Guangzhou has found a novel way to keep in touch with people arriving from west Africa, which has been afflicted with the Ebola virus: give them free mobile phones.
Every single traveler who arrives in the city from Guinea, Libera, or Sierra Leong will get a health care package that includes a thermometer, local map and free mobile phone with a SIM card pre-installed.
“Passengers who get the phone should keep it turned on for the following 21 days. In this way, disease control personnel can track and contact them as quickly as possible,” said Wu Huiming, deputy head of the entry-exit inspection and quarantine bureau.
So far authorities have handed out 98 phones.
Guangzhou is known as Africa’s capital in China, with some estimates that 200,000 Africans are living in the city. The strong links with Africa have made concerns about the spread of Ebola particularly acute in the city. If anyone rejects the mobile phones or health package, they will be blacklisted the next time they try and enter the country.
Life is getting tougher for foreigners in China, whether it’s something as simple as more restricted access to western TV shows online or tougher visa regulations.
We have been reporting for a while now that Guangzhou has been cracking down on foreigners in the city, specifically visitors from Africa. One report said half of the 200,000 African expats in Guangzhou are there illegally.
No matter where you’re from, make sure you have a valid visa and working permit, because Guangzhou isn’t messing around when it comes to deportations.
So far this year, the city announced it has either detained or deported 768 foreigners for things like expired passports, overstaying visas, illegal entry, and other criminal acts. The city remains one of the most popular destinations for visitors from other countries, with more than three million foreigners arriving or leaving the city this year.
The report says Guangzhou is currently home to 86,000 foreigners.
Beijing’s decision to deny true democracy for Hong Kong may have been heart-breaking, but it wasn’t entirely unexpected. For months leading up to the decision of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee on Sunday, Beijing has been saying that some form of a nominating committee would be in place, and that eligible candidates must “love the country”. It was an ominous sign, and now it’s played out as anticipated.
Hong Kong, already, somehow seems different. The police on every street corner yesterday made it feel like Tiananmen Square. We are left with depressing media coverage, the tears of democracy advocates, and the sobering realization that Hong Kong’s yearning for representative government is at a dead end.
But who can really blame Beijing? The Communist Party is simply looking out for itself, and was never going to allow open democracy on its own soil. It also has a point when it says the universal suffrage proposal for 2017 goes much farther than anything the city had under British colonial rule. But that’s cold comfort to a city that always believed it was ready to responsibly govern itself.
The most depressing fact, from this humble writer’s point of view, is the dead silence from the west. For the last century, western countries spoke out against injustice and promoted democracy abroad, often standing up to brutal dictatorships at great personal cost. Today, when one vibrant and mature society in a relatively undeveloped region sees its freedoms threatened, the west not only turns its back, it gets into bed with the aggressors.
The United States and United Kingdom, and companies from those two places, long ago sold their souls to Beijing. The UK has been silent on what’s happening in Hong Kong, despite the fact it’s a party to the Sino-British Joint Declaration and has some grounds to speak up. The United States has uttered not a word. British companies, notably HSBC and Standard Chartered, have pulled advertisements from Next Media’s Apple Daily under pressure from the Chinese government, proving they, too, know who their real masters are.
Even LinkedIn, a forward thinking, Silicon Valley social network, censors posts globally if China feels uncomfortable. The company’s PR head explained:
“It is difficult,” says LinkedIn’s Director of Communications Hani Durzy. “We are strongly in support of freedom of expression. But it was clear to us that to create value for our members in China and around the world, we would need to implement the Chinese government’s restrictions on content.”
No, LinkedIn doesn’t support freedom of expression. If it did it wouldn’t censor content. It’s really that black-and-white. America and the UK don’t support it much either, or they would speak up too.
We are entering a new, dark era where even the west, with its professed love of freedom of speech, cannot be counted on to defend those values. In what would once be unthinkable, today western companies have no problems justifying outright censorship and adherence to brutal, authoritarian governments while western leaders keep silent.
Hong Kong, as a result, has been abandoned. If rich, western, first-world countries are loathe to offend Beijing lest business opportunities dry up, what hope does Hong Kong have to resist?
Home page photo credit: Quartz
It has been the summer of unrest in Hong Kong. Tens of thousands of people marched through the streets on July 1 to demand full universal suffrage for the 2017 chief executive election or else they threatened to paralyze Central, the city’s central business district; weeks later, a counter-rally took place that opposes the protest and promoted harmony in Hong Kong.
After this back-and-forth all summer the other shoe has finally dropped. At a news conference today in Beijing broadcast live in Hong Kong, Li Fei, a member of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, announced that Hong Kong people would be allowed to vote for their next chief executive in 2017, but only from a list of candidates pre-vetted by Beijing. The decision was widely expected, and now the leaders of Occupy Central intend on pushing forward with civil disobedience plans.
