Boing Boing 

China City of America coming to the Catskills?

Chinacity6n 6 web

Chinese developers are vying to build a massive China-themed retail center and casino in New York's Catskills. The 600-acre project is called "China City of America" and, surprise, it's highly controversial. I think it might do better in the hometown of hyperreality, Las Vegas! You can see the pitch at the China City of America site and read about it below:

"Developers pitch bringing a piece of China to Sullivan County" (YNN)

"Mysterious China-themed 'city' proposed in New York’s Catskills" (Fox News, thanks Bob Pescovitz!)

China launches lunar probe

The China National Space Administration has launched Chang'e 3, a plutonium-powered lunar lander on-board a 185-foot-tall Long March 3B rocket. The lander is on a four-day trajectory for the lunar surface, and will brake and enter lunar orbit on December 6th. It is scheduled to land on December 14th, in the Bay of Rainbows (Sinus Iridum). The rover masses 140kg, with nuclear heaters to keep systems alive during the two-week-long lunar nights, and will use radar to probe the lunascape as it roves during its mission. It is also outfitted with high-resolution panoramic cameras and telescopes. The Chinese space program's stated goal is to establish a space-station and autonomous landers that can return to Earth with samples.

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What is China censoring today?

According to a recent study by ProPublica, images insta-censored on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo include pics of corrupt politician Bo Xilai yawning, archive images of the Korean war, and the lead singer of underground rock group Happy Avenue. [BBC]

Letter from a Chinese forced-labor camp found in Kmart Hallowe'en decorations


Since last Hallowe'en, a woman in Oregon has been circulating a letter she found in a box of decorative tombstones she bought at Kmart. The letter was written by a prisoner in a forced labor camp in China's Masanjia camp; he was imprisoned for practicing Falun Gong, a banned religion whose members have long been targetted for brutal suppression by the Chinese state. CNN located the ex-prisoner and interviewed him as he narrated a story of "inhumane torture" at the camp.

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Blue sky billboard in smoggy Beijing


Reddit user D3cker posted this amazing photo of an electronic billboard showing a gorgeous blue sky in a smoggy Beijing square. No idea if the photo is original to D3cker or whether it's been shooped, but it's pretty sweet contrast, and plays neatly into the China-is-collapsing narrative.

Beijing Tv Sky.


Update: In the comments, m1ck3y posts, "The picture is real—it's from the Atlantic Magazine article China's Toxic City. This particular photo eerily looks like a screencap from Blade Runner."

(Image: China's Toxic Sky, Feng Li/Getty Images)

Explaining the banned phrases in a Chinese microblogging client

LINE is a Twitter-like service chat app popular in Asia. @hirakujira discovered that its Chinese-language client, Lianwo, had a file listing 24 150 forbidden phrases that set to trigger an error reading "Your message contains sensitive words, please adjust and send again" (though this was not yet enabled). The Blocked on Weibo Tumblr has begun a series of posts listing every one of these banned phrases and explaining their context -- for example, Zhejiang’s receipt-signing Brother (浙江签单哥) refers to an embezzlement scandal involving Zhejiang's Vice Minister of Propaganda.

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Huawei: unlike western companies, we've never been told to weaken our security

Huawei, the Chinese electronics giant that was accused of being "a security risk" in a paper by the House Intelligence Committee (its chair, Mike Rogers [R-MI], said "find another vendor if you care about your intellectual property, if you care about your consumers' privacy, and you care about the national security of the United States of America") has come out swinging in a new cybersecurity paper.

In the paper's foreword, the company's deputy chair Ken Hu writes:

[Huawei] never received any instructions or requests from any government or their agencies to change our positions, policies, procedures, hardware, software or employment practices or anything else, other than suggestions to improve our end-to-end cyber security capability.

“We can confirm that we have never been asked to provide access to our technology, or provide any data or information on any citizen or organization to any Government, or their agencies."

Unlike the companies that were on the target of the NSA and GCHQ's BULLRUN/EDGEHILL programs, which spent $250,000,000 a year to subvert security standards, and to convince western electronics companies to sabotage their own security.

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Products of Rome, 3d Century Chinese edition

Here's John E. Hill's translation of "The Peoples of the West," Yu Huan's third century account of ancient Rome. Of significant interest is the list of items the Roman Emperor has in plenty, which includes "divine tortoises" "poison-avoiding rats" and many other wonders.

