lundi 23 octobre 2017

Chinese Peril

Mattis to make call for Asean unity against China at meeting of defence ministers
The Straits Times

US Defence Secretary James Mattis will meet his counterparts from Japan and South Korea on Oct 23 to discuss North Korea. He is due to visit Thailand and South Korea as well on his eight-day tour.

CLARK FREEPORT, PHILIPPINES - US Defence Secretary James Mattis is expected to make a call for South-east Asian unity against China during a meeting of defence ministers in the Philippines on Monday (Oct 23), the Associated Press reported.
The Asean bloc has been divided as the US and China vie for influence in the region, with the tensions magnified by a dispute over China's island-building activities in the South China Sea.
US influence has taken a hit from President Donald Trump's decision to cancel the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact championed by his predecessor, Mr Barack Obama, appearing to give Mr Obama's "pivot to Asia" short shrift.
"(Asean gives) voice to those who want relations between states to be based on respect, and not on predatory economics or on the size of militaries," General Mattis told reporters ahead of his meetings in the Philippines, though he did not mention China by name. 
"The United States remains unambiguously committed to supporting Asean."
The US sees a united Asean as a bulwark against China, which pursues individual bilateral relations with members at the expense of the bloc. 
It also wants Asean to squeeze North Korea amid a crisis over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.
Gen Mattis' comments echoed US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's call for a India as a populous, democratic counterweight to China, inviting it to take a leading security role in the Indo-Pacific region. 
The US has made India a major defence partner, offering it top-flight weapons systems. 
Gen Mattis will meet Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during his trip to the country this week.
On Monday, Gen Mattis was to hold an informal meeting with Asean members, who have been divided on taking a strong joint position over the South China Sea, making no mention of a 2016 ruling in The Hague that found no legal basis for China's expansive territorial claims.
Cambodia and Laos have taken sides with China in the dispute, while US allies Thailand, Vietnam and recently the Philippines have opposed Beijing. 
But under Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines relationship with China has warmed even as US ties soured.
Gen Mattis will meet his counterparts from Japan and South Korea on Monday to discuss North Korea. 
He is due to visit Thailand and South Korea as well on his eight-day tour.

China ‘compulsorily doped’ athletes in 1980s and 90s

China's systematic doping in all sports: More than 10,000 athletes were affected, says former China Olympic doctor
By Sean Ingle

The controversial China track coach Ma Junren monitoring training on the Tibetan plateau in 2000. 

A former doctor for the Chinese Olympic team has revealed that more than 10,000 of the country’s athletes were involved in a systematic doping programme across all sports – and that every one of China’s medals in major tournaments in the 1980s and 90s came from performance‑enhancing drugs.
Xue Yinxian, a 79-year-old Chinese whistleblower who is seeking political asylum in Germany, also claimed that athletes aged as young as 11 were introduced to the compulsory doping scheme – which existed in football, athletics, swimming, volleyball, basketball, table tennis, diving, gymnastics and weightlifting – and that anyone who spoke against the system now sits in jail.
“In the 1980s and 90s, Chinese athletes on the national teams made extensive use of doping substances,” Xue told the German broadcaster ARD.
“Medals were tainted by doping – gold, silver and bronze. There must have been more than 10,000 people involved. People believed only in doping, anyone who took doping substances was seen to be defending the country. All international medals [won by Chinese athletes in that time] should be taken back.”
However, there is no chance of medals being retrospectively stripped because the statute of limitations has long passed.
Xue worked as a doctor with several national Chinese teams from the 1970s, but fled from China with her son after first speaking out against doping in 2012 and says she no longer felt safe in her home city, Beijing. 
She claimed she first became aware of the problem when a coach came to her concerned about the physical changes in male athletes, aged between 13 and 14, due to substances handed out by officials.
“At first, the youth-age group teams used the substances – the youngest were 11 years old,” she said. “If you refused to dope, you had to leave the team. I couldn’t do anything about it.”
She said she was dismissed from working with the national team for refusing to treat a gymnast with a banned substance at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, but kept working in lower-level Chinese sport.
“Anyone against doping damaged the country and anyone who endangered the country now sits in prison,” she told ARD. 
They warned me against talking about doping substances. They urged me to back down. I said I couldn’t do that. They wanted to silence me … both of my sons lost their jobs.”
Athletes were repeatedly tested until they came back negative – and were then sent to international competitions. 
The call sign “Grandma is home” was applied to those athletes, she said, who no longer had traces of doping substances in their body.
ARD reporters tried to contact the Chinese Olympic Committee and China’s sports ministry for a response to the claims, but never received a reply, according to the broadcaster. 
China has long been linked with accusations of doping – although never before on this scale. 
In February athletes linked to the controversial track coach Ma Junren, whose athletes broke 66 national and world records, said they had been forced to take performance-enhancing drugs.
In a letter published by Tencent Sports they wrote: “We are humans, not animals. For many years, [we were] forced to take a large dose of illegal drugs – it was true.” 

