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Hong Kong Police Told To Enforce "More Strictly" Public Order Ordinance Prohibiting "Unlawful Assembly"

As the 'South China Morning Post' reported today, the Hong Kong police will enforce laws governing public order "more strictly" and prevent gatherings of more than 3 people if they are deemed suspicious by police officers. "If officers deem a gathering likely to cause any breach of the peace or threat to public safety, we would not allow the participants to proceed," a source was quoted as saying. "We would demand that they produce identification and disperse, and follow them around if they did not leave. Anyone who refuses to comply can be arrested for obstructing police." The relevant laws prohibiting public gatherings are not a result of Hong Kong's 'mainlandisation', but date back to the British colonial era. In 1967 pro-Communist riots broke out in Hong Kong, and the British colonial government enacted the Public Order Ordinance , which controlled public meetings, processions, and assemblies (see: Wong Yiu-chung / Brian

"Are You Crazy?" Says Ma Ying-jeou to Scholar Who Asked If Taiwan Will Renounce South China Sea Claims

At a meeting of the Fullbright Taiwan Foundation for Scholarly Exchange  Ma Ying-jeou , the incumbent president of the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan), was asked by a scholar whether the ROC will renounce its claims to the South China Sea. Earlier in March the former vice-secretary of the National Security Council of the ROC, Zhang Xucheng (張旭成), and the former deputy minister of National Defence, Ke Chengheng (柯承亨), had said in an interview that the ROC might  renounce its claims to the South China Sea . They stated that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the current main opposition party, is "considering a proposal to give up Taiwan's sovereignty claims over the South China Sea as defined by the U-shaped line". Ma Ying-jeou seemed surprised by the scholar's question and replied: "Are you crazy? Of course we won't!" As leader of the Guomindang (Chinese Nationalist Party), Ma Ying-jeou officially maintains that the Republic of China is the leg

Don't Anger Your Taiwanese Wife or ... Face the Consequences!

Are Taiwanese women submissive and passive, innocent and cute , as some people suggest? The following story, although extreme, seems to prove the opposite. As Apple Daily reported, on Chinese New Year a man surnamed Liu went with his wife to visit her family in the southern part of Taiwan. On February 21st, while the couple were returning to their home in Taichung, they had a quarrel. The man decided to stop at a service station in Gukeng, a township in Yunlin County, to try to ease up the atmosphere a bit. But his wife was so furious that she took his money, wallet and phone, and just left. "Find a way to go back home, if you can!" she reportedly said as she drove off the service station, leaving her dumbfounded husband alone and penniless. Without his money and mobile phone, Mr Liu could neither pay for a taxi nor call friends or relatives to help him. Nevertheless, he asked the staff of the service station to call him a cab. He explained to the driver what ha

Premier Li Keqiang Says People in Taiwan and China are 'one big family'

On March 15 Li Keqiang , the Premier of the People's Republic of China, met with Chinese and foreign journalists and answered questions. The press conference was held at the Great Hall of the People by the Third Session of the 12th National People's Congress.  A journalist from Taiwan's TVBS asked Li about cross-strait relations and the business opportunities of Taiwanese people working in mainland China. Li Keqiang replied: People on both sides of the Taiwan Straits belong to one big family. As long as we continue to adhere to the one-China principle and the 1992 Consensus , oppose Taiwan independence and uphold peaceful development of cross-Straits relations, we will be able to lay a more solid foundation for cross-Straits business cooperation and expand the room for such business ties. To boost the economic cooperation between the two sides, we need to get both wheels in motion. One wheel is to enhance institution building. For example, the follow-up consult

Chiang Kai-shek's Beheading and Ke Wenzhe's Tears

During an emotional speech commemorating the victims of the  228 Incident , the current mayor of Taipei, Ke Wenzhe ( Ko Wen-je ), could not hold back his tears as he recounted the suffering that his own family had to bear during the brutal and indiscriminate repression of real or presumed dissent on the part of Guomindang one-party state. Following the revolt of February 28, 1947, Ke’s grandfather, Ke Shiyuan, was arrested, not because he had been personally involved in the uprising, but solely because he was an intellectual. After he was severely beaten by the Guomindang police he became ill and died a few years later. Thousands of people were killed, imprisoned or tortured during the White Terror that followed the 228 Incident. To a certain extent, February 28 1947 was for Taiwan what June 4 1989 was for the PRC. The state revealed its savage and cruel nature, reasserted its authority by force, and ushered in an era of silence, fear and suspicion, during which the memory and t

