RFA in the News (December 2013)


Dec. 30 “Land-Grab Farmers in Xinjiang Held For Speaking to 'Hostile' Media

Authorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang have detained and interrogated several farmers on suspicion of revealing state secrets and speaking to "hostile" media organizations, relatives said this week. … "They summoned my husband to the police station [where] I heard the police officer say that someone had called up Radio Free Asia," the wife of farmer Shen Zhihe told RFA's Mandarin Service.


Dec. 28 “OPINION: What is the Electoral Reform Alliance?

After weeks of build-up, in December a new organization finally released its promised report on the July 28 national elections. … What is obvious from any reading of the report is that, by “independent”, these NGOs mean themselves and their foreign allies: … “… independent broadcasting by stations Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia (RFA)” …


Dec. 28 “China detains 16 Tibetans for rally urging senior monk's release

Chinese authorities in Nangchen (Chinese: Nangqian) County of Yulshul (Yushu) Prefecture, Qinghai Province, have on Dec 21 detained 16 Tibetans, including monks, for their involvement in a mass protest calling for the release of a prominent local religious figure, according to Beijing-based Tibetan poet and blog activist Ms Tsering Woeser. … Kartse had led a relief team of monks to Yulshul after the devastating earthquake of Apr 2010 which state media reported had left nearly 2,700 dead and 270 others missing, said Radio Free Asia (RFA, Washington) Dec 26.


Dec. 27 “Chinese firm claims Myitsone restart will be transparent

Speaking at a press conference in Rangoon on Thursday representatives of the Chinese firm behind the stalled Myitsone dam repeatedly claimed that if the highly unpopular project is restarted it will be built and operated in a transparent fashion. … "The current government was elected by the people and I hope that the government that was elected by the people will make the right decision," said Li. Despite Li's pledge about transparency, Radio Free Asia reported that during the press conference Li and his colleagues failed to “provide details about how ACHC would ensure that the public remain informed about the dam’s progress”.


Dec. 26 “On Chairman Mao’s Birthday, a Conflicting Legacy for Xi Jinping

China marked Thursday’s 120th anniversary of Mao Zedong’s birth with relative restraint in a nod to the delicate balance President Xi Jinping must strike in using the revolutionary leader’s legacy even as he pursues market-oriented economic reforms. … “Mao’s legacy, at the very least, includes the silencing of public opinion, an unelected regime … and the mass manufacture of miscarriages of justice,” Mr. Bao, who remains under close surveillance, wrote in a commentary for Radio Free Asia.


Dec. 25 “OPINION: Saving 20 million people from living hell

When news tidbits about North Korea’s “New Economy Management System” trickled out from early July 2012, curious and uneasy observers on the North had some expectations on possible economic reforms under the new leadership of Kim Jong-un. … The U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia offers North Korean news from reliable sources, including recent refugees and residents of areas close to the Chinese border.


Dec. 25 “Communist Party feeling uneasy about Mao ahead of his birthday celebrations

… In a phone interview from his Beijing home, where he is under house arrest, Bao said he had his essay smuggled out to Radio Free Asia because he believes that how China thinks of Mao has a huge effect on its present and future. “China cannot turn a blind eye to these facts,” he said.


Dec. 24 “Six women among Uighurs killed in Xinjiang clash: rights groups

Six Uighur women were among 16 people killed in a clash in China's restive Xinjiang region last week, campaign groups said, contradicting Beijing's version of events. … The Munich-based World Uyghur Congress and Radio Free Asia, which is funded by the US government, said that police raided a house where an extended family was gathering.


Dec. 23 “Korea Execution Is Tied to Clash Over Businesses

The execution of the uncle of Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, had its roots in a firefight between forces loyal to Mr. Kim and those supporting the man who was supposed to be his regent, according to accounts that are being pieced together by South Korean and American officials. The clash was over who would profit from North Korea’s most lucrative exports: coal, clams and crabs. … Radio Free Asia, in a report last week that cited anonymous North Korean sources, reported that Mr. Kim saw North Korean soldiers malnourished during his recent visits to islands near the disputed western sea border. … The confrontation escalated into a gun battle, and Radio Free Asia reports that two soldiers were killed and that the army backed off.


Dec. 22 “Tibetan held for opposing China's choice of lama's reincarnation”

For having spoken out against the enthronement of a reincarnation of a senior Buddhist figure appointed by Beijing, a Tibetan man named Tsokye has been detained by the Chinese authorities in Driru (Chinese: Biru) County of Nagchu (Nagu) Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, on Dec 13. The resident of Akchen village in the county’s Tarchen Township had spoken out strongly against the enthronement of the Chinese-appointed reincarnation of Shak Rongpo Choje, reported Radio Free Asia (Washington) Dec 20.


Dec. 19 “How Should the U.S. Respond to China's Bullying of American Journalists?

