Political Trends

China faces skeptics with UNGA pitch for global leader status

China faces skeptics with UNGA pitch for global leader status

Xi Jinping wants to rewire the international system in Beijing’s image — but he’s left it to a deputy to make the case.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks during a high level Security Council meeting.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks during a high level Security Council meeting on the situation in Ukraine, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, at United Nations headquarters. | Mary Altaffer/AP Photo

By PHELIM KINE

09/23/2022 10:32 AM EDT

China’s President Xi Jinping Zoomed into the U.N. General Assembly last year crowing about how his country had beaten Covid, opposed foreign military interventions and led the way in advancing democracy and rule of law.

Since then, China has taken Russia’s side in the Ukraine war. It’s menaced the democratic island of Taiwan and stamped out the vestiges of free rule in Hong Kong. And its vaunted economy has sputtered due to its draconian zero-Covid strategy.

China faces skeptics with UNGA pitch for global leader status

UK invites Taiwan to sign queen’s condolence book in symbolic China rebuke

Fox News

UK invites Taiwan to sign queen’s condolence book in symbolic China rebuke

Anders Hagstrom

Sun, September 18, 2022 at 9:18 AM·2 min read

In this article:

  • Elizabeth IIElizabeth IIQueen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand

The United Kingdom extended a “special invitation” to Taiwan’s representative in the country to sign Queen Elizabeth II’s condolence book along with other nations in yet another slight to China on Sunday.

The U.K. does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan due to the insistence of Beijing that the island is its sovereign territory. Nevertheless, Taiwan’s de-facto ambassador to the U.K. was invited with other foreign dignitaries to sign the condolence book, according to a statement from Taiwan’s foreign ministry.

Taiwan’s representative in London, Kelly Hsieh, “enjoyed the same treatment as the heads of state, representatives and members of the royal family of other countries who have gone to Britain to mourn,” the ministry wrote.

The move comes as China is growing increasingly aggressive toward Taiwan. The Chinese military held live-fire military exercises around the island in August in a simulation of an invasion.

CHINA ACCUSES US, TAIWAN OFFICIALS OF ‘PLAYING WITH FIRE’ WITH UKRAINE COMPARISONS

Queen Elizabeth II's state funeral will be held Sept. 19 at Westminster Abbey. <span class="copyright">Alastair Grant - WPA Pool/Getty Images</span>
Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral will be held Sept. 19 at Westminster Abbey. Alastair Grant – WPA Pool/Getty Images

The U.S. and U.K. have remained staunch allies of Taiwan, with U.S. lawmakers frequently visiting the island amid China’s bullying.

NANCY PELOSI LANDS IN TAIWAN AMID CHINESE THREATS, MILITARY ACTIVITY

Taiwan is frequently left out of international events at China’s insistence. For instance, the country is relegated to an observer status within the World Health Organization. The self-governed island is also referred to as “Chinese Taipei” at the Olympics and other international tournaments rather than “Taiwan.”

Taiwan split from mainland China when democratic forces fled to the island after losing a civil war to the Chinese Communist Party in 1949.

The U.S. and other Western countries operate under the One China Policy, which states that the government in Beijing is the only legitimate government of China. It also states that countries will not hold formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Nevertheless, the U.S. has provided billions in security funding for the island, and the Senate voted forward an additional $4.5 billion in funding last week.

“The bill we are approving today makes clear the United States does not seek war or increased tensions with Beijing,” Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, said after the 17-5 vote. “Just the opposite. We are carefully and strategically lowering the existential threats facing Taiwan by raising the cost of taking the island by force so that it becomes too high a risk and unachievable.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

UN members are considering action against China over its treatment of Uyghur Muslims, report says

Multiple members of the UN Human Rights Council are considering bringing action against China over its treatment of Uyghur Muslims, Reuters reported. Members of the UN committee are debating how to respond to UN report that said Uyghur people in China's Xinjiang region face persecution or imprisonment for acts including "rejecting or refusing radio and television" being "young and middle-aged men with a big beard," or "suddenly quit[ing] drinking and smoking."

UN members are considering action against China over its treatment of Uyghur Muslims, report says

 
·3 min read
 
 
Activists hold a demonstration against China's policies towards Uyghur Muslims in Jakarta, Indonesia on January 4, 2021.
 
Activists hold a demonstration against China’s policies towards Uyghur Muslims in Jakarta, Indonesia on January 4, 2021.Siswono Toyudho/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
  • The UN is facing the decision of how to respond to Chinese human rights violations of Uyghur Muslims.

  • A recent UN report outlined human rights abuses, which include arbitrary imprisonment.

  • China rejects the allegations and said action taken against the state will not work.

Multiple members of the UN Human Rights Council are considering bringing action against China over its treatment of Uyghur Muslims, Reuters reported.

Members of the UN committee are debating how to respond to UN report that said Uyghur people in China’s Xinjiang region face persecution or imprisonment for acts including “rejecting or refusing radio and television” being “young and middle-aged men with a big beard,” or “suddenly quit[ing] drinking and smoking.”

The debate is intensifying now as a new term for the UN Human Rights Council starts on Monday, Reuters noted.

Some Western diplomats told Reuters that some democratic countries are considering their options for how they can respond to China, including a formal ruling or recommendation on China, which may involve an investigation into the State.

This would be the first time a resolution is brought on China for the first time in the 16-year history of the human rights council, Reuters noted.

The agenda for the council session — which runs from September 12 to October 4 — does not currently include any discussions about Uighurs, Reuters noted, which means that one of the 47 countries on the council will have to propose it.

And members are weighing the chance to hold China accountable against the potential effects of taking action during what is already a time of global crisis, the report said.

Uyghur flag
 
Tunahan Turhan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Some diplomats have criticized the possibility of not acting.

Speaking on a condition of anonymity to Reuters, one Western diplomat said: “If the majority decide it is not worth acting after the violations denounced in the [China] report, it would mean that the universalist vision of human rights is at stake and the legal order would be weakened.”

