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German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas calls for China transparency over Uighur Muslims

Despite warnings from China that Germany should not interfere in its internal affairs, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called on Beijing to be transparent about the human rights conflict surrounding the Uighur Muslims. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas began his visit to China on Monday by calling for more transparency from the Chinese government regarding the human rights conflict surrounding reports about the mass detention of a million Uighur Muslims. UN experts have said there are credible reports that as many as a million Uighurs, ethnically Turkic Muslims which reside in western China, have been interned in camps in the last year. "We cannot accept re-education camps," Maas said after meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Beijing, adding that more information was needed to assess the situation. On Monday, Maas said his talks with Vice Premier Liu were "free of controversy" and that all sides had an interest in matters being ransparent. When asked if human rights organizations should enter the camps, the German minister said: "At first, it is of secondary importance who ensures transparency." Bundestag condemnation Last Thursday, members of Germany's Bundestag condemned the Chinese government for its treatment of the Uighur population, accusing Beijing of violating human rights. In a motion, the Greens party called on the German government to demand that Beijing grant independent observers and journalists access to the Xinjiang region. The discussion in the Bundestag prompted a fierce response from China. The Chinese Embassy in Berlin said that Beijing was "extremely dissatisfied" and accused the Bundestag of "blatant interference in internal affairs and a gross violation of China's sovereignty." Bundestag condemnation Last Thursday, members of Germany's Bundestag condemned the Chinese government for its treatment of the Uighur population, accusing Beijing of violating human rights. In a motion, the Greens party called on the German government to demand that Beijing grant independent observers and journalists access to the Xinjiang region. The discussion in the Bundestag prompted a fierce response from China. The Chinese Embassy in Berlin said that Beijing was "extremely dissatisfied" and accused the Bundestag of "blatant interference in internal affairs and a gross violation of China's sovereignty." Xinjiang belongs to the territory of the People's Republic of China, and issues concerning Xinjiang fall within China's jurisdictions and internal affairs," a statement published last Friday by the Embassy read. China has said the camps are "training centers" to equip people with employable skill to help combat Islamist extremism in the still bloodied Xinjiang province. However, rights activists say the centers are political indoctrination camps where Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities are taught Communist propaganda and forced to renounce their religion. Two-day visit The minister also said that issues relating to arms control and disarmament should be the subject of multilateral agreements, especially in the case of new weapons systems. "We want to talk to China about this," the ministry said via Twitter: Germany wants to expand bilateral consultations between Germany and China, on cooperation at the UN among other issues. Before he left Germany, Maas had said "China is more than just our most important trading partner in Asia," and needed a strong relationship to tacle issues such as security and climate change. Maas also stressed that Berlin and Beijing had a common interest in ending trade disputes. China was Germany's most important trade partner in 2017 with a trade volume of over €186 billion ($209 billion). The minister was also to meet with economy officials and with Yang Jiechi, the director of China's foreign affairs office, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi as part of his two-day visit.

Despite warnings from China that Germany should not interfere in its internal affairs, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called on Beijing to be transparent about the human rights conflict surrounding the Uighur Muslims. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas began his visit to China on Monday by calling for more transparency from the Chinese government regarding the human rights conflict surrounding reports ... Read More »

