Category Archives: China

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TV commentator blurts Chinese skiers ‘all look the same’

The ears of Australian viewers of the Winter Olympics pricked up on Thursday night, when a commentator said Chinese athletes “all look the same.”

The comment was made by former freestyle skier and five-time Olympian Jacqui Cooper, following a jump by Chinese aerial skier Yan Ting during a qualifying run.

SEE ALSO: Figure skating wins gold in the sexual tension Olympics

“Really nicely done, great control. Very Chinese. They all look the same. They’re very hard to tell who’s who,” Cooper said.

What the actual fuck @7olympics pic.twitter.com/2dWnwAXik1

— Albert Santos, good username haver. (@albertinho) February 15, 2018 Read more…

More about Sports, China, Olympics, Commentator, and Winter Olympics

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It’s time for Huawei to prove its phones aren’t spying on Americans

Huawei, the second-largest phone maker in the world, needs to do something fast if it ever wants to gain a foothold in the U.S. and potentially become the world’s largest phone maker one day.

The Chinese company can’t get U.S. carriers to sell its phones. And now the heads of the FBI, CIA, and NSA have publicly accused the company of allowing its devices — along with ZTE’s — to be used by the Chinese government to spy on Americans.

Though Huawei has denied the allegations, it needs to do more to convince Americans its phones can and should be trusted.

SEE ALSO: Huawei’s ambitious plans to compete with the iPhone in the U.S. derailed (for now) Read more…

More about Gadgets, Android, China, Security, and Huawei

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Human Rights Must Be At The Heart Of UK Trade Policy

Last week, Prime Minister Theresa May left behind her warring Cabinet to travel to China on her mission to establish ‘Global Britain’ as the Brexit negotiations trudge on. Accompanied by International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and the largest-ever UK trade delegation, the Prime Minister was looking to reignite the so-called ‘golden-era’ of UK-China relations that the two countries experienced when David Cameron and George Osborne were at the helm in Downing Street.

A renewed trading relationship – though one that even Liam Fox has admitted can be improved whilst remaining in the Customs Union – is important, but the Government should also be using its dialogue with China to raise its concerns over human rights. Indeed, China’s desire to trade with us is arguably the only leverage we have. To Theresa May’s credit, she went to China pledging to raise Hong Kong and human rights concerns with her Chinese counterparts. However, come the end of her trip, the state-run Global Times newspaper praised the Prime Minister for having “sidestepped” her desire to publicly challenge China over human rights.

China’s progress in some areas, such as a new resolve to tackle climate change, should be welcomed. But the Government should not shy away from challenging Beijing over the country’s human rights record. In 2013, the UK was the first country to produce a National Action Plan to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which was launched by William Hague with a great fanfare. With echoes of Robin Cook’s “ethical foreign policy” the then Foreign Secretary said that human rights would be “at the heart of British foreign policy”. This was not, however, borne out by the Government’s behaviour. It was impossible, for example, to get David Cameron to answer straightforward questions on whether he’d raised human rights concerns during a visit to Saudi Arabia back in 2012.

We know that China uses its trade negotiations with other countries to promote its political designs. For example, when Norway re-established ties with China in 2016, after a frosty period following the Dalai Lama being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, it was only possible because the Norwegian Government committed itself to the ‘One China’ policy, which precludes any support for Tibet.

The EU, with the UK as a member, has long inserted human rights clauses into its trade agreements, and, although the mechanism for enforcement is imperfect, trade sanctions were imposed on the likes of Zimbabwe and Iran when human rights violations occurred. By leaving the Customs Union the UK Government wants the freedom to carve out its own trade agreements. But after Theresa May’s acquiescence in Beijing last week, it would appear we cannot have much hope of the UK Government asserting itself in future conversations with China.

When questioned about the Business and Human Rights Action Plan in the Commons last year, the International Trade Secretary seemed to have barely heard of it. Human rights simply aren’t on his agenda. As recently as April 2017, he praised the “shared values” that he believes the UK has with Rodrigo Duterte – nicknamed “the Punisher” – the Philippine leader whose war on drugs has killed 7,000 of his own people. And we are all aware of his close links with the Sri Lankan regime during the time of President Rajapaksa and human rights violations against the Tamil population.

