28 September 2017

Keywords: Interpol, Whatsapp, Lee Hsien Loong’s visit, textbook for schoolgirls, Banners advocating for Hong Kong independence on university campuses, Lee Ming-che.

Huayang Nuhai

Source: Sina News


1. China involved in about 3,000 investigations handled through Interpol

The 86th International Police Organization (Interpol) General Assembly was opened in Beijing on 26 September. Following the allegations against the tycoon Guo Wengui in April 2017, the Chinese government stated that it is currently involved in about 3,000 investigations handled through the Interpol. Despite of the Interpol’s claim that it operates in accordance with the international human rights standards and Beijing’s claim that its red notices are valid, human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch have warned of the possibility of the country’s requests to arrest people pending extradition are politically motivated.

  • //China will push for greater international cooperation in the fight against corruption and terrorism when it hosts Interpol’s general assembly next week, according to diplomatic sources familiar with the matter, against a backdrop of concerns China is using the body for its own goals. […] Beijing has faced reluctance, in Western countries in particular, when it asks for the repatriation of those wanted for alleged crimes in China. Governments and judiciary in these countries have been concerned that the Chinese don’t produce evidence acceptable for Western courts, and that defendants might be mistreated and won’t get a fair trial in China amid concerns that allegations can be politically motivated. Western diplomats familiar with Chinese requests say China sometimes misunderstands that in Western countries it needs to process its demands through the courts.// Source: Reuters, 24 September 2017.
  • //去年國際刑警組織選出中國公安部副部長孟宏偉當主席,令一些人權組織質疑能否信任北京不會利這個全球警察合作組織作為通緝海外異見者的平台。 不過對於孟宏偉在國際刑警組織中的作用問題,在北京的外交官說他的職務主要是禮節性的。總部在法國里昂的國際刑警組織說,國際刑警組織的秘書長是德國官員施陶克(Jürgen Stock),他是該組織全職處理日常國際警察合作的官員。 […] 作為習近平大力反腐運動的一部分,2014年中國對100名涉嫌腐敗逃亡海外的被通緝人員發出了國際刑警組織的紅通令。到目前為止已經有近半被通緝對象被帶回中國。中國官方宣佈自2008年至今已經從54個國家和地區成功將730餘名重大經濟犯罪嫌疑人緝捕回國[…]不過一些國家的政府和司法機構,特別是西方國家,並不十分願意滿足中國關於遣返通緝犯的要求,他們擔心中國提供的證據不能為西方法庭接受,而且被通緝者在中國可能不會得到公正審判。// Source: BBC 中文網, 24 September 2017.
  • // Since coming to power in 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping – who is expected to deliver the opening speech at the three-day general assembly – has staged a wide-sweeping campaign to repatriate Chinese citizens suspected of corruption and terrorism offences. In that time, Interpol has issued about 200 “red notices” a year at the request of Beijing, according to the Legal Daily report. […] New York-based Human Rights Watch claimed that many of the red notices requested by China were “politically motivated”. It urged Interpol to take steps to curb abuse of the red notice system, while establishing measures to prevent wrongful arrests and extradition. […] Meng Hongwei, China’s vice-minister of public security, is the agency’s current president, but the position is regarded as largely ceremonial, as day-to-day operations are controlled by full-time Secretary General Jürgen Stock. The rights group said China’s record of arbitrary detention, torture and enforced disappearance, as well as unlawful forced repatriation, meant that the subjects of Interpol red notices issued on its behalf could be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. // Source: South China Morning Post, 25 September 2017.

2. China’s crackdown on WhatsApp signals broadening internet censorship before the Community Party’s meeting

The Facebook-owned messaging mobile application WhatsApp has experienced a series of disruptions and a total crackdown in mainland China on 25 September. Given the WhatsApp’s advanced encryption technology, internet specialists have suggested that China might have developed new software to interfere the application’s function. The blocking of the last Facebook product available in China signals the state’s tightening internet control before the upcoming Communist Party’s national congress in October.

