Monday, June 27, 2011

Caucus Brief: China Releases Prominent Dissident After More Than 3 Years

CHINA RELEASES PROMINENT DISSIDENT AFTER MORE THAN 3 YEARS.  One of China's most prominent social and political activists, Hu Jia, was released from prison after more than 3 years.  Mr. Hu was first detained in 2007 after testifying on China's human rights situation before a European Parliament committee, and sentenced to prison in early 2008.  His release comes within weeks of news that Mr. Hu's wife was being harassed by Chinese police and threatened with eviction.  Background on charges against Mr. Hu from the NYT piece: "The accusation that he had subverted state power was based in part on a caustic essay posted on his blog in which he detailed the torture of two people who protested the illegal seizure of their Beijing home. That essay broadly criticized the Communist Party's human rights record."  

Over the weekend, China and Vietnam pledged to resolve a dispute over competing South China Sea territorial claims "peacefully."  According to Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency, China's senior foreign-policy official and Vietnam's Vice Foreign Minister came to an agreement to "take effective measures to jointly safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea."  No details on specific plans or timings were provided.

U.S., CHINA HOLDING TALKS ON RISING SEA TENSIONS.  The U.S. and China held first-of-a-kind talks June 25 on rising tensions in the South China Sea, with Beijing angry over Washington's support of Southeast Asian countries.  The meeting in Honolulu came only days after the U.S. voiced support for the Philippines and Vietnam in the face of Beijing's growing assertiveness.

SEN. WEBB WARNS PRESIDENT OBAMA TO WATCH CHINA'S MILITARY.  On Sunday Senator Jim Webb argued that the U.S. must refocus its resources away from nation building and towards preparation for looming problems in Asia.  Senator Webb: "Our situation in East Asia with respect to China and China's expansionist military activities has deteriorated.  We are approaching a Munich moment with China and it's not being discussed."

U.S. TO BOOST PHILIPPINE INTELLIGENCE.  According to sources in Manila, the U.S. has vowed to boost the Philippines' intelligence capabilities in the South China Sea.  This claim comes after the U.S., showing increasing concern over the stability of the region, pledged to provide hardware support to modernize the Philippine military.  A statement from the Philippine Foreign Department: "The U.S. official pledged to enhance the U.S. National Director of Intelligence's intelligence sharing with the Philippines to heighten the latter's maritime situational awareness and surveillance in the West Philippine Sea."


CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY NOW EXCEEDS 80 MILLION MEMBERS.  Only days before the party's 90th birthday, the Chinese Communist Party has announced that its membership now exceeds 80 million.  In 2010, roughly 21 million people applied to join the party, but only 14% were accepted.  Membership in the Communist Party brings significant privileges with many jobs and schools only open to party members.
THE SAN FRANCISCO –OAKLAND BAY BRIDGE BEING MADE IN CHINA.  While the pouring of concrete will be done in the United States, the construction of the bridge decks and materials are being constructed in China.

WHY CHINA IS HEADING FOR A HARD LANDING.  An op-ed in Bloomberg explains why China's reputation as an unstoppable economic giant masks serious and worsening economic problems.  From the piece: "China's labor force is aging.  Its consumers save too much and spend too little.  Its political and economic policy tools remain crud.  Its state bureaucracy seems likely to curb spending just as exports weaken, and thus risks deflation.  As U.S. consumers retrench, and as the global commodity bubble begins to dissipate, these fundamental weaknesses will combine in a way that unlikely to end well for China – or the rest of the world."

The Caucus Brief is a daily publication for Members of Congress and Hill Staffers on China news and information compiled by the office of Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder of the Congressional China Caucus.  Email with tips, comments, or to subscribe/unsubscribe.

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