Posts Tagged ‘Communist Party’

China bans religious names for Muslim babies in Xinjiang — Eliminating a Culture

April 25, 2017

List of banned baby names released amid ongoing crackdown on religion that includes law against veils and beards

Uighur women in loose, full-length garments and headscarves associated with conservative Islam visit a market in the city of Aksu in western China’s Xinjiang province.
Uighur women in loose, full-length garments and headscarves associated with conservative Islam visit a market in the city of Aksu in western China’s Xinjiang province. Photograph: Ng Han Guan/AP

Many couples fret over choosing the perfect name for their newborn, but for Muslims in western China that decision has now become even more fraught: pick the wrong name and your child will be denied education and government benefits.

Officials in the western region of Xinjiang, home to roughly half of China’s 23 million Muslims, have released a list of banned baby names amid an ongoing crackdown on religion, according to a report by US-funded Radio Free Asia.

Names such as Islam, Quran, Saddam and Mecca, as well as references to the star and crescent moon symbol, are all unacceptable to the ruling Communist party and children with those names will be denied household registration, a crucial document that grants access to social services, healthcare and education.

A full list of names has not yet been published and it is unclear exactly what qualifies as a religious name.

China blames religious extremists for a slew of violent incidents in recent years that have left hundreds dead. It has launched a series of crackdowns in Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur minority and one of the most militarised regions in the country.

Uighur rights groups complain of severe restrictions on religion and freedom of expression, and say the attacks are isolated incidents caused by local grievances, not part of a wider coordinated campaign. Young men are banned from growing beards in Xinjiang and women are forbidden from wearing face veils.

Rights groups were quick to condemn the name ban, which applies to dozens of names deemed by Communist party officials to carry religious overtones.

“This is just the latest in a slew of new regulations restricting religious freedom in the name of countering ‘religious extremism,’” Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “These policies are blatant violations of domestic and international protections on the rights to freedom of belief and expression.

“If the government is serious about bringing stability and harmony to the region as it claims, it should roll back – not double down on – repressive policies.”

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See also The Telegraph

Uyghur men walk in front of the Id Kah Mosque, China's largest mosque, on July 31, 2014 in Kashgar, Xinjiang Province, China. 

Uyghur men walk in front of the Id Kah Mosque, China’s largest mosque, on July 31, 2014 in Kashgar, Xinjiang Province, China.  CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

Chinese government authorities in the northwestern Muslim-majority region of Xinjiang have banned parents from giving their children dozens of ‘extreme’ Islamic names, as part of an ongoing crackdown on alleged ‘extremism’ in the area.

An official list of banned names had previously been circulated in Hotan, south Xinjiang, as early as 2015, sources told Radio Free Asia.

Published by the ruling Chinese Communist Party as ‘Naming Rules For Ethnic Minorities’, the document’s rules now appear to be enforced throughout the region, which is home to the biggest Muslim population in China.

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China Bans ‘Extreme’ Islamic Baby Names Among Xinjiang’s Uyghurs

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoor
Uyghur woman is shown with her children in Kashgar, Xinjiang

Radio Free Asia

Chinese authorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang have banned dozens of baby names with religious meanings that are widely used by Muslims elsewhere in the world, RFA has learned.

Sources in Hotan, in the southern part of the region, had previously detailed a list of banned names in 2015, but the ban now appears to have been rolled out region-wide.

Islam, Quran, Mecca, Jihad, Imam, Saddam, Hajj, and Medina are among dozens of baby names banned under ruling Chinese Communist Party’s “Naming Rules For Ethnic Minorities,” an official confirmed on Thursday.

An employee who answered the phone at a police station in the regional capital Urumqi confirmed that “overly religious” names are banned, and that any babies registered with such names would be barred from the “hukou” household registration system that gives access to health care and education.

“You’re not allowed to give names with a strong religious flavor, such as Jihad or names like that,’ the official said. “The most important thing here is the connotations of the name … [it mustn’t have] connotations of holy war or of splittism [Xinjiang independence].”

Asked if names of Islamic scholars were acceptable, the employee replied: “Get him to change it; it’s the sort of thing that [could be regarded as] promoting terror and evil cults.”

Asked if Yultuzay, a reference to the star and moon symbol of the Islamic faith, was acceptable, he said: “Actually the star and moon are a pagan symbol.”

“[Mecca] would be a bit over-the-top … I don’t think you could call someone Saddam, either,” he said in response to queries on those names.

