Archive for ‘United Nations’

08/03/2019

Not girls, queens or goddesses: calls in China for a return to the real meaning of women’s day

  • March 8 has devolved into a prime time for online sales campaigns and advertising rather than a moment to celebrate the achievements of women, critics say

Job seekers look at the job advertisements at a job fair for women on the International Women's Day in Huaibei, Anhui province, on Friday. Photo: Reuters
Job seekers look at the job advertisements at a job fair for women on the International Women’s Day in Huaibei, Anhui province, on Friday. Photo: Reuters
Every year around March 8, the internet in China is plastered with references to International Women’s Day.
Online commerce sites promote discounts on items from jewellery to massage machines to electronics; groups and individuals post “supportive” comments for the women in their lives; and retailers roll out advertising campaigns with “feminist” messages.
But critics say the true meaning of the day is being lost and the annual commemoration has become less of a chance to celebrate women’s achievements and more of an excuse to push spending.
It has also spawned a phenomenon called “Girls’ Day”, that reinforces the social preference for youth and beauty, they say.
International Women’s Day was first organised by the former Socialist Party of America in New York in 1909 and later became a fixture on calendars among socialists and in communist countries before being adopted by the United Nations in 1975 .
When marrying young is the norm, courageous Chinese women take back control by asking parents to “Meet me halfway”
In China, it has been celebrated since 1924, with women using the day to highlight the need for their rights.

“Women’s day was meant to celebrate the spirit of women fighting for their rights, encouraging women’s independence and empowerment, that they can have all sorts of lives and not be a part attached to men,” Guo said.

“[The campaigns] give the impression that girls are innocent, without social experience, and ‘women’ are older, less attractive.”

Women need opportunities at work, at home and in public life, a rights advocate says. Photo: EPA
Women need opportunities at work, at home and in public life, a rights advocate says. Photo: EPA

Even international firms have come under fire for linking their products with Girls’ Day. On Thursday, in an advertisements for the film Captain Marvel, Marvel Studios’ China team wrote on Weibo, “Happy Girls’ Day! Captain Marvel Brie Larson sends her wishes to all girls in China.”

Commenters said the first Marvel movie to showcase a woman superhero was undermining its message by highlighting a day with a mixed meaning.

“The film basically sells feminism, yet you are talking about Girls’ Day?” one comment said.

China gender and sexuality centre shuts down as censorship chill spreads

Other firms, such as sportswear company Nike, won a round of applause for breaking stereotypes with Dream Crazier video. The video centred on breakthroughs from female athletes around the globe, complete with Nike’s slogan, “Just do it”.

Feng Yuan, the co-founder of Beijing-based group Equality, which is dedicated to women’s rights and gender equality, said many shop owners or platforms wanted to turn any special day into a shopping bonanza, but they only appeared to be trying to please women.

“We should be alerted that the names of ‘Girls’ Day’ or ‘Goddess’s Day’ indicate that many regard women only as consumers, caretakers or an ‘empty vases’,” Feng said.

The focus on women’s appearance was driven home on Thursday night in a fumbled attempt by a university in the country’s north to mark the day. In a Weibo post, Shandong University claimed it was the founder of Girls’ Day on March 7, and the original meaning was “three plus seven equals 10. You score 10 out of 10 points for sweetness.” It claimed the day was for university students to care for women and for female students to showcase their attractiveness.

The post quickly met with criticism. The Intellectuals, an online media outlet, said “the day recognises women’s achievements, regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, language, culture, economic and political standing. It originated from North America and Europe’s workers’ movements in the early 20th century.

“Whether you call it Girls’ Day or Queens’ Day, it’s an insult to the true spirit of the day.”

On campuses throughout the country, it has become a tradition for banners with supportive messages to be put up on buildings and message boards. But rather than celebrating women, many of the banners sexualise them in what critics say amounts to a form of sexual harassment.

“I’ve met scores of women in the spring, but I’d rather be sleeping with you,” one banner read.

The sexualisation of the event is compounded by jokes online that play on the Chinese word for “day” and “sex” to suggest that the real meaning of the day is to “welcome girls into womanhood”.

Women’s rights advocates say the public needs to sever the sexual and commercial ties to the day and focus on the many areas in which women’s rights need to be improved.

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That includes the lifting of a ban on the official Weibo account of Feminist Voices, which before it was shut down without explanation on women’s day last year, had some 180,000 followers and published articles on sexual harassment, women’s rights or workplace equality.

