fredag 16. mars 2018

House Proposal Targes Chinese Confucius Institutes As Foreign Agents

A new draft proposal in the House of Representatives seeks to require China’s cultural outposts in the United States, the Confucius Institutes, to register as foreign agents. The effort, spearheaded by U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), targets any foreign funding at U.S. universities that aims to promote the agenda of a foreign government.

“The bottom line is transparency,” Wilson tells Foreign Policy in an interview.

The draft bill does not single out Confucius Institutes by name, but according to Wilson it will apply to the Chinese government-run programs, which offer language and culture classes on more than 100 American college and university campuses. The institutes have come under increasing scrutiny in recent months due to their sometimes heavy-handed attempts to censor discussion of topics that the Chinese Communist Party deems off-limits, leading to growing concerns about academic freedom.

Jojje Olsson: Första mötet med Peter Dahlin, svensk gissel i Kina

Peter flyttade till Peking 2007 – samma år som jag – och bodde där tills han blev kidnappad, fängslad och utvisad i början av 2016. Men trots att vi bott i samma stadsdel under nästan ett årtionde, hade jag aldrig träffat eller ens hört talas om honom. Under sin tid i Peking verkade Peter nämligen under största möjliga diskretion, antog ett alias och utgav sig ofta för att vara engelsklärare eller son till någon affärsman. Men i själva verket drev han en NGO, en icke-statlig organisation, vilken samarbetade med de människorättsadvokater som Kinas regim anser vara samhällets värsta fiender.

Under tre dagar ska jag nu bo i Peters hus. När vi väl kommit överens om premisserna för intervjun – och spionmisstankarna mot min flickvän avfärdats – tänder Peter ytterligare en Marlboro Light, drar ett djupt bloss, och berättar att han egentligen aldrig riktigt hängett sig åt kinesisk politik eller de stora traditionella politiska frågorna i Kina.

A Bar Street Falls Quiet as Beijing Puts a Limit on Foreigners

Most nights, a mixed crowd of young Chinese and foreigners, many of them students, cram the sidewalks along Caijing Dong Street, drinking alcohol and snacking on street food to the sound of thumping music as they course from one club to the next. Recently, though, there has been a more subdued vibe.

The international atmosphere along this strip, known as Wudaokou and located in the heart of Beijing’s university district, has fallen afoul of political sensibilities. At least two bars say they have been told by the local police not to let in more than 10 foreigners at a time until March 22, after the end of the annual session of the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp Parliament.

Wary of China, Europe and Others Push Back on Foreign Takeovers

Europe is pushing for more stringent vetting of foreign investments, with an eye on Beijing. Australia has been blocking bids by Chinese buyers for strategic assets. And in Canada, a Chinese takeover of a major contractor faces a national security test. As China looks to spread its wealth and influence, the United States is not the only country seeking to shield its industries under the guise of national security. Governments around the world, and especially in Europe, are increasingly inclined to use such concerns as a litmus test for Chinese investments to protect their competitive edge.

When Xi Speaks, Chinese Officials Jump. Maybe Too High.

After China’s president, Xi Jinping, ordered Beijing to cut its population, his protégé ordered the bulldozing of the homes of tens of thousands of migrants. After Mr. Xi told northern Chinese provinces to cut smog, cadres junked home heaters and stoves, leaving residents shivering. These days when Mr. Xi speaks, officials from the top of the Communist Party to the lowest village committees snap to unflinching attention. The pressure on them may grow now that Mr. Xi has swept away a constitutional term limit on his presidency, strengthening his grip over the country.

tirsdag 13. mars 2018

UN officials point finger at Myanmar for 'crimes under international law'

UN human rights officials have said it is likely that “crimes under international law” have been committed against the Rohingya in Myanmar and called for a body to collect evidence that could be presented in international criminal courts. Speaking to the Human Rights Council on Monday, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, said that “the repressive practices of previous military governments were returning as the norm once more” in Myanmar.

