Friday, July 6, 2018
Ask the ProgDem, Media and Business Elites If Selling Soybeans to China Is More Important than Human Rights or Religious Freedom
SOME THINGS ARE SO WRONG-HEADED THAT THEY ARE RIDICULOUS. The ProgDem attack on Trump because of his tariffs on some China imports, for example. • • • FIRST -- THE OPPOSITION TO CHINA PRODUCT TARIFFS. Fox News reported on Thursday that the tariffs kicked in at 12:01 a.m. Friday on $34 billion worth of Chinese imports as Beijing said it would be "forced to make a necessary counterattack." The Wall Street Journal reported that the fight could last months -- if not years. Chinese President Xi Jinping instructed various levels of government to get ready for a full-on trade war, The WSJ reported, citing Chinese officials, such as Zhu Feng, a professor of international relations at Nanjing University, who said : “With his tariff threats, Trump is posing an unprecedented challenge to the leadership.” The Washington Post says China sees Trump’s threats as an attempt to "hold back its economic growth," vowing to match them move for move. He Weiwen, vice president of the Center for China and Globalization, in Beijing, told the WP : “Whether it’s through trade war or other means, the end goal is to make China subservient to the United States. That's impossible. China won’t accept that,” he said, adding “what happens next depends on the United States. China will be prepared to follow suit.” The Chinese Commerce Ministry said in a statement, according to the WP, that the US violated WTO rules that set off “the largest trade war in economic history to date. In order to defend the core interests of the country and the interests of the people, we are forced to retaliate." • China is set to hit back against the US's 25% tax on the $34 billion worth of Chinese goods with taxes on an equal amount of American products, including soybeans, lobsters, sport-utility vehicles and whiskey. The New York Timre reports that Husco International, a Wisconson-based manufacturing company that makes parts for companies like Ford, Caterpillar and John Deere, now faces the 25% increase on parts imported from China. Austin Ramirez, Husco International’s chief executive, told the NYT : “One of the big scary unknowns is we don’t know how China will react. There are lots of things they could do to make life difficult for US businesses operating in China that would be detrimental to us.” • And, as we discussed in our May 26 blog, soybean tariffs loom large. The price of US soybeans has plunged 17% over the past month on fears that Chinese tariffs will cut off American farmers from a market that buys about 60% of their soybean exports.Gao Feng, a China Ministry of Commerce spokesman, said : "To put it simply, the United States is firing at the whole world. It is also firing at itself.” Brent Bible, a soy and corn producer in Romney, Indiana, said in a prepared statement from the advocacy group Farmers for Free Trade : "For soybean producers like me this is a direct financial hit. This is money out of my pocket. These tariffs could mean the difference between a profit and a loss for an entire year's worth of work out in the field, and that's only in the near term." Shaun Rein, managing director at the China Market Research Group in Shanghai, told the WP that the Chinese government could stoke anti-American sentiments among consumers, similar to its boycotts last year on South Korea’s Lotte Group, causing dozens of their stores to close. Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told the NYT that “at the moment, I don’t see how this ends. This is very much in the President’s hands because he’s got advisors that seem divided, some substantively, some tactically. I just don’t think we’ve had any clear signs of the resolution he wants.” • The Editorial Board of the Washington Post wrote an editorial on Thursday titled "Will Trump’s splendid little trade war live in infamy?" We really dson't need more than the title to see the anti-Trump animus but here is an excerpt : "By itself, Mr. Trump’s opening salvo, a 25 percent tariff on 818 Chinese imports, worth $34 billion a year, amounts to a rounding error as compared with the overall size of the US and Chinese economies. Moreover, it’s not inherently misguided to get tough with China over its relentless mercantilism, which has long disadvantaged US businesses and which more recently took the form of a 'Made in China 2025' policy that seeks dominance for the People’s Republic in cutting-edge technology. Alas, Mr. Trump seems fixated on tariffs as a means to a far less legitimate, far less realistic (and far more simplistic) goal : reducing the merchandise trade deficit, which was $376 billion last year, between the United States and China....There would be a better chance of success against China if Mr. Trump were working in concert with other countries, including the United States’ traditional allies and trading partners with which the United States has long enjoyed relatively free trade : Canada, Mexico and the European Union. Instead, Mr. Trump is recklessly antagonizing