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  • https://udumbara.net/china-cdc-covid-19-one-of-the-drivers-behind-outbreak-china-in-focus
    China CDC: COVID-19 One of the Drivers Behind Outbreak | China In Focus
    China CDC: COVID-19 One of the Drivers Behind Outbreak | China In Focus
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  • https://udumbara.net/how-will-american-officials-respond-to-beijings-new-wave-of-covid
    How will American officials respond to Beijing’s new wave of COVID?
    How will American officials respond to Beijing’s new wave of COVID?
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  • https://udumbara.net/industrial-exodus-from-shenzhen-guangzhou-crumbles-leads-to-chinas-gdp-fraud-of-1-trillion
    Industrial Exodus From Shenzhen, Guangzhou Crumbles, Leads to China’s GDP Fraud of $1 Trillion
    Industrial Exodus From Shenzhen, Guangzhou Crumbles, Leads to China’s GDP Fraud of $1 Trillion
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  • https://udumbara.net/us-army-should-end-venezuelas-planned-invasion-of-guyana
    US Army Should End Venezuela’s Planned Invasion of Guyana
    Commentary Venezuela is all but threatening Guyana—its smaller pro-American southern neighbor—with an invasion. On Nov. 20, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced a “people’s vote” to “respond to the provocations of Exxon, the U.S. Southern Command, and the president of Guyana” by deciding on whether to annex the Essequibo region, which includes almost 75 percent of the country’s territory and 200,000 Guyanese. The area has most of the country’s oil reserves, the largest globally per capita. Few Essequibo residents speak Spanish, the language of Venezuela, or have significant relations with the country. Most speak English and indigenous languages. While the International Court of Justice sensibly ruled against any Venezuelan invasion of Guyana on Dec. 1, it, unfortunately, did not take a position against the vote, which will almost certainly pass and stakes Mr. Maduro’s reputation on following through. Mr. Maduro’s election in 2018 was a fraud, and his current approval rating is just 20 percent. The unpopular dictator is unlikely to be elected in the 2024 election without dirty tricks. This vote to invade a neighbor is his authoritarian form of electoral jujitsu. The most popular candidate is María Corina Machado, who is pro-democracy, pro-market, has a positive approach to the United States, and has supported foreign military intervention against the Venezuelan regime. That should be a serious policy option under consideration by the Biden administration before Mr. Maduro destabilizes South America further. A U.S. Army delegation visited Guyana in late November to discuss military readiness and security threats, which is a step in the right direction. If the United States does defend Guyana, perhaps the Guyanese people would be so kind as to pay the bill with their newfound oil wealth. At over $33 trillion in debt, the United States is a bit tight at the moment. Mr. Maduro is responsible if a war results. Instead of going through a normal electoral process, his regime invalidated Ms. Machado’s candidacy. “Maduro needs to mobilise party loyalists to defend two decades of socialist rule during which his party and its predecessors have turned Caracas into an international pariah, shattered its state-run oil industry, fuelled mass emigration and empowered violent gangs,” according to the Financial Times. Mr. Maduro is an ally of Russia. He sells much of his oil—which, until October, was sanctioned by the United States—to China. The sanctions were imposed by the Trump administration in 2019 in a failed attempt to oust Mr. Maduro in favor of a pro-American leader of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó. Mr. Guaidó, who established a government-in-exile with the help of the Trump administration, is now on the lam from Venezuelan law and living in the United States. The Biden administration temporarily lifted the sanctions to decrease energy inflation and illegal immigration. Their continued removal was conditioned on fair elections and the freeing of hostages and political prisoners. But Caracas broke the agreement by invalidating the opposition’s primary choice and not releasing the country’s political prisoners and hostages. Within days of the U.S. sanctions relief, Venezuela allegedly took into custody another American hostage, Savoi Wright. The regime filed no criminal charges and did not give Mr. Wright access to a lawyer. His family says the ransom demand is tens of thousands of dollars. In addition to having a government of apparent criminals, Venezuela is a haven for terrorists, drug smugglers, and money laundering, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Allowing Mr. Maduro to stay in power after all he did would be a travesty. Allowing him to do so by hyping nationalist sentiment in favor of violence against a neighboring country should be unthinkable. Allowing him to actually carry through and invade, causing untold