Uighur camp detainees

WHO’s Wuhan probe ends, U.S.-China bickering over COVID continues

WHO’s Wuhan probe ends, U.S.-China bickering over COVID continues

ReutersReuters

Gabriel Crossley

·2 min read 

A member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) arrives at the airport in Wuhan

By Gabriel Crossley

BEIJING (Reuters) – China called on the United States on Wednesday to invite the World Health Organization to investigate origins of the COVID-19 outbreak there, as sparring over the pandemic continued after the WHO wrapped up its field work in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Hours after the WHO team revealed preliminary findings at a Wuhan news conference on Tuesday, Washington said it wants to scrutinize data used by the team, which concluded that the virus causing COVID-19 did not originate in a laboratory in Wuhan, and that bats remain a likely source.

“We wish that the U.S. side can, like China, uphold an open and transparent attitude, and be able to invite WHO experts to the U.S. to conduct origin tracing research and inspection,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a regular daily briefing, repeating a call it has been making recently.

The origins of the coronavirus pandemic, which first emerged in Wuhan in late 2019, are highly politicized, with China pushing the idea that the virus has roots outside its borders.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday that the Biden administration had not been involved in the “planning and implementation” of the WHO investigation and wants to take an independent review of its findings and underlying data.

“The U.S. independently examining the WHO’s data? It’s the WHO who should examine the U.S. data,” said Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Global Times, a tabloid run by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, on social media platform Weibo.

“Did we all mishear, or is this spokesperson really so shameless?”

Peter Ben Embarek, who heads the WHO-led team that spent four weeks in China – two of them in quarantine – said that the investigation had not dramatically changed its picture of the outbreak, although the virus could have crossed borders before arriving in Wuhan.

In addition to ruling out a lab leak, he said that frozen food could possibly be a means of transmitting the virus, which would support a thesis backed by Beijing, which has blamed some case clusters on imported food packaging.

The WHO’s conclusion “completely refutes the conspiracy theory raised by some anti-China hawks, like former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, who has been accusing the Wuhan Institute of Virology of leaking the virus,” the Global Times wrote.

Pompeo had said there was “a significant amount of evidence” that the new coronavirus emerged from a Chinese laboratory.

Chinese officials have stressed in recent months that the virus could have emerged in multiple regions outside China.

(Reporting by Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Tony Munroe and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Norway’s youth parties call for an end to China free trade talks

Norway’s youth parties call for an end to China free trade talks

Axios

 Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian  

The youth wings of Norway’s main political parties have signed a letter calling for the country to rescind its normalization agreement with China and stop free trade negotiations due to China’s human rights violations.

The big picture: Amid growing global awareness that close economic ties with China can have a chilling effect on free speech, opposition to China’s Uyghur genocide is gaining momentum in Norway, where some politicians are fearful of jeopardizing ties with Beijing.

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Driving the news: In a letter dated February 9, a coalition of four advocacy groups — the Norwegian Uyghur Committee, Hong Kong Committee in Norway, Norwegian Tibet Committee and the Norwegian Taiwan Friendship Association — enumerate Beijing’s human rights violations in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and Tibet, and accuse the Norwegian government of compromising democratic values in order to negotiate a free trade agreement.

  • The letter’s signatories include leaders from the youth wings of eight out of the nine political parties currently represented in Norway’s parliament. Only the Progress Party’s youth organization did not sign.

What they’re saying: “When we do not oppose dictatorships, we help to legitimize and strengthen them,” the letter states.

  • “Never before in world history has a dictatorship had so much economic and political power as China has today. Through a free trade agreement, we are not only contributing to strengthening this dictatorship, but to further undermining Norwegian democracy and the Norwegian space for expression.”

Background: China froze diplomatic ties with Norway in 2010, after the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.

  • In 2016, the two countries signed a normalization agreement to end the diplomatic freeze, issuing a joint statement in which the Norwegian government stated that it “attaches high importance to China’s core interests and major concerns” and “will not support actions that undermine them.”
  • With diplomatic ties restored, the two countries resumed free trade talks.
  • In September 2020, the Norwegian industry minister said he was hopeful that a free trade agreement with China could be signed with by the end of the year, though a deal has yet to materialize.

