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Did the German Embassy in China ban a Buddhist religious symbol?

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A claim has been repeatedly shared among Chinese-language social media users that the German Embassy in Beijing has “insulted” Chinese citizens by “banning” the use of the Buddhist religious symbol, also known as a swastika, on one of its social media posts. 

However, the claim is false. Germany’s foreign ministry told AFCL that its post was to condemn some online users who inappropriately used the symbol to glorify the Nazi regime – which used the symbol – or combined it with the Israeli flag. 

The swastika is an ancient symbol that has been used in many different cultures, not just as a symbol for Buddhism. 

The claim was shared here on Weibo, China’s popular social media platform, on Oct. 25.

“Germany insulted Chinese online users with its official Weibo post. It banned the manja [the swastika]. The German Embassy must apologize!” reads the claim in part. 

A number of Chinese internet personalities and legal bloggers later derided the embassy’s announcement as inappropriate for using foul language and mistaken in its use of the upright version of the swastika, insisting that Buddhist uses of the symbol were always upright, while Nazi was always tilted. 

German expressions of support for Israel following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war has caused Chinese netizens to leave disparaging comments on the German Embassy official social media accounts, including pictures of an Israeli flag combined with a swastika.

In response, the German Embassy in China urged Chinese online users on Oct. 24 to avoid glorifying Nazism, posting an image of the Swastika with a red cross mark on it. 

The German Embassy in Beijing posted a message on Weibo asking netizens to stop glorifying Nazism or using swastikas in their comments. (Screenshot/German Embassy in China’s official Weibo)

The identical claim was shared in other Chinese social media posts that also claimed that the photo released by the German Embassy shows an upright swastika, which solely symbolizes Buddhism, unlike the tilted swastika used by the Nazis.

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Several influential users on Weibo claimed that the upright swastika posted by the German Embassy in Beijing was not used by the Nazis and exclusively employed as a Buddhist religious symbol. (Screenshot/Weibo)

However, the claim is false. 

The swastika

The swastika is an ancient symbol that has been used in many different cultures going back at least 5,000 years. To this day, it is a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Odinism. 

The symbol took on a variety of meanings throughout history before being chosen by Adolf Hitler as a symbol of National Socialism. 

While this was the most infamous appropriation of the symbol, the swastika was also used on the flags of many other radical far-right political parties from the early 20th century. 

It is true that most Nazi flags feature tilted swastikas, but historical photos of others such as the personal standard of Hitler and the flag used by his personal bodyguards clearly show the symbol in an upright position. 

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Hitler’s personal standard featured an upright swastika. (Screenshot/CRW Flags)

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Historical photos also document several Nazi flags featuring upright swastikas. (Screenshot/Alamy)

‘Not a ban for Chinese online users’

Keyword searches found no official statements or credible reports to show that the German Embassy banned Chinese online users from using the swastika.

Use of the swastika in Germany, regardless of its position, is prohibited by law due to its use by the Nazis and its clear anti-Semitic connotations, according to a spokesperson for Germany’s Federal Foreign Office.

The spokesperson told AFCL that its Weibo post was designed to “condemn posts by some users who inappropriately used this symbol to glorify the Nazi regime or combined it with the Israeli flag.”

Translated by Shen Ke. Edited by Taejun Kang and Malcolm Foster. 

Asia Fact Check Lab (AFCL) is a branch of RFA established to counter disinformation in today’s complex media environment. Our journalists publish both daily and special reports that aim to sharpen and deepen our readers’ understanding of public issues.

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Lingang New Area in Shanghai Introduces Whitelists for Data Export to Enhance Cross-Border Data Flows

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The Lingang New Area in Shanghai has introduced trial general data lists to simplify data export procedures for companies in automotive, biopharmaceuticals, and mutual funds sectors. This aims to reduce regulatory burdens and facilitate cross-border data flows, following efforts to improve business environment for foreign companies.


The Lingang New Area in Shanghai has introduced trial general data lists aimed at simplifying data export procedures for companies in the automotive, biopharmaceuticals, and mutual fund sectors. These lists outline specific scenarios where businesses can export data out of China with reduced regulatory burdens, bypassing more stringent compliance requirements.

The Lingang New Area of the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ) has released the first batch of trial lists of general data for three sectors, facilitating cross-border data flows for companies operating in the area. This announcement closely follows the release of the Tianjin FTZ’s Negative List, which similarly seeks to facilitate cross-border data flows for companies operating in the FTZ by specifying the types of data that are restricted from being exported without certain approval procedures.

The first batch of general data lists has been provided for the fields of intelligent connected vehicles, biopharmaceuticals, and mutual funds, three sectors with a significant presence in the Lingang New Area. The general data lists are scenario-based, meaning they outline various situations in which data export is required and freely permitted. These include scenarios, such as multinational production and manufacturing of intelligent connected vehicles, medical clinical trials and R&D, and information sharing for fund market research.

