Human Rights

Lam Wing-kee plans to open an offshoot of Causeway Bay Books in self-governed Taiwan as a ‘symbol of resistance’

The Guardian
Date: Monday 8 May 2017
By: Nicola Smith in Taipei

Lam Wing-kee was one of five Hong Kong booksellers abducted by China in 2015 – he was detained for eight months. Photograph: Isaac Lawrence/AFP/Getty Images

One of the five Hong Kong booksellers abducted by China in 2015 for running an independent bookstore selling politically sensitive books has vowed to reopen his shop in neighbouring democratic Taiwan.

Lam Wing-kee, 62, who was detained in China for eight months, told Japan’s Nikkei Asian Review that he planned to open Causeway Bay Books in self-governed Taiwan as a “symbol of resistance”.

“Hong Kong’s protection for the fourth estate is just incomparable with [that of] Taiwan,” he said.

The former Causeway manager said the store, which was known for selling books critical of Chinese leaders, was scheduled to open in the second half of the year and would be funded by anonymous pro-democracy activists from Hong Kong.

“It’s 90% for sure now. The only thing is to find the right people and place,” he said, adding that he would serve as an adviser and not run day-to-day operations. He has previously pledged to stay in Hong Kong to “fight for democratic changes”.    [FULL  STORY]

Date: May 8, 2017

A Chinese court says a prominent human rights lawyer, Xie Yang, has admitted being “brainwashed” overseas at his trial for inciting subversion.

It released transcripts in which he says he was trained in Hong Kong and South Korea to

Picture of detained lawyer Xie YangImage copyrightCHEN GUIQIU
Xie Yang was detained in July 2015

“develop Western constitutionalism in China”.

In a video, he denies being maltreated since his arrest in July 2015.
The lawyer’s wife and human rights activists have both said that Mr Xie was tortured in custody.

His trial appears to have been held without advance public warning, the BBC’s John Sudworth reports from Beijing, and there was no way foreign journalists could verify the court transcripts which, like the video, were released on Weibo, China’s equivalent to Twitter.

He is one a number of prominent lawyers put on trial recently who have mostly represented land grab victims and campaigners for democratic reform. Such cases are considered highly sensitive by the authorities.

President Xi Jinping has overseen increasing restrictions on civil society while warning that Western ideals present a threat to national security.    [FULL  STORY]


On Monday, Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper revealed that 11 democratic nations jointly condemned China’s increasing human rights abuses in a secret February 27 letter sent to Chinese representatives. The U.S. failed to sign it.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and retired Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) at a hearing of the Congressional Executive Commission on Human Rights on Capitol Hill March 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

“Apparently the U.S. was asked to sign but declined, unlike Australia, Canada, Japan and Switzerland, along with seven European Union member countries: Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom,” according to Bill Bishop, the publisher of Sinocism China Newsletter. “This does not seem to bode well for the hopes in some circles that Trump is going to take a harder line on China over human rights.”

The letter demanded that the Chinese government investigate allegations of torture and months-long incommunicado detentions of human rights lawyers and defenders. The locations of these detention areas are kept secret from families and the lawyers of the detained, making the detainees vulnerable to torture and lack of due process. The letter further demanded that China remove all suspects from these irregular forms of detention, labeled “residential surveillance at a designated place.”

China is an increasingly powerful country that regularly violates human rights at home and international law abroad. If the U.S. wants to maintain a position of global leadership, we will have to lead, not lag, our allies in taking the moral high ground. President Trump, Secretary of State Tillerson, and U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad need to step up to the plate and ensure that they strongly and publicly represent U.S. values of democracy and human rights when dealing with China.    [FULL  STORY]

Li, once told that China considered him ‘more dangerous than Bin Laden’, sentenced in secret trial to three years in prison with a four-year reprieve

The Guardian
Date: 28 April 2017
By: Benjamin Haas in Hong Kong

Friday 28 April 2017 03.47 EDT Last modified on Friday 28 April 2017 06.50 EDT

Li Heping was swept up in a nationwide crackdown on rights lawyers and activists in July 2015.

