Monthly Archives: February 2021

Virus Information State Secrets

A medical worker takes a swab sample from a resident to be tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus, in a street in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Leaked Classified Chinese government documents recently obtained show that Chinese authorities are treating all CCP virus-related information as “state secrets” and have forbidden officials from “exposing” them to the public.

Ironically, Chinese state-run media Xinhua—the central government’s mouthpiece—commented : “Countless historical experiences of preventing infectious diseases have shown people that sharing epidemic information to the public is like sunshine that can kill the virus. So, the most effective medicine is publishing all information.”

Nanning is the capital of the southwestern Guangxi region. The city has seven districts and five counties, with a population of roughly 7.25 million.

The Epoch Times obtained a copy of a document from the Nanning city government that was marked “classified.” It laid down requirements for all local government teams within district and county governments in Nanning that have been set up to deal with the virus.

Another document from Heilongjiang Province in northern China also mentioned that pandemic-related documents are to be treated as “top secret,” meaning other local governments in China likely received similar notices.

“During the time period of combating the virus, all types of urgent documents, urgent notices, urgent events… internally shared sensitive information, and any information that the government leaders haven’t approved to disclose to the public” would be considered state secrets, the document said.

These pandemic-related “state secrets” were protected by the “law on guarding state secrets” released on April 29, 2010, the city government said.

According to the law, seven types of information are treated as state secrets, such as those concerning major policy decisions on state affairs, national defense, diplomatic activities, national economic development, science and technology, state security, and so on.

The document did not explain how pandemic information can be considered “state secrets,” but went into detail about how to keep such information confidential. All officials should prepare, edit, and save virus-related “state secrets” only on computers or cell phones not connected to the internet.

All virus-related documents can only be transferred by regular mailing. All staff are banned from taking photos of these documents and sharing these photos. Officials are not allowed to talk about such information during phone calls, via text messages, or any other internet-based communication channels. They are also forbidden from mentioning the information at home.

Officials cannot bring virus-related documents, related computers, external hard drives, and other movable storage mediums to their homes or public places. All documents must be processed at offices in government buildings, with all windows closed. When officials need to open the office window, related staff must pay attention to security, the notice said.

When each level of government organizes pandemic-related meetings, staff should also keep all windows closed. If the meeting goes for very long and participants need to get fresh air, staff can open the windows but must make sure the secrets won’t be leaked, the document noted.

Without a permit from the city government, all government officials and employees, medical staff at hospitals, and related personnel are not allowed to accept media interviews.

Any information that has been approved for public release must be published according to the city government’s orders.

In the initial stages of the outbreak, the Chinese regime downplayed the risk of human-to-human transmission in public, while internal government documents showed that authorities were scrambling to contain the virus from spreading.

Local authorities have also consistently under-reported virus infections, keeping internal tallies of diagnostic results that differ from officially released data.

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February 2021 Update

The Chinese just finished celebrating their New Year, Year of the Ox, which began on February 12th and ended February 22nd. Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is one of China’s most important traditional festivals celebrated at the turn of the new year on the Chinese lunar calendar. Natives believe only the Spring Festival marks the official new year, and great importance is attached to its festivities which is typically celebrated with families and friends.

With the New Year comes a new 12 week “Faith or Fiction” class which will start at the end of the month. So far 232 people have signed up to be taught by our 7 leaders. PRAY for their safety and that they would be strengthened by receiving God’s Word in these sessions. Rolf is aching to be there but getting a visa right now is near impossible and even if he could there isn’t anyone even flying directly to China! Hopefully that will change in the near future. Please PRAY for our patience as we wait to determine God’s will and His perfect timing.

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21 ESV.

We have a wonderful program for teaching “Faith or Fiction” but our leaders are also learning the Gospel can be quickly spread through simple believers who sit down in homes, offices, tea shops and factory dormitories and respectfully telling their friends what a difference Jesus has made in their lives. They are seeing that the Gospel is a simple, life-giving message that can transform whole communities, turning darkness to light and changing people bound by chains of sin into children of God.

