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China and Japan step up drone race as tension builds over disputed islands
Both countries claim drones will be used for surveillance, but experts warn of future skirmishes in region’s airspace
Drones have taken centre stage in an escalating arms race betweenChina and Japan as they struggle to assert their dominance over disputed islands in the East China Sea.
China is rapidly expanding its nascent drone programme, while Japan has begun preparations to purchase an advanced model from the US. Both sides claim the drones will be used for surveillance, but experts warn the possibility of future drone skirmishes in the region’s airspace is “very high”.
Tensions over the islands – called the Diaoyu by China and the Senkaku by Japan – have ratcheted up in past weeks. Chinese surveillance planes flew near the islands four times in the second half of December, according to Chinese state media, but were chased away each time by Japanese F-15 fighter jets. Neither side has shown any signs of backing down.
Japan’s new conservative administration of Shinzo Abe has placed a priority on countering the perceived Chinese threat to the Senkakus since it won a landslide victory in last month’s general election. Soon after becoming prime minister, Abe ordered a review of Japan’s 2011-16 mid-term defence programme, apparently to speed up the acquisition of between one and three US drones.
Under Abe, a nationalist who wants a bigger international role for the armed forces, Japan is expected to increase defence spending for the first time in 11 years in 2013. The extra cash will be used to increase the number of military personnel and upgrade equipment. The country’s deputy foreign minister, Akitaka Saiki, summoned the Chinese ambassador to Japan on Tuesday to discuss recent “incursions” of Chinese ships into the disputed territory.
China appears unbowed. “Japan has continued to ignore our warnings that their vessels and aircraft have infringed our sovereignty,” top-level marine surveillance official Sun Shuxian said in an interview posted to the State Oceanic Administration’s website, according to Reuters. “This behaviour may result in the further escalation of the situation at sea and has prompted China to pay great attention and vigilance.”
Pictured: The row between China and Japan over the disputed islands – called the Diaoyu by China and the Senkaku by Japan – has escalated recently. Photograph: AP

China and Japan step up drone race as tension builds over disputed islands

Both countries claim drones will be used for surveillance, but experts warn of future skirmishes in region’s airspace

Drones have taken centre stage in an escalating arms race betweenChina and Japan as they struggle to assert their dominance over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

China is rapidly expanding its nascent drone programme, while Japan has begun preparations to purchase an advanced model from the US. Both sides claim the drones will be used for surveillance, but experts warn the possibility of future drone skirmishes in the region’s airspace is “very high”.

Tensions over the islands – called the Diaoyu by China and the Senkaku by Japan – have ratcheted up in past weeks. Chinese surveillance planes flew near the islands four times in the second half of December, according to Chinese state media, but were chased away each time by Japanese F-15 fighter jets. Neither side has shown any signs of backing down.

Japan’s new conservative administration of Shinzo Abe has placed a priority on countering the perceived Chinese threat to the Senkakus since it won a landslide victory in last month’s general election. Soon after becoming prime minister, Abe ordered a review of Japan’s 2011-16 mid-term defence programme, apparently to speed up the acquisition of between one and three US drones.

Under Abe, a nationalist who wants a bigger international role for the armed forces, Japan is expected to increase defence spending for the first time in 11 years in 2013. The extra cash will be used to increase the number of military personnel and upgrade equipment. The country’s deputy foreign minister, Akitaka Saiki, summoned the Chinese ambassador to Japan on Tuesday to discuss recent “incursions” of Chinese ships into the disputed territory.

China appears unbowed. “Japan has continued to ignore our warnings that their vessels and aircraft have infringed our sovereignty,” top-level marine surveillance official Sun Shuxian said in an interview posted to the State Oceanic Administration’s website, according to Reuters. “This behaviour may result in the further escalation of the situation at sea and has prompted China to pay great attention and vigilance.”