  • //China has largely blocked the WhatsApp messaging app, the latest move by Beijing to step up surveillance ahead of a big Communist Party gathering next month. The disabling in mainland China of the Facebook-owned app is a setback for the social media giant, whose chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, has been pushing to re-enter the Chinese market, and has been studying the Chinese language intensively. WhatsApp was the last of Facebook products to still be available in mainland China; the company’s main social media service has been blocked in China since 2009, and its Instagram image-sharing app is also unavailable. In mid-July, Chinese censors began blocking video chats and the sending of photographs and other files using WhatsApp, and they stopped many voice chats, as well. But most text messages on the app continued to go through normally. The restrictions on video, audio chats and file sharing were at least temporarily lifted after a few weeks. WhatsApp now appears to have been broadly disrupted in China, even for text messages, Nadim Kobeissi, an applied cryptographer at Symbolic Software, a Paris-based research start-up, said on Monday. The blocking of WhatsApp text messages suggests that China’s censors may have developed specialized software to interfere with such messages, which rely on an encryption technology that is used by few services other than WhatsApp, he said. // Source: New York Times, 25 September 2017.
  • //香港中文大學研究互聯網傳播的專家徐洛文(Lokman Tsui)說,從周日開始,WhatsApp似乎受到嚴重干擾。但他表示,部分WhatsApp用戶也許依然能夠使用該應用。 中國當局曾有過大面積、但不是全部屏蔽互聯網服務,「如果只允許你一個小時開一英里(約合1.6公里),你是不會走那條路的,即便嚴格說來路並沒有被封」,徐洛文說。[…] 對於中共十九大前,內地訊息管控不斷加碼,引起內地部份網民熱議。「與客戶失聯,被迫回到用電話和郵件工作的時代」,一名用戶在類似Twitter的網站新浪微博上寫道。「現在連WhatsApp也被屏了?我很快就要破產了」,另一名中國社群媒體用戶在微博上說。// Source: Hong Kong Economic Times, 26 September 2017.


1. China welcomed Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong’s official visit

On 19 September, Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore, arrived in China to meet four top Chinese leaders – including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang – on a three-day official visit. Lee’s visit is seen as both countries’ attempt to amend their fragile relationship, after the seizure of Singapore’s military vehicles in Hong Kong and the city state’s backing of an international tribunal’s ruling against China’s claim of sovereignty over the South China Sea last year. As Singapore will take on the role of ASEAN’s chair next year, the city state is expected to play a significant role in coordinating China’s relations with the US and Southeast Asia.

  • //中國國家主席習近平20日接見李顯龍,強調中新兩國必須「相互理解和尊重,在涉及彼此核心利益和重大關切問題上相互支持」。習近平又指,兩國在經濟全球化、貿易自由化、投資便利化方面立場相近,希望在「一帶一路」這個合作重點上,建設好中新(重慶)戰略性互聯互通示範項目,並在地區層面上帶動其他國家共同參與國際陸海貿易新通道建設。習近平並未說明何謂「涉及彼此核心利益」和「重大關切問題」,但如果放在去年的背景來看,情況相當清楚。由2015年起,新加坡成為中國與東盟的「協調國」,任期3年,但李顯龍頻頻發表親美言論,表現很難算得上稱職。例如他去年初接受《華爾街日報》專訪時聲稱,假如進行「秘密投票」,亞洲國家都會支持美國介入亞洲,又指若果通過由美國主導的《跨太平洋夥伴關係協議》(TPP),便能阻止中國在亞太區制訂規則。南海仲裁案結果出台後,李顯龍公開與中國打對台,呼籲各方接受仲裁結果,有關言行被解讀為配合美國圍堵中國。中國其後採取具有報復意味的反制措施,包括去年年底由香港海關扣留剛在台灣參加訓練的多輛裝甲車,亦在今年5月拒絕邀請李顯龍出席在北京舉行的「一帶一路」高峰論壇。// Source: HK01, 25 September 2017.
  • // As a regional leader, Singapore was instrumental in forming China’s relations with the West, particularly with the United States and Asean nations. The elder Lee helped broker a deal for Washington to end its economic sanctions on China, following the June 4 crackdown in 1989. To date, Singapore’s foreign policies have followed the elder Lee’s philosophy of “the balance of power” – tending to be pro-China economically, but pro-US militarily – while also trying to maintain an independent mindset. Meanwhile, China’s foreign policy has changed in recent decades with the current leadership redefining the country’s role, shifting it away from Deng’s “low key” diplomacy towards a more high-profile “Chinese dream” and “national rejuvenation” policy. […] Xi was quoted as telling Lee there were many opportunities to forge ties with Singapore in a “new historical chapter”. Lee reportedly told Xi that Singapore would work closely with China to take relations to the next level and voiced support for China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which Xi said should be the focus of bilateral cooperation. A senior Chinese foreign ministry official said in a briefing for the overseas media that Lee’s visit, coming so close to the opening of China’s 19th congress next month when the country’s new leadership line-up for the next five years will be unveiled sent “an important political signal” regarding bilateral ties. // Source: South China Morning Post, 24 September 2017.
  • // Singapore has been carefully playing a role as an honest broker between China and the West. For Beijing, Singapore – the only country outside China with a majority Chinese population – has offered a particularly attractive model of Western-style economic modernisation in a society with traditional Chinese-style values. Singapore’s Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat was Lee’s principal private secretary in 1999, when he helped act as a go-between at a time when tensions between Beijing and the US escalated following Nato’s bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade and negotiations to ensure China’s entry to the World Trade Organisation failed. According to Heng, Lee organised separate meetings with Madeline Albright, the US secretary of state at the time, and her Chinese counterpart Tang Jiaxuan. He told the Americans that it was not in their interest to be adversarial towards China or to treat it as an enemy, while advising the Chinese to tap into the markets, technology and capital of the US to develop the economy. // Source: South China Morning Post, 21 September 2017.