May we never lose the simplicity of faith and relationship with the Lord Jesus. Each year we serve Him brings with it a new emphasis. Looking forward, we believe the Lord wants us to keep things simple, to love Him with all our hearts and to help as many dedicated Chinese leaders to continue sharing the faith with the unreached and neglected.

While this world system seems to be rapidly falling apart at the seams, we are determined to serve our soon-coming King until the very last moment, before the sun sets and all labor will cease. Jesus said in John 9:4-5 “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

We’re thankful that our ministry has a sort of built-in flexibility. Because our movements across the land and China are constantly changing, we have become accustomed to making adjustments. Because of this, shifting from all those trips to the airport to working out of our home has resulted in many amazing opportunities for spiritual growth in those we mentor and gospel conversations with people we’ve reached out to. Even though 2020 has been the worst of years, it may also be the best of years.

And as always we are grateful and thankful for your prayers, support and love.

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Stealing American Tech

The Department of Justice charged a Chinese national for his involvement in a years-long conspiracy to export American technology to China.

Cheng Bo, a 45-year-old employee at a Singapore-based electronics distributor, allegedly helped facilitate at least 18 “illegal” shipments of American “power amplifiers” to China between 2012 and 2015.

Power amplifiers, which have military applications, face strict export controls.

FBI counterintelligence assistant director Alan Kohler Jr. said Cheng’s efforts reflect a larger “relentless” effort to steal American technology to benefit Beijing.

“The People’s Republic of China is relentless in its pursuit of U.S. technology, much of which can be used for military purposes. The FBI is just as relentless in identifying and stopping those who violate export controls while doing business with China. Let us be clear, this is not business as usual. It is illegal and individuals and companies will pay a price for such violations,” said Kohler in a statement.

DOJ officials said Cheng’s actions helped China secure at least $814,000 in American goods. If convicted, Cheng will serve up to 20 years in prison and face fines up to double the value of the fraudulent transactions.

Cheng’s case is only the latest in a series of arrests and charges related to Chinese espionage and interference in American affairs. Earlier this month, Meyya Meyyappana, senior NASA scientist pleaded guilty to lying about his connections to a Chinese “espionage” program.

In December, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.) came under fire for his “sexual” relations and ties with Christine Fang Fang, a agent of the Chinese Communist Party who developed extensive ties to California’s Democratic Party.

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China’s Digital Currency

China’s central bank is lining up state and private partners for the launch of the much-hyped “Digital Yuan.”

The “People’s Bank of China” (PBoC) has integrated Tencent and Alibaba, specifically, their “WeChat Pay” and “AliPay” services as well as their newly established WeBank and MYBank, into its beta digital yuan system being trialed in cities from Suzhou to Shenzhen.

The move is an obvious bid to dovetail the pair’s technological capabilities and ubiquitous penetration with Beijing’s aim to popularize the “e-renminbi.”

The two tech juggernauts are believed to have every incentive to align themselves with the PBoC’s drive to amalgamate third-party mobile and online payment platforms with the nascent digital red back and its ecosystem.

Still, detractors say the pair will have little recourse if their duopoly is debased when the e-RMB gains currency among the masses. The latest inclusion, confirmed in leaked snapshots of the e-RMB wallet and user interfaces, has thus strengthened Tencent and Alibaba’s prospects.

Some say it is also a watchdogs’ tick in the conciliatory column after Beijing’s clampdown since the fourth quarter of 2020, including scuppering Ant Group’s blockbuster IPO in Shanghai and Hong Kong. This taught Alibaba and the like that despite their rising fortunes and power, Beijing calls the shots.

The two will actively put money on the e-RMB trial after being brought into the fold and guaranteed roles, when initially only state-owned lenders such as Agricultural Bank of China and China Construction Bank were included in the first testing partners.

