lørdag 8. mai 2021

China urges U.N. states not to attend Xinjiang event hosted by Germany, U.S. and UK

China has urged United Nations member states not to attend an event planned next week by Germany, the United States and Britain on the repression of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in Xinjiang, according to a note seen by Reuters on Friday."It is a politically-motivated event," China's U.N. mission wrote in the note, dated Thursday. "We request your mission NOT to participate in this anti-China event."

China charged that the organizers of the event, which also include several other European states along with Australia and Canada, use "human rights issues as a political tool to interfere in China's internal affairs like Xinjiang, to create division and turbulence and disrupt China's development." "They are obsessed with provoking confrontation with China," the note said, adding that "the provocative event can only lead to more confrontation."


Modern states, both liberal and non-liberal, tend to deploy totalitarian-style strategies which force an “internal other” to assimilate into the dominant group. Such assimilationist policies presume the existence of a mainstream society or culture to which ethnic or religious minorities must conform. Yet, the processes and strategies of assimilation may differ in content and degree, depending on a given state. In contemporary China, Muslim minorities are increasingly under the pressure of Sinicization (zhongguohua)—the assimilationist policies of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Among the Hui Muslim communities, the impact of Sinicization is reflected through mosque architectural style and language education. But it is important to note that the impact of Sinicization extends far beyond the Hui communities and into other minority groups. In a sense, the trend of Sinicization among Hui Muslims as a concrete manifestation of a series of totalitarian strategies led by an authoritarian regime in a Han-dominant society.

The Terrible ‘Sinicization’ of Islam in China

In the past three years, over 1 million Uyghurs in the People’s Republic of China have been enduring a systemic, state-run campaign of incarceration and internment in “re-education camps” in one of the world’s worst human rights abuses. The story has begun to receive the coverage it deserves in major media outlets, like in this investigative report updated last month by The New York Times, which shows satellite images of an expansion of these internment camps despite China’s claim that the camps had been shrinking as “reformed” Uyghurs rejoined society.

But what is less known is that the Uyghurs, a Turkic Muslim minority who live in Western China, are not the only targets. Muslims living all over the country find themselves enduring egregious violations of their rights, including draconian measures such as being forced to eat pork and drink alcohol and to shave their beards or remove their headscarves. They are persecuted for having connections — real or perceived — to Muslim intellectuals abroad, and many are denied passports and the right to travel, including to hajj pilgrimages. State authorities have also been prohibiting the adhan (call to prayers) and removing minarets, even bulldozing some mosques in their entirety.

Chinese rocket expected to crash into Earth this weekend

A large Chinese rocket that is out of control is set to reenter Earth's atmosphere this weekend, bringing a final wave of concern before its debris makes impact somewhere on Earth. The Long March 5B rocket, which is around 100 feet tall and weighs 22 tons, is expected to enter Earth's atmosphere "around May 8," according to a statement from Defense Department spokesperson Mike Howard, who said the US Space Command is tracking the rocket's trajectory.

The rocket's "exact entry point into the Earth's atmosphere" can't be pinpointed until within hours of reentry, Howard said, but the 18th Space Control Squadron is providing daily updates on the rocket's location through the Space Track website. The good news is that debris plunging toward Earth -- while unnerving -- generally poses very little threat to personal safety.

"The risk that there will be some damage or that it would hit someone is pretty small -- not negligible, it could happen -- but the risk that it will hit you is incredibly tiny. And so I would not lose one second of sleep over this on a personal threat basis," Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Astrophysics Center at Harvard University, told CNN this week.

Beyond India, a growing number of Asian countries are being ravaged by fresh coronavirus waves

As India's coronavirus catastrophe worsens, new waves of infections are fast engulfing a growing number of nations across South and Southeast Asia -- with some grappling with their worst outbreaks since the pandemic began.The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that India had accounted for nearly half of all global infections and a quarter of deaths reported in the past week.But cases have also skyrocketed in countries around India, from Nepal in the north to Sri Lanka and the Maldives in the south. And it's not just India's neighbors -- further away in Southeast Asia, infections are also surging in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia.

"The Southeast Asia region reported over 2.7 million new cases and over 25,000 new deaths, a 19% and a 48% increase respectively compared to the previous week," the WHO said on Wednesday. "India is currently driving the vast majority of this upward trend."

The rapid resurgence of the virus has placed enormous pressure on the health systems and medical supplies of these countries. Some have called for international assistance amid the deepening crisis.

Is China Done With Salami Slicing?

China’s recent activities and behavior in and around its periphery have shown that its current regime seems intent to push its foreign policy and security boundaries. Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis China has sought to expand its influence at an unprecedented pace, across all domains and in a multitude of locations.

China has escalated its border conflict with India, leading to violent clashes between Indian and Chinese armed forces. China has also conducted offensive cyber operations, targeting India’s critical infrastructure, including vital seaports and the state’s critical power grid. Furthermore, it has significantly increased its operations against Taiwan: It has sent its People Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) past the long-mutually-respected median line in the Taiwan Strait and has escalated the situation further by intruding into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ)with ever-increasing numbers of military aircraft. In addition, China deployed its carrier force to the eastern waters of Taiwan to conduct drills, while casually remarking that such entrancement-and-encirclement operations would become the norm in its foreign relations and interactions with other, principally neighboring, states.

