Aung San Suu Kyi On Trial In Burma

Four months after a military government ousted the elected government of Burma, the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi has begun.

An iconic leader known around the world, Ms. Suu Kyi, 75, faces decades in prison if convicted – to many Burmese a foregone conclusion – in a nation stricken with corruption and brutal crackdowns on anyone opposing the military junta of Min Aung Hlaing.

Ms. Suu Kyi has initially been charged with the minor ‘crime‘ of having in her possession a number of unlicensed walkie-talkies. Violations of COVID related restrictions were also added to the charge sheet.

It is understood the widow of a Cuban born English scholar, Michael Aris, under house-arrest since the February 1st coup has only met with her lawyers twice since being detained, but in a trial set to start today could be convicted of sedition – a charge that carries a maximum penalty of 14 years if proven.

She will later face allegations of corruption after reportedly accepting US$600,000 and an estimated 11kg of gold.

Speaking to the AFP in recent days, Ms. Suu Kyi’s lawyer Khin Maung Zaw said “There is an undeniable political background to keep her out of the scene of the country and to smear her prestige,” adding “That’s one of the reasons to charge her – to keep her out of the scene.”

If convicted of corruption under Burmese law, she faces a further 15 years in prison.

In a globally covered coup, Burma’s military seized power claiming voter fraud in elections that had been deemed free and fair by independent election overseers, and in the months since have cracked down on all dissent.

To date an estimated 800 pro-democracy activists have been killed with around 5,000 detained.

Ms. Suu Kyi had in recent years come in for a great deal of international criticism for her treatment of the Rohingya Muslim minority in a series of ongoing persecutions by Burma’s military it is believed she did little to stop.

As early as 2014, Myanmar’s then military government instructed the nation’s media to refrain from coverage of Rohingya related issues – a move Ms. Suu Kyi made no effort to change when in power.

Korea Latest In Asia To Signal Interest In Floating NPPs

Staff: Tokyo & Taipei: The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) in Daejeon, South Korea along with globally renowned domestic shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) last week declared an interest in the joint development of molten salt reactors – MSR – used in marine propulsion as well as floating nuclear power plants.

A joint cooperation agreement was reportedly signed by KAERI and SHI on June 8th, albeit at the Shanghai Heavy’s Geoje Shipyard; Beijing several years ago signaled its own intent to moved into floating nuclear power plants with early reports in trade media claiming authorities in the Chinese capital were looking to add scores of floating NPPs over the next few decades.

MSR technology, according to Jin-taek Jeong, president of SHI “is a carbon-free energy source that can efficiently respond to climate change issues and is a next-generation technology that meets the vision of Samsung Heavy Industries.”

MSR tech too, in the possible future development of global shipping options, “can be a game changer in international logistics. MSR is a carbon-free energy source that can efficiently respond to climate change issues,” KAERI President Won-seok Park went on to add.

Samsung Heavy was earlier this year seen to be hedging its bets in future shipping propulsion options somewhat by also moving into increased research and development of both ammonia and hydrogen power to work towards alternative energy ship propulsion possibilities.

Floating nuclear options have become a significant talking point in atomic energy circles in recent years, particularly in East Asia, with KEPCO of South Korea and another South Korean shipping heavyweight, Daewoo, in 2020, agreeing an MoU on the development of probable small-scale floating NPPs.

Over 4000 km to the north east in the isolated East Siberian Sea town of Pevek, Russia too is now moving into floating NPP development, as is China by way of its state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation in Beijing, alongside another state-owned entity based in Shenzen near Hong Kong – China General Nuclear.

Image: Ant Rozetsky – Unsplash

Lawyers File ICC Complaint Against China For Seizing Uyghurs Who Fled Abroad

WASHINGTON, June 10, 2021 – Lawyers acting on behalf of The East Turkistan Government in Exile, the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement, and Uyghur victims of Chinese oppression, have submitted a new dossier of evidence to the International Criminal Court (ICC) Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) establishing that there is jurisdiction to open an investigation into the Genocide and Crimes against Humanity committed against Uyghur and other Turkic peoples by Chinese authorities

The evidence shows that Uyghurs have been targeted, rounded up, deported and disappeared from Tajikistan back into occupied East Turkistan (Xinjiang) by Chinese operatives. It demonstrates that Chinese authorities have directly intervened in Tajikistan.

