East Asia
Tiananmen

Tiananmen Square: ‘6-4’ and ‘Xi Jinping Thought’

In Episode 126 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg marks the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre of June 4, 1989—”6-4,” as it is known in China, to keep ahead of online censors. With the massacre commemoration first exiled from Beijing to Hong Kong, it has now been exiled from Hong Kong to New York City as police-state measures are extended from the mainland. But China’s official denialism about the massacre extends even to the US, where both the sectarian left and “paleoconservatives” echo Beijing’s revisionist line. Both regime proponents and detractors share the consensus that the massacre and subsequent wave of repression across China was a “red terror,” carried out as it was by a “Communist Party.” A case can be made, however, that it was actually a “white terror,” enforcing China’s capitalist conversion. The recent crackdown on dissident workers and Marxist student activists in China—complete with extrajudicial “disappearances“—reveals “Xi Jinping Thought” to be (like Putinism and Trumpism) an updated variant of fascism. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: The Village Sun)

East Asia
tamtakchi

Hong Kong activist jailed under colonial-era ‘sedition’ law

Pro-democracy activist and popular radio DJ Tam Tak-chi, also known as “Fast Beat,” was found guilty of “seditious speech” and sentenced to 40 months in prison by the Hong Kong District Court. The former vice-chair of the People Power party is the first person since Hong Kong’s 1997 handover to stand trial for “sedition” under a law dating to the period of British colonial rule. Tam was arrested in July 2020, shortly after China imposed a sweeping National Security Law on the city, and has been in detention ever since, having been denied bail. He was found guilty of using the slogans “Liberate Hong Kong” and “Revolution of our times” at protests between January and July 2020. He was also accused of cursing at the police. Tam said that he would appeal the decision, stating that “my sentencing will affect Hongkongers’ freedom of speech.” Human Rights Watch senior China researcher Maya Wang stated that Tam’s sentence “exemplifies the dizzying speed at which Hong Kong’s freedoms are being eroded.” (Photo: Chan Cheuk-fai/Initium via HRW)

Central Asia
Itelmeni

Russian indigenous leaders protest Putin’s war

Exiled leaders of Russia’s Itelmen, Kamchadal, Udege, Shor, Saami and Selkup indigenous peoples issued a statement declaring that they are “outraged by the war President Putin has unleashed against Ukraine. At the moment, the entire population of Ukraine is in grave danger. Old people, women and children are dying. Cities and towns of an independent country are being destroyed because their inhabitants did not want to obey the will of a dictator and a tyrant.” The statement adds: “As representatives of Indigenous peoples, we express solidarity with the people of Ukraine in their struggle for freedom and are extremely concerned about ensuring the rights of Indigenous peoples during the war on Ukrainian territory, including the Crimean Peninsula that remains illegally occupied by Russia.” (Photo of Itelmen people in the Kamchatka Peninsula via Wikipedia)

East Asia
kurils

Submarine incident in flashpoint Kuril Islands

Amid quickly escalating tensions over Ukraine, Russia lodged a diplomatic protest with the US embassy in Moscow, claiming that a US nuclear submarine penetrated Russian territorial waters near the Kuril Islands. According to Moscow’s Defense Ministry, a Virginia-class US Navy submarine was detected off Urup Island, where Russia’s Pacific Fleet was conducting exercises. The Defense Ministry said the submarine was chased off by Russian vessels, and retreated at “maximum speed.” The statement accused the US of a “violation of Russia’s state border.” Media accounts did not emphasize that whether this purported incident indeed took place in Russian waters is questionable, as the Kurils are in part claimed by Japan—a dispute which has prevented Moscow and Tokyo from entering a treaty to formally end their World War II hostilities. Russia over the past weeks has conducted naval maneuvers in the Mediterranean, the North Sea, and northeast Atlantic Ocean, as well as the Pacific and Sea of Okhotsk, where the Kurils are located.  (Map: International Kuril Island Project)

East Asia
Tiananmen

‘Great Leap Backward’ for press freedom in China

Reporters Without Borders issued a new report, The Great Leap Backwards of Journalism in China, revealing the extent of the regime’s campaign of repression against the right to information. At least 127 journalists (professional and non-professional) are currently detained by the regime. Simply reporting on a “sensitive” topic or publishing censored information can result in years of detention. The report especially examines the deterioration of press freedom in Hong Kong, which was once a world model but has now seen an increasing number of journalists arrested and prosecuted in the name of “national security.” (Photo: chinaworker.info)

