China’s trade war song goes viral, anti-US sentiment becomes visible

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

China’s trade war song goes viral, anti-US sentiment becomes visible

The privately-produced song has more than 100,000 views on WeChat and is just one of many signs of brewing anti-American sentiment on Chinese social media as trade talks falter.

WORLD Updated: May 21, 2019 16:03 IST

Dandan Li
Dandan Li
Beijing, China
China-US trade war,anti-US sentiment,privately-produced song
Other plans include displaying the Chinese flag around National Day on October 1 and organizing teenagers to participate in themed summer camps.(AFP File Photo)

Perhaps nothing captures the growing anti-US sentiment in China better than a song about the trade war that is going viral in Beijing: “If the perpetrator wants to fight, we will beat him out of his wits.”

This privately-produced song has more than 100,000 views on WeChat and is just one of many signs of brewing anti-American sentiment on Chinese social media as trade talks falter.

State media has carried commentaries urging unified resistance to foreign pressure, including an editorial from the nationalist Global Times calling the trade dispute a “people’s war” and a threat to all of China.

Even seafood hasn’t escaped sharper rhetoric. Guangdong province’s Communist Party Youth League issued a WeChat post calling for China to eat more tilapia — a farmed fish now subject to higher US tariffs.

Trade War

The song, simply called “Trade War,” is set to the tune of an anti-Japanese song from the 1960s film “Tunnel War” — in which a Chinese town defends itself from invasion.

It begins with a male chorus singing “Trade war! Trade War! Not afraid of the outrageous challenge! Not afraid of the outrageous challenge! A trade war is happening over the Pacific Ocean!”

“I chose ‘Tunnel War’ because that is reminiscent of the similar situation that China is facing today,” the song’s producer and lyricist Zhao Liangtian told Bloomberg News on Monday. “Since the trade war broke out, I felt the urge to do something.”

On Tuesday, Chinese state media continued the belligerent rhetoric against the US.

‘Facing the US which is going against the trend of the times, China resolutely showed the sword,’ said an analysis from state-owned Xinhua News Agency that was republished widely in domestic media. ‘We are forced to take necessary measures and are prepared for a protracted war.’

A commentary in the People’s Daily warned that attempts to deprive the nearly 1.4 billion Chinese people of their right to development and impede the historical process of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation would be like ‘a mantis trying to stop a car with its arms.’

Silver Screen

China’s official entertainment industry is also caught in the crossfire.

The state-run China Central Television’s movie channel changed its May 16 prime-time schedule from live-streaming the red carpet of Asian Movie Week to a old propaganda film called ‘‘Heroic Sons and Daughters,’’ about the China-US conflict during the Korean War. It’s played a Korean War movie each night during prime time every night since.

A television series called “Over The Sea I Come to You,” about a father who accompanies his son to study in the US, was pulled off-air and replaced at the last minute. The show was set to premiere on Zhejiang Television and elsewhere May 19, according to a station announcement from earlier this once.

However — at least so far — US cultural products are still available. The worldwide blockbuster “Avengers: Endgame” is still in theaters and is the third-highest grossing film in Chinese box office history.

Rallying Patriotism

Starting Monday, Chinese radio and television stations will be required to play the country’s national anthem, “March of the Volunteers,” at 7 a.m. each morning through the end of the year, according to an official notice.

That order is only one small part of a national patriotic education plan, co-published by the party’s Central Committee and State Council, celebrating the coming 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic Of China.

The plan also aims to “encourage and mobilize the whole party, army and people of all ethnic groups to rally more closely around the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core,” a reference to China’s leader.

Other plans include displaying the Chinese flag around National Day on October 1 and organizing teenagers to participate in themed summer camps that will lead them to “experience revolutionary feelings and inherit red genes.”

Waxing Poetic

Zhao, the ‘‘Trade War’’ lyricist, is a retired official in Yanting county, in China’s southwest Sichuan province. He’s also an accredited member of the Poetry Institute of China, which is affiliated with the Communist Party’s propaganda department.

Zhao wrote the song’s lyrics last year and circulated them online, but said they had gone largely unnoticed until the negotiations went awry. He said some of his anti-US poems had been censored by authorities in the past.

After President Donald Trump threatened fresh tariffs earlier this month, Zhao sensed China’s government had changed its attitude. He paid 1600 Yuan ($232) — a third of his monthly paycheck — to finally produce his song. Other retirees sang the chorus.

