dimanche 30 avril 2017

The China Curse

China’s Appetite Pushes Fisheries to the Brink

Vendors and wives of fishermen waiting for boats to return to Joal, Senegal.

JOAL, Senegal — Once upon a time, the seas teemed with mackerel, squid and sardines, and life was good. 
But now, on opposite sides of the globe, sun-creased fishermen lament as they reel in their nearly empty nets.
“Your net would be so full of fish, you could barely heave it onto the boat,” said Mamadou So, 52, a fisherman in Senegal, gesturing to the meager assortment of tiny fish flapping in his wooden canoe.
A world away in eastern China, Zhu Delong, 75, also shook his head as his net dredged up a disappointing array of pinkie-size shrimp and fledgling yellow croakers. 
“When I was a kid, you could cast a line out your back door and hook huge yellow croakers,” he said. “Now the sea is empty.”
Overfishing is depleting oceans across the globe, with 90 percent of the world’s fisheries fully exploited or facing collapse, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. From Russian king crab fishermen in the west Bering Sea to Mexican ships that poach red snapper off the coast of Florida, unsustainable fishing practices threaten the well-being of millions of people in the developing world who depend on the sea for income and food, experts say.

Senegalese fishermen with their meager catch. 

But China, with its enormous population, growing wealth to buy seafood and the world’s largest fleet of deep-sea fishing vessels, is having an outsize impact on the globe’s oceans.
Having depleted the seas close to home, Chinese fishermen are sailing farther to exploit the waters of other countries, their journeys often subsidized by a government more concerned with domestic unemployment and food security than the health of the world’s oceans and the countries that depend on them.
Increasingly, China’s growing armada of distant-water fishing vessels is heading to the waters of West Africa, drawn by corruption and weak enforcement by local governments. 
West Africa, experts say, now provides the vast majority of the fish caught by China’s distant-water fleet
And by some estimates, as many as two-thirds of those boats engage in fishing that contravenes international or national laws.
China’s distant-water fishing fleet has grown to nearly 2,600 vessels (the United States has fewer than one-tenth as many), with 400 boats coming into service between 2014 and 2016 alone. 
Most of the Chinese ships are so large that they scoop up as many fish in one week as Senegalese boats catch in a year, costing West African economies $2 billion a year, according to a new study published by the journal Frontiers in Marine Science.

Part of China’s enormous fishing fleet at the harbor in Zhejiang, China.

Many of the Chinese boat owners rely on government money to build vessels and fuel their journeys to Senegal, a monthlong trip from crowded ports in China. 
Over all, government subsidies to the fishing industry reached nearly $22 billion between 2011 and 2015, nearly triple the amount spent during the previous four years, according to Zhang Hongzhou, a research fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
That figure, he said, does not include the tens of millions in subsidies and tax breaks that coastal Chinese cities and provinces provide to support local fishing companies.
According to one study by Greenpeace, subsidies for some Chinese fishing companies amount to a significant portion of their income. 
For one large state-owned company, CNFC Overseas Fisheries, the $12 million diesel subsidy it received last year made the difference between profit and loss, according to a corporate filing.
“Chinese fleets are all over the world now, and without these subsidies, the industry just wouldn’t be sustainable,” said Li Shuo, a global policy adviser at Greenpeace East Asia. 
“For Senegal and other countries of West Africa, the impact has been devastating.”
In Senegal, an impoverished nation of 14 million, fishing stocks are plummeting. 
Local fishermen working out of hand-hewn canoes compete with megatrawlers whose mile-long nets sweep up virtually every living thing. 
Most of the fish they catch is sent abroad, with a lot ending up as fishmeal fodder for chicken and pigs in the United States and Europe.
The sea’s diminishing returns mean plummeting incomes for fishermen and higher food prices for Senegalese citizens, most of whom depend on fish as their primary source of protein.
“We are facing an unprecedented crisis,” said Alassane Samba, a former director of Senegal’s oceanic research institute. 
“If things keep going the way they are, people will have to eat jellyfish to survive.”
When it comes to global fishing operations, China is the indisputable king of the sea. 
It is the world’s biggest seafood exporter, and its population accounts for more than a third of all fish consumption worldwide, a figure growing by 6 percent a year.

Buyers and sellers at Zhoushan fish market. China has depleted the seas close to home.

The nation’s fishing industry employs more than 14 million people, up from five million in 1979, with 30 million others relying on fish for their livelihood.
“The truth is, traditional fishing grounds in Chinese waters exist in name only,” said Mr. Zhang of Nanyang University. 
“For China’s leaders, ensuring a steady supply of aquatic products is not just about good economics but social stability and political legitimacy.”
But as they press toward other countries, Chinese fishermen have become entangled in a growing number of maritime disputes.
Indonesia has impounded scores of Chinese boats caught poaching in its waters, and in March last year, the Argentine authorities sank a Chinese vessel that tried to ram a coast guard boat. 
Violent clashes between Chinese fishermen and the South Korean authorities have left a half-dozen people dead.
For Beijing, the nation’s fleet of fishing vessels has helped assert its territorial ambitions in the South China Sea
In Hainan Province, the government encourages boat owners to fish in and around the Spratlys, the archipelago claimed by the Philippines, and the Paracel Islands, which Vietnam considers its own.

A Filipino fishing boat that had been chased away from Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea by a Chinese Coast Guard vessel last year. 

This maritime militia receives subsidized fuel, ice and navigational devices. 
Backed by the firepower of Chinese naval frigates, they have driven away thousands of Filipino fishermen who depended on the rich waters around the Spratly Islands.
Across the Philippine province of Palawan, the impact is reflected in the rows of idled outriggers and the clouds of smoke drifting across freshly denuded hillsides.
Unable to live off the sea, desperate fishermen have been burning protected coastal jungle to make way for rice fields. 
But heavy rain often washes away the topsoil, environmentalists say, rendering the steep land useless.
“Young boys spend their lives preparing to become fishermen,” said Eddie Agamos Brock, who runs Tao, an ecotourism initiative. 
“Now they have no way to make a living from the sea.”

Fishermen in an outrigger in front of a fire for slash-and-burn agriculture on Darocotan Island in the Philippines. 

For Senegal, which stretches along the Atlantic for more than 300 miles, the ocean is the economic lifeblood and a part of the national identity. 
Seafood is the main export, and fishing-related industries employ nearly 20 percent of the work force, according to the World Bank.
Ceebu jen, a hearty fish stew, is the national dish, and sawfish — once plentiful but now rare — grace bank notes. 
No Senegalese postcard is complete without an image of pirogues, the exuberantly painted boats fishermen use.
Despite declining fish stocks, unrelenting drought linked to climate change has driven millions of rural Senegalese to the coast, increasing the nation’s dependence on the sea.
With two-thirds of the population under 18, the strain has helped fuel the surge of young Senegalese trying to reach Europe.
“Foreigners complain about Africa migrants coming to their countries, but they have no problem coming to our waters and stealing all our fish,” said Moustapha Balde, 22, whose teenage cousin drowned after his boat sank in the Mediterranean.
The migration to the coast has transformed this seaside city, Joal, from a palm-shaded fishing village into a town of 55,000. 
Abdou Karim Sall, 50, president of the local fishermen’s association, said there were now 4,900 pirogues in Joal, up from a few dozen when he was a teenager.
“We always thought that sea life was boundless,” he said while patrolling the coastline. 
Now, he added, “we are facing a catastrophe.”

Fishermen pulling in nets off the coast of Joal, Senegal. 

