Posts Tagged ‘Communist Party’

Activist Confesses to Subversion in Chinese Show Trial

August 22, 2017

BEIJING — A Chinese human rights attorney, who rose to prominence defending other activists, confessed to trying to overthrow the Communist Party on Tuesday, in a trial reported across the country and choreographed as an attack on liberal political ideas.

The attorney, Jiang Tianyong, was well known for his vociferous support of dissidents amid a nationwide crackdown on dissent. But at his trial in Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province in southern China, which was streamed live on the internet and shown on television news, a soft-spoken Mr. Jiang appeared defeated.

He pleaded guilty to inciting subversion of the state, voiced contrition in a calm, practiced voice, and asked for mercy. His wife and supporters said his confession was forced and possibly the result of torture after nearly a year in secret detention.

At trial, Mr. Jiang said he had been led astray by indoctrination in Western notions of the rule of law.

“What was the contents of the training?” a prosecutor asked Mr. Jiang, in proceedings broadcast on Weibo, China’s hugely popular social media network.

“It was mainly about the bourgeois Western constitutional system,” Mr. Jiang said. “It certainly had a subliminal influence on me. It gave me ideas about overturning our country’s present political system and introducing their political system into our country.”

The trial was a vivid illustration of President Xi Jinping’s efforts to discredit domestic critics, especially human rights activists, by depicting them as members of a conspiracy whose goal is toppling the Communist Party.

The televised drama of this and similar trials served as a “shock and a warning” to other Chinese human rights advocates, said Eva Pils, a law scholar at King’s College London who studies China’s human rights lawyers.

“To a wider TV audience, it is meant to discredit human rights defenders as people who fabricate stories that smear the image of the motherland for their own personal gain or self-promotion,” Ms. Pils said by email. “Over all, it has the effect of giving one a sense that the authorities are in control of the truth.”

The party has long cast dissidents as puppets of shadowy, hostile forces backed by the West. But Mr. Xi has redoubled that effort. A few months after coming to power, he demanded a systematic offensive against Western liberal ideas such as constitutionalism, and show trials have been increasingly used to impress such warnings on the Chinese public.

“I hope that other so-called rights defenders and defense lawyers will draw lessons from my example and let this serve as a warning,” Mr. Jiang said in a statement to the Changsha Intermediate People’s Court. “Give me a chance to become a new person.”

The court said a verdict would be announced at a later hearing but did not set a date. As a result of his public confession, Mr. Jiang may earn a lesser prison sentence or even a suspended sentence.

Born in rural central China, Mr. Jiang, 46, had taken on contentious rights cases for more than a decade. His clients included Chen Guangcheng, the human rights activist who escaped house arrest and fled to the American Embassy in Beijing before receiving asylum in the United States. Mr. Jiang has also represented members of Falun Gong, a banned spiritual sect.

The government rescinded Mr. Jiang’s license to practice law in 2009, but he continued advising dissidents and activists. He was meeting clients even after July 2015, when the Chinese police began a widespread clampdown on rights lawyers and their associates. About 250 people were detained in that crackdown.

Most of those lawyers were released with warnings after a few days or weeks in detention, but a core group was picked out for prosecution. A week ago, Wu Gan, an activist associated with the Fengrui Law Firm in Beijing and known by his internet handle, “Super Vulgar Butcher,” also stood trial for subversion. That hearing was not broadcast.

An interview with Mr. Jiang. Video by NTDChinaNewsChannel

At his trial, Mr. Jiang said he had taken up the cause of the detained lawyers to make trouble for the Chinese government.

He said he wanted to “achieve the goal of overturning the state and transforming the current political system by causing a fuss over these sensitive, hot spot incidents and vilifying and attacking our country’s government and legal organs.”

The Chinese government choreographed similar trials just over a year ago, when four lawyers and rights campaigners were shown on television confessing to subversion, and sentenced to prison terms of up to seven and a half years.

“No matter whether you forgive me or not, I am very sorry from the bottom of my heart,” Mr. Jiang told the court.

Mr. Jiang’s wife and supporters suggested the lawyer may have been tortured to obtain his confession, during his detention. International human rights groups denounced Mr. Jiang’s trial as a charade, because he had not been allowed his own lawyers, and was instead appointed lawyers by the court.

Three United Nations officials have denounced Mr. Jiang’s detention. One of them, Philip Alston, a former special rapporteur, visited Mr. Jiang just months before his arrest.

