Posts Tagged ‘Communist Party’

China: Questions Raised About Liu Xiaobo’s Prison Medical Treatment

June 27, 2017

SHENYANG, China — As recently as February, Liu Xiaobo’s brother dismissed reports that the Nobel Peace laureate might be ill in prison. Then came the bombshell Monday that Liu has been diagnosed with late-stage liver cancer and released on medical parole.

A brief video has also emerged of Liu’s wife tearfully telling a friend that no treatment — surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy — would work for Liu at this point.

The news has shocked and angered Liu’s supporters and human rights advocates, who are questioning if China’s best-known political prisoner received inadequate care while incarcerated, or whether the authoritarian government deliberately allowed the 61-year-old to wither in prison.

Police cars could be seen Tuesday parked outside the hospital in the northern city of Shenyang where Liu was reportedly being treated.

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Chinese Nobel rights activist Liu Xiaobo’s cancer beyond surgery: wife

June 27, 2017

Reuters

Photos of Chinese Nobel rights activist Liu Xiaobo (L) and wife Liu Xia are left by protesters outside China’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong, China June 27, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
By Christian Shepherd | BEIJING

Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist Liu Xiaobo’s liver cancer can not be treated with surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, Liu’s wife said, as questions increased among his supporters over his treatment by the Chinese authorities.

Liu, 61, was jailed for 11 years in 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power” after he helped write a petition known as “Charter 08” calling for sweeping political reforms.

In December 2010, Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his activism in promoting human rights in China, which responded by freezing diplomatic ties with Norway. They normalized ties in December last year.

Liu is being treated in a hospital in the northern city of Shenyang for late-stage liver cancer, having been granted medical parole, his lawyer told Reuters on Monday.

A video of Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, who has been under effective house arrest since her husband won the Nobel Peace Prize, crying and talking about her husband’s condition was shared online late on Monday.

“(They) cannot perform surgery, cannot perform radiotherapy, cannot perform chemotherapy,” Liu Xia said in the video. She did not elaborate. It was not clear when the video was filmed.

A source close to the family confirmed the authenticity of the video and said Liu was being treated using targeted therapy.

“They say his cancer has already spread too far for other treatments, but because we cannot meet the doctors treating him, we have no way to tell if this is true,” he said.

Liu and his wife wanted to return to Beijing for treatment but the authorities rejected their request, the source said.

The prison bureau of Liaoning province said on Monday that Liu was being treated by eight “well-known tumour experts”, but Western politicians and rights activists have voiced concern about the quality of treatment.

‘SERIOUS QUESTIONS’

The United States called for his release.

“We call on the Chinese authorities to not only release Mr. Liu, but also to allow his wife, Ms Liu Xia, out of house arrest,” said Mary Beth Polley, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, said.

The embassy called on China to “provide them the protections and freedoms, such as freedom of movement and access to medical care of his choosing, to which they are entitled under China’s constitution and legal system, and international commitments”, she said.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, co-chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, said in a statement on Monday that despite news of Liu’s release from prison for treatment, “serious questions remain”.

“I urge President Trump to seek Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo’s immediate humanitarian transfer to the United States,” he said.

China’s foreign ministry said on Monday it did not know about the circumstances of the case. China has in the past acknowledged problems of mistreatment in the criminal justice system and has repeatedly vowed to crack down to address them.

Wang Qiaoling, the activist wife of rights lawyers Li Heping, likened Liu’s case to that of her husband and dozens of other lawyers detained in Beijing’s most recent clampdown on dissent, who say they suffer illnesses due to mistreatment.

Wang said some of those detained in the crackdown, which began on July 9, 2015, had “met with high blood pressure”.

“We suspect Mr Liu Xiaobo ‘met with liver cancer’, and call for an independent third-party medical organisation to be involved,” she said on Twitter.

In Hong Kong, about 70 supporters of Liu took to the streets to demand his immediate release, chanting slogans denouncing the Chinese government as a “murderer”.

The protesters, including prominent democracy activists Martin Lee and Joshua Wong, gathered outside Beijing’s main representative office in Hong Kong, the Central Liaison office, and plastered pictures of Liu on its gates and held up banners.

