Tag Archives: Beijing

Beijing reneges on Hong Kong freedom: Manthorpe column

China’s reinterpretation of its 1984 agreement with London puts a large question mark over any deal or treaty the Chinese government signs, warns International Affairs analyst Jonathan Manthorpe in today’s column. An excerpt:


Themis, or Lady Justice, sculpture at Hong Kong’s Central Statue Square Legislative Council Building. Photo by ChvhLR10, Wikimedia, Creative Commons licence

The Chinese government has confirmed what everyone has known for a long time: it was lying when it signed a treaty guaranteeing Hong Kong substantial autonomy, speedy progress to democracy and protection of the rule of law.

Protesters took to the streets in Hong Kong today and burned copies of a “white paper” Beijing issued on Tuesday reminding the territory’s seven million people that their institutions will only be on a loose leash so long as they are “patriotic.” In this context, that means subservience to the will of China’s ruling Communist Party.

There are profound implications in Chinese government’s publication of its position that “the high degree of autonomy of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) is not an inherent power, but one that comes solely from the authorization by the central power.”

The publication comes as pro-democracy groups in Hong Kong anticipate Beijing intends to ensure only its loyalists are eligible to be candidates for the territory’s governor, the Chief Executive, when “free” elections are introduced in 2017. Democracy groups are preparing a mass demonstration to occupy the central business district if the election rules, when they are announced in a few weeks time, contain the expected severe limitations on the process …. read more.*

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Beijing reneges on Hong Kong freedom guarantee.


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Beijing’s Empire Grows in South China Sea: Manthorpe


Southeast Asia. Map: Wikimedia

At what point will Beijing be challenged on its empire-building campaign? International Affairs analyst Jonathan Manthorpe examines China’s latest moves to claim territory and influence in Southeast Asia. An excerpt of his new column:

China’s project to slowly gobble up sovereignty over the South China Sea and, with money and threats to cow the 10 countries of Southeast Asia into subservience, has made dramatic advances.

Beijing will be well pleased with the success of the latest strike in its campaign, which started with the moving on May 1 of the massive deep sea oil drilling rig Haiyang 981 into South China Sea waters that are within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone, but claimed by China.

The provocation led to some ugly confrontations at sea as Vietnamese vessels jostled the 100-or-so ships Beijing sent to guard the rig. Meanwhile on land Vietnamese mobs attacked Chinese-owned businesses. At least two people were killed and Beijing evacuated several thousand of its nationals … read more*


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On China’s dangerous assertiveness — Manthorpe

Backed by its arsenal of modern ships, submarines, warplanes and missiles, Beijing has become increasingly assertive over its territorial disputes with its neighbours,  writes International Affairs analyst Jonathan Manthorpe. The most recent — and most dangerous — case is in the South China Sea, an area of many territorial disputes including between China and Vietnam. An excerpt of Manthorpe’s column:

Schina_sea_88The Chinese government seems determined to provoke a military clash with its neighbours over disputed ownership of islands and conflicting maritime boundaries.

This week’s clashes between Vietnamese naval and coast guard vessels, and Chinese ships defending a deep-sea oil rig Beijing’s state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) has parked in disputed waters in the South China Sea is the most dangerous confrontation in the area in many years.

China is reported to have deployed about 80 ships to the area, supported by aircraft, and Hanoi has sent 29 vessels to disrupt the rig’s placement and operations. The clashes have left sailors on both sides injured and several of the ships damaged in collisions, but no lethal weapons have been used so far.

In these situations it is easy for mistakes or misjudgements to be made, and for violence to swiftly spiral out of control.

It is particularly dangerous because Beijing clearly intended the positioning of the rig to be provocative …  more.*

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Hong Kong’s prospects for reform dire: Manthorpe

International affairs analyst Jonathan Manthorpe writes today on the crisis looming over Hong Kong, and the fraught relationship between its citizens and Beijing. An excerpt:

Manthorpe B&WA crisis is fast approaching in the relations between Beijing and the people of Hong Kong, a relationship which has been on a downhill slide since the territory was returned to China in 1997.

Within the next few months, Beijing is set to decide whether to keep to its promise made before the handover to foster democratic government in Hong Kong, or to continue dictating who will run the territory of over seven million people.

The prospects for meaningful reform in Hong Kong do not look good.

Increasingly, in recent years Beijing has been given little cause to think Hongkongers can be trusted to run their own affairs without causing problems for China’s Communist one-party state.

Months of public consultation by the Hong Kong government on the territory’s future political structure will end early in May.