More broadly, in 2018, women still on average made less than 80 per cent of the average salary for men, according to a report by Chinese recruitment platform Zhipin.com. The report said women tended to hit a glass ceiling for promotion and pay due to the demands of marriage and child rearing.

Women’s rights have gained some attention this week as national lawmakers and advisers have met in Beijing for their annual gatherings. Huang Xihua, a National People’s Congress delegate from Huizhou in Guangdong province, ignited debate at the congress with a called for the two-child policy to be scrapped and for unmarried women to be granted equal rights to have children.

Feng, from Equality, was clear about what still needed to be done.

“For women’s day, we don’t need flowery words of praise, but more women-friendly and gender-equal policies, giving women an equal position and opportunity in family, career and public lives,” she said.

Source: SCMP

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01/03/2019

China’s envoy says Turkish Uighur criticism could hit economic tie

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey risks jeopardising economic ties with China if it keeps criticising Beijing’s treatment of Uighur Muslims, China’s envoy to Ankara warned, just as Chinese firms are looking to invest in Turkish energy and infrastructure mega-projects.

Last month Turkey broke a long silence over the fate of China’s Uighurs, saying more than one million people faced arbitrary arrest, torture and political brainwashing in Chinese internment camps in the country’s northwestern Xinjiang region.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu repeated Ankara’s concern at a United Nations meeting this week, calling on China to respect human rights and freedom of religion.

China has denied accusations of mistreatment and deems criticism at the United Nations to be interference in its sovereignty. Beijing says the camps are re-education and training facilities that have stopped attacks previously blamed on Islamist militants and separatists.

For now, Deng said that many Chinese companies were looking for investment opportunities in Turkey including the third nuclear power plant Ankara wants to build.

Several Chinese firms including tech giant Alibaba, are actively looking at opportunities in Turkey after the lira’s sell-off has made local assets cheaper.

In addition to Alibaba, which last year purchased Turkish online retailer Trendyol, other companies holding talks included China Life Insurance and conglomerate China Merchants Group, Deng said.

GAPING DEFICIT

Deng said Chinese banks wanted to invest in Turkey, following the lead of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) which bought Tekstilbank in 2015.

Chinese investment in Turkey would help narrow Ankara’s gaping current account deficit, which stood at $27.6 billion last year. Turkey’s trade deficit with China alone stood at $17.8 billion last year, according to Trade Ministry data.

In January, Turkey’s Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said it was “impossible” for Turkey to maintain such a trade deficit with China and other Asian countries, saying the government was considering taking measures.

Deng said he did not expect Turkey to take protectionist steps. “Both countries are strictly against such policies, and both economies need an open world economy,” he said.

He also called on Turkey to adopt Chinese payment platforms such as WeChat and AliPay. “People don’t want to pay in cash and the population here is very young so they wouldn’t have trouble adapting to new technologies,” Deng said.

Good diplomatic and political ties, however, would remain crucial for developing economic ties and attracting more Chinese investment, he said, adding that he had raised the issue with Cavusoglu on Tuesday, a day after the foreign minister’s intervention at the United Nations.

“The most important issue between countries are mutual respect,” he said. “Would you stay friends if your friend criticized you publicly every day?

Source: Reuters

24/02/2019

China’s military build-up just starting – a lot more to come, expert warns

  • Military watchers can expect ‘something new’ at this year’s National Day parade in October, Professor Jin Canrong tells forum in Hong Kong
  • As tensions rise over Taiwan, Beijing is building a naval and missile force as powerful as any in the world, he says

Beijing’s military build-up just starting – a lot more to come, expert warns

24 Feb 2019

Submarine arms race seen heating up in Indo-Pacific amid China ‘threat’

16 Feb 2019

The US could send more nuclear attack submarines, such as the Virginia-class, to the region. Photo: AFP
Military vehicles carrying DF-16 ballistic missiles take part in China’s National Day parade. Taiwan says Beijing has such missiles trained on the self-ruled island. Photo: Handout
Military vehicles carrying DF-16 ballistic missiles take part in China’s National Day parade. Taiwan says Beijing has such missiles trained on the self-ruled island. Photo: Handout

Beijing will show the world “something new” when it rolls out its arsenal of short- to medium-range ballistic missiles at its National Day military parade in October, according to a Chinese expert on international relations.