deaths just 1,800 miles from Miami, should be a crime. Already, Brazil is mobilizing its military to intervene near the borders of Venezuela and Guyana, which could spread war to a much larger scale. It would destabilize all of South America, buttress the strength of Mr. Maduro due to the “rally around the flag” effect, and encourage other would-be aggressors globally to resort to violence as their poll numbers drop. That would feed a steady stream of new pariah states into the arms of Xi Jinping in China. Something similar has already happened in Russia, Iran, and Burma (Myanmar). When states invade countries, sponsor terrorism, or execute genocides, they get sanctioned by the West. But their trade with China remains unsanctioned. That turns them into dependent vassals of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Failure of the world’s law-abiding democracies to impose sanctions on not only their own trade with rogue states but also on trade between rogue states is creating a politically polarized world, with the most powerful pole being Beijing. It plays int
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  • https://udumbara.net/ccp-wont-relinquish-control-of-chinas-economy-to-save-it
    CCP Won’t Relinquish Control of China’s Economy to Save It
    CommentaryThe steps that Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping would need to take to save the economy would require him to relinquish control—but he is not prepared to do that.The general outlook for the Chinese economy is slightly better than it was a few months ago, with gross domestic product (GDP) growth hitting 4.9 percent year-on-year in the third quarter. However, structural issues remain in place, dampening hopes of a full recovery or a return to the years of fast-paced growth.China's economy and its leader are sending conflicting signals. There are mixed outcomes despite Xi’s expressed desire to shift the economy away from real estate and export-oriented growth toward increased consumption and support for the private sector. The economy has outperformed expectations this quarter, with a 2023 growth target set at 5 percent, and Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) projecting 5.4 percent growth. Long-term loan demand is rising, and the savings rate has dipped below 30 percent of disposable income, reflecting increased spending and a rising percentage of consumption in GDP.Despite a 0.73 percentage point interest rate cut by the central bank to stimulate home purchases, property sales remain sluggish, experiencing a 21-percent decline in floor space sold in September compared to the previous year. Completed buildings constitute nearly 25 percent of sales this year, a notable increase from 13 percent in 2021, signaling a decrease in new construction projects. Persistent deflation poses an ongoing threat to the economy, with consumer prices declining in each of the previous two quarters.Related Stories10/10/2023Xi promised to tackle the debt and bring about quality growth. However, local government debt continues to be a significant weak point in China’s economic outlook. To avoid defaults, Beijing is now allowing local governments to issue “refinancing bonds” to cover late payments to suppliers and replace the local government financing vehicles with lower-cost debt. This does not solve the problem. It just increases the debt, which will come due at some point in the future.Industrial profits increased by 2.7 percent from a year ago, but the growth rate slowed notably in October compared to September, contributing to deflationary pressures on prices. Factory gate prices, a key deflation indicator, fell by 2.6 percent in October. In the initial three quarters of the year, state-owned enterprises witnessed a 9.9-percent profit decline, while private sector firms experienced a 1.9-percent drop. Xi said he would take steps to promote private enterprise. So far, however, he seems to favor state-owned firms, which, judging by their lower profitability, appears to be a mistake.In an attempt to stimulate the economy, the CCP issued $141 billion of bonds in the fourth quarter to finance infrastructure spending. As a result, the budget deficit rose to 3.8 percent of GDP—a record high.To attract foreign investment, Beijing has been designated as “the capital city,” where policy measures are being undertaken, which, according to Vice Minister of Commerce Ling Ji, are meant to “align with international high-standard economic and trade rules.”New measures include raising the cap on foreign investment in critical sectors like telecom, health care, and medical. Beijing aims to foster market-based collaboration among financial institutions, venture capital, and equity investment firms in the financial sector. Under the new rules, qualified overseas individuals can now offer financial consultation services for securities and trade investment. The closed office of the Mintz Group is seen in an office building in Beijing on March 24, 2023. Five Chinese employees at the Beijing office of U.S.