Myanmar Coup Forced Sharp Downturn in Business: Report

It has been apparent for some time that Myanmar’s post-coup crisis has pushed the country toward a dramatic economic collapse. More evidence of the extent of the economic fallout is offered by a new surveyof Myanmar-based companies, which found that the two months after the military’s February 1 coup dealt a heavier blow to the country’s economy than a year of COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns.

Released yesterday, the survey, which was conducted by 10 foreign chambers of commerce in Myanmar, quizzed 372 companies about the impact of the pandemic and the coup. These included 182 from Japan and 115 from Western nations, in addition to 54 local firms and 17 from Myanmar’s Southeast Asian neighbors.

Remarkably, nearly 13 percent of the companies surveyed have ceased all activities since the coup. Around a third of respondents reported a 75 percent-plus reduction in their activities in Myanmar since the military coup in February, while 21 percent said they have reduced activities by between 50 percent and 75 percent. Just 5 percent of respondents reported that the crisis had had no impact on their business activities.

China’s Deep-Sea Motivation for Claiming Sovereignty Over the South China Sea

In March of this year, over 200 Chinese marine militia ships gathered at Whitsun Reef in the Spratly Islands. Their presence was an ominous reminder of China’s intention to claim large swaths of the South China Sea, enclosed by the so-called “nine-dash line,” as its sovereign territory. Philippine officials sounded the alarm and reiterated the 2016 ruling of an international arbitral tribunal that denied the legality of China’s previous claims. Chinese officials dismissed the ruling and its implications and downplayed the military presence. But quietly, China continues to fortify a new and controversial presence in the South China Sea that risks triggering conflict. At least one American pundit is already warning of the risk of war between the United States and China.

Among the many issues at stake is the free and unlimited access to these international waters and the critical trade routes that run across them. These top-water issues are important and have drawn the attention of the largest navies in the world. China’s naval presence in the region has reached record levels with a plan for even more growth.

fredag 7. mai 2021

EU-China investment deal put on ice over sanctions

The EU's long-time-coming investment deal with China is facing major hurdles. The EU's economy commissioner says diplomatic tensions have made conditions for the deal "unfavorable." A diplomatic spat between the European Union and China has jeopardized a major investment agreement, officials said on Tuesday.

EU Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis told AFP news agency that efforts to win approval for the deal were effectively on ice. "We now in a sense have suspended ... political outreach activities from the European Commission side," Dombrovskis said in an interview. "It's clear in the current situation with the EU sanctions in place against China and Chinese counter sanctions in place, including against members of European Parliament (that) the environment is not conducive for ratification of the agreement," Dombrovskis said.

A spokesperson for the European Commission told DW that the ratification process had not begun, and was subject to a legal review. The spokesperson said the ratification process was now effectively paused as it "cannot be separated from the evolving dynamics of the wider EU-China relationship."

EU aims to cut reliance on China for chips and pharmaceutical materials

The European Union aims to cut its dependency on Chinese and other foreign suppliers in six strategic areas including raw materials, pharmaceutical ingredients and semiconductors, under an industrial action plan to be announced next week. A draft seen by Reuters outlined the urgency of the task ahead, citing Europe’s reliance on China for about half of 137 products used in sensitive ecosystems, mainly raw materials and pharmaceuticals and other products key to the bloc’s green and digital goals.

The updated industrial strategy plan, devised after the Covid-19 pandemic led to bottlenecks in supply chains, will be presented by EU digital chief Margrethe Vestager and EU industry chief Thierry Breton on May 5. The European Commission will conduct an in-depth review of the six areas, which also include batteries, hydrogen and cloud and edge technologies, before deciding on the appropriate measures, the draft document said.

China can return stability to Myanmar and fix its image problem if it takes sides in the crisis

China has an image problem in  Myanmar. Rumours have swirled about whether Beijing’s top diplomat had any inkling, when he visited Yangon in January and met military chief Min Aung Hlaing, of the impending coup that would topple the elected National League for Democracy (NLD) government just weeks later.

Then came talk of nightly flights supposedly ferrying tech experts and equipment from Kunming to help the junta build a “Great Firewall”, like China’s, to shut down internet traffic and disrupt the budding civil disobedience movement that sprang up to oppose the military regime. Further rumours followed of Chinese troops supporting Myanmar security forces in putting down peaceful demonstrations. Chinese factories in Yangon soon went up in flames – though it remains unclear who set the fires. China’s muted reaction to the coup, and its continued shielding of the junta from sanctions at the
United Nations Security Council has surely fired this hostility.

It seems, however, that Beijing has not yet made up its mind on Myanmar’s coup. It has not lent decisive support to the junta, and has called for domestic political reconciliation. But now is the time for China to take sides, because a democratic Myanmar is a more reliable partner than the generals.

