China passes tough new intelligence law


China’s legislature passed a new intelligence law on Tuesday after an unusually brief round of discussions, a draft of which gave new powers to monitor suspects, raid premises and seize vehicles and devices.

President Xi Jinping has overseen a raft of legislation to bolster national security against perceived threats from both within and outside China.

The government gained new powers with a national security law passed in 2014, followed by measures on counter-terrorism, the management of foreign non-government bodies and cyber security, among other subjects.

On Tuesday, the standing committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) passed the law, the largely rubber stamp body said in a short statement on its website.

The law will go into effect on Wednesday, it added, without giving details of what was in the law or how its contents had changed since a draft was circulated in May.

A draft was only released for one round of public consultation that lasted three weeks. Laws are often subject to at least two rounds of consultation, or more if controversial.

The legislation was also passed after only two rounds of discussion by parliament’s standing committee. Laws often go through three or more rounds.

State news agency Xinhua said last week that the law was “needed to ensure the nation’s security interests are met”.

Intelligence work needs to be performed both within and outside China, and foreign groups and individuals who damage national security must be investigated, according to the draft.

The law will give authorities new legal grounds to monitor and investigate foreign and domestic individuals and bodies, in order to protect national security.

Chinese activists have said they fear intensified state surveillance.

The draft showed authorities will also be able to propose customs and border inspections or “quarantines”, as well as “administrative detention” of up to 15 days for those who obstruct their work, or leak related state secrets.

China already has broad laws on state secrets and security but the new law will allow intelligence officials to enter “restricted access areas” and use “technological reconnaissance measures” when required, according to the draft.

Vehicles, communication devices and even real estate, such as buildings, can be used or seized by authorities during intelligence gathering efforts, the draft says.

Western governments have spoken out against China’s security measures as defining its national interests too broadly and warning they could be used to target dissent.

China says the laws are appropriate for its national security concerns.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Christian Shepherd; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Source: Reuters “China passes tough new intelligence law”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China’s New Fully Automatic High-speed Train Reaches 400km/hour


China’s new Type Rejuvenation high-speed train. Photo from CCTV footage.

A pair of China’s new high-speed trains Type Rejuneration began operation on June 26 between Beijing and Shanghai according to CCTV primetime news on June 26.

Its highest operational speed is 300 km per hour so that the travel between Beijing and Shanghai is only about 5.5 hours. However, its test speed has reached 400 km per hour.

The train is fully automatic and due to its improve shape, its per passenger per 100 km energy consumption is 8% to 12% less than the previous Type Harmony version.

As its inside height is 4 meters, 0.3 meters higher than Type Harmony, passenger are more comfortable with larger space.

Inside China’s Type Rejuvenation new high-speed train. Photo from CCTV footage.

There will be an additional pair in service between Beijing and Shanghai after July 1.

Source: CCTV “First pair of Type Rejuvenation high-speed trains began operation today” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)


Launch of China’s New Fully Homegrown 10,000-ton Class Destroyer


China’s new entirely homegrown 10,000-ton class destroyer waiting for launch. PLA Daily photo

According to PLA Daily’s report today, China launched its fully homegrown 10,000-ton class destroyer at Jiangnan Shipyard, Shanghai.

The new warship has entirely been made by China independently. It is a large warship with a series of key technologies armed with new-type air defense, missile defense, anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons. It is very sensitive in information collection and has strong air- and missile-defense and sea strike capabilities.

The launch will be followed by equipment fine-tuning and navigation tests.

Source: PLA Daily “Launch of China’s first new-type 10,000-ton class destroyer: It is entirely made by China independently” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)


US worries Russia could step up North Korea support to fill China void


U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley testifies to the House Appropriations State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee on the budget for the U.N. in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 27, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

By Michelle Nichols | UNITED NATIONS Tue Jun 27, 2017 | 5:26pm EDT

As the United States pressures China to enforce United Nations sanctions on its ally North Korea, Washington is concerned that Russia could provide support to Pyongyang and fill any vacuum left by Beijing, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Tuesday.

“I’m concerned that Russia may backfill North Korea,” Haley told U.S. lawmakers in Washington. “We don’t have proof of that, but we are watching that carefully.”

