vendredi 30 juin 2017

Axis of Evil

U.S. targets Chinese bank, company, individuals over North Korea
By Joel Schectman and David Brunnstrom | WASHINGTON

U.S.Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announces measures taken to maximize pressure on North Korea to abandon its weapons programs during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 29, 2017. 

The United States imposed sanctions on two Chinese citizens and a shipping company on Thursday for helping North Korea's nuclear and missile programs and accused a Chinese bank of laundering money for Pyongyang.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the actions were designed to cut off funds that North Korea uses to build its weapons programs in defiance of U.N. Security Council and unilateral sanctions.
"We will follow the money and cut off the money," he told a news conference.
A Treasury statement identified the bank as the Bank of Dandong and the firm as Dalian Global Unity Shipping Co Ltd
It identified the two individuals as Sun Wei and Li Hong Ri.
The sanctions imposed on the two Chinese citizens and the shipping company blacklists them from doing business with U.S.-tied companies and people.
Bank of Dandong did not respond immediately to a request for comment. 
A staff member at Dalian Global Unity would not comment on the sanctions and subsequent calls to the firm's office in Dalian went unanswered.
Mnuchin said U.S. officials were continuing to look at other companies that may be helping North Korea and may roll out additional sanctions.
Chinese companies have long had a key role in financing Pyongyang. 
However, Mnuchin said the action was not being taken to send China a message. 
"This wasn't aimed at China. We continue to work with them," he said.
Asked about the U.S. sanctions on Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang said that China consistently opposes unilateral sanctions imposed outside the U.N. framework.
"We strongly urge the United States to immediately correct its relevant wrong moves to avoid affecting bilateral cooperation on the relevant issue," he said, without elaborating.
China's ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, said China opposed the United States using domestic laws to impose "long-arm jurisdiction" on Chinese companies or individuals, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.
"If a Chinese company or individual has acted in a way that violates United Nations Security Council resolutions, then China will investigate and handle the issue in accordance with Chinese law," he told an event in Washington on Thursday evening.

U.S. officials told Reuters this week that President Donald Trump was growing increasingly frustrated with China over its inaction on North Korea and bilateral trade issues, and was now considering possible trade actions against Beijing.
A senior White House official told reporters on Wednesday China was "falling far short of what it could bring to bear on North Korea in terms of pressure."
The U.S. move came as Trump was due to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House on Thursday to discuss steps to push North Korea to abandon its weapons programs, which have become an increasing threat to the United States.
It also came after the United States sanctioned a Chinese industrial machinery wholesaler, Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development Co, in September for its ties to North Korea's nuclear program, the first time Washington had taken such a step against a Chinese firm.
China's Foreign Ministry said in the same month Hongxiang was under investigation for "illegal behavior" and "economic crimes" following the provisions of U.N. resolution 2270, which imposed tighter sanctions on North Korea in March.
Mnuchin said the United States would discuss efforts to choke off funding for North Korea's nuclear and missile programs with China and other countries at next week's Group of 20 summit in Germany.
The U.S. Treasury Department said in an online notice published on Thursday the Bank of Dandong had served as a gateway for North Korea to access the U.S. financial system. 
Authorities said 17 percent of Dandong's customer transactions in the bank's U.S. accounts had ties to North Korea.
Anthony Ruggiero, a former senior Treasury official in the Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, said the action against Bank of Dandong was the first time U.S. authorities had sought to punish a Chinese bank accused of helping North Korea.
It would immediately cause Western firms to cut off any transactions with Bank of Dandong, he said. It may also cause financial institutions in Western Europe and the United States to further scrutinize whether their Chinese business could have links to North Korea.
"The designation will make reputable Western banks ask questions about larger financial institutions in China," said Ruggiero, who is now a senior fellow at the non-profit Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Rogue Nation

China Won’t Let Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Laureate, Get Cancer Treatment Abroad

Video clips showing Liu Xiaobo receiving treatment.

BEIJING — The Chinese authorities have refused permission for Liu Xiaobo, a Nobel Peace laureate paroled from prison for cancer treatment, to go abroad for care, one of his lawyers said on Thursday.
The authorities did not explain the rejection, according to the lawyer, Shang Baojun
The news undermined hopes among supporters of Mr. Liu, a writer and dissident, that he might be freed altogether, if not allowed to leave China
He remains under police guard in a hospital.
There have been signs that China’s leaders were growing sensitive to the international attention that Mr. Liu’s case has received, especially allegations that the government had effectively caused him to become gravely ill by failing to treat his liver cancer while he was incarcerated.
The judicial department of the northeastern province of Liaoning, where Mr. Liu has been serving his sentence and is being treated, released a statement Wednesday evening saying that he had received regular checkups in prison and that the cancer had been detected only a month ago.
That followed the release of a video of Mr. Liu in prison — the first public glimpse of him since he was sentenced in 2009 — showing him exercising and undergoing what appeared to be routine medical tests.
The statement said that a team of specialists had convened to oversee Mr. Liu’s treatment on June 7, apparently leading to the decision to transfer him from his jail cell on medical parole. 
The condition of Mr. Liu, who is 61, was not clear from the statement, though his lawyers and friends, citing his wife, said that his cancer was so advanced that there appeared to be little hope of recovery.
Dozens of prominent writers have appealed directly to Xi Jinping to grant Mr. Liu unrestricted medical care, including the opportunity to leave the country if he chooses. 
The appeal, organized by PEN America, also urged the authorities to free Mr. Liu’s wife, the poet Liu Xia, who has been under house arrest since 2010 even though she has never been charged with a crime. 
Ms. Liu has appealed for her husband to be allowed to seek treatment abroad.
“We applaud your decision to grant him medical parole, and hope that it will be accompanied with due regard for the steps necessary to ensure that, however much time he may have, he is afforded the dignity and autonomy that every human being deserves,” read the letter, which was signed by about 50 authors, including Martin Amis, Margaret Atwood, J. M. Coetzee, Philip Roth and Salman Rushdie.
Freedom Now, an advocacy organization in Washington, released a similar appeal, signed by 154 Nobel laureates in each of the prize’s disciplines.
It would be highly unusual for the government to grant someone like Mr. Liu leniency. 
A leader of the protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989, he was one of the main organizers of a public appeal in December 2008 for greater democracy in China, which became known as Charter 08. 
He was swiftly arrested; the following year, he was convicted and sentenced to 11 years in prison.
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 for his “long and nonviolent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” 
He was represented at the ceremony in Oslo by an empty chair.

Terry Branstad, the American ambassador to China. He said he would love to see Liu Xiaobo get treatment “elsewhere,” but he did not explicitly call for Mr. Liu’s release.