“Just stick to the party line, and you’ll be fine,” he said. “[People with banned names] won’t be able to get a household registration, so they will find out from the hukou office when the time comes.”

“They have received training in this sort of thing over here [in Xinjiang] so they’re the experts [on what is allowed],” he said.

Mainstream names

A source meanwhile told RFA that the safest names for Uyghurs are those that sound more “mainstream.”

“I have been talking to friends in Xinjiang about this, and they all say that any with potentially extremist overtones will be banned, but names like Memet … that you see everywhere are considered more mainstream by the Chinese Communist Party,” the source said.

Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the exile World Uyghur Congress group, said the Chinese government is continuing to suppress traditional Uyghur culture by controlling what Uyghurs can call their children.

“In setting limits on the naming of Uyghurs, the Chinese government is in fact engaging in political persecution under another guise,” Raxit told RFA. “They are afraid that people with such names will become alienated from Chinese policies in the region.”

“Yultuzay, for example, is seen by the Chinese government as carrying separatist connotations, to do with religion,” he said. “They are placing limits on Uyghurs’ religious beliefs.”

Strike-hard campaigns

China has vowed to crack down on what it calls religious extremism in Xinjiang, and regularly conducts “strike hard” campaigns including police raids on Uyghur households, restrictions on Islamic practices, and curbs on the culture and language of the Uyghur people, including videos and other material.

While China blames Uyghur extremists for terrorist attacks, experts outside China say Beijing has exaggerated the threat from the Uyghurs and that repressive domestic policies are responsible for an upsurge in violence there that has left hundreds dead since 2009.

Last month, Xinjiang authorities fired an ethnic Uyghur official for holding her wedding ceremony at home according to Islamic traditions instead of at a government-sanctioned venue.

Salamet Memetimin, the communist party secretary for Chaka township’s Bekchan village, in Hotan (in Chinese, Hetian) prefecture’s Chira (Cele) county, was among 97 officials recently charged with disciplinary violations, according to an April 10 report by the state-run Hotan Daily newspaper.

Local residents said the woman was relieved of her duties for taking her marriage vows—known as “nikah” in Muslim culture—in her own home.

An official told RFA’s Uyghur service that home wedding vows could give rise to unsanctioned religious leaders promoting “deviant views that contradict ethnic unity and the sovereignty of the county.”

Reported by Xin Lin for RFA’s Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

‘Apartheid Without the Racism’: How China Keeps Rural Folks Down

April 24, 2017

By Mark Magnier
The Wall Street Journal
April 24, 2017

YANJIAO, China–An epic property boom restricted to city dwellers has opened a wealth gap that continues to widen in China, setting back a state campaign to ease poverty and shunting rural dwellers from the middle-class dream.

China’s system of hukou, or household registration, a decades-old legacy of the planned economy, binds most Chinese to their place of birth, and denies those outside China’s booming megacities the right to buy property inside them.

That has largely shut them out of one of history’s biggest wealth transfers; 98% of Chinese housing is now in private hands from virtually none a generation ago. Over the past decade, housing prices have increased up to 700% in cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Property now accounts for 70% of personal wealth in the country.

“Housing is everything in China,” said Southwestern University of Finance and Economics professor Li Gan. Unless the Communist Party privatizes land, which is unlikely, farmers will continue to lose ground, he said.

Meanwhile the pace of home prices keeps rising; March was the fastest gain in the last five months. China has recently stepped up efforts to fight poverty, including extending medical insurance to the poor and resettling them from areas prone to landslides and other geological threats. It also said it is building a new megacity two hours from Beijing, bringing whirlwind growth to a dusty backwater. Both initiatives suggest leaders’ awareness of the deep inequities along rural-urban lines.

In 1978, when China embarked on economic reforms, city dwellers earned about twice as much as rural residents; they now earn about 3.5 times as much, according to a study released in April by Paris School of Economics professor Thomas Piketty and World Bank consultant Li Yang.

Studies by the Asian Development Bank and the University of Michigan suggest China’s rich-poor gap is even higher once property and hukou status are taken into account. “The urban-rural wealth divide is much greater than the income divide,” said Southwestern University’s Mr. Gan.

Often the difference comes down to a line on a map.

Wang Qiang, a 30-year old construction engineer from a village in northern China, bought an apartment in 2014 in the “Banyan Tree Harbor” residential complex astride a garbage dump in Yanjiao, just outside Beijing, across a dying river in Hebei province.

