China Repatriates 70 North Korean Defectors
Kim Ga Young, DAILY NK
Recently, 70 North Korean defectors were detained in Tumen’s border detention center in Jilin Province, China. In total, there were 50 adults and 20 under-aged individuals ranging from infants to teenagers. They were arrested in various Chinese regions including Yunnan, Liaoning, and Jilin provinces. Following a month in detention, they were all sent back to North Korea in smaller groups. A source familiar with North Korean affairs in China who has been observing the local situation told Daily NK on July 25 that the repatriation to North Korea appears to have been almost completed. A source in a North Korea-related organization in South Korea who asked for anonymity said, “The families of the detained refugees hesitate to campaign for their release as they don’t trust that the government will take specific measures, and also because they are worried that media reports may further antagonize China. Some argued that it would be better to present a petition after the repatriation is completed, showing just how hopeless it is to try and prevent repatriation.”
Dozens Of Ethnic Kazakhs Detained Amid Security Crackdown In China’s Xinjiang
Qiao Long, RADIO FREE ASIA
Chinese authorities in the troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang have detained dozens of ethnic Kazakhs in recent weeks amid an ongoing security crackdown targeting anyone with ties beyond China’s borders, sources told RFA. Sources in China and neighboring Kazakhstan say that the China-based Kazakh ethnic minority, many of whom are Muslims, have recently been targeted in a similar manner to the mostly Muslim Uyghur ethnic group, with a campaign of detentions for anyone with overseas connections. Guards patrolling the border between Xinjiang and neighboring Kazakhstan detained a Kazakh student who had access to the Quran on her smartphone, amid security checks in which travelers’ phones are being searched for banned content before they can cross the border. One source who witnessed the security checks at the Jimunai border checkpoint said border guards appeared to be targeting the mostly Muslim Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other ethnic minorities. The phones are searched by a computer to determine if they carry “terrorist propaganda” photos or videos, the source said.
Communist-Run Cuba Puts Brakes On Private Sector Expansion
Sarah Marsh, REUTERS
Communist-run Cuba said on Tuesday it was suspending issuing new licenses for certain private-sector activities from bed-and-breakfasts to restaurants until it had implemented new measures to curb wrongdoing such as tax evasion. The move marked a pause in Cuba’s seven-year-old push to expand self-employment in a bid to cut the bloated state payroll and boost the ailing, Soviet-style economy, and will come as a blow for many Cubans hoping to strike off on their own. It also hints at unease among some in the ruling Cuban Communist Party that free market reforms may have gone too far, amid a broader debate about rising inequality on the island. The average state monthly wage is $30, the same sum a BnB owner can charge visitors for a night’s stay. “The regulation states that new authorizations for a group of activities will not be given until the perfection of self-employment has been achieved,” the party newspaper Granma wrote.
Thai Officials Deny Reports On Abduction Of Laos-Based Activist
RADIO FREE ASIA
Thai officials on Monday publicly refuted reports that agents had abducted a hardcore activist linked to the pro-democracy Red Shirts who has lived in self-imposed exile in neighboring Laos for the past three years. Wutthipong Kachathamkhun (alias Ko Tee) apparently was abducted while he, his wife and a friend were getting out of a car at a residence in Laos, according to Chupong Teetuan, a supporter of the Red Shirts and an anti-monarchist who lives in the United States. “He was abducted Saturday night. His friend, Padet, and his wife were tied and left in a house,” Chupong said in a YouTube video posted on Sunday. “My Laotian source said the kidnappers were definitely not Laotian officials,” he said, adding that Ko Tee’s wife and friend were able to free themselves. Thai Army Commander-in-Chief Gen. Chalermchai Sitthisart rebuked the claims and denied knowledge of any abduction. “As far as I talked to the Supreme Commander and the secretary-general of the National Security Council (NSC), we do not have any knowledge on the issue. It is not our responsibility to trace how the claim happened,” he told reporters in Bangkok.
North Korean Missile Landed Near Passenger Jet’s Flight Path
There are new concerns about the safety of commercial passenger planes after North Korea’s latest missile test came dangerously close to an Air France jet’s flight path. The intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that Kim Jong-un’s regime launched on Friday flew for about 45 minutes before landing in the Sea of Japan—where the plane carrying hundreds of people had flown by just minutes earlier. As CBS News correspondent Kris Van Cleave reports, Air France has confirmed that the falling missile presented no danger to the flight, but the relatively close encounter is raising new questions—not just about North Korea’s future threat to foreign nations, but its current potential danger to air travelers. Pentagon officials have said the latest missile test by the North presented the biggest potential threat yet—demonstrating technology that could put the US mainland in range of the rogue state’s rockets. Officials believe the Hwasong-14 missile tested could possibly even reach New York.
North Korea’s Evolving Ways To Get What It Wants And Needs
Hyung-jin Kim, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
North Korea has been condemned and sanctioned for its nuclear ambitions, yet has still received food, fuel and other aid from its neighbors and adversaries for decades. How does the small, isolated country keep getting what it wants and needs? Some put its success down to the extraordinary nuclear blackmail skills of a country whose leaders could be buying food instead of bombs and missiles. Some see the willingness of outsiders to help people in desperate need, regardless of how odious the government that rules them is, and others credit the feeling in South Korea that aid could improve ties. North Korea has had gradual economic growth in recent years and doesn’t appeal for foreign humanitarian assistance as much as it did in the past. Despite multiple rounds of UN sanctions, its leader, Kim Jong-un, has defiantly pushed his scientists to develop nuclear-tipped missiles capable of reaching the US heartland. It test-launched two intercontinental ballistic missile in the past month, and once Kim perfects such weapons, he may to try to extract bigger concessions from Washington.