“We should not be indifferent towards such blatant unfairness,” said Wong of Liu’s plight.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-rights-idUSKBN19I0C9

(Reporting by Christian Shepherd and Michael Martina in Beijing and Venus Wu and William Ho in Hong Kong; Editing by Michael Perry, Robert Birsel)

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Vietnam defends decision to revoke dissident’s citizenship — The government has not said exactly what he is accused of

June 15, 2017

Reuters

Thu Jun 15, 2017 | 7:15am EDT

Vietnam on Thursday defended its decision to revoke the citizenship of French-Vietnamese dissident Pham Minh Hoang, a former political prisoner who is accused of breaking the law and threatening state security.

Image result for Pham Minh Hoang, vietnam, photos

The 62-year-old mathematics lecturer was told of the decision last week, drawing criticism from human rights groups. The government has not said exactly what he is accused of.

“The removal of citizenship was conducted in accordance with the provisions of Vietnamese law,” said foreign ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang.

Hoang and the French embassy in Vietnam have been informed of the decision, she said.

Reuters was not able to contact Hoang for comment. The French embassy was not immediately available for comment.

Hoang was sentenced to three years in jail for attempted subversion in 2011 but was released after 17 months and served three years under house arrest.

The decision to revoke Hoang’s citizenship was unjustified and “marks a new low for Hanoi’s treatment of political dissidents”, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said this week.

Despite sweeping reforms to the economy and growing openness to social change, the Communist Party retains tight media censorship and tolerates no criticism. Dozens of bloggers and activists are serving sentences for crimes against the state.

(Reporting by My Pham; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

China Steps Up Support for Its Currency

June 2, 2017

Investors say Beijing seeks to build confidence in economy amid concerns about a debt buildup and crackdown on loose lending

The People’s Bank of China, under Gov. Zhou Xiaochuan, has made moves to stabilize the yuan against the dollar ahead of a leadership shuffle this fall.

The People’s Bank of China, under Gov. Zhou Xiaochuan, has made moves to stabilize the yuan against the dollar ahead of a leadership shuffle this fall. PHOTO: LINTAO ZHANG/GETTY IMAGES
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Updated June 1, 2017 7:21 p.m. ET

The decision by the People’s Bank of China to sharply increase the value of the yuan against the dollar at its daily fixing Thursday surprised many investors, particularly those in the West who have long valued state-directed currency movements less for their immediate direction than for signs of the underlying policy that the central bank appears to be pursuing.

In this case, many investors said they believed China was seeking to build confidence in its economy at a time of deepening concern about the possible ripple effects from a long-running debt buildup and a state crackdown on loose lending in certain sectors. Those concerns were intensified in April, when capital outflows were estimated to have picked up after moderating in the first quarter. And last week, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded China’s sovereign-debt rating, the first such cut since 1989.

At the same time, many investors said they continued to expect that China would succeed in its efforts to manage its way out of the debt buildup without significantly reducing its growth or increasing volatility in financial markets.

On Thursday, the central bank set the dollar’s daily midpoint for trading at 6.8090 yuan, the strongest level since Nov. 10. The sharply higher “fix,” which came on top of the currency’s surge a day earlier, has helped the yuan register a 2% gain against the dollar so far this year. The central bank sets the yuan’s rate against the U.S. dollar each day in the domestic market, and the currency is allowed to trade 2% above or below that level.

The central bank’s latest move came on the heels of a flurry of actions by the central bank in recent days. Last Friday, the bank decided to tweak the mechanism for setting the yuan’s daily fix, a change that would smooth out fluctuations in the currency.

This week, the central bank was also seen to be intervening in the offshore market, mostly in Hong Kong, by jacking up the borrowing costs for the currency, essentially squeezing out trading positions betting against the yuan.

“What the PBOC is telling investors is that the [yuan] can appreciate against the U.S. dollar,” said Larry Hu, China economist at Macquarie Group Ltd.

