Posts Tagged ‘Beijing’

Rare Protests in Beijing Condemn Forced Evictions

December 10, 2017

Recently evicted migrant workers claim China’s capital has violated their human rights

BEIJING—Migrant workers held a rare demonstration in China’s capital on Sunday, with several hundred protesting outside a local government office that recent forced evictions across the city violated human rights.

The uncommon show of resistance by migrant workers seems to be the first protest since the Beijing government began sweeping evictions last month following a deadly fire in a slum tenement on the city’s southern outskirts. Those evictions have drawn angry critiques from middle class professionals, while many of the workers left the city quietly.

In Feijia Village, on the city’s northeastern fringe, protesters hung a large white banner reading “Violation of Human Rights” across the front gate of the village committee office, according to smartphone videos verified by people on the scene. One man repeatedly yelled “violent evictions,” and the crowd chanted back, “violate human rights.”

The protest lasted several hours in midday, with the crowds growing to several hundred people before police dispersed them, according to eyewitnesses.

Employees in the Feijia government office declined to comment and wouldn’t say if police detained protesters.

The protest came on the same day the U.S., Canada, and the European Union unusually issued near-identical statements condemning China on international human rights day. In previous years, embassies would each issue their own statement. Sunday’s statements, which didn’t mention the evictions, criticized China for continued violations of freedom of speech and religion, and prosecution of human-rights lawyers.

Feijia is one of dozens of neighborhoods across Beijing where local authorities have evicted residents on short notice in recent weeks, citing code violations. Many of those evicted in Feijia were angry because they had belongings destroyed, residents said.

It was unclear how the protest began or if it was organized to coincide with international human rights day. In past years, social activists and petitioners have organized protests in Beijing outside United Nations offices and other notable buildings to mark the day, with protesters quickly detained.

Write to Eva Dou at


The Underclass That Threatens Xi’s ‘China Dream’ — “Low End Workers” Being Swept Out of Beijing — The Marxist Contradictions That Kill Communism

December 5, 2017

Beijing’s mass evictions of migrants cast a chill over Xi’s lofty equality goals

SHANGHAI—As a Marxist thinker who sees the world in terms of titanic struggles between opposing social forces, Xi Jinping has put his finger on China’s main challenge.

It is, he told a Communist Party gathering in October, the conflict between people’s desire for a better life and “unbalanced and inadequate development.” In a commentary, Xinhua News Agency explained that if such a “principal contradiction” is left unresolved, “it can lead to chaos and eventually, as Marx predicted, to revolution.”

The first test of this new dialectic wasn’t long in coming. A fire that killed 19 migrant workers in a tenement on Beijing’s outskirts highlighted the inequalities Mr. Xi was alluding to. Rural migrants built modern Beijing and other megacities as welders and scaffolders, painters and plasterers. They now collect the trash, deliver lunchboxes to gleaming office towers, nanny the babies of affluent families and guard the mansions of the superrich.

The answer from Beijing authorities to the tragedy: flatten migrants’ dilapidated dwellings and expel the capital’s most vulnerable inhabitants.

If this is how Mr. Xi intends to resolve the contradictions that cloud China’s future, expect trouble ahead.

A popular revolt isn’t in the cards. The migrants themselves, dazed and fearful, have mostly submitted to their fate. They have few means to organize. Many simply melted back to their villages

Still, the plight of tens of thousands of refugees, dragging their wheeled suitcases through rubble in subzero temperatures, struck a chord among Beijing’s middle classes. Some donated food and blankets. Critics threw back at authorities the disdainful official appellation for the urban underclass: “low-end population.” Internet censors quickly blocked the term.

A group of lawyers, artists and public intellectuals were so scandalized they circulated a signed petition online that attacked what they called “a serious violation of human rights.”

It remains to be seen how long this sympathy will last. Beijingers in general resent migrants for swamping city services, bringing crime, clogging the streets with unlicensed motorbikes and depleting scarce water resources.

Yet wealthy urbanites have their own jumble of contradictions to resolve. After decades of frenetic economic growth they are demanding cleaner air and safer food. Many are angry at corruption that buys coveted school places and access to hospitals. The social compact in which citizens traded away political freedom for economic prosperity is fraying. Increasingly, a demanding public expects the government to listen and respond sensitively to its grievances.

Mr. Xi has recognized all these pressures, hence his drive to deliver improved living conditions even as the economy slows. So far, he’s scored highly with an anticorruption campaign, along with efforts to combat air pollution and restore blue skies.

