Emboldened China Wields Its Laws to Silence Critics From Abroad

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES AND ANDY TAI’S GOOGLE PLUS WEB SITE)

 

Asia Pacific

Emboldened China Wields Its Laws to Silence Critics From Abroad

By STEVEN LEE MYERS and CHRIS HORTON

BEIJING — On the morning he disappeared, the activist Lee Ming-cheh crossed from Macau into mainland China to meet with democracy advocates.

It was 177 days later when he reappeared in public, standing in the dock of a courtroom in central China last week, confessing to a conspiracy to subvert the Communist Party by circulating criticism on social media.

The circumstances surrounding Mr. Lee’s detainment remain murky, but what has made the case stand out from the many that the Chinese government brings against its critics is that Mr. Lee is not a citizen of China, but rather of Taiwan, the self-governing island over which Beijing claims sovereignty.

The proceedings against Mr. Lee, who is expected to be sentenced as soon as this week, punctuated what critics have warned are China’s brazen efforts to extend the reach of its security forces to stifle what it perceives as threats to its power emanating from overseas.

In recent months alone, China has sought the extradition of ethnic Uighur studentsstudying overseas in Egypt and carried out the cinematic seizure of a billionaire from a Hong Kong hotel in violation of an agreement that allows the former British colony to run its own affairs. The billionaire, Xiao Jianhua, now appears to be a material witness in another politically tinged investigation against the Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda.

China abruptly surfaced charges of rape against yet another billionaire, Guo Wengui, after he sought political asylum in the United States, where he has been making sensational accusations about the Communist Party’s leadership. Mr. Guo’s case could become a major test for the Trump administration’s relations with Beijing at a time of tensions over North Korea and trade.

The Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui has sought political asylum in the United States.

JAMES ESTRIN / THE NEW YORK TIMES

“China has been extending its clampdown — its choking of civil society — throughout the world, and often it is attempting this through official channels such as the U.N. or Interpol,” said Michael Caster, a rights campaigner who was a co-founder of the Chinese Urgent Action Working Group. “Unfortunately, they’re very adept at doing it.”

The Chinese Urgent Action Working Group, which provided seminars for lawyers and legal aid for defendants in China, folded last year after the country’s powerful Ministry of State Security arrested and held Mr. Caster’s colleague, Peter Dahlin, a Swedish citizen, for 23 days.

Mr. Caster noted that Interpol’s president, Meng Hongwei, is a veteran of China’s state security apparatus. Human Rights Watch recently reported that China was blocking the work of United Nations agencies investigating rights issues and preventing critics from testifying at hearings, including in one case the leader of the World Uyghur Congress, Dolkun Isa.

China’s economic and diplomatic clout has meant that few countries are willing or able to do much to challenge its extraterritorial legal maneuvers. Some have even gone along.

And countries as varied as Armenia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Kenya, Spain and Vietnam have all extradited to China scores of people accused in a spate of telephone swindles targeting Chinese citizens, even though the suspects are, like Mr. Lee, citizens of Taiwan.

“Treating Lee Ming-cheh as a mainland Chinese marks a major watershed,” said Hsiao I-Min, a lawyer at the Judicial Reform Foundation in Taiwan, who accompanied Mr. Lee’s wife from Taiwan to attend the trial.

Peter Dahlin, a Swedish citizen, was arrested in China and held for 23 days last year.

ADAM DEAN FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES

Mr. Lee’s case has added new strain in relations with Taiwan, which have soured since the election last year of a new president, Tsai Ing-wen. China has cut off official communications with Ms. Tsai’s government over her refusal to voice support for what Beijing calls the “1992 consensus,” which holds that the mainland and Taiwan are both part of the same China but leaves each side to interpret what that means.

In response to Mr. Lee’s legal odyssey, Ms. Tsai’s government has been relatively muted. “Our consistent position on this case is that we will do everything in our power to ensure his safe return while protecting the dignity of the nation,” said a spokesman for the presidential administration, Alex Huang.

China and Taiwan had in recent years cooperated on criminal investigations under a protocol that required each to notify the other in cases involving the arrests of its citizens. The Chinese government has recently abandoned such diplomatic niceties, officials in Taiwan say.

Taiwan’s government was notified of Mr. Lee’s arrest only when the public was — 10 days after his detainment in March near Macau, the former Portuguese colony that, like Hong Kong, is a special administrative region of China with its own legal system.

Whatever the veracity of his courtroom confession, Mr. Lee, 42, assumed enormous risk to make contact with rights campaigners inside China. A manager at Wenshan Community College in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, Mr. Lee volunteered for a rights organization called Covenants Watch and often traveled to the mainland.

Mr. Lee’s wife, Lee Ching-yu, learned his case had come to a head when a state-appointed lawyer contacted her this month. She only found out about his court appearance last week in Yueyang, in the southern province of Hunan, from news reports that circulated two days later, according to Patrick Poon, a researcher at Amnesty International.

According to excerpts released by the Yueyang Intermediate People’s Court, Mr. Lee entered a guilty plea. He appeared with a Chinese co-defendant, Peng Yuhua, and together they were accused of trying to organize protests using the social media platforms WeChat and QQ, as well as Facebook, which is banned here.

