A microblog post calling government officials to either declare their assets or retire from their positions has gone viral overnight on Wednesday.
“If officials think their personal assets are private, their only choice is to step down,” said the post by Hainan Normal University scholar Liu Li that has been shared some 116,000 times. The post is one of many that have been part of a citizen movement in China calling for disclosures.
“Would Chinese officials dare?” wondered one person who commented on Liu’s post.
“This is the only way out for the Chinese Dream,” wrote another.
“We don’t need to learn from the West, we just need to look at Macau,” one person wrote, referring Liu’s mention of an interview with the head of Macau’s Personal Data Protection Office. The Chan Hoi Fan interview appeared in the liberal Southern Metropolis Daily in January, when Macau passed a law requiring officials to declare their assets.
Macau’s Assets Declaration Law went into force in April after a two-year debate. Under the law, also dubbed the Sunshine Act, officials are required to declare all of their local and overseas assets.
Some lawmakers had opposed the plan arguing that even their spouses did not know about all their properties.
China’s southern economic powerhouse province, Guangdong, had sent study groups to Macau to find ways to replicate the law, yet no progress has been made on public declarations of assets on the mainland.
Reports by foreign media outlets Bloomberg News and The New York Times on the private assets of former premier Wen Jiabao, President Xi Jinping and early military leaders have been censored.
Meanwhile, the citizen movement calling for officials to declare their assets has become a target for prosecution.
Activists have shared photos of themselves holding banners with slogans demanding rules similar to what have been implemented in Macau. More than a dozen activists have been arrested since late March, Human Rights Watch estimates.
In December, a public letter calling on members of the Communist Party’s Central Committee to disclose their assets was signed by more than 7,000 people.
By Wednesday, another post on asset declaration was going viral, becoming the most widely shared post by 11am. It congratulated Liu Zhijun, former railways minister who stood trial on Sunday on corruption charges, for being “the first high-ranking official to publicly declare his assets”.
Liu’s fortune of more than 800 million yuan (HK$1 billion) and fleet of 16 cars had been exposed prior to his trial. He is currently awaiting sentencing.
Source: SCMP “Public call on Chinese officials to declare assets goes viral on Weibo”
A court sentenced the brother-in-law of China’s imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo to 11 years in prison Sunday — an unusually harsh punishment for a business dispute that the activist’s wife immediately decried as a vendetta against the whole family.
The court in suburban Beijing found Liu Hui guilty of fraud in a real estate dispute and issued the sentence after a brief hearing that came just hours after new Chinese leader Xi Jinping met with President Barack Obama at an informal summit in California.
Liu Xia, the defendant’s sister and the Nobel laureate’s wife who is herself under house arrest but who was allowed to attend the trial, said she has seen no improvement in China’s human rights situation under Xi despite hopes for political reform under his leadership.
“Judging from what has happened to my family and the type of life I have lived in the past two years, I cannot say I have seen any improvements, I cannot see any hope,” she said.
Liu Xia said authorities in China were being unscrupulous in persecuting her family, and wept as she briefly stood and spoke to reporters outside a car that was bringing her home from the hearing.
“How can they give an 11-year sentence? That does not stand. I do not know, perhaps this country has gone mad, or do they hate us so much?” she said. “My brother, my brother.”
Family members and their supporters have said the prosecution of Liu Hui is meant as further punishment of the Nobel laureate’s family and is intended to intimidate other political activists.
Liu Xiaobo was arrested in 2008 and soon after he was awarded the Nobel in 2010 for his campaigning for peaceful democratic change, his wife, Liu Xia, who is a poet and activist, was placed under house arrest. In the two-and-a-half years since, she has rarely been allowed out in public, kept in an apartment without phone or Internet connections to prevent her from becoming a rallying point for other activists.
The 11-year sentence for a business dispute is harsh even by Chinese standards and matches the 11 years Liu Xiaobo is currently serving for authoring a programmatic call for democracy. Fraud is usually punishable by up to 10 years in jail, though judges — who answer to the ruling Communist Party — have discretion to issue longer terms for egregious cases.
The arrest of her brother, Liu Hui, in February was seen as retaliation against Liu Xia after she twice spoke out — once to reporters for The Associated Press and once to other activists who managed to sneak past security and visit her apartment.
An EU diplomat who attended the proceedings, Raphael Droszewski, said the EU was “concerned that Liu Hui’s persecution and conviction might have been linked with the situation of his sister Liu Xia, Liu Xiaobo’s wife.”
