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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
http://www.epochtimes.com/gb/19/4/28/n11219915.htm

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
https://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/meiti/nu-04182019101253.html
Ranking 2019
https://rsf.org/en/ranking/2019

Communist China’s Cultural Invasion of the World — Part III

— Part III: Strategic Implementation —

{Editor’s Notes: The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has adopted and, for many years, has carried out its strategy of “Culture Going Global.” The following is a report that Chinascope has created focusing on that strategy, on related government policies, and on the implementation of the CCP’s efforts. Continue reading

The Arrest of Yang Hengjun

The Chinese government arrested Yang Hengjun (杨恒均), a China-born Australian citizen on January 19, 2019. On April 8, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation aired an interview with his wife who appeared (on the show) in tears, asking the Australian government to rescue her husband.

This news created some heated discussions among some Chinese media for the following reasons:

First, Yang has been writing articles promoting democracy after he began living outside of China. He built up a large reader base. In January, he flew, with his wife and daughter, from New York to Guangzhou where he was arrested at the Guangzhou airport. On the surface, his arrest appeared to be the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) retaliation against a democracy promoter.

Second, Yang’s wife, Yuan Xiaoqian (袁小靓) has the pen name of “Ran Xiang (染香).” “Ran Xiang” is one of the biggest “fifty cents” writers. “Fifty cents” people refers to Chinese who copy and paste government-fed materials on the Internet to praise the CCP or to echo the party’s position. At the beginning, they were paid 50 cents for every posting  and therefore obtained the name of “50 cents.” Now some die-hard party supporters do that even if they are not paid. In China, there are a few super-big “fifty cents” writers who frequently write their own articles to brown-nose the CCP. “Ran Xiang” is one of them. She used to attack Western democracy and freedom, claiming that the CCP’s dictatorship is the best democracy or that “democracy will not succeed in Asia.”

These super-big “fifty cents” writers are supposed to be the favorites of the CCP, but there is a bit of irony here. Even the biggest “fifty cents” writer cannot protest about her husband and has to go to a Western country that she belittled to ask for help on the grounds of human rights.

The third is the most controversial one: Yang is actually not a democracy promoter but rather the main executor of the CCP’s “Big Global Propaganda (大外宣)” strategy. His position of promoting democracy is just a disguise.

Some evidence includes that, despite the fact that Yang had been talking about democracy for a decade, he was invited to attend Beijing’s celebration of National Day (October 1) at the Great Hall of the People in 2014. Only high-ranking government officials and people with an extremely high status can attend that gathering. In addition, 35 owners/managers of overseas Chinese media (the CCP’s Propaganda Department has directly controlled or invested in most of them) formed the International New Media Cooperation Organization in Beijing on December 11, 2014. Yang was elected as the Chairman.

If Yang was indeed working for the CCP, why did the CCP arrest him? One theory is that he may belong to the faction of Jiang Zemin and Zeng Qinghong. After Xi Jinping cleansed Jiang’s loyalists from the State Security Ministry, Yang was abandoned and eventually arrested.

Yang’s being a CCP spy is also a better explanation of why a democracy promoter (which Yang appeared to be) would marry a big “fifty cents” writer who was totally anti-democracy.

Yang, 53, graduated from the Department of International Politics of Fudan University (students from this department normally work in the state security or diplomat areas). He worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Hainan Provincial government, and at China’s state-owned enterprise in Hong Kong. In 2000, he became a naturalized citizen of Australia. He has been living with his family in the U.S. for the past few years.

Sources:

1. The Epoch Times, April 11, 2019
http://www.epochtimes.com/gb/19/4/11/n11179710.htm
2. Twitter


3. YouTube

Apple Music Removed the Theme Song of Hong Kong Movie “A Chinese Ghost Story II” from China

Prior to the upcoming 30th anniversary of the June 4th student movement, Apple Music removed a theme song from China that had been in a Hong Kong movie. The title of the song was “A Human’s Path (人间道).” it was the theme song in the famous film “A Chinese Ghost Story II” which was released in 1990. It was produced by the late Hong Kong musician Huang Zhan. Huang Zhan mentioned in a video interview a few years later that many Hong Kong people had already emigrated abroad before and after 1989, and everyone who stayed in Hong Kong was confused about the future. However, when he saw the Tiananmen incident, he felt terrible. He said during the interview that no one at the time knew what the song was referring to, but he wanted to put “emotions secretly into this song.” After Apple Music removed this song, many Chinese major online music sites such as “Xiami” or ” NetEase Cloud Music” also followed up to remove the song.

In recent years, Apple Music removed the works of the Hong Kong democracy movement musicians including Anthony Wong Yiu-ming (黄耀明), Denise Ho (何韵诗) and all the works of the singer Bobby Chen (陈昇) who is accused of (favoring) “Taiwan independence.” In addition, Apple Music removed the songs that were said to be related to the Tiananmen Square incident, including “Time Flies Soundlessly (岁月无声)” by the famous Hong Kong-known band “Beyond,” “Don’t Ruin it (別去糟蹋)” by the mainland band “Black Panthers,” and Cui Jian’s album “Balls Under the Red Flag (红旗下的蛋)” as well as the famous American band “Guns and Roses” album “China’s Democracy.”

Apple’s ban on songs has once again caused concern about the political compromises that the technology leaders have been unable to evade after entering the Chinese market. When companies such as Google or Apple entered the Chinese market, they all said they would abide by relevant Chinese laws and regulations.

The ban, however, has caused discussions on the internet. Many people started looking for this song to listen to it. In China’s famous video sharing platform “Bilibili 哔哩哔哩,” there is still a film by singer Jacky Cheung at the concert singing the song “A Human’s Path (人间道).” People’s comments showed that they understand very well what the lyrics were implying. One post stated. “The intention is not to let people mention it and prevent the topic from fermenting.” Another post said the song was “brave.”

So far, Apple has not responded about this matter.

Source: BBC Chinese, April 11, 2019
https://www.bbc.com/zhongwen/simp/chinese-news-47871738