The Feb. 6 letter calls for the end of trade talks and for the 2016 normalization agreement to be canceled, stating that, “With this agreement, Norway renounces the right to criticize the Chinese authorities, and at the same time undermines the freedom of expression of Norwegian civil society.”

  • “It is a question about our future, about the values we stand for,” Adiljan Abdurihim, secretary of the non-profit Norwegian Uyghur Committee, one of the non-profit groups that organized the letter, told Axios. “What we are suggesting to the government is, it’s ok to have economic relations with China but it should be on Norway’s terms.”

Go deeper: The scope of forced labor in Xinjiang is bigger than we knew

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The EU’s China Partnership: Turning a Blind Eye to Genocide

The EU’s China Partnership: Turning a Blind Eye to Genocide

National Review

More content below Andrew Stuttaford  More content belowFrans Timmermans 

Priorities, priorities . . .

Politico, February 2:

The EU is proclaiming a “good partnership” with China on climate issues, made smoother by avoiding mention of the country’s human rights record.

It’s not so easy for the U.S., which was slapped down by China last week as it tried to pursue a climate agenda while also denouncing China’s “genocide” against its Uighur Muslim minority.

EU Green Deal chief Frans Timmermans held a videoconference with Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng [on February 1] — the first in a planned series of high-level meetings between the world’s first and third-largest greenhouse gas polluters. Timmermans did not use the chance to raise concerns about human rights with one of the seven members in the Politburo Standing Committee, China’s paramount political body, his spokesperson said . . .

Timmermans caught Han up on this year’s plans to roll out the European Green Deal, aiming at the bloc becoming climate neutral by 2050. Han filled in Timmermans on China’s upcoming 14th Five-Year Plan, the first steps of China’s effort to reach net zero emissions by 2060.

After the meeting, Timmermans said the pair had “laid the foundations for a good partnership” that will continue ahead of the COP26 U.N. climate talks in November. Before then, the EU wants China to commit to cutting its emissions faster over the next decade and stop building new coal plants at home and abroad.

Chinese state outlet Xinhua reported that Han wanted to make “climate pragmatic cooperation” central to Beijing’s relationship with the EU.

In unrelated news (via VoA):

China put 38.4 gigawatts (GW) of new coal-fired power capacity into operation in 2020, according to new international research, more than three times the amount built elsewhere around the world and potentially undermining its short-term climate goals.

The country won praise last year after President Xi Jinping pledged to make the country “carbon neutral” by 2060. But regulators have since come under fire for failing to properly control the coal power sector, a major source of climate-warming greenhouse gas.

Including decommissions, China’s coal-fired fleet capacity rose by a net 29.8 GW in 2020, even as the rest of the world made cuts of 17.2 GW, according to research released on Wednesday by Global Energy Monitor (GEM), a U.S. think tank, and the Helsinki-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA).

The notion that China can be relied upon as a negotiating partner when it comes to climate has always been an absurdity. China’s regime does what it wants. If sticking to an international agreement, particularly with a counterparty lacking the sort of clout that Beijing respects, would run against what the regime regards as being in China’s (or, more importantly, its own) interest, then that agreement will not count for very much, if anything. Ask the people of Hong Kong how the Sino–British Joint Declaration on their future is holding up.

As for any suggestion that China will be inspired by the moral example that the EU is setting, well, call me skeptical, but I reckon that authoritarians engaged in genocide are unlikely to be moved by moral example.

And, yes, the torment being inflicted on the Uyghurs is, on any reasonable construction of the word, and as then–Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pointed out, genocide. In a must-read article for The Spectator, Charles Parton described in harrowing detail what has been going on in Xinjiang, the Uyghur homeland. He noted that this was “not a holocaust,” but:

As Xi Jinping, quoting an earlier Chinese thinker, said in another context: ‘To destroy a people, you must first destroy its history’. And to prevent its resuscitation, he might have added that you must strangle language, education, culture and the ability to reproduce.

