Hong Kong: Democracy activist Joshua Wong free again – politics

The police released Wong after a few hours. He is apparently accused of having attended an unauthorized meeting in the past year and of violating a ban on masking.

Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong has been briefly arrested. Wong is a symbol of the democracy movement in the Chinese special administrative region.

The 23-year-old activist’s team announced via Twitter that Wong was accused of attending an unauthorized meeting last October. In addition, he is said to have violated a masking ban at the time.

About two hours later, Wong was free again and made a brief statement on the street. As seen on a video released by AFP, Wong said he would “continue to resist”. The activist wrote to the German press agency: “I’m safe now.”

Wong wanted to run in the Hong Kong general election, which was actually scheduled for September 6th. However, the vote was postponed for a whole year, this step was officially justified with the corona pandemic.

China passed a highly controversial Hong Kong security law at the end of June. It is directed against activities that the Communist Party sees as subversive, separatist or terrorist. It is the most far-reaching interference in Hong Kong’s autonomy to date and gives Beijing’s state security broad powers. Hong Kong’s democratic opposition believes the law will target them. Several well-known supporters of the protest movement had already been arrested a few weeks ago and later released on bail. Other prominent supporters of the democracy movement have left Hong Kong as a precaution.

Last year there had been major protests in the Chinese Special Administrative Region against the increasing influence of Beijing. Since the return of the former British crown colony to China in 1997, Hong Kong had been governed autonomously with its own civil liberties. From the point of view of critics, the State Security Act marks the end of the principle of “one country, two systems” that has been pursued since its return.


UN general debate – Trump pulls the Chinese card – politics

That this 75th UN General Assembly would be different from all the others before was evident not least on the streets of New York. Usually half or part of Midtown Manhattan is closed when leaders from around the world come to the city to attend the annual United Nations Convention.

This year, however, because of the pandemic, no one personally traveled to the East River to the UN building, the speeches came off the tape. Outside, the traffic flowed unusually peacefully, while the delegates inside the assembly room listened to a video message from US President Donald Trump that was tough.

Trump was immediately at operating temperature, it took just under 20 seconds before he first described the coronavirus as the “China virus”. In doing so he set one of two subjects of his admission.

“The United Nations must hold China accountable.”

First, a widespread attack on China; he blamed the country for the spread of the virus.

Second: Trump now apparently finally wants the Nobel Peace Prize he has wanted since moving into the White House in 2017. He therefore devoted a not inconsiderable part of his speech to portraying himself as a great peacemaker. This may also have something to do with the fact that it is a thorn in his side that his predecessor and archenemy Barack Obama received this award in 2009 – a decision that was anything but undisputed.

This has never happened before: No head of state or government personally traveled to the General Assembly of the United Nations – UN flag in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York.

(Photo: Ludovic Marin / AFP)

His handling of the corona crisis is Trump’s biggest problem in the current election campaign. There is evidence that he downplayed the danger against his better judgment, that he tried to ignore the crisis in the best case and to lie away in the worse.

200,000 people have died in the USA as a result of Covid-19, and the question is whether it could not have been significantly fewer if the president had acted earlier. That should be the main reason that Trump now used the stage of the United Nations to fire a broadside against China.

After he had reassured that a vaccine would soon be available, that the virus would be defeated and that a period of prosperity and peace would then begin, he turned into an attack on China, which was tough by his standards.

“In the early days of the virus, China banned domestic travel but allowed flights to leave the country and infect the world,” said the president. “The Chinese government and the World Health Organization – which is de facto controlled by China – have falsely stated that it is there is no transmission from person to person. ” These statements culminated in the demand: “The United Nations must hold China accountable.”

Warning of a new cold war: UN Secretary General António Guterres urged the USA and China to come to an understanding.

(Foto: Eskinder Debebe/United Nations/AP)

As if that still did not make it clear enough that Trump is seeking an open confrontation with China, he explained that China is contaminating the seas with plastic, that it is guilty of overfishing and that it is poisoning the world’s waters with mercury.

Again and again he pronounced the word China as if he were spitting a piece of chewing gum on the floor. Trump’s speech was marked by aggressiveness and contempt. He let these passages culminate in the sentence: “All you want is to punish America. I don’t stand for that.”

After that angry start, Trump changed his tone to clarify his second concern. The attack on China is likely to stem primarily from electoral reasons: he can present himself to his base as a strong man and deny the guilt for the many Covid 19 deaths.

The second part was about a personal concern, one could say: a project of vanity. Trump spoke about how the US had become a peacemaker country under his leadership.

