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Showing posts from 2016

How The Arab Spring Fuelled China's Maoist Revival

In October 2011 China's state-run newspaper China Daily published an op-ed by former Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema about the Arab Spring, a series of anti-government protests which erupted in 2010 across the Muslim world. D'Alema wrote:
"The Arab upheavals are a by-product of the inexorable process of globalization in the twenty-first century ... Only by fully understanding the demands and grievances of these Arab revolutionaries will the West be able to give the region appropriate support – and this support is critical. The Arab revolts have not been directed against the West – on the contrary, they have been fed by Western democratic principles and values – but they could yet produce a reactionary backlash.
"Western countries' support must be unambiguous. The Arab peoples must see clearly that the EU and the US genuinely intend to sustain Arabs' demands for democracy, freedom of speech, and economic opportunity. In short, the region's people …

Taiwan's Fears of War with China Grow

Ever since Nationalist forces retreated to Taiwan in 1949, the island has been confronted with the permanent risk of Communist invasion. In the 1950s the People's Liberation Army (PLA) launched two attacks against the last bulwark of Chiang Kai-shek's regime. The last major crisis in the Taiwan Strait dates back to the mid-1990s, when the People's Republic of China (PRC) conducted missile "tests" dangerously close to Taiwan's shores. This display of military strength was aimed at then-President of Taiwan Lee Teng-hui, who had publicly refuted Beijing's territorial claims on the island.

Stuck In Macau For One Night

On Friday I decided to go to Macau, a city which in my opinion - as I wrote in the past - is one of Asia's most charming travel destinations. I was planning on staying there for just one day, taking a walk in the afternoon and later meeting an old friend of mine, before returning to Hong Kong at around 11 p.m.
The original idea was to take a ferry in the morning, but because I slept miserably the previous night I ended up leaving home at 3 p.m. The weather was hot and humid, the sky grey. Around one hour later I arrived at the Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui. After buying a ticket and going through the immigration control, I joined the unavoidable long queue largely consisting of mainland Chinese tourists: young and old, fancy and sporty, all invariably holding shopping bags with names of fashion or food brands written on them. 
Riding a ferry from Hong Kong to Macau may seem like an enjoyable and relaxing experience - to those who have never taken one. The reality i…

Launching A New Website - china-journal.org

In this post I would like to introduce my new website: china-journal.org, in which I will be writing about Chinese culture, history and society. 
I had been thinking for quite some time about starting a new website, since I was very unhappy with how this blog has developed over the years. At the beginning "My New Life In Asia" was supposed to be a platform where I could write about my personal experiences and thoughts - which is what blogs have been invented for. Instead, I started to write about Confucianism, politics, culture etc. In the end I totally abandoned my original purpose. 
This created two problems: first, many posts I published on this site are out of place; second, I have no space for a "public diary" as I had envisioned it. The only way to solve this issue was to separate blogging from more "serious" writing by creating an entirely new website. Let me now briefly explain the concept and structure of china-journal.org.
First of all, I decided t…

Law In Imperial China – Confucianism And Legalism

The legal system of imperial China developed from two schools of thought: Confucianism and Legalism. Although both of them exerted a deep influence on China’s state-building as well as on its moral and legal traditions, at the beginning these two philosophies were bitterly opposed to each other, as they were based on entirely different principles (see: Xin Ren: Tradition of the Law and Law of the Tradition: Law, State, and Social Control in China, 1997, p. 19). Confucianism (儒家) originated from the teachings of Confucius (551 – 479 BC), a Chinese scholar, politician and philosopher who lived in the Spring and Autumn period. The main body of the Confucian canon comprises the Four Books and the Five Classics (四書五經), texts which have been traditionally attributed to Confucius himself, although their authorship is not ascertained beyond doubt. Confucius’ philosophy revolved around two concepts: the nobleman and the establishment of a well-ordered society. The nobleman (君子, pinyin:  jūn zǐ…

China’s Legal System – Communist or Feudal?

Emblem of the People's Court of the People's Republic of China (source: Wikipedia)

On October 13, 2014, Yu Wensheng, a lawyer from Beijing, was arrested and detained by the police for 99 days . He was interrogated approximately 200 hundred times by 10 officers who worked in shifts night and day. Yu's wrists were fastened behind his back with handcuffs. "My hands were swollen and I felt so much pain that I didn’t want to live", he told Amnesty International. "The police officers repeatedly yanked the handcuffs and I would scream". Two days before his arrest, Yu had submitted a request to Beijing Fengtai Detention Centre for meeting one of his clients. The authorities had rejected Yu's request without reason. As an act of protest, he stayed in front of the detention centre and later published a post online describing the incident. At around midnight the police forced him to leave, and on October 13 the Beijing Daxing District Public Security Bureau a…

Sex Meetings - Taiwan's 'Yuepao'

Sexuality in Taiwan is a controversial topic which highlights the contrast between publicly sanctioned virtue (德道) and actual individual behaviour. As far as women are concerned, Taiwanese society tends to value female characteristics such as faithfulness, filial piety, innocence and submissiveness to men. Many women create a public persona that conforms to such standards, as it is assumed that following the accepted social norms will advance one's prospects of a good marriage and career. However, the reality often contradicts abstract ideals, as the phenomenon of Taiwan's yuepao shows.
Yuepao is a neologism that describes a sexual relationship between two people who typically have met through social media or dating apps (徵友). The term yuepao(約炮; often also spelled 約砲), is the contraction of the words 會 (meeting) and 放鞭 (to set off firecrackers). It can be roughly translated as "sex meeting". 

