Archive for ‘United Nations’

16/06/2019

Beijing sees ‘broad consensus’ with UN on Xinjiang as human rights groups blast envoy’s visit

  • UN counterterrorism chief Vladimir Voronkov not expected to make statement after visiting region last week
  • Trip prompts calls for independent observation in Muslim-majority area where an estimated 1 million people are held in detention facilities
Residents go through a security checkpoint at the entrance to a bazaar in Hotan, Xinjiang. The UN’s counterterrorism chief visited the far western region last week. Photo: AP
Residents go through a security checkpoint at the entrance to a bazaar in Hotan, Xinjiang. The UN’s counterterrorism chief visited the far western region last week. Photo: AP
Human rights group Amnesty International has joined growing criticism of a top UN official’s visit to China’s 
Xinjiang region

, echoing calls for more independent investigations of detention facilities for ethnic Uygurs.

The invitation to the United Nations envoy to visit was Beijing’s latest attempt to show it has nothing to hide in what it calls “re-education facilities” that hold an estimated 1 million people in the Muslim-majority area in western China.
But critics have warned that state-led media tours and diplomatic visits lack the unfettered access needed to make a proper assessment of alleged rights abuses in the region.
UN counterterrorism chief Vladimir Voronkov 
visited Beijing and Xinjiang

from Thursday to Saturday and met Le Yucheng, the vice foreign minister, according to a statement from the foreign ministry on Sunday. The statement said the two sides had reached a “broad consensus”.

UN human rights chief ‘is welcome to visit Xinjiang’

Voronkov’s visit follows months of pressure to allow the UN to investigate alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang. China has so far only allowed guided tours of the region for foreign journalists and diplomatic envoys.

Reuters reported on Saturday that Voronkov’s itinerary was planned by China and that his UN office did not expect to make any public statement about the trip, according to an email from Voronkov’s office seen by the news agency.

The United Nations said in August last year it had credible reports that detention facilities in Xinjiang held 1 million Uygurs and other Muslims. Beijing says the facilities are for “vocational training” and tied to deradicalisation and anti-terrorism efforts.

Patrick Poon, a Hong Kong-based researcher with Amnesty International, said he was “very much concerned” about how the UN envoy’s visit had been arranged.

“From what we saw in the previous visits orchestrated by the Chinese government for diplomats, it’s very difficult for anyone to believe how this visit will be able to show any authentic situation on the ground,” Poon said.

“If the Chinese government is sincere, let independent UN experts, such as the special rapporteurs, have independent observation of what’s happening in Xinjiang.”

Xinjiang’s vanishing mosques highlight pressure on China’s Muslims
His remarks followed criticism of the trip from Human Rights Watch on Friday.
“The UN allowing its counterterrorism chief to go to Xinjiang risks confirming China’s false narrative that this is a counterterrorism issue, not a question of massive human rights abuses,” Human Rights Watch UN director Louis Charbonneau told Agence France-Presse.
Also on Friday, US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan called UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to express “deep concerns” about Voronkov’s visit, according to the State Department website. Sullivan called for “unmonitored and unhindered access to all camps and detainees in Xinjiang by UN human rights officials”.
The United States has been increasingly vocal about China’s human rights abuses. Vice-President Mike Pence is due to give a speech on China’s “control and oppression” of citizens on June 24, but according to Bloomberg it could be postponed to avoid inflaming tensions with Beijing ahead of a possible meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 leaders summit in Japan on June 28-29. The speech was originally scheduled for June 4 but was delayed by Trump, Bloomberg reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.
Source: SCMP
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14/06/2019

China, Kyrgyzstan agree to enhance ties to new heights

KYRGYZSTAN-BISHKEK-CHINA-PRESIDENTS-TALKS

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Kyrgyz counterpart Sooronbay Jeenbekov hold talks in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, June 13, 2019. Xi and Jeenbekov held talks here Thursday, agreeing to take their countries’ comprehensive strategic partnership to new heights. (Xinhua/Li Xueren)

BISHKEK, June 13 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Kyrgyz counterpart, Sooronbay Jeenbekov, held talks here Thursday, agreeing to take their countries’ comprehensive strategic partnership to new heights.

