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."

China's Plan to Buy Influence and Undermine Democracy

By lavishing infrastructure dollars on illiberal governments, Beijing is supplanting American soft power.
By PHILIP HEIJMANS
Xi Jinping shakes hands with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte prior to their bilateral meeting during the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China on May 15, 2017.

Along a major tributary of the Mekong River in northeastern Cambodia sits the newly opened Lower Sesan II Dam hydropower plant. 
The 400-megawatt damwill produce badly needed electricity for the country, but at the cost of potential major ecological damage and the eviction of some 5,000 families from the area. 
Such consequences are unlikely to sink the fortunes of Hun Sen, Cambodia’s strongman leader who, for 32 years, has relied on the largesse of foreign governments to fund infrastructure projects: For this latest venture, he has China to thank for footing the more than $800-million bill.
In the past, Southeast Asian nations largely turned to the United States and its Western partners to finance such undertakings; in exchange, several of them would maintain the trappings of a democratic society. 
But under President Donald Trump, America’s waning regional influence is opening the door for China to expand its footprint in the region, even if that means Beijing must deal with illiberal, repressive autocrats seemingly determined to remain in power forever. 
“I believe I can live at least 30 more years, therefore I can continue as prime minister for 10 more years. It is not difficult for me,” the 65-year-old Hun Sen remarked at the inauguration for the dam last month.
To enhance its economic and political clout, China has made substantial inroads across Southeast Asia on the back of multi-billion-dollar infrastructure and investment deals like the one in Cambodia. This is how China will engage with the world for the foreseeable future. 
At the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China on Wednesday, a political conclave held once every five years to present the leadership’s governing agenda, Xi Jinping, arguably China’s strongest ruler in decades, will solidify his rule and reinforce an expansive foreign economic platform that will shape the region for years to come.
Such future dealings abroad are unlikely to come with any pledges toward democratization attached. In Cambodia, for example, China hasn’t slowed its investments despite Hun Sen’s crackdown on democracy and basic freedom. 
Facing vocal challenges from opposition groups ahead of next year’s general elections, he has begun actively silencing pro-democracy institutions, expelling the U.S.-funded National Democratic Institute, forcing Radio Free Asia to close its Phnom Penh office, shuttering the The Cambodia Daily, jailing opposition party leader Kem Sokha on allegedly phony charges of treason and collusion with the United States, and calling for the withdrawal of Peace Corps volunteers. 
On Monday the National Assembly moved to redistribute all of the main opposition party’s legislative seats.
“At one time, Hun Sen had to care about what the U.S. and the EU said because he was getting critical aid from them and now he is able to get all of it from China,” Murray Hiebert, senior adviser and deputy director of the Southeast Asia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told me. 
With China intent to take America’s place, “it is interesting that there is considerably less focus on democracy and rights issues.”
Hun Sen’s recent moves represent an accelerated attack on fundamental rights and a blow to Cambodia’s fragile democracy. 
They are also a piece of a larger transformation across Southeast Asia. 
Najib Razak, the prime minister of Malaysia, continues to crack down on dissent, while Thailand’s military has maintained firm control of the government since a 2014 coup, repressing opposition figures and activists in the process. 
As the military government of Burma continues its bloody persecution of the Rohingya in Rakhine State, the country’s much-lauded democratic transition under Aung San Suu Kyi has failed to live up to expectations. 
Meanwhile, in the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte continues his brutal drug war, which has claimed between 7,000 and 13,000 lives.
While these shifts towards autocracy began before last November, they have accelerated since the election of Donald Trump, who has largely offered only subdued responses to foreign crises. 
This is a far cry from the Obama administration’s attempted rebalancing strategy in Asia, which addressed rights concerns with vigor, encouraged the democratic transition in Burma, and spearheaded the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which President Trump withdrew from in January. 
That withdrawal, along with Trump’s distaste for multilateralism, “has set back U.S. economic interests in the region for the immediate future—a glaring development in light of the substantive advances in Chinese economic engagement,” the Sydney-based Lowy Institute published in an August report on U.S.-Sino relations in Southeast Asia.
China’s aggressive economic approach abroad has been a hallmark of China’s “Go Out” policy, which Xi Jinping has pursued vigorously since he became the leader of China in November 2012. Since the days of Mao Zedong, China has sought to deconstruct what it views as an illegitimate international order led by the West. 
But it lacked the political stature and resources to do so, until an economic revival starting in 1989 saw an injection of trillions of dollars on near double-digit annual GDP growth
Under Xi, the country pursued a national renaissance and sought to expand its influence abroad through a gradual buildup of soft power. 
Case in point: China’s mammoth $1-trillion economic corridor through Eurasia unveiled in 2013.
Closer to home, Chinese foreign direct investment in the six largest economies in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was expected to reach about $16 billion in 2016, according to Swiss bank Credit Suisse. 
China already accounts for 30 percent of all FDI into Thailand, and 20 percent into Malaysia, and is poised to supplant the United States as the largest investor in the Philippines this year. 
China has also used the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank—a rival to the U.S.-backed World Bank and International Finance Corporation—to extend an additional $1.73 billion in loans in the Asia-Pacific last year alone.
Such deals boost economic conditions throughout the region, and help its leaders solidify their political footing, while buying Beijing influence. 
They also help smooth over larger conflicts. 
After visiting China in October 2016, Duterte returned home with $24 billion in funding and investment pledges; afterwards, diplomatic relations were restored, following longstanding territory disputes in the South China Sea. 
The case for growing Chinese influence in Cambodia is even more clear. 
Between 1994 and 2014, China accounted for up to 44 percent of the $19.2 billion in FDI Cambodia received, according to official data. 
Last year, Cambodia blocked ASEAN from unilaterally condemning China over its territorial claims in the South China Sea dispute.
Even Burma has once again become a base for Chinese private investment, including in a $7.3-billion deep-water port and a $2.3-billion oil and gas pipeline in crisis-hit Rakhine State. 
This is a sharp reversal for a country that, since it embarked on democratic reforms in 2010, has exercised caution when engaging with China.
The rise of China’s economic influence in the region, paired with diminished U.S. criticism on human-rights issues, has helped pave the way for a hardline agenda among regional governments, who also now stand to benefit from playing two of the world’s major superpowers off each other. 
For example: Following brash anti-U.S. rhetoric, Duterte ran a successful campaign to draw financial incentives from Beijing. 
But he has since dismissed his disdain as “water under the bridge,” earning him a meeting with President Trump in November.
Despite the near-universal condemnation of the extrajudicial killings carried out on Duterte’s watch, in May, China praised him for his “remarkable achievements” in promoting “human rights” and urged the world to support his government’s sovereignty—which, for Xi, seems to indicate his government’s willingness to tolerate such atrocities so long as it can rack up political points.
China has also repeatedly offered similar support to the Burmese government, saying last month at the UN that it “understands and supports” its efforts to protect its national security in Rakhine State. Meanwhile, harsh criticism from members of the international community could actually be driving Burma back into China’s arms after the Obama administration worked to cultivate influence there. “Such criticism from the West must be music to the ears of Chinese security planners, who are rattled by Burma’s recent drift from a close relationship with China toward improved ties with the West,” Burma expert Bertil Lintner wrote for YaleGlobal University online last month
By contrast, Trump has yet to make any direct public statements on the Rohingya crisis.
Trump has also sent mixed signals on his tolerance for allegedly corruptible players after separately hosting Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha and Najib Razak at the White House. 
The Malaysian prime minister is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for diverting $3.5 billion in state funds.
But while China is expected to further solidify Xi’s foreign policy approach at the national congress, it is worth noting how such deals have come to fruition. 
Much like the Lower Sesan II Dam in Cambodia, other deals abroad have been repeatedly criticized for their blatant disregard of human rights, their opacity, and for their tendency towards unsavory partnerships—in this case, 45 percent of the dam project is owned by Cambodia’s Royal Group, which is headed by notorious tycoon Kith Meng
Many of those infrastructure deals have also been criticized for entailing lofty demands that include major land concessions, multi-decade build-operate-transfer contracts, and guarantees for Chinese contractors.
“China’s propensity for coopting, pressuring, and even bullying Southeast Asia’s rulers is creating potentially double-edged swords for Beijing,” Donald Emmerson, director of the Southeast Asia Forum at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University, told me. 
“A corrupt, entrenched local elite can be bought into alignment with China, as has happened in Cambodia. But, such cronyism can prompt opposition from civil society actors who are thereby more likely to blame China for local exploitation and repression, as has happened in Myanmar.”

