"Wellesley man arrested in alleged export plot tied to marine equipment" by John R. Ellement Globe Staff July 06, 2018
A Chinese businessman living in Wellesley with his family is in federal custody after authorities charged that he falsified documents in order to hide the true destination of marine acoustical equipment that allegedly ended up at a research college linked to the Chinese navy.
Shuren Qin, 41, was temporarily detained by the US Marshals Service following an initial appearance hearing in US District Court in Boston on Tuesday. He was arrested June 21 at his home in Wellesley. Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler is deciding whether to grant a defense request that Qin be freed on bail while the case is pending, according to court records.
Qin pleaded not guilty to one count of visa fraud, one count of conspiring to commit violation of export regulations, and visa fraud charges, according to records.
According to US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling’s office, federal investigators allege that Qin has used his China-based businesses as a front to funnel marine equipment that can be used for military purposes to the Northwestern Polytechnical University, which is described as a research arm of the Chinese navy.
Qin allegedly falsely claimed that the equipment — 78 hydrophones worth more than $100,000 — was intended for a Chinese university and filed falsified documents to bypass federal controls, authorities allege. Hydrophones can be used to detect and monitor sound underwater and have military applications, according to prosecutors.
Just about anything can, of course, but that's beside the point.
He also is accused of violating immigration laws for allegedly making false statements in visa applications, but defense attorneys, in court papers, said Qin is a marine biologist, a devoted father, and a good neighbor who is facing charges based on a flawed investigation where authorities tried — and failed — to use an undercover informant to lure Qin into committing crimes.
That's what they do, too.
If you don't cooperate with their schemes, they get ya!
The defense also noted that several relatives of Qin live in New England and are American citizens.
Qin “brought his family to the U.S. to provide the best educational opportunities for his children. Family is what is most important to defendant,’’ defense attorneys wrote, adding that Qin and his family are legal permanent residents of the United States.
Bowler did not indicate when she would decide whether Qin will be held in custody until his trial.
That was the last time I heard from him in the Globe (keep that in mind for later).
"AMSC gets $57 million from Chinese theft case" by Hiawatha Bray Globe Staff July 06, 2018
A federal judge in Wisconsin has ordered Chinese windmill maker Sinovel Wind Group Co., to pay $57.5 million to American Superconductor Inc. (AMSC) for stealing the Devens company’s software to control wind turbines.
The payment is the result of an unusual federal prosecution of a Chinese company, and comes as the Trump administration has pressed Beijing to end practices that it claims co-opt US technology and costs the economy billions a year. It comes on the same day that a simmering trade war between the two nations erupted into the open, with billions in tariffs on products from each country going into effect Friday.
In January, a US federal court convicted Sinovel of the theft, which cost the Devens company, also known as American Superconductor, $1 billion in stock market value, and $800 million in revenue. Just prior to Friday’s sentencing, American Superconductor reached a deal with Sinovel for compensation, and has already received $32.5 million. The Chinese company has a year to pay the remaining $25 million. Sinovel will also pay a $1.5 million fine to the US government, and $850,000 to additional unnamed victims of the theft.
Though the settlement is a fraction of losses suffered by AMSC, chief executive Daniel McGahn said it was the most his company could hope for.
“Their ability to pay is quite limited,” said McGahn. Sinovel sales plummeted after the company was charged in the United States, he said, so “we’re actually taking a large fraction of the cash that they had.”
As part of the settlement, AMSC is dropping a lawsuit which it had filed against Sinovel in China, thus ending all litigation on the matter. “We’re happy to close this chapter,” said McGahn.....
Some have issue with that.
"An accused Chinese spy who allegedly attempted to steal trade secrets from American aviation and aerospace companies was charged Wednesday and extradited to the United States. Yanjun Xu, an operative of the Chinese Ministry of State Security, is accused of recruiting experts who worked at aviation companies and paying them stipends to travel to China to obtain trade secrets, the Justice Department said. From 2013 until he was arrested in April, Xu would recruit employees from major aerospace companies, including GE Aviation, and persuade them to travel to China under the guise that they would give a presentation at a university, prosecutors said. Court papers document how Xu and other intelligence operatives planned to obtain ‘‘highly sensitive information’’ from the experts."
I'm glad they cooperated on the culprit.
U.S. Army Veteran Tried to Spy for China, Officials Say
Army splits with West Point grad who touted communist revolt
He's been sheep dipped like Oswald!
"Federal grand jury in Boston indicts Georgia man in nationwide lottery scam" by Travis Andersen Globe Staff March 29, 2018
A federal grand jury in Boston on Wednesday indicted a Georgia man for his alleged role in a multimillion-dollar lottery scam that targeted elderly people in Massachusetts and elsewhere, according to US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling’s office and court records.
Peter Anthony Chin Jr., 34, was indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, Lelling’s office said in a statement. An arraignment date hasn’t been set. His public defender declined to comment.
Prosecutors allege Chin was part of a scheme that targeted people who ranged in age from approximately 69 to 90 between 2012 and 2017, including a 72-year-old Taunton man who got fleeced to the tune of $93,633.33 in 2013, according to filings and Lelling’s office. A co-conspirator, Wilder Vladimir Merelan, was convicted in US District Court in Boston in 2016.
See the connections?
Merelan, 31, was sentenced to 51 months in prison and ordered to pay $733,998.99 in restitution, court records show. He’s serving his time in New Jersey and slated for release in June of 2020, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website.
Prosecutors said in a court filing in Merelan’s case that the consequences for the victims were severe.....
As opposed to pos MBSs and CDOs that were then used to fraudulently foreclose on homes (otherwise known as an asset seizure).
He's lucky he wasn't tried in a Chines court:
"A Chinese court sentenced former political high flyer Sun Zhengcai to life in prison Tuesday for taking more than $26 million in bribes, making him one of the biggest names to fall in President Xi Jinping’s campaign against corruption and disloyalty....."
That's one way of trying to stop corruption.
Maybe we could learn something from the Chinese.
A Chinese Activist Was Challenging Xi on Live TV. The Police Came
His cell mate is James Schwab.
It's an economic war now:
"Stocks plunge, as fresh tensions with China batter tech shares" by Matt Phillips New York Times October 11, 2018
NEW YORK — Stocks suffered their steepest drop in eight months on Wednesday, as rising interest rates gnawed at investors and as previously high-flying technology shares tumbled in the face of growing tensions with China.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 3.3 percent, registering its fifth consecutive daily decline. That is the longest string of down days for the S&P 500, the market’s bench mark, since November 2016.
The decline also signaled a change in mood on Wall Street. For months, it had seemed as though nothing could spook stock investors in the United States. Growing corporate profits and surging shares of technology giants pushed major benchmarks to a string of record highs, but concerns about nascent inflation, rising interest rates, and the potential for the Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy came together into a wave of selling Wednesday. In addition, President Trump’s policies toward Beijing have become a drag on technology companies, which rely heavily on China as a manufacturing base.
Just in time for the midterms, and the Kavanaugh effect will be washed away as the cratering economy ushers in a blue wave that will sweep the House and Senate.
In recent days, interest rates on government bonds — which serve as a baseline for mortgages and other loans — have climbed to levels last seen in 2011, and that is making them a key concern for stock market investors.
Rising interest rates are something of a double-edged sword.
Both fit nicely in your back, consumer/citizen.
They reflect the strength of the US economy, where unemployment is at 49-year lows, but they also mean borrowers looking to buy a home or a car, or invest in a business, will have to pay more to do so. Conventional 30-year mortgage rates are about 5 percent, for example, hurting both home affordability and the share price of homebuilders.
Which would make, let's see, BANKS HAPPY!
Trump, who has boasted about the stock market rally as shares climbed, took Wednesday’s sell-off as an opportunity to criticize the Federal Reserve, which has also been raising the short-term interest rates under its control. Trump had previously expressed his displeasure with that policy.
“The Fed is making a mistake,” he said when asked by reporters about the market drop, shortly after landing in Erie, Pa., before a campaign rally. “I think the Fed has gone crazy.” He described the recent selling as “a correction that we’ve been waiting for, for a long time,” but some policies put into place under Trump, like tax cuts and increased government spending that have widened the federal deficit, are also a factor in the rise in borrowing costs.
The worsening tensions between the Trump administration and China also drew blame for the drop on Wednesday.
Yeah, good. Just wanted to get that straight before I expounded on the lack of wisdom regarding the challenging of the $tring-pulling bankers.
President have found an early end to their administrations when they did that, sometimes with a violent end to their own life.
Earlier in the day, the Treasury Department imposed new rules making it easier to block foreign investment in technology companies on national security grounds, outlining a rigorous review system that is aimed primarily at preventing China from gaining access to sensitive US technology.
Honestly, given the earlier reporting of the Chinese rip-offs, this would seem to be a prudent move, no?
“There’s an increasing realization in the market that this is not just about the trade deficit. This is about security concerns. This is about geopolitical strength,” said Evan Brown, director of asset allocation at UBS Asset Management. “It’s about encouraging US companies to move their supply chains out of China. And so there are questions about a broader disruption and potential legislation or scrutiny in these markets.”
How about tho$e perks, huh?
Despite the tumble on Wednesday, many market observers expect strong third-quarter earnings will be enough to help stocks recover their recent losses. Those reports will start to flow in earnest this Friday, when some of the largest US banks, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup, are scheduled to post results.
They have been making record profits, and my pre$$ has kept it quiet.
Thanks to the strength of the economy and steep cuts in corporate tax rates, corporate earnings are expected to rise more than 20 percent from the third quarter of 2017, according to John Butters, an earnings analyst with FactSet. That would be the third consecutive quarter of earnings growth of more than 20 percent, but that outlook is not without risks. As the economy heats up, costs are climbing and starting to eat into relatively fat profit margins.
