Backing Away from a Fight, Trump to Honor One-China Policy
Simon Denyer and Philip Rucker, THE WASHINGTON POST
President Trump just backed down from what could have been a serious fight with China. On Thursday evening in Washington, he appeared to shy away from confrontation with Beijing by agreeing to honor the one-China policy, during a lengthy telephone call with Xi Jinping. The move is set to ease tensions between the world’s two most powerful nations: relations had been inflamed after Trump suggested he would only commit to the one-China policy if Beijing addressed his concerns about trade and currency issues.
A Chinese Medical Study Is Being Retracted for Relying on Organs Harvested from Executed Prisoners
Ephrat Livini, QUARTZ
Last year, a prestigious medical journal published research from Chinese surgeons involving 564 transplanted livers. Now, Liver International is retracting the study amid accusations that the livers were extracted from executed prisoners of conscience—people killed for their beliefs. The issue of illicit harvesting of human parts persists, and this week the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences is holding a summit on organ trafficking and transplant tourism.
China and Vatican Near Pivotal Deal on Bishops
Chun Han Wong, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Hong Kong signaled that the Vatican and Beijing are nearing an accord over how Chinese bishops are picked, a key step toward “normalizing” bilateral ties marred by six decades of estrangement. In a recent essay, Cardinal John Tong expressed optimism that the continuing dialogue “implies” a shift in Beijing’s policy on the Catholic Church toward recognizing the pope as “the highest and final authority in deciding on the candidates for bishops in China,” wrote Cardinal Tong, the Bishop of Hong Kong, in an essay published on his diocese’s website on Thursday.
Flynn Is Said to Have Talked to Russians About Sanctions Before Trump Took Office
Matthew Rosenberg and Matt Apuzzo, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Weeks before President Trump’s inauguration, his national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, discussed American sanctions against Russia, as well as areas of possible cooperation, with that country’s ambassador to the United States, according to current and former American officials. Throughout the discussions, the message Mr. Flynn conveyed to the ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak—that the Obama administration was Moscow’s adversary and that relations with Russia would change under Mr. Trump—was unambiguous and highly inappropriate, the officials said.
Ukrainian Librarian Under Russian House Arrest Takes Case to Court of Human Rights
Danuta Kean, THE GUARDIAN
Natalya Sharina, a Ukrainian librarian held under house arrest in Russia since October 2015, has taken her case to the European court of human rights in Strasbourg. Since her arrest in 2015, the Russian authorities have extended the order for Sharina, director of the Ukrainian Literature Library in Moscow, to be detained at home repeatedly, despite calls for her release. In a move roundly condemned by human rights groups, Sharina went on trial in November 2016 for incitement by stocking books banned in Russia and labelled extremist and “anti-Russian propaganda.”
Hollywood Seeks New Business Terms with China
Erich Schwartzel, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Hollywood will soon have its first chance in five years to change the terms of doing business in China, a politically fraught opportunity for studios to reap billions more from their most important foreign market. Any deal struck this year will likely cover a period in which China surpasses North America as the world’s No.1 movie market. The stakes couldn’t be higher for Hollywood, which is counting on China’s growth to pick up the slack of a stagnating domestic market and falling home-entertainment revenue.
US Detains 172 Cuban Migrants Following End of “Wet Foot, Dry Foot” Policy
Nora Gámez Torres, THE MIAMI HERALD
At least 172 Cuban nationals who tried to enter the United States following the end to an immigration policy known as “wet foot, dry foot” are now in detention facilities, awaiting for the results of their removal proceedings, federal agencies have confirmed. “Since January 14, there has been an increase of 172 Cuban nationals in ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] detention,” an ICE official said.
Venezuela Falls Behind on Oil-For-Loan Deals with China, Russia
Venezuela’s state-run oil company, PDVSA, has fallen months behind on shipments of crude and fuel under oil-for-loan deals with China and Russia, according to internal company documents reviewed by Reuters. The delayed shipments to such crucial political allies and trading partners—which together have extended Venezuela at least $55 billion in credit— provide new insight into PDVSA’s operational failures and their crippling impact on the country’s unraveling socialist economy.
Venezuela Heading for Cuba-Style Vote: Opposition
Venezuelan opposition leaders said Thursday the country is heading toward Cuban-style elections, with no real challengers to the ruling party, thanks to burdensome new rules governing how parties renew their registration. The accusation comes as the opposition stands to make major gains in upcoming regional elections, with Venezuela’s economy imploding and President Nicolás Maduro’s popularity plunging.
Increase in Chinese Visitors to Vietnam Eases Tensions
VOICE OF AMERICA
More visitors to Vietnam come from China than from any other country. The number of Chinese tourists going to Vietnam reached 250,000 last month, a 68 percent increase from the number in January 2016. The popularity of Vietnam with Chinese tourists is somewhat of a surprise. The two countries are involved in a territorial dispute in the South China Sea and have a long history of disputes and distrust.