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China Reform Monitor - No. 1247

Chinese firms to start work on Laos-China railway;
PLA to help Tajikistan with border security

Edited by Joshua Eisenman
October 14, 2016

September 14:

Newly-appointed Tianjin party secretary Li Hongzhong has the "full trust" of President Xi Jinping, 
the Hong Kong Economic Journal (Hsin Pao) reports. In early 2016 Li was among those that pledged loyalty to Xi and at his appointment ceremony on September 13, 2016, he vowed to "firmly safeguard the party Central Committee with General Secretary Xi Jinping as the leadership core." While serving as Hubei party secretary, Li, a protégé of Jiang Zemin, assisted Xi Jinping and Wang Qishan in the investigation and prosecution of four key officials implicated in the corruption case of former security chief Zhou Yongkang. Li and Chongqing mayor Huang Qifan are the only two provincial leaders to serve on the drafting group of the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee.

September 15:

In December, construction will begin on a 427 km railway linking Vientiane, Laos with the Chinese border. Agreements with six Chinese construction companies and six consultancy firms will be finalized next month, including China Railway Group, which won a $1.2 billion contract. "We have already signed an agreement with one Chinese construction company last year, and we will sign agreements with the other five Chinese construction companies and consultancy firms next month,” said Koung Souk-Aloun, Director of the Laos-China Railway construction project and Director of the Lao National Railway Company. “More work remains to be done including compensation for those affected by the project and demarcation of the precise route the railway will take,” 
the official China Daily reports. The planned single track with a 1.4m standard-gauge rail will have 33 stations and include 72 tunnels with a total length of 184 km and 170 bridges of 69 km, collectively making up 59% of the rail route. It will link with a track in Thailand to form part of the regional rail link known as the 3,000-km Kunming-Singapore railway.

September 22:

A total of 198 Taiwanese citizens have been deported to China from other countries as fraud suspects since last April, Taipei’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) announced. The first instance was the expulsion of 50 Taiwanese from Kenya. More recently, Armenia, Cambodia and Malaysia deported 78, 38, and 32 Taiwanese suspects to China, respectively. Each time the MAC receives news that Taiwanese citizens are about to be deported to China instead of Taiwan, it lodges a protest with Beijing, 
Taiwan News reports. Taipei continues to demand China respect the individual and legal rights of the suspects and allow their relatives to visit them. The deportations have disturbed cross-strait relations and strained Taiwan’s relations with the deporting countries. 

September 25:

After decades of quiet acceptance, Chinese authorities have cracked down on the 1,000-member ancient Jewish community in Kaifeng, Henan, forcing residents to celebrate, learn, and pray in private. Authorities closed the city’s Jewish study center and other community organizations and canceled all public events,
the Times of Israel reports. All public signs of Jewish history in the city have been removed, international Jewish organizations have been stifled, and an ancient well, which is believed to be the last remnant of an ancient Synagogue, has been buried under rubble. The descendants of the Jewish families remain identifiable by their surnames and Jewish customs. “Kaifeng’s Jewish descendants are a living link between China and the Jewish people. After centuries of assimilation, a growing number of the Kaifeng Jews in recent years have begun seeking to return to their roots and embrace their Jewish identity,” said Michael Freund, chairman of Shavei Israel.

[Editor’s Note: China has five authorized religions – Buddhism, Catholicism, Islam, Protestantism and Taoism – but Judaism has been unofficially tolerated since the 1980s. Last April, fifty members of the Kaifeng Jewish community celebrated Passover. In December, a few dozen celebrated Hanukkah. The community, which was founded in the 8th or 9th century by Persian and Iraqi Jewish traders along the Silk Road, reached its height during the Ming Dynasty, when it had 5,000 members, a synagogue, rabbi, educational institutions and a cemetery. Over time, intermarriage and conversion to both Islam and Christianity weakened the community, and by the mid-19th century the formal group had largely disappeared.] 

September 26:

China has agreed to help Tajikistan strengthen security along its border with Afghanistan, 
the official Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran External Service reports. Following a request by Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has committed to build and operate three military commissariats, four military units, four border posts and a training center for the Tajik border troops on the Afghan border. The border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan is over 1,380 kms long and Dushanbe is concerned about extremist and terrorist militants operating in northern Afghanistan and near the Tajik border, Reuters reports

Related Categories: China; China and East Asia Program

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