Tag Archives: Hong Kong

Hong Kong protests: What are they about, who’s behind them, what do they want and what is the response?

Pro-democracy protesters are continuing demonstrations in Hong Kong, with riot police responding with tear gas.

What had Beijing decreed that protesters are not happy about?

Elections for Hong Kong’s Chief Executive – its leader – are due to take place in 2017 and for the first time will use votes from the general public.

However last month, China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) ruled out further voting reforms, meaning that only the candidates that Beijing approves of can run.

The four previous Chief Executives – following the end of British rule in 1997 – were elected by a committee of 1,200 people, many of whom had strong ties to China. This committee size has grown from 400 in 1996.

Though China declared that its bold move to allow the vote for the 2017 elections is something “we should all feel proud of”, it didn’t go far enough for the protesters, who criticised it as still muzzling those with differing political views.

Occupy Central said in a statement at the time: “Genuine universal suffrage includes both the rights to elect and to be elected.

“The decision of the NPC Standing Committee has deprived people with different political views of the right to run for election and be elected by imposing unreasonable restrictions, thereby perpetuating ‘handpicked politics’.”

The "Umbrella Revolution": Riot police launch tear gas into the crowd as thousands of protesters surround the government headquarters in Hong Kong

The “Umbrella Revolution”: Riot police launch tear gas into the crowd as thousands of protesters surround the government headquarters in Hong Kong

What is Occupy Central’s demands?

In an English-language statement on its website today the movement said it has two distinct demands:

The immediate withdrawal of the NPCSC’s decision on the framework for Hong Kong’s political reform

The swift resumption of the political reform consultation. The Leung Chun-ying administration has failed in the political reform process. We demand Leung re-submits a new political reform report to the central government which fully reflects the Hong Kong people’s aspirations for democracy. If Leung refuses to respond, the action will escalate.

Today’s statement added: “The two nights of occupation of Civic Square in Admiralty have completely embodied the awakening of Hong Kong people’s desire to decide their own lives.

“The courage of the students and members of the public in their spontaneous decision stay has touched many Hong Kong people. Yet, the government has remained unmoved. As the wheel of time has reached this point, we have decided to arise and act.”

Who initiated Occupy Central?

A law professor called Benny Tai Yiu-ting, who started the campaign in January 2013.

What is the police and governmental response to today’s formal sit-in?

Police have sealed off the site at Tamar, leaving hundreds of other people not able to reach that protest blocking other thoroughfares instead, the South China Morning Post says. It is thought that are tens of thousands of people in and around the protest zone.

Political protests are prohibited by Beijing and this trickles down to Hong Kong, which after British rule came back under Chinese power in a “one country, two systems” set-up.

Leaders of China’s ruling Communist Party are worried that the dissent could spread to the mainland.

The current Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Leung Chun-ying, has implored people not to participate in “illegal” protests.

He also said today that the government will start a new round of consultations on electoral reform shortly, according to Reuters, though there was no mention of when this would be.

Some violent clashes happened in the two days until Sunday, with riot police targeting students with pepper spray and arresting at least 78.

Protesters are today equipped with umbrellas, goggles and masks ready for further confrontations with police after officers warned them to “leave now, for the sake of their personal safety”.

Snowden asks Putin LIVE: Does Russia intercept millions of citizens’ data?

Russia has “no mass surveillance in our country,” according to President Vladimir Putin, after he was asked a surprise question by whistleblower Edward Snowden at his Q&A session, adding “our surveillance activities are strictly controlled by the law.”

The former US National Security Agency contractor was interested to know Putin’s view as to whether there was any mass surveillance in Russia. The 30-year-old American mentioned that “two separate White House investigations, as well as a [US] federal court, all concluded that these programs are ineffective in stopping terrorism” in America and if, “Russia intercepts stores or analyzes the communications of millions of people in any way.”

Putin revealed that Russia uses surveillance techniques for spying on individuals, but this is “only with the sanction of a court order.” He added that “this is our law and therefore there is no mass surveillance in our country.”

There was plenty of joking by Putin, who began his answer to Snowden by saying, “You are a former agent or spy. I used to work for an intelligence agency, so we are going to talk the same professional language.” He concluded by adding with a smile that he hopes that Russia will never have the same kind of uncontrollable surveillance as America and this is unlikely to happen as “Russia does not have as much money to spend on this as they do in the States.”

