John Cena, the professional wrestler and a star of “F9,” the latest installment in the “Fast and Furious” franchise, apologized to fans in China on Tuesday after he referred to Taiwan as a country while giving a promotional interview.
Joining a long list of celebrities and companies that have profusely apologized after taking an errant step through China’s political minefields, Mr. Cena posted a video apology in Mandarin on Weibo, a Chinese social network.
Beijing considers Taiwan, a self-ruled democratic island, to be a breakaway province and claims it as part of China. Referring to it as a country is often an offensive assertion in China, where matters of sovereignty and territory are passionate issues driven by a strong sense of nationalism.
Mr. Cena apologized for a statement he made in an interview with the Taiwanese broadcaster TVBS. In it, he told the reporter in Mandarin, “Taiwan is the first country that can watch” the film.
Xinjiang, pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong or the status of Taiwan and Tibet.
a fierce backlash when Daryl Morey, then the general manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted in support of the Hong Kong protests in 2019. (LeBron James, one of basketball’s biggest stars, offered a China-friendly response, saying Mr. Morey “wasn’t educated on the situation at hand” by supporting the protesters.)
Movie studios often preemptively ensure their content won’t run afoul of Chinese censors, a practice once mocked by “South Park.”
But quite often, the political problems arise in cases where a company appeared to have no idea it was accidentally crossing a line.
That list would include Gap, which in 2018 created a T-shirt that omitted Taiwan, parts of Tibet and islands in the South China Sea from a map of China on the shirt’s design. The luxury brands Versace, Givenchy and Coach said in 2019 they all made mistakes when they produced T-shirts that identified Hong Kong and Macau as countries.
“Versace reiterates that we love China deeply, and resolutely respect China’s territory and national sovereignty,” the company said in a statement at the time.
China ordered 36 airlines to remove references to Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong as separate countries on their websites in 2018, a step the Trump administration dismissed as “Orwellian nonsense.”
That year, Marriott clarified on its Weibo account that it “will absolutely not support any separatist organization that will undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” after a customer survey listed the territories as separate countries.
Mercedes-Benz Instagram account quoted the Dalai Lama, whom many in China view as a dangerous separatist advocating Tibetan independence.
The release of “F9” was delayed for a year during the coronavirus pandemic. It drew an estimated $162 million in tickets in eight international markets, including China and South Korea, over the weekend. As the newest film in a hugely successful series, “F9” is seen by Hollywood as the kind of blockbuster needed to draw people back to theaters.
Amy Chang Chien contributed reporting from Taipei, and Claire Fu from Beijing.
Movie theaters in China are being ordered to screen patriotic films with titles like “The Sacrifice” and “The Red Sun.” Elementary students in some cities are being told to create paintings and calligraphy extolling the “Chinese dream.” Buses and subways are broadcasting nationalistic messages about revolutionary heroes.
China’s Communist Party is gearing up for a patriotic extravaganza to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding on July 1. Officials are going into overdrive to make sure commemorations go off without a hitch — and hammer home the message that the party alone can restore China to what Beijing considers the country’s rightful place as a global power.
While much of the focus will be on the past, the party’s centenary will have significant repercussions for China’s future. The celebrations will give China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, a forum to present himself as a transformative figure on par with Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. Mr. Xi, 67, is maneuvering to stay in power indefinitely, an effort that appears to have taken on greater urgency as a new American president builds alliances to curb Beijing’s influence.
“We need to educate and guide the whole party to vigorously carry forward the red tradition,” Mr. Xi said during a recent conference call with political leaders about the centenary, according to People’s Daily, an official newspaper.
trumpet China’s strength in a pandemic-ravaged world and justify the party’s increasingly tight grip on daily life in China.
