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China

Activists call for probe into China’s ‘consular volunteers’ network

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The Chinese Communist Party is running a global network of “consular volunteers” through its embassies and consulates who form part of its “United Front” influence and enforcement operations on foreign soil, according to a new report, prompting calls for democratic governments to investigate.

While Chinese embassies and consulates have been using such informal networks for at least a decade, they were recently formalized through a State Council decree that took effect on Sept. 1, yet the networks remain largely undeclared to host countries, the Spain-based rights group Safeguard Defenders said in a report published this week.

Consular volunteers are mostly drafted in to help with administrative tasks linked to consular protection, risk assessments, and even “warnings and advisories” to overseas citizens and organizations, the report said, citing multiple online recruitment advertisements and other official documents.

This gives them full access to individuals’ personal information, and “may also dangerously enhance their function of control over overseas communities and dissenters,” the report warned.

China is already known to rely on an illegal, overseas network of “police service centers” that are sometimes used as a base from which to monitor and harass dissidents in other countries.

Since taking power in 2012, Chinese leader Xi Jinping has launched an accelerated expansion of political influence activities worldwide, much of which rely on overseas community and business groups under the aegis of the United Front Work Department.

Under the radar

While Beijing has shut down some of its overseas police “service centers” following protests from host countries, the “consular volunteer” network has managed to fly under the radar until now, further enabling China’s overseas influence and illegal transnational law enforcement operations, according to the report.

According to the State Council decree, “The state encourages relevant organizations and individuals to provide voluntary services for consular protection and assistance.”

The state also “encourages and supports insurance companies, emergency rescue agencies, law firms and other social forces” to take part in consular work, it says.

A building [with glass front] suspected of being used as a secret police station in Chinatown for the purpose of repressing dissidents living in the United States on behalf of the Chinese government stands in New York City’s lower Manhattan on April 18, 2023. Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The decree also requires Chinese nationals overseas to “abide by the laws of China,” regardless of location.

Organizations and individuals that “make outstanding contributions to consular protection and assistance” are to be commended and rewarded, it says.

And official reports on volunteer commendation ceremonies and training events show that they are – under the supervision of individuals with “direct and demonstrable ties to the CCP’s United Front,” the Safeguard Defenders report said.

“The [consular volunteer] network runs through United Front-linked associations and individuals and shows the involvement of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office,” it said, adding that the Office was labeled an “entity that engages in espionage” by the Federal Canadian Court in 2022.

Global effort

A March 2023 recruitment drive by the Chinese Embassy in the Czech Republic posted to an official website called for volunteers from among “overseas Chinese, international students, Chinese employees of Chinese-funded enterprises and other individuals in the Czech Republic, overseas Chinese groups, Chinese-funded enterprises and other organizations, institutions and groups.”

Similar notices have been seen in Trinidad and Tobago, Botswana, Turkey, Malaysia, Johannesburg, Equatorial Guinea, Chile and Japan, the report said, adding that the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office has also been directly named as a participant at training events for consular volunteers in Rio de Janeiro and Florence, Italy.

According to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, “the United Front system acts as a liaison and amplifier for many other official and unofficial Chinese organizations engaged in shaping international public opinion of China, monitoring and reporting on the activities of the Chinese diaspora, and serving as access points for foreign technology transfer.” 

The Safeguard Defenders report called on democratic countries to review the practice of “consular volunteering” by Chinese diplomatic missions, and warned them not to take part in United Front-linked events.

French current affairs commentator Wang Longmeng described consular volunteers as quasi-spies.

“The so-called assistance in providing consular services actually means collecting financial support from overseas Chinese individuals,” Wang said. “This can help the Chinese Communist Party control overseas Chinese remotely, making them loyal to party and state, as well as helping China to steal Western technology and intelligence.”

“These people are also collecting information on dissidents, and many dissidents’ family members back home are also being threatened,” he said. “This is a quasi-espionage organization and an integral part of the Chinese Communist Party’s transnational repression network.”

Wang said European countries have been fairly slow to catch on to such practices, compared with the United States.

“That encourages the Chinese Communist Party to extend its long arm even further,” he said. “Their intention was never to stop transnational repression and United Front work,” he said, calling for EU legislation to curb such activities “as soon as possible.”

APEC summit

Zhou Fengsuo, executive director of the U.S.-based Human Rights in China, said China’s consulate in San Francisco had engaged in the large-scale mobilization of patriotic protesters during President Xi Jinping visit last week to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ summit in the city..

“The Chinese Communist Party will take up every bit of space it can in democratic societies to extend its rule and engage in state persecution,” Zhou told Radio Free Asia.  “Consulates wield a great deal of power overseas.”

“Much like it did with overseas police stations, the international community needs to face up to this form of [Chinese] government control.”

