Posts Tagged ‘Chinese Communist Party’

China’s rising emissions prove Trump right on Paris Agreement 

June 6, 2018
Nothing horrifies the intelligentsia more than President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change. But, based on new information on China’s emissions, it increasingly looks like the president made the right call.
The Hill

.Image may contain: 3 people
© Getty Images

Nothing horrifies the intelligentsia more than President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change. But, based on new information on China’s emissions, it increasingly looks like the president made the right call.

Just last week, an analysis from Greenpeace indicated that China’s 2018 carbon emissions were on track to grow at the fastest rate in six years. The study, based on government data regarding the use of coal and other energy sources, shows carbon output rising 4 percent in the first quarter of this year. Analysts are projecting similar gains over the next several quarters.

The weakness of the Paris Agreement was that it was lopsided, requiring little from China and a great deal from the U.S. President Obama committed the United States to reducing carbon emissions in 2025 by 26 to 28 percent, which would have meant a substantial jump in electricity costs.

By contrast, China committed to boosting non-fossil fuels to around 20 percent of its overall energy mix by 2030 (a project already underway) and a “hope” that emissions might peak at that time. As one analyst commented in the New York Times, “What China is pledging to do here is not a lot different from what China’s policies are on track to deliver.”

As vague as its goals were, it is becoming clear that the country is unlikely to meet them. To do so would require sacrificing growth to rein in pollution. Since the Chinese Communist Party has pledged to double China’s 2010 GDP by 2020 and to create a “moderately prosperous society” by 2021, that is extremely unlikely.

Fans of the Paris accord have proudly noted that China’s emissions flattened between 2014 and 2016. But that reported hiatus in Beijing’s long-term carbon growth occurred during a period of economic deceleration. In 2017, with a renewed push for industrial investment and output, emissions again began to grow.

China is key. It is by far the world’s biggest source of carbon emissions, producing more than one quarter of the global total and 81 percent more than the United States. The U.S. is the second-largest; India a distant third.

Unlike China, emissions from the United States have trended lower in recent years. The peak occurred in 2005; overall net emissions in 2016 were 12.1-percent lower than in 2005, and the International Energy Agency reports another drop in 2017.

The main driver of lower emissions in the U.S. has been increased substitution of natural gas for coal in producing electric power. Cleaner natural gas became increasingly competitive with cheap coal thanks to widespread use of newly improved hydraulic fracking techniques.

The United States also implemented higher fuel economy standards for automobiles, but the impact from that measure has been far more limited. Emissions in the electric power sector dropped 25 percent between 2005 and 2016, from 2,401 million metric tons (mmt) to 1,809 mmt.

In transportation, the decline was a more modest 4 percent, from 1,856 mmt to 1,783 mmt. In 2017, according to the IEA, increased use of renewables for power generation was a key contributor to the decline in U.S. emissions.

By contrast, in China, coal use has trended higher recently, driving emissions up. Coal consumption, according to Beijing’s own (questionable) statistics, rose 0.4 percent in 2017, producing some backpedaling among those optimistic about China’s compliance with the Paris accord. Others estimate the increase at between 1 percent and 5 percent.

It is difficult to know, given China’s history of fudging the numbers. In the lead-up to the Paris talks, for instance, it became obvious that China was burning 17 percent more coal than it had admitted, a variance the New York Times described as “immense.”

Make no mistake: China is indeed attempting to reduce the blinding pollution that makes its major cities almost uninhabitable and that routinely shuts down its airports. Officials are ramping up the use of renewables and nuclear power, and they are trying to reduce their power sector’s reliance on coal.

This is not because of President Xi Jinping’s commitment to the Paris Agreement; it is because for several years there have been escalating (illegal) protests about the foul air and water that the political elites in Beijing and Shanghai have been forced to endure.

In a 2015 poll by Pew Research Center, three-quarters of Chinese respondents listed air and water pollution as “very” or “moderately” big problems; only “corrupt officials” ranked higher.

China’s supposed commitment to global emissions reductions is undermined by its sponsorship of coal elsewhere. The Natural Resources Defense Council reports that between 2013 and 2016, Beijing spent $15 billion building coal plants outside of China, mainly in countries included in its “One Belt, One Road” project. Another $13 billion is on tap for similar projects.

