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China: We Love Iran
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March 2, 2012: In Tibet Internet and mobile phone controls have been increased. This is in anticipation of more separatist demonstrations. Such unrest has been growing over the last year. In that time at least 22 Buddhist monks have set themselves on fire, which usually triggers anti-government riots and demonstrations. The ethnic Tibetans behind this unrest use the Internet and mobile phones to organize events and avoid arrest.

Perhaps as a result of the increasing internal unrest China has been less aggressive against its neighbors this year. Nevertheless, the government has allowed news stories of special training to take or defend disputed islands in the South China Sea to appear.

Taiwan revealed that it had arrested an air force officer for passing on details of Taiwan's air defenses to China. The arrested man had an uncle who did business in China and apparently delivered the data to Chinese intelligence.

China's effort to control the use of microblogs (the local version of Twitter, as Twitter is banned in China) is working. Starting this year all microblog operators must register using their real name. Most new registrants are trying to get around this requirement and failing. Hosting services fear that microblogging use will drop sharply once the deadline for re-registration of existing microbloggers arrives on the 16th. The government doubts that, since most microblogging activity has nothing to do with politics. China just wants to control political discussions on the microblogs.

China continues to flout international sanctions by shipping gasoline to Iran (which cannot produce enough using its own sanction-crippled refineries). China buys about $20 billion worth of oil from Iran each year. The world condemns China for supporting Iran, which is a religious dictatorship that constantly threatens its neighbors. But China is a communist police state that constantly threatens its neighbors and feels comfortable with Iran.

February 29, 2012: As a result of negotiations arranged by China North Korea has agreed to halt its nuclear weapons program in return for 240,000 tons of food and other aid. The negotiations were held in China last week. At the same time China has allowed North Korean secret police to work in China to help find and arrest defectors who are seen, by the North Korean government, as dangerous (as smugglers or organizers of opposition to the North Korean government).

February 28, 2012:  In western China (Xinjiang province, Yecheng county) Uighurs (ethnic Turks from Xinjiang province) fought with Han Chinese and police. At least twenty people were killed. The government tried hard to suppress the news (and has been doing so for a long time, constantly shutting down web sites that promoted Uighur autonomy and other Uighur matters). The government accuses Uighur activists of endangering state security. This is part of an ongoing effort to suppress Uighur unhappiness with the growing number of Han Chinese moving to traditionally Uighur areas and taking over the economy and most of the good jobs. Same thing is happening in Tibet, where the government is using the same tools to keep everyone under control.

February 27, 2012: Taiwan is receiving two Osprey class coastal mine hunters (900 tons displacement, crew of 51) from the United States. These are retired vessels that will be refurbished and sent to Taiwan this year.

In China a popular outcry caused the government to back down from introducing detention of arrested people in secret locations. Chinese are increasingly active in demanding less, not more, police state practices.

February 24, 2012: Chinese officials are debating a major move against Tibetan separatists by eliminating ethnic information on identity cards. At the moment national identity cards note who is ethnically Tibetan and who is not. The secret police, of course, would retain records of who is Tibetan.

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