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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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Filed under: China
June 5th, 2014
02:34 PM ET

Liu Xiaobo's "June Fourth Elegies"

Before his arrest in 2009, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo would write a poem every year to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.

The poems have been translated into English by Jeffrey Yang and published in the compilation, "June Fourth Elegies."

I talked to Yang about Liu Xiaobo's poetry, and the power of poetry to remember an event that has been publicly erased in China.

June 5th, 2014
02:18 PM ET

Inside Hong Kong's June 4 Museum

In an unassuming office building in Hong Kong, is the world's first museum dedicated to the Tiananmen crackdown of 1989.

Let's go inside.

May 14th, 2014
06:54 AM ET

What is needed to stop torture?

It has been 30 years since the United Nations adopted the Convention Against Torture, which commits all governments to combating the abuse.

And yet, torture remains widespread across Asia.

Amnesty International reports there are at least 23 Asia-Pacific countries still carrying out acts of torture. It adds that the true number is likely to be higher.

The human rights group says China and North Korea are among the worst offenders.

Torture is also used to force confessions or silence activists in other countries in the region including India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

What is needed to finally stop torture?

I posed that question to Roseann Rife, East Asia Research Director of Amnesty International. Click on to hear her thoughts on what can finally end the brutal practice.

May 8th, 2014
01:59 PM ET

Weighing in on the Alibaba IPO

Alibaba has filed its IPO in New York to raise $1 billion, but former Alibaba CEO David Wei is confident it will raise even more than Facebook's $16 billion bonanza.

Though many anticipate a blockbuster IPO, industry watchers also expect significant challenges ahead for the Chinese e-commerce giant.

How will Alibaba address concerns about the amount of counterfeit goods sold by its users - concerns that prompted Wei to resign after a fraud inquiry in 2011?

And how will Alibaba manage the shift to mobile, especially given the threat from Tencent's WeChat - the Chinese mobile app already on its way to becoming a global brand?

Click on for my conversation with China tech investor and former Alibaba CEO, David Wei.

(His catchphrase to describe founder Jack Ma may raise an eyebrow!)

February 26th, 2014
02:20 PM ET

Outrage in Hong Kong after editor attack

There is shock and outrage in Hong Kong after the brutal stabbing of a veteran newspaper editor.

Kevin Lau, a journalist in Hong Kong known for his tough reporting on China, is fighting for his life after a knife attack by an unknown assailant.

Last month, Lau was sacked as the editor of the Ming Pao newspaper, stirring public outcry about press freedom in Hong Kong.

Many of Lau's supporters feared his departure reflected Beijing's efforts to limit press freedom and influence independent media in semi-autonomous Hong Kong.

After the knife attack, Hong Kong Chief Executive C.Y. Leung was quick to condemn the violence.

Meanwhile, journalists are stunned that such an attack would take place in Hong Kong - an international media hub that has supported free reporting across the political spectrum.

Click on to hear the concerned reaction from journalist Tara Joseph, the President of the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Hong Kong.

January 29th, 2014
02:04 PM ET

Beijing ups the pressure on foreign media

Just last month in Beijing, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden lamented the lack of press freedom in China.

Despite such high-profile criticism, Beijing has increased its pressure on foreign correspondents in China.

China is refusing to renew a visa for New York Times reporter Austin Ramzy, the second Times reporter in 13 months to be forced out of the country.

It follows what the paper says is "the latest sign of official displeasure" with their 2012 report on the vast wealth of then-premier Wen Jiabao's family.

Is the visa holdup payback for critical coverage of China's political elite?

"It will certainly feed suspicion that it's retribution for the content of their coverage," says Peter Ford, President of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China and Beijing Bureau Chief for the Christian Science Monitor.

For more on the various ways China is putting the pressure on foreign correspondents, watch the video report above.

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