National China News

The U.S. secretary of state begins a four-country tour of Latin America with a stop in Chile.

Portland Press Herald
Date: April 14, 2019
By: Eva Vergara, Associated Prwess

SANTIAGO, Chile — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that China’s financing of President Nicolás Maduro’s government is prolonging the crisis in Venezuela.

Pompeo kicked off a four-country tour of Latin America in Chile, where he met with President Sebastián Piñera to discuss the U.S.-China trade war and the Venezuelan crisis. Hyperinflation, shortages of food and medicine and other hardships have forced more than 3 million Venezuelans — about one-tenth of the population — to flee the country in the last few years.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is greeted as he arrives in Asuncion, Paraguay, on Saturday. Associated Press/Jorge Saenz

“China’s bankrolling of the Maduro regime helped precipitate and prolong the crisis in that country,” Pompeo said, adding that China invested over $60 billion, “with no strings attached.”

“It’s no surprise that Maduro used the money to use for tasks like paying off cronies, crushing pro-democracy activists, and funding ineffective social programs,” he said.

“I think there’s a lesson, a lesson to be learned for all of us: China and others are being hypocritical calling for non-intervention in Venezuela’s affairs. Their own financial interventions have helped destroy that country.”

Pompeo said China is a major U.S. trading partner, but that its “trade activities often are deeply connected to their national security mission, their technological goals, their desire to steal intellectual property, to have forced technology transfer, to engage in activity that is not economic.”    [FULL  STORY]

Beijing wants to join the race for Arctic resources and trade routes.

The National Interest
Date: April 14, 2019  Topic: Security  Region: Asia  Tags: ChinaXi JinpingArcticStrategyWar
By: Lyle J. Goldstein

A rather odd incident in the annals of U.S.-China relations occurred in September 2015. At the very same time that President Barack Obama decided to drop in for an unusual visit to the state of Alaska, a Chinese naval squadron of five ships suddenly appeared in the Bering Sea. They had left from a joint exercise with the Russian Pacific Fleet and did not tarry for too long off American shores. Did this movement constitute a clever warning, designed specifically to humiliate the American President on his own turf? Or was it pure coincidence—just a minor excursion into unknown waters for a Chinese fleet that was undoubtedly just beginning to stretch its sails on the global stage? Is it possible that China has military designs on the Arctic, of which this was the initial step?

Available evidence and simple deductive logic suggest that skepticism is warranted concerning the final question above. And yet it must be admitted now that Beijing’s interest in the Arctic is something more than a passing fancy. Two announcements from Beijing during the course of 2018 implied that the issue was assuming new significance within China’s overall foreign policy. First, there was the “White Paper” on China’s Arctic policy that elevated the approach to the “Polar Silk Road” strategy. Next, came the “bombshell” that China intends to build a nuclear icebreaker.

Some new details emerged in mid-March regarding the specifications of Beijing’s icebreaker. It will be 152 meters in length, 30 meters wide, and will displace 30,000 tons. Thus, it will be quite comparable to Russia’s giant Arktika-class. The vessel, that will cost China about 1 billion RMB, is to be powered by two 25MW high pressure reactors. According to an analysis in the Barents Observer, “Nuclear power has the advantage of long range and massive power.” Still, most of the writing about this prospective ship has focused on the implications that such an “experiment” could have for China’s nascent nuclear aircraft carrier project. But what of China’s Arctic ambitions?    [FULL  STORY]

The Sidney Morning Herald
Date: April 7, 2019
By: Nick McKenzie

Yang Hengjun and his wife Xiaoliang Yuan.

Two Australian writers, including one now detained in China, were the targets of a Chinese government intelligence operation conducted partly on Australian soil.

An investigation by The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and Four Corners can reveal that the Chinese operation was seeking details about former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s 2016 classified inquiry into Beijing’s campaign to influence Australian politics.

Blogger Yang Hengjun, who is currently detained in China, and Sydney academic-writer, Dr Feng Chongyi, were both targeted by Chinese authorities for information on John Garnaut, the China expert and former journalist who led the classified investigation.

The revelations come as Mr Yang’s wife Xiaoliang Yuan broke her silence from China – risking potential blowback from the Chinese government – to call for Australia to fight harder for her husband’s release from the “residential detention” facility he’s been held in since travelling there in January.

Liberal MP Andrew Hastie has joined Mr Yang’s wife to issue an impassioned plea for Australians to demand his release from Beijing detention.

While some details of Mr Yang’s detention by Chinese intelligence officials in Beijing have filtered to the outside world, his questioning by Chinese agents in Sydney in March last year has never been made public.

