Ryan Saavedra reports: Voters in Hong Kong took the polls in record numbers on Sunday, giving pro-democracy parties stunning gains as numerous high-profile pro-Beijing officials lost their seats.
“Almost three million voters sent the Carrie Lam administration an unmistakable message on Sunday, flooding to the ballot box in record numbers to vote against pro-establishment candidates and usher in what by all indications should be a staggering victory for the pro-democracy camp,” Public broadcaster RTHK reported. “While official results are yet to be announced, partial counts suggest that opposition candidates should win an overwhelming majority of the 452 District Council seats up for grabs, and may have a winning ratio of as high as nine-to-one.”
RTHK added, “Most analysts had expected the opposition to make significant gains with the government’s popularity ratings at an all-time low, but no one was predicting that the pro-democracy camp would win a majority of seats – much less almost all of them.”
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that pro-democracy candidates had won 395 of the 452 seats that were up for grabs and that pro-democracy parties were set to control all 18 district councils.
“Almost 3 million people in a city of 7 million queued to vote in the election held every four years, or 71.2 per cent of registered voters,” The Sydney Morning Herald added. “The voter turnout was almost double that seen in the previous election, and attributed to young people voting for the first time.” CNN reported that “outspoken pro-government legislators Michael Tien and Junius Ho both conceded defeat in their districts” and “Holden Chow, Horace Cheung, Vincent Cheng, and Edward Lau also appeared to be part of a string of upsets from the pro-Beijing DAB party.”
U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted support for Hong Kong, writing, “With their vote, the people of Hong Kong delivered a strong rebuke of the authoritarian policies of Beijing. They came out in record numbers, nearly double the last election, to support pro-democracy candidates. When people have a choice, they will always choose freedom.”Read the rest of this entry »
As the Chinese government accelerates its crackdown on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters, the Trump administration has sharpened its view of the world’s most important bilateral relationship.
What’s happening: Senior officials tell me they are increasingly concerned about Beijing’s treatment of activists in Hong Kong and, increasingly, fear overreach that could also target Taiwan. This comes as any chance of an armistice in the trade war seems to be shrinking away.
Why it matters: Based on numerous conversations with Trump administration officials over the last few weeks, it is clear that many of the president’s top advisers view China first and foremost as a national security threat rather than as an economic partner.
- This is a new normal. And it’s poised to affect huge parts of American life, from the cost of many consumer goods — likely to go up under a punishing new round of tariffs — to the nature of this country’s relationship with the government of Taiwan.
- Trump himself still views China primarily through an economic prism. But the angrier he gets with Beijing, the more receptive he is to his advisers’ hawkish stances toward China that go well beyond trade.
- The big open question remains whether Trump’s anger with China — especially its flooding of the U.S. with deadly fentanyl and its backtracking on promises to make huge agricultural purchases — will ever grow to such a point that he wants to move in a tougher direction on national security and human rights. If he gets to that point, his advisers will have plenty of hawkish policy ideas waiting for his green light.
The Yomiuri Shimbun reports: According to the original version of the Japanese government’s 2019 white paper on defense, North Korea is believed to have already achieved the miniaturization of nuclear weapons and the development of nuclear warheads, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.
This is the first time such statements have been included in the report.
Regarding South Korea, which is intensifying its confrontation with Japan, the report lowered that nation’s ranking from the previous year among the countries and regions that are promoting security cooperation with Japan.
The Japanese government is making arrangements to approve the 2019 white paper at a Cabinet meeting in mid-September. On North Korea’s military moves, the paper again said they posed a “serious and imminent threat.” Read the rest of this entry »
Sarah Zheng reports: Hong Kong’s summer of protests looks very different from inside and outside the Great Firewall that encircles the internet in mainland China.
On Monday morning, the top trending topic on Weibo, China’s highly regulated version of Twitter, featured a Shanghai tourist who was “harassed and beaten” during a massive pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong on Sunday evening. It racked up 520 million views. A prominent video on the topic from Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily showed the man, surnamed Ma, telling reporters about protesters accosting and accusing him of photographing their faces, under the tagline: “Is this the ‘safety’ that rioters are talking about?”
