Tag Archives: Xi Jinping

North Korean missile launch heightens tensions

Rex Tillerson says US has ‘spoken enough’ about hermit state as Donald Trump prepares to meet Pyongyang’s ally Xi Jinping

North Korea has fired a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan, sending a clear message to its ally China ahead of the first summit between US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Florida on Friday.

Japan called the test “extremely problematic”, while the South Korean foreign ministry said it “threatens the peace and safety of the international community as well as the Korean peninsula”.

However, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave a “terse response… unlike the standard diplomatic condemnations that usually follow Pyongyang’s missile tests”, CNN says.

“The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment,” Tillerson said.

Continue reading North Korean missile launch heightens tensions

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North Korea Moved Some Of Its Most Advanced Weaponry To The Chinese Border In A Sign Of Rising Tensions

In a sign of the continuing decline in relations between North Korea and China, Pyongyang moved a number of tanks and armored vehicles away from South Korea to the Chinese border, according to The Chosun Ilbo, citing an anonymous source. 

Continue reading North Korea Moved Some Of Its Most Advanced Weaponry To The Chinese Border In A Sign Of Rising Tensions

Chinese President Xi Jinping Just Took His War On Corruption To A Whole New Level

china Mao Zedong Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping has announced that his national anticorruption campaign will now extend beyond people and begin investigating state firms.

This directive, says state media organization Xinhua News, is a new priority in 2015. President Xi announced the change through a party communique on Wednesday, after the fifth plenary session of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI).

It’s impossible to overstate what this anticorruption drive has done in China. It has claimed one of the highest government officials to go down since the days of Mao.

It has changed the entire business landscape and changed the social structure of the world’s biggest gambling center, Macau. And it has rich Chinese people worried about being flashy with their money.

It has uncovered millions of dollars held by corrupt officials.

But the question remains whether this is totally about wiping out corruption. Some believe it’s about Xi consolidating power not merely under the party but under him.

Here’s what the CCDI will be focusing on, according to Xinhua:

  • The top task for 2015 will be the tightening up of internal management and ensuring central leadership policies are implemented. The CCDI demanded that senior officials “toe the line” and that cronyism, fakery and sycophancy would not be tolerated.
  • All state-owned enterprises (SOEs) under the care of the central government will be subject to inspections and supervision will be tightened on SOEs across the board.
  • The heads of Party and government departments, and state-owned enterprises will be held accountable for any serious corruption cases that happen under their charge.
  • The rooting out of harmful working practices, including abuse of public money and bureaucracy, will continue.
  • Officials in key positions who use their influence in infrastructure projects and public land deals, embezzle state-owned assets, or buy and sell government posts will face serious penalties.
  • Disciplinary inspection organs will strengthen international cooperation in the hunt for fugitive officials and asset recovery.
  •  The CCDI will build a loyal, clean, responsible discipline inspection team. Incompetent inspectors will be replaced and those who look the other way would be punished.

This will get interesting.

China arrests ex-security chief Zhou Yongkang

File photo: Zhou Yongkang, 1 November 2010

Ex-security chief Zhou Yongkang, the most senior Chinese official to be investigated for corruption, has been arrested and expelled from the Communist Party, state media report.

The Supreme People’s Procuratorate, China’s top prosecuting body, said it had opened a formal probe against him.

Before he retired two years ago, Mr Zhou was the head of China’s vast internal security apparatus.

Many of his former associates and relatives also face corruption probes.

Since coming to power, Chinese President Xi Jinping has launched a high-profile campaign to weed out corruption among party and government officials.

Mr Zhou was accused of several crimes, including “serious violations of party discipline”, “accepting large sums of bribes”, “disclosing party and state secrets” and “committing adultery with several women” as part of corrupt transactions, Xinhua news agency reported (in Chinese).

Mr Zhou’s arrest was announced in a statement by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, released late on Friday night.

‘Most feared’

Mr Zhou, who is in his 70s, has not been seen in public for more than a year.

Analysts say the investigation against Mr Zhou allows Xi Jinping to consolidate his power base, remove people opposed to his reforms, and improve the image of the Communist Party.

Mr Zhou was previously also a member of China’s top decision-making body, the Politburo Standing Committee.