Love or Madness? Dutch National Goes to Taiwan to Meet His Girlfriend's Parents but Gets Banned for 10 Years

Is it love or is it madness? Perhaps it's just a bit of both.  On February 20, a 23-year-old Dutch national arrived at Taoyuan International Airport with his pregnant Taiwanese girlfriend . The couple were not married and had apparently come to Taiwan so that he could meet the girl's parents. But things did not go too well for them.  During a previous sojourn in Taiwan  the man had overstayed his visa and had been banned from entering the country for three years. When he arrived at the immigration inspection, he was informed that he could not leave the airport and had to be repatriated. His girlfriend, however, had already passed the passport control. While awaiting repatriation at the airport the man kept talking on the phone with his girlfriend and cried. Then he received a message: "I miss you." After reading these words he lost his mind. He jumped over the barrier of the immigration inspection and ran out of the airport. He walked for 3 kilometers

Taipei-Taoyuan Airport Express Is Finally Coming

When you see scenes like this you know why Taipei really needs an airport express. Last week I arrived at Taipei Bus Station (located right next to Taipei Main Station ) and there I saw this huge line of people waiting to board the bus to the airport. When the bus arrived there were so many passengers that I had no choice but to wait for the next one. Overall it took me about one hour and a half to get from the bus station to the airport.  Then I arrived in Hong Kong. I exchanged some money, bought something to drink, recharged my Octopus Card (the equivalent of Taipei's Easy Card) and took that amazing, super modern, spacious Airport Express that runs from Hong Kong International Airport to Central in just 25 minutes!  When I first came to Taiwan at the end of 2011, I was quite surprised that this island, known all over the world for its high-tech industry, had no direct MRT connection between the airport and Taipei Main Station. I bought a ticket, exited the airport an

Taipei MRT Murderer Sentenced to Death

Today (March 6) a court in New Taipei City sentenced Zheng Jie (鄭捷) to the death penalty . Last year Zheng killed 4 people and injured 22 in a knife attack in the Taipei Metro. On May 21, 2014, Zheng had boarded a train of the Taipei Metro in Longshan Station. After the train departed, he went on a stabbing spree. The terrorized passengers were trapped for a few minutes inside the train.  During the interrogations following his arrest, Zheng admitted that the knife attack was premeditated. He said that he had chosen Longshan Station because the distance to the next stop, Jiangzicui Station, was longer than the average. This allowed him to kill as many people as possible.

Full Text of Taipei Mayor's 228 Incident Commemoration Speech

Ke Wenzhe (in Taiwan spelt Ko Wen-je) is the first elected mayor of Taipei who was personally affected by the 228 Incident. In a speech delivered on February 28 of this year, Ke talked about the tragedy that befell his own family and the entire Taiwanese society.  Here is my translation of the speech:    *** Today is the 68th anniversary of the 228 incident. As a relative of one of the victims, I am one of you. I remember how my father used to come back home every year from the 228 ceremony with tears in his eyes. Seeing my father's tears deeply hurt me. But I know that the pain that my father felt for his own father was even stronger. In that tragic year 1947 many Taiwanese people lost their relatives and friends, and Taiwan's society lost some of its most brilliant intellectuals. Afterwards a long era of terror, of silence and estrangement descended upon our history. People built an invisible wall that separated them from their fellow citizens, a wal

Mainland Chinese Tourists Scuffle in Taipei 101

On February 24 a scuffle broke out between mainland Chinese tourists who were visiting Taiwan during the Lunar New Year holidays.  According to media reports, a queueing dispute erupted between two women who were waiting for the restroom in Taipei 101, Taiwan's tallest skyscraper and one of the country's tourist landmarks.  The women belonged to two different tourist groups, one from Yunnan and another from Tianjin. The quarrel escalated and two men began yelling at each other. They came to blows and one of them was knocked down. When he got up he wanted to take revenge, but he was stopped by some female members of his group. Security guards soon arrived at the scene to separate the men. 

