China Has a Lot of Problems; Revolution Isn’t One of Them

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘RISK/HEDGE’)

 

China Has a Lot of Problems; Revolution Isn’t One of Them

China Has a Lot of Problems; Revolution Isn’t One of Them

There’s a tendency to view every major political scandal in China as a litmus test for the president. So tightly is power held in his hands that whatever happens under his watch is either an indictment of his power, and thus the viability of the Communist Party of China, or a validation of it. It’s a tempting reaction, but it’s also the wrong reaction – China is, after all, a complicated and irreducible country.

Recent events illustrate why this is so. Last week, Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency, reported that Sun Zhengcai, party chief of Chongqing, had been removed from office and replaced by someone loyal to Chinese President Xi Jinping. The report didn’t say that Sun was guilty of anything, but multiple sources have since told Western news outlets like the Wall Street Journal, Reuters and Bloomberg that Sun is being investigated for “serious” violations of Communist Party discipline. While the Chinese government has made no formal statement on the matter, Xi’s chief anti-corruption officer, Wang Qishan, published an op-ed in the People’s Daily the next day excoriating China’s “unhealthy” political culture, despite five years (and counting) of purges under his watch. Like clockwork, the subsequent headlines made Xi and Wang seem all-powerful.

Yet it was not so long ago that headlines painted a very different picture. Before Sun’s abrupt removal, the big scandal concerned Guo Wengui, a prominent Chinese businessman who fled his home country and took to the airwaves to critique China’s government. Guo set his sights on Wang, whose position was believed to be in jeopardy ahead of the upcoming party convention. But then Sun was purged, the story was rewritten, and now Xi and Wang are again paragons of power.

It’s a tired story, so let’s skip to the end: Xi is firmly in control of China. In fact, no one has been more in control of modern China since Mao Zedong. Xi continues to execute his anti-corruption campaign, but at this point it has less to do with purging potential rivals than it does with decking the halls of power with men loyal only to him. There is, by design, no opposition to Xi’s rule. He is unafraid to pursue potentially controversial policies, including economic reform, ahead of the party congress. China has a lot of problems, but revolution doesn’t seem to be one of them.


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What just happened in China is not nearly as interesting as where it happened: Chongqing. Chongqing is one of four Chinese cities that the central government has seen fit to classify as its own individual province. The others – Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai – are all coastal cities, centers of Chinese wealth and power. Chongqing is an interior city, historically isolated despite its proximity to the Yangtze River and comparatively poorer than cities on the coast. Chongqing has experienced remarkable growth over the past two decades and continues to sport some of the highest regional growth rates in the entire country, but it still lags behind the coastal cities in terms of basic metrics like regional gross domestic product and disposable income levels. According to China Daily, Chongqing needs to continue to grow at current astronomic levels for another three years just to get up to China’s national income average.

The story of Chongqing is the story of modern China. It’s where Chiang Kai-shek, leader of the Chinese Nationalists, eventually established his new capital after fleeing the invading Japanese army in 1938. Chiang had little choice in the matter. The Nationalists had no real power base in Chongqing or the surrounding Sichuan area, but they could not fight off the invading Japanese forces on the coast. Chongqing’s isolation and destitution made it an unappealing target for direct Japanese assault. Japan instead opted to wait out the Nationalists, assuming it could take over once the city deteriorated economically. After World War II was over and the Communists won the Chinese civil war, Chongqing was again relegated to backwater status. Years later, when China opened up its economy, successive Chinese governments invented various policies to bring the coastal profits to China’s interior. Chongqing began to blossom. Jiang Zemin called his policy “Open Up the West.” Xi calls his policy “One Belt, One Road.” Both are meant to solve one of China’s most enduring problems: massive social inequality.


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But the city is not without problems. Its preternatural growth rates ignore the fact that much of the city’s budget – as much as half in 2012 – comes from the central government. That same year, Xi removed from office a previous party chief of Chongqing, Bo Xilai. Ambitious and charismatic, Bo created what would come to be known as the “Chongqing model,” an economic philosophy that spurred growth through domestic consumption instead of exports – all to ameliorate social inequality. The irony, of course, is that Bo’s reforms are exactly the type of reforms China is trying to implement at a national level today. Bo was removed, not because he was necessarily doing a bad job, but because he became too successful too quickly and because the reforms he authored were associated more with him than with the Communist Party. (He is currently serving a life sentence.)

Sun is not Bo – he has neither the ambition nor the charisma that made a man like Bo so dangerousto the upper echelons of Chinese politics. But there is also no such thing as a coincidence in geopolitics. Sun is the second of the past three people to be removed from this post because of an inability or unwillingness to demonstrate his absolute loyalty to the central government. In itself this is telling.

Sun’s dismissal is not a litmus test for Xi’s power. Chongqing’s status is a litmus test for the viability of the People’s Republic of China. Since it was founded in 1949, China has achieved more than what most could have imagined, but it is still afflicted by problems that cannot be solved by dismissing party officials or by writing heavy-handed op-eds in the People’s Daily. The only way to end this story is to recast Chinese geography entirely.

