China Arrests More Than a Dozen North Korean Defectors
Elizabeth Shim, UPI
China may have arrested as many as fourteen North Korean defectors in the last two weeks, according to multiple sources. An activist of an unidentified nationality who works with refugees reported that Chinese “traffic police” in the northeastern city of Shenyang detained seven defectors and one Chinese “broker” traveling in the same vehicle. The arrests come at a time when China has introduced a new requirement for intercity bus travelers, who must now provide their real names and proof of identification in order to purchase tickets, according to the source. The North Korean refugees are at risk of being repatriated to their country of origin.
North Korea Claims Advances on Long-Range Missile Capabilities
Johnathan Cheng, WALL STREET JOURNAL
North Korea said Sunday that it has perfected a new high-thrust rocket engine, claiming another advance toward being able to fire a long-range missile. This report came one day after the US said that it was considering a military option against the North. North Korea conducted a successful ground jet test at a launch site in its northwest on Saturday at dawn, with Kim Jong-un personally overseeing the test, according to the North’s Korean Central News Agency. “The results of the test confirmed the stable maintenance of technical indices of all systems,” KCNA reported, adding that the test provided North Korea with “the perfect guarantee of their structural reliability.”
China Accused by Taiwan of Stepping Up Spy Operations
Michael Bristow, BBC
China is accused of increasing its secret operations in Taiwan after the island elected the independence-leaning Tsai Ing-wen as president last year. Wang Ting-yu, chairman of the defense committee in Taiwan’s parliament, said Chinese spies were masquerading as academics or business people. He claimed Beijing was trying to sow chaos within Taiwanese society. China considers the self-ruling island a territory which must be reunited with the mainland—by force if necessary.
EU Releases 600 Million Euros in Aid to Shore Up Shaky Ukrainian Economy
RADIO FREE EUROPE
The European Commission has agreed to send Ukraine 600 million euros to shore up its deteriorating economy, ending months of delays over conditions linked to the loan. With Ukraine in a third year of war, the European Union softened demands that Kyiv first lift a ban on Ukrainian wood exports, saying the money could now be sent because the government had submitted a bill to change that policy. “Ukraine has done a remarkable job of stabilizing and reforming its economy, despite the armed conflict unfolding on its soil,” said the Commission’s Vice President, Valdis Dombrovskis. The conditions the EU has attached to the aid are aimed at modernizing the economy and ridding Kyiv of entrenched corruption.
Rubio Introduces South China Sea Sanctions Legislation
Tyler Hlavac, STARS AND STRIPES
Sen. Marco Rubio has proposed legislation that would penalize Chinese nationals or organizations that participate in China’s artificial island-building projects in the South China Sea. Rubio, R-Fla., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and its East Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee, introduced the bill on Wednesday. It’s co-sponsored by Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. The measure would bar American citizens from making investments in Chinese groups under sanction. It would also restrict foreign aid to countries that recognize China’s claim to sovereignty over maritime claims in the region if contested by neighboring nations.
Venezuela Arrests Brownie and Croissant Bakers in “Bread War”
Andrew Cawthorne, REUTERS
Venezuela arrested four bakers making illegal brownies and other pastries as President Nicolás Maduro’s socialist government threatens to take over bakeries in Caracas as part of a new “bread war.” Maduro has sent inspectors and soldiers into more than 700 bakeries around the capital to enforce a rule that 90 percent of wheat must be destined to loaves rather than more expensive pastries and cakes. It was the latest move by the government to combat shortages and long lines for basic products that have characterized Venezuela’s economic crisis over the last three years.