Foreign Passports Offer Little Protection for China’s Elite
Ben Bland, FINANCIAL TIMES
Like many wealthy Chinese businesspeople seeking an insurance policy against their capricious if often profitable political system, Xiao Jianhua acquired foreign citizenship. But if the billionaire investor thought that having Canadian citizenship and a diplomatic passport from Antigua and Barbuda would protect him from the powerful and ruthless Chinese security forces, he was sorely mistaken. Mr. Xiao’s abduction from Hong Kong two weeks ago by Chinese agents has both highlighted the growing demand for foreign passports and the lack of protection they provide to those who fall foul of Communist Party Leader Xi Jinping’s crackdown on corruption and political rivals.
Inflation Picks Up to Multi-Year Highs In China As Central Bank Eyes Tighter Policy
Elias Glenn, REUTERS
China’s producer price inflation picked up more than expected in January to near six-year highs as prices of steel and other raw materials extended a torrid rally, adding to views that global manufacturing activity is building momentum. China consumer inflation also rose more than expected, nearing a three-year high as fuel and food prices jumped, data showed on Tuesday. But mounting price pressures in China and many other countries have sparked talk of tighter monetary policy this year, after years of super-loose settings aimed at reviving economic growth.
As Wet Foot/Dry Foot US Policy Ends, Cuba Ponders What Trump May Do
Rick Jervis, USA TODAY
While President Donald Trump’s Cuba policy remains in flux, Cubans on the island have mixed feelings about whether the “wet foot/dry foot” policy that governed US/Cuba relations since 1995 should be reinstated. Some Cubans said the policy was one of the few pathways they had to a better life. Other people on the island applauded the end to a rule they say motivated thousands of Cubans to attempt a perilous seaborne journey to the US. Trump has said he will review US agreements with Cuba, but hasn’t commented directly on the wet foot/dry foot policy.
Chinese Marriage Proposals Become Prostitution Nightmares for Some Lao Girls
RADIO FREE ASIA
Lao high school girls are being lured into China with promises of rich husbands only to find they have been sold to a brothel or forced into street prostitution, RFA’s Lao Service has learned. Chinese involvement in sex trafficking is a new wrinkle for Laos, as Thailand has been the most common destination for young women or girls forced into prostitution.
North Korean Leader’s Half Brother Killed in Malaysia: Source
Ju-min Park and Joseph Sipalan, REUTERS
The estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been killed in Malaysia, a South Korean government source told Reuters on Tuesday. Kim Jong-nam, the older half-brother of the North Korean leader, was known to spend a significant amount of his time outside the country and had spoken out publicly against his family’s dynastic control of the isolated state. He was believed to be in his mid-40s.
Trump Calls North Korea “Big Problem” Following Missile Launch
VOICE OF AMERICA
US President Donald Trump called North Korea a “big, big problem” following the communist nation’s latest ballistic missile launch. During a news conference Monday at the White House with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump said his administration will deal with North Korea “very strongly.” He did not give further details.
Violence Flares in War-Weary Ukraine as US Dithers and Russia Pounces
Shaun Walker, THE GUARDIAN
The past fortnight has seen a new flurry of violence in Ukraine, linked in Kiev to a Russia apparently newly emboldened by the election of Donald Trump in the US. More than 30 people are believed to have died in the latest wave of violence, including civilians on both sides of the lines, as heavy artillery banned by a two-year-old ceasefire has been wheeled back into place.
Michael Flynn Resigns as National Security Adviser
Maggie Haberman and Matthew Rosenberg, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Michael T. Flynn, the national security adviser, resigned on Monday night after it was revealed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other top White House officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States. Mr. Flynn, who served in the job for less than a month, said he had given “incomplete information” regarding a telephone call he had with the ambassador in late December about American sanctions against Russia, weeks before President Trump’s inauguration.
Prominent Vietnamese Rights Defender Released from Prison
RADIO FREE ASIA
Vietnamese authorities released prominent human rights defender and blogger Bui Thi Minh Hang on Saturday after she served a three-year prison sentence. The activist had been held in Gia Trung prison camp in the country’s Central Highlands since Feb. 11, 2014, on charges of “causing public disorder” and obstructing traffic when she and two other bloggers were on their way to visit a former political prisoner. She was later sentenced in August of that year to up to three years in jail after a one-day trial in Dong Thap in the Mekong Delta region, on what rights activists said were phony and politically motivated charges.