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China’s Leaders Quash Hong Kong’s Hopes for Democratic Election Reforms – CRS Insights (September 5, 2014)

September 29, 2014 Comments off

China’s Leaders Quash Hong Kong’s Hopes for Democratic Election Reforms – CRS Insights (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. Department of State Foreign Press Center)

An August 31 decision by China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) placed strict conditions on any possible electoral reforms in Hong Kong—setting the stage for a contentious and difficult process as the city’s political bodies begin work on possible legislation to alter the rules for selecting Hong Kong’s Chief Executive.

Reactions to the NPCSC’s decision varied widely. While Hong Kong’s current Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying welcomed the “precious offer” from the NPCSC, pro-democracy advocates expressed a mixture of disappointment and outrage at the decision. While all concerned, including the NPCSC, accept that the Chief Executive may be elected in 2017 by universal suffrage for all eligible Hong Kong voters, there is sharp disagreement over procedures for the nomination of candidates.

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Technology-enabled Public Libraries Can Help Improve the Quality of Life of the Rural Elderly

September 29, 2014 Comments off

Technology-enabled Public Libraries Can Help Improve the Quality of Life of the Rural Elderly
Source: World Bank

Over the past 40 years, China’s population has been aging at a rate that took more than 100 years in developed countries. In 2010, the number of people over 60 years old reached 178 million in China, accounting for almost a quarter of the world’s total. Many older citizens in China’s rural areas have found themselves increasingly isolated as their younger relatives migrated to the cities. Few older citizens in rural areas use the Internet. But advances in connectivity, including rapidly improving Internet services in rural areas, offer opportunities for greater development and participation in society of the rural elderly.

The World Bank in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been supporting Chinese government’s efforts to improve access to information and communication technologies (ICT) and related services for enhancing the lives of rural residents. As a part of the initiative, a study was recently undertaken to assess the potential of enhancing ICT usage among older people in China and examine the feasibility of leveraging public libraries and library-like institutions to serve as venues to foster digital and social inclusion of senior citizens and improve their well-being. Findings from the report were compiled into a report entitled Fostering a digitally inclusive aging society in China: the potential of public libraries.

Country Analysis Brief: East China Sea

September 18, 2014 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: East China Sea
Source: Energy Information Administration

The East China Sea is a semi-closed sea bordered by the Yellow Sea to the north, the South China Sea and Taiwan to the south, Japan’s Ryukyu and Kyushu islands to the east, and the Chinese mainland to the west. Studies identifying potentially abundant oil and natural gas deposits have made the sea a source of contention between Japan and China, the two largest energy consumers in Asia.

The East China Sea has a total area of approximately 482,000 square miles, consisting mostly of the continental shelf and the Okinawa Trough, a back-arc basin formed about 300 miles southeast of Shanghai between China and Japan. The disputed eight Senkaku islands are to the northeast of Taiwan. The largest of the islands is two miles long and less than a mile wide.

Though barren, the islands are important for strategic and political reasons, as sovereignty over land is the basis for claims to the surrounding sea and its resources under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. China and Japan both claim sovereignty over the islands, which are under Japanese administration, preventing wide-scale exploration and development of oil and natural gas in the East China Sea.

Ramifications of DARPA’s Programming Computation on Encrypted Data Program

September 16, 2014 Comments off

Ramifications of DARPA’s Programming Computation on Encrypted Data Program
Source: RAND Corporation

Programming Computation on Encrypted Data (PROCEED) is a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program whose primary purpose is to improve the efficiency of algorithms that allow people to carry out computations on encrypted data — without having to decrypt the data itself. RAND was asked to evaluate whether PROCEED — which expands the knowledge base of the global cryptographic community — is likely to provide more benefits to the United States than it does to its global rivals. The research team’s assessment focused on the degree to which PROCEED technologies may be adopted, under what circumstances, and for what purpose. The team then used the analytic framework generated to understand technological uptake decisions as a way of ascertaining how such factors would work in Russia and China vis-à-vis the United States (and, by extension, countries similar to the United States).

Analysis of online searches for information about data encryption, information security, and data protection in Russia and China concluded that, given government approval of PROCEED technologies, their diffusion will be more rapid in China than in Russia. Whether PROCEED technologies will be adopted in the face of the processing penalties that will be associated with using them is difficult to determine at this time. If PROCEED is adopted, it is likely to be adopted more rapidly in the United States (and similar developed countries) than it is in Russia and China, in large part because PROCEED is compatible with the U.S. political culture, and in smaller part because it better accords to the U.S. business environment.

Backgrounder — The China-North Korea Relationship

August 25, 2014 Comments off

Backgrounder — The China-North Korea Relationship
Source: Council on Foreign Relations

China is North Korea’s most important ally, biggest trading partner, and main source of food, arms, and energy. The country has helped sustain what is now Kim Jong-un’s regime, and has historically opposed harsh international sanctions on North Korea in the hope of avoiding regime collapse and a refugee influx across their border. But after Pyongyang’s third nuclear test in February 2013, analysts say that China’s patience with its ally may be wearing thin. This latest nuclear test, following previous ones in 2006 and 2009, has complicated North Korea’s relationship with Beijing, which has played a central role in the Six Party Talks, the multilateral framework aimed at denuclearizing North Korea. The December 2013 execution of Jang Song-taek, Kim Jong-un’s uncle and adviser with close ties to Beijing, spurred renewed concern from China about the stability and direction of the North Korean leadership. Furthermore, experts say that thawing relations between China and South Korea could shift the geopolitical dynamic in East Asia and undermine the China-North Korea alliance.

CRS — Maritime Territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Disputes Involving China: Issues for Congress (August 5, 2014)

August 22, 2014 Comments off

Maritime Territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Disputes Involving China: Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

China’s actions for asserting and defending its maritime territorial and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) claims in the East China (ECS) and South China Sea (SCS), particularly since late 2013, have heightened concerns among observers that ongoing disputes over these waters and some of the islands within them could lead to a crisis or conflict between China and a neighboring country such as Japan, the Philippines, or Vietnam, and that the United States could be drawn into such a crisis or conflict as a result of obligations the United States has under bilateral security treaties with Japan and the Philippines.

More broadly, China’s actions for asserting and defending its maritime territorial and EEZ claims have led to increasing concerns among some observers that China may be seeking to dominate or gain control of its near-seas region, meaning the ECS, the SCS, and the Yellow Sea. Chinese domination over or control of this region, or Chinese actions that are perceived as being aimed at achieving such domination or control, could have major implications for the United States, including implications for U.S.-China relations, for interpreting China’s rise as a major world power, for the security structure of the Asia-Pacific region, for the long-standing U.S. strategic goal of preventing the emergence of a regional hegemon in one part of Eurasia or another, and for two key elements of the U.S.-led international order that has operated since World War II—the non-use of force or coercion as a means of settling disputes between countries, and freedom of the seas.

CRS — U.S. – China Military Contacts: Issues for Congress (updated)

August 6, 2014 Comments off

U.S. – China Military Contacts: Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

This CRS report, updated as warranted, discusses policy issues regarding military-to-military (mil-to-mil) contacts with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and provides a record of major contacts and crises since 1993.

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