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Links 1 through 10 of 24 by David Bandurski tagged democracy

The official China News Service reports today that Chinese President Hu Jintao will visit Hong Kong on July 1 to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the territory's return to Chinese sovereignty. The visit will be Hu Jintao's third to Hong Kong, China News Service reported. Hu's first visit to the territory was on June 29, 1997. Activists in Hong Kong have said they hope to use Hu Jintao's presence for the anniversary celebrations to voice their anger over human rights abuses in China, including the suspicious death of Tiananmen activist Li Wangyang earlier this month, and what many see as a deteriorating rights situation in Hong Kong (http://bit.ly/L5065w).

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In an interview published by China Economic Weekly, a spin-off publication of the CCP's official People's Daily, Chinese economist Wu Jinglian (吴敬琏) argues that China must pursue political reform in order to have continued economic success. In the interview, promoted to the news page at QQ.com today, Wu says: "Aside from economic reform, the urgent task is to remove interference by special interests, renewing the reform agenda -- pushing forward with economic reforms through marketization (市场化的经济改革) and political reform through democratization and rule of law."

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In recent days, popular blogger and social critic Han Han (韩寒) has been the center of controversy in China after a blogger called Mai Tian (麦田) alleged that many of Han's writings were penned by others, including Han's father. In a blog post earlier this week, Han Han denied the allegations, challenging his accusers to present evidence: "If anyone can prove these ghostwriting allegations, I'll gladly award them 20 million yuan. I'll stop all writing and transfer all copyrights for my previous works to my accusers." In The Beijing News today, Chen Xiwo (陈希我) comes to the defense of Han Han by addressing related accusations that his image has been massaged by a team of consultants. Chen's response: so what? Is there anything wrong with a celebrity getting help with their own packaging?
http://view.news.qq.com/a/20120118/000025.htm

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Two opinion pieces do not make for a trend, but it is interesting to not that the Chinese-language Global Times newspaper, which has a reputation for conservatism and nationalistic saber-rattling, has recently run pieces by both Peng Xiaoyun (彭晓芸) and Guo Yukuan (郭于宽) -- veteran journalists at the liberal end of China's political spectrum. In an opinion piece in the Global Times today, Peng writes about the potential of microblogs in China as a platform allowing for greater discussion of public affairs, a necessary preparation of the public for democratic reforms. The headline of Peng's piece at QQ.com reads: "Let Public Debate Become an Exercise for Democracy."

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A number of Chinese journalists report on one of China's leading domestic Twitter-like microblog services that the Central Propaganda Department has formally banned traditional media from reporting on citizens who will stand independently in a number of local district people's congress elections across the country. This issue has drawn widespread attention on the internet and social networks in recent days. 

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Guangzhou's Southern Metropolis Daily has posted a video on its Sina Microblog page of a Hangzhou citizen who has submitted himself as a candidate for a local district people's congress position. In the video, the candidate explains that he was born in 1984 and has been actively maintaining a blog for years and following social issues and public affairs. He says he will be "a people's congress delegate who voters all recognize and can find at any time." A Southern Metropolis Daily story on the candidate can be found here: http://bit.ly/kANe9i

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The news in the media and online that local high school student Liu Ruoxi (刘若曦) has announced his candidacy for a people's congress post in the southern city of Shenzhen has stirred up a wave of discussion in recent days in China. Responding to questions about the legality of Liu's participation, an official with the Shenzhen People's Congress said on May 31 that nomination by 10 people within one's district was sufficient qualification for candidacy. Over the past week, the independent participation of a scores of ordinary citizens in district people's congress elections has captured the attention of people across China, and the issue has been hotly discussed on social media. Competing for the same seat as Liu Ruoxi in Shenzhen are lawyer Zhang Xiang (张翔), lawyer Li Zhiyong (李志勇) and web user Luo Zhiyuan (罗志渊).

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An editorial from the Global Times, re-printed in the Beijing Evening News and other papers yesterday, argued again the Western governments were politicizing the pending case against artist Ai Weiwei (艾未未) for "economic crimes." The editorial concluded: "The Ai Weiwei case is a big deal for Ai Weiwei in his own life, and out of personal sympathy for him we hope he can get through this. From the perspective of the whole society, we are confident that this is not possibly a big deal for China. Regardless of the result of the Ai Weiwei case, China will move forward, and society will quickly forget this matter."

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Chinese coverage of events in Libya today once again focuses on the evacuation of Chinese citizens from the country, but another piece posted prominently at major web portals comes from Xinhua's Cankao Xiaoxi, and sharply criticizes the alleged role of the US government in political change in the Middle East. The piece begins: "Dramatic changes in the Arab world in recent weeks once more show that America has no scruples about interfering with the internal politics of sovereign nations . . . Britain's Telegraph newspaper says that America has secretly supported dissidents in Egypt, and three years ago [these dissidents] pledged to Washington that they would organize a 'change of political power' in 2011." A sloppy piece of news, the Telegraph piece cited by Cankao Xiaoxi was written by three reporters, none of whom apparently bothered to read the "secret" cables on which the report is based -- routine exchanges with an activist which in no way suggest a conspiracy.

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Chinese media coverage today of the unfolding crisis in Libya, dominated by news material from the official Xinhua News Agency and China Central Television, deals exclusively with the evacuation of Chinese citizens from the country. A search of recent news coverage through QQ and Sina reveals that the vast majority of coverage in recent days has dealt with the threat to Chinese citizens in Libya and their evacuation. An article in yesterday's Beijing Times (http://bit.ly/e9Rpi3), a commercial spin-off of the official People's Daily, relied on Reuters material to relate Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi's message of defiance, but included no other material on anti-government protests. The article included two others sections, one of the impact on oil prices, the second on the United Nations response. The latter section mentioned only that the Security Council "held a closed-door session" -- no mention was made of the unanimous condemnation of violence that came out of that session.

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