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Analysis: Zhuang Chen, BBC Chinese

Zhou Yongkang was allegedly the most feared and powerful senior official before he retired two years ago from the pinnacle of China’s decision-making body. He is also the biggest “tiger” – the highest ranking official – caged by Xi Jinping in his anti-corruption drive.

Dubbed “Master Kang”, Mr Zhou put many of his followers in powerful positions in the oil and security sectors during his heyday in office. Many of his loyalists have since been either sentenced or indicted on corruption charges.

It has taken over a year to investigate his case, which suggests the authorities are mindful of its sensitivity. Some suspect the party would rather deal with his case in secrecy, given how much Mr Zhou knows.

The fact that he is to be investigated by state prosecutors means the authorities have gathered sufficient evidence.

It also shows an ever-more confident Xi Jinping making Mr Zhou a case in point to further consolidate his power.

The suspense now is over whether Mr Zhou will be charged and tried in public, in the fashion of his disgraced former ally Bo Xilai.

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A Chinese minister has previously said that the investigation against Mr Zhou would take a long time to complete.

Mr Zhou had enjoyed a close working relationship with former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai, who was sentenced to life imprisonment last year on bribery charges.

Bo’s wife Gu Kailai was given a suspended death sentence in 2012 for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

Bo’s downfall was seen as the biggest political shake-up to hit China’s ruling elite in decades, and revealed divisions at the top of the party over how the scandal should be handled.

BBC graphic showing Zhou Yongkang's sphere of influence

‘Zero-tolerance’

Mr Zhou’s arrest was welcomed by many social media users on Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like platform in China.

“We have zero-tolerance against corruption!” one user wrote.

“No position is off-limits when it comes to removing malignant tumours, winning the applause and cheers of the people,” another user, Zhang Jinyang, wrote.

Many users highlighted the allegations that Mr Zhou had leaked state secrets and committed adultery.

However, some comments about the charges against Mr Zhou appear to have been censored.

Searching for “Zhou Yongkang” on Sina Weibo brings up a number of microblog posts, but also the following message: “Under the relevant laws, regulations and policies, some of the search results cannot be displayed.”

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Timeline: Zhou Yongkang

1942: Born in Wu Xi city in eastern Jiangsu province

1964: Joins the Communist Party and spends the next 32 years in the oil sector

1998: Becomes party secretary of China National Petroleum Corporation

1999: Appointed party secretary of Sichuan

2002: Appointed member of the Politburo at the 16th Party Congress; becomes minister of public security later that year

2007: Further promoted to member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo – China’s highest state organ

2012: His lieutenants begin to get sacked and investigated; he appears with Bo Xilai at Chinese National People’s Congress session

December 2013: His son Zhou Bin is arrested on corruption charges

December 2014: Arrested, expelled from party

​Putin, Xi Jinping sign second mega gas deal on new gas supply route

RIA Novosti/Grigoriy Sisoev

President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have signed a memorandum of understanding on the so-called “western” gas supplies route to China. The agreement paves the way for a contract that would make China the biggest consumer of Russian gas.

Russia’s so-called “western” or “Altay” route would supply 30 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas a year to China.

The new supply line comes in addition to the “eastern” route, through the “Power of Siberia” pipeline, which will annually deliver 38 bcm of gas to China. Work on that pipeline route has already begun after a $400 billion deal was clinched in May.

“After we have launched supplies via the “western route,” the volume of gas deliveries to China can exceed the current volumes of export to Europe,” Gazprom CEO Aleksey Miller told reporters, commenting on the deal.

Speaking to journalists on the eve of his visit to Beijing, Putin was optimistic about prospects for the new gas deal with China.

“We have reached an understanding in principle concerning the opening of the western route,” Putin said. “We have already agreed on many technical and commercial aspects of this project, laying a good basis for reaching final arrangements.”

The “western” route deal is one of the 17 agreements signed at the Sunday meeting between Putin and Xi.

They also included a framework agreement between Gazprom and China’s CNPC on gas deliveries and a memorandum of understanding between Gazprom and another Chinese energy giant, CNOOC.