So we have been told we have had an 11-year, record-smashing recovery where wages were flat and never really went up, told we needed illegals to fill the gaps, but you know, best of both worlds if you were a richer -- and now they are saying it's almost come to an end.
On Wednesday, Fastenal, a company that makes products like industrial supplies used on factory floors, reported better-than-expected profit and sales numbers, but its profit margin was something of a disappointment and the stock fell more than 7 percent.
There are some people you can't ever please.
“We are starting to see some margin pressure from higher raw materials and energy and labor costs,” said Savita Subramanian, equity strategist with Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Still, she stressed that strong economic demand should support corporate profits, even if margins start to contract.
That is one reason she thinks the stock market remains an attractive place for investors to put their money, even with rising inflation and interest rates.
“I would stick with equities for the time being,” she said.
That's what they counseled before the bottom fell out in 2008.
The Globe placed the third largest drop in history point-wise on page C1 and the boom times in the United States were due for a slowdown, but it probably won’t be a crash (unless you are Sears).
You can smell it in the air, and as the Trump administration’s global trade war heats up the offers may fall short of appeasing President Trump.
"The major US stock indexes finished mostly higher Tuesday as investors welcomed strong corporate earnings reports. Gains by technology companies and health care stocks outweighed losses in consumer goods, retail, and other sectors. Smaller-company stocks, which have been beating the rest of the market this year, turned sharply lower as investors weighed the implications of the Trump administration’s decision to send billions in emergency aid to farmers hurting from US tariffs levied in the trade dispute with China. Tariffs also weighed on Whirlpool’s latest quarterly results, giving the appliance maker its worst day in more than 30 years. ‘‘Investors are focused on the good news on earnings and the economy, but they’re still a bit cautious when it comes to the market moving higher, and that’s because of all the news flow on geopolitical events and tariffs,’’ said Jeff Kravetz, regional investment strategist at US Bank Private Wealth Management. Still, the S&P 500 is on a three-week winning streak....."
"China announces $60 billion of US goods for tariff retaliation" by Joe McDonald Associated Press August 04, 2018
BEIJING — China said Friday it is poised to impose retaliatory tariffs on $60 billion worth of US imports, including coffee, honey, and industrial chemicals, if Washington goes ahead with its latest trade threat.
China’s Finance Ministry accused the Trump administration of damaging the global economy after the United States proposed increasing duties on $200 billion of Chinese goods in the second round of a dispute over technology. ‘‘China is forced to take countermeasures,’’ the ministry said.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Friday that ‘‘instead of retaliating, China should address longstanding concerns about its unfair trading practices.’’
Chinese leaders have offered to purchase more American goods, but rejected the US request to change technology policies they see as a path to prosperity and global influence.
The smaller list of goods tagged by China indicates Beijing is running out of products to target due to its lopsided trade balance with the United States.....
Meaning TRUMP is WINNING the WAR!
"To the long list of reproachful replies to President Trump’s social media commentary, add an editorial from a Chinese state media outlet, which called his recent tweets on China “messages from some alternative universe.” The China Daily, an English-language state-run publication, said in an editorial published late Thursday that presidential tweets accusing China of hacking Hillary Clinton’s e-mails were an effort to “divert public attention” from White House trouble. Chinese state media has been reticent about personally criticizing Trump, despite growing friction between the two countries."
Yeah, that stuff was leaked by DNC insiders who were sick of the scummy and corrupt Clintons and their theft of the nomination from Sanders.
"Asked specifically on Fox’s ‘‘Sunday Morning Futures’’ if the United States is willing to throw away its relationship with China by proceeding with threatened tariff hikes, Peter Navarro, director of the White House National Trade Council, pointed in part to an unfair relationship involving a multibillion-dollar trade deficit, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s warning of China’s activities in the South China Sea, and the threat of China stealing US intellectual property. ‘‘That’s a relationship with China that structurally has to change,’’ he said. ‘‘We would love to have a peaceful, friendly relationship with China, but we’re also standing firm that the president is the leader on this.’’
Getting kind of hungry now:
"Trump says he’s ready to tax an additional $267b in Chinese imports" Associated Press September 07, 2018
President Trump said Friday that he’s prepared to impose tariffs on an additional $267 billion in Chinese imports. Such a step would significantly escalate his trade war with Beijing and would likely increase costs for a broad range of US businesses and consumers.
I gue$$ we are seeing that now, huh?
Those potential tariffs would come on top of tariffs Trump has said he’s poised to slap on $200 billion worth of goods from China — everything from handbags to bicycle tires.
It would also be in addition to tariffs his administration has already imposed on $50 billion in Chinese imports, for which Beijing has retaliated with an equal amount of import taxes on US goods.
‘‘I hate to say this, but behind that there is another $267 billion ready to go on short notice if I want,’’ Trump told reporters on Air Force One. ‘‘That totally changes the equation.’’
The trade war the president has initiated between the world’s two largest economies stems from concerns that China has deployed predatory tactics — including cybertheft — to try to supplant America’s technological supremacy.
That's better than a shooting war, at lea$t, but the$e things sometimes lead to that.
Globe web version let more through:
The president’s comments Friday came one day after a public comment period ended on his proposed taxes of up to 25 percent on $200 billion of Chinese imports, with Trump saying he could ‘‘very soon’’ impose those tariffs.
Earlier in the week, tech giant Apple warned US officials that that round of tariffs would lead to higher prices on its products, include the Apple Watch and AirPods headphones.
“Our concern with these tariffs is that the US will be hardest hit, and that will result in lower US growth and competitiveness and higher prices for US consumers,” Apple said in its letter to the U.S. Trade Representative, dated Sept. 5.
If the president followed through with all his proposed tariffs, essentially every good being imported from China would be taxed. The administration has asserted that Trump’s tariffs would force China to trade on more favorable terms with the United States. Economists caution, though, that the drag on growth would worsen the longer the tariffs were in place.
‘‘To a certain extent, it’s going to be up to China,’’ the president said Friday.
"China says the US is ‘holding a knife to our neck’ in trade war" by Anna Fifield Washington Post September 25, 2018
BEIJING — With both Beijing and Washington holding their ground, the dispute between the world’s two largest economies looks set to rumble on with no obvious end in sight.
China is more than willing to resume talks with the United States, Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen told reporters Tuesday.
‘‘Our door is open for the resumption of trade consultations and negotiations, but to make the negotiations effective, they should be based on mutual respect and treating each other as equals,’’ Wang said. ‘‘But the US has imposed such large trade restrictions, it is like they are holding a knife to our neck.’’
A Chinese delegation had been expected in Washington this week for talks on resolving the trade dispute, but the visit was canceled after President Trump last week announced tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, ranging from televisions to toys. That means that about half of the products that Americans buy from China now have an extra 10 percent duty added.
Beijing responded by announcing it would impose tariffs of five to 10 percent on an additional $60 billion of American goods, from meat to liquefied natural gas. The new tariff regime took effect Monday.
Showing China had no intention of backing down, the state media was a chorus of defiance on Tuesday, portraying Washington as an unreasonable bully.
Look, the Globe found a friend.
‘‘If the Trump administration continues to stick to its unilateral and protectionist stance, and refuses to respect the fundamental norms of mutual respect and consultation, it would be difficult for the two sides to make substantial progress in any future trade talks,’’ the China Daily said in an editorial.
China would not give in but nor would it retaliate infinitely, the Global Times said.
‘‘China is a country that sticks to principle,’’ the state-backed paper said in an editorial. ‘‘This makes China strategically firm when facing pressure. Unprincipled compromise will only lead to worse scenarios.’’
For the Chinese to say they are being disrespected proves they are really pi$$ed.
They choose their words very carefully, thus the emphasis can't be ignored.
Many analysts here say that Trump has left Beijing with little room to maneuver. Announcing the latest round of tariffs, the president warned that he would slap duties on the remaining $267 billion worth of products that China exported to the United States if Beijing tried to retaliate.
‘‘It’s like saying ‘I’m going to hit you in the face and if you fight back I’m going to hit you some more,’ ” said Yu Yongding, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. ‘‘How can they expect Chinese diplomats to go to the United States to negotiate? It’s too much.’’
We have been friends with Israel for too long.
Liu He, China’s point man on trade negotiations with the United States, had been expected to travel to Washington this week for talks with Treasury and Trade representative officials. However, the trip was scrapped as the war of words and tariffs escalated.
‘‘Trump thought he could bully China into kow-towing to him. But that’s a very stupid strategy,’’ Yu said.
The latest round of sanctions had made it less likely, not more, that China would enter into talks, said Mei Xinyu, a researcher at a Commerce Ministry think tank in Beijing.
‘‘Trump wants to make it look like China is being coerced into accepting a deal, and of course China will not play along with that,’’ Mei said.
To make a deal, the demands need to be reasonable, he said. ‘‘The American side wants to force China to make a deal under the threat of tariffs on $267 billion worth of Chinese imports. But this idea is wrong.’’
To bolster its claim to being the reasonable party in the dispute, the Chinese government on Monday released a white paper to ‘‘clarify’’ the facts on the trade friction, but the paper, which state media uniformly noted was 36,000 characters long, as this somehow made it more reliable, tried to portray China as the bastion of global economic liberalism trying to protect itself — and the rest of the world — from a unilateralist Trump.
It sharply criticized the ‘‘protectionism’’ of the ‘‘America first’’ policy of the US administration — without singling out Trump by name.
‘‘Faced with a host of grave challenges to human progress, all countries, particularly major countries, need to shoulder the obligation and responsibility of guiding and promoting international cooperation,’’ the paper concluded, urging a rejection of ‘‘Cold War mentality’’ that sees trade as a ‘‘zero sum game.’’
