Information and Threats from China: November 25-26, 2019

From The Irish Times: China must be held to account for brutal treatment of Uighurs

“Today in China one out of every 10 Uighur people, a Muslim Turkic ethnic minority, have been imprisoned without trial. Well over a million people, who the Chinese government have decided are ‘not developed enough’ economically or ideologically, have disappeared into a system of prison and forced labour camps, a system with chilling historical echoes.”

“At first, China’s rulers denied the existence of these camps until international scholars and journalists proved conclusively that they do exist. They did so through an analysis of Google Earth and other easily available satellite images which clearly show the construction of camps across the northwestern Xinjiang region where most of China’s 11 million Uighurs live. Other images show how mosques and important religious and cultural sites have been demolished in recent months…”

From Bitter Winter Magazine: Xi Jinping Portraits Replace Catholic Symbols in Churches

“Places of worship refusing to be controlled by the state are being shut down, while government-run churches are used to worship the Chinese Communist Party…What has hurt the congregations the most was the removal of a painting of the Virgin Mary with the Christ Child, later discarded into a dark corner of the church. Instead, a portrait of president Xin Jinping was hung in the center of one of the walls, surrounded by propaganda slogans on both sides…”

From The Journal of Political Risk: Evidence from Chinese Government Documents about the Nature and Extent of Xinjiang’s Extrajudicial Internment Campaign

“According to government statements, VTICs ‘wash clean the brains’ of those interned in them. Those subjected to such coerced brainwashing are referred to as ‘re-education persons’ – the same term used for detained Falun Gong practitioners. The classified document states that detainees who show signs of resistance are to be subjected to ‘assault-style re-education’ efforts.”

“Xi bears the full responsibility for the unlawful internment of innocent citizens; for family separations, trauma, dehumanizing conditions and the inordinate mortality rates that result from his policies. He is also responsible for the torture, rape and murder that are either being perpetrated in an intentional and systematic fashion, or that would invariably result from the oppressive conditions created by the mass internment.”

“Along with other despots such as Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong or Kim Jong Un, Mr. Xi represents yet another historic example of the severe consequences for humanity when leaders wield ultimate and unchecked power. The ongoing human rights atrocity in Xinjiang is nothing less than a litmus test for the world’s most basic shared values. If the international community does not decisively respond to this, then it better stop claiming that it actually cares about human rights for all people. As a religious devotee worded it thousands of year ago: ‘Faith without works is dead.’”

From the Council on Foreign Relations: China’s Repression of Uighurs in Xinjiang

“Under Xi, the CCP has pushed to Sinicize religion, or shape all religions to conform to the officially atheist party’s doctrines and the majority Han-Chinese society’s customs. Though the government recognizes five religions—Buddhism, Catholicism, Daoism, Islam, and Protestantism—it has long feared that foreigners could use religious practice to spur separatism…”

From VOA News: Details Leak From China’s Mass Detention Camps in Xinjiang; US Official Blasts ‘Concentration Camps’

“The documents show direct links between the internment camps and the extreme digital surveillance in Xinjiang. One document states that the purpose of the surveillance is ‘to prevent problems before they happen. Authorities are using data-driven surveillance to impose a digital police state in Xinjiang.This is done through a system called the Integrated Joint Operations Platform or IJOP, built by a state-owned military contractor.”

“The IJOP spat out the names of people considered suspicious for behavior that includes going abroad, asking others to pray or using cell phone apps that cannot be monitored by the government. These people were then called in for questioning and funneled into different parts of the system, from house arrest to detention centers with three levels of monitoring to prison…”

From The Guardian: UK calls for UN access to Chinese detention camps in Xinjiang

“The UK has urged China to give United Nations observers ‘immediate and unfettered access’ to detention camps in Xinjiang, where more than a million people from the Uighur community and other muslim minorities are being held without trial. The call from the Foreign Office was in response to the China cables, a leak of classified documents from within the Communist party which appear to provide the first official confirmation that the camps were designed by Beijing as brainwashing internment centres…”

From The Japan Times: Sony, Sharp supply parts to US-blacklisted China security video firm Hikvision

“Sony Corp. and Sharp Corp. have supplied parts to video surveillance company Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., one of 28 Chinese entities blacklisted by the United States last month over human rights violations, the Chinese company’s product brochures show. Hikvision — the world’s largest video surveillance company — employs image sensors supplied by Sony in 180 of its surveillance camera models and sensors from Sharp in two camera models, according to its product brochures.”

“The company previously stated on its website that one of its surveillance camera models could identify members of the Uighur ethnic minority group, but it removed the product from the website after the company was added to the U.S. trade blacklist.”

From Radio Free Asia: Chinese Police Swarm Tibetan Township After Independence Protests

“‘Disguised as businessmen, beggars, and ordinary people, Chinese police have also spread out across the town to spy on local people’s activities and sentiments,’ RFA’s source named Jampa Yonten said, citing contacts in the region. ‘Under such tight surveillance by Chinese police, local people’s routines have been severely disrupted,’ Jampa Yonten said.”