75th Anniversary of the United Nations - USA

The chairman of the UN General Assembly, the Turkish diplomat Volkan Bozkır, speaks at the ceremony for the 75th anniversary of the United Nations at the General Assembly in New Vork – due to the pandemic in front of almost empty seats.

(Foto: Eskinder Debebe/United Nations/dpa)

He referred, among other things, to the Abraham Agreement signed a few days ago in front of the White House, which is intended to normalize relations between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The US had conveyed in the agreement that it could indeed represent a historic breakthrough.

Trump said other Arab states wanted to join. “No more blood in the sand,” he said, “these days are hopefully over.” It is the dawn of a new Middle East.

He also said that he had mediated between Serbia and Kosovo and that he was also in the process of bringing peace to Afghanistan. Here he is particularly committed to the rights of women. He took up the motive that he was an advocate for women’s rights worldwide, which, in view of his many documented derogatory statements about women, almost amounted to a reinvention of himself. At times it seemed as if he believed that they didn’t read any newspapers in the UN and didn’t see what was happening in the world.

The United States ambassador speaks as if she were Trump’s campaign manager

Trump’s speech was initiated by Kelly Craft, the US ambassador to the UN. She said, “I am introducing someone who has the core goal of the United Nations in their hearts: peace.” She actually meant her boss by that, and that set the subject of the Nobel Peace Prize. It is clear, she said, that world leaders listened carefully when Trump spoke. Two years ago, Trump was laughed at in the General Assembly when he boasted too badly, but that’s not what she meant. Finally, as if she were not the UN ambassador but Trump’s campaign leader, she said: “President Donald J. Trump has kept his promises to the American people and the world is a more peaceful place.”

Actually, it was expected that Trump would mainly talk about sanctions against Iran. The fact that he positions himself against China with such intensity came as a surprise. His lobbying for the Nobel Prize, however, no longer surprises anyone. He showed that Trump is really serious about this by closing his speech with the words: “God bless the United Nations.”


Agreement in USA – Trump approves Tiktok deal after all – economy

As of Monday, the Tiktok video app should no longer have been available in the USA. US President Trump announced it on Friday. But now he has approved an agreement between the Chinese Tiktok owner Bytedance and US companies. The US business should continue as Tiktok Global with 25,000 employees, probably based in Texas. The two US corporations Oracle and Walmart would exercise “total control”, said Trump. “Security is 100 percent guaranteed.”

A formal lifting of the US measures against Tiktok is still pending. The US Department of Commerce postponed the download stop for the app, which should actually have taken effect from Monday, by a week.

Fear of user data

The background to the dispute over Tiktok is the concern that data from around 100 million US users per month could flow to the Chinese government. Trump had therefore called Tiktok a security risk and demanded the sale of the company to a US company or an end to Tiktok’s US presence. Following this rationale, Trump laid the basis for the removal of the app in the United States with two orders. Tiktok and Bytedance countered in vain that data from US users is stored in the US and does not go to China. The dispute over Tiktok fueled tensions in the trade dispute with China.

According to the business model that has now been agreed, the software group Oracle is to process all data from US users and take care of the associated technical systems. A central demand of Trump was also that US investors hold a majority in Tiktok. To date, it has only been officially announced that Oracle will take over a 12.5 percent stake in the company before Tiktok Global goes public and that the supermarket giant Walmart will hold 7.5 percent.

At the same time reported that Wall Street Journalthat the Chinese Tiktok parent Bytedance will keep the remaining 80 percent of Tiktok Global. But: Since American investors like the start-up financiers Sequoia and General Atlantic in turn held around 40 percent of Bytedance, one could speak of a US majority at Tiktok, informed people told the newspaper. Trump had previously announced: “It will be a whole new company. It will have nothing to do with China.”

Five billion for education funds

The new construct could have the advantage that the deal would not require approval from the Chinese government. The leadership in Beijing had previously torpedoed a direct sale of Tiktok’s US business to the Microsoft software company. It introduced a new rule according to which software algorithms can only be sold abroad with the permission of the authorities.

Trump had rejected a deal in which Oracle would act as a technology partner of Tiktok with a minority stake a few days ago. The Department of Commerce then initiated a countdown for Tiktok to be kicked out of the American app stores. Tiktok and Bytedance filed a lawsuit in Washington.

What is new is that Tiktok will now transfer five billion dollars to an education fund in Texas, as Trump said at a campaign appearance in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Bytedance, however, reacted with surprise to Trump’s announcement. The group announced on Sunday that it “first heard about it in the news”.

