Activist Held in China’s Guangdong For Printing T-Shirts Bearing Guo Wengui Quote
RADIO FREE ASIA
Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have detained a rights activist for selling T-shirts carrying a quotation from exiled billionaire property tycoon Guo Wengui. Dong Qi is currently being held in the Longgang Detention Center in Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, after he began printing and selling T-shirts bearing the words “everything is just beginning. “Police have also summoned his customers for questioning, while Dong is under investigation for “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble,” his lawyer Wen Yu told RFA on Wednesday. “It’s not often that somebody gets criminally detained for printing T-shirts,” Wen said following a meeting with Dong at the detention center. “He has never been detained before, he told me, but he said he thought maybe he would get detained for this, and was mentally prepared for it.”
China Renews Call For Seoul To Halt THAAD Amid “Shocking” News Of New Launchers
Jeff Daniels, CNBC
China’s state-owned media on Thursday criticized reports new THAAD anti-missile launchers were secretly brought into South Korea without approval from the Seoul government. Citing a statement from Beijing’s foreign ministry spokesperson, China Daily said the communist nation is “gravely concerned” over reports about the new THAAD launchers. It also said the official indicated “deployment will severely damage China’s security interests and undermine the regional strategic balance.”
China’s New Cybersecurity Law Takes Effect Today, And Many Are Confused
Sophia Yan, CNBC
China’s new cybersecurity law takes effect today, and experts are rattled about what it all means. The law has been largely touted by Beijing as a milestone in data privacy regulations, but critics say authorities haven’t provided enough information about how the wide-reaching law will be implemented. That’s a big concern, as failure to comply carries fines that could hit 1 million yuan (about $150,000) and potential criminal charges. What’s more, the law is expected to make it even harder to do business in China by increasing costs to foreign firms, exposing multinationals to cyber-espionage, and giving domestic companies an unfair edge.
“Ghost Collateral” Haunts Loans Across China’s Debt-Laden Banking System
Engen Tham, REUTERS
With the China facing its slowest growth in over a quarter of a century, defaults are mounting as borrowers struggle to repay their loans. The danger of fraudulent collateral in this situation, say economists, is that it exacerbates the problem of bad debt for China’s banks, increasing the risk of financial turmoil. On May 24, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded China’s credit ratings for the first time in almost three decades. The ratings agency said it expects the financial strength of the economy will erode in the coming years as economic growth slows and debt continues to rise.
Russia Escalates Spy Games After Years Of US Neglect
Ali Watkins, POLITICO
As the country—and Washington in particular—borders on near-obsession over whether affiliates of Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with the Kremlin to swing the 2016 presidential election, US intelligence officials say Moscow’s espionage ground game is growing stronger and more brazen than ever. It’s a problem that’s sparking increasing concern from the intelligence community, including the FBI. After neglecting the Russian threat for a decade, the US was caught flat-footed by Moscow’s election operation. Now, officials are scrambling to figure out how to contain a sophisticated intelligence network that’s festered and strengthened at home after years’ worth of inattention. “We’ve definitely been ignoring Russia for the last 15 years,” another intelligence official said, calling the Kremlin “resurgent.”
Trump Administration Moves To Return Russian Compounds In Maryland And New York
Karen DeYoung and Adam Entous, WASHINGTON POST
The Trump administration is moving toward handing back to Russia two diplomatic compounds, near New York City and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, that its officials were ejected from in late December as punishment for Moscow’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. President Barack Obama said Dec. 29 that the compounds were being “used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes” and gave Russia 24 hours to vacate them. Separately, Obama expelled from the United States what he said were 35 Russian “intelligence operatives.” Early last month, the Trump administration told the Russians that it would consider turning the properties back over to them if Moscow would lift its freeze on construction of a new US consulate on a certain parcel of land in St. Petersburg.
US Senator Cory Booker Says Russia Trying to Destabilize Democracies Globally
Russia’s interference in Ukraine is just one sign of a broad attempt to destabilize democracies around the world, US Senator Cory Booker (Democrat-New Jersey) has told RFE/RL.”When it comes to Russian aggression, let’s be clear: The Russians are seeking to not just attack Ukraine, or attack the US, they are trying to undermine democracy,” Booker said. “Their attempt is to create divisions and divisiveness between individual leaders as well as within nations. And that’s unacceptable.” Russia seized control of Crimea in March 2014 after sending in troops without insignia, engineering a takeover of the regional legislature, and staging a referendum that was swiftly dismissed as illegitimate by Ukraine, the United States, and a total of 100 countries at the UN General Assembly.
Ukraine’s Naftogaz Pays Back The Europeans As Russian Influence Dwindles
Kenneth Rapoza, FORBES
Ukraine is making good on its debts with the European Union. This time it’s Naftogaz, arguably the country’s most important company, paying off a $300 million loan it had with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on Tuesday. Russia used to be the largest supplier of natural gas to Ukraine. But over the last couple of years, Ukraine has diversified away from its core supplier, Gazprom, over pricing disputes that have required international arbitration. Russia and Ukraine are currently going through a bitter divorce. Since the ousting of president Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine has tried to follow in the footsteps of Poland by leaning towards Europe rather than its old partner.
As Venezuela Enters Third Month Of Protests, Anti-Maduro Ire Finds New Target
Colin Dwyer, NPR
It has been more than 60 days since Venezuela’s Supreme Court moved to dissolve the country’s National Assembly. The move, intended to eliminate a thorn in the side of embattled President Nicolas Maduro, was reversed after three days—but the political fallout has barreled into its third month, roiling city streets across the country. In that time, the list of protesters’ demands—from the resumption of local elections to an end to the nationwide food shortage to even the ouster of Maduro—has grown. And the death toll has mounted. As The Associated Press reports, at least 60 people have died in clashes between demonstrators and security forces, and at least 1,000 protesters have been jailed.