Xi Jinping And Vladimir Putin Behave Like The Best Of Buddies
On July 21st three Chinese warships sailed into the Baltic Sea for China’s first war games in those waters with Russia’s fleet. The two powers wanted to send a message to America and to audiences at home: we are united in opposing the West’s domination, and we are not afraid to show off our muscle in NATO’s backyard. The war games were also intended to show how close the friendship between China and Russia has become—so much has changed since the days of bitter cold-war enmity that endured between them from the 1960s to the 1980s. There has been an abundance of such symbolism in recent weeks. Mr. Xi and Mr. Putin take comfort in each other’s authoritarian bent. China has copied Russia’s harsh laws on NGOs; the Kremlin has been trying to learn how China censors the internet. During Mr. Xi’s recent visit to Moscow, the two leaders listened to a speech by Margarita Symonyan, the boss of Russia Today, the Kremlin’s foreign-language television channel. Ms. Symonyan told them that Russia and China were victims of “information terrorism” by the Western media.
Chinese Police Detain 67 After Protest In Beijing
Ben Blanchard, REUTERS
Police in the Chinese capital have detained 67 people for disturbing social order after demonstrators gathered to stage a rare protest in Beijing, complaining that the government was unfairly targeting a charity. While there are thousands of protests every year in China over everything from pollution to corruption, large protests are rare in heavily guarded and affluent Beijing, with the ruling Communist Party valuing stability above all else. State news agency Xinhua said late last week police had detained executives from a company called Shanxinhui, accusing them of operating a pyramid scheme and duping people out of money in the name of raising funds to help the poor. Beijing police said in a statement late on Wednesday that 67 of those involved in the protest, which led authorities to shut down a major road in a southern neighborhood of the city, had been detained.
North Korean Development, Shortages Go Hand In Hand
Brian Padden, VOA
What may seem like conflicting reports—that North Korea’s economy is growing while its people also face severe food shortages because of drought—underline the sharp divisions that exist in one of the world most isolated and repressive states. “We have to understand that North Korea is a very unequal society,” said Go Myong-Hyun, a North Korea economic analyst with the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul. According to the Bank of Korea in Seoul, the North’s economy grew last year by 3.9 percent, its fastest pace in 17 years despite international sanctions imposed for its nuclear and missile programs. Exports to China of coal and other minerals accounted for much of the increase. However, this year China imported 54 percent less coal from North Korea. In March, Beijing banned further coal imports in response to US President Donald Trump’s demand that China take stronger measures to restrain the Kim Jong-un government.
On Anniversary Of War, Young North Koreans Talk Of Tensions
Eric Talmadge, ABC NEWS
Are the United States and North Korea moving closer to another war? Though often referred to as the “Forgotten War” in the United States, it is anything but forgotten in North Korea. The July 27 anniversary of the Korean War armistice is celebrated as a major national holiday called “Victory in the Fatherland Liberation War Day” and is the culmination of “Anti-American Imperialist Month,” which begins on June 23, the day the 1950-53 Korean War began. As young North Koreans took to plazas and public spaces across the capital on Thursday to join in mass dancing and other celebrations, The Associated Press asked several university students what they thought of the possibility that another war could break out in their lifetime. Not surprisingly, their answers closely reflect the North Korean government’s official statements. From one, the suggestion that peace talks might work. From another, a vow to kill every last American imperialist.
North Korea Pledges No Punishments For Defectors Returning From South Korea
RADIO FREE ASIA
North Korea’s Ministry of State Security has secretly ordered local agencies to inform the families of defectors to South Korea that they will face no punitive measures if they return home, as part of a bid to lure them back to the North, according to sources inside the country. The sources from North Hamgyong province, near the border with China, told RFA’s Korean Service on condition of anonymity that local security agencies should relocate defectors who return from the South to their hometowns and reassign them to their regular work details with no questions asked. “The Ministry of State Security gave a secret order to security agencies in each province earlier this month … to persuade families to induce defectors to return,” one source said. “Security officials in [North Hamgyong’s] Musan county are visiting families to talk them into persuading relatives who have defected to return. They are emphasizing that the state will not accuse those who return of defecting and they will not be punished.” According to the source, security officials are holding meetings in each district—which contain five or six neighborhood watch units known as People’s Units—to discuss measures to prevent defection.
