Zunyou Zhou writes: Thailand’s police have linked the August 17 bomb attack on the Erawan Shrine, a popular tourist attraction in Bangkok, to Uighurs, a largely Muslim ethnic group some of whom have been fleeing Chinese rule. The bombing killed 20 people, including seven Chinese tourists, and injured more than 100 others. Nobody has claimed responsibility for one of the worst terrorist incidents in recent Thai history.
Two men are currently in Thai custody: one is an ethnic Uighur carrying a Chinese passport while the other’s nationality hasn’t been confirmed. Thai police and security analysts have said that the perpetrators may have sought retaliation for Thailand’s forced repatriation to China of more than 100 Uighurs in July or for Bangkok’s crackdown on a human smuggling ring that had transported Uighurs from China to Turkey.
If the Thai allegation proves to be true, the blast would mark a rare spillover of violence related to Uighurs outside China. This attack would add a new dimension to the serious issue of terrorism in China, with significant security implications not only for China but also for Turkey, Thailand and other transit countries in connection with the movement of Uighurs.
Uighurs are a Turkic-speaking minority group who call China’s far-western Xinjiang region home. Overseas-based exile groups and campaigners say that Uighurs face brutal repression in China; Beijing denies any religious or cultural discrimination and maintains that its policies help bring stabilityand prosperity to Xinjiang.
Since 2008, China has faced an increasing number of violent attacks which Beijing has blamed on Uighur separatists connected to overseas terrorist organizations. The violence had typically been confined to Xinjiang until October 2013 when a jeep careened onto the sidewalk near Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, killing two pedestrians and injuring more than 40 others; the three perpetrators set the vehicle on fire, taking their lives.
Several months later, a handful of Uighurs mounted a mass knifing at a train station in the southwestern city of Kunming, leaving at least 29 civilians dead and more than 140 others wounded. Beijing said the perpetrators were separatists who had carried out the attack after they failed to flee China for Southeast Asia. Read the rest of this entry »
Jeremy Page reports: The head of the secretive bodyguard unit that protects Chinese President Xi Jinping made a rare foray into the public spotlight on Friday, being put on the guest list for the state dinner at the White House.
The official guest list for the event names “His Excellency Wang Shaojun,” identifying him as “Chief, Central Security Bureau” among the invited attendees for the dinner, which followed Mr. Xi’s summit meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama earlier in the day.
Maj. Gen. Wang’s appointment to the bodyguard post has never been announced publicly by Chinese authorities, although Hong Kong media reported it in March, citing anonymous sources. The White House list confirms Maj. Gen. Wang’s position within an inner circle of trusted aides and advisers to Mr. Xi who see him almost every day and play an increasingly important role in Chinese politics.
The Central Security Bureau, also known as the Central Guard Bureau, is thought to command several thousand elite troops who protect top leaders and their families, according to experts on the Chinese military.
Its commander has always occupied a politically sensitive and influential position, given the bureau’s access to the top leadership. The post is considered to have become more so since Mr. Xi launched an anticorruption campaign that has led to the detention of more than 30 generals and several senior civilian Communist Party figures. Read the rest of this entry »
Apple fans in Japan finally got a chance to get their hands on the iPhone 6s Friday…
Japan was among the 12 countries and territories where the iPhone 6s went on sale Friday. The new models were available by reservation only in China, Hong Kong, Japan and U.S. stores in tax-free states.
Despite the rainy weather in Tokyo, fans turned out to try the new 6s, including some wearing iPhone-shaped hats….(read more)
Source: Japan Real Time – WSJ
Chinese President Xi Jinping lands in the U.S. on Tuesday and will embark on a whirlwind of meetings. Here’s a quick guide to Xi’s itinerary.
Bill Gertz reports: The Obama administration has restricted the U.S. Pacific Command from sending ships and aircraft within 12 miles of disputed Chinese-built islands in the South China Sea, bolstering Beijing’s illegal claims over the vital seaway, Pentagon leaders revealed to Congress on Thursday.
