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U.S. threatens sanctions against Myanmar after military stages coup

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The United States has criticized Myanmar’s military leaders after they staged a coup in the Southeast Asian country on Monday, while it was still Sunday in the U.S. On top of that, President Joe Biden threatened sanctions if the military doesn’t change course.

Early Monday morning in Myanmar, the military took over the government and detained senior politicians such as Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Commander-in-Chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing will be in charge of the nation for one year, according to an announcement read on military-owned Myawaddy TV, per the Associated Press.

In a Sunday statement from Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the top U.S. diplomat said that the “United States expresses grave concern and alarm regarding reports that the Burmese military has detained multiple civilian government leaders, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and civil society leaders.”

Furthermore, the new secretary of state called on the military leaders to immediately “release all government officials and civil society leaders and respect the will of the people of Burma as expressed in democratic elections on November 8,” adding that the U.S. “stands with the people of Burma in their aspirations for democracy, freedom, peace, and development.”

While the multi-ethnic country has preferred the name Myanmar over Burma in the English language since 1989, the U.S. government continues to refer to it as the latter. It should be noted, however, that the term to describe people or things from Myanmar is still “Burmese.”

President Biden in a separate statement Monday threatened sanctions if Myanmar’s military doesn’t reverse course.

“The United States removed sanctions on Burma over the past decade based on progress toward democracy,” Biden said. “The reversal of that progress will necessitate an immediate review of our sanction laws and authorities, followed by appropriate action.”

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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