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Nikki Haley to China: Cut Off Oil to North Korea or Else

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reports: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Wednesday appeared to threaten to disrupt Chinese crude oil shipments to North Korea following the hermit kingdom’s test of an intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday.

China’s refusal to completely cut off energy exports to North Korea have been a sticking point as the United States leads the charge to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

Haley revealed during a speech at the United Nations headquarters in New York City that President Donald Trump called Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday morning to tell him the time has come for China to cut off crude oil supplies to North Korea.

North Korean soldiers patrol the bank of the Yalu River which separates the North Korean town of Sinuiju from the Chinese border town of Dandong, northeast China (Getty)

North Korean soldiers patrol the bank of the Yalu River which separates the North Korean town of Sinuiju from the Chinese border town of Dandong, northeast China (Getty)

“We now turn to President Xi to also take that stand. We believe he has an opportunity to do the right thing for the benefit of all countries. China must show leadership and follow through. China can do this on its own, or we can take the oil situation into our own hands,” she said.

Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] Hong Kong’s PLA Garrison Stages Biggest Military Parade in 20 Years as Xi Jinping Inspects Troops 

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.

Chinese President Xi Jinping inspects Chinese troops of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Hong Kong Garrison at the Shek Kong Barracks in Hong Kong, Friday, June 30, 2017. Xi landed in Hong Kong Thursday to mark the 20th anniversary of Beijing taking control of the former British colony, accompanied by a formidable layer of security as authorities showed little patience for pro-democracy protests. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

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.

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-un

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.

And now China, left shocked by the air strikes, has deployed medical and backup units from the People’s Liberation Army forces to the Yalu River, Korea’s Chosun.com reported.

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.

Meanwhile, the US Navy has moved the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group from Singapore to North Korea after the country conducted more missile testing.

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 »


Badiucao: One Love, One China

From China Digital Times: In recent cartoons for CDT,  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:

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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

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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, , 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 Era of Journalism Cutbacks, a Chinese ‘Robot Reporter’ 

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More Chinese newsrooms are starting to use so-called “robot reporters,” but developers say their capabilities remain limited.

Te-Ping Chen reports: China has found itself in the midst of a full-blown robot obsession in recent years, with everything from robot monks to robot waiters grabbing headlines.

Now, the robots are writing the actual headlines, too — in certain newsrooms, anyway.

Last week, the Southern Metropolis Daily published its first-ever report written by what the newspaper describes as a “robot reporter.” The story, clocking in at just over 300 words, summarizes what train tickets are most in demand bn-rt602_robot_cv_20170124041448over the Lunar New Year holiday, during which millions of Chinese workers travel home to see their families. It discusses which routes are selling out fast and advises travelers to buy tickets soon, cautioning that for certain routes, all seats are sold out.

“You’ll have to stand the whole way, the route will be more exhausting,” it advises. The Southern Metropolis Daily story is bylined “Xiao Nan Robot,” or ‘Little South’ robot and accompanied with a picture of a white, rotund robot riding atop a thick black pen.

So far, though, the scope of robot reporters is limited, says Wan Xiaojun, a computer-science professor at Peking University who worked to develop the newspaper’s program.

Mr. Wan explains that Xiao Nan is currently programmed only to analyze train-ticket sales, which accounts for the somewhat monotonous nature of its reporting. “There Are Still High-Speed Rail Tickets From Guangzhou to Numerous Destinations for Lunar New Year’s Eve,” ran one robot-produced headline today. “Hard-Seat Tickets on the 26th From Guangzhou to Zhengzhou Are Still Available,” ran another yesterday.

[Read the full story here, at China Real Time Report – WSJ]

Sports are another fertile area for robot coverage: another robot-reporter program Mr. Wan worked on was used by news publisher Toutiao during the Rio Olympics last year, producing more than 400 news briefs, he said. Those briefs were built off published game statistics or summarized the transcribed narration of sports broadcasters, seeking out keywords such as “goal,” “red card” and more. Read the rest of this entry »


Helen Raleigh: 2017 May Be The Year China’s Chickens Come Home To Roost 

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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 conshun either causing any international conflict or serving as a leader of any faction within an international conflict.

[Check out Helen Raleigh’s book “Confucius Never Said” at Amazon.com]

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.

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[Read the full story here, at The Federalist]

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 51hkz5w3lkl-_sl250_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.

[Check out Helen Raleigh’s other book “The Broken Welcome Mat: America’s un-American immigration policy, and how we should fix it” at Amazon.com]

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.

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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 »


China’s Xi Calls for ‘Socialist Family Values’ in 2017 as Anti-Beijing Sentiment Grows

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Chinese President Xi Jinping made statements last month demanding a “new trend toward socialist family values” in China.

Frances Martel reports: The Chinese state news agency Xinhua is promoting statements by President Xi Jinping made last month demanding a “new trend toward socialist family values” in China as the Communist Party faces a 2017 teeming with new challenges from separatist groups, religious minorities, and even Maoists who reject Xi’s autocratic capitalist reforms.

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.

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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.”

Wu Zhihong Nation of Giant Infants

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.”

[Check out Wu Zhihong’s bookThe Giant Baby Nation” (Chinese Edition) at Amazon.com]

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 »


China Not Following Through on Market Reform Promises, says German Ambassador

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Michael Clauss hits out at lack of progress in market reforms and a reality that contradicts Beijing’s declared intentions.

wendy-wuWendy Wu reports: China isn’t following through on its market reform pledges as quickly as desired, German ambassador to China Michael Clauss said in an interview.

“I regret to note that the reform initiatives taken at the third plenum apparently have lost momentum,” Clauss told the South China Morning Post in Beijing.

The Communist Party, under the leadership of Xi Jinping, pledged three years ago that China would allow the market to play a “decisive” role in resources allocation. But the promises of adopting more market-oriented changes have mostly been shelved as Beijing beefs up intervention in economic activities, from coal mine operations to capital account controls.

“It seems that preserving social stability and discipline are the order of the day much more than implementing the necessary economic reforms,” Clauss said.

“Officially, China propagates a policy of open markets and unfettered access for foreign trade and investment. However, we note that very often [the] reality on the ground does not correspond to the declared intention of the Chinese government to facilitate foreign direct investment.

“On a long-term perspective, we sense a growing tendency in China towards market closure and favouring of indigenous production,” he said.

At a key policy meeting that ended on Friday, the leadership again highlighted “stability” and “financial risk prevention” as priorities for the coming year, sending a clear message that bold moves in market opening or liberalisation were off the table, observers said.

They are worried that Beijing is also unlikely to make painful cuts in the bloated state sector, for fear of possible social unrest, before the top leadership reshuffle at 19th party congress in the autumn.

[It’s time for China to honour its pledge to open up the market and society – and play fair]

Survey results of commerce chambers of China’s major trading partners have underscored the increasing difficulties of doing business in China, including ambiguous security laws, limited market access and an official favouring of domestic technology.

Last year Beijing launched “Made in China 2025” – a campaign to revamp its manufacturing sector, and establish a home-grown hi-tech powerhouse.

“We wonder whether this is what in the end China 2025 is all about: a future Chinese economy relying on its own, leaving no room for exchanges with its partners,” Clauss said, adding that plans for German companies to expand investment in China had fallen to a three-year low.

Since late last year, Beijing has strengthened controls on individuals and companies transferring funds overseas to stem capital outflows and defend the yuan’s exchange rate. Read the rest of this entry »


Kissinger Dismisses Concerns About Tillerson, One China Policy

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Kissinger himself negotiated the One China policy, which recognizes the Chinese government in Beijing, as opposed to Taiwan. 

Addy Bairdaddy-baird-staff-photo-squarespace 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.

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“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.

[Read the full story here, at POLITICO]

“[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 concernedChina’s Foreign Ministry, its spokesperson said Monday. Read the rest of this entry »


OH YES THEY DID: As Expected, China Installs Weapons Systems on Artificial Islands

U.S. Navy leadership and senior officers from the Chinese People's Liberation Army (Navy) meet for lunch aboard the Chinese destroyer Harbin (DDG 112) marking the conclusion of a U.S.-China counter piracy exercise between Harbin and the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87). Mason is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Gary M. Keen/Released)

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.

DigitalGlobe overview imagery from June 3rd, 2016 of the Fiery Cross Reef located in the South China Sea. Fiery Cross is located in the western part of the Spratly Islands group. Photo DigitalGlobe via Getty Images.

“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 »


Carlos Eire: Requiem for a Despot

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Slavery is what Fidel’s revolution was about. Brooking no dissent, he enslaved a nation in the name of eternal class warfare, creating a new elite dedicated to suppressing their neighbors’ rights.

