For some Chinese dissidents, party congress means a paid ‘vacation’


FILE PHOTO – Chinese dissident Hu Jia uses his mobile phone at Beijing airport November 6, 2013. To match Insight CHINA-CONGRESS/RIGHTS REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

Christian Shepherd October 22, 2017

BEIJING (Reuters) – Hu Jia, a well-known Chinese dissident who lives in Beijing, says he had hoped to go to the southeastern city of Xiamen for his government-sponsored holiday, but state security officials said no.

“They told me I had to go to a more isolated place this time,” he told Reuters by phone from Yunnan province in far southwestern China, a popular destination renowned for its scenery and the culture of its ethnic minority groups.

Rights groups say that Hu is one dozens of activists and dissidents detained, placed under tighter monitoring or “vacationed” by authorities, during the week-long congress of the ruling Communist Party which began on Wednesday in Beijing. President Xi Jinping is expected to tighten his grip on power at the gathering, which is only held once every five years.

For his enforced holiday, Hu and his two government minders jointly decided on the destinations. Hu suggested the ancient town of Dali in Yunnan for the first stop, and the public security agents accompanying him chose the second and third stops in the southwest region, Guiyang — the capital of the mountainous province of Guizhou, and the coastal city of Beihai in Guangxi province.

Hu estimated the whole trip for the three of them will cost close to 10,000 yuan ($1,510), all paid for by the authorities. He said that his minders tried to save money by choosing basic hotels and traveling between the three cities by bus.

He will fly back to Beijing on Oct 28, just after the congress ends.

“You can go see the sights, but state security goes with you everywhere,” Hu said.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the accounts of Hu and other dissidents interviewed for this story.

China’s public security ministry did not respond to a faxed request for comment on the detention of activists, and the use of “vacations.” China rarely explains its treatment of dissidents other than to say that those charged are criminals who harmed social stability and that all people in China are treated equally before the law.

It is not unusual for Chinese authorities to heighten monitoring and detention of dissidents before important political events, especially people with high profiles who are known to speak out against the party and state.

TRUCK DRIVER

In addition to the enforced vacations, some activists have also been detained, placed under supervision at home, or warned about posting critical messages online in the weeks ahead of congress, according to the Hong Kong-based group Chinese Human Rights Defenders.

The group also said it had documented 14 cases of detention of activists in recent weeks.

In one case, Wu Kemu, a truck driver from Xuancheng city in the central province of Anhui, was called in by the police for a talk on October 11 and has not been released since, his wife Fang Liangxiang told Reuters by phone on Sunday.

“They will not say when he will be released. They just told me to wait at home for him,” she said, adding that she expected the detention was related to critical things Wu had said about the government on the popular instant messaging platform WeChat.

No one answered the phone on Saturday at the Xuancheng city detention center where Fang says Wu is being held.

It is unclear if the total number of detentions, arrests or “vacations” this year is greater than at the time of previous major events or how many of the cases are directly related to the congress.

Some activists say that the authorities prefer enforced vacations rather than detentions as they can make dissidents both inactive and inaccessible to foreign journalists over sensitive periods. Locking people up can attract more attention.

Hu, a pro-democracy activist and campaigner for those with HIV/AIDS, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail for subversion in 2008, and said he has been under regular state surveillance since his release.

“The first thing I did was go for a run up in the mountains by Dali, because I knew the state security agents could not run with me,” he said, adding that the agents were “not the running type.”

“It felt like being briefly free from prison,” he said.

Hu said that state security agents had shown him a list of people who would not be allowed to stay in Beijing over the 19th Party Congress, including Liu Xia, the widow of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.

Liu Xia has been under effective house arrest in Beijing since her husband won the Nobel Prize in 2010. After his death in July, even the sporadic communications she’s had with friends have been nearly entirely severed, two of them told Reuters.

The public security ministry did not respond to a request for comment on Liu Xia’s situation.

Some activists make their own travel plans to avoid the authorities.

Wu Lihong, an activist from Wuxi city in Jiangsu province who for over a decade has been protesting pollution in Lake Tai in eastern China, told Reuters that Chinese state security had called him last week saying they were coming to take him for a forced vacation. Wu, though, had already gone to visit a friend in Zhejiang province, on the east coast and far away from Beijing, to avoid them.

“At the 16th, 17th and 18th Congresses I was vacationed, imprisoned, held at home and forbidden to speak,” Wu said.

“This time, I chose to go on holiday without them,” he said.

He said that state security officials had asked him to return to Wuxi so they could take him on “vacation” themselves, but he declined saying he would stay with his friend till after the congress ends. He is now avoiding their calls.

Reuters could not independently confirm Wu’s comments.