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Putin’s playbook, Taiwan protests, and China’s ambition

Manthorpe B&W

Jonathan Manthorpe

Beijing claims to own Taiwan and its 23 million people, writes international affairs analyst Jonathan Manthorpe. Amid the student occupation of Taiwan’s parliament, it takes little imagination to construct a chain of events in which the students’ action cascades to a point where China’s leader, Xi Jinping, decides to emulate Russian President Vladmir Putin over Crimea — and press home China’s claim. Meanwhile the Western capitals, that profess to be driven by democratic impulses, have become disturbingly and dangerously inconsistent in their reactions to people power protests. An excerpt of Manthorpe’s new column: 

At the moment, that is unlikely. But events in the human story have a habit of rushing downhill, gathering momentum as they go.

And a Chinese take-over of Taiwan would make Putin’s annexation of Crimea look like a tea party. Not only would Taiwanese resist, but Beijing’s acquisition of Taiwan would dramatically alter the strategic balance in Asia, to the alarm of Washington and all China’s neighbours, especially Japan.

The response by the United States and its allied democracies to “People Power” uprisings against established governments has become more and more confused and inconsistent since the first modern outbreak of this phenomenon in the Philippines in 1986….

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Agence France-Presse posted a video of the Taiwan student protest:


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Triads suspected in brutal attack on Hong Kong journalist

Today’s brutal attack on Kevin Lau Chun-to, a prominent journalist in Hong Kong, raises the specter of Chinese criminal gangs — triads — being called in to suppress campaigners for democratic reforms. An excerpt of international affairs analyst Jonathan Manthorpe’s  new column:

Manthorpe B&WThere is renewed suspicion in Hong Kong that Beijing is using hit men from triad criminal gangs to attack outspoken advocates of freedom in its truculent territory, and to intimidate other campaigners for democratic reforms.

The latest example of the Communist Party’s apparent use of triad thugs against troublesome opponents came this morning when Kevin Lau Chun-to, the recently sacked editor-in-chief of Hong Kong’s Ming Pao newspaper, was brutally attacked after he left a restaurant in the city’s Sai Wan Ho district.

In a classic triad-style assault, Lau, 49, was slashed six times with a butcher’s meat cleaver on his back and legs. He is in critical condition in hospital, and even if he survives it is uncertain he will ever be able to walk properly again.

Lau was reassigned last month after Ming Pao took part in an investigation by an international journalists’ organization, which documented the off-shore assets of leading members of China’s Communist Party regime and their families, including President Xi Jinping, his predecessor Hu Jintao, and former premiers Wen Jiabao and Li Peng.

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Analysis: Japan’s military and Asian storm clouds

International affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe examines the symbolism of Japanese and Indian military exercises, and their relevance to China. Excerpt:

The Japanese and Indian navies are in the second of four days of joint exercises in the Bay of Bengal, an event which neatly demonstrates the gathering storm of military preparations rumbling over Asia.

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Analysis: power struggles in Beijing and Pyongyang

In the capitals of China and North Korea ‘tis the season to be merry, but only over the bodies – real and figurative –  of purged enemies and rivals.

Jonathan Manthorpe’s latest international affairs column focuses on the power struggles in the corridors of power in Beijing and Pyongyang. Log in to F&O first to read the column here.*

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Manthorpe: Echoes of pre-WWI in Chinese claims of airspace

As China ramps up its bellicose stance toward Japan and the United States with the imposition of an air defence zone over disputed territory, the imminent arrival of 2014 is mimicking the months before 1914, warns international affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe. An excerpt:

In the early years of the 20th century, Germany saw that Britain had had to deploy the full weight of its empire to defeat the Afrikaners in the two Boer wars.

Berlin judged the days of Britain’s super power status were approaching their end. It launched an arms race and a flurry of provocations against Britain and its allies, which cascaded out of control into the First World War.

Beijing has made a similar judgement about the impending decline of the United States … read Manthorpe’s column here.*

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Take China’s threats against Taiwan seriously

This time, the world should pay attention to China’s threatening approach to Taiwan, warns Jonathan Manthorpe in his international affairs column today. An excerpt:

Xi Jinping is not the first modern Chinese leader to threaten the island nation of Taiwan with invasion if they do not soon agree to hand their sovereignty to the Beijing regime. 

Indeed, it has become a necessary ritual for Chinese leaders to establish their patriotic credentials by reiterating Beijing’s claim to own the island and its 23 million people.

Usually these pronouncements appear to be largely for domestic consumption, taking no account of the fact Taiwan has been an independent nation since 1949, and has made the difficult transition from a one-party state under martial law to a functional, boisterous democracy.

 Beijing has sometimes gone further than rhetorical bluster. In 1996 China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) fired unarmed missiles into the sea on the approaches to Taiwan’s main ports, as the island’s people prepared to vote in their first free and fair presidential elections.

But context is everything in such matters.

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