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PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Staff rebel at consultancy behind VW review of Xinjiang rights abuse – Financial Times
The consultancy firm hired by Volkswagen to investigate allegations of forced labour in the carmaker’s Xinjiang plant in China is facing a staff rebellion after the report cleared the German company of human rights abuses, according to insiders.
All of Löning’s 20 employees but the founder Markus Löning and another executive have requested to make it clear they were not backing the conclusions of the audit, which VW commissioned earlier this year in response to complaints from investors over mounting evidence of human rights violations in the region.
The auto group last week released a one-page summary of the audit of its Xinjiang plant — which is run by its local joint venture partner SAIC, a state-owned company — and a statement from the consultancy’s founder Markus Löning, who said the review did “not find any indications or evidence of forced labour among the employees”.
However, a few days later, the consultancy issued a statement on LinkedIn that appeared to distance the firm from its own findings.
More than 180 high-level officials and experts have nominated jailed Uyghur academic and blogger Ilham Tohti to receive the 2024 Nobel Peace Prize, citing his role as “the true symbol of the Uyghur people's fight for freedom” under Chinese rule in Xinjiang.
The nomination includes signatures from ministers, parliamentarians, university rectors and professors from countries including Canada, Japan, Rwanda, Australia, Paraguay, Turkey and France – a “broad international coalition” which initiative leaders Vanessa Frangville of the Free University of Brussels, Belgium, and Belgian MP Samuel Cogolati believe will bolster the 53-year-old Tohti’s chances at securing the award.
POLITICS & SOCIETY
The Ministry of State Security said security authorities are conducting the inspection to cut off perpetrators and guide and assist in investigations to “promptly eliminate security risks of major data theft and data leaks”.
In an article posted to its WeChat account on Monday, the ministry said security organs had found cases in which foreign geographic information system (GIS) software used in important industries had collected and transferred data.
In the Monday article, the ministry noted that “geographic data is classified as high-value intelligence and is a key target for foreign spy agencies in their intelligence theft efforts”.
It said high-precision geographic information could be used to recreate 3D maps related to the country’s transport systems, energy and the military.
This could provide “crucial support for reconnaissance, surveillance and military operations, posing a serious threat to our military security”, it said.
The article said “certain foreign organisations, institutions, and individuals … are attempting to conduct intelligence theft activities using GIS software” through methods including “automatically connecting the software to foreign servers to collect user data without restrictions”.
It also warned users who use GIS software to identify the coordinates of infrastructure, military targets and entities related to classified information, noting that this “creates serious risks of leaks that could result in irreparable losses”.
Significantly fewer judgments are available on the China Judgments Online website. China's legal community is concerned.
Wang Chaoqun, an associate professor at Central China Normal University in Wuhan, argues in a research article on health insurance that several factors have led people to withdraw from the insurance program. These include steadily rising premiums, reduced benefits, improved health among middle-aged residents, and a failure of the insurance plan to address some major illnesses.
The city of Shenzhen in south China’s Guangdong province will soon allow certain qualified nurses to directly issue prescriptions to patients. The initiative, the first of its kind across China, is aimed at easing the workload of doctors and meeting the needs of a rapidly aging population.
Every year when winter begins in China, hundreds of thousands of elderly Chinese in the frigid north of the country migrate south in pursuit of warmer climates. Now officials in the capital city of Beijing are incorporating this practice, known as “migratory bird retirement,” into elderly care.
The city is promoting the establishment of “winter in the south and summer in the north” elderly care services to complement residential and home care services for its “energetic elderly,” municipal officials said last week.
Amid an aging population, bathing services tailored for the elderly are gaining in popularity in China, where ordinary apartments tend to have only showers. Government-led initiatives and the emergence of commercial operators have helped related services expand.
Residents in northern China are experiencing blizzards and plummeting temperatures as a cold wave is expected to break historical records for low temperatures in December.
Heavy snowfall hit parts of Beijing and provinces such as Jilin and Shandong on Thursday, with snow depth reaching over 15 centimeters in some places, according to the China Meteorological Administration.
Throngs of people in down parkas and boots climbed a hill that overlooks the Forbidden City this week to jostle with others trying to get a shot of the snow-covered roofs of the former imperial palace.
For many people in Beijing, a snowfall means it’s time to bundle up and head out to take photos of a city dotted with traditional architecture from the Ming and Qing dynasties that ruled the country for more than five centuries.
Domestic and international travel in China was disrupted after thousands of flights were canceled due to heavy snow.
Around 4,330 passenger flights across the country were canceled out of more than 16,000 scheduled on Wednesday, including 938 flights in Beijing, according to figures from data provider Flight Master. Among them, 4,191 were domestic routes and 142 were international.
As of 11 a.m. Thursday, a further 1,239 domestic flights and 39 international flights had been canceled, according to Flight Master.
An icy winter snow storm led to a rear-end collision between two Beijing subway trains Thursday, sending more than 515 passengers to the hospital, with the injured including more than 100 suffering broken bones, local transport authorities said Friday.
Preliminary investigations found two trains collided in the overground section of the Changping Line, which runs along the northwest outskirts of Beijing, after the rear train slid downhill when its brakes failed, sending it crashing into the leading train. The front train’s emergency brake was activated to contend with slippery tracks at the time.
Sixty-seven people remained hospitalized for treatment as of Friday morning, with another 25 under observation, Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport (BMCT) said in a statement published Friday. No deaths have been recorded.
‘I Have No Future’: China’s Rebel Influencer Is Still Paying a Price – The New York Times
“The biggest change is that after the White Paper movement, the Chinese began to realize that we have the right to fight for what we want,” Mr. Li said. “I think this is a big change.”
“The same goes for speech control,” he said. He believes that “cracks” have appeared in the Great Firewall.
One sign of that, he said, is that his following on X has doubled to 1.4 million from a year ago. It could mean more Chinese are using VPNs, or that more people care about what’s going on in the country.
Even during last year’s protests, he said, there weren’t a lot of excessively dissenting comments online. But a year later, when a former premier died, he said, people on the Chinese internet were cursing Mr. Xi, using euphemisms to try to evade censors.
“It seems like people’s mental state, or the overall emotional state, has undergone a significant shift,” he said.
Renowned Chinese doctor and activist Gao Yaojie who exposed the AIDS virus epidemic in rural China in the 1990s died Sunday at the age of 95 at her home in the United States.
Gao's outspokenness about the virus outbreak — which some gauged to have infected tens of thousands — embarrassed the Chinese government and drove her to live in self-exile for over a decade in Manhattan, New York.