A Chinese paramilitary policeman tries to block photos being taken of a military parade rehearsal prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympic games. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)A Chinese paramilitary policeman tries to block photos being taken of a military parade rehearsal prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympic games. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

In November 2014, Li Yuxiao, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Cyberspace, stated, according to the state-run China Daily: “Now is the time for China to realize its responsibilities. If the United States is willing to give up its running of the internet sphere, the question comes as to who will take the baton and how it would be run.

“We have to first set our goal in cyberspace, and then think about the strategy to take, before moving on to refining our laws,” he said.

Li is now the head of a department designed to enforce the Chinese regime’s laws on technology companies. His comments are tied to a process announced by the United States in 2014 to relinquish control of the internet by ending the contract between the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

This process is now nearing its completion, with a deadline of Oct. 1.

The handover is technically of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which is a department of ICANN. It regulates domain name registrations for websites, handles the Domain Name System (DNS) Root Zone to ensure internet users are directed to the websites they intend to visit, and also handles internet protocols.

The integrity of DNS, in particular, is critical, since it can be used for cyberattacks that send people to fake, infected websites. It’s also one of the primary systems manipulated for state censorship that can block access to specific websites.

The United States plans for the internet to be run by a multistakeholder model without government oversight, and relinquishing control of ICANN will be the last step in this process. Yet the new model does not mean ICANN, or the broader internet, will remain free from government influence. Rather, the United States is simply stepping back from this role.

According to Chris Mattmann, who helped develop how email systems work under IANA and who also helped develop several Apache systems that are at the heart of the internet, the handover of ICANN is a concerning move.

With this shift, Mattmann said, the process of determining which website is shown to you when you enter a web address “will no longer be driven by the U.S. Department of Commerce,” and this could be manipulated by foreign powers for anything from censorship to cyberattacks.

For instance, if the Chinese regime were to object to a website that publishes information about its human rights record, the ability to influence IANA would allow the regime to make that website virtually invisible on the web.

Mattmann, who currently works at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said he believes processes under ICANN need to be heavily vetted, noting that “even when the internet is itself distributed and decentralized,” the open system begins to break down without an authority to ensure it stays open.

Already, the Chinese regime is moving to fill the void left by the U.S. handover—and its new system for governing the internet goes far beyond the responsibilities held by ICANN.

Over the last two years, Chinese leaders have drafted an authoritarian set of laws that governs every facet of the internet. The Chinese regime has formed domestic institutions or gained control over international bodies to press these new laws for the internet through the United Nations; through domestic enforcement including on foreign companies inside China; and through organizations formed to work directly with major technology companies abroad and more generally with internet stakeholders.

A Tool for Foreign Engagement

Lu Wei, China's Minister of Cyberspace Affairs Administration, speaks at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, in eastern China's Zhejiang Province on Nov. 19, 2014.  (AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE

Lu Wei, minister of the Cyberspace Affairs Administration of China, at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, eastern China’s Zhejiang Province, on Nov. 19, 2014. (AFP PHOTO/JOHANNES EISELE

In the two years since Li gave his speech at the 2014 World Internet Conference, the Chinese regime has gained ground on Li’s goal to govern the global internet. The three-day conference in Wuzhen, themed “An Interconnected World Shared and Governed by All,” brought together more than 1,000 internet companies from over 100 countries and regions.

Li is now the secretary-general of the Cyber Security Association of China, which is chaired by Fang Binxing, the creator of China’s Great Firewall, which censors and monitors the country’s internet. The association, formed on March 25, gives the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) a vehicle for spreading its systems and laws for governing the internet abroad, while giving its efforts a benign facade under the label of “cybersecurity.”

The association can start discussions abroad at “more senior levels” with “international industry, academic, and research associations” that constitute the global system that controls the internet under the multistakeholder model, according to a report from the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

The association is registered as a national nonprofit organization, but according to the report, it answers directly to the Leading Small Group for Network Security and Information—which is chaired by CCP leader Xi Jinping—and is “responsible for shaping and implementing information security and internet policies and laws.”

According to the report, the Cyber Security Association of China, among other tasks, focuses on “public opinion supervision to help in information control and propaganda” and “protecting core Chinese interests under globalization, and promoting globally competitive Chinese IT companies.”

According to Xia Yiyang, senior director of research and policy at the Human Rights Law Foundation, there is more to the statement, “protecting core Chinese interests under globalization,” than meets the eye.

“In the CCP’s language, it’s a way to keep the CCP in power by any means,” he said, adding, “They have a very clear definition of ‘core interests.’”

In an interview published on the World Internet Conference website, Li stated that since China has the largest number of netizens in the world, it should have the right to “make the international rules of cyberspace governance.”

“The establishment of rules is just a start,” he said.

Influence Over Foreign Companies

The Chinese regime has begun bringing major U.S. tech firms—including Microsoft Corp., Intel Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., and International Business Machines Corp. (IBM)—into its newly formed committee, the Technical Committee 260.

The committee is already working with foreign companies to enforce the CCP’s laws. According to the Wall Street Journal, it is inviting companies to help Chinese authorities draft rules for issues including encryption, big data, and cybersecurity, and with determining which technologies should be “secure and controllable” by the CCP.

A screen shows a rolling feed of new Generic Top-Level Domain Names (gTLDs) that have been applied for during a press conference hosted by ICANN in central London, on June 13, 2012. The U.S. intention to relinquish control of ICANN opens the door for China to gain greater control over the Internet. (AFP PHOTO / ANDREW COWIE        (Photo credit should read Andrew Cowie/AFP/GettyImages)

A screen shows a rolling feed of new Generic Top-Level Domain Names (gTLDs) that have been applied for during a press conference hosted by ICANN in central London, on June 13, 2012. The U.S. intention to relinquish control of ICANN opens the door for China to gain greater control over the internet. (Andrew Cowie/AFP/GettyImages)

The phrase “secure and controllable” was included in the Chinese regime’s sweeping National Security Law, passed on July 1, 2015. The Washington-based think tank Information Technology and Innovation Foundation described the law’s requirements as being “part of a strategic effort” intended to “ultimately supplant foreign technology companies both in China and in markets around the world.”

According to the BBC, the law authorizes the CCP to take “all necessary” steps to protect itself. The BBC report also noted that many foreign technology firms operating in China “fear that under the new law they will be forced to hand over sensitive information to the authorities.”

For instance, China has repeatedly tried to force foreign tech companies to hand over the source code for their software—in 2015, Apple said no, but IBM said yes—and has also demanded foreign tech companies’ encryption keys.

The technology news website TechDirt speculated the CCP could use this law to renew its attempts to require foreign companies to install back doors in their technology products.

If companies give in to these demands, they compromise their own and their users’ security in and outside of China. Failure to give in to these demands may bar companies from the Chinese market.

Influence Through the United Nations

The United Nations branch responsible for telecommunications issues, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) technically only governs radio communications, but at a meeting in 2012 many nations agreed to ITU assuming a role in governing the Internet. Meanwhile, China has been working hard to assume control of the ITU.

The ITU gained international attention in 2012, when it held the closed-door World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai to rewrite rules that govern the global internet.

Despite the closed-door policy, many documents from the meetings were leaked online, and the contents of these documents drew heavy criticism from tech-focused groups and news outlets. One law the ITU passed “could give governments and companies the ability to sift through all of an internet user’s traffic—including emails, banking transactions, and voice calls—without adequate privacy safeguards,” according to the Center for Democracy and Technology, which exposed the ITU program known as Y.2770.

The United States walked out of the 2012 meeting, and other countries—including the United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Australia, and others—refused to sign its controversial treaty. Yet the treaty was passed regardless, giving the ITU a level of governance over the internet it had not had before.

Nations that refused to sign the treaty are not included in it. Instead, they retain agreements under the 1988 ITU treaty, which did not include any elements on ITU governing the internet.

Nonetheless, the ITU declared the new treaty a success, as its remaining members did recognize its new role. It released a statement on Dec. 14, 2012, saying “delegates from around the world have agreed [to] a new global treaty that will help pave the way to a hyper-connected world.”

In October 2014, the ITU elected China’s Houlin Zhao as its secretary-general.

Zhao had stated previously that censorship is subjective. According to The New American in October 2014, when Zhao was asked about “the Communist Chinese dictatorship’s massive censorship regime targeting dissent, dissidents, and ideas it disagrees with,” he replied, “Some kind of censorship may not be strange to other countries.”

A Contentious Move

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has spearheaded a push to prevent the handover of ICANN, and many U.S. government officials, organizations, and experts have sounded an alarm over concerns that a foreign authoritarian power may attempt to do precisely what the Chinese regime has already set into motion.

During a Senate subcommittee hearing on Sept. 14 on the issue, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said, according to a prepared statement, that many important questions on the transition remain unanswered. These include whether it will “yield an unconstitutional transfer of United States government property, how the transfer will affect human rights and free speech issues, if U.S.-controlled top-level domains such as .gov and .mil could be compromised.”

“If this internet giveaway goes forward, there’s no reason to believe that authoritarian states would stop trying to exert greater control and we don’t know how things will play out long term,” Grassley said.

On June 8, Cruz and Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) introduced the Protecting Internet Freedom Act, which seeks to prevent the U.S. handover of ICANN, and to ensure the United States retains sole ownership of .gov and .mil top-level domains.

Similar concerns were shared by Philip Zimmermann, creator of the PGP encryption standard and chief scientist and co-founder of Silent Circle, a company specializing in secure communications.

Zimmerman said he believes the United States needs to maintain some authority over the internet, lest “we give in to control by an international body that can be easily influenced by member states that are oppressive societies.”

“The internet is supposed to make the weak have a voice, you know. If China controls their own domains within their country, it’s going to be easy to suppress opposition,” he said.

According to Barney Warf, a geography professor at the University of Kansas who has published research on global internet freedom and governance, China has a “brutal, fascist, oppressive regime that has gone out of its way to suppress human rights.”

