Radio Free Asia (RFA) recently reported that, according to Microsoft, a joint effort between Microsoft and its Chinese partner has been completed. The project was to customize the Windows 10 operating system to comply with the requirements that the Chinese government imposed. Experts expressed their belief that this new accomplishment may improve the weak sales situation of Microsoft products in the Mainland China market, which has heavily regulated and controlled the Internet market landscape. The customized Windows 10 version is designed specifically for government purchases instead of for the consumer market. Many international technology companies had to do the same thing. Qualcomm, Intel, and IBM all took the same approach. However, Microsoft did not reveal what they did for the Chinese government. The customization was required under the Chinese government’s worry about “back doors.” This task was challenging because Microsoft had to satisfy China’s requirements while protecting its core intellectual properties as well as ensuring that the Chinese government would not monitor the company.
Source: RFA, March 22, 2017
Global Times recently reported, based on South Korean media reports, that quite a few North Korean diplomats have violated the local laws in several countries and have attempted to avoid the local authorities’ punishment. For example, when the governments of Laos and Egypt were implementing United Nations resolutions on sanctioning North Korea, those countries expelled some people registered as North Korean diplomats due to their illegal activities. Also, the North Korean embassies in Romania, Germany, and Poland have often used the embassies’ real estate for commercial activities, which is not allowed under the local laws. The Bulgarian government officially announced that Bulgaria will fully comply with the UN resolutions and has asked the North Korean embassy to bring down its personnel size. Bulgaria also required North Korea not to use its real estate properties for any purposes other than diplomatic activities.
Source: Global Times, March 23, 2017
The South China Morning Post carried an article about an incident involving a young man who killed the people who were harassing and assaulting him and his mother because she could not repay her debt which included interest at the rate of 10 percent per month. The article resulted in widespread attention on the Internet.
Su Yingxia, a businesswoman in Shandong Province was unable to pay back 135 million yuan (US$19.63 million) an amount which included interest that accumulated at the rate of 10 percent per month on money she borrowed from a private company. On April 14, 2016, 11 debt collectors surrounded her and her 22 year old son Yu Huan and harassed them for over an hour. The debt collectors hurled verbal abuse at them, slapped their faces, and beat them. The mother was sexually insulted in front of her son. According to the eye witness, after the police arrived at the scene, they told the debt collectors that it is fine to try to collect the debt but they can’t beat people up. Then the police just left. Realizing that the police were not going to do anything, Yu Huan grabbed a knife and stabbed four people. One of them died on the way to the hospital and three others were injured. On February 17, 2017, Yu Huan was sentenced to life imprisonment and is currently appealing his case.
The article also disclosed that both the owner of the private firm and the collector who was killed had connections with a gang organization. The private firm was registered in the name of a real estate company but in its operations it sold high interest rate loans and had a debt collection business in which it hired local unemployed people. After the incident, 22 companies in the region came up with over 100,000 yuan (US$ 14,540) in donations to help Su Yingxia with her son’s legal fees because they had had similar experiences and were sympathetic about her situation.
There were over 250 comments posted about the article. People were sad and disappointed. Some expressed anger towards the police for failing to stop the tragedy. Some people praised the South China Morning Post for having the courage to be the first media to cover the story.
Source: South China Morning Post, March 24, 2017
Global Times, a subsidiary of the Chinese Communist Party official newspaper People’s Daily, reported on its website on March 23 that China issued warnings to a U.S. bomber that had entered the Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea.
Global Times cited CNN reports that Chinese officials told the pilots that they were illegally operating in Chinese airspace and ordered the U.S. air force plane to leave. According to CNN, the US plane was flying 70 nautical miles southwest of South Korea’s Jeju Island.
Global Times quoted a U.S. Pacific Air Forces spokesperson as saying to CNN, “Pacific Air Forces did not recognize the Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) when it was announced in November of 2013, and does not recognize it today.” The spokesperson also told CNN, “The ADIZ has not changed our operations.”
Global Times did not mention the U.S. pilots’ response, in which they told Chinese air traffic controllers that they were conducting routine operations in international airspace and they did not deviate from their flight path. Nor did Global Times quote CNN’s mentioning that Japan does not recognize China’s ADIZ either.
Source: Global Times, March 23, 2017
VOA carried an article about the election on Sunday, March 26, for Hong Kong’s Chief Executive. The article noted that, based on its analysis, Carrie Lam, the newly elected Chief Executive will face challenges in carrying out her policies because Beijing wanted her to be in that position even though she was far behind in the polls compared to her opponent John Tsang. The article stated that the Hong Kong election is also called a “limited election” because a committee made the decision; it consists of 70 members of Hong Kong’s legislative chamber and a mix of professionals, and business and trade elites. The article said that Sunday’s end result was “just as expected” and “with no surprises.” Carrie Lam, former Chief Secretary for the Administration of the Hong Kong SAR Government, won the election after gaining 777 votes (out of a total of 1,163 votes cast). The other two candidates were John Tsang, the former Finance secretary, who also led in the public opinion polls and and Woo Kwok-hing, a retired judge. Tsang had 365 votes and Woo Kwok-hing had 21 votes. According to the article, at the last minute, Beijing worked hard to put pressure on the business committee members to convince them to switch their position. This made Carrie Lam’s votes a lot higher than expected. Leung Kwok-hung, a member of the Legislative Council, told VOA that Beijing controlled the election. He explained that, according to a number of major Hong Kong media, even though Carrie Lam was 20 to 30 percent behind John Tsang in the polls one week before the election, Carrie Lam still won. Leung told VOA, “She had Beijing’s support, which might work against her in Hong Kong if she plans to execute her plans.” Another independent legislator told VOA that Lam winning the election will force Hong Kong to split even further and she will have a hard time managing Hong Kong. The article said that Carrie Lam is also called “Leung Chun-ying 2.0” because she claimed that one of her reasons to enter the election was that she wishes to continue the policies of Leung Chun-ying the incumbent Chief Executive. The author also interviewed Joshua Wong Chi-fung, the student activist who serves as secretary general of Demosistō, who told VOA that Beijing has been manipulating the election and that therefore, in the future, it will have to face more resistance from Hong Kong’s youth.
Source: Voice of America, March 26, 2017
On March 11, Xiao Jie, the Party Secretary of Sansha City in Hainan Province revealed that, in 2017, Sansha City will start an early operation to set up an Environmental Monitoring Station at Scarborough Shoal. However, at her regular press conference on March 22, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying denied the news, saying that the report regarding the monitoring station at the Scarborough Shoal was false and there is no such a plan.
What caused China’s sudden change of plans for Scarborough Shoal?
First of all, a breakthrough is expected soon on the negotiations on the South China Sea code of conduct. China’s aggressive actions at Scarborough Shoal at this time would surely raise concerns among ASEAN countries.
Second is the Philippines factor. After Duterte took office, Sino-Philippine diplomatic relations began to warm up. If China were to take action at Scarborough Shoal at this time, it would inevitably affect the development of bilateral relations.
Third is the U.S. factor. Scholars of Sino-U.S. strategic relations have a saying, “The day when China works on Scarborough Shoal is the day that China and the United States have a showdown in the South China Sea.” The current tension in the South China Sea dispute has led both China and the United States to strengthen military deployment in the South China Sea. So far, China’s island expansion and the United States’ military patrols to maintain freedom of navigation are controlled below the limit of any direct conflict. Scarborough Shoal seems to have become a red line in the South China Sea.
In addition, Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit the United States next month. Any move at Scarborough Shoal at this time would destroy the friendly atmosphere of the Sino-U.S. meeting.
Source: Duowei News, March 24, 2017