Tiktok already had a cloud deal with another US company – Amazon’s IT subsidiary AWS. Trump has attracted attention more often in the past with attacks against the founder and boss of the online retailer, Jeff Bezos. Bezos owns the newspaper privately Washington Post, in which Trump is often criticized. Oracle founder Larry Ellison, on the other hand, is one of the most prominent supporters of Trump in Silicon Valley. Walmart, on the other hand, is an Amazon competitor.


SZ correspondent in China – your SZ

Letters from readers also reach you in faraway China. Most of them now arrive digitally, but some readers still write real letters. Last year a reader sent me a postcard with the Japanese word karōshi: death by overwork. My boss thought that was particularly funny. The card has been hanging over my desk since then.

Among the letters there is praise, but of course also criticism. Including the accusation that we write too negatively about China. The allegation is not new. It is often raised by the authorities: The Communist Party (KP) sees itself as a victim of foreign media. The state press laments an anti-Chinese conspiracy. China’s former Prime Minister Wen Jiabao is said to have asked Angela Merkel to please put the German press in its place, in the interests of German-Chinese friendship, of course. The Chancellor had given up. All he has to do is have what is being written about her translated. Then Wen would quickly realize that the Chancellor has no influence on German journalists either.

What you write about as a reporter in China has changed a lot in the past few decades. As a correspondent, you are no longer just responsible for mapping the changes in politics and society. Rather, one accompanies the rise of a new superpower – with all tensions and conflicts. Here in Beijing we sometimes argue quite violently among colleagues about our assessment.

The CP presents its system of surveillance and growth as an alternative to democracy and a market economy

In the past people wrote about China and meant a developing country on the way to modernization. Today people write about China and look at a state that exerts immense influence on the world – including Germany, where freedom is the benchmark. Because the Chinese government has long since begun to influence the situation beyond its borders. The Communist Party presents its system of surveillance and growth as an alternative to democracy and a market economy, weakens human rights, undermines international organizations, and divides the EU.

It has never been more important to understand China and its rulers. The dilemma is: it has never been so difficult. Politically, the climate has worsened since party leader Xi Jinping took office in 2012. Non-governmental organizations have had to give up or are under close scrutiny, preferring to stay away from sensitive issues. Professors are instructed to stop speaking to foreign media. Last year a dozen historians declined interview requests on a play on the 100th anniversary of the May 4th Movement, the first mass political movement in China. Only after weeks did a researcher agree, but out of fear he was only quoted without a name. The pressure is now so high that it is difficult to find interview partners even with politically undisputed topics or successful projects of the KP.

Activists who want to speak must be afraid of being arrested. Comprehensive monitoring of social media and messenger services also makes it almost impossible to protect informants. Even if you leave your cell phone at home to do research: no matter where you go, your passport number is saved, your face is scanned and movement data is recorded. In many places, the watchdogs are already waiting when you get off the train. They know where to fly and what stories to work on. Sometimes you have no choice but to pull the telephone cable out of the wall in your hotel room and push a chest of drawers in front of the door, if you want to have at least a few hours of peace from the uninvited visitors.

Hardly anywhere are so many journalists in prison as in China

In Reporters Without Borders’ worldwide ranking of press freedom, China has now fallen to one of the bottom places. Hardly anywhere more journalists are in jail. Numerous journalists and citizen journalists were arrested and kidnapped during the Corona crisis. Even if the immediate danger for international correspondents is significantly lower, the pressure on them also increases. Sometimes journalists only receive short-term visas with a term of one month. It used to be twelve. In the first half of the year alone, China had a record 17 foreign journalists by canceling their accreditation.

On the night train, a fellow traveler recently asked me whether I, as a foreign journalist, would be subject to censorship like my Chinese colleagues, i.e. whether the authorities would have to approve my texts before they were printed in Germany. He knows the list of taboos is long. In the end, the train compartment sat together, Chinese from all parts of the country talked about their experiences with state censorship. In a village a day’s journey from Beijing, where there is neither running water nor a school, a farmer asked me if I could tell him what the government was removing from the Internet. He noticed that more and more was disappearing. Anything important that he should know about?

Many people have gotten used to the censorship, so they are still a long way from agreeing to it. I have been followed several times by watchdogs in rural areas. And my drivers, whom I usually only get to know at the train station, then accelerate. “Come on, let’s hang them out,” they say and turn into the next side street.

