fredag 22. mars 2019

Is This the Last Dalai Lama?

This month marks the 60th anniversary of the Dalai Lama’s flight from Tibet. His departure exposed the rift between the Tibetan faithful and the Chinese Communist Party (C.C.P.), one which has not closed in the six decades since—and which threatens to become even deeper once the current Dalai Lama, 83-year-old Tenzin Gyatso, passes on.

For the Tibetan community inside and outside of China, the prospect raises painful but unavoidable questions: How will Tibetans within the People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.) be allowed to mourn a religious leader that Beijing has previously demonized as a “wolf in monk’s robes”? Will Tibetans remain largely non-violent (at least toward bodies other than their own) in expressing their resistance to P.R.C. policy on religion? And, of no small consequence given the central importance of the institution of the Dalai Lama to Tibetan Buddhists, how and when will the successor to the Dalai Lama be chosen? How will this process inflame or forestall tensions on the Tibetan plateau, and, more broadly, between China, India, and the United States?

China’s extradition requests must be based in law, not on persuasion

In March 2006, Huseyin Celil, a Canadian citizen who was visiting Uzbekistan, was arrested by Uzbek police. The Canadian government requested Celil’s release and return to Canada, but the Uzbek government deported him to China. In November 2006, he was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment for terrorism. The case did not attract a great deal of attention outside Canada, perhaps because Celil was born in China, and China claimed, unconvincingly, that he was a Chinese citizen. It served as an example of what may be a growing trend: the extradition of non-Chinese citizens to China.

China’s US$7 billion railway link to Laos is almost half done, on schedule to begin service in 2021

China’s railway line to Laos is almost half complete, putting it on schedule to begin service in December 2021, said the chief of Lao Railways. Trains on the line can travel at up to 160 km 100mph, said Lao Railways’ director general Somsana Ratsaphong. Tickets will start from US$20 a trip. The US$7 billion project is a showcase of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road Initiative” for rebuilding infrastructure along the ancient Silk Road from China to Africa and Europe, which has garnered an estimated US$460 billion in investments since its inception in 2013. 

torsdag 21. mars 2019

Taiwan’s Leader Heads to the South Pacific in a Bid to Fend Off China

Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, will travel to the South Pacific on Thursday to shore up ties with three island nations that still recognize Taiwan as a country, in an effort to offset China’s expanding influence in the region. Only 17 countries recognize Taiwan’s government, and among those, Ms. Tsai will be visiting Palau, Nauru and the Marshall Islands. China has been pouring aid and investment into the Pacific islands, raising the question of whether Beijing could strip Taiwan of more of its few remaining diplomatic allies and shrink the self-ruled island’s international presence.

Even China’s ‘Model’ Uyghurs Aren’t Safe

When she received news last November that her mother has been sent to a detention camp, Uyghur refugee Zulhumar Isaac was at a loss for words. Shortly after, her father disappeared too. First came disbelief, then anger – that even a family like hers, which had taken pains to assimilate into the Han Chinese culture, was not spared by the authorities’ Xinjiang campaign.

“All our lives we have lived as ‘model Chinese citizens.’ We studied Mandarin, my mother was a civil servant for decades, and I’d fallen in love with and got married to a Han Chinese man,” lamented Isaac, who is now living in exile in Sweden. “And yet it has happened to us. Why?”

In Search of ‘Real’ Data on China’s Economy

Information about economic activity is a key ingredient for policymaking and business decisions. However, official statistics in China have long been criticized for lack of transparency, data collection problems at the grassroots level, and frequent data manipulation. The inadequacy and insufficiency of official statistics have created a desperate need for alternative data.

In an attempt to meet the market demand for data, investment banks, academic researchers, and media have raced to deliver their own estimates on various aspects of the Chinese economy (the banking and financial system, real estate markets, consumer markets, etc.). However the recent advent of new technologies can be a game-changer for the industry. It has created new opportunities for data collection in China and produced a plethora of indicators that are capable of satisfying the growing demand for quantitative measures of economic activity.

