China Media Bulletin Issue No. 116: September 2016
China’s assault on dissent, liberal party journal closure, and K-Pop stars caught in missile defense crossfire.
Put on a happy face—or else: This political cartoon, drawn by Rebel Pepper, an artist who left China for Japan two years ago, depicts a well-dressed man in a smiling mask, holding his hands up in surrender as he faces a rifle drawn to resemble a reporter's microphone. The image alludes to the coercion behind a recent spate of state media interviews in which detained human rights lawyers renounced their work. Rebel Pepper explains, "The microphone before her [lawyer Wang Yu] was really the barrel of the CCP's gun. When coerced, people say a lot of things that go against their true feelings."
Credit: China Digital Times
- Feature: China’s Latest Crackdown: A New Chapter in a Larger Assault on Dissent
- Rights defense activists sentenced, ‘confess’ to China and Hong Kong media
- Netizens react to Rio Olympics
- Censorship updates: News restrictions, liberal party journal closure, ‘Xi’ beetle
- Hong Kong: Student leaders avoid jail, opposition gains seats despite restrictions
- Beyond China: UK-China media partnership, K-Pop reprisals, Australian Mao concert, Hollywood struggles
- What to Watch For
by Sarah Cook
This article was also published in The Diplomat on September 7, 2016.
For over a year, the Chinese government led by President Xi Jinping has pursued an aggressive campaign against human rights lawyers, their assistants, and the larger “rights defense movement” they represent. The effort came to a head last month with the conviction of four lawyers and activists after farcical trials, a new round of demonizing propaganda, and apparently coerced media interviews by two prominent female detainees. Some international news outlets, rights groups, and scholars have characterized the campaign as the “harshest crackdown on human rights and civil society in decades.” But, as dismaying as the assault is for these activists, their families, and the cause of free expression and rule of law in China, such labeling is inaccurate, or at the very least misleading.
The crackdown on legal activists is disturbing and highlights the expansion of repression to new targets under Xi, but focusing on the Communist party’s latest victims has the effect of erasing critical context. The scale and severity of this assault pales in comparison to the party’s campaigns of persecution against millions of religious believers and ethnic minorities over the past 20 years. To overlook this vast population of existing targets is to distort the nature of repression and dissent in China today. Ironically, such skewed analysis also risks inadvertently reinforcing the very censorship and impunity surrounding these groups that the human rights lawyers have sacrificed so much to combat.
Differences in scale
Since July 2015, the starting point of the latest crackdown, over 300 lawyers and activists have been swept into police custody. Most were subsequently released following varying periods of detention, abuse, and interrogation. Disturbingly, 19 remained in custody a year later, including 15 who faced serious politically motivated charges of “subversion” or “inciting subversion.” It is in this context that prominent attorney Zhou Shifeng and activist Hu Shigen were sentenced to seven and seven and a half years in prison, respectively, in early August. The impact of their punishment reaches far beyond the legal community, generating negative ramifications for their clients and the broader cause of freedom in China.
Still, even 300-plus detentions pale in comparison to the number of people abducted and imprisoned in the CCP’s campaigns against Uighurs, Tibetans, Falun Gong practitioners, and Christians.
The scale of the repressive forces deployed against Falun Gong is itself mind-boggling. In 1999, when Jiang Zemin initiated the party’s project to eradicate the spiritual and meditation practice, its followers numbered at least 70 million, according to the government, international media, and the group’s own estimates. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been sent to labor camps, prisons, and extralegal detention centers for practicing Falun Gong or advocating on its behalf.
Even today, Falun Gong adherents make up a significant proportion of prisoners of conscience in China. Recent Freedom House analysis of Chinese court documents found over 800 cases of Falun Gong practitioners sentenced to prison since January 2014. In the first half of 2016 alone, 59 people around the country were sentenced for Falun Gong–related activities, according to available published verdicts. Notably, all of them were punished for exercising their right to free expression—for example, by disseminating leaflets or DVDs about Falun Gong, human rights abuses, or the CCP’s broader history of persecution against Chinese people—highlighting the close connection between religious persecution and restrictions on dissent.
