South Korea’s President, Mr. Moon Is Being Played For A Fool!!!

 

 

As most folks know, the Winter Olympics are being staged in South Korea right now. South Korea’s President, Mr. Moon appears to be being ‘played’ for a fool by the Kim family of North Korea during these games. There is a small athletic delegation from the North that are participating as we speak. Among the non-athletes of the North’s delegation is the sister of Kim Jung Un, the mass murdering vicious Dictator self-proclaimed ‘Living God’. The out of touch with reality President of South Korea has welcomed the visitors from the North with open arms. Personally I do not have a problem with allowing the athletics from the North to participate, but it should be under their own flag. Mr. Moon decided that instead of South Korean athletics and the Country of South Korea using the South Korean Flag they are using a ‘unification’ flag and allowing the North Koreans to participate as part of a ‘one Korea’ team. Thus many athletics from the South who have spent many years working their selves half to death to make their Country’s Olympic Team got ‘bumped’ off the team so the unqualified North members could take their place. I say unqualified because to become a member of a country’s team you must have gone through many different qualifying events and either winning them or placing very, very high in those contest. The North’s athletics did none of these things, they were just handed the spots by the insistence of the South Korean President. Now if in team events ‘South Korea’ is able to win a metal, North Koreans also get that metal to take back home for Kim Jung Un to brag about.

 

Enough of the Olympic’s part of this article, now down to the meat of what I am writing to you about tonight. Kim Jung Un’s sister at the direction of her brother has offered President Moon an invitation to visit him in North Korea. The North Korean delegation has been putting on what has been widely referred to as a ‘charm’ campaign this past two months. Mr. Kim of North Korea has widely made it known that he wants the two Korea’s to be ‘unified’, yet the unification is to be under his command with himself as the one and only Leader of the Korean Peninsula. Folks, this is something that the extreme majority of the citizens of South Korea do not want to ever see happen.

 

What is going on is very obvious. The UN has put a lot of sanctions on the Kim government because of their missile program and the firing of ICBM’s as well as their Nuclear Program that Mr. Kim says he will never ever give up. A ‘show’ of Mr. Kim’s intentions was obvious when the North Koreans asked the South Korean government to give them the fuel that would be needed for the ship the North Korean delegation was going to use to make the very, very short trip to the South. Kim is playing the poor, poor pitiful me song and dance trying to get pity from the South Koreans and from the UN. For years the people of North Korea have been starving to death as the very fat Kim Jung Un who just keeps getting fatter and fatter himself. If Kim Jung Un can get the very liberal President Moon to start sending food and oil to the North, that would be a huge win for Mr. Kim. If Mr. Kim can convince the very liberal and gullible President Moon to break the UN sanctions all together, then Russia and China would do the same. What if Mr. Kim can play sweet toward Mr. Moon and could convince him to throw the American military forces out of South Korea and to quit doing military exercises with the U.S. and to quit allowing U.S. ships to use South Korean Ports. It is obvious that the next thing would be the North Korean Army storming the South Korean’s thus unifying the Peninsula under Mr. Kim’s control. Of course this is if Mr. Kim cannot convince President Moon to do this voluntarily. Let’s all give this ongoing situation about  100 days, lets say until June 1st to see how this all shakes out. Another option of course would be if Mr. Kim gets President Moon up North and lets him know if the two Countries do not unite as one that he (Mr. Kim) will nuke the South ‘off the map’. Lets see what the History Books will be saying about this next 100 days. As a very dear old friend of mine used to say, “we shall see, what we shall see”.

How Does Centrally Planned China Raise Capital?-Answer, Hong Kong

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FORBES INVESTING MARKET MOVES)

 

Investing #MarketMoves

How Does Centrally Planned China Raise Capital?

I write financial newsletters for investors on how to profit in Asia.  Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

A general view from Victoria Peak shows Victoria Harbour and the skylines of the Kowloon district (background) and Hong Kong island (foreground) on July 3, 2017. (ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)

Through careful planning and strategic economic policy reforms, mainland China has evolved from a country struck by poverty to the world’s second largest economy. But don’t think this was solely the Chinese bureaucrats’ doing.  The U.K.’s special “present” to China proved to be essential to the story of China’s miraculous development.

In 1997, Tony Blair, who was U.K.’s prime minister at the time, went to Hong Kong to give the city back to Beijing. 156 years of colonial rule had completely transformed the city.

What was once a backwards fishing village, was now one of the worlds’ most important financial hubs.

Hong Kong currently has the highest concentration of international banks in the world. The 71 largest international banks and almost 300 international fund management companies are housed in Hong Kong. The island also has most beneficial legal regulations for both residents and companies.

China basically saw Hong Kong attending a 150 yearlong financial course. The financial powerhouse now belongs back to the Middle Kingdom that uses it to funnel foreign capital into its centrally planned economy. Something the mainland wasn’t able to do by itself.

Never before has a centrally planned economy ever received such a precious gift as Hong Kong.

How Hong Kong feeds China

Companies in planned economies – like China’s – typically have a hard time raising capital. That makes Hong Kong a key factor in China’s economic development.

With its leading financial institutions in place, Hong Kong is able to raise capital unhindered by political or economic instability. A problem free market economies like in the U.S. generally have to deal with.

Four years before Hong Kong was given back to China, it was responsible for 27% of China’s GDP. Let’s put this in perspective. At the time, only 6.5 million people lived in Hong Kong while mainland China had a population of 1 billion people. It’s easy to see that Hong Kong’s impact on China’s economic growth was tremendous.

The mainland did catch up over time as the graph below clearly illustrates. By 2017, Hong Kong accounted for merely 3% of the GDP.

One Road Research

Hong Kong’s Share of China’s GDP

Hong Kong’s return in 1997 coincided with the dramatic rise of China’s GDP.

One Road Research

China’s GDP in Current US$

China’s economic growth was partially due to twenty years of export-oriented policies from Beijing. But without Hong Kong’s well-established financial markets, necessary funds couldn’t have been raised.

Macau’s Cyber-security Law: More About Surveillance (And Censorship)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Macau’s Cybersecurity Law: Less About Security, More About Surveillance (And Censorship)

Graffiti art of surveillance camera. Published and labeled for reuse on Pixabay.

The following article is based on a translation of a post that appeared first in Chinese on Hong Kong citizen media outlet inmediahk.net.

Macau, a former Portuguese colony and a special administrative region on the south coast of China, has begun public consultations on a proposed Cybersecurity Law.

The Macau government is proposing the legislation in an effort to ensure the “security of network communications.” The law would establish a local cybersecurity standing committee and a cybersecurity center which would monitor online information flows in binary code to keep track of and investigate future cyber attacks. The center would coordinate with government departments to supervise and implement protection procedures for companies in 11 crucial sectors, including internet operators, media organizations, water and energy suppliers, financial and banking companies, gambling companies and medical institutions, among others.

The law would also obligate telecommunication operators and internet service providers (ISPs) to implement a real-name registration system, in which all users would be required to be fully identified in all their online activities. The law would require ISPs to keep users’ online activity logs for at least one year.

Various critics say the proposed law will provide a legal framework for mass surveillance, much more so than improve network security.

To look into the rationality behind the legislation, the Chinese Q&A news team interviewed a senior information security analyst who works in one of the 11 crucial sectors listed in the consultation document, to get an insider’s perspective.

Q: Have any hacking incidents taken place in Macau in the past few years? Does the information security sector find it necessary to set up a mechanism for monitoring data flows?

A: There haven’t been any major hacking incidents [affecting public security] in Macau in recent years, neither the public nor the public sector has been attacked by hackers. (The WannaCry kind of ransomware is not target specific attack.)