Journalists are certainly not superheroes. But if someone loses their child because a company sold contaminated vaccines or because there was sloppy construction work, it should be written down. In provinces, government officials often react aggressively because they want to prevent research from drawing the central government’s attention to grievances in their region. That could cost her head. A colleague recently said that she had arrived in a village and the residents shouted: “The journalists are finally here!”

At the same time, the government is making it increasingly clear where it is drawing the red line. It marks topics that Beijing does not want to read: Xinjiang, Tibet and stories about the Chinese leader and party leader Xi Jinping. Corona has also been on the list this year. In August, the State Department sent out a 43-page document telling correspondents how to report on Hong Kong. If the Chinese government has its way, journalists should spread “positive energy”. Don’t be a complainer, but a cheerleader in politics.

Interview with doctors only under state supervision

The Communist Party has long preferred to tell its own story. In China, but also internationally. To do this, it pumps billions into foreign broadcasters, invests in media collaborations and is active with its own accounts in social networks. It became clear at the beginning of the year in Wuhan that this can have serious consequences. A day before the region was cordoned off, many people in the city had no idea how serious the situation is. The authorities had not reported any new cases for two weeks because of a local people’s congress. The media preferred to speak of rumors than to warn people about the spread of the coronavirus. The only recordings from the city were provided by the state media after the lockdown. They should calm down. Doctors from Wuhan could only be interviewed under the supervision of state security forces.

Most foreign media outlets only employ one or two correspondents in China. My reporting area comprises a fifth of the world’s population, the region is larger than the European continent. I am writing about a country where hundreds of millions of people live the equivalent of a few euros a week, where most millionaires live, and where the world’s largest tech companies are based. Plus Xinjiang, the major conflict between the USA and China. And Hong Kong, where I spent months last year and followed the street battles through the plexiglass of my gas mask. It’s an almost impossible task.

There can be no claim to completeness, which is why I sometimes defiantly refer to myself as a Beijing correspondent. That would mean that I would still be responsible for 20 million people, twice as many people as there are in Austria or Israel. My job seems particularly impossible to me when my colleagues ask me what the Chinese think about a certain topic. Just think of any topic, let’s take the mask requirement in German supermarkets, and then tell me what the Germans think about it. And you are only pigeonholing 80 million people, I 1.4 billion.

I travel across the country, talk to experts, to my neighbors, to friends. And I read a lot on the net. But just as individual posts on social media in Germany do not reflect the mood, a look at social networks in China does not provide any impression of the situation in the country. There is also censorship there. Perhaps a topic is discussed because many people care about it. Maybe it will not be discussed because so many people care about it, but the censors have already banned it from the net.

Back to the letters to the editor and the accusation that we are writing too negatively about China. The most read text by me in 2019 was an essay about the diligence and ambition of young Chinese and why young people in this country can learn from them. But I also think of my colleague Pascal Nufer, who lived and worked for Swiss television in Shanghai for five years. A few weeks ago he published a documentary on his departure, a reconciliation with this country, as he says. China’s pursuit of the perfect surveillance state would have increasingly worn him down. On his last tour through China he therefore went in search of the “other China”. In his report he takes his time again, drifts, follows his housekeeper into the country, travels through the Himalayan mountains and meets up with young rock stars. His journey also tells of a pain that many correspondents are feeling in this country these days. A broken heart, it sometimes feels, is part of the job description today. Perhaps you can learn that from Nufer: that in all this madness you don’t wait for his goodbye to talk about magic.


The EU maintains a too benevolent image of China – Opinion

China’s leadership may be secretive, but neither the state nor the party are treating their ambitions as classified. On the contrary. Anyone who wants to recognize the political lines of the CP only has to read its strategy papers, five-year plans, slogans and proclamations. With remarkable openness, they reflect the lessons China’s leadership draws from geopolitical trends and how it intends to implement these trends for the benefit of its own country and its retention of power.

State and party leader Xi Jinping has set the standard when he sees the advantage of the one-party system in “doing great things”. From the CP’s point of view, this begins with the historical experience of humiliation and submission (which must never be repeated) and ends with Xi himself, whose size will not be surpassed in the foreseeable future.

China has developed a strategic mission that – as the foreign policy advisors to US presidential candidate Joe Biden write – will be the “greatest ideological challenge since Soviet times”. These are not scary phrases. Rather, behind China’s new line are tough interests in terms of market dominance, spheres of influence, technological superiority and invulnerability.

