China Jails Workers From Crown Resorts Of Australia In Message To Casinos
Sui-Lee Wee, THE NEW YORK TIMES
China has sent the global gambling industry a message: be careful when traveling for business there. A court in Shanghai on Monday sentenced three Australian employees of Crown Resorts to less than a year in prison each for illegally promoting gambling in China. Including the time they have already spent in prison, all three should be released in weeks or months. Thirteen other employees, one Malaysian and twelve Chinese, received similar sentences, the company said. Gambling is illegal in mainland China, so many Chinese flock to Macau—a special administrative region under Beijing’s rule but governed by separate laws—as well as places like Australia, Singapore and the Philippines to try their luck. Many casino operators in those places try to lure Chinese high rollers, or big-stakes gamblers, to their properties by enticing them with rides on private jets, haute cuisine and swift visa approvals.
Hong Kong’s Youth Press Campaign Despite China’s Rejection Of Full Democracy
James Pomfret and Benjamin Kang Lim, REUTERS
China offered a contentious electoral reform package in 2014, which allowed Hong Kong a direct vote, but only for candidates pre-screened by Beijing. The city’s pro-democracy lawmakers vetoed the package, which critics called “fake democracy.” And so Hong Kong’s next leader was again chosen this year by a small electoral college stacked with pro-Beijing loyalists. “There will be no second chance,” said a source in Beijing with ties to the Chinese leadership, who declined to be named given the sensitivity of the matter. “We can’t afford to do it all over again. It’s too painful and a waste of time and resources.” A senior Hong Kong official said even if China changed its mind, Beijing wouldn’t back down on its requirement that candidates be vetted, effectively shutting out pro-democracy contenders for the top job.
Xi No Evil: Hong Kong Bans Protest Slogans As Chinese President Visits
Benjamin Haas, THE GUARDIAN
Hong Kong police have launched a crackdown on political banners and images ahead of a visit to the city by the Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping to avoid “embarrassing” the country’s leaders. Swaths of Hong Kong will be locked down this week and at least 9,000 police officers, nearly a third of the territory’s force, are set to be deployed during Xi’s three-day visit starting on Thursday. Police have been instructed to remove signs calling for remembrance of the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre or advocating for direct elections of the city’s leader, according to local media reports. The tactic is more often associated with mainland China, where there is little tolerance of dissent, than Hong Kong. Images of Xi holding a yellow umbrella, a symbol of the 2014 pro-democracy protests, would also be removed by police. Xi will visit Hong Kong to mark the 20th anniversary of the UK handing the city back to China and to swear in the new chief executive.
North Korea Refuses Olympic Offer From South
North Korea has rejected an offer from the South to form a unified team for next year’s Winter Olympics. South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-in backed proposals for a collaboration after it was suggested by sports minister Do Jong-hwan. But North Korean International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Chang Un has dismissed the idea—saying there was not time to negotiate a deal. The Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, will take place from 9-25 February. The two sides have played in the same team before—at the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships. However, Mr. Chang told local media: “It took us 22 rounds of talks to set up that joint [table tennis] team… it took us five months. That’s the reality we face.” South Korea’s sports minister had suggested a joint ice hockey team—even going as far as to suggest they might allow the north to host skiing events—to help make the 2018 games a “peace Olympics.”
China, US Agree On Aim Of “Complete, Irreversible” Korean Denuclearization
Christian Shepherd, REUTERS
China and the United States agreed that efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula should be “complete, verifiable and irreversible,” Chinese state media said on Saturday, reporting the results of high level talks in Washington this week. “Both sides reaffirm that they will strive for the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” a consensus document released by the official Xinhua news agency said. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had said on Thursday that the United States pressed China to ramp up economic and political pressure on North Korea, during his meeting with top Chinese diplomats and defense chiefs. China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi and General Fang Fenghui met Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis during the talks. The consensus document also highlighted the need to fully and strictly hold to UN Security Council resolutions and push for dialogue and negotiation, which has long been China’s position on the issue.
