China Meeting With North Korea & Saudi Refugee

South & East Asian News Roundup 10/01/2019

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Some interesting news this week as we look in North Korea (again), Thailand, and China. Kim Jong Un visited China this last week which is interested as it is prior to the next US-North Korea Summit. In Thailand is a developing story where a Saudi Arabian woman locked herself into a Thai hotel to escape having to return to Saudi Arabia. China is coming under the microscope as their censorship policies are going to be upgraded this year with the new challenges of 2019.

Kim Jong Un Visits China Prior To Second Summit With US

Kim Jong Un made his first visit of the year to China this last week as a train was spotted crossing the border between the nations. This was his fourth visit to China which followed his “alternative paths” speech given on North Korean TV regarding his new direction with the sanctions agreed upon with the US. Rumors about Kim’s visit to China began late Monday local time when a North Korean train painted green carrying a “senior North Korean official” was described crossing over the North Korea-China border, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported. Heavy security was spotted in the train station in the Chinese border city of Dandong just after 10 p.m. The reported meeting Monday came a day after President Trump told reporters a second location for the second U.S.-North Korea summit is in negotiations.

Saudi Woman In Thai Hotel Considered For Refugee Status

A Saudi woman escaped to Thailand and locked herself in her hotel in the last week. Rahaf Mohammed Mutlaq Al-Qunun flew to Thailand from Kuwait where she was on vacation with her family. She intended to fly on to Australia but barricaded herself in a hotel room in Bangkok’s main airport on Sunday after Thai immigration officials attempted to deport her back to the Middle East. Qunun said her family would kill her if she returned because she had renounced Islam and she is currently under the protection of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) as it determines her future, Thailand’s immigration police chief, Surachate Hakparn said in a press conference.  On Monday, Hakparn said that Qunun was “now under the sovereignty of Thailand” and “we will protect her as best as we can.” “Since she escaped trouble to seek our help, we are the Land of Smiles, we will not send anyone to their death. We won’t do that, we will adhere to the human rights principles under the rule of law,” he said. Qunun will have to wait in Thailand until Australia has considered the UNHCR’s referral for refugee resettlement.

China’s censors face a major test in 2019

In 2009 China responded to a series of deadly protests in Urumqi, Xinjiang by cutting off the internet of the entire region. A region of 20 million people within 617,700 square miles, completely cut off of internet overnight, for 10 months. Businesses dependent on the web, like internet cafes or travel agencies, quickly went under, while others had to send staff on the 620-mile (1,000-kilometer) journey to the neighboring province of Gansu to get online. Some people made the 24-hour drive every week to communicate with customers, keep university applications current, or simply keep their families updated. 2009 was the biggest test the architects of the Great Firewall had faced at the time, and they responded with a blistering assault that shocked even their critics. 2019 will see not only the 10th anniversary of the Urumqi riots at a time when sensitivity over Xinjiang is at an all-time high but also 30 years since the Tiananmen massacre. It will present perhaps the last great challenge to the censors who have managed to almost erase the incident from Chinese popular consciousness. For the censors overseeing that effort, 2019 could become a year-long roadshow demonstrating the effectiveness of their internet controls, showing they can stifle any criticism of the government around the key anniversaries of Urumqi and Tiananmen in time for a propaganda extravaganza in October for the 70th birthday of the People’s Republic of China.

You can read more from Amos Joseph on Think Liberty here.

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