Mr. Sall became a local hero after he single-handedly detained the captains of two Chinese boats that were fishing illegally. 
These days, residents curse him under their breath because he has expanded his campaign against overfishing to include Senegalese boats that flout fishing rules designed to help stocks rebound.
“I understand why they hate me,” he said. 
“They are just trying to survive from day to day.”
Still, most of his ire is directed at the capacious foreign-owned trawlers. 
These days, more than 100 large boats work Senegalese waters, a mix of European, Asian and locally flagged vessels, according to government figures. 
That number doesn’t include boats that fly Senegalese flags but are owned by Chinese companies.
Also uncounted are the ships that fish illegally, often at night or on the fringes of Senegal’s 200-mile-wide exclusive economic zone — well out of reach of the country’s small navy.
Dyhia Belhabib, a fisheries expert trying to quantify illegal fishing along the African coast, said Chinese boats were among the worst offenders; in West Africa, they report just 8 percent of their catch, compared with 29 percent for European-flagged vessels, she said.
According to her estimates, Chinese boats steal 40,000 tons of fish a year from Senegalese waters, an amount worth roughly $28 million.
Her figures do not include boats engaged in illegal fishing that were never caught — nearly two-thirds of all Chinese vessels, she said. 
“When darkness falls, the dynamics of illegal fishing change dramatically and it becomes a free-for-all.”
The problem is magnified across the western Atlantic. 
Some countries, like Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone, have just a handful of boats to police their national waters.

Men making new fishing nets on the streets of Joal. 

In Senegal, recent legislation has drastically increased fines for illegal fishing to $1 million, and officials pointed to the two impounded foreign-owned boats in Dakar, the nation’s capital, as proof that their efforts are bearing fruit.
Glancing out at the sea, Capt. Mamadou Ndiaye described the challenges he faces as the director of enforcement for Senegal’s Ministry of Fisheries and Maritime Economy
Many scofflaws, he noted, fish on the edge of Senegal’s territorial waters and can easily escape when threatened.
His agency cannot afford speedboats or satellite imagery; it could also use a functioning airplane. “Still, we have more than many other countries, and we have to help them, too,” he said.
Most of the small pelagic fish that swim in Senegalese waters — and make up 85 percent of the nation’s protein consumption — migrate in enormous schools between Morocco and Sierra Leone. Along the way, they are scooped up by hundreds of industrial trawlers, at least half of them Chinese-owned.
In 2012, Senegal stopped granting licenses to foreign trawlers for these small fish, but neighboring countries have refused to follow suit. 
Mauritania, where most of the fleet is Chinese-Mauritanian joint ventures, is home to 20 fishmeal factories that grind sea life into exported animal feed, with another 20 planned, according to Greenpeace.
Protecting the seas means saying no to China, whose largess is funding infrastructure across Africa.
“It’s hard to say no to China when they are building your roads,” said Dr. Samba, the former head of Senegal’s oceanic research institute.
Then there is the lack of transparency that keeps national fishing agreements with China secret.
“There is corruption in opacity,” said Rashid Sumaila, director of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit at the University of British Columbia Fisheries Center.
“The Chinese pay bribes to get access and that money doesn’t trickle down, so the population is hit by a double whammy.”
Beijing has become sensitive to accusations that its huge fishing fleet is helping push fish stocks to the brink of collapse.
The government says it is aggressively reducing fuel subsidies — by 2019 they will have been cut by 60 percent, according to a fishery official — and pending legislation would require all distant-water vessels manufactured in China to register with the government, enabling better monitoring.
“The era of fishing any way you want, wherever you want, has passed,” Liu Xinzhong, deputy general director of the Bureau of Fisheries in Beijing, said. 
“We now need to fish by the rules.”

Women selling fish at the street market in Joal.

Here in Joal, the dwindling catches have prompted the closing of three of the town’s ice factories, with the fourth barely holding on. 
On the town’s main quay, where women wade into the surf to meet arriving pirogues, the competition for fish has become intense.
“We used to have big grouper and tuna, but now we are fighting over a few sardinella,” said one buyer, Sénte Camara, 68. 
On a good day, she makes $20; on a bad day, she loses money. 
“The future is dark,” she said.
To catch anything, fishermen have to venture out farther, putting their lives at risk if an engine stalls or a late summer storm barrels through.
Sometimes the danger is a super trawler whose wake can easily swamp a pirogue.
At Joal’s vast outdoor smoking center, the lack of fish was apparent in the empty racks normally stacked with yellow-tailed sardinella and millet stalks smoldering below.
Daba Mbaye, 49, one of the few people working, said the smokers could no longer compete with the fishmeal factories.
“They leave us with nothing, and we are powerless to stop them,” Ms. Mbaye said. 
“Now we are forced to catch juvenile fish, which is like going into a house and killing all the children. If you do that, the family will eventually disappear.”

Five hundred women in Joal work full time salting, grilling and drying mackerel, anchovy and sardinella.

samedi 29 avril 2017

U.S. Stupidest President

North Korea missile test: regime has 'disrespected China', says Donald Trump
The Guardian

An undated file photo released on 24 April by North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows an ‘underwater test-fire of strategic submarine ballistic missile’ conducted at an undisclosed location. 

Donald Trump has condemned North Korea for “disrespecting the wishes of China”
after Pyongyang test-fired a ballistic missile despite rising tensions in the region.
The unsuccessful test comes as the United States pushed for tougher sanctions to curb the country’s nuclear threat. 
Writing on Twitter, Trump said Pyongyang had defied Xi Jinping by going ahead with the launch.
South Korea’s military said the test of the missile took place near Bukchang in South Pyeongan Province early on Saturday morning.
A US government source told the Reuters news agency that initial indications suggested the test was unsuccessful. 
The US military’s Pacific Command said the missile did not leave North Korean territory.
“US Pacific Command detected what we assess was a North Korean missile launch at 10:33am Hawaii time ... The ballistic missile launch occurred near the Pukchang airfield,” Commander Dave Benham said in a statement. 
“The missile did not leave North Korean territory.”
Japan joined in criticism of the test launch, saying it was absolutely unacceptable and a violation of UN resolution. 
Speaking at a press conference in London on Saturday, the Japanese prime minister, Shinzō Abe, said it posed a grave threat to Japan.
“Despite strong warnings by the international community, North Korea today went through its ballistic missile launch. It is a grave threat to our country. This is absolutely not acceptable. We strongly condemn such acts,” Abe said.
Abe called for solidarity from the international community, admitting further North Korean missile tests are “fully conceivable”. 
“We’d like to maintain a close coordination with the United States, our ally, to maintain a high state of alert. We’d like to be water-tight to ensure safety for our citizens,” he said.
A US official said the Trump administration could respond by speeding up its plans for new US sanctions against Pyongyang, including possible measures against specific North Korean and Chinese entities.
“It’s possible that something could be sped up,” the official said of the potential for imposing new unilateral sanctions on North Korea. 
“Something that’s ready to go could be taken from the larger package and expedited.”
The official said the missile launch was the kind of “provocation” that had been anticipated ahead of South Korea’s 9 May election, and that the president could use the test-firing to further press China to do more to rein in North Korea.
The launch comes with tensions high on the Korean peninsula, with this the latest in a series of missile launches by the North and warnings from Trump’s US administration that it was running out of patience.
At the UN security council on Friday, Washington pushed for tougher sanctions to confront the North Korean threat, piling pressure on China to rein in its ally while warning it was keeping military options “on the table”. 
Trump himself of Thursday warned of the prospect of a “major, major conflict” with North Korea.
The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, warned that failure to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile abilities could lead to “catastrophic consequences”, while China and Russia cautioned Washington against threatening military force to solve the problem.
“Failing to act now on the most pressing security issue in the world may bring catastrophic consequences,” Tillerson said in his first remarks to the council as secretary of state.

The United States was not pushing for regime change and preferred a negotiated solution, but Pyongyang, for its own sake, should dismantle its nuclear and missile programmes, he said.
“The threat of a nuclear attack on Seoul, or Tokyo, is real, and it’s only a matter of time before North Korea develops the capability to strike the US mainland,” Tillerson said.
While Tillerson repeated the Trump administration’s position that all options are on the table if Pyongyang persists with its nuclear and missile development, Yi said military threats would not help.
The Russian deputy foreign minister, Gennady Gatilov, also said on Friday the use of force would be “completely unacceptable”.