Soaring borrowing costs for the yuan in Hong Kong have also propelled the Chinese currency higher outside of China, where it trades more freely. The overnight yuan borrowing rate hit 42.82% on Thursday, up from 21.08% on Wednesday. The offshore yuan rose as much as 0.3% from its level late Wednesday before giving up its gain. On Thursday, it was down 0.1% at 6.7500 to the dollar.

Keeping the yuan relatively stable versus the dollar is critical for Beijing at a time when the ruling Communist Party is heading into its twice-a-decade congress in which leadership shifts at the highest level are expected to occur.

Authorities have also been cracking down on excessive leverage in the financial sector, a move that has already wreaked havoc on the country’s bond market, property sector and commodities.

“What you don’t want to see is that the asset markets in China are simultaneously tanking, while at the same time there’s expectation of depreciation,” said David Loevinger, a former China specialist at the Treasury Department who now is a managing director at TCW Group. “The risk there is that the outflows will start picking up.”

China’s capital outflows moderated significantly in the first quarter, thanks to the government’s strict capital controls and an improving economy. But there are signs that money is fleeing again.

According to the Institute of International Finance, China’s net capital outflows declined to $21.6 billion in the first quarter, from $161.3 billion during the fourth quarter of 2016. However, outflows picked up in April, with the institute estimating that $20 billion left the country during the month.

The central bank’s moves “suggest that coping with capital outflows remains a key challenge for Chinese authorities,” said Emre Tiftik, an economist at the Institute of International Finance who said that April’s outflow was small relative to last year.

Some investors said the trigger for recent moves was Moody’s downgrade.

The cut raised concerns about potential further downgrades by other ratings firms, as well as lower ratings on China’s corporations. Downgrades could hamper China’s attempts to lure more global investors to its $9.7 trillion bond market. The government is counting on foreign capital to offset some of the outflows from Chinese companies and investors.

Meanwhile, the Chinese yuan has weakened considerably against other currencies, helping its exports recover and deflationary pressure ease.

The China Foreign Exchange Trade System basket is down about 12% from its peak in August 2015. That gives China some room for the yuan to appreciate against the dollar, said TCW Group’s Mr. Loevinger.

A stronger yuan could also lessen the heat on U.S.-China relations ahead of the release of a Commerce Department report and the Group of 20 summit of industrial and developing nations in July in Germany. President Donald Trump has accused China of exploiting the yuan’s value to gain advantages over its trading partners.

Some investors say the tweak to the yuan fixing is a step back from China’s efforts to move toward a more market-driven exchange-rate system. With the adjustment, the central bank is reasserting the use of a heavier hand on the currency’s value.

“It just speaks to the overall long-term economic reform adjustment that they’re in,” said Aryam Vázquez, a global macro strategist at SunTrust Advisory Services Inc. “There will be pushbacks and pauses. But at the end of the day, the Chinese are all about ensuring stability.”

Write to Carolyn Cui at carolyn.cui@wsj.com and Saumya Vaishampayan at saumya.vaishampayan@wsj.com

Appeared in the June 2, 2017, print edition as ‘China Steps Up Currency Support.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-steps-up-support-for-its-currency-1496358532

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Beijing to give Hong Kong a Makeover — “Not Brainwashing Exactly” — Declares power to ‘supervise’ Hong Kong civil servants’ allegiance — Time also to “correct” national views in Hong Kong teens

May 28, 2017

The central government seeks additional ways to scrutinise the city’s affairs, including instructing the chief executive and assessing legislation

By Stuart Lau
South China Morning Post

Saturday, May 27, 2017, 11:28pm

Beijing has made the unprecedented move to declare its power to “supervise” Hong Kong officials based on their allegiance to the country’s sovereignty, prompting pan-democrats and civil servants to question such a standard.

Zhang Dejiang, one of the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee, said at the Great Hall of the People on Saturday that Beijing would invoke a number of “implicit powers” – which have so far not been paid close attention to during the first 20 years of the city’s handover.

“It should be stressed that [Hong Kong’s] governing teams… must be made up of patriots who respect the Chinese people, sincerely support [China’s] resumption of sovereignty and pose no threat to [Hong Kong’s] prosperity and stability,” he said, referencing late leader Deng Xiaoping.