The ICC, therefore, has jurisdiction over these actions which start in Tajikistan and continue into China Occupied East Turkistan. The OTP is requested to open an ICC investigation without delay.

The evidence gathered to date shows that over the past 10-15 years the number of Uyghurs living in Tajikistan has been reduced from an estimated 3000 to approximately 100. This reduction in the numbers of Uyghurs in Tajikistan largely occurred from 2016 to 2018.

That is an 85- 90% reduction of the Uyghur population in Tajikistan over this period of time. The evidence also shows that the China-Tajik border is heavily controlled by Chinese authorities. 

There is a newly constructed Chinese border fence made up of three layers of barbed wire in the area of the Kulma pass, which is the main entry point into – and out of – China Occupied East Turkistan. It has cameras, Chinese flags, and patrols along it. This fence is well within Tajik territory.

There is also evidence of a newly-built Chinese military base around the Rangkul area of Tajikistan in addition to the already existing base in Badakhshan.

“Based on this new dossier of evidence presented to the ICC Prosecutor, showing the actions of Chinese authorities directly in Tajikistan – an ICC State Party – it is clear that the ICC does have jurisdiction to open an investigation. The evidence shows a highly organized and systematic plan by the Chinese authorities to round up Uyghurs living in an ICC State Party and deport them back into China where they are never heard from again,” Rodney Dixon QC said after the new evidence was submitted.

“Although it is very depressing to see this new evidence, especially the terrifying extent to which Chinese authorities are acting even outside East Turkistan, I feel a sense of hope that the ICC will open an investigation,” Prime Minister Salih Hudayar of the East Turkistan Government in Exile said.“This will be the first step for ending the atrocities East Turkistan’s people have gone through including many of my own family members. Much more needs to be done to end the genocide of Uyghurs and we have great hope that the ICC will agree that they do have jurisdiction and the ability to investigate and prosecute these crimes. It is now more critical than ever, given that numerous governments and parliaments have already recognized this ongoing genocide.” 

Images: supplied

New Zealand Struggles To Handle China

New Zealand is a part of the Five Eyes (FVEY) intelligence alliance; five western nations who nominally at least share intelligence issues with each other.

The countries have been in a loose form of alliance since the end of the Cold War.

All – the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – recently decided that their secret alliance should move from behind closed doors, and that they should openly do more to oppose human rights violations around the world.

In theory it is a brilliant idea, but in reality, it has already run into trouble because of New Zealand.

While the rest of the countries have jointly condemned China’s concentration camps thinly veiled as “re-education camps” for the Uyghur Muslims, New Zealand has remained largely silent on the issue.

This comes as a surprise as New Zealand is very outspoken on Human Rights matters in general.

However, recently the Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta stated that New Zealand felt uncomfortable in appearing to corner China on the issue.

While it is not necessary for New Zealand to harshly criticize Beijing on the world stage it is certainly surprising that they decided to stay silent at a critical time in regional history, especially as China continues to suppress dissent in Hong Kong, and continues to coerce Taiwan to give in to its demands that the island nation is an integral part of China – even though both have completely separate political and legal systems.

All the while, more and more news is coming out of China about forced sterilizations of Uyghur women, and slave labor forced on Uyghurs by Chinese authorities in the form of cotton picking, as well as attempts to force the Uyghurs to disavow Islam by making them eat pork.

It is important to know at this juncture that China is New Zealand’s largest partner, making up around 30% of New Zealand’s overall trade equating to about US$10.8 billion.

Wellington’s second largest partner, far behind China, is Australia with cross-Tasman trade making up about 12.7%, or about US$4.8 billion of New Zealand’s total trade.

Most of New Zealand’s exports to China come in the form of dairy products, and it appears New Zealand is afraid of what happened to Australia after Canberra stood up to Beijing over the treatment of the Uyghurs; in an act of punishment China cut down on Australian wine imports by a staggering 96%.