Chinese state security does not have a public phone number, fax number or website.

GRASSROOTS TARGETED

Xi has overseen a sweeping crackdown on rights lawyers and activists since coming to power in 2012, jailing dozens, in what rights groups say is a coordinated attempt to quash dissent in China.

New internet measures include rules that hold users accountable for critical posts even in private group chats and a renewed crackdown on technologies to circumvent restrictions.

Kit Chan, director of the Hong Kong-based China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, said that some recent detentions of activists represent a new direction in the crackdown as it shows the authorities are targeting smaller groups that draw attention to specific rights issues as much as their traditional focus on pro-democracy activists.

Zhen Jianghua, for example, the founder of Human Rights Campaign in China, a grassroots organization based in the southern province of Guangzhou, was detained on Sept 1 in Zhuhai, a source close to Zhen who declined to be named told Reuters.

The ministry of public security did not respond to a faxed request for comment about the targeting of grassroots organizations. A person who answered the phone at the Zhuhai public security bureau said she was not aware of Zhen’s case.

Reporting by Christian Shepherd in BEIJING and Venus Wu in HONG KONG; Editing by Tony Munroe and Martin Howell

Source: Reuters “For some Chinese dissidents, party congress means a paid ‘vacation’”

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

Advertisements

China Will Deliver 102 C919 Large Airliners Soon


A C919 with coating completed.

News.cn says in its report yesterday that its reporters visited C919 producers on October 18 and found that coating has been completed on 102 C919s and the large number of large airliners are having their engines installed and fine tuned, improvement of their test flight systems and ground functions examination and test before takeoff. They will soon have outside function tests.

The report shows that China will soon deliver 102 C919 large airliners. Boeing and Airbus will soon have a real competitor able to make inexpensive airliners in large number.

Source: news.cn “Coating has been completed in entirety on 102 C919 passenger airliners” (summary and comment by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)


China’s South Fleet Sets Up Rescue Unit as Sub Operation Intensifies


The PLA is looking to bolster its naval strength in the disputed South China Sea. Photo: Reuters

SCMP says in its report “China’s South Sea Fleet gets new unit as PLA looks to boost its presence in disputed waters” yesterday, that China’s South Fleet has set up a submarine rescue unit to enhance its fighting capabilities.

SCMP says, “The unit was set up during the ‘latest round of military reform’, which was announced by the unit political commissar during a session devoted to studying the political report delivered by President Xi Jinping at the Communist Party congress on Wednesday.”

According to SCMP, Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based military affairs commentator, believes that the Fleet needs a rescue unit as it has been carrying out more missions.

SCMP quotes Nie as saying,“It is a sign that the fleet is getting itself more ready for battle.”

Since China has built and militarized artificial islands and a network to monitor submarine activities in the South China Sea, there must be the establishment of a rescue unit to complete China’s battle readiness there.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2116412/chinas-south-sea-fleet-gets-new-unit-pla-looks-boost.


China’s World Leading Technology to Finish US Missile Defense


Mil.huanqiu.com says in its report on October 19, 2017 that CCTV revealed for the first time on October 8 China’s JF12 hypersonic shock wave wind tunnel of Mach 5-10 faster than the Mach 4-7 of US best similar wind tunnel. The tunnel has caused concerns in US Department of Defense for 4 years as the hypersonic weapons developed through the wind tunnel will make worthless the missile defense system that the US has spent hundreds of billions of US dollars to develop.

Jiang Zonglin, research fellow of Chinese Academy of Sciences, says in front of China’s world best wind tunnel, “Ours can be regarded as a kind of cradle of advanced flying vehicles”. Photo from CCTV footage

JF12 wind tunnel. Photo from CCTV footage

Model of a hypersonic flying vehicle China is developing. Photo from CCTV footage

Model of a hypersonic flying vehicle China is developing. Photo from CCTV footage

Beijing to New York but a 2-hour flight of China’s hypersonic plane. Photo from CCTV footage

Source: mil.huanqiu.com “First official disclosure of China’s world best technology that will finish US missile defense” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)


How China Could Crush the U.S. Air Force in a Dog Fight


US warplane carrying missiles. Image: Creative Commons/Flickr.

David Axe

October 20, 2017

The new Chinese munition closely matches the dimensions of Russia’s K-100 air-to-air missile, which has been in halting development for 25 years now but could, in theory, hit targets as far as 200 miles from the launching plane.

The Chinese military has apparently test-fired a new — and potentially powerful — very-long-range air-to-air missile. If reports are accurate, the new weapon could hit U.S. aircraft at twice the range at which the Americans can shoot back.

