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China gives 6 patrol boats to Myanmar’s military junta

China has delivered six patrol boats to Myanmar’s military junta, fulfilling a promise made in 2020 to the country’s previous democratically elected civilian government, the Chinese Embassy said in a statement on Wednesday. The patrol boats that were handed over in Yangon on Tuesday will be used in law enforcement efforts to control gambling and drug trafficking and in rescue and water resources protection activities, the embassy said. But a former army officer, who wished not to be named for security reasons, told RFA that the vessels could also be useful for naval military operations in Rakhine state, which has several well-traveled rivers and an Indian Ocean coastline. Rakhine state has seen intense fighting between military junta troops and the ethnic minority insurgent Arakan Army since last November. “If these boats are modified a little bit, weapons could be installed,” the former army officer said.  A navy patrol boat donated by China is docked at Lanmataw jetty in Yangon, Myanmar, June 12, 2024. (RFA) Four of the patrol boats are 48 meters long (157 feet), and the other two are 28 meters long (91 feet), the embassy said. The civilian government under the National League for Democracy first requested the vessels in 2018. China’s projects in Rakhine An agreement was made in 2020 during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s two-day visit to Myanmar, in which several deals were signed to implement multibillion dollar infrastructure projects under the Belt and Road Initiative. The projects include a US$1.3 billion deep-sea port in Rakhine state’s Kyaukphyu, as well as the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, a 620 km (1,000 mile) high-speed railway and road network that will run from China’s Kunming city through Myanmar’s major economic hubs and on to the port. The corridor will ultimately give China crucial access to the Indian Ocean at Kyaukphyu. The military junta removed the civilian government and seized power in February 2021. A resident of Kyaukphyu township who closely monitors the Chinese projects told RFA that the Chinese ambassador visited Kyaukphyu on Monday. Human Rights Watch found in 2022 that the Myanmar junta had used Japan-funded passenger ships during military operations in Rakhine state. “The Myanmar junta’s misuse of Japanese development aid for military purposes effectively makes Japan a backer of the junta’s military operations,” Asia program officer Teppei Kasai said at the time. When asked via email on Wednesday if the patrol boats could be used for military purposes, the Chinese Embassy in Myanmar directed RFA to a statement posted on its Facebook page. RFA’s attempts to contact junta spokesman Major Gen. Zaw Min Tun to ask about the patrol boats were unsuccessful on Wednesday. Translated by Aung Naing. Edited by Matt Reed and Malcolm Foster.

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Junta interrogation results in more deaths in Myanmar’s west: source

Junta soldiers in Myanmar’s west interrogated dozens of detained villagers and tortured several to death, residents told Radio Free Asia.  The soldiers beat three of the arrested residents from Byain Phyu village in Rakhine State on Wednesday until they were rushed to the hospital, two eventually dying from their injuries, said one resident, declining to be named for security reasons.  “More than 40 people were sent to Sittwe Prison from the [junta’s] military interrogation yesterday. Three of them were close to death,” he said. “The three of them were sent to Sittwe Hospital. Two died yesterday, and the other one is seriously injured.” The bodies were covered in bruises and long cuts, he added. A family member who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals told RFA that those who were sent to prison also had serious injuries. “The [junta] said residents from the village will be jailed. The villagers were severely tortured when we went to see them,” he said. “My uncle is also among the people who were sent to prison.” Junta authorities stationed in the area filed a case against the detained residents under Section 17(1) of the Unlawful Association Act and Section 188 of the Penal Code for disobeying an order, said another resident. The charges allege that villagers were connected to the anti-junta Arakan Army. Junta’s move came as clashes intensify between the Arakan Army and junta forces, with the rebel group advancing closer to the state capital, which made Myanmar military ramp up its raids and interrogations in the surrounding areas.  On May 29, junta troops arrested residents of Byain Phyu village and killed over 70 people. The arrested villagers were interrogated about connections to insurgent armies, according to locals. Nearly 200 junta soldiers surrounded the village and detained a large but undisclosed number of men.  Women and children under 15 involved in the arrest were released on May 31, but the remaining 40 men were transferred from an interrogation center in Byain Phyu, Rakhine State, to a prison in Sittwe on Tuesday, residents reported. Separately, junta troops threatened residents from five villages near the state’s capital of Sittwe that they must evacuate by Friday. According to an Arakan Army statement, Byain Phyu’s death toll following the arrests reached 76 as of June 4.  RFA phoned Rakhine state’s junta spokesperson Hla Thein to confirm the two additional deaths reported on Wednesday, but he did not respond by the time of publication.  Junta spokesperson Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun denied the mass arrests and killings through military-controlled media on June 4.  Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Kiana Duncan and Taejun Kang. 

