Posts tagged ‘corruption’

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014: “Social Media”, “Little Secretaries”, Blogs, and the big Trend for 2015

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1. Getting Started

To get started, here’s one of my most recent sketches:

And if it isn’t self-explanatory, I’ll come back to it under item #4.

2. “Social Media”

I’m not studying the annual WordPress statistics too thoroughly, but what struck me this time is that, compared with 2013, “social media”, i. e. Twitter and Facebook, have become major referring sites to this blog. that said, maybe 2013 was an exception, because in 2012, too, Facebook and Twitter mattered a lot.

That makes me feel kind of sad. Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate Tweets that link to this blog, and I appreciate links from Facebook, too, even if I usually won’t find out what you are writing about there (I’m not facebooking). But the trend seems to indicate that the internet turns from a more public into a growingly privatey-run business. That’s probably not the internet the founding fathers dreamed of.

Woeser found out in December that running an account with Facebook doesn’t make you the owner of that account – well, maybe she knew that all along, but her post came across as somewhat alarmed when she found that what she had reposted on Facebook –  a video of Tibetan Buddhist monk Kalsang Yeshe’s self-immolation that occurred on December 23 […], accompanied by an excerpted report explaining that self-immolation is a tragic, ultimate protest against repression,  had been removed by the company. At any rate, she couldn’t help but suspect that Facebook might be employing “little secretaries”, i. e. censors, just as Sina Weibo does.

Her belief that Chinese dictatorship is manipulating freedom of expression elsewhere, too – i. e. in the West – is understandable, and true to an extent. But internationally, Chinese dictatorship is only one source among several, of censorship and repression, as totalitarian as it may be.

3. Blogs

There’s still a lot of writing going on in the – what was the name again? – English-language Chinese Blogosphere. The nicest surprise this year was the return of EastSouthWestNorth. Obviously, I have no idea if the recent posts, mostly about “Occupy Central”, mark anything more than a stopover, but they are what makes the internet great: raw material, but made intelligible to every user, to work his way through, without easy answers right at his fingertips.

Then there’s Sino-NK. Articles finished and polished, but from a sober perspective, and plowing their way through the past and present of Sino-North Korean relations, rather than leaping at every headline.

Some blogs I used to like are beginning to look like mainstream media, but here is something I’d recommend, to make this three blog recommendations: China Copyright and Media. They do what really needs to be done: they look at the CCP paperwork. That’s no yadayada, that’s the decisions the party is actually taking and never fail to surprise our media when carried out, even though they’ve usually been communicated long before.

I can’t close the blog compartment of this post without a link to that blog post there in Shanghai: the Mother Teresa of the blogosphere, musing about the whereabouts of the legendary Dalai Lama of China blogging.

4. The Big Trend for 2015

It’s not terribly original, but it seems to be obvious. China’s totalitarian skeleton is being refitted with flesh, after a few years of what looks (at hindsight) like a thaw, during the days of the Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao collective troupes. This is now turning into a blend of modernization and personality cult. The slaughterhouse scene heading this post refers to the political death of Zhou Yongkang, and the Great and Impeccable Leader who brought it about. To lose your CCP membership is probably worse than death. If you are a truly faithful Communist, anyway.

Happy new year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

VoT: Tibetan Student beaten to Death after Village “Elections”

A young Tibetan student was beaten to death in Dari County, southeastern Qinghai province, earlier this month, according to Voice of Tibet (VoT), a Norwegian-based radio station and website.A two-committee “election” held in Dari County on December 7 reportedly led to clashes, after Communist cadres or employees had forcibly demanded (强制要求) that Tibetans vote a Han Chinese candidate ito office, in accordance with the authorities’ prior arrangements.

Thirteen persons were arrested and interrogated. On December 10, the student was brutally beaten and died on the afternoon of December 11, in the county hospital, according to VoT.

Dari County, which is part of Golog (or Guoluo, 果洛州) Tibetan “Autonomous” Prefecture, is described by VoT as Tibetan territory. Much of Qinghai, a province established by the KMT government in 1928, was once Tibetan.