Pentagon's Chinese Fifth Column

Congress investigating taxpayer-backed school over ties to Chinese military
By Catherine Herridge, Pamela K. Browne, Cyd Upson 

Four congressional committees are demanding answers from the FBI and departments of Justice and Defense about a taxpayer-funded school that markets to the military, after a Fox News investigation exposed ties between the university's leadership and the Chinese military.
The ongoing Fox News investigation has focused on the Virginia-based University of Management and Technology, its president Yanping Chen Frame and the school's academic dean, J. Davidson Frame, Chen's husband. 
UMT was raided by the FBI in 2012 as part of a counterintelligence investigation, but multiple sources told Fox News the case ran into roadblocks once it reached the U.S. attorney's office.
"There's not only a lot of smoke coming out of this one, there's some fires out there that need to be extinguished and some people that really have to answer the questions," House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said.
In a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis on April 12, Chaffetz said military service members and their personnel records remain at risk. 
He questioned why the Defense Department continues to fund the school with taxpayer dollars through the GI Bill and the tuition assistance program.
"There was no obligation to give this money. They didn't have to give this money. Somebody made a proactive decision to authorize this, to move forward, and then why not cut it off?" Chaffetz said.
Since the 2012 FBI raid, UMT received more than $6 million. 
Some $250,000 has been received by the school since Fox News aired its first report in February.
"It's a bad deal for the soldiers … it's a bad deal for the taxpayer," said former UMT employee Stephen Rhoads, a U.S.-veteran-turned-whistleblower who says he worked as an FBI informant on the case. 
"It absolutely disgusts me and needs to stop."

Undated photo of Yanping Chen and family wearing PLA uniforms. (Exclusively obtained by Fox News)

After the Fox News investigation, the Defense Department put the school under review but continues to fund it. 
When he worked there, Rhoads said the school got more than 250,000-$300,000 per month in taxpayer dollars.
Photos obtained by Fox News apparently show Chen wearing the uniform of a young officer in the Chinese military of the People's Liberation Army, known as the PLA, along with her family. 
In another undated photo, Chen appears to salute the grave of her father, Chen Bin, who was a senior general in the PLA in charge of technology and arms acquisition.

Undated photos of Yanping Chen’s father, Gen. Chen Bin. (Exclusively obtained by Fox News)
"Her father joined the Communist Party in the 1930s. He supposedly participated in the Long March and that … gives her credentials not unlike being an officer in the continental army," said Peter Mattis, a fellow with the Jamestown Foundation and leading expert on China. 
"The Long March," between 1934-1935, has long been referred to as a bloody pillar of the Chinese Communist Revolution which ultimately led to the creation of the People's Republic of China.
Mattis said a school like UMT would be attractive to the Chinese military.
"You get what you'd call a curated database. You're not just getting a database of a lot of Americans. You're getting a database of people who are interesting to you, people who work in the U.S. military, who have access to a sensitive technology," Mattis said. 
"This is valuable to China for two reasons. The first is, militaries everywhere want to know what a potential adversary might look like -- what are their capabilities, how will they act? The second is this might also serve as a vehicle for recruiting individuals."
Mattis added, "If intelligence is a numbers game and maybe one out of 100 or one out of 500 people are willing to commit treason, then the faster you can go through those numbers, the better off you are. They're looking for former officials, classmates, spouses, friends and they have no problem recruiting someone with only secondhand access to information."
Fox News has confirmed that the Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) is also investigating the UMT. 
Separately, multiple sources told Fox News that the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, James P. Gillis, declined to prosecute in 2014, but that may be about to change.
Undated photo of Yanping Chen and her husband J. Davidson Frame, who run the University of Management and Technology in Virginia.

The FBI, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and the Defense Department declined to comment, citing the ongoing probe.
Chaffetz stressed his dismay with the reaction of the Department of Justice. 
"Just turning the other cheek on something that appears at least on the surface to be so blatant -- that begs the question, what are the 100,000-plus people at [the Department of Justice] doing?"
Fox News has an open invitation for an interview with Yanping Chen and J. Davidson Frame. 
They told Fox News in February they were too busy. 

Rogue Nation

I-Spy in China: a revival of Mao-era paranoia
By Verna Yu

During the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, when Siu Ying Lee’s kindergarten-age daughter saw a photo of her mother in a white lace wedding dress, instead of wishing she could look pretty like her, she pointed her finger and shouted: “Spy! Spy!”
Her mother, frightened at the prospect of the family getting into deep trouble, sternly told her not to tell anyone at school.
During the tumultuous Mao Zedong era, having any foreign ties—even having relatives living abroad—could easily lead to accusations of being a spy. 
Children were taught at school to be on the look-out for ubiquitous spies who might be lurking anywhere and to report them promptly. 
Many innocent people wrongly accused of being spies were brutally persecuted or killed as “class enemies” in the numerous political movements throughout the 1950s and ’60s, especially during the Cultural Revolution.
China has come a long way since then. 
But 40 years after the end of the Cultural Revolution, schoolchildren in China are once again being mobilized for an anti-espionage drive reminiscent of the Mao era.
Primary and secondary school children are the targets of this national security education campaign to “mobilize them as a huge counter-spy force,” the English-language state newspaper Global Times reported in mid-April.
“The concept of state security has to be firmly grasped, starting with young children,” Liu Wanghong, the deputy head of a state-backed think tank, Jiangsu Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, told the semi-official China News Service. 
“We need to incorporate national security education into our education system.”
To mark “National Security Education Day” on April 15 as the front-runner in a national pilot scheme, the eastern province of Jiangsu launched a set of school textbooks that feature topics such as “National security is of paramount importance” and “We cannot let down our guard even during peacetime.”
According to state reports, the books use easy-to-read language and comic strips to explain to children the concept of national security and to teach them about threats posed by spies as well as “how to spot potential terror threats.” 
To make the message more appealing to children, the books feature games such as “find the spy.”
The anti-espionage drive is part of a broader national security campaign. 
China implemented its first Counter-Espionage Law in November 2014, and in July 2015, it passed a National Security Law which has wide-ranging powers to cope with what officials said was an increasingly “severe” national security situation.
Earlier in April, Beijing authorities offered cash rewards of up to 500,000 yuan (U.S. $72,400) to citizens who report foreign spies or activities that they believe are endangering state security or involve the theft of state secrets.
Cartoons and video clips have been posted on microblog accounts of China Central Television, the Communist Party Youth League and the Ministry of Public Security showing how ordinary people could identify spies and to encourage them to report suspicious people to the authorities. 
“Come on, be brave, go and report!” said a narrator to the beat of rap music on a video.
Last year, a 16-panel cartoon titled “Dangerous Love” posted in subway stations and streets warned young women against dating foreign men who could turn out to be spies.
The Chinese authorities’ fixation on national security stems from insecurity over the stability of its own regime, said political commentator and veteran journalist Ching Cheong
Mr. Ching, a Hong Konger, was jailed for three years in China on trumped-up espionage charges.
Since Xi Jinping came to power in late 2012, he has repeatedly warned about “unprecedented security risks” faced by the country. 
He personally heads the National Security Commission, which he created in late 2013. 
He has emphasized that national security must be under “the absolute leadership of the Communist Party” and told officials to take preemptive steps to prevent “all kinds of risks” to national security.
In an internal speech made early in Xi’s presidency, he lamented the collapse of the Soviet Union, blaming it on a lapse in ideological control. 
Since then, Xi has overseen a tightening of ideological control and a clamp down on civil society, silencing liberal scholars and cracking down on human rights lawyers, dissidents, activists and N.G.O. workers.
The leadership is very paranoid that China would follow in the Soviet Union’s footsteps,” said Mr. Ching. 
To prevent this, the authorities are attempting to raise people’s vigilance over national security using Mao-era tactics of “struggling against the class enemies,” he said.
Observers say the mobilization of ordinary people to report on spies is a throwback to the disastrous Mao era, in which there were constant rumors of neighbors, colleagues and classmates being secret spies of foreign powers.
At the start of Communist Party rule in 1949, posters were put up on the streets warning people against spies. 
Children were indoctrinated with the idea that “class enemies” such as landowners, capitalists, intellectuals and anyone seen to pose a threat to the ruling Communist regime had to be ruthlessly eliminated.
“These unsubstantiated rumors of the Mao era led to countless human rights violations and countless ruined lives,” said William Nee, China researcher at Amnesty International. 
“Since the Chinese government has not dealt with history honestly or objectively, it is no wonder that it seems to be willing to repeat the same mistakes.”
Mr. Nee said the real goal of the national security education campaign seemed to be creating “an atmosphere of paranoia” and to indoctrinate Chinese society, especially the young, to be inherently suspicious of foreigners, foreign ideas and foreign organizations.
“The Chinese leadership wants young people to imbibe their own worldview that sees the risk of ‘ideological penetration’ around every corner,” Mr. Nee said. 
“The government—at the very highest levels—is convinced that there is some sort of conspiracy and that China is at risk of ‘ideological penetration’ by ‘foreign forces’ who are changing the mentality of Chinese people by promoting things like democracy, human rights, religion.”
Observers say this kind of indoctrination could have lasting and damaging effects. 
Children who were indoctrinated with hostility towards “class enemies” in the early days of the Communist rule grew up to be red guards in the Cultural Revolution—many ruthlessly beat others, even their teachers, to death. 
Some remain unrepentant even to this day.
“The Cultural Revolution didn’t happen without a reason. It’s because people were instilled with a sense of suspicion and hostility from their childhood,” Mr. Ching said. 
“Now, the authorities appear to be reviving this Cultural Revolution practice again.”