“The administration has continued to restrict our Navy ships from operating within 12 nautical miles of China’s reclaimed islands,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) said in opening remarks criticizing the failure to guarantee safe passage for international commercial ships in Asia.
“This is a dangerous mistake that grants de facto recognition of China’s man-made sovereignty claims,” he said.
The South China Sea is a strategic waterway used to transport $5 trillion annually in goods, including $1.2 trillion in trade to the United States.
David Shear, assistant defense secretary for Asian and Pacific affairs, sought to play down the restrictions on Navy ship transits close to the islands. According to Shear, a regional freedom of navigation exercise took place in April and the tactic is “one tool in a larger tool box … and we’re in the process of putting together that tool box.”
Shear acknowledged that “we have not recently gone within 12 miles of a reclaimed area,” noting the last time a Navy ship sailed that close to a Chinese-built island was 2012.
The disclosure undermines statements made Wednesday by Defense Secretary Ash Carter who said the United States would not be coerced by China into not operating ships or aircraft in Asia. Carter said the United States “will continue to protect freedom of navigation and overflight.”
Shear insisted that in recent years the U.S. military has challenged “every category of Chinese claim in the South China Sea, as recently as this year.”
Blocking China from militarizing the new islands could include a range of options, including freedom of navigation operations, he said.
McCain, however, noted that the U.S. restrictions on close-in island military flights and ship visits were continuing despite the provocative dispatch of five Chinese warships in an unprecedented deployment to waters within 12 miles of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands—at the same time President Obama was concluding a recent visit to the state earlier this month.
A visibly angered McCain told Shear the best way to assert that international waters around the islands do not belong to China would be for American ships to make 12-mile passages by the disputed islands. “And we haven’t done that since 2012. I don’t find that acceptable, Mr. Secretary,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »
In early August, China’s foreign minister said the country had stopped land reclamation projects in the South China Sea that were worrying neighbors and irking the U.S. With Chinese President Xi Jinping gearing up for a state visit to the U.S., a Washington-based think tank has published satellite images that cast doubt on that statement.
A report published earlier this week by the Center for Strategic and International Studies contains high-definition photos of Chinese-controlled reefs in the disputed Spratly Islands taken in early September. The images suggest China’s island-building efforts are ongoing, and that China could soon have three airfields in the area, according to CSIS.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said this week when asked about the report that China has “indisputable sovereignty” over the islands and its works there are both for defensive needs and the public good. Read the rest of this entry »
The police have deleted (seen on top graphic) and modified part of the “police history” of the 1967 riots on their website.
The 1967 riots during May to December were started by leftists in Hong Kong following a labour dispute in a San Po Kong factory, after the Cultural Revolution in China started. During the year 8,074 suspected bombs were planted, of which 1,167 were real bombs; At least 51 people died during the riots, including ten police officers, and 802 were injured.
A man set to become the world’s first head transplant patient has scheduled the procedure for December 2017.
“When I realized that I could participate in something really big and important, I had no doubt left in my mind and started to work in this direction.”
Valery Spiridonov, 30, was diagnosed with a genetic muscle-wasting condition called Werdnig-Hoffmann disease, and volunteered for the procedure despite the risks involved, Central European News (CEN) reported.
“The only thing I feel is the sense of pleasant impatience, like I have been preparing for something important all my life and it is starting to happen.”
— Spiridonov, a Russian computer scientist
“When I realized that I could participate in something really big and important, I had no doubt left in my mind and started to work in this direction,” Spiridonov, a Russian computer scientist, told CEN. Read the rest of this entry »
Nicholas Shakespeare welcomes a sweeping account of the French Resistance that gives credit to those previously overlooked by de Gaulle
Thirstily swallowed by a humiliated France, the dominant narrative of the French Resistance was cooked up by General de Gaulle – “Joan of Arc in trousers”, Churchill testily called him – when he addressed the crowds outside the Hôtel de Ville on August 25, 1944. “Paris liberated! Liberated by its own efforts, liberated by its people with the help of the armies of France, with the help of all of France.”
