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Guangdong on track to become leading science and tech hub

Professor Huang Ningsheng talked about Guangdong's bid to become an innovation hub Professor Huang Ningsheng talked about Guangdong’s bid to become an innovation hub

Investment in Guangdong’s scientific research and development is expected to take up 2.58% of the province’s total GDP for 2016, according to the Director-General of its department of science and technology.

It is a figure that looks set to increase over the coming years as the province, which neighbours Hong Kong, seeks to enhance its competitiveness and further cement its reputation as an up-and-coming scientific and technical innovation hub.

During the November 30 club lunch, guest speaker Professor Huang Ningsheng told the audience of the push to not only attract talent to the province, but also to produce talent by way of creating new R&D institutions and universities.

The former Dean of the Guangdong Provincial Academy of Sciences said that support from the Chinese Government had been essential in making Guangdong province home to some of China’s fastest growing tech companies. He added that even President Xi Jinping had ‘provided us with a lot of guidance’.

He said that the NPC Standing Committee of Guangdong Province was this week reviewing legislation that could speed up the transfer of science and technology findings into business results. Guangdong Province will also benefit from the Chinese government providing subsidies for venture capitalists who invest in R&D institutions and tech companies.

“We’re seeing the new round of technical revolution and industrial revolution,” he said.

Professor Huang said the key factors in ensuring the province’s continued growth as a tech hub were the creation of more incubators – which help turn research findings into products that businesses can sell – and laboratories to engage in basic applied research. He added that legislation to protect intellectual property rights was also essential in attracting talent and investment to the province.

The focus for Guangdong is the production of smart robots, telecommunications and life science and health.

Chris Patten on Trump, Brexit, Article 23 and India

Chris Patten arrives at the FCC Chris Patten arrives at the FCC

Here’s a round-up of the Q&A with Chris Patten following his talk at the FCC on November 25.

PATTEN ON INDIA

Look, I don’t mean any disrespect to my own country or to France, speaking as a member of the Legion d’honneur, or to China or to Hong Kong, but I happen to think India is the most interesting country in the world. And I don’t just say that because you asked the question. I don’t mean by that that I think that India is poised to become a superpower. Actually I’m not sure it is. I think that’s partly because I think thats partly to India’s benefit and I think it’s partly because Indians don’t want it to be. But India is an extraordinary democracy and democracy and the system of government in India have held together an astonishingly diverse society, ethnicities, religions, languages, in a way that simply wouldn’t have worked without that safety valve. I think other communities could have blown apart or could have seen the development of a bamboo gulag. India hasn’t done that.

India’s constitution had at its heart seculism (sic), socialism, and I’m afraid the socialism wasn’t a great success. It’s joined the world economy, it has very, very effective multinationals which on the whole follow pretty clean internationally recognised corporal governance guidelines. There is now a lot more Indian investment in the UK than there is UK investment in India and I hope that the present government will avoid the temptation we’ve seen in other countries to become more nationalist if the economic climate becomes a bit more difficult. India I think is concerned about its relationship with China but because of that it would be a mistake I think for others in the United States or Europe to try to use India as a sort of democratic pawn in a geo-strategic argument with China, I think that would be a huge huge error.

I think that India’s development is something which matters to the whole world and I think part of India’s success is Indian soft power: Indian literature. The best novels these days are written by – there are some good ones written by Americans – but the best novels are on the whole written by Indians. The Indian cinema which, I know the Chinese cinema has been very good but perhaps more restricted, Bollywood has been a fantastic success, though it may not matter so much to members of the audience who are Chinese, Indian cricket has alas been all too successful as an export of Indian soft power. So I think India is an extraordinary story, it’s not going to simply move up a straight line up the graph paper but by 2040 the largest population in the world will be Indian with the largest economically active population outstripping China which will have, I’m sure, problems it can overcome in moving from having a huge labour surplus to a labour deficit and to having the second largest group of people in the world who will be Chinese pensioners. So India faces some big responsibilities and big challenges, and I think it’s going to be a very exciting story.

ON FREE TRADE AND BREXIT

I totally agree with you that we have to engage in the argument just as we have to engage in the argument with tabloids and social media about whether or not it is important to tell the truth in election campaigns. I think those are issues which really demand international and strong leadership and I think one of the lessons from Brexit in Britain was that political leaders hadn’t been sufficiently bold and vigorous in taking on some of the criticisms of the European Union.

On free trade I just make two very swift points. First of all, we all know, I mean there’s a wealth of statistical evidence that those who do worst from protectionism are the poor. If you’re well off you cope. If you’re poor you find the cost of the everyday items you buy goes up and you don’t find yourself working in a job where productivity is being raised because of greater competitiveness. In Britain we made the terrible mistake… we’re so centralised as an economy that we didn’t do what the Danes have done for example which is to ensure that public spending programmes are adjusted to take much greater account of the areas where there are real difficulties with declining industries and workforces which are undertrained and underprepared for industrial generational change. And I think we’ve also failed with basic education in some parts of Britain.

In America I mentioned earlier that the Americans spend 0.1% of GDP on labour market issues like retraining. The average for the OECD countries as a whole is six times that. So when I said to some of my Republican friends ‘of course the answer to problems in Michigan or Indiana or the Rust Belt is to spend more on retraining, to do more for education, to look at tax and spend policies and the role they can play in reducing social inequity’, they look at me as though I’m a sort of Keynesian communist. But it’s true. There is an important role for those government policies in addressing the problems which free trade can bring to people who work in declining industries.