dimanche 22 octobre 2017

The Necessary War

North Korea Could Start a War Between US and China
By Robert Farley
Two U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth jet fighters fly near Andersen Air Force Base in this handout photo dated August 4, 2010. China is still years away from being able to field a stealth aircraft, despite the disclosure of images indicating that it appears to have a working prototype, Pentagon officials said on Wednesday. A U.S. intelligence official estimated in May that the J-20 could rival the F-22 Raptor within eight years. The Raptor is the premier U.S. fighter, with cutting-edge "fifth-generation" features, including shapes, materials and propulsion systems designed to make it appear as small as a swallow on enemy radar screens. 

War on the Korean Peninsula could cause humanitarian disaster on a scale that the world has never seen. 
But the scenario might grow even worse. 
The last time that the United States fought North Korea, the People’s Republic of China intervened with destructive effect. 
The war lasted for three years, with heavy casualties on both sides. 
While both China and the United States have worked hard to prevent a recurrence of this catastrophe, the two great powers remain at odds over the fate of North Korea, a disagreement that might yet lead to war.

How it Happened Before:

The United States and China were not supposed to go to war in 1950. 
The war resulted primarily from U.S. miscalculation of Chinese intentions and capabilities; U.S. forces failed to detect the movement of significant People’s Liberation Army (PLA) forces into Korea, failed to pay sufficient attention to Chinese signals, and lacked a good understanding of Communist China’s nascent diplomatic efforts. 
Chinese intervention was an operational surprise that should not have been, successful in throwing U.S. forces out of North Korea and restoring something close to the antebellum status quo. 
The first Korean War did not work out well for either country, although both the United States and China successfully maintained the independence of their respective proxies.

How it Could Happen Again:

War in Korea could resume for any number of reasons; even a collapse of the North Korean regime could start a race for Pyongyang that produced great power conflict. 
Over the past year, however, tensions have grown over the extent and progress of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. 
The United States sees these (and North Korean bombasticity) as a threat, and the North Koreans see U.S. threat-mongering as the potential prelude to war. 
This leaves both sides with ample incentive to launch a preemptive war against the other. 
Thus, war between the U.S. and the DPRK could plausibly begin with either a North Korean attack on South Korea or Japan, or a U.S. attack on North Korea.
China is unlikely to view U.S. response to a North Korean attack as legitimate cause for war, unless that response crosses certain red lines. 
These red lines could be similar to those that the PRC laid down in 1950, although both Chinese fear of the United States and Chinese affection for North Korea have declined over time. 
Similarly, the United States probably will not see any upside in pre-empting Beijing’s response by directly attacking China. 
Still, Beijing has little interest in seeing U.S. forces along the Yalu River. 
If China believes that the United States foolishly blundered into a war, or pushed North Korea into a pre-emptive war through brinksmanship, then Beijing’s attitude could become more belligerent. Moreover, China might view a U.S. attack on North Korea as an indicator of incorrigible aggression, evidence that the United States truly is a “rogue nation” as likely as not to attack China at some point in the future.
As a prelude to intervention, China would begin to signal its disfavor by elaborately visible military preparations, as well as diplomatic condemnations. 
The Trump administration undoubtedly runs some of the same risks of misinterpreting Chinese statements as the Truman administration did in 1950. 
The US could properly read these signals as indications of China’s willingness to commit, or it could misread them as bluster. 
At the same time, if Beijing was serious, it would begin quietly redeploying long-range assets away from Korea, into relatively safe locations in China’s interior. 
The PLA faces the dilemma of needing to reduce the chance of war, while at the same time maximizing its chance of victory.

