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White Terror Continues at Cathay Pacific

The Hong Kong Free Press reports that the head of the flight attendant’s union at Cathay Pacific, Rebecca Sy, has been fired.

We posted an article about the “white terror” at Cathay Pacific on August 21st (Nice Little Airline You’ve Got Here. Be a Shame if Anything Happened to It.). It’s clear that the CCP is keeping up it’s pressure on Cathay Pacific, as the purported reason that Sy’s was fired were some Facebook posts she made in support of the HK protesters.

In case anyone was under the impression that the CCP was some kind of “benevolent dictatorship” – no, it is not. They will not allow any criticism, especially from someone in an influential position.

Even as the HK police confront protesters in the streets of Hong Kong, the CCP continually applies pressure to Hong Kong’s business and government institutions to conform to Beijing’s will. It is a multi-front battle for the future of Hong Kong and its people. Later posts on chinadailynews.com will elaborate on this.

UPDATE: China Digital Times has a long but excellent article on this same topic that goes into more depth on the pressure that Hong Kong’s businesses and prominent people face.

UPDATE 2: Watch this video from the South China Morning Post’s tweet of Rebecca Sy’s news conference. “My colleagues are terrified,” she says:

The CCP’s Disinformation

We’ve written and posted numerous articles on the Hong Kong protests since ChinaDailyNews opened August 10, 2019 – undoubtedly more than on any other topic. It is our sincere hope that in the future, Hong Kong will achieve true freedom, and we won’t be writing about protests in Hong Kong, but rather, about the freedom, success, and prosperity of Hong Kong and its citizens.

Until then, we will – must – continue writing about Hong Kong and its troubled relationship with the Beijing government.

One aspect of that troubled relationship is the disinformation – lies – promulgated by Chinese state-controlled media sources about any number of topics, including Hong Kong and the protesters. The disinformation serves several purposes: 1) to cover up misdeeds by the Chinese government, the CCP, and its agents; 2) to attempt to discredit opposition and blunt criticism of China and the CCP; 3) to steer public opinion, both domestically and internationally, in favor of China, the CCP, and their policies; 4) failing that, to confuse people and muddy the waters, so that people don’t know what the truth of an issue is; 5) and many other purposes, no doubt.

In raising this, we want to make a clear – very clear – distinction between the Chinese government/Chinese Communist Party and the people of China. In no way are we saying that the people of China – the laobaixing as they are known in Mandarin Chinese – are involved in any way with the CCP’s disinformation.

Nevertheless, that disinformation is pervasive and rampant across many media sources and taking many forms. Let’s take a look at some from just today.

British consulate staff member (and Hong Kong citizen), Simon Cheng, has been detained in China for several days. The consulate had heard nothing about him until today, when the Global Times Editor-in-Chief said he was detained for visiting a prostitute.

Could that be true? Certainly, but his family says that is isn’t.

Who to believe? Well, given the Chinese media’s track record, and the additional detail provided in the Hong Kong Free Press article, it is a whole lot easier to believe Simon Cheng’s family than the editor of the Global Times. Even if Cheng was with a woman, it could very well be an instance of the honeypot trap.

In 2009, the British MI5 distributed a 14-page document to hundreds of British banks, businesses, and financial institutions, titled “The Threat from Chinese Espionage”. It described a wide-ranging Chinese effort to blackmail Western business people over sexual relationships. The document explicitly warns that Chinese intelligence services are trying to cultivate “long-term relationships” and have been known to “exploit vulnerabilities such as sexual relationships … to pressurise individuals to co-operate with them.”[2]

Wikipedia article at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honey_trapping

Until Simon Cheng is released, we don’t know his side of the story, and even then, there might be more going on in this story than it appears. Little that Chinese state-controlled media says about anything controversial can be taken at face value.

More evidence of that fact appeared today, when Google announced that 210 YouTube accounts connected to China’s disinformation campaign aimed at the Hong Kong protests had been removed.

Earlier this week, as part of our ongoing efforts to combat coordinated influence operations, we disabled 210 channels on YouTube when we discovered channels in this network behaved in a coordinated manner while uploading videos related to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. This discovery was consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter.

Google blog post on YouTube account removal

We had posted previously on Twitter and Facebook removing phony accounts; now Google says that YouTube accounts were also a part of the CCP’s disinformation campaign. It isn’t surprising at all. Take everything said on any controversial topic by Chinese state-run media not just with a grain of salt, take it with a whole pound of salt.