China, Japan willing to mend ties amid Trump challenge

China's ongoing trade spate with the US has dominated Japan PM Shinzo Abe's visit to the country. The first Sino-Japanese summit since 2011 could further thaw relations between Asia's two biggest economies. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday that Japan and China have a duty to ensure regional security. On his first bilateral visit to China, Abe added that the two countries need to normalize ties and work together on the North Korea issue. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang welcomed Abe at Beijing's Tiananmen Square. In a veiled reference to US President Donald Trump's "America First" protectionism policies, he stressed that both nations recognize free trade should be safeguarded. Abe's trip China comes at a time when Beijing is locked in a trade dispute with the US, with both countries imposing reciprocal tariffs. President Trump has also targeted Japanese exports in his effort to reduce US trade deficit. "The visit is certainly a historic turning point. The ties between the two countries deteriorated in the past few years, with Japan wary of China's assertive policies. On the other hand, Beijing is unhappy that Abe refuses to address Japan's wartime past," said Mathias Boelinger, DW's correspondent in Beijing, adding that both sides have to show flexibility to improve relations. "Trump is not the only reason, but he is certainly a major reason behind China's interest in mending ties with Japan. China fears the US is trying to isolate it," he added. Reseting economic ties Later on Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Abe are expected to discuss how to boost economic ties between the world's second and third largest economies. China is Japan's biggest trading partner and many Japanese companies have invested large sums in the country. Delegates from 500 Japanese firms are visiting China along with Abe. While Japan is eager to access China's massive market, China is interested in Japan's technology and corporate expertise. Ties between China and Japan have taken a positive turn over the past several months. This was evident during the recent meeting between Xi and Abe at a September summit in Russia's far-eastern city of Vladivostok. "Though the US is quite an influential factor in China-Japan ties, the effect is limited," China's Global Times newspaper said in an editorial. "If Beijing and Tokyo intend to plan their future bilateral relationship based on Washington's attitude, they will only get lost," the state-run daily said. In the past, Japan had aimed to limit Chinese growing political and military clout in Asia. Beijing and Tokyo have unresolved territorial disputes involving a group of uninhabited islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. They are currently administered by Tokyo, but Beijing claims sovereignty over them. North Korea conflict Before heading to Beijing, the Japanese prime minster said he would discuss the North Korean issue with President Xi. While Japan wants complete denuclearization of North Korea, China remains the biggest backer of the Kim Jong Un regime in the region. Read more: North Korea's Kim Jong Un visits China in first foreign trip: reports Abe told media on Friday that his country is committed to normalizing ties with North Korea, but several issues, including North Korea's kidnapping of Japanese citizens, must be resolved first.

China’s ongoing trade spate with the US has dominated Japan PM Shinzo Abe’s visit to the country. The first Sino-Japanese summit since 2011 could further thaw relations between Asia’s two biggest economies. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday that Japan and China have a duty to ensure regional security. On his first bilateral visit to China, Abe added that ... Read More »