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Chinese tourists with room full of Euro coins weren't counterfeiters; they got 'em from scrap cars

A hotelier in Paris called the cops on a pair of Chinese guests who were paying their bills nightly with Euro coins and who had 3,700 more in their rooms. He thought they were counterfeiters. It turned out that they were friends with a Chinese car-scrapper who had harvested forgotten coins from European cars on their way to the wrecker.

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Lobstercycle made from discarded shells


Huang Mingbo, a Taiwanese food artist, made these lobstercycles out of discarded shells in 2011, for a cooking art show in Fuzhou, China.

Motorbike-shaped craftwork made of lobsters (3) (via Neatorama)

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Chinese artist's movie about Bay Area Occupy

James sez, "Chinese artist Li Chen embedded with the Bay Area Occupy movement and created this beautiful film that's also about the frailty of memory and language. 'I was there because I had never witnessed a protest before in my life,' she says in her artist's statement. "As a Chinese citizen, I spent many sleepless nights with hundreds of American protesters." The film is one of eight entries in Love of Sun, an online exhibit curated by Rachel Kennedy depicting California artists' visions of China -- and Chinese artists' visions of California."

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Beijing's "mystery rooms": single-room funhouses


Eric Jou reports on Beijing's hot mystery room businesses, in which customers are locked into single-room funhouses where they have to solve a mystery in order to escape. Some mysteries are supernatural, others are crime-scenes, and others are "hospital-themed." They're inspired by similar video-games and cost less than a movie-ticket to play.

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Report: Rich Chinese perps hire body-doubles to do their time

A report on Vocativ reports on rumors on Chinese social media and Taiwanese newspapers that the rich and powerful hire "body doubles" to go on trial for them and even serve their prison sentences. High-profile Chinese trials, like those of Gu Kalai (the wife of Bo Xilai, convicted of murdering Neil Heywood), and Hu Bin (the son of an important official who killed a man in a hit-and-run, using a Mitsubishi custom sports car) have attracted speculation about the use of ti-shen, poor people hired to stand in for the rich perps. When they appeared in court, their appearances were arguably different from their earlier media photos.

I could not find any other sources reporting on this story, apart from this Chinese message-board linked in the Vocativ article. Given that it plays into the widespread perception of Chinese corruption and oligarchy, I'm on the fence about it. If you have more information, I'd love to hear it through the comments.

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Ghosts With Shit Jobs goes to the Beijing Film Festival

I've told you before about Ghosts With Shit Jobs, Jim Munroe's mockumentary about "a future where China's the first world and North America’s the third world." Jim and co took the movie to the Beijing International Film Festival and documented their experience showing it to a Chinese audience.

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China says it will stop harvesting organs from prisoners

More than half of China's donated organs come from executed prisoners. The Chinese government now says it will begin phasing out that practice, starting in November. All new organ donors must volunteer. Of course, there's good reason to be skeptical of this announcement. As Smithsonian points out, the practice has already been illegal since 2006 with not much done to change it. Meanwhile, a harrowing 2011 investigative report by Ethan Gutmann in the Weekly Standard revealed a system that leaves plenty of room for "volunteer" loopholes.

EFF: don't let Cisco off the hook for participating in Chinese repression


The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed an amicus brief in a lawsuit against Cisco, which seeks to call the company to account for actively participating in human rights abuses in China through its participation in China's network surveillance. In 2008, a leaked PowerPoint presentation showed that Cisco was participating in initiatives like "Combat Falun Gong Evil Religion and Other Hostilities." The case's plaintiff has been detained and harassed in China since filing his suit. EFF's amicus brief carefully lays out the case against Cisco and explains how they actively collaborated in programs of surveillance and repression.

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Jimmy Wales: Wikipedia won't surveil users for China

This year's annual Wikipedia conference, Wikimania, was held in Hong Kong, and Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales devoted some time in his speech and subsequent interviews to a discussion of the site's relationship to the Chinese authorities. Wikipedia is heavily censored by the Great Firewall, which blocks many queries and pages, and an encrypted, unfilterable version of Wikipedia is blocked altogether. Wales ruled out shutting down the unencrypted version for now, on technical grounds, but said that the site would never censor itself in response to government threats.