2. China enforces UN economic sanction on North Korea

China is under increasing international pressure to intervene as North Korea’s neighboring country and main trading partner. Complying with the UN Security Council sanctions against Pyongyang for its latest launches of missiles, China has stopped banks from working with North Korea as well as closed down all the North Korean businesses in the Chinese territory from mid-September. Accounting for about 90% of North Korea’s foreign trade, while China’s corporation is considered key to the actual enforcement of the UN sanctions and in facilitating the US government’s effort to end Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, it is in no easy position to maneuver between North Korea and the US. According to a Reuters article, some anonymous US officials have pointed out that China’s priority is to prevent political collapse on the Korean peninsula which might push a large population of refugees into northeastern China. Despite the international community’s high expectation of China in enforcing the sanctions, scholars have commented that it is unlikely for China to make any major impacts.

  • //北韓本月初核試、上周五又試射飛彈,朝鮮半島持續緊張,聯合國安理會近日通過對北韓制裁案,美國總統川普(Donald Trump)計劃下月訪問中國,繼續推動中國施壓北韓,不過《紐約時報》近日分析,國際希冀中國解決北韓危機根本不切實際,因為中國就算心有餘,也力不足。[…] 眾所周知,北韓視核武為其保命符,認為唯有擁核,能讓美國不敢進犯。美國美國加州明德大學「蒙特雷國際研究學院」學者路易斯(Jeffrey Lewis)說,聲稱中國可施壓北韓放棄核武的說法,「既可悲又絕望」。 他指出,想像你是北韓領導人金正恩,你看著中國棄你而去,加入對你制裁的敵營,逼你解除武裝:「這種情況下你最不想做的就是放棄核武,這是你唯一擁有,而他們(敵營)無法控制的東西,你絕不會放棄。」[…] 南韓延世大學國際研究助理教授魯樂漢(John Delury)直言:「不,中國不能幫我們解決北韓問題。」他指中國可以繼續減少規模已經很小的與北韓貿易與投資,「但是中國無法讓金正恩轉向,因為北韓非常擅長於忍受痛苦。」// Source: Apple Daily, 19 September 2017.
  • //Donald Trump has issued a new executive order that expands US sanctions on North Korea’s shipping, banking, ports and manufacturing. Trump also claimed China’s banking system had shut down business with the country. Reuters reported earlier in the day that China’s central bank had ordered financial institutions to implement UN sanctions rigorously after frequent complaints from Washington that Beijing was leaving open too many loopholes. Trump thanked China’s President Xi Jinping and said the move was “very bold” and “somewhat unexpected”. […] But it is unclear whether any amount of financial or economic pain would induce Kim Jong-un to relinquish North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missiles, which he believes are essential for the regime’s survival. // Source: The Guardian, 21 September 2017.
  • // The United States sees China as critical to averting a military confrontation with Pyongyang, which is fast advancing toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the United States. U.S. officials say Beijing appears increasingly willing to cut ties to North Korea’s economy by adopting U.N. sanctions, after long accounting for some 90 percent of its neighbor’s foreign trade. […] U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, say they believe China’s priority is stability on the Korean peninsula, since a political collapse would almost certainly push destabilizing waves of refugees into northeastern China. […] China says it will strictly and fully enforce U.N. resolutions against North Korea and its Commerce Ministry on Thursday said North Korean firms in China and joint ventures in China and overseas would be shut down by January, in line with the latest UN resolution.// Source: Reuters, 30 September 2017.