Taiwan’s independence rally draws thousands, irks China

The first large-scale pro-independence rally in a generation has brought thousands of people onto the streets of Taipei. China has recently strengthened its determination to bring the self-ruled island under its control. Several thousand pro-independence activists have rallied in Taiwan's capital, Taipei, to push the Taiwanese government to hold a referendum on whether to declare independence from China. Organizers claimed more than 100,000 people turned out for the march against Beijing's increasing hostility toward the self-ruled island. Some carried placards bearing the message: “No more bullying; no more annexation." The demonstration was organized by a new political outfit, the Formosa Alliance, which is backed by two pro-independence former Taiwanese presidents, Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian, as well as leaders of several other smaller political parties. Read more: Will China-Vatican deal have a diplomatic domino effect for Taiwan? Independence activist George Kuo founded the alliance in February 2018 to pressure the government to amend the island's Referendum Act and initiate the process for organizing a public referendum on independence from China. "In order to help Taiwan be recognized as a sovereign state internationally, our government needs to amend the Referendum Act to allow the Taiwanese people to express their desire to achieve Taiwanese independence through votes," Kuo told DW, ahead of the rally. Maintaining the status quo China sees self-ruling democratic Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunified, despite the two sides being ruled separately since the end of a civil war on the mainland in 1949. Taiwan views itself as a sovereign state, with its own currency, political and judicial systems, but has never declared formal independence from the mainland. Beijing has warned it would respond with force if Taiwan tried an official split. China also demands its international allies forfeit diplomatic recognition of the island. Furthermore, China's growing international political and economic clout in recent years have allowed Beijing to curtail Taiwanese presence on the international stage, by blocking it from global forums and poaching its dwindling number of diplomatic partners. Taiwan's currently ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is traditionally independence-leaning, but President Tsai Ing-wen has said she wants to maintain the status quo with China. Tsai's measured approach has alienated some pro-independence supporters of her party. This hasn't prevented relations between Beijing and Taipei from further deteriorating since Tsai took office in 2016, as she has refused to adhere to Beijing's line that Taiwan is part of "one China." Read more: US to sell Taiwan military gear worth $330 million Kuo argued that the pro-independence rally gave the Taiwanese people the opportunity to come out and show to China that they disapprove of Beijing's "barbaric way of intimidating Taiwan and its people." Chinese authorities, meanwhile, have said the Formosa Alliance should not go down what they called a "dangerous path." Electoral considerations? Saturday's protest took place at a sensitive time in Taiwan, ahead of local elections in November. Even though the Formosa Alliance denied that its decision to organize the demonstration was influenced by electoral considerations, some analysts believe otherwise. Kharis Templeman, an expert on Taiwanese democracy and security at Stanford University, pointed out that Tsai and the DPP are struggling domestically, and, therefore, it's understandable that these pro-independence activists are now coming to their rescue. "It makes sense for independence activists to hold events now to rally support for their cause, as the DPP is in danger of getting trounced in the local elections," Templeman told DW. Read more: Is Taiwan's tourism industry too reliant on China? A high-risk gambit A vote on independence in Taiwan would require an amendment to current laws, which bar referendums on changing the constitution or sovereign territory. Many believe Tsai would be unlikely to allow such an amendment due to fears that it would enrage Beijing. "Acknowledgement of Taiwan's existing de facto independence is high, but because of the risks involved in pursuing de jure independence, the mainstream position in Taiwan is to support the status quo," Jonathan Sullivan, director of China programs at Nottingham University, told DW. According to local media reports, the DPP prohibited its officials and candidates from attending Saturday's protest, which was held outside the party headquarters. But some independence activists say this is the right time to press forward, given the DPP holds the presidency as well a parliamentary majority for the first time. Yi-Chih Chen, the chairperson of the pro-independence Taiwan Radical Wings, argues that the key for Taiwan to achieve independence is for the government to turn the Taiwanese people's collective will into a parameter that Western allies have to take into account when dealing with China. "President Tsai's government should tell the US that there is a consensus among the Taiwanese people that Taiwan should become independent, and it is not purely DPP's political agenda," Chen told DW.

The first large-scale pro-independence rally in a generation has brought thousands of people onto the streets of Taipei. China has recently strengthened its determination to bring the self-ruled island under its control. Several thousand pro-independence activists have rallied in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, to push the Taiwanese government to hold a referendum on whether to declare independence from China. Organizers claimed ... Read More »

Donald Trump moves to leave postal union in latest jab at China

A 144-year-old postal treaty has become the latest battleground in the Trump administration's escalating trade war with China. Washington claims the UN treaty benefits China and other countries at the expense of the US. President Donald Trump is preparing to withdraw the United States from the Universal Postal Union (UPU) over accusations that the treaty disadvantages the US, White House officials said on Wednesday. The UPU is a 144-year-old United Nations treaty that coordinates international postal policies. Part of the treaty also allows China and other countries to ship packages to the US at lowered rates. Two senior White House officials, who spoke under condition of anonymity, informed reporters that Trump hopes to renegotiate the treaty even as it begins to withdraw from the postal union. They argued that the treaty allows foreign postal services, especially in China but also in Germany, to take advantage of cheap shipments to the US. Officials said it is cheaper to ship certain packages to the US from abroad than it is to send them domestically. "People are getting hurt in this country by an unfair system," one of the officials told reporters on a conference call. Targeting China The administration officials also said that the treaty is causing the US Postal Service to lose $300 million (€260 million) a year and said people smuggling the narcotic fentanyl use the treaty to cheaply ship the drug from China to the US. Under the current UPU agreement, foreign merchants are able to ship small packages weighing 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) or less at a discounted rate to the US. The Trump administration hopes to renegotiate treaty to allow the US to set its own rates for such packages to cover the cost of delivery. Officials stressed that the goal is not to leave the UPU, even as they announced Trump's intention to withdraw from the treaty. The National Association of Manufacturers supported Trump's move, calling the UPU "outdated" in the age of e-commerce. "Manufacturers and manufacturing workers in the United States will greatly benefit from a modernized and far more fair arrangement with China," Jay Timmons, the president of the association, said in a statement. Wednesday's announcement is the latest move by the Trump administration to remove the United States from multi-lateral organizations and agreements that it believes disadvantage the country. Washington is already embroiled in a trade war with Beijing. In recent weeks, the US has imposed tariffs on around $250 billion-wroth of Chinese products while Beijing responded by targeting $110 billion in US goods.

