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Censorship and Surveillance at Australian Universities

Recently a number of controversial incidents involving restriction on freedom of speech have been reported on Australian university campuses. Scholars have criticized Australian universities for catering to Beijing and for suppressing academic freedom and freedom of speech. The Australian reported on August 7 that the Australian Federal Minister of Education Dan Tehan will launch an investigation into the university’s speech and academic freedom environment.

Below is a list of some recent incidents:
1. On July 31, the University of New South Wales twitter account shared a link to an article that expressed concerns about the human rights situation in Hong Kong. A few hours later, this post was deleted due to pressure from Chinese students. The incident was exposed and drew considerable criticism. On August 5, the President of the University admitted that deleting the tweet was a mistake and that, “There is no excuse for mistakes. … We clearly reaffirm our previous commitment to freedom of speech and academic freedom.” However in a separate university statement published in Chinese, the wording was different. The Chinese statement read, “Due to the misleading content, the school has deleted this tweet. We are deeply disturbed by the trouble this incident has caused to you. Thank you all for your understanding.”

The University of New South Wales has 16,000 foreign students from China. They account for 25 percent of the total students; 68.8 percent of foreign students; and they contribute 22 percent of the university’s income. The University of New South Wales is reported to have launched a “Torch Innovation Precinct” project with China which includes a training program for PLA scientists.

2. On August 5, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that a professor from the School of Engineering at Charles Darwin University used the wording “Chinese Wuhan COVID-19 virus outbreak” in an assignment. It caused dissatisfaction among many Chinese students. After the Chinese students filed complaints, the school apologized and the professor changed the wording of the homework.

3. A Chinese student studying in Melbourne and her family members in China were harassed and the officers from State Security in China warned them against the student’s organizing events on campus and being outspoken about her position on Hong Kong and COVID 19.

4. Another Chinese student, Kevin, who did not want his real name to be used due to security reasons is currently studying for a graduate degree at the University of Sydney. He said that there are roughly three types of surveillance on campus: one is the embassy’s direct surveillance; the second is from fellow students; the third is from the local Chinese media because the CCP has infiltrated them. The media employees would take photos, conduct online searches, and indirectly assist the CCP in conducting overseas surveillance. Kevin said he felt afraid because he has to deal with this kind threat overseas.

Source: Radio Free Asia, August 7, 2020

China Opens its First Military Hospital Train

China News reported that on August 6, China opened the Xinqiao Hospital train, the first military hospital train in China. The train consists of boxcars that serve purposes such as a command center, medical care, surgical emergency, intensive care, and medical technical support. It is the equivalent of a mobile hospital with the capacity to load 500 wounded personnel and it can carry out surgical first aid, intensive care, virtual treatment, and other medical services during transportation. There are two dedicated railroad lines for the hospital train which are located on the east side of Xinqiao university hospital. The railroad lines connect to the national railroad network through the nearby Chongqing (Sichuan province)–Guiyang (Guizhou province) Railway. The Xinqiao Hospital train will be used as a hospital train and carry out corresponding medical training. In wartime or military operations, however, it will perform strategic support and emergency rescue tasks. It will also deliver medical support and services to the country  and to regions along the belt and road areas.

Source: Chinanews, August 7, 2020

CCP Members Are the Backbone of ByteDance

Epoch Times reported on August 4, 2020, that it had obtained an internal list of the Communist Party committee members at ByteDance headquarters in Beijing. ByteDance is the parent of TikTok.

Among the members is Zhang Fuping, Secretary of ByteDance’s CCP Committee and ByteDance’s Chief Editor. The internal list shows that Zhang Fuping joined the CCP in 2013.

As Chief Editor, Zhang Fuping is responsible for all of the contents of ByteDance and TikTok.  In April 2018, at an internal CCP training session that Zhang chaired at ByteDance on guiding public opinion, he stated that, “[We] must stay true to the main responsibility of the enterprise and absolutely not allow the Internet to become a platform for the transmission of harmful information and rumors.”

In September 2019, Zhang Fuping presided over an opening ceremony for the Ministry of Public Security in which online police were launched to be able to monitor, through special TikTok accounts, the user’s activities on TikTok. These online policemen came from over 170 national, provincial, and regional online police organizations. Zhang Hongye, Deputy Director of the Online Security Department under the Ministry of Public Security, stated that the purpose of these special accounts was to take advantage of TikTok to enhance the government’s capacity to maintain social stability.

According to the internal list that Epoch Times obtained, the ByteDance headquarters’ CCP committee has 138 members. Of the 138, most were born in the 1990s and are young and energetic. They all are in corporate management or professional and technical positions and are the backbone responsible for the company’s operations.

Source: Epoch Times, August 4, 2020


Has China Developed a Nuclear Missile Early Warning System?

