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Story 1: Chinese ships caught shipping oil to North Korea — After Winter Olympics Eliminate North Korea and Islamic Republic of Iran Nuclear and Missile Threats — Videos

Posted on December 28, 2017. Filed under: American History, Articles, Blogroll, Books, British History, Chinese, Communications, Congress, conservatives, Corruption, Crisis, Cult, Culture, Diet, Documentary, Economics, Elections, Employment, European History, Family, Farming, Food, Foreign Policy, Freedom, Genocide, government spending, Health, history, Law, Life, Links, media, Newspapers, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Radio, Rants, Raves, Regulations, Talk Radio, Taxation, Taxes, Trade, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 Story 1: Chinese ships caught shipping oil to North Korea — After Winter Olympics Eliminate North Korea and Islamic Republic of Iran Nuclear and Missile Threats — VideosSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageImage result for china ships oil to north korea See the source image

Report: Chinese ships caught selling oil to North Korea

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Is China secretly selling oil to Kim Jong-un? US satellites ‘have spotted Beijing tankers transferring fuel to North Korean ships 30 times in three months’ despite UN trade embargo

  • Satellite images ‘show Chinese and North Korean ships tied together off China’
  • South Korea claims there have been 30 such transactions in just three months 
  • Such trades are banned under a UN resolution adopted in September this year

US satellites have spotted Chinese tankers transferring oil to North Korean ships 30 times in three months – despite strict UN trade embargoes, it has been claimed.

Overhead images appear to show ships from the two countries shackled together for a fuel transfer in the West Sea off China.

Such ship-to-ship trades are banned under a UN Security Council resolution adopted in September.

But according to South Korean government sources, American satellites have pictured large vessels from both China and North Korea illegally trading in a stretch of the West Sea on multiple occasions.

US satellites have spotted Chinese tankers transferring oil to North Korean ships 30 times in three months - despite strict UN trade embargoes, it has been claimed. One picture (above), reportedly taken on October 19, shows a ship called Ryesonggang 1 connected to a Chinese vessel in the West Sea off China

One picture, reportedly taken on October 19, shows a ship called Ryesonggang 1 connected to a Chinese vessel, The Chosun Ilbo reports.

The US Treasury Department later placed six North Korean shipping and trading companies and 20 of their vessels on sanctions list.

It said the activity appeared to show attempts to bypass sanctions, though it has not been suggested that Chinese authorities were aware of the transactions.

Cai Jian, an expert on North Korea at Fudan University in Shanghai, said: ‘This is a natural outcome of the tightening of the various sanctions against North Korea.

The tightening ‘reflects China’s stance’, he said.

Professor of political science at the Pusan National University in South Korea told the Telegraph the reports were easily believable.

He said: ‘There is a lot of under-the-radar on the Chinese side. Beijing does not police the border strictly or enforce the sanctions toughly. This could be that.’

It comes a day after Chinese customs data was revealed claiming Beijing exported no oil products to North Korea in November.

The figures apparently go above and beyond sanctions imposed earlier this year by the United Nations in a bid to limit petroleum shipments to the isolated country.

Tensions have flared anew over North Korea’s ongoing nuclear and missile programmes, pursued in defiance of years of U.N. resolutions. Last week, the U.N. Security Council imposed new caps on trade with North Korea, including limiting oil product shipments to just 500,000 barrels a year.

Beijing also imported no iron ore, coal or lead from North Korea in November, the second full month of the latest trade sanctions imposed by U.N.

China, the main source of North Korea’s fuel, did not export any gasoline, jet fuel, diesel or fuel oil to its isolated neighbour last month, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Tuesday.

Sanctions have been placed on Kim Jong-un's secretive nation after he accelerated his nuclear and missile programmes

Sanctions have been placed on Kim Jong-un’s secretive nation after he accelerated his nuclear and missile programmes

November was the second straight month China exported no diesel or gasoline to North Korea. The last time China’s jet fuel shipments to Pyongyang were at zero was in February 2015.

‘This is a natural outcome of the tightening of the various sanctions against North Korea,’ said Cai Jian, an expert on North Korea at Fudan University in Shanghai.

The tightening ‘reflects China’s stance’, he said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she didn’t know any details about the oil products export situation.

‘As a principle, China has consistently fully, correctly, conscientiously and strictly enforced relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions on North Korea. We have already established a set of effective operating mechanisms and methods,’ she said at a regular briefing on Tuesday, without elaborating.

Since June, state-run China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) has suspended sales of gasoline and diesel to North Korea, concerned that it would not get paid for its goods, Reuters previously reported.

