Human Rights

Pro-democracy politicians call for the release of 12 Hong Kong activists arrested at sea by Chinese authorities.

Pro-democracy activists Eddie Chu and Owen Chow with relatives of some of the 12 Hong Kong detainees report to the police in Hong Kong to seek help for them in China [Tyrone Siu/ Reuters]

25 Sep 2020

Opposition politicians in Hong Kong have staged a protest in the city’s legislature, calling for the release of 12 activists arrested at sea by China as international concern grows over the status of the detainees.

About a dozen members of Hong Kong’s legislature surrounded Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung on Friday, demanding he meet the detainees’ families and try to bring them home.

“Release the 12 Hong Kongers immediately,” the politicians shouted, holding up placards with the same message and delaying the start of Friday’s session.

The 12, who include a 16-year-old, were arrested on August 23 shortly after they set off from Hong Kong in a boat bound for self-ruled Taiwan.

Chinese police have said the detainees, who are being held in the southern city of Shenzhen, were suspected of illegal border crossing and they have been labelled “separatists” by China’s foreign ministry. Hong Kong authorities say they are all suspected of crimes in the territory related to the anti-government protests that erupted last year.

The families of some of the 12 held a news conference on September 12, masked and hooded to avoid identification, and made a plea to Chinese authorities to allow the detainees to contact family members and be represented by independent lawyers.    [FULL  STORY]

Prominent democracy activist slams his arrest as a ‘notorious abuse’ of power after court frees him on bail.

Al Jazeera
Date: 24 Sep 2020

Joshua Wong speaks to the media while holding up a bail document after leaving Central Police Station in Hong Kong on September 24, 2020, after being arrested for unlawful assembly related to a 2019 protest against a government ban on face masks (Photo by ISAAC LAWRENCE / AFP) (AFP)

Police in Hong Kong arrested on Thursday prominent democracy activist Joshua Wong for participating in an unauthorised assembly in October 2019 and violating the city’s anti-mask law, according to a series of posts on his Twitter account.

He was freed on bail three hours later

Wong’s latest arrest adds to several unlawful assembly charges or suspected offences he and other activists are facing related to last year’s pro-democracy protests, which prompted Beijing to impose a sweeping national security law on June 30.

In a series of Twitter posts, the 23-year-old said he was taken into custody when he reported to a police station.

He called his brief arrest “a notorious abuse to the criminal justice system” and said there was “nothing to celebrate on bizarrely prompt release”.    [FULL  STORY]

Date: September 24, 2020
By: Laurel Wamsley

A new report by an Australian research group has identified and mapped more than 380 suspected detention facilities in China's western Xinjiang region.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute said in its report that these centers have been built and expanded, even as Chinese officials claimed most of the people sent to the facilities had "returned to society."

The researchers say they believe their database and map covers most such facilities that exist. The institute scoured satellite photos for evidence of such facilities, including nighttime imagery that showed evidence of new construction in places where there hadn't been illumination in the past. Their work followed eyewitness accounts, news reports and other research that had documented the construction of such camps.

'I Thought It Would Be Safe': Uighurs In Turkey Now Fear China's Long Arm

They found 61 suspected detention sites had seen construction or expansion between July 2019 and July 2020, including 14 facilities apparently still under construction in the most recent satellite imagery.

"The findings of this research contradict Chinese officials' claims that all 'trainees' from so-called vocational training [centers] had ‘graduated’ by late 2019,” report author Nathan Ruser wrote. “Instead, available evidence suggests that many extrajudicial detainees in Xinjiang’s vast ‘re-education’ network are now being formally charged and locked up in higher security facilities, including newly built or expanded prisons, or sent to walled factory compounds for coerced [labor] assignments."    [FULL  STORY]

Date: Aug 5 2020
By: Yen Nee Lee


  • China’s top diplomat has called out the U.S. for attempting to start a new Cold War between the two largest economies, and in the process plunging the world into “chaos and division.”
  • Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi told state media Xinhua News Agency that China is not the former Soviet Union and has “no intention of becoming another United States.”
  • Wang said relations between the two countries are “facing the gravest challenge since the establishment of diplomatic ties” and blamed the U.S. for that deterioration.

Lintao Zhang | Getty Images News | Getty Images\

China’s top diplomat has called out the U.S. for attempting to start a new Cold War between the two largest economies, and in the process plunging the world into “chaos and division.”

In an interview with state media Xinhua News Agency on Wednesday, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said “today’s China is not the former Soviet Union.” He added that his country has “no intention of becoming another United States.”