Mr. Jiang disappeared into custody in November 2016 when he was traveling to Changsha from Beijing to help Xie Yang, another Chinese rights lawyer held in detention. In January, Mr. Xie’s lawyers released detailed allegations that he had been tortured in custody, but at his trial in May he retracted those allegations and pleaded guilty to subversion and disrupting court proceedings.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Mr. Jiang said he had helped fabricate Mr. Xie’s claims of torture.

Before the trial, Mr. Jiang’s wife, Jin Bianling, who lives in California, wrote in an open letter that she believed her husband had been coerced.

“We’re convinced that Jiang Tianyong is innocent,” she said in the letter. “Even if Jiang Tianyong pleads guilty in court, that will certainly be under torture unimaginable to ordinary people.”

China says prominent Chinese human rights campaigner Jiang Tianyong pleaded guilty — was not tortured

August 22, 2017

The disbarred Chinese human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong has confessed to “inciting subversion of state power.” He disappeared while in custody for several months after being arrested last November.

China Screenshot von Jiang Tianyong (weibo.com)

On Tuesday, the prominent Chinese human rights campaigner Jiang Tianyong pleaded guilty to a charge of inciting subversion of state power. The Changsha Intermediate People’s Court in the central province of Hunan broadcast parts of Jiang’s trial on its social media account – unusual for such a politically sensitive case.

“I wanted to … mislead internet users into hating our country’s current social system and into sharing my own sense of dissatisfaction with society in order to inculcate hopes of changing the current social order with the goal of subverting our country’s current social order,” Jiang said. He added that he had used social media platforms such as Twitter  and Sina Weibo to spread anti-government messages.

Agents disappeared Jiang in November, after he inquired about a lawyer detained as part of a 2015 campaign against lawyers and activists. The lawyer, Xie Yang, had accused officials of torturing him in custody, but recanted when entering his own guilty plea for subversion in May.

A ‘sham trial’

Prosecutors downgraded Jiang’s charge of subversion to incitement, an infraction often punished with time served while under investigation. That forced Jiang to tell the court on Tuesday that he had “deliberately fabricated torture details of Xie Yang while he was in police detention and played to Western media’s taste, aiming to tarnish the image of the government.”

Amnesty International condemned the proceedings as a “sham trial.” William Nee, the group’s China researcher, said Jiang’s treatment “epitomizes many of the worrying aspects of the lawyers crackdown.” He added that this included the “harassment of family members, not letting the accused access their lawyer, prosecution based on charges that don’t comply with international standards, blocking the public from attending, all while presenting the trial as real on social media.”

Philip Alton, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights and extreme poverty, publicly expressed fears that a meeting he held with Jiang last fall had caused the arrest. Jiang also met with German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel shortly before his incarceration, and previously held talks with Angela Merkel in Beijing.

mkg/msh (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

http://www.dw.com/en/china-rights-advocate-jiang-pleads-guilty-to-subversion/a-40186019

UK Academic Publisher Reposts Blocked China Articles After Outcry

August 22, 2017

BEIJING/LONDON — A leading British academic publisher that bowed to pressure from Beijing to block online access to hundreds of scholarly articles in China reversed its position and reposted the material on Monday, following an outcry over academic freedom.

Cambridge University Press (CUP) said late last week it had removed some 300 papers and book reviews published in the China Quarterly journal from its website in China following a request from the Chinese government.

Image result for Cambridge University Press, photos, signage

It said it had blocked the articles, which covered topics including the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protests, the 1960s Cultural Revolution and Tibet, in order to keep its other academic and educational materials available in the country.

The move sparked an outcry on all sides, with academics attacking the decision as an affront to academic freedom, while the state-run Global Times tabloid said publishers could leave the country if they did not like the “Chinese way”.

Cambridge University and Tim Pringle, the editor of the China Quarterly, confirmed the decision to repost the articles on Monday.

    “As editor, I would like to express my support for CUP’s decision,” Pringle said in a statement on Twitter.

“Access to published materials of the highest quality is a core component of scholarly research. It is not the role of respected global publishing houses such as CUP to hinder such access.”

Cambridge University said the move to block content had been a “temporary decision”.

“Academic freedom is the overriding principle on which the University of Cambridge is based,” it said in a statement.

Reuters journalists in China found a sampling of China Quarterly articles on the banned list were available on CUP’s website (www.cambridge.org) late on Monday and downloadable for free.

