tirsdag 23. mai 2017

Beijing Turns to Hollywood to Win Hearts and Minds

Having suffered setbacks in its attempts to improve its image around the world, China now appears to have found the key to success by investing in Hollywood. Here’s the payoff for Hollywood: In return for working with Chinese investors to produce films acceptable to Beijing, American film studios are sharing in China’s movie theater profits.

With U.S. ticket sales relatively flat, analysts had been predicting for some time that China was likely to become the world’s largest box-office market within a few years. 
Given a slowdown in 2016 in China’s ticket sales, though, those predictions are looking overly optimistic at the moment. Meanwhile, given China’s censorship regulations, Hollywood executives have been paying a price for cooperating with China on film productions. In numerous cases, industry leaders have curtailed their creative freedom in deference to China.

The Day After the Second Korean War

The Kim regime likely realizes it cannot win a conventional war with U.S. or South Korean forces. However, it remains determined not to go gently into that good night. Publicly available intelligence indicates that the regime watched with interest as allied forces rolled over Iraqi conventional military forces only to become bogged down in a military quagmire afterwards. Having observed the U.S. quandaries in the Middle East, North Korean forces are already training in insurgent tactics such as roadside bombs. Austin Long, a leading scholar on counterinsurgency and international affairs, recently suggested North Korea is ripe for a vibrant insurgency following any collapse of the Kim regime. In short, the greatest impediment to a peaceful and unified Korea may not be the North Korean military seen goose-stepping on television, but rather a vibrant postwar insurgency. Read more

Park Geun-hye: S Korea trial of impeached president begins

South Korea's former President Park Geun-hye has pleaded not guilty at her trial for corruption, the latest stage in her dramatic fall from grace. The ousted president faces charges including bribery, abusing state power and leaking state secrets. In her first appearance in public since her arrest in March, she arrived at court handcuffed in a prison van. The maximum sentence for corruption in South Korea is life. Read more

Work, not sex? The real reason Chinese women bound their feet

It was an excruciatingly painful practice that maimed the feet of millions of Chinese girls and women for centuries: foot-binding. Tiny "golden lotus" feet -- achieved through breaking girls' toes and arches and binding them to the sole of the foot with cloth -- were thought to be a passport to a better marriage and a better way of life. "In the conventional view, it existed to please men. They were thought to be attracted to small feet," said Laurel Bossen, co-author of the new book "Bound feet, Young hands." But Bossen's research suggests that the custom has been massively misunderstood. Read more

Chinese student abused for praising 'fresh air of free speech' in US

A Chinese student has faced abuse from nationalists in China after she used her graduation address at a US university to celebrate “the fresh air of free speech”. Yang Shuping, a psychology and theatre graduate from Yunnan province, came to study at the University of Maryland five years ago, as a dramatic clampdown on civil society and academia began back home under Xi Jinping. During the speech at her graduation ceremony on Sunday, Yang recalled her delight at the US’s cleaner skies, saying “every breath was a delight”, and having the freedom to speak out. “I have learned [that] the right to freely express oneself is sacred in America … I could even rate my professors online,” she said. “My voice matters. Your voice matters. Our voices matter.” Read more

mandag 22. mai 2017

Wang Quanzhang: The lawyer who simply vanished

In August 2015 Wang Quanzhang was detained by the Chinese authorities. In that he was not alone. The nationwide series of raids that summer saw more than 200 lawyers, legal assistants and human rights activists brought in for questioning. But almost two years on, Mr Wang is the only lawyer from whom nothing has been heard at all. "I don't know whether he's alive or dead," his wife Li Wenzu told me. "I have had no information at all. He has simply disappeared from the face of the earth. It is so scary, so brutal." Read more

Sinocism China Newsletter 05.22.17

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Philippine minister starts damage control after Duterte's China war remark

Talks last week between leaders of China and the Philippines were frank and friendly, with no threats or bullying, Manila's foreign minister said on Monday, after his president said he was warned of war if he drills for oil in the South China Sea. 
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano would not disclose more details of the Beijing meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and China counterpart Xi Jinping, but said they had the kind of relationship in which they could openly discuss preventing maritime conflict. The notoriously outspoken Duterte said during a televised speech on Friday that Xi warned him there would be war if he tried to explore for oil in a stretch of the sea that both countries claim. China has yet to respond to Duterte revealing contents of the meeting. Read more

India's 'new Silk Road' snub highlights gulf with China

China invited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and six cabinet colleagues to its "new Silk Road" summit this month, even offering to rename a flagship Pakistani project running through disputed territory to persuade them to attend, a top official in Modi's ruling group and diplomats said. But New Delhi rebuffed Beijing's diplomatic push, incensed that a key project in its massive initiative to open land and sea corridors linking China with the rest of Asia and beyond runs through Pakistani controlled Kashmir. The failure of China's efforts to bring India on board, details of which have not been previously reported, shows the depths to which relations between the two countries have fallen over territorial disputes and Beijing's support of Pakistan. Read more

Xi Jinping’s imperialistic ambitions have beaten Modi’s soft-power diplomacy right to India’s doorstep

At his swearing-in three years ago, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi pulled a coup of sorts by featuring an array of heads of states from South Asian countries, including arch-enemy Pakistan, at an event that rarely has a high-profile foreign contingent. Months later, the Indian prime minister’s bromance with former US president Barack Obama—who even wrote a note in praise of Modi in Time magazine—was the subject of much adulation.

