lørdag 27. februar 2021

Number of Hong Kong residents moving to Taiwan nearly doubles in 2020

Taiwan issued nearly twice as many residence permits to Hongkongers in 2020 compared with the previous year, new government data have shown, further evidence of the continued exodus of people from the city that is under a worsening crackdown.

Pro-democracy supporters and basic freedoms in Hong Kong have been under pressure since the introduction of a national security law by Beijing in late June.

In 2020, the Taiwan government issued 10,813 residence permits and 1,576 settlement permits to people from Hong Kong, according to the immigration department. The figure is almost double that of 2019, when 5,858 residence permits and 1,474 settlement permits were issued. Figures dating back to 2016 hovered around 5,100 residence or settlement permits annually.

Fudan-universitetet åpner senter ved Universitetet i Oslo

Frå starten i 2013 og fram til brotet i juni 2020 var Københavns universitet base for Fudan-European Centre for China Studies. I august tok Fudan University kontakt med Universitetet i Oslo (UiO) med spørsmål om å ta over vertskapet. Det passa perfekt inn i UiOs planar om å trappe opp samarbeidet med kinesiske forskingsinstiusjonar.

— Det er ein interessant organisasjon, seier rektor ved UiO, Svein Stølen.

Fudan har lenge vore rekna som eitt av dei mest liberale (og beste) universiteta i Kina med ein viss distanse til makta i Beijing. Men også ved Fudan-universitetet er den akademiske fridomen no under press, med stadig sterkare politisk kontroll, sensur og overvaking under president Xi Jinpings styre. Dette er ikkje eit argument for å redusere fagleg samarbeid, meiner UiO-rektoren. I ein seremoni på Zoom i dag, fredag, signerer han avtalen som gjer Blindern til hamn for det europeiske Fudan-senteret.

China’s economy could double in size by 2035 — and surpass the U.S. along the way

China stands a good chance of doubling the size of its economy by 2035 — and surpassing the U.S. as the world’s largest economy along the way, said an economist from the Bank of America.

As China seeks to become an advanced nation, Chinese President Xi Jinping said in November that it was possible to double the country’s gross domestic product and per capita income by 2035. Doubling of China’s GDP requires an average annual growth of 4.7% for the next 15 years — which some observers said may be hard to achieve. But Helen Qiao, head of Asia economics at BofA Global Research, said some reform measures would help China get there.

China is under rising pressure to completely remove its much-maligned birth controls

With a rapidly ageing population and a fast shrinking labour force, China is under rising pressure to completely remove its much-maligned birth controls to defuse a ticking demographic time bomb.

These days any public comment the government makes on the hugely sensitive subject could easily ignite a national debate. The latest example came on February 18, when the National Health Commission – which is in charge of family planning – published on its website a statement saying it encouraged the three northeastern provinces with the lowest birth rates in the country to carry out extensive socio-economic studies on removing birth controls and come up with pilot schemes.

The statement was in response to a motion filed by the local deputies to the
National People’s Congress (NPC), the country’s parliament, urging the central government to allow the three provinces to take the lead in eliminating all birth control policies.

Vietnam strengthens fortifications in disputed South China Sea, satellite images reveal

Vietnam has continued to beef up its outposts in the disputed South China Sea with improved fortifications and infrastructure, although the scale of its activities is modest compared to that carried out by China, according to a new report.

Emplacements for anti-aircraft and coastal defense systems have been built on reclaimed land at West Reef and Sin Cowe Island, according to the report by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, or AMTI, which is part of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

It made its assessments based on analysis of satellite imagery in cooperation with Simularity, who says on its website that its software “automatically analyzes geospatial imagery and data to automatically find and classify unusual changes.” The AMTI report added that over the last two years, “West Reef and Sin Cowe Island have seen the most drastic changes” of all of Vietnam’s outposts in the disputed Spratly Islands group, noting that most of the 70 acres of dry land at West Reef is reclaimed land, with a further 26 acres at Sin Cowe Island being similarly reclaimed.

China takes aim at Australian universities with latest boycott

Australian universities have already been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis. But now, a new ploy by the Chinese government could see institutions across the country suffer another crippling blow.

Many Australian universities rely on international students as a major part of their revenue, with that crucial stream abruptly cut off by the pandemic and subsequent border closures. The international education sector brought $37.5 billion to the Australian economy between 2019 and 2020, with China accounting for a staggering $10.5 billion of that figure.