The post Stories of China: Corruption and the Challenges to Come in Chongqing appeared first on Geopolitical Futures.

Taiwan Quietly Winning Diplomatic Competition with China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF VOANEWS.COM)

 

Taiwan Quietly Winning Diplomatic Competition with China

July 22, 2017

FILE - A Taiwanese visitor poses with uniformed employees of Tokyo Metro Co. for a souvenir photo at the booth of the Tokyo subway company at the Taipei International Travel Fair in Taipei, Taiwan, Nov. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

FILE – A Taiwanese visitor poses with uniformed employees of Tokyo Metro Co. for a souvenir photo at the booth of the Tokyo subway company at the Taipei International Travel Fair in Taipei, Taiwan, Nov. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

Some countries are choosing to increase diplomatic ties with China as they limit contacts with the government in Taiwan.

But Taiwan is doing better than China at a level of diplomacy that common people can feel: the number of countries that let the island’s citizens enter without requiring a visa.

Taiwan has persuaded 166 countries to let its 23 million citizens enter without a visa or with simple visa requirements. Taiwan’s foreign ministry says some of these countries have done so, knowing that China might take action against them.

Only 21 countries offer visa-free entry to people from China.

The rise of visa-free countries from 10 years ago shows that Taiwan can expand diplomatically, even when facing Chinese opposition. It is something for Taiwan’s government to show citizens who want more foreign policy successes.

Joanna Lei leads the Chunghua 21st Century research group in Taiwan.

She said, “For most of the people foreign relations is a very distant thing, but the ability to travel free around the world is a direct and personal experience…If Taiwan continues to enjoy visa-free travel, that means a lot of countries recognize the administration and allow the people from Taiwan to their lands, and that will be a major, major foreign affairs achievement.”

China claims control of Taiwan. It says the island must be reunited with the mainland someday. Taiwan has been self-ruled since the 1940s. But Chinese officials try to limit its influence around the world.

China’s government has stopped Taiwan from joining United Nations agencies since the 1970s. The government also offers aid to countries that cut diplomatic relations with Taiwan and open ties to China. Panama cuts ties with the island and recognized the government in Beijing last month.

Just 20 countries now recognize the government in Taiwan. More than 170 countries recognize China.

The effort to expand visa-free treatment for Taiwanese people began during the presidency of Ma Ying-jeou, who held office from 2008 to 2016. During that time, China and Taiwan decided to set aside political differences so the two countries could build trust through economic deals. This made it more difficult for China to stop Taiwan’s efforts to increase people-to-people contacts overseas.

Huang Kwei-bo led the foreign ministry research and planning committee from 2009 to 2011.

“(Diplomatic) cables regarding that were sent to all the offices and missions abroad, and we kept reminding officials of the importance and urgency of getting visa waivers or visas upon arrival,” he said.

“We tried to tell those potential targeted countries not to feel worried about punishment from the Beijing authorities,” he said, because improved ties under Ma “would make the visa waiver issue less sensitive.”

The Henley & Partners 2015 Visa Restrictions Index rated Taiwan passports number 28 in the world in terms of visa-free restrictions. China was ranked 93rd.

The Chinese government has shown little willingness to trust Taiwan’s current president, Tsai Ing-wen. But she has yet to call for legal independence from China.

Liu Yih-jiun teaches at Fo Guang University in Taiwan. Liu says the worsening relations between the two sides could make it more difficult for Taiwan to add countries to its visa-free list.

Last week, Taiwan and Paraguay agreed to let each other’s citizens enter without visas. The foreign ministry is also preparing to let Filipinos enter without a visa. The Philippines still requires Taiwanese to get a visa before entering the country.

Taiwan foreign ministry official Eleanor Wang says countries let Taiwanese enter without a visa for economic reasons and for better ties with Taiwan.

It is difficult for China to persuade other countries to let its citizens enter without a visa. The reason: some Chinese move to other countries illegally for economic reasons.

Lin Chong-pin is a former strategic studies professor in Taipei. He says Taiwan “has achieved a certain level of economic sufficiency, therefore its citizens are not that eager to flee from the country and get settled in other countries.”

“Most of them want to come back,” he adds. “They find Taiwan more comfortable. Countries that give Taiwan visa waivers are not threatened.”

I’m Anna Matteo.

And I’m Pete Musto.

Ralph Jennings reported this story from Taipei for VOANews.com. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted his report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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In China, Despair for Cause of Democracy After Nobel Laureate’s Death

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

A memorial to Liu Xiaobo in Hong Kong this week. In mainland China, attempts to pay tribute to Mr. Liu, a Nobel Peace laureate, have met with censorship and arrests. CreditVincent Yu/Associated Press

BEIJING — For years, the fiery band of activists pushing for democracy in China looked to Liu Xiaobo, the jailed Nobel Peace laureate, as a source of inspiration. They created social media groups devoted to his iconoclastic poetry. They held up his photos at rallies, demanding justice and transparency.