On the other hand, the ideological unity of the European Union is such a thing. Their awareness of size and invulnerability is inversely proportional to their market power. Europe’s self-confidence does not result from the addition of 27 national egos. Even if the 27 have recently unanimously mumbled “strategic rivals”: The EU maintains a false, possibly naive and definitely too benevolent image of China. This has long since created a dangerous gap between Beijing and Brussels.

Self-sufficiency and dominance are objectives

China’s view of the world is initially turning to the east. Only when the central dispute with the USA has been measured will the rules of the game for the EU emerge. And here too, from Beijing’s point of view, it is only a matter of deriving the main topic: strength, strength, strength. This is not reprehensible per se, but China’s ideas of national sovereignty and growing economic and technological independence are increasingly difficult to reconcile with market economy ideas and of course the human rights principles that the EU intends to apply in a globalized world.

According to Chinese analysis, this globalized world will soon be a thing of the past. The national programs such as “Chinese Standards 2035”, “Made in China 2025”, “Two-Loop Strategy” and the five-year plan to be adopted soon all testify to a China that is pulling out of global integration and relying on national strength . In a country of this size, this is a real challenge to Daimler, BASF, Apple or any institute of western finance – but also to democratic market economies.

Coupled with the new ideological and political hardship (again a wave of purges, oppression in Xinjiang, Hong Kong National Security Law, lifting of the dogma of the one country and the two systems), a problem develops that is not in a video connection between the top of the EU and Beijing can be solved.

The German government was and is of the opinion that it could find a new way of dealing with Beijing with the help of an investment agreement and a diplomatic offensive. While the US vacillates between radical disentanglement (Trump and his Foreign Minister Pompeo) and economic football with ideological blinkers (Biden), the EU believes in the power of treaties and common sense. That is well meant, especially since China has an interest in keeping the EU out of the troubled wake of the US. But is it realistic?

For an answer, just look at the most important principles that accompany every official proclamation in China: one country, one party, under one leadership. State ideology and economic programming are more closely linked than they have been since Mao. Self-sufficiency and dominance are objectives that every medium-sized company with a partner company in Henan will feel in the loss of euros and cents. China is copying the German export model and has set itself the goal of ending its dependency on foreign countries.

With these requirements it is difficult to believe in a classic negotiated solution. The talks currently have one tactical goal above all: Beijing wants to prevent a transatlantic front at all costs. As with so much that is urgent in international politics at the moment, the following applies: The EU will only be able to clarify its relationship with China after November 3rd, when the next US President is elected.


Interview on the New Silk Road – Politics

The EU leaders, Chancellor Angela Merkel and China’s head of state and party Xi Jinping will meet on Monday for a virtual summit. There are many points of conflict between the partners, including China’s “New Silk Road”. China expert Jason Tower researches the effects of Chinese investments and says why Europe should continue to rely on dialogue despite all the problems.

Jason Tower works for the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Myanmar. Since 2006 he has been working in Asia in the field of peacebuilding and deals with the role of economic actors in conflicts. From 2009 to 2018 he set up the China program of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in China. He has published numerous publications on the New Silk Road. The most recent study on behalf of Bread for the World deals with how the initiative affects peace and conflict.

SZ: Mr. Tower, in your research on Chinese investments in the “New Silk Road” you spoke to many stakeholders, including employees of state think tanks in China. You write that not one could explain where information about the initiative can be found. How is that possible with a program that’s said to be $ 1 trillion?

Jason G. Tower: Many expect that there will be a list of projects, or that they can see the agreements that are under the umbrella of the initiative. After all, 135 of these were concluded with states and 30 agreements with international organizations. The Chinese government operates a portal to the “New Silk Road” project. But there is no place where researchers or civil society representatives can see these agreements. Even local government officials are often left in the dark. The lack of transparency and the lack of access are one of the main obstacles to understanding the “New Silk Road” initiative.

Interview in the morning

This series of interviews is devoted to current topics and appears Monday through Friday by 7:30 a.m. at the latest on SZ.de. All interviews here.

State and party leader Xi Jinping started the “New Silk Road” initiative in 2013. You speak of the most dramatic attempt in decades to change the world order. What do you mean?

China was already an increasingly active investor abroad. What is new is that it is now trying to set its own norms and standards in technical areas – and to maintain control over the view of China in the global debate. It opens up the trade routes in order to be able to trade better and to bind countries and markets more closely to itself.

European companies are expressing increasing concern about China’s course. At first they were optimistic, but now they criticize that they are merely “fillers” of the “New Silk Road” and that the profiteers are based in China.