A respected Christian human rights lawyer has been convicted of “subversion of state power” at a secret trial in China, almost two years after he was first detained in a sweeping crackdown.

Li Heping was sentenced to three years in prison with a four-year reprieve, the court in the eastern city of Tianjin said on an official social media account, meaning he should be released but could be arrested and jailed at any point.

The trial was held behind closed doors on Tuesday because “the case involved state secrets”, the court said, but was only announced along with the verdict on Friday.  [FULL  STORY]

Communist factional infighting influenced Beijing’s stance on nuclear threat

Epoch Times
Date: April 20, 2017
By: Leo Timm

A North Korean ballistic missile launcher on parade in this file photo. North Korea received Chinese aid for its nuclear and rocket programs. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Within China, entrenched political rivals of leader Xi Jinping share common ground with North Korea’s totalitarian Kim regime, and appear to have been leveraging the threat of nuclear weapons even at the expense of Chinese national security.

For years, leaders affiliated with former Communist Party boss Jiang Zemin had a stake in maintaining North Korea’s nuclear threat as a distraction from their own human rights abuses, as well as to tie the hands of their political rivals, according to an expert in Chinese affairs.

Today, Pyongyang’s nuclear brinksmanship has made headlines, and stirred U.S. and Chinese leaders into a surprising degree of collaboration when Xi and Trump met in Florida to discuss the crisis. But such discussions must take into account the previous ties between China and North Korea, fostered by former leader Jiang.

At 90, Jiang is more a symbol for corruption and human rights abuses than he is a participant in the nation’s contemporary governance.    [FULL  STORY]

Epoch Times
By: Jack Phillips

A report from a Christian charity has found that Christians are being persecuted at rates not

A young Chinese worshipper prays during the Christmas Eve mass at a Catholic church in Beijing on Dec. 24, 2014. (Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)

seen since the Cultural Revolution, which lasted from 1966 until 1976.

The Cultural Revolution, launched by dictator Mao Zedong, attempted to eliminate the “Four Olds,” which were defined as “Old Customs,” “Old Culture,” “Old Habits,” and “Old Ideas.” The campaign, carried out by organized groups of students Mao called the Red Guards, targeted the adherents of religions, including Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and others. Countless temples, historical sites, books, and priceless historical artifacts were destroyed. Religious expression, which permeated the culture in China during that time, was essentially banned, and it could have dire consequences. Millions of people were persecuted, tortured and killed.

Now, China Aid’s Annual Persecution Report for 2016 found that incidents of Christian persecution rose about 20 percent on the previous year, while the number of Christians imprisoned went up by nearly 150 percent. Officials with the Chinese Communist Party, which is officially atheist, also called for the forced demolition of churches and removal of church crosses.

The report also noted that Christians may have been killed for their organs—a grisly practice used mainly on adherents of Falun Gong, a form of traditional meditation that, during the 1990s, made up approximately one twelfth of the population, according to some estimates, and has been targeted for elimination by Chinese Communist authorities since 1999. Last June, a report said up to 1.5 million organ transplants may have taken place in China since 2000—most of which were harvested from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience.   [FULL  STORY]

Epoch Times
Date: March 16, 2017
By: Leo Timm

Sun Min, a respected and officially acclaimed middle school teacher from northeastern China,

Sun Min, a Falun Gong practitioner from Northeast China, suffered over tens years of persecution by the communist regime for her faith. (Minghui)

is just one of millions of Chinese citizens victimized for their faith in the spiritual discipline of Falun Gong.

Falun Gong, a meditative practice rooted in Chinese spiritual traditions, has been banned and violently suppressed on the mainland since July 1999, when communist leader Jiang Zemin declared it a threat to the regime’s power.

Between 1991 and 2000, Sun Min received numerous national and provincial certificates and awards recognizing her for “her teaching, articles and research achievements,” as reported by, a clearinghouse for information about Falun Gong and documentation of the persecution in China.

Imprisoned multiple times since 1999, Sun Min has spent over two years in detention and forced labor. Now aged 50, she was taken to court for a hearing in February and a trial was scheduled for March 8, according to information obtained by a Minghui correspondent in Liaoning Province.    [FULL  STORY]

Chinese scientists have spoken out again on how the Great Firewall is slowing down research and blocking access to critical international data, urging authorities to take action.