But Mr. Liu’s death last week of liver cancer, after a final, futile attempt by friends to bring about his release, has dealt a withering blow to the pro-democracy movement. Some say it is now at its weakest point since the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989.

“It’s a turning point,” said Yan Wenxin, a human rights lawyer in Beijing. “The feeling of powerlessness among activists has peaked.”

Under President Xi Jinping, the government has imprisoned dozens of lawyers, journalists and advocates and tightened controls over the internet. Now, the ruling Communist Party’s feverish attempts to erase Mr. Liu’s legacy have raised fears that Mr. Xi will intensify his campaign against activists pushing for ideas like freedom of speech and religion.

The authorities, wary of turning Mr. Liu into a martyr, have in recent days censored online tributes and arrested activists who have sought to publicly remember him.

“People are full of sorrow, anger and desperation,” said Zhao Hui, 48, a dissident writer who goes by the pen name Mo Zhixu. “We hope the democratic activists who still remain can keep the flame alive. But bringing about change to the bigger picture might be too much to ask.”

Photo

Wu Qiang drove hundreds of miles to be near Mr. Liu as he was dying. Many of Mr. Wu’s fellow dissidents now have a desire to “turn sorrow into strength,” he said. CreditZhu Zhu

The passing of Mr. Liu, who preached peace and patience, has provoked debate about the best path toward democracy. Many activists argue that more forceful tactics are necessary to counter what they see as unrelenting government hostility. Some have pushed for mass protests, while a small number believe that violence is the only option, even if they do not endorse it outright.

“Some have turned to believe in violent revolution,” said Hu Jia, a prominent dissident who served more than three years in prison for his activism and still faces routine surveillance. “It makes people feel the door to a peaceful transition has closed.”

Mr. Liu’s allies remain incensed by the Chinese government’s handling of his case. Officials disclosed that Mr. Liu, 61, had advanced liver cancer only when it was too late to treat it, prompting accusations that his medical carewas inadequate. The authorities have also prevented his wife, Liu Xia, an artist and activist, from speaking or traveling freely.

The scrutiny facing government critics is likely to grow even more suffocating in the months ahead.

The Communist Party will hold a leadership reshuffle this fall, at which Mr. Xi is expected to win another five-year term and appoint allies to key positions. In the run-up to the meeting, the party is tightening its grip on online communications and escalating pressure on critics.

Human rights advocates say that the party appears increasingly hostile toward dissent and intent on quashing even small-scale movements. Over the past two years, dozens of human rights lawyers have been jailed and accused of conspiring with foreign forces to carry out subversive plots. Mr. Xi’s government, wary of grass-roots activism, has also increased oversight of domestic and foreign nonprofit organizations.

Yaxue Cao, an activist who grew up in China but is now based in the United States, said Mr. Liu’s death was “the climax of a long and continuous stretch of ruthless elimination.” She recited a long list of critics who had been sidelined since Mr. Xi rose to power in 2012, which she said had led to a culture of fear and intimidation.

“The party has been working systematically to block the path forward,” she said. “A few hundred or a few thousand activists are nothing for the party.”

Advocates say they were startled that foreign leaders did not speak out more forcefully about the treatment of Mr. Liu. While American diplomats called on China to allow Mr. Liu to travel abroad for cancer treatment, Mr. Trump did not speak publicly about the case.

The Chinese authorities released this photo of Mr. Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, taken as his ashes were lowered into the sea last week. She has been prevented from speaking or traveling freely.CreditShenyang Municipal Information Office, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“Western countries have adopted a policy of appeasement,” Mr. Hu said. “The Communist Party has the resources to whip whomever they want.”

The Chinese government has defended its treatment of Mr. Liu and accused foreign critics of meddling in its affairs.

While China has seemed less responsive to foreign pressure on human rights issues in recent years, several activists said they thought it was still important for world leaders to speak out.

“We hope the West can maintain its moral position,” Mr. Zhao said. “Even though the pressure is not as effective as it should be, it needs to be expressed.”

Despite the government’s efforts to limit dissent, some of Mr. Liu’s supporters say they have emerged more energized in the days since his death. They see hope in a middle class that is increasingly outspoken; grass-roots activists who are taking on issues as varied as pollution and forced demolitions of homes; and a generation of young advocates who have taken on causes like feminism and rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens.

“How long can such an approach last before discontent boils over?” said Maya Wang, a researcher at Human Rights Watch in Hong Kong. “One only needs to look at the protests, particularly in the countryside, to see the enormous grievances there are out there.”

In the aftermath of Mr. Liu’s passing, his admirers have found ways around the government’s controls on speech to honor him. Several supporters uploaded photos of the ocean this week as a tribute to Mr. Liu, whose ashes were spread at sea.

Wu Qiang, a dissident intellectual, drove about 400 miles last week from Beijing to the northeastern city of Shenyang, where Mr. Liu was being treated, to be near him in his final days. Mr. Wu, 46, said Mr. Liu’s death had left many of his admirers with a desire to “turn sorrow into strength.”