Of course if the UK were to remain in the Customs Union we would be in a much stronger position when it comes to raising human rights with countries of concern, as part of the world’s largest trading bloc. In the absence of this, we must ensure that Parliament has proper scrutiny of future trade deals, so that we can properly hold the Government to account.

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Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review Makes War More Likely

This week sees the release of the latest – and already leaked – US nuclear posture review. These reviews can be a powerful indicator of a president’s intentions and this one will, no doubt, be a taste of things to come. The 2002 version included President Bush’s demand for contingency plans for the use of nuclear weapons against at least seven countries – not only the so-called Axis of Evil, but also Russia, China, Libya and Syria. It also revisited some of the ideas of the early 1990s, calling for the development of bunker-busters and mini-nukes for use in ‘regional conflicts’, understood at that time – in the aftermath of the first Gulf War and the developing narrative around oil and resources – to mean the Middle East.

The advent of President Obama knocked the project on the head for a number of years. His 2010 review ruled out the development of new nuclear weapons, including bunker-busters. It also renounced nuclear weapons use against non-nuclear states that the US considered compliant with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. At the time anti-nuclear campaigners hoped for more, having heard Obama’s passionate Prague speech in 2009, outlining a vision of a nuclear weapons-free world.

But we are a world away now, even from those modest steps. Citing nuclear modernization by Russia and China – not to mention ‘provocations’ from North Korea and the ‘ambitions’ of Iran – the new review ‘realigns’ US nuclear policy in line with current threats and calls for a ‘flexible, tailored nuclear strategy’. What does that actually mean?

Essentially, the lid is being taken off the restraints on both new-build and nuclear weapons use. The most significant element of the review is commitment to a whole new generation of nuclear weapons, with the emphasis on low-yield, often described as ‘usable’. It should be pointed out here that the bombs used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki are technically low-yield in today’s parlance, so we are not talking about something small. The excuse underpinning this approach is supposedly that there are no real options between conventional weapons and all-out nuclear war, and that there should be more rungs on the ‘escalatory ladder’. Personally I would rather see more rungs on the de-escalatory ladder.

In fact, the US nuclear arsenal already includes over 1,000 nuclear warheads with low-yield options. In this context one speculates about industrial factors driving this policy. As Hans M. Kristensen reveals, a retired Admiral – a board member of Raytheon that makes the recently retired nuclear Tomahawk cruise missile – has now co-authored an article urging Trump to bring the nuclear missile back. No prizes for guessing the motivation there.

So the increase in stated circumstances in which nuclear weapons could be used is a cause for significant concern. This includes against a group that ‘supports or enables terrorist efforts to obtain or employ nuclear devices’, as well as against ‘significant non-nuclear strategic attacks,’ including attacks on ‘civilian population or infrastructure’.

Presumably the review’s authors are aware of the consequences of nuclear use and would prefer to avoid it. But the idea that having more nuclear weapons and more potential targets makes use less likely is simply bizarre. Whatever their motivation, this is an exceptionally dangerous game.

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Theresa May ‘Side-Stepped’ Human Rights In Xi Jinping Talks, Chinese Media Claims

Theresa May faced embarrassment on the final day of her trip to China after being praised by state-run media for having “side-stepped” the issue of human rights.

Communist party mouthpiece The Global Times claimed that during her main meeting with President Xi Jinping, the Prime Minister had ducked controversy over Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong’s democracy activists.

The dubious distinction of winning praise from state-run Chinese media was the flip-side of May’s warm welcome during her three-day tour, which has focused on building trade links before and after Brexit.

The Beijing-based newspaper claimed that in her meeting the MP had sought to “expand pragmatic collaboration with the country so as to pave the way for future trade and investment deals”.

In an article headlined ’Sino-UK partnership transcends media mudslinging over human rights”, it reported “May will definitely not make any comment contrary to the goals of her China trip”.

“For the prime minister, the losses outweigh the gains if she appeases the British media at the cost of the visit’s friendly atmosphere.”

