US President George W. Bush and his government are hopeful that Iraq's first election Sunday will be a key turning point in a conflict that has proven to be more difficult than the Bush administration anticipated. \nAt the same time, US officials have played down expectations that the election, while a crucial step, will quickly change the situation on the ground or take place under ideal conditions. \n"Nobody from the beginning has ever said that this is going to be a perfect election," State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said Monday. \nIraqi voters on Sunday will select a transitional national assembly that will be responsible for drafting a constitution and is scheduled to hold elections for a permanent government by the end of the year. \nBuilding a new, permanent government in Iraq is essential for a US withdrawal from the country, but that will not take place, officials say, until Baghdad can provide security without the help of the US. \nIraqi forces are being internationally trained at a slower pace than expected, and some of the homegrown troops have refused to follow orders or show up for duty. Some have even joined the bloody insurgency that has taken its toll on Iraqi and US forces. \nA senior US State Department official said that by replacing the government set up by the US and conducting elections, the Iraqi security forces will see the value in defending a government chosen by Iraqis. \n"The establishment of a legitimate government with a vision for the future is critical, because if you're going to ask Iraqi security forces to go out and combat other Iraqis who timate government," the official said. \nKeeping the process moving along in Iraq is crucial for Bush at home, where the public is growing increasingly sceptical of the war. \nOne recent poll showed 75 percent of the public believes US troops will still be in Iraq when Bush leaves office in four years. \nHis second term began last week. \nBush and his deputies have warned that as the election nears, the insurgents will grow more violent in trying to intimidate voters and disrupt the democratic process. \nMilitant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian native and al-Qaeda operative who has claimed responsibility for some of the deadliest terrorist attacks, said he will not relent. \n"We have declared a fierce war on this evil principle of democracy and those who follow this wrong ideology," al-Zarqawi said in a tape that surfaced Sunday. "Anyone who tries to help set up this system is part of it." \nAl-Zarqawi's group said it carried out this week's bombing outside the Baghdad headquarters of Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, wounding 10 people. \nDespite the violence, US officials are confident Iraqis will want to vote, but those who do probably won't feel very safe. \n"Given the nature and history of violence in Iraq over the last few months, I wouldn't expect the best exposition of security arrangements to be necessarily convincing," the senior State Department official said. "It's going to take an act of courage on the part of Iraqis." \nFourteen of Iraq's 18 provinces are relatively stable, and the US expected most of the violence to take place in three Sunni provinces north of Baghdad and in parts of the capital, which is its own province, the official said. \nFor the Bush administration, the elections will also serve as a challenge to other Middle Eastern countries and leaders to introduce democratic and economic reforms, a position that will likely come into greater focus during the second term. \nThe Iraqi elections, the senior official said, "are very significant in that, to my knowledge, these are the first elections in modern Arab history in which the outcome cannot be predicted."
With its passing of Hong Kong’s new National Security Law, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) continues to tighten its noose on Hong Kong. Gone is the broken 1997 promise that Hong Kong would have free, democratic elections by 2017. Gone also is any semblance that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) plays the long game. All the CCP had to do was hold the fort until 2047, when the “one country, two systems” framework would end and Hong Kong would rejoin the “motherland.” It would be a “demonstration-free” event. Instead, with the seemingly benevolent velvet glove off, the CCP has revealed its true iron
At the end of last month, Paraguayan Ambassador to Taiwan Marcial Bobadilla Guillen told a group of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators that his president had decided to maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan, despite pressure from the Chinese government and local businesses who would like to see a switch to Beijing. This followed the Paraguayan Senate earlier this year voting against a proposal to establish ties with China in exchange for medical supplies. This constituted a double rebuke of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) diplomatic agenda in a six-month span from Taiwan’s only diplomatic ally in South America. Last year, Tuvalu rejected an
US President Donald Trump’s administration on Friday last week announced it would impose sanctions on the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, a vast paramilitary organization that is directly controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and has been linked to human rights violations against Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. The sanctions follow US travel bans against other Xinjiang officials and the passage of the US Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which authorizes targeted sanctions against mainland Chinese and Hong Kong officials, in response to Beijing’s imposition of national security legislation on the territory. The sanctions against the corps would be implemented
US President Donald Trump on Thursday issued executive orders barring Americans from conducting business with WeChat owner Tencent Holdings and ByteDance, the Beijing-based owner of popular video-sharing app TikTok. The orders are to take effect 45 days after they were signed, which is Sept. 20. The orders accuse WeChat of helping the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) review and remove content that it considers to be politically sensitive, and of using fabricated news to benefit itself. The White House has accused TikTok of collecting users’ information, location data and browsing histories, which could be used by the Chinese government, and pose