China to US: Stay out of South China Sea talks

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States shouldn't obstruct efforts by China and its neighbors to agree on a code of conduct in the disputed South China Sea, China's ambassador said Monday as President Donald Trump prepared for his first official visit to Asia. Ambassador Cui Tiankai said the U.S. has no territorial claim in those waters and should let countries in the region manage their disputes in a "friendly and effective way." Beijing's island-building in the South China Sea has drawn criticism from Washington which says it has a national interest in freedom of navigation in sea lanes critical for world trade. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson this month said China's "provocative actions" challenge international law and norms. Efforts to forge a legally binding code of conduct between China and the diverse members of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, have long been stymied by Beijing's reluctance to negotiate with nations as a bloc and differences within ASEAN itself. Singapore's prime minister last week said the negotiations were likely to take years. Cui implied that Washington was making that more difficult. "I think it would certainly be better if others including the United States would not try to interfere in this constructive process, would not try to create obstacles to early agreement on the (code of conduct)," he told reporters at the Chinese Embassy in Washington. "I think that this is our hope. This is also the hope of the ASEAN countries." Cui was previewing China's preparations for Trump's five-nation trip to Asia that includes a state visit to China. He said it comes at a "very important moment" for relations between the two world powers — building on progress made when Chinese President Xi Jinping met Trump at his Florida resort in April. The ambassador said North Korea will be a priority in the talks. He warned that tensions over the North's nuclear program could get more dangerous without more Continue Reading

Panama establishes ties with China, ditches Taiwan in win for Beijing

By Elida Moreno and Philip Wen PANAMA CITY/BEIJING (Reuters) - Panama has established diplomatic ties with China and broken with Taiwan in a major victory for Beijing, as it lures away the dwindling number of countries that have formal relations with the self-ruled island. Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela said in a televised address on Monday that Panama was upgrading its commercial ties with China and establishing full diplomatic links with the second most important customer of its key shipping canal. "I'm convinced that this is the correct path for our country," Varela said. Taiwan's government said it was sorry and angry over Panama's decision, and it would not compete with China in what it described as a "diplomatic money game". "Our government expresses serious objections and strong condemnation in response to China enticing Panama to cut ties with us, confining our international space and offending the people of Taiwan," David Lee, Taiwan's minister of foreign affairs, told a briefing in Taipei. Taiwan would immediately end cooperation with and assistance for Panama, and evacuate embassy and technical personnel "in order to safeguard our national sovereignty and dignity", Lee said. China is deeply suspicious of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who it thinks wants to push for the island's formal independence, although she says she wants to maintain peace with Beijing. China and Taiwan have tried to poach each other's allies over the years, often dangling generous aid packages in front of developing nations, although Taipei struggles to compete with an increasingly powerful China. Panama is the second country to switch its recognition to Beijing since Tsai took office last year, following a similar move by Sao Tome and Principe in December, trimming to 20 the number of countries that formally recognise Taiwan. Taiwan had as many as 30 diplomatic allies in the mid-1990s, and its remaining formal ties are with mostly smaller and poorer Continue Reading

Protests erupt over Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 as victims’ families storm embassy in Beijing

The Chinese government demanded Tuesday that Malaysia turn over the satellite data it used to conclude that a missing airliner was lost somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean. Two-third of the passengers aboard the Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that vanished into thin air 18-days-ago were from China. “We demand the Malaysian side to make clear the specific basis on which they come to this judgment,” Deputy Foreign Minister Xie Hangsheng told Malaysia’s ambassador to Beijing. Out on the streets, angry relatives of the missing Chinese wearing white T-shirts emblazoned with “Let’s pray fo MH370” pelted the Malaysian Embassy with plastic bottles and tried to storm the gates in protest while chanting “Liars!” and “Malaysia, return our relatives!” “Tell the truth!” they shouted as Chinese police made no attempt to break up the demonstration. The Chinese cops intervened only when some of the protesters tried to approach the reporters and several scuffles broke out. After presenting a formal letter of protest to the Malaysian Embassy, the angry kin boarded waiting buses and headed back to the hotel near Beijing’s airport that has been their home ever since the plane went missing March 8. The Chinese demand — and the angry demonstration — was met with silence from Malaysia’s leaders in Kuala Lumpur. They have been criticized almost from the start for giving conflicting statements about what happened and they further infuriated the Chinese on Monday by callously breaking the news to the relatives that all hope of finding survivors was lost — by text message. Malaysian Airlines honcho Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said they were just trying to make sure “the families heard the tragic news before the world did.” But the Chinese, who Continue Reading