Edward Snowden, who has been scathing about the use of mass surveillance by the US government, was appearing via a video link from an undisclosed location in Russia. He helped detail how the NSA managed to spy on the lives of millions of Americans as well as world leaders, despite almost all of them being individuals who have never been suspected of any wrongdoing or criminal activity.

The US citizen has been living in Russia since being granted temporary asylum in August 2013, after fleeing his homeland and then Hong Kong after leaking huge numbers of sensitive documents.

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Chinese cup auctioned for record-breaking $36M

HONG KONG (AP) — A Shanghai collector bought a rare Ming Dynasty cup that’s touted as the “holy grail” of China’s art world for $36 million at a Hong Kong auction on Tuesday, smashing the previous world record price for Chinese porcelain.

Sotheby‘s said Liu Yiqian was the winning bidder for the small white cup, which measures just 8 centimeters (3.1 Inches) in diameter and is more than 500 years old. The vessel is known as a “chicken cup” because it’s decorated with a rooster and hen tending to their chicks.

It was made during the reign of the Ming Dynasty’s Chenghua Emperor, who ruled from 1465 to 1487. Sotheby’s said there are only 17 such cups in existence, with four in private hands and the rest in museums.

“There’s no more legendary object in the history of Chinese porcelain,” said Nicholas Chow, Sotheby’s deputy chairman for Asia. “This is really the holy grail when it comes to Chinese art.”

For such a prized item, bidding was limited to a handful of wealthy collectors and when the winning bid was hammered down at HK$250 million ($32.2 million), the standing-room only crowd broke into applause. The auction house’s commission brought the total to HK$281.2 million ($36.1 million). A pre-sale estimate had estimated a maximum sale price of HK$300 million.

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Sotheby’s said the previous record for Chinese porcelain was set in 2010 when a gourd-shaped Qianlong vase sold for $32.4 million.

It’s the latest of several records set at the auction house’s Hong Kong spring sales, indicating that the region’s super-rich are still spending despite fluctuating economic growth. At Sunday’s sale of modern and contemporary Asian art, Asian collectors bought nine of the top 10 priciest lots.

“Definitely the mood in Hong Kong at this moment, in Asia, is buoyant,” said Chow.

Chow said the cup would likely go on display in Liu’s Long Museum in Shanghai, which he and his wife, Wang Wei, opened in 2012.

Liu is a middle-school dropout who drove a cab before becoming a multimillionaire. Forbes estimates his fortune at $900 million, making him the 200th richest person in China.

via Chinese cup auctioned for record-breaking $36M – Yahoo News.

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Chinese firm to reward 16,000 with UAE vacation

The company has booked 39,514 rooms in 40 hotels and 409 tourist guides

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Dubai: In what is considered to be one of the biggest vacations organised by a company for its staff in history, a Chinese company will transport more than 16,000 of its employees on a 10-day trip to the UAE, CNN Arabic news channel reported.

The company will begin transferring its staff in seven batches, starting from Sunday until April 17. The company’s offices represented in the trip are from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, the news channel reported.

Each batch will include at least 2,000 people. They will be brought in on 77 flights, including two chartered trips organised by Emirates. The cost according to UAE and Chinese media will be “hundreds of millions of dollars,” CNN Arabic said.

The company has booked 39,514 rooms in 40 hotels and 409 tourist guides. According to officials the company also booked the “Ferrari World” nightclub for three days, and dinner parties on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi for 8,000 people.

 The company Nu Skin, specialising in beauty products, said it wants to reward its employees, especially sales staff for their performance by sponsoring their visit to Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

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Obama’s father was abusive, his half-brother says

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(CNN)Barack Obama’s father was more abusive and violent than the president was aware of, according to his half-brother, who has written a memoir about their father.

Mark Obama Ndesandjo, who is several years younger than the President, described their father as a brilliant man. But he was also an alcoholic, a “social failure” and an abusive husband, he said.

“I remember the sounds of my mothers’ screams and I remember the sounds of breaking, things breaking,” he told CNN. “And I remember that I couldn’t protect her. That’s something that no child ever forgets.”

He said he especially remembered a violent episode when he was 6 or 7.

“My father actually broke — came in the door, against the restraining order, and held a knife to my mother’s throat,” he said.

Barack Obama apparently met their father once because his parents got divorced soon after he was born. Ndesandjo and the president have the same father, but Obama’s mother was the second wife while Ndesandjo’s mother was his third wife.

Unlike Obama, Ndesandjo grew up with his father.

The president is lucky he never lived with his father, according to David Maraniss, author of “Barack Obama: The Story.”