Contact, a magazine published in Dharamsala, reported on Monday that the student’s name was Karmey, and that he died aged twenty-two.

In September, the International Campaign for Tibet published what appear to be regulations issued by the Chinese authorities. These were said to be in force in Ngari Prefecture, western Tibet. Different ways of “maintaining stability” are apparently taken in different places.

Village-level “elections” are ostensible means of “democratization”, a process apparently started by Chinese central legislation in 1987.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

After Zhou Yongkang’s Arrest: Xi Jinping rules – but how safe will he be in [2013] 2023?

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A regular stream of news from the anti-corruption front keeps flowing to keep the Chinese public happy.

Hammer and Chisel

Hammer and Chisel

Zhang Xinhua (张新华), an industrial manager, sentenced to death on Wednesday, for embezzlement of some 340 Million Yuan RMB, a China News Service (中新网) article republished here by Enorth (Tianjin) reported on that same day.

Li Zhijiang (李志江), a former member of Taiyuan’s CPC city committee‘s standing committee and former head of the party’s organizational department there, has been removed from his posts for violating the spirit of the CCP’s Eight Provisions (中央八项规定精神), neglecting his job (or dereliction of duty, 失职), and other mistakes. This seems to have happened some time ago, a People’s Daily online article, rendered here by Youth Net, wrote this week.

And former development and reform commission deputy director Liu Tienan (刘铁男) goes to jail for life, CCTV reported, also rendered by Youth Net, on Wednesday. Liu had come under scrutiny late in 2012, thanks to the research of an investigative journalist.

Zhou Yongkang (周永康) is no longer a party member, and his arrest was announced on December 5. In its Banyan column, The Economist is critical of how China’s former “security” tsar is being treated by his – also former – comrades:

He has always looked a rather nasty piece of work, and China’s press now tells us just how nasty. Zhou Yongkang is a thief, a bully, a philanderer and a traitor who disclosed state secrets. The spider at the centre of a web of corrupt patronage, he enriched himself, his family, his many mistresses and his cronies at vast cost to the government.

But some delighted Chinese readers might also wonder how Zhou could possibly make it to the top if he was such a thoroughly bad egg.

Basically all the foreign press considers Zhou’s big fall – the biggest fall of the biggest stakeholder ever since the Gang of Four – as proof that CCP secretary general and state chairman Xi Jinping is now in full control at the helm. But The Economist also warns that

[..] Mr Zhou’s case carries a danger for Mr Xi. By advertising the party as motivated by its zeal to combat corruption and as led by those promoted solely on merit, he may raise expectations of transparency and honesty that he will find hard to meet.

There are other big question marks, too. By recent standards – i. e. for the past two decades or so -, there has been an arrangement among China’s top leaders of how they come to power, and how they leave power. Any member of the collective leaderships with Jiang Zemin (until 2002) and Hu Jintao (until 2012) at the core would be a member of the politburo’s standing committee for a maximum of ten years. And no leader after Jiang Zemin would stay in power for more than ten years either.

Jiang and Hu never seem to have tried breaking that rule.

This theory of how succession works in Beijing suggests that Deng Xiaoping, after having had to sack two party secretary-generals,

made an unprecedented move – he simultaneously appointed two generations of successors, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. One generation had to pass on the leadership to the next after two terms, after 10 years. This arrangement had one advantage, in this way there existed a mutually constraining relationship between two generations of successors; when Jiang’s time was over, he had to pass leadership on to Hu and thus, he would not generate the courage to betray the inflated ego of Deng Xiaoping; after handing the power over, Jiang would automatically come under Hu’s authority and so in order to protect himself, he would avoid a life-and-death struggle between two factions. Hu, on the other hand, had to rely on the legitimacy granted by Deng Xiaoping so as to guarantee that he would actually take over power according to plan and also so as to avoid that he would, like many successors in the past, leave the stage in poverty and misery; hence, he was very much concerned about treating Deng Xiaoping’s ideas as his guiding principles, protecting them with everything he had.