Another said: “There’s a cost of inaction, a cost of action and a cost of a failed attempt to act.”

Zumrat Dawut told Insider her story of escaping from an internment camp for Uyghur Muslims. She said that in residential areas in Xinjiang, police monitor your at-home conversations and question any reference to Islam. People were seized if they had anything regarding their Muslim faith in their homes, she said.

She said she was taken to an internment camp where she was beaten, sterilized, and forced to deny the existence of Allah.

China has repeatedly denied any allegations of human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims.

It also rejected the UN report, saying it was “orchestrated and produced by the U.S. and some Western forces and is completely illegal and void,” according to the Associated Press.

“It is a patchwork of false information that serves as a political tool for the U.S. and other Western countries to strategically use Xinjiang to contain China,” Chinese ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in reaction to the report.

China has also attempted to quash the possibility of action being taken against the state.

China’s Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva Chen Xu said, according to Reuters: “The developing world will reject all anti-China initiatives initiated by Western countries.”

“Any kind of anti-China effort is doomed to failure,” he said.

The council agenda includes discussions on the wars in Ukraine and Ethiopia, and human rights abuses in Myanmar.

 

Mikhail Gorbachev, who steered Soviet breakup, dead at 91

Mikhail Gorbachev, who set out to revitalize the Soviet Union but ended up unleashing forces that led to the collapse of communism, the breakup of the state and the end of the Cold War, died Tuesday. The last Soviet leader was 91.

Mikhail Gorbachev, who steered Soviet breakup, dead at 91

·11 min read

MOSCOW (AP) — Mikhail Gorbachev, who set out to revitalize the Soviet Union but ended up unleashing forces that led to the collapse of communism, the breakup of the state and the end of the Cold War, died Tuesday. The last Soviet leader was 91.

The Central Clinical Hospital said in a statement that Gorbachev died after a long illness. No other details were given.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies that Russian President Vladimir Putin offered deep condolences over Gorbachev’s death and would send an official telegram to Gorbachev’s family in the morning.

Though in power less than seven years, Gorbachev unleashed a breathtaking series of changes. But they quickly overtook him and resulted in the collapse of the authoritarian Soviet state, the freeing of Eastern European nations from Russian domination and the end of decades of East-West nuclear confrontation.

His decline was humiliating. His power hopelessly sapped by an attempted coup against him in August 1991, he spent his last months in office watching republic after republic declare independence until he resigned on Dec. 25, 1991. The Soviet Union wrote itself into oblivion a day later.

A quarter-century after the collapse, Gorbachev told The Associated Press that he had not considered using widespread force to try to keep the USSR together because he feared chaos in the nuclear country.

“The country was loaded to the brim with weapons. And it would have immediately pushed the country into a civil war,” he said.

Many of the changes, including the Soviet breakup, bore no resemblance to the transformation that Gorbachev had envisioned when he became Soviet leader in March 1985.

By the end of his rule he was powerless to halt the whirlwind he had sown. Yet Gorbachev may have had a greater impact on the second half of the 20th century than any other political figure.

“I see myself as a man who started the reforms that were necessary for the country and for Europe and the world,” Gorbachev told The AP in a 1992 interview shortly after he left office.

“I am often asked, would I have started it all again if I had to repeat it? Yes, indeed. And with more persistence and determination,” he said.

Gorbachev won the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending the Cold War and spent his later years collecting accolades and awards from all corners of the world. Yet he was widely despised at home.

Russians blamed him for the 1991 implosion of the Soviet Union — a once-fearsome superpower whose territory fractured into 15 separate nations. His former allies deserted him and made him a scapegoat for the country’s troubles.

His run for president in 1996 was a national joke, and he polled less than 1% of the vote.

In 1997, he resorted to making a TV ad for Pizza Hut to earn money for his charitable foundation.

“In the ad, he should take a pizza, divide it into 15 slices like he divided up our country, and then show how to put it back together again,” quipped Anatoly Lukyanov, a one-time Gorbachev supporter.

Gorbachev never set out to dismantle the Soviet system. What he wanted to do was improve it.

Soon after taking power, Gorbachev began a campaign to end his country’s economic and political stagnation, using “glasnost” or openness, to help achieve his goal of “perestroika” or restructuring.

In his memoirs, he said he had long been frustrated that in a country with immense natural resources, tens of millions were living in poverty.

“Our society was stifled in the grip of a bureaucratic command system,” Gorbachev wrote. “Doomed to serve ideology and bear the heavy burden of the arms race, it was strained to the utmost.”

Once he began, one move led to another: He freed political prisoners, allowed open debate and multi-candidate elections, gave his countrymen freedom to travel, halted religious oppression, reduced nuclear arsenals, established closer ties with the West and did not resist the fall of Communist regimes in Eastern European satellite states.

But the forces he unleashed quickly escaped his control.

Long-suppressed ethnic tensions flared, sparking wars and unrest in trouble spots such as the southern Caucasus region. Strikes and labor unrest followed price increases and shortages of consumer goods.

In one of the low points of his tenure, Gorbachev sanctioned a crackdown on the restive Baltic republics in early 1991.

The violence turned many intellectuals and reformers against him. Competitive elections also produced a new crop of populist politicians who challenged Gorbachev’s policies and authority.

Chief among them was his former protegee and eventual nemesis, Boris Yeltsin, who became Russia’s first president.

“The process of renovating this country and bringing about fundamental changes in the international community proved to be much more complex than originally anticipated,” Gorbachev told the nation as he stepped down.

“However, let us acknowledge what has been achieved so far. Society has acquired freedom; it has been freed politically and spiritually. And this is the most important achievement, which we have not fully come to grips with in part because we still have not learned how to use our freedom.”

