onsdag 25. mai 2022

Xinjiang Police Files: Inside a Chinese internment camp

The highly coercive and potentially lethal systems of control used against minority groups in China’s internment camps have been revealed in a giant cache of secret documents shared with the BBC. China insists the network of secure facilities built across its far western region of Xinjiang are simply “schools” for combatting extremism to which “students” sign up willingly. But the contents of the leaked Xinjiang Police Files suggest a different story. Taking information from the leaked documents, the BBC has reconstructed one of the camps – the Shufu County New Vocational Skills Education and Training Centre - to reveal the methods used inside.

Solomon Islands journalists shut out of China foreign minister visit, raising secrecy concerns

Pacific journalists have raised serious concerns about secrecy surrounding the upcoming marathon tour of the Pacific by China’s foreign minister, who will be visiting eight countries in 10 days. Wang Yi will visit Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and Fiji between 26 May and 4 June, on a tour of the region that has been labelled “extraordinary and unprecedented” by Pacific experts.

It comes at a time that China’s engagement in the region has seen an “uptick in tempo”, as it looks to cement relationships and sign economic, infrastructure and security deals. Wang Yi’s first stop is expected to be Solomon Islands on Thursday, where he will build on an alliance which has been in the international spotlight in the last few months after the draft of a security deal signed by the two governments was leaked. Solomon Islands government has confirmed to the Guardian that “a number of MOUs” will be signed during the visit, which will be announced on Thursday evening.

China’s Pacific plan is ‘clear’ but so is Australia’s intention to be regional partner of choice

Australia has responded to reports that China is pursuing a Pacific-wide security pact with almost a dozen nations, stating that while Beijing’s intentions were clear “so too are the intentions of the new Australian government” to be the partner of choice in the region. China will seek a regional deal with 10 Pacific island nations covering policing, security and data communications cooperation when the foreign minister, Wang Yi, hosts a meeting in Fiji next week, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

Australia’s new foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, will travel to Fiji on Thursday in an early sign of her determination to deepen the relationship with Pacific countries. “China has made its intentions clear [but] so too are the intentions of the new Australian government,” Wong said in a statement.

China is pursuing a Pacific-wide pact with 10 island nations on security, policing and data

China will pursue a Pacific-wide deal with almost a dozen island nations covering policing, security and data communications cooperation when the foreign minister, Wang Yi, hosts a meeting in Fiji next week, documents show. A draft communique and five-year action plan sent by Beijing to 10 Pacific islands ahead of a foreign ministers meeting on 30 May has prompted pushback from at least one of the invited nations, which said it showed China’s intent to control the region and “threatens regional stability”.

In a letter to 21 Pacific leaders seen by Reuters, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) president, David Panuelo, said his nation would argue the “pre-determined joint communique” should be rejected because he feared it could spark a new “cold war” between China and the west. Wang will visit eight Pacific island nations that China holds diplomatic ties with between 26 May and 4 June.

Xi Jinping defends China’s human rights record to visiting UN commissioner

China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has spoken with the UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, as she visited the Xinjiang region, warning against the politicisation of human rights as an “excuse to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries” and defending his government’s record.

It comes amid renewed defensiveness in Beijing after the publication of a significant data leak from Xinjiang’s security apparatus, including mugshots of thousands of detained Uyghurs and internal documents outlining shoot-to-kill policies for those who try to escape. Xinjiang is home to millions of Uyghur and other Turkic Muslims, who have been subjected to a Chinese government campaign of cultural, linguistic and social control and acts of oppression that governments including the US have termed a genocide.

Bachelet, the UN’s high commissioner for human rights, is in China for a highly orchestrated six-day visit, including the Xinjiang cities of Kashgar and Urumqi. The tour, which China has said is not an investigation, has been met with criticism by some western legislators over its potential to be used as propaganda.

tirsdag 24. mai 2022

John Sudworth: The faces from China's Uyghur detention camps

Thousands of photographs from the heart of China’s highly secretive system of mass incarceration in Xinjiang, as well as a shoot-to-kill policy for those who try to escape, are among a huge cache of data hacked from police computer servers in the region.

The Xinjiang Police Files, as they’re being called, were passed to the BBC earlier this year. After a months-long effort to investigate and authenticate them, they can be shown to offer significant new insights into the internment of the region’s Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities.

Their publication coincides with the recent arrival in China of the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, for a controversial visit to Xinjiang, with critics concerned that her itinerary will be under tight control of the government. The cache reveals, in unprecedented detail, China's use of "reeducation" camps and formal prisons as two separate but related systems of mass detention for Uyghurs - and seriously calls into question its well-honed public narrative about both. 

China’s foreign minister to visit Solomon Islands amid push for more deals with Pacific countries

China’s foreign minister will visit Solomon Islands this week, one month after signing a security agreement with the Pacific country, on a broader tour where China is seeking more deals in the region.

