The Extraordinary Ways in Which China Humiliates Muslims
Chinese officials describe the far western province of Xinjiang as a “core area” in the vast swathe of territory covered by the country’s grandiose “Belt and Road Initiative” to boost economic ties with Central Asia and regions beyond. They hope that wealth generated by the scheme will help to make Xinjiang more stable—for years it has been plagued by separatist violence which China says is being fed by global jihadism. But the authorities are not waiting. In recent months they have intensified their efforts to stifle the Islamic identity of Xinjiang’s ethnic Uighurs, fearful that any public display of their religious belief could morph into militancy.
US Diplomats Help Chinese Lawyer’s Family Stage Dramatic Escape
Simon Denyer, WASHINGTON POST
A dramatic account has emerged of a rescue staged by US diplomats in Thailand in March, snatching the wife of a prominent Chinese human rights lawyer and their two daughters out of the clutches of Chinese security agents and escorting them to safety in the United States. Chen Giuqiu’s husband, Xie Yang, was arrested during a crackdown on human rights lawyers in July 2015. He severely embarrassed the government by releasing a detailed account of how he was tortured in detention. Under constant pressure from the authorities, Chen fled with their daughters to Thailand in February, only to also land in jail. Chinese officials demanded that she be deported to China—but were thwarted when the American diplomats intervened.
In Reversal, Chinese Lawyer Confesses, and Rights Group Denounce His Trial
Chris Buckley, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Before the Chinese human rights lawyer Xie Yang stood trial for subversion, he wrote a letter saying he would confess to such charges only if he was tortured. But on Monday, he appeared at court a drastically altered man. He had become a seemingly contrite actor in a trial intended to discredit China’s struggling dissident lawyers who take up contentious cases and want courts freed of Communist Party control. At the trial, Mr. Xie withdrew his claims of torture, which were laid out in piercing detail in transcripts of meetings shared earlier by his former defense lawyers. He pleaded guilty to the subversion charge and a charge of disrupting court proceedings. And he placed blame for his years as a combative lawyer on seductive but toxic ideas about constitutional government learned from study sessions abroad.
Number of Political Prisoners in Cuba Doubles as Castro Dictatorship Ramps Up Repression
Karina Martín, PANAM POST
The number of political prisoners in Cuba has doubled since last year, and shows no sign of declining. The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation released a report that revealed the island’s government has increased its number of political prisoners to twice of what it had the previous year. According to the report, there are now at least 140 people who have been convicted due to political motivation or to political conditions. Of those, 54 are members of the Cuban Patriotic Union dissident group. One of the more prominent examples of these arrests occurred when three coordinators of the Cuba Decide opposition movement were kidnapped by state security agents and police, according to another Cuban opposition member, Rosa María Paya.
Germany to Clamp Down on North Korea’s Berlin Operations
The German government is planning on clamping down on North Korea, which has been using parts of its Berlin embassy as a youth hostel and conference center, amid growing concerns about its nuclear program. The Foreign Ministry on Tuesday confirmed a report from Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung paper that the operations were to be soon shut down in line with increased UN sanctions against North Korea. The outlets reported the embassy receives a “high five-figure” monthly sum from the operator of the facilities, located in the middle of Berlin not far from landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate. Deputy foreign minister Markus Ederer said in a statement that Germany “needs to increase pressure to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table.”
North Korea’s Invitation to China’s Belt and Road Summit “May Cast Shadow Over UN Sanctions”
Shi Jiangtao, SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
China announced that a North Korean delegation had been invited to attend the upcoming belt and road summit, despite a spat between the communist neighbors. Observers were surprised at the announcement by foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang. They said the move might hinder an international effort to pressure Pyongyang to rein in its nuclear program. The South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that Kim Yong-jae, the North Korean minister of external economic relations, would lead its delegation. Zhang Liangui, a professor of strategic studies at the Communist Party’s Central Party School, said the decision to invite North Korea to the summit was “very unwise,” as it could send the wrong signal to the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un.