The paper, filled with tables and case studies, cited research by the US China Business Council and Goldman Sachs and Washington think tanks. It also used examples involving General Motors, Intel, and Apple to show why bilateral trade was in the best interest of the United States.
This message was reinforced Tuesday when Fu Ziying, China’s international trade representative, described why the trade war was not in the United States’ interest.
‘‘Overall, the US has gained more from trading with China, and the profits of American businesses are far larger than those earned by Chinese ones,’’ Fu said at a press conference to unveil the white paper. ‘‘Therefore, it can be said that, although China is running a trade surplus, the surplus of interests is on the US side.’’
It's an axiom of life:
Higher interest rates, oil prices pull stocks lower
US stocks dip after Federal Reserve raises rates
The talk is that the Fed is slowing the economy in order to save it, and is all but certain to miss the weekend deadline for hitting the brakes.
"More US corporate giants warn tariffs will mean price hikes" by Tom Krisher and Josh Boak Associated Press September 27, 2018
DETROIT — From Ford to Walmart to Procter & Gamble, a growing number of iconic American companies are warning that President Trump’s tariffs on US imports are raising their costs and prices.
Walmart, America’s largest retailer, has told the administration that Trump’s latest round of taxes — on $200 billion of Chinese imports — could increase prices for its shoppers. Walmart specifically mentioned items ranging from car seats, cribs, and backpacks to hats, pet products, and bicycles.
Procter & Gamble, the consumer products giant, has warned of both potential price increases and job losses as a result of the tariffs.
In the meantime, drinking Coca-Cola is costing more because of Trump’s tariffs. Macy’s, too, has warned of likely price increases. So has Gap.
That will put a damper on the Chri$tma$ $hopping $ea$on.
On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell took on the issue at a news conference after the Fed announced its latest interest rate hike. Asked about the Trump tariffs forcing up prices for America’s consumers, Powell agreed that Fed officials are hearing from businesses about forthcoming higher costs.
‘‘You don’t see it yet,’’ the chairman said, referring to the data the Fed studies, but, Powell acknowledged, ‘‘the tariffs might provide a basis for companies to raise prices in a world where they’ve been very reluctant to and unable to raise prices.’’
I've noticed the price hikes at the grocery store! $60 for a small sack of groceries!
At his own news conference Wednesday in New York, Trump rejected any notion that his tariffs posed an economic risk, echoing assertions by his administration that consumers would barely notice the new taxes.
‘‘It’s had no impact . . . on our economy,’’ the president said after meetings with foreign leaders at the United Nations General Assembly.....
"The US economy grew at a robust annual rate of 4.2 percent in the second quarter, the best performance in nearly four years, though economists believe growth has slowed in the current quarter partly because of a drag from trade. A big part of that growth reflected a temporary rush to ship soybeans and other US exports out before penalty tariffs triggered by Trump’s get-tough trade policies took effect....."
He goo$ed it, then?
"Stocks climbed and the dollar jumped to a two-week high after the Federal Reserve cited a strong economy when it raised interest rates. Gains in the largest tech companies made the Nasdaq the best performing major gauge, with both Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. up about 2 percent. The likelihood of more Fed rate increases stretching into next year helped lift the greenback the most in a month. Argentina’s peso weakened a fourth day even after the country won a promise of extra cash from the International Monetary Fund. Ten-year Treasury yields held steady; the euro fell. US stock traders brushed aside concerns that trade tensions could increase and accepted the outlook for higher borrowing costs a day after Fed officials signaled policy tightening was here to stay, even as President Trump said he was ‘‘not happy’’ about Wednesday’s rate increase. He also struck a downbeat tone about trade talks with Canada, and accused China of trying to interfere in US congressional elections in November. ‘‘The stock market’s telling me the trade thing is not that big of a deal,’’ said Jeffrey Saut, the chief investment strategist at Raymond James....."
Until yesterday, when the mood changed(!).
China is fighting fire with fire:
"China orders more lending to entrepreneurs amid trade fight" by Alexandra Stevenson New York Times October 07, 2018
HONG KONG — China is signaling that it is worried about its economy.
Troubled by slowing growth, persistent debt problems, and President Trump’s trade war, the Chinese government has taken steps in recent months to shore up its economy. It has pared back a high-profile campaign to tackle debt. It has restarted big infrastructure projects, a traditional economic engine. It has even censored bad economic news.
They react the same way as our government and its mouthpiece media!
On Sunday, Beijing went one step further: The People’s Bank of China, the central bank, pulled a financial lever that will effectively pump $174 billion into the economy. The government is aiming to help small and mid-size businesses in particular, which have had trouble obtaining loans and face other rising pressures.
The move signals China’s economy “is really not doing well,” Chen Shouhong, founder of the investment information platform Gelonghui, wrote on WeChat, a Chinese social media service.
The growing trade war with the United States has been the most visible threat. In September, the United States imposed tariffs on $200 billion in goods from China. Trump has shown little inclination to back off, and relations between the two countries have cooled, suggesting the trade war could worsen.
So far, it has had only a minor effect on China’s $12 trillion economy. Trade is not as important to China as it once was, thanks in part to the rise of a middle class that has been a ready buyer of Chinese goods at home. Still, tariffs could hurt the economy the longer they last. In September, new export orders, one indicator of China’s manufacturing, fell to the lowest level since 2016, but China has bigger problems than the trade war.
So that's where ours went!
Consumers are spending less. Retail sales this year have grown at the slowest rate in a decade. Wage growth is plodding. Infrastructure investment, a pillar of the Chinese economy, slowed significantly in the first half of the year. The pace at which companies are defaulting on their bonds has quickened.
China also has to contend with a stock market that has fallen by around 15 percent this year and a currency that has lost 10 percent of its value against the dollar. Some Chinese entrepreneurs also say the business environment is souring. The government could soon require companies to pay more in taxes and benefits.
Government officials in recent months have scurried to counter the broader economic slowdown. They pledged to pump billions of dollars into infrastructure projects, shored up the currency, and moved to backstop the stock market.
Sort of like a Chine$e bailout?
China has used these methods for years to spur growth, but they represent a retreat from more recent government efforts to pare back debt. China unleashed a wave of spending and lending beginning a decade ago that rescued its economy from the global economic downturn but left many of its companies and local governments burdened with debt.
Either way, the bankers win!
On Sunday, the People’s Bank of China said it would cut the amount of money that some lenders are required to hold in reserve — called the reserve ratio — by 1 percentage point. The move essentially frees up more money for China’s state-controlled banks to lend out.
About $65 billion of that cash injection will be directed to banks to repay debts that are due in coming weeks, while the rest will be pushed into the financial market.
The central bank made the move to ensure “reasonable and sufficient liquidity” in China’s economy, it said. This is the fourth time this year that the central bank has cut the reserve ratio.
Time to toast the $ucce$$:
"China began an audacious experiment four decades ago to inject free-market thinking into its rigid, Communist-controlled political system, beginning a process that would lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and create the world’s second-largest economy. And what better way to celebrate this accomplishment than with a bucket of fried chicken? Last week, KFC introduced an advertising campaign in mainland China celebrating 40 years of “reform and opening up,” the catch phrase that defined the era. As the ad continues, it shows people carrying boxes and buckets of KFC, with one group of 20-somethings clinking chicken nuggets together as if toasting with champagne."
I wonder how much the workers are paid there.
The factory work will make you go deaf:
"Secretary of State Mike Pompeo marked Monday’s anniversary of the suppression of dissent on June 4, 1989, saying: ‘‘We remember the tragic loss of innocent lives.’’ Hundreds, if not thousands, of unarmed protesters and onlookers were killed late on June 3 and the early hours of June 4, 1989, after China’s Communist leaders ordered the military to retake Tiananmen Square. The topic remains taboo in mainland China, and any form of commemoration is banned. In Hong Kong, however, tens of thousands of people gather every year in Victoria Park on the evening of June 4 to remember the victims. Organizers estimated that 150,000 people attended Monday’s event. Speakers at the vigil used slogans calling for an ‘‘end to one-party dictatorship.’’
I guess Pompeo didn't hear Pence warn him.
Chinese Professor Accused of Sexual Harassment
Hey, ladies of #MeToo, they fed him to the lions.
You happy now?
"A nanny convicted of murdering two small children in her care was sentenced Monday in a New York state court to life in prison without parole. Yoselyn Ortega was convicted last month in the deaths of 6-year-old Lucia Krim and 2-year-old Leo Krim. She had been working for the Krim family for nearly two years when she took the children to a bathroom of their apartment and stabbed them to death in 2012. The 55-year-old Ortega is from the Dominican Republic. She wept and apologized to the family during the sentencing hearing....." Ortega’s lawyer argued she was too mentally ill to know what she was doing, and she added, “I’m very sorry for everything that happened. My life is in the hands of God.”
That was after she was found fit for trial and convicted of murder.
Now if she had worked for the state......
"A woman who was beaten and held captive for two days at gunpoint by her boyfriend escaped when she persuaded him to bring their dog to an animal hospital — and then slipped a note to a staff member, the authorities said. In a kidnapping in California, police said they thwarted a vigilante attempt to deport a foreign student last week. A pilot allegedly took the student to an airport and tried to send him ‘‘back to China.’’
Where they would have put him in one of these:
"China denies UN reports of Uighur detention camps" by Nick Cumming-Bruce New York Times August 14, 2018
GENEVA — China issued a blanket denial Monday of accusations from United Nations experts that it had detained more than 1 million ethnic Uighur Muslims in reeducation camps in the western region of Xinjiang.
Beijing has progressively tightened security in Xinjiang since an eruption of violence there in 2009, but the crackdown has escalated since 2016, when a new Communist Party secretary for the region began widely expanding security services and surveillance.