Mr. Lee told the court that watching Chinese state television during his prolonged detention convinced him that he had been deceived by Taiwan’s free news media and was wrong about China’s political system. “These incorrect thoughts led me to criminal behavior,” he said.

Mr. Hsiao, the lawyer from Taiwan, said none of Mr. Lee’s acquaintances had heard of the co-defendant. Mr. Peng testified that together they had established chat groups online and formed a front organization, the Plum Blossom Company, with the aim of fomenting change. Mr. Hsiao said that no such company existed.

“He was a fake,” Mr. Hsiao said of Mr. Peng. “This guy does not really exist. He was playing a role.”

Ms. Lee, too, denounced her husband’s trial as a farce. “Today the world and I together witnessed political theater, as well as the differences between the core beliefs of Taiwan and China,” she said at her hotel in Yueyang, adding that the “norms of expression in Taiwan are tantamount to armed rebellion in China.”

Mr. Lee’s case has echoes of the fate of five booksellers in Hong Kong, four of whom who were spirited out of the semiautonomous city in the fall of 2015 after publishing gossipy material about Chinese political intrigues, which, while legal in Hong Kong, is not in China.

One bookseller, Lee Bo, is a British citizen. Another, Gui Minhai, is a naturalized Swedish citizen; he vanished from his seaside apartment in Pattaya, Thailand, in October 2015 and returned to China in a manner that has not been fully explained. He appeared on state television in January 2016 and said he had voluntarily returned to face punishment for a fatal car accident in 2003. He remains in prison.

“What happened to my father is a much larger issue,” Mr. Gui’s daughter, Angela Gui, who has been campaigning for his release, wrote in an email. “It shows that foreign citizens aren’t safe from Chinese state security, even when they are outside China’s borders. I find it strange that governments aren’t more worried about China’s new self-proclaimed role as world police.”

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Two criminal cases — one in China, one in Taiwan Show Huge Differences In Legal Systems

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LOS ANGLES TIMES)

 

Two criminal cases — one in China, one in Taiwan — show a deeper rift between the political systems

Ralph Jennings

Courts in China and Taiwan, rivals for 70 years, each took a criminal state-security case this week involving a suspect from the other side, and outcomes so far are baring schisms between the political systems that will complicate already strained relations.

A court in China’s Hunan province heard the case Monday against Lee Ming-che, a Taiwanese activist charged with subversion of state power. He faces 10 years in a Chinese prison if convicted of using social media since 2012 to advocate multiparty democracy for the Communist country.

On Friday, the district court in Taipei sentenced Chinese national Zhou Hongxu to 14 months in prison for endangering state security. The 29-year-old MBA holder tried to bribe a government worker to pass information to China, a court statement says.

These cases are reminders of the festering divide between Taiwan — with its 30-year democracy — and China’s Communist rule. In Taiwan, it raises support for its autonomy from Beijing and frustrates China’s goal of uniting the two lands. China claims sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan.

“These cases will remind people China’s not a free country ruled by law — maybe politically motivated — and people will ask the government here how to handle that,” said Gratiana Jung, senior political researcher with the Taipei think tank Yuanta-Polaris Research Institute.

Lee, a 42-year-old philosophy major who went missing on a trip to China in March, would not face prosecution in Taiwan for advocating a different type of government. China, however, regards vocal democracy advocates as threats to Communist rule.

“This is an issue about which the [Communist] Party is hyper-sensitive and maximally heavy-handed,” said Denny Roy, senior fellow at the East-West Center think tank in Honolulu. “Mr. Lee unfortunately walked into a merciless buzz saw.”

The hearing, which produced video footage shown outside court, could worry Taiwanese tourists in China as well as the 1 million to 3 million people who live there long term, usually for business, said Shane Lee, political scientist with Chang Jung Christian University in Taiwan. “I think it’s getting harder and harder to see why these things happen,” he said.

The Chinese spy case, though hardly a first for the two sides, could stir concern that Beijing is trying to undermine Taiwan further during a low point in overall relations.

China resents Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen for rejecting Beijing’s condition for dialogue. That condition holds that both sides belong to a single country called China. China sees dialogue, which happened regularly from 2008 to 2015, as a conduit to eventual unification.

The two sides have been ruled separately since Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists rebased in Taiwan after losing the Chinese civil war in the 1940s.

“The biggest thing people will take away this week is awareness of the legal process,” Taiwan lawmaker Lee Chun-yi said. The Taiwanese activist’s hearing will be regarded as a “show” rather than a legal process, he said, and “they’ll trust China less.”

The bribery case, he said, raises questions about how many more people like the man sentenced Friday are still operating in Taiwan.

Most Taiwanese have said in government surveys over the past two years they oppose unification with China. Many prefer their democratic freedoms, which China cannot offer.

Washington-based advocacy group Freedom House gave China a score of 15 and Taiwan a 91 in this year’s rankings of the strongest political rights and civil liberties.

Since Tsai took office in May 2016, Beijing has sent an aircraft carrier near the island about 100 miles away, persuaded two allies to cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan and scaled back Taiwan-bound tourism.

The Taiwan government’s Mainland Affairs Council, a China policymaking body, anticipated the Lee case would affect relations with China.

“The Mainland Affairs Council appeals to mainland China after today’s court hearing to respond appropriately to the common hope from all circles and carefully act in accordance with universal values as well as trends in the just handling of human rights,” it said in a statement Monday.

