Archive for 2020

Opinion | John Kerry: China’s Chance to Save Antarctic Sealife – By John F. Kerry – The New York Times

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Mr. Kerry served as U.S. secretary of state from 2013 to 2017.

Credit…Liu Shiping/Xinhua, via Getty Images

“Even as the United States and China confront deep disagreements, there is a global challenge that simply won’t wait for the resolution of our differences: climate change.

While some have decided that we are entering a new Cold War with China, we can still cooperate on critical mutual interests. After all, even at the height of 20th-century tensions, the Americans and the Soviets negotiated arms control agreements, which were in the interests of both countries.

Climate change, like nuclear proliferation, is a challenge of our own making — and one to which we hold the solution. We have an opportunity this month to make clear that great power rivalries aside, geopolitics must end at the water’s edge — at the icy bottom of our planet in the Southern Ocean, which surrounds the entire continent of Antarctica.

The first post-World War II arms limitation agreement — the Antarctic Treaty signed in 1959 at the height of the Cold War — banned military activities, created a nuclear-free space, set aside territorial claims and declared the continent a global commons dedicated to peace and science. Now we have the opportunity to extend that global commons from the land to the sea.”

Source: Opinion | John Kerry: China’s Chance to Save Antarctic Sealife – The New York Times

Posted in: China, Climate Change Remediation, Environment

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The Jailed Activist Left a Letter Behind. The Message: Keep Fighting. – By Richard C. Paddock – The New York Times

“BANGKOK — The outspoken Vietnamese journalist and activist Pham Doan Trang knew it was only a matter of time before the police came for her.

She wrote a letter last year and gave it to an American friend with instructions to release it upon her arrest. In the letter, she asked that her friends not just campaign for her freedom but use her incarceration to fight for free elections and an end to single-party rule in Vietnam.

“I don’t want freedom for just myself; that’s too easy,” wrote Ms. Pham, 42, who has walked with difficulty since a police beating in 2015. “I want something greater: freedom for Vietnam.”

Shortly before midnight on Oct. 6, the police raided her apartment in Ho Chi Minh City and arrested her on charges of making and disseminating propaganda against the Vietnamese state. She faces up to 20 years in prison.

Source: The Jailed Activist Left a Letter Behind. The Message: Keep Fighting. – The New York Times

Posted in: Vietnam News and Current Events, Vietnam Post 1975 War Problems

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China Is Expanding Detention Sites in Muslim Region of Xinjiang – By Chris Buckley and Austin Ramzy – The New York Times

“As China faced rising international censure last year over its mass internment of Muslim minorities, officials asserted that the indoctrination camps in the western region of Xinjiang had shrunk as former camp inmates rejoined society as reformed citizens.

Researchers at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute on Thursday challenged those claims with an investigation that found that the Xinjiang authorities had been expanding a variety of detention sites since last year.

Rather than being released, many detainees were likely being sent to prisons and perhaps other facilities, the investigation found, citing satellite images of new and expanded incarceration sites.

Nathan Ruser, a researcher who led the project at the institute, also called ASPI, said the findings undercut Chinese officials’ claims that inmates from the camps — which the government calls vocational training centers — had “graduated.” “

Source: China Is Expanding Detention Sites in Muslim Region of Xinjiang – The New York Times

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, China

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Opinion | China Has a New Plan to Tame Tibet – By Adrian Zenz – The New York Times

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Mr. Zenz is an expert on China’s ethnic policies.

Credit…Purbu Zhaxi/Xinhua, via Getty Images

“Before Xinjiang, there was Tibet. Repressive policies tested there between 2012 and 2016 were then applied to the Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in northwestern China: entire cities covered in surveillance cameras, ubiquitous neighborhood police stations, residents made to report on another other.

Now that process also works the other way around. Xinjiang’s coercive labor program — which includes mandatory training for farmers and herders in centralized vocational facilities and their reassignment to state-assigned jobs, some far away — is being applied to Tibet. (Not the internment camps, though.)

Call this a feedback loop of forcible assimilation. It certainly is evidence of the scale of Beijing’s ruthless campaign to suppress cultural and ethnic differences — and not just in Tibet and Xinjiang.

