Category Archives: East Asia – China

COVID-19: Political pressure blocking vaccine deal – Taiwan Gov’t.

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Taiwan has survived the pandemic largely unscathed — with fewer than 940 confirmed cases and nine deaths so far — by closing its borders early, imposing strict quarantine measures and rolling out effective tracing.

An attempt by Taiwan to secure five million doses of coronavirus vaccine failed at the last minute because of “political pressure”, Taipei’s health minister said Wednesday, raising fears China could be creating roadblocks for the inoculation drive.

Health minister Chen Shih-chung revealed during a radio interview that a crucial deal to acquire the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine had failed “at the final step” of negotiations with BioNTech.

“I was worried about interference from external forces all along and there were many possibilities. I was worried about political pressure. We believed there was political pressure,” he said.

“The deal fell through… because someone doesn’t want Taiwan to be too happy.”

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German firm BioNTech has struck a deal with the Shanghai-based Fosun Pharmaceutical Group to bring the vaccine to China.

When asked if Beijing might be blocking the deal, Chen replied “this could be a possibility but we can’t confirm it. We are still communicating with” the company.

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“It’s very rare to stop the process before swapping the contracts,” Chen said, adding BioNTech called off the December deal citing “different internal opinions” and “international vaccine distributions”.

Fosun and BioNTech did not return requests for comment.

The pandemic has highlighted the diplomatic and economic isolation China forces on Taiwan’s 23 million citizens.

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Beijing sees self-ruled democratic Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

It has dramatically stepped up its pressure campaign since President Tsai Ing-wen was elected in 2016, poaching seven of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies and blocking Taipei from global bodies including the World Health Organization (WHO).

Taiwan has survived the pandemic largely unscathed — with fewer than 940 confirmed cases and nine deaths so far — by closing its borders early, imposing strict quarantine measures and rolling out effective tracing.

But it has struggled to locate adequate vaccine supplies and only recently announced a supply of five million doses by American pharmaceutical giant Moderna and 200,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine via COVAX.

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An analyst said Beijing has previously used the pandemic to pressure Taiwan.

“China’s continued weaponisation and politicisation of people’s health — which should be apolitical — should not come as a surprise, especially given everything that has been going on with the WHO,” tweeted Jessica Drun, a Taiwan-China expert at the Project 2049 think-tank.

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#Newsworthy

China bans BBC World News.

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China is accused of compelling Uighurs to parrot Communist propaganda and renounce Islam, of forcibly sterilising women and imposing a regime of forced labour.

China’s broadcasting regulator has banned BBC World News, accusing it of flouting guidelines over a hard-hitting report on Beijing’s treatment of the country’s Uighur minority.

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The decision came just days after Britain’s own regulator revoked the licence of Chinese broadcaster CGTN for breaking UK law on state-backed ownership, and provoked angry accusations of censorship from London.

Thursday’s move will do little to improve relations between the two countries, which have been increasingly strained by China’s introduction of a security law in Britain’s former colony, Hong Kong.

London’s decision to offer millions of Hong Kongers a pathway to British citizenship has only further infuriated Beijing, which has accused Britain of behaving with a “colonial mentality”.

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London has also angered Beijing by banning Chinese telecoms group Huawei from involvement in its 5G network after the United States raised spying fears.

In an overnight statement, Beijing’s National Radio and Television Administration said BBC World News reports about China were found to “seriously violate” broadcast guidelines.

That includes “the requirement that news should be truthful and fair” and not “harm China’s national interests”.

The administrator “does not permit the BBC to continue broadcasting in China, and does not accept its new annual application for broadcast”, it added.

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‘Informed citizenry’
The BBC said it was “disappointed” with the move, which applies to mainland China, where the channel is already censored and restricted to international hotels.

“The BBC is the world’s most trusted international news broadcaster and reports on stories from around the world fairly, impartially and without fear or favour,” a BBC spokeswoman said.

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UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called the ban “an unacceptable curtailing of media freedom”.

“China has some of the most severe restrictions on media and internet freedoms across the globe, and this latest step will only damage China’s reputation in the eyes of the world,” he added.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price denounced the BBC ban and called on China to allow an “informed citizenry” that can freely exchange ideas.

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“We call on the PRC and other nations with authoritarian controls over their population to allow their full access to the internet and media,” Price told reporters, referring to the People’s Republic of China.

On Friday, public broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) — an independent but government-funded service based in the former British territory — also announced it would “suspend the relay of BBC World Service and BBC News Weekly”.

British lawmaker Tom Tugendhat, a hawk on UK-China ties, criticised Beijing’s move as “both regrettable and entirely unsurprising”.

“While this is a largely symbolic tit-for-tat retaliatory move, the deteriorating environment for journalism in China is a concern for us all,” he told AFP.

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Witness testimony
Besides its reporting on Xinjiang, the BBC has also aired a hard-hitting documentary accusing China of covering up the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic around the city of Wuhan in late 2019.

It published its report detailing harrowing accounts of torture and sexual violence against Uighur women in Chinese camps in Xinjiang on February 3.

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The lengthy investigation based on witness testimonies reported claims of systematic rape, sexual abuse and torture of female detainees by police and guards in the western region.

The area is home to the mainly Muslim Uighur minority and has seen a sweeping security crackdown by Chinese forces in recent years.

Rights groups believe at least one million Uighurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims are incarcerated in camps in Xinjiang.

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The Chinese foreign ministry has dismissed the BBC investigation as “false”.

Britain’s government said it showed “clearly evil acts”, and there was strong condemnation from the US State Department.

But London has resisted pressure to follow the current and former US administrations and call the treatment of the Uighurs “genocide”.

China is accused of compelling Uighurs to parrot Communist propaganda and renounce Islam, of forcibly sterilising women and imposing a regime of forced labour.

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After initially denying the camps existed, China’s government acknowledged them, saying they were vocational training centres aimed at combating Islamic extremism.

China last week said British regulator Ofcom’s decision to pull CGTN from the airwaves was based on “ideological prejudice and political reasons”.

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#Newsworthy

China’s population on ‘edge of reduction’ as births fall further.

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The data also comes after the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc in the global economy, with many families nervous about job security.

China’s number of registered births in 2020 dropped by nearly a third from the total births reported the year before, in the latest sign that relaxations in the country’s strict family planning policy are failing to spark a baby boom.

