Secy. of State Pompeo outlines efforts to contain threat from communist China

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (Nicholas Kamm/Pool via AP)

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UPDATED 8:22 AM PT – Thursday, October 22, 2020

The United States has continued to stand-up to the People’s Republic of China with officials working to eradicate communist propaganda.

In a press briefing held in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed reporters on the growing threat of Chinese aggression. He announced his latest efforts to form a long-term dialogue between the U.S. and the EU in order to protect global stability against communist ideology.

“This Friday, the EU High Representative Josep Borrell and I will launch the U.S.-EU dialogue on China,” said the secretary. “I’m confident that the discussion will deepen our long-term engagement with EU friends on this important issue.”

Pompeo also announced the State Department will designate six Chinese media companies located in the U.S. as foreign missions in a bid to battle the spread of communist propaganda on the home-front more effectively.

“We’re pushing back on the Chinese communist propaganda efforts here at home, too,” he stated. “Today I’m announcing the State Department is designating the U.S. operations of six China-based media companies as foreign missions…they are all substantially owned or effectively controlled by a foreign government.”

Pompeo went on to the slam the Chinese Communist Party by accusing the regime of failing to abide by international rules and backing down on its commitments to other nations as well as global organizations.

The official stressed with the U.S. working with other “free nations” around the globe, more progress can be made to thwart threats raised by Communist China.

RELATED: Secy. Pompeo addresses first U.S.-UAE strategic dialogue

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US sale of air-to-ground missiles to Taiwan sends China a signal

NEW YORK — The White House’s approval last week of advanced arms sales to Taiwan is a sign that the U.S. is putting muscle behind its vocal support for the island’s defense against Chinese aggression.

The sales include SLAM-ER air-to-ground missiles, drones and a coastal defense missile system. According to analysts, the equipment will immediately boost Taiwan’s capability to counter several Chinese attack scenarios. Reuters cited an unidentified official saying the sales are valued at around $5 billion.

If Congress approves the deal — a near-formality given bipartisan support for Taiwan’s defense — the U.S. will have sold around $17.5 billion in weapons to Taiwan during President Donald Trump’s four years in office.

Beijing consistently opposes U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, which the Chinese Communist Party considers part of its territory despite never having ruled it. But the particular weapons being sold make up a diverse, offense-ready package that experts say could indicate a shift in U.S. military strategy, and could provoke China even more than usual.

White House officials have internally discussed ending Washington’s policy of “strategic ambiguity,” according to the Financial Times. The U.S. currently refuses to publicly divulge whether it would provide military support to Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion.

The arms sales, however, send their own message. The Boeing-made long-range SLAM-ER air-to-ground missiles could be used in a counterstrike directed at Chinese mainland targets, or, theoretically, even in a first strike.

“It’s not a defensive weapon,” said Dennis Weng, an assistant professor of political science at Sam Houston State University who has researched Taiwan’s military capability. “The U.S. is trying to send a stronger signal.”

President Tsai Ing-wen, center, watches the annual Han Kuang military exercise in Taiwan on July 17.  The drills are aimed at improving combat readiness in the event of an attack from China.

  © AP

Washington has a standing commitment to supply weapons to Taipei as part of the Taiwan Relations Act, which was ratified after the U.S. formally broke diplomatic ties with the island in 1979.

Yun Sun, director of the China Program at the Stimson Center, a Washington think tank, warned against interpreting the latest arms sales as a sign of a significant shift in U.S. policy toward Taiwan.

“At different times, the U.S. plays up or down certain components” of existing policies governing relations with Taiwan, she said. “If there’s going to be an attack on Taiwan by China, the chance of the U.S. doing nothing and not lifting a finger is going to be minimal.”

Sun described the weapons included in the five approved sales as “precisely what Taiwan would need in an asymmetric counterattack strategy to China.”

