The Fires in Tibet: China Has Forced World Attention Away From its Religious Repression
WALL STREET JOURNAL
A 24-year-old farmer set himself on fire this weekend in Tibet’s first reported self-immolation of the year, and approximately the 150th since 2009. Pema Gyaltsen intended to protest Chinese repression and call for the return of the exiled Dalai Lama. When relatives went to find him afterward at a local police station, they were beaten severely and detained overnight in harsh conditions. It remains unclear whether he has survived or succumbed to his wounds. The same Chinese government that persists in stifling religious freedom in Tibet increasingly demonizes and marginalizes the Dalai Lama overseas.
As Hong Kong Chooses Its Next Leader, China Still Pulls the Strings
Alan Wong, THE NEW YORK TIMES
For the fifth time in the two decades since this former British colony’s return to Chinese rule, Hong Kong’s next chief executive will be selected on Sunday by a committee stacked with supporters of the Chinese government rather than by a free election. With a victory by Beijing’s favored candidate all but a foregone conclusion, some are raising a difficult question: Did pro-democracy demonstrators miscalculate when they rallied against Beijing’s offer of a popular vote three years ago? “The proposal would have given the election false legitimacy, and the chief executive a false mandate,” said Nathan Law, one of the student leaders of the protest movement, which paralyzed parts of Hong Kong for nearly three months. “There’s absolutely no regret.”
US Preparing Cases Linking North Korea to Theft at NY Fed
Aruna Viswanatha and Nicole Hong, WALL STREET JOURNAL
Federal prosecutors are building cases that would accuse North Korea of directing one of the biggest bank robberies of modern times, the theft of $81 million from Bangladesh’s account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York last year, according to people familiar with the matter. The charges, if filed, would target alleged Chinese middlemen who prosecutors believe helped North Korea orchestrate the theft, sources said. The current cases being pursued may not include charges against North Koreans, but would likely implicate North Korea.
UN: Sanctions Disrupt Humanitarian Aid to North Korea
Eric Talmadge, ASSOCIATED PRESS
International sanctions on North Korea are taking a serious toll on humanitarian aid activities, according to a United Nations-led report. The report issued this week by the UN’s senior resident official in Pyongyang said sanctions are inadvertently hindering legitimate operations on the ground and have indirectly contributed to a “radical decline” in donations it said are badly needed by millions of North Korean women and children. It said “chronic food insecurity, early childhood malnutrition and nutrition insecurity” continue to be widespread in the North, which it noted ranked 98th out of 118 countries in the 2016 Global Hunger Index. More than 10 million people—or about 41 percent of the North Korean population—are undernourished, it said.To meet the “urgent needs of the most vulnerable,” it called for $114 million in donations.
Eleven Countries Signed a Letter Slamming China for Torturing Lawyers. The US did not.
Simon Denyer and Emily Rauhala, WASHINGTON POST
When 11 embassies signed on to a joint letter criticizing China over “credible claims” that lawyers and human rights activists have been tortured while in detention, there were two notable abstentions. One was the 28-nation European Union, although some EU members signed on to the letter. The other was the United States. With senior vacancies across the State Department, including for Secretary Rex Tillerson’s deputy, no ambassador is in place in Beijing. With a strong sense that the entire organization is being sidelined in foreign policy formulation, some diplomats said they weren’t surprised that the United States declined to sign on to the letter this time around.
Venezuela Begins Republishing Key Economic Indicator After Hiatus
Girish Gupta, REUTERS
Venezuela on Thursday re-started publishing a key economic indicator—money supply—after an unexplained month-long break. The datapoint is important given the dearth of information about inflation and economic growth in the midst of a crisis involving soaring prices and food shortages. Venezuela’s M2, an element of money supply, is up just under 190 percent in the last year, compared to 7.0 percent in neighboring Colombia and 6.0 percent in the United States. An increase in money supply is a major factor in Venezuela’s soaring inflation, given that the country is not producing goods or services to back up the extra money in circulation. The indicator suddenly stopped appearing on the central bank’s website on Feb. 24 though reappeared Thursday.