National China News

South China Morning Post
Date: Nov 12, 2019
By: David Zweig


  • Chinese leaders’ expression of confidence in Lam means that it is unlikely that the PLA or Chinese police will soon be seen on Hong Kong streets
  • The attention paid to Hong Kong during the fourth plenum and news that central government officials will come to the city to explain the meeting’s communique should arouse concern

Illustration: Craig Stephens

What do Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s meetingswith China’s top leaders in Shanghai mean for Hong Kong? Viewing those meetings with some scepticism is warranted on several fronts.

First, while President Xi Jinping and Vice-Premier Han Zheng expressed full confidence in Lam and acknowledged the work she and her team had done to resolve the crisis in Hong Kong, no one here really shares that view.

And why should we? Since the spring, we have watched as Lam’s extradition bill exploded from a “single spark” into a “prairie fire”, even as rational Hongkongers begged her to reconsider. We watched her ignore public opinion polls released in early June that showed just how unpopular the bill was. We watched her stoke the fire on June 10 when she announced that she would reject the concerns of the million protesters who had marched the day before.Her effort to ram her unpopular bill through the Legislative Council triggered the first serious violence between protesters and the police. Then, after declaring that she would never give in to violence, she did precisely that on June 15 when she put the bill’s reading on hold, teaching the protesters that violence pays.

The new rules call for etiquette when it comes to singing the national anthem or raising the nation’s flag

The Guardian
Date: 29 Oct 2019
By: Lily Kuo in Beijing

The Chinese guidelines focuse on promoting patriotism, and call for ‘national etiquette’ for things such as singing the national anthem and raising the national flag. Photograph: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

China has released new “morality” guidelines for its citizens on everything from civic education and how parents should teach their children to rubbish sorting and the appropriate etiquette for raising the national flag.

The “Outline for the Implementation of the Moral Construction of Citizens in the New Era” calls on Chinese citizens to be honest and polite, to be “civilised” when dining, travelling, or watching a sports competition, and “defend China’s honour” while abroad.

The guidelines, focusing heavily on promoting patriotism, also called for the formulation of “national etiquette” for things such as singing the national anthem, raising the national flag, or ceremonies for when one joins the ruling Chinese communist party (CCP).

Such etiquette should “enhance people’s attitude toward the party and country and organise a collective sense of identity and belonging”, according to the document, released by the party’s central committee and the state council. It also called for citizens to “carry forward the spirit of Lei Feng”, a former soldier who has been heavily used in party propaganda campaigns since the 1960s.

Carl Minzner, China scholar and professor of law at Fordham Law School in New York, said: “The general goal of these guidelines is to define ‘good’ behaviour, and that includes everything from the ethical lessons you might want your children to internalise, from reading Peppa Pig stories to more political concepts of civic virtue – such as how citizens should think of their relationship with respect to their leaders.”    [FULL  STORY]

Having hepatitis C may very well have saved Jennifer Zeng’s life.

Fox News
October 29, 2019
By: Hollie McKay

In February 2000, she was arrested for being a Falun Gong practitioner and interrogated intensely about her medical history at a Labor Camp in China’s Da Xing County, she said. Zeng’s blood was drawn and she told them she had hepatitis C before she took up the spiritual practice.

“Twelve days later, my (cellmate) died as a result of forced feeding,” Zeng told Fox News. “Having hepatitis C might have unqualified me as an organ donor.”

It’s the stuff of nightmares. And it has been buried from public view, hard to prove, and shrouded beneath the cloak of silence for almost two decades.

But anecdotes and evidence are slowly bubbling to the surface that the organs of members of marginalized groups detained in Chinese prisons and labor camps are unwillingly harvested. Most affected is a spiritual minority, the Falun Gong, who have been persecuted for adhering to a Buddhist-centric religious philosophy grounded in meditation and compassion.    [FULL  STORY]

.With China mired in a trade war, economic slowdown and Hong Kong unrest, Xi Jinping will use an elite meeting to focus more on increasing his control over the Communist Party.

