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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

Radio France Internationale: Awkward Silent Moment of the Foreign Press

Radio France Internationale published an article titled “The Awkward Silent Moment of the Foreign Press in China.” The article described a recent incident involving a direct verbal conflict between the foreign press stationed in China and Hua Chunying, Deputy Director of the Foreign Ministry Information Department. During the conflict, many foreign reporters chose to remain silent fearing they would lose their press visa. The conflict started during a regular media conference that the Foreign Ministry held on January 30. On the same day, the FCCC (the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in China) published a report which stated that over 40 percent of the foreign reporters stationed in China felt that they faced worse treatment in 2017. That number was 29 percent in 2016. The report also commented that, based on strong evidence, it is getting more and more difficult for foreign reporters to report news in many regions, especially in Xinjiang where, in 2017, 73 percent of the foreign reporters were either denied access or given limited access. That number was 42 percent in 2016. During the media conference, one reporter raised a question about the FCCC report and asked what China would do to improve the situation. Hua Chunying bluntly countered and said that the claims in the report were sheer nonsense and asked all the reporters at the conference to raise their hands if they agreed with the FCCC report. None of them raised their hands. China’s Huanqiu reported on this incident and praised Hua for her response. On February 1, one Japanese Sankei Shimbun reporter spoke up during that day’s press conference and said that he was not present during the media conference on January 30; he agreed with the FCCC report and wished that China would do something to improve the situation that the media faced. That question angered Hua Chunying. She asked how many of the 600 foreign reporters belonged to FCCC and why Sankei Shimbun was the only media that felt that they were mistreated. She stated that Sankei Shimbun reporters should reflect upon themselves to find out if they did anything wrong. On Sina Weibo, Hua’s response received wide support. Some posts even suggested that the Sankei Shimbun Japanese reporter should be expelled from China.

Source: Radio France Internationale, February 2, 2018
http://cn.rfi.fr/中国/20180202-驻华外国记者们的难堪沉默

Radio France Internationale: Two of the Bishops that Pope Francis Accepted Have Their Own Families

Radio France Internationale reported that in order to repair the relationship with Beijing, Pope Francis said he will accept seven candidates from the “patriotic churches” in China as the Catholic bishops in China. According to a report from Apple Daily, two of the seven candidates have mistresses and children. According to one scholar from the Hong Kong Baptist University, these candidates, who the Chinese Communist Party selected, are “total garbage” because they are the existing members of the Bishops Conference of the Catholic Church in China and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. The Chinese Communist Party controls both. It is very likely that they will face resistance and disapproval from the church members in China.

Source: Radio France Internationale, February 3, 2018
http://cn.rfi.fr/中国/20180203-获教宗接受大陆主教其中两人传已有家室

VOA: Xi Jinping Changed the Selection Criteria for National People’s Congress Delegate

On January 30, China announced that the first meeting of the Thirteenth National People’s Congress will be held in Beijing on March 5. As of the current time, the delegate name list has been finalized. It is particularly notable that, like a few other top leaders of the country, Xi Jinping made the delegate list from Inner Mongolia which is a different region from his residency. Voice of America published an article which was based on a panel discussion on how top leaders get assigned to a region which can be different the location of their residence. One panel commented that Xi changed the delegate selection criteria in 2013. Prior to 2013, leaders of the central administration needed to be assigned to a local region where they might have had work experience or which was their birthplace. The new regulation, after 2013, has the delegate selection tied to three requirements instead: the “one belt one road” project, an ethnic minority region, and a poverty relief target region. This is also an indication that Xi changed the rule to prevent the members of the top leadership from being assigned to a region with which they were familiar and where they, consequently, exercise too much influence. One panel also touched upon the delegate selection from Hong Kong. He said that the so called National Congress delegate does not represent the interests of the Hong Kong people. The Hong Kong people did not selected them and they don’t have an office in Hong Kong, so the people in Hong Kong do not know where to find them to raise their voice. He stated that the National People’s Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference are just like a flower vase and just like a voting machine. They don’t represent anyone other than the interest of the ruling party.

Source: Voice of America, February 1, 2018
https://www.voachinese.com/a/voaweishi-20180201-io-china-npr-xi/4234699.html

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