Looking across the dry riverbed separating Yanjiao from the capital, Mr. Wang says he hopes Beijing will someday absorb his community.

Giving him hope, some cities across China have extended property-buying rights to rural hukou holders around them. With a Beijing hukou, Mr. Wang’s family would have access to better schools and hospitals and his two-bedroom apartment would be twice as valuable.

But for now, “I feel stuck,” he said. “Yanjiao schools have up to 80 children in a classroom. It’s two different worlds.”

On the other side, 38-year-old app developer Liu Wei emerges from his apartment in upscale “Jingmao International City,” a gated community with bamboo groves and Maserati cars. Over the past decade, his Beijing residency status has helped him to purchase several apartments and a villa that he said are now worth up to ten times what he paid for them.

“I’m absolutely delighted with the price appreciation,” he said. Does he feel lucky? Not particularly. “I’m no different from my friends.”

Speculation that Yanjiao may be absorbed into Beijing has driven up property prices there at a rate matching that of Beijing in the past couple of years. But Yanjiao property values are still one fourth of those across the river.

And across China, urban residents accumulated wealth at twice the rate of rural dwellers between 2002 and 2010, leaving citydwellers with a nest egg six times larger, mostly due to housing, according to a 2015 study by Shi Li & Haiyuan Wan in China Economic Journal.

The opportunity cost of a rural background becomes even starker when considering the insider deals handed to urbanites who lived in apartments associated with their government jobs when China started to privatize housing.

Fang Liping, a 55-year-old retired math teacher, and her husband got their big break in the late 1990s when her school let her buy their three-bedroom government-owned apartment in central Shanghai for 500,000 yuan [around $72,000]. The five-story walkup is now worth around $1 million and the family has since purchased two more apartments.

“We didn’t consider it an investment,” she said of her original apartment. “It’s what everyone was doing.”

China has for decades talked about overhauling the hukou system, which economists say undercuts economic growth. Political resistance is strong as city officials balk at providing services to more people.

“The hukou system is kind of like apartheid without the racism,” said Scott Kennedy, a China expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The life chances or rural and urban Chinese are vastly different.”

While Beijing and Shanghai have plans to cap their populations, small cities ringed by unsold apartment blocks have welcomed rural hukou holders. However, they have little to offer in terms of jobs.

Beyond access to appreciating property markets, rural residents are also boxed out of good schooling and a range of other services in major cities.

“I’ve always thought about getting a home in the city and a city hukou, but it never came true, ” said Yang Shuanghu, 35, a driver from a village in poor Gansu province who can’t work due to a back injury. Mr. Yang, who never finished middle school, gets a rural income allowance of about $15 a quarter.

“To get by, sometimes I have to go to my sister’s house to get food,” he said. “Perhaps my daughter can grow up, get some education, and leave this place.”

Liyan Qi and Fanfan Wang and Pei Li contributed to this article.

Write to Mark Magnier at

Domocracy: Hong Kong protesters march for ‘genuine universal suffrage’ one month after Carrie Lam elected leader

April 23, 2017

More than 200 people also express opposition to way city’s leader is elected

By Jeffie Lam
South China Morning Post

Sunday, April 23, 2017, 4:15pm

Vietnamese Villagers “Win” Land Dispute After Capturing, Detaining More Than 20 Communist Government Officials

April 22, 2017

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A police officer thanks villagers after the hostages, who were originally held by the villagers in a land dispute, were released in Dong Tam, outside Hanoi, Vietnam April 22, 2017. REUTERS/Kham


HANOI, April 22 — More than a dozen police and officials held hostage by Vietnamese villagers over a land dispute were released today, state media reported, ending a week-long standoff that had gripped the country.

The rare act of defiance in My Duc, a suburban district of capital Hanoi, was sparked last week by clashes between authorities and villagers who said their farmland was being illegally seized for a military-owned telecoms firm.

After authorities detained a number of local residents protesting the seizure, including an 82-year-old man, villagers retaliated by taking 38 police officers and officials hostage.

Following a week of tension, Hanoi’s mayor Nguyen Duc Chung was welcomed into the community today. It had been sealed off by barricades made from logs, sandbags and bricks.

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Hanoi’s Mayor Nguyen Duc Chung (3rd R) is greeted by villagers at Dong Tam commune, My Duc district in Hanoi on April 22, 2017.

After the negotiations “villagers led a working team to the community house to release the 19” remaining hostages, state-run Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.

Sixteen other hostages had been released earlier in the week, while three others had escaped. The detained villagers were also freed.