Xi arrived in the Central Asian country Wednesday for a state visit and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit.

China-Kyrgyzstan relations have withstood the test of international vicissitudes and achieved leapfrog development over the past 27 years since the establishment of the diplomatic relationship. The two countries have set a fine example of a new type of state-to-state relations featuring mutual respect, equality and win-win cooperation, Xi said.

China will continue to support Kyrgyzstan’s own choice of development path and all policy measures taken by the Kyrgyz government to safeguard national independence, sovereignty and security, Xi said.

Xi also said China is ready to join hands with Kyrgyzstan to deepen their traditional friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation, so as to better benefit the two peoples.

The Chinese president stressed that jointly building the Belt and Road has become the focus of China-Kyrgyzstan cooperation, calling on the two countries to deepen the alignment of their development strategies, tap new potential of partnerships and explore new space of cooperation.

Cooperation in trade and investment should be expanded and major programs must be well implemented, Xi said, adding that China is willing to import more green and quality agro-products from Kyrgyzstan.

China will continue to support Kyrgyzstan’s economic and social development, including jointly building drinking water facilities, roads, hospitals and other projects to improve people’s livelihood.

Xi also called for closer people-to-people and sub-national exchanges.

Amid efforts to enhance security cooperation, the two countries should step up fight against the “three forces” of terrorism, separatism and extremism, transnational organized crime and drug trafficking, Xi said.

On the SCO, Xi said China applauds Kyrgyzstan’s efforts to promote cooperation in various fields since taking over the rotating presidency of the SCO.

China supports Kyrgyzstan in hosting the Bishkek summit, which will be held on Friday, and encourages the SCO member states to gather more consensus, tap potential of cooperation and build a community with a shared future that benefits all sides, Xi said.

For his part, Jeenbekov said he has met with the Chinese president for three times in more than a year, fully demonstrating the high level of the bilateral relations and the willingness of both sides to strengthen cooperation.

Kyrgyzstan will always be “a good neighbor, good friend and good partner” of China, he said.

Jeenbekov conveyed congratulations on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and on the remarkable achievements made by the Chinese people under the leadership of Xi and the Communist Party of China.

Xi’s vision and experience on state governance are of great significance to Kyrgyzstan, Jeenbekov said.

The president thanked China for its long-term and huge assistance and support to Kyrgyzstan in its national development and the improvement of the people’s livelihood.

Kyrgyzstan firmly adheres to the one-China policy, Jeenbekov said, adding that the affairs of ethnic minorities in China are its internal affairs and that his country supports policies and measures taken by the Chinese government in this regard.

Kyrgyzstan stays committed to the fight against the “three forces,” he said.

Noting that Kyrgyzstan’s national development strategy corresponds to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Jeenbekov said his country is ready to set up institutionalized arrangements to promote their alignment, deepen cooperation with China in areas such as trade, investment, energy, agriculture, transport and on local levels, as well as increase cultural and people-to-people exchanges.

Kyrgyzstan and China hold similar stances on international and regional issues, laying a sound foundation for the two countries to strengthen multilateral coordination, he said.

The Kyrgyz side appreciates China’s valuable support to Kyrgyzstan during its SCO presidency and in hosting the Bishkek summit, he said.

After the talks, the two presidents signed a joint statement on further deepening the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries, and witnessed the exchanges of bilateral cooperation documents.

The two sides will continue the visits and meetings between leaders of the two countries to regularly exchange views on bilateral relations and international and regional issues of common concern, according to the joint statement.

Both sides will continue to support each other on issues related to their core interests, such as national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity, said the statement.

Noting that there is great potential for cooperation to synergize the BRI with Kyrgyzstan’s national development strategy 2018-2040, the statement said the two sides will look for more common grounds of interests and realize common development based on the principle of win-win cooperation.

The two sides also pledged to support the central role of the United Nations in international affairs and the building of an open world economy, voicing resolute opposition to unilateralism and protectionism.