The big question facing the Xi administration is whether these contradictions will eventually yield to his style of governance: ruthlessly authoritarian, focused on imposing top-down discipline rather than canvassing diverse views from society below. Beijing has set strict population-control targets and many residents believe authorities used the tenement fire merely as an excuse to squeeze out migrants.

Behind Mr. Xi’s confident narrative about his country’s emergence as a global superpower at the recent 19th Communist Party Congress is a more fragile reality.

China’s invincible rise is a myth. The contradictions have grown big enough to threaten the party’s rule. A deep cleavage between privileged urban dwellers and the rural poor who serve them could limit the country’s economic prospects for decades to come. Half the country pursues Mr. Xi’s “China Dream” of wealth and power; the other half—the ones still picking their way through Beijing’s blitzed slums—could derail it.

On the outskirts of Beijing, people have been packing up and leaving their homes after receiving eviction notices.Photo: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Scott Rozelle, a professor at Stanford University, has conducted large-scale surveys on education and health care in what he calls “the other China”—rural hinterlands that are home to 500 million people and produce the migrants. Among his findings: Most kids are sick or malnourished and up to two-thirds struggle with combinations of anemia, worms and uncorrected myopia that set them back at school. More than half the toddlers are so cognitively delayed their IQs will never exceed 90.

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Because of rural backwardness, only 24% of China’s labor force has a high-school education. China ranks dead last among middle-income countries in terms of human capital, says Mr. Rozelle.

The West tracks Mr. Xi’s progress by the billions of dollars he spends on ports and high-speed railways for his Eurasian “Belt and Road” megaproject, by the fortunes he lavishes on robotics and other high-tech industries at home and the even larger sums devoted to his naval buildup.

As Mr. Xi himself suggests, these are the wrong metrics. The Marxist contradictions that challenge his rule don’t necessarily require huge spending: $20 on a pair of glasses to correct a child’s blurred vision; $1 for worm medication. But they do demand responsive governance. The evictions in Beijing during the depths of winter have cast a chill over Mr. Xi’s lofty new message.

Write to Andrew Browne at


Beijing Evicting “Low End Population” — Make way for the “harmonious” and “beautiful” China

December 3, 2017

As the Chinese capital sets about evicting workers unfortunately described as the ‘low-end population’, two cornerstones of the country’s economic miracle seem to have come head to head: real estate and cheap labour


In the end, those four characters had to go, never to be seen or mentioned again: di-duan-ren-kou, or “low-end population”. A cold bureaucratic definition of low value-added manual jobs that somehow expanded to designate the people who do those jobs, has caused as much heartburn as the harsh spectacle of Beijing’s ongoing eviction of the people who fit that description. The censors have now banned that word from social media and elsewhere.

In an angry WeChat post, the writer-filmmaker Xu Xing said: “Low-end population – who invented those four characters? I’m over 60 and I’ve never heard anything like that. When I was in Germany it was a crime to use this expression.”

Tibetans to Sri Lankans, India welcomed all. Why not Rohingya Muslims?

“Migrant workers do not read government documents, so they had no idea that this is what they were called,” says Professor Jiang, an academic who studies the new Chinese working class and prefers to be referred to only by his last name. “Now they have discovered that they are second-class citizens.”

It all began on November 18, when a fire killed 19 migrants in the village of Xinjiancun – part of the southern suburb of Daxing in Beijing. The Beijing government immediately ordered a 40-day campaign to demolish thousands of unauthorised houses in the city and evict the migrant workers occupying these rickety premises.

A Chinese security guard reads posters saying a clothes market has been closed due to Beijing’s new urban planning policy. The drive is seen by many as an attempt to force lower-income residents out of the city. Photo: EPA

The execution has been rapid and clinically efficient, wiping out whole neighbourhoods. Xinjiancun has been razed. A textile factory worker points to the rubble, saying many of her colleagues once lived right there. “Now they are theoretically still working here but they have lost their homes and disappeared,” she says. “They have to find their own housing now.”

The migrant workers falling into debt traps in Singapore’s casinos

In Picun, one of the villages in the northern belt of Beijing, officials used a softer strategy, but it hit just as hard in the biting cold. Power and heating were cut off in two buildings occupied by migrant workers. As one of the stated government goals is to reduce coal-fired homes, the authorities are entirely within their rights, no matter how ruthless it looks.