How it Could Play Out:
If war starts with a Chinese response to a perceived U.S. provocation, the PRC will initially confine its activities to the Korean Peninsula. 
Beijing will want to send a message of seriousness to Washington without opening up a wider war, in the hopes that the Trump administration will restrain itself from further aggression. 
Chinese ballistic missiles and cruise missiles (launched from air and land platforms located as deep as possible within China, in order to avoid offering easy targets to the US) will strike US and South Korean military installations, including airbases, communications centers, and logistics facilities. 
If U.S. and ROK forces have advanced into North Korea, China will likely focus on forward deployed assets, although the PLA will not want to waste valuable munitions on conventional forces along the front.
This strategy essentially worked in 1950; the United States refrained from attacks against the Chinese mainland, did not mobilize Japan militarily, did not “Unleash Chiang” from his Formosan stronghold, and did not use nuclear weapons. 
Instead, the combatants waged war in conventional means up and down the peninsula, a matchup which did not equalize the playing field but did give the PLA its best hope of victory.
But if China and the United States did become engaged in active combat operations against one another in Korea, it is unlikely that the fight would stay confined. 
The U.S. military would face an enormous temptation to directly airbases, missile installations, and staging areas in China, while attacks US bases across the region would undoubtedly tempt China. Changes in military technology have altered the nature of distance in warfare; Chinese and American missile sites can hit targets in Korea from vast distances, and commanders would be tempted to attack enemy staging and launch areas in depth. 
Moreover, the huge Chinese reconnaissance-strike complex, laid out over a vast expanse of space, air, sea, and land, would immediately become the subject of US attentions. 
In particular, the U.S. might see fit to convey its own seriousness by launching attacks against major Chinese naval vessels, including aircraft carriers, destroyers, and nuclear submarines.

Parting Thoughts:

War between the United States and China in Korea is not impossible.
Therefore, we have to think about it. 
While the first Korean War represented a failure of strategic planning, Washington and Beijing nevertheless managed to confine the conflict, and limit the extent of escalation. 
Whether they would be able to do so in 2017, after dramatic changes in the geopolitical situation, is a different question entirely.
If war does happen, policymakers on both sides need to work hard to limit the extent of destruction.

Chinese propaganda faces stiff competition from celebrities

By Yi-Ling Liu

In this Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017 photo, Chinese women walk past advertisement featuring teen idol Lu Han, also known as China’s Justin Bieber in Beijing, China. China works to stifle celebrities as it seeks to dictate the values the nation’s youth should embrace. It’s part of the most ambitious effort in years to shape the country’s booming entertainment industry. Instead of selfish, rich stars, the state is promoting performers who are all about patriotism, purity and other values that support the party’s legitimacy, whether in movies about revolutionary heroes or through rap music.

