vendredi 18 mai 2018

Chinazism

Inside China’s new mass-indoctrination camps
By Associated Press

Omir Bekali talks about the psychological stress he endure in a Chinese internment camp during an interview in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — Hour upon hour, day upon day, Omir Bekali and other detainees in far western China’s new indoctrination camps had to disavow their Islamic beliefs, criticize themselves and their loved ones and give thanks to the ruling Communist Party.
When Bekali, a Kazakh Muslim, refused to follow orders each day, he was forced to stand at a wall for five hours at a time. 
A week later, he was sent to solitary confinement, where he was deprived of food for 24 hours. 
After 20 days in the heavily guarded camp, he wanted to kill himself.
“The psychological pressure is enormous, when you have to criticize yourself, denounce your thinking — your own ethnic group,” said Bekali, who broke down in tears as he described the camp. 
“I still think about it every night, until the sun rises. I can’t sleep. The thoughts are with me all the time.”
Since last spring, Chinese authorities in the heavily Muslim region of East Turkestan have ensnared hundreds of thousands of Muslim Chinese — and even foreign citizens — in mass internment camps. 
This detention campaign has swept across East Turkestan, a territory half the area of India, leading to what a U.S. commission on China last month said is “the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today.”
Chinese officials have largely avoided comment on the camps, but some are quoted in state media as saying that ideological changes are needed to fight separatism and Islamic extremism. 
China considers the region a threat to peace in a country where the majority is Han Chinese.
The internment program aims to rewire the political thinking of detainees, erase their Islamic beliefs and reshape their very identities. 
The camps have expanded rapidly over the past year, with almost no judicial process or legal paperwork. 
Detainees who most vigorously criticize the people and things they love are rewarded, and those who refuse to do so are punished with solitary confinement, beatings and food deprivation.
The recollections of Bekali, a heavyset and quiet 42-year-old, offer what appears to be the most detailed account yet of life inside so-called re-education camps. 
The Associated Press also conducted rare interviews with three other former internees and a former instructor in other centers who corroborated Bekali’s depiction. 
Most spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their families in China.
Bekali’s case stands out because he was a foreign citizen, of Kazakhstan, who was seized by China’s security agencies and detained for eight months last year without recourse. 
Although some details are impossible to verify, two Kazakh diplomats confirmed he was held for seven months and then sent to re-education.
The detention program is a hallmark of China’s emboldened state security apparatus under the deeply nationalistic, hard-line rule of Xi Jinping
It is partly rooted in the ancient Chinese belief in transformation through education — taken once before to terrifying extremes during the mass thought reform campaigns of Mao Zedong, the Chinese leader sometimes channeled by Xi.

