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Geo-Strategic Trend - 2. page

Chinese Embassy in Pakistan Collects Personal Data on Muslim Students from China; Many Disappear after Called Back to China

The Chinese Embassy in Pakistan is now comprehensively collecting personal information on local Chinese Muslim students. At present, more than 400 students have surrendered their information, but it was against their will. A few years ago, Chinese embassies in Egypt and other countries had already registered Muslim students. There were incidents in which Muslim students were repatriated and called back to China after which they disappeared. People familiar with the situation revealed that their personal information had been shared with security authorities.

Students from International Islamic University, Islamabad (IIUI) broke the story on January 2nd. The collected information included [the Muslim student’s] passport number, WeChat account, phone number, address in both China and Pakistan, and their major area of study. The “Chinese Students Association in Pakistan, IIUI Chapter,” implemented the procedure. According to a notice circulated on the a Wechat group of IIUI students, IIUI’s Chinese Student Association required that, by New Year’s eve, Chinese students submit registration forms, which were to be submitted to the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan for archival registration. If anyone refused to submit the registration form, the Chinese Embassy would not process their graduation certification. The registration form also printed a warning: “if there is any concealment of the information, the registrant will bear the consequences.”

Huang Hao, vice chairman of the Chinese Students Association at IIUI told Radio Free Asia that the round of registration involved 700 to 800 Chinese students at IIUI. He also acknowledged that the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan had appointed him to do this. However, Huang refused to answer questions about the purpose of the collection.

At present, there are seven or eight hundred Chinese students studying at IIUI. Most of them are Muslim students from Ningxia, Xinjiang, Qinhai, Henan, and Yunnan provinces. Some study Islamic philosophy and Islamic history, others study Arabic, economics, and education.

Ma Ju, a Muslim current affairs commentator now living in the United States, told Radio Free Asia that, as early as the summer of 2016, in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the Chinese embassy registered local Muslim students who held a Chinese passport. In July 2017, the Deputy Minister of Public Security traveled to Cairo and worked with the Egyptian military government to arrest approximately 75 Chinese Muslim students after which they repatriate 52 students. After the incident, all local Chinese students were registered and their data were transmitted back to China. Many students disappeared after local police called them back. In addition, the embassy took control of information about Chinese Muslim students at several universities in Jordan.

Source: Radio Free Asia, January 5, 2019
https://www.rfa.org/cantonese/news/pakistan-student-01052020084821.html

Lianhe Zaobao: Chinese International Acquisitions Fell to Ten Year Low

Singapore’s primary Chinese language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao recently reported that China saw its lowest level of overseas acquisitions in 2019, with a total value of US$41 billion. This is half the size of the 2018 volume and less than 20 percent of the volume for the peak year of 2016. The acquisitions in the U.S. declined by 80 percent in 2019, year-over-year. Analysts in the global banking industry expressed the belief that the sharp overseas acquisition decline was the direct result of the U.S.-China trade war and the significantly tightened government regulatory measures imposed in many countries against Chinese buyers. In the meantime, with the economic slow-down in China, the Chinese government is also strictly controlling the volume of capital flowing out of China, making Chinese investors work much harder than before to shrink the debt level. It is especially difficult for Chinese investors to pay back the debts acquired overseas. It is expected that more domestic investments will be seen in China than overseas.

Source: Lianhe Zaobao, December 31, 2019
https://www.zaobao.com.sg/realtime/china/story20191231-1017412

Apple Daily: China Replaced Mainland HK Liaison Office Director

Major Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily recently reported that Luo Huining, former Secretary of the Shanxi Provincial Party Committee and current Deputy Chairman of the Finance and Economic Committee of the National People’s Congress has replaced Wang Zhimin, Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. It is no coincidence that Wang’s replacement happened at a time when the social stability of Hong Kong was at high risk. Many anonymous sources thought that the central government was extremely unhappy with the handling of the recent Hong Kong movement for democracy and freedom. The Liaison Office is the central government’s direct representative in Hong Kong. Wang is the Liaison Office Director with the shortest term since Hong Kong returned to China in 1997. According to past records, the new Director Luo Huining has no previous experience on Hong Kong related matters. At the age of 65, he is very close to retirement. Many analysts expressed the belief that Luo is on a temporary assignment. The Hong Kong government issued a statement welcoming the new Liaison Office Director.

Source: Apple Daily, January 4, 2020
https://tw.appledaily.com/new/realtime/20200104/1686446/

Yazhou Zhoukan Magazine Selected the Hong Kong Police as the “People of the Year”

Yazhou Zhoukan (亚洲周刊) is a widely circulated Chinese-language weekly magazine in Asia, headquartered in Hong Kong. Michael O’Neill and Thomas Hon Wing Polin, who also established the magazine Asiaweek, created it in December 1987. The Ming Pao group owns this magazine after purchasing it from Times Warner in 1994. Yau Lop Poon is the editor-in-chief.

