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China Reform Monitor - No. 1328

Sina ban sparks social outrage;
Beijing eyes the Solomons

Edited by Joshua Eisenman
May 23, 2018

April 13:

More than nine million Chinese citizens have been denied air transportation and over three million have been prohibited from buying train tickets due to their poor credit,
the official Global Times reports. China started establishing a social credit system in 2014, and an open national credit information online platform is now place so poor credit performers can be blacklisted.

April 15:

Sina Weibo has reversed a ban on online content "related to homosexuality" after outcry from the country's internet users,
reports The Guardian. Sina Weibo originally said that for the next three months it would be removing comics and videos "with pornographic implications, promoting bloody violence, or related to homosexuality." According to the company, the initiative was part of an effort to "create a sunny and harmonious community environment" in compliance with the country’s cybersecurity laws. In response, Weibo users posted photos with their partners, comments, and rainbow emojis, accompanied by the hashtags #iamgay and #iamgaynotapervert. China decriminalized homosexuality in 1997 and in 2001 removed it from the government's list of mental disorders. Weibo censors began deleting posts and blocking searches related to the ban over the weekend, but Weibo users persisted. One wrote: "You don’t allow me to speak, so you think I will just shut up? You delete my post, and you think I won’t post another? Every time you delete, we will start again."

April 21:

"Without web security there's no national security, there's no economic and social stability, and it's difficult to ensure the interests of the broader masses. We cannot let the internet become a platform for disseminating harmful information and stirring up trouble with rumors," Communist Party Chairman Xi Jinping told a cyber security conference in Beijing. Under Xi, China’s regulators have conducted a sweeping crackdown on media content, spreading a chill among content makers and distributors. Concerned about losing influence and control, China has increasingly tightened its grip on a younger generation who is driving a diverse and vibrant online culture from livestreaming to blogs. Beijing is seeking a leading role globally in internet regulation and technology,
Reuters reports.

April 23:

A group of hackers controlled by Beijing, known as APT 10, are targeting Japan's defense and healthcare companies,
the South China Morning Post reports. The China-based espionage group used a lecture given by former head of Unesco, Koichiro Matsuura as bait to launch two "spear-phishing" email attacks between September and October 2017. One motive behind the intrusion is "gaining insider information on policy prescription to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue. We believe APT 10 is primarily tasked with collecting critical information in response to shifts in regional geopolitics and frequently targets organizations with long research and development cycles," said Bryce Boland of cybersecurity firm FireEye.

May 1:

Chinese investors are building a tourism hub on Guadalcanal, the main island in the Solomon Islands. Politicians from the small Pacific nation and Chinese-Australian business interests approached investors in Guangzhou to build a new airport and a new shopping district there. Several rounds of talks have been held about the projects to date. The deal is being negotiated by Guadalcanal Premier Anthony Veke and Mines Minister Bradley Tovosia. Veke’s social media posts show several trips to China to meet investors. "The project is still at its early stage. Information will be available to the media once everything is finalized,"
he told The Australian.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Closer ties between the Solomon Islands and China are noteworthy since the country is one of six Pacific nations that recognize the Republic of China – that is, Taiwan. Australia, for its part, is increasingly concerned about China’s investments in the region. Earlier this year, the Turnbull government paid $100 million to construct an underwater internet cable connecting the Solomon Islands with Sydney, in order to prevent China’s Huawei from building such a link.]

Related Categories: China; China and East Asia Program

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