Omir Bekali, front right, prepares to pray at a mosque in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Cultural cleansing is Beijing’s attempt to find a final solution to the East Turkestan problem,” said James Millward, a China historian at Georgetown University.
Rian Thum, a professor at Loyola University in New Orleans, said China’s re-education system echoes some of the worst human rights violations in history.
“The closest analogue is maybe the Cultural Revolution in that this will leave long-term, psychological effects,” Thum said. 
“This will create a multigenerational trauma from which many people will never recover.”
Asked to comment on the camps, China’s Foreign Ministry said it “had not heard” of the situation. When asked why non-Chinese had been detained, it said the Chinese government protects the rights of foreigners in China and they should also be law-abiding. 
Chinese officials in East Turkestan did not respond to requests for comment.
However, bits and pieces from state media and journals show the confidence East Turkestan officials hold in methods that they say work well to curb religious extremism. 
China’s top prosecutor, Zhang Jun, urged East Turkestan’s authorities this month to extensively expand what the government calls the “transformation through education” drive in an “all-out effort” to fight separatism and extremism.
In a June 2017 paper published by a state-run journal, a researcher from East Turkestan’s Communist Party School reported that most of 588 surveyed participants did not know what they had done wrong when they were sent to re-education. 
But by the time they were released, nearly all — 98.8 percent— had learned their mistakes, the paper said.
Transformation through education, the researcher concluded, “is a permanent cure.”
On the chilly morning of March 23, 2017, Bekali drove up to the Chinese border from his home in Almaty, Kazakhstan, got a stamp in his Kazakh passport and crossed over for a work trip, not quite grasping the extraordinary circumstances he was stepping into.
Bekali was born in China in 1976 to Kazakh and Uighur parents, moved to Kazakhstan in 2006 and received citizenship three years later. 
He was out of China in 2016, when authorities sharply escalated a “People’s War on Terror” to root out what the government called religious extremism and separatism in East Turkestan, a large territory bordering Pakistan and several Central Asian states, including Kazakhstan.
The East Turkestan he returned to was unrecognizable. 
All-encompassing, data-driven surveillance tracked residents in a region with around 12 million Muslims, including ethnic Uighurs and Kazakhs. 
Viewing a foreign website, taking phone calls from relatives abroad, praying regularly or growing a beard could land one in a political indoctrination camp, or prison, or both.
East Turkestan has a history of violence and military crackdowns due to simmering ethnic tensions.
The new internment system was shrouded in secrecy, with no publicly available data on the numbers of camps or detainees. 
The U.S. State Department estimates those being held are “at the very least in the tens of thousands.” A Turkey-based TV station run by East Turkestan exiles said almost 900,000 were detained, citing leaked government documents.
Adrian Zenz, a researcher at the European School of Culture and Theology, puts the number between several hundreds of thousands and just over 1 million. 
Government bids and recruitment ads studied by Zenz suggest that the camps have cost more than $100 million since 2016, and construction is ongoing.

Omir Bekali holds up a mobile phone showing a photo of his parents whom he believes have been detained in China.

Bekali knew none of this when he visited his parents on March 25. 
He passed police checkpoints and handed over his decade-old Chinese identity card.
The next day, five armed policemen showed up at Bekali’s parents’ doorstep and took him away. They said there was a warrant for his arrest in Karamay, a frontier oil town where he lived a decade earlier. 
He couldn’t call his parents or a lawyer, the police added, because his case was “special.”
Bekali was held in a cell, incommunicado, for a week, and then was driven 500 miles (804 kilometers) to Karamay’s Baijiantan District public security office.
There, they strapped him into a “tiger chair,” a device that clamped down his wrists and ankles. 
They also hung him by his wrists against a barred wall, just high enough so he would feel excruciating pressure in his shoulder unless he stood on the balls of his bare feet. 
They interrogated him about his work with a tourist agency inviting Chinese to apply for Kazakh tourist visas, which they claimed was a way to help Chinese Muslims escape.
“I haven’t committed any crimes!” Bekali yelled.
They asked for days what he knew about two dozen prominent ethnic Uighur activists and businessmen in Kazakhstan. 
Exhausted and aching, Bekali coughed up what he knew about a few names he recognized.
The police then sent Bekali to a 10- by 10-meter (32- by 32-foot) cell in the prison with 17 others, their feet chained to the posts of two large beds. 
Some wore dark blue uniforms, while others wore orange for political crimes. 
Bekali was given orange.
In mid-July, three months after his arrest, Bekali received a visit from Kazakh diplomats. 
China’s mass detention of ethnic Kazakhs — and even Kazakh citizens — has begun to make waves in the Central Asian country of 18 million. 
Kazakh officials say China detained 10 Kazakh citizens and hundreds of ethnic Kazakh Chinese in East Turkestan over the past year, though they were released in late April following a visit by a Kazakh deputy foreign minister.
Four months after the visit, Bekali was taken out of his cell and handed a release paper.
But he was not yet free.