HONG KONG — When the propaganda film, “The Founding of an Army,” hit theaters in China recently, the reaction wasn’t quite what the ruling Communist Party might have hoped for.
Instead of inspiring an outpouring of nationalism and self-sacrifice for the state, it was roundly mocked for trying to lure a younger audience by casting teen idols as revolutionary party leaders.
Viewers more used to seeing the idols play love interests in light-hearted soap operas responded to the film by projecting “modern-day romantic narratives on the founding fathers of the nation,” said Hung Huang, a well-known social commentator based in Beijing. 
“It was hilarious.”
While China’s resurgent Communist Party once pushed its policies on an unquestioning public, it now struggles to compete for attention with the country’s booming entertainment industry and the celebrity culture it has spawned.
“Chinese people are increasingly ignoring party propaganda and are much more interested in movie stars, who represent a new lifestyle and more exciting aspirations,” said Willy Lam, an expert on Chinese politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Xi Jinping, who will cement his authority with his expected endorsement to a second five-year term at this week’s national party congress, has placed a priority on stamping out too much Western influence in Chinese society in part so the party can dictate the values the youth should embrace.
Authorities have responded by taking aim at everything from gossip websites to soap opera story lines to celebrity salaries. 
Instead of selfish, rich stars, the state is promoting performers who are all about patriotism, purity and other values that support the party’s legitimacy.
The results have at best been mixed and at worst ham-fisted and out of touch.
One problem is that the party’s values often clash with what young Chinese want to watch.
Among the more popular shows watched by Chinese youth are those that center on palace intrigue, martial arts fantasies, high school romances or single, independent women.
“While the government could once dictate to young people what they should value and how they should lead their lives, they find themselves completely without the tools to do that now,” she said.
In the 1970s, the state was able to promote people seen as paragons of youthful devotion and selflessness, but Hung said that no longer works because young Chinese — like their counterparts in the West — now prefer to follow celebrity gossip and have the tools with which to do so.
Just this month, teen idol Lu Han, also known as China’s Justin Bieber, announced he had a girlfriend, triggering a flood of shares, responses and 4 million “likes” within a few hours that briefly crashed the country’s popular Weibo microblog service.
A recent commentary in The Global Times, a party newspaper with a nationalistic stance, railed against such celebrity worship, saying China had now surpassed the West in that regard.
“It’s unfair that these stars accrue such glory, unimaginable to those who have made a decisive contribution to the country,” the commentary said.
That was likely a reason the government-backed China Alliance of Radio, Film and Television moved last month to cap the pay of actors, whose salaries had hit historic highs as young Chinese and a burgeoning middle class increasingly spend on movie tickets and goods.
In another move earlier this year, authorities closed 60 popular celebrity gossip and social media accounts and called on internet giants such as Tencent and Baidu to “actively propagate core socialist values, and create an ever-healthier environment for the mainstream public opinion.”
The tension between popular culture and state propaganda isn’t new in China. 
In the 1980s, Deng Xiaoping’s lieutenants railed against spiritual pollution. 
But it has gained new traction since Xi came to power in 2012 and officials began a wide-ranging crackdown on perceived societal ills from corruption to dissent to — now — entertainment.
“Xi Jinping has been advocating a revision to traditional, Confucian moral standards,” Lam said. “The definition of what is vulgar or morally problematic has been inflated and expanded so that it has become all-encompassing.”
Shows about the pursuit of great wealth and luxury that used to be tolerated under Xi’s predecessor, aren’t anymore.
The government has demanded that broadcasters “resist celebrity worship” and limit the air time dedicated to film and TV stars.
“The party does not want these entertainment programs to compete with news programs and ‘morality shows,’” said Jian Xu, a Chinese media research fellow at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia.
One example of a state-approved show is “Touching China,” which honors people who have “touched the nation with their tenacity, bravery and wisdom.”
The government has also tried to shape some celebrities into party-sanctioned role models.
Thanks to their wholesome image and uplifting, patriotic lyrics, the TFboys, China’s first home-grown boy band, have risen to fame because of “political opportunities” they’ve been given, Xu said. The band is pursued by adoring fans and has performed twice on the coveted Lunar New Year gala hosted by state broadcaster China Central Television; it has also been promoted by the Communist Youth League.
Stars deviating from the party’s image of purity and moral acceptability, however, have been punished. 
In a high-profile drug crackdown in 2014, authorities publicly chastised a succession of celebrities caught using drugs, including Jackie Chan’s son, Jaycee Chan, and singer Li Daimo, forcing them to apologize on state television.
Beijing may struggle to win over young Chinese, but it won’t stop its carrot-and-stick approach to regulating the industry.
“The government’s method of punishment and praise is very obvious: If you work with me, you will reap the benefits, if you don’t, you won’t. If you’re a good boy, you get candy, if you don’t, you won’t,” Xu said.

Sina Delenda Est

How China became emboldened and embittered -- and how its leaders' desire for global domination may lead to a conflict with America

With the busy lives that everybody leads and one eye on the clock for when Tesco shuts, you might have failed to notice that Beijing has this week been hosting the 19th Congress of the Communist Party.
Some 2,300 unswervingly loyal apparatchiks have gathered to cheer to the rafters Xi Jinping, the most powerful man in the world.
Those last few words may cause some people to demand: but what about Donald Trump?
It is true that the leader of the United States commands a much larger nuclear arsenal, and that his country is still richer and stronger than China
But Trump — thank goodness — is a moron.
America remains the world’s largest democracy: its system of checks and balances is (sort of) working.
In China, by contrast, there are no checks and balances, and there will be even fewer after this week’s slavish Congress, in which a cult of personality has soared to extraordinary heights. 
Xi wields almost absolute authority, amid ever more draconian restrictions on dissent and free speech, even within the Party hierarchy. 
‘China needs heroes,’ he has written, ‘such as Mao Tse-tung’.

In China there are no checks and balances, and there will be even fewer after this week’s slavish Congress, in which a cult of personality has soared to extraordinary heights.

