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Memorial to the Victims of Communism in Prague, Czech Republic
Memorial to the Victims of Communism in Prague, Czech Republic


Chinese companies listed on Wall Street will likely be cut off from U.S. capital markets in the next three years as tensions between Beijing and Washington persist, says one global asset management firm. “I think for a lot of Chinese companies listed in U.S. markets, it’s essentially game over,” David Loevinger, managing director for emerging markets sovereign research at TCW Group, told CNBC Wednesday. “This is an issue that’s been hanging out there for 20 years — we haven’t been able to solve it.” TCW Group had $265.8 billion in assets under management as of Sept. 30, 2021, according to the company’s website. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this month finalized rules to implement a law that would allow the market regulator to ban foreign companies listed in the U.S. from trading if their auditors do not comply with requests for information from American regulators.

The Biden administration is considering imposing tougher sanctions on China’s largest chipmaker, according to people familiar with the situation, building on an effort to limit the country’s access to advanced technology. The National Security Council is set to hold a meeting on Thursday to discuss the potential changes, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private. Agencies represented through their deputies will include the Commerce, Defense, State and Energy departments. The proposal that’s being examined would tighten the rules on exports to Shanghai-based Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. If one proposal is adopted, companies such as Applied Materials Inc., KLA Corp. and Lam Research Corp. may find their ability to supply gear to SMIC severely limited.President Biden’s Summit for Democracy demonstrated the resiliency of America’s convening power and the appeal of democracy as an ideal. That sparked a heavy flurry of propaganda from Beijing. The Chinese Communist Party is touting its “people’s democratic dictatorship” model of governance as a superior alternative to liberal democracy. More than 100 countries met during a virtual summit last week at President Biden’s invitation. China wasn’t invited, but it was the elephant in the room. Beijing reacted with a major propaganda campaign that presented American democracy as defunct and hypocritical and claimed “socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics” was superior. CCP leaders have long used variations on the term “democracy” to describe China’s political system.Downplaying direct confrontation between the United States and China, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Tuesday pledged to strengthen relations with Indo-Pacific nations through billions of dollars in American investment and aid and, in doing so, counter Beijing’s regional pull. That soft-power pitch was delivered at Universitas Indonesia in Jakarta, the country’s capital, and continued with a series of agreements on maritime cooperation and education and Peace Corps exchanges. The university was also the site of a speech nearly 60 years ago by Robert F. Kennedy, who spoke then of open relations among states, so long as one did not threaten the rights of others. Mr. Blinken called it remarkable that the broader goal had changed so little for a region that now accounts for 60 percent of the global economy and is growing faster than anywhere else in the world.
When the highly infectious Delta variant hit China in the summer, some public health experts were hopeful that the country could soon receive an immunity boost from BioNTech’s highly effective mRNA Covid-19 vaccine. In July, the shot was reported to have passed an expert review by Chinese regulators and was in the administration review stage, according to Fosun Pharma, the Chinese partner of BioNTech licensed to produce and distribute the vaccine in the Greater China region. Fosun was even planning to start domestic trial production by the end of August. However, five months later there is still no word from Chinese officials on when — or whether — the vaccine will ever be approved, even as the newly emerged Omicron variant is detected in China, posing a fresh challenge to the country’s zero-Covid strategy and its less effective domestic vaccines.Chinese authorities in the northern port city of Tianjin said they had detected the mainland’s first case of the Omicron coronavirus variant, putting what China has called its “zero tolerance” Covid-19 strategy to a further test. The infection was discovered in a traveler who arrived in the city from overseas on Thursday, the Tianjin city government said in a statement on its verified social-media account. It was confirmed as a case of the Omicron variant after the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed the results of genome sequencing. Since closing off the city of Wuhan, the original epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak, in January of 2020, China has continued to use lockdowns along with mass testing and mandatory quarantine to battle the virus anywhere it might pop up.The vaccine made by Sinovac Biotech Ltd., one of the most widely used in the world, doesn’t provide sufficient antibodies to neutralize the omicron variant, said Hong Kong researchers in initial lab findings that may have sweeping consequences for the millions of people relying on the Chinese shot to protect them against COVID-19. Among a group of 25 people fully vaccinated with Sinovac’s shot, which is called Coronavac, none showed sufficient antibodies in their blood serum to neutralize the omicron variant, said a statement from a team of researchers at the University of Hong Kong released late Tuesday night. While much is still unknown about how Sinovac’s shot reacts to omicron—including how T cells, the immune system’s weapon against virus-infected cells, will respond—the findings are a blow to those who have received the 2.3 billion doses of Coronavac shipped out, mostly in China and the developing world.