Source: Xinhua

04/06/2019

No time to waste in saving the world’s rivers from drying up – especially in China

  • Brahma Chellaney writes that excessive damming and drastic overuse of water resources are causing the world’s major waterways to run dry
Vessels head for the lock of the Three Gorges Dam in Yichang, in central China's Hubei province. Sediment build-up in the dam’s reservoir stems from silt flow disruption in the Yangtze River, Brahma Chellaney writes. Photo: Xinhua
Vessels head for the lock of the Three Gorges Dam in Yichang, in central China’s Hubei province. Sediment build-up in the dam’s reservoir stems from silt flow disruption in the Yangtze River, Brahma Chellaney writes. Photo: Xinhua
Thanks to excessive damming and drastic overuse of water resources, an increasing number of major rivers across the world are drying up before reaching the sea.
Nowhere is this more evident than in China, where the old saying, “Follow the river and it will eventually lead you to a sea,” is no longer wholly true.
While a number of smaller rivers in China have simply disappeared, the Yellow River – the cradle of the Chinese civilisation – now tends to run dry before reaching the sea.
This has prompted Chinese scientists to embark on a controversial rainmaking project to help increase the Yellow’s flow. By sucking moisture from the air, however, the project could potentially affect monsoon rains elsewhere.
For large sections of the world’s population, major river systems serve as lifelines. The rivers not only supply the most essential of all natural resources – water – but also sustain biodiversity, which in turn supports human beings.
Yet an increasing number of rivers, not just in China, are drying up before reaching the sea.
A major new United Nations study published early this month offers grim conclusions: human actions are irremediably altering rivers and other ecosystems and driving increasing numbers of plant and animal species to extinction.

“Nature across the globe has now been significantly altered,” according to the study’s summary of findings.

The Yangtze and Jialing rivers come together in the southwestern city of Chongqing. Photo: Simon Song
The Yangtze and Jialing rivers come together in the southwestern city of Chongqing. Photo: Simon Song

Water sustains life and livelihoods and enables economic development.

If the world is to avert a thirsty future and contain the risks of greater intrastate and interstate water conflict, it must protect freshwater ecosystems, which harbour the greatest concentration of species.

The Mekong is mighty no more: book charts river’s demise

Yet, according to another study published in Nature this month humans have modified the flows of most long rivers, other than those found in the remote regions of the

Amazon and Congo basins and the Arctic.

Consequently, only a little more than one-third of the world’s 246 long rivers are still free-flowing, meaning they remain free from dams, levees and other man-made water-diversion structures that leave them increasingly fragmented.

Humans have modified the flows of most long rivers, including the Yangtze, home to some of China’s most spectacular natural scenery. Photo: WWF
Humans have modified the flows of most long rivers, including the Yangtze, home to some of China’s most spectacular natural scenery. Photo: WWF

Such fragmentation is affecting river hydrology, flow of nutrient-rich sediment from the mountains where rivers originate, riparian vegetation, migration of fish and quality of water.

Take the Colorado River, one of the world’s most diverted and dammed rivers. Broken up by more than 100 dams and thousands of kilometres of diversion canals, the Colorado has not reached the sea since 1998.

Sinking sands along the Mekong River leave Vietnamese homeless

The river, which originates in the Rocky Mountains and is the lifeblood for the southwestern United States, used to empty into the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.

But now, owing to the upstream diversion of 9.3 billion cubic metres (328.4 billion cubic feet) of water annually, the Colorado’s flow into its delta has been reduced to a trickle.

Altering the flow characteristics of rivers poses a serious problem for sustainable development, because they affect the ecosystem services on which both humans and wildlife depend. Photo: AP
Altering the flow characteristics of rivers poses a serious problem for sustainable development, because they affect the ecosystem services on which both humans and wildlife depend. Photo: AP

Other major rivers that run dry before reaching the sea include the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, the two lifelines of Central Asia; the Euphrates and the Tigris in the Middle East; and the Rio Grande, which marks the border between Texas and Mexico before heading to the Gulf of Mexico.

The overused Murray in Australia and Indus in Pakistan are at risk of meeting the same fate.

Are China’s Mekong dams washing away Cambodian livelihoods?