“On one side is darkness; on the other side is hope,” he said. “We need to find a new way forward.”

Russia Points Missile at China While Holding Military Exercises With Beijing in Europe

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NEWSWEEK)

Russia Points Missile at China While Holding Military Exercises With Beijing in Europe

July 13, 2017, 5:44 pm

Russia and China are joining forces for historic exercises in the Baltic Sea this month, but recent missile deployments along the two countries’ mutual border in the far east may indicate that both powers hold reservations about the other’s military growth.

A fleet of Chinese warships conducted live-fire drills Wednesday in the Mediterranean Sea as they prepared to link up with Russian vessels to conduct joint military maneuvers in the Baltic Sea, according to the Associated Press. The Sino-Russian exercise, known as Joint Sea-2017, has regional countries concerned about the introduction of another major military power on behalf of Russia, which Baltic countries and other allies of U.S.-led NATO accuse of pursuing an aggressive foreign policy.

Russia and China have also taken steps toward aligning their positions toward their mutual neighbor, North Korea. Russia and China have politically backed the reclusive, militarized state since its establishment after World War Two and throughout the Korean War in the 1950s. North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and ICBMs, however, have drawn condemnation from both Russia and China, among other countries. The U.S., which backs South Korea, has been the foremost opponent of North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and, under President Donald Trump, has boosted its military presence in the Asia-Pacific, something that Russia and China deeply oppose.

Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Russian President Vladimir Putin last week to discuss closer bilateral cooperation, including on security and regional affairs. After their meeting, Xi said relations between China and Russia were at their “best time in history,” according to Russian media cited by CNBC News. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Yi shared similar remarks, according to China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency.

China and Russia aren’t entirely getting in bed together, however, As China fired away in the Mediterranean, Russia held electronic missile launches Wednesday night to test its nuclear-capable 9K720 Iskander-M missile system in the far eastern Jewish Autonomous Region, which borders Heilongjiang province in China.

Related: Russian military bombs ‘enemy submarine’ in drills near new U.S. war games

“Upon arrival in the specified area, the squads completed the tasks of deploying the missile systems, determining the data for missile strikes and electronic missile launches,” the region’s press service said in a statement cited by Russia’s Defense Ministry and Interfax News Agency.

Chinese officers from the Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Hong Kong Garrison speak to a crew member (2nd R) of the Russian guided missile cruiser Varyag (011), during a non-official port visit in Hong Kong on June 5, 2017. Russia and China’s armed forces have sought closer cooperation to counter U.S.-led NATO’s moves in Europe, but recent missile deployments may indicate mutual suspicions between the two in Asia. ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images

Russia’s ground missile forces in the region received their fourth and latest Iskander-M missile system last month, replacing the aging 9K79-1 Tochka-U tactical ballistic missile system, according to The Diplomat. Iskander-M, known to NATO as SS-26 Stone, is a highly mobile, short-range missile platform that has already been deployed to Russia’s militarized, Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, near which this month’s Joint Sea-2017 takes place. The weapons’ appearance in the far east, however, suggests China is the most likely target as major U.S. installations in Japan and South Korea are reportedly out of range for the missiles, which are capable of accurately hitting targets between 250 and 310 miles away.

China, for its own part, has also reportedly brought missiles to the border. A Dongfeng-41 nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) was moved to China’s northeastern Heilongjiang Province, according to The Global Times, the nationalist outlet of China’s ruling Communist Party. Dongfeng-41 has a projected range of up to 9,320 miles, making it potentially the longest range missile in the world.

Gregory Kulacki, the China project manager and senior analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, disputed the claims, which were also carried by international media, that a Dongfeng-41 missile was spotted in northeastern China. He said the missile seen in the video that supposedly corroborated the initial reports, was actually a new, smaller missile that may have an even longer range than the Dongfeng-41. China’s foreign ministry dismissed the claims as baseless rumors.

“According to the information provided by the Ministry of Defense, reports of the so-called military deployment are nothing more than speculation circulated on the Internet,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said January 25 during a regular press briefing. “China highly values and commends the high-level performance of the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination.”

Russian servicemen equip an Iskander tactical missile system at the Army-2015 international military-technical forum in Kubinka, outside Moscow, Russia, June 17, 2015. Russia has deployed the highly mobile, nuclear-capable weapons on its far eastern border with China, indicating what may be residual distrust at a time of heightened military cooperation with its neighbor. Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

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Russia Points Missile at China While Holding Military Exercises With Beijing in Europe

China’s Leaders Didn’t Lose Face With Death Of Nobel Laureate Xiaobo They Have Only One Face: Evil

 

China And Their “Global Leadership” Farce

 