Carlos Eire writes: Dead at last, dead at last. Fidel Castro has shuffled off this mortal coil, at the age of ninety. Unfortunately, his death comes a bit too late—about sixty years too late. Millions of his people had been awaiting this moment for well over half a century. And as we Cubans rejoice, we weep. Our losses over the past six decades have been far too great, and so our glee is far from unbridled.

“Fidel justified his repressive policies by insisting that the Cuban people were incapable of achieving social justice by any other means.”

Slavery is what Fidel’s revolution was about. Brooking no dissent, he enslaved a nation in the name of eternal class warfare, creating a new elite dedicated to suppressing their neighbors’ rights. He pitted Cubans against one another, replacing all civil discourse with invective and intimidation.

“Likewise, many of Fidel’s First-World admirers view Cubans as postmodern equivalents of Rousseau’s noble savage—as primitives who are uncorrupted by civilization and incapable of comprehending Enlightenment notions of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—or perhaps as swarthier versions of Mussolini’s unruly Italians, that is, hot-blooded Latin rustics in need of a strong leader who can make their trains run on time.”

Fidel boasted that he was loved by the Cuban people and spoke for us, that he was our very embodiment. But these were some of the boldest of his many big lies. The Cuban people he spoke for were but a monstrous abstraction, a figment that he projected onto the world stage. Flesh-and-blood Cubans had to be forced to attend his interminable speeches, or, as now, his funeral.

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“Fidel portrayed those who fled his dystopia as selfish troglodytes. These nonconformists were vilified not just by Fidel but by all those around the world who believed his lies, including many eminent intellectuals, artists, and journalists in free, affluent nations.”

Dissenters were demonized. If you objected to his self-anointing as Maximum Leader or disdained his dystopian vision, two painful choices were open to you. Just two.

You could oppose him. But if you dared, even by murmuring in the dark, you faced imprisonment, torture, or death. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans were brave enough to suffer these consequences, but the world beyond the island’s shores ignored them, even denied their existence.

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“Why does the First World display so little indignation over Fidel’s labor camps and prisons, his torture chambers, and the summary executions with which he purchased his shamefully inadequate healthcare and indoctrination programs?” 

The other option was to beg for the privilege of banishment. Nearly two million Cubans chose that route, but millions more never got the chance. No one knows how many have died trying to escape by sea without his magnanimous permission.

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“Why do so many well-heeled tourists flock to the ruin Cuba has become? Why are so few of them offended by Cuba’s endemic racism, or the apartheid laws that deny ordinary Cubans access to the finest beaches and hotels in their own homeland?”

Fidel portrayed those who fled his dystopia as selfish troglodytes. These nonconformists were vilified not just by Fidel but by all those around the world who believed his lies, including many eminent intellectuals, artists, and journalists in free, affluent nations. Lately, the tyrant even seemed to gain approval from His Holiness, Pope Francis, who paid him a very cordial visit.

[Read the full story here, at First Things]

For the millions of Cubans who remained in Fidel’s kingdom, the losses were even more profound. As they waved tiny Cuban flags at mass rallies and waited in line for necessities with their ration books in hand, as they listened to Fidel’s promises of a very distant glorious future, these Cubans watched others leave by the hundreds of thousands. When nearly two million refugees flee from a small island nation, everyone who remains is touched by loss. The exodus is all the more galling when those who have fled prosper in exile and those who remain become ever more destitute. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] U.S.-China Relations: Three Things to Watch

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping spoke late Sunday and set a tone of “mutual respect.” But if Mr. Trump’s earlier campaign rhetoric is put in motion, U.S.-China relations look set for a significant shift. WSJ’s Niki Blasina explains.

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China Responds to U.S. Election With Heavy Censorship

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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.

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“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.

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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.”)

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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.

An investor at a brokerage firm in the Chinese city of Heifi on Wednesday. Individual investors who began selling in mid-June helped unleash a downward spiral of more selling. Photo: Reuters

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.”

[Read the full story here, at Hollywood Reporter]

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 »


China Blocks Hong Kong Lawmakers in a Reminder of Who is In Charge

Cheng Chung-tai speaks to supporters in Hong Kong elections

Hong Kong is reminded that the freedoms it enjoys are ultimately at the whim of Beijing.

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” is an 18th Century trumpet call for free speech, one often repeated by parliamentarians around the world… but never in China.

The message from Beijing to its unruly territory 2,000km (1,350 miles) south is, by contrast, “we disapprove of what you say and we hereby decree that you have no right to say it”.

China has now spoken on the question of whether elected members of Hong Kong’s legislature can use that public platform to campaign for ideas offensive to China and the answer is a resounding no. In a unanimous decision by a panel of the Communist Party-controlled national parliament, Hong Kong has been reminded that the freedoms it enjoys are ultimately at the whim of Beijing.

Today’s “interpretation” of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution is one of the most significant interventions in Hong Kong’s legal system in two decades of Chinese rule. It is the first time China’s parliament, without the request of either the Hong Kong government or Court of Final Appeal, has interpreted the mini-constitution at a time when the issue is under active consideration in a Hong Kong court.

Newly elected lawmaker Yau Wai-ching displays a banner before taking oath at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China October 12, 2016.

Newly elected lawmaker Yau Wai-ching displays a banner before taking oath at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China October 12, 2016. Yau Wai-Ching had used her oath-taking attempts to insult China. – Reuters

Why didn’t China’s politicians wait till after a court ruling on whether two legislators might be allowed to retake their oaths? Li Fei, the chairman of the Basic Law Committee of China’s parliament, made the logic clear when he said the Chinese government “is determined to firmly confront the pro-independence forces without any ambiguity”.

The interpretation is a highly confrontational move which plunges Hong Kong into a new phase of its long running political and constitutional crisis. But Beijing’s move comes in response to an equally confrontational move from the other side.

[Read the full story here, at BBC News]

The two lawmakers, Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching, who used their swearing-in ceremony to insult China and talk of a “Hong Kong nation” should have known that a Chinese government so sensitive to questions of national pride and dignity would feel it had no choice but to act.

Legislative Councillors-elect Yau Wai-ching (L) and Sixtus Leung (R) are seen as thousands of people march through the streets of Hong Kong to protest against the Legislative Council oath-taking interpretation of the city's Basic Law, or mini-constitution, by the Chinese authorities in Beijing, Hong Kong, China, 6 November 2016

Ms Yau (left) and Sixtus Leung (right) have refused to pledge allegiance to Beijing

It was no surprise when China’s parliament said their words and actions had “posed a grave threat to national sovereignty and security”, with Li Fei adding: “The central government’s attitude is absolute. There will be no leniency.”

A price worth paying

The scope of Monday’s interpretation will raise inevitable questions about whether China is interpreting Hong Kong law, which is allowed, or re-writing it, which is not. And apart from disqualifying the two young legislators at the heart of the crisis, it will raise a raft of questions about the way in which some of the other newly elected young democracy activists took their oaths.

A man yells during pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong

The democracy activists could now capitalise on anger in Hong Kong – AFP

For example, does reciting the oath in slow motion or using eccentric intonation contravene the interpretation’s insistence on “genuine” sincerity and solemnity? Who will decide? And if Beijing doesn’t like the decision of a Hong Kong court, what will it do next? For that matter, where does Beijing’s intervention leave the ongoing review of the oath taking question in Hong Kong’s courts? Read the rest of this entry »


BABY BOOM: Rich Chinese Paying California’s Surrogates $200,000 to Have Their Babies

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Top fertility agencies scramble to meet foreign demand for the States’ surrogate moms as new wealth and the end of one-child laws bring baby seekers willing to spend $200,000.

Kalee Thompson reports: The first time Dianna Barindelli carried a baby that wasn’t her own was in 2012. “We were done having kids, but I still wanted to be pregnant,” says the Modesto, Calif., stay-at-home mom, whose own daughters are 6 and 9. Barindelli signed up with the Center for Surrogate Parenting in Encino, one of the most exclusive surrogacy agencies in the world. In 2014, she matched with a Chinese couple.

“If they can afford to, they’ll demand a California surrogate because they’ve heard they are the best. It’s a supply-and-demand issue and has raised the prices of surrogacy in California.”

— Sam Everingham, founder of nonprofit Families Through Surrogacy

Unlike many agencies, CSP first shows parent applications to the surrogates, rather than the other way around. “It’s little things that you’ll connect with people over,” says Barindelli, who was attracted to pictures of the couple’s extended travels and their traditional wedding photos.