US Carrier Visit to Vietnam Strong on Symbolism, But Follow-up To Be Gradua

Analysts tend to agree that the recent visit of a U.S. aircraft carrier to Vietnam has sent a powerful signal to China that the United States is in the South China Sea to stay. But aside from the five-day port call’s symbolic significance, several expert analysts caution that Vietnam’s next steps in strengthening defense ties with the U.S. are likely to be both cautious and carefully calibrated.

“The visit always was viewed by both sides as largely symbolic, so at that level it can be viewed as a success,” said Murray Hiebert, a Southeast Asia expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington D.C.-based think tank. Collin Koh Swee Lean, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, says regarding the carrier’s visit, “I’d caution against getting too far ahead of ourselves in over-reading the ramifications. The follow-on steps will likely remain calibrated and incremental,” says Dr. Koh. “No quantum leaps.”

Chinese Women, Inspired by #MeToo Movement, Speak Out on Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment in China is still rife, feminists and NGOs said ahead of International Women's Day on Thursday, although the #MeToo movement has been gaining some traction on the country's tightly controlled social media platforms despite widespread state censorship. A survey of more than 400 female Chinese journalists found that more than 80 percent of them had been victims of sexual harassment in the workplace, report author and founder of the Anti-Sexual Harassment (ATSH) campaign group Sophina Huang said.

Huang, herself a former journalist for a state-run news agency and a Guangzhou newspaper, said she was inspired by the global #MeToo hashtag campaign encouraging victims of sexual abuse and harassment to speak out. Huang's survey was based on 416 valid samples out of 1,762 responses from 15 areas of China, including Guangdong, Beijing, Shanghai, Hubei, Zhejiang, Shandong and Sichuan.

China’s Communist Party Centralizes Power Over Finance, Pollution Control

The Chinese government said on Tuesday that it planned to overhaul supervision of the country’s debt-ridden financial sector, its environmental regulators and other essential government agencies in a broad move intended to further consolidate the Communist Party’s hold on official levers of power.

Premier Li Keqiang asked the National People’s Congress, the country’s legislature, to approve a plan that would combine China’s banking and insurance regulators in an effort to bolster their ability to monitor financial institutions. At the same time, both agencies would relinquish some of their broad policy responsibilities to China’s central bank, which would acquire an even greater role in preserving financial stability in what is now the world’s second-largest economy.

mandag 12. mars 2018

Ny bok: Kim Jong-un drepte sin egen onkel og halvbror fordi han følte situasjonen krevde det

I denne boken følger Sun Heidi Sæbø sporene fra det spektakulære drapet på Kim Jong-uns halvbrod. Sæbø ender opp med et portrett av en diktator med ryggen mot veggen.

– Kim Jong-un er en person vi hører om så å si daglig i media, men som vi egentlig har veldig liten sikker kunnskap om. I arbeidet med boken kom jeg frem til at drapene på det som er hans nærmeste familie er det som kanskje mer enn noe annet skiller ham fra andre, forfedrene inkludert. Dermed ble jakten på drapsmotiv også en søken etter å forstå Kim Jong-un, såvel som regimet han styrer, men som han til de grader er et produkt av selv, forteller Sæbu når hun skal beskrive sin nye utgivelse, Kim Jong-un – Et skyggeportrett av en diktator.

'Shameless naysayers': Chinese media hits back at questions over Xi Jinping's power grab

Beijing has hit out at the “shameless” and “malicious” western “naysayers” who have questioned Xi Jinping’s historic power grab, a move that sets the Communist party leader up to rule China for life. On Monday, one day after Chinese lawmakers voted almost unanimously for a constitutional amendment abolishing presidential term limits, state-run newspapers turned on foreign critics of Xi’s move.

“It has already become a habit for some in the west to speak ill of China’s political system ... whenever it comes to China they choose to look at it through tainted glasses,” the China Daily, an English language broadsheet, complained in an editorial.

Susan Shirk: China in Xi Jinping’s «New Era»

After Mao Zedong died at the age of 82 in 1976, his successors deliberately crafted a system that they hoped would prevent the rise of another dictator. Mao had turned against other leaders and put the nation at risk through irrational schemes. Deng Xiaoping, Mao’s former comrade-in-arms who had twice been purged by him, did not blame Mao as an individual for the tragic mistakes of the Cultural Revolution (1966–76) and the Great Leap Forward (1958–62). Instead, Deng targeted the systemic source of the problem: “Over-concentration of power is liable to give rise to arbitrary rule by individuals at the expense of collective leadership.”