In the current climate, the payoff has been immediate. “I have received many phone calls in the past days from people to show support for my work,” Zhao said.

(The story has been published from a wire feed without any modifications to the text, only the headline has been changed.)

First Published: May 21, 2019 12:21 IST

Hong Kong lawmakers fight over extradition law

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Hong Kong lawmakers fight over extradition law

Media caption Tensions flared up with some lawmakers jumping over tables

Fighting erupted in Hong Kong’s legislature on Saturday over planned changes to the law allowing suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial.

Several lawmakers were injured and one was taken to hospital as politicians clashed in the chamber.

Critics believe the proposed switch to the extradition law would erode Hong Kong’s freedoms.

But authorities say they need to make the change so they can extradite a murder suspect to Taiwan.

One pro-Beijing lawmaker called it “a sad day for Hong Kong”.

Pro-democracy lawmaker James To originally led the session on the controversial extradition bill but earlier this week those supportive of the new law replaced him as chairman.

Tensions boiled over on Saturday, with politicians swearing and jumping over tables amid a crowd of reporters as they fought to control the microphone.

Scuffles broke out in Hong Kong's legislature over proposed changes to extradition lawsImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Opponents and supporters of the bill clashed in the legislature
Gary Fan stretchered out after clashes between opponents and supporters of Hong Kong's proposed extradition law changesImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Pro-democracy lawmaker Gary Fan was taken out on a stretcher

Pro-democracy legislator Gary Fan collapsed and was carried out on a stretcher, while one pro-Beijing legislator was later seen with his arm in a sling.

Why change the extradition laws?

Under a policy known as “One Country, Two Systems”, Hong Kong has a separate legal system to mainland China.

Beijing regained control over the former British colony in 1997 on the condition it would allow the territory “a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs” for 50 years.

But Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam earlier this year announced plans to change the law so suspects could be extradited to Taiwan, Macau or mainland China on a case-by-case basis.

Hong Kong's leader Carrie LamImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Some critics say Carrie Lam has “betrayed” Hong Kong over the law change

Ms Lam has cited the case of a 19-year-old Hong Kong man who allegedly murdered his pregnant girlfriend while on holiday in Taiwan before fleeing home.

While Taiwan has sought his extradition, Hong Kong officials say they cannot help as they do not have an extradition agreement with Taiwan.

Why object to the switch?

The proposed change has generated huge criticism.

Protesters against the law marched on the streets last month in the biggest rally since 2014’s pro-democracy Umbrella Movement demonstrations.

Even the normally conservative business community has objected. The International Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong said the bill has “gross inadequacies” which could mean people risk “losing freedom, property and even their life”.

And Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, told the government-funded broadcaster RTHK last month the proposal was “an assault on Hong Kong’s values, stability and security”.

Chinese, Russian Presidents Hold Talks

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

 

Chinese, Russian presidents hold talks

Xinhua

The Belt and Road Initiative

AFP

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a ceremony at Tsinghua University in Beijing on April 26, 2019.

Chinese President Xi Jinping Friday held talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.

Xi said the relationship between China and Russia has become a major-country relationship featuring the highest degree of mutual trust, the highest level of coordination and the highest strategic value since the two countries established diplomatic ties 70 years ago.

“We should always regard each other as important development opportunities, support each other and draw on each other’s strength to achieve revitalization together,” he said.

Stressing that Russia is an important partner in the joint development of the Belt and Road Initiative, Xi said the alignment of the BRI with the Eurasian Economic Union is a model of regional economic cooperation.

The two sides should continue to promote cooperation in economy and trade, energy, science and technology, aerospace, connectivity, as well as cooperation at sub-national level and people-to-people and cultural exchanges, Xi said, adding that China will send a pair of giant pandas to Russia for joint research.

Xi also noted that China and Russia should enhance coordination in international affairs, jointly defend the authority of the United Nations and the UN Security Council, uphold the international law and universally recognized norms governing international relations, firmly promote multi-polarity and democracy of international relations, and uphold multilateralism.

The BRI, proposed by President Xi, has provided an important platform and set a successful example for expanding international cooperation, and won increasing support from the international community, Putin said, adding that the presence of so many state leaders and representatives at this forum is a proof.

On the occasion of celebrating the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations, Russia is willing to enhance high-level contacts with China, and deepen bilateral exchanges and cooperation in various fields, such as doing well in exemplary major projects in energy and connectivity sectors, he said.