“We admit it was wrong to hold these people,” Tuoi Tre quoted villager Bui Van Ky as saying during the meeting with the mayor.

“But this came from (the authorities’) prolonged announcement, saying that 59 hectares of our cultivated land belongs to the military…We have been very angry,” he added.

Vietnam’s communist government strictly curbs freedom of expression, bars an independent media and jails dissidents.

But flash points do occur, with property disputes a key source of tension in a country where all land is technically owned by the state.

The government allocates land-use rights certificates to citizens but the laws are opaque, leaving poor farmers vulnerable.

According to state media, mayor Chung vowed to investigate the land dispute, which the community said had been ignored for years.

He also reportedly promised villagers they would not face criminal charges for the hostage crisis.

Armed police blocked AFP reporters from entering the community while the negotiations were under way today. — AFP

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Village In Vietnam Is Holding A Dozen Police Officers Hostage

By Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
APRIL 17, 2017 – 3:19 PM

This Village In Vietnam Is Holding A Dozen Police Officers Hostage

Villagers in a Hanoi suburb are holding twelve police officers and more than a dozen others hostage amid a land dispute. The standoff is rare in Communist Vietnam, where land seizures are common but protesters have few rights.

More than 30 people are being held in My Duc, a village outside of the capital. The clash began on Saturday, when local officials detained four villagers after authorities made plans to seize 116 acres of land, allegedly without fair compensation. Local government officials aimed to give the land to Viettel, Vietnam’s largest telecom firm, which is run by the military, according to the activist-run website Vietnam Human Rights Defenders.

“Local residents said they have no intention of releasing the hostages unless the central government intervenes,” an activist named La Viet Dung told Agence France-Press after a trip to My Duc on April 16. “People have closed off their villages. No one can come in or out. The police are surrounding the area also, preventing media access. The situation is tense.”

Land disputes are a major source of conflict between residents and government authorities

Land disputes are a major source of conflict between residents and government authorities in the southeast Asian nation. In 2012, land-related grievances comprised 70 percent of all complaints lodged against the government. Local authorities may make deals with developers or state-run firms, evicting small farmers from their land without compensation.The Communist Party has ruled over a unified Vietnam since 1975, when it implemented Beijing-style farm collectivization and a command-style economy. Beginning in the 1980s, after such policies had mired the country in poverty, the party pursued doi moi, or economic reforms, aimed at creating a socialist-oriented market economy. The subsequent rise of private enterprise and a mixed market economy has sparked rapid economic expansion. In 2016, the country’s GDP growth rate was about 6.7 percent, making it one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

But reform remains incomplete. A 1993 land reform law granted land-use rights to private individuals, but no legal framework for true private ownership of land exists. That makes farmers vulnerable to land grabs by state-run corporations as land prices have skyrocketed amid high growth, particularly around urban centers.

Dissent is dangerous in Vietnam, where there are few human rights protections and little freedom of speech. But land seizures and forced evictions touch a national nerve. In some cases, state-run media have backed landholders against authorities. In 2012, local officials evicted a fish farmer named Doan Van Vuon from his land and tore down his home, then detained him after he attempted to defend his land using guns and land mines. Government-backed media outlets ran a series of articles sympathetic to Vuon, arousing public indignation around the country, and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung intervened, punishing local officials and forcing them to return the seized land.



China Moves to Discredit Tycoon’s Claims of Communist Party Corruption

April 21, 2017

BEIJING — China on Friday sought to discredit billionaire businessman Guo Wengui, painting him as a “criminal suspect” whose allegations of corruption within the highest levels of the Communist Party should not be believed.

Guo, a flamboyant property mogul who has held close ties to disgraced former Chinese intelligence official Ma Jian, has courted international attention with his explosive claims, most recently aired during a live television interview with the U.S government-funded Voice of America (VoA) on Wednesday.

 Exiled businessman Guo Wengui. Photo: Handout

China said on Wednesday that Guo was subject to an Interpol “red notice”, a fact Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang reiterated at a regular press briefing in Beijing on Friday.

“If you are willing to believe what he said then that’s your business,” Lu said. “We don’t believe it.”

The Chinese government had pressed VoA to cancel the interview ahead of time, including by summoning one of the broadcaster’s Beijing-based correspondents to a meeting on Monday, sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The ministry’s comments come amid an apparently concerted damage-limitation effort within China highlighting Guo’s reputation as an unreliable narrator.