He thus celebrates a predecessor whom almost everybody recognises as the greatest mass murderer of the 20th century, even ahead of Adolf Hitler.
The American strategy guru Edward Luttwak warns that ‘China poses the greatest threat to world peace’ because of its leader’s lack of accountability. 
The only institution that retains any influence is the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
While Xi talks to the world (without being much believed) about his desire for China to be a good neighbour, part of the fellowship of nations — his commanders become ever more hawkish.
Hundreds of billions are poured into armies, fleets, missile forces, with the defence budget rising by 10 per cent last year. 
The country has established its first overseas military base, in the port of Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, and now boasts a navy that sails the Red Sea and the Baltic.
Some 60,000 people are employed in military cyber-operations of scary sophistication: four years ago, 140 attacks on U.S. institutions were traced to a single PLA unit in Shanghai. 
The Chinese own a formidable satellite-killer capability, which could inflict critical damage on American communications.
Chinese people seem ready to applaud their armed forces’ new activism: their big movie hit of 2017 has been Wolf Warrior 2, about a Chinese soldier mowing down his country’s enemies abroad, on a more lavish scale than does Britain’s James Bond.
Here is the Heavenly Kingdom, among the oldest and greatest civilisations on earth, seeking to reassert long-lost might and majesty. 
Young Chinese are taught that their ancestors possessed a 'civilised', literate culture five centuries before Julius Caesar invaded Britain. 
The American strategy guru Edward Luttwak warns that ‘China poses the greatest threat to world peace’ because of its leader’s lack of accountability.

Today, the Chinese reason: why should we continue to follow the dictates and to swallow the "insults" of the West?
The U.S. Navy still claims dominance of the Pacific, as it has done since 1945. 
Both Washington and Tokyo question China’s right to extend its frontiers in the South and East China Seas.
Above all, the West resists Beijing’s insistence on reclaiming Taiwan, where Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists established a bastion under American protection after they lost the Civil War to Mao in 1949.
The Chinese refer to their ‘century of humiliation’ which began with the Opium Wars, during which in 1860 an Anglo-French army pillaged one of their greatest artistic masterpieces, the imperial Summer Palace outside Beijing.
This symbolic climax of ‘Western barbarianism’ stands close to the head of a catalogue of historic grievances that feeds China’s modern sense of victimisation, and which it is determined to repair.
The mounting tensions between China and the U.S. and its allies could lead to conflict in the decade or two ahead.
Sir Lawrence Freedman, Emeritus Professor of War Studies at King’s College London, declares in his new work, The Future Of War, that armed conflict between great powers is almost certain to continue ‘wherever there is a combination of an intensive dispute and available forms of violence... at first it may bear little resemblance to our common views of war, but any continuing violence has the potential to turn into something bigger’.
Freedman means, of course, that a new great power clash is likely to start with an escalating, yet invisible and noiseless, cyber-exchange, which could deliver a pre-emptive strike against the enemy’s high-tech weapons systems, or even more broadly its civil infrastructure, for instance electricity grids and telecoms networks.
In 1991, an American expert on security and cyber-warfare wrote a futuristic novel suggesting the possibility of an ‘electronic Pearl Harbor’ surprise assault. 
This has since become technologically more plausible.
Almost no nation — perhaps not even North Korea — is eager to launch a nuclear first strike, justifying annihilatory retaliation. 
But many Americans, in and out of uniform, are apprehensive about the danger of a cyberwar first strike.
Both Chinese and U.S. commanders fear that failure to knock out the other’s high-tech information and weapons-guidance systems early in a confrontation could fatally weaken the loser if hostilities heated up.

Neither China nor Russia has allies, and thus both lack the long experience almost every Western nation enjoys of working with neighbour states, confiding in friendly governments. 

