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October 24th, 2014
02:41 PM ET

Watch Mark Zuckerberg speak Chinese

In case you missed it, here's Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaking Mandarin Chinese at Beijing's Tsinghua University.

Zuckerberg surprised the audience by speaking and answering questions in Mandarin for almost 30-minutes.

His heavy accent caused a few moments of misunderstanding - like when he tried to say the word "billion" but it came out as "eleven."

But no matter. It was an inspiring effort!

October 23rd, 2014
06:51 AM ET

Anson Chan's message to Beijing

For four weeks now, pro-democracy demonstrators have blocked major roads and highways in Hong Kong.

It's a sight that's become the new normal in a city known as a hyper-efficient financial hub.

Parts of the central business district have transformed into a tent city - a hotbed of political activism while both sides refuse to back down.

The protesters want true universal suffrage. They don't want Beijing to vet who can stand in Hong Kong's next leadership election.

But Chinese authorities say there is no way Beijing will take back its decision on 2017 elections.

That’s not acceptable for former Chief Secretary of Hong Kong, Anson Chan.

"We need a new chief executive who at long last will stand up for Hong Kong’s best interests,” she says.

Anson Chan was the second in command in Hong Kong's colonial government and after the handover. In recent years, she's taken a high-profile role in the campaign for universal suffrage.

I spoke to Chan about the way forward for Hong Kong and passing the torch of democracy to a new generation.

She also has this message for China:

"I would like to say to Beijing - trust the people of Hong Kong, trust our young protest leaders. They are our future, and use Hong Kong as a testing ground for introducing full democracy."

Click on for the full interview.

October 2nd, 2014
03:25 PM ET

Is Hong Kong playing chicken with China?

Hong Kong is in a standoff with Beijing. It’s a fight ostensibly about universal suffrage. But in some ways, it’s also a litmus test for financial freedoms under President Xi Jinping.

Right now, Hong Kong is governed by a “one country, two systems” charter mandating that until the year 2047, the territory will remain a capitalist economy - with a good deal of political autonomy.

The tens of thousands of protesters taking to the streets this week are banking on Hong Kong’s financial leverage over the world’s second largest economy. But the unspoken worry is that Hong Kong just isn’t as important to China as it used to be.

FULL POST

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September 3rd, 2014
06:57 AM ET

The rise of Xiaomi

Executives in wigs dancing and singing on stage. Hundreds of fans clad in the same orange shirt cheering them on. Fans racing on stage to win plush toys.

I wasn't sure what to expect from my first Xiaomi fan event. But I didn't expect this.

FULL POST

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Filed under: China • Technology • Titans of Tech
September 2nd, 2014
10:57 AM ET

China's propaganda war in Hong Kong

These are highly charged political times here in Hong Kong.

Beijing announced on Sunday there would be no open elections in Hong Kong, paving the way for China to remain the political power over the territory.

During this time of intense political discord, a gripping image from 1967 is a reminder of the fraught relationship between Hong Kong and Beijing.

It's a Chinese propaganda poster issued during the Leftist riots to stir people in Hong Kong rise up against British rule.

leftistriots

Recently on display at Hong Kong's Picture This Gallery, the poster depicts an angry, muscular crowd wielding placards and other objects as weapons.

In the bottom left-hand corner, weak cartoonish figures depicting the colonial government are being beaten and kicked out by the crowds.

"This was produced in China, probably smuggled into Hong Kong and used to try to rally support among patriotic Chinese living in Hong Kong," Bailey tells me.

The poster was part of an exhibition of Chinese propaganda that include a Norman Rockwell-esque public service announcement and a red balloon-strewn commemorative poster of Deng Xiaoping and the Hong Kong handover.

Bailey says the 1967 Hong Kong posters generated the most interest in his gallery and will find a new home in a museum.

Take a tour of these Chinese propaganda posters with the video above.

August 5th, 2014
01:58 PM ET

Shadows over U.S.-Africa summit

It is indeed an historic occasion.

U.S. President Barack Obama is hosting the first-ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington.

But the leaders of Sierra Leone and Liberia are not there. They have opted to stay at home to battle the worst Ebola outbreak on record.

"The timing is very unfortunate, and no one would have wished for this," author and academic Howard French tells me.

"Having high-level discussions between the U.S. and Africa on business and investment are infrequent. So to the extent that this distracts from that I think will be regretted all around."