I analyzed more than 100 policy papers and documents from the Tibetan authorities and state-media reports for a study published with the Jamestown Foundation this week. Photos show Tibetans training, wearing fatigues. Official documents outline how Beijing is rolling out for them a militarized labor program much like the one in place in Xinjiang: Tibetan nomads and farmers are being rounded up for military-style classes and taught work discipline, “gratitude” for the Chinese Communist Party and Chinese-language skills.”

Source: Opinion | China Has a New Plan to Tame Tibet – The New York Times

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, China

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Opinion | Trump Is Wrong About TikTok. China’s Plans Are Much More Sinister. – By Yi-Zheng Lian – The New York Times

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Mr. Lian is a former chief editor of The Hong Kong Economic Journal.

Credit…Torsten Blackwood/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Trump administration says it wants to ban the popular short-video app TikTok in the United States, because TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is Chinese. Washington is worried that the personal data of the many millions of Americans using the app could be siphoned off to China and misused.

To some, that concern may seem excessive or its timing politically opportunistic, but the danger posed by TikTok is real: In fact, it is only a stand-in for far greater risks.

The problem isn’t just TikTok. The tech giant Huawei — which the U.S. government blacklisted last year, calling it a threat to America’s national security — is another company with close connections to China. So is Zoom, the U.S.-based teleconferencing service provider established by a billionaire Chinese immigrant, which uses software partially developed in China.

Credit…Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images — LightRocket, via Getty Images

There are also the Confucius Institutes, purportedly just a vast network of Chinese-language teaching centers but really also an instrument of Beijing’s propaganda and pressure tactics.

And there are many more smaller, but no less dangerous, Chinese entities or entities with strong Chinese backgrounds operating in the United States.

All are thoroughly embedded there, reaching deep into offices and homes — shaping how Americans work, learn and play. Companies with ties to China or its government now occupy critical choke points of American society.

This is no accident. President Xi Jinping has a dream — a “Chinese Dream” of global dominance — and his strategy for achieving that has two main prongs.

The first is the traditional and tangible hard-power push to set up military bases and seaports controlled by Chinese interests around the world, and it has been much discussed by China observers.

Source: Opinion | Trump Is Wrong About TikTok. China’s Plans Are Much More Sinister. – The New York Times

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, China, Military Affairs and Espionage

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My Family’s Shrouded History Is Also a National One for Korea – By Alexander Chee – The New York Times

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In the latest article from “Beyond the World War II We Know,” a series by The Times that documents lesser-known stories from World War II, the author Alexander Chee looks back at the dark legacy of the Japanese occupation of Korea — and a once-unknown personal connection to it.

“I first learned about the decades-long Japanese occupation of Korea in 1985, when my grandfather told me he still dreamed in Japanese. “Granfy’s first language,” he said, referring to himself, as he often did, in the third person by his self-chosen nickname. He regularly spoke of the superiority of Korean language and culture, such that I expected him to bring it up at every visit.

And so this revelation startled me. He didn’t explain this to me, either. I wanted to ask questions, but given how painful it seemed for him to tell me this, I remember thinking questions could wait. How could it matter enough to me, to who I was, to put him through that?

We were in his home in Seoul, a house near Changdeokgung Palace — you could see it over the wall from his roof. My father had just died, and my brother and I were there to visit him and then travel on to our family’s ancestral shrine and pay our respects. This new fact joined other details learned on that trip, from our visits to museums and historic sites: The Seokguram Buddha in the coastal city of Gyeongju, for example, whose forehead once bore a massive diamond, stolen by Japanese soldiers; the palaces of Korea renamed by the Japanese as “gardens” and converted to public parks, many of their buildings destroyed.”

Source: My Family’s Shrouded History Is Also a National One for Korea – The New York Times

Posted in: Japan, Korea - North and South Korea

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Opinion | The Two China Fires – by Bret Stephens – The New York Times

“. . .  What stands out now is just how brazen Beijing has become. Take one detail from Wray’s speech: “We have now reached the point where the F.B.I. is opening a new China-related counterintelligence case about every 10 hours,” he said. In one case, a single scientist, Hongjin Tan, pleaded guilty to stealing an estimated $1 billion in trade secrets from an Oklahoma-based energy company.

