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China’s image takes a dip globally

Weak diplomacy, increased use of economic coercion, failed soft power attempts, and expanding links to Russia are some of the causes for China’s deteriorating worldwide image.

The global image of China, which had been good or at least neutral in many areas of the world for the last two decades, has deteriorated dramatically in the last four years among the countries including the United States, Japan, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.

Several reports say that between the 1990s and the late 2010s, China had favourable relations with several countries but, at present, Beijing has its worst public image in decades in several areas of the world.

 Despite increased foreign aid through the Belt and Road Initiative, billions of spending on state television, radio, and other mass communication, and a variety of efforts to expand cultural diplomacy, visitor programmes for foreigners, and scholarships for students to attend university in China.

According to a Pew Research Center survey of the public in seventeen different nations, including the United States, “unfavourable opinions of China are… at or near historic highs. The vast majority of industrialised economies polled had largely unfavourable opinions of China.”

There are several causes for China’s deteriorating worldwide image. They include weak diplomacy, increased use of economic coercion, failed soft power attempts, and expanding links to Russia.

Recently, China’s new diplomatic stance, along with the increasing use of state economic pressure against nations and foreign and domestic Chinese companies, undoubtedly contributes to escalating unfavourable attitudes.

Before the Xi era began in 2012-13, there were some hints of China’s rising belligerence, but blatantly confrontational diplomacy has flowered under his leadership.

CCP at 100 (Source twitter@ChinaAmbUN) (4)

At an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Hanoi in 2010, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi unleashed a tirade against Southeast Asian leaders, foreshadowing Beijing’s new attitude.

As Xi has consolidated power at home, eliminating potential opponents and ending consensus authoritarianism for what is now essentially one-man rule, he has demonstrated through speeches and actions that he wants China to reclaim its position as a dominant regional and global power and to promote its model to the rest of the world, the media report stated.

He openly expressed nationalist beliefs and, unlike other presidents since Mao, advocated for a Chinese model of development. With Xi leading the way, Chinese diplomacy has shifted dramatically toward the types of statements made by Yang in 2010, under Xi, some of the most venomous diplomats have risen quickly through the foreign ministry, demonstrating to other Chinese diplomats that acting in this manner is a path to promotion.

Following Xi’s lead, other ministries and diplomats began frequently expressing prickly, nationalist, bombastic words against foreign powers, instilled in China’s increasingly nationalistic internal politics.

Throughout, the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukrainian war, China’s more brazen diplomats have vocally assaulted neighbouring countries and promoted misinformation regarding the origins of coronavirus.

Chinese President Xi Jinping with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin

They have also promoted Russian misinformation regarding the Ukraine war in recent months, while local Chinese media channels portray Russia as the true victim. This is a further step in the employment of disinformation by Chinese diplomats, in which Beijing helps to magnify the lies of another big authoritarian country, with whom it has developed a strong relationship. China’s involvement in propagating Russian disinformation online is crucial: many Russian publications are prohibited or blacklisted by governments and tech companies, but China’s are not.

Simultaneously, China has grown more open about using economic pressure against nations who criticise its international and internal policies. Beijing has used coercion against dozens of states and multinational corporations that have taken critical positions on issues that Beijing regards as critical, such as Taiwan, the South China Sea, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang, or that have criticised Xi’s leadership or have demanded investigations into the origins of COVID-19 or have pushed China to abandon its disastrous zero-COVID policy. China’s trajectory is moving towards only one destination – doom. (ANI)

ALSO READ: Xi and Biden exchange warnings on Taiwan

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Chinese court jails poet who called on Xi to step down

Zhang Guiqi, 49, who is widely known by his penname Lu Yang, was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment by the Liaocheng Intermediate People’s Court…reports Asian Lite News

A court in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong has handed down a six-year jail term to an outspoken poet who called on ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping to step down, two years after his trial, a media outlet reported.

Zhang Guiqi, 49, who is widely known by his penname Lu Yang, was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment by the Liaocheng Intermediate People’s Court, which found him guilty two years ago of “incitement to subvert state power”, RFA reported.

“They informed his family by phone that he has been sentenced,” Independent Chinese PEN’s freelance coordinator Zhang Yu told RFA. “He was convicted of incitement to subvert state power, sentenced to six years in prison and deprived of political rights for three years.”

Lu pleaded not guilty, and plans to appeal, Zhang said.

“(His family) wanted to see the judgment, but they wouldn’t show it to them because they said it was a crime involving national security, and was a state secret,” Zhang said.

