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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The project planned to revamp the existing and outdated railway stretching 1,872 km (1,163 miles) from Karachi to the city of Peshawar.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

China Refused to Allow U.S. Naval Vessel to Visit Hong Kong

Well-known Chinese news site Sina recently reported that the Chinese government refused a request from the U.S. Navy to visit Hong Kong. In the meantime, China also called back the Chinese Naval commander, who was visiting the U.S. and cancelled a high-level military meeting. This was in response to the earlier U.S. sanctions against a high-ranking Chinese military officer. In the past, China does have a history of refusing to allow U.S. Naval vessels to visit Hong Kong – as a way of expressing unhappiness. The spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs commented that China typically evaluates this kind of request on a case by case basis.

Source: Sina, September 25, 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

Professor in Exile: Chinese Universities Are under Strict Surveillance

A professor from China now living in the United States paints a very disturbing picture of the information control in Chinese universities.

Tan Song, an associate professor at Chongqing Normal University investigated the truth about the “land reform movement,” the Anti-Rightist Campaign, the Second Sino-Japanese War, and the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. Because he did so, the school expelled him and the police arrested him. Another charge was that he taught about the 1989 Student Movement and the June 4th Tiananmen Massacre. In 2017, he was forced to leave China and is currently living in exile in Los Angeles.

Tan said that in Chinese colleges and universities, the “Tiananmen Square protest of 1989” is an absolutely untouchable topic. He once tried to understand how much his students knew about what happened in 1989. Not a single student knew about it. He said, “I later found out that these students, from kindergarten to elementary school, junior high school, high school, and through the university, not a single teacher ever told them about the 1989 protests. One cannot blame the teachers. Nowadays the university is very sensitive to this topic. If any teacher dares to speak the truth about the incident in the classroom, the lightest punishment is that the teacher will leave his teaching position. He will either be expelled or be sent to the police station. I know a teacher at the Sichuan Foreign Languages College. Because he taught about the June 4th incident, the police immediately took him away.”

Tan said that, in today’s Internet age, some students do not know it from the classroom but learned about the June 4th 1989 incident and the persecution that followed from the Internet. “A student received a short video from his friend about the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. He uploaded the video to the campus network and was quickly discovered. At the time of discovery, thirty-six students had already downloaded the video. Each of the thirty-six students was taken away and the police came to talk to them one by one, with a warning as the punishment. The original student who uploaded the video was taken away and no one knows his whereabouts.”

Tan added that in today’s Chinese universities, surveillance cameras are widely installed in the classrooms, and the authorities hire informants among the students. “The teacher’s every move in the classroom is monitored. Nowadays one does not need to come to the classroom to monitor the teachers. It’s just like the police monitoring traffic. When you want classroom 305, the computer will get it for you. How could the university teacher give a lecture in class? The informant’s job is to report on the teachers and students. What the teacher said in the class, the informant will report. The informant officers contact each other on a one-to-one basis and the students will not know they do so. Of course, those who work as informants will benefit in the future such as in placement and becoming a Party member. Under current circumstances, in Chinese colleges and universities, no one dares to say anything.”

Source: Radio Free Asia, September 28, 2018

State Council Issued the Official Guideline for Publicly Traded Companies

The Paper reported that the State Council recently issued the official guideline for the Publicly Traded Companies in China. Among the guideline that consists of ten sections and 98 clauses, it specifically called for the requirement of “enhanced party development work” within the companies.”

The content of the guideline covers the basic concepts and principles of corporate governance; the composition and operation of the shareholders’ meetings, the board of directors, the board of supervisors, the rights and obligations of directors, supervisors, and senior management personnel; the incentive mechanism; the behavioral norms of controlling shareholders and their related parties; institutional investment parties and the related institutions that participate in corporate governance; the basic requirements of listed companies in terms of stakeholders, environmental protection and social responsibility; as well as information disclosure and transparency. The official guideline is set to be effective immediately.

Source: The Paper, September 30, 2018

China to Build a World Class Anti-Terrorist Force That Is Ready to Be Deployed Overseas to Protect National Interest

Voice of America reported that, on Saturday, September 29, a senior Chinese intelligence Officer told Xinhua that, if China’s national interest is under threat, China will build a world class anti-terrorist Special Forces unit that will be deployed overseas. According to a quote from Xinhua, “The Special Forces must follow the development of national security interests and must be prepared to fight against terrorism.” According to VOA, there are extensive terrorist groups in countries along the Belt and Road project. In Pakistan alone, thousands of Chinese workers could be the new target for terrorist groups. In the Anti-Terrorist law China passed in 2015, it stated that, after a serious terrorist attack on Chinese institutions or personnel abroad, China’s counter-terrorism department can, after consultation with the relevant countries, “send staff to go abroad to carry out response work.” China currently sends police to other countries to help maintain the safety of Chinese tourists, but, in the past decade, it has not sent warfare personnel to other countries.

1. Voice of America, September 29, 2018
2. Xinhua, September 29, 2018

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