Chinese-North Korean Venture Shows How Much Sanctions Can Miss
Jeremy Page and Jay Solomon, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
For most of the past decade, a Chinese state-owned company had a joint venture with a North Korean company under sanctions for involvement in Pyongyang’s atomic-weapons program. China’s Limac Corp. and North Korea’s Ryonbong General Corp. set up a joint venture in 2008 to mine minerals that are useful in making phones, computers, nuclear reactors, and missiles. The partnership shows how easily North Korea has skirted sanctions to do business with Chinese firms, a vital lifeline for the regime. The scope of the Limac-Ryonbong joint venture and its status are unclear. It was incorporated in North Korea, which doesn’t disclose corporate records.
China Puts Body Cameras on Troubled Security Force
Josh Chin, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
China has mandated the use of body cameras or other video recorders by a law-enforcement agency often accused of thuggish behavior, in a bid to mute criticism with an unusual embrace of transparency. China’s chengguan, or urban-management officers, handle non-police matters such as enforcing sanitation rules and keeping sidewalks clear. A reputation for violence has made them a lightning rod for public ire, particularly in the smartphone era when accusations often come with visual evidence. The government’s nod to transparency comes as the ruling Communist Party, under pressure from slowing economic growth, seeks to address sources of popular discontent and reclaim its reputation as a defender of the poor.
Is North Korea Targeting University Elites?
Juliet Perry, CNN
In the last three weeks, two US citizens have been detained by the North Korean regime. Both men work at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, one of the few schools to employ foreign experts in North Korea. Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, or PUST, is run by evangelical Christians. Due to exposure to foreign faculty members, pupils are heavily vetted for “political reliability” before they are admitted. The university is still highly outward-looking by North Korean standards, in a nation where foreign academics are relatively rare. Even so, it’s expected that students report on their interactions with foreign staff.
Taiwan Pushes for Inclusion in Global Health Summit
Matthew Brown, ASSOCIATED PRESS
Taiwan is pushing for a last-minute invitation to an annual World Health Organization summit amid rising pressure from Beijing to isolate the island by blocking its participation in international events. Although Taiwan has attended as an observer since 2009, China has been stepping up diplomatic pressure on Taiwan’s government over President Tsai Ing-wen’s refusal to endorse Beijing’s view that Taiwan is Chinese territory. Tsai, who took office just days before last year’s summit, tweeted Sunday that the self-governing democracy deserves inclusion. While Taiwan has received some international support, Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said most countries back China’s stance.
Russian Outlet Sputnik Falls Out of DC Media Orbit With Denied Bid For Capitol Hill Credentials
Andrew Blake, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Sputnik, a news service owned and operated by the Russian government, has lost its bid to be permanently credentialed on Capitol Hill over its direct ties to Moscow. The Congressional Periodical Press Gallery has denied Sputnik’s request for a permanent media pass dashing for now the outlet’s odds of closer access to Washington’s movers and shakers. Periodical Press Gallery membership lends approved outlets greater access on Capitol Hill while also typically opening doors to other centers of power in Washington, like the White House and Supreme Court. Sputnik is operated by Rossiya Segodnya, a media conglomerate wholly owned by the Russian government, and has been widely accused of peddling articles beneficial to Moscow and President Vladimir Putin’s regime.
FBI Investigating Jane Sanders for Alleged Bank Fraud
Olivia Beavers, THE HILL
Federal investigators are looking into allegations that Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) wife, Jane Sanders, falsified loan documents while she served as the president of Burlington College, according to multiple reports. The small Vermont liberal arts school closed down in May 2016, after going bankrupt and failing to meet accreditation standards. The college began to face financial difficulties during Sanders’s tenure from 2004 to 2011, falling $10 million into debt when the school purchased a new campus in 2010. Sanders has been accused of falsifying the information on the loan documents in order to expand the college grounds.
Venezuela’s Jailed Lopez is Well, Urges More Protests
Alexandra Ulmer and Deisy Buitrago, REUTERS
Jailed opposition Venezuelan politician Leopoldo Lopez is well and is urging street demonstrators to keep up massive anti-government protests, his wife said on Sunday after her first visit with the former presidential hopeful in over a month, putting to rest rumors of his ill health. With tensions already high after over a month of street action, many Venezuelans were shocked on Wednesday when a journalist tweeted that Lopez had been taken to hospital without vital signs. President Nicolás Maduro’s leftist government later released a video of Lopez saying he was fine, but his wife, Lilian Tintori, said the footage was “false” and demanded to see him. Lopez, a former mayor jailed in 2014 for allegedly fomenting violent street protests, is indeed alive and well, Tintori told reporters after a visit at the Ramo Verde military prison with Lopez’ mother and two children.
How Venezuela Ruined Its Oil Industry
Robert Rapier, FORBES
Venezuela is a country in crisis. Protesters that are opposed to the socialist government are being killed, and Venezuelan citizens are starving to death. A humanitarian disaster is unfolding that has been in the making for years. But how can it be that the country with the world’s largest proved oil reserves can’t afford to feed its people? The current crisis can be traced to the historical management of the country’s oil industry. Venezuela’s highest-ever oil production occurred in 1998 at 3.5 million barrels per day (BPD). That also happened to be the year that Hugo Chávez was elected president of Venezuela. During the Venezuelan general strike of 2002–2003, Chávez fired 19,000 employees of the state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) and replaced them with employees loyal to his government.