Xi, who is preparing for a Communist Party congress in the fall that is expected to consolidate his authority, has overseen a crackdown on dissent since rising to power in 2012.
The new American ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, raised the possibility on Wednesday of Mr. Liu’s release for medical treatment “elsewhere.” 
Speaking to reporters, he also promised to use his personal relationship with Xi, whom he met during a Chinese trade delegation’s visit to Iowa in 1985, to help Trump address thorny issues in the United States-China relationship like human rights.
Branstad did not explicitly appeal for Mr. Liu’s release, and it was not clear whether any efforts were underway behind the scenes to negotiate one.
Trump is expected to meet with Xi at the Group of 20 summit meeting in Germany next week. 
The details of their meeting, which is expected to focus on North Korea’s nuclear weapons, are still being worked out, China’s vice foreign minister, Li Baodong, said at a briefing on Thursday.
The video of Mr. Liu in prison — which first appeared on, a Chinese-language website based in the United States — was clearly filmed and edited by the prison authorities. 
But it was impossible to verify the circumstances surrounding the video, including the timing of its release and whether Mr. Liu consented to its being made.
In it, Mr. Liu briefly speaks through a glass barrier with his wife.
Later, he is shown telling a doctor that he contracted hepatitis B two decades ago. 
The inclusion of that footage appears to be an attempt to suggest that his current illness stemmed from a pre-existing medical condition, not mistreatment behind bars. 
Hepatitis B increases the risk of developing liver cancer, according to the World Health Organization.
Ms. Liu, who is also said to be in poor health, has been allowed to visit her husband in No. 1 Hospital of the China Medical University in Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning, but the police officers guarding him have not permitted his lawyers or others see him.
An acquaintance of the couple who lives abroad, Liao Yiwu, said Ms. Liu wrote a letter in April suggesting that her husband had agreed to leave China if he were released, and that she also wanted to do so. 
If the authorities’ claim about Mr. Liu’s diagnosis is correct, then it was written before she knew of his cancer.
“I am sick of my life, this grotesque life,” reads the letter, which was posted on social media. 
“I want to tear the version of myself who lives in this grotesque life to pieces. I long to escape.”
Global Times, a state-run newspaper, published a scathing editorial Wednesday night about the concern for Mr. Liu’s health. 
It appeared only in English, suggesting it was not intended to draw Chinese readers’ attention to Mr. Liu’s case. 
“The West put a halo on Liu for their political goals, but this cannot change Liu’s risk of cancer,” it read. 
The editorial, which was unsigned, went on to say that Mr. Liu was “an ordinary prisoner.”
“He ought to be grateful for the extra help from the prison authorities, but he and his supporters have no right to demand preferential treatment,” it read.

China builds new missile shelters on South China Sea islands

Trump fails to change Beijing’s course despite friendly relationship with Xi 
By Demetri Sevastopulo in Washington and Charles Clover in Beijing

China has built new military facilities on disputed islands in the South China Sea, suggesting that the friendly relationship Donald Trump and Xi Jinping kindled at their April summit has not convinced China to change its maritime course.
Over the past three months, China has built four new missile shelters on Fiery Cross, boosting the number of installations on the reef to 12, according to satellite images provided to the Financial Times by the Center for Strategic and International Studies..
China has also expanded radar facilities on Fiery Cross and two other disputed reefs — Subi and Mischief — in the Spratly Islands chain, and started building underground structures that Greg Poling, director of CSIS’s Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, assesses will be used to store munitions.
“We haven’t seen any slowdown in construction, including since the Mar-a-Lago summit,” said Mr Poling.
“The islands are built and they are clearly militarised, which means they already got over the hard part. Now every time they put in a new radar or new missile shelter, it is harder for the world to get angry. They are building a gun, they are just not putting the bullets in yet.”
The advances underscore how much progress China has made towards militarising the man-made islands in ways that significantly enhance its ability to both monitor activity in the South China Sea and to project power in the western Pacific where the US has been the dominant power in the seven decades since the second world war.
Euan Graham, an Asia expert at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, said it was “not quite game over in the South China Sea” but that China had fundamentally altered the status quo over the islands that would be hard to change barring war or natural disasters.
“They already exert a strategic effect by projecting China’s presence much further out,” said Mr Graham.
“They will not prevent the US Navy from operating in their vicinity, but they will complicate the threat environment for US ships and aircraft — by extending the [Chinese navy’s] surveillance and targeting net, as well as the envelope of power projection.”
During a visit to Washington, Xi told Barack Obama in 2015 that China would not militarise the man-made islands, but in the intervening 20 months Beijing has stepped up construction, and now has runways that can accommodate Chinese fighter jets. 
Asked about freedom of navigation and new construction in the South China Sea, a People’s Liberation Army spokesperson said there were no issues about maritime freedom, and that there was “no problem with China’s freedom to carry out construction on its own territory”.
Li Keqiang in March said the islands were “primarily for civilian purposes” and that any defence facilities on them were “for maintaining the freedom of navigation”.
But the foreign ministry in April said the “deployment of necessary national defence facilities is for the aim of safeguarding China’s own territory”.
China’s legal claim to the seas around the maritime features is legally controversial since many were dredged out of coral and sand and thus not entitled to status as islands.
But Vasily Kashin, an expert on the Chinese military at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, said the goal was never legal sovereignty but to give China forward bases from which it could patrol and exercise control in their vicinity. 
“If you have this infrastructure in the Spratlys, it allows China to constantly monitor aircraft and ships in the South China Sea. The point is that no one will be able to do anything in the area without them seeing.”
Ely Ratner, an Asia expert who served in the Obama administration, said Washington had failed to craft a strategy to convince China to halt militarisation of the man-made islands. 
“Until China believes that there will be significant costs . . . I don’t think they have any reason to slow down,” said Mr Ratner.
“They have been pushing on an open door and have been surprised at how little resistance they have faced.” 
The Obama administration took too cautious an approach to avoid creating tensions.
Meanwhile, some experts say the Trump team has given China a relatively free pass to maximise the chances it will boost pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear programme.
Mr Ratner says the US should press Beijing harder, saying analysts tend to overstate China’s willingness to risk conflict with the US over the South China Sea.
“Their relative willingness to take risk has not been tested. There is a lot more running room for us to push back,” he said.

jeudi 29 juin 2017

China's newest destroyer seen as challenge to Asia rivals

  • The new destroyer marks a milestone in the country's naval technology, China says
  • The warship is already provoking worries in India
By Brad Lendon

China launched its newest warship on Wednesday, a large guided-missile destroyer touted as the latest in naval technology and seen as a challenge to naval rivals in Asia.
The ship, dubbed the Type 055 class, represents a big step in the country's military modernization, Chinese government websites pointed out.
"It is the symbol of the navy to achieve strategic transformation development," the People's Liberation Army Navy website said.
The 10,000-ton destroyer has been developed entirely in China, and it breaks new ground for the country in the design and assembly of large naval vessels, according to the PLA Navy website. 
The armaments are also new for the Chinese navy.
"The destroyer is equipped with new type of air defense, anti-missile, anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare weapon," according to the website.
The new ship is comparable in size to the latest destroyers fielded in Asian waters by the United States, Japan and South Korea, analysts have said.
Indian media reports have raised alarms over the launch, pointing out the destroyer is superior to any ship yet completed by the Indian Navy.
"The colossal Type 055 is considerably larger and more powerful than India's latest ... destroyers which have still not been commissioned," a report on NDTV said.

Vessel can carry 100 missiles
The Type 055 will weigh 13,000 tons when fully fitted out with its weapon systems and commissioned, making it the country's largest destroyer, Li Jie, a researcher with the PLA Naval Military Academic Research Institute, said in a February article on the PLA's website.
The Type 055 will be a central part of future Chinese aircraft carrier battle groups, Li said in the article.
"Type 055 guided-missile destroyer carries medium-long-range and medium-short range air-defense missiles, which can significantly improve its overall air defense capability," he said. 
"It also has a strong anti-submarine capability, so it is much more able to protect aircraft carrier battle group than the Type-052D destroyer currently in service."
The new warship will have more than 100 vertical launch tubes for missiles with the ability to strike targets 1,000 to 2,000 kilometers away, according to the PLA report.
China's current Type 052 destroyers carry only 64 missiles, analysts have said.
The Type 055 also features stealth characteristics, the PLA post said, including a small radar cross section and low noise, infrared and electromagnetic radiation.

