Tag Archives: China

China to suspend US Navy visits to Hong Kong over bill

China announced Monday that it will suspend U.S. Navy visits to Hong Kong in retaliation over President Trump’s decision to sign legislation that supported the city’s pro-democracy protesters who have taken to the streets since June.

Beijing took its first step to make good on its promise to employ “countermeasures” against the U.S. in light of the bills that it blasted as “hegemonic” in nature and ignorant of the facts on the ground.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which was sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., requires that the U.S. conducts yearly reviews into Hong Kong’s autonomy from Beijing. If ever found unsatisfactory, the city’s special status for U.S. trading could be tossed.

“I signed these bills out of respect for President Xi, China, and the people of Hong Kong,” Trump said in a statement. “They are being enacted in the hope that Leaders and Representatives of China and Hong Kong will be able to amicably settle their differences leading to long term peace and prosperity for all.”

China also announced on Monday that it sanctioned Human Rights Watch for its support of the violence in the city, ,Hua Chunying, a ministry spokesman, told Reuters.


China suspends R&R visits by US warships over Hong Kong bill

China said Monday it had suspended rest and recuperation visits by American warships in Hong Kong in response to a US bill supporting pro-democracy protesters in the semi-autonomous city.

“In response to the unreasonable behavior of the US side, the Chinese government has decided to suspend reviewing the applications for US warships to go to Hong Kong for recuperation as of today,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing.

China also said it would impose sanctions on US-based NGOs that have acted “badly” over the recent unrest in Hong Kong.

The sanctions will apply to NGOs including the National Endowment for Democracy, Human Rights Watch and Freedom House, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing.


Sri Lanka’s new president embarks on visit to India

Sri Lanka’s newly elected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa flew to India on Thursday afternoon on a two-day official visit, his first overseas trip since assuming office.

The trip is a clear sign that the new president is comfortably cozying up to its giant neighbor, which may likely displease China, which has heavily invested in the South Asian island due to its strategic interests.

Rajapaksa — who was elected to power in the Nov. 16 presidential election with an overwhelming 52% of the votes — is leading a delegation to New Delhi, following an invitation extended to him by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Dinesh Gunawardena, Sri Lanka’s minister of foreign affairs, told Anadolu Agency the president will meet with Indian leaders on Friday where bilateral issues will be discussed at length.

Rajapaksa will be accorded a grand welcome in India at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the official residence of the Indian President, in New Delhi, where a special ceremonial reception will be held in honor of the Sri Lankan president.

The visit also came hot on the heels of a statement by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who said he “appreciates” Rajapaksa’s continuous support and contribution to the China-Sri Lanka friendship and cooperation.

Xi said he looks forward to starting a “new chapter” in the China-Sri Lanka Strategic Cooperative Partnership.

Since Sri Lanka’s civil war with the Tamil rebel group LTTE ended in 2009, China has been at the forefront, helping the island nation of 21 million to develop in terms of infrastructure and as a result, China pumped millions of dollars into Sri Lanka during the presidency of Mahinda Rajapaksa, elder brother of the incumbent president.

With Chinese loans, the former president realized numerous infrastructure projects — including highways, a port, airport, convention center and tallest tower in South Asia among others.

However, some of the projects such as the country’s second international airport in Rajapaksa’s hometown Hambantota is considered a white elephant as no commercial airlines fly to it. Some critics termed Sri Lanka’s increasing dependence on China a “debt trap.”

Equal partners for business

Palitha Kohona, Sri Lanka’s former foreign secretary, said the incumbent president has stated categorically that Sri Lanka wants to remain neutral in its foreign relations and stay out of any conflicts among world powers.

“His [Rajapaksa’s] elder brother, who was the president from 2005 to 2015, was committed to non-alignment. But when his efforts to revive the ravaged economy after the terrorist-inspired 27-year conflict ended in 2009 were rebuffed by the World Bank and the West, he was forced to turn to China,” he told Anadolu Agency.

Kohona, a former permanent representative of Sri Lanka to the UN, also said that under the new president, the relationship with India will enjoy priority attention, but all other countries, including China, will be welcomed as economic partners.