 Chief Executive, Leung Chun-ying at the forum on the 20th Anniversary of the Implementation of the Basic Law of Hong Kong. Photo: ISD

“The central government is responsible for supervising whether [Hong Kong’s] public officers uphold the Basic Law, and whether they pledge allegiance to the country and [Hong Kong].”

His 50-minute speech came just weeks ahead of the 20th anniversary of the city’s handover.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying declined to say whether Zhang’s new order compromised the political neutrality of the city’s civil servants.

“Hong Kong’s civil servants being politically neutral has been our practice,” said veteran China commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu. “Now, Beijing demands them to be loyal to the regime.”

Leung Chau-ting, head of the Federation of Civil Service Unions, said he was concerned about Zhang’s suggestion that understanding of the Basic Law could carry weight when civil servants’ jobs are assessed.

“The focus should always be professionalism and the willingness to serve the public,” he said.

“It is not our daily work to explain the Basic Law to fellow Hongkongers.”

Zhang also called for a closer look at other powers that the central government could use to scrutinise the city’s affairs, including that of instructing the chief executive and assessing legislation reported by the Legislative Council.

The power to assess legislation has so far been considered a ceremonial power as the National People’s Congress has never objected to any reported laws.

Zhang also urged academics to devote time to study the Basic Law and instil the “correct” national views in Hong Kong teens.

Veteran democrat Martin Lee Chu-ming, who helped draft the Basic Law in the late 1980s, said Zhang’s remarks regarding the “supervisory” role over Hong Kong officials, were not in the Basic Law and they could even deter talent from important roles.

“It is a completely different picture to what was depicted by Deng Xiaoping… also the Sino–British Joint Declaration and Basic Law,” he said.

“Good lawyers would not dare to be judges then…You have to become a puppet [of Beijing] and probably face against the public of Hong Kong,” he said.

Philippines: Peace talks with communist rebels break down

May 27, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File / by Jan Hennop with Mynardo Macaraig in Manila | Members and supporters of the communist party of the Philippines’ armed group, the New People’s Army (NPA) march toward the peace arch for a protest near Malacanang Palace in Manila on March 31, 2017

NOORDWIJK AAN ZEE (NETHERLANDS) (AFP) – Peace talks between the Philippine government and communist insurgents broke down on Saturday after a dispute over the rebels’ ordering their fighters to step up attacks.

But communist negotiators remained hopeful that the discussions being held at a seaside resort town in the Netherlands would continue, despite the suspension announced by government negotiators.

The two sides had just opened formal talks when chief government negotiator Jesus Dureza objected to the communists’ telling guerillas to intensify attacks in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in parts of the country.

“The government panel is now left without any other recourse but to announce… that it will not proceed to participate in the fifth round of peace negotiations,” he said.

He added that talks would not resume until there were indications of an “environment conducive to achieving just and sustainable peace”.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law over the southern third of the country on Tuesday to quell fighting with pro-Islamic State militants in a southern city.

Communists insurgents, who are active in wide areas of the archipelago, including the south, responded to his declaration by ordering their forces to “carry out more tactical offensives”.

But communist alliance negotiators blamed government officials, saying their statement resulted from government officials announcing that New People’s Army fighters would also be targeted in Manila’s crackdown on Islamic extremists.

Senior rebel negotiator Luis Jalandoni said that despite the government’s ultimatum, the guerrillas’ attacks would continue.

Government negotiator Silvestre Bello said the rebel panel had originally asked for a 10-minute recess to discuss the government’s threat but refused to return to the table afterwards.

– ‘Talks not closed’ –

But chief rebel negotiator Fidel Agcaoili told journalists he was hopeful the talks could resume, despite the government’s suspension.

“The talks are not closed,” Agcaoili said.

“Of course we intend to sit down again, the two panels, and then perhaps find some constructive solution between the two of us to continue the fifth round of talks.”

If a solution could be reached, the talks “could resume tomorrow,” said Agcaoili, chief negotiator for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, a coalition of several groups, of which the Communist Party of the Philippines is among the most prominent.

The CPP’s armed wing is the 4,000-member NPA guerilla unit.