In return, “WeChat Pay” and “Ali Pay” will soon add e-RMB wallets on to their platforms to form the much-needed synergy for a wider and quicker digital currency roll-out, on the strength of their combined market share of almost 95% of China’s cashless payments in 2020, according to Shanghai-based market consultancy iResearch.

A participant of the e-RMB trials shows a user’s interface displaying the digital currency. Photo: Xinhua

PBoC officials, meanwhile, have also sought to refute talk that the central bank will ultimately compete against Tencent or Alibaba. Mu Changchun, director of PBoC’s Digital Currency Research Institute, told an internal symposium in October that the e-RMB would never pit the bank against tech firms and their existing payment channels and that the drive was never a solitary undertaking by the PBoC.

The text of Mu’s speech given to the closed-door discussion and viewed by Asia Times noted that WeChat Pay and AliPay belonged to “indispensable financial infrastructure” and they were in fact virtual wallets while the e-RMB, with its same legal tender status as the red back paper money and coins, would become the money in these wallets.

“In current electronic payment scenarios, money paid via WeChat Pay or AliPay is indeed deposits from commercial banks as users have to link their savings accounts to the two platforms to use their services,” said Mu, who also sits on the central bank’s governing board.

With the launch of the digital yuan, these platforms can continue to operate and these virtual wallets will also contain the e-RMB issued by the PBoC, alongside deposits from commercial banks.

“We will guarantee that the e-RMB can buy whatever you buy with your banknotes or payment tools and no merchant can reject the digital currency.” 

“There is no such thing as competition because both WeChat Pay and AliPay, together with the banks affiliated with Tencent and Alibaba, have been integrated and they are all service providers of the e-RMB system.”

Other than a smartphone-based roll-out of the digital red back, the PBoC is also exploring ways of issuing physical mediums, like a card that can display balance and QR codes for transactions to serve the needs of senior citizens. Photo: Xinhua.

Mu put the focus on the rivalry between government legal tenders and the decentralized and usually unregulated cryptocurrencies issued by tech and private firms. He also highlighted the imperative to defend a country’s “currency sovereignty” and the right to issue money and supervise its use, stressing the pressing need to digitize the RMB in the face of the new challenges.

“Mu’s remarks are aimed at mollifying Tencent and Alibaba as their platforms are called important elements of China’s financial infrastructure and won’t be shut out of the e-RMB trials and its impending launch,” said a professor of economics with the Shanghai-based Fudan University, who requested not to be named.

“But Mu’s words are also a tacit warning that no tech firms in China should jump on the cryptocurrency bandwagon to undermine the PBoC’s authority.”

The professor said there had been rumors that Tencent’s Pony Ma and Alibaba’s Jack Ma once through of experimenting with de-facto digital assets for transactions on their platforms.

Under the PBoC’s regulatory regime governing RMB issue and circulation, only licensed commercial banks could convert paper money into the e-RMB but it remained to be seen if these online banks set up by tech firms would also be allowed to do so.

Liu Xia, CEO and founder of “Cloud Hands Trading Group”, a London and Beijing-based business school and fintech incubator, said that users could expect minimal hassle when using the e-RMB, nor would there be any differences between using the digital currency and WeChat Pay or AliPay.

Launching the digital currency is meant to safeguard Beijing’s currency sovereignty amid challenges from unregulated cryptocurrencies issued by private firms, the PBoC says.

Yet she said with its wider roll-out and the public’s enhanced understanding of the e-RMB, some may feel that leaving their digital money on the PBoC’s centralized platform or those operated by the “big four” state-owned banks would be safer than storing the money in WeChat Pay or AliPay.

“Whether e-RMB is fundamentally safer depends on where you park the money,” wrote Liu in her column in the Economic Observer newspaper. “If it is stored in third-party payment apps then theoretically you may still suffer loses when their operators go bankrupt, but the PBoC’s platform, by comparison, looks safer and foolproof to some people as the central bank represents the nation.” 

