Echo Huang and Isabella Steger, Quartz
China’s crackdown on academic freedom has reached the world’s oldest publishing house. Cambridge University Press (CUP) said it has pulled over 300 articles and book reviews on its China site from the China Quarterly (CQ), one of the most prestigious journals in the China studies field, at the request of the government’s General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP). The news came to light after an undated screenshot of an email to CQ’s editorial board from the journal’s editor, Tim Pringle, went viral on social media today (Aug. 18). According to Pringle, CUP complied with the request so as to prevent the shutdown of the entire CUP site. Most of the articles in question relate to topics deemed sensitive to the Chinese Communist Party, such as the Cultural Revolution, Tiananmen Square, Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and date back to the 1960s, wrote Pringle, adding that CUP had received a similar request to take down more than a thousand e-books a few months earlier. Yang Guobin, a sociology professor at the University of Pennsylvania who is also a CQ editorial board member, wrote on social networking site Weibo yesterday (Aug. 17) after he received Pringle’s email: “This is one of the most important international publications in contemporary Chinese studies, yet it’s subject to such restrictions… This is unheard of. Isn’t the Chinese government trying to promote contemporary Chinese studies?”
Alin Tang, NEW YORK TIMES
The Chinese government thinks this company’s name literally goes too far: A Group of Youths in Baoji Holding a Cherished Dream That Under the Leadership of Uncle Niu They Will Create the Miracle of Life Network Technology Company Ltd. In the original Chinese, it is 39 characters long. And under guidelines issued this month by China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce, that’s a bit too much of a mouthful. The rules say new companies cannot register names that are paragraphs or long sentences, or that include sensitive language, including political terms. It also gives the government vague authority to fix “inappropriate” names as it sees fit. But Niu Xiaolu, a.k.a. Uncle Niu, is not concerned. “If I receive notice to shorten the name, I will try to keep it,” said Mr. Niu, whose company in Shaanxi makes condoms. “If I cannot, I will fix it according to regulations.” Names that discriminate against gender, race or ethnicity are prohibited, too, as are references to terrorism, separatism and extremism. Religious terms, the names of national leaders, illegal organizations and reactionaries are a no-go. And companies cannot use their names to imply they are nonprofit organizations.
China’s government is moving to curb domestic companies’ investments abroad in property, sports, entertainment and other fields, following a series of high-profile, multibillion-dollar acquisitions by Chinese firms. A document released Friday by the State Council, China’s Cabinet, was the latest move by regulators to tap the brakes on a string of foreign acquisitions, citing concerns that the companies involved may be taking on too much debt. One of those conglomerates, Wanda Group, became the world’s biggest cinema operator with its purchase of a majority stake in US chain AMC in 2012 for $2.6 billion. It added rival Carmike Cinemas last year in a $1.2 billion deal and also bought film production house Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion. The Cabinet document limits overseas investments in areas such as hotels, cinemas, the entertainment industry, real estate and sports clubs. It also bans outright investments in enterprises related to gambling and the sex industry. At the same time, it encourages companies to plow money into projects related to the “Belt and Road” project, President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy initiative that seeks to link China with other parts of Asia and eastern Europe through multibillion dollar investments in ports, highways, railways, power plants and other infrastructure.
American Honda Finance Corporation (American Honda) has settled with the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) over potential civil liability for 13 violations of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR), which that allegedly occurred between 2011 and 2014. What’s notable is that the matter involved the Canadian affiliate of the global company that was acting entirely independently and outside of the US Honda Canada Finance, Inc. (Honda Canada), a majority owned subsidiary of American Honda meaning that, under US law, Honda Canada is generally prohibited from doing business with Cuban parties just as if it were a US company. This is vastly different from the local laws applying to Canadian owned companies, under which there would typically be no prohibition on conducting business in Cuba or with a Cuban party. In fact, under the Canadian Foreign Extraterritorial Measures Act, a Canadian company like Honda Canada is prohibited from complying with a US embargo of Cuba. Therefore, while Honda Canada was complying with the laws of its home country over US law, OFAC still used its extraterritorial jurisdiction to go after the company.
Edith Lederer, WASHINGTON POST
North Korea warned the United States that it will never put its nuclear weapons program on the negotiating table as long as the Trump administration keeps up its “hostile policy and nuclear threat.” The warning came from North Korea’s deputy UN ambassador Kim In-ryong in the transcript of his conversation with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday. The transcript was sent to The Associated Press on Thursday by North Korea’s UN Mission. Guterres’s remarks were not included but the UN chief told reporters Wednesday that he had spoken to the North Koreans and the five other parties in talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear program that have been stalled since 2009. The secretary-general warned that tensions on the Korean peninsula are at their highest level in decades and said it’s important now “to dial down the rhetoric and to dial up diplomacy.” Ambassador Kim repeated to the secretary-general the decision by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to hold off on launching missiles into waters near the US territory of Guam.