The articles were previously only available to subscribers or by buying individually, but Pringle said he had requested CUP make them freely available.

The decision to remove the articles had sent shockwaves through the academic community, with one China-based Western academic describing it as a “big wake-up call” amid two years in which the erosion of academic freedom in China had “escalated alarmingly”.

The academic declined to be named for fear of reprisals from the government.

Separately on Monday, the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) said it had been told by CUP it had received a similar request to remove access in China to about 100 articles from the Journal of Asian Studies.

CUP publishes the Journal of Asian Studies for the U.S.-based AAS. No Journal of Asian Studies articles had been removed from CUP’s website search results in China, the AAS said.

“The officers of the association are extremely concerned about this violation of academic freedom, and the AAS is in ongoing discussions with CUP about how it will respond to the Chinese government,” it said in a statement.

“We oppose censorship in any form and continue to promote a free exchange of academic research among scholars around the world. We will post further updates on this rapidly changing situation as soon as possible,” it said.

“RIGHT DECISION”

An open online petition calling for CUP to refuse all censorship requests from the Chinese government published by Christopher Balding, an academic at Peking University’s HSBC School of Business in Shenzhen, had garnered more than 700 signatories before the publisher’s change of heart.

Hans van de Ven, a scholar of modern Chinese history at Cambridge University, said the reversal was “absolutely the right decision”.

The CUP’s presence in China has been a positive thing, even if it comes with some imposed restrictions from China, “but you do not censor yourself – that’s a basic principle”, he said.

Reza Hasmath, a professor at Canada’s University of Alberta who has written on sensitive subjects such as ethnicity and civil society in China, said the reposting of the articles was a positive symbolic move.

“The deep story here is that when the state does such actions, it fosters greater self-censorship among academics.”

CUP had said in its statement on Friday it would not change the nature of its publishing to make content acceptable in China, and would only consider requests to block individual items when the wider availability of content was at risk.

“The issue of censorship in China and other regions is not a short-term issue and therefore requires a longer-term approach,” it said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying declined to comment on the request when asked on Monday, before the publisher’s decision to repost the material, referring questions to the “relevant department”. China’s education ministry did not reply to a faxed request for comment.

Under President Xi Jinping, Beijing has stepped up censorship and tightened controls on the internet and various aspects of civil society, as well as reasserting Communist Party authority over academia and other institutions.

State-run tabloid the Global Times said in an editorial on Monday that the removal of the articles would have little impact because the journal’s readership was small, adding that leaving was an option if institutions do not like China’s rules.

“Western institutions have the freedom to choose. If they don’t like the Chinese way, they can stop engaging with us,” the paper, a nationalistic tabloid published by the Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, said.

“If they think China’s internet market is so important that they can’t miss out, they need to respect Chinese law and adapt to the Chinese way.”

(Additional reporting by John Ruwitch in SHANGHAI,; Ben Blanchard and Elias Glenn in BEIJING; Additional writing by Kate Holton in LONDON; Editing by Michael Perry, Alex Richardson and Lincoln Feast)

Related:

Academics Sound Warning After Cambridge University Press Censors Journal at Beijing’s Request

August 21, 2017

BEIJING — Academics studying China rallied to decry a prominent journal’s blocking of online access to hundreds of scholarly articles after pressure from Beijing, saying the incident could herald heightened restrictions on academic freedom in the country.

Cambridge University Press (CUP) said late last week it had removed some 300 papers and book reviews published in the China Quarterly journal from its website in China following a request from the Chinese government.

Image may contain: sky, cloud, nature and outdoor

Dozens of academics have since spoken out against the move, but a state-backed Chinese tabloid said on Monday that Western institutions could leave if they do not like the “Chinese way”, adding the journal only has a small number of readers anyway.

CUP’s decision was a “big wake-up call” amid two years in which the erosion of academic freedom in China had “escalated alarmingly”, one China-based Western academic said, declining to be named for fear of reprisals from the government.

“The censoring of academic journals, the blocking of databases, threats to block all VPNs, the banning of books, is all adding up to a situation where it will be impossible for academics to do any real research within China,” he said.

Cambridge University Press said in a Friday statement it had complied with the instruction to remove the content so that its other academic and educational materials would remain available in China. It would not proactively censor content, it said.

An open online petition calling for CUP to refuse all censorship requests from the Chinese government published by Christopher Balding, an academic at Peking University’s HSBC School of Business in Shenzhen, had gained over 300 signatories by Monday.