Mr Yang was allegedly intercepted and questioned just prior to a meeting with Mr Garnaut.    [FULL  STORY]

CNN
Date: April 5, 2019
Analysis by: James Griffiths, CNN

Hong Kong (CNN)Two years ago, Indonesian President Joko Widodo — also known as Jokowi — stood shoulder to shoulder with Xi Jinping for a group photo to celebrate the Chinese leader’s Belt and Road project.

Yet now, as Jokowi seeks re-election, he appears to be distancing himself from Beijing and downplaying the importance of Chinese-funded projects in Indonesia.

It’s a pattern emerging across southeast Asia and beyond, and one that will be of great concern for Beijing as Chinese investment and ties become an awkward — if not downright toxic — election issue.

The growing skepticism over Xi’s signature Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) risks exacerbating existing tensions many countries in the region have with Beijing over territorial disputes, as both China and the US continue to jockey for power amid a drawn-out trade war.    [FULL  STORY]

Time
March 25, 2019 
By: Amy Gunia/Hong Kong 

China is actively attempting to influence the global media to deter criticism and spread propaganda, according to a new report released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Monday.

The report, China’s Pursuit of a New World Media Order says Beijing is using a variety of strategies including ramping up international broadcasting, undertaking extensive advertising campaigns, and infiltrating foreign media outlets to spread its world view.

“You can see that what is at stake is not only the Chinese authorities trying to spread their own propaganda…what is at stake is journalism as we know it,” Cédric Alviani, East Asia Bureau Director of RSF told TIME.

According to the report, the Chinese government is investing as much as $1.3 billion annually to increase the global presence of Chinese media. With this investment, Chinese state-run television and radio shows have been able drastically expanded their international reach in recent years. China Global Television Network is televised in 140 countries and China Radio International is broadcast in 65 languages.

The government is also spending significant sums to promote Chinese views by placing paid advertorials in Western media publications. Alviani said in an era where news media is struggling with profitability, media outlets have been tempted by advertising dollars. China has paid up to $250,000 to place ads in leading international publications.   [FULL  STORY]

Beijing’s U.N. block sent a signal—and a warning—to Pakistan.

Foreign Policy
Date:  March 21, 2019
By: Michael Kugelman

Indian Muslims hold a scratched photo of Masood Azhar as they shout slogans against Pakistan during a protest in Mumbai on Feb. 15. (Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images)

On March 13, China placed a “technical hold” on a resolution calling on the United Nations Security Council to designate Masood Azhar, the leader of the Pakistani militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), as a terrorist. Beijing’s intervention effectively torpedoed the measure. This marked the fourth time that China has prevented Azhar, who enjoys long-standing ties to the Pakistani security establishment, from being officially designated a terrorist by the United Nations.

There had been good reason to believe that this time might be different, and that Beijing would step back and let the resolution get approved. The fact that the fourth time wasn’t the charm speaks volumes about how deep the partnership between China and Pakistan still runs, and how far Beijing is willing to go to defend its “iron brother.”

So important is the China-Pakistan partnership that Beijing was willing to stick its neck out in support of a key terrorist asset of the Pakistani state who garners little sympathy outside Pakistan. At home, Beijing has sent hundreds of thousands of innocent Chinese Muslims to detention centers under the guise of counterterrorism, but it has bent over backwards to protect an actual Islamist terrorist abroad.

The move came even though global pressure has intensified on Pakistan to crack down harder on India-focused terrorists on its soil. The trigger was a February 14 attack on Indian security forces, claimed by JeM, in the Indian-administered part of Kashmir. The assault, which killed more than 40 paramilitary troops, was the deadliest attack on Indian security forces, and in Kashmir on the whole, in years. Nearly 50 countries, including all five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (even China), issued statements condemning the tragedy, and many called on Pakistan to crack down on JeM. Soon after the attack, the United States, with support from fellow Security Council members France and the United Kingdom, proposed the resolution. The Trump administration, according to Indian press accounts, tried to convince Beijing to support it.

And yet China defied all the pressure and refused.    [FULL  STORY]

CNN
Date: Fri March 22, 2019
By: James Griffiths, CNN

(CNN)Seng Moon was an impoverished refugee in an internal displaced person (IDP) camp in northeastern Myanmar when her sister-in-law convinced her to cross the border into China to find a job.

She passed out on the car journey after being given a travel sickness pill. When Seng Moon awoke her hands were tied behind her back. Her sister-in-law was gone and she was alone with a Chinese family.

After several months, Seng Moon’s sister-in-law returned and told her she was to be married to a Chinese man.

This went on for two months, until Seng Moon was dragged from the room and finally introduced to the man who had been abusing her for weeks.