But in Hong Kong, where there is unfettered access to the internet, the focus was on the peaceful Sunday demonstrations, which organisers said drew 1.7 million people despite heavy rain. On LIHKG, the online forum where Hong Kong protesters discuss and organise their action, one hot topic celebrated Weibo posts on Ma that mentioned a taboo – Beijing’s bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. The topic cheered the “first time China’s Weibo allowed public discussion of June 4th”, referencing posts about Photoshopped images of Ma in a shirt calling for justice over the crackdown.
Since the protests began in Hong Kong in early June, triggered by a now-shelved extradition bill, there has been a clear dichotomy between how the movement has been portrayed online, inside and outside China. Read the rest of this entry »
Kyle Hooten reports: Chinese state media is using rap music to rally public support in opposition of Hong Kong protesters, even threatening that the Chinese military can “wipe out” the protesters.
Last week, a state-supported Chinese hip-hop group known as Tianfu Shibia or CD Rev, released a rap video titled “Hong Kong’s Fall.” The song accuses America of supporting the massive protests in Hong Kong, which are aimed at preserving some of the region’s sovereignty from China, and threatens the death of the protesters. The group is supported by the unilateral Communist Party of China, according to the Guardian.
“There are 1.4 billion Chinese standing firmly behind Hong Kong police,” the lyrics state. “They will always protect Hong Kong without any hesitation. Airplanes, tanks and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army all gathering in Shenzhen waiting for command to wipe out terrorists [protesters] if needed.” Read the rest of this entry »
Continued American silence will convince China that it can advance on other fronts. We must show Beijing that Hong Kong’s freedom isn’t up for grabs.
Marion Smith writes: Would the United States have let the Soviet Union invade West Berlin? Never. Yet America is on the verge of allowing Communist China to enslave the free city of Hong Kong. If this happens, it will be one of the greatest abdications of U.S. moral leadership in history.
Right now, Communist China is massing paramilitary forces on its border with Hong Kong. The purpose appears obvious: Intimidate the pro-freedom movement that has brought parts of the city to a standstill in recent weeks. Meanwhile, Beijing’s rulers have labeled Hong Kong’s protesters “terrorists,” while stating that “those who play with fire will perish by it.” The echoes of the Tiananmen Square massacre 30 years ago are unmistakable.
These developments are eerily familiar to the Soviet Union’s attempts to dominate West Berlin. Yet the United States always made it clear that we would defend the city. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan even traveled there personally, proving by their presence that America stood with its residents.
Compare that with today. The best President Donald Trump can muster is a tweet: “Everyone should be calm and safe!”
A new Cold War
It’s time to admit that we’re in a new Cold War. The blockade of Berlin in 1948 was widely seen as the opening salvo of the decades-long struggle between freedom and communism. With Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong already well underway, maybe now we’ll admit that another struggle has arrived. The Soviet Union is gone, and America’s new adversary is the Chinese Communist Party.
Yet unlike the first Cold War, this time it’s unclear whether America has the will to win. Read the rest of this entry »
America’s relative silence over the Hong Kong protests and the impending Chinese crackdown is deafening, and telling. It’s also dangerous.
John Daniel Davidson writes: The protests in Hong Kong that began two months ago have now shut down the city’s airport—one of the busiest in the world—amid violent clashes with riot police in recent days. Chinese troops, we’re told, are amassing along the border even as Chinese propaganda outlets warned Tuesday that protesters were “asking for self-destruction” and Chinese officials decried the demonstrations as “deranged acts” that marked “the first signs of terrorism.”
In other words, it appears the situation is about to get much worse. Why has the American response to all this been so muted? Hong Kong is the most important city in the world right now, and the cause of the pro-democracy protesters is one that all Americans should rally behind.
Yet, rhetorically, it’s not even clear what side the United States is on. President Trump has been content to offer platitudes and unhelpful observations like, “We’ll see what happens. But I’m sure it’ll work out. I hope it works out for everybody, including China, by the way.” On Tuesday, he tweeted, “Our Intelligence has informed us that the Chinese Government is moving troops to the Border with Hong Kong. Everyone should be calm and safe!”
