torsdag 20. september 2018

Torbjørn Færøvik: Har Arbeiderpartiet en Kina-politikk?

Stortingets utenriks- og forsvarskomité har vært i Kina, og komitéleder Anniken Huitfeldt kvitterer med en kronikk i Romerikes Blad. Hun innleder med å fortelle at det går stadig flere flylaster med norsk laks til Kina, og at importen fra Kina til Norge er større enn noen gang. "Det er nesten ikke mulig å forestille seg hvor mye Kina har vokst økonomisk siden 1990", skriver hun.

U.S. Orders Chinese State News Outlets to Register as Foreign Agents

China's foreign ministry hit out onWednesday at the "politicization" of the media after reports that Washington has ordered two of Beijing's state media behemoths to register as agents of a foreign government under lobbying laws. The U.S. Justice Department had demanded that China's official XinhuaNews Agency and state-owned international broadcaster CGTN register as foreign agents, which could limit their access in Washington, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal and by Bloomberg news agency.

China Has Chosen Cultural Genocide in Xinjiang—For Now

The news out of Xinjiang, China’s western region, this summer has been a steady stream of Orwellian horrors. A million people held against their will in political reeducation camps. Intelligence officials assigned as “adopted” members of civilian families. Checkpoints on every corner and mandatory spyware installed on every device.

The targets of this police state are China’s Muslim Uighur minority, whose loyalties the central government has long distrusted for both nationalist and religious reasons. An already uneasy relationship deteriorated further in 2009, when Uighur protests led to violent riots and a retaliatory crackdown. Hundreds died in the clashes or were disappeared by security forces in their aftermath. Since then, a handful of deadly terrorist attacks outside of Xinjiang itself have served to justify increasingly heavy restrictions on the group’s rights and freedoms.

China strikes back by going after America's energy companies

The United States has an abundance of natural gas that pollution-riddled China badly needs to wean itself off coal. Eying China's voracious demand, Cheniere Energy, ExxonMobil (XOM) and other American energy companies are racing to build more than two dozen expensive facilities to export liquefied natural gas, which is super-cooled natural gas that can be transported by ship.

China even marked President Donald Trump's visit to Beijing last fall by agreeing to invest as much as $43 billion into an LNG project in Alaska. But this pairing of an able buyer and well-supplied seller no longer looks like a slam dunk. As part of the escalating trade war, China on Tuesday said it will impose a 10% tariff on $60 billion of US products -- including LNG.

onsdag 19. september 2018

North Korea’s New Promises on Weapons Stop Short of Denuclearization

Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, finally committed on Wednesday to some concrete steps toward denuclearization — most notably an offer to “permanently dismantle” facilities that are central to the production of fuel for nuclear warheads — but they fell far short of what American officials have demanded.

On the second day of his summit meeting with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, Mr. Kim signed a series of agreements aimed at easing tensions between the two countries, like stopping military exercises and creating no-fly zones near their shared border. Mr. Kim also promised to visit Seoul, the South Korean capital, which would make him the first North Korean leader to make such a trip.

After 'major escalation' in US-China trade war, what happens next?

The trade war between the United States and China just got a lot bigger after both sides announced their broadest waves of tariffs yet. The latest exchange of fire means the two economic superpowers will soon have imposed tariffs on more than $360 billion of goods. And analysts say the battle is likely to get worse, even as China starts to run low on ways to retaliate.

The new tariffs announced by Washington and Beijing this week "mark a major escalation of their conflict that will hit global economic growth," Louis Kuijs, head of Asia Economics at research firm Oxford Economics, said in a note. The Chinese government said late Tuesday that it would impose tariffs on US goods worth $60 billion following the Trump administration's announcement that it was hitting $200 billion worth of Chinese goods with new tariffs.

China May Become the World’s Leader in AI. But at What Cost?