Yet, as Robert Gildea exposes in this comprehensive survey of the French Resistance, the myth that the French freed themselves is largely poppycock, like de Gaulle’s boast that only “a handful of scoundrels” behaved badly under four years of Nazi occupation. (One example: by October 1943, 85,000 French women had children fathered by Germans.) Most of the population didn’t engage with their revolutionary past until the last moment, when the chief thing they recaptured was their pride. The first French soldier into Paris was part of a regiment “called ‘la Nueve’ because it was composed mainly of Spanish republicans”.
[Order Robert Gildea‘s book “Fighters in the Shadows: A New History of the French Resistance” from Amazon.com]
The magnitude of the French defeat in June 1940, after a mere six weeks, compelled the writer Vercors (Jean Bruller), author of that celebrated novella of passive resistance, The Silence of the Sea, to predict that the Germans might stay on in France for a century. This being a very real possibility, it is not hard to see why the Resistance, in Gildea’s estimation, “mobilised only a minority of French people. The vast majority learnt to muddle through under German Occupation and long admired Marshal Pétain.” Attentisme – “wait and see” – was the most obeyed order of the day. It took until 1971 for a counter-narrative to surface, in the documentary Le Chagrin et la Pitié, which suggested that the French, instead of behaving honourably under the Occupation, “had been supine, cowardly, and only too frequently given to collaboration”.
It bears repeating that an astonishing one and a half million French soldiers remained POWs in Germany until 1945, putting pressure on political activists back home, notably communists, to form the opposition. But French Communist Party bosses, answerable to Moscow, “always controlled an agenda that had little to do with the Resistance”. One contemporary observer sneered: “The PCF led its resisters to the Rubicon – to go fishing.”
Neutralised for the first two years of the war by the Nazi-Soviet pact, which made Hitler their ally, the French communists were led by Jacques Duclos, “who lived a quiet life disguised as a ‘country doctor, 1900 style’ ”. Meanwhile, their general secretary, Georges Marchais, worked in a German factory as a volunteer. Hardly models of heroism.
Not until Hitler invaded Russia in June 1941 did a more convincing resistance emerge, gaining pace with the Relève of June 1942, in which Vichy’s chain-smoking Prime Minister, Pierre Laval, promised the release of one French POW for every three volunteers to work in Germany; the following February, the Service du Travail Obligatoire turned this into a compulsory order, directed at all men of military age. The result: up to 40,000 young men – the Resistance was 80 per cent composed of those under 30 – joined the maquis rather than go to Germany (although 650,000 did end up going). But as Gildea points out, the maquis were beset by problems – lack of weapons, training and leadership – which led to a succession of disastrous setbacks and reprisals. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] China’s Latest Fashion Trend? Beansprout Hairpins: ‘The Highly Sought Illusion of a Plant Protruding from the Head’Posted: September 6, 2015
Men, women, grandmothers and children in China are all donning the beansprout hairpin—a barrette that creates the highly sought illusion of a plant protruding from the head. Photo/Video: Menglin Huang/The Wall Street Journal
China’s female guards of honor made their overseas debut Saturday on a military music festival staged in Moscow to celebrate the 868 years’ anniversary of the founding of the city.
A cold rain lasted throughout the parade, however, it didn’t dampen the troop’s morale as Moscow residents watched the Chinese girls in poncho striding along the historic Tverskaya Street, one of Moscow’s most visited areas.
Earlier on Friday, they attended a festival rehearsal on the Red Square. Pictures of the female soldiers’ formation soon drew many praising remarks on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo.
“Their bright and valiant look represents Chinese people’s heroic spirit, unity and perseverance,”@5372170258.
“Salute to China’s female soldiers,”@TOMYyuleifengtongxing.
“Our female soldiers are awesome,”@baiduanrouchang.
“The frequent exchanges between China and Russia show their close friendship,”@kexuejiahuojianzhushi.
Watch 12,000 troops, 500 pieces of military hardware and 200 aircraft roar through Beijing in a 60-second time-lapse version of Thursday’s military parade.