China is Tightening the Screws on Taiwan. Here are the Ways it is Exerting Pressure
Ralph Jennings, LOS ANGELES TIMES
Taiwan gave up hope Monday that it would be invited to the World Health Organization’s annual assembly in Geneva as an observer. Officials in Taipei believe that China, Taiwan’s 70-year political rival, pressured the UN group’s secretariat to withhold an invitation to the May 22-31 event. China claims sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan and wants the two sides to unify. Taiwan has observed the assembly, where 192 countries discuss policy and a budget, every year since 2009 as the two sides built trust through dialogue. But this year’s assembly is the first under Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who disputes China’s insistence that Taiwan consider itself Chinese territory.
US Lawmakers Visit Dalai Lama, Highlight Situation in Tibet
Douglas Busvine, REUTERS
A US Congressional delegation visited the Dalai Lama at his headquarters in India, seeking to draw world attention to human rights in Tibet as President Donald Trump eyes warmer ties with China. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi flew with a bipartisan delegation to the Himalayan hill town where the 81-year-old Buddhist leader is based. The meeting is likely to upset China, which regards the Dalai Lama as a separatist. The lawmakers’ visit comes at a awkward time for Trump. Campaigning for election, he had cast China as a trade adversary and currency manipulator, but he now wants Communist Party leader Xi Jinping’s support to restrain nuclear-armed North Korea.
Why Did Trump Accept Venezuela’s Money?
Kenneth Rogoff, THE BOSTON GLOBE
There is a certain irony in recent news that Venezuela donated a half million dollars to Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration through Petróleos de Venezuela, the state-owned oil company. Venezuela, of course, is a serial defaulter, having done so more times than any other country over the last two centuries. Recently, Venezuela’s despotic socialist government has been so desperate to avoid another default (which would be the country’s 11th since independence) that it mortgaged its industrial crown jewels, including the US-based refiner Citgo, to the Russians and the Chinese. It is simplistic to portray the Venezuelan tragedy as an apocryphal tale of what happens when a country is taken over by left-wing populists. But it is true that Venezuela’s current horror show is very much a product of two decades of left-wing misgovernment.
Former Minister Warns of Civil War in Venezuela
Anatoly Kurmanaev, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Nationwide protests are spreading beyond President Nicolás Maduro’s control and risk morphing into civil war, said a retired Venezuelan general who was in charge of suppressing the last wave of unrest three years ago. “We’re seeing much larger masses protesting across all major cities, including the working-class neighborhoods who once firmly supported the government,” said Major Gen. (Ret.) Miguel Rodríguez Torres. “The government is losing control.” The embattled president needs to begin negotiating election dates now to avoid plunging the country into anarchy, he added.
Gas Masks, Wooden Shields, Gardening Gloves: How Venezuela’s Protestors Are Protecting Themselves
Mariana Zuñiga and Nick Miroff, THE WASHINGTON POST
After six hard-fought weeks in the streets, the standoff between anti-government protesters and security forces is growing scarier and more lethal. To protect themselves, demonstrators here in the capital and in other cities have started outfitting themselves in homemade armor and other improvised combat gear. While most of the protesters have remained nonviolent, there are also hooded militants tossing molotov cocktails and launching rocks with slingshots. The security forces, meanwhile, appear increasingly determined to choke the protest movement with brute force, including the use of copious amounts of tear gas.
Venezuela Military Courts “Used Against Protesters”
Venezuela’s opposition, non-government organizations and international bodies have accused the government of using military courts against its critics. The courts have detained at least 50 protesters, according to a local human rights organization. The secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS) likened the country to a dictatorship. Government officials have not confirmed the arrests or the military processing of civilian suspects. “The right and basic guarantees of due process no longer exist in Venezuela from the moment a civilian is forced to appear before a military court,” said Luis Almagro, the Uruguayan head of the OAS, in a video statement on Monday.