But this brings us to the second blunt fact. U.S. power in East Asia is waning. Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership — the single best hedge the U.S. had against Chinese economic dominance of the region — may, in hindsight, prove to be his single worst policy mistake. He has tried to shake down both South Korea and Japan to pay more for basing U.S. forces: penny ante politics that only raise doubts about America’s reliability as an ally.

And then there’s the degraded state of the U.S. Navy, epitomized by the fire on the Bonhomme Richard (itself the latest in a string of corruption, leadership, cost over-run and competency scandals to bedevil the service). Trump came to office with grand plans to build a 355-ship Navy, up from the current 300. The Pentagon all but admits it has no hope of reaching that goal. Meanwhile, the Chinese Navy — which isn’t stretched around the world — has 335 ships, a 55 percent increase in 15 years,

If the U.S. and the People’s Republic were to come to blows after some incident over some atoll in the South China Sea, are we confident we’d prevail?

When (fingers crossed) Joe Biden is president, he needn’t ask his cabinet members to deliver philippics against Beijing. But, as George Kennan once wrote about another regime, he must be prepared to confront China with “unalterable counter force at every point where they show signs of encroaching upon the interests of a peaceful and stable world.” “

Source: Opinion | The Two China Fires – The New York Times

Posted in: China, Foreign Affairs and U.S.ForeignPolicy

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Opinion | My Relatives in Wuhan Survived. My Uncle in New York Did Not. – By Yi Rao – The New York Times

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Dr. Rao is a molecular neurobiologist in China.

Credit…Taechit Taechamanodom/Moment, via Getty Images

“BEIJING — Eight is thought to be a lucky number in China because in Chinese it sounds like the word for “fortune”; 444 is a bad number because it rings like “death”; 520 sounds like “I love you.”

Having always disliked superstition, I was dismayed to receive a message by WeChat at 4:44 p.m. on May 20, Beijing time, informing me that my uncle Eric, who lived in New York, had died from Covid-19. He was 74.

Uncle Eric was a pharmacist, so presumably he contracted the virus from a patient who had visited his shop in Queens. Infected in March, he was sick for more than two months. He was kept on a ventilator until his last 10 days: By then, he was deemed incurable and the ventilator was redirected to other patients who might be saved.

The medical trade runs in my family. I now preside over a medical university in Beijing with 19 affiliated hospitals. I studied medicine because my father was a doctor, a pulmonary physician. He decided to study medicine after losing his mother to a minor infection when he was 13. My father did not expect to lose a brother 15 years his junior to a disease in his own specialty: the respiratory system.”

Source: Opinion | My Relatives in Wuhan Survived. My Uncle in New York Did Not. – The New York Times

Posted in: China, Public Health, United States

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Opinion | China and America Are Heading Toward Divorce – by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

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“. . . .  But both sides are not equally to blame. The Xi era in U.S.-China relations, which began in 2012, has led the relationship steadily downhill. China went too far on a broad range of issues.

Start with business. For many years U.S. companies thought they had enough market share inside China that they would tolerate the stealing of intellectual property and other trade abuses China engaged in. But in the last decade, China started to overreach, and the American Chamber of Commerce in China began to complain louder and louder. Gradually, many in the U.S. business community, which was a key buffer in the relationship, began to endorse Donald Trump’s hard-line approach (although they don’t like paying tariffs).

Since Xi took power and made himself effectively president for life and tightened the Communist Party’s control over all matters, U.S. journalists working in China have had their access sharply curtailed; China has become more aggressive in projecting its power into the South China Sea; it’s become more fixated on subsidizing its high-tech start-ups to dominate key industries by 2025; it is imposing a new national security law to curtail longstanding freedoms in Hong Kong; it’s stepped up its bullying of Taiwan, taken a very aggressive approach toward India and intensified its internment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang; it’s jailed two innocent Canadians to swap for a detained Chinese businesswoman; and it even hammered countries that dared to ask for an independent inquiry into how the coronavirus emerged in Wuhan.