The petition also called for boycotts of the publisher for acquiescing to censorship demands from China’s government.

“It is disturbing to academics and universities worldwide that China is attempting to export its censorship on topics that do not fit its preferred narrative,” the petition said.

“MORAL HAZARD”

Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, said that the CUP had created a “moral hazard” that would encourage more censorship efforts from China.

“Some of them (academics) are adhering to censorship imposed by an authoritarian government that is in control of the country of study… it raises questions on the credibility of some scholarship,” he said.

The request made of Cambridge University Press “may also be the first step in applying more systematic control of Western academic material in China,” said Jonathan Sullivan, a China specialist at the University of Nottingham in Britain.

In an open letter posted on Medium, James A. Millward, a history professor at Georgetown University, said the decision was “a craven, shameful and destructive concession to (China’s) growing censorship regime” and a violation of academic independence.

“The result is a misleading, neutered simulacrum of China Quarterly for the China market,” he wrote.

However, some scholars argue that concessions to the Chinese government were acceptable when made to maintain relationships with Chinese academics and institutions, saying that more engagement would lead to greater openness in the long run.

CUP said it its Friday statement it would not change the nature of its publishing to make content acceptable in China, and would only consider requests to block individual items when the wider availability of content was at risk.

“The issue of censorship in China and other regions is not a short-term issue and therefore requires a longer-term approach,” it said.

DON’T LIKE IT? LEAVE

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying declined to comment on the request when asked on Monday, referring questions to the “relevant department”. China’s education ministry did not reply to a faxed request for comment.

Under President Xi Jinping, Beijing has stepped up censorship and tightened controls on the internet and various aspects of civil society, as well as reasserting Communist Party authority over academia and other institutions.

State-run tabloid the Global Times said in an editorial on Monday that the publisher’s decision would have little impact because the journal’s readership was small, adding that leaving was an option if institutions do not like China’s rules.

“Western institutions have the freedom to choose. If they don’t like the Chinese way, they can stop engaging with us,” the paper, a nationalistic tabloid published by the Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, said.

“If they think China’s internet market is so important that they can’t miss out, they need to respect Chinese law and adapt to the Chinese way.”

Chinese academics also told Reuters they consider growing censorship a risk to the quality of their work.

“As academics there are some things we can’t use,” said one Chinese scholar who asked not to be named. “We can’t access some of the latest research, which has a definite impact.”

(Reporting by John Ruwitch in SHANGHAI; Christian Shepherd, Ben Blanchard and Elias Glenn in BEIJING; Editing by Michael Perry and Alex Richardson)

Related:

Vietnam’s President Calls for Tougher Internet Controls — “Going Chinese”

August 20, 2017

HANOI — Vietnam’s president called on Sunday for tougher controls on the internet in the face of dissidents who are using it to criticize the ruling Communist Party, and to combat threats to cybersecurity.

Vietnam’s government has stepped up a crackdown on activists this year, but despite the arrest and sentencing of several high profile figures, there has been little sign of it silencing criticism on social media.

President Tran Dai Quang made the call in an article published on the government website.

Image result for no freedom of speech, tape over mouth, photos

He said hostile forces had used the internet to organize offensive campaigns that “undermined the prestige of the leaders of the party and the state, with a negative impact on cadres, party members and people”.

Quang said Vietnam needed to pay greater attention to controlling online information, especially on social networks, and needed an effective solution “to prevent news sites and blogs with bad and dangerous content”.

Quang’s own standing had been the subject of internet rumor and gossip in recent days because he has been largely absent from the public eye.

Vietnam has intensified crackdowns on both government critics and officials accused of corruption since security-minded conservatives gained greater sway within the Communist Party early last year.

Vietnam is in the top 10 countries for Facebook users by numbers and Google’s YouTube is also a popular platform.

Quang also highlighted threats to cybersecurity, saying Vietnam was under increasing attack by criminals seeking information and state secrets, and attempting to carry out acts of sabotage.

Thousands of computers in Vietnam were affected by the WannaCry virus in May.

In a report three months ago, security company FireEye said hackers working on behalf of the Vietnamese government had broken into the computers of multinationals in the country. Vietnam forcefully rejected the accusation.