Pictured: The row between China and Japan over the disputed islands – called the Diaoyu by China and the Senkaku by Japan – has escalated recently. Photograph: AP

(Source: BBC)

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reuters:

China unveiled tighter Internet controls on Friday, legalizing the deletion of posts or pages which are deemed to contain “illegal” information and requiring service providers to hand over such information to the authorities for punishment.
The rules signal that the new leadership headed by Communist Party chief Xi Jinping will continue muzzling the often scathing, raucous online chatter in a country where the Internet offers a rare opportunity for debate.
The new regulations, announced by the official Xinhua news agency, also require Internet users to register with their real names when signing up with network providers, though, in reality, this already happens.
Chinese authorities and Internet companies such as Sina Corp have long since closely monitored and censored what people say online, but the government has now put measures such as deleting posts into law.”
Service providers are required to instantly stop the transmission of illegal information once it is spotted and take relevant measures, including removing the information and saving records, before reporting to supervisory authorities,” the rules state.
The restrictions follow a series of corruption scandals amongst lower-level officials exposed by Internet users, something the government has said it is trying to encourage.
READ ON: China tightens Internet controls, legalizes post deletion

reuters:

China unveiled tighter Internet controls on Friday, legalizing the deletion of posts or pages which are deemed to contain “illegal” information and requiring service providers to hand over such information to the authorities for punishment.

The rules signal that the new leadership headed by Communist Party chief Xi Jinping will continue muzzling the often scathing, raucous online chatter in a country where the Internet offers a rare opportunity for debate.

The new regulations, announced by the official Xinhua news agency, also require Internet users to register with their real names when signing up with network providers, though, in reality, this already happens.

Chinese authorities and Internet companies such as Sina Corp have long since closely monitored and censored what people say online, but the government has now put measures such as deleting posts into law.”

Service providers are required to instantly stop the transmission of illegal information once it is spotted and take relevant measures, including removing the information and saving records, before reporting to supervisory authorities,” the rules state.

The restrictions follow a series of corruption scandals amongst lower-level officials exposed by Internet users, something the government has said it is trying to encourage.

READ ON: China tightens Internet controls, legalizes post deletion

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breakingnews:

China’s new Communist Party leadership announced
Reuters:

China’s ruling Communist Party unveiled its new leadership line-up on Thursday to steer the world’s second-largest economy for the next five years, with Vice President Xi Jinping taking over from outgoing President Hu Jintao as party chief.
Xi was also named head of the party’s Central Military Commission, state news agency Xinhua said.
The other new members of the Politburo Standing Committee - the innermost circle of power in China’s authoritarian government - include premier-in-waiting Li Keqiang and financial guru Wang Qishan, who will be in charge of fighting corruption.

Photo: China’s new Politburo Standing Committee members (from L to R) Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli arrive to meet the press at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, in this November 15, 2012 photo released by Chinese official Xinhua News Agency. (Reuters/Xinhua/Ding Lin)

breakingnews:

China’s new Communist Party leadership announced

Reuters:

China’s ruling Communist Party unveiled its new leadership line-up on Thursday to steer the world’s second-largest economy for the next five years, with Vice President Xi Jinping taking over from outgoing President Hu Jintao as party chief.

Xi was also named head of the party’s Central Military Commission, state news agency Xinhua said.

The other new members of the Politburo Standing Committee - the innermost circle of power in China’s authoritarian government - include premier-in-waiting Li Keqiang and financial guru Wang Qishan, who will be in charge of fighting corruption.

Photo: China’s new Politburo Standing Committee members (from L to R) Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli arrive to meet the press at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, in this November 15, 2012 photo released by Chinese official Xinhua News Agency. (Reuters/Xinhua/Ding Lin)

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Little Islands Are Big Trouble In The South China Sea

A storm has been brewing for decades in the South China Sea, and it has nothing to do with the weather.

Instead, it’s a virtual typhoon of competing claims over tiny, uninhabited island chains that ring the South China Sea and reach even farther north. They all have one thing in common: China has claimed control of them.

During a trip to Asia this week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stepped into the middle of the latest row — this one between China and the Philippines over a small archipelago of wind- and wave-swept rocks and coral called the Scarborough Shoal (or the Huangyan Islands, as China prefers to call them).

In the past month or so, China has literally roped off access to Scarborough by stretching a line across the horseshoe-shaped lagoon to prevent fishermen from the Philippines, located just 120 miles to the east, from entering.

And this week, Japan announced it had struck a deal with private owners to buy the five Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, whose sovereignty China has never recognized. Beijing was quick to blast the move as “illegal and invalid.”

Robert Kaplan, chief geopolitical analyst for Stratfor and author of the upcoming book The Revenge of Geography, says China’s claims are rooted in economic and national prestige.

"It’s a historic belief that is very similar to that which motivated the United States in the Caribbean basin throughout much of the 19th and 20th centuries," he adds.