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After decades of a “one-child policy”, Beijing changed the rules in 2016 to allow families to have two children as fears grew about China’s fast-ageing population and shrinking workforce.

Figures from the Public Security Ministry released Monday showed there were 10.04 million registered births in 2020, which is 15 percent down from the figure of registered births reported early last year for 2019.

In the same month, the official statistics bureau reported a higher figure of 14.65 million babies born in 2019 — more than 30 percent above the latest birth data reported this week.

The data also points to a fourth consecutive year birth numbers declined.

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The number of registered births is typically lower than the actual number of births later announced in China, as not all parents register their children immediately.

The gender balance was 52.7 percent boys and 47.3 percent girls, according to the data.

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One user on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform noted the birth figure was “lower than the number of people taking the college entrance examination”, adding that ageing was going to become more serious in decades to come.

Another called the low rate “the biggest crisis the Chinese nation is facing”.

China introduced the one-child policy in the late 1970s in a dramatic effort to slow rapid population growth, before reversing it in 2016.

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But the change has not yet resulted in a baby boom, with empowered Chinese women often delaying or avoiding childbirth and young couples blaming rising costs and insufficient policy support for families.

“If the whole society regards childbearing as a pain, then there is a problem in this society,” cautioned another on Weibo.

The data also comes after the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc in the global economy, with many families nervous about job security.

In November, China started a once-a-decade census, with much of the attention on whether it indicates any population bump from the relaxation of family planning rules.

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Demographic experts have estimated it could take 15 years for the two-child policy to have any noticeable effect on population numbers. Chinese retirees, meanwhile, are expected to number 300 million by 2025.

Chinese state media in December quoted civil affairs minister Li Jiheng as saying the country’s fertility rate has “dropped dangerously”, well below the population replacement rate of 2.1 births per woman.

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#Newsworthy

Court denies top Media personnel, Jimmy Lai bail.

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But the national security legislation was penned directly by Beijing and looks set to trump any other legislation in the event of a dispute.

Hong Kong’s top court on Tuesday ordered pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai to stay behind bars as it sided with prosecutors in the first legal test of Beijing’s sweeping new national security law.

The landmark case cements the dramatic changes the security law has begun making to semi-autonomous Hong Kong’s common law traditions as Beijing seeks to snuff out dissent in the restless financial hub.

Lai, the 73-year-old owner of pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily, is one of some 100 activists arrested under the law since it was enacted in June, and the highest-profile figure to be placed in pre-trial custody.

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He has been charged with “colluding with foreign forces” — one of the new security crimes — for allegedly calling for sanctions against Hong Kong and China.

The security law is the most pronounced shift in Hong Kong’s relationship with China since it was handed back by Britain in 1997.

It criminalised a host of political views and toppled the legal firewall between the two territories.

Written in Beijing and imposed by fiat, it allows mainland security agents to operate openly in the city for the first time, and even grants China jurisdiction in some cases.

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Tuesday’s ruling by the Court of Final Appeal centred around bail.

Presumption of bail for non-violent crimes is a hallmark of Hong Kong’s legal system.

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But the national security law removes that presumption and says judges have to be sure a defendant “will not continue to commit acts endangering national security”.

Media tycoon Jimmy Lai (R) is escorted into a Hong Kong Correctional Services van outside the Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong on February 1, 2021, after being ordered to remain in jail while judges consider his fresh bail application, the first major legal challenge to a sweeping national security law Beijing imposed on the city last year. (Photo by STR / AFP)

Lai was detained in December and released on bail for about a week after a lower court granted him HK$10 million (US$1.3 million) bail together with a stringent list of requirements, including house arrest, no interviews and no social media posts.

But he was put back behind bars after the prosecution sought to challenge those bail conditions.

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‘Stringent threshold’
On Tuesday, a panel of five senior judges ruled in favour of the prosecution and said that the lower court judge had erred in granting Lai bail.

The security law, the judges wrote, “creates such a specific exception to the general rule in favour of the grant of bail and imports a stringent threshold requirement for bail applications”.

The judges said Lai could make a fresh bail application in the lower courts which would have to take into account their directions.

Legal analysts were closely watching the case for an indication of whether Hong Kong’s judiciary will serve — or even can serve — as any kind of constitutional brake against Beijing’s security law.

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The judiciary can only interpret laws, which are usually passed by Hong Kong’s semi-elected legislature.

During challenges to new legislation, judges balance the wording of the law against common law traditions and core liberties that are enshrined in Hong Kong’s mini-constitution and its Bill of Rights.

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But the national security legislation was penned directly by Beijing and looks set to trump any other legislation in the event of a dispute.

Bail is not the only area where legal precedents are changing under the security law.

On Monday, AFP revealed authorities have opted not to use a jury for the first national security trial, according to a legal source with direct knowledge, citing security concerns for jury members.

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Asked about that decision on Tuesday, Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam replied: “I will not comment on individual cases which are now under the judicial process.”

Challenging the security law in court may be tricky.

In Hong Kong’s complex constitutional hierarchy, the ultimate arbiter of the laws is Beijing’s Standing Committee, which has shown an increased willingness in recent years to wade into legal arguments and make pronouncements.

China’s state media have already declared Lai guilty and made clear authorities expect Hong Kong’s judges to side with Beijing on national security.

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In a tweet, China’s state-run Global Times hailed Tuesday’s Lai ruling, describing him as a “major secessionist”.

Senior Chinese officials have recently backed calls to “reform” Hong Kong’s judiciary, something opponents fear signals support for a more mainland-style legal system that answers to the Communist Party and where convictions are all but guaranteed.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: China approves second domestic vaccine.

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China has been racing to develop homegrown jabs and aims to vaccinate 50 million people before the start of the Lunar New Year in mid-February.

China’s drug authorities have given “conditional” approval for a second Covid-19 vaccine, Sinovac’s CoronaVac jab, the pharmaceutical company said Saturday.

The vaccine has already been rolled out to key groups at higher risk of exposure to coronavirus but Saturday’s approval allows for its use on the general public.

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A conditional approval helps hustle emergency drugs to market in cases when clinical trials are yet to meet normal standards but indicate therapies will work.

The approval comes after multiple domestic and overseas trials of the vaccine in countries including Brazil and Turkey, although “efficacy and safety results need to be further confirmed”, Sinovac said in a statement.

Fellow Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm received a similar conditional green light in December to put its vaccine on the market.