New destroyer concerns India
The Type 055 appears akin to the US Navy's Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, which debuted in the 1980s and carry 96 missiles each, military analyst Kyle Mizokami wrote last year in Popular Mechanics.
India, which sees China's ambitions for a blue-water navy as a threat in the Indian Ocean, noted Wednesday that China's Type 055 already outguns Indian vessels that are still being built, the report said.
The new Indian destroyers will be at least 2,000 tons lighter than the Chinese ship and will carry fewer than half the missiles of the Type 055.
The Type 055 will undergo "equipment debugging" as it prepares to join the fleet, Chinese government websites said, without giving a target date.

mercredi 28 juin 2017

US joins growing calls for China to allow Liu Xiaobo cancer treatment abroad

Chinese authorities have refused Nobel laureate permission to move home to Beijing or seek medical treatment outside China
By Benjamin Haas in Hong Kong

The US has called for China to completely lift all restrictions on the renowned democracy activist and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, as fears mount he is close to death after being diagnosed with late-stage liver cancer.
In a video posted by a friend, Liu’s wife Liu Xia said the cancer cannot be treated with chemotherapy or operations at this stage.
Liu, 61, was released on medical parole on Monday after serving seven years of an 11-year sentence for inciting subversion of state power. 
According to friends, the medical team treating him said they would attempt a form of targeted therapy, using drugs to stop the growth and spread of the cancer.
Liu was first detained in 2008 after penning a democracy manifesto calling for an end to one-party rule in China and for the Communist party to uphold the constitution.
Liu and his wife want to be allowed to travel outside China to seek medical treatment, but authorities have rebuffed their request. 
Appeals to be moved to his home of Beijing have also been rejected.
“If things continue as they are, if he is not allowed to receive better treatment, then we are just waiting for him to die,” said Hu Jia, a longtime friend of Liu. 
“If he stays where he is, the only option is to make him comfortable with drugs to numb the pain.”
Security is extremely tight at the hospital where Liu is staying in north-east China. 
Agents have been posted outside the inpatient department, according to journalists who tried to visit him from Hong Kong’s HK01 newspaper. 
Uniformed guards were inspecting visitors and searching any bags, the paper said.
Officials in the US have urged Donald Trump to push for his transfer and the state department is “working to gather more information” on his legal and medical condition.
“We call on the Chinese authorities to not only release Mr Liu but also to allow his wife, Ms Liu Xia, out of house arrest,” said Mary Beth Polley, a spokeswoman for the US embassy in Beijing.
China should “provide them the protection and freedom such as freedom of movement and access to medical care of his choosing to which they are entitled under the Chinese constitution and legal system and international commitments,” she added.
China was quick to dismiss calls for Liu to be flown out of the country for treatment.
“All other countries should respect China’s judicial independence and sovereignty and should not use any so-called individual case to interfere in China’s internal affairs,” Lu Kang, a foreign ministry spokesman, said at a regular press briefing. 
Chinese activists in the US have already begun lobbying the White House to negotiate with China, and officials have said they will begin talks to bring Liu to the US, Washington-based dissident Yang Jianli said on Twitter.
At the same time, Trump is facing calls from within his own party to ensure Liu is allowed to leave China for treatment.
“I urge President Trump to seek Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo’s immediate humanitarian transfer to the United States,” said the Republican senator Marco Rubio, who chairs the US congressional-executive commission on China
Liu Xiaobo, and countless others like him who courageously seek peaceful change in China, are heroes worthy of honour, not criminals deserving to be tortured or unjustly punished.”
About 70 protesters in Hong Kong took to the streets, plastering the Chinese government’s main office in the city with Liu’s picture, demanding his immediate release and chanting that the Chinese government was a “murderer”. 
The former British colony is the only place on Chinese soil that allows freedom of expression.
Since coming to power in 2012, Xi Jinping has launched a series of crackdowns on civil society in an attempt to silence feminist activists, human rights lawyers and book publishers.
Liu won the Nobel peace prize in 2010, less than a year after he was jailed. 
literary critic and scholar, Liu was previously jailed for two years following the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protests and subsequent massacre.
Shortly after Liu was awarded the prize, Liu Xia was placed under house arrest. 
She has remained confined to her apartment for almost seven years, except for monthly visits to see her husband, despite never being charged with any crime.
Liu Xia’s hospital visit to her husband this week is thought to be the first time since 2010 the couple were allowed to touch. 
After Liu’s Nobel prize win, their meetings were highly restricted and constantly monitored by prison guards.

Liu Xiaobo's unbearable fate is stark symbol of where China is heading

Treatment of dying Nobel peace prize winner is emblematic of China’s iron rule. Tania Branigan on the remarkable man she nearly met – the day he was arrested.
By Tania Branigan

There was no sign of Liu Xiaobo in the Beijing coffee shop – a confusion over the place or time we had arranged to meet, I assumed.
But he wasn’t answering his mobile phone and a call to his home brought worrying news: 10 police had arrived late the night before and taken him away.
Even then, the writer’s disappearance did not seem overly concerning.
Chinese dissidents and activists were used to pressure from the authorities and brief detentions for questioning, or worse.
But Liu enjoyed a relative degree of tolerance because of his high profile, though he’d been jailed over 1989’s Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests when he helped broker a peaceful exit from the square for the remaining demonstrators amid the bloody crackdown – and again in the 90s.
This time was different.
He never returned to the flat he shared with his wife, and now he never will.
There were months of detention, then a charge of inciting subversion of state power, finally a sentence: 11 years, the longest known term since the crime had been introduced.
Today brought the last, unbearable shock.
The 61-year-old is in the late stages of terminal liver cancer, diagnosed only weeks ago – in itself a reflection of medical care in Chinese prisons.
His friends are stunned and grieving.
The news has sickened many more who, like me, never had the chance to meet him.

US joins growing calls for China to allow Liu Xiaobo cancer treatment abroad

His release to a hospital, apparently on medical parole, saves China the embarrassment of a Nobel peace prize winner dying behind bars.
But it is almost certain that access to him will remain tightly restricted.
It is not even guaranteed that his wife will have the chance to say goodbye.
Liu Xia has been under house arrest since a few months after her husband’s detention, under the most punitive conditions. 
The life of this once serene and resilient woman has been wrecked.
Friends say she has depression and heart problems.
Beijing’s position is clear: China has no dissidents and Liu Xiaobo is a criminal.
His offence was to co-author and gather signatures for a landmark call for reforms, though he did not initiate it and was seized before it was released.
Though Charter 08 mostly called for the Communist party to uphold commitments made in its own constitution it was a coherent and forthright challenge to the party’s rule, calling for peaceful democratic reform.
There was no indication it had real mass appeal, still less a political impact.
But it was a sign of the times.
Liu believed the space for civil society was developing.
By 2008, despite the tight political grip, China’s lawyers, intellectuals and grassroots campaigners had carved out a surprising amount of room for themselves.
In part through the internet, despite extensive censorship, but also through imaginative tactics and discussion, they found new ways to tackle injustices, question authorities and highlight abuses.
They grew bolder.

A woman wears a badge asking for the release of Liu Xiaobao outside the legislative council in Hong Kong, in 2010. 

