Rubric Red Lanterns

Red Lanterns
by Silvia Torriti

Cranes and excavators are back at work after they were halted in June 2020 following local opposition and academic criticism, social media in China report. Ostensibly, the goal is to modernise rural life by merging a fifth of 70,000 villages, forcing people into new neighbourhoods on the outskirts of medium-sized cities. Anyone who fails to comply can expect violence.

| 16/05/2024
| RED LANTERNS

A journey of 10,000 kilometres extolled by Beijing as an opportunity for development (and revenge on Italy's exit from the Belt and Road Initiative). But cotton and tomatoes from Xinjang are at the heart of the ‘policy of poverty alleviation through the transfer of labour’, which according to numerous reports is a form of forced labour.

| 09/05/2024
| RED LANTERNS

Former Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele will be the new prime minister. Analysts expect him to adopt a less confrontational approach despite ties to China. Pacific nations are torn between loyalty to their Western partners and agreements (especially on security) with China.

| 02/05/2024
| RED LANTERNS
by John Ai

Four people have been arrested recently in Germany, including a close aide to a leading member of the Alternative für Deutschland party who is running for re-election to the European Parliament. Joint research programmes between German universities and Chinese institutes connected to the country’s military have come in for closer scrutiny. For a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, China is the victim of “defamation”.

| 25/04/2024
| RED LANTERNS
by Mathias Hariyadi

After President-elect Prabowo's visit to Beijing, China’s foreign minister travelled to Jakarta to discuss Chinese involvement in the infrastructure of Indonesia’s new capital Nusantara, a project that follows the building of a high-speed train between Jakarta and Bandung.

| 18/04/2024
| RED LANTERNS

Pictures, images, and activities that undermine national unity or promote a "separatist ideology" are banned. The Chinese government has long sought to control the choice of Tibet’s next spiritual leader. For his part, 88-year-old Tenzin Gyatso says he is in good health and wants to “live for more than 100 years.” Meanwhile, the fate of the Panchen Lama remains an unsolved mystery.

| 11/04/2024
| RED LANTERNS

Municipal authorities in Chongqing have promoted the initiative for the spring festival when Chinese visit the graves of their dearly departed. However, paying homage to the late Li Keqiang has been banned. The former premier, who died suddenly last October, was once seen as a counterweight to Xi Jinping.

| 04/04/2024
| RED LANTERNS

Three Chinese-funded infrastructure projects in Pakistan have been hit in seven days. Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharf is set to visit to China next month to boost the economic ties but, for analysts, new projects are not likely to materialise. While the latest suicide bombing has not been claimed, several groups have reasons to go after the Chinese.

| 28/03/2024
| RED LANTERNS

A delegation of 11 representatives of China’s “official” Catholic bodies took part in the assemblies that ratify Xi Jinping's political choices. Bishop Yang Yongqiang, one of the two bishops who attended the Synod at the Vatican, was also present. Bishop Shen Bin told journalists that the new goals for China’s Catholic community are “self-control, self-management, and self-construction”.

| 14/03/2024
| RED LANTERNS

An "incident” involving a journalist covering the "Two Sessions" in Beijing shows the extent to which digital controls are used to silence dissatisfaction due to the real estate market crash.

 

| 07/03/2024
| RED LANTERNS
by John Ai

In large enterprises, units linked to the Chinese armed forces are again being formed. Private companies are also following the example of public ones. A way to manage potential unrest in the context of the economic slowdown and to strengthen the Communist Party's control over companies.

| 29/02/2024
| RED LANTERNS

Due to rising political tensions and diversification strategies, only 11.4 per cent of Taiwan’s foreign investment went to mainland China last year, down from 83.8 per cent in 2010. Chinese investments in the island are also down. In 2022, China accounted for 34 per cent of Taiwan’s overall foreign investment, down from two thirds a decade ago. US lawmakers start visit in Taiwan.

| 22/02/2024
| RED LANTERNS
by Angeline Tan

Philip Chan, 59, is the first to come under the Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act, adopted in 2022 to deal with growing pressure from the People's Republic of China (PRC). A real estate developer linked to a Shenzhen-based group, Chan attended the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing last year.

| 08/02/2024
| RED LANTERNS
by John Ai

The geopolitical confrontation between the United States and China is having serious repercussions on academic research. The number of Chinese students enrolled in US universities is down for the fourth year in a row. Many projects in the fields of artificial intelligence and quantum computing are dual use and can be exploited by the military.

| 01/02/2024
| RED LANTERNS

Ten years since the arrest of Ilham Tohti, the symbolic face of the repression against the Uyghur cultural identity, a report slams 18 European tour operators for offering travel packages in Xinjiang. Their “destinations are linked to genocide and crimes against humanity.”

| 18/01/2024
| RED LANTERNS

In 1999, Beijing reinterpreted Hong Kong’s Basic Law to deny children born in mainland China to Hong Kong parents the right to reunite with their families. Since then, the PIME missionary has been fighting to resolve an issue that touches 60,000 people. The denial goes against what the Chinese government itself has said.

| 11/01/2024
| RED LANTERNS

Chinese authorities have banned the admission of new monks to Khyungbum Lura Monastery, which resisted the People's Liberation Army in the 1950s. While native Tibetans have expressed concern, China has boosted its repression in Tibet, adopting population data collection strategies as in Xinjiang.