“The heightened security measures in Dza Mey—a Tibetan town of shops, restaurants, and small businesses—follow separate protests this month in the township’s Dza Wonpo village in which small groups scattered pro-independence leaflets in the courtyards of Chinese government and police offices…”

From Reuters: U.S. Army cadets told not to use TikTok in uniform

“U.S. Army cadets were this week instructed not to use China-owned social media app TikTok while representing the military, an Army spokeswoman said on Friday, amid concerns over the app’s handling of user data. On Thursday, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said the Army was undertaking a security assessment of the app, which is owned by tech giant Beijing ByteDance Technology Co.”

“The U.S. Army Cadet Command, which issued the order, oversees the Reserve Officers Training Corp, ROTC, and Junior ROTC, to train university and high school students for the military. The guidance from cadet command was issued in order to ‘err on the side of caution’, an Army spokeswoman said…”

From Reuters: China sets up Hong Kong crisis center in mainland, considers replacing chief liaison

“Tightening control over efforts to manage the upheaval in Hong Kong, the Chinese leadership has set up a crisis command center on the mainland side of the border and is considering replacing its official liaison to the restive semi-autonomous city, people familiar with the matter said. As violent protests roil Hong Kong, top Chinese leaders in recent months have been managing their response from a villa on the outskirts of Shenzhen, bypassing the formal bureaucracy through which Beijing has supervised the financial hub for two decades.”

“Ordinarily, communications between Beijing and Hong Kong are conducted through a Chinese government body: the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong. The Liaison Office is housed in a Hong Kong skyscraper stacked with surveillance cameras, ringed by steel barricades and topped by a reinforced glass globe…”

From The Japan Times: China’s growing threat to academic freedom

“China’s universities today are now deeply invested in an interdependent global system of research and educational collaboration. Since the Chinese Communist Party seems intent on instrumentalizing that system to influence global opinion of its governance and ideology, and to police foreign academic opinion it deems inimical to its interests, it was inevitable that foreign scholars would become vulnerable to such policies.”

“Recently, one foreign scholar was arrested in China, apparently for possessing a ‘forbidden book’: the Hokkaido University historian Nobu Iwatani, who was just released following over two months of detention. Iwatani’s detention marks a potential new, dangerous phase in the CCP government’s undermining of academic freedoms for its expansive regime security interests. However, the circumstances of his release may provide some indicators for how academic associations and institutions can push back against such infringements…”

From Foreign Policy: Hong Kongers Break Beijing’s Delusions of Victory

“By the end of the night, the democrats had tripled their seats, beating the pro-Beijing camp 389-61 with the highest turnout ever. Seat after seat flipped yellow, as establishment representatives fell to a wave of public anger; the more tear gas had been used by the increasingly brutal Hong Kong police, the bigger the movement toward the democrats.”

“In newsrooms in Beijing, however, the results began a panicked scramble to find a way to spin them in favor of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In stark contrast to most observers in Hong Kong, editors—and the officials behind them—appear to have sincerely believed that the establishment parties would win an overwhelming victory. Propaganda is a heady drug, and Beijing got high on its own supply…”

From The Strategist: Chinese espionage in Australia—the big picture

“We can be pretty confident Wang (the Chinese defector) is who he says he is and the Chinese agencies, companies and operatives he worked with did what he says they did. That’s even more likely given the Chinese embassy’s rapid denouncement of Wang that quoted a hastily issued statement from Shanghai police after Wang’s allegations were first reported. There’s no record of his supposed fraud conviction before the statement was issued and it seems like the kind of coverup you’d expect when a Chinese intelligence operation is compromised.”

“What does all this mean? Put bluntly, it shows that outgoing ASIO boss Duncan Lewis was spot on when he observed in September that terrorism had plateaued as a threat, but foreign interference was ‘on a growth path’. He noted that, ‘Unlike the immediacy of terrorism incidents, the harm from acts of espionage may not be present for years, even decades, after the activity has occurred. These sorts of activities are typically quiet, insidious and have a long tail.’ That’s an insight our political leaders and the broader Australian public need to take to heart…”

From Deutsche Welle: Germany under pressure to respond to Beijing’s Uighur internment

“Observers are now calling on Germany, and those of its multinationals connected to companies complicit in the internment, to take action against China, Berlin’s most important economic partner. Leaked documents from the years 2017 and 2018, published on November 24, reveal ‘the mechanics of the region’s Orwellian system of mass surveillance and ‘predictive policing,’ the ICIJ wrote.”

“A computer system dubbed the ‘Integrated Joint Operation Platform’ reportedly sifts through mass amounts of surveillance data about Uighur populations to single out individuals engaging in’suspicious behavior’ as innocuous as frequent praying and traveling. This information was used to intern more than 15,000 Uighurs in a single week in June 2017 and as many as 1 million people in total, according to the documents…”

From The Verge: WeChat keeps banning Chinese Americans for talking about Hong Kong

“Pro-democracy candidates won a landslide victory in Hong Kong yesterday, but many Chinese Americans have been unable to express their approval online. WeChat, a popular social media messaging app, has been censoring political messages and disabling people’s accounts if they voice their support for the movement — even if they’re in the United States.”

