Dissident Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo “In Critical Condition”
Mimi Lau, SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
Ailing Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo “is in a critical condition,” the Chinese hospital treating the dissident said on Monday, ordering its medical staff to be ready to resuscitate him. In a statement released by the First Hospital of China Medical University, the medical team said it was their view that the patient “is in a critical condition,” the first time the term has been used to describe Liu’s condition since it worsened rapidly last week. The hospital said an MRI scan of Liu’s liver suggested that he was an unsuitable candidate for radiotherapy. The opinion countered assessments by foreign medical experts on the weekend that other options such as intervention and radiotherapy could be pursued if Liu’s liver function improved. Asked on Monday if Liu would be allowed to go overseas for treatment, Reuters reported that foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said: “China hopes relevant countries will respect China’s sovereignty and will not use individual cases to interfere with China’s internal affairs.”
International NGOs China Operations Hit By Registration Delays Under New Law
Christian Shepherd & Michael Martina, REUTERS
Some international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in China are suspending operations, cancelling events and losing partnerships in the country six months after the government introduced a law requiring them to register with the police. To register, the groups must first approach a government ministry from a provided list and ask it to become a “supervisory body” that will vet financial and operational details of the NGO’s work before filing them with the Ministry of Public Security. Beijing says the law boosts Chinese state support for foreign NGOs and only need worry a handful of illegal groups whose political and religious work harms China’s national security. But the majority of the dozen NGOs approached by Reuters for this article say the law, which came in on January 1, has been a bureaucratic nightmare and appears to be aimed at making it more difficult for them to operate in China. Some NGOs say the ministries are often reluctant to take on the sponsor’s role. When foreign NGOs limit their operations in China it can not only curb the direct flow of funds into projects but can also hurt their Chinese non-profit partners. Many of these partnerships have been instrumental in establishing building blocks of modern Chinese society in areas such as education and healthcare.
Asia Society Blames Staff For Barring Hong Kong Activist’s Speech
Austin Ramzy, THE NEW YORK TIMES
A week after a leading democracy activist in Hong Kong was barred from speaking at a literary event at the local chapter of the Asia Society, embroiling the group in accusations of censorship, the organization sought to tamp down the controversy on Friday. The event, to feature Joshua Wong, a leader of the 2014 pro-democracy demonstrations, was planned for the release of “Hong Kong 20/20: Reflections on a Borrowed Place,” a collection of work from writers discussing the 20th anniversary of the former British colony’s return to Chinese control. Jason Y. Ng, president of PEN Hong Kong, the literature and free speech group behind the anthology, said the organization decided to change venues because of the ban. “We couldn’t let that happen because it goes against what we stand for,” Mr. Ng said. “It’s really hard for me to explain to Joshua or any other contributor that you can contribute, you can write, but you can’t read at the launch.” The Asia Society, based in New York, issued a statement on Friday that said it took the issue “very seriously,” while blaming “an error in judgment at the staff level” for the decision.
North Korea And Its Weapons Programs Are Now A Fact Of Life
Max Fisher, THE NEW YORK TIMES
North Korea’s once-unthinkable nuclear and missile capabilities are, as long as the country wants, here to stay. With each North Korean nuclear or missile test, American officials go through a ritual that appears increasingly at odds with reality. They declare that they will not tolerate the rogue programs they have demonstrated little ability to slow, much less remove. They organize more of the talks or sanctions that have failed to alter North Korea’s strategic calculus. And they issue threats that, if carried out, would either change little or risk an all-out war. But the best that Washington can hope for, analysts and former officials increasingly say, may be to freeze the program in place. Even this would most likely come at a steep cost, a grim recognition both that the threat is severe and that American leverage is limited.
North Korean Executives’ Children Avoid Military Service
RADIO FREE ASIA
Young North Koreans from well-connected families are avoiding military service in growing numbers, often by claiming illness, in a trend that is fueling social tensions, North Korean sources say. The practice is now common among the children of People’s Committee and Administrative Committee officials at the city or county level, a resident of North Hamgyong province told RFA’s Korean Service. “Some executives’ children regularly return home from their military base for medical reasons, and they eventually get discharged,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “North Koreans excused from military service for medical reasons are deemed not eligible for later political work, but have no problem finding positions as administration executives or as workers in trade,” the source said. One young North Korean conscripted in May from Chongjin city’s Sinam district returned home only two months later, the source said, adding that the young man’s father, surnamed Park, is employed as a labor department officer for the district’s Administrative Committee. “Officer Park’s son was sent back for ‘medical reasons’ and is now lounging around at home,” he said. “His friends are also executives’ children who have avoided military service. He is not being treated in a friendly way by his neighbors, though.”
Kim Jong-un: The Hardest Intelligence Target
Amy Zegart, THE ATLANTIC
North Korea lit some nasty fireworks on July 4th, successfully testing a long-range missile capable of hitting Alaska. The test sent jitters up the spines of American national security officials—for good reason. The Hermit Kingdom hasn’t yet been able to put a nuclear warhead atop an intercontinental ballistic missile, but it is getting there faster than intelligence analysts expected. All the trend lines are bad. Yields from North Korea’s nuclear tests are getting larger. Its arsenal is too, with an estimated 20-25 weapons already, and enough fissile material to crank out a new nuke about every two months. Meanwhile, launch times are getting shorter and missiles are flying longer—much longer. The big question is what the North Korean leader intends to do. Penetrating the inner workings of Kim Jong-un’s mind is an old-school challenge, not a high-tech one. North Korea’s nuclear program is a terrifying reminder that technology can only go so far; that human intentions can be unfathomable, even to ourselves; and that divining them is an art, not a science.