In Tibet, after a series of predominantly peaceful antigovernment protests across the plateau in 2008, thousands of Tibetans—including many monks—were detained and over 100 were sentenced to prison. More recently, even in years without widespread unrest, large-scale arrests have continued to take place. A May 2016 Human Rights Watch report analyzed 479 cases of Tibetans detained between 2013 and 2015 for political offenses. The vast majority were taken into custody for peaceful acts of dissent, online or in the streets. One-third were subsequently prosecuted, with some sentenced to prison for up to 13 years.
In the case of Uighurs, precise statistics on suppression of clearly nonviolent dissent are harder to isolate. But given the Chinese government’s use of charges like “terrorism” or “separatism” in prominent cases involving peaceful critiques of government policies, it seems reasonable to conclude that many of the 592 Uighurs tried on security charges in 2013–14 (according to government sources cited by the Duihua Foundation) were not committing violent acts of terrorism. Moreover, some 12,000 trials were held in Xinjiang during those two years for individuals accused of social order offenses that are often used to punish individuals who disseminate banned information, participate in peaceful protests, or challenge government bans on religious observance. And at least some of the thousands of young men who were forcibly disappeared by security forces after interethnic riots broke out in Xinjiang in 2009 remain missing today.
Differences in severity
The detained lawyers have evidently suffered abuse in custody. It is otherwise difficult to explain the change in attitude toward their work after their arrest and in subsequent media interviews. Thankfully, however, no lawyer has yet died in custody or in the wake of such abuse.
By contrast, well-documented cases of religious or ethnic minority activists dying due to mistreatment in custody or the use of excessive force by security officers come to light each year. A prominent Tibetan lama died in prison under mysterious circumstances in July 2015. A 45-year-old Falun Gong practitioner was killed by police within 10 days of being detained in April 2016. That same month, the wife of a Christian pastor was buried alive by a bulldozer while trying to block the demolition of a church. These are only a few examples of the many deaths over the past two years.
Familiar propaganda and pressure tactics
One of the most striking and worrisome aspects of the crackdown on lawyers has been the extraordinary tactics employed to discredit them and pressure them to renounce their own activism: smear campaigns in state media, flashy infographics, framing as puppets of “hostile foreign forces,” forced confessions or denunciations in media interviews, and reprisals against targets’ families. The broad deployment of such tactics against human rights lawyers is certainly new. But their use by the Chinese government against perceived dissidents is not.
The launch of the anti–Falun Gong campaign in 1999 was accompanied by media blitzes demonizing the group, fabricated allegations against adherents and the discipline’s founder, televised show trials, and videos of detained practitioners renouncing their beliefs.
More recently, collective punishment tactics have appeared in Tibetan areas, with families or even whole villages facing economic reprisals when a self-immolation or an antigovernment protest occurs in their midst. The siblings and children of expatriate Uighur activists and journalists have been detained and imprisoned. And a common government narrative, particularly regarding Tibet and Xinjiang, blames overseas activists or religious leaders for inciting unrest within China’s borders.
Persecution in perspective
The Chinese government’s latest crackdown on human rights lawyers, journalists, and civil society leaders is heartrending, troubling, and one of the most important developments in Chinese politics over the past year. But placing it in the proper context of the party’s overall assault on a wide range of dissent—including the religious variety—is critical if the world is to make sense of what is happening in China and avoid playing into the CCP’s divide-and-conquer strategy.
Having courageously represented victims of religious persecution, the detained lawyers understand better than anyone the horrors these communities have suffered and their significance for Chinese society. The causes and consequences of the attorneys’ own treatment cannot be fully appreciated without a clear understanding of the abuses they are being jailed for resisting. And such campaigns cannot be stopped without international recognition of the diverse segments of civil society who are sacrificing to make China a freer and more just country for future generations.
Sarah Cook is a senior research analyst for East Asia at Freedom House, director of its China Media Bulletin, and author of an upcoming report on religious persecution and dissent in China.
Over 300 rights defense lawyers and activists were detained on and around July 9, 2015. One year later, 19 remained in custody, with the majority facing political charges of “subversion” or “inciting subversion,” including several connected to the Beijing Fengrui Law Firm, the focus of last year’s crackdown. Fengrui director Zhou Shifeng and three other activists were tried and sentenced in Tianjin during the first week of August. All four pleaded guilty, though outside observers believe they were coerced. Portions of their confessions in court were broadcast on state television, but some segments, including statements praising China’s legal system that may have included an undercurrent of sarcasm, were removed from published transcripts.
