The Nanfang / Blog

Mainland Tourists, Avoiding Hong Kong, Head to Macau Instead

Posted: 10/7/2014 9:16 am

Tourists walk past a luxury store in Hong Kong

The number of mainland tourists to Macau swelled to 1.2 million in the first four days of the week-long national holiday, surpassing the figures recorded last year as people stay away from Hong Kong as streets remain blocked with protesters.

On October 3, more than 300,000 visitors entered Macau, more than double last year’s 115,800 tourists on the second day of the week-long holiday, according to figures released by Zhuhai Exit and Entry Frontier Inspection Station and Macau Government Tourism Bureau.

Meanwhile there were 157,212 Mainlanders heading to Hong Kong on October 1, a 2 percent decline compared with a year ago, Wall Street Journal reported. China has temporarily suspended visas for tour groups heading to the city because of the unrest.

Anti-occupy protesters beat a protester in Mongkok.

According to figures released by the Hong Kong Immigration Department, 165,685 visitors from mainland China arrived in the city on the second day of the national holiday, a 70 percent decline from last year. It’s a “very low percentage during the Golden Week,” wrote Shenzhen Evening News on October 4.

Pro-Beijing Chinese newspaper Ta Kung Pao said the protests have brought instability and financial losses to the city. ANT bank estimated the protests cost the city HK$2.2 billion of losses in retail, the newspaper reported.

Photos: Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty ImagesTyrone Siu/Reuters



Thousands Gather in Central After Beijing Denies Democracy for Hong Kong

Posted: 08/31/2014 8:37 pm

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.









Labor Strife in Macau as City Faces Growing Political Unrest

Posted: 08/27/2014 11:05 am

macau casino protestThe latest of a series of protests by casino workers in Macau not only appears to display a greater willingness to demand better working conditions, but also a growing political awareness as the former colony looks for answers on how to improve governance.

On Monday, more than 1,000 casino workers marched through Macau streets stopping at some of the territory’s biggest casinos such as Sands China, Galaxy Entertainment Group and SJM Holdings. They are demanding a 10 percent pay increase for all workers below the manager’s level, a restriction on hiring foreign workers, and an extension of the smoking ban to cover the entire casino.

The demonstration is said to be the largest of the seven protests held by casino workers this year. The largest on record took place last October with some 3,000 angry workers.

The protests are happening against a backdrop of some political unrest in the city. Over the weekend, an unofficial referendum was scheduled to be held on democracy, one similar to the referendum held by Hong Kong earlier this year. However, local police partially shut down the polls, even though participants could still vote online.

The unofficial referendum poses two questions: whether there should be universal suffrage for the 2019 election for chief executive, and if voters have confidence in Fernando Chui, the current chief executive and only candidate on the ballot for this Sunday’s vote.

For their part, the casino workers union says it is strongly behind the unofficial referendum, which has so far received 6,000 votes. In comparison, Hong Kong, which has a much larger population, received 800,000 in its referendum earlier this summer.

Photo: BBC


Pro-Beijing Newspaper Finds Nothing Wrong in HK Before Massive July 1 Protest

Posted: 07/1/2014 8:00 am

Hong kong residents march in last year’s July 1 protest. Photo: AP

On the day before the 17th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China by the UK, Hong Kong-based pro-Beijing newspaper Wen Wei Po published a story that quotes Guangdong residents who support a strong Hong Kong-mainland relationship despite conflicts in recent months over issues ranging from ill-behaved mainland tourists to the city’s chief executive election in 2017.

“Hong Kong residents’ passion to celebrate the handover of Hong Kong from the UK to China has never stopped. Many Hong Kong residents and their mainland counterparts can’t hold back their feelings of excitement for this historical moment,” the newspaper said, dismissive that public opinions in this capitalist enclave are running sour towards Beijing.

However, other sources tell a different story. The SCMP reports that Hong Kongers’ mistrust toward mainland China is at a record high according to a survey by the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at Chinese University. Furthermore, a telephone survey by the University of Hong Kong’s public opinion program found that the number of local residents dissatisfied with Beijing’s policies towards to the city is also at an all-time high.

Protesters burn a symbolic “white paper”. Photo: Nora Tam for SCMP

Despite the city’s seething discontent with the mainland, the interviewees who talked to Wen Wei Po all happened to be unanimous in their happiness with the current HK-mainland relationship.