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South Korea fires warning shots as North Korean soldiers cross border

South Korean soldiers fired warning shots after a dozen soldiers from North Korea crossed one of the world’s most fortified borders earlier this week, the South’s military said Tuesday. The incident occurred at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, as the soldiers crossed the military demarcation line, or MDL, that bisects the demilitarized zone, or DMZ, dividing the two Koreas, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said, adding that it was likely a mistake. “The area near the DMZ is heavily wooded, and the MDL signs are not clearly visible,” Lee Sung Joon, a spokesperson for the joint chiefs, told reporters at a news briefing. “Therefore, (they) were moving through the bush in a situation where there were no clear paths, and the South Korean military had been observing them even before they got close to the MDL.” After the warning shots were fired, the North Korean soldiers promptly crossed back over into North Korean territory, which Lee said resulted in the joint chiefs’ assessment that there was no intent to cross the MDL. North Korean escapees prepare to release balloons carrying leaflets and a banner denouncing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for North Korea’s latest nuclear test, in Paju, near the border with North Korea, South Korea, on Sept. 15, 2016.  (Ahn Young-joon/AP) A joint chiefs of staff official told RFA Korean that the North Korean soldiers were a mere 50 meters inside South Korean territory and were there for only a short time. He said they were working with tools like pickaxes and it is assumed that they lost their way when they crossed. ‘Primary enemy’ The incident comes at a time when tensions are high on the Korean peninsula, with the North having this year defined the South as a primary enemy, and no longer referring to North and South Koreans as being “one race” – an ethno-nationalist, pro-unification phrase that has been used in both Koreas over the years. Since then, the North has tested missiles several times, and recently floated trash-filled balloons over the border, a nod to South Korea-based civil groups’ decades-old practice of launching their own balloons filled with anti-regime leaflets. South Korean soldiers examine various objects including what appeared to be trash from a balloon believed to have been sent by North Korea, in Incheon, South Korea, June 2, 2024. (Yonhap via Reuters) The incident occurred on the same day that the South Korean military made loudspeaker broadcasts audible in North Korea in response to the trash balloons. The joint chiefs said they would continue to monitor North Korean military movements and take “necessary measures in accordance with operational procedures.” Common occurrence Experts told RFA that border incursions like Sunday’s happen quite frequently and the South’s assessment of the situation was proper and justified. “Incidents like this have been pretty common along the militarized zone for the entirety of the armistice,” said Sydney Seiler, the former national intelligence officer for North Korea at the National Intelligence Council, an U.S. government organization that bridges policymakers with the intelligence community. “It would be unnatural or it would be strange to think of this as anything more complex than what’s been described.” A balloon believed to have been sent by North Korea, carrying various objects including what appeared to be trash and excrement, is seen over a rice field at Cheorwon, South Korea, May 29, 2024. (Yonhap via Reuters) He said one could imagine that North Korea might have wanted to test how South Korea would respond, but suggested that idea was “far-fetched” considering the circumstances. “Sometimes the simplest answer is the right answer,” he said. “I don’t think it was a significant event.” Gary Samore, the former White House coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction, and Patrick Cronin, the Hudson Institute’s Asia-Pacific security chair, both told RFA that they accepted South Korea’s assessment of the incident. Both also acknowledged that outside of Sunday’s incident, North Korea is currently increasing provocations with the South during a particularly tense period in inter-Korean relations. “Dictators like to play this game of ‘chicken’ because only they know whether they are serious about the use of lethal force,” said Cronin. “Meanwhile, democratically elected leaders are subject to harsh reactions from public opinion, which can be easily manipulated into thinking that a strong defense might trigger open conflict.” Translated by Leejin J. Chung. Edited by Eugene Whong and Malcolm Foster.

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Vietnam sets record in island building in 2024: report