Eager to score a foreign policy achievement, Obama committed to promises that could have been met only by retarding U.S. growth.

In his speech announcing his withdrawal, President Trump cited a study by National Economic Research Associates that claimed the Paris Agreement would cost the U.S. 2.7 million lost jobs by 2025, including 440,000 in manufacturing and nearly $3 trillion in lost GDP by 2040. All, according to the study, for a 0.2-degree Celsius change in global warming by the year 2100.

Most important, it would have required the U.S. to hobble one of its greatest competitive weapons: its vibrant fossil fuel industries.

China President Xi Jinping was undoubtedly enthusiastic about a deal that demanded few sacrifices by China but that would have cost America dearly in terms of lost growth and income.

When he said at the start of last fall’s 19th party congress: “No one should expect China to swallow anything that undermines its interests,” he could have been referring to the Paris accord.

Beijing embraces a “China First” view of the world. Thank heavens the U.S. finally has a president who puts his country’s interests first as well.

Liz Peek is a former partner of major bracket Wall Street firm Wertheim & Company. For 15 years, she has been a columnist for The Fiscal Times, Fox News, the New York Sun and numerous other organizations.



‘Unprecedented’ foreign interference in Australia: spy chief

May 25, 2018

Australia’s spy chief has issued a new warning that foreign interference and espionage in the country had reached “unprecedented” levels that could cause “catastrophic harm” to Canberra’s interests.

Duncan Lewis, head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), did not single out any specific country but his remarks coincided with a sharp escalation of concerns over Chinese interference in domestic politics.

Image result for Duncan Lewis, ASIO, Photos

Duncan Lewis, head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO)

Lewis, in remarks in parliament late Thursday, said the “current scale of foreign intelligence activity … is unprecedented”.

He said foreign actors were targeting privileged and classified information on Australia’s alliances, partnerships and positions on diplomatic, economic and military issues.

Information on energy, mineral resources and science and technology innovations was also of interest, he added.

© AFP/File | Australia’s spy chief warned there were more foreign agents than during the Cold War

“Espionage, interference, sabotage and malicious insider activities can inflict catastrophic harm on our country’s interests,” Lewis told a parliamentary hearing in Canberra.

“It undermines potentially our sovereignty, our security and our prosperity… The grim reality is there are more foreign intelligence officers today than during the Cold War, and they have more ways of attacking us.”

Lewis backed efforts by the government to pass wide-ranging reforms to strengthen and modernise laws when investigating and prosecuting alleged political meddling.

Under the proposed laws, a transparency scheme would also require people to declare which foreign actors they are working for.

Lewis’ remarks follow allegations raised by senior politician Andrew Hastie on Tuesday that a billionaire Chinese-Australian businessman, a major political donor, had been identified by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation as a co-conspirator in a plot to bribe a top UN official.

Beijing criticised the disclosure, made under parliamentary privilege, and has also reacted angrily to the foreign interference laws, which came in the wake of fears about Chinese efforts to shape policy and opinion in democracies.



Australia Badgered, Harassed By China

May 25, 2018


Reflecting its pursuit of regional hegemony, China is now harassing America’s second-closest ally, Australia.

Enter the editorial published on Wednesday by China’s Western-focus state media outlet, Global Times. The Global Times is essentially Beijing’s way of sending a message to foreign governments without putting the government’s explicit signature to it. This allows Beijing to be aggressive on paper while pretending to be polite in person. Of course, everyone knows it’s a big joke.

Image may contain: stripes, sky and outdoor

Anyway, the Global Times’ latest editorial calls on Beijing to “cool Sino-Australia ties” in response to “distorted reporting on behalf of Australian media and remarks made by Australian politicians on China’s alleged interference and infiltration in Australian internal affairs.'” This follows a meeting on Monday between Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, in which Wang thought he was extremely clever by glowering in the two ministers photo.

But why is China choosing now to lash out?

Well, for one, because of a recent declaration by Andrew Hastie, chairman of Parliament’s intelligence and security committee, that “in Australia, it is clear that the Chinese Communist Party is working to covertly interfere with our media, our universities, and also influence our political processes and public debates.” Hastie’s warning carries special weight because he formerly served with Australia’s Special Air Service regiment (Australia’s equivalent of Delta Force).