The news media is devoting special coverage to China’s battles against extreme poverty and corruption. Universities are putting on plays about young lovers killed in the 1920s for their Communist activism, and state-run theaters are resurrecting Mao-era operas.
offering a perk for residents eager to show their love for the party ahead of its big birthday: a free wedding ceremony in June for 100 couples (hotel, makeup and dresses included). The party’s more than 91 million members receive priority. Recently married couples can apply.
Yan Dianjian, an official in Nanjing, said in a telephone interview that the ceremony was meant to “send a tribute” to the party on its birthday. He said party slogans had inspired several themes for the event, including a play on one of Mr. Xi’s hallmark phrases, “Always remember your original mission. Love follows.”
strengthen public loyalty and fortify its control of society.
Mr. Xi has long warned that Communist rule could disintegrate if the party does not assert control across society, including the private sector, schools and the news media. Party organs at the national and local levels are hosting study sessions on party history for cadres. Chinese military officials say they are using the centenary to “forge absolute loyalty” to the party and Mr. Xi.
prove democracy works,” has sought to bring an alliance of countries together to counter China’s hardening authoritarianism. Many Chinese officials and scholars believe the United States is trying to thwart China’s rise.
“No person and no force can stop the march of the Chinese people toward better lives,” says an official slogan for the centenary.
The party aims to seize on the anniversary to make the case for the party’s continued leadership in the 21st century, said David Bandurski, co-director of the China Media Project, a research program affiliated with the University of Hong Kong.
“There is clearly an effort to make a strong emotional appeal for unity around the party in order to propel China’s development and its rise as a global power,” Mr. Bandurski said.
political fortunes of Mr. Xi, one of China’s most influential leaders in recent history. Mr. Xi is moving closer to claiming a third five-year term at a party congress next year. In 2018, the party cleared the way for Mr. Xi to stay in power indefinitely, abolishing term limits that had served as a check on leaders after Mao and Deng.
Minning Town,” a popular series that depicts the party’s poverty alleviation work in Ningxia, a region in northwest China.
The government has instructed thousands of movie theaters across the country to screen propaganda films at least twice a week until the end of the year. Local officials are expected to mobilize party members and others to attend the screenings to “enhance their social impact,” according to a notice issued by China’s National Film Administration.
Local governments, facing pressure from Beijing, are working feverishly to add party-themed activities to the calendar. Businesses are signing up employees for extracurricular lessons on party history and visits to famous revolutionary sites.
“I’m tired to death,” wrote a commenter on Weibo, a popular social media site. “I won’t have any time of my own by the end of April. This centenary of the party’s founding is so troublesome.”
Hong Kong said it would ban flights from India, Pakistan and the Philippines for two weeks starting on Tuesday after detecting its first local case involving a variant of the coronavirus.
A man who tested positive on Friday, after returning from Dubai and then completing his mandatory 21 days of quarantine, is the Asian financial hub’s first case outside quarantine found to carry the N501Y spike mutation. This change appears to help the virus bind to cells and occurs in several variants that have spread rapidly around the world, including B.1.1.7, first detected in Britain.
On Sunday, a friend the man had stayed with after quarantine also tested positive for the virus, with a preliminary positive for the N501Y mutation. Though other residents of the building tested negative, the authorities ordered about 80 of them to quarantine at a government facility.
The N501Y mutation has been a focus of the Chinese territory’s efforts to keep out coronavirus variants: The India, Pakistan and Philippines travel bans came under a policy announced last Wednesday blocking flights from any country whose Hong Kong arrivals yielded more than five positive tests for the mutation within seven days. In the neighboring Chinese territory of Macau, the quarantine requirement for arrivals from India, Pakistan and the Philippines was extended on Monday to 28 days from 21.
Hong Kong already requires negative test results before boarding and upon arrival before travelers are allowed to settle into their quarantine hotels. Out of the 175 new coronavirus cases reported in Hong Kong over the past two weeks, 132 of them were classified as imported.