Images depicting the new missile under the wing of a Chinese air force J-16 fighter circulated in November 2016. The J-16 reportedly fired at least one of the missiles, successfully striking an aerial target.

China has developed air-to-air missiles at a pace at least as rapid as its development of fighter aircraft. The new very-long-range air-to-air missile, or VLRAAM, appeared suddenly. Foreign observers apparently don’t even know what the Chinese call the new munition.

Technical data on the missile is hard to come by, but the photos Beijing has allowed to leak do at least establish the weapon’s dimensions, which — along with a raft of publicly-available scientific research — hint at the missile’s capabilities. In the photos, the VLRAAM is clearly around a third the length of the J-16, giving the munition an overall length of around 20 feet and a diameter of roughly a foot.

In any event, the weapon is much more substantial than is the U.S. military’s own longest-range air-to-air missile, the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile. The AMRAAM is just 12 feet long and seven inches in diameter. The latest version of the American missile, the AIM-120D, reportedly boasts a maximum range in excess of 90 miles.

The new Chinese munition closely matches the dimensions of Russia’s K-100 air-to-air missile, which has been in halting development for 25 years now but could, in theory, hit targets as far as 200 miles from the launching plane.

To achieve its apparent long range, the Chinese VLRAAM reportedly relies on a powerful rocket motor than can propel the munition at “hypersonic” speeds of up to Mach 6 — half-again faster than the AIM-120D’s own top speed.

Launched by a fighter flying as high as 50,000 feet, the Chinese missile could climb to an altitude of around 100,000 feet and glide in the thin air for more than a hundred miles before descending to strike its target — this according to recent studies in Chinese scientific journals, which Popular Science helpfully pointed out.

Moreover, Beijing’s VLRAAM reportedly features an active electronically-scanned array seeker with optical back-up and mid-course satellite guidance — truly state of the art for an air-to-air missile. The AIM-120D makes do with an older-style, and less effective, mechanically-steered radar.

Of course, a very-long-range missile is useless in the absence of good targeting. Unless you’re willing to destroy every airplane within reach — whether they’re enemy warplanes, civilian passenger jets or even friendly forces — you need to identify opposing planes before attacking them.

The identification problem prevented the U.S. Navy from successfully deploying its own AIM-54 Phoenix long-range air-to-air missile in combat. The Navy retired the munition in 2004 in favor of cheaper and more practical AMRAAMs.

The Chinese military is apparently working on a solution to the identification problem, and has proposed building a targeting network around the high-flying Divine Eagle sensor drone. A Divine Eagle could pass targeting data to a VLRAAM-armed fighter — and potentially even to the missile itself, provided any operational version of the munition incorporates a datalink.

In concept, China’s potential sensor-shooter network is similar to the U.S. Navy’s own Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air network, which ties together various sensors platforms with fighters and ships firing AMRAAMs and sea-launched air-defense missiles. NIFC-CA first deployed with a carrier battle group in 2015.

While making huge strides when it comes to targeting, the U.S. military is falling behind in the advancement of air-launched munitions. The Pentagon has not yet begun developing a new long-range air-to-air missile to eventually replace the AIM-120D.

The Americans have a years-long head-start fielding a functional sensor-shooter network, but if the apparent November 2016 test-launch is any indication, the Chinese are way ahead when it comes to far-flying munitions that can take advantage of such networks.

This first appeared last year in WarIsBoring here.

Source: National Interest “How China Could Crush the U.S. Air Force in a Dog Fight”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


China Developed Landing-aid Device for Landing on Aircraft Carrier


According to PLA’s website 81.cn, China has developed a device to help warplane land on aircraft carrier.

The report says that CCP 19th Congress representative Li Yuan revealed to reporters in the morning of October 19 when she entered the site of Congress through a room to meet reporters that No. 704 Research Institute of China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) has developed a device to help warplane land on aircraft carrier.

19th Congress representatives Li Yuan (middle) and Meng Xiangfei (left) briefing reporters. 81.cn photo

Then another representative Meng Xiangfei of State Supercomputer Tianjin Center said that the Center’s Tianhe Supercomputer had played its role in the development of the device.

Source: 81.cn “China’s carrier-borne warplanes have a homegrown “Magic Lamp” to help them land on aircraft carrier” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese”


China’s northern cities face soot-free winter with gas revolution


Meng Meng, Josephine Mason October 3, 2017

XIAOZHANGWAN, China (Reuters) – As freezing winds whip across northern China this winter, Yao Guanghui is happy he’ll have one less chore to do: feeding the coal furnace that has long heated his small house on the outskirts of Beijing.

A villager cycles past the gas pipeline construction instead of coal-powered boilers in Xiaozhangwan village of Tongzhou district, on the outskirts of Beijing, China June 28, 2017. Picture taken June 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Traipsing outside on freezing nights to haul coal for the two big burners in his kitchen was his least favorite household job.