The unprecedented amount of data Chinese tech giants like Baidu and Alibaba collect is helping accelerate China’s development of big data and artificial intelligence (AI) applications, including facial recognition, automated retail operations, and its much-discussed social credit system. But it has also raised ethical concerns about data privacy, and about the state’s control over its citizens. Policymakers in Beijing are trying to balance these concerns with a desire to strengthen China’s position in both strategic fields. What is the future of AI and big data in China? Will China’s tech industry surpass Silicon Valley to become a global leader in either or both fields?

How To Fight China’s Sharp Power

There is a debate raging about China’s “sharp power” and how to defend against it, whether it’s investment screening, shuttering Confucius institutes, or forcing visa reciprocity for journalists. But how does a fractious, divided world not only resist Beijing’s sharp power but also find ways to constructively engage with China? Or to use a soccer metaphor, how can the international community—governments, civil society actors, and individuals—avoid just saying “no” to Beijing and playing “defense” by protecting rather narrowly defined national interests? To what extent could the lowering of liberal-democratic standards by becoming increasingly illiberal and paranoid about Chinese Communist Party influence operations lead to proverbial “own goals”? And are there new strategies of continued, considered interaction—a new way of playing “offense”—that policymakers could adopt?

tirsdag 18. september 2018

China Once Looked Tough on Trade. Now Its Options Are Dwindling.

President Trump imposed tariffs in July on $34 billion in Chinese goods. China matched them dollar for dollar with its own. Then he hit an additional $16 billion in goods in August. China matched that, too.

Now, Mr. Trump has made his biggest move yet, announcing 10 percent tariffs starting in a week on $200 billion a year of Chinese goods. But this time, China can’t match them all — and that crystallizes a growing problem for Beijing. On Tuesday, Chinese officials responded to the president’s latest move by following through on an earlier threat to impose tariffs on $60 billion in American goods — nearly everything China buys from the United States.

China’s tit-for-tat responses have so far failed to thwart Mr. Trump’s trade offensive, and with the White House amping up the fight again, Chinese leaders aren’t sure how to respond, people briefed on economic policymaking discussions say.

New interview: Chinese ambassador to Sweden demands compensation and punishment after tourists evicted from Stockholm hotel

In the last couple of days, a Chinese family getting evicted from a Stockholm hotel by Swedish police have made headlines around the world a created a diplomatic row between the two countries. (See this link for videos and a detailed explanation.) After the incident, Chinese authorities immediately contacted their Swedish counterpart to demand an apology, compensation for the family and punishment for the involved police officers.

The Swedish top prosecutor at an early stage decided to cancel the investigation against the police patrol, as there was no indication that they had been acting wrongfully. Indeed, as the videos are showing, no violence were being used, and the family were let off at a metro station which is a common place for the police to bring people that are disturbing social order in the city centre. Nevertheless, the Chinese authorities have kept demanding apology, compensation and punishment. The Chinese embassy in Stockholm have been most vocal with those demands.

How Beijing’s propaganda dents China’s image, rather than burnishes it

Anyone who follows Chinese state media coverage can see that Chinese propaganda is inconsistent. From the changing strategy on President Xi Jinping’s image to its stance on patriotic films, Chinese propaganda does not follow a consistent guideline. Chinese officials seemingly decide in an arbitrary and random fashion how the nation is presented, both to a domestic audience and to the outside world.

The Chinese government’s public communication appears aimed only at meeting short-term goals. But contradictions arise without a coherent strategy. There have been occasions when Chinese propaganda has adversely affected the country’s image, or triggered reactions that were opposite to what the regime intended. Without a clear, modern and consistent strategy, Chinese propaganda will only hurt the nation’s image.


In the latest edition of Seeking Truth (求是), the Chinese Communist Party’s chief official journal of theory, the president of Xinhua News Agency, Cai Mingzhao (蔡名照), conveys to his ranks the “spirit” of President Xi Jinping’s speech last month to a national conference on propaganda and ideology.

The text, naturally, is a dense layering of official terminologies, the vast majority of them generally familiar to those poor souls who routinely wade through the tide pools of Party discourse. Everything centers, tellingly, around the figure of Xi Jinping and his defining ideological concept.