The two leaders also exchanged views on issues including the situation on the Korean Peninsula and Venezuela, and agreed to communicate and coordinate closely in international and regional affairs and multilateral institutions.

Also on Friday, President Xi attended a ceremony at which Tsinghua University awarded Putin an honorary doctorate.

Tsinghua University is a world-renowned university and the alma mater of President Xi, Putin said. “In the presence of my good friend President Xi Jinping, Tsinghua University conferred an honorary doctorate on me and held a grand ceremony. I feel honored and deeply touched.”

“President Putin is a good friend and old friend of the Chinese people, and has made historic contributions to deepening political mutual trust between China and Russia and promoting bilateral cooperation in various fields,” Xi said, extending congratulations to Putin.

Xi said he hopes young Chinese and Russian students will contribute to China-Russia friendship for generations to come.

The Belt and Road Initiative

Foxconn’s Gou may seek Taiwan presidency

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE JOURNAL TIMES)

 

Foxconn’s Gou may seek Taiwan presidency

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The head of Foxconn Technology Group, having announced plans to step away from day-to-day operations at the world’s largest electronics provider, said Tuesday that he is mulling a run for president of Taiwan.

Terry Gou said he would make a decision “in a day or two” on a possible presidential bid, according to Taiwan’s official Central News Agency. He said that if he decided to run, he would take part in the opposition Nationalist Party primary rather than mount an independent bid.

The Nationalists favor closer ties with Beijing, a policy that accords with Gou’s massive business interests in China. Any candidate is expected to face a crowded field in the 2020 polls, in which President Tsai Ing-wen of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party says she will seek a second four-year term.

Gou told reporters Monday at an event in Taipei that he would step back from daily operations at Foxconn. He said he wants to work on a book about his management philosophy honed over 45 years and prepare a younger generation to eventually take over operations at the company.

Foxconn counts Apple, Google and Amazon as customers and has said it will build a manufacturing facility in the U.S. state of Wisconsin.

“The major direction of the company will still be guided by me. But I will gradually step back from the front-line operations,” the 69-year-old Gou said.

“I feel that I should tone down my personal influence … let young people learn sooner in order to take my position as soon as possible so that I can have more free time to work on long-term planning for the company’s future.”

Foxconn announced in 2017, to much fanfare, that it planned to invest $10 billion in Wisconsin and hire 13,000 people to build an LCD factory that could make screens for televisions and a variety of other devices.

The company said last year that it was reducing the scale of what was to be made in Wisconsin, from what is known as a Gen 10 factory to Gen 6. Those plans now appear to be in flux, although the company says its Wisconsin campus will house both an advanced manufacturing facility and a center of “technology innovation for the region.”

Foxconn earlier this year cited a changing global market as requiring a move away from making LCD panels in Wisconsin. Apple is Foxconn’s main manufacturing customer and it has forecast a drop in revenue from the Chinese market due to decreasing demand for iPhones.

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China persecutes independent leftists in the name of Marxism

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

(If Marx was still alive, he would be arrested by the CCP and sentenced to life because he advocates for freedom of press, speech and thought.) (IN TRUTH IT IS THE COMMUNIST PARTY LEADERSHIP ESPECIALLY XI JINPING WHO SHOULD BE ARRESTED BECAUSE THEY ARE TOTAL FRAUDS TO THE IDEAL OF MARXISM)(oldpoet56)

China persecutes independent leftists in the name of Marxism

China Central Television’s program “Marx was right.” Screenshot from Youtube.

On December 28, Beijing police arrested a group of Peking University students for protesting against the takeover of the campus’ Marxist society in yet another testament of the chasm between Marxism and Marxism “with Chinese characteristics.”

The action followed the detention of the society’s president Qiu Zhanxuan for celebrating former China’s Communist Party (CPP) leader Mao Zedong’s birthday on December 26.

The arrests are only the most recent episode of CPP’s repression of independent Chinese leftists. In August, 50 people, among students and workers, who had attempted to establish a trade union at a Jasic Technology factory in Southern China were arrested.

Among the detainees is Yue Xin, a Peking University graduate who has publicly adhered to President Xi Jinping’s thought. Instead of pursuing study abroad, she became a blue-collar worker in the Jasic factory. She has been missing since the police raid in August. The Peking University Marxist group had been campaigning for the release of the detained activists.

This new generation of young leftists who put their values into practice has been accused by pro-government commentators of reading Marx at the covert direction of foreign powers.