North Korean Defector Warns US to Take Kim Jong Un’s Threats Seriously

Tomi Lahren: Selective Feminists Cyberbully Melania Trump Over Pink Dress 'This Is Deeply Disingenuous': Tucker Takes Rob Reiner to Task Over 'War With Russia' Claim Greg Palkot got a rare interview with a North Korean defector who warned the U.S. to take dictator Kim Jong Un's threats seriously.Following North Korean threats to test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean, President Donald Trump tweeted Friday that the rogue regime's leader would be "tested like never before."Kim Yeomyong, who says he defected from North Korea two years ago via the South Korean embassy in Beijing during a business trip, said he grew disillusioned with Kim Jong Un and the U.S. should be careful too."He's very dangerous," Kim Yeomyong said. "He is smarter and stronger than you think."He said that Kim Jong Un wants to live long with power and authority.As for Trump's new executive order that cracks down on individuals, companies and financial institutions that do business with North Korea, Kim Yeomyong seemed to think that's the right strategy."If the international community wants to stop watching North Korea's provocations of nuclear weapons and missiles, they need to completely stop foreign money going into North Korea," he said in his native Korean language. "If they can't do that, North Korea will be there forever."Watch more above. Mark Steyn Slams McConnell & Ryan: Forget Multi-Tasking, They Can't Even 'Uni-Task' Big Brother Is Watching: Truck Driver Says Gov't Decides When He Works, Eats and Sleeps Curt Schilling: ESPN & Disney Are Pushing an 'Intolerant' Liberal Agenda 'A Symbolic Attack on the Country': Tucker Takes on Ex-NFL Player Over Kids Kneeling for Anthem Continue Reading

Blind Chinese activist, Chen Guangcheng, under US protection: activist group

  BEIJING (AP) — A blind legal activist who fled house arrest in his Chinese village is under the protection of American officials, overseas activists said Saturday, putting the U.S. in a difficult position days ahead of a visit by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.   Chen Guangcheng, who has exposed forced abortions and sterilizations in villages as a result of China's one-child policy, escaped a week ago from his guarded home in Shandong province in eastern China. Chinese-based activists say he was driven away by supporters and then handed over to others who brought him to Beijing.   The U.S. and Chinese governments have not confirmed reports that he sought protection at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.   A Texas-based activist group that has been active in promoting Chen's case said that China and the U.S. were in high-level communication about the 40-year-old.   "Chen is under U.S. protection and high-level talks are currently under way between U.S. and Chinese officials regarding Chen's status," said a statement from the ChinaAid Association. It cited a source close to the situation.   Chen's whereabouts could be a major political complication for the two countries, with Clinton and other top U.S. officials due to arrive in China for the latest round of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue that begins Thursday.   The U.S. Embassy in Beijing declined to comment Saturday, as have U.S. officials in Washington.   Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai told a briefing earlier Saturday on the upcoming talks with the U.S. that he had no information on Chen's case.   "Your question does not come within the scope of today's briefing. So I have no information to give you," he said when asked about Chen.   ChinaAid's founder, Bob Fu, said Chen's case was a benchmark for the United States and its human rights image around the world.   "Because of Chen's wide popularity, the Obama administration must stand Continue Reading