-due diligence firm Mintz Group have been detained by authorities, the company said on March 24. (Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)However, the CCP has given no indication that the new counterespionage law is to be repealed. Under it, several consulting and due diligence firms have been raided. On top of this, employers in China are having trouble attracting foreign employees and experts because the visa process has become challenging for workers from most countries. 'Party-State Capitalism' In the book "The State and Capitalism in China," Margaret Pearson, a professor at the University of Maryland, refers to the Chinese economic system under the CCP as “party-state capitalism.” Under Xi’s leadership, the regime has steadily increased its control over the private sector. The social credit score system is one example of governmental intrusion in the private sector. The companies with the highest scores are those with executives serving as high-level CCP officials. Companies also host Party committees, which channel information about the company or its industry to regulators. So, while Xi claims to want to encourage private companies, he is increasing state controls.One of Xi’s goals is to promote China’s technological development,
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  • https://udumbara.net/with-soaring-suicide-rate-a-student-bemoans-the-fading-of-hong-kong
    With Soaring Suicide Rate, a Student Bemoans the Fading of Hong Kong
    “The Bauhinia withers, dusk settles, as it awaits—through the darkest night—the dawn that comes for certain in the future—those some other days, where it once had, once treasured, and once prospered.”This is a poem in English titled “Worth a Toast.” The “Bauhinia” here is a synonym for Hong Kong. In a few lines, it depicts the reality of Hong Kong’s past and present. It was written by Alex Lam (pseudonym), a 15-year-old boy who was a secondary school student in Hong Kong until the summer vacation. Just a month ago, he left Hong Kong to continue his studies overseas. After learning that a student three years younger than him at his school in Hong Kong had committed suicide, he composed this poem out of grief and anger.In November, it was reported that 37 schoolchildren in Hong Kong had committed suicide this year. 306 Schoolchildren Attempted Suicide from January to November The HKJC Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention at HKU quoted police figures on Nov. 16, stating that 306 suicide cases among schoolchildren have been recorded since the beginning of 2023, of which 37 were fatal, and the rest attempted suicide. Further analysis shows that the causes of suicide among schoolchildren are school-related (37.3 percent), family-related (28.8 percent), and mental health-related (18.3 percent). Girls account for 70 percent of the cases, while May and October are high-risk months.According to another survey released by the Faculty of Medicine of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) on November 29, 3.9 percent of the respondents had had suicidal ideation during the past year.According to the same survey findings, 24.4 percent of the respondents suffered from at least one count of mental disorder in the past year at the time of the interview, and about half of them suffered from two or more mental illnesses at the same time. The relevant survey was conducted between 2019 and 2023, with a total of 6,082 school children and adolescents aged 6 to 17 being interviewed. The CUHK team described the problem of suicide ideation among schoolchildren as just “the tip of the iceberg.” Chip Tsao, an eminent Hong Kong current affairs commentator now residing in the UK, made the mocking remark that Hong Kong has become the “student suicide port of Asia.” Responses from Government and Research Institutions According to the CUHK research team, common risk factors faced by adolescents can be divided into three broad categories, including parents with clinically significant emotional distress, children and adolescents with sleep disorders themselves, and academic difficulties (such as repeating a grade, school suspension, or absenteeism). On the other hand, non-ethnic Chinese adolescents are found to have a higher risk of developing anxiety disorders.Mr. Wong Yan-lung, Chairperson of the Advisory Committee on Mental Health, suggested that schools should “put children’s mental health first” and relieve the burden on learning progress.Related StoriesDr. Hung Se-fong, a member of the Advisory Committee on Mental Health, and Clinical Professor (Honorary) of the Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, CUHK, also believes that schools should prioritize the mental health and resilience of students, rather than prioritizing just academic performance.Mr. Chan Ying-kit, Supervising Officer at the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, believes that the steep rise in the number of suicide cases among schoolchildren in recent months may be related to the return to normal life post-pandemic, and calls on parents and schools to allow