Chinese Fifth Column: Wolves In Cultural Robes

Should the Chinese Government Be in American Classrooms?
By Richard Bernstein

Since their beginning in 2005, Confucius Institutes have been set up to teach Chinese language classes in more than one hundred American colleges and universities, including large and substantial institutions like Rutgers University, the State Universities of New York at Binghamton and Albany, Purdue, Emory, Texas A & M, Stanford, and others. 
In addition, there are now about five hundred sister programs, known as “Confucius Classrooms,” teaching Chinese in primary and secondary schools from Texas to Massachusetts.
But while the rapid spread of these institutes has been impressive, in recent years their unusual reach in the American higher education system has become increasingly controversial: Confucius Institutes are an official agency of the Chinese government, which provides a major share, sometimes virtually all, of the funds needed to run them. 
Though they are housed in US institutions, their curriculum is shaped by Chinese guidelines. Moreover, they have been set up in secretive agreements with host institutions, which has caused scholars to question whether their universities are ceding undue control to a foreign government—in this instance, a foreign government well known for aggressively propagandizing its official views, censoring dissenting opinions, and imprisoning those who express them.
Responding to such complaints, a number of schools, including the University of Chicago, Penn State, and McMaster University in Canada, have closed their CIs down. 
The University of Chicago, for example, did so in 2014 after some one hundred faculty members signed a petition saying that the CIs were incompatible with the values of the University
“This is really an anomalous sort of arrangement,” Bruce Lincoln, one of the organizers of the petition, told Inside Higher Ed, “where an entity outside the university and a powerful entity and an entity that has strong interest in what’s taught is in effect seriously influencing who’s teaching and what’s taught under our name and inside our curriculum.”
Now the National Association of Scholars, a group whose members are mostly American university professors, has issued the most complete report on the CIs to date, a detailed 177-page document called “Outsourced to China: Confucius Institutes and Soft Power in American Higher Education.” 
The NAS study, which was conducted by Rachelle Peterson, the group’s director of research projects, comes to conclusions similar to those of a study by the American Association of University Professors three years ago, and it makes similar recommendations: that the CIs either be closed or reformed. (There are about ten CIs in Canada, where the Association of University Teachers three years ago likewise recommended that they be reformed or closed.)
Among the NAS report’s findings are that CI teachers face “pressures to avoid sensitive topics” like Tibet, Taiwan, or China’s human rights record; that the teachers, recruited and trained in China, adhere to Chinese restrictions on speech; and that there is an absence of “transparency” in the CIs’ operations. 
Peterson visited twelve CIs in New York and New Jersey and almost all of them refused to make their contracts with the Chinese government public; administrators at some of them refused even to talk to Ms. Peterson or to allow her to visit classrooms. 
The NAS report also echoes concerns expressed by earlier critics of the CIs that the Chinese funding they attract has given universities a strong financial incentive to host them, to the point that some universities may find it hard to close their CIs “without jeopardizing other financial relationships.” 
Instead, there is an interest in presenting “China in a positive light” and in focusing “on anodyne aspects of Chinese culture,” glossing over “Chinese political history and human rights abuses.”
The CI program is supervised and controlled by the Chinese government. 
The supervisory body is the Office of Chinese Language Council International—the Hanban for short—which is a department of the Chinese Ministry of Education (although it is ultimately supervised by the Communist Party’s Central Propaganda Department, whose former head, Li Changchun, has been quoted in newspaper articles calling the CIs “part of China’s foreign propaganda strategy”).
The senior official in charge, Liu Yandong, is a member of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee. 
The Hanban provides subsidies—generally around $100,000 each year for the five-year duration of a contract—to participating institutions. 
It screens the teachers, all of them Chinese nationals, trains them, pays their salaries and airfares, dispatches them to the institution in question, and in most cases designs the curriculum. 
It also sends a Confucius Institute director who shares responsibility for running each program with a local co-director. 
What worries many critics of the CIs is not that they will somehow be able to establish pro-China propaganda departments inside the American academy, but something more subtle—that close relations with a Chinese state agency and dependence on Chinese financial support will give China, not exactly a disinterested party, a strong say in how the country is presented to American elementary schoolchildren and college undergraduates alike. 
Chinese officials have extolled the CIs as an admirable and effective way of extending what they refer to as China’s soft power, and this is what makes some critics nervous. 
Will programs on China have the free, critical inquiry that American academic programs are supposed to have? 
Given China’s concerted efforts to control the discourse on sensitive topics like Tibet, Taiwan, and human rights, it seems unlikely that they could be discussed openly within the precincts of the CIs.
Liu Yandong and Li Changchun at the London Book Fair, April 15, 2012