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has sparked hopes that international student levels could soon be on the rise, but unsettling reports coming out of China indicate Chinese students may not be among those rushing back to our universities. Reports surfaced earlier this week that Chinese agencies were being encouraged by local authorities not to recommend Australia as an international study option to students, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

fredag 26. februar 2021

ASEAN Criticized For Not Taking Stronger Stand on Myanmar

Neighboring countries are under pressure to take a stronger stance against the junta in Myanmar, a day after the foreign ministers of Indonesia and Thailand met in Bangkok with its top envoy. Activists criticized the Indonesian government on social media for talking with representatives of the junta, saying that doing so gives legitimacy to the generals in Naypyidaw who toppled an elected government on Feb. 1.

“ASEAN [the Association of Southeast Asian Nations] is still missing in action,” Malaysian MP Charles Santiago, the chairman of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, said Thursday in a statement about the trilateral meeting between the top diplomats at an international airport outside the Thai capital. “It is quite embarrassing that nearly a month since the coup, ASEAN Foreign Ministers have still not met to develop a coordinated response to a blatant violation of its Charter by the Myanmar military,” Santiago said in a statement.

In the coup’s wake, mass protests against the power grab have taken place across Myanmar, with the military responding with violence. Government security forces have killed at least four people and injured dozens in trying to quell the civil disobedience movement.

China Launches All-Out Propaganda Campaign as Xi Jinping Claims Poverty is Over

The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is launching a nationwide propaganda effort ahead of the centenary of the party's founding on July 1, lauding general secretary Xi Jinping's "victory" over poverty and ordering officials to watch patriotic TV shows.

An employee of the CCP's official newspaper, the People's Daily, told RFA on condition of anonymity that party newspapers in all localities were recently instructed to work together withe central propaganda department to plan restropective features and special reports singing the CCP's praises. Local events will also be mandatory during the month surrounding the anniversary, the employee said.

"There will be events run by party committees and also mass public events to spread propaganda about party history," the employee said. "These will go on for more than a month."

Earlier this month, authorities in the northern port city of Tianjin ordered all party committees in public bodies and state-sector industry to organizing screenings of the patriotic TV series "Crossing the Yalu River," and to report back on the scheduling of these events by Feb. 18.

Hong Kong Police Could Charge Dozens of Pro-Democracy Activists

National security police in Hong Kong look set to bring subversion charges against more than 50 opposition politicians and activists in a city-wide crackdown on dissent under a draconian law imposed by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Some of the 53 activists said they expect to be charged on Sunday after being asked to report to their local police stations weeks ahead of their next scheduled check-in under bail arrangements. The activists were arrested on suspicion of "subverting state power" after they took part in a democratic primary election in July 2020, that the authorities said was part of a deliberate attempt to block government bills in the city's Legislative Council (LegCo).

Soon after the primary, chief executive Carrie Lam postponed LegCo elections that should have taken place in early September, citing safety concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic. Former Hong Kong University law professor Benny Tai and founder of the 2014 Occupy Central pro-democracy movement and former Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai were among those arrested.

Hi Mom: comedy about death and parenthood becomes one of China's biggest film hits

A Chinese comedian’s directoral debut about a woman who travels back in time to see her dead mother has become the fourth highest grossing film in the country’s history and the highest ever for a female director. Jia Ling’s Hi Mom opened a fortnight ago and has drawn ticket sales of more than 4.5bn RMB ($700m US), according to box office tracker Maoyan. It is the fastest any Chinese movie has sold that much, the tracker said.

Jia wrote, directed and starred in the film, described as a tearjerker comedy, as a tribute to her own mother, who died when Jia was 19. The film has sparked a conversation in China about women, motherhood and parenting.

Hi Mom follows the story of young woman, Jia Xiaoling, whose mother dies in a car accident in 2001. The character, who feels she hadn’t been a good enough daughter, travels back in time to 1981, determined to meet her mother and help give her a better life, including by attempting to set her up with a different man.

Dutch parliament becomes second in a week to accuse China of genocide in Xinjiang

The Dutch parliament on Thursday passed a non-binding motion saying the treatment of the Uyghur Muslim minority in China amounts to genocide, the first such move by a European country. Activists and United Nations rights experts say at least one million Muslims are being detained in camps in the remote western region of Xinjiang. The activists and some Western politicians accuse China of using torture, forced labor and sterilizations.

China denies any human rights abuses in Xinjiang and says its camps provide vocational training and are needed to fight extremism. "A genocide on the Uyghur minority is occurring in China," the Dutch motion said, stopping short of directly saying that the Chinese government was responsible.

The Chinese Embassy in The Hague said on Thursday any suggestion of a genocide in Xinjiang was an "outright lie" and the Dutch parliament had "deliberately smeared China and grossly interfered in China's internal affairs."

China's Xi declares victory in ending extreme poverty

Chinese President Xi Jinping says his country has achieved the "miracle" of eradicating extreme poverty. His government says that over an eight-year period, nearly 100 million people have been lifted out of poverty. Speaking at a ceremony in Beijing, Mr Xi said it was a "complete victory" that would "go down in history".

