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Posts tagged ‘Land of the Hans’

China to deploy ‘Night Tigers’ to Syria in support of Assad’s forces

29 November, 2017

China will deploy troops to Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, as the East Asian country becomes increasingly concerned about the presence of Islamic militants in its far western region of Xinjiang.

The Chinese Ministry of Defense intends to send two units known as the “Tigers of Siberia” and the “Night Tigers” from the Special Operations Forces to aid regime troops against militant factions, New Khaleej reported, citing informed sources.

Some 5,000 ethnic Uighurs from China’s violence-prone region of Xinjiang are fighting in various militant groups in Syria, the Syrian ambassador to China said earlier this year.

Chinese state media has blamed violence in Xinjiang on extremists who were trained in Syria.

Hundreds of people have been killed in Xinjiang in the past few years, most in unrest between Uighurs and ethnic majority Han Chinese. The government blames the unrest on Islamist militants who want a separate state called East Turkestan.

Uighurs themselves complain of discrimination and say their traditional and religious way of life is being eroded by Chinese domestic policy and an influx of settlers from elsewhere in China.

China has said that “East Turkestan terrorist forces” had posed several threats against the government.

Assad has previously praised “crucial cooperation” between Syria and Chinese intelligence against Uighur militants, adding ties with China were “on the rise”.

Chinese military personnel have been on the ground in Syria since at least last year, training Syrian forces to use China-made weapons.

China has also joined Russia in blocking resolutions critical of the regime at the United Nations Security Council, as one of the five vetoing powers on the panel.

Source: The New Arab.

Link: https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2017/11/29/china-to-deploy-night-tigers-to-syria.

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1st panda born in France gets name from China, first lady

December 04, 2017

BEAUVAL, France (AP) — France’s first baby panda has a name four months after his birth: Chinese dignitaries and French first lady Brigitte Macron chose Yuan Meng, which fittingly means “the realization of a wish” or “accomplishment of a dream.”

A naming ceremony held Monday at the Beauval Zoo south of Paris was an important diplomatic moment, but the young male panda had other priorities. Yuan Meng growled and jumped when zoo director Rodolphe Delord reached over his glass-walled enclosure to offer a pet.

The first lady, who was standing next to Delord, recoiled slightly, but with a smile. Yuan Meng’s parents are on loan to Beauval from China, and the cub will be sent to a Chinese panda reserve when he is weaned.

Tradition holds that China retains the right to name panda cubs born in captivity. Brigitte Macron — considered the panda’s “godmother” — officially announced the name. Over 100 reporters attended the ceremony.

“Yuan Meng and his parents represent the bond between the countries which have a lot to share,” Macron said, who was making her first official remarks since President Emmanuel Macron took office. The pandas “are the illustration of an always productive dialogue between our two people, who for centuries have looked at each other, listened to each other and understood each other,” the first lady said.

Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Yesui read a message from China’s first lady, Peng Liyuan. “The birth of the baby panda is a symbol of the bright prospects of the Franco-Chinese relationship. I express the sincere hope that little Yuan Meng grows up in the best conditions, that he brings happiness to the French people, especially to the French children,” the message said.

There are about 1,800 pandas living in the wild in China and about 400 in captivity worldwide. Baptiste Mulot, chief veterinarian at the Beauval Zoo, said Yuan Meng has learned to move on all fours and “he’s starting to behave really like a child, so he tries to escape from where he’s supposed to be.”

The cub was pink and hairless when he was born, weighing just 142 grams (5 ounces.) He spent much of his first month in an incubator. Now, he weighs 8 kilograms (almost 18 pounds) and his fur has the black and white coloring for which patches are known.

Yuan Meng’s mother, 9-year-old Huan Huan, was artificially inseminated with sperm from partner Yuan Zi this spring. Both are at Beauval on a 10-year loan from China, and their offspring officially belong to the Chinese government.

