Fearing the Worst, China Plans Refugee Camps on North Korean Border
A Chinese county along the border with North Korea is constructing refugee camps intended to house thousands of migrants fleeing a possible crisis on the Korean Peninsula, according to an internal document that appears to have been leaked from China’s main state-owned telecommunications company. The camps are an unusual, albeit tacit, admission by China that instability in North Korea is increasingly likely, and that refugees could swarm across the Tumen River, a narrow ribbon of water that divides the countries. Lu Kang, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, said Monday that he was unaware of the plan for the refugee camps, but he did not deny their existence.
China Denies Using LinkedIn to Recruit German Informants
German’s domestic intelligence agency has accused China of using LinkedIn and other social media sites to infiltrate the German government, a charge the Chinese government promptly denied. In a scathing investigation released Sunday, Germany’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution accused Beijing of using social media to target more than 10,000 citizens. To win their trust, the agency said, Chinese agents posed as leaders of think tanks and headhunters, and offered all-expenses-paid trips to China and meetings with influential clients. In Beijing, Lu Kang, a Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman, called the investigation “complete hearsay and groundless.” He urged German officials to “speak and act more responsibly.”
Putin’s Re-election Is Assured. Let the Succession Fight Begin.
With President Vladimir Putin’s victory in March assured, the real contest, Russian analysts say, is the fight to determine who comes after him by the end of his next six years in office. Putin is barred by the constitution from seeking a third consecutive term, his fifth total. The jockeying for power is expected to offer all the drama next year’s presidential race lacks. Several internal battles have already erupted publicly, including the dismantling of a respected research university and a corruption trial in which a former economy minister accused of soliciting bribes said he was set up by a former spy who has been a close Putin ally.
Whirlwind Putin Tour Highlights Moscow’s New Reach in Mideast
President Vladimir Putin of Russia undertook a whirlwind tour to his new allies in the Middle East on Monday, underscoring the extension of Russia’s influence in the region and the continuing shrinkage of the United States’ role. Putin touched down in rapid succession in Syria and Egypt, where he met briefly with their leaders, and landed in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, later in the day. His excursion came as anger at the U.S. was running high over President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem, the third holiest city in Islam, as the capital of Israel.
Hezbollah Returns Focus to Israel After Years of Fighting in Syria
The leader of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah vowed Monday to return the group’s focus to fighting Israel after years of battling rebels in neighbouring Syria. Speaking via a video feed at a rally in Beirut that was organised to protest President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Hassan Nasrallah called on Arab and Muslim countries to cease normalising relations with Israel, evict Israeli embassies and cut diplomatic ties with Israel. The rally drew thousands of protesters and was the largest yet in Lebanon in response to Trump’s Jerusalem declaration last week, which upset a decades-old diplomatic status quo.
Saudi Arabia to Allow Movie Theatres After 35-Year Ban
In the latest in a series of gestures toward modernisation that would once have seemed improbable, Saudi Arabia announced Monday that it would allow commercial movie theatres to open for the first time in more than 35 years. The move, part of a broad campaign by the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, to transform Saudi society, followed measures that would give women the right to drive and would allow concerts and other forms of public entertainment. The loosening of the restrictions is “very real and quite significant,” said Jane Kinninmont, a scholar at the British research organisation Chatham House who studies Saudi Arabia.