One may wonder if Xi Jinping is going to accept the same arrangement for himself, in 2022/23. It can be hard to be a pensioner in Zhongnanhai.

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Updates/Related

» An Insider’s View, NPR Berlin, Dec 24, 2014

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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Zhou Yongkang’s big Fall and Citizen Power Fantasies

Zhou Yongkang has been arrested and expelled from the Communist Party, the BBC quotes Chinese media reports, and quotes a cute Sina-Weibo post from an apparently Chinese user: We have zero-tolerance against corruption!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Buying Airtime: Will you take this content in Swahili?

» The BBC has warned that China poses a “direct threat” to its global reach by paying incentives to local broadcast companies to prioritise its state-funded CCTV service over other international networks.

The Independent, Nov 10, 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

China’s Legal Reform Projects: Slowly, very slowly

The fourth plenary session of the 18th CCP central committee took place from October 20 to October 23. Less than a month before the opening of the plenum, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) quoted a politburo statement of September 29 as saying that the plenary session’s focus would be on improving the administration of law. At the center of that, according to the SCMP, would be a battle against corruption.

In July, Stanley Lubman, a lawyer and longtime observer of legal issues in China, wrote in the Wall Street Journal‘s (WSJ) China blog (China Realtime) that the CCP’s central leading group for judicial reform of the party and the “Supreme People’s Court” were signalling a serious intention to implement measures that could lead to a shift of power over finances and personnel in basic courts, from local governments and local “people’s congresses” to provincial governments. Pilot projects were planned in Shanghai, Guangdong, Jilin, Hubei, Hainan and Qinghai. If successful, these reforms could boost citizens’ chances to challenge local cadres over issues such as illegal land seizures or concealment of violations of product safety and environmental laws. However, this didn’t mean that courts would be insulated from pressures from those higher-level officials on their decision-making. Importantly, nothing in these reforms is aimed at diminishing Communist Party control over outcomes in the courts.

Lubman also links to a creative-commons translation cooperative, China Law Translate, which describes the pilot projects on the provincial and municipal (Shanghai) level in more detail.

Ultimate CCP control reservation apart, Lubman’s article came across as sort of optimistic. Less so an article by Russell Leigh Moses, dean of academics and faculty at the Beijing Center for Chinese Studies, published on October 24. If the communique issued after the plenary session was something to go by, this was a plenum that wasn’t interested in engineering far-reaching changes to China’s legal system. China would move slowly, very slowly, suggests the headline.

That said, the term under the party’s leadership (党的领导 / 党的领导下), quoted from the communiqué by Moses as a reminder that the conception and implementation of law belongs only to the Communist Party, can’t have surprised any observer.

According to the Economist, the CCP’s new enthusiasm for the rule of law springs from the campaign against corruption – see first paragraph of this post, too (SCMP quote). The battle is old (Xi Jinping’s predecessor as party and state chairman, Hu Jintao, warned in November 2012 that corruption, if not tackled by politics, could prove fatal to the party.

The battle is even older than old. Shen Zewei, China reporter for the Singaporean daily Lianhe Zaobao (United Morning News), quoted a Taiwanese researcher, Lee Yeau-tarn, in 2009 that Chiang Kai-shek had been able to implement land reform in Taiwan, but not in the mainland, because the KMT had been intricately connected with the despotic gentry.

This suggests that even Moses’ forecast could prove overly optimistic for China.

The Economist’s November 1 edition, however, sees the glass half-full – or even more positively. After all, one of the weekly’s editorials argues, the constitution, emphasized by the CCP leadership,

enshrines property rights. Of the many thousands of “mass incidents” of unrest each year in rural China, 65% relate to disputes over the (often illegal) seizure of land by officials. Mr Xi wants to make it clear that their behaviour is not just illegal but also unconstitutional. That sounds scarier.

Farmland reform, which was at the focus of the 17h Chinese Communist Party Central Committee’s Third Plenary Session in 2008, back then under the Hu Jintao/Wen Jiabao leadership -, is also moving slowly, very slowly. And the fourth plenary session of this 18th central committee might be considered another push into the direction of a more just, and more efficient, use of land – six years later.