The communist insurgency in the poverty-stricken Asian country which began in 1968 is one of the longest running in the world. It has claimed an estimated 30,000 lives, according to the military.

Peace talks have been conducted on and off for 30 years, and were revived after Duterte, a self-declared socialist, was elected president last year.

Norway had coaxed the two sides back to the negotiating table in August, but little progress has been made since then.

The talks were moved to Noordwijk aan Zee, about 70 kilometres (45 miles) from Utrecht, where several of the rebel leaders live in exile.

The fiery Duterte has also taken strong positions against the rebels, imposing conditions including that the guerrillas stop extortion and arson activities.

Duterte angrily called off the peace talks in February after the collapse of unilateral ceasefires that saw guerrillas killing several soldiers and police in a series of attacks.

NPA guerrillas continue to attack isolated military and police outposts and extort money from businesses to finance their armed campaign, the military said.

by Jan Hennop with Mynardo Macaraig in Manila

Philippine Communist insurgency rocked by Martial Law order because of Islamist attacks — Communists tell forces to “plan and carry out more tactical offensives across the Philippines.”

May 25, 2017

Members of the Philippine Army mans a checkpoint at Pantar, Lanao Del Norte as residents of Marawi City begin to evacuate for the fear of getting caught in the crossfire, May 24 , 2017. (Mark Balmores / MANILA BULLETIN)

Members of the Philippine Army mans a checkpoint at Pantar, Lanao Del Norte as residents of Marawi City begin to evacuate for the fear of getting caught in the crossfire. (Mark Balmores / MANILA BULLETIN File Photo)

Martial law order puts a strain on GRP, NDFP talks

Updated May 25, 2017, 7:14 AM

With nerves frayed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao, the Philippine Government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), representing a 49-year-old Communist insurgency, return to the negotiation table Saturday for the fifth round of formal peace talks in Noordwijk Ann-see, The Netherlands.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza averred that since there is no standing ceasefire agreement between the government and the Communists, which include the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA), any insurgent under their command who would be out to do no good would be subject to the “full force of the military rule as per the order of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.”

RARE INTERVIEW – The Manila Bulletin’s interview with CPP Founding Chairman Jose Maria Sison last May 8 through Skype from his residence in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

“We do not have any ceasefire agreement with them, so anybody who would disrupt the peace will subject themselves to the martial law put in effect by the military on orders of the military,” Dureza said in an interview with The Manila Bulletin Tuesday.

But the CPP remained defiant as it ordered its forces on-the-ground to “plan and carry out more tactical offensives across the Philippines.”

“By declaring martial law in Mindanao, Duterte has gone beyond the threats and theatrics of the past months,” the Party said in a statement published on philippinerevolution.info Wednesday.

Dureza said the NDFP could learn well from the stand-down attitude that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) have taken even while the Marawi siege by the terrorist Maute Group was going on.

“We have peace mechanism with the Moro groups that promote peace in the area. These mechanisms will address that all those who would disrupt peace will be addressed by the full force of martial law,” he said.

But with regards the Communists, Dureza said he could not “speculate until things settle down.”

GRP Peace Panel Chairman Silvestre Bello III told The Manila Bulletin that he hoped that the martial law declaration in Mindanao will be “seen by the NDFP with urgency (so as to) fast-track the peace process.” He did not elaborate.

GRP Peace Panel Member Hernani Braganza that the President’s declaration “will not, in any way, derail the peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF.”

But the Communist movement appears to have taken the opportunity to further their revolutionary ideals with Duterte’s declaration of martial rule in Mindanao.

“The necessity of waging revolutionary armed struggle becomes ever clearer. Thus, the New People’s Army (NPA) must be ready to accelerate the recruitment of new Red fighters as Duterte’s martial law convinces more and more people to take up arms against the rotten system,” the CPP statement read.

The CPP also urged “the Filipino people to oppose placing Mindanao under military rule and demand for its immediate lifting on account of human rights abuses committed against the civilians during the nine-year military rule, from 1972 to 1981, under the term of late strongman President Ferdinand Marcos.”

Fortunately, neither the GRP and the NDFP have ruffled each other’s feathers enough to boycott the fifth round of the peace talks.