The Chinese national’s sentence, about a quarter of the maximum for his crime, will show that Taiwan is not using the case to punish China, analysts say. The Tsai government has avoided directly offending Beijing even as talks have ended in a stalemate.

“It’s a very funny period of time to watch cross-Strait relations,” Shane Lee said, referring to China-Taiwan ties. “We’ve been trying to show goodwill toward China.”

China blocks access to ‘sacred’ mountain near North Korea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF UPI AND FROM ANDY  TAI’S GOOGLE PLUS BLOG)

 

China blocks access to ‘sacred’ mountain near North Korea

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   Sept. 14, 2017 at 11:13 AM

China has blocked parts of a national park built around Changbaishan, or Mount Paektu, in Jilin Province, following North Korea’s sixth nuclear test. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI

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Sept. 14 (UPI) — Public access to the Changbaishan National Nature Reserve in China, also known as Mount Paektu in North Korea, has been partly blocked out of safety concerns, according to a South Korean newspaper.

Donga Ilbo reported Thursday that Chinese authorities have temporarily closed parts of the national park in northeastern Jilin Province amid rising fears in the region about radioactive contamination, following North Korea’s sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3.

The area that is no longer accessible to the public is located about 70 miles from Punggye-ri, the North Korean nuclear site where Pyongyang recently detonated a bomb that may have released as much as 250 kilotons of energy, according to U.S. experts.

The announcement on the shutdown was posted to Weibo — the Chinese social network that most closely resembles Twitter — on Thursday.

“For the safety and convenience of travelers, we have temporarily closed the southern tourist zone of Changbai Mountain,” authorities said. “Officials are thoroughly investigating the safety of the tourist area.”

Chinese authorities also said the area will remain closed until “the potential risks disappear.”

Falling rocks have been causing problems but the northern and western zones of the national park are to remain open, they added.

Chinese commenters said online they fear the worst, following the test.

China had been repairing facilities around Changbai Mountain for four years, and commenters said it is unfortunate the park must close because of North Korea’s provocation.

Speculation is rising in China whether falling rocks at the mountain are the result of the test, according to the Donga.

Commenters said the Chinese government was blocking reply messages to the announcement.

The Changbaishan National Nature Reserve is considered the official birthplace of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

The mountain sits on the border between North Korea and China and is accessible from both sides.

Presidents Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump: 3 Demonic Souls?

Please Take The Time To Reference The Book Of Revelation For Greater Understanding

 

I have been debating how to write this article for about a month now, I have even been debating how to word the title also. I had been thinking about making the title something like ‘Are These 3 Men 3 Beasts Of Revelation’, yet as I started writing the title I changed it to what you see now. Obviously I am trying to tweak folks interest enough to get them to take a few moments to stop in, read and contemplate what I am going to say to you here in this article today. I hope that you enjoy the read, I hope that I am able to get you to think and maybe even get you to reread the last book of the New Testament, the Book of Revelation.

 

As this system that we all live in keeps getting worse as it and we are spiraling toward the ‘End Of Days’ spoken of several times throughout both the Old and the New Testaments. The Rapture, the second coming of Christ, will not come today or tomorrow, I can say this with total confidence simply because all of the Bible’s end of time prophecies have not been fulfilled yet. For those of you who are unaware of it the Rapture is when Armageddon will happen. Armageddon is when the governments and their armies and their people fight against God and His Angels and the people are crushed like grapes in a wine-press. When Christ returns one of the first things that will happen is the Demons who posed as world leaders will straightway be cast into Hell. This will happen because they have already been judged and found guilty by God. This is when the people will see and understand that they have been deceived by their Demonic Leaders and it will be too late for those poor Souls then. These humans are the ones who allowed these evil governments and their leaders to insert computer chips in their hands or in their head. This, is the ‘Mark of the Beast’, the Devil’s mark, the way that the governments will get all the people to bow down to them.

 

As time closes out the broader circle of world power will continue to shrink into fewer and fewer hands. There will come a time when almost all of the worlds military and economic power will rest in the hands of 10 governments, 10 Leaders. This system will then be usurped by just 3 seats of power, then finally just one. I believe that the 3 world powers will come from 3 regions of the world. Please think of the globe in the means of north to south planes. One of these 3 great powers will come from Asia so almost without a doubt, China. Another of the 3 great powers will come from the center area. I believe that Russia in time will dominate Europe, don’t laugh folks, President Putin if he wished to do it can right now turn off the oil and gas to Europe. With no energy all of their economies will quickly implode or Russia could play the ‘good neighbor’ and end up having a seat at the EU table. Then you have the western hemisphere, the Americas, most likely dominated by the U.S.. These 3 will be usurped by ‘The” Anti-Christ who will come up from underneath them and the 3 will give all their power to their Master, “The” Anti-Christ which is the Devil Himself.

