How China Managed to Muffle the Voice of America
Sasha Gong, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Like its Soviet counterpart, the KGB, the Chinese Guo An has a fearsome reputation. Chinese citizens say it suppresses protests, harasses dissidents and monitors intellectuals. Using its vast fortune, Guo An has allegedly infiltrated overseas corporations, universities, civil groups and even foreign governments. Chinese real estate and investment tycoon Guo Wengui says that a great deal of what the spy agency spends is bankrolled by private Chinese businessmen. Mr. Guo agreed to be interviewed by me and my colleagues in the Mandarin Service of the Voice of America, the international public broadcaster entirely funded by American taxpayers. The Chinese Foreign Ministry summoned VOA’s Beijing correspondent and complained that the interview constituted interference in China’s internal affairs. The Chinese threatened to “respond seriously” if the interview went forward. A few hours later, the VOA’s top management in Washington asked me to cancel the live interview. Mr. Guo’s full story remains to be told.
One Belt, One Road, Many Bribes?
Alexandra Wrage, FORBES
The Beijing airport is still draped with One Belt, One Road banners, a week after the close of the summit here devoted to the massive transcontinental infrastructure initiative. Launched in 2013, Communist Party leader Xi Jingping’s ambitious project still gets little coverage in western media. For many, the summit last week is known only as the venue where Vladimir Putin surprised everyone by spotting a piano and sitting down to play the unofficial anthem of Moscow. So, what was Putin doing in Beijing last week, apart from playing the piano? He was there to ensure Russia’s stake in Xi’s bid to move China to center stage in global affairs.
Why Foreign Startups Fail in China
Uptin Saiidi, CNBC
It’s a dream for nearly any international start-up: enter China. The country’s massive population of more than 1.3 billion, of which 730 million are currently connected online, is attractive to almost any enterprise looking to expand and scale. But China is a big enough market for any local player to redesign a solution that’s localized for its own demographic, making it hard for foreign start-ups to access. “Ninety-nine percent of companies who want to access China as a foreign company, shouldn’t,” said Oscar Ramos, Program Director at Chinacelerator, an accelerator that helps connect startups across China’s borders. The one percent that Ramos said might have a chance, need to ask themselves what makes them better than any existing company in China.
North Korea Border Object Was Balloon, Says South
South Korea says an object which drifted over the border from North Korea on Tuesday appears to have been a balloon carrying propaganda leaflets. South Korean troops fired about 90 machine gun rounds towards the flying object. North Korea has flown drones over the border in the past and the incident came at a time of high tension around the heavily guarded border. The South said the balloons were likely to have come from inside North Korea. South Korean activists have often flown balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang propaganda messages and light goods like snacks in to North Korea, to the frustration of the South’s authorities. But defense ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun said the object on Tuesday had been spherical, not cylindrical like activists’ balloons.
Ending North Korea’s Cyber Impunity
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The world will have to take Pyongyang’s hackers as seriously as its nuclear weapons and missile programs. That’s one conclusion from Monday’s evidence from a private cybersecurity firm that North Korean hackers are behind the Wannacry ransomware that froze computers and encrypted data around the world on May 12. Symantec says it found the digital footprints of the Lazarus Group, a hacking syndicate that took data from Sony Entertainment in 2014 and stole $81 million from Bangladesh’s central bank last year. While computer forensics can’t finger hackers with 100% certainty, the code, techniques and servers point to Pyongyang. State-sponsored hacking for profit is unique to North Korea—a useful reminder that it isn’t so much a country as a criminal syndicate operating for the benefit of the Kim family. As sanctions close off other avenues for earning foreign currency, Pyongyang will likely step up its cyberattacks.
UN Security Council Weighs New Sanctions on North Korea
Anne Gearan, THE WASHINGTON POST
The United Nations Security Council edged closer to imposing new sanctions on North Korea with an emergency strategy session Tuesday and a unanimous condemnation of Pyongyang’s latest missile test. The council, including North Korea’s ally and protector China, met hours after warning Pyongyang that sanctions are a possibility. A statement issued Monday said the body agreed to “closely monitor the situation and take further significant measures including sanctions.” The statement is significant because it indicates a willingness by China to publicly tie additional sanctions to continued North Korean provocations. China has made similar links before agreeing to previous rounds of United Nations penalties, which are aimed at coercing North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
Chinese Student in Maryland is Criticized at Home for Praising US
Mike Ives, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Speaking at the University of Maryland, Yang Shuping, a graduating senior from China, sprinkled her upbeat commencement speech with observations that drew warm applause: The air was far cleaner in the United States than in China, she said, and she could openly discuss racism, sexism and politics in ways that she had never before dreamed possible. Growing up in China, “I was convinced that only authorities owned the narrative,” Ms. Yang, a theater and psychology major from the southern city of Kunming, told the crowd in a basketball arena in College Park, Md. “Only authorities could define the truth.” The speech on Sunday drew harsh criticism, however, from some of Ms. Yang’s Chinese classmates in Maryland and from legions of social media users in China, many of whom accused her of selling out her homeland.
No USAID Funds for Cuba in Trump Budget Proposal
Mimi Whitefield, MIAMI HERALD
USAID programs in Cuba, which have been highly controversial in recent years, aren’t funded under the Trump administration’s proposed State Department budget for Fiscal Year 2018. “As we work to streamline efforts to ensure efficiency and effectiveness of US taxpayer dollars, we acknowledge that we have to prioritize and make some tough choices,” said a USAID spokesperson. “Focusing our efforts will allow us to advance our most important policy goals of protecting America and creating American jobs.” There are no economic support funds for Cuba in the State Department’s 2018 budget proposal, which was released Tuesday. Such funding, which is appropriated by Congress and provided to USAID by the State Department, reached $20 million in fiscal year 2016. Cuba has always said the USAID programs aren’t welcome.
Venezuela: Man Set On Fire During Anti-Government Protests
Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro has excoriated opposition protesters on Sunday for setting a man on fire during a demonstration, accusing them of targeting him for being pro-government. “A person was set on fire, beaten up, stabbed… They nearly lynched him, just because he shouted out that he was a ‘Chavista’,” Maduro said, referring to the ruling socialist movement set up by his predecessor Hugo Chávez. Witnesses to the incident on Saturday afternoon, including a Reuters photographer, said the crowd had accused the man of being a thief. About 100 people, who had been participating in anti-Maduro protests, surrounded him, doused him in gasoline and set him alight in Plaza Altamira in east Caracas, the witnesses said.
Hugo Chávez’s Childhood Home Burned by Protestors in Venezuela, Lawmaker Says
Fabiola Sanchez and Hannah Dreier, THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE
Protesters set fire to late President Hugo Chávez’s childhood home in western Venezuela on Monday, an opposition lawmaker said, as protests against the South American nation’s socialist government grew increasingly hostile. While demonstrators are decrying current President Nicolás Maduro for the country’s triple-digit inflation, rising crime and shortages of food and medicine, they have also destroyed at least five statues commemorating Chávez, Maduro’s mentor and the founder of Venezuela’s “Bolivarian revolution.” Demonstrators lit the house in the city of Barinas where Chavez spent his early years aflame Monday afternoon along with several government buildings, including the regional office of the National Electoral Council, said Pedro Luis Castillo, a legislator who represents the area.