The Communist side said the imposition of martial law and the worsening human rights abuses will be taken up in the fifth round of talks as violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) in the talks that will transpire May 27 to June 1.

Dureza likewise addressed doubts that the NDFP negotiators lack the clout and ascendancy to enforce whatever will be agreed upon in the talks when he said that: “There is no question about that. We will no longer go there if they could not bind their team over there.”

“Ang sabi naman nila, it is not they, who decide, it’s the local boys who decide. So we assume that whatever engagement they have with us, they have the clearance of their supposed local leaders,” Dureza said.

He added that the GRP peace panel was still confident that the agreements reached at the peace talks “should be respected by those, who (the NDFP Peace Panel) say are their bosses on the ground.”

Not a few eyebrows were raised when CPP founding chairman and current NDFP Senior Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison admitted to The Manila Bulletin in an exclusive interview from Utrecht, The Netherlands last May 8 that NDFP negotiators who have been dealing with the GRP do not have any control over ground forces, particularly the NPA, which has been advocating a violent takeover of government for the past 49 years.

“The collective leading organs of the CPP, NPA, NDFP, which are based in the Philippines, are the principal of the NDFP Negotiating Panel. They give orders and instructions to the NDFP Negotiating Panel,” Sison said.

And this was confirmed by no less than Duterte, himself, last week when Communist leaders he met with likewise admitted losing control over their cadres on the ground.

“Nag admit sila sa akin sa Malacañang na hindi nila kontrolado lahat ng operating units ng NPA dito. Sorry na lang, patuloy natin. Gawin ko yung five-year term ko, then alis na ko. But that conflict will continue, and that will continue to punish kasi sige lang tayo sa patayan, parehas lang naman tayo mga Pilipino (They admitted to me in Malacanang that they cannot control all the operating units of the NPA here. We’re just too sorry, but we have to continue…we will just go on killing each other when both our sides are Filipinos),” Duterte said.

Duterte reportedly met with the couple Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, Communist movement stalwarts who are now with the NDFP peace panel as panel member and head of the committee on the cessation of hostilities and disposition of firearms, respectively. Reportedly with them was NDFP peace panel chairman Fidel Agcaoili.

And given that admission by the NDFP negotiators, Duterte was all riled up when he warned NPA commanders that he “will not sign anything,” with regard the peace talks if they continue to attack government troops.
“Do not kill my soldiers. Alam kong madami tayong NPA na nakikinig dyan (I know that there many NPAs listening). Hindi tayo nagkakalayo sa hangarin natin, pero (We do not differ in our aspirations, but) if we don’t stop killing people, hindi din ako (nor will I stop), Duterte said.

Sison’s statement also got Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana asking what is the use talking of peace with the NDFP peace panel if it cannot exercise control over combatants on the ground.

“What is the sense in talking to them (NDFP) if they cannot control the NPA?” Lorenzana asked.

But both the GRP and NDFP peace panels are not likely to be bogged down by the uncertain and seemingly tenuous status of the talks.
For one, they are expected to unfold the gains made on negotiations made during face-to-face talks in the Philippines the past five weeks with regard the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms or CASER, which is regarded the backbone of the peace negotiations.

Among these gains will be the agreement for free distribution of land to over one million farmers nationwide.

The GRP peace panel has even said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has given its commitment to protect these farmers when they eventually take over the lands that will be given to them.

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http://news.mb.com.ph/2017/05/25/frayed-nerves/

China: Human Rights Lawyers’ and Activists’ Wives Open “New Front” of Resistance — “We need to stand up against torture”

May 21, 2017

On Thursday, May 18, 2017, the wives of five Chinese and one Taiwanese current or recent political detainees testified to a U.S. congressional committee on their husbands’ cases and, in several cases, alleged torture. The six included Chen Guiqiu, wife of recently prosecuted lawyer ; Jin Bianling, wife of lawyer Jiang Tianyong; Wang Yanfeng, wife of imprisoned lawyer and activist ; and Lee Ching-yu, wife of detained Taiwanese activist .

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In addition to the four who attended in person, Wang Qiaoling, wife of lawyer , and Li Wenzu, wife of lawyer , appeared on video.