Warf said even the possibility that the CCP could enforce its laws over the global internet is a frightening thought.

He said the United States’ informal governing of the internet did not place any firm control over it, and this allowed innovation to flourish. He said the lack of strict governance gave people room to “experiment and make mistakes,” and added, “I think the internet has thrived because there is no central power over it.”

Laws for the Internet

The chairman of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) Steve Crocker speaks during the opening of the ICANN meeting in Singapore on Feb. 9, 2015. The U.S. plan to relinquish control of ICANN opens the door for China to have greater influence over the global Internet. (ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Steve Crocker, chair of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), during an ICANN meeting in Singapore on Feb. 9, 2015. The U.S. plan to relinquish control of ICANN opens the door for China to have greater influence over the global Internet. (ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

After the U.S. relinquishes control of ICANN, it will technically retain some level of oversight, but this oversight will be bundled together with that of the 171 other members and 35 observers in the Governmental Advisory Committee.

Among those members is ITU, along with “all the UN agencies with a direct interest in global Internet governance,” according to the committee’s website.

The Committee advises ICANN on government concerns “related to laws and international agreements based on consensus,” according to Jonathan Zuck, president of ACT | The App Association, in a statement presented to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 14. In the event the 171 member committee does make a consensus-based recommendation to ICANN, Zuck testified that ICANN can reject it with a 60 percent majority vote of its governing board. 

While the U.N.’s legal structure will for all practical purposes eliminate the U.S. ability to affect ICANN’s policy, Chinese officials have been very candid about their intentions to push CCP law onto the internet. The coming out party for this effort was the 2014 World Internet Conference, which followed upon the U.S. announcement that it would step back from internet governance.

“Experts said China is using the platform to sell its own strategy and rules to the world, a mission that the world’s largest cyberpower with the most internet users has deemed significant and urgent,” the state-run China Daily reported at the time.

“China has the capability now to set up international rules for cyberspace and use our strategy and our rules to influence the world,” said Shen Yi, an associate professor specializing in cybersecurity at Fudan University, according to China Daily.

“China is considering setting up its own rules in cyberspace,” CCP Premier Li Keqiang said, in comments summarized by China Daily. He added the CCP wants to create a “common code of rules” for the internet.

In July 2015, the CCP passed the National Security Law mentioned earlier, with its requirement that certain technologies should be “secure and controllable.”

That same month, the CCP introduced the draft of its Cybersecurity Law. Reuters reported that the law requires network operators to “accept the supervision of the government and public,” and that it reiterates requirements that all personal data on Chinese citizens and “important business data” needs to be stored domestically—an element that further exposes the data to government surveillance.

Reuters noted the law was controversial in the United States and Europe, since it affects foreign firms. It also noted it increased the CCP’s power to “access and block dissemination of private information records that Chinese law deems illegal,” and that this has caused concern among governments, multinational companies, and rights activists, since the CCP may be able to “interpret the law as it sees fit.”

In December 2015, the CCP passed the Counterterrorism Law, which allows Chinese authorities to decrypt information to prevent “terrorism,” and to monitor systems with the excuse of preventing the spread of information that can be used for the CCP’s definitions of terrorism or “extremism.”

There is a long list of similar laws and regulations. In February 2016, the CCP issued rules for online publishing. In March 2016, it drafted rules for domain name registration. It has issued state procurement lists that restrict foreign suppliers and has pending laws on encryption regulations.

With its new institutions, laws, and regulations, the Chinese regime is ready through its Cyber Security Association to influence the operation of ICANN and other systems in the multistakeholder model; or it is ready to see the U.N. gain influence over ICANN through the ITU—with China at its helm.

Tech companies operating in China are now required to turn over proprietary technology, endangering their businesses and destroying their customers’ expectation of confidentiality. Meanwhile, through the Technical Committee 260, major tech companies are lobbying for the world to adopt the Chinese regime’s internet law and regulations. And the China-led ITU wants to grant nations the right to search all internet traffic.

Thus, China is seeking to make good on Liu Yuxiao’s promise that China will “realize its responsibilities” in the absence of U.S. control.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the domains mentioned in the Protecting Internet Freedom Act. The act seeks to ensure U.S. ownership of .gov and .mil top-level domains. The article also incorrectly stated the date of Houlin Zhao’s election. He was elected secretary-general of the ITU on Oct. 23, 2014 and took office on Jan. 1, 2015. Epoch Times regrets the errors.

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Imagine if a political party announced a new system of control over Hollywood that banned any negative portrayals of that party, and any negative portrayals of its police force or military. Imagine if it also banned positive portrayals of religion or any depiction of the supernatural, and if it banned any films that showed people violating its laws.

Hollywood is actually already following all of these requirements. But it’s not doing this on behalf of any U.S. political party. Rather, it is censoring movies to appease the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), in hopes of getting films into the Chinese market. And these films altered to appease the Chinese regime are often the same ones being shown in U.S. theaters.

Chinese companies are now buying key businesses in the American film industry, while many American filmmakers are partnering directly with Chinese companies and working directly with CCP offices to censor and alter their films. The CCP is now gaining control over what Hollywood can and cannot produce.

The stated interest of Chinese leaders in influencing Hollywood goes far beyond mere censorship and profit. They are waging a cultural war, and their victims are American viewers and the creative freedom of an American icon.

Hollywood is America’s dream factory. More than any other cultural form, it shapes the American imagination. It gives us common ground for a national conversation, and, to a significant degree, our national character is formed through the medium of popular film. And now the CCP is inserting itself directly into the making of the stories we use to understand ourselves.

Perception Management

According to an Oct. 28, 2015, report from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), “China views film as a component of social control,” and notes that when it comes to Chinese policies for regulating content in films, “the CCP’s concerns are positioned above all other interests.”

This position can be seen clearly in some of the films that have been censored or blocked due to the CCP’s systems of control.

[‘Men in Black 3′ was] forced to cut a scene in which civilians’ memories are erased, a scene that a Chinese newspaper wrote may have been perceived as a commentary on China’s internet censorship policies.

— US-China Economic and Security Review Commission

The 2013 film “Captain Phillips” features Tom Hanks as an American cargo ship captain who is rescued from Somali pirates by a team of U.S. Navy SEALs. The report states the CCP blocked it from being shown in China “because of the film’s positive portrayal of the United States and U.S. military.”

Tom Hanks (L) and Barkhad Abdi promote the film “Captain Phillips” in Los Angeles in September 2013. The movie was unable to appear in China, because it portrayed the U.S. military in a positive light. (Araya Diaz/Getty Images for Sony)

A scene in the 2006 film “Mission: Impossible 3,” starring Tom Cruise, showed clothes drying on a clothesline in Shanghai. It was removed from Chinese screenings, the report states, “because it was not a positive portrayal of Shanghai, despite the fact that the film was partially shot in Shanghai, where many people do not own dryers.”

The report notes the 2012 film “Men in Black 3” was “forced to cut a scene in which civilians’ memories are erased, a scene that a Chinese newspaper wrote may have been perceived as a commentary on China’s internet censorship policies.”

A list of similar cases could go on for some time, and could include the 2010 film “Karate Kid,” which, despite being made with heavy CCP oversight, ran into trouble because its villain was Chinese; and a 3-D release of the 1985 film “Top Gun,” which was rejected, the report states, “because it portrayed U.S. military dominance.”

According to Amar Manzoor, author of “The Art of Industrial Warfare,” the CCP’s use of films can be understood as similar to the way a company promotes its brand while attacking that of its key rival.

Manzoor used the 2014 film “Transformers: Age of Extinction” as an example. The action film featured at least 10 Chinese product placements—from real estate companies to computers to wine. He said, “From the media side they were looking for a Chinese presence within the American film industry, because they can get better penetration with American films than they can with just Chinese films.”

It plays into the broader idea, Manzoor said, that if you infiltrate a high-class culture, and place yourself in a perceived favorable position alongside it, it has the effect of improving the image of your own brand.

The CCP’s “brand” is one of human rights abuses, censorship, shoddy products, espionage, and authoritarian rule, but through censoring film, the Party aims at skewing international perceptions in its favor. It forces Hollywood not to show any of these negative elements and instead to give China a false, positive image. And it also forbids Hollywood films from giving a positive portrayal of the United States, the Chinese regime’s main competitor.

The best arts cause us to question, to think. They motivate us to consider new options, and the communists don’t want that.

— Ronald J. Rychlak, professor, University of Mississippi School of Law

According to Ronald J. Rychlak, a law professor at the University of Mississippi School of Law, authoritarian regimes have been using films for political gain since the early 20th century.

“The entertainment industry is tremendously influential—go back and look at how the Soviets controlled movie theaters and ballet. The Nazis did the same thing,” Rychlak said.

Rychlak is well versed in the topic. He co-wrote the book “Disinformation” with Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest-ranking Soviet bloc intelligence official to ever defect to the West, and details tactics used by communist regimes to create false narratives and alter perspectives.

“The best arts cause us to question, to think,” Rychlak said. “They motivate us to consider new options, and the communists don’t want that.

“Artists may talk about the power of art, but totalitarians really understand the power of art, because they abuse it.”

A System for Control

The filmmakers of “Iron Man 3” took many steps to appease the Chinese regime, which included them creating additional scenes and locations in the Chinese version, which featured Chinese actors and Chinese locations. (WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)

Hollywood has been open to the CCP’s censorship because it believes there is a golden opportunity in the China market.

The CCP manipulates Hollywood’s desire to cooperate by limiting how many foreign films are allowed in, a quota system that violates the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Only 34 Western films may be shown in China each year, and so the Western studios are made to compete with one another for the CCP’s favor.

While SAPPRFT’s authority is intentionally broad, its mandate specifically includes provisions protecting the interests of the CCP.

