On April 19, 2019, Southern Weekend, a Chinese media headquartered in Guangzhou of Guangdong Province, published a feature article about how Internet censorship has become a booming industry in China. The article itself was quickly censored.
The article titled, “Jinan: The Rising Internet Audit Capital,” reported that Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province, is becoming the second largest operation area for Beijing ByteDance Technology Co. Ltd., an Internet company known for its content auditing business. It takes on the censorship work of other companies. Up to 3,600 personnel have been hired to trawl the Internet and remove content that the Communist government prohibits.
In the Internet content audit industry, Jinan and Tianjin are the bases in the north; Xi’an is the base in the northwest; Chongqing and Chengdu are responsible for the southwest; and Wuhan handles the central China region.
According to a person close to the Jinan municipal government department, the expansion of the content auditing operation has received the support of the Propaganda Department and the Cyberspace Administration of the Jinan Municipal Communist Party Committee.
Source: Epoch Times, April 20, 2019
Reference News, a well-known branch of Xinhua, recently reported that China Mobile is currently seeking to provide telephone services in the United States and some other countries. The company explained that they were not seeking opportunities in the wireless services area. However, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai expressed his concern about security risks and that he was against allowing China Mobile to provide telecommunication services in the States. He revealed that the FCC will have a vote in May. It is widely expected that the five members of the FCC will support the position clearly stated by Chairman Pai. Ajit Pai also explained in an official announcement that the risks lie in the national security aspects and law enforcement aspects. China Mobile did not respond to the request for comment.
Source: Reference News, April, 18, 2019
Global Times recently published an official commentary, establishing a position on the recent wave of U.S. institutes that have driven Chinese scholars away. After over 200 Chinese social science scholars were refused visas or other means of blockage, The National Institutes of Health (NIH) mounted a new round of eliminating Chinese scholars from its network. It appears the U.S. is serious about implementing an “unhook” strategy as rumored. Even an improved trade relationship may not halt the U.S. plan to slow down China’s technology developments. It seems the world leader is losing its confidence in competition. The childish thought of “let’s close the doors” looks more like neuroticism. How could Washington even believe reducing a few Chinese in attendance at technical forums or getting a few less Chinese students could stop China’s improvements? This is just largely a wishful-thinking sleeping pill that the U.S. policy makers prescribed for themselves. This self-isolation policy can only push the opportunities to other advanced countries. The U.S. de-globalization logic won’t be sustained for long. China should just ignore these strange U.S. behaviors and move on.
Source: Global Times, April 20, 2019
Radio France Internationale reported that Beijing launched a severe crackdown on its veterans for initiating a rights petition. Recently local courts sentenced 18 veterans who participated in the protests in Zhenjiang (Jiangsu province) and Pingdu (Shandong province) last year to two to six years in prison for “disturbing the social order,” “intentional assault,” or “the crime of preventing officials from performing their duties.” In the year that marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party, the 30th anniversary of the June 4th incident, and the 100th anniversary of the May 4th Movement, the heavy sentences show that Beijing is taking a hard stance against the veterans’ rights petition.
Chinese veterans have been asking the authorities to resolve the issue of unfair benefits after their retirement. In recent years, veterans used social media to launch joint petitions to protest their rights and the scale has been growing. In October 2016, nearly 10,000 veterans from more than 10 provinces and cities came to Beijing to petition. They gathered outside the building of the Central Military Commission. The news had a great impact throughout the country.
On June 20 last year, a group of veterans in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province, protested their rights in front of the city government. After the city government sent unidentified personnel to beat them, veterans from all over China came to Zhenjiang to show their support. On June 23, the authorities dispatched nearly 10,000 armed police to disperse the protesting veterans who gathered in front of the city government and managed to intercept veterans who were on their way to Zhenjiang.
On October 4 last year, dozens of veterans from Shandong Pingdu were preparing to go to Beijing to petition. After many of them were intercepted from going to Beijing, more veterans from all over Shandong came to show their support. On the 6th, thousands of veterans went to the Pingdu Municipal Government to protest. The veterans used wooden sticks to fight back against the police who used tear gas to forcibly disperse the crowd.
In 2018, in response to the increasingly large-scale veteran protests, the Chinese authorities formed the Department of Veteran Affairs to “transfer and resettle military cadres and retired soldiers, to provide education and training for retired military personnel, and to resolve the dissatisfaction among the military personnel.”