Consider the effect if, for instance, a Chinese cyber-thrust disabled the catapults on a U.S. aircraft carrier: a £12 billion platform would suddenly become impotent.
Christopher Coker urges the peril of reprising 1914, when Austria and Germany precipitated a huge conflagration because they started out with illusions that they risked only a small one, with Serbia.
This is a comparison I made myself a few years ago to a delegation of Chinese military men visiting London, who asked if I saw comparisons with 1914, about which I had just published a book. 
I suggested that the huge irony of what happened a century ago was that if Germany had not gone to war, it could have achieved dominance of Europe within a generation through its industrial and technological superiority.
Surely nothing at stake in the South China Sea or with Taiwan, I said to the Chinese, is worth risking all that you have achieved by peaceful means? 
A Chinese officer, obviously unconvinced, responded: ‘But we have claims!’
In my own travels in China, I have often been impressed by how much real popular feeling exists, albeit stoked by propaganda, about the separation of Taiwan.
Xi, his personal power strengthened by this week’s 19th Congress, may start throwing his weight around in ways that could generate a crisis — for instance, setting a time limit for the return of Taiwan to Beijing’s control.
In the South China Sea, there are constant tensions and potential flashpoints between the Chinese building new bases in previously acknowledged international or Japanese waters, and American warships and planes asserting rights of navigation.
There is a real prospect of Japan not merely rearming but seeking nuclear weapons in response to the threat posed by North Korea, which Beijing is unwilling to defuse. 
China is morbidly fearful of regime collapse in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, followed by Korean unification and a U.S.-South Korean army on its Yalu river border.
Christopher Coker argues that China, like Russia, is psychologically crippled by its own firewalls against open debate, and thus finds it extraordinarily difficult to relate to other nations, or to see things from others’ points of view.
Neither China nor Russia has allies, and thus both lack the long experience almost every Western nation enjoys of working with neighbour states, confiding in friendly governments.
Beijing sees things through a narrow nationalistic prism which makes it hard for its leadership to guess how an antagonist might act in a confrontation. 
None of the academics I cite above suggests a major war is inevitable. 
Some argue that Chinese ambitions are more economic than globally strategic; that the country’s internal difficulties and resource shortages — especially of water — will constrain its growth and keep Xi too busy at home to gamble disastrously abroad.
Yet the combination of Donald Trump’s isolationism alongside Xi’s unconstrained dictatorship, poses grave dangers to stability and peace.
We should not underrate the risk that a Chinese general or admiral might lash out on his own initiative or overplay his hand by firing on U.S. warships or aircraft.
In the recent past, there have been episodes in which China’s commanders have taken dangerous and provocative actions without reference to Beijing — for instance, launching a new satellite weapon or testing a stealth aircraft with great fanfare while a U.S. defence secretary was in town.
Again and again, escalation has been averted by wise caution on the part of the Americans.
Statesmanship, which requires steady diplomacy and constant horse-trading, is indispensable to keep us safe. 
Yet this is becoming ever harder to come by when China is flexing its muscles.
On one side, we see a rising power impelled by a centuries-old sense of grievance; on the other, the U.S., with a sense of global entitlement no longer compatible with the aspirations and might of others.
In 1910, Brigadier Henry Wilson, commandant of the British Army’s staff college, told his students there was likely to be a big European war. 
One of his audience remonstrated, saying that only ‘inconceivable stupidity on the part of statesmen’ could make such a thing happen.
Wilson guffawed derisively: ‘Haw! Haw! Haw! Inconceivable stupidity is what you are going to get.’
So the world did. 
And could again.

samedi 21 octobre 2017

Rogue nation: UN tells China to release human rights activists and pay them compensation

Document rejects Chinese government claims that activists voluntarily confessed to their crimes at trials.
By Benjamin Haas in Hong Kong

Lawyer Xie Yang who has been detained by Chinese authorities as part of a crack down on human rights. 