The New York Times
Date: Oct. 28, 2019
By: Chris Buckley

BEIJING — Slowing economic growth. A rancorous trade war. Recalcitrant protesters in Hong Kong. A mass die-off of pigs and surging food prices. The frustrations are piling up for China’s leader, Xi Jinping.

But a gathering of the Communist Party elite this week will grapple with lurking risks that worry him more: dysfunction, divisions and disloyalty in the party.

Communist Party rule could eventually crumble if the party fails to constantly reinforce its grip on China, Mr. Xi said in a recently published speech, citing ancient emperors whose dynasties rotted from corruption, lax discipline and infighting. The Central Committee, a party conclave of about 370 senior officials, began meeting in Beijing for four days on Monday to approve policies intended to ward off such dangers.

“From ancient times to the present, whenever great powers have collapsed or decayed, a common cause has been the loss of central authority,” Mr. Xi said in the speech, which was given early last year but not issued till this month in a leading party journal, Qiushi.

“As I see it, we can be defeated only by ourselves,” he said. “Prevent strife starting from inside the family home.”

Mr. Xi has warned this year that China must prepare for “struggle,” an ominous term for domestic and external challenges, and has described his goal as building an authoritarian fortress against any shocks. The meeting this week, also called the plenum, will push efforts to sharpen China’s political defenses, likely including greater use of advanced technology to monitor and manage officials and citizens.    [FULL  STORY]

​Hint: it involves these missiles. 

The National Interest
Date: September 11, 2019
By: Michael Peck

Key Point: Here’s another American solution to China’s claims over the South China Sea: offer long-range rockets to the Philippines.

The United States and the Philippines have been discussing whether the Filipino military should buy the High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), a multiple rocket launcher used by the United States and other nations, according to the South China Morning Post.

“If deployed, the long-range, precision-guided rockets fired by the system would be able to strike Chinese man-made islands on reefs in the Spratly chain,” the newspaper said. HIMARS is a lighter, more mobile six-barreled version of the U.S. Army’s M270 multiple rocket launch system (MLRS). It can shoot rockets out to 70 kilometers (43 miles) and GPS-guided ballistic missiles out to 300 kilometers (186 miles).

However, funding from the cash-strapped Philippines is a hurdle. “The two sides have been unable to reach a deal because HIMARS could be too expensive for Manila given its tight defense budget,” said the newspaper.

Exactly how much does HIMARS cost? Manufacturer Lockheed Martin refused to give cost estimates, instead referring queries to the U.S. Army’s Aviation and Missile Command, which didn’t respond to questions from TNI. The cost of HIMARS is split between the launcher itself and separate contracts for various munitions including guided and unguided rockets, the longer-range Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missiles, and weapons under development such as extended-range rockets and the Precision Strike Missile.

Some estimates put the cost of a HIMARS guided rocket at $100,000 to $200,000 apiece, or an ATACMS at more than $700,000 apiece. Another clue is that Poland recently signed a $414 million contract for eighteen launchers plus support and training. With the 2019 Philippines defense budget at only $3.4 billion, a big HIMARS purchase would be a strain.

Yet HIMARS is still a cheaper option than, say, a $1.4 million Tomahawk cruise missile. And the Philippines had already had a taste of HIMARS. The weapon was deployed there by U.S. Marines in 2016 during the joint U.S.-Philippines Balikatan exercises. Collin Koh Swee Lean, a Singaporean defense analyst, told the South China Morning Post that “there were two possible locations for the system: Palawan province in the Philippines and Thitu, or Zhongye in Chinese—the largest island held by Manila in the disputed Spratly chain. From Palawan, HIMARS could launch a missile at its maximum range to hit China’s man-made island at Mischief Reef, Koh said. But Thitu island would also be vulnerable to PLA air and missile strikes because it is only about 22 kilometers (14 miles) from China-occupied Subi Reef, and within striking range of missiles originating from the Paracel Islands and Hainan.”