“Bin Xie, an information security analyst at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, wrote ‘The pro-China candidates totally lost’ in a WeChat group before having his account shut down. Xie is now part of a WhatsApp group for Chinese Americans who’ve recently been censored on WeChat. He joined the group to talk about what is happening and discuss what can be done to make it stop. ‘If you have censorship in China — fine,’ he told The Verge. ‘But in this country? I’m a Republican but on WeChat I suffer the same as Democrats [using WeChat]— we are all censored.’”

From CNBC: ‘China is the enemy’ on trade, not Trump — Cramer blasts media over love of Chinese leader Xi

“‘China’s hand in cementing a phase one trade deal with the U.S. keeps getting weaker even though many American media outlets keep reporting otherwise because they seem to like Chinese President Xi Jinping better than President Donald Trump’, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Monday.”

“Cramer said on ‘Squawk Box’ that the mainstream media wrongly thinks that ‘Xi is a great Chinese man with great Democratic leanings; member of the WTO. And we have a madman as president.’ Cramer also said, with exasperation, ‘China is the enemy, except for in the mainstream media that just loves Xi…’”

From Reuters: China summons U.S. ambassador in protest over Hong Kong rights bill

“China’s foreign ministry summoned U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad on Monday to protest against the passing in the U.S. Congress of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, saying it amounted to interference in an internal Chinese matter. The ministry said in a notice posted on its website Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang pressed the United States ‘to correct its errors and stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs and interfering in China’s internal matters.’”

“Anti-government demonstrators have protested in the streets of Hong Kong for more than five months amid increasing violence and fears that China will ratchet up its response to stop the civil disobedience. The protesters are angry at what they see as Chinese meddling in the freedoms promised to Hong Kong when Britain handed it back to China in 1997. The U.S. House of Representatives sent the bills to the White House on Wednesday after voting 417 to 1 for the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which the Senate had passed unanimously the day before. President Donald Trump is expected to sign that bill and one other relating to Hong Kong into law…”

From Yahoo! News: Taiwan ruling party says China ‘enemy of democracy’ after meddling allegations

“Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s ruling party denounced China as an ‘enemy of democracy’ on Monday following fresh claims of Chinese interference in the island’s politics ahead of presidential and legislative elections on Jan. 11. The allegations, reported by Australian media, were made by a Chinese asylum seeker in Australia who said he was a Chinese spy. China, which claims Taiwan as its sacred territory, to be brought under Beijing’s control by force if necessary, has branded the asylum seeker a fraud.”

“The Chinese man, Wang Liqiang, also provided details of Chinese efforts to infiltrate universities and media in the Chinese territory of Hong Kong, which has been rocked by months of anti-government protests…”

From Newcastle Star: Ministers urge vigilance over China spying

“Scott Morrison is deeply disturbed about allegations of a Chinese plot to infiltrate Australia’s parliament via his own political party. The prime minister has sought to assure Australians his government is doing everything possible to protect against foreign interference.”

“Explosive allegations aired on the Nine Network’s 60 Minutes suggested Chinese operatives offered $1 million to fund Liberal Party member Nick Zhao’s tilt at federal parliament. The 32-year-old was found dead in a Melbourne hotel room in March after reportedly approaching ASIO to discuss the plot…”

From the Department of Justice: Former Chinese Diplomat and Head of U.S. Operations for Chinese Construction Business Sentenced to 190 Months’ Imprisonment for Engaging in Forced Labor and Related Charges

“Earlier Monday, in federal court in Brooklyn, Dan Zhong, a former diplomat of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), was sentenced by United States District Judge Ann M. Donnelly to 190 months’ imprisonment and a $50,000 fine.  Zhong, the former head of U.S. operations of Chinese Liaoning Rilin Construction (Group) Co. Ltd. (also known as China Rilin) and U.S.-based subsidiaries, including U.S. Rilin, was convicted by a federal jury in March 2019 following a three-week trial on charges of conspiracy to provide forced labor, providing and benefitting from forced labor, concealing passports and immigration documents in connection with forced labor, conspiracy to commit alien smuggling and conspiracy to commit visa fraud…”

From the Wall Street Journal: U.S. Tech Companies Prop Up China’s Vast Surveillance Network

“Intel, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and others aided and profited from China’s multibillion-dollar surveillance industry, used in its Muslim crackdown. Critical pieces of China’s cutting-edge surveillance state share a connection. They came from America. Some of the biggest names in U.S. technology have provided components, financing and know-how to China’s multibillion-dollar surveillance industry. The country’s authoritarian government uses those tools to track ethnic minorities, political dissidents and others it sees as a threat to its power—including in Xinjiang, where authorities are creating an all-seeing digital monitoring system that feeds into a network of detention camps for the area’s Muslims.”

“U.S. companies, including Seagate Technology PLC, Western Digital Corp. , Intel Corp. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. , have nurtured, courted and profited from China’s surveillance industry. Several have been involved since the industry’s infancy…”

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