‘We Now Know Better’
Bekali was driven from jail to a fenced compound in the northern suburbs of Karamay, where three buildings held more than 1,000 internees receiving political indoctrination, he said.
He walked in, past a central station that could see over the entire facility, and received a tracksuit. Heavily armed guards watched over the compound from a second level. 
He joined a cell with 40 internees, he said, including teachers, doctors and students. 
Men and women were separated.
Internees would wake up together before dawn, sing the Chinese national anthem, and raise the Chinese flag at 7:30 a.m. 
They gathered back inside large classrooms to learn “red songs” like “Without the Communist Party, there is no New China,” and study Chinese language and history. 
They were told that the indigenous sheep-herding Central Asian people of East Turkestan were backward and yoked by slavery before they were “liberated” by the Communist Party in the 1950s.
Before meals of vegetable soup and buns, the inmates would be ordered to chant: “Thank the Party! Thank the Motherland! Thank President Xi!”
Discipline was strictly enforced and punishment could be harsh. 
Bekali was kept in a locked room almost around the clock with eight other internees, who shared beds and a wretched toilet. 
Cameras were installed in toilets and even outhouses. 
Baths were rare, as was washing of hands and feet, which internees were told was equated with Islamic ablution.
Bekali and other former internees say the worst parts of the indoctrination program were forced repetition and self-criticism. 
Although students didn’t understand much of what was taught and the material bordered on the nonsensical to them, they were made to internalize it by repetition in sessions lasting two hours or longer.
“We will oppose extremism, we will oppose separatism, we will oppose terrorism,” they chanted again and again. 
Almost every day, the students received guest lecturers from the local police, judiciary and other branches of government warning about the dangers of separatism and extremism.
In four-hour sessions, instructors lectured about the dangers of Islam and drilled internees with quizzes that they had to answer correctly or be sent to stand near a wall for hours on end.
“Do you obey Chinese law or Sharia?” instructors asked. 
“Do you understand why religion is dangerous?”
One by one, internees would stand up before 60 of their classmates to present self-criticisms of their religious history, Bekali said. 
The detainees would also have to criticize and be criticized by their peers. 
Those who parroted official lines particularly well or lashed into their fellow internees viciously were awarded points and could be transferred to more comfortable surroundings in other buildings, he said.
“I was taught the Holy Quran by my father and I learned it because I didn’t know better,” Bekali heard one say.
“I traveled outside China without knowing that I could be exposed to extremist thoughts abroad,” Bekali recalled another saying. 
“Now I know.”
A Uighur woman told AP she was held in a center in the city of Hotan in 2016. 
She said she and fellow prisoners repeatedly were forced to apologize for wearing long clothes in Muslim style, praying, teaching the Quran to their children and asking imams to name their children.
Praying at a mosque on any day other than Friday was a sign of extremism; so was attending Friday prayers outside their village or having Quranic verses or graphics on their phones.
While instructors watched, those who confessed to such behavior were told to repeat over and over: “We have done illegal things, but we now know better.”
Other detainees and a re-education camp instructor tell similar stories.
In mid-2017, a Uighur former on-air reporter for Xinjiang TV known as Eldost was recruited to teach Chinese history and culture in an indoctrination camp because he spoke excellent Mandarin. 
He had no choice.
The re-education system, Eldost said, classified internees into three levels of security and duration of sentences.
The first group typically consisted of illiterate minority farmers who didn’t commit any ostensible crimes other than not speaking Chinese. 
The second class was made up of people who were caught at home or on their smartphones with religious content or so-called separatist materials, such as lectures by the Uighur intellectual Ilham Tohti.
The final group was made up of those who had studied religion abroad and came back, or were seen to be affiliated with foreign elements. 
In the latter cases, internees were often sentenced to prison terms of 10 to 15 years, Eldost said.
While he was teaching, Eldost once saw through the window 20 students driven into the courtyard. Two rows of guards waited for them and beat them as soon as they got out of the police van. 
He later heard that the internees were recent arrivals who had studied religion in the Middle East.
Violence was not regularly dispensed, but every internee AP spoke to saw at least one incident of rough treatment or beatings.
Eldost said the instruction was aimed at showing how backward traditional Uighur culture is and how repressive fundamentalist Islam is compared to a progressive Communist Party. 
The internees’ confessions of their backwardness helped drive the point home.
“Internees are told to repeat those confessions to the point where, when they are finally freed, they believe that they owe the country a lot, that they could never repay the party,” said Eldost, who escaped from China in August after paying a bribe.
Eldost said he tried in little ways to help his internees. 
Tasked with teaching the Three Character Classic, a Confucian standard taught widely in elementary schools, he would make up mnemonic devices to help his students — including elderly or illiterate Uighur farmers who barely knew their own language — recite a few lines. 
He also advised students to stop habitually saying “praise God” in Arabic and Uighur because other instructors punished them for it.
Every time he went to sleep in a room with 80 others, he said, the last thing he would hear was the sound of misery.
“I heard people crying every night,” he said. 
“That was the saddest experience in my life.”
Another former detainee, a Uighur from Hotan in southern East Turkestan, said his newly built center had just 90 people in two classes in 2015. 
There, a government instructor claimed that Uighur women historically did not wear underwear, braided their hair to signal their sexual availability, and had dozens of sexual partners.
“It made me so angry,” the detainee said. 
“These kinds of explanations of Uighur women humiliated me. I still remember this story every time I think about this, I feel like a knife cut a hole in my chest.”
Kayrat Samarkan, a Chinese Kazakh from Astana who was detained while running errands in a northern East Turkestan police station in December, was sent to an internment camp in Karamagay with 5,700 students.
Those who didn’t obey, were late to class or got into fights were put for 12 hours in a loose body-suit that was made of iron and limited their movement, he said. 
Those who still disobeyed would be locked in a tiger chair for 24 hours. 
As one form of punishment, he said, instructors would press an internee’s head in a tub of ice and water.

