‘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 ...

More Chinese officials’ relatives named in ‘Panama Papers’ investigation

More Chinese officials' relatives named in 'Panama Papers' investigation
JISHOU, HUNAN — Five more relatives of past and present China Politburo members have been identified as holders of secretive multi-million-dollar offshore assets by a worldwide group of journalists. The reports brings the number of Chinese offshore account holders to nine so far. The first four identified by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) include the brother-in-law of President Xi Jinping, and the granddaughter of former premier Li Peng. In a report today, the ICIJ named: Lee Shing Put, son-in-law of Zhang Gaoli, a current Politburo Standing Committee member, was a shareholder of three companies incorporated in the British Virgin Islands: Zennon Capital Management, Sino Reliance Networks Corporation and Glory Top Investments Ltd. Jia Liqing, daughter-in-law of Liu Yunshan, another Standing Committee member, was the director and shareholder of Ultra Time Investments Ltd., a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands in 2009. Zeng Qinghuai, brother of Zeng Qinghong, the vice president of China from 2002 to 2007, was the director of a company, China Cultural Exchange Association Ltd., that was incorporated first in the island nation of Niue and then re-domiciled in 2006 in Samoa. Hu Dehua, son of the late Hu Yaobang, who served as head of ...

Website updates took almost a whole day

Website updates took almost a whole day
JISHOU, HUNAN — What started out to be a few simple housekeeping chores turned into an all-day affair. I’d forgotten how time-consuming website maintenance can be. With a day off from classes, I wanted to clean up two things on the site that have been bothering me for months. Clean up the header, to put the site title and logo over the banner image, to recover some lost space. Refine/reinstall the PayPal and Bitcoin donation buttons. I tackled #2 first, because I naively assumed it would take less time than #1. Nope. Taking care of the PayPal donations button was not especially time-consuming, aside from dealing with PayPal’s hidden user profile page, which contains the merchant ID. I no longer have a merchant account, but the ID is still valid. Using it allows me to keep my personal email address out of reach of spammers when I use the PayPal donation button. You’d assume that PayPal would place the ID in plain sight, like on your profile page. I had to go to a usergroup discussion to find the link to it. PayPal still has the information; it’s just not included in the newly designed profile page. There will now ...

Chinese children’s book author #CaoWenXuan wins world book prize

Chinese children's book author #CaoWenXuan wins world book prize
JISHOU, HUNAN — Beijing author and literature professor Cao Wenxuan 曹文轩 has won the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen book award for children’s literature. Cao, 62, has written many children’s books, including Bronze and Sunflower (above), all of which have become beloved classics for two generations of readers. Cao is a professor of literature at Peking University 北京大学。 Born to a poor family in rural Jiangsu Province, Cao spent most of childhood barely having enough to eat, but he retains fond memories of country life. Many of his books are set in the countryside during the 1950s and 1960s. Bronze and Sunflower tells the story of a girl, Sunflower, during the Cultural Revolution. Her father is compelled to leave his job in the city to work in the countryside, and Sunflower accompanies him. When her father dies, Sunflower is taken in by the family of her friend, Bronze. Bronze is mute and illiterate, and Sunflower teaches the boy how to read and write. The process opens up a whole new world for Bronze as the two children become like brother and sister. Cao has already won several book prizes in China. This is his first international award. Details at BBC News. ...

‘Panama Papers’ leak names Chinese officials, gov’t quickly blocks web access

'Panama Papers' leak names Chinese officials, gov't quickly blocks web access
JISHOU, HUNAN — Family members of Chinese party officials — including President Xi Jinping — are among the very rich named in a massive exposé of secretive offshore financial accounts, but Chinese citizens will probably never hear about it. Within hours of the “Panama Papers” reports released today by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), China’s Internet censors blocked the ICIJ domain and any search engine queries for “Panama Papers.” (See screencap, above.) State news agencies likewise have no mention of the reports, which have so far named Xi’s brother-in-law and relatives of past and present Politburo members as only a few of the holders of offshore accounts sheltering billions of dollars internationally. English language news sites are so far not affected, but Chinese language sites are blocked or censored. Online discussion is also being monitored and blocked, the BBC reports. Chinese holders of overseas accounts whom the ICIJ has so far named are: Li XiaoLin, businesswoman and daughter of former Premier Li Peng. ICIJ revealed in 2015 she held nearly $2.48 million in a secret HSBC account in Switzerland. Deng Jiagui, brother-in-law of sitting President Xi Jinping. Bloomberg had already reported in 2012 that Deng and his wife ...

Controversial Hong Kong indie film, #TenYears, wins Asian film award

Controversial Hong Kong indie film, <em>#TenYears</em>, wins Asian film award
An independent film depicting a dystopian Hong Kong in the year 2025 won top honors at the Hong Kong Film Awards this weekend. The film, Ten Years, reflects the fears Hong Kongers have about the effects of reunification with mainland China. In five vignettes, the film suggests oppression familiar to readers of George Orwell’s 1984 will be normal, and that the freedoms present-day Hong Kong enjoys will slowly be eroded away. Needless to say, the film is banned on the mainland. According to the BBC, censors have blocked reports referring to the film’s award. Limited screenings are planned for the USA, and other countries. Produced on a HK$500,000 budget, the film has made HK$6 million so far, despite HK theaters limiting or canceling screenings, fearing government interference. No such interference occurred, however. Hong Kong citizens have been increasingly worried that the mainland government will exert more control over the special autonomous region (SAR), despite formal agreement in 1997 of the “one country, two systems” policy. That agreement, reached as Britain returned its former colony to China, assured that the mainland government would not interfere with the politics and laws already established in Hong Kong. But mainland authorities have so far ...

N. Korean defector told to leave China after she criticizes gov’t policy

N. Korean defector told to leave China after she criticizes gov't policy
Author and human rights activist Hyeonseo Lee was told yesterday to cut short her visit to Beijing, after her sharp criticism of the Chinese policy of repatriating North Korean defectors got wide media attention. In a Facebook post, Lee, a North Korean defector herself, said Chinese authorities told her she had to return to Seoul, South Korea, a day ahead of schedule. “Honestly, I was hiding in the bathroom at the airport in Beijing waiting for my flight. When I arrived in South Korea, I felt so relieved and grateful for a country that will accept and protect me,” she says in her Facebook post. Lee had come to Beijing for a “meet the author” event Sunday at The Bookworm-Beijing. Her memoir about her own escape from North Korea, The Girl With Seven Names, was published last year. During her talk, she criticized the Chinese policy of sending North Korean defectors back home, where human rights activists say they will be imprisoned or tortured for attempting to leave. Chinese authorities, for their part, claim the North Koreans are “illegal migrant workers,” who must be deported. Although Lee spoke to a mostly Western audience, a Chinese translation of an Agence France-Presse ...
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