Recently, Yazhou Zhoukan selected the Hong Kong Police as its “People of the Year” for 2019. The top story of its most recent issue published 7,000 Chinese letters that praised the Hong Kong police as their “guardian angel” and the “anchor that stabilizes the sea,” which, at the critical moment, “impacted the path of history and safeguarded Hong Kong’s rule of law.” It called the Hong Kong police “the most twisted and most insulted” group but also the “most dependent and most respected group.” It claimed that it was all because of the police that the “Hong Kong people maintained their freedom without fear.”

Many people criticized Yazhou Zhoukan for lining up with the Chinese Communist Party and ignoring the simple facts in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s renowned Chinese-language fiction writer Dung Kai Cheung posted on his Facebook site that he refused to have his novel “Mingzi” named in Yazhou Zhoukan’s 2019 Top Ten Novel List.

Wang Dan, a student leader at the June 4th Student Movement and dissident from China, called for people to boycott the magazine. “There are plenty of media even without this one,” Wang wrote on his Facebook page. “We must take the bad media off the shelf!”

Source: Radio France International, January 4, 2020
http://www.rfi.fr/cn/港澳台/20200104-香港亚洲周刊评选香港警察为年度风云人物备受争议

Chinese Ski Team Demanded Library in Norway Remove a Falun Gong Book

According to Norwegian media reports, a Chinese skiing delegation, currently training in Merok, Norway, demanded that a local library remove a Falun Gong related book. The reason was that the Chinese government banned those books in China in 1999. The librarian, however, categorically rejected the Chinese delegation’s demand.

Library manager Anne Marken told the Norwegian newspaper Trondheim, “Norway has freedom of speech, so we can’t comply with their request.” In preparation for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, more than 40 Chinese cross-country ski athletes and 15 coaches are training in Norway. The training is one of the exchange projects between China and Norway.

The Trondheim pointed out that in the past few weeks there have been three controversial incidents related to Chinese literary works in Merok’s local library. Library manager Marken told The Trondheim, “Three individuals have now asked us to take down that Falun Gong book. In addition, some others have made similar requests for three other books on our shelves. They said that if members of the Chinese ski team were found reading such books, they might be sent to a labor camp or prison in China.”

Marken emphasized that she told the Chinese ski team representatives that all the books in the library are available for ski team members to read, but the library will never remove any books because of the ski team’s request.

This is not the first time that Chinese groups have exerted pressure on foreign institutions overseas. In November 2019, China threatened to retaliate after the Swedish PEN awarded the Tucholsky Prize to Gui Minhai, a book dealer the Chinese regime abducted and who has been detained since 2015. After that incident, China announced that it cancelled plans for two business delegations to visit Sweden.

Source: Deutsche Welle, January 3, 2020
https://p.dw.com/p/3VewO

China-Cambodia Cultural Tourism Year

“Cultural Tourism Year” is an effective mechanism for China to build a close relationship with a target country and then exert its influence. People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, reported that 2019 is the China-Cambodia Cultural Tourism Year. The cultural and tourism authorities of the two countries have organized multiple cultural tourist activities, which has promoted the development of Cambodia’s tourism resources.

In recent years, the number of Chinese tourists to Cambodia has continued to grow. Because of the Cultural Tourism Year programs, there was an increase in the first 10 months of 2019. Chinese tourists to Cambodia exceeded 2.02 million, a year-on-year increase of 24.4 percent, accounting for 38.3 percent of the total foreign tourists to the Southeast Asian country. Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism estimated that the total number of Chinese tourists visiting Cambodia in 2019 will exceed 2.5 million and the figure is expected to reach 3 million in 2020. China has been Cambodia’s largest source of overseas tourists.

The tourism industry also benefits from the convenience of transportation. At present, cities in Cambodia including Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville have direct flights with dozens of cities in China. On a weekly basis, there are about 500 flights between China and Cambodia. The Cambodian government is also striving to open alternative tourist routes to China by both land and sea.

In 2019, China and Cambodia organized a series of cultural tourism exchange activities, including “Knowing China · Jiangsu Cultural Week,” the Lancang-Mekong River Cultural Tourism Exchange, the China-Lao-Cambodia Historical Sites Self-Driving Tour, and the 4th China-Cambodia Excellent Film Tour. At the same time, the Cambodian National Museum went to China to participate in the “Exhibition of Treasures from National Museums along the Silk Road” and the “Joint Exhibition of Asian Civilizations.”

Source: People’s Daily, December 29, 2019
http://paper.people.com.cn/rmrb/html/2019-12/29/nw.D110000renmrb_20191229_1-03.htm