Vietnam’s island building in the South China Sea has reached a record with the total new land created in the first six months of this year equaling that of 2022 and 2023 combined, a U.S. independent think tank said. The Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) said in its latest report that since November 2023, Vietnam has created 692 new acres (280 ha) of land across a total of 10 features within the Spratly archipelago. In comparison, it created 404 acres (163.5 ha) of land in the first 11 months of 2023 and 342 acres (138.4 ha) in 2022. Vietnam has reclaimed a total area of about half the area that China has built up, with much of Vietnam’s work on reefs China also claims. Of the two main island groups in the South China Sea, China occupies the Paracels, while the  Spratlys, to the south, are contested by several  countries. Vietnam occupies 27 features and has been carrying out large-scale reclamation works on some over the past year. Among the 10 largest features in the Spratlys, five are being developed by Hanoi, AMTI said. Vietnam’s features are much smaller than any of China’s so-called Big Three – Fiery Cross Reef, Mischief Reef and Subi Reef – artificial islands that Beijing developed and fully militarized.  Vietnam’s overall dredging and landfill totaled about 2,360 acres (955 ha), roughly half of China’s 4,650 acres (1881.7 ha).  The research group said  Vietnam’s reclamation was a major change. Just three years ago, the total amount of Vietnamese dredging and landfill was less than a tenth that of China’s.   Vietnam’s work includes the Barque Canada Reef, or Bai Thuyen Chai in Vietnamese, where the area nearly doubled over six months, from 238 acres (96.3 ha) to 412 acres (166.7 ha),  the group said. Vietnam says little about its work at the features apart from it is to protect them but not to expand them or change structures. There was no immediate government response to the AMTI report. A Vietnamese outpost in the Spratlys, May 2024. RFA/str Runway potential Six months ago, Radio Free Asia reported on the rapid expansion of Barque Canada Reef from the end of 2021. Chinese think tank the South China Sea Probing Initiative had said Hanoi may be building a second airfield on the reef but the latest satellite imagery shows no sign of that. Vietnam has one  1,300-meter runway on the Spratly Island, or Truong Sa Lon in Vietnamese, which can handle medium-sized military aircraft. The Barque Canada Reef “measures 4,318 meters in length, which makes it the only Vietnamese outpost so far with the potential to host a 3,000-meter runway” like those that China has, the think tank said. China’s three largest artificial islands are all equipped with runways that can accommodate bigger military transport, surveillance, and bomber aircraft. Satellite image of Barque Canada Reef, May 11, 2024. AMTI/Maxar Technologies Other features under Hanoi’s control that have undergone significant development since November 2023 are Discovery Great Reef, South Reef, Namyit Reef and Pearson Reef, according to the report. Vietnam “has continued implementing a mix of cutter-suction and clamshell dredging”, AMTI researchers said. A cutter suction dredger cuts the seabed into fragments with a rotating head. Material is sucked up by dredge pumps and discharged through pipes across sea and land. Scientists say cutter suction dredgers are more environmentally destructive and China has been criticized for using them. The Vietnamese public seems supportive of the  island building. Many social media commentators hail “the right strategy” in the face of China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea. Six parties – Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam – claim parts of the South China Sea as well as the islands and reefs inside it but China’s claims are the most expansive. A Philippine official, asked about Vietnam’s dredging and landfill work, said that Hanoi was reclaiming features that it occupied before a 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. “Vietnam focuses on minding their own affairs,” Philippine coastguard spokesperson Jay Tarriela told reporters.  “They do not engage in harassing our fishermen or illegally deploying coast guard vessels and maritime militia in the waters surrounding our occupied maritime features,” he said. The Philippines has accused China of harassing fishermen and law enforcement agencies in Philippine waters, especially near the Scarborough and Second Thomas shoals. China says  it has “indisputable jurisdiction” over all the reefs and atolls in the Spratlys. Edited by RFA staff

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Police video of detained unofficial Vietnamese monk allays fears