There was little in Gorbachev’s childhood to hint at the pivotal role he would play on the world stage. On many levels, he had a typical Soviet upbringing in a typical Russian village. But it was a childhood blessed with unusual strokes of good fortune.

Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev was born March 2, 1931, in the village of Privolnoye in southern Russia. Both of his grandfathers were peasants, collective farm chairmen and members of the Communist Party, as was his father.

Despite stellar party credentials, Gorbachev’s family did not emerge unscathed from the terror unleashed by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin: Both grandfathers were arrested and imprisoned for allegedly anti-Soviet activities.

But, rare in that period, both were eventually freed. In 1941, when Gorbachev was 10, his father went off to war, along with most of the other men from Privolnoye.

Meanwhile, the Nazis pushed across the western steppes in their blitzkrieg against the Soviet Union; they occupied Privolnoye for five months.

When the war was over, young Gorbachev was one of the few village boys whose father returned. By age 15, Gorbachev was helping his father drive a combine harvester after school and during the region’s blistering, dusty summers.

His performance earned him the order of the Red Banner of Labor, an unusual distinction for a 17-year-old. That prize and the party background of his parents helped him land admission in 1950 to the country’s top university, Moscow State.

There, he met his wife, Raisa Maximovna Titorenko, and joined the Communist Party. The award and his family’s credentials also helped him overcome the disgrace of his grandfathers’ arrests, which were overlooked in light of his exemplary Communist conduct.

In his memoirs, Gorbachev described himself as something of a maverick as he advanced through the party ranks, sometimes bursting out with criticism of the Soviet system and its leaders.

His early career coincided with the “thaw” begun by Nikita Khrushchev. As a young Communist propaganda official, he was tasked with explaining the 20th Party Congress that revealed Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s repression of millions to local party activists. He said he was met first by “deathly silence,” then disbelief.

“They said: ‘We don’t believe it. It can’t be. You want to blame everything on Stalin now that he’s dead,’” he told The Associated Press in a 2006 interview.

He was a true if unorthodox believer in socialism. He was elected to the powerful party Central Committee in 1971, took over Soviet agricultural policy in 1978, and became a full Politburo member in 1980.

Along the way he was able to travel to the West, to Belgium, Germany, France, Italy and Canada. Those trips had a profound effect on his thinking, shaking his belief in the superiority of Soviet-style socialism.

“The question haunted me: Why was the standard of living in our country lower than in other developed countries?” he recalled in his memoirs. “It seemed that our aged leaders were not especially worried about our undeniably lower living standards, our unsatisfactory way of life, and our falling behind in the field of advanced technologies.”

But Gorbachev had to wait his turn. Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev died in 1982, and was succeeded by two other geriatric leaders: Yuri Andropov, Gorbachev’s mentor, and Konstantin Chernenko.

It wasn’t until March 1985, when Chernenko died, that the party finally chose a younger man to lead the country: Gorbachev. He was 54 years old.

His tenure was filled with rocky periods, including a poorly conceived anti-alcohol campaign, the Soviet military withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

But starting in November 1985, Gorbachev began a series of attention-grabbing summit meetings with world leaders, especially U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, which led to unprecedented, deep reductions in the American and Soviet nuclear arsenals.

After years of watching a parade of stodgy leaders in the Kremlin, Western leaders practically swooned over the charming, vigorous Gorbachev and his stylish, brainy wife.

But perceptions were very different at home. It was the first time since the death of Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin that the wife of a Soviet leader had played such a public role, and many Russians found Raisa Gorbachev showy and arrogant.

Although the rest of the world benefited from the changes Gorbachev wrought, the rickety Soviet economy collapsed in the process, bringing with it tremendous economic hardship for the country’s 290 million people.

In the final days of the Soviet Union, the economic decline accelerated into a steep skid. Hyper-inflation robbed most older people of their life’s savings. Factories shut down. Bread lines formed.

And popular hatred for Gorbachev and his wife, Raisa, grew. But the couple won sympathy in summer 1999 when it was revealed that Raisa Gorbachev was dying of leukemia.

During her final days, Gorbachev spoke daily with television reporters, and the lofty-sounding, wooden politician of old was suddenly seen as an emotional family man surrendering to deep grief.

Gorbachev worked on the Gorbachev Foundation, which he created to address global priorities in the post-Cold War period, and with the Green Cross foundation, which was formed in 1993 to help cultivate “a more harmonious relationship between humans and the environment.”

Gorbachev took the helm of the small United Social Democratic Party in 2000 in hopes it could fill the vacuum left by the Communist Party, which he said had failed to reform into a modern leftist party after the breakup of the Soviet Union. He resigned from the chairmanship in 2004.

He continued to comment on Russian politics as a senior statesman — even if many of his countrymen were no longer interested in what he had to say.

“The crisis in our country will continue for some time, possibly leading to even greater upheaval,” Gorbachev wrote in a memoir in 1996. “But Russia has irrevocably chosen the path of freedom, and no one can make it turn back to totalitarianism.”

Gorbachev veered between criticism and mild praise for Putin, who has been assailed for backtracking on the democratic achievements of the Gorbachev and Yeltsin eras.

While he said Putin did much to restore stability and prestige to Russia after the tumultuous decade following the Soviet collapse, Gorbachev protested growing limitations on media freedom, and in 2006 bought one of Russia’s last investigative newspapers, Novaya Gazeta.

Gorbachev also spoke out against Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. A day after the Feb. 24 attack, he issued a statement calling for “an early cessation of hostilities and immediate start of peace negotiations.”

“There is nothing more precious in the world than human lives. Negotiations and dialogue on the basis of mutual respect and recognition of interests are the only possible way to resolve the most acute contradictions and problems,” he said.

Gorbachev ventured into other new areas in his 70s, winning awards and kudos around the world. He won a Grammy in 2004 along with former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Italian actress Sophia Loren for their recording of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, and the United Nations named him a Champion of the Earth in 2006 for his environmental advocacy.

