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Biden shares concerns with Chinese president in first appeal since election

WASHINGTON – President Biden held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday evening, raising concerns about Beijing’s aggressive overseas policies and human rights violations at home in the first conversation between the two leaders since the election of Mr. Biden.

Regarding what could be the most important foreign relationship of his presidency, Mr Biden has issued the warnings while offering to cooperate on global priorities of mutual concern.

In a summary of the call, the White House said Mr. Biden “had underlined his fundamental concerns about Beijing’s coercive and unfair economic practices, the crackdown in Hong Kong, human rights abuses in Xinjiang and the increasingly assertive actions in the region, including towards Taiwan. . But the leaders also discussed “the common challenges of global health security, climate change and preventing the proliferation of weapons,” according to the summary.

According to the official Chinese account of the two leaders’ appeal, released by Xinhua, Xi warned Biden that the two powers must cooperate or risk calamity, and gave no sign of ceding ground to Xinjiang. , Hong Kong or Taiwan.

“When China and the United States cooperate, the two sides win, and when they fight, both are wronged,” Xi said, according to the Chinese summary. “Sino-US cooperation can achieve many great things that benefit both countries and the world. The confrontation between China and the United States would certainly be a disaster for both countries and the world. “

Xi said the two countries could also open more contacts in the economic, financial, police and military spheres, and called for the “re-establishment” of dialogue to promote mutual understanding and “to avoid misunderstandings and errors of judgment. “. Increased cooperation, he added, would also help tackle the coronavirus pandemic, revive the world economy and maintain regional stability.

But Xi warned Biden to exercise caution in what he described as “China’s domestic affair,” according to Xinhua. “On matters concerning the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China,” Xi said, referring to Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, “the US side should respect China’s fundamental interests and act with it. caution.

Despite this being their first conversation since becoming their respective country’s rulers, Mr. Biden and Mr. Xi know each other well. In 2011 and 2012, when Mr. Biden was vice president and Mr. Xi was the alleged heir to the Chinese presidency, the two spent dozens of hours together. In a recent interview with CBS News, Biden said he believed he spent more time with Xi than with any other world leader. “I know him pretty well,” Biden said.

Mr Biden’s personal approach to Mr Xi is likely to be a marked departure from that of President Donald J. Trump, who spent his first three years in office giving the Chinese leader praise and flattery in pursuit of a big trade deal he never reached, before turning bitterly on him last spring after the coronavirus left China and devastated the US economy.

All the while, Mr. Trump’s advisers have treated China as the main strategic threat to the United States. At the end of Mr. Trump’s presidency, foreign policy experts generally agreed that relations between Washington and Beijing were nearing their lowest point since the Communist Revolution of 1949. But most also believe that the two countries have no choice but to cooperate on issues such as trade, climate change and the global economy.

While Mr Biden and Mr Xi drew up some sort of rapport during Obama’s time, Mr Biden also sharply criticized his counterpart, who, shortly after assuming the Chinese presidency in 2013, launched a harsh crackdown. politics in his country and pursued aggressive territorial claims. in East Asia.

“He’s very bright,” Biden told CBS of Mr. Xi. “He’s very tough. He doesn’t – and I don’t mean this is a criticism, just the reality – he doesn’t have a democratic little bone in his body.

Mr Biden said he and the Chinese president “don’t need to have a conflict”, but warned that “there will be extreme competition”.

“I’m not going to do it like Trump did,” Biden added. “We will focus on the international rules of the road.”

In a briefing for reporters ahead of the call, senior officials in the Biden administration made this point clear. They said Mr. Biden would continue some of the Trump administration’s confrontational policies towards Beijing, including challenging Chinese territorial claims in Asia, defending Taiwan independence and Hong Kong autonomy. Kong, and China’s crackdown on cyber-theft and hacking. Administration officials have said their approach will be more effective than Mr. Trump’s with renewed ties to traditional American allies with whom Mr. Trump has often chosen to fight.

They said they would retain Mr. Trump’s tariffs on Chinese exports to the United States while carrying out a broad review of U.S.-China trade policy.