Okay, thanks for that, president of United States and leader of the free world.
This is the future liberals want… https://t.co/Rq83wuNPTU— EducatëdHillbilly™ (@RobProvince) August 15, 2019
News and social media have largely focused on other stories, like Chris Cuomo flying off the handle at some random guy in New York calling him “Fredo,” or whether the Clintons had Jeffrey Epstein assassinated, or how stupid the 2020 Democratic candidates look eating corn dogs and pandering at the Iowa Sate Fair.
Meanwhile in Hong Kong, protesters are waving the American flag and singing the “Star-Spangled Banner.” They do this because they know that America is an idea and that the principles of our Founding are universal. Read the rest of this entry »
Hong Kong International Airport has canceled all remaining flight departures for the second straight day due to protests.
Riot police stormed the Hong Kong International Airport on Tuesday as protests by thousands of anti-government demonstrators forced flights to be canceled for the second straight day.
Travelers at one of the world’s busiest airports were advised that check-in had been suspended and hundreds flights were cancelled, and that they should leave the terminals as quickly as possible and contact airlines for more information.
The clashes appeared to represent an escalation 10 weeks after the protest’s massive, peaceful beginnings in early June, when hundreds of thousands marched in the semi-autonomous city against a now-suspended extradition bill. A Chinese official said Tuesday that protesters “have begun to show signs of terrorism,” and China appeared to be weighing a crackdown on the democratic movement.
Bolstered by anger over the crackdown by Hong Kong police, the protests has grown more confrontational in recent weeks and reached new levels last Monday with a city-wide strike that disrupting traffic and hundreds of flights.
After weeks of issuing warnings, but deferring to Hong Kong authorities to quell protests, Beijing has hinted at a more assertive posture. Chinese paramilitary police were seen in video released by the state holding exercises in Shenzhen, China, which sits across the border from Hong Kong. Images circulated online showing a convoy of armored personnel carriers from the People’s Armed Police traveling to the site. Read the rest of this entry »
BEIJING— Chun Han Wong reports: Chinese authorities condemned violent weekend demonstrations in Hong Kong as “deranged” acts that marked the emergence of “the first signs of terrorism” in the semiautonomous city, vowing a merciless crackdown on the perpetrators.
The escalating rhetoric from Beijing followed a day of heated protests in Hong Kong, including the hurling of petrol bombs, and came as thousands of protesters gathered at Hong Kong’s international airport on Monday, prompting officials to cancel all flights for the rest of the day apart from those already en route to the air-travel hub.
“Radical Hong Kong protesters have repeatedly used extremely dangerous tools to attack police officers,” a spokesman for the Chinese government’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office told a news briefing on Monday, according to Chinese state media. “The first signs of terrorism are starting to appear.”
On Sunday, police in riot gear fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds of protesters across Hong Kong, some of whom threw bricks and what police identified as Molotov cocktails and smoke bombs. Police said an officer was hospitalized with burns to his legs after being hit by a Molotov cocktail hurled by a protester.Read the rest of this entry »
Alvin Lum reports: Hundreds of workers at 34 banks joined calls for a citywide strike next week against the government’s handling of recent unrest which has rocked Hong Kong.
The finance staff added their voices to an umbrella group of 95 unions from the public and private sectors behind the action planned for Monday.
The appeal from the pro-democracy Confederation of Trade Unions (CTU) and staff from local banks, including international investment banks and Chinese state-owned banks, was also echoed by teachers and art groups.
Civil servants, meanwhile, got the go-ahead from police to host an unprecedented rally on Friday evening in Chater Garden to urge the government to respond to the demands of protesters against the now-abandoned extradition bill.
The idea of a strike was first floated weeks ago on an online forum, and has gained momentum after two protests that descended into clashes over which 44 people have been charged with rioting. Read the rest of this entry »
- John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, “got into a physical altercation” with a Chinese official during President Donald Trump’s visit to Beijing last year, The Wall Street Journal reported.