[Editor’s note: according to media report, apart from the WannaCry ransomware, a Macau ISP operator was hacked in January 2013, but only 34 clients’ information were stolen. This, however, was not considered a serious security breach.]

There is no need to set up a mechanism for monitoring data flows. If we have to monitor data flows, we have to record and analyze all of the data, much like immigration officers unpacking travelers’ baggage. Moreover, this type of monitoring system cannot prevent a cyber attack.

To take it a bit further, here are the two most common forms of cyber attack:

1. Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDOS): A massive DDoS would produce a tremendous amount of data. Recording the data flow would require a huge storage space and a good deal of manpower. In other words, you can’t possibly monitor data flows in a DDoS attack.

2. Hacking of website and private network: In the case of targeted hacking attack, the incident response team of the cybersecurity center would have to get evidence from the server under attack. Of course, evidence can be obtained from a network facility. However, recording and unpacketing all the data packet on the network is a very ineffective way of gathering evidence in the investigation of a cyber attack.

On the other hand, the data flow monitoring mechanism is effective for keyword filtering. For example, when the data packet contains keyword like “Vindication of June 4”, the monitoring system can send out an alert. But this is not a network security measure — it looks much more internet censorship, in the style of mainland China.

Q: The proposed Cybersecurity Law will affect the 11 crucial sectors the most. Has the commercial sector submitted any opinion so far?

A: Commercial sector representatives are still in the process of understanding the content of the proposal. For example, the proposal mentioned that operators of the 11 crucial sectors have to hand in a network security report, but it did not mention what should be included in the report. It also said that operators should conduct a qualification and professional background check when appointing key positions. But what do they mean by “qualification”? Should the employees obtain a license from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information? And what is the meaning of “background check”? Do they need to prove that they love China and Macau? These are major concerns from the information security sector.

Q: Has there been any consultation on the listing of 11 businesses as crucial sectors?

A: There was no consultation among the business sector. The proposal was released on 8 December 2017 without prior notification and we had just one week to prepare for the consultation, which made it a very rushed process.

Q: For the IT sector, what kind of mechanism is more reasonable?

A: As a cybersecurity worker, I don’t think the proposed cybersecurity management framework is capable of maintaining what the draft proposes, which is a “three-level monitoring system that involves top [government authorities] and bottom [business operators] who will integrate strategy and implementation in an organic manner”. To the contrary, the framework will obstruct cybersecurity work.

From the cybersecurity sector’s viewpoint, policy makers and executive personnel should be familiar enough with the technology in order to integrate strategy and implementation in an organic manner.

In the so-called three-level cybersecurity management framework, the business operators would be supervised by government administrative bodies.

Would the government authorities have the ability [i.e. technical know-how] to supervise and protect network safety or assist the business operators to defend against cyber attacks? Why not set up an independent department with professional knowledge to manage the cybersecurity work?

Q: Would the proposed law, such as the policy of SIM card real name registration, affect the economic interest of the business sectors, in particular the gambling, media and ISP sectors?

A: First, regarding real-name registration of SIM cards, the policy would have little effect on the gambling and ISP sectors. Currently when applying for service, users have to provide their identity card or passport for registration. As for media, this is rather sensitive. Reporters’ communication is subjected to wiretapping. If all SIM cards have to be registered with real name, there will be certain negative impact.

Second, regarding operators’ cybersecurity reports, the content of the reports may involve some business secrets and of course the business sector doesn’t want any third party (including the government) to get hold of their secrets. Would the government allow the operators to submit a security report that hides sensitive and important information?

Third, regarding the duty of cooperators, the proposal mentioned that operators have to allow representatives of the cybersecurity center to enter its facilities and offices and assist their work by providing information and cooperation as requested. For those who cannot fulfill their duties, they would be seen as violating the administrative regulation and subjected to a MOP$50,000-150,000 fine for a minor offense and a MOP$150,000-5,000,000 fine for a serious offense.

However, if a business is subjected to cyber attack, the first thing that they do is try to recover the system. In the case of gambling businesses, the security incident would be handled by internal security staff as well as cybersecurity subcontractors who have the most advanced tools and knowledge. Moreover, they have signed an agreement of confidentiality. However, according to the government proposal, the police and the director of Postal and Telecommunication services would be responsible for cybersecurity alerts and prevention measures. For the business sector, of course they would seek help from a professional security team rather than the government authorities. Yet, by doing so, will the business be fined? If the government demands that investigation should come before system recovery, who would cover the loss?

Q: Would the proposed law infringe citizens’ privacy and freedom?

A: It would create a chilling effect for the public. Real-name registration will assist the monitoring of data and people will be worried about the security of private communication. Moreover, currently, ISPs already have the power to monitor our online activities or even intercept the data in the network. With this legislation, such power would be in the hands of the police and people would not know if their communication is being intercepted.

Jinping’s Hero Chairman Mao Murdered More People Than Hitler And Stalin Combined

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THE CHINA SPEAKERS BUREAU’)

 

Mao killed more than Stalin or Hitler – Ian Johnson

Ian Johnson

Who killed more, Hitler or Stalin, is a question often asked. Journalist Ian Johnson, author of The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao, argues – 60 years after the Great Leap Forward started – that Mao Zedong is often wrongly excluded from this debate. But he opts for a nuanced approach in The New York Review of Books, although in numbers Mao beats both Stalin and Hitler.

Ian Johnson:

Yet all these numbers are little more than well-informed guesstimates. There are no records that will magically resolve the question of exactly how many died in the Mao era. We can only extrapolate based on flawed sources. If the percentage of deaths attributable to the famine is slightly changed, that’s the difference between 30 and 45 million deaths. So, in these sorts of discussions, the difference between one and two isn’t infinity but a rounding error.

Mao didn’t order people to their deaths in the same way that Hitler did, so it’s fair to say that Mao’s famine deaths were not genocide—in contrast, arguably, to Stalin’s Holodomor in the Ukraine, the terror-famine described by journalist and historian Anne Applebaum in Red Famine (2017). One can argue that by closing down discussion in 1959, Mao sealed the fate of tens of millions, but almost every legal system in the world recognizes the difference between murder in the first degree and manslaughter or negligence. Shouldn’t the same standards apply to dictators?

When Khrushchev took Stalin off his pedestal, the Soviet state still had Lenin as its idealized founding father. That allowed Khrushchev to purge the dictator without delegitimizing the Soviet state. By contrast, Mao himself and his successors have always realized that he was both China’s Lenin and its Stalin.

Thus, after Mao died, the Communist Party settled on a formula of declaring that Mao had made mistakes—about 30 percent of what he did was declared wrong and 70 percent was right. That’s essentially the formula used today. Mao’s mistakes were set down, and commissions sent out to explore the worst of his crimes, but his picture remains on Tiananmen Square.

Xi Jinping has held fast to this view of Mao in recent years. In Xi’s way of looking at China, the country had roughly thirty years of Maoism and thirty years of Deng Xiaoping’s economic liberalization and rapid growth. Xi has warned that neither era can negate the other; they are inseparable.

How to deal with Mao? Many Chinese, especially those who lived through his rule, do so by publishing underground journals or documentary films. Perhaps typically for a modern consumer society, though, Mao and his memory have also been turned into kitschy products. The first commune—the “Sputnik” commune that launched the Great Leap Forward—is now a retreat for city folk who want to experience the joys of rural life. One in ten villagers there died of famine, and people were dragged off and flayed for trying to hide grain from government officials. Today, urbanites go there to decompress from the stresses of modern life.