Sinovac said trials in Brazil had shown around 50 percent efficacy in preventing infection and 80 percent efficacy in preventing cases requiring medical intervention.

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“The results show that the vaccine has good safety and immunogenic effect on people of all age groups,” Sinovac said Saturday.

Meanwhile, Sinopharm said in December that its vaccine had a 79.34 percent efficacy rate, lower than rival jabs developed in the West by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — with 95 and 94 percent rates respectively.

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China has been racing to develop homegrown jabs and aims to vaccinate 50 million people before the start of the Lunar New Year in mid-February.

The holiday normally spurs a travel rush with hundreds of millions traversing the country — though authorities are encouraging people to stay home this year through a mixture of restrictions and incentives.

As China ramps up its vaccine campaign, authorities have repeatedly assured the public of the jab’s safety and efficacy, despite not releasing any detailed clinical trial data.

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At the same time, Beijing has been promoting its vaccines abroad in what analysts have called “vaccine diplomacy” to earn goodwill after facing criticism for its early handling of the outbreak.

China’s foreign ministry on Wednesday said it planned to provide 10 million vaccine doses to the WHO-backed international vaccine distribution programme Covax.

Beijing has also pledged to share the vaccine at a fair cost — a potential boost for poorer Asian countries who are otherwise reliant on limited distribution offered by the Covax scheme.

Countries including Senegal, Indonesia, and Hungary have procured millions of vaccine doses from Chinese pharmaceutical firms.

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But take-up has been slower abroad for Chinese vaccines compared to jabs from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, as little information has been published about the safety or efficacy of Chinese vaccines.

Chinese vaccine makers also have chequered reputations, after major scandals at home involving expired or poor quality products.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: China pledges vaccines to 13 developing Countries

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38 more developing countries in need of the vaccines would receive China’s vaccine aid at a later stage.

China will continue to provide COVID-19 vaccines to other countries, especially the developing ones, in a timely manner within its capacity and contribute to the building of a community of health for all, official said.

The Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, disclosed this on Monday at a daily news briefing in Beijing.

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Wang said China had donated COVID-19 vaccines to Pakistan on Monday, saying that the first shipment of China’s vaccine aid to other countries.

Reiterating China’s commitment to making its COVID-19 vaccines a global public good once developed and put into use, Wang said China will contribute to achieving the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing countries.

“We act on our words.’’

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Besides Pakistan, China is also providing vaccine aid to 13 developing countries, including Brunei, Nepal, the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Palestine, Belarus, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea.

He said that 38 more developing countries in need of the vaccines would receive China’s vaccine aid at a later stage.

“We are also participating actively in the WHO-led COVAX initiative to provide vaccines to developing countries,” the spokesperson added.

China has supported its companies in conducting joint research and production of vaccines with foreign partners and already exported Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines to countries including the UAE, Morocco, Indonesia, Turkey, Brazil, and Chile, Wang noted.

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Besides, China also supported relevant companies in exporting vaccines to countries that were in urgent need, recognised Chinese vaccines, and authorised the emergency use of Chinese vaccines in their countries, Wang said.

He added that China expected the international community to make joint efforts in promoting the equitable distribution and use of vaccines and ensure the availability and affordability of vaccines in developing countries.

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#Newsworthy

China to seize recognition of UK-issued BN(O) passports for Hong Kongers

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On Thursday Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam played down the threat of a mass exodus.

China on Friday said it will “no longer recognise” the British National (Overseas) passport for Hong Kongers, as Britain prepares to offer millions of former colonial subjects a way to escape Beijing’s crackdown on dissent.

From Sunday, those with a BN(O) passport and their dependents will be able to apply online for a visa allowing them to live and work in the United Kingdom.

After five years they can then apply for citizenship.

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The new immigration scheme is a response to Beijing’s decision to impose a sweeping national security law on the city last year to snuff out huge and often violent democracy protests.

Britain accused China of tearing up its promise ahead of Hong Kong’s 1997 handover that the financial hub would maintain key liberties and autonomy for 50 years. It argues it has a moral duty to protect its former subjects.

But on Friday Beijing hit back ahead of the upcoming change.

“From January 31, China will no longer recognise the so-called BN(O) passport as a travel document and ID document, and reserves the right to take further actions,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.

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It is unclear what China’s declaration means in practical terms.

But it sets the stage for further confrontation with London, and the threat of further action suggests Beijing may be preparing more restrictions for BN(O) holders down the line.

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‘Strong message’
Hong Kong’s government late Friday said the change meant the BN(O) passport now “cannot be used for immigration clearance and will not be recognised as any form of proof of identity in Hong Kong”.

However, few people use BN(O) passports in such a way.

Hong Kongers use their own Hong Kong passport or ID card to leave the city.

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To enter mainland China, they need to use their “home return” travel permit.

The only time they might use a BN(O) passport is on arrival into Britain or another country that recognises the document.

Willie Lam, an expert at Hong Kong’s Centre for China Studies, said the move was largely symbolic.

“It’s a strong message sent to the UK and other countries not to interfere in Hong Kong affairs, but in practical terms, I don’t think people would be intimidated into not applying,” he told AFP.

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“There seems to be no way that the Hong Kong or Beijing authorities can find out who might or might not apply for the BN(O) passport because the British consulate would not reveal their identity,” he added.

Offer open to millions
How many Hong Kongers will take up the offer remains to be seen, especially as the coronavirus pandemic restricts global flights and mires much of the world, including Britain, in a painful economic malaise.

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But a BN(O) passport is available to a huge number of people — about 70 percent of Hong Kong’s total population of 7.5 million.

Applications for BN(O) passports have skyrocketed more than 300 percent since the national security law was imposed last July, with 733,000 registered holders as of mid-January.

Britain predicts up to 154,000 Hong Kongers could arrive over the next year and as many as 322,000 over five years, bringing an estimated “net benefit” of up to £2.9 billion ($4 billion) with them.

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“I just don’t see how 2.9 million Hong Kong people would love to go to the United Kingdom,” she told Bloomberg, using the figure for the number of people eligible for BN(O) status that does not include their dependents.

“The important thing is for us to tell the people of Hong Kong that Hong Kong’s future is bright,” she added.

The BN(O) passport was a compromise with authoritarian China ahead of Hong Kong’s handover.

Many Hong Kongers wanted British citizenship, something Beijing balked at.

