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June, 25, 2016

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Commentary > China Post > Frank Ching
For a country that believes strongly in noninterference in other countries' internal affairs, China, oddly, is constantly telling other countries what they can and cannot talk about.
 
The Hong Kong National Party, whose ideas of Hong Kong independence were weighed and dismissed by older and, presumably, wiser heads in previous years, nonetheless has succeeded in getting the attention of Chinese officials and, in the process, brought to the forefront discussion of freedom of speech in Hong Kong, a right clearly upheld by the Basic Law.
 
The impact of the latest health-care scandal in mainland China, this time involving the sale of illegal vaccines, is spreading as officials acknowledge that more than two-thirds of the country's provinces are affected.
 
The shock announcement that China and the Gambia have re-established diplomatic relations raises the specter of a return to the cross-straits diplomatic rivalry via checkbook diplomacy that prevailed before Ma Ying-jeou became the island's leader in 2008.
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Over the last quarter century, China's economy grew at a phenomenal rate, its diplomatic influence now reaches every corner of the world and its military might is rapidly approaching the level of American military power. Nevertheless, in one area, China remains extremely vulnerable: its human rights practices.
 
The case of the disappearance of five Hong Kong booksellers, who all turned up in China, has rocked Hong Kong society to its core, shaking confidence in the mainland's promises of "one country, two systems." At the same time, it has placed China under a microscope with governments around the world accusing Beijing of rampant violation of human rights and international norms by abducting individuals and taking them to the mainland.
 
The visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to the United States illustrates the seemingly schizophrenic relationship between the two countries that makes the word frenemies seem so appropriate.
 
China has reacted mildly -- to some extent even positively -- to the special U.S.-ASEAN summit meeting hosted last week by Barack Obama at the Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage in California, the first such meeting to be held in the United States.
 
North Korea's provocative launch of a rocket on Sunday, triggering off another emergency session of the United Nations Security Council, came barely a month after Pyongyang conducted its fourth nuclear test. The rocket launch added urgency to the Security Council's latest efforts to put in place additional economic sanctions after the January nuclear test.
 
China, long accused by the United States of being a free rider by not contributing to the resolution of global issues, has taken a big step into the Middle East, with mainland Chinese leader Xi Jinping visiting Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran, strengthening the country's relations with the crisis-stricken region, but at the same time making it clear that it has its own strategic priorities.
 
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