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Xi Jinping and Ma Ying-jeou wave hands during their meeting at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore, Nov. 7, 2015. [Photo/Xinhua]
BEIJING, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- Traversing nearly seven decades of vicissitudes in cross-Strait relations, Xi Jinping and Ma Ying-jeou met and shook hands in Singapore, making Nov. 7 a day to remember for Chinese across the Taiwan Strait.
In an unprecedented direct communication between leaders across the Strait, the two exchanged views on pushing forward the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations in an earnest and profound manner during a face-to-face meeting.
The landmark meeting will undoubtedly instill more confidence in a bright future of cross-Strait relations for compatriots on both sides, and proves to the international community that Chinese people across the Strait are fully capable of solving their own issues and jointly contributing to regional and global peace, stability and development.
This hard-earned achievement followed 66 years of cross-Strait history that have sailed through military confrontation and division to warming ties.
Since 2008, the two sides have signed 23 agreements. According to Ma, over 40,000 students have taken advantage of academic exchange programs, and now more than 8 million tourists travel between the two sides each year. Annual trade is now worth over 170 billion U.S. dollars.
The future can be foreseen by examining the past. Historical facts have proven that tension and confrontation can only bring misery while the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations is the correct path that benefits both sides.
During Saturday's closed-door meeting, Xi called for adhering to the common political consensus of the two sides, referring to the 1992 Consensus reached between the two sides that endorses the one-China principle.
Xi also called for consolidating and deepening the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations, boosting well-being of people from both sides, and working together to achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
People across the Strait are one family, and a traditional Chinese idiom has it that a harmonious family is the basis for all successes. As Xi said, the two sides should make further efforts to boost exchanges in various aspects to benefit people, tighten their emotional ties and consolidate mutual understanding.
With strengthened exchanges and dialogues, mutual trust and efforts to contain disputes, obstacles will be overcome and further breakthroughs can be achieved. It is sincerely hoped that responsible parties and individuals across the Strait will join forces to secure a brighter future for the two sides and ensure a peaceful and wonderful life for cross-Strait people and future generations.
Beijing just embraced its first snow of the season. As the Chinese saying goes, heavy snow promises good harvests next year. May the Xi-Ma meeting elevate cross-Strait exchanges to a higher level and bring bumper crops for many years to come.
By Elaine Dunn
On Sept. 26, 2014, a group of mostly young, hopeful students gathered outside the Hong Kong government’s headquarters to demand for greater input into the election of the next chief executive, the top ruling post in Hong Kong, of 2017. The police responded with pepper spray and arrested dozens of the demonstrators. What ensued was 79 days of civil disobedience that became known as the Umbrella Revolution because the demonstrators armed themselves with umbrellas as protect against police pepper spray and tear gas.
The number of the pro-democracy demonstrators grew to hundreds of thousands as the government response turned ugly. It was probably the first time since June 4, 1989, at Tiananmen Square in Beijing that such a large group had gathered to call for more political freedom from the central government. The mainly peaceful campaign ended in December when the sitting chief executive, under “instructions” from Beijing, ordered all the tents and barricades at the demonstration sites dismantled.
A year after the pro-democracy campaign, deemed “the most destructive movement since the 1997 handover of Hong Kong” by the mainland Chinese authorities, has there been any changes? Did the student leaders’ efforts achieve anything?
To the pro-Beijing crowd, the campaign’s demand for revising the 2017 election process of Hong Kong’s chief executive did not sway Beijing. To them, the Umbrella Movement:
was completely illegitimate
“wrongly encouraged” the young Hong Kongers to believe it was acceptable to express their demands by resorting to violence
undermined the governance and rule of law in Hong Kong, and
produced no tangible change - chief executive C.Y. Leung is still in office, although his popularity had dropped a few pegs.
The pro-Beijing camp also believed that to calm the angry, disenfranchised youth, the government need to establish programs that addressed housing and career prospects. As a result, the government has indeed funded programs to teach entrepreneurship.
For the pro-democracy student leaders, their lives definitely had seen changes. Joshua Wong, co-founder of the activist group Scholarism, the then 17-year-old “face” of the “revolution,” has been on the cover of TIME magazine. He also was featured as one of TIME’s “most influential teens of 2014.” In June 2015, a few days before the 18th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, he was attacked on the street after attending a movie with a friend. TIME reported that Wong felt “there are serious safety concerns in the future” for activists like himself, and that he needed “to care more about my personal security.” In terms of the pro-democracy movement, he is talking long-term, that Hong Kongers need to look beyond 2017 to 2047, when the 50-year transition period (from British rule to Chinese rule) of “one country, two systems” is up. And, he stresses Hong Kongers need to fight for the right to self-determination, not just focus on election reform.