Gorbachev is survived by a daughter, Irina, and two granddaughters.

The official news agency Tass reported that Gorbachev will be buried at Moscow’s Novodevichy cemetery next to his wife.

___

Vladimir Isachenkov and Kate de Pury in Moscow contributed.

Nothing In History Compares To China’s Brutal Heat Wave, Weather Historian Says

The two-month-long stretch of hot weather baking large swaths of China is, all things considered, the world’s most extreme heat wave on record, one climatologist argues

Nothing In History Compares To China’s Brutal Heat Wave, Weather Historian Says

Read the original article

·2 min read
 
 

The two-month-long stretch of hot weather baking large swaths of China is, all things considered, the world’s most extreme heat wave on record, one climatologist argues.

The country has kept national weather records since 1961, and this summer’s hot spell marks the longest continuous period of high temperatures that southern China has seen since then, Agence France-Presse reported Thursday.

Climatologist and weather historian Maximiliano Herrera believes that when all factors are taken into account, it’s the most severe heat wave recorded anywhere.

“This combines the most extreme intensity with the most extreme length with an incredibly huge area all at the same time,” Herrera told New Scientist on Tuesday. “There is nothing in world climatic history which is even minimally comparable to what is happening in China.”

Farmers in China's Sichuan province in a parched field on Friday, Aug. 26. (Photo: VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
 
Farmers in China’s Sichuan province in a parched field on Friday, Aug. 26. (Photo: VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Farmers in China’s Sichuan province in a parched field on Friday, Aug. 26. (Photo: VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

From the nation’s Sichuan province in the southwest to Jiangsu on the eastern coast, temperatures have routinely surpassed 104 degrees Fahrenheit, The New York Times reported earlier this month. On at least one day, the temperature in Chongqing municipality hit 113 degrees.

Severe drought has dried up rivers, lakes and other bodies of water ― including reservoirs generating hydropower that Sichuan relies on for most its electricity, CNN reported. As a result, the province of 80 million people has faced massive power cuts. Factories have closed, public transportation has run in darkness and farmers are seeing devastating crop losses.

The bed of Poyang, China's largest freshwater lake, lies exposed amid a drought in Jiangxi province on Wednesday, Aug. 24. (Photo: Zhang Yu/VCG via Getty Images)
 
The bed of Poyang, China’s largest freshwater lake, lies exposed amid a drought in Jiangxi province on Wednesday, Aug. 24. (Photo: Zhang Yu/VCG via Getty Images)

The bed of Poyang, China’s largest freshwater lake, lies exposed amid a drought in Jiangxi province on Wednesday, Aug. 24. (Photo: Zhang Yu/VCG via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, the U.S. is experiencing its own punishing drought conditions, with the Southwest facing what researchers believe is the driest spell in at least 1,200 years.

Scientists have warned for years that human-caused climate change is fueling catastrophic disasters across the globe, including extreme heat and drought.

“We’re looking at a long-term, undeniable trend,” climate scientist Astrid Caldas told HuffPost last year. “Imagine what we’re in for if warming continues unabated.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.

Related…

US senator visits Taiwan amid high tensions with China

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn arrived in Taiwan on Thursday, in the second visit by members of Congress since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip earlier this month sharply raised tensions with China.

US senator visits Taiwan amid high tensions with China

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TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn arrived in Taiwan on Thursday, in the second visit by members of Congress since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip earlier this month sharply raised tensions with China.

Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, landed in Taipei late Thursday after visiting the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.

Pelosi was the highest-level member of the U.S. government to visit Taiwan in 25 years. China responded to her trip with large-scale military exercises that included firing missiles over the island and sending ships across the midline of the Taiwan Strait, seen as a buffer between the two sides. Some of the missiles fired landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

China claims self-ruled Taiwan as its own territory, to be taken by force if necessary, and sees high-level foreign visits to the island as interference in its affairs and de facto recognition of Taiwanese sovereignty.

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Following Pelosi’s trip, a delegation of House and Senate members visited. This week, Indiana’s governor made a visit focused on business and academic cooperation. U.S politicians have called their visits a show of support for the island.

“I just landed in Taiwan to send a message to Beijing — we will not be bullied,” said Blackburn in a tweet early morning Friday. “The United States remains steadfast in preserving freedom around the globe, and will not tolerate efforts to undermine our nation and our allies.”

Blackburn is in Taiwan for a three-day visit and will meet with President Tsai Ing-wen and the head of Taiwan’s National Security Council.

Taiwan and China split in 1949 after a civil war and have no official relations but are bound by billions of dollars of trade and investment.

China has increased its pressure on Taiwan since it elected independence-leaning Tsai as its president. When Tsai refused to endorse the concept of a single Chinese nation, China cut off contact with the Taiwanese government.

U.S. congressional visits to the island have stepped up in frequency in the past year.

On Thursday, the executive branch of Taiwan’s government laid out plans for a 12.9% increase in the Defense Ministry’s annual budget next year. The government is planning to spend an additional 47.5 billion New Taiwan dollars ($1.6 billion), for a total of 415.1 billion NTD ($13.8 billion) for the year.

The Defense Ministry said the increase is due to the “Chinese Communists continued expansion of targeted military activities in recent years, the normalization of their harassment of Taiwan’s nearby waters and airspace with warships and war planes.”

Also Thursday, the Defense Ministry said it tracked four Chinese naval ships and 15 warplanes in the region surrounding the island.

China just ran into something that could be even more devastating for its supply chains than COVID-19 lockdowns: A record heat wave

COVID-19 lockdowns in China threw a wrench into global supply chains earlier this year, causing shipping and production delays worldwide, and hindering economic growth. Now, the country is facing another major threat—and this one could be even worse for the economy.

China just ran into something that could be even more devastating for its supply chains than COVID-19 lockdowns: A record heat wave

 
·5 min read
 
 

COVID-19 lockdowns in China threw a wrench into global supply chains earlier this year, causing shipping and production delays worldwide, and hindering economic growth.