Wang Yi would visit Honiara with a “nearly 20-member delegation”, the Solomons’ government confirmed on Tuesday, calling the trip a “milestone”. “The highlight of the visit is the signing of a number of key bilateral agreements with the national government,” said Li Ming, China’s ambassador to Solomon Islands. Among agreements expected to be signed is the controversial security agreement between the countries that made headlines in March after a draft was leaked. News of the deal led to fears China could establish a military base in the islands, though this has been denied by both parties.

The Solomon Islands’ prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, said the Chinese foreign minister’s one-day visit would be a “milestone” in the two countries’ relationship.

Joe Biden Is Using Putin Sanctions to Prevent War With China

President Joe Biden on Monday said sanctions placed on Russian President Vladimir Putin for his invasion in Ukraine must continue, adding that the sanctions also serve as a warning to China about what would happen should it try to take Taiwan by force. Biden made the comments during a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo. When taking a question from a reporter, the president also said the U.S. will continue honoring the One China Policy, which recognizes China's view that Taiwan is part of China, but he stated the U.S. would respond militarily if China attacked the island nation.

Russia experienced slower than expected economic growth in the first quarter of 2022, which experts attributed to the unprecedented sanctions imposed on the country following the start of the Ukraine war in late February. In April, the U.K.'s government predicted Russia would soon be plunged into its deepest recession since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

During Monday's conference, Biden said Putin "must pay a dear price for his barbarism in Ukraine," otherwise China may not perceive the severe consequences it would face if tries to use its military to take Taiwan.

China-U.S. Relationship Like Titanic Headed for Iceberg: State Media Says

A state-run newspaper in China said President Joe Biden's Monday comments about the United States intervening militarily if China attempts to take Taiwan by force is representative of the Biden administration's attempts to "hollow out" the One China Policy. The Global Times quoted Da Wei, director of the Center for International Security and Strategy of Tsinghua University in Beijing, as saying that Biden's tactics could result in China-U.S. relations becoming like "the Titanic hitting an iceberg—ending in crisis or worse."

Biden made the comments about an intervention during a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo. When taking a question from a reporter, the president said the U.S. will continue honoring the One China Policy, which recognizes China's position that Taiwan is part of China, but he also added the U.S. would respond militarily if China attacked the island nation.

If China tried to invade Taiwan, it would "just not be appropriate...it would dislocate the entire region and be another action similar to what happened in Ukraine," Biden said. "America is committed to a One China Policy, but that does not mean China has the jurisdiction to use force to take Taiwan."

Airbnb to quit China as lockdowns restrict tourism

Airbnb is shutting down its domestic rentals in China, where a "zero-Covid" policy has meant lockdowns are ongoing. All listings for homes and experiences in the country will be removed from the company's website by summer, a source familiar with the matter told the BBC. Stays within China made up only 1% of Airbnb's revenue over the last few years. The company is expected to instead focus on Chinese residents travelling abroad to other destinations.

Before the pandemic, Chinese travellers heading abroad had tripled in less than a decade, reaching 155 million journeys in 2019, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation. But since 2020, China has had some of the toughest Covid restrictions in the world, making travel into and around the country extremely difficult.

Airbnb set up its business in China in 2016. Since then, some 25 million guests have booked stays there through the online home rental company. But a source familiar with the company's decision said the domestic rental operation for travellers visiting China had been complicated and expensive to run even before the pandemic.

China Tells Joe Biden 'No Room for Compromise' on Taiwan

China has said it will not compromise on defending its national interests over Taiwan, in a rebuke to U.S. President Joe Biden's vow to protect the island from any invasion by its neighbor. China has repeatedly said Taiwan is part of its territory despite the two being governed separately since 1949.

China has not ruled out using military force to achieve its ambitions with Taiwan. However, the U.S. continues to support Taiwan's autonomy, providing it with state-of-the-art weapons and military training. If China takes Taiwan, some experts have said it give it a greater advantage in the Indo-Pacific region, and the enable to threaten U.S. bases as far away as Guam and Hawaii.

Biden made the comments early on Monday in a visit to Japan for talks with leaders of the "Quad" group, which includes Australia, Japan and India. He said China was "flirting with danger" in its aggressive policy towards the self-governing island. Speaking about whether the U.S. would defend the island if Beijing attacks, Biden said: "That's the commitment we made."

Biden Says U.S. Would Defend Taiwan if China Invaded: 'Commitment We Made'

President Joe Biden said on Monday that Washington would help defend Taiwan from a Chinese invasion should Beijing try try to assert its claims over the self-governing island. The president's latest remarks will likely anger China, which says Taiwan is part of its territory under its "One China" policy despite the democratic island being under separate government since the Chinese Civil War.

China has not ruled out using military force to achieve its ambitions in Taiwan, but the U.S. continues to support Taiwan's autonomy, providing it with weapons and military training. Tensions in the region have been particularly high over the last 18 months, as China has been flying military sorties close to Taiwan on an almost daily basis. The largest comprised 56 aircraft on October 4, 2021.