 

Do I really believe that the 3 Presidents that I mentioned in the title are or will be the 3 who will control these 3 realms? Do I really believe that these 3 men are evil, yes I do. Everyone’s body is like unto a house and this house can only have 3 options, I am referring to the Spiritual plane . One option is the house is empty, anther option is the house is the dwelling place of God’s Holy Spirit, and the third option is that it is occupied by at least one Demonic Spirit. A demon can not enter where the Holy Spirit resides so they cannot share one house. Where the Holy Spirit is, no Demon is there. So, these three Presidents are just like you and I in regard to our bodies being a dwelling place, a house, a home. There is a such a thing as a person who chooses to be evil by their nature, one does not need a Demonic presence to be hate filled, egotistical and selfish, way to many humans manage that all on their own dime. Now do I believe that these 3 Presidents I mentioned are going to be the “big 3” very shortly before the ‘end of days’? Honestly, I think probably not, but is it possible? Yes it is possible, certainly these 3 men fit the profile and I believe that in China and in Russia their two current Presidents have no intention of ever letting go of the power they now have. Trump, who knows about this egomaniac. Pope Francis last year questioned Trumps faith and his being pro-life and Mr. Trump rebutted that “no religious leader should ever question another man faith.” A couple of things, yes, it is exactly what a religious leaders job is in part to question people’s faith. Yet in Mr. Trumps case it is my belief that you cannot question something that does not exist.

 

I hope you enjoyed this little ‘future’ history discussion. I hope that you will take an hour or so and read through the Book Of Revelation again. I also hope that if you have any questions, please ask them I will give you the most honest and truthful answers that I know of. God’s love and peace I wish to each and every one of you, God bless.

 

 

Trump ‘Ignorance’ Turns Kim Jong Un’s Hopes into Achievable Goals

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE 38 NORTH.ORG) (SOUTH KOREA)

 

Trump Turns Kim Jong Un’s Hopes into Achievable Goals

Three generations of North Korea’s Kim family have dreamed of getting the United States off the Korean peninsula. Now, the Trump administration appears to be doing everything it can to undermine the US-South Korean alliance that has vexed Pyongyang since the armistice that ceased the Korean War was signed 64 years ago.

During his election campaign, Donald Trump’s “America First” rhetoric caused broad and general consternation amongst US allies. Then, more than once, he suggested that maybe South Korea and Japan would have to go nuclear, raising the prospect that those countries couldn’t count on the US nuclear umbrella and should be thinking about fending for themselves.

As soon as he took office, Trump decided to walk away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-country trade agreement that did not include China. The TPP was widely seen as a move by the United States to reassure its allies and friends of its enduring security commitment to the region and to bind together non-Chinese economies in order to balance Beijing’s growing political and economic clout in the region. Withdrawal from the TPP was interpreted by some of America’s Asian partners, including South Korea, as a sign that the US was abandoning the region to Chinese influence.

In the spring of 2017, Trump suggested—during South Korea’s snap elections after the impeachment of Park Geun-hye—that Seoul should pay for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile battery that was negotiated under Park’s rule. The cost of the system is about $1 billion and the United States was to cover 100 percent of the costs, in part, because South Korean politicians and voters were deeply ambivalent about it. In order to make it politically palatable in South Korea, it at least had to come at no cost to the Korean taxpayer.

In the past month, Trump has made statements on two fronts that continue to profoundly undermine the US-ROK alliance. The first was his August 8 off-the-cuff “fire and fury” remarks. The second was his more deliberate disdain for the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) that has been in effect for five years. Negotiations began during the Bush administration and the FTA was signed in 2012 during President Obama’s first term. Trump is now threatening to unilaterally pull out of the deal, and soon.

In the meantime, Kim Jong Un is marching along at his own pace in his quest for a credible nuclear deterrent against the United States, as last week’s missile and nuclear tests reemphasize. Pyongyang chooses more or less provocative ways of testing its nukes and missiles, but it has an end game and several overlapping goals in mind. That end game isn’t nuclear war, which would lead to the destruction of North Korea and the end of the Kim dynasty. But driving a wedge between the United States and its allies, especially South Korea, is among the likely aims (or at least hopes). For that to work, however, it would depend on some “cooperation” from politicians in Seoul or Washington.

Historically, multiple US and ROK presidencies made sure that no unmanageable cracks emerged in the alliance in the 11 years since North Korea tested its first nuclear weapon in 2006. Four other nuclear tests as well as numerous missile tests have challenged the various administrations to stay on the same page. The allies pretty much did, even when their perspectives and approaches on North Korea significantly differed.

But that unified voice is now wavering. President Trump’s apparent willingness to entertain the idea of war on the Korean peninsula unnerves South Koreans, especially if started by unilateral US actions. After Trump responded to news that North Korea had miniaturized a nuclear warhead with threats with “fire and fury,” Pyongyang announced it was considering a missile strike around Guam. Trump in turn reacted by stating that if Kim “does something in Guam, it will be an event the likes of which nobody’s seen before, what will happen in North Korea.”

Later, on August 16, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in felt compelled to tell his citizens that he had “ruled out war” and that “Mr. Trump has already promised to consult with South Korea and get our approval for whatever option they will take against North Korea.” Still, ordinary South Koreans are starting to wonder if the United States is too keen on escalating this crisis towards a conflict for which they will pay the heaviest price.

Furthermore, the Moon government (and Abe’s in Tokyo) can’t help but have noticed that Washington has become much more animated over Pyongyang’s rapidly improving ICBM threat to the United States than the longer term ballistic missile and nuclear threat it has posed to US allies for at least a decade. The alliance structure is supposed to guarantee that both countries are absolutely committed to the defense of each other. US credibility in that regard is extremely strained if it appears Washington is willing to risk a regional war to prevent a theoretical attack on US soil.