Foreigners aren’t exempt from this sort of historical amnesia, either. One of Beijing’s most popular breweries is the “Great Leap” brewery, which features a Mao-era symbol of a fist clenching a beer stein, instead of the clods of grass and earth that farmers tried to eat during the famine. Perhaps because of the revolting idea of a brew pub being named after a famine, the company began in 2015 to explain on its website that the name came not from Maoist history but an obscure Song dynasty song. Only when you’re young and fat, goes the verse, does one dare risk a great leap.

Much more in the New York Review of Books.

Ian Johnson is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

Are you interested in more stories by Ian Johnson? Do check out this list.

Welcome to Lawless Latvia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘LAWLESS LATVIA’ WEBSITE)

 

Welcome to Lawless Latvia

Lawless Latvia provides information about Latvian crimes that are ignored by the corrupt media and authorities. Latvia is the offshore banking center for the former Soviet Union, to the detriment of everyone in the world including Latvians and excluding only a few Oligarchs. The EBRD, EU, IMF, and World Bank are making the problem worse by funding the Oligarchs, fraudulently in the case of the EBRD. Please like or friend us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Learn more about this site »

EBRD openly criminal

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is funded by 65 countries with a mission of fostering transparency and democracy in 30 countries.  From 2009 to 2014, the EBRD was caught running a scam with the Latvian government to temporarily cover-up the disappearance of the assets of Parex Bank.  The government claims that Parex collapsed because of the United States and Sweden, however the real recipients of the disappeared assets were likely Russian oligarchs and Latvian politicians.

From 2009 to 2013, the EBRD insisted that it really bought Parex shares and denied rumors that the privatization was planned to be reversed by a secret guarantee (‘put option’) in 2014.  When the Latvian government did reverse the privatization in 2014, proving that the EBRD was lying and the privatization was a fraud, then the EBRD became silent.

However now something amazing has happened.  The EBRD had admitted on its own website that it is offering a fraud service!  This webpage states that the EBRD will buy shares in a company if the seller guarantees to reverse the investment later!  There is only one reason why a seller (for example a national government) would effectively pay the EBRD to temporarily claim to be owner of shares.  This reason is fraud!  Such transactions are completely illegal since they mislead creditors about the true value of the shares, which for a corrupt and looted government company is usually zero.

We wonder how many of the EBRD’s 30 countries currently have false financial statements because of this racket.

EBRD webpage:

http://www.ebrd.com/work-with-us/project-finance/equity/direct-equity.html%20

pdf in case the EBRD takes down the webpage:

ebrd put option

China’s Leadership Will Never Tolerate Anyone Being Truthful

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWSPAPER ‘SHINE’)

(CHINA’S COMMUNIST PARTY LEADERSHIP WILL NEVER TOLERATE ANYONE WHO DARES SPEAK ‘THE TRUTH’)(trs) 

China probes foreign companies labeling China’s territories as independent countries

Reuters

China’s aviation authority on Friday demanded an apology from Delta Air Lines for listing Taiwan and Tibet as countries on its website, while another government agency took aim at Inditex-owned fashion brand Zara and medical device maker Medtronic Plc for similar issues.

The moves follow a regulator’s decision on Thursday to suspend Marriott International Inc’s Chinese website for a week to punish the world’s biggest hotel chain for listing Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as separate countries in a customer questionnaire.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China asked Delta to investigate the listing of Taiwan and Tibet as countries on its website, and called for an “immediate and public” apology.

The aviation authority also said it would require all foreign airlines operating routes to China to conduct comprehensive investigations of their websites, apps and customer-related information and “strictly comply with China’s laws and regulations to prevent a similar thing from happening.”

In a statement, Delta apologized for making “an inadvertent error with no business or political intention,” saying it recognized the seriousness of the issue and had taken steps to resolve it.

Separately, the same regulator that penalized Marriott – the Shanghai branch of the state cyberspace administration – accused Zara of placing Taiwan in a pull-down list of countries on its Chinese website.

Medtronic had also put “Republic of China (Taiwan)” on one of its websites, the office said in a WeChat post.

Medtronic issued an apology via social media, saying it had updated the website. An executive who answered the phone at Zara’s Shanghai office was not able to immediately comment.

Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular briefing on Friday that Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Tibet were all part of China.

“The companies that come to China should respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, abide by China’s laws, and respect the feelings of the Chinese people. This is the minimum requirement of any company going to another country to carry out business and investment,” he said.

Some Of China’s Neighbors Are Saying No Thanks To China’s Money

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘QUARTZ’ AND THE WEBSITE OF ANDY TAI)

((oped) TO SAY YES TO CHINA’S MONEY IS TO GIVE AWAY YOUR COUNTRY’S SOVEREIGNTY AND THE FREEDOM OF ALL OF YOUR PEOPLE!)(trs)

DAMMED IF YOU DO

More neighbors are saying “no thanks” to Chinese money—for now

December 04, 2017

There’s a learning curve to becoming a superpower, as China, having recently suffered setbacks with two of its neighbors, is learning.

Pakistan and Nepal, each involved in China’s Belt and Road initiative, a massive infrastructure push, announced last month they would no longer seek Chinese funding for two large-scale developments. In mid-November, Pakistan said that China’s conditions for financing the long-delayed $14 billion Diamer-Basha dam on the Indus River—part of the roughly $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor—”were not doable and against our interest,” including as it did China taking ownership of the entire project. Pakistan decided to go ahead with the dam, but to build it by itself.

Around the same time, Nepal decided to stop the $2.5 billion Budhi Gandaki hydropower plant from going forward in the hands of China Gezhouba Group, citing irregularities and the lack of a competitive bidding process. Last week, Nepal said that it would go ahead and build the dam itself, handing the 1,200-megawatt project over to the state-owned Nepal Electricity Authority.

“Very early on the countries along the Belt and Road initiative were at first very excited and happy about Chinese investment,” said Christopher Balding, professor of economics at Peking University HSBC Business School. “But there have been significant changes: Countries now look at how China has behaved with Sri Lanka or with Mexico.”

China, with about 60 other nations, pursue ambitious plans to connect three continents with infrastructure investments.
An ambitious Belt and Road initiative. (Source: The Economist)

In Sri Lanka, the Hambantota port is now on a 99-year lease to China Merchants Port Holdings, which has a 70% stake in the venture. In 2015, Sri Lanka sought a review of how construction of the port had been awarded and halted its development. But in the face of economic and financing difficulties, it backtracked. With some $8 billion owed to China, thanks to loans taken to rebuild after its civil war, Colombo agreed to convert some of this debt into equity in projects.

Further afield, China has asked Mexico for a $600 million refund (link in Spanish) for the scrapping of a railway project.

While most countries along the Belt and Road initiative welcome foreign investment and assistance in building modern infrastructure, the pressure being exercised by Beijing doesn’t always go down well. Countries on the receiving end of Chinese cash are starting to realize that when all is done and dusted, the infrastructure that is built is likely to end up controlled by China.

A common pattern has been for China to sign controversial projects when a pro-China government is in place—as was the case with Sri Lanka’s former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Hambantota port deal—only to see them revisited once less receptive administrations are in power. In Nepal, outgoing prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre), signed a preliminary agreement for the dam in June, just days before he relinquished his post to the rival Nepali Congress as part of a pre-existing power-sharing agreement. Current deputy prime minister Kamal Thapa criticized and scrapped the project for not having gone through open bidding as required by law.

