The road that runs along the edge of Shangpu village in south China is littered with the hulks of burned-out cars. Farmers have built tents and simple barricades made of rocks and wire. Police have set up their own cordon in a standoff that is approaching two weeks.
The villagers are demanding free elections following yet another government land grab. They say armed thugs sent by their own village chief attacked the community to pave the way for a new factory on their farmland.
This is the second uprising of its kind in Guangdong province in 15 months. The stalemate comes at an awkward time as China’s rubber-stamp Parliament opened its annual meeting Tuesday in Beijing. Despite China’s tremendous economic progress, the episode underscores the country’s continued lack of rule of law and political accountability.
North Korea has threatened to scrap the armistice which ended the 1950-53 Korean War if the South and US continue with an ongoing military drill.
The Korean People’s Army Supreme Command spokesman issued the statement Tuesday, according to the state KCNA news agency. Pyongyang warned it will cancel the Korean War cease-fire agreement on March 11 if the drills are not halted.
Details of the tentative sanctions remained murky, with UN diplomats telling Reuters on condition of anonymity they hoped to receive the draft resolution at Tuesday’s council session.
The announcement from Pyongyang comes as South Korean and US troops launched their annual joint military drills on Friday. Some 10,000 US troops and 200,000 South Korean soldiers are currently taking part in the exercises.
North Korea had previously warned the US commander in South Korea of “miserable destruction” if the US military went ahead with the two-month-long exercise, Yonhap News Agency reported on Friday.
BEIJING, Feb 15 (Reuters) – North Korea has told its key ally, China, that it is prepared to stage one or even two more nuclear tests this year in an effort to force the United States into diplomatic talks with Pyongyang, said a source with direct knowledge of the message.
Further tests could also be accompanied this year by another rocket launch, said the source who has direct access to the top levels of government in both Beijing and Pyongyang.
The isolated regime conducted its third nuclear test on Tuesday, drawing global condemnation and a stern warning from the United States that it was a threat and a provocation.
“It’s all ready. A fourth and fifth nuclear test and a rocket launch could be conducted soon, possibly this year,” the source said, adding that the fourth nuclear test would be much larger than the third at an equivalent of 10 kilotons of TNT.
The tests will be undertaken, the source said, unless Washington holds talks with North Korea and abandons its policy of what Pyongyang sees as attempts at regime change.
AFP – China has transferred two destroyers and nine other ex-navy vessels to its maritime surveillance fleet, reports said Monday, as it moves to beef up its position in bitter territorial rows with Japan and other neighbours.
Beijing renovated the ships and transferred them to surveillance operations to “alleviate the insufficiency of vessels used to protect maritime interests”, said a report on Tencent, one of China’s major news portals.
China is embroiled in a maritime dispute with Japan that has seen tensions between the two Asian giants, the world’s second- and third-largest economies, at times reach fever pitch.
It is also engaged in a simmering row with its southern neighbours over its claim to vast swathes of the South China Sea.
(Reuters) – China’s military buildup poses no threat to the world, Defense Minister Liang Guanglie said on Tuesday, in an effort to allay fears among Asian neighbors amid long-running maritime disputes.
The United States, Japan and many other Southeast Asian states have frequently expressed worries about China’s double-digit defense spending increases and expanding naval reach, saying Beijing’s plans lack transparency.
“There is absolutely no need for that,” Liang told Reuters, when asked about neighbors’ concerns.
“The Chinese military must develop, but there’s no ‘worry’ or ‘fear’ as the outside world says,” he said before a meeting with visiting U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. “That’s not what China is about.”
China’s growing military influence has coincided with a more assertive diplomatic tone, evident in rows with Japan and Southeast Asia over disputed islands. China has also told the United States, with President Barack Obama’s “pivot” to Asia, not to get involved.
Liang, speaking at China’s Defense Ministry, stressed the need for cooperation between Beijing and Washington, which has called on China to share more about its military ambitions.
“We should develop the ties between us, between our two militaries, touch on some of our differences, resolve conflicting views,” Liang said before meeting Mabus.
Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng appealed to US President Barack Obama to help get him and his family out of China, saying he feared for his life just hours after leaving the US embassy in Beijing.
“I would like to say to President Obama: please do everything you can to get our family out,” Chen told CNN, according to a translation of his quote.
He also accused US embassy officials of pushing him hard to leave the safety of the embassy on Wednesday where he had sought refuge for six days after fleeing his home in the eastern province of Shandong.