China has already – clearly – decided to make enemies of most nations that they say or do anything that China doesn’t like, and the Communist Party in Beijing have long been leveraging favorable economic ties with countries around the world to stop them asking critical questions about China’s slide into fascism under President Xi Jinping.

New Zealand is starting to show signs of a national backbone emerging, however.

After China’s treatment of Australia, Kiwi Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was quoted saying that the differences in their values were getting harder to reconcile.

Perhaps Prime Minister Ardern could not be more direct about her stance at present for fear of economic repercussions. Perhaps her approach to Beijing is simply ‘pakaru’ to use a Kiwi term.

COVID-free travel between New Zealand and Australia has only just started after both nations closed their respective borders to the rest of the world for much of the past 15 months, and it seems at present that New Zealand was looking to appease its long-time partner Australia ahead of Prime Minister Morrison’s visit to New Zealand late in May.

This appears to be the case with New Zealand also trying to moderate between Australia and China to help facilitate better relations between the two.

For now this appears the only way New Zealand can maintain it’s trade relations with China while also supporting its neighbor Australia.

China’s ever-growing influence and how to counter it in the halls of power on both sides of the Tasman Sea is expected to be a long standing focal point for Australia and New Zealand to hammer out though.

Until then, New Zealand remains the weak link in the FVEY, and China knows it. 

Image: Ulysse Bellier

Taiwan – A Land Of Foreign Green Experts

but expert at what?

For much of May 2021, Taiwan was a nation on edge. And as we move into mid-June, things are pretty much the same.

Millions around the country have been living under a form of COVID-induced quasi-lockdown for several weeks. Increasing numbers are dying, and several hundred new cases are added to the national tally of infections on a daily basis.

The CDC are proving more reactionary than proactive on the surface. Little emerging from the depths seems to indicate otherwise, especially as the weeks trundle on.

Figures of those infected were for a long time backdated in an interesting at best, bizarre at worst, record keeping methodology seen in few other developed nations.

At present the jury is out on whether or not things will improve in the near future.

Taiwan being Taiwan though, it depends who you ask as to whether or not the country is slipping into the pandemic abyss occupied by so many other unfortunate nations around the world for so long.

So-called ‘Pan-Blue’ media, would have us believe the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government of President Tsai Ing-wen is doing nothing to alleviate the shortage of vaccines as it plays politics and shuns offers of help in any way, shape or form – if linked to our overbearing cousin across the Taiwan Strait.

For many supporters of Pan-Blue media, Tsai is damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t.

Pan-Green types are equally blinkered and monotone in their rhetoric.

Few in this camp get through a paragraph of written commentary without trying to accuse the once almighty Kuomintang (KMT) of trying to derail the ruling party’s efforts at vaccine acquisition, whilst simultaneously avoiding anything even slightly critical of President Tsai and her party.

The Chinese language media in Taiwan offers up examples of both versions of the ‘truth’ and is reasonably well balanced. But newspaper A – you know you are getting the Blue Truth. Newspaper B offers up the Green Truth.

The reality lies somewhere in the middle.

However, the English language media covering Taiwan offers far slimmer pickings overall, but is almost entirely made up of Pan-Green types – albeit most without a vote – blinkers firmly attached, keyboards set to ‘viridi‘.

There is but one rather bland print newspaper in the English language in Taiwan – The Taipei Times – and a handful of online news sites and blogs of varying levels of journalistic integrity and balance. Some demonstrate investigative talents, others publish pieces seemingly written in an alcoholic stupor.

All lean left. None lean right.

Few ever get near the middle ground on a political ranking chart.

This in itself should serve as a warning that little coming out of Taiwan, in English at least, is balanced, let alone fair.

It is much the same with international correspondents for big name media with just one or two notable exceptions who at times seek to venture back towards the middle ground of journalism/reporting they once learned about.

Praise for President Tsai – often justified, not always – abounds in coverage sent to foreign newsrooms. Criticism, when due, is on a par with sightings of Formosan black bears – in the wild! Very hard to find indeed.