The cheaper price tag of HIMARS compared to other weapons does make it attractive. “The idea of purchasing HIMARS systems may be one of the few viable options in response to China's artificial islands and continuing and increasingly provocative actions in the SCS [South China Sea],” says Jay Batongbacal, director of the Philippines-based Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea.    [FULL  STORY]

The Washington Post
Date: September 6, 2019
By Shibani Mahtani, Gerry Shih and Tiffany Liang

Students gather Sept. 2 at the Chinese University of Hong Kong for anti-government protests, which have continued in Hong Kong since June. (Laurel Chor/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

HONG KONG —  When Bella, a mainland Chinese student, returned home after a week-long program in Hong Kong, it didn’t occur to her to take any special precautions. She hadn’t ventured near the protests that have rocked the city.

Approaching the mainland border point last month, the 21-year-old was pulled aside along with several others. Officers combed her phone, discovering Facebook and its Messenger app, both banned in China. She said her entry permit — a card used by mainland Chinese to travel to and from Hong Kong — was briefly confiscated while officers questioned her and accused her of deleting messages to hide unspecified evidence. 

“I was shocked that they would do that without reason,” said Bella, who gave only her first name for fear of reprisal, explaining that she had downloaded Facebook to follow fan pages of her musical idol, David Bowie. “I kept trying to explain, but the officers wouldn’t believe me.”     [FULL  STORY]

The News Lens
Date: 2019/08/30
By: Dinah Gardner

Photo Credit: Reuters / 達志影像

On the International Day of the Disappeared, China is seen as the worst perpetrator of state-sanctioned enforced disappearances this year.

August 30 is the Day of the Disappeared. You’d be forgiven for thinking it was the name of a horror film. Indeed, what it commemorates is horrific.

The International Day of the Disappeared, on every August 30, was created to draw the world’s attention to the victims of state-sanctioned enforced disappearances. Every day countless numbers of people are snatched up into secret imprisonment, and their families are left to wonder where they are and whether they’ll ever see each other again.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) loves to argue it is the biggest and best at everything. Here’s another statistic it can boast of: it is now a world leader in enforced disappearances. Since 2012, when Xi Jinping (習近平) took the helm of the CCP, the party has launched several new mechanisms for vanishing people. The victim base has expanded from rights lawyers, journalists and dissidents to foreigners kidnapped for hostage diplomacy, celebrities, and businesspeople.

Photo Credit: AP / TPG Images

Taiwanese are at risk of being disappeared, too. Although official figures are hard to come by, some estimated between 1 and 3 million Taiwanese nationals residing in China. Considering China’s pattern of bullying the island nation, Taiwanese citizens are particularly vulnerable targets.

On the Day of the Disappeared this year, a large group of international human rights NGOs including Safeguard Defenders are speaking out against China, the worst perpetrator of state-conducted disappearances in the world. Here are the three main systems for enforced disappearances in China:

The CCP has placed over 1 million Uyghurs into "re-education camps" in Xinjiang.

CCP authorities terrorize human rights defenders and lawyers by swallowing them up into a system of secret detention called “Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location (RSDL)."

In 2018, the CCP launched its fearsome anti-corruption watchdog, the National Security Commission (NSC). The Commission, which operates outside the country’s judicial system, has the power to disappear both party members (that’s over 90 million people), anyone working for the Chinese state (many millions more, theoretically including nurses, kindergarten teachers, etc) and anyone from anywhere who is connected to an NSC investigation. The detention system called Liuzhi (留置) works like RSDL — it spirits detainees off to a secret location for intense interrogation in isolated cells for up to six months.

All victims who are trapped in China’s ever-growing ecosystem of enforced disappearances are extremely vulnerable to physical and mental torture. A few of them won’t make it out alive.    [FULL  STORY]

GROWING THREAT: The defense ministry said that the PLA has been expanding its arsenal to achieve its strategic goals and increase its force projection in the region

Taipei Times
Date: Aug 31, 2019
By: Aaron Tu and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Chinese armed forces could soon have full-fledged “tactical nuclear power” to counter any major nuclear-armed

A Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force Xian H-6 bomber flies outside Taiwan’s air defense identification zone on Dec. 18 last year.
Photo courtesy of the Ministry of National Defense
nation, according to the Ministry of National Defense’s People’s Liberation Army Report for this year.