While Washington has urged countries to downgrade ties with Pyongyang over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, a cross-border ferry service was launched in May between North Korea and neighboring Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the world should talk to, rather than threaten, North Korea.

“We just need to keep the pressure on China, we need to keep our eyes on Russia, and we need to continue to let the North Korea regime know we are not looking for regime change … we just want them to stop the nuclear activity,” Haley said.

The U.N. Security Council first imposed sanctions on North Korea in 2006 over its ballistic missile and nuclear programs and has ratcheted up the measures in response to five nuclear tests and two long-range missile launches. The government in Pyongyang is threatening a sixth nuclear test.

The Trump administration has been pressing China aggressively to rein in its reclusive neighbor, warning that all options are on the table if Pyongyang persists with its nuclear and missile development programs.

Beijing has repeatedly said its influence on North Korea is limited and that it is doing all it can, but U.S. President Donald Trump last week said China’s efforts had failed.

The United States has struggled to slow North Korea’s programs, which have become a security priority given Pyongyang’s vow to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.

“The pressure on China can’t stop,” Haley said. “We have to have China doing what they’re supposed to. At the same time all other countries need to make sure they’re enforcing the sanctions that the Security Council has already put in place.”

Trump, increasingly frustrated with China over its inaction on North Korea and bilateral trade issues, is now considering possible trade actions against Beijing, senior administration officials told Reuters.

The United States also plans to place China on its global list of worst offenders in human trafficking and forced labor, sources said, a step that could aggravate tensions with Beijing.

(Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle, editing by G Crosse)

Source: Reuters “US worries Russia could step up North Korea support to fill China void”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Trump growing frustrated with China, weighs trade steps: officials


U.S. President Donald Trump (R) holds an umbrella over U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad, former governor of Iowa, as they arrive together aboard Air Force One at Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, U.S. June 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

By Steve Holland | WASHINGTON Tue Jun 27, 2017 | 10:08pm EDT

President Donald Trump is growing increasingly frustrated with China over its inaction on North Korea and bilateral trade issues and is now considering possible trade actions against Beijing, three senior administration officials told Reuters.

The officials said Trump was looking at options including tariffs on steel imports, which Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross already has said he is considering as part of a national security study of the U.S. steel industry.

Whether Trump would take any steps against China remains unclear.

In April, he backed off from a threat to withdraw from NAFTA after he said Canadian and Mexican leaders telephoned him asking him to halt a planned executive order in favor of opening discussions.

The officials said there was no consensus on the way forward with China and they did not say what other options were being studied.

No decision was expected this week, a senior official said.

Chinese steel already is subject to dozens of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy orders. As a result it has only a small share of the U.S. market.

“What’s guiding this is he ran to protect American industry and American workers,” one of the U.S. officials said, referring to Trump’s 2016 election promise to take a hard line on trade with China.

On North Korea, Trump “feels like he gave China a chance to make a difference” but has not seen enough results, the official said.

The United States has pressed China to exert more economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea to help rein in its nuclear and missile programs. Beijing has repeatedly said its influence on North Korea is limited and that it is doing all it can.

“They did a little, not a lot,” the official said. “And if he’s not going to get what he needs on that, he needs to move ahead on his broader agenda on trade and on North Korea.”

U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad, who arrived in Beijing on Tuesday, spoke to dozens of reporters outside his residence on Wednesday and said the U.S. hopes to collaborate with China.

“We need to work together to deal with some of the pressing, difficult issues, such as the threat from North Korea. We want to work together to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula,” he said.

The death of American university student Otto Warmbier last week, after his release from 17 months of imprisonment in Pyongyang, has further complicated Trump’s approach to North Korea, his top national security challenge.

Trump signaled his disappointment with China’s efforts in a tweet last week: “While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!”

Trump had made a grand gesture of his desire for warm ties with Chinese President Xi Jinping when he played host to Xi in April at his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Palm Beach, Florida.

“I think China will be stepping up,” Trump said at the time.

Since then, however, North Korea’s tests of long-range missiles have continued unabated and there have been reports Pyongyang is preparing for another underground nuclear test.

Trump dropped by last Thursday as White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Trump senior adviser Jared Kushner were meeting with Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi, an official said.

