#AceNewsReport – July.30: Barely 48 hours before the arrival in China of one of Biden’s most-trusted diplomats, Beijing has announced its decision to impose counter-sanctions on seven American citizens and entities, including former commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, in retaliation against Washington’s earlier sanctions on Chinese officials over Hong Kong crackdowns….
On July 13, 2021, the U.S. Department of State, alongside the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and the U.S. Department of Labor issued an updated Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory to highlight the heightened risks for businesses with supply chain and investment links to Xinjiang, given the entities complicit in forced labor and other human rights abuses there and throughout China. This updates the original Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory issued by U.S. government agencies on July 1, 2020.
It is not the first time Washington and Beijing have imposed mutual sanctions, but the latest round marks the first time China has done so using its new anti-foreign sanction law, which was passed in June.
Others affected in Beijing’s “reciprocal counter-sanctions” are the current or former heads of a range of US organisations, including the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute, Human Rights Watch (HRW), and the Washington-based Hong Kong Democracy Council.
In response to Beijing’s counter sanctions, one of the affected US citizens, HRW’s China director Sophie Richardson tweeted, sarcastically: “thanks, for the extra motivation!” She added in another tweet, in reply to Jo Smith Finley, a British Xinjiang expert who was sanctioned by Beijing in March: “Seriously: so much work to do! And this ain’t about us.”
Since the enactment of the anti-foreign sanctions law last month, Beijing’s decision to impose counter-sanctions has been expected, but the timing of it is indicative of the deteriorating US-China relations. It also comes just less than 48 hours before US deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman’s China visit on Sunday.
“Washington has reiterated that Sherman’s visit and talk with the Chinese side will be from ‘a position of strength’, but Beijing may want to remind [the Biden administration] that they are equals,” said Ma Ji, a senior CV Starr lecturer at Peking University’s school of transnational law.
Ma added: “Of course, none of those targeted are in Biden’s inner circle, which means that Beijing still wants to continue the conversation with Washington. But by issuing this list shortly before Sherman’s visit, Beijing clearly intends to reduce her expectations.”
#AceNewsReport – July.30: Hong Kong activist Tong Ying-kit has been jailed for nine years, after he became the first person to be convicted under the national security law Beijing imposed on the city.
#AceDailyNews says …Hong Kong Press reports that Activist Tong Ying-kit was jailed for 9 years in H.K’s first national security case after Tong drove a motorcycle with a flag reading “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” into three police officers during a 2020 demo and with trials now being held in secret and without a jury: The law also allows for judges to be handpicked by Hong Kong’s chief executive, who is directly answerable to Beijing.
ZUMA Press Inc / AlamyTong Ying-kit was found guilty of inciting secession and terrorism….
by Kelly Ho: 30 July 2021Tong drove a motorcycle with a flag reading “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” into three police officers during a 2020 demo.
On Friday, in a landmark sentencing for the city four days after he was found guilty of inciting secession and terrorist activities, 24-year-old Tong was handed the custodial jail term by the the High Court. His sentencing marks the end of Hong Kong’s first-ever trial under the sweeping security legislation which was enacted on June 30 last year.
Tong Ying-kit, whose flag bore the phrase “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times”, was earlier found guilty of inciting secession and terrorism.
He was the first person to be charged under Hong Kong’s controversial national security law.
Friday’s verdict has set the tone for how future cases might be interpreted.
More than 100 people have been arrested since the law came into force in 2020.
Critics say it reduces Hong Kong’s autonomy and makes it easier to punish activists. But Beijing insists that the law is needed to bring stability to the city.
“We consider that this overall term should sufficiently reflect the defendant’s culpability in the two offences and the abhorrence of society, at the same time, achieving the deterrent effect required,” the judges who presided over the case said in a written judgement, according to Reuters.
Tong’s conviction for secession was because of the slogan on his flag, with police adding that he was guilty of terrorist activities as his actions were a “deliberate challenge against the police”.
Why is the protest slogan so sensitive?
Part of Tong’s 15-day trial focused on the meaning of the “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” slogan, which was popular during pro-democracy protests.
The prosecution argued that the phrase literally called for Hong Kong’s independence from the mainland, while the defence said its meaning was more ambiguous.
In the end the judge ruled that the phrase was capable of inciting others to commit “secession” and found Tong guilty.
Hong Kong human rights lawyer Mark Daly told the BBC that he felt the sentence was “unreasonably long”, as dangerous driving offences usually result in jail sentences of only a few years in Hong Kong.
The “massive mark-up” to nine years was because of the political slogan, he said. “The casualty here is freedom of expression.”
But Andrew Powner, managing partner of Hong Kong law firm, Haldanes, felt the sentence was within guidelines for the national security law, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment for grave offences.
The fact that Tong got nine years showed the judges felt his offence was on a “lesser scale” since it did not result in serious injuries but was still “an affront to law and order in Hong Kong”, he told the BBC.
‘Hang in there!’
Grace Tsoi, BBC News, from the court: The people were present in court to hear the sentencing. Tong, dressed in a navy suit, made a heart shape with his fingers to his family from the dock. The judge said that although Tong – who was the main breadwinner of his family – was “previously of good character”, it was not enough to mitigate the “serious offences”.
When the sentencing was read out, Tong remained expressionless, but his family was in tears,While being led out of the dock, he shouted: “You should hang in there!” to his family. At least a dozen police officers were stationed at a nearby shopping centre, where a crowd was waiting for Tong’s prison van to emerge.Why is the national security law controversial?
A former British colony, Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 but under the “one country, two systems” principle.This was supposed to guarantee certain freedoms for the territory – including freedom of assembly and speech, an independent judiciary and some democratic rights – which mainland China does not have.These freedoms are enshrined in Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, which was meant to last until 2047.
But in June last year, Beijing passed the national security law – which lawyers and legal experts said would fundamentally change the territory’s legal system.
Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific regional director Yamini Mishra said Tong’s sentencing showed the law was “not merely a tool to instil terror into government critics… it is a weapon that will be used to incarcerate them”.
#AceNewsReport – July.29: The index has now plummeted by more than 45% since hitting a record high in February: The slump comes after a series of crackdowns by Beijing on its technology and education industries.
#AceDailyNews says that China stocks see biggest slump in US since 2008 financial crisis in The Nasdaq Golden Dragon China Index, which follows the 98 biggest US-listed Chinese stocks, has fallen by almost 15% in the last two trading sessions according to BBC Business News
This has led to around $770bn (£556bn) being wiped off the value of US-listed Chinese stocks in the last five months alone: The latest blow came as Beijing unveiled a massive overhaul of China’s $120bn private tutoring sector, under which all institutions offering tuition on school curricula will be registered as non-profit organisations.
The new rules also said: “Curriculum subject-tutoring institutions are not allowed to go public for financing; listed companies should not invest in the institutions, and foreign capital is barred from such institutions.”
That pushed down the stock market value of private education firms in the US, Hong Kong and mainland China.
Chinese authorities are also cracking down on a wide range of online services from food delivery apps to music streaming platforms.
On Monday, China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) issued new rules aimed at improving the employment conditions of delivery workers.
The SAMR called for delivery workers to be paid at least the minimum wage, have their workload eased, and be given better training.