— US-China Economic and Security Review Commission

The terms of entrance are strict. Hollywood must choose between getting a 25 percent cut of box office sales or selling their films to the CCP at a set price. The films are chosen by the Chinese state agency in charge of film censorship known as the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT).

“While SAPPRFT’s authority is intentionally broad, its mandate specifically includes provisions protecting the interests of the CCP,” states the report, noting that the agency’s director, “like all SAPPRFT officials,” is a member of the CCP “with a long career as a propagandist.”

Eligibility for one of these 34 film slots, meanwhile, is a bit like Russian roulette, since the CCP isn’t consistent about what film content it allows and what it rejects. This leads filmmakers to go beyond the CCP’s surface-level standards and make more direct attempts to appease Chinese censors.

Leaked emails from Sony Pictures Entertainment exposed some of the thinking behind studios’ alterations to fit the CCP’s liking. According to a July 2015 report from Reuters, Sony executives removed a scene of the Great Wall being damaged and of a “Communist-conspiracy brother” hacker in the 2015 film “Pixels” because they feared the scenes would impact the film’s eligibility for the Chinese market. Scenes showing the Washington Monument, the Taj Mahal, and parts of Manhattan being destroyed were left in.

Chinese actor Wang Xueqi, who stars in the Chinese release of “Iron Man 3”, with an actor posing as Iron Man in front of Beijing’s old city gate during the promotion of the film. (DMG Entertainment)

“Even though breaking a hole in the Great Wall may not be a problem as long as it is part of a worldwide phenomenon, it is actually unnecessary because it will not benefit the China release at all. I would, then, recommend not to do it,” wrote Li Chow, chief representative of Sony Pictures in China, in a December 2013 email to senior Sony executives, according to Reuters.

Other films have taken similar measures. The 2012 film “Red Dawn” originally featured Chinese communists invading the United States, but this was changed to North Koreans.

Hollywood has another path to the China market besides self-censorship: working directly with Chinese companies on the films and granting CCP officials with SAPPRFT more direct oversight of the filmmaking process. Taking this approach means the films aren’t classified as foreign films.

The coproductions come with additional requirements, however. According to the USCC report, these can include “having at least one scene shot in China, casting at least one Chinese actor, receiving a minimum one-third of the movie’s total investment from Chinese companies, and, in general, illustrating ‘positive Chinese elements.’”

The 2013 film “Iron Man 3,” for which Disney partnered with China’s DMG Entertainment Group, took this approach. The filmmakers took heavy steps to appease the CCP, such as creating additional scenes and locations in the Chinese version that featured Chinese actors and Chinese locations. They also cast British actor Ben Kingsley as the villain named The Mandarin, a character that is Chinese in the comic books the film is based on.

If you’ve started to notice that Hollywood films are increasingly showing the United States in a negative light, as well as opposing religion and praising the Chinese regime, you’re not imagining things—these are requirements that the CCP has placed on Hollywood, and most major studios are following these requirements in order to get a spot in Chinese theaters.

And with Chinese companies on a spree of buying or partnering with foreign film assets, these forms of censorship could soon become even more prevalent.

China’s Shopping Spree

AMC Empire 25 in New York on Aug. 23, 2016. The Chinese company Dalian Wanda Group purchased AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. in 2012 for $2.6 billion. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)

An AMC movie theater near Times Square on Aug. 23, 2016. The Chinese company Dalian Wanda Group purchased AMC Entertainment Holdings in 2012 for $2.6 billion. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)

While Hollywood has been busy seeking out Chinese companies for partnerships to get an easier ticket to China, Chinese companies have been settings their sights on film assets abroad, deepening the CCP’s influence over the global film industry.

Dalian Wanda Group became the first Chinese firm to own a major Hollywood studio in January when it purchased Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion in cash. This followed its purchase of AMC Entertainment Holdings, which operates AMC Theaters—the second largest cinema chain in the United States—in 2012 for $2.6 billion.

It also owns Australian movie theater company Hoyts Group, leading European cinema operator Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group, and China-based Wanda Cinema Line, and there are reports of it trying to buy a 49-percent stake in Paramount Pictures.

Other major Chinese companies involved in targeting Western assets include Tencent, DMG Entertainment (DMG Yinji), Baidu, and the state-owned television outlet CCTV.

Many of these companies have opaque connections to the CCP, but regardless of how deep their ties do or do not go, most companies in China are required to have a CCP liaison. The state-run Chinese news outlet Xinhua recently published a report that stated this requirement, noting that “the Party constitution stipulates that organizations of more than three members” should have a CCP branch. This requirement also includes foreign companies with offices in China.

Regardless of whether or not the companies themselves have motives to promote the CCP, being based in China means they are held to the CCP’s laws—including its laws on censorship. And at the higher levels of the Chinese regime, the CCP has clearly stated its interest in using films and other forms of information and entertainment to strategically push its own agenda.

‘Culture Warfare’

Tom Cruise in “Top Gun.” The recent release of the 3-D version of “Top Gun” was banned in China because it “portrayed U.S. military dominance.” (Paramount Pictures)

In October 2012, former CCP leader Hu Jintao gave a speech at a party plenum that “some foreign media saw … as a declaration of war against Western culture,” as Asia Times noted.

Hu said that as a matter of strategy, many countries “strengthen their cultural soft power.” He went on to claim that “international hostile forces are stepping up their strategic attempts to Westernize and divide our country, and ideological and cultural fields are a focus of their long-term infiltration.”

He accused Western “spiritual pollution” and “bourgeois liberalization” as the cause of pro-democracy movements and called on the CCP to “heighten our vigilance” and to “take effective countermeasures.”

Culture Warfare was just one of 12 strategies they laid out in what they called war with ‘no limits’ and ‘without morality.’

The speech coincided closely with Dalian Wanda Group’s 2012 purchase of AMC Theaters.

In a March 2012 report on Hu’s speech, Huffington Post noted: “One thing we can count on is a revamped effort at censorship, Big Brother surveillance, and thought control. This may sound like hyperbole, but it isn’t; President Hu Jintao has, in fact, been very blunt on these points.”

While such a strategy from the CCP may sound secretive and dubious, the CCP has actually been fairly loud with its rhetoric against U.S. entertainment and with its own strategies to counter this with “culture warfare.”

David Major, founder and president of the CI Centre, a U.S.-based company offering training in counter-intelligence, explained the nature of the CCP’s ideas behind culture warfare during a June 9, 2016, testimony to the USCC. He said culture warfare “means influencing the cultural biases of a targeted country by imposing your own cultural viewpoints.”

Major noted the strategy ties to a broader Chinese unconventional warfare system known as Unrestricted Warfare, detailed in 1999 by two Air Force colonels and political officers in the People’s Liberation Army. Culture Warfare was just one of 12 strategies they laid out in what they called war with “no limits” and “without morality.”

One of the CCP’s more recent strategies along these lines, known as the Three Warfares, pulls directly from the Unrestricted Warfare doctrine and focuses more specifically on perception management. The CCP’s Central Committee and the Central Military Commission approved the Three Warfares for use by the CCP’s People’s Liberation Army in 2003.

The Three Warfares are Psychological Warfare, Media Warfare, and Legal Warfare. In a March 2015 report, U.S. Special Operations Command explained the CCP’s use of these warfare concepts—as well as similar concepts used by Iran and Russia—and called on the United States to begin countering them.

The two parts of the Three Warfares strategy directly relevant to culture warfare are Psychological Warfare and Media Warfare. According to the report, Psychological Warfare “seeks to undermine an enemy’s operational ability by demoralizing enemy military and civilian populations” using systems including television, radio broadcasts, rumors, and other means. Media Warfare “seeks to influence domestic and international public opinion to build support for military actions and dissuade adversaries from actions contrary to China’s interests.”

It must be recognized we are in a full state of competition with American films. … This is about defending and fighting for cultural territory.

— Zhang Hongsen, head, Chinese agency in charge of film censorship

Legal Warfare, the third tier of the system, can be seen playing out in the CCP’s manipulation of international law by restricting imports on films, in violation of WTO rules.

Many public remarks by CCP leaders and military officers demonstrate how the Chinese regime views the strategic use of entertainment under the doctrine of Culture Warfare.

In December 2013, the Chinese military newspaper Zhongguo Guofangbao slammed a video game, “Battlefield 4,” for portraying a Chinese general as its villain. It accused the game of being “a new form of cultural penetration and aggression” that aimed “to discredit one country’s image in the eyes of other countries.” It also claimed that featuring a Chinese general as an enemy in the game would cause Western audiences to see China as the “common enemy.”

When the above statements are taken in context along with the CCP’s banning of films like “Captain Phillips” and the 3-D version of “Top Gun” for showing the U.S. military in a positive light, the strategic thinking becomes more clear.

In August 2014, the CCP began restoring 1930s films for what South China Morning Post called a “culture war” and “soft power push.” It noted the CCP said in June 2014 it would invest 100 million yuan (about $15 million) to fund 5–10 “influential films.”

Zhang Hongsen, the head of SAPPRFT, said, according to South China Morning Post: “It must be recognized we are in a full state of competition with American films. … This is about defending and fighting for cultural territory.”

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Joseph Lian Yi-zheng speaking to the press on Aug 9, 2016. (Kiri Choi/Epoch Times)Joseph Lian Yi-zheng speaking to the press on Aug 9, 2016. (Kiri Choi/Epoch Times)

The Hong Kong Economic Journal (HKEJ) has abruptly cancelled the column of its former lead writer and veteran commentator Joseph Lian Yi-zheng in a business restructure and overhaul.

Lian’s termination, which occurred as the September Legislative Council election approaches, has caused much discussion and indignation.

An assistant professor of journalism at Baptist University, To Yiu-ming, noticed that the HKEJ has driven away many columnists over the past few years, and the newspaper has been tightly controlled. Since media freedom keeps shrinking, some columnists have begun to write columns for the Chinese edition of Epoch Times in Hong Kong, To said.