Now, the country is facing another major threat—and this one could be even worse for the economy.

China has been coping with its worst heat wave in 60 years this month, with temperatures in several provinces routinely reaching 40°C (104°F). But one key province is experiencing the worst financial repercussions from the suffocating heat.

In Sichuan, a regional manufacturing powerhouse that is home to more than 80 million people, the record heat wave has exacerbated an ongoing drought, cutting water levels at hydropower reservoirs in half this month, according to the Sichuan Provincial Department of Economics and Information Technology.

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Sichuan relies on hydropower for roughly 80% of its energy needs, and with consumers using more energy than usual to stay cool during the heat wave, energy supplies are running short.

As a result, officials announced on Aug. 15 that factories in 19 cities and prefectures would be forced to close their doors for five days to reserve electricity for “use by the people.”

But an expert told Fortune that the ongoing heat wave is more than just a regional problem, and could have dramatic repercussions worldwide. Because of the specific challenges that heat poses, manufacturing work-arounds that became common during the height of COVID will no longer be possible, potentially leading to even more severe economic outcomes.

“These shutdowns have the potential to be equally if not more impactful on supply chains than recent COVID lockdowns,” said Mirko Woitzik, global director of intelligence solutions for Everstream Analytics, a supply-chain insights and risk analytics company.

From Sichuan to the rest of China

Some factories in China were able to remain open during pandemic lockdowns through the use of “closed loop” systems, where workers would isolate themselves at factories in order to continue operations.

But these types of mitigation efforts aren’t possible in a heat wave.

“Everyone’s depending on the same hydropower, so the entire region is really affected by it. And there’s no white list at the moment of exemptions. So it’s really the indiscriminate nature compared to the targeted COVID lockdowns that make this much more harmful,” Woitzik said.

For now, factory shutdowns caused by the heat wave in China are confined to Sichuan. But because of the region’s status as a manufacturing powerhouse, the effects will likely be widespread.

Electronic component manufacturers like Foxconn and Compal, which are both suppliers for Apple, and auto manufacturers like TeslaToyota, and SAIC Motor Corp. may be affected the most by the deadly heat.

Tesla and SAIC said on Thursday that they are having difficulty maintaining production amid the power crunch, and asked Chinese officials if their production could be prioritized. Toyota has also suspended production at its plant in Sichuan this week, according to Japanese media outlet Kyodo News.

Additionally, BOE Technology Group, an Apple supplier that makes LED screens and other hardware components, said on Wednesday that it will need to “make adjustments” at its operations in Sichuan owing to power rationing in the region. And Contemporary Amperex Technology, the world’s largest battery maker, said it will stop production at its Sichuan plant until Aug. 20, as a result of the power cuts, Reuters reported.

“The Sichuan region has become very important in the last 10 years in terms of raw material production,” Woitzik said. “Foxconn has their battery production there, and the list goes on, so it’s still very, very impactful in a supply-chain sense.”

Lithium and semiconductors could also be affected, though it likely won’t be to the same extent as electronic component manufacturers.

Sichuan is a key supplier of lithium, and some experts are concerned that China’s heat wave could cause prices of the silvery-white metal to soar.

Supplies of lithium have already been strained amid rising demand for EVs and production issues. And Woitzik notes that one of China’s top lithium producers, Sichuan Yahua Industrial Group, has shut down operations for five days and that prices for lithium are expected to rise in the near term as a result.

Still, Woitzik said that he isn’t too worried about the supply of lithium—at least for now.

“We believe that the impact will be more felt in terms of the intermediate and end products,” he said. “For lithium, the heat wave would have to last for much longer for it to create a significant impact.”

Another key industry that could be affected by the heat wave is semiconductors (also known as chips), which are used in everything from smartphones to fighter jets. Over the past two years, there’s been a global shortage of semiconductors, and the situation in China is set to make things even worse.

Woitzik said that Sichuan semiconductor manufacturers are already being affected by shutdowns, adding that they are “likely going to cause more ripple effects through semiconductor supply chains.”

But he also noted that Sichuan isn’t home to many semiconductor producers, so the impact on the ongoing chip shortage will likely be limited compared with past pandemic-related disruptions.

“In terms of semiconductor issues, they’ll probably be more confined, but then there’s a lot of other electric component producers, especially Taiwanese ones, that have settled down there [in Sichuan],” he said. “So, it’s really more the electronic components other than semiconductors that are key in Sichuan.”

The repercussions of longer factory shutdowns

Right now, factories in Sichuan are expected to be shuttered for only a little while.

But if the heat persists they could stay closed for much longer, making the situation for Chinese manufacturers even more dire.

“If it’s confined to the five to seven days, it would still be manageable,” said Woitzik.

But Chinese officials have already extended some factory shutdowns in Chongqing, a self-administered municipality located within Sichuan province, to Aug. 24, Woitzik noted.

“Factories can sort out inventory, and shutdowns won’t have that much of an impact,” he said of the heat wave. “But if it is going to 10 days, two weeks, or anything more than that, then we’re really talking about serious supply disruptions.”

This story was originally featured on Fortune.com

‘I want freedom’: One man’s escape from zero-Covid China to seek his American dream

Unlike many of the thousands aiming to cross the nearly 2,000-mile US-Mexico border illegally each day, Wang was not fleeing poverty or violence south of the wall. Instead, the 33-year-old Chinese citizen was running from China's unrelenting zero-Covid policy and growing authoritarianism under leader Xi Jinping.

See one man’s journey to flee zero-Covid China07:22

‘I want freedom’: One man’s escape from zero-Covid China to seek his American dream

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Updated 10:14 PM ET, Wed August 17, 2022

(CNN)On a sunny afternoon in June, Wang Qun pushed his nose up against the 20-foot high steel fence, peering at the palm trees and detached houses across the border — the first glimpse of his American dream.

