mandag 19. november 2018

Maldives' new president warns treasury 'looted' during China-led boom

The new president of the Maldives took office on Saturday, declaring the state coffers to have been looted and warned that the country was in financial difficulty after racking up debt with Chinese lenders in an infrastructure boom.  The Maldives, famous for its luxury resorts on palm-fringed islands, is the latest in a number of small countries where China has invested millions of dollars building highways and housing as part of its Belt and Road Initiative. But these projects have left the country of just over 400,000 people in debt and prompted calls for investigations into how contracts were awarded to Chinese companies during the previous administration.

Benny Tai Yiu-ting: Hong Kong Isn’t What It Was, Nor What It’s Supposed to Be

For years, this city was neither genuinely democratic nor entirely authoritarian. Its politics had both democratic and authoritarian elements, though on balance those were more democratic than authoritarian. Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” arrangement with the Chinese government in Beijing afforded it a high degree of autonomy. The territory was able to maintain the rule of law by constraining the local government’s powers and protecting citizens’ fundamental rights.

Not anymore. In the aftermath of the Umbrella Movement in late 2014, a series of protests and an occupation that paralyzed major Hong Kong streets for 79 days, the Chinese Communist Party (C.C.P.) has adjusted its approach. The Chinese government in Beijing has increasingly cracked down on Hong Kong politically, while steadily integrating the city’s economy into the mainland’s.

'Cultural genocide': How China is tearing Uyghur families apart in Xinjiang

Every day, US-based Uyghur journalist Gulchehra Hoja tries to call her family in the Chinese region of Xinjiang. Sometimes she tries up to 20 different numbers, just hoping that someone will pick up. "I know they won't pick up the phone, but I try ... nobody picks up," she told CNN in an interview from her office in Washington.

She doesn't expect an answer because 23 of her family members -- including her aunt, her brothers, her cousins -- have disappeared, along with tens of thousands of other ethnic Uyghurs inside enormous state-controlled "re-education camps." 

Hoja, who works as a journalist for US government-funded Radio Free Asia (RFA), says her brother was the first in the family to vanish in September 28, 2017. "This is my brother and this is me," she says, holding up a picture. "This was taken in summer 2000, it's my birthday ... this is my last picture with him .... (Now) he is missing. We don't know where he is now."

'Death knell' of press freedom in Hong Kong has been a long time coming

Every day before work, Kevin Lau stopped for breakfast at a restaurant in Sai Wan Ho, a residential area in eastern Hong Kong. It was a routine as ingrained in him as brushing his teeth, and it nearly cost him his life.

On a morning in February 2014, Lau -- a senior editor at the popular, upmarket daily Ming Pao -- had parked his car on a street near the restaurant when two men, wearing motorcycle helmets and gloves, rushed up to him. One slashed at Lau with a meat cleaver, knocking him to the floor, where he lay bleeding with deep wounds in his back and legs as his assailants ran off. With what a court later described as "superhuman calm," Lau phoned for an ambulance, and was rushed to hospital. He survived, and two men with triad links -- Yip Kim-wah and Wong Chi-wah -- were arrested and charged with grievous bodily harm.

APEC summit wraps with no joint statement amid US-China discord

For the first time in its 25-year history, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit ended Sunday with its leaders failing to agree on a formal joint statement. All 21 APEC leaders at the annual meeting in Papua New Guinea were in agreement except China, a source within the meeting told CNN. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed late Sunday that disagreements on trade stood in the way of a final statement.

China hoped for a soft power win at APEC, instead Xi Jinping left dissatisfied

With the presidents of the United States and Russia staying home, it seemed Chinese President Xi Jinping would dominate this weekend at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit and increase his country's influence in the Pacific.

China has already lent at least $1.3 billion to the Pacific Islands and about $590 million alone to the summit's host, Papua New Guinea (PNG). And to coincide with the PNG visit, Beijing promised $4 billion of finance to build PNG's first national road network, one of several gestures for which China secured effusive praise from Pacific Island countries including Samoa, Vanuatu, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Niue, Fiji and the President of the Federated States of Micronesia. But nevertheless, Xi left PNG dissatisfied and disgruntled.

lørdag 17. november 2018

Norge kritiserer Kina i hemmelig brev. «Uakseptabelt,» svarer kineserne.