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So Britain instead allowed anyone born before 1997 to stay in Britain for six months at a time, but with no working or settling rights.

Now it has become one of the few ways out for Hong Kongers hoping to start a new life overseas, as authorities conduct mass arrests against democracy supporters and move to purge the restless city of dissenting views.

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#Newsworthy

Bigamy scandal: China executes former banker in bribes case.

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Rights group Amnesty International estimates the country is the top executioner globally, with thousands executed and sentenced to death each year.

China on Friday executed a former top banker accused of taking $260 million worth of bribes, other forms of corruption and bigamy, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

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Lai Xiaomin, the former chairman of Huarong — one of China’s largest state-controlled asset management firms — was put to death by a court in the northern city of Tianjin, CCTV said.

“The amount of bribes received by Lai Xiaomin was extremely large, the crime’s circumstances were particularly serious and the social impact was particularly severe,” CCTV quoted the Chinese Supreme People’s Court as saying, which reviewed and approved the execution order.

The report did not specify how Lai was executed but said he was allowed to meet with close relatives before his death.

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Chinese courts have a conviction rate of over 99 percent, and it is extremely rare for a death sentence to be overturned. The number of executions carried out annually is considered a state secret.

Lai was convicted and sentenced earlier this month. The Tianjin court ruled that he had shown “extreme malicious intent” and abused his position to obtain the vast sum.

He was also found guilty of bigamy after living with a woman “as man and wife for long periods” outside of his marriage and fathering illegitimate children.

Lai was alleged to have used his position to embezzle more than 25 million yuan ($3.8 million) in public funds between 2009 and 2018.

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His downfall began in April 2018 as investigators removed him from his job and stripped him of his Communist Party position.

Several high-profile party officials and entrepreneurs have spectacularly fallen from grace in recent years as part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption purge.

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#Newsworthy

China President, Xi warns against ‘new cold war’

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Under Trump, tensions simmered between the US and China, the world’s top two economies, on issues ranging from trade and technology to Hong Kong, Xinjiang and the coronavirus.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned global leaders against starting a “new Cold War” and urged unity in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

“To build small cliques or start a new Cold War, to reject, threaten or intimidate others … will only push the world into division,” said Xi at an all-virtual Davos forum on Monday.

The words appeared to be aimed at US President Joe Biden’s plans to revitalise global alliances to counter China’s growing influence. Biden, busy handling several urgent domestic crises, did not participate at Davos and tasked US climate envoy John Kerry with representing Washington.

In a swipe at moves targeting China launched by the previous US administration under Donald Trump, Xi said confrontation “will always end up harming every nation’s interests and sacrificing people’s welfare”.

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Xi, making his first appearance at the forum since his vigorous defence of free trade and globalisation in an address in Davos in 2017, advocated multilateralism as the way out of current challenges in a roughly 25-minute speech.

“We should build an open world economy … discard discriminatory and exclusionary standards, rules and systems, and take down barriers to trade, investment and technological exchanges,” he said.

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The G20 – an international forum grouping 19 of the biggest developed and emerging economies, plus the European Union – should be strengthened as the “main forum for global economic governance” and the world should “engage in closer macroeconomic policy coordination”, Xi added.

The international community should be governed in accordance with rules and consensus reached by all countries, instead of by one or several issuing orders, he said, without naming the countries.

The Chinese leader also reaffirmed Beijing’s ambitious climate pledges to slash carbon emissions by 65 per cent by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 – both significant commitments as China emits a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gases.

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“Meeting these targets will require tremendous hard work from China. But we believe that when the interests of the entire humanity are at stake, China must step forward, take action and get the job done,” he said.

Economic growth
China saw its GDP increase 2.3 percent last year, according to official data – the lowest growth rate since 1976 – but it is nonetheless expected to be the only major economy to have expanded in the pandemic-ravaged year.

Its economy is forecast to grow by 7.9 per cent in 2021, according to the International Monetary Fund – trimmed down from initial predictions by a harsh geopolitical climate, global economic downturn and risks from a messy technological decoupling from the US.

It also overtook the US as the world’s biggest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2020, according to a UN report released on Sunday.

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However, despite having controlled the pandemic within its border, and kickstarting the economy, the Chinese government has been accused of mishandling the initial coronavirus outbreak and covering up information.

A World Health Organization expert team is currently conducting a long-delayed probe into the origins of the virus, which was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.

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#Newsworthy

“Hodgepodge of lies” – China slams United States

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The world’s two biggest economies have traded blows over the coronavirus pandemic, trade and technology competition, espionage, human rights and media freedoms under US President Donald Trump’s tenure.

Beijing on Friday lashed out at a claim by the US intelligence chief that China is the “greatest threat to democracy and freedom worldwide”, calling it a “hodgepodge of lies”.

The war of words comes as relations between the two superpowers have spiralled to their lowest point in decades and as Washington unveiled travel restrictions for members of the Chinese Communist Party.

US Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece on Thursday that Chinese spies were using economic pressure to influence or undermine US legislators.

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“The People’s Republic of China poses the greatest threat to America today, and the greatest threat to democracy and freedom worldwide since World War II,” he wrote.

Beijing hit back angrily on Friday.

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“[Ratcliffe] only continues to repeat lies and rumours to slander and discredit China, and wantonly play up the Chinese threat,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

“I think this is yet another hodgepodge of lies that the US government has been cooking up lately.”

Hua also accused the US of being “engaged in a Cold War mindset, advocating major power competition, and wantonly expanding its nuclear weapons arsenal”.

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The US has repeatedly stressed that China is a grave threat to national security and Western democratic values, while China has accused the US of seeking to contain its rise through unlawful means.

Under the new US travel rules, visas issued to party members and their immediate family will remain valid for just one month, and for a single entry.

Previously some visas were issued that permitted unlimited entries and could remain valid for as long as 10 years.

The United States shut down the Chinese consulate in Houston in July, calling it a centre of espionage and harassment of Chinese nationals in the US.

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In retaliation, Beijing ordered the US to vacate its consulate in Chengdu.

Hua on Friday called for the United States to “stop damaging US-China relations and US-China mutual trust and cooperation”.

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#Newsworthy

Just in: 53 jailed amid deadly explosion in China

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The explosion, sparked by a fire in Tianjiayi’s fertiliser factory, flattened the surrounding industrial park, blew out windows and dented metal garage doors of buildings as far as four kilometres (2.5 miles) from the site.