“The EU reiterates its call to the Chinese authorities to release Liu Xiaobo,” he said, echoing calls from many foreign governments, including the United States, for the release of the Nobel peace laureate.
Lawyers for the brother said he and another business partner were accused of pocketing 3 million yuan ($500,000) that was claimed by another party to the transaction. According to the lawyers, the money has since been returned, and police after first investigating the case last fall dropped it and then revived the charges early this year.
Chinese courts do not usually publicize their argument, and Liu’s case, in particular, has not been covered by state media, which usually do not report news about political dissidents
After Sunday’s sentencing hearing, Liu Xia, said her brother has lost a lot of weight while in detention.
Source: Associated Press “Court: 11 years for jailed Nobel winner’s relative”
A call for unity in Hong Kong comes as many online are remembering the day in veiled references and by posting photos and memes
As more than 100,000 protesters are expected to attend the annual vigil in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park on Tuesday night, mainland Chinese censors have taken several measures to prevent public remembrance of June 4, 1989, online and offline.
Candle icons posted by thousands of people on Chinese microblogs have been censored by Sina Weibo. The images appeared on Monday as a way for people to voice their grief for the scores of workers killed in a blaze at a chicken slaughterhouse in Jilin province.
On Tuesday, Sina Weibo took action to prevent similar expressions of grief for those killed in the armed crackdown against protesters in Beijing 24 years ago.
Dozens of related search terms have been also blocked from microblogs, including the words “today” and “tomorrow”.
Despite the bans, many are remembering the day in veiled references and by posting photos and memes. The number 64, referring to June 4, even made it to Sina Weibo’s most popular search terms, even though no results appeared.
In Hong Kong, organisers of the vigil said it would “show [President Xi Jinping] that Hongkongers are upset with him as new leader”.
Source: SCMP “Chinese evade censors, as HK journalists stopped at Tiananmen”
Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) says in one report, “On this the 24th anniversary of Tiananmen incident, a flag-hoisting ceremony was held at Tiananmen Square as usual.”
“Since yesterday evening, security has been upgraded at many scenic spots in Beijing. The air is heavy at Muxidi, where troops entered the city that year. It is heavily guarded. Lots of police and plainclothes officers are patrolling the streets. Fire distinguishers are placed by the side of roads, which are filled with police patrol cars and cars of police task force. The cars occupied all the parking spaces.”
In its report on an HK reporter being detained, RTHK says, “People who enter Tiananmen Square have to pass security checks.”
“When a Hong Kong reporter stationed in Beijing got off his car, immediately a large number of policemen rushed towards him to intercept him and check his papers. Meanwhile, they opened his car and took away his key. At the same time policemen came to reinforce from every direction. Some of them yelled, “Catch the reporter”.
Note: It was only one reporter! Why was the panic?
“The policemen searched the equipment on the car and took the reporter’s home visit permit for verification. One policeman of Tiananmen Police Station said that it was merely a routine check not directed at any of the reporter’s activities.
“A staff of the Exit and Entry Control Office came to check the reporter’s identity once more, saying that they administer reporters jointly with the China Journalists Association.
“The reporter was detained for investigation for one hour. When he left, the police told him that it had been made clear to everyone and everyone must know what to do.”
Sources: RTHK “Security tight though national flag hoisted as usual” and “Hong Kong reporter detained and checked for one hour at Tiananmen” (excerpts translated by Chan Kai Yee)
Shenzhen University bans students from ‘black shirt’ campaign on June 4 eve dated today
Reblog of Ernest Kao’s blog at SCMP on June 4, 2013
University on edge, forbidding students from wearing Tiananmen ‘mourning clothes’ ahead of June 4 anniversary
As Hong Kong prepares to commemorate the Tiananmen Square crackdown, authorities in neighbouring Guangdong province are beginning to get shifty about domestic dissenters.
“Black shirt” campaigns to mourn victims of the June 4, 1989, event are being pre-emptively suppressed on university campuses, China Digital Times (CDT) reported on Monday. The campaign, which began in Hong Kong last year, involves people dressing in black attire to mourn victims who were killed in Beijing in the government crackdown on student-led pro-democracy protests 24 years ago.
Twitter user @64_black_shirt posted a Shenzhen University memo sent out to campus faculty and staff on Friday. It warned them “not to go to Hong Kong” and to be alert for any “situations” that would need to be “handled”.
“The international reactionary organisation has recently launched a ‘mourning clothes’ movement. The university must carry out stability maintenance work especially well, unconditionally obeying school plans,” the CDT quoted the memo as saying.