Competitive work with Beijing would begin at home, officials said, with their efforts to defeat the coronavirus and rebuild the U.S. economy, including by bolstering next-generation technologies like artificial intelligence and 5G networks, in which the China threatens to take the lead.

They also called it crucial to restore America’s damaged political institutions and its reputation as an advocate for human rights and democracy, areas in which Mr. Trump was often indifferent.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Biden announced sanctions against Myanmar’s ruling generals for their role in a military coup this month, an action by senior officials described as a clear demonstration of the renewed commitment of the states- United for democracy abroad – in this case, in China’s backyard.

And during an afternoon visit to the Pentagon, the president announced the creation of a Department of Defense task force to review U.S. military policies toward China. He will report on his findings by the summer.

Perhaps reflecting Mr. Biden’s tough campaign message about China and its leadership, Mr. Xi was one of the last world leaders to publicly congratulate Biden on his victory. He was also one of the last great leaders to speak to the new US president after his election.

This composure is a far cry from the friendly tone the men adopted in their numerous meetings in the United States and China under the Obama administration. During a 2013 trip Mr. Biden took to Beijing, Mr. Xi addressed him in the Great Hall of the People as “my old friend.”

Chris Buckley contribution to reports.

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She is a Chinese pop star with millions of fans. His latest success concerns domestic violence.

– Extract from the song “Xiao Juan” about women victims of domestic violence

In Her Words is available as a newsletter. Sign up here to receive it in your inbox.

Tan Weiwei is a Chinese pop star, but his latest song is not about relationships or the search for love. It focuses on women victims of domestic violence.

“Know my name and remember it. When can we end the tragedy? Ms. Tan sings in “Xiao Juan”. The name is the Chinese equivalent of Jane Doe in the United States, given to women victims of unknown or unidentified crimes.

Since its release in December, the song has resonated with millions of women in China. On a video site popular with young Chinese internet users, Bilibili, the video for the song has been viewed over 1.1 million times.

The lyrics – which were written by Yin Yue, Ms. Tan’s collaborative partner – unleash a litany of references to horrific cases of domestic violence that have captured China’s attention in recent years.

A line about the use of fists, gasoline and sulfuric acid nods to the September murder of Lhamo, a Tibetan farmer whose ex-husband is accused of spraying her with gasoline and set it on fire. A line on being flushed down the drain, “from the marriage bed to the riverbed,” refers to the July discovery of a woman’s dismembered remains in a communal septic tank. Another sentence – “Put my body in a suitcase and put it in a refrigerator on the balcony” – refers to a shocking murder case in 2016, when a man in Shanghai killed his wife and hid her remains in a refrigerator for more than 100 days.

Although China passed an anti-domestic violence law in 2015, it is not well enforced, especially in small towns and rural areas, and cases continue to occur. According to Beijing Equality, a women’s rights group, Chinese media have reported the deaths of more than 900 women killed by their partners since the law was enacted in 2016, but the actual number is likely much higher.

Tan Weiwei, also known as Sitar Tan, is one of the few musicians to address the taboo subject in China – and certainly no other Chinese musician has done so directly or for such broad interest. Chinese authorities have actively suppressed feminism and the Me Too movement; and culturally, it is not considered appropriate to speak openly about these matters: many Chinese consider it a family affair, observing the phrase that “the shame of a family should never be shared outside. “. In Chinese pop culture, musicians usually don’t criticize social issues.

But the song – one of 11 tracks from Ms. Tan’s album dedicated to the lives of ordinary Chinese women – sparked a wave of discussion about domestic violence on Weibo, a Twitter-like platform, and posts. with the hashtag “Tan Weiwei’s words are so bold” have now been viewed over 360 million times.

Feng Yuan, professor and coordinator of the Center for Women’s Studies at Shantou University, said the song revealed the inequality and sexism that are ingrained in China’s highly patriarchal society.

“It resonates with many people and also causes discomfort in many people,” Ms. Feng said in a telephone interview. “She put these extreme stories in front of you. You cannot avoid them; you have to look at them directly. “

After the song’s release, women started sharing their own stories of gender-based violence on social media platforms. Then come stories of grandmothers, mothers and sisters who had been abused by their partners.