Supporters of an unofficial monk who had become an internet hit but then disappeared for a few days after Vietnamese authorities detained him last week breathed a sigh of relief on Monday after police published a video of him receiving a new national ID card. Monday’s video of 43-year-old Le Anh Tu, better known as Thich Minh Tue, allayed concerns after an interview with him Friday on a state-run news program had raised suspicions about his well-being, and that he was speaking under duress. For the past month, Le Anh Tu had drawn ever-increasing attention on social media for his pilgrimage across Vietnam. Along the way, he also unwittingly became a symbol of what many people say is a lack of religious freedom in the country.  Sporting a shaved head, patched garments and an alms bowl, Tue is not recognized as a monk by the state-sanctioned Buddhist group — and indeed did not claim to be a monk, just someone trying to follow Buddha’s teachings. Authorities apparently became alarmed at the attention Tue was getting, and on June 2, officials detained him, saying he stopped his trek amid concerns about threatening social stability.  But monks with him said authorities forced them to disband in a midnight raid and took him to an undisclosed location. His case has drawn attention from a U.S. lawmaker and international rights groups. Viewed with suspicion For several days, the monk wasn’t heard from, spurring public concern.  Then on Friday, June 7, the state-run Vietnam Television, or VTV, aired a three-minute news bulletin in which Tue said he was safe and had chosen to end his pilgrimage because of traffic concerns.  But the VTV video was viewed with suspicion by social media users who noted that Tue was interviewed in front of a white-painted tree trunk, which is a marker typically found in strictly controlled areas, such as military barracks and prisons. They suggested Tue’s hand movements indicated that he was under stress and alleged that there was no reflection of his interviewer in his eyes. In that interview, Tue tells reporter Lien Lien that he “would have continued to cultivate outside [on a pilgrimage] if there had not been so many crowds, affecting traffic safety and social order.” In the video, which shows footage of him being thronged by what appears to be hundreds of followers, VTV slams what it says is false information about Tue’s arrest over the past week and claims that “opposing forces” have exploited his case “to distort Vietnam’s policy on religion.” ‘More reliable’ Then, on Monday, a second video of Tue appeared that allayed people’s concerns. It was a rather mundane video published by police in Gia Lai province, in southern Vietnam where his permanent residence was registered, showing Tue receiving a new national ID from the police department’s Order and Administration Management Division. In the video, Tue enters the division’s “Office for ID application and pick-up,” where he meets with a police officer who explains the card’s benefits, such as its use for air travel and health check-ups. Tue is then interviewed about his thoughts on receiving the new ID, which he says “will be very good if it can be used to ensure my right to self-cultivation.” The video ends with Tue saying that he is healthy enough to return to his study of the Buddha’s teachings. A screenshot from a Youtube video uploaded June 9, 2024 shows an interview aired by VTV with independent monk Thich Minh Tue, left, in which he said he agreed to stop walking the streets. (VTV24 via Youtube) On Monday, Nguyen Viet Dung, a former prisoner of conscience who on June 7 launched a petition demanding that Vietnamese authorities disclose Tue’s whereabouts, told RFA Vietnamese that while the public was “skeptical” about the VTV interview, “many agreed that the Gia Lai provincial police video was more reliable.” “The people’s greatest wish was to see their beloved monk be safe,” he said. “Therefore, their greatest wish, to a certain extent, has been fulfilled.” Family request to ‘protect image’ Meanwhile, a lawyer on Monday dismissed a claim made in the VTV video that Tue’s family had called on authorities to “handle those who took advantage of [his] images and uploaded them to social media,” saying that only Tue has the right to make such a request. On June 9, a document requesting the assistance of authorities, purportedly sent by Tue’s older brother Le Anh Tuan to police in Gia Lai’s Ia To commune, was circulated online, as well as a document asking police to verify that Tuan is Tue’s sibling. The second document was approved and signed by Ia To Commune Police Captain Ksor Hue. Neither of the documents were dated and RFA was unable to independently verify their authenticity. Regardless of whether the documents were indeed sent by Tue’s brother, lawyer Ha Huy Son of the Hanoi Bar Association told RFA that they would still be invalid under Vietnamese law. “As Mr. Minh Tue (whose real name is Le Anh Tu) is over 18 years old and has sufficient behavioral and legal capacity, defending his interests and privacy is his responsibility – no one can do it for him,” he said. Attempts by RFA to reach Tuan to verify the information in the two documents went unanswered Monday. Translated by Anna Vu. Edited by Joshua Lipes and Malcolm Foster.

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Airstrike targets insurgent meeting in Myanmar, 16 killed

A Myanmar military airstrike on a meeting of anti-junta activists in a monastery in central Myanmar killed 16 people, including two monks, and wounded 22 people, witnesses told Radio Free Asia. The bloody raid in Let Pan Tan village was the latest in the central region of Sagaing, which has been rocked by violence since the military overthrew an elected government in 2021 triggering an insurgency by members of the majority Burman community in Myanmar’s heartland. Activists taking up arms against military rule have formed militias called People’s Defense Forces, linking up with ethnic minority insurgent groups  that have been battling for self-determination for decades in remote borderlands. One witness close to a People’s Defense Force said the military must have received a tip-off that the meeting was taking place on Saturday. “The bombardment was carried out while the people were in the meeting due to leaked information. How would they know from so far away?” said the source who declined to be identified for security reasons. “So it’s clear we should consider that there are spies and informers in the village or near the village, who are secretly collecting information about us.”  RFA was not able to contact People’s Defense Force groups in the region. Sagaing’s junta spokesperson, Nyunt Win Aung, did not answer telephone calls seeking comment. While junta troops have been pushed back in several parts of the country since allied anti-junta fighters went on the offensive late last year, the military can unleash devastating force in seconds with its jets. Anti-junta forces have no air power with the exception of drones, and little in the way of anti-aircraft weapon systems to face the threat. On June 3, a junta airstrike on a wedding in Sagaing’s Mingin township killed 33 people and wounded 64. RFA has not been able to verify whether the civilians were among the casualties in Let Pan Tan, where numerous buildings, including a second monastery, were damaged, the witnesses said. Military swoop for suspects Nine people at the meeting were killed on the spot and seven died later of their wounds, residents said. It was impossible to identify some of the victims, another witness, who also declined to be identified, told RFA.   “The bodies were badly damaged and disfigured,” said the witness, adding that several victims were decapitated. “There are quite a lot of people who got severely hurt and had their arms or legs severed (in the blast). There isn’t enough medicine for  everyone.” Early on Sunday, a convoy of junta troops raided Let Pan Tan village and arrested about 10 people, including women, the witness said. RFA was not able to verify that information. According to compiled data by the RFA, junta attacks have killed 662 civilians and injured 1,492 more nationwide from January to May 2024. Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Kiana Duncan. 