$500,000 for “Pre-Wedding” Photos???

A tweet by the South China Morning Post says that Chinese couples spend up to $500,00 U.S. dollars for “pre-wedding” photos. Can this be true?

The photo sessions that they show in the video are stunning, no doubt about it. They look like a movie set or the set of the final scene of a Chinese romantic drama. But half a million dollars, really?

So, we looked into this a bit. According to an article on Shutterfly, a photography website,

The average couple in the US spends 11.5 percent of their wedding budget on photography and  videography. Couples pay top dollar for stunning shots, the average cost being around $2,000. 

Shutterfly article

So, some Chinese couples are spending up to 250 times the average amount for wedding photos in the U.S. That’s amazing, but comparing top-tier photography with the average in the U.S. obviously doesn’t make sense. How about top-tier U.S wedding photography? Surely that must be comparable, right?

An article on Bazaar’s website lists what they say are the 40 best wedding photographers in the U.S. So we looked around for what these top-notch, nationally and internationally recognized photographers charge for wedding photos.

One example we found is for KT Merry. According to the Bazaar article, KT Merry has done wedding photography for people like model and movie star, Kate Upton, and her husband, baseball star pitcher Justin Verlander. Surely engaging KT Merry to shoot wedding photos must be very, very expensive! Well, according to an article on weddingforward.com, “Her start rate for the most popular package is $15000.” Undoubtedly, the wedding photos for Kate Upton and Justin Verlander were much more than that, but even if they cost 20 times as much as the “most popular package,” the total would be just 60% of what the SCMP post says some Chinese couples are spending!

Obviously, pre-wedding and wedding photos in China are incredibly important. A short but interesting 2017 article in National Geographic provides a little more background into this fascinating aspect of Chinese culture, for those interested.

Hong Kong Protests Continue Today

The Hong Kong Free Press posted a long Twitter thread today on the continuing Hong Kong protests held today. Protesters held a sit in and then occupied a transit station (Yuen Long MTR) for some time before dispersing. Fortunately, it appears that the protest was peaceful, with both the police and protesters showing restraint; although, some protesters shined laser pointers at the police.

Meanwhile, Chinese state-controlled media (China Daily, in this case) is pushing a narrative that the protesters are violent thugs and terrorists (including a blatant lie about the protesters using an M320 grenade launcher against the police). They continue to ratchet up their rhetoric.

A few days ago, Hong Kong Free Press reported that a China Daily article said there would be no repeat of Tiananmen Massacre in Hong Kong. If that is truly the case, then it would seem that China’s propaganda is aimed at turning international (and Hong Kong residents’) opinion against the protesters, in hope that they will be shamed into stopping their demonstrations. Thus far, that does not appear to be happening. Support for the protesters appears to be strong in the U.S., Taiwan, and other Chinese communities. Pro-Beijing support appears to be narrow, and is likely to have been orchestrated from Beijing, rather than being spontaneous. Of course, there are some “patriotic” Chinese students at universities throughout the world that are demonstrating in favor of China, but our observation is that the pro-Beijing demonstrations seem to be more against criticism of China, and much less in favor of the CCP and its policies.

Despite saying that there would be no repeat of Tiananmen, the rhetoric coming from Chinese state-run media today is worrisome. The continued escalation of their rhetoric, with the China Daily video today openly calling the protesters “terrorists” (after saying that their behavior “approached terrorism” last week), even after massive, but completely peaceful, protests over this past weekend, is not a good sign. Beijing needs to be continually reminded that the world is watching, and any violent crackdown in Hong Kong will have very serious consequences for China on the world stage.

Nice Little Airline You’ve Got Here. Be a Shame if Anything Happened to It.

White Terror at Cathay Pacific Airlines

A Reuters article describes a climate of fear among the staff and management at Cathay Pacific Airlines, which is based in Hong Kong. China has demanded that any Cathay Pacific employees that have taken part in demonstrations in Hong Kong be fired, and in fact, two pilots were fired. Other employees have quit in response, including the CEO of Cathay Pacific, Rupert Hogg, who resigned last week.

Hogg’s departure highlights the pressure on the corporate sector in Hong Kong, the Asian base for many global businesses, trying to walk a tightrope between the protesters and China’s Communist Party rulers in Beijing.