- Kelly reportedly told colleagues he would not accept an apology from the official unless it occurred under a US flag in Washington, DC.
- Relations between Washington and Beijing are tense as Trump spars with the Chinese government over trade and other issues.
John Haltiwanger reports: John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, “got into a physical altercation” with a Chinese official during President Donald Trump’s visit to Beijing last year and refused to accept an apology, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
The official was reportedly attempting to access the nuclear football, a 45-pound aluminum briefcase that’s always by the president’s side, carried by a military aide. It contains information and instructions for the president on how to conduct a nuclear strike.
Kelly told colleagues he would not accept an apology from the official unless it occurred under a US flag in Washington, DC, according to the report.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider. Read the rest of this entry »
The number of informants executed in the debacle is higher than initially thought.
Zach Dorfman reports: It was considered one of the CIA’s worst failures in decades: Over a two-year period starting in late 2010, Chinese authorities systematically dismantled the agency’s network of agents across the country, executing dozens of suspected U.S. spies. But since then, a question has loomed over the entire debacle.
How were the Chinese able to roll up the network?
Now, nearly eight years later, it appears that the agency botched the communication system it used to interact with its sources, according to five current and former intelligence officials. The CIA had imported the system from its Middle East operations, where the online environment was considerably less hazardous, and apparently underestimated China’s ability to penetrate it.
“The attitude was that we’ve got this, we’re untouchable,” said one of the officials who, like the others, declined to be named discussing sensitive information. The former official described the attitude of those in the agency who worked on China at the time as “invincible.”
Other factors played a role as well, including China’s alleged recruitment of former CIA officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee around the same time. Federal prosecutors indicted Lee earlier this year in connection with the affair.
But the penetration of the communication system seems to account for the speed and accuracy with which Chinese authorities moved against the CIA’s China-based assets.
“You could tell the Chinese weren’t guessing. The Ministry of State Security [which handles both foreign intelligence and domestic security] were always pulling in the right people,” one of the officials said.
“When things started going bad, they went bad fast.” Read the rest of this entry »
An explosion was reported on Thursday outside the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
Bystanders shared video of the aftermath on social media, showing images of smoke unfurling in the street and what appeared to be police vehicles surrounding the building in the city’s Chaoyang District.
American and Chinese officials did not immediatly respond to comments on the incident.
The scene near the US Embassy in Beijing. pic.twitter.com/AbTc32f3cw
— Ahron Young (@AhronYoung) July 26, 2018
China and the U.S. are in the middle of a trade dispute … (more)
This is a developing story. Read the rest of this entry »
U.S. strategy in region rooted in ‘principled realism’ and shared interests, defense secretary says.
SINGAPORE— Nancy A. Youssef reports: The U.S. and China appear to be headed for a more confrontational relationship in Southeast Asia as Washington warns of a more aggressive response to the militarization of disputed islands in the South China Sea.
Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue, a regional security conference, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned there could be “much larger consequences” in the future from China’s moves to install weapons systems on islands in the sea. He didn’t specify what the consequences would be.
The warning, in response to a question from an audience member, came after a speech by Mr. Mattis in which he said “despite China’s claims to the contrary, the placement of these weapons systems is tied directly to military use for the purposes of intimidation and coercion.”
He also called his decision to not invite China to the biennial Rim of the Pacific exercise, slated to begin later in June, “an initial response” to its increased militarization of the South China Sea. Read the rest of this entry »
In April 2018 the Chinese Air Force 15th Airborne Corps completed a yearlong reorganization effort that involved disbanding the three airborne divisions (the 43rd, 44th and 45th) and reassigning divisional headquarters and support troops as well as the units of the airborne regiments to six independent airborne infantry brigades (127th, 128th, 130th, 131st, 133rd, and 134th) which now report directly to the headquarters of the 15th Airborne Corps. While the new airborne brigades have some support troops they now also receive logistics, maintenance, engineer and signal support from the 15th Corps Strategic Support Brigade, as well as the Aviation Brigade (over a hundred helicopters and large UAVs) and Special Operations Brigade (airborne commandos and recon troops).