On Weibo, CCP ideologue and Global Times’ chief editor Hu Xijin justified the repression on Peking University’s Marxist group, whose core team members have since been replaced with the university’s picks.

I want to tell student Qiu that only China can save socialism. China is the only hope for the future of Marxism. China is now facing a lot of challenges inside and outside the country. All Chinese people who embrace socialist ideals should support the state to go steady in the path of socialism with Chinese character and support the development of Marxism under the circumstances of reform and open doors. Socialism is a very complicated praxis, it is not an dogmatic and idealistic pursue. It is definite that the fate of socialism depends on the fate of China. I hope all young people can realize this. Unfriendly forces have been taking all sort of opportunities to attack us. We have to prevent providing such opportunities for these forces.

Hu’s statement reflects China’s recent appropriation of Marxism as an ideological tool that helps legitimize President Xi Jinping’s governance strategy that is based on authoritarianism and economic progress.

Throughout 2018, the CPP spectacularly celebrated the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx, the father of communist thought. It organized an international academic conference in Bejing, a grand gathering of the Party, funded a giant statue at Marx’s birthplace in Germany, produced a youth-targeted TV series titled “Marx was Right,” and, most recently, released an animated series called “The Leader” based on Marx’s life.

The 5-episode series “Marx was right“, broadcast this year in China’s main state-run TV channel, argues that China’s market economy is a “tool to realize the values and goals of socialism” and an antidote to crises such as those faced by Western democracies in the past decade, from the 2008 global financial crises to the Brexit referendum in the UK.

As Xi put it at the grand Marx’s 200th birthday celebration in Beijing in May:

It is perfectly right for history and the people to choose Marxism, as well as for the CPC to write Marxism on its own flag, to adhere to the principle of combining the fundamental principles of Marxism with China’s reality, and continuously adapt Marxism to the Chinese context and the times.

More than 30 prominent scholars have decided to boycott Beijing’s 2019 World Congress on Marxism, including leftist professor Noam Chomsky, who said he didn’t want to be “complicit in the Chinese government’s game.”

China is the world’s largest manufacturing economy and international investor, and its economy is highly exploitative of the working class.

The CCP’s practice to suppress independent labor movements and workers’ organizations go back decades. While many Marxists believe in workers’ struggle as the driving force for social and political transformation, Chinese ideologues consider young leftist students’ who stand by workers’ rights simply troublemakers.

Following the takeover of Peking University’s Marxist society, Twitter user @luli398 snarkily tweeted:

luli398@luli398

如果马克思活着的话,他也会被中国共产党抓起来,判终生监禁。因为他也主张思想、言论自由和新闻自由。

See luli398’s other Tweets

If Marx was still alive, he would be arrested by the CCP and sentenced to life because he advocates for freedom of press, speech and thought.

What exactly is Marxism with Chinese characteristics? You may have a glimpse into it by watching this propaganda cartoon called “The Leader.”

China: President Xi Says That Taiwan Will Be Reunited With China, Even If By Force

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

(MAINLAND CHINA IS PART OF TAIWAN, IT IS NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND! THE COMMUNIST GOVERNMENT IN BEIJING IS THE ILLEGITIMATE GOVERNMENT OF CHINA. THE ONLY LEGITIMATE CHINESE GOVERNMENT IS THE ONE IN TAIPEI, XI JINPING AND THE COMMUNIST GOVERNMENT IN BEIJING ARE A FRAUD THAT MUST BE REMOVED FROM THE EARTH EVEN IF (TO USE MR. XI WORDS) THAT MEANS BY FORCE!) (oldpoet56)  

Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged the people of Taiwan to accept it “must and will be” reunited with China.

In a speech marking 40 years since the start of improving ties, he reiterated Beijing’s call for peaceful unification on a one-country-two-systems basis.

However, he also warned that China reserved the right to use force.

While Taiwan is self-governed and de facto independent, it has never formally declared independence from the mainland.

Beijing considers the island to be a breakaway province and Mr Xi’s comments are in line with China’s long-standing policy towards reunification.

But on Wednesday, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said the island would never accept reunification with China under the terms offered by Beijing.

“I want to reiterate that Taiwan will never accept ‘one country, two systems’. The vast majority of Taiwanese public opinion also resolutely opposes ‘one country, two systems’, and this is also the ‘Taiwan consensus’.”