“There must be no reactionary speech, [online] forum discussions or demonstrations.”
The note said the school would clamp down on any sign of protest on and off campus, including in departments, dormitories and cafeterias.
Guangdong is seen by many as relatively freer than the rest of the mainland, because of its more liberal media, proximity to Hong Kong and history of being one of the country’s first special economic zones spearheaded by Deng Xiaoping.
Last year, the June 4 candlelight vigil at Hong Kong’s Victoria Park saw its highest turnout ever. Organisers, who placed the headcount at 180,000, are expecting a record turnout at this year’s event.
Source: SCMP “Shenzhen University bans students from ‘black shirt’ campaign on June 4 eve”
A group of families demanding justice for the victims of China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown has denounced new President Xi Jinping for failing to launch political reforms, saying he was taking China “backwards towards Maoist orthodoxy”.
The Tiananmen Mothers activist group has long urged the leadership to open a dialogue and provide a reassessment of the 1989 pro-democracy movement, bloodily suppressed on June 4 that year by the government which labeled it “counter-revolutionary”.
In an open letter released on Friday through New York-based Human Rights in China, the group said Xi “has mixed together the things that were most unpopular and most in need of repudiation” during the time of former paramount leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, the latter who oversaw the suppression of the protests.
“This has caused those individuals who originally harbored hopes in him in carrying out political reform to fall into sudden disappointment and despair,” the group said.
Xi became Communist Party chief in November and president in March at a time of growing public pressure to launch long-stalled political reforms.
Some intellectuals had predicted that Xi would follow in the footsteps of his father, Xi Zhongxun, a reformist former vice premier and parliament vice chairman. Xi has tried to project a softer and more open image than his predecessor, Hu Jintao.
But Xi’s government has clamped down on free expression on the Internet and detained anti-corruption activists, giving no sign the party will ever brook dissent to its rule.
The Tiananmen Mothers said they had not seen Xi “reflect upon or show remorse in the slightest for the sins committed during the three decades of Maoist communism”.
“What we see, precisely, are giant steps backwards towards Maoist orthodoxy,” the group said.
The leader of the Tiananmen Mothers group, Ding Zilin, called on Xi to “be courageous enough to take up the responsibility of history and pay the debts left by his predecessors”.
“Everyone knows that a just resolution to the June 4 issue, a re-evaluation of June 4, will not happen by itself. It needs to be tied to progress in China’s political reform and democratization,” Ding, 77, told Reuters this week.
Asked about the letter, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China had long ago “reached a clear conclusion” about June 4. The successes of the past two decades “shows that the path we have chosen serves the interest of the Chinese people”, he added.
The government has already moved to limit the activities of dissidents ahead of the anniversary.
Wu Lihong, an environmental activist from central China and one of the letter’s signatories, said he had been banned from travelling to the United States to receive an award.
“They don’t want me bad-mouthing China to the Americans at this sensitive time of year,” he said by telephone.
After initially tolerating the student-led demonstrations in the spring of 1989, the Communist Party sent troops to crush the protests on the night of June 3-4, killing hundreds.
The topic remains taboo in China and the leadership has rejected all calls to overturn its verdict.
A handful of people remain in prison, 24 years on, according to the Dui Hua Foundation, a U.S. group that works for the release of Chinese political prisoners.
While China grapples with thousands of protests a year, over everything from pollution to corruption and illegal land grabs, none of these demonstrations has even come close to becoming a national movement that could threaten the party’s rule.
Source: Reuters “China’s Tiananmen Mothers criticize Xi for lack of reforms”
‘He’s not cool,’ Chinese magazine editorial slams Xi Jinping for lacking ‘wisdom and courage’ dated June 1, 2013
A Beijing-based business magazine raised eyebrows this week by running a full-page editorial urging the country’s leaders to pursue further political reforms to ensure future economic prosperity.
In what many consider a rare and bold move, an editorial entitled “Let’s continue to care about politics,” criticised President Xi Jinping for lacking “wisdom and courage” in pushing forward necessary reforms.
Without directly naming Xi, Zhao Li, the weekly’s editor-in-chief wrote,
“It was only until last week when the debate broke out that our new leader’s verbal environment was confirmed – he is not fashionable, and he is far from cool.”
It continued to argue that risk-averse Chinese investors won’t be happy with a society where the distribution of wealth is “stagnant and deformed,” and people’s spending is therefore restricted.