Claims, Counterclaims And The ‘Cow’s Tongue’

China sees the islands, and more broadly control over the adjacent seas, as a historical right, dovetailing with its newly reclaimed role of East Asia’s dominant power. Also at stake: a strategic waterway with massive oil and gas reserves that potentially could help fuel China’s energy-hungry industries and towns.

Speaking in Indonesia ahead of her arrival in Beijing, Clinton reiterated the U.S. position that the various island disputes — which have put China at odds with nearly every one of its maritime neighbors — should be resolved “collaboratively … without coercion, without intimidation, without threats and without the use of force.”

But coercion, intimidation, threats and even occasional violence have all been part of these disputes, many dating to the end of World War II.

The claims and counterclaims can be confusing. It’s China vs. the Philippines and Taiwan for control of Scarborough Shoal; Taiwan also claims the Pratas Islands and (along with Vietnam) the Paracel Islands and the Macclesfield Bank, which the Philippines also claims; the Spratly Islands are claimed by Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and even the tiny sultanate of Brunei. These disputes involve an area known as the “cow’s tongue,” which is roughly equivalent to the entire South China Sea.

Farther north, Beijing and Tokyo are at loggerheads over the Senkaku, or Diaoyu Islands, as the Chinese call them.

Pictured: Last month, Japanese police officers arrested activists holding Chinese and Taiwanese flags who landed on Uotsuri Island, one of the islands of Senkaku (in Japanese), which is known as Diaoyu in Chinese.Masataka Morita/AP

Filed under china japan south china sea asia territorial dispute

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More protests over HK ‘national education’ row
Thousands protested outside government headquarters in Hong Kong on Monday, amid a row over a controversial national education programme.
The protesters accuse the government of trying to brainwash students with pro-China education and want the programme to be scrapped.
But the government says it is about building national pride and identity.
Protests have been rumbling for months, but built over the weekend before the start of the new school year.
A small number of activists have been taking part in hunger strikes.
The government wants schools to introduce the programme now and plans to make it compulsory by 2016.
But protesters - who comprise parents, students and teachers - say its core aim is to bolster support for China’s communist rulers.
They have highlighted a government booklet that they say glorifies Communist Party rule in China while ignoring sensitive issues.
Some 8,000 people joined Monday night’s protest, reports said.
Pictured: Protesters gather on Monday, urging the government to abandon its plan

More protests over HK ‘national education’ row

Thousands protested outside government headquarters in Hong Kong on Monday, amid a row over a controversial national education programme.

The protesters accuse the government of trying to brainwash students with pro-China education and want the programme to be scrapped.

But the government says it is about building national pride and identity.

Protests have been rumbling for months, but built over the weekend before the start of the new school year.

A small number of activists have been taking part in hunger strikes.

The government wants schools to introduce the programme now and plans to make it compulsory by 2016.

But protesters - who comprise parents, students and teachers - say its core aim is to bolster support for China’s communist rulers.

They have highlighted a government booklet that they say glorifies Communist Party rule in China while ignoring sensitive issues.

Some 8,000 people joined Monday night’s protest, reports said.

Pictured: Protesters gather on Monday, urging the government to abandon its plan

Filed under china hong kong asia education protests

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Hong Kong protests China 'patriotism' classes - Asia-Pacific - Al Jazeera English

Thousands of Hong Kong parents and activists have protested against a plan to introduce national education lessons, labelling it as a bid to brainwash children with Chinese propaganda.

Organisers said Sunday’s protest, which attracted stroller-pushing parents, involved 90,000 demonstrators, but police estimates gave a lower figure of 32,000.

"As a parent, I’m very angry, this is a blatant brainwashing," mother-of-three Sandra Wong said as she marched in the sweltering heat accompanied by her husband and pushing her two-year-old daughter in a stroller.

"The curriculum only paints a rosy picture about the Communist Party… This is just an attempt to introduce the mainland agenda in Hong Kong schools."

The government has said national education lessons, to be introduced in September and made compulsory in 2015, are important to foster a sense of national pride and belonging.

The protest underscored rising anti-Beijing sentiments, coming weeks after the city’s biggest demonstration in nearly a decade, as new leader Leung Chun-ying, also called chief executive, was sworn in before Hu Jintao, the Chinese president.