That said, China’s rise in Asia and the world is beyond dispute—and its might is likely to grow as it proceeds firmly with its Belt and Road initiative. And in several countries in Asia and elsewhere, particularly those facing global criticism on human rights or other issues, China’s infrastructure spending plans and hands-off stance on such touchy topics are likely to overcome any reservations toward the country.

Take the example of nearby Myanmar, which in 2011 saw the cancellation (paywall) of a major Chinese hydroelectric project in the face of environmental concerns. In the years since then, Myanmar has been on the receiving end of increasing international criticism due to its purges of the Muslim Rohingya minority. Criticism deepened this year after a particularly harsh pogrom in August saw more than half a million flee to neighboring Bangladesh.

In the same month that the nonprofit Fortify Rights and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum released a major report documenting killings and rape of Rohingya, and the US made the determination that the Myanmar military is carrying out “ethnic cleansing,” China proposed a Pakistan-like economic corridor crossing the country. China is already helping to build a $7 billion port in Rakhine, the western Myanmar state that has seen the worst of the violence. Last week, as Myanmar continued to face criticism over what many see as a flawed agreement with Bangladesh to accept the return of the Rohingya—one that China may have played a role in brokering—Aung San Suu Kyi was in Beijing for a conference of international political parties, and for more discussion on investment.

China can also take heart that the vagaries of electoral fortune in democracies can sometimes revive projects China wants to back. The fate of the Nepali dam, for example, could change yet again as the country holds parliamentary polls for the first time since the end of its civil war just over a decade ago. The final stage of voting will take place Dec. 7. The two main blocks contesting the elections represent a conflicting set of alliances, with one of them saying that it will, should it win, hand the project back to China.

Taiwanese Say Taiwan Representation at China’s National Congress Was Simply Beijing Propaganda

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Many Taiwanese Say Taiwan Representation at China’s National Congress Was Simply Beijing Propaganda

Taiwan-born delegate of 19th CCP Congress, Lu Li’an. Chinese state-owned Xinhua photo.

Mainland China and Taiwan have a rocky relationship. Taiwan is a de facto political entity that has operated independently from mainland China since 1949, when the Kuomintang forces were defeated by the Communists in the civil war and retreated to Taiwan. Beijing has never recognized Taiwan’s independent status and vows to one day “reunite” China and reclaim the territory.

So at first glance, it might seem unusual that Beijing arranges for Taiwan representatives to attend the National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) every five years.

However, the presence of Taiwan delegates at the event is intended as a political demonstration of Beijing’s “one China” principle. In the past, these so-called Taiwan representatives were born in mainland China.

In a break with tradition, the chosen Taiwan delegate at the 19th National Congress held in October 2017, Lu Li’an, was actually born and educated in Taiwan — before she went to China to work as a professor.

Nevertheless, many Taiwanese saw her participation as inane, given that Taiwan is not ruled by China, and a political move meant to pressure Taiwan into accepting Beijing’s understanding of the “one China” principle and suppressing the pro-independence movements in Taiwan.

Since Taiwan has been colonized by different countries throughout its history, Taiwanese defectors are not unheard of. Lu is not the first person (and will not be the last one) leveraged like this. Yifu Lin, for example, who served as the chief economist and senior vice president of the World Bank from 2008 to 2012, swam to mainland China in 1979 when he was a military officer in Taiwan.

While Lu’s presence at the CCP’s National Congress was largely considered a joke in Taiwan, it did touch on the the serious issue of nationality for Taiwanese working in China. Taiwanese law prohibits  Taiwanese from establishing a residence or holding a Chinese passport, or taking positions in the CCP, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, or the Chinese civil service. Given that Lu holds a Chinese passport and became a delegate at the CCP’s National Congress, the Taiwan government decided to revoke her citizenship.

At the same time, Taiwan’s National Security Bureau also announced that they will examine the status of another 19 Taiwanese who have taken positions in the CCP or the People’s Liberation Army.

‘If you upset Taiwanese before you join the [CCP], what use are you’?

To further fire up the discussions in Taiwan, two Taiwanese graduate students from Beijing University publicly declared that they wanted to join the CCP not long after the National Congress.

One of them did so in a letter published on Guancha, an online news and comments aggregator. In it, he claimed that he wants to join the CCP because speech freedom is limited, thought is monopolized, and democracy is controlled by a few people in Taiwan.

The student’s letter was widely condemned in Taiwan, given that Taiwan is ranked 45 and China is ranked 176 in 2017 World Press Freedom Index and Taiwanese voted to choose their president and legislators directly.

Given that Beijing’s goal is to eventually regain control over Taiwan, Joyce Yen, the founder of publishing house Ars Longa Press, explained on Facebook that these two students won’t benefit the CCP like Lu does:

Please notice that [Lu Li’an] did not apply to be a delegate. It is Sha Hailin, the director of the United Front Work Department in Shanghai, who introduced her for this position.
To be chosen as an example for this position, her outlook and communication skills are seriously evaluated.
Regarding those two Taiwanese students who claimed to join the Chinese Communist Party, aside from their background, their outlook and communication skills are too far below the standard. Do they think that the Communist Party would like you only because you say good things about it?
Wrong answer! […] If you upset Taiwanese before you join the Chinese Communist Party, what use are you to their United Front?

The United Front Work Department is one of five departments directly under the CCP’s Central Committee which orchestrates soft power policies at home and abroad. It has a bureau that works on the “one country, two systems” political relationship between China and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao, and recruits the pro-China Taiwanese.

Yi-Luo People, a mainland Chinese exchange student in Taiwan, argued on Facebookthat the Taiwan-born Beijing University students were motivated by material interest to denounce Taiwan:

When they say they are selling Taiwan, it is actually Taiwan’s independence movement on sale. When the pro-independence movement in Taiwan becomes stronger, Beijing will pay more and more to build up a united front in Taiwan.

[Quote from the writer’s letter to local media outlet] “As a Henan-born Chinese, it is obvious that I cannot get what they get from the Chinese Communist Party even if I shamelessly sell out my homeland. It is the same for anyone born in Beijing, Shanghai, Sichuan, or Guangdong. What Taiwanese differ from us is that Taiwan is a de facto independent country and has its own government, military, and diplomatic interactions with those Euro-American countries no matter how Beijing claims it to be part of China.’

‘I love Taiwan, and I love China as my home country, too.’

Putting border politics aside, the controversy surrounding Lu has put many Taiwanese in a difficult situation. While neither Taiwan nor China allows dual citizenship, quite a number of Taiwanese working in mainland China or couples married across the Taiwan Strait have attained citizenship in China. If they are forced to choose between the two, they must either give up their work in mainland China or conform to Chinese patriotic sentiment, which expects a person to love the country more than their homeland.

Even CCP delegate Lu Li’an faced criticism from mainland Chinese patriots when she told a Taiwanese reporter during the CCP Congress that “I love Taiwan, and I love China as my home country, too.” Her answer was viewed by some mainland Chinese as “politically incorrect”. A Weibo user called “Lazy-fish-play-in-Weibo” explained the logic of Lu’s critics:

People who [criticized Lu’s answer], Lu’s response “I love Taiwan, and I love China too” does not sound right. They don’t like the word “too” because they interpreted “too” as the second place. Which means she had not put China in the first place. Secondly, she seems to separate Taiwan from China. […] This author even prepared a model answer for her. S/he suggested Lu say, “I love China, and I love Taiwan as part (or a province) of China, [or] I also love Taiwan because it belongs to China.”