them, suggesting that they deliberately exploit the United States [look at the US trade deficit statistics, WP] and threatening to impose tariffs on imported cars in addition to steel and aluminum. Mr. Trump does have leverage...of these countries depend far more on exports than the United States does....More fundamental is his dishonest use of national security as a rationale for new trade barriers, even against allies such as Canada, and his equally false accusation that the World Trade Organization has been biased against the United States. By de-legitimizing such alliances and institutions, all of them created under US auspices in the postwar era to help prevent global economic competition from fueling international conflict, Mr. Trump takes US foreign policy generally back to the Smoot-Hawley era....when trade wars were liable to turn into real wars, a lesson of history that Mr. Trump has obviously failed to learn." • The WP's Catherine Rampell drove the WP position home on Thursday in her Column : "...the Chinese government feels it must respond to this and Trump’s other big, bad protectionist measures." • TheHill quotes anti-Trump reactions from John Murphy, senior vice president for international policy at the US Chamber of Commerce : "China is engaged in industrial policies and theft of intellectual property that merits a response, but across the business community we feel that tariffs are not the answer." And from Association of Equipment Manufacturers President Dennis Slater : "Combining this with China's promise to retaliate against US products and agricultural commodities only further erodes the benefits of last year's tax reform." And US Council for International Business President and CEO Peter Robinson : "We can expect further damage to the US economy, workers, companies and consumers." • • • HAS EUROPE CONCEDED TO TRUMP ON TARIFFS? TheHill's On the Money said on Friday : "There are some signs that trade tensions between Trump and Europe could be easing on one front. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday she would support lowering tariffs on US car imports amid an escalating trade dispute that could decimate automakers. Reuters reported that Merkel said tariff negotiations are ongoing, and that any changes would require full European support. 'I would be ready to support negotiations on reducing tariffs, but we would not be able to do this only with the US,' Merkel said. • It is all Trump's fault, CNBC says : "The Trump administration initiated the dispute in April, announcing the tariffs and accusing China of using 'unfair' tactics to build a large trade surplus with the US and expropriating American technology." • Back in January, CNBC was more even-handed : "China's 2017 trade surplus with the US was $275.81 billion, the country's customs data showed Friday, according to Reuters. By that data, last year's surplus is a record high, the wire service reported. For comparison, the previous record was a surplus of $260.8 billion in 2015. The world's second-largest economy had a surplus of $25.55 billion in December, data showed, compared to $27.87 billion in November. Trade with China is politically sensitive as the world's second-largest economy runs surpluses against many of its trading partners. President Donald Trump has repeatedly signaled tougher action on what he calls unfair practices that have lead to a massive trade deficit with China. Overall, China's trade balance for 2017 was a surplus of $422.5 billion." • • • CHINA TRADE FACTS. CNBC got it right in January, before it hit the current anti-Trump trail. • Trading Economics reported on the May 2018 China trade surplus with the US, China's largest export market -- it widened to $24.58 billion in May from $22.15 billion in April, as exports to China went up 11.6% to $39.3 billion and imports to the US grew 11.4% to $14.7 billion. China's trade surplus with the EU was $9.7 billion, with exports rising by 8.5% and imports by 18.3%. • World's Top Exports reported on April 22 that : "The world’s largest exporter by value, China shipped US$2.272 trillion worth of products around the globe in 2017. That dollar figure represents roughly 14.2% of overall global exports estimated at $15.952 trillion one year earlier in 2016. From a continental perspective, about half (48.5%) of Chinese exports by value were delivered to fellow Asian countries while 22% were sold to North American importers. China shipped another 18.9% worth to clients in Europe. At 4.2%, a smaller portion of Chinese exports were bought by importers in Latin America (excluding Mexico) plus the Caribbean with another 4.1% going to Africa." WTE reported that China’s top trading partner in terms of export sales -- countries imported the most Chinese shipments by dollar value during 2017 -- was the United States at $431.7 billion (that is, 19% of total Chinese exports). • Rabobank Research -- the research arm of the Dutch bank that is the world's leading financial services provider for the food & agribusiness sector -- reported in September 2017 that China, the original home of