Look, I go occasionally to Indiana to Notre Dame University, as the French would call it, a very very good Catholic university in the middle of Indiana, and you go through a lot of Rust Belt to get there. Could you have saved those industries? Maybe. Could we have saved the horse and cart as the principle means of getting from A to B. I suppose so. But we’d have all been much poorer had we done so. I think that unfortunately the people who are most likely to suffer from Trumpian protectionism if it happens are the people who voted for Mr Trump, just as in Britain the people who are most likely to suffer from the consequences of Brexit are the people in some of the disadvantaged parts of the country which voted for it. I think that’s a real tragedy and will actually put our democracies under some pressure in the future.

ON ARTICLE 23 AND ARTICLE 158

Well, maybe it was a good thing that I wasn’t around when they (articles 23 and 158) were accepted, though they weren’t a matter for negotiation between the then colonial power and China. But we did have strong views about Article 23 and we managed to avoid any suggestion that Article 23 should lead to legislation while I was governor and one reason why I didn’t think we needed to do anything about Article 23 was that I thought that subversion was something which I was unlikely to encounter as governor of Hong kong. It has a sort of rather quaint Leninist tone to it and pretty well since the 17th century – Guy Fawkes and all that – subversion hasn’t been a big issue in British politics.

More seriously, I think there is a different sort of relationship which if I was in government in Hong Kong would concern me, and that is the relationship between social and economic issues and political issues. I think that there are some serious issues which young people and other people raise about their futures, about the competitiveness of Hong Kong in the future, about the extent to which their employment opportunities are more narrowed than would have been the case with their parents. So I think there are some social issues – housing another one, and competition from the north for jobs. I think there are some serious issues there and perhaps play into the debate about political issues and those need to be addressed.

And it won’t be to Hong Kong’s benefit if over the next few years there is a sort of traffic jam in the relationship between the Legislative Council and the Executive, if things can’t get done because of an argument or a log jam there. Hong Kong has a reputation for getting things done rather more rapidly than other places and I would hate to see that ended.

ON WHAT HE WOULD PRIORITISE IF HE WERE HONG KONG’S CHIEF EXECUTIVE

The first election campaign that I took part in was in New York in 19 – I’m very old now – 1965 and one of the candidates, when he was asked what the first thing he would do if he won the election was, replied ‘demand a recount’. The first thing I would do is go to mass and say a prayer, and after that I would try I think, whoever I was, to establish a dialogue with people on whichever side of the argument didn’t agree with me. I think it’s corrosive of government when disagreements turn into quarrels.

ON DONALD TRUMP AND THE RIGHT WING

I think that it’s not just America that this is an issue, that a greater emphasis on nationalism and national identity, on nativism, can easily turn into an effort to define oneself against the other. It can easily seem to be ungenerous, it can easily seem to want to lock out minorities, it can easily seem racist. I think the most wonderful words in America are the ones on the seal: E pluribus unum, which has been a fantastic message to the rest of humanity, bringing together people from every conceivable language and background and shaping a great country. City on a hill.

You sit as I did recently in a deli on Maddison Avenue and you watch every sort of identity and humanity walking past the window. And how do those people define themselves? Are they Afro-American New Yorkers? Are they Catholic Polish Americans? Are they Vietnamese Americans? Are they Chinese Americans? The one thing they all are is Americans. And I think that it would be a terrible error if Mr Trump was seen to be celebrating the whiteness of American society without recognising all the other colours which go to make up that extraordinary American flag.

So that’s what I think I would want to say to Mr Trump and since that was what I would say to him, I think I’d probably cancel the appointment of the chairman of Breitbart as his main strategic adviser. Anybody whose appointment is so enthusiastically welcomed by the great Wizard of whatever he is of the Ku Klux Klan is not somebody I’d like to spend an evening with.

Chris Patten’s FCC speech – in full

“The former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney was kicked out of government when his approval ratings were as I recall slightly lower than the prevailing level of interest so he wasn’t terribly popular when he left office and he tells himself a story about somebody going up to the front gate of his former official residence in Sussex Drive in Ottawa the day or two after he’d been kicked out. And someone goes up to the policeman on duty and says ‘Can i speak to Mr Mulroney please? And the policeman says ‘Sorry, Mr Mulroney doesn’t live here anymore. The next day the same guy turns up and asks to see Mr Mulroney. The policeman again says sorry Mr Mulroney doesn’t live here anymore. The guy goes a third time and the policeman says, ‘Look, I’m getting fed up with this – I’ve told you already are Mr Mulroney doesn’t live here any more.’

And the man says I know, he says, but I just love to hear it.

Coming here this afternoon we passed government house and I hoped that there weren’t people still queuing up at the gate to hear, to their great relief, I wasn’t living there. Anyway, it’s always nice to be back and to see the evidence in the ubiquity of the media that Hong Kong is still a free city. So thank you all for inviting me today and thank you for coming in such prodigious numbers.