A Chinese court jailed 53 people on Monday after convicting them on charges including bribery and negligence over a massive chemical factory explosion in eastern China last year that killed 78 people.

The blast in Jiangsu province in March 2019 was one of the worst industrial accidents in the country in recent years and led to the closure of the plant.

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Executives and employees of Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical company received sentences ranging from 18 months to twenty years in prison, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

A handful of local officials also received jail terms.

The court in Jiangsu’s Yancheng city found that the company knowingly produced and stored hazardous chemicals and waste material despite “storage venues that did not meet safety requirements”.

It also found that six local government agencies — including the city’s environmental protection authorities — had falsified documents in order to hide the risk posed by Tianjiayi’s activities, with some officials accepting bribes.

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Deadly industrial accidents are common in China, where safety regulations are often poorly enforced.

In 2015, massive chemical blasts in the northern port city of Tianjin killed at least 165 people.

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#Newsworthy…

China debt to be added to key global bonds index.

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Chinese government debt is set to be included on a key global bonds index, which could see tens of billions of dollars of foreign investment in the country’s increasingly internationalised financial markets.

The move by FTSE Russell comes as trading in China becomes an increasingly controversial move in Washington as relations between the superpowers grow increasingly fraught.

But analysts said the attraction of higher yields — the yield on 10-year Chinese government bonds is 2.4 percentage points higher than US Treasuries — and a relatively stable currency have made the country an attractive prospect for investors.

Inclusion in the World Government Bond index, which could begin next October if approved, means CGBs will be a must-have asset for investment giants such as pension funds desperate for good returns as the global bond market is battered by the virus pandemic.

Pan Gongsheng, deputy governor at the central People’s Bank of China said international investments in the Chinese market had grown more than 40 percent over the past three years, with 2.8 trillion yuan ($410 billion) of Chinese bonds currently held by international investors.

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Goldman Sachs said inclusion could see up to $140 billion floods into the debt market.

AxiCorp strategist Stephen Innes said the move was “big news” which would open up China’s bond market to “a broader band of passive investors”.

This photo taken on September 24, 2020 shows workers setting up national flags along a street ahead of the upcoming National Day in Ningbo in China’s eastern Zhejiang province. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT

FTSE Russell, which is owned by the London Stock Exchange, decided against including Chinese debt in the index last year owing to several worries such as liquidity and the settlement of transactions, but it said the concerns had been addressed.

In the statement its CEO Waqas Samad said authorities had “worked hard to enhance the infrastructure of their government bond market”.

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Jason Pang of JP Morgan Asset Management said that while foreign ownership of CGBs had risen to around nine percent from two percent in recent years, it is still well below the 15-30 percent seen in other Asian markets.

But he added: “It is increasingly clear that China bonds’ globalisation is simply a matter of time, further accelerated by increasingly accessible hedging options that enable investors to manage risk.

“Over the past 20 years, China’s bond market has grown more than sixtyfold to nearly $14 trillion.”

The Chinese economy has largely bounced back after a virus-induced sharp economic shock seen earlier in the year, with most people back to work after the government brought the disease largely under control through lockdowns and mass testing.


#Newsworthy…

Breaking: Thousands infected with ‘Brucellosis’ after China lab leaks.

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Thousands of people in northwest China have tested positive for a bacterial disease after a leak from a state-owned biopharmaceutical plant making animal vaccines last year.

Health officials in Lanzhou city said 3,245 people had contracted brucellosis, a disease often caused by close contact with infected animals or animal products that can bring about fevers, joint pain and headaches.

Another 1,401 people tested as an early positive for the disease, and health authorities said there was no evidence of person-to-person transmission so far.

Chinese authorities found a biopharmaceutical plant had used expired disinfectant in its production of Brucella vaccines for animals between July and August last year — meaning the bacteria was not eradicated in its factory exhaust.

Contaminated gas from the China Animal Husbandry Lanzhou Biopharmaceutical Factory in Lanzhou formed aerosols containing the bacteria, and this was then carried by wind to the Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute, infecting nearly 200 people there as of December last year.

More than 20 students and faculty members of Lanzhou University, some of whom had been to the institute, subsequently tested positive as well, according to Xinhua news agency.

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Lanzhou’s health commission said Friday that sheep, cattle and pigs were most commonly involved in the spread of the bacteria.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, person-to-person transmission of brucellosis is “extremely rare” but some symptoms may reoccur or never go away.

These include recurrent fevers, chronic fatigue, swelling of the heart or arthritis.

The factory — which apologised earlier this year — has had its brucellosis vaccine production licence revoked, Lanzhou authorities said.

Compensation for patients would start in batches from October, according to local authorities.


#Newsworthy…

Dozens arrested in Hong Kong’s protest. [China]

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Hundreds take to the streets to demonstrate against the postponement of legislative election and the new security law.

More than 30 people have been arrested by Hong Kong police as riot officers swoop in on pro-democracy protesters – opposed to the postponement of the local legislative election – with rounds of pepper balls.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets on Sunday in the Asian financial hub to demonstrate against a new national security law imposed by China and the postponement of the legislative poll.

Sunday was meant to be voting day for the city’s partially elected legislature, one of the few instances where Hong Kong voters get to cast ballots.

But Chief Executive Carrie Lam on July 31 postponed the election for one year, citing a surge in novel coronavirus cases. Critics say her government worried the opposition would gain seats if voting was held as scheduled.

The poll would have been the former British colony’s first official vote since Beijing imposed the new security legislation in late June, which critics say aims to quash dissent in the city.

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Anti-government protests have been held in Hong Kong almost every weekend since June 2019. They erupted over opposition to a proposed extradition law and spread to include demands for greater democracy and criticism of Beijing’s efforts to tighten control over the city.

Police fire pepper balls
Thousands of police were stationed around the bustling Kowloon Peninsula on Sunday as marchers waved placards and chanted popular anti-government slogans such as, “liberate Hong Kong”.

One woman was arrested during a protest in the Kowloon district of Yau Ma Tei on charges of assault and spreading pro-independence slogans, the police department said on its Facebook page. It said such slogans are illegal under the newly enacted National Security Act.

Police fired pepper balls at protesters in Kowloon’s Mong Kong neighbourhood, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.