Indifferent to the excitement at the zoo on Monday, they slept during their child’s naming ceremony. Yuan Zi will probably never meet his son, since the zoo tries to respect the habits of animals in the wild.

China for decades gifted friendly nations with its unofficial national mascot in what was known as “panda diplomacy.” More recently the country has loaned pandas to zoos on commercial terms.

As China aims for ‘world-class army’, Asia starts to worry

By Ludovic EHRET

Beijing (AFP)

Nov 1, 2017

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pledge to build a “world-class army” by 2050 is making his neighbors nervous, but analysts say Beijing’s military ambitions do not constitute a strategic threat — for now.

With purchases and construction of fighter jets, ships and hi-tech weaponry, China’s military budget has grown steadily for 30 years, but remains three times smaller than that of the United States.

Now, Beijing wants to catch up.

“We should strive to fully transform the people’s armed forces into a world-class military by the mid-21st century,” Xi told 2,300 delegates of the Chinese Communist Party, which he heads and which controls the army.

The comments, made during the party’s twice-a-decade congress, were aimed in part at domestic nationalists, but also intended to show other countries “China’s desire to be strong economically as well as militarily,” said James Char, a military analyst at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.

During China’s so-called Century of Humiliation, starting around the mid-19th century, the country lost almost every war it fought, and was often forced to give major concessions in subsequent treaties.

“That’s why China, more than any other country, dreams of a strong army. Not to bully other countries, but to defend ourselves,” said Ni Lexiong from Shanghai University of Political Science and Law.

– Worried neighbors –

But Xi’s call to build a military that can “fight and win” has alarmed China’s neighbors, several of whom are embroiled in tense border disputes with the superpower.

This summer India and China engaged in a bitter, weeks-long military confrontation over a disputed area in the Himalayas.

Japan regularly faces off with Chinese maritime patrols close to the Senkaku islands, which are called the Diaoyu in Mandarin and claimed by Beijing.

And Beijing asserts sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, despite rival claims from countries including Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia.

Beijing has reclaimed islands it controls in the sea in order to cement its claims and installed military aircraft and missile systems on them, causing tensions to spiral in recent years.

“Chinese activities are a security concern for the region encompassing Japan and for the international community,” said a recent Japanese defense report.

“It is incontestable that the country’s rise as a military power is setting off an arms race in Asia,” said Juliette Genevaz, China researcher at the France-based Military School Strategic Research Institute.

“This arms race in Asia has several causes,” she said, noting North Korea’s nuclear weapons program as one of the contributors.

But, “China’s military build-up and reclaiming activities in the South China Sea is a major factor.”

China’s military expenditure in 2016 was an estimated $215 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, putting it in first place in Asia, well ahead of India ($56 billion), Japan ($46 billion) and South Korea ($37 billion).

The country has not participated in any conflict since a month-long border war against Vietnam in 1979 that killed tens of thousands of people and a 1988 skirmish, also with Hanoi, over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, that left 64 dead.

But it has been busy boosting its military activities abroad.

This year, Beijing opened its first foreign military base, in Djibouti. Since 2008, its navy has participated in anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden.

The country is the largest contributor to United Nations peacekeeping operations among the permanent members of the security council, with some 2,500 soldiers and military experts deployed.

The moves are all part of a larger, decades-long effort to modernize the country’s military, which had become riddled with corruption, incompetence and waste.

– ‘Absolute control’ –

But while Xi flexed his muscles at the head of China’s central military commission during his first term, he is likely to observe more caution in future, having consolidated his power base by bringing down two of the country’s highest-ranking army officers for corruption, said James Char.

He also reaffirmed the party’s “absolute control” over the army during the recently concluded congress.

“Now that it’s done, he does not need to risk an external crisis any more. Therefore, we can reasonably expect Beijing will conduct less coercive diplomacy in the near- to medium-term,” Char said.

“The Chinese military will continue to operate further and further away from China’s shores, and probably also establish more overseas bases,” he added.

