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Criminal Trials Feature in Beijing Power Struggle

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Two criminal trials in China – one in open court in Changchun, the capital of Jilin province, nearly 1,000 km from Beijing, and the other under wraps in Shanghai – appear to be tools in President Xi Jinping’s power struggle against his rivals to ensure he gets a third term this autumn.

The first concerns former Public Security Vice Minister Sun Lijun (above), who pleaded guilty to accepting bribes, manipulating the Chinese securities market, and illegal possession of firearms at the Intermediate People’s Court in Changchun, Jilin on July 8, according to Chinese state media. Sun, who was formerly the most senior Chinese police official overseeing Hong Kong, was charged with accepting bribes totaling RMB646 million (US$96.3 million) and illegally possessing two guns. State prosecutors said that in 2018, Sun manipulated stocks by instructing allies to trade shares, which is a serious offense. Sun was tried in an open court, reported Chinese state media.

By contrast, Canadian officials were barred from attending the Shanghai trial of former billionaire Xiao Jianhua, who was born in China and holds Canadian citizenship and became connected to some of the most powerful people in the country before his downfall, according to media reports. The tycoon’s trial began on July 4, according to the Canadian embassy in Beijing. Till now, there has been virtually no mention of Xiao’s court hearing in Chinese state media.

By trying Xiao now, it clears the way for Xi’s election to a third term, Andre Wheeler, chief executive officer of Asia Pacific Connex, an Australian consulting firm, told Asia Sentinel.

“It is eliminating any integrity questions that may cloud the reputation of Xi. After all, Xi and his acolytes can point to a Chinese court that has found Xiao, and by association others in this network, guilty,” Wheeler said.

Sun’s trial in open court is “sending a clear message to political enemies (of Xi) that the Chinese government has information and will use it if any more political adversaries step out of line,” an investigator told Asia Sentinel.

To fulfill his “extremely bloated political ambition,” Sun was said to have groomed rebels within the Chinese Communist Party and seriously undermined the unity of the party, according to the anti-corruption agencies, the Central Commission of Discipline Inspection and National Supervisory Commission, Asia Sentinel reported on October 2, 2021.

Xi is expected to seek a third term at the 20th party congress in October or November. If he succeeds, it will break the two-term limit on Chinese presidents laid down by the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. The Shanghai Faction, also called the Shanghai Gang, led by former Chinese President Jiang Zemin and his former Vice President Zeng Qinghong as well as princelings (descendants of first-generation Chinese Communist leaders) oppose Xi’s bid for an extra term, reported Asia Sentinel on January 27.

There is a fairly high chance of a struggle within the corridors of power in Beijing in the next three months, a risk consultant told Asia Sentinel.

“Xi’s enemies have to go for a desperate high-stakes power struggle in the next three months. They are running out of time,” said the risk consultant, who declined to be named.

A China observer told Asia Sentinel, “Sun’s is a more clear-cut case of defiance against Xi’s supposed absolute hold on power, what with Sun’s attempt to build and maintain an independent clique within the Ministry of Public Security, with at least tacit backing of the Jiang faction. So of the two cases, Sun’s is being publicly conducted and made into an open warning to the Jiang faction ahead of the 20th party congress to not make any untoward move that would upset Xi’s continuance in power thereafter.”

Xiao’s case is more complicated, as it involved fund transfers and proxy holding of assets on behalf of prominent families including that of Xi himself, said the China observer who declined to be named. “So a public trial would risk inadvertent disclosure of detail that could be embarrassing to any or all sides.”

Wheeler said, “Essentially when a trial is held behind closed doors in China, it indicates there is information that needs to be suppressed in order for the party to save face. The other important element is that Xiao is a Canadian citizen, so a public hearing would give him access to Canadian consular and legal assistance that would make it more likely that any embarrassing information would make it into the public arena.”

On June 5, 2014, the New York Times published a statement by Xiao’s company Tomorrow Group, which admitted Kanghai Tianda, a company co-founded by Xiao, paid US$2.4 million in January 2013 to buy a 50 percent stake held by Xi’s sister and brother-in-law in CCB International Yuanwei Fund Management, a joint venture with China Construction Bank, a Chinese state-owned bank.

The Tomorrow Group said there was nothing unusual about the deal. Xi’s relatives ”voluntarily quit their legitimately operating business, bringing them a huge loss. Thus the family didn’t make any extra profits on their family clout,” said the Tomorrow Group’s statement.

Xi’s sister and brother-in-law divested their stake in the joint venture in January 2013, around the time when Xi, who was then newly appointed president, began his anti-corruption campaign which has netted over 100 “tigers” (senior officials).