“Her song has become a symbol and a platform for people to release their emotions and thoughts about gender-based violence,” said Chen Junmi, 24, who works in an LGBTQ + rights group in Beijing. “I think it’s very powerful. This is the first time that a mainstream pop singer has spoken out about gender-based violence. It’s very brave of him to do that.

But the singer herself didn’t call it courage: “It’s not bravery but just a sense of responsibility,” she writes on Weibo.

In an interview with New Weekly, a Chinese lifestyle magazine, Ms. Tan said, “For many Xiao Juan [Jane Does] what was hidden was not only their names, not only their sufferings, but also their dignity as human beings, the joys and sorrows of their lives, their longing and longing for love.

Ms. Yin, the lyricist, said in the same interview that she was inspired by Chanel Miller’s “Know My Name” book, a memoir about surviving sexual assault. Ms. Yin said that it only took her three hours to finish writing the lyrics because these thoughts and feelings had been with her for years.

Ms. Yin and Ms. Tan first collaborated in 2016 on a song for the movie “X-Men: Apocalypse” in China – Ms. Yin wrote the lyrics and Ms. Tan put on the music. They decided to make an album exploring the identity of women after their first collaboration, according to People, a Chinese magazine.

But the song seems to have landed at the right time, as Chinese women have spoken out more about their rights. As part of the Me Too movement in China, Chinese women, many of whom are students, have pledged to accuse prominent men of sexual harassment in the media industry, universities and religious institutions. A stand-up actress poked fun at men’s egos and started a heated debate on social media last month. And in 2018, an adaptation of the music video for the American musical “Chicago” featuring six revenge stories of Chinese women on gender violence went viral on the Internet.

“Only when this kind of pain is truly and widely seen, heard, recognized and accepted, and when these issues are openly addressed and discussed, will there be the possibility of ending the tragedy in the future.” Ms. Yin said in the interview with New Weekly.

In Her Words is available as a newsletter. Sign up here to receive it in your inbox. Write to us at

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U.S. says Chinese crackdown on Uyghurs ‘genocide’

Tensions escalated sharply from 2009, when Uyghurs participating in ethnic riots killed around 200 Han in Urumqi, the regional capital, after earlier tensions and violence. Chinese security forces have launched a massive crackdown. Attacks and further crackdowns took place in Uyghur towns in the years that followed, as well as in some towns outside of Xinjiang.

Since 2017, Xinjiang leaders under pressure from Xi have initiated or intensified policies aimed at transforming Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other ethnic minorities into loyal and largely secular supporters of the Communist Party. According to the determination of the State Department, the Chinese government had committed “crimes against humanity” since “at least March 2017”.

Security forces have sent hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs and Kazakhs – perhaps a million or more by some estimates – to indoctrination camps designed to instill loyalty to the party and break up membership in the ‘Islam. The Chinese government defended the camps as benign vocational schools and challenged estimates of the number of detainees, never giving its own. Former detainees and their families who left China described harsh living conditions, crude indoctrination and abusive guards.

The swelling of the camps has drawn growing international condemnation, including from human rights experts who advise the UN as well as the United States and other countries. Journalists and academics began writing about the camps and a sophisticated, high-tech surveillance system in Xinjiang in 2017, long before foreign governments began discussing the matter.

The indoctrination camps, however, were only one part of the larger campaign of the Chinese Communist Party to radically transform Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other ethnic minorities. Other measures include labor transfers, educational and cultural policies, and population control.

Under Xi’s leadership, Xinjiang expanded and intensified long-standing programs to move Uyghurs and Kazakhs from rural areas to jobs in factories, cities, and commercial agriculture. The Chinese government has stated that these labor transfers are completely voluntary and bring prosperity to poor people. But some programs have set targets for the number of people relocated to work and have prevented recruits from choosing or leaving their jobs – hallmarks of forced labor.

Schools have largely abandoned classes in Uyghur, pushing students to learn Chinese. Uyghur scholars who sought to preserve and promote their culture have been arrested and publication in the Uyghur language has been severely restricted. Authorities forced children into boarding schools, separated from their parents.

