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BBC Chinese: Cut of Game of Thrones Final Episode Caused Major Debate in China

BBC Chinese recently reported that the popular U.S. TV series Game of Thrones is also very popular in China. However, when the Chinese fans were eager to watch the final episode on May 20, the broadcaster Tencent cut the show off one hour before airing citing technical difficulties, without providing a new air time. Tencent is the sole distributor of Game of Thrones in China, and many fans paid extra for the VIP access to watch the show. The cut-off caused nationwide anger online, especially when Tencent’s version of the show had already passed China’s official screening. A large number of Chinese netizens questioned whether this is part of the public opinion war against the United States. Once the trade war restarted recently, China’s media have been engaged in a wave of anti-American activities. Many normal TV broadcasts were replaced by old movies covering the Korean War. Tencent stock dropped 3.88 percent instantly after the event. Both Tencent and HBO refused to respond to this matter. Game of Thrones is very popular among China’s top leadership members as well, including President Xi himself. They typically watch a much-compressed edition called the “diamond version” in order to save time.

Source: BBC Chinese, May 21, 2019

Beijing News: Beijing Announced Grain and Oil Market Stabilization Plan

Beijing News recently reported that the City of Beijing just announced and deployed an emergency response plan to balance the city’s grain and oil market. This is another emergency market control plan for life’s necessities, after the pork market and the vegetable market. As a “mega consumer city,” Beijing’s goal for the new emergency plan is to ensure that the market prices of grain and oil related products are controlled to be within certain ranges. The plan aims to control the price adjustments in the wholesale market. Based on past statistics, Beijing’s wholesale price fluctuations are typically more severe than those of the retail prices. The plan is to reflect the concerns related to the mid-to-long term impact under the complex domestic and international market pressure. Starting in 2013, Beijing established price control emergency funds within the government budget.

Source: Beijing News, May 13, 2019

Xi Jinping’s National Public Security Conference

A Radio France International article commented on the national public security (police) conference that was held in Beijing on May 7th and 8th. “This was actually a very rare meeting. Not only was it the first time that Xi Jinping, as the head of Chinese Communist Party (CCP). called for such as meeting, but it was also the first time in 16 years for senior CCP officials to hold such a meeting. The timing was the moment when the Sino – US (trade) negotiations were on the brink of breaking down.”

“At the beginning of the year at a study session of the first secretaries of the provincial CCP committees, Xi Jinping delivered a speech on the prevention of major risks. He used the ‘black swan’ and ‘gray rhinoceros’ as a metaphor to warn of unforeseen events that may occur in China. Later, in his interpretation of Xi Jinping’s speech, Wang Huning, a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, issued serious warnings about preventing the worse-case scenario.”

“The public security (police) organs have always been the most powerful dictatorship tools for the CCP on the issue of how to prevent major risks. This may be an important consideration for Xi Jinping to have convened the 21st National Public Security Work Conference in China, especially at the critical juncture of Sino-US trade negotiations. Either a successful or an unsuccessful negotiation could trigger unexpected incidents.”

“Why did Xi Jinping choose to hold a public security conference at this point in time? In addition to the Sino-US trade war, some analysts believe it may have something to do with many ‘risky’ anniversaries this year. In the Internet era, a situation could occur unexpectedly and news could spread rapidly. Being is in a state of high nervousness; the authorities may be concerned about danger developing after even the slightest incident.”

Source: Radio France International, May 10, 2019×8.T

China News: Northern China PM2.5 Pollution Increased after Remediation

China News recently reported that China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment just released its 2018-2019 Fall and Winter Air Quality Improvement Report. The report indicated that, on a year-over-year basis, 28 cities in Northern China saw a PM2.5 pollution increase rather than a decrease after intensive air pollution control and remediation activities. These cities include Beijing and many cities near Beijing. The Report explained that, in addition to certain natural causes, it has been harder to apply environmental protection controls and, over time, the cities have again become undisciplined. The Report is part of the assessment process of the Three-Year Combat Plan for Protecting the Blue Sky. The initiative was designed to improve air quality in multiple major regions. While the Eastern region achieved an 8.3 percent improvement, the Northern regions suffered a 6.5 percent decline in quality. Statistics on both the average pollution level and the number of heavy pollution days showed the situation deteriorated. Local governments’ relaxed administrative and monitoring strength was identified as the key issue.

