Chinese Nobel laureate Liu XiaoBo in critical condition

Chinese Nobel laureate Liu XiaoBo in critical condition
Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liú Xiǎobō 刘晓波 is in critical condition in a Chinese hospital, the South China Morning Post reported today. A medical team is on standby to resuscitate him if necessary. Liu, 61, was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer and released from prison on medical parole in May. One of the principal authors of Charter 08, a pro-democracy manifesto, Liu was arrested and convicted in 2009 on charges of subverting state power. In 2010 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The Chinese government had ignored international appeals for his release until his health deteriorated earlier this year. Since May Liu has been treated in a hospital in Shenyang, Liaoning province. His condition rapidly worsened last week. Two foreign doctors recommended he be flown to an overseas hospital for more aggressive treatments, but his Chinese doctors claim he is too weak to be moved. This quote from the South China Morning Post suggests it is the government that has advised against moving Liu, however. Asked on Monday if Liu would be allowed to go overseas for treatment, Reuters reported that foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said: “China hopes relevant countries will respect China’s sovereignty and ...

Chinese Nobel winner to be freed from prison for cancer treatment

Chinese Nobel winner to be freed from prison for cancer treatment
JISHOU, HUNAN — Eight years after being jailed for alleged political crimes, Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liú Xiǎobō 刘晓波 will be released on medical parole, the South China Morning Post reports. Liu, 61, has terminal liver cancer, his lawyer told the Post. He is being treated outside the prison in Shenyang, Liaoning province. As one of the authors of the pro-democracy Charter 08 Manifesto, Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, for “his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” According to Wikipedia, Liu is the first Chinese citizen to be awarded a Nobel Prize of any kind while residing in China. One might assume that China would be proud, but the government has taken care to censor the news of Liu’s award and his incarceration. China’s government has not acknowledged the prize, other than to advise international delegates in 2010 to boycott the award ceremony or face “consequences.” Until Liu’s diagnosis in May, Beijing had refused international appeals to release him. His wife, Liú Xiá 刘霞, has also been under house arrest. Liu was arrested and tried in 2009 on charges of subversion of state power.

Chinese regulators may finally permit Bitcoin, Litecoin withdrawals

Chinese regulators may finally permit Bitcoin, Litecoin withdrawals
JISHOU, HUNAN — Word has it that the People’s Bank of China — China’s central bank — will finally allow exchanges to allow users to once again withdraw Bitcoin and Litecoin, possibly next month. Such withdrawals were halted in January as regulators examined the business practices of China’s major cryptocurrency exchanges. The supposed rationale was to limit fraud and criminal activity, but the basic reason was to stem a possible means of capital flight. The ban did not affect withdrawals to Chinese bank accounts, however. It applied specifically only to Bitcoin and Litecoin, the gold and silver of the cryptocurrencies. Other crypto-coins, like Ether and Zcash, were not included in the ban, as I later discovered. Anyway, as I’ve blogged earlier, the freeze on withdrawals closed off the principal method I used to transfer my monthly pay (in Chinese yuan) to my US bank account (in dollars). Bitcoin enabled me to move money quickly and cheaply. But since January, I’ve had to be more creative in transfers. A larger result of the withdrawal ban was to depress the market price of Bitcoin in China, sometimes by as much as $200, compared to the prices at foreign exchanges like Coinbase or ...

Update to the update to the Bitcoin saga

Update to the update to the Bitcoin saga
JISHOU, HUNAN — So, I got a reply from BTCChina today to my inquiry about continued use of their services. You can guess what it was. But here it is from the horse’s mouth. Good day! Our sincere apologies for this matter. BTCChina will no longer allow foreigners to use our services. You cannot use BTCChina from now on. Should you have further concerns, please do not hesitate to let us know anytime. Thank you very much and have a nice day! Best Regards, Customer Service 1011 This reply has two explanations. Given that both Huobi and BTCChina had no problem before with my using their exchanges with a foreign passport as ID, this new policy confirms that the government is trying to restrict the flow of Chinese yuan out of the country, other than by official channels, and that government regulators want the Chinese Bitcoin exchanges to only deal with Chinese citizens, who would be easier to control legally (or extra-legally) than foreign residents. While I have not heard back from Huobi about my bank card + passport issue, I can now assume that they will tell me the same thing as BTCChina — that Huobi can no longer ...