US credibility as an economic partner is also at risk. In April, Trump called the Korea-US FTA “unacceptable” and “horrible.” The effects of the FTA are debatable and gently calling for a renegotiation of some parts of it may even be warranted. However, it was revealed this weekend that Trump was considering completely pulling the plug on the FTA as early as this month.

This takes place not only as the North Korea crisis grows, but also while China’s informal sanctions on South Korea for its deployment of the THAAD system in March continue to bite. Many Koreans already feel as if they deployed THAAD at the behest of the United States and have suffered economically for it. If Trump tears up the FTA now, it will seem that the US is turning its back to Seoul economically in a time of need. People are already frustrated at being buffeted between the strategic concerns of the region’s great powers.

The South Koreans I talk to increasingly wonder: If the economic relationship is not advantageous and the strategic one imperils their country, what is the value of this alliance anymore? It is a not a huge leap from there to the question: “Why do we keep the US presence here at all?” It appears Donald Trump is gifting the wedge that Pyongyang has long hoped for all along.

Andray Abrahamian is a Visiting Scholar at the Jeju Peace Institute and the Center for Korean Studies, UC Berkeley.

Muslim protesters clash with armed SWAT officers in China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ANDY TAI’S GOOGLE PLUS ACCOUNT)

 

Andy Tai

Owner

7h

This has been floating in weibo for several days, but this seems to be the first coverage in Western media..

This particular development may cause anxiety for ethnic Han people who pay attention to development in China… The event took place in Tangshan, the city in Hebei, near Beijing, as well as near the provinces of NE China, not too far from North Korea. Tthis area, also south of Inner Mongolia, can be considered “heartland” of any Chinese regime centered in Beijing. This area has Han population as the absolute majority, possibly with minor Manchus, Mongolians and Koreans. But with little presence of Islam. Islamic areas in China are to the north west, the Huis in Ningxia or the Uigher even further away. So how does such an incident, where a Muslim demanded special treatment that should be unjustified, led to riots by Muslims against the local government buildings, where the Muslim population is few and far between? And how can such events took place under the dictatorship of the CCP, which took internal “threats” seriously, and suppressed Fa Lun Gong, which probably had larger followings in Han populations in the area?

Such events should led to more negative impressions of the Han towards Islam and made the spread of Islam wihin Han Chinese even more unlikely. But the clear demonstration of Islamic “power” in China proper would cause more Han fear and resistance towards demands for further Islamic presence, such as building more mosques in China proper.

Muslim protesters clash with armed SWAT officers in China

China is angry, but what can it do about North Korea?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWS AND FROM ANDY TAI’S GOOGLE PLUS ACCOUNT)

 

China is angry, but what can it do about North Korea?

Xi Jinping has few options to bring Kim Jong-un into line but he also has to contend with the unpredictable Donald Trump

South Korea holds live-fire drills and warns of more launches by North

Chinese President Xi Jinping has few easy choices when dealing with North Korea.
 Chinese President Xi Jinping has few easy choices when dealing with North Korea. Photograph: Tyrone Siu/AP

On Friday afternoon, the eve of North Korea’s most powerful ever nuclear test, China’s football-loving president received a gift from the world’s greatest ever player.

“Good luck,” read the handwritten message from Pelé on a canary yellow Brazil jersey handed to Xi Jinping by his South American counterpart, Michel Temer.

Xi needs it. Experts say Kim Jong-un’s latest provocation – which some believe was deliberately timed to upstage the start of the annual Brics summit in China – exposes not only the scale of the North Korean challenge now facing China’s president but also his dearth of options.

“The Chinese are pissed off, quite frankly,” says Steve Tsang, the head of the Soas China Institute.

“But there is nothing much they will actually do about it. Words? UN statements and all that? Yes. But what can the Chinese actually do?”

Zhao Tong, a North Korea expert from the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy in Beijing, believes there are a number of possible answers.

Sanctions or turning off the taps

The first is to further tighten sanctions on Kim’s regime by targeting its exports of textiles and clothing.

“After the last round of UN resolution sanctions, textile products and clothing is now the most important source of foreign income for North Korea,” says Zhao.

Xi could also deprive Kim of another key source of revenue by agreeing to limit or completely prohibit up to 100,000 North Korean labourers from working overseas, including in China.

A third and far more drastic option also exists: cutting off North Korea’s crude oil supply. “This nuclear test is one of the few things that might trigger a cut-off of oil supplies, but we are still very reluctant to do so,” one person close to Chinese foreign policymakers told the Financial Times after Sunday’s detonation.

Zhao doubts Xi will choose that risk-strewn path. He believes turning off the taps could prove an irreversible decision since the pipeline delivering oil to North Korea is old and would corrode and break if left unused. Crucially, though, it would cripple North Korea’s economy, almost certainly bring down Kim’s regime and create a massive refugee and security crisis just a few hundred miles from Beijing.

“That is one of the most radical measures China could ever take and it could have strategic implications if the regime’s stability is affected,” says Zhao. “It is not going to be immediate but over time it could have an impact on the regime’s survival.”

Cheng Xiaohe, a North Korea expert from Renmin University in Beijing, also admits tightened sanctions are the only feasible response: “China has been pushed into a corner and has few options left.”

Growing frustration

That said, some believe appetite is growing in China for a more robust response to Kim Jong-un’s continued provocations.

