China’s Xi To Roll Out His Own Brand Of “Political Thought” At 19th Congress
RADIO FREE ASIA
Communist Party leader Xi Jinping is gearing up for an important political meeting later in the year with ever-tighter policing of public speech, and plans to have his own version of political ideology enshrined in the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s constitution, analysts told RFA. The crackdown on any public comment not already sanctioned by the official media has been most starkly carried out in higher education, according to political commentator Wei Pu, who linked the trend to the 19th Party Congress expected in October. Earlier this month, authorities in Beijing held Zhu Delong, a deputy professor at the Capital Normal University, for five days’ administrative detention over posts he had made online criticizing a growing “cult of personality” around Xi. But Zhu failed to reappear when that five-day jail term, which can be handed down by police without trial, was up, fellow activists said.
The Communist Party Is Redefining What It Means To Be Chinese
Children sit with straight backs chanting in loud voices from the Dizi Gui, a classic Chinese text about obedience. At the end of class they bow low to an image of Confucius, hands clasped as if in prayer. A statue of the ancient sage watches over the playground, too: “Study the Dizi Gui, be a good Chinese,” reads a red banner. At the Zhengde summer camp in Jinan, in the eastern province of Shandong, children as young as five spend their day reciting verses, learning tai chi and watching cartoons with moral messages. Phones are banned “to prevent contamination of the mind,” says Yi Shugui, the headmaster, a former management consultant. At similar summer schools across China children learn calligraphy, traditional Chinese crafts and how to play ancient instruments. China is undergoing a cultural renaissance, much of it government-sponsored. For most of its history the Communist Party wanted to smash China’s past, not celebrate it. During the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s it sought to overturn the “four olds”: old customs, old culture, old habits and old ideas. Temples, mansions and tombstones were ravaged, along with any artefacts or people associated with the bourgeois way of life. Small wonder that Communist ideology lost its appeal. The blistering pace of change in recent decades has kindled an anxiety that China is suffering from moral decay and a concomitant yearning for a revival of ancient values. The government is harnessing those feelings, using ancient rites and customs to spread favoured values.
Joshua Wong’s Mother Writes Letter To Son Blasting Hong Kong Government’s Pursuit Of Jailed Pro-Democracy Activists
Tony Cheung, SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
Imprisoned political activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung’s mother has urged her son to “follow the truth and be courageous,” as she expressed disappointment in the justice department’s decision to seek jail terms for young student leaders. Grace Ng Chau-mei said the government’s pursuit of her son and two other prominent activists suggested the city had become “depraved.” In a letter written to her son before his sentence was handed down on Thursday, Ng said Wong, 20, had sacrificed personal and family time since first entering political activism in May 2011, for the sake of “building a more beautiful Hong Kong.” The letter was posted on Wong’s Facebook on Thursday night.
The US-North Korean Crisis Will Face A Major Test On Monday As Kim Jong-un Holds His Fire On Guam
Alex Lockie, BUSINESS INSIDER
North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, never explicitly said he would not fire missiles at the US territory of Guam, and a US-South Korea military drill that starts Monday may test his resolve and measure just how bold he’s willing to be. Ulchi-Freedom Guardian involves tens of thousands of troops from both nations drilling to achieve peak readiness in the case of conflict. Each year, the exercises expand slightly, and each year, North Korea issues threats in response. When North Korea announced last week that it had presented to Kim plans to strike at Guam, it included de-escalatory language that seemed to invite the US to tone down its military exercises. But as Heather Nauert, a State Department spokeswoman, said on Tuesday, the US has no plans to do so. Nauert repeated the US’s talking point on military exercises on the Korean Peninsula, saying “there’s no moral equivalency” between North Korea’s illegal nuclear and missile testing and the US’s regularly scheduled, internationally monitored, and completely legal bilateral drills.
Chinese Protest After North Korea Sanctions Bite
Emily Feng and Xinning Liu, THE FINANCIAL TIMES
Protests broke out among Chinese seafood importers on the border with North Korea this week as trucks bearing fresh crabs, mollusks and squid from the reclusive regime were turned away as new sanctions begin to bite. “It was completely laughable,” said Lang Yulin, an importer from Hunchun, a Chinese city that borders North Korea. “We received the notice of the customs ban only half an hour before everything was totally shut down.” Mr Lang said that because of the lack of warning, he has Rmb5m ($750,000) of seafood products held up on the North Korean side of the border. Angered by the sanctions, Chinese seafood importers took to the streets this week to protest, some holding red banners saying: “Money earned from our blood and sweat is sitting on the bridge. Please, customs let us go.”