[Read the full story here, at Hollywood Reporter]

The embryo transfer took place in late 2014. Barindelli emailed the mom weekly, sending updates and ultrasound pictures with WeChat, an app that offers instantaneous translation. The intended parents (IPs) planned to be there for the birth, but the baby boy arrived two weeks early, 24 hours before they arrived. Says Barindelli: “I texted and made sure [the mom] was OK with him staying in my room. I cleared everything with her. I didn’t want her to feel bad that she wasn’t there.”

Courtesy of Dianna BarindelliBarindelli currently is a surrogate for a Taiwanese couple: she is due to give birth Feb. 1, 2017.

“We’ve seen a surge. There’s a lot of money in China that’s being put into the second child.”

— Christene Anthony, who matches Chinese IPs with American gestational carriers

Barindelli, who used her surrogacy fees to set up a college fund for her girls, is pregnant again, this time with the baby, due Feb. 1, of a Taiwanese couple. She may not be done: Her first Chinese couple emailed her recently, soon after their son’s first birthday. They still have frozen embryos and hope that Barindelli, now 40, will carry their second child.

[Read the full text here, at Hollywood Reporter]

Commercial surrogacy is banned in most parts of the world, as well as in many U.S. states. Until recently, infertile couples, singles and gay would-be dads had a handful of options to turn to when it came to finding a surrogate, among them India, Thailand, Nepal and Mexico, where surrogacy services have cost a quarter of the $100,000 to $200,000 bill typical in the U.S. But in the past few years, those countries have started enforcing laws banning international surrogacy. Meanwhile, China — the world’s most populous country, with a growing wealthy elite and where some doctors believe infertility is more common than in the U.S. — lifted its decades-long one-child policy. The result is a soaring Chinese demand for U.S. surrogacy services, one that is flourishing particularly in California, with its culturally friendly enclaves, excellent physicians and favorable state laws that regard IPs as a baby’s legal parents even before birth, if proper court documents are filed. “We have more legal firepower in terms of the statue and case law than anywhere else,” says Lesa Slaughter of The Fertility Law Firm in Woodland Hills, whose own twins were born via California surrogate.

“We’ve seen a surge,” says Christene Anthony, who matches Chinese IPs with American gestational carriers for CSP, which has facilitated more than 2,300 births since 1980 and is responsible for helping Elton John, Elizabeth Banks, Angela Bassett and Mitt Romney’s son Tagg become parents. “There’s a lot of money in China that’s being put into the second child,” she adds, noting that it has become common for reproductive endocrinologists, fertility attorneys and surrogacy agencies to hire Mandarin-speaking staffers to cater to Chinese clients. Despite CSP’s Southern California location, 51 percent of its clients now are foreigners, up from 15 percent a decade ago. Rival agency Growing Generations (clients have included Sarah Jessica Parker and 30 Rock director Todd Holland) also sees half of its clients coming from overseas, as does Gifted Journeys, a boutique agency in Pasadena. At San Diego’s Expect Miracles Surrogacy, international clients account for 80 percent of IPs. And of foreigners participating in this permutation of California’s birth tourism, the number of Chinese IPs is growing the fastest, making up the most common single foreign nationality for many agencies right now. Read the rest of this entry »


BEAST MODE: China Debuts J-20 Stealth Jet in Show of Strength

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ZHUHAI, China (Reuters) –Tim Hepher and Brenda Goh report: China showed its Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter in public for the first time on Tuesday, opening the country’s biggest meeting of aircraft makers and buyers with a show of its military clout.

“It’s a change of tactics for the Chinese to publicly show off weapons that aren’t in full squadron service yet, and demonstrates a lot of confidence in the capability, and also a lot of pride.”

— Sam Roggeveen, a senior fellow at the Sydney-based Lowy Institute

Airshow China, in the southern city of Zhuhai, offers Beijing an opportunity to demonstrate its ambitions in civil aerospace and to underline its growing capability in defense. China is set to overtake the U.S. as the world’s top aviation market in the next decade.

Two J-20 jets, Zhuhai’s headline act, swept over dignitaries, hundreds of spectators and industry executives gathered at the show’s opening ceremony in a flypast that barely exceeded a minute, generating a deafening roar that was met with gasps and applause and set off car alarms in a parking lot.

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“I think we learned very little. We learned it is very loud. But we can’t tell what type of engine it has, or very much about the mobility. Most importantly, we didn’t learn much about its radar cross-section.”

— Greg Waldron, Asia Managing Editor of FlightGlobal

Experts say China has been refining designs for the J-20, first glimpsed by planespotters in 2010, in the hope of narrowing a military technology gap with the United States. President Xi Jinping has pushed to toughen the armed forces as China takes a more assertive stance in Asia, particularly in the South China and East China seas.

“It is clearly a big step forward in Chinese combat capability,” said Bradley Perrett of Aviation Week, a veteran China watcher.

State-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) was also bullish on China’s appetite for new civilian planes, estimating the market would need 6,865 new aircraft worth $930 billion over the next 20 years.

The COMAC forecast – similar to long-term outlooks from well-established rivals Boeing Co and Airbus Group – said China would make up almost a fifth of global demand for close to 40,000 planes over the next two decades. Read the rest of this entry »


Mark Zuckerberg’s Long March to China

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The Chinese government likes to control social media and what people do with it—but Facebook looks willing to launch in China anyway.

Emily Parker writes: For U.S. Internet businesses, China is the land of moral defeat. Many people hoped that Western technology companies would loosen China’s control over information. Instead, those companies have willingly participated in efforts to censor citizens’ speech. Yahoo gave Chinese authorities information about democracy activists, landing them in jail. Microsoft shut down the blog of prominent media-freedom activist Michael Anti. Google censored search results that were politically sensitive in China. In 2006, those three companies came before Congress and were accused by a subcommittee chairman of “sickening collaboration” with the Chinese government. Google shut down its mainland Chinese search engine in 2010, publicly complaining about censorship and cybersecurity.

“The number of Chinese Internet users has surged to some 700 million, and they represent a valuable untapped resource for American companies with saturated, highly competitive home markets. But the Communist Party’s attempts to control information have also grown more intense.”

Facebook has been blocked in China since 2009, and its Instagram photo-sharing service was blocked in 2014. I once thought that it would be disastrous or impossible for the social network to try a Chinese adventure of its own, and some China experts still believe that to be true. But a Facebook launch in China now looks probable.

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Facebook’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has signaled to Beijing that he’s willing to do what it takes to get into the country. People who know the company well think it will happen. “It’s not an if, it’s a when,” says Tim Sparapani, who was Facebook’s first director of public policy and is now principal at SPQR Strategies, a consulting firm. Facebook declined to comment for this article, but Zuckerberg said last year: “You can’t have a mission to want to connect everyone in the world and leave out the biggest country.”

[Read the full story here, at MIT – technologyreview.com]

A decade after Google’s hopeful but ill-fated entry into China, U.S. Internet companies may see the Chinese market as even more tantalizing—yet impenetrable. The number of Chinese Internet users has surged to some 700 million, and they represent a valuable untapped resource for American companies with saturated, highly competitive home markets. But the Communist Party’s attempts to control information have also grown more intense. In addition to the “Great Firewall” that blocks access to foreign websites, legions of human censors, many employed at Internet companies, police domestic blogs and social networks. And a U.S. company would now have to compete with China’s own Internet giants. WeChat, a messaging app from the behemoth Tencent, has hundreds of millions of users.

facebook-eye

Zuckerberg clearly thinks China is worth the trouble, even if that means leaving some “Western values” at the door. Earlier this year, he traveled to Beijing and had a high-profile meeting with China’s propaganda chief, Liu Yunshan. Chinese state media reported that Facebook’s founder praised China’s Internet progress and pledged to work with the government to create a better cyberspace. Liu highlighted the notion of Internet governance “with Chinese characteristics.” The translation was clear: a Chinese version of Facebook would definitely be censored. This year’s trip was something of a sequel. In 2014, he hosted Lu Wei, minister of the Cyberspace Administration of China, at Facebook’s offices. President Xi Jinping’s book The Governance of China just happened to be on ­Zuckerberg’s desk.

[Read the full text here, at MIT – technologyreview.com]

This courtship hasn’t been without some awkward moments. When ­Zuckerberg posted a photo of himself cheerfully jogging through the polluted haze of Tiananmen Squarethis year, he was mocked on Chinese social media. But overall he has made the right moves, says Cheng Li, director of the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution. “Chinese leaders pay a lot of attention to personal relationships,” he says. “They think Mark ­Zuckerberg is a friend of China. He’s successful. He’s very China-friendly. He has a Chinese wife. He speaks Chinese. So what else do you want?”

