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Taiwan Develops Humanitarian Assistance Program for Hong Kong Citizens

As Beijing pushed forward and imposed a new national security law on Hong Kong, Chen Ming-Tong, Minister of the Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), announced on Thursday May 29 that Taiwan developed the Hong Kong Humanitarian Assistance Action Plan in accordance with Article 18 of the “Laws and Regulations Regarding Hong Kong & Macao Affairs.” The plan contains four principles: the government takes the lead; MAC is in charge of cross-agency collaboration; the government establishes and implements a legal entity; funding comes from the government’s budget.

Chen made it clear that Taiwan will adopt a two-part policy and treat Hong Kong citizens and the Hong Kong government separately. It will definitely not treat the Hong Kong people the same as it treats the people from mainland China. “Article 18 is for the Hong Kong people who want to come to Taiwan. For example, if a person is a financial professional or has technological talent and he wants to come to Taiwan, we have an overall plan to make it more convenient. The policy objective includes what happens after people come, how they deal with their resettlement, and how they take care of their lives. All of these are in this action plan.”

Chen added, “As the golden standard of Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy has declined, we must have second thoughts. In the past we regarded Hong Kong as the third (independent) place in politics. Now, with Beijing’s imposition of the National Security Law, then, on the issue of national security, does the Hong Kong government carry out its own will or Beijing’s? Because the national security goal of Beijing is to unify Taiwan and wipe out the Republic of China, we have concerns about our national security. At this point, Article 60 applies to the future situation of the Hong Kong government. We must evaluate and may consider suspending part of the act if it jeopardizes our national security.” Article 60 of the “Laws and Regulations Regarding Hong Kong & Macao Affairs” is a provision to enable Taiwan to respond when “any change occurs in the situation of Hong Kong or Macau such that the implementation of this Act endangers the security of Taiwan.”

Source: Radio Free Asia, May 28, 2020

HKET: Polls Showed Strong Canadian Public Opinion against China and Huawei

Hong Kong Economic Times (HKET), the leading financial daily in Hong Kong, recently reported that, based on the latest polls conducted by the Angus Reid Institute, the number of Canadians with positive views about China reached a record low. Among the 1,518 people surveyed, only 14 percent viewed China positively. The same number was 29 percent six months ago. Around 85 percent of the sample expressed the belief that the Chinese government was not honest on reporting the status of the coronavirus. The poll also showed that 78 percent of the people were against allowing Huawei into Canada’s 5G network. At the same time, 88 percent said China could not be trusted on human rights and the rule of law. Only 11 percent of the people now believe Canada should focus on trading with China. This poll was designed to find out the Canadian public’s view about twelve key countries that are important to Canada. Ever since the Chinese government arrested Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, plus sentencing Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to death, the Canadian public’s view on China has rapidly turned negative.

Source: HKET, May 14, 2020

China’s Spy Activities in Belgium

The State Security Service, the Veiligheid van de Staat (VSSE), a Belgian state intelligence agency, recently spoke out about China’s spy activities in the military and scientific arena posing threats to EU security.

In October 2019, Belgium declared Song Xinning, the Confucius Institute president of the Free University of Brussels (VUB), as persona non grata, revoking his visa and banning his entry into the 26 European Schengen states for 8 years. During his ten-year tenure at VUB, Song had engaged in espionage activities for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and was regarded as “sabotaging national security.”

“As part of the ambitious ‘Made in China 2025’ project, which provides for rapid development of know-how in China itself, all available means must be used to import as much knowledge as possible into China,” the VSSE told the EUobserver, a not-for-profit online newspaper based in Brussels, when it was describing China’s goal of siphoning information from abroad. “These include formal knowledge transfer programmes, such as exchanges between researchers, joint ventures, and takeovers of companies. In some cases, China also does economic espionage.”

On May 7, the EUobserver disclosed some details of some confidential VSSE reports dated from 2010 to 2016, which stated that Chinese spies have targeted Belgian biological warfare and vaccine experts, British pharmaceutical giant and vaccine-maker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in Belgium and Belgian high-tech firms.

VSSE is also concerned about the China Belgium Technology Centre (CBTC), a Chinese-funded “smart valley” in Louvain-la-Neuve. It houses 23 Chinese and Belgian firms in the life sciences, IT, and high-tech manufacturing sectors, and will house up to 800 Chinese high-tech specialists and entrepreneurs when it is completed in late 2021. “And even if the CBTC itself was not a front for Chinese intelligence, it could be used by the MSS (Ministry of State Security) as a back door in the future, the VSSE warned.”

On May 15, the French newspaper Le Monde,  also reported on long-held VSSE suspicions that Chinese intelligence had installed surveillance equipment in Malta’s EU embassy in Brussels in 2007, when a Chinese firm renovated the building.