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Hong Kong exiles in UK and Canada lack access to billions of their savings

In April 2023, Hong Kong Watch found that Hong Kongers were being denied access to up to £2.2 billion (US$2.8 billion) of their hard-earned Mandatory Provident Fund retirement savings. Fast forward one year, and the number has only increased to over £3 billion (US$3.8 billion).  This act of transnational repression is placing an unnecessary financial and mental strain on an estimated tens of thousands of Hong Kongers in the UK and Canada who moved abroad under British National (Overseas) (BNO) passports, set up to allow a permanent residence pathway for them.  The Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) is a compulsory retirement savings scheme for the people of Hong Kong. Hong Kongers can ordinarily withdraw their entire account early if they make a statutory declaration that they have departed Hong Kong permanently with no intention of returning to resettle.  However, the Mandatory Provident Fund Authority, which oversees the provision of MPF schemes, released a statement in March 2021 saying that because the BNO passport was no longer recognised by the Hong Kong government as a valid travel document and proof of identity as of Jan. 2021. This means that those trying to withdraw their savings early cannot rely on the BNO passport or visa to support an application for early withdrawal of their funds.  A protester raises his British National Overseas passports during a candlelight vigil to mark the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, in Hong Kong, June 4, 2020. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters) Despite this, the MPF-related legislation, regulations, and terms of the deeds governing entitlement to MPF benefits in Hong Kong remain unchanged. Under the MPF trust deed, trustees including those based overseas like HSBC, Standard Chartered, Manulife and Sun Life, have a legal obligation to release MPF to beneficiaries who are able to provide evidence of their right to reside in a foreign country.  There is no reason that a BNO passport or visa should be denied under this deed. However, the latest research from Hong Kong Watch includes case studies detailing how Hong Kongers continue to be denied access to their MPF on the grounds that they hold a BNO passport or visa.  This includes many Hong Kong families in the UK, from a single mother who is unable to afford a heater for her son due to being denied £57,000 (US$70,000) worth of her MPF, to a family of five that is unable to afford a wheelchair accessible property for their severely disabled child due to the withholding of their MPF.  Individual hardship Others with withheld savings struggle to adapt to their new environments for financial reasons, to assist relatives in escaping from increasing repression in Hong Kong, and to start desired business ventures in the UK or Canada. Since 2021 and as recently as last month, Hong Kong Watch has documented numerous rejection letters from MPF trustees to Hong Kongers denying the early withdrawal of their MPF on the grounds that the BNO visa or passport is not a valid form of identification per the Hong Kong government’s lawless declaration.  I have spoken with a Hong Konger who has £90,000 (US$114,000) frozen in MPF assets, and another who had obtained Canadian permanent residency and was still denied access to their MPF by Manulife for simply arriving in Canada with a BNO passport.  The latter case is especially concerning, particularly after Manulife’s Global Head of Government Relations for Canada, Maryscott Greenwood, testified before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration on Monday and claimed that Manulife had never denied a Hong Konger access to their savings on the basis of holding a BNO visa.  Having seen a written transcript of a call between the Hong Konger who was denied access to their MPF and Manulife, in which Manulife said, “even if you hold Canadian PR, it’s ineligible to withdraw the fund as a BNO passport holder,” this is simply not true. Maryscott Greenwood, Manulife’s global head of Government Relations for Canada, testifies via video before the Canadian Parliament’s Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, June 3, 2024. (Image from Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration video) Sun Life’s Head of Global Government Affairs and Public Policy, Laura Hewitt, also testified in the hearing.  It was unfortunate but unsurprising that despite having productive meetings with Hong Kong Watch prior to the hearing, both Manulife and Sun Life executives delivered cautious, pre-prepared answers and repeatedly failed to respond to direct “yes”  or “no” questions from the Canadian Parliament.  Fortunately, members of the Canadian Parliament including Tom Kmiec, Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe, Greg McLean, Paul Chiang, Fayçal El-Khoury, and Jenny Kwan, who is herself a prior BNO visa holder, were not satisfied with these non-answers.  The MPs pressed the business representatives on why they have withheld Hong Kongers’ own savings from them since 2021. Tom Kmiec asked both companies: “Why are you still operating in an autocratic, totalitarian regime that is dominated by Beijing?” The question remains unanswered. Tasks for London and Ottawa The next UK government should vow to provide clarification to UK-based MPF trustees that the BNO visa is intended to lead to “permanent settlement and British citizenship” to show their support for Hong Kongers in Britain.  London  should also pledge to raise and condemn this form of transnational repression with their counterparts in Hong Kong. On the campaign trail, the future UK government has the opportunity to present these pledges to 140,000 eligible Hong Kong BNO voters. The Canadian government should work with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to change the designation of BNO passport and visa holders from GBN )Great Britain) to CHN (China) or HKG (Hong Kong) on Canadian permanent residency cards to prevent further retaliation from the Hong Kong government. A man waves to family members before leaving for the United Kingdom at the Hong Kong International Airport, June 30, 2021. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters) With a current backlog of 9,000 permanent residency applications for Hong Kongers in Canada, this will only become a greater administrative issue in the near future if IRCC labels the nationality of…