Still, the Global Times’ real gripe is that Australia has “created challenges for [China] on several topics, including the South China Sea.” It adds that, as a consequence, “it will not be necessary for the Australian Prime Minister to visit China this year. In fact, he could visit a few years later.”

I suggest that Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should get ahead of the Chinese and cancel the visit himself. But China’s laments aren’t so much about Turnbull as about increasing Australian support for U.S.-led efforts to preserve democratic international order and the free movement of goods throughout the Pacific Rim. China hates this support because it represents a multilateral alliance against Beijing’s aggressive island construction campaign.

How does China intend to pressure Australia into abandoning its current pro-U.S. stance?

By threatening to cut off Australian exports to China. The Global Times notes, “Last year, Australia exported $76.45 billion in goods to China. Lowering Aussie exports by $6.45 billion would send cold chills up and down the spine of Australia.” The Global Times arrogantly adds that because Australia has “limited strength and influence globally” it has few means of response.

And the newspaper even offers a play for how trade could be reduced: “China has promised to increase its imports from the U.S., according to the recently-concluded Sino-U.S. trade talks. It is reasonable to cut a few imports from Australia to implement the China-US trade agreement. It will benefit China anyway.”

I say President Trump should call China on that presumption and suspend trade negotiations until China commits not to penalize Australia. Doing so would play China at its own arrogant game and send a robust signal of commitment to our ally and to the region. Remember nations like Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and India are watching how the U.S. responds to escalating pressure from Beijing. If Trump blinks now it will be his quieter, but far more consequential, version of Obama’s red line implosion.

Time to get tweeting, Mr. President. Here’s one you can take for free. Write, “Sad to see China pressure Australia. Maybe my friend President Xi Jinping is not such a good friend after all! Oh Well. But don’t worry, @turnbullMalcolm, #AmericaStandsWithAustralia. Won’t commit to trade deal unless Australia is protected.” That would send the right message.

Opinion By Tom Rogan

Archbishop will invite Pope to Taiwan, Vatican-China negotiations ‘appear to have stalled’

May 11, 2018

Archbishop Jong Hung Shan-chun is visiting the Vatican as part of a delegation of Taiwanese Church officials

Taiwanese Archbishop John Hung Shan-chun (Image from Database of Catholic Dioceses in Asia)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwanese Archbishop John Hung Shan-chun (洪山川) reportedly intends to offer a formal invitation to Pope Francis to come visit Taiwan in 2019, for an upcoming Church Congress.

Hung is currently visiting the Vatican as part of a delegation of Taiwanese Church officials. His remarks about inviting the Pope to visit Taiwan were made during a reception at the Taiwanese embassy in the Vatican, according to Reuters.

“No Pope has ever landed in Taiwan” Hung was quoted as saying, but he likes to “dream the impossible.”

Hung will reportedly extend the formal invite to Pope Francis next week, when the Taiwanese delegation of bishops is scheduled to meet with the Catholic leader.

Reuters reports that Huang feels the Pope should visit the country of Taiwan, because Taiwanese people there “have suffered.”

The visit of the world leader to the island nation of Taiwan would be an incredibly remarkable occasion, and also cause a great deal of political unease, as the Vatican has been in the process of negotiating a deal with Beijing, regarding the appointment of party approved clergy in the communist country.

An agreement between the Holy See and the Chinese Communist Party may potentially further marginalize Taiwan’s political status in the world, depending on the outcome of the arrangement.

Many view the visit of the Taiwanese delegation to the Vatican as an attempt to persuade the Holy See to avoid any agreements with Beijing that would be deleterious to the relationship between Taiwan and the Catholic city-state.

Reuters reports that negotiations between Beijing and the Vatican“appear to have stalled recently.”


Taiwan hits back at WHO exclusion under Beijing pressure

May 8, 2018

Taiwan accused the World Health Organisation of succumbing to political pressure from Beijing Tuesday after the island failed to receive an invitation to a major international meeting.