Femten vestlige Beijing-ambassadører, deriblant den norske, ber i et brev til Xinjiang-partileder Chen Quanguo om å få treffe ham for å få klarhet i hva som skjer i den avstengte regionen. Det er svært unormalt å sende slike kollektive brev fra ambassadørallianser. – Vi er dypt urolige etter rapportene om behandlingen av etniske minoriteter, spesielt uigurer, i Xinjiang, skriver diplomatene, ifølge nyhetsbyrået Reuters, som har fått tilgang til det hemmelige brevet.

Kinesiske myndigheter reagerte med raseri på brevet. – Uakseptabelt, sa UD-talsmann Hua Chunying på en pressekonferanse torsdag og antydet at ambassadørene forsøkte å «legge press på» Xinjiang-myndighetene.

NZ police investigate after prominent China critic's car 'sabotaged'

New Zealand police are investigating claims that Anne-Marie Brady, a prominent academic and critic of China’s influence abroad, has been targeted again, this time having her car sabotaged. 

Brady, an expert in Chinese politics at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, had her home and office burgled in February, with computers, mobile phones and USB sticks targeted. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at the time the government would be “be taking stock and taking action”.

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Chinese interference in New Zealand at 'critical' stage, says Canada spy report 

Military Competition in Pacific Endures as Biggest Flash Point Between U.S. and China

Trade disputes have for months been the focus of souring relations between the United States and China. But intractable problems in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait underscore that competition for dominance of the Pacific Ocean remains the most volatile source of conflict between the two nations — and the tensions are rising.

That became clear in barbed comments during a meeting in Washington last week in which Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, and Jim Mattis, the defense secretary, negotiated with their Chinese counterparts. And it is evident as Vice President Mike Pence is in Asia this week to talk to East Asian and Southeast Asian leaders to shore up support for American efforts to counterbalance China.

Professor Arne Jon Isachsen: "Dum er jeg ikke"

“Keiserens nye klær” er et strålende eventyr. Så mye innsikt formidlet så godt, på så morsom måte og med så få ord. 1.567 ord, omtrent som en litt lang kronikk i en avis. “Dum er jeg ikke, ergo …”. Men ved å godta premisset, at de som ikke kan se det vakre tøyet, som de to bedragerne vever, enten er dumme eller uegnet i sitt embete, avdekker embetsmannen sin dumskap. Og roser tøyet som ikke er. De nydelige fargene og det herlige mønsteret. “Ja, det er helt fortryllende”, melder han tilbake til keiseren. 

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fredag 16. november 2018

Communist Party cracks down on China's famous Peking University

Authorities at China's prestigious Peking University have tightened their grip on campus, following a nationwide government crackdown aimed at silencing left-wing youth advocates for labor rights. Peking University claimed to have uncovered and eliminated an "illegal organization" with a goal of subverting state power that had infiltrated the school's Marxist Society, according to a message sent to students Wednesday and shared with CNN.

The university, long a haven for liberal intellectuals and known for its history of student activism, has been regularly ranked one of the best in the country. In a separate memo, the Peking University committee of China's ruling Communist Party declared the establishment of an "internal control and management" office to enforce discipline on campus, including day-to-day inspections and patrols on school grounds.

It’s Time to Get Loud About Academic Freedom in China

Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR), where I am an associate professor and director of international programs, recently suspended two student exchange programs with Renmin University in Beijing over concerns about infringements on academic freedom. I helped launch these programs in 2013 with the intention of creating opportunities for our students at one of China’s top universities. Renmin is home to the School of Labor and Human Resources—a close analogue of ILR in several respects, and widely seen as the country’s premier place to study labor issues.

But after an investigation of Renmin’s treatment of students who spoke up on labor issues, we decided that this partnership was no longer sustainable. While our final decision rested on specific violations of academic freedom, it is critically important to view this event in the context of worsening political trends in China. The erosion of academic freedom on campuses is directly linked with the increasingly repressive political environment outside universities.