To thinks the closure of Lian’s column must have been under the influence of the Chinese regime.

He believes Lian’s articles are an important asset for the HKEJ, and the removal of his column is unfavourable to the newspaper’s business, reputation, and experience; so the decision must have been made under political pressure.

He worries that the column of Lam Hang-chi, the founder of the newspaper, might be at risk as well.

Senior journalist Ching Cheong thinks axing Lian was not a smart decision. He said the HKEJ needs to compete with the Hong Kong Economic Times, and its price is also HK$1 more expensive than other newspapers. Its commentary columns are what makes it stand out, he believes.

Lian posted his last column in the HKEJ on Aug 1.

“I don’t think freedom of speech is gone in Hong Kong,” he stated. “Such freedom as a core value runs deep in our blood, and thus any plot to silence the people will ultimately be of no avail.”

HKEJ founder Lam criticized the disrespectful way the current editor-in-chief handled the case in his column on Aug 2.

“No matter how unspeakable the real reason is or what kind of pressure the current chief editor is being faced with, the manner in which she turned away Dr Lian was utterly disrespectful and, to some extent, a disgrace to journalistic values,” Lam wrote.

Veteran cartoonist Yuen Chow-tai, who publishes under the name Yat Muk, has announced his resignation from the HKEJ to support Lian. Yat Muk has been working for the newspaper for 28 years.

“This is no longer the HKEJ that I know,” he said.

'To see clearly is everybody's business' - Yat Muk's last cartoon on HKEJ. (screen shot)

‘To see clearly is everybody’s business’ – Yat Muk’s last cartoon on HKEJ. (screen shot)

On Aug 2, Yat Muk issued his last comic sketch (pictured above).

“When there are more restrictions in the environment, and commentators need to be careful of what they can say, I can only choose to leave for my own freedom,” he said.

Former HKEJ deputy editor Yau Ching-yuen was one of the key personnel who left the newspaper in a wave of resignations in 2013. He said the unexpected closure of Lian’s column truly reflects the fact that press freedom “has gone beyond the bottom line, to the fourth stage of cancer.”

He said that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been using two types of weapons to achieve power: the gun and the pen. They have always tried to control media of high reputation.

“Lian has been known as Hong Kong’s leading writer. Without him, the HKEJ only has Lam Hang-chi,” said Yau.

“If they cannot keep Lam Hang-chi there, then they don’t need to carry on the business. The situation is quite miserable now,” Yau added.

Yau joined the HKEJ after he gained recognition from Lam. He remembers the good old days when Lam and his wife operated the newspaper in a literary style.

“Everyone could freely express his or her opinion, as long as it was valid and well-reasoned. It was a rational discussion,” Yau recalled.

Alice Kwok

Alice Kwok (L) took over as editor-in-chief of the HKEJ after Leung Chun-ying (R) took office as Chief Executive in 2012. (Stone Poon/Epoch Times)

Alice Kwok (L) took over as editor-in-chief of the HKEJ after Leung Chun-ying (R) took office as Chief Executive in 2012. (Stone Poon/Epoch Times)

 Alice Kwok Yim-ming has served as editor-in-chief of the HKEJ since 2013. Since then, the newspaper has experienced several self-censorship incidents.

Quite a few columnists have been requested to rewrite, cut things out, and even cease publication. Edward Chin’s 9-year column and current affairs commentator Lai Chak-fun’s column were terminated.

When Kwok was the managing editor at Metro Broadcast, she was alleged to have been involved in media censorship: including the dismissal of local interview director Paul Cheung, the cold treatment of news about the anti-Tung Chee-hwa movement, reports about the persecuted spiritual discipline Falun Gong, and negative news of Metro’s parent company, Cheung Kong Group.

Commentator: Space for freedom tightening

Lai Chak-fun’s column was cancelled by HKEJ on Jan 1 this year also in the name of restructuring. He believes that he was terminated because he touched the CCP’s sensitive red tape in his column by mentioning the downfall of senior CCP officials such as Fang Fang, Song Lin, and Guo Boxiong, as well as former military official Xu Caihou’s money-laundering in Hong Kong.

Lai thinks Lian has always been a critic of Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying. If Leung was not directly involved in the incident, he must have put some pressure on the newspaper, Lai said.

Lai now publishes his column articles in the Chinese version of Epoch Times. The column name is Political Economics, the same name as his column in HKEJ before.

He stated that he has served as a columnist in a number of newspapers, but all of them are tightening the space for freedom. Epoch Times gives him freedom, so he chose Epoch Times.

Edward Chin, a senior hedge fund manager and a former columnist at the HKEJ, was suspended in 2014 prior to the democratic Umbrella Movement. Now he also has a column at Epoch Times.

In an interview with Standnews posted on Aug 5, Lian told the Internet media that he would like to have a rest first, but he promised that readers will see him again very soon.

Translated by Susan Wang. Edited by Sally Appert.

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A recent South Korean court order cancelling a series of classical music and dance performances due to pressure from China has caused concern among human rights advocates around the world, including U.S. Congress member and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus of Korea, Rep. Loretta Sanchez of California’s 46th District.
“Censorship and stifling artistic expression are clear infringements on freedom of speech,” said Rep. Sanchez, who is also a member of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus and the most senior female member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, in a written statement.
“Shen Yun has a right to perform and I condemn any censorship on artistic expression. I am gravely concerned by China’s interference in an artistic performance in South Korea. This is an unacceptable and gross overreach.”
Shen Yun has a right to perform and I condemn any censorship on artistic expression. I am gravely concerned by China’s interference in an artistic performance in South Korea. This is an unacceptable and gross overreach.— Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.)

The May 4 decision in Seoul cancelled four sold-out performances of New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts, scheduled to take place that following weekend. The ruling cited fears by theater owner Korea Broadcasting System (KBS) of losing business with China and revealed that the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China had sent at least two letters to KBS containing “thinly veiled threats” of that nature, according to a press release by Shen Yun.
KBS produces Korean television dramas that are popular in China. Court documents showed the company estimated millions of dollars in losses per year if it could not export this broadcasting to the mainland.
Ironically, the judgment was issued by the same court that had ordered KBS to allow Shen Yun to perform in a ruling two weeks earlier. KBS had originally cancelled the theater rental for Shen Yun at KBS Hall in Seoul after the contract had already been signed.
“The new ruling was announced half an hour before all administrative offices, courts, embassies, and theaters went on a national holiday, which, when combined with the subsequent weekend, extends until after the scheduled performances are over,” said the Shen Yun press release.
KBS Hall, the theater venue run by Korean state broadcaster KBS in Seoul, the capital. (Gwanhae Seong)
Shen Yun is the world’s premiere classical Chinese dance and music company, founded in 2006 with the mission of reviving the authentic, divinely inspired culture of China, which has been nearly lost in China today. Four companies tour the globe each year, bringing stories and legends to life on stage from ancient, and occasionally modern Chinese history.
It is this modern history that seems to have upset the Chinese regime. A Shen Yun performance typically portrays scenes of the persecution of spiritual and religious practices in China, such as Buddhism during the Cultural Revolution and the meditation practice Falun Gong today.
MORE:Korean Court Gives In to Chinese Regime’s Blackmail
Because of this clear display of events the Chinese regime seeks to hide, Shen Yun has become a target of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Shen Yun has reported dozens of incidents of harassment, threats, and website attacks. The tires of a Shen Yun tour bus in eastern Canada were even found slashed just deep enough to explode at high speeds, fortunately discovered before the bus left for its destination.
“Shen Yun is a respected world-class international performing arts group based in America, yet has been subject to a troubling pattern of harassment from Beijing,” said Rep. Sanchez, who is now running for the U.S. Senate. “I strongly condemn the Chinese government’s consistent attempts to prevent Shen Yun from performing around the world, through tactics like threatening foreign theaters and foreign government officials.”
Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) speaks to members of the media following a meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 2, 2009. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Another U.S. Congresswoman, Grace Napolitano of the 32nd District of California, and other officials and scholars agreed that the CCP and the South Korean court were out of line.
“It’s unfortunate that they get into the arts that give so much joy to people and express the true nature of all culture,” said Rep. Napolitano. “It should be shown. It’s just unbelievable they would not want them to perform regardless of the political influences.”
“If we’re going to stand for freedom and defend our allies, we must have shared values, and shared values have to start with freedom of expression, freedom of speech, artistic freedom,” said Dennis Halpin, a visiting scholar at the U.S.-Korea Institute at the School of Advanced International Studies and former senior professional staff member for the U.S. Congress Foreign Affairs Committee. “I understand the South Korean constitution guarantees freedom of speech. This should be the basis for a court decision.”
“It’s regrettable that the Seoul Korean government was pressured by China to stop this really important cultural presentation on the basis of a threat with respect to commerce,” said Canadian Senator Don Meredith. “I am quite shocked and dismayed that this would have continued in this 21st century. … I think in the future that all countries should not capitulate to idle threats, with respect to what they believe. I think they should stand up for that and ensure that these kind of cultural festivals do go on.”
Shen Yun recently completed 31 sold out or nearly sold out performances in the Greater Los Angeles area, Bakersfield, and Santa Barbara. Three of those performances were added due to strong local demand. Shen Yun Performing Arts was also welcomed by more than 100 federal, state, and local elected officials through proclamations, certificates, and congratulation letters.