Lu’s arrest came after he posted a video of himself calling on Xi to step down, and calling for “an end to the CCP dictatorship”.

“At least three years of that sentence is linked to his mention of Xi Jinping, because if he’d called on anyone else to step down, it wouldn’t have been aggravated, which would have meant a three-year sentence,” Zhang said.

“That’s one year each for each character (in Xi Jinping’s name).”

Zhang said the video had been seen by a fairly small number of people to start with.

“I’m guessing that he may have used his superior knowledge of the law to argue back, making them … retaliate hard against him,” Zhang was quoted as saying by RFA.

Lu Yang was among a group of rights activists who went to the Shandong Jianzhu University in January 2017 to support a former professor there, Deng Xiangchao, who was targeted by Maoist protesters after he retweeted a post satirizing late supreme leader Mao Zedong.

The Shandong authorities terminated Deng’s teaching contract after the incident, while Maoist flash mobs attacked Deng’s supporters at the scene, including Yang.

Independent Chinese PEN issued a statement condemning the sentencing of Lu on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Lu’s wife, who gave only a surname, Zhang, said she has been barred from giving interviews to foreign media, and has been threatened with the loss of her job by her current employer.

ALSO READ: China vows rescue fund to offset realty crisis

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Biden expects to speak with Xi this week

Speaking about fear of recession in US ahead of announcement on the nation’s GDP on Thursday, Biden said that in his view the United States will not experience a recession…reports Asian Lite News

US President Joe Biden on Monday told reporters that he anticipates having a conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week.

Asked whether the long-awaited call would take place this week, Biden told reporters, “That’s my expectation, but I’ll let you know when that gets set up.” Biden added that he will let the media know about the conversation once it is set up.

Last week, Xi sent a message of sympathy to Biden, wishing him a prompt recovery after acquiring the novel coronavirus, media reported.

White House National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby confirmed that Xi sent the message to Biden.

On Thursday, Biden tested positive for novel coronavirus and is experiencing mild symptoms. The US president is currently working from his residence and will continue to do so for at least five days or until he receives a negative test, the White House said.

Biden is likely infected by highly contagious Omicron subvariant BA.5.

“Our preliminary sequencing results have returned. The President’s causative agent is most likely the BA5 variant. This is the SARS-CoV-2 variant which is responsible for 75-80 per cent of infections in the United States at this time,” said President Biden’s physician Dr Kevin O’Connor in a memo.

Speaking about fear of recession in US ahead of announcement on the nation’s GDP on Thursday, Biden said that in his view the United States will not experience a recession.

“We’re not going to be in a recession, in my view,” said US President Joe Biden, further adding, “the unemployment rate is still one of the lowest we’ve had in history. It’s in the 3.6 per cent area. We still find ourselves with people investing…”

“My hope is we go from this rapid growth to steady growth, so we’ll see some coming down. God willing, I don’t think we’re going to see a recession,” Biden added.

It is pertinent to note that US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Sunday that US economic growth is slowing and she acknowledged the risk of a recession.

Moreover, US gross domestic product, a broad measure of economic health, shrank at a 1.6 per cent annual rate in the first quarter.

Traditionally, recession is defined as a slowdown or a massive contraction in economic activities.

US data last week suggested that the labour market was softening with new claims for unemployment benefits hitting their highest point in eight months. (ANI)

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China issues security warning after sale of stolen data

In an advert on a criminal forum, later removed, the user said the data was stolen from Shanghai National Police

Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged public bodies to “defend information security” after a hacker offered to sell stolen data of one billion Chinese citizens.

In an advert on a criminal forum, later removed, the user said the data was stolen from Shanghai National Police, the BBC reported.

The hacker claims the information includes names, addresses, National ID numbers and mobile phone numbers.

Cyber-security experts have verified that at least some of a small sample of the data offered is real.

The 23 terabytes of data is thought to be the largest ever sale of data on record and was being offered for $200,000 until the post was removed on Friday.

No Chinese officials have responded to the news and President Xi did not make direct reference to the data sale.

But, according to the South China Morning Post, the President has asked public bodies in China to “defend information security… to protect personal information, privacy and confidential corporate information” to ensure people feel secure when submitting data for public services.

On Friday, the moderators of the website where the sale was listed, by a user called ChinaDan, posted a notice which read: “Dear Chinese users, welcome to our forum. You most likely came here because of the Shanghai police database leak. The data is no longer being sold, and posts related to this topic have been deleted.”

The website administrators then added that they have many other similar and high quality Chinese databases for sale, adding: “We are not in China and we are not Chinese, so we do not have to obey Chinese laws,” the BBC reported.

