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Pro-Beijing Chinese Group Sues Kazakhstan Human Rights Organization

Chinese authorities have drawn global attentions for building re-education camps in Xinjiang. Atajurt Kazakh Human Rights, a Kazakh civil organization, has volunteered to disclose the inside stories about the Xinjiang Re-education camps and to assist the Kazakh, Uighur, and Kirgiz people in Xinjiang in finding missing or imprisoned relatives and friends. Recently, a pro-Beijing local Chinese group in Kazakhstan filed a lawsuit against Atajurt, charging the organization and its founder Serikzhan Bilash with “destroying the friendship between China and Kazakhstan.” It asked the court to declare Atajurt an illegal organization.

According to Radio Free Asia, Atajurt obtained a plethora of information regarding the Chinese government’s ethnic policies and practices in Xinjiang, including burning The Koran, demolishing mosques, prohibiting ethnic minorities from holding traditional weddings or funerals, and even sentencing Imams or causing Imams to die in prison. This information has drawn attention from the United States, the United Nations, and the European Union.

It has been said that the 37-member “patriotic overseas Chinese” group has close ties with the Chinese Embassy. According to Serikzhan, these people have participated in a number of social events that the Chinese Embassy organized in Kazakhstan, such as the annual “National Day” dinner, and they also attended the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (held in Beijing). He said that, “Their purpose is to stop us from organizing activities and stop us from continuing to collect information and evidence about the Xinjiang ‘re-education’ concentration camps.”

Source: Radio Free Asia, February 13, 2019

Party’s Mouthpiece Newspapers Are Growing in Spite of the Trend

Because online media have had an effect, many media in China have been unable to make ends meet due to the drop in advertising revenue. Around New Year’s Day 2019, more than ten paper-based media such as Beijing Morning Post, Beijing Suburban Daily and Heilongjiang Morning News had ceased publication. Another reason for the suspension is related to the authorities’ tightened control over what the reporters can cover.

A political observer published an article on Monday February 11, pointing out that the Internet is “killing” traditional media. In particular, the popularity of smartphones and social media has led to a “free fall” in the circulation and advertising volume of newspapers and magazines. The advertising revenue of Chinese newspapers has shrunk from 41 billion yuan (US$60.6 billion) in 2012 to 10.2 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion) in 2016, a drop of three-quarters in just four years. This is also comparable to the decline in the American newspaper industry.

A unique phenomenon in the decline of traditional media in China is that most of the publications that went down or died are local morning and evening newspapers concentrating on stories about local people and events, while the party’s mouthpiece newspapers have not stopped their publications but have generally exhibited a trend of growth. Researchers found that the party’s mouthpiece newspapers have a variety of new sources of income, including local governments’ direct subsidies. For example, Guangzhou Daily, the mouthpiece for the Guangzhou Chinese Communist Party Committee, received a subsidy of 350 million yuan (US$52 million) in 2016. Local governments also put a number of advertisements in the party newspapers to promote their political achievements. Amid the current wave of anti-corruption campaigns, officials dare not put money into their own pockets, but choose to spend money on party newspaper advertisements in order to benefit their careers. In addition, officials need to read the party newspapers to understand the policy trends. They can also showcase their political awareness by subscribing to many party newspapers. All these have led to an increase in the circulation of party newspapers.

An observer told Radio Free Asia, “Because the media is controlled, the media that the party runs still relies on fiscal expenditures. On newspaper subscriptions, every year the provincial government and the provincial propaganda department issue directives to tell us which newspapers we need to subscribe to. People’s Daily and Beijing Daily, (we have to subscribe to them).”

Yang Shaozheng, a former professor at Guizhou University, told RFA that, in mainland China, there is no real market-oriented media. All media have the surname of “party,” but some media are more market-oriented. The cessation of the metropolitan and local newspapers is a good thing for the Chinese Communist Party. “In that case, the Communist Party can shrink the battle’s front line and make sure all the mouthpieces have one voice, which is the voice of the party. The whole country’s ideologies are unified.”

Source: Radio Free Asia, February 13, 2019

Chinese Couple Fined for Having a Third Baby

Currently China allows couples to have two children and many local governments are also lenient about couples having a third child. However, recently, a couple in Shandong Province gave birth to their third child and was fined.

