Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Laureate, Is Said To Be Suffering Organ Failure
Austin Ramzy, NEW YORK TIMES
The health of the Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo is worsening, with his liver, kidney and breathing functions failing, the hospital that is treating him said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. Mr. Liu, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison for organizing a pro-democracy manifesto, was told he had late-stage liver cancer in May and moved to a hospital in the northeast Chinese city of Shenyang. The First Hospital of China Medical University said Wednesday that doctors had recommended tracheal intubation but that his family had rejected the request. Mr. Liu’s family could not be independently reached for confirmation of his condition. His wife, Liu Xia, has been under strict house arrest since he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2010. Photos apparently released by the hospital authorities show her with her husband in the hospital. He is experiencing septic shock and blood clotting, the hospital said. “The patient’s condition is life threatening, and the hospital is doing everything it can to save him,” the statement said. “Family members already know the situation.”
Why China’s Xi Jinping Fears Releasing Democracy Advocate Liu Xiaobo
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The international concern over the man China calls a “criminal” and sentenced to 11 years in prison for “subversive” writings puts Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, who must ultimately decide how to respond, on the spot. So far he refuses to let Mr. Liu go. While officials use the standard line that other countries should not interfere in China’s internal affairs, the state-controlled media are airing video of the foreign doctors examining Mr. Liu, a gross invasion of privacy, to bolster the case that he is receiving adequate care. The German Embassy protested the video in a statement, which read in part: “It seems that security organs are steering the process, not medical experts. This behavior undermines trust in the authorities dealing with Mr. Liu’s case, which is vital to ensure maximum success of his medical treatment.” Security is tight at the First Hospital of China Medical University in Shenyang, with journalists prevented from talking to Mr. Liu. Officially he received “medical parole,” but the hospital has become a different prison. His family reports being pressured to issue a statement that he is unfit to travel. There is a reason for this shameful treatment: Beijing has much to hide. If Mr. Liu goes abroad, he can describe the conditions he faced in prison and the authorities’ refusal to give him adequate follow-up treatment for hepatitis, which almost certainly led to his cancer. If the condition had been detected earlier, his treatment options and life expectancy today would be much better.
China’s Intelligence Networks in United States Include 25,000 Spies
Bill Gertz, WASHINGTON FREE BEACON
Beijing’s spy networks in the United States include up to 25,000 Chinese intelligence officers and more than 15,000 recruited agents who have stepped up offensive spying activities since 2012, according to a Chinese dissident with close ties to Beijing’s military and intelligence establishment. Guo Wengui, a billionaire businessman who broke with the regime several months ago, said in an interview that he has close ties to the Ministry of State Security (MSS), the civilian intelligence service, and the military spy service of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). “I know the Chinese spy system very, very well,” Guo said, speaking through an interpreter, in his first American interview. “I have information about very minute details about how it operates.” Guo said he learned about Chinese spy activities from Ma Jian, a former MSS vice minister, and Ji Shengde, former PLA military intelligence chief. Ma was director of MSS’s No. 8 Bureau, in charge of counterintelligence against foreign targets—including diplomats, businessmen, and reporters—until he was swept up in a Beijing power struggle in December 2015. He was expelled from the Communist Party and imprisoned in January. Guo said Ma was imprisoned because he had uncovered details of corruption by China’s highest-ranking anti-corruption official, Wang Qishan.
Panama’s Migration Chief Says The Country Is Not Closing The Door To Cubans But To Illegal Migration
Mario Penton, THE MIAMI HERALD
Javier Carrillo Silvestri, Panama’s head of migration services, is accustomed to order and hierarchy. So he is matter-of-fact when he says that his nation has nothing against Cuban migrants, but that those who enter the country without the legal documents will be returned to the island. “The Cuban who wants to come is welcome, but we ask that you do it in an orderly manner, legally, to avoid dealing with traffickers and the trafficking of people,” he says. Panama grants 500 visas per month at its consulate in Havana. In a few weeks, the number of visas will be doubled to 1,000. That is a much higher number of legal entry permits issued to Cubans than other citizens from Caribbean countries. “These people enter and leave the country without any problem. Panama is not closing the door to Cubans,” Carrillo said. “Panama is closing the door to irregular migration, no matter who it is. There is no distinction.”
