DisneyLife online service is also now blocked in China, joining iTunes, iBook

DisneyLife online service is also now blocked in China, joining iTunes, iBook
JISHOU, HUNAN — New regulations in China have put the DisneyLife online service out of commission, joining Apple’s iTunes Movie and iBook stores. DisneyLife users reported in early March that their access to the subscription service had failed. According to the South China Morning Post, Beijing quietly passed a new law regulation media content, which makes it easier for China’s censors to pull the plug on content they feel is inappropriate. President Xi Jinping has been especially critical of “Western influences” on Chinese society and, especially, politics. It emerged on Friday that the two internet platforms were quietly closed under the new Regulation for the Management of Online Publishing Services, which was announced on February 13 and took effect early last month. It imposed more stringent rules on the online publication of original or adapted “creative works”, such as images, games, animation, comics, audio recordings and video. DisneyLife was a joint venture of the Walt Disney Co. and Alibaba’s Ali Digital Entertainment Group. Alibaba is a mainland e-commerce giant now branching out into other activities. It now owns South China Morning Post, for example. Under the new regulation, content providers must “self-censor” and abide by prevailing mainland Internet standards. Failure ...

Young Chinese author’s novelette short-listed for Hugo Award

Young Chinese author's novelette short-listed for Hugo Award
JISHOU, HUNAN — A dystopian novelette, Folding Beijing (北京折叠 běijīngzhédié) by Tianjin native Hǎo Jǐngfāng (郝景芳), 32, has been nominated as best novelette for the 2016 Hugo Awards. The novelette features a love story set in a future Beijing divided into zones, with each zone restricted to a certain social class. The city’s zones are physically moved around every 24 hours to give each space access to the outside world. A Third Space sanitation worker is hired by a student in the Second Space to bring a love letter to a girl in the First Space — the upper class. To achieve his quest, and get paid a handsome sum, Lao Dao must navigate the Change — the compaction and rotation of the city’s spaces. Uncanny Magazine published an English translation of Hao’s story by Ken Liu, who also translated The Three-Body Problem, a first-contact novel by Chinese author Liú Cíxīn 刘慈欣 which won a Hugo award last year. The Chinese text of Folding Beijing is available online, as well. Hao, who has been writing fiction since she was a teenager, has a bachelors degree in physics and a doctoral degree in economics and management from Beijing’s Tsinghua University. She’s ...

China shuts off iTunes, iBook services apparently to block “Ten Years” movie

China shuts off iTunes, iBook services apparently to block
JISHOU, HUNAN — China’s media censors have abruptly shut off access to Apple’s iTunes Movie and iBook stores, just before a dystopian movie about Hong Kong’s future became available for download on the services. The film, Ten Years (十年 shí nián), depicts a Hong Kong of 2025, where the former British colony’s freedoms have been washed away by mainland government rule. The independent film recently won the 2016 Hong Kong Film Award for Best Picture. Apple had been given permission to operate the stores in China seven months ago, but the iTunes movie and iBook stores went dark on the 15th. No official explanation was given, but The New York Times reported that the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) had ordered the services closed. The cutoffs happened just as the movie became available on Apple’s Hong Kong iTunes stores. Only mainland holders of Apple accounts are affected; those with accounts based abroad can still access the services. Apple Music is also unaffected. China’s censors earlier blocked reporting of the film’s award, and imposed a blackout on televising the awards program. The film paints a less than positive picture of mainland rule in Hong Kong, with ...

UPDATED: China remains at 4th lowest spot in press freedom rankings in latest report

UPDATED: China remains at 4th lowest spot in press freedom rankings in latest report
JISHOU, HUNAN — China’s ranking in an annual international press freedom survey remains at #176 out of 180 countries analyzed, the same position it held in 2015. The international organization, Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres – RSF), released its annual World Press Freedom Index on Wednesday, saying 2016 has been a bad year for journalists worldwide. The Index levels especially sharp criticism of China, which continues to be among the nations with the lowest press freedom rankings. UPDATE 4/27/2016: An editorial in the Chinese Communist Party news outlet, Global Times, scoffs at the ranking, claiming Reporters Without Borders ignores the differences between developed nations and developing nations. The constructiveness of journalism is more important than press freedom to developing countries. This constructiveness includes press freedom and supervision of the media, however it must incorporate understanding of different local political and economic development. The purpose of journalism is not to advocate its absolute freedom, but to help advance societal progress in a suitable way. Or, as President Xi Jinping has insisted, to serve the Party. In its summary of the Asia-Pacific region, RSF writes: In China (176th), the Communist Party took repression to new heights. Journalists were spared nothing, not ...