Military officials and experts in both the U.S. and Taiwan have long called for Taipei to develop such capabilities to withstand Chinese aggression. U.S. national security adviser Robert O’Brien said earlier this month that Taiwan should become like a military “porcupine,” adding that “lions generally don’t like to eat porcupines.”

“Taiwan right now should consider [its] limited budget and the threats” posed by the People’s Liberation Army and prioritize precision ammunition such as the weaponry included in the latest arms sales, said Su Tzu-yun, an analyst at the government-funded Institute for National Defense and Security Research in Taipei.

The SLAM-ER missiles and Boeing-made land-based Harpoon anti-ship missiles could enable Taiwan to gain “limited sea dominance and air superiority” in a conflict, while the General Atomics-made MQ9 drones would “serve battlefield awareness” if the PLA destroys Taiwan’s radars in a first strike, Su said.

In the past, experts have criticized the necessity of some weaponry included in U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

Taiwan last year agreed to purchase 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks from the U.S. in a transaction that raised eyebrows among analysts skeptical of their utility in a conflict with China.

That sale benefited a tank manufacturing plant in the key swing state of Ohio that the U.S. Army had considered closing. Trump visited the plant in March 2019 and told workers: “Well, you better love me. I kept this place open.”

The weapons Taiwan buys from the United States can be dictated by American politics just as they are by Taiwan’s military needs, said Weng, who also questioned the Abrams tank sale. He added, however, that “any arms sale … will be effective to Taiwan.”

Chinese warplanes during the past two months have more frequently breached Taiwan’s air defense identification zone over the Taiwan Strait, leading to debates within Taiwan over its military preparedness.

Taiwan in 2011 said it would phase out mandatory military conscription in favor of an all-volunteer force, but men of age are still required to serve at least four months. This obligation, however, is regularly derided in Taiwan as doing little to boost the military’s combat readiness.

On Oct. 10, days before the arms sales were reported, Tsai gave a speech in which she declined to strike an aggressive tone and instead reiterated her administration’s willingness to negotiate with authorities in Beijing. The speech marked Taiwan’s national day.

“That’s a very calculated balancing act by Taiwan” and a “significant indicator that Taiwan doesn’t want this to get out of hand,” Sun said. “Neither side is intending to fight a war at this moment.”

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Australia appoints former China ambassador to Japan post

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Thursday the value of Australia’s relationship with Japan had increased with COVID-19.

“Australia and Japan share similar visions for an open and prosperous region, based on our common values of democracy and human rights, and shared approaches to international security,” she said.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the value of Australia’s relationship with Japan had increased with COVID-19.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“This includes working together with Japan to shape global outcomes through multilateral cooperation, including to ensure multilateral institutions are transparent and effective.”

Japan is Australia’s second largest trading partner after China, accounting for $87 billion in two-way trade in 2019.

Ms Adams, a career diplomat, led the negotiations on Australia’s free trade deals with China, Japan and South Korea before being posted to Beijing in 2016, where she was ambassador until August 2019.


The period was marked by steadily increasing tensions over foreign interference and culminated in the Turnbull government’s decision to ban Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.

Ms Adams’ replacement, Graham Fletcher, has negotiated Australia’s relationship with Beijing during its period of sharpest decline as the coronavirus catalysed diplomatic disputes over trade, the South China Sea, treatment of Uighurs in Xinjang and pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

The US has also been bolstering its engagement with Japan, the largest economic power in China’s immediate northeast-Asian region.

US secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the US, Australia, India and Japan to counter China’s “exploitation, corruption and coercion” in Tokyo after meeting its foreign ministers as part of “the quad” in October.


China’s Foreign Ministry has labelled the group an “exclusive clique” that undermines the interests of third parties.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi in October said the quad strategy was a “big underlying security risk” that will “wind back the clock of history” to maintain the dominance of the United States.

“What it pursues is to trumpet the Cold War mentality and to stir up confrontation among different groups and blocs and to stoke geopolitical competition,” he said.