soybeans, now absorbs around two-thirds of global soybean flows. Despite an expected slowdown in growth, around 35m tonnes of additional Chinese import demand still needs to be met by 2025. Brazil is in the best position to supply this extra demand, so Chinese companies are expected to continue to seek strategic access to Brazil. In this report, we discuss the opportunities and challenges of different investment approaches. The Report summary states : "Since 2000, China has become the single-largest importer in the world, absorbing 65% of global soybean flows. Soaring imported soybeans, mostly used for crushing, have been underpinned by a population increase, an increasing share of modern livestock farming, and -- more importantly -- Chinese dietary changes, which are driven by income growth and urbanization. But, in line with the decelerating rates of economic and population growth, China’s soybean imports will witness a slowdown in growth in the next decade....Brazil is well-positioned to fulfil China’s additional import needs -- more so than the US and Argentina. Rabobank forecasts the latter two to only show a limited expansion of exports in the next decade. Overall global growth in the trade of soybeans will lose steam and is forecast to slow down in the next decade. But given the importance of soybean imports to China and in order to better secure supply, further integrate the supply chain, and mitigate risks in the next decade, Chinese companies are expected to continue to seek strategic access to Brazil. However, the conventional approach -- the acquisition of a local grain-origination platform, for example -- will no longer be the most viable option. In Rabobank’s view, Chinese companies need to consider looking at alternative ways to enter Brazil." • So, is it time for US soybean farmers to move on to other markets in any case, as they will need to do, with or without Trump's tariffs, in the enxt tem years. • • • CHINESE MILLIONAIRES WANT TO MOVE. To the US. CNBC reported on Thursday that : "More than a third of Chinese millionaires want to leave China, here's where they want to go....The US topped the list as the most popular destination for the fourth year in a row while the UK ranked second, followed by Ireland and then Canada. Los Angeles was the top city for Chinese millionaires to buy property, followed by New York, Boston and San Francisco." Many rich Chinese are leaving China for better education systems elsewhere and to flee the country's polluted cities and strict government. They're also looking to protect their wealth. Overseas assets account for an average of 11% of the total assets of Chinese millionaires, the report said : "Buying overseas real estate has become a popular way for the Chinese rich to offshore their fortunes. Foreign exchange deposits and 'immovable property' are the most popular overseas investment options....When asked about their priorities for purchasing overseas real estate, the respondents said, “high cost-effectiveness” ranked first, followed by investment value and “permanent property rights.” • The "big ole baddy" US form of government with its personal liberties and opportunities may be lost on Progressive EU elites and US Swamp Creatures, but the Chinese know a good thing when they see it and can afford to escape. • • • WHY IS NOBODY TALKING ABOUT CHINA'S CHRISTIANS? • The Christian Post reported on Thursday that the US Commission on International Religious Freedom noted such in its 2018 Annual Report, released in April, that : "Despite ever-increasing awareness of religious freedom atrocities around the world, gravely affecting the lives of millions of Christians and other minorities, there is a major problem -- persecution is getting worse. Just after the Annual Report was released, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins was appointed as the bipartisan USCIRF's newest commissioner. According to Perkins, who participated in a June 15 phone interview with The Christian Post, in the face of worsening persecution gripping different regions and nations, President Trump is taking unprecedented steps to prioritize religious freedom with other governments, and is actively bringing back America to its foundations of protecting minorities, no matter who and where they are. Perkins pointed to Trump's recent meetings and talk on human rights with the leaders of countries where Christians, and other minorities, face extreme violence and persecution, such as Nigeria and North Korea. Perkins insisted that the meetings, while receiving conflicting media coverage, have already brought positive developments. Perkins said that despite the severe challenges ahead, he's "very optimistic" that those on the commission will "rise above political partisanship" and unite on the extremely important issue of religious freedom. Perkins told the Christian Post that next month "Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is holding, to my knowledge, the first-ever ministerial calling-in for diplomats to discuss the importance of religious freedom. That is unprecedented. It is going to