As a result the majority of those covering Taiwan in English, either based here in Taiwan, or elsewhere but for media around the globe, are now struggling with how to address issues the arrival of COVID on these shores is throwing up.

WFH – the popular abbreviation nowadays for Work From Home – has now become a focal point for many in Taiwan’s comfortably-off western led foreign community to rally around and criticize the society – but rarely the government – that could do no wrong for the past year.

As we enjoyed open air events, indoor get togethers, and zero limitations on travel, shopping, dining out etc., those now decrying societal approaches to working in Taiwan were silent. They quite happily pocketed paychecks above and beyond those enjoyed by their neighbors, but said nothing about the working conditions these neighbors endured – and continue to endure.

Now that the virus has come knocking in audible tones though, the English language ranks of Taiwan’s social media is full of experts on how the WFH concept should work, should have already been set up, and how backward employers in Taiwan are for not immediately allowing everyone to clock-in from their sofa, while still in their PJs.

And none of this blame is being attributed to those in power for the past five years.

Employers only being ‘encouraged‘ by the ruling elite to allow WFH is ignored.

The blame for not acting lies with the employers themselves. Imagine that – business types for whom money matters most doing what brings them the most money.

That ‘unseeing, unidentifiable’ go-to when nothing else will fit the bill is to blame – society.

A safe will o’ the wisp type scapegoat if you will.

At the same time, the party that the majority of said ‘Taiwanese society’ opted for as their leaders in the past two elections remains largely unchallenged by those western raised or educated greens without a vote.

So, where was this expertise and concern for labor issues, this activism and these demands over the last year when these same hard-done-by souls were promoting pineapple diplomacy, and oftentimes boasting, cringingly so, on Facebook and Twitter of how ‘normal’ life here in Taiwan was?

How many were WFHing last summer, as the seasons turned and the nights became darker? How many lost sleep over the dormitories and working conditions migrant workers have long been forced to endure?

The intricacies of epidemiology and global medical supply systems are other areas of expertise so many in the western foreign community in particular now espouse and take to the WWW to demonstrate.

Soon after the daily 2:00 pm CDC press conference at which we learn of the latest stats, the numbers of those infected, those now dead, and of new hotspots, up pop the experts to ‘interpret’ the truth behind the numbers; experts with, one might cynically say, more time spent propping up bars around Taipei in the past 12 months, than hours spent studying the method in which viruses spread, mutate and generally cause mischief.

How is it then, with so many experts in such fields as varied as virology, pandemic management, labor rights and pineapples, that we in Taiwan were not able to sidestep the virus altogether?

How are so many green leaning, foreign experts able to offer immediate solutions to this pandemic, but not know at whose feet societal responsibilities for these woes we now face should be placed?

Unless – they are not experts – and never were.

Do Nothing: Civil Disobedience In China 

Something is happening in China.

It is not a revolution, nor a movement. It is a new attitude to life. This new attitude is coalescing into revulsion at crony capitalism and the hectic pace of life in China where money is king and the rest counts for nothing.

This new attitude which is spreading among Chinese in their twenties and thirties is termed “lie flatism” or “do nothing.”

The theology of do-nothing-ism is “don’t work, don’t buy real estate, don’t shop, don’t marry and don’t have children.”

We don’t know how many young people in China embrace this individual or collective turn towards asceticism or austerity but the New Tang Dynasty TV (NTDTV), which broke the story on 4th June this year, the 31st anniversary of the pro-democracy movement, says the “trend is growing.”

As reported by NTDTV, a Chinese netizen says, “No matter how hard you work, you cannot get rich. You are merely a tool that other people use, and discard when it’s worn out. Think it over; indeed, we don’t need to be so tired.”

Another netizen adds, “The greatest devaluation in our society is not the devaluation of our currency, but the devaluation of our efforts. This is the most desperate.” 

NTDTV quotes another person saying, “To lie flat reflects a person’s extreme disappointment in the future and extreme despair in (a lack of) social justice!”