Over the course of the book, Ms. Woolever never makes the claim that the guide is comprehensive — and the end result does feel incomplete and unbalanced. The countries of Ghana, Ireland and Lebanon get three pages apiece; the United States gets nearly 100. There is a chapter on Macau, but nothing on Indonesia or Thailand. These are somewhat predictable shortcomings, dependent as the book is on voice-over transcripts spanning decades and the impossible task of stringing them together across time.
Some of the inclusions feel at odds with Mr. Bourdain’s avoid-the-tourists approach to travel, as well. In the Tokyo section, recommendations include the Park Hyatt hotel (made famous by “Lost in Translation,”); Sukiyabashi Jiro, the restaurant at the center of the documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”; the bizarre kitsch-fest that is the Robot Restaurant; and a bar in the tourist-clogged Golden Gai neighborhood. These may be all appealing attractions to a first-timer in Tokyo, but there is nothing in that selection that you wouldn’t find at the top of an algorithm-generated TripAdvisor list.
When I asked Ms. Woolever about these recommendations, she agreed they were perhaps obvious choices, but said Mr. Bourdain wanted to include them because of how much they meant to him, after so many visits to the city. “He wasn’t always (or, arguably, ever) about cool for cool’s sake, or obscurity as its own reward,” she said in an email.
If it’s a guide they are after though, travelers may be left wanting. In Cambodia, you get recommendations for three hotels, two markets for dining and a suggestion to check out the temples of Angkor Wat, the country’s most famous attraction by a long shot. It isn’t exactly the list of hole-in-the-wall spots with no addresses that fans of Mr. Bourdain may be hoping for. What those fans will find though is Mr. Bourdain’s word-for-word rant against American military involvement in Cambodia (“Once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands.”) Having those passages — the no-holds-barred monologues that were a hallmark of his television shows — in one place might be the book’s greatest strength.
Over the decades that Mr. Bourdain spent traveling the world, there was a lot of talk of the “Bourdain Effect”: how a culinary gem, previously only frequented by those in the know, could be “ruined” by being included in his show. When I asked Ms. Woolever whether she thought this book could amplify that effect, she emphasized that most business owners knew what they were in for when approached by producers. “People call it the ‘Bourdain Effect,’ but Tony didn’t invent it,” she said. “It’s something that business owners have to weigh out for themselves.”
As I read the book, I was thinking of a different Bourdain Effect, one that feels more vital than ever right now, as travel begins to take its first baby steps back after a year of lockdowns. Seeing so much of Anthony Bourdain’s work in one place and being able to compare his impressions country-by-country in a tightly packed medium, makes it easier to see what he stood for. A traveling philosophy emerges: his utter disdain for stereotypes, his undying commitment to challenging his own preconceptions, his humility in the face of generosity.
Because of tragic circumstances following its inception, “World Travel” may feel more like an anthology of greatest hits than a new, original guidebook. But read cover to cover, country by country, it is an enduring embodiment of Anthony Bourdain’s love for the whole world and a reminder of how to stack our priorities the next time we’re able to follow in his footsteps.
HONG KONG — The most popular reward for hiking to the top of Fu Shan, a hill near Hong Kong’s westernmost point, is a selfie backed by the setting sun, the gleaming new bridge across the Pearl River or a flight landing at the nearby airport.
But for those who look more closely, there is the chance of a rarer prize: a glimpse of Chinese white dolphins swimming among fishing boats and cargo ships in the milky jade water.
“It’s amazing that Hong Kong still has this kind of rare animal,” said Michelle Chan, as she watched from Fu Shan on a recent day.
On the water below, a half-dozen tourist boats from the nearby fishing village of Tai O surrounded a single white dolphin. People cheered as it breached.
a report by 15 conservation groups and regional universities, as pollution, marine traffic and large-scale land reclamation projects have made the environment increasingly hostile.
coronavirus pandemic, however, has spurred some hope that the dolphins could find respite. Regional travel restrictions led to the suspension of high-speed ferries that crossed the Pearl River Delta between Hong Kong and Macau, a few times each hour, curbing one key threat to the animals.
