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Well-known Chinese news site Sina recently reported that Hong Kong once again ranked at the top the list in the newly released Human Freedom Index Report. The Canadian Fraser Institute also ranked Taiwan number 26 in the same 2016 report. This is the sixth consecutive year Hong Kong won this honor. The ranking is based on personal freedom and economic freedom, under which there are tens of sub-categories for detailed evaluation. China ranked 141 in the Index, very close to the bottom three: Iran (157), Yemen (157) and Syria (159). The Report reflected the research that Fraser conducted; it publishes the freedom study results annually. The report also indicated that the freedom level is heavily related to the democratic system the country/region has. In its comment on Hong Kong’s ranking, the institute pointed out that the index may be lowered if the Mainland breaks the “One Nation, Two Systems” structure. The United States is ranked at 23 in the Report.
Source: Sina, November 29, 2016
The popular Hong Kong newspaper Oriental Daily published a series of articles on its official website commenting on the massive monitoring system that the Mainland police established. The Mainland Ministry of Public Safety just released a draft of new regulations that govern how the Mainland’s police use video monitoring technologies at different levels of the government, which, it is widely considered, the government abuses. It is very unusual that a significant pro-Mainland newspaper criticizes the Mainland’s national-level security system. In one article especially, the reporter directly named the former Chinese leader, Jiang Zemin, to be the force behind the development of the nationwide secret monitoring system. The article pointed out that Jiang’s regime approved the Golden Shield Project, which was designed to provide 360-degree monitoring of the entire Chinese population. Publicly available documents showed that Jiang Zemin, his son Jiang Mianheng, and the leadership of the Public Safety Ministry then headed the project. The multi-billion-dollar privacy-intrusive project had no record of any kind for approval or authorization from China’s People’s Congress. Oriental Daily has been Hong Kong’s number one in circulation since 1976, with a record readership of over 3,100,000.
Source: Oriental Daily, November 29, 2016
BBC Chinese recently reported that former Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen warned on the news of the potential establishment of a formal diplomatic relationship between the Vatican and China. Zen expressed his concern that, if such an agreement were to be reached, the Vatican might be considered to be “betraying Jesus Christ.” Zen said The Pope might be misled by the experience of the communists persecuted in Latin America. It would be a bit “childish” to understand the Chinese communists the same way, since the Chinese Communist Party has killed a large number of innocent people during its short history. Chinese Catholics are only allowed to join government-approved churches and sermons to the public are banned. The Chinese government-appointed “official” bishops don’t truly preach the gospel. Instead they have the hidden agenda of ensuring the church members obey the communist authorities. Zen expressed that those at the Vatican who crafted the agreement with the Chinese communists lacked first-hand experience and did not truly understand how the Chinese government controls the official churches like “puppets.”
Source: BBC Chinese, November 28, 2016
Global Times recently reported that, after visiting India’s first domestically constructed Vikrant-class aircraft carrier, top U.S. Naval engineers may have lost hope in expecting India’s cooperation to contain the Chinese Navy in the Indian Ocean. To the surprise of the Americans, the supposedly combat-ready carrier, launched three years ago, may take up to another ten years to obtain real battleground operational capabilities. The Americans found the Indian carrier doesn’t even have a small-scale missile system for self-defense. The Pentagon was very much concerned that India insisted on producing aircraft carriers entirely on its own, which significantly delayed the combat readiness of the ship. According to India’s own audit report released in September, the first India-made carrier suffered significant flaws in both design and construction quality, such as the aircraft launch system and the air conditioning system, due to the shipbuilder’s lack of experience. The three-billion-dollar project has been delayed for five years now. The Indian-made Tejas fighter jets suffered a troublesome record in practice on and off the deck, while Russian jets had absolutely no issue in using the same deck. The U.S. experts expressed their belief that the first Indian carrier can only operate within the range of India’s land-based air force coverage. However, the United States confirmed its willingness to continue its cooperation with the Indian Navy but will put its the faith in India’s second domestically built carrier.
Source: Global Times, December 2, 2016
In a recent People’s Daily report, several Chinese scholars gave their opinions on the following question: The TPP agreement was originally seen as the United States’ Asian rebalancing strategy to contain China. Trump decided to change the U.S. policy and withdraw from the TPP. What effect will this have on the two sides?
According to Yuan Zheng, Director of the American Foreign Affairs Department at the American Studies Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, “The United States’ retreat from the TPP and the resulting policy adjustments greatly disappointed its allies. In fact, it damaged the United States’ political reputation and shattered the emotional balance of member countries.” Yuan cited the responses of leaders from a number of TPP member countries to support his observation; he said Japan was the most prominent one.
According to Wang Wen, Executive Director of the Finance Institute of Renmin University of China, “The U.S. exit from the TPP is not entirely a good thing for China. The future will present many challenges.” He did not think that the withdrawal of the United States from the TPP would entirely benefit China’s interests. Wang thought that the U.S. withdrawal would have two major effects. One is that it would change the expectation of a global trend in international trade. The expectation of the two major trade competitions between the U.S.-led regional trade liberalism and the China-led free trade zone would change. First, Trump may introduce new policies for future global trade. Therefore, global trade may become more uncertain. Second, China is in a critical period with both opportunities and challenges in development. It is very challenging for China to deal with the uncertainty of the international situation in the new era of unwinding the TPP. The original TPP member countries will continue to increase demands on China. It may enhance China’s trade discourse, but it will also increase China’s responsibilities and the burden on the global trade system.
Zhang Tengjun, a researcher at the American Studies Section of the International Studies Institute of China, also believed that the United States withdrawal from the TPP would relieve some pressure on China. However, what measures Trump will introduce to safeguard the interests of the United States in the Asia Pacific and even in international society remains to be seen.
Source: People’s Daily, November 29, 2016