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China Reform Monitor - No. 1284.

DRPK attacks Beijing in scathing editorial;
China eyes Third Pole National Park encompassing Tibet

Edited by Joshua Eisenman
May 26, 2017

April 17:

A 2,520 km crude oil pipeline from Kyaukpyu, Myanmar to Ruili in China's Yunnan province is now operational however fighting between Myanmar's army and ethnic minority insurgent groups remains a serious security risk,
the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports. In November, three armed ethnic groups in northern Myanmar launched a coordinated attack on government military outposts and police stations, halting cross-border trade and prompting thousands of refugees to seek asylum in China. For now, rebel groups have an incentive not to attack the pipeline because they fear Chinese retribution. However, the conflict may evolve in unpredictable ways that render the pipeline vulnerable to attack. "China has to carefully operate the pipeline by preventing oil leakage and promptly addressing other environmental concerns, and all the while provide more transparency in decision making," said Peng Nian, a foreign policy specialist based in Hong Kong. Local communities have long opposed the pipeline and at one point encircled the site and halted construction.

April 18:

Chinese authorities have conducted an armed raid on three suspected terrorists accused of organizing terrorism operations overseas. The key suspect, whose name was not given, and several others were arrested as part of a special forces operation in Sanya, Hainan. "When he was in Turkey, he had a team of more than 100 people under his command. He himself was an organizer," Wu Tengfei, a member of the anti-terror squad said in
comments carried by SCMP. The men and their families had fled to Hainan from Yunnan in an attempt to flee China. Video footage showed a team of anti-terror paramilitary police officers carrying guns and wearing helmets and bulletproof vests entering a residential building and using their guns to press the men to the floor.

April 21:

North Korea's official KCNA news agency has published a scathing editorial titled "Are you good at dancing to the tune of others?" in a thinly-veiled attack directed at China. “The country is talking rubbish that the DPRK has to reconsider the importance of relations with it and that it can help preserve security of the DPRK and offer necessary support and aid for its economic prosperity, claiming the latter will not be able to survive the strict ‘economic sanctions.' The question is what the DPRK should call that country and how the DPRK should deal with it in the future. If that country keeps applying economic sanctions on the DPRK while dancing to the tune of someone after misjudging the will of the DPRK, it may be applauded by the enemies of the DPRK but it should get itself ready to face the catastrophic consequences in the relations with the DPRK.”
April 22:

This summer, the Chinese government will conduct the largest ever scientific survey of the Tibetan plateau,
SCMP reports. The Third Pole Environment program includes dozens of scientists, including some from neighboring countries such as Nepal and Pakistan. India, which has border disputes with China, has refused to participate. The researchers are using advanced technology including drones and new Earth-observation satellites to draw the boundary of the Third Pole National Park. The massive park will cover the entire Tibetan plateau and surrounding mountains mainly in Qinghai, an area of more than 2.5 million sq. km, compared to the 972,000 sq. km Northeast Greenland National Park in Greenland. "The government has decided to keep the natural resources in Tibet as a strategic reserve. We will not tap this last resort as long as we can buy oil and ores cheaply from overseas. Even if Tibet's economy grows at double-digit rates, it will not contribute much to China's gross domestic product. The future generations will thank us for what we do today." said Wang Shiping, at the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research.
There are concerns about the ambitious plan. Unlike the Greenland park, which has no residents, the Tibetan plateau is home to about 7.8 million people. Liu Jingshi at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' (CAS) Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research said the Third Pole National Park would be difficult to manage. "It's just too big for a park," he said. Liu's colleague, Yi Chaolu, added: "To establish the park or not may go beyond science. It is also a political issue." Last month, President Xi Jinping instructed CAS vice-president Liu Weiping to protect the Tibetan plateau and said he regarded it as an environmental and ecological imperative.

April 27

China is now ranked 176 out of 180 nations for press freedom according to the latest rankings by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), with
North Korea ranked in the last slot, Radio Free Asia reports
. RSF identified President Xi Jinping as the world's "leading censor and press freedom predator." More than 100 journalists and bloggers are currently behind bars in China, including three former winners of RSF press freedom awards: Huang Qi, of the Sichuan-based rights website Tianwang, and bloggers Lu Yuyu and Li Tingyu. The last two were bloggers that compiled meticulous lists of more than 30,000 "mass incidents" that were never reported by state media. Li Tingyu was forced to drop out of the prestigious Zhongshan University and has been held since June 2016 at the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture Detention Center in Yunnan on suspicion of "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble." She was tried in secret by the Dali People's Court last week.
[Editor's Note: Taiwan ranked 45th in the press freedom index, two spots below the U.S., which fell from 41 to 43. The UK also dropped two places from 38 to 40.]

Related Categories: China; North Korea; China and East Asia Program

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