© AFP/File | China sees self-governing democratic Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification and has used its clout to diminish the island’s presence on the world stage since Beijing-sceptic President Tsai Ing-wen took power in May 2016

China sees self-governing democratic Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification and has used its clout to diminish the island’s presence on the world stage since Beijing-sceptic President Tsai Ing-wen took power in May 2016.

Last year was the first time in eight years that Taiwan was not granted access to the World Health Assembly (WHA) — WHO’s main meeting.

This year’s WHA is to be held in Geneva from May 21-26 and the online registration deadline lapsed on Monday without Taipei receiving an invite.

“We believe the WHO is a non-political organisation pursuing the highest health standards for humanity and should not solely serve Beijing’s political will,” the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) — Taiwan’s agency that handles official dealings with China — said in a statement.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday it “regretted” that it had not been invited to the WHA.

“Health is a basic human right, as well as a universal value regardless of differences in race, religion, political beliefs, economic or social situations,” the ministry said in a statement.

It added that under the WHO charter, Taiwan should be allowed “equal participation” in all WHO events.

WHO has not yet responded to AFP’s request for confirmation it will not invite Taipei to this year’s WHA.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Monday that the island was only able to attend the WHA from 2009-2016 because the previous Taiwan government had a consensus with Beijing that there is only “one China”.

While the former administration touted the agreement as enabling cross-strait relations to flourish without compromising Taiwan’s sovereignty, Beijing saw it as meaning that Taiwan and the mainland are part of a single China.

President Tsai and her independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party have refused to acknowledge the principle which Beijing sees as the bedrock for relations.

“This damaged the political foundation for Taiwan’s participation,” Geng told reporters.

China has also been attempting to exert pressure on international companies to list Taiwan as a Chinese province on their websites, rather than as a separate entity.

The White House said on Saturday that China’s aviation authorities had sent letters to 36 foreign airlines including US firms demanding they refer to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau as Chinese territories.

“This is Orwellian nonsense and part of a growing trend by the Chinese Communist Party to impose its political views on American citizens and private companies,” it said.

Back to the future: Rejuvenating China pushes Marxism as ‘true path’

May 3, 2018

With chat shows claiming “Marx was Right” and cartoons of his wild youth, China has gone to great lengths to show that the theories of German philosopher Karl Marx are still relevant today, ahead of the 200th anniversary of his birth on Saturday.

Image may contain: sky


Since coming to power in 2012, President Xi Jinping, widely seen as the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, has said the party must not forget its socialist roots as it works to bring about the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”.

Today, China, the largest self-identified socialist country, outwardly displays all the trappings of a modern capitalist society, from rampant consumption to a massive gap between the urban elite and rural poor.

The apparent contradiction between party rhetoric and appearance has led many observers to suggest that the party is no longer really motivated by Marxism and instead places practical and economic concerns above all else.

But Xi has embraced the party’s founding ideology and has re-introduced study sessions that hark back to the Mao era, as he stresses the need for China to be confident of its revolutionary history and political system.

In a Wednesday visit to the prestigious Peking University, Xi said the institution should be proud of its role in spreading Marxism, which led to the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in 1921.

“We must grasp Marxist theory and education, deepen students’ understanding of the theoretical and practical meaning of Marxism, as well as its historic necessity and scientific accuracy,” Xi said, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Much of the propaganda around the anniversary has cast Marx as being appealing to the young.

A chat show called “Marx was Right” from the state broadcaster released this week introduced his theories to students who then told the host why Marx mattered to them.

After an essay from the 17-year-old Marx was read to the audience, the host asked if the audience were as moved by his words as she was.

“I think Marx truly is really amazing,” Xing Kaichen, a student at the Communication University of China, replied. “I think all people should learn from him.”

The official publication of China’s top anti-graft watchdog invited readers to learn about Marx’s human side in a series of cartoons about his marriage and his youth – including when he was detained for being disorderly while drunk.

Aside from popularizing Marx, the propaganda has also attempted to show how his ideas are still relevant today.

“The world is at a crossroads,” the official People’s Daily said in a front page commentary on Wednesday, with Brexit, constant terrorist attacks and fighting in Syria demonstrating the “political deficiencies” of the West.