Such capabilities could allow China to attain its strategic goals of ending calls for independence within and outside of its borders; combating hegemony; establishing control of its border with India; and stabilizing its frontiers, said the report, which was delivered to the Legislative Yuan yesterday.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) could by next year establish an arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons sizeable and powerful enough to deter a nuclear war and protect China’s borders, it said.

By 2050, China could complete the infrastructure necessary to launch nuclear-armed aircraft for strategic bombing, it added.    [FULL  STORY]

Date: August 1, 2019
By: Emily Feng

People cycle past a building at Peking University in Beijing in 2016. The university hosts Yenching Academy, a prestigious graduate studies program.
Thomas Peter/Reuters

A sudden knock at one's door. An unexpected call to meet off campus. Surreptitious visits to family members.

American graduates of the prestigious Yenching Academy, a one- to two-year master's degree program housed at Beijing's elite Peking University, are being approached and questioned by the FBI about the time they spent in China. In the last two years, at least five Yenching graduates have been approached by agents to gather intelligence on the program and to ascertain whether they have been co-opted by Chinese espionage efforts.

Brian Kim is one of them. Five months ago, Kim received a call from an unfamiliar number. "It was a person who claimed to be an FBI agent, and I immediately thought it was a scam call," Kim recalls.

Now beginning his second year at Yale Law School, Kim was able to verify the agent's identity with the local FBI office in New Haven, Conn., the next day. He arranged for two FBI agents to meet him at a coffee shop near Yale's campus, where, over the next hour, they grilled him on his personal and academic history.

"It became clear to me, maybe three-quarters of the way through, that they were actually most interested in China," Kim says.

One of the agents asked if anyone in China had tried to recruit Kim for espionage efforts. Who had encouraged Kim to apply for the Yenching program in the first place?

"I literally told them the Princeton fellowship office" had recommended he apply, says Kim, who has a bachelor's degree from Princeton University. "There was a moment of levity where we're just both treating this experience like, are we doing this right now?"

Fears of Chinese espionage

The mistrust of Yenching Academy, dubbed the "Rhodes Scholarship of China," illustrates just how far fears of Chinese espionage have permeated among the U.S. defense and intelligence establishment.

Once cast as a way for America's best and brightest to build relationships with and improve understanding of China, academic programs and collaborations are now falling under scrutiny. FBI agents have been lobbying U.S. university administrators to monitor Chinese researchers and students working in certain science and technology fields. Federal funding agencies including the National Institutes of Health are also investigating academics for not properly disclosing Chinese funding or research done with Chinese institutions.    [FULL  STORY]

Beijing uses student and professional associations to try to influence not just Chinese citizens abroad, but outsiders, too.

The Atlantic
Date:  Jul 12, 2019
By: Didi Kirsten Tatlow

In centuries past, Prussian, Napoleonic, Nazi, and Allied soldiers all tramped the Strasse des 17. Juni, an east–west boulevard traversing Berlin’s leafy Tiergarten park, over which soars a winged, golden statue of the Roman goddess Victoria.

More recently, in the auditorium of the Technische Universität Berlin, which lies along the thoroughfare, a thousand patriotic voices swelled in song for a different rising power: China.

“Though I live in a foreign country, I cannot change my Chinese heart,” the mostly doctoral-level science students chorused to images of the Great Wall rolling onstage in a karaoke version of “My Chinese Heart,” a Chinese Communist Party–approved classic. “My ancestors long ago branded ‘China’ on everything in me!” they sang.

The Lunar New Year gala, in late January, was a glitzy, occasionally ear-splitting affair organized by half a dozen Chinese student associations at top universities in Berlin and Brandenburg state, which encircles it. On the program: Dance, music, kung fu, jokes about the German weather (too gray and wet), prizes (Huawei electronics and bottles of baijiu, a strong Chinese liquor)—and a message from Shi Mingde, the outgoing Chinese ambassador to Germany.    [FULL  STORY]