At your service

Facebook will still have to overcome Beijing’s suspicions that American Internet companies could destabilize the Communist Party’s rule. Media outlets that described the Arab Spring as the “Facebook Revolution” didn’t do the company any favors. And documents leaked by the former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden fueled Chinese suspicions that American technology companies had “back doors” for U.S. government surveillance. Read the rest of this entry »


Helen Raleigh: Countries Like China Memory Hole Socialism’s Atrocities

Daily Life in China in the 1970s (43)

Chairman Mao inflicted human suffering in one country equivalent to the entirety of World War II. Not that socialism will allow its victims any remembrance.

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I was born in China, and finished my undergraduate education before coming to the United States to pursue a master’s degree. So I was typical of the output of China’s government-sanctioned education system. When I Chinese leader Xi Jinpingfirst came to the United States, although I had some doubts here and there about certain historical events I had been taught in China, I spent very little time questioning them. Instead, I focused on working hard to better myself economically, like many other immigrants have.

[Read the full text of ‘s article here, at thefederalist.com]

My parents rarely mentioned to me anything that had happened in the past. One thing they did tell me was that our family’ genealogy book, which covered many generations of our clan, was destroyed in China’s Cultural Revolution. As a writer, I always wanted to write a family history book. So when my parents turned 70 several years ago, I realized I’d better get my parents talking about the past.

What My Parents Remembered

What I learned from my parents was shockingly different from what I had been taught in China. Allow me to present two historical events to illustrate my point.

mao-propaganda

The first historical event is the “land reform.” The Chinese Communist Party pushed for nationwide “land reform” from 1950 to 1953. In our high school history book, there were only a few sentences about land reform. The movement was depicted as a popular and necessary measure to distribute land back to poor Chinese peasants, who were supposed to be the rightful owner of the land.

1026_censorship

Our Chinese literature class reinforced this notion. One of the required readings was an excerpt from a novel titled “Hurricane” (Baofeng Zhouyu, or 暴风骤雨) by a Chinese novelist, Zhou Libo. The novel supposedly presented the most realistic picture of land reform. It showed how the righteous landless peasants fought and won land reform despite sabotage by the evil landowners.

[Read the full story here, at thefederalist.com]

I especially remember the excerpt we were required to memorize. It illustrated what a joyful event it was armies took land and farm animals from land owners and redistributed them to poor peasants. This novel was so popular in China that it was later adapted into a movie and stage play. Read the rest of this entry »


The Return of Mao: a New Threat to China’s Politics

Archive/Getty Images

The dictator is enjoying a surge of popularity. But the rise of this neo-Maoist movement could upend China’s stability.

 writes: A heavy pall of pollution hangs over Tiananmen Square and from a distance the giant portrait of Mao Zedong above the entrance to the Forbidden City looks a little smudged. It is 8am and the temperature in central Beijing is already approaching 30C.

mao-coffin_in_mausoleum-old_postcard

But the heat and smog are no deterrent to the thousands of people waiting in hour-long queues to pay respects to the preserved body of the “great helmsman”. Since his death 40 years ago, Chairman Mao’s corpse — or, more likely, a wax replica — has been on display in a purpose-built mausoleum in the geographic and figurative heart of the Chinese capital. Well over 200 million people have visited.

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In the west, Mao is understood chiefly as China’s “Red Emperor” — a vicious dictator who fostered an extreme personality cult, launched the disastrous Cultural Revolution and masterminded a “Great Leap Forward” that resulted in the worst famine in history. Experts estimate that Mao was responsible for between 40 million and 70 million deaths in peacetime — more than Hitler and Stalin combined.

[Read the full text here, at FT.com]

However, while Hitler, Stalin and most of the other totalitarian dictators of the 20th century were repudiated after their deaths, Mao remains a central figure in modern China. The Communist party he helped found in 1921 and the authoritarian Leninist political system he established in 1949 still run the country. “Mao Zedong Thought” is enshrined in the party’s constitution and, since 1999, his face has adorned most banknotes (something he refused to allow during his lifetime).

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But this whitewashing of Mao’s legacy is a risky strategy. Thanks to the party’s tight control over education, media and all public discourse, most people in China know very little of Mao’s terrible mistakes. Indeed, the dictator is more popular today than at any time since his death. Last year nearly 17 million people made pilgrimages to his home town — Shaoshan — in rural central China. In the mid-1980s, barely 60,000 undertook the journey.

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China has also seen the rise of a vocal political movement of “neo-Maoists” — militant leftists who espouse many of the utopian egalitarian ideas that China’s current leaders have largely abandoned. These neo-Maoists are by definition an underground movement, which makes it very difficult to estimate their numbers, but public petitions sympathetic to their cause have garnered tens of thousands of signatures in recent years.

[Read the full story here, at FT.com]

Several experts believe a neo-Maoist candidate would probably win a general election in China today, should free elections ever be allowed. This means the movement could enjoy the sympathy of hundreds of millions of China’s 1.4 billion people. As such, it poses one of the biggest threats facing the authoritarian system in the world’s most populous nation today.

Mao in modern China

“Speed up comrades, walk forward,” a young man in a clean white shirt with a bullhorn yells at the tourists lined up in Tiananmen Square, many of whom bow three times before a large Mao statue as they enter the mausoleum. Visitors are not allowed to take photos and tall paramilitary officers shoo people along, ensuring nobody gets more than a quick glimpse of the figure wrapped in the hammer and sickle flag and laid out in a crystal coffin behind a glass wall. Just a kilometre away is the heavily guarded compound where China’s current leaders work and live.

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“Chairman Mao was a truly great man but this is not the country he dreamt of, this is not real communism.”

— University lecturer interviewed in Tiananmen Square

Many of the people visiting Mao’s remains have been left behind by China’s economic boom in recent decades. They see Mao as a symbol of a simpler, fairer society — a time when everyone was poorer but at least they were equally poor. Those who have studied the resurgence in Mao’s popularity in China see it as part of a broader global phenomenon that encompasses the appeal of Donald Trump in the US, Brexit in the UK and populist politicians on the left and right in Europe. At a time of sharp dislocation and intense resentment towards elites, people in many countries are attracted by nostalgia and tradition. For ordinary people in China, that means Mao and the classless society he envisioned. Read the rest of this entry »


China Paper says U.S., South Korea will ‘Pay the Price’ for Planned Missile System

BEIJING (Reuters) – The United States and South Korea are destined to “pay the price” for their decision to deploy an advanced missile defense system which will inevitably prompt a “counter attack”, China’s top newspaper said on Saturday.

“If the United States and South Korea harm the strategic security interests of countries in the region including China, then they are destined to pay the price for this and receive a proper counter attack.”

Tension on the Korean peninsula has been high this year, beginning with North Korea’s fourth nuclear test in January, which was followed by a satellite launch, a string of tests of various missiles, and its fifth and largest nuclear test last month.

In July, South Korea agreed with the United States to deploy the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system to protect against any North Korean threats.

South Korea aims to deploy the system on a golf course, a defense ministry official said on Friday.

But the plan has angered China, which worries that THAAD’s powerful radar would compromise its security and do nothing to lower temperatures on the Korean peninsula.

Military parade in Pyongyang

In a commentary, the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily said China’s opposition to THAAD would never change as it was a serious threat to the regional strategic security balance.

“Like any other country, China can neither be vague nor indifferent on security matters that affect its core interests,” the newspaper said in the commentary, published under the pen name “Zhong Sheng”, meaning “Voice of China”, often used to give views on foreign policy. Read the rest of this entry »


South China Morning Post Closes its Chinese-Language Websites Without Warning

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Things just keep getting worse and worse for Hong Kong’s paper of record.

Now, if you try to log onto South China Morning Post‘s Chinese-language news site or lifestyle site you are redirected to the paper’s English-language website and informed that SCMP’s Chinese-language services have been closed in order to better “integrate resources.” The message concludes, “We thank you for your past support.”

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And just like that years of Chinese-language reporting by the SCMP has been wiped out. Current and former employees told Quartz that they were not told in advance about the decision to close the site. This is backed up by the fact that SCMP’s Chinese-language news site, nanzao.com, was still posting stories on Facebook as late as this afternoon. Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong’s Election is Proof that ‘One Country, Two Systems’ is Alive and Well

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Ilaria Maria Sala writes: The bizarre “One Country, Two Systems” formula under which Hong Kong has been ruled since its handover to Beijing in 1997 has been declared dead many times—but last Sunday’s elections may just have proven its remarkable resilience.