Alongside Chinese state media coverage, some of the most prominent “709” detainees have given confession-style interviews to Hong Kong broadcasters and newspapers. Coming just months after four of five detained Hong Kong booksellers “confessed” on Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV, the trend highlights Beijing’s increased influence on media outlets in the special autonomous region. Hong Kong’s English-language South China Morning Post published an interview with female legal assistant Zhao Wei on July 11 in which she told the paper that she “regretted her civil rights activism” and “truly wanted to repent.” The Post was acquired by the mainland internet mogul Jack Ma in April.
On August 1, Wang Yu, a female attorney connected to Fengrui, gave an “exclusive” interview to another Hong Kong paper, the Oriental Daily. She condemned “Western values and notions of democracy” and the rights defense work on which she had built her career, and stated that she “won’t acknowledge, won’t recognize, and won’t accept” an international human rights award. (Wang was recently honored by both the International Association of Lawyers and the American Bar Association.) Wang also appeared on Phoenix TV, where she blamed “foreign forces” for using Fengrui to undermine the Chinese government. After the Oriental Daily interview was published, intellectual Mo Zhixu announced on Twitter that he would stop contributing articles to the paper, explaining, “Their article supports the party-state, acting as a tool.” Reinforcing suspicions that the media denunciations were coerced, Zhang Kai, a human rights lawyer who had made comments critical of the lawyers and activists sentenced in early August during media interviews, including with Phoenix TV, later issued a statement withdrawing his remarks and saying he had made them against his will.
Other propaganda initiatives have sought to bolster the Chinese government’s case against the “709” lawyers. During the trials in Tianjin at the beginning of August, Beijing Dujia Media released a video montage warning that activists in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the mainland have received financial backing from the United States to start “color revolutions” in China. Lei Xiying, a doctoral candidate at Australia National University, spearheaded the project. He told Australia’s Fairfax Media that the “709” detainees had infuriated ordinary Chinese people. “The trials exposed them receiving training from overseas forces, accepting funds from foreign forces, and maliciously spreading rumours,” he said. The Chinese Supreme People’s Court shared the video, which was viewed over 10 million times within 24 hours of its release.
Throughout the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro last month, stories of individual Chinese athletes’ struggles dominated social media in China. As Britain surpassed China in the medal count, a leaked propaganda directive instructed the media to report less on the “miseries” of athletes and more on their “patriotic spirit.” Some netizens shared the state’s disappointment, though many others argued that the public should appreciate the work and sacrifice that brought these athletes to Rio in the first place. The stories of two athletes in particular captured the attention of Chinese netizens:
● ‘Drug cheat’ fallout: Within days of the Olympics’ opening, Australian swimmer Mack Horton said of his Chinese rival Sun Yang that he had “no time or respect for drug cheats,” alluding to Sun’s three-month suspension in 2014 after he tested positive for a banned substance. (Sun claims the substance was contained in his heart medication.) Horton went on to win gold in the 400-meter freestyle, and Sun wept in front of the cameras. Chinese netizens demanded an apology. The “little pinks” (小粉红), a grassroots group of young, mostly female, nationalistic netizens circumvented the Great Firewall to bombard Horton’s social media accounts with denunciations. Horton’s staff soon turned off the comment functions on his accounts and began deleting the hundreds of thousands of messages. Chinese state media chimed in as well. The Global Times called Australia “a country at the fringes of civilization” and “Britain’s offshore prison.”
● Fu Yuanhui’s primordial power: An emotive, honest female swimmer soon washed away sore feelings and took the Chinese internet by storm. Fu Yuanhui’s exuberant facial expressions and turns of phrase went viral. The attention started with a poolside China Central Television (CCTV) interview, in which Fu credited her “primordial power” (洪荒之力) with qualifying her for the finals in 100-meter backstroke. She was soon dubbed “primordial girl” by Chinese netizens, and memes of her choicest looks and quotes spread online. She continued to make waves in subsequent CCTV interviews. After the final, she didn’t realize until halfway through the post-race interview that she had won bronze. When the reporter let her know she had won, she beamed, saying she was glad she had persevered. By this point, Fu already had international admirers, but it was a later defeat that truly resonated around the world. Her team failed to qualify in the 4x100 relay, and she was dejected—and doubled over—during the interview following the race. “It looks like your stomach really hurts right now,” the reporter said. “Yeah,” Fu replied, “because my period started last night.” Fu’s frankness thrilled female viewers in China, who started an online conversation about tampons, and smashed a taboo on the subject for female athletes worldwide. Fu’s politics, though, are not quite so liberal. On August 25, she went to Beijing’s Great Hall of the People as part of an Olympic delegation and shook hands with President Xi Jinping. “I won’t wash my hands,” she told her seven million followers on the Sina Weibo microblogging platform.
