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Research Showed More Economic Freedom in the U.S. under Trump

Well-known Chinese news site Sina recently reported on the Index of Economic Freedom that the U.S. Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal just released. The Index showed that Hong Kong won the highest score of 90.2, up 0.4 from last year. It was the only region with a score over 90. The United States was ranked at number 18, with a 0.6-point increase in its score. The U.S. score had been on the decline for the past decade. According to Edwin Feulner, founder of the Heritage Foundation, only 12 years ago, the United States was ranked number five among nearly 180 regions. The past ten years have been very tough. Now finally the free-fall has stopped and the U.S. is actually heading in the right direction. Feulner pointed out that the U.S. rebound should be credited to Trump’s deregulation push. Since the Index data did not include the recent U.S. Tax Cut, he expects a much better U.S. score next year.

Source: Sina, February 1, 2018
http://finance.sina.com/gb/usstock/sinacn/20180201/21531708070.html

FT Chinese: Dutch University Changed Its Plan to Offer Full Degrees in China

Financial Times (FT) Chinese recently reported that the University of Groningen in the Netherlands decided to reconsider its plan to set up a full branch in Yantai, China. According to Sibrand Poppema, Chairman of the University Board, the university will drop its plan to offer full degrees at the Yantai Branch in China. He explained that the University Board “did not provide full support” on providing full degree programs due to the concern about losing academic freedom. Last December, the plan to establish a Chinese branch faced heavy internal criticism because of the requirement of allowing a Chinese Communist Party member to join the board of the Chinese branch. At that time, the Chinese government ordered all universities in China with foreign investment background to establish a Chinese Communist Party Branch and to place a Communist Party member with decision-making power on the board. The West widely considered that this order completely changed the earlier promise of guaranteed academic freedom.

Source: FT Chinese, January 30, 2018
https://www.ftchinese.com/story/001076141

RFI Chinese: China Has Been Stealing Information from the African Union Headquarters

Radio France Internationale (RFI) recently reported that two French reporters revealed the news that China has been spying on the African Union. Multiple staff working at the African Union Headquarters found suspicious network traffic over a year ago. The technicians discovered that, on a daily basis at around one or two o’clock a.m. local time, all communications among African Union staff were captured and transmitted to servers located in Shanghai. Six years ago, China constructed the African Union Headquarters building and gave it to the African Union as a gift. China provided all networking equipment as well. Anonymous African Union officials expressed the belief that Beijing had stolen all sensitive information transmitted between January 2012 and January 2017. The Union has now completely replaced the technology equipment from independent suppliers and purchased its own servers not sourced from China. Chinese technicians were laid off one month after the breach was discovered last year. China’s Representative to the African Union did not respond to media inquiries.

Source: RFI, January 27, 2018
http://bit.ly/2nl9EzL

DailyNK: North Korea Suddenly Banned Chinese Products

DailyNK, a news site based in South Korea that focuses on North Korean activities, recently reported, based on its own sources, that the North Korean authorities suddenly ordered a ban on Chinese products in the retail market, especially Chinese food products and home appliances. The current ban does not include Chinese “industrial products.” Typically, this type of ban only applies to South Korean products. The ban started in late December in some regions and is now widespread. However, most of the products in the North Korean markets are made in China, especially food and daily necessities. A large number of people complained that the ban is too “reckless,” and it is very hard to fill the market gaps with domestic products in a short period of time. Anonymous sources said that the primary goals of the Chinese product ban are to demonstrate “confidence” and also to tell people the danger of depending on nations that “help the United States.” The ban is causing major damage to those who rely on trade with China for a living. In many areas, law enforcement officers have not fully implemented the government’s policies; they have a dependency on Chinese products as well.

Source: DailyNK, January 25, 2018
http://www1.dailynk.com/chinese/read.php?num=15926&cataId=nk00600

Sinchew: Most of the Contractors of “The Belt and Road Initiative” Are Chinese

Major Singapore newspaper Sinchew recently reported that, based on a U.S. think tank study, China’s grand “The Belt and Road Initiative” which pushes infrastructure work across Eurasia has largely contracted out work to Chinese bidders. Among the 34 current projects in Europe and Asia, around 89 percent have been contracted to Chinese construction companies and only 11 percent have been given to contractors from other countries. This dramatic difference made the lofty tone of the Belt and Road Initiative look questionable, especially when China is counting on the Plan to win friends in over 70 countries. International analysts have expressed their concern about this China-centric approach, since more and more countries are rethinking their support for the grand Chinese Plan. Compared to the Chinese way of favoring its own contractors, contracts that the West has funded, typically under the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), are more neutral toward the bidders and the grants have been more diversified. The study showed that 41 percent of these grants were given to local contractors, 29 percent went to Chinese contractors, and 30 percent went to a bidder from a third country.

Source: Sinchew, January 25, 2018
http://bit.ly/2rJLUtN

The Vatican Replaced Its Own Chinese Bishops with the Ones Beijing Nominated

Well-known Chinese news site Sina recently reported that the Vatican just made a concession to Beijing to give up its sitting Chinese bishops and instead appointed the candidates that the Chinese government nominated. The Vatican has sent a delegation to China to formalize the decision. Retired Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen confirmed the news. In 2011, the Vatican had actually punished one of the China-nominated bishops, Huang Bingzhang, with excommunication. Huang is replacing the original bishop, Zhuang Jianjian, who the Vatican officially appointed in 2006 and who had no negative record. For more than one month in 2017, the Chinese police detained another bishop who the Vatican previously appointed, Guo Xijin. Both of these original bishops felt the decision that the Vatican made to remove them was unacceptable.

Source: Sina, January 23, 2018
http://dailynews.sina.com/gb/news/int/cna/20180123/04148224186.html

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