Displaying items by tag: China
On 22 March the Philippines demanded China withdraw its massive ‘fishing fleet’, controlled by its navy, from waters that Manila has exclusive economic rights over. These boats have been nicknamed ‘little blue men’ because their role is similar to Putin's famous ‘little green men’ (Russian soldiers without official insignia who invaded eastern Ukraine on behalf of Moscow in 2014). For the Chinese navy to masquerade as fisherfolk is nothing new. But this time the sheer scale of the flotilla, a whopping 220 vessels, totally outnumbers the ill-equipped Philippine navy, coastguards, and local fishing boats which have long complained of China chasing them out of their own waters. As China's power rises, so too has Beijing's determination to dominate the South China Sea despite American intervention in the past, and the Philippines’ attempts to prevent illegal control.
Just one of the Christian prisoners in China is Pastor John Cao (60), serving a seven-year prison sentence for ‘organising illegal border crossings’ between China and Myanmar. He made many trips from America to his native China to establish schools and work among the poor before expanding his humanitarian work into Myanmar. He was detained in 2017 while returning to China from Myanmar and sentenced a year later. His defence lawyer and his mother asked prison authorities to deliver a Bible to him. They refused. His mother writes Bible verses in each letter she sends. Please ask God to bless Pastor John and keep his faith strong, and pray for healing from his various health problems. Pray that he will be released early. Pray for his witness to prisoners and guards, and that others would continue his ministry to the poor.
Myanmar protesters burned down and looted Chinese-owned businesses in Yangon. When China's embassy asked the junta to restore order, they obliged and killed scores of demonstrators. The anti-China riots add a fresh international dimension to Myanmar's political crisis. The protesters are angry at China's thinly veiled support for Myanmar’s junta. This backlash is a big test for Beijing, a rising global power and regional heavyweight. Many believe China will not look the other way while its interests in Myanmar literally go up in flames. China has always wanted a piece of Myanmar’s earth metals and waterways. Beijing wants the generals to restart long-shelved plans for a controversial hydropower dam to generate electricity for China, which locals fear will damage the environment and force thousands to relocate. China also needs Myanmar to continue building a natural gas pipeline which will give them access to the Indian Ocean, where China is competing for maritime supremacy with India.
To boost international travel, China has launched a digital health certificate programme for citizens with an encrypted QR code that gives authorities a traveller’s health information. QR health codes on smartphone apps are already required to gain entry to domestic transport and many public spaces. The apps track a user’s location and produce a ‘green’ code if a user has not been in close contact with a confirmed case or has not travelled to a virus hotspot. But the system has sparked privacy concerns and fears it marks an expansion of government surveillance. The certificate, launched on 8 March, shows a user’s vaccination status and test results via China’s social media platform WeChat. It will ‘help promote world economic recovery and facilitate cross-border travel’, a foreign ministry spokesman said. Bahrain has introduced a vaccine passport; the USA, UK and EU are considering similar permits.
Recently, the situation in Hong Kong has changed dramatically. There is great fear that things are not going to settle down or be anywhere like they used to be. On 6 January, over 1,000 police officers raided 73 different locations across the city, arresting 53 politicians, pro-democracy leaders, human rights activists, and others. Chris Patten, Hong Kong's last governor, says that what is happening in the city is nothing short of China's brutal destruction of a free society. The government and the police use many different means to persecute pastors and others. Reports estimate that over 300,000 plan to flee Hong Kong in the coming months. Several pastors have already left, while others have gone underground. The UK will introduce a new visa at the end of January which will give 5.4 million Hong Kong residents the right to come and live in the UK, and eventually become citizens. See
23 January marked a year since the coronavirus lockdown chaos in Wuhan City when 11 million people were isolated for 76 days as authorities tried to contain the spread of a virus that overwhelmed hospitals and emptied streets. Many now fear it could happen again. China announced sanctions less than half an hour after US president Joe Biden took office. A year on, Yue, a Wuhan resident, said he had almost forgotten the chaos in the early days of that long quarantine, but new outbreaks in Hebei in the north of the country - where millions are again in lockdown - brought it all back. ‘The most miserable thing wasn’t death itself. Trying to get medical treatment was more painful than death. Chinese people have a strong capacity to endure disasters. I survived the Great Famine,’ he said, referring to the catastrophe between 1959 and 1961 that claimed at least 45 million lives.
55 Hong Kong activists and former politicians were arrested for subversion under the controversial national security legislation. They were later released on bail without their passports or travel documents. Next they held a news conference where Fernando Cheung spoke. He is a politician who resigned his seat in protest alongside other pro-democracy lawmakers in November. He believes the authorities will press charges after they have sorted out any evidence they gathered via sweeping search warrants executed by over 1,000 police officers. He said this is an effective way to bar them from seeking asylum. Since the national security law was passed, numerous Hong Kong activists have fled into exile. Many believe police may have allowed the activists to go free on bail to avoid fuelling international criticism. US secretary of state Michael Pompeo called the mass arrests an outrage that demonstrated the Chinese Communist Party’s contempt for its own people and the rule of law.
Recently the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) sentenced House Church Pastor Li Juncai to five years in prison and fined him 210,000 yuan (£23,902). His church is the largest in the area, attracting 700 to 800 believers. In 2019, the CCP detained him for obstructing government administration, forcibly removed the cross from the church, removed signs proclaiming ‘Love God and people’, and forced church members to raise China’s national flag in front of the church. The pastor’s son contends that CCP authorities fabricated all charges against his father for taking a stance against the demolition of the church cross and suppressing house churches to tighten its control over religion.
Bob Fu, who lives in Texas, is a former Tiananmen Square protester who now runs ChinaAid and campaigns for religious freedom in China. He has been targeted with death threats and his family were traumatised by bomb threats and protests outside their home as Fu delivered an address in Washington on Christian persecution in China. The threats necessitated the family being evacuated from their home and taken into protective custody. His 15-year-old daughter had to be taken out of school by armed police. Although they have now returned home, they remain under police protection. Fu said, ‘I have no doubt this is directly from Beijing. The goal is clear. It's to silence my voice for freedom in China and to destroy the ministry of ChinaAid. We cannot let them stop us: it's business as usual.’
Beijing and New Delhi have long been at loggerheads over a disputed border in the Himalayan mountains (see ) This led to massive skirmishes earlier this year. The two Asian powers are battling it out over water. China will build a hydroelectric project in one of the largest rivers in the world, which Indians call the Brahmaputra River. After Beijing announced its biggest hydropower project in history, New Delhi said that its aggressive plans could have major implications for India's food and water security, and would give China power to use waterways as a ‘weapon.’ Indian officials are now considering a rival water project in the same waters, from Arunachal Pradesh to Bangladesh. Analysts say that things could quickly spiral out of control because the two powers have not honoured a water-sharing agreement, which usually governs plans and discussions surrounding new water projects.