1. Branch of Chinese think tank established in Hong Kong

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), the state’s top research and advisory body, has recently established a research institute in Hong Kong. Registered as the Chinese Institute of Hong Kong, commentators have suggested that the local branch of the Chinese think tank is expected to foster academic exchange between mainland China and Hong Kong as well as collect data concerning the city’s development.

  • // A top-level Chinese think tank that advises the leadership has set up a branch in Hong Kong in what analysts said was an attempt by the central government to improve its knowledge of the city and better formulate policy. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), a ministerial-level research institution that covers issues from border disputes to international trade policy, registered a company in Hong Kong on June 27, named the Chinese Institute of Hong Kong, according to a submission to the Hong Kong Companies Registry. CASS can play a significant role in policymaking if it is authorised by the government to take on special research projects. Every mainland Chinese province and municipality, as well as some big cities, has a CASS branch. The Hong Kong CASS branch, albeit with a toned-down name, will play a key role in collecting data about Hong Kong for the central government and finding out the economic, political and social factors underlying such events as the Occupy movement in 2014, said Peng Peng, a sociologist at the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences. // Source: South China Morning Post, 17 September 2017.
  • // Records showed the institute was established just days before the 20th anniversary of the city’s reunification with the mainland. It has a mission to promote academic exchange between Hong Kong and the mainland, to serve the city’s economic, social and cultural development and to enhance its competitiveness, according to a report of its inauguration ceremony, which was also mentioned on the academy’s website. There have been suggestions that policymakers in Beijing get most of their information about Hong Kong from local officials, “mainland experts” on short visits and the city government, which raises the question as to whether such channels are comprehensive enough. Having a branch of the academy will enhance researchers’ understanding and exposure to the city, which in turn will help officials better respond to the situation locally. // Source: South China Morning Post, 27 September 2017.

2. China’s first textbook for schoolgirls attracted criticisms from feminist groups

The Shanghai Education Publishing House has published China’s first textbook for primary schoolgirls Huayang Nuhai (花样女孩) on 27 September. Different from the portrayal of “traditional” gender roles that appeared in most school textbooks, Huayang Nuhai highlights that it is written from the perspectives of schoolgirls and provides unconventional advice such as choosing cosmetic products and fashion apparels. Prior to Huayang Nuhai, the press also published a textbook for primary schoolboys, XiaoXiao Nanzihan (小小男子汉), last year, which attracted criticisms from Chinese feminist groups for its promotion of gender stereotypes.

  • //由上海教育出版社出版的《花樣女孩》,作為中國首本專為小學女生編寫的教科書,近日已被上海當地小學面向4、5年級學生採用。全書分為6個章節,包括《我是女孩》、《美的追求》、《保護好自己》、《人際財富》、《愛心天使》和《擁抱未來》。新民晚報記者認為,該書與傳統觀念中對女性的「說教」不同,既從審美、衣著等方面引導女孩提高自身休養和氣質,也提醒女孩認識身體「禁區」,並設置多種場景提示女孩提高自我保護意識。不過有批評者認為,此舉仍然是在加固對性別的刻板印象,尤其教女孩保護好「美麗的臉龐」部分內容亦有物化女性的傾向;亦有批評者指出,中國缺少的是性教育,而非性別教育。該出版社去年還曾推出面向中小學男生的教材《小小男子漢》,提出要解決許多男生缺乏「陽剛之氣」的「危機」。該書亦遭到內地女權組織「女權之聲」的批判,批評者認為此舉加深了性別刻板印象,且預設男性比女性更優秀有悖男女平等的原則。// Source: Initium, 27 September 2017.
  • // 记者发现,这本女生教材与原来传统教育观念里对女生的“说教”有很大不同,更突出从女孩的角度,特别是从审美和做一个美丽女孩的角度去引导女生们。 例如,《美的追求》这一课:第一小节是“‘脸’的忠告”,教女孩如何保护好自己美丽的脸庞:别用脏手碰脸、要用温水洗脸、选择性质温和的洁面乳、尽量少用化妆品等。 第二小节是“穿着要得体”,告诉女孩不同场合下注意自己着装的得体,这既显示了一个女孩子的修养,也是对别人的尊重。总之,要学会做一个有气质的女生。// Source: Sina News, 27 September 2017.

3. Wolf Warriors 2 became the highest-grossing film after twelve days of release

Praised for its patriotic plot as well as the visual effects and action scenes that are comparable to Hollywood productions, Wolf Warriors 2 became a huge commercial success in China earning CN¥5.286 billion since its release on 27 July. Depicting the former Chinese army, Leng Feng, as the heroic figure who volunteers to evacuate Chinese nationals in an unnamed African country during civil war, the film is popular among Chinese audience for its representation of China’s growing military and foreign power. While some critics praised the film for its promotion of Sino-African solidarity, many others were critical of its chauvinism and patronization toward African people.