Source: Radio Free Asia, May 15, 2020.
EUobserver, May 6, 2020

ABC News Chinese: China Banned Imports from Four Australian Meat Providers

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) News, Chinese Edition, recently reported that China just announced a new import ban on four Australian meat providers, three of which are from Queensland and one from New South Wales. Most analysts expressed the belief that this new trade barrier is obviously retaliation against Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who insisted on an independent investigation into the source of COVID-19. The four companies banned are Kilcoy Pastoral, Beef City, Dinmore, and Northern Cooperative Meat. These four companies hold a 35 percent share of the total Australian beef exports to China, which is expected to be AU$3.5 billion (around US$2.25 billion) this year. The Australian government explained that the new ban is related to “highly technical” issues. Last month, the Chinese ambassador to Australia threatened that, if Australia were to investigate China’s handling of COVID-19, Chinese consumers might strongly resist Australian goods. Ironically, one of the companies, Kilcoy, is funded by Chinese investments. China is Australia’s largest trade partner.

Source: ABC News Chinese, May 12, 2020

China Cancels Entrance Exam for Foreign Students amid Concerns over Brainwashing

Undergraduate programs in a few top universities in China are canceling their entrance exams for foreign students. Parents of domestic students feel angry; others believe that, as Beijing’s Confucius Institute program faces growing resistance overseas, this is a way to work around to the brainwashing of foreign kids.

In early May, Peking University posted on its website a “Notice on the Adjustment of the Undergraduate Entrance Examination Program for International Students in 2020.” It had an explanation that remote interviews, instead of written exams, would be used to admit students, citing concerns about the ongoing epidemic. A few top tier universities, including Tsinghua University, Renmin University of China, and Shanghai Jiaotong University, copied the practice.

Chinese netizens are angry. While Chinese kids have to take a tough college entrance examination, why is it so easy for foreign students to go to a good university? Ms. Zhu told Radio Free Asia (RFA), “As prestigious universities in China, they should give priority to Chinese kids. It is a shame for the Chinese Communist Party to do this.”

Shi Dajun, a Chinese education scholar, believes this policy has everything to do with the resistance that Confucius Institutes (CIs) have received in recent years. “Not only Tsinghua Peking University, but many schools are exempting admission exams for foreign students. After the CIs have been defeated abroad, this is a new direction.”

Mr. Cai, a retired professor from Lanzhou University, told RFA that it may be a strategic measure to attract foreign students, so that China’s totalitarian ideas can be planted in the minds of young Westerners. China provides students in Africa and countries along the “Belt and Road” an annual stipend of 300,000 yuan (US$42,000). “This is a way to bring up a whole pro-China generation and lay a good foundation for friendly relations with these countries. One can say that the state spares no expense in this regard, and is doing something we cannot see.”

Shi Daijun added, “Originally, Beijing wished to use the Confucius Institute to push the patriotic education abroad, as a way to brainwash foreigners. The brainwashing of Chinese people is now almost done. They feel it more urgent to brainwash foreign young people.”

According to the Ministry of Education, the budget for foreign students in China in 2019 was 3.92 billion yuan (US$ 0.55 billion), an increase of 18.1 percent over 2018.

Source: Radio Free Asia, May 11, 2020

“Wuhan Pneumonia” and Academic Freedom in Taiwan

On April 10, a student from mainland China, who was attending the Chung Yuan Christian University in Taiwan, wrote to the university authorities to protest that his professor mentioned the “Wuhan pneumonia caused by the covid-19 virus” in class. He pressed the charge of discrimination. Ming-Wei Chao, the associate professor from the Department of Bioscience Technology, apologized in class and said, “As a professor of the Republic of China, I will not discriminate against the students.” The university, four days later, asked professor Chao to issue another apology for the using the wording “the Republic of China.”

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Taiwan’s cabinet-level agency handling the cross-strait relations, stepped in and launched an investigation. MAC emphasized that institutions of higher education can allow neither self-censorship and interference of teachers’ freedom in conducting lectures, nor measures that hurt the dignity of the nation. MAC said it will work with the Ministry of Education to find out the facts and adopt appropriate administrative actions to safeguard academic freedom.

Source: Central News Agency, May 11, 2020

Beijing Forces Hong Kong and Taiwan Entertainers to Hold Correct Political Views in Order to Work on the Mainland

Beijing has once again tightened its ideological control over the film and television circles in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Recently, it has been reported that the China Film Administration, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television and other movie and television authorities have verbally ordered major film and television companies, including Tencent, iQiyi and other audio-visual companies, to try not to use those Hong Kong or Taiwanese entertainers or behind-the-scenes personnel who have an unknown political view. For those who are hired, they must sign a statement claiming that they will hold the correct political views for the next 10 years, which means that they must show they are patriotic towards the mainland and the party with their word and actions. Otherwise they must be responsible for the financial loss if they are banned from performing because of their political views.

People in Taiwan’s film and television industry have determined that it is likely that the film and television industry is actively cooperating with the party’s political censorship. It is too early to know how the policy will be carried out, but it may put pressure on those celebrities who have depended on the mainland market for a long period of time. If forced to make a political statement, they could become a puppet for the CCP’s propaganda which suppresses personal conscience and freedom of speech.

Taiwan ’s Mainland Affairs Council called on Beijing to respect creative freedom, and not impose the party’s motivation on performing arts and cultural works. The Taiwan Ministry of Culture pointed out that China’s political review system runs against the universal values of respecting freedom of artistic expression and also suppresses creative content, which the world will not accept.

