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.
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 »
Alice Su reports: The latest protests in Hong Kong appear to have touched a nerve in Beijing, where officials and state media have escalated rhetoric against the pro-democracy movement, accusing the United States of interference and ominously affirming the People’s Liberation Army’s ability to intervene at the Hong Kong government’s request.
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said at a news conference Wednesday morning that the protests on Sunday were “intolerable.”
“Some radical protesters’ actions challenge the authority of the central government and the bottom line of ‘One Country, Two Systems,’” Wu said, adding that the ministry would follow Article 14 of Hong Kong’s Basic Law.
“One Country, Two Systems” is China’s way of referring to its administration of Hong Kong, under which it is part of China but allowed to maintain some degree of autonomy. Article 14 states that the Chinese government’s military forces stationed in Hong Kong will not interfere in local affairs unless the Hong Kong government requests assistance “in the maintenance of public order” or for disaster relief.
As mass protests against a proposed extradition bill morphed into a desperate pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong over the last two months, the local government has denied rumors that the Chinese military might intervene. Some analysts who study Hong Kong expressed skepticism that Beijing would send its military, which could have devastating consequences.
But Chinese officials and media are now stoking nationalist anger with rhetoric that’s been used to pave the way for crackdowns in the past, specifically with accusations of foreign intervention and condemnations of “chaos” and “disorder.”
Sunday’s protests broadened the scope of conflict as protesters shifted from targeting the Hong Kong territorial government and police to directly challenging the Chinese government.
Thousands marched to Beijing’s representative office in Hong Kong, chanting a pro-independence slogan. They splattered the Chinese government emblem with eggs and black ink and spray-painted the walls with derogatory terms for China. 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 »
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.
[VIDEO] Hong Kong’s PLA Garrison Stages Biggest Military Parade in 20 Years as Xi Jinping Inspects TroopsPosted: June 30, 2017
President Xi Jinping today inspected 20 squads of the People’s Liberation Army garrison in Hong Kong at the biggest military parade since the city’s handover to China – marking 20 years since the army was first stationed here in 1997.
Xi Asserts Authority in Hong Kong
HONG KONG (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping inspected troops based in Hong Kong on Friday as he asserts Chinese authority over the former British colony China took control of 20 years ago.
Xi rode in an open-top jeep past rows of soldiers lined up on an airstrip on his visit to the People’s Liberation Army garrison. He called out “Salute all the comrades” and “Salute to your dedication” as he rode by each of the 20 troop formations.
Armored personnel carriers, combat vehicles, helicopters and other pieces of military hardware were arrayed behind the troops.
It was a rare display of the Chinese military’s might in Hong Kong, where it normally maintains a low-key presence.
Xi, wearing a buttoned-up black jacket in the steamy heat, spent about 10 minutes reviewing the troops at the Shek Kong base in Hong Kong’s suburban New Territories. It’s part of a visit to mark the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover, when Britain gave up control of the Asian financial hub to China on July 1, 1997.
President Donald Trump is growing his brand in China.
David Francis reports: According to a report from the Associated Press, the Chinese government has approved nine Trump trademarks it had earlier rejected, in whole or in part. The latest development is likely to add to the growing controversy over Trump’s potential conflicts of interest, and especially charges that he could be in violation of the emolument clause of the U.S. Constitution, which is supposed to prevent a sitting president from gaining a financial benefit from foreign nations.
There are now three lawsuits alleging the president is violating the Constitution by refusing to put his assets into a blind trust; Trump has put his son in charge of managing his many business dealings. Trump’s new Washington hotel is a particular sore spot, since many visiting delegations stay there. One was filed by nearly 200 Congressional Democrats Wednesday; a joint one was filed by the attorney generals of Washington, D.C. and Maryland; and a similar suit was filed by the watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
Benefitting from foreign governments, whether through hotel bills or the granting of trademarks, lie at the center of all these cases. In the case of the China trademarks, records don’t show why these requests were initially rejected or why they were reconsidered. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
From China Digital Times: In recent cartoons for CDT, Badiucao puts a Valentine twist on President Trump’s emerging relationship with President Xi Jinping, which took a step forward in a recent phone call:
Valentines, by Badiucao:
A second drawing focuses on Trump’s effort to patch up relations with Beijing by acknowledging the “one China” policy, which declares that Taiwan is part of China. Trump had earlier stated that he was “not committed” to the longstanding policy.
One China, by Badiucao
Since his inauguration in January, President Trump’s policy toward China has been elusive and unpredictable. He ignited a firestorm of controversy soon after taking office by accepting a phone call from President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan and later saying that he may choose not to adhere to the “one China” policy, which has defined the U.S.-China-Taiwan trilateral relationship for decades. These actions seemed to indicate that he would live up to campaign rhetoric to take a tougher line on China than his predecessors. Yet after two weeks of silence between the two leaders, Trump switched tacks by promising to uphold the one China status quo in a phone call with President Xi Jinping. From Simon Denyer and Philip Rucker of the Washington Post:
In a statement issued late Thursday, the White House said the two men had held a lengthy and “extremely cordial” conversation.
