For some weeks, importers have been unable to list Lithuania as a country of origin in Chinese customs databases, making it impossible to clear shipments (Lithuania does not export much to China, however). German and French firms have been warned that they may not ship goods with Lithuanian components to China, potentially blocking hundreds of containers already in transit. There are rumours that the People’s Bank of China, the central bank, has forbidden banks from issuing letters of credit covering trade in or out of any port in the Baltic states. When eu officials raised these concerns, Chinese authorities retorted that Lithuania is lying and that the eu should beware of being taken hostage by a tiny troublemaker.
In its desire to punish Lithuania, China is betting that bigger eu powers will think of China’s market and abandon the Baltic minnow. In doing so, China overlooks the extent to which small or mid-ranking European countries have a horror of a world in which great powers set their own rules. Europeans loathed Mr Trump for his America-first trade policies. They detest China-first bullying just as much, especially when it threatens the integrity of the European single market.
In eu councils even Hungary, which is normally friendly to China, is speaking up for Lithuania. On November 30th France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, told Lithuania’s, Gitanas Nauseda, that France sees engagement with major powers as a vital interest—but puts a higher priority still on eu solidarity. On December 8th two senior eu officials warned that the apparent trade ban, if confirmed, may put China in breach of its World Trade Organisation obligations. Soon afterwards the eu unveiled new instruments to retaliate against economic coercion by third countries. Free-traders within the bloc doubt whether such tools can work. But the same governments are also troubled by China’s behaviour.
Media freedom continued to be under attack across much of the world in 2021, with nine journalists killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan alone and 102 imprisoned in China, according to a new report released Thursday.
The International Federation of Journalists said in a bleak assessment that imprisonments were especially on the rise, with 365 journalists behind bars compared to 235 last year.
“The world needs to wake up to the growing violations of journalists’ rights and media freedoms across the globe,” IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said. The report was released on the eve of the United Nations’ Human Rights Day.
Apart from China, Turkey had 34 journalists in prison, Belarus and Eritrea 29, Egypt 27 and Vietnam 21.
On 2021.12.06 the Biden administration announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, citing China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses.”
Countries are boycotting to send a message over to pressure Beijing over abuses against the Uyghur community (which has been declared a genocide by some), a crackdown on pro-democracy free speech protests in Hong Kong, China’s recent aggression toward Taiwan, pursuit of hypersonic weapons, and its secrecy surrounding the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the White House is looking to send a “clear message” that the human rights abuses in China mean there cannot be “business as usual.”
Athletes from these countries are free to participate in the games. But in light of China’s threat that countries will pay a price for this, athletes, journalists, tourists, and others must be hesitant about attending.
» Two-time Olympic luge champion – Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger – may skip Beijing Games over athlete mistreatment in China » CBC
The following countries have announced they will not be sending diplomats or officials to the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing »
Zha Liyou, the Chinese consul general in Kolkata, India, tweeted an unfounded claim that Covid-19 could have been imported to China from the United States through a batch of Maine lobsters shipped to a seafood market in Wuhan in November 2019. It marks the latest in a series of theories that have been pushed by pro-China accounts since the start of the pandemic.
With some further digging, Schliebs uncovered a network of more than 550 Twitter accounts, which he shared with NBC News, spreading a nearly identical message, translated into multiple languages — including English, Spanish, French, Polish, Korean and even Latin — at similar times each day between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. China Standard Time.
Some of the accounts were “unsophisticated sock puppets” with “very few or zero followers,” Schliebs said, while others appeared to be accounts that were once authentic but had been hijacked and repurposed to spread disinformation.
“Attribution is really difficult,” said Schliebs, a postdoctoral researcher of computational propaganda at Oxford’s Programme on Democracy and Technology. “But we can see there’s a coordinated effort, and that it’s a pro-Chinese narrative.”
Wall Street Journal » China’s electricity shortages have hit factories that produce a lot of the goods we use every day, including Apple gadgets and furniture. The country’s coal problems expose the growing pains in transitioning to a greener future and risks to the global supply chain.