siblings attended for not adequately following up despite the children appeared abused and malnourished. Representatives from the Hong Kong Social Workers’ General Union, and the Hong Kong Aided Primary School Heads Association have requested the Hong Kong government for more training as well as a clearer guideline for school practitioners to deal with cases of family violence. The shocking death of the girl has called public attention to the severity of child abuse cases in Hong Kong. While there were 892 reported cases of abuse against children in 2016, social welfare workers have argued that such figure only represents the tip of an iceberg. According to the South China Morning Post, “A study by the University of Hong Kong from a decade ago estimated that about 70,000 children were subject to “severe violence” through corporal punishment by their parents each year, and these cases of abuse were almost always unreported”.
- // A walk through a housing estate in Yuen Long reveals the stress factors that social workers say can turn people into real-life monsters towards children. These include poverty, estranged relationships, living in close quarters with others in subdivided flats, for instance, and, for new immigrants, the struggle to adapt to life in Hong Kong. Lee Yu-po, service manager at child protection group Against Child Abuse, said the districts with higher numbers of child abuse cases have more low-income families, and their living conditions would definitely make them more stressed out. “Many live in cubicle apartments … they might not be able to rest properly and the tight living space could also result in more family conflicts.” She added that the other kinds of cases her group handles – including family violence – were also prevalent in poorer districts, with the addition of Wong Tai Sin and Sham Shui Po. […] Fung, who is from the city’s Social Workers’ General Union’s concern group on primary school guidance services, said the districts with more cases of reported abuse tended to have a higher immigrant population – including those from the mainland who might be poorer and less educated. “Some new immigrants tend to have a more traditional Chinese mindset, thinking that beating a child is part of their upbringing,” he said. Lawmaker Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, who chairs the Legislative Council’s Subcommittee on Children’s Rights, said other traits of abusers included drug abuse, mental health problems, having undergone a teenage pregnancy and having a history of being abused. New immigrants, he said, were at risk as they had weaker family networks and lacked support. // Source: South China Morning Post, 15 January 2018, http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-crime/article/2128210/when-care-turns-cruelty-hong-kong-most-child-abuse-victims
- //本港過去一星期接連發生虐兒慘劇，有意見要求設立「強制呈報機制」，有退休幼稚園校長表示，校方對處理懷疑虐兒個案感無助和自求多福，缺乏專業支援人員；有社福界人士表示，考慮應否將懷疑虐兒個案呈報諮詢或呈報作轉介個案存灰色地帶，建議小學幼稚園設常額社工服務，改革現時社工輔導服務由機構每年投標的機制。勞福局局長羅致光表示，政府對「強制呈報機制」及「一校一社工」等建議持開放態度。[…]幼稚園協會會長唐少勳表示，很多幼稚園有傳統中國家庭觀念，傾向隱惡揚善，因此學校對必需呈報未持開放態度；加上現時部份幼稚園沒有駐校社工，大多教職員沒有受過專業訓練，對危機辨識不夠深入，難以完全掌握「轉介」社署的指引。她說，即使教職員發現懷疑虐兒個案，卻難以找到協助途徑，坦言幼稚園對處理懷疑虐兒個案感無助和自求多福，認為政府如可增撥資源，讓教職員完成修讀相關專業訓練，處理上會較好。// Source: HKET, 14 January 2018, https://topick.hket.com/article/1989950/%E7%A4%BE%E7%A6%8F%E7%95%8C%E5%80%A1%E8%A8%AD%E5%BC%B7%E5%88%B6%E8%99%90%E5%85%92%E5%91%88%E5%A0%B1%E3%80%80%E5%8B%9E%E7%A6%8F%E5%B1%80%E6%8C%81%E9%96%8B%E6%94%BE%E6%85%8B%E5%BA%A6
Revisions to the Labor Standards Act sparked labor protests; civil society groups seek to organize a referendum in hope of appealing the amendments
The Taiwan Legislature has recently passed controversial amendments to the Labor Standards Act, prompting for a more flexible work rule than the five-day work week that was passed by the Kuomintang government in May 2015. The reformed policy has changed 1) the maximum consecutive working days from seven to 12; 2) the hours of rest in between work shifts from 11 to eight; and 3) the allowed overtime hours per month from 46 to 54 (but capped at 138 hours over a three-month period). In the days preceding to the passage of the amendments on 10 January 2018, thousands of people, many of them laborers, have marched on the street protesting against the law enforcement since it would worsen their working conditions. Subsequently, on 12 January, the Social Democratic Party has met with other civil society groups such as the Taiwan Alliance for Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare, Tainan Sprout, and Taiwan Pioneer Labor Association in hope of organizing a referendum to appeal the amendments. While the people who opposed the amendments were most concerned about their unfavorable working conditions, and the fact that the amendments would benefit employers who are now able to request employees to work longer hours, Premier and representative of the amendment Lai Ching-te has, however, “insisted that the proposal benefits not only employers but also employees, because employees need more hours to work to make ends meet” (Focus Taiwan, 10 January 2018).