CCP Foreign Influence
State-run news outlets and local governments have organized and funded pro-Beijing influencers’ travel, according to government documents and the creators themselves. They have paid or offered to pay the creators. They have generated lucrative traffic for the influencers by sharing videos with millions of followers on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. With official media outlets’ backing, the creators can visit and film in parts of China where the authorities have obstructed foreign journalists’ reporting. Most of the YouTubers have lived in China for years and say their aim is to counter the West’s increasingly negative perceptions of the country. They decide what goes into their videos, they say, not the Communist Party. But even if the creators do not see themselves as propaganda tools, Beijing is using them that way.Australian Liberal MP Gladys Liu admits the government’s handling of Australia’s relationship with China has divided opinion in her electorate, amid concerns over a potential backlash over the issue at the next federal election. After the government’s decision to join a United States-led diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, some Liberals are privately raising fears about losing key federal seats that contain strong Chinese communities. Liu came under criticism in 2019 for her reported associations with groups with alleged links to the Chinese Communist Party. The ABC reported that Ms. Liu was previously associated with Australia-based organizations with alleged ties to the United Front Work Department, a CCP agency that aims to promote China’s political interest by exerting influence on overseas Chinese communities and foreign governments.The fortunes of the world’s emerging economies once rose or fell in lockstep with China. No longer. Ruchir Sharma, Morgan Stanley Investment Management’s chief global strategist, writes that in recent years we’ve seen a gradual decoupling of GDP growth between the Asian giant and the world’s smaller economies. Now Covid-19 has collapsed the link altogether. China is growing more slowly as its government imposes lockdowns to combat the virus, all while reining in its real estate moguls and tech oligarchs. “China may not matter as much as it once did,” argues Sharma. International businesses are starting to reach a similar conclusion. Increasingly, companies that once focused their global strategies on China, extrapolating its high growth rates far into the future, are now planning less with the nation in mind.A report this week from The Information relies on unnamed sources and internal documents to peel back some of the details about Apple’s ties with China. That includes a request Apple reportedly received in 2014 or 2015 about a small group of uninhabited islands that China and Japan have a dispute over. They inspired a request from China to members of the Maps team to make them appear larger, even when viewers are zoomed out on the map. According to The Information, not only did Apple eventually make the change, but even today, for viewers using its map from within China, the islands are still shown at a larger scale than the territories around them.
Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal has rejected an application to challenge a lower court’s bail refusal to a speech therapist, who was accused of publishing seditious children’s books about sheep. Lai Man-ling, Melody Yeung, Sidney Ng, Samuel Chan and Marco Fong were arrested by national security police in July. They are accused of conspiring with Wong Hoi-ching, another member of the union, in printing, publishing, and distributing three children’s books, Guardians of the Sheep Village, 12 Warriors of the Sheep Village, and Dustman of the Sheep Village. Their intent was to “bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection” against the Hong Kong government and “the administration of justice in Hong Kong,” according to the police.Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai has been sentenced to 13 months in jail for participating in a vigil marking the 1989 Tiananmen massacre in Beijing. The 74-year-old was found guilty last week of inciting others to take part in an unlawful assembly. He was among thousands who defied a ban to attend last year’s vigil marking the killings in the Chinese capital. More than two dozen Hong Kong politicians and activists have been charged over the vigil. Lai was one of eight activists sentenced on Monday. They included prominent names like journalist-turned-opposition politician Gwyneth Ho and lawyer Chow Hang Tung. The sentences for the eight range from four-and-a-half months to 14 months.Hong Kong’s anti-graft agency has arrested four more people accused of inciting others to skip Sunday’s Legislative Council poll or cast blank ballots, as overseas calls for an outright boycott continued. The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) on Wednesday detained three men and one woman, aged 22 to 58, for allegedly breaching the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance, which was amended earlier this year to outlaw publicly “inciting another person not to vote, or to cast an invalid vote” during an election period. If convicted, the suspects face a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a US$25,600 fine. The Legco election will be the first citywide poll since Beijing revamped Hong Kong’s electoral system to ensure only “patriots” held power. Mainstream opposition parties have snubbed the election, which they argue is designed to exclude dissenting voices.