East Asia

Podcast: China Unbound with Joanna Chiu

In Episode 102 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg interviews Joanna Chiu, author of China Unbound: A New World Disorder, on the precipitous rise of the People’s Republic as a world power, and the dilemmas this poses for human rights and democracy around the planet. How can we reconcile the imperatives to resist the globalization of China’s police state and to oppose the ugly Sinophobia which is rising in the West, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic? Some Chinese dissidents living in exile in the US have even been co-opted by Trumpism. Chiu argues that stigmatization and misinterpretation of Chinese, whether in the People’s Republic or the diaspora, plays into the hands of Beijing’s propaganda. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: House of Anansi)

Planet Watch
F-35A

Rapid nuclear escalation, East and West

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned that Moscow will deploy intermediate-range nuclear weapons if NATO does not accede to demands to stop arming Ukraine and guarantee an end to eastward expansion of the alliance. His remarks come amid tensions over Russian military movements near Ukraine’s borders, where the Kremlin is estimated to have amassed some 100,000 troops. Amid similar tensions over Chinese incursions into the Taiwan Strait, a Pentagon report warns that the People’s Republic is undertaking an expansion and “modernization” of its nuclear arsenal to “provide Beijing with more credible military options in a Taiwan contingency.” And the US is meanwhile replacing gravity bombs with digitally guided nuclear missiles on its new design of the F-35A fighter jet. (Photo of F-35A via Air Force Times)

Planet Watch
countervortex

Podcast: the countervortex of global resistance II

In Episode 100 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses recent uprisings in two disparate parts of the world—the South Pacific archipelago nation of the Solomon Islands and two of the states that have emerged from the former Yugoslavia. In both cases, people who were pissed off for damn good reason took to the streets to oppose foreign capital, and corrupt authoritarian leaders who do its bidding. But in the Solomon Islands, popular rage was deflected into campism and ethnic scapegoating, while in Serbia and Kosova the people on the ground actually overcame entrenched and bitter ethnic divisions to make common cause against common oppressors. The contrast holds lessons for global protest movements from Hong Kong to New York City. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

Central Asia
beijing olympics

Corporate sponsors of Beijing Olympics under pressure

Human Rights Watch accused the corporate sponsors of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics of ignoring China’s crimes against humanity in its far western region of Xinjiang, thus “squandering the opportunity” to pressure China to address its “appalling human rights record.” Coca-Cola, Intel, Toyota and Airbnb are among the 13 Olympic Partners accused by name of overlooking China’s mass detention of ethnic Uyghurs and members of other Muslim ethnicities, as well as repression of free speech in Hong Kong. (Photo: CounterVortex)

East Asia
kurils

Podcast: 007 in the New Cold War

In Episode 97 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg dissects the geopolitics of the new James Bond movie, No Time to Die, and how the Daniel Craig reboot of the series has finessed the cultural icon’s role in the New Cold War. Famously, the film was produced pre-pandemic, with its release postponed a year due to the lockdown—and its key plot device is a mass biological warfare attack, anticipating the conspiranoid theories about COVID-19. Yet it could also be prescient in warning of a superpower confrontation over the Kuril Islands—disputed by Russia and Japan, and an all too likely flashpoint for global conflict. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Map: International Kuril Island Project)

East Asia
chunma

Hong Kong: second conviction under national security law

A Hong Kong district court found delivery worker-turned-activist Ma Chun-man guilty of incitement to secession for his actions at over 20 protests and in several interviews last year. Famously dubbed “Captain America 2.0” by local news media for dressing like the comic-book character at demonstrations, Ma is the second person to be convicted under China’s Law on Protection of National Security of Hong Kong. He was charged under articles 20 and 21 for advocating “separating Hong Kong from China, unlawfully changing its legal status or surrendering it to foreign rule.” (Photo: Twitter via The Telegraph)

East Asia
Hong Kong

Hong Kong: ‘patriots’ in, democrats out

The first “patriots only” vote under Hong Kong’s new political system was held to choose members for a 1,500-member Election Committee—although only some 360 of the seats were actually contested. Voting was restricted to some 5,000 individuals representing different professions and industries, chosen under a principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong.” The Election Committee is tasked with electing 40 members of the enlarged 90-seat Legislative Council in December as well as choosing the city’s new chief executive next March. The new and more controlled electoral system was adopted by an overwhelming majority vote of the National People’s Congress in Beijing this March. (Photo: HKFP)