That's called protecting you over here.
Gay McDougall, a member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, spoke of the region Friday as becoming “something resembling a massive internment camp,” with mass detention, reeducation, and disappearances.
Now you are talking Gaza and the CIA black sites.
At a hearing in Geneva on Monday, a 49-strong Chinese delegation met questions from the committee with flat contradiction. “There is no such thing as reeducation centers,” said Hu Lianhe, a senior Chinese Communist Party official.
“There is no torture, persecution or disappearance of repatriated personnel,” he added in response to questions about the fate of hundreds of students who had returned to Xinjiang, some of whom were reported to have died in detention or to have disappeared.
They do the same thing the U.S. government does.
China did not target any ethnic minority, Hu said; its ethnic minorities lived in peace and contentment enjoying freedom of religious belief.
They have one up on us then.
Authorities have clamped down on violent terrorist activity and strengthened “security and social management,” he said, acknowledging only that minor criminals were provided with “assistance and education to assist them in their rehabilitation.”
Global Times, a state-owned English-language tabloid that often reflects the more hawkish end of official Chinese opinion, reacted Sunday to news reports of the allegations raised by the UN panel by accusing Western news media and politicians of seeking to “stir trouble” and undermine Xinjiang’s stability.
“Peace and stability must come above all else,” it said in an editorial, and to achieve that, “all measures can be tried.”
While Chinese officials have not acknowledged widespread detentions in Xinjiang, scholars and activists have compiled evidence including construction work tenders, job postings, and satellite images that indicate a rapid expansion of camps in the region.
Some articles in state news media suggest the camps have been built to offer Uighurs training in Chinese language and job skills, but they seem to be on the fringes of developed areas, with high walls and fences that would suggest those sent there are not free to come and go. Accounts of friends and family members of those who have been sent to the camps or who have disappeared also suggest a widespread system of coercive detention.
Sarah Brooks, an Asia specialist for the International Service for Human Rights, an advocacy group, said that China’s answers to the UN panel were “par for the course,” keeping to “a long-standing tradition of the Chinese government to give nonanswers to deeply important questions.”
Members of the panel seemed similarly unimpressed. “We have to have more than a denial of allegations,” McDougall said, asking for details of how many people had been detained and on what grounds.
Time to get the U.S. Congre$$ involved(?):
"China rejects US lawmakers’ sanctions call over Muslim camps" by Christopher Bodeen Associated Press August 30, 2018
BEIJING — China said Thursday that US lawmakers were wasting taxpayer money by urging President Trump’s administration to impose sanctions on Chinese officials allegedly tied to the mass internment of ethnic minority Muslims in camps in the far west.
They are so good at doing that!
The lawmakers sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin urging the government to apply sanctions to address the ‘‘ongoing human rights crisis’’ in the region of Xinjiang, in the latest sign that the detentions are raising concerns among Western leaders and governments.
Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang are being detained and tortured and face ‘‘egregious restrictions on religious practice and culture’’ and other abuses, said the letter, which was signed by Florida Senator Marco Rubio and New Jersey Representative Chris Smith and 15 others. It was provided to the media on Wednesday.
Are they shooting them in the streets like over here?
The letter singles out Xinjiang’s top official, Chen Quanguo, accused by many of turning the region into a police surveillance state and implementing a system of internment camps, also known as ‘‘reeducation centers,’’ where members of the Uighur and other Muslim minorities are locked up for months without trial.
China's black sites!
Some guys are never getting out of Gitmo, you know.
Whadda ya' mean what is Gitmo?!
‘‘The detention of as many as a million or more Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in ‘political reeducation’ center or camps requires a tough, targeted, and global response,’’ the letter said.
Unless the area is the Gaza Strip or West Bank!!
Former detainees who spoke to The Associated Press described the internment camps as facilities policed by armed guards where Muslims were forced to disavow their religious beliefs, criticize themselves and their loved ones, and give thanks to the ruling Communist Party. Beatings and deaths have been reported, despite authorities’ tight control on information from the region.
You get the inference, right?
Chinese are Nazis.
The detention program has swept up people, including relatives of American citizens, on offenses ranging from accessing foreign websites to contacting overseas relatives. Other aspects of the security crackdown that the AP has detailed include all-encompassing digital surveillance, mass deployment of police, and severe regulations against religious customs and dress.
Like the no burka laws sweeping Europe and the Islamophobia about Shariah law here?
On Thursday in Beijing, the Foreign Ministry said Chinese citizens enjoy freedom of religion according to the law, and that the American lawmakers should not ‘‘threaten to impose sanctions at every turn on other countries.’’
‘‘I would like to advise the individual US lawmakers to focus on and perform their duties well because they are spending taxpayer money,’’ spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters. ‘‘They should certainly serve the Americans properly instead of poking their noses in other countries’ affairs and pretending to be a judge of human rights.’’
That's what a lot of us have been telling them, too!
China denies such internment camps exist but says criminals involved in minor offenses are sent to ‘‘vocational education and employment training centers’’ to help with their rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
Oh, China has a penal system?
China insists tough measures are needed as part of a ‘‘People’s War on Terror’’ to purge separatist and religious extremist elements from Xinjiang, a vast region with more than 10 million Muslims.
Oh, that's an in-your-face insult to the U.S.
China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter.
U.S. Weighs Sanctions Against Chinese Officials Over Muslims
China has already retaliated.
Time to occupy Taiwan:
"Hospital blaze in Taiwan kills 9 and injures dozens" New York Times August 13, 2018
NEW TAIPEI CITY, Taiwan — An early morning fire raged through a hospital floor filled with elderly patients Monday morning in Taiwan’s largest city, killing at least nine people and injuring two dozen more.
The fire broke out around 4:30 a.m. in a room for patients with chronic or long-term illnesses at the government-run Taipei Hospital in New Taipei City. Within an hour, firefighters had extinguished the blaze, but nine people died, all of whom were patients.
Kolas Yotaka, a spokeswoman for Taiwan’s government, said the cause is being investigated.
There were 32 patients, 10 nurses, and eight other workers on the floor when the fire broke out, according to a fire department statement. The blaze forced officials to transfer 206 patients to other hospitals.
While the rescue efforts seemed to go smoothly, some officials raised concerns about how the fire was able to spread so quickly in such an environment.
Ko Wen-je, the mayor of Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, said he “finds it quite odd” that such a fire was capable of breaking out in the hospital, given that normal hospital design should prevent such blazes. Ko is also a surgeon.
So what is he trying to say?
In July 2016, a fire in a retirement home in New Taipei’s Xindian district killed six people and injured 28.
Chinese agents lit the fire?
"China demands US cancel arms sale to Taiwan" Associated Press September 25, 2018
BEIJING — China on Tuesday demanded the United States cancel a $330 million sale of military equipment to Taiwan, warning of ‘‘severe damage’’ to bilateral relations and mutual cooperation if Washington fails to comply.
After they stole our stuff?
Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters at a regular briefing that the sale violated international law and the ‘‘basic norms governing international relations.’’
It was unclear what aspect of international law Geng was referring to.
‘‘We urge the US side to . . . immediately cancel this arms sale plan, and stop military contact with Taiwan so as to avoid severe damage to China-US ties, peace, and stability in the Taiwan Strait and bilateral cooperation in major fields,’’ Geng said.
China’s defense ministry issued a similar statement, saying the sale had ‘‘interfered in China’s internal affairs and harmed China’s sovereignty and security interests.’’
Washington has no official relations with Taiwan’s democratically elected government but is obliged by US law to see that it has the means to defend itself.
Set market for weapons $ales.
The Trump administration said Monday that it had approved the sale of spare parts and related support for Taiwan’s US-made F-16 fighters and other military aircraft.
The United States said the sale will improve Taiwan’s ability to defend itself without altering the basic military balance in Asia, where Washington and Beijing are increasingly competing for dominance. Taiwan split with the mainland in 1949 but Beijing continues to claim it as part of its territory and threatens to invade to bring under its control.
The arms sale coincides with a US decision to issue a visa ban and assets freeze on China’s Equipment Development Department and its director, Li Shangfu, over the purchase from Russia of Su-35 combat aircraft in 2017 and S-400 surface-to-air missile system-related equipment this year.
China’s purchase of the weapons from Rosoboronexport, Russia’s main arms exporter, violated a 2017 law intended to punish the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin for interfering in US elections and other activities.
The enemy of my enemy. You know.
In response, China summoned the American ambassador and defense attache to deliver a protest and recalled its navy commander from a US trip. China’s Defense Ministry said the United States had no right to interfere in Chinese military cooperation with Russia and demanded the sanctions be revoked.
You know, I don't want to take them on because we are going to lose and the psychopaths in charge of Israel will then go nuclear, and that result will be no good for everybody.
The Kremlin dismissed the sanctions as an ‘‘unfair’’ move to undercut Russia as a major arms exporter.
In a further sign of retaliation, China turned down a request for an October port call in Hong Kong by the US Navy’s amphibious assault ship USS Wasp, according to the US consulate in the semiautonomous Chinese territory. China last denied such a visit in 2016 amid a spike in tensions between the sides over the disputed South China Sea.
Geng, the foreign ministry spokesman, declined to give details, saying only that such requests were handled ‘‘case-by-case in accordance with the doctrine of sovereignty and specific situation.’’
How interesting, because Hong Kong would be next after securing Taiwan as a jumping point:
Thousands Protest in Hong Kong on Anniversary of Handover to China
China denies visa for US reporter
Petitioners, media demand to know why journalist was denied a visa to enter Hong Kong
All he wanted to cover was the trial:
"Hong Kong professor faces trial in ‘yoga ball killing’" New York Times August 28, 2018
HONG KONG — A yoga ball filled with carbon monoxide. An affair between a professor and his student. A dead wife and daughter.