Omir Bekali looks at a computer to trace the location of the Chinese internment camp he was held during an interview in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

After three months, Samarkan couldn’t take the lessons anymore, so he bashed his head against a wall to try to kill himself. 
He merely fell unconscious.
“When I woke up, the staff threatened me, saying if I did that again they would extend my sentence to 7 years there,” he said.
After 20 days, Bekali also contemplated suicide. 
Several days later, because of his intransigence and refusal to speak Mandarin, Bekali was no longer permitted to go into the courtyard. 
Instead, he was sent to a higher level of management, where he spent 24 hours a day in a room with 8 others.
A week later, he went to his first stint in solitary confinement. 
He saw a local judicial official walking into the building on an inspection tour and yelled at the top of his lungs. 
He thought even his former detention center, with the abuse he suffered, would be better.
“Take me in the back and kill me, or send me back to prison,” he shouted. 
“I can’t be here anymore.”
He was again hauled off to solitary confinement. 
It lasted 24 hours, ending late afternoon on Nov. 24.
That’s when Bekali was released, as suddenly as he was detained eight months earlier.
A Baijiantan policemen who had always gone easy on Bekali during interrogation appeared and checked him out of the facility.
“You were too headstrong, but what the department did was unjust,” he told Bekali as he drove him to his sister’s home in Karamay.
Bekali was free.

Freedom, But Not For His Family
The next morning, a Saturday, the police opened their immigration office for Bekali to pick up a unique, 14-day Chinese visa. 
His original had long expired. 
Bekali left China on December 4.
Seeking compensation from the Chinese government is out of the question. 
But Bekali keeps a plastic folder at home of evidence that might prove useful someday: his passport with stamps and visas, travel records and a handwritten Chinese police document dated and imprinted with red-ink seals.
The document is the closest thing he has to an official acknowledgement that he suffered for eight months. 
It says he was held on suspicion of endangering national security; the last sentence declares him released without charge.
At first, Bekali did not want the AP to publish his account for fear that his sister and mother in China would be detained and sent to re-education.
But on March 10, back in China, the police took his sister, Adila Bekali
A week later, on March 19, they took his mother, Amina Sadik
And on April 24, his father, Ebrayem.
Bekali changed his mind and said he wanted to tell his story, no matter the consequences.
“Things have already come this far,” he said. 
“I have nothing left to lose.”