As reported by Wen Wei Po, a tourist from Guangzhou said that Hong Kong and mainland China have gradually blended together. After 17 years, “it feels like the two sides have grown to know each other very well,” said the tourist.

A 15 year-old in Shenzhen said that he was disappointed that he couldn’t travel to Hong Kong to see the flag raising ceremony this year due to upcoming exams, but he promised he would come back in time for next year’s celebrations.

However, if this student was able to make it, he would probably be baffled by an unexpected sight. Five-hundred thousand people are expected to march from Victoria Park to Central today at 3pm; if the number is correct, it would be the most people to joint he march since 2003.

The July 1 March has become a traditional event held each year for Hong Kongers to protest Beijing’s control over the city and other grievances.

This year’s march could draw an even higher turnout as tensions have risen after Beijing asserted its ”comprehensive jurisdiction” over Hong Kong in a published “white paper”. Earlier last week, more than 800,000 local residents voted in an unofficial poll on electoral reform in defiance of Beijing’s stance.

Photos: SCMP, AP


Nanfang Week in Review: June 15-June 21

Posted: 06/22/2014 5:00 pm

yulin dog eating festival controversy animal activistsLast week looked just like this here at the Nanfang:


Monday:g-string condom

Tuesday:massage unconscious paralysis shenzhen


Thursday:jiangmen student stabbing teacher

Friday:yulin dog eating festival controversy animal activists

Saturday:marilyn monroe statue giant guigang guangxi

Be sure to check out our Twitter feed @thenanfang as well as our Facebook page!

Photos: the Nanfang


Hong Kong Independence Activist Assaulted Outside Courthouse

Posted: 06/20/2014 1:14 pm

hong kong courthouse assault people first democracy independenceA member of the group “Hong Kong People First” was assaulted as he stood before a courthouse to stand trial for having trespassed upon a People’s Liberation Army military base, reports Sina News.

Zhao Xiancong and other members of Hong Kong People First gathered outside the Eastern Law District Office on June 19 and were shouting slogans like “Independent Hong Kong” and “Long Live Hong Kong”.

Then in full view of reporters at the scene, a middle-aged man suddenly charged at Zhao and struck him twice across the face, shouting in Cantonese, “Are you Chinese? What kind of country are you trying to establish?”

Zhao later stated he does not know the person who assaulted him.

Zhao and three other people, all members of Hong Kong People First, are charged for trespassing upon the Chinese mainland military base stationed in Hong Kong. Last year, on December 26, Zhao and the others burst onto the base waving the flag used by Hong Kong under the British colonial government.

Zhao was sentenced to two weeks in jail and given a suspended prison sentence of 12 month for his role, described as a “ringleader”. Two other people, Zhang Hanxian and Xie Yongwen, were fined HK$2000.

A fourth person was a minor at the time of the incident, and has had their case transferred to juvenile court. They will be tried on June 25.

Hong Kong People First is a group that opposes issues that concern mainland China such as the grey market of smuggling goods across the border.

Hong Kong is becoming more volatile ahead of a vote today on three proposals for full universal suffrage in Hong Kong. Beijing opposes all three options, and has warned a planned protest in Central this summer could destabilize the city.

hong kong courthouse assault people first democracy independencehong kong courthouse assault people first democracy independencehong kong courthouse assault people first democracy independencehong kong courthouse assault people first democracy independencehong kong courthouse assault people first democracy independencehong kong courthouse assault people first democracy independence


Photos: Sina, Southern Metropolis Report 


Comment: Hong Kong Risks Losing Freedoms If It Pushes Too Hard

Posted: 06/17/2014 3:16 pm

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.

Photo: Chinanews


Shenzhen Property Management Election Thwarted by Thugs

Posted: 04/21/2014 2:12 pm

guangzhou futian district ballot box election thugs property management

Democracy is simply over-rated; if we, the people, were meant to elect leaders by counting votes, we would have been born with more fingers. While we can compensate by taking off our shoes and socks, the fundamental problem of democracy is that it causes more hassles than it is actually worth.