“China, with its Belt and Road Initiative, is the economic dynamo of the world, and Sri Lanka is well situated to benefit from the growth of China and other Asian economies,” he said.

Kohona said Rajapaksa’s foreign policy would strike a middle path to court countries as “equal partners for business and investment” and it would avoid “becoming a tool of any power,” either militarily or economically.

Soon after being sworn in to the country’s highest office, Rajapaksa in his maiden speech said: “We hope to work with all countries in a friendly manner, and we want to remain neutral in our foreign relations and stay out of any conflict among the world powers.”

However, Maya Majueran, director of the Belt and Road Sri Lanka think tank, a local group of professionals, said the Chinese investments and Chinese involvement in Sri Lanka cannot be changed due to its geographical location.

“China will always ensure that they have their influence and that they will do whatever they want,” Majueran told Anadolu Agency. 


In 2017, owing to growing debt, the previous coalition government signed a $1.1 billion deal with China, giving control of the southern port in Hambantota on a 99-year lease to convert debt to equity. The port was constructed with loans from China under the Belt and Road Initiative.

In an interview with Indian journalist Nitin Gokhale of Strategic News International, Rajapaksa said that giving away the Hambantota port to China on a 99-year lease was a mistake by the previous government and that the deal must be renegotiated.

Majueran said Rajapaksa’s announcement was more or less his way of showing India and the rest of the world that he is trying to remain neutral.

According to Majueran, Sri Lanka at present does not possess necessary connections to convert the Hambantota Port into a profit-making entity within a short period. “But China has the market power in the shipping industry, so they have the ability to convert the port into a profit-making entity,” he said.

He said that although it is very unlikely for Beijing to renegotiate the lease, but there could be a possibility for the Chinese to take a step back and agree to reduce the lease period just to show Colombo that they are also “flexible”.

George Cooke, deputy director of Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies in Colombo, however believes that whether Sri Lanka decides to sign agreements with India or China in terms of development, it’s important to ensure a “win-win” situation to the country.

“This is where negotiations become critical, because when we sit down at the negotiating table with another country, they come to get the most for their side. So, we too must go in with the objective of getting most out of the situation,” Cooke told Anadolu Agency.

He also cautioned that it’s important to be mindful that countries such as India and China, are not only extremely powerful countries on the world stage, but “one is our immediate neighborhood, and the other has heavily invested in our country.”

“This is where we have a golden opportunity. Obviously, these countries are interested in us, and this is something that we should optimize to our advantage,” he added.


Pakistan Army’s Ex-Media Chief Named First Chairman of Multi-Billion Dollar CPEC Project

New Delhi (Sputnik): The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a pilot project of China’s Belt and Road initiative, is a planned network of connectivity comprising roads and railways linking China’s Xinjiang province with Pakistan’s strategic Gwadar Port.

Pakistan on Wednesday appointed the former head of its military’s media wing Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) as the first chairman of the CPEC Authority – which is tasked with promoting the timely completion of the project.

Lt. Gen (Retd.) Asim Saleem Bajwa will head the CPEC authority responsible for monitoring, evaluating and implementation of the project-related activities.

The authority was set up ahead of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Beijing in October, where he had assured China of its determination to complete the mega-corridor project.

The CPEC body, set up through a presidential ordinance, saw resistance from ‘sthe joint parliamentary committee on CPEC, which opposed setting up the authority through a presidential decree.

The authority has been conferred with absolute power to ask for any information related to the China-led project and impose penalties for failing to do so, media reports said.

The deployment of the retired army chief as CPEC authority head comes after Pakistani military’s initiative to raise a division headquarters of the 44th Light Infantry in Balochistan Province’s Gwadar to coordinate security initiatives and protect the CPEC.

Meanwhile, the political parties in Pakistan have been divided over the formation of the corridor authority itself.

While Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was against giving its constitution, another political party of the country, Pakistan Peoples Party, said the formation of authority is a violation of the recommendations of a parliamentary committee.

Sharif, chief of Pakistan’s Muslim League Nawaz, had said it would hinder collaboration between Ministries and departments. Both the parties claimed it would obstruct or hamper the multi-billion dollar project.