Under the “one country, two systems” formula, Taiwan would have the right to run its own affairs; a similar arrangement is used in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has its own legal system, and rights including freedom of assembly and free speech are protected – however, there are widespread concerns in the territory that those freedoms are gradually being eroded.

In his speech on Wednesday, Mr Xi said both sides were part of the same Chinese family and that Taiwanese independence was “an adverse current from history and a dead end”.

Taiwanese people “must understand that independence will only bring hardship,” Mr Xi said, adding Beijing would never tolerate any form of activity promoting Taiwanese independence.

Instead, unification was “an inevitable requirement for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese people”, he argued.

He also stressed that relations with Taiwan were “part of China’s domestic politics” and that “foreign interference is intolerable”.

Beijing “reserves the option of taking all necessary measures” against outside forces that interfere with peaceful reunification and Taiwanese separatist activities.

Taiwan Honour guards perform during the rehearsal for the presidential inauguration in Taipei, Taiwan (20 May 2016)Image copyrightEPA
Image captionMany in Taiwan want a separate nation

What is the view in Taiwan?

In a new year’s speech on Tuesday, Ms Tsai said China must use peaceful means to resolve its differences with Taiwan and respect its democratic values.

“I would like to call on China to face squarely the reality of the existence of the Republic of China on Taiwan,” Ms Tsai said, referring to the island’s formal name.

China should “respect the insistence of 23 million people on freedom and democracy, and must use peaceful, on parity means to handle our differences”, she added.

In November, Ms Tsai’s political party saw a heavy setback in regional elections perceived by Beijing as a blow to her separatist stance.

Presentational grey line

How serious is China’s threat?

Analysis by John Sudworth, BBC News, Beijing

The Chinese Communist Party has long spoken about unification as a matter of destiny.

But President Xi is arguably the most powerful leader since Mao – now unconstrained by presidential term limits – and one who has personalised, like no other, the project for “national rejuvenation”.

So should we pay more heed when the threat to retake Taiwan by force if necessary comes from his lips?

China may be a rising military superpower, but sending an invading army across the choppy, well-defended waters of the Taiwan strait would still be a huge military gamble, with success far from guaranteed.

Beyond the slightly more strident tone, Mr Xi’s speech does not appear to signal any dramatic change in those calculations, especially when you take into account the more conciliatory passages offering a further strengthening of trade links.

If there is to be any warfare, it is likely to be of the cyber kind; China is reported to be stepping up its efforts to influence Taiwan’s elections to hurt the prospects of independence-leaning parties and politicians.

The hope has long been that it will be China’s growing economic might, not military force, that will eventually pull Taiwan into its embrace.

Presentational grey line

Why is this so contentious?

Taiwan is a self-governed democracy and for all practical purposes has acted as an independent nation since 1949, when China’s nationalist government was defeated by communist forces and fled there from the mainland.

China however considers the island to be a breakaway province – not a country in its own right – which will one day be fully reunited with the mainland.

Woman holding Taiwanese flagImage copyright AFP
Image caption Beijing insists Taiwan is just a breakaway province

In recent years, Beijing has become increasingly assertive over its claims and what it says is a key question of national sovereignty.

China, for instance, insists that other countries can only have diplomatic ties with China or Taiwan, not both.

Beijing has won over more and more of Taipei’s few international allies to cut diplomatic ties with the island and establish relations with China instead.

Last year, it also forced foreign airlines and hotels to list Taiwan as part of China on their websites.

China: Winter is coming … So is air pollution

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

Winter is coming … So is air pollution

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

Fog shrouds the city on Sunday morning.

Winter is coming and residents are warned to brace for seasonal air pollution.

Morning temperatures on Friday dropped to 9.1 degrees Celsius in downtown Xujiahui area and 3.8 degrees in suburban Jinshan District, making it the coldest morning of the autumn.

So far, there is no signs of entering winter (five consecutive days of below 10 degrees). This November, only three days were below 10 degrees, according to Shanghai Meteorological Bureau.

Meanwhile, fog shrouded the city on Saturday night due to weak atmospheric diffusion and it continued yesterday.

At 4:55am on Sunday, the weather authority released the first yellow alert for fog this autumn, the lowest of the three-tier system. In the early morning visibility in most areas dropped to less than 200 meters. The alert was lifted at 9:30am.

Today will be overcast, with some drizzle, and it will turn cloudy in the evening. Temperatures will range between 14 and 18 degrees, forecasters said.