A financial crocodile

On January 28, 2017, Xiao was abducted by Chinese agents from the Four Seasons hotel in Hong Kong to mainland China, which his female bodyguards failed to prevent. He was held for five and a half years before going to trial because authorities were milking information from him, such as who he was laundering money for, said the risk consultant. Xiao’s personal wealth is estimated at US$5 billion, but he was laundering 10 to 20 times more than that, estimated the risk consultant. “He was creating a systemic risk that was creating a financial contagion risk. He was playing with Chinese people’s money in banks, by putting their money in investment vehicles with high potential of losing money.”

In China, Xiao is known as “a big crocodile”, a nickname for a very wealthy person who is capable of wreaking havoc on the country’s financial system through dubious dealings.

“They are going after the network of people he was laundering money for. Many corrupt politicians he was laundering money for are sweating because he definitely gave information on them to the authorities,” the risk consultant explained.

If Xiao refused to divulge information to the Chinese authorities, he was likely to face execution, the risk consultant said. Some former senior Chinese officials and possibly some current senior Chinese officials will be implicated by Xiao’s testimony, the risk consultant predicted.

“It takes years to unravel a fraud of such magnitude and clearly Xiao had many co-conspirators and corrupt officials who allowed a fraud of this size to happen,” said the investigator who declined to be named. “Xiao corrupted many government officials and was able to defraud approximately $55 billion through a succession of banks with the assistance of corrupt officials. The magnitude of Xiao’s fraud and corruption was capable of bringing down China’s economic system due to its sheer size of the fraud.”

There remain tens of billions of dollars missing from Xiao’s business empire, with much of it parked in Canada, the investigator disclosed. This is one of the reasons Beijing is unhappy with Canada in addition to the detention of Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei, a leading Chinese technology firm, in Canada from December 2018 to September 2021, he added.

China still wants to recover billions of dollars from Xiao’s businesses and with such a large network involved, Beijing will not want to expose too much that would allow other co-conspirators to destroy evidence or hide unlawfully obtained funds, the investigator explained.


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Police discover explosives near south Colorado Springs home

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Nov. 25—A south Colorado Springs home was reportedly damaged by a shotgun blast and explosive devices were found nearby on Thursday, according to Colorado Springs police.

Around 5:45 p.m., police responded to a residence in the 1100 block of Norwood Avenue, just east of the South Nevada Avenue and Lake Avenue intersection, for a reported damage call, police said. The siding and a windowpane at the rear of the house appeared to be damaged from a shotgun blast.

Police reportedly also found “remnants” of an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and another unexploded IED on scene.

Police said the Regional Explosives Unit responded and “rendered the unexploded device safe.” Police did not indicate that any arrests have been made, and said the incident is an ongoing investigation.


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Medford man facing charges for assault and battery with a weapon for incident at South Station

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A Medford man is facing charges for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon at South Station.

According to MBTA police, officers responded to a call on Friday morning for a report of an assault in progress.

When officers arrived to the scene, they located a male who had sustained a slashes to his face.

Witnesses at South Station pointed out another male, later identified as Hocine Lounici, 38, of Medford as the attacker.

Witnesses say they saw a verbal dispute between the two men when suddenly Lounici began to attack the victim with some instrument.

Officers stopped Lounici and determined he was responsible for the victim’s injuries.

Lounici was placed into custody and transported Transit Police.

The victim was transported to a local area hospital for a non life threatening injury to his face.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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Readers sound off on Jewish lineage, Iranian protesters and leafy litter – New York Daily News

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Cedarhurst, L.I.: In your latest piece of half-truths and drivel, you state that Matthew Mahrer is a Jew, the grandson on his father’s side of a man who is a Holocaust survivor. Had you taken the time to Google what defines one’s Jewish lineage, it would have informed you that Judaism is passed through the mother-to-child process. Unless his mother and her mother before her were Jewish, Mahrer definitely is not.

Matthew Mahrer

The saddest and most damaging message of all, one that now serves the evil ideology we call modern-day justice and democracy, the one that has elevated those who excuse and explain away every kind of crime under the heading that these criminals are mentally ill and should be coddled and cared for in spite of their criminal actions. Their victims suffer yet again as blind Lady Justice lets their tormentors go free and clear.

We have fallen so low as a nation and as a people who once exemplified to the world the beauty and honor of the American way of life. It is difficult to even relate how far we have fallen. I recall The News once being a great newspaper and imparter of unbiased reporting — honest and truthful conveyors of news. Today, sadly, you have become a large part of what ails us as opposed to being a vehicle for bringing us the truth — instead of unbiased and unembellished purveyors of the truth serving to heal and bring us together. Rachel Bluth

Manhattan: I opened my edition of the Thanksgiving paper thinking that at last, we’ll have some good news. Page 2 did have photos of the Macy’s Thanksgiving balloons, but all the rest of the paper (except for the cartoons and sports) had the usual parade of violent attacks and murders. Yes, I realize that is part of the news, but at least on Thanksgiving, couldn’t you find positive stories about good people? And cute children and animals? We do need some good news and the Thanksgiving edition would have been the perfect one to feature positive stories. Suzanna Deutsch

