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China Reform Monitor - No. 1288

Tight security planned for Xi's trip to Hong Kong;
Chinese copper mine project in Afghanistan still on hold

Edited by Joshua Eisenman
June 14, 2017

May 2:

New media platforms including live streams and smartphone apps must obtain licenses before they can provide news and information service, according to proposed reforms to China's media regulations. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has also proposed banning private companies and individuals from funding online news services. "Public-funded entities or state-owned media organizations can better present China to the world as they have better understanding about the country's society, politics and culture," Luo Ping at Communication University of China. Private capital has produced "uneven quality of reporting,"
the official Global Times reports. "Due to ideological differences, news about China reported by news organizations funded by foreign capital or Sino-foreign joint ventures may be misleading."

May 4:

More than a third of the Hong Kong Police Force, over 10,000 officers, will be deployed around the clock to protect President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders during their three-day visit next month to mark the 20th anniversary of the city's return to Chinese sovereignty,
the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports. The deployment, which is the biggest police operation since the 1997 handover, will include officers from the Special Duties Unit, the VIP Protection Unit, and the Counter ¬Terrorism and Internal Security Division. The Special Duties Unit will operate a police helicopter to offer aerial protection along the motorcade routes. Xi will swear in Hong Kong's next chief executive, Carrie Lam, on July 1 and review the local People's Liberation Army garrison. Snipers will be stationed on the roofs of buildings around the leaders' hotel and huge plastic ¬barriers filled with water will be erected outside the hotel to ¬prevent car bomb attacks.

May 9:

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) has accused Beijing of using "unilateral political reasons" to exert pressure on the World Health Organization (WHO) and block it from extending an invitation to Taiwan to attend this year's World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva this month. The MAC, the agency in Taiwan that coordinates China policy, said Beijing has been obstructing Taipei's efforts to participate in the International Civil Aviation Organization and the WHA to achieve its political objective to isolate the self-governing island,
Taipei's official Central News Agency reports. "We will never succumb to Beijing's pressure but will continue to make our voice heard in the international community and fight for our right to participate in the WHA and other international organizations," the MAC said.

[Editor's Note: Taiwan first attended the WHA meeting as an observer in 2009, a year after the government of former President Ma Ying-jeou came to power and pursued a more conciliatory policy towards Beijing. Beijing seeks to clamp down on Taiwan's international participation, a strategy that has become more aggressive since Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progress Policy took power last year.]

May 13:

Afghanistan's Ambassador to China, Janan Mosazai, said there is still hope that China Metallurgical Group Corp (MCC) would implement the $3 billion 30-year lease agreement for the Mes Aynak copper mine 40 kilometers southeast of Kabul. The project, jointly awarded in 2007 to MCC and Jiangxi Copper, was the largest foreign investment deal Afghanistan at the time. The contract committed MCC to build a railway line from the mine to one of Afghanistan's borders,
SCMP reports. "Without a railway line, you cannot transport natural resources because they are too heavy. That was one of the main reasons why the Afghan government at that time awarded the copper mine contract to MCC." He said the Afghan government had done its part, including providing full security for the mining operation and preserving and relocating archaeological sites in the area. Ten years have passed, however, and the copper has yet to be mined. Last month, the MCC executive who was in charge of the 2007 deal was expelled from the Communist Party for corruption in an unrelated deal.

[Editor's Note: Afghanistan is counting on China, its largest investor, to help revive an economy broken by years of war. In 2011, China National Petroleum Corp. was jointly awarded a major contract with an Afghan company to develop oil wells in northern Afghanistan. This year China Road and Bridge Corp. signed a $205 million deal to build a 187 kilometer road in central Afghanistan.]

May 14:

In Hong Kong a Chinese smartphone application which filters unwanted phone calls has been secretly uploading personal data of users - including those of city officials - to a public directory. The app, DU Caller, developed by DU Group, a subsidiary of Baidu, was initially for users to blacklist nuisance callers and filter them out. Once downloaded and installed, however, the app would automatically gather sensitive information such as the addresses and phone numbers. Then a "reverse look-up" feature allowed users to find contacts of the two billion phone numbers stored in Baidu's Beijing server by simply entering a name or organization. Information released included the contact information of Hong Kong's Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok, police chief Stephen Lo Wai-chung, and officials from the Beijing liaison office. The phone number of Hong Kong's Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Stephen Wong Kai-yi, was also released. Wong said that the developer of DU Caller might have breached the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance, although the portion of the ordinance which prohibits the transfer of personal data to a place outside Hong Kong, has not come into force meaning cross-border transmissions are exempted,
SCMP reports

Related Categories: China; China and East Asia Program

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