be widespread, it is going to be global; I think about 80 diplomats are being invited to this ministerial. That will send the message that America is placing a priority, as it should, on religious freedom. I communicated with him (Pompeo) as he was taking over this post, and he said that religious freedom was going to be a priority....We know from the President's own statements, and I know from my communication with the Vice President, that President Trump was going to bring up discussion about human rights with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and we know subsequent to that summit, that Trump addressed the issue of human rights and religious freedom. The Christian Post asked why Trump praised Kim Jong-un at the historic Singapore summit on June 12, given Kim's persecution of citizens and many Christians. Perkins said : "I certainly respect their views and their concerns, I understand that. They clearly see it from a different vantage point....From my vantage point, I know President Trump, I know the priority he is placing on this, I also know that he is a negotiator. Some of the things that are being said and are done are being viewed from that stand point, of setting up continued negotiations....I think the President discussed this in his private conversation with Kim Jong Un. I have not spoken to the President subsequent to his meeting, but prior to the meeting I did speak with the Vice President. This President will follow through on North Korea....Even when dealing with rogue nations, like North Korea, the sanctions that were put in place proved effective, and talking with China was clearly very helpful. In many cases, diplomacy does provide a good option." • The South China Morning Post reported on June 22 that Pope Francis says China talks on appointing bishops are ‘at a good point’ and the Pope sees dialogue between Vatican and Beijing as worth the risk. After a June 15 meeting with the Pope, Archbishop John Hung Shan-chuan said Pope Francis told him and other representatives of Taiwan’s Catholic Church that he would never turn his back on them. Pope Francis has voiced optimism for improved ties between the Vatican and China, rejecting criticism that the Holy See may be selling out Catholics to Beijing’s communist government. The SCMP says : "The Vatican and China are in advanced talks to resolve a dispute over the appointment of bishops in China, one of the biggest obstacles to resuming diplomatic ties that were cut almost 70 years ago....China’s estimated 12 million Catholics are split between an underground church that swears loyalty to the Vatican and the state-supervised Catholic Patriotic Association. Vatican and China in new talks over thorny issue of appointment of bishops." The SCMP quoted the Pope : "Dialogue is a risk, but I prefer risk rather than the certain defeat that comes with not holding dialogue. As for the timing, some people say it’s ‘Chinese time’. I say it’s God’s time. Let’s move forward serenely.” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang says China was sincere about improving two-way ties with the Vatican and had made “unremitting efforts....We are willing to meet the Vatican side halfway, and make new progress in the process of improving relations and advancing constructive bilateral dialogue,” Geng told a regular news briefing in Beijing, without elaborating. But, Ying Fuk-tsang, director of the divinity school at Chinese University of Hong Kong, says Beijing has the upper hand in the negotiations because the Holy See wants an agreement more. Ying says : "Even though they could reach an agreement over appointing bishops, a lot of work remains to be done before they can build diplomatic ties. Forging ties with the Vatican will complicate Beijing’s whole system of regulating its religions...there will certainly be a surge of Catholics when the Pope visits China, which Beijing would not want to see.” SCMP says the most outspoken critic of the pope’s China strategy is 86-year-old Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, a former bishop of Hong Kong who has said the direction of negotiations suggests the Vatican is preparing to sell out the underground church. In Hong Kong, a beachhead for Vatican loyalists in southern China, some priests say the talks could be a trap leading to greater persecution of underground believers and ultimately to tighter Communist Party control of their religion. • Crux and Catholic News Agency published an article on Tuesday by Andrea Gagliarducci, who reported on the visit to the Vatican by Hong Kong Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung and the Bishop of Macau -- the two territories are former British and Portuguese dependencies which are now part of the People’s Republic of China, but Hong Kong has a large degree of autonomy from mainland China, with its own political and economic system. Gagliarducci wrote : "The bishops met with Pope Francis June 23....Yeung, who succeeded as Bishop of Hong Kong in August 2017, said that Hong Kong can have an influence on the Chinese way of life, but he added that the