China’s “Underground Railroad” Smuggles Blood For Illicit Gender-Testing In Hong Kong
RADIO FREE ASIA
A complex network of companies, middlemen and clinics in mainland China and Hong Kong is carrying on a roaring trade in on-the-quiet prenatal testing to determine the gender of fetuses for Chinese couples, a practice that is banned on the mainland because of its association with sex-selective abortion. According to government figures for last year, China is home to 34 million more men than women, reflecting the longer-term effects of selective abortion, abandoned baby girls, and the country’s family planning restrictions. In 2014, officials described the gender imbalance as the “most serious” problem, outlawing gender testing of unborn babies in a bid to make sex-selective abortions less common. But an employee surnamed Chan who answered the phone at a medical intermediary company in Hong Kong’s Sheung Shui district confirmed that it supplies gender testing kits to mainland China which could enable parents-to-be to determine the sex of their unborn child.
China Bans Political Content From Three More Platforms
Liza Lin, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Chinese regulators on Thursday ordered three popular internet platforms to stop streaming political videos, expanding the crackdown on online political dialogue as China prepares for an important political handover. The websites of Weibo Corp., Phoenix New Media Ltd , and ACFUN had streamed political videos that were not in line with government regulations, and also promoted talk shows that contained negative viewpoints, the State Administration of Press Publication, Radio, Film and Television of the People’s Republic of China said in an online statement. The agency did not elaborate on how the content violated regulations. The shutdown comes two weeks after China’s cyberspace administration ordered some entertainment accounts on WeChat and Weibo to be shuttered over political content, and nearly a month after the implementation of China’s sweeping cybersecurity law, which took effect June 1st.
North Korea Willing To Halt Missile Tests, With Conditions: Report
Ellen Mitchell, THE HILL
North Korea is open to temporarily halting its nuclear and missile tests should the United States agree to several demands. North Korea’s Ambassador to India, Kye Chun-yong, said Pyongyang is willing to employ a conditional moratorium on the country’s tests should the United States come to the negotiating table. “If our demands are met, we can negotiate in terms of the moratorium of weapons testing,” Kye said in English in an interview posted on the website of WION, a television station in India. One demand could be halting US and South Korean joint military drills. North Korea has called the drills an invasion rehearsal while Seoul and Washington argue the annual exercises are routine defensive preparations. South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, said in an interview with CBS News that his country does not plan to scale back joint military exercises with Washington. North Korea has agreed to temporarily halt its missile and nuclear tests in the past.
US Fails To Intercept Missile In Overnight Test
Ellen Mitchell, THE HILL
The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and Japan in a joint missile intercept test Wednesday night failed to hit a missile launched off Hawaii’s coast. The MDA and the Japan Ministry of Defense launched a medium-range ballistic target missile from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii. The USS John Paul Jones destroyer tracked the target missile, then launched a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA guided missile, “but the missile did not intercept the target,” according to a statement from the agency. The statement described the SM-3 Block IIA as “a new, developmental interceptor that is not yet fielded by either country,” but being developed cooperatively to defeat medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. The previous intercept test conducted in February was successful, the agency stated.
Minnesota Will Still Engage With Cuba Despite Trump
Sarah Marsh, REUTERS
Minnesota’s government and businesses will continue to engage with Cuba in the areas they can, like agricultural trade, despite US President Donald Trump’s partial rollback of the detente, Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith said on Thursday. The first US state representative to make an official visit to Communist-run Cuba since Trump’s announcement on Friday, Smith said authorities there were worried about the setback to bilateral relations. Leading a bipartisan trade delegation from Minnesota, she said she was therefore glad to carry the message that there was still plenty of support for continuing to normalize relations. US Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, in May led a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, including Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, to introduce legislation to lift the US trade embargo on Cuba. Minnesota is one of the largest US farming states, and Smith’s delegation included its agriculture commissioner and the head of its corn growers association. The delegation hopes to improve ties with and promote exports to Cuba.
Trump Administration Plans More Sanctions On Defiant Venezuela
Nahal Toosi, POLITICO
Trump administration officials are warning that the US will impose new, targeted sanctions on Venezuela if the leftist government there does not stop its slide toward autocracy and economic implosion. The admonishment is the latest indication of the tougher line President Donald Trump is taking toward countries deemed US adversaries than his predecessor, Barack Obama. It came as the US and Venezuela repeatedly tangled during a dramatic general assembly meeting of the Organization of American States this week in Cancun, Mexico. There, the Venezuelan foreign minister practically dared the US to send in the Marines, called her country’s critics “lapdogs of imperialism,” and said Venezuela would quit the multilateral forum. The Trump administration has already imposed targeted sanctions—which affect individuals and entities—on top Venezuelan officials, including eight members of its Supreme Court as well as the country’s vice president, which the US accused of being involved in drug trafficking.
Venezuela’s “Tiger” Foreign Minister Rodriguez Quits
Deisy Buitrago & Silene Ramirez, REUTERS
Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez left her post on Wednesday to run for a seat in a controversial new congress, drawing praise from her boss as a “tiger” for her feisty defense of the socialist government. Historian and deputy foreign minister Samuel Moncada will replace her, President Nicolás Maduro said, announcing the diplomatic shake-up in a speech on state TV. “She truly deserves the recognition of the entire country because she has defended Venezuelan sovereignty, peace and independence like a tiger,” Maduro said of Rodriguez, who had been Venezuela’s top diplomat since the end of 2014. “Congratulations comrade! Job well done.” Like some other senior Maduro allies, Rodriguez will now be running for a seat in a new Constituent Assembly in an election set for July 30. Venezuela’s opposition is boycotting the vote, saying it is rigged in Maduro’s favor and intended purely to keep the ruling Socialist Party in power despite its current unpopularity. Outgoing foreign minister Rodriguez has been a diehard envoy for Maduro, even trying to crash a meeting of regional bloc Mercosur after Venezuela’s suspension and lambasting critics of her government in often colorful language.
Vietnam’s State Media Now Look To Social Media For Timely, Accurate News
RADIO FREE ASIA
State-controlled media in Vietnam are looking more and more to private citizens’ postings on social media as sources of objective information and for leads to news stories, according to Central Propaganda Department chief Vo Van Thuong, speaking on June 20th at a press conference in Hanoi. Speaking to RFA’s Vietnamese Service, dissident bloggers and independent journalists welcomed the move, pointing to social media’s capacity for publishing timely and updated information unslowed by mechanisms of government approval. “If someone knows something, they can post it immediately without running it through the censors,” said freelance writer Vu Binh, who once served a seven-year prison term on charges of espionage for criticizing Vietnam’s human rights record in a letter sent to the US Congress. “Also, most of the people who post have many followers, and they are known for being honest and objective [in what they write],” Binh said. These writers’ objectivity and fairness in analysis has attracted large numbers of readers, and this is what has now drawn the attention of Vietnam’s official media, he added. “State media know that if they simply keep to their role as a propaganda outlet, they will lose their readers, so they are now searching for new information on social networks, and for unbiased discussions that they can write about,” he said.