Xi Jinping Finds New Role for Mao’s Commissars
Rowan Callick, THE AUSTRALIAN
China is introducing political commissars—previously restricted to the People’s Liberation Army—to private companies and civil society organizations. The move marks a major extension of the power of the Chinese Communist Party, whose ideological focus has been reinvigorated under Communist Party leader Xi Jinping. The party committee of Tianjin, a port city east of Beijing, announced the move at a meeting late last week, saying it was intended “to solidify thoroughly the base of the communist party’s rule.” It marks a significant departure from Deng Xiaoping’s desire to split government and party functions and organizations. Recently, all private companies and community associations—from sports groups to churches and temples, to professional organizations—have been required to start incorporating communist party committees in their structures.
Killing CIA Informants, China Crippled US Spying Operations
Mark Mazzetti, Adam Goldman, Michael S. Schmidt, and Matt Apuzzo, THE NEW YORK TIMES
The Chinese government systematically dismantled CIA spying operations in the country starting in 2010, killing or imprisoning more than a dozen sources over two years and crippling intelligence gathering there for years afterward. Current and former American officials described the intelligence breach as one of the worst in decades. It set off a scramble in Washington’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies to contain the fallout, but investigators were bitterly divided over the cause. Some were convinced that a mole within the CIA had betrayed the United States. Others believed that the Chinese had hacked the covert system the CIA used to communicate with its foreign sources. Years later, that debate remains unresolved. But there was no disagreement about the damage.
Cubans Become the Road Warriors of DC Diplomatic Corps
Mimi Whitefield, THE MIAMI HERALD
Cuban diplomats have been traveling across the United States so frequently since President Donald Trump took office that the slogan of the Cuban Embassy in Washington could be “See America First.” So far this month, Cuban Ambassador to the US José Ramón Cabañas traveled to Baltimore to receive Cuban artists participating in a joint show with American artists called “Building Bridges: The Politics of Love, Identity and Race,” spent four days filled with meetings in the Tampa Bay area, and traveled to Kentucky where he met with Gov. Matt Bevin, the mayors of Lexington and Louisville and Kentucky business executives—and the month isn’t even over yet. The goal of the frenetic travel: to win friends and influence people and make sure the fledgling US-Cuba relationship continues to improve under the new administration.
North Korea Fires Medium Range Missile in Latest Test
North Korea fired a medium-range missile on Sunday, according to US and South Korean officials, the latest ballistics test by a country speeding up its development of nuclear weapons and missiles. The latest launch comes a week after North Korea successfully tested a new mid-range missile that it said could carry a heavy nuclear warhead. North Korea has defied all calls to rein in its nuclear and missile programs, even from China, its lone major ally, calling them legitimate self-defense.
UN Security Council to Meet on North Korea’s Latest Missile Test
Ken Bredemeir, VOA
The United Nations Security Council plans to have an emergency meeting Tuesday in response to North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test. Uruguay’s mission to the UN said the meeting was requested by the United States, South Korea and Japan. Seoul’s military said the missile was fired from South Pyeongan province and flew about 500 kilometers before landing in the Sea of Japan. It was Pyongyang’s second missile test in a week and 10th this year. A joint chiefs statement said, “Our military is closely monitoring signs for additional provocation by the North Korean military and we are keeping a full military readiness.”
China Warns Taiwan of Continued Lockout From WHO Assembly
Jamey Keaten, THE WASHINGTON POST
China’s health minister has all but slammed the door on any more participation for Taiwan at the World Health Organization’s annual assembly until the island’s government accepts the “One China” principle. Health Minister Li Bin blamed the party of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, saying its refusal to accept the idea of a single China has torpedoed its ambitions to attend—leading to the first lockout of Taiwan as an observer state since 2008. Li said that in the past, China had “agreed to let the Taiwan region attend” under a “special arrangement” based on acceptance of the principle.
Ex-IBM Employee Guilty of Stealing Secrets for China
Jeff John Roberts, FORTUNE
A former developer for IBM pled guilty on Friday to economic espionage and to stealing trade secrets related to a type of software known as a clustered file system, which IBM sells to customers around the world. Xu Jiaqiang stole the secrets during his stint at IBM from 2010 to 2014 “to benefit the National Health and Family Planning Commission of the People’s Republic of China,” according to the US Justice Department. In a press release describing the criminal charges, the Justice Department also stated that Xu tried to sell secret IBM source code to undercover FBI agents posing as tech investors. (The agency does not explain if Xu’s scheme to sell to tech investors was to benefit China or to line his own pockets).
Mass Rally, Violent Clashes in 50th Day of Protests
Nicole Chavez, CNN
Massive demonstrations, violence and a rising death toll marked 50 consecutive days of anti-government protests in Venezuela. Hundreds marched on Saturday along Caracas’s Francisco Fajardo highway, one of the city’s major routes, while some flanked a gigantic sign that read “Elections Now” over an overpass. “Fifty days facing threats, tear gas and pellets. Fifty days in which we have transformed fear into courage and strength,” opposition leader Miguel Pizarro wrote on Twitter. Anti-government protesters want new elections and have called for President Nicolás Maduro’s resignation. The government has repeatedly blocked any attempts to oust Maduro from power by a referendum vote. It has also delayed local and state elections. Since March 29, opposition leaders have faced off with Maduro and his supporters, accusing him of imposing a dictatorship.
Vietnam’s Communist Party Calls For Public Dialogue on Governance
RADIO FREE ASIA
Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party has called for open dialogue with the people to hear “different opinions” on how to run the country, but observers have questioned whether the government is willing to listen to criticism and embrace change. In a recent online conference to review the implementation of the Politburo’s “Directive No. 5” on learning from and following the ideology of Vietnam’s communist revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh, Central Propaganda Department chief Vo Van Thuong said the party is ready to look outside its ranks for ideas on governance. In the 63 years since assuming power in North Vietnam and 42 years since taking control of the entire country, the Communist Party has been the sole political party and only source of official ideology in Vietnam. However, over the past ten years, several organizations have espoused views that are different from those of the party.