People are taking away their belongings, filing out through the dark and cold corridors. I try to engage a woman dragging away a suitcase, asking her how she feels being called “low-end”. She isn’t interested, and asks me to leave. Right now she doesn’t care what she is called – there are far more pressing matters on hand.

A flat on the outskirts of Beijing, abandoned by migrant workers driven out by Beijing’s new urban planning policy. Photo: AP

According to Jiang, what’s coming is a new wave of real estate speculation. In 2005, a resolution by the National People’s Congress identified 33 pilot counties, cities and districts that would have to “temporarily adjust and implement the Land Administration Law” while the authorities go about “getting the city into the countryside”, or turning rural land into attractive residential area. Daxing is one of those 33 pilot zones.

Whatever the official rationale for the eviction, Beijingers are perplexed at how these evictions in sub-zero temperatures could possibly be helping the cause of “harmonious” and “beautiful” China. And the drive is hurting them too. “They sent my ayi [housekeeper] so far away that now she has to travel two and a half hours to come to Beijing,” says a woman who lives near the second ring road. “What happens to the delivery boy who brings me the goods I buy on Taobao, or the guy who replaces the water tank in the office every day?”

Migrant workers leave Xinjiancun in Daxing district, Beijing, following the citywide fire safety inspection. Photo: Reuters

Suddenly two cornerstones of the Chinese economic miracle seem to have come head to head: real estate and cheap labour.

Jiang thinks that sooner or later the government will establish quotas. “Maybe a certain number of ayi and delivery boys for a certain number of city dwellers, by area or zone. And maybe, those who remain will have a Beijing hukou [household registration] and decent and affordable accommodation.”


The others will go far, far away from Beijing.

Beijing kindergartens get permanent inspectors after abuse scandal

November 27, 2017

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A woman standing next to a stroller looks through the gate, outside the kindergarten run by pre-school operator RYB Education Inc being investigated by China’s police, in Beijing, China Nov 24, 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Jason Lee)

SHANGHAI: Beijing will hire permanent inspectors to provide oversight at every one of its kindergartens following child abuse allegations at a facility run by the New York-listed RYB Education, state news agency Xinhua said late on Sunday (Nov 26).

The Beijing Municipal Education Commission said educational inspectors stationed at kindergartens throughout the city will submit reports on safety, sanitation and management to a central database, according to the Xinhua report.

It said safety checks are currently underway and kindergartens will be ordered to make immediate improvements should problems be found.

RYB Education said late on Saturday it had fired the head of one of its kindergartens as well as a 22-year-old female teacher following allegations that children were abused.

Xinhua reported earlier that police were checking allegations that children were “reportedly sexually molested, pierced by needles and given unidentified pills”.

The scandal has sparked outrage throughout China and RYB’s New York-listed shares plunged 38.4 per cent on Friday.

Source: Reuters/zl


Chinese police detain teacher in kindergarten abuse inquiry

November 25, 2017

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A parent is surrounded by members of the media outside the kindergarten run by pre-school operator RYB Education Inc being investigated by China’s police, in Beijing, China November 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) – Beijing police investigating alleged child abuse at a kindergarten run by RYB Education Inc said on Saturday they had detained a teacher, in the latest scandal to hit China’s booming childcare industry.

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A security camera is pictured at the kindergarten run by pre-school operator RYB Education Inc being investigated by China’s police, in Beijing, China November 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Police in the Chaoyang district said it will further investigate claims of abuse after China’s official Xinhua news agency reported this week they were checking allegations that children at the nursery were “reportedly sexually molested, pierced by needles and given unidentified pills”.

Chaoyang district police said in an online posting on Saturday they had detained a 22-year-old teacher, surnamed Liu from the Hebei province adjacent to Beijing.

Police have also arrested another person, also surnamed Liu, for allegedly disrupting social order by spreading false information about the alleged kindergarten abuse, it said in a separate posting.

RYB’s New York-listed shares plunged 38.4 percent on Friday as the scandal sparked outrage among parents and the public.

A child walks with a parent at the kindergarten run by pre-school operator RYB Education Inc being investigated by China’s police, in Beijing, China November 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee

The second woman, 31, and a Beijing native, was arrested on Thursday, police said.

Parents said their children, some as young as three, gave accounts of a naked adult male conducting purported “medical check-ups” on unclothed students, other media said.

