Demolition Gangs Forcibly Raze Villagers’ Houses in China’s Guangxi
RADIO FREE ASIA
Authorities in the southwestern Chinese region of Guangxi on Tuesday began demolishing houses without their occupants’ consent amid a long-running land dispute and continuing intimidation of local residents. Dozens of people in minivans wearing camouflage clothing accompanied a mechanical digger to the home of Xie Qingguo in Baihutou village early on Tuesday. “It was totally demolished,” Xie told RFA in an interview that afternoon. “They came here and surrounded the house, and dragged all my family outside.” Xie said most of his family’s belongings were left inside the house when it was destroyed.
China’s AgBank Suspends Account Being Used to Crowdfund Myanmar Rebels
Yimou Lee, REUTERS
One of China’s biggest state-owned lenders has suspended an account used to fund ethnic rebels fighting government troops in Myanmar, halting an arrangement that could have stoked diplomatic tensions between Beijing and Myanmar. The Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), which clashed with government forces this month, said that the Agricultural Bank Of China (AgBank) was no longer accepting funds into an account it used to receive donations from supporters. Reuters was unable to confirm what prompted AgBank’s move. It came after Reuters sent AgBank a list of questions regarding the transactions, which compliance experts said could point to a weakness in controls aimed at stopping the global financial system being used to fund terrorism or facilitate crime.
In a Rare Survey, Cubans Express a Hunger for Economic Growth
Azam Ahmed, THE NEW YORK TIMES
A hunger for economic opportunity. An embrace of tourism. Hope in a new era of normalized relations with the United States. These are some of the predominant sentiments expressed in a rare survey of 840 Cubans conducted in the country late last year by an independent research group, asking for opinions on topics from free speech to diplomatic ties to crime. What emerges most clearly from those interviewed is a desire to enjoy a more certain, and robust, economic future. In this, the Cuban people seem to agree with their government. And yet Cubans seemed to have little faith in their government’s capacity to deliver on those goals.
Wife Says Cuban Dissident Gets Three Years on Assault Charge
A Cuban dissident described by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience has been sentenced to three years in prison on an assault charge that his backers describe as fabricated, his wife said Monday. According to Amnesty International, five witnesses said Eduardo Cardet was pushed off his bicycle and detained by five agents as he returned home from visiting his mother on Nov. 30. The rights group said in January that Cardet was a prisoner of conscience detained for exercising freedom of expression and it called on Cuba’s government to release him.
North Korea Defector: Keep Pressure on Kim to Contain Nuclear Ambitions
Jenny Lee, VOA
The only way to contain North Korea’s nuclear ambitions is to eliminate the Kim Jong-un regime, a high-level North Korean diplomat who defected to South Korea last year told VOA, suggesting the US should continue deploying pressure tactics against Pyongyang. “If we recognize the North as a nuclear state, we are providing clear justification for its nuclear and missile tests and admitting its claim that it is developing a nuclear arsenal as a result of external threats [from the US and South Korea],” explained the diplomat, who defected to Seoul with his family in August 2016. “Kim Jong-un will never give up the nuclear program,” he added.
North Korea Flexes Its Military Muscle on YouTube, With Added Effects
Russell Goldman, THE NEW YORK TIMES
North Korea released a propaganda video this week depicting a United States aircraft carrier and a warplane being destroyed in computer-generated balls of fire, the latest salvo in an escalating war of words between the two nuclear powers. North Korea’s missiles will be “stabbed into the throat of the carrier,” and the jet will “fall from the sky,” it warns. The video, which also includes images of North Korea’s military and is narrated by a woman, was released by Uriminzokkiri, a state-run media outlet, and posted to YouTube. Its release coincides with the annual joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea known as Foal Eagle, and comes just days after Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson suggested that the United States was open to the possibility of a pre-emptive strike against North Korea.
GOP Takes Up Russia-Aligned Attack on Soros
Isaac Arnsdorf, Andrew Hanna, and Kenneth Vogel, POLITICO
A group of congressional Republicans is teaming up with Russia-backed politicians in Eastern Europe with the shared goal of stopping a common enemy: billionaire financier George Soros. Led by Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, the conservative lawmakers have signed on to a volley of letters accusing Soros of using his philanthropic spending to project his liberal sensibilities onto European politics. As Lee and other senators put it in a March 14 letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Soros’s Open Society Foundations are trying “to push a progressive agenda and invigorate the political left.” It’s an accusation that’s being fomented and championed by Moscow.