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Related

» Dead Cats, rotten Fish, Nov 7, 2011
» Rural Land Certificates, July 10, 2011
» Wen Jiabao’s Endgame, April 21, 2011
» Tossing the Mountain around, Nov 8, 2010
» Farmland Reform, Oct 8, 2008

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Blog and Press Review: Budget work reports, Staying Ahead of the Enemy

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1. NPC Standing Commission hears Budget and Final Accounts

Xinwen Lianbo, June 24, 2014

NPC standing committee plenary session – click picture for youtube video

In his capacity as China’s top legislator (and CCP Politburo Standing Commission memberZhang Dejiang (张德江) was present at the second plenary meeting of the 12th National People’s Congress’ Standing Committee’s 9th session, reviewing the final accounts of the 2013 budget. CCTV‘s main evening news, Xinwen Lianbo:

The second plenary meeting of the 12th National People’s Congress’ Standing Committee’s 9th session was held in Beijing at the Great Hall of the People, in the afternoon of June 24. Committee chairman Zhang Dejiang attended.

十二届全国人大常委会第九次会议24日下午在北京人民大会堂举行第二次全体会议。张德江委员长出席。

Vice committee chairman Ji Bingxuan chaired the meeting. 162 Standing Committee members were attending, and the quorum as stipulated by law was therefore met.

吉炳轩副委员长主持会议。常委会组成人员162人出席会议,出席人数符合法定人数。

On behalf of the State Council, finance minister Lou Jiwei delivered a report concerning the 2013 central final accounts. In 2013, the central government had overall revenues of 6.02 trillion yuan RMB, achieving 100.2 per cent of the budgeted amount, and an increase of 7.2 per cent over the 2012 budget. Central government expenditure was at 6.85 trillion yuan RMB, or 98.5 per cent of the budgeted amount, an increase of 6.8 per cent. In general terms, the implementation of the central budget had been good, but with some problems. The next steps will emphasize the strong advance of the fiscal and taxation system, close attention to fiscal and tax policies, measures, and implementation, tangible strengthening of local government debt management, and great efforts to consolidate financial and economic order etc..

受国务院委托, 财政部部长楼继伟作了关于2013年中央决算的报告。2013年,中央公共财政收入60198.48亿元,完成预算的100.2%,比2012年增长 7.2%。中央公共财政支出68491.68亿元,完成预算的98.5%,增长6.8%。总的看,中央财政预算执行情况良好,但也存在一些问题。下一步将 重点做好扎实推进财税体制改革,狠抓各项财税政策措施落实,切实加强地方政府性债务管理,大力整饬财经秩序等工作。

On behalf of the State Council, National Audit Office general auditor Liu Jiayi reported the 2013 central budget implementation and other revenue and expenditure audits. After reporting, item by item, central budget revenue and expenditure and final accounts drafts, central financial management, the budget implementation and final accounts at the central government authorities, government debt, key people’s-livelihood projects and mineral resources, state-owned financial institutions, state-owned enterprises and other audits as well as major clues of illegality, he made the following suggestions for the next steps in work improvement: strict financial discipline, tangible administrative achievements in accordance with the law, financial management in accordance with the law, accelerating the transformation of government functions and streamlining administration and delegating powers to the lower levels, deepening the promotion of fiscal and taxation system reform, making efficient use of assets, optimizing structures, and increasing the use efficiency of financial funds.

受国务院委托,审计署审计长刘家义报告了2013年度中央预算执行和其他 财政收支的审计情况。在逐项报告了中央财政预算收支执行及决算草案、中央财政管理、中央部门预算执行和决算草案、政府性债务、重点民生工程及矿产资源、国 有金融机构、国有企业等审计情况及查出的重大违法违规案件线索情况后,报告提出下一步改进工作的意见:严肃财经纪律,切实做到依法行政、依法理财;加快转 变政府职能和简政放权,深入推进财税体制改革;盘活存量、优化结构,提高财政资金使用效益。

The meeting heard National People’s Congress Financial and Economic Affairs Committee deputy chairman Liao Xiaojun’s report on the 2013 central final accounts review. The committee believes that the 2013 central final accounts draft reflects the good implementation of the central budget, and recommended the approval of the draft. As for the problems [the draft] also reflected, the committee suggested to accelerate the promotion of budget system reform, further standardization of budget and final accounts management, the building of a comprehensive governmental debt management system, and the strengthening of auditing and supervision.