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Judy Lin

Interview with Judy Lin (Journalist and International Business Researcher)

1. Your work emphasizes writing tech stories with a human touch. Can you share what inspired you to take this approach and how it shapes your storytelling? Technology reports used to cater exclusively to engineers, who were intensely focused on product specifications, features, and cost-performance ratios. These reports were often dry and superficial. However, the evolution of technology narratives has shown that innovation can stem from a human touch. Take, for instance, Nintendo’s introduction of the Wii. This launch piqued my interest in the brilliant minds behind the innovative device. What inspired them to create a gaming system that transcended age barriers, allowing both children and adults to play together seamlessly? These are the narratives that have the power to motivate young individuals to pursue engineering careers, crafting innovative solutions that reshape the way we interact with technology. As I resumed my role at ‘DIGITIMES‘ international news desk in 2015, reporting on global technology trends and analyzing technological advancements, I found myself drawn to stories that showcase this human element in tech innovation 2. Having coached young business news translators and reporters at Reuters and Digitimes, what key advice do you offer to aspiring journalists? Stay curious and observant – news springs up all around you. My mentors at Reuters instilled in me the values of honesty and kindness towards everyone. Only when you win the trust of people, will they start to provide you with valuable sources and information. Nevertheless, I now refrain from offering unsolicited advice, as not everyone welcomes it. 3. Your research spans various areas, including risk/crisis communication management and political economy. How do you integrate your research into your journalism work? I specialized in risk/crisis communication and policy/regulation analysis during my studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science. This knowledge proves valuable when news events such as earthquakes affecting semiconductor fabs or pandemics cause panic to occur. As a voracious reader with interests spanning history, economics, popular science, and social sciences, I believe that journalism revolves around covering news events. However, possessing knowledge and a network of experts allows for a deeper exploration or interpretation of impacts from a different perspective. In a recent project titled “Why does China require US$47.5 billion for Phase 3 of the Big Fund despite concerns of chip oversupply?” I leveraged my understanding of China’s banking system and PBOC data to inform readers about the rationale behind state banks participating in Big Fund Phase 3. This shed light on how the fund’s magnitude may not directly translate into breakthroughs in semiconductor technology. Political economy serves as a valuable tool in unraveling the repercussions of industries amidst power struggles. Additionally, insights from political science and theories on power interdependencies play a pivotal role in understanding these dynamics. 4. Can you discuss some of the emerging trends in MNE and social enterprise internationalization strategies that you’ve observed? Multinational enterprises (MNEs) are increasingly focusing on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) practices and achieving carbon neutrality due to pressure from their investors. Consequently, Apple has mandated its supply chain partners to adopt environmentally friendly energy practices and subjected them to sustainability audits. Similarly, banks such as DBS are actively supporting social enterprises as part of their ESG initiatives. An illustrative example of social enterprise internationalization is Japan’s Mother House. To learn more about their work, you can visit their website: here 5. You’ve covered a range of topics, from M&A and technology to AI, blockchain, and fintech. Which of these areas do you find most exciting currently, and why? Certainly, AI remains a widely debated topic, with numerous perspectives shared by various individuals. While some tend to vilify or venerate this technology, it’s important to recognize that technologies, including AI, undergo lifecycles of their own. Personally, I prefer observing technology from a distance to discern its evolution and impact. In terms of M&A narratives, one of the most intriguing stories I covered delved into the analysis of how Chinese internet giants were acquiring or investing in Southeast Asian startups, using them as springboards to enhance their influence in the region. This particular article was penned in 2016. M&A data proves invaluable in supporting insights into the strategies implemented by these companies – illuminating their domestic competition dynamics and their approaches to seizing opportunities for growth on a global scale. 6. How do you approach covering complex macroeconomic issues in China to make them accessible and engaging for your readers? I often request tech experts to simplify their explanations of complex technologies for me in everyday language. Subsequently, I offer explanations in simple terms, utilizing numerous analogies and examples to enhance comprehension. Nonetheless, the policy rationale of a planned economy, as seen in countries like China, fundamentally diverges from that of a capitalist nation. In this context, journalists serve as vital bridges, offering essential background context and articulating information in a manner that resonates with Western readers. 7. Can you share a particularly memorable story or project that you worked on and its impact? In 2014, I conducted an annual earnings analysis on Taiwanese insurance companies and uncovered some suspicious findings. Several companies exhibited exponential revenue growth, yet their losses were rapidly escalating at the same time. Seeking clarity, I reached out to industry experts for insights on the circumstances driving this anomaly and its underlying causes. Moreover, I obtained permission to interview a company’s CEO, who appeared to function as a mere figurehead under the chairman’s directives. The findings led me to conclude that insurance policyholders are likely to lose their financial protection if the company fails to correct its management style. Subsequently, the Financial Supervisory Commission initiated investigations into this company, and another one flagged by industry professionals. The inquiry revealed that these companies were diverting funds from policyholders’ insurance premiums to bolster their investments. Consequently, the government intervened, prompting the closure of these entities and facilitating their acquisition by financially stable corporations. This decisive action safeguarded the interests of the affected insurance customers. This investigative report was conducted…