“The two leaders discussed numerous topics and President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our one-China policy,” the White House statement said.
In return, Xi said he “appreciated his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump, for stressing that the U.S. government adheres to the one-China policy,” which he called the “political basis” of relations between the two nations, state news agency Xinhua reported. [Source]
The call has been taken by many as a sign of acquiescence by Trump to Xi, as he acknowledged that his mention of the “one China” policy was at Xi’s request. From Jane Perlez of The New York Times:
But in doing so, he handed China a victory and sullied his reputation with its leader, Xi Jinping, as a tough negotiator who ought to be feared, analysts said. Read the rest of this entry »
In an aggressive move, a Chinese naval reconnaissance vessel enters waters near Kuchinoerabu Island off Kagoshima Prefecture.
Ayako Mie reports: A Chinese navy reconnaissance vessel entered Japanese territorial waters near Kuchinoerabu Island off Kagoshima Prefecture early Wednesday morning — the first time since 2004 that a Chinese military ship has done so.
Wednesday’s incursion comes just under a week after a Chinese naval frigate entered the contiguous zone just outside Japan’s territorial waters near the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
The ministry said it warned the Chinese ship to exit the territorial waters — generally defined under international law as within 12 nautical miles (22 km) of a nation’s land border — prompting it to leave the waters south of Yakushima Island, sailing southeast, at around 5 a.m.
Wednesday’s incursion was the second time since the end of World War II that a Chinese military ship entered Japanese waters. The last time was in 2004, when a Chinese submarine was detected in the territorial waters near Ishigaki Island in Okinawa Prefecture. In response, Yoshinori Ono, the Defense Agency’s director general at the time, ordered the MSDF to boost its maritime security measures.
Such an order was not issued this time as the Chinese ship left before the Defense Ministry could determine if the passage involved any malicious intent, the ministry said.
International law allows all ships, regardless of their country of registration, to pass through another country’s territorial waters so long as they do not endanger the peace and security of the coastal state.
While Beijing’s intentions remain unclear, Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said that the Chinese ship entered the waters after following two Indian ships participating in the trilateral Malabar drills. Japan, the U.S. and India have been conducting those exercises in the waters east of Okinawa, near the Senkakus, since last Friday.
The Chinese ship also shadowed the U.S. aircraft carrier John C. Stennis, which was participating in the joint exercise, Reuters reported, citing a Japanese official.
The intrusion by the Chinese navy comes just six days after a Chinese Navy frigate entered the contiguous waters near the Japanese-administered Senkakus, which are also claimed by China and Taiwan, where they are known as the Diaoyu and Tiaoyutai, respectively.
While the Senkakus are uninhabited, Kuchinoerabu Island has a population of 123 as of the end of last month. It is a popular tourist destination and a part of Yakushima National Park. Read the rest of this entry »
Videos are currently circulating online of a mysterious car crash that occurred earlier today in Tiananmen Square.
Currently, not much is known about the incident, which occurred at around 7:20 a.m. this morning. While there are rumors of a planned attack and explosion, Chinese state media has called the incident a “vehicle rollover” in which a driver and cyclist were injured.
And it appears that the situation at the square has since returned back to normal. Read the rest of this entry »
Multi-warhead weapon tested amid growing tensions with the United States.
The flight test of the DF-5C missile was carried out earlier this month using 10 multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles, or MIRVs. The test of the inert warheads was monitored closely by U.S. intelligence agencies, said two officials familiar with reports of the missile test.
The missile was fired from the Taiyuan Space Launch Center in central China and flew to an impact range in the western Chinese desert.
No other details about the test could be learned. Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Gary Ross suggested in a statement the test was monitored.
“The [Defense Department] routinely monitors Chinese military developments and accounts for PLA capabilities in our defense plans,” Ross told the Washington Free Beacon.
The test of a missile with 10 warheads is significant because it indicates the secretive Chinese military is increasing the number of warheads in its arsenal.
Estimates of China’s nuclear arsenal for decades put the number of strategic warheads at the relatively low level of around 250 warheads.
U.S. intelligence agencies in February reportedthat China had begun adding warheads to older DF-5 missiles, in a move that has raised concerns for strategic war planners.
Uploading Chinese missiles from single or triple warhead configurations to up to 10 warheads means the number of warheads stockpiled is orders of magnitude larger than the 250 estimate.
Currently, U.S. nuclear forces—land-based and sea-based nuclear missiles and bombers—have been configured to deter Russia’s growing nuclear forces and the smaller Chinese nuclear force.
