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TOPIC OF THE WEEK
Foreign Direct Investment
EU takes first steps to curb foreign takeovers
CHINA AND THE WORLD
Chinese-born New Zealand MP probed by country’s top spy agency
A Chinese-born politician in New Zealand is allegedly under investigation by the country’s Security Intelligence Service (SIS) for his educational and teaching background at elite Chinese military colleges that train intelligence officers. The allegations stem from a joint investigation by the Financial Times and New Zealand's Newsroom.
Jian Yang has represented New Zealand’s governing National Party in parliament since 2011 and served on a committee for foreign affairs, defense and trade from October 2014 to March 2016. He has also been a prominent fundraiser for the party. Prior to his move to New Zealand to pursue an academic career in 1994, Yang had spent more than 10 years teaching at his alma mater, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force Engineering Academy, and at the Luoyang Foreign Languages Institute. These affiliations would suggest that he was a member of the Communist Party member.
The reports on the investigation have triggered an alarmed debate in New Zealand, including a call to follow Australia’s example in introducing a law against foreign interference activities.
The speculations about Yang are in line with similar reports on China’s activities to influence politics in Australia, as well as with the expulsion of Chinese-American professor Huang Jing from Singapore for attempting to influence the government in collaboration with Chinese intelligence agents.
Yang responded to the reports by saying that he had not been an active CCP member and had not had any contact with Chinese intelligence agents since he left China. He also spoke of a “smear campaign by nameless people” who wanted to inflict damage on him and the National Party shortly before the elections, “just because I am Chinese.” New Zealand’s general elections will take place on September 23.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry distanced itself from the event by stressing that Yang is a New Zealand citizen and that China does not comment on other countries’ domestic affairs.
News in brief
- China announces crackdown on violations of patents and trade secrets ahead of Trump visit to Beijing
- Beijing considers opening up to foreign electric carmakers
- North Korea: China and Russia carry out military drills close to border
- Panama: Chinese embassy opens, after Panama cut ties with Taiwan
- 19th Communist Party Congress: military reshuffle continues
POLITICS, SOCIETY AND MEDIA
Religious groups in China face much closer scrutiny
China tightens cyber regulations ahead of key party meeting
Weeks before the 19th Party Congress, China has introduced new regulations to curb online criticism and stepped up measures to increase cyber security. The fourth annual Cybersecurity Week kicked off on September 16 with activities aimed at educating the public about the risks of online data theft and computer hacking. Chinese internet users are particularly vulnerable to cybercrime. A report published this month warned that 90 percent of Android smartphones in China suffered from serious security bugs.
The educational campaign is accompanied by measures to tighten censorship. New regulations released on September 7 make chat group administrators liable for the content of their chat group.
The regulations due to come into effect in October also link chat groups to China’s Social Credit System by obligating chat providers to introduce their own rating system. Chat participants who post sensitive materials will see their score go down, their right to manage chat groups suspended and they will get reported to the authorities.
China has traditionally stepped up censorship efforts in the run-up to important political meetings and anniversaries. This time, however, the authorities have introduced measures that look set to stay well after the party congress has ended.
China ramps up fight against air pollution
News in brief
ECONOMY, FINANCE AND TECHNOLOGY
China moves towards banning internal combustion engines
Large-scale new fund to pool private and state capital for SOE restructuring
Chinese central bank scraps reserve requirements for some forex deals
News in brief
- Bitcoin: Exchanges in China to close
- Siemens: Global robotics R&D center to open in Beijing
- Property markets: Smaller cities announce tough new controls
- Economic growth: August data show slump in investment
- Cement industry: Merger creates world’s largest building materials maker
- Debt growth: S&P Cuts China’s Credit Rating