Shenzhen’s tech workers face burnout striving for their entrepreneurial dream, highlighting the need for effective unionization.
The News Lens Date: 2018/06/25 By: China Labour Bulletin
At 10 o’clock in the evening on most weeknights, row upon row of employees can be seen still hard at work, anchored to their desks and clearly illuminated inside the glass-fronted skyscrapers of Shenzhen’s Nanshan district, home to many of China’s major technology companies.
Some staff do leave these buildings around 6.30 p.m. but most do not go home; they simply head to one of the many conveniently located restaurants or cafes for dinner or go to the gym for a quick workout before returning to their work station.
It is the same scene at weekends: Shenzhen’s integrated urban design and efficient transport network makes it very easy for staff to just drop by the office for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon. Those living further afield can of course work at home if they wish, and many choose to do just that. For the young tech workers of Shenzhen’s Silicon Valley, the boundaries between work and leisure time seem to be permanently blurred.
Java engineer is currently by far the most competitive job in Shenzhen with a staggering 14,409 applicants per day.
Overtime is not compulsory but workers accept that working long hours are the only way to get ahead in the tech industry. If you don’t work as hard as your colleagues you will soon get left behind or replaced by one of the thousands of other people clamoring for your job. [FULL STORY]
Since 9/11, Beijing has used trumped up threats of terrorism to justify the development of a high-tech security state in Xinjiang
The News Lens Date: 2018/06/20 By: Michael Clarke, East Asia Forum
China’s concerns with terrorism are almost entirely focused on the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Xinjiang’s geopolitical position at the eastern edge of the Islamic and Turkic-speaking world and the ethno-cultural distinctiveness of its largely Turkic-Muslim ethnic groups have constituted a challenge to the centralizing imperatives of successive Chinese governments.
Domestically, this has resulted in the extreme securitization of the Uyghur identity that has culminated over the past two years in the internment of up to 1 million Uyghurs in extra-judicial ‘transformation through re-education’ centers.
Internationally, Beijing has consistently appropriated the lexicon of the post-9/11 “war on terror” to label Uyghur opposition as “religious extremism”, linking it to the influence of regional and transnational jihadist organisations such as al-Qaeda in order to generate diplomatic capital for the ongoing repression of Uyghur autonomist aspirations. [FULL STORY]
Xi Jinping’s track record on human rights is bleak across the board.
The News Lens Date: 2018/06/08 By: Joseph Y.S. Cheng
The mass protests of May-June 1989 – which ended with the killing of unarmed protesters commonly referred to as the “Tiananmen Square Massacre” – were, in all likelihood, the most significant grassroots challenge to Communist Party control in the 69-year history of the People’s Republic of China. Many of the concerned citizens who took the streets during those months hoped for a government that would implement political reforms, combat corruption, and embrace human rights.
Since the suppression of the Tiananmen Incident, despite soaring economic growth, little or no progress has been made on any of the protesters’ aspirations. The Party regime has introduced no serious political reforms, and China’s liberal intelligentsia have obviously given up hope on CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping, whose rule has become increasingly authoritarian. The CCP’s attempts to bury any public memory of the Tiananmen Incident are emblematic of this backsliding; many young people in China today have little idea what happened that night in Beijing, while the people of Hong Kong – who are supposed to enjoy freedom of speech and expression – were recently issued a warningagainst any public calls to “end one-party dictatorship” by former top PRC administrator for the territory.
Xi very evidently believes that absolute loyalty to the CCP is closely linked with social and political stability. As a result, he has greatly tightened state control over the Internet and social media, and demanded that official mass media swear political loyalty to the CCP, even going so far as to say that they should be “surnamed Party”. He and the CCP have used their strengthened tools of repression to target groups seeking to assert the individual’s right to justice and autonomy in the face of Party control.
Three groups in particular stand out, both in their willingness to stand against Xi’s emphasis on ideological orthodoxy, and in the consequences they have been made to suffer as a result: human rights lawyers, autonomous labor groups, and underground churches. Under the Hu-Wen administration, all three were subject to regular state harassment, but still enjoyed some space to operate. As part of the Xi administration’s crackdown on organization and expression, they have been viewed as threats to the Party regime, and treated accordingly. [FULL STORY]
Looking for love? In China, a good credit score could get you access to exclusive singles
Date: 5 June 2018
By: Charles Rollet
In the UK, credit scores are mostly used to determine whether people can get a credit card or
loan. But in China, the government is developing a much broader “social credit” system partly based on people’s routine behaviours with the ultimate goal of determining the “trustworthiness” of the country’s 1.4 billion citizens.
It might sound like a futuristic dystopian nightmare but the system is already a reality. Social credit is preventing people from buying airline and train tickets, stopping social gatherings from happening, and blocking people from going on certain dating websites. Meanwhile, those viewed kindly are rewarded with discounted energy bills and similar perks.
China’s social credit system was launched in 2014 and is supposed to be nationwide by 2020. As well as tracking and rating individuals, it also encompasses businesses and government officials. When it is complete, every Chinese citizen will have a searchable file of amalgamated data from public and private sources tracking their social credit. Currently, the system is still under development and authorities are trying to centralise local databases.
Given the Chinese government’s authoritarian nature, some portray the system as a single, all-knowing Orwellian surveillance machine that will ensure every single citizen’s strict loyalty to the Communist Party. But for now, that’s not quite the case. Rogier Creemers, a researcher in the law and governance of China at Leiden University, has described the social credit setup as an “ecosystem” of fragmented initiatives. The main goal, he says, is not stifling dissent – something the Chinese state already has many tools for at its disposal – but better managing social order while leaving the Party firmly in charge.
Yet social credit isn’t limited to the government and for the most part it has been operated by private firms. Ant Financial, the finance arm of e-commerce giant Alibaba, launched a product called Sesame Credit in 2015. It was China’s first effective credit scoring system but was also much broader, functioning as a social credit scheme and loyalty programme as well. [FULL STORY]
The Chinese Communist Party is doubleplusgood at promulgating Chinese duckspeak.
The News Lens Date: 2018/06/01 By: Stellina Chen
China’s “Orwellian nonsense” apparently knows no bounds.
The term was first leveled at the Chinese government in a White House press statement in relation to Beijing’s largely successful attempts to bully airlines to reference Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan with descriptors indicating they were part of China.
The put down could equally be applied to the Communist Party of China’s, again disappointingly victorious, efforts to pressure multinational companies such as the Marriott hotel chain, Mercedes-Benz and Zara to change their websites to reference “Taiwan, China” or some similar designation.
Taiwan is of course a sovereign country with its own independently functioning democratic government.
In many cases, the companies involved also apologized for this “mistake” in failing to recognize China’s territorial integrity, with Gap producing the standout capitulatory performance in offering a profuse mea culpa for selling a t-shirt emblazoned with a map of China that did not include Taiwan, southern Tibet and various Chinese claims in the South China Sea.
The kicker was that the t-shirt was being sold online to customers in Canada, leading to strongly worded editorials lambasting China’s ability to enforce its will on companies operating overseas, even down to the way they design their products.
This CCP tactic of press ganging private companies circumvents governments’ ability to resist, particularly as most are viciously morally compromised when it comes to their stance on China’s human rights abuses. [FULL STORY]
A US and a Chinese flag wave outside a commercial building in Beijing on July 9, 2007. (Teh Eng Koon/AFP/Getty Images)
One mainlander’s story of resistance and risk.
Foreign Policy Date: May 28, 2018 By: Qiu Zhongsun
I took one final look at the posters I had just taped to the bulletin board in a student lounge at the University of California, San Diego. Superimposed over the face of Chinese President Xi Jinping were three simple words in red: Not My President. My own face had been concealed under a hoodie as I put the pictures up — and I’d waited, along with a friend, until late at night to make sure no one saw us.