Image result for Wang Quanzhang

Lawyer Wang Quanzhang

The New York Times’ Chris Buckley and Didi Kirsten Tatlow report on the wives’ emergence as a voice of resistance in response to collective punishments such as evictions, blocked school enrollment, pressure through other family members, “stifling” surveillance, and travel restrictions:

Before her husband disappeared into detention, Chen Guiqiu did not ask him much about his risky work as a Chinese human rights lawyer. Before word crept out that he had been tortured, Ms. Chen trusted the police. Before she was told she could not leave China, she never expected she would make a perilous escape abroad.

[…] After their loved ones disappeared in the wave of arrests, some family members, especially the wives of the detained , overcame their fear and fought back, often in a theatrical fashion. They used online appeals and visits to jails, prosecutors and courts. They gathered in bright red clothes and with red buckets to publicize their demands for information and access to the prisoners.

[…] Chinese state investigators have long applied pressure on detainees’ families to win cooperation and confessions. [See examples via CDT.] But this time their tactics seemed more systematic, said Wang Qiaoling, the wife of a detained lawyer, Li Heping. Mr. Li was recently released after being tried and receiving a suspended prison sentence.

“They can treat you like hand-pulled noodles, squeeze you into any shape,” Ms. Wang, 45, said in an interview. “If you’re isolated and scared, it’s hard to resist.” [Source]

The Guardian’s Tom Phillips detailed the wives’ accounts and appeals for American support. Doubts have mounted about the Trump administration’s commitment to human rights. American assistance in Chen Guiqiu’s recent escape has been seen as encouraging, but the U.S. citizenship of one of her daughters makes it an unusual case, which also predates Trump’s marked softening toward China following Xi Jinping’s state visit in April.

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Li Wenzu, 31, wife of imprisoned lawyer Wang Quanzhang poses for a portrait with their son Wang Guangwei, 3. Photograph: Adam Dean for the Guardian

Terry Halliday, the author of a book about China’s human , said the lawyers’ wives had opened up “a new line of struggle that we have not seen before in China”.

“These women have become a very powerful and visible public presence both of criticism of the government, of appeals for the release of their loved-ones but also impugning China in the eyes of the world. It is remarkable.”

“It’s a whole new front,” Halliday added. “It is not so easy for the government to silence wives and daughters.”

Thursday’s hearing was part of a push by human rights groups to convince the Trump administration to use a law called the Magnitsky Act to bring sanctions such as travel bans or property seizures against Chinese officials involved in human rights abuses.

“We should be seeking to hold accountable any Chinese officials complicit in , human rights abuses and illegal detentions,” said Chris Smith, the Republican congressman who chaired the session and said he was compiling a list of potential targets. [Source]

Ahead of the hearing, Changsha police released video to challenge claims that Jiang Tianyong had been tortured to the point that he could no longer stand. Reuters’ Christian Shepherd reports on the release and Jiang’s wife’s lingering fears:

His wife, Jin Bianling, who is in the , said on Twitter on May 11 that an “unnamed individual within the Changsha system” told her Jiang had been tortured.

[…] Changsha police released a video on their social media account showing Jiang walking up and down a corridor of what appeared to be an apartment building in shorts and sandals.

Jiang’s rights had been fully protected while he was detained, and “doctors had been specially arranged to inspect and treat an old leg wound”, the police said in the post.

They said the video was taken on Wednesday afternoon.

[…] Jin told Reuters she was very suspicious of the video, saying it was a set-up shot and that his leg looked discolored and “gray”.

“If they want to prove that he has not been tortured, the should let his lawyers visit and fully examine him,” she said. “As it is, we still don’t even know where he is.” [Source]

More, from Catherine Lai at Hong Kong Free Press:

Patrick Poon, researcher at Amnesty International, told HKFP that the post may be related to Jin’s scheduled testimony, and raised doubts about the authorities’ version of events.

“The video actually cannot prove that he was not tortured as it’s unclear when it was taken. It’s only a single-sided story. The best way to show that he’s not tortured is to ensure that he has regular access to a lawyer of his own choice and access to his family,” he said.