China Wants to Search for Habitable Planets to 'Expand Our Living Space'

China wants to start hunting down habitable exoplanets with a dedicated satellite with a view to "expand our living space" within the cosmos. The proposed mission will be the first to search for habitable planets beyond our solar system with a space-based telescope. The project, named the Closeby Habitable Exoplanet Survey (CHES) would make use of a space telescope with a 3.9 foot aperture that would be placed in a point in space not far from Earth known as the L2 point, the same location as NASA's new James Webb Space Telescope, Chinese state-run news outlet CGTN reported on Thursday.

China is currently in the process of expanding its space program, having announced an ambitious five year plan in a report released in January. This included plans to explore the boundary of the solar system.

The CHES telescope would then explore around 100 stars similar to the sun at a distance of around 32 light years. The scientists who have proposed the project hope that around 50 Earth-like exoplanets—planets located outside of the solar system—could be discovered in habitable zones around their host stars.

An Island Nation in Turmoil Allows India Chance to Seize Key China Partner

As the West grapples with Russia's war on Ukraine in Europe, the world's two most populous nations are mired in a bout for influence in South Asia, where India finds itself surrounded by countries forging closer ties China, its top geopolitical rival.

But in Sri Lanka, an island nation of 22 million people located less than 35 miles off the coast of the Indian subcontinent, economic unrest and political upheaval have presented an opportunity for New Delhi to move in on Beijing's ambitions. Although Chinese investment in line with the global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has brought rapid development to Sri Lanka, a number of other factors, including rising energy prices, populist tax cuts and soaring inflation, have led the country to default on its growing foreign debt for the first time since it gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1948.

Rather than immediately coming to aid its partner country in distress, China has played a cautious hand, offering limited assistance without doubling down on costly deals already in default. India, on the other hand, has extended nearly $2 billion in credit to Sri Lanka, and may further extend a line of $1.5 billion more to help the island nation import badly needed goods.

"India has stepped up its game in crisis-hit Sri Lanka at a time when China has hesitated to provide debt relief to Sri Lanka," Ganeshan Wignaraja, a senior research associate at the Overseas Development Institute in London, told Newsweek.

søndag 22. mai 2022

Canada bans China’s Huawei Technologies from 5G networks

Wireless carriers in Canada won’t be allowed to install Huawei equipment in their high-speed 5G networks, the Canadian government said Thursday, joining allies in banning the giant Chinese technology company. Canada had been the only member of the Five Eyes intelligence-pooling alliance not to bar or restrict use of equipment from Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. in its 5G networks. The U.S. and the other members — Britain, Australia and New Zealand — previously banned Huawei.

“We are announcing our intention to prohibit the inclusion of Huawei and ZTE products and services in Canada’s telecommunications systems,” Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne said.

Canada’s ban also includes ZTE Corp., one of China’s biggest tech companies and one that is state-owned. Champagne added that “providers who already have this equipment installed will be required to cease its use and remove it.” He said Canada’s wireless companies won’t be offered compensation.

Shanghai reopens some public transport after months-long Covid lockdown

Shanghai has reopened a small part of the world’s longest subway system after some lines had been closed for almost two months, as the city paves the way for a more complete lifting of its Covid-19 lockdown next week. With most residents not allowed to leave their homes and restrictions tightening in parts of China’s most populous city, commuters early on Sunday needed strong reasons to travel.

Shanghai’s lockdown and curbs in other cities have battered consumption, industrial output and other sectors of the Chinese economy in recent months, prompting pledges of support from policymakers. Many who ventured out in the commercial hub wore blue protective gowns and face shields. Inside the carriages, passengers were seen keeping some empty seats between themselves. Crowds were small.

David L. Sloss: The US Should Ban China’s State Media From Social Platforms

The United States should ban Chinese and Russian state media companies from large social media platforms. If Congress fails to act, U.S. social media companies will continue to subvert democracy by providing free electronic amplification services for Chinese and Russian state media companies engaged in information warfare.

In early March, the European Union banned RT and Sputnik, Russia’s state media companies, for spreading “systematic disinformation over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.” Facebook blocked access to RT and Sputnik in the EU and YouTube blocked channels funded by the Russian government globally. However, the EU and social media companies have failed to address another critical source of misinformation about the war in Ukraine: Chinese state media companies.

China Becomes Wild Card in Sri Lanka’s Debt Crisis

China says its initiative to build ports and other infrastructure across Asia and Africa, paid for with Chinese loans, will boost trade. But in a cautionary tale for borrowers, Sri Lanka’s multibillion-dollar debt to Beijing threatens to hinder efforts to resolve a financial crisis so severe that the Indian Ocean nation cannot import food or gasoline. Sri Lanka’s struggle is extreme, but it reflects conditions across dozens of countries from South Pacific islands through some of the poorest in Asia and Africa that have signed onto Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative. The total debt of poor countries is rising, raising risks others might run into trouble.

Sri Lanka’s 22 million people are in dire straits. Foreign currency ran out in April, leading to food shortages, power cuts, and protests that forced a prime minister to resign. Payment on $51 billion of debt to China, Japan, and other foreign lenders was suspended.