Cartographic aggression

Chinese Tourists Spark Anger in Vietnam over Map on Shirts
By Associated Press




HANOI, Vietnam — A group of Chinese tourists wearing T-shirts depicting the country’s territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea has sparked anger in Vietnam.
The tourists arrived at the Cam Ranh international airport on Sunday night and after going through the immigration, took off their coats to reveal T-shirts featuring the so-called “nine-dash line” demarcating Beijing claims to nearly the entire South China Sea. 
Vietnam is one of the rival claimants.
State-run Tuoi Tre newspaper reported that Vietnamese authorities confiscated the T-shirts.
Immigration officials at the airport declined to comment Wednesday.
Some readers commenting on the newspaper’s website have called for the deportation of the Chinese tourists.
“Deport them immediately, put them on the blacklist and ban them from entering in the future,” reader Huynh Tan Dat wrote.
More than 4 million Chinese arrived in Vietnam last year, accounting for about 30 percent of total foreign arrivals in the Southeast Asian country.
It was not the first time the Vietnamese were enraged over the controversial maps. 
In 2016, a border agent at the Saigon airport defaced a Chinese passport with the words “f— you” scribbled twice over maps of the contested South China Sea.
China issued new passports starting 2012 with revised maps to include the “nine-dash line.” 
Some Vietnamese border agents have begun to issue separate visas rather than stamp Chinese passports to demonstrate that they do not recognize the new map.
China and Vietnam have had long-running territorial disputes in the South China Sea. 
Other claimants include the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

Air Canada’s kowtowing to China’s despots sends a dangerous signal

Democracy, liberty and freedom should be areas of no-compromise in our negotiations with Chinese dictators. 
By J. MICHAEL COLE

In the months since China began to bring pressure on international airlines to remove all references from their websites, apps and booking services to Taiwan as anything other than part of China, I, along with many other Canadians living in Asia, had taken great pride in the fact that Air Canada had refused to be cowed by the authoritarian giant.
Sadly, that is no more. 
Joining a growing list of airlines including Qantas, Delta, British Airways and Lufthansa, Air Canada now uses a designation – “Taipei, CN” – that does not reflect reality, but can only please the leadership in Beijing, which refuses to acknowledge the existence of Taiwan as a sovereign entity.
Despite only having 19 official diplomatic allies, Taiwan −a vibrant democracy of 23.5 million people that shares many of the values we as Canadian cherish − entertains constructive ties with many countries around the world. 
An important economic partner of Canada, Taiwan is also home to as many as 60,000 Canadians. Taiwan has its own passport, its own elected government, military, currency and enjoys many advantages, such as visa-free entry, the Chinese people are denied.
China, meanwhile, has shed constitutional limits to the presidency, and in recent years has done much to undo a lot of the limited progress it had made in the past two decades or so – some of that with Canadian assistance – in terms of civil liberties. 
Freedom of expression, of belief, have been eroded; repression in East Turkestan has reached levels which border on conditions in a prison camp; activists, lawyers, academics, in and outside China, have been threatened, denied visas and taken to court merely for exposing the transgressions of a regime that brooks no criticism. 
Under Xi Jinping, China has become worryingly aggressive in its territorial claims, going as far as to militarize the South China Sea, and is now seen as a threat to several smaller countries in the region. Under Xi’s guidance, China has also launched a series of initiatives, known as “sharp power”, to undermine democracies worldwide.
Beijing has also exploited Ottawa’s desire to sign a free-trade agreement with the world’s second-largest economy, to compel it to look the other way whenever it has violated the beliefs and values that define us as Canadians.
For Taiwan, Ottawa has been a solid partner, supporting Taipei’s efforts to join multilateral institutions such as the International Civil Aviation Organization and the World Health Assembly, which Beijing has prevented for political reasons. 
This Ottawa does because it understands the values of inclusion. 
And even though it “took note” of Beijing’s claims that Taiwan is part of China upon establishing diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China in October, 1970, Ottawa’s multifaceted engagement of Taiwan is guided by the recognition of its value as a distinct polity and partner.
We may be critical of Donald Trump’s White House for many things, but it spoke for many of us earlier this month when it referred to Beijing’s pressure on international airlines as “Orwellian nonsense”.
Understandably, Justin Trudeau’s government looks to China as an important economic partner to ensure our own prosperity, but we cannot afford to compromise the values, beliefs and traditions that make us who we are in the process. 
Canadian companies need not give in to bullying and blackmail for access to the Chinese market. Instead, we need to make it clear that this is a relationship of equals, one in which we have our own red lines.
Democracy, liberty and freedom should be areas of no-compromise in our negotiations with Chinese authorities. 
When we yield to Beijing’s preposterous demands, the way Air Canada did on how it refers to Taiwan, we display our weakness and our willingness to compromise what we believe in. 
A revisionist regime that seeks to undermine and alter the international system can only see such weakness as an invitation to demand more – and in doing so, we sow the seeds of our own misfortune.
I speak for many Canadians today in feeling ashamed for the decision by Air Canada, a company we can be proud of, to give in to Beijing’s coercion. 
Surely we can do better than this.