Beijing’s move to turn off the taps completely is rare.

In March 2003, China suspended oil supplies to North Korea for three days after Pyongyang fired a missile into waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

It is unknown if China still sells crude oil to Pyongyang. Beijing has not disclosed its crude exports to North Korea for several years.

Industry sources say China still supplies about 520,000 tonnes, or 3.8 million barrels, of crude a year to North Korea via an aging pipeline. That is a little more than 10,000 barrels a day, and worth about $200 million a year at current prices.

North Korea also sources some of its oil from Russia.

Chinese exports of corn to North Korean in November also slumped, down 82 percent from a year earlier to 100 tonnes, the lowest since January. Exports of rice plunged 64 percent to 672 tonnes, the lowest since March.

Trade between North Korea and China has slowed through the year, particularly after China banned coal purchases in February. In November, China’s trade with North Korea totalled $388 million, one of the lowest monthly volumes this year.

China has renewed its call on all countries to make constructive efforts to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula, urging the use of peaceful means to resolve issues.

But tensions flared again after North Korea on Nov. 29 said it had tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile that put the U.S. mainland within range of its nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile Chinese exports of liquefied petroleum gas to North Korea, used for cooking, rose 58 percent in November from a year earlier to 99 tonnes. Exports of ethanol, which can be turned into a biofuel, gained 82 percent to 3,428 cubic metres.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5214787/China-ships-selling-oil-sanction-hit-North-Korea.html#ixzz52boFYOhA

 

Where The North Korean Crisis Meets The Iran Nuclear Deal

 Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

This article was originally published at Stratfor.com.

By Reva Goujon

By virtue of its military might, the United States has the unique ability to quickly — and credibly — place its most intractable adversaries under existential threat. Command over the world’s most powerful military gives a country options, and the option of regime change can be a tempting one for Washington as it tries to work through some of its more maddening foreign policy dilemmas.

A government living under the constant, lurking threat of decapitation does not particularly enjoy stewing in its own paranoia over what social fissures its enemies can exploit, which allies they can turn and what chain of events could finally push the United States into action. That’s why a nuclear deterrent is such an alluring prospect: What better way to kill your adversaries’ fantasy of regime change than to stand with them as near-equals on a nuclear plane?

This is North Korea’s rationale as the country closes in on demonstrating that it has a fully functional nuclear weapon and delivery arsenal. But Washington’s nuclear dilemma doesn’t end with Pyongyang. Whether Tehran attempts to return to its treacherous path toward nuclear armament rests in large part on just how seriously the White House entertains and attempts to execute a policy of regime change.

Preventing Another North Korea

North Korea is set to prove to the world that it has attained a nuclear deterrent. With the Nov. 29 test of its longest-range intercontinental ballistic missile yet — and plenty more demonstrations to come in the months ahead — the country is on track to show that it could field a reliable, nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States and that it has the arsenal necessary to weather a first strike. The window to launch a preventive strike on North Korea is rapidly closing. And in turn, the odds are growing that the United States, along with the countries in and around the Korean Peninsula, will have to accept the reality of a nuclear-armed North Korea and prepare instead for a pre-emptive strike in case Pyongyang decides to launch an attack.

The result will be a new and unstable pattern of nuclear deterrence in the 21st century, one in which the unique challenges of communicating with the North Korean government will leave the door open to potential miscalculations. More Cold War-era arms agreements that rest on reliable communication among nuclear peers will come under threat. China and Russia, after all, fear that the irreversible buildup of the United States’ ballistic missile defense network will undermine their own strategic deterrents and will have less incentive to abide by obsolete arms pacts as a result. Despite continued calls for diplomacy to bring Pyongyang to the table and somehow prevent North Korea from crossing the nuclear Rubicon, the chances are slim that Kim Jong Un’s administration will trust a last-ditch negotiation. No amount of security guarantees from the United States will persuade Pyongyang that Washington, its allies or even Beijing has wholly abandoned their designs for regime change. Furthermore, Kim has commissioned an assassination campaign with global reach to ensure that any potential alternatives to his rule are eliminated early on. With its survival on the line, North Korea has an existential commitment to achieve its nuclear objectives.

The United States is weighing the risks of carrying out a preventive military campaign to avoid entering the dangerous new global order. But the associated costs of starting a war in Northeast Asia and plunging the world into recession make this scenario less likely. Even though he inherited a near-impossible timeline to neutralize the threat, U.S. President Donald Trump won’t take kindly to North Korea fulfilling its nuclear ambitions on his watch. When the time comes to reckon with this reality, his administration will probably reframe the issue as the product of decades of negligent and ineffective policy. The president will then set his sights on Iran, vowing to avoid a repeat of such a colossal failure in U.S. foreign policy.