“In many ways, the combination of Hong Kong with China has been like a marriage between two near-strangers, one of whom was brought to the altar without being asked their opinion, and where the power balance is fatally skewed.”

Invented by China’s former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping for China to govern Hong Kong, it was a bold and imperial idea. By allowing Hong Kong to retain its partially democratic system and freedom of expression, it would let the far away “province” govern itself, as long it remained loyal to the center.

“Leaders in Beijing are obsessed with control, and national identity in China is increasingly defined as supporting the Communist Party.”

The current Chinese government has more desire to control and more technology to do so than Deng or the emperors used to, but Hong Kongers are nevertheless guaranteed the right to vote in partial elections, freedom of speech and press, and an independent judiciary, rights citizens on the mainland only wish for.

Exclusive: punditfromanotherplanet Hong Kong Bureau

Exclusive: punditfromanotherplanet Hong Kong Bureau

“The sudden, unlawful arrest of dissidents is no surprise in China, but nothing of the kind had ever happened in Hong Kong.”

In many ways, the combination of Hong Kong with China has been like a marriage between two near-strangers, one of whom was brought to the altar without being asked their opinion, and where the power balance is fatally skewed. Hong Kong, with its long-held democratic aspirations and millions of residents who had fled Communist rule on the mainland, was never going to be an easy addition to China. Leaders in Beijing are obsessed with control, and national identity in China is increasingly defined as supporting the Communist Party.

[Read the full story here, at Quartz]

Unsurprisingly, “One Country Two Systems” has been under severe stress in recent years. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Faily McWorseThanCarter Abroad: POTUS’ Full Speech To People Of Laos

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks in Laos and delivers an adress to the people of Laos. He is the first US President to visit the country.

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…He also accused Americans of being isolated and ignorant because the United States is such a big country.

“The United States is and can be a great force for good in the world. But because we’re such a big country, we haven’t always had to know about other parts of the world,” he said. “If you’re in the United States, sometimes you can feel lazy and think we’re so big we don’t have to really know anything about other people.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Two Years After the Occupy Protests, Hong Kong’s Youth Made Big Gains in a Record-Breaking Election 

At least six seats have gone to new politicians allied with Occupy and other anti-Beijing protests. Some replaced established pro-democratic politicians, who have been fighting for democracy for three decades in Hong Kong. Of the 70 seats, 55 have been announced, with 22 going to pro-democracy candidates.

Isabella Steger reports: Voters in Hong Kong showed they’re willing to put their future in the hands of politicians as young as 23, casting aside some of the most well known faces in local politics in the process.

Hong Kongers turned up in record numbers for the polls on Sunday (Sept. 4) to vote for members of the new Legislative Council. The council has long been controlled by pro-Beijing politicians, but holding on to veto power with one third of the seats is necessary for the opposition to push back against proposed legislation that could tighten the Chinese Communist Party’s over Hong Kong.

As the final results continued to roll in on Monday afternoon—counting was delayed because long queues forced polling stations to close well after the cut-off time—the after-effects of 2014’s Occupy protests, or Umbrella Movement, could already be viscerally felt.

Read the rest of this entry »


China To Develop Next-Generation Modular Missiles with Artificial Intelligence 

Next-generation cruise missiles equipped with artificial intelligence and capable of being tailored for specific combat scenarios, are set to debut in China.

Ryan Pickerel reports: Future conflicts will demand cost-effective and versatile weaponry, such as modular cruise missiles outfitted with artificial intelligence, Wang Changqing told the China Daily, at the 2016 Hiwing Forum in Beijing.

“We plan to adopt a ‘plug and play’ approach in the development of new cruise missiles, which will enable our military commanders to tailor-make missiles in accordance with combat conditions and their specific requirements.”

Changqing is the director of the General Design Department of the Third Academy of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp.

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“Moreover, our future cruise missiles will have a very high level of artificial intelligence and automation.”

— Wang Changqing

“We plan to adopt a ‘plug and play’ approach in the development of new cruise missiles, which will enable our military commanders to tailor-make missiles in accordance with combat conditions and their specific requirements,” explained Changqing. “Moreover, our future cruise missiles will have a very high level of artificial intelligence and automation.”. Changqing indicated that China is already a global leader in artificial intelligence.

[Read the full story here, at The Daily Caller]

The new cruise missiles will “allow commanders to control them in a real-time manner, or to use a fire-and-forget mode, or to add more tasks to in-flight missiles,” Changqing said.

U.S. Navy leadership and senior officers from the Chinese People's Liberation Army (Navy) meet for lunch aboard the Chinese destroyer Harbin (DDG 112) marking the conclusion of a U.S.-China counter piracy exercise between Harbin and the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87). Mason is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Gary M. Keen/Released)

A modular missile is well-suited for future combat. The “destructive capacity, flight mode, and range” of the missiles can be easily adjusted to counter threats on the ground and at sea, Wang Ya’nan, editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge Magazine, informed China Daily. Read the rest of this entry »


The Umbrella Movement Fights Back

The run-up to the Sept. 4 election for Legislative Council is getting tense, and the governments of both Hong Kongand Beijing are watching with keen interest. 

For the first time, a crop of fresh-faced candidates who cut their political teeth during the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement in 2014 are hoping to bring to the lawmaking body their battle to emancipate Hong Kong from Beijing’s increasingly authoritarian control.The activists, most of whom are in their 20s, no longer believe in the promises of the “one country, two systems” principle set out in the Basic Law. Even after paralyzing major traffic hubs in the city for 79 days in 2014, they failed to obtain any concession to democratize the rules by which the head of Hong Kong’s government, the chief executive, is nominated and elected. They concluded from the experience that democracy is impossible in Hong Kong as long as the territory remains under Chinese sovereignty. Read the rest of this entry »


China’s Nationalist Fervor & Fear-Mongering Paranoid Xenophobic Bloodthirsty Racist West-Bashing Reaches Dangerous New Levels

This kind of propaganda is highly effective and gives licence to ordinary people to indulge their most primitive prejudices. By convincing its people that many of China’s ills are the work of foreign spies and conspiracies, Beijing could eventually be forced to hit back against such perceived enemies in order to placate popular outrage. 

Across much of the world, fear-mongering and xenophobia are creeping into public and political discourse.

In liberal democracies with traditions of free speech, vociferous denunciations of these attitudes can act as a counterweight. But in authoritarian countries where alternative narratives are forbidden, official attempts to demonise foreigners and “others” can be especially dangerous. In the past week, the Chinese government has launched several viral online videos that blame “western hostile forces” for a host of ills and supposed conspiracies within China.

U.S. Navy leadership and senior officers from the Chinese People's Liberation Army (Navy) meet for lunch aboard the Chinese destroyer Harbin (DDG 112) marking the conclusion of a U.S.-China counter piracy exercise between Harbin and the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87). Mason is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Gary M. Keen/Released)

“In the past, most foreigners in China enjoyed a certain level of unstated protection and privilege. In business and in everyday life ‘foreign friends’ were welcomed and often treated with kid gloves by the authorities. Some of them undoubtedly took advantage of this to flout the rules or behave badly without fear of retribution.”

The videos are crude but exceptionally powerful in their simplicity and emotional appeal. One video promoted by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate and Communist Youth League, two of the most powerful state bodies, begins with heartbreaking scenes of orphans and victims of the wars in Iraq and Syria, and then jumps to an assertion that the west, led by the US, is trying to subject China to the same fate.

NYT China-Espionage

“Today, that informal immunity seems to have vanished. In its place are hints of a backlash that many long-term foreign residents will tell you can be very ugly, ranging from casual discrimination and racial slurs, to physical altercations that take on a racist dimension.”

“Under the banner of ‘democracy, freedom and rule of law’ western forces are constantly trying to create societal contradictions in order to overthrow the [Chinese] government,” the subtitles read over pictures of democracy protesters in Hong Kong and President Barack Obama meeting the Dalai Lama.

[Read the full story here, at FT.com]

According to the video, western plots and the “dark shadow of the Stars and Stripes” are also to blame for everything from attacks on Chinese peacekeepers in Africa, to farmers’ riots in China’s hinterland, to the Tibetan independence movement. The effect is heightened by ominous music and juxtaposition of chaos elsewhere with heroic images of Chinese soldiers and weaponry.

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 “In the past week, the Chinese government has launched several viral online videos that blame ‘western hostile forces’ for a host of ills and supposed conspiracies within China. The videos are crude but exceptionally powerful in their simplicity and emotional appeal.”