Forget Marx and Mao. Chinese City Honors Once-Banned Confucian.

By IAN JOHNSON

The city of Guiyang has led a Chinese revival of interest in Wang Yangming, a 16th-century Confucian scholar, with attractions including a park devoted to him.

GUIYANG, China — Nearly 500 years after he died, the Chinese philosopher Wang Yangming once again wielded a calligraphy brush, carefully daubed it into a tray of black ink and elegantly wrote out his most famous phrase: “the unity of knowledge and action.”
A crowd murmured its approval as his assistant held up the paper for all to see.
“I respect Wang Yangming from the bottom of my heart!” blurted Cao Lin, 69, a retiree.
Watching the scene unfold was Zhou Ying, who manages Wang — or at least a very realistic robot that not only looks like Wang but is able to imitate his calligraphy and repeat more than 1,000 of his aphorisms.
“This is exactly what we’re hoping to achieve with the robot,” Ms. Zhou said as Wang began writing another saying. 
“We feel this is a way to get people interested in these old ideas.”
Promoting these old ideas has been a priority for Xi Jinping, who has rekindled enthusiasm for traditional culture as part of a broader push to fill what many Chinese see as their country’s biggest problem: a spiritual void caused by its headlong pursuit of prosperity.
And when China’s most powerful leader in 40 years endorses a philosopher, even a long-dead Confucian one, people rush to take action.
The epicenter of Wang’s revival has been this city of four million people perched on a plateau in China’s mountainous south. 
When Wang spent three years in exile here in the early 16th century, Guiyang was a remote outpost on imperial China’s southern border.
Today, as the capital of one of China’s poorest provinces, it has high-speed rail service to the coast and is trying to position itself as a center of big data— and traditional culture.
Since Xi began promoting the philosopher three years ago, officials in and around Guiyang have built a Wang Yangming-themed park, constructed a museum to showcase his achievements, turned a small cave into a shrine in his honor and, yes, commissioned a robot to bring him to life.

In honor of Wang, Guiyang has built a museum, a park and even a robot that looks like him, and that replicates his calligraphy. 

“It’s a way to promote moral behavior in society as a whole,” said Larry Israel, a scholar at Middle Georgia State University in Macon who has written about the revival.
Restoring a sense of public morality has been a policy goal of Xi, who is set to be reappointed as Communist Party leader at the party’s 19th congress starting Wednesday.
In his efforts to address the country’s spiritual shortcomings, Xi has spoken favorably of Confucius, praised Buddhism and presided over a revival of traditional religious practices that were once condemned as superstitious.
But he has seemed most comfortable praising the life and works of Wang Yangming.
Born in 1472, Wang was a scholar with a promising career in the imperial court in Beijing when, in 1506, he spoke out against the cruelty of a well-known courtier. 
That offense earned him banishment to faraway Guiyang.
During his years here, Wang ran a post house on the edge of town. 
That gave him time to meditate on the philosophical problem that would define his legacy: understanding how people know right from wrong. 
His conclusion: People have an inborn conscience that they must act upon, regardless of the consequences.

The philosopher’s calligraphy, as replicated by the robot. Wang is at the center of a new propaganda drive by Xi Jinping, China’s strongest leader in decades. 

It was this advocacy of moral action that apparently appeals to Xi, who has cracked down on vice and corruption within the party’s ranks. 
Xi frequently refers to Wang, who regained favor in 1509, and then loyally served the emperor as a military leader who quashed a rebellion.
However, some see Wang, with his emphasis on following one’s internal moral compass, as a risky thinker for an authoritarian state to embrace.
“Wang Yangming can pave the way for a philosophy of autonomy — that standards don’t come from outside. that they are inner,” said Sébastien Billioud, co-author of a recent book on Confucian thought in today’s China
“And of course autonomy is always dangerous for authoritarian regimes.
During the first decades of communist rule, Wang’s works were banned as “bourgeois.” 
Even into the 1990s, it was still risky to talk about him at academic conferences.
“We held small private meetings” to discuss Wang, recalled Zhang Xinmin, a philosophy professor at Guizhou University on the city’s outskirts. 
“We were monitored the whole time,” he said.

The cave where Wang lived near Guiyang. Xi hopes Wang’s philosophy will fill a moral void in an increasingly wealthy China.

The ban on Wang began to lift around 2000 with a revival in the popularity of Confucian studies. Then, in 2014, Xi explicitly told local leaders to promote Wang’s thoughts. 
Suddenly, Wang Yangming was China’s hottest philosopher since Marx.
“It was completely unexpected,” Professor Zhang said.
Wang’s rehabilitation has turned Guiyang into a hive of activity. 
One reason is that until a recent promotion, the province was led by one of Xi’s protégés, Chen Min’er.
Chen’s loyalty is on display at the Guiyang Confucius Academy, a vast complex of museums, fountains, dioramas and lecture halls on the city’s outskirts. 
When it opened in 2013, it made little mention of Wang. 
But now there is a museum devoted to him nearly as big as the hall to Confucius himself.
“Both Uncle Xi and Chen Min’er love him,” said Xu Qi, the party official in charge of the museum.
Guiyang’s embrace of Wang can also show how much work Xi still has before him.
On the city’s north side is the Yangming Cave, where Wang taught and whose name he adopted as his own. (His name at birth was Wang Shouren.) 
The cave is now encircled by a cultural park that is the centerpiece of a 600-acre real estate project of luxury high-rises and malls.
A senior local official, who asked not to be identified because of the delicacy of the issue, said the project was being investigated for corruption. 
When asked what he intended to do about it, however, his answer didn’t seem exactly in keeping with Wang’s advocacy of independent moral action.
“We are waiting,” he said, “until after the 19th Party congress to see how to proceed.”

mercredi 18 octobre 2017

Compulsive lying: Anger as Chinese claim harassment is just a western problem

State newspaper says China does not have Harvey Weinstein-type predators because ‘men are taught to be protective of women’
By Benjamin Haas in Hong Kong

China’s flagship English newspaper has come under fire over the publication of a commentary claiming the type of sexual harassment perpetrated by Harvey Weinstein could never happen in China because of its cultural traditions.
Critics reacted swiftly and furiously to the article in the state-run China Daily, with many women saying they had been sexually harassed in China or pointing to prominent examples, many of which have previously gone viral.
Chinese state media often works to portray problems in the west as nonexistent in China, highlighting cases of police brutality, mass protests and high-profile cases of violence against women overseas. Crises abroad are often contrasted with positive domestic news, a key pillar of China’s propaganda machine.
As the hashtag #MeToo spread on social media around the world and women shared stories of their own experiences, the opinion piece written by a male Canadian-Egyptian teacher previously resident in China claimed the country faced no such issues.
The China Daily commentary said harassment was less common in China compared with western countries because “Chinese men are taught to be protective of their women. Behaving inappropriately toward women, including harassing them sexually, contradicts every Chinese traditional value and custom.” 
There’s the pervasive misogyny in Chinese society, and then add to that this huge government crackdown on feminism, so any women who wants to come forward needs to take a huge risk,” said Leta Hong Fincher, the author of a forthcoming book entitled Betraying Big Brother: China’s Feminist Resistance.
“There’s also state media aggressively pushing traditional gender norms, where women are supposed to play these roles of a good wife and good mother who should be preparing themselves to have babies.”