After the reorganization, the Chinese airborne force still has about 35,000 personnel who still serve in the Air Force 15th Airborne Corps. The airborne units no longer operate as three airborne divisions and an aviation brigade. The airborne divisions no longer exist as the brigades can operate independently and report directly to corps headquarters. This brigade organization makes it easier to rapidly deploy airborne forces and copies a practice that many other nations have adopted over the last few decades.
The Chinese have had some airborne units since the 1950s and these belonged to the air force from the beginning. The 15th Airborne Corps was created in the 1960s and was always considered a strategic reserve unit. By the late 1980s, China had enough air transports to move an entire division (about 10,000 troops) anywhere in China. At the time such a movement took weeks to organize and monopolized most of the air transport aircraft the military had.
Moving a division anywhere by air on short notice was first done in 2008 when one division was sent to Sichuan province to assist in earthquake relief. The early large scale movements by air movements were experimental. Read the rest of this entry »
PAJU, South Korea, May 12 (Yonhap) — A group of North Korea defectors scattered leaflets critical of the North Korean regime across the border to the North on Saturday despite the government’s recommendation not to.
the border to the North Korean side were carrying 150,000 leaflets criticizing North Korea, as well as other gifts like United States dollar bills and USBs, Park Sang-hak, the head of the defectors’ group said.
Banners were also tied to the balloons, reading “Do not be fooled by Kim Jong-un‘s fake dialogue offer, disguised peace offensive.”
“Defectors’ leaflets to North Korea, which are intended to tell the facts and truth to some 20 million North Korean people, will never by stopped by any form of blockade or physical means,” Park noted.
The defectors group tried to fly the anti-North leaflets a week earlier but failed to do so when they were stopped by police and local residents.
The government has repeatedly advised the Fighters for a Free North Korea, as well as other groups that send leaflets to North Korea, against such activity.
“Spreading of anti-North leaflets runs against the spirit of the inter-Korean agreements under the Panmunjom Declaration agreed upon between the leaders of the two countries,” the Unification Ministry has told the groups, urging them to stop the activities. Read the rest of this entry »
Security camera footage shows a Vietnamese woman accused of poisoning the North Korean leader’s half brother, Kim Jong Nam, performing a prank at Hanoi’s airport that simulated the attack.
China to Ban Citizens with Bad ‘Social Credit’ Rating from Raking Flights or Using Trains for Up to a YearPosted: March 19, 2018
President Xi Jinping’s plan based on principle ‘once untrustworthy, always restricted’ to come into effect on 1 May.
China said it will begin applying its so-called social credit system to flights and trains and stop people who have committed misdeeds from taking such transport for up to a year.
People who would be put on the restricted lists included those found to have committed acts like spreading false information about terrorism and causing trouble on flights, as well as those who used expired tickets or smoked on trains, according to two statements issued on the National Development and Reform Commission’s website on Friday.
Those found to have committed financial wrongdoings, such as employers who failed to pay social insurance or people who have failed to pay fines, would also face these restrictions, said the statements which were dated 2 March.
It added that the rules would come into effect on 1 May.
North Korea Readying for Another Nuclear Test? Satellite Images Show Heightened Activity at Punggye-riPosted: December 13, 2017
Over the weekend, Radio Pyongyang broadcast secret coded messages hinting at a possible impending weapons test.
Experts say that after North Korea’s last nuclear test, minor tremors were detected near Mt Mantap, located close to the nuclear site. However, Pyongyang is now engaged in additional tunnel work at the site.
According to experts at 38North, a US-based think tank, the fresh activities were detected at the West Portal of the site – indicating that the site may be undergoing an expansion. Meanwhile, the North Portal, where the previous five tests were conducted, appears to have been temporarily abandoned.