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Some 30 other people were arrested on suspicion of illegal assembly and two were arrested for disorderly conduct, police said.

In the Jordan neighbourhood, protesters raised a banner criticising the election delay, the Post said. It put the number of arrests at 33.

“I want my right to vote,” activist Leung Kwok-hung, popularly known as Long Hair, was quoted as saying. The newspaper said Leung was later arrested.

Reporting from the city, Noble Reporters Media said many people were also carrying out individual acts of defiance across the city, carrying banners or chanting slogans, to protest the new law.

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“These acts are remarkable because these individuals are doing that in the face of the sweeping national security law, which makes chants like that, saying things like that illegal,” he said.

“The demonstration was also an unconventional one as people tried hard to blend in with regular shoppers in the heart of the city, and occasionally chanted slogans or make the hand sign of the opposition.”

Limited gatherings
Anti-government demonstrations have declined this year mainly because of limits on group gatherings and the security law that punishes actions China sees as subversive, secessionist, “terrorist” or colluding with foreign forces.

Hong Kong police arrested several well-known pro-democracy activists during the demonstration [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

Hong Kong has reported about 4,800 coronavirus cases since January, far lower than in other large cities around the world. The number of new daily infections has fallen substantially from triple digits in July to single digits currently.

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While street protests have largely lost momentum, anti-government and anti-Beijing sentiment persists, with China’s offer of mass coronavirus testing for Hong Kong residents prompting calls for a boycott amid public distrust.

Gatherings are currently limited to two people. Police have cited such restrictions in rejecting applications for protests in recent months, effectively preventing demonstrations.

Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a guarantee of autonomy but critics say the new law undermines that promise and puts the territory on a more authoritarian path.

Supporters of the new security law say it will bring more stability after a year of often-violent anti-government and anti-China unrest and it plugs loopholes in national security left by the city’s inability to fulfil a constitutional requirement to pass such laws on its own.


#Newsworthy…

New Report: China Plans Huge Investment in Next Generation Chips.

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Facing pressure from the US, China wants to develop its own chip-making technology, sources tell Bloomberg.


China is planning a sweeping set of new government policies to develop its domestic semiconductor industry and counter Trump administration restrictions, conferring the same kind of priority on the effort it accorded to building its atomic capability, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Beijing is preparing broad support for so-called third-generation semiconductors for the five years through 2025, said the people, asking not to be identified discussing government deliberations. A suite of measures to bolster research, education and financing for the industry has been added to a draft of the country’s 14th five-year plan, which will be presented to the country’s top leaders in October, the people said.

China’s top leaders will gather next month to lay out their economic strategy for the next half decade, including efforts to ramp up domestic consumption and make critical technology at home. President Xi Jinping has pledged an estimated $1.4 trillion through 2025 for technologies ranging from wireless networks to artificial intelligence. Semiconductors are fundamental to virtually every component of China’s technology ambitions — and an increasingly aggressive Trump administration threatens to cut off their supply from abroad.

“The Chinese leadership realizes that semiconductors underpin all advanced technologies, and that it can no longer dependably rely on American supplies,” said Dan Wang, technology analyst at research firm Gavekal Dragonomics. “In the face of stricter U.S. restrictions on chip access, China’s response can only be to keep pushing its own industry to develop.”

Shares in several major Chinese chipmakers gained. Shanghai Fudan Microelectronics Group Co. finished 4.3% higher in Hong Kong. On mainland bourses, Will Semiconductor Ltd. — the second most valuable listed Chinese chip firm — rose almost 10%. Xiamen Changelight Co. closed 14% up while Focus Lightings Tech Co. jumped 5.6%.

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The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which is responsible for drafting the tech-related goals, did not reply to a request for comment.

China imports more than $300 billion worth of integrated circuits each year and its semiconductor developers rely on U.S.-made chip design tools and patents, as well as critical manufacturing technologies from U.S. allies. But deteriorating ties between Beijing and Washington have made it increasingly difficult for Chinese companies to source components and chipmaking technologies from overseas.

The U.S. government has blacklisted dozens of China’s tech companies so they can’t buy American parts, and slapped bans on ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat. In the case of technology giant Huawei Technologies Co., the Trump administration sanctioned the company and pressed allies to ban the company’s equipment from their telecom networks.

Chinese firms such as Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp, whose chips are seen here, Will Semiconductor Ltd and National Silicon Industry Group Co could benefit from the government’s new push [File; Qilai Shen/Bloomberg]

This month, Huawei, the country’s largest handset maker, will even lose access to chips from the likes of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. under new American regulations that prohibit suppliers anywhere in the world from working with the company if those suppliers use American equipment. The tighter rules have raised the urgency of building domestic alternatives in Beijing.

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Third-generation semiconductors are mainly chipsets made of materials such as silicon carbide and gallium nitride. They can operate at high frequency and in higher power and temperature environments, and are widely used in fifth-generation radio frequency chips, military-grade radars and electric vehicles.

Since no single country now dominates the fledgling, third-generation technology, China’s gamble is its corporations can compete if they accelerate research into the field now. Global leaders such as U.S.-based CREE Inc. and Japan’s Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. are just beginning to grow this business, while Chinese tech giants such as Sanan Optoelectronics Co. Ltd. and state-owned China Electronics Technology Group Corp. have made inroads on third-generation chipsets.

The country’s other chipmakers, which include Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., Will Semiconductor Ltd. and National Silicon Industry Group Co., may benefit more broadly from the state support.

“This is a sector about to see explosive growth,” Alan Zhou, managing partner of Fujian-based chip investment fund An Xin Capital Co., told an industry forum last week. Because of China’s increasing demand and investment, this is an area that could create a “world-class Chinese chip giant.”


#Newsworthy…

[China] Hong Kong’s Jimmy Lai cleared of charges, released.

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Case against media tycoon dates back to 2017 and is not related to his arrest under China-imposed national security law.


A court in Hong Kong has declared media tycoon and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai not guilty of criminal intimidation, ending one of several cases against him after his high-profile arrest under a new national security law.

Thursday’s verdict was for a case that dates back to 2017 and was unrelated to his arrest last month.

Lai, who is a key critic of Beijing, had used foul language when confronting a reporter from Oriental Daily News, a major competitor to Lai’s tabloid Apple Daily.

Police, however, only charged him in February this year.

The mainland-born media magnate had pleaded not guilty.