More than a third of university students polled in one study said they had experienced sexual violence or harassment, and up to 70% of female factory workers in the southern city of Guangzhou said they had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, according to a 2013 study by China Labour Bulletin.
Up to 70% of female factory workers in Guangzhou said they had experienced sexual harassment at work. 


Others said the toxic environment that exists in Hollywood was pervasive in China.
Christoph Rehage, a film-maker who attended the Beijing Film Academy, wrote on Twitter:

Five feminist activists were detained on the eve of International Women’s Day in 2015 for planning to distribute leaflets on sexual harassment.
Speaking about China, it’s very common in the workplace to use the power of a superior position in a coercive way that leads to sexual harassment,” said Xiong Jing, the executive director of the NGO Feminist Voice.
“Media coverage on gender topics is very important, hearing the voice of the victims is very important and this is how the entire community will become more aware of sexual harassment.”
The problem was made worse, Xiong said, because many women were afraid or ashamed of telling their stories and neither the government and nor quasi-government NGO All China Women’s Federation collected statistics.
China enacted its first domestic violence law in 2015, but critics say the legislation’s key power of issuing restraining orders is not being correctly implemented. 
Chinese police resisted investigating cases of domestic assault for years, claiming it was a family matter.

Chinese Peril

Chinese indicted on illegal drug manufacturing
By Sadie Gurman

Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Administrator Robert Patterson, center, accompanied by Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Joanne Grace Crampton, left, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, right, speaks at a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, to announce the indictments of two Chinese fentanyl trackers in the fight against opiate substances from entering the United States.

WASHINGTON — Two Chinese nationals have been indicted on charges they manufactured tons of fentanyl and other powerful narcotics that were then peddled in the United States, killing at least four people and seriously injuring five others, Justice Department officials announced Tuesday.
Authorities said the men controlled one of the most prolific Chinese drug-trafficking organizations, but with no extradition treaty with China, the chances are slim they will ever be brought to the U.S. to face the charges.
The men, who are not in custody, are accused of separately running chemical labs in China that produced the drug and other illegal opioids for sale online to Americans who were often unaware of its potency and susceptible to overdose. 
At least 21 other people were also indicted on charges they trafficked the drugs across the U.S. and Canada, often through the U.S. mail.
The announcement comes as the Trump administration suffered a setback in its efforts to call attention to the nation’s drug crisis. 
Its nominee to be the nation’s drug czar withdrew Tuesday from consideration following reports that he played a key role in weakening the federal government’s authority to stop companies from distributing opioids.
It also comes amid growing pressure on Donald Trump to fulfill his pledge to declare the nation’s opioid epidemic a “national emergency,” as a commission he’s convened on the subject has urged him to do. 
An initial report from the commission in July noted that the approximate 142 deaths each day from drug overdoses mean the death toll is “equal to September 11th every three weeks.”
A sign of White House interest in the issue, presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway quietly attended Tuesday’s news conference at the Justice Department.
Robert W. Patterson, acting administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said the Chinese case represents “one of the most significant drug threats facing the country” because they were able to produce a wide array of synthetic drugs and hide their tracks with web-based sales, international shipments and digital currencies like bitcoin.
The Chinese men indicted were Xiaobang Yan, 40, and Jian Zhang, 38, who worked separately but similarly, authorities said.
Yan, who operated at least two chemical plants in China that were capable of producing tons of fentanyl, would monitor drug legislation and law enforcement actions in the U.S., changing the chemical structure of his drugs to avoid prosecution, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said. A 2013 traffic stop in Mississippi unearthed a domestic drug ring linked to Yan.
Zhang, along with five Canadians, two people from Florida and New Jersey man, were indicted in North Dakota for conspiracy to import the drugs from Canada and China
Prosecutors say Zhang ran at least four labs and sold the drug to American customers online. Investigators became aware of him after police officers responded to a deadly overdose in Grand Forks, North Dakota and traced the supply chain, officials said.
Rosenstein, who discussed the problem with Chinese officials last week during a high-level dialogue on law enforcement and cybersecurity, would not say whether the labs have been shut down. 
He said he was hopeful Chinese authorities would hold the men accountable.
Federal authorities are increasingly warning of the dangers of fentanyl, which can be lethal even in small amounts and is often laced with other dangerous drugs. 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that more than 20,000 Americans were killed by the drug and its analogues in 2016, and the number is rising, Rosenstein said.

lundi 16 octobre 2017

Chinese Government intrusion into Western universities sparks push for collective action

  • Five Eyes partners considering collective response to Chinese interference
  • Head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade warns Australian universities needed to be resilient
  • Australia is taking a leading role in the discussions
By Andrew Greene

The fear of Chinese Government intrusion into Western universities is sparking a push by Australia's closest allies for a more coordinated response to Beijing's aggressive tactics.
Having observed attacks on academic freedoms in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — discussions have begun in diplomatic and security circles about whether the Five Eyes intelligence partners should respond collectively to the threat, so there are no "weak links" which can be exploited.
So far nothing formal has been proposed but senior national security figures have told the ABC Australia is taking a "leading role" in publicly highlighting the situation.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Frances Adamson warned Australian universities needed to be resilient to Chinese interference.

The concerns over China's activities were brought starkly into focus last week in a rare public speech by the head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Frances Adamson, who warned Australian universities needed to be resilient to Chinese interference.
"The silencing of anyone in our society from students to lecturers to politicians is an affront to our values," Ms Adamson told the Confucius Institute at Adelaide University.
Her contribution has been noted by senior government figures and the diplomatic community as a deliberate and important acknowledgement of the gravity of the situation.
Ms Adamson's intervention is the latest in a series of tougher statements from Australian officials condemning Beijing's activities, which began with the Prime Minister's comments on the South China Sea during the Shangri-La dialogue in June.
"Australia is giving China what it wants in terms of education for its students — so it's time for the Federal Government to insist the Chinese comply with Australia's values and interests," a senior foreign diplomatic figure told the ABC.
The Canberra based diplomat concedes any move by Australia to clamp down on Chinese interference would need to be matched by other Five Eyes intelligence partners who compete heavily to attract the same international students to their universities.
One of the most senior national security figures in Australia says there is now a "like mindedness and shared understanding" among Five Eyes allies of how China's pervasive and subversive influence has penetrated into each nation.
Earlier this year a Four Corners investigation revealed the extent of influence by the Chinese Communist Party on international students studying in Australia.
Last year security concerns were raised over plans to install Chinese-owned technology on a powerful supercomputer used by government agencies and Australian universities.

International experience
United States
According to the New York Times over 300,000 Chinese nationals now study at US colleges, more than five times the number recorded a decade ago.
Chinese Students and Scholars Associations have drawn criticism for their on-campus activities in trying to silence groups whose views do not align with Beijing's.