A 144-year-old postal treaty has become the latest battleground in the Trump administration’s escalating trade war with China. Washington claims the UN treaty benefits China and other countries at the expense of the US. President Donald Trump is preparing to withdraw the United States from the Universal Postal Union (UPU) over accusations that the treaty disadvantages the US, White House ... Read More »

China’s Xinjiang region legalizes Muslim internment camps

China's regional government in Xinjiang has amended its laws to effectively legalize internment camps targeting Muslim minorities. Some 1 million Muslims are currently thought to be held in such centers. Chinese authorities in the far-northwestern region of Xinjiang on Wednesday revised legislation to permit the use of "education and training centers" to combat religious extremism. In practice, the centers are internment camps in which as many as 1 million minority Muslims have been placed in the past 12 months, according to rights groups and NGO reports. The amended legislation states that Chinese regional governments "can set up vocational education and training centers ... to educate and transform those who have been influenced by extremism." However, besides teaching the Mandarin language and providing vocational skills, the new clause directs centers to provide "ideological education, psychological rehabilitation and behavior correction." Beijing denies that the centers serve as internment camps but has admitted that even petty criminals have been sent to such centers. Former detainees have told rights group that they were forced to denounce Islam and made to profess their loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party. "It's a retrospective justification for the mass detainment of Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang," James Leibold, a scholar of Chinese ethnic policies at Melbourne's La Trobe University, told the AP news agency "It's a new form of re-education that's unprecedented and doesn't really have a legal basis, and I see them scrambling to try to create a legal basis for this policy." Members of the Uighur, Kazakh and other Muslim minorities who live abroad have indicated they have been unable to contact their relatives in China. The Chinese government has for decades tried to suppress pro-independence movements among Xinjiang's Muslim community, spurred largely out of frustration over the influx of migrants of migrants from China's Han majority. Chinese authorities say that extremists in the region have ties to terror groups, but have given little evidence to support that claim. The latest legislation comes after the regional government launched a crackdown on halal products and banned the wearing of veils. China faces international condemnation over camps Following the Xinjiang region's law change, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers proposed legislation on Wednesday urging President Donald Trump to condemn the "gross violations" of human rights in the northwestern Chinese region. The proposal put forward by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China calls on Trump to press his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to immediately shut down what they described as "political re-education camps." It also proposes imposing sanctions against Xinjiang's Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo under the Magnitsky Act, which would prevent him from entering the US and freeze any assets he has in US banks. Read more: China's Xinjiang Muslims 'require DNA samples' for travel documents "China's authoritarianism at home directly threatens our freedoms as well as our most deeply held values and national interests," Florida Senator Marco Rubio and New Jersey Representative Chris Smith, both Republicans, said in a joint statement. The European Union's top foreign policy official Federica Mogherini expressed similar concerns last week. The proposed measures by US lawmakers come as tensions between Washington and Beijing continue to escalate over tariff disputes and American complaints over China's technology policy.

China’s regional government in Xinjiang has amended its laws to effectively legalize internment camps targeting Muslim minorities. Some 1 million Muslims are currently thought to be held in such centers. Chinese authorities in the far-northwestern region of Xinjiang on Wednesday revised legislation to permit the use of “education and training centers” to combat religious extremism. In practice, the centers are ... Read More »