He smiled after the verdict was read out and shook hands with supporters who filled the courtroom.

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Lai’s case comes after he was arrested for suspected collusion with foreign forces on August 10, making him the highest-profile person to be arrested under the Beijing-imposed law.

Jimmy Lai is also facing separate court cases for illegal assembly relating to anti-government protests last year [Tyrone Siu/ Reuters]

The 71-year-old had been a frequent visitor to Washington, where he met officials including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to rally support for Hong Kong democracy, prompting Beijing to label him a “traitor”.

After Lai’s August arrest about 200 police officers searched the office of his Apple Daily newspaper.

The national security law punishes any act China considers subversion, succession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison. Critics say it crushes freedoms, while supporters say it will bring stability after prolonged anti-China, pro-democracy protests last year.

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Lai’s Apple Daily has vied with pro-Beijing Oriental Daily for readership in the special administrative region. In 2014 the Oriental Daily published a fake obituary of Lai, claiming that he had died of AIDS and many types of cancer.

Prosecutors in the case said Lai had intimidated the Oriental Daily reporter.

Lai’s lawyers said Lai had been followed by reporters for three years and his comments were not intended to harm the reporter but expressed his exasperation.

Lai is also facing separate court cases for illegal assembly relating to anti-government protests last year.


SOURCE: NOBLE REPORTERS MEDIA, NEWS AGENCIES


#Newsworthy…

Just in: China working to double nuclear warheads – Pentagon

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Report says China aims to double its arsenal from current level of about 200 warheads in next decade, US has over 6,000


China is expected to at least double the number of its nuclear warheads over the next 10 years – from an estimated figure in the low 200s it has now – and is nearing the ability to launch nuclear attacks by land, air and sea, a capacity known as a triad, the Pentagon has revealed.

The annual report to Congress on China’s military marks the first time it has put a number to China’s nuclear warheads. The Federation of American Scientists has estimated that China has about 320.

The Pentagon said the growth projection was based on factors including Beijing having enough material to double its nuclear weapons stockpile without new fissile material production.

“We’re certainly concerned about the numbers … but also just the trajectory of China’s nuclear developments writ large,” Chad Sbragia, deputy assistant secretary of defence for China, told reporters.

The annual report comes as the US Congress debates the pending $700bn defence authorisation bill amid rising tensions between the two countries.

Reporting from Washington, DC, Noble Reporters Media learnt the bill amounts to three times China’s annual defence budget.

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She said US President Donald Trump’s Republican allies want some of the money to cover potential nuclear testing, which is opposed by the Democrats.

Nuclear triad capacity
In his statement, Sbragia said China was also nearing completion of its nuclear triad capacity, as it develops an air-launched ballistic missile that would have nuclear capability.

The report said that in October 2019, China publicly revealed the H-6N bomber as its first nuclear-capable air-to-air refuelling bomber.

Earlier this year, Global Times said Beijing needed to expand the number of its nuclear warheads to 1,000 in a relatively short time [File: Wu Hong/EPA]

Washington has repeatedly expressed its desire to expand an Obama-era nuclear arms control treaty between the US and Russia to include China instead of simply extending the pact, known as New START, when it expires in February.

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China has shown no interest in joining the negotiation.

In July, a senior Chinese diplomat said Beijing would “be happy” to participate in trilateral arms control negotiations, but only if the US was willing to reduce its nuclear arsenal to China’s level.

Earlier this year, the Communist Party-backed tabloid Global Times said Beijing needed to expand the number of its nuclear warheads to 1,000 in a relatively short time.

In an interview with Media (known to Noble Reporters Media) on Wednesday, China analyst Andrew Leung said China’s nuclear posture was “largely defensive”, adding that even if China doubled its nuclear warheads, from 300 to 600, it would still be only a tiny fraction of the US arsenal.

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“The US is said to possess something like 6,000 nuclear warheads, and the US has much more extensive military bases, with about 800 bases in more than 20 to 30 countries around the world. And so, even if China built some bases, it’s still way behind the US.”

Russia has roughly 4,300 warheads, according to the Federation of American Scientists.

Trucks carrying weapons including a nuclear-armed missile designed to evade US defences were displayed in Beijing in 2019 as the country marked the 70th anniversary of the Communist Party taking power in China in 1949 [File: Mark Schiefelbein/AP]

Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association advocacy group, said China’s growing nuclear arsenal should not be used as an excuse for the US and Russia to not extend New START.

It “further reinforces the importance of extending New START and the folly of conditioning extension on China and China’s participation in arms control,” Reif added.

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Tensions have been simmering between China and the US for months.

Washington has taken issue with China’s handling of the novel coronavirus outbreak and moves to curb freedoms in Hong Kong. The increasingly aggressive posture comes as President Donald Trump bids for re-election in November.

Another source of tension has been Taiwan. China has stepped up its military activity around the democratic island Beijing claims as sovereign Chinese territory, sending fighter jets and warships on exercises nearby.

The Pentagon report, based on 2019 information, said China’s military continued to “enhance its readiness” to prevent Taiwan’s independence and carry out an invasion if needed.

SOURCE: NOBLE REPORTERS MEDIA, NEWS AGENCIES


#Newsworthy…

China pressure: United States raise support for Taiwan.

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Washington declassifies six Reagan-era security assurances given to Taiwan, vows new economic dialogue with Taipei.


The United States said on Monday that it was establishing a new bilateral economic dialogue with Taiwan, an initiative it said was aimed at strengthening ties with Taipei and supporting it in the face of increasing pressure from Beijing.

Washington also said it had declassified six security assurances given to Taiwan during the era of US President Ronald Reagan – a move analysts said appeared intended to show further support for Taipei.

The US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, David Stilwell, made the announcements on Monday, amid a continued deterioration in relations between Washington and Beijing and increasing pressure from China on democratically-ruled Taiwan, which it considers part of its territory.

Stilwell said the US is intensifying support to the island because of the “increasing threat posed by Beijing to peace and stability in the region” and its “deepening ties of friendship, trade, and productivity” with Taiwan.

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Taiwan flexes military might amid China tensions
Washington broke off formal diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1979 in favour of Beijing, but the US is bound by law to help Taiwan defend itself and is the main arms supplier to the island.

The administration of current US President Donald Trump has made strengthening its support for the island a priority, and has also boosted weapons and equipment sales.