Gazprom and CNPC have also signed a preliminary agreement for China National Oil and Gas Exploration and Development to take a 10 percent stake in Russia’s Vancorneft.

Among the business issues discussed by Putin and Xi at their fifth meeting this year was the possibility of payment in Chinese yuan, including for defense deals military, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov was cited as saying by RIA Novosti.

Why Russia’s President Is ‘Putin the Great’ in China

Books about Vladimir Putin far outsell those on other foreign leaders, according to the staff at Beijing’s Wangfujing bookstore.

Like Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin Is Seen as a Strong Leader Who Isn’t Afraid to Confront the West

BEIJING—In the recommended-reading section of Beijing’s Wangfujing bookstore, staff members have no doubt which foreign leader customers are most interested in: President Vladimir Putin, or “Putin the Great” as some Chinese call him.

Books on Mr. Putin have been flying off shelves since the crisis in Ukraine began, far outselling those on other world leaders, sales staff say. One book, “Putin Biography:

He is Born for Russia,” made the list of top 10 nonfiction best sellers at the Beijing News newspaper in September.

China’s fascination with Mr. Putin is more than literary, marking a shift in the post-Cold War order and in Chinese politics.

After decades of mutual suspicion—and one short border conflict—Beijing and Moscow are drawing closer as they simultaneously challenge the U.S.-led security architecture that has prevailed since the Soviet collapse, diplomats and analysts say.

The former rivals for leadership of the Communist world also increasingly share a brand of anti-Western nationalism that could color President Xi Jinping‘s view of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Beijing accuses Western governments of stirring unrest there, much as Mr. Putin blamed the West for the pro-democracy protests in Kiev that began late last year.

Russia has begun portraying the Hong Kong protests, too, as U.S.-inspired. Russian state-controlled television channels this week claimed that Hong Kong protest leaders had received American training.

The Pew Research Center says China is one of the few countries where popular support for Russia has risen since Moscow’s confrontation with the West over Ukraine—rising to 66% in July from 47% a year earlier.

A poll by In Touch Today, an online news service run by China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd., put Mr. Putin’s approval rating at 92% after Russia annexed Crimea in March.

“Putin’s personality is impressive—as a man, as a leader. Chinese people find that attractive. He defends Russia’s interests,” says Zhao Huasheng, an expert on China-Russia relations at Shanghai’s Fudan University. “Russia and China can learn a lot from each other.”

It is partly realpolitik. Russia needs China’s market and capital, especially as Western sanctions over Ukraine bite, the analysts say, while Beijing sees Moscow as a source of diplomatic support and vital energy resources.

The countries concluded a long-awaited deal in May for Russia to supply $400 billion of gas to China over 30 years. They have forged agreements to build a railway bridge over their common border and an ice-free port in Russia’s far east.

They have also unveiled plans to set up ground stations on each other’s land for their satellite global-positioning navigation systems.

Also driving the realignment is rapport between Mr. Putin and Mr. Xi, whose leadership increasingly resembles his Russian counterpart’s charismatic nationalist authoritarianism.

“Putin and Xi Jinping are quite similar,” says Yu Bin, an expert on China-Russia relations at Wittenberg University in Ohio. The leaders are from the same generation—they are both 61—and both want to re-establish their countries as world powers and challenge Western dominance following periods of perceived national humiliation.

Xi Jinping, left, and Vladimir Putin increasingly share a similar brand of anti-Western nationalism. Above, the two leaders are seen together in Shanghai in May. ZUMAPRESS.com

Mr. Xi came to power two years ago succeeding Hu Jintao, whom party insiders saw as an uncharismatic leader unable to inspire popular support or defend China’s national interests.

“I think China, after 10 years of Hu Jintao, started to look for a strong leader,” says Mr. Yu. “In that context, the Chinese leadership does look to Putin. There’s a parallel experience.”

Mr. Xi has since made his relationship with Mr. Putin a priority. He chose Russia for his first foreign visit as Chinese president and was one of the few world leaders to attend the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Mr. Xi has met Mr. Putin nine times since taking office, most recently at a Central Asian security forum in Tajikistan last month.

“I have the impression we always treat each other as friends, with full and open hearts,” Mr. Xi told Mr. Putin in Moscow last year, according to an official Kremlin transcript. “We are similar in character.”