MORE: PRO-INDEPENDENCE ANTICS ARE MAKING A MOCKERY OF HONG KONG’S DEMOCRACY CAMPAIGN 

I guess at least until June this year the two most important developments in my life were, first of all, the fall of the Berlin wall which ended the Soviet Union’s European empire and seemed to end as well the threat from global communism; and secondly the second event which I think has been of spectacular importance is China joining the global economy, the most important example of globalisation that there has been, setting China on course to be what it has been for 18 out of the last 20 centuries: the largest economy in the world. Those events were part of the script written by the United States after the war establishing a world order based on rules, based on the opening up of markets and free trade, based on security guarantees from the world’s biggest military power. All things which brought us security in Europe through Nato, which brought certainly after the Korean war security in East Asia despite the fact that there was never the same sort of historic reconciliation between China and Japan that there was in Europe between France and Germany, which brought us in the 50 years between the middle of the last century and its end a spectacular increase in world trade so that the trade in manufactured goods went up in 50 years from 8% of global GDP to 20% of GDP. And some of the results of that we saw in the hundreds of millions of people in China and elsewhere in Asia who were lifted out of poverty; the development of the middle class across Asia.

People used to talk about the American imperium. I’ve always thought it was more accurate to talk about the American emporium, the extent to which the opening up of America’s market and the markets in Europe provided exporting opportunities for what we used to call Third World countries. When I was Britain’s development minister in the 1980s that was a term that was tossed about and we used to look at countries that were best known for the manufacture of plastic toys, for manufacture of cheap polyester sheets and shirts, for the manufacture of Soviet era tractors; and which tried to gang up in cartels of commodity producers against the richer countries of the world to establish what they called a new international economic order. Well we got a new international economic order. We got it because those countries, which we now call emerging markets, because those countries learned how to sell high quality products to developed economies at prices which undercut what the countries could make them for themselves. It’s an extraordinary success story. and the figures queue up for gee whizz exclamations. China which for example from the mid nineties in a 15 year period increased its exports to the United States by 1,600%. Who suffered from that? Well most of us of course gained. We gained because inflation was licked with lower prices for goods. we gained because in developed countries people got those goods at lower prices. consumers gained everywhere. we gained in emerging markets because people were being employed seeing investments seeing the reward of those investments and we gained in both developed countries and emerging markets because we became more competitive.

in my view it would be dishonest, dishonourable and reckless of somebody like me to pretend that the case for democracy could be mixed up with an argument about the independence of Hong Kong

Some people undoubtedly lost. In America about one sixth of those employed in making things lost their jobs. So was the right answer to that to say that we should go back to protect our markets and stop trading with one another? Forget about it. Forty percent, for example, of the manufacturers from Mexico to the United States involve a large number of things that which made in America. Half of America’s exports go to countries with which it has free trade agreements, and what’s true of America in the world is also true of Europe in the world. But unfortunately those who didn’t do well in developed countries out of globalisation have been encouraged to point the blame for that onto free trade and onto the opening up of markets. The fact that is untrue doesn’t seem to matter very much. If you want to know really why in the united states some people have done so badly in the last few years its because America spends one sixth of the OED average on retraining workers who have lost their jobs. In the United Kingdom, where outside London and the south east since the financial crash in 2008/2009, people’s income has gone down. If you want to find ways of dealing with that there again in the field of redistributive tax and spend policies which look after people who have been casualties because of economic change.

But we’ve just had two elections as you know which seem to suggest that the answer to our problems is greater nationalisation, protectionism, and thinking primarily of ourselves, and pulling up the draw bridge to the rest of the world. I hope that Mr Trump as president proves different from Mr Trump the candidate, otherwise we’re all in real trouble. I hope that in Britain what Brexit means – and we’re told with a spectacular tautology that Brexit means Brexit, lunch means lunch, breakfast means breakfast… it can be croissant and coffee or the full English – I very much hope in Britain that the British government will reach the early conclusion that instead of negotiating our departure from the European Union with a cliff in two years time, we negotiate some sort of transitional arrangement which enables our industries, our exporters to adjust over time to the loss of a market which takes at the moment 45% of our exports.

So I suppose there are ways we can get through Trump and Brexit but it’s not going to be very easy and it’s a particular worry when one looks at the economic situation with emerging markets, not least here in Asia. It does look now as though Mr Trump is preparing to abandon the transpacific partnership that mostly puts the onus on other Asian countries to make a real success, including China of course, of the regional comprehensive economic partnership – not as deep or important as TPP but still a useful way forward.

The one thing I hope we can avoid is a tit-for-tat trade war between the United States and China. The one thing I hope we can avoid is a drift into what some people have called the thucydides trap in which there’s a stand-off between the United States and China. I can understand people taking exception to some of the mercantilist policies in China. Parenthetically I just note in passing that they might also take exception to the mercantilist policies of Germany.

Taking an oath is a serious business… taking oaths isn’t something of a lark

I hope that despite, that despite the real question marks which are raised about political repression in China, we can shape a world in which we can accommodate China’s legitimate interests with those of the rest of us. Because one thing that’s for sure is that China doing well is one hell of a lot more important to us than China not doing well. Whether or not that is the view that Mr Trump will come to hold, I’m not sure.

In Europe we’re going to have to do more for ourselves in terms of security and I hope we’ll be able to persuade Mr Trump that there is a difference between Vladimir Putin and Florence Nightingale.