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India Returns Captured China Soldier in Sign of Easing Tensions

India on Wednesday released a Chinese soldier its forces had detained along the disputed mountainous border with China, signaling an easing of months of tensions that at times this summer had threatened to descend into a broader conflict.

The soldier, a corporal who has not been publicly identified, inadvertently crossed the border while helping local herdsmen search for missing yaks, according to the news agency of the People’s Liberation Army, which reported his return on Wednesday morning.

The statement offered no new details about the circumstances of his disappearance, including why he would have wandered off unaccompanied by other troops. He was the first Chinese soldier detained by the Indian military since tensions escalated this year.

The soldier stumbled into an Indian border post at the base of a hill around 2 a.m. on Monday, an Indian official said. He was wearing civilian clothes and unarmed, and Indian officials believe that he was either genuinely lost or sent on a mission to scout out Indian defenses.

Indian forces have surged to the frontier, high in the Himalayas, following a series of incursions by China that began in April into mountainous terrain that India claims as its own, escalating a border dispute that has simmered for decades.

Violence erupted in June, when Chinese and Indian soldiers fought with clubs and other makeshift weapons. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed, as well as an undisclosed number of Chinese. Soldiers have repeatedly confronted each other since then, and at least one other soldier died after stepping on a land mine.

Both sides have sent reinforcements to the border, settling in for the winter dangerously close to each other, in many places only a few hundred yards apart. In September, a few shots were fired for the first time in decades, breaking a longstanding agreement not to use firearms during border confrontations.

The clash has whipped up nationalist fervor on both sides of the border and derailed relations that had in recent years shown signs of warming, leaving little room for the countries’ leaders, Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi, to make concessions.

In September, though, the foreign ministers of the two countries announced a five-point agreement to defuse the immediate standoff, if not the underlying territorial disputes. Since then, Indian and Chinese military officials have held a series of discussions that appear to have made some progress in avoiding new violence. An eighth round of talks is scheduled this week.

The Indian Army, in disclosing the soldier’s detention on Monday, said that it had given him food, warm clothes, oxygen and medical care to “protect him from the vagaries of extreme altitude and harsh climatic conditions.” Conditions along the frontier — where the elevation exceeds 14,000 feet — have become even more forbidding with the onset of winter.

The Global Times, a newspaper controlled by the Communist Party of China that often assumes a nationalist tone, welcomed the soldier’s release on Wednesday, calling it a “positive sign” ahead of the next round of talks.

Jeffrey Gettleman contributed reporting from New Delhi.

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Donald Trump’s tax records shed new light on his business pursuits in China

President Donald Trump and his allies have tried to paint the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, as soft on China, in part by pointing to his son’s business dealings there.

But Mr Trump’s own business history is filled with overseas financial deals, and some have involved the Chinese state.

He spent a decade unsuccessfully pursuing projects in China, operating an office there during his first run for president and forging a partnership with a major government-controlled company.

And it turns out that China is one of only three foreign nations — the others are Britain and Ireland — where Mr Trump maintains a bank account, according to an analysis of the president’s tax records, which were obtained by The New York Times.

The foreign accounts do not show up on Mr Trump’s public financial disclosures, where he must list personal assets, because they are held under corporate names. The identities of the financial institutions are not clear.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with US President Donald Trump.

Visual China Group

The Chinese account is controlled by Trump International Hotels Management LLC, which the tax records show paid USD$188,561 in taxes in China while pursuing licensing deals there from 2013 to 2015.

The tax records do not include details on how much money may have passed through the overseas accounts, though the Internal Revenue Service does require filers to report the portion of their income derived from other countries.

The British and Irish accounts are held by companies that operate Mr Trump’s golf courses in Scotland and Ireland, which regularly report millions of dollars in revenue from those countries.

Trump International Hotels Management reported just a few thousand dollars from China.