After Tsai Ing-Wen, who is the leader of Taiwan’s pro-independence party, won the presidential election in 2016, Beijing cut off diplomatic dialogue with the Taiwanese government and pressured other countries to end their relations. On the other hand, China’s United Front Work Department has tried very hard to win support from elites in Taiwan. Recently, China’s Fujian Province claimed to open 1,000 positions in universities for Taiwanese academics to apply. To apply or not to apply for the positions — the choice will be both personal and political.

LIFE UNDER KIM JONG UN “THE GREAT SUCCESSOR”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

LIFE UNDER KIM JONG UN

Recent North Korean escapees relate how the secretive country has changed under the “Great Successor.”

Illustrations by Dominic Bugatto. Yoonjung Seo assisted in the reporting.

English

(영어)

Korean

(한국어)

“In North Korea, life only gets better if the state helps you. But these days, the state doesn’t help. We’re on our own.”

— The bride, now 23, from Hyesan. Escaped from North Korea in May 2017

When Kim Jong Un became the leader of North Korea almost six years ago, many North Koreans thought that their lives were going to improve. He offered the hope of generational change in the world’s longest-running communist dynasty. After all, he was so young. A millennial. Someone with experience of the outside world.

But the “Great Successor,” as he is called by the regime, has turned out to be every bit as brutal as his father and grandfather before him. Even as he has allowed greater economic freedom, he has tried to seal the country off more than ever, tightening security along the border with China and stepping up the punishments for those who dare to try to cross it. And at home, freedom of speech, and of thought, is still a mirage.

In six months of interviews in South Korea and Thailand, The Washington Post talked with more than 25 North Koreans from different walks of life who lived in Kim Jong Un’s North Korea and managed to escape from it. In barbecue restaurants, cramped apartments and hotel rooms, these refugees provided the fullest account to date of daily life inside North Korea and how it has changed, and how it hasn’t, since Kim took over from his father, Kim Jong Il, at the end of 2011. Many are from the northern parts of the country that border China — the part of North Korea where life is toughest, and where knowledge about the outside world just across the river is most widespread — and are from the relatively small segment of the population that is prepared to take the risks involved in trying to escape.

Some parts of their stories cannot be independently verified because of the secretive nature of the regime, and their names have been withheld to protect their family members still in North Korea. They were introduced to The Post by groups that help North Korean escapees, including No Chain for North KoreaWoorion and Liberty in North Korea.

But in talking about their personal experiences, including torture and the culture of surveillance, they recounted the hardships of daily life under Kim Jong Un’s regime. They paint a picture of a once-communist state that has all but broken down, its state-directed economy at a standstill. Today, North Koreans are making their own way, earning money in an entrepreneurial and often illegal fashion. There are only a few problems in North Korea these days that money can’t solve.

As life inside North Korea is changing, so too are people’s reasons for escaping.

Increasingly, North Koreans are not fleeing their totalitarian state because they are hungry, as they did during the 15 or so years following the outbreak of a devastating famine in the mid-1990s. Now, they are leaving because they are disillusioned.

Market activity is exploding, and with that comes a flow of information, whether as chitchat from traders who cross into China or as soap operas loaded on USB sticks. And this leads many North Koreans to dream in a way they hadn’t before.

Some are leaving North Korea because they want their children to get a better education. Some are leaving because their dreams of success and riches in the North Korean system are being thwarted. And some are leaving because they want to be able to speak their minds.

A NEW KIM AT THE HELM

“Standing at the forefront of the Korean revolution is Kim Jong Un, great successor to the revolutionary cause of Juche [self reliance ideology] and outstanding leader of our party, army and people.”

Korean Central News Agency — Dec. 19, 2011

The young mother

젊은 어머니

From: Hoeryong, Age: 29

Escaped in 2014

I could see how young he was, and I hoped that maybe things were going to get better. We were given some rations through our neighborhood association — we even got meat and fish — at the time he took over.

The preschooler

유치원생

From: Hoeryong, Age: 7

Escaped in 2014

I remember how fat he was. He had a very fat face like a pig.

As the regime started preparing for Kim’s succession, it put out a song that everyone in the country was made to learn, called “Footsteps.” The idea was that Kim was following in the footsteps of his father and would lead the country into a glorious future.

 3:42
Watch North Korea’s music video for its song ‘Footsteps’

The money man

돈 남자

From: Hyesan, Age: 43

Escaped in 2015

We heard the song “Footsteps” and we were told to memorize it so [we] knew that he was going to be the leader after Kim Jong Il. We were told how great he was, that he could ride a horse when he was 5 years old and shoot a gun when he was 3. Of course we didn’t believe these things, but if you laughed or said anything, you’d be killed.

The university student

대학생

From: Sariwon, Age: 37

Escaped in 2013

I was in my second year at the university when this person was introduced to us as our new leader. I thought it was a joke. Among my closest friends, we were calling him a piece of s—. Everyone thinks this, but you can only say it to your closest friends or to your parents if you know that they agree.

The drug dealer

마약상

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

I created some kind of fantasy in my mind about Kim Jong Un. Because he was so young, I thought he was going to open North Korea’s doors, but after he took power and I lived three years under him, life became harder.

MONEY TALKS

In theory, North Korea is a bastion of socialism, a country where the state provides everything, including housing, healthcare, education and jobs. In reality, the state economy barely operates anymore. People work in factories and fields, but there is little for them to do, and they are paid almost nothing. A vibrant private economy has sprung up out of necessity, one where people find ways to make money on their own, whether through selling homemade tofu or dealing drugs, through smuggling small DVD players with screens called “notels” over the border or extracting bribes.

The university student

대학생

From: Sariwon, Age: 37

Escaped in 2013

North Korea technically has a centrally planned economy, but now people’s lives revolve around the market. No one expects the government to provide things anymore. Everyone has to find their own way to survive.

The hairdresser

미용사

From: Hyesan, Age: 23

Escaped in 2016

I had to drop out of teachers college when I was 19 because my father became ill so I needed to work. I started doing people’s hair at my house. All the women wanted perms. I charged 30 [Chinese] yuan for a regular perm or 50 yuan for a perm with better products. But it was still hard to make money. [Thirty yuan is about $4.50.]

The farmer

농부

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

We lived in the city center, but we rented some land in the foothills of the mountains and grew corn there. During planting and harvest season, we would wake up at 4 a.m. and walk three hours to reach the farmland. We’d take a little break for lunch or a snack, then work until 8 p.m. before walking home again. Doing the weeding was the hardest because we had to get rid of them by hand. And we’d buy beans from the market and make tofu that we’d sell from our house. Our profit was less than 5,000 won [60 cents at the black market rate] a day. But because the bean price fluctuates, sometimes we were left with nothing at all.

North Koreans first learned how to be entrepreneurs during the famine, when they had to make money to survive. While men had to continue to show up for work in dormant factories, women would turn corn into noodles and keep a little for themselves but sell the rest so they could buy more corn for the following day. Homeless children would steal manhole covers to sell as scrap metal. Markets began to appear and took hold. North Koreans used to joke you could buy everything there except cats’ horns.

These days, you can probably buy cats’ horns, too.

 2:03
Look inside a market in North Korea

The bean trader

콩 상인

From: Hyesan, Age: 23

Escaped in 2014

I had an aunt in Pyongyang who sold beans in the market there. I would buy what she needed from various farmers and get it to her. I’d pay people to pack up the beans into sacks, pay porters to take them to the station, get them onto the train. You have to smooth the way with money. My uncle is in the military, so his position provided protection for my aunt’s business. Of course, my aunt was the main earner in the house. It’s the women who can really make money in North Korea.

Tens of thousands of North Koreans now work outside the country, in lumber yards and garment factories and on construction sites, in China, Russia and other countries, earning foreign currency. Generally, two-thirds of their pay goes to the regime, and they’re allowed to keep the rest.

