East Asia
Demosisto

Hong Kong pro-democracy groups ‘dissolve’

Hong Kong pro-democracy group Demosisto announced it will disband following China’s enactment of a “National Security Law” that extends Beijing’s control over the semi-autonomous city. The decision to disband came hours after three of the group’s leading activists, Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Agnes Chow, issued statements saying they were stepping down from the organization under threat of “political imprisonment.” (Photo: ANSA)

East Asia
Taiwan4HK

Taiwan solidarity with Hong Kong —and BLM

At a rally at Taipei’s Liberty Square marking the one-year anniversary of the start of the Hong Kong protest movement, demonstrators held banners that read: “Taiwan and Hong Kong are partners together, the struggle remains unfinished,” and “Against the expansion of Chinese imperialism.” Earlier that day, demonstrators gathered in Taipei’s 228 Memorial Park for a show of a solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States. Some speakers drew parallels between the contemporary police brutality in the US and the repression of dissidents during the “White Terror” of Taiwan’s authoritarian past. (Photo: CNA)

East Asia
nimitz

US-China brinkmanship over Taiwan

In an alarming tit-for-tat, Taiwan’s defense ministry said that several Chinese fighter jets briefly entered the country’s air defense identification zone, and the US took the unusual move of flying a C-40A military transport plane over Taiwan. The US overflight was assailed by Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office as “an illegal act and a seriously provocative incident.” This comes as the US is deploying three aircraft carrier strike groups to the Pacific—the first such triple deployment in three years, seen as an explicit warning to China. The deployment follows accusations by Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider, commander of US forces in Japan, that China is using the COVID-19 crisis as a cover to push territorial claims in the South China Sea. (Photo of USS Nimitz: US Navy via USNI News)

East Asia
hong kong vigil

Hongkongers defy police on Tiananmen anniversary

Thousands gathered in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park to attend the annual candlelight vigil commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre—in defiance of an unprecedented police ban, ostensibly imposed as a measure to contain COVID-19. Attendees wearing surgical masks clambered over police barriers to enter the park. Thousands of riot police on stand-by did not interfere, although there were street clashes as troops broke up gatherings elsewhere in the city. The commemoration—the only one that can be freely held on Chinese soil—may no longer be possible in future, following Beijing’s passage of a “National Security Law” harshly limiting Hong Kong’s autonomy.  (Photo: HKFP)

East Asia
minneapolis-hong_kong

Podcast: for Minneapolis-Hong Kong solidarity

In Episode 53 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses the pathological propaganda game in which Donald Trump exploits the pro-democracy uprising in Hong Kong and Xi Jinping exploits the uprising that has exploded across the US since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. With Trump scolding China over the Hong Kong repression even as he threatens to unleash military troops on protesters in the US, the contradictions could not be more evident. Weinberg urges the Hong Kong protesters to put down their American flags, and stateside protesters not to be fooled by Chinese Foreign Ministry statements in support of the uprising in the United States. Protesters in Hong Kong and the US are natural allies of each other—not of each other’s respective oppressors. Listen on SoundCloud. (Photo composite by Chris Rywalt, with images from AP and Reuters; fair use asserted)

East Asia
Wuhan police

Another independent journalist arrested in Wuhan

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists is urging Chinese authorities to immediately release journalist Zhang Zhan, drop any charges against her, and ensure that the media can cover the coronavirus pandemic without fear of arrest. Zhang, an independent video journalist who had been posting reports from Wuhan on Twitter and YouTube since early February, went missing in the city one day after she published a video critical of the government’s countermeasures to contain the virus. The Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau issued a notice stating that Zhang had been arrested and detained for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” If convicted, she could face up to five years in prison, according to the Chinese criminal code. (Photo: China News Service via Wikimedia Common)

East Asia
Mong Kok

Repression as Hong Kong protests re-emerge

Some 230 people were arrested in Hong Kong as pro-democracy demonstrations again mobilized in the city after weeks of lockdown imposed to contain COVID-19. Following “sing-along” actions at several shopping malls, some protesters gathered on the streets of Kowloon’s Mong Kok commercial district before riot police were sent in to disperse them. Police were accused of brutality in the operation, and several demonstrators were hospitalized. Among those detained and hospitalized was lawmaker Roy Kwong of the Democratic Party, who was on hand to observe police operations. Reporters were apparently targeted by police, with the Hong Kong Journalists Association issuing a statement decrying the “abuse and detention” of media workers. (Photo: United Social Press via HKFP)

