A Chinese cryptocurrency trading platform recently collapsed six days after its opening, prompting speculation that the site was running a scam. On Oct. 15, the platform, Aishang, saw the cryptocurrency traded on its site named Tether plummet from 0.268U (USDT, equivalent to $0.28) to 0.05U within 3 minutes of opening. Aishang is one of three Chinese crypto exchanges that crashed around the same time, according to local media. An investor named Liu Qing (alias) told the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times that Aishang was a Ponzi scheme. He said that if this was a normal trading site, the low costs to enter the new market would cause a rise, and if there was a fall, it would be a gradual one. “It’s not like this, where it can directly drop 99.99 percent. This can only be a result of technical intervention, and has nothing to do with the market,” Liu said. “So, 99 percent of people who entered the trading platform did not make any money.” According to Liu, Aishang claimed that there would be a 4 percent increase in value, which initially attracted Liu to the platform. “It automatically rises on the platform. Think about it, if you invest a hundred yuan, it will earn four yuan a day,” Liu said. “At the 4 percent rate, your investment will double in 25 days. One million will become two million. So everyone wants to invest in it.” However, Liu was skeptical of Aishang from the beginning, so he invested very little money. “Because I do investments, I know that there are more people who disappear with investors’ money in this business. I’ve seen quite a lot, so I just invested a few thousand dollars to give it a try.” “The digital currency itself is relatively risky,” Liu said. “It does not have the same limit as restricted stocks, and it never stops falling and rising. It can rise a lot or fall a lot. But the price falling on other platforms has never been like Aishang which dropped 99 percent within a few minutes. This is impossible.” After the crash on the morning of Oct. 15, a large number of investors turned up to Aishang’s operations center in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen at about 9:30 a.m. The doors to the office were open, but the place was emptied out and no one was there, Liu said. Liu also rushed to the Futian District Police Station in the city to report the incident that night. He saw a lot of people who came from provinces like Sichuan, Henan and other places to report Aishang’s scheme. There were about one to two hundred people at the station. Liu said he heard that police on Oct. 18 took in an Aishang team leader but released him after questioning. Gu Xiaohua and Jiang Feng contributed to the report.
Commentary China’s official mouthpiece Xinhua News Agency revealed on Oct. 11 that Chinese leader Xi Jinping would be visiting Shenzhen city to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Special Economic Zone. Shenzhen is an industrial hub in China’s southern Guangdong Province that links Hong Kong to the mainland. Crisis of Losing the People’s Trust The circumstances surrounding Xi’s southern tour are similar to what former leader Deng Xiaoping encountered when he took the same tour 28 years ago, such as the economic situation and the infighting within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Deng’s southern tour took place after the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen massacre and the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. The CCP was isolated internationally. Western democratic countries generally imposed sanctions on the CCP, and China’s economy was in trouble. At the same time, internal strife in the CCP was ongoing and demands for reform were growing. Xi’s southern tour also coincided with problems at home and abroad. China’s economy is struggling due to the ongoing U.S.-China trade war and the COVID-19 pandemic. On top of that, the international community wants to hold the Chinese regime accountable for covering up the spread of the CCP virus (novel coronavirus) when it first broke out in Wuhan city late last year. The United States and other Western countries have imposed sanctions on Beijing for implementing a national security law in Hong Kong. The mounting pressures have put the interests of CCP officials on the line and intensified the power struggle within the Party. These pressures have also forced the CCP to call on economic reform in order to save itself from the brink of collapse. In this context, will Xi’s southern tour bring about a major turning point in China’s history, just like Deng’s 1992 tour? On Oct. 11, prior to Xi’s tour, the general offices of the Central Committee and the State Council jointly issued a plan that would implement pilot reforms in Shenzhen, turning the city into a “demonstration area of socialism with Chinese characteristics” in the next five years (2020-2025). The document emphasized that the plan was Xi’s brain child and specially prepared as a publicity piece for his southern tour. The document pointed out that the reforms in Shenzhen are to “strengthen the core engine in the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area Function.” This means that the plan will undermine Hong Kong’s metropolis status and eventually replace the city’s international financial status altogether. Another section in the document, in fact, spells it out: “Support qualified foreign financial institutions to initiate the establishment of securities companies and fund management companies in Shenzhen according to law.” However, the reality is that Shenzhen does not have the advantages of Hong Kong’s separate customs territory and free port. Shenzhen’s regulatory system lacks transparency and it is also constrained by the CCP’s foreign exchange control policy. These could all exacerbate Shenzhen’s lack of economic stability during global financial downturns. As the CCP tries to take away Hong Kong’s freedoms and rule of law, people have lost confidence in the free and stable status of the financial hub, which would only reduce the number of foreign investments in Hong Kong and mainland China. The Shenzhen reform plan reflects the CCP’s consistent policy to use “lies to govern all.” It follows the same deceptive Party line whenever the regime is on the brink of collapse. Deng used this same approach 29 years ago on his way down south to Shenzhen when he said, “Only when the economy develops and the people’s livelihood improves, will they believe you. … The basic line of economic construction as the center is not for ten years or twenty years, but one hundred years!” Deng’s speech was an example of the CCP’s strategy of using “lies to govern all” to prevent the regime from crumbling, rather than creating concrete political and systemic reforms. On Oct. 12, Xi addressed a local sector in Chaozhou city, in which he emphasized that China’s technology industry should become more “self-reliant.” This approach is the same as former leader Mao Zedong’s economic strategy of “self-reliance” within a “planned economy.” However, during Xi’s tour in Shantou city on Oct. 13, he talked about “taking the road of reform and opening up,” which was Deng’s approach. Deng opened up China’s economy to global markets (“opening up and reform”) under a socialist market economy in the late 1970’s. Xi’s conflicting statements show that “reform and opening up” is only a stopgap measure. In order to get rid of the crisis within the Party and the situation of being isolated by the international community, Xi calls for reform but it is only to appease both domestic and foreign audiences. It’s also a response in preparation for the upcoming Fifth Plenary Session of the Central Committee this month. Point of No Return On Oct. 14, Xi gave his speech on the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, saying: “Currently, reform is at a new historical juncture, with many unprecedented challenges emerging. So the complexity, sensitivity, and difficulty of pushing forward reform are no smaller than four decades ago.” In tackling the challenges of economic reform, Xi recommended, “Stick to the combination of ‘crossing the river while feeling the stones,’” referencing a phrase attributed to Deng who used it as a metaphor to describe China’s cautious approach towards the reform and opening up and restructuring of its economy at the end of the 1970’s. Why does Xi believe that economic reform will be like “crossing the river while feeling the stones” like 40 years ago? Would the 1.4 billion Chinese in the mainland willingly go along with it and take risks? Xi’s talk in Shenzhen indicates that there is no solution to China’s current economic difficulties. In this context, “reform and opening up” is again exploited as a political slogan to fool those who toe the Party line and to hide the Party’s deepest fear of demise. Huidong Zhang was a general manager at Rightway China Real Estate in Dalian, Liaoning Province. He earned a master’s degree in business administration and then worked for Dalian Heavy Industry Group Co. Ltd. Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Alexandra Wong, a 64-year-old protester and Hong Kong native, was detained by Chinese authorities in Shenzhen city for taking part in the anti-extradition bill protests in Hong Kong last year. Within 14 months, she was sent to detention centers and was placed under house arrest. After her release, Wong returned to Hong Kong in early October. Hong Kong has been rocked by tumultuous protests against the Chinese regime since millions took to the streets in June 2019 to oppose a since-scrapped extradition bill. Following a two-week quarantine, Wong held a press conference on Oct. 17, along with Eddie Chu, a former member of the Legislative Council (LegCo) of Hong Kong, and Fernando Cheung, current member of LegCo. Wong shared her story about being detained by mainland police for taking part in anti-extradition bill protests in Hong Kong in 2019. On the early morning of Aug. 14, 2019, when Wong was on her way home after joining a demonstration at the Hong Kong airport, she was stopped by authorities at the Shenzhen border crossing. She was living in Shenzhen at that time. Shenzhen is located in Guangdong Province, just across the border from Hong Kong. Two protesters are arrested by the police in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, on July 1, 2020. (Song Bilung/The Epoch Times) Wong was transferred to the local police station where she waited for seven hours before being interrogated by four different police teams. She said all their questions centered around her anti-extradition bill protest activities in Hong Kong. They showed photos that they took of her at demonstrations. They inquired about her connections to certain organizations and individuals, including members of LegCo. Wong said the interrogation lasted for 100 hours and she barely slept for the first two days and two nights. The police also searched her home and took some personal belongings that they would use as so-called evidence to incriminate her. Wong was ordered to sign a document, stating that she agreed to a 15-day administrative detention and that she would not appeal to a higher court. She was then transferred to the Futian District Detention Center in Shenzhen. At the end of her detention, Wong received a document, but it wasn’t a release form as she had expected. Instead, it was a document that stated she was being charged for an unspecified crime. Wong asked the police about the criminal charge, but was only told that she did not have the right to know. After asking repeatedly, the police finally said that her crime was “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”—a vague charge often used to detain dissidents in China. Wong was then transferred to the Shenzhen Third Detention Center at the end of August that same year. Sixteen Inmates Share a Tiny Cell The conditions were inhumane at the Shenzhen Third Detention Center, according to Wong’s account. Wong shared a prison cell that was less than 200 square feet with 15 other inmates. There was a bathroom in the center of the room that was less than 100 square feet, and was equipped with two extra large video cameras that faced the shower. The inmates had no privacy. They were also monitored by male prison guards. The food was monotonous and unappetizing. Under such stressful