US, China forge tentative deal on legal activist Chen Guangcheng

  BEIJING — The U.S. and China forged the outlines of a deal Friday to end a diplomatic standoff over legal activist Chen Guangcheng, with Beijing saying he can apply to go abroad for study and Washington saying he has been offered an American fellowship.   After three days of fraught, behind-the-scenes and emotional calls by Chen from a guarded hospital room, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said progress had been made in granting the activist's wish to take his family abroad.   She said she was encouraged by a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement that said Chen may apply to leave the country. Chen has been offered a fellowship at an American university and may take his family, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, adding that the U.S. expects Beijing to quickly process their travel permits, after which U.S. visas would be granted.   "Over the course of the day, progress has been made to help him have the future that he wants, and we will be staying in touch with him as this process moves forward," Clinton said speaking to reporters after two days of annual strategic talks in Beijing.   The quickly announced steps were positive signs that the governments were nearing a deal to end one of their most delicate diplomatic crises in years.   A blind, self-taught lawyer and symbol in China's civil rights movement, Chen triggered the standoff after he escaped abusive house arrest in his rural town and sought refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing last week.   He left six days later under a negotiated deal in which he and his family were to be reunited at a hospital and then safely relocated in China so he can formally study law. But he later upended the agreement by saying they wanted to go abroad.   After arriving at Chaoyang Hospital on Wednesday for treatment of an injury, Chen said he had no further direct contact with U.S. officials for nearly two days, fueling a sense of abandonment and fears Continue Reading

Chinese court sentences US geologist Xue Feng, held and tortured by state police, to 8 years

BEIJING - An American geologist held and tortured by China's state security agents was sentenced to eight years in prison Monday for gathering data on the Chinese oil industry in a case that highlights the government's use of vague secrets laws to restrict business information. In pronouncing Xue Feng guilty of spying and collecting state secrets, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court said his actions "endangered our country's national security." Its verdict said Xue received documents on geological conditions of onshore oil wells and a data base that gave the coordinates of more than 30,000 oil and gas wells belonging to China National Petroleum Corporation and listed subsidiary PetroChina Ltd. That information, it said, was sold to IHS Energy, the U.S. consultancy Xue worked for and now known as IHS Inc. The sentence of eight years is close to the recommended legal limit of 10 for all but extremely serious violations. Though Xue, now 45 and known as a meticulous, driven researcher, showed no emotion when the court announced the verdict, it stunned his lawyer and his sister, his only family member allowed in the courtroom. "I can't describe how I feel. It's definitely unacceptable," Xue's wife, Nan Kang, said by telephone, sobbing, from their home in a Houston, Texas, suburb where she lives with their two children. U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman attended the hearing to display Washington's interest in the case. He left without commenting and the U.S. Embassy issued a statement calling for Xue's immediate release and deportation to the United States. Xue's sentence punctuates a case that has dragged on for more than two-and-a-half years and is likely to alarm foreign businesses unsure when normal business activities elsewhere might conflict with China's vague state security laws. Chinese officials have wide authority to classify information as state secrets. Draft regulations released by the government in April said business secrets of Continue Reading

Knife-wielding man kills relative of US Olympic coach in Beijing

BEIJING - A knife-wielding Chinese man attacked two relatives of a coach for the U.S. Olympic men's volleyball team at a tourist site in Beijing, killing one and injuring the other on the first day of the Olympics on Saturday, team officials and state media said. The man then committed suicide by throwing himself from the second story of the site, the 13th century Drum Tower just five miles from the main Olympics site. The brutal attack shortly after midday was all the more shocking because of the rarity of violent crime against foreigners in tightly controlled China, which has ramped up security measures even more for the Olympics. The stabbing came only hours after what by many accounts was the most spectacular opening ceremony in Olympic history and it has already dampened some of the enthusiasm. "They are deeply saddened and shocked," Darryl Seibel, a spokesman for the U.S. Olympic Committee, said of the volleyball team. The U.S. Olympic Committee said in a statement that two family members of a coach for the men's indoor volleyball team were stabbed at the Drum Tower "during an attack by what local law enforcement authorities have indicated was a lone assailant." One of the family members was killed and the other was seriously injured, it said, without giving details. The official Xinhua News Agency identified the attacker as Tang Yongming, 47, from the eastern city of Hangzhou. It said Tang attacked the two Americans and their Chinese tour guide, who was also injured, at 12:20 p.m. on the second level of the ancient tower, then leapt to his death immediately afterward. The second level of the tower is about 130 feet high. Seibel said the two Americans who were attacked were not wearing anything that would have identified them as Americans or part of the U.S. team. He could not name the coach. "They were not wearing apparel or anything that would have specifically identified them as being members of our delegation" or as Americans, he told Continue Reading