“At the West Portal, there has been a consistently high level of activity since North Korea’s last nuclear test. This includes a routine presence of vehicles and personnel around the portal, movement of mining carts from the portal to the adjacent spoil pile and signs of fresh spoil being dumped onto the pile,” 38North experts said in a blog. “These activities suggest that tunnel excavation is underway at the West Portal, as the North Koreans expand the site’s potential for future nuclear testing.”
Ryan Barenklau, CEO and founder of Strategic Sentinel, a Washington-based nonpartisan geostrategic consulting agency, told IBTimes UK, “The tunneling is occurring at the West Portal and activity near that area has been relatively high for the last month. They are most likely digging deeper and expanding the complex underneath so they can continue their normal operations.” Read the rest of this entry »
Caroline B. Glick writes: The nuclear confrontation between the US and North Korea entered a critical phase Sunday with North Korea’s conduct of an underground test of a thermonuclear bomb.
If the previous round of this confrontation earlier this summer revolved around Pyongyang’s threat to attack the US territory of Guam, Sunday’s test, together with North Korea’s recent tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the continental US, was a direct threat to US cities.
In other words, the current confrontation isn’t about US superpower status in Asia, and the credibility of US deterrence or the capabilities of US military forces in the Pacific. The confrontation is now about the US’s ability to protect the lives of its citizens.
The distinction tells us a number of important things. All of them are alarming.
First, because this is about the lives of Americans, rather than allied populations like Japan and South Korea, the US cannot be diffident in its response to North Korea’s provocation. While attenuated during the Obama administration, the US’s position has always been that US military forces alone are responsible for guaranteeing the collective security of the American people.
Pyongyang is now directly threatening that security with hydrogen bombs. So if the Trump administration punts North Korea’s direct threat to attack US population centers with nuclear weapons to the UN Security Council, it will communicate profound weakness to its allies and adversaries alike.
Obviously, this limits the options that the Trump administration has. But it also clarifies the challenge it faces.
The second implication of North Korea’s test of their plutonium-based bomb is that the US’s security guarantees, which form the basis of its global power and its alliance system are on the verge of becoming completely discredited. Read the rest of this entry »
Beijing has been increasingly clamping down on use of VPNs in recent weeks. This has prompted concerns among various groups that it will stifle academic research and international trade.
OH HELL YEAH: U.S. Urges All Nationals In North Korea To ‘Depart Immediately’, Bans Tourists From VisitingPosted: July 21, 2017
YA THINK? The U.S. is to ban its citizens from travelling to North Korea.
US officials linked the move to the death of jailed American student Otto Warmbier.
Once the ban is in effect, US citizens will need special validation to travel to or within North Korea.
Mr Warmbier travelled to North Korea with Young Pioneer Tours. He was arrested in 2016 for trying to steal a propaganda sign and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was returned to the US in a coma in June and died a week later.
How did the news come to light?
Koryo Tours and Young Pioneer Tours, who both operate in North Korea, revealed on Friday that they had been told of the upcoming ban by the Swedish embassy, which acts for the US as Washington has no diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.
Rowan Beard, of Young Pioneer Tours, told the BBC the embassy was urging all US nationals to depart immediately.
He said the embassy was trying to check on the number of US tourists left in the country.
What form will the ban take?
Ms Nauert’s statement said: “Due to mounting concerns over the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention under North Korea’s system of law enforcement, the Secretary has authorised a Geographical Travel Restriction on all US nationals’ use of a passport to travelling through, or to North Korea.
“Once in effect, US passports will be invalid for travel to, through, and in North Korea, and individuals will be required to obtain a passport with a special validation in order to travel to or within North Korea.
“We intend to publish a notice in the Federal Register next week.
“The restriction will be implemented 30 days after publication.”
Rowan Beard said that the 30-day grace period would “give leeway for any [Americans] currently in the country as tourists or on humanitarian work”.
How have the travel agencies reacted?
Simon Cockerell of Koryo Tours told the BBC the agency would still conduct tours and take Americans until the ban came into effect.
“If their country allows them to go, we will take them,” he said.
Mr Cockerell added: “It’s unfortunate for the industry but also for North Koreans who want to know what Americans are really like.”