Kim Jong-un’s Wife Is Seen For The First Time In Months
Kim Jong-un’s wife has been seen in public for the first time in four months shutting down speculation she had fallen out with the North Korean dictator. The pair attended a pop concert to celebrate the country’s successful test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The 27-year-old Ri Sol-ju has been seen less and less in public recently and went under the radar for nine months in 2016. Leading the bill at the concert was the Moranbong Band, an all-female ensemble that was hand-picked by Kim. Among the numbers performed were “Song of Hwasong Rocket” and “Make Others Envy Us,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported. The concert took place amid claims the launch was not as successful as first thought with South Korean intelligence saying the North has not secured re-entry capabilities for its ICBM program. Ri has become renowned for wearing expensive accessories and carrying designer handbags when she appears in public, encouraging women in the state to take a step away from common haircuts and dress codes. As well as sitting next to his wife, the dictator was flanked by weapons engineer Jang Chang-ha after promoting him following the successful launch of Hwasong-14, which is believed to be capable of reaching most of Alaska.
North Korea’s Missile Can Take Off But Might Not Survive Re-Entry, Seoul Says
Alastair Gale, WALL STREET JOURNAL
North Korea’s recent long-range missile test didn’t show Pyongyang is able to arm the device with a warhead that can survive the intense heat and vibration of re-entering the atmosphere, South Korea’s intelligence agency said. The assessment, given to South Korean lawmakers on Tuesday, contradicts an assertion by North Korea and suggests the isolated state may still have a significant technical hurdle to overcome in its quest for a missile that can threaten major US cities. Governments and private sector analysts are still analyzing data from the July 4 test launch of a missile North Korea called the Hwasong-14. Most agree the flight path indicates the missile would be able to reach Alaska and possibly further in a conflict. More specific details are largely dependent on images released by North Korea and guesswork. The tip of the missile, where the warhead, or re-entry vehicle, would be located, has drawn attention from experts because it appears to consist of a simple hollow fairing. The fairing looks too small to fit the re-entry vehicle that North Korea has shown on other missiles, John Schilling, an aerospace engineer, wrote in an analysis of the Hwasong-14 published Monday on the North Korea-focused website 38North.
Taking A Stand Against North Korea’s Hostage Diplomacy
Lee Min-Yong, THE DIPLOMAT
There are currently 10 foreigners detained in North Korea: three Americans, six South Koreans, and one Canadian. The so-called “hostage diplomacy” of North Korea is mostly aimed at the United States and South Korea. Of the 23 foreigners held since 1996, 21 have been Americans or South Koreans. North Korea has been relying on hostage diplomacy for a long time. In January 1968, North Korea captured the US Navy spy ship Pueblo and detained 82 crew members for a year before their release. In 1994, North Korea shot down a US helicopter flying near the demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea and held an American pilot. In 2009, they abducted two American female journalists in the border area of North Korea and China, who were released only after former US President Bill Clinton arrived in the country. Through hostage diplomacy, North Korea has successfully put the brakes on global pressure while keeping channels for dialogue open and gaining the upper hand in negotiations. The country may now use the maneuver as a means of preventing a preemptive attack by the United States under President Donald Trump took office.
Proposed Group Draws Flak For China Connection
Liang Pei-chi and Evelyn Kao, FOCUS TAIWAN NEWS
A local official in Taipei raised some eyebrows recently by starting an association of village and ward chiefs that will engage in exchanges in China amid cooling relations between Taiwan and China. Chin Rung-hui, an elected ward chief in Taipei’s northern Beitou District, plans to set up an association consisting of neighborhood chiefs around Taiwan. The planned organization will carry out exchanges with China by organizing trips there, according to media reports. Chin called the group he started the Chinese Taipei General Association of Village and Ward Chiefs, using the designation that Taiwan has adopted under pressure from Beijing to be able to take part in international events such as the Olympic Games and meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, according to the reports. The organizer has been criticized for using the name “Chinese Taipei” and accused of being a pawn in China’s efforts to divide Taiwanese society. Chin, however, denied on Tuesday that the planned association could become a platform for China to carry out united front work in Taiwan. Chin said he would file an application with the city government to form an association under the name of the Taipei City General Association of Ward Chiefs instead of the Chinese Taipei General Association of Village and Ward Chiefs.
Siemens To Press Charges After Russia Sends Gas Turbines to Crimea, Flouting Sanctions
Andreas Rinke and Georgina Prodhan, REUTERS
Germany’s Siemens said on Monday at least two of its gas turbines had been moved “against its will” from Russia to Crimea, a region subject to sanctions barring EU firms providing it with energy technology. The European Union imposed the sanctions after Russia’s 2014 annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine, a move it sees as breaking international law. Siemens, which has repeatedly insisted it was not aware the turbines were destined for Crimea, said it would press criminal charges against those responsible for diverting the turbines. Vladimir Putin, who is expected to seek reelection as Russian president next year, has vowed to ensure energy security for Crimea, but has no home-grown company that could easily supply such turbines. The Kremlin said on Monday the power turbines being installed in Crimea had been made in Russia using Russian components—an apparent reference to the fact that the turbines were produced at a factory in St. Petersburg.