Several thousand people are gathered along Hong Kong’s waterfront tonight. Below are some photos and tweets from the event.
Hong Kong’s signature night view, plus thousands of inhabitants clinging on to their liberties under China rule. pic.twitter.com/rksiHFWlpE
— Alan Wong (@byAlanWong) August 31, 2014
— Danny Lee 李嘉洪 (@JournoDannyAsia) August 31, 2014
— Jeffie Lam (@jeffielam) August 31, 2014
— Snufkin (@Anon_Snufkin) August 31, 2014
— Danny Lee 李嘉洪 (@JournoDannyAsia) August 31, 2014
— Tom Grundy (@tomgrundy) August 31, 2014
Thousands gathered under lovely quarter moon and stunning HK skyline to protest Beijing decision on elections. pic.twitter.com/8nOpqVQc08
— Mike Forsythe 傅才德 (@PekingMike) August 31, 2014
A sea of lights pic.twitter.com/74fADa06Ae
— Joyce Hau (@jhau727) August 31, 2014
— Danny Lee 李嘉洪 (@JournoDannyAsia) August 31, 2014
— westmoon (@westmoon) August 31, 2014
World War II may have ended almost 70 years ago, but it appears the cleanup continues.
Construction crews in Hong Kong were surprised this afternoon (August 26) when they stumbled across a bomb in the city’s North Point neighborhood. After bomb crews were called in, it was determined that the explosive was actually left behind from battles during World War II.
Streets in the area were closed off and a nearby bus terminus was shut down while police conducted a controlled explosion. The bomb was apparently half-a-meter long.
This is the second time this year that a bomb from the war was found on a Hong Kong construction site. In February, a bomb believed to have been dropped by the United States on Japanese-occupied Hong Kong was found on a site in Happy Valley.
There was intense fighting in Hong Kong during the war, known in Mainland China as the “War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression”. Japanese troops invaded the then British colony on the same day the infamous raid was conducted on Pearl Harbor.
Sixty million people died in World War II, roughly 2% of the world’s population at the time.
The crackdown in China’s undisputed capital of sex continues, despite recent reports that everything is returning back to normal.
That may come as good news to the 200,000 people who lost jobs as a result of the crackdown, which sent people fleeing from the city earlier this year. But while establishments are re-opening, they aren’t quite the same as they used to be.
Reports say that valid photo identification may be required for those late night massage visits, which we believe probably make up a majority of them, if a new proposal is approved. The proposal not only applies to Dongguan, but all of Guangdong Province.
From now on, any visits to a bath house after 2am would be subject to the new requirement. This will, more than likely, have a negative impact on these businesses. On the plus side? It’s sure to inject some stimulus into fake ID shops.
This new requirement has come to light alongside other stiff new regulations we told you about earlier, such as no lights off, no locks on the doors, and no prostitution (of course).
Yunnan’s aptly-named “Lucky Air” has decided to go all-in by dressing up flight attendants in the national colors of Team Brazil, which makes sense since China didn’t qualify for the tournament (at least not this year).
Cathay Pacific flight attendants in Hong Kong complained earlier this year that their uniforms are too sexy and draw unwanted attention from male passengers. One wonders how Lucky’s flight attendants feel.
Cam MacMurchy is the Editor in Chief of The Nanfang. This column is his personal opinion and does not reflect the views of his employer or this website.
Ever since the handover in 1997, Hong Kong people have kept alive a vibrant civil society. Every few years an issue crops up – Article 23, the high-speed rail to Mainland China, national education – that results in Hong Kong people pushing back against the perceived interference by the central authorities in Beijing.
Hong Kong has, generally, done what British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher urged them to do: continue to fight to preserve the city’s way of life under the “one country, two systems” mechanism. And truth be told, the system has worked out alright: Hong Kong remains a largely free and open society, judicial independence has been preserved, the media is as vibrant as ever (though there are some unsettling signs this may change), and the city is richer and more prosperous today than it was in 1997.
Still, this isn’t enough. Hong Kong people have yearned for full democracy for decades, and universal suffrage was promised in the Basic Law. The last few chief executives, the de facto governors of the territory, have been elected by a small group of business elites that are primarily aligned with Beijing. Still, the candidates campaigned openly as though everyone had a vote, even holding live debates on television. The city’s Legislative Council, or LegCo, operates in a similar fashion, with direct elections for about half of the assembly and closed elections for the other half, which represent many of the city’s industries.
There is no question that if there was a test for a region’s readiness for democracy, Hong Kong would pass with flying colours. It has an educated and informed citizenry, free press, and strong and independent institutions. This, along with Beijing’s general adherence to the Sino-British Joint Declaration, has led many to believe that true democracy could one day be achieved — and it might be, but not at the hands of Occupy Central protesters, who are threatening to risk the city’s prosperity in their quest for true universal suffrage.
