China Defends HK Law Interpretation to “Firmly Oppose” Secession
Ben Blanchard and Clare Jim, REUTERS
A controversial interpretation by China’s parliament of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution that effectively bars pro-independence lawmakers from taking office showed Beijing’s resolve to prevent secession, a Chinese leader said on Wednesday. Chinese leaders are increasingly concerned about a fledgling independence or secessionist movement in the former British colony of Hong Kong, which returned to mainland rule in 1997 amid promises of wide-ranging autonomies, including judicial independence under a “one country, two systems” arrangement.
China Keeps Mum Over Spending Targeting Activists, Social Unrest
RADIO FREE ASIA
While the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s apparent reluctance to put a figure on defense spending grabbed headlines on Tuesday, the confusion has masked an even murkier area of the national budget: the money the government spends keeping its people quiet. The domestic security budget was last reported in 2013 at US $130 billion, when it exceeded military spending. Since then, no further figures have been forthcoming. But a rare disclosure by a county government in the northern region of Inner Mongolia suggests that “stability maintenance” spending is easily keeping pace with the military budget.
Police Beat and Arrest Cuban Opposition Despite Protest of Citizens
Anairis Miranda Leyva was violently arrested despite the protest of passengers and bystanders at the bus terminal in Holguín. According to her mother, after Miranda was beaten she was put inside a patrol car and since then nothing has been shared about her. Her mother added that Miranda was traveling to the capital with the intention of delivering a letter to Raúl Castro in which she denounces the increase of repression in Cuba.
Son of Assassinated Kim Jong-nam Appears in Video
Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY
A video of a young man who identifies himself as the son of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea’s ruler who was assassinated with a highly toxic chemical weapon last month in Malaysia, surfaced online Wednesday. South Korea’s National Intelligence Service confirmed that the man in the video is Kim Han Sol, 22, but gave no further details. He is thought to be the eldest son of Kim Jong-nam, once viewed as North Korea’s heir apparent.
UN Security Council Decries North Korea Missile Test
Farnaz Fassihi, Jeremy Page, and Chun Han Wong, WALL STREET JOURNAL
The Security Council unanimously condemned North Korea’s most recent provocation at an emergency meeting Wednesday but announced no new action in response to the launch of four missiles this week toward the Sea of Japan. The move came as China at the UN reiterated its call for renewed negotiations with North Korea. Earlier in the day, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi proposed a deal in which Pyongyang would suspend its nuclear program and the US and South Korea would terminate ongoing military exercises.
First Lady Melania Trump Touts Equality at International Women’s Day Luncheon
Betsy Klein and Kate Bennett, CNN
“As an immigrant myself, having grown up in a communist society, I know all too well the value and importance of freedom and equal opportunity—ideals which this great nation was founded and has continued to strive towards throughout its history,” Trump said according to her prepared remarks. The first lady spoke from a podium in the State Dining Room, focusing on atrocities women are confronted with around the world, including human trafficking.
US Urges More Tolerance in Uzbekistan’s Treatment of Dissent
Olzhas Auyezov, REUTERS
Uzbekistan’s detention of a human rights activist and the extension of another activists’ prison term drew criticism from the United States on Tuesday, although it welcomed the release of other dissidents and urged more tolerance. Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has overseen the release of several dissidents sentenced to lengthy prison terms under the late Islam Karimov, who was the Central Asian country’s leader for 27 years. “These positive steps seem to foreshadow future releases and a more tolerant approach to civil society in general,” the US embassy in Uzbekistan said in a statement.”So, we were disappointed to learn of setbacks with other activists, such as the recent detention of Elena Urlaeva and the decision to uphold Azam Farmonov’s sentence extension.”