After the death of Mr Warmbier, the China-based Young Pioneer Tours announced it would no longer take visitors from the US to the country. Read the rest of this entry »
Everyone in frame is smiling and laughing in the North Korean cold. Otto Warmbier, like the other tourists, launches a snowball, captured in slow motion on what appears to be a camera phone.
It’s the kind of innocent fun you expect to be captured on a tour group holiday. Otto turns to his right, mouth wide open, laughing.
“This is the Otto I know and love. This is my brother,” wrote Austin Warmbier, who released the video, which was shot during a three-night North Korea tour at the end of 2015.
Two months later, Otto would again appear on video, but in very different circumstances.
Head bowed and clutching a prepared “confession”, the 21-year-old student walked out in front of North Korean TV cameras to speak, explaining why he had been arrested at the end of that tour, when everyone else had been allowed to leave.
He wore a cream-coloured jacket and tie. Before speaking, he got up an offered a low bow.
Otto thanked the North Korean government for the “opportunity to apologise for my crime, to beg for forgiveness and to beg for any assistance to save my life”.
He said he tried to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel as a “trophy” for a US church with the “connivance of the US administration” in order to “harm the work ethic and motivation of the Korean people”.
Later, he would break down in tears: “I have made the single worst decision of my life, but I am only human.”
Otto is now back in the US after 15 months of captivity in North Korea. But he is in a coma, cannot understand language and has severe brain damage.
In the year-and-a-half since he threw that snowball, the life of a young man full of promise has been permanently altered.
Much remains unknown about how Otto’s health deteriorated. Doctors at Cincinnati Medical Center say they have seen no sign he was physically abused but they and his family also don’t buy North Korea’s story that he contracted botulism and fell into a coma after taking a sleeping pill.
But how did a brilliant student from an Ohio suburb with hopes of becoming an investment banker end up imprisoned in a pariah state? And why was he released in a coma?
The Warmbiers hail from a small suburb called Wyoming in Cincinnati, Ohio, where father Fred owns a small company.
Otto attended the best high school in the state, and was prom and homecoming king. Read the rest of this entry »
The latest screed from Pyongyang’s unnamed prince of prose (or princes — it’s unclear how many write these gems) was delivered Monday in response to Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., asserting Kim Jong Un was a “whack job.”
Like previous statements, it bucked all norms for engaging in international repartee:
“It is a serious provocation that Gardner, like a psychopath, dare to bear the evil that dares our highest dignity,” the statement said, according to a translation. “It is America’s misfortune that a man mixed in with human dirt like Gardner, who has lost basic judgment and body hair, could only spell misfortune for the United States.”
The real-world reference point behind some of the putdowns, most of which are disseminated by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, is unclear. Gardner, for instance, has a full head of hair.
But KCNA has been dealing out hits against U.S. and international politicians for years, perfecting a style that’s veered from jaw-dropping to shockingly racist.
Among the worst insults directed at former President Barack Obama, North Korea in 2014 branded him a “juvenile delinquent,” “clown” and a “dirty fellow.” Obama, the KCNA statement said, was somebody who “does not even have the basic appearances of a human being.” Read the rest of this entry »
Senators briefed at WH by military, intelligence officials.
WASHINGTON—The Trump administration said it is launching an urgent push, combining diplomatic pressure and the threat of military action in a bid to halt North Korea’s advancing nuclear-weapons program.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, one of those who briefed senators at a classified briefing hosted by the White House on Wednesday, also plans to host a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Friday, where he will propose international officials redouble efforts to enforce economic sanctions and isolate North Korea.
North Korea’s Missile Advancements
The State Department said Mr. Tillerson is considering harsh measures such as asking other countries to shut down North Korea’s embassies and other diplomatic facilities. Read the rest of this entry »
Vice President Mike Pence broke from his schedule Monday morning and took an unannounced trip to the Korean Demilitarized Zone.
Though other top ranking U.S. officials have visited the DMZ in the past, Pence actually ventured outside and stared down North Korean troops.
Mike Pence (CNN)
“Yeah, you better keep walking.”