Under the 2010 U.S.-Russian arms treaty, the United States is slated to reduce its nuclear arsenal to 1,550 deployed warheads.
A boost in the Chinese nuclear arsenal to 800 or 1,000 warheads likely would prompt the Pentagon to increase the U.S. nuclear warhead arsenal by taking weapons out of storage.
The new commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, Air Force Gen. John Hyten, stated during a Senate confirmation hearing in September that he is concerned about China’s growing nuclear arsenal.
“I am fully aware that China continues to modernize its nuclear missile force and is striving for a secure second-strike capability,” Hyten told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“Although it continues to profess a ‘no first use’ doctrine, China is re-engineering its long-range ballistic missiles to carry multiple nuclear warheads and continues to develop and test hyper-glide vehicle technologies,” Hyten added. Read the rest of this entry »
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese are heading to temples and fairs to wish for an auspicious start to the Lunar New Year.
Thousands gathered at Beijing’s major temples on Saturday, the first day of the Year of the Rooster. Wearing heavy winter coats, they lit incense sticks and bowed as they prayed for good fortune and health. As many as 80,000 people were expected at the Lama Temple in central Beijing, state television reported.
Beijing’s sprawling spring festival temple fair opened at Ditan Park, where empty tree branches were festooned with red lanterns and traditional goods and foods were for sale. Read the rest of this entry »
While Americans embrace their reinstated confidence in both economics and international affairs, China seems to be going the opposite direction.
Deng probably hoped future Chinese leaders would be humble and restrained, keep a low profile, and instead of broadcasting China’s ambitions or showing off China’s economic or military muscles, quietly focus on overcoming China’s weaknesses, such as economic development. In international affairs, Deng probably would have liked to see China avoid acting like an aggressor. Instead, he would have preferred China shun either causing any international conflict or serving as a leader of any faction within an international conflict.
When Deng passed away in 1997, China was still in its first decade of economic reform and its per-capita gross domestic product was less than $800, so the kind of restrained policy approach he advocated made perfect sense. No one knows how long Deng intended for this policy guidance to last. But Deng’s successors, from Hu Yaobang to Hu Jingtao (they aren’t related), pretty much followed Deng’s policy guidelines until President Xi Jinping assumed power in 2012.
No More Humility and Restraint
It seems President Xi has abandoned Deng’s strategic policy guidelines. On the domestic front, he focused on ensuring his power by purging many political rivals through the anti-graft movement. In October, he was declared the “core” leader of the Chinese Communist Party, a title last used by Chairman Mao.
He coined the term “China dream” to counter “American dream.” While “American dream” is about any hard-working individual living to his or her full capacity in a free society, “China dream” means Chinese people can only live a better life by subjecting themselves to the Communist Party’s absolute rule. Under President Xi, the Chinese government has ruthlessly cracked down on dissidents, including Chinese nationals and foreigners, and China has become a much less friendly place to foreign investors and companies.
On the foreign policy front, China doesn’t lay low any longer. President Xi has been very vocal about China’s ambitions. He seems to believe that China’s rise to replace the United States as the next superpower is unstoppable and the time is now.
He sees at least two trends in his favor. First, there’s a consensus within the Chinese leadership and public opinion that the 2008 economic crisis has produced long-lasting devastating effects to the West: most countries in Europe are still struggling economically while the United States has experienced a very timid recovery. Since China emerged from the 2008 economic crisis relatively unscathed, many people, including Xi, believed that free market economics have reached their end and it’s time to adopt the Chinese-style authoritarian mercantile economic model. Thus, China should replace the United States to set a new economic order.
Second, based on a misguided belief that the world is a better place when the United States gives up its power and authority in a global system established since World War II, President Obama has been ready and willing to acquiesce America’s leadership in international affairs in the last eight years. President Xi quickly sized up president Obama as a weak leader, and sought to expand China’s influence and challenge America wherever opportunities rise. Read the rest of this entry »
Clifford Lo reports: About 200 parcels mailed from the mainland to the United States carrying counterfeit electronic products were intercepted in a three-day joint operation mounted by Hong Kong Customs and United States authorities.
In Hong Kong, about 1,300 fakes including mobile phones, tablet computers and chargers were confiscated in 54 parcels totalling an estimated street value of HK$1.3 million, the Customs and Excise Department said.
It is understood some of the parcels intercepted in the United States were confiscated based on intelligence from Hong Kong customs officials.
Initial investigation showed the fake products were mailed from the mainland and destined for the US via Hong Kong, a source said. Read the rest of this entry »
Chinese President Xi Jinping made statements last month demanding a “new trend toward socialist family values” in China.
Xi made the comments at a conference “to honor model families” in December, according to Xinhua, defining “socialist family values” as “love for the nation, family and one another, devotion to progress and kindness, and mutual growth and sharing.” His New Year’s Eve address appeared to promote more of the same, demanding the Chinese people “work harder” to aid the Communist Party’s progress both nationally and globally.