More significantly, Wales ruled out completely any participation in China's "real name" policy, which requires online services to track user activity and associate it with their real names, saying he would not comply with this, "not for five seconds."

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Life in a toxic country

New York Times China correspondent Edward Wong describes his life in heavily polluted Beijing, where he no longer feels safe running outside and, in order to bike around town, dons a black air filter face mask that makes him "look like an Asian Darth Vader".

Overgrown, abandoned rollercoaster


From the Abandoned Geography Tumblr: an overgrown and abandoned rollercoaster in Hubei Province, China.

Abandoned roller coaster in Hubei Province, China

David Cameron's favourite censorware is built and maintained by Huawei


UK Prime Minister David Cameron (and his thin-skinned, slandering advisor Claire Perry) have been cynically appealing to the Tory's reactionary base by promising to purge the British Internet of porn with a Chinese style, opt-out Great Firewall. Cameron has held out the UK ISP TalkTalk as a paragon in this regard, praising its "Homesafe" blocking product.

Now the BBC reports that Homesafe was built by Huawei, the Chinese IT giant Huawei, founded by Ren Zhengfei, a former officer in China's People's Liberation Army. Huawei has been characterized by senior Western spooks as an arm of the Chinese intelligence service, conducting industrial espionage on its behalf.

A poorly understood feature of censorship software is that it is also surveillance software. In order to stop you from clicking on "bad" things, it must intercept all of your clicks and examine them to make sure they're not on the blacklist.

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Tibetan monks shot by Chinese police for praying on Dalai Lama’s birthday

The International Campaign for Tibet reports that "Two Tibetan monks were shot in the head and several others seriously injured after Chinese police opened fire at a crowd gathered to peacefully celebrate the 78th birthday of the Dalai Lama in Nyitso, Tawu, eastern Tibet, on Saturday (July 6)."

China's new millionaires on a breast-milk binge

Members of the decadent nouveau riche of Shenzhen in South China have provoked online outrage by taking up breast-milk consumption as a high-status health treatment. According to sources quoted in the Times of India, agencies recruit wet nurses from among recent mothers and pay them $2,000-$4,000 to allow rich people to nurse from their breasts, or to pump milk for later consumption.

"This adds to China's problem of treating women as consumer goods and the moral degradation of China's rich," wrote Cao Baoyin, a writer and regular commentator in Chinese media, on his blog.

Breast milk drinking by rich adults provokes outrage in China [Saibal Dasgupta/Times of India]

As Tibetans celebrate the Dalai Lama's 78th birthday, a video snapshot of Tibet Lobby Day

As the world marks the Dalai Lama’s 78th birthday, the Tibetan community marks a grim milestone: 120 Tibetans, mostly youth, have burned themselves alive to protest China’s repressive rule. Xeni Jardin traveled to Washington, DC to document a group of Tibetan-American activists asking lawmakers to open up immigration doors for political refugees, and hold China accountable.

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China's version of the NSA's Prism: Golden Shield

"China’s surveillance system is extremely wild, there are no rules governing it that are worth speaking of,” says a Beijing lawyer named Xie Yanyi, who filed a public information request with the police to reveal how China’s own surveillance operations work. The New York Times reports that "he filed the request as a private citizen, said there were three programs in particular he wanted to know more about: Golden Shield, Great Wall and Green Dam."

Sloppiness in the Snowden extradition request to HK

When Hong Kong let Edward Snowden leave the country instead of arresting him in accord with the official US request on the grounds that the request was incomplete and invalid, many of us (myself included) assumed that there was a certain amount of nose-thumbing going on. But as it turns out, the US government's extradition request to Hong Kong was remarkably sloppy.

The request didn't include Snowden's full name or passport number. It didn't include a rationale explaining "how two of the three charges the US mentioned in its arrest request fell within the scope of a US-Hong Kong rendition of fugitive offenders agreement signed in 1996." It didn't include any evidence for the charges. And the US didn't respond to prompt requests for clarification from Hong Kong.

HK authorities requested clarification by email on Jun 17 and 21, and by "speed post" on Jun 21. They have yet to receive a response.

I confess I don't understand this. Was it that the bureaucrats pursuing Snowden were incompetent? Arrogant? Paralyzed by infighting? It's a truly astonishing degree of sloppiness.