China’s inability to make headway on North Korea was one of the topics that was discussed, according to two people familiar with the meeting. Officials in Beijing did not respond to a request for comment on the meeting.

Trump met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday at the White House and made a point of noting that the United States, India and Japan would be joining together in naval exercises soon in the Indian Ocean, a point that seemed aimed at India rival Beijing.

Trump also thanked India for joining the United States in imposing new sanctions against North Korea.

(Additional reporting by John Walcott in Washington and Michael Martina in Beijing; Editing by Ross Colvin and Bill Trott)

Source: Reuters “Trump growing frustrated with China, weighs trade steps: officials”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


U.S. brands China as among worst human trafficking offenders


U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) Ceremony at the State Department in Washington, U.S., June 27, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

By Yeganeh Torbati | WASHINGTON Tue Jun 27, 2017 | 6:02pm EDT

The U.S. State Department on Tuesday placed China on its global list of the worst offenders in human trafficking and forced labor, a step that could aggravate tensions with Beijing that had eased under President Donald Trump.

Trump, however, has grown increasingly frustrated over China’s inaction on North Korea and bilateral trade issues and is considering possible trade actions against Beijing, three senior administration officials told Reuters.

Myanmar was upgraded to the Tier 2 Watch List of nations that deserve special scrutiny, from Tier 3, which includes those countries not complying with minimum U.S. standards and making no significant effort to do so. Afghanistan, Malaysia and Qatar moved up to Tier 2, a list of nations making significant efforts to comply, from the Tier 2 Watch List.

Tier 1 designates nations that meet minimum U.S. standards.

The report said China convicted fewer sex and labor traffickers in the 12 months ended on March 31 than in the previous year, forcibly repatriated North Koreans without screening them for indicators of trafficking and handled most forced labor cases as administrative issues rather than criminal prosecutions.

“China was downgraded to Tier 3 status in this year’s report in part because it has not taken serious steps to end its own complicity in trafficking, including forced laborers from North Korea that are located in China,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said as he presented the report.

For the previous three years, China was on the Tier 2 Watch List. It was last in Tier 3, the lowest ranking, in 2013.

A Tier 3 rating can trigger sanctions limiting access to U.S. and international aid, but U.S. presidents frequently waive such action.

Twenty-one countries were downgraded from their status on last year’s report, and 27 countries were upgraded, said Susan Coppedge, the senior State Department official working on human trafficking issues, at a briefing with reporters on Tuesday.

Tillerson presented the report in the State Department’s Benjamin Franklin room alongside Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and adviser. A crowd of about 300 people, including Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Republican Representative Chris Smith, who authored the anti-trafficking law that mandated the State Department report, attended the ceremony.

In a statement, Smith called for sanctions against China as punishment for its record on human trafficking.

Ivanka Trump has tried to make the fight against human trafficking one of her signature issues. She was instrumental in arranging a White House meeting with anti-trafficking activists that Trump attended in the first few weeks of the administration.

During a visit to Rome last month, she met privately with a group of African women who had been trafficked into prostitution.

Beijing confirmed this month that it had detained labor rights activists who scrutinized conditions at a Chinese company making shoes for Ivanka Trump’s namesake apparel line. The State Department has urged China to release the activists immediately.

The State Department on Tuesday also removed Iraq and Myanmar from a list of countries that recruit and use child soldiers.

The announcement confirmed a report by Reuters on Friday. U.S. officials told the news agency that Tillerson had disregarded recommendations of State Department experts, senior U.S. diplomats and the State Department’s legal office to keep the countries on the list.

The State Department declined to comment on how the decision was made, saying it “does not discuss details of internal deliberations.”

Human rights advocates criticized the decision, saying international observers continue to document child recruitment by both countries’ militaries.

Under the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008, the U.S. government must be satisfied that “no children are recruited, conscripted or otherwise compelled to serve as child soldiers” for a country to be removed from the list and U.S. military assistance to resume.

“Taking (Myanmar) and Iraq off the list when they continue to use child soldiers is both contrary to U.S. law and harms children still in the ranks,” Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement on Monday.