(Reporting by Mi Nguyen; Writing by Matthew Tostevin; editing by David Stamp)

Image result for tape over mouth, photos, Hong Kong

Thousands take to the streets in Hong Kong to rally behind jailed activists

August 20, 2017

Image may contain: one or more people, crowd and outdoor

Hong Kong — Demonstrators march in protest of the jailing of student leaders Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow, who were imprisoned for their participation of the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement, also known as “Occupy Central” protests, in Hong Kong China August 20, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu REUTERS

By Venus Wu
Reuters

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Thousands of people took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday to protest against the jailing of three young democracy activists, with many questioning the independence of the Chinese-ruled city’s judiciary.

On Thursday, Joshua Wong, 20, Nathan Law, 24 and Alex Chow, 27, were jailed for six to eight months for unlawful assembly, dealing a blow to the youth-led push for universal suffrage and prompting accusations of political interference.

Thousands of people marched in sweltering temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius (86°F) to the Court of Final Appeal, carrying placards and banners denouncing the jailing of the activists.

Former student leader Lester Shum, who helped organize Sunday’s rally, said the number of protesters was the highest since pro-democracy protests in 2014 that paralyzed parts of the financial hub for 79 days.

“This shows that the Hong Kong government, the Chinese Communist regime and the Department of Justice’s conspiracy to deter Hong Kong people from continuing to participate in politics and to protest using harsh laws and punishments has completely failed,” Shum said.

Protesters brandished a large banner saying: “It’s not a crime to fight against totalitarianism.” They shouted: “Release all political prisoners. Civil disobedience. We have no fear. We have no regrets.”

Ray Wong, 24, leader of pro-independence group Hong Kong Indigenous, said the issue is uniting government opponents.

“Since the Umbrella movement, the radical and milder forces walked their own path,” he said, referring to the 2014 democracy movement. “We’re now standing together. It is a good start.”

In Sunday’s protests, some signs said “Shame on Rimsky”, referring to Justice Secretary Rimsky Yuen, who Reuters reported last week had overruled other legal officials who initially advised against pursuing jail terms for the three activists.

Wong and his colleagues triggered the 2014 mass street protests, which attracted hundreds of thousands at their peak, when they climbed into a courtyard fronting the city’s government headquarters.

They were sentenced last year to non-jail terms including community service for unlawful assembly, but the Department of Justice applied for a review, seeking imprisonment.

Demonstrators march in protest of the jailing of student leaders Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow, who were imprisoned for their participation of the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement, also known as “Occupy Central” protests, in Hong Kong China August 20, 2017. Tyrone Siu

On Friday, Yuen denied any “political motive” in seeking jail for the trio.

The former British colony returned to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” agreement that ensured its freedoms, including a separate legal system. But Beijing has ultimate control and some Hong Kong people are concerned it is increasingly interfering to head off dissent.

The jail terms for Wong, Law and Chow disqualify them from running for the legislature for the next five years.

Lau Siu-lai, one of six legislators expelled from the city’s legislature this year over the manner in which she took her oath of office, said the sentences were unreasonably harsh.

“It appears to be political suppression to strip away young people’s right to stand in elections,” she said.

“I hope people will pay attention … We need to protect Hong Kong’s’ rule of law.”

Another protester carried a placard of Lady Justice with a red blindfold.

“Hong Kong’s Lady Justice and the rule of law… are now being controlled by communists, and are now being twisted and she is now blind,” said 50-year-old artist Kacey Wong.

View image on Twitter

  protesters hit out at Justice Sec. Rimsky Yuen, rumoured to have ordered sentence review for jailed activists.

Britain said it hoped the sentencing would not discourage “legitimate protest” in future.

While the decision to impose tougher sentences on the activists attracted widespread criticism in Hong Kong and overseas, the Hong Kong Bar Association and Law Society defended the court’s decision.

“Unfounded comments that judicial decisions were made or influenced by political considerations originating outside Hong Kong are unjustified and damaging to our legal system, and to Hong Kong as a whole,” they said in a joint statement on Friday.

Additional reporting by James Pomfret; Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Richard Borsuk

***************************************

Marco Rubio and Nancy Pelosi condemned the judgement.

But Beijing defended the sentences. “Hong Kong people are fully entitled to rights and freedoms. But no one can use the excuse of so-called democracy and freedom to conduct illegal violent activities,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Friday.

Judge Wally Yeung said in sentencing that there had been an “unhealthy trend” of people in Hong Kong breaking the law for the sake of their ideals and having what he described as “arrogant and self-righteous ideas”.

The justice ministry, which brought the re-sentencing bid, said the judgement could “provide guidance to future cases of similar nature”, but insisted there was no political motive, according to an Agence France-Presse report.

