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China Reform Monitor - No. 1307

Kung fu meets government regulation;
In Beijing, fears of Western cultural penetration

Edited by Joshua Eisenman
November 22, 2017

October 21:

Chinese cities are using facial recognition software in numerous industries,
the Hong Kong Free Press reports. China has more than 176 million surveillance cameras currently in operation. In Shanghai, a government initiative uses facial recognition to help identify people on the streets — primarily the elderly and mentally ill — and reunite them with their families. Jaywalkers at some Shanghai intersections have their images flashed up on a screen and must pay a fine of 20 yuan to remove it. The Temple of Heaven in Beijing has installed facial recognition at lavatories to catch toilet-paper thieves. If someone returns too soon for more paper, the machine recognizes and rejects them. Beijing Normal University installed facial scanners to ensure only students enter dormitories and "help monitor the students' whereabouts," the official Xinhua news agency reports. Banks are using facial recognition instead of cards, China Southern Airlines is doing away with boarding passes in favor of facial recognition, and some KFCs have introduced a "Smile to Pay" system so customers can pay via a face-recognition system linked to Alibaba's Alipay.

November 4:

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je said his city is looking to set up a liaison office in China to serve Taipei residents,
Focus Taiwan reports. "If the plan works out, the most likely location would be in Shenzhen where a lot of our Taipei expatriates are living," Ko said. A Taipei office in Shenzhen would also help to promote business ties between the two cities, he said. New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu has also expressed a desire to open a city office on the mainland. In response, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) issued a statement that the decision on whether to establish a liaison office is not up to the local governments, but rather falls under the jurisdiction of the MAC, which is responsible for cross-Taiwan Strait affairs. The MAC said such offices would constitute an extension of government authority in mainland China, and that it would further discuss the issue with the two city governments in order to help Taiwanese living in China.

November 8:

Xinzheng International Airport in Zhengzhou, Henan, has deployed "a facial recognition system...for security checks. The system takes a picture of each passenger and compares it with the national ID card database. The process takes just two seconds per person,"
the official Xinhua reports.

November 10:

China's top sporting authority, the General Administration of Sport, has banned kung fu practitioners from organizing unauthorized fights, calling themselves "grandmasters" and creating new styles,
reports the South China Morning Post. The directive bans eight styles and said practitioners should "build correct values about martial arts," and avoid "creating one's own style, organizing a fight without a permit, malicious attacks, slandering or discriminating against others." The directive also warned against accepting apprentices, making inappropriate remarks, creating and spreading rumors, and fabricating certificates for athletes, coaches and judges. "It's very difficult to carry out these bans. There's no legal clause...and it's still unclear who is to supervise this and impose the punishment," said Gong Maofu at the Chengdu Sport Institute.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: The new regulations were likely prompted by the humiliating defeat of a tai chi master by a mixed martial artist in April. Many questioned the merits of traditional martial arts after the fight, in which Wei Lei, the founder of "thunder style" tai chi, was defeated within 10 seconds by Xu Xiaodong, an MMA fighter. Xu, who is known for being provocative, described traditional martial arts as a "farce." Wei, who was described by state media as one of China's greatest tai chi masters, said he took the fight because Xu had insulted tai chi and "cursed at the ancestors." Now many internet users claim that Wei was too weak to represent Chinese kung fu and Xu's microblogging account was deactivated,
the official Beijing News reports.]

November 17:

Western countries are pushing their culture and political values onto others, seducing them into abandoning their own, China's propaganda chief Huang Kunming
warned in the official People's Daily. Amid an intensifying "surge and collision" in the world between different values, China must follow its own path. "There are especially some Western countries who use their technological advantages and dominance of discourse that they have accumulated over a long period to peddle so-called 'universal values,'" he wrote. Such countries, which Huang did not name, "are trying to seduce people into 'beautifying the West' and 'being compliant with the West,' weakening or even abandoning their identification with their own spiritual culture." Only by promoting core socialist values can the Chinese people stand tall in the "forest of the world's people."

Related Categories: China; China and East Asia Program

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