China tells U.S. and Britain to stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs

China’s ambassador to London on Monday accused foreign countries including the United States and Britain of interfering in Chinese internal affairs through their reactions to the violent clashes taking place in Hong Kong.


China attacks Western reporting on Xinjiang as ‘pure fabrication’

China’s ambassador to the United Kingdom on Monday (Nov 18) dismissed reporting by Western media on the Chinese government’s policies in Xinjiang as “pure fabrication” and “fake news”.

Asked in London about a New York Times article based on leaked Chinese government documents the newspaper said revealed details of the clampdown in Xinjiang, Ambassador Liu Xiaoming said: “I can categorically deny there is such a document. It is sheer, pure fabrication.”

United Nations experts and activists say at least 1 million ethnic Uighurs and members of other largely Muslim minority groups have been detained in camps in the western Xinjiang region in a crackdown that has drawn condemnation from the United States and other countries.

Beijing denies any mistreatment of the Uighurs or others in Xinjiang and says it is providing vocational training to help stamp out Islamic extremism and separatism and teach new skills.

A trove of leaked Chinese government documents revealed details of its clampdown on Uighurs and other Muslims in the country’s western Xinjiang region under President Xi Jinping, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

The documents, which the newspaper said were leaked by “a member of the Chinese political establishment”, show how Xi gave a series of internal speeches to officials during and after a 2014 visit to Xinjiang following a stabbing attack by Uighur militants at a train station that killed 31 people.

The report said Xi called for an “all-out ‘struggle against terrorism, infiltration, and separatism’ using the ‘organs of dictatorship,’ and showing ‘absolutely no mercy’.”

The documents show that the Chinese leadership’s fears were heightened by militant attacks in other countries and the US drawdown of troops from Afghanistan.

It was unclear how the documents, totalling 403 pages, were gathered and selected, the newspaper said.

China’s Foreign Ministry did not deny the authenticity of the documents, but said the New York Times report was “a clumsy patchwork of selective interpretation” that was “deaf and blind to the facts.”

“The public in Xinjiang wholeheartedly endorsed China’s measures to maintain stability. China will show no mercy to terrorists and will spare no measures in protecting people’s lives and safety,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

“The experience could be borrowed in other countries.”

The state-run Global Times newspaper said in an editorial on Monday that the report “lacks morality” and accused some in the West of being “eager to see Xinjiang engulfed in extreme violence and chaos”.

It said China had taken “decisive measures” in the region to ensure it did not become “another Republic of Chechnya”.

The documents show how officials were given talking points to explain to returning university students that their family members had been taken away for training, and how the programme faced push-back from some local officials, the report said.

They also show that the internment camps expanded quickly after Chen Quanguo was appointed in August 2016 as the party boss of the region, the report said.

Chen had taken a tough line to quell restiveness against Communist Party rule during his previous posting in Tibet.


Chinese soldiers leave Hong Kong barracks in rare clean-up cameo

Soldiers from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army briefly left their Hong Kong barracks on Saturday to help the clean-up after a week of disruption caused by pro-democracy protests, a rare and highly symbolic troop movement unsolicited by the city’s embattled government.

The action saw scores of soldiers from the garrison, which is confined to the barracks under Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, with crewcuts and identical gym kits conduct a lightning-quick removal of bricks and debris near their base.

Chinese state media has repeatedly warned that troops could be deployed to quell an unprecedented crisis in the semi-autonomous city that has entered its sixth month.

Confirming the brief deployment on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media platform, the PLA said it acted to open a debris-strewn road outside their Kowloon Tong barracks to traffic, winning “applause from residents” in the process.

The last time soldiers assisted in the city was in 2018 to clean up after a typhoon.

A spokesman for Hong Kong’s embattled government said the troop movement had not been requested by city authorities but was instead a “voluntary community activity initiated by themselves.”

Their appearance on Hong Kong’s streets raised tensions in a city rocked by a week of intensified violence and chaos.

“Today they come to pick up rocks, tomorrow they will come to take our lives,” said one Hong Kong Facebook user under a video showing the troops in clean-up action.