In fact, the effort to shift attention from North Korea to Iran has been underway for some time. Trump has made clear that he sees the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the deal his predecessor, along with four other countries, made with Iran to deter it from pursuing nuclear capabilities — as flimsy and wholly insufficient. The U.S. administration, moreover, has expressed its frustration that the deal’s terms inhibit the imposition of economic sanctions in response to other threats from Iran. By decertifyng the JCPOA, Trump meant to send the message that he was serious about confronting the Islamic republic. To strike a deal in the first place, the previous administration and the JCPOA’s other signatories had to focus negotiations solely on Iran’s nuclear program, setting aside broader problems, such as Tehran’s covert support for militant proxies, its development of ballistic missiles and its alleged human rights abuses. The International Atomic Energy Agency and the JCPOA’s other parties affirm that Iran is upholding its end of the agreement. Yet the current occupants of the White House have used infractions unrelated to the deal, such as ballistic missile testing, to blur the JCPOA’s terms and justify reintroducing sanctions.

Iran Recalculates

Consequently, Iran will have much to contemplate in the coming year as it weighs the pros and cons of abiding by the JCPOA. Compared with North Korea, Iran sees a nuclear deterrent as more of a luxury than a strict necessity. Iran’s reliance on global energy trade, its heavy exposure to intelligence oversight from hawkish neighbors like Israel and its people’s ability to channel economic discontent into political change make its pursuit of nuclear arms more perilous. At the same time, the country’s layered political structure, formidable security apparatus, challenging terrain and ability to disrupt traffic in the Strait of Hormuz offer it useful insulation against its adversaries’ attempts to bring down the clerical government. In addition, Iran’s influence across the Middle East gives it leverage with the United States. Either by helping U.S. interests, for example in the fight against the Islamic State, or by hindering them — through threatening maritime vessels or backing militant proxies against U.S. allies — Tehran can influence its dealings with Washington. These factors led Iran to conclude that it could strike a bargain with the United States over its nuclear program to get economic reprieve from sanctions and reduce the potential for a military conflict in the Persian Gulf.

But the JCPOA wasn’t just about the nuclear program. Implicit in the framework was a deeper understanding between Washington and Tehran. Both sides understood there would remain a number of points of contention between them as they competed in proxy battlegrounds across the region. Still, in signing the deal, the United States was downgrading the potential for conflict in the Gulf region, thereby signaling to Tehran that it was taking any earlier plans for regime change off the table.

Now, in trying to directly discredit the JCPOA, the Trump administration risks stripping away those security guarantees and putting Iran back in an existential mindset that could push it onto the nuclear path once more.

A spate of leaks and acknowledgments from the U.S. president himself over the past year have revealed Trump’s disdain for anyone trying to block his Iran agenda and his respect for hawks on Iran policy. (The former group includes Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, while the latter category includes U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Sen. Tom Cotton, who has been rumored to be next in line to head the CIA should Trump decide to replace Tillerson with Pompeo.) The more frustrated he becomes with the North Korean dilemma, the more energy the U.S. president has put into lining up loyalists to try to limit interference in his agenda for Iran. Two key figures in the Middle East have exerted heavy influence over that agenda: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two leaders, in fact, are so eager for the opportunity to shape a more aggressive U.S. policy toward Iran that they are downplaying their animosity for each other and collaborating in the open.

Iran’s leaders will now have to assess how far the U.S.-Saudi-Israeli triumvirate will go in trying to contain their country. Iran still has the benefit of a strong European defense for the JCPOA. The White House would risk a major confrontation with the Continent’s powers were it to attempt to unilaterally end sanctions waivers and reinstate secondary sanctions on foreign firms doing business with Iran. And enforcing additional sanctions would be difficult without buy-in from Iran’s main trading partners. With that in mind, Tehran will probably take care in the coming months to avoid blatantly violating the JCPOA and driving the Europeans back to the United States’ side on sanctions — even as a growing competition with Washington emboldens Iran’s hard-line politicians. At the same time, Tehran will look for ways to strengthen its burgeoning relationship with Russia to counterbalance the U.S.-Saudi-Israeli alliance.