United Kingdom

In August Cambridge University Press announced it would reinstate online journal articles critical of Beijing which it had blocked in China at the request of the Communist government.
The incident has highlighted the pressure exerted on British academic institutions by the Chinese Government.

New Zealand

The smallest of the Five Eyes intelligence partners is seen by analysts as a "soft" target for Beijing's growing "soft power" diplomacy.
Diplomatic figures believe China's interference on New Zealand campuses is similar to the tactics employed in Australia.

Australia's Chinese Fifth Column

Julie Bishop steps up warning to Chinese students on Communist Party rhetoric
By Andrew Greene and Stephen Dziedzic
Ms Bishop said freedom of speech was crucial for all those living in or visiting Australia.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has issued a blunt warning to Chinese university students affiliated with the Communist Party, urging them to respect freedom of speech in Australia.
There are mounting anxieties about the way the Chinese Government uses student groups to monitor Chinese students in Australia, and to challenge academics whose views do not align with Beijing's.
Australia's security agencies are now pushing allies — including the US, the UK, Canada and New Zealand — to hammer out a collective strategy to resist Chinese Government intrusions into Western universities.
Ms Bishop said Australia welcomed international students, but added that people came to study in Australia because of its "openness and freedom".
"This country prides itself on its values of openness and upholding freedom of speech, and if people want to come to Australia they are our laws," Ms Bishop said.
"That's who we are. And they should abide by it."
Earlier this year a Four Corners investigation revealed the extent of influence by the Chinese Communist Party on international students studying in Australia.
The issue came into sharp focus earlier this month, after the head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Frances Adamson, warned Australian universities they need to be resilient to foreign interference.
The Foreign Minister backed Ms Adamson's comments, and said freedom of speech was crucial.
"We want to ensure that everyone has the advantage of expressing their views whether they are at university or whether they are visitors," Ms Bishop said.
"We don't want to see freedom of speech curbed in any way involving foreign students or foreign academics."
One of the most senior national security figures in Australia says there is now a "like mindedness and shared understanding" among Five Eyes allies of how China's influence has penetrated universities.
And Australia's intelligence and diplomatic organisations are increasingly concerned about the way the Chinese government uses student groups to push its agenda.
"Australia is giving China what it wants in terms of education for its students — so it's time for the Federal Government to insist the Chinese comply with Australia's values and interests," one senior foreign diplomatic figure told the ABC.

The Reason China Has Built a Massive Military

By Harry J. Kazianis

Over several years in this publication, I have been exploring the dynamics of the budding U.S.-China security dilemma—a high-tech drama pitting anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) against what we used to refer to as Air-Sea Battle (ASB)—and have offered several different ways to lessen the possibility of such a dynamic from becoming cemented into the Asia-Pacific’s security architecture
However, China’s development and implementation of A2/AD clearly has various origins. 
One such origin that deserves to be explored is the China’s subjugation at the hands of various colonial powers.
In many respects, China is trying to solve a centuries-old problem that never went away: how to defeat in battle military forces that are at least in a symmetrical sense superior to its own and will be for some time to come. 
If we alter our perspective and take a much longer view of Beijing’s own military obsolescence, a strategy that emphasizes anti-access makes tremendous sense. 
According to Admiral Wu Shengli, former commander of the PLA Navy, “in China’s modern history, imperialist and colonists initiated more than 470 invasions of China, including 84 large ones, from the sea.” 
If China’s military were to deter or halt the deployment of superior military forces into areas of Chinese territory or areas Beijing perceives as a core interest, another period of what leaders in China might see as a new form of subjugation could theoretically be avoided. 
A2/AD allows Beijing to compete with the United States asymmetrically—an important point when one thinks through how many years away China is from competing with America ship for ship or plane for plane.
The following serves as an account of what many Chinese consider their own historical nightmare at the hands of foreign forces and why A2/AD would protect China from being subjugated yet again.

A Lost Opportunity

There are several events in Chinese history that mainland scholars, politicians and academics point to that weakened the collective power of the Chinese nation and diminished its global standing for generations. 
Critical transitions from cold-weapon warfare (knives or blunt striking instruments) to hot-weapon warfare (such as guns and firepower) and from hot-weapon warfare to mechanized warfare (tanks, armored naval vessels, airplanes and so on) were lost opportunities to transform the military establishment into a modern fighting force.
The consequences were shocking
When well-armed Western powers forced their way into China two centuries ago, the Chinese were defenseless, thanks to obsolete technology. 
When Western powers developed mechanized weapons during and after World War II, China was in the midst of internal turmoil and suffered from foreign invasion (i.e., the Chinese Civil War and Japanese invasion); it did not have the capacity to keep up with the devel­opments of new military technology.

“Century of Humiliation” Begins: The First Opium War

Numerous current Chinese scholars speak of China’s “century of humiliation” or subjugation by various powers that led, according to their line of argument, to the loss of China's great-power status, loss of territory, and in many respects, national sovereignty. 
Defeat on the battlefield marked the beginning of this century of loss and humiliation. 
The first major military loss at the hands of Western powers that had wide-ranging repercussions for China and large parts of the Asia-Pacific was its defeat at the hands of the British during the First Opium War (1839-1842). 
As scholar Richard Harris explained: “The Chinese have one very broad generalization about their own history: they think in terms of ‘up to the Opium war’ and ‘after the Opium war’; in other words, a century of humiliation and weakness to be expunged.”
The consequences of the conflict—China’s crushing defeat—were felt far and wide. 
Beijing’s geostrategic position in Asia was weakened dramatically. 
China’s military was crushed in a series of defeats by a vastly smaller, but technologically superior, British force. 
Chinese military technology, tactics and strategy were not on par with the West’s. 
This defeat sparked the first of what has been referred to as the “unequal treaties.” 
Five ports were opened to foreign traders, and the British colony at Hong Kong was founded (which would not be returned until 1997).

The Sino-Japanese War

A second military defeat, this time at the hands of Japan, during the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895, also had wide-reaching consequences for Beijing. 
For several decades, Japan and China had spared in various domains—largely political and diplomatic—over control and influence on the Korean Peninsula. 
For China, Korea had been a vassal state, having been heavily influenced by Chinese culture. 
Japan, having undertaken a massive effort to Westernize under the Meiji Restoration, was undertaking efforts to bring Korea under its sphere of influence. 
Both nations were actively pursuing efforts to modernize their armed forces.
While a larger study of the conflict has been done across many formats and is beyond the scope of this article, the war and its aftermath are of extreme importance. 
Japan would defeat China convincingly, most importantly at the Battle of the Yalu, an important naval victory. 
While China had by this time been clearly passed by Western powers and had lost considerable stature and territory, to now be defeated by a neighboring Asian nation-state was even more humiliating. 
Korea would be declared free of Chinese influence and placed effectively under Japanese control. China would be forced to pay large reparations to Japan. 
Tokyo would also receive the Liaodong Peninsula, which it was forced to give up, due to Western pressure.