Wrestling For A Seat In The Metro - Fight Erupts Between Two Couples In China's Wuhan

In any major city grabbing a seat on the metro can be a stressful experience. But in China disputes between passengers may lead to violent clashes, like the one which happened a few days ago in Wuhan city, capital of China's Hubei Province.
According to local media, on April 20 at around noon a middle-aged couple got on a train of Wuhan metro. The wife put a bag on the seat next to hers. Shortly afterwards, an older couple, about 60 years of age, asked the woman to free the seat. However, the woman refused. The old man insisted that she ought to yield her seat to elderly people, but she would not back down. At that moment, the woman's husband intervened and started cursing the old man, who instead of turning away yelled back. In a fit of rage, the younger man pushed the other away, thus giving rise to a fight between the two couples.

"Listen To The Masses" - Xi Jinping Wants Chinese Government To Take Citizens' Petitions Seriously

Mao Zedong once said that Communist cadres "must be models in applying the Party's democratic centralism, must master the method of leadership based on the principle of 'from the masses, to the masses', and must cultivate a democratic style and be good at listening to the masses". 
"Listening to the masses" - whatever this may mean - has become a common catchphrase of Xi Jinping's new vision for China's Communism. In perfect Maoist rhetorical style, Xi coats his ideology in vague high-sounding phrases, a vagueness that suits a Party leader who doesn't have to engage in debates with opponents and who needs ideological ambiguity in order to rule. Xi's last attempt at reviving the old Maoist principle of "listening to the masses" is the strengthening of Communist China's system of popular petitions, the so-called xinfang(信访). 

The xinfang system dates back to 1951, when the Government Administration Councilissued a "Decisio…

This Year China May Oppose Taiwan's Participation In World Health Assembly

In 2009 Taiwan received a historic invitation to participate in the World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer. That was the second year of President Ma Ying-jeou's administration, a time in which relations between Beijing and Taipei were improving on the basis of the "1992 consensus", an unofficial agreement between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Guomindang. Since the World Health Organization (WHO) recognises the one-China principle, Taiwan could not participate with its official name "Republic of China". Taiwan was therefore represented with the name "Chinese Taipei" (中華台北). 
The Republic of China (ROC) was a founding member of the WHO, but after the United Nations shifted recognition from the ROC to the People's Republic of China (PRC), the Executive Board of the United Nations passed resolution EB49.R37 recommending to the WHA to adopt a similar decision. As a result, on May 10 1972 the WHA decided "to restore all its rights to…

Visiting Missing Hong Kong Booksellers' Causeway Bay Bookstore

Yesterday I was walking with a friend in Causeway Bay, when she suddenly pointed at one of the countless colourful billboards that decorate the shopping district's building facades and said, "That's the bookstore of the missing booksellers!".
The bookstore is called "Causeway Bay Books" (銅鑼灣書店) and it's located on the second floor of a building on Lockhart Road. I and my friend went upstairs and, of course, the bookstore was closed. Next to the entrance door there were messages written on the wall by sympathetic citizens.

Hong Kong - Approval Rating of Last British Governor Higher Than That of any Post-1997 Leader

According to the latest survey of the Public Opinion Programme of the University of Hong Kong (HKU POP), Chris Patten, the last British Governor of Hong Kong, enjoyed the highest ratings among political leaders of the city in the past 24 years. 
Chris Patten was a member of the British Parliament with the Conservative Party from 1979 until 1992, when he lost his Bath seat at the general election (Chris Patten: East and West. Pan McMillan 2012, p. 13). British Prime Minister John Major offered him the post of Governor of Hong Kong. Patten's term of office as Governor lasted until 30 June 1997, when Hong Kong was handed over to the People's Republic of China. 