And that is what China appears to be doing to the Uyghurs.

While the situation has yet to descend into mass murder of a kind that might have been carried out by the Nazis, the Soviets, or earlier incarnations of the current Chinese Communist Party, it is estimated that over a million Uyghurs are being held in concentration camps.

Then there is this (via the BBC):

First-hand accounts from inside the internment camps are rare, but several former detainees and a guard have told the BBC they experienced or saw evidence of an organised system of mass rape, sexual abuse and torture.

Tursunay Ziawudun, who fled Xinjiang after her release and is now in the US, said women were removed from the cells “every night” and raped by one or more masked Chinese men. She said she was tortured and later gang-raped on three occasions, each time by two or three men.

Ziawudun has spoken to the media before, but only from Kazakhstan, where she “lived in constant fear of being sent back to China”, she said. She said she believed that if she revealed the extent of the sexual abuse she had experienced and seen, and was returned to Xinjiang, she would be punished more harshly than before. And she was ashamed, she said.

In 1953, Raphael Lemkin gave a speech in New York on Soviet genocide in Ukraine, something he saw as a sustained process, which included an onslaught on the intelligentsia (“the national brain”), the churches (“the soul of Ukraine”), and the dispersal (often through deportations) and fragmentation of the Ukrainian population, something that was achieved partly by an influx of non-Ukrainians into Ukraine (there has been significant immigration of Han Chinese into Xinjiang). The central act of this genocide was, notoriously, directing a man-made famine against “the farmers, the large mass of independent peasants who are the repository of the tradition, folklore and music, the national language and literature, the national spirit, of Ukraine.”

Lemkin conceded that “there have been no attempts at complete annihilation, such as was the method of the German attack on the Jews,” but:

If the Soviet programme succeeds completely, if the intelligentsia, the priests and the peasants can be eliminated, Ukraine will be as dead as if every Ukrainian were killed, for it will have lost that part of it which has kept and developed its culture, its beliefs, its common ideas, which have guided it and given it a soul, which, in short, made it a nation rather than a mass of people.

And who was Raphael Lemkin? He was a Polish Jewish lawyer (49 members of his family were murdered in the Holocaust, although he was able to escape via Lithuania and Sweden to the United States) who coined the term “genocide” and was an instrumental figure in the passing of the U.N. Convention on Genocide, even if it did not go as far as he would have preferred, not least with respect to the “cultural” genocide he referred to in that 1953 speech.

Parton, meanwhile, writes that:

Under Article 2 of the UN Convention on genocide, killing members of a ‘national, ethnical, racial or religious group’ is only one of five reasons for actions to qualify as genocide. The other four are: causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about a group’s destruction in whole or in part; preventing births; and forcibly transferring children to another group.

Genocide also requires that the actions have the ‘intent to destroy’. The CCP does not spell out its intent, although it comes close when Xi insists on the ‘Sinicization’ of religion or advances his vision of a new ‘Zhonghua minzu’ (usually translated as ‘Chinese nation’, but ‘Chinese race’ is closer). Nevertheless, the scale of the atrocities, the clear and detailed planning, the allocation of resources, and the very detailed methodologies of repression, all revealed in leaked documents, are surely sufficient to convince, if not convict.

Under the circumstances, it is worth noting this from Politico (from mid January) in connection with the major investment deal that the EU has just agreed to with China (although it has yet to be ratified):

The European Union will not wait for Beijing to adopt a ban on forced labor before ratifying its investment agreement with China, France’s junior minister for trade Franck Riester said Tuesday.

“[T]he European Union will sign [the investment agreement] with the provision noted in the text, which is to make sustained and continuous efforts for ratification” of an International Labour Organisation convention banning forced labor, Riester said.

Asked by POLITICO whether France would insist on China banning forced labor before voting in the Council to approve the deal, Riester said it would not, but would instead insist on a “calendar” for Beijing’s reforms.