In response to questions from The Times, Alan Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, said the company had “opened an account with a Chinese bank having offices in the United States in order to pay the local taxes” associated with efforts to do business there.

He said the company had opened the account after establishing an office in China “to explore the potential for hotel deals in Asia.”

“No deals, transactions or other business activities ever materialised and, since 2015, the office has remained inactive,” Mr Garten said. “Though the bank account remains open, it has never been used for any other purpose.”

Mr Garten would not identify the bank in China where the account is held. Until last year, China’s biggest state-controlled bank rented three floors in Trump Tower, a lucrative lease that drew accusations of a conflict of interest for the president.

China continues to be an issue in the 2020 presidential campaign, from the president’s trade war to his barbs over the origin of the coronavirus pandemic.

His campaign has tried to portray Mr Biden as a “puppet” of China who, as vice president, misread the dangers posed by its growing power.

Mr Trump has also sought to tar his opponent with overblown or unsubstantiated assertions about Hunter Biden’s business dealings there while his father was in office.

“He’s like a vacuum cleaner — he follows his father around collecting,” Mr Trump said recently, referring to Mr Biden’s son. “What a disgrace. It’s a crime family.”

In a misleading claim amplified by surrogates like his son Donald Trump Jr and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the president has said the younger Biden “walked out of China” with $1.5 billion after accompanying his father on an official trip in 2013.

Numerous news articles and fact-checking sites have explained that the huge figure was actually a fundraising goal set by an investment firm in which Hunter Biden obtained a 10 per cent stake after his father left office.

US President Donald Trump (L) and China's President Xi Jinping leave a business leaders event at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at a joint press conference.


The firm did receive financial backing from a large state-controlled bank, but it is not clear the fundraising target was ever met, and there is no evidence Hunter Biden received a large personal payout.

As for the former vice president, his public financial disclosures, along with the income tax returns he voluntarily released, show no income or business dealings of his own in China.

However, there is ample evidence of Mr Trump’s efforts to join the myriad American firms that have long done business there — and the tax records for him and his companies that were obtained by The Times offer new details about them.

As with Russia, where he explored hotel and tower projects in Moscow without success, Mr Trump has long sought a licensing deal in China.

His efforts go at least as far back as 2006, when he filed trademark applications in Hong Kong and the mainland.

Many Chinese government approvals came after he became president.

In 2008, Mr Trump pursued an office tower project in Guangzhou that never got off the ground. But his efforts accelerated in 2012 with the opening of a Shanghai office, and tax records show that one of Mr Trump’s China-related companies, THC China Development LLC, claimed USD$84,000 in deductions that year for travel costs, legal fees and office expenses.

After effectively planting his flag there, Mr Trump found a partner in the State Grid Corp, one of the nation’s largest government-controlled enterprises.

Agence France-Presse reported in 2016 that the partnership would have involved licensing and managing a development in Beijing.

Mr Trump was reportedly still pursuing the deal months into his first presidential campaign, but it was abandoned after State Grid became ensnared in a corruption investigation by Chinese authorities.

It is difficult to determine from the tax records precisely how much money Mr Trump has spent trying to land business in China.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden looks to supporters and members of the press while arriving to a campaign event Friday, Oct. 16. 2020 in Southfield, Mich. (Nicole Hester/Ann Arbor News via AP)

Donald Trump has repeatedly tried to questions the dealings of rival Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

Ann Arbor News/AP

The records show that he has invested at least USD$192,000 in five small companies created specifically to pursue projects there over the years.

Those companies claimed at least USD$97,400 in business expenses since 2010, including some minor payments for taxes and accounting fees as recently as 2018.

But Mr Trump’s plans in China have been largely driven by a different company, Trump International Hotels Management — the one with a Chinese bank account.

The company has direct ownership of THC China Development, but is also involved in management of other Trump-branded properties around the world, and it is not possible to discern from its tax records how much of its financial activity is China-related.

It normally reports a few million dollars in annual income and deductible expenses.