A 23-minute video, purportedly of Ma Jian confessing in detail to accepting 60 million yuan ($8.72 million) in bribes from Guo, has circulated on Chinese social media since Wednesday night without being removed by government censors who are often quick to delete politically sensitive posts or unsubstantiated rumors.

The video, which was produced and posted online anonymously, has also been reported on widely by mainland media outlets, all of which are regulated by the government. Reuters was unable to independently verify the veracity of the video.

The widely read Beijing News newspaper, and the respected financial magazine Caixin, also published lengthy investigations into Guo’s business dealings and ties with Ma, a disgraced former state security vice-minister who was first detained in early 2015 and expelled from the Communist Party in December last year.

Guo has said he left China in late 2014 after being tipped off about Ma’s imminent arrest, and has not returned since his company premises were raided amid a heated dispute with state-backed Founder Securities.

Since leaving, he has spent most of his time in the United States.

After laying low for two years, Guo resurfaced in February and has since made wide-ranging but unverified allegations of corruption against several top Communist Party officials – past and present – and their families.

He says the information was obtained from Ma, whom he concedes he held a close relationship with but denies bribing.

At Friday’s Foreign Ministry briefing, Lu rejected suggestions the timing of the Interpol red notice was connected to the airing of the VoA interview.

“Interpol has been around for 100 years and has 190 member states,” he said. “For this kind of international organization we think their actions are solemn.”

(Reporting by Philip Wen and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)



China’s party officials warned not to cross ‘red lines’ while using WeChat — China’s Communist Party closely watches social media (of everyone)

April 18, 2017

Disciplinary watchdog identifies eight prohibited behaviours

By Mimi Lau
South China Morning Post

Tuesday, April 18, 2017, 7:07pm

China’s Graft Watchdog Investigates Senior Inspector in Drive to Tackle Internal Rot

April 17, 2017

BEIJING — China’s top anti-graft watchdog announced on Monday an investigation into one of its own former senior inspectors, as the body ramps up a campaign to expose corruption in its own ranks.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has waged war on graft for over four years, vowing to continue until he has cleared the ruling Communist Party of both high and low-level graft, which he warns could threaten the party’s existence if left unchecked.

Inspection teams have been a core feature of the campaign, parachuted by central authorities into provinces or institutions to tackle entrenched corruption, in theory immune from bribery and pressure by local officials.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said in a online statement on its website that a vice-ministerial level inspector from the Central Inspection Team, Zhang Huawei, was under investigation for suspected “serious disciplinary violations”, a common euphemism for graft.

Zhang could not be reached for comment.

The CCDI has in recent months made efforts to show it is serious about tackling corruption within its own ranks, which it refers to as “darkness hiding beneath the light.”

The CCDI began 2017 by airing a three-part television series focusing on cases where graft-busters had been caught on the take and releasing a new series of rules to guard against abuses of power by disciplinary officials.

The drive by CCDI to “clean ones own doorstep” comes as Beijing mulls sweeping changes to its anti-graft architecture to create a National Supervision Commission, set to incorporate various corruption-fighting bodies in a powerful single entity.

The move could also be used as a way for Xi to justify retaining top graftbuster Wang Qishan in a central leadership position beyond the usual retirement age at an upcoming leadership reshuffle late this year.

(Reporting by Christian Shepherd)

China’s Communist Party puts ‘Hong Kong separatism’ on national security agenda

April 16, 2017


Statement in party magazine follows Premier Li Keqiang’s unprecedented warning that the Hong Kong independence movement would ‘lead nowhere’

By Frank Tang
South China Morning Post
Sunday, 16 April 16, 2017, 8:13am

China says insurance regulator head probed for suspected graft

April 9, 2017


The head of China’s insurance regulator is under investigation for suspected disciplinary violations, the ruling Communist Party’s anti-corruption watchdog said on Sunday, using phrasing that usually refers to graft.

In a brief statement, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said Xiang Junbo, head of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, was suspected of “serious disciplinary violations”.

It gave no further details.

The regulator has stepped up a crackdown on risky activities by some aggressive players in the insurance sector, particularly those seen to be engaging in financial market speculation using expensive short-term funds.

Xiang, who is also a member of the central bank’s monetary policy committee, took control of the insurance regulator in 2011 after serving as chairman of Agricultural Bank of China, one of the big four state banks.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is leading a campaign against official corruption that is tearing down once-untouchable party, military and business leaders and rolling up their powerful networks of relatives and allies.

(Reporting by Kevin Yao; Editing by Michael Perry)