Growing up blind and poor in rural China, Chen Guangcheng had few prospects. Yet before he turned 40, Chen was one of China’s most famous human rights activists, known around the world after he became the subject of a dramatic standoff between the American and Chinese governments.Read more
In January, Sri Lanka’s voters kicked out President Mahinda Rajapaksa for being corrupt, repressive, and too close to China. The country’s new government, led by President Maithripala Sirisena, promptly drew attention and not a little admiration for halting a Chinese-ledRead more
On Sunday, the leaders of Hong Kong’s democracy protests abruptly scrapped a poll of protester sentiment they had announced just days earlier. The idea of the poll had been to get protesters’ reactions to two bones thrown to them by the Hong Kong government in televised talks held on October 21.Read more
Representatives of the student led democracy protests in Hong Kong are due to enter into a dialogue with the Hong Kong government on Tuesday. The prospects for success are not good. The two sides are far apart, with the government saying it will not even discuss the protesters’ chief demand – the democratic election of the chief executRead more
On the evening of Saturday, October 4, enormous crowds gathered in downtown Hong Kong at the main site of the democracy protests that have dominated the affairs of this city of 7.2 million for weeks. They filled an eight-lane thoroughfare in the center of the Admiralty business district, spilling out around the adjacent government office complex. Banners hanging from overpasses demanded democracy and denounced the deeply unpopular, Beijing-appointed chief executive, CY Leung.
Beijing has dealt another setback to democracy in Hong Kong. On Sunday, August 31, China’s central government dashed hopes that the chief executive, the top official responsible for the city of 7.2 million people, would be democratically elected in 2017. Rather than open nominations to anyone, including pro-democracy candidates, Li Fei, an official of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, announced that candidates for the top job will need the support of at least 600 members of a 1,200-person committee composed largely of pro-Beijing businesspeople and other allies.Read more
Despite the attention paid to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s criticism of President Obama’s foreign policy as lacking an “organizing principle,” there wasn’t much new in her interview with the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg. Mostly the exchange covered issues on which her differences with the president are well known, such as arming the Syrian opposition and supporting Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu.Read more
At this writing, it seems that the hundreds of trucks sent by Moscow with supplies for the residents of Eastern Ukraine will be delivered without further incident. For over a week, the long convoy wended its way toward the Ukrainian border, carrying with it the prospect for a spike in tensions between Moscow and Kiev. Concerns over the trucks’ contents—were they humanitarian supplies, or was the convoy a Trojan Horse, filled with weapons and munitions?—have been resolved.Read more
Over half a million people filled the streets of Hong Kong on July 1, marching for democracy on the anniversary of the British colony’s handover to Chinese Communist rule in 1997. On June 29, an unofficial referendum organized by democracy activists concluded with 800,000 votes cast—more than one-tenth of Hong Kong’s population. The overwhelming majority supported a democratic election for Hong Kong’s next chief executive.Read more
In a 2007 article in THE WEEKLY STANDARD, “Let a Hundred Flowers Be Crushed,” the Chinese lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, told of being followed by security agents every year around the anniversary of the June 4, 1989 massacre of democracy protesters. Pu responded by ushering the agents to a conference room at his law firm and screening The Lives of Others, the 2006 Oscar winning film about an East German Stasi agent who protects the playwright he is spyinRead more
General Secretary Xi Jinping of China is in Lyon, France today, the second stop on a European swing, his first trip there since taking over the leadership of China’s Communist party. He has already visited Amsterdam, where he met with President Obama. After France, including a visit to Paris, Mr. Xi will continue on to Germany and Belgium.Read more
China’s Communist party leadership concluded an important agenda-setting meeting in Beijing on November 12. At this point much remains unclear about the decisions made at the Third Plenum of the 18th Communist Party Central Committee conclave, including changes to the One China policy, market reforms, and the abolition of the practice of Reeducation Through Labor. Independent media have no access to the proceedings, and even analysts able to read official party documents weren’t completely sure of what they meant.Read more
Today, President Dalia Grybauskaite welcomed His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, to Vilnius, Lithuania. Two years ago, her Estonian counterpart, President Toomas Ilves, also defied Beijing by meeting the Dalai Lama. Their gestures of principle and graciousness, made in the face of Chinese pressure, are very significant.Read more
Obama administration officials may be upset that China intervened to help NSA leaker Edward Snowden leave Hong Kong but they shouldn't be surprised. Beijing has intervened before to get its way on matters that were meant to be the purview of Hong Kong's independent judicial system and to stymie the territory's democracy movement.Read more
President Obama’s trip to Southeast Asia will take him to Thailand, Cambodia, and Burma. Relations with Thailand and Cambodia are relatively static, thanks to the former’s historic alliance with the U.S. and despite the latter’s terrible human rights record. Burma, on the other hand, is in the midst of change, with the beginnings of a potential transition to democracy.Read more
A cartoon on the front page of the August 2 Independent, a weekly journal published in Burma’s capital, showed a rider approaching a fortress painted with the stars and stripes of the American flag.
“Please open the door,” the rider says.
“What is the password?” asks a voice from within the fortress.
“Democracy,” says the rider.
“Is that permanent or temporary?” asks America.Read more
Of the books I have read about China, The Corpse Walker, which I reviewed for THE WEEKLY STANDARD, is one of my favorites. Written by Liao Yiwu, The Corpse Walker contains stories about the strange mix of people Liao met while traveling around China and serving time in jail for writing and recording a poem commemorating the victims of the Tiananmen massacre.Read more
The Chinese Communist party’s preoccupation with its leadership transition, expected to be made final next fall when Xi Jinping becomes general secretary, should not dissuade the U.S. from making a “strong intervention at the highest level” regarding Tibet, according to Lodi Gyari, who spoke yesterday at the Council on Foreign Relations.Read more
Obama administration officials touted the visit to the United States last week by Communist first secretary Xi Jinping as “relationship building.” Xi is widely expected to succeed Hu Jintao as general secretary next fall and to run China for the next ten years. So he arrived to an agenda that included an Oval Office meeting, an elaborate Valentine’s Day lunch at the State Department, no pesky press conferences, and a 19-gun salute at the Pentagon, an unusual reception for a civilian foreign leader who is not defense minister.Read more
In a recent presidential debate, Congressman Ron Paul made a bizarre equivalence between a Chinese dissident taking refuge in America and Osama bin Laden hiding in Pakistan, as he was attempting to criticize American foreign and defense policies generally.Read more
Andrew Higgins’s article in today’s Washington Post, “China denounces ‘Hong Konger trend,” follows on the Wall Street Journal Asia’s editorial about Beijing’s attacks on University of Hong Kong professor Robert Chung, whose polling of public opinion shows a marked increase in those identifying as Hong Kong citizens and a corresponding decrease in those expressing a Chinese identity.Read more
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