Tencent and Alibaba may still lose some users and transactions and the pair will have to find ways to retain customers when people have more platforms to store and use the e-RMB.

The PBoC is offering its own platform with state backing and its user experience will just be as fluid as any existing third-party tools as seen in ongoing trials, said Liu.

PBoC deputy governor Fan Yifei revealed in October that the central bank’s platform had already processed 3.13 million e-RMB transactions worth 1.1 billion yuan during the first three quarters of 2020. The trials across Beijing, Suzhou, Shenzhen and Chengdu involved 113,300 personal e-RMB wallets.

China trials digital payments, prints less cash
Beijing to bypass US systems with e-RMB drive
China’s e-RMB era comes into closer view

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China-Myanmar Border Wall

The Great Southern Wall in Wanding, Yunnan.

 It is not only to prevent “dissidents” from escaping China, or Chinese to go gambling in Myanmar. It is also a barrier against Christianity.

While building walls is generally criticized as a bad idea by the world’s top moral authorities, including Pope Francis, we hear less criticism about the “Great Southern Wall” China is building to seal its 2,129-km (1,323-miles) long, border with Myanmar.

The wall, when completed in October 2022, China says it will run from the three-border area between India, Myanmar, and China in the north to another triple border involving Myanmar, China, and Laos, in the south.

It will separate the Chinese province of Yunnan from two states of Myanmar, Kachin in the north and Shan in the south.

Map of Myanmar. The Kachin and Shan states share a border with the Chinese province of Yunnan.

In fact, much of the border area is not really controlled by the Myanmar government. It is ruled by ethno-political insurgent armies such as the “National Democratic Alliance Army” (NDAA) and the “United Wa State Army” (UWSA), in different parts of the Shan state, and the “Kachin Independence Army” (KIA) in Kachin.

These organizations administer what are de facto self-governed states. They have in common three essential features. Their ideology is Communist. They have strong ties with China. And they have a not less important partnership with local and international organized crime, as the region serves as a key hub for smuggling drugs, jade, endangered wildlife whose trade is forbidden, and human beings, i.e., girls destined to become prostitutes or “slave wives” in China.

Why is China building the wall? Its official explanation is that it wants to prevent illegal immigration from Myanmar to China. The prevailing explanation in the U.S. is that it wants to prevent dissidents from escaping China through the border with Myanmar. Both explanations are partially true—but only partially.

A barbed-wire fence built by China on its southern border with Myanmar.

China is not lying when it says it has a problem with Myanmar citizens trying to enter China. They are mostly refugees, fleeing the civil war. Contrary to international conventions on refugees, China had deported most of them back to Myanmar. The wall may prevent further embarrassment, leaving the potential asylum seekers where they are.

Claiming that “dissidents” also escape from China to Myanmar is not “American propaganda.” Bitter Winter has learned of persecuted Christians and members of other religions who took advantage of the porous border and went to Myanmar. There have been even Uyghurs who managed to go to Yunnan and then escape to Myanmar, and North Koreans who escaped to China and then to Myanmar by the same way.

Of course, they end up in regions controlled by pro-Chinese guerrillas, who may harass them or return them back to China. But they believe that control is somewhat less tight there than in China proper.

Local flourishing gambling houses and brothels.

There are other reasons for the wall, too. A contingent one is to control COVID-19, which could come back to China from Myanmar. Another is to prevent young Chinese from going to the border areas to take advantage of the local flourishing gambling houses and brothels.

However, there is another, hidden motivation for the wall, which was disclosed in an article published on November 27, 2020 on Toutiao, a news platform operated by ByteDance, the company owning the social networks TikTok and Douyin. Toutiao is a strongly nationalistic and pro-CCP website.

Some may dismiss the article as an individual opinion, but nothing that is not approved by the CCP would remain on Toutiao for long, and the text stayed and kept receiving favorable comments.