A Chaotic 1930s, Civil War and World War II

A series of events from the early 1930s until the eventual victory of Mao’s communists in 1949, establishing the People’s Republic of China, would also have a lasting effect on today’s China. 
While each event is worthy of its own larger study, a narrow focus will be utilized for the purposes of this article.
In 1931, Japan occupied the Chinese territory of Manchuria, creating a puppet state named Manchukuo. 
In 1937, tensions flared once more when an incident at the Marco Polo Bridge would become the catalyst for full-scale war between China and Japan. 
Both nations waged a bloody conflict until the end of World War II in 1945. 
Large sections of Chinese territory were held by Japan, and vast areas of Chinese commerce, industry and farmland were destroyed. 
China was also in the midst of a civil war from 1927 until 1937, which was halted to combat the Japanese invasion. 
The civil war resumed in 1946, when China once again suffered severe losses. 
The Kuomintang or KMT under Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan in 1949. 
The status of Taiwan to this day has yet to be resolved and is a major factor in Chinese strategic thinking on A2/AD.
China suffered dearly during this period of its history. 
Countless lives were lost during Japan's invasion and during the civil war. 
Even though almost seven decades have passed since the end of World War II, Chinese and Japanese emotions on the subject are considerably heated, serving as a source of tension, which drags on positive bilateral relations.
Such a tumultuous period of Chinese history would have far and wide repercussions on the Chinese people, its collective sense of history and its national psyche. 
Chinese scholars have debated for several decades the role of such a period when thinking about its place in today’s international order. 
During this century, China would have to redefine itself, its place in the global order, its place in Asia and its own sense of history. 
As one scholar notes: "China had to redraw its world map: where it had for millennia sat comfortably at the center of a ring of tributary relationships with neighboring countries, it now found itself a weak competitor in a world of dozens or even hundreds of nation-states. Where Chinese rulers and intellectuals had before had little concept of an international arena, they now had to grapple with the notion that there existed a global system of power relationships whose dynamics – though almost entirely out of China’s control – would determine her fate".

Chinese History: Chinese A2/AD?

As noted by many analysts (including myself), Chinese A2/AD strategy seeks to target selected perceived weaknesses in U.S. military technology, force structure and strategic doctrine—all while not having to match U.S. forces in all combat domains. 
At present, even though China possesses the second-largest economy in the world, it still does not have the economic or technological base to challenge America in a symmetrical military matchup. What China can do is devise an asymmetric strategy that is designed to inflict maximum damage on American forces if they were to intervene militarily close to China’s perceived interests along its coasts and out towards the first island chain.
History clearly shows us China has suffered from technological obsolescence on the battlefield for some time—allowing various nations to take advantage. 
A century of humiliation has taught Chinese planners that to allow military forces to be able to approach the coast and be able to build up forces for a possible attack invites strategic weakness and possible subjugation by foreign powers. 
Beijing does not feel it has the luxury of time to wait for the development of a first-class military if it were challenged by Washington or another great power. 
A2/AD solves an age-old problem for China and might just be able to at least deter America and others from possible infringement on China's core interests. 
And if history is any guide, it seems clear that is exactly the outcome Beijing wants.

samedi 14 octobre 2017

Financing Chinese Dictators

President Trump Takes Aim at World Bank Over China Loans
BY BETHANY ALLEN-EBRAHIMIAN

The Manchurian Korean: Jim Yong Kim

This week, the Donald Trump administration took aim at the World Bank, refusing to pony up more money for development projects because the bank lends so much money to China
That could serve to turbocharge China’s own efforts to craft an alternative to Western-led development banks.
For two years, the World Bank has been trying to get member countries to subscribe to a capital increase for its development unit, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and hoped to reach a deal this week during the annual meeting in Washington. 
But the U.S. Treasury won’t back the move.
“The bottom line here is right now we’ve got too high a percentage of the World Bank’s balance sheet that’s going to countries and to projects that already have ample borrowing capacity,” a senior Treasury official told Reuters, which noted that China is the IBRD’s biggest recipient of development loans, totaling $2.4 billion.
The Treasury official suggested that poor countries should use their own limited money or turn to the private sector, instead of seeking the development aid that has traditionally been disbursed as part of the World Bank’s poverty-reduction mission.
“To fund development needs, there needs to be renewed focus on domestic resource mobilization and engagement in private sector development,” the official told Reuters.
By tying funding to the World Bank’s China portfolio, former Treasury official Scott Morris told the Financial Times, the Trump administration is essentially “picking a direct fight with China.”
The United States has what amounts to veto power over the World Bank’s efforts to raise fresh capital. 
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, who had requested the capital increase, disagreed with Treasury’s decision.
“For me the rationale for us working in China is quite clear: Not only are we helping them along the development path but the lessons we learn in China are very helpful to our work in other developing countries,” Kim said on Thursday.
By pushing the bank to further exclude China from Western-dominated lending institutions, the U.S. government will only hasten Beijing’s tendency to establish and strengthen parallel organizations beyond Western influence. 
Stung by years of Western refusal to alter voting rights in the World Bank to reflect China’s increased economic heft on the global stage, Beijing in 2015 launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
Headquartered in Beijing, the AIIB seeks to meet the massive need for infrastructure in Asia — and has more capital than the World Bank. 
The United States declined AIIB membership, while its efforts to prevent Western allies from joining the bank failed.
Until this week, the World Bank had largely escaped the censure that President Donald Trump has directed at other prominent international organizations.
Trump entered office intent on abandoning or renegotiating any commitment which he viewed as a “bad deal” for the American people. 
President Trump has disparaged the United Nations, torpedoed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, threatened to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and withdrawn the United States from UNESCO and the Paris climate agreement.
On Friday, he threatened to blow up the 2015 nuclear deal unless Congress gets tougher with Iran.
In keeping with Trump’s “America First” platform, the president’s 2018 budget request also envisioned massive cuts to U.S. foreign aid, essentially discarding America’s 70-year tradition of assistance to developing and low-income nations. 
Congress rejected most of the cuts.
As both a conduit of development aid and a global multilateral organization, the World Bank makes an easy target for administration critics who want to ensure that any organization receiving U.S. support also backs U.S. interests.
Kim had already made overtures to the Trump administration, perhaps out of a desire to gain its backing. 
In May, the World Bank collaborated with the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump to set up the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, with President Trump offering $50 million in funding for the project.
But by tying funding to the World Bank’s China portfolio, former Treasury official Scott Morris told the Financial Times that the Trump administration was essentially “picking a direct fight with China.”

Fake Science: Nation of Cheaters

Fraud Scandals Sap China’s Dream of Becoming a Science Superpower
By AMY QIN

A plastic surgery procedure at a hospital in Shanghai in August. Under Xi Jinping, China has set a goal of becoming “a global scientific and technology power” by 2049.

BEIJING — Having conquered world markets and challenged American political and military leadership, China has set its sights on becoming a global powerhouse in a different field: scientific research. 
It now has more laboratory scientists than any other country, outspends the entire European Union on research and development, and produces more scientific articles than any other nation except the United States.
But in its rush to dominance, China has stood out in another, less boastful way. 
Since 2012, the country has retracted more scientific papers because of faked peer reviews than all other countries and territories put together, according to Retraction Watch, a blog that tracks and seeks to publicize retractions of research papers.
Now, a recent string of high-profile scandals over questionable or discredited research has driven home the point in China that to become a scientific superpower, it must first overcome a festering problem of systemic fraud.
“China wants to become a global leader in science,” said Zhang Lei, a professor of applied physics at Xi’an Jiaotong University. 
“But how do you achieve that and still preserve the quality of science? We still haven’t figured out how to do that yet.”
In April, a scientific journal retracted 107 biology research papers, the vast majority of them written by Chinese authors, after evidence emerged that they had faked glowing reviews of their articles. 
Then, this summer, a Chinese gene scientist who had won celebrity status for breakthroughs once trumpeted as Nobel Prize-worthy was forced to retract his research when other scientists failed to replicate his results.
At the same time, a government investigation highlighted the existence of a thriving online black market that sells everything from positive peer reviews to entire research articles.
Xi Jinping, whose leadership is expected to be reaffirmed at a Communist Party congress that begins next week, has stated his goal of turning China into “a global scientific and technology power” by 2049. 
But the revelations have been a setback to this effort.
Worried that its economy is still too dependent on low-end manufacturing, the government is investing hundreds of billions of dollars in developing high-tech industries like semiconductors, solar panels, artificial intelligence, medical technologies and electric cars.
China has built extensive infrastructure across the country, with roads, railroads, ports and bridges that exhibit enviable engineering prowess. 
But it has also endured problems of piracy and poor quality that have plagued its economic rise, blemishing what has been an otherwise dramatic entry into the ranks of the world’s leading scientific nations.
China has made inroads partly because of its willingness to invest in new research at a time when such spending has stagnated in countries like the United States and Japan. 
The government in Beijing has poured the equivalent of billions of dollars into new projects in order to catch up with the West in producing original research, and also reverse decades of scientific brain drain by luring home top Western-trained Chinese researchers.

