Radio France Internationale (RFI) recently reported that anonymous sources disclosed that the Chinese Communist Party has started an internal investigation of the Xinhua News Agency, which is the official communications authority for the Chinese government and the Party. The incident that triggered the investigation was that the Xinhua English News Bulletin recently published the constitutional amendment changing the status of the term limits for the President ahead of schedule. The Chinese leadership may have found this leak to be suspicious. The investigation team was composed of members from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the Central Propaganda Department of the Communist Party. Sources also indicated that all bureau director levels of Xinhua personnel have been banned from international travel. A few other unexpected incidents of a similar kind occurred last year as well.
Source: RFI Chinese, March 17, 2018
Voice of America (VOA) Chinese recently reported that the Australian Department of Defense has decided to ban the use of Chinese instant messaging app WeChat across all of the Department’s mobile devices. In the Department’s announcement, WeChat was described as “unauthorized software.” However, in the same announcement, the Department allowed limited use of the U.S. social app Facebook. It is also evaluating the security profile of WhatsApp. The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee held a hearing in which the U.S. CIA Director explained that he was very much concerned about the communications products from countries with a different social value system. Apparently, the Australian Department of Defense shares the same concern. Australian network security experts have expressed their observation that the Department not only worries about the close relationship between WeChat vendor Tencent and the Chinese government, but also believes apps like WeChat have very strong capabilities of collecting and monitoring information. Since last December, the Indian Department of Defense has also banned all Chinese communication software.
Source: VOA Chinese, March 13, 2018
Well-known Chinese news site Sina recently reported that China’s largest lithium manufacturer, CATL, recently acquired a controlling interest of over 90 percent of Canadian lithium mine owner, North American Lithium. The Quebec government also owns five percent of the shares. CATL is rapidly expanding its capacity to manufacture electric car batteries, aiming to become the largest battery manufacturer in the world. Industrial analysts expressed their belief that CATL’s recent move is to secure the supply of raw resources needed for its products. This deal is still pending approval from the Chinese government and the Quebec government. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is also currently performing its assessment. The mine is capable of producing 23,000 tons of battery-grade lithium carbonate. In terms of global lithium resource control, China is currently ahead of the United States and Europe.
Source: Sina, March 13, 2018
An RFA article reported that a Russian soccer player recently died as a result of a car accident in China less than 100 days from the 2018 World Soccer Cup. According to Moscow Evening news, 28 year old Vladimir Gerasimov was a Russian soccer player. He was riding an electronic scooter when he collided with a car which knocked him to the ground. The driver of the car fled the scene. Hours after the accident, Vladimir still remained lying on the ground. He died because no bystanders bothered to help him or call an ambulance. Currently, his teammates and relatives are collecting money to transport his body back to Moscow. The RFA article stated that there have been a number of reports about bystanders in China having a cold reaction and neglecting to help those who suffer car injuries. People believe that it is too costly to be a good Samaritan in China as good people are often suppressed or “rewarded” with false accusations.
Source: Radio Free Asia, March 13, 2018
According to an article that Duowei News published, Dong-A Ilbo, the South Korean newspaper, reported that, unlike 2017, when North Korean diplomats discontinued all of their external activities, in 2018, as the conflicts between North Korea and the EU escalated, North Korean diplomats have displayed a completely different image. They have been actively participating in foreign diplomatic events with EU countries. At a number of events, they have been spotted having dialogues or even posing for pictures with ambassadors from South Korea. The article reported that there was speculation that, since King Jong Un wants North Korea to be recognized as a “normal country,” his foreign diplomats have been actively participating in foreign events in an effort to reshape North Korea’s image on the worlds stage.
Source: Duowei News, March 16, 2018
On March 17, People’s Daily published an opinion piece in which it praised the fact that Xi was appointed as the President of the country as it represents “the wishes of the party, the people, and the nation.” The article called Xi “helmsman” of the nation and “leader” of the Chinese people. The article claimed that the trinity position that Xi holds demonstrates that socialism with Chinese characteristics is a unique political and also a superior system. It asked all nations to unite around Xi’s leadership to achieve the “great victory of socialism with Chinese characteristics in a new era.”
Source: People’s Daily, March 17, 2018