After Australia’s prime minister called for such an investigation in April, China’s ambassador to Australia brazenly threatened economic retaliation, and a few weeks later China cut off beef and barley imports from Australian companies, citing bogus health and trade violations.

That is the kind of crude bullying that has helped to strip China of virtually every ally it had in Washington — allies for a policy that basically said, “We have different systems, but let’s build bridges with China where possible, engage where it is mutually beneficial and draw redlines where necessary.”

That balanced policy approach always had to contain serious tensions, ugliness and disagreements on issues — but in the end it delivered enough mutual benefit to be sustained for 40 years. That balance is now off as far as many Americans are concerned. I am one of them.

As Orville Schell, one of the most sensible advocates of this balanced approach, wrote in an essay a few weeks ago on TheWireChina.com: “Today, as the U.S. faces its most adversarial state with the People’s Republic of China in years, the always fragile policy framework of engagement feels like a burnt-out case. … A recent Pew poll shows that only 26 percent of Americans view China favorably, the lowest percentage since its surveys began in 2005.”

But if China has increasingly overreached, America has increasingly underperformed.

It is not just that China reportedly has fewer than 5,000 Covid-19 deaths and America has over 120,000 — and the virus started there. It is not just that it takes about 22 hours on Amtrak to go from New York to Chicago, while it takes 4.5 hours to take the bullet train from Beijing to Shanghai, slightly farther apart. It’s not just that the pandemic has accelerated China’s transformation to a cashless, digital society.

It’s that we have reduced investments in the true sources of our strength — infrastructure, education, government-funded scientific research, immigration and the right rules to incentivize productive investment and prevent excessive risk-taking. And we have stopped leveraging our greatest advantage over China — that we have allies who share our values and China only has customers who fear its wrath.

If we got together with our allies, we could collectively influence China to accept new rules on trade and Covid-19 and a range of other issues. But Trump refused to do so, making everything a bilateral deal or a fight with Xi. So now China is offering sweetheart deals to U.S. and other foreign companies to come into or stay in China, and its market is now so big, few companies can resist.

Summing up the relationship today, McGregor, of APCO Worldwide, noted: “I don’t know if the Chinese are taking America seriously anymore. They are happy to just let us keep damaging ourselves. We have to wake up and grow up” — and get our own act and allies together. China respects one thing only: leverage. Today, we have too little and China has too much.

Source: Opinion | China and America Are Heading Toward Divorce – The New York Times

Posted in: China, Foreign Affairs and U.S.ForeignPolicy

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Opinion | Trump Is Playing the China Card. Who Believes Him? – By Susan E. Rice – The New York Times

He attacks Joe Biden to deflect blame for his terrible handling of Covid-19 and record of appeasing Beijing.

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post, via Getty Images

“There is a long history of American presidential candidates using China as a campaign cudgel — from Bill Clinton blasting President George H.W. Bush in 1992 for dealing with a Chinese premier known as the “Butcher of Beijing” to Donald Trump’s 2016 attack that the Obama administration had allowed China to “rape” the United States while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. This election year, China-bashing will reach a new level, as Mr. Trump seeks to capitalize on high voter disapproval of China, Beijing’s failure to contain the coronavirus and persistent bilateral tensions between our countries.

Desperate to obscure the reality of more than 90,000 American deaths and 36 million unemployed amid Mr. Trump’s utterly incompetent handling of the pandemic, Republicans have no better strategy than to play the China card. The Republicans are executing a 57-page campaign memo that recommends branding opponents “soft on China” and reveals their rationale for repeated refrains of the “Chinese virus” and “Wuhan lab.”

For Mr. Trump, attacking former Vice President Joe Biden on China serves three purposes: to dampen turnout among populist Democrats; to deflect blame for his deadly mishandling of the coronavirus for which he takes no “responsibility at all”; and most cynically, to try to turn his own blatant weakness on China into a political weapon. Mr. Trump’s penchant for projecting his personal failings onto others is one of his most familiar and dishonest ploys — whether the subject is corruption, nepotism, sexual assault or Russian interference in the 2016 election, as with so-called Obamagate.”

Source: Opinion | Trump Is Playing the China Card. Who Believes Him? – The New York Times

Posted in: China, Foreign Affairs and U.S.ForeignPolicy

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