The article focuses on the Kachin, and argues that theirs is what a sociologist would call an “invented tradition,” created by American missionaries. Without the Americans, the author says, there would be no Kachin, just Chinese of the Jingpo ethnic group who happen to live in Myanmar.

American missionaries, the text claims, gave to Kachin their language, their identity, and even their name.

The U.S. reaped dividends when the Kachin fought with the Americans against the Japanese in World War II, the article explains. While this is true, the following claims, that the “Kachin Independence Army” (KIA) was created by Christians unhappy with Buddhism as Myanmar’s state religion, and that it is controlled by the CIA, is false.

Several KIA key leaders are Communist, with strong ties with China, although one should also consider that KIA has different wings and that espionage and the work of different intelligent agencies has been a feature of the area for decades.

Cadets of the Kachin Independence Army.

The ideological thesis of the article is that the U.S.—and “the Vatican”—are manipulating the Kachin to create an independent Kachin Christian State, and to export non-CCP-controlled Christianity into China. The wall is needed to prevent the smuggling of “Christianity”, not opium, jade, and prostitutes only.

This is certainly not the only explanation for the wall, but it is a factor. CCP paranoia about independent Christianity should never be underestimated.

In the Shan State, the United Wa State Army, which has close ideological and military ties with Beijing, has repeatedly expelled Protestant and Catholic priests and lay teachers from the area it controls, accusing them of being “American agents.”

Members of the United Wa State Army (UWSA).

Local Christians have confirmed that even worshiping in their homes is becoming dangerous, and that anti-Christian pamphlets written in typical CCP jargon have appeared in the area.

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Counterfeit China Goods

A magnifying glass is seen next to a logo of the Customs and Border Protection, Trade and Cargo Division at John F. Kennedy Airport’s US Postal Service facility on June 24, 2019 in New York. – In a windowless hangar at New York’s JFK airport, dozens of law enforcement officers sift through packages, looking for fentanyl — a drug that is killing Americans every day. The US Postal Service facility has become one of multiple fronts in the United States’ war on opioid addiction, which kills tens of thousands of people every year and ravages communities. (Photo by Johannes EISELE/AFP) via Getty Images)

During the pandemic, China sent millions of counterfeit “Masks” and “Test Kits” into US according to Customs Data.

China accounted for about 51 percent of “counterfeit” or substandard COVID-19-related products seized by U.S. customs officials from October 2019 to Sept. 30 last year, according to a newly-released report from the “U.S. Customs and Border Protection” (CBP).

Among the products seized by U.S. customs officials were over 12.7 million counterfeit masks, 177,356 COVID-19 “test kits” prohibited by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and 38,098 FDA-prohibited “chloroquine” tablets.

The effectiveness of the anti-malarial drug Hydroxychloroquine and its closely-related chloroquine in treating symptoms of COVID-19, which is caused by the CCP virus (commonly known as the novel coronavirus), is of much debate.

The FDA initially issued an emergency use authorization for the two drugs, but later revoked the authorization in June last year, saying that they were “unlikely to be effective in treating COVID-19.”

However, there have been studies showing their effectiveness: one study showed Hydroxychloroquine lowered the death rate of COVID-19 patients, while another study demonstrated a drug cocktail containing Hydroxychloroquine could lower the hospitalization and death rate of patients infected by the virus.

The FDA currently has a database listing fraudulent COVID-19 products, including test kits. The list contains company names and the names of their products.

In December last year, customs officials in Cincinnati seized 10,080 counterfeit “surgical masks”, which were labeled “3M Mask Model 1860,” in a shipment originating from China, according to a press release. The boxes containing the masks were fraudulently labeled as “Made in the USA.” If genuine, these fake 3M masks would have an estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $65,520.