China is inventing a whole new way to oppress a people

In Xinjiang, Beijing is honing to perfection such tactics as facial recognition, personal-background data-mining and DNA collection. Scannable codes are posted on apartment buildings where suspected Uighur dissidents live. Such practices, reminiscent of 1940s low-tech identification of Jewish residences under German control, may expand beyond the Uighur province.

“Now they [have started] using these systems in the rest of China,” says Omer Kanat, director of the Washington, DC-based Uyghur Human Rights Project. Soon, he added, the tactics China uses in Xinjiang will be exported to friendly dictatorships outside the country as well. Up to 1 million Uighurs were sent to re-education camps for “sins” like eating Halal food or growing beards longer than Beijing allows. According to some reports, those interned in camps are forced to eat pork, study Xi’s writing and participate in intensive forced-labor projects. Some are executed; many don’t survive for other reasons.

Why you must travel the Silk Road in your lifetime

History is full of long and legendary highways but none – frankly – come close to the Silk Road. It’s not just the magnitude (at least 4,000 miles, in more than 40 countries) but the mythic potency of the project. The world was cleft into east and west in the Middle Ages.
But long before, the Silk Road – which has existed in one form or another since the fourth century BC – breached any such divide. While trade was its raison d’être – Chinese silk, of course, but also salt, sugar, spices, ivory, jade, fur and other luxury goods – the road forged deep social, cultural and religious links between disparate peoples.

søndag 16. september 2018

Palau, a tiny Pacific island, standing up to China

Wearing a Hawaiian shirt and sipping an iced tea, Ongerung Kambes Kesolei sits at a veranda bar overlooking a hotel pool, under fans that slowly push humid air around on a quiet Sunday afternoon. But the calm of the scene is deceptive, for Kesolei is explaining that his small island home of Palau – a dot on the map in the north-west corner of the Pacific with a population of just over 20,000 people – has attracted the ire of one of the world’s most powerful nations and is now at the centre of a geo-political bunfight.

“They [China] want to weaken Tsai Ing-wen [the Taiwanese president] and that’s where Palau comes into play,” said Kesolei, the editor of one of Palau’s two newspapers. Palau is one of just 17 countries that has refused to give up diplomatic relations with Taiwan and switch allegiance to China.

The trade war is already hurting US companies in China

In a survey by two American chambers of commerce in China, nearly two-thirds of US firms who responded said the waves of new tariffs have harmed their business.The damage from the trade war to US businesses in China includes lost profits, higher manufacturing costs and lower demand for their products, according to the survey of more than 430 companies in industries ranging from technology to health care.

Has China's most famous actress been disappeared by the Communist Party?

Imagine if one day Jennifer Lawrence was walking the red carpet in Los Angeles and the next she vanished completely with no word about where she was. It might sound ludicrous, or terrifying, but it's the reality in China, where one of the country's most famous actresses has disappeared without a trace amid an uproar over tax evasion by celebrities.

Fan Bingbing, one of China's highest-paid and most bankable stars, has appeared in both Chinese and Western films, including the multimillion-dollar X-Men franchise. Across the country, her face once adorned thousands of advertisements, her star power used to sell a galaxy of luxury brands, from Cartier to Louis Vuitton. She was a regular sight at major award shows and fashion ceremonies. In 2015, Time Magazine named her China's "most famous actress."

Is the Trade War Hurting Xi Jinping Politically?

The Trump administration looks poised to slap a new round of tariffs of 25 percent on up to an additional $200 billion of Chinese goods, intensifying a trade standoff in which neither the U.S. nor China shows signs of backing down. “The Chinese government in its totality must not underestimate President Trump’s toughness and willingness to continue this battle,” the Director of the White House’s National Economic Council Larry Kudlow said in August, adding in a September 6 interview that, while the two sides are still talking, Trump is “dead serious” about forcing China to change its trade policies.

In the U.S., some Republican strategists worry that trade tensions will hurt Trump’s popularity, especially in several Midwestern states that are big soybean producers. What are the domestic politics for Xi Jinping of a trade war? How much is the trade war actually hurting China’s economy? And what other effects is this having on China, and on Xi’s ability to govern?