Outside of China, Mr Trump has had more success attracting wealthy Chinese buyers for his properties in other countries.

His hotels and towers in Las Vegas and Vancouver, British Columbia — locales known for attracting Chinese real estate investors — have found numerous Chinese purchasers, and in at least one instance drew the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

During the 2016 campaign, a shell company controlled by a Chinese couple from Vancouver bought 11 units, for USD$3.1 million, in the Las Vegas tower Mr Trump co-owns with the casino magnate Phil Ruffin.

The owner of a Las Vegas-based financial services firm told The Times he was later visited by two FBI agents asking about the company behind the purchases, which he said had used his office address in incorporation papers without his knowledge. It is not known what became of the inquiry.

Mr Garten said the Trump Organization had “never been contacted by the FBI and has no knowledge of any investigation.”

In Vancouver, numerous Chinese buyers of units in Mr Trump’s hotel and tower helped increase licensing fees from that project to USD$5.8 million in 2016, the year it was completed, according to tax records.

The project was built by a Canadian-based firm controlled by the family of Malaysia’s richest man, Tony Tiah Thee Kian, who operates hotels in China and elsewhere.

CNN reported in 2018 that the Vancouver operation was the subject of a counterintelligence review related to Ivanka Trump’s need for a security clearance.

And not long after winning the 2016 election, Mr Trump reported selling a penthouse in one of his Manhattan buildings for USD$15.8 million to a Chinese-American businesswoman named Xiao Yan Chen, who bought the unit, previously occupied by Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, in an off-market transaction.

Ms Chen runs an international consulting firm and reportedly has high-level connections to government and political elites in China.

Mr Trump’s tax records show that he reported a capital gain of at least $5.6 million from the penthouse sale in 2017, his first year as president.

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The Bidens and China Business

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden delivers remarks during a voter mobilization event in Miramar, Fla., Oct. 13.


tom brenner/Reuters

Most of the media is ignoring the emails found in Hunter Biden’s laptop, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t news. Joe Biden has an obligation to answer questions about his son’s influence-peddling and his own financial dealings—notably regarding China.

The New York Post last week obtainedthe contents of a laptop purported to belong to Hunter. The Post has been transparent that it obtained its copy of the hard drive from Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who says he received it from the owner of a Delaware computer-repair shop, where it was abandoned in 2019. Mr. Biden derides this as a “smear campaign,” while House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff calls it without evidence “Russian disinformation.”

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Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe says the government has no intelligence to support the disinformation claim. A repair-shop order from April 2019 contains Hunter’s name and what appears to be his signature. The shop owner supplied a subpoena showing the computer and hard drive were seized by the FBI in December 2019. And the Biden campaign hasn’t said the emails are phony.

The emails regarding Hunter’s business in Ukraine have been widely reported. But as intriguing is a May 2017 email thread that includes a discussion about “remuneration packages” for six people as part of a business deal with a now-defunct Chinese energy titan, CEFC China Energy. The Chinese company was international news a few years ago, after the U.S. government charged a CEFC-funded organization with money laundering, and its CEO was detained by Chinese authorities. CNN reported in 2018 that “at its height” CEFC was “hard to distinguish” from the Chinese government.

According to the emails, both Bidens were in line in 2017 to benefit from a deal with CEFC. One email appears to identify Hunter Biden as “Chair/Vice Chair depending on agreement with CEFC.” It also refers to financial payments in terms of “20” for “H” and “10 held by H for the big guy?”

Fox News says it has confirmed the veracity of the email with one of its recipients and that sources say the “big guy” is Joe Biden. An August 2017 email from “Robert Biden” (Hunter’s legal first name) crows that the original deal was for $10 million a year in fees, but that it had since become “much more interesting to me and my family” because it included a share of “the equity and profits.” The Biden campaign says the Veep’s tax returns don’t show any involvement with Chinese investments.