“As long as our 1.3 billion-plus people are pulled together for a common cause, as long as the Party stands together with the people and we roll up our sleeves to work harder, we will surely succeed in a Long March of our generation,” Xi reportedly said in his address.
He made clear that the values he seeks to see Chinese families promote are indivisible from Communist Party edicts, reminding listeners that “law is virtue put down in words, and virtue is law borne in people’s hearts.”
Xi reportedly urged “fostering a belief in law, the rule of law and rules, and guiding people to voluntarily assume their statutory duties, as well as responsibilities for society and family.”
The Chinese Communist Party propaganda outlet The People’s Daily reported that Chinese citizens online “responded enthusiastically to President Xi Jinping’s New Year’s address, equally impressed by the content and inspirational phrasing of the speech.”
The Chinese media outlets’ emphasis on family values are contrasted with Western-style popular culture on the pages of the Global Times, another English-language propaganda outlet. While China’s president has repeatedly dwelled on “socialist family values” in recent speeches, the Times has decried reality show participants and celebrity divorcees as indicative of a trend of immaturity among young Chinese people. Read the rest of this entry »
Noting that Japan waged a war of aggression against China and other Asian countries, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a press conference, “Reconciliation between the inflicters and victims must and can only be based upon sincere reflection and apology from the inflicters.” This is the only way to realize “a genuine and lasting reconciliation,” she said. For victimized countries in Asia, “one sincere apology” is more important than “dozens of smart shows,” Hua said.
The People’s Daily newspaper of the Communist Party of China said in its Wednesday edition that the Pearl Harbor visit is criticized both in Japan and the United States because Abe made the trip before apologizing to war victims in Asian countries that Japan invaded during the war.
Meanwhile, a South Korean Foreign Ministry official, touching on Abe’s pledge never to wage war again in the speech, said that Japan, based on a correct understanding of history, should strive further to promote reconciliation and cooperation with neighbors that fell victim to its wartime militarism. Read the rest of this entry »
Oil Drilling ‘Ban’ Still Allows Production Outside America
“This is so egregious, it’s perfectly revealing of the fact that Obama as he leaves the White House, he’s trying to nail everything to the floor so it can’t be moved. Of course, it can be moved. First of all, he’s interpreting this 50, 60-year-old law, in a wildly different way. It was intended to protect the feeding areas of the walrus. It was supposed to be specific, narrow, small tracks, not this gigantic locking away.”
“Second, they can’t even defend it in its own terms. The idea that because we’re not going to drill here, the oil and natural gas is not going to be produced, is ridiculous. It’s going to end up being produced in Nigeria, places all over the world, where the standards — environmental standards and protections — are infinitely less than they are in the U.S. So even in terms of the environment, you’re increasing the danger. It’s very obvious that all they’re trying to do is prevent American production of hydrocarbons, and it’s futile. The Indians and the Chinese are opening a coal-fired plant every week. It is not going to stop. What we don’t do, they will do. What we are doing is exporting jobs, exporting the waste, and exporting the danger.”
Source: National Review
Since October, the government has acted to slow outflows by tightening existing measures, such as approvals for foreign currency transfers, and has leant on banks to be stricter, making it harder for companies and individuals to change money and transfer money abroad.
SHANGHAI: Zhang Yuting lives and works in Shanghai, has only visited the United States once, and rarely needs to use foreign currency. But that hasn’t stopped the 29-year-old accountant from putting a slice of her bank savings into the greenback.
“Expectations of capital flight are clear. I might exchange more yuan early next year, as long as I’ve got money.”
She is not alone. In the first 11 months of 2016, official figures show that foreign currency bank deposits owned by Chinese households rose by almost 32 per cent, propelled by the yuan’s recent fall to eight-year lows against the dollar.
The rapid rise – almost four times the growth rate for total deposits in the yuan and other currencies as recorded in central bank data – comes at a time when the yuan is under intense pressure from capital outflows.
The outflows are partially a result of concerns that the yuan is going to weaken further as US interest rates rise, and because of lingering concerns about the health of the Chinese economy.
US President-elect Donald Trump’s threats to declare China a currency manipulator and to impose punitive tariffs on Chinese imports into the US, as well as tensions over Taiwan and the South China Sea, have only added to the fears.
“Expectations of capital flight are clear,” said Zhang, who used her yuan savings to buy US$10,000 this year. “I might exchange more yuan early next year, as long as I’ve got money.”
Household foreign currency deposits in China are not huge compared to the money that companies, banks and wealthy individuals have been directing into foreign currency accounts and other assets offshore.
All up, households had US$118.72 billion of foreign money in their bank accounts at the end of November, while total foreign currency deposits were US$702.56 billion.
But the high growth rate in the household forex holdings are symbolic of a growing headache for the government as it struggles to counter the yuan’s weakness.