Adding irony to disgust is this story from the New York Timeswhich I discussed in more detail here:

In a flat, arid expanse of China’s far west Xinjiang region, a solar technology company welcomed laborers from a rural area 650 miles away, preparing to put them to work at GCL-Poly, the world’s second-largest maker of polysilicon.

The workers, members of the region’s Uighur minority, attended a class in etiquette as they prepared for their new lives in the solar industry, which prides itself as a model of clean, responsible growth. GCL-Poly promoted the housing and training it offered its new recruits in photographs and statements to the local news media.

But researchers and human rights experts say those positive images may conceal a more troubling reality — the persecution of one of China’s most vulnerable ethnic groups. According to a report by the consultancy Horizon Advisory, Xinjiang’s rising solar energy technology sector is connected to a broad program of assigned labor in China, including methods that fit well-documented patterns of forced labor.

Major solar companies including GCL-Poly, East Hope Group, Daqo New Energy, Xinte Energy and Jinko Solar are named in the report as bearing signs of using some forced labor, according to Horizon Advisory, which specializes in Chinese-language research. Though many details remain unclear, those signs include accepting workers transferred with the help of the Chinese government from certain parts of Xinjiang, and having laborers undergo “military-style” training that may be aimed at instilling loyalty to China and the Communist Party.

The EU makes great play of the fact that it is dedicated to ensuring that the horrors of Europe’s 20th century are not repeated. This noble claim would be rather more credible were Brussels not now busy deepening its relationship with a regime (now, arguably, more fascist than communist) that is operating concentration camps in the interests of something that looks a lot like genocide, while pursuing a foreign policy designed to bringing “lost” territories home, and of course cracking down on Hong Kong in a manner that is an affront to international law as well as to common decency.

More from National Review

UK ministers accused of cynically blocking clear vote on genocide

UK ministers accused of cynically blocking clear vote on genocide

Amendment would have given UK courts a role in determining if genocide is taking place

Sir Iain Duncan Smith described the government’s actions as ‘cynical to the extreme’.Sir Iain Duncan Smith described the government’s actions as ‘cynical to the extreme’. Photograph: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA 

 Diplomatic editor

Ministers have been accused of making a “mockery of democracy” by blocking a clear vote on giving the UK courts a role in determining whether a genocide is taking place.

The issue, wrapped up in the trade bill, will now return to the Lords where the proposal for a role for the UK courts – driven by allegations that Uighur Muslims are suffering a genocide at the hands of the Chinese government – is likely to be inserted for a third time.

Ministers had arranged Tuesday’s vote so that if Tory rebels backed an amendment passed by the Lords giving UK courts a role, they would also be backing a separate Labour-sponsored amendment imposing human rights audits before trade deals are signed.

 UK ministers accused of ‘engineering’ vote on genocide claimsRead more

Some Tory MPs were prepared to rebel to give the courts a role, but not if by so doing they would also be backing the Labour-sponsored plan.

Advertisement 

The independent peer Lord Alton said after the vote: “I am this evening preparing to retable the genocide amendment to enable the elected house to have the opportunity to vote on a fundamental issue. Denying them that right makes a mockery of democracy.” There is a significant majority in the Lords for giving the courts a role in determining genocide.

If peers reinsert the proposal, Tory rebel MPs, in alliance with opposition parties, have promised to try to ensure a clean vote on the issue when it returns to the Commons, probably next week.

In the only boost for ministers, MPs passed by 318 to 303 a government-sponsored compromise giving the foreign affairs select committee a role to investigate genocide and make recommendations in a Commons debate. Most MPs on the foreign affairs select committee regarded the offer as worthless, with one member, Chris Bryant, describing it as “the worst piece of parliamentary jiggery pokery” he had seen in 20 years.

The Labour MP added: “The bottom line is that this government seems to want to do everything in its power to prevent us as a nation clearly and unambiguously standing up against human rights abuse in China.” He said ministers had blocked a vote knowing they would lose.

Ministers used their control of the Commons order paper to prevent a clean vote on a Lords amendment to give the high court a role in advising parliament if a country with which the UK may negotiate a trade deal is committing genocide. Instead ministers welded two separate issues – the Labour proposal for human rights audits of trade agreements and the proposed role for the UK courts in genocide – into a single vote on the order paper.