“The UN Committee Against Torture noted in its Concluding Observation on China’s 5th periodic review that regular access to a lawyer is an important element to ensure that the detained person is not subjected to torture,” Poon added. [Source]

Meanwhile, South China Morning Post’s Choi Chi-yuk and Eva Li report a new move to consolidate political control over China’s legal profession, a long-running campaign whose other recent components include the prioritisation of political over professional factors in a new ranking system for lawyers.

The northern Chinese city of Tianjin is set to become a new front in the ’s war for ideological control, with political commissars to be installed in lawyers associations in the megacity this week.

[…] While it is still unclear whether other cities will follow suit, Tianjin has been playing a pilot role in political developments for rest of the country since Li Hongzhong became its party boss in September 2016. Li has been one of the most vocal advocates of “absolute loyalty” to President Xi Jinping.

Tianjin’s move was in line with the nationwide development of enhanced party control over non-governmental organisations and social groups.

[…] Lawyers associations in China advise justice departments on approval and renewal of each lawyer’s licence to practise from year to year. [Source]

http://chinadigitaltimes.net/2017/05/lawyers-activists-wives-open-new-front-resistance/

China factory output slows in April as credit tightens

May 15, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File / by Allison JACKSON | China’s crucial manufacturing sector is struggling in the face of weaker global demand and excess industrial capacity left over from a debt-fuelled infrastructure boom

BEIJING (AFP) – 

China’s factories and workshops saw their output slow sharply in April, data showed Monday, as the world’s second-largest economy grapples with tighter credit and weaker demand.

The data comes as China hosts an international summit showcasing its Silk Road plan, an ambitious infrastructure project it hopes will revive ancient trading routes and breathe life into its sputtering economy.

Industrial production rose 6.5 percent from a year ago, the National Bureau of Statistics said, compared with 7.6 percent in March and forecasts of 7.0 percent in a survey by Bloomberg News.

Other figures also disappointed. April retail sales rose 10.7 percent year-on-year, below the previous month’s reading and estimates of 10.8 percent.

Fixed-asset investment excluding rural areas — a gauge of spending on real estate, roads and bridges — rose 8.9 percent in the first four months of the year, compared with 9.2 percent in January-March.

“All the data sends the same message: The economy slowed down meaningfully in April,” Larry Hu, head of China economics at Macquarie Securities in Hong Kong, told Bloomberg News.

“But given that growth is still fine, in the second quarter policymakers will still focus on reducing financial risk.”

China’s One Belt, One Road initiative — a massive network of ports, railways, roads and industrial parks in Asia, Europe and Africa hailed by President Xi Jinping as “a project of the century” — could provide fresh impetus for growth in the Asian giant.

In recent years China has been transitioning from an investment-driven economic model to one more reliant on consumer spending, but it has been a bumpy ride.

– Debt worries –

The crucial manufacturing sector is struggling in the face of weaker global demand and excess industrial capacity left over from a debt-fuelled infrastructure boom.

Years of unregulated and risky lending has also raised fears of a looming debt crisis that the International Monetary Fund has warned could “imperil global financial stability”.

The banking regulator recently unveiled measures to rein in dangerous lending and strengthening institutional transparency and chronically weak internal controls.

But analysts have expressed scepticism about Beijing’s willingness to quit its debt addiction cold turkey given freewheeling credit has underpinned the growth China’s Communist Party relies on for political legitimacy.

ANZ researchers said China appeared to be returning “to an investment-driven growth strategy” with projects such as One Belt, One Road providing a strong infrastructure pipeline.

In the first three months of the year China expanded a better-than-expected 6.9 percent, raising hopes the economy was stabilising after the 2016 growth rate of 6.7 percent, which was the slowest in a quarter of a century.

Still, analysts expect further deceleration this year and the government unveiled in March a trimmed 2017 growth target of “around 6.5 percent”.

“Slowing domestic consumption growth and softer external demand appear to have driven the slowdown in China at the start of the second quarter,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard from Capital Economics.

The strength in infrastructure and property investment last month were not sustainable “given that policy is being tightened and the property market is starting to cool”.

by Allison JACKSON