Censors tell Internet sensation, comedienne Papi Jiang to clean up her act

Censors tell Internet sensation, comedienne Papi Jiang to clean up her act
JISHOU, HUNAN — A wildly popular Youku and Weibo star, Papi Jiang, has had most of her videos pulled off China’s Internet sites, because state censors say she swears too much. Most of her videos are now missing, though they survive in their original form on her YouTube channel. Papi, whose full name is Jiang Yilei, is a 29-year-old student at Beijing’s Central Academy of Drama. Her videos mocking everyday situations have attracted millions of views on Youku (China’s version of YouTube) and Weibo (a Twitter-like microblog without that damnable 140-character limit). She’s so popular that she got more than $2 million in venture capital to expand her comedy enterprise. But, her tart tongue ran afoul of China’s media censors, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), who told her to edit her videos to take out the salty language. It’s part of the state’s efforts to “beautify” the Internet. (That’s official state Chinese for “censor.”) Papi posted on her website and Weibo account that the videos will reappear once she sanitizes them. She also apologized for offending anyone. “As a person from the media, I will pay more attention to my words and images. I ...

Careful, Chinese ladies, that handsome foreigner you love might be a spy 1

Careful, Chinese ladies, that handsome foreigner you love might be a spy
JISHOU, HUNAN — The Beijing government is warning its female workers that the next dashing foreigner wooing them could be a spy. For National Security Education Day, which apparently is a new thing here, the government has placed cartoon posters warning the ladies that handsome wàiguórén (foreigners) might be after more than just charming dinner conversation or Chinese lessons. No, they don’t mean sex. They mean state secrets, which if every state worker has access to, China has a bigger problem than “The Spy Who Loved Me.” The 16-panel cartoon, entitled “Dangerous Love” (危险的爱情 wēi xiǎn de ài qíng) tells the tragic story of Xiao Li, a pretty civil servant who falls for a “visiting scholar.” After he woos here with roses, dinner and probably pirated copies of banned TV shows, she inexplicably gives him secret state documents. They are soon arrested, and the final panels feature police scolding a handcuffed Xiao Li for having a “shallow understanding” of secrecy. Readers are left to imagine what happens to Xiao Li and her lover-spy next. It won’t be pleasant. There is no equivalent poster warning male workers of sultry Mata Haris exchanging sexual favors for state secrets. Apparently, the Party bosses ...

‘Papa, where are we going?’ — ‘Off the air, kiddo’

'Papa, where are we going?' -- 'Off the air, kiddo'
In their never-ending quest to make China’s airwaves wholesome, socialist and by the way thoroughly boring, China’s media censors have set down a new rule: no more shows featuring children of celebrities, like Kimi at right. The new edict effectively kills one of China’s most popular programs, Hunan Satellite TV’s 爸爸去哪儿 (Bàba qù nǎ’r? — Where Are We Going, Daddy?), which features celebrity fathers and their adorable children as they visit various rural places in China, get lost, play games and eat local food. Kimi Lin (aka 小小志), 7, was one of them. He and his father, Jimmy Lin ZhiYing 林志颖, appeared in the first season. Jimmy is a Taiwanese actor, singer and race car driver, and his wife, Chen RouYi 陈若仪, is a Taiwanese actress and model. Kimi, incidentally, was born in California. The show has since had two more seasons, with a different team of parents and kids each time, and has inspired two feature films. But now it’s off the air, because China’s media police, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), declared that TV programming should not glorify celebrities over more humble people, and should not propel innocent children into the public ...

S. Korea rejects North’s accusation it abducted restaurant workers from China

S. Korea rejects North's accusation it abducted restaurant workers from China
An embarrassed North Korea has accused its arch-enemy, South Korea, of abducting 13 defectors from Ningbo, China, last week. South Korea, meanwhile, insists the group came of their own free will. North Korea also obliquely criticized “a country” — namely, China — for assisting in the alleged (and imaginary) abduction. The 12 female employees and a male manager left Ningbo in Zhejiang Province on April 5, and arrived in Seoul to seek asylum on April 7. A Chinese foreign ministry official confirmed that the group had legal travel documents, suggesting China did not prevent their departure. North Korea has demanded the 13 be returned immediately, or South Korea would face “unimaginable serious consequences.” The article published by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) carries a statement of an unnamed spokesperson from North Korea’s Central Committee of the Red Cross Society. “We sternly denounce the group abduction of the citizens of the DPRK as a hideous crime against its dignity and social system and the life and security of its citizens,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying. “The recent case of ‘group defection’ cooked up by the puppet group is a crucial provocation against the DPRK which can never be tolerated ...

