Chinese Conglomerate HNA Sues Exiled Tycoon Guo
Philip Wen and Matthew Miller, REUTERS
China’s HNA Group has filed a defamation lawsuit against Guo Wengui, days after it first broke its long silence over what it says were “baseless and meritless” allegations by the exiled billionaire, court documents show. Guo, whose companies and employees are also the subject of criminal cases in China, did not respond immediately to requests for comment, nor did he immediately comment on the cases on Twitter, where he often issues statements. The summons cites allegations that “officials in China’s Communist Party and their relatives are undisclosed shareholders” in the group, and that subsidiary Hainan Airlines had allowed government officials and their relatives to use its aircraft “for purely personal reasons.” HNA said in a statement posted on its website late on Thursday that Guo’s allegations had harmed its reputation and that it intended to vigorously pursue its claim. China’s judiciary said separately on Friday that it would prosecute additional cases against Guo’s companies. Guo has disputed the facts of the Dalian case and said its main purpose was to establish a criminal case against him, in order to bolster an Interpol global “red notice” for his arrest that was issued at Beijing’s request in April.
Kindergarten Blast Suspect Had Explosive Material at Home, China Says
Javier C. Hernández and Iris Zhao, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Explosive materials and violent writings were found in the home of a 22-year-old man suspected of setting off an explosion outside a kindergarten in eastern China, the state news media reported on Friday, citing government officials. China Central Television, the state broadcaster, said that the man, surnamed Xu, and seven other people died in the explosion, which took place shortly before the students were to be dismissed on Thursday at a kindergarten on the outskirts of Xuzhou, a sprawling city in Jiangsu Province. If shown to have been a deliberate act, the blast would be the latest in a series of grisly attacks at Chinese schools that have raised safety concerns among parents. The Chinese Ministry of Education issued an order on Friday calling for stricter security controls on school campuses in light of the case. Top government officials, including Premier Li Keqiang, have in the past promised to improve school safety. But mental health issues persist, especially in rural areas, where health care for the poor is often inadequate.
Who Will Be Cuba’s Next President? Raúl Castro Sets Election Timeline Ahead Of Trump’s Policy Speech
Sofia Lotto Persio, NEWS WEEK
Cuban leader Raúl Castro has called for municipal elections on October 22, the first step in the process towards the election of a new leader and the first vote held on the island since the death of his older brother Fidel, the revolutionary Marxist leader who ruled Cuba for 47 years and died in November. Following the municipal election, Cubans will select—at a date still to be decided—the members the National Assembly of People’s Power, a 614-seat legislative body that elects the president and their vice-president. Cuba is a one-party state under the control of the Communist Party, which Castro is expected to keep leading even after stepping down as president. The timeline for Castro to step down comes at a time of uncertainty for the future of Cuba’s relationship with the United States.
Prosecutors Turn Over Evidence In Kim Jong-nam Murder Case
RADIO FREE ASIA
Prosecutors on Friday handed over post-mortem and toxicology reports along with dozens of other documents of evidence to lawyers representing two Southeast Asian women charged with fatally poisoning the half-brother of North Korea’s dictator at a Malaysian airport in February. The attorneys for the women will use the 44 documents to prepare for their clients’ upcoming trial. But the lawyer representing one of the suspects said he did not receive the CCTV footage showing the alleged nerve agent attack at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 on Feb. 13 that killed Kim Jong-nam, the estranged relative of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Among the documents turned over to the defense teams were police reports, statements from the defendants, autopsy pictures, forensic pictures, passport verification for the victim and the suspects, and toxicology reports.
US Accuses Chinese Company Of Money Laundering For North Korea
Jonathan Soble, THE NEW YORK TIMES
United States prosecutors accused a Chinese company on Thursday of laundering money for North Korea and said they would seek $1.9 million in civil penalties. Prosecutors said the company, Mingzheng International Trading Limited, operated as a front company for North Korea’s state-run Foreign Trade Bank. The penalty, if approved by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, would be “one of the largest seizures of North Korean funds by the department,” according to a statement from prosecutors. In their statement, prosecutors said Mingzheng was created to “surreptitiously move North Korean money through the United States.” In a filing with the court, prosecutors said the funds were being held in a bank account in the United States. Calls to a Mingzheng phone number in Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese city where the company is registered, were not answered.
