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China Reform Monitor - No. 1303

Where have Wuhan's students gone?;
Taiwan-Singapore military ties under pressure

Edited by Joshua Eisenman
October 31, 2017

September 29:

Dozens of university students have gone missing since 2013 in Wuhan, Hubei, according to distraught relatives. Most were young men around 20 years old, with top academic records and around 5 foot 9 inches tall – sparking fears that they were targeted for a specific reason. A journalist, surnamed Wang,
who wrote an article titled "32 Students Mysteriously Disappear in Wuhan" has been detained by Wuhan police for "faking the facts and spreading rumors." The article, which featured interviews with family members of the missing students, was removed after Wuhan authorities said it was inaccurate and because the father of one of the students in question had requested it be taken down, the official Beijing Youth Daily reports.

However, in a subsequent
interview with Radio Free Asia
, Lin Shaoqing, the parent in question, said: "When our son had just gone missing, Wang interviewed me, and the report came out around the same time. Everything [in it] was factually correct." Shuai Jinfu, the father of another missing student, also stood by the article: "The police are saying that this is rumor-mongering, but it isn't. There are 17 or 18 families in our group chat for people with missing kids. We went to the police wanting them to search phone records or [social media], but they refused to accept the case. The whole group went to petition at the Hubei provincial government in March, and we were received by a few department heads, but nothing has happened since." Police have refused to accept missing persons reports for the students, claiming that they are adults with the right to disappear if they want to.

October 3:

Dozens of delegates to the 19th Party Congress were disqualified for "political" reasons.
The official Xinhua news agency carried a 10,000-character article on the "birth" of the 2,287 delegates to the upcoming party congress. It stressed that the central authorities insist that "political correctness" is the top priority and delegates who were not completely loyal to the CPC, or keeping pace with the central committee with comrade Xi Jinping as the core, were disqualified. The article said delegates hailed from a total of 40 regions, but those excluded came from Chongqing, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Shandong, Shaanxi, Gansu, and Yunnan provinces, Hsin Pao reports.

October 4:

Taipei is looking into whether Lu Li-an, a China-based Taiwanese woman who was selected to attend the 19th Party Congress, has violated the law. Lu, president of the Shanghai Taiwan Compatriots Friendship Association, is among the 2,287 delegates to the Congress, one of 10 Taiwanese nationals selected, and the only one born in Taiwan. The other nine are second-generation Taiwanese born in China or based there. Authorities are investigating whether Lu has violated Article 33 of the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, which prohibit a Taiwanese from becoming a member of or holding a position in political parties, the military, the administration and agencies, institutions or organizations on the Mainland Area. Lu, who was born in Kaohsiung, is currently a deputy dean at Fudan University in Shanghai,
Focus Taiwan reports.

October 5:

Authorities in Dandong, Liaoning have warned local firms that they will be fined 5,000 yuan for each illegal North Korean worker they hire,
the Kyodo news service reports. Because Beijing wants to avoid provoking Pyongyang, Dandong authorities have not publicized the notices, which were given to local businesses. Companies that continue to hire North Korean workers will face steeper penalties. Dandong authorities have also prohibited Chinese firms from purchasing textiles made in North Korea. UN sanctions call on countries not to grant work permits to North Korean migrants. Dandong authorities are allowing existing permits to expire, but are not issuing new work permits. The measures will "have a big impact because we had been able to hire North Korean workers on the cheap," said an official at a local factory. The pressure comes after four major Chinese banks froze accounts held by North Koreans last month, the Japan Times reports.

October 6:

Despite pressure from Beijing, Singapore will not end Project Starlight, its long running military training program with Taiwan,
the South China Morning Post reports
. Project Starlight was set up in 1975 in a deal between Singapore’s late prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, and Taiwan’s then-premier, Chiang Ching-kuo. Given the city-state’s small size, both sides agreed to train together in Taiwan. The program, which came under close scrutiny by Beijing after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen took office, appeared in jeopardy in early September when Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visited China and agreed to strengthen military ties with the Mainland. Last November, Chinese authorities intercepted nine armored troop carriers in Hong Kong returning to Singapore from Kaohsiung after they were used in Project Starlight, and demanded Singapore end its military ties with Taiwan. Singapore has "assured" Taipei that the military agreement will continue, however.

Related Categories: China; China and East Asia Program

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