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 ...

‘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, ...

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 ...

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 ...

‘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 ...

UK accuses China of treaty infringement over missing booksellers; China replies, ‘MYOB’

UK accuses China of treaty infringement  over missing booksellers; China replies, 'MYOB'
KOTA KINABALU, SABAH, MALAYSIA — British and Chinese officials have engaged in a war of words over the detention of five Hong Kong booksellers, with UK’s foreign minister accusing China of interfering in Hong Kong affairs and Chinese officials replying that the UK should mind its own business. When Britain handed over its former colony, Hong Kong, to China in 1997, all three governments agreed to the “one country, two systems” policy, in which the Beijing government agreed to leave Hong Kong free to deal with its own citizens, as well as honor Hong Kong’s longstanding guarantees of free speech and a free press. But, when five Hong Kong men who publish and sell books critical of Communist Party officials abruptly disappeared over the last few months, Hong Kongers quickly suspected mainland authorities were behind it. One of them, Lee Bo, holds dual citizenship in the UK and China. British, Swedish and American officials have tried to persuade Chinese officials to explain what’s going on, but China, per its usual habit, has not obliged those requests. Yesterday, The Guardian reported UK foreign secretary Philip Hammond stated to Parliament that it was apparent that mainland officials had clearly interfered with Hong ...

HK indie dystopian film outperforms Star Wars VII on opening night, disappears

HK indie dystopian film outperforms <em>Star Wars VII</em> on opening night, disappears
KOTA KINABALU, SABAH, MALAYSIA — An independent film set in a dystopian Hong Kong of 2025 opened last month, and outsold the latest Star Wars episode. Then, it quickly disappeared from theatres, probably because it’s very critical of the mainland government. Ten Years (十年 shi nian) consists of five shorts, all set ten years in the future, when Cantonese has been outlawed and an oppressive government rules with 1984-like efficiency. One short depicts the self-immolation of a protester, which has been a common form of protest on the mainland by Tibetan and other dissidents. There’s no evidence the Beijing government has banned the film in Hong Kong. But its disappearance may be a form of “self-censorship” by theatre operators unwilling to deal with government censors. Links for further information: CNN Jan. 20 Radio Free Asia Feb. 10 Wikipedia entry Filmmakers’ interview with HK magazine TimeOut
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