Recently in International Category

Fang Lizhi, the man who inspired Tiananmen, dies

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Fang Lizhi, the man who sparked the Tiananmen Square protests, died at 76 years old in the United States.

According to the BBC, Fang was a leading astrologist in China who was expelled from the Communist Party after being accused of stirring unrest. After the crackdown at Tiananmen, Fang and his wife sough refuge at a U.S. embassy and was finally brought over to the United States after a year.

The Huffington Post stated that Fang would stand up against the Deng Xiaoping government and use satire to mock the government during his physics classes. Although he was well-liked by his students, the party blacklisted him.

He was a strong advocate for science as a force for human rights, according to the Huffington Post. To be successful in science, there has to be free flow of information and independent judgement.

Aung San Suu Kyi's party wins by a landslide

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Burma dissident Aung San Suu Kyi's party, The National League for Democracy, won 43 of the 44 seats it contested for giving it representation in the parliament still dominated by President's Thein Sein's party.

According to the Associated Press, Suu Kyi called the election a "triumph of the people." She had won a parliamentary seat.

According to Bloombery News, Su Kyi had spend 15 years under house arrest, boycotted the 2010 elections that ended five decades of oppressive military rule and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her non-violent struggle.

CNN wrote that it is unclear if the NLD had won the 44th seat. Also, even though the control in parliament will not change, this election "marks an important step forward for many in the country who have lived under military rule for 50 years," said CNN.

The Associated Press wrote that Suu Kyi called it the "new era."

China's cracks down on coup rumors online

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The Chinese government shut down 16 websites and detained six internet users for "fabricating or spreading" online rumors.

According to the BBC, the rumors of the coup were about military vehicles on the street of Beijing.

According to USAtoday, rumors began to go crazy on Chinese websites after the dismissal of rising party member, Bo Xilai. Bo's fall came after an internet scandal of his police chief trying to find asylum in a U.S. consulate.

According to the BBC, Bo's fall came during a time where China will begin a once-in-a-decade leadership change. This could signify a huge power struggle within the party.

The People's Daily, the party's main newspaper, wrote that "Internet rumours and lies packaged as 'facts' will turn conjecture into 'reality,' stir up trouble online and disturb people's minds," reported the BBC. However, BBC correspondents say that there is no evidence to substantiate the rumors of the coup.

Obama's visit to South Korea

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Obama's visit to South Korea is aimed to pressure North Korea before international nuclear talks.

According to the Washington Post, Obama sternly expressed his thoughts on North Korea's nuclear programs while also encouraging the international community also put pressure on Pyongyang. "North Korea needs to understand that bad behavior will not be rewarded," Obama said during an evening news conference with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

The summit meeting on nuclear security will be attended by top officials from 54 countries including China and Russia, according to CNN. However, the subject of the meeting has been overshadowed by North Korea's plans of a long-range missile test.

According to the Washington Post, the missile test will jeopardize the aid North Korea will be able to receive from the United States.

The United States discussed conditions for food aid with North Korea during a meeting on Thursday.

According to the BBC, the conditions for U.S. food aid included talks on ending North Korea's nuclear program. This policy contradicts official U.S. policy where the provision of food aid is separate from the issue of North Korea's nuclear program, according to the BBC.

North Korea relies mostly on international aid to feed its people.

The BBC wrote that International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors were asked to leave Yongbyon (a reactor plant) in 2009 when denuclearization talks between North Korea, China, the U.S., Russia, South Korea and Japan broke down.

According to Fox News, this is the first meeting where nuclear issues were brought up since the death of North Korea's last leader, Kim Jong-Il, last December. His successor, Kim Jong-Un, seem to be following the footsteps of the late leader's aggressive nuclear policies, reported Fox News.

China will repatriate "hundreds" of North Korean refugees

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Hundreds of North Korean defectors will be repatriated after being arrested in various parts of China, rights activists say.