Source: China News, May 1, 2019

RFI: Beijing Imposed Heavy Sentences on Its Veterans

Radio France Internationale reported that Beijing launched a severe crackdown on its veterans for initiating a rights petition. Recently local courts sentenced 18 veterans who participated in the protests in Zhenjiang (Jiangsu province) and Pingdu (Shandong province) last year to two to six years in prison for “disturbing the social order,” “intentional assault,” or “the crime of preventing officials from performing their duties.” In the year that marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party, the 30th anniversary of the June 4th incident, and the 100th anniversary of the May 4th Movement, the heavy sentences show that Beijing is taking a hard stance against the veterans’ rights petition.

Chinese veterans have been asking the authorities to resolve the issue of unfair benefits after their retirement. In recent years, veterans used social media to launch joint petitions to protest their rights and the scale has been growing. In October 2016, nearly 10,000 veterans from more than 10 provinces and cities came to Beijing to petition. They gathered outside the building of the Central Military Commission. The news had a great impact throughout the country.

On June 20 last year, a group of veterans in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province, protested their rights in front of the city government. After the city government sent unidentified personnel to beat them, veterans from all over China came to Zhenjiang to show their support. On June 23, the authorities dispatched nearly 10,000 armed police to disperse the protesting veterans who gathered in front of the city government and managed to intercept veterans who were on their way to Zhenjiang.

On October 4 last year, dozens of veterans from Shandong Pingdu were preparing to go to Beijing to petition. After many of them were intercepted from going to Beijing, more veterans from all over Shandong came to show their support. On the 6th, thousands of veterans went to the Pingdu Municipal Government to protest. The veterans used wooden sticks to fight back against the police who used tear gas to forcibly disperse the crowd.

In 2018, in response to the increasingly large-scale veteran protests, the Chinese authorities formed the Department of Veteran Affairs to “transfer and resettle military cadres and retired soldiers, to provide education and training for retired military personnel, and to resolve the dissatisfaction among the military personnel.”

Source: Radio France Internationale, April 19, 2019

Sina Weibo Shut Down Accounts that “Disseminate Harmful Information”

On the afternoon of April 16th, the Sina Weibo Community Management official microblog released an announcement on the recent investigation into the harmful information and accounts in Weibo. The announcement stated that from March 28, 2019, until April 10, 2019, according to the requirements of relevant laws and regulations, Sina Weibo banned and closed a number of accounts that had disseminated harmful information. The accounts closed included that of Actor Zhao Lixing, who has 7 million followers.

The announcement also reminded Weibo users that the language and discussion they use should comply with the requirements of relevant laws, regulations, and community rules. Users including self-media accounts should abide by the “Internet Information Service Management Regulations” and “must not create, copy, publish, or disseminate information content prohibited by law or administrative regulations.”

The announcement also posted a list of definitions of harmful information in current affairs. These include:
1. Opposing the basic principles established by the Constitution;
2. Endangering national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity;
3. Leaking state secrets, endangering national security or jeopardizing national honors and interests;
4. Inciting national hatred, ethnic discrimination, undermining national unity, or infringing on national customs;
5. Destroying the national religious policy and promoting cults and superstitions;
6. Spreading rumors, disrupting the social order and undermining social stability;
7. Distorting, vilifying, defaming, or negating heroic deeds and spirit; insulting and defaming heroic martyrs;
8. Promoting gambling, violence, murder, terror or instigating crimes;
9. Inciting illegal gatherings, associations, demonstrations, or public gatherings to disturb social order;
10. Spreading negative information that goes beyond the bottom line of social morality and the system;
11. Publishing other content prohibited by law, administrative regulations and national regulations.

Source: Wenxuecity, April 16, 2019