Meituan, which runs one of China’s biggest food delivery apps, saw its shares lose a record 17.6% on Tuesday in Hong Kong trade, on top of a 14% slide the previous day.
Shares in Tencent fell by another 9% on Tuesday in Hong Kong after China ordered the technology giant to end exclusive music licensing deals with major record labels around the world.
Regulators said the move was aimed at tackling the company’s dominance of online music streaming in the country.
And earlier this year, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba accepted a record $2.8bn fine after an official investigation found that it had abused its market position for years.
#AceNewsReport – July.29: He was found guilty of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” – a charge often used against activists….
#AceNewsDesk says that outspoken billionaire Sun Dawu 67 jailed for 18 years in China and runs one of the country’s largest private agricultural businesses in the northern province of Hebei but has in the past spoken out about human rights and politically sensitive topics.
Other charges against him include illegally occupying farmland, assembling a crowd to attack state agencies and obstructing government workers from performing their duties. He was also fined 3.11 million yuan ($478,697; £343,227).
Sun’s company is among China’s biggest, with businesses ranging from meat processing and pet food to schools and hospitals.
He was reportedly detained last year, along with 20 relatives and business associates, over a land dispute with a government-run farm.
At the time, he said dozens of his employees were injured in an incident with police related to the dispute, according to an AFP report.
Sun is said to be close to some prominent Chinese political dissidents and has in the past criticised the government’s rural policies.
He was one of the few people to openly accuse the government of covering up an African swine flu outbreak, which affected his farms in 2019, and later devastated much of the country’s industry.
He also was sentenced to prison in 2003, for “illegal fundraising” but the case was overturned after an outpouring of support from activists and the public.
Sun reportedly denied many of the accusations against him in a pre-trial hearing, describing himself as an “outstanding Communist party member”.
He did however reportedly admit to making mistakes, including posting messages online.
“The way they’re investigating me now is making those close to us suffer and those who hate us rejoice. I wish to take the charges upon myself, even if they’re severe, in exchange for the release of others. We are people who have made contributions to society,” he said.
China has been cracking down on businesses and entrepreneurs in the country. Major technology companies including Alibaba, Didi and Tencent are being investigated for a range of regulatory issues.
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#AceNewsReport – July.28: US defence officials have expressed concern about China’s nuclear build-up: It is the second new silo field reported to be under construction in western China in the last two months.
#AceNewsDesk says according to BBC Asia …China is building a nuclear missile silo field, scientists say Satellite images from Xinjiang province suggest the site could house about 110 silos when it is finished, says the report from the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).
The FAS said in its report on Monday that the new site at Hami, about 380 km (240 miles) north-west of Yumen, was at a much earlier stage of development.
In 2020 the Pentagon said China was set to double its stockpile of nuclear warheads, from a low base.
The news comes as the US and Russia prepare for arms control talks.
The talks, between US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, are being seen as a first step towards reviving stalled negotiations on reducing nuclear arms.
But China has so far not taken part in arms control negotiations.
#AceNewsReport – July.24: This is one of an estimated 240 cells in just one section of Urumqi Number 3 detention centre in Dabancheng, seen by Associated Press journalists granted extraordinary access during a state-led tour to China’s far-west Xinjiang region.
CHINA: The Uyghur inmates sat in uniform rows with their legs crossed in lotus position and their backs ramrod straight, numbered and tagged, gazing at a television playing grainy black-and-white images of Chinese Communist Party history.
The detention centre is the largest in the country and possibly the world, with a complex that sprawls over 220 acres, making it twice as large as Vatican City.
A sign at the front identified it as a “kanshousuo”, a pre-trial detention facility.
Chinese officials declined to say how many inmates were there, saying the number varied.
But the AP estimated the centre could hold roughly 10,000 people and many more if crowded, based on satellite imagery and the cells and benches seen during the tour.
This site suggests that China still holds and plans to hold vast numbers of Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities in detention.
Satellite imagery shows that new buildings almost 1.6 kilometres long were added to the Dabancheng detention facility in 2019.
China has described its sweeping lockup of a million or more minorities over the past four years as a “war against terror,” after a series of knifings and bombings by a small number of extremist Uyghurs native to Xinjiang.
Among its most controversial aspects were the so-called vocational “training centres” – described by former detainees as brutal internment camps surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards.
But the AP’s visit to Dabancheng, satellite imagery and interviews with experts and former detainees suggest that while many “training centres” were indeed closed, some like this one were simply converted into prisons or pre-trial detention facilities.
A new 85-acre centre has been built down the road from Number 3 in Dabancheng, satellite imagery shows.
The changes seem to be an attempt to move from the makeshift and extrajudicial “training centres” into a more permanent system of prisons and pre-trial detention facilities justified under the law.
However, researchers say many innocent people were often thrown in detention for things like going abroad or attending religious gatherings.
Darren Byler, an anthropologist studying the Uyghur people at the University of Colorado, noted that many prisoners have not committed “real crimes by any standards”, and that they go through a “show” trial without due process.
“We’re moving from a police state to a mass incarceration state. Hundreds of thousands of people have disappeared from the population,” Mr Byler said.
“It’s the criminalisation of normal behaviour.”
During the April tour of Number 3 in Dabancheng, officials repeatedly distanced it from the “training centres” that Beijing claimed to have closed.
“There was no connection between our detention centre and the training centres,” Urumqi Public Security Bureau director Zhao Zhongwei said.
They also said the Number 3 centre was proof of China’s commitment to rehabilitation and the rule of law, with inmates provided with hot meals, exercise, access to legal counsel and televised classes lecturing them on their crimes.
Officials said rights were protected and only lawbreakers needed to worry about detention.
“See, the BBC report said this was a re-education camp. It’s not — it’s a detention centre,” Liu Chang, an official with the foreign ministry, said.
However, there is some evidence that Number 3 was indeed an internment camp.
A Reuters picture of the entrance in September 2018 shows the facility used to be called the Urumqi Vocational Skills Education and Training Centre.
Publicly available documents collected by Shawn Zhang, a law student in Canada, confirm a centre by the same name was commissioned to be built at the same location in 2017.
Records also show that Chinese conglomerate Hengfeng Information Technology won an $US11 million ($14.9 million) contract for outfitting the Urumqi “training centre”.
A man who answered a phone number for Hengfeng confirmed the company had taken part in the construction of the “training centre”, but Hengfeng did not respond to further requests for comment.
A former construction contractor who visited the Dabancheng facility in 2018 told the AP that it was the same as the Urumqi Vocational Skills Education and Training Centre, and had been converted to a detention facility in 2019, with the nameplate switched.
He declined to be named for fear of retaliation against his family.
“All the former students inside became prisoners,” he said.
The vast complex is ringed by 7.6-metre blue concrete walls, watchtowers, and humming electric wire.
China claims measures are a ‘war against terror’
Officials led AP journalists through the main entrance, past face-scanning turnstiles and rifle-toting guards in military camouflage.
In one corner of the compound, masked inmates sat in rigid formation. Most appeared to be Uyghur. Zhu Hongbin, the centre’s director, rapped on one of the cell’s windows.
“They’re totally unbreakable,” he said, his voice muffled beneath head-to-toe medical gear.
At the control room, staff gazed at a wall-to-wall, God’s-eye display of some two dozen screens streaming footage from each cell.