In a 2014 book, Confucius Institutes: Academic Malware, the University of Chicago anthropologist Marshall Sahlins expressed many of these points, arguing that self-censorship is virtually inevitable; otherwise the American partner institution would jeopardize China’s financial support. Sahlins argues that if prominent institutions like Chicago itself give credibility to the CIs, smaller places, especially those without existing, independent China programs, will be encouraged to set them up also, and as they become an accepted part of the academic scene, China will gain considerable influence over how it is presented in American classrooms. 
There are precedents for this concern: China has successfully pressured Hollywood to make changes in movies so that they can be shown in the Chinese market, has gotten Internet companies to turn over information about their users to the security police, and has used its economic power to dissuade countries from criticizing its human rights record.
Perry Link, professor emeritus of Chinese literature at Princeton, commented on the current and likely future effects of the “outsourcing,” as the NAS report puts it, of Chinese language teaching to China itself: “I would say mainly two things: 
1) It induces self-censorship in CI recipients, which is very effective even in the absence of ‘smoking guns’; and 
2) It projects a partial view of China, which incurs a double cost: a) taboo topics are not seen, and b) non-taboo topics would not look so innocuous if they could be seen in full context.”
One of the disturbing aspects of the Confucius Institutes is the secrecy in which their relations to host institutions are often kept. 
The authors of the NAS report were able, mostly by filing Freedom of Information Requests, to obtain the contracts signed between some of the American schools and the Hanban, and these contracts contain some strange clauses. 
One such clause, for example, prohibits “any activity conducted under the name of the Confucius Institute without permission or authorization from the Confucius Institute headquarters.” 
Another indicates a Chinese expectation that the CIs will observe Chinese law. 
What this means exactly is hard to know, since Chinese law does not extend to American universities, but it certainly sounds as though the American partners would be unable to have a program on, say, Tibet, unless it was prepared to denounce the Dalai Lama. 
The NAS report cites an incident in 2009 wherein North Carolina State University, which has a CI, rescinded an invitation to the Dalai Lama to speak on campus.
Peterson notes what she calls the “veil of secrecy” that seems to surround the CIs she visited in New York and New Jersey, which is the reason the NAS had to file FOIA requests to get the contracts signed between the Hanban and some of those institutions. 
Peterson was, for example, able to make an appointment to meet the CI director at SUNY Binghamton.
This person canceled the appointment a couple of days later, citing too many other responsibilities, then told Peterson that no member of his staff would be able to meet her and that she would be barred from sitting in on a class. 
A similar series of events took place at SUNY Albany.
At Alfred University, a small private school that has had a CI since 2008, Peterson was sitting in on a class, having, she says, gotten permission from the teacher to do so, when the provost, Rick Stephens, appeared and ordered her to leave both the classroom and the campus right away. (A spokesperson at Alfred, Susan C. Goetschius, said in an email that Peterson “did not follow appropriate protocols as a non-student and/or journalist attending a class. She was asked to leave and she did so.”)
Peterson was cordially received at other campuses. 
Still, one wonders about this atmosphere of secretiveness at these schools. 
Do the administrators or the program worry that disclosing their Chinese connections and their need for Chinese funding will give material to critics of the program? 
Are the Chinese directors appointed by the Hanban, even those at public universities, fearful that they will get questions on human rights in China or Tibet or on how they deal with the subject of the 1989 crackdown?
Then there is the matter of Chinese teachers, selected and trained in China. 
A recent documentary film on the Confucius Institutes in Canada, called In the Name of Confucius, tells the story of Sonia Zhao, who was sent by the Hanban in 2011 to teach in the CI at McMaster University. 
When she went to the Hanban in Beijing to sign her contract, Zhao noticed a provision banning practitioners of Falun Gong, the sect that has been ferociously repressed in China. 
Zhao signed anyway, fearing that not to do so would identify her as the Falun Gong practitioner that she in fact was. 
She went to Toronto, and after some time living in terror that she would be found out by the Chinese director there, she left the program and got political asylum. 
McMaster terminated its CI arrangement in 2013.
Zhao’s case might be an unusual one, but if Falun Gong members are barred from membership, that would be religious discrimination and would appear to violate both American and Canadian law. 
Reporting on the Zhao case, the Toronto Globe and Mail cited a passage in the Hanban contracts according to which teachers are “not allowed to join illegal organizations such as Falun Gong.” 
This wording used to be posted on the Hanban’s English-language website, but it was removed after the Zhao case. 
Zhao says in the Canadian documentary that during their training in China, teachers are instructed in ways to avoid student questions on what are effectively banned topics, like Tibet or Falun Gong itself. 
“Don’t talk about that,” she says she was told. 
“If the student persists, you just try to change the topic or say something the Chinese Communist Party would prefer.”
The expansion of China’s presence in schools in the US and other countries is taking place at the same time that China itself is intensifying its crackdown on dissent, tightening its censorship of the internet, and publishing prohibitions on what it calls “false ideological trends,” which include promoting that the propaganda machinery calls “Western values.” 
Recently, the journalist Hannah Beech, writing in The New Yorker, cited a statement by Chen Baosheng, China’s minister of education, who warned that schools in China “are the main target for infiltration by hostile forces,” and he vowed that he would “never let textbooks promoting Western values appear in our classes.”
The Confucius Institutes, it will be remembered, are run by an agency under the very Ministry of Education that Chen heads. 
The Hanban website currently carries reports on the Confucius Institute’s eleventh annual congress, which was held in Yunnan Province last December with 2,200 delegates participating from 140 countries. 
Several senior Chinese officials, including Politburo member Liu Yandong, gave speeches. 
On the program was a presentation of China’s “One Belt One Road” initiative, the country’s plan to build a network of relationships across Eurasia. 
Chen was the official host of the event.
Again, there’s no “smoking gun” here, but there is a paradox. 
Chen has had remarkable success in building a presence for China in American (and many other countries’) schools even as he has publicly expressed his determination never to allow Western influence—or, as he called it, “infiltration”—to flow in the other direction.

Schumer: Trump Must be Tough on China to Deal with North Korea

"The way to get China to do something is not to be nice to them but is to hit them hard on trade."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that Donald Trump's first 100 days in office aren't going well and that his posture with China is going to make the situation with North Korea more difficult.
Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea continue to escalate and Trump warned that a "major, major" conflict could erupt over that nation's nuclear ambitions in an interview with Reuters Tuesday.
"The key to winning North Korea is China," Schumer told NBC News in a wide-ranging interview Friday, adding that Trump's cozy position with China won't help it. 
"The way to get China to do something is not to be nice to them but is to hit them hard on trade."
Schumer: 100 Days In, Trump Not a Great Negotiator 
Schumer said that Trump, who has framed himself as a master negotiator, has been a poor negotiator on the world stage.
And after Trump said he would not withdraw from NAFTA without trying to rework some components, Schumer said the free trade agreement can only be improved if he's a good negotiator with Mexico and Canada.
"He's got to be a tough negotiator," Schumer said. 
"If he is anything like he's been with China, nothing much will be accomplished, unfortunately."
Schumer has personal experience negotiating with Trump on the latest round of government funding. Trump backed down from a central campaign promise with this round of government appropriations, saying that he would no longer ask for a down-payment to begin construction for the border wall, an issue that Democrats said they would not support.
But Schumer said that when he talked with Trump on the phone in recent weeks about the funding bill, the president never even brought up the wall.
"He's friendly but he's not — every time he's called me, it has not been on a major subject," Schumer said.
Schumer also responded to Trump's comment to Reuters that he thought being president would be "easier."
"Good morning," Schumer said.
Schumer predicted his party could benefit politically from Trump's presidency. 
"I'll tell you this, if the president continues in the rest of his first two years as he did in these first 100 days, there's even a chance we could take back the Senate."

vendredi 28 avril 2017

Rogue Nation

Europe’s China Pivot
By Robert Manning

“The future has already arrived,” sci-fi writer William Gibson famously quipped, “it’s just not evenly distributed yet.” 
Few in the United States noticed when a freight train arrived in London in January 2017, completing a 7,500 mile journey from China, yet this train, its route an echo of the ancient Silk Road, just may have offered a glimpse of the future.
China is already the world’s largest trading nation, with some $3.9 trillion in two-way trade in 2016. The European Union, with its $17 trillion economy, roughly the size of that of the United States, looms large in China’s ambitious but still inchoate vision of connecting both ends of the Eurasian landmass with a 21st century version of the old Silk Road. 
And to the degree the United States retreats from the post-World War II multilateral system it created, the China-EU relationship could influence the balance of the emerging polycentric order.
Donald Trump’s “America First” posture, his cheerleading of Brexit, and his swift rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership spurred Europe and Asia to rapidly scramble in pursuit of multilateral deals to offset the U.S. retreat. 
In a letter to leaders of the 27 EU member states earlier this year, European Council President Donald Tusk described Trump, along with an assertive China and an aggressive Russia, as one of three external threats to Europe’s future. 
Tusk argued that “[w]e should use the change in the trade strategy of the U.S. to the EU's advantage by intensifying our talks with interested partners, while defending our interests at the same time.”
The United States ($579 billion), the European Union ($529 billion), and Japan ($300 billion) are China’s top three bilateral trading partners. 
China’s predatory industrial policies and various tactics to limit goods and investment in competitive sectors like IT or automobiles with tariffs are leading European governments to rethink trade and investment policies with regard to China. 
But the allure of Chinese investment sets European states competing for renminbi.
EU-China relations, particularly for Europe’s largest economies, Germany and France, have been largely one-dimensional. 
As a 2015 report by a consortium of European think tanks observed, “most, if not all European national strategies toward China are dominated by the logic of economics.” 
This has begun to change as China’s increasingly nationalist economic policies and its assertive foreign policy actions have evoked growing concern among many European governments and the European Union itself. 
This was evident in a comprehensive EU strategy on China released by the European Commission in June 2016. 
The strategy reflects a growing European awareness of their stake in the issues China’s behavior raises, and it articulates guidelines and principles for EU policies toward China.