RYB provides early education services in China and at the end of June was operating 80 kindergartens and had franchised an additional 175, covering 130 cities and towns in China.

Meanwhile, Beijing city authorities have urged RYB to remove the head of the kindergarten, Xinhua reported.

The Chaoyang district has launched an investigation into all childcare facilities in its area, the report said.

Reporting by Shu Zhang and Josephine Mason; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Clelia Oziel


China kindergarten sex abuse and ‘needlemarks’ claims prompt police probe

November 24, 2017

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A parent is surrounded by members of the media outside the kindergarten run by pre-school operator RYB Education Inc being investigated by China’s police, in Beijing, China November 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee Reuters

By Philip Wen and Adam Jourdan

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Chinese police are investigating claims of sexual molestation and needlemarks on children at a Beijing kindergarten run by RYB Education Inc, the latest case in a booming childcare industry to spark outrage among parents, sending the company’s New York-listed shares tumbling on Friday.

The official Xinhua news agency said late on Thursday that police were checking allegations that some teachers and staff at the kindergarten had abused children, who were “reportedly sexually molested, pierced by needles and given unidentified pills”.

Shares in RYB plunged 38 percent on the New York Stock Exchange early on Friday, almost wiping out most of the 44 percent rise in the Chinese company’s stock since its IPO in September.

Parents said their children, some as young as three, relayed troubling accounts of a naked adult male conducting purported “medical check-ups” on students, who were also unclothed, other media said.

Some parents, who gathered outside the school to demand answers on Thursday, said their children gave matching accounts of being fed unidentified tablets and of punishments where students were “made to stand” naked in class, media said.

The welfare of children in professional care has become a hot-button issue in China, where a string of high-profile cases of abuse has underlined lax regulations and supervision in the childcare and early learning industry.

“We deeply apologise for the serious anxiety this matter has brought to parents and society,” RYB said in a statement on its official microblog on Friday, adding that it was helping authorities.

“We are currently working with the police to provide relevant surveillance materials and equipment; the teachers in question have been suspended and we are co-operating with the police investigation,” it said.


The school’s principal had lodged a police report against “individuals who have engaged in false accusations and framing”, it said, without elaborating.

Beijing police did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.

In a statement before its shares opened trade on Friday, RYB said it was planning a $50 million share buy-back programme and had established a special task force led by independent company directors to do a “thorough self-inspection across all teaching facilities”.

China’s education ministry has begun a special investigation into the operation of kindergartens, it said in a statement on Thursday, and told education departments nationwide to “take warning from these types of incidents”.

Separate incidents in China of children being slapped, beaten with a stick and having their mouths sealed shut with duct tape have also gone viral and fuelled anger online.

News of the investigation into the Beijing kindergarten triggered a wave of outrage on social media, with more than 76 million mentions of “RYB” on Tencent Holdings Ltd’s <0700.HK> WeChat messaging service on Thursday.

“These may be individual cases but the deeper problems they reflect cannot be overlooked,” a Xinhua editorial said. “Laws must be enforced, supervision strengthened, teacher wages increased. The childcare industry cannot be allowed to grow in an uncivilised fashion.”


Chinese education providers have been attracting major investment, while others have sought global listings, latching onto fast-growing demand from parents for high-end education services.

Before Friday, shares in RYB had been up about 44 percent since a September New York listing, giving it a market value of nearly $766 million.

This was not the first case of alleged abuse at an RYB school.

In 2015, a court in Jilin province found two teachers guilty of physically abusing children at one of its kindergartens in the city of Siping. In that case, staff at the school on “multiple occasions used needles and intimidation tactics to abuse many of the children under their care”, according to the court ruling document.

Earlier this year, RYB said it had found “serious mistakes” at another one of its Beijing schools and had asked the principal to step down after videos emerged showing teachers hitting and pushing children.

State television broadcast images of police and angry parents gathered outside the school in Beijing on Thursday, calling for answers.

On Friday, one father leaving the school said he had been there to cancel his son’s enrolment and demand a refund.

Another parent, 36-year-old Wang Siqi, said she took the day off work to demand answers, even though her six-year-old son does not attend the school.

“As a mother when I saw this news I really couldn’t take it,” she said. “This is unforgivable.”

RYB says on its website it runs a network of more than 1,300 directly owned and franchised play-and-learn centres and nearly 500 kindergartens for children up to age six in about 300 Chinese cities and towns.