Speaking at a seminar at the University of Hong Kong on Saturday, Professor Jin Canrong, associate dean of the school of international studies at Renmin University in Beijing, said China had made great strides in expanding its military capability, but there was a lot more to come.

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While he did not elaborate on what the “something new” might be, he said the country was gearing up for a possible conflict over Taiwan, the self-ruled island that Beijing regards as a wayward province awaiting reunification.

Over the next five or 10 years, Taiwan could provide the “biggest uncertainty” for Beijing, he said, especially if the United States decided to “ignite” the situation.

Known for being outspoken on sensitive issues, Jin said that while Beijing wanted a peaceful reunification, it was wary of “pro-independence factions [on the island] and right-wing American [politicians] creating trouble”.

In a speech on January 2 to mark the 40th anniversary of Beijing’s call to end military confrontation across the Taiwan Strait, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that “the political division across the strait … cannot be passed on from generation to generation”, apparently signalling his determination to bring it to an end.

Xi said China would not abandon the use of force in reunifying Taiwan, but stressed the military would target only external elements and those seeking independence for the island.

In 2017, Taipei said that it had detected the deployment of DF-16 ballistic missiles on the mainland that were aimed at Taiwan.

Jin said China was rapidly expanding its missile capabilities. The People’s Liberation Army had already stockpiled about 3,000 short- and medium-range missiles, he said, even though it had been using just 15 per cent of its production capacity.

“Just imagine if we were running at 100 per cent,” he said.

Beijing will show the world “something new” when it rolls out its ballistic missiles at its National Day military parade in October, an expert says. Photo: Xinhua
Beijing will show the world “something new” when it rolls out its ballistic missiles at its National Day military parade in October, an expert says. Photo: Xinhua

Under its plan for military modernisation China had achieved “great advancements in space, electronics and cyberwarfare”, the academic said, but its achievements to date were only the beginning.

As well as the expansion of its missile force, Beijing was investing heavily in its navy, he said.

Is China about to abandon its ‘no first use’ nuclear weapons policy?

With the deployment of the new Type 055 guided-missile destroyer – which some Chinese military experts have said is as good as anything in the US Navy – the balance of power was shifting, he said.

“For the first time in 500 years, the East has combat equipment that is at least as good as the West’s.”

With the deployment of the new Type 055 guided-missile destroyer, the balance of power between China and the US is shifting, according to Jin Canrong. Photo: Handout
With the deployment of the new Type 055 guided-missile destroyer, the balance of power between China and the US is shifting, according to Jin Canrong. Photo: Handout

And as the navy continued to modernise and expand, the US might be forced to rethink its position in the region, he said.

“When we have dozens of destroyers and four or five [aircraft] carriers the US will not be able to meddle in Taiwan.”

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Jin said that China would also soon have all the scientific, academic and research personnel it needed to achieve its military ambitions.

“China had nearly 30 million university students in 2018, which is twice as many as the US. More than half of them are studying science or engineering,” he said.

“Every year we produce about 4 million science and engineering graduates, while America produces just 440,000.”

Professor Jin Canrong speaks at a forum in Hong Kong. Photo: Handout
Professor Jin Canrong speaks at a forum in Hong Kong. Photo: Handout

Beijing also had the money to support its plans, Jin said. Based on his own calculations, he said China allocated about 1.4 per cent of its gross domestic product to military spending, which was lower than “Germany’s 1.5 per cent”, and less than half the “3 per cent in Britain and France”.

“The tax paid by Chinese smokers is more than enough to cover [the country’s] military expenses,” Jin said.

According to figures from Nato, Britain spent 2.1 of its GDP on defence in 2017, France 1.8 per cent and Germany 1.2 per cent. Both the World Bank and the United Nations put China’s military spending in 2017 at 1.9 per cent of its GDP.

Source: SCMP

22/02/2019

“Don’t mess with Pakistan,” India is told amid Kashmir tension

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (Reuters) – Pakistan will respond to any attack by India with “full force”, the army’s spokesman said on Friday, amid heightened tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours over Kashmir.

Major General Asif Ghafoor was speaking a week after a Pakistani-based militant group claimed responsibility for a suicide car bomb attack that killed 40 Indian paramilitary policemen the Himalayan region disputed between India and Pakistan.

India’s top military commander in the region has alleged Pakistan’s main Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency was involved.

“We have no intention to initiate war, but we will respond with full force to full spectrum threat that would surprise you,” Ghafoor told reporters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. “Don’t mess with Pakistan.”