“CBP officers in Cincinnati made a significant seizure of counterfeit masks that were packaged advertising protection against communicable respiratory diseases. Officers seized the 21 shipping boxes that contained over 10K counterfeit mask. https://t.co/L0x1I1qaXF  pic.twitter.com/2irnkDArZ6 — CBP Chicago (@CBPChicago) January 15, 2021

Counterfeit masks were also arriving in the United States from Hong Kong. Customs officials in Cincinnati seized 6,080 fake 3M masks in freight from Hong Kong on Dec. 6, 2020.

Another seizure took place in Chicago in September last year, when local customs officials stopped a shipment containing 500,000 counterfeit N95 masks. These masks were determined to have an estimated retail price of $474,905, if genuine. The shipment originated from the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen and was destined for a company in Manalapan, New Jersey.

The CBP report also mentioned that customs officials issued a record number of 13 new withhold release orders, banning the imports of products made with forced labor, in the 12-month period that ended on Sept. 30, 2020.

Most of these targeted products—including disposable gloves, seafood, and cotton—originated from China. Together, these products were valued at nearly $50 million, according to the report.

On January 13, the CBP issued a new withhold release order banning all imports of “cotton, apparel, textiles, and tomato products” from far-western China’s Xinjiang region.

Beijing has detained more than one million ethnic Muslims, including Uyghurs, Kazakh, and Kyrgyz people, in “internment camps” in Xinjiang. Detainees are subject to “forced labor, torture, and political indoctrination” sessions. Beijing claims these camps are “vocational training centers.”

In August last year, a U.S. company was fined $575,000 for importing stevia powder and derivatives there were made by “prison labor” in China.

Several months later, in October, CBP asked all U.S. ports to seize stevia products made by an Inner Mongolia-based company, after evidence showed the company used convict, forced, or indentured labor to manufacture the products.

“Currently, CBP is enforcing 44 active withhold release orders and seven active findings,” according to the report.

Finally, the report concluded that CBP officials seized a total of 26,503 shipments with products found to have violated U.S. intellectual property rights, with China being the “top source” of such seizures. These products would have a total estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price of over $1.3 billion.

A Chinese doctor shows the anti-impotence drug Viagra at a hospital in Shanghai. Viagra officially made its debut in mainland China 03 July and is now available by prescription in full-service Chinese hospitals for the retail price of 71 yuan (8.60 USD) for a 25mg-dose and 99 yuan (11.90 USD) for a 50mg-dose per tablet. In the Chinese market, Viagra, sold under the Chinese name of Wan Ai Ke, is being produced in a joint venture factory between Pfizer pharmaceutical and Dalian pharmaceutical in the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian. AFP PHOTO/LIU Jin via Getty Images)

“ICE, @CBP and LAPD seize counterfeit Viagra pills, footwear, belts, car emblems and headphones worth more than $32 million at the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport. https://t.co/cK9jWDw1mo pic.twitter.com/67QjuucuO2 — ICE (@ICEgov) December 17, 2020

In December last year, customs officials in Los Angeles seized three cargo shipments from China containing “counterfeit” products that could be worth over $32 million. Among the seized fake products were one million knockoff “Viagra pills, footwear, belts, purses, and headphones.”

Counterfeit “toys” from China that could be worth about $1.3 million were also seized at the Port of New York/Newark, the CBP announced on Dec. 21 last year.

US Customs Seizes Counterfeit Viagra Pills, Apparel, Makeup From China
US Company Fined for Importing Sweetener Allegedly Made by Chinese Prison Labor
Chinese Labor Camp Prisoner Who Wrote SOS Letter Escapes China
Desperate Chinese Prison Note Left in UK Socks Appears Real, Records Show
The Story Behind a Letter From Hell

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Boycott of Beijing 2022 Winter Games

Visitors to Chongli, one of the venues for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, pass by the Olympics logo in Chongli in Hebei Province.

A coalition of 180 rights groups called for a boycott of next year’s Beijing Winter Olympics tied to reported human rights abuses against ethnic minorities in China.