Tim Kelly, REUTERS
The top US general restated Washington’s “ironclad commitment” to the security of its close Asian ally, Japan, on Friday amid regional tensions over North Korea, telling his counterpart in Tokyo that “an attack on one is an attack on both of us.” Fears about North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons programs have grown in recent weeks. Pyongyang has said it was considering plans to fire missiles over Japan towards the US Pacific territory of Guam, although North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appears to have delayed the decision. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and their Japanese counterparts agreed at a meeting in Washington on Thursday to work more closely on North Korea. “The most important thing it (the ministers’ meeting) did was reaffirm the primacy of our bilateral relationship here in Asia-Pacific,” US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford said at the start of a meeting with the Chief of Staff of Japan’s Self-Defence Forces, Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano.
Justin McCurry, THE GUARDIAN
The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has insisted that Washington is still considering using force against North Korea, in a public challenge to claims by the White House’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, that “there is no military solution” to the nuclear crisis. Following talks with Japan’s foreign and defense ministers in Washington on Thursday, Tillerson said the US was seeking a peaceful solution to the standoff with Pyongyang but reserved the right to use military force if political and economic pressure failed to curb the regime’s nuclear ambitions. The US was “prepared militarily” to respond, he said. In an interview with The American Prospectpublished on Wednesday, Bannon said of North Korea’s nuclear threats: “There is no military solution, forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.” Tillerson declined to respond directly to Bannon’s remarks but said he and the defense secretary, James Mattis, had Trump’s full support in keeping the military option open. “I think we have been quite clear as to what the policy and the posture towards North Korea is,” Tillerson told reporters. “Our approach has been endorsed by the president.” He repeated his warning that North Korea faced a “bleak future” if it did not agree to negotiate the dismantling of its nuclear weapons program, and that any diplomatic effort “has to be backed by a strong military consequence if North Korea chooses wrongly.”
Andres Oppenheimer, MIAMI HERALD
If you talk with Latin American presidents and top diplomats—as I did in recent days—you will conclude that President Donald Trump’s recent remark that he may consider a US military intervention in Venezuela was a moment of monumental stupidity that is already hurting the cause of freedom in that country. Trump’s reckless comment has already given Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro a magnificent propaganda victory. It has allowed Maduro to turn the conversation in Latin America away from Venezuela’s fall into a full-blown dictatorship, and toward the possibility of a US military intervention. Watching television in Peru and Argentina, I was amazed to see how Trump’s Aug. 11 remark that “I’m not ruling out a military option” in Venezuela has changed the conversation about the Venezuelan crisis in the region. Latin America’s most influential media, which until recently were focusing on Maduro’s break with constitutional law, are now talking about the history of US interventions in Latin America.
Corina Pons, REUTERS
Venezuela’s government has around $2 billion in available cash to make $1.3 billion in bond payments by the end of the year and to cover the import of food and medicine, according to documents reviewed by Reuters. The funds that could be used for debt payment include $1.3 billion in cash and IMF Special Drawing Rights held in central bank reserves, and $700 million in separate accounts that the central bank lists as “other financial assets,” according to a report by local firm Financial Synthesis. The figures show that Venezuela, which many economists and analysts believe is on the verge of default, has the resources on hand to cover this year’s sovereign bond payments. But making the payments will leave the government of President Nicolás Maduro with minimal hard currency to import basic consumer goods, which may fuel shortages of food and medicine and spur triple-digit inflation.
President Juan Manuel Santos, Straits Times
Until recently, Venezuela—the birthplace of the “Liberator” Simon Bolivar—was a free and rather wealthy country, boasting the world’s largest proven oil reserves and a marvelous people. It attracted millions of Colombian migrants seeking to escape the violence of the war against the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc). Today, those roles are being reversed. Just as Colombia’s 50-year war against the Farc is ending, Venezuela is collapsing economically, socially and politically. Colombia is the country with the most at stake in the crisis afflicting our neighbor and sister republic. Indeed, our countries are joined by every possible link: history, culture, economics and geography, with over 2,000km of shared border. We in Colombia always hope for Venezuela to prosper. That is why we—along with many other states and world leaders, including the Vatican and Pope Francis himself—are doing everything possible to encourage Venezuela’s government, led by President Nicolás Maduro, and the opposition to reach an honorable solution to the crisis. A new dictatorship cannot be allowed to perpetuate itself in the middle of Latin America, a continent that so recently achieved long-awaited peace. In the meantime, we weep for you, Venezuela.
Vishnu Som, NDTV
For the first time ever, the government of Vietnam today confirmed—albeit carefully—that it has acquired BrahMos anti-ship cruise missiles from India. At a time when Delhi and China are locked in their worst military confrontation in decades, sources in the Defence Ministry denied selling the missile systems for Vietnam, though they did not want to comment on record. The acquisition of the BrahMos will be seen by China as a defiant move by Vietnam to protect its claim to the disputed South China Sea, which Beijing claims entirely as its own. Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang, when asked a specific question on the acquisition of the BrahMos said earlier today, “The procurement of defence equipment by Vietnam is consistent with the policy of peace and self-defence and is the normal practice in national defence.” She added that the Vietnam-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership which includes co-operation in defence has “been making a practical contribution to peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region.” India’s BrahMos missiles are considered one of the most advanced missiles of its type. The Vietnamese government statement was widely interpreted local media as confirmation that the BrahMos missile deal, discussed for years, has climaxed. Senior Vietnamese journalists indicated to NDTV that the first batch of missiles may have arrived a few days ago.