Nationalism in Globalization’s Clothing

Xi Jinping may champion globalization while in Davos, but at home he prizes mercantilist, industrial policies. 
Yet China demands market economy status in the World Trade Organization even as it strengthens and subsidizes its state-owned enterprises.
The United States, European Union, and Japan have all rejected Beijing’s claim in a rare pursuit of parallel policies. 
Similarly, there is growing unease in the United States and the European Union about Chinese direct investment: Beijing targets tech companies in the West to accelerate its efforts to make a leap in advanced manufacturing (e.g., semiconductors, artificial intelligence, robotics) while blocking reciprocal access for Western firms.
But Beijing is skillful in using the enticement of its markets to divide competitors, and if past is prologue, there will be limits to how much individual European nations follow EU-wide policies.
China’s growing focus on Europe is also heavily weighted toward economics, but it fits into a broader global strategy to position Beijing as a dominant player in a post-American world. 
Though still more aspirational than real, China is pursuing a new connectivity of Europe and Asia with its so-called One Belt, One Road policy, a Eurasian vision that has been generally well received in Europe. 
One Belt, One Road would comprise an overland belt of railways, roads, and bridges and a maritime road of seaports stretching to the Middle East and Africa. 
One Belt, One Road also provides China an outlet for the excess capacity of its state-owned enterprises in sectors such as steel, cement, and aluminum, whose subsidized overproduction has helped sustain China’s economic growth.
It is no accident that 14 EU nations joined Beijing’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank when it opened its doors last year. 
The Bank -- membership of which Washington has spurned -- along with China’s large state banks and a new $40 billion Silk Road Fund, are seen as principal financiers of One Belt, One Road infrastructure projects, though its lending is not limited to OBOR-related projects.

China-EU Eurasian Connectivity

Many of the projects now repackaged as part of One Belt, One Road were planned or began in Europe before Xi Jinping announced the initiative in 2013. 
A wide array of infrastructure projects such as a container port in Piraeus, Greece, is being modernized by China’s shipping giant, COSCO. 
Chinese firms are interested in seaports in Belgium, the Netherlands, Croatia, Italy, Spain, and Latvia, among others. 
Chinese firms are also exploring airport construction projects in a number of European cities.
European analysts see China looking to new transport corridors: a trans-Eurasian link from China to Europe via Poland and Germany, and a south-north link from Greece via Central Europe to the Baltics. 
One prominent OBOR project is a planned Belgrade-to-Budapest railway. 
Chinese rail-related firms are also engaged in connecting China with a network of cities from Poland and Germany to France and Spain.
In addition, China has seen London’s financial center as an important hub for accelerating the internationalization of the renminbi as a reserve currency. 
However, it is unclear to what extent that role will continue after the United Kingdom departs from the European Union.

China-EU or China-Europeans?
In a slow-growth Europe, attracting investment is a priority, and clearly many EU nations are responding to China’s economic opportunities. 
But the interest and impact of Chinese economic involvement, from One Belt, One Road and foreign direct investment to renminbi hubs, has varied across Europe. 
Reconciling OBOR with the European Union’s regulatory regime may also limit possibilities. 
The absence of any disciplined EU foreign policy also suggests that European responses to Beijing’s overtures will vary.
While China’s infrastructure investment has been broadly welcomed across Europe, there does exist a growing wariness of China as a global actor in Europe writ large. 
China’s mercantilism and assertive maritime behavior have drawn public EU responses, such as a 2016 statement condemning Chinese actions in the South China Sea. 
This skepticism is reflected in the European Commission’s 2016 report outlining a new strategy toward China.
The report calls for strengthening cooperation with Beijing, but it stresses the importance of such engagement being based on transparency, global norms and rules, and reciprocity -- a word repeated throughout the report. 
It criticizes China’s industrial overcapacity, its dumping of goods from steel and other sectors into EU markets, and its “Made in China 2025” industrial policy that seeks to create Chinese national champions in advanced manufacturing sectors at the expense of Western competitors.
The European Union is in the process of negotiating trade and investment agreements with China that will test that rhetoric. 
These issues will loom prominently at the upcoming EU-China annual Summit, a gathering spurred by Trump’s economic nationalist views, which have led not just the European Union, but other U.S. allies and partners like Japan, to search for new multilateral trade arrangements.
China’s growing trade with and investment in Europe has economic and strategic implications for the United States. 
EU-China economic ties heighten competition for U.S. firms in what has historically been a close transatlantic relationship, with $609 billion in trade for 2016 and some $1.9 trillion in cross-investment. 
But over time, it could presage a decreasing European reliance on the United States and a fragmenting West with an economically integrated Eurasia shifting power and influence away from the United States and toward China.

Chinese Duplicity and American Delusion

China won’t confirm sanctions on North Korea, as US claims
By Associated Press
Koreas Tension
The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson is headed toward the Korean Peninsula for an exercise with South Korea.

BEIJING — China’s foreign ministry on Friday refused to confirm or deny U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s assertion that Beijing has threatened to impose unilateral sanctions on North Korea if it conducts further nuclear tests.
Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang reiterated China’s support for U.N. sanctions on the North but repeatedly avoided giving a direct answer when asked at a daily press briefing about what other plans China might be considering.
“As for what kind of actions China will take if North Korea conducts another nuclear test, it is a hypothetical question and there is much speculation about that, so I have no comment on it,” Geng said.
“China firmly opposes any actions that violate the United Nations Security Council resolutions. This position is quite clear,” he said.
China wants North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program, but has opposed unilateral sanctions imposed without a U.N. mandate.
Beijing has come under growing U.S. pressure to use its leverage as North Korea’s largest trading partner and main source of food and fuel aid to compel Pyongyang to heed U.N. resolutions.
Tillerson said Thursday that Washington knew China was in communication with the regime in Pyongyang.
“They confirmed to us that they had requested the regime conduct no further nuclear test,” he said on Fox News Channel.
Tillerson said China also told the U.S. that it had informed North Korea “that if they did conduct further nuclear tests, China would be taking sanctions actions on their own.”
Earlier Thursday, the senior U.S. Navy officer overseeing military operations in the Pacific said the crisis with North Korea is at the worst point he’s ever seen, but he declined to compare the situation to the Cuban missile crisis decades ago.

World's Stupidest President

Trump talk about Koreas draws China silence, dispute from Seoul
By Christopher Bodeen and Youkyung Lee

In this Tuesday, April 25, 2017 photo released by the U.S. Navy, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer, left, is underway alongside the Republic of Korea multirole guided-missile destroyer Wang Geon during a bilateral exercise. Wayne E. Meyer was on a scheduled western Pacific deployment with aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. 

BEIJING — Trump's assertions about the Koreas drew silence Friday in Beijing, which refused to confirm it was turning up pressure on North Korea, and consternation in Seoul, which dismissed Donald Trump’s claim that he would get South Korea to renegotiate a trade deal and make it pay for a missile defense system.
South Korea contradicted statements Trump made in an interview Thursday with Reuters news agency in which he also said there is “a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea,” as the North continues to develop nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
Regarding the South, Trump said he would fix or end what he called a “horrible” bilateral trade deal, and would make the Asian ally pay $1 billion for the THAAD missile defense system now being deployed in its territory.
Woo Taehee, South Korea’s vice trade minister, said the country had not been notified of any trade renegotiation, and that there have been no working-level talks with the U.S. regarding the 5-year-old trade deal.
Woo said the trade ministry was trying to confirm the details of the media reports on Trump’s remarks. 
He said there have been “no pre-talks” with the U.S. regarding the issue.
The U.S.-South Korea free trade deal is not the only free trade pact that the Trump administration is reconsidering. 
Earlier this week the White House leaked the possibility of the U.S. abandoning the North American Free Trade Agreement. 
Trump called that off hours later, saying he would seek to renegotiate the trade deal with Canada and Mexico and pull out of NAFTA only if he couldn’t secure a favorable deal.
In a separate statement, South Korea’s defense ministry said there is no change in its plan under which the U.S. covers the cost for operating THAAD, now being deployed in the country’s southeast. Under an agreement reached during the administration of Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, South Korea offers the land and facilities for THAAD but not the cost of operations, the Defense Ministry said.
The U.S. missile defense system, meant to deter North Korean aggression, has become a thorny issue between South Korea and China, which opposes it because its powerful radars can peer through not only North Korean but Chinese defenses. 
At the same time, Trump has lauded Xi Jinping since their meeting in Florida early this month, expressing confidence that China will try to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson went a step further Thursday, saying that China has threatened to impose unilateral sanctions on North Korea if it conducts further nuclear tests. 
Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang would not confirm that Friday.
Geng reiterated China’s support for U.N. sanctions on the North but repeatedly avoided giving a direct answer when asked at a daily news briefing about what other plans China might be considering.
“As for what kind of actions China will take if North Korea conducts another nuclear test, it is a hypothetical question and there is much speculation about that, so I have no comment on it,” Geng said.
“China firmly opposes any actions that violate the United Nations Security Council resolutions. This position is quite clear,” he said.
China wants North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program, but has opposed unilateral sanctions imposed without a U.N. mandate.
Beijing has come under growing U.S. pressure to use its leverage as North Korea’s largest trading partner and main source of food and fuel aid to compel it to heed U.N. resolutions.
Tillerson said Thursday that Washington was aware that China was in communication with the government in Pyongyang.
“They confirmed to us that they had requested the regime conduct no further nuclear test,” he said on Fox News Channel.
Tillerson said China also told the U.S. that it had informed North Korea “that if they did conduct further nuclear tests, China would be taking sanctions actions on their own.”
While Beijing says it backs the U.S. in finding a diplomatic solution to the crisis, it remains unclear what actions it has taken or plans to take beyond those mandated by the U.N.
China in January suspended coal imports from North Korea for the rest of the year, but it did so following the passage of a Security Council resolution capping the North’s coal exports. 
Other economic activity with North Korea remains robust.
Notwithstanding Tillerson’s comments, there’s scant evidence that China’s government has changed policies, said Daniel Sneider, a Korea expert from Stanford University’s Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center.
While China might take actions intended to send a message to North Korea — a recent shortage of gasoline in Pyongyang sparked speculation that China was working behind the scenes — Beijing is firmly opposed to measures that might seriously destabilize the regime, possibly sending refugees across the border into China and placing U.S. and South Korean troops in the North.
North Korea exists as a client state of China for the sake of China, not us, and because the Chinese don’t want to have the Korean Peninsula dominated by the U.S.,” Sneider said.
“Their main goal is to keep the Americans from doing something crazy and see if they can drag the North Koreans back to the negotiating process where they can reduce the level of tensions.”

China vs. Islam

China bans list of Islamic names

In this Thursday, May 1, 2014 file photo, an Uighur woman carries a toddler as children play near a cage protecting heavily armed Chinese paramilitary policemen on duty in East Turkestan.

BEIJING – Authorities in western China are prohibiting parents from naming their children Islamic names in the latest effort to dilute the influence of religion on life in the ethnic Uighur minority heartland.
"Muhammad," ''Jihad" and "Islam" are among at least 29 names now banned in the heavily Muslim region, according to a list distributed by overseas Uighur activists.
If a parent chooses one of the barred names, the child will be denied government benefits.
The names listed on the government document disseminated by Uighur groups include several related to historic religious or political figures and some place names.
"Imam," ''Hajj," ''Turknaz," ''Azhar" and "Wahhab" are on the list, as are "Saddam," ''Arafat," Medina" and "Cairo."
Judgment calls about which names are deemed to be "overly religious" will be made by local government officials, according to Radio Free Asia, the U.S.-funded radio service which first reported the naming directive.
An official at a county-level public security office said names were banned because they had a "religious background." 
It is unclear how widespread the ban is or whether it is tightly enforced. 
The official refused to identify herself, as is common with Chinese officials.
The naming restrictions are part of a broader government effort to secularize East Turkestan, which is home to roughly 10 million Uighurs, a Turkic people who mostly follow Sunni Islam.
Top officials including Xinjiang (East Turkestan)'s Communist Party chief have publicly said that radical Islamic thought has infiltrated the region from Central Asia, protracting a bloody, yearslong insurgency that has claimed hundreds of lives.
Government-linked scholars and high-ranking officials, including Xi Jinping, have urged local governments to better assimilate their Muslim minorities into the majority Han Chinese culture, and many ethnic policy hard-liners have decried a trend of so-called "Arabization" affecting China's 21 million Muslims.
Aside from the prohibition on Islamic names, local Xinjiang (East Turkestan) officials have prohibited Islamic veils, while government-linked commentators have called for bans of mosques with domes or other Middle Eastern architectural styles.
Uighur activists and human rights groups say that radical thought had never gained widespread traction, but restrictions on religious expression are fueling a cycle of radicalization and violence.
For instance, "Mehmet," the widely seen Turkic version of "Muhammad," is considered "mainstream" in Xinjiang and would likely be permitted, RFA reported.
Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the overseas World Uighur Congress activist group, called the naming directive a policy bearing a "hostile attitude" toward Uighurs.
"Han parents choosing Western names are considered trendy but Uighurs have to accept Chinese regulations or else be accused of being separatists or terrorists," Raxit said.

Trump's Mongolism Syndrome

Trump says he would check with China before another call with Taiwan’s president
By Emily Rauhala 

Mongolism is an obsolete name for Down syndrome (MedicineNet.com)

SHANGHAI — President Trump said Thursday that he would not speak directly with Taiwan’s president without first checking with Xi Jinping, a striking reversal sure to rile Taipei and please Beijing.
Trump’s comments, made in an interview with Reuters, came a day after Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen told the same news agency that she would be open to a second call with Trump, depending on “the needs of the situation and the U.S. government’s consideration of regional affairs.”
In his interview, however, Trump spoke warmly about the Chinese president and acknowledged the need not make things “difficult” for him.
“Look, my problem is I have established a very good personal relationship with Xi. I really feel that he is doing everything in his power to help us with a big situation,” he said.
“So I wouldn’t want to be causing difficulty right now for him. I think he’s doing an amazing job as a leader and I wouldn’t want to do anything that comes in the way of that. So I would certainly want to speak to him first,” he said.
In December, the U.S. president-elect shocked many by taking a call from Tsai and then tweeting about it repeatedly, raising questions about whether the new U.S. administration would take a tougher line on China and bolster ties to Taiwan.
In the months since, however, Trump has moved in the opposite direction, reassuring China, inviting Xi to sip tea at Mar-a-Lago and, on Thursday, directly praising Chinese president’s leadership.
As is often the case with the U.S. president, it is not clear whether Thursday’s comments amount to a change in policy or are just another off-the cuff remark. 
Either way, it will not play well in Taipei.
Though the U.S. press initially cast the Trump-Tsai call as a gaffe, much of Taiwan saw it as a deft diplomatic maneuver.
As a thriving democracy claimed by the authoritarian power across the strait, Taiwan’s international efforts are often blocked by Beijing.
When the U.S. opened diplomatic relations with China in 1979, it broke of formal ties to Taiwan. Under what’s know as the one-China policy, Washington acknowledges China’s contention that there is only one Chinese government but does not endorse it, and maintains “robust unofficial” relations with Taiwan.
Under Tsai’s and Trump’s predecessors, Barack Obama and Ma Ying-jeou, Taiwan-U.S. ties were not a particular focus; Ma ran on a promise to pursue closer economic and trade links with China and the Obama administration, for the most part, took a hands off approach.
Many in Taipei and Washington worried that the U.S. was not doing enough for Taiwan. 
So, when Trump swept to power, Tsai’s government worked with allies in D.C. to set up a congratulatory call.
Tsai’s government saw the call as a good way to get on the president’s agenda and to show strategic clout. 
Many felt it did just that — that is, until Trump changed course.
“Trump's latest retreat in foreign policy — stating that he would want to consult with Xi Jinping before again speaking to Tsai Ing-Wen — is a clear disappointment to those who hoped Trump’s policy toward Taiwan would demonstrate a new flexibility,” said William A. Stanton, who served as de facto U.S. ambassador to Taiwan from 2009 to 2012 and now heads the Center for Asia Policy at Taiwan’s National Tsing Hua University.
Bonnie Glaser, a senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the timing of Tsai’s interview and comments were far from ideal and could hinder progress in U.S.-Taiwan economic and military ties.
All this is good news for Beijing, which will count the comments about Taiwan — and Xi — as a coup.
Wu Xinbo, a professor at the Center for American Studies at Shanghai’s Fudan university said that Trump had “learned his lesson” and “would not provoke China again.”
“Trump will not sacrifice cooperation with China for Taiwan, especially now that there is such positive momentum after the meetings between the two leaders,” Wu said, referring to the Mar-a-Lago meet. 
 “He wouldn’t be so foolish to accept Tsai Ing-wen’s phone call now.”
Other experts stressed that the balance between the U.S., China and Taiwan is apt to tilt yet again as the new president tries his hand at foreign policy.
“It may of course be that, like so many of his policy pronouncements, this romance with Xi will not last,” Stanton said.
“Trump was first willing to trade the continuance of the U.S. “one-China” policy for a trade deal with China, then willing to trade bilateral trade issues with China for help with North Korea, and now seems ready to sell improved relations with Taiwan for his imagined friendship with China's leader.”
Shen Dingli, deputy director of the Institute for International Studies at Fudan, said Trump’s approach does not necessarily mean that he will always side with China.
“He is evaluating what China can offer him and what Taiwan can give him,” he said.
“If China does not help him, then the momentum will change; if Taiwan will help him, he will pick up the phone again.”