“We have no intention of becoming another United States. China does not export ideology, and never interferes in other countries’ internal affairs,” he said.    [FULL  STORY]

A court in eastern China convicted Zhang Yuhuan in 1995 for the murder of two boys. His exoneration has grabbed headlines, though legal reforms have been sluggish.

The New York Times
Date: Aug. 6, 2020
By: Paul Mozur

A detention center in Beijing. In 2019 the conviction rate for Chinese courts stood at 99.9 percent.Credit…Ed Jones/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A Chinese court on Wednesday exonerated a man who had spent more than 26 years in prison for the murder of two boys, a striking sign of the deep flaws in China’s criminal justice system, and new, if halting, efforts at reform.

Zhang Yuhuan, 53, was arrested in 1993 after the police discovered the bodies of two boys who lived near him in the eastern province of Jiangxi. A court sentenced him to a suspended death sentence on the strength of two confessions and evidence that included scratches on his hands.

In a video interview, Mr. Zhang said police officers tortured him for at least six days after his arrest. He still has scars from bites after they turned dogs on him, he said.

On Wednesday, the high court in Jiangxi said the original conviction was based on incomplete evidence and contradictory confessions and it released him. Chinese television news showed his teary reunion with his elderly mother and ex-wife, who helped him appeal the conviction throughout his incarceration.    [FULL  STORY]

Chinese state television says Hong Kong police ordered arrest of six activists on charges of violating security law.

Al Jazeera
Date: 1 Aug 2020

A man wearing a face mask holds up a placard during a protest against Hong Kong's deteriorating freedoms outside China's embassy in London, UK [John Sibley/Reuters]

Police in Hong Kong have ordered the arrest of several pro-democracy activists living in exile on suspicion of violating a China-imposed national security law, according to Chinese state media.

CCTV said late on Friday the six are wanted on suspicion of secession or colluding with foreign forces, crimes the new law punishes with up to life in prison.

It named them as Nathan Law, Wayne Chan Ka-kui, Honcques Laus, Simon Cheng and Ray Wong Toi-yeung. Samuel Chu, an American citizen living in the United States, was also on the list.

Hong Kong police declined to comment.

The arrest warrants mark the first time the city's police have used the extraterritorial power in the new law to go after activists who are not in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. 

Chu, speaking to Al Jazeera from the US city of Los Angeles, described the warrant for his arrest as "outrageous" and said it showed "how desperate and how scared" China is of international pressure. 

"It's such an outlandish claim that they somehow have jurisdiction over an American citizen lobbying the American government," said Chu, who runs the Hong Kong Democracy Council, a Washington, DC-based advocacy group.

"The kind of global bullying and censorship, not only of citizens of other countries, but businesses … it's starting to create a united front line, globally, pushing back," Chu said, adding: "Today's move, particularly, shows they are scared of losing control. They know that if Hong Kong can continue to be a place of resistance, it threatens their control all over the mainland."


Nathan Law, a former Hong Kong legislator who is currently in the United Kingdom, called the charges "trumped-up" and said his only crime was that he "loves Hong Kong too much".

He said on Facebook the "wanted bulletins", recent arrests, and mass disqualifications of pro-democracy activists from a now-delayed legislative council election are "indications of our need to remain active on the global stage".    [FULL  STORY]

China has imprisoned millions of Uighur Muslims in concentration camps. Here’s what the Trump administration could do right now to help stop it.

Vox ews
Date: Jul 28, 2020
By: Alex Ward

 David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images

For several years now, China has been systematically repressing its Uighur Muslim minority in the western province of Xinjiang — millions of Uighurs have been detained in “reeducation” camps, where they are subjected to grievous human rights abuses including torture, sexual abuse, forced sterilization, family separation, and brainwashing.

Those Uighurs in Xinjiang who manage to avoid the camps still live under oppressive government surveillance and draconian restrictions aimed at erasing their religious and cultural traditions.

As more and more reports emerge of Beijing’s atrocities toward Uighurs, US officials and lawmakers from both parties have begun to loudly condemn China and call for a forceful policy response.

“What has and is happening to the Uighurs in Xinjiang is a human tragedy,” Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA), the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee for Asia, told me on Monday. “We cannot stand for it.”    [FULL  STORY]

Hundreds from Chinese region of Xinjiang who are seeking asylum in the U.S. have been waiting years because of a backlog

The New York Times
Date: July 28, 2020
By: James T. Areddy and Michelle Hackman

Kalbinur Awut was two months pregnant with her son, who is now 5 years old, when she applied for asylum.

Kalbinur Awut came to the U.S. in 2015 from China’s far west for graduate study. Soon after arriving at the University of Rhode Island, she applied for political asylum. A member of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority, she had been harassed in China for wearing headscarves and was briefly detained after she applied to study overseas.

