National China News

Beijing’s U.N. block sent a signal—and a warning—to Pakistan.

Foreign Policy
Date:  March 21, 2019
By: Michael Kugelman

Indian Muslims hold a scratched photo of Masood Azhar as they shout slogans against Pakistan during a protest in Mumbai on Feb. 15. (Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images)

On March 13, China placed a “technical hold” on a resolution calling on the United Nations Security Council to designate Masood Azhar, the leader of the Pakistani militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), as a terrorist. Beijing’s intervention effectively torpedoed the measure. This marked the fourth time that China has prevented Azhar, who enjoys long-standing ties to the Pakistani security establishment, from being officially designated a terrorist by the United Nations.

There had been good reason to believe that this time might be different, and that Beijing would step back and let the resolution get approved. The fact that the fourth time wasn’t the charm speaks volumes about how deep the partnership between China and Pakistan still runs, and how far Beijing is willing to go to defend its “iron brother.”

So important is the China-Pakistan partnership that Beijing was willing to stick its neck out in support of a key terrorist asset of the Pakistani state who garners little sympathy outside Pakistan. At home, Beijing has sent hundreds of thousands of innocent Chinese Muslims to detention centers under the guise of counterterrorism, but it has bent over backwards to protect an actual Islamist terrorist abroad.

The move came even though global pressure has intensified on Pakistan to crack down harder on India-focused terrorists on its soil. The trigger was a February 14 attack on Indian security forces, claimed by JeM, in the Indian-administered part of Kashmir. The assault, which killed more than 40 paramilitary troops, was the deadliest attack on Indian security forces, and in Kashmir on the whole, in years. Nearly 50 countries, including all five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (even China), issued statements condemning the tragedy, and many called on Pakistan to crack down on JeM. Soon after the attack, the United States, with support from fellow Security Council members France and the United Kingdom, proposed the resolution. The Trump administration, according to Indian press accounts, tried to convince Beijing to support it.

And yet China defied all the pressure and refused.    [FULL  STORY]

CNN
Date: Fri March 22, 2019
By: James Griffiths, CNN

(CNN)Seng Moon was an impoverished refugee in an internal displaced person (IDP) camp in northeastern Myanmar when her sister-in-law convinced her to cross the border into China to find a job.

She passed out on the car journey after being given a travel sickness pill. When Seng Moon awoke her hands were tied behind her back. Her sister-in-law was gone and she was alone with a Chinese family.

After several months, Seng Moon’s sister-in-law returned and told her she was to be married to a Chinese man.

This went on for two months, until Seng Moon was dragged from the room and finally introduced to the man who had been abusing her for weeks.

She says the man’s father told her this was her husband, and advised them to build a family.
[FULL  STORY]

Star Tribune
Date:  March 21, 2019
By: Elaine Kurtenbach, Associated Press

BANGKOK — Authorities in China and Myanmar are failing to stop the brutal trafficking of young women, often teenagers, from the conflict-ridden Kachin region for sexual slavery, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.

The report released Thursday says women are often tricked into traveling to China in search of work or kidnapped and held against their will to be sold as “brides” for Chinese men. Most of those taken hostage by Chinese families are locked up and raped, it says. Those who do escape are often obliged to leave children fathered by Chinese men behind.

The 226 known cases of such trafficking in 2017 were only a fraction of the total number, since many victims are afraid or ashamed to come forward, especially given the lack of support from law enforcement or welfare services, the report says.

“Human Rights Watch’s research suggests the number of women and girls being trafficked is substantial and possibly growing,” it said.    [FULL  STORY]

China’s global kidnapping campaign has gone on for years. It may now be reaching inside U.S. borders.

Foreign Policy
Date: Marxch 29, 2018
By: Zaxch Dorfman

ILLUSTRATIONS BY ANTHONY FREDA FOR FOREIGN POLICY

Before he disappeared from his luxury apartment at the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong on Jan. 27, 2017, Xiao Jianhua, a Chinese-Canadian billionaire, favored female bodyguards. Why, exactly, was unclear: Perhaps he simply liked being surrounded by women; perhaps he trusted them more than men.

Whatever the reason, those guards weren’t much help when a group of mysterious men showed up at his apartment that January day and took him away. According to anonymous sources who viewed the hotel’s internal video feed and later spoke to the New York Times, Xiao, who may have been sedated, was rolled through the Four Seasons lobby in a wheelchair, a sheet covering his head. He was then reportedly loaded onto a boat and ferried to the Chinese mainland.

In what has become a familiar script for such disappearances, an initial police report filed by a family member was quickly withdrawn, and Xiao later issued a statement denying that he had been kidnapped. More than one year later, he remains in mainland China, and though he has not yet been charged with any crime, his businesses, under government direction, are expected to sell almost $24 billion in investments, which will reportedly be used to repay state banks.