Catholic Church 'mustn’t compete with the Communist Party for power and authority in this world. The Lord Jesus never told the disciples to compete with the Roman empire.' Yeung underscored that 'the Church has, however, her role to play. She is called to have a good attitude to dialogue (???), and at the same time she is called to tell the truth, and to speak out against social injustice, when the latter happens.' The relation with the Church in mainland China is described by Yeung as 'delicate.' " Yeung explained that : "Chinese authorities’ message is that they do not want any interference in mainland China, and the most recent bill on foreign NGOs goes in that direction : Everything must be approved by the government, and the government has the right to know whence the money comes.' ” Gagliarducci says the new law requires foreign NGOs to register with the Ministry of Public Security or its provincial-level equivalents before establishing an office within mainland China....The law affects aid that Hongkongers might send to mainland China, as 'no one has certainty that the money arrives to its destination, and even a mere money transfer is considered a possible interference,' Yeung said. • That all sounds civilized, BUT, the UK Daily Express is reporting on China's crackdown on Christians, writing about "Terrifying ’re-education’ camps." The Daily Express wrote on April 4 that : "MORE than 100 Christians, including church leaders, have been sent to ‘re-education’ camps as China carries out a relentless to crackdown on religion, it can be revealed. Charity Open Doors said scores of Christians have been sent to 're-education' over the past few months where they are taught to be loyal to Communist ideology instead of religion. Most of those targeted are from the Xinjiang region and according to William Nee, a China expert with Amnesty International, Chinese authorities have quotas they must meet under the new religious freedom crackdown. Mr Nee told Express.co.uk : 'What has happened in the Xinjiang region is a human rights disaster like the Rohingya crisis although it hasn’t received as much coverage. I have heard that some Christians have been sent there but they mostly target ethnic minorities. They are forcibly removed from their homes by police, often in a black hood. They are then taken to these camps which are very much like prisons. Many prisons often also serve as reeducation centers. There have reports of physical abuse and several deaths in these centers.' He added there is an estimated 5,000 people who have been forcibly taken to these re-education camps, which are also known under the guise of 'citizen study centers' and 'anti-extremism centres.' " The Daily Express noted that under the Regulations on Religious Affairs which came into effect on February 1, "churches have to be officially registered in the state and adhere to the rules set by Chinese authorities. As a result, many houses churches have been closed, according to Mr Nee. He added : 'Overall things are getting worse. Anything that happens outside of the official remit and they crackdown on it.' Xinjiang province has been described as one of the most intensely monitored areas in the world....One Christian, speaking anonymously over fears of persecution, told Open Doors : 'Even your smartphone is checked. I feel like I live in a big prison.'....Amnesty International’s latest report on China added that the revised Regulations on Religious Affairs codified far-reaching state control over every aspect of religious practice, and extended power to authorities at all levels of the government to monitor, control and potentially punish religious practice...Despite China's crackdown on religion, Mr Nee said the nation is going through 'spiritual growth' with a rise in Christian followers from the religion's Protestant denomination." In early April, footage circulated of a huge crucifix being ripped from the Shangqiu Catholic Church South Cathedral by local Communist Party chiefs in China’s Henan Province. The shocking video shared on Twitter showed a crane removing the last cross standing on top the church as horrified nuns and a priest watched on. AND, in May, the Daily Express reported that : "Chinese police carried out a huge raid on churches in Shandong province in the east of the country, seizing a huge number of publications and electronic disks. A Christian in Jining city said police were actively 'hostile' towards Christian churches but did not target local Buddhist temples. Instead they only targeted Christian churches, were they seized a huge number of Bibles, both in physical and digital form (more than 1,100). Authorities claimed the raids were part of their campaign to target pornography..." Open Doors told the Daily Express that state-approved churches do exist but with high security measures in place. The charity said : “Government-registered churches are also required to scan ID cards when they come to Sunday services. An alarm will sound if anyone works for the government or a public institution. Many Christians have stopped going to registered