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VOA: New Intelligence Law Grants Extended Powers to Intelligence Agencies

According to an article that Voice of America published, the People’s Congress recently posted the “National Intelligence Law” on its official website and welcomed members of the general public to voice their opinions. The Intelligence Law states that the intelligence agencies can interrogate or conduct searches, including searching in restricted areas, as long as they obtain approval and display their identification. However, the law does not specify who would issue the approval. The speculation is that the new law will grant expanded powers to intelligence agencies.

The article also stated that the Ministry of State Security could be split into two agencies: the National Counterintelligence and the National Intelligence Agencies. The article said that, since Xi Jinping attained power, the Ministry of State Security has gone through a series of restructurings and has removed a number of key members from their posts including Zhou Yongkang, former Secretary of the Central Political and Legislative Affairs Commission; Ma Jian, former Vice Minister of State Security; and Liang Ke, former director of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of State Security. Currently the Ministry of State Security is under the National Security Commission which is chaired by Xi Jinping.

The article stated that, since 2014, China has passed a series of national security laws including the Internet security law in 2016, the national security law in 2015, and the counterintelligence law in 2014.

Source: Voice of America, May 16, 2017

VOA: Belt and Road Forum Criticized for Suppressing Different Voices

Voice of America carried an article on the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation which was held on May 14 in Beijing. The article discussed the criticism Beijing received for promoting tolerance to the outside world while lacking tolerance toward its own citizens and suppressing different voices. The article mentioned that, while the forum was taking place, Beijing applied the highest level of security measures against dissidents and petitioners. Security forces could be sited at public facilities. Some of the dissidents were either sent back to their hometowns or forced to take a “vacation” and leave Beijing. Some stores, tourist sites, and certain construction sites were ordered to shut down during the forum.

In terms of the Belt and Road project, the article stated that it faces many challenges. One is a lack of transparency since it is State Owned Enterprises that are driving the project rather than the market economy. Another concern is the stability of the countries that are situated along the Belt and Road path.

Source: Voice of America, May 14, 2017

Publicity Department Directives to Launch Nationwide Publicity Campaign Prior to 19th National Congress

According to Guangming Daily, on May 16, the Publicity Department held a meeting in Beijing and issued directives to launch a nationwide publicity campaign prior to the 19th National Congress. The directives requested that all parties “increase the depth of the media campaign to the full extent; mobilize large scale media events, exhibits and forums, as well as produce TV documentaries in order to showcase the achievements that the Party and the country have made; to launch education, arts, and cultural programs to present a harmonious and upright social environment; actively to produce publicity content that targets foreign countries that are able to tell China and the Party’s stories well, and to present confidence and positive energy to the world.”

Source: Guangming Daily, May 17, 2017

Caixin News: China Railway Relies on Government Subsidies to Keep its Books in the Black

On April 29, Caixin News disclosed that China Railway Corporation receives subsidized funding in Q4 of each year, which helps to turn its net profit from red to black. According to the article, by the end of the third quarter in 2016, China Railway had lost 5.577 billion yuan (US$810 million), but for the full year of 2016, it reported total revenue of 907.4 billion yuan (US$131 billion), down 0.96 percent from 2015 while the company’s net profit was 1.076 billion yuan (USD$160 million) an increase of 58 percent from 681 million yuan (USD$99 million) in 2015. Meanwhile, the report said that China Railway Corporation carries total debt of 4.72 trillion yuan (US$680 million) up 15.12 percent from 4.10 trillion yuan (US$590 million) with a debt ratio that increased to 65.1 percent.

The following were among the posted comments on the article:
“Can the bottom line count as being profitable?”
“They are the only railway company in the country and still lose money. Who is paying for the loss?”
“A State Owned Enterprise relies on government subsidies. How can it be competitive in the global market?”
“China Shipping Company is the same. They receive subsidized funding from the government. They never show a financial loss”.

Source: Caixin, April 29, 2017

1,846 Top Executives of Publicly Traded Companies Resigned within One Month

Sina published an article which reported that from April 3 to May 3, 1,846 top executives in publicly traded companies in Shanghai and Shen Zheng resigned. Among those 649 left due to restructuring, term limits, health, or retirement reasons and 36 left due to illegal activities. Meanwhile 169 of those who resigned had an annual salary over 1 million yuan (US$140,000). The article quoted comments from a security law expert from the Central University of Finance and Economics who expressed concern over this phenomenon. “When a significant number of top executives resign from publicly traded companies, the stock market fluctuates because of it. Some of those executives sell the stock they own when they leave. This has had a direct effect on the secondary market.”

Source: Sina, May 4, 2017

Epoch Times: How China Spent its Security Maintenance Fund

Epoch Times, the overseas Chinese news media, carried an article which included examples of how China spent its “security maintenance fund.”

1) Based on a source from the public security bureau in Shen Zhen, on April 23, the security bureau allocated 10 million Hong Kong yuan (US$1.28 million) in order to stop a parade that Falun Gong followers in Hong Kong had organized. The money was spent to pay 500 to 600 yuan (US$64 to $77) to each participant and to buy uniforms, banners, and chairs, while more money was paid to those who organized the stopping of the event. One group organizer from Fujian was reported to have received 2 million Hong Kong dollars (USD$260,000) for participating in the April 23 event. The directive issued to the organizers stated that the money came from the “security maintenance fund.” The organizer was told that there is no limit set on measures to persecute Falun Gong followers and all expenses would be reimbursed.

2) Chen Guangcheng, the civil rights activist worked on human rights issues, while the county government in Shandong Province subjected his family to surveillance from August 2005 to August 2012. Three surveillance sites were set up to put Chen under house arrest and 50 to 60 people were at this site 24 hours a day. Meanwhile an additional several hundred people who are cadres of the villages, towns, and the counties, as well as police officers, were involved in Chen’s case. Reports indicated that the authorities spent 30 million yuan (US$4.34 million) a year to monitor Chen. That was the amount in 2008, but it went up to 60 million (US$8.69 million) by 2011. The total does not include the bribery money that officials paid in Shandong Province to the officials in Beijing.

3) Lawyer Zhen Enchong from Shanghai disclosed that, since he was released from prison on June 5, 2006, the authorities in Shanghai spent at least 4.2 million yuan (US$610,000) a year to keep him under house arrest and on harassing his family members.

4) The article quoted a comment from a scholar who stated that behind the large sums “invested” in the “security maintenance fund” were large sums of money spent on corruption. “They mark up the surveillance camera from 1,000 yuan (US$115) to 100,000 yuan (US$14,500) … Large groups of people rely on making money through the “maintaining security” effort.

5) On March 2, Philip Wen, a reporter from Reuters reported that for the past five years, in order to stop a villager from Inner Mongolia from going to Beijing to appeal her case, the authorities spent 330,000 yuan (US$48,000) on the surveillance effort.

6) According to an investigation report that the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong published, in the first several years of the persecution campaign, which started in 1999, China spent one fourth of its national finances on the persecution effort each year. For example on February 27, 2001, 4 billion yuan (US$580 million) in funding was allocated to install surveillance monitors on buildings. In December 2012, 4.2 billion yuan (US$610 million) was spent to build brainwashing centers. 170,000 to 250,000 yuan (US$25,000 to $36,000) was spent daily just to staff the resources in Tian An Men square to stop Falun Gong followers from petitioning. The report also said that the authorities spent unknown sums of money to award whistle blowers, send spies overseas, and to buy out overseas media and organizations.

Source: Epoch Times, May 6, 2017

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