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China Reform Monitor - No. 1241

China-DPRK trade gets boost after THAAD announcement;
Indonesia hardens line on South China Sea territories

Edited by Joshua Eisenman
July 6, 2016


August 4:

Over 200 Maasai warriors have used clubs to attack Chinese workers at the railway construction site at Duka Moja, Narok County, Kenya. Fourteen Chinese workers were treated at hospital for their injuries. The local community has been demanding a share of jobs from China Road and Bridge Corp., which is building the railway. Two Kenyan Maasai chiefs and a local resident were arrested in connection with the attack and tensions remain high. Members of the local community are planning to hold another demonstration to protest the trio's arrest and threatening to storm the construction site again,
Kenya's Daily Nation reports. Security forces have reinforced the site and promised the Chinese ample security. This is not the first time Maasai youth have demonstrated against the Chinese-built railway. A few weeks ago, police broke up a protest including more than 300 young men.

August 12:

Despite UN Security Council sanctions, China is importing thousands of tons of iron ore from North Korea. Chinese regions adjacent to mines in Musan County, North Korea are teeming with trucks loaded with iron ore destined for a classification yard near Helong, Jilin or heading directly to Chinese steel mills,
The Daily NK reports. China also recently added express freight trains along the Tumen River to facilitate the transport of North Korean iron ore to local steel mills. The express trains, which run several round trips per day, have dozens of 100-metric ton freight cars, and can transport some 2,000 metric tons in a single shipment.

August 14:

China increased its trade with North Korea in retaliation against Seoul for deciding to deploy the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system. "Chinese companies who had held back on trading with the North, have started to ship more goods after hearing the news that Seoul-Beijing relations have taken a turn for the worse over the THAAD issue," said Lim Eul-chul at Kyungnam University. Customs inspections have become lax along the Sino-North Korean border and sources in Liaoning said that the number of North Korean trucks entering China has jumped twofold from two months earlier. "While trucks only arrived twice a week from North Korea to China just a few weeks ago, they are currently arriving every day, which may be neutralizing the international sanctions,"
Yonhap reports. Interestingly, the trade increase began the month before the THAAD deployment was announced on July 8. Official customs data shows bilateral trade was $503.77 million in June, up 9.4 percent year-on-year.

August 16:

Last month the once outspoken liberal political magazine Yanhuang Chunqiu sacked its reform-minded publisher Du Daozheng and his editorial team and installed new publishers and editors. Despite their initial promise to adhere to "the original editorial line," the publication's new leaders are now insisting that all articles adhere to the official version of history. Among the journal's new writers are air force senior colonel Dai Xu, best known for calling the H7N9 virus a U.S. "bio-psychological weapon,"
the South China Morning Post reports. Hong Zhenkuai, the magazine's former executive editor, said the changes were a U-turn in editorial policy: "These [authors] have been attacking Yanhuang Chunqiu. They are mostly ultra-leftists. By publishing under the same name, they will ruin the magazine's 25-year-old reputation." Former deputy editor Wang Yanjun, said: "[The new writers] directly contradicted our original editorial policy, to seek truth from facts. They're the people who are devoted to hiding the dark side of history."

[Editor's Note: Yanhuang Chunqiu, which had a monthly circulation of about 200,000, had voiced support for constitutional democracy and ran articles that contested the official version of party history. Many attributed its outspokenness to support from liberal retired officials, many of whom contributed to the magazine.]

August 17:

In a speech before Parliament ahead of Indonesia's Independence Day, President Joko Widodo vowed to play an active role in the territorial disputes in the South China Sea and to develop the Natuna Islands, "to show the world that Indonesia is a great nation that takes care of every square metre of its territory." Last month the country's former coordinating minister for maritime affairs Rizal Ramli said that, as part of a new strategy to reinforce national sovereignty, Indonesia will expand the fishery sector's catchment capacity from 9.3 percent to about 14 percent this year. The plan also involves transforming the islands into a tourist destination, tapping the area's rich oil and gas resources, and beefing up defense capabilities,
The Straits Times reports
. Chinese fishing boats are regularly caught poaching in Indonesia's waters. To send a message as part of its Independence Day celebrations, Indonesia destroyed the captured Chinese boats.