The Real Revolution In North Korea Is Rise Of Consumer Culture
Eric Talmadge, ASSOCIATED PRESS
Facing even more international sanctions and a flood of Chinese imports that has generated a huge trade imbalance, the North Korean economy may be in a bubble that could soon burst. Prices for gasoline imports have soared more than 200 percent in less than six months, the AP has found. The wealth brought by new markets could also come with political instability. Kim Jong-un’s slogan of “Parallel Development”—guns and butter, so to speak—reflects an inescapable reality of his era. In the 1990s, reeling from floods, famine and the collapse of the Soviet Union, North Korea could no longer afford to provide its citizens with basic needs. North Koreans turned to grassroots barter and trade, which has swollen into today’s market economy. Life in rural North Korea is still marked by far more hardship and scarcity than in its urban areas. Yet there is, surprisingly, a bustling, almost booming, feeling in much of the country. North Korean factories are putting a new priority on making more and better daily-life products. Managers, meanwhile, have more freedom to decide what to make, how much to pay workers and how to forge profitable partnerships.
Steve Bannon Says US In Economic War With China
The United States is in an economic war with China, US President Donald Trump’s chief political strategist has said, warning Washington is losing the fight but is about to hit China hard over unfair trade practices. In an wide-ranging interview with prospect.org published Wednesday, Steve Bannon also weighed in on worsening tensions between the US and North Korea, and the furor caused by white nationalist marches in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend. “We’re at economic war with China,” said Bannon in the interview published in Wednesday. “It’s in all their literature. They’re not shy about saying what they’re doing. One of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years and it’s gonna be them if we go down this path,” he was quoted as saying. “If we continue to lose it, we’re five years away, I think, 10 years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we’ll never be able to recover.”
Top US General: North Korean Nuclear Attack Is “Unimaginable”
Elizabeth Mclaughlin, ABC NEWS
The top US general on Thursday warned that allowing North Korea to launch a nuclear attack on the United States would be “unimaginable.” Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters in Beijing that President Trump had asked military commanders to “develop credible viable military options” and “that’s exactly what we’re doing.” But Dunford also called a military solution to the North Korean threat “horrific.” Dunford’s comments came at the same time South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the US has promised to seek its approval before taking military action against North Korea. The US has over 28,000 service members stationed in South Korea. “I would consider that North Korea is crossing a red line if it launches an intercontinental ballistic missile again and weaponizes it by putting a nuclear warhead on top of the missile,” Moon said Thursday. Trump has promised “fire and fury” in response to recent North Korean threats. But his chief strategist Steve Bannon said in an interview published Wednesday night that there are no military solutions to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula.
At Least 37 Dead In Fight Between Inmates And Security At Venezuela Prison
Fabiola Sanchez, TIME
At least 37 people were killed during clashes between armed inmates and security forces at a small prison in southern Venezuela, the state’s governor said Wednesday. Gov. Liborio Guarulla said the bloodshed came after fighting erupted between inmates and their jailers Tuesday night in the prison in Puerto Ayacucho, capital of sparsely populated Amazonas state. He said security forces raided the facility seeking to restore order in the prison, where the inmates had seized control several weeks ago. “At midnight special forces showed up and through the night we heard gunfire and explosions,” Guarulla told The Associated Press. The office of Venezuela’s chief prosecutor said on social media that it was investigating the incident. It said 14 prison guards were also injured. Guarulla said the city’s morgue had been overwhelmed trying to handle so many bodies.