(Reporting by Philip Wen and Gao Liangping in BEIJING and Adam Jourdan and Wang Jing in SHANGHAI; Additional reporting by Irene Wang in BEIJING, Medha Singh in BENGALURU and Meg Shen in HONG KONG; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Tony Munroe, Clarence Fernandez and Nick Macfie)

See also:

Beijing nursery ‘needle abuse’ of children shocks China

China pollution, ‘Belt and Road’ may aid iron ore, coal amid steel slowdown

October 30, 2017

London (Platts)–30 Oct 2017 811 am EDT/1211 GMT


Iron ore and coal miners may have been reassured last week as China’s National Congress showcased stronger determination to tackle pollution in lifting living standards, a move likely achieved by more higher-grade raw materials and imports.

China is looking to cut pollution by curbing steel output and at domestic processing plants this winter.

This creates the incentive for importing higher grade iron ore to operate at the remaining operating plants, and for boosting productivity when restrictions are lifted during the seven or so months outside winter.

At the same time, China’s steel-reliant “Belt and Road” initiative — a plan to build and strengthen overland and sea logistics routes across Asia and into Africa — was added into China’s constitution. This is the strongest indication for infrastructure shaping China’s trade and foreign policy.

A stronger signal for optimism in seaborne steel raw materials trade is that China looks to be taking on pollution cutting seriously.

This year marks the first winter steel and aluminum plants will be idled for months at a time to improve air quality. And this may become a regular seasonal occurrence, Russian aluminum producer Rusal indicated to investors in August.

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China with smog…

China may reduce steel production by about 33 million mt between mid-November and the end of March 2018, based on S&P Global Platts estimates published Friday.

These cuts, which comprise 3.9% of China’s projected 2017 crude steel output, are taking place across the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Henan and Shanxi plus Beijing and Tianjin, and may provide longer term support to currently robust steel margins.

As President Xi Jinping stressed at the National Congress, much remains to be done to cut and improve pollution levels.

Processing iron with less slag emitted, and cutting coke and other energy consumption may be a benefit and aid demand for seaborne cargoes, especially at coastal plants.

“We believe environmental measures are more a reality than they were before, this is supportive for iron ore premiums, for higher quality iron ore,” a steel and iron ore industry analyst said.

Iron ore prices have been volatile, rising during China’s summer, before falling back in September, with a wider price spread between high and low grade ores.

A drop for 62% Fe fines to below $50/dry mt CFR China against current quality-based pricing adjustments may spell danger for cash margins at lower quality Australian mines.

Prices for IODEX 62% Fe fines closed Friday at $59.10/dmt CFR China, dropping $3.20/dmt from Thursday. IODEX averaged at almost $70/dmt in September.

Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group said Chinese steel mill profitability remaining at historically high levels “continues to incentivize blast furnaces to maximize production supporting the premium for higher grade iron ore,” in an update report Thursday.

“This has maintained the spread in prices between iron ore grades and these are expected to remain in the near term,” the Australian company said.

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FMG cut its July 2017-June 2018 price guidance for its ore to price at a lower 70%-75% ratio of the Platts 62% Fe IODEX CFR index, from its earlier estimate of achieving 75%-80% of IODEX.High grade iron ore and pellet prices this year into China have increased premiums over reference import 62% Fe fines to new highs.

For 65% Fe fines pricing, this premium is exceeding 30% on an equivalent iron content and gangue basis in the past month.

S&P Global Market Intelligence expects 62% Fe reference fines to average at $64.10/dmt CFR China in Q4 2017 and prices to fall further in 2018 and 2019.

“Prominent volatility and continued environmental pressures [are expected to] enact stronger downward forces on 58% Fe prices,” an S&P Global research report Friday said.

China coking coal imports surged by 24% so far over this year, while China’s blast furnace iron output rose around 3.5%.

Additional steel output-tied demand, looks to have prioritized imported raw materials. Potential for a price arbitrage between domestic Chinese materials against imports from spot markets is adding interest.

Without drivers of additional steel demand, analysts are expecting a slowdown in several steel consuming sectors in China next year may lead to flatter steel output growth.

Support from infrastructure may be welcomed. The indoctrination of the Belt and Road infrastructure initiative into the construction may help it to be carried out to a stronger conclusion and implemented at the grandest scale outlined in blueprints, withstanding wider political backing.

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 Chinese steel mill

Steel-fed railways and other haulage and logistics chains and terminals needing steel, cement, and power may crisscross Eurasia and Southeast Asia.

