People in Kachin state demonstrate against China

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YANGON, Myanmar – The people in the Pharkant area of Kachin state demonstrated against China this week, drawing a cross on the Chinese flag and burning a picture of Myanmar’s military leader Min Aung Hlaing.

“China stands with the military leader,” shouted the demonstrators.

By Htay Win
Photo credit Aye Yarwaddy

200 Chinese ships dock at Philippine reef, Manila cries ‘incursion,’ Beijing says it was just ‘bad weather’

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In a storm that is about maritime rights and sovereignty as the incident occurred on the Whitsun Reef of the Spratly Islands archipelago, which China claims virtually in its entirety.

The Philippines called for China to “stop this incursion and immediately recall these boats.” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, however, moved to calm the situation while asserting China’s territorial claim in issuing a statement that said, “Recently, due to the sea conditions, some Chinese fishing boats have taken shelter from the wind near the Whitsun Reef. I think it is very normal and hope all parties can look at it rationally.”

By Milan Sime Martinic

China buys nearly 4 million tons of corn from the US in 4 days, in possible political move

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A purchase of 800k tons Friday topped a volume greater than 100k for the fourth time this week, resulting in interim purchases of 3.876 million tons, announced the USDA. All sales made on a single same day to the same destination with volumes over 100k tons are required to be reported to the department.

It may not be what it seems, however. “Recent purchases, of almost 4 million tons, may have a more political than commercial motivation, since of the total already committed on behalf of China in the USA– 23.6 million tons–only 7.8 million tons have been loaded so far, suggesting that their need for corn would not be an emergency or immediate,” say analysts at Agrinvest Commodities.

Corn prices have declined in recent years despite deals with China, which is expected to become the world’s largest corn importer due to its increasing purchases of the animal feed after storms and drought damaged their local supply. While farm bankruptcies have been on the increase, up 25% in 2019 alone, and with the debt-to-asset ratio for farms steadily increasing for the past 15 years, the recent large purchases of corn are driving up corn prices globally, and may even contribute to food inflation in some economies.

By Milan Sime Martinic

Russia and China want to build a lunar station together

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Both nations have signed a letter of intent to build a “complex of facilities for experimental research on the surface and/or orbit of the moon,” announced the Russian space agency Roskosmos Tuesday, adding that the program that the program be open to “all interested states and international partners.”

By Milan Sime Martinic

Chinese government and Myanmar military to begin sharing information

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YANGON, Myanmar – The Chinese government has agreed to share with Myanmar’s military information about the Northern Alliance, a military coalition composed of ethnic insurgent groups which has been in conflict with Myanmar’s military since 2016.

The two parties held a meeting about government project safety on Feb. 23. Myanmar military, for its part, agreed to share security information with the Chinese government, according to Mr. Bai Tian, the director general of the external security department of the Chinese government.

In the meeting, they discussed the safety of the gas pipeline project that runs from the western part of Myanmar to the Yunnan province of China through central Myanmar.

The Northern Alliance Organization is an armed organization of ethnic groups fighting for their rights according to the international law. Myanmar’s government signed the 1960 declaration of the UN General Assembly, and accordingly, ethnic groups have a right to autonomy, self-determination or independence.

By Htay Win
Photo credit- Khit Thit

Myanmar university students rally near Chinese embassy, protest SEAFOOD

Myanmar military protest
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YANGON, Myanmar – University students in Yangon rallied near the Chinese embassy Feb. 27 and called for the Chinese government not to cooperate with the Myanmar military.

Protesters in Myanmar suspect that China is transporting hardware devices to build a firewall for controlling the internet in Myanmar. When the protesters asked the question, the embassy told them that China was sending SEAFOOD to Myanmar. “SEAFOOD” is defines as Software Engineering Approaches for Offshore and Outsourced Development.

There are three main telecommunication companies in Myanmar: MPT, Ooredo and Telenor have provided faster internet connections since 2014.

At present, there is an internet blackout between 1am to 9am daily throughout Myanmar, and when it is available, internet connections are slower than before the military grabbed power from the democratically-elected government.

By Htay Win
Featured image credit: Sit Htet Aung

China charging Uighurs with “looking for an argument”

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Uighurs in China’s mostly Muslim Xinjiang province are receiving long prison terms for charges like “looking for an argument,” according to Human Rights Watch, with is claiming the legal attitude amounts to systematic persecution.

Claiming a ned to impose quick and severe sentences in the name of counter-terrorism, Chinese police and prosecutors are arresting and sentencing people who have not committed any real offense, according to the human rights organization. “Despite appearances of legality, many of the people in Xinjiang prisons are ordinary people who have been sentenced for going about their lives and practicing their religion,” said HRW Researcher Maya Wang in a statement.