“This is an insane country, and he is an insane leader,” says Zhu Feng, an international security expert from Nanjing University. “We are now at a historic turning point and – from my point of view – China needs to strengthen coordination and cooperation with the international community, particularly with the US, Japan and South Korea.”

“I think the domestic discussions about cutting crude oil supply are increasing,” says Zhao, who thinks the mood in China – North Korea’s key ally and trading partner – may be starting to shift.

Zhao believes Xi’s ability to take tougher action against Kim partly hinges partly on how much he can strengthen his political position ahead of next month’s 19th Communist party congress, a once-every-five-years conference marking the end of his first term in power. Recent weeks have seen tantalising glimpses of the internal power struggle that is raging at the top of China’s Communist party, with the purging of one senior official tipped as Xi’s possible successor and a major reshuffle in the leadership of the armed forces.

“If things settle down very quickly … that will give Xi Jinping some leeway to take more radical measures against North Korea,” Zhao predicts. “But if domestic politics continues to play out until the 19th party congress, then I don’t think China has any room to take radical measures.”

Smart cookie and the wildcard

Tsang believes the apparent lack of effective options to halt Kim Jong-un’s nuclear ambitions underlines what a shrewd strategtist he is and how successfully he was toying with both China and the US: “He is a smart cookie – a very, very smart cookie.”

As long as China was not a direct target of North Korean aggression, Xi would view Kim as an irritant rather than a threat that needed to be immediately crushed: “At the moment nobody seriously sees the North Korean missiles and nuclear weapons as a threat to China … The most likely target would be the Japanese. Now how unhappy would Xi be with the prospect of … the Abe administration being blasted to pieces? Neither outcome would actually make Xi lose any sleep.”

But for both Kim and Xi, there is one wild-card and he goes by the name of Donald J Trump. Tsang says conventional military advice suggests the US president would not risk a military strike against North Korea for fear of sparking a devastating counter-attack against South Korea and a broader regional conflagration that would inevitably suck in China.

“You’re talking about 10,000 different pieces of [North Korean] artillery … which could lob shells into the vicinity of Seoul and cause huge damage,” said Tsang. “So Kim’s reasonable calculation is that there is not actually a lot that Trump can do about it and there is almost certainly nothing the Chinese will do about it in concrete terms.”

Trump, however, was no conventional president. “The problem is somebody like Trump does not behave necessarily in line with your normal Obama and Clintons of this world and therefore the risk of him ignoring professional military advice is not negligible,” says Tsang.

“It would be negligible under Obama and extremely unlikely under Clinton or, for that matter, probably even George W Bush. But we can’t say the same of Trump. That’s one thing about Mr Trump, isn’t it?”

Additional reporting by Wang Zhen

Trump says ‘appeasement’ will not work after North Korea nuke test

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PAKISTANI DAWN NEWSPAPER)

 

Japan government registers protest with N. Korean embassy in Bejing, calls test “extremely unforgivable”. — File
Japan government registers protest with N. Korean embassy in Bejing, calls test “extremely unforgivable”. — File

US President Donald Trump declared on Sunday that “appeasement with North Korea” will not work, after Pyongyang claimed it had successfully tested a missile-ready hydrogen bomb.

“North Korea has conducted a major Nuclear Test,” Trump said. “Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States.”

His comments came hours after the US Geological Survey picked up a 6.3 magnitude “explosion” in North Korea, which Pyongyang confirmed was a nuclear test, its sixth.

Earlier, Japan confirmed that North Korea conducted a nuclear test on Sunday, registering a formal protest with Pyongyang after a major explosion at the isolated nation’s main test site.

“The government confirms that North Korea conducted a nuclear test after examining information from the weather agency and other information,” Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono told reporters.

He said the government registered a protest with the North Korean embassy in Beijing prior to the confirmation, calling any test “extremely unforgivable”.

“Today’s nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is an extremely regrettable act,” International Atomic Energy Agency head Yukiya Amano said in a statement.

“This new test, which follows the two tests last year and is the sixth since 2006, is in complete disregard of the repeated demands of the international community.”

Trump last month threatened North Korea with “fire and fury” if it continued to threaten the United States, but he refrained from direct threats in his latest tweets.

“South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!” he said.

Earlier, South Korea’s military had expressed suspicion that North Korea had conducted its sixth nuclear test, after it detected a “strong earthquake.”

The strong tremor was felt hours after Pyongyang claimed that its leader has inspected a hydrogen bomb meant for a new intercontinental ballistic missile.

South Korea’s weather agency and the Joint Chief of Staff said an artificial 5.6 magnitude quake occurred at 12:29 pm local time, in Kilju, northern Hamgyong Province.

The US Geological Survey called the first quake an explosion with a magnitude 6.3.

Shortly after, Yonhap news agency said a second quake was detected with a magnitude 4.6 but South Korea’s weather agency denied another quake occurred.

There was no word from the military in Seoul about the possible second quake.

North Korea conducted its fifth test last year in September. In confirmed, the latest test would mark yet another big step forward in North Korean attempts to obtain a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching deep into the US mainland.

South Korea’s presidential office said it will hold a National Security Council meeting chaired by President Moon Jae-in.

Islamabad condemns Pyongyang’s actions

Pakistan on Sunday condemned the reported nuclear test by North Korea.