In August, Wong and two other student leaders were charged for their roles in the 2014 protests. Wong was charged with unlawful assembly and inciting others to participate. Alex Chow, formerly with the Hong Kong Federation of Students, was charged with unlawful assembly. Nathan Law, the federation’s current leader, was charged with inciting others to join an unlawful assembly. They face up to two years in prison if found guilty. All three pleaded “not guilty” to their charges at their Oct. 30 pre-trial hearing. If their attorneys do not seek a stay of the proceedings, their trials will begin end-February. Three others, organizers of the Occupy Hong Kong movement, have yet to be formally charged by the authorities.
The pro-democracy camp did score a mini victory when pro-democracy lawmakers defeated Beijing’s election package in a June 2015 vote. Although that means the next chief executive nominees will be chosen by the same Beijing-approved 1,200-member committee, it also denied giving the election false (universal suffrage) legitimacy.
As for the dire predictions of how much harm the protests had wrought on Hong Kong’s economy, the impact had been insignificant. The city’s colonial laissez-faire approach had stayed relatively intact, being ranked “third-easiest place in the world to do business” by The World Bank in October 2014. And in February 2015, the city reported its economy grew by 2.3 percent in 2014.
So, while all the tents and umbrellas are gone, and the protests continuously trivialized by the pro-Beijing camp, no one can deny that the 79 days brought about the political awakening of the younger generation and gave the generally politically apathetic older population of Hong Kong a clearer insight into genuine democracy. Furthermore, judging from the “I want universal suffrage” banners that popped up around the one-year anniversary of the Umbrella Revolution, the fight spirit for election reform has not vanished. Perhaps under new leadership and, as some socialist groups suggest, another mass struggle to reopen the electoral reform discussion, the Umbrella Revolution opened the floodgates that may one day lead to changes the students sought.
China submitted documents related to the 1937 Nanjing Massacre for UNESCO's Memory of the World program. The program was founded in 1992 to preserve important historical documents. Registered items include Britain's Magna Carta, Anne Frank’s diary, and an annotated copy of Karl Marx's “Das Kapital.”
The Nanjing Massacre resulted in approximately 300,000 Chinese civilians and unarmed combatants were slaughtered by the Japanese, and women were forced to work as “comfort women” in military brothels during the Japanese occupation.
Against Japanese protests, China insisted that registering this with the program “could remind us of remembering the history and cherishing peace." UNESCO is reviewing the submissions.
By Lawrence Lau, China-U.S. Focus, Sept. 4
The 70th anniversary of the victory of the Allies over Japan in the Second World War is now upon us. This War created tens of millions of victims, perhaps even as many as a couple of hundreds of millions, in Asia. I was one of the victims of the War, but a relatively lucky one. My parents lived in Hong Kong before the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbour. They were fortunate enough to escape from Hong Kong after the Japanese Army invaded and occupied Hong Kong in 1941, to move back to Guilin, in the Province of Guangxi. Towards the end of 1944, in one of its last offensives, the Japanese Army made a big push for Guilin. My family became war refugees once again and tried to flee to Chongqing, the war-time capital of China, on land. My mother was pregnant with me then. We had to travel through the Province of Guizhou first. We made a transit stop at Zunyi, a regional administrative centre of Guizhou, when my mother could not go on any more. However, there was “no room at the inn”, so I was born right in the Office of the Regional Administrator of Zunyi. I was very lucky indeed to have survived (I turned seventy last December). That was why my Chinese name is Zunyi. In the mid-1950s, information came out that years earlier, in 1935, Chairman MAO Zedong consolidated his leadership of the Chinese Communist Party at the critical Zunyi Conference. Zunyi has since become, like Yenan, a mandatory stop on every red tourism itinerary. But at the time I was born, very, very few people knew about the Zunyi Conference.
Our October issue is in print! You can also enjoy the PDF version here.
By Zhang Chunyan, China Daily , August 18
Depreciation of China's currency offers opportunities for economies in Europe
Last week's depreciation of the yuan stoked fears that European exports to China could be hit. As the euro and the pound strengthened, concerns started to grow that companies selling goods to the second-biggest economy in the world would see their trading margins shrink.
By Tao Peng, contributor
This year marked the 13th year of Dragon Festival in St. Paul. The festival, as always, took place on the second weekend in July. There were a total of 28 dragon boat teams in the festival’s signature dragon boat race: 16 teams raced on Saturday and 12 on Sunday. In addition to race trophies, there were awards for “Best team spirit” and “Best team T-shirts.”