According to DarkTracer, which monitors cyber criminal activity, another hacker, perhaps inspired by the publicity surrounding ChinaDan’s offer, posted an advert on Tuesday for 90 million Chinese citizen records, which the hacker claims to have stolen from Henan National Police (HNGA).

None of that data has been verified.

“It remains unclear exactly why the data has been withdrawn,” the BBC quoted Toby Lewis, global head of threat analysis at Darktrace, as saying.

“The original offer of sale suggests that the hacker was looking to sell the data to several buyers without exclusivity, rather than just one.

“So one theory is that for a high enough price exclusivity could have been bought, and that kind of purchase could possibly have been made by the Chinese state itself,” he added.

ALSO READ: Reshaping Hong Kong into China with controls, surveillance

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Xi defends China’s rule

But in recent years China has been criticised for increasing its control of Hong Kong and enacting laws and reforms that stifle free speech and dissent…reports Asian Lite News

China’s “one country two systems” model of ruling Hong Kong has worked in protecting the city and must continue long term, says Xi Jinping.

The Chinese leader mounted a stern defence of the political system in a speech in Hong Kong, following recent international criticism.

Hong Kong is marking 25 years since Britain returned the city to China.

It is under tight security as it hosts Xi, who is on his first trip outside of the mainland in two years.

Under “one country two systems”, Hong Kong is supposed to be governed in a way that gives it a high degree of autonomy and protects freedom of speech and assembly, and other rights not found in mainland China.

But in recent years China has been criticised for increasing its control of Hong Kong and enacting laws and reforms that stifle free speech and dissent.

The “one, country two systems” principle arose out of an agreement between Britain and China and is enshrined in law in Hong Kong. The protections run out in 2047, a deadline which many in Hong Kong have long been worried about.

But on Friday Xi said it “must be adhered to over the long run” – the clearest sign yet that China intends to preserve the political model, which critics say has already been compromised to suit Beijing.

Flanked by the Chinese and Hong Kong flags on stage, Xi defended the system as having worked in protecting Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability as well as China’s “fundamental interests” in the past 25 years.

“‘One country two systems’ has been tested and proved time and again, and there is no reason to change such a good system,” he said, to applause from the audience comprising mostly of the city’s pro-Beijing elite.

He added the system had the “unanimous endorsement” of residents along with “widespread approval” by the international community, and that Hong Kong’s “true democracy began” when it returned to China.

But over the years Hong Kong has seen huge protests and many, including Western countries, have criticised Beijing’s growing interference in the city.

In 2020, China introduced a controversial national security law that has clamped down on free speech and dissent in Hong Kong. This prompted Britain to accuse China of violating the “one country two systems” principle and their agreement.

China’s recent electoral reforms designed to ensure only “patriots” can run for office in Hong Kong have also been heavily criticised.

But Xi strongly defended this move on Friday, saying that it was “essential for safeguarding the long-term stability and security of Hong Kong” and that “at no time should this principle be allowed to be compromised”.

“No country or territory’s citizens would allow non-patriotic, or even traitorous, forces and people to wield political power,” he said.

At the same event, Xi also formally appointed John Lee, a former security chief known for his tough pro-Beijing views, as the new chief executive of Hong Kong.

ALSO READ-NATO brands China a ‘security threat’

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Xi to visit Hong Kong for handover anniversary

The visit to Hong Kong will be the Chinese President’s first visit outside the country since Covid-19 pandemic began, reports Asian Lite News

Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to visit Hong Kong next week to mark the 25th anniversary of the city’s handover to China, the leader’s first trip outside the country since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Xi’s visit will include the attendance of the swearing-in ceremony of the city’s new leader John Lee.

“Xi will attend a meeting celebrating the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland,” Xinhua news agency reported. “Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, will also attend the inaugural ceremony of the sixth-term government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region,” the Chinese agency said.

Hong Kong authorities have banned select media outlets from covering incoming leader John Lee’s inauguration, citing COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and security reasons.

Many of the barred outlets are registered and regularly attend government press conferences, the Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) reported.

In an event that will see the attendance of Xi Jinping, select broadcasters have been nominated. The list of excluded media outlets includes Japan’s Nikkei, Asahi Shimbun, and Kyodo News, Taiwan’s CTV, Getty Images in the US, as well as Hong Kong’s InMedia, and HKFP.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association said that it was “deeply concerned” by the move.

