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 ...

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 ...

‘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 ...
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