The POP survey, released on March 29, shows that upon assuming office Chris Patten's rating was approximately 55% and at the end of his term in June 1997 it was 60%. 
After the handover and the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). the office of the Governor was replaced by that of the Chie…

Fascinating Video of Hong Kong's Festivities in Honour of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953

Hong Kong Government Censors the Word "National" in Names of Taiwanese Universities

Despite Beijing's pledge that Hong Kong's system would remain unchanged after 1997, the institutions of Hong Kong are little by little aligning themselves with the national ideology of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). 
According to local reports, the theatrical troupe The Nonsensemakers (糊塗戲班) was invited by Hong Kong's Leisure and Cultural Services Department to take part in an event in late March. However, the department asked that the name of the alma mater of one of the troupe's members, National Taipei University of the Arts, had to be changed and the word "National" had to be removed. 
In a statement published on their Facebook page, The Nonsensemakers explained:
The Nonsensemakers were invited by the Leisure and Cultural Department to perform the piece "Three Novels: The Third Lie" from 18 to 20 March at the Tsuen Wan Town Hall. Because the Department was the organiser of the event, it was its responsibility to print out the booklets. The orga…

Chinese Website Censors Taiwanese Scholar Because He Used The Words "Republic of China" and "President"

On 18 March Tong Zhenyuan (童振源), professor at National Zhengzhi University, visiting professor at Berkeley University and ex vice committee chairperson of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, was invited by the Chinese website The Paper (澎湃新闻网) to answer netizens' questions. However, about one hour after the beginning of the question-and-answer session, the broadcast was interrupted and taken down because Tong had used "sensitive words" which belong to the forbidden vocabulary of the People's Republic of China (PRC). 
The Paper has a section called "Ask Questions" (問吧). Tong Zhenyuan had been invited to answer netizens' questions regarding the future of Cross-Strait relations and the possibility of peaceful reunification. Some netizens asked why young Taiwanese people endorse independence and why Taiwan does not recognise China.  





Tong received over 200 questions and replied to 50 of them. However, during the session he was warned by the staff of the we…

Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg Meets Representative of China's Communist Party in Beijing

On March 19 Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook, was received in Beijing by Liu Yunshan (刘云山), member of the Politburo Standing Committee and of the Secretariat of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
According to Chinese media reports, Liu Yunshan said that the internet is a new common home for mankind and that shaping the future of the cyberspace community is a common responsibility of the international community (互联网是人类共同的新家园,构建网络空间命运共同体是国际社会的共同责任). "Chairman Xi Jinping's 'Four Principles' and 'Five Propositions' regarding the administration of the World Wide Web have received widespread approval", Liu was quoted as saying. He added that over the past twenty years China's internet has grown following "the path of development and governance with Chinese characteristics" (中国特色的发展治理之路). 
Liu praised Facebook's advanced technology and management model and expressed his hope that the US company "might strengthen its exchanges wit…

China is the Republic of China, says Ma Ying-jeou At Press Conference in Allied Guatemala

On March 13 Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou began an official trip to the central American country of Guatemala, one of the few states that maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan
On the website of the Central American Parliament (Parlamento Centroamericano) Ma Ying-jeou is called "President of the Republic of China (Taiwan)". According to Taiwanese reports, other sections of the website called him simply "President of China (Taiwan)". At a press conference, Ma Ying-jeou clarified which country he represents.
"As far as the relations between our two countries are concerned", he said, "China means Republic of China".
Democratic Progressive Party legislator Luo Zhizheng (羅致政) criticised Ma's response, wondering if the Foreign Ministry could accept "Republic of China" as the country's official name.




Wang Peiling (王珮玲), spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry, reiterated that "Republic of China" was the official name of the…

Taiwan's "Touch Me Party"

In Taiwan, nightclubs are traditionally a matter of controversy. In a country where public ethics and reality often clash, the media tend to portray nightclubs as places of perversion and loose morals. Whoever has experienced Taiwan's night scene knows that what goes on in nightclubs can be quite extreme. But while pleasure - and specifically sexual pleasure - as an element of nightclub life cannot be ignored, the way in which one judges the individual freedom to enjoy oneself is entirely subjective. 
A new type of nightclub party has recently hit the headlines in Taiwan. According to local reports, Rave Club, a popular nightclub in Taichung City, has announced on its Facebook page that on March 18 it will organise a so-called "Touch Me Party" (摸摸派對). This type of party seems to have originated in South Korea. Although Taiwan's media have noticed this phenomenon only recently, the club has been holding such parties for about a year, as pictures of "Touch Me Parti…

The Strange North Point Musician - A Hong Kong Story

If you are in Hong Kong and live in North Point, chances are you have seen that guy. Middle-aged, tall, scrawny, he has a long, wrinkly face, a long nose, blue eyes. Once he shook hands with me, and I felt the power of his sinewy arms.
He is from the United Kingdom and, as far as I know, he has been living in Hong Kong for a few years. You might have seen him because every day he stands at the corner of a sidewalk - usually near North Point MTR Station - and he plays guitar. That is how he earns a living. If you ever heard him play, you know he plays badly, and his singing talents are even worse than his music. And yet he manages to support himself. At least he earns enough to stay at a serviced apartment in Fortress Hill. At night, after "getting off work", he goes to McDonald's next to North Point Station and drinks there a coffee, which he regularly pays using a bunch of the coins passers-by gave him. While he counts each coin, he talks to the staff who, embarrassed, s…