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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

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

Springer Nature Asked to Block Part of Its Contents inside China

BBC Chinese published an article which reported that Springer Nature, a scientific publishing company, {whose publications include Nature and Scientific American}, confirmed that it was asked to block part of the contents on its website inside China. This is a second incident following the same fate that the Cambridge University Press, “The China Quarterly” suffered. According to Financial Times, over 1,000 papers that Springer Nature published in two of its political research journals are “politically sensitive papers.” They are no longer accessible in China. Springer Nature called the decision deeply regretful while stressing that it was trying to meet the requirements of the Chinese authorities and follow the local legal requirements. It stated that the blocked contents only account for less than one percent of the total contents and their customers in China can still access 99 percent of the contents. It emphasized that if they did not take any action, they would face the risk of being completely blocked in China. A Hong Kong scholar told the BBC that this is part of China’s propaganda policy. Chinese authorities did an investigation ahead of time and compiled a list of contents that “incorrectly portray China” or were “unfriendly to China.” According to the Hong Kong scholar, “China has the market. It is so attractive that these publishers want to penetrate the market to win a share of the market.”

Source: BBC Chinese, November 2, 2017

Apple Watch Cellular Connection Cut in China

Well-known Chinese news site Sina recently reported that the newly released Apple Watch Series 3, which added support for the LTE cellular connection, is facing governmental challenges in China. The LTE functionality was available on China Unicom at launch. However, the Chinese government abruptly terminated the LTE access for the new Apple Watch Series 3 subscribers a few days later without explanation. Industry analysts expressed the belief that the Chinese government was concerned about the fact that it could not track who was using the new Apple Watch. Apple’s new eSIM technology used in the Watch made it very difficult to track the user’s identity and China heavily regulates the mobile communications industry. The Chinese regulator, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, didn’t respond to the media’s requests for comment. Not long-ago the Chinese government forced Apple to remove more than 400 VPN apps from the local version of its App Store. VPN technology offers a way to bypass China’s Great Firewall.

Source: Sina, October 20, 2017

WSJ Chinese: Chinese Government Trying to Gain Shares of Private High-Tech Companies

Wall Street Journal Chinese recently reported that the Chinese government is considering investing in one or two percent of the shares, called “special administrative stock” in Chinese domestic high-tech companies. Trials have started in two companies. This ownership investment is intended to acquire one or more seats on the board of privately owned large high-tech companies in order to participate in their management and operations. Over the past 20 years, Chinese high-tech companies have enjoyed massive growth and obtained significant shares in critical industries such as financial, insurance, transportation, communication and entertainment. These companies also own a large amount of data regarding the day-to-day behavior of the Chinese population. Examples of these companies are Tencent and Alibaba. Owners of these companies privately expressed their deep concerns about this potential move, since this type of government stock ownership may result in lawsuits for those companies that trade overseas. For the Chinese government, the cost is also a concern. For example, just to hold one percent of Tencent will require US$4 billion. The biggest worry among shareholders and the company owners is the potential to lose independence as well as the capability of innovating.

Source: WSJ Chinese, October 12, 2017

Guangming Daily: 30 Million People in China Suffer from Depression

According to an article that Guangming Daily published, 30 million people in China who are between the ages of 20 and 60 suffer from depression. Depression is ranked at the top in the occurrence rate of mental illness. In addition, over 80 percent of mental health patients do not receive proper treatment due to a lack of medication, an insufficient treatment plan, and the frequent switching of medications. These people suffer from slow reactions, memory loss, delusions, suicidal tendencies, anxiety, and insomnia. Currently, mental health treatment facilities are lacking in rural areas. Experts are calling for more community based facilities to be built to help these patients.

Source: Guangming Daily, October 13, 2017

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