According to the NTDTV report, another comment on Chinese social media adds, “The gap between rich and poor is getting wider and wider.

There are 600 million Chinese with a monthly income of under 150 dollars (1000 Chinese yuan), so they have to control their temptations and lie-flat.”

What is the reaction of Beijing to these comments that reflect the sheer exhaustion of China’s young in this awesome rat-race and their refusal to be slaves to money?

The official reaction when Beijing noticed the trend has been one of growing nervousness.

NTDTV quotes state media as saying “If this lie-flatism becomes popular among the young people, it will turn into a force of resistance and challenge the existing social structure.”

Another state media, quoted by NTDTV, commands the young of China to accept their fate. They are to get up and get to work. They are not allowed to lie flat.

What is happening to the young of China these days? Once they made the Chinese communist revolution and nearly brought it down in 1989.

On May 4, 1919, Chinese students rose up in massive crowds to protest the Treaty of Versailles that was blatantly unfavourable to China.

During the Cultural Revolution the Red Guards at Mao’s command nearly brought about a civil war. Whether rightly or wrongly, visionary or destructive, the youth of China were full of energy then.

So why the present listlessness, lethargy and loss of goals?

Growing inequality is one reason. China’s super-rich, 1% of the population, own the lion’s share of the communist country’s wealth. And young Chinese men don’t want to marry because there are not enough women to go around thanks to the strict imposition and enforcement of the one-child policy for decades.

More importantly, the Chinese Communist Party has robbed the most productive section of the Chinese working population of their hopes, aspirations and dreams.

President Xi Jinping’s China dream has turned into the young people’s nightmare.

That’s why this growing social boycott in China today, which if it gathers steam, will have wrenching social, economic and political consequences for the whole country.  

By – Thubten Samphel, former director of the Tibet Policy Institute, Central Tibetan Administration.

Image: Ling Tang – Unsplash

China’s Crumbling Real Estate Sector

China’s obsession with real estate is big business.

The Chinese government sees real estate as a growth fillip. It keeps constructing and building houses to spur investments, in the process displaying an inaccurate impression of the nation’s wealth.

When the country’s growth figures emerged from the COVID pandemic, as the only economy that has marked a substantial positive growth, many analysts immediately pointed to the growth figures riding on the back of real estate.

Investments in property in China though often ‘overheat’.

In 2014, the IMF warned Beijing that an oversupply of property would lead to detrimental effects across the economic landscape.

The reliance of China’s economy on the property sector has always been open to debate. In a 2019 study, more than 61% of Chinese households were living in houses that were less than 10 years old.

And in 2018, over 22% of China’s housing was unoccupied – equating to over 50 million empty houses.

But what happens to all these buildings in China?

They fall.

Last year, at the peak of the COVID pandemic the Xinjian Hotel in Quanzhou, Fujian, built in 2018, was being used as a coronavirus quarantine facility until the hotel collapsed in March 2020, leading to many deaths and trapping several people below the rubble.

A few months later, in August, another hotel building, located in Taosi Township of Xiangfan County, Shanxi Province in North China, also collapsed. 

Just a week ago, in the southern city of Shenzhen, a skyscraper, one of China’s tallest, started shaking and wobbling on its own in the middle of the day. The tower was built in 2000.

The incident created chaos in the streets below as terrified pedestrians ran for their lives.

But, as frightening as these occurrences are, they are not something that started happening recently.

The Fengcheng Power Station situated in the city of Fengcheng in Jiangxi province, collapsed in 2016, resulting in at least 74 deaths.  

In 2012, the Yangmingtan Bridge – then the longest in northern China, collapsed. The construction of the bridge was completed in 18 months, half the specifically analysed construction period.

Another building crashed down in 2009; a 13-storey residential apartment building, situated in Minhang District of Shanghai on June 27th of that year, killing at least one person. 

And this was just a year after the 2008, Wenchuan earthquake in Szechuan when over 7000 classrooms collapsed resulting in the deaths of over 5000 school children. 