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HONG KONG—In what is being referred to by some as a “flat-swap gate,” Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee reportedly swapped flats with Chan Ung-lok, the sister-in-law of Macau casino magnate Stanley Ho, to evade taxes.
The flat swap was made when Fung was still the director of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD). This month, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) officially launched an investigation on this flat swap deal, which made Fung the most senior serving officer to have been investigated by the ICAC so far.
This is only the latest controversy for the LCSD, which has come under fire for scandals ranging from corruption to political censorship of theatrical performances. Recently, more details have unfolded regarding the political censorship employed by the LCSD to block international performing groups and hinder the exchange of art and culture in Hong Kong.
All of these scandals rang alarm bells for the Hong Kong people again, as Hong Kong public servants’ tradition of integrity and neutrality has been increasingly eroded by communist ideology. The flat-swap gate serves as another warning for Hong Kong officials who sell out ethics to flatter the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
On April 1, HK01 weekly magazine revealed that Fung had reached an agreement in 2013 with a company owned by Chan, the sister of Stanley Ho’s third wife. This agreement was allegedly used to evade taxes by swapping Fung’s flat in Robinson Place in Mid-Levels plus HK$6.5 million for Chan’s two adjoining flats in Happy Valley.
According to information provided by Fung, on exchange of the deeds HK$585,000 was paid in taxes. However, if the sale and purchase had been made the normal way, the buyer and seller would have shouldered the burden of stamp duty up to HK$5.84 million.
After Fung denied knowing Chan was the owner of the Happy Valley flats, media revealed that Fung’s husband, Wilson Fung Wing-yip, the executive director of business development of the Airport Authority, had transactions with Chan 10 years ago when he, as a government officer, was handling the traffic rights and heliport application that was submitted by Chan’s company. This event is allegedly a collusion and transfer of benefits between businessmen and government officers.
Earlier this month, Wilson Fung issued a statement on Facebook to announce that he did not tell his wife about his contact with Chan.
After the public’s ongoing questioning of Betty Fung’s integrity came the announcement that the ICAC had launched an investigation this month on the suspected transfer of benefits in her property transaction.
Before Betty Fung was promoted to Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, she assumed the post of LCSD Director for the Home Affairs Bureau from August 2009 to August 2014. From 1994 to 1996, she was the Press Secretary for former Chief Secretary Anson Chan and former Financial Secretary Donald Tsang, who later became Hong Kong Chief Executive.
Some local media have described Betty Fung as Tsang’s favourite person, as Tsang also served as the witness for Fung’s marriage. The Fung’s have been experiencing a meteoric rise so far.
“National” furore
Before the exposure of Betty Fung’s flat-swap gate, local media revealed that the LCSD had prohibited the troupe “Nonsensemakers” from using the Chinese character “national” in “Taipei National University of the Arts,” which was to be printed in their programme book.
Subsequent reports disclosed that the LCSD has long been requiring Taiwanese performance groups or performers to delete the Chinese character “national.” Such an “unspoken rule” is just the tip of iceberg of the political reviews conducted by the LCSD.
The “national” incident outraged Hong Kong arts circles and the public. People from all walks of life condemned the LCSD for throttling Hong Kong people’s freedom of speech and creation as well as seriously obstructing the development of arts and culture in Hong Kong.
Shen Yun
It has been a long time since the LCSD began to cooperate with the CCP to conduct political censorship of performing arts groups. During Betty Fung’s tenure as the LCSD director, Tsang’s government obstructed Shen Yun Performing Arts, a top international arts group based in the United States, from performing in Hong Kong.
In 2009, the Hong Kong Association of Falun Dafa, as the host for Shen Yun’s performance in Hong Kong, organized seven shows in the Hong Kong Academy in January 2010. However, because the Hong Kong Immigration Department refused to grant entry visas to six key technicians, the performance had to be cancelled.
In April 2010, the host filed a judicial review to charge the Hong Kong Immigration Department with illegally disapproving the visa application. On March 9, 2011, the High Court ruled in favour of the host.
Since 2011, the Shen Yun organizer has continued to apply to the LCSD for hiring government venues, including Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Tsuen Wan Town Hall, Sha Tin Town Hall and Tuen Mun Town Hall. More than 100 applications were submitted, and they were all rejected.
Many politicians believe it is evident that the Hong Kong government cooperates with the CCP to conduct political censorship of performing arts groups. This has turned the Hong Kong government into an international laughingstock, since the LCSD, though it is in charge of multiple performance venues, cannot approve an application for hiring one of its venues for a first-class international arts troupe.
Established in 2006 and headquartered in New York, Shen Yun Performing Arts mainly features classical Chinese dance. Last year, Shen Yun’s four performing groups toured the world, performing more than 400 shows in top theatres including the Lincoln Centre in New York, the Kennedy Centre in Washington, DC, and the London Coliseum.
In many of these notable venues, Shen Yun miraculously broke the box office records. However, because the content of the show is entirely beyond the control of the Chinese communist regime, Shen Yun Performing Arts has so far been unable to set foot in mainland China or Hong Kong.
Dance competition
In August 2012, the television network New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV) from the United States held a preliminary round of its International Classical Chinese Dance Competition in Hong Kong for

Read the full article here
  • Tags:, , , , , ,
  • Author: <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/author/lin-yi/" rel="author">Lin Yi</a>, <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/" title="Epoch Times" rel="publisher">Epoch Times</a> and <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/author/stone-poon/" rel="author">Stone Poon</a>, <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/" title="Epoch Times" rel="publisher">Epoch Times</a>
  • Category: General

HONG KONG—In what is being referred to by some as a “flat-swap gate,” Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee reportedly swapped flats with Chan Ung-lok, the sister-in-law of Macau casino magnate Stanley Ho, to evade taxes.
The flat swap was made when Fung was still the director of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD). This month, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) officially launched an investigation on this flat swap deal, which made Fung the most senior serving officer to have been investigated by the ICAC so far.
This is only the latest controversy for the LCSD, which has come under fire for scandals ranging from corruption to political censorship of theatrical performances. Recently, more details have unfolded regarding the political censorship employed by the LCSD to block international performing groups and hinder the exchange of art and culture in Hong Kong.
All of these scandals rang alarm bells for the Hong Kong people again, as Hong Kong public servants’ tradition of integrity and neutrality has been increasingly eroded by communist ideology. The flat-swap gate serves as another warning for Hong Kong officials who sell out ethics to flatter the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
On April 1, HK01 weekly magazine revealed that Fung had reached an agreement in 2013 with a company owned by Chan, the sister of Stanley Ho’s third wife. This agreement was allegedly used to evade taxes by swapping Fung’s flat in Robinson Place in Mid-Levels plus HK$6.5 million for Chan’s two adjoining flats in Happy Valley.
According to information provided by Fung, on exchange of the deeds HK$585,000 was paid in taxes. However, if the sale and purchase had been made the normal way, the buyer and seller would have shouldered the burden of stamp duty up to HK$5.84 million.
After Fung denied knowing Chan was the owner of the Happy Valley flats, media revealed that Fung’s husband, Wilson Fung Wing-yip, the executive director of business development of the Airport Authority, had transactions with Chan 10 years ago when he, as a government officer, was handling the traffic rights and heliport application that was submitted by Chan’s company. This event is allegedly a collusion and transfer of benefits between businessmen and government officers.
Earlier this month, Wilson Fung issued a statement on Facebook to announce that he did not tell his wife about his contact with Chan.
After the public’s ongoing questioning of Betty Fung’s integrity came the announcement that the ICAC had launched an investigation this month on the suspected transfer of benefits in her property transaction.
Before Betty Fung was promoted to Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, she assumed the post of LCSD Director for the Home Affairs Bureau from August 2009 to August 2014. From 1994 to 1996, she was the Press Secretary for former Chief Secretary Anson Chan and former Financial Secretary Donald Tsang, who later became Hong Kong Chief Executive.
Some local media have described Betty Fung as Tsang’s favourite person, as Tsang also served as the witness for Fung’s marriage. The Fung’s have been experiencing a meteoric rise so far.
“National” furore
Before the exposure of Betty Fung’s flat-swap gate, local media revealed that the LCSD had prohibited the troupe “Nonsensemakers” from using the Chinese character “national” in “Taipei National University of the Arts,” which was to be printed in their programme book.
Subsequent reports disclosed that the LCSD has long been requiring Taiwanese performance groups or performers to delete the Chinese character “national.” Such an “unspoken rule” is just the tip of iceberg of the political reviews conducted by the LCSD.
The “national” incident outraged Hong Kong arts circles and the public. People from all walks of life condemned the LCSD for throttling Hong Kong people’s freedom of speech and creation as well as seriously obstructing the development of arts and culture in Hong Kong.
Shen Yun
It has been a long time since the LCSD began to cooperate with the CCP to conduct political censorship of performing arts groups. During Betty Fung’s tenure as the LCSD director, Tsang’s government obstructed Shen Yun Performing Arts, a top international arts group based in the United States, from performing in Hong Kong.
In 2009, the Hong Kong Association of Falun Dafa, as the host for Shen Yun’s performance in Hong Kong, organized seven shows in the Hong Kong Academy in January 2010. However, because the Hong Kong Immigration Department refused to grant entry visas to six key technicians, the performance had to be cancelled.
In April 2010, the host filed a judicial review to charge the Hong Kong Immigration Department with illegally disapproving the visa application. On March 9, 2011, the High Court ruled in favour of the host.
Since 2011, the Shen Yun organizer has continued to apply to the LCSD for hiring government venues, including Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Tsuen Wan Town Hall, Sha Tin Town Hall and Tuen Mun Town Hall. More than 100 applications were submitted, and they were all rejected.
Many politicians believe it is evident that the Hong Kong government cooperates with the CCP to conduct political censorship of performing arts groups. This has turned the Hong Kong government into an international laughingstock, since the LCSD, though it is in charge of multiple performance venues, cannot approve an application for hiring one of its venues for a first-class international arts troupe.
Established in 2006 and headquartered in New York, Shen Yun Performing Arts mainly features classical Chinese dance. Last year, Shen Yun’s four performing groups toured the world, performing more than 400 shows in top theatres including the Lincoln Centre in New York, the Kennedy Centre in Washington, DC, and the London Coliseum.
In many of these notable venues, Shen Yun miraculously broke the box office records. However, because the content of the show is entirely beyond the control of the Chinese communist regime, Shen Yun Performing Arts has so far been unable to set foot in mainland China or Hong Kong.
Dance competition
In August 2012, the television network New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV) from the United States held a preliminary round of its International Classical Chinese Dance Competition in Hong Kong for