churches and instead meet in smaller secret groups.” • • • WHY IS NOBODY TALKING ABOUT CHINA'S HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD? Human Rights Watch recently reported about the 2017 situation in China : "The broad and sustained offensive on human rights that started after President Xi Jinping took power five years ago showed no sign of abating in 2017. The death of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo in a hospital under heavy guard in July highlighted the Chinese government’s deepening contempt for rights. The near future for human rights appears grim, especially as Xi is expected to remain in power at least until 2022. Foreign governments did little in 2017 to push back against China’s worsening rights record at home and abroad....Liu Xiaobo died from cancer in a Shenyang hospital, heavily guarded by state security. During his hospitalization, authorities isolated Liu and his wife, Liu Xia, from family and supporters, and denied Liu’s request to seek treatment outside the country. Since Liu’s death, authorities have forcibly disappeared Liu Xia. The government also harassed and detained a group of Liu’s supporters for commemorating his death." • Human Rights Watch says : "Authorities subjected more human rights defenders -- including foreigners -- to show trials in 2017, airing excerpted forced confessions and court trials on state television and social media. Police ensured the detainees’ compliance by torturing some of them, denying them access to lawyers of their choice, and holding them incommunicado for months....Hong Kong’s human rights record took a dark turn. Hong Kong courts disqualified four pro-democracy lawmakers in July and jailed three prominent pro-democracy student leaders in August." HRW says the Chinese government also tried to eliminate the country’s few independent human rights news websites by jailing their founders : "In August, a Yunnan court sentenced citizen journalist and protest chronicler Lu Yuyu to four years in prison on charges of 'picking quarrels and provoking trouble.' Also in August, authorities charged Liu Feiyue, founder of the website Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch with 'leaking state secrets' and 'inciting subversion of state power.' Liu could face life imprisonment if convicted. Veteran activist and founder of the human rights website 64 Tianwang, Huang Qi, suffers from kidney disease and has been denied adequate medical care since his detention in November 2016. In August, prominent rights lawyer and activist Gao Zhisheng disappeared from his home in Shaanxi province. Authorities subsequently informed Gao’s family that he had been taken into police custody. • In March, 2017, according to HRW, Chongqing authorities made public a regulation that bans unauthorized use of internet circumvention tools in the city. Anyone -- from individuals to companies -- who does so would be ordered to disconnect and receive a warning. The regulation was unprecedented in banning all use of these tools. The same month a Guangdong court sentenced Deng Jiewei to nine months in jail for illegally selling virtual private networks, or VPNs, which protect user privacy by shielding browsing activities from service providers or state surveillance. In July, 2017, Apple removed dozens of VPNs from its App store in China, citing compliance with government regulations. In August, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) ordered five websites, including shopping giant Alibaba, to remove vendors that offered access to VPNs. In November, in a letter to two US Senators, Apple confirmed that it had removed 674 VPNs from its App store in China, citing compliance with government regulations. In September, Beijing police arrested Liu Pengfei, the creator of a WeChat group that had discussed political and social issues. • Chinese authorities continued their assault on academic freedom in 2017. In January, Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou banned staff from criticizing the Communist Party. In June, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party’s disciplinary body, issued a report accusing 14 top universities of ideological infractions after a months-long investigation. Several professors were fired for speaking critically of the Chinese government on social media. In August, Shi Jiepeng, a professor of classical Chinese at Beijing Normal University, was sacked for “improper comments.” Shi had called Mao Zedong a “devil.” In August, Cambridge University Press admitted it had blocked access in China to more than 300 articles published in its journal China Quarterly, following orders from the Chinese government. The international backlash against the decision compelled the publishing house to restore the articles. • HRW reports that civil liberties in Hong Kong are increasingly being undermined by the growing interference of the central government, 20 years after the city returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. Opposition political parties and their supporters faced greater harassment from authorities. In