Forbidden in China, but Trump skirts ‘Great Firewall’ to tweet about Beijing trip

US President Donald Trump (L) looks up as he sits beside China’s President Xi Jinping during a tour of the Forbidden City in Beijing on Nov. 8, 2017. US President Donald Trump toured the Forbidden City with Chinese leader Xi Jinping as he began the crucial leg of an Asian tour intended to build a global front against North Korea’s nuclear threats. (AFP/Jim Watson)
Updated 09 November 2017
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Forbidden in China, but Trump skirts ‘Great Firewall’ to tweet about Beijing trip

BEIJING: US President Donald Trump went around and over the “Great Firewall” of China in a late-night tweet in Beijing as he thanked his hosts for a rare tour of the Forbidden City and a private dinner at the sprawling, centuries-old palace complex.
Many Western social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are banned in China. A sophisticated system has been built to deny online users within China access to blocked content.
That was not an issue for Trump, known for tweeting to his 42.3 million followers at any hour of the day, on Wednesday, the day he arrived in Beijing.
“On behalf of @FLOTUS Melania and I, THANK YOU for an unforgettable afternoon and evening at the Forbidden City in Beijing, President Xi and Madame Peng Liyuan. We are looking forward to rejoining you tomorrow morning!“
Trump even changed his Twitter banner, uploading a photograph of himself and Melania with Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, during a Chinese opera performance at the Forbidden City.
The Twitter banner upload did not go unnoticed by Chinese state media, with state broadcaster CCTV flashing screenshots of the photograph on Thursday.
Trump’s visit was also the third-most talked-about topic on Chinese social media platform Weibo over the last 24 hours, trailing only the birthday of a singer in a Chinese boy band and a weekly Asian pop song chart.
Many people wondered how Trump managed to evade China’s tough Internet controls.
“I guess he must have done it via wifi on a satellite network,” said a user on Weibo.
Many foreigners log on to virtual private networks (VPNs) to access content hosted outside of China. Another option is to sign up for a data-roaming service before leaving one’s home country.
“The president will tweet whatever he wants. That’s his way of communicating directly with the American people. Why not?” a White House official said ahead of Trump’s arrival in Beijing on Wednesday.
Not all of Trump’s tweets in China were bright and cheerful.
“NoKo has interpreted America’s past restraint as weakness,” he tweeted about reclusive North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats. “This would be a fatal miscalculation. Do not underestimate us. AND DO NOT TRY US.”


Al Jazeera English journalists to strike over pay

Updated 25 April 2018
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Al Jazeera English journalists to strike over pay

  • Al Jazeera English journalists based in London have told management they will go on strike next month over pay
  • Journalists at the London office based in the Shard building say they have not received a pay rise in years

LONDON: Al Jazeera English journalists based in London have told management they will go on strike next month over pay.
Staff at the Qatar-owned broadcaster voted overwhelmingly to take industrial action in March following a years-long dispute.
Journalists at the London office based in the Shard building say they have not received a pay rise in years despite increased living costs.
“The talks have been going on since 2015 and members have been losing patience. They voted almost unanimously to go for strike action,” Frances Rafferty, campaigns and communications officer at the National Union of Journalists, told Arab News.
“It’s a last resort, they’ve tried negotiating and they are just completely frustrated, nobody wants to go on strike but they are in a position where it is an option of last resort.”
Al Jazeera English is headquartered in Doha but a significant number of its journalists work out of its London office, which is responsible for European news gathering, current affairs programming and live evening news output.
The strike will take place on May 9 and will be followed by “action short of a strike” in which there will be a “withdrawl of good will,” with staff starting to take their statutory meal breaks in full and refusing to answer telephone calls, emails and messages out of normal hours.
This will begin on May 10, 2018 and continue “indefinitely,” the NUJ said — but it could be suspended “if management is prepared to come back and start meaningful talks.”
Al Jazeera members of the NUJ and the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union (BECTU) lodged a claim in 2015 over redundancy policy, expenses and overtime. While progress was made in some areas, the management rejected requests to negotiate over pay.
An email sent to Al Jazeera staff on Dec. 29, 2017 signed by the broadcaster’s London HR team said: “Al Jazeera Media Network (which includes Al Jazeera International London) will not be offering standard pay increase or bonus to global staff in 2018 due to global budgetary constraints.”
The email said 17 staff members “whose salaries fell below the minimum market rates” had received pay rises.
Commenting at the time, the Al Jazeera NUJ branch said: “We went into pay talks three years ago expecting to negotiate over percentages. In that time Al Jazeera management has refused to improve on 0 percent — effectively handing all its staff an annual pay cut, once inflation is taken into account. The ballot result shows our members are not prepared to accept this.”
Al Jazeera did not respond to Arab News when approach for comment.