“It would have been a much more difficult upbringing,” he said.

Divergent views of family history have caused some strain among Obama relatives, according to Ndesandjo.

“Barack I don’t think accepts — or at least does not want to know — the details of the beatings that occurred in our family,” he said. “I love my brother. He’s a great president. Sometimes he’s a lousy brother.”

The White House did not respond to e-mails and phone calls Thursday about the president’s half-brother’s book. But in a 2009 interview with CNN, the president said he was not blind to the flaws of his father.

“It’s no secret that my father was a troubled person. Anybody who has read my first book, “Dreams from My Father,” knows that, you know, he had an alcoholism problem, that he didn’t treat his families very well,” he said. “Obviously it’s a sad part of my history and my background. But it’s not something that I spend a lot of time brooding over.”

Ndesandjo and Obama have several things in common: similar good looks, biracial ethnicity, the same father and each had an American mother.

Despite their similarities, this is not the first time the two have been at odds.

When they first met in Kenya in the 1980s, Ndesandjo was growing up there and trying to connect with his American roots, he said.

At the time, Obama came from America and was “really looking for that African side of him, and was trying to find more about himself and his identity. And I respect that. But I also felt that there was a rejection of a lot of Western culture,” Ndesandjo said.

“I felt that my brother — at that time – felt that I was too white,” he said. “And I thought he was too black.”

When they first met, Ndesandjo said, his half-brother came on strong. “That imposing voice, and also that commanding presence — he was almost like a barracuda with his questions,” Ndesandjo said.

But even if their diverging views of the Obama family’s history sometimes put the two siblings at odds, Ndesandjo said there were also things he was grateful for. His brother’s example, he said, helped him re-embrace the Obama name that he had long shunned.

And some years ago, when they met after 20 years of separation, they shared some good times.

“We laughed, and we hugged, and that was one of the most wonderful moments of my life. And Barack made it possible,” he said.

Ndesandjo, who lives near Hong Kong, hopes to raise awareness of domestic violence when the book is published in February. Some of the proceeds, he said, will go to his foundation for disadvantaged children.

Obama’s father was abusive, his half-brother says – CNN.com.

Putin: I envy Obama, because he can ‘spy’ and get away with it

“I envy Obama because he can spy on his allies without any consequences,” said Putin when asked about how his relations had changed with the US following Snowden’s espionage revelations.

During an annual question-and-answer session with journalists, Putin praised Edward Snowden’s actions, saying that he was working for a “noble cause.” At the same time he accepted the importance of espionage programs in the fight against global terrorism, but said the NSA needed guidelines to limit its powers.

“There is nothing to be upset about and nothing to be proud of, spying has always been and is one of the oldest professions,” said Putin.

Referring to the vast amounts of metadata gathered on citizens by the NSA, Putin said it is impossible to sift through all of that information. It is “useless” to look at the analysis of spy agencies because it is the opinion of analysts and not facts and as such can be misleading.

“You need to know the people who analyze them, I know, I did it,” said Putin, harking back to his career as a KGB agent.

The Russian president described Snowden as a “curious character” and said it was not clear why the former CIA contractor had decided to blow the whistle on the NSA’s international espionage program at such a young age.

Russia is not working with Snowden and has not received classified documents from him, Putin said. The whistleblower has been allowed to reside in Russia but only on the condition he does not “engage in anti-American propaganda.”

Snowden fled to Russia from Hong Kong back in June after leaking a trove of classified information on Washington’s espionage activities. He disseminated the documents to international media outlets who published them in articles blowing the whistle on the NSA’s espionage activities.

The spy revelations triggered massive diplomatic backlash and have had an adverse effect on the Obama administration’s foreign policy. Europe in particular reacted angrily after it was found that the NSA had been monitoring high-ranking political figures, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties and Home Affairs met Wednesday to discuss what action the EU should take in the wake of the spy revelations. Glenn Greenwald, the former Guardian journalist renowned for publishing Edward Snowden’s leaks, testified at the meeting. Greenwald claimed that the NSA’s activities had nothing to do with the fight against terrorism and are instead aimed at the elimination of privacy worldwide.

“What a lot of this spying is about has nothing to do with terrorism and national security. That is the pretext. It is about diplomatic manipulation and economic advantage,” said Greenwald.

In the wake of the spy scandal Washington has defended the NSA, saying their work has foiled over 50 terror plots in the US and EU.

Putin: I envy Obama, because he can ‘spy’ and get away with it — RT News.

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