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Showing posts from February, 2015

China's Supreme People's Court Rejects Western-style Judicial Independence

As Xi Jinping tightens control over the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), further restricts freedom of speech and revives Marxist and Maoist ideology, the judicial system, too, is undergoing a conservative counter-reformation aimed at strengthening the role of the Party and excluding possible reforms inspired by the judicial system of liberal countries. 

According to China News, on February 25 the Party leadership group of the Supreme People's Court of the People's Republic of China released a statement stressing that the country must preserve "the judicial system of socialism with Chinese characteristics" (中国特色社会主义司法制度). At the same time, it strongly rejected what it described as "Western judicial independence and the separation of powers" (西方“司法独立”、“三权鼎立”). The Supreme People's Court said that the judicial system must "resolutely resist the influence of wrong Western thought and wrong Western viewpoints."

Mainland Chinese Tourists' Bad Behaviour Angers Japanese

While this year the number of mainland Chinese tourists that spent their Chinese New Year holidays in Hong Kong has declined for the first time since the 1997 handover, neighbouring Japan and South Korea have become increasingly popular with Chinese travellers.
Data released by Hong Kong's immigration department show that 675,155 mainlanders visited Hong Kong between February 18 and 22, a 0.16%  drop compared with last year. Many regard the rising anti-Chinese sentiment in Hong Kong as the main cause for the diminishing popularity of the former British colony among mainland visitors. 
Over the last few years, the misbehaviour of some mainland tourists as well as the soaring number of Chinese shoppers have caused widespread anger in Hong Kong and prompted many citizens to take to the streets. On February 8, for example, around 800 Hong Kong residents protested against Chinese one-day shoppers and parallel traders that are making the city unlivable.
Japan and South Korea, on the contr…

Is Taiwan Ruled Dictatorially?

On February 2 Lee Teng-hui, the former leader of the Guomindang and the first democratically elected president of the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan), gave a speech at the Legislative Yuan concerning the issue of constitutional reform. 
Lee Teng-hui is my favourite Taiwanese president. He implemented democratic reforms, defended the ROC against Beijing's claims to Taiwan, he managed the economy well and was a politician who exercised a strong leadership but was at the same time tolerant, humane, and capable of understanding and representing Taiwan's mainstream public opinion. In this respect, I consider him a better politician than Chen Shuibian and Ma Ying-jeou (Ma Yingjiu), let alone Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo (Jiang Jingguo). 
Three points in his speech seem to me quite interesting, and in this post I will briefly examine them. The first two points concern Taiwan's identity and economic situation. The third point relates to Lee's assertion that Taiwan is cur…

Papa Xi “Beats The Tiger” – Xi Jinping’s New Year Propaganda Cartoon

On 17 February Beijing Chaoyang Studio (北京朝阳工作室) released three cartoons which aim at spreading among the people the values of the Xi Jinping administration in a way that is closer to the common citizen and less stiff and cold than traditional political propaganda.
One of the three cartoons is entitled “Has the mass line been truly implemented?” (群众路线动真格了?) The animation revolves around Xi Jinping’s fight against corruption, a phenomenon which, according to the leader of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), runs counter the Communist Party’s mass line.

The cartoon condemns the vices that the official party language describes as “The Four Decadent Customs” (四风)and “The Three Abuses” (三公).
According to the Southern Metropolis Daily (南方都市报), the animations represent a departure from the previous style of government communication, which was too cold and detached from the people. “In the past,” writes the paper, “the Chinese people only saw pictures, portraits or official videos of their…

Taiwan, Breathtaking Miniskirts and the Wrong Laowai

I am not a big fan of hiking, but I love to take long walks in the city, where I can observe people and see interesting buildings. If I have to go somewhere, I usually go on foot instead of taking the MRT. Yesterday evening, too, I walked from Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to Xindian.
Before going home I went to Family Mart because I needed toothpaste and milk. While I was looking for the things I wanted to buy I suddenly saw a girl, one of the many girls one sees in Taiwan who will take your breath away. She looked young (I would guess between 18 and 20, but here you never know, she might have been 30, as well). She had a petite, slender body, and long dyed brown hair. Her clothes were simple and reflected the common and to me inexplicable Taiwanese habit of wearing winter clothes on the upper body and summer clothes on the lower body. 
In fact, she wore a black hooded sweatshirt, which definitely suited yesterday's cold and windy weather. Below she wore a tiny, really tiny skirt t…

Girlfriend of Hong Kong Democracy Activist Joshua Wong Detained In Mainland China

On February 18 Tiffany Chin (錢詩文), a Hong Kong pro-democracy activist, was denied entry into mainland China and detained at Kunming Airport. The 19-year-old Tiffany Chin is the girlfriend ofJoshua Wong, the founder of ‘Scholarism‘, a pro-democracy student association that was at the forefront of last year’s Occupy Centralmovement. Joshua Wong soon became one of the most famous leaders of the demonstrations.