When she signed into a website run by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services this month to check her status, the same old message greeted her, with her wait time the only update: “Your case has been pending with USCIS for 1,796 days, not including delays,” it said.

China’s treatment of Uighurs exploded into the American consciousness around two years ago with reports that China was rounding up around a million Uighurs in what appeared to be concentration camps in the western region of Xinjiang.    [FULL  STORY]

The move, which affects suppliers to major international brands such as Apple, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, could force companies to sever some ties to China.

The New York Times
Date: July 20, 2020
By Ana Swanson


One of the companies sanctioned on Monday, Nanchang O-Film Tech, has said that it manufactured selfie cameras for some models of the iPhone.Credit…Ted Shaffrey/Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Monday barred 11 new Chinese companies from purchasing American technology and products without a special license, saying the firms were complicit in human rights violations in China’s campaign targeting Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region.

The list of sanctioned companies includes current and former suppliers to major international brands such as Apple, Ralph Lauren, Google, HP, Tommy Hilfiger, Hugo Boss and Muji, according to a report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a think tank established by the Australian government. The group cited the websites of the sanctioned Chinese companies, which mentioned their financial relationships with major American brands.

The administration’s announcement could precipitate more efforts by prominent clothing and technology brands to sever ties with opaque supply chains that touch on Xinjiang, a major source of cotton, textiles, petrochemicals and other goods that feed into Chinese factories.

Human rights groups and journalists have documented a campaign of mass detentions carried out by the Chinese government in Xinjiang, in which one million or more members of Muslim and other minority groups have been placed into large internment camps intended to increase their loyalty to the Communist Party. Some of these detainees are forced to work in factories in or near the camps, often processing Xinjiang’s abundant cotton crop into various textiles that may then be funneled into international supply chains.

A Times video investigation identified Chinese companies using a contentious labor program for Muslim Uighurs to satisfy demand for face masks and other personal protective equipment, some of which ended up in the United States and other countries.    [FULL  STORY]

Date: Jul 19, 2020
By: George Calhoun, Contributor

Premier Li Keqiang (R) covers his face in his hand as he and China's President Xi Jinping (L) attend the fourth plenary session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 13, 2018. China's rubber-stamp parliament on March 11 endorsed Xi's move to abolish rules limiting heads of state to 10 years in power. AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

Dateline: March 1, 2021

A News report from the other CNN*…

  • “The announcement this week that China has invited Australia to send a team of medical research scientists and public health experts to Wuhan to help document the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic is being widely welcomed. The Aussies will join scientists from Oxford and Cambridge Universities, already working on site with their colleagues from Tsinghua University and other top Chinese scientific institutions, to sequence the latest mutations of the virus… The move is a follow-up to the joint program announced earlier this month to fully combine American and Chinese programs for vaccine research and production.  
  • “In related news, U.S. President Biden announced that all charges against Huawei, China’s leading international company, will be dropped in exchange for a pledge of full technology sharing. Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was welcomed in New York to ring the opening bell as Huawei shares began trading on Nasdaq, surging more than 15% in the first day on news of a major 5G order from Vodafone in the UK.
  • “Simultaneously, Beijing’s decision to fully rescind the new security laws for Hong Kong helped boost the Hang Sent index by 22%, and brought applause from financial markets everywhere. New polls showed public approval of China soaring in Europe and the United States. China’s pending elevation to membership in the G7 has met with universal support from world leaders. Xi Jinping is seen as a shoo-in for the Nobel Peace Prize.…” [fade to grey]

*The Counterfactual News Network 

(How different it all might have been.)

Beijing’s Double Strategy

Back in the real world, China is trying to master two games at the same time. On the one hand, they are learning how to be a geopolitical superpower. On the other, they are building a modern economic and financial system. These are both huge decades-long projects, running in parallel. The strategies obviously interact, and not always happily. In particular, the economic game-plan is vulnerable to inept political moves.

For several decades, starting with the reforms led by Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s and 1990s, Beijing’s foreign policy was careful. This facilitated China’s tremendous economic growth. Encouraged, the West engaged, and made China its (junior) partner in a vast global division of labor — China as “workshop of the world” and all that – and channeled large scale trade and investment into China. Ten years ago most American leaders were inclined to support China’s emergence as a new “major player” – even an incipient superpower, a rival in some ways, but an unthreatening one. It was assumed that economics would prevail over traditional ideological differences. Lion would lay down with lamb, under the aegis of Free Trade. Liberal democracy and free market doctrines would spread a self-reinforcing prosperity. “They” would become like “us.” History would truly end.    [FULL  STORY]