After Chinese international student Tian Ruichen took part in protests supporting the “White Paper“…

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Canberra ties the knot with Washington

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Canberra ties the knot with Washington

Abstract

Australia has shifted its strategy towards favoring the United States over China due to increasing fear of Chinese power and the competitive Indo-Pacific environment.

The ‘riding two horses’ strategy adopted by Canberra over the past 25 years has shifted in favor of the US alliance to counter China’s growing power. Previous prime ministers sought to balance relations between China and the US, with Kevin Rudd aiming for ‘true friendship’ with China while also promising military intervention if needed. Tony Abbott’s approach was driven by ‘fear and greed’, and John Howard acknowledged the benefits of a relationship with both countries.

However, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has expressed a desire to strengthen the US alliance and cooperate with China while also engaging in Australia’s national interest. This shift is evident in actions such as sending a warship through the Taiwan Strait and introducing legislation to facilitate the AUKUS security partnership.

The Indo-Pacific environment has become more competitive, leading Australia to prioritize fear over greed in its alignment. As China’s GDP continues to rise and may overtake the US by 2030, Canberra’s strategy is likely to continue favoring alignment with Washington due to the lack of a viable alternative for addressing its fear of China’s power.

Read the complete article on East Asia Forum

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2024 China IIT Reconciliation: Appointment Through IIT App Opens on February 21st

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Annual IIT reconciliation for 2023 must be done from March 1 to June 30, 2024. Final tax settlement appointments must be made after February 21, 2024. The process involves checking and reporting on IIT paid and deducted in 2023 to calculate refundable or supplementary tax.


Annual IIT reconciliation for the year 2023 is required to be made during the period from March 1 to June 30, 2024. For those who need to make the final tax settlement between March 1 to March 20, they need to make an appointment after February 21, 2024.

On February 1, 2024, the State Taxation Administration (STA) issued the Announcement on Matters Relating to the Final Settlement of Individual Income Tax on Consolidated Income for the Year 2023 (the Announcement), clarifying matters related to the annual individual income tax (IIT) reconciliation for the year 2023.

Annual IIT reconciliation, or annual IIT settlement, is a process applied to individual taxpayers on their comprehensive income (an individual’s combined income of wages and salaries, remuneration from labor services, author’s remuneration, and royalties), to make sure their IIT paid in the previous tax year is accurate.

During the process, individual taxpayers will need to recheck their IIT paid and deducted in the tax year, calculate the refundable or supplementary tax payable, report to the tax authorities, and make the tax settlement.

In this article, we introduce key issues related to the annual IIT reconciliation in 2024 and the key changes as compared to previous years.

After the end of the year 2023, a resident individual is required to consolidate his/her four types of comprehensive income, namely wages and salaries, remuneration for personal services, author’s remuneration, and royalties obtained from January 1 to December 31, 2023, to compute the final tax payable amount. The taxpayer needs to deduct the prepaid tax amount in 2023 to obtain the tax refundable or the tax to be made up amount. Further, the taxpayer is required to declare to tax authorities for a tax refund or tax to be made up.

Tax Refundable or Tax to Be Made Up = [(Annual Comprehensive Income – RMB 60,000- Special Deductions – Special Additional Deductions – Other Deductions Determined Pursuant to the Law – Qualified Public Welfare And Charitable Donations) × Applicable Tax Rate – Quick Deduction] – Prepaid Tax Amount

This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at china@dezshira.com.

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The Year of the Dragon brings record-breaking travel and consumption during the 2024 Chinese Spring Festival

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The Chinese New Year holiday saw a remarkable recovery in the tourist industry, with travel numbers and revenues exceeding 2023 and pre-pandemic levels. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism reported unprecedented growth, showcasing the industry’s resilience despite the COVID-19 pandemic.


The tourist industry registered significant growth during this year’s Chinese New Year (CNY) holidays, the first to be completely unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the latest figure released by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, both travel numbers and tourism-related revenues reached unprecedented levels, surpassing figures registered during the 2023 Chinese New Year while also surpassing pre-COVID-19 levels.

Rebound in domestic and international travels

According to the data released by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism on Sunday, domestic tourism registered a remarkable performance during this year’s eight-day celebration.

The data reveals a significant surge in domestic trips, totaling 474 million trips made across the country from February 10 to February 18, marking a notable increase of 34.4 percent compared to the same period in 2023. This figure attracted special attention as it was a 19 percent rise compared with that in 2019.

The surge in travel within the country was facilitated by traditional transportation models, such as railways, civil aircraft, and waterways. Additionally, this year there has been also an increase in travelers embarking on independent road trips, partially due to the current rise in popularity of electric cars in China. This trend was further encouraged by the government’s efforts to stimulate the purchase of these vehicles as a way to boost domestic consumption. To cater to this trend, provinces ensured the temporary deployment of additional recharging stations in service areas, ensuring a seamless travel experience for travelers.

This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at china@dezshira.com.

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