conditions, Wong’s health began to deteriorate and she suffered from high blood pressure. Police guards stand in a hallway inside the No.1 Detention Center during a government guided tour in Beijing on Oct. 25, 2012. (Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images) Forced to Make a Video and Look Happy Before being released, Wong had to take a five-day “patriotic trip” to Shangluo city, Shaanxi Province, where she once did volunteer work for a poverty relief program in 2004. She also had to sign a “statement of repentance.” Wong was forced to appear in a short video, saying that she had not been mistreated by Chinese authorities. She promised to stop joining Hong Kong demonstrations and not to hold up the British national flag (as she usually did at protest sites), nor contact journalists. She was forced to hold the Chinese flag while smiling in front of the camera. Upon her release, Wong noted that her alleged crime of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” was not documented in the release forms. Wong was kept under house arrest and not allowed to leave Shenzhen for one year. Fight to the End for Hong Kong’s Freedoms At the press conference, Wong said that she would fight to the end for Hong Kong’s democracy and freedoms. “I’m a Hong Kong local. I was born here and grew up here. This is my hometown. I’d rather die on this soil if I have to,” she added. Wong also voiced concern for the 12 Hong Kong youths who are currently detained in Shenzhen. The group was caught by Chinese authorities as they were crossing the South China Sea en route to Taiwan, in a bid to obtain political asylum there. Eddie Chu said that Wong has always been a peaceful protester and believes that her rights as a Hong Kong citizen were seriously violated by authorities in the mainland. He also said it was right for Hongkongers to stand up against the extradition bill. If the bill was passed, it would have allowed Beijing to seek extradition of anyone wanted by the Chinese regime. Hongkongers and human rights activists fear that this would permit China’s opaque judicial system to charge dissidents with impunity.
The southern Chinese city of Shenzhen ordered all residents to prepare emergency supplies in 72 categories, such as enough food and water for 72 hours and a fire blanket, on Oct. 13. China’s Emergency Management Ministry and several municipal governments, such as Beijing and Tianjin, issued similar orders last month, but the news didn’t attract attention. Shenzhen made its announcement on the same day that Chinese leader Xi Jinping told troops to focus on preparing for war, fueling concerns that Beijing was getting ready for a conflict. Chinese leader Xi Jinping visited marine troops stationed in Chaozhou city, about 220 miles away from Shenzhen and also in Guangdong Province, and told them “to put all your thoughts and energies on preparing a war, and remain on high alert.” Shenzhen and Chaozhou are located to the west of Taiwan. On Oct. 18, Hong Kong-based newspaper South China Morning Post quoted a Beijing-based military source that the PLA (People’s Liberation Army, official name of Chinese military) had deployed its most advanced missile, the DF-17, to the country’s southeast coast in preparation of a possible future invasion of Taiwan. The Chinese regime considers Taiwan a part of its territory, despite the island being a de-facto nation state with its own democratically-elected government, military, and currency. Beijing has threatened to use military force to bring the island under its fold. Chinese paramilitary police take part in training exercises in Shenzhen, southern China’s Guangdong Province on June 5, 2017. (STR/AFP via Getty Images) Shenzhen The Shenzhen city government announced on Oct. 13 that the emergency supplies list was for residents to prepare for natural disasters. It gave residents two lists, one for “basic needs” and one for “complete needs.” The former list contains 14 categories, including a flashlight with a manual hand crank generator, which can be used to charge cell phones; a breathing mask; emergency fire escape ladder; enough food and water for 72 hours; first aid kit, medicines, a raincoat that can be used as tent; multifunction scissors, and so on. The latter has 72 categories, which include more tools, as well as one’s ID, passport, property’s ownership license, cash, and an SOS card that is written in English, in case one needs to seek help from foreigners. Chinese paramilitary police ride in trucks and an armoured personnel carrier during a ‘show of force’ ceremony in Urumqi, northwestern China’s Xinjiang Province on June 29, 2013. (MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images) Military Rhetoric U.S.-based China affairs commentator Tang Jingyuan analyzed that the Shenzhen announcement was likely part of a propaganda strategy to intimidate Taiwan. “It is a part of Xi Jinping’s propaganda strategy on ‘unifying Taiwan by force,’” said Tang in a phone interview. Tang added that it’s unlikely that Beijing would start a conflict, as the Chinese regime is facing political challenges. “Politically, Xi is facing major challenges from different factions within the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese economy is in very bad shape. Taiwan has the support of the U.S., Japan, and several other developed countries, so China won’t have a stronger military force than Taiwan and its allies.” U.S.-based Chinese democracy activist and scholar Wang Juntao told the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times in an interview that he believed Xi would not start a conflict in the Taiwan Strait war in the near future, but could do it before 2027. Wang’s father was formerly a major general-ranking officer at China’s National Defense University. Wang has insider sources within the military. “About half of the PLA senior commanders were promoted to current positions from non-combat forces in recent years, so they are not capable of commanding a real war right now,” Wang said. “Secondly, a large number of PLA weapons are newly deployed ones, such as J-20 fighters. Soldiers need time to be trained on how to use these weapons.”