Have you ever noticed the photographs of China’s President Xi Jinping when he is shaking the hand of any Leader of a free country or of a business man/woman of a huge company that China has struck a “working relationship” with? All I have ever seen is his smirk, his phony smile, as if he is thinking to himself “what fools these people are.” China’s Communist Leadership speaks of their global leadership but what kind of leadership are they speaking of? One of the things I have learned throughout the years is that China’s Communist Party Leaders are just like the “Leaders” of Russia, North Korea, Cuba or Venezuela and that is that they only care about themselves and that they do not give a damn about their people or any other Nations people. These “Leaders” only care about themselves, they just use everyone else for their own profits. The Countries in East Asia are playing with a mighty Python by allowing China inroads into their Countries with China’s new “Silk Road” scheme. China spends billions of dollars in their Country to help build up Seaports, Airports and roadways in their efforts to create their one Belt one Road concept yet the cost will be their freedom. China is not doing this out of the goodness of their heart, they are doing it for profits and for power. China is charging these much poorer countries interest rates that are far above the going rates just like a “Loan Shark” does. They know that these Countries cannot afford to repay these “loans” plus China demands they make payments before the host countries can even start reaping revenues. If you do not believe me, Check into how Sri Lanka is doing with their China arrangement. Just like when a person deals with a Loan Shark when the Country cannot repay their loans on time, their collateral is taken from them, in China’s case they will take the freedom and sovereignty of the Countries who cannot repay and if necessary they will take their lives if the people of the Countries stand up and say no. China is the Python who will crush the life out of you and then devour all that was yours.

 

The first paragraph was just to show you the evil patterns, or the “MO” (method of operation) China’s Communist Leadership operates by. I am now going to spend the rest of this commentary about a great man who died this morning in China, this man’s name is Liu Xiaobo. China’s Leaders try to show a face of strength yet they are petrified of simple peaceful words, so in truth, they are sniveling cowards. When someone confronts you with truthful honest words and you react with violence, you are not strong, you are pathetic and weak. Mr. Xiaobo was a scholar not a soldier, his weapon was a keyboard not a gun. He spoke of kindness and freedom for the people of his Country yet China’s Leaders responded by giving him prison sentences.

 

In Beijing China on June 4th of 1989 the true face of Communism showed their true face when they sent in soldiers with tanks to crush a peaceful demonstration of at least 100,000 citizens. This mostly students who had been demonstrating peacefully for China’s Leaders to step down and allow democracy. Mr. Xiaobo joined this peaceful protest, he was lucky, he only received a two-year prison sentence. On this day the military murdered thousands of their own citizens at the orders of China’s Leaders, also at least 10,000 people were arrested and put into prison. In China this day is referred to as “the June 4th incident” most people here in the civilized word call it the “Tiananmen Square Massacre.” To show the face of irony the definition of Tiananmen in Mandarin is “Gate Of Heavenly Peace.”

 

That I am aware of there were only three different prison sentences Mr. Xiaobo suffered in his life. There was the two-year prison sentence Mr. Xiaobo received from the Tiananmen incident, then there was a three-year prison term because he dared to write of freedom for the Chinese people. The last of these three prison terms the Communist Leaders put upon Mr. Xiaobo was in 2011 when they sentenced him to 11 years in prison because of his writings. Much to China’s anger in 2012 Mr. Xiaobo won the Nobel Prize for literature , this turned out to be a prison sentence that he would not be able to live through as he died this morning after 6 years from liver cancer. President Xi Jinping and his henchmen again showed their true faces of evil when they refused to allow Mr. Xiaobo to be allowed to go to the United States or to Europe to get medical treatment. In the end China’s leadership got exactly what they wanted and that is the death of a peaceful man.

China Officially Sets Up Its First Overseas Military Base In Djibouti

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE DIPLOMAT NEWS AGENCY)

 

China Officially Sets Up Its First Overseas Base in Djibouti

While foreign media call the new facility a “military” base, China instead calls it a “support base,” which “will ensure China’s performance of missions, such as escorting, peace-keeping, and humanitarian aid in Africa and west Asia,” according to Xinhua, China’s news agency.

In the early morning of July 11, China held an official ceremony in the port of Zhanjiang, south China’s Guangdong province. The commander of China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), Shen Jinlong, “read an order on constructing the base in Djibouti, and conferred military flag on the fleets.” Then Shen ordered, “Set off!” and the ships carrying Chinese military personnel departed the port, reported Xinhua.

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.In addition to its basic supporting role, the Djibouti base will also perform other functions including “military cooperation, joint exercises, evacuating and protecting overseas Chinese and emergency rescue, as well as jointly maintaining security of international strategic seaways,” said Xinhua.

Regarding China’s reasons for establishing the “support base,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi explained that it is meant to help “maintain [China’s] growing overseas interests.”

In an annual press conference held during the 12th National People’s Congress held on March 8, 2016, Wang Yi elaborated on China’s construction in Djibouti:

Like any growing powers, China’s interests are constantly expanding overseas. At present, there are 30,000 Chinese enterprises all over the world… An urgent task for China’s diplomacy is to maintain the growing overseas interests. How to maintain? I would like to tell you clearly that China will never go through the expansion path of the traditional powers, nor will China pursue hegemony. We want to explore a path with Chinese characteristics that both follows the trend of the times and is welcomed by all parties.

