Tuesday 26 November 2013

Its only a matter of time before big cracks appear

From theregister.co.uk
China's thirst for social networks will help the country's citizens smash through its rigid state control, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt has claimed.
He said during a conference in London on Monday that popular sites such as Weibo and WeChat would help to liberalise the People's Republic.
Schmidt spoke of a meeting he had had with leaders of the country's Communist Party earlier this month. According to reports, he told President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang that the Chinese government's efforts to stifle public opinion online would ultimately prove to be fruitless.
In recent months, China has passed stringent censorship and libel legislation on social media, including the imposition of penalties for anyone who creates "online rumours" that are reposted more than 500 times.
"They’re heavily regulated but to me the most interesting thing about talking to the Government, from the President all the way through to the governors, was they are obsessed about what is going on on the internet," Schmidt said, according to theDaily Telegraph.
"So they passed these laws, which Mr Xi pushed through, which are horrific, are that if you have more than 500 people you ‘incite’ you are heavily criminally liable. Everyone in China has more than 500 followers because there are so many Chinese people so it essentially puts everyone at risk.
"Weibo and WeChat will move. You simply cannot imprison enough Chinese people when they all agree to something. You won’t be able to stop it even if you don’t like it."
The Google man added that the huge drift of citizens towards social networks would lead to a "liberalisation of the country". ®

A non-profit anti-censorship body has called on Eric Schmidt and Google to lead by example and call China’s bluff on web censorship with a simple two-pronged approach.
GreatFire.org co-founder Charlie Smith claimed in a blog post that Google should switch its China search service to HTTPS by default, as it does in the US, which means Beijing would have to block it completely or not at all, rather than the selective search results it blocks today.
Secondly, Smith urged Google to redirect users trying to visit blocked sites to a mirrored version of that site hosted by the Chocolate Factory.
He argued that if the authorities are prepared to let developer site Github continue, having appeared to back down over blocking the HTTPS site outright earlier this year, then Google would be in an even stronger position if it stood up to Beijing.
“They have sometimes made Google services like Gmail excruciatingly difficult to use,” he wrote. “But given how essential Google’s services are to so many individuals and businesses, blocking the company entirely would have immediate and disastrous economic consequences.”
As for site mirroring, it’s something GreatFire.org has done recently to ensure users inside the Great Firewall can visit the blocked Reuters China and China Digital Times sites, so it could certainly be done with little effort, Smith argued.
Smith continued:
It would be easy for Google to make a change to its search engine, so that when a person clicks on a link that Google knows is blocked, they would redirect that user to an unblocked version of the page, hosted on an unblockable proxy. They could also add a small indication in their search results which would basically say: “This page is blocked in your country, but we have taken the liberty to protect your liberty by redirecting you to a mirror of this page”. Google is already half way there. Google caches most internet pages and provides them to users. The cache is hosted on a separate domain, which is blocked in China. Google can simply host the cache on a subpath, say https://www.google.com/webcache (and in country specific domains) to bypass the block. The great firewall will no longer be able to prevent visitors from China accessing this cache without blocking Google entirely.
Google currently has less than a five per cent share of the Chinese search market, and it makes little from Android thanks to highly localised content and the popularity of third party app stores in the PRC – so on the one hand there appears to be little preventing the firm from getting more proactive.
However, despite relocating its search servers to Hong Kong in a well publicised move in 2010, it still has three offices in China and has shown itself to be pretty risk averse in the region since.
For example in January this year it turned off a censorship alert service just six months after rolling it out to Chinese users.
It could also be argued at a push that while Beijing is happy to let the likes of Github get away without being blocked wholesale, if Google did the same it would simply represent too big a challenge to its authority to look the other way.
Despite Eric Schmidt’s claims that global censorship could be over in a decade, therefore, it’s likely that Google itself is prepared to do little to make this a reality.
The news around GreatFire.org’s site mirroring and the blocking of Reuters China and The Wall Street Journal by Beijing has gained much media traction in the past fortnight – so much so that notorious Taiwanese animators NMA have got in on the act.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

We have had some entries to the competition

The Competition details can be found here

20 year old monk immolates self in Golok

Phayul[Monday, November 11, 2013 21:43] from Phayul.com
 A 20 year old Tibetan monk has set himself ablaze earlier today in Tibet's Pema County in Golok, a Tibetan source told phayul. 

A monk of Akyong monastery, Tsering lit himself up in protest against the Chinese government and its hardline policies, the same source said. Engulfed in flames, Tsering collapsed after walking a few metres. Chinese police on street patrol arrived at the scene and doused the fire. Tsering was rushed to the county hospital where he is kept under strict police surveillance. 

Tsering is the 123rd Tibetan to set his body ablaze in protest against China since 2009.

November 12 Update: The 20 year old Tibetan monk who set himself ablaze yesterday died on the way to Xiling hospital, a Tibetan source said. 

The source told Phayul that Tsering Gyal succumbed to his burn injuries yesterday around 10 PM (local time) as he was being moved to a bigger hospital in Xiling city.

Before breathing his last, Gyal had said, “Today, I burned myself for the re-union of Tibetans. My only hope is the unity among Tibetans and the preservation of the Tibetan language and tradition. If we do that, all the Tibetans will be re-united.”