- New rules clamp down on online news: The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) issued a number of rules for news websites in July and August, following the abrupt replacement of CAC head Lu Wei by Xu Lin at the end of June. On July 3, the CAC announced that online media cannot publish news gathered from social media without approval, as part of an ongoing campaign against the spread of “rumors” online. Major internet companies soon faced greater restrictions on producing independent content, after a July 9 typo at Tencent turned the headline “Xi Jinping Delivers Important Speech” into one implying that Xi had “flipped out” when doing so, a difference of only one Chinese character (习近平发飚重要讲话). The gaffe was not just an embarrassment, but proof that Tencent staff had not copied the headline from state media as they were supposed to. The editor in chief of Tencent news was fired. The CAC announced on July 24 that Tencent, along with Sina, NetEase, and Phoenix, had “seriously violated laws and regulations” and would be fined for producing their own news content. Several weeks later, the CAC further stated that the editors in chief of news portals and media sites would be held responsible for the proper management of content, and that websites would be required to implement round-the-clock monitoring of content to guarantee conformity with laws and regulations. While many of the new rules simply reinforced policies dating to the presidency of Hu Jintao, the China Media Project’s David Bandurski argued that they were “part of a far more serious push to strengthen Party control across media platforms” and reflected an effort to impose control not only on information but also on innovative ways of relaying it. During July and August, several inventive features on privately owned internet portals that served to aggregate or explain news were shut down. The latest restrictions echo Xi’s comments on news control and internet management in February and April.
- Dissolution of liberal journal ‘Yanhuang Chunqiu’: After several years of struggle to maintain its editorial integrity, Yanhuang Chunqiu was effectively taken over by its parent organization, the Chinese National Academy of Arts, in July. The journal, founded in 1991, had tackled politically sensitive topics including alternative versions of history and calls for constitutional reforms, protected in part by support from some retired Communist Party officials. Longtime publisher and party member Du Daozheng and other key staff were displaced by the National Academy. In mid-July, academy staff camped out in the Yanhuang Chunqiu offices and changed the passwords for the journal’s website. The old guard did not easily concede control, however. Led by Du, former staff issued a statement on July 17 condemning the academy for violating its contract with Yanhuang Chunqiu and announcing the dissolution of the journal. The former staff tried to sue, but in August a Beijing court rejected the case. Yanhuang Chunqiu’s takeover and ultimate dissolution occurred after years of pressure on this unusually moderate voice among magazines published by Communist Party cadres. Du attempted to hand over leadership in 2014 to Hu Deping, the son of the late reformist Hu Yaobang, whose death in April 1989 sparked prodemocracy protests in Tiananmen Square. However, bureaucratic entanglements kept Hu from taking the post, and Du, 93, stayed on until his recent dismissal. He told the New York Times that the academy’s takeover “resembles methods used in the Cultural Revolution.”