The construction worker

건설 노동자

From: Pyongyang, Age: 40

Escaped in 2015

I wanted to earn money for my family and buy a house, so I paid $100 to bribe my way into an overseas construction job. I was sent to St. Petersburg. We lived at the construction site and would work from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., or sometimes until midnight in the summer, then we’d go back to our dormitory to eat. We worked seven days a week, but we could finish early on Sundays — 7 p.m. — and that was nice. My whole purpose for being there was to make lots of money and go home proud of my achievement. I still remember the first time I got paid. It was 1,000 rubles. When I finished work at 10 p.m., I went to the store and saw that a bottle of beer was 27 rubles. I thought, wow I’m rich.

As the economy and the rules that govern it change, there are more and more gray areas that can be exploited. That means that illegal trade and activity have blossomed, too.

The drug dealer

마약상

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

I did so many things that I wasn’t supposed to do. I worked as a broker transferring money and connecting people in North Korea with people in South Korea through phone calls. I arranged reunions for them in China. I smuggled antiques out of North Korea and sold them in China. I sold ginseng and pheasants to China. And I dealt ice [methamphetamines.]. Officially, I was a factory worker, but I bribed my way out of having to go to work. If you don’t operate this way in North Korea, you have nothing.

The doctor

의사

From: Hyesan, Age: 42

Escaped in 2014

The salary for doctors was about 3,500 won a month. That was less than it cost to buy one kilogram of rice. So of course, being a doctor was not my main job. My main job was smuggling at night. I would send herbal medicine from North Korea into China, and with the money, I would import home appliances back into North Korea. Rice cookers, notels, LCD monitors, that kind of thing.

From the biggest cities to the smallest villages, there is now some kind of market building where people can sell their wares and keep their profits. Some are state-run, some are state-sanctioned, some are ad hoc. The markets have been retroactively legalized by the regime.

Money is now needed for nearly everything — even for the parts of communist life that the Kim regime crows about providing, like housing and schooling. Bribery and corruption have become endemic, undermining the regime by loosening controls and creating incentives that may not always be in line with Kim’s priorities.

The farmer

농부

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

Technically, you don’t have to pay to go to school, but the teachers tell you that you have to submit a certain amount of beans or rabbit skins that can be sold. If you don’t submit, you get told off continuously, and that’s why students stop going to school. The kids are hurt just because the parents can’t afford it.

The young mother

젊은 어머니

From: Hoeryong, Age: 29

Escaped in 2014

I used to pay the teachers at my daughter’s school so they would look after her better than others. I would give them 120,000 won at a time — that’s enough to buy 25 kilograms of rice — twice a year. If you don’t pay the teachers, they won’t make any effort.

The fisherman

어부

From: Ryongchon, Age: 45

Escaped in July 2017

I lived through all three Kims, but our life was not getting any better for any of us. We all have to pay for Kim Jong Un’s projects, like Ryomyong Street [a residential development in Pyongyang]. We had to contribute 15,000 North Korean won per household [more than four months’ salary] to the government for that street.

The drug dealer

마약상

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

My main business was selling ice. I think that 70 or 80 percent of the adults in Hoeryong city were using ice. My customers were just ordinary people. Police officers, security agents, party members, teachers, doctors. Ice made a really good gift for birthday parties or for high school graduation presents. It makes you feel good and helps you release stress, and it really helps relations between men and women. My 76-year-old mother was using it because she had low blood pressure, and it worked well. Lots of police officers and security agents would come to my house to smoke, and of course, I didn’t charge them — they were my protection. They would come by during their lunch break, stop by my house. The head of the secret police in my area was almost living at my house.

“Lots of police officers and security agents would come to my house to smoke, and of course I didn’t charge them — they were my protection.”

The ability to make money, sometimes lots of money, through means both legal and illegal has led to visible inequality in a country that has long touted itself as an egalitarian socialist paradise. This could be a potential source of disruption. Bean traders and drug dealers and everyone in between have the prospect of making a decent living. Those working only in official jobs, whether they be on a state-owned ostrich farm or in a government ministry in Pyongyang, earn only a few dollars a month and get little in the way of rations to supplement their meager salaries.

The rich kid

부자 인 아이

From: Chongjin, Age: 20

Escaped in 2014

Skating rinks opened in 2013, and rollerblading became a really big thing. Rich kids had their own rollerblades. We’d carry them slung over our shoulders as we walked to the rink — it was a status symbol, a sign that you have money. I bought my rollerblades at the market. They were pink, and it cost 200 Chinese yuan. That’s the same price as 30 kilograms of rice. It’s unthinkable for poor kids.

The construction worker

건설 노동자

From: Pyongyang, Age: 40

Escaped in 2015

There were long periods where we didn’t get paid. I once went for six months without getting any salary at all. We lived in a shipping container at the construction site. We were given rice and cabbage and one egg per person per day, and we had an electric coil in our container that we could cook on. We needed some protein because our work was so hard, so we started buying pigskin at the market because it was cheap. Washing was like a special occasion. But if you went to the bathhouse, you would miss out on work. Once I didn’t bathe for two months. We didn’t think anything of it. It was just the way we lived.

“There were long periods where we didn’t get paid. I once went for six months without getting any salary at all.”

The rich kid

부자 인 아이

From: Chongjin, Age: 20

Escaped in 2014

Cellphones are a big thing. To be able to afford a smartphone, you had to come from a rich family. Of course, there were some poor kids at my school, but I didn’t hang out with them. I had an Arirang smartphone that cost $400. When boys came up to talk to me, I’d check out their phone. If they had one of those old-style phones with buttons, I wasn’t interested.

The markets are the distribution point not just for goods, but also for information. Chatter, rumors, illicit foreign media.

The farmer

농부

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

Women make their living in the market, and while they’re sitting there at the stalls, they talk. So the market is a great place to learn about the outside world.

The phone connector

전화 커넥터

From: Hoeryong, Age: 49

Escaped in 2013

I watched lots of [smuggled] movies and soap operas on USB sticks from the market. I would plug them into my TV. Vendors who are selling ordinary things like batteries or rice or whatever, they hide the USBs inside under the counter. When you go into the market you say to the vendors: Do you have anything delicious today? That’s the code. USBs are also good because they are so easy to hide, and you can just break them if you get caught.

“When you go into the market you say to the vendors: Do you have anything delicious today?”

The fisherman

어부

From: Ryongchon, Age: 45

Escaped in July 2017

In the past, if you watched Chinese movies on USBs you were okay. You got put in a labor camp only if you were caught with South Korean or American movies. But now, under Kim Jong Un, you get sent to a labor camp if you’re caught watching Chinese movies, too. The police and the security services and government officials live better these days. The more people they catch, the more money they earn.

The teenage prisoner

십대 죄수

From: Hyesan, Age: 22

Escaped in 2013

I was 8 years old when I started watching foreign movies. I always liked watching romantic South Korean dramas like “My Fair Lady.” I loved the way that women were being cherished. North Korea is a very male-oriented society, men never bother about taking care of women. And I liked to look at their fancy cars and houses.

The accordion player

아코디언 연주자

From: Hamhung, Age: 25

Escaped in 2015

My mom worked in the market selling home appliances, so she had a way to get DVDs. I watched Chinese, Indian and Russian movies, and lots of South Korean soap operas. I thought that if I got to South Korea, I could do anything I wanted.