Tomorrow and Wednesday are set to be cloudy and overcast, with temperatures steady. Sunny days will be back on Thursday, but the low is forecast to drop to 10 degrees.

There will be some light PM 2.5 pollution on Tuesday and Wednesday. Residents are warned to brace for pollution from November to January.

Xi Jinping And His Habitual Liars Rattles Taiwan Ahead Of Elections

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ALJAZEERA NEWS AGENCY)

 

‘Fake news’ rattles Taiwan ahead of elections

Beijing is test-driving propaganda techniques ahead of Taiwan’s largest-ever elections on Saturday, officials say.

by

President Tsai Ing-wen looks through a pair of binoculars during an anti-invasion drill last month [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]
President Tsai Ing-wen looks through a pair of binoculars during an anti-invasion drill last month [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

Taipei, Taiwan – China is spreading “fake news” via social media to swing Taiwanese voters away from President Tsai Ing-wen’s party and behind candidates more sympathetic to Beijing ahead of elections, Taiwanese officials said.

Beijing is test-driving its techniques in Taiwan, where it has a big stake in the politics and understands the language and culture, but deployed its cyber-capacities in the United States, Australia and other democracies, the officials said.

“We received propaganda warfare coming from China for years, but this is taking a very different form,” Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, from Tsai’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), told Al Jazeera.

“It’s coming in not from newspapers or their propaganda machine but through our social media, online chat groups, Facebook, the zombie accounts set up, somewhere, by the Chinese government.”

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, from Tsai’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party [James Reinl/Al Jazeera]

Comments from Wu and other DPP officials are in line with growing global fears that authoritarian China, like Russia, is meddling in foreign elections. Last month, US Vice President Mike Pence said Moscow’s effort “pales in comparison” to interference from Beijing.

Beijing’s mission to the UN did not respond to Al Jazeera’s interview request, but Chinese officials have previously rejected such claims as “confusing right and wrong and creating something out of thin air”.

‘Orchestrate misinformation’

Taiwanese voters go to the polls on Saturday to choose mayors and others in midterm elections that will reflect the popularity of the anti-Beijing DPP and Tsai, who is expected to seek re-election in 2020.

It will be Taiwan’s largest election ever with about 19 million voters, or 83 percent of the population, casting ballots for more than 11,000 officials.

False stories can be traced to foreign servers and back to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and it’s so-called “50 Cent Army” of online trolls and commentators, DPP politician Lo Chi-cheng told Al Jazeera.

They typically undermine Tsai, the DPP or Taiwan’s autonomy from the mainland, while stirring up historic grievances by which some voters support the DPP and others back its main rival, the pro-Beijing Kuomintang (KMT).

“The US, Australia, Germany and other countries are also addressing the issue as to how countries like Russia and China use disinformation to influence domestic and electoral politics in democracies like Taiwan,” said Lo.

“It’s a more serious problem because China is so close to Taiwan, language-wise. They don’t have the cultural or language barrier and can easily fabricate news and they know the mentality of Chinese thinking, so it’s easier for them to orchestrate this misinformation.”

DPP politician Lo Chi-cheng [James Reinl/Al Jazeera]

One story suggested that Tsai was flanked by armed soldiers when visiting flood victims in Chiayi County in August. Another said some of Taiwan’s last-remaining allied governments were about to abandon Taipei.

Another said China had bussed Taiwanese nationals to safety after typhoon Jebi killed 11 and injured thousands in Japan in September, and that Taipei had let its people down – a story that reportedly led to the suicide of a Taiwanese diplomat in Osaka.

Ahead of voting, police arrested several suspects for malicious story-sharing but, for Wu, the focus is on Taiwan’s government to counter fake news with quick, factual corrections. For Lo, plans to tighten media laws are controversial as they could violate free speech rules.

‘Entertainment’ news

Not everyone fears Beijing’s media reach, however. Eric Huang, an independent analyst with links to the KMT, said Taiwan’s voters have high rates of internet penetration and are used to the subjective news in mainstream Taiwanese media.

“Taiwanese news agencies are very editorial and opinionated along party lines already, so the people are used to biased news. They just view this information coming from China as entertainment,” Huang told Al Jazeera.

Justin Yu, a technology investor in downtown Taipei, echoed these thoughts, saying younger Taiwanese web-users are well acquainted with the competing narratives from Taipei and Beijing.