Tibetan Self-Immolator Released After Serving Five-Year Prison Term In Sichuan
Kunsang Tenzin & Lhuboom, RADIO FREE ASIA
A Tibetan monk who set himself on fire in Sichuan in a 2011 protest challenging Chinese rule in Tibetan areas was freed from prison at the weekend after serving his full term, sources in the region said. Lobsang Kalsang, now in his early 20s, was released from Deyang prison on July 29 and returned to his home in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county the same day, a Tibetan living in the area told FA’s Tibetan Service. “Many Tibetans who learned of his sudden release gathered to welcome him with traditional scarves,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The [Chinese] authorities are trying their best to restrict news of his release in order to prevent high levels of publicity inside and outside Tibet,” the source said. Kalsang and fellow Kirti monastery monk Lobsang Konchok set themselves ablaze at a major intersection of the Ngaba county seat on Sept. 26, 2011 while shouting slogans calling for Tibetan freedom and the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, another local source told RFA. Soon afterward, Chinese police arrived and took them away, the source said, also speaking on condition of anonymity
US Would Like Dialogue With North Korea At Some Point: Tillerson
Yeganeh Torbati, REUTERS
The United States does not seek to topple the government of North Korea and would like to have a dialogue with Pyongyang at some point, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday. “We do not seek a regime change, we do not seek a collapse of the regime, we do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula, we do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th Parallel,” Tillerson told reporters at the State Department. “We are not your enemy…but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us, and we have to respond. And we hope that at some point they will begin to understand that and we would like to sit and have a dialogue with them.”
Trump Demands Maduro Regime In Venezuela Release “Illegally” Held Opposition Leaders
Daniel Chaitin, WASHINGTON EXAMINER
President Trump said Tuesday evening that the US demands the release of Venezuela opposition leaders after Venezuelan authorities seized them from their homes. “The United States condemns the actions of the Maduro dictatorship,” Trump said in a statement, referring to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. “Mr. Lopez and Mr. Ledezma are political prisoners being held illegally by the regime.” The arrests come one day after the US sanctioned Maduro following the election of a new legislature that can change the constitution of Venezuela. US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called the vote a “sham election” that “is another step toward dictatorship.”
Man Fired At Chinese Consulate In LA Before Taking Own Life
Michael Balsamo, ASSOCIATED PRESS
A man opened fire outside of the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles Tuesday morning before turning the gun on himself and taking his own life, police said. The man, a Chinese national, fired “multiple rounds” at the consulate building in the Koreatown neighborhood, said Officer Mike Lopez, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman. The man, whose name was not immediately released, then fatally shot himself in his car outside of the building, Lopez said. Investigators said no one else was injured in the shooting. Police could not immediately provide any additional information about the shooting or the man’s possible motive. Lopez said homicide detectives were conducting an investigation. A call to the consulate rang unanswered Tuesday afternoon. In 2011, a man was arrested after police said he fired nine shots at a security guard outside the same consulate, but only hit the building. Police said at the time that the man was protesting China’s human rights record.
As Maduro Takes Venezuela Into Uncharted Waters, The Opposition Has Few Options
Anthony Faiola and Heather Long, THE WASHINGTON POST
The Trump administration on Monday imposed sanctions on President Nicolás Maduro, after an election that critics called a tipping point toward dictatorship. But even with international pressure building and Venezuela’s economy collapsing, beleaguered opposition activists here were facing a stark new challenge. How could they confront a socialist machine that now controls all branches of government? Citing Maduro’s “outrageous seizure of absolute power,” the US government froze any American assets he may have and banned Americans from doing business with him. The move came after Maduro heralded the Sunday vote creating a new super-congress made up entirely of government backers. The newly cast legislators included his wife and son. The body will have sweeping powers to rewrite the constitution and redraw Venezuela’s governing system.
Venezuela: A Nation Devoured By Socialism
Rich Lowry, THE NY POST
Venezuela is a woeful reminder that no country is so rich that it can’t be driven into the ground by revolutionary socialism. People are now literally starving—about three-quarters of the population lost weight last year—in what once was the fourth-richest country in the world on a per-capita basis. A country that has more oil reserves than Saudi Arabia is suffering shortages of basic supplies. Venezuela now totters on the brink of bankruptcy and civil war, in the national catastrophe known as the Bolivarian Revolution. The phrase is the coinage of the late Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, succeeded by the current Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro. The Chavistas have worked from the typical Communist playbook of romanticizing the masses while immiserating them. Runaway spending, price controls, nationalization of companies, corruption and the end of the rule of law—it’s been a master class in how to destroy an economy. The result is a sharp, years-long recession, runaway inflation and unsustainable debt. The suffering of ordinary people is staggering, while the thieves and killers who are Chavista officials have made off with hundreds of billions of dollars.
Vietnam Proposes Firing Vice Minister Amid Corruption Crackdown
Mai Nguyen, REUTERS
Vietnam’s ruling Communist party said on Monday that a former executive of electricity firm Dien Quang Lamp should be sacked from her current position as a vice-trade minister as it continues a crackdown on corruption. Public defamation and dismissal of high-ranking officials are rare in the one-party state but have become more frequent since last year as the party moves to tackle corruption, especially at inefficient state-owned enterprises. Deputy trade minister Ho Thi Kim Thoa might lose all of her positions at the ministry after the Central Inspection Committee found her responsible for several wrongdoings at the company and in the illegal appointment of a wanted former official. Thoa approved the appointment of former PetroVietnam Construction Joint Stock Corp chairman and ex-provincial leader Trinh Xuan Thanh, whom police said turned himself in on Monday after a 10-month international manhunt.