Guidelines hanging on the wall instruct staff on the proper protocol to deal with sick inmates – and also to force-feed inmates on hunger strikes by inserting tubes up their noses.
Mr Zhao, the other official, said inmates were held for up to one year before trial depending on their suspected crime, and the legal process was the same as in the rest of China.
He said the centre was built to house inmates away from the city because of safety concerns.
Urumqi Number 3 detention centre is comparable in size to Rikers Island in New York City, but the region serves less than four million people compared to nearly 20 million for Rikers.
At least three other detention centres are sprinkled across Urumqi, along with ten or more prisons.
The Number 3 centre did not appear to be at full capacity; one section was closed, officials said, and six to ten inmates sat in each cell, taking up only half the benches.
But the latest official government statistics available, for 2019, show that there were about twice as many arrests in Xinjiang than before the crackdown started in 2017.
Hundreds of thousands have been sentenced to prison, many to terms of five years or more.
Xu Guixiang, a Xinjiang spokesperson, called the higher incarceration rates “severe measures” in the “war against terror”.
“Of course, during this process, the number of people sentenced in accordance with the law will increase,” he said.
“This is a concrete indication of our work efficiency.
“By taking these measures, terrorists are more likely to be brought to justice.”
Claims inmates tortured with electric batons
Many relatives of those imprisoned say they were sentenced on spurious charges, and experts caution that the opacity of the Xinjiang legal system is a red flag.
Although China makes legal records easily accessible otherwise, almost 90 per cent of criminal records in Xinjiang are not public.
The handful that have leaked showed some were charged with “terrorism” or “separatism” for acts like warning colleagues against watching porn and swearing, or praying in prison.
Researcher Gene Bunin found that Uyghurs were made to sign confessions for what the authorities called “terrorist activities”.
Some were subsequently released, including one detained in the Dabancheng facility, a relative told the AP, declining to be named to avoid retribution against the former detainee.
Others were not.
Police reports obtained by The Intercept detail the case of eight Uyghurs in one Urumqi neighbourhood detained in the Dabancheng facility in 2017 for reading religious texts, installing filesharing applications, or simply being an “untrustworthy person”.
In late 2018, the reports show, prosecutors summoned them to makeshift meetings and sentenced them to between two and five years of “study”.
#AceHealthReport – July.23: He dismissed the lab leak idea as a rumour that runs counter to common sense and science….
#AceHealthDesk says WHO’s plan to probe Wuhan lab leak theory ‘impossible’ for China to accept, says Chinese health official ………Zeng Yixin, the vice-minister of the National Health Commission, said on Thursday he was “rather taken aback” that the plan includes further investigation of the theory that the virus might have leaked from a Chinese lab.
“It is impossible for us to accept such an origin-tracing plan,” he said at a news conference called to address the COVID-19 origins issue.
The search for where the virus came from has become a diplomatic issue that has fuelled China’s deteriorating relations with the US and many American allies.
The US and others say that China has not been transparent about what happened in the early days of the pandemic.
China accuses critics of seeking to blame it for the pandemic and politicising an issue that should be left to scientists.
#AceHealthReport – July.21: The veterinarian, 53, suffered severe nausea and a fever two months after dissecting two monkeys at a breeding research institute in Beijing and died on May 27, according to the Washington Post……
#AceDailyNewssays China first human case of Monkey B virus after veterinarian’s death who has become the first person in the country to contract and die of the extremely rare virus according to Chinese officials who said last weekend, according to reports
The Monkey B virus, also known as the Herpes B virus, usually comes from contact with a macaque monkey and can cause severe brain damage or death, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The virus attacks the central nervous system and has about an 80% fatality rate if untreated, the Post reported, citing infectious disease expert Kentaro Iwata of Japan’s Kobe University.
The CDC says there is only one documented case of the virus spreading from person to person.
A U.S. resident who had visited Nigeria was diagnosed with monkeypox last week after returning to Texas, according to the CDC.
Monkeypox is a completely different virus – it causes flu-like symptoms and a rash and is linked to smallpox – but both viruses can be contracted through contact with animals.
After the Chinese veterinarian’s blood and saliva samples tested positive for Monkey B virus, two of his colleagues tested negative, according to the Post.
The virus was first detected in 1932 and since there have been fewer than 100 diagnosed human cases, the newspaper reported.
American primate researcher Elizabeth R. Griffin died in 1997 at 22 years old six weeks after a macaque monkey threw infected liquid into her eye. Griffin’s infection was preventable and her diagnosis and treatment were delayed, her biography on the Elizabeth R. Griffin Research Foundation’s website says.
Her family later founded the organization in her honor, which focuses on prevention through biosafety training.
Chinese health authorities said it’s necessary to “strengthen surveillance in laboratory macaques and occupational workers,” the Post reported.
Tuesday, 20 July 2021 6:23 AM [ Last Update: Tuesday, 20 July 2021 9:46 AM ]
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian hit back at Washington on Tuesday, calling the US the “world champion” of cyber-attacks.
“The US has mustered its allies to carry out unreasonable criticisms against China on the issue of cybersecurity,” he said. “This move is fabricated out of nothing.”
In a coordinated move, Washington and several allies in Europe and Asia publicly accused Beijing of hacking the Microsoft Exchange Server software in March. Microsoft Exchange is an email platform used by corporations around the world.
Senior US officials claimed that hackers tied to China’s Ministry of State Security carried out the unusually indiscriminate hacking. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that Washington and “countries around the world” are holding China “accountable for its pattern of irresponsible, disruptive, and destabilizing behavior in cyberspace, which poses a major threat to our economic and national security.”
Japanese government spokesperson Katsunobu Kato followed suit on Tuesday, saying that Japanese companies had been targeted by a hacking group called APT40. He alleged that “the Chinese government is highly likely” behind the attack.
Earlier, China’s diplomatic missions around the world reacted to the charges.
The Chinese Embassy in New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, said the accusations were “totally groundless and irresponsible” and a “malicious smear.”
“Given the virtual nature of cyberspace, one must have clear evidence when investigating and identifying cyber-related incidents,” said the embassy.
The Chinese mission in Canberra said Australia was “parroting” US rhetoric. It also described the US as “the world champion of malicious cyber-attacks.”
The United Kingdom (UK) and European Union (EU) also joined the others in accusing China of carrying out hacking attacks, which they alleged to have targeted an estimated hundreds of thousands of mostly small businesses and organizations.
The Chinese Embassy in Norway also reacted to the allegations made by Oslo, saying that Beijing was a staunch defender of cyber security and was resolutely opposed to any form of cyberattacks.
“It is reasonable to question and doubt whether this is a collusively political manipulation,” it said, demanding that Oslo provide evidence for the claims. The embassy said that Beijing was “willing to cooperate with all relevant parties, based on facts and evidence, to jointly combat illegal activities in cyber space.”
The US-led global campaign against China is an apparent move to open a new front in cyber offensive following years of blaming Russia for cyberattacks against American organizations. Moscow time and again denied involvement.
#AceNewsReport – July.18: The Chinese leadership has set out to replace the international rules bases order, a former US intelligence analyst has warned. Nicholas Eftimiades, an expert on China, has warned that Xi Jinping’s regime believes western democracy has “failed.” He argued that China intends to establish the Chinese Communist Party regime as an alternative model of governance for the rest of the World.