China embarrassed by badly behaving tourists at Xian and Buddhist Shaolin Temple during May Day holiday period

China’s tourism industry may have returned to pre-pandemic levels during the  May Day holiday, but tourists have once again been called out for bad behaviour. Tourist attractions across mainland China saw various boorish behaviours including climbing up ancient walls and drawing on centuries-old steles as the government recorded 230 million trips during the 5-day public holiday, which was up 103 per cent from the same period in 2019. In Xian, the ancient Chinese capital famous for the Terracotta Army, some tourists were caught on video climbing up the ancient city walls, another major attraction of the city built over 600 years ago, causing bricks to fall, according to China Youth Daily.

Is New Zealand moving away from its traditional pro-China policy?

In the past 24 years,  New Zealand has maintained a pro- China foreign policy that has been consistent under successive prime ministers, and is different from that of its larger neighbour Australia.

The Kiwis, as New Zealanders are often referred to, are proud of their independent approach towards relations with Beijing that has been defined by six “firsts”. New Zealand was the first country in the “West” to support China’s accession to the World Trade Organization in December 2001. The South Pacific nation was also the first developed country to recognise China as a market economy under the WTO; the first developed country to start negotiating a free-trade agreement (FTA) with China; the first developed country to sign and ratify an FTA with China; the first Western country to join China’s
Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank; and the first Western country to sign an MoU with China on the
Belt and Road Initiative.

China-Australia tensions ratchet up unease in Beijing about surging iron ore prices

China may step up efforts to reduce steel demand as authorities and industry groups grow increasingly uneasy about high iron ore prices amid a trade dispute with its biggest supplier Australia, according to analysts. China’s state-dominated steel sector, represented by China Iron and Steel Association (CISA), has been sounding the alarm about surging prices, urging the central government last week to help with market “malfunctions” and improve policies in the futures market.

“I don’t think the high iron ore price is a factor in the trade dispute between the two countries, but it’s probably not helping,” said Shane Oliver, chief economist at investment manager AMP Capital. “Not that there is much that can be done about it in the short-term beyond moving back away from using market forces to determine the price.”

Philippine election: will China and Whitsun Reef dispute loom large?

Beijing’s actions in the  South China Sea are threatening to become a central issue in next year’s
Philippine presidential election, as tensions flare over Chinese vessels’ presence near features in the disputed waters. Analysts say President Rodrigo Duterte’s approach to Beijing’s increasingly aggressive assertions in the waters will influence the position of contenders to succeed him in the vote next May, which Duterte cannot contest because of the one-term limit.

Manila’s efforts to challenge China’s claimed sovereignty over most of the energy-rich sea were backed by an international tribunal’s 2016 verdict that most of Beijing’s claims had no legal basis, but Duterte has previously said he would “set aside” the ruling. The sensitivity of the issue has surfaced again, however, with disputes this year over Whitsun Reef and Scarborough Shoal – encapsulated this week when Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jnr tweeted that China should “get the f*** out”.

Using his personal Twitter account, Locsin demanded China remove its ships from features inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone but also within Beijing’s nine-dash line. He tweeted: “China, my friend, how politely can I put it? Let me see … get the f*** out. What are you doing to our friendship? You. Not us. We’re trying. You.”

'It hurts to look at home': Heartbroken Indians help from abroad

As India's Covid outbreak claims lives and brings chaos to the subcontinent, Indians abroad are also grappling with the emotional toll. When loved ones live half a world away, how do you help during a crisis? With hospitals across India overwhelmed and basic resources exhausted, millions of families abroad have been forced to watch the situation in their hometowns deteriorate from afar. These are some of their stories.

Beijing accuses G7 ministers of interfering in China’s affairs

China has rejected accusations of human rights abuse and economic coercion, made by G7 foreign ministers, accusing them of “blatantly meddling” in China’s internal affairs, calling their remarks groundless. “Attempts to disregard the basic norms of international relations and to create various excuses to interfere in China’s internal affairs, undermine China’s sovereignty and smear China’s image will never succeed,” said the foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin. “They should not criticise and interfere with other countries with a superior mentality, and undermine the current top priority of international anti-epidemic cooperation.”

The officials from the G7, which includes the US, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada, met in London this week to discuss issues of common concern. Analysts said that although topics such as pandemic relief were discussed, China’s challenge to the existing “liberal world order” was chief among their concerns. China’s treatment of its ethnic minority populations, its policy on Hong Kong and the situation in the Taiwan Strait, were mentioned in a lengthy communique released by the group on Wednesday.

Chinese cinemas are showing old propaganda movies. Is Hollywood going to lose out?

Beijing has ordered China's cinemas to use the box office this year to spread propaganda celebrating the Communist Party. The country's movie fans aren't having it — and worry the new mandate is crowding out some of the Hollywood films they are clamoring for.

Chinese moviegoers revolted last month after major ticketing sites around the country quietly stopped promoting showings for ​new re-releases of the three "The Lord of the Rings" movies, the popular and critically acclaimed Western adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy book series. The disappearance of the films — which had been remastered in time for the first movie's 20th anniversary — from theater schedules in early April took many in China by surprise. Warner Bros., which did not respond to questions about why that happened, had been advertising their return to Chinese movie theaters for weeks. (CNN and Warner Bros. are both part of WarnerMedia.)