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The Weekly Brief

Just a quick update in case you missed it.

Released on 05.01.2024

S. Korean President stresses military vigilance amid Pyongyang threat

South Korea’s President emphasized the importance of military strength in the face of escalating nuclear threats from Pyongyang, which has declared its intention for “conquering the entire southern territory” – a metaphorical reference for South Korea. In a new year message sent to the South Korean military on Tuesday, its President Yoon Suk Yeol urged it to maintain a strong posture amid the intensifying North Korea threat. “Our military has made every effort to protect the lives and safety of our citizens from North Korea’s relentless provocations and threats, even under challenging conditions,” Yoon said, according to South Korea’s defense ministry.

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A New Campaign Against “Bitter Winter” in China

In a way, I am sorry there is a second version of the Chinese propaganda movie “The ‘Bitter Winter’ of Belief: Sneaking Cults.” When it was originally screened in Brussels to some twenty people last June, and introduced by notorious CCP fellow traveler Roland Delcourt, it had more footage of my favorite character, a “former member of Bitter Winter” (whatever this might mean) who looked like a Russian villain from an old James Bond movie. Instead, a long tirade about the anti-Unification-Church campaign in Japan following the assassination of Shinzo Abe has been included.

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China Urges Taiwan Voters to Stand on “Right Side of History,” Make “Correct Choice” in Upcoming Election

Chinese officials have been ramping up pressure on Taiwanese voters to make the “correct choice” ahead of the self-governing island’s upcoming presidential elections.

In his New Year’s message, Zhang Zhijun, the head of China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, a quasi-official body that overlooks the mainland’s ties with Taiwan, said that the Taiwanese faced an important choice in the election. “The two elections coming up in the Taiwan region are important choices between the prospects for peace and war, prosperity and decline,” said Zhang, who headed Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office from 2013 to 2018.

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US watching Taiwan elections closely as China reiterates claim to island

Last month, Joe Biden and Xi Jinping strolled through the lush gardens of a grand California mansion engaged in a candid, intimate conversation. It was their first face-to-face summit in a year and the Chinese president was blunt – Taiwan, Xi told his US counterpart, was the most important and dangerous issue in the two countries’ fractious relationship. Beijing’s policy towards the self-ruled island it claims as its own will again be under the spotlight when voters in Taiwan go to the polls on January 13 to choose a new president and parliament, and the United States will be watching closely.

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‘Beyond Utopia’: An Intense Journey Into a North Korean Defector’s Struggle

On Monday, January 8, 2024, at 10 p.m., the U.S. Documentary Audience Award-winning film ‘Beyond Utopia’ is making its anticipated debut on Independent Lens, a television series hosted by PBS. This intense and suspenseful documentary, directed by Madeleine Gavin, is an exploration into the dangerous journey of individuals fleeing oppression in North Korea. The film delves into the perilous trials faced by those desperate to escape the clutches of their oppressive homeland. With each scene, it paints a vivid image of the risks and struggles that North Korean defectors endure in their quest for freedom.

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China, CCP to be Guided by ‘Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy, Socialism with Chinese Characteristics’

At the Central Conference on Work Relating to Foreign Affairs in Beijing, which was held on 27-28 December, Chinese President Xi Jinping presented a review of the country’s historic achievements. In his address, Xi spoke of China’s “valuable experience of major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics in the new era.” Meanwhile, Premier Li Qiang, who was presiding over the conference, emphasised the importance of “ensuring sound external work under the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy.”

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Omar Leads Push to Block Over $650 Million in Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia, UAE

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar on Wednesday unveiled a pair of resolutions of disapproval intended to prevent multimillion-dollar arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The Minnesota Democrat's measures would block a $582 million sale to upgrade Saudi Arabia's drone surveillance system and a $85 million sale of radar equipment and rockets to the UAE.The Intercept noted that "the U.S. made high-profile sales to both countries in December, shoring up their offensive capabilities amid the possibility of a regional war and a growing risk of confrontation with Yemen's Houthis."

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