A statement issued by the Foreign Office said, “Pakistan has consistently maintained that DPRK should comply with the UN Security Council resolutions and asked all sides to refrain from provocative actions.

Pakistan urges all sides to display utmost restraint and return towards the path of peaceful negotiated settlement of the issue, it added.

North Korea conducted two nuclear tests last year and has since maintained a torrid pace in weapons tests, including flight-testing developmental intercontinental ballistic missiles and flying a powerful mid-range missile over Japan.

Photos released by the North Korean government on Sunday showed Kim talking with his lieutenants as he observed a silver, peanut-shaped device that was apparently the purported thermonuclear weapon destined for an ICBM.

What appeared to be the nose cone of a missile could also be seen near the alleged bomb in one picture, which could not be independently verified and which was taken without outside journalists present. Another photo showed a diagram on the wall behind Kim of a bomb mounted inside a cone.

Aside from the factuality of the North’s claim, the language in its statement seems a strong signal that Pyongyang will soon conduct its sixth nuclear weapon test, which is crucial if North Korean scientists are to fulfil the national goal of an arsenal of viable nuclear ICBMs that can reach the US mainland.

There’s speculation that such a test could come on or around the Sept. 9 anniversary of North Korea’s national founding, something it did last year.

As part of the North’s weapons work, Kim was said by his propaganda mavens to have made a visit to the Nuclear Weapons Institute and inspected a “homemade” H-bomb with “super explosive power” that “is adjustable from tens (of) kiloton to hundreds (of) kiloton.”

North Korea in July conducted its first ever ICBM tests, part of a stunning jump in progress for the country’s nuclear and missile program since Kim rose to power following his father’s death in late 2011.

The North followed its two tests of Hwasong-14 ICBMs, which, when perfected, could target large parts of the United States, by threatening to launch a salvo of its Hwasong-12 intermediate range missiles toward the US Pacific island territory of Guam in August.

It flew a Hwasong-12 over northern Japan last week, the first such overflight by a missile capable of carrying nukes, in a launch Kim described as a “meaningful prelude” to containing Guam, the home of major US military facilities, and more ballistic missile tests targeting the Pacific.

Vipin Narang, an MIT professor specialising in nuclear strategy, said it’s important to note that North Korea was only showing a mock-up of a two-stage thermonuclear device, or H-bomb.

“We won’t know what they have until they test it, and even then there may be a great deal of uncertainty depending on the yield and seismic signature and any isotopes we can detect after a test,” he said.

To back up its claims to nuclear mastery, such tests are vital. The first of its two atomic tests last year involved what Pyongyang claimed was a sophisticated hydrogen bomb; the second it said was its most powerful atomic detonation ever.

It is almost impossible to independently confirm North Korean statements about its highly secret weapons program. South Korean government officials said the estimated explosive yield of last year’s first test was much smaller than what even a failed hydrogen bomb detonation would produce.

There was speculation that North Korea might have detonated a boosted fission bomb, a weapon considered halfway between an atomic bomb and an H-bomb.

It is clear, however, that each new missile and nuclear test gives the North invaluable information that allows big jumps in capability.

A key question is how far North Korea has gotten in efforts to consistently shrink down nuclear warheads so they can fit on long-range missiles.

“Though we cannot verify the claim, (North Korea) wants us to believe that it can launch a thermonuclear strike now, if it is attacked. Importantly, (North Korea) will also want to test this warhead, probably at a larger yield, to demonstrate this capability,” said Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Centre for American Progress.

North Korea is thought to have a growing arsenal of nuclear bombs and has spent decades trying to perfect a multistage, long-range missile to eventually carry smaller versions of those bombs.

South Korea’s main spy agency has previously asserted that it does not think Pyongyang currently has the ability to develop miniaturised nuclear weapons that can be mounted on long-range ballistic missiles. Some experts, however, think the North may have mastered this technology.

The White House said that President Donald Trump spoke with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan regarding “ongoing efforts to maximize pressure on North Korea.”

The statement did not say whether the conversation came before or after the North’s latest claim.

A long line of US presidents has failed to check North Korea’s persistent pursuit of missiles and nuclear weapons. Six-nation negotiations on dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program in exchange for aid fell apart in early 2009.

The North said in its statement Sunday that its H-bomb “is a multi-functional thermonuclear nuke with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack according to strategic goals.”

Kim, according to the statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, claimed that “all components of the H-bomb were homemade … thus enabling the country to produce powerful nuclear weapons as many as it wants.”

In what could be read as a veiled warning of more nuclear tests, Kim underlined the need for scientists to “dynamically conduct the campaign for successfully concluding the final-stage research and development for perfecting the state nuclear force” and “set forth tasks to be fulfilled in the research into nukes.”

The two Koreas have shared the world’s most heavily fortified border since their war in the early 1950s ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

About 28,500 American troops are deployed in South Korea as deterrence against North Korea.

It Is Now Past Time For China To Kill Kim Jong Un Of North Korea

 

This morning Kim Jong Un, the idiot who controls North Korea with an iron fist set off a nuclear bomb. China says that they do not want there to be nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula yet they have helped create this lunatic in North Korea. I say this because there is plenty of picture evidence that shows that the missile launchers North Korea uses are Chinese. The very rapid development of their missile and Nuke programs makes it obvious that North Korea is getting ‘State’ help from someone. There are only two choices as to which States, China or Russia. There is also plenty of solid proof that North Korea is helping Iran with their missile and Nuke programs. All of the signs point to China being behind North Korea and China’s President Xi Jinping has stated this past week that China will not tolerate a Regime change in North Korea under any circumstance.