Nicaragua’s government has broken off diplomatic relations with Taiwan and embraced Beijing, declaring “there is only one China in the world.” The Nicaraguan announcement now leaves a little more than a dozen countries that maintain official diplomatic relations with self-ruled Taiwan, including fellow Central American nations Honduras and Guatemala. “The People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing all of China and Taiwan is an undoubted part of the Chinese territory,” Nicaragua’s Foreign Minister Denis Moncada said. Beijing refuses to maintain diplomatic ties with any country that recognizes Taiwan and has spent much of the past 40 years attempting to isolate the island by chipping away at its diplomatic allies with offers of economic support.Lithuania’s diplomatic delegation to China left the country on Wednesday in a hastily arranged departure, diplomatic sources said, as relations soured further over Taiwan, which opened a de facto embassy in Vilnius last month. Beijing, which has stepped up pressure on countries to sever relations with the island, downgraded diplomatic ties with Lithuania in November after Taiwan’s representative office in the Baltic state’s capital opened. Lithuanian authorities said on Wednesday they had summoned their top diplomat back from China for “consultations” and that the embassy would operate remotely for the time being. A diplomatic source told Reuters a group of 19 people comprising embassy personnel and dependents left Beijing in route to Paris. Another diplomatic source familiar with the situation called their departure a response to “intimidation”.A video feed of a Taiwanese minister was cut during US President Joe Biden’s Summit for Democracy last week, after a map in her slide presentation showed Taiwan in a different color to China. Friday’s slide show by Minister Without Portfolio Audrey Tang caused consternation among U.S. officials after the map appeared in her video feed for about one minute, sources familiar with the matter said. The sources, who did not want to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter, said the video feed showing Tang was cut during a panel discussion and replaced with audio only — at the behest of the White House. The U.S. Department of State said “confusion” over screen-sharing resulted in Tang’s video feed being dropped, calling it “an honest mistake.”
The House on Tuesday evening unanimously voted to pass a bill that would ban all imports from the Chinese region of Xinjiang unless the U.S. government determines that the products were not made with forced labor. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) reached a compromise agreement earlier on Tuesday on the final legislative text of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed for the first time Tuesday that President Biden will sign the bill. The bill would ban all imports from the northwest region of Xinjiang unless the U.S. government determines with “clear and convincing evidence” that the products were not made with forced labor.An independent tribunal in London said Thursday that China committed genocide against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in its western Xinjiang region and that President Xi Jinping shared primary responsibility for the atrocities. The Uyghur Tribunal based its findings on testimony from dozens of witnesses, including formerly jailed Uyghurs and other locals, as well as legal and academic experts on China’s actions in its far-western Xinjiang region. At the virtual hearing last month, Dr. Adrian Zenz, researcher with the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, authenticated a package of Chinese government documents that were believed to have been leaked to the tribunal. The documents, some of which were marked top secret, included speeches by Chinese president Xi Jinping in 2014 calling for Uyghur re-education and population control in Xinjiang. Zenz said the documents were part of the “Xinjiang Papers” that were originally leaked to The New York Times in 2019 but have not been released publicly. For Dr. Zenz’s report please click here.A highly regarded scientific journal has retracted a paper based on DNA samples from nearly 38,000 men in China, including Tibetans and Uyghurs who almost certainly did not give proper consent. The rare retraction by the journal, Human Genetics, follows a two-year crusade by a Belgian scientist to push publishers to investigate research that he and others say is complicit in human rights violations. The paper’s authors used DNA samples from across China to assess genetic variation among and within ethnic groups. The journal’s editors retracted the paper because of doubts about the informed consent process. According to a retraction notice published December 11, three authors, including the two lead authors, agreed to withdraw the paper. Human Genetics is published by Springer Nature, which retracted two other papers for similar reasons in August and September.