13 N. Korean restaurant workers legally leave China to defect to S. Korea

13 N. Korean restaurant workers legally leave China to defect to S. Korea
In what could be a slap in the face to its North Korean ally, China has allowed 13 restaurant workers to leave China legally to defect to South Korea. The 12 women and 1 man had been working at a North Korean-run Pyongyang restaurant in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, but left China with the proper legal documents, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said yesterday. Illegal workers in China are usually repatriated to North Korea if they are caught, but the restaurant workers likely had Chinese work or business visas. North Korea maintains 130 government-run restaurants around the world to bring in badly needed hard currency. News media have reported that workers in these restaurants are closely monitored and are rarely given freedom to move about. South Korea announced the defection on Friday, but said nothing about the workers leaving China. But Chinese foreign ministry Lu Kang said at a routine news conference that 13 North Koreans “were found exiting the Chinese border with valid passports” on April 6. China is North Korea’s only ally, and provides considerable aid (while also taking natural resources) from the so-called Hermit Kingdom. North Korean defectors found in China are generally sent back home, where they ...

Attendee posts YouTube video of N. Korean defector’s talk in Beijing; transcript below

Attendee posts YouTube video of N. Korean defector's talk in Beijing; transcript below
A recording of North Korean defector and author Hyeonseo Lee’s talk in Beijing March 27 has been posted on YouTube by a member of the audience. Taken with a cellphone camera, the hour-long video captures most of Lee’s remarks at The Bookworm-Beijing before a small, mostly non-Chinese audience. The video is shaky and the audio is not especially clear. I’ve provided a partial transcript below. Lee’s sharp criticism of China’s policy to repatriate defectors back to North Korea was already reported by Agence France Presse, and re-published widely across Chinese social media the same day. Chinese immigration officials then told Lee she would have to cut short her visit to China, and return home to South Korea immediately. Lee is the author of The Girl with Seven Names, a memoir of her escape in 1997 at the age of 17 from her hometown into neighboring China, and her eventual arrival in South Korea in 2008. She later returned to northern China to smuggle her mother and brother across China to join her in South Korea. She has also appeared at TED events and spoken to human rights organizations across the world about the situation in North Korea, and the hardships ...

Animation shows #Bitcoin transactions happening in real time

Animation shows #Bitcoin transactions happening in real time
If you don’t pay attention to the Bitcoin world, you probably aren’t aware how active the Bitcoin system (other known as the blockchain) is. Now there’s an app for that. It won’t fit on your phone, but a web visualization at bitbonkers.com (screencap above) will show you in real time what the Bitcoin world is doing After a rough-and-tumble beginning that saw Bitcoin prices soar to more than $1,000 from a measly $1, the computer-based currency has settled into a more settled dollar-exchange zone between $300 and $500 as it has become more widely used. Each cube represents a block of transactions within the Bitcoin shared ledger, the blockchain. The balls represent individual Bitcoin transactions, with different colors representing the size of the exchanges. Reds — representing transactions up to 1 BTC ($420 at this moment) — are the most common, but blues (100 – 1000 BTC) are pretty frequent, too, suggesting some users with deep pockets are using Bitcoin. Click on a ball to see the exact amount displayed on the right. If the sound effects get on your nerves, click the mute button at upper right to quiet things down. The project is part of the WebGL project, ...

Hong Kong publisher says mainland police entered HK to question him

Hong Kong publisher says mainland police entered HK to question him
JISHOU, HUNAN — As the saying goes, the plot thickens, as more details slowly come out about the five Hong Kong booksellers who disappeared, only to reappear on the mainland. One of their friends says mainland police questioned him — in Hong Kong — about the five men’s activities. Thing is, by treaty, mainland police are not supposed to have jurisdiction in HK, a Special Autonomous Region (SAR) of greater China. Hong Kong residents have suspected that the five men, who published and sold sensational books about corrupt Chinese Communist Party officials, were apprehended in Thailand, mainland China and Hong Kong by mainland security bureau agents late last year. They later resurfaced in Guangdong Province on the mainland, under mysterious circumstances. Hong Kong police say no mainland agents entered the SAR, but a friend of the five booksellers told the South China Morning Post (SCMP) that he was questioned at length on three occasions by three officers from the Guangdong State Security Department about the five men. Lau Tat-man, 65, also told the Post that security agents in Dongguan, Guangdong, detained his wife while she visiting there, and questioned her for four hours about the publishing business. The Post stated ...
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