Such stories are not unique. In October 2015, Chinese government operatives kidnapped Gui Minhai, a Hong Kong-based book publisher and bookstore owner, from his apartment in Thailand. Months later, Gui, a Swedish citizen, resurfaced in China, declaring on state television that he had turned himself in to face decade-old drunk driving charges. Gui’s colleague, Lee Bo, a dual Chinese-British national, also appears to have been kidnapped in Hong Kong in December 2015 by Chinese security forces and brought back to the Chinese mainland.

Over the years, the cases have started to pile up. In 2002, Wang Bingzhang, a prominent pro-democracy activist, was seized in Vietnam by Chinese operatives and thrown into prison on the mainland, where he remains to this day. Two years later, another well-known dissident, Peng Ming, was kidnapped in Myanmar and jailed in China; in late 2016, he died under suspicious circumstances in prison.    [FULL  STORY]

The dam breach caused more than 85,000 people to die instantly.

OZY 
Date: Feb 17 2019
By: Justin Higginbottom

Workers stood along the top of Banqiao Dam, some 150 feet above the valley’s floor, desperately trying to repair its crest as rain from Typhoon Nina fell for a third straight day. After battering Taiwan, the storm had moved inland where it was expected to dissipate, but Nina turned north instead, reaching the Huai River basin on Aug. 5, 1975, where a cold front blocked its progression. Parked in place, the typhoon generated more than a year’s worth of rain in 24 hours.

By the time night fell on Aug. 8, as many as 65 area dams had collapsed. But despite the fact that water levels at the Banqiao Dam had far exceeded a safe capacity, and a number of sluice gates for controlling water flow were clogged with silt, authorities felt confident they’d skirt disaster. After all, the Soviet-designed dam had been built to survive a typhoon — a once-every-1,000-year occurrence that could dump 11 inches of rain per day. Unfortunately, Typhoon Nina would prove to be a once-every-2,000-year storm, bearing down with enough force to cause the world’s deadliest infrastructure failure ever.

Chen Xing, one of China’s foremost hydrologists, had followed the construction of Banqiao in 1952 with concern. Chairman Mao Zedong, eager to modernize the country, ordered hundreds of dams built, which put people to work, provided electricity and tamed rivers as part of his brutal Great Leap Forward. After swimming across the Yangtze River in 1958, Zedong penned a poem about his obsession with dams: “Great plans are being made/ Walls of stone will stand upstream to the west …The mountain goddess if she is still there/ Will marvel at a world so changed.” Decades later, ignoring warnings from scientists and environmentalists, the Chinese government initiated construction of the Three Gorges Dam — the world’s largest power station — on the Yangtze.
[FULL  STORY]

The New York Times
Date: Jan. 23, 2019
By: Paul Mozur and Karen Weise

Image
Harry Shum, Microsoft’s executive vice president for artificial intelligence and research, speaking in San Francisco in 2017. Microsoft has long conducted research in China, including in artificial intelligence.CreditCreditJeff Chiu/Associated Press

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SHANGHAI — Under China’s president, Xi Jinping, the last vestiges of the global internet have slowly disappeared from an online world that had already shut out Twitter, Google and Facebook.

Now one of the last survivors, Microsoft’s Bing search engine, appears to have joined them — even though the American company already censors its results in China.

The Chinese government appeared to block the search engine on Wednesday, in what would be a startling renunciation of more than a decade of efforts by Microsoft to engage with Beijing to make its products available. If the block proves to be permanent, it would suggest that Western companies can do little to persuade China to give them access to what has become the world’s largest Internet market by users, especially at a time of increased trade and economic tensions with the United States.

The Redmond, Wash., company has cooperated with local companies to provide its Windows and cloud services to win acceptance by the Chinese government. Its long-established research and development center has turned out valuable products and launched the careers of a generation of artificial-intelligence experts who have started important new companies in China.
[FULL  STORY]

BBC News
Date: 29 January 2019
By Jessica Murphy, BBC News, Toronto

Image copyrightSIMEON GARRATTImage captionJulia and Kevin Garratt (centre) with their children Peter and Hannah. Their second son Simeon is not pictured

Canadian couple Kevin and Julia Garratt were detained in China in 2014 and accused of spying. Amid an escalating feud between Canada and China and allegations of retaliatory detentions, the pair tells the BBC about what it was like – and how they ever made it home.

Kevin Garratt remembers well the night he and Julia were arrested in north-eastern China.

He recalls being pulled away from his wife as they walked through a restaurant’s downstairs lobby, and pushed into the back of a black sedan filled with burly officers.

He thought the whole thing was some terrible mistake.

