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HRIC Weekly Brief
October 24, 2023
Top News 头条
In China: the authorities are ramping up surveillance of all citizens by recruiting more “grid workers” to go door to door in each neighborhood to promote CCP messaging and question residents about their activities and beliefs, then report back to the local government. Also, the authorities have yet to explain the recent death of petitioner Ye Zhong, who died in police custody among rumors that he was tortured to extract a confession. His wife is still missing.
Overseas: Liu Xia, well-known Chinese activist and wife of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo, recently visited New York. HRIC Executive Director Zhou Fengsuo gave Liu Xia a personal tour of the memorials that HRIC and Humanitarian China created for her late husband. Meanwhile, in honor of Peng Lifa’s protest at Sitong Bridge, youth activists around the world held protests on October 13th to remember Peng’s heroic actions. HRIC’s Zhou Fengsuo spoke to Radio Free Asia regarding Peng Lifa’s nomination for a Nobel Prize: "This is of course the highest level of support for China's resistance from the international community, and it recognizes what Peng Lifa represents – the spirit of civil resistance."
Law & Policy 法律与政策
Rule of Law Report 2022: The Hong Kong Rule of Law Monitor has just released their report for 2022, finding that Hong Kong is “a stark illustration” of how rule of law can facilitate authoritarian control when human rights protections and checks and balances on the governing authority are not present.
Xinhua News: China adopts Patriotic Education Law: The NPC Standing Committee has passed the second draft of a Patriotic Education Law, aimed at encouraging the Chinese people to love and obey the CCP. The law will specifically target Hong Kong, Macau, and even Taiwan, as well as religious believers, in a move intended to protect the legitimacy of Xi’s regime.
The Tyranny of Full Openness: A new regulation requires social media users with over 1 million followers to post under their real names, a move even pro-CCP accounts are calling “a gift to cyberbullies.” The move is part of an effort to tighten control over social media influencers.
Chinese Government Restructuring Explained – Changes to State Council Agencies: Every five years, the Chinese government restructures certain ministries to adapt to changing priorities. The changes made in this round of restructuring indicate an increased emphasis on the financial regulatory system and science and technology sector, particularly in regard to AI development.
Hong Kong court rejects gov’t appeals over public housing rights for same-sex couples: A Hong Kong court has ruled that same-sex couples must be treated the same as heterosexual couples when it comes to publicly subsidized housing.
Cyber Security & Digital Rights 网络安全与数字权利
Open-source AI firm Hugging Face confirms ‘regrettable accessibility issues’ in China: Hugging Face, a startup website similar to GitHub which hosts 365,000 open-source AI models, confirmed that it is now inaccessible to Chinese users after the Chinese government blocked domestic access, possibly due to new regulations requiring all GenAI to comply with censorship requirements.
Canada tells of China-linked ‘spamouflage’ blitz on MPs’ social media: The Canadian government announced that it has discovered a China-linked social media bot campaign that posted thousands of comments on MPs’ social media accounts, mostly propaganda messages and accusations towards the MPs themselves, potentially to deter MPs from speaking out.
Diaspora Community & Transnational Repression 海外社群和跨国镇压
Chinese feminists are rebuilding their movement abroad: Facing repression back home, Chinese feminists overseas seek to “keep some seeds [of their movement] alive” through stand-up comedy and building community with like-minded women.
‘We don’t feel safe here’: Hongkongers in UK fear long reach of Chinese government: Hong Kong activists who have fled to the UK describe harassment online and offline, including physical attacks, and say the UK government could do more to protect them. Yet despite the risks, they continue to speak out: “we don’t want to die in silence.”
'Rather Be Ashes Than Dust' is a haunting elegy for Hong Kong: “Rather Be Ashes Than Dust,” a documentary about Hong Kong's 2019 protests, recently premiered at the Busan International Film Festival. The film follows the yearlong pro-democracy movement from early optimism to the violent police crackdown, with the raw, immersive viewpoint of a filmmaker who couldn’t help but “be involved.”
Human Rights Defenders & Civil Society 人权捍卫者与公民社会
Journalist Says China Jailed Her for Breaking Embargo: Cheng Lei, Australian journalist who was jailed for three years in China, reveals the official reason for her imprisonment: sharing a government briefing before she went on air, thus violating an embargo “by a few minutes.”
Hong Kong court dismisses appeal bid from 2 men convicted of rioting in 2019: Upholding 2019 rioting charges for two young men, a Hong Kong judge said there was “no need to show evidence of a defendant’s violent acts or whether they had actively taken part in a riot. Instead, the atmosphere on the scene, clothing and place of arrest were sufficient.”
Hong Kong protester shot by police sentenced to nearly four years jail: A young man who, at age 19, was shot in the chest by police during the 2019 Hong Kong protests has now been sentenced to almost four years in jail for “rioting” and hiding for two years, then attempting to flee to Taiwan.
China’s Reach & Internal Control 中国: 内控与外扩
加强打击外国影响力 中国扩大限制公务员及国企相关员工出国旅游 [Strengthening its crackdown on foreign influence, China expands restrictions on civil servants and employees related to state-owned enterprises from traveling abroad]: China has increased restrictions on civil servants’ and state-owned enterprise employees’ overseas travel, and has been investigating connections between employees and overseas family members.
China bans book on last Ming emperor after comments link it to Xi: A book by a Ming Dynasty historian has been banned after online comments compared the actions of Chongzhen, the last Ming emperor, to those of Xi Jinping. Commentators say the ban is indicative of how the book tapped into popular discontent.
The Visual Language of China's Official Press: China Media Project breaks down how the Chinese press crafts a visual and linguistic message to bolster Xi Jinping’s monopoly on power.
新疆三女囚遭非人道虐待 出狱后死亡 [Three female prisoners in Xinjiang were inhumanely tortured and died after being released from prison]: In Xinjiang, three Uyghur women died of illness contracted while detained for “religious extremism.” A local official confirmed that the health condition of many inmates at the prison has deteriorated because of mandatory “education programs.”
Public submit 50 reports about suspected ‘objectionable content’ at Hong Kong gov’t libraries: Hong Kong’s libraries have received more than 50 reports submitted by the public regarding suspected “objectionable” content, and will review and potentially remove those titles. This may include any anti-CCP content under the umbrella of “national security risk.”
International Responses 国际反应
51 nations blast China over violating Uyghurs’ rights: In a joint statement to the United Nations, 51 countries criticized China’s human rights record in the Xinjiang region and urged it to respond to an OHCHR report from last year which found China’s treatment of Uyghurs “may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity.”
Allied Spy Chiefs Warn of Chinese Espionage Targeting Tech Firms: At a joint event, intelligence officials from the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand described the “unprecedented threat” of Chinese spying operations, emphasizing the need to stop transnational repression of overseas Chinese nationals.