China's Supreme People's Court Rejects Western-style Judicial Independence

As Xi Jinping tightens control over the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), further restricts freedom of speech and revives Marxist and Maoist ideology, the judicial system, too, is undergoing a conservative counter-reformation aimed at strengthening the role of the Party and excluding possible reforms inspired by the judicial system of liberal countries.  According to China News , on February 25 the Party leadership group of the Supreme People's Court of the People's Republic of China released a statement stressing that the country must preserve "the judicial system of socialism with Chinese characteristics " (中国特色社会主义司法制度). At the same time, it strongly rejected what it described as "Western judicial independence and the separation of powers" (西方“司法独立”、“三权鼎立”). The Supreme People's Court said that the judicial system must "resolutely resist the influence of wrong Western thought and wrong Western viewpoints."

Mainland Chinese Tourists' Bad Behaviour Angers Japanese

While this year the number of mainland Chinese tourists that spent their Chinese New Year holidays in Hong Kong has declined for the first time since the 1997 handover, neighbouring Japan and South Korea have become increasingly popular with Chinese travellers. Data released by Hong Kong's immigration department show that 675,155 mainlanders visited Hong Kong between February 18 and 22, a 0.16%  drop compared with last year. Many regard the rising anti-Chinese sentiment in Hong Kong as the main cause for the diminishing popularity of the former British colony among mainland visitors.  Over the last few years, the misbehaviour of some mainland tourists as well as the soaring number of Chinese shoppers have caused widespread anger in Hong Kong and prompted many citizens to take to the streets. On February 8, for example, around 800 Hong Kong residents  protested  against Chinese one-day shoppers and parallel traders that are making the city unlivable. Japan and South Ko

Is Taiwan Ruled Dictatorially?

On February 2 Lee Teng-hui , the former leader of the Guomindang and the first democratically elected president of the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan), gave a speech at the Legislative Yuan concerning the issue of constitutional reform.  Lee Teng-hui is my favourite Taiwanese president. He implemented democratic reforms, defended the ROC against Beijing's claims to Taiwan, he managed the economy well and was a politician who exercised a strong leadership but was at the same time tolerant, humane, and capable of understanding and representing Taiwan's mainstream public opinion. In this respect, I consider him a better politician than Chen Shuibian and Ma Ying-jeou (Ma Yingjiu), let alone Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo (Jiang Jingguo).  Three points in his speech seem to me quite interesting, and in this post I will briefly examine them. The first two points concern Taiwan's identity and economic situation. The third point relates to Lee's assertion tha

Number of Chinese Mainland Tourists in Hong Kong - 1996 vs 2013

On February 8 around 800 protestors besieged two shopping malls and a bus stop in the district of Tuen Mun , in Northwest Hong Kong. Tuen Mun, which borders on mainland China's Guangdong Province, has become a common destination for mainland shoppers and the so-called ' parallel-traders ', i.e. improvised merchants who cross the border to buy products that they then re-sell in mainland China for a profit. The protestors first surrounded the stop of Citybus B3X, a line connecting Tuen Mun with the mainland city of Shenzhen (it takes merely 30 minutes to cover the distance between the two cities). The demonstrators complained about the flood of mainlanders that, so they argue, have made their district unlivable. "Go back to the mainland", "Give us back Tuen Mun", the Hongkongers shouted.  Afterwards the crowd moved to Tuen Mun Town Plaza , a popular department store with mainland tourists , and later occupied almost half of Trend Plaza , an adjac

The 10 Questions Taiwanese Are Afraid To Be Asked on Chinese New Year

One might think that Chinese New Year  is a time of rest and joy, of warmth and love. And to a certain extent it is. Family members eat together, exchange 'red envelopes' (i.e. cash gifts), chat and relax. Yet there is more behind the apparent happiness of this event, a less bright and merry side. As the family holiday par excellence, Chinese New Year is also a period in which people face a lot of pressure, a pressure that is often quite unbearable. In Taiwan as in the rest of the Chinese-speaking world, the family was traditionally the most important thing in one's life. What a single family member did - his or her job, relationships, offspring, property and reputation - were not individual matters, but collective matters that concerned the entire family. Although in a weakened form, much of this still holds true. Read: Family in Chinese Culture The proof of this is the number of articles published in Taiwan before Chinese New Year which discuss how to deal w

