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HKET: Apple Removed HK Police Tracking App Again

Hong Kong Economic Times (HKET), the leading financial daily in Hong Kong, recently reported that Apple once again unlisted the popular app from its AppStore. The app tracks, in real-time, the police activities around Hong Kong. It’s highly valuable at a time when the police are brutally cracking down on demonstrators in the city who are demanding freedom and democracy. Apple earlier unlisted the app once already, citing legal reasons. However, critics around the globe pointed out the decision was not aligned with Apple’s image of defending the rights of freedom-loving people. Soon after that Apple put the app back into the AppStore, which caused the Mainland Chinese media such as People’s Daily to issue major warnings. The Chinese official newspaper asked Apple, in an open commentary, to think really hard on whether this was good for its business or not. Apple then removed the app for the second time from the AppStore. The explanation was that it was supporting the Hong Kong police. The app has remained unavailable since then.

Source: Hong Kong Economic Times, October 10, 2019

Police Detained Retired Female Professor for Posting Photos of Hong Kong Protesters

Huang Chun, a 65-year-old retired professor from Guizhou University for Nationalities, was sentenced to 15 days of administrative detention for “disturbing the social order.” She posted pictures of Hong Kong demonstrators and the “June 4th” event on WeChat and Twitter. The public security authorities gave her a warning for openly criticizing the government on the Internet or accepting interviews with foreign media. On the evening of the 70th National Day, the authorities restricted her movement and did not allow her students to visit her.

Huang told Radio Free Asia that the Hua Xi public security bureau arrested her. During her arrest, she was stripped naked, forced to wear a uniform, handcuffed, and forced to have her blood and urine tested. She said later they sent her to a location where the Armed Police Force was stationed to serve her sentence of 15 days of detention Over tens of thousands of people were locked inside at that location. An RFA article reported that Huang’s description of the detention location was similar to the education and training center set up in Xinjiang. There is reason to believe that China has expanded its detention facility. Since 2018, the Chinese Armed Police Force was moved and put under the Central Military Commission. This means that the armed police forces are outside the administrative organs of the State Council and are not subject to the control of the local public security.

Source: Radio Free Asia, October 11, 2019

CNA: Reporter Beaten When Covering News of Wuxi Bridge Collapse

According to the Central News Agency, three people died when the bridge in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, collapsed on October 10. The police blocked reporters during the interview at the scene. At the street corner, the police beat one reporter very badly. They also shot down the drone that the media had set up. Authorities set up a road block two kilometers away from the scene. When questioned about the quality of the bridge, the company that is responsible for the bridge design insisted that the design meets all of the requirements that were specified. Local officials even concluded that the collapse was due to an overload of vehicles that happened before the data on the bridge’s weight limit was published. People are concerned that the collapse may have been due to the poor quality of the bridge as well as flaws in the structural design.

Source: Central News Agency, October 12, 2019

RFI: Chinese Official Media Didn’t Mention Thousands of Indian Students Wearing Xi Jinping Face Masks during Welcome Ceremony

Xi Jinping’s visit to India received a lot of attention. In China, the media covered Xi’s visit except for one welcome ceremony when two thousand Indian students wore Xi Jinping face masks. On October 11, Xi Jinping went to Chennai to meet with Indian Prime Minister Modi. During the welcoming ceremony, two thousand local students wore face masks with Xi Jinping’s picture on it while they formed Xi Jinping’s name in Chinese characters. Even though it was such a grand welcoming ceremony, China’s official media did not mention the scene. One of the reasons could be related to Hong Kong’s facial mask law. The Hong Kong authorities have put forth an effort to ban facial masks and people wearing masks are the image of Hong Kong protestors. The Indian students wearing a mask that had the image of Xi Jinping smiling on it might not go over well given the current circumstances in Hong Kong.

It was not easy for Xi Jinping to visit India. China and India have differences: a long-standing unresolved border issue, as well as Kashmir’s territorial disputes, and China’s close ties with Pakistan who is an enemy of India. This is the second time that Xi Jinping and Modi have met. The location was Chennai. Their talk avoided Kashmir and the atmosphere of the talks was still peaceful. Modi even said that the India-China relationship has begun a “new era.”

Source: Radio France Internationale, October 13, 2019

The 10th World Chinese Language Media Forum

On October 12, the 10th World Chinese Language Media Forum was held in Shijiazhuang city of Hebei province. The Overseas Chinese Affairs Office under the State Council, the provincial government of Hebei Province, and the China News Agency sponsored the event. According to China’s official Xinhua News Agency, more than 600 from senior management along with influential media leaders from over 400 Chinese media outlets in 61 countries and regions attended the forum.

Shen Yueyue, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress gave a speech at the opening ceremony. She said that the Chinese language media “have made important contributions to shaping China’s image, spreading Chinese culture, and promoting exchanges between China and foreign countries.” Shen hoped that “Chinese media would take advantage of having access to both Chinese and foreign resources to tell the China story well.”

Source: Xinhua, October 12, 2019

Visa Application Suspected to Support Work of Chinese Intelligence Agency

An internal analysis report from the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz in Germany or BfV), Germany’s domestic security agency, pointed out that German tourists and business travelers visiting China are facing the threat of Chinese intelligence agencies eavesdropping on them. The internal report warned that, since May 2019, new regulations which open the door for Chinese intelligence agencies have been introduced into China’s visa application. “At the visa application stage, the intelligence agency can screen the targets for eavesdropping based on the applicant’s information.” BfV believes that the new application form for Chinese visas has added a great number of questions, thus facilitating espionage.

Deutsche Welle also checked application forms on the China’s Visa Application website and found that the newly added contents were mainly professional information compared to the previous versions. The new form requires a complete detailing of professional experience, including the contact details of the companies and also the name and contact information of the direct supervisor. In addition to the educational history, the new form also requires information on language skills. Information on military service, past experience abroad, special skills such as explosives, nuclear engineering, participation in charitable organizations, and the history of any mental illness.

In contrast, Chinese citizens who apply for a short-term in Germany and are issued a visa to the Schengen Area are not required to provide such detailed information. However, for Chinese citizens to apply for a visa to the United States, the information required is much more detailed.

The German language Focus magazine that obtained the above mentioned BfV report revealed that the BfV report pointed out that the personal sensitive information that the applicants fill out for a Chinese visa will help Chinese intelligence agencies to be able to prepare better for potential eavesdropping. “China has been installing comprehensive monitoring facilities in public in recent years. This further facilitates the surveillance.” “If the visitor is selected in advance, the intelligence agency will immediately put him through comprehensive and nonstop monitoring as soon as he enters the country.” It is “almost unavoidable” that his paper materials and digital information on smartphones and computers will be subject to inspection.

The report also emphasized, “The greater the risk, the more caution should be taken when staying in the concerned country.” BfV suggested that the less sensitive the information is that German travelers carry to China, the better. “It’s best to carry a brand new phone for one-time use, instead of a smartphone that stores sensitive information.” The laptop one carries should also not contain important company data.

Source: Deutsche Welle, October 9, 2019