Khaw Kim-sun, a 53-year-old Malaysian professor of anesthesiology in Hong Kong, is on trial on murder charges after the death of his wife and their 16-year-old daughter in May 2015, a case whose dramatic headlines and odd details have riveted the city.
The wife, Wong Siew-fing, 47, and daughter, Lily Li-ling Khaw, 16, were pronounced dead after their arrival at the Prince of Wales Hospital, where Khaw worked. A passing jogger had found them unresponsive in the family’s yellow Mini Cooper, and called police.
An autopsy found that the two had died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
The professor’s colleagues in the department of anesthesia and intensive care at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he also worked, later reported having seen him pumping carbon monoxide into yoga exercise balls the day before the killings. One ball, still inflated, was found under his desk. Another was found in the trunk of the Mini Cooper.
The toxic gas had been ordered for a rabbit experiment that Khaw had designed, but in court, the prosecutor described the experiment as a sham, questioning its scientific value and suggesting it was a means to obtain the gas for the “deliberate and calculated murder.”
Khaw, who has pleaded not guilty, told police that Lily might have tried to kill herself with the yoga ball.
In testimony last week, the family’s maid said that Khaw and his wife generally ate meals separately, slept in different rooms, and drove separate cars. A friend testified that Wong had known that her husband was having an affair with a student, Shara Lee, who had previously tutored the couple’s children in the family home.
May-ling Khaw, 22, the couple’s eldest daughter, took the stand Monday, portraying Khaw as a loving father despite his marital transgressions.
She said her father had exerted immense pressure on his children to excel despite any hurdles they faced, including learning disabilities or mental health issues. That constant pressure contributed to Lily having suicidal thoughts, she said.
Time to get out of town:
"By bridge and bullet train, Hong Kong is bound tighter to China" by Austin Ramzy New York Times September 24, 2018
HONG KONG — After months of debate and political discord, passengers started boarding high-speed trains at a new station in Hong Kong on Sunday morning, the formal launch of a multibillion-dollar transportation link that will tie the former British colony more closely to the rest of China.
Another project, the world’s longest sea bridge, is expected to open later this year. Like the train station, it is both an impressive engineering feat and a source of controversy. It will span the mouth of the Pearl River, linking Hong Kong with the mainland city of Zhuhai and the former Portuguese colony of Macau, the world’s biggest gambling hub.
Hong Kong officials say the projects are critical to economic development and will speed the movement of goods and people through the region, which the Chinese government wants to bind more tightly together, but many residents are concerned about what a Greater Bay Area, as China calls its vision of a more closely knit Pearl River Delta region, will mean for the city’s unique identity.
NIMBY in China.
Large-scale building projects, like the highway that linked Hong Kong with Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province, in the 1990s, helped secure the region’s status as a global manufacturing center, but analysts say the benefits of the latest projects are less clear, and some suspect that China’s desire to tighten its hold on Hong Kong trumped other concerns.
“I think it was obvious from the beginning that most likely political considerations were at least as important as economic reasons,” said Willy Lam, an adjunct professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong.
They aren't much different from us, American.
Both projects have seen delays, cost overruns, and other complications. Environmentalists fear the bridge will hasten the extinction of endangered Chinese white dolphins. At least 10 workers have been killed in accidents during its construction, and 19 people face criminal charges in Hong Kong over faked concrete quality tests, which have raised questions about the structure’s integrity and required costly reexaminations.
The high-speed rail station, which cost $10.8 billion, has been deeply contentious in Hong Kong because it will host Chinese officers who will enforce mainland laws in part of the terminal.
Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese control in 1997, has its own laws under a model called “one country, two systems,” with more robust protections for individual rights than in mainland China. It maintains a border with Guangdong province, but allowing mainland officers in the new station has, in a sense, moved the border south.
Pro-democracy politicians, legal scholars, and activists say that represents a further erosion of Hong Kong’s unique position within China.
“Both of these projects represent the physical connection between Hong Kong and mainland China,” said Victoria Hui, an associate professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame. “Of course the train station in particular goes all the way into the heart of Hong Kong with Chinese jurisdiction.”
Such concerns were inflamed this month when the mainland-controlled section of the terminus was handed over to Chinese officials in a brief, late-night ceremony, with no local news media invited. Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, denied any intent to keep the event a secret.
Lam was also forced to explain why some mainland officers would work overnight, despite promises they would return to Guangdong when the station closed each evening, and why the station had an additional basement level that had not been disclosed to the public.
The new rail line has been billed as cutting travel time to Guangzhou to 48 minutes from more than two hours, although trains stopping at stations in between will take longer. The line will also allow passengers from Hong Kong to connect to 38 long-haul destinations on China’s national high-speed rail network, including Beijing and Shanghai, but some potential passengers have balked at the service’s baggage limits, as well as ticket prices that offer little or no discount to flying.
“I don’t think there will be any benefit to me,” said Ling Chiang, 28, a commercial photographer who travels to the mainland about once a month for work. He goes to Guangzhou by train but said he would probably stick with air travel for more distant mainland destinations.
“Why waste time when the price is about the same?” he said.
The Hong Kong government estimated in 2015 that more than 109,000 passengers would take the train every day, but this year it lowered the forecast to 80,000. Still, Frank Chan, Hong Kong’s secretary for transportation and housing, said he was confident the project would be profitable from the start.
Both projects represent some of China’s biggest national infrastructure undertakings of the past decade. The high-speed rail system, which began 10 years ago, is the world’s largest, with more than 15,000 miles of track. The country has also built hundreds of dazzling bridges that set records for length and height.
As with the express trains to the mainland, expectations for the 34-mile bridge-and-tunnel project linking Hong Kong to the western side of the Pearl River have been scaled back. A 2008 forecast anticipated 172,000 daily passenger trips by 2030, but the government this year lowered the figure to 126,000.
One reason is that the manufacturing center of Shenzhen, which was cut out of the original plan, is building its own bridge about 20 miles to the north. The span will connect with the city of Zhongshan and is expected to open in 2023.
“This is a competitor to the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge,” said Yang Chun, a professor of geography at Hong Kong Baptist University. “Obviously it will dilute the transportation volume, because they are parallel.”
The Shenzhen-Zhongshan bridge will be entirely within mainland China, meaning users won’t have to go through the border controls maintained by Hong Kong and Macau. They also won’t have to switch from driving on the right side of the road, which is used in the mainland, to the left, the side used in both former colonies.
The 14-mile main span of the bridge cost $7 billion, of which the Hong Kong government will pay about $1.3 billion. Hong Kong spent an additional $13.7 billion to build connecting roads, tunnels and an artificial island for its border-crossing facilities. The drive between Hong Kong and Macau is expected to take about 45 minutes — far shorter than the current four hours to drive overland, but not much less than the hour or so it takes to go by ferry.
More doubts about the bridge project were raised in April. Photos of an artificial island where a 4-mile tunnel emerges near Hong Kong’s side of the river seemed to show that concrete tetrapods, structures meant to protect the island from erosion, had drifted away. The bridge authority said they were working as intended, but some engineers were unconvinced.
When Typhoon Mangkhut blew through the region last week, some of the bridge’s detractors in Hong Kong expressed hope that the structure would be washed away, but as Hong Kong cleaned up, it was still standing, apparently unharmed.
I can't imagine what kind of black-hearted person would hope that, and would expect their chi to be shit.
Related: Super typhoon is brewing in Pacific and heading to Hong Kong
Some tried to take a boat to beat it but.....
"A boat carrying dozens of Chinese tourists overturned Thursday in rough seas off southern Thailand and 49 passengers were unaccounted for, an official said. Strong winds were still blowing as searchers looked for the missing people off the tourist island of Phuket in the Andaman Sea. Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong said 48 passengers were rescued from the boat, with 49 unaccounted for. Police previously said 90 people had been rescued from the boat and just seven were missing. The reason for the discrepancy was not clear. Another boat also overturned off Phuket on Thursday. Officials said the 39 Chinese and European tourists who were forced to abandon that boat were rescued and have returned to land. Thai media showed photos of rescued people in large rubber life rafts at sea, with fishing boats and churning water in the background. The images also showed survivors being lifted from the rafts and sitting in life jackets amid ropes on the deck of what appears to be a fishing trawler. Phuket officials had earlier issued a warning of severe weather until Tuesday. "
And once the U.S. has been driven back?
"US recalls top diplomats from Latin America as worries rise over China’s influence" by Edward Wong New York Times September 08, 2018
WASHINGTON — The United States has recalled three chiefs of mission from Latin American nations that cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of recognizing China.
The move comes as US officials have expressed growing unease over China’s rising influence in the region.
The diplomats, who represent the United States in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and Panama, will meet with leaders in Washington “to discuss ways in which the United States can support strong, independent, democratic institutions throughout Central America and the Caribbean,” Heather Nauert, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said in a statement Friday.
Rather than undermining and/or overthrowing them?
For decades, Taiwan and China have competed for recognition. In 1979, the United States switched its support and officially established sovereign relations with China, and many other countries followed, but Washington has supported any decisions by nations to continue recognizing Taiwan, a self-governing island that China wants to bring under Communist Party rule.
In recent years, China has had success in courting Taiwan’s diplomatic partners. Only 17 nations recognize Taiwan; outside the Vatican and Swaziland, they are all islands in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, or countries in Latin America.
US officials have expressed growing concern over the shift. The United States sells arms to Taiwan and maintains a diplomatic presence there, called the American Institute in Taiwan, housed in a new $250 million compound. US officials see Taiwan’s de facto independence as an important hedge against Chinese dominance in the Asia-Pacific region — what the United States now calls the Indo-Pacific as it tries to strengthen ties with South Asian nations to balance against China.