Unlike many of the thousands aiming to cross the nearly 2,000-mile US-Mexico border illegally each day, Wang was not fleeing poverty or violence south of the wall.
Instead, the 33-year-old Chinese citizen was running from China’s unrelenting zero-Covid policy and growing authoritarianism under leader Xi Jinping.
From the other side of the Pacific Ocean, Wang left his family behind to travel thousands of miles by plane, bus, boat and motorcycle. He trekked through deep jungles and across barren mountains, and spent days in multiple detention centers — all in pursuit of freedom and opportunities in the United States.
 
His perilous journey — documented on social media and followed by CNN for months — is a living example of “run philosophy,” a Chinese buzzword that advocates emigrating from China to escape what some see as a doomed future under Xi’s rule.
“In the years after Xi Jinping came to power, China’s policies have become tighter and tighter, the economy is not doing great … and (his) dictatorship is only getting worse,” Wang told CNN.
“He’s just another version of Mao Zedong,” Wang added, referring to the founder of Communist China who built a cult of personality around himself and ruled until his death in 1976.
“Xi is going to get another term soon — and might even stay in power indefinitely. I see no hope.”

Wang Qun stands before the high steel fence on the US-Mexico border.

 
 
As China’s most powerful leader in decades, Xi is widely expected to secure an unprecedented third term at a key political meeting this fall. He has vowed to achieve the “great rejuvenation” of the nation, envisioning a China that rivals — if not surpasses — the West in power and strength.
Under Xi, the ruling Communist Party has touted its political model as superior to Western democracies, citing Beijing’s ability to swiftly stamp out Covid outbreaks as further proof that China is rising and the US is in decline.
Meanwhile, Chinese state media has relentlessly highlighted racial inequality, gun violence and political polarization as evidence of an American descent.
But the surging popularity of run philosophy — and the journeys taken to the US by Wang and others — is an outright rejection of that narrative, which shows many Chinese have no faith in Xi’s promise to make China great again.

‘I want to get out’

Most disciples of run philosophy hail from middle- and upper-class Chinese families with the means to legally emigrate, either through education, work or investment.
But Wang, who ran a bubble tea shop in an economic backwater in eastern China, says he has neither the money nor the skills to look for a school or job in the US.
After graduating from a vocational high school in 2008, Wang worked in graphic design for a few years in eastern Zhejiang province. Frustrated by low wages and stagnant career growth, he switched to online retail, riding a boom in China’s internet sector.
As the industry grew, competition became fierce and profits thinned. Wang quit in 2020 and returned to his hometown to open a bubble tea shop with a friend.

Wang Qun with his 5-year-old daughter in China.

 
 
By then, China had adopted its unrelenting zero-Covid policy, which relies on sweeping surveillance of its 1.4 billion citizens, mass testing, extensive quarantines and snap lockdowns — even when only a handful of cases are found.
Wang’s business was hit hard by the restrictions.
“I couldn’t make ends meet, and I have two children to raise,” said Wang, who is divorced. “I don’t want to be under lockdown. I want to get out.”
 
It wasn’t the first time Wang had considered leaving China. He said he first had the idea more than a decade ago, soon after he learned to circumvent China’s internet censorship system and read about the 1989 Tiananmen massacre online. “I had my political awakening around the age of 20. I knew the Communist Party was unreliable,” he said.
But his work, marriage and family life kept him busy, and Wang didn’t go out of his way to search for opportunities to emigrate. “Now that I’m divorced, I don’t have the burden anymore. I decided to go by myself and leave my two kids to my parents,” he said, adding that he hoped his children could join him later.
Wang set his eyes on one destination — America. He had never left China, nor did he speak any English, but he said he learned about the US from television shows and movies.
“My impression of the United States is that it’s a free, democratic, open, and vibrant country. You can accumulate wealth through your own hard work,” he said.

Treacherous journey over land and water

Leaving China in the zero-Covid era is not easy.
Since early 2020, China has kept its borders largely sealed to keep out the coronavirus — an attempt that appears increasingly futile in the face of the highly infectious Omicron variant.
The Chinese government has also banned citizens from going overseas for “non-essential” reasons. Travel is only permitted for resuming work, study, business, and scientific research, or seeking medical care.
Beijing says the ban is to reduce the spread of Covid, but many in China view it as a way to make emigration more difficult.

Wang Qun flew out of China in April, his first time going abroad.

 
 
Through online chat groups, Wang discovered a network of people in China planning to illegally immigrate to America through the South American nation of Ecuador.
He applied for a language school in Ecuador’s capital, Quito, and used the school’s admission letter to apply for a passport. Officials initially rejected his application, but eventually gave Wang his passport after he submitted a trove of supporting documents.
Wang made it out of China in April, and kept his family in the dark. “I told them I was going to look for jobs in Zhejiang again. I didn’t want them to worry for me while I’m on the road,” he said.

Wang Qun takes a boat from Colombia to Panama with other migrants.
 
It took Wang two flight stopovers to reach Quito, from where he rode buses for more than 1,000 miles to a coastal town in Colombia. He then took a boat to Panama with dozens of other migrants. He was excited by the ride, taking a selfie video with passengers sitting behind him, who laughed, cheered and gave the thumbs up.
But the journey ahead almost broke him from exhaustion. Wang spent three days hiking through Panama’s dense rainforest, trudging in mud, wading through rivers and climbing over cliffs. “It was so painful. I felt like a walking corpse, and at one point, after 12 hours of walking, I thought I was going to die,” he said.

Migrants cross a river in the Panama rainforest.
 