The city remains strewn with debris and barricades following a week-long campaign of roadblocks, vandalism and protest that has shut down large chunks of the train and metro network and forced schools to shut and universities to cancel classes.

On Saturday night, protesters and police clashed again near Hong Kong Polytechnic University, where volleys of tears gas were fired and petrol bombs thrown.

– Divided city –

The increasingly ugly scenes this week prompted China’s President Xi Jinping to warn the “one country, two systems” model governing Hong Kong was being jeopardised by the protests.

Semi-autonomous Hong Kong enjoys more freedoms than the mainland, although many feel those liberties are being chipped away.

Article 14 of the Basic Law — Hong Kong’s mini-constitution since its handover from Britain to China in 1997 — allows the local government to request help from PLA garrisons in the city in the event of a public order breakdown.

Although it was not requested, the PLA’s cameo “sends a subtle message that China is behind” the government, said political analyst Dixon Sing.

“It also gives a hint to the protesters… that if things really turn sour, China can still use the PLA in a more naked manner,” he added.

The protests started against a now shelved bill to allow extradition to China but have billowed into wider calls for democracy.

Two people have died this month as the violence worsened, while the financial hub has been pushed into a recession by the turmoil.

Meanwhile universities have emerged as bases for a movement previously defined by its fluid, unpredictable nature with stockpiles of weapons and supplies.

Hong Kong is a city divided and reactions to the movement from inside the PLA garrison reflected that schism.

A woman in her 50s who gave her name only as Lee applauded the clean up effort near the Kowloon Tong PLA base, saying it felt “so good” to see them.

“How did a Hong Kong that was doing just fine become like this?” she added.

But pro-democracy protesters, who remained in the streets as night fell, read the hour-long action from the barracks as a warning.

“We don’t touch them (the PLA barracks) we don’t know what kind of weapons they have and their mindset is also different from Hong Kong police,” said a 24-year-old student protesters who identified himself by the surname Leung.

Arguments and scuffles also broke out on Saturday between pro-government and pro-democracy activists during clean-ups across the city.

At the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Kowloon, student protesters insisted they wanted to maintain an occupation of the campus and keep control of one of the major tunnels to Hong Kong Island.

“We are here for the long term,” a 20-year-old student who identified himself only as E said.

Earlier on Saturday morning a group of around 500 people, mostly middle-aged and senior citizens, rallied outside the Hong Kong government’s headquarters to show support for the police, who have been heavily criticised over their handling of the crisis.


China’s PLA soldiers on Hong Kong streets in ‘voluntary’ clean-up

Soldiers belonging to China‘s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have briefly left their barracks to help Hong Kong residents clean up debris left over from anti-government demonstrations in a rare and highly symbolic troop movement unsolicited by the city’s embattled government.

Saturday’s action saw scores of soldiers from the garrison sporting crewcuts and identical gym kits conduct a lightning-quick removal of bricks and debris near their base, the AFP news agency reported.

Confirming the brief deployment on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media platform, the PLA said it acted to open a debris-strewn road outside their Kowloon Tong barracks to traffic, winning “applause from residents” in the process.

A city spokesman meanwhile said the Hong Kong government did not request assistance from the PLA, which has previously stayed confined to its garrison during months of protests, but the military initiated the operation as a “voluntary community activity”.

The presence of PLA troops on Hong Kong’s streets could stoke further controversy over the Chinese-ruled territory’s semi-autonomous status.

Demosisto, a pro-democracy organisation, said Saturday’s clean-up operation could set a “grave precedent” if the city’s government invites the military to deal with internal problems, the Reuters news agency reported.

The developments followed some of the worst violence seen during more than five months of anti-government demonstrations after a police operation against protesters at the Chinese University of Hong Kong on Tuesday.

The authorities have since largely stayed away from at least five university campuses that had been barricaded by thousands of students and activists who stockpiled petrol bombs, catapults, bows and arrows and other weapons.

Many protesters appeared to have left the campuses by late Saturday though some remained behind to man barricades. Hong Kong’s Cross-Harbour Tunnel was still blocked by protesters occupying Polytechnic University.

Months of unrest

The months-long protests that have rocked Hong Kong have been fuelled by widespread anger at the perceived Communist Party meddling in the former British colony, which was guaranteed its freedoms when it returned to the Chinese rule in 1997.

