fredag 17. februar 2017

'Forest cities': the radical plan to save China from air pollution

When Stefano Boeri imagines the future of urban China he sees green, and lots of it. Office blocks, homes and hotels decked from top to toe in a verdant blaze of shrubbery and plant life; a breath of fresh air for metropolises that are choking on a toxic diet of fumes and dust.

Last week, the Italian architect, famed for his tree-clad Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) skyscraper complex in Milan, unveiled plans for a similar project in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing. The Chinese equivalent – Boeri’s first in Asia – will be composed of two neighbouring towers coated with 23 species of tree and more than 2,500 cascading shrubs. The structures will reportedly house offices, a 247-room luxury hotel, a museum and even a green architecture school, and are currently under construction, set for completion next year. Read more

China 'eliminating civil society' by targeting human rights activists – report

China’s human rights situation further deteriorated last year as police systematically tortured activists and forcibly disappeared government critics while state TV continued to broadcast forced confessions, a new report shows.

A creeping security state also attempted to codify much of its existing behaviour on paper, giving the police legal authority to criminalise a host of NGOs deemed politically sensitive by the authorities, according to the report by the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD). “The Chinese government seems intent on eliminating civil society through a combination of new legislation restricting the funding and operations of NGOs, and the criminalisation of human rights activities as a so-called threat to national security,” Frances Eve, a researcher at CHRD, told the Guardian. Read more

He Called China’s President ‘Xitler’ on Twitter. Now He Faces Prison.

From his hometown in northeast China, Kwon Pyong used the internet to mock and criticize the nation’s rulers, including posting a selfie in which he wore a T-shirt that likened President Xi Jinping to Hitler. But Mr. Kwon, an ethnic Korean who studied in America, disappeared into police custody last September, soon after he shared on Twitter a picture of the T-shirt featuring scabrous names for Mr. Xi, including “Xitler.” And on Wednesday Mr. Kwon faced trial on a charge of “inciting subversion,” said his two former defense lawyers, who were abruptly dismissed from the case days before the trial. Read more

torsdag 16. februar 2017

Is missing tycoon Xiao Jianhua losing control of his business empire?

Doubts are rising over missing ­tycoon Xiao Jianhua’s grip on his vast business empire, with one source close to Xiao’s family ­saying the billionaire’s contact with the outside world has been ­severed “in the last couple of days”. The source said that in the days immediately after his return to the mainland from Hong Kong on January 27, Xiao had been allowed limited external contact, including phone calls to his wife. “That’s not the case any more,” the source said last night. But another source close to the investigation insisted that Xiao was still in contact with his wife and his business associates. Read more

Is China preparing to test Trump White House?

Major geopolitical crises have a way of greeting US presidents soon after taking office. Nazi Germany's withdrawal from the League of Nations in 1933, the Soviet-led construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 -- all were among the most daunting tests of US foreign policy in the past century, and all came less than a year into the tenures of new US administrations. 
This is no accident. Foreign governments often like to test a new White House early on. Indeed, Russia appears to have already commenced its testing of Trump's Washington; a resurgence of heavy fighting in Eastern Ukraine suggests Moscow may be embarking on an offensive that could redraw Ukrainian borders beyond Crimea. Read more

From 'Made in China' to 'Made by China for China'

China remains the biggest manufacturer on the planet, but most of what it makes stays at home and the vast majority of what it consumes is made there, too. 
These twin facts could confound any Donald Trump-led trade assault, according to Diana Choyleva, London-based chief economist at Enodo Economics. Of course, China remains deeply knitted into the global supply chain. "But the bulk of the value added is actually destined for China’s domestic market rather than abroad," Choyleva wrote in a recent note. Read more

Chinese students in the US are using “inclusion” and “diversity” to oppose a Dalai Lama graduation speech

Chinese students are joining their peers on American campuses in getting woke. Their cause? Defending the official line of the Communist Party. On Feb. 2, the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) formally announced that the Dalai Lama would make a keynote speech at the June commencement ceremony. The announcement triggered outrage among Chinese students who view the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader as an oppressive figure threatening to divide a unified China. A group of them now plans to meet with the university chancellor to discuss the content of the upcoming speech. Read more

The Sinocism China Newsletter 02.15.17

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onsdag 15. februar 2017

The Sinocism China Newsletter 02.13.17-Did Trump Cave to Xi Jinping? New Twists in the Case of Abducted Billionaire Xiao Jinhua

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'The darkest time': Hong Kong reels over bizarre disappearance of Chinese billionaire

It has been more than two weeks since Xiao Jianhua last crossed the threshold of his luxury suite at the Four Seasons hotel in Hong Kong.  For a billionaire - even one with a relatively low profile like Xiao - to vanish would, in normal times, be alarming. But when the place he has been sucked into is the black hole of China’s security state, nerves have become increasingly rattled. Xiao is renowned for his close relationships and business dealings with elite families, including relatives of President Xi Jinping. Many believed those connections made him untouchable. Read more

Jeg reiser til Samarkand. Blir du med?