China’s governance, in contrast, “elegantly proves that Marxism has not stopped being true but has rather led to the true path”, it added.

Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Nick Macfie

Vatican urged not to sign ‘devil’s pact’ with China

April 14, 2018

‘IMMORAL’: China follows ‘Xi Jinping Thought,’ a Chung Hua University professor told a Taipei forum, while a researcher said China still persecutes because of religion

By Shih Hsiao-kuang and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer
Taipei Times

Academics attending a forum in Taipei yesterday urged the Pope not to choose a “devil’s pact” with the “modern theocratic government” that is China.

A “modern theocracy” has already formed in China, Chung Hua University Department of Public Administration associate professor Tseng Chien-yuan (曾建元) told the forum hosted by the Cross-Strait Policy Association.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses so-called “Xi Jinping Thought” (習近平思想) to command the psychology of Chinese and anyone who might challenge the party-state’s authority is kept under strict control, he said.

According to China’s newly amended Regulations on Religious Affairs (宗教事務條例), any religious groups unwilling to register would receive “unsystematic” treatment, he said.

The standard for the CCP’s so-called “Sinicization of religion” would be set by the CCP, he said.

By making a “devil’s deal” with the CCP, Pope Francis would be betraying the Catholics and advocates of religious freedom who have been persecuted by the CCP, he added.

The key to religious persecution by the CCP today does not lie in a dispute between theism and atheism, but rather in the CCP’s view of faith groups as potentially hostile forces, said Wu Renhua (吳仁華), a visiting academic at Soochow University’s Chang Fo-chuan Center for the Study of Human Rights who also attended the forum.

If these believers were to become political opposition groups, it would have a considerable impact on the CCP regime, he said, adding that the CCP has therefore always persecuted religious groups since its founding.

Catholics aside, the number of Christians in China has in recent years increased to more than 100 million, Wu said, adding that this has made them key targets of CCP attacks.

If the Vatican gives up on a free Taiwan and establishes diplomatic relations with China, the church would be making a “foolish” move, Wu said.

Moreover, such a move would not be in line with the interests of Chinese Catholics, but would be an abandonment of their sense of morality, Wu said.

The Vatican would be making an immoral decision, he added.

China-Vatican relations are at times real and at times fake, Taiwan Thinktank researcher Tung Li-wen (董立文) said.

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting

Taiwan Thinktank researcher Tung Li-wen, right, speaks at a forum organized by the Cross-Strait Policy Association in Taipei

It is true that the Vatican wants to establish diplomatic relations with China because it cannot overlook the potential number of believers in China, Tung said.

However, the two states have been unable to establish diplomatic relations because the CCP fears religious freedom, he said.

The CCP was originally atheist, but in recent years it has loosened its grip and allowed religious belief while still maintaining a high level of control over the staffing, organization and property of religious groups, Tung said.

However, after Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) took office, he further clamped down on religion, Tung said.

Citing observations made by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, Tung said the CCP was not soft in its curtailment of religious belief last year.

The CCP’s persecution of church members included arrests, house arrests and limitations on the participation of underaged people in churches, he said, adding that there were more than 100 victims last year.

It also forcibly removed crosses, forced churches to relocate and cut off churches’ power and water supply, Tung said, adding that more than 100 churches were affected.

If the Roman Curia wants to establish diplomatic relations with China, it must submit to the CCP, Tung said.

“If it does, how will Catholics around the world view the Vatican?” Tung asked.


Who Made Xi Jinping Pope?

A Vatican-China deal is imminent. Millions of Chinese Catholics should be afraid.

Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong (L) celebrates a mass in Rome, May 31, 2006.
Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong (L) celebrates a mass in Rome, May 31, 2006. PHOTO: PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Ever since the red flag rose over China in 1949, Roman Catholics there have suffered because of their fidelity to the pope in Rome. Now the Holy Father himself has become a source of tribulation. In its eagerness to reach a deal with China, the Vatican is elevating the persecutors over the persecuted.