Just to say a couple of other things. The first is about the importance of universities – not least universities in Hong Kong – helping to shape a return to the liberal order that has been so extraordinarily successful over the last 50 or 60 years. I am Chancellor of Oxford University and we’re very pleased that in the latest rankings we came first in the world. I think one reason why we became first in the world is we regard ourselves as a university for the world. We have nearly 1,000 students from mainland China. We have 140-150 from Hong Kong in addition. One hundred and eighty of our professors and senior researchers are from the mainland of China, 15 or so of them from Hong Kong, and I think that’s nothing but a good thing and I hope that we’ll be able to attract even more students from around the world in the next few years. But first we have to persuade our government that there’s a difference between a student and an immigrant.

The second thing I’d like to say is that obviously I follow, albeit from a distance, what’s been happening in Hong Kong. And since I suspect I might get a question on this, let me say a word about it here and now, although it may have much less impact on your lives every one of those in Hong Kong than what Mr Trump gets up to. You know very well that I believe passionately in the Rule of Law and the freedoms which it brings with it. And I have always believed that Hong Kong had thrived and prospered partly because of the Rule of Law, partly because of the pluralism of Hong Kong’s society, and that sooner or later those freedoms should include the freedom to choose who governs Hong Kong.

I think 20 years after the departure of the colonial aggressor it’s surprising that democratic development  hasn’t happened rather more rapidly. It was supposed to take place at a steady rate. The steady rate seems to be pretty slow. And I will always support sensible efforts to strengthen the democratic movement in Hong Kong. Like many others I watched with huge admiration the on the whole peaceful and mature campaign for democracy in Hong Kong a couple of years ago. So I am totally committed to that and I’ve always seen that commitment in the context of my passionate belief in the importance of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The Sino-British Joint Declaration. Under the Joint Declaration the British had obligations to the people of Hong Kong before ’97. And we had to tell China how we were meeting those obligations. Under the treaty, the Joint Declaration, China has obligations to the people of Hong Kong for 50 years after 1997, and Britain has an interest in how those undertakings are addressed, as does the rest of the international community.

The situation in Britain, which seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable one, is if you won’t take an oath you can’t join the club

I used to know that Joint Declaration off by heart. Paragraph 3, sub section 1 talks about the territorial integrity of China and national unity including the SAR and the rest of the country, so in my view it would be dishonest, dishonourable and reckless of somebody like me to pretend that the case for democracy could be mixed up with an argument about the independence of Hong Kong – something which is not going to happen, something which dilutes support for democracy and something which has led to all sorts of antics which should not take place in a mature society aiming to be a full democracy. I think two years ago many brave young people in Hong Kong established moral high ground about democracy in governance and I think it would be a tragedy if that high ground was lost because of the antics about so-called independence for Hong Kong.

Maybe it would be better if people in the north left it for Hong Kong courts to sort out the consequences of that which they will, I am sure. But inevitably it perhaps motivated one or two of the people who wrong-headedly pursued this argument. Inevitably there has been a backlash and I would guess that backlash probably reflects sentiments in the mainland which will go well beyond the ranks of the Chinese Communist Party.

I say all that so there can be no doubt where, as strong a proponent of democracy as you could find, places himself in this debate.

But let me add something, just so as to spare journalists asking the question – and I hope setting things out in this detail will mean that it doesn’t become the subject of every interview I do over the next four or five days… Taking an oath is a serious business. I have taken oaths on several occasions. I took an oath when I came to Hong Kong. I take an oath as a member of parliament. I took an oath the other day as a member of the House of Lords. I supported two people who used to work in Hong Kong – Peter Ricketts and Edward Llewellyn – when they were taking oaths in the House of Lords. I have taken an oath as a privy councillor – and it’s a serious business. In London, I take an oath with my hand on the Bible. Taking oaths isn’t something of a lark. Moreover, the situation in Britain, which seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable one, is if you won’t take an oath you can’t join the club. We have a political party in Northern Ireland – Sinn Fein – made up of republicans who won’t swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen. So they can’t take their place in parliament. Simple as that. And I would guess that there are legislatures all over the world which have similar requirements.

I think it is mistaken to confuse the argument about the nature of Hong Kong’s really special citizenship – the way in which people know in this community, the relationship between freedom of speech, freedom of the media, due process, independence of the judiciary, the way people know the relationship between those things and their own prosperity and well being… I think it’s a mistake to confuse that with some headline-grabbing remarks about independence.

I had great admiration and still have great admiration for those who campaign for democracy, but not those whose campaign dilutes support for democracy and makes a mockery of a serious political argument. Sorry to sound so headmasterly, but I just thought you might ask the question so why not get my retaliation in first? Thank you very much indeed.”

Chris Patten: Pro-independence antics are making a mockery of Hong Kong’s democracy campaign

Chris Patten talking at the FCC about Trump, Brexit and Hong Kong democracy Chris Patten talking at the FCC about Trump, Brexit and Hong Kong democracy

Former Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten today blasted those who ‘make a mockery’ of Hong Kong’s democracy movement and said it would be a tragedy if democracy campaigners lost the moral high ground because of the antics of some of those seeking independence for the city.

Speaking at a sold-out lunch at the city’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Lord Patten castigated the young pro-independence lawmakers who refused to swear allegiance to China after being elected to the the Legislative Council, stating “taking an oath is a serious business”.

“I think two years ago many brave young people in Hong Kong established moral high ground about democracy in governance and I think it would be a tragedy if that high ground was lost because of the antics about so-called independence for Hong Kong,” he said.