#AceDailyNews says that Mr Eftimiades told Express.co.uk: “China has said itself that its goals and intentions are to change the world order and targets overthrow of global order as expert warns of ‘brutal authoritarianism’ rise
China accused of looking to impose own vision on the global order
“To change from this liberal democratic rule by law to something that is more amenable to its system.
“They are not you know covert about this or secretive in any way, they say this is their plans and intentions.
“It is a different perspective and they say that Western democracy has failed, this is why we would replace it.”
Former CIA officer Nicholas Eftimiades discusses the ‘brutal authoritarianism rising’ in China
China accused of looking to impose own vision on the global order (Image: GETTY)
“From our perspective looking at them, it is a more authoritarian structure.
“Government rules, freedoms are cut but they get things done,” continued the security expert.
“No one can argue I mean look at the building they have done in 20 years.
“Extraordinary building in China an extraordinary power base.
“Most people and politicians don’t see this as an immediate threat.
“Certainly not an immediate through over the next year or two.
“So it is hard to put this in the context of a strategic threat the way we in the West are used to defining it.
He added: “What does it mean when you have a brutal brutal authoritarian regime rising and people are still eager and willing to try to bury and ignore that to do business with them?”
#AceNewsReport – July.17: Treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province. Khan, a fierce critic of Islamophobia, said China’s version of bringing “improvement in the society” was much better than the model followed by the western democracies. He, in fact, hailed the Chinese Communist Party for it.
#AceDailyNews says that China invests $1.3 trillion & Counting: The Cost That Keeps Muslim Countries Quiet on China’s Uyghur Genocide,” by Santosh Chaubey, News18, July 8, 2021: after China has been calling the mass detention camps where Uyghur and other ethnic minorities are transferred as “vocational education and training centers”
However, the US, the European Union and the United Nations have called these centres as detention camps, which has almost two million Uyghur Muslims, according to different research reports, and accuse China of committing genocide and forcefully assimilating Uyghurs by banning its religious practices and restricting its population growth.
China is also accused of using forced sterilisation techniques on Uyghur women and separating Uyghur children from their families. They are forced to learn Mandarin and are kept away from practicing religious practices. Many investigative reports using satellite imagery have also found that China is destroying Uygur mosques.
Also, as detailed in many reports, China has been using Uyghurs Muslims as forced labour. Yet, the Pakistani PM and other Muslim countries laud this model.
In 2019, nearly 37 nations, in a letter sent to the UN Human Rights Council and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, defended the China’s Xinjiang policy. The letter charged the Uyghur Muslims with spreading terror and extremism and justified China’s actions as counter-terrorism measures aimed at deracializing Uyghur Muslims.
Notably, 16 of the 37 countries have large Muslim population, including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Turkmenistan, Oman, Qatar, Syria, Kuwait, Somalia and Sudan. The countries are also the members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), representing 1.9 billion Muslim people. That explains why even OIC is silent on the Uyghur genocide.
Malaysia in the past has defied requests to extradite Uyghurs back to China and promises to continue with the policy but the government there has seldom been vocal about the Uyghur genocide happening in China. Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad, again a ‘fierce’ Islamophobia critic, has avoided criticising China on the issue.
Turkey, that has around 50,000 Uyghurs from China has over the years, has changed its Uyghur policy to become pro-China. According to the Stockholm Center for Freedom, Turkey was a safe haven for Uyghur refugees in the past but not anymore. Though Turkey’s extradition treaty signed with China is awaiting a final approval, it has already started detaining Uyghurs and putting them under strict surveillance. It has allegedly started deporting Uyghur refugees to China via third countries like Tajikistan — a Muslim majority nation.
But why are these Islamic nations silent on China’s repression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang? It is perhaps due to Chinese investments and loans into those countries.
China has roughly invested $1.3 trillion in Muslim majority countries if we add up the investments done in the last 15 years and the current and future economic deals. Also, the calculation here does not include secret loans given by China which borrowers are forced not to reveal, obviously by a confidentiality clause, as shown in a study from Georgetown University….
#AceNewsReport – July.13: City authorities issued warnings to residents to stay home as the Chinese capital faced its biggest storm this year.
#AceDailyNews says BEIJING: Flights Cancelled, Schools Closed as Storm Shuts Down Capital: With as much as 100mm of rain is predicted through the day in some areas, and aviation tracker VariFlight recorded some 700 flights cancelled at the city’s two airports according to AFP
People wear raincoats as they ride electric scooters during a rainy day in Beijing, on July 12, 2021.PHOTO: REUTERS
Singapore Airlines Flight SQ801 from Beijing to Singapore experienced a slight delay, but none of its flights were cancelled. SIA only operates cargo flights to the destination, and Scoot does not fly to Beijing, according to a company statement.
China’s weather authorities warned of “extreme rainstorms” plus thunder and lightning from late Sunday to Monday evening in Beijing and neighbouring areas.
CHINA: With Swarms of Ships, Beijing Tightens Its Grip on South China Sea as their ships settled in like unwanted guests who wouldn’t leave to press other countries according to NY Times
Published April 3, 2021Updated May 3, 2021
As the days passed, more appeared. They were simply fishing boats, China said, though they did not appear to be fishing. Dozens even lashed themselves together in neat rows, seeking shelter, it was claimed, from storms that never came.
Not long ago, China asserted its claims on the South China Sea by building and fortifying artificial islands in waters also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia. Its strategy now is to reinforce those outposts by swarming the disputed waters with vessels, effectively defying the other countries to expel them.
The goal is to accomplish by overwhelming presence what it has been unable to do through diplomacy or international law. And to an extent, it appears to be working.
“Beijing pretty clearly thinks that if it uses enough coercion and pressure over a long enough period of time, it will squeeze the Southeast Asians out,” said Greg Poling, the director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, which tracks developments in the South China Sea. “It’s insidious.”
China’s actions reflect the country’s growing confidence under its leader, Xi Jinping. They could test the Biden administration, as well as Beijing’s neighbors in the South China Sea, who are increasingly dependent on China’s strong economy and supply of Covid-19 vaccines.
The latest incident has unfolded in recent weeks around Whitsun Reef, a boomerang-shaped feature that emerges above water only at low tide. At one point in March, 220 Chinese ships were reported to be anchored around the reef, prompting protests from Vietnam and the Philippines, which both have claims there, and from the United States.
The Philippine defense secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, called their presence “a clear provocation.” Vietnam’s foreign ministry accused China of violating the country’s sovereignty and demanded that the ships leave.
By this past week, some had left but many remained, according to satellite photographs taken by Maxar Technologies, a company based in Colorado. Others moved to another reef only a few miles away, while a new swarm of 45 Chinese ships was spotted 100 miles northeast at another island controlled by the Philippines, Thitu, according to the satellite photos and Philippine officials.
“The Chinese ambassador has a lot of explaining to do,” Mr. Lorenzana said in a statement on Saturday.
The buildup has inflamed tensions in a region that, along with Taiwan, threatens to become another flash point in the intensifying confrontationbetween China and the United States.
Although the United States has not taken a position on disputes in the South China Sea, it has criticized China’s aggressive tactics there, including the militarization of its bases. For years, the United States has sent Navy warships on routine patrols to challenge China’s asserted right to restrict any military activity there — three times just since President Biden took office in January.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken expressed support for the Philippines over the presence of the Chinese vessels. “We will always stand by our allies and stand up for the rules-based international order,” he wrote on Twitter.