- //事實上，在黨國教育潛移默化之下，許多人心中並不清楚民主法治是什麼，常常把轉型正義當成清算。不過，轉型正義的核心價值是建立民主法治的國家，以國家的角度反省威權時代所犯下的錯誤，讓人權價值深入人心，使威權永遠不會再回來。因此，轉型正義的基礎不能是「空想」，必須翔實的調查證據，並依照證據做出判斷，也要節制政府權力的濫用。[…] 在這條路上，我們需要歷史人耙梳資料與脈絡，也要在考量個人隱私之後，將這些屬於全民的相關資料以開放的格式與授權釋出，供大眾應用、研究，讓全民能看見轉型正義的價值，認清過往的歷史。把民主、人權與法治的觀念深植人心，反省獨裁時期的錯誤，並透過教育讓更多人了解威權所犯下的錯誤，讓未來的台灣不會走回獨裁的老路。 轉型正義，就是誠實面對國家犯過的錯誤，不只是透過政策或作為的修補，更需要透過資料的開放，讓大家一起反省。如此，才能鞏固我們的民主，確保我們不再走上獨裁政權的老路。// Source: Apple Daily, 6 December 2017, https://tw.appledaily.com/new/realtime/20171206/1254405/
- // 靜下心來觀察本次的《勞基法》修正爭議，即便是表面上關於「加班費如何計算」的法規，仍必須被放在「休息時間」的框架下來看待。若連串規定成功降低了老闆要求勞工休假上班的成本，自然會減少勞工的休息時間，對於渴望休息的勞工而言，「休息是受雇者不被雇主擁有的時刻，是每個工人可以作自己的時刻，是一個真正像人的時刻。」[…] 但是，對於決策者而言，勞工團體關於「休息時間」的訴求，顯然仍須與其他因素進行平衡。《勞基法》通過的當天上午，行政院長賴清德出席「天下經濟論壇」並接受媒體訪問，指出政府「在整個修法之前或修法之後，其實也有各項民意調查做為參考，充分反應主流民意到底是在哪裡。」顯然在行政院的判斷中，當前這部《勞基法》仍無疑是「主流民意」的展現。 這「主流民意」四字，至為關鍵。對於賴清德而言，協助他判斷主流民意的根據，肯定不只有民意調查的數據，而他所究竟感受到什麼「主流民意」？或可從受訪當天的另一個關鍵字來觀察，即是他要替台灣打造一個符合「OECD國家（標準）、既安全又彈性」的勞動體制，這雇主所希望的「彈性」二字，即是「休息時間」在戰爭中的主要敵人。// Source: Initium, 13 January 2018, https://theinitium.com/article/20180113-labor-standards-act-taiwan/
- // Chen Hsin-hsing (陳信行), a member of the Taiwan Higher Education Union and one of the protest’s organizers, told The News Lens by phone that he, along with other unions, hoped to raise awareness of labor rights in the long-term through their protests and to create a stronger structure for union organizations. He said that 93 percent of labor workers in Taiwan are not affiliated with labor unions. Labor activists understand that relying solely on the government to protect labor rights is unfeasible, he said, adding, “Only having unions in place will allow more protections for workers.” Chen also said that they hoped the government would revise the act to its form prior before the Tsai administration, specifically returning the seven national holidays that they had removed in a previous revision of the LSA. A protester surnamed Chang said in his field of work in the internet communications industry, there are no union groups that could negotiate terms with employers. “All terms are decided by the employers,” he said, adding that under such conditions, workers are more likely to be asked to work overtime. The amendment that was the biggest problem in his field of work is the relaxation of resting time between shifts. Chang said that he would not be able to rest enough between shifts, especially during periods where workers are burdened by writing proposals, hosting events or making shipments. If revisions to the rule that mandates one day off in any seven-day period are made, he said it was likely that the time frame of working under such conditions would be exacerbated. // Source: The News Lens, 9 January 2018, https://international.thenewslens.com/article/87245