Chinese leader Xi Jinping returned to the capital shortly after delivering a speech in southern China on Oct. 14, during which he was continually coughing. Xi’s coughing, coupled with the unusual harried departure, triggered speculation among overseas Chinese-language media about his health condition and whether he could have had COVID-19. Leaving Quietly Xi visited Guangdong Province from Oct. 12 to Oct. 14. On official trips, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) senior leaders normally do not announce their itineraries in advance. But it is typical for senior leaders to visit local officials and receive a report from them in person on the last day of the trip. On Oct. 12 early morning, state-run media Xinhua announced that Xi would visit the southern city of Shenzhen, in Guangdong Province, on Wednesday. Chinese state-run media initially reported about Xi’s activities as they occurred. Citing insiders, Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily reported that Xi planned to visit nearby Guangzhou city after giving the Shenzhen speech, in order to visit the offices and factories of major tech companies. But after Xi’s speech on Wednesday morning, state media kept silent. The following day, media reports reviewed Xi’s Guangdong trip. Since media did not report on Xi listening to local officials’ report, it suggested that Xi had already went back to Beijing. During Xi’s previous three visits to Guangdong since becoming Party leader, he had met with local officials to receive their report on the last day of his trip. Analysis U.S.-based China affairs commentator Yang Wei pointed out that such meetings with local officials are politically important, because they are usually a chance for officials to express their loyalty to Xi in person. “Not only officials from Guangzhou and Shenzhen, Party bosses and governors from nearby provinces would also likely join the meeting, such as Fujian, Guangxi, and Jiangxi provinces,” Yang said. The Party will hold its Fifth Plenary Session on Oct. 26, which is a key conference to discuss the Party leader successor, the next five-year plan, as well as officials’ promotions. Due to the timing, Xi likely would have wanted to solidify his underlings’ loyalty with such a meeting. So, it is highly unusual that Xi did not hold such a meeting in his latest Guangdong trip. Many media outlets and Chinese internet personalities based outside China began speculating whether the early departure had to do with Xi’s health condition. Others speculated that Xi could have been concerned about contracting COVID-19 due to a local outbreak. In Guangzhou, the Huadu district health commission announced on Oct. 16 that one of its residents was infected with the disease on Oct. 15. The wild speculation appears to have prompted a response from Beijing. Also on Oct. 16, state media reported that Xi hosted a meeting in Beijing with the Politburo, a body of the Party’s 25 most powerful officials. According to Xinhua, the Politburo discussed a Chengdu-Chongqing dual-city development plan and quantum technology. Commentator Yang wrote in a commentary that given the lack of the meeting’s political importance, the event was likely to show the public that he has no health problems. “That way, it will appear that his Guangdong trip was cut short to attend a more important meeting in Beijing. However, [based on the media report,] the meeting didn’t discuss key issues or make important decisions,” Yang wrote.
Both foreign and domestic observers questioned the health of Chinese dictator Xi Jinping on Thursday when a televised speech was interrupted by violent coughing fits and he canceled the remainder of an important tour of southern China. Taiwan News reported Xi’s speech was “inexplicably delayed” for over 12 hours, and when he finally delivered his address, he “spoke at an unusually