Emerging from the jungle, Wang took a canoe heading for a refugee camp. On the way, water leaked into the vessel and it almost capsized, forcing Wang and other passengers to frantically scoop the water out.
At the camp, Wang found refugees from around the world. From there, he spent seven days on buses to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala, then took another boat ride to Mexico’s border, where he was detained by police for illegal entry.
Five days later, Wang was released and told to leave Mexico within 20 days. He then paid a smuggler thousands of dollars to get to Mexico City. He was squeezed into the back of a truck with dozens of migrants, so crowded that he could hardly move or stretch his legs — then into a hot van with two dozen other people, with sealed windows and no air conditioning.

Dozens of migrants are squeezed into the back of a truck heading for Mexico City.
 
It was more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit inside the van, Wang said, and as sweat poured out of him, he struggled to breathe.
In Mexico City, he bought a motorcycle and rode 1,600 miles to the US border with a fellow Chinese migrant he met along the way, first up the coast and then across the desert.
Watching the sun setting on the shore one evening, Wang felt wracked with emotion. “My dear family on the other side of the ocean, I don’t know whether I still have a chance to go back in the rest of my life. Mom, Dad and kids, I miss you so, so much,” he posted on Twitter.
When CNN met Wang in Mexicali near the US border on June 4, he appeared relaxed and calm. While the journey was more treacherous than he had expected, Wang said it was all worth it.
“I want my kids to receive better education,” he said, adding that the patriotic education taught in Chinese schools was “brainwashing” his children.
“I don’t want to be suppressed. I want freedom,” he said.

Wang Qun’s journey from Panama to Mexico.
 

One of many desperate migrants

Wang’s journey to America may be rare and extreme, but he is not the only one taking the treacherous path.
CNN spoke to other Chinese nationals who were trying to immigrate to the US illegally, including a man who escaped China in June by walking across the border into Vietnam. From there, he flew to Ecuador, and is taking the same route as Wang to the US-Mexico border. He said he almost died in the Panama rainforest and has now made it to Mexico City.
According to the UN Refugee Agency, the number of Chinese nationals seeking asylum has grown by nearly eight times over the decade since Xi came to power, reaching nearly 120,000 in 2021 — with about 75% of them seeking asylum in America.

 
 
On China’s internet, searches for “emigration” began skyrocketing in March, as many struggled to get basic necessities and food during lockdowns across the country.
Discussion forums with detailed tips on how to leave China have gone viral on social media, and immigration lawyers say inquiries from Chinese wanting to leave have surged during the pandemic.
“Inquiries are up many hundreds of times over what it previously was,” said Edward Lehman, a Shanghai-based immigration lawyer.
Ying Cao, an immigration lawyer in New York, said back in 1949 hundreds of millions of people left China in fear of the new government. “Now we feel that there is a similar fear,” he said.
In response to CNN’s request for comment, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs defended the country’s Covid policies and called China a “land full of vitality and hope.”

A new life in America

The day after he spoke to CNN in Mexicali, Wang drove his motorcycle to the hills, then started hiking on a path heading north, until he came across a metal wire half-trampled into the ground.
He didn’t pay much attention and stepped right over it. It was not until 10 minutes later that he realized the wire marked the border and smiled with relief — he had finally made it to America.

Wang Qun drives his motorcycle in Mexicali.

 
 
He walked for hours across the wilderness, on terrain so steep and arduous that his sneakers fell apart. He then turned himself in to border control and, after spending a few days in detention, was released pending a hearing of his immigration case.
On the evening of July 4, Wang wandered the streets alone, gazing at the fireworks overhead.
“After having the American dream for more than 10 years, all of a sudden I’m strolling down the streets of the United States. I feel so many emotions running through me,” he wrote on Twitter.
CNN met Wang in late July in Los Angeles. He has temporarily settled into a community of Chinese immigrants and also made a friend — who crossed into America the same way he did.
But Wang knows it could be years before he sees his family again.
He had intended to eventually tell his family about his escape, but his son found out early. The 12-year-old shares Wang’s Apple account and located his father’s IP address in the US.
“I told him Dad came to the United States to make a lot of money for you and fight for a bright future for you,” Wang said.
He says he plans to seek political asylum. If his application is rejected, Wang says he may ask his kids to take the same dangerous route to America as he did, when they are older.
“My heart aches when I think of them. I really want to get them to the US as soon as possible. Because the longer it takes, the more they will be influenced by the Chinese education, and it will be harder for them to change,” he said.
While Wang waits to be called for a hearing on his immigration case, he is getting a driver’s license, training to be a masseuse and studying English every day. He plans to eventually become a truck driver in the US.

UN report says treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang may be modern form of slavery

Minorities in China’s Xinjiang region are forced to work against their will and face physical and sexual violence and “other inhuman or degrading treatment” in what may constitute a modern form of slavery, a report released on Tuesday by a United Nations office said.

UN report says treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang may be modern form of slavery

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Uyghur rights groups say the document validates allegations of abuse in the region.
By Alim Seytoff and Adile Ablet for RFA Uyghur
2022.08.16
 
 
 

Workers walk by the perimeter fence of what is officially known as a vocational skills education center in Dabancheng, northwestern China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Sept. 4, 2018.

Reuters

Minorities in China’s Xinjiang region are forced to work against their will and face physical and sexual violence and “other inhuman or degrading treatment” in what may constitute a modern form of slavery, a report released on Tuesday by a United Nations office said.

In the 20-page report, Tomoya Obokata, the United Nations special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, said that Uyghur, Kazakh and other ethnic minorities were being used as forced labor in sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing.

Members of these groups are detained and subject to work placements under state-mandated vocational skills education and training system and a poverty alleviation program that places surplus rural workers in sectors short of employees. 

Similar measures exist in neighboring Tibet, where an extensive labor transfer program has shifted Tibetan farmers, herders and other rural workers into low-skilled and low-paid jobs, according to the report, which was published for the U.N. Human Rights Council’s 51st session that runs Sept. 12-Oct. 7.