- Censorship directive highlights: Official directives on coverage of a range of news stories were leaked in July and August. One emerged after Wang Chengbin, a professor at the Czech University of Life Sciences, discovered a species of beetle in Hainan and named it Rhyzodiastes (Temoana) xii—the “xii” at the end being a nod to Xi Jinping. A leaked July 11 directive demanded the deletion of the article “Entomologists Report: Scholars Use ‘Daddy Xi’ to Name a New Type of Beetle.” State media have been using the nickname “Daddy Xi” for several years, but it is now being downplayed. The Chinese translation of the beetle’s scientific name and several unflattering nicknames for Xi were also blocked from search results on social media. Another directive sought to suppress unsanctioned nationalist protests. After the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled against China on a territorial dispute in the South China Sea, Chinese citizens boycotted the U.S. companies KFC and Apple. (While the Philippines was the plaintiff, many in China believed the United States to be working behind the scenes.) A July 18 directive ordered media and internet companies not to “hype or spread information related to illegal rallies and demonstrations.” A few weeks later, thousands of residents of Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province, demonstrated in the streets after learning that a nuclear waste processing plant was slated for construction nearby. The local government later promised to suspend the project. A directive leaked on August 11 instructed websites to delete a Sohu article suggesting that the supposed suspension could be a “perfunctory tactic to manage public opinion pressure.” A leaked notice circulated on WeChat also revealed that Lianyungang port workers were being pressured to pledge not to participate in protests. Similar pledges were imposed on government employees in Kunming following environmental protests there in May 2013.
On July 21, a Hong Kong court found three student leaders guilty for their roles in the Umbrella Movement, a series of protests demanding electoral reform in which participants occupied sections of the city for 79 days during the fall of 2014. All three avoided jail time, however. Joshua Wong, the founder of the student activist group Scholarism, and former Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) leader Alex Chow were both found guilty of illegally entering a restricted area outside the city government headquarters on September 26, 2014. That action marked the start of citywide demonstrations; protesters used umbrellas to protect themselves from police pepper spray several days later, giving the movement its name. Wong was sentenced to 80 hours of community service. Chow was given a three-week suspended jail sentence, allowing him to proceed with his plans to study abroad. Nathan Law, also formerly of the HKFS, was found guilty of inciting others to take part in the storming of the government building’s plaza. Law was sentenced to 120 hours of community service. Although all three were spared jail time, international human rights groups criticized the convictions as infringements on freedom of expression and assembly. Had Law been given a prison sentence, he would have been ineligible to run in the September 5 Legislative Council elections. Law is president of Demosistō, the prodemocracy political party that grew out of Scholarism, and of which Wong is secretary general.
Demosistō “aims to achieve democratic self-determination” for Hong Kong, but does not directly call for independence from China. In July, the Hong Kong Electoral Commission had said that all candidates would be required to sign a pledge to uphold the Basic Law, the city’s equivalent of a constitution, which declares Hong Kong an “inalienable part of China.” Six candidates from explicitly pro-independence parties were later barred from running. Anonymous sources told Reuters that the commission acted under pressure from Beijing. “They laid down a direct order, that this pro-independence movement must be purged,” one source said.
Some pro-independence candidates creatively omitted certain terms from their campaign materials, fearing their inclusion would hamper distribution by the post office. Chan Chak-to, a candidate for Kowloon East, said a section of his leaflet read “My political belief is ---,” while criticizing the Electoral Commission for “suppressing freedom of speech and exercising political censorship.” He told the South China Morning Post that he had prepared other leaflets to give to voters on the street, more explicitly stating that “Independence is the only way for HongKongers to have a say over Hong Kong.”
The ultimate results of the elections suggest that the Hong Kong and Beijing governments’ heavy-handed efforts to suppress political competition and debate backfired. Several candidates supporting independence or self-determination, including Nathan Law, won seats in the new legislature, while the prodemocracy opposition camp as a whole increased its share of seats and retained enough votes to block various types of legislation.
BEYOND CHINA: UK-China media partnership, K-Pop reprisals, Australian Mao concert, Hollywood struggles
- ‘Daily Mail’ and ‘People’s Daily’ partnership draws scrutiny: On August 12, the Daily Mail Online’s Australian website ran an article accompanied by a message that it was “produced in partnership with The People’s Daily.” It was the first product of a March 2015 cross-publishing agreement between the politically conservative, gossip-friendly British newspaper and the official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party to have garnered attention from other media and press freedom advocates. Under the agreement, each paper may publish up to 40 articles per week from the other. The Mail Online has 15.1 million visitors per day, making it one of the world’s most clicked-on English-language newspaper sites. As the British outlet came under international criticism for providing party propaganda with a global platform, Mail Online editorial chief Martin Clarke defended the move as a “copy-swap,” with no monetary exchange involved or negative impact on the Mail’s independence. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) noted, however, that the Mail generally steers clear of coverage that China would find politically sensitive.