But, while it will continue to aggressively defend its own territorial claims, “it will likely act cautiously abroad and will not engage in overseas constabulary missions such as those carried out by the US military in Iraq or Afghanistan for example.”

Source: Space War.

Link: http://www.spacewar.com/reports/As_China_aims_for_world-class_army_Asia_starts_to_worry_999.html.

China’s reusable spacecraft to be launched in 2020

Beijing (XNA)

Nov 02, 2017

China plans to launch its reusable spacecraft in 2020, according to a statement from China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation Tuesday.

Unlike traditional one-off spacecraft, the new spacecraft will fly into the sky like an aircraft, said Chen Hongbo, a researcher from the corporation.

The spacecraft can transport people or payload into the orbit and return to Earth.

Chen said that the spacecraft will be easier to maintain and can improve the frequency of launches at lower cost, bringing new opportunities for more people to travel into space.

Source: Xinhua News.

Source: Space Daily.

Link: http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Chinas_reusable_spacecraft_to_be_launched_in_2020_999.html.

China’s Xi looks to party congress to cement authority

August 16, 2017

BEIJING (AP) — China’s leaders have been holding an annual unofficial retreat at a beach resort ahead of a key fall Communist Party congress at which President Xi Jinping will launch his second five-year term as party chief and move to cement his status as China’s most powerful leader in decades.

Xi has been shoring up his authority and sidelining rivals, leaving him primed to install allies in top positions and press his agenda of tightened state control and muscular diplomacy. That appears to include a push to insert his thoughts on theoretical matters into the party constitution and further cultivate a burgeoning cult of personality.

Xi’s moves have also fueled speculation that he may be eyeing a third term as party chief, breaking with the two-term limit roughly established by his predecessors.

China, India soldiers hurl stones at 1 another in Kashmir

August 16, 2017

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Indian and Chinese soldiers yelled and hurled stones at one another high in the Himalayas in Indian-controlled Kashmir, Indian officials said Wednesday, potentially escalating tensions between two nations already engaged in a lengthy border standoff elsewhere.

The Chinese soldiers hurled stones while attempting to enter Ladakh region near Pangong Lake on Tuesday but were confronted by Indian soldiers, said a top police officer. The officer said Indian soldiers retaliated but neither side used guns.

China did not comment directly on the reported incident, but called on India to comply with earlier agreements and help maintain peace and stability along the border. An Indian intelligence officer said the confrontation occurred after Indian soldiers intercepted a Chinese patrol that veered into Indian-held territory after apparently it lost its way due to bad weather.

The officer said that soon the soldiers began shouting at each other and later threw stones. He said some soldiers from both sides received minor injuries. After nearly 30 minutes of facing off, the two sides retreated to their positions, he said.

An Indian military officer said the skirmish was brief but violent and for the first time stones were used. All the officers spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. Soldiers from the two countries are already locked in a bitter but non-violent standoff in Doklam, an area disputed between China and India’s ally Bhutan, where New Delhi sent its soldiers in June to stop China from constructing a strategic road.

China demands that Indian troops withdraw unilaterally from the Doklam standoff before any talks can be held, while New Delhi says each side should stand down. China and India fought a border war in 1962 and much of their frontier remains unsettled despite several rounds of official-level talks.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Chinese troops sought to avoid confrontations and said India should “make tangible efforts to maintain the peace and stability of the border areas between the two countries.”

“I have no knowledge of the details you mentioned, but what I can tell you is that Chinese border troops have always been committed to maintaining the peace and tranquility of the China-India border areas,” Hua told reporters at a regularly scheduled news conference.

The website of New Delhi-based English weekly India Today quoted a report by the Indian military intelligence, which said the use of stones was unprecedented and appeared intended to heighten tension without using lethal weapons. The report said the worst that has happened earlier was an isolated slap or pushing between soldiers from the two sides.

India’s worries over Chinese repeated border crossings into Kashmir’s Ladakh region have seen a massive Indian army buildup in the cold desert in recent years. The disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir is divided between nuclear-armed India, Pakistan and China. The part held by China is contiguous to Tibet.