Officially, the Chinese government says the “New Silk Road” is an open platform where everyone can contribute. Many projects started before 2013 and are now relabeled as part of the initiative. At the same time, many Chinese investors, including many foreign investors with Chinese roots, have generously issued projects as part of the “New Silk Road”. In theory, every company in Europe would be free to stick the label on their projects. In most cases, however, this is unlikely because European companies see little or no advantage in it, and it may even have negative consequences for them given the international reputation of the initiative. But there are also some places where the European governments have created space to get involved – especially on environmental issues, but there is also considerable leeway for governments and stakeholders at various financial institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Jason Tower, USIP

Jason Tower works for the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Myanmar. It deals with the role of economic actors in conflict.

(Photo: oH)

Head of State Xi calls his initiative a “road to peace”. Rather, they call them “conflict blind”. Why?

If you look at the corridors of the initiative on the map, they lead through regions of conflict or lie within them. Projects worth billions of dollars were proposed in crisis regions such as Pakistan or Myanmar. According to Chinese regulations, Chinese companies need a special permit if they invest in “sensitive regions or war zones”. In practice, however, there seem to be few restrictions on their activities. Take the China-Myanmar economic corridor as an example. 25 billion dollars are to be invested. At the same time, there is great ethnic tension in the region. These are reinforced by the fact that local communities are hardly involved in the projects. They do not benefit, and poverty has even worsened as a result. I call the initiative conflict blind because there are no mechanisms to assess the impact of such investments.

So people aren’t necessarily happy when China’s companies invest money in their region?

Between 20,000 and 30,000 people live in the said region in Myanmar, and Chinese investors want to create 100,000 jobs in the long term. It will fundamentally change the region. Local actors cannot keep up with such standards and are displaced. In order to protect their own interests, Chinese investors are also increasingly relying on protection from the military in the respective countries or private security companies. But it would be most important if the companies know the problems in the regions and act accordingly. During conversations, it is noticeable that Chinese companies have engineers who know how to build a waterworks. But hardly any experts who are familiar with anthropology and conflict resolution and who can talk to local people about their interests and fears. The reason for this is surely also that the state takes care of something like this in China – that’s why there are no such positions in state-owned companies.

Is it possible that Beijing just got off the hook with some projects?

Beijing has only recently paid more attention to the initiative’s image. In Myanmar, Chinese investors have built an entire city for gambling in the name of the “New Silk Road”, even though Chinese law clearly prohibits such investments. Only three years later did the government intervene. This could be a sign that China is now paying more attention to whether actors are illegally using the “New Silk Road” label.

After clear criticism from Brussels, China promised in 2019 to ensure more transparency, sustainability and the fight against corruption. Hasn’t that come true?

Many promises have been made in conference rooms. But there are no indications that companies will change their approach on site. At the Silk Road Summit in 2019, it concluded new agreements and initiatives on the financing of the debt burden, anti-corruption, transparency, the environment and social sustainability. Most of them are only guidelines and not binding. It’s not clear if the slogan “clean, green and open” a year and a half later is more than a slogan.

The pressure on Chinese activists in the country is greater than ever today. What about in the countries where China’s investors are active?

Civil society’s concerns in particular are still very high. Many people still don’t know how to voice their concerns to investors planning projects. Many of the people I interviewed for my most recent study also express concern about how authoritarian governments are using new technologies introduced through collaboration.

For example?

The main focus is on China’s surveillance technology exports. This was especially the case in Kyrgyzstan, China’s neighbor on the border with Xinjiang. Activists, human rights organizations and lawyers fear that China may be using CCTV footage to silence critics. Beijing even offers a platform for exchange between NGOs. However, it is highly questionable whether these rooms are a place where honest dialogue can take place or whether they are just PR shows.

Europe’s states are looking for a new way of dealing with China. The US is pushing ahead with unbundling. Can European actors learn anything from the experience of the Silk Road initiative?

China is the most important investor in many countries today in terms of the size of investments. Otherwise, it’s number two. For most countries that will not change anytime soon. Especially in countries on the “New Silk Road”, in which China increased investments considerably in the past year alone. Civil society actors and governments are concerned, but China has made the New Silk Road a key objective in the party’s constitution. It would therefore be important for Europe to look into the initiative and try to find ways to get involved in the initiative. It can be a way of influencing China. In the case of the gambling city in Myanmar, after great pressure from the local government and civil society, Beijing at least reacted. Recently there have also been good signals on the subject of climate change and environmental protection.