The Global Times, which is an offshoot of the Workers’ Daily, also claimed – despite more cautious language from Downing Street – that May had signed up to Xi’s pet project, the 30-year ‘Belt and Road’ infrastructure programme to link China with Europe.

“Like its participation in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Britain’s joining the Belt and Road initiative conforms to its national interests,” it said.

“While the government is responsible for public well-being, the media tends to whip up sensations while disregarding sound international relations.

“Some European media pressed May and Macron on human rights, but the two leaders sidestepped the topic on their China trip. This shows that the Sino-European relationship has, to a large degree, extricated itself from the impact of radical public opinion.”

In the official No.10 read-out of the Xi meeting, the UK’s only reference to Hong Kong was to say May and Xi had agreed that the ‘one country, two systems’ approach to the former British colony was appropriate.

There was no explicit reference to the wave of so-called ‘Umbrella’ protests of 2014 and the subsequent state backlash.

May had raised “human rights” during her meeting with Chinese premier Li Keqiang, but the Global Times suggested she had dodged the issue with the President.

The paper vented its spleen however towards Joshua Wong, a leading activist who this month was sentenced to three months in jail for his part in the Hong Kong protests.

Wong, who was this week nominated by US politicians for the Nobel Peace Prize, had upset Beijing with an article for the Guardian ahead of May’s visit, in which he pointed out the UK had promised to back the pro-democracy movement.

“Some Western media outlets keep pestering May to criticize Beijing in an attempt to showcase that the UK has withstood pressure from China and the West has consolidated its commanding position over the country in politics,” the Global Times wrote.

“In an open letter published Wednesday, Joshua Wong urged May to ‘stand up for Hong Kong’s rights,’ claiming that London vowed ‘Hong Kong will never have to walk alone’ in 1996.

“Taking advantage of Western forces to confront the central government is a long-term illusion of the radical Hong Kong opposition.”

Downing Street sources insisted that May had proactively raised human rights and Hong Kong in her meeting with the President. She had also raised a “specific case” in relation to Hong Kong.

The PM began her talks focusing on trade, before mentioning human rights, No.10 said. 

Relations between the UK and China went into the deep freeze after David Cameron met Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama early in his premiership.

It took 18 months, and much diplomacy, before Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne were allowed to get links back on track, and they made up for lost time by pushing trade deals and staging official visits.

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‘Auntie’ Theresa May Meets ‘Uncle Xi’ Jinping To Talk Chinese Tea And Trade

 

She’s been greeted as “Auntie May”. He’s been dubbed “the First Gentleman”. And both of them just love drinking Chinese tea.

Beijing’s Communist Government certainly rolled out a carpet as red as the national flag on Thursday when Theresa May and her husband Philip were hosted by President Xi Jinping and his wife as part of their three-day tour.

The state-run media was keen to highlight the warm reception apparently given to the couple on the social media site Sina Weibo, with members of the public praising the PM’s “beautiful marriage” and her “very handsome” spouse.

One article published by the Xinhua News Agency (and shared on China’s equivalent of Twitter) said: “He is the man who loved her, supported her, and protected her, who has been there for 40 years.”

China Plus, the government-owned English language channel, carried uncannily uniform footage of young people heaping on the praise. One paid tribute to May for not being “a stereotype of a female politician” because she has “a good sense of fashion”, adding “she loves leopard print!” 

A particularly enthusiastic youngster listed the PM’s achievements, declaring “She made great efforts to solve terrorism, disputes with Northern Ireland, and Brexit.”

And all of the students revealed the British guest’s new nickname. “’Auntie May’ is a warm expression, just like we call Xi Jinping ‘Uncle Xi’ to show our fondness,” one said. “They all call her ‘Auntie May’, so do I,” said another. And in case we hadn’t got the message, yet another added: “It’s a friendly name we feel close to.”

After the Mays visited Beijing’s ancient Forbidden City, an interviewer from state-run Chinese television  – the aptly named CCTV – told the PM of her new moniker, pointing out it was unusual for foreign politicians to be granted such informality.

“A lot of Chinese people would affectionately call you, in Chinese, ‘Auntie May’,” the interviewer said. “That’s really a kind of a call for Chinese – you’re one of the members of the family. Do you like that?”