Wang and his wife, who lived in Chengwu County of Shandong, gave birth to their third child on January 5, 2017. The Local Health and Family Planning Bureau imposed a fine of 64,626 yuan (US$9,548) in social maintenance fees, also known as the fine for breaking the family planning policy.

Although the Wang couple could not afford the fees, the county court issued an administrative ruling in June 2018 to demand that the Wang couple pay the fees. On January 10, 2019, the court enforced the ruling by freezing all of the couple’s bank deposits. As of the enforcement date, the couple’s bank balance was only 22,957.68 yuan (US$3,392). This included the balance of 131.68 yuan (US$19) in a WeChat payment, which the court also froze.

The incident received much attention in cyberspace. One netizen said that the local government needs money. “This is the latest madness and whoever knows China will understand.”

Source: Central News Agency, February 12, 2019

Lawsuit against State Enterprise in China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” Project

China’s “Belt and Road” port project is involved in a legal dispute in Djibouti in the Gulf of Aden in Africa. China’s listed state-owned company China Merchants Port (SEHK: 144) was charged with ignoring the port operator’s franchise agreement and investing in the construction of a new terminal in Djibouti. This is the first time that a multinational company has filed a lawsuit against a Chinese state-owned enterprise in Hong Kong for its “Belt and Road” project.

In August last year, Dubai-based global port operator DP World filed a lawsuit in the Hong Kong High Court against China Merchants Port, that China Merchants Port, knowing that the Djibouti government and DP World had already signed a 30-year port franchise, still unlawfully procured and/or induced Djibouti’s breach of its agreement with DP World.

According to the indictment, the Djibouti government signed an agreement with DP World in 2004 that DP World would enjoy a 30-year franchise for the Doraleh Container Terminal (DTC), which was put into operation in 2009. However, three years later, China Merchants Port proposed cooperation with the Djibouti government and finally built a new “Doraleh Multi-purpose Terminal” next to the local Chinese People’s Liberation Army base. In 2017, the Djibouti government and China Merchants Port signed another agreement to build the “Doraleh International Container Terminal.”

This is the first time that a multinational company has sued a Chinese state-owned enterprise in relation to the “Belt and Road” project in Hong Kong. The case is viewed as a test of Hong Kong’s judicial independence.

Source: Radio Free Asia, February 11, 2019

LTN: World Freedom Report Ranked Taiwan High and Mainland China Low

Major Taiwanese news network Liberty Times Network (LTN) recently reported that Freedom House just released its annual Freedom in the World report. The 2019 Report showed a decline in freedom in 68 countries and improvements in 50 countries. Among all 195 countries, 86 were classified as “free countries,” 59 were considered to have “partial freedom,” and 40 were “not free.” Above all, as a trend, the world is seeing a decline in democracy. The United States earned a score of 86 (out of 100), which is below the above-90 countries like France, Germany and Britain. In Asia, among “free countries” Japan scored 96, Taiwan scored 93, South Korea scored 83, and India scored 75. “Partial Freedom” Asian counties include Indonesia 62, the Philippines 61, Hong Kong 59, and Singapore 51. As “not free” Asian countries, Thailand earned 30, Vietnam got 20, and North Korea had a score of 3. China scored 11. The report indicated that, following China’s lead, more and more countries are aiming to put more controls on their citizens living overseas.

Source: LTN, February 5, 2019

China Times: Chinese Investments in Silicon Valley Dropped Sharply in 2018

Major Taiwanese newspaper China Times recently reported that, as the China-U.S. trade war intensifies, Chinese capital that used to flow continuously into U.S. high-tech companies, in 2018 started to see a dramatic decline. According to Forbes, last year China invested a total of around US$2 billion in the U.S. high-tech field. That was an 80 percent drop from 2017. More and more U.S. start-up companies are avoiding Chinese investments since many U.S. investors are concerned about the additional risks that these Chinese partners may bring to the venture. The Canadian detention of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou could further cool down the willingness of Chinese investors. According to several experts monitoring the trade war, in the long run, the conflicts in trade will not have a major impact on business activities between China and the Silicon Valley. However, all experts agreed that the era of close cooperation between China and the United States is over.

Source: China Times, February 2, 2019