But some experts have questioned the way this has been measured. In China, extreme poverty is defined as earning less than $620 (£440) a year.In his speech on Thursday, Mr Xi said the "arduous task of eradicating extreme poverty has been fulfilled"."According to the current criteria, all 98.99 million poor rural population have been taken out of poverty, and 832 poverty-stricken counties as well as 128,000 villages have been removed from the poverty list," he said.

Analysis: Can Asia help Myanmar find a way out of coup crisis?

The arrival of the Myanmar junta-appointed foreign minister, Wunna Maung Lwin, in Bangkok on Wednesday for an unannounced meeting with his Thai and Indonesian counterparts marked the start of a daunting diplomatic undertaking for South East Asia.

No details were released of what was discussed. This first official contact with a senior member of the junta was so delicate that, when asked about it, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha was unwilling to confirm that it had even happened. In fact for every country with an interest in what happens in Myanmar, the crisis presents an unusually thorny challenge.

torsdag 25. februar 2021

The children of Korean War prisoners who never came home

When the Korean War ended in 1953, about 50,000 South Korean prisoners of war were kept in the North. Many were forced into labouring jobs against their will. Some were killed. Now their children are fighting for recognition, writes BBC Korea's Subin Kim.

No matter how hard she tries, Lee cannot recall what happened after three shots were fired by the executioners who killed her father and brother. It was three decades ago, when Lee was in her thirties. She does remember what happened just before. Security officers had dragged her to a stadium in a remote village in North Korea called Aoji. She was forced to sit under a wooden bridge, waiting for something - she knew not what - to happen. A crowd swelled and a truck pulled up, and two people were escorted off the truck. It was her father and brother.

North Korea enslaves prisoners in producing coal for export, report says

North Koreea has been enslaving political prisoners, including children, in coal production to help boost exports and earn foreign currency as part of a system directly linked to its nuclear and missile programmes, a South Korea-based human rights group has said.

The Seoul-based Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (NKHR) released a study analysing an intricate connection between North Korea’s exploitation of its citizens, the production of goods for export, and its weapons programmes. The report, titled Blood Coal Export from North Korea, says Pyongyang has been operating a “pyramid fraud-like” scheme to force people held in prison camps to produce quotas of coal and other goods for export.

Japan increases protection for US military amid 'severe security environment'

J apan's military performed 25 missions in 2020 in defense of US ships or planes, a sign of the growing integration of two of Asia's most powerful armed forces. The number of what Japan calls "asset protection" missions was up from 14 in 2019 amid a "severe security environment," according to an announcement from Japan's Ministry of Defense.

The Japanese military said the 25 missions involved Japan Self-Defense Forces (SDF) protecting US Navy ships on four occasions while those ships were gathering information on ballistic missiles or other warning or surveillance activities. In 21 instances, the missions involved protecting US aircraft that were in joint training with their Japanese counterparts.

Japanese authorities would not say when or where the missions took place, only that they "contributed to the defense of Japan." American and Japanese forces participated in a wide range of exercises last year in and around Japan and as far away as the Indian Ocean.

India's groundwater crisis threatens food security for hundreds of millions, study says

Hundreds of millions of people in India face a serious threat to their livelihoods and food security due to overexploitation of vital water supplies, according to the authors of a new study. India is one of the world's biggest crop producers and more than half of its 1.3 billion people rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. But the groundwater that makes up 40% of the country's water supply has been steadily depleting for years.

The study, published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, found that overuse of groundwater could cause winter harvests in some regions of the country to fall up to two thirds by 2025. A team of international researchers analyzed satellite imagery and census data to gauge the impact on winter harvests, which account for 44% of the country's annual cropped acreage for food grains, according to the study. Winter agriculture relies heavily on groundwater irrigation -- as opposed to other seasons that can take advantage of heavy monsoon rains.

India was in crisis months ago. Why have its Covid cases plummeted?

Six months ago, India was in crisis. Critically ill Covid-19 patients were being turned away from hospitals. Doctors were collapsing from exhaustion. And the virus was spreading through crowded slums, home to millions of the country's poorest people.

Today, the country looks very different. Daily new cases have plummeted, dropping from a peak of over 90,000 infections in September down to just over 10,000 a day in February. On February 9, the capital Delhi reported zero virus deaths for the first time in nearly nine months, according to COVID19INDIA, a website that crowdsources Covid-19 data from official sources.

This has all happened without drastic measures such as circuit-breaker lockdowns, which have been used in places like New Zealand and Australia to get outbreaks under control. The Indian government is still implementing certain social distancing restrictions and has scrambled to assist overstretched hospitals -- but the economy has reopened, domestic travel has resumed, and people are largely going about their daily lives.