Liu’s arrest was a sign of the times too.
The security apparatus seized its opportunity.
In China, people talk of killing the chicken to scare the monkeys – making an example of someone to warn others.
Since Liu’s detention, the crackdown on dissent, activism and civil society more generally has mounted month by month.
Beijing has expanded the security apparatus, introduced repressive new laws and tightened censorship. 
Rights lawyers, activists and others have been disbarred, detained and jailed.
Many have made detailed allegations of torture, which the government denies.
All of this has been accompanied by ideological tightening across academia, religion, even state media and officialdom itself: a sort of sterilisation of the environment.
The Nobel peace prize meant a great deal to Liu – who told his wife he dedicated it “to the martyrs of Tiananmen Square” – and to others like him.
But it also spurred Beijing to up the ante in two regards as it sought to stamp out criticism.
The first change was very personal: the marked deterioration in the conditions of Liu Xia, who had spoken out repeatedly about her husband, and the extension of pressure to others.
Her brother Liu Hui – who had supported her financially and carried her messages to her jailed husband – was jailed for 13 years for fraud.
She called it “simply persecution”.
The second was international.
Beijing has never appreciated overseas criticism of its human rights record, but after the peace prize it toughened its stance, determined that countries should pay a price for challenging it.
The punishment of Norway, because its Nobel committee had made the award, sent a message to the rest of the world: stay out of it. 
Increasingly, foreign governments have listened.

As they talk up trade and mute their human rights concerns they might consider Liu’s dedication to his ideals, whatever the cost and circumstances.
When the 1989 protests broke out, he was in the US: he decided to return to China though fully aware of the risks.
In his final statement to the court which jailed him, he told the police, prosecutors and judges that they were not his enemies: “I have no hatred.”
There are reports he was offered the chance of exile in exchange for a confession after the Nobel prize, but his lawyer said he had always been clear he would accept only unconditional release.
So he is, in many ways, remarkable.
But he is also representative.
He is not the only dissident to be released shortly before dying from a condition that might well have been treatable with decent medical care in prison and earlier parole. 
Since security agents seized him that night in December 2008, many more have followed him into detention and jail.
Many more relatives have been targeted for highlighting what has happened to their loved ones.
“Where is China headed in the 21st century?” asked Charter 08.
“Will it continue with ‘modernisation’ under authoritarian rule, or will it embrace universal human values, join the mainstream of civilised nations, and build a democratic system? There can be no avoiding these questions.”
Beijing has given its answer, and his name is Liu Xiaobo.

President Trump considering China sanctions over North Korea

Inaction over Pyongyang and trade war have prompted the US president to look at options including tariffs on steel imports

The President is apparently impatient with China but will not make a decision on his course of action this week.

US president Donald Trump is growing increasingly frustrated with China over its inaction on North Korea and bilateral trade issues and is now considering possible trade actions against Beijing, three senior administration officials told Reuters.
The officials said Trump was impatient with China and was looking at options including tariffs on steel imports, which commerce secretary Wilbur Ross has already said he is considering as part of a national security study of the domestic steel industry.

US declares China among worst human trafficking offenders

Whether Trump would actually take any steps against China remains unclear. 
In April, he backed off from a threat to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) after he said Canadian and Mexican leaders asked him to halt a planned executive order in favour of opening discussions.
The officials said there was no consensus yet on the way forward with China and they did not say what other options were being studied. 
No decision was expected this week, a senior official said.
Chinese steel is already subject to dozens of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy orders. 
As a result it has only a small share of the US market.
“What’s guiding this is he ran to protect American industry and American workers,” one of the US officials said, referring to Trump’s 2016 election promise to take a hard line on trade with China.
On North Korea, Trump “feels like he gave China a chance to make a difference” but has not seen enough results, the official said.
The US has pressed China to exert more economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea to help rein in its nuclear and missile programs. 
Beijing has repeatedly said its influence on North Korea is limited and that it is doing all it can.
“They did a little, not a lot,” the official said. 
“And if he’s not going to get what he needs on that, he needs to move ahead on his broader agenda on trade and on North Korea.”
The death of American university student Otto Warmbier last week, after his release from 17 months of imprisonment in Pyongyang, has further complicated Trump’s approach to North Korea, his top national security challenge.
Trump signalled his disappointment with China’s efforts in a tweet a week ago: “While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!”
Trump had made a grand gesture of his desire for warm ties with Xi Jinping when he played host to Xi in April at his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Palm Beach, Florida. 
“I think China will be stepping up,” Trump said at the time.
Since then, however, North Korea’s tests of long-range missiles have continued unabated and there have been reports Pyongyang is preparing for another underground nuclear test.
Trump dropped by last Thursday when White House national security adviser HR McMaster and Trump senior adviser Jared Kushner were meeting Chinese state councillor Yang Jiechi, an official said. 
China’s inability to make headway on North Korea was one of the topics that was discussed, according to two people familiar with the meeting.
Officials in Beijing did not respond to a request for comment on the meeting.

Beijing’s Nobel Shame

Trump should call on China to let a dying hero travel to the U.S. for care
The Washington Post

Protesters wear masks of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo. 

FOR TWO decades, Liu Xiaobo has been one of China’s foremost advocates of human rights and peaceful democratic reform. 
For that, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 — but he has also suffered unrelenting persecution and mistreatment by his own government. 
Now comes the ultimate abuse: Having failed to treat Mr. Liu for liver cancer until it was too late to do so, the regime of Xi Jinping has transferred him to a hospital in the city of Shenyang — so that it cannot be said that he died in prison. 
This cosmetic act of clemency should not stop the democratic world, led by the United States, from holding China up for condemnation for its unconscionable treatment of one of its most important freedom fighters.
Mr. Liu was a leader during the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. But his most important contribution was his work in authoring Charter 08, a petition calling for freedom of association, an independent legal system, separation of powers and other elements of liberal governance that would allow China to “join the mainstream of civilized nations.” 
Mr. Liu was the first of more than 10,000 people who signed; for that he was arrested and, in 2009, sentenced to 11 years in prison. 
His wife, Liu Xia, was illegally placed under house arrest; anyone else who supported him was subjected to persecution.
When the Nobel Committee chose Mr. Liu, China became the first regime since Nazi Germany to prevent an honoree or their family members from traveling to Oslo. 
Since then, it has worked relentlessly to silence support for him abroad as well as at home, with lamentable success. 
Barack Obama spoke out only once on behalf of Mr. Liu, and many other Western leaders were altogether silent — intimidated by the punishments the regime inflicted on Norway after the Nobel was awarded. 
Since taking power in 2012, Xi has greatly increased repression of liberal voices, including not just democracy advocates but also liberal academics, journalists and lawyers who defend those subjected to abuses of power. 
He seems intent on establishing that China will never embrace the freedoms that Mr. Liu fought for.
On Tuesday , the State Department joined human rights activists in calling on China to allow Mr. Liu freedom to travel to a place of his own choosing for medical care. 
According to a U.S.-based advocate, Jared Genser, the 61-year-old dissident has asked authorities to allow him and his wife to travel to the United States.
But the U.S. statement came from a low-level official, the spokeswoman of the embassy in Beijing, when it ought to be delivered directly by President Trump to Xi. 
Mr. Liu’s case is a signal example of why China lacks the moral capacity to exercise global leadership. 
By advocating for this dying hero of human rights, Mr. Trump could show that the United States still lives by different values.

Rogue Nation

China Is Worst Human Trafficking Offender

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson at the White House on Monday. The State Department dropped China to the lowest tier of its ranking this year in its annual assessment of global efforts to end forms of modern slavery. 