More fundamentally, altered flow characteristics of rivers are among the most serious problems for sustainable development, because they seriously affect the ecosystem services on which both humans and wildlife depend.

Free-flowing rivers, while supporting a wealth of biodiversity, allow billions of fish – the main source of protein for the poor – to trek through their waters and breed copiously.

Urgent action is needed to save the world’s rivers, including improving agricultural practices, which account for the bulk of freshwater withdrawals

Free-flowing rivers also deliver nutrient-rich silt crucial to agriculture, fisheries and marine life.

Such high-quality sediment helps to naturally re-fertilise overworked soils in the plains, sustain freshwater species and, after rivers empty into seas or oceans, underpin the aquatic food chain supporting marine life.

China’s hyperactive dam building illustrates the high costs of river fragmentation. No country in history has built more dams than China. In fact, China today boasts more large dams than the rest of the world combined.

China’s chain of dams and reservoirs on each of its long rivers impedes the downstream flow of sediment, thereby denying essential nutrients to agricultural land and aquatic species.

A case in point is China’s Three Gorges Dam – the world’s largest – which has a problematic build-up of sediment in its own massive reservoir because it has disrupted silt flows in the Yangtze River.

Likewise, China’s cascade of eight giant dams on the Mekong, just before the river enters Southeast Asia, is affecting the quality and quantity of flows in the delta, in Vietnam.

Yangtze dams may spell end to sturgeon in a decade
Undeterred, China is building or planning another 20 dams on the Mekong.
How the drying up of rivers affects seas and oceans is apparent from the Aral Sea, which has shrunk 74 per cent in area and 90 per cent in volume, with its salinity growing nine-fold.
People beat the heat by cooling off in the Yangtze River in Wuhan, in central China’s Hubei province. Photo: Nora Tam
People beat the heat by cooling off in the Yangtze River in Wuhan, in central China’s Hubei province. Photo: Nora Tam

This change is the result of the Aral Sea’s principal water sources, the Amu Darya and Syr Darya, being so overexploited for irrigation that they are drying up before reaching what was once the world’s fourth-largest inland lake.

Compounding the challenges is the increasing pollution of rivers. Aquatic ecosystems have lost half of their biodiversity since the mid-1970s alone.

Chinese court jails nine for dumping toxic waste in Yangtze

Urgent action is needed to save the world’s rivers. This includes action on several fronts, including improving practices in agriculture, which accounts for the bulk of the world’s freshwater withdrawals.

Without embracing integrated water resource management and other sustainable practices, the world risks a parched future.

Source: SCMP

24/05/2019

Chinese vice president holds talks with Brazilian vice president

CHINA-BEIJING-WANG QISHAN-BRAZIL-VP-TALKS-COSBAN-MEETING (CN)

Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and Brazil’s Vice President Hamilton Mourao hold talks and co-chair the fifth meeting of the China-Brazil High-Level Coordination and Cooperation Committee (COSBAN) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, May 23, 2019. (Xinhua/Zhang Ling)

BEIJING, May 23 (Xinhua) — Chinese vice president Wang Qishan on Thursday held talks with Brazil’s Vice President Hamilton Mourao in Beijing. They also co-chaired the fifth meeting of the China-Brazil High-Level Coordination and Cooperation Committee (COSBAN).

The Chinese-Brazilian ties have been developing steadily ever since the two countries established diplomatic ties 45 years ago, said Wang, adding that their bilateral relationship has become mature and stable relationship.

The two sides maintain close communication and coordination on major international and regional issues, and have effectively promoted the solidarity and cooperation between developing and emerging market countries, Wang said.

He noted that both sides are committed to promoting development through structural reforms and opening up, and said that China was ready to work with the Brazilian side to make good use of the COSBAN to jointly resist the uncertainty of the external environment, make greater contributions to the recovery of global economy, and create a new era of higher-level, broader areas and more dynamic bilateral relations.

Mourao said Brazil and China respected each other and shared profound traditional friendship. The Brazilian new government attaches great importance to the comprehensive strategic partnership with China and is willing to strengthen dialogue and cooperation between the two countries as well as to promote the integration of the Belt and Road Initiative with Brazil’s development strategy.