The buildup has highlighted the further erosion of the Philippines’ control of the disputed waters, which could become a problem for the country’s president, Rodrigo Duterte.
The country’s defense department dispatched two aircraft and one ship to Whitsun Reef to document the buildup but did not otherwise intervene. It is not known whether Vietnamese forces responded.A satellite image over Whitsun Reef on March 23.Maxar TechnologiesA satellite image over Whitsun Reef on March 28.Maxar Technologies
Critics say China’s disregard for the Philippine claims reflects the failure of Mr. Duterte’s efforts to cozy up to the Communist Party leadership in Beijing.
“People need to hear from the commander in chief himself, a coward to China but a bully to his own people,” said Mr. Duterte’s staunchest political opponent, Senator Leila de Lima. Mr. Duterte has not publicly addressed the matter, though his spokesman suggested that quiet efforts to defuse the situation were underway.
China has brushed off the protests. A spokeswoman for the foreign ministry, Hua Chunying, said that Chinese fishermen “have been fishing in the waters near the reef all along.” Officials in the Philippines and experts said there was no evidence of that.
Whitsun Reef is part of an atoll known as Union Banks, about 175 nautical miles from Palawan, a Philippine island. The Philippines, China and Vietnam each claim that the atoll lies within their country’s exclusive economic zones, but only China and Vietnam have established a regular physical presence there, giving each a secure, if not legal, advantage in asserting control.
Vietnam has occupied four islets in the atoll since the 1970s, while China has built two outposts on previously submerged reefs as part of its program, underway since 2014, to dredge up seven artificial islands. Two of the outposts — Grierson Reef, occupied by Vietnam, and Hughes Reef, occupied by China — are less than three nautical miles apart.Filipino fishermen in 2016 near Scarborough Shoal, a reef that China and the Philippines both claim.Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
An international tribunal convened under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ruled in 2016 that China’s expansive claim to almost all of the South China Sea had no legal basis, though it stopped short of dividing the territory among its various claimants. China has based its claims on a “nine-dash line” drawn on maps before the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.
A Philippine patrol first reported the large number of ships at Whitsun Reef on March 7. According to Mr. Poling, satellite photographs have shown a regular, though smaller, Chinese presence over the past year at the reef.
By March 29, 45 ships remained at Whitsun, according to a statement on Wednesday by the National Task Force-West Philippines Sea, an agency that reports to the Philippine president’s office. The task force counted 254 ships as well as four Chinese warships that day in the Spratlys, an archipelago of more than 100 islands, cays and other outcroppings between the Philippines and Vietnam.
The task force said the 254 ships were not fishing vessels, as Beijing claimed, but part of China’s maritime militia, an ostensibly civilian forcethat has become an integral instrument of China’s new maritime strategy. Many of these boats, while unarmed, are operated by reservists or others who carry out the orders of the Coast Guard and People’s Liberation Army.
“They may be doing illicit activities at night and their lingering (swarming) presence may cause irreparable damage to the marine environment,” the task force’s statement said.Aboard a U.S. Navy reconnaissance plane in 2018 as it observed the buildup of islands by China in the South China Sea.Adam Dean for The New York Times
The presence of so many Chinese ships is meant to intimidate. “By having them there, and spreading them out across these expanses of water around the reefs the others occupy, or around oil and gas fields or fishing grounds, you are steadily pushing the Filipinos and the Vietnamese out,” Mr. Poling said.
“If you’re a Filipino fisherman, you’re always getting harassed by these guys,” he said. “They’re always maneuvering a little too close, blowing horns at you. At some point you just give up and stop fishing there.”
Patrols and statements aside, Mr. Duterte’s government does not seem eager to confront China. His spokesman, Harry Roque, echoed the Chinese claims that the ships were merely sheltering temporarily.
“We hope the weather clears up,” he said, “and in the spirit of friendship we are hoping that their vessels will leave the area.”
The Philippines has become increasingly dependent on Chinese trade and, as it fights the pandemic, largess.
On Monday, the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines arrived in Manila from China with great fanfare. As many as four million doses are scheduled to arrive by May, some of them donations. China’s ambassador, Huang Xilian, attended the vaccines’ arrival and later met with Mr. Duterte.
“China is encroaching on our maritime zone, but softening it by sending us vaccines,” said Antonio Carpio, an outspoken retired Supreme Court justice who is expert in the maritime dispute. “It’s part of their P.R. effort to soften the blow, but we should not fall for that.”
#AceNewsReport – June.30: China will use its space station to advance its military technology and strengthen its influence in foreign countries, experts and lawmakers warn the Washington Free Beacon.
WASHINGTON: Chinese Space Station a Military Threat to US, Experts Say that the space mission comes as the Chinese Communist Party celebrates its 100-year anniversary:
Last week, three Chinese astronauts successfully boarded an unfinished space station, the Tianhe, where they will stay for three months — the longest stay in low-Earth orbit by any Chinese national: The Tianhe is the due to be completed in 2022 and will be the only alternative to the two-decade-old, US-led International Space Station (ISS), which may be retired in 2024 and the project ushers in an expansion of China’s capabilities in space and a boost to its international prestige.
The station is home to numerous “dual use” technologies that have military applications that could threaten the United States. As China’s station eclipses the International Space Station in technological capabilities, developing countries may also be more enticed to collaborate with China’s space program.
China has exploited numerous high-tech ventures—included in its space program—to increase surveillance, data sharing, and corporate espionage. Sarah Mineiro, a board member at the Vandenberg Coalition and adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, told the Washington Free Beacon such technologies are cause for concern, and China’s growing space capabilities challenge American power in the ultimate high ground.
“The Chinese do not have a firewall between national security, defense, intelligence in space and civil space,” Mineiro said. “It’s a widely recognized fact that space is increasingly vulnerable. The advantages we derive from space—specifically the national security advantages we derive from space—have long been threatened.”
In 2018, the chief of the Chinese lunar exploration program compared the moon and Mars to contested islands in the South China Sea, which the Chinese military has long laid claim to.
Experts warned the space station is a step in the larger Chinese plan to establish a foothold in Earth’s orbit, and eventually on the moon. Rep. Mike Waltz (R., Fla.), a cofounder of the House Space Force Caucus, warned that impending budget constraints under the Biden administration and the growing strength of the Chinese space program could put America out of the game in coming years.
“The Chinese space program is on the rise, it’s young, new, vibrant and ascendant. Our program is stagnant and in some cases declining,” Waltz said. “I hope this administration will engage on the front end with these countries to help them understand what a devil’s bargain it will be to cooperate with the Chinese on their space station.”
The Biden administration did not return a request for comment.
Chinese officials have signaled they will use the space station to develop relationships with other nations. The strategy is similar to one that Beijing deployed during the coronavirus pandemic, as it provided its inferior vaccine to African, Latin American, and other Asian countries. China’s so-called Vaccine Diplomacy has pushed the United States to share doses of vaccines abroad.
“We should expect that as the Chinese build out their space station that we’re going to see them use it as a diplomatic tool,” said Dean Cheng, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
China invited United Nations member states in 2018 to use the space station for research. U.S. officials are also concerned that China is working closely with the Russian space program. In March, Russia and China agreed to begin working toward the construction of a joint moon base.