In some ways this is a mirror of the populist, jingoistic tilts happening elsewhere in the world. While not a direct reaction to the assertive Trumpism emanating from the US or the rise of rightwing nationalism in Europe, some of the same collective animus is taking hold in China, partly at the instigation of the ruling Communist party.

DC-China-Propoganda-Military-Painting

“According to the video, western plots and the ‘dark shadow of the Stars and Stripes’ are also to blame for everything from attacks on Chinese peacekeepers in Africa, to farmers’ riots in China’s hinterland, to the Tibetan independence movement.

Many of those propagating this message are the shallowest of nationalists — the kind of party apparatchiks who are diversifying their (often ill-gotten) assets abroad as fast as they can and sending their children to study in Australia, the US, Canada or the UK.

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“The effect is heightened by ominous music and juxtaposition of chaos elsewhere with heroic images of Chinese soldiers and weaponry.”

Indeed, one of the main producers of the video on western plots is a 29-year-old PhD student from China now living in Canberra, Australia. Meanwhile, the party has called for the rejection of western values and concepts in favour of Marxism — an ideology named after a German living in London and refracted into China via Moscow. Read the rest of this entry »


China is in the Midst of Harshest Crackdown on Human Rights and Civil Society in Decades

Since Xi Jinping came came to power nearly four years ago, hundreds of activists, lawyers, writers, publishers and employees of nongovernmental groups have been rounded up. Many more have been threatened and intimidated. Internet news sites have been ordered to stop publishing reports from sources that aren’t sanctioned by the state.

Julie Making reports: For five days last week, the confessions poured forth from Chinese human rights activists and attorneys rounded up last summer and held incommunicado for a year. Four men, facing trial for subversion, cowered before a court where they were represented by lawyers they didn’t choose.

A fifth person, knowing her husband was detained and teenage son under surveillance, declared her wrongs in a videotaped interview.

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“As an old timer who’s been studying China since the Mao era, I have to say it’s the worst I’ve seen since then. It’s very discouraging.”

— Susan L. Shirk, chair of the 21st Century China Program at UC San Diego

China is in the midst of what many overseas scholars say is its harshest crackdown on human rights and civil society in decades. Since Xi Jinping came came to power nearly four years ago, hundreds of activists, lawyers, writers, publishers and employees of nongovernmental groups have been rounded up. Many more have been threatened and intimidated. Internet news sites have been ordered to stop publishing reports from sources that aren’t sanctioned by the state.

President Xi Jinping, who also serves as chairman of the Central Military Commission, shakes hands with PLA division commanders in Shandong province last year. Photo: Xinhua

“I want to remind everybody to wipe their eyes and clearly see the ugly faces of hostile forces overseas. Never be fooled by their ideas of ‘democracy,’ ‘human rights’ and ‘benefiting the public.’”

— Zhai Yasmin, one of the defendants

Even as China has been touting its efforts to boost the “rule of law,” some critics of the government have vanished under mysterious circumstances in places like Thailand and Hong Kong, only to surface months later in Chinese custody, claiming rather unbelievably they had turned themselves in voluntarily. Many of those detained have appeared on state-run TV confessing to crimes before they have had a day in court.

Archive/Getty Images

Archive/Getty Images

“Xi likes to underscore his status as the new Mao Tse-tung by not giving a damn about what the major Western leaders, authors or media are saying about China.”

“As an old timer who’s been studying China since the Mao era, I have to say it’s the worst I’ve seen since then,” said Susan L. Shirk, chair of the 21st Century China Program at UC San Diego. “It’s very discouraging.”

[Read the full story here, at LA Times]

The activists and lawyer prosecuted last week confessed to having illegally organized protests and drawn attention to sensitive cases at the behest of “foreign forces” in order to “smear the [Communist] party and attack the Chinese government.” They had erred in accepting interviews with international journalists, they added, and traveled abroad to participate in interfaith conferences and law seminars infiltrated by separatists and funded by enemies of China. Read the rest of this entry »


Rendezvous at Beidaihe: Never Underestimate the Power of Chinese Beach Towns

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China leadership gathers in Beidaihe for secret conclave.

Beijing watchers will closely monitor comments that trickle out over time after the meeting this year to discern what may have been discussed there. Xi is closing in on the last year of a five-year term that ends in October 2017.

Seems Mody reports: A closed-door meeting in a resort town on the Bohai Sea may be where China‘s future leadership begins to take shape, at a time when observers say there’s tension at the top in Beijing.

“We will be looking for signs that the successors to Xi and Li have been chosen, as this time 10 years ago it was clear that Xi and Li would come to power after five years.”

President Xi Jinping is said to be hosting the very highest echelon of China’s Communist Party this week in Beidaihe. No hard decisions on leadership are expected to come immediately from the annual meeting, but this year’s conclave is expected to initiate those conversations among top officials.

[Read the full story here, at cnbc.com]

The precise whereabouts of the meeting are not disclosed, but sources close to CNBC said the annual meeting typically takes places in four to five villas nestled in Beidaihe, a coastal town.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to a message left by CNBC.

Beijing watchers will closely monitor comments that trickle out over time after the meeting this year to discern what may have been discussed there. Xi is closing in on the last year of a five-year term that ends in October 2017. It’s for that reason that experts say politics and leadership changes will likely be on the agenda. Read the rest of this entry »


China Sentences Human-Rights Lawyer to 7 Years for Subversion 

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Julie Making reports: A prominent Chinese lawyer who had taken on sensitive, high-profile cases involving activists and victims of a tainted infant formula scandal was sentenced Thursday to seven years in prison on charges of subversion.

“This wave of trials against lawyers and activists are a political charade. Their fate was sealed before they stepped into the courtroom and there was no chance that they would ever receive a fair trial.”

Zhou Shifeng, a human-rights lawyer and director of the Beijing Fengrui Law firm, was arrested in July 2015 in a wide-reaching crackdown that saw hundreds of people detained.

“The Chinese authorities appear intent on silencing anyone who raises legitimate questions about human rights and uses the legal system to seek redress.”

State-run media accused him of operating a “criminal syndicate” that masterminded serious illegal activities to incite “social disorder” all in the name of making money.

Authorities accused Zhou of drawing unwarranted amounts of public attention to  “sensitive cases” by publishing information about them online and encouraging people to appear outside courthouses where trials of such cases were being held.

Fengrui gained a reputation as a firm that would take on the most difficult, and from the government’s perspective, nettlesome cases. Outspoken artist Ai Weiwei turned to the firm when he was slapped with a tax evasion case; the firm also represented Ilham Tohti, a scholar from the Uighur ethnic minority who was accused of separatism and sentenced to life in prison in 2014. And when contaminated baby formula sickened thousands and led to multiple deaths in 2008, Fengrui represented families seeking redress. Read the rest of this entry »


China Bans Internet News Reporting as Media Crackdown Widens

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The sweeping ban gives authorities near-absolute control over online news and political discourse, in keeping with a broader crackdown on information increasingly distributed over the web and mobile devices.

China’s top internet regulator ordered major online companies including Sina Corp. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. to stop original news reporting, the latest effort by the government to tighten its grip over the country’s web and information industries.

Xi-wall

“President Xi Jinping has stressed that Chinese media must serve the interests of the ruling Communist Party.”

The Cyberspace Administration of China imposed the ban on several major news portals, including Sohu.com Inc. and NetEase Inc., Chinese media reported in identically worded articles citing an unidentified official from the agency’s Beijing office. The companies have “seriously violated” internet regulations by carrying plenty of news content obtained through original reporting, causing “huge negative effects,” according to a report that appeared in The Paper on Sunday.

The agency instructed the operators of mobile and online news services to dismantle “current-affairs news” operations on Friday, after earlier calling a halt to such activity at Tencent, according to people familiar with the situation. Like its peers, Asia’s largest internet company had developed a news operation and grown its team. Henceforth, they and other services can only carry reports provided by government-controlled print or online media, the people said, asking not to be identified because the issue is politically sensitive.

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The sweeping ban gives authorities near-absolute control over online news and political discourse, in keeping with a broader crackdown on information increasingly distributed over the web and mobile devices. President Xi Jinping has stressed that Chinese media must serve the interests of the ruling Communist Party.

[Read the full story here, at Bloomberg]

The party has long been sensitive to the potential for negative reporting to stir up unrest, the greatest threat to its decades-old hold on power. Regulations forbidding enterprise reporting have been in place for years without consistent enforcement, but the latest ordinance suggests “they really mean business,” said Willy Lam, an adjunct professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Center for China Studies. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Chinese Agents Acted Like Triads’, says Bookseller in Abduction Row

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An outspoken Hong Kong bookseller who has become a symbol of opposition to China’s authoritarian government has accused Chinese security agents of behaving like the notorious triad gangs in a bid to silence the publishers of provocative books about the country’s leaders.