“[HKJA] urges the city’s authorities to be more inclusive by accepting applications from media organisations keen to attend, so that those with a considerable readership can fulfil their duty in keeping the public informed by reporting on Hong Kong’s historic moments,” they said.

Last month, Xi Jinping met the newly appointed Hong Kong chief executive and thanked him for achieving a major transition in the city which he described as from “chaos to order.”

In a meeting in Beijing, Xi congratulated Lee on his election win and appointment by the central government. Lee was the former security chief of Hong Kong who oversaw the crackdown on the democracy movement.

Lee, 64, is scheduled to assume his office on July 1, taking over from current chief executive Carrie Lam. The event will coincide with the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s transfer from British to Beijing under the “one country, two systems” framework to safeguard Hong Kong’s freedoms.

Praising Lee for maintaining the unwavering stance of loving the country and Hong Kong, being willing to assume responsibilities and actively performing his duties, Xi said Lee has made contributions to safeguarding national security and Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability in various roles. (ANI)

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Will CCP regulations block Xi from securing a third term?

A regulation entitled “Interim Provisions on the Term of Office of Leading Party and Government Cadres” supposedly could challenge Xi’s ability to remain at the head of the CCP in the next term

As the Chinese President Xi Jinping is eyeing to secure a third term in office, his political opponents are challenging this bid of the President at a time when his much-criticized strict “Zero-COVID” policies have brought the entire nation to the brink of economic collapse.

Xi obviously faced an ever-increasing attack from his opponents and this is evident in a recent post published by Cai Xia, a retired professor at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.

In his post, he referred to a regulation entitled “Interim Provisions on the Term of Office of Leading Party and Government Cadres”. According to a post by him on Twitter, he said that this provision is still in effect.

It is interesting to note that this interim provision supposedly could challenge Xi’s ability to remain at the head of the CCP in the next term, reported Global Strait.

As per this provision, the tenure of the CCP party and the Chinese government leading cadres is limited. They can only serve in the same position for two consecutive terms or a total of 15 years.

After this post by Cai, a Taiwanese media outlet published an article on this provision. In June 5 article, the interim provision could hinder Xi’s wish to extend his Party leadership.

The article talks about how Xi, since 2017, had been meeting various substantive obstacles to his re-election. According to former diplomat and author Roger Garside, the Chinese president Xi’s opponents are also taking advantage of the country’s internal troubles to undermine him.

Chinese President and General Secretary of Chinese Communist Party Xi Jinping (Xinhua_Ju Peng_IANS)

Garside, the author of the book “China Coup,” said that the Chinese leader is facing a combination of external and internal pressures.

“There are tipping points… looming up in the Chinese scene of the very gravest kind,” he said, adding that these would allow rivals within the leadership to move against Xi, as per the media portal.

To add insult to injury, China’s Zero-COVID policy and mass lockdowns have produced “a very vulnerable state in China, and an imperative to isolate China from the rest of the world,” he said.

“And internally, it is aroused, as we have seen on videos from Shanghai and elsewhere, anger, indignation, and an erosion of respect and loyalty for the Communist Party,” Garside said adding, “But this came against a background of a disastrous performance in the property sector. We have seen the default of major property developers,” he added. (ANI)

ALSO READ: ‘Refrain from destablizing actions towards Taiwan’: US warns China

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Xi, Li to meet with EU leaders over Ukraine

The talks are expected to exclude the human rights dialogue – a sideline component of the annual summit for the third year in a row…reports Asian Lite News

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang will participate in a summit with European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Friday (April 1) to discuss the Ukraine crisis.

“President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, accompanied by High Representative Josep Borrell, representing the EU, will meet Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang in the morning and Chinese President Xi Jinping in the afternoon,” the EU Council said in a statement.

According to the statement, the parties will discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the humanitarian situation in the country, as well as bilateral relations between China and the EU.

“The leaders will also discuss the state of bilateral relations and areas of shared interest such as climate change, biodiversity and health, as well as ways to ensure a more balanced and reciprocal trade relationship,” the statement said.

The talks are expected to exclude the human rights dialogue – a sideline component of the annual summit for the third year in a row.

The previous EU-China summit was held in June 2020. The session of 2021 was called off after Brussels’ accusations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang set off a flurry of sanctions between the European Union and China.

The present talks are also expected to revive the negotiations on the bilateral trade deal, the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI).

The talks come amid reports of China advising its companies to adopt a “cautious” approach towards deals with Russia as the country appears to be succumbing to the Western powers who have imposed severe sanctions on Russia.

