RFA in the News (March 2015)

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March 31 “North Koreans shy away from working abroad

North Koreans are increasingly less likely to work abroad to bring in foreign currency, because of economic opportunities available inside North Korea and because of exploitive work conditions overseas. …The North Korean government withholds their earnings, reported Radio Free Asia, and transfers the funds to support Kim Jong Un's treasury. North Korea is reported to keep 30 percent of wages as part of a "loyalty fund" and also subtracts insurance and food expenses from net compensation for laborers.


March 30 “Public Confessions and the CCP’s Fight for Dominance

Since Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, a number of high-profile journalists and government critics who found themselves on the wrong side of the law—including Charles Xue, Shen Hao, and Gao Yu—have been shown publicly “confessing” on television. … In a commentary published by Radio Free Asia, Bao Tong, former aide to Premier Zhao Ziyang, writes about Gao’s case[… .]


March 28 “N. Korea's execution of Jang Song-thaek clear violation of international law: UN report

The UN Human Right Council has ruled that North Korea's execution of Jang Song-thaek, the once powerful uncle of leader Kim Jong-un, and two of Jang's closest aides was a clear violation of international law. Citing a UN report, Radio Free Asia reported Saturday that the council said the public executions in December 2013 were totally unacceptable.


March 27 “Myanmar's Kokang refugees caught between army, aged warlord and a pipeline to China

When news of the military's rapid advance filtered through to the sugarcane plantations in the remote reaches of northern Myanmar, Ying Onn and her family made the decision to run. … Under the martial law imposed by Myanmar President Thein Sein, it is difficult to independently verify reports of the conflict. But those fleeing the war zone tell of atrocities by the Myanmar military against civilians, including violent murders, rape and looting. Numerous accounts have been circulated on Chinese social media before being removed by internet censors. "The Myanmar army . . . comes at night, when you can't see them, because they think that the local people are working for [rebel commander] Peng Jiasheng," Kokang refugee Liu Zhengxiang told Radio Free Asia.


March 26 “Radio wars: information battle heats up as Russia and China muscle in

It is now all too clear that established broadcasters that are based in the West, such as Radio Free Asia, Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe (RFE) – funded mainly through an agency of the US government – and the BBC are facing increased competition. … Despite this, other external broadcasters remain popular in the region. One of these is Radio Free Asia (RFA), a US government-funded, non-profit service that broadcasts in nine languages to China, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and North Korea; it was the first external broadcaster to establish a bureau in Myanmar in 2012.

“I respectfully disagree with that assertion,” says RFA’s Rohit Mahajan, responding to the idea that CRI does not view other external ­services as ­competition. “People in China view RFA as their only way of getting uncensored, accurate news and information. We hear from listeners daily who tell us that. We see state-controlled media and officials in China responding to our breaking news. We know we’re being heard.”


March 23 “Despite China's Warnings, Cross-Border Strikes From Myanmar Continue

As Myanmar’s armed forces continue their assault on the ethnic Kokang Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), damage continues to spill across the border into southwestern Yunnan province in China. … Radio Free Asia reports that Yunnan authorities are investigating “a group of unexploded bombs that fell on the mountainous and rugged border with Myanmar.”


March 20 “Hackers Attack GreatFire.org, a Workaround for Websites Censored in China

For years, a group of anonymous activists known as GreatFire.org has monitored online censorship in China, provided access to blocked websites and collected messages deleted by censors. … GreatFire.org is partly funded by Open Technology Fund, a United States government-financed initiative under Radio Free Asia. Last year it provided $114,000 in funding, according to its website.


March 19 “North Korea's crystal meth consumption is rising, says State Department report

Drug use is rising across different sectors of North Korea's population and methamphetamines produced inside the country lead to foreign and domestic trade, the U.S. State Department said in its annual narcotics control report Thursday. … Radio Free Asia reported in January the drug is sometimes used in place of cash to pay for items or services, but a crackdown on the drug in North Korea had led to other methods of exchange, including the use of lapel pins that portrayed Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, to buy basic goods around the country.


March 18 “Radio Free Asia potluck broadcasts culinary news

Say “Washington, D.C.” and most people likely think politicians, lobbyists, steak houses and cheese-on-toothpick receptions. Less well known is the city’s critical mass of people from all over the world — and the food they bring to the nation’s capital. Radio Free Asia is among the institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and more than 175 embassies and missions that draw journalists, executives and diplomats from dozens of nations. At RFA, the staff spends its days broadcasting news in native languages to countries like North Korea, Cambodia and Vietnam, where repressive governmental policies tend to make objective, balanced journalism all but impossible for the average citizen to access.