China admits taking, burying US POW from Korea

WASHINGTON - After decades of denials, the Chinese have acknowledged burying an American prisoner of war in China, telling the U.S. that a teenage soldier captured in the Korean War died a week after he "became mentally ill," according to documents provided to The Associated Press. China had long insisted that all POW questions were answered at the conclusion of the war in 1953 and that no Americans were moved to Chinese territory from North Korea. The little-known case of Army Sgt. Richard G. Desautels, of Shoreham, Vt., opens another chapter in this story and raises the possibility that new details concerning the fate of other POWs may eventually surface. Chinese authorities gave Pentagon officials intriguing new details about Desautels in a March 2003 meeting in Beijing, saying they had found "a complete record of 9-10 pages" in classified archives. Until now, this information had been kept quiet; a Pentagon spokesman said it was intended only for Desautels' family members. The details were provided to Desautels' brother, Rolland, who passed them to a POW-MIA advocacy group, the National Alliance of Families, which gave them to AP. In a telephone interview Thursday, the brother said he did not follow up on the information he got in 2003 because he did not believe it. He was not aware it marked the first time China had acknowledged taking a U.S. POW from North Korea into Chinese territory or burying an American there. Two months after the March 2003 meeting, the Pentagon office responsible for POW-MIA issues sent Rolland Desautels a brief written summary of what a Chinese army official had related about the case. "According to the Chinese, Sgt. Desautels became mentally ill on April 22, 1953, and died on April 29, 1953," the summary said. It added that he had been buried in a Chinese cemetery but the grave was moved during a construction project "and there is no record of where Desautels' remains were reinterred." The reported circumstance of Continue Reading

A Smoggy Sunday in Beijing

The view from China Sunday morning, or at least from my perch in Beijing, is hazy.On a clear day I have a terrific view of Beijing's tallest building, the 1,083 foot tall China World Trade Center Tower III but as you can see in the photograph above today Beijing is enveloped in heavy pollution and that massive skyscraper just two blocks away has disappeared.The smog is so dangerous that the US Embassy sent an email alert warning of the elevated pollution and, in accordance with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommendations, advising people to: "remain indoors and keep all windows and doors closed tightly".Beijing is trying to fix China's air pollution. The government knows its citizens want cleaner air and in September it announced a comprehensive plan to improve the air quality.Chinese media is now quite aggressive in its coverage of not just air pollution but other types of environmental degradation. Today's smog is among the top stories on the major news portals, complete with slideshows of the haze. And the most recent cover story of Caixin magazine, one of China's leading business publications, looks at cancer villages cause by pollution in the watershed the Huai River, of one of China's largest rivers.The smog may also impact Beijing's ability to continue to attract world-class athletes to sporting events. Some of the players in the Reignwood LPGA Classic on the outskirts of Beijing took to wearing face masks on the course and at least one participant of the China Open tennis tournament, Sweden's Robert Lindstedt, has been complaining on his blog about playing in the pollution.Even if the new air pollution control measures are faithfully implemented by all the relevant levels of the bureaucracy, it will be many years until China can reverse the massive environmental degradation.As is generally the case with Beijing smog, it will only dissipate when the winds sweep down over the mountains to the north and west of the city, which according to the latest Continue Reading