UN Envoy Urges North Korea To Explain Why Freed US Man Is In Coma
Stephanie Nebehay, REUTERS
A United Nations human rights investigator called on North Korea to explain why an American student was in a coma when he was returned home this week after more than a year in detention there. Otto Warmbier, 22, has a severe brain injury and is in a state of “unresponsive wakefulness,” his Ohio doctors said on Thursday. His family said he had been in a coma since March 2016, shortly after he was sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor in North Korea. “While I welcome the news of Mr Warmbier’s release, I am very concerned about his condition, and the authorities have to provide a clear explanation about what made him slip into a coma,” Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), said in a statement issued in Geneva. Ojea Quintana called on North Korea to “clarify the causes and circumstances” of Otto Warmbier’s release. “His case serves as a reminder of the disastrous implications of the lack of access to adequate medical treatment for prisoners in the DPRK,” he said.
Taiwan Slams UN After Students Barred From Geneva Visit
Taiwan fiercely criticized the United Nations Friday after its students were barred from visiting a public hearing in Geneva as Beijing seeks to further isolate the island internationally. It comes after Taiwan was excluded from a major World Health Organization meeting last month under pressure from China, which still sees the island as part of its territory. Cross-strait relations have worsened dramatically since Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen took power last year and Beijing has cut off all official communication with Taipei. Taiwan’s foreign ministry said Friday it had protested to the UN over the latest incident. The ministry confirmed a Taiwanese professor and three students had not been allowed to listen in on a UN Human Rights Council session, at the UN’s headquarters in Geneva. According to Chinese-language website UP Media, security staff told labor relations professor Liuhuang Li-chuan of Taiwan’s National Chung Cheng University and her students that their passports were invalid documents. They said “Taiwan is not a country,” and the group needed China-issued identification, the report added.
Tibetan Nomads Forced From Resettlement Towns to Make Way for Development
RADIO FREE ASIA
Tibetan nomads previously forced from traditional grazing lands in a state-directed resettlement scheme in Qinghai are now being told to go back, as authorities begin to target their current homes for development as tourist centers and housing for government employees, Tibetan sources say. The new policy, announced last year and affecting residents of Dzatoe and Domda towns in Qinghai’s Yulshul Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, has negatively impacted the resettled Tibetans, who were told to reduce their herds when they were first moved, a local resident told RFA’s Tibetan Service. “After two years of living in the new towns, residents are now being forced to move back to their original grasslands without their animals, which are the main source of livelihood in Tibetan nomadic communities,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
On Buses And Trains, Venezuela Opposition Leaders Protest Maduro
Diego Oré and Andreína Aponte, REUTERS
Venezuelan legislators and opposition leaders staged protests against President Nicolás Maduro aboard buses and trains in Caracas in an effort to bypass blockades of street demonstrations by security forces. Maduro’s adversaries have for more than two months been holding marches and rallies that are routinely cut short by troops and police. “Our message is going to travel all the stations of the subway,” said opposition deputy Juan Mejia before boarding a Caracas subway train. “Our message will reach all those Venezuelans who have expressed a desire for a different country, but who have to go out and get their daily bread to help their family.” Mejia said that employees of the capital’s subway, which has for years been closely controlled by the ruling Socialist Party, made announcements over loudspeakers warning of delays due to “a group of opposition sympathizers.” Another group of deputies boarded city buses that run through Caracas and nearby cities and explained to passersby their view that the constituent assembly “formalizes the dictatorship.”
Toll In Venezuela’s Violent Protests Reaches 73
THE ECONOMIC TIMES
The death toll in the violent Venezuelan protests has increased to 73 amid escalating tensions provoked by the government’s call to rewrite the Constitution. The Venezuelan Public Ministry on Thursday said that Libertador Experimental Teaching University (UPEL) student Jose Gregorio Perez died during a demonstration in the town of Rubio, reports Efe News. The 21-year-old was shot in the face. Since April 1st, Venezuela has been beset by a wave of pro and anti-government protests, some of which have degenerated into violence that has now left 73 people dead and more than 1,000 injured, according to official figures. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro launched an initiative to elect a Constituent Assembly to reform the Constitution which has been badly received by the opposition which claimed it was another attempt by the executive to hold onto power.