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VOA: Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Students’ Verdict Foretells Harsh Punishment for Future Civil Disobedience Movements

VOA reported that, on Tuesday February 6, the Court of Final Appeal announced that the three Hong Kong student pro-democracy leaders of the 2014 Umbrella movement, Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow, won their appeal. After the three students stepped out of the courthouse, they told the media that the court verdict was just like a “sugar coated harsh verdict.” They disagreed that the protest in the Civic Square was violent. They said that the high court has tightened the interpretation of the civil non-violent disobedience movement. It was an indication that participants in any similar movement in the future could face several months or even years of imprisonment. Therefore it was not worth any celebration.

According to the article, the Court of Final Appeal announced the verdict of the three Hong Kong Umbrella Movement students at 4:00 p.m. on February 6. The verdict stated that the case in Civic Square incurred lighter violence. According to the new sentencing guideline introduced in August 2017, the Court of Appeal has the power to impose imprisonment for violent and illegal large size gatherings. Any leader who allegedly incites others or anyone to use violence could face a more severe legal consequence. However, since the new guideline does not apply to previous cases like this one, the students won the appeal. In August 2017, the three student leaders had been convicted and jailed for their roles in the occupation of Civic Square in 2014.

Source: Voice of America, February 7, 2018

CCDI: Why the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the Ministry of Supervision Combined

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) website posted an article titled, “Why the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and Ministry of Supervision combined.” According to the article, the decision was part of the national discipline inspection system’s reform. Both agencies will be working at the same location to fulfill discipline inspection and supervision functions. They are under one agency structure but with two separate names. A party branch office will not be set up at the combined site. The article stated that the purpose of the reform is to strengthen the party’s leadership of its anti-corruption effort and to consolidate administrative supervision, corruption prevention, and the anti-corruption effort in the procuratorate organs and abuse prevention forces. The consolidation will effectively combine both party enforcement and the national legal enforcement effort so that each work unit has members from the discipline inspection unit as well as the procuratorate branch.

Source: Central Commission for Discipline Inspection Website, February 2, 2018

FT Chinese: Dutch University Changed Its Plan to Offer Full Degrees in China

Financial Times (FT) Chinese recently reported that the University of Groningen in the Netherlands decided to reconsider its plan to set up a full branch in Yantai, China. According to Sibrand Poppema, Chairman of the University Board, the university will drop its plan to offer full degrees at the Yantai Branch in China. He explained that the University Board “did not provide full support” on providing full degree programs due to the concern about losing academic freedom. Last December, the plan to establish a Chinese branch faced heavy internal criticism because of the requirement of allowing a Chinese Communist Party member to join the board of the Chinese branch. At that time, the Chinese government ordered all universities in China with foreign investment background to establish a Chinese Communist Party Branch and to place a Communist Party member with decision-making power on the board. The West widely considered that this order completely changed the earlier promise of guaranteed academic freedom.

Source: FT Chinese, January 30, 2018

RFI Chinese: China Has Been Stealing Information from the African Union Headquarters

Radio France Internationale (RFI) recently reported that two French reporters revealed the news that China has been spying on the African Union. Multiple staff working at the African Union Headquarters found suspicious network traffic over a year ago. The technicians discovered that, on a daily basis at around one or two o’clock a.m. local time, all communications among African Union staff were captured and transmitted to servers located in Shanghai. Six years ago, China constructed the African Union Headquarters building and gave it to the African Union as a gift. China provided all networking equipment as well. Anonymous African Union officials expressed the belief that Beijing had stolen all sensitive information transmitted between January 2012 and January 2017. The Union has now completely replaced the technology equipment from independent suppliers and purchased its own servers not sourced from China. Chinese technicians were laid off one month after the breach was discovered last year. China’s Representative to the African Union did not respond to media inquiries.

Source: RFI, January 27, 2018

Radio France Internationale: Awkward Silent Moment of the Foreign Press

Radio France Internationale published an article titled “The Awkward Silent Moment of the Foreign Press in China.” The article described a recent incident involving a direct verbal conflict between the foreign press stationed in China and Hua Chunying, Deputy Director of the Foreign Ministry Information Department. During the conflict, many foreign reporters chose to remain silent fearing they would lose their press visa. The conflict started during a regular media conference that the Foreign Ministry held on January 30. On the same day, the FCCC (the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in China) published a report which stated that over 40 percent of the foreign reporters stationed in China felt that they faced worse treatment in 2017. That number was 29 percent in 2016. The report also commented that, based on strong evidence, it is getting more and more difficult for foreign reporters to report news in many regions, especially in Xinjiang where, in 2017, 73 percent of the foreign reporters were either denied access or given limited access. That number was 42 percent in 2016. During the media conference, one reporter raised a question about the FCCC report and asked what China would do to improve the situation. Hua Chunying bluntly countered and said that the claims in the report were sheer nonsense and asked all the reporters at the conference to raise their hands if they agreed with the FCCC report. None of them raised their hands. China’s Huanqiu reported on this incident and praised Hua for her response. On February 1, one Japanese Sankei Shimbun reporter spoke up during that day’s press conference and said that he was not present during the media conference on January 30; he agreed with the FCCC report and wished that China would do something to improve the situation that the media faced. That question angered Hua Chunying. She asked how many of the 600 foreign reporters belonged to FCCC and why Sankei Shimbun was the only media that felt that they were mistreated. She stated that Sankei Shimbun reporters should reflect upon themselves to find out if they did anything wrong. On Sina Weibo, Hua’s response received wide support. Some posts even suggested that the Sankei Shimbun Japanese reporter should be expelled from China.

Source: Radio France Internationale, February 2, 2018中国/20180202-驻华外国记者们的难堪沉默

Radio France Internationale: Two of the Bishops that Pope Francis Accepted Have Their Own Families

Radio France Internationale reported that in order to repair the relationship with Beijing, Pope Francis said he will accept seven candidates from the “patriotic churches” in China as the Catholic bishops in China. According to a report from Apple Daily, two of the seven candidates have mistresses and children. According to one scholar from the Hong Kong Baptist University, these candidates, who the Chinese Communist Party selected, are “total garbage” because they are the existing members of the Bishops Conference of the Catholic Church in China and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. The Chinese Communist Party controls both. It is very likely that they will face resistance and disapproval from the church members in China.

Source: Radio France Internationale, February 3, 2018中国/20180203-获教宗接受大陆主教其中两人传已有家室

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