Fridays for Future in China: The Lonely Struggle – Politics

China is one of the biggest climate sinners in the world, but hardly anyone in the country has heard of “Fridays for Future”. The global climate movement is more of a me-AG here. About 17-year-old Ou Hongyi’s lonely struggle.


Lea Deuber

Ou Hongyi has just pulled her shield out of her backpack, the police are coming. “There is no vaccine against climate change,” it says in black letters on the poster, and in English: “School strike for the climate”. The 17-year-old Chinese woman is standing on a shopping street in the city of Yangshuo in southern China. In front of her is a saleswoman’s handcart, on which the tofu pickled in fish brine gives off an unpleasant smell. The shouts of the saleswoman drown out the pop music booming from the bar next door.


Foreign Minister Maas receives Chinese counterparts – politics

It is not clear whether Heiko Maas and his people just wanted to be prepared for everything, including rain. The German Foreign Minister invited his Chinese colleague Wang Yi to the Villa Borsig, whose advantages include not only a beautiful view of Lake Tegel, but also its suitability as a pretty backdrop. Maas likes to hold press conferences here outdoors. That takes the edge off sharpening, at least visually. Not so this time. Maas and Wang appear in front of the press in a sober seminar room, where young diplomats are usually taught. On the schedule: an open exchange of blows.

Maas starts with a clarification. “Today it was important for me to convey that we in Europe want a good relationship with China – on an equal footing, with mutual respect,” he says. The future of Europe will be “a more sovereign and a more self-confident one”. “We will stand up for our values ​​outside the external borders of the European Union – in all directions,” he added. Threats against this commitment will “no longer be accepted.” It is, says Wang, who ends a trip to Europe in Berlin, “completely normal” not always to be of one opinion, just “interference in internal affairs” that China does not tolerate.

The press conference turns into a lesson in the basic conflict between China and Europe. “We will not allow ourselves to become the plaything of a great power rivalry between the USA, Russia and China,” assures Maas and does not hide his anger at threats that Wang made against the Czech Senate President Miloš Vystrčil, who is in this Week with a large delegation in Taiwan. The Czech will have to pay a “high price” for his “short-sighted behavior”, Wang said. Maas reports that he called his Czech colleague Tomáš Petříček the evening before. The Europeans acted “in ranks” in foreign policy.

“Freedom for Hong Kong, freedom for Uyghurs, freedom for Tibetans,” shouted the demonstrators

Nevertheless, Wang sees no reason to take anything back. The Czech’s trip is a “public affront” to the one-China policy. Vystrčil had to be made clear that he had crossed the “red line”. Wang actually set out on his first trip abroad after the global spread of Covid-19 to improve relations with Europe. In Berlin, too, he speaks of “solidarity and cooperation”, of shared responsibility in the fight against the pandemic and to stimulate the global economy. China welcomes the fact that Europe is becoming “strategically more confident” and has great expectations for the German EU Council Presidency.

Wherever Wang goes in Europe, however, awaits him what the Chinese leadership refuses to do at home. While Maas receives him in the Villa Borsig, around a hundred demonstrators are standing in front of the Foreign Office, shouting their anger at the gray walls of the authorities. They demand: “Freedom for Hong Kong, freedom for Uyghurs, freedom for Tibetans.”

As the choruses ebb, Hong Kong democracy activist Nathan Law picks up the microphone. He appeals to Maas to take a clear position against the massive human rights violations in China. So far Germany has been too quiet. “The bullies of the world benefit from the silence of the good guys,” he says. As long as western democracies remain silent in favor of economic relations, that will not change.

It is a contradiction that Maas does not want to accept. “A decoupling in the relationship between the European Union and China is not in our interest. It is not in anyone’s interest, both politically and economically,” he stressed. However, European companies in China would have to be given the same competitive conditions as vice versa.

In any case, there are “many reasons for better cooperation”. When it comes to climate protection, for example, “no sustainable results” will be achieved without China. Of course, people also talked about human rights, about Hong Kong and the worrying situation of the Uyghurs. The German-Chinese human rights dialogue will resume next week.

When Wang is confronted with criticism of Chinese politics, he takes time to reply. For 18 minutes he praised the “historic feat” of China’s modernization, warns against slandering 1.4 billion Chinese, speaks of the need to end the “chaos” in Hong Kong and raves about the good life of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang Province. The camps are a “de-radicalization” measure.

