China May Change Cybersecurity Rules Amid Pushback
Morgan Chalfant, THE HILL
China is considering delaying contentious cybersecurity rules set to go into effect in June amid pushback from international groups. Earlier this week, dozens of organizations from numerous countries and sectors wrote to the Cyberspace Administration of China of their “significant concerns” with parts of the new law, asking that it be delayed. The Cyberspace Administration of China then organized a meeting with representatives of international technology companies and others on Friday to propose adjustments to implementation of parts of the law. One potential change would be establishing a “phase-in” period, which would delay full implementation for 18 months—or until the end of next year. It is unclear what other changes were proposed at the meeting.
China Says No Mining In Its Immediate Plans for Antarctica
Matthew Brown, THE WASHINGTON POST
China plans to expand its scientific research in Antarctica in coming years amid worries over the area’s susceptibility to climate change, but has no immediate plans to mine or develop natural resources that could be exposed as the ice cap shrinks, government officials said Monday. China’s growing interest in the frozen continent is in the spotlight as it hosts a meeting of more than 40 nations that oversee management of Antarctica under a 1959 treaty. Human activity in Antarctica is governed by agreements designating it as a natural reserve. Those protocols also prohibit military bases and the extraction of natural resources, although there has been speculation China one day could seek to tap into Antarctica’s mineral reserves to support its economic expansion.
Cuba’s Proxy War in Venezuela
Mary Anastasia O’Grady, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro is responding to mass demonstrations by selectively killing civilians. If, as a result, some branch of the military breaks with the regime, the country will descend into civil war. But until then it’s a one-sided slaughter. It’s also a Cuban proxy war. More than a dozen high-ranking Cuban officers are said to be in Venezuela, along with thousands of Cuban intelligence agents. Their job is to keep Venezuelan army officers under constant surveillance to prevent the feared military uprising to restore democracy. If the international community wants to head off disaster, a good place to start would be in Havana. The international community has the power, through sanctions, to rein in Cuba. If it fails to do so, the Venezuelan opposition will be massacred.
Cost of North Korea Defections Soars Amid Tighter Restrictions
RADIO FREE ASIA
The cost of bribing a broker to defect from North Korea has skyrocketed since last year amid tighter border restrictions and harsher punishments for security personnel found to have aided in escapes across the Tumen and Yalu rivers into China, according to rights groups. “The expense of crossing the river” has increased to an average of US $13,000 per person, and as high as US $16,000, this year from the usual price of US $8,900 at the end of 2016, multiple North Korea human rights organizations have said, attributing the increase to fewer guards willing to facilitate defections. With a policy of “death for those involved in defections” since regime leader Kim Jong-un assumed power in North Korea in 2012, fewer people in positions of power are willing to risk themselves to help others flee the reclusive Stalinist state.
Taiwanese Minister: China is Playing Politics With Health
Jamey Keaten, ASSOCIATED PRESS
Taiwan’s health minister on Monday accused China of playing politics with health after Taiwan was blocked from taking part in the annual meeting of the governing body of the World Health Organization for the first time since 2008. Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung lashed out at China’s actions, which Beijing said was taken because Taiwan’s year-old government has reneged on the “One China” principle. “Are we here to discuss politics, or are we here to discuss health?” Chen told supporters and journalists. “I think that all discussion should be based on the right to health, instead of anything political.” The World Health Assembly accepted the exclusion of Taiwan without a vote at the beginning of its annual session in Geneva Monday. Taiwan isn’t a UN member state, but had been granted assembly “observer status” every year since 2009 under an arrangement on the “One China” principle.
Rubio Pushes Taiwan Travel as Trump Plays to China on North Korea
Al Weaver, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER
A bipartisan group of senators is pushing legislation to encourage travel to and from Taiwan, a move that could irritate China as the Trump administration looks to tighten relations with Beijing amid the ongoing situation with North Korea. The bill, titled the Taiwan Travel Act, introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., would encourage visits between US and Taiwanese officials and be a follow-up to the Taiwan Relations Act, which was passed in 1979 and redefined relations between the two countries. However, it comes at a crucial time for President Trump, who continues to push Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping to help solve the issues between the US and North Korea.
Venezuela’s Irreconcilable Visions for the Future
Vanessa Buschschlüter, BBC
“Venezuela is now a dictatorship,” says Luis Ugalde, a Spanish-born Jesuit priest who during his 60 years living in Venezuela has become one of the South American nation’s most well-known political scientists. A former rector of the Andres Bello Catholic University in Caracas, Mr. Ugalde compares Venezuela to an ailing patient who is on the brink of being killed off by well-meaning but incompetent doctors. Venezuela’s problems are not new, he says. At their heart is the mistaken belief that it is a rich country. He argues that while it may have the world’s largest proven oil reserves, Venezuela should be considered overwhelmingly poor because it hardly produces anything except oil. A lack of investment in anything but the booming oil industry in the 20th century meant that its human talent was never really fostered and its economy never diversified, resulting in an absolute reliance on imports.
Venezuela holds 5,000 Russian Surface-to-Air MANPADS Missiles
Girish Gupta, REUTERS
Venezuela possesses 5,000 Russian-made MANPADS surface-to-air weapons, according to a military document, the largest known stockpile in Latin America and a source of concern for US officials amid the country’s mounting turmoil. Venezuela’s socialist government has long used the threat of an “imperialist” invasion by the United States to justify an arms buildup. Much of that arsenal was obtained from Russia by Venezuela’s late President Hugo Chávez, whose tenure lasted from 1999 until his death in 2013. The missiles, which are shoulder-mounted and can be operated by one person, pose a serious threat to commercial and military aircraft. Weapons experts said there have long been fears that the weapons could be stolen, sold or somehow channeled to the wrong hands, concerns exacerbated by the current civil unrest in Venezuela and the economic crisis roiling the oil-producing nation.