Thus, “according to the objective needs and in response to the wishes of the related country,” China will establish some necessary facilities, like its support base in Djibouti. “This is not only reasonable, but also in line with international practice,” said Wang Yi.

So far, it seems that the “related country” — Djibouti — does wish for a greater Chinese presence. China has greatly invested in the tiny Horn of African nation, and included Djibouti in its grand “One Belt, One Road” initiative.

According to Aboubaker Omar Hadi, the chairman of Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority, China has already invested nearly $15 billion in Djibouti’s  port expansion and related infrastructure development.

Charlotte Gao holds a MA degree in Asian Studies. Her research interests center around East Asian topics. She has worked in the past as a news editor, reporter, and writer for multiple traditional, online, and new media outlets.

If Trump wants China to ‘solve the North Korea problem,’ he has to cater to Beijing’s interests

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LOS ANGLES TIMES)

Op-Ed 

If Trump wants China to ‘solve the North Korea problem,’ he has to cater to Beijing’s interests

Doug Bandow

Even when President Trump has a good idea, he doesn’t stick with it long enough. Like pushing China on North Korea.

Of North Korea, said candidate Trump: “We should put pressure on China to solve the problem.” As president, he initially placed the issue front and center in the U.S.-China relationship.

But a couple months later, Trump appears to have lost hope in Beijing. “While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried,” he tweeted recently.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman responded that his nation had “played an important and constructive role” in promoting peace on the Korean peninsula. Exactly how the People’s Republic of China helped is not clear, however. It cut back on coal purchases, but other commerce with North Korea continues. The Trump administration asked the Xi government to act against ten firms and individuals who trade with the North, but is still waiting for action.

Most proponents of “the China card” imagine Beijing cutting off trade, especially energy and food. Having just returned from Pyongyang — the North Korean government invited me but the Cato Institute paid my expenses — I found both energy and food to be in seeming good supply. Despite reports that gasoline prices have increased, there was no visual evidence of a shortage.

An undefined diplomatic duty won’t prompt China to act. The Trump administration must therefore convince Xi’s government that punishing North Korea benefits China. Which means Washington must take into account Beijing’s interests.

First, Chinese officials have long blamed the U.S. for adopting a threatening policy, which spurred the North to build nuclear weapons. Thus, Washington should work with South Korea and Japan to develop a package of benefits — economic assistance, security assurances, peace treaty, diplomatic recognition, and more — to offer in return for denuclearization, and present it to Beijing, then to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Second, China fears a messy collapse if the DPRK refuses to disarm. Nightmares of millions of refugees crossing the Yalu River, factional conflict in Pyongyang, combat among competing military units spilling across the border, and loose nukes have created a strong Chinese preference for the status quo. The U.S. needs to emphasize that the present situation is also dangerous and discuss how the allies are prepared to assist with any ill consequences. A commitment to help care for refugees and accept Chinese intervention in the North, for instance, might help assuage Beijing’s concerns.

Third, Beijing does not want to facilitate Korean reunification, creating a larger and stronger state allied with the U.S. and leaving American troops on the Yalu, or even farther down the peninsula. Among the issues worth discussing: respect for Chinese economic interests in North Korea, withdrawal of U.S. forces after reunification, and military nonalignment of a unified Korea.

Fourth, the U.S. could offer additional positive incentives. Trade, Taiwan, and territorial issues all provide areas where Washington could offer specific concessions in return for Beijing’s assistance. That obviously would increase the price of any agreement, but the U.S. has to decide how far it will go to promote denuclearization.

Of course, such an approach leaves much to be desired. Even if Kim Jong Un’s government accepted benefits in exchange for disarmament, human rights abuses could still continue. Or Pyongyang might refuse and survive, leaving an even more dangerous and impoverished nuclear nation. In the event of government collapse, China might resurrect the DPRK, only with more pliable rulers.

However, there are no better options. Military strikes might not destroy the North’s main nuclear assets and probably would trigger a second Korean War, which would result in horrific death and destruction even for the “victors.” Targeting Chinese firms would damage relations with Beijing without necessarily significantly weakening Pyongyang. People look longingly to Beijing only because enlisting China’s help appears to be the best of several bad options.

If there ever were a time for the U.S. to negotiate for Chinese cooperation, it is now. Trump and Xi appear to have established a positive relationship. The tragic death of Otto Warmbier after his release by Pyongyang adds urgency to efforts to address North Korea. Moreover, in Pyongyang I saw no visible signs of the warm friendship that officially exists between North Korea and China. In fact, North Korean officials said they wanted to reduce their dependence on “any one nation.”

Winning Chinese assistance remains a long shot, but Trump should put his self-proclaimed negotiating skills to work. There is no alternative, other than essentially accepting North Korea as a nuclear state, which the president presumably does not want as his foreign policy legacy.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a former special assistant to President Reagan. He is the author of “Tripwire: Korea and U.S. Foreign Policy in a Changed World” and coauthor of “The Korean Conundrum: America’s Troubled Relations with North and South Korea.”