In addition to his visit to the DMZ, Pence sent North Korea a warning statement Monday morning … (read more)
Source: The Daily Caller
China Deploys 150,000 Troops to Deal with Possible North Korean Refugees Over fears Trump May Strike Kim Jong-unPosted: April 10, 2017
The Chinese army has reportedly deployed 150,000 troops to the North Korean border to prepare for pre-emptive attacks after the United States dropped airstrikes on Syria.
President Donald Trump‘s missile strike on Syria on Friday was widely interpreted as a warning to North Korea.
The troops have been dispatched to handle North Korean refugees and ‘unforeseen circumstances’, such as the prospect of preemptive attacks on North Korea, the news agency said.
China’s top nuclear envoy arrived in Seoul Monday for talks on the North Korean threat, as the United States sent the naval strike group to the region and signalled it may act to shut down Pyongyang’s weapons program.
Speculation of an imminent nuclear test is brewing as the North marks major anniversaries including the 105th birthday of its founding leader on Saturday – sometimes celebrated with a demonstration of military might.
Wu Dawei, China’s Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Affairs, met with his South Korean counterpart on Monday to discuss the nuclear issue.
The talks come shortly after Trump hosted Chinese leader Xi Jinping for a summit at which he pressed Pyongyang’s key ally to do more to curb the North’s nuclear ambitions.
‘(We) are prepared to chart our own course if this is something China is just unable to coordinate with us,’ US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said after the summit.
He added however that Beijing had indicated a willingness to act on the issue.
‘We need to allow them time to take actions,’ Tillerson said, adding that Washington had no intention of attempting to remove the regime of Kim Jong-Un. Read the rest of this entry »
A U.S. flag is bizarrely tweaked ahead of a news conference between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. REUTERS/Jacquelyn Martin/Pool
China lashed out at the United States for its “terrible human rights problems” in a report on Thursday, adding to recent international criticism of Washington on issues ranging from violence inflicted on minorities to U.S. immigration policies.
The U.S. State Department‘s annual report on rights in nearly 200 countries last week accused China of torture, executions without due process, repression of political rights and persecution of ethnic minorities, among other issues.
China is internationally regarded as the world’s worst abuser of human rights.
In an annual Chinese response to the U.S. report, China’s State Council, or cabinet, said the United States suffered from rampant gun violence and high levels of…
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“The worrisome thing here is the outside partner. This is not just a three sided game, North Korea, South Korea, and the U.S. — it’s the Chinese reaction. The Chinese are watching the United States after eight years of withdrawal, accommodation, and essentially no response to Chinese expansion — they’re seeing the United States now asserting itself. The U.S.S. Carl Vinson an aircraft carrier is now in the South China Sea. Trump has just sent B-52’s into South Korea as a way to threaten the North Koreans, and everyone knows what they carry, they carry nuclear weapons. But the worst thing from the Chinese point of view is the THAAD: This is the antimissile system. The Chinese react to that the way the Russians did to the anti-missile system we wanted to put in Eastern Europe. They get very upset because it can be applied against them. Yes, our reason for doing it is to defend the South Koreans against the North. But the overall effect is to put up a missile shield that could degrade and weaken the Chinese arsenal. They know that. They are very worried about that. And they’re getting semi-hysterical. Global Times which is a government-friendly publication just this week said that the government of China will no longer rule out a first nuclear strike. That’s a big deal. That’s not an official statement, but it tells you how much the Chinese are upset, which is why we are now rushing to install the THAAD by the end of April before the election so at least it’s a fait accompli — but this is a tinderbox.”
Source: National Review
Yawei Liu (刘亚伟) joined The Carter Center in 1998 and has been the director of its China Program since 2005. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations since 2014, the associate director of the China Research Center in Atlanta, and an adjunct professor of Political Science at Emory University. He co-authored Obama: The Man Who Will Change America (Chinese language, 2008).
He is the founding editor of http://www.chinaelections.org, http://www.uscnpm.org, and http://www.chinatransparency.org. Since 2012, he has organized an annual forum on U.S.-China relations. Read the rest of this entry »