For the Chinese government, this event garnered a lot of criticism, both domestically and internationally. Grieving parents raised issues as to how even newly built schools tumbled to the ground while the older structures nearby often remained intact.

Discussions ensued that showed buildings in China are not built with requisite standards. The Premier of China at the time surveyed the damage and concluded that China has a staggering amount of junk infrastructure and buildings. 

Advocating lax standards for construction, corner-cutting, corruption and pugnacious competition is what leads to the frequent crumbling of buildings in Beijing and around the country.

As per Executive Vice President Liang Wei of the Urban Planning Design and Research Institute of Tsinghua University, buildings do not collapse on their own.

 Any structure that collapses instantaneously must have not been built to standards conforming to city planning.

‘Made in China’ is not just a concern for other nations, but citizens of China are themselves struggling with it. 

In general, building collapses due to structural failures are not common. They are rare occasions that become classic textbook cases for future architectural studies.

But China has a lot of Tofu-dreg projects. The rapid rate of construction seen across China coupled to other human engineering activities has led to repeated examples of human fatalities. 

The mindset of the Chinese is to build it new and when it gets old (20 years by Chinese standards), tear it down and build again. Building maintenance, unfortunately, is not a priority in China. 

Many people have reported that poor construction methods keeps foreign property buyers at bay.

People keep building massive infrastructure projects and cities to gel with fast economic growth. But it serves as a predicament for the authorities as construction constitutes a major proportion of GDP for China.

If this construction stops, there will be a sharp decline in China’s GDP.

The country has a very detailed and strict building code with many safety issues referenced to the International Conference of Building Office (ICBO).

The problem is not the lack of laws, it is the lack of implementation by the authorities.

Image: 서울특별시 소방재난본부 소장 사진

Indian Govt VS Twitter Reaches Boiling Point

New Delhi, NFAPost: The ongoing tussle between the Government of India and Twitter has reached a flashpoint as the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has issued a final notice to the California-based social media company to comply with India’s IT Act.

“It is clear from your responses that to date Twitter has not informed about the details of the Chief Compliance Officer as required under the rules. Further, the Resident Grievance Officer and Nodal Contact Person nominated by you is not an employee of Twitter Inc. India as prescribed by Rules,” states the MeiTY letter seen by the NFAPost.

The letter also highlighted the fact that even though the law came into effect on 26th May, Twitter didn’t show any interest in complying with the provisions of the Rules.

“Needless to state, such non-compliance will lead to unintended consequences, including Twitter losing exemption from liability as intermediary available under section 79 of the Information Technology Act 2000,” states the letter.

The government came up with new regulations as the public expanded their dependency on social media for news, entertainment, etc and it is increasingly being misused to spreading hatred and misinformation. Consequently, on the 25th of February this year, the Government issued the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad on June 4th, held a meeting that concluded that Twitter had not complied with the rules.

The government last month accused Twitter of attempting to “dictate terms to the world’s largest democracy” and “defame India to hide their own follies,” escalating their dispute after the social network accused officials of intimidation.

It gave that statement after Twitter protested a Delhi Police team vising its premises in Delhi to deliver a notice in the inquiry pertaining to the labeling of posts by senior members of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The company issued a statement on May 27th describing the police visit as “intimidation tactics” and expressing concern about the government’s actions and IT rules that threaten to curb free speech.

NFA Post

US Vaccine Promises Attacked By China

Staff: Taipei & Bengaluru: China, often criticized by the United States and its allies for using vaccine diplomacy to increase its influence around the world amid the coronavirus pandemic, has hit back hard at Washington by stating that America’s vaccine promises to India, and now Taiwan are themselves false.

Chinese observers who were closely watching Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar’s recent visit to the US, described American promises as “blank checks” after President Joe Biden pledged 80 million vaccines to the world – although in the almost two weeks since, no vaccines have been received by New Delhi.

As such, the US has in essence to date failed to provide timely help in the form of vaccines to outbreak hit India, despite in late April sending some ancillary relief materials to the sub-continent in much publicised military backed operations. 

The reality as seen in Beijing therefore is the Biden administration still following the “America First” policy – especially on its anti-epidemic approach.