Hong Kong’s No 2 official on Saturday (Aug 19) launched a strong defence of the city’s courts in jailing young pro-democracy activists, hitting out at “biased” reports by foreign media, and insisting the fallout would not harm the government’s efforts to reach out to alienated youth.

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said judicial independence remained the cornerstone of the city’s success, reported South China Morning Post.

Although the sentencing reviews were lodged by the department of justice last year, Mrs Lam, who took office on July 1 this year, was destined to be affected by the “political bombs”, according to commentators.

Chinese University political scientist Ivan Choy agreed that society is becoming polarised, making it harder for Lam to untie the knots.

“The ruling can work as a deterrent for outsiders of the democracy movements. But for the imprisoned student leaders and their teammates, their mistrust and [hate] for the government would only increase,” Choy told the Post.

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/thousands-took-to-streets-in-hong-kong-to-rally-behind-jailed-activists

Related:

Crowds rally in Hong Kong after activists jailed — Joshua Wong is in a high security prison

August 20, 2017

AFP

© AFP | The three activists were handed jail sentences for their role in 2014’s massive Umbrella Movement protests, which called for fully free leadership elections and were an unprecedented challenge to Beijing
HONG KONG (AFP) – Thousands of supporters of three jailed young democracy activists took to the streets in Hong Kong Sunday to protest their sentences.

Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow, leaders of the 2014 Umbrella Movement rallies, were sentenced to six to eight months in jail Thursday for their role in a protest that sparked the months-long demonstrations calling for democratic reforms.

People took on the summer heat to stream from the eastern district of Wan Chai to the Court of Final appeal in the heart of Hong Kong Island, protesting the jail terms.

 Image result for Joshua Wong, photos
Joshua Wong — File Photo

They held signs including: “Give back hope to my children” and “One prisoner of conscience is one too many” as they gathered in one of the biggest recent rallies the city has seen.

William Cheung, an engineer in his 40s, described the ruling as “the beginning of white terror” in Hong Kong.

“These young people are our hope for the future. We shouldn’t treat them like this,” Jackson Wai, a retired teacher in his 70s, told AFP as he teared up.

Rights groups and activists called the case against the trio “political persecution” and more evidence that an assertive Beijing is tightening its grip on the semi-autonomous city.

The Beijing-backed Hong Kong government brought the case for harsher sentences against the three, saying previous non-custodial terms were too light and did not serve as a deterrent to activists undermining stability.

University student Ann Lee said the government’s efforts to overturn the previous sentences were “attempts to intimidate us from taking part in acts of resistance.”

Hong Kong enjoys freedoms unseen on the mainland after being handed back to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” deal, but there are growing fears Beijing is trampling the agreement.

– ‘Ashcan of history’ –

The three jailed protest leaders were found guilty last year on unlawful assembly charges for storming a fenced-off government forecourt known as “Civic Square” as part of a protest calling for fully free leadership elections in September 2014.

Wong and former legislator Law, who was disqualified from parliament last month following Beijing intervention, had expressed their intentions to run for office in future elections, but will be prevented from standing for five years because their jail terms exceeded three months.

Wally Yeung, one of the panel of three judges that handed down the jail terms, said in a written judgement there had been an “unhealthy trend” of people in Hong Kong breaking the law for the sake of their ideals and having what he described as “arrogant and self-righteous ideas”.

Former colonial governor Chris Patten slammed the government’s move to persecute the activists.

“The names of Joshua Wong, Alex Chow and Nathan Law will be remembered long after the names of those who have persecuted them have been forgotten and swept into the ashcan of history,” wrote Patten in a letter to the editor at the Financial Times Saturday.

Wong, 20, is currently held in a high security prison for young male offenders. Law and Chow are at a maximum security holding centre.

UK Publisher Pulls Scholarly Articles From China Website at Beijing’s Request — Communist Party Dictates, Censorship Follows

August 18, 2017

SHANGHAI/LONDON — Cambridge University Press, one of Britain’s most respected academic publishers, has blocked online access in China to hundreds of scholarly articles and book reviews on Chinese affairs after coming under pressure from Beijing.

The articles were published in the China Quarterly, a leading academic journal on Chinese affairs that has been in print since the 1960s, and covered a range of topics deemed politically sensitive by the Chinese government.

The publisher said in a statement on Friday it had complied with an instruction to remove the content so that its other academic and educational materials would remain available in China. It would not proactively censor content, it said.