‘Everyone in China has the American Dream’ – and a popular path to it may disappear

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

‘Everyone in China has the American Dream’ – and a popular path to it may disappear

 July 7

Their son was barely a year old when Jehan Li and Mia Qi plunked down a half-million dollars for the boy to have a shot at a brighter future in America — away from the grinding competition of a Chinese education and this city’s smog-choked air.

Last December, having made just a single visit to the United States on their honeymoon, the Chinese couple took advantage of a U.S. law, nicknamed the “golden visa,” that doles out green cards to foreigners who invest $500,000 in the United States.

Critics say the fast track to citizenship favors the ultra-rich. It is also emerging as one of the most attainable paths to U.S. residency for members of China’s growing professional class — and now it could disappear.

The nearly three-decade-old program has come under new scrutiny in recent months, in part because of a sales pitch to Chinese investors by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s family real estate business.

Congress and the Trump administration are considering changing the rules for the investor visas as a means of cracking down on money laundering and visa-for-sale fraud. Potential changes, such as raising the investment threshold, would have little impact on China’s wealthiest. But they could shut out families such as Li and Qi, who despite riding the curve of upward socioeconomic mobility in China still see the United States as their best opportunity and this visa program as their best option.

The debate over the investor visas raises basic questions about the purpose of U.S. visa policies. Some say this program should be eliminated in favor of other immigrant groups, such as high-skilled workers or refugees escaping persecution — and not let people buy their way into the United States. Others say those with substantial amounts of money are best positioned to boost the American economy, by investing their wealth and creating jobs.

“Are we looking for the people? Or are we looking for the money?” said William Cook, former general counsel of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service under President George H.W. Bush when Congress created the EB-5 visa program.

“In the end, the simple truth is the government is looking for the money. And that may unfortunately exclude people who can no longer afford it, even if they may be the best people in the world.”

During his lunch break at a Pizza Hut in one of Beijing’s ubiquitous shopping malls, Li, a 38-year-old civil engineer, explained the draw of the EB-5 investor visas for upwardly mobile Chinese without vast inherited fortunes.

“There are a lot of ways to immigrate to America, but this EB-5 program is the easiest,” said Li, who invested in a Miami residential skyscraper under construction.

The only requirement is cash. Unlike other immigration visas, one does not need to have relatives in the United States or have any extraordinary ability, educational degree or professional achievement.

The EB-5 program became attractive to U.S. real estate developers after the 2008 financial crisis as a reliable source of cheap capital when bank loans were difficult to come by. The developers pay low annual interest on investments from EB-5 visa holders, typically just 4 to 8 percent compared with 12 to 18 percent for conventional financing. After authorities confirm that the money has created at least 10 American jobs, a visa holder will be eligible for permanent residency — and to recoup his or her investment.

“It is good to own some U.S. dollars as the U.S. economy recovers from the financial crisis,” Li said.

Far from being scions of China’s ruling class, Li and his wife, a customer service representative at a Beijing real estate company, earn about $100,000 a year. That is well above average for Beijing but not in the ranks of the wealthiest elites.

They were able to scrounge up the $500,000 by selling a four-bedroom house on the outskirts of Beijing that Li’s parents had helped him buy a decade ago. (It is common in China for parents to help their children, especially sons, buy homes.)

The family of three rents a modest, two-bedroom high-rise apartment in a middle-class compound in the southwestern part of China’s sprawling capital city. Although home ownership is prized among Chinese as a secure financial investment, Li and Qi said they view renting as a sacrifice for the sake of their son, Oscar.

The couple, who married in 2014, said they committed to immigrating during their ­10-day honeymoon in California, where they soaked up the grandeur of Yosemite National Park, visited the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and even checked out the University of California at Los Angeles.

“We went to America to vacation with the purpose of understanding the country,” said Li, whose notions about the United States came only from movies and television news. “The values of independence, equality, freedom and democracy have attracted me deeply. I was already hoping to raise our child there.”

Qi, also 38, said they knew then that they needed to find a way for their future child to study in America.

“Everyone hopes their children can get the best education, and the best education is in the United States,” she said. “There are too many people in China, and the competition is fierce, so all they do is study, study, study.”

Chasing the American Dream

Of the 8,500 EB-5 visas issued in 2016, 82 percent went to investors from mainland China, according to the State Department. A decade ago, Chinese nationals accounted for just 12 percent of such visas.

Chinese immigration brokers say upper-middle-class investors have flocked to the program in recent years as their incomes increased and their real estate appreciated.

But that route to the United States may soon close for families such as Li and Qi.

Congressional authorization for the EB-5 visa expires in September, and lawmakers, as well as the Department of Homeland Security, are weighing new rules that could raise investment requirements from $500,000 to as much as $1.35 million.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who assailed the investor visa as “citizenship for sale” to the wealthiest bidders, has introduced a bill with Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) to scrap the program.