The summit is a much-needed opportunity for the U.S. to reset relations and economically engage with Africa.

"Africa is in a very particular moment, economically speaking," says French. "The continent has been growing very fast. Demographically, there's a bulge in terms of its youth population. And Africa needs partnerships."

Africa's biggest trading partner is China. It has invested deeply into Africa as a source of customers, natural resources, and jobs.

Howard French refers to Africa as "China's Second Continent" as more than a million Chinese citizens have permanently moved there.

But will China's engagement with Africa lead to prosperity or exploitation?

Click on to hear more from our wide-ranging conversation on what's at stake for U.S.-Africa relations in light of the Ebola outbreak and China's head start in the region.

July 3rd, 2014
07:21 AM ET

China's last women with "lotus feet"

Since 2005, Hong Kong-based photographer Jo Farrell has been on a mission to document China's last women with bound feet.

It was a symbol of beauty and social status that began in the Song dynasty but officially banned over a hundred years ago. But the practice continued in rural areas for a few years after the ban.

Farrell has spent a decade traveling to China’s Shandong and Yunnan provinces to forge a close relationship with 50 of China’s last women with bound feet.

Those women are now in their 80s and 90s. In this video, we discuss the brutal practice of foot binding and Farrell's sense of urgency to share her portraits of their "lotus feet."

June 12th, 2014
02:38 PM ET

Beijing to Hong Kong: We call the shots

Since the handover in 1997, Hong Kong has been ruled under the governing principle of "one country, two systems."

But a white paper issued this week by China's State Council Information office is trying to set the record straight, emphasizing Beijing's "comprehensive jurisdiction" over the territory.

The white paper puts forward the view that some Hong Kong residents are "confused or lopsided in their understanding" of the principle.

It says, "The high degree of autonomy of the HKSAR (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) is not full autonomy, nor a decentralized power. It is the power to run local affairs as authorized by the central leadership."

Political columnist and commentator Frank Ching calls the paper a clear warning to Hong Kong, pointing out a line about Beijing's right to declare a state of emergency in Hong Kong.

"If they declare a state of emergency, that means the People's Liberation Army can come in and take over the job of Hong Kong police."

He adds, "That would be the end of Hong Kong as we know it today."

Ching also makes an interesting observation about why the paper was released in seven languages.

"It's warning foreign countries not to use Hong Kong as a base for subversion."

June 6th, 2014
12:07 PM ET

Bullets in Beijing: Tiananmen leader Shen Tong looks back

Shen Tong is a Chinese dissident who helped lead the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

Ahead of the 25th anniversary of the crackdown, I asked him about his experience during the demonstrations, and the chilling moment when he realized troops were not shooting rubber bullets.

We also talked about a lack of awareness in China about what happened back then.

"It seems like there is a collective amnesia not only due to the lack of information but also due to at least this tacit agreement between the post-'89 police state and the urban population," he tells me via satellite from New York.

"'Let’s forget about the past and why rock the boat' because there are several groups of elite populations, not just in China, that are making so much money so quickly."

But Shen is certain that the collective amnesia concerning Tiananmen will inevitably lift.

"There are plenty of indications that collective memory, so important to the national psyche, cannot be forgotten," says Shen.

"So even though a lot young people don’t know the details... those memories can come back very quickly as we’ve seen time and again in history."

June 6th, 2014
10:07 AM ET

"Tank Man" and other Tiananmen memories

To many people, it's the defining image of the Tiananmen crackdown: a single man staring down a line of tanks.

"Tank Man" photographer Jeff Widener recalls what it took to capture that moment.

"I had to get a bicycle and go all the way down past soldiers and tanks and sporadic gunfire in the distance," Widener says. "And then you had to get past secret police, who were using electric cattle prods on the journalists if they didn't give up their supplies."

Of course, getting the photo out to the world was also extremely difficult. Click here to find out how he did it.

Widener also remembers the sense of hope among those student protesters in 1989.

"What struck me as something very dramatic was the building of the Goddess of Democracy," he says. "Because there you have the symbol of freedom, which is basically a duplication of the Statue of Liberty. And that is facing right across the street from the Mao portrait at the Forbidden City."

But, Widener adds, that he and other journalists wondered how long it would be until the Chinese government refused to tolerate the face-off any more.

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