  • //So Wolf Warriors is both a critique of Western foreign policy and an expression of Sino-African solidarity, ties which stretch back to the period of post-war decolonisation – when the nascent People’s Republic of China provided assistance to numerous independence movements in the continent fighting against exploitation and harsh colonial policies. […] This solidarity as expressed in Wolf Warriors 2 echoes Chinese foreign policy. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, China’s priority shifted towards economic development – and Africa, with its abundant resources, has become particularly crucial to achieving this, especially in the wake of the continent’s apparent abandonment by the US and Russia after the Cold War. At the same time, Wolf Warriors 2 also serves as an expression of China’s growing military might – just as Rambo had been for US power in the 1980s. This comes in the light of China’s military modernisation announced by Xi Jinping in March 2017 on the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army. […] If film historians of the future examine Wolf Warriors 2, they are likely to view it as a reflection of China’s growing confidence and assertiveness in the Xi Jinping era – just as Rambo demonstrated American self belief in the Reagan era. This sentiment, alongside the utilisation of China’s soft power initiatives, in turn also illustrates a new shift in Chinese foreign policy in line with China’s growing power – something that is one of the major issues of the present international system. // Source: The Conversation, 24 August 2017.
  • //在新世紀以來,一種有趣的表述這種以他者為自己的參照就是「狼」的形象。中國加入世界貿易組織,世界資本主義俱樂部,似乎說明自己不再是世界列強的「羊」,而是「狼」。如小說和電影《狼圖騰》說的就是中國人自我想像和狼的「管理學」。《戰狼》(2015)和《戰狼2》(2017)都在說明今天中國英雄的鏡像是如何指認他者為自我的參照項。《戰狼2》大破四十億票房,加上觀眾的熱烈談論和大聲疾呼的「感動」,似乎說明中國英雄就該這樣的。那是怎樣的英雄呢?冷峰是解放軍特種部隊「戰狼」的狙擊手,違規違紀,獨行獨斷,但又屢次打敗國際壞人,保家衛國。在《戰狼》和《戰狼2》,我們見不到195070年代中國共產黨敘述的英雄形象「平凡的兒女,集體的英雄」(蔡翔語,註1),而是去革命的個人主義英雄,荷李活式的爆破,兒女私情。冷峰做的任務是不平凡的,在無支援無武器提供的情况下,單人匹馬勇救被困工人。我們甚至看不到「人民」。《戰狼2》的「人民」只不過是華資工廠的工人,解放軍也不再是帶領人民進行解放運動。1963年《小兵張嘎》說的「老百姓是水,八路軍是魚」,在今天那條「魚」已經成為高科技軍事現代化「大鵬」。// Source: Ming Pao, 13 August 2017.
  • //Officials with the ruling Communist Party and party-run media have cheered “Wolf Warrior 2” as proving that the public yearns for its own heroes, not merely Hollywood spectacles with Chinese actors in cameos. “This has been a turnaround move for Chinese on the big screen after years of being kept down by Hollywood-manufactured heroes,” Hu Xijin, the editor of Global Times, a popular tabloid, wrote in a column. People’s Daily, the main paper of the Communist Party, praised the film as a “box office miracle.” But views on Douban, a popular Chinese review website, have been fiercely divided. Some viewers loved the film’s patriotic theme and propulsive action, while others faulted it for chauvinism and for patronizing Africans, who are mowed down and blown up in the war scenes. Yet “Wolf Warrior 2” has twists that set it apart from standard Chinese film epics, which often show flawless party heroes and deliver political lectures lightly disguised as dialogue. Leng Feng, by contrast, is a moody individual on a quest. Thrown out of the Chinese military, he gulps a fiery Chinese liquor, Moutai, to drown memories of his dead girlfriend. […] The film has won welcome at a time when China seems increasingly confident about cementing its global status, but still sees the United States and general Western hostility as standing in its way. For many Chinese, it seems fitting to see those themes in a movie that feels like a Hollywood spectacle reworked to make the Westerners the villains. Even with heavy restrictions on film imports, Hollywood action films have been a pillar of the Chinese box office, while conventional patriotic Chinese movies have often floundered. The Chinese Communist Party is not mentioned. Instead, the film celebrates the prowess and hardware of the People’s Liberation Army, including missiles launched from Chinese warships that unerringly destroy the bad guys while sparing the civilians hiding nearby. (“I guess the Chinese military ain’t as lame as I thought,” says Big Daddy.) // Source: New York Times, 16 August 2017.