The Democratic-media refrain is that even if these latest emails are real—again, the Bidens don’t deny their authenticity—they fail to prove Mr. Biden broke any law. But felonies aren’t the minimum standard for political behavior. Mr. Biden was a private citizen in 2017 but was considering a presidential run. A transaction that would have made him—or his son—partners with an entity tied to the Chinese government raises questions about judgment and how he would handle China as President.

Joe Biden ought to clear the air on this China business in his own political interest. Is he the “big guy” in the email? What happened with the deal? China will be one of Mr. Biden’s toughest foreign-policy challenges, and the unexplained documents won’t go away once he’s elected. If Republicans hold the Senate, you can bet there will be more digging.

President Trump, as usual, is muddying the story with inappropriate demands that the Department of Justice investigate a potential crime. But the real burden here should be on Mr. Biden and the press. Perhaps Joe Biden wasn’t involved, and Hunter was using his father’s name to advance his own business interests. But it’s also possible that Joe Biden was aware of the CEFC business and was unwilling to tell his son that he couldn’t trade on his father’s name and position.

Whatever the truth, the public deserves better than Mr. Biden’s Trump-like dismissal of the CBS reporter who so far is the only one brave enough to ask about the emails.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey may appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee to explain the company’s unprecedented speech blackout against a New York Post story that could embarrass the Joe Biden campaign. Images: NY Post/AFP/Getty Composite: Mark Kelly

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Appeared in the October 21, 2020, print edition.

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Taiwan looks to legal action against mainland China ‘to get justice’ for worker hurt in Fiji row

Taiwan is considering legal action in Fiji after vowing to get justice over an altercation at a Taiwanese national holiday event in the South Pacific country this month.The latest incident has intensified already strained relations between Taipei and Beijing, with mainland China recently stepping up military threats against Taiwan.Tensions erupted on October 8 when two staff members from China’s embassy in Fiji tried to force their way into a reception held by the Taiwanese representative…

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Confucius Institutes are wrong target for China frustrations

Edward A. McCord is a professor emeritus of history and international affairs at George Washington University.

At a time when relations between the U.S. and China are worse than they have been in decades and new measures and countermeasures are taken by one side or the other almost every week, it may come as no surprise that academic exchanges are under pressure too.

Confucius Institutes, which are a network of language instruction centers partly funded by the Chinese government, are coming under intense pressure, with many already forced to close.

Most recently, the U.S. State and Education Departments warned local officials that Confucius Classrooms, a sister program for elementary and high schools, represent “an important element of the (People’s Republic of China’s) global influence campaign.”

This followed the State Department’s move to designate the Washington-based coordination center for both Confucius networks in August as a “foreign mission” of the Chinese government. Based on the finding that it is “an entity advancing Beijing’s global propaganda and malign influence campaign on U.S. campuses and K-12 classrooms,” the center will be required to make new disclosures about its personnel and operations.

The campaign to push out Confucius Institutes, however, fails to recognize the value these centers have provided in offering low-cost Chinese language instruction to thousands of young Americans. At a time of increased tensions between the U.S. and China, the need for this type of exchange that can improve cultural understanding is actually greatest.

A Chinese guest teacher stamps a student’s work at Johnson Middle School in Bradenton, Florida, pictured in September 2013: Confucius Institutes have provided low-cost Chinese language instruction to thousands of young Americans.

  © Tribune News Service/Getty Images

While politicians are now the centers’ leading foes, opposition to Confucius Institutes initially began within American academic institutions. Faculty at some universities expressed concern that cooperative arrangements with educational entities sponsored and funded by the Chinese government could create agents for Beijing’s propaganda or censorship or even establish centers of espionage.

What began as questions that might have been appropriately addressed within the academic environment soon became transformed by sheer repetition into charges of fact, even though the evidential bases for assertions of “malign influence” were few and far between.