会 议听取了全国人大财政经济委员会副主任委员廖晓军作的关于2013年中央决算审查结果的报告。财经委认为,2013年中央决算草案反映了中央预算执行情况 是好的,建议批准该草案。针对反映出的问题,财经委建议加快推进预算制度改革,进一步规范预决算管理,健全政府性债务管理制度,加强审计监督。

On behalf of the State Council, People’s Bank of China deputy governor Liu Shiyu delivered a work report concerning the strengthening of supervising and averting financial crisis. He said that in recent years, in the face of the complications and changes in the international economic situation, downward pressures in the domestic economy had become stronger, the financial crisis had led to accumulated risks, the State Council had issued a number of policies and measures conducive to averting and defusing financial crisis, safeguarding financial stability, and conducive to economic restructuring  and transformation of development methods. [The State Council] had firmly kept to the bottomline of not allowing systemic or regional financial crises. The strengthening and improvement of financial supervision and management and prudent macro-management, the continuous comprehensive promotion of macro-economic stability and a modern financial system that supports substantial economic development.

受国务院委托,中国人民银行副行长刘士余作了关于加强金融监管防范 金融风险工作情况的报告。他说,近年来,针对国际经济形势复杂多变、国内经济下行压力加大、金融风险有所积聚的情况,国务院出台了一系列既有利于防范化解 金融风险、维护金融稳定,又有利于促进经济结构调整和发展方式转变的政策举措,牢牢守住了不发生系统性区域性金融风险的底线。今后,将进一步加强和改善金 融监管和宏观审慎管理,不断健全促进宏观经济稳定、支持实体经济发展的现代金融体系。

Besides playing democracy on Tuesday afternoon, Zhang Dejiang also met the speaker of an elected parliament, Pandikar Amin Mulia from Malaysia.

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Related:

Fiscal target, Shanghai Daily, June 24, 2014
CRI, somewhere in the Budget, June 1, 2012
CRI, a pit of waste, K. Perron, ca. 2012

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2. Staying ahead of the Enemy (in Xinjiang)

Shanghai Daily, on Tuesday, quoted State Internet Information Office (SIIO) spokesman Jiang Jun as telling a press conference that terrorist forces have “turned the Internet into a principal tool for their operations.”

[…] China launched a campaign on Friday to rid the Internet of audio and video materials that promote terrorism and violence. The move is aimed at safeguarding social stability in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and long-term peace, according to the SIIO.

Meantime, authorities on the ground in Xinjiang are victorious, People’s Daily reported on Monday. 96 per cent of “terrorist gangs” had been detected during planning stage (or in their embrionyic stage, 在萌芽状态) and been wiped out (or knocked out, 打掉), “Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region” Public Security Bureau deputy director Wang Qianrong (王谦榕) reportedly told a press conference. High-pressure policing (打高压态势), attacks at first opportunity (主动进攻) and staying ahead of the enemy (先发制敌) had been instrumental in normalizing the situation.

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Related

32nd Ethnic-Unity Education Month, May 3, 2014
Keep calm and carry on, Feb 23, 2014

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3. Staying ahead of the Enemy (in Mainland and Hong Kong)

Despite what organisers called the biggest cyber attack in Hong Kong’s history, hundreds of thousands of people have been able to voice their opinion in an unofficial pro-democracy referendum that started on Friday, the BBC‘s Juliana Liu wrote in the broadcaster’s China blog on Monday. Some 689,000 ballots had been cast on June 23, by 14:00 GMT. It probably helped that 15 polling stations provided opportunities to cast one’s vote in person.