jeudi 27 avril 2017

What you need to know about China’s most wanted man

By Zheping Huang
Can't stop won't stop.

The Chinese government can’t seem to do anything about its most wanted man, who now lives in exile in the US.
Guo Wengui is not the first businessperson to have fled China, perhaps with secret information about the ruling elite. 
Previous fugitives, however, have either decided to stay silent and keep their whereabouts secret (paywall), or have been forcefully taken back to China before they can kick up too much of a fuss.
Guo is an outlier. 
Equipped with masterful social media skills, and protected by bodyguards (link in Chinese) in his Manhattan penthouse, Guo has been making serious accusations of corruption against China’s former and current officials. 
One of them, Wang Qishan, is widely considered the second-most powerful man in the nation.
The episode offers a good example of how the intricate ties between China’s rich and powerful can risk turning into a liability. 
If Guo is to be believed, China’s ruling Communist Party may be far more corrupt than the party is ready to ever publicly admit.

Who the heck is he?

Guo, also known as Miles Kwok, is a Chinese property tycoon who has been living overseas for more than two years. 
At the height of his career, Guo had a net worth of $2.6 billion, ranking 74th among China’s richest in 2014, according to the Hurun Report
One of his most well-known properties is the Pangu Plaza, a torch-shaped building close to Beijing’s Olympic stadium.

The 50-year-old billionaire first came to the spotlight during a corporate feud in late 2014. 
At the time Guo sought to acquire a large stake in Founder Securities, China’s sixth-largest brokerage, but squabbled over the terms with his former business partner Li You, who was the head of Founder’s state-owned parent.
The aborted business deal ended badly for both sides. 
In January 2015, Li was arrested by police on alleged corruption charges, and soon afterwards, Ma Jian, a former deputy spy chief who is reportedly a close ally to Guo, was also investigated for corruption.
In March 2015, Chinese financial news outlet Caixin published an investigative report (link in Chinese) detailing how Guo developed close ties with high-ranking Chinese officials including Ma to further his business interests. 
The report also revealed that in 2006 Guo secretly recorded a sex tape of a Beijing deputy mayor for not approving the Pangu project initially.
Guo denied that report and launched a personal attack on Caixin’s influential editor-in-chief Hu Shuli
In response, Caixin sued Guo for defamation.

What does he allege?
Since then, Guo has stayed quiet for the most part as he shuttled between Europe and the US—until recently. 
In the last few months he has taken to Twitter enthusiastically and granted several interviews with US-based publications, accusing former and current Chinese Communist Party officials of corruption.
“Striving for China’s true rule of law!” he says in his Twitter bio
“This is just the beginning!”
One of his latest allegations of corruption is against Wang Qishan, China’s top graft-buster who’s known to be a close ally of Xi Jinping
In a live interview with the Voice of America (VOA) last week, Guo claimed that deputy national police chief Fu Zhenhua, on behalf of Xi, had demanded he look into Wang’s nephew’s investment in Hainan Airlines—a very busy acquirer of travel-related assets around the world in the last few years. 
Guo said that Fu had made threats against his family to force him to cooperate. 
Guo said Fu told him that “Chairman Xi just uses (Wang), but doesn’t trust him.”
Guo also went after Wang’s predecessor, He Guoqiang, the former top disciplinary official before Xi came to office in 2012. 
In a March interview with Mirror Media Group, a Chinese-language news outlet based in Long Island, Guo claimed that He’s son He Jintao was the behind-the-scenes backer of Guo’s business rival Li You, the second-biggest shareholder in Founder Securities, who is now in jail.
The New York Times, citing corporate records and an interview with He’s relative, reported (paywall) that the He family did appear to control a stake in Founder through a series of shell companies.
Guo claims his assets in China were seized, and that his family members and former employees are being detained. 
He says he owns 11 passports, including ones from the European Union and the US, and that he hasn’t used any Chinese identification for more than two decades.

What does the Chinese government say?

China has asked Interpol, the international police organization, to issue a “red notice” to seek Guo’s arrest. 
Countries do not have to honor a red notice, which is not an international arrest warrant. 
In November, Interpol appointed a Chinese security official as its new chief.
Chinese authorities did not give reasons for the notice, which was issued just before Guo’s VOA interview. 
Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reported, citing unidentified sources, that Guo is accused of giving about $9 million in bribes to Ma, the disgraced former spy-master.
Guo said in the VOA interview that he was in regular contact with FBI agents, and was not worried about being arrested.
VOA said Chinese officials had expressed concerns about Guo’s interview. 
The Chinese foreign ministry has threatened not to renew VOA’s correspondents’ visas in China in response to the interview. 
VOA abruptly ended the interview early, and later said in a statement that it was due to a “miscommunication.”
Meanwhile, China is publicly going after Guo. 
After the VOA interview, Ma, who has not gone on trial yet, appeared for the first time after his arrest in a 20-minute video on YouTube to confess that he had misused his power to help Guo gain business interests in return for gifts including cash and properties.
The Beijing News reported (link in Chinese), citing unidentified government sources, that two executives of Guo’s Beijing-based companies were arrested last week for bribery and fraud charges. The newspaper also revealed that Xiang Junbo—China’s insurance regulator who was recently arrested—helped Guo get loans that Guo later misappropriated to buy a Hong Kong property in 2014, when Xiang was still working at Agricultural Bank of China, one of the nation’s big-four state banks.
So he must be a big deal.
Guo’s fight against the party establishment comes on the eve of its major leadership reshuffle this fall, when Xi is slated to start his second five-year term.
In the past five years, Xi has netted thousands of allegedly corrupt officials in a seemingly never-ending, ruthless anti-graft campaign steered by his powerful ally Wang. 
Speculation is mounting that Xi is likely to break an unwritten rule on retirement age in the party to let 68-year-old Wang seek a second term. 
Guo’s claims against Wang would seriously damage the legitimacy of Xi’s anti-corruption efforts.
The Chinese Communist Party also hates uncertainty, and Guo’s very public crusade against it is exactly what the party does not need, especially ahead of major events. 
Guo said that in the next few weeks he plans (link in Chinese) to hold a tell-all press conference on China’s anti-corruption campaign, and said he has information on four specific officials including Wang Qishan.
At least for now, no one appears to be able to stop Guo from speaking out from his Manhattan home.

Can anyone stop him?

For a few brief moments, it seemed that Guo may have been silenced.
Twitter briefly suspended Guo’s account today (April 27). 
Almost all of his 103,000 followers had disappeared when the account was back up and running, but those followers were later restored. 
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A similar episode happened to Guo’s Facebook account last week. 
The account was restored after Guo complained about his suspension from Facebook on Twitter. Facebook said that the suspension was a mistake (paywall) due to the company’s automated systems, without elaborating.