 

| 04/01/2024
| RED LANTERNS
by John Ai

The Ministry of State Security has a new task, that of protecting the economy amid slowing growth. The once-mysterious intelligence service is becoming more active on social media against “hostile forces" that might hinder development. At the same time, the authorities are censoring negative comments to boost investor confidence.

| 21/12/2023
| RED LANTERNS
by John Ai

This is the GDP target set for 2024 at the conclusion of the Chinese Communist Party's economic conference. At the centre of the proceedings are fears over the real estate sector and obstacles to recovery. The propaganda is functional to the recovery attempt after the post-Covid clouds. Over 8.5 million people on the 'blacklist' for not having repaid bank loans, another 19 million without medical assistance.

| 14/12/2023
| RED LANTERNS
by Chow Hang-tung *

Lawyer and pro-democracy activist Chow Hang-tung writes a “J’accuse” from her cell in a Hong Kong prison. “It is indisputable that the current international order is heavily dominated by the West, and thus still quite far from the ideal of law-as-values. But the way to improve it is not by giving more voice to the non-western dictators, which could only deepen the silence of the hitherto voiceless.”

| 07/12/2023
| RED LANTERNS
by John Ai

A practice used as a tool of class struggle during the Cultural Revolution. The president has decided to revive the old model of social governance promoted by Mao 60 years ago, mobilising the masses to 'solve problems at the local level'. In reality, it is a way to control discontent and the economic crisis. Fears of strengthening surveillance.

| 30/11/2023
| RED LANTERNS
by John Ai

Beijing is reportedly planning a greater role in the Middle East, as part of its global military challenge to US dominance in the Persian Gulf. So far, senior government officials have not commented. The People's Liberation Army (PLA) is accelerating plans to build a blue-water navy.

 

| 23/11/2023
| RED LANTERNS
by John Ai

Renewed military-to-military talks was the main outcome of the summit between the US and Chinese presidents in San Francisco. Both want to avoid conflict by resuming communications. No joint statement was made after their four-hour meeting. Xi's supporters and people protesting for human rights in China clashed in the California city.

 

| 16/11/2023
| LANTERNE ROSSE
by John Ai

Young people celebrated this rare occurrence in China. Masks are an opportunity for satire and dissent, without crossing red lines. Security forces and police were deployed across the city, taking some young people into custody. Videos and photos showing people in disguise popped up all over social media, taking advantage of a rare opportunity to express discontent.

| 02/11/2023
| RED LANTERNS

Zeng Yuxuan, 23, was jailed for six months over a drawing of the "Pillar of Shame", a statue that honours the victims of the massacre. Repatriated in Shenzhen as an unwelcome person, she is now missing; her mother has suffered the same fate. This case is the latest in a long list of repressive acts against activists. The young woman’s supporters have set up a Facebook page open to anyone concerned about her fate.

| 26/10/2023
| RED LANTERNS
by John Ai

Hunan Television, a popular TV channel, broadcasts a prime time show in which variety meets Communist Party ideology. The aim of the programme is to show that Marxism is compatible with traditional Chinese culture. A new last-ditch effort by the leadership to reinforce the ideology among the youth; but on the web there is also mockery of the initiative.

| 19/10/2023
| RED LANTERNS
by John Ai

Deemed a “rebel province”, Taiwan is investigating four companies involved in the construction of a microchip plant in Shenzhen. Taiwanese authorities are also planning to establish a list of key technologies banned from export for its own national security.

| 12/10/2023
| RED LANTERNS

Lawyer Lu Siwei - detained in July in Vientiane while trying to flee the People's Republic - is in a detention centre in Sichuan despite warnings from UN Human Rights Council officials. The same place where Beijing seeks re-election for a new three-year term on 10 October.

| 05/10/2023
| RED LANTERNS
by John Ai

A computer programmer from Chengde had three years' salary confiscated by the police for using a VPN. The device makes it possible to circumvent the block on foreign websites imposed by the Chinese authorities. The affair is viewed with concern by professionals and companies operating in the internet services and foreign trade in China. Meanwhile, abroad, Beijing is very active in defending its narrative on the same social networks that are 'banned' at home.

| 28/09/2023
| RED LANTERNS

Although some competitions have already started, the opening ceremony will take place in two days (without fireworks for environmental reasons). Alongside the Olympic disciplines there will be eSports and disciplines related to ancient Asian practices, such as traditional Dragon boat racing or Indian kabbadi. The coach of India's football team consulted an astrologer to decide which players to bring along. Beijing reopens to the region after the covid in the hope of racking up medals.

| 21/09/2023
| RED LANTERNS
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by Silvia Torriti
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