Brandon Weichert, a space security analyst and author of the 2020 book Winning Space, said China and Russia could surpass the United States in space during the coming decades, a threat that he said calls for strong leadership in the U.S. space industry.
“It could allow them to dominate the Earth-moon system along with the Chinese,” Weichert said of Russia. “We’re in a new space race, it’s going to be a national effort, and we need to plan and resource these longer-term missions.”
The Trump administration established the Space Force in 2019 to better protect American satellites from Russian and Chinese weaponry in space. Biden officials have acknowledged the possibility of Chinese aggression in orbit.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has deemed China a “pacing threat,” and NASA administrator Bill Nelson Said Wednesday he hopes to make the Wolf Amendment—a measure in place forbidding space cooperation with China—permanent due to Chinese space threats.
The administration’s focus, however, might not be sufficient. Beijing is mimicking many of the successful tactics of the U.S. space industry, including supporting its own cadre of private companies to advance the nation’s mission in space. With China’s technological developments advancing at breakneck speed, it is unclear that the United States can long retain its edge on the final frontier.
“In a lot of the areas of space it is not at all clear that they are far behind or even that much behind,” Cheng said. “We should be very careful about assuming they’re behind us.”
#AceHealthReport – June.26: More than 90 countries are using Covid shots from China: Experts say recent infections in those places should serve as a cautionary tale in the global effort to fight the disease.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – More Than 90 Countries Relied on Chinese Vaccines. Now They’re Battling Major Outbreaks after medical and delivery problems according to New York Times
By New York Times: June. 24, 2021
A funeral in Kudus, Indonesia, in May. Many of the countries that are experiencing fresh coronavirus outbreaks despite high inoculation rates relied on Chinese-made vaccines.
Mongolia promised its people a “Covid-free summer.” Bahrain said there would be a “return to normal life.” The tiny island nation of the Seychellesaimed to jump-start its economy.
But instead of freedom from the coronavirus, all three countries are now battling a surge in infections.
China kicked off its vaccine diplomacy campaign last year by pledging to provide a shot that would be safe and effective at preventing severe cases of Covid-19. Less certain at the time was how successful it and other vaccines would be at curbing transmission.
Now, examples from several countries suggest that the Chinese vaccines may not be very effective at preventing the spread of the virus, particularly the new variants. The experiences of those countries lay bare a harsh reality facing a postpandemic world: The degree of recovery may depend on which vaccines governments give to their people.
In the Seychelles, Chile, Bahrain and Mongolia, 50 to 68 percent of the populations have been fully inoculated, outpacing the United States, according to Our World in Data, a data tracking project. All four ranked among the top 10 countries with the worst Covid outbreaks as recently as last week, according to data from The New York Times. And all four are mostly using shots made by two Chinese vaccine makers, Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech.
“If the vaccines are sufficiently good, we should not see this pattern,” said Jin Dongyan, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong. “The Chinese have a responsibility to remedy this.”
A vaccination on Chiloé Island, Chile. In Chile, the Seychelles, Bahrain and Mongolia, 50 to 68 percent of the populations have been fully vaccinated.Credit…Alvaro Vidal/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Scientists don’t know for certain why some countries with relatively high inoculation rates are suffering new outbreaks. Variants, social controls that are eased too quickly and careless behavior after only the first of a two-shot regimen are possibilities. But the breakthrough infections could have lasting consequences.
In the United States, about 45 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, mostly with doses made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Cases have dropped 94 percent over six months.
Israel provided shots from Pfizer and has the second-highest vaccination rate in the world, after the Seychelles. The number of new daily confirmed Covid-19 cases per million in Israel is now around 4.95.
In the Seychelles, which relied mostly on Sinopharm, that number is more than 716 cases per million.
Disparities such as these could create a world in which three types of countries emerge from the pandemic — the wealthy nations that used their resources to secure Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna shots, the poorer countries that are far away from immunizing a majority of citizens, and then those that are fully inoculated but only partly protected.
China, as well as the more than 90 nations that have received the Chinese shots, may end up in the third group, contending with rolling lockdowns, testing and limits on day-to-day life for months or years to come. Economies could remain held back. And as more citizens question the efficacy of Chinese doses, persuading unvaccinated people to line up for shots may also become more difficult.
One month after receiving his second dose of Sinopharm, Otgonjargal Baatar fell ill and tested positive for Covid-19. Mr. Otgonjargal, a 31-year-old miner, spent nine days in a hospital in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. He said he was now questioning the usefulness of the shot.
“People were convinced that if we were vaccinated, the summer will be free of Covid,” he said. “Now it turns out that it’s not true.”
Beijing saw its vaccine diplomacy as an opportunity to emerge from the pandemic as a more influential global power. China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, pledged to deliver a Chinese shot that could be easily stored and transported to millions of people around the world. He called it a “global public good.”
Mongolia was a beneficiary, jumping at the chance to score millions of Sinopharm shots. The small country quickly rolled out an inoculation program and eased restrictions. It has now vaccinated 52 percent of its population. But on Sunday, it recorded 2,400 new infections, a quadrupling from a month before.
In a statement, China’s Foreign Ministry said it did not see a link between the recent outbreaks and its vaccines. It cited the World Health Organization as saying that vaccination rates in certain countries had not reached sufficient levels to prevent outbreaks, and that countries needed to continue to maintain controls.
“Relevant reports and data also show that many countries that use Chinese-made vaccines have expressed that they are safe and reliable, and have played a good role in their epidemic prevention efforts,” the ministry said. China has also emphasized that its vaccines target severe disease rather than transmission.
No vaccine fully prevents transmission, and people can still fall ill after being inoculated, but the relatively low efficacy rates of Chinese shots have been identified as a possible cause of the recent outbreaks.
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have efficacy rates of more than 90 percent. A variety of other vaccines — including AstraZenecaand Johnson & Johnson — have efficacy rates of around 70 percent. The Sinopharm vaccine developed with the Beijing Institute of Biological Products has an efficacy rate of 78.1 percent; the Sinovac vaccine has an efficacy rate of 51 percent.
The Chinese companies have not released much clinical data to show how their vaccines work at preventing transmission. On Monday, Shao Yiming, an epidemiologist with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said China needed to fully vaccinate 80 to 85 percent of its population to achieve herd immunity, revising a previous official estimate of 70 percent.
Data on breakthrough infections has not been made available, either, though a Sinovac study out of Chile showed that the vaccine was less effective than those from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna at preventing infection among vaccinated individuals.
A representative from Sinopharm hung up the phone when reached for comment. Sinovac did not respond to a request for comment.
William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University, said the efficacy rates of Chinese shots could be low enough “to sustain some transmission, as well as create illness of a substantial amount in the highly vaccinated population, even though it keeps people largely out of the hospital.”
Mongolia now ranks among the top countries that have fully vaccinated its population, inoculating about 52 percent of its people. But on Sunday, it recorded 2,400 new infections, quadrupling from a month before.Credit…Khasar Sandag for The New York Times
Despite the spike in cases, officials in both the Seychelles and Mongolia have defended Sinopharm, saying it is effective in preventing severe cases of the disease.