REPRESSION AND DISILLUSIONMENT

It is impossible to overstate the pervasiveness of the personality cult surrounding the Kims in North Korea. Founding President Kim Il Sung, his son Kim Jong Il and his grandson, the current leader, Kim Jong Un form a kind of holy trinity in North Korea. There is no criticizing them or questioning the system — at least not without risking your freedom and the freedom of your entire family. Your life itself could be at stake.

The preschooler

유치원생

From: Hoeryong, Age: 7

Escaped in 2014

I learned songs about the general and about the Kim family and how great Kim Il Sung was.

The elementary schoolgirl

초등학생

From: Ryongchon, Age: 7

Escaped in July 2017

We got gifts on Kim Jong Un’s birthday: candy and cookies and gum and puffed rice. I was so grateful to him for giving me all these sweets. We would stand up in class and say, “Thank you, General Kim Jong Un.”

“We would stand up in class and say, ‘Thank you, General Kim Jong Un.’”

The university student

대학생

From: Sariwon, Age: 37

Escaped in 2013

We had ideological education for 90 minutes every day. There was revolutionary history, lessons about Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un. Of course, they taught us about why we needed nuclear weapons, and they would tell us that we needed to make sacrifices in our daily lives so they could build these weapons and protect our country, keep the nation safe. I was so sick and tired of hearing about all this revolutionary history, I was so sick of calling everyone “comrade.” I didn’t care about any of that stuff.

The young mother

젊은 어머니

From: Hoeryong, Age: 29

Escaped in 2014

Everybody knew that Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un were both liars, that everything is their fault, but it’s impossible to voice any opposition because we are under such tight surveillance. If someone is drunk and says Kim Jong Un is a son of a bitch, you’ll never see them again.

The doctor

의사

From: Hyesan, Age: 42

Escaped in 2014

It’s like a religion. From birth, you learn about the Kim family, learn that they are gods, that you must be absolutely obedient to the Kim family. The elites are treated nicely, and because of that they make sure that the system stays stable. But for everyone else, it’s a reign of terror. The Kim family uses terror to keep people scared, and that makes it impossible to stage any kind of social gathering, let alone an uprising.

The construction worker

건설 노동자

From: Pyongyang, Age: 40

Escaped in 2015

We had education sessions when we would go back to the main building and into a big room where there were portraits of the leaders. Everyone had to bow and buy bunches of flowers to lay in front of the portraits. There would be a speech by the boss, who was a party member. We would hear about how Kim Jong Un had done this and this and that [he] was working so hard for the party and for the nation and for the people. I believed it up until the Kim Jong Un era, but this exaggeration was just too much. It just didn’t make sense.

The money man

돈 남자

From: Hyesan, Age: 43

Escaped in 2015

Every month there was special instruction about Kim Jong Un. It came down from Pyongyang to the neighborhood associations. We were told that Kim Jong Un wanted to know everything so that he could take proper care of everyone, help everyone. Nobody believed this because if Kim Jong Un knew we had no electricity and were eating corn rice [imitation rice made from ground corn], why wasn’t he doing anything about it?

The bean trader

콩 상인

From: Hyesan, Age: 23

Escaped in 2014

There was this story going around that Kim Il Sung had asked Kim Jong Un to get him an apple. Kim Jong Un asked for a shovel because he wanted to bring the whole tree. It was the kind of joke that the secret police would create. Instead of just doing top-down teaching, they would also create stories like this [about devotion to the regime] because they thought that their propaganda would circulate better as rumors and would seem more convincing.

North Korea operates as a vast surveillance state, with a menacing state security department called the Bowibu as its backbone. Its agents are everywhere and operate with impunity.

The regime also operates a kind of neighborhood watch system. Every district in every town or city is broken up into neighborhood groups of 30 or 40 households, each with a leader who is responsible for coordinating grass-roots surveillance and encouraging people to snitch.

The young mother

젊은 어머니

From: Hoeryong, Age: 29

Escaped in 2014

People in each neighborhood association are always checking up on each other. If one family seems to be living better than everyone else, then all the neighbors try to find out how they are making their money. Everybody is sensitive because if someone seems to be living well, then people get jealous of that house. Nobody has to be asked to bring that wealthy family down and make sure that this wealthy family loses their money. When you see a family lose their house, that feels good. That’s why it’s important not to show off how wealthy you are.

The farmer

농부

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

Of course, I thought about the outside world, but if you say, “I want to go to China or South Korea,” then it can be reported by an informant to the security services. You can think it, but you can’t say it. You never know who is going to snitch on you. We often heard and saw how Chinese people had money because Chinese people used to come to North Korea to sell things, so we thought it would be nice to live there.

The rich kid

부자 인 아이

From: Chongjin, Age: 20

Escaped in 2014

There were youth leaders who would patrol around, looking for things that we weren’t supposed to be doing. If you were wearing jeans or skinny pants, or if you had a manicure or your hair was too long, you would get in trouble. They would sometimes check your phone to see if you had any South Korean songs. I got busted for this, but I got out of it by buying them a box of 20 bottles of beer.

“They would sometimes check your phone to see if you had any South Korean songs.”

For those who ran afoul of the regime in ways that money could not solve, the punishment could be harsh.

The teenage prisoner

십대 죄수

From: Hyesan, Age: 22

Escaped in 2013

When I was 16, I was staying at my grandma’s house and there was a banging on the door late at night. Two secret police officers took me to the police station and asked me: “Where are your parents?” I told them I didn’t know. It turned out that they had gone missing and I suspected that my mom’s business associates, when they realized this, planted a whole lot of stuff on her, said that she was the mastermind behind this big smuggling operation. The police yelled at me: “You’re just like your mother. You probably have fantasies about China, too.” They slapped my face about five times.

The phone connector

전화 커넥터

From: Hoeryong, Age: 49

Escaped in 2013

The first time I went to prison, I had been caught helping people make phone calls to their relatives in South Korea. I was sentenced to four months’ hard labor, building a road on the side of a mountain that they said we needed in case there was a war. The men did the digging and the women had to carry rocks and soil.

Escapees from North Korea’s gruesome political prisons have recounted brutal treatment over the years, including medieval torture with shackles and fire and being forced to undergo abortions by the crudest methods. Human rights activists say that this appears to have lessened slightly under Kim. But severe beatings and certain kinds of torture — including being forced to remain in stress positions for crippling lengths of time — are commonplace throughout North Korea’s detention systems, as are public executions.

 1:39
Clip: Kang Na-ra in the ‘Jangmadang Generation’

The teenage prisoner

십대 죄수

From: Hyesan, Age: 22

Escaped in 2013

I was interrogated again by the secret police, and they wanted to know about my mother’s business. They were slapping me around the face again. They always go for the face. I was beaten severely that time. They pushed me so hard against the wall that I had blood coming from my head. I still get a headache sometimes. While I was there they made me sit with my legs crossed and my arms resting on my knees and my head always down. If you move at all or if you try to stretch your legs out, they will yell at you and hit you. I had to stay like that for hours on end.

The money man

돈 남자

From: Hyesan, Age: 43

Escaped in 2015

In 2015, a money transfer went bad — the woman I’d given the money to got caught and she ratted on me — and I was put in detention. I spent two months there. I wasn’t treated like a human being — they beat me, they made me sit in stress positions where I couldn’t lift my head. Two times they slapped my face and kicked me during interrogation, but I was not beaten up badly. Maybe because I was not a nobody, maybe they feared that I knew someone who could get back at them.

Starvation is often part of the punishment, even for children. The 16-year-old lost 13 pounds in prison, weighing only 88 pounds when she emerged.