March 18 “U.S. issues new advisory on financial deals with N. Korea

The United States has issued another advisory on financial transactions with North Korea, designating the communist country as a jurisdiction with high money laundering and terrorist financing risks, a U.S. report said Wednesday. … The guidance to U.S. financial institutions, issued Monday by the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), is based on the international money laundering watchdog Financial Action Task Force's updated list of countries with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing deficiencies, according to the Radio Free Asia (RFA) report.


March 15 “BOOKSHELF: Hillary Can’t Delete This

This book won’t help Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president. Its author, Chen Guangcheng, is the blind Chinese human-rights lawyer who in April 2012 escaped rural house arrest and sought refuge at the U.S. embassy in Beijing. … The U.S. Embassy was a logical place for Mr. Chen to go. American-funded radio programming had played an outsize role in his political education (Radio Free Asia “was a revelation”), and while in prison he had won improved treatment after 34 U.S. congressmen wrote to China’s president on his behalf.


March 14 “Myanmar Air Force Bomb Kills 4 In Chinese Village, China Steps Up Security

Chinese authorities have stepped up security along the country's border with Myanmar and registered a diplomatic protest Saturday after Myanmar government planes dropped a bomb on Chinese territory, killing four, according to local media reports. The incident took place on Friday, when a Myanmar government MiG-29 fighter jet dropped a bomb on a sugarcane field in China’s Yunnan province, killing four people who were working there, Xinhua reported. There have been at least three similar incidents of bombs from Myanmar government forces falling in Chinese territory in recent weeks, Radio Free Asia reported Thursday.


March 12 “In China, Only Leaders Are Allowed To Battle Corruption

Since his rise to power, Chinese President Xi Jinping has waged a sweeping anti-corruption campaign that has targeted both decadent high officials and small-time tyrants -- in his words, both “ tigers and flies.” For over two years, Xi has wielded the cudgel of corruption charges to decimate his political enemies and dethrone powerful leaders once thought untouchable. … Residents of Tianmu village told Radio Free Asia … that Mu had accumulated vast wealth by selling off communal village land and pocketing the proceeds.


March 12 “Lawmakers back BBC broadcasts in North

South Korean lawmakers on Thursday expressed support for the BBC’s reported plans to broadcast radio news in North Korea, saying the spread of information would likely help improve human rights standards in the oppressive state. … If the BBC begins a radio news service for the North, it will join the Voice of America, Radio Free Asia and South Korean public broadcaster KBS, the only other media outlets trying to provide outside information to the North through radio signals.


March 11 “N.Korea to Mark Exports 'Made in Korea'

The North Korean regime has decided to mark export goods "made in Korea," Radio Free Asia reported Monday. Officials were on Jan. 8 instructed to label light industrial products intended for export "made in Korea," the broadcaster quoted a source in Jagang Province as saying.


March 8 “OPINION -- Anne-Marie Slaughter/Libby Liu: A Lesson From Asia’s Unsung Female Activists

But when she returned to Burma, authorities revoked her passport once again. When she informed the State Department, they assured her they’d just keep inviting her over, Zin Mar Aung recounted at a recent New America/Radio Free Asia event. They weren’t the only ones offering invitations; for the past six months, she has been a fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, and just completed her tenure. … Slaughter is the president and CEO of New America. Liu is the president of Radio Free Asia.


March 5 “Eye on China: Women’s struggle for human rights

How does the oppression of human rights activists affect women in China? Tune into Eye on China as Natalie Tso speaks with Catherine Antoine of Radio Free Asia. Radio Free Asia has just come out with their free e-book, It's Not OK, highlighting women's struggle for human rights in Asia.


March 3 “Tibetan refugees in India Mark 56th anniversary of the Tibetan national uprising

Marking the 56th anniversary of the "Tibetan National Uprising Day," Prime Minister-in exile Lobsang Sangay said the only way to resolve the issue of Tibet is through dialogue with China.

... Last week, Norchuk, a 47-year old woman living in a Tibetan county in western China's Sichuan province, burned herself to death in a protest against Chinese policies in Tibetan areas. She is the 137th known case of self-immolation by Tibetans since 2009, Radio Free Asia reported.

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