Beijing has a desire for new markets to help reduce its overcapacity in steel and cement, and this is seen in the Belt and Road’s focus on infrastructure, and rail lines, according to Howard French, a China expert, and author.


Beijing and the commodity markets may see the Belt and Road scheme providing China with another lever in managing domestic steel demand and output.

The Belt and Road may serve as a stop gap in a wider transition in China to greater consumerism from the economy’s reliance on investing in heavy industry and construction within China.

It may aid demand for raw materials imports as domestic steel usage slows or slips.

“Companies who supply steel, aluminum, cement and other construction-related materials,” will stand to immediately benefit from the Belt and Road Initiative, according to HSBC bank’s website, with a section dedicated to the project and its financing and investment needs.

Tata Steel Managing Director TV Narendran, in his role as chairman of World Steel Association’s economics committee, said this month that Belt and Road will have an impact on countries participating in it, reflected in the steel demand forecast of those countries, rather than China itself.

But China’s steel exports could fill some of the neighboring demand generated by the project.

The Belt and Road is not expected to help demand for Russian steel, with the networks in southern Eurasia more likely to be the focus, said a source at an industrial steel and mining group.

It may be good for Chinese steel, and any benefit may be indirect in supporting the seaborne coal and iron ore markets, he said.

“Africa could be the one that needs more steel than Belt and Road,” he added.

–Hector Forster,
–Edited by Richard Rubin,


China summons British official over Hong Kong remarks — Treatment of human rights activists? — “Hong Kong is part of China.” — A matter of Chinese sovereignty

October 20, 2017

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BEIJING (Reuters) – China has summoned a British official in Beijing and lodged “stern representations” about recent comments from London expressing concern about a British rights activist being denied entry to Hong Kong, it said on Friday.

Ben Rogers, a co-founder of Britain’s ruling Conservative Party’s Human Rights Commission, has been a vocal critic of Chinese-ruled Hong Kong’s treatment of human rights activists, including that of jailed student protest leader Joshua Wong.

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Hong Kong student protest leader Joshua Wong

He was denied entry to Hong Kong on Oct. 11. Britain said on Tuesday it had summoned the Chinese ambassador to express its concern.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang reiterated that Hong Kong is part of China, and the central government handles Hong Kong’s foreign affairs and Beijing and Hong Kong decide who to let in or not as a matter of Chinese sovereignty.

Lu Kang

“China has already summoned in an official from the British Embassy in Beijing, and lodged stern representations about Britain’s recent series of wrong remarks and actions on this issue,” Lu told a daily news briefing.

“I must to stress here that Hong Kong matters are purely an internal affair of China‘s. China will not permit any government, organization or individual to interfere in China’s internal affairs in any way.”

Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997, is governed under a “one country, two systems” formula that promises it a higher degree of autonomy and freedom than on the mainland.

Last week, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said London needed an explanation from Hong Kong and Beijing about the treatment of Rogers.

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Reporting by Martin Pollard; Writing Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel



Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said he is “very concerned” after a British human rights activist was denied entry to Hong Kong.

Benedict Rogers has been a vocal critic of Chinese-ruled Hong Kong’s human rights record.

Mr Johnson said he would seek an “urgent explanation” from the Hong Kong authorities and the Chinese government.

Mr Rogers told Reuters he was not given a reason for being denied entry and was escorted on a flight back to Bangkok.

He is co-founder of the Conservative Party’s Human Rights Commission.

Mr Johnson said: “I am very concerned that a UK national has been denied entry to Hong Kong.

“The British government will be seeking an urgent explanation from the Hong Kong authorities and from the Chinese government.

“Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, and its rights and freedoms, are central to its way of life and should be fully respected.”

The city was handed back from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

Beijing agreed to govern it under “one country, two systems”, granting the city its own legal system, limited democracy with multiple political parties and rights such as freedom of assembly and free speech.

But China’s growing influence has been met with unease and concerns that the mainland could undermine Hong Kong’s more politically liberal traditions.

Activists have been campaigning for years for Hong Kong to have more political freedom.

Vince Cable raises doubts about Brexit ever happening — Plus a final salute to Sir David Tang

September 2, 2017

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FT Weekend Festival debates life after the EU and political polarisation in a post-truth era

by: Naomi Rovnick There is a growing possibility of a second referendum on Britain leaving the EU as tensions grow within the Conservative and Labour parties about the likelihood of a beneficial Brexit deal being achieved, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has said.