With two weeks left in the year, it's safe to say this: For the foreign media in China, 2013 has been the worst year in decades. In September 2011, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) introduced the China Media Reciprocity Act, a new law that would require the U.S. to issue visas to journalists from state-run Chinese media in equal number to journalists working for U.S. government-funded media companies (like Voice of America and Radio Free Asia) in China. But because the VoA and RFA presence in China is tiny (far more American reporters in China work for private companies like The Times), the act would effectively shut down Chinese journalism in the United States.


Dec. 19 “Tibetan monk sets self on fire in China: reports”

A Tibetan monk set himself on fire in northwest China on Thursday, state media said, in what Tibetan media described as a suicide in protest against Chinese policies. … A Tibetan father-of-two set himself on fire in protest earlier this month, US-backed broadcaster Radio Free Asia and a Tibetan rights group reported.


Dec. 15 “1,000 held in Tibetan county defying Chinese flag

China has greatly intensified its security clampdown and forced political education in Driru (Chinese: Biru) County of Nagchu Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, detaining about 1,000 Tibetans, including dozens of monks, reported Radio Free Asia (Washington) Dec 13. The county has seen a series of disturbances since late Sep 2013 when the authorities launched a campaign to force the local Tibetans to fly the communist ruled China’s red flag over their homes and monasteries. Tibetans not only refused to comply but also staged protests, leading to killings in violent crackdowns and a number of large-scale arrests.


Dec. 12 “Burma Preparing to Ratify Chemical, Biological Weapons Ban

Burma is preparing to ratify two international treaties on chemical and biological weapons, a spokesman of President Thein Sein has told Radio Free Asia. Burma signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993 and the Biological Weapons Convention in 1972, but falls into a small group of nations that have not ratified the treaties.


Dec. 10 “China Foreign Press Crackdown Prompts Calls For Visa Retaliation

When Vice President Joe Biden recently addressed China’s crackdown on foreign press and the government’s refusal to renew journalists’ visas, he turned the spotlight on a challenge that news organizations have traditionally dealt with behind closed doors. … In a statement to HuffPost, Rohrabacher said, “… Chinese state controlled media in the US is not censored or blocked, but China jams Voice of America and Radio Free Asia broadcasts and blocks their websites[.]”


Dec. 10 “Michaungkan protestors hold down the fort

Despite an ultimatum issued by Rangoon township authorities, around 200 protestors are refusing to leave their camp site in Michaungkan township on the eastern outskirts of Rangoon. … Htin Kyaw, Sein Than and Kyaw Lwin were charged under Burma’s infamous Article 18 – the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Processions Law – each receiving 18 month prison sentences, according to a Radio Free Asia report.


Dec. 5 “China's Asset Disclosure Advocates Not Out Of The Woods Yet

Last week China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection announced that it would be launching a pilot scheme to force newly appointed cadres to report and disclose their family assets. … Bao Tong, who served as a political aide to former premier Zhao Ziyang, said in an appeal on Radio Free Asia: “Relevant pilot schemes carried out by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection prove their innocence. The ‘gentlemen’ Ding, Xu, and Wang, who were detained in Beijing, should be immediately and unconditionally released.”


Dec. 5 “Tibetan father sets himself alight in China

A father-of-two set himself on fire in protest at Beijing's rule in Tibetan regions, triggering clashes and a security crackdown, a US broadcaster and an overseas pressure group said today. Radio Free Asia said Konchok Tseten, 30, torched himself in Aba prefecture, an ethnically Tibetan area of the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan which has seen a wave of similar actions.


Dec. 5 “‘Federal Army’ Already Exists, Says Military Chief

Amid calls from Burma’s ethnic armed groups for the establishment of a “federal army,” the country’s commander-in-chief has claimed that the current military is already a federally constituted institution, owing to its inclusion of ethnic minority members within the ranks. … During a visit on the same day to Sittwe, the capital of Arakan State, Radio Free Asia’s Burmese service reported that Min Aung Hlaing told the public that he wanted Burma to practice “disciplined democracy,” adding that the military would participate in the realization of this goal.


Dec. 4 “Funeral rites for land grab protestors in Michaungkan

Around 400 residents in Rangoon’s Thingangyun township have received funeral rites from Buddhist monks, saying they are ready to die protesting for the return of cultivated land which was confiscated from them by the military. … According to a report by Radio Free Asia, Htin Kyaw, Sein Than and Kyaw Lwin, who led the second Michaungkan protest in March 2012, were each sentenced on 16 November to three months in prison with labour under Article 18 – the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Processions Law – for staging a protest without official permission.


Dec. 1 “World AIDS Day: Has China's PM made strides in HIV prevention?

A decade after presiding over one of the greatest HIV/AIDS cover-up scandals in Chinese history, then-Vice Premier Li Keqiang attempted last year to redeem himself, pledging to revive efforts against rising infection rates in the People's Republic. … Lending weight to those still critical of China's response to HIV/AIDS, a leading awareness activist confirmed to Al Jazeera that dozens of activists had been arrested ahead of World AIDS Day, which Radio Free Asia reported Friday.

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