Legislators who have long agitated for change were further riled in May after one of Kushner’s sisters pitched a New Jersey luxury apartment project managed by the family’s real estate company to potential Chinese investors in Beijing.

Such sales presentations by U.S. developers seeking to woo Chinese investors are common, immigration brokers say. But the Kushner Companies event drew criticism for attempting to cash in on Kushner’s White House connections. One speaker advised those in attendance to invest early — under the “old rules” requiring $500,000 — in case regulations change under President Trump, Kushner’s ­father-in-law.

Michael Short, a White House spokesman, told The Washington Post that the Trump administration is “evaluating wholesale change of the EB-5 program,” including “exploring the possibility of raising the price of the visa.”

The uncertainty has prompted a scramble among some Chinese investors, said Jerry Liu, an immigration consultant in Beijing.

“Right now, the market is really hot, and more people can afford it because of China’s growing economy,” Liu said. “Everyone in China has the American Dream.”

Because of a cap on the number of visas by nationality, Chinese applicants must wait seven to 10 years from the time they invest to when they secure green cards, Liu said. The program has a big backlog; until 2015, the wait time was five years.

That has prompted parents, worried about their children turning 21 and aging out of the visa program before their green cards are approved, to start applying years before their children reach high school.

About a third of Chinese applicants are even applying in their teenage children’s names, anticipating that their green cards would not be available until they are adults and can move to the United States on their own, said Ronnie Fieldstone, a Miami attorney representing developers and Chinese immigration agents involved in EB-5 projects.

Li and Qi are relieved to have gotten in line before the United States changes the investment rules.

The Miami development they invested in is slated to be finished in early 2019, according to Paramount Miami Worldcenter, the developer. Construction is complete for 12 of its 60 stories. More than 60 percent of the luxury condominium’s 500 units have sold.

Once the U.S. government approves the family’s petition, they will receive two-year conditional green cards.

The couple have already researched housing and schools in Los Angeles, where they hope to settle. And they are exposing Oscar, 21 months old, to English through nursery songs. He is learning the alphabet and likes to sing a counting song about catching fish.

“We hope to be in America,” Qi said, “by the time our son finishes elementary school.”

This story was reported during a fellowship sponsored by the East-West Center, a nonprofit funded by Congress and private donors to foster understanding between the United States and Asia.

China Tells Carriers to Block Access to Personal VPNs by February

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BLOOMBERG NEWS)

Photographer: William Iven

China Tells Carriers to Block Access to Personal VPNs by February

July 10, 2017, 6:29 AM EDT July 10, 2017, 8:26 AM EDT
  • 2018 deadline to stop individuals from accessing global web
  • Tightening controls come amid Xi’s goal of “cyber-sovereignty”

China’s government has told telecommunications carriers to block individuals’ access to virtual private networks by Feb. 1, people familiar with the matter said, thereby shutting a major window to the global internet.

Beijing has ordered state-run telecommunications firms, which include China MobileChina Unicom and China Telecom, to bar people from using VPNs, services that skirt censorship restrictions by routing web traffic abroad, the people said, asking not to be identified talking about private government directives.

The clampdown will shutter one of the main ways in which people both local and foreign still manage to access the global, unfiltered web on a daily basis. China has one of the world’s most restrictive internet regimes, tightly policed by a coterie of government regulators intent on suppressing dissent to preserve social stability. In keeping with President Xi Jinping’s “cyber sovereignty” campaign, the government now appears to be cracking down on loopholes around the Great Firewall, a system that blocks information sources from Twitter and Facebook to news websites such as the New York Times and others.

While VPNs are widely used by businesses and individuals to view banned websites, the technology operates in a legal gray area. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology pledged in January to step up enforcement against unauthorized VPNs, and warned corporations to confine such services to internal use. At least one popular network operator said it had run afoul of the authorities: GreenVPN notified users it would halt service from July 1 after “receiving a notice from regulatory departments.” It didn’t elaborate on the notice.

It’s unclear how the new directive may affect multinationals operating within the country, which already have to contend with a Cybersecurity Law that imposes stringent requirements on the transfer of data and may give Beijing unprecedented access to their technology. Companies operating on Chinese soil will be able to employ leased lines to access the international web but must register their usage of such services for the record, the people familiar with the matter said.

“This seems to impact individuals” most immediately, said Jake Parker, Beijing-based vice president of the US-China Business Council. “VPNs are incredibly important for companies trying to access global services outside of China,” he said.

“In the past, any effort to cut off internal corporate VPNs has been enough to make a company think about closing or reducing operations in China. It’s that big a deal,” he added.

China Mobile Ltd., the Hong Kong-listed arm of the country’s biggest carrier, declined to comment. Representatives for publicly traded China Telecom Corp. and China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd. couldn’t immediately comment. The ministry didn’t immediately reply to an email seeking comment.

— With assistance by Steven Yang, and Christina Larson

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China Shows Off Their First Aircraft Carrier To The Public

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

China’s carrier open to the public

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