In the first two years of his term, Modi travelled to as many as 36 countries—and all India’s neighbours—in an attempt to establish the world’s fastest-growing major economy as a regional soft power. But in the past year the Modi diplomatic whirlwind has waned. Meanwhile, China—India’s nuclear-armed neighbour—under president Xi Jinping, appears to be making all the right moves in its foreign policy, particularly in Asia, to New Delhi’s increasing consternation.

TPP countries agree to keep trade deal alive despite US rejection

Japan and other members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreed on Sunday (May 21) to pursue their trade deal without the United States, as the Trump administration’s “America First” policy created tension at a meeting of Asia-Pacific countries. Turmoil over global trade negotiations was laid bare at a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum, which failed to agree on its usual joint statement after US opposition to the wording on free trade and fighting protectionism. The meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam, was the biggest global trade gathering since US President Donald Trump upended the old order, arguing that multilateral free-trade agreements were costing American jobs and that he wanted to cut new deals. Read more

Exclusive: North Korea's Unit 180, the cyber warfare cell that worries the West

North Korea's main spy agency has a special cell called Unit 180 that is likely to have launched some of its most daring and successful cyber attacks, according to defectors, officials and internet security experts. North Korea has been blamed in recent years for a series of online attacks, mostly on financial networks, in the United States, South Korea and over a dozen other countries. Cyber security researchers have also said they have found technical evidence that could link North Korea with the global WannaCry "ransomware" cyber attack that infected more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries this month. Pyongyang has called the allegation "ridiculous". Read more

China-Hong Kong bridge to unity, or tentacle of Beijing control

Pearl River estuary, China As a 30-km (19-mile) bridge between Hong Kong and China across the Pearl River estuary nears completion, Chinese officials are hoping it will bring more than economic integration at a time of growing tension between the two sides.The bridge that snakes out over the blue estuary with soaring pylons, viaducts and towers using more steel than 60 Eiffel Towers, was first proposed in the late 1980s.But it was opposed at the time by Hong Kong's British colonial government, which was wary of development that might draw the city closer to Communist China. Read more

søndag 21. mai 2017

Philippines Says China Warned of War in South China Sea

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said China threatened him with war if he insisted on enforcing last year’s arbiter’s ruling on the South China Sea, a serious claim that comes as Southeast Asian nations and Beijing agreed on a framework code of conduct to prevent clashes in the sea region.

Speaking in the southern city of Davao before members of the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary, Duterte said he had told Beijing leader Xi Jinping that he wanted to drill in the disputed area, which is believed to sit atop vast mineral deposits. 
“We intend to drill oil there, if it’s yours, well, that’s your view, but my view is I can drill the oil, if there is some inside the bowels of the earth because it is ours,” Duterte said in a nationally televised speech. He said the Chinese leader told him, “We’re friends, we don’t want to quarrel with you. We want to maintain the presence of warm relationship, but if you force the issue, we’ll go to war.” Read more

Tibetan Monk Sets Himself Ablaze in Qinghai in 150th Self-Immolation

A young Tibetan monk set himself on fire and died on Friday in northwestern China’s Qinghai province in an apparent challenge to Chinese rule in Tibetan areas, a Tibetan living in the area said. The protest brought to 150 the number of self-immolations by Tibetans living in China since the wave of fiery protests began in 2009. Jamyang Losal, aged about 22, set himself ablaze at around 5:00 a.m. on May 19 near the People’s Hospital in Kangtsa (in Chinese, Gangcha) county in Qinghai’s Tsojang (Haibei) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service. “He did not survive his protest,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Read more

Professor Stein Ringen: Kinas partisjef har tatt landet i totalitær retning

Hva slags Kina er det Norge har normalisert forbindelsene med? spør professor Stein Ringen i en kronikk i Aftenposten. Ringen mener partisjef Xi Jinping har staket ut en kurs som kan gjøre styret totalitært, i verste fall fascistisk. 

Les mer  Stein Ringens bok "Det perfekte diktatur"

Killing C.I.A. Informants, China Crippled U.S. Spying Operations

The Chinese government systematically dismantled 
C.I.A. spying operations in the country starting in 2010, killing or imprisoning more than a dozen sources over two years and crippling intelligence gathering there for years afterward.

Current and former American officials described the intelligence breach as one of the worst in decades. It set off a scramble in Washington’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies to contain the fallout, but investigators were bitterly divided over the cause. Some were convinced that a mole within the C.I.A. had betrayed the United States. Others believed that the Chinese had hacked the covert system the C.I.A. used to communicate with its foreign sources. Years later, that debate remains unresolved.

Jessica T. Mathews: Can China Replace the West?

China may appear an economic and military powerhouse but it is confronting critical challenges at home. Environmental pollution—especially of the air—is not only hugely unpopular and economically costly; it is a killer, responsible for the deaths of a staggering million to a million and a half Chinese annually. 

China also faces a looming demographic crisis with its aging population, shrinking workforce, and huge number of people who will retire with only a single child and a drastically inadequate social safety net to support them. The cost of pensions and health care will balloon. Anticipating the coming cliff, Beijing changed its one-child policy to a two-child policy in late 2015, producing a small increase in births but not yet what is hoped for. Stalled economic reform also belongs on this list of weaknesses, as does widening inequality and continuing deep poverty in rural areas. 

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