Kyodo News Agency learned on August 2 that a nuclear missile expert from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said that China has an early warning system that can detect nuclear missiles before they land and can use nuclear weapons to counterattack. The expert pointed out that at present only the United States and Russia possess this technology. If the claim is true, China will enhance its nuclear combat capability and change the world’s strategic balance.

The early warning system is the key to high-end missile defense (MD) technology, composed of manmade satellites and maritime radar, used for detecting the launch of ballistic missiles. China has always been opposed to the United States’ missile defense development.

Yang Chengjun (杨承军) is a retired officer who served for years in Chinese military’s nuclear missile forces, also known as the PLA Rocket Forces. He is also widely known as a security expert in the National Security Commission of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Yang’s article, titled, “It is inappropriate to hype up nuclear-related issues on the Internet,” was published in a government magazine, Motherland (祖国)” (electronic version on May 12). It states that the Chinese military has an early warning system that can detect nuclear missile attacks within minutes after their launch and conduct a nuclear counterattack before they land. He emphasized that China’s comprehensive nuclear combat capability is not inferior to the United States or Russia.

The system is said to be able to detect nuclear missiles in three stages: the initial stage after launch, the intermediate stage of cruising beyond the atmosphere, and the final stage of returning to the atmosphere. If a counterattack can be carried out within a few minutes, it implies that China has mastered the technology to use early warning satellites to detect heat sources during launch. China is believed to be developing this technology.

Source: Kyodo News Chinese, August 2, 2020

Serbia Purchases China’s Missile Defense System

Serbia has purchased a new generation of medium-range radar-guided surface-to-air missiles from China. The move is considered the latest sign of deepening cooperation between Beijing and Belgrade.

According to Reuters report on August 3, “the purchase of the FK-3 missile defense system was included in the state-run arms company Jugoimport SDPR’s annual report, submitted to the state Business Registers Agency last week and seen by Reuters.”

The FK-3 is an export version of China’s latest generation of HQ-22 medium-range air defense missiles, which first appeared at the 2016 Zhuhai Air Show.

“Jugoimport SDPR said it made 163 import deals with 31 countries for $620.3 million in 2019. The weapons purchases included armed drones from China and Europe’s first known purchase of the FK-3.”

The FK-3 air defense missile, which Serbia purchased has a maximum range of 100 kilometers and a shooting height of 50 meters to 27,000 meters. The source said that Serbia has purchased 3 sets of FK-3 systems.

“In late June, Serbia’s air force received six CH-92A combat drones armed with laser-guided missiles, the first such deployment of Chinese unmanned aerial vehicles in Europe.”

China’s state media Global Times said that this drone is mainly used for reconnaissance and surveillance, but it also has certain strike capabilities.

The Serbian military traditionally uses the technology of the former Soviet Union. In recent years, Belgrade has purchased MiG-29 fighter jets, missiles, helicopters, tanks and armored personnel carriers from Russia.

China has been pumping money into Balkan countries, mainly on soft loans, infrastructure and energy projects. Beijing sees Serbia as part of its “One Belt, One Road” initiative and an important springboard to enter the Balkans.

In April last year, the Chinese government stated that, under the framework of the “One Belt, One Road,” the cooperation between the two countries achieved remarkable results. In the past six years, until 2019, the bilateral trade volume increased by 55.7 percent; the number of tourists from China to Serbia has also increased significantly. 2018 saw more than 100,000 Chinese tourists; the total contractual value of infrastructure construction projects of Chinese-funded enterprises exceeded US$5 billion. In recent years, China’s construction in the western Balkans and issuance of preferential loans in the name of promoting the development of infrastructure has attracted widespread international attention. The European Union expressed its concern that Southeast European countries in the western Balkans might suffer from China’s “debt trap diplomacy.”

Source: Voice of America, August 3, 2020

Samsung Closed Its Last PC Factory in China

Voice of America (VOA) Chinese Edition recently reported that, on August 1, Samsung announced  that it is closing its last personal computer manufacturing factory in China – Samsung Electronics Suzhou Computer. Over 800 employees may see their contracts end. The Suzhou factory was established in 2002. It is Samsung’s only laptop manufacturing factory in the world. Last year, Samsung closed its last cellphone manufacturing factory in China and moved to Vietnam. That closure had a major economic impact locally. Now Samsung has only two factories left in China. One makes LCD displays and the other makes DRAM memory chips. Experts pointed out that, in the past two years, with the trade war, the coronavirus pandemic, and the worsening U.S.-China relations, the global supply chain is rapidly moving out of China and moving to countries such as Vietnam, India and Mexico. The trend is especially clear for companies from the United States, Japan, South Korea and Europe. At the same time, China’s low labor cost advantage has been weakening as well.