“Taking an oath is a serious business… Taking oaths isn’t something of a lark.

“Paragraph 3 sub section 1 (of the Joint Declaration) talks about the territorial integrity of China and national unity including the SAR and the rest of the country, so in my view it would be dishonest, dishonourable and reckless of somebody like me to pretend that the case for democracy could be mixed up with an argument about the independence of Hong Kong – something which is not going to happen, something which dilutes support for democracy and something which has led to all sorts of antics which should not take place in a mature society aiming to be a full democracy.”

Lord Patten was at the FCC to talk about the world after Trump and Brexit, but well aware that the huge number of press attending the event would be keen to bring up Hong Kong, he headed off their questions by issuing his very direct statement.

The latest chapter in Hong Kong’s volatile politics began with the September election to the city’s Legislative Council of pro-independence ‘Youngspiration’ candidates Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching.

The pair made headlines around the world when, during their oath-taking ceremony, they refused to swear allegiance to China, used bad language and sported banners that read “Hong Kong is Not China”. Their behaviour led Beijing to make an “interpretation” of Hong Kong’s Basic Lawthe city’s mini-constitution that was adopted after the handover from Britain to China in 1997 – which saw the newly-elected legislators barred from holding office.

Beijing’s actions, seen by many as interference in the city’s affairs, led thousands to take to the streets in protest, sparking clashes with police.

FCCC Working Conditions Report 2016

The following is a Working condition report 2016 issued by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China for its members. The FCC (Hong Kong) relays it as a service to the media community; any views expressed are not necessarily shared by the FCC (Hong Kong).

 

FCCC Working Conditions Report 2016

 

The reporting environment for foreign journalists is proving hostile for yet another year in China – a situation that correspondents judge to be distant from basic international standards. Intimidation of sources and local staff, growing harassment and obstruction are major challenges for journalists conducting their work.

 

The annual Working Conditions survey conducted by the Foreign Correspondents´ Club of China finds an alarming new form of harassment against reporters, some of whom have been called into unspecified meetings by the State Security Bureau. They survey also finds an increase in use of force and manhandling by authorities against journalists performing their work.

 

This year, 98% of respondents said reporting conditions rarely meet international standards, with 29% saying conditions have deteriorated. Harassment, detention and questioning of sources remains worryingly common, with 26% of respondents reporting such activity, while 57% of correspondents said they personally had been subjected to some form of interference, harassment or violence while attempting to report in China.

 

Vast areas of the country still remain inaccessible to foreign reporters. Those who took part in government-sponsored trips to Tibet and Tibetan areas expressed mixed satisfaction about the degree of access obtained. It is still largely impossible for foreign journalists to report from Tibet, Tibetan areas or Xinjiang without incurring serious interference.

 

The general climate for reporting in China deteriorated over the last year, respondents said. Many denounced pressure exerted on organizations and academia, and cited growing difficulties in securing interviews with sources and experts.

 

Some major events have triggered manhandling and the use of force against journalists performing their work, including at the trial for lawyer Pu Zhiqiang and at demonstrations in Wukan.

 

The FCCC’s top concerns include:

— Interference, harassment and physical violence by authorities against foreign media during the reporting process

— Calls for meetings by the State Security Bureau
— Attempts by authorities to pre-empt and discourage coverage of sensitive subjects

— Intimidation and harassment of sources

— Restrictions on journalists’ movements in border and ethnic minority regions

— Staged press conferences

— Pressure directed to editors and managers at headquarters outside of China

— Surveillance and censorship

 

Survey invitations were sent to 200 correspondents. The FCCC received 112 responses.

 

INTERFERENCE HARASSMENT AND PHYSICAL VIOLENCE

Most respondents (57%) said they had been subjected to some form of interference, harassment or violence while attempting to report in China. 8% of respondents experienced manhandling or use of physical force, an increase from last year, while 26% said they had been obstructed from reporting at least once by unknown persons. One person reported the breaking of news gathering equipment.

 

Several secret police showed up unannounced at my apartment after waiting for me to get home “for several hours,” according to my terrified doormen. They forced me to speak with them (I was on my way to the airport to a flight I almost missed) and they tried to get me to sign a document saying I would follow the rules of being a journalist in China, which of course we already agree to when we get our visa. It took a while, but they then specifically brought up Tiananmen Square (this was on or about June 2). They wouldn’t allow me to photograph the document they wanted me to sign or give me their names.  I tried to record audio of the meeting but they wouldn’t allow that either.  They also didn’t want to allow me to call anyone from my company.  So I refused to sign.  They then threatened that it might hurt my visa renewal process.

-U.S. broadcaster

 

Was shoved roughly and repeatedly by unidentified men wearing smiley face stickers while trying to cover the trial of lawyer Pu Zhiqiang in Beijing.

-Josh Chin, Wall Street Journal

 

In what appears to be an added form of pressure applied on foreign correspondents, 27% of respondents said they had been asked to meet with the Ministry of State Security. Respondents said the tone of those conversations has been friendly, although the questions have in some instances been of concern.

 

Asked to spy and report on colleagues, and could refuse in the same friendly way.