Brazil is willing to strengthen cooperation with China in the multilateral arena, maintain the stability of the international system, and make contributions to promote world peace and prosperity, he said.

The two sides agreed to strengthen exchanges and cooperation in various fields, promote trade facilitation, optimize trade structure and promote high-quality growth of bilateral trade, according to a news briefing.

The two sides attach great importance to dovetailing the Belt and Road Initiative with Brazil’s development strategy including the investment partnership projects.

The two sides agreed to continue to cooperate closely under multilateral organizations and frameworks such as the United Nations, the BRICS countries and the World Trade Organization (WTO), jointly maintain multilateralism and free trade, improve global economic governance, and safeguard the multilateral trading system with the WTO as the core to build an open world economy, said the news briefing.

Source: Xinhua

20/05/2019

Across China: Beekeeping goes digital

HANGZHOU, May 19 (Xinhua) — Beekeepers in China’s high-tech powerhouse of Zhejiang Province have developed a smart way of using intelligent beehives to revolutionize bee farming.

Over 300 apiculture insiders and experts convened in Chun’an County on Saturday to witness the pilot.

More than 2,600 artificial beehives have been arranged in mountains in the western outskirts of Hangzhou, the provincial capital.

Chen Pinghua, chair of Qiandao Lake Mozhidao Biotechnology Co. Ltd., which operates the bee farm, said the smart hives were installed with sensors at the bottom, which can monitor and regulate the temperature and humidity and send the data on the number of times the bees enter and leave as well as the weight of the hive for technicians to determine whether the honey has matured.

Each hive is also pasted with a unique QR code that traces the source of the honey to ensure food safety, Chen said.

He said staff could open an app on their mobile phones to monitor the real-time data of each hive, which greatly improves efficiency.

Saturday coincided with World Honey Bee Day designated by the United Nations in 2017 to spread awareness on the significance of bees, which pollinate one-third of the world’s grain-producing plants.

“Beekeeping has a long history in China, but it has remained as a very low-end business without standards for hives and on how bees are raised and how honey is harvested,” said Yang Yibo, deputy secretary-general of the Eco-Apiculture Committee of the China Association for the Promotion of Quality.

He said the smart hive system had significance in digitizing the information of honey sources, bee colonies and beekeepers, and forming visualized big data to help analyze the quality in each procedure.

The annual output of honey in China exceeds 400,000 tonnes, and the country’s output of propolis, bee pollen and beeswax rank first in the world. More than 300,000 people are employed in the business.

Wang Fuchun, a veteran bee farmer in Chun’an, said with the high-tech bee farming, a hive could produce more than 30 kg of honey a year, almost quadrupling the amount produced in the traditional way.

The company plans to put 10,000 more smart hives in the mountain region this year.

Source: Xinhua

19/05/2019

China’s top legislator visits Norway to promote bilateral ties

NORWAY-OSLO-LI ZHANSHU-NORWEGIAN KING-MEETING

Li Zhanshu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), meets with Norwegian King Harald V in Oslo, Norway, May 16, 2019. China’s top legislator Li Zhanshu paid an official friendly visit to Norway from May 15 to 18, expecting to promote the development of Sino-Norwegian ties to score more progress. (Xinhua/Huang Jingwen)

OSLO, May 18 (Xinhua) — China’s top legislator Li Zhanshu paid an official friendly visit to Norway from May 15 to 18, expecting to promote the development of Sino-Norwegian ties to score more progress.

During the stay in Norway, Li, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), met with Norwegian King Harald V, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and President of the Norwegian parliament Storting Tone Wilhelmsen Troen.

When meeting with Norwegian King Harald V, Li conveyed the greetings of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the King, and expressed congratulations on the Norwegian National Day, which falls on May 17.

Li said during the King’s successful visit to China last year, the two heads of state made strategic plans for the development of bilateral relations in the new era. As this year marks the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Norway, the two sides are expected to seize the opportunity to cement friendship and expand cooperation on the basis of mutual respect and treating each other equally, so as to realize better development of bilateral relations.