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Ending Term Limits for China’s Xi Is a Big Deal. Here’s Why.

The roughly 3,000 delegates of the National People’s Congress, China’s legislature, voted almost unanimously on Sunday to end a two-term limit on the presidency, one of the main leadership posts held by Xi Jinping. While the overwhelming approval by the party-controlled congress was not a surprise, the repercussions go beyond just allowing Mr. Xi to stay on longer. Here’s what is at stake, and why ending the term limit matters.

China Silences Its Feminists on International Women's Day

Chinese authorities have closed the social media account of a prominent women's rights website, and prevented activists from engaging in public activities on and around International Women's Day. The Feminist Voices account on microblogging platform Sina Weibo was blocked on Thursday evening, the website's U.S.-based founding editor Lü Pin said via her Twitter account. "Feminist Voices' Weibo account ... was blocked in the evening of March 8th 2018," Lü wrote. "Sina told us they won’t reactivate it because we 'posted sensitive and illegal information'," she said, describing the site as the "largest feminist alternative media in China." At the time of its suspension, Feminist Voices had more than 180,000 followers on Sina Weibo, according to Lü. The account was also shut down this time last year.

The Trump-Kim Summit Won’t End Well

North Korea has been desperate for a state-visit from a sitting U.S. president since at least the Clinton administration. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has said that the United States has not made any concessions, but let’s be clear: THE MEETING IS THE CONCESSION. Although President Trump seems to be under the impression that the meeting would be to discuss the elimination of North Korea’s nuclear weapons, the North Koreans haven’t said anything remotely like that. In fact, all we have from the North Koreans is the secondhand account of a South Korean diplomat of his boozy dinner with Kim Jong Un and an email sent by the North Korean ambassador to the United Nations to Anna Fifield at the Washington Post.

søndag 11. mars 2018

'This could destroy China': parliament sets Xi Jinping up to rule for life

The Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, has succeeded in abolishing presidential term limits, a momentous political coup that paves the way for him to stay in power for years to come. Nearly 3,000 members of China’s National People’s Congress voted the highly controversial constitutional amendment through during a Sunday afternoon session at the Great Hall of the People – an imposing Mao-era theatre on the western fringe of Tiananmen Square. Applause rippled through the auditorium as Xi cast his vote, using two hands to place a salmon-coloured ballot into a bright red box at 3.24pm. A further 2,957 ballots were cast in favour of the change while three delegates abstained and two voted against, a small hint of the outrage the move has caused in some liberal circles.

A Summer Vacation in China’s Muslim Gulag

Since announcing a “people’s war on terror” in 2014, the Chinese Communist Party has created an unprecedented network of re-education camps in the autonomous Xinjiang region that are essentially ethnic gulags. Unlike the surgical “strike hard” campaigns of the recent past, the people’s war uses a carpet-bombing approach to the country’s tumultuous western border region. Chen Quanguo, Xinjiang’s party secretary and the architect of this security program, encouraged his forces to “bury the corpses of terrorists in the vast sea of a people’s war.” But the attempt to drown a few combatants has pulled thousands of innocent people under in its wake.

Chinese Students in America Say ‘Not My President’

The first posters appeared on a bulletin board at University of California, San Diego on March 1. Two days later, they popped up at Columbia University and New York University. Now they’ve spread to nine more colleges across the United States, Canada, Australia, and United Kingdom. The twin posters — one in Chinese, one in English — read, “Not my president,” the words superimposed over a photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The signs are part of a small but growing campaign among Chinese university students abroad to express their opposition to the Chinese Communist Party’s proposal, announced last week, to scrap presidential term limits, paving the way for Xi to stay in power indefinitely. “The single most important driving force behind China’s growth in the past 30 years has been the check on the party leader’s power on the institutional level,” the organizers, told Foreign Policy in a message, after being contacted initially through a Twitter account associated with the campaign.