He told Russian students later that China and Russia were both going through “an important period of national rejuvenation” and had “the best great-power relationship” in the world.

Mr. Xi has established himself as a political strongman by outlining a “China Dream” of national rejuvenation, by overseeing a sustained anticorruption campaign and by using China’s military muscle to enforce territorial claims around its coast.

He has also tightened controls on the media and political dissent and has launched a campaign against Western ideological influence, such as through foreign-funded NGOs.

Some Chinese and Western scholars see parallels in Mr. Putin’s early onslaught against Russia’s oligarchs, his appeals for national revival, his crackdown on independent news media and his willingness to use military force to defend Russia’s interests around its borders.

Mr. Putin has also overseen a gradual rehabilitation of Joseph Stalin. Mr. Xi praises the achievements of Chairman Mao Zedong.

Both men play on their countries’ wartime pasts. Mr. Xi has introduced three war-related national holidays, including a “Martyrs’ Day,” marked for the first time Tuesday.

Mr. Putin just opened a new World War I memorial. They plan to hold joint celebrations next year for the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Both men, scholars say, rely heavily on state-controlled media to tap into a popular admiration for strong leaders that is widespread in Russia and China, former empires that for most of their histories have been ruled by autocrats.

Zheng Wenyang, the 30-year-old author of “He is Born for Russia,” says the biography, which came out in 2012, has sold far more copies than his earlier works onBarack Obama, Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela.

He says Mr. Putin’s popularity, while inflated by glowing reports in Chinese state media, feeds off a deeply held conviction in Chinese society: “If a leader is weak and allows himself to be bullied, then people won’t respect him.”

Russia’s pushback against Western-leaning governments in Georgia in 2008 and more recently Ukraine has been popular in China. Some say Beijing should draw lessons from those experiences as it jostles for control over waters in the East and South China seas with the U.S., Japan, Philippines and Vietnam.

“Putin is a bold and decisive leader of a great power, who’s good at achieving victory in a dangerous situation,” said Maj. Gen. Wang Haiyun, a former military attaché to Moscow, in an interview with the Chinese website of the Global Times newspaper.

“These features are worthy of our praise and learning. Russia has been a great world power for hundreds of years and a superpower in the bi-polar order: It’s much more skilled than us at playing great power games.”

In the crisis over Ukraine—a supplier of corn and armaments to China—Beijing has stayed on the sidelines, calling repeatedly for a political solution and withholding support for Western sanctions against Russia.

Some Chinese experts argue that China risks damaging its relationships with the U.S. and the European Union, still its biggest trading partners. Moscow’s and Beijing’s interests aren’t always aligned.

Older Chinese fondly recall Soviet support for China in the 1950s but also remember the bitter ideological split in 1960 and border conflict in 1969.

Though the two sides formed a new strategic partnership in 1996, only recently did they find common ground beyond supporting one another in the United Nations Security Council.

New tensions could arise over China’s expanding influence in Central Asian lands that once were part of the Soviet Union, and over Russian arms sales to India and Vietnam, neighbors of China that have boundary disputes with it.

Still, some analysts say that by staying out of the way in Ukraine, Beijing has ensured that Moscow will remain neutral over China’s flaring territorial disputes in Asia. And for the moment, both sides have an interest in playing up the merits of their governance models.

Liu Xiaohu, the 28-year-old author of another biography, “Putin’s Iron Fist,” which came out this year, says many young Chinese feel frustrated by what they see as their government’s failure to respond to past foreign provocations, such as the U.S. bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999.

“It’s not that Chinese people instinctively want or need a strong leader: It’s that the country needs one at this period of time,” he says.

Teenager Joshua Wong picks up democracy baton in Hong Kong

Joshua Wong: 'Students should stand on the front line in every century'

Joshua Wong looks like any other university student in Hong Kong. Wearing a black T-shirt and jeans, the young man worries about the dying battery on his Samsung phone while sipping a cappuccino in a Kowloon café.

The 17-year-old freshman badly needs his phone to stay on. As activists have challenged Beijing over its controversial plan for political reform in Hong Kong, he has become one of the leading voices of his generation advocating democratic reform.