Since October, the government has acted to slow outflows by tightening existing measures, such as approvals for foreign currency transfers, and has leant on banks to be stricter, making it harder for companies and individuals to change money and transfer money abroad. Read the rest of this entry »
China returns seized U.S. drone
Beijing has returned a U.S. underwater drone seized last week in the South China Sea by a Chinese Navy vessel after “friendly” talks between the two countries, China’s Defense Ministry said in a short statement posted to its website Tuesday.
“After friendly consultations between the Chinese and U.S. sides, the handover work for the U.S. underwater drone was smoothly completed in relevant waters in the South China Sea at midday on Dec. 20,” the statement said.
The Pentagon confirmed the handover, but criticized the Chinese Navy over the move.
“The incident was inconsistent with both international law and standards of professionalism for conduct between navies at sea,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement. “The U.S. has addressed those facts with the Chinese through appropriate military channels, and have called on Chinese authorities to comply with their obligations under international law.”
The drone was scooped up by the Chinese Navy in the strategic waterway on Thursday in a row that also drew in U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and further stoked tensions between the two rivals.
The U.S. said the unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) had been operating in international waters.
The Chinese Defense Ministry said Saturday that a Chinese naval lifeboat had taken the drone “in order to prevent the device from causing harm to the safety of navigation and personnel of passing vessels.”
The Chinese side had criticized what it said were U.S. moves to dramatize the seizure and accused the U.S. of “frequently” dispatching vessels and aircraft to carry out “close-in reconnaissance and military surveys within Chinese waters.”
“China resolutely opposes these activities, and demands that the U.S. side should stop. … China will continue to be vigilant against the relevant activities on the U.S. side, and will take necessary measures in response,” Yang said.
The incident drew criticism from Trump, who takes office Jan. 20, and has vowed to deal with Beijing in a more hard-line manner.
Misspelling “unprecedented,” Trump tweeted Saturday: “China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters — rips it out of water and takes it to China in unpresidented act.”
He later reissued the tweet, correcting the spelling to “unprecedented.”
After China said it would return the drone, Trump spokesman Jason Miller tweeted a link to a news story detailing the announcement, saying: “@realdonaldtrump gets it done.”
Despite the apparent claim that Trump played a role in securing the drone’s return, there has been no evidence that this was the case.
Nearly 11 hours after his first China tweet, Trump delivered another dig at China. Read the rest of this entry »
The biggest monthly rise in the foreign currency account deposits so far this year came in January when the annual $50,000 conversion quota was reset and individuals rushed to change yuan into dollars.
SHANGHAI – Winni Zhou and John Ruwitch report: Zhang Yuting lives and works in Shanghai, has only visited the United States once, and rarely needs to use foreign currency. But that hasn’t stopped the 29-year-old accountant from putting a slice of her bank savings into the greenback.
“Expectations of capital flight are clear. I might exchange more yuan early next year, as long as I’ve got money.”
— Zhang Yuting
She is not alone. In the first 11 months of 2016, official figures show that foreign currency bank deposits owned by Chinese households rose by almost 32 percent, propelled by the yuan’s recent fall to eight-year lows against the dollar.
“Banks under pressure to minimize outflows are also offering deals and giveaways for people who voluntarily convert their forex savings back into yuan. Bank of Communications is entering any customer who changes more than $1,000 into yuan the chance to be part of a lucky draw, with various prizes, such as portable printers.”
The rapid rise – almost four times the growth rate for total deposits in the yuan and other currencies as recorded in central bank data – comes at a time when the yuan is under intense pressure from capital outflows. The outflows are partially a result of concerns that the yuan is going to weaken further as U.S. interest rates rise, and because of lingering concerns about the health of the Chinese economy.
“The more you see people converting, reflected in foreign currency deposits in the banking segment, it means obviously there’s pressure on the local currency.”
— Raymond Yeung, chief economist for Greater China at ANZ
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s threats to declare China a currency manipulator and to impose punitive tariffs on Chinese imports into the U.S., as well as tensions over Taiwan and the South China Sea, have only added to the fears.
“Regulators have a lot of control over what happens to those deposits, and they can control the rate of inflows into onshore FX deposits.”
“Expectations of capital flight are clear,” said Zhang, who used her yuan savings to buy $10,000 this year. “I might exchange more yuan early next year, as long as I’ve got money.”
Household foreign currency deposits in China are not huge compared to the money that companies, banks and wealthy individuals have been directing into foreign currency accounts and other assets offshore. All up, households had $118.72 billion of foreign money in their bank accounts at the end of November, while total foreign currency deposits were $702.56 billion.
But the high growth rate in the household forex holdings are symbolic of a growing headache for the government as it struggles to counter the yuan’s weakness.