-European broadcaster

 

Two people came to meet me in a cafe I chose. They were interested in my ideas about the Winter Olympics, One Belt One Road and pollution. I think they were also interested in whether I have Chinese friends, and in how good my Chinese is. The second time they met me they tried to make me tell them all the stories or topics I had been writing articles about lately. The person in charge of the discussion was a lady who told me — I asked about this — that she is in charge of taking care of people from my country. She said the purpose of these meetings was to know the “personality and specialization and so on” of people.

– European journalist

 

The tone of questions was very calm, but they sometimes referred to other media outlets which they think are violating Chinese laws, and asked me to follow their rules.

-Japanese correspondent

 

HARASSMENT OF NEWS ASSISTANTS

33% of respondents said their news assistants had been harassed or pressured by government officials in some way, a slight increase from last year. Some correspondents reported news assistants quitting over a perceived negative reporting bias against China and the Communist Party.

 

Officials often target the Chinese staff. They often attempt to separate them from us, attempt to warn them that their perceived “support” of the foreign media is “un-Chinese” and sometimes threaten and verbally insult them.

-western news organization

 

My assistant tells me that when we go on assignments where we get obstructed either by police or unidentified elements – which is something that happens more and more frequently- she will often be asked things along the lines of, why does she want to help the foreign press and its “anti-China bias”? She has been told that by doing so she is a “traitor.”

-European correspondent

 

After authorities became upset at some of our reporting, national security officers repeatedly contacted my assistant, forced her to go to an interview/interrogation at which I was not allowed to be present and the location of which was kept secret from me.

-U.S correspondent

 

I had a strange incident where an assistant who was working for me quit after some reporting related to the Cultural Revolution anniversary, saying I was too negative and he did not want to “harm his country or his Party.” I am pretty sure he came under pressure, but can’t confirm it and he would neither confirm nor deny.

-western news organization

 

HARASSMENT OF SOURCES

Official harassment of Chinese citizens who speak to foreign reporters is a violation of these sources’ constitutional rights. It also violates Chinese government regulations governing foreign journalists’ work, and Chinese officials’ public statements that sources will not be harassed.

 

However, 26% of respondents say their sources were harassed, detained, questioned or punished at least once for speaking to them. In other cases, fear of harassment has led sources to decline interviews.

 

In the most extreme case, a woman who talked to us about losing money to a P2P lending website was detained by police for a number of days.

-Joe McDonald The Associated Press

 

Our driver in Xinjiang was questioned by local officials after our trip.

-German broadcaster

 

LIMITS ON TRAVEL AND HARASSMENT IN MINORITY AREAS

The Tibet Autonomous Region remains unreachable for foreign correspondents outside formally-organized trips by the Foreign Ministry. However, respondents have also encountered troubles reporting in other sensitive border or ethnic minority areas.

 

Of those who tried to report from Tibetan-inhabited areas, 60% reported encountering problems, while 44% had trouble in Xinjiang. Correspondents have also been told reporting was restricted or prohibited in other sensitive areas, such as the North Korea border, areas around the Tianjin explosion site, and coal mining locations where protests had taken place. Restrictions have extended to officially-sanctioned trips into areas normally open for reporting.

 

Conversely, officials showed some openness to reporting on one trip to the TAR. Half of correspondents rated their satisfaction as three on a scale of five; the remainder were evenly split between greater and lesser levels of satisfaction. But most respondents who applied to go to Tibet were denied access.

 

I was surprised at the relaxed nature given that it was a government tour of Tibet

-correspondent for UK media

 

Was followed in Tibetan area. While there, was questioned by government officials and police who also harassed our sources, translators and driver. We were told it was a special area and that we must do what we were told while there. On the upside they did not kick us out.

-FCCC member

 

Went on a government-sponsored reporting trip to Tibetan Sichuan — extremely tightly controlled, no opportunities for independent reporting

-U.S. correspondent

 

I would have liked to go to the Larung Gar but was told from sources that this would not be possible. It is in Sichuan and not the TAR, so should be open to foreign reporters. But this does not seem to be the case.

-FCCC member

 

PRESSURE OUTSIDE CHINA BY CHINESE AUTHORITIES

18% of respondents said they had seen signs of Chinese pressure on editors at their headquarters, a slight decrease from last year. Such visits have included complaints about sensitive stories, attempts to secure more “balanced” coverage and formal notes of complaint.

 

Visit by the head of the press department of the Chinese embassy to my editor at the foreign desk – he delivered a nearly two-hour lecture on my “biased”, “not objective”, “negative” reporting. Half of it was being read out from several pages of a prepared script. There was some critique of me allegedly attacking Xi Jinping. But the main line was: “Your correspondent is questioning the system.” My editor has had visits like this before, including when my predecessor was in Beijing. But this time, he said, was “the crassest”

-German correspondent

 

Consular officials in the home city of my newspaper demanded a meeting with my editors after they became unhappy about my coverage.

-U.S. correspondent

 

SURVEILLANCE AND CENSORSHIP BY AUTHORITIES

Correspondents have long doubted the security of their communications and privacy where they live and work in China. This year, 85% said they worried about violations of privacy in phone calls and SMS messages, while 89% said they worried about their ability to communicate privately over the Internet, through email and Chinese social messaging applications (WeChat). Another 69% expressed concern over listening devices installed at home and at the office.

 

Censorship of foreign media organizations continues, with authorities blocking Internet access in China to The Economist and Time following cover articles about Xi Jinping.

 

Further reading here.