Recently, Sinopec, Asia’s largest oil refiner moved to stop major investments in a gas chemical plant and a venture to market Russian gas in China in the wake of unexpectedly heavy Western-led sanctions against Moscow, The Standard Hong Kong reported.

Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine last month after recognising the Ukrainian breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as “independent republics.” Russia has since continued to maintain that the aim of its operations has been to “demilitarize” and “de-nazify” the country.

The Russian actions were immediately condemned by almost all the western countries, who rolled out severe sets of sanctions targetting the Russian economy, and key individuals.

A number of countries, including the US, UK, France, Italy, Finland and several others, also banned Russian aircraft over their airspaces. (ANI)

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Xi’s daughter living in America, reveals Senator Hartzler

Aside from a few basic biographical details, very little is known about the cherished daughter of Chinese President Xi Jinping and his second wife, famous folk singer Peng Liyuan….reports Asian Lite News

US Congress Rep Vicky Hartzler revealed that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s only daughter Xi Mingze is living in America. Hartzler revealed this while she was introducing the “Protecting Higher Education from the Chinese Communist Party Act.”

According to a Chinese current affairs commentator living in the US stated on his YouTube channel on Sunday that Hartzler divulged the fact that the only child of the world’s second most powerful leader lives in the US.

Aside from a few basic biographical details, very little is known about the cherished daughter of Chinese President Xi Jinping and his second wife, famous folk singer Peng Liyuan.

The US Senator bill would ban “individuals serving in the National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party and their family members from receiving student or research visas.”

Meanwhile, the commentator pointed out that he said in 2019 that Xi’s daughter has returned to the US after living in China for 5 years.

Xi Mingze, born on June 27, 1992, studied French at her high school, Hangzhou Foreign Languages School.

She travelled to the US in 2010 to study at Harvard University in Massachusetts under a pseudonym, but it wasn’t until 2012 that many people had even heard of her.

The commentator believes that she is still living in the same Cambridge area and is a research student there now.

Earlier, a Chinese man, Niu Tengyu, a website technician, was charged with leaking the personal information of President Xi Jinping’s daughter and was sentenced to 14 years in prison. (ANI)

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Xi’s regime detaining dissidents advocating for civil rights: Report

Chinese president, Xi Jinping, had consolidated and tightened his control over the Chinese society to a degree unseen for decades, Yang noted….reports Asian Lite news

Even as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has granted the opportunity to host the prestigious world event to China, the country does not seem to be interested in the rights or welfare of the Chinese people at all.

Activists advancing civil rights for the citizens of China are being detained by the Chinese authorities for subverting state power, putting them in the crosshairs of the Chinese government, Jianli Yang has stated in a column in National Review, a US based news magazine.

Chinese president, Xi Jinping, had consolidated and tightened his control over the Chinese society to a degree unseen for decades, Yang noted.

He lamented that Human Rights lawyers and two important leaders of the Chinese Citizens Movement, Ding Jiaxi and Xu Zhiyong, have been detained at a time when they should be celebrating the Chinese New Year with their friends and family members.

“The movement was founded by these leaders in 2011. These people defend and exercise their rights as citizens under the Chinese constitution,” Yang wrote in the column.

He stressed that these two Chinese leaders had demanded that government officials’ financial holdings be disclosed and all children, particularly those of migrant workers, should be given equal access to public education.

“Since these activists had raised their voices and committed themselves for the rights of their fellow citizens, they were detained by the Chinese authorities. Even after the two leaders were released, they continued to promote the development of civil society, reaching out to citizens around the country who shared their aspirations,” Yang added.

On December 7 and 8, 2019, they had attended a two-day private gathering with around 20 lawyers and friends in Xiamen city in Fujian Province, reported the Magazine.

The Chinese police detained Ding Jiaxi on December 26, 2019, and Xu Zhiyong on February 15, 2020, and held them under a police measure called “residential surveillance at a designated location” (RSDL).

Nigeria govt: 3,000 inmates yet to be recaptured following recent jailbreaks

China Human Rights Defenders, RSLD, has become a widely and frequently used detention tool in China. The RSDL is a form of detention that is employed by Chinese authorities on the individuals “endangering state security”.

Human rights activists, now and then, have flagged that this kind of detention is in violation of human rights and have urged China to stop using it.

In RSDL detention, the two detainees were subjected to torture and other means of torture. Prolonged sleep deprivation, harassment through loud noises, interrogation while strapped tightly to an iron “tiger chair,” food and water restrictions and deprivation of showers and exposure to sunlight were some of the torturous ways used by the authorities, Yang stated in the column. (ANI)

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