Lam Wing-kee shot to prominence in June when he revealed how he had been spirited into secret detention in eastern China by a mysterious group of agents supposedly acting on the orders of the Communist party leadership.

Writing in the Diplomat, Amnesty International’s China researcher William Nee said Lam’s testimony had provided “a blow-by-blow account of the abusive tools that have become Chinese authorities’ modus operandi to silence critics since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012”.  Read the rest of this entry »


Decapitated Churches in China’s Christian Heartland 

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Christianity is Stigmatized, Feared, and Marginalized, in China as well as in the United States, because the Idea that Rights are God-Given Undermines Government Authority.

SHUITOU, China — Ian Johnson reports: Along the valleys and mountains hugging the East China Sea, a Chinese government campaign to remove crosses from church spires has left the countryside looking as if a typhoon had raged down the coast, decapitating buildings at random.

In the town of Shuitou, workers used blowtorches to cut a 10-foot-high cross off the 120-foot steeple of the Salvation Church. It now lies in the churchyard, wrapped in a red shroud.

About 10 miles to the east, in Mabu township, riot police officers blocked parishioners from entering the grounds of the Dachang Church while workers erected scaffolding and sawed off the cross. In the nearby villages of Ximei, Aojiang, Shanmen and Tengqiao, crosses now lie toppled on rooftops or in yards, or buried like corpses.

On a four-day journey through this lush swath of China’s Zhejiang Province, I spoke with residents who described in new detail the breathtaking scale of an effort to remove Christianity’s most potent symbol from public view. Over the past two years, officials and residents said, the authorities have torn down crosses from 1,200 to 1,700 churches, sometimes after violent clashes with worshipers trying to stop them.

A Sunday service at a state-sanctioned church in Wenzhou in 2014. There are an estimated 60 million Christians in China. Credit Sim Chi Yin for The New York Times

A Sunday service at a state-sanctioned church in Wenzhou in 2014. There are an estimated 60 million Christians in China. Credit Sim Chi Yin for The New York Times

“It’s been very difficult to deal with,” said one church elder in Shuitou, who like others asked for anonymity in fear of retaliation by the authorities. “We can only get on our knees and pray.”

The campaign has been limited to Zhejiang Province, home to one of China’s largest and most vibrant Christian populations. But people familiar with the government’s deliberations say the removal of crosses here has set the stage for a new, nationwide effort to more strictly regulate spiritual life in China, reflecting the tighter control of society favored by President Xi Jinping.

[Read the full story here, at The New York Times]

In a major speech on religious policy last month, Mr. Xi urged the ruling Communist Party to “resolutely guard against overseas infiltrations via religious means,” and he warned that religions in China must “Sinicize,” or become Chinese. The instructions reflect the government’s longstanding fear that Christianity could undermine the party’s authority. Many human rights lawyers in China are Christians, and many dissidents have said they are influenced by the idea that rights are God-given.

In recent decades, the party had tolerated a religious renaissance in China, allowing most Chinese to worship as they chose and even encouraging the construction of churches, mosques and temples, despite regular crackdowns on unregistered congregations and banned spiritual groups such as Falun Gong.

Hundreds of millions of people have embraced the nation’s major faiths: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and Christianity. There are now about 60 million Christians in China. Many attend churches registered with the government, but at least half worship in unregistered churches, often with local authorities looking the other way. Read the rest of this entry »


A Subversive Message in Hong Kong Goes Up in Lights 

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The city has gone to great lengths to contain protests during Mr. Zhang’s visit, but pro-democracy messages have slipped through.

BEIJING — Jason Lam reports: For more than a minute on Tuesday night, nine-digit numbers were displayed across the facade of Hong Kong’s tallest skyscraper, the International Commerce Center. Towering above Victoria Harbor, the glowing white digits blinked against the night sky: 979,012,493… 979,012,492… 979,012,491…

“Due to the high level of security, there’s almost no channel for the Hong Kong people to voice and protest.”

The seemingly innocuous numbers contained a subversive statement. The animation is a countdown of the seconds until when the “one country, two systems” framework — a guarantee that Hong Kong, a former British colony, would keep its civil liberties and a high degree of autonomy for 50 years after its return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 — is set to expire.

[Watch in Times Video »]

“We hope to deliver this work to illustrate the biggest anxiety of the Hong Kong people,” Sampson Wong, who created the animation with the artist Jason Lam, said before the lights first went up.

“Most of the animations shown on the I.C.C. are ad-like, meaningless videos. We wanted to show something relevant to the social situation of Hong Kong.”

–Sampson Wong

The artists planned the display to coincide with a three-day visit to Hong Kong by Zhang Dejiang, a member of China’s governing Politburo Standing Committee, which began on Tuesday. Mr. Zhang is the highest-ranking official from mainland China to visit Hong Kong since the pro-democracy demonstrations in 2014 known as the Umbrella Movement.

Zhang Dejiang

Zhang Dejiang

[Read the full text here, at The New York Times]

The city has gone to great lengths to contain protests during Mr. Zhang’s visit, but pro-democracy messages have slipped through. At least seven members of the League of Social Democrats party were arrested on Tuesday in connection with at least two banners appearing in public — one on a hillside, the other along the route taken by Mr. Zhang’s motorcade — reading “I Want Genuine Universal Suffrage” and “End Chinese Communist Party Dictatorship.”

“Due to the high level of security, there’s almost no channel for the Hong Kong people to voice and protest,” Mr. Wong said. Read the rest of this entry »


It’s Time To Do Something About China’s Internet Censorship

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Just last week, Beijing further tightened the screws on US companies when it imposed a ban on Apple’s online book and film services. The order came as part of a broader set of regulations, introduced in March, which established strict curbs on all online publishing.

Claude Barfield writes: For the first time this year, the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR’s) “National Trade Estimate Report” took note of China’s Great Firewall. Granted, it was with this tame statement: “China’s filtering of cross-border Internet traffic has posed a significant burden to foreign suppliers.” The report did not indicate what steps, if any, the US plans to take against the People’s Republic of China’s heavy-handed and economically damaging censorship regime. But it is high time for the US, possibly in conjunction with other major trading partners, to test the legality of China’s sweeping Internet censorship system.

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The nature of Chinese censorship

Chinese online censorship operations are not new, and they have been well-documented for over a decade. But the situation has grown worse since President Xi Jinping took office in 2012. Today, the USTR reports that eight of the 25 most trafficked websites worldwide are currently blocked by the Chinese government. Especially targeted are popular search engines such as Google, as well as user-generated content platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. Sometimes, the blockade is permanent — Google formally withdrew from China in 2010 — but more often it is intermittent and random, as has occurred with increasing frequency with Gmail and Hotmail. The New York Times has been banned since 2012, and recently (as a result of reporting on the misdeeds of President Xi’s relatives) the Economist and Time magazine have also secured spots on the honored block list. Just last week, Beijing further tightened the screws on US companies when it imposed a ban on Apple’s online book and film services. The order came as part of a broader set of regulations, introduced in March, which established strict curbs on all online publishing.

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In many cases, the filters and blocks carry with them a strong whiff of industrial policy. The now-giant Chinese firm Baidu received a huge boost when Google was forced to withdraw from the Chinese market (Baidu stock shot up 16 percent the day Google announced its withdrawal). Sina’s Weibo and Tencent’s QQ are direct competitors to popular blocked websites such as Twitter and Facebook. Read the rest of this entry »


China Hunts Source of Letter Urging Xi to Quit

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A Chinese news portal’s publication of a mysterious letter calling for President Xi Jinping’s resignation appears to have triggered a hunt for those responsible, in a sign of Beijing’s anxiety over bubbling dissent within the Communist Party. As WSJ’s Chun Han Wong reports:

The letter, whose authorship remains unclear, appeared on the eve of China’s legislative session in early March, the most public political event of the year.

Since then, at least four managers and editors with Wujie Media—whose news website published the missive—and about 10 people from a related company providing technical support have gone missing, according to their friends and associates, who say the disappearances are linked to a government probe into the letter….(more)

Read the full story on WSJ.com. Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong’s SCMP Newspaper Website Blocked in China

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Beijing (AFP) – The website of the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong newspaper being bought by Internet giant Alibaba, has become inaccessible in China during a series of high-level government meetings in Beijing.