Wrong China Policy: White House Calls Xi Jinping President of Taiwan
Tom Phillips, THE GUARDIAN
Donald Trump hailed his “wonderful relationship” with Xi Jinping during talks at the G20—although his felicitations were undermined when the White House mistakenly referred to the Communist party chief as the president of Taiwan. Trump and the Chinese Communist Party leader met for more than 90 minutes in Hamburg on Saturday afternoon with North Korea’s nuclear program and trade dominating the agenda. Trump struck a superficially friendly note, despite mounting tensions between the world’s top two economies. “It’s an honor to have you as a friend,” he told Xi according to a statement from the White House press secretary. However, the US statement contained a critical error. Rather than referring to Xi by his correct title—President of the People’s Republic of China—it identified him as president of the Republic of China, the official name for Taiwan.
A Pope And A President In Poland
Peggy Noonan, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The greatest speeches given in Poland in the modern era were delivered in June 1979 by a pope. Ten months into his papacy, John Paul II sweetly asked the government of Poland for permission to journey home from Rome to visit his people. Europe was divided between the politically free and the unfree, on one side the democracies of Western Europe, on the other the communist bloc. Poland had been under the Soviet yoke since the end of World War II. Years later Lech Walesa was asked about the impact of the pope’s trip. Poland, he said, always knew that communism could not be reformed but could be defeated. “We knew the minute he touched the foundations of communism, it would collapse.” And so to President Trump’s speech in Warsaw. Near the top he deftly evoked John Paul’s 1979 visit and the sermon that brought on the chants. “A million Polish people did not ask for wealth. They did not ask for privilege. Instead, one million Poles sang three simple words: ‘We want God!’” He called the Polish people “the soul of Europe.” It was a grown-up speech that said serious things.
Venezuelan Opposition Gather To Celebrate Release of Leopoldo López
Anatoly Kurmanaev, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Thousands of opposition supporters gathered in the capital Sunday to commemorate the 100th day of antigovernment protests and celebrate the release from jail of opposition leader Leopoldo López. Mr. López was moved from the Ramo Verde military prison to house arrest Saturday morning in a surprise move that could break the political deadlock gripping the country. One of the country’s most popular politicians, Mr. López was serving a nearly 14-year sentence for allegedly instigating violence at protests in 2014, charges he denies. “After all the resistance, all the work, we’re seeing a step that was achieved by this struggle in the street,” his wife Lilian Tintori, told reporters at the rally as she fought back the tears. “We will continue our fight until the liberation of all political prisoners and justice for the victims” of repression, she said. Ms. Tintori said she started crying when Mr. Lopez was unexpectedly brought home at 3 a.m. on Saturday, accompanied by two top lieutenants of President Nicolás Maduro, siblings Delcy and Jorge Rodriguez. Ms. Tintori said there was no political negotiation to free Mr. Lopez.
Venezuela’s Maduro Orders State Workers To Vote For Controversial Assembly
Alexandra Ulmer, REUTERS
Venezuela’s unpopular President Nicolás Maduro has said all state workers must take part in a vote on July 30 for candidates to his controversial new superbody assembly, seeking to avoid an embarrassingly low turnout in a country seething with discontent. Maduro has called for the Constituent Assembly, with powers to reform the constitution and supersede other institutions, in what he says is an attempt to bring peace after three months of anti-government protests in which at least 90 people have died. Opponents say the leftist president is trying to formalize a dictatorship in the South American OPEC nation through what they view as a sham poll. They plan a rival, unofficial referendum on July 16 to give Venezuelans a say on his plan. Maduro has been trying to drum up his base, which mostly encompasses state workers and poorer Venezuelans. “If there are 15,000 workers, all 15,000 workers must vote without any excuses,” he told red-shirted supporters in the jungle and savannah state of Bolivar on Thursday night.
Venezuela Inflation So Far This Year At 176 Percent: Opposition
Alexandra Ulmer, REUTERS
Inflation in Venezuela’s crisis-hit economy was 176 percent in the first half of 2017, the opposition-led congress said on Friday in the absence of official data. Economic hardship in Venezuela, where there are severe food shortages, is helping fuel opposition protests that have led to at least 90 deaths in the last three months. Various factors underlay the six-month price rise, including excess money-printing by the central bank to fund campaigns for Maduro’s controversial new congress as well as a recent devaluation of the bolivar, opposition lawmaker Angel Alvarado said. “These levels of inflation and the acceleration of price increases are not only impoverishing Venezuelans, they’re truly fueling hunger,” said Alvarado, an economist. June’s inflation was 21.4 percent, he added, presenting the latest opposition-calculated index.
Vietnam Police Detain Blogger For Anti-State Propaganda, Mother Says
Robert Birsel, REUTERS
Vietnamese police have arrested a blogger for posting anti-state material on the internet, his mother said on Friday, as part of a crackdown on critics of the country’s Communist rulers. Tran Hoang Phuc, 23, was arrested in Hanoi for storing material and using the internet to spread propaganda videos against the government, Phuc’s mother told Reuters, citing a police arrest notification. The mother, who identified herself only as Ut, said she had been told Phuc was arrested last week. Several dissidents and bloggers have in recent days shown support for Phuc in posts on their Facebook pages. Police were not immediately available for comment. Despite sweeping economic reforms and increasing openness toward social change, including gay, lesbian and transgender rights, Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party retains tight media censorship and it does not tolerate criticism.