Reuters

The CCP puts constant pressure on Hong Kong’s government and society, as well as businesses that sell goods or services in China or Hong Kong, to refrain from any criticism – or else. Contrast the CCP’s behavior with that of the U.S. government and the governments of other democracies, which are criticized constantly. When a political system is robust and responsive to the people, it can withstand criticism, because it can adjust. The CCP cannot, because it can only maintain its power through manipulation, suppression, and threatened or actual violence.

Arthur Chrenkoff: Found a “New Hong Kong” in Northern Queensland, Australia

Arthur Chrenkoff posts an article to his website titled “Honk for Honkers” arguing (semi tongue-in-cheek) that Australia should lease some land in northern Queensland to freedom-loving Hong Kongers to found a new Hong Kong. He concludes:

A long time, in the run up to the United Kingdom’s ill-fated handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, I thought that a smart thing for Australia would be to lease some real estate up in north Queensland to the Hong Kong Chinese yearning to live free without the Mainland cloud hanging over them. It was a fanciful idea, and in the end not that many residents chose to migrate to other Western countries (though a significant number over the years ensured they are in possession of alternative passports), mostly because “one country, two systems” proved reasonably workable. But if it now doesn’t anymore, maybe it’s time to rethink the refuge option. I, for one, continue to be in favour of a free New Honkers, where our Chinese brothers and sisters who share our democratic and capitalist values can prosper in safety and security in the future for their and our benefit.

Arthur Chrenkoff
http://thedailychrenk.com/2019/08/19/honk-for-honkers/

Read the whole thing.

Costco Opening Store in Shanghai

U.S. discount retailer Costco is opening a store in Shanghai.

Tweet by China News

Other U.S. retailers have been operating in China for years. Walmart has well over 400 stores throughout China.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen: Taiwan is a Bastion of Democracy in the Pacific

Tsai Ing-wen, the president of Taiwan, posted this tweet:

Tweet by Tsai Ing-wen, president of Taiwan

Campus Reform: Some U.S. Universities Spew Chinese Propaganda

An article on campusreform.org discusses the national security implications of the Confucius Institutes hosted by many U.S. colleges and universities. The Confucius Institutes are sponsored and funded by the Chinese government and are ostensibly aimed at teaching Chinese language and culture. However, the curriculum at the institutes is (of course) slanted toward pro-CCP positions, downplaying or outright forbidding teaching or discussion of topics that portray the CCP in a bad light, e.g. the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

According to the Campus Reform article, more than 15 of the Confucius Institutes have closed in the wake of FBI Director Christopher Wray’s testimony (link to Inside Higher Ed article) to Congress earlier this year that the institutes are a national security threat.

We still confront traditional espionage threats … but economic espionage dominates our counterintelligence program today,” Wray said in his remarks. “More than ever, the adversaries’ targets are our nation’s assets, our information and ideas, our innovation, our research and development, our technology. And no country poses a broader, more severe intelligence collection threat than China.

FBI Director Christopher Wray, quoted in Inside Higher Ed article April 29, 2019
https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2019/04/29/fbi-director-discusses-chinese-espionage-threat-us-academic-research

While it is entirely understandable that universities want and need funding for teaching and research, the source of that funding must be considered. Money coming from China, especially from the Chinese government, will almost certainly come with strings attached. This is true no matter if the money is going to a foreign government for infrastructure/development projects or to an American college or university. Administrators should think twice about accepting any funding directed by the CCP.

Chinese Disinformation and Propaganda Campaigns on Twitter and Facebook

In the previous post on this site, we highlighted another example of how the CCP coordinates its disinformation and propaganda on Chinese media outlets to confuse narratives and steer public opinion. Of course, they try to do the same on other media as well.

Twitter has exposed a Chinese disinformation and propaganda campaign on the Twitter service.

Tweet from Twitter’s Twitter Safety account

Read the whole thread.

Facebook also announced removal of accounts being run from China as part of a propaganda/disinformation campaign.

All of this propaganda and disinformation (and there is a huge, huge amount of it) is aimed at turning world opinion against the protesters, putting pressure on other governments to respond favorably to China or face loss of Chinese money (bribes), and confusing people. It is undoubtedly coordinated from Beijing and uses a variety of tactics, most of which are pretty obvious, once you start paying attention, because they are almost invariably ham-handed and rather childish.

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