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Dalai Lama says he must remain neutral on self-immolations

Tibetan spiritual leader says he does not wish to upset families of the dead or offer political opportunity to China
The Dalai Lama has said he cannot be negative about the spate of self-immolations by Tibetans in China because it would hurt their families.
The exiled spiritual leader said it was best for him to remain neutral on a “very, very delicate political issue”.
Around 40 Tibetans, many of them monks or former members of the clergy, have set themselves on fire over the last year and a half, triggering a security clampdown.
"Now, the reality is that if I say something positive, then the Chinese immediately blame me," he told The Hindu newspaper.
"If I say something negative, then the family members of those people feel very sad. They sacrificed their … life. It is not easy. So I do not want to create some kind of impression that this is wrong."
China has accused the Dalai Lama of inciting the self-immolations, whilehe has blamed Chinese policies.
Although he has expressed deep sorrow at the deaths and injuries of those involved, he has stopped short of asking Tibetans not to set fire to themselves – as another senior Buddhist figure, the Karmapa, did last year.
The Karmapa, who some see as a potential successor to the Dalai Lama as Tibetan spiritual leader, praised the “pure motivation” and bravery of those involved, but added: “I request the people of Tibet to preserve their lives and find other, constructive ways to work for the cause of Tibet.”
Tsering Woeser, an outspoken Tibetan poet and writer who lives in Beijing, has also called for an end to self-immolations, saying it does not help the cause of Tibetan rights.
Pictured: The Dalai Lama at the inauguration of a hospital near Dharamsala, India, this month. Photograph: Ashwini Bhatia/AP

Dalai Lama says he must remain neutral on self-immolations

Tibetan spiritual leader says he does not wish to upset families of the dead or offer political opportunity to China

The Dalai Lama has said he cannot be negative about the spate of self-immolations by Tibetans in China because it would hurt their families.

The exiled spiritual leader said it was best for him to remain neutral on a “very, very delicate political issue”.

Around 40 Tibetans, many of them monks or former members of the clergy, have set themselves on fire over the last year and a half, triggering a security clampdown.

"Now, the reality is that if I say something positive, then the Chinese immediately blame me," he told The Hindu newspaper.

"If I say something negative, then the family members of those people feel very sad. They sacrificed their … life. It is not easy. So I do not want to create some kind of impression that this is wrong."

China has accused the Dalai Lama of inciting the self-immolations, whilehe has blamed Chinese policies.

Although he has expressed deep sorrow at the deaths and injuries of those involved, he has stopped short of asking Tibetans not to set fire to themselves – as another senior Buddhist figure, the Karmapa, did last year.

The Karmapa, who some see as a potential successor to the Dalai Lama as Tibetan spiritual leader, praised the “pure motivation” and bravery of those involved, but added: “I request the people of Tibet to preserve their lives and find other, constructive ways to work for the cause of Tibet.”

Tsering Woeser, an outspoken Tibetan poet and writer who lives in Beijing, has also called for an end to self-immolations, saying it does not help the cause of Tibetan rights.

Pictured: The Dalai Lama at the inauguration of a hospital near Dharamsala, India, this month. Photograph: Ashwini Bhatia/AP

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Chinese anti-pollution protesters freed as state bows to public outcry
A Chinese city has released 21 people who were detained after a clash between police and residents protesting against a metals plant they feared would poison them, city officials said on Wednesday.
Shifang government releases majority of demonstrators and cancels copper plant project after thousands took to streets
Thousands of people in the south-west city of Shifang took to the streets over the past three days to protest against the government’s plans to allow the building of a copper alloy plant, the latest unrest spurred by environmental concerns in the world’s second-largest economy.
The Shifang government said police had “forcibly taken away 27 suspected criminals” on Monday and Tuesday for tearing down the door of the municipal government building, smashing windows and throwing bricks and stones at police and government workers.
That prompted a massive sit-in on Tuesday night outside a government office by locals demanding their release.
Six are still in police custody, the city government said in a statement on its official Sina Weibo microblogging site.
"The remaining 21 people, after receiving criticism and education and repenting for their mistakes, were released at 11pm on 3 July," the government said on Wednesday.
The government took the uncommon step on Tuesday night of cancelling the metals project planned by Shanghai-listed Sichuan Hongda. The city initially had said it would only suspend the project.
The latest protest underscores how environmental worries have stoked calls for expanded rights for citizens and greater consultation in the tightly controlled one-party state. They follow similar demonstrations against projects in the cities of Dalian in the north-east and Haimen in southern Guangdong province in the past year.
Pictured: Protests in Shifang highlighted growing concerns over the environmental impact of industrial development. Photograph: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

Chinese anti-pollution protesters freed as state bows to public outcry

A Chinese city has released 21 people who were detained after a clash between police and residents protesting against a metals plant they feared would poison them, city officials said on Wednesday.