In a debate at the FT Weekend Festival held at Kenwood House in North London on Saturday, Mr Cable said: “I think there is more than a possibility that Brexit may never happen.

He added: “The balance of probability is still that it does, but there is a strong possibility of it being stopped because tensions within and between major parties are so large, that one or other may want to let the public decide on the facts whether this is something they want to go ahead with.”

Mr Cable, who became leader of the pro-EU Lib Dems at the age of 74, promising voters an “exit from Brexit,” was replying to a point made by pro-Brexit Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan who argued that Brexit would happen, but in a gradual and low-impact way.

Mr Hannan said: “The day after Brexit is going to look very much like the day before. It’s going to be a process. We will still have all the same rules and regulations we’ve assimilated for 44 years, but that’s the day the divergence can begin.”

Mr Hannan added that Britain would not be damaged by losing its access to the EU single market as it could have a “Swiss-style” deal that “keeps the essence of the single market,” despite not being a member. He also argued that leaving the EU would allow Britain to look towards a “more global future,” and strengthen trade links with non-EU economic powers.

Mr Cable, who has a reputation for being one of the most financially literate critics of British governments since 1997, argued there was “a real risk of a train crash” because it had become apparent the UK government was “woefully unprepared” for the Brexit negotiations that started with the EU in June.

The day after Brexit is going to look very much like the day before The Lib Dem leader said that prime minister Theresa May was struggling to prove Britain could strike good trade deals with non-EU economic powers. “We’ve just seen in the last few weeks how absurd this is,” he said.

“The PM has gone off to Japan to negotiate some special trade deal and they have said they would much rather deal with the EU. Mr Cable said that the government had asked India for a special deal on whisky and financial services, and that India had asked for more visas. “To which [Mrs May] said, ‘sorry we can’t, we are trying to keep people out,’ and the Indians said, ‘get on your bike’,” Mr Cable said.


Mr Hannan countered that it was normal for people to feel pessimistic about the future and that Britain had a chance of keeping the advantages of staying in the EU single market in the way Switzerland has. “We are a country of 65m people, an existing [EU] member state, a G7 country.

I can’t believe that we can’t get a similar deal,” he said. In an earlier session at the festival on fake news and social media,

Ms Gibson argued that Donald Trump’s presidential election victory was enabled by the US news audience having split into distinct information consumption spheres. “During an election campaign when the New York Times publishes a piece with maybe 162 examples of Donald Trump being mendacious,” she said, a large part of the non-NYT reading US audience would not have noticed.

“So Breitbart News jumps up and goes ‘Hillary Clinton! Emails!’ and that grabs the attention. That is polarisation.” Mr Barber said that polarisation of information and opinion had begun with the advent of Fox News and other cable news channels in the US, which “has been exacerbated by technology because it can amplify that phenomenon and it is incredibly good at picking out select groups.”

Mr Davis argued that the Facebook audience often knew to be selective about what they believed on the social platform, which has been used by some sites to spread fake news.

Ms Gibson countered: “I don’t believe people are always genuinely as sophisticated as that,” adding that some younger readers “do not know brands” enough to differentiate between trusted news brands and newer sites that may not be publishing truthful reports. An FT reader asked whether think tanks whose funding was not transparent were exacerbating the fake news phenomenon.

Ms Gibson said that when she was deputy editor of the Guardian, she had been taken in by a think-tank with an unknown agenda after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowdon provided the Guardian with top secret documents leading to revelations about surveillance of internet and phone communications. “On the Snowdon story, one [think-tank] said: ‘We want to do a day’s debate on the issues of privacy and national security.’

We took part and we worked with them for a really great seminar, and at the end I realised that the think-tank was funded entirely by [rightwing US billiona0ires] the Koch brothers,” Ms Gibson said. The Kochs “were probably the Guardian’s ideological worst enemies . . . We spent an entire day doing a think-tank with them,” she added.

Vince Cable on Brexit, ballroom dancing and keeping his balance

Financial Times


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David Tang in 2004. Photo by SAMANTHA SIN – AFP – Getty Images

Sir David Tang, who died this week, had been scheduled to speak at the festival. In his place Algy Cluff, a close friend and mentor, shared stories of the vivacious businessman and FT agony uncle.

Mr Cluff, a natural resources entrepreneur and former Grenadier Guardsman who Tang said he had modelled himself on, said he had only discovered by accident how well-connected Tang was.