US indicts Chinese spy for trying to steal aviation trade secrets

The US Justice Department said on Wednesday it had detained a Chinese spy on charges of state-sponsored economic espionage, after he allegedly attempted to steal trade secrets from several American aviation and aerospace companies. Yanjun Xu, an intelligence officer for China's Ministry of State Security, is accused of running a five-year operation in which he would woo employees from major US aerospace firms and persuade them to travel to China under the guise that they would give a presentation at a university. Court papers documented how Xu and other intelligence operatives would then plan to illicitly obtain "highly sensitive information" from their expert guests. In one instance, Xu recruited an employee at GE Aviation, who sent him a presentation containing the company's proprietary information. Xu then continued to follow up by asking the employee for more specific technical information and even proposed setting up a meeting in Europe. GE Aviation is a Cincinnati-based division of US industrial conglomerate General Electric, which regularly works under Defense Department contracts. The company said it had been cooperating with the FBI for several months on the matter. "The impact to GE Aviation is minimal thanks to early detection, our advanced digital systems and internal processes, and our partnership with the FBI," GE Aviation spokesman Perry Bradley said. According to court documents, Xu is also suspected of targeting another unnamed described as "one of the world's largest aerospace firms, and a leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems," and a third as a leader in unmanned aerial vehicle technology. Unprecedented extradition Xu was detained in Belgium in April on a US arrest warrant. Following several failed appeals, he was handed over to American authorities on Tuesday in what was an unprecedented extradition of a Chinese intelligence official to the US from another country. The announcement will almost certainly heighten tensions between Washington and Beijing over trade tensions, hacking and corporate espionage. Read more: China's tech firms hit by spy chips row Bill Priestap, the FBI's assistant director for counterintelligence, said that the incident "exposes the Chinese government's direct oversight of economic espionage against the United States." John Demers, the assistant US attorney general for national security, warned that the case was not an isolated incident. "It is part of an overall economic policy of developing China at American expense," he said. "We cannot tolerate a nation stealing our firepower and the fruits of our brainpower." Xu is the second Chinese national in two weeks to be charged by the US Justice Department with trying to steal aviation industry secrets. Ji Chaoqun was charged by American authorities of helping identify potential recruitment targets for China's Ministry of State Security. Officials said the two cases appeared closely linked.

The US Justice Department said on Wednesday it had detained a Chinese spy on charges of state-sponsored economic espionage, after he allegedly attempted to steal trade secrets from several American aviation and aerospace companies. Yanjun Xu, an intelligence officer for China’s Ministry of State Security, is accused of running a five-year operation in which he would woo employees from major ... Read More »