The general data lists will be implemented for a trial period of one year from their date of implementation, May 16, 2024.

In January 2024, the Lingang New Area announced a new system for data management and export in the area, which included the release of two data catalogs, one for “important” data and one for “general” data. This new system will help facilitate cross-border data transfer (CBDT) for key sectors in the area by delineating the types of data that are restricted or subject to additional compliance measures to be exported (through the important data lists) and data that can be more easily exported (through the general data lists).

In March, the area released the Measures for the Classification and Graded Management of Data Cross-border Flow in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone Lingang Special Area (Trial) (the “Lingang CBDT Management Measures”), which outlined the rules and requirements for this new system, including how companies can use the general data lists.

These developments follow many months of efforts by the central Chinese government as well as local authorities to improve the business environment for foreign companies in particular, a core part of which has been resolving headaches surrounding data export.

This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at china@dezshira.com.

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The New Company Law brings substantial changes with implications for new and existing foreign invested enterprises and stakeholders. Foreign investors must assess if adjustments to existing structures

Despite recent economic challenges, many organizations’ China operations provide unparalleled access to one of the world’s largest and most competitive global supply chains. Over the past 30 years, a significant number of foreign invested enterprises (FIEs) have been established in China. As of the end of 2022, the number of FIEs operating in China had exceeded 1.12 million.

Compared to their domestic counterparts, FIEs demonstrate greater caution regarding legal revisions and are diligent in making swift adjustments. This stems not only from the closer scrutiny FIEs face from regulatory authorities but also from their commitment to compliance and maintaining a competitive edge.

Clearly, there has been a shift in China’s corporate regulations—from merely encouraging an increase in the number of companies to focusing on attracting mature enterprises and higher-quality investments. While the transition from a broad approach to a more refined one may cause short-term challenges, it ultimately benefits the company’s long-term development. By returning to the original intent of setting registered capital, it not only protects the interests of creditors but also shields shareholders from the operational risks of the company.

In China’s foreign investment landscape, while most FIEs exercise commercial prudence in determining registered capital—factoring in capital expenditures, operational costs, and setting aside surplus funds—some opt for higher registered capital levels to avoid future capital increase procedures. This typically involves lengthy document signing and registration changes, lasting 1-2 months.

Joint ventures (JVs) often impose stricter payment deadlines for registered capital in their articles of association to ensure both parties’ simultaneous contributions align with operational needs. Conversely, wholly foreign-owned enterprises (WFOEs) tend to favor flexibility in payment deadlines, often allowing full payment before the company’s operational period expires.

Given these circumstances, despite the generally stronger capital adequacy among foreign companies compared to domestic entities, many FIEs could be affected by the new capital contribution rules.

This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at china@dezshira.com.

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Foreign Tourist Groups on Cruise Ships Fully Permitted Visa-Free Entry in China

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China will allow visa-free entry for foreign tourist groups arriving by cruise ship at 13 ports along the coast, starting May 15, 2024. Visitors must stay with the same ship and in permitted areas for up to 15 days. This policy aims to boost tourism and facilitate high-quality development in the cruise industry.


China’s immigration agency announced that it will grant a visa-free policy for foreign tourist groups to enter China by cruise at all cruise ports along the coast of China, starting May 15, 2024. The tourist group must remain with the same cruise ship until its next port of call and stay within permitted areas for no more than 15 days.

Effective May 15, 2024, the National Immigration Administration (NIA) has officially implemented a visa-free policy for foreign tourist groups entering China via cruise ships. This progressive move aims to enhance personnel exchanges and foster cooperation between China and other nations, furthering the country’s commitment to high-level openness.

Under this policy, foreign tourist groups, comprising two or more individuals, who travel by cruise ship and are organized by Chinese domestic travel agencies, can now enjoy visa-free entry as a cohesive group at cruise ports in 13 cities along the Chinese coast.

The tourist group must remain with the same cruise ship until its next port of call and stay within China for no more than 15 days. The eligible areas for this policy are coastal provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) and Beijing.

Furthermore, to support cruise tourism development, seven additional cruise ports—Dalian, Lianyungang, Wenzhou, Zhoushan, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Beihai—have been included as applicable ports for visa-free transit.

The recent implementation of the visa-free policy for foreign tourist groups entering China via cruise ships is poised to have several significant effects. The policy will provide crucial support for the cruise economy and the overall cruise industry. By facilitating smoother travel for foreign tourist groups, it acts as a catalyst for high-quality development in this sector.

Additionally, under this policy, international cruise companies can strategically plan their global routes by designating Chinese port cities, such as Shanghai, Xiamen, and Shenzhen, as docking destinations. This move is expected to attract more cruise ships to Chinese ports, ultimately bringing in a larger number of international visitors to the Chinese market.

This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at china@dezshira.com.

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