students a bit more breathing space.However, none of the groups had provided specific reasons for the spike in numbers. Repressive Environment and Lack of Candid Communication Whether or not it is the “return to normal” or some other reasons, in one letter to his mother, Alex gave his view on why students resort to giving up their lives as mental stress outweighs the pressure from studies alone, with the former coming from comparison and competition among peer groups or may even involve other deep-rooted conflicts within the Hong Kong society:“Education policies continue to rot year after year, and textbooks are filled with plenty of CCP rhetoric.” When Alex was in Hong Kong, he complained to his mother that textbooks were increasingly filled with CCP lies.The three main publishing conglomerates in Hong Kong: Joint Publishing, Chung Hwa Book Company, and Commercial Press, and many bookstores and publishing houses are owned or controlled by either Chinese enterprises or “patriotic merchants.” The local CCP Liaison Office fully controls the three main publishers through the United Publishing Group. In other words, most, if not all, textbook publishers in Hong Kong have the local CCP Liaison Office as their ultimate boss.After the implementation of the National Security Law (NSL), one teacher at Alex’s school was anonymously reported for his remarks in class and was criticized on the front page by
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  • https://udumbara.net/floridas-desantis-promises-to-ban-china-from-investing-in-american-technology-ai
    Florida’s DeSantis Promises to Ban China From Investing in American Technology, AI
    'If elected to office, I pledge to prevent foreign investments of US tech companies from aiding our adversaries, like the Chinese Communist Party,' he says.Florida's Gov. Ron DeSantis continued his presidential campaign on Dec. 5 by pledging to ban Communist China from being able to invest in American companies responsible for developing sensitive technologies and artificial intelligence.Mr. DeSantis's Tech-Integrity Project Pledge states: “If elected to office, I pledge to prevent foreign investments of U.S. tech companies from aiding our adversaries, like the Chinese Communist Party, and harming America’s economic competitiveness and national security."Specifically, I will do everything in my power to block adversaries from benefiting from U.S.-made next-gen technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and quantum computing.”The goal of the tech-integrity project is "to protect the national security and economic competitiveness of the United States by preventing American Big Tech companies from helping" America's adversaries, especially the CCP, by educating presidential candidates and voters and supporting policies that would restrict and prevent American companies from getting away with such behavior.In its mission statement, the project calls out Big Tech companies like Microsoft and Apple for selling out and "aiding and abetting the CCP to gain access to China's market and reap profits.""The American people and our hard-fought freedoms are what enabled these companies to become the behemoths they are today," the project states in its mission statement.Related Stories"They should put our country first. Instead, Big Tech is helping China with artificial intelligence, giving trade secrets to the CCP, and selling sensitive technologies to Chinese firms who serve China's military and commit human rights atrocities."DeSantis has maintained his stance against Communist China during his governorship and defended it on the campaign trail.In his going-on two terms in Tallahassee, the governor has signed legislation to ban the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)—and its associates—from owning land and doing business in Florida.He has also shut down CCP-operated Confucius Institutes on Florida college campuses.The governor has also distinguished himself from his fellow Republicans by demonstrating that he does not leave well enough alone when it comes to big businesses, specifically by standing up to The Walt Disney Company after it threatened to fight against the Parental Rights in Education bill.He's been on record accusing people in the Republican Party of having a hands-off "chamber of commerce view" of business and preferring to allow corporations to do as they please.And, in the case of Disney, he's asserted multiple times that he would continue to fight back and not allow a corporation to utilize size, subsidiaries, and special privileges to work against Florida parents and policy.He also passed legislation that prohibited corporations from threatening their employees with job loss if they did not get vaccinated.The Epoch Times reached out to both the governor's campaign and the Tech Integrity Project for further comment, but neither party responded in time for publication.Mr. DeSantis is scheduled to participate in the fourth Republican Presidential Debate in Alabama on Dec. 6.
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