Read the full article here
  • Tags:, , , , , ,
  • Author: <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/author/lin-yi/" rel="author">Lin Yi</a>, <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/" title="Epoch Times" rel="publisher">Epoch Times</a> and <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/author/stone-poon/" rel="author">Stone Poon</a>, <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/" title="Epoch Times" rel="publisher">Epoch Times</a>
  • Category: General

HONG KONG—In what is being referred to by some as a “flat-swap gate,” Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee reportedly swapped flats with Chan Ung-lok, the sister-in-law of Macau casino magnate Stanley Ho, to evade taxes.
The flat swap was made when Fung was still the director of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD). This month, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) officially launched an investigation on this flat swap deal, which made Fung the most senior serving officer to have been investigated by the ICAC so far.
This is only the latest controversy for the LCSD, which has come under fire for scandals ranging from corruption to political censorship of theatrical performances. Recently, more details have unfolded regarding the political censorship employed by the LCSD to block international performing groups and hinder the exchange of art and culture in Hong Kong.
All of these scandals rang alarm bells for the Hong Kong people again, as Hong Kong public servants’ tradition of integrity and neutrality has been increasingly eroded by communist ideology. The flat-swap gate serves as another warning for Hong Kong officials who sell out ethics to flatter the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
On April 1, HK01 weekly magazine revealed that Fung had reached an agreement in 2013 with a company owned by Chan, the sister of Stanley Ho’s third wife. This agreement was allegedly used to evade taxes by swapping Fung’s flat in Robinson Place in Mid-Levels plus HK$6.5 million for Chan’s two adjoining flats in Happy Valley.
According to information provided by Fung, on exchange of the deeds HK$585,000 was paid in taxes. However, if the sale and purchase had been made the normal way, the buyer and seller would have shouldered the burden of stamp duty up to HK$5.84 million.
After Fung denied knowing Chan was the owner of the Happy Valley flats, media revealed that Fung’s husband, Wilson Fung Wing-yip, the executive director of business development of the Airport Authority, had transactions with Chan 10 years ago when he, as a government officer, was handling the traffic rights and heliport application that was submitted by Chan’s company. This event is allegedly a collusion and transfer of benefits between businessmen and government officers.
Earlier this month, Wilson Fung issued a statement on Facebook to announce that he did not tell his wife about his contact with Chan.
After the public’s ongoing questioning of Betty Fung’s integrity came the announcement that the ICAC had launched an investigation this month on the suspected transfer of benefits in her property transaction.
Before Betty Fung was promoted to Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, she assumed the post of LCSD Director for the Home Affairs Bureau from August 2009 to August 2014. From 1994 to 1996, she was the Press Secretary for former Chief Secretary Anson Chan and former Financial Secretary Donald Tsang, who later became Hong Kong Chief Executive.
Some local media have described Betty Fung as Tsang’s favourite person, as Tsang also served as the witness for Fung’s marriage. The Fung’s have been experiencing a meteoric rise so far.
“National” furore
Before the exposure of Betty Fung’s flat-swap gate, local media revealed that the LCSD had prohibited the troupe “Nonsensemakers” from using the Chinese character “national” in “Taipei National University of the Arts,” which was to be printed in their programme book.
Subsequent reports disclosed that the LCSD has long been requiring Taiwanese performance groups or performers to delete the Chinese character “national.” Such an “unspoken rule” is just the tip of iceberg of the political reviews conducted by the LCSD.
The “national” incident outraged Hong Kong arts circles and the public. People from all walks of life condemned the LCSD for throttling Hong Kong people’s freedom of speech and creation as well as seriously obstructing the development of arts and culture in Hong Kong.
Shen Yun
It has been a long time since the LCSD began to cooperate with the CCP to conduct political censorship of performing arts groups. During Betty Fung’s tenure as the LCSD director, Tsang’s government obstructed Shen Yun Performing Arts, a top international arts group based in the United States, from performing in Hong Kong.
In 2009, the Hong Kong Association of Falun Dafa, as the host for Shen Yun’s performance in Hong Kong, organized seven shows in the Hong Kong Academy in January 2010. However, because the Hong Kong Immigration Department refused to grant entry visas to six key technicians, the performance had to be cancelled.
In April 2010, the host filed a judicial review to charge the Hong Kong Immigration Department with illegally disapproving the visa application. On March 9, 2011, the High Court ruled in favour of the host.
Since 2011, the Shen Yun organizer has continued to apply to the LCSD for hiring government venues, including Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Tsuen Wan Town Hall, Sha Tin Town Hall and Tuen Mun Town Hall. More than 100 applications were submitted, and they were all rejected.
Many politicians believe it is evident that the Hong Kong government cooperates with the CCP to conduct political censorship of performing arts groups. This has turned the Hong Kong government into an international laughingstock, since the LCSD, though it is in charge of multiple performance venues, cannot approve an application for hiring one of its venues for a first-class international arts troupe.
Established in 2006 and headquartered in New York, Shen Yun Performing Arts mainly features classical Chinese dance. Last year, Shen Yun’s four performing groups toured the world, performing more than 400 shows in top theatres including the Lincoln Centre in New York, the Kennedy Centre in Washington, DC, and the London Coliseum.
In many of these notable venues, Shen Yun miraculously broke the box office records. However, because the content of the show is entirely beyond the control of the Chinese communist regime, Shen Yun Performing Arts has so far been unable to set foot in mainland China or Hong Kong.
Dance competition
In August 2012, the television network New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV) from the United States held a preliminary round of its International Classical Chinese Dance Competition in Hong Kong for

Read the full article here
  • Tags:, , , , , ,
  • Author: <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/author/lin-yi/" rel="author">Lin Yi</a>, <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/" title="Epoch Times" rel="publisher">Epoch Times</a> and <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/author/stone-poon/" rel="author">Stone Poon</a>, <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/" title="Epoch Times" rel="publisher">Epoch Times</a>
  • Category: General

There has been a large outcry against Twitter’s appointment of its first China managing director, Kathy Chen, on April 15, and several major news outlets have noted her controversial background which has sparked concern among Chinese users.
With her new position at Twitter, Chen is expected to help get Chinese advertisers for the microblogging platform. It’s also not a far-shot to say Twitter is hoping that Chen can be a first step to getting its service un-banned in Mainland China.
There are a few problems with Chen, however, with some relating to her background, and others related to her rumored underlying goals.
Chen used to serve in a sensitive branch of the Chinese regime’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and has ties to the digital operations of the Ministry of Public Security.
According to several sources, including Voice of America, Chen served as an engineer in the PLA’s Second Artillery Corps, which controls the Chinese regime’s ballistic missiles. She later worked as an engineer in its Nov. 1 Research Academy as a “programmer on the top-secret missile protocol design.”
Chen then moved to a joint venture between CA Technologies and the Ministry of Public Security, serving as CEO of CA-Jinchen, which made network security and anti-virus software for Chinese government agencies.
As Voice of America notes, however, the phrases “network security” and “anti-virus” are loaded terms under the Chinese regime. The op-ed from Chinese author and economist He Qinglian says anyone familiar with Chinese politics knows these systems are used in China for censorship and control of the Internet.
With this in mind, it’s understandable that some Chinese citizens—and especially many Chinese dissidents—are concerned about what Chen’s role could bring to Twitter.
Washington-based Chinese activist Yaxue Cao wrote on Chinachange.org that Chen’s role could be far from benign. Cao notes Chinese-language news sources reporting that Chen has “three clear goals” at Twitter.
The first goal is to tell the “China story.” The second is to “help large and medium-sized Chinese companies tell the story of their brands.” The third is to “communicate and exchange” in technology and advertising with Chinese mobile and Internet companies.
“All this may sound innocuous to untrained ears, but it’s alarming to mainland Chinese Twitter users and seasoned China watchers,” Chen states.
The Chinese regime has often pushed the idea of “telling the China story,” and uses the phrase as an order for its state-run news outlets. She states that CCTV has “responded with the notorious slogan: ‘The Party’s media bears the surname of the Party!’”
What telling the “China story” really means is telling the “CCP’s story.” It refers to the environment of extreme censorship, the promotion of the CCP’s altered versions of Chinese history, and its excuses for human rights abuse and totalitarian rule.
Chen notes that “while direct Twitter censorship is unlikely,” Chinese people who use Twitter either abroad or with circumvention tools are “concerned that the hiring of Chen Kui could be the beginning of Twitter’s cooperation” with the CCP’s public security systems, with the CCP-hired propagandists increasing their work on the platform.
It didn’t help that one of Chen’s first tweets, sent to China’s state-run CCTV News and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, states “let’s work together to tell great China story to the world!”

@cctvnews @jack let’s work together to tell great China story to the world!
— Kathy Chen (@kathychen2016) April 15, 2016
On another level, Twitter is likely playing the same game as Facebook—making some moves to try to swoon CCP elites.
When Facebook, which is also banned in China, announced in May 2014 it was considering opening an office in China, it was widely reported that its interest was both to get advertisers and an attempt to get its service unblocked.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is still trying to get into the Chinese market, with cringeworthy episodes including his recent jog through Beijing smog, and his meeting with China’s propaganda chief with a copy of Xi Jinping’s book sitting prominently on his desk.
The goal of Twitter and Facebook in China is likely something that resembles the deal that LinkedIn was given in 2014. Epoch Times reported that after it was allowed to open its services in China, LinkedIn began censoring users on behalf of the CCP.
LinkedIn confessed in June 2014 that it blocked information in China that users were posting about the Tiananmen Square massacre. Epoch Times also learned that LinkedIn was also censoring posts related to the CCP’s human rights abuses against Falun Gong practitioners.
Twitter’s stock has been steadily declining for years, falling from 69 points on January 3, 2014, to their current 17.26 points.
MORE:CHINA SECURITY: Under Veil of Cybersecurity, China Looks to Govern the Global Internet
As InvestorPlace reports, Twitter doesn’t need more advertisers—which is Chen’s surface role. What it needs is more users.
Despite having the least free Internet in the world, according to independent watchdog organization Freedom House, China holds close to 20 percent of the world’s Internet users.
Twitter is likely playing a familiar game. It’s no secret that for a tech company to get into China, it first needs to demonstrate it’s willingness to follow orders from the CCP—particularly when it comes to being willing to actively censor information shown in China, and in only portraying the CCP in a positive light.
Chen’s alleged secondary role to tell the “China story” is likely Twitter’s first step in this direction.