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Arakan Army treatment of Rohingya minority poses challenge to Myanmar opposition

Evidence of Arakan Army culpability in mass arson attacks on Rohingya homes in western Myanmar’s Buthidaung township – where satellite imagery has confirmed that more than 400 homes were burnt to the ground – poses a serious challenge to the anti-junta opposition. While such attacks have ceased since the Arakan Army captured the majority Rohingya town, the rebels’ double-speak both weakens the prospects of an inclusive federal democracy, and is very shortsighted for the ethnic army’s leadership. As it is said, the truth is the first casualty in war, and so far here’s what we know happened: On May 18, the Arakan Army captured the last remaining four light infantry battalions and two border guard police camps in Buthidaung, following a multi-month siege. Immediately, over 400 homes in Rohingya residential neighborhoods were set ablaze. There is a chance of course that some of the fires were set by the retreating junta military, who had waged a genocidal campaign against the Rohingya in 2017-18. The military seems determined to stoke inter-communal tensions as it retreats from northern Rakhine state, and “false flag” operations are part of the military’s modus operandi. In a bizarre irony, the army has been conscripting Rohingya men into its depleted ranks to fight the Arakan Army, while at the same time, relying on radical groups, such as the Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO) and the Arakan Rohingya Solidarity Army (ARSA), operating in the refugee camps in Bangladesh to recruit fighters. Despite the military’s own culpability in ethnic cleansing, they are trying to paint themselves as defenders of the Rohingya community, as the Arakan Army settles old scores. If the Arakan Army continues such attacks, they are making an alliance between the military and radical Rohingya groups including ARSA and the RSO, inevitable. Flames from burning homes in Buthidaung in Rakhine state, are seen above the treetops in this image provided by a Rohingya refugee, May 17, 2024. (Image from video via AP) While this is not surprising, it is exceptionally short-sighted in its thinking and undermines the effort to defeat Myanmar’s military and establish a federal democracy.  This should not come as a surprise. The Arakan Army’s position on the Rohingya has been two faced. Its leader, Tun Mrat Naing, has a decade-long track record of referring to them as “Bengalis”, parroting the Myanmar military’s own term for the Rohingya.  The arson attacks have also increased tensions between the Arakan Army leadership and the National Unity Government (NUG). Following the military coup in February 2021, the Arakan Army made a very important, if not surprising, statement in support of the NUG position that the Rohingya were a persecuted minority who were entitled to full citizenship, and that the one million refugees in Bangladesh should be repatriated. More intransigent after military gains But with military gains since the Three Brotherhood Alliance launched its offensive on October 27, 2023, the Arakan Army has become far more intransigent. Its leadership has signaled this change to their constituents, whether in social media or simply by greenlighting attacks by local units. The Arakan Army’s military gains are significant. They now claim to have seized 180 military camps and taken full control of eight of Rakhine’s 17 townships. While they have not moved on the state capital of Sittwe or the Chinese special economic zone in Kyaukphyu, they are controlling the roads in and out of them.  Should the Arakan Army complete their capture of Maungdaw, they will have driven the military out of the entire northern region of Rakhine. While the ethnic Rakhine army has stated their intention to liberate the entire state, for now they are trying to control the three main entry points into the northern part of the state in order to consolidate their power.  The military has scant deployments in southern Rakhine, meaning that the Arakan Army’s takeover of the entire state is not unthinkable.  Arakan Army troops pose in Buthidaung, Myanmar, in an image posted to social media May 18, 2024. (AA Info Desk via VKontakte) The Arakan Army has proven itself to be amongst the most effective fighting forces among the ethnic armed organizations. Their battlefield advances have spread the military thin and not allowed the junta to redeploy troops to Kachin, Kayah or northern Shan states, where regime forces have suffered serious setbacks.  Likewise, in eastern Myanmar, though opposition forces had to give up the border town of Myawaddy, the military has not been able to regain full control of the key Asia Highway. In short, military success has given the Arakan Army the opportunity to advance their short-term and parochial political interests at the expense of the national agenda to defeat the military. The Arakan Army’s stated commitments to the anti junta opposition’s long-term political goals, as stated by the NUG, should always be taken with a grain of salt.  They are the only ethnic army that has flirted with independence, and their authoritarian leanings show they are hostile to democracy and any political system that would force them to share power.  Prejudice with huge implications The United League of Arakan, the AA’s political arm, issued a statement on May 20 that denied any culpability for the Rohingya village torchings, apportioning the blame solely on the military. Its statements since then have been largely dismissive and continue to deny the attacks, while criticizing media reporting on civilian casualties. But evidence of their culpability is mounting, underscoring the reality that the Arakan Army does not like the Rohingya population, nor does it want to see large-scale resettlement from Bangladesh. The Arakan Army’s politics capitalize on Rakhine Buddhist prejudice against the Muslim community. The Arakan Army leadership is under intense pressure to renounce any violence towards the Rohingya. But the reality is that many of their troops were involved in the communal violence against them. This is simply a return to their default setting. The Arakan Army’s position has larger implications.  While they might have moved on from the 2017 ethnic cleansing, the international community, including…