The games are to open in one year, on February 4, 2022, and are set to go forward despite the pandemic.

The coalition is composed of groups representing Tibetans, Uighurs, Inner Mongolians, residents of Hong Kong, and others.

The group has issued an open letter to governments calling for a boycott of the Olympics “to ensure they are not used to embolden the Chinese government’s appalling rights abuses and crackdowns on dissent.”

 Rights groups have previously asked the Switzerland-based “International Olympic Committee” to move the games from China. The IOC has largely ignored the demands and says it’s only a sporting body that does not get involved with politics.

The groups said because of the Ionics inaction “it now falls on governments to take a stand and demonstrate that they have the political will to push back against China’s reprehensible human rights abuses.”

Beijing hosted the 2008 Olympics, which it promised would improve human rights in the country. Instead, the groups say the prestige of the Olympics has led to “a gross increase on the assault on communities living under its rule.”

The situation of the Uighurs in northwestern China has received most of the attention. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated on his first day in office that he believed “genocide” was being committed against Xinjiang’s ethnic minorities.

China has brushed off the criticisms as interference in its internal affairs and politicization of sports. It has reacted strongly to charges of genocide. One Chinese official called it the “lie of the century.”

Since 2016, China has swept a million or more Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities into prisons and indoctrination camps that the state calls training centers, according to estimates by researchers and rights groups.

People have been subjected to “torture, sterilization, political indoctrination and forced labor” as part of an assimilation campaign, according to former residents and detainees, as well as experts and leaked government documents.

China at first “denied” the existence of the internment areas. It later acknowledged them, but denied any abuses and says the steps it has taken are necessary to combat terrorism and a separatist movement.

“The IOC refused to listen in 2008, defending its decision with claims that they would prove to be a catalyst for improved human rights,” the letter says.

As human rights experts predicted, this decision proved to be hugely misplaced; not only did China’s human rights record not improve but violations increased substantially without rebuke.

An ice sculpture of 2022 Winter Olympics mascot Bing Dwen Dwen and 2022 Winter Paralympics mascot Shuey Rhon Rhon is seen on Zhongyang Street (or Central Street) on December 28, 2020 in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province of China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Did Beijing Copy Disney’s ‘Let It Go’ for Its 2022 Winter Olympics Song Bid?
Republican Senators Introduce Resolution Urging for 2022 Winter Olympics to Be Moved out of China

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Fake Covid-19 Vaccines

A medical worker shows a syringe with the Sinovac Biotech vaccine against the COVID-19 coronavirus at a healthcare center in Yantai, in eastern China’s Shandong province on January 5, 2021. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Chinese authorities recently announced a “crackdown” on criminal rings involved in making “fake COVID-19 vaccines”, and revealed that some of the products were distributed to other countries.

Arrested suspects were accused of gaining illicit profits totaling around 18 million yuan (about $2.78 million).

As of Feb. 10, twenty-one vaccine-related cases were being investigated across the country, with 70 suspects arrested, according to a Feb. 15 report by Chinese state media Xinhua.

In the early stages of China’s vaccine rollout, the report said, suspects made huge profits through manufacturing fake vaccines, selling and reselling them at high prices, and inoculating groups without authorization.

Some of the Chinese-made fake vaccines were reportedly transported from Tianjin to Shenzhen, and then smuggled to other countries via Hong Kong. Xinhua did not specify which countries.

The criminal rings allegedly bought prefilled syringes or packaged saline solution or mineral water (when saline solution was out of stock) into fake vaccines. They then illegally set up emergency inoculation centers.

Suspects claimed that theirs were “genuine COVID-19 shots obtained through internal channels.”

They placed advertisements on social media to solicit customers. They also forged employee certificates, overseas job certificates, air tickets, and other supporting documents to appear like legitimate vaccine distributors.

In one case, suspects arranged for more than 200 people to receive about 500 doses of fake shots, making a profit of 547,000 yuan (about $84,695) as of December 2020.