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Concerns Grow Over Chinese Influence at UN Human Rights Council

Rights activists are increasingly worried that Beijing's influence operations are having a negative impact on the work of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which concludes its 40th session on Friday. Human Rights Watch (HRW) China director Sophie Richardson warned in an article this week that China is seeking to undermine the mission of the U.N. Human Rights Council from within.

She also cited HRW research in 2017 which reported threats and harassment of U.N. staff involved in human rights evaluation by Chinese officials. "As we head towards the final phase of [China's U.N. human rights review], ask yourself: What other government threatens #humanrights treaty body experts?" Richardson tweeted on Thursday.

Democrats in US Congress Call For Probe Into Chinese Influence Around Trump

Senior Democrats in Congress have called on the FBI to investigate the activities of a businesswoman amid reports that she could pose a national security threat. A chain of massage parlors owned by Cindy Yang are "suspected of involvement in prostitution and human trafficking in which immigrant women are forced to serve as sex workers," according to a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and other heads of intelligence services dated March 15.

"Ms. Yang also reportedly created a business named GY US Investments that may be selling access to the President and members of his family to clients from China," said the letter, which was signed by Mark R. Warner, Adam B. Schiff, Dianne Feinstein and Jerry Nadler of both House and Senate judicial and intelligence committees.

onsdag 20. mars 2019

Longtime President of Kazakhstan Surprises Region by Resigning

After 30 years in power, the aging president of Kazakhstan jolted the oil-rich former Soviet republic and the region at large on Tuesday with the surprise announcement that he was resigning. Nursultan Nazarbayev, 78, the last surviving president in Central Asia to have steered his country to independence after the Soviet Union collapsed, stepped away from running daily affairs, but maintained considerable authority over the sprawling country sandwiched between Russia and China.

While Kazakhs welcomed the announcement as the potential start of a new era, analysts surmised that the Kremlin would see it in a negative light by drawing attention to the nearly 20-year-old leadership of President Vladimir V. Putin and his lack of a clear succession plan.

For both Xi Jinping and Donald Trump, the trade war is a test of political will and ideology

US President Donald Trump has regularly trumpeted his good personal relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping With warm and flattering words normally reserved for use by leaders of traditional political allies.

Yet the steady escalation of bilateral trade disputes in the past two years under their stewardship suggests not a meeting of minds, but a divergence. The US and China, the world’s two largest economies, are bound to two mutually exclusive economic models – a free market economy, and party-led state capitalism. Indeed, there is increasing rivalry in every aspect of the US-China relationship, from economics and technology to geopolitics and strategy.

Italy may be ready to open up four ports to Chinese investment under ‘Belt and Road Initiative’

Four ports in Italy may be in line for Chinese investment under China’s “Belt and Road Initiative”, despite security concerns within Italy and the European Union,according to diplomatic sources. A deal on the ports is expected to be on the agenda when Chinese President Xi Jinping heads to Rome this week for talks with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

The northwestern city of Genoa, Italy’s biggest seaport, said it would sign cooperation agreements with China, while in the south the Sicilian port of Palermo – which Xi is expected to visit this weekend – is the focus of Rome’s efforts to attract Chinese shipping operators. Two ports in the northern Adriatic Sea, Trieste and Ravenna, might also be part of Italy’s memorandum of understanding with Xi as part of a plan to compete with major European ports, the sources said.

China says it has arrested 13,000 'terrorists' in Xinjiang

China has claimed to have arrested 13,000 “terrorists” in Xinjiang over the last five years, as it launched an aggressive propaganda campaign in defence of its restrictive measures in the far-western region. Human rights advocates and researchers believe more than 1 million Muslims – mostly Uighurs as well as Kazakhs and other groups – are being systematically imprisoned in internment camps where they are forced to undergo political re-education.

On Monday China’s state council released a white paper on “the fight against terrorism and extremism” and “human rights protection in Xinjiang”, in which Beijing attempted to quantify the campaign. “Since 2014, Xinjiang has destroyed 1,588 violent and terrorist gangs, arrested 12,995 terrorists, seized 2,052 explosive devices, punished 30,645 people for 4,858 illegal religious activities, and confiscated 345,229 copies of illegal religious material,” the report said.