- K-Pop stars caught in missile defense crossfire: The television broadcast of a concert in Jiangsu Province featuring South Korean boy band iKON and pop star Psy was censored following Seoul’s July 8 agreement with Washington to install a U.S. missile defense system in Seongju. The United States and South Korea assert that the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is meant to protect against North Korean military aggression, but Beijing insists that THAAD is a threat to China’s national security. A public appearance in Beijing by stars of the popular Korean television drama Uncontrollably Fond was also canceled, and screenings of the Korean horror film Train to Busan were suspended indefinitely. Guangdong Province television stations reported that the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (SAPPRFT) had given them verbal notice that programs featuring K-pop stars would not be approved. In spite of the retaliatory bans, Chinese fans of all things Hallyu have continued to find ways around the censorship online. Meanwhile, non-Chinese fans were disappointed by some of their favorite Chinese-born K-pop stars when they shared their support for China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea on social media.
- Mao commemoration concerts canceled in Australia: Concerts in tribute to Mao Zedong scheduled in two major Australian cities were canceled after a backlash from many in the Chinese Australian community. The program, entitled “Glory and Dream: In Commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of the Death of Chairman Mao,” promised to share the story of “a national leader forever in the hearts of Chinese people and a hero in the eyes of people all over the world” at the Sydney Town Hall on September 6 and the Melbourne Town Hall on September 9, according to an advertisement circulated in local Chinese-language newspapers. Sponsors included media companies and local associations with close ties to the Chinese government. Many Chinese migrants objected to an event meant to glorify the architect of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, which were responsible for upwards of 30 million deaths from 1958 to 1976. A petition on Change.org to stop the Sydney concert, created by the Embrace Australian Values Alliance, received nearly 3,000 signatures. Alliance spokesperson Zhong Jinjiang told Radio Free Asia that “business prospects” motivated many of the “opportunists” behind the concerts. Both cities canceled the concerts around August 25. Sydney officials cited “safety concerns” for the cancelation. Melbourne made no statement on why its concert was canceled.
- Hollywood wins and losses: Hollywood blockbusters continue to struggle with seemingly arbitrary decisions by Chinese regulators, which can affect billions of dollars in revenue. The Warner Brothers film Suicide Squad may have beaten Guardians of the Galaxy in box office sales, if only it had been released in China. There is still no release date on the China Film Group’s calendar. The reason for keeping Suicide Squad out of China is unclear, though its dark tone or certain characters could be to blame. Despite his rocky past with China’s film censors, director Martin Scorsese is set to release his gangster film The Irishman in China. Scorsese’s films were temporarily banned as a result of his work on “Kundun,” a biographical feature about the Dalai Lama, in 1997. China is the second-largest box office market in the world, but Hollywood only reaps 20 to 25 percent in returns on its Chinese releases, compared with 40 to 50 percent in other parts of the world. Many box offices around the globe are owned by China’s Dalian Wanda Group, the world’s largest operator of chain movie theaters. Wanda chief executive Wang Jianlin announced in August that two billion-dollar deals with U.S. film companies are firming up, though he gave no specifics. Wanda purchased a controlling stake in the Hollywood production company Legendary Entertainment in January.
Long-term impact of G20 controls: As China hosted leaders of the Group of 20 economic powers in Hangzhou on September 4–5, a range of measures were reportedly imposed on the city’s residents and perceived sources of dissent, including bans on unofficial church worship and a weeklong holiday to encourage people to leave town. Following past high-profile international events hosted in China—such as the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, or the 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit—certain related measures, from activist arrests to surveillance technology, have continued to infringe on Chinese citizens’ rights even years later. Watch for any G20 controls that remain in place after world leaders have departed.
More online censorship under new cyberspace chief: Given the tightened controls imposed over online news portals since Xu Lin replaced Lu Wei as head of the Cyberspace Administration of China, watch for additional restrictions on internet communications or punishments meted out to companies for insufficient policing of reporters and users in the coming months.
Hong Kong election repercussions: Following Legislative Council elections whose results are certain to displease Beijing, watch for renewed attempts to discredit, marginalize, or intimidate opposition political voices, particularly those espousing self-determination or independence for the territory. Also watch for greater efforts by Beijing to influence the selection of a new Hong Kong chief executive in early 2017, including media manipulation and targeted cyberattacks.