Trump is campaigning for re-election in November with a tough approach to China among his key foreign policy platforms, accusing his rival, Democrat Joe Biden, of being weak on China.

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In August, Trump also dispatched his health secretary, Alex Azar, to Taipei – the highest-ranking US official to travel to the island in years – angering Beijing.

Among the security assurances to Taiwan that the United States declassified on Monday is that Washington, DC has not agreed to prior consultation with Beijing on arms sales to Taiwan [File: Wally Santana/AP]

‘Significant adjustments’
Stilwell told a virtual forum hosted by the conservative Heritage Foundation that the latest US moves were not a policy shift, but part of a set of “significant adjustments” within Washington’s long-standing “one-China” policy.

“We will continue to help Taipei resist the Chinese Communist Party’s campaign to pressure, intimidate, and marginalise Taiwan,” Stilwell said.

“With a population of 23 million, Taiwan continues to punch above its weight in economics as well as governance, thereby making the world a better place.”

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Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry expressed thanks for the show of support at a time when it said China was using military intimidation to damage peace and stability near Taiwan, and said it would continue to strengthen its defence capabilities.

US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar’s recent visit to Taiwan and meeting with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen angered China, which considers the island as part of its territory [Taiwan Presidential Office/Handout via Reuters]

Earlier on Monday, Beijing said that the anti-China pronouncements by certain US politicians are destined to fail, after another Trump official, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, said on Friday that the US should use its alliance in the region to cope with “challenges” posed by China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a press briefing on Monday that some officials in the US were “driven by their zero-sum game mindset” and “Cold War mentality and personal gains.”

‘Six Assurances’
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, both wearing face masks, pose for photos during their meeting at the presidential office, in Taipei

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Daniel Russel, a predecessor of Stilwell until early in the Trump administration, said the “Six Assurances” made to Taipei by the Reagan administration in 1982 had been a “loosely kept secret” at best.

He said the decision to publish them looked like a compromise response to pressure from administration hawks to abandon “strategic ambiguity” – a long-standing policy of withholding a clear-cut US commitment to defend Taiwan while still showing sufficient support to deter any Chinese military adventurism.

Among the assurances made in 1982, but never formally made public, are statements that the US has not set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan, nor agreed to prior consultation with Beijing on such sales, or to revise the Taiwan Relations Act that underpins US policy towards the island.

The assurances, Stilwell said, “endure today”.


• Happy New Month From Noble Reporters Media •



#Newsworthy…

Breaking: China threatens Czech republic over Taiwan visit.

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The arrival of the Czech delegation marks the second high-profile foreign visit to the democratic island in a fortnight.


Top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said Czech senate speaker Milos Vystrcil would “pay a heavy price” for violating the so-called “One China” principle by making an official visit to Taiwan, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday.

Vystrcil arrived in Taipei on Sunday with a delegation of 90 people including the mayor of Prague on a trip designed to promote business links with Taiwan, which China claims as its own and tries to isolate on the world stage.

He said the Czech Republic would not bow to objections from Beijing, which considers the democratically-ruled island a breakaway province.

China’s state media quoted Wang saying the visit was a “provocation” and that Taiwan was an “inseparable part of China”.

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It is the second high-profile visit by a foreign delegation to the island in a fortnight, after a visit by US Health Secretary Alex Azar.

Vystrcil is expected to deliver a speech in Taiwan’s parliament and meet President Tsai Ing-wen during the five-day trip, which continues until September 4.

In a post on Twitter, Tsai noted that Taiwan and the Czech Republic shared “many core values”. Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, who met the delegation at the airport, thanked the Czechs for “putting friendship before politics” and used the hashtag #defenddemocracy.

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China has sought to isolate Taiwan diplomatically, ramping up pressure since Tsai came to power in 2016. A number of countries that did have formal relations with Taiwan have shifted their allegiance to China and the island now has official ties with just 15 nations.

Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil (left) was greeted at the airport by Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (right) [Sam Yeh/AFP]

Tsai won a second term in office in January in a landslide victory.

Tsai has portrayed the island as a progressive democratic ally to other nations hoping to push back against Beijing’s authoritarianism, helped by Taiwan’s defeat of its coronavirus outbreak and its global shipments of personal protection equipment.

In a speech to an Australian think-tank last Thursday, Tsai described Taiwan as being “on the front line of freedom and democracy” as China cracks down on dissent in nearby Hong Kong and elsewhere.


#Newsworthy…

Tibet president says China to step up efforts to combat splittism.

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Chinese leader tells senior Communist Party officials that Beijing must plant ‘seeds of loving China’ among Tibetans.


China must build an “impregnable fortress” to maintain stability in Tibet, protect national unity and educate the masses in the struggle against “splittism”, President Xi Jinping told senior leaders, according to state media.

China seized control over Tibet in 1950 in what it describes as a “peaceful liberation” that helped the remote Himalayan region throw off its “feudalist” past. But critics, led by exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, say Beijing’s rule amounts to “cultural genocide”.

At a senior Communist Party meeting on Tibet’s future governance, Xi lauded achievements made and praised front-line officials but said more efforts were needed to enrich, rejuvenate and strengthen unity in the region.

Political and ideological education needed to be strengthened in Tibet’s schools in order to “plant the seeds of loving China in the depths of the hearts of every youth”, Xi said in remarks published by state news agency Xinhua on Saturday.

Pledging to build a “united, prosperous, civilised, harmonious and beautiful new, modern, socialist Tibet”, Xi said China needed to strengthen the role of the Communist Party in the territory and better integrate its ethnic groups.

Tibetan Buddhism also needed to adapt to socialism and Chinese conditions, he added.

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Advocacy group the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) said Xi’s remarks showed Chinese rule still needed to be imposed with an “iron fist”.

In emailed comments, its president, Matteo Mecacci, said, “If Tibetans really benefitted as much from Chinese leadership as Xi and other officials claim, then China wouldn’t have to fear separatism and wouldn’t need to subject Tibetans to political re-education.”

China seized control over Tibet in 1950 in what critics, led by exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, say amounts to ‘cultural genocide’ [File: Roman Pilipey/EPA]

China’s policies towards Tibet have come under the spotlight again this year amid worsening ties with the United States.

In July, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US would restrict visas for some Chinese officials involved in blocking diplomatic access to Tibet and engaging in “human rights abuses”, adding that Washington supported “meaningful autonomy” for Tibet.


#Newsworthy…