“I know many investors who reminisce about Deng,” he wrote, referring to Deng Xiaoping, China’s reformist leader who after Mao Zedong died in 1976 led the country towards a more market economy “Because the history of 1980s tells us the more the government gives up, the more our society will grow.”
Three generations of leaders since Deng, Zhao argued, only inherited Deng’s political reforms – without inheriting the “wisdom and courage” to solve them.
The author also compared China’s popular social media site Weibo with Peking University’s legendary “Democracy Wall” in the late 1970s. Many consider the wall a symol of China’s freedom of speech during the 1980s, a period of relative freedom in the country’s modern history.
When reached by phone on Friday afternoon, Zhao told SCMP.com that he was surprised by the reaction to his article. He denied that the timing of the editorial had been deliberate. Zhao said he had not yet heard from mainland authorities.
Zhao’s editorial was reposted thousands of times on Weibo, where readers commended him for speaking the truth. Most news web sites who carried the editorial had removed it from their pages by Friday afternoon.
“They would not take any step forward without a kick in the backside,” wrote a micro-blogger.
Others worried about the fate of the outspoken weekly and feared it would be shut down by authorities.
The Investor Journal, which describes itself as a Chinese middle-class investment guide modelled after Barron’s of the US, says on its website that it has about 100,000 readers in top tier Chinese cities.
Some people drew parallels between the weekly with the World Economic Herald, a reformist and outspoken Shanghai-based weekly which operated from 1980 to 1989. It was shut down by then Shanghai party secretary Jiang Zemin amid the political turmoil of the Tiananmen Square protests.
In the past weeks, “constitutionalism” has become a hot topic on China’s social media as liberals debated with conservatives over the urgency to introduce futher political reforms including the rule of law.
Several state-run publications have later issued scathing rebukes for such calls, saying they would lead to chaos and were aimed at copying western models.
In an editorial published by the People’s Daily on Friday, western theories were criticised for “not serving the core interests of the Chinese nation.”
Reblog of Patrick Boehler’s blog at SCMP
When the side rearview mirror of a black Honda bumped a 10-year-old girl on her way home from school, the driver – instead of helping the child – insulted and hit the mother. “I come from an influential family,” the driver said.
The incident on Friday evening in Henan province soon attracted an angry crowd of people who smashed and overturned the 26-year-old woman’s car. A man surnamed Zhang tried to set it on fire, according to a police report.
It took police until midnight to pacify the crowd as photos and video footage of the scene circulated online. Many of the comments represented outrage against the sense of entitlement of the privileged few.
As the gap between rich and poor is increasing, examples of nepotism and favouritism are striking a nerve. Such distaste from the public has been characterised by the phrase “My dad is Li Gang” – the words of a police official’s drunken son when he tried to avoid arrest after a student died in a car crash in 2010.
The phrase has become synonymous with fuerdai and guanerdai, second-generation rich and cadres, and has turned the 22-year-old son, now in jail after a public outcry, into the archetype of abuse of power.
This year, several local newspapers have given insights into the careers of the offspring of state leaders including Deng Xiaoping’s grandson, Li Peng’s daughter and Hu Jintao’s son, leading netizens to heap scorn at “rocket-speed promotions” and their wealth.
The Central Propaganda Department had to ban reporting on official progeny careers, the China Digital Times reported this month. The ban apparently didn’t keep the liberal Guangzhou-based Southern Weekly from quoting a Gansu official that 60 per cent of cadres’ careers depend on personal relations.
The People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s mouthpiece, waded in suggesting that “exceptional affection can bring unintended harm”.
Such was the pressure that police in Jiyuan, where the incident on Friday occurred, hurried to prove that the driver, named Bi Jiao, had no “official background”.
On its microblog, Jiyuan’s public security department released the woman’s age, place of residence and profession, as well as those of her 23 relatives, none of whom seemed to be in a senior government position. Bi is unemployed and unmarried. Her siblings are factory workers, and her parents are retired, police said.
It was also discovered that her black Honda sported fake licence plates.
Bi has since been put under administrative detention. The man who tried to set her car on fire has been criminally charged and detained. The man who sold her the fake plates was also held.
The girl who was hit is in hospital. Police reports did not elaborate on her injuries.
Many netizens were not convinced by the barrage of information, however, and wondered how the unemployed daughter of two retired ordinary workers could afford to drive a Honda.
Source: SCMP “Pictured: Henan residents on rampage over Honda driver’s sense of entitlement”