Many Chinese universities offer generous research grants and salary bonuses to faculty who get published in prestigious scientific journals. 

“The state needs the strategic support of science and technology more urgently than any other time in the past,” Xi said last year in announcing the 2049 goal
“The situation that our country is under others’ control in core technologies of key fields has not changed.”
Now there are worries that persistent problems of academic fraud and lax standards exposed by the recent scandals could slow China’s ascent.
Fraud is especially widespread in Chinese academic institutions, as seen in the large number of retracted articles and faked peer reviews.
In part, these numbers may simply reflect the enormous scale of the world’s most populous nation. But Chinese scientists also blame what they call the skewed incentives they say are embedded within their nation’s academic system.
Career advancement is often based more on the quantity of research papers published rather than the quality. 
In China, this obsession with numerical goal posts can reach extremes. 
Compounding the problem is the fact that Chinese universities and research institutes suffer from a lack of oversight, and mete out weak punishments for those who are caught cheating.
Put these together and the result is an academic system that is willing to wink at ethical lapses.
“In America, if you purposely falsify data, then your career in academia is over,” Professor Zhang said. 
But in China, the cost of cheating is very low. They won’t fire you. You might not get promoted immediately, but once people forget, then you might have a chance to move up.”
Some scientists say China’s overemphasis on numerical measures of success can be seen in its almost single-minded focus on the Science Citation Index, or S.C.I. 
This index is used to assign an “impact factor” score to scientific journals, which ranks their importance in part by counting how many times their articles are cited in other papers.
Getting an article published in a high-ranking journal can lead to career promotions and monetary rewards. 
Many Chinese universities offer hefty research grants and salary bonuses to faculty members who get published in journals with high impact factors. 
In June, Sichuan Agricultural University in Ya’an awarded a group of researchers about $2 million in funding after members got a paper published in the academic journal Cell.
“Everything revolves around the S.C.I.,” said Chen Li, a professor in the medical school at Fudan University in Shanghai. 
He and other scientists compared Chinese academia’s obsession with this numerical index to the government’s fixation on gross domestic product as a measure of economic success.
“Sometimes we joke that to evaluate faculty in China, all you need is a primary school kid who can do addition,” Professor Chen said. 
“Just add up the impact factors of the different journals.”

A hospital staff member taking materials to a laboratory. Recent academic scandals have blemished what has been an otherwise dramatic entry by China into the ranks of the world’s leading scientific nations.

One result has been increasingly elaborate schemes for getting papers into prestigious journals. 
These include the use of faked peer reviews, a practice that came under strict scrutiny following the retraction of 107 biology papers last spring — the largest such mass retraction by a single journal in history. 
Many of those authors were clinical doctors, who in China face intense pressure to publish.
They took advantage of the fact that many scholarly journals rely on evaluations by other scientists in the same field in deciding whether to publish a paper. 
Some journals — including Tumor Biology, which retracted the 107 articles — go so far as to ask the authors themselves to suggest peers to write these reviews, a fact that critics say opened the door to fraud.
In Tumor Biology’s case, government investigators found that many of the authors had submitted the names of real researchers, but with fabricated email addresses
This apparently allowed the authors, or more often writers hired by the authors, to pose as academic peers, and write positive reviews that would help get their own papers published.
According to an investigation led by the country’s Ministry of Science and Technology, Chinese researchers used such methods to manipulate the peer-review process in 101 out of the 107 retracted articles. 
In many cases, government investigators said authors had gone online to hire people to write professional-sounding reviews.
A recent search revealed a teeming, illicit trade in faked peer reviews. 
A search for the term “help publishing papers” on Taobao, a popular Chinese e-commerce site, yielded a long list of sellers who offered services ranging from faked peer reviews to entire scientific papers already written and ready to submit. 
Depending on the service, they charge from a few hundred dollars up to $10,000.
“We have helped professors of all backgrounds,” one seller wrote through Taobao’s chat function. “Don’t worry, we’ll keep it a secret.”
Fang Shimin, a prominent muckraking blogger, said: “The fraud techniques have become more sophisticated. They’re not as easy to uncover.”
Over all, experts say, there are signs that the academic environment in China is improving. 
Plagiarism appears to be in decline thanks to new detection tools, and Chinese-born researchers returning from universities overseas have brought back best practices, helping to raise ethical standards.
But the pressure to produce original, groundbreaking research remains. 
Many say that appears to have been the case with Han Chunyu, a scientist at Hebei University of Science and Technology who made a big splash last year by claiming that he had found a new way to edit human genes — a technique that could one day make it possible to eliminate hereditary diseases, or allow parents to tailor their unborn children’s height or I.Q.
The claim, contained in a paper published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, made Han an overnight celebrity. 
The local government even offered to build a $32 million gene-editing research center at his university, which he would run.
Then, late last year, other scientists began reporting failures replicating Mr. Han’s results. 
Facing mounting pressure, he and his co-authors finally retracted the paper, though they have since vowed to clear their names.
“When it comes to research culture and academic integrity, it all depends on self-discipline,” said Zhang Yuehong, editor of the Journal of Zhejiang University, who has studied the problem of plagiarism in research articles. 
“We need to work harder to develop a culture of integrity.”

Han racism: Chinese museum pairs Africans with animals

More than 141,000 people visit the exhibit in Wuhan before it is eventually removed after sparking complaints from Africans.
By Benjamin Haas in Hong Kong

A photo of an African boy and a gorilla by Yu Huiping in an exhibit in China.