“When we were in elementary school, we were told we shouldn’t be so close to the Chinese government. Whenever we see the information, we hesitate and question whether it is real or not. I don’t think there’s a real problem and it doesn’t influence us much,” Yu told Al Jazeera.

Shoppers buy mobile phones in the capital, Taipei, which has one of the world’s highest rates of internet penetration [James Reinl/Al Jazeera]

Since the 2016 election of Tsai’s pro-independence DPP, Beijing has turned the screws on Taiwan, peeling away a handful of its remaining diplomatic allies, excluding it from global forums, and forcing airlines to classify Taiwan as part of China.

Three former allies – El Salvador, Dominican Republic and Burkina Faso – switched their allegiances to Beijing this year, and the Chinese military has stepped up encirclement drills around Taiwan, which Taipei has denounced as intimidation.

According to DPP officials, Beijing has reached deep into the breakaway island of 23 million people, sowing division and confusion through online disinformation, recruiting business figures, and funnelling cash to pro-Beijing politicians.

De facto independence

The Republic of China – Taiwan’s official name – relocated to the island in 1949 when Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalists fled the mainland after being defeated by Mao Zedong’s communists. It is now a democracy with de facto independence from Beijing.

Under its “one China” policy, the Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade province that needs to be unified – by military force if necessary. Many analysts say China seeks to achieve the same end by flooding Taiwan with investment and buying off decision-makers.

The opposition KMT marks a continuation of Chiang’s legacy. DPP supporters typically highlight atrocities committed during Taiwan’s “white terror” and decades of martial law and call for independence from the mainland.

Last month, thousands of pro-independence demonstrators rallied in Taiwan’s capital to protest against Beijing’s “bullying” and called for a referendum on whether the self-ruled island should formally split from China.

Follow James Reinl on Twitter: @jamesreinl

South China Sea: The world's next big war?

UPFRONT

South China Sea: The world’s next big war?

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

India among world leaders expected to push for China-backed trade deal excluding US

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE INDIA NEWS PAPER THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

India among world leaders expected to push for China-backed trade deal excluding US

World leaders, including China, Japan, India and other Asia-Pacific countries, will push for the rapid completion of a massive, China-backed trade deal that excludes the US at a summit this week, in a rebuke to rising protectionism and Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda.

WORLD Updated: Nov 11, 2018 11:22 IST

India,China,trade deal
Not only is the US absent from the deal, but Donald Trump is skipping the summit in Singapore.(NYT)

World leaders will push for the rapid completion of a massive, China-backed trade deal that excludes the US at a summit this week, in a rebuke to rising protectionism and Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda.

China, Japan, India and other Asia-Pacific countries could announce a broad agreement on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which covers half the world’s population, on the sidelines of the annual gathering.

Not only is the US absent from the deal, but Trump is skipping the summit in Singapore, highlighting how far he has pulled back from efforts to shape global trade rules and raising further questions about Washington’s commitment to Asia.

Trump launched his unilateralist trade policy with a bang shortly after coming to office by withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a deal spearheaded by predecessor Barack Obama that aimed to bind fast-growing Asian powers into an American-backed order to counter China.

His approach has left the floor open for Beijing to promote a rival pact it favours, the 16-member RCEP, a free trade deal which also aims to cut tariffs and integrate markets, but gives weaker protection in areas including employment and the environment.

The pact championed by Obama has been kept alive even without the US, and is due to go into force this year, but the Beijing-backed pact has now overtaken it as the world’s biggest.

Announcing in Singapore that talks for the deal — which formally began in 2012 — are mostly concluded would be “important as a symbol of Asia’s commitment to trade at a time of rising global tensions”, Deborah Elms, executive director of the Asian Trade Centre, told AFP.

US commitment questioned

She said negotiations in some areas were likely to continue into next year, however, while a diplomat attending the summit, speaking anonymously, said “substantial progress” had been made but there were still sticking points.

The gathering of 20 world leaders comes against a backdrop of a months-long trade dispute between China and the United States after Trump imposed tariffs on most Chinese imports this summer, and Beijing retaliated with its own levies.

The standoff is having an impact far beyond the US and China, and leaders at the four days of meetings that begin Monday will be keen to voice their grievances to Vice President Mike Pence, attending in Trump’s place, and Premier Li Keqiang.

Trump’s absence from the Singapore gathering and a subsequent meeting of world leaders in Papua New Guinea is even more notable given Obama, who launched a so-called “pivot to Asia” to direct more US economic and military resources to the region, was a regular participant.