WASHINGTON — China is among the world’s worst offenders for allowing modern slavery to thrive within its borders, according to a strongly worded State Department report released Tuesday.
In its annual assessment of global efforts to end human trafficking — with an estimated 20 million people remaining in bondage around the world — the State Department dropped China to the lowest tier of its ranking this year, as it did with the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo.
Those three nations joined 20 others already in that lowest designation, including Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela.
The report found that prosecutions for various forms of human trafficking — which include sex trafficking, including of children; forced and bonded labor; domestic servitude; and the unlawful use of child soldiers — dropped by nearly a quarter between 2015 and 2016, the first time the world had seen such a significant drop in recent years.
“Ending human trafficking is among the top priorities of the Trump administration,” Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and a key adviser, said in an event held Tuesday morning at the State Department to formally release the 17th annual report on the issue.
Ms. Trump singled out child sex trafficking. 
“On a personal level, as a mother, this is much more than a policy priority,” she said.
She joined Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson to release the report, and he spoke with a passion rarely displayed during his early tenure in public office.
“It is our hope that the 21st century will be the last century of human trafficking,” he said.
Mr. Tillerson had previously cautioned that values cannot be an obstacle to national security or economic interests. 
But, on Tuesday, he linked the problem of human trafficking to his top priority, ending North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile program.
Between 50,000 and 80,000 North Koreans are forced to work overseas, mostly in China and Russia, he said, and their wages are used by the North Korean government to fund its illicit weapons programs.
“Supply chains creating many products that Americans enjoy may be utilizing forced labor,” Mr. Tillerson said while Ms. Trump sat nearby. 
Ms. Trump’s shoe brand has come under criticism for its use of Chinese labor as well as the disappearance of three labor activists investigating conditions at the plants making her shoes.
Mr. Tillerson was criticized in March for failing to attend the release of the department’s annual human rights report, in what was considered a rare breach of a longstanding tradition by secretaries of state.
The report released Tuesday noted significant improvements in efforts to combat trafficking in 26 countries, including Afghanistan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Ukraine.
Mr. Tillerson noted that Afghanistan was upgraded in part for its efforts to crack down on powerful male leaders sexually abusing boys. 
Malaysia was upgraded because of a significant increase in prosecutions for such offenses as employers who impound workers’ passports.
Qatar also earned an upgrade despite continuing concerns about migrant labor used to construct facilities for the 2022 World Cup.
Some human rights activists were critical of the report.
David Abramowitz, managing director of Humanity United, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending human trafficking, described “serious concerns” about this year’s report, which he said “included unjustified upgrades to Burma, Malaysia and Qatar and a failure to downgrade Thailand.”
Among the other reasons China was dropped to the lowest tier was forced labor among drug addicts and ethnic minorities, as well as reports that the country continued to forcibly repatriate North Koreans despite threats that Pyongyang would punish such returnees with prison and forced labor.
The fierce criticism of China promises to accelerate a rapid worsening of relations with the Asian nation that had briefly benefited from good feelings generated by an April summit meeting between President Trump and Xi Jinping at Mr. Trump’s Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago.
Mr. Trump decided to brush aside his fierce campaign criticisms of China’s currency and trade practices in hopes that the country would rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. 
But Mr. Trump acknowledged last week that China had done little to pressure the government in Pyongyang, marking a failure of one of the administration’s top foreign policy priorities.
The Commerce Department is expected this week to announce that for national security reasons, the domestic steel industry must be saved from imports, beginning a process that could lead to significant tariffs being placed on imported steel. 
That action would likely infuriate the Chinese.
Thus, the designation of China as one of the world’s worst offenders in human trafficking is part of a cascade of signals from Washington that relations between the United States and China could soon slide steeply downhill, just as relations between the United States and Russia are reaching depths not seen since the Cold War.
Iceland was downgraded to the second tier of countries for failing to prosecute any suspected traffickers for the sixth consecutive year while also decreasing the number of investigations into suspected trafficking. 
The rankings of Bangladesh, Guatemala, Hungary, Iraq, Liberia and Nicaragua were also downgraded.

mardi 27 juin 2017

Political Murder

Nobel laureate's supporters call for inquiry into prison treatment.
Prison officials said Liu is being treated at a hospital in Shenyang city.
A growing chorus of Chinese human-rights lawyers and activists are calling for Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist Liu Xiaobo's unconditional release after he was granted medical parole to undergo treatment for late-stage liver cancer.
The US also added its voice on Tuesday urging China to give Liu and his wife, Liu Xia, freedom to move and choose his own doctors.
A brief video has emerged of Liu Xia tearfully telling a friend that no treatment -- surgery, radiation or chemotherapy -- would work for her husband at this point.
"[They] cannot perform surgery, cannot perform radiotherapy, cannot perform chemotherapy," Liu Xia, who has been under effective house arrest since 2010, says in the video.
The news has shocked and angered supporters and human-rights campaigners, who questioned if the democracy advocate had received adequate care or whether the Chinese government had deliberately allowed him to wither in prison.
Liu was jailed for 11 years in 2009 for "inciting subversion of state power" after he helped write a petition known as "Charter 08" calling for sweeping political reforms.
China has criticised calls for Liu's release as "irresponsible" and interference in its internal affairs.
Hundreds of Chinese lawyers, activists and friends have signed a petition calling on authorities to give Liu "complete freedom" and allow his wife to "have contact with the outside world".
They also called on authorities to carry out a "thorough investigation" into the circumstances that led to the deterioration of his health.

'Deliberately sentenced'
Prison officials said Liu is being treated by "eight renowned Chinese oncologists" at a hospital in the northeastern city of Shenyang. 
Friends of the couple told AFP news agency that Liu Xia has been allowed to visit him there.
Wu'er Kaixi and Wang Dan, former student leaders at the 1989 Tiananmen democracy protests who now live overseas, posted a joint statement on Twitter saying China had "deliberately sentenced him to death".
In Hong Kong, about 70 supporters of Liu took to the streets to demand his immediate release on Tuesday, chanting slogans denouncing the Chinese government as a "murderer".

Dozens protested in Hong Kong on Tuesday over Liu's treatment in prison.
Human rights campaigners also demanded to know whether Liu received any medical treatment while he was in jail and why he was not given parole earlier.
"It's very difficult to understand why his illness is only being treated at the last stage," said Amnesty International's Patrick Poon.
Human Rights Watch's Sophie Richardson, citing two other cases of critics who died in detention, said the government "needs to be held to account for permitting yet another peaceful critic to fall gravely ill while unjustly detained".
She said China had a history of allowing "peaceful critics to become gravely ill and die in detention".
Among them are Tibetan monk Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, who was 13 years into a life sentence for terrorism and separatism when he died in prison in July 2015.
Cao Shunli, a Chinese dissident, died in custody in March 2014 after being denied medical treatment for months.
Some said Liu's treatment heightened concerns over lesser-known activists still languishing in prison.
Liu's medical parole was not a humanitarian gesture, but rather a cynical attempt by authorities to avoid a backlash for allowing such a well-known rights defender to die behind bars.
Chen Guangcheng, a human-rights lawyer who fled to the US in 2012, said: "If Liu died in prison this would arouse the anger of the people and accelerate the demise of the CCP [Chinese Communist Party]."