Trump’s upcoming Asia trip: Japan proposes plan to counter China

Tokyo aims to team up with the US, India and Australia to promote free trade and defense and security cooperation - but also to contain Beijing's aggressively expansionist policies. Julian Ryall reports from Tokyo. At the summit of the leaders of the Group of 20 nations in Hamburg in July, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe indicated that Tokyo would be willing to take part in Beijing's ambitious "One Belt, One Road" (OBOR) economic development plan. The Japanese leader's decision was apparently prompted by concerns that domestic firms would miss out on lucrative construction projects as the modern-day "Silk Road" project spread into Southeast Asia, the Central Asian republics, the Middle East and beyond. Just three months later - and after conservatives at home raised their eyebrows at such close cooperation with a government that they perceive as taking every opportunity to belittle Japan - Foreign Minister Taro Kono has announced that he intends to use the upcoming visit of US President Donald Trump to propose what might very easily be perceived as an alternative to China's OBOR initiative. Four-way dialogue In an interview with Japan's Nikkei economic daily on Wednesday, Kono said Tokyo wanted to set up top-level dialogue between Japan, the US, India and Australia in order for the four powers to promote free trade and cooperation in defense and security throughout the South China Sea, across the Indian Ocean and all the way to Africa. Kono added that he had offered collaborative roles to other nations - he mentioned both France and the UK as potential future contributors - and the plan is clearly designed to act as a counterweight to the massive economic and military might that Beijing continues to build. "We are in an era where Japan has to exert itself diplomatically by drawing a big strategic picture," Kono said, adding that "Free and open seas will benefit all countries, including China and its 'Belt and Road' initiative." Despite the claim that the Japanese-led initiative will equally assist China's ambitions, there is little disguising the fact that Tokyo is trying hard to build unity among nations both big and small to resist Beijing's advances. There has been concern in Japan for some years about the way in which China is exercising its economic and military muscle, but that was put into very clear focus in 2015, when China ignored international protests and occupied a series of uninhabited atolls and coral reefs in the South China Sea. Read more: South China Sea dispute - Long way ahead for China, ASEAN Unilateral occupation The islets have been variously claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, and the international community condemned Beijing's decision to unilaterally occupy, develop and militarize the territories. Today, it appears unlikely that Chinese troops can be removed from the islands, and Japan fears that Beijing will use similarly high-handed economic and military tactics to achieve its aims elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region. "This proposal, as I see it, is very positive for Japan, but also for the US, India and Australia," said Yoichi Shimada, a professor of international relations at Fukui Prefectural University. "And later, when it is more fully formed, it can be a good thing for all the countries of Southeast Asia as well. "It is important that we have an alternative to the ideas of China because countries might join their plan and Beijing could very easily change those plans to better favor themselves," he told DW. "China is so big and powerful that not many other nations can stand up to them. I believe there is a risk involved for any country that places all its eggs in one basket and works solely with China," he said, adding that he was confident that Beijing's actions in the South China Sea would not have won Beijing many new fans. Shimada believes an alliance that brings together Japan, India, Australia and the US will have a better track record and reputation in the international sphere. Garren Mulloy, a defense expert and associate professor of international relations at Japan's Daito Bunka University, is confident that Australia and India will be keen to be involved in the initiative as they too look to counter China's aggressive expansionist policies in areas that are an immediate threat to their own security. "Australia and Japan, in particular, feel let down by Trump after he pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement and they have been seeking a 'third forum' through which they can join together and regain the initiative," he told DW. Largest trading partner China is Australia's biggest trading partner and there has been heavy investment in Australia by Chinese companies in recent years. One of the most contentious deals was the leasing of the harbor in Darwin, northern Australia, to a Chinese company, with many critics of the deal saying it makes no sense to give away the nation's strategic infrastructure assets to a rival. The Pentagon was also unhappy with the deal as Darwin serves as a key naval facility for the US navy and its Marine Corps. On the other hand, Mulloy said, the "Belt and Road" initiative would appear to have limited value to Canberra, so an alliance with Japan, India and the US would be a more logical step. Similarly, India has been watching China's growing investment in Sri Lanka, where Beijing's funds have paid for a major new port facility that has already had Chinese warships visit. And while Mulloy believes an alternative to China's plans could be beneficial to the region, he says the nations that opt to participate will not be able to afford to invest as much as China has already sunk into its vision for a 21st century Silk Road.

Tokyo aims to team up with the US, India and Australia to promote free trade and defense and security cooperation – but also to contain Beijing’s aggressively expansionist policies. Julian Ryall reports from Tokyo. At the summit of the leaders of the Group of 20 nations in Hamburg in July, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe indicated that Tokyo would be ... Read More »

China’s Xi Jinping urges Communist Party to renew itself

Chinese President Xi Jinping has kicked off the country's 19th Communist Party Congress in Beijing. Xi, who told his audience the party needed to reinvigorate itself, is expected to shake up the Politburo. China's 19th Communist Party Congress opened in Beijing on Wednesday with a speech from President Xi Jinping who called on the party to "resolutely oppose" any actions that "undermine" it. Thousands of delegates applauded as Xi entered the packed Great Hall of the People, followed by his two predecessors Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin. Xi's lengthy, carefully formulated speech highlighted the party's achievements during Xi's first term, including the "strengthening and revitalizing of the armed forces" as well as China's role as a "torch bearer" in the fight against climate change. Reforms for the world's second-largest economy featured prominently in Xi's speech along with praise for his fight against corruption in the party, which Xi said had achieved "overwhelming momentum." "The fight against corruption has formed an overwhelming posture and strengthened in development," Xi said in a speech carried live on state television. Xi outlines China's 'challenges' In a speech meant to highlight China and Xi's successes, the president also made an unusual move to note the "severe challenges" facing the country ahead. The Chinese leader noted that certain development issues had been insufficiently addressed, including problems in employment, education, medical care and a widening income gap. "Realizing our great dream demands a great struggle," Xi said, later noting: "We must rid ourselves of any virus that erodes the party's health." Politburo shake-up A total of 2,338 delegates from around the country are taking part in the week-long, mostly closed-door event that will culminate in a likely overhaul of the party's top ruling body. The thousands of delegates gathered at the congress, which takes place every five years, will choose the Central Committee — a decision-making body of some 376 members. Around half of the Central Committee's members will likely step down this year after reaching the informal retirement age of 68. Combined with Xi's anti-graft campaign, which has seen several other members removed from the party, the departures mean the committee will experience its largest turnover in decades. The Central Committee will then select the Politburo Standing Committee, an all-powerful group that includes the president and will rule China's 1.4 billion people for the next five years. Five of the seven Politburo Standing Committee members are expected to retire this year, with Xi loyalists expected to take their place. Analysts say that since assuming leadership of the party in 2012, Xi has swiftly consolidated power by jailing political rivals for corruption, restructuring the military and asserting China's position on the world stage. Another key point in the congress that experts say to watch out for is whether or not Xi's political philosophy "Xi Jinping Thought" will be added to the constitution. If the measure includes his name, it would put him on the level of modern China's founder, Mao Zedong, and the father of the country's economic reforms, Deng Xiaoping.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has kicked off the country’s 19th Communist Party Congress in Beijing. Xi, who told his audience the party needed to reinvigorate itself, is expected to shake up the Politburo. China’s 19th Communist Party Congress opened in Beijing on Wednesday with a speech from President Xi Jinping who called on the party to “resolutely oppose” any actions ... Read More »