Standard & Poor’s lowered China’s credit rating

On 21 September, Standard & Poor’s downgraded China’s sovereign credit rating from AA- to A+, due to the country’s rising debts and the rapid credit growth that diminished financial stability. The Chinese finance ministry considered the first downgrade since 1999 a wrong decision that ignores the country’s development potential as the second largest economy in the world. A day after downgrading China’s credit rating, the US rating agency also lowered Hong Kong’s from the highest AAA to AA+, due to the city’s strong institutional linkages with China. Given Hong Kong’s advanced track record in risk management, financial professionals have advised the public not to worry about the adjustment.

  • //S&P’s move put its rating in line with those of Moody’s and Fitch, though the timing raised eyebrows as it came just weeks ahead of one of the country’s most politically sensitive events, the twice-a-decade Communist Party Congress (CPC). China’s finance ministry said on Friday the downgrade was “a wrong decision” that ignored the economic fundamentals and development potential of the world’s second-largest economy. […] To be sure, China’s economic growth has unexpectedly accelerated this year, racing ahead at 6.9% in the first half, but much of the impetus has come from record bank lending in 2016, a property boom and sharply higher government stimulus in the form of infrastructure spending. While the crackdown on riskier lending has pushed up borrowing costs from corporate loans to mortgages, it has not yet dampened growth as many China watchers predicted. The International Monetary Fund warned this year that China’s credit growth was on a “dangerous trajectory” and called for “decisive action”, while the Bank for International Settlements said last September that excessive credit growth was signaling a banking crisis in the next three years. // Source: Fortune, 22 September 2017.
  • //Hong Kong’s finance minister said on Saturday that he disagreed with the lowering of the city’s credit rating by US rating agency Standard & Poor’s. The comment by Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po came a day after the downgrade to AA+ from AAA, a move which is expected to raise financing costs for local businesses. […] Speaking after a public event, Chan gave reassurance and said people should not worry about the adjustment. […] He said that the developments in mainland China had provided many opportunities, such as mainland companies being listed in Hong Kong, boosting the city’s finance sector. Chan said the city had also been doing well in risk management. // Source: South China Morning Post, 23 September 2017.
  • //China’s Finance Ministry has criticised Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the country’s sovereign credit rating as “perplexing.” It said the downgrade focused on credit growth and debt, but ignored China’s distinctive financing structure, the wealth-creating effect of government spending and its support for growth, in addition to its sound economic fundamentals and development potential. Xinhua News Agency pointed out that the financial markets were muted in their response to the downgrade, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index edging down on Friday, after S&P’s announcement, by an “unexceptional” 0.16 per cent to 3,352.53. The decision to lower the rating from AA- to A+ was a result, the ministry said, of “international rating agencies’ longstanding mode of thinking, and a misreading of the Chinese economy based on developed countries’ experiences.” It said that S&P’s thinking was a “cliche.”// Source: The Australian, 24 September 2017.


Banners and posters advocating for Hong Kong independence on university campuses sparked conflicts between local and mainland students

Partly in support of the recent jailing of the three Umbrella Movement leaders and 13 land rights activists, banners and posters advocating for Hong Kong independence were publicly displayed at the Chinese University of Hong Kong – and later at other universities in Hong Kong – in early September. The incident has sparked a series of pro- and anti-independence protests among local and mainland students. On 16 September, the heads of ten local universities published a joint statement condemning their students’ advocacy, on the basis that the Basic Law states that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China. Given the Basic Law also protects the freedom of speech for Hong Kong residents, the incident has moreover animated heated debates over the rights of expression even within the university administration. While Peter Mathieson, vice-chancellor of the University of Hong Kong, clarified that he has never referred to the discussion about Hong Kong’s independence as an abuse of freedom of expression, Arthur Li, chairman of HKU’s governing council and notable pro-Beijing figure, commented that the independence advocates are “losers” who are academically inferior to the mainland students.