BBC reporters attacked by ‘thugs’ in Xinhua county, near Loudi, Hunan

BBC reporters attacked by 'thugs' in Xinhua county, near Loudi, Hunan
[CORRECTION ALERT: Xinhua is a county, not a township. I’ve corrected that error.] JISHOU, HUNAN — A BBC correspondent reported today that he and his team were attacked while attempting to interview a local woman about her petitions to the national government. The altercation occurred in a village of Xinhua county in the jurisdiction of Loudi, a city about three and half hours from Jishou. John Sudworth says a group of people prevented him from meeting Yang Linghua, a resident who planned to journey to Beijing to present her grievances to the national congress there. Then, Sudworth says he and his team were physically accosted and their equipment smashed. Then they were chased out of town. Eventually, uniformed police and local officials came out, and required Sudworth and the other journalists to sign a forced confession that they had conducted an “illegal interview.” Ms Yang was also detained, he says in his account. After we left the village, we were chased down and had our car surrounded by a group of about 20 thugs. They were then joined by some uniformed police officers and two officials from the local foreign affairs office, and under the threat of further violence, we ...

Beauty queen Anastasia Lin still being censored despite return to Miss World contest

Beauty queen Anastasia Lin still being censored despite return to Miss World contest
JISHOU, HUNAN — Changsha native Anastasia Lin, last year’s Miss World Canada, is still facing censorship for her outspoken criticism of China’s human rights record. Though the Miss World organization has allowed Lin, 26, to represent Canada in this year’s international pageant, her access to the press has been tightly controlled by the organization. Officials even interrupted Lin’s interview with a Boston Globe reporter a few days ago. Investors in the Miss World organization are mostly Chinese, according to news reports. Lin was crowned Miss World Canada last year, but China denied her a visa to participate in the international pageant held in Sanya, Hainan. Lin got as far as Hong Kong, but was told a visa to enter mainland China was not available. Organization officials allowed Lin to represent Canada in this year’s competition, which began last month. The finals will be held tomorrow evening at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland. A practitioner of Falun Gong, a spiritual movement considered dangerous by the Chinese government, Lin had made headlines with her sharp criticism of China’s suppression of Falun Gong, alleging the government was guilty of human rights abuses. Now, Lin is the star of a film ...

America safe for Chinese visitors now? I had no convincing answer 2

America safe for Chinese visitors now? I had no convincing answer
JISHOU, HUNAN — Yesterday we had English Corner, a regular event to give students a chance to practice their spoken English. During a lull in the activities, one student came over to ask me questions about the election of Donald Trump (R-Blowhard) as president. I’ll start with the last one, which floored me. “You know, I would like to study in the United States after I graduate. Will I as a Chinese be safe there?” Before Tuesday, I could answer this fairly confidently, “Yes, of course.” For the most part, students asking that question were not worried about prejudice against Asians, but about Americans toting guns everywhere. This time, though, the reason for the question was different, and not easy to address. Since Trump won, there have been scores of reports from across the USA about whites deliberately attacking African-Americans, Hispanics, Muslims, Asians, immigrants — anyone not obviously a white “American” — and telling them to die or leave. The worst incidents end up on the news, and that news finds it way around the world. Once perceived as a country of tolerance which welcomed people from all over the world, the United States now is perceived as a dangerous ...