“While these programs may create employment opportunities for minorities and enhance their incomes, as claimed by the government, the special rapporteur considers that indicators of forced labor pointing to the involuntary nature of work rendered by affected communities have been present in many cases,” the report says in reference to Xinjiang.

The report adds that workers endure “excessive surveillance, abusive living and working conditions, restriction of movement through internment, threats, physical and/or sexual violence and other inhuman or degrading treatment.” 

It said in some instances the conditions the workers face “may amount to enslavement as a crime against humanity, meriting a further independent analysis.”

The Chinese government has held an estimated 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in a vast network of “re-education” camps that Beijing says is meant to prevent religious extremism and terrorism in the region. Forced or compulsory labor has been a key part of the systematic repression of the groups.

Obokata’s report comes as Uyghur activist groups await the issuance of an overdue report on rights abuses in Xinjiang by U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, who originally informed the Human Rights Council in September 2021 that her office was close to completing its assessment of allegations of rights violations in the region. Three months later, a spokesperson said the report would be issued in a matter of weeks, but it was not.

In July, Bachelet’s office said the report was still being worked on and would be released before she leaves office later this month.

Bachelet angered Uyghur activist groups after she visited China, including Xinjiang, in late May, repeating China’s assertion that the internment camps, referred to by Beijing as vocational training centers, had all been closed. The groups denounced the trip as a propaganda opportunity that allowed China to whitewash its crimes against humanity and genocide against the Uyghurs. 

The U.S. and the legislatures of several Western countries have declared that China’s repression in Xinjiang constitutes genocide and crime against humanity.

“The release of the U.N. report on contemporary forms of slavery is highly significant at a time when China is doing everything in its power to suppress the publication of the Uyghur report by the office of the U.N. High Commissioner Bachelet,” Dolkun Isa, president of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), told RFA. 

The findings of Obokata’s report that forced labor, and even slavery, exists in Xinjiang demonstrates “the crimes China is committing against Uyghurs,” he said.

Washington, D.C.-based Campaign for Uyghurs (CFU) said the report was an “extremely important and comprehensive assessment.” 

“We have been telling the world for years that China uses Uyghur slavery as an essential tool and enabling China’s economy and making the ongoing Uyghur genocide a profitable venture,” Rushan Abbas, CFU’s executive director, said in a statement.

“It’s a relief to see the United Nations finally recognize the extent to which these atrocities are taking place,” she said. “Now tangible actions are needed to hold the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] accountable for these crimes based on these recent findings.”

Adrian Zenz, a researcher at the Washington, D.C.-based Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and expert on the Xinjiang region, called the report “a strong statement” in which the rapporteur expressed that there is “reasonable evidence to conclude that forced labor is taking place in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and then a similar program existing in Tibet.”

“And then he says in some cases the situation may amount to enslavement as a crime against humanity,” he told RFA. “That’s the strongest form. This is quite a sort of a formal assessment at a very high level.”

Zenz noted that Obokata’s report comes nearly four days after China ratified two International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions on forced labor, one of which is designed to counter state-sponsored forced labor, forbidding its use for political aims and economic development.

The other convention prohibits the use of forced labor in all forms and requires state parties to make forced labor practices punishable as a penal offense. 

Translated by RFA Uyghur. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

 
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Canadian lawmakers plan Taiwan trip amid rising China tensions

A delegation of Canadian lawmakers plans to visit Taiwan in October to seek economic opportunities in the Asia Pacific region, Liberal Member of Parliament Judy Sgro said on Wednesday, a move that could further stoke tensions between China and the West.

Canadian lawmakers plan Taiwan trip amid rising China tensions

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FILE PHOTO: Canadian flag flies in front of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa

By Ismail Shakil

OTTAWA (Reuters) -A delegation of Canadian lawmakers plans to visit Taiwan in October to seek economic opportunities in the Asia Pacific region, Liberal Member of Parliament Judy Sgro said on Wednesday, a move that could further stoke tensions between China and the West.

The relationship between China and the West has worsened since U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan earlier this month against Beijing’s wishes. China claims Taiwan as its territory and is against foreign politicians visiting the island. Democratically governed Taiwan rejects China’s claims.

In response to Pelosi’s visit, China restricted trade and launched massive military drills around Taiwan, as well as slapped sanctions on Pelosi.

Beijing also imposed sanctions on a Lithuanian minister who visited Taiwan days after Pelosi’s trip.

China said another trip by U.S. lawmakers to the capital Taipei on Sunday was an infringement on its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The Chinese embassy in Ottawa did not respond to a request for comment.

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Canada did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Sgro said members of a parliamentary committee on trade have been planning to visit the self-ruled island for some time.

“The intent is not to disrupt and cause problems for Taiwan, or problems for China. It’s about trade, it’s about friendship, it’s about opportunities for Canada, in that whole Asia Pacific region,” Sgro, who heads the trade panel, told Reuters.

Sgro said Canadian lawmakers have visited Taiwan bi-annually in the past but stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is part of an ongoing effort for us to ensure that the doors are open for Canadian companies wherever there’s trade opportunity,” Sgro said.

Conservative MP and vice chair on the trade committee, Randy Hoback, said he would seek guidance from the Canadian foreign ministry before deciding on visiting Taiwan.

“I think we need to get back to normalcy in a lot of things and one of that is in visits and having interaction from country to country,” Hoback told Reuters.

A long-running standoff between Canada and China ended last year when U.S. prosecutors agreed to end a bank fraud case against Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, a high-profile Chinese businesswoman. She had been held under house arrest in Canada during extradition proceedings.

After Meng was freed, China liberated two Canadians who had been held by Beijing on espionage charges.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government said it respected the decision by lawmakers to visit Taiwan.

“Parliamentary associations and friendship groups travel regularly and we respect their independence,” Canada’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly earlier this month said U.S.-China tensions after Pelosi’s visit could destabilize the Taiwan Strait region and called on Beijing to de-escalate the situation.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa; Editing by Steve Scherer and Josie Kao)