Hong Kong minister rejects US accusations of deliberately delaying Snowden's arrest

Huge, 3D printed airplane parts in China

GE isn't the only one getting into the 3D-printed airplane part game. But, instead of little fuel injectors for turbines, the Chinese company AVIC Heavy Machinery and China's Northwestern Polytechnical University are printing off 5-meter-long titanium wing spars and equally long wing beams. (Thanks, Tim Heffernan!)

Ai Wei Wei on Prism

Ai Wei Wei, the renowned Chinese dissident who has been relentlessly persecuted by his own government, has written an op-ed for the Guardian comparing Chinese totalitarian surveillance with Prism and related NSA spying:

I lived in the United States for 12 years. This abuse of state power goes totally against my understanding of what it means to be a civilised society, and it will be shocking for me if American citizens allow this to continue. The US has a great tradition of individualism and privacy and has long been a centre for free thinking and creativity as a result.

In our experience in China, basically there is no privacy at all – that is why China is far behind the world in important respects: even though it has become so rich, it trails behind in terms of passion, imagination and creativity.

During my detention in China I was watched 24 hours a day. The light was always on. There were two guards on two-hour shifts standing next to me – even watching when I swallowed a pill; I had to open mouth so they could see my throat. You have to take a shower in front of them; they watch you while you brush your teeth, in the name of making sure you're not hurting yourself. They had three surveillance cameras to make sure the guards would not communicate with me.

But the guards whispered to me. They told stories about themselves. There is always humanity and privacy, even under the most restrictive conditions.

NSA surveillance: The US is behaving like China

Made In China: Eric Pan and open source hardware

Opennnn

Maker culture is being remade in China. Along with pioneers like Bunnie Huang and David Li, of Shanghai hackerspace Xinchejian, Eric Pan and his open hardware facilitator, Seeed Studio are accelerating the global maker movement by helping people source, design, produce, and commercialize their maker projects. And just as importantly, they are fueling a Chinese maker movement that is starting to take full advantage of both Shenzhen’s awesome manufacturing capacities and China’s shanzhai superpowers.

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Edward Snowden checks out of hotel, whereabouts unknown

Edward Snowden has reportedly checked out of the hotel in Hong Kong where he had holed up to leak a series of NSA documents to the Guardian and the Washington Post. The US will not say if it is seeking his extradition. His whereabouts are not presently known by various news-agencies, though it seems likely that he, himself, knows where he is.

Hong Kong's broadcaster RTHK said Mr Snowden checked out of the Mira hotel on Monday.

Reuters news agency quoted hotel staff as saying that he had left at noon.

Ewen MacAskill, a Guardian journalist, told the BBC he believed Mr Snowden was still in Hong Kong.

The Chinese territory has an extradition treaty with the US, although analysts say any attempts to bring Mr Snowden to America may take months and could be blocked by Beijing.

US spy leaker Edward Snowden 'missing' in Hong Kong [BBC]

Another Top Secret leak: Obama's cyber-war hit-list

Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian have published details of another Top Secret US surveillance/security document. This one is a presidential order from Obama to his top spies directing them to draw up a hit-list of "cyber war" targets to be attacked by American military hacking operations.

The 18-page Presidential Policy Directive 20, issued in October last year but never published, states that what it calls Offensive Cyber Effects Operations (OCEO) "can offer unique and unconventional capabilities to advance US national objectives around the world with little or no warning to the adversary or target and with potential effects ranging from subtle to severely damaging".

It says the government will "identify potential targets of national importance where OCEO can offer a favorable balance of effectiveness and risk as compared with other instruments of national power".

The directive also contemplates the possible use of cyber actions inside the US, though it specifies that no such domestic operations can be conducted without the prior order of the president, except in cases of emergency.

The document further contemplates preemptive first strikes on foreign targets.

As Greenwald points out, this document has been published on the eve of a meeting between Obama and the Chinese Premier Xi Jinping. China has been publicly accused by the USA of carrying out electronic attacks on American infrastructure, and Xi has rebutted by saying that the US has engaged in aggressive "cyber-war" attacks on Chinese infrastructure. This document lends credence to Xi's claim.

Obama orders US to draw up overseas target list for cyber-attacks