  • //It took just two days into the academic year before sparks flew between mainland students and their Hong Kong counterparts at Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). The feud over pro-independence posters and banners being hung at universities in Hong Kong has exposed tensions between local and mainland Chinese students that have been simmering for years. The anger, which has manifested in a series of protests and counterprotests on campuses, is reflective of the wider disconnect between mainlanders and Hongkongers, fanned by a host of reasons from politics and language barriers to state-fuelled propaganda and competition for scarce resources. […] Since the academic year started this September, banners calling for separatism have surfaced at the University of Hong Kong, City University, Polytechnic University, Education University Shue Yan University and Chinese University. CUHK was ground zero for the so-called poster war, and on Thursday the student union took down a banner that called for the city to break away from China, six days after warnings from the institution’s president that the university would do so if it refused to act. // Source: South China Morning Post, 25 September 2017.
  • //年輕人提出這樣的訴求有何用意?真的是要搞獨立運動嗎?還是只是借此來宣洩對現有秩序的不滿及挫敗感?只要冷靜一點,對這些問題都應該會有較合理的答案,從而也可以較合理地作出回應。我始終覺得,「香港獨立」只是一個偽命題,只是寄托著年輕人那種抗爭精神、挫敗情緒和逆反意志的幌子。而且,對大部份人來說,可能只是要令當權者尷尬,是對那些威權咀臉及大家長姿態的逆反表現。如果北京對香港的政策合理一點,如果北京信守承諾,給予香港人被應許了的民主和高度自治,如果政府不是偏幫既得利益階層及建制勢力的利益,我相信大部份年輕人都不會認為「香港獨立」是一個值得花精神去追求的目標。[…] 作為大學管理層,今天已經越來越失去那些學術界應有的應有的崇高、尊嚴,與獨立性。有時利欲熏心,或是奴性發作起來,甚至可能連上面提到的冷靜及客觀都做不到。[…] 學院的行政部門及高層,不想得失政府,不想冒犯當權的北京政府,因而不想學生經常把「香港獨立」這個命題帶出來,這是「識時務」,就算不接受也得理解,今天的世界就是一個講求識時務的世界,不要以為學術界很純潔,很多更污糟邋遢的,大家未必看得到吧了。如果張貼那些標語不符合程序規定,那就見一張除一張便足夠了,何需作出沒有理據的違法指控? // Source: Initium, 8 September 2017.


1. Taiwanese pro-democracy activist Lee Ming-che pleaded guilty to subverting the Chinese state

Having been detained by the Chinese government since entering mainland China from Macao in March 2017, Lee Ming-che, Taiwanese pro-democracy activist and former worker for the Democratic Progressive Party, was brought to trial in Hunan Province on 11 September. Arrested on charges of subverting state power for promoting multi-party rule on social media, while Lee has pleaded guilty in the hearing, his wife, Lee Ching-yu, warned before the hearing that he may be pressured into admitting the charges. The trial has provoked outrage in Taiwan where the Tsai administration is criticized for its low-key stance.

  • //The indictment stated that Lee and Chinese national Peng Yuhua (彭宇華) had since June 2012 been using online messaging for discussions that “arbitrarily distorted facts, smeared, and attacked the country’s current political system.” “Between 2012 and 2016 Lee Ming-che, the defendant, had via social media platforms, such as QQ, Facebook, WeChat and the like, engaged in large-scale acts to defame and attack the Chinese government and the national social system, and incite others to engage in subversion of state power,” it said. Taiwanese, especially younger people who were born and grew up in a democratic nation, could not help but scoff at the indictment, because the freedom of speech that they enjoy daily in Taiwan — including online chats on issues of critical importance to the nation or discussions meant to raise public awareness and help foster a healthy debate on public policies — is considered a crime by the Chinese judiciary. // Source: Taipei Times, 19 September 2017.
  • //庭審結束之後,法院宣布擇期宣判李案。北京航空航天大學法學院副教授、一國兩制法律研究中心執行主任田飛龍接受端傳媒採訪時指出,這是陸方首次公開直播審判台灣民眾,「影響非常大。」他評估,大陸以公開方式處理台灣居民刑事犯罪,未來會愈來愈常見,「向台灣展示大陸法制改革的成果」。田飛龍認為:「李明哲有認罪表現……刑期會適當從輕,但顛覆國家政權罪不太可能低於十年,並且估計不會緩刑。」另一名不願具名的中方法律法界人士推測,量刑可能比照被判處7年監禁的中國維權律師周世峰,但他再三強調:「李明哲應該很清楚,關鍵在態度。」正是這模糊的「態度」一說,引起了李明哲失蹤以來,最親密的家人及社會各界的分歧。在強制狀態中的李明哲無法選擇自己的「態度」。但必須做出反應的台灣政府、社會、親屬,面對一個從未有過的案件與受難者,又該以什麼立場或者策略,選擇自己的「態度」?// Source: Initium, 14 September 2017.
  • //Nevertheless, in Taiwan, the Tsai administration has also received no small amount of criticism over its weak response to the trial. While government actors expressed disapproval of China’s actions and stated that they would do all they could to secure Lee Ming-Che’s release, this was primarily done in a low-key manner. […] The Tsai administration has primarily taken a low-key stance on the matter, which is why it has largely fallen to smaller pan-Green political parties such as the New Power Party, former leaders of the Sunflower Movement, and civil society groups to take action to call for Lee Ming-Che’s release. And so it remains what steps are to be next taken in terms of calling for Lee’s release. // Source: New Bloom: Radical Perspectives on Taiwan and the Asia Pacific, 12 September 2017.