Batbayar Ochirbat, head researcher of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies at Mongolia’s Ministry of Health, said Mongolia had made the right decision to go with the Chinese-made shot, in part because it had helped keep the mortality rate low in the country. Data from Mongolia showed that the Sinopharm vaccine was actually more protective than the doses developed by AstraZeneca and Sputnik, a Russian vaccine, according to the Health Ministry.
The reason for the surge in Mongolia, Mr. Batbayar said, is that the country reopened too quickly, and many people believed they were protected after only one dose.
“I think you could say Mongolians celebrated too early,” he said. “My advice is the celebrations should start after the full vaccinations, so this is the lesson learned. There was too much confidence.”
Some health officials and scientists are less confident.
Nikolai Petrovsky, a professor at the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders University in Australia, said that with all of the evidence, it would be reasonable to assume the Sinopharm vaccine had minimal effect on curbing transmission. A major risk with the Chinese inoculation is that vaccinated people may have few or no symptoms and still spread the virus to others, he said.
“I think that this complexity has been lost on most decision makers around the world.”
In Indonesia, where a new variant is spreading, more than 350 doctors and health care workers recently came down with Covid-19 despite being fully vaccinated with Sinovac, according to the risk mitigation team of the Indonesian Medical Association. Across the country, 61 doctors died between February and June 7. Ten of them had taken the Chinese-made vaccine, the association said.
The numbers were enough to make Kenneth Mak, Singapore’s director of medical services, question the use of Sinovac. “It’s not a problem associated with Pfizer,” Mr. Mak said at a news conference on Friday. “This is actually a problem associated with the Sinovac vaccine.”
Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates were the first two countries to approve the Sinopharm shot, even before late-stage clinical trial data was released. Since then, there have been extensive reports of vaccinated people falling ill in both countries. In a statement, the Bahraini government’s media office said the kingdom’s vaccine rollout had been “efficient and successful to date.”
Still, last month officials from Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates announced that they would offer a third booster shot. The choices: Pfizer or more Sinopharm.
Reporting was contributed by Khaliun Bayartsogt, Andrea Kannapell, Ben Hubbard, Asmaa al-Omar and Muktita Suhartono. Elsie Chen and Claire Fu contributed research.
#AceNewsReport – June.20: In simulated test battles, the AI-controlled jets were able to shoot down real human pilots according to the Chinese military’s official newspaper, PLA Daily. Brigade commander Du Jianfeng, told the publication that the AI jets were becoming more integrated into pilot training.
BEIJING: China unleash fighter jets capable of shooting down real pilots – ‘Better than humans’ using Artificial Intelligence acorrding to Daily Express
By China News: June. 17, 2021
China unleashes AI controlled jets
Mr Du said the aircraft were capable of making “flawless tactical decisions”.
He also praised the AI’s “skill at handling the aircraft.”
Mr Du continued to say that the newly developed system was a powerful aid for “sharpening the sword” of Chinese pilots.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the new system is the ability to copy and instantly master new tactics and combat skills.
Chinese jets fly in formation (Image: Getty Images)
Military experts have proposed integration of the AI system into modern warfare could help pilots make decisions by taking an entire battlefield into consideration.
Fang Guoyu, one of the pilots tested against the system was “shot down” after the AI used his own technique against him.
He said: “At first, it was not difficult to win against the AI.
“But by studying data, each engagement became a chance for it to improve.
Simulator cockpit for fighting AI jets (Image: Getty Images)
“The move with which you defeated it today will be in its hands tomorrow.”
Mr Fang added the system excelled at “learning, assimilating, reviewing, and researching”.
According to reports last year, an AI system in the US also defeated an American fighter pilot in a simulated aerial battle.
The simulated test, conducted by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency at the Pentagon, was able to defeat at least seven teams.
US military have also developed AI jets (Image: Getty Images)
A statement from the defence agency said: “In a future air domain contested by adversaries, a single human pilot can increase lethality by effectively orchestrating multiple autonomous unmanned platforms from within a manned aircraft.
“This shifts the human role from single platform operator to mission commander.”
The latest news of China’s AI-controlled jets follows an incursion into Taiwan airspace by the People’s Liberation Army on Tuesday.
The incursion was the largest to date, with at least 28 warplanes involved in the operation.
#AceNewsReport – June.18: The admission comes after CNN reported that the US government was assessing a reported leak at the facility:
Taishan Nuclear Plant: China admits damage to fuel rods but the Ministry of Ecology and Environment said the problem was “common” with no need for concern but is this really the whole story? In its report, CNN said the company had warned the US government that China’s nuclear regulator had raised limits on permissible levels of radiation outside the plant to avoid shutting it down.
The French energy firm which helps operate the plant in Guangdong province earlier reported a “performance issue”.
On Monday, a spokesperson for EDF said a problem with fuel rods had led to the build-up of gases, which had to be released into the atmosphere.
But in a statement on Wednesday, China’s environment ministry said this report was not true.
The statement – its first official confirmation of the incident – said while the regulator, the National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA), had reviewed the use of noble gases in a reactor, this had “nothing to do with the detection of radiation outside the nuclear plant”.
Noble gases – also known as inert gases – are a group of stable chemical elements which have very low reactivity. They are often used in situations where scientists do not want chemical reactions, for instance in nuclear reactors or lighting.
An increase in radiation levels was detected in Taishan’s Unit 1 reactor, but this was within the parameters for safe operations, the ministry said.
The ministry said the increase was caused by damage to the cladding of a small number of fuel rods. Fuel rods are sealed metal tubes which hold nuclear materials used to fuel the nuclear reactor.
Of the 60,000 fuel rods in the reactor, the damaged ones accounted for “less than 0.01 percent”, the ministry said.
Its statement said “fuel-rod damage during the operation of nuclear power plants is unavoidable” and “a common phenomenon”.
The Taishan plant provides power for the Guangzhou and Shenzhen areas, both major manufacturing hubs.
China has dozens of nuclear plants and has invested billions of dollars to develop its atomic energy sector.
You may be interested in watching:Meet the UN’s nuclear inspectors
#AceNewsReport – June.18: The moment the Chinese crew docked with their new space station: It will be China’s longest crewed space mission to date and the first in nearly five years:
CHINA: Space-Station: Shenzhou-12 delivers first crew to Tianhe module: The three men – Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo – are to spend three months aboard the Tianhe module some 380km (236 miles) above the Earth after they recently launched their first module of new space station
The crew successfully docked with the space station just over seven hours after the launch.
The moment of contact was met with applause from mission control in China.
Their Shenzhou-12 capsule took off atop its Long March 2F rocket on Thursday.
Lift-off from the Jiuquan satellite launch centre in the Gobi desert was at 09:22 Beijing time (01:22 GMT).
The launch and subsequent mission are another demonstration of China’s growing confidence and capability in the space domain.
In the past six months, the country has returned rock and soil samples to Earth from the surface of the Moon, and landed a six-wheeled robot on Mars – both highly complex and challenging endeavours.
What will the crew do in space?
The primary objective for Commander Nie Haisheng and his team on the Shenzhou-12 mission is to bring the 22.5-tonne Tianhe module into service.
“I have a lot of expectations,” Mr Nie said ahead of the launch.
“We need to set up our new home in space and test a series of new technologies. So, the mission is tough and challenging. I believe with the three of us working closely together, doing thorough and accurate operations, we can overcome our challenges. We have the confidence to complete the mission.”