The CCP mouthpiece Global Time reported that the spokesperson for the China State Taiwan Affairs Office had previously clarified that the 10-year political review order was “pure fabrication,” but she also pointed out that China “does not allow a few people to make money on the mainland while supporting the separatist activities of Taiwan independence and it does not want cross-strait exchanges in the movie and film industry be tainted by Taiwan independence forces.”

Source: Voice of America, May 6, 2020

Tanzania Reportedly Terminated 10 Billion Belt and Road Loan Agreement

China’s “Belt and Road” economic strategy faced a setback. African media reported that Tanzanian President John Magufuli terminated the US $10 billion loan with China that was to be used to expand the Bagamoyo port.

China originally planned to provide the loan to Tanzania to expand the port of Bagamoyo, on the condition that China was granted the right to lease the port for 99 years. The Tanzanian government would not have the right to comment on China’s activity during this period. The agreement was signed by former Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, but the media report quoted Magufuli as saying, “Only a drunk person would accept some of those terms.”

According to the report, since taking office in 2015, Magufuli decided to resume negotiations with China hoping to reduce the lease term from 99 to 33 years. In addition, China must obtain permission in advance to carry out related business activity in the port. Now because China has not started the talks within the deadline that Magufuli provided, Tanzania announced the termination of the agreement.

The China Merchants Group managed the Bagamoyo Port project.  The Oman Sovereign Fund and the Tanzanian government jointly developed it. A memorandum of cooperation was signed in March 2013, and a groundbreaking ceremony was held on October 16, 2015. It was originally scheduled to be in use between 2020 and 2021.

Source: Hong Kong Oriental Daily, April 24, 2020

Multiple Swedish Cities Terminated Sister City Agreement with China

Recently after Sweden closed its last Confucius Institute, Goteborg, Sweden ’s second largest city, also announced that it has decided not to renew its sister city agreement with Shanghai.

According to a report from Dagens Nyheter, Sweden ’s largest newspaper, on April 22, following Linköping, the fifth largest city in Sweden, and Örebro, the seventh largest city also announcement the termination of their sister city relationships with their counterparts in China, shortly after the city of Goteborg announced the suspension of its sister city relationship with Shanghai.

According to related reports, Shanghai and Gothenburg established a “friendly exchange relationship” in 1986. The two sides also signed an agreement to become sister cities on October 23, 2003. At the time, Gothenburg became the 51st “international friendly city” for Shanghai. Over the years, the two cities have conducted exchanges and cooperation in the fields of urban public transportation, water treatment, environmental protection, and port management. The agreements between Shanghai and Gothenburg officially expired at the end of 2019. The ruling Swedish Social Democratic Party suggested that the renewal be considered in the future, but other parties thought that the agreement should be terminated. Although the sister city relationship between the two cities no longer exists, the Trade Bureau and Port Authority of Gothenburg will be allowed to continue to maintain its original relationship with Shanghai and China.

While Gothenburg is another Swedish city that has announced the end of its sister city agreement with Chinese cities in the past few months, Linköping City previously terminated its agreement with Guangzhou City. Luleå and Xi’an, Västerås and Jinan have also terminated their sister city programs. Larks Vikinge, the mayor of Linkoping, told Sweden’s Dagens Samhalle in February this year that “as the Chinese embassy threatened the Swedish government, we decided to discontinue all political ties with China.” He also said that a Guangdong delegation was originally scheduled to visit the city in December 2019, but it was told it would not to be welcomed.

In February this year, Mayor Anders Teljeback of Westeros told the Financial Times that he decided to stop cooperating with Chinese cities because “in the past few years, China has escalated domestic Suppression of its people.

It is worth mentioning that the official website of the Chinese Embassy in Sweden posted an article written by Ambassador Gui Congyou, which Sweden Daily originally published. The article criticized “some moderate Swedish politicians use of COVID 19 to make wrong remarks about China and said the remarks were full of false facts, absurd logic and evil intentions.”

Source: Radio France Internationale, April 20, 2020

Beijing News: We Must Stay Alert on Post-Pandemic Desinicization

Beijing News recently published an important interview with Cao Dewang, Chairman of the Fuyao Group, which is the world’s largest automobile glass manufacturer. According to Cao, the de-globalization trend will be unavoidable after the pandemic concludes. The countries will seek to establish a more independent, complete, and safe industrial chain. The current situation fully exposed the high risk of having a long global industrial chain. It will introduce more distrust among nations, which will justify policy adjustments to simplify the industrial chain structure. China must stay vigilant to the fact that most nations may start to reduce their dependency on China. However, it will be very hard for countries like the U.S. and those in the EU to re-establish a fully self-sufficient industrial chain due to a lack of investors, the lack of low-cost labor, the lack of qualified managers in manufacturing, and the lack of money. Additionally, labor unions will add to the difficulties. In regions like Southeast Asia, infrastructure challenges will make building a new factory take two to three years. So, in the short term, China is irreplaceable. However, it is time to do some introspection on China’s long-term risks.

Source: Beijing News, April 13, 2020