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Trump was briefed on unsubstantiated Chinese bonus intelligence

President Trump was briefed this month with reports that China had offered to pay bounties to fighters in Afghanistan who attacked US soldiers there, but the information has not been corroborated and comes months after Mr. Trump dismissed as a “hoax” a CIA assessment that Russia had paid for such attacks.

It is not known whether intelligence from China shows bonuses were paid or whether attacks on U.S. personnel were even attempted. US intelligence agencies collect huge amounts of information, most of which turns out to be false or misleading.

The information – included in the president’s written briefing on Dec. 17 and relayed verbally by National Security Advisor Robert C. O’Brien – was reported Wednesday evening by Axios and confirmed by US officials.

It comes at a time when Trump administration officials, including Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, have sought to put more pressure on China, in part in hopes of limiting any plans by the new Biden administration. to ease tensions with Beijing.

Mr Trump, Mr Ratcliffe and other officials have also sought to draw attention to Chinese misconduct in areas where other US officials see Russia as a greater threat, including hacking and the use of disinformation to disrupt US politics.

After the revelation this month that the US government had been subjected to a massive cyber breach that US officials including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confidently attributed to Russia, Mr Trump angrily threw away doubt this notion and sought to involve Beijing. “Russia, Russia, Russia are the priority song when something is happening”, Mr. Trump written on twitter, accusing the media of avoiding “discussing the possibility that it is China (it is possible!)”.

Axios’ report said on Wednesday that the underlying premium information, about which it has received no further details, would be declassified, although it is not known why or for whom. White House officials did not clarify but did not dispute that the information was not corroborated.

Although tensions between the United States and China escalated considerably during the Trump era, Beijing is not known to provide substantial support to anti-American proxies in combat zones like Afghanistan, and some National security experts were initially skeptical that Beijing would support attacks on Americans. . In contrast, many considered similar reports on Russian premiums to be credible.

If confirmed, and particularly if attributed to political leaders in Beijing, such action by China would constitute a grave provocation that may require a response from President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. after taking office in January.

A Biden transition official declined to say on Wednesday evening whether Mr. Biden, who now receives daily official intelligence briefings, had received the same information as the president.

But the official said the Biden team would seek to find out more about this from the Trump administration and that they stressed the importance of a fully cooperative transition process, including with the Department of Defense, which Mr. Biden accused Monday of “obstruction”.

“At the moment,” Biden said in Wilmington, Del., “We just aren’t getting all the information we need from the outgoing administration in key areas of national security.”

Months before the report involving China, the Pentagon and US intelligence agencies were investigating reports collected this year, and first reported by The New York Times, that Russian military intelligence agents had offered to pay fighters linked to the Taliban in Afghanistan for the murder of American soldiers. The.

The CIA estimated with average confidence that Russia had secretly offered and paid the bounties to a network of Afghan militants and criminals. The National Security Agency placed less confidence in the intelligence. But Mr Pompeo, for his part, has taken the reports seriously enough to issue a stern face-to-face warning this summer to his Russian counterpart.

Mr Trump was also given a written briefing on this intelligence, but he publicly dismissed it as “fake news” and an extension of what he called the “Russia hoax”, including the investigation into the links to his 2016 campaign with the Kremlin. At the same time, the president suggested that subordinates had not done enough to draw his attention to the Russia report.

“If he had reached my desk, I would have done something about it,” Trump said in July. U.S. officials have said the assessment regarding Russia was included in his intelligence brief written in February, but that he rarely reads this document.

In multiple subsequent conversations with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, Mr. Trump did not raise the issue.

Many questions remain about unverified information about China, including when such bonuses were allegedly offered, by whom and to whom. The United States and its coalition partners in Afghanistan are fighting not only the Taliban, but also Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and various other militant and criminal groups.

The reportedly scheduled release of more information comes at a time when Democrats and many career intelligence officials fear that Trump officials like Mr. Ratcliffe have sought to selectively declassify intelligence for political purposes, such as the investigation into Russia and electoral interference.