April, 2017, the Companies Registry rejected the application of the Hong Kong National Party on grounds that the promotion of “Hong Kong independence is against the Basic Law.” During President Xi’s visit to Hong Kong, local and mainland police followed, harassed, and arrested some peaceful pro-democracy protesters. In August, a Hong Kong appeals court sentenced pro-democracy student leaders Alex Chow, Nathan Law, and Joshua Wong to six to eight months in prison. The three had earlier been convicted of crimes related to “unlawful assembly” for peaceful protests at the time of the 2014 Umbrella Movement, and were given community sentences by a lower court. In a politically motivated move, the secretary of justice, a political appointee, sought a harsher prison sentence for the trio. • Chinese authorities in Tibetan areas continue to severely restrict religious freedom, speech, movement, and assembly, and fail to redress popular concerns about mining and land grabs by local officials, which often involve intimidation and arbitrary violence by security forces. In 2017, officials intensified surveillance of online and phone communications. Six UN special rapporteurs sent a communication to the government of China expressing concern about the late 2016 mass expulsion of monastics (monks and nuns) and demolition of living quarters at the Larung Gar monastery in Kandze, Sichuan. Similar expulsions and demolitions were reported at the Yachen Gar monastery in Kandze in August 2017. Tibetans continue to self-immolate to protest Chinese policies. At time of writing, four had done so in 2017. • The HRW report state about freedom of religion in China : "The government restricts religious practice to five officially recognized religions in officially approved religious premises. Authorities retain control over religious bodies’ personnel appointments, publications, finances, and seminary applications. The government classifies many religious groups outside its control as 'evil cults,' and subjects members to police harassment, torture, arbitrary detention, and imprisonment....In May, 2017, authorities detained Shao Zhumin, a Catholic bishop of an underground church in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province. Shao’s church had refused to join the state-affiliated Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association....Authorities in Yunnan province charged more than a dozen Christians in 2017 with 'using cults to sabotage law enforcement.' In October, at least three of the charged were given prison sentences of four years. One of their lawyers said the arrests were due to the group not gathering at officially designated churches. • • • DEAR READERS, do the Progressive EU elites or the ProgDem anti-Trump leaders in the US care at all about freedom -- of religion, of movement, of speech, of due process, of the press?? Do they care at all that in defending China as the injured and reasonable party in the China-US tariff dispute, they are painting a false picture of China -- as false as the Fake news blasted out every day in both the US and Europe in an effort to destroy President Trump?? While the European Parliament, US Congress, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and individual members of governments and parliaments publicly express some concern about the deteriorating human rights situation in China in 2017, Human Rights Watch says "the response of 'like-minded' governments to negative developments, such as jail sentences for peaceful protestors in Hong Kong, was even more muted than in previous years." And, at the UN Security Council in 2017, China joined Russia in February in a double veto of a resolution that would have imposed sanctions related to use of chemical weapons in Syria. • In May, 2017, China hosted its largest-ever gathering for the 'One Belt, One Road' (OBOR) initiative, a development program spanning 65 countries that China says will involve investments of more than $1 trillion. Many participating states have a history of countenancing serious human rights violations in major development and infrastructure projects. Key international financial institutions, including the Asian Development Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and the World Bank, have not taken adequate steps to ensure that they place strong human rights conditions on any participation in OBOR-related projects. BUT, the United States refused to participate in the initiative. • If Donald Trump brings China to its knees over trade abuses, perhaps the President will then have the lever to get a real dialogue with teeth started about China's human rights abuses. But, don't count on the EU or the UN to help him. For them, like Iran, China is too big a trading prize to offend. Sadly, American business, media, and political leaders feel the same way. • Are soybean sales really more important than human rights? It is time to ask ourselves if our leaders have the faintest clue what Patrick Henry was talking about when he said : "What is it that 'gentlemen' wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"