2. Google has acquired part of the HTC’s smartphone business to benefit its hardware development

On 20 September, Google announced to acquire a part of HTC’s mobile division team for USD$1.1 billion in order to bring more hardware expertise to its mobile technology development. Due to the growing competition in the smartphone business and the rise of China-based companies such as Xiaomi and Huawei, the Taiwan-based company’s market share has dropped from 10.7% in 2011 down to the present 0.68%. Google has hired 2,000 out of the 4,000 employees from the research and development team, as well as bought a non-exclusive license for HTC’s intellectual property. The Taiwan-based company is expected to continue to develop and support its virtual reality headset business.

  • //HTC曾經是智能手機的領頭品牌,創造出全球首款微軟智慧手機、全球首款Android手機及全美第一支4G Android智慧手機等,2011年其全球市場份額曾達到9%,當年發貨量達到4500萬部左右。然而HTC在與蘋果、三星於歐美市場裏交戰失敗後,又因小米、華為等中國本土智能手機的興起而落敗大陸市場。 據調研機構IDC數據,HTC已跌出全球智能手機市場排名榜前十,市場份額僅0.68%。去年宏達電營收受到重挫,落下105億新台幣的重度虧損,而今年8月,其30億元新台幣的營收又創下近4年來的最低月度收入紀錄。 HTC高層認為手機銷售的慘敗主要是營銷策略的失誤,也有人認為與中國大陸本土手機品牌等興起有關,有網友則吐槽HTC手機的內存、外觀設計、閃存等均無法和其他品牌競爭。// Source: Initium, 21 September 2017.
  • // Google got more serious about taking charge of hardware development last year with the debut of its Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, Google Home, and Google Wifi. HTC manufactured both 2016 Pixels, which were designed by Google and marketed as Google devices; HTC basically served as a silent contractor. […] Buying a chunk of HTC’s smartphone team means that Google will directly challenge Android partners including Samsung, LG, Huawei — even more directly now than it did as Motorola’s parent company. […] The move could bring Google closer to achieving the hardware/software synergy that has worked so well for Apple and the iPhone, though HTC and other Android smartphone makers still use off-the-shelf processors and other components in their handsets. Earlier this year, Google hired away one of Apple’s chip architects in what might be an attempt to evolve beyond that and design its own silicon. // Source: The Verge, 20 September 2017.
  • // 戴志言則認為,就結果來看,HTC所營造出來的生態系很不成功,也給了台灣企業警示。從2007年的智能型手機問世,到至今十年,每一款手機的研發週期都愈來愈短,甚至半年就會推出新機,這對手機硬件商來說當然是壓力巨大。他說:”HTC就像是一代拳王,爆紅之紅就不知道要幹嘛,進而迷失自我”。他也補充:”HTC一段時間拿出機海戰術,想通吃上下游,但是太過頻繁的更新,讓消費者購買信心出現下滑,資源太重配置在更新機種”,直到中國品牌如小米、華為等開始浮現,價格戰打不過對方後,但是高端手機也早已被蘋果、三星站穩。戴志言也指出,HTC在站上全世界最輝煌的時刻,卻錯失了世界的下一步布局機會:放眼台灣,能跟消費者有直接連結的品牌,恐怕不超過10家,遠遠落後中韓,台灣輸的不只是廣告跟戰術,更有因地制宜的管理跟全球資源的有效運用他也判斷,谷歌雖然買下了手機研發部門,但是軟件出身的企業能否去整合硬件專門的HTC團隊,也是值得商榷的一環。再來是併購後,谷歌能否留用所有人才跟高階長官,避免中韓高薪挖腳,都是接下來的核心議題:”比賽真的還沒結束,只是到了個里程碑,大家繼續在同個戰場奮鬥”,他說。// Source: BBC中文網, 24 September 2017.