Beijing’s struggle to win Hong Kong’s young hearts
China / June 30, 2017

This week, Hong Kong marks 20 years since its return from the UK to China but Lai Chun-yin is not celebrating. This article is Powered by DBestInfo He is lying on his back on the pavement, spinning a football in the air. Between his stunt and the iconic Hong Kong harbour skyline stand a handful of mesmerised tourists. Chun-yin is a 20-year-old coffee shop barista and freestyle footballer, supplementing his earnings by busking his ball skills on the street. “I don’t have much sense of belonging to China,” he says. “I love Hong Kong and feel like a Hong Konger. My generation just don’t have a good impression of China.” His assessment of the mood among young Hong Kongers was borne out by a survey this month suggesting the number choosing to identify as “broadly Chinese” has declined to new lows in the three years since student democracy protestors occupied the heart of the city during the so-called Umbrella Movement.   On a warehouse rooftop 21 floors up in a packed district of Kowloon, art student Prince Wong is putting the finishing touches to a wordless statement in graffiti about her sentiments on the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return…

Xi Jinping: Chinese president makes first ever visit to Hong Kong
China / June 29, 2017

Chinese President Xi Jinping has arrived in Hong Kong to mark 20 years since it was handed back to China by Britain. His highly symbolic visit, his first since becoming leader in 2013, comes amid an increasingly tense political climate. Official celebrations are planned, as well as large protests from pro-democracy and pro-Beijing camps. Several well-known activists were arrested on the eve of Mr Xi’s arrival. The group, which included student leader Joshua Wong, had staged a protest at an iconic sculpture symbolising the handover. The golden sculpture of a bauhinia flower – Hong Kong’s emblem – by the city’s harbour was a gift from China. Media captionSeveral high-profile democracy protesters were arrested on Wednesday Mr Xi arrived for the three-day visit with his wife Peng Liyuan at the city’s main Chek Lap Kok airport. The couple was welcomed by a marching band and children waving flags. In a brief speech at the tarmac, he said Hong Kong “is always in my heart”. Beijing’s central government “has always been a strong backer of Hong Kong” and “will, as always, support Hong Kong’s economic development and improvement of people’s lives”, he said. He also said Beijing was “willing to work with…

HK handover predictions: Golden geese and democracy ‘infections’
China / June 28, 2017

In July 1997, more than 150 years of British rule came to an end in Hong Kong with its handover to China, a historic event viewed with a mixture of uncertainty and hope. We asked observers how their predictions turned out 20 years on. Would Hong Kong remain China’s ‘golden goose’? Back then, cosmopolitan and prosperous Hong Kong was seen as China’s vital gateway to the outside world – and many believed it would stay that way for years to come. Fast forward 20 years, and it is no longer the only jewel in China’s crown, with cities like Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangdong becoming financial or manufacturing powerhouses. “Hong Kong was the golden goose in China,” said politician Martin Lee. “I couldn’t have thought that China’s economy would develop so quickly… and Hong Kong’s bargaining power would diminish so fast.” Many also did not envision Hong Kong ending up as “a paradise for money laundering and capital outflow” for the mainland, said financial analyst Agnes Wu. In recent years Chinese tycoons have sought to park their assets, businesses and even themselves within the city amid a corruption crackdown in Beijing – something which the Chinese government has frowned upon. Would…

Who is Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo?
China / June 27, 2017

Liu Xiaobo is a hero to many – but a villain to his own government. Nobel judges describe him as the “foremost symbol” of the struggle for human rights in China. The Chinese authorities say he is a criminal and have repeatedly jailed him for his protests against their rule. But the Nobel Peace Prize winner, 61, has been released from prison on compassionate grounds after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. Liu Xiaobo: 20 years of activism China frees jailed dissident after cancer diagnosis It was his role in calling for a new constitution in 2008 that led to him being jailed for “subverting state power”. At the time, the US government called on China to release the political activist, first arrested two decades earlier for his part in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. The then 33-year-old from north-east China was credited with encouraging students to leave instead of facing down the army. Afterwards, he was offered asylum in the Australian embassy but refused it, choosing instead to stay in China and continue his fight for democracy. Mr Liu was arrested in the government’s subsequent crackdown, but released in 1991 without charge. Image captionHe is considered a criminal by…

