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Radio Free Asia: Chinese Universities Tightened Security on “May 4th”

Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported that on the100th anniversary of the “May 4th Movement,” Beijing’s major universities stepped up their alerts. The police also took away five left-wing students who supported the labor movement activities. They currently have no contact with the outside world.

This Saturday, May 4th, was the 100th anniversary of the May Fourth Movement in China. Recently, most colleges and universities in Beijing increased inspections on campus. Every day, plainclothes police cars have been stationed at the entrance to Peking University. A local resident who did not want to be named told reporters on Friday that the university campus in Zhongguancun had recently stepped up its alerts. School personnel and students have had to present their credentials when entering the campus. Foreigners have been required to register personal identification cards and other information. The guard at the receptionist area would then further verify the details.

The “May 4th Movement” took place on May 4, 1919. Young students called on citizens and business people to participate in demonstrations, petitions, and strikes to protest against the then Chinese Beiyang government’s disregard of public opinion and they shouted to fight against the infringement of foreign countries’ powers and for the punishment of those officials who were pro-Japan while they advocated saving the country with science and democracy.

An RFA article stated that, 70 years later, in 1989, when college students in Beijing commemorated the passing of Hu Yaobang, general secretary of the Communist Party of China, they also called out the slogan of the May Fourth Movement. The government finally used force to suppress them. Since the 100th anniversary of the “May 4th Movement” is in this year, Beijing is extremely sensitive about this date.

Source: Radio Free Asia, May 3, 2019

Beijing Asks the Public to Look for “Spies”

Beijing made April 15 the “State Security Education Day for All People.” On that day, the CCTV had a high-profile promotion asking the general public to look for or report “spy” activities. People can report those activities via phone, online submission, mail, or directly going to corresponding government offices. The corresponding office will give out rewards, on three levels, based on the effect of the tips. The highest reward is 500,000 yuan (US $ 74,000).

An observer of Beijing’s affairs has commented that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been looking for spies in the name of “state security” and the result has been that students have reported their teachers and friends have reported on each other. “The CCP faces three big conflicts: the conflicts between the officials and the general public; the conflicts among the ruling group, and the conflicts between the CCP and Western countries. These conflicts have led the CCP to a feeling of great insecurity. To secure its power, the CCP has been looking for ‘spies.’ First, it wants to identify the insiders in the CCP system who are not loyal to the CCP. Second, it wants to arrest members of the general public who are against the CCP. Third, (it wants to identify) the ‘infiltration forces’ from countries overseas.”

Source: Epoch Times, April 18, 2019

RFA: Hong Kong Protest Escalated, Shouting for Chief Executive to Step Down

On Sunday April 28, tens of thousands of Hong Kong citizens took to the streets to protest the Hong Kong court’s verdict on the leaders of the Chinese occupation movement and the Hong Kong government’s amendment of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance. Numbers of groups, including the Civil Human Rights Front in Hong Kong, organized the protest. According to news from the Hong Kong police, during the peak time, 20,000 participated in the protest. The protesters came from a wide background, including Hong Kong’s famous singers Anthony Wong, Yiu-ming, and Denise Ho.

The slogan of the protest was mainly to ask the government to withdraw the revised plan for the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and safeguard the rule of law and freedom of speech in Hong Kong. Since March, the Hong Kong Government has been promoting the revision of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, which has caused widespread concern. If the proposal of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance becomes law, for the first time, there will be an extradition arrangement between Hong Kong and the mainland. A large number of politicians in Hong Kong believe that the Chinese government may use this bill to extradite political prisoners from Hong Kong to the Mainland. However, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at the beginning of April that the revision of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance will be promoted. The Hong Kong government established a special committee and held its first meeting last week. The tough stance of the Hong Kong Government has left the people of Hong Kong worried. According to Radio France Internationale, in the parade held this Sunday, some people kept shouting “Carrie Lam should step down!” A spokesman for the Hong Kong Government said, in response to the demonstration, that the amendment of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance is in line with the spirit of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in Hong Kong.

This protest is the second demonstration within one month and the scale was even larger than the previous one.

Source: Radio Free Asia, April 28, 2019

The Epoch Times: 2nd Belt and Road Summit Lacked Transparency

Epoch Times reported that the 2nd “Belt and Road International Cooperation Summit” concluded on April 27 in Beijing. However, the Summit was described as lacking transparency as most of the meetings were held behind closed doors. As the media was not invited, they were not able to cover the meetings. The reporters were neither notified of the time of the opening ceremony nor were they given the chance to ask questions during the press conference at the closing ceremony. According to an article the BBC published, on April 27, Xi Jinping participated in a round table discussion with leaders from 37 countries.  After that discussion, Xi held a press conference and declared that agreements in the amount of US$64 billion had been signed during the summit. However, Xi did not mention the scale of the debt that will be owed to China, nor did he say when the next “Belt and Road” summit will be held. Taiwan’s Liberty Times reported that, during the summit, even though China was trying to give answers to the criticism about the “debt trap,” “(China) exercises influence (in foreign countries)” and the entire summit just looked like it lacked transparency. There were also fewer reporters at the summit compared to the last time. Meanwhile unlike what was done in the past, the large screen in the press center was airing Xi’s entire speech. Reporters felt like they were watching the official CCTV version. In addition, China’s largest trading partners, the U.S. and India, were absent from the summit. None of the leaders from the U.S. G7 industrial countries including Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Britain, and Germany were present at the summit. Even the Sri Lankan Prime Minister and the Indonesian President, China’s close partners, did not attend the summit.

The Epoch Times article stated that Western democratic countries are worried that the “Belt and Road” project that China proposed will cause the underdeveloped countries participating in the project to fall into a debt crisis. Since there is lack of transparency in the projects and in the funding, it will lead to corruption involving the officials in the hosting countries. China also can use the “Belt and Road” project to export its dictatorship and its party culture to the outside world.

Source: The Epoch Times, April 28, 2019

RFA: China Ranks Fourth from Bottom per Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index

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
Ranking 2019