“All vessel traffic is an issue, but high-speed ferries are a particular issue,” said Laurence McCook, head of oceans conservation for the WWF-Hong Kong. “They move so fast there’s a risk of vessel strike, but they also just physically disturb the dolphins because the dolphins run away from them.”
With the ferry suspension, dolphins are getting a little peace in one of their most favored areas in the region.
“What we have documented fairly clearly is that dolphins are moving back out into the ferry zone,” Mr. McCook said. “That actually is their most prime habitat under current circumstances.”
Still, the increased visibility of the white dolphins in places like the waters off Fu Shan is most likely the result of them being freer to use parts of their preferred territory rather than a sign that their numbers are rebounding, researchers say.
established a marine park to compensate for the loss of habitat, but dolphins have been slow to return, most likely because work continues in the area on a new runway.
“Every time we have a project like the bridge,” Mr. Ho said, “they set up a marine park as some kind of compensation. But we think it’s too late.”
On one recent survey trip, the first dolphin the team identified was number WL79, which Mr. Ho quickly identified by the V-shaped notch near its tail, the result of getting tangled in a fishing line or net.
“If we identify individuals, we can follow their life history — where they like to hang around, whether they have calves,” he said. “This is important, because one of the worries is reproductive rate of dolphins is quite low. To keep the population healthy, we want to see calves. But that’s not happening in Hong Kong.”
Newborn dolphins are gray in color and gradually lighten as they get older, their darker parts becoming distinct spots. Some become completely unspotted. They stay with their mothers for three to four years, but sometimes as long as eight or nine years, and typically live into their 30s.
Soon after the team spots another adult, WL168, identified by a large scar on its back. This one has also been seen near Macau, another Chinese territory 15 miles to the southwest, an indication of how local populations are not bound by political boundaries.
The dolphins eat a variety of fish, including gray mullet and lion head fish, the same sort of food, notes Mr. Ho, that appears in markets around Hong Kong. The overfishing of such species adds to the threats to dolphins, as does pollution from various sources including agricultural and industrial waste, urban runoff, discharge from ships and marine plastics.
Researchers also worry that dolphin viewing boats further stress the mammals, particularly those that race out from Tai O for a 20-minute, $25 trip.
Conservations groups say they hope the benefits of the ferry suspension will encourage regional governments and ferry companies to reconsider routes across the Pearl River. By traveling somewhat farther south, they could bypass key areas of dolphin habitat along Lantau, Hong Kong’s largest island. Such a move would only add a few minutes to the trip, they say.
It would, of course, ease just one of the many threats the dolphins are facing.
“Rerouting the ferries is not a magic cure-all,” Mr. McCook said. “But we think that can help us catalyze other actions and demonstrate it’s not a fait accompli that we lose the dolphins.”
Last week, calls for the cancellation of H&M and other Western brands went out across Chinese social media as human rights campaigns collided with cotton sourcing and political gamesmanship. Here’s what you need to know about what’s going on and how it may affect everything from your T-shirts to your trench coats.
What’s all this I’m hearing about fashion brands and China? Did someone make another dumb racist ad?
No, it’s much more complicated than an offensive and obvious cultural faux pas. The issue centers on the Xinjiang region of China and allegations of forced labor in the cotton industry — allegations denied by the Chinese government. Last summer, many Western brands issued statements expressing concerns about human rights in their supply chain. Some even cut ties with the region all together.
Now, months later, the chickens are coming home to roost: Chinese netizens are reacting with fury, charging the allegations are an offense to the state. Leading Chinese e-commerce platforms have kicked major international labels off their sites, and a slew of celebrities have denounced their former foreign employers.
growing political and economic implications. On the one hand, as the pandemic continues to roil global retail, consumers have become more attuned to who makes their clothes and how they are treated, putting pressure on brands to put their values where their products are. One the other, China has become an evermore important sales hub to the fashion industry, given its scale and the fact that there is less disruption there than in other key markets, like Europe. Then, too, international politicians are getting in on the act, imposing bans and sanctions. Fashion has become a diplomatic football.
