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RFA: Suicide Rate among Municipal Officials Is Rising

According to an article published in RFA, on May 21, Wang Xiaoming, the deputy secretary-general of the Beijing municipal government, committed suicide by jumping off the building. Medical records indicate that Wang had been suffering from depression for a long period of time. The article reported that, in China, it is not uncommon for government officials to commit suicide. Statistics show that from 2009 to 2016, 243 municipal officials committed suicide. They range in age was from 45 to 55 years old. Most of them suffered from depression. The article quoted a few comments which revealed that government officials work under high pressure. They work in what is considered a high risk profession. If they don’t have the correct background, they have to pay a high price in order to get promoted. If they are the subject of an investigation, they usually don’t have many options because they know China does not operate under the rule of law. Thus the anti-corruption campaign has resulted in an increase in suicides. Corrupt officials choose suicide for three reasons: to eliminate criminal evidence and protect their peers; to protect the vested interests of their family members; and to protect their reputations.

Source: RFA, May 22, 2018

Zhu Min: China’s Debt Level Is at 220 Percent

Well-known Chinese news site Sohu recently reported that Zhu Min, the former Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and current Director of Tsinghua University’s National Institute of Financial Research, delivered a speech on financial openness at a global finance forum conference held in Beijing. Zhu emphasized that at the core of the openness is the establishment an internationalized Chinese financial market. International investments currently have a share of 1.26 percent in China’s banking market, a share of 1.15 percent in China’s stock market, a share of 2.44 percent in China’s bond market, and a share of 6.1 percent in China’s insurance market. At the same time, China’s debt level has reached 220 percent. Japan suffered a financial crisis at 220 percent, Thailand’s financial market crashed at 180 percent, and the United States had its financial crisis at the debt level of 180 percent. China’s loan efficiency dropped 75 percent in the last five years. He called for opening up the Chinese financial market in order to improve the domestic financial system with healthy competition.

Source: Sohu, May 19, 2018

Tianqi Lithium to Acquire World’s Second Largest Lithium Manufacturer

Well-known Chinese news site Sohu recently reported that China’s largest Lithium-based battery material vendor Tianqi Lithium is in the process of acquiring 24 percent of Chile’s Sociedad Quimica Y Minera (SQM) with US$4.3 billion. SQM is the world’s second largest Lithium manufacturer. Canadian fertilizer manufacturer Nutrien previously owned the shares. Tianqi already owns 2.1 percent of the shares of SQM. The additional 24 percent can allow Tianqi to name three seats in the eight-seat SQM board. SQM currently produces 48,000 tons of Lithium Carbonate annually. The expected production in 2019 is 100,000 tons. Lithium Carbonate is the primary material to make rechargeable batteries to be used in products like hybrid cars. Since 2000, the global market for Lithium Carbonate has been growing at an annual pace of 7.2 percent. The deal is still pending approval from the Chilean government, which is conducting an antitrust review.

Source: Sohu, May 17, 2018

BBC Chinese: Hong Kong Reporters Were Beaten up in Mainland China

BBC Chinese recently reported that, not long ago, unknown attackers beat up reporters from Hong Kong media. One latest example was Hong Kong’s Now TV reporter Xu Junming. Five under-cover policemen beat him while he was reporting on a hearing that the Beijing Lawyers’ Association had organized. Their Discipline Committee was punishing human rights lawyer Xie Yanyi. Xie represented Falun Gong practitioners in court. Xu is fully licensed and authorized to report in Mainland China. Another example occurred four days earlier than that. Two unknown men attacked Hong Kong Cable TV reporter Chen Haohui in Sichuan Province while he was reporting on the 10-year anniversary of the 512 Wenchuan Earthquake. These incidents triggered a wave of criticism in Mainland social media. According to Reporters Without Borders, China was ranked number 176 in the Freedom of Press Index, only better than Syria, Turkmenistan, Eritrea and North Korea.

Source: BBC Chinese, May 17, 2018

Social Credit Rating System Restricted over Ten Million from Purchasing Airline or High Speed Train Tickets

RFA reported that since China launched its social credit system, over 10 million people have been restricted from purchasing airline or high speed train tickets due to their poor social credit rating. The social credit system collects data from an individual’s financial records, social behavior such as traffic violations, criminal records, or academic integrity records. The social credit system score is then used to control the individual’s whole life, such as whether he will be restricted from leaving the country, whether he will be accepted by a school, and whether he can become a civil servant. According to a commentary that the article quoted, the social credit score in other countries is used for rating financial credit. However, in China, financial institutions are not the only ones that use the information on an individual’s social credit score. It also contains information that government agencies can use. That information is not used just to manage society, but rather to control society.

Source: RFA, May 18, 2018

Video of Speech Made at Stability Mobilization Conference Leaked

Epoch Times reported that a video recording from an internal stability mobilization conference held in Hebei Province was recently leaked. The recording showed that China imposes strict control over mobile phones and WeChat activities and still maintains the strategy of having “tight control internally over its people but appearing relaxed on the surface” while imposing a harsh cracking down on dissidents such as petitioners. It is unknown when the meeting was held, but in the recording, the person who is the head of the Political Consultative committee said that, as long as one has a cell phone, his whereabouts would be very easy to track. Any posting on Wechat is traceable. He stressed that all the surveillance activity must be handled quietly and that anyone planning to go to Beijing to petition for their rights is considered “anti-party” and “anti-government” and must be stopped using any means. The recording showed that the participants include people in charge of the local Political Consultative committee, the civil court, the public security bureau, cadres from the police station, and managers of departments at the village and county levels.

Source: Epoch Times, May 15, 2018

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