The trade minister Greg Hands said it was a longstanding convention for related Lords amendments to be packaged together, but Tory MPs accused him of underhand tactics that were beneath him.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: “The government’s attempts to deny MPs a vote on the genocide amendment are cynical to the extreme. Now is not the time for parliamentary games. Members from across the house have voiced their support for this amendment and they must be heard.”

The episode has revealed nervousness in the executive about the triple threat of losing control of its China policy, extending ministerial accountability to parliament for its trade policy and providing a novel UK judicial route to determine if foreign powers are committing genocide.

Ministers also appear to have been caught off guard by the power of a campaign largely built up outside parliament demanding tougher action to protect Uighur Muslims. The alliance spans religious groups, victims of genocide, human rights campaigners and international lawyers.

Thirty-three Tory MPs rebelled the last time they were given a straight vote on a role for the courts to rule on genocide, cutting the overall Commons majority to 11. The scale of the whipping led to a backlash and claims that the then chief whip, Mark Spencer, considered his job to be on the line with the vote.

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China poses serious strategic threat to Canada, says Canadian spy agency head

China poses serious strategic threat to Canada, says Canadian spy agency head

China poses serious strategic threat to Canada, says Canadian spy agency head

China poses serious strategic threat to Canada, says Canadian spy agency head

China poses serious strategic threat to Canada, says Canadian spy agency head

China poses serious strategic threat to Canada, says Canadian spy agency head

China poses serious strategic threat to Canada, says Canadian spy agency head

China poses serious strategic threat to Canada, says Canadian spy agency head

David Ljunggren·2 min read  

FILE PHOTO: Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau ahead of their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) – China poses a serious strategic threat to Canada, both through attempts to steal secrets and a campaign to intimidate the Chinese community, the head of Canada’s spy agency said on Tuesday in a rare public appearance.

The remarks by Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) Director David Vigneault mark the second time in a few months that Ottawa – mired in a broad diplomatic and trade dispute with Beijing – has identified China as a problem actor.

Vigneault told an online forum that hostile activity by state actors seeking among other things to purloin business secrets and sensitive data “represents a significant danger to Canada’s prosperity and sovereignty” and singled out China.

“The government of China … is pursuing a strategy for geopolitical advantage on all fronts – economic, technological, political, and military – and using all elements of state power to carry out activities that are a direct threat to our national security and sovereignty,” he said.

The biopharmaceutical and health, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, ocean technology and aerospace sectors were most at risk from state-sponsored hackers, he said.

China regularly denies it is trying to steal secrets.

Vigneault also said China had used its Operation Fox Hunt – a search for what Beijing says are corrupt officials and executives who have fled abroad with their assets – to routinely threaten and intimidate political opponents in Canada.

“These activities … cross the line by attempting to

undermine our democratic processes or threaten our citizens in a covert and clandestine manner,” he said.

Last November, the Communications Security Establishment signals intelligence agency identified state-sponsored programs in China, Russia, Iran and North Korea as major cyber crime threats for the first time.

The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa was not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

Rape in Xinjiang Camps: Male Inmates Are Victims Too

Rape in Xinjiang Camps: Male Inmates Are Victims Too

BITTER WINTER

A MAGAZINE ON RELIGIOUS LIBERTY AND HUMAN RIGHTS

three friends of winter
Tue, February 9, 2021

 

Home / China / News China

See Transformation Through Education Camps.

“>transformation through education camp.” Exclusive footage by Bitter Winter.

Last week, all of a sudden, the BBC destroyed any tactical propaganda advantages China might have obtained from WHO inspectors singing the praise of how cooperative and transparent were those who showed them the laboratories in Wuhan. No detective would expect to find clues on a crime scene after more than one year, and that China has “friends” at the WHO has been an open secret for years.

But any brownie points China might have imagined it was winning with international media disappeared when the BBC told the horrific tale of how women are systematically raped in Xinjiang