Cyberattacks are having a chilling effect on the Central Tibetan Administration and Tibetan diaspora

Cisco Talos, a group of world-class researchers, analysts, and engineers, recently uncovered a new cyberespionage campaign delivering a malicious Microsoft PowerPoint document using a mailing list run by the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA). The document is a copy of a legitimate PDF file titled “Tibet was never a part of China,” which is available for download from the CTA’s website The malicious version, however, contains a Remote Access Trojan (RAT). The email is targeted at pro-Tibet groups and individuals in order to distribute what has been dubbed ExileRAT. The attack delivers an Android- and Windows-based Trojan capable of stealing system and personal information, terminating or launching process, or carrying out surveillance and the theft of data.

As the volume and sophistication of cyberattacks grow worldwide, it is essential for the CTA and Tibetan nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to take necessary precautions to protect their sensitive data and personal information of employees.

Competition, Confrontation, or Collision Course? Reassessing US-China Relations

Are the United States and China on an irreversible path toward confrontation? Which country bears greater culpability for the ongoing decline in bilateral ties? How should the United States respond? Three experts who’ve investigated the U.S.-China relationship extensively probe these questions and the nature of China under President Xi Jinping.

Orville Schell, the Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations, is a decades-long observer of China, author, journalist, and former dean and professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Bolton: China Is One Reason US ‘Looking at Strengthening National Missile Defense’

The U.S. advisor to the president on national security affairs, John Bolton, has been a mainstay on American Sunday shows since the February 28 summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Bolton’s been making the most of these appearances to underscore the administration’s continued maximalist unilateral disarmament demands of North Korea — the very reason the summit fell apart.
But it doesn’t stop there for Bolton. This past Sunday, on a New York radio show, he confirmed China’s worst fears about U.S. intentions regarding the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system — the U.S. national missile defense system, designed to protect the country from intercontinental-range ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

Torbjørn Færøvik: EU taler Kina midt imot

Nok er nok, fastslo EU-kommisjonen i forrige uke. Kina må endre sin atferd og følge internasjonale lover og spilleregler. I et fyldig dokument ble landet karakterisert som «en økonomisk konkurrent» og «en rival som fremmer alternative styringsmodeller».

Det har tatt tid for EU å våkne til virkeligheten. Men nå skjer det. Kina har i de senere år forsøkt å «spise» seg inn i Europa ved å fri til noen av EUs autoritære land, som Polen, Tsjekkia og Ungarn. Nå er også Italia på glid. Den populistiske regjeringen i Roma har takket ja til Kinas ambisiøse Silkevei-prosjekt, til stor forargelse for EU-kommisjonen. I en tid hvor EU sliter med samholdet, frykter kommisjonen at Kina skal gjøre vondt verre og i verste fall lamme fellesskapet. 

tirsdag 19. mars 2019

Italy takes a chance on Belt and Road

Attending the first Belt and Road Forum in Beijing in 2017, the previous Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni stopped short of signing up to join the global mega-project, as no other European Union country had shown interest. However, a lot has changed since Italy’s populist right-wing government took over last June, and Rome has formally announced that it will participate in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) after three high-level visits to Beijing

As a country that connects Europe and Africa, Italy is on its way to becoming a prime BRI destination, which will decisively put the contemporary version of the old Silk Road on the ground. In 2018, the EU announced an exclusive mega-project of its own, the “EU Corridor,” as a suitable alternative. Setting aside this option, Rome is determined to participate in the Chinese mega-project instead. Engaged in preliminary negotiations, Rome is about to clinch a deal with Beijing and sign some memoranda of understanding during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Italy at the end of March.

EU dilemma: how to deal with China

Facing China’s irresistible rise all across the chessboard, and under relentless US pressure, the not exactly democratic EU leadership is on a backbreaking exercise to position itself between a geopolitical/geoeconomic rock and a hard place. The 28-member EU holds a crucial meeting next week in Brussels where it may adopt a 10-point action plan detailing, in a thesis, the terms of an equitable economic relationship with China going forward.

This will happen as Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Italy and then France – ahead of the very important, annual China-EU summit in Brussels on April 9, to be co-chaired by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.