Even if the framework of the JCPOA survives, however tenuously, Iran will still be on alert for other aggressive U.S.-backed efforts to destabilize its political system. After all, if the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia believe that the nuclear deal is fundamentally flawed and that they must compel Tehran back to the negotiating table, they’ll need to find ways to credibly threaten the Iranian government’s continued existence. Iran will be on the lookout for a range of threats, from a concerted military campaign against its Lebanese proxy militia, Hezbollah, to a cyberattack on its critical infrastructure to covert efforts to sow sedition in the Islamic republic. And even if the United States could coerce Iran to renegotiate the nuclear deal, Washington’s reputation for honoring that kind of pact is already deep in question. Agreeing to abandon the quest for nuclear weapons didn’t save Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, as Pyongyang and Tehran well know.

Overturning the JCPOA will compound the challenges the United States faces in finding diplomatic solutions to nuclear-sized problems. Moreover, a nuclear-armed North Korea would only complicate matters further. The cash-strapped country may find its coveted deterrent to be a lucrative asset in a pinch. And should the United States convince Iran of the JCPOA’s impending demise, Pyongyang may have a willing customer in Tehran.

The Luxury of Distance

Trump’s more assertive stance toward Iran isn’t an anomaly in U.S. foreign policy. Since the JCPOA took effect — a milestone that was arguably necessary to reduce the threat of military conflict in the Persian Gulf and to freeze Iran’s nuclear program — the Islamic republic’s economic recovery and re-engagement with the West has threatened to upset the balance of power in the Middle East. Iran, free from the fetters of sanctions, suddenly had more energy and resources to throw into its proxy battles in the region, at the expense of critical Sunni powers. The United States, in turn, was bound to shore up support for its Sunni allies and seek out new ways to keep Iran contained, regardless of who was conducting policy in the White House.

Even so, there is such thing as an overcorrection in policymaking. Trump’s willingness to wholeheartedly endorse the Saudi plan for cutting Iran back down to size sets him apart from his political contemporaries and predecessors. Along with trying to discredit the JCPOA, the U.S. administration has backed Riyadh’s short-sighted campaigns to isolate Qatar and to try to force a Saudi agenda down the Lebanese government’s throat. These moves, all sorely lacking in subtlety, at times suggest an ideological bent to target Iran at any cost.

But the United States doesn’t have to shoulder the historical baggage and the centuries of animosity that drive competition in the Middle East. It has the luxury of distance, from which it can manipulate the balance of power at will. In other words, while Israel and Saudi Arabia perceive Iran to be an existential threat, the same may not be true for the United States. Its removal from the situation gives Washington the space to manage Iran through a more assertive policy of strategic containment that stops short of reintroducing the menace of regime change and thus keeps the country from having to resort to more extreme measures. Therein lies the difference between strategic and ideological policymaking. As the North Korea conundrum gives rise to a more precarious age of nuclear deterrence, that difference will matter all the more.

This article was originally published by Stratfor Worldview, a leading geopolitical intelligence platform and advisory firm based in Austin, Texas.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/stratfor/2017/12/07/where-the-north-korean-crisis-meets-the-iran-nuclear-deal/#56ded7c9e9a6

Scoop: U.S. and Israel reach joint plan to counter Iran

Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after delivering a speech during a visit to the Israel Museum on May 23, 2017 in Jerusalem, Israel. Photo: Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

The U.S. and Israel have reached a joint strategic work plan to counter Iranian activity in the Middle East. U.S. and Israeli officials said the joint understandings were reached in a secret meeting between senior Israeli and U.S. delegations at the White House on December 12th.

What it means: A senior U.S. official said that after two days of talks the U.S. and Israel reached at a joint document which included understandings on countering Iranian actions in the region. The U.S. official said the document goal’s was to translate President Trump’s Iran speech to joint U.S.-Israeli strategic goals regarding Iran and to set up a joint work plan.

At the table: The Israeli team was headed by national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and included senior representatives of the Israeli military, Ministry of Defense, Foreign Ministry and intelligence community. The U.S. side was headed by national security adviser H.R. McMaster and included senior representatives from the National Security Council, State Department, Department of Defense and the intelligence community.

As part of the understandings that were reached the U.S. and Israel decided to form several working groups according to the joint goals:
  1. Covert and diplomatic action to block Iran’s path to nuclear weapons – according to the U.S. official this working group will deal with diplomatic steps that can be taken as part of the Iran nuclear deal to further monitor and verify that Iran is not violating the deal. It also includes diplomatic steps outside of the nuclear deal to put more pressure on Iran. The working group will deal with possible covert steps against the Iranian nuclear program.
  2. Countering Iranian activity in the region, especially the Iranian entrenchment efforts in Syria and the Iranian support for Hezbollah and other terror groups. This working group will also deal with drafting U.S.-Israeli policy regarding the “day after” in the Syrian civil war.
  3. Countering Iranian ballistic missiles development and the Iranian “precision project” aimed at manufacturing precision guided missiles in Syria and Lebanon for Hezbollah to be used against Israel in a future war.
  4. Joint U.S.-Israeli preparation for different escalation scenarios in the region concerning Iran, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

Senior Israeli officials confirmed that the U.S. and Israel have arrived at strategic understandings regarding Iran that would strengthen the cooperation in countering regional challenges.