Consider the recent case of Hongshu Luzhou Neighborhood in Futian District, Shenzhen. At around 10:35am on April 14, a gang of 20-30 pipe-carrying thugs burst into a election to determine the new property management for the neighborhood, Nandu Web reported. Within three minutes of entering the compound, the thugs had stolen three ballot boxes while being recorded in broad daylight.

The neighborhood was voting to determine a new property management after the term for the current management expired in August 2013. Four new property managements were invited to be on the ballot, but not the existing one. For its part, current property management Gonglian Property Management Company has disavowed any involvement with the theft of the ballot boxes.

Property management is an integral part to the running of operations to neighborhoods and buildings. Components like security guards are hired by the property management, a circumstance that allows illegal behavior by security guards to be dismissed later by the neighborhood or institution—a situation much like the Shenzhen hospital that absolved itself of any responsibility after its security guards were recorded abusing a cat and then caught on camera beating reporters.

Tampering with ballot boxes happened before in July 2012 when thugs crashed another Guangdong neighborhood election. The video shows thugs threatening and beating voters before making off with a ballot box. Meanwhile, reform for selecting property management in Shenzhen has proposed neighborhood elections by which voters can submit ballots by text message.

With its ballots now lost, the outcome of the Hongshu Luzhou neighborhood election is thrown into chaos. If there weren’t any elections whatsoever, problems like these would be remedied before they begin. If only we could live in an ideal world in which the responsibilities of the many are shouldered by an elite group that know better—then, at last, Hongshu Luzhou residents can enjoy the harmonious property management they deserve.

Photo: Nandu


Maoming Halts Planned Crematorium in Face of Resident Protest

Posted: 04/14/2014 7:28 pm

ligang crematorium protest maoming guangdong demonstration riot police

Ligang county residents took to the streets en mass to protest a crematorium planned to be built in their locality on April 12, Sina reports.

Located near the city of Huazhou in the jurisdiction of Maoming, Hainan News reported 10,000 protestors were present at the scene. The deputy mayor had come out to address the crowd during the confrontation, but would flee into a nearby bank for protection when the crowd besieged him according to certain eyewitness accounts.

However, government officials would tell a different story. They state that only a total of 500 protestors were at the scene with the rest serving as only “spectators”. As well, the deputy mayor was not chased into the bank where he hid for protection; rather, since negotiation is a thirsty business, the deputy mayor had gone into the bank for the expressed purpose of finding a refreshing beverage.

Both accounts would agree that later that afternoon, the deputy mayor announced that after deliberations by the town council, an agreement was passed to unequivocally halt construction of the crematorium.

Ligang officials now state that “local traffic is unimpeded, the mood of the masses are stable, and the situation is back to normal,” all underlying the fact that this none of these things were happening last week Saturday.

No conflicts were reported to have happened, and no one has been detained by police.

Maoming has been the site of recent unrest when residents protested against a proposed PX chemical plant. Employing the use of Weibo to publish pictures with violent images of unverified authenticity, the protest spread to Guangzhou before officials finally capitulated to the protestors demands.

Photos: Hainan News


Wukan losing faith in democracy experiment

Posted: 01/21/2014 10:00 am

The South China Morning Post has reported that the limited democracy in Guangdong’s Wukan Village continues to fray, as local disillusionment grows and the political climate chills under new provincial Party secretary, Hu Chunhua.

After a little more than a year in the limelight, Zhuang Liehong has given up politics. Zhuang emerged as a leader of grass-roots protests over stolen land in Wukan in Guangdong in 2011 and was elected to its village committee in a historic democratic election the following year.

But he quit the committee in October and does not intend to stand in the new poll slated for some time after winter. Like many others in this community, Zhuang has lost faith in democracy – at least the local version – amid a clash of competing interests and claims of a lack in transparency in the committee’s proceedings.

[…] Commentator Xu Zhiyuan said authorities were trying to regain control of the village. “Wukan was a miracle,” Xu said. “It happened while China was in the throes of power struggles. But now the power of the central government has stabilised.”

[…] Lin [Zuluan, the village chief] said villagers fell broadly into four groups, depending on their views: some understood and appreciated the hard work of the new village committee; some had benefitted from the illegal land grab and so supported the old village committee. Others who supported Wukan’s democracy had lost faith, while a final group wanted it to fail for personal reasons. Lin said this left the village divided with little chance of reaching a compromise.

Via China Digital Times.

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