Clearly unused to such plaudits, a slightly surprised Prime Minister replied: “Oh thank you, thank very much indeed…I’m honoured by that. Thank you.” Her gratitude was so earnest, she named it thrice.

May then held an 80-minute bilateral meeting with President Xi in the Diaoyutai State Guest House.

The pair agreed a joint trade and investment review that British sources later suggested was the first step towards a post-Brexit deal, though the details were unclear. 

China’s markets would also be further opened to the UK, including in sectors such as beef (banned since the 1990s because of BSE fears), dairy and other agricultural goods.

The President himself couldn’t resist a bit of flattery for his guest, quoting Shakespeare to hail the growing links between China and the UK. “What’s past is prologue,” Xi said, citing The Tempest.

Afterwards, the Mays were treated to a traditional tea ceremony with the President and his wife Peng Liyuan.  As they were shown different varieties, the British media – starved of hard news about the trip and thirsty for anything resembling a story – spotted a new fact.

When Madame Peng pointed to Lapsang Souchong, a smokey speciality from the Wuyi region, both the PM and her husband said almost in unison: “We drink that!”

So, to add to her Waitrose-shopping habit, the Prime Minister is now a drinker of ‘posh’, loose-leaf tea. It’s not quite PG Tips or a ‘builders’’ brew, and for her critics it will be yet more proof that she’s out of touch with the average voter.

As the old Marxist joke goes, all proper tea is theft. But China is a unique mix of Mao and money these days.

The main thing was that Chairman May’s hosts were impressed. And after all, they are the ones with the big bucks and trade the UK is hoping to target after Brexit. 

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The Waugh Zone Thursday February 1, 2018

1. ‘LEARN TO COUNT’

This morning’s Waugh Zone is by 

4. BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

Peers were left stunned yesterday when development minister Lord Bates quit on the spot – 

 
 

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Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Paul WaughNed SimonsKate Forrester,  Rachel Wearmouth and Owen Bennett.

To pitch a blog post on HuffPost, email Charlie Lindlar or the blog team.

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Massive oil spill spreads in East China Sea, could be world’s largest in decades

What could be the largest oil spill since 1989’s Exxon Valdez is unfolding in the East China Sea after a deadly and fiery collision between two vessels caused a tanker to sink. All 32 crew members are thought to have died aboard the Iranian vessel “Sanchi,” which was carrying about 1 million barrels of condensate. 

According to Bloomberg News, the ship was transporting hydrocarbon liquid that’s a key ingredient for making petrochemicals, including jet fuel. It was headed to the port of Daesan, South Korea when it struck the transport ship “CF Crystal” off China’s eastern coast. 

SEE ALSO: This chatbot wants to cut through the noise on climate science Read more…

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Booster from Chinese rocket crashes to Earth near a small town

A booster from a Chinese rocket appears to have crash-landed and exploded after a satellite launch on Friday.

According to a report from GB Times, one of four rocket boosters from a Long March 3B rocket crashed near the town of Xiangdu, reportedly about 435 miles (or around 700 kilometers) from the launch site. 

SEE ALSO: Secret government satellite’s fate remains a secret

As The Verge‘s Loren Grush notes, China seems perfectly fine launching their rockets from inland launchpads, unlike the U.S., meaning the rockets fly over and shed parts over land, leading to incidents like that on Friday.

Video of the incident was caught and shared to social media.  Read more…

More about Space, China, Rockets, China Spaceflight, and Long March 3b Rocket

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3 companies helping make China a global hub for IoT technology

To talk about the Internet of Things in China is to talk about manufacturing. 

Manufacturing spending on IoT technologies in China is estimated to rise to $127.5 billion by 2020. Since China currently produces a large chunk of the world’s electronics (including technologies like sensors and microchips that are fundamental to the IoT), the country is well positioned to shape the backbone of connected homes, IoT-integrated infrastructure, and smart cities around the world.

The Made in China 2025 initiative, for example, focuses on comprehensively upgrading the country’s industries and IoT infrastructure. In addition to country-wide initiatives like this, several China-based startups are helping shape the rapidly growing IoT industry in this region of the world and beyond. Their efforts are being fueled largely by advancements in AI and big data.  Read more…

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