President Xi Jinping has tightened China’s already strict censorship since coming to power in 2012, as he seeks to cement the Communist Party’s grip on power.

Foreign news is regularly censored or blocked in China, but it is unusual for academic journals, which have relatively limited readership, to face such scrutiny.

 Image may contain: 1 person, text

China Quarterly editor Tim Pringle wrote in a letter sent to the journal’s academic board that China’s General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) had sent Cambridge University Press (CUP), via its importer, a list of more than 300 China Quarterly articles “to be pulled” from its website in China.

Pringle, an academic at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies, did not reply to an emailed request for comment.

But the China Quarterly’s editorial manager, Rowan Pease, confirmed authenticity of the letter, which was circulated online, when reached by telephone.

The letter said a similar request was made of CUP a few months ago regarding “over a thousand” e-books.

Neither CUP nor the China Quarterly letter said when the articles were blocked. The copy of the letter seen by Reuters was undated, but Thomas Heberer, of the University Duisburg-Essen in Germany, who is a board member, said it was sent out on Thursday.

Cambridge University Press said in a statement it was “troubled by the recent increase in requests of this nature” and planned to raise the issue with “relevant agencies” at the Beijing Book Fair next week.

“We are aware that other publishers have had entire collections of content blocked in China until they have enabled the import agencies to block access to individual articles,” it said. “We do not, and will not, proactively censor our content and will only consider blocking individual items (when requested to do so) when the wider availability of content is at risk.”

ACADEMIC FREEDOM

The publishing business of the elite Cambridge University, CUP is the world’s oldest publishing house, according to its website, tracing its history to the 16th century.

The list of articles the government requested be removed covered an array of topics, including the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protests, the Cultural Revolution, Tibet, Xinjiang and Taiwan, Pringle’s letter said.

Heberer and another of the journal’s board members, who declined to be identified, said they had not been told which articles and book reviews were on the list.

The letter said inquiries by China Quarterly suggested that it was “the only major China studies journal to be subject to these measures but it is likely other journals will be affected in the near future”.

Calls to China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, which oversees GAPP, were not answered and there was no immediate response to faxed questions.

Qiao Mu, a media researcher and former professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said he was not surprised and noted that censorship was the norm.

“In the old days restrictions were usually looser for academia, but now it is also tightening up,” he said. “Social science study in China has stalled for many years, it is all results of censorship and information control.”

Restrictions on what academics and students can say are nothing new in China. Curriculums and speeches at universities are tightly controlled by the government, fearful of a repeat of the pro-democracy protests in 1989 that were led by students.

Many foreign universities have nonetheless rushed to establish partnerships with China in an effort to tap the country’s growing demand for Western-style education. Critics fear they may be compromising academic freedoms to gain access to the China market.

Victor Shih, an associate professor of political economy at the University of California San Diego, who has had two articles published in the China Quarterly, said he expected more censorship to come.

“I think it’s the first move among many that are still to come as China tries to completely censor all kinds of media content,” he said. “But I think moves like this shoot themselves in the foot.”

(Additional reporting by Pei Li and Benjamin Kang Lim in BEIJING; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Beijing defends jailing of Hong Kong activists — Using “so-called democracy” to conduct “illegal violent activities” will not be tolerated

August 18, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Joshua Wong and two other young leaders of Hong Kong’s huge Umbrella Movement protests were sentenced to months in jail on Thursday for their role in the 2014 rallies
BEIJING (AFP) – China on Friday rejected international criticism of the jailing of three prominent Hong Kong activists, warning against using “so-called democracy” to conduct “illegal violent activities”.Joshua Wong and two other young leaders of Hong Kong’s huge Umbrella Movement protests were sentenced to months in jail on Thursday for their role in the 2014 rallies.

Supporters and rights group said the ruling by the Court of Appeal was more proof that Beijing is tightening its grip on the semi-autonomous city and that rule of law is being compromised.

“Hong Kong people are fully entitled to rights and freedoms. But no one can use the excuse of so-called democracy and freedom to conduct illegal violent activities,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

“I want to reiterate that Hong Kong is a special administration of China… China is firmly opposed to any external forces interfering in Hong Kong affairs,” Hua said at a regular press briefing.

Britain, Hong Kong’s former colonial ruler, said it hoped the sentencing would not discourage “legitimate protest” in future.