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Chinese state news media are reacting to Biden’s victory with cautious optimism.

HONG KONG – Chinese state news media reacted with cautious optimism to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the United States presidential election, expressing hope that it would stabilize the rapidly deteriorating relations between the two countries.

But numerous media also continued to warn of future tensions between the superpowers and to suggest that American democracy was in decline.

Under President Trump, trust and cooperation between the United States and China reached an all-time low in recent history, as a trade war raged and officials on both sides lamented it. espionage, protest movements and the coronavirus pandemic. China’s state-controlled media had increasingly criticized Mr. Trump and the United States in recent months.

But the immediate reaction to Mr. Biden’s victory on Sunday was measured, indicating that China was willing to give it a try, and was in fact eager to do so.

“The result could usher in a ‘buffer period’ for the already strained Sino-US relations, and offer an opportunity for breakthroughs in resuming high-level communication and rebuilding mutual strategic trust,” wrote Global Times, a fiercely nationalist tabloid, in an article, quoting Chinese experts.

The article suggested that the two countries could work together to fight climate change, contain the coronavirus and develop vaccines, noting that Mr Biden would be “more moderate and mature” on foreign affairs.

The response echoed much of the rest of the world, where many world leaders heaved sighs of relief after the election. The president-elect pledged a return to normalcy and a renewed commitment to multilateralism.

Global Times noted this relief in a tweet, writing that the leaders of Canada, Britain, France, India and Germany had already congratulated Mr. Biden. “The Trump era seems over,” he said.

But even as Chinese propaganda signaled a new phase in US-China relations, it also continued to push a narrative of America’s decline – a constant chorus in recent months as an increasingly wealthy and confident China tried to sell to the rest of the world. as a viable alternative for global leadership.

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Cecilia Chiang, who brought authentic Chinese food to America, dies at 100

Cecilia Chiang, whose San Francisco restaurant, Mandarin, introduced American customers in the 1960s to the richness and variety of authentic Chinese cuisine, died Wednesday at her home in San Francisco. She was 100 years old.

His granddaughter Siena Chiang has confirmed the death.

Ms Chiang came to the United States from China as a wealthy girl who fled the Japanese during World War II, walking nearly 700 miles. Once in San Francisco, she proceeded, largely by accident and almost on her own, to take Chinese cuisine from the era of chop suey and chow mein to the more refined of today, appealing to diners with the dishes she ate growing up in her family’s converted home. Beijing Ming Era Palace.

The Mandarin, which opened in 1962 as a 65-seat restaurant on Polk Street in the Russian Hill section and then operated in Ghirardelli Square near Fisherman’s Wharf, offered its customers specialties unheard of at the time, such as potstickers, dry spices à la Chongqing. -Grated beef, Sichuan peppery eggplant, moo shu pork, sizzling rice soup and glazed bananas.

It was traditional mandarin cuisine, a catch-all term for the dining style of the well-to-do in Beijing, where heads of families prepared local dishes as well as regional specialties from Sichuan, Shanghai and Canton.

In a profile of Ms. Chiang in 2007, The San Francisco Chronicle wrote that her restaurant “defined high-end Chinese cuisine, introducing customers to Sichuan dishes like kung pao chicken and twice-cooked pork, and fine preparations. like chopped squab in lettuce cups; smoked duck with tea; and the beggar’s chicken, a whole bird stuffed with dried mushrooms, water chestnuts and ham and baked in clay.

The restaurant has become a sanctuary for culinary luminaries such as James Beard, Marion Cunningham and Alice Waters, who have said that Ms Chiang has done for Chinese cuisine what Julia Child has done for French cuisine.

This sentiment was echoed by gourmet magazine Saveur in 2000, when it wrote that Mandarin had “accomplished nothing less than bringing regional Chinese cuisine to America.”

Food specialist Paul Freedman included Mandarin in his landmark survey “Ten Restaurants That Changed America” (2016).