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Many artists were shocked and concerned over censorship issues when Hong Kong’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) made a controversial request to delete the word “national” from the name of a Taiwanese university in a theatrical troupe’s performance booklet.
The LCSD asked the theatre company “The Nonsensemakers” to delete the word from the resume of a member who graduated from the Taipei National University of the Arts.
Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah spent two minutes reading a press release about the topic at a press conference on March 22. Then he left immediately without answering reporters’ questions.
The Leung Chun-ying administration continued to shy away from the issue on March 23. When questioned by reporters that day, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was largely evasive and only spent 10 seconds responding to the queries.
Curtailing creative freedom Candace Chong Mui-ngam, spokesperson of the interest group Artists Action, was concerned about further intervention from the government and whether this would lead to self-censorship, since most of the production costs come from government funding.
“Artists themselves start to worry,” said Chong. “Some things cannot be said, while some things need to be said with caution.”
In her capacity as a playwright, Chong said that censorship has never been an issue for her in the past, and hearing about the “no national” incident came as a shock.
She said Hong Kong’s political climate and the curtailment of freedom of press in Hong Kong are worrying trends, and she was concerned about this shadow spreading to the theatre.
“The theatre is a good platform to reflect various social events, and currently its content has not met with intervention,” said Chong.
She added that the incident had a negative influence, and she hopes to maintain the valuable space of creative freedom.
Meanwhile, Chan Chu-hei, artistic director of Theatre Horizon, said that his company is funded by the Arts Development Council (ADC). Each year the ADC will fund one programme, and this is quite important to every theatre company, he said.
Chan said he currently does not face any pressure content-wise. However, when asked how he would handle it if faced with a similar incident, he said he would be in a dilemma because of restrictions of the contract.
Joseph Wong Wing-ping, the former secretary for the civil service, suggested in a newspaper column that Lau should clarify who prohibited the use of “national” or similar wording, and how to handle similar incidents in the future in order to avoid self-destroying the “one country, two systems” principle in Hong Kong.
Translated by Benjamin Ng. Edited by Sally Appert

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This news analysis was originally dispatched as part of Epoch Times China email newsletters. Subscribe to the newsletters by filling your email in the “China D-brief” box under this article.
Chinese authorities haven’t been too secretive about their ambitions to govern the Internet, not just in China, but also globally.
The latest step in this push was revealed on March 25, with the founding of China’s first national nonprofit organization for cybersecurity, the Cyber Security Association of China.
The association is being led by Fang Binxing, a key figure who helped build the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) system for censoring the Internet, the Great Firewall. Its secretary-general is Li Yuxiao, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Cyberspace, and a proponent of China governing the global Internet.
It has 275 founding members, including major Internet firms, cybersecurity companies, scientific research institutions. These include Baidu, Alibaba, the National University of Defense Technology, and others.
While the program is being touted with the “cybersecurity” label, that phrase has a lot more meaning under the Chinese regime. The state-run Xinhua news outlet reported it will function as a “cooperation platform” for anyone interested in working with China on “cyber space safety.”
Chinese state media repeated that China’s interest in cybersecurity ties to its goals to, as Global Times reports, “realize the nation’s strategic goal of becoming a strong Internet power.”
The goal of the organization, according to South China Morning Post, is to “serve as a bridge” between the Chinese regime and the public, and to “organize and mobilize forces in all aspects of society to participate in building China’s cybersecurity.”
All of this ties back to a push that was brought to the surface around November 2014, when the CCP hosted its first World Internet Conference, which had the slogan, “An Interconnected World Shared and Governed by All.”
Li Yuxiao was among the speakers, and stated according to the state-run China Daily, “Now is the time for China to realize its responsibilities.”
At the time, the United States had announced its plans to relinquish federal control over the Internet—a process it only recently completed by giving up its control of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
Li viewed the U.S. move as an opportunity. He stated, according to China Daily, “If the U.S. is willing to give up its running of the Internet sphere, the question comes as to who will take the baton and how it would be run?”
“China is transforming from a participant of the Internet into having a leading and dominant role in it,” he said, adding “We have to first set our goal in cyberspace, and then think about the strategy to take, before moving on to refining our laws.”
Li repeated this goal more recently, in a Dec. 18, 2015, interview published on the World Internet Conference website.
He said China “has a right, as the country with the most netizens, to make the international rules of cyberspace governance.”
He adds, “The establishment of rules is just a start.”
A report from the Chinese state-run news outlet, Xinhua, states that “China’s efforts in Internet governance can be summed up as ‘cleaning cyberspace in accordance with the law; exploiting it with an open mind.’”
The CCP’s new association on cybersecurity carries the same overall message.
The new program isn’t really about “cybersecurity.” It’s about cyber governance, and about extending law into the Internet—in this case, the laws of the authoritarian Chinese regime.
For the CCP, the word “cybercrime” is more than just hackers. As Xinhua states, “the Chinese government has stepped up the crackdown on online rumors, pornography, gambling and other cyber crimes.”
Those “other cyber crimes” tend to be a major focus in the CCP’s systems for Internet control—and include suppression of religion, free speech, and of people promoting democracy. A 2015 assessment of global Internet freedom from independent watchdog organization Freedom House, ranked China dead last—putting it behind even Cuba and Syria.
The CCP has been touting a line that the Internet is controlled by Western powers—particularly the United States—and it has been using this as the backbone for its push to gain participation in its programs from other countries.
Xinhua wrote in December 2015, that the CCP and developing countries suffer from “a lack of joint governance” online, and it blames this on the West, stating it is “mainly caused by some Western countries’ arrogance and monopoly of information and communication technologies.”
Despite Xinhua’s accusations against the United States, and other countries including Japan and even Sweden, it also had stories defending the Chinese regime’s use of the Internet as a tool for political and ideological suppression.
It even directly criticized Google for pulling out of Mainland China in 2010. Google left China over the CCP’s strict censorship of the Internet, and after uncovering a spree of Chinese state-run cyberattacks targeting its networks.
In reality, the Internet is governed by a multi-stakeholder model, where rather than having pure government control, it’s run loosely by a large and open network of stakeholders in the Internet that includes businesses, civil groups, research institutions, and non-government organizations.
Government oversight still plays a role, but typically only deals with crime and abuse.
The CCP wants to change this, globally, with its model of strict government control over all facets of the Internet, and all companies involved in the Internet.
After the 2015 conference, the Council on Foreign Relations reported that the CCP would likely do more to gain influence over the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) of the United Nations.
The ITU is a governing body in charge of telecommunications, and is trying to gain more power over the global Internet. With China and Russia as two prominent members of the United Nations, they’ve pushed major programs in the past to direct the ITU’s role in global Internet governance in their favor.
MORE:CHINA SECURITY: As Chinese Regime’s Weapons Makers Advance, Democracy Loses
Some of the authoritarian programs proposed for global Internet governance through the ITU were outlined by the Center for Democracy and Technology, while the ITU was holding its meeting on rules for the Internet in November 2012. These included, it states, programs to decrypt information passing

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A college student in central China recently broached two topics deemed sensitive by the Chinese communist regime—he supports a democratic republic and is critical of Mao Zedong—and was soon hauled away for psychiatric treatment.
“I wrote about my faith in the Republic of China; I advocated a unified China under a republic, and the return of democracy. I also wrote that Mao Zedong is the greatest butcher, and expressed other opinions along those lines,” said Lao Yeli to New Tang Dynasty Television (NTD), a New York based Chinese language broadcaster that is part of the Epoch Media Group. “Someone then took a screenshot of my remarks and reported me to the school administration,” he added.
Wholly unamused with their student’s political declarations and his refusal to retract them, the school officials at an unnamed university in Wuhan that the 22-year-old Lao was attending checked him into a mental hospital on March 25 on grounds that he had “personality defects and held extremist ideas.”
Lao told NTD on March 28, while still detained in the psychiatric hospital,that he had aired his opinions on his school’s Tencent QQ microblog. Some Internet users (Lao believes they were paid regime commentators) asked why he had used the flag of Taiwan—the so-called “Blue Sky, White Sun, Red Earth” design—as his microblog display picture.
Taiwan, an island in the South China Sea, is officially known as the Republic of China; the Republic of China is also the state of China from 1919 to 1949. The democratic government of Taiwan and the Chinese communist regime observes the so-called 1992 Consensus, or the understanding that there is one China, and that both governments have a claim to it.
Wishing for mainland China to be democratic, however, is mentally unsound behavior, at least by the reaction of Lao Yeli’s college.
In an interview with Radio Free Asia, Lao said that he had “only accepted two treatments” at the mental hospital, “a standardized physical therapy and a foot therapy,” indicating that he does not appear to have been subject to psychiatric torture, as often takes place in the case of political enemies who are locked in psychiatric detention facilities.
“The hospital originally insisted that I take medications and injections, but I rejected them,” Lao said. He added that he would be discharged from on March 29.
Chen Yongming, a scholar of the Chinese constitution, told NTD that the Chinese regime has been confining college students who espouse democratic ideals to mental institutions since the 1980s, along with “many democracy activists.”
“The Chinese regime adopts this practice to ruin a person’s reputation—others would think that the democracy advocate is mentally challenged, and this would cause society at large to alienate them,” Chen said.
In the early years of the campaign to persecute the Falun Gong spiritual practice, psychiatric torture was also widely used. After intense international attention and pressure, including meticulous documentation of the abuses being conducted, the practice was largely abandoned (though Falun Gong adherents are still detained and tortured in large numbers using conventional means).