The teenage prisoner

십대 죄수

From: Hyesan, Age: 22

Escaped in 2013

We got up at 6 a.m. every day and went to bed at 11 p.m., and in between we would be working the whole time, shoveling cement or lugging sacks, except for lunch. Lunch was usually steamed corn. I was too scared to eat. I cried a lot. I didn’t want to live.

The phone connector

전화 커넥터

From: Hoeryong, Age: 49

Escaped in 2013

Even though we were working so hard in prison camp, all we got to eat was a tiny bit of corn rice and a small potato. By the time I got out, I was so malnourished I could hardly walk.

It is this web of prisons and concentration camps, coupled with the threat of execution, that stops people from speaking up. There is no organized dissent in North Korea, no political opposition.

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The drug dealer

마약상

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

If you make problems, then your whole family gets punished. That’s why people don’t want to make any trouble. If I get punished for my wrongdoing, that’s one thing. But it’s my whole family that would be put at risk if I did something. North Koreans have seen that Kim Jong Un killed his own uncle, so we understand how merciless he can be. That’s why you can’t have an uprising in North Korea.

The university student

대학생

From: Sariwon, Age: 37

Escaped in 2013

The secret to North Korea’s survival is the reign of terror. Why do you think North Korea has public executions? Why do you think they block all communications? Why do you think North Koreans leave, knowing that they will never see their families again? It shows how bad things are. All our rights as people have been stripped away.

The phone connector

전화 커넥터

From: Hoeryong, Age: 49

Escaped in 2013

If you speak out against the system, you will immediately be arrested. And if you do something wrong, then three generations of your family will be punished. In 2009, I heard there was a going to be some kind of coup launched in Chongjin and that all of the people involved were executed. When you hear about cases like this, of course you’re scared. So instead of trying to do something to change the system, it’s better just to leave.

Some people do leave, but not that many. It’s incredibly risky and logistically difficult to get around the border guards and the barbed wire. Unknown thousands cross into China each year. Some remain in China, almost always young women who get sold to poor Chinese men in the countryside who can’t get a wife any other way. Some get caught and sent back — to certain imprisonment.

The repatriated wife

송환 된 아내

From: Nampo, Age: 50

Escaped North Korea for the last time in 2016

I had lived in China for 20 years, but someone must have reported me. I was sent back to North Korea, and I spent two and a half years in a prison camp. [After she had left once more for China], I knew I couldn’t be repatriated again. I thought that it would be the end of my life.

But each year, a thousand or so North Koreans make it to South Korea. In the 20-odd years since the famine, only 30,000 North Koreans have made it to the southern side of the peninsula.

During the late 1990s and the early 2000s, almost all the North Koreans who fled were escaping out of hunger or economic need. But the explosion of markets has improved life for many. Today, more people are leaving North Korea because they are disillusioned with the system, not because they can’t feed their families.

The accordion player

아코디언 연주자

From: Hamhung, Age: 25

Escaped in 2015

I was ambitious. I wanted to be a party member and enjoy all the opportunities that come with that. My dream was to make lots of money and be a high-ranking government official. Family background means so much in North Korea, but I had family in China and I realized that this would stop me from being able to follow my dreams. I left because I didn’t have the freedom to do what I wanted to do.

The bean trader

콩 상인

From: Hyesan, Age: 23

Escaped in 2014

I wanted to progress in life, I wanted to go to university, but because my mother had defected to China, it looked like I wouldn’t be able to go any further. It looked like I would be stuck in North Korea where I was. I could have moved, lived, no problem, but I felt like I didn’t have any future in North Korea. That’s why I decided to leave.

The meat delivery guy

고기 배달원

From: Undok, Age: 23

Escaped in 2014

We were told in school that we could be anybody. But after graduation, I realized that this wasn’t true and that I was being punished for somebody else’s wrongdoing. I realized I wouldn’t be able to survive here. So for two years, I looked for a way out. When I thought about escaping, it gave me a psychological boost.

The doctor

의사

From: Hyesan, Age: 42

Escaped in 2014

I hoped to work abroad as a doctor in the Middle East or Africa. But to work overseas you have to pass security screening to make sure you’re ideologically sound and aren’t going to defect. That’s a problem that money can’t solve and that’s where I got blocked. I was very angry, very annoyed. I cursed our society. I am a very capable person, and I was a party member, but even I couldn’t make it.

The construction worker

건설 노동자

From: Pyongyang, Age: 40

Escaped in 2015

I worked for three and a half years, but I made only $2,000 during that time. We were allowed to work overseas for five years maximum, and I was hoping to save $10,000 and return home proud. I realized it wasn’t going to happen, so I started looking for a chance to escape.

The university student

대학생

From: Sariwon, Age: 37

Escaped in 2013

I was so disgusted with the system. I didn’t have the freedom to speak my mind, or to travel anywhere I wanted, or even to wear what I wanted. It was like living in a prison. We were monitored all the time by our neighborhood leader, by the normal police, by the secret police. If you ask me what was the worst thing about North Korea, I’d say: Being born there.

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China not yet ready to invade Taiwan ???

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TAIPEI TIMES)

 

China not yet ready to invade Taiwan

By Ray Song 宋磊

Peter Enav, a former Taiwan correspondent for The Associated Press, on Tuesday last week published an article on the Web site Taiwan Sentinel, entitled: “Taiwan Under the Gun: An Urgent Call to Action,” in which he warned that the three conditions required for China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to consider an attack on Taiwan are close to being fulfilled.

Enav believes that as soon as the middle of next year, China’s military will have completed its readiness to the extent where it could decide to launch an invasion of the nation.

The three major conditions, as Enav sees it, are: One, China must feel certain that the “political option for unification” is now impossible; two, China’s military must be ready and able to launch an unimpeded amphibious attack across the Taiwan Strait — and feel confident that it can crush any post-invasion resistance; and three, Beijing must believe the international fallout and economic sanctions following an invasion of Taiwan would not outweigh the gain of unifying the nation with China.

These three conditions tally with the basic criteria for an invasion that have been put forward by Beijing in the past.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has said that China would experience a political and cultural renaissance that could endure for up to 200 years. Implied within this overall goal is a timetable for the unification of Taiwan.

Looking at this timetable, China would not be ready by launch an attack on Taiwan until 2021 at the earliest. In reality, while the PLA’s Rocket Force possesses long-range missile strike capability, China’s military still lacks sufficient transport and lift capability and also still needs to first shore up its core strategic interests in the East and South China seas and further increase the strength of its forces before it can consider invading the nation.

At present, it would be difficult for the PLA to muster sufficient forces to mount a successful invasion. For these reasons, Enav’s warning that the PLA would be ready to attack Taiwan by next year seems somewhat alarmist.

Furthermore, as the recent high-level economic dialogue between the US and China shows, the two countries are still at loggerheads on trade, as they have been for some time.

Economic issues never exist in isolation but are invariably part of a wider political, military and diplomatic picture. If the trade dispute between the US and China is not resolved and the relationship sours, Washington would use the prospect of warships from the US military’s Pacific Fleet forces stopping over in Taiwan to deter Beijing.

US President Donald Trump recently approved a plan by the Pentagon that allows the US Navy to conduct full-year passages through international waters in the South China Sea illegally claimed by China as its own.

The White House clearly intends to use freedom of navigation as a means to respond to Beijing’s sovereignty claims in the South China Sea. It is also clear that containment of China has already become established US policy. The US would not easily allow the PLA to attack Taiwan.

The US is still the only superpower and, while willing to cooperate with Beijing in many areas, Washington is increasingly wary of China and employs military and diplomatic means to contain it. Competition between the two nations is intensifying, which could benefit Taiwan.

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