“Apartheid Without Racism:” How China Keeps Rural Folks Down
Mark Magnier, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
An epic property boom restricted to city dwellers has opened a wealth gap that continues to widen in China, setting back a state campaign to ease poverty and shunting rural dwellers from the middle-class dream. China’s system of hukou, or household registration, a decades-old legacy of the planned economy, binds most Chinese to their place of birth, and denies those outside China’s booming megacities the right to buy property inside them. That has largely shut them out of one of history’s biggest wealth transfers; 98% of Chinese housing is now in private hands from virtually none a generation ago. “Housing is everything in China,” said Southwestern University of Finance and Economics professor Li Gan. Unless the Communist Party privatizes land, which is unlikely, farmers will continue to lose ground, he said.
Facebook Briefly Suspends Account of Outspoken Chinese Billionaire
Paul Mozur, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Guo Wengui, a Chinese-born billionaire who lives in America, has recently publicized accusations of corruption against family members of top-ranking Chinese Communist Party officials. Last week, China’s government asked Interpol to issue a request for his arrest. On Friday, Facebook suspended Mr. Guo’s account. After Mr. Guo complained publicly, Facebook said the suspension had been a mistake, and his account was restored. The incident comes in the middle of a full-court press by the Chinese government to push back against the accusations from the eccentric billionaire.
Eight North Korean Defectors in China at Risk of Deportation: Rights Group
Ju-min Park and Michael Martina, REUTERS
Eight North Korean defectors in China face involuntary repatriation after being detained by Chinese police last month, the Human Rights Watch group and a pastor who has been assisting them said on Monday. Human Rights Watch said Chinese government authorities detained the eight North Koreans in mid-March during what appeared to be a random road check in northeastern China. The United Nations has said China is required under international law not to return defectors to North Korea, where they could face persecution, torture, and possibly death. China says North Korean defectors are illegal migrants who flee their country for economic reasons. North Korea calls them criminals and describes those who try to bring them to South Korea as kidnappers.
Volleyball Over, North Koreans Go Back to Work at Nuclear Site, Analysts Say
Choe Sang-Hun, NEW YORK TIMES
North Korea appears to have resumed work at its nuclear test site after a perplexing series of volleyball matches were held there, according to analysts who studied satellite images of the site, renewing concerns that a major weapons test could be imminent. Many observers had feared that North Korea would test a nuclear device at the site around April 15, the birthday of Kim Il-sung, the North’s founding president and the grandfather of the current leader, Kim Jong-un. But Mr. Kim’s government celebrated the day instead with a military parade in Pyongyang, the capital, during which a fleet of missiles were rolled out, including what analysts believed were never-before-seen long-range ballistic missiles.
Long Lines at North Korea Gas Stations Prompt Questions Over Potential Fuel Shortage
Mallory Shelbourne, THE HILL
North Koreans are reportedly experiencing long lines at the gas pump, prompting speculation over whether China is withholding fuel supplies in an effort to put pressure on President Kim Jung-un to curb his developing nuclear program. Gas prices were on the rise in Pyongyang on Friday as some stations restricted services, according to The Washington Post. North Korea depends on China for much of its fuel supply. The report said the reason for the long lines and restricted service is still unknown. News of the potential fuel shortage follows President Trump’s recent calls for China to do more to help solve the problem of a nuclear-armed North Korea.
Russia Vows to Get Ukrainian Separatists to Comply With Deal
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has vowed to use Moscow’s influence to get Ukraine’s separatist rebels to comply with a cease-fire deal. Lavrov made the promise at a news conference Monday with EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini after talks in Moscow. An American member of the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe’s monitoring mission was killed and two others wounded Sunday in eastern Ukraine’s separatist-controlled Luhansk region when their vehicle hit a mine. The US State Department has called on Russia to use its influence on the rebels to improve security in eastern Ukraine. Both the Russia-backed rebels and the Ukrainian government blamed each other for laying the mine. Fighting in eastern Ukraine has killed more than 9,900 people since it began in 2014.
Government Opponents Appeal to Venezuela’s Military as Chaos Grows
Mariana Zuniga and Nick Miroff, THE WASHINGTON POST
As opponents of President Nicolás Maduro confront his government with intensifying protests, they are also challenging him in a high-stakes battle for the sympathies of Venezuela’s armed forces. Opposition leaders are making unusually direct appeals to the country’s military leaders, imploring them to rein in the president and defy orders to suppress the demonstrations. Their calls have highlighted the central role of Venezuela’s powerful military commanders in the struggle for the country’s future. Aware of Venezuela’s history of military rebellions, Maduro has worked to secure the loyalty of commanders, granting them influential roles and benefits.
Amid Venezuela Unrest, Experts Worry That Criminals Will Acquire Military’s Weapons
Antonio María Delgado, MIAMI HERALD
The Venezuelan government’s decision to arm civilians to defend the country’s socialist revolution amid growing unrest is rekindling fears of terrorists and criminal organizations acquiring part of the nation’s arsenal, which include a large stockpile of shoulder-fired, surface-to-air missiles. Experts and US policy makers are concerned about the risk that some of these missiles—as well as thousands of modern assault rifles and banned anti-personnel mines—might fall in the hands of criminal groups under President Nicolás Maduro’s regime, with its rampant corruption, its lack of internal controls and the country’s rapidly deteriorating conditions.