The Israeli officials said:

“[T]he U.S. and Israel see eye to eye the different developments in the region and especially those that are connected to Iran. We reached at understandings regarding the strategy and the policy needed to counter Iran. Our understandings deal with the overall strategy but also with concrete goals, way of action and the means which need to be used to get obtain those goals.”

https://www.axios.com/scoop-u-s-and-israel-reach-joint-plan-to-counter-iran-2520518565.html

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Story 1: When Will The Chinese People Overthrow The Communist Party of China? — Massive Censorship By Controlling The Internet — Videos

Posted on December 26, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Books, Chinese, Communications, Computers, Computers, Crisis, Cult, Documentary, Elections, Employment, Energy, External Hard Drives, Faith, Family, Foreign Policy, Freedom, Friends, Genocide, government, Health Care, history, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, Media Streamers, Mobile Phones, Natural Gas, Newspapers, Non-Fiction, Oil, People, Photos, Radio, Rants, Raves, Regulations, Religious, Reviews, Security, Speech, Spying, Strategy, Success, Talk Radio, Technology, Television, Television, Terrorism, Torture, Video, War, Wealth, Weapons, Welfare, Wisdom, Work, World War II, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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China hands down harshest sentence yet in crackdown on activists

By Christian Shepherd

Reuters 

China sentenced a prominent rights activist to eight years in jail for subversion on Tuesday, his lawyer said, the harshest sentence passed in a government crackdown on activism that began more than two years ago.

In a separate case, a rights lawyer avoided criminal punishment despite being found guilty of inciting subversion, because he admitted his crimes, the Chinese court trying him said.

Wu Gan, a blogger better known by his online name “Super Vulgar Butcher”, plans to appeal against the eight-year sentence handed down by the Tianjin Municipality’s No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court, his lawyer, Yan Xin, told Reuters.

The harshness of the sentence prompted the German embassy in Beijing to issue a statement expressing disappointment.

Wu regularly championed sensitive cases of government abuses of power, both online and in street protests. He was detained in May 2015 and charged with subversion.

The activist criticized China’s political system online and used performance art to create disturbances, as well as insulting people and spreading false information, according to a statement from the court posted on its website.

“He carried out a string of criminal actions to subvert state power and overthrow the socialist system and seriously harmed state security and social stability,” the court said.

Before his arrest, Wu used his platform to cast doubt on the official version of events in an incident in early May 2015, in which a police officer shot a petitioner in a train station in northern Heilongjiang province.

Wu’s refusal to bow to pressure or admit guilt likely explains his harsh sentence, said Kit Chan, Hong Kong-based director of China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group.

“Wu Gan is being punished for his non-conformity,” she said.

His sentence is the most severe in what rights groups have called an unprecedented attack on China’s rights activists and lawyers, known as the 709 crackdown, which began in full force on July 9, 2015.

The hardline approach to rights activism has shown no sign of softening as Chinese President Xi Jinping enters his second five-year term in office.

In the other case concluded on Tuesday, rights lawyer Xie Yang received no punishment after being found guilty of inciting subversion and disrupting court order, the Changsha Intermediate People’s Court said on social media.

The court released a video of the proceedings, in which Xie said he accepted the outcome and would not appeal. He also thanked authorities and said he will be a law-abiding citizen.

Xie had worked on numerous cases deemed sensitive by Chinese authorities, such as defending supporters of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. In May, he confessed to the charges against him in what rights groups called a scripted “sham” trial.

In January, Xie’s wife and lawyer released detailed accounts of torture suffered by Xie at the hands of the authorities, which were widely reported on in the international media.

Chinese state media branded those reports “fake news” and said the accounts were concocted as a means of gaining attention. Xie’s lawyer told Reuters he stands by the account.

“In both cases these have been serious concerns about violations of due process of law,” the German embassy in Beijing said in a statement.

The decision to hand down both sentences the day after Christmas, when there would likely be less attention from diplomats and international observers, “reeks of cynical political calculation”, said Patrick Poon, Hong Kong-based researcher for Amnesty International.

Asked about the verdicts, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing that Amnesty is biased when it comes to China and should not be believed, adding that China abides by the rule of law.

https://ca.news.yahoo.com/china-hands-down-harshest-sentence-yet-multi-rights-023955698.html

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