 

Media outlets that continue to be blocked in China include Wall Street Journal, South China Morning Post, Bloomberg, Reuters and New York Times.

 

Some respondents provided concerning examples of electronic intrusions.

 

My laptop was hacked by someone, and a story I was writing (about the CPC) was prefaced in a new typeface by the remark: “The glorious CPC, with you always”

-western correspondent

 

It’s clear that sources we have contacted have been harassed after our communication with them, following the bugging of our phones, etc. When in sensitive areas communication devices like Internet dongles have been blocked.

-western correspondent

 

We had several occasions where it became obvious to us that our offices had been “visited” over night. The point of it seemed to have been to leave us the message that we are being watched. We filed a complaint via the embassy. It has stopped so far.

-German broadcaster

 

“The day before G20, my email was hacked twice. WeChat and WhatApp stopped working. I had to change all of my passwords to restart them”

–European correspondent

 

GENERAL CLIMATE

Respondents broadly agree that reporting conditions in China rarely meet international standards, with 50% saying this is “not usually” the case and 48% saying it is “almost never” true. Two respondents said China “usually” meets international standards.

 

One respondent said reporting conditions have improved, while 77% said conditions have either remained the same (48%) or deteriorated (29%), roughly in line with results from the 2015 survey. (The remainder offered no opinion, or said they had not been in China sufficiently long to judge).

 

The worsening in conditions includes additional pressure exerted on news organizations and mounting difficulties in securing interviews with knowledgeable sources. Such problems have also begun to extend beyond the borders of Mainland China, respondents said.

 

More people (mostly academics, NGOs) tell you straight up that being interviewed by foreign media is not an option. One NGO specified: ‘out of self-protection’.

-FCCC member

 

Many old sources, particularly scholars, who have long been media-friendly, are now too scared to be interviewed. Many schools and institutions now require interviewees’ colleagues to sit in on interviews to monitor what they say.

-U.S. broadcaster

 

“I do notice that certain sources, especially academic, seem less willing to talk, on the record or at all — including one even in Hong Kong, which has never happened to me before.”

-FCCC member

 

STAGED PRESS CONFERENCES

Chinese officials continue to try to manipulate media coverage by only allowing reporters whose questions are submitted and approved in advance to ask questions at important press conferences, particularly at – though not limited to – the annual National People’s Congress media availability with the Chinese premier. Chinese officials sometimes justify this on the grounds of screening out irrelevant questions.

 

This practice is not new, and China may not be the only one to do it, but acceding to such requirements violates standard international journalistic ethics. Some media have written policies explicitly banning reporters from submitting questions for pre-screening. Our survey found 75% of respondents do not think they should participate, down slightly from last year.

 

Our survey question on this topic generated more comments than any other, indicating the degree to which correspondents wrestle with an issue that heavily influences the practice of journalism in China.

 

I find it quite disturbing, but these are the Chinese rules. We live here and I think we have to get used to them, and try to do our best – even if we cannot have the answers we’d like.

-European broadcaster

 

FCCC members should not take part in pre-arranged so-called press conferences or ask pre-approved questions.

–Peter Svaar, Asia correspondent, Norwegian Broadcasting

YEAR-ON-YEAR COMPARATIVE FIGURES

2016 2015
Respondents have experienced interference 57% 57%
Respondents have experienced manhandling or violence 8% 4%
Respondents have been obstructed by unknown persons 26% 22%
News assistants have been harassed or pressured by government officials 33% 31%
Sources have been harassed, detained or questioned 26% 34%
Respondents who have tried to report form  Tibet-inhabited ares have encountered problems 60% 75%
Respondents who have tried to report from Xinjiang have encountered problems 44% 72%
Respondents have received pressure on editors at headquarter 18% 22%
Reporting conditions have remained the same 48% 44%
Reporting conditions have deteriorated 29% 33%

FCCC Administration Office
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: www.fccchina.org

 

19 November 2016

 

 

October 22, 2016 Board minutes

October 22, 2016 Board minutes

Income Statement – October 2016

Income Statement – October 2016

Start at the top and work down to fight corruption, says top Indian graft buster

Dr. Subramanian Swamy, member of India's parliament, discusses his country's fight against corruption Dr. Subramanian Swamy, member of India’s parliament, discusses his country’s fight against corruption

Going after the corrupt elite is the only way to prevent corruption on all levels of society, according to politician and graft buster Dr. Subramanian Swamy in a club lunch discussing the issue and how it affects India.

And if you want to prevent so-called ‘black money’ – corrupt money kept seemingly at arm’s length in overseas accounts – from lining the pockets of greedy officials, take the lead of the German government, which in the Liechtenstein tax scandal of 2008 ended up paying off a bank employee to hand over a list of clients who were ferreting money away, he said.

Mr Swamy, a member of India’s parliament, has been highlighting corruption in government for several years and is currently awaiting the trial of Sonia Gandhi – President of the main opposition Indian National Congress party, and her son, Rahul, on graft charges. The Gandhis — part of the famous political dynasty that includes India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his daughter Indira Gandhi – are alleged to have illegally acquired the now-defunct National Herald newspaper’s assets after buying its publisher through a new private company, Young Indian, using a loan from party funds.

The Ghandis are currently on bail awaiting the start of the trial on December 9.