She says the man’s father told her this was her husband, and advised them to build a family.
[FULL  STORY]

Star Tribune
Date:  March 21, 2019
By: Elaine Kurtenbach, Associated Press

BANGKOK — Authorities in China and Myanmar are failing to stop the brutal trafficking of young women, often teenagers, from the conflict-ridden Kachin region for sexual slavery, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.

The report released Thursday says women are often tricked into traveling to China in search of work or kidnapped and held against their will to be sold as “brides” for Chinese men. Most of those taken hostage by Chinese families are locked up and raped, it says. Those who do escape are often obliged to leave children fathered by Chinese men behind.

The 226 known cases of such trafficking in 2017 were only a fraction of the total number, since many victims are afraid or ashamed to come forward, especially given the lack of support from law enforcement or welfare services, the report says.

“Human Rights Watch’s research suggests the number of women and girls being trafficked is substantial and possibly growing,” it said.    [FULL  STORY]

China’s global kidnapping campaign has gone on for years. It may now be reaching inside U.S. borders.

Foreign Policy
Date: Marxch 29, 2018
By: Zaxch Dorfman

ILLUSTRATIONS BY ANTHONY FREDA FOR FOREIGN POLICY

Before he disappeared from his luxury apartment at the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong on Jan. 27, 2017, Xiao Jianhua, a Chinese-Canadian billionaire, favored female bodyguards. Why, exactly, was unclear: Perhaps he simply liked being surrounded by women; perhaps he trusted them more than men.

Whatever the reason, those guards weren’t much help when a group of mysterious men showed up at his apartment that January day and took him away. According to anonymous sources who viewed the hotel’s internal video feed and later spoke to the New York Times, Xiao, who may have been sedated, was rolled through the Four Seasons lobby in a wheelchair, a sheet covering his head. He was then reportedly loaded onto a boat and ferried to the Chinese mainland.

In what has become a familiar script for such disappearances, an initial police report filed by a family member was quickly withdrawn, and Xiao later issued a statement denying that he had been kidnapped. More than one year later, he remains in mainland China, and though he has not yet been charged with any crime, his businesses, under government direction, are expected to sell almost $24 billion in investments, which will reportedly be used to repay state banks.

Such stories are not unique. In October 2015, Chinese government operatives kidnapped Gui Minhai, a Hong Kong-based book publisher and bookstore owner, from his apartment in Thailand. Months later, Gui, a Swedish citizen, resurfaced in China, declaring on state television that he had turned himself in to face decade-old drunk driving charges. Gui’s colleague, Lee Bo, a dual Chinese-British national, also appears to have been kidnapped in Hong Kong in December 2015 by Chinese security forces and brought back to the Chinese mainland.

Over the years, the cases have started to pile up. In 2002, Wang Bingzhang, a prominent pro-democracy activist, was seized in Vietnam by Chinese operatives and thrown into prison on the mainland, where he remains to this day. Two years later, another well-known dissident, Peng Ming, was kidnapped in Myanmar and jailed in China; in late 2016, he died under suspicious circumstances in prison.    [FULL  STORY]

The dam breach caused more than 85,000 people to die instantly.

OZY 
Date: Feb 17 2019
By: Justin Higginbottom

Workers stood along the top of Banqiao Dam, some 150 feet above the valley’s floor, desperately trying to repair its crest as rain from Typhoon Nina fell for a third straight day. After battering Taiwan, the storm had moved inland where it was expected to dissipate, but Nina turned north instead, reaching the Huai River basin on Aug. 5, 1975, where a cold front blocked its progression. Parked in place, the typhoon generated more than a year’s worth of rain in 24 hours.

By the time night fell on Aug. 8, as many as 65 area dams had collapsed. But despite the fact that water levels at the Banqiao Dam had far exceeded a safe capacity, and a number of sluice gates for controlling water flow were clogged with silt, authorities felt confident they’d skirt disaster. After all, the Soviet-designed dam had been built to survive a typhoon — a once-every-1,000-year occurrence that could dump 11 inches of rain per day. Unfortunately, Typhoon Nina would prove to be a once-every-2,000-year storm, bearing down with enough force to cause the world’s deadliest infrastructure failure ever.

Chen Xing, one of China’s foremost hydrologists, had followed the construction of Banqiao in 1952 with concern. Chairman Mao Zedong, eager to modernize the country, ordered hundreds of dams built, which put people to work, provided electricity and tamed rivers as part of his brutal Great Leap Forward. After swimming across the Yangtze River in 1958, Zedong penned a poem about his obsession with dams: “Great plans are being made/ Walls of stone will stand upstream to the west …The mountain goddess if she is still there/ Will marvel at a world so changed.” Decades later, ignoring warnings from scientists and environmentalists, the Chinese government initiated construction of the Three Gorges Dam — the world’s largest power station — on the Yangtze.
[FULL  STORY]