This is a perfect case study of what happens when market imperatives come up against global morality.
Tell me more about Xinjiang and why it is so important.
Xinjiang is a region in northwest China that happens to produce about a fifth of the world’s cotton. It is home to many ethnic groups, especially the Uyghurs, a Muslim minority. Though it is officially the largest of China’s five autonomous regions, which in theory means it has more legislative self-control, the central government has been increasingly involved in the area, saying it must exert its authority because of local conflicts with the Han Chinese (the ethnic majority) who have been moving into the region. This has resulted in draconian restrictions, surveillance, criminal prosecutions and forced-labor camps.
OK, and what about the Uyghurs?
A predominantly Muslim Turkic group, the Uyghur population within Xinjiang numbers just over 12 million, according to official figures released by Chinese authorities. As many as one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities have been retrained to become model workers, obedient to the Chinese Communist Party via coercive labor programs.
The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Axios and others published reports that connected Uyghurs in forced detention to the supply chains of many of the world’s best-known fashion retailers, including Adidas, Lacoste, H&M, Ralph Lauren and the PVH Corporation, which owns Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, many of those brands reassessed their relationships with Xinjiang-based cotton suppliers.
banned all imports of cotton from the region, as well as products made from the material and declared what was happening “genocide.” At the time, the Workers Rights Consortium estimated that material from Xinjiang was involved in more than 1.5 billion garments imported annually by American brands and retailers.
That’s a lot! How do I know if I am wearing a garment made from Xinjiang cotton?
You don’t. The supply chain is so convoluted and subcontracting so common that often it’s hard for brands themselves to know exactly where and how every component of their garments is made.
So if this has been an issue for over a year, why is everyone in China freaking out now?
It isn’t immediately clear. One theory is that it is because of the ramp-up in political brinkmanship between China and the West. On March 22, Britain, Canada, the European Union and the United States announced sanctions on Chinese officials in an escalating row over the treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
Not long after, screenshots from a statement posted in September 2020 by H&M citing “deep concerns” about reports of forced labor in Xinjiang, and confirming that the retailer had stopped buying cotton from growers in the region, began circulating on Chinese social media. The fallout was fast and furious. There were calls for a boycott, and H&M products were soon missing from China’s most popular e-commerce platforms, Alibaba Group’s Tmall and JD.com. The furor was stoked by comments on the microblogging site Sina Weibo from groups like the Communist Youth League, an influential Communist Party organization.
Within hours, other big Western brands like Nike and Burberry began trending for the same reason.
And it’s not just consumers who are up in arms: Influencers and celebrities have also been severing ties with the brands. Even video games are bouncing virtual “looks” created by Burberry from their platforms.
one second (there were 100 made). That’s why H&M worked with Victoria Song, Nike with Wang Yibo and Burberry with Zhou Dongyu.
But Chinese influencers and celebrities are also sensitive to pleasing the central government and publicly affirming their national values, often performatively choosing their country over contracts.
In 2019, for example, Yang Mi, the Chinese actress and a Versace ambassador, publicly repudiated the brand when it made the mistake of creating a T-shirt that listed Hong Kong and Macau as independent countries, seeming to dismiss the “One China” policy and the central government’s sovereignty. Not long afterward, Coach was targeted after making a similar mistake, creating a tee that named Hong Kong and Taiwan separately; Liu Wen, the Chinese supermodel, immediately distanced herself from the brand.
Tencent removed two Burberry-designed “skins” — outfits worn by video game characters that the brand had introduced with great fanfare — from its popular title Honor of Kings as a response to news that the brand had stopped buying cotton produced in the Xinjiang region. The looks had been available for less than a week.
So this is hitting both fast fashion and the high end. How much of the fashion world is involved?