Mr Cluff said that he hired Tang as an unpaid intern to help with a Chinese project after receiving a series of letters from him in the early 1980s. “I put him on probation for six months working with me, so he joined as my most lowly junior unpaid employee,” Mr Cluff said, adding that “my secretary kept coming in saying: ‘David wants you to have dinner with him’.”

Mr Cluff finally relented and went to a Chinese restaurant where he asked for Mr Tang. “The waiter bowed from the waist and took me down into a private room,” Mr Cluff said.

“And there David was presiding over a huge table where the guests included the Lord Chancellor and the chairman of ICI.”

Mr Cluff recalled how the Lord Chancellor’s wife commented: “How fortunate you are to be working for David.” Mr Cluff added: “I realised I’d met my match and began paying David a salary from then on.” FT House & Home editor Jane Owen also recalled dealing with Tang when his copy was late.

His excuses included “the Queen said you are working me too hard” and “Kate Moss says I need a day off,” she said. Mr Cluff added that during a banquet at China’s Great Hall of the People where the Chinese president and oil minister of the time were present, he told Tang: “You know, David, you’ve found a country that respects and welcomes foreign investment.”

Tang replied: “I wouldn’t be so sure” and Mr Cluff said that, sure enough, six months later he got a $50,000 bill for the banquet. Mr Cluff also remembered how, at a rehearsal for Mr Cluff’s wedding in Hong Kong, “we smelt burning and it turned out David had left his cigar on the alter”. Ms Owen added that Tang had still insisted on his sickbed that he was going to make a planned “goodbye” party on September 6 at the Dorchester, and that it would “only be 500 of my closest friends. I want it to be intimate”. Naomi Rovnick

See also:

Sir David Tang (1954–2017)


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Backlash in Hong Kong over China rail link (Beijing not worried…) — Hong Kong is being swallowed up by China

July 25, 2017


© AFP | The new rail project linking Hong Kong to the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou is one of a number of cross-border infrastructure projects, including a bridge to the mainland and the neighbouring casino enclave Macau

HONG KONG (AFP) – A plan for mainland border staff to be stationed on Hong Kong soil as part of a new rail link to China sparked a backlash Tuesday as concern grows about Beijing’s reach into the city.It is illegal for mainland law enforcers to operate in semi-autonomous Hong Kong under the city’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law.

But there are already concerns that Chinese operatives are working undercover after the alleged abductions of a city bookseller and a reclusive Chinese businessman.

The rail link plan comes at a time when fears are worsening that Hong Kong’s freedoms are under threat from an ever more assertive Beijing.

The high-speed connection out of the harbourfront West Kowloon station is set to open in 2018, linking to the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou 80 miles (130 km) away and then onto China’s national rail network.

A proposal backed by the Hong Kong government’s top advisory body Tuesday would see mainland border staff control a special immigration zone at the Hong Kong terminus.

There are already numerous transport connections between Hong Kong and the mainland, but Chinese immigration checks are done on the other side of the border.

City leader Carrie Lam insisted the new checkpoint arrangement was not a breach of the Basic Law and was designed to cut travel time.

“The crux of the matter is really to find a means that is legal to support this convenience for the people of Hong Kong,” Lam told reporters.

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Priscilla Leung said such joint immigration areas were common around the world and that Hong Kong would be “leasing” the portion of land at the terminus to China.

“Outside the zone both the officers and everyone else have to obey the laws in Hong Kong,” she told AFP.

But opponents say the new plan is a clear breach of the Basic Law and another sign that Hong Kong is being swallowed up by China.

Veteran lawyer and democracy advocate Martin Lee, who helped draft the Basic Law in the 1980s, said creating an exception within Hong Kong where mainland Chinese laws are enforced would set a “dangerous precedent”.

It would put at risk the semi-autonomous “one country, two systems” set-up guaranteed when Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997, Lee told AFP.

The government wanted to force through the plan to make Hong Kong people “feel closer to Beijing, the sovereign power”, added opposition legislator Claudia Mo.

The plan now needs approval from the city’s legislature, which is weighted towards the pro-China camp.

The rail link is one of a number of cross-border infrastructure projects, including a new bridge to the mainland and the neighbouring casino enclave Macau.

Passengers from Hong Kong could reach Beijing in under 10 hours on the new line, but controversies have plagued the project, with snowballing costs now at HK$84.42 billion ($10 billion).