US Aims For UN Vote On North Korea Sanctions Within Weeks: Diplomats
Michelle Nichols, REUTERS
United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley aims to put to a vote within weeks a UN Security Council resolution to impose stronger sanctions on North Korea over its long-range ballistic missile test, said several senior UN diplomats. Haley told some UN diplomats late last week of the ambitious timeline for a UN response to North Korea’s launch on Tuesday of a missile that some experts believe could have the range to reach Alaska, and parts of the US West Coast. The US mission to the United Nations declined to comment on the timeline for a council vote. Some Security Council diplomats have expressed doubt that a draft resolution could be put to a vote quickly. Following a nuclear weapons test by North Korea in September, while US President Barack Obama was still in office, it took the UN Security Council three months to agree to strengthened sanctions. The United States gave China a draft resolution to impose stronger sanctions on Pyongyang after the 15-member Security Council met on Wednesday to discuss the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch, diplomats said.
Workers At Venezuela Prosecutor’s Office To Fight Expected Ouster Of Ortega
Alexandra Ulmer and Eyanir Chinea, REUTERS
From blocking off the office heliport to plotting protests, workers at the prosecutor’s office in Venezuela are making plans to fight her expected removal by allies of President NicolásMaduro, according to three sources. Luisa Ortega, Venezuela’s lead prosecutor and main challenger to Maduro from within the ruling socialist movement, has said she is expecting to be fired after alleging human rights abuses and erosion of democracy under the country’s leftist president during three months of major anti-government protests. “We have to show unwavering support towards our state prosecutor, and if they do touch her, they will never be allowed to take over our institution,” said an unofficial statement circulated by workers on Monday. A heliport atop the prosecutor’s main office in Caracas has been blocked off with furniture to avoid external interruptions, the sources said on Monday, requesting anonymity out of fear of reprisals. The pro-government Supreme Court is considering a charge brought by a socialist lawmaker of “grave offense” against Ortega. Officials have also leveled a plethora of accusations against the 59-year-old lawyer, from “insanity” and encouraging “terrorists” to misuse a confiscated plane. Amid an apparent bid to oust her, the top court named a deputy prosecutor, whom Ortega has rejected as illegitimate.
Venezuela’s PDVSA Says Could Seek To Renegotiate October Debt Payment
David Dolan, REUTERS
Venezuelan state oil producer PDVSA could seek to renegotiate a looming October bond payment given low oil prices, Hector Andrade, PDVSA’s managing director for planning, said on Tuesday. “I guess there are a lot of chances of that,” Andrade said when asked about a possible payment renegotiation. “Right now it’s not just about the cooperation between producers… (but) cooperation between producer and consumer.” The firm also expects to invest $50 billion over the next seven years to raise capacity by one million barrels per day, Andrade told reporters on the sidelines of an energy conference in Istanbul. Venezuela currently produces about two million barrels per day. Struggling under triple-digit inflation and Soviet-style product shortages as its socialist economy unravels, Venezuela has been hit hard by low prices for oil, its economic lifeline. The OPEC nation’s oil output has slipped and PDVSA is struggling to maintain investment in its oilfields, which hold the world’s largest crude reserves.
Miguel Cabrera Blasts Venezuela: “I’m Tired Of Playing Money” To Protect My Mom
Tresa Baldas, DETROIT FREE PRESS
After years of keeping quiet about the growing crisis in his native land, Detroit Tigers star Miguel Cabrera is swinging hard at Venezuela’s government, saying he’s tired of fearing for his family’s lives and paying money to protect them from violence. “I am tired of hearing that they are going to kidnap my mother, and I don’t know whether it is a policeman or a bad guy, I don’t know who they are. All I know is if I don’t pay, those people disappear,” Cabrera said in a video that he posted to his Instagram account Monday, which marked the first day of the All-Star break. The comment, made in Spanish, was one of several that Cabrera made in a series of videos that he posted on the popular social media site. A Spanish translator transcribed the videos for the Free Press today. Here is a sampling of what Cabrera said about the economic crisis that has been building in Venezuela, his desire to help bring about change back home and why, after being urged not to meddle in politics, he is speaking up now. “I am only going to tell you one thing. The first advice I was given was not to get involved in politics and I never have. But right now we have to get involved, because they have kidnapped our country,” Cabrera said in one video. Cabrera also spoke of threats that had been made against him: “They are telling me I am a pain in the ass … I am out here fighting for my people. You might say, ‘oh he is out here living the good life, while we are out here suffering in Venezuela.’ Like I was told by the chavistas, ‘if you come to Venezuela we will break you, we will kill you.’” Cabrera also pleaded for the safety of his family: “They only thing I will tell you is please, do not hurt my family. I am begging you.”