Chinese observers also pointed out last week that the US was in no hurry to deliver vaccines to Taiwan either.

However, with a visit to Taiwan by three sitting US Senators on Sunday June 6th, and the promise of a shipment of 750,000 vaccines from Washington from that same 80 million tally, the White House has at least bought itself a little more time to see if this delivery will pan out any time soon.

China meanwhile also remains keen to try to point out that America has sufficient vaccines and yet is not – it appears – willing to give doses to India.

This, it is claimed is because US help to India is conditional and is dependent on India intensifying its confrontation with China in exchange for vaccine cooperation.

Quoting a Duke University health expert from mid-April, Chinese analysts have pointed out that the US could have 300 million excess doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of July.

According to these same analysts, and notwithstanding yesterday’s promise to Taipei, America’s enthusiasm for offering COVID-19 vaccines to Taiwan is much less visible than the gusto with which it was willing to sell weapons to Taiwan in recent years.

In 2020, alone, Reuters reports that the US sold US$5.1 billion of arms to Taiwan.

By pointing out the US vaccine promises, its prior willingness to arm a regional player in the form of Taiwan, yet keep India essentially on-hold in its hour of need, China is looking to drive a wedge between Washington and two of its most important Asian allies.

Beijing is also looking to bounce back commercially, in India at least after Chinese products were shunned following a border clash that led to the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers and unconfirmed numbers of Chinese troops last year.

Chinese apps were banned in India – a tech boycott that seems to have taught China a minor lesson on respecting other countries – and Beijing has appeared to recognize in part at least that it cannot take India for granted.

In the months since the border clash in northern India/southern China, authorities in Beijing have been closely watching the rise in COVID cases in India, and more recently in Taiwan, with efforts being made to appeal to both nations that China can indeed supply its own vaccine to willing customers; offers that have been rejected by authorities in Taipei at least.

Time will now tell as to how soon the US will deliver on its promises to New Delhi and Taipei, and if any hitherto unseen strings were attached to recent announcements of US help in both capitals.

Image: Rene DeAnda – Unsplash

March Against China’s Genocide

Supporters of the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement in the US capital, Washington DC will later today march from the White House to the US State Department on Friday, June 4 from 1:30 PM to 3 PM EST to protest China’s genocide.

We are calling on the US Government and the Free World to take urgent and meaningful action against the genocide of the Uyghur, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Turkic peoples of Occupied East Turkistan (renamed Xinjiang, China) the Movement says as it calls upon the American government to:  

  • Expedite asylum cases and grant refuge to Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples fleeing China’s genocide. 
  • Support East Turkistan’s case in the International Criminal Court (ICC) against China’s officials.
  • Bring the plight of East Turkistan to the agenda of the UN Security Council
  • Boycott the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics
  • Call on the UN to enforce the UN Genocide Convention and uphold the Responsibility to Protect commitment
  • Recognize East Turkistan as an Occupied Country
  • Empower the East Turkistani People to safeguard and ensure their culture, freedom, human rights, independence and existence.

To date, the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Lithuania, and the Netherlands all classify China’s actions as genocide – the most grievous human rights designation.

Uyghurs are an ethnic group based in central Asia. who have practiced their culture, language, and diverse religions throughout human history. It is estimated that 2-3 million Uyghurs, and other Turkic peoples, are held in concentration camps by Chinese authorities where they are subjected to constant intimidation, coercion, and physical violence, and surveillance.  Methods range anywhere from physical and psychological abuse to threats against families.

While in the camps, government officials force Uyghurs to erase their culture, language, and religion. Women are sterilized, and children are separated from their families.

They are also used for slave labor to benefit Chinese factories. This practice occurs in two ways.

The first way is using factories located in the East Turkistan region (renamed Xinjiang) to produce goods at no labor cost.

The second is relocating Uyghurs from their homeland in East Turkistan to factories elsewhere in China. The latter is used as a tactic to prevent advocacy for workers’ rights. Other sources claim it is to dissociate Uyghurs from their culture and homes.