I had to take these measures to protect my identity because for mainland Chinese like myself, the oppression we face at home follows us abroad. The Chinese Communist Party has learned how to project its regime of surveillance and coercion deep inside the borders of liberal democracies. Initiating a campaign of political resistance, even in a Western country, meant risking my safety and that of my family back in China.
Just a few days earlier, on Feb. 25, the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp legislative body, had announced a proposal to remove constitutional term limits on the presidency, which since the 1980s had been limited to two five-year terms. Chinese presidents aren’t elected, but the selection process, ever since reformer Deng Xiaoping, had been a matter of consensus among the top echelons of the party, deliberately limiting the strength of any one individual. After the proposal inevitably passed, it would smooth the course for Xi, chosen for the critical roles of both party chairman and president in 2012, to become president for life instead of quitting in 2022.
News of the proposal swept China’s social media, and posts expressing frustration, shock, and helplessness flooded online platforms — but only for a few short hours. Then, all the discussion was deleted as the myriad censors who now police the Chinese internet kicked into high gear. [FULL STORY]
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Netizens have become outraged over a video posted on the
Uyghur dissident Facebook group Talk to East Turkestan on Saturday (May 26), which the group claims to show a forced wedding between a Chinese man and a Uyghur woman as part of China’s program to assimilate and pacify the ethic minority population in Xinjiang.
In the video, a host of a wedding party appears to ask the Chinese groom how long he has known the bride, and he replies “two months.” Instead of being happy, the Uyghur woman has a sad look on her face, as if she is being coerced into the wedding.
The person who uploaded the video indicated that it was an example of forced marriages between Han Chinese men and Uyghur women that the Chinese government is implementing to assimilate the ethnic minority group in Xinjiang Province.
“After locking up all the Uyghur males in concentration camps, China is forcing Uyghur women to marry Chinese men. A genocide is taking place in the open yet the international community including Turkic and Muslim countries continue to ignore the cries of their Uyghur Muslim brothers and sisters.”
Uighur parents pick up their children from school in Kashgar City, in China's Xinjiang region, in July 2017. (Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
The Washington Post Date: May 16,2018 By: Simon Denyer
BEIJING — Kayrat Samarkand says his only “crime” was being a Muslim who had visited neighboring Kazakhstan. On that
basis alone, he was detained by police, aggressively interrogated for three days, then dispatched in November to a “reeducation camp” in China’s western province of Xinjiang for three months.
There, he faced endless brainwashing and humiliation, he said in an interview, was forced to study Communist propaganda for hours every day, and chant slogans giving thanks and wishing long life to President Xi Jinping.
“Those who disobeyed the rules, refused to be on duty, engaged in fights or were late for studies were placed in handcuffs and ankle cuffs for up to 12 hours,” he said. Further disobedience would result in waterboarding or long periods strapped in agony in a metal contraption known as a “tiger chair,” he said, a punishment he said he suffered.
Between several hundred thousand to just over 1 million Muslims have been detained inside China’s mass “reeducation” camps in the restive province of Xinjiang, Adrian Zenz of the European School of Culture and Theology in Korntal, Germany, said in a report released Tuesday. Zenz is a leading authority on the current crackdown in Xinjiang. [FULL STORY]
Video evidence recorded by Chinese human rights lawyer Yu Wensheng prior to his detention contradicts Chinese authorities’ claims that he has voluntarily dismissed legal representation.
The News Lens
By: David Green
Credit: Yu Wensheng
Video evidence has emerged that suggests China is either torturing suspects to force them to forego legal representation or misleading the public about their decisions, adding fuel to an international flare-up up over the government’s abuse of domestic law and international conventions against torture.
The video shows human rights lawyer Yu Wensheng attesting that he would “never give up the right to hire his own lawyer” nor “accept the lawyer designated by the government, unless I am tortured.”
It also confirms that Yu, one of China’s most prominent human rights lawyers and an outspoken advocate for political reform who endured almost 100 days in police custody in 2014-15, had previously passed power of attorney to his own lawyers, Liang Xiaojun and Zhang Weiyu.
“If they are not able to represent me, then my wife has the right to choose the lawyer for me,” the statement adds. [FULL STORY]