Since October, the government has acted to slow outflows by tightening existing measures, such as approvals for foreign currency transfers, and has leant on banks to be stricter, making it harder for companies and individuals to change money and transfer money abroad.
More measures may be in the cards. Read the rest of this entry »
Michael Auslin is the author of “The End of the Asian Century: War, Stagnation, and the Risks to the World’s Most Dynamic Region,” which will be published by Yale in January. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.
Michael Auslin writes: In seizing an unmanned, underwater US Navy drone in international waters off the Philippines on Thursday, China has thrown down a North Korean-style gauntlet to both the outgoing Obama Administration and the incoming Trump team.
While media reports are still sketchy, it appears that a Chinese naval vessel was close enough to a US oceanographic survey ship to launch a small boat to grab the scientific drone as the American vessel was preparing to retrieve it. That would mean a ship-to-ship level of intimidation, and not a snatch-and-grab action in isolated waters.
Like in 2009, when the Chinese harassed the USNS Impeccable in the South China Sea, the latest action comes against a similarly unarmed US research vessel. This time, however, the Chinese flagrantly flouted international law, and unlawfully seized US property while possibly endangering the safety of US military personnel on the high seas.
Such a dramatic upping of the ante is out of character for China, and American officials should understand that Beijing now appears willing to take increasingly risky actions. This latest provocation may well be at least partly in response to President-elect Trump’s recent comments on China, Taiwan and the One-China Policy.
At the same time, the latest challenge comes on the heels of steadily degrading relations between the Obama Administration and China, including news that Beijing is rapidly militarizing its newly built islands located near the Philippines. On these reclaimed shoals, China has emplaced anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems in what can also be a precursor to fielding offensive weapons capabilities.
In response, senior US military leaders have made forthright statements about America’s national interest in maintaining open and uncontested sea lanes. These comments have put Beijing on notice that Washington will not sit idly by if China appears be upending decades of peaceful development in Asia’s waters. Read the rest of this entry »
Kissinger himself negotiated the One China policy, which recognizes the Chinese government in Beijing, as opposed to Taiwan.
Addy Baird reports: Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger dismissed concerns Wednesday about President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who has been criticized for his close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I hope and I am optimistic that the cooperative way will prevail… Keep in mind that if China and America are in conflict, then the whole world will be divided.”
“I pay no attention to this argument that he is too friendly with Russia,” Kissinger said at an event in Manhattan. “He would be useless at the head of Exxon if he was not friendly with Russia… I don’t hear those concerns at all.”
Kissinger was asked about Tillerson at an event put on by the Committee of 100, an organization that works to advance Chinese-American relations, where the former secretary talked about the future of U.S.-Chinese relations under Trump.
“I pay no attention to this argument that he is too friendly with Russia. He would be useless at the head of Exxon if he was not friendly with Russia… I don’t hear those concerns at all.”
But Kissinger walked a fine line in talking about Tillerson, joking when he was asked about the appointment that he didn’t “come to commit suicide,” but that he “sympathized” with Trump’s decision.
“Nobody can meet every single qualification for secretary of state,” Kissinger said. “I think it’s a good appointment.”
Reflecting on Trump’s developing relationship with China, Kissinger said he is optimistic about the coming administration.
“[We have to decide] whether to attempt to deal cooperatively or confrontationally” with China, Kissinger said. “I hope and I am optimistic that the cooperative way will prevail… Keep in mind that if China and America are in conflict, then the whole world will be divided.”
Earlier this month, Trump became the first U.S. president or president-elect to speak with the leader of Taiwan since 1979. And he suggested this past weekend that the U.S. shouldn’t have to be “bound” by the “One China” policy that American leaders have stood by for decades. Those comments “seriously concerned” China’s Foreign Ministry, its spokesperson said Monday. Read the rest of this entry »
The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said its findings come despite statements by the Chinese leadership that Beijing has no intention to militarize the islands in the strategic trade route, where territory is claimed by several countries.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) –David Brunnstrom reports: China appears to have installed weapons, including anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, on all seven of the artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea, a U.S. think tank reported on Wednesday, citing new satellite imagery.
“It now seems that these structures are an evolution of point-defense fortifications already constructed at China’s smaller facilities on Gaven, Hughes, Johnson, and Cuarteron reefs.”
The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said its findings come despite statements by the Chinese leadership that Beijing has no intention to militarize the islands in the strategic trade route, where territory is claimed by several countries.
“These gun and probable CIWS emplacements show that Beijing is serious about defense of its artificial islands in case of an armed contingency in the South China Sea. Among other things, they would be the last line of defense against cruise missiles launched by the United States or others against these soon-to-be-operational air bases.”
AMTI said it had been tracking construction of hexagonal structures on Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi reefs in the Spratly Islands since June and July. China has already built military length airstrips on these islands.