Like Ms. Child, Ms. Chiang was not a chef, nor a likely candidate to run a restaurant. She was born Sun Yun near Shanghai in 1920 – the exact date is not clear – the seventh daughter in a family of nine girls and three boys. His father, Sun Long Guang, was a French-trained railway engineer who retired at age 50 to continue reading and gardening. His mother, Sun Shueh Yun Hui, came from a wealthy family who owned textile and flour mills. After her parents died, Sun Yun handled the finances of the company when she was still a teenager.

The Ming-era palace in which she grew up occupied an entire city block in Beijing, where the Chiangs moved in the mid-1920s. Children were not allowed into the kitchen, but she lent a careful attention to trips to food markets with her mother and listened intently to the detailed instructions given to the cooks.

After the Japanese occupied Beijing in 1939, the family’s fortunes became precarious. In early 1943, Cecilia, as her professors at Fu Jen Roman Catholic University called her, left to join relatives in Chongqing.

During her long journey, largely on foot, she survived with a few gold coins sewn into her clothes, her only assets after Japanese soldiers stole her suitcase.

In Chongqing, she found a part-time job as a Mandarin teacher in the American and Soviet embassies. She also met and married Chiang Liang, whom she had known as a professor of economics at Fu Jen University and who was then an executive of a tobacco company.

The couple moved to Shanghai after the war. In 1949, as Communist forces prepared to take control of China, Mr. Chiang was offered a diplomatic post in Tokyo at the Chinese Nationalist Mission.

Two years after arriving in Tokyo, Ms. Chiang opened a Chinese restaurant, the Forbidden City, with a group of friends. It was an instant success, also attracting Chinese expats and Japanese diners.

Ms. Chiang sailed to San Francisco in 1960 to help her sister Sun, whose husband had just died. There she met two Chinese acquaintances from Tokyo, women who had recently emigrated to the United States and who wanted to open a restaurant. Ms. Chiang agreed to put $ 10,000 on deposit at a store they found on Polk Street, far from the city’s Chinatown.

When the two women withdrew, Ms. Chiang was horrified that the deposit was not refundable. She took a deep breath and decided to open the restaurant on her own rather than telling her husband that she had lost the money.

“I started to think that if I could create a restaurant with Western-style service and ambiance and the dishes I knew the most – the delicious food from North China – maybe my little restaurant would be successful.” , she wrote in the second of her two cookbook memoirs, “The Seventh Girl: My Culinary Journey from Beijing to San Francisco” (2007, written with Lisa Weiss). The first was “The Mandarin Way” (1974, with Allan Carr).

Through a newspaper ad, Ms. Chiang found two talented chefs, a married couple from Shandong, and in no time the restaurant was up and running. The beginnings were difficult. The local suppliers, who all spoke Cantonese, refused to deliver in Mandarin and did not give credit. The menu, with 200 dishes, was unmanageable. Mrs. Chiang, running out of help, cleaned the kitchen floor herself.

But little by little, Chinese diners, and a few Americans, came regularly for hot, sweet and sour soup and pan-fried potstickers. One evening, Herb Caen, the popular columnist for The Chronicle, had dinner at the restaurant. In a later column, he called it “a little hole in the wall” which served “some of the best Chinese food in the eastern Pacific.”

Overnight, the tables filled. Lines formed outside the door. The Mandarin was on his way. In 1968, Ms. Chiang moved the restaurant to larger neighborhoods on Ghirardelli Square, where it could seat 300 diners and offer cooking classes.

In 1975, she opened a second Mandarin, in Beverly Hills, California. She sold it to her son, Philip, in 1989. He went on to help start the PF Chang restaurant chain. He survives her, as does his daughter, May Ongbhaibulya; three granddaughters; and three great-grandchildren.

Ms. Chiang sold the original Mandarin in 1991. It closed in 2006.

Ms. Chiang continued to work as a catering consultant into her 90s. Director Wayne Wang made a documentary about her, “Soul of a Banquet,” which was released in 2014, and in 2016 San Diego PBS station KPBS aired a six-part series, “The Kitchen Wisdom of Cecilia Chiang” .

“I think I changed what ordinary people know about Chinese cuisine,” Ms. Chiang told The Chronicle in 2007. “They didn’t know China was such a big country.

Alex Traub contributed reporting.