Source: Radio France Internationale, April 19, 2019
Because it is concerned about security risks, Taiwan is following the U.S. and has launched an effort to limit government procurement of mainland technology products. Such services range from servers and cloud computing to other services and devices. It is expected that Chinese companies such as Alibaba, Huawei, Lenovo and Xiaomi will be affected.
A number of media reported in January that Taiwan is drafting a blacklist that prohibits all government agencies, organizations, and government-controlled companies from using electronic products from companies such as telecommunication equipment manufacturers Huawei and ZTE, and surveillance camera maker Hikvision.
On Friday April 19, the Taiwan Cabinet Executive Yuan announced an official guide stating that it will impose a ban on mainland telecom equipment, surveillance cameras, servers, webcams, drones, cloud computing services, software, anti-virus software, and consulting. At the same time, the scope of Taiwanese entities that must comply with the ban will also be extended to transportation companies, banks, and telecommunications. Government officials have proposed that private companies in high-tech industrial zones that the government runs should also follow this new regulation.
On Friday, the Nikkei Asian Review quoted people familiar with the matter as saying that major mainland technology companies – including Huawei, ZTE, Alibaba, Lenovo, Xiaomi, Baidu, Hikvision, Inspur (server supplier) and Dajiang (drone manufacturer) are likely to be on the list. Kaspersky Labs, the Russian anti-virus software company, is also on the list. According to the sources, technology products manufactured in the mainland and Russia are also under review in order for the Taiwan government to determine whether they should also be included in the ban.
During a press conference held on Friday night in Taipei, Kolas Yotaka, Executive House spokesman said that the blacklist will be completed in the next three months, but most of the equipment and services that Chinese and Russian companies have made could be included.
In her New Year’s speech that Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen delivered on January 1, she stated, “Before the long-term relationship between the two sides can be established, we must honestly face the national security threats and risks. . . . In particular, China (the CCP) is trying to use the openness and freedom of democratic institutions to intervene in Taiwan’s political and social development. This has become Taiwan’s biggest challenge at the moment. . . . I also asked the National Security Unit to pay attention to information security issues and to ensure that the security of critical infrastructure communications has no loopholes.”
Source: The Epoch Times, April 20, 2019
Reporters Without Borders, an international non-governmental organization dedicated to maintaining freedom of the press, released its 2019 Press Freedom Index on Thursday April 18. It assesses the level of freedom of the press in 180 countries and territories. China fell one place in the rankings, dropping to the 177th place, the fourth from the last place.
According to Reporters Without Borders’ “The 2019 annual report on Freedom of the Press,” the global press freedom index fell by 13 percent, while the press freedom in the Asia-Pacific region was also quite poor. Due to totalitarian propaganda, press censorship, violent attacks, and cyber harassment against journalists, a great deal of courage is required for an independent journalist in the Asia-Pacific to do his work. Many democratic countries in the region are also fighting against false information.
According to the report, in the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea has the highest ranking of press freedom with a rank of 41st. The index rankings of China and Vietnam have dropped by one level from last year. They are now at 177 and 176 respectively.
The report pointed out that China’s national leader Xi Jinping revised the constitution in 2018 and became the Chairman of China for life. The general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nguyen Phu Trong, was elected president of the country in October last year. These two countries not only restrict the state-owned media from having freedom of the press, but also ruthlessly suppress the citizen journalists who try to report different opinions. In China, 65 journalists and bloggers are currently in prison; in Vietnam, about 30 professional and non-professional journalists are being held. China’s current Internet surveillance is also extremely strict. People are imprisoned simply because they leave messages or forward information online.
Reports from Reporters Without Borders also pointed out that China has not only consistently tried to obstruct news reports from foreign journalists in China, but it is now actively working to establish a new order for news reporting under its control. The Chinese-style of comprehensive censorship and self-censorship has begun to serve as a model for other non-democratic regimes in the Asia-Pacific region. Niu Danyang, director of the Asia-Pacific Office of Reporters Without Borders, pointed out that China’s promotion of its press review is worrying: “Countries like Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand are also actively emulating China’s anti-freedom press model. China has also set up a government radio station for Cambodia, while Thailand has actively deported dissidents who fled China and sent them back to China. China promotes its news censorship model internationally and is therefore a threat to freedom throughout the world.”
Source: Radio Free Asia, April 18, 2019