Xi Jinping, an atheist and hard-line communist, became leader of China in 2012. The Chinese government has since stepped up its violations of human rights, including religious freedom. This is no accident. In 2016 President Xi declared that all party members should be “firm Marxist atheists and never find any of their beliefs in any religion.” The following year, in a speech that emphasized the dominance of the Communist Party over all Chinese life, he said the government would work to “Sinicize” religion—a euphemism for total control over the faith.

Against this backdrop, for some reason Pope Francis and his Vatican diplomatic corps think now is a good time to deal with Beijing. Given Mr. Xi’s view that religion is often a cover for anti-regime activities, it is hard to see him accommodating anything other than total surrender. Fortunately for Mr. Xi, Pope Francis is on the other side of the table.

As this newspaper reported Feb. 1, the pope “has decided to accept the legitimacy of seven Catholic bishops appointed by the Chinese government.” This means the pope will no longer have full control over his bishops. The power will go instead to atheist bureaucrats determined to suppress religion, with the pope’s role in appointing bishops reduced to a veto over their selection. The pope got almost nothing in return from his Chinese counterparts, and he is also being mocked. News reports allege that at least two of the seven excommunicated bishops selected by China have had relationships with women and even fathered children.

This appalls Cardinal Joseph Zen, who was born in Shanghai in 1932 and was bishop of Hong Kong from 2002-09. He has plenty of firsthand experience tussling with Chinese communists. He has negotiated the release of priests and bishops imprisoned in China, while raising funds abroad for the families of the persecuted. He was also under constant surveillance for his role in Hong Kong’s democracy movement. Few understand the true nature of a communist regime as well as he does.

Late last year, the cardinal told me of the Vatican’s effort to compel two good and faithful bishops to retire to make way for men chosen by Beijing. “Imagine what the communists think?” he asked. “They must be laughing at us.” Last month Cardinal Zen flew to Rome to make a personal appeal to the pope. He was ignored.

The pope’s dealings with similar regimes, notably Cuba and Venezuela, do not inspire confidence. Perhaps he dreams of becoming the first pope to celebrate Mass in Tiananmen Square. That would make for a powerful image. But the hard-liners in Beijing are not naive. They are very conscious of the church’s role in communism’s fall, especially in Poland.

Because the Vatican wants a deal more than Beijing does, the Holy See has negotiated from a weak position. “If the Holy Father gives up enough, they will take it, but the communists will offer nothing of substance in return,” Cardinal Zen says. If there is a deal, it will no doubt be the first of many surrenders. Perhaps the churches in Hong Kong and Taiwan will be next.

Do the pope and his diplomats really think Mr. Xi is merely going through the motions when he imprisons priests and bishops? Consider that China is in the midst of a military buildup, a multitrillion-dollar economic expansion across Asia and Africa, and a revival of aggressive communist ideology at home. No one should expect a resurgent China to honor a deal with the Vatican.

The proposed deal also needlessly deepens pre-existing divisions. Catholics in China currently belong to either the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association—a government-controlled church—or the underground church. The deal requires all underground bishops to join the government church, though not necessarily with their current title, or resign. It also forces all the priests and faithful in the underground church to join the CPCA. Anyone who doesn’t comply could face arrest for illegal activity, all while being declared disobedient by the Vatican.

Knowing that the Holy Father was on their side helped millions of Chinese Catholics—including Cardinal Zen—through their darkest days. But now they have to wonder about the Holy See’s judgment. Perhaps the only real hope for the Catholic faithful in China is that an aggressive and emboldened Beijing will insist on further capitulations. Maybe that would finally get the pope to walk from a deal.

Mr. Simon is an executive with Next Digital in Hong Kong.


A crane winching a large red cross from one Guantou’s three domes

A crane winches a large red cross from one of three domes on the Guantou church in Wenzhou


China ‘not afraid’ of trade war with Trump — If China “wins” does the world live under “Made in China 2025”?

April 6, 2018

Beijing condemns new US tariff threat and warns of ‘comprehensive countermeasures’

By Yuan Yang in Beijing, Emily Feng in Sanya and Alice Woodhouse in Hong Kong 

Financial Times (FT)

Image may contain: one or more people, cloud, sky and foodUS soyabean industry groups have warned that a trade war would have “devastating” effects © AP

Beijing has condemned Donald Trump’s threat of an additional $100bn in tariffs on imports from China, as Chinese experts warned the US it stood more to lose politically from a worsening tit-for-tat trade dispute that has unnerved global markets.

