China’s Three-Year Run of Monthly Trade Surpluses Hits Surprising Wall
Mark Magnier, WALL STREET JOURNAL
China posted its first trade deficit in three years last month. The deficit is driven by higher commodity prices, an unexpected drop in exports, and the effect of the Lunar New Year holiday. February’s $9.15 billion deficit surprised analysts and market watchers, many of whom had expected China’s usual run of trade surpluses to continue. The country’s previous monthly trade gap was in February 2014, totaling nearly $23 billion.
China’s Human Rights Crackdown: A Global Problem
Benedict Rogers, THE DIPLOMAT
Last week’s attack on a BBC television crew in Hunan province, China, reveals once again the Communist Party of China’s brazen thuggery and out-of-control bullying. To physically attack a major foreign media crew, smashing their equipment, and then to force them to sign a confession is the most public example of what has been apparent for several years: Xi Jinping’s regime behaves more like gangsters than government. Yet just as the assault on the BBC helps highlight China’s aggressively repressive behavior toward anyone, Chinese or foreigner, deemed to dissent or threaten the regime’s interests, it is only the tip of the iceberg. If government-backed thugs can behave that way toward the international media, imagine how much worse it is for Chinese people.
UNPACU Leader José Daniel Ferrer released
During simultaneous operations carried out by the political police on Tuesday in six houses, several opponents of the opposition group Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) were arrested. The group’s leader, José Daniel Ferrer, was released Wednesday after being held for 24 hours. During the police operation, homes were raided and items such as laptops and food were seized. In a telephone interview with Radio Martí hours after his release, the UNPACU leader stated that he was in good health “despite the inhuman and unhygienic conditions of the cell where I was kept for 24 hours.”
North Korea Tried to Sell Nuclear-Weapon Material Last Year
Jay Solomon, WALL STREET JOURNAL
North Korea attempted to sell a form of lithium metal, a key material for developing miniaturized nuclear weapons, to unidentified international buyers last year, according to United Nations investigators tracking dictator Kim Jong-un’s weapons of mass destruction programs. The attempted sale, documented in a UN report this month, has sparked new concern in the Trump administration, Congress and the UN about the proliferation threat posed by Pyongyang’s growing nuclear and ballistic missile programs, congressional officials and nuclear weapons experts said.
Trump Administration “Underwhelmed” By Chinese Offer on North Korea
Josh Rogin, THE WASHINGTON POST
The Trump administration has no intention of taking up China on its proposal of a deal between the United States and North Korea. But behind the scenes, the White House is working to come up with an alternative approach that could be ready soon. The United States and North Korea are risking a “head-on collision,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Wednesday, calling on both sides to “flash the red light and apply brakes on both trains.” He proposed that the United States and South Korea halt their “Foal Eagle” military exercises in exchange for an end to nuclear and missile testing by the regime of Kim Jong-un.
Jon Huntsman is Said to Accept Post as Ambassador to Russia
Mark Landler, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Jon M. Huntsman Jr. has accepted President Trump’s offer to be ambassador to Russia, people with knowledge of the matter said on Thursday, taking on an assignment that is challenging in the best of times, and even more so now, given the questions swirling around Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign and its ties to Russian officials. Mr. Huntsman, a former Republican governor of Utah, served as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to China from 2009 to 2011.
Venezuelan Passports in Short Supply as Millions Try to Flee Troubled Nation
Andew O’Reilly, FOX NEWS
Along with basic food, medicine and even toilet paper, Venezuela now lacks the materials to meet to the soaring demand for new passports—making it almost impossible for those few Venezuelans with the monetary means of escaping the troubled Latin American nation to do so. While estimates of how many passport requests the socialist government received last year vary from between 1.8 million to 3 million, only 300,000 of the elusive documents were doled out. Everyday, hundreds of people line up outside the passport agency, known as Saime, in the capital of Caracas, in the hopes of obtaining one.