Chinese Censors Have New Target: Celebrity News
Amy Qin, THE NEW YORK TIMES
A large number of Chinese “celebrity news” blogs have disappeared in recent days after coming under the scrutiny of China’s cyberspace regulators. Their absence comes amid a broader tightening of online and media controls ahead of a once-in-every-five-years meeting of top Communist Party leaders this year, at which party officials will consider major decisions about who will lead the country in the coming years. At a meeting on Wednesday with representatives from China’s leading internet companies, officials from the Beijing Bureau of the Cyberspace Administration of China, the country’s top online regulator, called on the companies to “actively promote socialist core values” and create a “healthy, uplifting environment for mainstream opinion” by combating vulgar and sensationalist coverage of celebrity scandals and lifestyles.
China Ponders Public Morality After Video of Gruesome Death
Gerry Shih, THE WASHINGTON POST
Even as China presents itself outwardly as a prosperous rising power, around kitchen tables and in private WeChat groups, Chinese citizens routinely grumble about a nation that’s gone bankrupt when it comes to two qualities: “suzhi,” or “personal character,” and “dixian,” literally “bottom line”—or a basic, inviolable sense of right and wrong. Here, the common refrain goes, is an unmoored country where manufacturers knowingly sell toxic baby formula and fraudulent children’s vaccines. Restaurants cook with recycled “gutter oil” and grocery stores peddle fake eggs, fake fruit, even fake rice. Many Chinese say they avoid helping people on the street because of widespread stories about extortionists who seek help from passers-by and then feign injuries and demand compensation. “It’s a problem with the entire country: our moral bottom line has fallen so low,” Tian You, a novelist based in the southeastern city of Shenzhen, said by phone.
North Korea Steps Up Calls For Repatriation of Defectors
Rachel Lee, THE KOREA TIMES
North Korea is repeating its demand that South Korea repatriate 13 North Koreans who defected to the South from China in April last year.Uriminzokkiri, a state-run media outlet, has released a video clip of a mother, who has been missing her daughter, one of the waitresses who defected to Seoul from a chain of eateries operated by Pyongyang. The mother said in the video that it has been a year since her daughter was “taken” to the South. The mother also said she was determined to stay strong until her daughter comes back home. Last month, Pyongyang revealed a note written by the deceased father of one waitress in a video clip. In the note, the father said his physical condition worsened after the “enemies” dragged his daughter away. He also said he would rest in peace only when his daughter comes back home and pours a glass of alcohol on his grave. The two videos were posted on YouTube.
North Korea “Not Far Away” From Test-Firing ICBM
Rebecca Savransky, THE HILL
North Korea says it is “not far away” from test-firing an intercontinental ballistic missile that could strike the United States. “US President Donald Trump has said the world will never see North Korea reach the final stage of developing nuclear weapons that could reach the US,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency said, citing a commentary in the Rodong Sinmunnewspaper. “But recent strategic weapon tests have proved the country is ‘not far away’ from testing an ICBM.” The commentary said the end of the US’s policies against North Korea are “near reality.” A report last week said North Korea launched multiple land-to-ship missiles.
No More High-Level Contacts Between Police In Taiwan and China
Matthew Strong, TAIWAN NEWS
High-level contacts between the police forces of Taiwan and China have ceased, but exchanges of information on crime still continue, the island’s top police chief said Friday. Despite the existence of a bilateral judicial cooperation agreement, relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits have been frosty due to China’s opposition to the government of President Tsai Ing-wen, who came to power last year after landslide victories in presidential and legislative elections. At the higher echelons of the police hierarchy, interaction between Chinese and Taiwanese officers has all but stopped, National Police Agency Director-General Chen Kuo-en told a Taiwan media interview Friday.
Trump Readies New US Policy Toward Cuba
President Donald Trump is preparing to announce new policies toward Cuba that most likely will roll back parts of former President Barack Obama’s efforts to normalize relations with the island nation, according to a senior administration official and other sources. The official said presidential aides were finalizing their review of US-Cuba relations and were expected to send recommendations to Trump and his national security team in the coming days. Plans are under way for Trump to announce the new Cuba policy on Friday in Miami. Although specific details of Trump’s Cuba policy are not yet clear, sources familiar with the administration’s discussions said they expected the policy to have been influenced by two Cuban-American Republican lawmakers from Florida, Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Mario Diaz-Balart. Both are staunch opponents of Cuba’s communist government.
Venezuela AG Accuses President of “Destroying Legacy” of Late Hugo Chavez
Venezuela’s chief prosecutor asked the Supreme Court to block President Nicolás Maduro’s plan to convene an assembly to revise the constitution, further deepening her divide with the government. Luisa Ortega Diaz accused Maduro and his administration of “destroying the legacy” of the late President Hugo Chavez, the founder of the governing leftist PSUV party and mentor of the incumbent head of state. “Chavismo is a current of thought, it’s a philosophy of life, and this is the principal legacy of President Hugo Chavez,” the attorney general said. Ortega Diaz’s remarks were her strongest repudiation yet of Maduro’s effort to rewrite the nation’s constitution.
Venezuela Musicians Rise Up After Violist, 18, Is Killed At Protest
Ana Vanessa Herrero and Nicholas Casey, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Armando Cañizales left his viola at home that day. Eighteen and talented, he was a success story of Venezuela’s state-run music program for the poor. But he decided it was time to join the street protests against the government that had supported his career. As teenagers throwing rocks retreated from a line of soldiers, Mr. Cañizales moved forward alone. He said nothing as he advanced, arms outstretched, palms facing up. Then the fatal shots rang out. Venezuela’s political unrest is testing the loyalties of many who have benefited from the socialist-oriented government—and at times were its strongest defenders. Doctors and nurses at public hospitals hold marches to demand supplies for empty clinics. Police officers, themselves suffering shortages of food, now question the government’s battle with protesters. Yet no group has been tested quite like Venezuela’s classical musicians, who for years have been drawn from the country’s working-class barrios.