How China’s shaping one country’s future
China / June 26, 2017

China’s Belt and Road initiative is ploughing through central Asia. The plan, which aims to expand trade links between Asia, Africa, Europe and beyond, was unveiled in 2013. What impact has China’s grand plan had so far in Kazakhstan? I went to Almaty – the financial capital – to find out. The lyrical strains of Almaty’s latest pop song reverberates through the city’s main Chinese market, lending a distinctly Kazakh feel to what looks like a scene that could easily be from Beijing or Shanghai. Inside, signs in both Mandarin and Kazakh point out directions in the warren-like maze. It’s here that I meet Huang Jie, a jovial bear of a woman. She’s been running a convenience store in this market for 15 years, selling everything from hairbrushes to soy sauce. She came to Almaty from China to take part in an ice-skating competition, but then stayed on because of the opportunities here. “They had almost no consumer items [when I came here in 1991],” she explained. “So we brought cosmetics, stereo sets, kids clothes, shoes… then we moved on to food, pots, kitchen utensils. And then home furniture, and now even gym equipment. We built it up step by…

China’s ‘straddling bus’ hits its final roadblock
China / June 23, 2017

It seemed like a glimpse into the city of tomorrow – but China’s “straddling bus” was riddled by doubts early on and now is headed for the scrap yard. The futuristic idea was a bus that would drive above traffic, allowing other commuter cars to pass underneath. The project was announced last summer to much acclaim but soon ran into feasibility and investment problems. Many of China’s cities suffer from chronic traffic congestion so there’s a strong hunger for ingenious solutions. The project faced strong headwinds from the very beginning and according to Chinese media, the test site is now being demolished entirely. Reports are saying that workers have already begun dismantling and removing the test track in Qinhuangdao. Image captionThe TEB was to zoom above traffic, elevated 2 meters above the daily gridlock The idea of a traffic-straddling bus first appeared in China in 2010, but it didn’t make much impact until the model was presented at the 2016 Beijing International High-Tech Expo. The so-called Transit Elevated Bus was touted as a revolution in public ground transportation, able to glide over traffic, literally lifting commuters from the daily grind of being stuck in their cars for hours. Yet only…

China’s dog meat festival opens despite ban rumours
China / June 22, 2017

YULIN: A notorious Chinese dog meat festival opened on Wednesday (Jun 21) with sellers torching the hair off carcasses, butchers chopping slabs of canines and cooks frying up dishes, dispelling rumours that authorities would ban sales this year. After earlier reports of a sales ban at the summer solstice event in the southern city of Yulin, animal rights groups said vendors and officials reached a compromise and set a limit of two dogs on display per stall. But multiple carcasses rested on several stalls at two markets, with stiff pointy tails, leathery yellow skin, eyes shut and bared teeth as if in a final growl. Crowds of umbrella-toting festivalgoers braved the rain to stand in line outside popular restaurants, but animal welfare groups said sales appeared to be down this year. Behind two long rows of dog butchers at the Nanqiao market, others sold cow tongues and pork hocks. But even they sold some dog parts, including liver. Advertisement Others offered poultry, vegetables and fruit, including big bundles of lychees, which are eaten alongside dog dishes. There was a heavy police presence outside the market and at all intersections but officers did not seem to be checking stalls. A man…

China nursery blast: Bomber died in explosion that killed eight
China / June 19, 2017

An explosion at the gates of a Chinese kindergarten that killed eight people was caused by a 22-year-old man who died in the blast, police say. Bomb-making materials were found in the flat where the man, named as Xu, lived, and the words “die” and “death” had been scrawled on the walls. The blast happened just as parents in Fengxian in the eastern province of Jiangsu were picking up their children at the end of the day. It is being treated as a criminal act. Xu had suffered from health problems and had dropped out of school but was employed, police said. More than 60 people were injured in the explosion, including eight who are in a serious condition, the authorities say. A survivor told Chinese state TV that the kindergarten gate had just opened for children to leave but none had come out when the blast happened. Fengxian officials said none of the children or teachers at the kindergarten were among the casualties. The Fengxian blast is the second tragedy to strike a Chinese kindergarten in recent weeks. Last month, 11 children died when a bus packed with kindergarten pupils burst into flames inside a tunnel in eastern Shandong…

‘US rethinks Chinese investment in AI start-ups’
China / June 19, 2017

The Pentagon has raised concerns about China’s access to artificial-intelligence-based technology developed in the US, according to Reuters. The news agency says a leaked report proposes that export controls be updated to stop Chinese organisations being able to invest in some start-ups. It suggests the move is needed to prevent their advanced algorithms being repurposed for the military by Beijing. One expert said the report sounded credible. “Quite a few people in the US security establishment see China as a likely potential adversary,” Prof Trevor Taylor, from the UK’s Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, told the BBC. “A message that’s come through clearly from the Pentagon is that artificial intelligence and man-machine interfaces are going to be crucial for the US to restore the gap between its capabilities and that of others. “So, it’s understandable that they would not want the Chinese to get access to American expertise. “And that innovation is widely associated with small firms that are seeking to secure funding.” Reuters’ report follows an appearance by Defence Secretary Jim Mattis at a Senate hearing on Tuesday. “For decades, the United States enjoyed uncontested or dominant superiority in every operating domain or realm… today,…