They had a choice between three candidates for the office of Hong Kong Chief Executive.  Occupy Central is the major force between these – unofficial – elections.

The Economist, obviously sympathetic to the elections, warns that in China’s most prosperous city, both sides have a lot to lose and should be looking for a way to climb down. Beijing shouldn’t alienate Hong Kongers who, in a free election, … would have probably chosen a pro-China candidate anyway, but many of whom moved towards the radicals’ camp after a senior mainland fgure talked about dealing with disorder by sending in the Chinese army.

Also on Monday, with the number of votes at 700,000 by then, Foarp notes that to put pressure on a free society [is] liable to back-fire by driving people to the other side. That said, Occupy Central could have made more of the opportunty afforded to them by Beijing’s intransigence. By giving the voters a choice between the central-government proposed system and their democratic cause, the voters’ message could have been made so much clearer.

An unfriendly interpretaton would be that maybe neither Beijing nor Occupy Central want to leave anything to chances. A friendlier one would be that Occupy simply wanted to demonstrate democratic practice. The turnout, anyway, was remarkable – too remarkable to be officially noted in China. The searchword combination 622 Referendum was censored on Sina Weibo as the Occupy referendum approached, Fei Chang Dao noted on Sunday.

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Related

White Paper on HK in full (English)
White Paper on HK in full (Chinese)

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

June 4, 25 Years Later: Drinking the Wolf’s Milk

The Communist Party of China can’t live with the facts – it can’t even coexist with them. Anyone who thinks that we can “get past” the Tian An Men massacre is wrong. China’s collective leadership itself never got past it, and may never get past it. Nor can their business friends, supporters and well-wishers, at home or abroad. Just as stone can’t rot away, the memory of June 4, 1989 lingers. This memory is the touchstone few people inside China dare to touch upon – not the Chinese nomenklatura, nor their beneficiaries, and those who are both administrators and beneficiaries least of all. You comrades have been working hard, Deng Xiaoping told military commanders on June 9, 1989. The CCP, obviously, isn’t advertising the speech, but isn’t hiding it either – People’s Daily online apparently has the speech in full in its archive.

Deng Xiaoping, June 9, 1989

The only official evaluation so far: Deng Xiaoping defends his reform policies of economic openness and political repression, June 9, 1989 (click picture for video)

Richard Burger has a piece on June 4 today, plus an interesting comment there, and a post on May 19, also on this topic.

Many Chinese people were detained after the massacre. Some are reportedly still in prison; less than a dozen according to an estimate by the Dui Hua foundation.

Those in China who remember, and want to remember publicly, are threatened. In an interview with the New York Review of Books, Hu Jia said that for entering Tian An Men Square on June 4, he could receive a twelve-year prison sentence, and that since February 24 this year, his movements have been restricted by the Beijing Municipal Domestic Security Corps and the Tongzhou Branch of the Beijing Municipal Security Detachment, the latter of who had been around since July 2, 2004.

Hu Jia’s wife Zeng Jinyan has moved to Hong Kong with their daughter. “It’s better for them to be there”, Hu said in the New York Review of Books interview, describing how the CCP flag – not China’s national flag – was hanging at his daughter’s kindergarten on the 90th anniversary of the CCP’s founding (apparently on July 1, 2011). “They taught them that the party’s red flag is color with the blood of martyrs. This is really an evil influence on children. We call this ‘drinking the wolf’s milk’.

On June 1, i. e. on International Children’s Day, party and state leader Xi Jinping visited Haidian National Primary School in Beijing. Choreography had a child convey the party’s message: “[To join the Young Pioneers] is kind of an honor.”

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Related

» Informal Discussions, Open University, Apr 11, 2014
» Xi on Teachers’ Guiding Role, Jan 7, 2012

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Updates/Related

» Two HK Vigils, Tealeaf Nation, June 5, 2014
» Hong Kong vigil, BBC News, June 4, 2014
» Take a trip, foreign friends, China University of Political Science and Law, May 29, 2014

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