South China Sea: Modi, Not Duterte, Is China's Problem

By Panos Mourdoukoutas

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s foreign policy flip-flops aren’t a big threat to China’s ambitions to write the navigation rules for the South China Sea. 
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s high profile diplomacy is, something investors should keep a close eye on, as it complicates the geopolitical risks in the region.
India doesn't border the South China Sea. 
But it has very much been involved in the ongoing disputes between China on the one side, and the US and its allies. 
“We are already working together to address the existing and emerging strategic and security challenges that affect both our nations—in Afghanistan, West Asia, the large maritime space of the Indo-Pacific, the new and unanticipated threats in cyberspace,” stated Modi in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece published on the day he made his official visit in the White House.
“We also share an interest in ensuring that sea lanes—critical lifelines of trade and energy—remain secure and open to all.”
Apparently, India is siding openly with Washington on freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, something China is disputing. 
Beijing considers that body of water its own sea.
This isn’t the first time Modi meddles with South China Sea disputes. 
Last October he didn’t miss the chance to bring up an international arbitration ruling, which found that China has no historic title over the waters.
That was during his visits to Singapore and Vietnam, trying to revive an allied front against China’s ambitions, according to a China Topix report.
India’s high diplomacy on South China Sea disputes has very little to do with the dispute per se and plenty to do with China’s unofficial agenda to encircle India through Pakistan and Sri Lanka, by pursuing massive infrastructure projects – like The China Pakistan Economic Corridor(CPEC) in Pakistan, and the building and modernizing of ports in both Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Then there are a couple of Chinese foreign policies that have irritated India. 
Like Beijing’s open support for Pakistan in the India-Pakistan Kashmir standoff, as evidenced by statements by China’s senior officials last year.
"We support Pakistan, and we will speak for Pakistan in every forum. We attach great importance to Pakistan's position on Kashmir," Li Keqiang told his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the ongoing 71st session of United Nations General Assembly in New York, as quoted in Pakistan Today.
Then there’s China’s refusal to support India’s bid to join the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG). Officially, Beijing claims that India doesn’t satisfy the conditions for joining the elite group. 
But the real reason is to be found elsewhere. 
China wants to punish New Delhi for growing closer to US in recent years, serving Washington’s policy to contain China. 
“US backing adds the biggest impetus to India’s ambition,” stated a Global Times editorial, back in June. 
“By cozying up to India, Washington’s India policy actually serves the purpose of containing China.
The US is not the whole world. Its endorsement does not mean India has won the backing of the world. This basic fact, however, has been ignored by India.”
So, India must pay a price for ignoring China. 
But China cannot ignore India either, as it can amass enough support to spoil Beijing’s’ South China Sea and Indian Ocean ambitions.
That’s why China should keep a close eye on Modi rather than Duterte.

Axis of Evil

U.S. to list China among worst human trafficking offenders
By Matt Spetalnick | WASHINGTON

The United States plans to place China on its global list of worst offenders in human trafficking and forced labor, said a congressional source and a person familiar with the matter, a step that could aggravate tension with Beijing that has eased under President Donald Trump.
The reprimand of China, Washington's main rival in the Asia-Pacific region, would come despite Trump's budding relationship with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and the U.S. president’s efforts to coax Beijing into helping to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has decided to drop China to "Tier 3," the lowest grade, putting it alongside Iran, North Korea and Syria among others, said the sources, who have knowledge of the internal deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The rating is expected to be announced on Tuesday in an annual report published by the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. 
A State Department official declined to comment on the report's contents and said the department "does not discuss details of internal deliberations."
Tier 3 rating can trigger sanctions limiting access to U.S. and international aid, but U.S. presidents frequently waive such action.
While it was unclear what led Tillerson to downgrade China, last year's report criticized the communist government for not doing enough to curb "state-sponsored forced labor" and concluded it did not meet "minimum standards" for fighting trafficking.
The Trump administration has also grown concerned about conditions in China for North Korean labor crews that are contracted through Pyongyang and provide hard currency for the North Korean leadership, which is squeezed for cash by international sanctions, said the congressional source.
In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the government was resolute in its resolve to fight human trafficking and the results were plain to see.
"China resolutely opposes the U.S. side making thoughtless remarks in accordance with its own domestic law about other countries' work in fighting human trafficking," he told a daily news briefing.
Since taking office, Trump has praised Xi for agreeing to work on the North Korea issue during a Florida summit in April and has held back on attacking Chinese trade practices he railed against during the presidential campaign.
But Trump has recently suggested he was running out of patience with China's modest steps to pressure North Korea, which is working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States.
The annual report, covering more than 180 countries and territories, calls itself the world’s most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-human trafficking efforts.
It organizes countries into tiers based on trafficking and forced labor records: Tier 1 for nations that meet minimum U.S. standards; Tier 2 for those making significant efforts to meet those standards; Tier 2 "Watch List" for those that deserve special scrutiny; and Tier 3 for countries that fail to comply with the minimum U.S. standards and are not making significant efforts.
For the past three years, China has been ranked "Tier 2 Watch List".
In Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.
In 2015, Reuters reported that experts in the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons had sought to downgrade China that year to Tier 3 but were overruled by senior diplomats.

State Terrorism

Political murder: anger after terminally ill Chinese Nobel laureate released from prison
By Benjamin Haas in Hong Kong

An undated handout image of Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel peace prize winner. 

China’s dissident community has expressed anger, shock and sadness that the country’s best-known political prisoner – the democracy activist and Nobel peace prize winner Liu Xiaobo – has been transferred to hospital after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer.
Liu, 61, had been serving an 11-year prison sentence for inciting subversion of state power. 
His lawyer, Mo Shaoping, who has been in contact with Liu’s family, said he was now in the late stages of disease. 
Another of Liu’s lawyers, Shang Baojun, said he had been diagnosed on 23 May.

Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo released from Chinese prison with late-stage cancer

“This type of late-stage cancer is very difficult to treat. It would have been easier if it was discovered sooner,” Shang said. 
“It’s extremely serious.”
News of Liu’s diagnosis was met with an outpouring of anger from activists in China and abroad.
“This is simply a political murder, this is how the Communist party deals with its enemies, a prisoner of conscience dying just outside a jail cell,” said Hu Jia, a fellow activist who has known Liu for more than a decade and previously collaborated with him. 
“I’ve been to prison in China. The medical care is terrible and I’m sure China’s leaders were hoping for this outcome.”
In a rare statement, the Norwegian Nobel committee, which awarded Liu the prize in 2010, said: “Liu Xiaobo has fought a relentless struggle in favour of democracy and human rights in China and has already paid a heavy price. Chinese authorities carry a heavy responsibility if Liu Xiaobo, because of his imprisonment, has been denied necessary medical treatment.”
Liu is being treated by a team of eight doctors at the First Hospital of China Medical University in the north-eastern city of Shenyang, according to the provincial prison bureau, which also confirmed his medical parole.
Friends and family worry he may not receive the best care. 
He has asked to return to his home of Beijing to undergo medical treatment, but the authorities refused permission to do so.
“It adds injury to insult that Liu Xiaobo, who should never have been put in prison in the first place, has been diagnosed with a grave illness,” said Patrick Poon, a China researcher at Amnesty International. 
“The Chinese authorities should immediately ensure that Liu Xiaobo receives adequate medical care, effective access to his family and that he and all others imprisoned solely for exercising their human rights are immediately and unconditionally released.”
Liu was arrested in 2008 after writing a pro-democracy manifesto called Charter 08, in which he called for an end to one-party rule and improvements in human rights. 
Following a year in detention and a two-hour trial, he was sentenced to 11 years in December 2009.
Little has been heard from him since, and he was represented by an empty chair during the 2010 the Nobel peace prize award ceremony
In his absence, Liu’s final statement to the court entitled “I have no enemies” was read in place of his speech.
“Enemy mentality will poison the spirit of a nation, incite cruel mortal struggles, destroy a society’s tolerance and humanity, and hinder a nation’s progress toward freedom and democracy,” one section read. 
“That is why I hope to be able to transcend my personal experiences as I look upon our nation’s development and social change, to counter the regime’s hostility with utmost goodwill, and to dispel hatred with love.”
Zhang Xuezhong, a legal scholar and human rights activist, said Liu had been a symbol of hope for many years.
“It’s known that Liu Xiaobo and his family have made a tremendous sacrifice for the cause of freedom and democracy for China,” said Zhang. 
“This is unfortunate news for him and his family, and it’s a blow to China’s democracy movement, as so many people have placed hope in him, and rightfully so.”