A 2014 statement by the American Association of University Professors called for the closure of Confucius Institutes, alleging that their operational agreements tended to “feature nondisclosure clauses and unacceptable concessions to the political aims and practices of the government of China.”

However, according to a review last year of nearly all such agreements by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, this claim was simply wrong. Another study of materials provided by Confucius Institutes for classroom instruction, conducted by a group of scholars led by Larry Diamond of Stanford University and the Asia Society’s Orville Schell, found no evidence of Chinese propaganda either.

Indeed, little or no actual evidence has appeared to support the charges of Institute detractors but the line between concerns and actual evidence has become increasingly blurred. When Christopher Wray, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, acknowledged in testimony to the U.S. Senate that his agency was watching Confucius Institutes, this was seen as confirmation that they are centers for Chinese espionage.

Wray, however, later said he viewed the Institutes primarily as part of China’s soft power strategy.

But accepting the arguments of critics, politicians such as Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio moved to call for the closure of Institutes in their states while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has expressed the hope that all of them will be closed by the end of 2020. The U.S. Defense Department has already announced it will end federal funding for Chinese language instruction at universities hosting Confucius Institutes.

Under such pressure from Washington, many U.S. Confucius Institutes have shut down, with only 67 in operation today, down from nearly 100 just five years ago.

In this light, Marshall Sahlins, a prominent closure advocate retired from teaching at the University of Chicago, commented, “We are now in a pick-your-poison, lose-lose situation: either keep the CIs or allow the U.S. government to interfere in the curriculum — mimicking the Chinese [communist] party-state.”

To a certain extent, opposition to Confucius Institutes may be standing in for broader concerns about a lack of reciprocity in U.S.-China relations. It is clear that the Chinese government would not allow language centers funded by the U.S. government to operate in Chinese universities. But it is unlikely that closing Confucius Institutes will change Chinese policy in this regard.

What is forgotten too often is the actual benefit provided by the Confucian Institutes in the U.S. and over 140 other countries where they have been established. In some smaller schools, Confucius Institutes provide the only opportunity for students to study Chinese.

At George Washington University and other large institutions, the focus has been on providing low-cost Chinese classes not only to students but also to members of the broader community. In terms of the thousands of students who have benefited from these programs every year, it is hard to think of the Confucius Institutes as anything other than an unqualified gain for the communities where they are located.

To be sure, there are honest concerns in the U.S. about Chinese actions, including attacks on human rights in regions such as Hong Kong and what many Americans see as threats by Beijing to undermine the international order and U.S. interests.

The question is whether U.S. interests are actually served by making Confucius Institutes a target of American ire.

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China regulator approves Ant Group’s HK IPO: IFR

October 19, 2020

(Reuters) – China’s securities regulator has approved financial tech firm Ant Group’s Hong Kong leg of a planned dual-listing worth about $35 billion, IFR reported on Monday citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.

Ant, backed by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group <9988.HK>, <BABA.N> plans to seek listing approval from Hong Kong’s stock exchange on Monday and the China Securities Regulatory Commission will approve Ant’s Shanghai leg of the listing plan, IFR reported.

(Reporting by Se Young Lee)

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China revises laws to strengthen protection of minors online

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SHANGHAI — China has revised laws to strengthen the protection of under-18s online, state news agency Xinhua reported late on Saturday, forcing internet product and service providers to take action when necessary.

The revised laws, voted for adoption by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee on Saturday and effective from June 1 next year, state that internet product and service providers “shall not offer minors products and services that induce addiction,” Xinhua reported.

Providers of online services including gaming, livestreaming, audio and video, and social media must set up “corresponding functions” such as time and consumption limits for minors, the news agency said.

Service providers must take necessary measures to stop cyberbullying, and parents or guardians of minors who are cyberbullied have the right to inform service providers to delete, block or disconnect links.

The revised laws also force kindergartens and schools to report harassment and sexual assault of minors to public security and education authorities. (Reporting by Emily Chow; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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