Potentially, most of it. So far Adidas, Nike, Converse and Burberry have all been swept up in the crisis. Even before the ban, additional companies like Patagonia, PVH, Marks & Spencer and the Gap had announced that they did not source material from Xinjiang and had officially taken a stance against human rights abuses.
removed their policies against forced labor from their websites.
That seems squirrelly. Is this likely to escalate?
Brands seem to be concerned that the answer is yes, since, apparently fearful of offending the Chinese government, some companies have proactively announced that they will continue buying cotton from Xinjiang. Hugo Boss, the German company whose suiting is a de facto uniform for the financial world, posted a statement on Weibo saying, “We will continue to purchase and support Xinjiang cotton” (even though last fall the company had announced it was no longer sourcing from the region). Muji, the Japanese brand, is also proudly touting its use of Xinjiang cotton on its Chinese websites, as is Uniqlo.
Wait … I get playing possum, but why would a company publicly pledge its allegiance to Xinjiang cotton?
It’s about the Benjamins, buddy. According to a report from Bain & Company released last December, China is expected to be the world’s largest luxury market by 2025. Last year it was the only part of the world to report year on year growth, with the luxury market reaching 44 billion euros ($52.2 billion).
Is anyone going to come out of this well?
One set of winners could be the Chinese fashion industry, which has long played second fiddle to Western brands, to the frustration of many businesses there. Shares in Chinese apparel groups and textile companies with ties to Xinjiang rallied this week as the backlash gained pace. And more than 20 Chinese brands publicly made statements touting their support for Chinese cotton.
Hong Kong on Wednesday suspended use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine after packaging defects ranging from cracked containers to loose caps were discovered in one batch of doses, in a major blow to a city already struggling in its campaign to inoculate its seven million residents against Covid-19.
Health officials called the halt a precaution, saying that none of the defective vials had been administered to patients and that they had found no health risks. But if the suspension persists, the Chinese territory may not have enough shots to protect its population while the coronavirus continues to spread. Hong Kong officials were counting on 7.5 million doses of the vaccine, developed by Pfizer of the United States and BioNTech of Germany, to help fill their needs.
The discovery has also unleashed a hunt for the origin of the defects, as well as questions about whether more might be out there. The doses were manufactured at BioNTech’s facilities in Germany, while a Chinese company called Fosun Pharma was in charge of transporting, storing and distributing the shots in Hong Kong.
“I’m confused as to why this is being reported for the first time in Hong Kong and we haven’t heard about it elsewhere,” said Benjamin Cowling, the division head of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Hong Kong.
poll of 2,733 residents showed that only 39 percent of Hong Kong residents were willing to take a Covid-19 vaccine.
“There are some important risks here that this will further undermine confidence in the vaccines that are available,” said Karen Grépin, an associate professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Hong Kong, who got the BioNTech shot on March 12.
Professor Grépin said that many Hong Kong residents had been waiting to see what the early stages of the rollout would look like before deciding on taking a vaccine.
The suspension sent a ripple of uncertainty through the city’s clinics and medical offices, as vaccinations shuddered to a halt.
rounded up for quarantine.
It is unclear how soon concerns about the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be cleared up or how quickly Hong Kong can make up for the shortfall. The city has also ordered 7.5 million vaccine doses from the British-Swedish company AstraZeneca, which are set to arrive in the second quarter. The company has not yet applied for approval of its vaccine in Hong Kong.
However quickly the problem is resolved, confusion has been sown.
Ruby Callaghan Brown, 32, and her husband arrived at a vaccination center on the eastern side of Hong Kong Island at 7:45 a.m. on Wednesday,15 minutes before it opened. A staff member shooed them away, saying all vaccinations had been stopped and that an announcement was coming.
Then they read online that the center had reopened, so they returned. Theywere about to submit their paperwork when they were told once again that vaccinations were suspended.
They waited 45 minutes before leaving. “I thought, ‘I’m just going to sit here until they change their mind,’” she said.