I slutten av september reiser jeg til forjettede Samarkand og flere andre byer på Silkeveien. Blir du med? Vi skal beundre århundre gamle monumenter, nyte folkelivet, spise god mat, smake på den lokale vinen, besøke landsbyer og fine museer - og mye mer. Meld deg på før det er for sent! Les mer

Why America must engage with Asia-Pacific

Our forward-deployed forces in the Asia-Pacific region secure our enduring national interests, uphold our treaty commitments, and safeguard open seas and open commerce. Fortunately, we also have allies that cover much of the cost of America's forward presence in the region. For example, Japan contributes approximately half of annual US basing costs, while South Korea contributes about 40%. But greater American investment is needed to update our posture and keep pace with evolving threats. A strong first step would be Congress' support for partner capacity building efforts to assure critical munitions, military facilities and strengthened cooperation with our allies. Our military should continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, including where China's excessive and militarized maritime claims erode the freedom of the seas. Read more

Torbjørn Færøvik: Proffen og amatøren

Siden Xi Jinping overtok som partisjef i Kina i 2012, har han kvittet seg med flere potensielle rivaler. Ikke siden Mao har Kina hatt en sterkere leder. Til høsten får han fem nye år i sjefsstolen. Som politiker er han langt smartere enn Trump, og kineserne vet det. Mens Xi styrer etter en plan og overveier sine utspill med omhu, fortsetter Trump å improvisere fra dag til dag, til bekymring for stadig flere i inn- og utland – selv sine medarbeidere. Les mer

mandag 6. februar 2017

China's gamble for global supremacy in era of Trump

If the Trump administration is to push back against China in the South China Sea it will need support from US allies who ask themselves whether Mr Trump has the strategic focus necessary for such a risky undertaking. China will naturally encourage those doubts given its preference for making domination of the South China Sea a fait accompli with as little fuss as possible. But there are many players, many unpredictable variables and many wrong moves in this game. One week into the new world order, China's leaders may feel some things are playing into their hand. But it will be many months, perhaps years, before they can judge whether China's global gamble is a win against Trump's America. Read more

US defence secretary tries to calm Asian jitters – but is undermined at every turn

The job of US defence secretary is a demanding one at the best of times. But for James Mattis, a former Marine Corps general, the problems are not confined to Iraq, Afghanistan and Isis. One of the biggest challenges facing the Pentagon’s new chief lurks in the White House, just across the Potomac river. His name is Donald Trump. 
Mattis made his first overseas trip as “defsec” last week, and his choice of destination was instructive. Rather than visiting the Middle East or Nato allies in Europe, he travelled to South Korea and Japan. During his presidential campaign, Trump alarmed both countries by demanding that they pay more for their own defence and even acquire nuclear weapons. Read more

Islands on the frontline of a new global flashpoint: China v Japan

Ishigaki Island does not look like a frontline. Japan’s own tropical idyll, it is a sleepy place of pineapple fields and mango orchards, wherethousands of tourists potter along white sand beaches and scuba dive in crystal clear seas. Yet this tiny dot on the edge of the Pacific is the closest Japanese town to the uninhabited but fiercely disputed Senkaku Islands, once inhospitable home to a tuna processing factory, now abandoned but key to lucrative fishing grounds, oil and gas fields and a strategic shipping route. Read more

Avtalen med Kina er et norsk knefall

Det er ingen grunn til å tro at avtalen gjør det lettere for Norge å påvirke kinesisk politikk når det gjelder handel eller på noe som helst annet område.Det skyldes ikke minst avtaleteksten der Norge gir avkall på å kritisere det Kina definerer som «kjerneinteresser» og «landets nasjonale integritet». Hva de er, er ikke forklart. Men det er neppe trolig at man fra norsk side har lyst til å teste ut grensene ved for eksempel å sette spørsmålstegn ved forfølgelsen av menneskerettighetsforkjempere eller talsmenn for nasjonale minoriteter, skriver Kåre Dahl Martinsen og Ingerid Opdahl, professor og førsteamanusensis ved Institutt for forsvarsstudier. Les mer

Torbjørn Færøvik: Norge må ikke bli et gissel for lederne i Beijing

For seks år siden satt våre fremste politikere i Oslo rådhus og lyttet til Thorbjørn Jaglands tale og Liv Ullmanns fremføring av Lius forsvarsskrift i retten. Noen hadde tårer i øynene. Da seremonien var over, stilte de seg i kø på rådhustrappen for å la seg intervjue av mediene, for alle var like betatt. tør de samme politikerne knapt nok nevne Dalai Lamas og Liu Xiaobos navn, og når Børge Brende – en gang formann i Stortingets Tibet-komité – blir spurt om Dalai Lama får komme til Norge i fremtiden, avfeier han det som «et hypotetisk spørsmål». Skal det bli en ny, norsk tradisjon å utestenge tidligere fredsprisvinnere fordi de ikke passer inn i våre ambisjoner som eksportnasjon og global problemløser?