More than 250,000 people in the northwestern region have been formally imprisoned since 2016, reported HRW, adding it has noted a dramatic increase in the lengths of prison sentences. Since 2017 the number of sentences for 5 years or more has risen from 11% to 87%. There are also an estimated one million Uighurs in “political education” camps in Xinjiang, according to HRW.

By Milan Sime Martinic

China says it lifted 99 million people out of hardship in the last 8 years  -  and 770 million in 40 years -  eradicating poverty from the world’s largest country

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Armed with World Bank data that says China has contributed to more than 70% of global poverty reduction since the late 70’s, President Xi Jinping declared a complete victory against poverty and called it a miracle that will go down in history.

Xi Jinping poverty miracle“Shaking off poverty is not the finish line, but the starting point of a new life and new endeavor,” Xi noted on his Feb. 25 address that his country’s $246b investment into poverty alleviation over the past eight years has helped impoverished rural residents who lived below the current poverty line in 128,000 villages.

Complete eradication of poverty in China was one of Xi’s main goals when he came to power in 2012, a time when 100m people lived in extreme poverty in remote rural areas. China has a population of around 1.4 billion.

By Milan Sime Martinic

There is now a blueprint for energy transition in the US, Europe, and China

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Something that didn’t exist eight weeks ago.

With U.S. President Joe Biden rejoining 190 other countries in the Paris Climate Agreement, basically all countries on Earth are participating in a unified movement to combat global warming.

Under the agreement the U.S. plans to cut carbon emissions 25% from it’s 2005 levels by 2025 and contribute $3b to the cause. The U.S. is the world’s second biggest polluter after China, which last October announced a net-zero target for 2060. The EU is aiming at climate neutrality by 2050.

Biden’s election, as well as the stated goals of other world powers, have caused green energy companies to see significantly increased investment over the past months, a trend investors see continuing.

Global Sachs head of commodities research, Jeff Currie, spoke on the subject this week and said Goldman believed the green capex is going to be worth around $16t over the next decade. He compared that figure with the $10t China spent on green capex in its boom 2000’s, which in real terms is about the same amount.

By Sid Douglas

Chinese Brand Enters Top 10 Most Valuable, Along With 9 American Brands

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Who is Tencent? It’s the largely unknown (maybe because it’s pretty media shy) parent company of China’s ubiquitous WeChat social media app.

Their market cap is $330b, more than JPMorgan Chase.

500m people in China (of 650m total) use WeChat for communicating, finding goods and services, getting directions, and paying for things.

Who else is on the top 10 list?

Google is still #1, for the last 11 years. It’s market cap is around 600b.

After that, there’s Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, AT&T, Visa, Tencent at #8, IBM, and McDonald’s.

Bilderberg Group to Meet on Russia, Trump and “Information War”

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This year’s meeting, taking place in Chantilly, Virginia, near the White House, includes the following topics: ‘Russia in the international order,’ China, ‘The Trans-Atlantic defence alliance: bullets, bytes and bucks,’ ‘The war on information,’ ‘Direction of the EU’ and ‘Why is populism growing?’

It’s the 65th meeting of the secretive group. Kissinger, Thiel, and upper level staff of news organizations like Bloomberg, The Economist, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera and the London Evening Standard will also be among the 130 so far confirmed.

2017 Attendees

Chinese Still Executing Prisoners for Their Organs, Human Rights Lawyers Say

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China has been harvesting organs from prisoners, including prisoners of conscience (those jailed for nothing more than practicing a religion that is not state-sponsored), for years, and despite saying they have reformed the practice in 2015, China is still doing it, according to human rights workers David Matas and Ethan Gutmann.

According to the lawyer and investigator, China “obviously has got a lot of people sitting around waiting to be killed for a transplant, and they’re just picking the right person to be killed depending on who the patient is.”

Chinese businesses profit from transplant tourism — people coming from other countries to get quick organ transplants — as well as meeting local needs. There aren’t enough organs volunteered to meet demand, so China takes them from prisoners. Prison officials coordinate with doctors in China to make this happen.

According to authorities around the world who keep track of people going to China for transplants, the numbers have markedly reduced, indicating that China has made serious efforts, but it has not stopped.

China executes thousands of people per year — around 3 times the amount of the rest of the world combined, although stats are hard to get because China blocks publication of them (it’s currently a state crime), even though Amnesty International and other groups keep track of all executions in all countries.

Many of those executed come from populations China doesn’t like very much, like religious and ethnic minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang.