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Biden commerce secretary pick won’t promise to keep Huawei on blacklist

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While pledging a tough line on China, President Joe Biden‘s nominee for secretary of commerce would not promise to keep the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei on the United States’ economic blacklist.

“We can’t have the Chinese or really anyone having a backdoor into our network and compromising in any way our national or economic security,” Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) said at her Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday.

When talking about Huawei, Raimondo said she would “use the full tool kit at my disposal […] to protect Americans and our network from Chinese interference or any kind of backdoor influence into our network.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) brought up that Huawei was one of many Chinese companies that had been placed on the Bureau of Industry and Security’s entities list under the Trump administration for their role in the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) mass surveillance and repression of Uighur Muslims. On his last day in the department, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo labeled the actions of the Chinese government as “genocide,” a view which Biden and his newly appointed Secretary of State Antony Blinken share.

When asked by Cruz if she would promise to maintain those companies on the blacklist, Raimondo said that “I will commit to working with you on that, and I certainly agree with you that the entities list is a powerful tool in the commerce secretary’s tool kit to shore up American national security.”

She was then asked about Huawei, to which Raimondo said that “I will review the policy, consult with you, consult with industry, consult with our allies, and make an assessment as to what’s best for American national and economic security.”

Cruz didn’t seem to like Raimondo’s answer, replying: “Well, I will say that there is chatter in Washington that the Biden administration is contemplating going easy on China and removing companies from the entities list—I certainly hope that does not happen, because I think that would be profoundly contrary to the national security interest of the United States.”

Later, Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse (R) published a statement blasting this, saying: “This is ridiculous: Huawei didn’t change because America has a new President. Huawei is still the Chinese Communist Party’s tech puppet and a serious threat to national security.”

While White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday underscored “strategic patience” in the Biden administration’s interagency review process and its outreach to Republicans, Democrats, and global allies about its China strategy, former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe felt that patience wasn’t the answer. On Monday, Ratcliffe told Fox News that the U.S. stance toward China needed action, not patience, according to The Washington Examiner. During her hearing, Raimondo said multiple times that the Biden administration was engaged in a broad review on how to tackle China.

Back in early December, Ratcliffe labeled China the “greatest threat” to freedom since World War II in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece.

While no vote was taken immediately on Raimondo’s nomination, Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) predicted she would soon win confirmation, according to The Wall Street Journal.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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REPORT: China has vast network of covert police stations around the world

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China has a vast network of covert police stations abroad, according to a recent report by Safeguard Defenders, an NGO that focuses on human rights violations in China and other Asian countries. These police stations serve consular functions, but are also used by China to crack down on what the CCP deems “illegal” activity of Chinese nationals abroad. The police stations include at least 38 run by the Fuzhou City police, and 22 run by the Qingtian City police. Cities housing these police stations include New York, Toronto (which has three stations), London (two), Paris (three), Buenos Aires, Rio De Janeiro, and Tokyo.

Key findings of the report are below.

“Persuaded to return”

According to China, China has “persuaded to return [to China]” 230,000 Chinese nationals living aboard from April 2021 to July 2022 alone to face charges of fraud and telecommunications fraud. A Yangxia police station set up in Mozambique, for example, persuaded a Chinese national to return to China after being accused of stealing money from his employer. Chinese authorities also put pressure on the accused family to convince the accused to surrender.

Roughly 54,000 Chinese nationals were persuaded to return from northern Myanmar alone, in the first nine months of 2021. In July 2022, the government of Wenchang City warned that its citizens living in northern Myanmar must check in with their local police stations or face multiple penalties including blocking their children from attending urban schools back in China. Similarly, in February 2022, the government of Liayang City stated that Chinese “illegally staying” in northern Myanmar must return or the bank accounts of their immediate family members could be frozen.

The Nine Forbidden Countries

China has claimed that nine countries contain serious levels of fraud and telecom fraud perpetrated by Chinese nationals. Since November 2021, China has declared that Chinese citizens living in these nine countries must return to China immediately unless they have an “emergency reason” or a “strict necessity” to travel or stay in those countries. Those countries are: Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, the UAE, and Turkey. However, the report questions whether these countries are truly awash in such fraud, as most of China’s oversees police stations are in the West, and only one of the nine countries (Cambodia) has such a police station. Chinese staying in the nine forbidden countries, as well as threats to family members as stated above, creates a “guilt-by-association” atmosphere intended to repatriate the Chinese nationals.

Conclusion

According to the report, Chinese police stations abroad serve to bypass “bilateral extradition treaties or other mechanisms of judicial cooperation” to cooperate with CCP-linked NGOs which effectively “[sets] up an alternative policing and judicial system within third countries.” Instead of using international judicial cooperation, which establishes due process, the presumption of innocence, and the right to a fair trial, China uses the above “persuade-to-return” methods and transnational police stations to circumvent international law and coerce Chinese nationals to return to China for trials. These policies show the power of China’s long-arm oppression over its own subjects.

You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic

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