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Hundreds mark third anniversary of Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement
by Staff Writers
Hong Kong (AFP) Sept 28, 2017

Is it a Chinese university... or a giant toilet?
Shanghai (AFP) Sept 27, 2017 - China has another entry when it comes to buildings that look suspiciously like something else -- a 12-storey university block strongly resembling a giant toilet.

Architects have had a field day in China in recent years with a number of outlandish designs springing up across the country.

The latest is a building on the campus of North China University of Water Resources and Electric Power at Zhengzhou in the central province of Henan.

The provincial government spent 86 million yuan ($13 million) on the building, which is for university graduates looking to start their own enterprises, the Henan Daily said.

Despite the name of the university, the building was not thought to have been designed to resemble a toilet.

But internet users have mocked the unofficially named "toilet building", which was completed last year and has an oval annex that could be the toilet bowl attached to a larger rectangular block which critics say looks like the cistern.

"Before it was finished we joked that it was a toilet. And now it is a real toilet building, our university's good name will be spread far and wide," one of its students joked on Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter.

Another Weibo user asked light-heartedly: "Does it make the people inside the building poop?"

The ruling Communist Party last year said it had had enough of "weird" buildings, such as the Beijing headquarters of China Central Television (CCTV), fondly nicknamed "The Big Underpants".

There was also the Beijing HQ of the People's Daily newspaper, which during construction bore an unfortunate resemblance to a giant penis.

Hundreds gathered outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong Thursday to mark the third anniversary of mass pro-democracy rallies known as the Umbrella Movement, as fears grow over Beijing's tightening grip on the city.

Tens of thousands blocked major thoroughfares in the city for 79 days starting September 28, 2014 to call for fully free leadership elections in the city, in a movement spearheaded by student leaders who have since been jailed for their involvement.

Hundreds of people raised yellow umbrellas at 5:58pm (0958 GMT) Thursday as smoke was generated from a machine, to mark the time when police fired teargas at protesters, and audio recordings from three years ago were played on speakers.

"I want universal suffrage, civil disobedience!" crowds shouted.

"There's more younger people coming out, it's a good thing," Anthony Kwok, 52, who attended the event told AFP.

"We must be unified in our next step forward," Kwok, a part-time bartender said.

"In the past years the government propaganda machine has been in overdrive, I don't want my son to only hear one side of the argument," Carmen Yu, 47, who attended Thursday's rally with her child, told AFP.

Crowds also applauded the jailed student leaders.

The face of the movement Joshua Wong, former lawmaker Nathan Law and fellow protest leader Alex Chow were sent to prison in August for their leading role in the initial protest that sparked the Umbrella Movement.

Their jailing has been slammed by international rights groups and politicians and has prompted accusations that the independence of Hong Kong's courts has been compromised under pressure from Beijing.

"Being locked up is an inevitable part of our long, exhausting path to democracy," Joshua Wong wrote from prison for The Guardian newspaper.

"In the past, when we spoke of political detainees under the Chinese Communist party, we were referring to dissidents in mainland China. Yet as Hong Kong ushers in a heightened authoritarian era, to advocate human rights is to risk becoming a political detainee. This is the new normal," Wong added.

Amnesty International said Hong Kong authorities must end prosecutions which were aimed at having a "chilling effect" on the freedom of speech in the city.

The government has vehemently denied there was political interference in the decision by the Court of Appeal to overturn previous non-custodial terms for Wong, Law and Chow.

The court jailed them for six to eight months after a sentencing review brought by the department of justice.

'Sing! China' concert in Taiwan halted amid protests
Taipei (AFP) Sept 25, 2017
A music concert in Taiwan descended into chaos over the weekend when independence activists clashed with pro-China groups, with three people injured in the scuffles. The incident comes amid heightened tensions between the self-ruled island and the mainland since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen took office in May last year, with Beijing cutting off all official communications. The event ... read more

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