Source: VOA Chinese, August 1, 2020

Global Times: India to Increase Troops along India-China Border

Global Times recently reported that, according to Indian media quoting anonymous sources, India plans to send 35,000 more troops to strengthen its military presence along its border with China. The reasoning behind the decision is that the Indian government found the probability of quickly reducing the tension between the two countries is getting lower. Although some recent negotiations cooled down the situation, yet there are still plenty of issues left that have not been resolved. This new decision of adding troops is expected to add a greater burden to India’s tight defense budget as well. Some Indian military leaders said it has been more than a couple of weeks with no improvements on the ground. A full disengagement between the two armies was not achieved. In the meantime, the Indian government just announced new trade sanctions and investment restrictions against China.

Source: Global Times, August 1, 2020

Three Major Portuguese Telecom Operators Refuse to Use Huawei 5G

Well-known Chinese news site Tencent News recently reported that all three Portuguese telecommunications operators, NOS, Altice and Vodafone, announced they will not use Huawei’s 5G technology in their 5G networks. This is the fourth European country, after Britain, France, and Italy, to refuse to use Huawei 5G. The three companies explained that the reason for their choice was purely technical. The decision was made despite an estimated total financial loss of 1.1 billion Euros and a no-risk conclusion of a government risk assessment. In the meantime, Huawei has lost its primary chip supplier TSMC, due to the U.S. ban based on the use of U.S. technology. It appears Huawei is slowly losing the entire European market. The latest data showed that the European company Ericsson has signed 99 contracts for 5G deployments. This achievement surpassed Huawei, making Ericsson the world’s number one 5G supplier.

Source: Tencent News, July 31, 2020

People Cheer as China Closes U.S. Consulate in Chengdu

On Friday July 24, after China announced the closure of the U.S. consulate general in Chengdu, China’s official media, including CCTV  began broadcasting live images outside the consulate on social media platforms. At the peak, more than 20 million people were watching. The state media showed images of trucks leaving the U.S. consulate, while the signs and nameplates on the outer wall of the consulate were being removed. Many people went to the consulate for a visit. Some of them held Chinese flags and tried to take a picture in front of the consulate. Dozens of police officers were stationed outside the consulate. They asked onlookers not to stay and tried to stop any provocative behavior. Fire trucks were also at the scene to prevent possible accidents. One man was taken into police custody because he was shouting, “China Add Oil (Go China)! I am a Chinese.” The police fined another man because he tried to light a fire cracker outside the consulate. When a bus with brown tinted glass left the consulate, the onlookers started booing. One 63-year-old man told Reuters that closing the consulate was a reciprocal action that China took against the US. Another video circulating online showed a man between 50 and 60 years old choked up. He said, “The U.S. should be a friend.” Many others were afraid to speak to the media and refused to be interviewed.

In this diplomatic war between the U.S. and China, Zhuang Zuyi, the wife of Jim Mullinax, the American consulate general in Chengdu, and a Taiwanese food writer was also accidentally involved. Zhuang often writes on Weibo about food and life in Chengdu and never hides her love for Sichuan province. She has performed on the street of Chengdu and has close to 600,000 followers on Weibo. Since the news of the closure of the Chengdu consulate, Zhuang’s social media account has been flooded with thousands of angry comments calling her “spy” and “Taiwan Independent.”

The US Embassy in China posted a video and wrote on its official Twitter account on Monday, July 27, “Today, we bid farewell to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu. We will always miss you.” People commented that they appreciated the help from the US. They are hoping for a free China and are looking forward to the return of the consulate back in Chengdu in the near future.

1. BBC Chinese, July 27, 2020

2. Epoch Times, July 27, 2020

Former PLA Officer: CCP Will Collapse If China and the US Go to War in the South China Sea

Radio Free Asia reported that, in an interview with Yao Chen, the former CCP navy Command Lieutenant Colonel, Yao said that if China and the U.S. start a war in the South China Sea, the CCP will soon collapse.

According to Yao, the CCP’s military strength is far less than that of the US military. If the two sides confront each other in the South China Sea using their navies and air force, he estimated that it will take less than a day for the U.S. military’s F-35 stealth fighters to destroy the CCP’s navy and air force. He said that the U.S. policy toward China does not show it intends to occupy China’s territory, but the CCP’s current expansion in the South China Sea has touched the bottom line for the Western world, especially the U.S. Yao said that once the U.S. and China go to war in the South China Sea, there may also be a military confrontation on a border, such as the China-Indian border and a resistance from Uyghurs in Tibet and Xinjiang. Yao Chen also believes that, if the U.S. and China have a military confrontation, Japan and ASEAN countries would all support the U.S. As soon as the CCP launches its military force, it is expected that the whole world will stand up to resist China. Therefore, as long as the CCP starts a war, it will soon to collapse.

Source: Radio Free Asia, July 31, 2020