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Zambia’s Official Newspaper Publishes Article in Chinese

Times of Zambia, a state-owned newspaper in Zambia, published an article in Chinese on Tuesday October 2, sparking widespread controversy.

Civil society groups condemned the newspaper for publishing in Chinese which is not the main local language. They suspect that the Zambian government was using the tactic to win over Chinese sponsors, who have loaned hundreds of millions of dollars to the country in the past few years.

Laura Miti, leader of the Alliance for Community Action and a human rights activist, told Voice of America, “This is very sudden. If it were April 1, it might be considered an April Fool’s Day joke.”

She said, “I think this is a very real feeling. If we are not careful, one day we will wake up and find that we have become a province of China.”

Earlier, the Zambia Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services and Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya said on Twitter, “Times of Zambia is aiming to increase revenue by targeting the Chinese market. Today’s edition has a Chinese version of the top story. They want to tap into Chinese advertising.”

But many people expressed disappointment on social media, saying that the newspaper undermined Zambia’s sovereignty.

Source: Voice of America, October 2, 2018

Pakistan Cuts Chinese Rail Project because of Debt Concerns

According to the Pakistan’s Railways Ministry, Islamabad has cut the budget of the biggest Chinese “Silk Road” project by US$2 billion, citing government concerns about the country’s debt levels.

The project planned to revamp the existing and outdated railway stretching 1,872 km (1,163 miles) from Karachi to the city of Peshawar. The initial price was US$8.2 billion, but concerns over the tremendous costs have led to delays.

The new Prime Minister Imran Khan appears to be more cautious about the Chinese “Belt and Road” investment. His government pressured the Chinese government to revise the project so that it will rely less on debt or allow third countries to join in the investment and operations.

On Monday, in the city of Lahore, Railway Minister Sheikh Rasheed told a news conference, “Pakistan is a poor country that cannot afford the huge burden of these loans.”

Other Asian countries including Thailand, Laos, Sri Lanka, and Maldives also complained about the debt terms of Chinese investment projects, which many people have also called a “debt trap.” In August this year, Malaysia’s new Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad cancelled a US$20 billion Chinese railway project.

Source: Voice of America Chinese, October 1, 2018

RFI Chinese: HK Publicly Traded Mainland Companies Are Setting Up Party Branches

Radio France Internationale (RFI) Chinese Edition recently reported that Mainland companies that trade publicly in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange are establishing branches of the Chinese Communist Party. Chinese President Xi Jinping has required that state-owned companies must “strengthen the party leadership.” In the past one and a half years, 123 Mainland companies have formalized the party structure in their company charters and have given operational rights and financial interests to the CCP branches. These are about 5.43 percent of all companies publicly traded in Hong Kong. Some of these companies even put it in writing that, in case there is a conflict of interest between the party and the shareholders, the party’s interest has a higher priority. Market analysts pointed out that it is highly questionable whether or not the old “hidden rules” could just be legalized like that. It is even more ridiculous for the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to have allowed this to happen. Eight of the 123 companies are Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index constituent stocks. Further research showed that the amended company charters typically require one percent of the company’s total compensation cost to be used for Party branch activities. For critical decisions, the party branch must discuss and agree first, and then the decisions will be passed on to the board for voting.

Source: RFI Chinese, September 26, 2018

India Excluded Huawei and ZTE from Experimental 5G Network

Well-known Chinese news site Sina recently reported that the Indian government just announced its decision to exclude China’s Huawei and ZTE from its experimental 5G network project. In a press conference, a Chinese government spokesperson commented that China did notice such a report and that the Chinese government always encourages Chinese companies overseas to follow local laws and regulations. However, China also expects other countries to provide a fair, just and transparent business environment for Chinese companies. The spokesperson also suggested that the Chinese-India trade relationship is essentially a win-win situation and that the current relationship is satisfactory overall. He did not answer a question asking whether the Chinese government got in touch with the Indian government on this specific matter or not.

Source: Sina, September 19, 2018

Central News Agency: CCTV Alleges China National Security Agency Uncovered over 100 Cases of Mainland Students Spying for Taiwan

Central News Agency (CNA) reported that, on September 15, CCTV aired a news report in which it alleged that Taiwan Intelligence has been recruiting mainland students to be spies. The news report claimed that the Chinese national security agency recently organized the “2018-Thunder” project and “uncovered more than one hundred Taiwan spy cases, arrested a group of Taiwanese spies, and promptly cut off the Taiwan spy intelligence network with the mainland.” After the news broadcast, CCTV followed up with a “Focus Report” program which aired three cases in which students from the mainland were recruited to be spies for Taiwan. The program contains photos and “real names” of the “Taiwan Military Intelligence Bureau members.” One think tank member in Beijing told CNA privately that it is not surprising that the official media aired this type of program because of the ongoing tension between Taiwan and the mainland. Recently Al Jazeera aired a news piece about certain political groups in Taiwan that receive financial support from the mainland. Therefore CCTV’s coverage on mainland students spying for Taiwan can be viewed as a “reasonable” counterattack from Beijing.

Source: Central News Agency, September 15, 2018

China-Vatican Deal a Blow to Taiwan’s Diplomacy

China and the Vatican recently made a historical breakthrough in their relations. They reached an interim agreement wherein the Holy See acknowledged the seven bishops that the Communist China appointed. Analysts said that this is a victory for Beijing and will inevitably have an impact on the relationship between the Vatican and Taiwan.

Previously, the Pope did not recognize the bishops that the Chinese government appointed. Although this interim agreement does not mention diplomatic relations, it is generally believed that this will improve the relationship between Beijing and the Holy See. Since 1951, the two countries diplomatic relations have been severed. In recent years, Taiwan has been maneuvering on an increasingly difficult diplomatic stage. The impact is obvious. At present, the Vatican is one of Taiwan’s 17 remaining countries with diplomatic ties. It is the only one in Europe.

Some believers worry that the new agreement will cause Taiwan to lose the Vatican as its most important diplomatic ally. Many experts also agree with this view.

Jonathan Sullivan, director of the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham, described the accord as “a strategic move on China’s part; and a naive one on the Vatican’s.”

YING Fuk Tsang, a theology professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said that Beijing will inevitably use all means to seek recognition from the Holy See. He said that if China succeeds, it will be a major blow to Taiwan’s diplomacy.

Cardinal Joseph Zen, the outspoken former bishop of Hong Kong, accused Vatican officials of “selling out” ahead of Saturday’s agreement. In a blog posted shortly after the announcement he raised concern over its impact.

The cardinal wrote, “What will the (Chinese) government say to Catholics in China? ‘Obey us. The Holy See is already in agreement with us?’”

Recently underground churches in China have been raided, bulldozers have torn them down, or they were asked to hang China’s national flag. Religious materials have been confiscated and the clergy has been pressured to reveal personal information about believers to the authorities.

An underground clergyman said that they were afraid because the Sino-Vatican provisional agreement did not mention any measures of protection that would be available for them and their followers. One priest said that believers “have doubts about the government’s sincerity.”

Source: Deutsche Welle Chinese, September 23, 2018

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