US Senator Marco Rubio, chairman of the Congressional Executive Commission on China, described the three as “pro-democracy champions worthy of admiration, not criminals deserving jail time”.

Amnesty International slammed authorities’ pursuit of jail terms as a “vindictive attack on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly”.

Wong, who became the face of the mass protests while still a teenager, as well as Nathan Law and Alex Chow were given terms of six months, eight months and seven months respectively after the court upped their previous non-custodial sentences.

Anyone who receives a jail term of more than three months is barred from running for Hong Kong’s partially directly elected parliament for five years.

Defence lawyers argued the trio had insisted on non-violence including at Civic Square, where there was pushing and shoving between protesters and police.

Hong Kong enjoys freedoms unseen on the mainland after being handed back to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” deal, but there are growing fears those rights are disappearing.

Related:

Hong Kong legal chief denies political motive in jailing democrats as criticism mounts — Bending to the will of Beijing?

August 18, 2017

Reuters

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s legal chief denied any “political motive” in seeking jail for three young pro-democracy activists on Friday, responding to a Reuters report that he had overruled other legal officials who had initially advised against pursuing the case.

An appeals court on Thursday jailed three leaders of the Chinese-ruled city’s democracy movement, Joshua Wong, 20, Alex Chow, 27, and Nathan Law, 24, for six to eight months, dealing a blow to the youth-led push for universal suffrage. Several protests by their supporters are planned in the coming days.

Image result for Photos, joshua wong, August 2017

Joshua Wong (C), leader of Hong Kong’s ‘Umbrella Movement’, looks on as he addresses the media before his sentencing outside the High Court in Hong Kong on August 17, 2017. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP.

They had been convicted of unlawful assembly related to months of mostly peaceful street protests that gripped the city in 2014 but failed to sway Communist Party rulers in Beijing in their call for full democracy.

The trio had already been sentenced last year by a district court in the former British colony to non-jail terms including community service, but the Department of Justice applied for a review, seeking jail terms.

Reuters reported that Justice Secretary Rimsky Yuen had ignored the advice of several senior prosecutors in the Department of Justice in pushing for jail terms.

Yuen said differences of opinion could be constructive.

 Nathan Law embraces a friend outside the High Court on Thursday. Photo: Edward Wong – SCMP

“I believe everyone will understand that any entity, including a government department, in discussing something, will sometimes have a consensus, and sometimes there are different opinions,” he told reporters.

“I hope everyone can understand that the main point is not whether there was any difference in opinion, and actually sometimes having a difference in opinion is a good thing, because if everyone has the same opinion then you can’t have a constructive discussion.”

Yuen added there “hasn’t been any political motive at all” in the case.

INTERNATIONAL CONCERNS

Student leaders Nathan Law and Joshua Wong arrive at the High Court to face verdict on charges relating to the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement, also known as Occupy Central protests, in Hong Kong, China.Tyrone Siu

But the sentencing has stoked broader international fears for Hong Kong’s constitutionally enshrined freedoms, part of the “one country, two systems” deal under which the British returned the territory to China in 1997, as well as perceptions of political meddling.

Hong Kong enjoys a free, highly respected judiciary, unlike on the mainland where the Communist Party controls the courts which rarely challenge its decisions.

“We are concerned by the decision of the Hong Kong authorities to seek a tougher sentence,” said Kristin Haworth, a spokesperson for the U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong and Macau.

“We hope Hong Kong’s law enforcement continues to reflect Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and remains apolitical.”

U.S. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called the re-sentencing of the trio “unjust”.

“This injustice offends the basic notions of freedom and democracy and deserves the swift and unified condemnation of the international community,” she said in a statement.

Britain said it was vital Hong Kong’s young people had a voice in politics and it hoped the sentencing would not discourage legitimate protest in future. The office of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen expressed “much regret” over the sentence.

But China’s conservative state-run tabloid, the Global Times, welcomed the jail terms, saying “the law has shown its authority”.

“This sentence will be a milestone in Hong Kong’s governance. From now on people who protest violently can be given a guilty sentence following this precedent, and they will need to go to jail,” the paper wrote.

The jail terms disqualify Wong, Chow and Law from running for the financial hub’s legislature for the next five years. Law had been the city’s youngest ever democratically elected legislator before he was stripped last month of his seat by a government-led lawsuit. The three plan to appeal.

Additional reporting by Jessica Macy Yu in Taipei and Gao Liangping in Beijing; Editing by Nick Macfie