Dr Swamy has used the courts in order to go after the most influential people in the country and played a major role in exposing the 2G spectrum scam. He spends most of his time poring over documents and legal framework to determine whether laws have been broken by those alleged to be engaged in corrupt practices.

Mr Swamy uses a mathematical analysis based on the probability of detection to explain how people come to accept bribes. He concludes that the cost to the corrupt person of being caught, and probability-weighted average with the value of the gain from the corrupt act proves that even if the probability of detection is low, if the cost to the corrupt of detection is some big multiple of the gain from the corrupt act, every rational person would voluntarily choose not to bribe or accept a bribe.

But he says corruption isn’t only a temptation of the elite – in India it filters down to all sections of society. He said that despite having the checks and balances of the judiciary and the media, corruption was still widespread as people felt over-taxed throughout the country.

But he added: “Unless you catch the people at the top you cannot create the necessary fear factor for those at the bottom.”

When asked about the recent demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 bank notes in India in a bid to uncover billions of dollars in undeclared wealth, Dr Swamy criticised the government for a lack of contingency plan to ensure ordinary citizens were not left without cash.

Glimpses Over The Edge: Photographs of Refugees – exhibition opens

Glimpses Over The Edge: Photographs of Refugees Glimpses Over The Edge: Photographs of Refugees

Alexander Treves opened his wall exhibition at the FCC on November 3 with a plea to act to help the world’s refugees.

His book, Glimpses Over The Edge: Photographs of Refugees, details the plight of the world’s displaced.

In a statement, he said: “There are now more than 60 million people displaced by conflict, violence or persecution across our planet, a greater number than at any time since the end of the Second World War. The problem is broader than many people realise, extending to our own doorstep in Hong Kong.

“The photographs for this project were taken in twelve different countries and in many different circumstances, a reflection of the diversity of the refugee experience.

“For all of the scale of this global disaster, ultimately it matters at a personal level. The mass of the displaced is of course comprised of 60 million individual stories, 60 million individual lives.

“The formidable size of the problem can’t be a justification for inaction. If each of us cannot easily fix the root causes of displacement, we absolutely can help people who find themselves in that wretched situation: the terms of their plight are not inevitable.

Alexander Treves signs copies of his book, Glimpses Over The Edge: Photographs of Refugees, at the FCC. Alexander Treves signs copies of his book, Glimpses Over The Edge: Photographs of Refugees, at the FCC.

“Even moderate assistance can make all of the difference in the world to someone like you or like me who somehow has been uprooted from their home and has come close to losing everything. Aid directed effectively can help individuals who’ve slipped over the edge.

Justice Centre Hong Kong assists refugees in our city. Please support them.”

China was ‘lawless’ and ‘brazen’ in booksellers abduction incident, PEN America report finds

Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN America, released the findings of a report into the Causeway Bay booksellers incident Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN America, released the findings of a report into the Causeway Bay booksellers incident

China’s lawless and brazen actions in reaching across boundaries to detain five Hong Kong booksellers has set a chilling precedent that should not be allowed to happen again, according to the conclusion of a report by PEN America.

Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN America, an association of prominent literary writers and editors that works to advance literature and to defend free expression, set out the findings of a report into the incident which made headlines around the world. She told a packed FCC on November 5 that the incident called into question the strength and force of the One Country, Two Systems framework, adding: “Around the world, the role and position of Hong Kong was called into question.”

Nossel also warned that China’s willingness to insist that ethnicity trumps nationality – one of the booksellers was Swedish, another British – was a ‘really worrying development’ which could in the future impact on Chinese people around the world.

Lam Wing-kee, one of the abducted men, spoke as a member of a panel at the FCC which also included the most senior member of the Hong Kong legislative council, James To, and Bao Pu, a well-known Hong Kong publisher of books about the Chinese government. Lam accused Chinese president Xi Jinping of being a ‘stubborn and close-minded’ authoritarian desperate to keep his CCP members in check. He said officials like Zhou Yongkang and Bo Xilai – both jailed for corruption – were ‘pushed off their thrones’ but added: “There are plenty we don’t know about.”

Speaking through an interpreter, Lam, the founder of Causeway Bay Books who was detained in China for eight months and made to give a false confession, warned that China was intent on restricting the freedoms of the people of Hong Kong. He said: “This case shows undoubtedly that the Chinese government is tightening its rule over Hong Kong.”

He cited the recent announcement from Beijing that it would issue a new interpretation of the Basic Law – Hong Kong’s constitution – following the controversial swearing in of two young pro-independence lawmakers, as well as the Hong Kong government’s call for a judicial review on the matter. “This not only shows that the Hong Kong government has been reduced merely to a pawn of Beijing, it also shows Beijing wants to maintain control over Hong Kong as soon as possible.”

Lam said that the rise of the pro-democracy and pro-independence movements in Hong Kong was a result of ‘the Chinese government’s severe interference with Hong Kong affairs’ since the handover. But he added: “Hong Kong people are still fighting and should not give up.”

Bao explained to the press conference how the Chinese government was using its AVIP project – China’s crackdown on what it sees as insulting or vulgar content – to silence those publishing any material potentially embarrassing to the government. Since 2010 it was also tasked with ensuring that such material was not distributed in Hong Kong, including a move to suppress media outlets in the city and target those printing such material.

He added that the legal framework supporting One Country, Two Systems was Hong Kong’s greatest asset, and that China’s recent actions were ‘not strictly legal.’

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