“The embassy kept lobbying me to leave and promised to have people stay with me in the hospital, but this afternoon, as soon as I checked into the hospital room, I noticed they were all gone,” Chen told CNN by phone.
CNN correspondent Stan Grant said he interviewed Chen, who is in a Beijing hospital, at around 3:00 am Thursday (1900 GMT Wednesday) with his wife sitting by his bedside. The US network aired two short audio clips of the interview.
Chen’s comments came hours after US-based rights group China Aid said the dissident had “reluctantly” left the embassy and that it had been told by “reliable sources” that Beijing had made threats against his relatives.
That claim came despite US officials saying after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in China for pre-arranged talks that Beijing had pledged Chen and his family would be treated “humanely” and moved to a safe place.
Victoria Nuland, State Department spokeswoman, denied threats were made, but said Chinese officials had made clear Chen’s family would be returned to their home in Shandong — where they suffered repeated abuse — if he remained at the embassy.
China Aid said in a statement: “Chen’s decision for departure from the US embassy was done reluctantly because ‘serious threat to his immediate family members were made by Chinese government’ if Chen refused to accept the Chinese government’s offer.
“We are deeply concerned about this sad development if the reports about Chen’s involuntary departure (from the US embassy are) true,” added the group, run by the exiled Chinese activist Bob Fu, who has been in close touch with Chen and his supporters.
Zeng Jinyan, wife of the dissident activist Hu Jia, who met with Chen after his dramatic flight from house arrest, also claimed that Chen “did not want to leave the embassy”, citing the wife of the blind campaigner.
Chen, who riled Chinese authorities by exposing forced abortions and sterilisations under the “one-child” policy, fled house arrest on April 22 and sought refuge in the US embassy, where he demanded assurances on his freedom.
In a video address to Premier Wen Jiabao released after his escape, the activist alleged he and his wife and young child had suffered repeated abuses at the hands of local officials in his hometown.
Clinton said the United States remained “committed” to the 40-year-old legal campaigner, whose treatment she has repeatedly criticised in the past.
But China’s foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said: “What the US needs to do is to stop misleading the public and stop making every excuse to shift responsibility and conceal its own wrongdoing.”
Chen spoke to Clinton by telephone soon after he left the embassy for a nearby hospital, where he was treated for an injury sustained during his escape and reunited with his family, a senior US official said.
“After saying in Chinese how grateful he was that she had mentioned him in the past and supported his case, he said in broken English, ‘I want to kiss you’,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
US officials also said that, while in the embassy, Chen never sought passage to the United States and instead wanted to live and work in China alongside his family.
Any renewed abuse against Chen could prove to be a political nightmare for Obama’s administration, which has faced calls to show its commitment to defend human rights in China.
The case threatens to overshadow the annual meeting between leaders of the world’s two largest economies on key issues ranging from North Korea’s recent rocket launch to Syria.
Despite Wednesday’s agreement, Beijing demanded that the United States apologise for what it called “interference” in its affairs.
“China is very unhappy over this. The US action is an interference in China’s internal affairs and China cannot accept it,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu said.
A US official said there would be no repeat of the incident, but declined to comment on China’s call for an apology.
Chen’s flight came despite round-the-clock surveillance at his home in Shandong, where he has alleged that he and his family suffered severe beatings after he ended a four-year jail term in 2010.
In the video released after his escape, he appealed to Wen to punish several local officials he said had made his family’s life a misery.
BEIJING — Numerous Web sites remained shut down Sunday as the communist government sought to penalize popular social media sites for circulating rumors of a coup.
State-run Xinhua News Agency said Beijing police questioned and admonished an unspecified number of Internet users and detained six people for “fabricating or spreading” online rumors. The government shut down 16 Websites including two Twitterlike services that have more than 250 million users.
The microblogging services — known as weibo in Chinese — Sina and Tencent were disabled so that their comment functions could “clean up” rumors that included talk of “military vehicles entering Beijing and something wrong going on in Beijing,” the state Internet Information Office told Xinhua.
Twitter, like Facebook and YouTube, is banned because the Chinese government wanted more control over the services.
(04-02) 00:04 PDT BEIJING, China (AP) –
Dozens of Tibetans have set themselves on fire over the past year to protest Chinese rule, sometimes drinking kerosene to make the flames explode from within, in one of the biggest waves of political self-immolations in recent history.
But the stunning protests are going largely unnoticed in the wider world — due in part to a smothering Chinese security crackdown in the region that prevents journalists from covering them.