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'The China show': Xi Jinping arrives in PNG for start of Apec summit

Papua New Guinea has literally rolled out the red carpet for Chinese president Xi Jinping who arrived in Port Moresby ahead of the Apec Leaders Forum this weekend. Xi, the first Chinese leader to take part in a state visit to the nation, touched down on Friday, days before other leaders are due to arrive for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit.

After leaving the airport, the Chinese president was driven along the new “Independence Boulevard” outside PNG’s parliament – a road that was funded by a Chinese loan. At the end he was met by a military band and traditional dancers dressed in parrot feathers, possum pelts and seashell necklaces. Across the capital, images of Xi beamed down from massive billboards and the streets were lined with high school students, some waving Chinese flags.

Khmer Rouge leaders found guilty of genocide in Cambodia’s ‘Nuremberg’ moment

The two most senior Khmer Rouge leaders still alive today have been found guilty of genocide, almost 40 years since Pol Pot’s brutal communist regime fell, in a verdict followed by millions of Cambodians. Nuon Chea, 92, who was second-in-command to Pol Pot, and Khieu Samphan, 87, who served as head of state, were both sentenced to life imprisonment for genocide and crimes against humanity carried out between 1977 and 1979, in what is a landmark moment for the Khmer Rouge tribunals. The pair are already serving life sentences for crimes against humanity.

As senior figures in the Khmer regime, the court declared both men responsible for murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation imprisonment, torture, persecution on religious, racial and political grounds, enforced disappearances and mass rape through the state policy of forced marriages .

torsdag 15. november 2018

Malaysia’s bold play against China

In the coming days, as world leaders travel to Singapore for the annual Southeast Asian summit, China will likely have a rather unpleasant development on its mind: increasing pushback across Southeast Asia of its growing economic influence, led by none other than Malaysia, a traditionally China-friendly nation.

When Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad made a surprise return to power earlier this year at the age of 92, it precipitated a qualitative shift in Sino-Malaysian relations as he pushed for more transparent and equitable economic deals with Beijing. As Mahathir said at the time, he views China’s leadership as “inclined towards totalitarianism” and unashamed to “flex [its] muscles” in order to “increase [its] influence over many countries in Southeast Asia.” He characterized the new assertiveness in China’s behavior as “very worrisome,” particularly for smaller neighbors such as Malaysia. And he lashed out at China’s major infrastructure deals, even warning against its “new colonialism” during an August trip to Beijing.

In China’s new surveillance state, everyone will be watched, reviewed and rated

The bullet train from Beijing to Shanghai is the fastest in the world. It takes just over four hours to travel the 819-mile journey. From the train, it is impossible to ignore China’s economic success. There are cities the size of London that many westerners will never even have heard of. They are filled with glass towers and shopping centres, selling Cartier watches and Gucci bags.

As the train sets off from each station, an announcement plays in both Chinese and stilted English: ‘Dear passengers, people who travel without a ticket or behave disorderly, or smoke in public areas, will be punished according to regulations and the behaviour will be recorded in the individual credit information system. To avoid a negative record of personal credit please follow the relevant regulations and help with the orders on the train and at the station.’

Trump demands China remove missiles in the South China Sea

The Trump administration is demanding that China remove all advanced missiles deployed on disputed islands in the South China Sea, the first time such a demand has been made public. The call to take out the anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles was disclosed in a fact sheet from the State Department on Friday outlining the results of a strategic dialogue between senior U.S. and Chinese officials. “The United States called on China to withdraw its missile systems from disputed features in the Spratly Islands, and reaffirmed that all countries should avoid addressing disputes through coercion or intimidation,” the statement said.

The Pentagon disclosed in June that China has fielded advanced anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles and electronic jamming equipment on the Spratly Islands, a group of reefs and islets located close to U.S. ally Philippines that China claims as its own territory. Military officials said the missiles threaten U.S. warships and aircraft that have stepped up freedom of navigation operations near the islands in a bid to counter Chinese claims to control over 90 percent of the South China Sea.

China’s unjustifiable camps are a human-rights disgrace

The Chinese government is trying to stop Uyghurs from being Muslims, despite the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion. It is cutting Uyghurs off from their culture and, in effect, trying to turn them into Han Chinese.