China’s Xi Calls for “Great Wall of Iron” to Safeguard Resistive Xinjiang
John Ruwitch, Michael Martina, and Christian Shepherd, REUTERS
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday called for a “great wall of iron” to safeguard the restive western region of Xinjiang after a top official said Islamist separatists pose the “most prominent” challenge to the country’s stability. Xi make the comments at a meeting of Xinjiang’s lawmakers on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People’s Congress in Beijing, marking his first ever visit to the regional delegation since taking office. Beijing has long said it faces a determined campaign by a group known as the East Turkestan Independence Movement in Xinjiang.
A Prank on Chinese Television Shows Dissidents’ Wile
According to a program on China Central Television, a state-run broadcaster, the following are the names of traitors: Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao. Well, sort of. The broadcaster itself was clearly not claiming the president of that name, or his prime minister, or their immediate predecessors, were enemies of the people. Rather, it aired a historical drama called “The Qin Empire” and someone slipped the names into the latest episode. Their extraordinary, if fleeting, appearance was a glimpse of the dissent that still lurks in China, and that dissent can sometimes outwit its army of censors.
Cuba Welcomes First Norwegian Cruise Line Vessel from US
LATIN AMERICAN HERALD TRIBUNE
The cruise ship Marina, with the Florida-based Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., arrived Thursday at the port of Havana with 1,250 passengers on its first trip to Cuba. This June, Cuba will welcome the Carnival Paradise, a cruise ship that can carry 2,052 passengers arriving from Tampa and the largest vessel from the US to visit the island up to that point. Although the prohibition on tourist travel to Cuba for US citizens is still in effect, they can get to the island under 12 authorized categories, including “people-to-people educational trips.” For the first time in its history, Cuba received more than 4 million tourists in 2016, a record representing an increase of 14.5 percent over the previous year. Given the tourist flow so far in 2017, 4.2 million visitors are predicted by year end.
North Korean Women in Military and Construction Units Suffer Rights Abuses
RADIO FREE ASIA
Despite a decades-old North Korean law asserting equal rights, women serving in the country’s military and construction brigades are routinely abused by their supervisors, with some pressured to provide sexual favors and others forced into prostitution. Official guarantees of equal rights for men and women have no real impact in North Korean life, according to a source in Yanggang province. “Although all North Korean residents are the victims of human rights violations by the [ruling] Party and leadership, the violation of women’s rights is particularly serious.”
Internet Blocked in Tibetan Areas of China in Run-Up to Sensitive Anniversary
RADIO FREE ASIA
Authorities in southwestern China’s Sichuan province are blocking internet access in a Tibetan prefecture in the run-up to a sensitive political anniversary. Authorities fear that Tibetan residents may organize protests inspired by exiles living outside the country, sources say. The move blocks service in 10 counties of the Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and remains in effect through March 17. “Now, because of the March 10 anniversary of National Uprising Day, the authorities are concerned that residents of Tibetan areas could create problems under the influence of activities organized outside the country,” according to one resident.
Venezuela’s Spiraling Violence
Martin Rodil, THE HILL
As we begin 2017, Venezuela is a true global leader in violence. Shootings, stabbings, grenades, bombs, tear gas, kidnappings, gang violence, extortion; you name it, we’ve got it. According to the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, Venezuela is now the second most violent country in the world. With the regime of the dictatorial socialist president, Nicolás Maduro, creating anarchy infused with dangerously rife corruption, sophisticated weaponry has turned entire areas of the country into war zones.