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BBC Chinese: China’s “Internet Czar” Lu Wei under Investigation

BBC Chinese recently reported that the Central Discipline Inspection Commission of the Communist Party detained Lu Wei, the former Deputy Minister of the Publicity Department of the Chinese Communist Party and Director of the Office of the Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs. Lu was detained for a corruption investigation. He was widely known as the Chinese “Internet Czar” and was in charge of China’s online censorship management. He initiated many critical actions to tighten up control of the Internet, such as blocking commercial websites from news editing rights, promoting self-regulation among well-known online public figures, bringing criminal charges against people who re-posted content that the government had banned, and strengthening the blockage of international websites such as Google, Twitter, and Wikipedia. Publicly Lu even refused to admit “bringing down” these international sites in China. However, while celebrating the fall of Lu, Chinese netizens remain widely concerned about China’s online censorship. Many said that this positive event may not fundamentally change China’s long-lasting censorship policies.

Source: BBC Chinese, November 22, 2017

LTN: China’s “The Belt and Road” Plan Faces Many Real-World Challenges

Major Taiwanese news network Liberty Times Network (LTN) recently reported that China’s grand plan of “The Belt and Road,” which started in 2013, is now facing difficulties across the board. The US$1 trillion investment plan in 65 countries is being challenged in its implementation phase. Many processes have been disrupted by rebels, autocracy, political stability issues and legal challenges such as land ownership disputes. For example, The Jakarta section of the Indonesian high-speed railway hasn’t started construction since 2015 {when Indonesia awarded the rail project to China}. The construction of the railway from China to Singapore got stuck in Thailand due to labor movements. Debates over the high cost have slowed down the Laos section of the same railroad. The construction of the Cooperation Center at the border between China and Kazakhstan received complaints from the locals for benefiting only the Chinese. The new political leader of Kyrgyzstan has now stopped the railway from China to Uzbekistan. Even the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project is being disrupted as rebels along the way have blown up natural gas pipelines and trains. Chinese engineers were also attacked.

Source: LTN, November 14, 2017

Sinchew: China Ranked at the Bottom in an Internet Freedom Study

Singapore Chinese newspaper Sinchew recently reported that the well-known American human rights group Freedom House just released its annual global Internet freedom report. The report showed that the global degree of freedom on the internet had shown a decline for seven consecutive years. For three years in a row China was found to be the worst country in the world in terms of online information control. The Freedom House study included 65 countries, covering 87 percent of the global online population. The report pointed out that Internet information played an important role in the elections in many countries and that political messages were heavily manipulated around the world. In 2017, (this control) impacted elections in at least 18 countries. The governments of more and more countries are following China and Russia to hire online “commentators” to use the Internet to manipulate public opinion. More and more governments are quietly influencing and suppressing different opinions via social media and social discussion groups. The Freedom House study found that, among the 65 countries in the scope of its research, 30 governments implemented online information manipulation and monitoring. Some governments expanded their operations beyond their own borders.

Source: Sinchew, November 15, 2017

Chinese Visiting Scholars Establish CCP Party Branch at UC Davis

According to an article Duowei News published, on November 4, seven Chinese visiting scholars at the University of California Davis campus formed a Chinese Communist Party branch office on campus. The Dalian University of Technology news website published the news first but then deleted the news from its website. The Duowei article reported that these seven visiting scholars are teachers from seven different universities in China who are either existing party members or probationary party members. The party secretary is one of the teachers from Dalian University of Technology School of Power and Energy. The other six teachers came from Tsinghua University, Zhejiang University, Dalian University of Technology, Beijing Institute of Technology, Jiangsu University, Nanjing Agricultural University, and Hohai University. The branch office vows to “continue to recruit new members; organize the group to study the latest party theory and ideology from China; resist the corrosive influence from the west; and enable the members of the branch office and other Chinese patriotic people to experience warm caring from the party office.” The branch office will recruit new members starting with the existing members to target their colleagues or neighbors. They will also have one group activity every two weeks. The branch office is currently under the management of the Dalian University of Technology in China, which recommended that the branch get in touch with other party organizations in the U.S. that the Chinese communist Party has set up in order to seek leadership in the U.S.

The article reported that one of the organizers told Voice of America (VOA) during an interview that they disbanded the organization after they found out that it had violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act passed in 1938, which the U.S. Department of Justice administers. U.S. law requires that an organization must “disclose its relationship with the foreign government and any information about related activities and finances.” The organizer asked the media not to have too much news coverage of this topic because he does not want the lives of the existing members to be disrupted. Based on this news, there is no indication that the organization is still in operation.

Source: Duowei News, November 19, 2017

Hong Kong Version of Taipei Universiade Documentary Covered Taiwan National Flag with Digital Mosaic

The Central News Agency published an article about covering the Taiwan National flag with a digital mosaic during the Hong Kong version of the Taipei Universiade documentary. The article pointed out that Hong Kong continues to follow the mainland’s strategy of demoting Taiwan’s status on the international stage. The Central News Agency article reported that, when a Taipei Universiade documentary that Taipei and the National Geographic produced was aired in Hong Kong, the Taiwan national flag in the documentary was covered with a digital mosaic. According to the Department of Taipei Tourism, the Hong Kong National Geographic channel applied the digital mosaic in order to “comply with local regulations.” The Department of Taipei Tourism stated that the change was unilateral and violated its contract agreement. It requested that the Taiwan National Geographic channel take legal responsibility for providing the necessary compensation or ensure that the correct version of the documentary will be replayed in Hong Kong. The Taipei Universiade documentary was first aired on the Taiwan National Geographic channel on October 31, followed by 43 countries including Japan, Korea, and Hong Kong.

Source: Central News Agency, November 17, 2017

Huanqiu: US-China Economic and Security Review Commission 2017 Annual Report Thrilled Overseas Anti-China Forces

Well-known Chinese news site Sina published an article that Huanqiu had originally carried. It reported that the 2017 Annual Report that the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission published “resulted in excitement among those who are hostile to China.” The article stated that the annual report came after Trump’s visit to China and has puzzled some mainstream media, politicians, and anti-China organizations. Trump not only didn’t criticize China but also had many positive exchanges with China. The article said that the annual report “painted China as the enemy of the U.S. and a malignant cell in the world. It provided counter-measures and absurd directions for U.S. media, politicians, and anti-China agencies to pursue in their work.” It called the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission headed by Carolyn Bartholomew the home base of “anti-China hostile forces.” It noted that Carolyn Bartholomew, who worked for Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, has helped Pelosi draft many “anti-China” bills.

Source: Sina, November 16, 2017

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