The army’s response came two days after Prime Minister Imran Khan urged India to share any actionable evidence, offering full cooperation in investigating the blast.

He also offered talks with India on all issues, including terrorism, which India has always sought as a pre-requisite to any dialogue between the two arch-rivals.

India and Pakistan have fought two wars since independence in 1947 over Kashmir, which both the countries claim entirely.

Ghafoor also reiterated the talks offer.

“Kashmir is a regional issue,” he said. “Let us talk about it. Let us resolve it.”

India blames Pakistani Islamist militant groups for infiltrating into its part of Kashmir to fuel an insurgency and help separatist movements.

Washington and Delhi allege that the Pakistani army nurtures the militants to use them as a foreign policy tools to expand power in neighbouring India and Afghanistan. The army denies that.

One such group is Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which India blamed for attacks in Mumbai in 2008 which killed 166 people, saying its founder, Hafiz Saeed, was the mastermind.

The United States has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his conviction over the Mumbai attacks.

Pakistan has put him under house arrest several times and banned his Islamist groups, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), which the United States and the United Nations say are terrorist fronts for the LeT.

Islamabad reinstated the ban on the groups yet again on Thursday, but Saeed remains free, allowed to roam the country and make public speeches and give sermons.

Source: Reuters

20/02/2019

Chinese envoy urges pushing Yemeni parties to sustain effective political dialogue

UN-SECURITY COUNCIL-MEETING-YEMEN

Chinese Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ma Zhaoxu (C, Front) addresses a Security Council meeting on the situation in Yemen, at the UN headquarters in New York, on Feb. 19, 2019. The first redeployment of forces in Hodeidah of Yemen could possibly begin later Tuesday, UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths told the Security Council via video link from Amman on Tuesday. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) — A Chinese envoy on Tuesday urged the international community to push the Yemeni parties to sustain effective political dialogue.

“We should push the Yemeni parties to sustain effective political dialogue and negotiation,” Ma Zhaoxu, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations, said at a Security Council meeting on the situation in Yemen.

“We need to insist on the role of the United Nations as the main channel,” he said.

“Under the leadership of the Redeployment Coordination Committee, political will is to be turned into real action,” the Chinese ambassador said.

“We hope to see an early launch of the next round of peace talks under the leadership of special envoy (Martin) Griffiths, so as to reach a settlement that balances and takes into account of the interests of all parties and help resume peace, stability, and normal order in Yemen,” he said.

Noting that the international community “is paying close attention to” the issue of Yemen and is having a lot of expectations for the resumption of peace and stability in Yemen, Ma said that the Stockholm Agreement “has brought about hope of peace for the Yemeni people.”

“The Security Council should have a timely understanding of the implementation of the agreement by all parties and the challenges they are facing, and continue to play a positive role on the issue of Yemen,” the Chinese envoy added.

Ma told the Security Council that all Yemeni parties “are abiding by the ceasefire agreement in general,” adding that the Redeployment Coordination Committee under the auspices of the United Nations and with the participation of all Yemeni parties, is conducting its work “in an orderly fashion and has arrived at a consensus” on the first phase arrangement on Sunday.

Speaking of the challenges, the Chinese envoy said that the practical difficulties in implementing the agreement cannot be underestimated.

“Fighting is going on in Hodeidah and its surrounding areas. The two parties still have differences on the list of prisoners and the issue of task,” he said.

“The humanitarian situation in Yemen is dire,” Ma noted.

The envoy urged parties concerned to continue with the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement.

“The Yemeni parties should effectively implement the agreement, address their differences through dialogue, and increase their consensus,” he said.

“Efforts should be made to accelerate the deployment of the UN mission in Yemen to assist and monitor the implementation of the agreement,” said the ambassador.

Noting that the Security Council should take full account of, and respect the opinions of the country in question and the countries in the region, Ma said that the council should “continue to stay united.”

He also called for vigorous effort to ease the humanitarian situation in Yemen, stressing that the international community should provide food, medicine and funds “in a targeted fashion” to support the economic improvement and price stabilization in Yemen to satisfy the basic needs of livelihood for the Yemeni people.

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Griffiths told the Security Council via video link from Amman that Yemen’s government and Houthi rebels had agreed to pull back from the rebel-held ports of Saleef and Ras Issa followed by a redeployment from Hodeidah port, also held by the Houthis, and critical parts of the city.

Source: Xinhua

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