Keith Olbermann rakes Trump over coals for not accepting possible Clinton win

Keith Olbermann rakes Trump over coals for not accepting possible Clinton win
JISHOU, HUNAN — Keith Olbermann has justly raked Donald Trump (R-Blowhard) over the coals for his coy suggestion that “we are going to have to see” whether to acknowledge Hillary Clinton as the winner of the election Nov. 8. During last week’s debate, moderator Lester Holt had asked the bombastic Trump if he would support Clinton if she won the election. Trump said yes, but a few days later told The New York Times, “We’re going to have to see. We’re going to see what happens. We’re going to have to see.” Trump has also told supporters at his campaign rallies to watch for voter fraud at the polls, leading others to worry about Trump supporters interfering with the voting process, or about possible violence after the results are in. Responding to these remarks on his GQ webcast, The Closer, Olbermann in a fiery broadside salvo accused Trump of single-handedly overturning the entire American electoral process and demeaning the previous 57 presidential elections by suggesting he would not accept the outcome as binding. “Get out of the election,” Olbermann said. “Get out of this country!” Citing close and pivotal elections from 1864 to 1960, Olbermann noted that no candidate in ...

The Baton Rouge ‘tank lady’ photographs by Reuters

JISHOU, HUNAN — leshia Evans was not standing in front of a line of Chinese PLA tanks, but her resolute and silent resistance to a phalanx of armored police officers in Baton Rouge shares some of the same meaning. Here’s the entire series of photos taken by Reuters photographer Jonathan Bachman. A woman was standing calmly, her long dress the only thing moving in the breeze, as two police officers in full riot gear confronted her in the middle of a roadway to arrest her. "She had no facial expression at all. She just stood there," said photographer Jonathan Bachman, 31, who was on assignment in the Louisiana state capital Baton Rouge to cover the Black Lives Matter protests over last week's fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling, 37, in the city. "I knew it was a good frame and it was something that would tell a story," Bachman said about the moment he captured the image of Ieshia Evans, a nurse from Pennsylvania, before she was arrested. A Sheriff's Office jail log showed a 35-year-old woman with that name was booked on a charge of simple obstruction of a highway and had been released from custody. #IeshiaEvans #ReutersPhotos #BatonRouge ...

‘Disappeared’ Hong Kong bookseller returns after 8 months, says his TV confession was scripted

'Disappeared' Hong Kong bookseller returns after 8 months, says his TV confession was scripted
JISHOU, HUNAN — Eight months after he disappeared from Hong Kong, bookseller Lam Wing-kee has returned home, with stories of his apprehension by mainland authorities and detention in a small room in Ningbo, Zhejiang province. Lam said his confession on mainland TV in February of selling banned materials was carefully scripted, and that his captors made him repeat the script several times until they were satisfied with the results. Lam and four other men associated with a Hong Kong bookstore selling books critical of the Chinese Communist Party disappeared from Thailand, Hong Kong and the mainland at different times last year. Lam returned two days ago. One associate, Swedish national Gui Minhai, remains in custody on the mainland. At a press conference at Legco — the Legislative Council for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) — Lam related how he was picked up in October on his way to Shenzhen, which lies just across the river from Hong Kong on the mainland. Though Britain returned its former colony to China in 1997, the SAR is supposedly autonomous; people passing between HK and the mainland must pass a border control point. As reported in the South China Morning Post today, ...

N. Korea still whinging about 13 defectors leaving China for S. Korea

N. Korea still whinging about 13 defectors leaving China for S. Korea
JISHOU, HUNAN — Nearly a month after 13 North Korea restaurant workers in Ningbo, China, left for South Korea, the North Korea government is still trying to save face. First, the North accused the South of forcibly abducting the 12 women and one man, but that idea didn’t hold much water after Chinese officials publicly stated the group had legal exit papers and were free to leave China. Reuters also reported that four of the women had gone shopping for backpacks two days before they left, and had told the salesclerk they were going on a trip. The North demanded their return, asserting the South had violated their human rights and threatening serious consequences if South Korea did not comply. South Koreans officials firmly said, “No way.” Official state media in the North have not reported on the defections, even as the government arranges melodramatic appeals for the foreign media. In the North Korea capital of Pyongyang, on April 20, North Korea trotted out seven tearful young women for an exclusive interview with CNN. The women, who all claimed to be former workers at the Ningbo restaurant, pleaded for their comrades to return, and told the CNN correspondents the 13 ...

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 ...
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