An MoU on the development of a free trade agreement (FTA) and 20 other bilateral deals were all in two-days’ work for Chinese President Xi Jinping this week during the Sri Lankan leg of his South Asian tour. The FTA, projected to cover trade in goods and services, investment, and economic and technological cooperation, comes after a feasibility study was jointly completed by the two nations earlier this year, to positive results.
The post Xi’s Visit to Sri Lanka Heralds a Coming Free Trade Agreement appeared first on China Briefing News.
The trial of Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti on separatism charges has concluded in Urumqi, Xinjiang, though no verdict has yet been announced. Media were not allowed in the court room, but his lawyer, Li Fangping, told reporters that the defendant spoke to the court for 90 minutes and vehemently denied the charges against him. From AFP:
Ilham Tohti, a former University professor and outspoken critic of China’s policies in the vast western region, told the court in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi he had “always opposed separatism and terrorism, and that not a single one of his articles supported separatism,” according to his lawyer Li Fangping.
The United States,the European Union, and several human rights groups have called for the release of Tohti, who stated his opposition to independence for Xinjiang in interviews, and now faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
[...] Tohti, 44, said in a closing statement that “he loved his country…and that his opinion has always been that it is in the best interests of Uighurs to remain in China,” Li said, adding that the scholar had spoken loudly with a hint of anger in his voice.
He also told the court that it was “unjust,” for the trial to take place in Xinjiang, as all the evidence presented by the prosecution related to his work in China’s capital Beijing, where he has worked at a University for over a decade. [Source]
Human rights activists also criticized the decision to hold the trial in Urumqi. From Radio Free Asia:
“Ilham Tohti is a Beijing intellectual whose household registration is here, whose job is here, and whose website, work unit and students are all based here,” [activist] Hu [Jia] said.
“This is the most important political case in China this year, and it shouldn’t be treated as a local affair,” he said.
[...] Sichuan-based rights activist Pu Fei said the authorities were likely seeking to isolate Tohti by holding the trial in Urumqi.
“I think the real reason is that they want to stop people converging [on Beijing] for the Tohti trial,” Pu said.
“[If that happened], the impact of this case would be much greater.” [Source]
Ilham Tohti’s lawyers were not optimistic about the outcome of the trial as they awaited the verdict. From Jonathan Kaiman at The Guardian:
Although the court has not yet announced a verdict, Tohti’s lawyers said he would likely be found guilty and sentenced to 10 years to life in prison.
“I am innocent,” Tohti said, according to a tweet by Liu Xiaoyuan, one of his two defence attorneys. “I have never organised a separatist criminal group, and I have never engaged in criminal activities intended to split the country.” Tohti has claimed that he spent his career attempting to foster an honest dialogue between Han and Uighurs, rather than advocate Uighur independence.
Police, both uniformed and plain-clothed, sealed off the streets around the courthouse, barring journalists and diplomats from attending the trial, according to accounts posted online.
Prosecutors presented more than 100 articles by Tohti, as well as footage of his classroom lectures, to build an argument that he fomented ethnic hatred in an attempt to split the state, his lawyers said. [Source]
Read more by and about Ilham Tohti, via CDT.
© Sophie Beach for China Digital Times (CDT), 2014. |
No comment |
Post tags: Ilham Tohti, political prisoners, separatism, Urumqi, Uyghurs
Download Tools to Circumvent the Great Firewall
Chinese President and CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping has made it onto the cover of The Economist yet again, and is this time the subject of two articles in the most recent issue. Since Xi became China’s top leader two years ago, he has successfully gained mass popularity through a series of image-crafting campaigns, while at the same time steadily working to consolidate power within the Party. One of the articles outlines the charismatic leader’s presidential tenure to date, asking how his accumulated clout could best be used for China. The article opens by contrasting Xi’s personal cache of power with the policy of “collective leadership” that had guided the Party since Mao’s death:
THE madness unleashed by the rule of a charismatic despot, Mao Zedong, left China so
traumatised that the late chairman’s successors vowed never to let a single person hold such sway again. Deng Xiaoping, who rose to power in the late 1970s, extolled the notion of “collective leadership”. Responsibilities would be shared out among leaders by the Communist Party’s general secretary; big decisions would be made by consensus. This has sometimes been ignored: Deng himself acted the despot in times of crisis. But the collective approach helped restore stability to China after Mao’s turbulent dictatorship.
Xi Jinping, China’s current leader, is now dismantling it. He has become the most powerful Chinese ruler certainly since Deng, and possibly since Mao. Whether this is good or bad for China depends on how Mr Xi uses his power. Mao pushed China to the brink of social and economic collapse, and Deng steered it on the right economic path but squandered a chance to reform it politically. If Mr Xi used his power to reform the way power works in China, he could do his country great good. So far, the signs are mixed. [...] [Source]
A second article reads as a profile, and includes a survey of the personal risks that come with heavily fortified power:
Mr Xi’s bid for popular acclaim, however, does not involve any attempt to shed the secrecy that surrounds the doings of the party elite. Since becoming leader, Mr Xi has not given any press conference about his domestic policies, nor granted any interviews. He has tightened controls on online social networks and launched a sustained campaign against political dissent, including the rounding up of dozens of activists. Even those calling for officials to be more open about their wealth are being targeted.
Mr Xi may enjoy unusual popularity, but there are many Chinese who want changes that he appears reluctant to make: not least a bigger say in the running of their local governments and the protection of their communities from environmental damage. In the years ahead, as the economy slows, China’s new middle class is likely to get more restless. By painting himself as the main man, Mr Xi will have no one else to blame if things go wrong. [...] [Source]
A third article looks at the powerful princeling‘s father, late revolutionary hero Xi Zhongxun, and the postmortem popularity he’s enjoyed since his son came to power:
ASK a resident of Fuping county in rural Shaanxi province what the Chinese president has done for them, and they point to the smooth asphalt road beneath their feet. Since Xi Jinping came to power, the birthplace and burial site of his father has become a national tourist attraction. Xi Zhongxun was a revolutionary hero in his own right; since his son assumed power, he has been promoted further. [...] [Source]
This is the sixth time that Xi Jinping has appeared on the cover of The Economist (Oct 23, 2010; Oct 27, 2012; May 4, 2013; Jun 8, 2013; Nov 2, 2013). The May 2013 cover, which showed Xi wearing the Qianlong Emperor’s robe under the headline “Let’s Party Like it’s 1793,” irked censors in Beijing. Earlier this month, political news website The Paper, a newly launched site that is part of Xi’s new-media propaganda strategy, attracted netizen criticism after selectively translating The Economist’s August 23 article “What China Wants.”
© josh rudolph for China Digital Times (CDT), 2014. |
No comment |
Post tags: foreign media, leaders, leadership, Mao Zedong, political power, The Economist, Xi Jinping, Xi Jinping image
Download Tools to Circumvent the Great Firewall
China Digital Times has made our content more readily accessible to iOS users through our new app, now available for free download at the App store. Readers can easily use their smartphones or tablets to scroll through the latest CDT content, search the site, and toggle between our English and Chinese sites.
Download the App here and please contact us if you spot any bugs or have suggestions for improvements on future versions.