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Bulgaria, N. Macedonia, Kosovo sign 5G security agreements with U.S.

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Bulgaria, North Macedonia, and Kosovo have all declared in agreements with the United States that say they’ll aim to safeguard their developing 5G wireless networks from Chinese-government influence, welcoming them into what the U.S. calls its “Clean Network” initiative. The mission of this initiative is to ensure that reliable, trustworthy companies help to develop and construct 5G networks.

“With today’s historic signing of a 5G security memorandum,” tweeted the U.S. Embassy in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, “Bulgaria has joined the Clean Network, and joins a growing coalition of countries and companies committed to protecting their 5G networks from untrusted vendors.”

This initiative seeks to get rid of “long-term threats to data privacy, security and human rights posed to the free world from authoritarian malign actors, such as the Chinese Communist Party,” said the US Department of State, Deutsche Welle and Radio Free Europe have reported.

This follows another European country, Sweden, this past month announcing that it would not offer 5G network contracts to entities which use services and products from the Chinese tech companies Huawei and ZTE, which many nations consider as being under the influence of China’s authoritarian regime led by the Chinese Communist Party.

RELATED: Sweden is banning Huawei and ZTE from its 5G networks

If they were to give such companies access to their 5G networks, many countries believe that it will make it easy for the Chinese government to conduct espionage via those networks on citizens, companies, and government entities and officials.

Prior to Sweden, the U.S. and the United Kingdom both led the charge earlier this year in banning Huawei from their networks. The U.S. has especially been trying to persuade its allies to follow suit.

Currently, the European Union is divided about what exact measures to take as many of its member states have joined the “Clean Network” initiative. These other countries, aside from Sweden, include: Romania, Greece, the Czech Republic, Poland, Estonia, Denmark, and Latvia.

The leader of Bulgaria was especially thrilled when announcing the news of this agreement.

“Bulgaria and the U.S. are allies and strategic partners!” tweeted Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. “We discussed our economic cooperation with @KeithJKrach and later Bulgaria and the U.S. signed key documents in the field of the security of 5G networks and the nuclear energy for civilian purposes.”

Stevo Pendarovski, the President of North Macedonia, was more even-keeled but positive nonetheless.

“Given the advantages of 5G generation wireless communication,” he tweeted, “this memorandum of cooperation is vital for the future prosperity of our country from an economic point of view, as well as for national security.”

The President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, has yet to tweet about the agreement.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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REPORT: China uses psychiatric institutions to suppress dissent

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China has a vast network of psychiatric institutions that it uses to suppress dissent, according to a recent report by Safeguard Defenders, an NGO that focuses on human rights violations in China and other Asian countries. The report compiled data found on 99 victims involved in 144 instances on involuntary hospitalizations in 109 institutions from 2015 through 2021. Of the 99 victims in the report, 80 were petitioners [i.e., those who file complaints against officials] and 14 were activists.

But this is hardly a new phenomenon. “China’s regime has been torturing, maiming, and killing dissidents and others in psychiatric facilities for seven decades,” said Gordon G. Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War. “The only way to end the horrific abuse is to end the rule of the Communist Party.”

The report detailed especially harsh treatments, which include: forced medication (in 77 percent of cases), physical restraints on the bed (60 percent), beatings by staff or other patients (25 percent) and electroshock therapy (14 percent). Otherwise normally healthy people were given anti-psychotic and psychotropic medications, causing severe side effects like memory loss, insomnia and tremors. Electroshock therapy was often administered to the victims as they were fully conscious, rather than under anesthesia in small doses as would be clinically appropriate for certain patients.  According to the report, “[Electroshock therapy] without anesthesia is not only unimaginably painful and frightening for the patient but carries serious side effects, including the risk of bone fractures, joint dislocation, muscle tears, disruption of the heart beat and lung damage.”

Family and friends are often used as weapons against the victims. They were not permitted to call or visit the victims in 76 percent of cases, which essentially makes these cases “enforced disappearances.” 11 percent of cases were committed with the assistance of family (either voluntarily or coerced by authorities). Family and friends who petition for the victim’s release are often faced with persecution, and involuntarily commitment themselves.

The peak of psychiatric detentions occurred from 2015 through 2016, which was around the same time as China’s “709 Crackdown” where the government persecuted hundreds of human rights lawyers.

Some of the detentions are rather draconian. As a petitioner who called for local authorities to investigate a robbery in his house, Zeng Jiping was detained for almost two years. For “live tweeting herself splashing paint over a portrait of Xi Jinping,” Dong Yaoqiong received 1 year, 4 months detention. Twenty-nine out of the 99 victims in the report were hospitalized more than once. In two-thirds of cases where data was known, the authorities did not perform a psychiatric evaluation, in direct violation of China’s Mental Health Law.

The report also gives the example of Andy Li, a member of the “Hong Kong 12” pro-democracy protestors, as falling victim to involuntary detention in Hong Kong’ Siu Lam Psychiatric Center in 2021. The report noted that, as Li’s family didn’t know about his detention, “Li’s cases appears to be a worrying sign that the political abuse of psychiatry practiced on the mainland is now being exported into Hong Kong…”

Those who are finally released from their involuntary committals face lasting physical and phycological pain, and stigma within their communities. People seeking damages for their treatment are often faced with doctors and attorneys who do not want to assist them for fear of retaliation from the government.

Conclusion

According to the report, China is using “peace and health asylums” and other healthcare institutions to “punish and remove activists and petitioners from society without the trouble of going through a trial.” While the report details various Chinese laws that are supposed to protect citizens from such involuntary hospitalizations, in reality Chinese authorities do not abide by these laws and the citizens are not protected. The policy of involuntary hospitalizations show the extent to which the Chinese Communist Party will go to suppress dissent.

You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic

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