A museum in China has removed an exhibit this week that juxtaposed photographs of animals with portraits of black Africans, sparking complaints of racism.
The exhibit titled This Is Africa at the Hubei Provincial Museum in the city of Wuhan displayed a series of diptychs, each one containing a photo of an African paired with the face of an animal. 
In a particularly striking example, a child with his mouth wide open was paired with a gorilla and other works included baboons and cheetahs.
The exhibit was eventually removed after complaints by Africans, including some living in China, the curator said. 
All the photographs were taken by Yu Huiping, a construction magnate who has travelled to Africa more than 20 times, has previously won awards for his work and is vice-chairman of the Hubei Photographers Association.
Racial sensitivities are muddled in China, where about 92% of the population belongs to the dominant Han ethnicity and ethnic minorities mostly live in the sporadically populated far west of the country. 
African countries are increasingly important trading partners, but cultural stereotypes dominate Chinese popular discourse on the continent.
Wang Yuejun, one of the exhibit’s curators, said that comparisons to animals were typically seen as a compliment in Chinese culture, pointing to the zodiac signs that identify people with animals according to their birth year.
“The target audience is mainly Chinese,” Wang said in a statement. 
But the museum understood the images offended “our African friends”, Wang added.
The offensive nature was first notices by a Nigerian Instagram user, Edward E Duke
In a post, which was later removed, he asked why the museum “put pictures of a particular race next to wild animals”.
More than 141,000 people visited the show, which opened just before China’s week-long National Day holiday.
China is rife with examples of tone deafness when it comes to race. 
China’s most popular chat app, WeChat, used the English N-word to translate a Chinese phrase that commonly means “black foreigner”.
Last year a television advert for laundry detergent showed a black man covered in paint going into a washing machine and coming out as a sparkling Asian man. 
The video went viral around the world and caused outrage for its insensitive messaging.
Over the summer China’s state news agency published a video during a border standoff with India featuring an offensive parody of a Sikh man, complete with a turban and fake beard.

vendredi 13 octobre 2017

Axis of Evil: The Fight With North Korea Is Really About Rogue China

China sees the conflict as a way of keeping the U.S. off-balance in Asia while maintaining its influence over its immediate neighbors.
By Elizabeth Dias

In recent weeks, Trump and Pyongyang have escalated their war of words over North Korea's nuclear weapons testing, with both sides hinting it could end with a nuclear conflict.
But while the rhetoric has focused on North Korea, the Central Intelligence Agency is just as worried about China.
CIA analysts say the North Korean tests have heightened the concerns the U.S. has about managing the rise of China, which sees the conflict as a way of keeping the U.S. off-balance in Asia while maintaining its influence over its immediate neighbors.
“It is, to us, not just an immediate national security threat,” the CIA’s Michael Collins, deputy assistant director for East Asia Mission Center, said last week at a national security conference at George Washington University. 
“It is forcing us to think about the long-term management of China.”
The North Korea problem looks different from Beijing’s eyes than it does from Washington’s. 
Neither country wants a nuclearized North Korea, and China, like Washington, condemned North Korea’s recent missile launches and backed the United Nations’ latest sanctions against North Korea in September. 
But China’s strategic interests in the region are different from the U.S.’s objectives. 
China is focused on expanding its regional influence in Southeast Asia, and in the long term, increasing its global might.
“China still looks at the North Korea problem through the lens of what the U.S. is doing,” the CIA’s Yong Suk Lee, deputy assistant director for the Korea Mission Center, said at the same security conference last week. 
“China’s strategic goal is to frustrate the U.S. and maintain a permanent division of the Korean peninsula.”
Division on the peninsula is especially important for China because it helps counter the impression that the U.S. could contain China’s rise. 
North Korea serves as a “buffer state” for China amid strong U.S. alliances with its neighbors, South Korea and Japan. 
China also sees the demise of North Korea as tied to the rise of South Korea, and thus U.S. power.
“It would be perceived as a victory for America, a defeat for China,” says longtime diplomat Christopher Hill, an assistant Secretary of State under George W. Bush who is now dean of the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies.
This calculus does not mean China is not concerned about nuclear war, but rather that China has its own geostrategic timeline. 
Beijing would rather deal with a nuclear North Korea later, ideally when Chinese power is greater than the U.S.’s, says the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ senior vice president for Asia and Japan Chair, Michael Green.
“A nuclear North Korea, if it behaves, is acceptable,” he says, “and far more acceptable than the regime collapsing and China finding on its border a unified Korea that is aligned with the United States, or China finds all of the chaos that comes from war on the peninsula.”
Chinese are split on the issue, says Hill. 
But for some, the cure for a nuclear North Korea may be worse than the disease. 
“Especially from the vantage point of China’s national security state, they have real concerns about the perception that the U.S. has once and for all won the cold war on the Korean peninsula,” Hill says. 
“There could be concerns about what this would to do to China’s security policy, that is, if the U.S. put listening posts or troops up on the Yellow River, on the Chinese border.”
But already, China is facing a cost. 
South Korea has installed and deployed launchers of the U.S. anti-missile THAAD system, designed to shoot down missiles mid-flight. 
Japan, South Korea, and the U.S. are forming a closer alliance. 
Missile defense technology is still only linked bilaterally, but multilateral strength is growing more broadly among U.S. allies, who are doing joint missile defense exercises. 
“Their worst nightmare is coming together,” says the American Enterprise Institute’s Dan Blumenthal, director of Asian Studies.
It is complicated because China also wants stable relationship with U.S. 
China also might not have the luxury of pushing action on North Korea down the road. 
Pyongyang conducted its sixth nuclear test last month. 
Weeks later, Trump expanded the Treasury Departments’ ability to target those who financially engage North Korea. 
Trump also said that Xi Jinping told Chinese banks to stop doing business with North Korea, which the Chinese government has not confirmed. 
“They have to respond to the Trump administration’s pressure,” says Green.
Just how deeply the Trump Administration wants to engage China in dealing with North Korea remains to be seen. 
Trump is scheduled to visit China in November. 
Last month Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made his second visit to China. 
His trip was slated to focus on the North Korean crisis, but events were overshadowed when Trump tweeted that Tillerson was “wasting his time” negotiating with Kim Jong Un.
“As soon as Tillerson went out there, he essentially got recalled by a tweet,” Hill says. 
“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done with China, but unfortunately there is no one in place to do that work.”

jeudi 12 octobre 2017

Axis of Evil

Venezuela’s 2,349pc inflation is a painful lesson for China
By He Huifeng and Laura Zhou
For Chinese residents of Venezuela who fled that country’s chaos, a new International Monetary Fund inflation outlook dampens their hopes of returning to retrieve assets. 

The International Monetary Fund’s forecast of 2,349 per cent inflation for Venezuela in 2018, up from an estimated 2,069 per cent this year, is a rude reminder for China – the Latin American country’s key foreign creditor – about the risks of overseas investment, analysts said.
China has showered the oil-dependent nation of 30 million people with more than US$60 billion in loans, backed by oil supply deals and other contracts and investments. 
China Development Bank (CDB), a state lender, alone has poured at least US$37 billion into the country in the last decade.
But China has little leverage to protect its interests as economic and social conditions in Venezuela worsen.
China has little leverage to protect its interests as economic and social conditions in Venezuela worsen, sparking demonstrations against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. 

Huo Jianguo, a vice-chairman of the China Society for the World Trade Organisation Studies, a think-tank affiliated with the Ministry of Commerce, said the IMF’s forecast should teach China to be more careful with its outbound investment.
“It’s a reminder that China must study a country’s risks carefully and make proper plans [before investing there],” Huo said. 
“Otherwise, similar situations may happen again and again. China is still in the learning process in overseas investment.”
For Venezuela’s Chinese residents who fled the country’s chaos, the IMF’s forecasts dampen their hopes of one day returning to retrieve assets.
The four-digit inflation rate will put the country into a long period of turmoil, and China-led projects put on hold will be severely challenged to be re-started, said Mey Hou, whose small family-owned building-materials supply business in Caracas provides sand, stone and cement to Chinese state enterprises for local infrastructure and property projects.
Hou, now living in Guangdong province’s Enping county, said most Chinese investors and workers in Venezuela had left the country.
Mingli Zhong, who lived in Venezuela for two decades before returning to Enping earlier this year, said he was not shocked by the IMF’s prediction.
“A three-digit annual inflation rate is not much different from four-digit one … they both mean Venezuelan bolívars are just waste paper,” he said.
The Dirty Two: Nicolas Maduro (left) has looked to relations with Xi Jinping for investment to halt the Latin American country’s economic turmoil.