Lao doesn’t bear any ill feelings toward the parties who informed on him, but regrets his temporary incarceration.
“To tell the truth, nothing would happen if the person had reported me to the police. There are many in China who say similar things; if arrests were made, half of the Chinese population would be sitting in jail,” Lao told NTD. “Since the school was involved, however they summoned my parents over, and confined me in a mental institution, where I’ve lost my freedom.”
He added: “I guess I’ll be released tomorrow.”

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Many countries around the world are replacing their old bills with coins to increase the money’s durability and curb counterfeiting, among other practical reasons. China is replacing its one dollar bills for the aforementioned reasons—and for censorship.
On Jan. 12, the Jinan Branch of People’s Bank of China announced on its website that commercials banks would stop issuing 1 yuan bill and instead issue 1 yuan coins. This initiative will start with 5 cities in the province of Shandong in eastern China before being extended to an additional 4 cities. The goal is to eventually stop the circulation of the bill in the chosen cities.
The bank did not provide a reason for its decision. However, many Chinese media, including People’s Net, the online version of state mouthpiece People’s Daily, applauded the decision. Chinese media noted that moving from paper money to coins brings several advantages: longer money durability, convenience, health reasons (coins can be cleaned), and environmental benefits (coins can be recycled).
Switching to coins would also help “to eliminate the spread of reactionary comments with the small denomination banknotes by criminals” and “cleanse the money circulation environment,” according to People’s Net.  
Chinese state media doesn’t make it clear who these “criminals” are or what they mean by cleaning up the “money circulation environment.” However, a group of Chinese people have been actively writing on paper bills to raise awareness of an ongoing persecution.
Practitioners of Falun Dafa, or Falun Gong—a self-improvement practice that involves meditative exercises and moral teachings of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance—have for the past 16 years been suppressed by the Chinese regime. According to incomplete data from Minghui.org, a clearinghouse of information about the persecution of Falun Gong, over 3,900 practitioners have been killed and hundreds of thousands of others have been incarcerated in the regime’s prison system.
One note with words about Falun Gong. (NTDTV)
To counter the Communist Party’s propaganda against Falun Gong, some practitioners write messages on Yuan notes in the hopes that their fellow Chinese citizens will chance on their message when making purchases. Commonly written writings include: “People from All Over the World Know Falun Dafa Is Good” and “The Whole World Will Trial the Murderous Party.”
Falun Gong practitioners are risking their safety in writing on Yuan notes. In November 2013, Liu Yanhua and Wu Wenjin, Falun Gong practitioners in Yichun City, Heilongjiang Province, were each sentenced to 10-year prison term for exchanging currency with messages about Falun Gong.
China’s Internet users’ reaction to the discontinuing of the 1 Yuan bill proved mixed, with some preferring bills while others favoring coins. But Chinese netizens certainly believe that censorship is one of the reasons for phasing out of paper money, and they are critical of the Chinese regime for doing so.
“Explanations that betray public opinion are more easily rolled out,” wrote “Focused on Being a Good Person for 30 Years” on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service.
“The real reason is not hygiene or financial issues, but because reactionary comments, a prevalent phenomenon, can be too easily written on the 1 Yuan note,” wrote Anhui netizen “To Lie.”

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BEIJING—China’s government has highlighted big data, encryption technology and “core technologies” such as semiconductors as the key elements of its push to grow into a tech powerhouse, according to a new five-year plan released Saturday that envisages the Internet as a major source of growth as well as a potential risk.
Even as it highlighted the need to improve Internet infrastructure to rural areas and unlock the digital economy’s potential, Chinese economic planners called for a more secure and better managed Web, with enhanced Internet control systems, Internet security laws and real-name registration policies.
Chinese officials including Internet czar Lu Wei have played down concerns over what critics have described as China’s expanding Web censorship, saying that it is the Chinese government’s sovereign prerogative and a necessary measure to maintain domestic order.
China’s development plan calls for a better cybersecurity approval system and more “precise” Web management to “clean up illegal and bad information.”
The plan also calls for a multilateral, democratic, transparent and international governance system and active participation in international Internet governance efforts.
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Premier Li Keqiang highlighted the promise of the Internet, saying Saturday that various traditional sectors, ranging from manufacturing to government to health care, need to connect to the Web and raise their efficiency as part of an overarching national strategy called “Internet Plus.” He vowed to raise research and technology spending to account for 2.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the five years through 2020, which he said would mark a “remarkable achievement.”
The five-year plan calls for all families in large cities to have access to 100 megabyte-per-second Internet service and broadband coverage reaching 98 percent of the population in incorporated villages.
At the same time, Chinese leaders, wary of over-relying on foreign technology, will seek to boost China’s homegrown industry and cut down on imports—a strategy that has drawn complaints from trade partners like the United States.
MORE:Chinese Cybercriminals Go Global in Hacker UndergroundXi Jinping Tours State Media, Solidifies Control Over Propaganda
Similar to previous years, when Chinese leaders highlighted industries such as e-commerce as a growth focus, the new draft of China’s development plan specifically elevated big data and cloud computing, relatively new and promising fields that Chinese industry experts view as not yet cornered by U.S. companies that dominate other parts of the technology market.
The plan also calls for China to catch up on “core” technologies such as semiconductors and basic computer parts and software, as well as encryption technology.
China’s campaign to beef up its chip technology has encountered political resistance from the United States. China’s national chip champion, Tsinghua Unigroup, said last month that it would abandon its attempt to acquire a stake in California data storage firm Western Digital, the second deal it has scrapped because of opposition from U.S. regulators who do not want sensitive technology to fall into Chinese hands.
MORE:China’s Publishing Ban Has Far-Reaching ImplicationsUN Criticism of China Gains Support Online

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Security officials in the county of Hengshan, Shanxi Province, were much more direct than is typically expected about their designs on the news media in China— than would typically be expected, at a forum on Feb. 1: They hung a banner across the wall declaring the need to “strike hard against the media.”
That China has no freedom of speech is well-known, and the persecution of journalists and bold Internet users has become a part of life for many—but censorship is typically carried out covertly, so the brazenness of the statement was surprising, even in China.
Photographs of the offending banner quickly went viral and were reported in overseas Chinese media.
Overwhelmingly on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service, netizens said that the security officials had accidentally told an unspoken truth—that one of the security bureau’s tasks was to silence the press.
“This is a terrifying reality in China,” wrote an Internet user in Beijing. For another netizen in Fujian Province, the revelation did not come as a surprise. He or she wrote “The Chinese Communist Party were bandits to begin with.”  
A netizen from Henan Province provided a different read on the story, writing: “Crackdown on People’s Daily, Global Times, and CCTV—that would be a crackdown well done.”
The security authorities in Hengshan have since issued an apology to the press, saying that there should have been an “and” between the words “strike hard” and “media.” A careless staff member made the error, they said.
But the apology fell on deaf ears online. “First you said what was really on your mind, then you said you weren’t careful. This isn’t much of a cover-up,” wrote as user on Sina Weibo.
“It doesn’t make any sense when adding the missing word ‘and,’” wrote a netizen from Sichuan. “Without ‘and,’ it makes perfect sense.”

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In the name of “maintaining social security,” the Chinese regime spends billions of dollars to bolster its security apparatus every year. However, despite this exorbitant expenditure, the authorities in Beijing still don’t think its residents adequately safe from supposedly dangerous ideologies.
At a Jan. 13 press conference, the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau lauded the accomplishments of four groups of district security volunteers, and publicly unveiled a fifth group, the Online Police Volunteers.
Established in 2014, the 3,000-member strong Online Police Volunteers is comprised of mainly youngsters—80 percent are born after 1980s—and people from all walks of life, according to People’s Net, the online version of state mouthpiece People’s Daily. Volunteers are responsible for scouring the Chinese Internet for “criminal leads,” assisting the police with Internet censorship and cybersecurity, and reporting Internet users who “spread rumors.”
Citizen public security volunteers serve as the Chinese Communist Party’s eyes and ears on the ground, monitoring and spying on their fellow citizens. Far from stabilizing society, Chinese Internet users and observers suggest that the presence of these informants only generates friction between the Chinese people and the communist regime.
Many Chinese Internet users reacted angrily to the unveiling of the Online Police Volunteers on Sina Weibo, a popular microblogging website.
The new volunteer security group “will soon themselves become the targets of social harmony and stability,” wrote Internet user “Adil—–” in a post. Other Internet users likened the group to “criminal accomplices,” “Nazi thugs,” and even “modern-day Red Guards.”
The Red Guards were impressionable Chinese youth in the 1960s mobilized by Mao Zedong to attack “counterrevolutionaries”—the Communist Party’s political enemies—and destroy traditional Chinese culture during the tumultuous decade of the Cultural Revolution.
The strong online reaction can in part be explained by a recently enacted Chinese legislation that targets the so-called “spreading of rumors.” As of Nov. 1, 2015, those found guilty of rumor mongering face up to seven years in prison.
The establishing of informant groups is an attempt by the Chinese authorities to get the “masses to struggle against each other,” said Xu Lin, a human rights activist from the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, to international broadcaster Radio Free Asia (RFA). He adds that the Chinese authorities wouldn’t be able to effectively intimidate the millions of Chinese netizens with their relatively scant volunteer online citizen police.
But the mere presence of citizen informants definitely deepens the rift between the regime and the people, Chinese blogger Ye Du told RFA in an interview.
“It’s like having a sword of Damocles hanging over head—anyone can be reported anytime.”

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