The United Nations has demanded that China should immediately release prominent human rights activists from detention and pay them compensation, according to an unreleased document obtained by the Guardian.
The report, which has not been made public, from the UN’s human rights council says the trio had their rights violated and calls China’s laws incompatible with international norms.
Christian church leader Hu Shigen and lawyers Zhou Shifeng and Xie Yang were detained and tried as part of an unprecedented nationwide crackdown on human rights attorneys and activists that began in July 2015.
The operation saw nearly 250 people detained and questioned by police.
Hu was jailed for seven and a half years and Zhou was sentenced to seven years on subversion charges, while Xie is awaiting a verdict.
“The appropriate remedy would be to release Hu Shigen, Zhou Shifeng and Xie Yang immediately, and accord them an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations,” said the UN report seen by the Guardian, adding that Chinashould take action within six months.
The UN’s working group on arbitrary detention, which reviewed the case, rejected Chinese government claims the three men voluntarily confessed to their crimes at their trials and said their detentions were “made in total non-observance of the international norms relating to the right to a fair trial”.
The group is a panel of five experts that falls under the UN’s human rights council, of which China is a member.
While its judgements are not legally binding, it investigates claims of rights violations and suggests remedies.
China promised to cooperate with the group when it ran for a seat on the human rights council in August 2016, when it also pledged to make “unremitting efforts” to promote human rights.
The group’s report on the Chinese activists said the trio were subjected to a host of rights violations, including being denied access to legal counsel, being held in “incommunicado detention” and their families “were not informed of their whereabouts for several months”.
Their detentions were due to “their activities to promote and protect human rights“, the UN found, while the opinion also encouraged China to amend its laws to conform with international standards protecting human rights.
Although Xie was released on bail after a trial in May, his wife, Chen Guiqiu said her husband was far from a free man.
State security agents rented a flat across the hall from his and Xie has 12 guards stationed 24-hours a day outside his building.
Police follow him whenever he goes out and despite the constant surveillance, he has to prepare reports for state security agents every four hours on what he has done and who he has spoken to.
But Chen welcomed the UN’s report and said she felt vindicated.
“Of course, he didn’t commit any crime, his arrest was completely illegal and I’m glad the UN, a very objective party that represents the international community, can see that,” said Chen, who fled to the US earlier this year.
“I hope this will put pressure on China and make them think twice the next time they consider arresting people on political charges.”
“Paying compensation would show the government admits they harmed our family, that they were wrong to subject us to more than two years of continuous harm,” she added.

During his detention, Xie was beaten and forced into stress positions, with one interrogator telling him: “We’ll torture you to death just like an ant.”
Ambassadors from countries including Australia, Canada, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, wrote to China’s minister of public security in February, voicing concerns over the torture and calling for an independent investigation.
“The working group’s opinion cuts straight through the government’s lies and shows that the arrests were always about retaliation against lawyers for protecting human rights,” said Frances Eve, a researcher at the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders.
“The government put enormous resources into their propaganda campaign to smear human rights lawyers as ‘criminals’, deploying state media, police, prosecutors and the courts.”
During the course of the panel’s investigation, the Chinese government said the men were jailed not because “they defend the legitimate rights of others” but rather they have “long been engaged in criminal activities, aimed at subverting the basic national system established under the China’s [sic] constitution”.
The UN rejected this claim.
Hu was arrested for leading an underground church, which works outside the government-sanctioned system.
He previously spent 16 years in prison for distributing leaflets on the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and subsequent bloody crackdown.
Zhou is a prominent human rights attorney who founded the Fengrui law firm that was at the centre of the 2015 government “war on law”.
His firm represented dissident artist Ai Weiwei, members of the banned spiritual movement Falun Gong and a journalist arrested for supported protests in Hong Kong.
The UN’s working group on arbitrary detention previously told China to release Liu Xia, the wife of the Nobel peace prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died in detention in July.
Liu Xia has been under house arrest since 2010, when her husband won the prize, despite never being charged with a crime.

jeudi 19 octobre 2017

Chinese Peril

Tillerson calls for India ties to counter China
BBC News
Mr Tillerson visits India next week
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said the US wants to deepen co-operation with India in the face of growing Chinese influence in Asia.
He described India as a "partner" in a "strategic relationship", adding the US would "never have the same relationship with China, a non-democratic society".
He said Beijing sometimes acted outside international conventions, citing the South China Sea dispute as an example.
His comments come ahead of his visit to India next week.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump will visit a number of Asian countries including China, in November.
Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington, Mr Tillerson said "the United States seeks constructive relations with China, but we will not shrink from China's challenges to the rules-based order and where China subverts the sovereignty of neighbouring countries and disadvantages the US and our friends".
He also described the US and India as "increasingly global partners" who "don't just share an affinity for democracy. We share a vision of the future."
The secretary of state's remarks came hours after Xi Jinping's speech at the Chinese Communist Party congress, where Xi signalled that Beijing intended to play a greater role in world affairs.
Xi said that China had now "become a great power in the world", and that the Chinese growth under Communist rule had given "a new choice" to other developing countries.
However, in his speech on Wednesday, Mr Tillerson criticised "China's provocative actions in the South China Sea", saying they directly challenged "the international law and norms that the United States and India both stand for".
"China, while rising alongside India, has done so less responsibly, at times undermining the international, rules-based order," he added.
He called on India to play a greater security role in the region, saying "India and the United States should be in the business of equipping other countries to defend their sovereignty... and have a louder voice in a regional architecture that promotes their interests and develops their economies."