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What misconceptions about your home country have you encountered while living in the USA?

Download Complete Report: Click Here Misconceptions about China Chinese People Only Eat Raw Animals: 40% encountered misconceptions about Chinese people only eating raw animals. They clarified that Chinese cuisine is diverse and includes a wide range of cooked dishes, reflecting regional flavours and culinary traditions. No Ethnic Diversity: 25% students encountered misconceptions about China being home to only one ethnic group, with little recognition of its diverse population. They emphasized the rich tapestry of ethnicities and cultures within China, including Han Chinese as the majority but also numerous minority groups. Subpar Education System: 24% students encountered misconceptions about China having a subpar education system, with assumptions of lower academic standards and limited opportunities for intellectual growth. They emphasized the rigorous nature of education in China and the emphasis on academic excellence. High Crime Rates: 11% students encountered misconceptions about crime rates in China, with assumptions of high levels of criminal activity and insecurity. They highlighted China’s efforts in maintaining public safety and low crime rates in many areas. Misconceptions about India All Indians are Hindu: 31% students felt Many Americans wrongly assume that all Indians practice Hinduism, overlooking the religious diversity present in India, which includes significant populations of Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and others. Indians are all IT professionals: 30% students felt that there’s a stereotype that all Indians are IT professionals or work in the tech industry. They clarified that while India has a significant presence in the global IT sector, its workforce is diverse, spanning various industries such as Agriculture, healthcare, finance, entertainment, and more. India is a land of poverty and slums: 24% students felt that there’s a misconception that India is uniformly impoverished and characterized by widespread slums. They highlighted that while poverty exists in India, there are also thriving urban centers, a growing middle class, and areas of affluence. Indians only eat spicy food: 15% students felt that another common stereotype in USA about India is that all Indian cuisine is excessively spicy. They said while Indian cuisine is known for its flavorful spices, there’s a wide variety of dishes with varying levels of spiciness, and not all Indian food is intensely spicy. Misconceptions about South Korea South Korea is Dangerous Due to North Korea: 34% students mentioned that Americans often confuse South Korea with North Korea, assuming that South Korea is a dangerous place due to its proximity and tense relationship with North Korea. This misconception overlooks the fact that South Korea is a developed, stable, and safe country. Pop Culture is All There Is: 25%  students encountered the stereotype that South Korean culture is solely defined by K-pop, K-dramas, and other entertainment exports. While these are significant aspects of modern South Korean culture, they don’t encompass the country’s rich history, diverse traditions, and multifaceted society. Koreans are Overworked: 22% students noted that Americans often perceive South Koreans as being academically obsessed, and overworked. While the education system and work culture in South Korea are rigorous, this stereotype can overlook the balanced and fulfilling lives many South Koreans lead. Korea is Conservative: 13% highlighted the misconception that while South Korea is technologically advanced, its daily life remains overly conservative. Students pointed out that South Korea is a dynamic country where modernity and tradition coexist, and many aspects of daily life are quite progressive. Every Meal has Kimchi: 6% students mentioned that many Americans believe kimchi is a constant and mandatory part of every meal in South Korea. While kimchi is a staple in Korean cuisine, it is not the only food Koreans eat, and the cuisine is diverse and varied.

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