But next month, the 60-year-old will turn on the heating with a flick of a switch on the gas-powered boiler that sits in a sooty alcove that once housed his coal furnaces.

“My face and nostrils would be covered with coal dust by the time I got into the kitchen,” he said on Thursday, recalling his efforts to carry coal into his two-room house during the long winter. “We hope this winter will be much cleaner and warmer.”

Yao and his family are among millions of people across northern China preparing for their first winter to be heated by gas – part of a government effort to wean the nation off dirty coal and improve the nation’s notoriously bad air.

The massive effort involves almost 4 million homes in 28 cities. The government is plowing tens of billions of yuan into the project to install equipment, build thousands of kilometers of pipes and subsidize the higher costs of gas.

(Graphic for China planning to connect more than 4 million homes in 28 cities with gas this winter, click reut.rs/2yRDVdt)

Beijing has been under increasing pressure to deal with chronic air pollution amid concerns about the damage it is causing to people’s health. Smog gets worse during the colder months when homes in the north of the country crank up heat that is overwhelmingly fired by coal.

The air quality index for the area around the village on Thursday morning was just 4, a low level anywhere in the world. But when smog shrouds the capital during the winter, the index often rockets into the hundreds to hazardous levels.

Air pollution caused by coal-fired winter heating has slashed life expectancy in the north by more than three years compared with the south, according to a recent study by the University of Chicago (EPIC).

Among other measures, China has pledged to impose tough industrial and traffic curbs this winter and is also in the process of shutting thousands of coal-fired industrial boilers.

(Graphic for China’s changing energy mix targets more gas, less coal, click reut.rs/2yR8rUS)

For the global gas market, the potential impact of gasifying the world’s second-largest economy is enormous, with Russia and the United States poised to benefit from China’s growing need for foreign supplies.

Wood Mackenzie reckons the effort will add 10 billion cubic meters of gas demand this winter. That’s about 5 percent of China’s consumption last year or the equivalent of Vietnam’s total annual use. The project will also need heavy investment in infrastructure such as pipelines and storage tanks.

STAGGERING

Villager Li Xiumei shows the abandoned coal-powered boilers in Xiaozhangwan village of Tongzhou district, on the outskirts of Beijing, China June 28, 2017. Picture taken June 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee

The pace and scale of the project over the past six months has been staggering, even for a place like China, where high-rise tower blocks and shopping malls go up with blistering speed.

A Reuters analysis of data released by the Ministry of Environmental Protection shows that two-thirds of the cities under the program have surpassed the target set by the government to switch at least 50,000 homes to clean fuel by November.

That target would have meant 1.4 million homes, but two cities, Baoding and Langfang in Hebei, account for most of that together.

Beijing Gas, which is overseeing the plan in the capital, must lay over 3,000 kilometers of pipelines and build 400 gas stations. It has connected 300,000 residents so far.

(Graphic for China’s plan to use more gas will require a substantial increase in gas-handling infrastructure, click reut.rs/2yjjhGg)

“Some of these projects are more complicated than we expected,” said an official from Beijing Gas who declined to be named as he is not authorized to speak to the media. He said the project involved building pipelines that went under the Great Wall and crossed environmentally sensitive areas.

PILES OF BOILERS

On a recent visit to Yao’s village of Xiaozhangwan, a few kilometers from the outskirts of Beijing, old boilers were stacked along dusty narrow alleyways ready for scrapping.

Government engineers were rushing to install new radiators in 300 homes before the onset of winter.

In many houses, the radiators will replace systems that have been used for centuries in rural villages in northern China – burning coal to heat large beds where whole families gather during the winter.

Workmen were digging up the main street to lay the feeder pipeline that is connected to one of three pipelines that run for thousands of kilometers from Shaanxi province to China’s northeast.

(Graphic for China’s energy mix since 2000, click reut.rs/2yRZUkF)

Some villagers are skeptical that gas will be as powerful and resilient as coal and have insulated the walls of their homes and sealed windows to make them more efficient.

As they embark into the unknown, many residents also worry about higher bills. Gas costs almost double that of coal.

The government will supply about 2,000 cubic meters of gas worth almost 5,000 yuan ($748.95) at a discount to current residential gas prices, but Yao is unsure if that would see him through a particularly cold winter.

“I don’t know if that would be enough for heating and cooking for the family,” said Yao. “We will need to pay extra cost if we use more than that.”

Reporting by Meng Meng and Josephine Mason; Editing by Philip McClellan

Source: Reuters “China’s northern cities face soot-free winter with gas revolution”

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