Meanwhile, in front of the Federal Foreign Office, demonstrators stretch photos into the air. They show fathers, brothers, mothers. “China, where is my grandma ?!” asks a boy, maybe ten years old. Abdulla Tohsi Arish also misses family members who are detained in China. “Her only crime,” she says, “was being Uighur.”


Corona Vaccine: China’s Risky Experiment – Politics

In the global race for a vaccine against the coronavirus, Beijing appears to feel cheated of first place. This is the only way to explain the appearance of Chinese government representatives in Beijing on Saturday. They announced that medical personnel and members of other risk groups such as airport employees had been immunized with a vaccine since the end of July. This would have been in use three weeks before the first vaccine from Russia.

While pharmaceutical companies from the USA, Great Britain and Germany are only just beginning studies on the effectiveness of their vaccines, according to agency reports, hospital employees and officials in Russia have been treated with a vaccine since August, which – like the Chinese one – has not yet passed all the prescribed test phases. The daughter of Russian President Vladimir Putin is said to have received the vaccine. The approach met with international criticism.

In June, before the final test phase was completed, the Chinese government had officially given the military permission to give soldiers a vaccine from a second company. The final stage is typically hundreds or even thousands of people. Vaccines can only be approved if they are successfully completed. That usually takes years.

Trump seems to feel pressured by the race between China and Russia

A diplomatic incident between China and the island nation of Papua New Guinea had already occurred last week. Employees from a Chinese mining company were on their way to the country when local authorities withdrew their entry permits. The reason for this was a letter from the state-owned company stating that the miners had already been vaccinated against the corona virus and could therefore work in a possible test for the virus.

The company apparently wanted workers to be exempted from testing upon entry, but achieved the opposite. Authorities in the capital, Port Moresby, have asked for a statement from Beijing, pointing out that it is forbidden to import vaccines that are not approved in the country.

In the USA too, people seem to be under pressure from the advances from China and Russia. On Saturday, US President Donald Trump claimed on Twitter that hostile officials at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made it difficult for him to develop corona drugs and vaccines so that there could be no success report before the presidential election on November 3.

Representatives of a “state within a state, or whoever,” made it difficult for pharmaceutical companies to find subjects for drugs and vaccines, Trump wrote on. Addressing FDA chief Stephen Hahn, he wrote, “We need to focus on speed and saving lives.”


Hong Kong postpones city parliament election until 2021 – politics

The Hong Kong government has postponed the parliamentary election scheduled for September. Head of government Carrie Lam justified the controversial move with the fact that the number of new infections with the coronavirus in the Chinese special administrative area increased again. The BBC and the Chinese newspaper Global Times according to a one year postponement.

It was their most difficult decision yet, but it was about human health, said Lam. It would have been the first choice since China passed the controversial security law. The Hong Kong government relies on an emergency decree to move it. According to Lam, the Chinese government supports the decision.

This is a setback for the democracy movement in Hong Kong. The opposition is hoping for a majority of the votes to demonstrate citizens’ resistance to the new security law. Many western states have criticized the law sharply and accuse China of undermining civil rights in its special administrative zone.

Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong spoke on Twitter of “apparently the largest election fraud in history” in Hong Kong. Beijing is taking several actions to prevent the opposition bloc from taking a majority in the Legislative Council, Wong continued. “They could disqualify us, arrest them, put them in prison or even cancel the election and create a puppet parliament elsewhere.” On Thursday, Wong had been excluded from the election as one of twelve opposition candidates.

The Chinese-critical opposition had hoped for a landslide victory in the election. The indicator for the Chinese-critical mood was the district elections at the end of November 2019. The opposition won 344 of the 452 seats in the district councils. The pro-Chinese camp lost its majority in 17 of the 18 districts. The unofficial area code for determining the opposition candidates in mid-July of this year was a demonstration of the influence of anti-Chinese forces with a record participation of more than 610,000 Hong Kongers.

In the election to the legislative council, the Hong Kongers can only vote on the allocation of half of the 70 seats. 30 additional seats are occupied by mostly pro-Chinese representatives from professional associations and five from the district councils. The democracy movement has demanded universal suffrage since the return of Hong Kong to China.

The Security Act is the most radical cut in the autonomy of the former British crown colony, which was promised to it when it was handed over to China in 1997 according to the “one country – two systems” principle for at least 50 years. It provides life imprisonment as the maximum sentence for numerous crimes that the Chinese authorities see as subversion, secession and terrorism. In the past year, rallies by the democracy movement and sometimes violent protests against the government and China’s influence had paralyzed Hong Kong for months.