Shifang government releases majority of demonstrators and cancels copper plant project after thousands took to streets

Thousands of people in the south-west city of Shifang took to the streets over the past three days to protest against the government’s plans to allow the building of a copper alloy plant, the latest unrest spurred by environmental concerns in the world’s second-largest economy.

The Shifang government said police had “forcibly taken away 27 suspected criminals” on Monday and Tuesday for tearing down the door of the municipal government building, smashing windows and throwing bricks and stones at police and government workers.

That prompted a massive sit-in on Tuesday night outside a government office by locals demanding their release.

Six are still in police custody, the city government said in a statement on its official Sina Weibo microblogging site.

"The remaining 21 people, after receiving criticism and education and repenting for their mistakes, were released at 11pm on 3 July," the government said on Wednesday.

The government took the uncommon step on Tuesday night of cancelling the metals project planned by Shanghai-listed Sichuan Hongda. The city initially had said it would only suspend the project.

The latest protest underscores how environmental worries have stoked calls for expanded rights for citizens and greater consultation in the tightly controlled one-party state. They follow similar demonstrations against projects in the cities of Dalian in the north-east and Haimen in southern Guangdong province in the past year.

Pictured: Protests in Shifang highlighted growing concerns over the environmental impact of industrial development. Photograph: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

Filed under china asia mining protests Environment

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Japan, Norway and allies vote down South Atlantic whale sanctuary
An idea raised by several South American countries to create a haven for whales in the South Atlantic was shot down Monday at the International Whaling Commission.
Though little whaling takes place in the zone, the plan was rejected by Japan, China, Norway, Russia and Iceland, plus several smaller countries that environmentalists accuse of pandering to Japan to keep aid.
"You can’t really believe that Nauru or Tuvalu has an interest or has studied the sanctuary. They are voting because Japan tells them to," Jose Truda Palazzo, who spearheaded the proposal and now works at the Cetacean Conservation Center in Brazil, told the Agence France-Presse.
Japan and its allies contended that the move was simply unnecessary. The protected zone would have spanned the waters between South America and Africa south of the equator, touching the edges of an existing sanctuary in the Antarctic. If approved, it would have been the third active sanctuary created by the international commission since its founding, covering breeding grounds for all large whales in the South Atlantic. Activists argued that it would create a seamless safe zone for migrating whales.
The South Atlantic sanctuary was first suggested in 1999 but has been repeatedly blocked by whaling countries. Japan led other countries in a walkout over the proposed sanctuary last year, leaving the International Whaling Commission short of the quorum needed to even hold a vote.
Under commission rules, three-fourths of the countries represented in it had to agree to create the sanctuary. Thirty-nine voted in favor, but 21 votes against and two abstained.
The commission vote, taken at its annual meeting in Panama City, frustrated environmental groups.
Pictured: A Franca Austral whale is spotted in the New Gulf near Puerto Piramides in Argentina in 2006. Credit: Juan Mabromata / Agence France-Presse

Japan, Norway and allies vote down South Atlantic whale sanctuary

An idea raised by several South American countries to create a haven for whales in the South Atlantic was shot down Monday at the International Whaling Commission.

Though little whaling takes place in the zone, the plan was rejected by Japan, China, Norway, Russia and Iceland, plus several smaller countries that environmentalists accuse of pandering to Japan to keep aid.

"You can’t really believe that Nauru or Tuvalu has an interest or has studied the sanctuary. They are voting because Japan tells them to," Jose Truda Palazzo, who spearheaded the proposal and now works at the Cetacean Conservation Center in Brazil, told the Agence France-Presse.

Japan and its allies contended that the move was simply unnecessary. The protected zone would have spanned the waters between South America and Africa south of the equator, touching the edges of an existing sanctuary in the Antarctic. If approved, it would have been the third active sanctuary created by the international commission since its founding, covering breeding grounds for all large whales in the South Atlantic. Activists argued that it would create a seamless safe zone for migrating whales.