The Hypocrisy of China's 'Wrong Western Values' Debate

"Why should China say no to ' wrong Western values '"? asked an editorial published on the People's Daily , a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) . The editorial was written in defence of the recently announced ban on university textbooks promoting 'Western values'.  According to the paper, Western people misunderstand China. They do not realise that human rights are not universally applicable. Although China protects and values "liberty, democracy, equality and human rights",  the country's history, tradition and customs are different from the West's, and therefore China cannot simply copy the West's multi-party political system or passively adopt its understanding of human rights.  "There is no universal criteria to judge political values," writes the People's Daily . "Therefore, China must assimilate western values within its own political culture. Otherwise, it could ruin the future and fat

Taipei Is World's 13th Safest City - The Economist Safe City Index 2015

According to the Economist Safe City Index 2015 , Taipei confirms its position as one of the world's safest cities. The index is based on four categories: digital security, health security, infrastructure safety and personal safety. Here is the list: 1 Tokyo 2 Singapore 3 Osaka 4 Stockholm 5 Amsterdam 6 Sydney 7 Zurich 8 Toronto 9 Melbourne 10 New York 11 Hong Kong 12 San Francisco 13 Taipei 14 Montreal 15 Barcelona 16 Chicago 17 Los Angeles 18 London 19 Washington DC 20 Frankfurt Taipei performs best in terms of personal safety: it is the world's 5th city in this category. However, in the index of the top 25 cities, that is, the cities where it is best to live, Taipei ranks 21st. The top cities index is based on the data of 6 other indexes  (Safe Cities, Liveability Rankings, Cost of Living, Business Environment Rankings, Democracy Index, Global Food Security Index). 

China Cuts Growth Targets of 29 Provinces

A total of 29 provinces of the People's Republic of China (PRC) have revised their growth targets downwards.  On February 9 the provincial-level National People’s Congress (NPC) and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) of Guangdong, Jilin and Hainan provinces announced that they have lowered their growth target for 2015. Similar announcements had been made by other 26 provinces in January.  Guangdong’s growth target has been adjusted to 7.5%, down from 8.5% last year; Hainan has set a target of 8%, compared to 10% last year; and Jilin is expected to grow 6.5%, down from 8% in 2014. 

"The Chinese Communist Party Stands Beside You" - Xi Jinping's Charm Offensive

"It is important to mould the image of our country," wrote Xi Jinping in his best-seller, ' The Governance Of China '. "We should create the image of a great civilised country with a long history; of a united multiethnic state, in which different cultures live side by side in harmony; of a great Asian power with an upright and honest policy, a relatively developed economy, a thriving culture, a stable society, a people living in harmony, and beautiful landscapes; of a great responsible country that defends international justice and fairness and gives its contribution to the development of humanity; and of a great socialist country full of charm, hopes and vitality, which continues to open itself up to the world." Papa Xi (习大大) , as he is now called by the subservient state media that glorify him like no other Communist leader after Mao Zedong, describes this strategy as "raising China's cultural soft power". Upon taking over from his pred

Getting Scammed in Beijing

After two lazy months I am trying to update my blog again more regularly. There was a time when I used to write one post each day, but it's a really hard pace to keep for a long time.  There's also something that's bothering me. A week ago I was in Beijing and I got scammed. I'm kind of ashamed of admitting that, since apparently everyone knows that Beijing is famous for its scams. So was I the only one who didn't know? Obviously not, since these scammers find new victims each day among the naive and trusting foreign visitors.  The funny thing about that is that I always felt totally safe in Beijing, especially in Wangfujing, Dongdan, Tiananmen Square, Jianguo Road and in the hutongs. Even in Dongzhimen in the evening I never had any problem.  Beijing is one of the most militarised places I've ever visited. In Tiananmen, Wangfujing and the whole of Jianguo Road there are policemen and soldiers everywhere. Who could have imagined that in this country