Venezuela’s Maduro Regime Steps Up Crackdown On Dissidents
Fabiola Zerpa and Andrew Rosati, BLOOMBERG
Venezuela’s government is intensifying its crackdown on critics of President Nicolas Maduro, ordering the detention of the husband of former Public Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz and separate investigations of prominent opposition leaders. Ortega said in a post on her Twitter account that secret police were raiding the family’s home in Caracas. The Supreme Court later ordered the arrest of her lawmaker husband, German Ferrer, accusing him of leading an extortion ring out of the prosecutor’s office. “It’s revenge for fighting against the totalitarianism that exists in Venezuela,” she wrote on Twitter, blaming the raid on Maduro and Diosdado Cabello, a high-ranking socialist party official who brought the suit against her husband. Ortega had been the highest-ranking member of Maduro’s administration to break ranks with the government before she was deposed this month by a newly convened legislative superbody, the Constituyente. She has since fled and gone into hiding. The raid came just as a so-called truth commission established by the Constituyente announced investigations into Julio Borges, president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, and Freddy Guevara, the Assembly’s vice president, claiming that they promoted violent anti-government protests that have left more than 100 dead.
Wuilly Arteaga Reports That The Video Was Recorded Under Duress And Was Edited
“In the program of Diosdado Cabello came a video of me that is not false, but neither is the edition false,” he said. The musician denounced that the audiovisual material was recorded under duress and the action was repeated several times from the first day he was confined in the military headquarters. “GNB officials started calling me to interview me. They told me that I should always have the same clothes,” he said. “I am willing to declare what is necessary to maintain my message of freedom, art and union for Venezuela, that no one will be able to misrepresent using false things,” said the young man. Arteaga reported that he witnessed the rape of a young woman who was held with him in a GNB tank, on July 27 when he was arrested. “I just felt the movements and I heard her screams because she was behind my back,” he said.
Police Believe Thieves Steal Venezuela Zoo Animals To Eat Them
Venezuela authorities are investigating the theft of animals from a zoo in western state of Zulia that were likely snatched to be eaten, a further sign of hunger in a country struggling with chronic food shortages. A police official said two collared peccaries, which are similar in appearance to boars, were stolen over the weekend from the Zulia Metropolitan Zoological Park in the sweltering city of Maracaibo near the Colombian border. “What we presume is that they (were taken) with the intention of eating them,” Luis Morales, an official for the Zulia division of the National Police, told reporters on Tuesday. The chaotic collapse of the country’s socialist economic model has created chronic food shortages that have fueled malnutrition and left millions seeking food anywhere they can find it, including in trash cans and dumpsters. President Maduro blames food shortages on opposition protests that have blocked streets and highways and a broader “economic war” led by adversaries with the help of Washington.
After Maduro’s Secret Trip To Cuba, Opposition Leaders Want To Know: “Why Did He Go?”
Nora Gamez Torres, THE MIAMI HERALD
The unannounced visit to Cuba earlier this week by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, apparently to pay homage to the late Fidel Castro, has rekindled criticisms about the the Cuban government’s strong influence on Venezuela’s crisis. “Mr. Maduro traveled secretly last night to Cuba. Why did he go? He’s been to Havana more than Maracaibo or San Cristobal,” Venezuelan opposition leader and Miranda state Gov. Henrique Capriles wrote in Spanish on a Tweet posted Monday. “Why did Mr. Maduro go?” Capriles added in a video posted Wednesday on Periscope. “To hand over more of our oil? To commit our armed forces even more, asking for reinforcements from the Cuban military so they can continue… to command the Venezuelan military?” In the midst of the deepening political crisis in Venezuela, opposition activists in both countries have stepped up their complaints about what they allege to be the noxious influence of Havana over domestic affairs in the South American country.
Vietnam Criticizes US Religious Freedom Report
Vietnam on Thursday criticized the US State Department’s annual international religious freedom report, describing it as containing partial and false information about the country. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang told reporters that the government respects and ensures citizens’ right to freedom of religion and belief, which is enshrined in the constitution and ensured in practice. The State Department’s report, which covers religious freedom around the world, said this week that the Vietnamese communist government continued to limit activities of unrecognized religious groups and that religious leaders, particularly those of unregistered groups and those from ethnic minorities, reported various forms of governmental harassment, including physical assaults, short-term detention, prosecutions, monitoring, restrictions on travel and property seizure or destruction. Hang noted that the report did make some adjustments that are “close to reality” in Vietnam. “However, it’s regretted that the report still contained partial judgments, citing false information about Vietnam,” she said.