Words Count: Chinese State of the Nation Speech All About the “Party”
WALL STREET JOURNAL
China’s Premier Li Keqiang, as usual, delivered the government’s work report on Sunday in a nearly 100-minute speech to the legislature. Unusually, the document’s normal heavy doses of economic policy prescriptions came leavened with numerous mentions of the Party and its leader Xi Jinping. A China Real Time word search found 30 references to the “Party”—more than in any year since the launch of reforms under Deng Xiaoping in 1979. Mr. Xi was name-checked eight times, more than any serving leader since Mao Zedong racked up 17 work-report mentions in 1975.
China Congress: BBC Team Forced to Sign Confession
John Sudworth, BBC
We had arranged to meet a woman in her village in China’s central Hunan Province and to then travel with her by train to Beijing, filming as we went. But we never did get to meet our interviewee.The story we ended up with, however, reveals more about the exercise of power in China than any interview ever could. Every year, many tens of thousands of Chinese people—denied the possibility of obtaining any justice through the local Communist Party run courts—head to the capital, taking their grievances to the “State Bureau of Letters and Calls.” The system is also Communist Party-run, of course, and the chances of success are tiny. But for many, it’s the only chance they’ve got, and they often continue to petition, in vain, for years.
US Denounces Cuba’s Violations of the Privacy of its Citizens
Pablo Alfonso, MARTÍ NOTICIAS
The State Department’s 2016 Human Rights Report details how Cuba’s “government officials monitor correspondence and communications among citizens, track their movements and enter homes without legal authority and with impunity.” The report adds that although the Cuban Constitution protects the right of citizens to have private correspondence and states that the authorities must have legal permission to search their homes, these rights are violated routinely and systematically.
Malaysia Expels North Korean Ambassador Over Kim Jong-nam Murder
Yantoultra Ngui and Jake Maxwell Watts, WALL STREET JOURNAL
Malaysia expelled the North Korean ambassador, marking a further deterioration in relations since the killing of Kim Jong-nam at Kuala Lumpur International Airport three weeks ago. Accompanied by a police escort, Ambassador Kang Chol sped away wordlessly from the embassy direct to the airport late Monday afternoon. He had been ordered to leave by 6 p.m. local time, 48 hours after he failed to attend a requested meeting with officials on Saturday. Among the North Korean suspects police are seeking are three officials they believe may still be in Malaysia, though it wasn’t clear late Monday what had become of them.
North Korea Controls Its People By Keeping Keeping Them in The Dark About The Country’s History
RADIO FREE ASIA
It is widely known that the North Korean regime goes to extraordinary lengths to keep the majority of North Koreans from learning too much about the situation abroad and the lives of people in other countries. Unless they belong to a tiny elite, North Koreans cannot travel overseas freely, cannot read newspapers and magazines from foreign countries, and cannot listen to foreign broadcasts. The Internet, a symbol of our information age, is banned in North Korea as well. However, the North Korean regime does not merely isolate North Koreans from the outside world, but also seeks to isolate them from North Korea’s own past. The average North Korean has virtually no opportunity to learn about North Korean history.
Job Losses, Low Wages Add to Venezuela Economic Hardship
Patrick Gillespie, CNN
Venezuela only has $10.5 billion in foreign reserves left, according to its most recent central bank data. For rest of the year, Venezuela owes roughly $7.2 billion in outstanding debt payments. In 2011, Venezuela had roughly $30 billion in reserves. In 2015, it had $20 billion. The trend can’t persist much longer, but it’s hard to know exactly when Venezuela will run completely out of cash. “The question is: Where is the floor?” says Siobhan Morden, head of the Latin America fixed income strategy at Nomura Holdings. “If oil prices stagnate and foreign reserves reach zero, then the clock is going to start on a default.”
Venezuela’s Epileptic Patients Struggle With Seizures Amid Drug Shortage
Andreina Aponte, REUTERS
Venezuela’s brutal recession is worsening shortages of medicines from painkillers to chemotherapy drugs. With 85 of every 100 medicines now missing in Venezuela, anti-convulsants are among the toughest drugs to find, Venezuela’s main pharmaceutical association said. An estimated two million to three million Venezuelans suffer from epilepsy at some point in their lives, according to Caracas-based support organization LIVECE. Patients have been struggling to find specific anti-convulsive medicines as far back as 2012.