Last month, El Salvador severed ties with Taiwan, prompting the White House to accuse China of “apparent interference” in El Salvador’s domestic politics. US officials fear that the four nations in Central America that still recognize Taiwan — Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua — could soon follow. In May, Burkina Faso switched recognition to China, leaving Swaziland as the lone holdout in Africa.
Related: Burkina Faso breaks ties with Taiwan in fresh blow to island
In June 2017, Panama cut ties with Taiwan, which surprised the US government. John Feeley, then-US ambassador to Panama, said he learned about the switch from President Juan Carlos Varela only an hour or so before Varela announced it, and only because he had called Varela to discuss an unrelated matter.
It looks to me like the world is increasingly ignoring the United States.
Feeley, who left his post in March and is now a consultant for Univision, said Saturday that the recall of top US diplomats was significant.
The diplomats returning to Washington are Robin Bernstein, ambassador to the Dominican Republic; Jean Manes, ambassador to El Salvador; and Roxanne Cabral, the chargé d’affaires in Panama. A State Department official said they would return to their posts by Sept. 14.
The move “is an appropriate and serious signal by the US government to those three countries and to the Chinese government that it is now reviewing the implications of the diplomatic switch and is worried that US interests could be jeopardized,” Feeley said.
“My sense is that they will be most focused on the issue of industrial and commercial espionage and the possibility of Beijing using its embassies to expand that activity in those countries and the Caribbean Basin,” he added.
China is the world’s second-largest economy and is expected to overtake the United States as the largest one in 10 to 15 years. It is difficult for any nation, especially a small one, to decide not to recognize the sovereignty of China.
Just as it is impossible for them to truly ignore the U.S. Have to give them lip service.
China and Taiwan have long engaged in what some observers call “checkbook diplomacy” to woo countries by offering aid or other incentives. China’s financial packages have increased in recent years, especially as it has promoted infrastructure projects abroad and related loans and contracts as part of what it calls its Belt and Road Initiative.
Yeah, only the U.S. Empire is allowed to interfere in other nations that way!
Jorge Guajardo, a former Mexican ambassador to China, said Saturday that the recall was “heavy handed.” The United States should not be surprised as Latin American governments push back against US requests, he added, when President Trump has continued to alienate the people of Latin America.
“Trump has openly and systematically offended Latin American countries and their people,” Guajardo wrote in an e-mail. “He labels us as rapists and criminals, has never traveled to the region as president, has deported and separated families, and threatened to cut all sort of aid. China comes with an offer of friendship and economic development (albeit one that I don’t think will pan out). Why the surprise?”
What would you choose, that or economic sanctions that produce suffering and possible military action?
The United States has yet to fill some ambassador posts in the region, including those in Mexico and Panama, Guajardo noted, whereas China has assigned ambassadors in all Latin American nations with which it has diplomatic relations.
Yeah, I can't imagine why a place like Venezuela would prefer China to the U.S.:
"Trump administration discussed coup plans with rebel Venezuelan officers" by Ernesto Londoño and Nicholas Casey New York Times September 08, 2018
The Trump administration held secret meetings with rebellious military officers from Venezuela over the last year to discuss their plans to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro, according to US officials and a former Venezuelan military commander who participated in the talks.
Establishing a clandestine channel with coup plotters in Venezuela was a big gamble for Washington, given its long history of covert intervention across Latin America. Many in the region still deeply resent the United States for backing previous rebellions, coups, and plots in countries like Cuba, Nicaragua, Brazil, and Chile, and for turning a blind eye to the abuses military regimes committed during the Cold War.
At least the Times admits that much.
The White House, which declined to answer detailed questions about the talks, said in a statement that it was important to engage in “dialogue with all Venezuelans who demonstrate a desire for democracy” in order to “bring positive change to a country that has suffered so much under Maduro,” but one of the Venezuelan military commanders involved in the secret talks was hardly an ideal figure to help restore democracy: He is on the US government’s own sanctions list of corrupt officials in Venezuela.
But he will be our boy!
He and other members of the Venezuelan security apparatus have been accused by Washington of a wide range of serious crimes, including torturing critics, jailing hundreds of political prisoners, wounding thousands of civilians, trafficking drugs and collaborating with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States.
All forgotten if he helps us. In fact, he will be rewarded.
US officials eventually decided not to help the plotters, and the coup plans stalled. But the Trump administration’s willingness to meet several times with mutinous officers intent on toppling a president in the hemisphere could backfire politically.
Look at this limited hangout piece of cover for the CIA!
Yeah, the U.S. decided not to go through with it and is sticking to it's covert destabilization plan.
The NYT should be ashamed of itself for carrying U.S. government water!
Most Latin American leaders agree that Venezuela’s president, Maduro, is an increasingly authoritarian ruler who has effectively ruined his country’s economy, leading to extreme shortages of food and medicine. The collapse has set off an exodus of desperate Venezuelans who are spilling over borders, overwhelming their neighbors.
Even so, Maduro has long justified his grip on Venezuela by claiming that Washington imperialists are actively trying to depose him, and the secret talks could provide him with ammunition to chip away at the region’s nearly united stance against him.
“This is going to land like a bomb” in the region, said Mari Carmen Aponte, who served as the top diplomat overseeing Latin American affairs in the final months of the Obama administration.
Beyond the coup plot, Maduro’s government has already fended off several small-scale attacks, including salvos from a helicopter last year and exploding drones as he gave a speech in August.
Venezuelan military officials sought direct access to the US government during Barack Obama’s presidency, only to be rebuffed, officials said.
Then in August of last year, President Trump declared that the United States had a “military option” for Venezuela — a declaration that drew condemnation from US allies in the region but encouraged rebellious Venezuelan military officers to reach out to Washington once again.
In a series of covert meetings abroad, which began last fall and continued this year, the military officers told the US government that they represented a few hundred members of the armed forces who had soured on Maduro’s authoritarianism.
Isn't that interfering in..... never mind.
The officers asked the United States to supply them with encrypted radios, citing the need to communicate securely, as they developed a plan to install a transitional government to run the country until elections could be held.
US officials did not provide material support, and the plans unraveled after a recent crackdown that led to the arrest of dozens of the plotters.
Relations between the United States and Venezuela have been strained for years. The two have not exchanged ambassadors since 2010. After Trump took office, his administration increased sanctions against top Venezuelan officials, including Maduro himself, his vice president and other top officials in the government.
The account of the clandestine meetings and the policy debates preceding them is drawn from interviews with 11 current and former US officials, and the former Venezuelan commander. He said at least three distinct groups within the Venezuelan military had been plotting against the Maduro government.
One established contact with the US government by approaching the US Embassy in a European capital. When this was reported back to Washington, officials at the White House were intrigued but apprehensive, but as the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela worsened last year, US officials felt that having a clearer picture of the plans and the men who aspired to oust Maduro was worth the risk.
The administration initially considered dispatching Juan Cruz, a veteran CIA official who recently stepped down as the White House’s top Latin America policy maker, but White House lawyers said it would be more prudent to send a career diplomat instead.
The former Venezuelan commander said that the rebellious officers never asked for a US military intervention. He claimed that he and his comrades considered striking last summer, when the government suspended the powers of the legislature and installed a new national assembly loyal to Maduro, but he said they aborted the plan, fearing it would lead to bloodshed.
They later planned to take power in March, the former officer said, but that plan leaked. Finally, the dissidents looked to the May 20 election, during which Maduro was reelected, as a new target date, but again, word got out and the plotters held their fire.
There is no indication that Maduro knew the mutinous officers were talking to the Americans at all.....
So it would have worked, if only..... SIGH!
"A powerful earthquake shook Venezuela’s northeastern coast on Tuesday, startling residents in the capital who evacuated buildings and briefly interrupting a pro-government rally. The US Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 7.3 and said it had a depth of 76 miles. Its epicenter was 12 miles off the sparsely populated Cariaco peninsula, which has seen several devastating quakes in the past. A witness in Cumana, the largest city near the epicenter, said there were initial reports of several injuries at a shopping center where an escalator fell, but that there were no other immediate signs of damage in the vicinity. In Caracas, concrete from the unfinished Tower of David office building fell to the sidewalk, creating a hazard. The quake was felt as far away as Colombia’s capital of Bogota, where authorities briefly closed the airport to inspect for runway damage. Power outages were reported across nearby Trinidad, where people ran into the street and gasped as large glass panes at one supermarket shattered and falling concrete smashed several cars....."
"US weighed cutting El Salvador aid over China" by Gardiner Harris New York Times September 29, 2018
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration considered severely penalizing El Salvador this month for severing diplomatic ties with Taiwan in a move that officials said was intended to signal a significant widening of the administration’s pushback against China.
The effort ultimately fizzled over concerns that the penalties — eliminating some foreign aid and imposing visa restrictions on certain individuals — would have made El Salvador unwilling to help stop the flow of people illegally entering the United States.
That poor little country has us by the balls?
The threat set off a furious internal debate between the White House and State Department, and pit US diplomats focused on China against those working on issues in the Western Hemisphere. It also displayed the administration’s determination to challenge China beyond a growing trade war, even before it settles on a clear strategy.
Beijing has been quietly carrying out a wide-ranging effort to vastly expand its trade and influence in Latin America, and in 2015, China passed the United States to become South America’s largest trading partner. In a speech on the eve of a trip through Latin America and the Caribbean in February, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned about the dangers of the region’s growing ties with China.
The proposed penalties were raised by the national security adviser, John R. Bolton, three US officials said, after El Salvador established sovereign relations with China in August. It was the third Latin American country in the past year to do so; the Dominican Republic cut ties to Taiwan in May, and Panama did so in June 2017.