Coppedge said she had raised U.S. concerns about Myanmar’s response to the use of child soldiers directly with the Myanmar government in December, and acknowledged that in Iraq children are “highly vulnerable” to forcible recruitment by Iraqi forces in the fight against Islamic State, as well as by Islamic State.

But she did not directly respond when asked why the two countries were removed from the list, except to say that Myanmar “has made significant strides in removing children from military service.”

(Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Dan Grebler)

Source: Reuters “U.S. brands China as among worst human trafficking offenders”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Chinese Nobel rights activist Liu Xiaobo released on medical parole


FILE PHOTO: Pro-democracy demonstrators hold up photo of jailed Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo during a protest to urge for the release of Liu, who was sentenced to imprisonment seven years ago on Christmas day, outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong, China December 25, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

By Christian Shepherd and Ben Blanchard | BEIJING Mon Jun 26, 2017

Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winning rights activist Liu Xiaobo has been released from prison on medical parole and is being treated in hospital for late-stage liver cancer, his lawyer said on Monday.

Liu, 61, was jailed for 11 years in 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power” after he helped write a petition known as “Charter 08” calling for sweeping political reforms in China.

In December 2010, Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his activism promoting human rights in China, causing Beijing to freeze diplomatic ties with Norway. China and Norway normalized ties in December last year.

Mo Shaoping, Liu’s lawyer, told Reuters that Liu was being treated for late-stage liver cancer in Shenyang and that medical parole had been approved. He did not elaborate.

The prison bureau of Liaoning province, where Shenyang is located, confirmed the medical parole in a short statement on its website, adding that Liu was being treated by eight people it described as “well-known tumor experts”.

The public security ministry and justice ministry did not immediately respond to faxed requests for comment.

A man who answered the telephone at the Shenyang hospital where Liu is being treated said he could not check information on individual cases as there were too many patients there.

Tibetan writer and family friend Tsering Woeser said she had been in tears after reading online reports of Liu’s illness.

“I’m shocked and deeply saddened,” she told Reuters. “All we can do now is pray for him.”

Liu Xia, Liu’s wife, who has been under effective house arrest since her husband won the Nobel Peace Prize, is suffering from depression but has been allowed to visit him in prison about once a month, a source close to the dissident told Reuters.

Liu was not allowed to attend his father-in-law’s funeral last year and his mother-in-law’s funeral this year, said the source who asked not to be identified.

Liu had been incarcerated at Jinzhou Penitentiary in Liaoning, his home province in northeast China, before being moved to the hospital for treatment.

‘INCREDIBLY SAD’

In Oslo, the five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee which awards the peace prize strongly criticized Beijing.

“The committee is pleased that Liu Xiaobo is out of prison, but at the same time regrets in the strongest terms that it took a serious illness before the Chinese authorities agreed to release him,” it said in a rare statement.

“He was in reality sentenced for exercising his freedom of expression and should never have been jailed,” it added, reiterating a standing invitation for Liu to come to Norway.

Rights group Amnesty International also confirmed the news of Liu’s illness. Patrick Poon, a China researcher for Amnesty, said on Twitter that the diagnosis was made on May 23.

William Nee, also of Amnesty, said authorities should ensure Liu was getting adequate medical care and he called for the immediate and unconditional release of Liu and his wife.

“Obviously, it’s a shameful situation and it’s incredibly sad to see one of China’s most prominent intellectuals suffer from such a terrible illness when he never should’ve been detained in the first place,” Nee said.

He also called for the Nobel Committee and the international community to speak up “forcefully” for Liu now.

Supporters, many of whom have been campaigning for Liu’s release for years, took to Twitter and other platforms to express sadness at the news of his illness and denounce the Chinese government’s treatment of him.

Activists have flagged numerous cases of abuse in detention over the years, including denial of medical treatment for political activists, charges generally disputed by the government.

“There have been lots of similar cases where the individual was released on medical parole just before they die,” well-known and outspoken activist Hu Jia told Reuters.

China has acknowledged problems of mistreatment in the criminal justice system and has repeatedly vowed to crack down to address them.

(Additional reporting by Benjamin Kang Lim, Venus Wu in Hong Kong, Alister Doyle in Oslo and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Editing by Robert Birsel and Toby Chopra)