“This is the first time that we’re confident in saying they are anti-aircraft and CIWS emplacements. We did not know that they had systems this big and this advanced there. This is militarization. The Chinese can argue that it’s only for defensive purposes, but if you are building giant anti-aircraft gun and CIWS emplacements, it means that you are prepping for a future conflict.”
“It now seems that these structures are an evolution of point-defense fortifications already constructed at China’s smaller facilities on Gaven, Hughes, Johnson, and Cuarteron reefs,” it said citing images taken in November and made available to Reuters.
“This model has gone through another evolution at (the) much-larger bases on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief reefs.”
Satellite images of Hughes and Gaven reefs showed what appeared to be anti-aircraft guns and what were likely to be close-in weapons systems (CIWS) to protect against cruise missile strikes, it said.
Images from Fiery Cross Reef showed towers that likely contained targeting radar, it said.
AMTI said covers had been installed on the towers at Fiery Cross, but the size of platforms on these and the covers suggested they concealed defense systems similar to those at the smaller reefs.
“These gun and probable CIWS emplacements show that Beijing is serious about defense of its artificial islands in case of an armed contingency in the South China Sea,” it said. Read the rest of this entry »
Japan Prepares for Nuclear War with North Korea by Warning Citizens to Shelter in Event of Kim Jong-Un Bomb AttackPosted: November 25, 2016
Japanese people are bracing themselves for nuclear attack with chilling advise on what to do if Kim Jong-un presses the red button.
For the first time since North Korea began a series of nuke tests, people in Japan are being issued with terrifying instruction on how to deal with nuclear war.
A downloadable pamphlet is now available on the island nation’s civil defence website.
Called “Protecting Ourselves against Armed Attacks and Terrorism,” it outlines emergency measures in the event North Korean missiles are fired at the country.
Like the UK’s booklet it give top-tips on how to avoid being fried and radiated. Read the rest of this entry »
Winter can be brutal – so brutal that even stone sculptures need protection. In Anyang, central China’s Henan Province, the Chinese guardian lions’ stone sculptures were covered with plastic bags to guard it from extreme weather. The meteorological department had forecasted 10-14mm of snowfall in the province, and the “red scarf” was used as a protective measure to safeguard the cultural relics.
The reaction among the United States’ strongest allies in Asia — Japan and South Korea — was more severe, however, as local stock markets plunged.
Patrick Brzesk reports: As news of Donald Trump’s shocking presidential win was reverberating around the world Wednesday, media coverage in China was oddly scant — and not by accident.
“I think Trump is the tragedy of the American people. How did he win? It must be a scam. Now I think cats and dogs can be president!”
— Sina Weibo user Zhonghua Junlon
China’s censors had issued advance orders to media outlets to restrict coverage of the U.S. democratic contest. All websites, news outlets and TV networks were told not to provide any live coverage or broadcasts of the election and to avoid “excessive” reporting of the story, a source who was briefed on the official instructions told the South China Morning Post.
“In Tokyo, and across the Japanese archipelago, the election also was a sensation. TV stations in Japan rapidly rejigged schedules Wednesday afternoon to continue coverage of the U.S. election as the reality of a Trump presidency became apparent, while the Tokyo stock market crashed as the yen soared against a weakening dollar.”
In response, coverage of Trump’s upset was carried only as a secondary story across the Chinese media landscape, with most outlets highlighting a meeting between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Vladimir Putin instead.
China’s foreign ministry also stopped short of issuing congratulations to Trump in the immediate aftermath of the decision, instead stating: “China is closely following the U.S. presidential election, and expects to maintain healthy Sino-U.S. relations with the new government.” (Chinese President Xi Jinping was also making calls elsewhere: he rang outer space to congratulate the astronauts aboard China’s recently launched Shenzhou 11 spacecraft, wishing them “a victorious return.”)
The press restrictions were part of Beijing’s usual strategy of limiting the Chinese public’s exposure to Western ideas and democracy. Instead, censors told Chinese media to report “in a timely manner” on any embarrassing scandals during the election and to criticize “in depth” any perceived political abuses.
“2016 looks like it may be a turning point in world history with first Brexit and now this. I’m hoping 2016 doesn’t go down as the beginning of the end.”
— A manager at a major Japanese entertainment company, who spoke on condition of anonymity
To that end, the People’s Daily ran an editorial on the eve of the election saying that the current cycle had “undeniably revealed the dark side of so-called democracy in the U.S.” The paper, which is the official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, described the presidential contest as dark, tasteless, chaotic and nothing more than a “meaningless farce.” A similar editorial controlled by Xinhua said the election was “an expression of all of the American political system’s flaws.”
As Trump’s victory began to circulate around Chinese social media late Wednesday (local time), the response was a mix of surprise, schadenfreude and amusement.
Sina Weibo user Zhonghua Junlong said of the result: “It shows that the U.S. government and democracy have weakened. And at the same times it provided our country with a prosperous opportunity — it will make China more powerful.”
