First big holiday since end of zero-COVID, South China Sea tensions, and EU-China trade
+ China proposes easing of cross-border data controls and wins the first gold medal in esports ever awarded at the Asian Games
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To those who celebrate it, happy National Day holiday!
Let’s jump into it…
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
"We are deeply concerned that boarding schools in Xinjiang are teaching almost exclusively in the official language with little or no use of Uyghur as medium of instruction and that the separation of mainly Uyghur and other minority children from their families could lead to their forced assimilation into the majority Mandarin language and the adoption of Han cultural practices,” the UN experts said, stressing the discriminatory nature of the policy and the violation of minorities’ right to education without discrimination, family life and cultural rights.
The experts received information about large-scale removal of children, mainly Uyghur, from their families, including very young children whose parents are in exile or “interned”/detained. These children are treated as “orphans” by State authorities and placed in full-time boarding schools, pre-schools, or orphanages where the language used is almost exclusively Mandarin (Putonghua).
“Uyghur and other minority children in highly regulated and controlled boarding institutions may have little interaction with their parents, extended family or communities for much of their youth,” the experts said.
“This will inevitably lead to a loss of connection with their families and communities and undermine their ties to their cultural, religious and linguistic identities,” they said.
The United States restricted imports from three more Chinese companies on Tuesday as part of an effort to eliminate goods made with the forced labor of Uyghur minorities from the U.S. supply chain.
Xinjiang Tianmian Foundation Textile Co Ltd, Xinjiang Tianshan Wool Textile Co. Ltd and Xinjiang Zhongtai Group Co. Ltd were added to the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act Entity List, according to a government posting, bringing the total number of entities on the list to 27.
POLITICS & SOCIETY
Many millions of Chinese tourists are expected to travel within their country, splurging on hotels, tours, attractions and meals in a boost to the economy during the 8-day autumn holiday period that began Friday.
This year’s holiday began with the Mid-Autumn Festival on Friday and also includes the Oct. 1 National Day. The public holidays end on Oct. 6.
Typically hundreds of millions of Chinese travel at home and overseas during such holidays. The eight-day-long holiday is the longest week of public holidays since COVID-19 pandemic restrictions were lifted in December. Outbound tourism has lagged domestic travel, with flight capacities lagging behind pre-pandemic levels.
Big cities like the capital, Beijing, Shanghai, and southern cities like Shenzhen and Guangzhou are favored destinations. Smaller cities, such as Chengdu and Chongqing in southwest China also are popular.
Amid skyrocketing hotel prices during the ongoing Golden Week holiday, Chinese residents have turned to renting out their own apartments to domestic tourists for short-term rentals, with many posting available rooms or homes on social media platforms, particularly on the lifestyle app Xiaohongshu, at affordable rates.
Online, netizens showcase rooms complete with essential appliances and toiletries such as disposable toothbrushes. These rooms, typically priced below 100 yuan ($13.6) per night, present a significantly more affordable option compared to hotel rates during the same period.
Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu missed a key meeting attended by President Xi Jinping, bolstering reports he’s being investigated for corruption and has been removed from his role.
Li, who also holds the title of state councilor, wasn’t among the participants of a Politburo study session on Wednesday, according to video footage of the gathering on state broadcaster China Central Television.
China’s ousted foreign minister Qin Gang had an extramarital affair with a high-profile Chinese television presenter who had a child through surrogacy in the United States, the Financial Times reported Tuesday citing multiple unnamed sources, deepening intrigue around the unexplained disappearance and removal of the senior diplomat.
The FT report is the latest jigsaw piece in the mystery surrounding Qin, a once-trusted aide of Chinese leader Xi Jinping who was abruptly removed as foreign minister in July after vanishing from public view for a month.
Beijing has offered no explanation for Qin’s ouster and repeatedly sidestepped questions about his fate from foreign journalists at news briefings.
China’s internet feminist movement thrives despite censorship – Rest of World
In May, a Communist Party-affiliated think tank wrote in a report on China’s crashing birth rate: “The spread of radical feminism has had a negative impact on women’s individual beliefs and desires regarding childbirth.”
The Chinese government, always preoccupied with maintaining social stability, has over the past five years persecuted feminist activists and commanded social media sites to ramp up restrictions on feminist content. Similar methods have successfully diminished campaigns for social causes such as labor rights and LGBTQIA rights, and overt activism for women’s rights is now all but impossible, too. But while the loudest voices have been silenced, feminist ideals are shared more broadly than ever. The flame of Chinese feminism still burns — nowhere brighter than online.
Given the aggressive censorship of China’s online feminist movement, Hong Fincher said, “It’s quite extraordinary how influential it is.”
China Steadily Pivots Towards Promoting Marriage and Childbirth – Council on Foreign Relations
In 2021, central Chinese Communist Party authorities set out a comprehensive nationwide pro-natalist policy framework. Sub-national authorities since have followed suit with implementation measures, such as the pilot projects aimed at building a “marriage and childbearing culture for a new era” launched in dozens of Chinese cities since spring 2023 by the China Family Planning Association.
Some of these efforts contain laudable measures—promoting the idea that young couples should share childcare responsibilities and pressing employers to create a more conducive work environment for families with children. But others contain worrying signs that Beijing’s pivot is steadily morphing into a more coercive pro-natalist approach aimed at mobilizing people to do the state’s bidding at the expense of individual rights.
The real risk is that the coming years will see such efforts ramped up in ways that align state power and social pressure even further to limit the ability of Chinese women to freely make personal decisions about marriage and childbirth.