Others profited from a scheme to arrange for citizens to get inoculated through emergency vaccination programs at hospitals. At the time, the Chinese regime only allowed high-risk populations to take the vaccine. The suspects charged money for people to have access to real vaccine shots.

Vaccine-related scandals are common in China. Lu Jun, co-founder of the nonprofit “Beijing Yirenping Center”, told Radio Free Asia that in China, officially-approved organizations are often involved in illegal activity.

“Either licensed manufacturers produced sub-standard vaccines, or governmental anti-epidemic agencies committed irregularities or even illegal operations in the process of vaccine procurement, distribution, and transportation,” Lu said.

He cited a scandal that erupted in 2010, after a pharmaceutical company in Shanxi Province was found to have produced sub-standard vaccines, leading to local deaths.

According to an investigation by state media “China Economic Times”, the company colluded with the Shanxi government to distribute the vaccines across the province.

Texas Nurse Re-Vaccinated After Video Appears to Show Fake Injection

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Beijing Bans BBC Broadcasts

BBC reports on Chinese internment camps in the western region of Xinjiang had drawn Beijing’s ire. Photo: AP

The Chinese government banned BBC from broadcasting on the Chinese mainland after the media outlet published stories about “human rights abuses” in China.

China’s National Radio and Television Administration said it rejected BBC’s broadcasting license for the next year due to “serious content violation” that “undermined China’s national interests and ethnic solidarity,” according to China Global Television Network (CGTN), an official regime mouthpiece.

CGTN accused the British broadcaster of spreading “disinformation and explicit propaganda” about China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims, the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, and other hot button issues.

“BBC’s only mission has turned to wage information war on China,” CGTN said. “When attacked, China defends itself. A news organization shouldn’t operate on a hard-line political agenda. An agency that does has no place, no right, no integrity to continue reporting in China.”

The BBC most recently published a bombshell report on the “systematic rape” of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang camps, provoking the Chinese government into demanding an apology.

It remains unclear whether the broadcasting ban will place restrictions on BBC journalists’ ability to conduct reporting in China.  The Chinese government has frequently imposed sanctions on Western journalists who publish unflattering stories about China.

When the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed critical of China’s pandemic response in early 2020, Beijing responded by expelling three reporters working for the Journal.

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Software to Identify Uighurs

Chinese telecommunications giant “Huawei” has tested surveillance and facial-recognition software that would alert Chinese authorities when it “identifies” Uighur Muslims.

The company worked with Chinese tech startup Megvii in 2018 to test surveillance equipment capable of identifying Chinese citizens from a crowd by their “sex, age, and ethnicity.” 

According to a document signed by Huawei officials and obtained by the Washington Post. When the software identifies Uighur Muslims, according to the document, it could send alerts or flag the citizens for investigation by Chinese authorities.

The document was scrubbed from Huawei’s website soon after the Post asked for comment.

Chinese labor camp in Xinjiang region.

The surveillance technology is just one element of a larger crackdown on the religious and political freedoms of Uighurs in China. Millions of Uighurs are held in “work camps” in western China, where they are often subjected to population control, brutal work conditions, and forced renunciation of their faith.

Senate Republicans have called on Washington to designate China’s treatment of Uighurs as a genocide.

Chinese surveillance systems remain a major concern for policymakers, especially those made by Huawei. China is also developing a new social credit system using surveillance technology that would limit political and economic opportunity for certain citizens.

While the State Department has taken a hard line against Chinese technology through efforts such as the Clean Network and has lobbied Europe to limit Huawei’s 5G plans there, American investors have had less success in divorcing themselves from Chinese capital.

Workers walk by the perimeter fence of what is officially known as a vocational skills education center in the Xinjiang region

By some estimates over $1 trillion in U.S. funds are currently invested in China, including in Chinese tech firms that cooperate with the Chinese government in suppressing human freedoms.

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Filed under chinese culture, workplace insights