On Friday, a Ministry of Commerce spokesman said China was prepared to adopt “comprehensive countermeasures” in its dispute with the US, adding: “China doesn’t want a trade war, but we’re not afraid to fight a trade war”.

Lu Kang, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, echoed the commerce ministry’s statement, adding: “We will accompany [the US] until the end, we will not hesitate in paying any price.”

After the US and China exchanged threats earlier this week to impose tariffs over roughly $50bn worth of imports each, on Thursday evening Mr Trump instructed the US trade representative’s office “to consider whether $100bn of additional tariffs would be appropriate . . . and if so, to identify the products upon which to impose such tariffs”.

Beijing would likely follow suit in ramping up its own tariff threats if the US government implemented Mr Trump’s suggestion of additional penalties. “When someone uses a big stick, the response is to use yours in return,” said Shi Yinhong, professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing.

Former commerce ministry official He Weiwen, now a senior fellow at the Center for China and Globalization, a Beijing think-tank, warned that China would almost certainly be pushed to pursue tit-for-tat measures in retaliation if the additional tariffs materialised.

Mr Trump slammed China’s response to the tariffs proposed by his administration on Tuesday. On Wednesday, China announced plans to raise 25 per cent duties on 106 products, including soyabeans, cars and chemicals, on a date to be decided — depending on when the US implements its own tariffs.

Chu Shulong, professor of international strategy at Tsinghua University, said: “China will follow what the US does: if the US wants to threaten, it will threaten, if the US wants to talk, China will talk.”

But, Mr Chu cautioned, “This is a strategy, not the start of a trade war. As with previous China-US disputes, the initial threats are very high but will be lowered when both sides start talking.”

Chinese analysts said an escalation of tariffs was likely to cause more political trouble for Mr Trump than for the Chinese Communist party because of the differences in the two countries’ governance structures.

“American industry groups have differing views on Mr Trump’s plan of raising tariffs, which will be likely to influence the final policy,” said Zhang Yingchao, financial analyst at investment bank Everbright SHK in Beijing. “But voices in China have been unified in supporting the government’s decisions.”

The head of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers told domestic media earlier this week that carmakers in China “should not fear” a trade war. But US soyabean industry groups warned that a conflict over trade would have “devastating” effects.

“Wall Street is not happy, and this is damaging for Mr Trump at home,” added Mr Shi. “A trade war will hurt both countries, but in the US, this could hurt the Republican party in the November midterm elections. China does not have this problem.”

On Thursday, Beijing had indicated it was willing to escalate its fight with Mr Trump by opening a World Trade Organization challenge to the US’s proposed tariffs.

Additional reporting by Nicolle Liu in Hong Kong

  (Wall Street Journal)

 (The New York Times)

Taiwan Tells China: We Have Democracy, Free Speech, Independence, Term Limits and Good Human Rights — “Mainland China must face up to the reality of two separate governments — One very happy and one dedicated to intimidation”

April 4, 2018

Taipei Times

April 4, 2018

Premier William Lai (賴清德) yesterday reiterated his position on Taiwanese independence and called on China to respect freedom of speech, as Beijing ramped up its rhetoric.

Democracy signifies freedom to express one’s opinion on the direction that the country’s development should take and to advocate Taiwanese independence if they wish to, Lai said.

Free speech is valued all over the world and should therefore be protected in China as well, the premier added.

Image may contain: 1 person

Premier William Lai speaks at a forum on free speech held by the Ministry of the Interior in Taipei yesterday, ahead of Freedom of Expression Day on Saturday.Apr 04, 2018. Taipei Times photo

The latest verbal sparring was prompted by Lai’s comment on Friday at the Legislative Yuan that he was a “Taiwan independence worker” and that Taiwan is a sovereign, independent country, sparking a call by the Chinese tabloid Global Times for his prosecution under China’s 2005 “Anti-Secession” Law.

“If evidence of his crimes are cast iron, then a global wanted notice can be issued for him,” the paper, published by the Chinese Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, wrote on Saturday.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office weighed in late on Monday, saying Lai’s comments were “dangerous and presumptuous,” harming peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and that Taiwan would never be separated from China.