Julia, forced into a separate sedan, found herself shaking in fear and shock at the sudden turn of events, and the drive in the darkness.

She thought: “This is going to be my last night.

“I don’t think I’ve ever felt that level of fear and panic before. And also just sad for my family and my children, because there was no warning, there would be no chance to say goodbye.”

The Garratts had lived in China since 1984, and from 2008 operated a coffee house popular with Western expats and tourists in Dandong, a city on the North Korean border, while continuing to carry out Christian aid work.    [FULL  STORY]

CNN
Date: February 1, 2019
By: Cheri Mossberg and Caitlin Hu, CNN

(CNN)Three people were arrested on charges of running “birth tourism” companies that catered to Chinese clients in Southern California Thursday. It is the first time that criminal charges have been filed in a US federal court over the practice, according to Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office.

“Birth tourists” travel to foreign countries to give birth, so that their children acquire the citizenship of that country. In the US, the legal principle of jus soli automatically confers citizenship upon babies born on US soil. Other countries, including Switzerland and Japan, do not grant citizenship automatically unless one or more parents are also citizens.

The three people in custody had not given comment at time of publishing. All were charged “conspiracy to commit immigration fraud, international money laundering and identity theft,” according to the DOJ statement.    [FULL  STORY]

The Sydney Morning Herald
Date: 29 January 2019
By: Peter Hartcher

After a quarter-century of researching China, Anne-Marie Brady is a veteran of Chinese

China expert Anne-Marie Brady has been subject to ongoing harassment.
CREDIT:JOSEPH JOHNSON/STUFF

 

 

government spying and harassment.  “I was prepared for pressure in China,” says the 52-year-old New Zealander, a well-regarded professor of political science at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch. “But I always felt safe in New Zealand. So that changed.” Last week she wrote to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern seeking police protection. It was her first direct appeal to Ardern, but her third in a series of pleas to escalating levels of officialdom.

First came the pressure on her university. Chinese officials demanded that her immediate superior stop her research. It might have worked – the NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the mayor of Christchurch backed them up in an effort to appease Beijing.  They failed when the university vice-chancellor intervened on behalf of academic freedom. But it was just the beginning.

Next, her office was broken into in December 2017. As far as she could tell, nothing was taken. “I think it was meant to scare me, to show me people could come into my office.” If so, it worked: “I felt this great dread,” after the intrusion. “I reported it to security and there was no follow-up.”

If she had any doubt that she’d been targeted, she got a detailed warning letter from a concerned friend in the Chinese community to let her know that an official campaign of intimidation against her – and others – was under way.

Brady’s home was next. While she was on the phone to the NZ Secret Intelligence Service negotiating to give them the letter, her husband called to say that someone had broken in. “Cash, pearls, jewellery, other electronics were ignored,” Brady tells me. The only things missing were laptops, phones and an encrypted memory stick from her last trip to China. Other memory sticks were left behind. “It was very telling.”  She immediately reported the break-in to the intelligence service and the police. Brady went to her office the next morning to discover that it had been broken into. Again. It was February 15 last year. Brady was scheduled to give testimony to Australia’s Parliament that afternoon.    [FULL  STORY]

CBC News
Date: Jan 29, 2019
By: Jonathon Gatehouse

China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning takes part in a military drill by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in the western Pacific Ocean in April last year. China’s neighbours are increasingly nervous of the sharp buildup of its navy and high-tech weaponry. (Reuters)

China’s nervous neighbours

Ottawa’s relations with China have hit a new low following the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and what appear to be retaliatory measures against three Canadians.

But Canada isn’t the only country feeling rattled by the suddenly cranky superpower.

Australia is trying to negotiate the release of one of its own citizens, the Chinese-born writer Yang Hengjun. The academic and political commentator was snatched off the streets of Guangzhou on Jan. 18, and is being held in a Beijing jail on national security suspicions.

And China’s sudden willingness to flex its military muscle in the South China Sea is unnerving countries all around the South Pacific.

At an international forum in Singapore yesterday, Christopher Pyne, the Australian defence minister, called on Beijing to rethink its approach to the region, saying its bellicose words and actions have been causing needless anxiety.

“As the exhortation goes, to those that much is given, much is expected; similarly for nation states, for those with great power comes great responsibility, and so I call on China to act with great responsibility in the South China Sea,” Pyne said.

Even against the backdrop of a recently announced $90 billion investment in new ships for the Australian Navy, Pyne took pains to say that no one is trying “to contain” China.

Neighbouring New Zealand is also experiencing tension with China.

Last week, a well-known China expert from the University of Canterbury released a letter she had written to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern asking for police protection following a campaign of harassment that she believes originated in Beijing.    [FULL  STORY]