Associated Press writer Christopher Bodeen in Beijing contributed to this report.

Rescuers gather bodies after southwest China quake kills 13

August 09, 2017

BEIJING (AP) — Rescuers picked away rubble from around a body in an area shaken by a powerful earthquake in mountainous southwestern China, then stood silently in a row, with helmets off and heads bowed to pay their respects.

Tuesday night’s magnitude 6.5 quake killed at least 13 people and injured 175, authorities said Wednesday. It also knocked out power and phone networks, complicating efforts to locate and evacuate survivors.

State broadcaster China Central Television showed footage of orange-suited rescuers finding the body and using detectors to search for survivors in the dark of night, carrying a girl to safety and leading other people along a rubble-strewn road.

Chinese President Xi Jinping called for rapid efforts to respond to the disaster, which struck a quake-prone region bordered by Sichuan and Gansu provinces at around 9:20 p.m. Tuesday. The area is on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau and home to many Tibetan and other ethnic minority villages. It’s also near Jiuzhaigou, or Jiuzhai Valley, a national park known for spectacular waterfalls and karst formations that attracts visitors from China and overseas.

Among the injured, 28 were listed in serious condition on Wednesday morning, according to the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture government in Sichuan. At least five of the dead were tourists, China’s official Xinhua News Agency said. Hong Kong’s immigration department said one of the city’s residents was missing in the quake.

A Canadian woman suffered a slight head injury and a Frenchman was wounded in both legs and needed surgery to remove stone fragments, according to Xinhua. It said Frenchman Maxence Vallon, 18, was staying with his mother and brother at a hotel in Jiuzhaigou.

They were seeking shelter outside “when a big stone fell and hit my brother right in the leg,” said Romain Vallon, who studies in Beijing. The dead included a performer in an arts group who was buried in the quake and found Wednesday morning. She and others had been performing in Jiuzhaigou when the quake struck. According to the Legal Evening News, they were acting out a scene about a deadly 2008 earthquake that struck nearby and killed nearly 90,000 people. When the quake hit, the performers ran off the stage in terror and the audience thought the tremor was part of the show.

The U.S. Geological Survey measured the quake at magnitude 6.5, striking at a shallow depth of just 9 kilometers (5.5 miles). Shallow earthquakes tend to cause more damage than deeper ones. The China Earthquake Networks Center said the quake had at magnitude of 7.0 and a depth of 20 kilometers (12 miles).

It’s not unusual for magnitude and depth readings to vary due to different technologies in use and the timing and distance from where quakes are measured. The earthquake’s epicenter was about 39 kilometers (24 miles) from the county seat of Jiuzhaigou, which has a population of around 80,000, and was 285 kilometers (177 miles) from Chengdu, Sichuan’s densely populated provincial capital, according to the Chinese quake center.

Xinhua said strong tremors could be felt in Chengdu and other cities in the area. Jiuzhaigou county lost electricity following the quake, said a man surnamed Song who answered the phone at a local emergency office in Aba prefecture, where Jiuzhaigou National Park is located.

Xinhua said more than 30,000 tourists visiting Jiuzhaigou were relocated to safer accommodations by tourist bus and private vehicle. On Wednesday morning, another strong earthquake struck in far northwestern China, some 2,200 kilometers (1,360 miles) from Jiuzhaigou, injuring three villagers whose home collapsed, Xinhua reported. That quake was measured at magnitude 6.3 by the USGS and 6.6 by China’s agency and struck in a sparsely populated area of the Xinjiang region near the Kazakhstan border.

Earthquakes are common in China’s west, although casualties are generally low because of the sparse population density. China’s deadliest earthquake this century, a magnitude 7.9 temblor in May 2008, struck the same mountainous prefecture as Tuesday’s quake, killing nearly 90,000 people.

Associated Press researcher Fu Ting contributed to this report.

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