Mar 30, 2018

China's possible global rendition program

A security guard opens a curtain during the closing session of the Party Congress. Photo: Nicolas Asfouri / AFP / Getty Images

Foreign Policy published Thursday an explosive story, "The Disappeared," examining the mysterious vanishing of Chinese citizens over the last several years. Some of the cases are well-known, like those of financier Xiao Jinhua and bookseller Gui Minhai, who were both taken from Hong Kong.

Yes, but: The article claims the efforts extend to Australia and increasingly America, though according to FP, the known American cases so far appear to involve pressure instead of outright kidnapping. FP spoke to a senior former U.S. intelligence official who insists there's no evidence that the American cases are not "true" renditions, like the kidnappings now seen in Australia. Per FP:

"There’s a big difference between kidnapping and pressure," the former official said, "[between] kicking in a door and taking a guy forcefully away and saying, ‘Come with us or we’ll kill your family in Inner Mongolia.’”
"It would be a 'huge leap' for Chinese intelligence to shift from employing extreme pressure tactics to performing actual hands-on kidnappings in the United States," the official said.

ICYMI: One recent high-profile case in the U.S. involved the unauthorized visit of two PRC security officials to meet with fugitive businessman Guo Wengui. As the Wall Street Journal reported last year in a story that reads like a spy thriller, the FBI detained the two officials but the agency was prevented from formally arresting them and so allowed them to return to China.

Why it matters: Expect these cases to only increase as China’s global power and influence increases — and as the Communist Party expands its efforts to influence the overseas Chinese diaspora.

More: Read these pieces from The Economist and the WSJ.

Go deeper

Stocks fall 4% as sell-off worsens

A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

Stocks fell more than 4% on Thursday, extending the market’s worst week since the financial crisis in 2008 following a spike in coronavirus cases around the world.

The big picture: All three indices are in correction, down over 10% from recent record-highs, amid a global market rout. It's the S&P 500's quickest decline into correction territory in the index's history, per Deutsche Bank.

Coronavirus updates: California monitors 8,400 potential cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

33 people in California have tested positive for the coronavirus, and health officials are monitoring 8,400 people who have recently returned from "points of concern," Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 82,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica, and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health

Watchdog opens probe into VA secretary over handling of sexual assault claim

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie on Fox Business Network’s "The Evening Edit" on Jan. 7. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

The Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General Michael Missal said Thursday he had opened an investigation into VA Secretary Robert Wilkie after lawmakers demanded an inquiry into his handling of a sexual misconduct report, the Washington Post reports.

Context: Wilkie allegedly "worked to discredit" the credibility of Democratic aide and veteran Andrea Goldstein after she reported last fall "that a man groped and propositioned her in the main lobby of the agency's D.C. Medical Center," a senior VA official told the Post.