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Number of Chinese Mainland Tourists in Hong Kong - 1996 vs 2013

On February 8 around 800 protestors besieged two shopping malls and a bus stop in the district of Tuen Mun, in Northwest Hong Kong. Tuen Mun, which borders on mainland China's Guangdong Province, has become a common destination for mainland shoppers and the so-called 'parallel-traders', i.e. improvised merchants who cross the border to buy products that they then re-sell in mainland China for a profit.
The protestors first surrounded the stop of Citybus B3X, a line connecting Tuen Mun with the mainland city of Shenzhen (it takes merely 30 minutes to cover the distance between the two cities). The demonstrators complained about the flood of mainlanders that, so they argue, have made their district unlivable. "Go back to the mainland", "Give us back Tuen Mun", the Hongkongers shouted. 
Afterwards the crowd moved to Tuen Mun Town Plaza, a popular department store with mainland tourists, and later occupied almost half of Trend Plaza, an adjacent department st…

The 10 Questions Taiwanese Are Afraid To Be Asked on Chinese New Year

One might think that Chinese New Year is a time of rest and joy, of warmth and love. And to a certain extent it is. Family members eat together, exchange 'red envelopes' (i.e. cash gifts), chat and relax. Yet there is more behind the apparent happiness of this event, a less bright and merry side. As the family holiday par excellence, Chinese New Year is also a period in which people face a lot of pressure, a pressure that is often quite unbearable.
In Taiwan as in the rest of the Chinese-speaking world, the family was traditionally the most important thing in one's life. What a single family member did - his or her job, relationships, offspring, property and reputation - were not individual matters, but collective matters that concerned the entire family. Although in a weakened form, much of this still holds true.
Read: Family in Chinese Culture
The proof of this is the number of articles published in Taiwan before Chinese New Year which discuss how to deal with family pressu…

The Hypocrisy of China's 'Wrong Western Values' Debate

"Why should China say no to 'wrong Western values'"? asked an editorial published on the People's Daily, a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The editorial was written in defence of the recently announced ban on university textbooks promoting 'Western values'. 
According to the paper, Western people misunderstand China. They do not realise that human rights are not universally applicable. Although China protects and values "liberty, democracy, equality and human rights",  the country's history, tradition and customs are different from the West's, and therefore China cannot simply copy the West's multi-party political system or passively adopt its understanding of human rights. 
"There is no universal criteria to judge political values," writes the People's Daily. "Therefore, China must assimilate western values within its own political culture. Otherwise, it could ruin the future and fate of the entire …

Taipei Is World's 13th Safest City - The Economist Safe City Index 2015

According to the Economist Safe City Index 2015, Taipei confirms its position as one of the world's safest cities. The index is based on four categories: digital security, health security, infrastructure safety and personal safety. Here is the list:
1 Tokyo 2 Singapore 3 Osaka 4 Stockholm 5 Amsterdam 6 Sydney 7 Zurich 8 Toronto 9 Melbourne 10 New York 11 Hong Kong 12 San Francisco 13 Taipei 14 Montreal 15 Barcelona 16 Chicago 17 Los Angeles 18 London 19 Washington DC 20 Frankfurt
Taipei performs best in terms of personal safety: it is the world's 5th city in this category. However, in the index of the top 25 cities, that is, the cities where it is best to live, Taipei ranks 21st. The top cities index is based on the data of 6 other indexes  (Safe Cities, Liveability Rankings, Cost of Living, Business Environment Rankings, Democracy Index, Global Food Security Index).

"The Chinese Communist Party Stands Beside You" - Xi Jinping's Charm Offensive

"It is important to mould the image of our country," wrote Xi Jinping in his best-seller, 'The Governance Of China '. "We should create the image of a great civilised country with a long history; of a united multiethnic state, in which different cultures live side by side in harmony; of a great Asian power with an upright and honest policy, a relatively developed economy, a thriving culture, a stable society, a people living in harmony, and beautiful landscapes; of a great responsible country that defends international justice and fairness and gives its contribution to the development of humanity; and of a great socialist country full of charm, hopes and vitality, which continues to open itself up to the world."
Papa Xi (习大大), as he is now called by the subservient state media that glorify him like no other Communist leader after Mao Zedong, describes this strategy as "raising China's cultural soft power". Upon taking over from his predecessors…

Getting Scammed in Beijing

After two lazy months I am trying to update my blog again more regularly. There was a time when I used to write one post each day, but it's a really hard pace to keep for a long time. 
There's also something that's bothering me. A week ago I was in Beijing and I got scammed. I'm kind of ashamed of admitting that, since apparently everyone knows that Beijing is famous for its scams. So was I the only one who didn't know? Obviously not, since these scammers find new victims each day among the naive and trusting foreign visitors. 
The funny thing about that is that I always felt totally safe in Beijing, especially in Wangfujing, Dongdan, Tiananmen Square, Jianguo Road and in the hutongs. Even in Dongzhimen in the evening I never had any problem. 
Beijing is one of the most militarised places I've ever visited. In Tiananmen, Wangfujing and the whole of Jianguo Road there are policemen and soldiers everywhere. Who could have imagined that in this country, with its all-…

China Web Portal NetEase Accused of 'Rumour-Mongering'

The Chinese internet company NetEase has been accused by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) of "illegally republishing news and information, spreading pornography, rumour-mongering and other issues".
According to a law against online rumours which was adopted in September 2013, internet users who spread "false information" will be charged with defamation if the posts carrying the alleged rumours are visited by at least 5,000 people or are shared more than 500 times. The Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate declared in a judicial interpretation that an internet user found guilty of spreading online rumours faces up to three years in jail. Rumour-mongering is considered a "serious breach" of Criminal Law.
The CAC has not provided details about NetEase's alleged misbehaviour. The internet company is headquartered in Guangdong, one of the first provinces that benefited from China's "opening up and reform&q…