Lai yesterday stressed the importance of free speech at a forum organized by the Ministry of the Interior ahead of Freedom of Expression Day on Saturday.

“I absolutely am a ‘Taiwan independence worker,’” he said in Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese). “But it is out of respect for [late democracy pioneer] Deng Nan-jung (鄭南榕) that I do not say ‘I advocate Taiwanese independence.’ I am a follower, which is why I do this work.”

Lai said Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) took a cue from former president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) in abolishing presidential term limits, and the abduction of Taiwanese democracy activist Lee Ming-che (李明哲) by Chinese authorities in March last year is evidence of the current state of Chinese society.

China now is like Taiwan during the Martial Law era when the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) held a monopoly on power, he said.

Separately, the Mainland Affairs Council said the Global Times’ and Chinese government’s comments were “intimidating and irrational.”

“Taiwan is a democratic, pluralistic society,” the council said, adding that Lai had consistently followed President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) policy of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

China “has repeatedly manipulated the media and so-called ‘Internet users’ to threaten and repress Taiwan’s government and people, trying to use military blows and legal threats to violate our dignity and interests,” the council said.

“This is not what a responsible party should be doing. It will only increase cross-strait antagonism and damage relations,” it added.

“Over the past two years, our government has not ‘felt animosity toward China,’” it said.

“But mainland China must face up to the reality of the separate governments on both sides of the Taiwan Strait and respect Taiwan’s democracy and the will of its people,” the council said.

Xi’s scam will not fool democratic Taiwanese

March 30, 2018
By James Wang 王景弘

Because of their political system and disposition, Chinese love to do business that requires no capital investment — especially the most wicked scams. Beijing’s 31 “deceptions” for Taiwanese announced last month is one such trick with the purpose of defrauding Taiwan of its sovereignty.

Scams that are disguised as incentives are the easiest to deal with, but the most difficult to eliminate completely. Taiwanese enjoy democracy and freedom — as long as they open their eyes and refuse to be seduced by these incentives, the scam will fail.

However, unless we adopt former president Chiang Ching-kuo’s (蔣經國) “three-noes” policy — no contact, no negotiation and no compromise — when dealing with the Chinese Communist Party, it is inevitable that some people looking for petty advantages will be hooked.

Fraudsters are fraudsters because they do not offer honest, fair and open choices, but disguise scrap metal as gold to fool the greedy. They do not expect everyone to be deceived — as long as a few people are hooked, they will get their payoff.

“What the emperor gives, the emperor can take back,” but the tricks China is employing to annex Taiwan, from big ones down to the smallest, do not appear to be very powerful.

After Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) won the US’ recognition of “orthodox China,” he used every trick and strategy he could think of to make Chiang surrender. He made all sorts of exaggerated offers — there were even reports that he offered Chiang the first presidency of China following “reunification.”

All Beijing needed to do to annex Taiwan was to entice one man: Chiang. However, Chiang saw through its tricks and had sufficient self-control to suppress his personal greed, so his answer was: “No, no, no.”

Even with the persuasive efforts of former Singaporean prime minister Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀) and Chinese politician and “united front” expert Liao Chengzhi (廖承志), the offer was still rejected by Chiang.

Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who accepts the “one China” concept, was all talk and said that he was “selling fruit” when trying to sell out Taiwan, but he has been washed away by the younger generations who see Taiwanese independence as something natural.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), who is so eager to become emperor of China, certainly cannot be so stupid as to think that he can entice President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) into unification by offering her the position of emperor. Xi’s eunuchs therefore have to come up with a strategy to entice those who take a dimmer view of democracy.

It will be difficult for those who are accustomed to democracy to adapt to life in a birdcage without freedom of speech, academic freedom or justice. It would all end in tragedy.

It is indeed ironic that the Chinese government’s announcement of 31 “deceptions” took place at the same time that the constitutional amendment removing presidential term limits was announced. Does China’s Taiwan Affairs Office really believe it will be easier for Emperor Xi to deceive Taiwan’s younger generations?

James Wang is a media commentator.

Translated by Lin Lee-Kai