Washington, however, argues that it remains committed to Asia, pointing to regular visits by top officials.

“We are fully engaged,” insisted Patrick Murphy, one of the State Department’s most senior Asia diplomats. “That is very sustained and has been enhanced under the current administration.”

Nukes, sea tension

Myanmar’s embattled leader Aung San Suu Kyi is attending the meetings, and will deliver a keynote address at a business forum Monday.

She may face criticism over a military crackdown on the Muslim Rohingya that saw hundreds of thousands flee to Bangladesh last year, and has sparked rare criticism of Myanmar from within regional bloc the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Also on the agenda will be North Korea’s nuclear programme. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed a vaguely worded agreement on denuclearisation at a historic summit in June, but progress has been slow since.

Pence will also keep on pressure on Beijing over its growing aggression in the South China Sea. China claims almost all the strategically vital waters, a source of friction with Southeast Asian states that have overlapping claims as well as the US, the traditionally dominant military power in the region.

Other leaders attending include Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

But much of the focus will be on the RCEP as leaders seek to send a message in support of free trade. The deal groups the 10 ASEAN members plus China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

World leaders “should present a united front advancing trade liberalisation in (the Asia-Pacific) despite global headwinds to trade from the rising tide of global protectionism,” Rajiv Biswas, chief regional economist at IHS Markit, told AFP.

First Published: Nov 11, 2018 11:21 IST

China to help Pakistan avert fiscal crisis: One Demon Bailing Out Another: For A Price

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF AL-JAZEERA NEWS AGENCY)

 

China to help Pakistan avert fiscal crisis, ‘more talks needed’

Pakistan’s foreign reserves have dwindled, causing PM Khan to decry the financial situation he inherited.

The last time Pakistan received an IMF bailout was in 2013, when it received $6.6bn [Jason Lee/Reuters]
The last time Pakistan received an IMF bailout was in 2013, when it received $6.6bn [Jason Lee/Reuters]

China is willing to provide Pakistan with economic aid to help it deal with its deteriorating finances but more discussions are needed on the details, according to a top Chinese diplomat.

The comments on Saturday by Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou came after a meeting in Beijing between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and new Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Pakistan’s foreign reserves have plunged 42 percent since the start of the year and now stand at about eight billion dollars, or less than two months of import cover.

Late last month, Saudi Arabia pledged to give Pakistan a six billion dollars rescue package, but officials say it is not enough and the country still plans to seek a bailout from the IMF to avert a balance of payments crisis.

It would be Pakistan’s 13th rescue package from the multilateral lender since the late 1980s.

Speaking to reporters in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People following Khan’s talks with Li, Kong said his country would help.

“During the visit, the two sides have made it clear in principle that the Chinese government will provide necessary support and assistance to Pakistan in tiding over the current economic difficulties,” Kong said.

“As for specific measures to be taken, the relevant authorities of the two sides will have detailed discussions,” he added, without giving details.

Pakistan’s fiscal crisis partly comes from limited restraints on spending and a failure to institute genuine tax reform [Akhtar Soomro/Reuters]

Khan, whose party swept Pakistan’s July elections, told Chinese President Xi Jinping the previous day that he had inherited “a very difficult economic situation” at home.

Though China is Pakistan’s closest ally, Khan’s newly elected government has sought to re-think the two countries’ signature project, the $60bn China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which Beijing touts as the flagship infrastructure programme in its vast Belt and Road Initiative.

Pakistan has looked to amend CPEC to put greater emphasis on projects that focus on social development, rather than purely on infrastructure.

In his meeting with Li, Khan invited the Chinese premier to visit Pakistan and see for himself the difference the megaproject has made in the country.

“CPEC in 2013 was just an idea. Now, it is on the ground. And it has caught the imagination of the people of Pakistan,” he said.

“We feel that this a great opportunity for our country to progress, to attract investment. It gives us an opportunity to raise our standard of living, growth rate.”

For his part, Li praised the relationship, saying “China and Pakistan are all-weather partners.”

Commenting on CPEC, Kong said there were no plans to scale back the economic corridor, but he added that it would be altered somewhat to “tilt in favour of areas relating to people’s lives”.

Meanwhile, Khan’s office said in a statement that the two governments had signed a number of agreements and memoranda of understanding in the fields of agriculture, poverty reduction, forestry, law enforcement and socioeconomic development.

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SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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