China, India struggle to put a lid on their border row involving Bhutan

چینی وزارت دفاع نے بھارت سے مطالبہ کیا ہے کہ نئی دہلی حکومت دونوں ممالک کے مابین متنازعہ سرحدی علاقے پر تعینات اپنے فوجی ’فوری طور پر‘ واپس بلا لے۔ دونوں ممالک کے مابین اس معاملے کے باعث کشیدگی پائی جاتی ہے۔ حالیہ ہفتوں کے دوران چین اور بھارت کے مابین متنازعہ سرحدی علاقے میں بھارتی فوجوں کی تعیناتی کے بعد سے ہمسایہ ممالک کے مابین کشیدگی میں اضافہ ہوا ہے۔ اس سرحدی تنازعے کے باعث سفارتی سطح پر دونوں ممالک کے تعلقات میں مسلسل کشیدگی اور دونوں جانب کے عوام عوام میں ’قوم پسندانہ جذبات‘ بھی بڑھ رہے ہیں۔ بھارت کسی زعم میں نہ رہے، سرحد کا دفاع کرنا جانتے ہیں، چین متنازعہ خطے سے بھارتی فوجی انخلا امن کی پہلی شرط، چینی سفیر چین کے سرکاری نیوز ایجنسی ژنہاؤ کے مطابق بیجنگ کی وزارت دفاع نے بھارت سے اپنے فوجی ’فوری طور پر‘ اس متنازعہ سرحدی علاقے سے واپس بلا لینے کا مطالبہ چار اگست بروز جمعہ کیا ہے۔ چینی وزارت دفاع کے ترجمان رین گواچیانگ کا کہنا تھا کہ بھارتی فوجوں کی جانب سے چین کی سرحدی حدود میں داخل ہونے کے بعد بیجنگ نے ’انتہائی برداشت کا مظاہرہ‘ کیا ہے، لیکن چین کی برداشت کی بھی ایک حد ہے۔ بھارت کو تنبیہہ کرتے ہوئے چینی وزارت دفاع کے ترجمان کا مزید کہنا تھا کہ ’تاخیری حربے استعمال کر کے بھارت کسی غلط فہمی میں نہ رہے‘ اور چین کے ’اعتماد اور دفاعی صلاحیتوں‘ کے بارے میں بھی بھارت کو ’غلط اندازہ‘ نہیں لگانا چاہیے کیوں کہ ’چین اپنی خودمختاری اور مفادات کا دفاع‘ کرنے کی بھرپور صلاحیت رکھتا ہے۔ چینی ٹی وی پر آج ایک ویڈیو نشر کی گئی جس میں تبت میں کسی نامعلوم مقام پر چینی فوجوں کو جنگی مشقیں کرتے دکھایا گیا ہے۔ ویڈیو میں دکھایا گیا ہے کہ چینی فوج کا ایک اہلکار فائرنگ کا حکم دیتا ہے جس کے بعد یکے بعد دیگرے کئی راکٹ فائر کیے جاتے ہیں۔ علاوہ ازیں چینی آرٹلری کو توپوں میں گولہ بارود لوڈ کرتے ہوئے بھی دکھایا گیا ہے۔ چین اور بھارت کے مابین اس حالیہ سرحدی تنازعے کا آغاز جون میں ہوا تھا۔ چین کا الزام ہے کہ بھارتی فوجیں چین، بھارت اور نیپال کے سنگم پر واقع سرحدی علاقے میں چین کی سرحدی حدود میں داخل ہو گئی تھیں۔ بھارت کے انتہائی شمال مشرق میں ہمالیائی سطح مرتفع پر واقع اس علاقے کو ہندی میں ’دوکلام‘ اور چینی زبان میں ’دونگ لانگ‘ کہا جاتا ہے۔ چین کے مطابق بھارت نے اپنے اتحادی بھوٹان کی سرحد کے قریب اس چینی علاقے میں داخل ہو کر سن 1890 میں طے پانے والے اس سرحدی معاہدے کی خلاف ورزی کی ہے جو کہ چین اور اس وقت کے برصغیر میں برسراقتدار برطانوی حکومت کے مابین طے پایا تھا۔ دوسری جانب بھارت کا کہنا ہے کہ چینی فوجوں نے بھوٹانی علاقے میں سڑک تعمیر کرنے کی کوشش کی تھی جس کے بعد بھوٹان کی جانب سے شکایت اور مداخلت کی اپیل کے بعد بھارتی فوجیں اس علاقے میں روانہ کی گئی تھیں۔