jeudi 17 mai 2018

THE HOLY SEE, CHINA, AND EVANGELIZATION

By George Weigel

In a recent interview, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See, suggested that certain critics of a deal between the Vatican and the People’s Republic of China were misconstruing the Holy See’s motivations: “There are those who’ve accused us of only wanting diplomatic relations as a sign of some sort of success. But the Holy See, as the pope has said many times, is not interested in diplomatic successes.”
It’s just possible that, among other things, His Eminence had in mind an online article I published at Foreign Policy.com this past February. 
There, I argued that the decades-long passion of some Vatican diplomats for securing diplomatic relations with the PRC reflected an outmoded view of the Holy See’s role in world affairs, in which the Vatican is imagined to be a third-tier power trying to punch above its weight (as the cardinal secretary of state of Pius VII, Ercole Consalvi, did at the Congress of Vienna in 1815). 
That is no longer the case, I suggested, for the only real power the Holy See can deploy in twenty-first-century world politics is the power of moral witness and argument. 
That moral authority is compromised, and the life of the Church under totalitarian or authoritarian regimes is weakened, when deals are made by the Vatican that concede far too much authority in Church affairs to communist regimes. 
Which is what happened under the so-called Ostpolitik of Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Agostino Casaroli: a policy of accommodation that led to grave problems for the Church in Hungary and Czechoslovakia and caused unnecessary headaches for the Church in Poland in the 1960s and 1970s, before the Ostpolitik was effectively jettisoned by the most geopolitically consequential pope in centuries, John Paul II.
So the issue here is not an untoward eagerness for diplomatic success; the issue is one of confusing diplomatic accomplishment with evangelical achievement. 
And that gets me to the oft-repeated nub of my critique of the putative deal between the Vatican and the People’s Republic of China: Any arrangement by which the Chinese communist authorities are conceded a significant role in the appointment of Catholic bishops will weaken the Church’s evangelical possibilities—today, and especially in the China of the future. 
Kowtowing to communists is bad for achieving a full reconciliation among the currently divided factions in the Catholic Church in China. 
But first and foremost, it is bad for mission and evangelization, now and in the future.
I am skeptical of the claim, often heard in Vatican circles, that China will inevitably become the lead power in the world. 
Yes, China has made enormous strides economically since Deng Xiaoping abandoned Maoist economic madness and unleashed the creativity of the Chinese people. 
Yes, the Chinese model of efficient authoritarianism is now a serious competitor to democracy. 
And yes, the communist regime’s claim to have restored the Middle Kingdom’s dignity after a century of quasi-colonial degradation has significant appeal among Han Chinese (if not among Tibetans and the Uighurs of Xinjiang). 
But the one-child policy that China brutally enforced for decades has created serious demographic and social problems; there’s little by way of a social safety net for an increasingly elderly Chinese population; and it seems unlikely that today’s restraints on free expression in China will be tolerated indefinitely by a rapidly growing middle class.
The communist regime in China is inherently unstable, despite what appears on the surface to be a successful, alternative model of development. 
Chinese communism will not rule China forever. 
And when a post-communist China finally opens itself fully to the world, China will become the greatest field of Christian mission since the Europeans came to the western hemisphere in the sixteenth century.
A Catholicism that has become identified with a discarded communist regime, because the Vatican once conceded the communists a significant role in the Church’s internal life, will be at a grave evangelical disadvantage in the post-communist China of the future, where evangelical Protestants and Mormons will be very, very active. 
And that evangelical concern, I would respectfully remind Cardinal Parolin, has long been the core of my argument against granting the Chinese communist regime a significant role in the choice of bishops.
Or to quote Pope Francis, any such deal would be an impediment to living out the Holy Father’s vision of “a Church permanently in mission.”