East Asia
HKprotest

Hong Kong arrests leading pro-democracy figures

Hong Kong police arrested 15 leading pro-democracy figures, for allegedly “organizing and participating in unlawful assemblies” last year. Among those arrested were current and former Legislative Council members, and leaders of opposition parties and activist networks such as the Civil Human Rights Front. Police declared the demonstrations in question to be “riots,” making the organizers subject to criminal charges. Following the arrests, activists gathered at a police station to protest, chanting “Hongkongers resist!” and “Five demands, not one less”—a reference to the demands of last year’s protest movement. (Photo: inmediahk.net)

East Asia
Wuhan queue

Wuhan death toll massively under-counted?

Speaking at COVIDCon, an online Oslo Freedom Forum event presented by the Human Rights Foundation, exiled Chinese dissident Yang Jianli charged that the death toll for Wuhan, the city where the COVID-19 outbreak began, was massively under-counted by authorities. Yang said that as Xi Jinping visited Wuhan on March 10, “endless Wuhan residents pleaded for help online, saying hospitals were overflowing and their family members were turned away and left to die at home. Nobody knows how many people died before managing to get to hospitals.” (Photo of shopping queue in Wuhan: Wikimedia Commons)

East Asia
Wang_Quanzhang

China: freed dissident placed in distant ‘quarantine’

Prominent Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang, imprisoned for four and a half years for “subversion,” was released—but immediately placed under “quarantine,” barred from reuniting with his wife and son in Beijing. His wife, Li Wenzu, fears that authorities are using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to hold him under de facto house arrest indefinitely. She said that upon his release, authorities sent Wang to his home town in Shandong province, some 400 kilometers south of Beijing, for quarantine. “They used the pretext of the epidemic as an excuse to quarantine him for 14 days when he should have been able to return to his home in Beijing according to the relevant legal guidelines,” Li said. “I am really worried they plan on putting him under long-term house arrest and will prevent us from being reunited as a family.”  (Photo: Amnesty International)

Watching the Shadows
Coronavirus

Podcast: COVID-19 and impending bio-fascism

In Episode 49 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses the grim political implications of the COVID-19 outbreak and resultant hysteria. Even before the outbreak, China had detained perhaps upwards of a million ethnic Uighurs in concentration camps as a “counter-terrorist” measure. Under emergency measures imposed in response to the outbreak, a staggering half-billion people have been placed under lockdown in Hubei and surrounding provinces. Italy has now just imposed a similar lock-down, affecting 16 million people in the country’s north. Here in the United States, where Trump is building an incipient concentration camp system for detained migrants, the White House has thus far been trying to downplay the COVID-19 threat—as Xi Jinping did before the depth of the crisis became inescapable. If such a point is reached here as well, the posture of the Trump administration could change fast—with potential for sweeping lockdowns, mass internment of targeted populations, and even exploitation of the crisis as a “Reichstag Fire” to throw or suspend the 2020 elections. The coronavirus hysteria could be a terrifying advance for the global detention state, and progressives must urgently formulate a response. Listen on SoundCloud, and support our podcast via Patreon. (Photo: Chinese police demonstration video, via Twitter)

East Asia
228 Incident

‘228 Incident’ remembered in Taiwan

Some 1,000 activists from various civic groups marched in Taipei on the 73rd anniversary of the “228 Incident,” the 1947 uprising and massacre that marked the beginning of Taiwan’s “White Terror.” Li Ssu-yi, chair of TW Gong Sheng, a youth group dedicated to remembrance of the Incident, said, “We refuse to forget and insist on carrying on the spirit of what they fought for during this year’s march.” The 228 massacre was the opening chapter of the “White Terror” era, during which political dissidents were suppressed, imprisoned and killed. The Terror lasted until the lifting of martial law in Taiwan in 1987. A Transitional Justice Commission, established by President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration in May 2018, has since been engaged in documenting the crimes of Kuomintang rule in Taiwan between 1945 and 1992, when the transition to democracy began. (Image: Keep Taiwan Free)