Harald V expressed gratitude to China’s friendliness to the Norwegian side, saying Norway admires China’s tremendous development achievements. He said Norway is ready to strengthen cooperation with China in such fields as winter sports, and will make efforts to help China successfully host the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

When meeting with Solberg, Li said although Sino-Norwegian relations have experienced ups and downs, friendship and cooperation has always been the main theme of the ties. As both countries share common interests on safeguarding current global mechanism, building an open world economy, the two sides should jointly support multilateralism and free trade. Moreover, the two countries have similar development concepts and share strong economic complementarities, so the outlook of bilateral cooperation is very broad.

Norway is welcome to actively participate in the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative. And bilateral cooperation on economy, trade, environmental protection, science and technology, people-to-people exchanges and tourism is expected to be forged ahead, said China’s top legislator.

“China hopes the Norwegian side provides a fair, just and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese enterprises’ investment and operation in Norway,” said Li.

Solberg said bilateral cooperation has maintained sound momentum since the normalization of bilateral ties, expecting the two sides to push forward talks on inking a free trade deal and deepen cooperation in such areas as maritime affairs, shipping, fishery and environmental protection. She also voiced the will to advance communication and collaboration with China on issues concerning the United Nations, coping with the climate change and Arctic affairs.

When respectively meeting with Troen and members of the parliament’s standing committee on foreign affairs and defense, Li introduced China’s development path and political system.

“The reasons why China continues to make new development achievements are that we have embarked on a development path that suits our national conditions. This is the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” said Li, stressing that the Chinese people will unswervingly follow this path.

He said that the NPC of China is willing to work with the Norwegian parliament to implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, strengthen friendly exchanges at all levels, enhance understanding and trust through frank dialogues, and create a favorable environment for pragmatic cooperation.

Troen said that this visit is of great significance as Li’s tour marks the first visit of a Chinese leader since the normalization of bilateral relations in 2016. The Norwegian parliament is willing to carry out all-round exchanges and cooperation with the NPC of China, and make positive contributions to the development of state-to-state ties.

The two legislators also exchanged views on jointly safeguarding multilateral trade system, sustainable development and other issues of common concerns.

On May 16, Li attended the economic and trade conference in commemoration of the 65th anniversary of Norway-China diplomatic relations. He said in a speech that President Xi’s proposal of the high-quality development of jointly building the Belt and Road and the policy of China’s further expansion of opening up have provided new opportunities for the common development of all countries. The two countries’ enterprises are expected to seize the opportunity, tap cooperation potentials, so as to translate the desire for strong cooperation into more practical results.

During the tour, Li visited the Chinese skiers who were training in Norway and encouraged them to train hard and carry out bilateral friendship.

He also visited a local ecological agriculture project, an oil gas processing plant, and met with local officials in Norway’s southwestern county of Rogaland and its southern city of Stavanger.

Norway is the first lag of Li’s ten-day tour in Europe, which will also take him to Austria and Hungary.

Source: Xinhua

18/05/2019

China hopes Iran nuclear deal “fully implemented”: FM

CHINA-BEIJING-WANG YI-IRAN-MEETING (CN)

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) meets with visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Beijing, capital of China, May 17, 2019. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)

BEIJING, May 17 (Xinhua) — China hopes to work with the Iranian side to eliminate complicated disturbing factors and make efforts for the full implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Friday.

Wang made the remarks when meeting with visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“China firmly opposes unilateral sanctions and the so-called ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ imposed by the United States on Iran,” Wang said, pledging to maintain the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal, and safeguard the authority of the United Nations and basic norms governing international relations.

China welcomes Iran to actively take part in the joint building of the Belt and Road and hopes to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation, Wang said.

Zarif praised China for its important role in defending the Iran nuclear deal and vowed to strengthen bilateral and multilateral coordination so as to safeguard multilateralism and common interests of the two countries.

Source: Xinhua

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.

How a Chinese #MeToo musical whipped up a storm before the censors stepped in

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

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.

US commander pushes for more funding to counter China’s influence in Indo-Pacific

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.”

China’s first aircraft carrier may become test bed for electromagnetic warplane launcher

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

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