Katyusha News Reference – Monday, March 15, 2021

I. The New Federal State of China News

1. China plans to extend by 47% the total length of its national expressway system by 2035 to support regional economies, but the projects will only compound the massive debt incurred.

2. The leader of the AFL-CIO, the largest U.S. labor federation, is calling on the Biden administration and Congress to stop imports of solar products from China’s Xinjiang region over human rights concerns. In letters to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said there is “convincing evidence of systematic forced labor” in solar production in Xinjiang and he demanded “immediate focused action.”

3. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s influential sister slammed the US and South Korea on Tuesday, state media reported, as the new US secretaries of state and defense began a visit to Tokyo and Seoul. “a word of advice to the new administration of the United States that is struggling to spread the smell of gunpowder on our land from across the ocean” she said, “If you wish to sleep well for the next four years, it would be better not to create work from the start that will make you lose sleep.” 

4. A new Office for National Statistics report assessing the damage done by the pandemic showed Covid-19 caused more deaths in 2020 than other infectious diseases caused in any year for over a century. The last time an infectious disease had a similar toll on the nation was way back in 1918 during the so-called ‘Spanish flu’ influenza pandemic.

5. China said on Monday it will simplify visa applications for foreign nationals who have been inoculated with Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines.

6. China will strengthen anti-trust regulatory powers to push forward healthy, sustainable development of internet platforms, state CCTV television quoted President Xi Jinping as saying at a regular top-level economic meeting on Monday. The same day China’s government has asked Alibaba Group Holding Ltd to dispose of its media assets

7. Former Tsinghua policy professor Wu Qiang as saying that Xi “is probably planning to make a definitive annexation move” or, in the language of the CCP, “unify” with Taiwan “within the next five years “.

8. Encrypted messaging app Signal has stopped working in China and is now only accessible via a virtual private network (VPN). Signal claims to be an end-to-end encrypted, meaning the company itself, nor any outsiders can view the contents of messages between a sender and the intended recipient. This also means authorities cannot snoop on messages.

9. In a report published on March 15, La Lettre A revealed Chinese ambassador to France Lu Shaye reportedly sent a “harshly worded” letter to French Senator Alain Richard demanded him to cancel a planned parliamentary delegation visit to Taiwan . According to the report, Richard was “very displeased” about the tone in which the letter was written, and he is planning to give the Chinese embassy a clear reply

10. The European Union discussed the legislative process of vaccine passports on the 17th, and Chinese vaccine passports may be excluded from recognition because they are not approved by the European Union Medicines Agency (EMA), a move that drew serious protests from Serbia, an Eastern European country that receives Chinese vaccines, criticizing it as geopolitical discrimination.

11. Former chairman of the Hong Kong Demosisto in exile in the United Kingdom, Nathan Law, together with eight activists living overseas, including former Secretary-General of the Federation of Students, Alex Chow, and former legislator, Ted Hui, held an online press conference on Sunday to announce the launch of the 2021 Hong Kong Charter, calling for solidarity among Hongkongers overseas who sympathize with the city’s pro-democracy movement, and continue to fight for democracy and freedom in Hong Kong. The Charter also urges the international community to “stand together, to safeguard democratic values under the threat of Chinese Communist totalitarianism”.

II. World News

1. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is arranging to depart on April 8 for a three-day trip to Washington and expected to become the first foreign leader to meet in person with U.S. President Joe Biden, government sources said Monday.

2. The Tokyo Games organizing committee, said Monday the Olympic torch relay opening ceremony on March 25 will be held without spectators in the northeastern Fukushima Prefecture to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus

3. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on Friday said he will offer a resolution to remove Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., from the House Intelligence Committee. The resolution could come as soon as Tuesday. Following reports that an undercover Chinese national, known as Fang Fang, helped fundraise for his 2014 re-election campaign, without the knowledge of Swalwell.

4. Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi insurgents, removed from the US government list of terrorist organizations by the Biden administration last month, fired a missile on Sunday at a school in the Taiz region, killing three children along with 15 soldiers from the internationally-recognized government of Yemen.

5. Myanmar’s domestic mobile communication operators have been informed that they will shut down their mobile communication network indefinitely since March 15, and their mobile phones will only reserve the functions of calling and SMS. At present, Myanmar’s optical fiber communication network (FTTH) has not been shut down, and users can also access the Internet through the WiFi function of the optical fiber network.

Himalaya Moscow Katyusha(RU)ladin

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