The continuing standoff between India and China along their shared border has cast a dark shadow on their bilateral relationship. It has also stoked nationalism on both sides, making it tough to resolve the issue. Beijing is intensifying its warnings to Indian troops to get out of a contested region high in the Himalayas where China, India and Bhutan meet. ... Read More »

Chinese fighter jets intercept US Navy plane

A US surveillance plane was forced to take evasive action after an 'unsafe' close intercept by two Chinese J-10 jets, according to US officials. Beijing said its pilots' actions were 'necessary and professional.' One of the J-10 warplanes came within some 300 feet (91 meters) of the American EP-3 surveillance aircraft during the intercept west of the Korean peninsula, US officials told the news agency Reuters on Monday. In a separate statement, US Navy spokesman Jeff Davis said that one of the Chinese jets approached from beneath the American plane, then slowed and pulled up, forcing the surveillance jet to change direction and evade it. Davis added that the action was an "exception, not the norm." "This is uncharacteristic of the normal safe behavior we see from the Chinese military," he said. "There are intercepts that occur in international airspace regularly, and the vast majority of them are conducted in a safe manner." Read more: Indonesia denies wounding Vietnamese fishermen in South China Sea clashes Another US official said that the Chinese jet was armed and that the interception happened 92 miles (148 km) from the Chinese city of Qingdao. Beijing urges US to stop sending planes China confirmed the intercept but defended its pilots, saying their actions were "legal, necessary and professional" and performed "in accordance with the law and the rules." "Close-in reconnaissance by US aircraft threatens China's national security, harms Sino-US maritime and air military safety, endangers the personal safety of both sides' pilots and is the root cause of unexpected incidents," said the Chinese Defense Ministry. Beijing also urged the US to immediately stop such activities, describing them as unsafe, unprofessional and unfriendly. China deployed two Su-30 fighter jets in a similar incident in May, when it detected a WC-135 Constant Phoenix over the East China Sea. China declared an air defense identification zone over a large section of the East China Sea in 2013, a move the US called illegitimate and has refused to recognize.

A US surveillance plane was forced to take evasive action after an ‘unsafe’ close intercept by two Chinese J-10 jets, according to US officials. Beijing said its pilots’ actions were ‘necessary and professional.’ One of the J-10 warplanes came within some 300 feet (91 meters) of the American EP-3 surveillance aircraft during the intercept west of the Korean peninsula, US ... Read More »

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