‘Ferocity’ of China crackdown ‘unseen in recent years’

China is violating human rights at an intensity that is unprecedented in its recent history, a top watchdog group said Thursday.

The ruling Communist Party has “unleashed an extraordinary assault on basic human rights and their defenders with a ferocity unseen in recent years”, the New York-based group Human Rights Watch said in its annual report.

The group added that recent developments in China are “an alarming sign given that the current leadership will likely remain in power through 2023”.

Since taking office as Communist chief in 2012, China’s President Xi Jinping has overseen a campaign against government critics with hundreds detained or jailed.

“China remains an authoritarian state, one that systematically curbs fundamental rights, including freedom of expression, association, assembly, and religion, when their exercise is perceived to threaten one-party rule,” Human Rights Watch said.

Xi’s much-publicised anti-corruption campaign, the group said, “has been conducted in ways that further undermine the rule of law, with accused officials held in an unlawful detention system, deprived of basic legal protections, and often coerced to confess”.

Activists and other rights defenders in China increasingly face retaliation, Human Rights Watch said, citing a number of cases including that of dissident Cao Shunli, who died in detention last year.

Cao had been detained in 2013 shortly before she was due to travel to Geneva to attend a UN session on China’s rights record.

From Yahoo News –

Russia to increase ‘patrols’ over Gulf of Mexico

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s announcement comes along with a spike in Russian flights over the Black, Baltic and North Seas and Atlantic.
The move highlights growing tensions between the West and Russia over Ukraine, where NATO says Russian tanks are streaming in.
Just Tuesday, Obama and Putin sat together in China for Asia-Pacific economic meeting that was pleasant in front of cameras but icy behind them.
On the table in addition to Ukraine were the issues of Russia’s involvement with warn-torn Syria and its renewed plans to build nuclear reactors in Iran.

Russia’s long-range bombers will range from the Arctic Ocean to the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico on regular patrol missions, the military said Wednesday, a show of muscle reflecting tensions with the West over Ukraine.

A statement from Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s statement comes as NATO has reported a spike in Russian military flights over the Black, Baltic and North seas as well as the Atlantic Ocean.

It reflects Moscow’s increasingly tough posture amid tensions with the West over Ukraine and its role in the conflict in Syria.

Shoigu said Russian long-range bombers will conduct flights along Russian borders and over the Arctic Ocean. He added that ‘in the current situation we have to maintain military presence in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific, as well as the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.’….

The bomber patrol flights have resumed under Putin’s rule and have become increasingly frequent in recent years.

On Monday, the European Leadership Network issued a report that found a sharp rise in Russian-NATO military encounters since the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea, including violations of national airspace, narrowly avoided midair collisions, close encounters at sea, harassment of reconnaissance planes, close overflights over warships, and Russian mock bombing raid missions.

Three of the nearly 40 incidents, the think tank said, carried a ‘high probability’ of causing casualties or triggering a direct military confrontation: a narrowly avoided collision between a civilian airliner and a Russian surveillance plane, the abduction of an Estonian intelligence officer, and a large-scale Swedish hunt for a suspected Russian submarine that yielded no result.

In September, the report said, Russian strategic bombers in the Labrador Sea off Canada practiced cruise missile strikes on the U.S. Earlier this year, in May,

the report said, Russian military aircraft approached within 50 miles (80 kilometers) of the California coast, the closest such Russian military flight reported since the end of the Cold War….

By AP Reporter and Josh Gardner – MailOnline.com –