A user named Fangsi de qingchun weighed in with a more democratic-leaning reaction: “I think Trump is the tragedy of the American people. How did he win? It must be a scam. Now I think cats and dogs can be president!”
A Pew Research poll conducted in October showed that Clinton was the slim favorite of most Chinese, but an SCMP poll published earlier this week suggested that Trump was viewed somewhat more favorably in China than anywhere else in Asia. Read the rest of this entry »
Officers use pepper spray on protesters angry that Beijing will issue an interpretation of the semiautonomous city’s Basic Law.
Police used pepper spray on protesters in Hong Kong on Sunday evening as thousands rallied against Beijing’s plans to intervene in a political standoff over two local lawmakers who insulted China in the city’s legislature.
“The police was using very brutal violence to depress us. We were very angry because we think that for such an important issue, we at least have our right to protest.”
On Sunday, thousands marched in central Hong Kong to protest against China’s looming intervention. In scenes reminiscent of the city’s mass pro-democracy protests of 2014, video taken by local press showed police spraying the crowd and protesters protecting themselves with umbrellas.
“We were trying to occupy Connaught Road…but there were too many police and there were some conflicts between us. They used pepper spray. We tried to step back and fight again, but they kept on spraying.”
— Hayley Lee, 27, an airline cabin-crew member
Hong Kong Police Force senior superintendent Lewis Tse confirmed officers used pepper spray during a “chaotic” confrontation with some protesters late Sunday. He said two men—aged 39 years and 57 years—had been arrested.
Hundreds of protesters gathered near Western Street, in the city’s Sai Ying Pun district, as the march against China’s reinterpretation of the Basic Law turned into a standoff with the police. People held umbrellas aloft and wore face masks to protect themselves from the pepper spray.
“We were trying to occupy Connaught Road…but there were too many police and there were some conflicts between us,” said Hayley Lee, 27, an airline cabin-crew member. “They used pepper spray. We tried to step back and fight again, but they kept on spraying.”
In the crowd, familiar faces from the so-called Umbrella movement two years ago were present.
“The police was using very brutal violence to depress us,” said Nathan Law Kwun-chung, the 23-year-old newly elected “localist” who has advocated for greater autonomy from China. “We were very angry because we think that for such an important issue, we at least have our right to protest,” he said of police attempts to move the crowd near China’s official Liaison Office on Connaught Road.
As the night wore on, rows of police held their lines, while others looked on from the steps of the Western Police Station. Officers stood with shields, warning protesters to keep maintain control and stay calm.
Protesters continued to mill around, disorganized, and many were unsure about whether they would stay out for whole night. Still, they agreed they wanted to take a stand with Beijing’s decision expected to be made Monday. Read the rest of this entry »
Beijing’s Draft Ruling on Oath-Taking for Hong Kong Legislators ‘So Detailed it Amounts to a New Law’Posted: November 5, 2016
Constitutional expert says interpretation sets dangerous precedent for Beijing to interfere when it does not like a law, but Bar Association chairwoman believes it will have limited impact.
Joyce Ng reports: The Beijing draft ruling on how lawmakers should take their oath appears so elaborate that it amounts to making a new law for Hong Kong, lawyers say, though they differ on how much the intervention will affect the judicial system.
One professor says the ruling could set a dangerous precedent for Beijing to issue its own interpretation if it does not like a Hong Kong law or does not trust local judges in dealing with a sensitive issue. The Bar Association chief says the decision could provide clarity for lawmakers about oath-taking.
The draft interpretation, set to be voted on Monday, is likely to prescribe the format and conduct for legislators taking the oath and the consequences of non-compliance, as well as defining words like “allegiance” in Article 104 of the Basic Law, according to Basic Law Committee members who have been consulted by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee.
But Johannes Chan Man-mun, an expert in constitutional law at the University of Hong Kong, said such details should not exist in or be added to a document like the Basic Law.
“It is acceptable Beijing wants to define words like ‘allegiance’ and ‘uphold’, but to add in so much other detail is not interpreting the law but making a new law, which the Standing Committee cannot do,” he said.
The controversy erupted when two localist lawmakers used derogatory language about China when taking their oaths. The chief executive and secretary for justice then launched a court bid to disqualify the two, Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, from taking their Legco seats.
Under Article 18 of the Basic Law, if the Standing Committee wishes to apply a mainland law to Hong Kong, it must first consult the Hong Kong government and add it to annex 3 of the Basic Law. Chan said the Standing Committee arguably bypassed this procedure by way of interpretation.
Another possible point of the interpretation is to confirm that the Legislative Council’s secretary-general, who is in charge of administration issues, has the power to invalidate oaths.
Chan said it would be ridiculous to elevate the status of the secretary-general and put him in the constitutional document, giving him too much power. Read the rest of this entry »