The News Lens
Date: 017/03/18
By: Oiwan Lam

Chinese scientists have periodically spoken out against the national web filtering system, often termed “the Great Firewall,” which blocks and censors web traffic from overseas websites. It damages research, they say.

Image Credit: Illustration Works / Corbis / 達志影像

But their voices have been dismissed — and deleted — again and again.
The latest criticism came from Luo Fuhe, vice-chair of the national advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

Ahead of the annual Two Sessions of the CPPCC and National People’s Congress, Luo, who is also the vice chair of a minority political party under the control of the Chinese Communist Party, the Chinese Association for Promoting Democracy, submitted a proposal urging the government to improve loading speeds for overseas websites. The proposal was based on a study that was conducted by his party.

A journalist from followed the news and his report on Luo’s statement was distributed via various news outlets in China. Within a few days, however, overseas media began to pick up the report, and reports on local media portals relating to Luo’s proposal were swiftly taken down. Nevertheless, his proposal is still circulating on Chinese social media and has overwhelmingly been backed by Chinese netizens.    [FULL  STORY]

The country has become repressive in a way that it has not been since the Cultural Revolution. What does its darkening political climate—and growing belligerence—mean for the United States?

The Atlantic
By: James Fallows

What if china is going bad? Since early last year I have been asking people inside and outside China versions of this question. By “bad” I don’t mean morally. Moral and ethical factors obviously matter in foreign policy, but I’m talking about something different.

Nor is the question mainly about economics, although for China the short-term stability and long-term improvement of jobs, wages, and living standards are fundamental to the government’s survival. Under China’s single-party Communist arrangement, sustained economic failure would naturally raise questions about the system as a whole, as it did in the Soviet Union. True, modern China’s economic performance even during its slowdowns is like the Soviet Union’s during its booms. But the absence of a political outlet for dissatisfaction is similar.

Instead the question is whether something basic has changed in the direction of China’s evolution, and whether the United States needs to reconsider its China policy. For the more than 40 years since the historic Nixon-Mao meetings of the early 1970s, that policy has been surprisingly stable. From one administration to the next, it has been built on these same elements: ever greater engagement with China; steady encouragement of its modernization and growth; forthright disagreement where the two countries’ economic interests or political values clash; and a calculation that Cold War–style hostility would be far more damaging than the difficult, imperfect partnership the two countries have maintained.

That policy survived its greatest strain, the brutal Tiananmen Square crackdown of 1989. It survived China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001 and the enormous increase in China’s trade surpluses with the United States and everywhere else thereafter. It survived the U.S. bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999 (an act assumed to be intentional by every Chinese person I’ve ever discussed it with), periodic presidential decisions to sell arms to Taiwan or meet with the Dalai Lama, and clashes over censorship and human rights.

China is right to worry about the dangers of Islamic extremism in its western provinces, but it must also recognize that this threat is a result of Beijing’s own policies.

The News Lens
Date: 2017/03/07
By: The Japan Times

China has long had an uneasy relationship with the Uighurs, Muslims who constitute a majority

Photo Credit: Reuters / 達志影像

of the population in the western province of Xinjiang. The Chinese Communist Party has worried about the threat of terrorism emanating from the region and has adopted increasingly repressive policies to counter that danger. The result, predictably enough, has been growing unrest. Beijing is now stepping up activities in the region and beyond its borders to check this threat; an indiscriminate heavy hand will do more harm than good.

China’s Xinjiang province is 45 percent Uighur, a Turkik-speaking Muslim group. While they are one of the 55 officially recognized ethnic minorities in China, Uighurs have complained that they have been discriminated against and their native culture denied as an influx of Han Chinese — who now constitute 40 percent of the population — have been brought into the region as part of a stabilization and pacification program. As in Tibet, the authorities claim that they are modernizing a backward part of their country and combating local groups that are terrorists or have terrorist inclinations.    [FULL  STORY]

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