“Many ethnic Chinese living in Venezuela bought properties there,” he said. 
“The buildings once priced at a few hundred thousands in US dollars or even more. But now they worth nothing.”
Venezuela’s central bank stopped publishing inflation data in December 2015 after prices spiralled out of control.
The IMF’s Venezuela inflation forecasts are widely reported by Chinese online media, attracting far greater interest among Chinese readers, for instance, than the IMF’s raising China’s 2017 growth forecast to 6.8 per cent from 6.7 per cent. 
On popular news portal NetEase, the report about Venezuela’s inflation rate attracted more than 10,000 comments; in contrast, the report on the IMF’s revised China GDP forecast generated just one comment.
China has showered Venezuela with loans backed by myriad deals. Xi Jinping (centre) is shown at the signing ceremony for an agreement that tied energy-hungry China to oil-rich Venezuela.

“How can one expect Venezuela to repay its debt [with such a high inflation]?” one comment read.
Chu Yin, an associate professor at the University of International Relations in Beijing, said it was too early to call China’s financial support to Venezuela a failure because Venezuela could still repay China’s loans with oil.
“Venezuela is on brink of collapse, but it has not collapsed – the army is still listening to the government,” Chu said. 

China grabbed American as spy wars flare

A focus on Russia overshadows Beijing's aggressive tactics, including the kidnapping of a suspected American operative.
By ALI WATKINS


Both Chinese and U.S. officials kept quiet about the previously unreported incident, described to POLITICO and confirmed by multiple U.S. officials.

The sun was setting over Chengdu when they grabbed the American.
It was January 2016.
The U.S. official had been working out of the American consulate in the central Chinese metropolis of more than 10 million.
He may not have seen the plainclothes Chinese security services coming before they jumped him.
In seconds he was grabbed off the Chengdu street and thrown into a waiting van.
The Chinese officials drove their captive — whom they believed to be a CIA officer — to a security facility where he was interrogated for hours, and, according to one U.S. official, filmed confessing to unspecified acts of treachery on behalf of the U.S. government.
It wasn’t until the early morning hours of the following day that other U.S. officials — who were not immediately informed by their Chinese counterparts of the consular official’s capture — arrived to rescue him.
He was eventually released back to their custody and soon evacuated from the country.
Both Chinese and U.S. officials kept quiet about the previously unreported incident, described to POLITICO and confirmed by multiple U.S. officials.
But it threatened to spill into an international incident in the early days of the 2016 presidential campaign.
U.S. officials strongly protested the abduction to their Chinese counterparts and, according to one official, issued a veiled threat to kick out suspected Chinese agents within the U.S.
U.S. officials consider the abduction an unusually bold act in a long-simmering spy game between Washington and Beijing, one recently overshadowed by a newly aggressive Russia.
But U.S. officials and China experts say the two countries are engaged in an espionage battle that may be just as fierce, if far less publicized.
“The Chinese have not gone away,” one counterintelligence official who recently left government said.
“The things going on with Russia right now really have distracted from China.”
POLITICO spoke with more than half a dozen current and former national security officials for this story.
Almost all requested anonymity to more freely discuss sensitive intelligence matters.
China’s ongoing espionage within the U.S. was clear at a July pre-trial hearing at a Washington courthouse for former CIA officer Kevin Mallory, charged in June with passing at least three top secret U.S. government documents to a Chinese intelligence operative in exchange for $25,000 in cash.
“Your object is to gain information, and my object is to be paid for it,” prosecutors said the 60-year-old Mallory, then a government contractor, wrote in a message to a Chinese agent.
During the packed hearing, Mallory, who sat quietly in a dark jumpsuit, showed little emotion as prosecutors played a recording of a phone call he made to his family in which he frantically directed his children to find a device on which he stored information, including CIA material, for his Chinese contacts.
On the recording, Mallory can be heard worriedly shushing his son as the boy begins to describe the device—perhaps out of well-grounded fear that federal investigators might be listening.
Government witnesses testified that data Mallory allegedly stored on the device was sensitive enough to compromise critical U.S. intelligence gathering inside China—and specific enough to reveal and gravely endanger U.S. sources there.
The CIA and State Department declined to comment.
Some officials and China experts said Beijing uses a softer touch in its espionage.
Where Moscow stomps, Beijing tiptoes — focusing heavily on the theft of economic secrets and making no known effort to influence U.S. electoral politics.
China is an uneasy partner for the U.S. — particularly as Donald Trump seeks Beijing’s help in taming North Korea’s nuclear program.
And American corporations that care little about Russia’s stunted economy want good relations with China’s potential market of more than 1 billion consumers.
“It’s a much more sophisticated effort than Russia’s,” Daniel Blumenthal, a China expert at the American Enterprise Institute and a former commissioner of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, said of Chinese spying.
“They’re stronger, they’re more ambitious, they’re more powerful. And there are more U.S. stakeholders who want a positive relationship with China.”
Mallory is just one of two U.S. government employees charged this year with passing U.S. state secrets to China.
The other, 60-year-old Candace Marie Claiborne, was a State Department veteran whose postings included Beijing and Shanghai.
A March federal indictment charged her with accepting tens of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts from Chinese officials, including a laptop computer and international vacations, in return for U.S. government documents on U.S.-China economic relations.
U.S. officials interviewed by POLITICO said that, while visiting China, their colleagues are often “pitched,” or approached by Chinese intelligence operatives trying to recruit them.
Chinese efforts to recruit spies expand far beyond U.S. government employees. 
In a 2014 counter-recruitment video, titled “Game of Pawns,” the FBI tells the story of Glen Duffie Shriver, who as a U.S. student in Shanghai struck up a relationship with a woman he eventually discovered was a Chinese government operative.
Shriver took $70,000 from the woman as he sought a U.S. government job that would give him access to secret information he could pass to his handlers. 
He was sentenced to four years in prison.
“We live in a very sheltered society," Shriver says in the video.
"And when you go out among the wolves, the wolves are out there."
One former U.S. official said the cases show the way Chinese intelligence services, which long sought to appeal mainly to Chinese-Americans, are now recruiting from a far broader pool.
The way the Chinese have gotten more aggressive is, they’ve looked at recruiting more than just ethnic Chinese,” one Obama-era National Security Council official said.
Officials and experts are especially concerned about China’s 2015 hack of the Office of Personnel Management, which saw the theft of personal data from millions of U.S. federal workers.
That information went well beyond Social Security numbers or birthdays—officials confirmed that China-linked hackers accessed troves of “SF-86” forms.
That extensively detailed document—required for government employees seeking a security clearance—includes everything from relationships to the month-by-month minutia of a personal history.
The scope and detail of the files may serve as a kind of recruitment road map for years, Michelle Van Cleave, former director of the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, said at a U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission hearing this summer.
“The threat will grow as a result of their successes against us, because of the integration of those cyber successes and their human espionage capabilities,” Van Cleave said.
“I'm looking at what was lost through the OPM breach ... and I'm saying this is, this is staggering. This is staggering.”
The snatching in Chengdu is an extreme illustration of current and former officials' description of intense surveillance of Americans by Chinese security authorities in China.
The officials described how their rooms or belongings were “tossed” — searched by Chinese operatives — while they were staying in the country.
“They were as fundamentally aggressive in their activity [as the Russians],” one former U.S. diplomatic official told POLITICO.
Calling China’s approach more “subtle” than Russia’s, he added: “They always knew what we were doing and where we were.”