 

China’s President Xi Jinping has proven himself to be almost as flagrant of a liar as President Trump, the difference between those two men is that Xi Jinping is very intelligent and Donald Trump if a complete idiot. China’s government would love nothing more than for the United States military to totally exit the Asian realm so that they can more easily totally dominate every country in Asia. I do not believe that China and I mean by that, Xi Jinping will order a ‘hit’ on Kim Jong Un even though that would be the best solution to this crises. One mans blood being spilled is far better than the blood of thousands or even millions being spilled.

 

Being China is actually helping Kim Jong Un with his Nuclear and military programs the world can not wait on China to do anything to this crazy fool. While the world waits on the UN to produce results with their talks and sanctions North Korea is perfecting their Missile and Nuclear technologies with the help of Beijing. China continues to warn the U.S. and our allies in that region of the world that if North Korea is attacked preemptively that China will militarily join North Korea. So, to me that sounds a lot like the U.S., South Korea or Japan should just sit back and wait to be hit with Nuclear bombs first before they respond. I am not saying that the U.S. should Nuke anyone first but what I am saying is that if Xi Jinping will not kill Kim Jong Un then the U.S. needs to make it very clear to Kim Jong Un that if he tests even one more missile, Nuke of otherwise that the U.S. and our Allies will hunt him down and kill him, no if and or buts about it, he will die.

North Korea Sets Off Nuclear Bomb

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Trump says appeasement ‘will not work’ after N.K. nuclear test

(CNN)President Donald Trump condemned North Korea’s claimed test of a hydrogen bomb in a series of tweets Sunday morning, calling Pyongyang’s words and actions “hostile and dangerous” and saying “talk of appeasement will not work.”

“North Korea has conducted a major Nuclear Test. Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States,” Trump wrote, adding that Pyongyang “has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success.”
“South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!” the President wrote.
Trump will meet with his national security team Sunday to discuss the situation, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Sunday morning.
“The National security team is monitoring this closely,” Sanders said. “The President and his national security team will have a meeting to discuss further later today. We will provide updates as necessary.”
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This is North Korea’s sixth-ever test of a nuclear weapon and the first since Trump took office.
The test was a “perfect success” and the final step in attaining a “state nuclear force,” North Korean news anchor Ri Chun Hee said in a televised announcement Sunday.
The news report claimed the weapon was designed to fit atop an intercontinental ballistic missile. The nuclear test follows two successful tests of the long-range missile in July and a shorter-range one in late August.
In a high-level national security meeting, South Korean President Moon Jae-in called the move a “an absurd strategic mistake” that will lead to the international community further isolating Pyongyang.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a statement released by his office Sunday that North Korea’s nuclear and missile development “has entered a new level of threat — more grave and imminent — against Japan’s national security and seriously undermines the peace and security of the region as well as the international community.”
The statement adds “given the fact that North Korea has belligerently conducted ballistic missile launches repeatedly this year, the UN Security Council has strongly condemned these actions. Under such circumstances, this nuclear test, which North Korea conducted today despite these calls, is totally unacceptable.”
China, North Korea’s only real ally and patron, said its neighbor “disregarded universal opposition of the international community” by conducting the test.”
“We strongly urge North Korea side to face up to the firm will of the international community on the denuclearization of the peninsula, abide by relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council, stop taking wrong actions that exacerbate the situation and are not in its own interest, and return to the track of resolving the issue through dialogue,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that he would like a “measured” response from the Oval Office.
“Obviously, you’d like a leader that is measured and sober and consistent,” Flake said, adding, “We’ve got a good team around the President.”
Flake echoed the administration’s previous statements on the North Korean nuclear threat, saying all options needed to be on the table — including military ones — and said there is no clear path forward to resolving Pyongyang’s continued nuclear development.
“It becomes cliche to say there are no good options here, but there really aren’t,” Flake said.
Experts say it is nearly impossible to verify with certainty Pyongyang’s claim that it detonated a hydrogen bomb, which is also known as a thermonuclear weapon, or whether it can actually be used successfully on a missile. Thermonuclear weapons typically use a fission explosion to create a fusion reaction, which is far more powerful than a fission reaction.
NORSAR, an independent seismic monitor, estimated the blast created a yield of about 120 kilotons. The tremors caused by North Korea’s Sunday test were at least 10 times more powerful than the fifth test, Japanese officials said. An official at the Korea Meteorological Administration estimated the blast was about 50 kilotons.
The test came just hours after North Korea released images of leader Kim Jong Un inspecting what it said was a hydrogen bomb ready to be put on top of an intercontinental ballistic missile, the type of weapon the country would need to use to deliver a nuclear warhead to far-away locations.
Sunday’s test comes almost one year after Pyongyang’s fifth nuclear test last September, which triggered a 5.3-magnitude seismological event. That took place on September 9, the country’s Foundation Day holiday. North Korea claimed it set off a thermonuclear weapon during that test, but experts said the data showed it was more likely a boosted fission weapon.

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