The Great Wall of Culture
David Gilbert, VICE NEWS
The Chinese government is recruiting 20,000 people to create an online encyclopedia that will be the country’s own, China-centric version of Wikipedia, or as one official put it, like “a Great Wall of culture.” Known as the “Chinese Encyclopedia,” the country’s national encyclopedia will go online for the first time in 2018, and the government has employed tens of thousands of scholars from universities and research institutes who will contribute articles in more than 100 disciplines. The end result will be a knowledge base with more than 300,000 entries, each of which will be about 1,000 words long. The need for an online reference encyclopedia is in part a result of the Chinese government blocking access to Wikipedia.
Hong Kong Museum of 1989 Tiananmen Massacre Reopens Ahead of Anniversary
RADIO FREE ASIA
A Hong Kong museum commemorating the 1989 student-led democracy movement in China, and the military crackdown on unarmed civilians that ended weeks of protest on the night of June 3, has opened its doors once more, despite being forced to close amid growing political pressure two years ago. Located in an 800-square-foot office space in Kowloon, the June 4 Memorial Museum was forced out of its current premises following a lengthy legal dispute with the building’s landlords, which the organizers believe was politically motivated. It opened on Sunday, and will offer a temporary exhibit through June 15. Hong Kong is the only Chinese city that still holds regular memorial events for the victims of the massacre, including a mass candlelight vigil in downtown Victoria Park.
Protester Disrupts Start of Cuba’s Annual May Day Parade
Michael Weissenstein, ASSOCIATED PRESS
A protester briefly disrupted the start of Cuba’s largest annual political event on Monday, sprinting in front of May Day marchers and brandishing a US flag before he was dragged away. Communist Party Leader Raúl Castro watched along with other military and civilian leaders and foreign dignitaries as the man broke through security and ran ahead of the tens of thousands in the pro-government march. Wearing a Cuban flag T-shirt and gripping the Stars and Stripes above his head, he stayed ahead of two similarly dressed security agents until he was swarmed by other officials and tripped over his own feet. Two of the guards shouted “Long live Raúl!” and “Long live Fidel!” One struck the protester in the face as he was carried past reporters. The protest was a surprising breach of security at a government-organized event where agents line the route of the march.
How North Korea’s Political Ideology Became a De-facto Religion
Antonia Blumberg, HUFFINGTON POST
On Tuesday, the highly insular North Korea conducted a massive artillery drill to mark the foundation of its military as tensions with the United States continued to escalate. Like many aspects of North Korea’s political and economic systems, its military came into being under the late president Kim Il-sung. Born into a Christian family during a time of Japanese colonial rule in Korea, Kim rose to power with a vision of an isolated, almost hermit-like independence for his fledgling country. It was under Kim that the political ideology of “juche”―a guiding philosophy that places commitment to the state above all else―took hold in the 1950s and solidified in subsequent decades. Juche’s pervading influence on civic life explains why freedoms of any sort, including religion, are scarce in a nation that treats its current and past leaders as heroes of mythic proportion.
As Economy Grows, North Korea’s Grip on Society is Tested
Choe Sang-hun, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Despite decades of sanctions and international isolation, the economy in North Korea is showing surprising signs of life. Scores of marketplaces have opened in cities across the country since the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, took power five years ago. A growing class of merchants and entrepreneurs is thriving under the protection of ruling party officials. Pyongyang has seen a construction boom, and there are now enough cars on its once-empty streets for some residents to make a living washing them. Reliable economic data is scarce. But recent defectors, regular visitors and economists who study the country say nascent market forces are beginning to reshape North Korea—a development that complicates efforts to curb Mr. Kim’s nuclear ambitions.
Trump: I’d Be “Honored” to Meet Kim Jong-un Under “Right Circumstances”
Jeremy Diamond and Zachary Chohen, CNN
President Donald Trump said Monday he would be willing to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “under the right circumstances” to defuse tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program. “If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it,” Trump told Bloomberg News in an interview Monday. “If it’s under the, again, under the right circumstances. But I would do that.” No sitting US president has ever met with the leader of North Korea while in power, and the idea is extremely controversial. White House press secretary Sean Spicer, however, said later on Monday that the US would first need to see changes in North Korean behavior before a potential sit-down.
Arizona Woman Discovers Note from “Chinese prisoner” in Purse Bought at Walmart
A woman in Arizona said she made a stunning discovery inside a new purse she bought at a Walmart: a note apparently written by a desperate prisoner in China. Wallace had a Chinese-speaking person translate the note to English. The letter read: “Inmates in the Yingshan Prison in Guangxi, China are working 14 hours daily with no break/rest at noon, continue working overtime until 12 midnight, and whoever doesn’t finish his work will be beaten. Their meals are without oil and salt. Every month, the boss pays the inmate 2000 yuan, any additional dishes will be finished by the police. If the inmates are sick and need medicine, the cost will be deducted from the salary. Prison in China is unlike prison in America, horse cow goat pig dog (literally, means inhumane treatment).” Two other people translated the note to make sure the message was accurate, Wallace added.
Venezuela’s Maduro Sees Local Elections Later in 2017
Andrew Cawthorne, REUTERS
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said on Sunday he expected delayed state polls to be held this year. The postponed vote for governors is one of a litany of opposition grievances against Maduro, whom foes accuse of becoming a dictator and wrecking the economy. During his weekly TV program, the 54-year-old socialist leader said gubernatorial elections would happen later this year although the opposition’s real agenda was to topple him with a US-backed coup. The government party controls 20 states, but polls indicate the opposition would now win a majority of the states, given voter anger over the OPEC nation’s brutal recession.
Venezuela’s Maduro Proposes New Congress During May Day Clashes
Andrew Cawthorne and Alexandra Ulmer, REUTERS
Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolás Maduro announced on Monday a vote for a new popular assembly with capacity to re-write the constitution, but foes said it was an attempt to cling to power amid major protests. “I don’t want a civil war,” Maduro told a May Day rally of supporters in downtown Caracas while elsewhere across the city security forces fired tear gas at youths hurling stones and petrol bombs after opposition marches were blocked. Maduro has triggered an article of the constitution that allows for the reformation of all public powers, as his predecessor Hugo Chavez did in 1999 soon after winning office in the South American OPEC nation. “I convoke the original constituent power to achieve the peace needed by the Republic, defeat the fascist coup, and let the sovereign people impose peace, harmony and true national dialogue,” Maduro told red-shirted supporters.