Xi Jinping, Seeking to Extend Power, May Bend Retirement Rules
Chris Buckley, NEW YORK TIMES
For years, China’s Communist Party has maintained a check on the power of its leaders by calling on them to retire if they have reached age 68 when a new term begins. Now Communist Party Leader Xi Jinping, already the strongest Chinese leader in decades, may be maneuvering to bend those rules to retain a formidable ally—and create a precedent he could use to extend his own time in power. Whether Mr. Xi can get away with changing the age ceiling for staying in the party’s top rank, the Politburo Standing Committee, has become a bellwether of how far he can consolidate his grip on a new party leadership that will be chosen in the fall.
Officials Ban Dozens of Religious Practices, Foreign Missionaries in China’s Xinjiang
RADIO FREE ASIA
Chinese authorities in the troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang have issued a detailed list of “illegal” religious activities spanning Islam, Christianity and Tibetan Buddhism, RFA has learned. After officials confirmed a generalized ban on unofficial Christian churches last week, RFA obtained a document believed to originate from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Religious and Minority Affairs Department which details a very specific list of 26 types of banned religious activities. The new rules were sent out to local governments, who are required to explain the rules to local people, residents said.
Will Cuba Embrace the Internet Revolution?
Will Grant, BBC
Raúl Castro has a little under a year to go before he steps down from the presidency. His expected successor, Vice-President Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel, is thought to be receptive to greater online access after he once publicly defended a group of young bloggers who had posted relatively critical material online. As the home internet pilot scheme draws to an close, the Cuban government must next decide whether to shut it down or roll it out across the island. Depending on the price, many thousands of potential users are ready to connect.
Malaysian Inquiry in Kim Jong-nam Killing Hampered as Suspects Hide in Embassy
Richard C. Paddock, NEW YORK TIMES
For years, North Korea has enjoyed the freedom for its citizens to visit, work and live in Malaysia, a rare privilege for a nation considered an outlaw by most of the world. Now that freedom is in danger, with the North Korean Embassy in a suburb of Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, at the center of a murder investigation that is upending the cozy diplomatic relationship between the two countries. Two North Korean men accused of participating in the Feb. 13 assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, have taken refuge in the embassy and are refusing to cooperate with the police. Their stance is presenting the Malaysian authorities with a daunting challenge as they try to crack a case with major international ramifications.
White House Options on North Korea Include Use of Military Force
Carol E. Lee and Alastair Gale, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
An internal White House review of strategy on North Korea includes the possibility of military force or regime change to blunt the country’s nuclear-weapons threat, people familiar with the process said, a prospect that has some US allies in the region on edge. While President Donald Trump has taken steps to reassure allies that he won’t abandon agreements that have underpinned decades of US policy on Asia, his pledge that Pyongyang would be stopped from ever testing an intercontinental ballistic missile—coupled with the two-week-old strategy review—has some leaders bracing for a shift in American policy.
Job Losses, Low Wages Add to Venezuela Economic Hardship
Eyanir Chinea, REUTERS
According to Consecomercio, a major retail industry group, Venezuela in the past 18 months lost close to one million private sector jobs.”Who is creating jobs? Nobody,” said Consecomercio Vice President Alfonso Riera. “That unemployed population unfortunately is migrating to the street, informal work or worse.” Government critics say nationalizations of businesses and more than a decade of price and currency controls have crippled private enterprise, but President Nicolás Maduro says Venezuela is a victim of an “economic war” led by business leaders with the help of the US. Venezuela has not reported official unemployment figures since April 2016, when the rate was at 7.3 percent.