China insists Taiwan is part of its territory. Currently, 17 nations have resisted recognizing Beijing’s diplomatic sovereignty, and China has been pushing harder against the last holdouts since Tsai Ing-wen, a critic of Beijing, became president of Taiwan in 2016.
The White House wanted to push back.
Bolton called President Salvador Sánchez Cerén of El Salvador and warned him not to sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan, a White House spokesman said. In August, Sánchez did it anyway.
In a blistering statement, the White House said Sánchez’s decision affected “the economic health and security of the entire Americas region,” but the State Department warned that such punitive measures would undercut a host of other administration priorities — including attempts to deter Central American migrants who have flooded the Southwestern border this year, seeking entry into the United States.
El Salvador received an estimated $140 million in US aid in 2017, including for narcotics controls, development, and economic support. The proposed penalties, which included cuts to financial aid and targeted visa restrictions, would have been painful for the Central American country and its high unemployment and murder rates.
As internal meetings progressed, North American and Central American officials postponed a high-level conference focused on security and economic prosperity to follow up a similar gathering in 2017 that was seen as a step forward in efforts to prevent migrants from heading to the United States, but by mid-September, top administration officials made clear that they wanted the conference to go forward, effectively ending any consideration of penalties for El Salvador.
Trump backed down?!
Have we ever seen that before?
"UN court rejects Bolivia’s Pacific Ocean access case" Associated Press October 01, 2018
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The United Nations’ highest court has rejected landlocked Bolivia’s bid to force Chile to the negotiating table over granting access to the Pacific Ocean.
In a legal ruling Monday from the Hague-based International Court of Justice that was broadcast live throughout Bolivia, the 15-judge panel said that a string of agreements, memorandums, and statements produced over decades of talks hadn’t created a legal obligation on Chile to enter negotiations. In a sweeping rejection of the Bolivian case, the court, by a 12-3 majority, dismissed eight different legal arguments presented by Bolivia’s lawyers. The court’s rulings are final and binding.
In Chile, President Sebastian Pinera described it as ‘‘a great day’’ for the country.
He also accused his Bolivian counterpart, Evo Morales, who was in court for the hearing, of ‘‘creating false expectations.’’
Bolivia lost its only coast to neighboring Chile during an 1879-1883 war and the nation has demanded ocean access for generations. Chile’s coastline stretches some 2,675 miles.
At hearings in March, the former Bolivian president, Eduardo Rodriguez Veltze, told judges: ‘‘Restoring Bolivia’s sovereign access to the sea would make a small difference to Chile, but it would transform the destiny of Bolivia,’’ but Chile argued that its border with Bolivia was settled in a 1904 treaty and that it had no obligation to negotiate.
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic:
"China races to corral a deadly outbreak of African Swine Fever before it spreads" Washington Post August 29, 2018
BEIJING — Chinese officials are scrambling to stop a deadly African swine fever outbreak that could decimate the country’s pig population.
Since early August, the virus has spread to four provinces across 745 miles. The budding epidemic could endanger the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of hog farmers and jeopardize China’s enormous pork industry. There are about 700 million pigs in China, half the world’s pig population. Pork is the country’s primary protein source.
I always get pork fried rice.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization warned that if China cannot quickly contain the virus, it could jump to the Korean Peninsula and Southeast Asia, creating a continent-wide crisis.
African swine fever has no impact on humans, but it is extremely deadly in pigs — the most virulent strands of the virus kill nearly 100 percent of infected hogs.
There is no vaccine or treatment, and the virus is tough to eradicate. It can survive for several weeks in cold or warm weather, living in pork products, in slaughterhouses, and on the back of trucks used to transport swine.
China’s first African swine fever cases appeared in Liaoning province in early August. In the following weeks, officials said the disease had spread to three other provinces. Chinese authorities have culled 24,000 animals.
Also see: China reports 4th outbreak this month of African swine fever
I would say call in Interpol, but.....
"Interpol president reported missing during trip to China" by Elaine Ganley Associated Press October 05, 2018
PARIS — He left his home in Lyon, France, for a visit to his homeland, and then vanished — putting the International Criminal Police Organization, best known as Interpol, at the center of its own missing persons case.
Meng Hongwei, Interpol’s president, boarded a plane and arrived in China, according to a French judicial official, but then, nothing. His wife, who put out a call on Friday, said she hasn’t heard from her 64-year-old husband since the end of September, the official said.
To make matters murkier, Meng is not just the head of Interpol: He’s also a vice minister for public safety in China.
Interpol, based in Lyon, would say only that reports that its president is missing is ‘‘a matter for the relevant authorities in both France and China.’’
France launched its own investigation on Friday morning, according to the judicial official who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly and asked for anonymity.
See: Friday's French Toast
Whether China was taking action was unknown, but the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong newspaper, hinted that Meng may have been the latest target of an ongoing campaign against corruption in China.
The newspaper said that upon landing last week Meng was ‘‘taken away’’ for questioning by what it said were ‘‘discipline authorities.’’ The term usually describes investigators in the ruling Communist Party who probe graft and political disloyalty. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party’s secretive internal investigation agency, had no announcements on its website about Meng and could not be reached for comment.
Meng is the first from his country to serve as Interpol’s president, a post that is largely symbolic but powerful in status and not without political weight, but because Interpol’s secretary general is responsible for the day-to-day running of the police agency’s operations, Meng’s absence may have little operational effect.
Far from being a Hollywood-style agency with agents toting weapons across the globe, Interpol is low-profile and discreet about its cases, unless it wants to talk.
The organization links up police officials of its 192 member states, who can use Interpol to disseminate their search for a fugitive, or a missing person. Only at the behest of a country does the information go public via a ‘‘red notice,’’ the closest thing to an international arrest warrant. ‘‘Yellow notices’’ are issued for missing persons, but Interpol walks a fine line between its noble mission — facilitating international police cooperation — and the politics and policies of some of its member countries.
Meng’s appointment as president in 2016 — amid Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s sweeping anti-corruption drive — alarmed some human rights organizations, fearful it would embolden China to strike out at dissidents and refugees abroad.
Such actions would be contrary to Interpol’s mission statement: ‘‘Action is taken within the limits of existing laws in different countries and in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.’’ It adds that ‘‘intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character’’ are prohibited.
Meng has a shiny curriculum vita, having held down various positions within China’s security establishment, including as a vice minister of public security — the national police force — since 2004. In the meantime, he served as head and deputy head of branches of the coast guard, all while holding positions at Interpol.
His term in Lyon runs until 2020.
His duties in China would have put him in close proximity to former leaders, some who had fallen afoul of Xi’s campaign. He likely dealt extensively with former security chief Zhou Yongkang, now serving a life sentence for corruption.
Xi has placed a premium on getting officials and businesspeople accused of fraud and corruption to return from abroad, making Meng’s position even more sensitive.
The anti-corruption drive recently drew headlines after the disappearance three months ago of ‘‘X-Men’’ star Fan Bingbing, one of the country’s best-known actresses.
China, in the midst of a weeklong holiday, offered no comment on Meng’s disappearance.
Pre$$ kept looking for him:
"Interpol president is detained by China and has quit his post" New York Times October 07, 2018
The Chinese Communist Party announced late Sunday that the missing president of Interpol, Meng Hongwei, was under investigation on “suspicion of violating the law” and was “under the supervision” of an anticorruption watchdog tied to the party.
The statement of his detention and his subsequent stepping down came a day after Interpol demanded answers from the Chinese government on the whereabouts of Meng.
The detention of Meng, 64, is a stunning move by the party, even by the standards of the increasingly authoritarian system under the leadership of President Xi Jinping. China seeks legitimacy and a leadership role in international organizations, and Meng’s appointment in November 2016 as the president of Interpol, the first one from China, was seen by many as a significant step in that direction.
The announcement of his detention came hours after Meng’s wife, Grace, told reporters in Lyon, France, where the two were living, that before her husband vanished on a trip to China, he had sent her a phone message with an emoticon of a knife.
She interpreted the knife image to mean “he is in danger,” she said in a brief statement to reporters Sunday in Lyon, where the international policing organization is headquartered.
Grace Meng gave her statement at a hotel in Lyon, keeping her back to reporters so that her face would not be captured on camera, a precaution that she said was for security reasons both for herself and her children.
She said she received the message with the knife image shortly after Meng Hongwei had arrived in China. It came just four minutes after she received a message from him saying, “Wait for my call,” she said.
She has not heard from him again. She reported his disappearance to French police on Oct. 4. A French police investigation is underway, with authorities saying that he had boarded a plane and arrived in China, but that his subsequent whereabouts was unknown.
Is he a Uighur?
In addition to serving as president of the international crime fighting body, Meng is also vice minister in the Chinese Ministry of Public Security.
The central commission can detain party officials for months or years while carrying out an investigation. The commission often concludes an investigation by stripping the official of party membership, stating the official’s violations of party regulations and referring the official to the justice system for criminal prosecution.
Imagine if we had that here!
Since Xi took power as president of China, the commission has gone on a wide-ranging anticorruption campaign that has touched every level of the party.
Meng’s detention means that internal party dynamics supersede any concern by the party about international legitimacy or transparency.
It is unclear what led to his apparent downfall — a power struggle within the party or an actual case of corruption officials deemed to be beyond the pale.
There have been investigations of prominent figures in the anticorruption campaign. The most notable has been that of Zhou Yongkang, a former member of the elite Politburo Standing Committee and top security official. Many analysts of Chinese politics say Xi viewed Zhou as a rival and used the anticorruption campaign to imprison him.