This 16.6m-long, 4.2m-wide Tianhe cylinder was launched in April.
It is the first and core component in what will eventually be a near 70-tonne orbiting outpost, comprising living quarters, science labs and even a Hubble-class telescope to view the cosmos.
The various elements will be launched in turn over the course of the next couple of years. The construction will be accompanied by regular cargo deliveries, as well as crew expeditions.
What do we know about the astronauts?
The Chinese authorities kept the identities of the Shenzhou-12 astronauts under wraps until a press conference on Wednesday.
A fighter pilot, Nie Haisheng, 56, is said to be China’s oldest astronaut in space.
He is a veteran of two previous flights, which included a 15-day visit in 2013 to the prototype space station, Tiangong-1. This has since been de-orbited.
His crewmates, Liu Boming (54) and Tang Hongbo (45), are also from an air force background. Liu’s earlier spaceflight experience was on the Shenzhou-7 mission in 2008 that saw him participate in China’s first ever spacewalk.
ReutersTang Hongbo (L), Nie Haisheng (C) and Liu Boming (R) spoke to reporters on Wednesday from behind glass – a pre-flight quarantine measure
Mr Tang is the rookie on this occasion, having never before gone into orbit.
The food, fuel and equipment the trio will need during their stay aboard Tianhe was delivered by a robotic freighter last month.
This freighter is still attached, and the men will make unpacking its supplies their first task as soon as they’ve settled in. Included in the delivery are two spacesuits they’ll need to conduct spacewalks on the exterior of Tianhe.
What are China’s space ambitions?
China has in recent years made no secret of its space ambitions.
It has poured significant funding into its space efforts, and in 2019 became the first country to send an un-crewed rover to the far side of the Moon.
But it’s had to go at it alone in developing a space station, in part because it has been excluded from the International Space Station project.
The US, which leads that partnership with Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan, will not co-operate with the Asian nation in orbit.
For its part, China says it is open to foreign involvement on its station. In the first instance, this means hosted scientific experiments. For example, the Shenzhou-12 crew will conduct cancer investigations that are led from Norway.
And on the outside of the station, there is an Indian-developed telescopic spectrograph to study ultraviolet emissions coming from deep space, from the likes of exploded stars.
But, long term, there probably also will be visits to the station by non-Chinese nationals.Russia, which has shared technology in the past with China, has mentioned the possibility of sending its cosmonauts.
At Wednesday’s press conference to introduce the Shenzhou-12 crew, Ji Qiming, an assistant director with China’s human spaceflight agency, said: “We welcome co-operation in this regard in general.”It is believed that, in the near future, after the completion of the Chinese space station, we will see Chinese and foreign astronauts fly and work together,” he added.
President Xi Jinping has also thrown his support behind the country’s space endeavours and the Chinese state media regularly cast the “space dream” as one step in the path to “national rejuvenation”.
#AceNewsReport – June.14: The statement said rescue efforts were continuing but gave no word on the cause of the explosion:
CHINA: Responders to the early Sunday morning blast in the Hubei province city of Shiyan sent more than 150 people to hospital, according to a statement on the city’s official social media channel.
Stall keepers and customers buying breakfast and fresh vegetables at a food market were the major victims when the explosion hit shortly after 6:00am local time, according to state media reports.
Images showed rescuers climbing over broken concrete slabs to reach those trapped inside.
The blast appeared similar to one that occurred in the north-eastern port of Qingdao in 2013, in which 55 people were killed when underground pipelines ripped open following a leak.
The Shiyan explosion came a day after eight people died and three others were injured when toxic methyl formate leaked from a vehicle at a chemical handling facility in the south-western city of Guiyang.
Frequent deadly accidents are usually traced to weak adherence to safety standards, poor maintenance and corruption among enforcement bodies.
Those responsible are often handed harsh punishments, but high demand and the desire for profits often trump such concerns.
Among the worst accidents was a massive 2015 explosion at a chemical warehouse in the port city of Tianjin that killed 173 people, most of them firefighters and police officers.
The blast was blamed on illegal construction and unsafe storage of volatile materials.
#AceNewsReport – June.09: It found that under China’s birth-control policies in the region, the population of ethnic minorities in southern Xinjiang would reach somewhere between 8.6 and 10.5 million by 2040, compared to 13.1 million projected by Chinese researchers before Beijing’s crackdown:
CHINA: Chinese-Birth-Control-Policy Report: That could cut millions of Uyghur births, report finds: This [research and analysis] really shows the intent behind the Chinese government’s long-term plan for the Uyghur population,” Mr Zenz told the Reuters news agency, which first reported the study.
The analysis concluded that regional policies could cut between 2.6 and 4.5 million minority births in that time.
China has been accused by some Western nations of genocide in Xinjiang, partly through forced birth-control measures.
China denies the allegations, saying birth-rate declines have other causes.
The new study, by researcher Adrian Zenz, is the first such peer-reviewed academic paper on the long-term population impact of China’s crackdown on the Uyghurs and other minority groups in Xinjiang.
In his report, Mr Zenz writes that by 2019 Xinjiang authorities “planned to subject at least 80% of women of childbearing age in the rural southern four minority prefectures to intrusive birth prevention surgeries, referring to IUDs or sterilisations”.
Experts believe that China has detained at least a million Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang, and the government faces accusations of attempting to reduce and assimilate the minority Muslim population there.
Reports also say authorities have intentionally moved people from the mainstream Han Chinese population into parts of Xinjiang previously dominated by ethnic minorities, and forcibly transferred Uyghurs out.
According to Mr Zenz’s research, China’s birth-control policies could increase the Han population in southern Xinjiang – where the Uyghur population is concentrated – from its current level of 8.4% to about 25% by 2040.
According to official Chinese statistics, there was a 48.7% decline in birth rates in ethnic minority areas of Xinjiang between 2017 and 2019.
China announced last week that it would allow couples to have up to three children, after census data showed a steep decline in national birth rates. But leaked documents and testimony from Xinjiang suggest an opposite policy is being pursued there, with women detained or otherwise punished for exceeding birth-control quotas.
EPAThe Chinese government is accused of attempting to reduce the Muslim population in Xinjiang
A previous report by Mr Zenz based on regional data, policy documents and testimony alleged that pregnant Uyghur women in Xinjiang were being threatened with internment for refusing to abort pregnancies, while others were involuntarily fitted with intra-uterine devices or coerced into sterilisation surgery.
China denies making any attempt to reduce the Uyghur population specifically, arguing that the decline in minority birth rates in Xinjiang is due to the implementation of general birth quotas in the region as well as increases in income and better access to family planning.
“The so-called ‘genocide’ in Xinjiang is pure nonsense,” China’s Foreign Ministry told Reuters in a statement.
“It is a manifestation of the ulterior motives of anti-China forces in the United States and the West and the manifestation of those who suffer from Sinophobia.”
Mr Zenz is a researcher at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a Washington DC-based “anti-communist” organisation which describes itself as dedicated to “pursuing the freedom of those still living under totalitarian regimes”.
Reuters said it had shared his new research and methodology with more than a dozen experts in population analysis, birth prevention policies and international human rights law, who told the news agency the analysis and conclusions were sound.
Some of the experts cautioned that demographic projections over a period of decades can be affected by unforeseen factors.