Virginia Man Charged With Giving Secret Documents To China
Matthew Barakat, WASHINGTON POST
A Virginia man caught with $16,500 in cash in his carry-on luggage was charged Thursday with transmitting top-secret documents to an apparent Chinese agent. Kevin Mallory, 60, of Leesburg was arrested Thursday and made an initial appearance in US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. The self-employed consultant who speaks Chinese is charged under the federal Espionage Act and could face life in prison. In fact, if certain conditions are met, the charges could make Mallory eligible for the death penalty. Court records indicate that Mallory was an Army veteran and worked as a special agent for the Diplomatic Security Service at the US State Department from 1987 to 1990. Since 1990, he has worked for a variety of government agencies and defense contractors, according to the affidavit. He held Top Secret security clearance until he left government service in 2012. According to the affidavit, Mallory traveled to Shanghai in April, and was interviewed by Customs agents at O’Hare Airport in Chicago after he failed to declare $16,500 in cash found in two carry-on bags. The FBI interviewed him the next month, and he admitted that he met with two people from a Chinese think tank, the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, that he now believed were Chinese intelligence agents. He said they had given him a special communications device for transmitting documents.
US Senator To Draft New Legislation Imposing Financial Embargo On North Korea
Chang Jae-soon, YONHAP NEWS
US Sen. Cory Gardner said Friday he is prepared to put together new legislation imposing a financial embargo on North Korea, stressing Pyongyang’s nuclear missile program is fast approaching a point of no return. Gardner made the remark in a statement he issued to condemn the North’s reported test of a rocket engine that could be used in an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the continental United States with a nuclear warhead. The test “deserves global condemnation and a show of determined resolve from the United States and our allies. It is clear we are rapidly approaching a point of no return with North Korea, and there needs to be a global urgency to stop their development of nuclear delivery capability,” he said. “I am prepared to draft legislation to target entities and to impose a financial embargo on North Korea. My legislation will present a clear choice to all those enabling Pyongyang: you either do business with a nuclear-armed madman who abuses his own people and has just murdered an American or you do business with the world’s only economic and military superpower,” Gardner said.
Heroes Or Agitators? Young Lawmakers On Venezuela’s Front Line
Andrew Cawthorne and Victoria Ramirez, REUTERS
One was knocked off his feet by a water cannon. Another was pushed into a drain. Most have been pepper-sprayed, tear-gassed, beaten and hit by pellet shots. A group of young Venezuelan lawmakers has risen to prominence on the violent front line of anti-government marches that have shaken the South American country for three months. On the streets daily leading demonstrators, pushing at security barricades and sometimes picking up teargas canisters to hurl back at police and soldiers, the energetic National Assembly members are heroes to many opposition supporters. But to President Maduro’s socialist government, they are the chief “terrorists” in a US-backed coup plot aimed at controlling the vast oil wealth of the OPEC nation. The dozen or so legislators, all in their late 20s or early 30s, belong mainly to the Justice First and Popular Will parties, which are promoting civil disobedience against a president they term a dictator. They march largely without protective gear—unlike the masked and shield-bearing youths around them—though supporters and aides sometimes form circles to guard them. They do not receive salaries since funds to the National Assembly were squeezed, living instead off gifts from relatives and friends. And some still reside at home with parents.
OAS Chief Offers To Resign If Venezuela Holds Free Vote
Silene Ramírez, REUTERS
Organization of American States President Luis Almagro offered on Saturday to resign if Venezuela holds free elections and enacts reforms to protect democracy in the troubled South American nation. “I will resign from the Organization of American States the day that free, fair and transparent national elections are held without impediments,” Almagro said in a video message posted on Twitter. “I offer my position in exchange for freedom in Venezuela.” President Maduro said on Thursday that if Almagro, an outspoken critic of his government, resigned he would consider reversing a decision to withdraw Venezuela from the 34-nation OAS bloc. At its annual general assembly in Mexico this week, the OAS failed to reach consensus on a resolution about Venezuela, where 75 people have died in three months of protests. Demonstrators are demanding general elections to end 18 years of socialist rule in the once-wealthy OPEC nation, racked by rising poverty and a deepening economic and political crisis.