China Briefs

May 25, 2016 4:34 pm Last Updated: May 25, 2016 6:21 pm

China building ‘Underwater Great Wall’ to counter US submarines

China is working on an underwater surveillance system that may thwart U.S. maritime advantage in the Asia-Pacific region.

The “Underwater Great Wall Project,” as it is called, proposes a network of ships and underwater sensors capable of “real-time location, tracing of surface and underwater targets,” according to the China State Shipbuilding Corporation.

The company shared details about the project at its booth at a late-2015 public exhibition in China. Translation of the description was obtained by IHS Jane’s, a British publisher specializing in defence, security, aerospace, and transportation intelligence.

The network “could significantly erode the undersea warfare advantage held by U.S. and Russian submarines and contribute greatly to future Chinese ability to control the South China Sea,” IHS Jane’s wrote in a May 17 article.

China is muscling its way into the South China Sea, claiming vast territory already claimed by other neighbouring countries that rely on the United States for military protection.

The underwater surveillance project resembles the sound surveillance system (SOSUS) the United States deployed in the 1950s to detect Soviet submarines.

Chinese man wrongly diagnosed with AIDS lives like a prisoner for a decade

A Chinese man wrongly diagnosed with AIDS is fighting an uphill battle for compensation, The Paper, a state-run publication, reported May 18.

The 10-year ordeal of Yang Shoufa, a 53-year-old farmer living in Henan Province, central China, began in late 2003 when he underwent a blood test for a health survey. The doctor informed him that he was infected with “that kind disease,” meaning AIDS. The diagnosis was corrected only in 2012, by which time Yang’s life was already in shambles.

AIDS is frighteningly common in rural Henan, one of the poorest parts of China. Many people in Yang’s village contracted AIDS from selling blood. Because Yang had also sold blood, he didn’t doubt the results of the test.

For nearly a decade, until Yang got his condition rediagnosed, he led the life of a “condemned prisoner.” Though he did not in fact have AIDS, the placebo effect and social ostracization he suffered was enough to make his life akin to that of a “condemned prisoner.”

Already poor, Yang’s wife decided to leave him. Though her first attempt at divorce was rejected, she later invented a story saying that she had been abducted and sold into marriage, which the court accepted in 2011.

In 2012, Yang went to the No. 1 People’s Hospital in the city of Nanyang to get treatment for a severe ailment. He had been taking a great deal of medicine to treat his nonexistent AIDS, and the associated side effects had taken a serious toll on his health.

To his surprise, hospital staff said that he did not have AIDS but was suffering from an inflamed esophagus, stomach, gall bladder, and swelling of the prostate gland.

When Yang tried to get the misdiagnosis investigated at the local disease control and prevention centre, he spent half a year negotiating red tape and empty excuses.

Meanwhile, the pension he received for his status as an AIDS patient was cancelled, and the 2 million yuan (about C$400,000) compensation he is looking for to cover damages seems unlikely: Officials told him he can be compensated a tenth of that amount.

Former judge kicks off hunger strike relay in New York for Chinese activist

Zhong Jinhua, a former Chinese judge, has kicked off a hunger strike relay in New York in support of human rights activist Guo Feixiong, who is imprisoned in China.

Zhong is a former judge, and then lawyer, in China, who now lives in exile due to his activism.

Guo Feixiong is a storied and veteran human rights activist in China, for years a thorn in the side of the authorities as he engaged in bold activism aimed at exposing and stopping human rights abuses by communist authorities. Now, he’s wasting away in prison.

Guo has himself been on hunger strike since May 9, in protest against the humiliation and abuse he has been subjected to by prison guards.

Zhong Jinhua is one of a couple of hundred other activists who are staging their own hunger strike to show their support, raise attention around Guo’s plight, and, hopefully, put some pressure on the Chinese regime to have Guo released on medical grounds.

Guo Feixiong (his real name is Yang Maodong) was sentenced to six years jail in November 2015 for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” an extremely vague provision in Chinese criminal law that gives the authorities carte blanche to punish citizens whose otherwise legal activism is deemed a political problem.

“He’s been on a hunger strike in jail for many days, putting his life in danger,” Zhong Jinhua said, in an interview outside the U.N.. “His work has been so righteous, and yet the treatment he’s received has been so inhumane.” Zhong said that he was most concerned that Guo would die in custody because of his health problems, exacerbated by the protest.

Zhong’s form of hunger striking, pioneered in China by lawyer Gao Zhisheng in 2006, is not done in a manner that endangers the lives of the participants. It is typically done in the form of a relay, which each demonstrator taking the baton for a day or two.

Zhong says there are already seven or eight other rights lawyers who have signed up after him, and that the protest will likely extend until June 4, the anniversary of the Communist Party’s brutal 1989 crackdown on students in Tiananmen Square.