Indeed, local Chinese authorities once charged with limiting births in their jurisdictions during the era of China’s anti-natalist One-Child Policy have now begun calling newlyweds to inquire and prod them about their plans to have children. Judicial approval rates of first-time petitions for divorce have dropped dramatically over recent decades. Proposals to amend China’s Marriage Law, lowering minimum marriage ages from 22 for men and 20 for women set back in 1980, have begun to circulate. And at least one Chinese county has offered cash rewards for all marriages in which the bride is 25 years or younger, as a means of encouraging “age-appropriate marriage and childbirth.”
The Superstore Betting on China’s Animal Attraction – Sixth Tone
As pet stores in China go, Marsmart is somewhat of an anomaly — not least because it’s often the pets that are browsing the aisles.
The People – China Media Project
In the political language of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), “the people” (人民) is a precise political formulation. In many cases, it does not refer generally to the entirety of the population but rather to a particular set of the population seen by the leadership to be politically in line with its goals.
On this understanding of the term, even campaigns that cause widespread suffering for Chinese citizens can be considered good for “the people” insomuch as they benefit those who support the same policies and campaigns.
Some might balk at the apparent contradiction between such enlightened proclamations and the reality of a system in which no deviation from the ruling party is brooked, but those fluent in CCP speak would be quick to point out that there is no contradiction: skeptics just don’t understand who “the people” truly are. To qualify, one must fully support the Party in all its undertakings.
If you are not one of “the people,” after all, you are one of the enemy.
HONG KONG & MACAO
The son of Jimmy Lai, a media tycoon jailed in Hong Kong, said on Wednesday it was in the interest of the former British colony to release his father and not let him die in jail.
Sebastien Lai, who was in Geneva to take part in a British-organised event on media freedom in Hong Kong, has not seen his 75-year-old father in three years.
"I am optimistic because I believe that there's no benefit in the Hong Kong government having my father die in jail," Sebastien Lai said on the prospect of his father's release.
"He's a pro-democracy activist, a publisher, and he's also an incredibly peaceful man ... Now that they've taken all that he has, keeping him in prison is just cruel."
Jimmy Lai is the founder of now shut pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily and one of the most prominent Hong Kong critics of China's Communist Party leadership, including President Xi Jinping.
This week he marked his 1,000th day in a Hong Kong prison on charges related to a law on national security that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong in 2020 after months of anti-government protests. The law punishes acts including subversion, collusion with foreign forces and terrorism with up to life in prison.
CPJ, partners call on British PM to push for Jimmy Lai’s freedom as he marks 1,000 days in jail – Committee to Protect Journalists
The Committee to Protect Journalists joined 10 other press freedom and human rights groups on Monday in calling on British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to take immediate and decisive action to secure the release of Jimmy Lai, founder of the now-shuttered pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily and a British citizen.
The chairman of Hong Kong’s leading journalist group received a five-day jail term after he was found guilty of obstructing a police officer on Monday in a case that sparked concerns about the city’s declining press freedom.
Ronson Chan, chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association and a journalist of online news outlet Channel C, was arrested last September while he was on his way to a reporting assignment. He was accused of refusing to show the plainclothes officer his identity card upon request.
Chan’s arrest fuelled concerns about the erosion of media freedom in Hong Kong after Beijing imposed a national security law to crush dissent following the city’s massive pro-democracy protests in 2019. The former British colony was promised to keep its Western-style civil liberties for 50 years when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
For some, police visits have become regular occurrences, according to seven activists who spoke with AFP.
But details of police conversations cannot be shared due to the law's confidentiality clause.
"The impacts are invisible," said To.
In response to queries about new tactics deployed by the national security department, Hong Kong police told AFP they "take appropriate actions... according to the laws".
The overture Pope Francis made to China earlier this month while he was in Mongolia was "well received" by Beijing's communist government, which has given a mainland bishop permission to visit Hong Kong, the bishop of Hong Kong said on Thursday.
Bishop Stephen Chow, who will be made a cardinal on Saturday, also told Reuters in an interview that he hopes his new rank will help him improve relations between the Vatican and Beijing, which have been strained recently.
Beijing has been following a policy of "Sinicisation" of religion, trying to root out foreign influences and enforce obedience to the Communist Party. There are an estimated 10-12 million Catholics in China.
A landmark 2018 agreement between the Vatican and China on the appointment of bishops has been tenuous at best, with the Vatican complaining that Beijing has violated it several times.
Conservatives in the Church have accused the Vatican of selling out to the communist government by making the deal, which has been renewed twice. The Vatican says an imperfect deal is better than no dialogue at all.
While Taiwan buys many of its weapons and defence systems from the United States, the indigenous submarine programme aims to make Taiwan more self-sufficient.
Taiwan has struggled to obtain key defence technology in the past, particularly for submarines, due to its diplomatic isolation.
China’s government has said that recent drills near Taiwan were aimed at combating the “arrogance” of separatist forces, after Taipei reported a rise in military activity in recent weeks, including exercises on land facing the island.
Chinese Activist Camps Out at Airport in Taiwan in Bid for Asylum – The New York Times
Chen Siming, an activist who fled China, has been camped out at an airport in Taiwan for nearly a week, hoping to gain asylum in the West. He is willing to wait for much longer, as long as he is not forced to board a plane back to China.
Taiwan wins first-ever gold in go at Asian Games – Taipei Times
Taiwanese go player Hsu Hao-hung (許皓鋐) yesterday won his first-ever gold medal at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, after defeating Chinese player Ke Jie (柯潔).
It was the first gold medal that Taiwan has won in go at the Asian Games, helping bring the nation’s total medal count at day’s end to four golds, four silvers and six bronzes.
The 22-year-old Hsu is considered Taiwan’s premier go player after claiming first place in all eight go competitions in Taiwan.
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