While a single fruit seller in Tunisia who lit himself on fire in December 2010 is credited with igniting the Arab Spring democracy movement, the Tibetan self-immolations have so far failed to prompt the changes the protesters demand: an end to government interference in their religion and a return of the exiled Dalai Lama.
Still, experts describe self-immolations as, historically, a powerful form of protest, and the ones in Tibet might yet lead to some broader uprising or stir greater international pressure on Beijing.
BO? Coincidence (B.O.?)
Chinese police have arrested six people and shut 16 websites after rumours were spread that military vehicles were on the streets of Beijing, officials say.
The web posts were picked up last week by media outlets around the world, amid uncertainty caused by the ouster of top political leader Bo Xilai.
The State Internet Information Office (SIIO) said the rumours had a “very bad influence on the public”.
Two popular microblogs have temporarily stopped users from posting comments.
The two sites, Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo, are still letting people post to their own sites. But they said commenting on other people’s posts would be disabled between 31 March and 3 April, so they “could act to stop the spread of rumours”.
A spokesman for the SIIO told state news agency Xinhua earlier that the two websites had been “criticised and punished accordingly”.
In a country where there is very little information from the authorities, rumours take on an added value in a way they perhaps would not in other countries.
I think this just shows you the Chinese authorities will move to close down any kind of public debate if they can.
He added that that a number of other people had been “admonished or educated”.
China’s top leaders are grappling with the biggest political crisis they have faced for years, the BBC’s Michael Bristow reports from Beijing.
The country will begin a once-in-a-decade leadership change later this year. But one of the main contenders for promotion – Bo Xilai – has just been sacked, suggesting a fierce fight behind the scenes for control of the ruling Communist Party.
Mr Bo was removed from his post amid allegations that his police chief and former ally had tried to seek asylum at a US consulate.
Chinese censors had previously blocked searches on various sites for terms linked to Mr Bo.
There have also been lurid, and unsubstantiated, rumours that Mr Bo’s fall was also linked to the death of a British businessman, Neil Heywood, who last year was found dead in a hotel room in Chongqing, the city where Mr Bo was Communist Party chief.
The People’s Daily, the party’s main newspaper, said in a commentary: “Internet rumours and lies packaged as ‘facts’ will turn conjecture into ‘reality,’ stir up trouble online and disturb people’s minds.
“If allowed to run amok, they will seriously disrupt social order, affect social stability and harm social integrity.”
Our correspondent says that while there is no evidence to substantiate the rumours of a coup, the party is clearly upset.
From other news sites
Reuters UK China shuts websites, detains six for spreading online rumors 27 hrs ago
East African Standard China arrests six people over coup rumours 31 hrs ago
MSN UK Websites shut amid China coup talk 31 hrs ago
Yahoo! UK and Ireland China shuts websites, detains six for spreading online rumours 35 hrs ago
Bangladesh Daily Star China arrests over coup rumours 39 hrs ago
U.S. intelligence agencies monitoring China’s Internet say that from March 14 to Wednesday bloggers circulated alarming reports of tanks entering Beijing and shots being fired in the city as part of what is said to have been a high-level political battle among party leaders – and even a possible military coup.
The Internet discussions included photos posted online of tanks and other military vehicles moving around Beijing.
The reports followed the ouster last week of senior Politburo member and Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai, who was linked to corruption, but who is said to remain close to China’s increasingly nationalistic military.
Chinese microblogging sites Sina Weibo, QQ Weibo, and the bulletin board of the search engine Baidu all reported “abnormalities” in Beijing on the night of March 19.
The comments included rumors of the downfall of the Shanghai leadership faction and a possible “military coup,” along with reports of gunfire on Beijing’s Changan Street. The reports were quickly removed by Chinese censors shortly after postings and could no longer be accessed by Wednesday.
The unusual postings included reports that military vehicles were sent to control Changan Street, along with plainclothes police officers and metal barriers.
Another posting quoted internal sources as saying senior Communist Party leaders are divided over the ouster of Mr. Bo. The divide was said to pit Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and against party security forces and Minister of Public Security Zhou Yongkang.
Late Wednesday, another alarming indicator came when Beijing authorities ordered all levels of public-security and internal-security forces under Mr. Zhou to conduct nationwide study sessions, although Mr. Zhou’s name was not on the order – a sign his future may be in doubt.
Additional references on Chinese social media included vague mention of high-level party political struggles and related police activity in Beijing.
One posting referred to a mysterious atmosphere in Beijing and a reported shooting Tuesday night. The posting was quickly censored by authorities.