Sophie Richardson, the China director at Human Rights Watch, said: “The Chinese government’s culpability for wrongfully imprisoning Liu Xiaobo is deepened by the fact that they released him only when he became gravely ill.”
A foreign ministry spokesman was “not aware of the situation” when asked about Liu’s case at a daily press briefing.
A literary critic and scholar, Liu was previously jailed for two years in the wake of the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protests and subsequent massacre.
His wife, Liu Xia, has been under house arrest since her husband won his Nobel prize and has reportedly suffered from depression and insomnia because of her isolation. 
She has not been formally charged with a crime despite spending the past seven years confined to her apartment.
Any meetings between the couple, usually one a month, are watched over by prison guards who interrupt any conversation they deem unsavoury. 
They are not allowed to touch.
More than 1,400 political dissidents are detained in China, according to a US congressional database, but the number is probably higher because information about topics deemed sensitive by the ruling Communist party is heavily censored.
Since coming to power in 2012, Xi Jinping has overseen a wide-ranging crackdown on civil society, including the arrest of feminist activists, human rights lawyers and book publishers.
Liu’s 2010 Nobel prize infuriated the Chinese government and relations with Norway quickly deteriorated. 
Normal relations were only restored in December 2016, when the country said it “attaches high importance to China’s core interests and major concerns, will not support actions that undermine them, and will do its best to avoid any future damage to the bilateral relations”.

Beijing’s Nobel Shame

Liu Xiaobo will be remembered long after Xi Jinping is forgotten.
The Wall Street Journal

Liu Xiaobo, winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, is suffering from late-stage liver cancer, the world learned Monday. 
His lawyer says China has granted Mr. Liu “medical parole,” and he is receiving treatment in a Shenyang hospital. 
But Beijing can’t shirk responsibility for his condition, which should have been treated aggressively earlier, and for his years of incarceration and separation from his family, which were a cruel injustice.
China imprisoned Mr. Liu in 2008 and sentenced him to 11 years in prison for “incitement to subversion of state power.” 
His crime? 
He helped write Charter 08, a peaceful call for political reform signed by thousands of Chinese. 
The manifesto was based on Charter 77, a Soviet-era human-rights petition written by Czech dissidents including Vaclav Havel.
As the Nobel citation noted, “Liu has consistently maintained that the sentence violates both China’s own constitution and fundamental human rights.” 
Beijing continues to imprison anyone who protests its failure to abide by its own laws.
China also tries to punish foreign individuals and institutions that expose its human-rights abuses. 
That includes the nation of Norway, home to the Nobel Committee. 
After Mr. Liu won the Peace Prize, which is administered by a private foundation, Beijing curtailed diplomatic relations and trade on grounds that Norway had honored a “criminal.” 
Chinese authorities also put his wife, Liu Xia, under house arrest. 
Such ruthlessnees is a hallmark of the current generation of Chinese Communist rulers.
The world heard nothing directly from Mr. Liu during his nine years in prison, but his wife spoke to him shortly after his sentencing. 
“When he decides to do something, he doesn’t regret it,” she said. 
“He said he hopes to be the last person punished for practicing freedom of expression.” 
Long after the Communist Party is discarded and Xi Jinping is forgotten, Mr. Liu will be remembered as an historic figure in the fight for Chinese freedom.

lundi 26 juin 2017

Sina Delenda Est

China's Secret Landgrab (No, Not in the South China Sea)
By Zachary Keck

While China’s actions in the South China Sea have garnered more headlines, Beijing has quietly been pursuing another land grab in the Himalayan Mountains.
“Bite by kilometer-size bite, China is eating away at India’s Himalayan borderlands,” Brahma Chellaney, one of India’s foremost strategic thinkers, warned in a recent op-ed
“For decades, Asia’s two giants have fought a bulletless war for territory along their high-altitude border. Recently, though, China has become more assertive, underscoring the need for a new Indian containment strategy.”
Indeed, the Wall Street Journal reported in September 2014 that there was 334 Chinese transgressions across India’s border in the first half of that year. 
That came on the heels on 411 Chinese transgressions the year before, and 426 the year before that. These numbers have dropped off slightly in recent years, but the damage may already be done: former Indian intelligence officers estimate that China has stolen nearly two thousand square miles from India over the past few years.
As Chellaney notes, China’s strategy to acquire this land bears many similarities to its tactics in the South China Sea. 
First, it has civilians of different stripes—“herders, farmers, and grazers”—settle the land. 
Once the civilians are in place, the People’s Liberation Army comes in to provide protection. 
This allows them to establish a more permanent presence in the area. 
Once it establishes this foothold, according Chellaney, China begins “cutting off access to an adversary’s previously controlled territory and gradually surrounding it with multiple civilian and security layers.”
In other words, this is a classic salami-slicing strategy, in that no single action is aggressive enough to warrant a strong pushback, but over time, the expansion adds up. 
Although this is how China has maneuvered in the South China Sea, it is actually more similar to how America expanded westward on the frontier during its own rise to power. 
That expansion was also usually led by civilians looking to settle out west, as land in the east became increasingly scarce. 
By gobbling up land in the frontier, however, these American citizens came into conflict with Native Americans, and demanded protection from the United States. 
Although often annoyed by the settlers, who—almost certainly in contrast to China in the Himalayas—were acting on their own accord, Washington ultimately obliged, and it served U.S. grand strategy over the long run.
It is up to India to prevent China from enjoying similar success along their 2,500-mile-long border, which the countries fought a war over in 1962. 
In recent years, India has been bolstering its forces along the border to stop China’s land grab. 
Most notably, in 2013 India announced it was raising a Strike Corps to deploy along the border with China that is expected to consist of two divisions and some eighty to ninety thousand troops. 
The 17 Strike Corps, as India calls it, will be equipped and trained specifically to deal with the tough mountain terrain.
According to Indian strategists, this Strike Corps will also have an offensive capability. 
As one retired general, AK Siwach, explained to Russian media earlier this year: “We already have three Strike Corps against Pakistan... However, we were not having the Strike Corps in use against Chinese in mountains and hence a 17 Strike Corps for mountains have been raised and it will be fully deployed along the China border. So far we only have a defensive mechanism against the China, however with the Strike Corps coming and being raised, we will also have an offensive mechanism.”
While the ambitions for this Strike Corps were high, actual implementation has moved slowly, as is often the case in dealing with India’s notorious military bureaucracy. 
The original plan was for the entire Strike Corps to be ready by the 2017–18 fiscal year. 
Now, only one of the divisions, 59 Infantry Division, will be fully operational by this year, according to recent Indian media articles
The formation of the second division is only just beginning, and is not expected to be ready for two or three years. 
It is also not at all clear if the number of troops will reach the levels initially intended. 
A lack of dedicated funding for the new Strike Corps also raises questions about whether the forces that do exist will be equipped with the necessary equipment to fulfil their mission. 
Indeed, the army can reportedly only fight a war for fifteen to twenty days, because of “crippling” ammunition shortages.
On the positive side, India has been investing in infrastructure along the border. 
Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened a five-mile-long bridge across a river that will expedite the movement of troops and material to the mountainous region. 
This is expected to be followed by a 1,200-mile highway that will cost $6 billion. 
There were also reports this month that India will deploy a squadron of ten weaponized Hindustan Aeronautics Limited Dhruv advanced light helicopters, which will be the first time India’s army has deployed armed helicopters to the area. 
Looking towards the future, Dehli is investing in new artillery, including purchasing 145 M777 Ultra Lightweight Howitzers from the United States.
All of this might not be enough to keep up with China, who has also been bolstering its forces and infrastructure along the border. 
Last year, Chinese state media announced that Beijing was elevating the Tibet Military Command, which is responsible for operations against India, one level above other provincial-level military commands. 
Furthermore, the Jamestown Foundation noted that “China has constructed roads to and along disputed areas, along with additional air bases, landing strips and logistics sites to support military deployments and operations.” 
Most recently it was reported that China is deploying its most advanced tank to the Sino-Indian border. 
In other words, India will likely to have accelerate its efforts if it wants to keep up.