The protests started against a now shelved bill to allow extradition to China but have billowed into wider calls for democracy.

Beijing, for its part, denies interfering in Hong Kong and has blamed the unrest on foreign influences.

Chinese state media repeatedly broadcast comments made on Thursday by President Xi Jinping, in which he denounced the unrest and said “controlling chaos while restoring order” was the territory’s “most urgent task”.

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, has meanwhile condemned protesters as the “enemy of the people”.

In recent weeks, clashes between protesters and police have become increasingly violent.

Two people have died this month as the clashes intensified, while the financial hub has been pushed into a recession by the turmoil.

A 70-year-old street cleaner died on Thursday after being hit on the head a brick police said had been thrown by rioters. On Monday, police blamed a rioter for dousing a man in petrol and setting him on fire. The victim is in critical condition.

On the same day, police shot a protester in the abdomen. He was in a stable condition as of Saturday.

Several streets remain strewn with debris, barricades and scarred by scorch marks from petrol bombs thrown during the demonstrations.


China Regulator Approves Plan to Overhaul Share Ownership

China’s stock regulators say they will remove a limit on the public float of mainland companies listed in Hong Kong — a change that would shake up the ownership structures of some of the nation’s biggest firms.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission said in a statement on Friday evening that qualified companies listed or planning an initial public offering in the city can apply for “full circulation” of their shares. The change requires regulatory approval, it added.

Chinese regulators have been preparing to expand a pilot allowing mainland firms listed in the former British colony to convert their non-tradeable shares to H-shares and trade them on the city’s stock exchange. The program has been seen as a key step for state investors to reduce their control or even exit some industries.

“Full-circulation is relatively a good thing for investors as it could improve liquidity for these stocks,” said Steven Leung, executive director at Uob Kay Hian (Hong Kong) Ltd. “However, if there is sharp increase in tradeable shares, it would raise investor concern over the impact on the market.”

The CSRC said in its Friday statement that it successfully conducted a pilot involving three companies in 2018.

Some of China’s biggest and most-high profile firms trade in Hong Kong, including its big four banks, oil giants and insurers.


China completes crucial landing test for first Mars mission in 2020

China on Thursday successfully completed a crucial landing test in northern Hebei Province ahead of a historic unmanned exploration mission to Mars next year.

China is on track to launch its Mars mission, Zhang Kejian, head of the China National Space Administration, said on Thursday, speaking to foreign diplomats and the media before the test.

The Mars lander underwent a hovering-and-obstacle avoidance test at a sprawling site in Huailai, northwest of Beijing. The site was littered with small mounds of rocks to simulate the uneven terrain on Mars which the lander would have to navigate on its descent to the planet’s surface.

“In 2016, China officially began the Mars exploration mission work, and currently all of the different development work is progressing smoothly,” Zhang said.

“The hovering-and-obstacle avoidance test for the Mars lander being carried out today makes up a crucial part of the development process. As scheduled, China’s first Mars exploration mission will take place in 2020.”

China has developed the powerful Long March 5 rocket to transport the probe to Mars in 2020.

The journey through space will take about seven months, while landing will take seven minutes, said Zhang Rongqiao, chief architect of the Mars exploration program.

The landing will be the toughest and most challenging stage, he said.

The same Long March 5 rocket is meant to deliver the Chang’e-5 probe to the moon by the end of 2019 or early next year to bring back samples of lunar rocks.

The Chang’e-4 probe successfully touched down on the far side of the moon in January this year, a historic first and major achievement for China’s space program.

China made its first lunar landing in 2013.

China expects to complete a modular space station around 2022, around the time when NASA is said to start building a new space station laboratory to orbit the moon, as a pit stop for missions to other parts of the solar system.

In 2003, China became the third nation to put a man in space with its own rocket after the former Soviet Union and the United States.

Since then, it has been racing to catch up with Russia and the United States and become a major space power by 2030.

“China is currently actively planning and preparing a number of major space programs, including a Mars sample return mission, asteroid exploration missions, and many more lunar missions,” the head of the space administration said.