US Orders Venezuela Embassy Families Out, Crisis Deepens
Alexandra Ulmer and Fabian Cambero, REUTERS
The US government ordered family members of employees at its embassy in Venezuela to leave on Thursday as a political crisis deepened ahead of a controversial vote critics contend will end democracy in the oil-rich country. Violence continued to rage on the street, with another seven people killed during the latest opposition-led strike against President Maduro’s planned election for a powerful new Constituent Assembly on Sunday. Adding to Venezuela’s growing international isolation, Colombian airline Avianca suddenly stopped operations in the country on Thursday due to “operational and security limitations”. Maduro’s critics were planning to pile more pressure on the unpopular leftist leader by holding roadblocks across the nation dubbed “The Takeover of Venezuela” on Friday. “We’re going to keep fighting, we’re not leaving the streets,” said opposition lawmaker Jorge Millan.
Florida Governor Proposes Ban On Investments That Support Venezuela
Ryan Benk, WJCT
Florida Gov. Rick Scott wants the Sunshine State to stop doing business with Venezuela. Scott is proposing the policy shift after more than 100 days of protest and unrest in the South American country. In a news release Thursday, Scott said Venezuelan President NicolásMaduro’s attempt to rewrite the country’s constitution and his allied supreme court’s move to dissolve its parliament represents an acceleration to full dictatorship. Scott is calling for a prohibition on state investments—with employee pension funds, for example—that support the Maduro regime. “The atrocities happening at the hands of the brutal and oppressive Maduro regime are unspeakable. I have heard firsthand from Floridians about the need for change in Venezuela,” Scott wrote. “Prohibiting the Florida State Board of Administration from making investments that support Nicolás Maduro is a big step in the right direction.”
CIA On Chinese Cyberspying
Bill Gertz, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
A senior CIA analyst said China is continuing to conduct aggressive cyberespionage operations against the US, contrary to claims by security experts who say Beijing curbed cyberattacks in the past few years. “We know the Chinese are very active in targeting our government, US industry and those of our partners through cyberespionage,” said Michael Collins, deputy assistant CIA director and head of the agency’s East Asia Mission Center. “It’s a very real, big problem, and we need to do more about it,” Mr. Collins told a recent security conference in Aspen, Colorado. Mr. Collins said solving the problem of Chinese cyberattacks will require an “all-of-government, all-of-country approach to pushing back against it.” The comments contradict a number of cybersecurity experts who have said Beijing’s digital spying and information theft decreased sharply as a result of the 2015 agreement between President Obama and ChineseCommunist Party leader Xi Jinping.
Violinist Wuilly Arteaga Arrested For Demonstrating During Civic Strike In Venezuela
Venezuelan violinist Wuilly Arteaga was arrested by officials of the Bolivarian National Guard, according to the Twitter account of Alfredo Romero, the director of the Venezuelan Penal Forum. Arteaga’s arrest took place around 4:00 pm Thursday while he was in the civic strike convened by the Democratic Unity Table. So far no further information is known about the detention of the Venezuelan musician, who gained popularity by being present in the opposition demonstrations against the government of Nicolás Maduro. Last July 22 Arteaga was injured during a crackdown on demonstrators marching through Bello Campo. Arteaga became a symbol of the protests to appear playing during the massive demonstrations against the government of Maduro. His message of peace has spread throughout the world. Previously the young artist had suffered attacks from the police and his violin had been destroyed.
Venezuela Bans Protests Ahead Of Vote
Jason Hanna and Nicole Chavez, CNN
Venezuela’s government says it will ban protests ahead of this weekend’s vote for a special constitutional assembly—a direct challenge to opposition leaders who planned massive Friday demonstrations against the election. The ban, announced Thursday toward the end of an opposition-led general strike that shuttered some businesses nationwide for two days, begins Friday and continues through Tuesday, interior and justice minister Néstor Reverol said. He prohibited “all public meetings and demonstrations, gatherings and other similar acts that might disturb the electoral process.” Those who run afoul of the ban risk prison sentences of five to 10 years, he said.
UN Rights Office Voices Concern Over Venezuela Violence
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The United Nations’ human rights office is voicing concern about the risk of further violence in Venezuela as the country prepares for a vote to start rewriting the constitution, and about a new ban on political protests. Opposition leaders are urging Venezuelans to boycott Sunday’s election for delegates to an assembly to rewrite the constitution. Officials announced security measures including an order barring political protests through Tuesday. Liz Throssell, a spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in Geneva Friday that “the wishes of the Venezuelan people to participate or not in this election need to be respected.” She urged the government to manage any protests “in line with international human rights norms and standards” and also called on those opposing the election to do so peacefully.