The South Atlantic sanctuary was first suggested in 1999 but has been repeatedly blocked by whaling countries. Japan led other countries in a walkout over the proposed sanctuary last year, leaving the International Whaling Commission short of the quorum needed to even hold a vote.

Under commission rules, three-fourths of the countries represented in it had to agree to create the sanctuary. Thirty-nine voted in favor, but 21 votes against and two abstained.

The commission vote, taken at its annual meeting in Panama City, frustrated environmental groups.

Pictured: A Franca Austral whale is spotted in the New Gulf near Puerto Piramides in Argentina in 2006. Credit: Juan Mabromata / Agence France-Presse

Filed under japan norway china russia iceland south atlantic Environment

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China hires tens of thousands of North Korea guest workers
Because of sanctions, North Korea is unable to export weapons. So it is using its people to raise money. Most of their earnings will go directly to the North Korean regime
SEOUL — China is quietly inviting tens of thousands of North Korean guest workers into the country in a deal that will provide a cash infusion to help prop up a teetering regime with little more to export than the drudgery of a desperately poor population.The deal, which has not been publicly announced by either Beijing or Pyongyang, would allow about 40,000 seamstresses, technicians, mechanics, construction workers and miners to work in China on industrial training visas, businesspeople and Korea analysts say. Most of the workers’ earnings will go directly to the communist North Korean regime."The North Koreans can’t export weapons anymore because of [international] sanctions, so they are using their people to raise cash," said Sohn Kyang-ju, a former South Korean intelligence official who now heads the Seoul-based NK Daily Unification Strategy Institute.Although migrants from North Korea, as well as Vietnam, Myanmar and the Philippines, have worked illegally in China for years, it is unprecedented for Beijing to issue visas for unskilled and semi-skilled workers, several labor experts in China said. The deal, which provides workers for a region where China suffers no labor shortages, underscores how far Beijing is willing to go to support its potentially unstable protege.Longtime leader Kim Jong Il died last year and was replaced by his son Kim Jong Un, who is in his late 20s."My gut feeling is that this is the beginning of a larger wave of North Korean workers coming in. It could be quite significant," said John Park, an academic who has written widely on North Korean-Chinese relations. "It will allow the North Koreans to piggyback on China’s economic success to jump-start the economy under the new leadership.”Over the years, North Korea has exported smaller numbers of workers to far eastern Russia, where they work in logging and mining, as well as to Libya, Bulgaria, Saudi Arabia and Angola. Hundreds of young North Korean women used to work in garment and shoe factories in the Czech Republic, but their contracts were canceled because of European human rights activists’ concern that they were virtually slave laborers.The first North Korean workers under China’s new program arrived a few months ago in Tumen, a sleepy town hugging the North Korean border."They are already here," said a Tumen-based businessman, who asked not to be quoted by name. He said he knew of 140 North Koreans who were working in an underwear factory in town.
 
 
Pictured: Hundreds of young North Korean women used to work in garment and shoe factories in the Czech Republic, but their contracts were canceled because of concerns by European human rights activists that they were virtually slave laborers. (Ludvik Hradilek, For The Times / July 1, 2012) 

China hires tens of thousands of North Korea guest workers

Because of sanctions, North Korea is unable to export weapons. So it is using its people to raise money. Most of their earnings will go directly to the North Korean regime

SEOULChina is quietly inviting tens of thousands of North Korean guest workers into the country in a deal that will provide a cash infusion to help prop up a teetering regime with little more to export than the drudgery of a desperately poor population.

The deal, which has not been publicly announced by either Beijing or Pyongyang, would allow about 40,000 seamstresses, technicians, mechanics, construction workers and miners to work in China on industrial training visas, businesspeople and Korea analysts say. Most of the workers’ earnings will go directly to the communist North Korean regime.

"The North Koreans can’t export weapons anymore because of [international] sanctions, so they are using their people to raise cash," said Sohn Kyang-ju, a former South Korean intelligence official who now heads the Seoul-based NK Daily Unification Strategy Institute.

Although migrants from North Korea, as well as Vietnam, Myanmar and the Philippines, have worked illegally in China for years, it is unprecedented for Beijing to issue visas for unskilled and semi-skilled workers, several labor experts in China said. The deal, which provides workers for a region where China suffers no labor shortages, underscores how far Beijing is willing to go to support its potentially unstable protege.