As a Hong Kong resident, I was appalled like everyone else at the white paper issued by Beijing last week that clearly outlined the central government’s authority over the territory. While parts of it can be debated, Beijing was simply stating what many in China already know: Hong Kong belongs to China, and falls under the authority of the central government. For years, Hong Kong has been able to continue with its British-inspired way of life while focusing more on “two systems” rather than “one country”. In many ways, the city has still not come to terms with the handover of sovereignty back to China, which is what made the white paper seem like such an aggressive document. To the central government, it merely stated what everyone should already know; to Hong Kong, it was like being violently awakened from a dream.
With the chief executive election set for 2017, some in Hong Kong are calling for a public process to nominate candidates. Beijing opposes a public nomination option, and wants a screening mechanism to ensure an overtly anti-China candidate could not end up with the keys to the territory. At the risk of sounding too simple, it’s clear Beijing should have more confidence in Hong Kong (people here would be, in my humble estimation, unlikely to elect somebody antagonistic to Beijing) and the public nomination option is completely suitable, doable, and preferable for the city and it’s future. But being “right” doesn’t mean it’s attainable right now, and Hong Kong is left trying to find a middle ground between a public nomination option and Beijing’s strict screening process.
The Occupy Central protesters, however, are not looking for a middle ground. They are demanding a public nomination right, and unless they achieve it, they plan to block key arteries in the Central business district, hurt the city’s businesses, and put pressure on the Hong Kong SAR and central governments to acquiesce. Emboldened by previous government climbdowns, the protesters believe if they apply enough pressure they can win.
The problem with this approach is it leaves no room for compromise. Quite simply, Beijing will not open up Hong Kong’s nomination process at this stage; the CCP’s absolute priority is maintaining power and sovereignty over Chinese territory, something a public nomination right would threaten. This is the deepest root in the party’s tree, and won’t be dislodged. Which means the odds are overwhelmingly against the protesters before they even begin.
So what can the protesters accomplish? They are left with two options: stage a long-term sit-in that does nothing more than cause a nuisance before it eventually fades away, or move into the realm of civil disobedience, which will most certainly be met with the full force of the law. Worse, if Occupy opts for option two, it could result in Beijing losing patience with Hong Kong and restricting some of the freedoms the territory currently enjoys. The end result could be a society with fewer freedoms, and fewer avenues for improvement, than we have today.
Former Xinhua director in Hong Kong Zhou Nan said the PLA may intervene if the city descends into chaos. That would no doubt further inflame Hong Kong citizens who continue to feel queasy at any overt displays of Beijing’s sovereignty over the territory.
Instead of a confrontational approach, the pan-democrats need to maintain open lines of communication with Beijing while continuing to push for change both inside and outside official channels. Protests and sit-ins are useful tools, too, when deployed strategically. The bottom line, however, is Hong Kong belongs to the People’s Republic of China and Beijing has ultimate authority over the territory, as uncomfortable as that may be. We must accept this, then work within the constraints to fight as hard as we can. We need to think strategically and long-term about how to achieve our goals while ensuring our current, unique way of life is preserved. Both of these things are attainable, but neither will be achieved by holding a gun to Beijing’s head.
Only days after we broke the story of a brutal beating of a dog in Beijing in broad daylight, another horrific dog killing story has surfaced in Hangzhou. This time, nobody’s pet was beaten in front of the owner, but it’s just as sickening.
An urban management officer (otherwise known as chengguan) collected a mother and seven pups from a market in Hangzhou after the owner complained the mother had become more vicious after giving birth. The officer took the dogs to the animal shelter to have them put down. In order to deal with the newborn pups, a middle-aged staffer at the shelter lifted the pups into the air one-by-one and threw them down with tremendous force to kill them, all in full view of the mother. Some were so young they were unable to open their eyes.
The Chinese internet obviously became outraged after the photos surfaced. SCMP has translated a few comments:
“If the mother dog should be killed for hurting a man, what should we do to the man that has killed seven puppies?” wrote one microblogger.
“It’s not a stray dog shelter, but a slaughter house!” another wrote.
An animal welfare association based in Hangzhou said many stray dogs were treated cruelly when they were sent to be “controlled” by the relevant government departments.
It said: “The city administration and law enforcement bureau should make public how you “control” the stray dogs … by ‘control’ do you mean all stray dogs should be killed?”
This is just the latest case of extreme animal abuse in China, and one wonders what needs to happen before dogs are dealt with humanely.
Trevor Metz, who previously owned “One-eyed Jack” before he was beaten to death in Beijing, said confiscating unregistered pets is not the problem; rather, the issue lies in dealing with the pets in a humane way after they are confiscated.
One hopes the authorities in China take his advice.
Home page photo credit: SCMP
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