Lawmakers seek $7.5 billion to counter China’s expansionism

By Joe Gould

Chinese troops march during a Pakistan Day military parade in Islamabad on March 23, 2017. The U.S. Congress wants to increase funding to counter Chinese influence in the Pacific. 

WASHINGTON — The U.S. should forge stronger military ties with Taiwan and add $7.5 billion in national defense spending in the Pacific region in order to counter Chinese influence in the region, according to a legislative proposal from four U.S. senators.
The bipartisan Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, or ARIA, would authorize $1.5 billion annually for five years to deter and defend against China. 
A mix of State Department and Defense Department funds would bolster the U.S. military presence and readiness in the region, improving defense infrastructure and critical munitions stockpiles.
The bill would also support regular arms sales to Taiwan, and fund the enforcement of freedom-of-navigation and overflight rights — moves to defy Beijing’s calls to keep out of the contested South China Sea.
CNBC reported this month that China had installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on three of its outposts in the South China Sea.

China’s deployment of long-range missiles to its artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea could further consolidate and enhance the country’s physical control over the region.

The bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Cory Gardner, chairs the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity. he said the idea had originally come from Senate Armed Services Committee Chair John McCain, R-Ariz., and that he would work with appropriators to see it funded.
“This is not a new concept, and this is as close as we’ve come to an Asia-Pacific security initiative,” Gardner told reporters Tuesday.
The other sponsors are the subpanel’s ranking member, Sens. Edward Markey, D-Mass.; Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Todd Young, R-Ind. 
The name of the bill recalls the European Reassurance Initiative, a pot of money to bolster European capabilities against Russia—since renamed the European Deterrence Initiative.
On Tuesday, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver and Deputy East Asian and Pacific Affairs Alex Wong, appeared before Gardner’s subpanel, where they endorsed the legislation’s goals.
“With the help of Congress and the funding provided, we’re trying to build a force that’s appropriate to the longer-term challenges with China’s military modernization program, and trying to work with allies and partners to make sure they are adequately equipped and prepared for those long-term challenges,” Schriver said.
The U.S. is already boosting allies’ maritime domain awareness and maritime capabilities. 
The bill would augment foreign military financing and international military education and training programs, both with the idea to help partners “to resist coercion and to deter and defend against security threats.”
The bill explicitly excludes Myanmar, whose military has been accused of human rights violations, and Philippine counternarcotics activities, which have been linked to extrajudicial killings

War with China and war with Russia would have some overlapping qualities, but the Pentagon needs to figure out how and where to invest to deal with both.

In written testimony, Schriver emphasized the fiscal 2019 budget proposal’s investment in joint, integrated fires to “reach inside an adversary’s anti-access and area-denial envelope with advanced, long-range munitions.”
The Pentagon’s implementation of the National Defense Strategy calls for dispersal equipment and “survivable, sustainable logistics” to help in a potential conflict with China.
Schriver said the competition with China was not only a military rivalry with the U.S. 
The U.S. is seeking to partner with all nations that respect national sovereignty, fair and reciprocal trade and the rule of law.
“It’s a competition of ideas and values and interests. I think many more countries, including the most significant and influential counties in Asia outside of China support these concepts,” Schriver said.

Colonialism with Chinese Characteristics

Chinese investment in Africa creates national economies entirely dependent on China
Independent
Gold bars are displayed at South Africa's Rand Refinery in Germiston. 