Longtime leader Kim Jong Il died last year and was replaced by his son Kim Jong Un, who is in his late 20s.

"My gut feeling is that this is the beginning of a larger wave of North Korean workers coming in. It could be quite significant," said John Park, an academic who has written widely on North Korean-Chinese relations. "It will allow the North Koreans to piggyback on China’s economic success to jump-start the economy under the new leadership.”

Over the years, North Korea has exported smaller numbers of workers to far eastern Russia, where they work in logging and mining, as well as to Libya, Bulgaria, Saudi Arabia and Angola. Hundreds of young North Korean women used to work in garment and shoe factories in the Czech Republic, but their contracts were canceled because of European human rights activists’ concern that they were virtually slave laborers.

The first North Korean workers under China’s new program arrived a few months ago in Tumen, a sleepy town hugging the North Korean border.

"They are already here," said a Tumen-based businessman, who asked not to be quoted by name. He said he knew of 140 North Koreans who were working in an underwear factory in town.
 
 
Pictured: Hundreds of young North Korean women used to work in garment and shoe factories in the Czech Republic, but their contracts were canceled because of concerns by European human rights activists that they were virtually slave laborers. (Ludvik Hradilek, For The Times / July 1, 2012) 

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Chinese migrant workers riot in Guangdong
Migrant factory workers from Sichuan clash with police as social tensions boil over in prosperous southern province
Hundreds of Chinese migrant workers rioted and clashed with police this week in a fresh outbreak of social unrest in the economic powerhouse of Guangdong.The southern province, one of China's major coastal manufacturing zones, is home to a large population of migrant factory workers drawn from across China.But in recent years, perceived discrimination and abuse by authorities have triggered strikes, clashes and riots.
The latest clashes took place in Shaxi township, near the city of Zhongshan, involving about 300 migrants who hurled rocks after a fight between a 15-year-old migrant and a student, according to a government spokeswoman from Shaxi.
Security personnel intervened and beat the young migrant, infuriating a group of relatives and others migrants who rioted, the Global Times newspaper reported.About 30 people were injured and the rioters – mostly from Sichuan province in the south-west – smashed and overturned at least two public security vehicles, the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said.
"Right now, there are a few migrants around but mostly as spectators," the Shaxi spokeswoman told Reuters.
"The protest has essentially been dispersed. There are a few police vehicles left, and some spectators are still around observing."
Last June, thousands of migrant workers, also largely hailing from Sichuan, rioted and clashed with police in the Guangdong city of Zengcheng, torching cars and ransacking government buildings, in a protest over the rough treatment of a pregnant street hawker.
Pictured:Migrant workers in Beijing return home for Chinese New Year. Incidents of social unrest and hostility are growing between migrant workers and many local authorities. Photograph: Dan Chung/Guardian

Chinese migrant workers riot in Guangdong

Migrant factory workers from Sichuan clash with police as social tensions boil over in prosperous southern province

Hundreds of Chinese migrant workers rioted and clashed with police this week in a fresh outbreak of social unrest in the economic powerhouse of Guangdong.

The southern province, one of China's major coastal manufacturing zones, is home to a large population of migrant factory workers drawn from across China.

But in recent years, perceived discrimination and abuse by authorities have triggered strikes, clashes and riots.

The latest clashes took place in Shaxi township, near the city of Zhongshan, involving about 300 migrants who hurled rocks after a fight between a 15-year-old migrant and a student, according to a government spokeswoman from Shaxi.

Security personnel intervened and beat the young migrant, infuriating a group of relatives and others migrants who rioted, the Global Times newspaper reported.

About 30 people were injured and the rioters – mostly from Sichuan province in the south-west – smashed and overturned at least two public security vehicles, the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said.

"Right now, there are a few migrants around but mostly as spectators," the Shaxi spokeswoman told Reuters.

"The protest has essentially been dispersed. There are a few police vehicles left, and some spectators are still around observing."

Last June, thousands of migrant workers, also largely hailing from Sichuan, rioted and clashed with police in the Guangdong city of Zengcheng, torching cars and ransacking government buildings, in a protest over the rough treatment of a pregnant street hawker.

Pictured:Migrant workers in Beijing return home for Chinese New Year. Incidents of social unrest and hostility are growing between migrant workers and many local authorities. Photograph: Dan Chung/Guardian

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