Since founding a student movement called Scholarism in 2011 when he was 14, he has published a book called I am not a Hero, hosts a radio programme, writes a column, and does interviews – all of which drain his time and his phone power.

Even though critics agree that China will not reverse course by allowing critics of Beijing to run for chief executive of Hong Kong, Mr Wong says students in the former British colony should continue to fight for greater rights.

“Political reform is the core problem for every issue,” says Mr Wong. “Everyone knows that under the Chinese Communist party, there is a lack of possibility to fight [for] true universal suffrage in the end . . . but students should stand on the front line in every century,” he says.

Students across Hong Kong on Monday launched a weeklong civil disobedience campaign to draw more attention to the democracy battle. China last month agreed to introduce universal suffrage – one person, one vote – for the election of chief executive, the top political job in the territory.

Joshua Wong, 17, is the founder of pro-democracy student group Scholarism. In 2012, he led as many as 120,000 people in a protest that overturned a pro-Communist school curriculum in Hong Kong.

But the plan includes conditions that essentially make it impossible for a pro-democracy campaigner to get on the ballot.

Mr Wong does not expect Beijing to change its mind and allow ordinary people to pick candidates for chief executive, saying Chinese president Xi Jinping “will not give universal suffrage to Hong Kong citizens”. But he urges his peers to continue the cause.

“We fight for our goal without analysing the possibility of success,” says Mr Wong. “If . . . you have to consider the possibility to reach the goal, you should not involve [yourself] in the social movement or student movement.”

Now, Wong aims to ignite a wave of civil disobedience among Hong Kong's students to pressure China into giving the city full universal suffrage.

Fighting the Chinese government and the pro-Beijing government in Hong Kong is a Sisyphean struggle but Mr Wong has won before – in a high-profile protest that catapulted the young man to fame.

In 2012 he became the public face of a mass campaign against a Hong Kong government plan to introduce “national education”, a patriotic curriculum that critics said was an effort to brainwash local people about the Communist party. The movement forced CY Leung, Hong Kong’s chief executive, to back down.

“It is not common for a 15-year-old student to lead the movement of civil disobedience,” says Mr Wong confidently, before adding that he has just met a 12-year-old who wants to join his group. “Only in Hong Kong . . . can such a situation occur. In America or England, no one expects a 12-year-old to join a strike.”

17-year-old students Agnes Chow and Ivan Tan are members of Scholarism. "After joining Scholarism, I've become braver than before," Chow told CNN last year.

We fight for our goal without analysing the possibility of success. If . . . you have to consider the possibility to reach the goal, you should not involve [yourself] in the social movement or student movement

His 2012 campaign rallied more than 100,000 people to demonstrate on the streets of Hong Kong and staged an occupation outside government headquarters that included some hunger protests.

During the height of the stand-off, Mr Wong had a widely publicised debate with Mr Leung, where the media-savvy student refused to shake his hand to avoid the impression that he had been co-opted.

Although many of Hong Kong's students are not old enough to remember the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989, they nonetheless participate in marches like the city's annual June 4th vigil.

“He sounds like a sound recorder and always responds with the same wording,” Mr Wong says of Mr Leung, adding that he has no interest in meeting Xi Jinping to discuss the current political battle.

Castigated by Chinese media with sobriquets such as “buffoon”, he says his idol is Wang Dan, one of the student leaders during the Tiananmen Square protests. But Mr Wong says Scholarism, now a group of 300 high-school and university students, does not want the kind of violent outcome that occurred in Beijing in 1989.

“If the soldiers come, we would all go back home . . . we don’t want to see blood,” says Mr Wong.

24-year-old Samuel Li is the former secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students. "I have been in contact with activists in China," he told CNN last year. "They are really interested in social movements in Hong Kong."

While he vows to continue his fight, he rues the pressures of his role. He describes himself as a normal kid who grew up playing Gameboy and watching television. In between yawns, he says he spends 18 hours a day on his studies and political activities. Asked how he spends his leisure time, he half jokes, “sleep and sleep”.

“Only students can bear such a burden. It’s really tiring,” he says, before picking up his now-charged phone to arrange his political meetings for later in the day.

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