After Two Decades of Chinese Rule, Hong Kong People “Not Optimistic” About City’s Future
RADIO FREE ASIA
Twenty years after Hong Kong was handed back to China under a Sino-British treaty, less than 40 percent of the city’s residents are satisfied with the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s implementation of its promises, a new opinion poll has found. Some 38 percent said they were “satisfied” that Beijing had stuck to the “one country, two systems” model promised ahead of the 1997 handover, according to a survey carried out by pollsters at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). But 30 percent said they were “dissatisfied,” while a further 30 percent said they were “so-so,” the telephone poll of more than 1,000 residents found. Asked about the state of Hong Kong society since the handover, 62.9 percent of respondents thought things had gotten “a lot” or “slightly” worse than before, while 19.2 percent said they were about the same. CUHK communications professor Clement So said the poll reflects the current somber political mood in Hong Kong.
Cadre From Xi Jinping’s Graft Squad Joins Beijing’s Hong Kong Office
Joyce Ng, SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
A man who worked on Communist Party leader Xi Jinping’s reform task force has joined the leadership of Beijing’s office that oversees Hong Kong affairs. Mainland press reported the switch on Thursday after Pan Shengzhou’s name was quietly added to the website of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO). He will run discipline inspection within the office. Pan, a Shandong native and a farming expert, became deputy chief of the Policy Research Office of the Communist Party’s Central Committee in 2009. In 2013, he also became deputy director of the general office of the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms, a powerful team founded and chaired by Xi to oversee changes to the country’s political, economic and defense systems.
Luxury Hotels Arrive In Cuba Despite Fears Trump May Hurt Tourism Boom
Sarah Marsh, REUTERS
Towering cranes dot the Havana skyline as communist-run Cuba races to build luxury hotels, amid indignation among some residents and concern that US President Donald Trump might reverse a detente that fueled the tourist boom. Swiss-based Kempinski Hotels SA will inaugurate its Gran Hotel Manzana in the heart of the capital on Wednesday, billing it as Cuba’s first true luxury hotel. The five-star property, managed by Kempinski but owned by the Cuban government, occupies the top floors of a renovated Belle Epoque shopping mall filled with glitzy Gucci and Montblanc stores. Farther down the iconic Paseo de Prado boulevard toward the Caribbean Sea, workers are developing two other sites into luxury hotels to be operated respectively by Spain’s Iberostar and France’s Accor SA, the largest hotel group in Europe. Tourism is the one bright spot in Cuba’s moribund economy, which is struggling with falling exports and upheaval in major trade partner Venezuela.
North Korea Fires More Missiles As Seoul Puts Off US Defense System
Motoko Rich, THE NEW YORK TIMES
North Korea fired several cruise missiles from its east coast on Thursday, the South Korean military said. It was the country’s fourth missile test in four weeks, and it occurred just a day after South Korea’s new president said his government was suspending the deployment of an American antimissile system. According to a statement from South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff, reported by the Yonhap news agency, the missiles appeared to be surface-to-ship missiles and flew toward the ocean. It was the 10th time this year that North Korea tested missiles, and it came less than a week after the United Nations Security Council expanded sanctions against Pyongyang over previous missile tests. Analysts said that it appeared North Korea had test-fired cruise missiles similar to Russia’s Kh-35, which was demonstrated during a military parade in Pyongyang in April and is designed to sink enemy ships.
North Korean Arrested on Spy Charges For Contact With Christians In China
RADIO FREE ASIA
North Korean authorities have arrested a man on spying charges for having contact with Christians while visiting relatives in China. Kim Seung-mo, a 61-year-old resident of the Wiyon area of Hyesan city in Yanggang province, was arrested on June 3 after he returned from visiting relatives in China, they said. Kim was shackled and tied with rope as he was dragged out from a town behind Wiyon brewery, said a source who spoke on condition of anonymity. The Ministry of State Security, which reports directly to leader Kim Jong-un, is the regime’s secret police force. It is known for its brutality and human rights abuses, experts say. “All North Korean travelers returning from China are required to report their whereabouts and details about their activities,” the source said. North Korea’s small community of Christians must conceal their faith to the fullest extent possible to avoid arrest and being sent to labor camps.
Violence Engulfs Venezuelan Capital, Teenage Protester Dies
Andrew Cawthorne, REUTERS
A 17-year-old Venezuelan protester died in ferocious clashes between security forces and protesters in Caracas on Wednesday, taking the death toll from unrest since April to at least 66. The government said Neomar Lander died when a homemade mortar exploded in his hands while hundreds of youths faced off with National Guard troops in the Venezuelan capital. Opposition lawmakers, however, said he was killed by a tear gas canister fired straight at him. The state prosecutor’s office announced a probe, without giving details. A Reuters photographer saw a young man, assumed to be Lander, lying bloodied and motionless on the street, receiving emergency first aid.
All Eyes On Venezuelan Military As Country Teeters
Mike Gonzalez, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
President Nicolás Maduro has greatly expanded the military’s authority and is leaning on the armed forces as his own grip on power weakens. The military has helped hold up the socialist administration for more than a decade, but never before was it the government’s main crutch. And despite the outward loyalty of top officers, cracks are beginning to appear. In April, three lieutenants publicly rejected Maduro as commander in chief and sought asylum in Colombia. Another lieutenant in a restive western state cut up his official military ID card as supporters cheered. “Soldiers must not turn their arms on the people,” he said. Days later, he was in military prison.
Using Clandestine Tactics, Venezuela Opposition Gains Ground With Poor
Eyanir Chinea, REUTERS
While the streets of the affluent east of the Venezuelan capital Caracas overflowed with protesters during a recent anti-government march, no-one demonstrated in the west side’s 23 de Enero slum. Residents of the poor hillside neighborhood instead watched from their windows and sidewalks as groups of armed, black-clad men wearing balaclavas rode motorbikes through their streets. Venezuela’s opposition calls such shows of force by so-called colectivo groups an intimidation tactic to prevent protests in Caracas’ poorer west end communities that have long been a stronghold of the Socialist government. In the face of such threats, slum residents who oppose Venezuela’s unpopular Socialist leader are organizing behind closed doors.
Vietnam Strips French-Vietnamese Professor Of Citizenship: French Officials
RADIO FREE ASIA
Vietnam’s government has stripped French-Vietnamese professor and former political prisoner Pham Minh Hoang of his citizenship against his will, throwing his right to stay in his home country into limbo, according to French consular officials. “The French consul general invited me to discuss some issues and said there was very bad news for me—that the Vietnamese government on May 17 had signed a decision to strip my citizenship,” he told RFA’s Vietnamese Service. “This will inevitably lead to my expulsion from Vietnam because I have dual French-Vietnamese citizenship,” he said, adding that no reason had been given for the order. According to Hoang, the French Embassy asked Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs whether the decision could be postponed or reversed, and was told that Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang had signed the order into effect and that it would be implemented. He said that the French Consulate had so far only received a notification letter signed by Quang announcing that Hoang’s citizenship had been stripped, but neither he nor French officials had been sent an official order, meaning Hoang remains a citizen of Vietnam for the time being.