Tsering Gyal set himself ablaze in Pema County in Golok to protest against the Chinese government and its hardline policies. Engulfed in flames, Tsering collapsed after walking a few metres from a giant lotus made up of concrete at the centre of the town towards the County headquarters. 

Witnesses have told our source that he was chanting "Gyalwa Tenzin Gyatso khyen" (may His Holiness the Dalai Lama know) before collapsing. Chinese police on street patrol arrived at the scene and doused the fire. 

At midnight, Tsering’s charred body was taken to Aakyong monastery where over 200 monks from Akyong, Peyag and Gomang monastery performed post death rituals. 

A large number of armed forces have now been deployed in Pema County and a strict monitoring of people's movement in and out of the county is in place.

Gyal is the 123rd Tibetan to have immolated self in protest against the Chinese government since 2009. 

A Message To William Hague

I sent this today
Dear Foreign Secretary
please do not vote for China to be on the Human Rights Council today.
China's human rights record is getting worse and they are a long way off being responsible world citizens.
China is also about to wreck the Tibetan Plateau with large scale mining against the wishes of the Tibetan people
Cheap crap from China isn't worth it

Many thanks
Richard Moulton

And here is the reply

Dear Mr Moulton,

Thank you for your email of 11 November to the Foreign Secretary on Human Rights in China.  I am replying on behalf of the China department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

You asked that the UK vote against China’s re-election to the UN Human Rights Council.  As a matter of policy, the UK does not reveal its voting intentions regarding UN issues, so unfortunately I cannot comment directly. However I can assure you that we carefully consider every country that stands for election to the UN Human Rights Council, and will continue to engage China on human rights issues, including through discussion of its specific pledges to the UN Human Rights Council as part of its bid for membership.

We remain very concerned about the situation in Tibet. We consistently raise these concerns with the Chinese authorities. We did so most recently with the Chinese Embassy in London at official level on 24 October 2013. Our human rights concerns are also addressed in detail in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s Annual Human Rights Report (www.hrdreport.fco.gov.uk), published on 15 April, and in the update to it, published on 17 October 2013.

During the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process we called on China to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to set a timetable to do so. China has until March 2014 to respond to all concerns raised during the UPR process. The UPR, and the meetings of the UN Human Rights Council, provide regular opportunities to engage with China with the aim of improving its human rights record.

I can assure you that British Ministers are robust in their defence of human rights, and will be discussing these issues with Chinese counterparts this autumn and beyond. We are seeking dates for the next UK-China Human Rights Dialogue which we hope will take place in early 2014.  As the Foreign Secretary has said, we must have a foreign policy based on our values.

China Department
Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Monday 4 November 2013

Stop China getting onto the UN Human Rights Council - message from AVAAZ

Update 12th November: 1,000,000+ !
Send a message to William Hague!

Tibetans who refuse to fly the Chinese flag above their homes risk being beaten or shot in the latest attempt to break their spirits. But now is the best moment in ages to bring hope to Tibet's proud, but desperate people.

China’s leaders are mounting an intense campaign to draw a veil over their rights abuses and persuade governments to vote them onto the UN Human Rights Council. So if enough of us shine a light on what’s going on in Tibet -- squashing an ancient religion, banning journalists, dawn arrests -- we can get China to back away from its hard-line policy to be sure of getting the 97 votes it needs.

Let’s show the Tibetan people that the world hasn’t forgotten them.China is feeling the heat as 13 governments just called them out on human rights in Tibet. Sign to stand with Tibet, then share this with everyone. When one million have signed we’ll deliver it to all UN delegations, and make it massive in the media:


Pressure on China is mounting. In an unprecedentedly strong show of support, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, US, UK, Switzerland, Sweden, Iceland and Austria just called on China to protect freedom of assembly, religion and association in Tibet. This request arrives just days after a Spanish court indicted China's former President for genocide in Tibet!

The situation is really dire. More than 120 people have taken their own lives by setting themselves on fire to protest the suffocation of the Chinese occupation and hundreds of thousands of Tibetans have been wiped out. China's ongoing policies systematically suppress the Tibetan language, force people from their homes, and strictly control the Tibetans' movement and religion.

China’s failed policies hurt China too, but having dug themselves in this deep, they need pressure to change course. This is the week that change can start. If enough of us speak up while China is under the global microscope, we can make sure our governments know we haven’t forgotten Tibet. Sign now and tell everyone -- let's build the biggest petition ever for Tibet and demand they hold China to account:


Proud Tibetans are struggling against China's brutal rule and long for change, but they can’t do it alone. No one can create changes that big alone. 

That’s why we've come together for Tibet before. Let's make this the moment where the whole world commits to the survival of the Tibetan people.

Our community was made for this moment.

With hope,

Ben, Alice, Patricia, Alex, Ricken, Emily, Sayeeda and the whole Avaaz team


UN criticises China's rights record at Geneva meeting (BBC)

Dalai Lama Says China Has Turned Tibet Into a ‘Hell on Earth’ (New York Times)

Spain probes Hu Jintao 'genocide' in Tibet court case (BBC)

Four Tibetans Shot Dead as Protests Spread in Driru County (Radio Free Asia)

China denounces Spanish court's Tibet case against ex-president (Reuters)