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The Weekly Brief

Just a quick update in case you missed it.

Released on 25.08.2023

China’s plan for a new U.K. embassy foiled by Uyghur activists and local allies

Londoners put off by Chinese Communist Party behavior have blocked, once and for all, construction of a new super embassy China had planned for the U.K. capital, prompting fury in Beijing but jubilation in the exiled community of Uyghurs, Turkic Muslims who fled oppression in Xinjiang for Britain. Six months after the town council of Tower Hamlets — home to London’s largest Muslim constituency — refused China’s plans to transform the iconic nineteenth-century Royal Mint and its five-acre grounds into the largest embassy in Europe, the August 10 appeal deadline has passed.

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Google Axes Bad Reviews of Tracker Exposing Uyghur Forced Labor

Alphabet Inc.’s Google has removed hundreds of negative reviews for a tracker that identifies apparel brands linked to forced Uyghur labor after its creator said the reviews were part of a disinformation campaign. The Human Rights Foundation’s Uyghur Forced Labor Checker had been experiencing a spate of unusual activity in recent months, with the number of downloads fluctuating dramatically, according to Claudia Bennett, the nonprofit’s legal and program officer. The tool, a Google Chrome extension, alerts internet users if a retailer or business whose website they are visiting has links to forced Uyghur labor.

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The world should study China’s crushing of Hong Kong’s freedoms

Hong kong is becoming less and less relevant,” says a Western diplomat in the city. On the face of it, that is an odd claim. Lots of foreign governments take Hong Kong seriously, noting each step of the financial centre’s journey towards autocracy. Only last month the governments of America, Australia and Britain formally protested when the authorities in Hong Kong announced bounties of HK$1m ($128,000) on eight democracy activists living as exiles in their respective countries.

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An ex-Googler takes aim at China

When President Joe Biden signed an executive order restricting tech investments in China this month, one of Congress’s designated advisers on China thought the order didn’t go nearly far enough. In a sign of the times, as Silicon Valley warms up to working with the Pentagon after years of keeping its distance, the adviser comes not from the world of national security, but straight out of Google. Jacob Helberg, a new addition to the United States–China Economic and Security Review Commission, is both emblematic of that ongoing hawkish turn — and determined to push it further.

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Hong Kong fugitive protester who allegedly hid out for 2 years pleads guilty to 2019 protest charges

A Hong Kong protester who allegedly hid in safehouses for two years to dodge a protest-related criminal charge has pleaded guilty to rioting and perversion of justice. Fung Ching-wah, who has been in remand for over a year, appeared before Deputy District Judge Pang Leung-ting at the West Kowloon Law Courts Building on Wednesday. Standing in the dock, the defendant wore a white dress shirt with his hair in a bun. His case was committed to the District Court, where he could face up to seven years in prison if convicted, but the hearing itself was moved to the Sham Shui Po courthouse.

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Tantrayana Buddhism: When China Uses “Cults” for Propaganda Purposes

We all know that China hates and persecutes groups it labels as “xie jiao” (heterodox teachings), an expression it incorrectly translates as “cults” to elicit sympathy from international anti-cultists. In fact, it does more than that. One of the tasks the CCP assigns to the mammoth China Anti-Xie-Jiao Association, which likes to promote itself as the “largest anti-cult organization in the world,” is to collect and spread through Chinese media any possible item of news from all over the world, including fake news, showing that “cults” are evil and dangerous. We read often on Chinese media long articles about “cults” that never set foot in China, including NXIVM and Kenya’s Good News International Church.

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What Uyghurs Want you to know about China (Interview with Rahim Mahmut)

For decades, the Uyghur Muslims have fought to preserve their culture, their language and their religion, in the face of China’s rising power and control. Since 2013, sweeping crackdowns have turned the once-autonomous region which calls itself East Turkestan into a heavily militarised zone, where high-tech surveillance systems were installed and thousands of ordinary people disappeared. What China calls ‘anti-terrorism’ measures have been revealed as something much more sinister - concentration camps where more than a million Uyghurs are ‘re-educated’ into giving up their beliefs and adopting nationalist ideals, or face severe consequences.

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