Attempts by AFP in China on Friday to open the newspaper’s English and Chinese-language websites returned only error messages saying that the pages could not be displayed.

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The scmp.com website was blocked starting on March 3, according to the security website GreatFire.org, which monitors online censorship in China.

China’s Communist Party oversees a vast censorship system — dubbed the Great Firewall — that aggressively blocks sites or snuffs out Internet and TV content and commentary on topics considered sensitive, such as Beijing’s human rights record and criticisms of the government.

South China Morning Post Tai Po Office and Printer in Tai Po Industrial Estate. 14DEC15 SCMP/ May Tse

South China Morning Post Tai Po Office and Printer in Tai Po Industrial Estate. SCMP/ May Tse

Popular social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter are inaccessible in the country, as is Youtube.

Several Western news organisations have accused China of blocking access to their websites in the past, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and Reuters. Read the rest of this entry »


Urban Brawl: China Targets ‘Weird’ Buildings, Gated Communities

‘The chaotic propagation of grandiose, West-worshipping, weird architecture.’

Josh Chin reports: A new blueprint for the future of China’s sprawling cities promises to demolish two towering symbols of the country’s runaway growth: eye-catching architecture and gated housing complexes.

About the latter at least, Chinese urbanites appear none too pleased.

“You have to get public safety fixed first. Get rid of thieves, advertisers and scam artists, then you can open up the residential compounds.”

— From the comments under the Sina survey

The guidelines for development of China’s cities, released over the weekend, are the outcome of a high-level government confab held in December to address the challenges of managing the rapid, at times haphazard urbanization that is one of the most visible expressions of the country’s economic transformation over the past 35 years.

"New Century Global Centre" building in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan province. /AFP/Getty Images

“New Century Global Centre” building in Chengdu, southwest China’s Sichuan province.
/AFP/Getty Images

“Whoever came up with this idea is a pig brain.”

— Another comment from the Sina survey

The last time such a meeting was convened, in 1978, less than a fifth of the country’s citizens lived in cities, according to a report by the official Xinhua news agency (in Chinese). Now more than half do. The breakneck pace of urbanization has produced a variety of problems the guidelines seek to address. According to a copy posted to Xinhua’s website (in Chinese), key aims include reducing construction waste, improving traffic flows and raising air quality.

“The document is a wake-up call for those places where there’s has been a one-sided pursuit of architectural form over function, where cultural orientation has been compromised by an excessive desire to show off.”

Then there’s the problem of “the chaotic propagation of grandiose, West-worshipping, weird architecture.” The proliferation of fanciful, and sometimes downright bizarre, buildings has captured attention at the highest levels in Beijing. The vertiginous boxer-shorts tower designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas to serve as the headquarters for China Central Television in Beijing is the most frequently cited example, but others abound.

[Read the full story here, at China Real Time Report – WSJ]

In 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping gave a speech on the arts in which he called for an end to “weird” architecture. The new guidelines take that sentiment a step further, saying designs should match the urban landscape, reflect local geographical characteristics and embody China’s national character. Read the rest of this entry »


China is Buying up American Companies Fast, and it’s Freaking People Out

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Given the recent volume of deals, it would appear that the Chinese government is supportive of the foreign-buying spree.

 reports: Here’s a story you’ll be hearing about a lot this year.

now-panic-and-freak-out_i-g-61-6183-1f81100zChinese companies have been buying up foreign businesses, including American ones, at a record rate, and it’s freaking
lawmakers out.

There is General Electric’s sale of its appliance business to Qingdao-based HaierZoomlion’s bid for the heavy-lifting-equipment maker Terex Corp., and ChemChina’s record-breaking deal for the Swiss seeds and pesticides group Syngenta, valued at $48 billion.

Most recently, a unit of the Chinese conglomerate HNA Group said it would buy the technology distributor Ingram Micro for $6 billion.

And the most contentious deal so far might be the Chinese-led investor group Chongqing Casin Enterprise’s bid for the Chicago Stock Exchange.

Shutterstock

A deal spree

To date, there have been 102 Chinese outbound mergers-and-acquisitions deals announced this year, amounting to $81.6 billion in value, according to Dealogic. That’s up from 72 deals worth $11 billion in the same period last year.

And they’re not expected to let up anytime soon. Slow economic growth in China and cheap prices abroad due to the stock market’s recent sell-off suggest the opposite.

[Read the full story here, at Business Insider]

“With the slowdown of the economy, Chinese corporates are increasingly looking to inorganic avenues to supplement their growth,” Vikas Seth, head of emerging markets in the investment-banking and capital-markets department at Credit Suisse, told Business Insider earlier this month.

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Kim Kyung-Hoon/ReutersPresident Obama and President Xi Jinping.

China’s economic growth in 2015 was its slowest in 25 years.

The law firm O’Melveny & Myers recently surveyed their mainly China-based clients and found that the economic growth potential in the US was the main factor making it an attractive investment destination.panic-betty

Nearly half of respondents agreed that the US was the most attractive market for investment, but 47% felt that US laws and regulations were a major barrier. They’d be right about that.

A major barrier

Forty-five members of Congress this week signed a letter to the Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, or CFIUS, urging it to conduct a “full and rigorous investigation” of the Chicago Stock Exchange acquisition.

“This proposed acquisition would be the first time a Chinese-owned, possibly state-influenced, firm maintained direct access into the $22 trillion US equity marketplace,” the letter reads. Read the rest of this entry »


Beijing’s War on Rights Lawyers and Activists Continues

chinese-protests-WSJ

Stanley Lubmanlubman_a_20091028220718 writesA trio of recent repressive actions by the Chinese party-state represents a disturbing three-pronged attack that treats legality as an unnecessary burden on governance over society, and illustrates how far China is willing to go to snuff out dissent.

The actions include the arrest of seven lawyers accused of “subversion” and four others charged with lesser offenses; the televised “confession” of a China-based Swedish citizen who worked for a rights NGO and has been charged with “endangering state security;” and the disappearance of five Hong Kong booksellers and publishers One reemerged on CCTV to confess to a prior crime years earlier, and a second has written to his wife from Shenzhen to say that he has been “assisting in an investigation.”

Arrests for “subversion of state power”

The lawyers who have been arrested have all been in the forefront of defending controversial activists. Seven are accused of “subversion of state power,” an offense that has been on the books since 1997 but infrequently used. More commonly, activists such as Pu Zhiqiang have been convicted for the lesser charges of “inciting ethnic hatred” and “picking quarrels.” (Pu received a three-year sentence that was simultaneously suspended for the same length of time; however, because of his 51p37hYVRlL._SL250_conviction, Pu is barred from practicing law.) Conviction for subversion can lead to a sentence of anywhere from three years to life in prison.

[Order Stanley Lubman’s bookBird in a Cage: Legal Reform in China after Mao” from Amazon.com]

Three of the other lawyers were charged with the lesser offense of “inciting subversion against state power” which, according to a recent posting by Chinese Human Rights Defenders, is used against individuals who “express criticism of the government” and is punishable by a sentence of up to five years. One other person, a paralegal, has been charged with “assisting in destruction of evidence; other lawyers have been detained 417gpDdlxrL._SL250_incommunicado or forcibly disappeared for at least six months.

[Order Stanley Lubman’s book “The Evolution of Law Reform in China: An Uncertain Path” from Amazon.com]

The arrests raise the severity of the charges by aiming at speech related to “subversion” — rather than acts. Foreign experts are dismayed; Eva Pils (Kings College London) comments that the situation “is basically about as serious as it gets for human rights advocacy.”

The arrest of the human rights lawyers is a continuation of the crackdown that exploded in July, but the rise of the accusation of “subversion” raises the odds of harsher punishment.

Arrest and televised “confession” of Swedish citizen affiliated with a human rights NGO

A Swedish man in his 30s, Peter Dahlin, a co-founder of the Chinese Urgent Action Working Group (China Action) that organizes training programs for human rights defenders, was detained in early January, on a charge of “endangering state security.” On Wednesday, he was paraded on China Central Television and shown admitting to have broken Chinese laws, in a televised “confession” that has been denounced by rights advocates as coerced.

[Read the full story here, at China Real Time Report – WSJ]

According to a statement from China Action, the NGO focuses on land law and administrative law and trains non-lawyers to provide pro-bono legal aid to victims of rights violations. Dahlin is in need of daily medication due to affliction by a rare disease; Chinese state media reports say he is receiving it, but no other information has been available. China’s Foreign Ministry says it is granting Swedish consular officials access to him, although no information has been available on his whereabouts. Read the rest of this entry »