In 2015, Zhou was convicted by a criminal court of abusing power, accepting bribes, and revealing state secrets; he was sentenced to life in prison. His wife and son were sentenced the next year for taking bribes.
Over the summer, officials secretly detained Fan Bingbing, one of China’s most famous actresses. Her disappearance in July prompted wild speculation for months. Last week, Chinese officials announced that she had been fined almost $130 million for tax evasion.
Meng was last seen leaving Interpol headquarters in Lyon for his trip to China. His wife and children had moved with him to Lyon after his appointment.
Under the terms of Interpol’s constitution, the acting senior vice president, Kim Jong-yang of South Korea becomes acting president.
At her news conference Sunday, Grace Meng said she had decided to speak publicly because she felt it was her responsibility to do so.
“From now on, I have gone from sorrow and fear to the pursuit of truth, justice and responsibility toward history,” she said. “For the husband whom I deeply love, for my young children, for the people of my motherland, for all the wives and children’s husbands and fathers to no longer disappear.”
China's version of Christine Blasey Ford?
"Interpol chief’s fall undermines China’s role in global law enforcement" by Steven Lee Myers and Chris Buckley New York Times October 08, 2018
BEIJING — A year ago, the chief of Interpol, Meng Hongwei of China, watched as his country’s president, Xi Jinping, proudly told the organization that China would play a growing role in global law enforcement. China was among the safest countries in the world and “abided by international rules,” Xi told 1,000 delegates at Interpol’s general assembly in Beijing.
Now, Meng has fallen afoul of the opaque, highly politicized legal system that critics said should have disqualified him from appointment to Interpol in the first place. On Monday, China’s minister of public security, Zhao Kezhi, told a meeting of senior police officials that Meng was accused of taking bribes and other crimes.
Neither Zhao nor the Foreign Ministry gave details or said whether they had taken place before or after his election as Interpol’s president in 2016.
Meng’s mysterious disappearance has left a cloud of uncertainty hanging over Chinese officials and the international bodies that are increasingly giving them leadership roles. It dealt a spectacular, self-inflicted blow to China’s efforts to prove itself ready for more prominent roles in global affairs.
What if he is guilty of crimes?
“Imagine if China were to somehow, someday, get a UN secretary-general, and then he too one day disappeared,” said Michael Caster, a researcher and human rights advocate in Bangkok. “The brazenness with which China operates outside all concept or procedure of international norms is really concerning.”
Unless it is Zionist Israel.
The biggest question is why Xi’s government approved the downfall of a man it had put forward to lead the organization, which coordinates law enforcement activities between 192 member countries.
The web version will have to answer that:
Caster contrasted China’s handling of Meng with the criminal allegations that ended the career of Dominique Strauss-Kahn as managing director of the International Monetary Fund. The charges in that case — involving accusations of sexual assault on a hotel maid in New York City in 2011 — were handled in a transparent way that is absent in Chinese prosecutions, especially in politically delicate cases. They ended with criminal charges being dropped against Strauss-Kahn, who settled a civil suit.
Who remembers him, and that was way before #MeToo!
Meng was charged by the National Supervisory Commission, an anti-corruption body created in March to intensify the country’s campaign against graft and to give it firmer legal cladding. China’s courts and prosecutors answer to the Communist Party, and they rarely reject anti-corruption investigators’ findings. Meng’s detention is almost tantamount to a conviction.
Only after days of silence — and an unusual news conference by Meng’s wife — did China acknowledge it was holding him and submit his resignation to Interpol.
Meng has already become one of the most spectacular examples of how Xi’s drive for control offers little safety for officials, even for senior representatives of global organizations.
Meng’s appointment, like his detention, almost certainly had the approval of Xi himself. The Ministry of Public Security is one of the pillars of Communist Party control, and corruption at its top also carries the odor of political betrayal.
Zhao, the minister of public security, hinted at the meeting Monday that Meng’s misdeeds were part of the “toxic residues” left by Zhou Yongkang, the once-powerful, grim-faced former chief of domestic security who was imprisoned for life on corruption charges in 2015.
Meng’s downfall is “entirely the outcome of his sticking to his own ways, and he only has himself to blame,” Zhao said. “It fully shows that there are no special privileges or exceptions before the law.”
Yet until a couple of weeks ago, Meng, 64, was apparently at the height of a career built on enhancing China’s international reach and respectability in law enforcement. His election as president of Interpol symbolized how Chinese policing was becoming globally respected.
As president of Interpol, he was based in Lyon, the French city where the organization has its headquarters, and he regularly gave speeches promoting Interpol’s priorities and China’s contribution to them.
In addition to his position at Interpol, Meng was a vice minister of public security, and he appeared to win promotion as a steady hand managing China’s growing international policing interests and priorities.
He supported China’s contribution to UN peacekeeping efforts in Libya and other troubled areas. He helped oversee a Chinese-led campaign to stamp out violent crime on the Mekong River in Southeast Asia. And he had a hand in Chinese police operations that reached abroad, including Operation Fox Hunt, which sought to repatriate hundreds of former Chinese officials and businesspeople who had fled abroad and were suspected of corruption.
At a regular news briefing Monday, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Lu Kang, said China’s commitment to international police cooperation would not be dented by Meng’s fall.
“As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and as a responsible great power, China will continue playing the role that it should in international affairs, especially multilateral bodies,” Lu said.
You gotta respect that.
"Wife of ex-Interpol boss describes threats" by John Leicester and Gillian Wong Associated Press October 09, 2018
LYON, France — The wife of the former Interpol president who disappeared in China revealed that she had received a threatening phone call warning of agents coming for her — but said she would keep fighting for information about her husband’s fate.
In her first one-on-one interview since Meng Hongwei went missing, Grace Meng denied bribery allegations against her high-profile husband, and said that speaking out about his disappearance was placing her ‘‘in great danger.’’
Meng Hongwei — who is also China’s vice minister of public security — vanished while on a trip home to China late last month. A long-time Communist Party insider with decades of experience in China’s sprawling security apparatus, the 64-year-old is the latest high-ranking official to fall victim to a sweeping purge against allegedly corrupt or disloyal officials under President Xi Jinping’s authoritarian administration.
Looks like the pre$$ has already acquitted him.
Speaking late Monday at a hotel in Lyon, France, where Interpol is based, Grace Meng said her husband had been gone for more than a week on a trip to China when she got a threatening call on her mobile phone from a man speaking in Chinese.
She had just put their two young boys to bed at home in Lyon and recalled that her last contact with her husband was by text message, on Sept. 25, when Meng wrote ‘‘wait for my call’’ and sent her an emoji image of a knife after traveling back to China, but Meng did not call.
Instead, a man who didn’t identify himself did.
‘‘You listen but you don’t speak,’’’ she described him as saying. He continued: ‘‘We’ve come in two work teams, two work teams just for you.’’
She said the only clue the caller gave about his identity was saying that he used to work for Meng, suggesting that the man was part of China’s security apparatus. He also said he knew where she was.
Why would he implicate himself and them in a phone call?
Does that make sense?
As a result, Grace Meng is now under French police protection.
Now it does.
By speaking out about her husband’s fate, she has taken a step practically unheard of in Chinese politics, where such moves are seen as confrontational.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Tuesday in Beijing.
Chinese authorities said Monday that Meng Hongwei was being lawfully investigated for taking bribes and other crimes that were a result of his ‘‘willfulness.’’ Hours earlier, Interpol said Meng had resigned as the international police agency’s president. It was not clear whether he did so of his own free will.
His wife suggested that the bribery accusation was just an excuse for a lengthy detention.
‘‘As his wife, I think he’s simply incapable of this,’’ she said. She said she would be willing to make their bank accounts public.
She said that she spoke out in hopes that doing so might help other families in similar circumstances.
‘‘I feel like I have a responsibility to stand up. Only when you’ve been through this much pain can you understand that even more people have been suffering,’’ she said.
She refused to provide her real name to the Associated Press, saying she was too afraid for the safety of her relatives in China. It is not customary for Chinese wives to adopt their husbands’ names. Mrs. Meng said she has done so now to show her solidarity with her husband. Her English name, Grace, is one she has long used, she said.
I guess the Chinese are more progressive than AmeriKa, and wouldn't Chinese authorities already know who she is and to which family she belongs?
A French judicial official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that police are investigating the threat against Grace Meng but said the probe has yet to determine whether there were indeed Chinese teams sent to Lyon.
Better be real, then.
China’s move to go after Meng, an official with an international standing, was unusually audacious even for an administration that under Xi’s leadership has sought to assert its interests more aggressively on the global stage.
Poland’s interior minister, Joachim Brudzinski, said on the sidelines of a meeting in Lyon Tuesday that Beijing could act ‘‘in an ostentatious way, without limit’’ because it has learned how to act with impunity.
Who are they to talk?
Grace Meng wouldn’t speculate on why her husband may have fallen out of favor, saying he had stayed above the secrecy-shrouded world of factional party politics.
She described her husband as a man of modest beginnings, the fifth of six children whose parents were school teachers. He rose through the ranks based on his own merit, she said, and always remained an idealist who longed to see the rule of law established in China, but China’s beleaguered rights activists point out that as someone with a seat atop the country’s powerful public security apparatus, Meng has helped build the opaque system of largely unchecked power wielded by the ruling Communist Party to which he’s now fallen victim.
‘‘Once an issue becomes political, there is no law. This has happened even to Meng Hongwei himself,’’ said Hu Jia, a Beijing-based rights activist who is frequently placed under house arrest for his critical comments. ‘‘If his wife weren’t in France and speaking to the media, his case would have been locked in a black box.’’
Like a rendered terrorist, right?
At least the Chinese have an ally in Pakistan.
Did you know that the Chinese are not that smart?