Five Great Inventions

Remember China's Transit Elevated Bus (TEB)? Project is a fiasco, officially scrapped: Authorities in Qinhuangdao have ordered the dismantling of a test-track for the traffic-straddling buses.
By Ken Sunny

A model of an innovative street-straddling bus called Transit Elevated Bus is seen after a test run in Qinhuangdao, Hebei Province, China, August 3, 2016.

The Transit Elevated Bus (TEB), the straddling bus of China shot to the limelight in mid-2016 as a practical and efficient invention to ease traffic congestion. 
The futuristic concept has been displayed with up to 300 passenger capacity. 
The bus allows vehicles to move uninterrupted since it can drive over traffic on a dedicated track.
Designed by Song Youzhou, the TEB-1 was supposed to be China's environmentally-friendly answer to the world's traffic problem. 
However, the project had a premature death owing to multiple reasons. 
One of the main reasons was the simplistic construction of the bus which is not practical in reality. 
Further, even the officials denied any knowledge of the test or association with the project. 
The city's top economic planner even accused the company of not even getting approval for the test.
Now the reports from China say the project has officially been scrapped. 
Authorities in Qinhuangdao in China's Hebei province have ordered the dismantling of a test-track for the traffic-straddling buses, reports EJinsight. 
Workers were seen using electric breakers to dismantle and remove the test-track, indicating that the TEB project has been officially dropped, The Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The interior of a model of an innovative street-straddling bus called Transit Elevated Bus seen after a test run in Qinhuangdao, Hebei Province, China, August 3, 2016.

Multiple reports also claim that residents in the neighbourhood have been seeking demolition of the track, which was said to be causing traffic problems. 
Further, the vehicle's design was not feasible for the real world. 
For example, there was just 6 feet 11 inches of clearance underneath the straddling bus, despite the country's regulations allowing traffic to be as tall as 13 feet 9 inches.
The Transit Elevated Bus was advertised with a speed of up to 60 kmph. 
The Elevated Bus concept showcased consisted of one segment with an option to get four compartments linked up together to accommodate 1,200 passengers at a time. 
In that case, TEB could have replaced 40 conventional buses.

Bumbling Ex-CIA Officer Charged With Selling Secrets to China

A prestigious Chinese think tank provided cover for the intelligence operation that ensnared Kevin Mallory.

Caught with a bag of cash and an electronic device used to communicate with his handlers, a former government official with years of military and intelligence experience is accused of spying for China.
Kevin Mallory of Leesburg, Virginia is charged with providing defense-related information to a foreign government and lying to federal agents.
Mallory provided several classified government documents to a Chinese contact, who initially claimed affiliation with a prestigious Shanghai think tank, in exchange for cash. 
Documents filed by federal prosecutors depict Mallory, an experienced Chinese-speaking former operative, as a bumbling spy who executed his treason clumsily.
Mallory’s career spanned decades and multiple government agencies. 
After graduating from Brigham Young University in 1981, he served as active duty military and then an Army reservist for several years. 
From 1987 to 2013, he worked for different government agencies and U.S. defense contractors — as well as the CIA, according to a report in the Washington Post. 
He held a top secret security clearance for much of that time and was posted to regions including Iraq, China, and Taiwan.
It was only this year that Mallory began to stray from the straight and narrow, according to court documents. 
A Chinese handler posing as an employee of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS) made contact with Mallory during trips to China in March and April.
The SASS is a reputable and internationally known think tank. 
But it also maintains a close working relationship with the Shanghai State Security Bureau, a regional office of the Ministry of State Security, China’s intelligence arm.
In the following weeks, Mallory provided classified documents to Chinese intelligence officials in exchange for $25,000.
The FBI’s affidavit describing Mallory’s espionage activity appears to indicate that the former CIA officer tried to cover up his crimes. 
After he was stopped at Chicago’s O’Hare airport returning from Shanghai with $16,500 in undeclared cash in one of his bags, Mallory approached American intelligence agencies to describe his meetings in Shanghai with individuals he described as Chinese intelligence officers.
Having been caught with a payment that investigators believe was in exchange for classified government information, Mallory disclosed his contacts with the Chinese intelligence officers and may have offered his services as a double agent in order to conceal his espionage on behalf of Beijing. 
The FBI affidavit never claims he offered to serve as a double agent, but in approaching an unspecified government agency with a communications device provided to him by the Chinese, Mallory appears to have made an overture to an American intelligence agency.
“He had a security clearance, he had apparently also worked at CIA, so he knew what he was doing,” said Peter Mattis, a former government analyst and now a fellow at the Jamestown Foundation’s China Program.
But then Mallory made what Mattis called a “stupid mistake.”
Kevin Mallory

The FBI affidavit filed in a Virginia federal court this week paints a picture of extraordinary technical incompetence by Mallory and his Chinese handlers. 
Mallory’s Chinese contacts supplied him with a communications device — likely a smart phone — to exchange messages and transfer classified documents.
In a May 24 meeting with FBI agents, Mallory showed off the device and demonstrated how to move from a “normal” to “secure” messaging mode. 
When he toggled over to the secure mode, he was surprised to find that it displayed a history of his secure messages. 
Mallory seems to have assumed they would be deleted.
Mallory voluntarily turned the device over to the bureau for a forensic analysis. 
When the bureau’s technical experts dug into it, they were able to recover additional secure messages exchanged between Mallory and his Chinese contacts.
In an exchange of messages on May 3, 2017, Mallory’s handler asked why the documents had been blacked out at the top and bottom. 
“The black was to cross out the security classification (TOP SECRET//ORCON//),” Mallory replied. “I had to get it out without the chance of discovery. Unless read in detail, it appeared like a simple note.”
Two days later, Mallory discussed his motives with his handler: “Your object is to gain information, and my object is to be paid.” 
His handler replied: “My current object is to make sure your security and try to reimburse you.”
The FBI analysis also discovered four documents on the phone, three of which are described in court documents as government materials. 
One is top secret; the other two are classified as secret. 
The affidavit provides no hint as to what the documents contain.
Mattis told Foreign Policy that the “scope, scale and potential impact of Chinese intelligence operations” has been of primary concern to U.S. national security agencies for years.
Chinese think tanks, including SASS, work closely with the Ministry of State Security. 
China’s spy arm prefers to meet sources inside China, and social science academies provide a useful front for intelligence and influence operations.
“Chinese think tanks are used to invite someone over who is either a person of interest or a source,” said Mattis. 
“That person comes over and gives a talk, and they’ll be met and have meetings with the local state security element or the People’s Liberation Army.”
But these intelligence-linked Chinese think tanks also maintain a known presence in Washington. 
One of those is the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, which bills itself as a “comprehensive research institution” but which is also an official numbered bureau of the Ministry of State Security, functioning rather like the CIA’s Open Source Center.
The institute actively engages in the Washington think tank ecosystem and also invites U.S. officials and academics for events in Beijing. 
The Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonpartisan Washington think tank, has co-hosted numerous cybersecurity dialogues with the Chinese institute in recent years.
For more than two decades, the institute has sent a fellow to Washington, who stays for a year or two, according to Mattis. 
“I guess some people find value in talking with them,” he said. 
“I have mixed feelings on that score.”