Kim Hoe-tae of Solidarity for North Korean Human Rights told the Chosun Ilbo, "Some 220 defectors have been interrogated by regional security departments in China and are being held at about 10 detention centers near the North Korea-China border. They'll be sent back to the North one by one."

Former unification deputy minister Kim Suk-woo also told the Chosun Ilbo that "China has repatriated about 5,000 defectors to the North every year under an agreement on the extradition of fugitives and criminals it concluded with the North in the 1960s."

According to DailyNK, China views defectors as illegal border-crossers motivated by economic gain and not refugees. This is why China claims that it is not bound by its obligations under international conventions on refugees and against torture and can repatriate them.

There is also a growing number of pleas from China's own internet sphere to consider the plight of the refugees from a humanitarian point of view, reported DailyNK. On Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, photos and commentaries regarding protests against repatriations held outside the Chinese embassy in Seoul, and other related news, are being steadily uploaded, commented upon and re-tweeted, according to the DailyNK.

North Korea vows retaliation

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has ordered the military to launch a powerful retaliatory strike if provoked by South Korea, the North's state-run media reported on Sunday.

According to the New York Times, Kim's statement to the military was issued during his visit to the southern coast of North Korea that faces a string of islands manned by South Korea's marines. This order was given a day before South Korea and the United State's scheduled joint military exercises.

The United States claim that these exercises are meant to deter aggresion from North Korea while North Korea believes that these exercise are a "provocation that necessitate its nuclear program," reports the New York Times.

According to Mercury News, North Korea's fiery response to the joint exercises has not changed from that of former leader Kim Jong Il, who died in December. Analysts told Mercury news that his youngest son has continued his father's brash approach to the outside world in order to rally support for the nation's leaders.

Human rights groups slam "indulgent" treatment of China

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Trade and security issues topped Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping's talks in the United States this week, but a wide range of concerns about human rights were raised during the visit as well.

Xi Jin Ping, China's presumed next leader, talked to President Obama on his trip to the United States while there were protests for China's human rights situation outside the White House.

Alim Seytoff from the Uighur American Association told the Voice of America,
"Our hope is that when President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, they would raise human rights issues, specifically the case of Uighur Muslims and Tibetan Buddhists. In addition to the Chinese dissidents and lawyers who have been locked up and disappeared."

Amnesty International has also told the Irish Examiner that they have urged the Irish government to bring up China's human rights violations when Xi visited Ireland after his visit to the United States.

According to the Voice of America, Xi defended China's human rights record during the White House visit. He said that China making progress at its own pace, but that position fell on deaf ears outside

South Korean troops began a live-fire artillery exercise on islands on the disputed sea border with North Korea Monday despite of threats from the North of "merciless" retaliation, officials said.

The South Korean defense ministry said that the drills started at 10 a.m. and lasted for two hours. About 1,400 residents of those islands were asked to stay in shelters during the drill, according to Sin Chew Daily.

The North was notified of the scheduled exercise at the border truce village of Panmunjom on Sunday, where the North in turn its military vowed "merciless retaliatory strikes" if any shells land in waters claimed by Pyongyang.

According to the BBC, the drills took place islands where four South Koreans were killed in 2010 because of a North Korean artillery attack.

Tensions are high between North and South Korea, who are still technically at war, especially since North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il passed away two months ago.

Aung San Suu Kyi's campaign in Myanmar

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Opposition lead and ex-political prisoner, Aung San Suu Kyi's campaign is drawing mass Burmese popularity.

According to NPR, just one year ago, Aung San See Kyi, a Nobel Prize laureate and pro democracy activist was under house arrest. Now, she is gearing up for for a highly anticipated parliamentary elections on April 1st.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi told a crowd estimated at more than 40,000 in Pathein that if elected to parliament she would help "make changes in the constitution, to have the rule of law and to work for internal peace."

Her party, National League for Democracy (NLD), is contesting 48 seats in the upcoming by-elections.

After some recent amnesty moves in what looks like a reforming government regime, such as the freeing of hundreds of long-detained political prisoners, the Myanmar government is anticipating on what her and her party will accomplish.

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