Cables reveal difficulty of relocating some Guantanamo detainees

CNN, 30 November 2010

Washington (CNN) — The relocation of 17 Chinese Muslim Uyghurs detained at Guantanamo Bay was a thorny issue for the United States, according to cables released by the website WikiLeaks.

Attempts to find new homes for the 17 detainees was met with resistance because of fear of retribution from China.

At one point, Germany considered accepting seven of the Uyghurs. But the government was “subsequently warned by China of ‘a heavy burden on bilateral relations'” between Germany and China if the Germans accepted the detainees.

According to one cable, German Chancellery Security and Foreign Policy Advisor Christoph Heusgen said relocation of the Uyghurs “would be ‘too difficult,’ but that Germany could probably accept ‘2-3 others’ from Guantanamo.”

The document also summarized Heusgen as saying, “If Germany were to take any [Uyghurs], it would be best to do so in combination with other European countries to prevent China from focusing its opposition on any one country.”

Continue Reading →

2010 Nobel Peace Prize will affect human rights in China

The New Straits Times, 27 November 2010

STRASBOURG: Honouring a jailed Chinese dissident with the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize could help improve the human rights situation in the country, the Norwegian Nobel Committee chairman said Thursday, emphasizing that the bestowal is “a peaceful demonstration”, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported.

This year’s awarding of the prize to Chinese pro-democracy activist Liu Xiaobo is “one of the most important” of the committee’s 100-year history,

Thorbjorn Jagland said in an interview with Kyodo News here.

“I think it will have some influence” on China’s human rights development, he added.

Continue Reading →

Dalai Lama won’t exit any time soon

Zee News, 26 November 2010

Dharamsala: Even if the Dalai Lama decides to quit public life, as he indicated recently, his aides say the entire process is likely to take about a year’s time.

In any case, the Tibetan spiritual leader is bound to discuss his retirement plan with the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile which is based here, they say.

Tenzin Taklha, joint secretary at the Dalai Lama’s office, said: “His Holiness only told (a) journalist that he is considering the feasibility of retirement from public life.”

According to Tibetan sources, the entire process of retirement for the Dalai Lama is likely to take around one year.

First, the Tibetan Parliament does not meet before March 2011. And if it approves the Dalai Lama’s exit, that process will take another six months or so.

The Nobel peace laureate’s recent retirement statement has left Tibetans worried. The reason is obvious.

Continue Reading →

US Interests in Southeast Asia Challenged by China

The Epoch Times, 25 November 2010
By Andrea Hayley

WASHINGTON—Southeast Asian countries, which have historically been disposed to friendly relations with the United States while being wary of China, are now trading more with China because it is easier. The result has been new barriers to trade with the United States and challenges for U.S. relevance in the region.

This year China surpassed the United States as ASEAN’s third largest trading partner, and they are on pace to become No. 1 very soon, states Walter Lohman, director of Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation, in a report he wrote for Heritage.

“The U.S. cannot underestimate the seriousness of Chinese engagement in the region. The economic trends are real, and Chinese diplomacy in the region is very effective,” he added.

Lohman says the Chinese have learned to roll with the punches, allowing different aspects of their agreements to phase in where possible, “pushing hard when necessary and easing off at others.”

U.S. trade negotiations require that comprehensive, high standards be met in many areas, and that Congress approve agreements before they are signed. In contrast, Chinese negotiators have unilateral ability to negotiate for access to ASEAN markets, and they are much more ad hoc in their approach.

Continue Reading →

“Switzerland needs to show courage”

Swissinfo.ch, 24 November 2010
by Laureline Duvillard

Switzerland will shortly be starting negotiations with China designed to produce a free trade agreement, something the Swiss have been eagerly pushing for.

swissinfo.ch spoke to Thomas Braunschweig, responsible for trade policy at the Berne Declaration, one of the non-governmental organisations to have expressed concerns.

As the fastest growing global economy, China represents an increasingly important market for Switzerland. It is already Switzerland’s third-most important trading partner, behind the United States and European Union.

A feasibility study carried out earlier this year suggested that Swiss gross domestic product (GDP) could be boosted by 0.23 per cent and industry could make annual savings of around SFr290 million ($297 million) as trade barriers are lifted. If the agreement is reached, it will be the first between China and any European country.

Continue Reading →

Kadeer cautions against China’s ‘sweet’ promises

The Taipei Times, 23 November 2010
By William Lowther

PROPAGANDA:World Uyghur Congress head Rebiya Kadeer said that at the beginning, China had treated her people exactly the same way it is now treating Taiwan

World Uyghur Congress president Rebiya Kadeer told a banquet in Washington over the weekend that Taiwanese should beware of Chinese promises in case “sweet dreams turn into a nightmare.”

“Taiwan now has very good economic relations with China, but do not be held hostage to China’s economy. All people should be able to decide their own political destiny,” she told the annual US Thanksgiving Banquet held by the Greater Washington Chapter of the Taiwanese Association of America on Saturday night.

“It is an extremely scary thing to live without democracy,” she said.

In a dramatic address that drew a standing ovation, she said she had been denied a visa to visit Taiwan by the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who she said had bowed to pressure from Beijing.

Continue Reading →

FACTBOX – Language and politics in the Chinese world

Reuters, 22 November 2010
By Ben Blanchard

REUTERS – China has been promoting Mandarin as the national language for decades to boost unity in a country with thousands of dialects and minority tongues.

Here are some facts about language and politics in the Chinese-speaking world.

* The ruling Communist Party decreed in 1956 that all education be conducted in Mandarin, which is based upon what is spoken in the capital, Beijing, though with dispensation for areas with large ethnic minority populations such as Tibet.

About 70 percent of China speaks Mandarin and its related dialects. The government terms the language “Putonghua”, or “common speech”.

* The Communists also gradually simplified the notoriously complex writing system, reducing the number of strokes needed to write characters. Officials once considered replacing the script totally with the Roman alphabet, but decided it would be too difficult and an affront to tradition. Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and much of the overseas Chinese world still use the traditional, complex forms of the characters.

Continue Reading →

Hillary Clinton: Religious freedom is under threat

Digital Journal, 22 November 2010

Washington – Responding to the U.S. State Department’s Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says “religious freedom is under threat.”

Every year, the U.S. State Department prepares a comprehensive review of the status of religious freedom in countries and territories around the world.
Ms. Clinton says she is troubled by what we see happening in many, many places.

In her report she says, “Religious freedom is under threat from authoritarian regimes that abuse their own citizens. It is under threat from violent extremist groups that exploit and inflame sectarian tensions. It is under threat from the quiet but persistent harm caused by intolerance and mistrust which can leave minority religious groups vulnerable and marginalized.”

Continue Reading →