Chinese investment in Africa could be accelerating debt on the continent and creating economies which are “entirely dependent on China”, according to financial experts.
Around $86bn (£64bn) in loans were issued by China between 2000 and 2014 to finance over 3,000 infrastructure projects in Africa.
But as leaders gather in Beijing for China’s Belt and Road Summit this week, under the banner of Xi Jinping’s flagship policy, experts have warned that this level of investment may not be as rosy at it appears.
Zuneid Yousuf, from MBI Group, said: “The 10,000 state owned firms operating in China today arrive off the back of these mammoth investments, and there’s no doubting their significant positive impact in many areas.
“However, these firms come under the guise of partnership, but this rhetoric, combined with genuine short term benefits masks longer term problems.”
One of the main issues around the Chinese approach is the dangerously high levels of debt that it brings, which could prove unsustainable for growing economies.
There is also a risk that the continent becomes overly dependent on one country, which could allow it to hold an uncomfortably high level of influence.
Mr Yousuf said: “China is seeking to present itself as the new face of globalisation, an image it will work hard to portray at this week’s Belt and Road summit.
“The problem with this is that the current model of their ‘globalisation’ doesn’t so much encourage increased interaction between nations on a worldwide scale, as increased interaction with China on a worldwide scale.
The reality in Africa is a model of globalisation that works only in China’s interests.
“A far more effective model, one which would not lose the short-term benefits outlined above whilst simultaneously avoiding the pitfalls of unsustainable debt, would be to focus investment on partnerships with local businesses.
“This way there would be no need for vast government loans, and the job creation, skills development, and technology transfer would be ingrained at a local level and grow organically.”
Zambia is an interesting case study of Africa-China relations.
China is the largest foreign investor in the country, but it is often cited as an example of the limitations of Chinese investment.
The top-down, large government loan model has led to tensions.
One recent example is the problem of labour laws, and the news that Chinese investors in Zambia have been preventing labour representatives from being present at construction sites.

Taiwan slams global brands for kowtowing to China

Taiwan is calling out global brands that have bowed to Chinese pressure to treat it as just another part of China.
By Daniel Shane

Taiwan's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday berated Air Canada and Gap on Twitter, accusing the airline of buckling under pressure and the clothing retailer of sending the wrong message to the world.
The public scoldings follow recent efforts by the Chinese government to get international companies to adopt its stance on Taiwan on their websites and apps.
China considers self-governed Taiwan to be an integral part of its territory, and comes down hard on any suggestions to the contrary. 
But Taiwan's government, which is currently controlled by a pro-independence party, doesn't recognize Beijing's claims.
It's upset with Air Canada for appearing to describe Taiwan as part of China on its global website.
Air Canada's site now lists destinations in Taiwan under the designation "CN," which is shorthand for China. 
The change appeared to have been made in the past few days, based on archived versions of the carrier's website. 
It previously referred to the destinations as being in "TW," short for Taiwan.
A spokesman for the ministry told Taiwan's main news agency, CNA, on Tuesday that it had asked Canada's biggest airline to rectify the issue.
Air Canada did not respond to requests for comment outside of regular office hours. 
Canadian broadcaster CBC reported that a spokeswoman for the airline said its "policy is to comply with all requirements in all worldwide jurisdictions to which we fly."
The Chinese government recently wrote to more than 30 international airlines, including some US carriers, demanding that they change their websites to remove any information that could suggest that Taiwan, Hong Kong or Macau are not part of China.
The Air Canada spokeswoman didn't say whether the company had received a specific request from China, according to CBC.
The White House has slammed China's demands as "Orwellian nonsense," calling them "part of a growing trend by the Chinese Communist Party to impose its political views on American citizens and private companies."
In January, Delta was publicly scolded by China's aviation administrator for listing Taiwan and Tibet as countries on its Chinese website. 
The company quickly apologized and fixed the issue, drawing criticism from Taiwan.
Other big brands including Marriott and Zara have apologized for similar missteps.
Taiwan's government is unhappy with Gap for its response to an outcry in China over one of its T-shirts. 
Chinese social media users complained that the map of China on the T-shirt left out Taiwan and islands claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea.
Gap on Monday apologized for failing "to reflect the correct map of China" and said it would withdraw the T-shirt from the Chinese market.
"Disappointing to see @Gap engaged in self-criticism," Taiwan's Foreign Ministry tweeted Wednesday. 
"Such acts send the wrong message to the world."
China and Taiwan -- officially the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China, respectively -- separated in 1949 following the Communist victory on the mainland after a civil war.
They have been governed separately since, though a shared cultural and linguistic heritage mostly endures -- with Mandarin spoken as the official language in both places.