Princeton, N.J.: Crime in New York City is out of control. Businesses are leaving, brazen shoplifting is common, people are being pushed onto subway tracks and, most importantly, the murder rate is frightening. Charles Winfield

Brooklyn: I think crime is the worst problem we have right now in NYC. It is the reason my friends and I have seriously cut back on our trips into Manhattan to see Broadway shows, visit museums and do other activities. But the crime issue is not only guns. As we’ve seen, knives and being pushed or punched can also be disastrous. Much of this is due to anger and mental illness, which must be dealt with. And that again brings up the question: What happened to the nearly $1 billion of ThriveNYC money intended for this purpose? Louise Veneroni

Newton, N.J.: Kyrie Irving has a constitutional right to freedom of speech, distasteful as it may be. He also has a constitutional right to act like a total jerk if he wants. However, Irving does not have a constitutional right to play in the NBA, and I challenge his apologists to demonstrate otherwise. By the way, I’m not Jewish. Michael Schnackenberg

Southport, Conn.: In 2018, Kyrie Irving said, “The Earth is flat.” He was not joking. Since my 5-year-old and 3-year-old sons both know that Kyrie is wrong about the shape of the Earth, why would we listen, let alone care, about his thoughts on the Jewish people? My family is Jewish, and if Kyrie thinks that Jews cause all of the problems on his flat planet, that is his right. And if he also believes that the moon landing was faked, the Holocaust never took place, Bigfoot is real and King Charles is a vampire, Kyrie is entitled to his uneducated opinions. Andrew Ginsburg

The Daily News Flash

The Daily News Flash

Weekdays

Catch up on the day’s top five stories every weekday afternoon.

Washington: On Tuesday, the Iranian team will play against the United States in the World Cup. This is the time to show solidarity with the Iranian protesters, as the American soccer players can afford to express their position freely, unlike the Iranian team. Some people may say that sports should not be politicized. Yet, this would be showing empathy and comradeship. It would put into practice the values that sports teach. Athletes in the U.S. have been kneeling in several matches. It would not make sense that during a match with Iran, the same athletes would not stand for human rights, in support of the people of a country that are dying for freedom. The U.S. team should find the confidence and courage to show that the people in the West are not indifferent. Anna Mahjar-Barducci

Rosedale: Re Mike Lupica’s “Zach it up!” (column, Nov. 20): There is a team from this country with a real chance of having the whole country get behind it. It’s the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, the current reigning, two-time World Cup champions. Wouldn’t it have been great if Lupica had spoken about us getting behind this team the way Brazil, England, Argentina, etc. do for their teams? Shirley Jordan

Elizabeth, N.J.: Somehow I do not see the compatibility of Hamas, Taliban and Whoopi Goldberg. Somehow the name Goldberg does not fit with an uncertainty about whether or not the Taliban and Hamas are terrorist groups. These yentas on “The View” need to be better educated before they comment on either the Holocaust or the survival of Israel. Let them visit Yad Vashem in Israel and Auschwitz, Treblinka and Majdanek in Europe. Joel M. Glazer

Manhattan: In a week of many outrages, Mayor Adams added to the list. He appointed a retired female dispatcher with whom he lived for a while to be in charge of police morale and mental health for a salary of about $250,000 a year with benefits galore. The words “corruption” and “incompetence” came to mind. The words “in the public interest” do not. This appointment should be challenged. Frankie Turchiano

Brooklyn: Former President Donald Trump, also known as a genius, announced his candidacy. He’s the right guy for the right job to bring economic and social change, as the criminals will be shuttled to jail for decades for their crimes. We will not be comfortable if he’s not elected. I can’t think of a more suitable guy to be the leader of our Free World. Raquel Hanon

Bellerose: I have heard from a number of people that our fellow residents in New York are somewhat rude. Well, I disagree. We have been through a lot because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us have lost loved ones and been sick ourselves. Our doctors, nurses, EMS workers, police, firefighters and the rest of our first responders helped us get through this and still do and need our praises. In my opinion, we are not grinches — many of us have tried to help our neighbors in need. I have lived in New York most of my 73 years and have tried to help others. As we approach the holiday season, let’s offer a friendly smile and a hello to all we meet. Our lives can only be defined by what we share with others who are in need of acts of kindness. Frederick R. Bedell Jr.

Maspeth: Our block had the tree-trimming group (seven people) come through. Even equipped with a leaf blower, brooms, etc., they left a horrendous mess in their wake. I asked the supervisor (a guy who sat around with a clipboard) if they were going to clean up the assorted branches that were strewn across the street and sidewalk. He said, “I’ll ask them.” Excuse me! Isn’t that part of their job, especially if they make the mess? Needless to say, nothing was done about it. Nice to know these people are earning their exorbitant pay with the least amount of effort. What a racket! Veronica Kwiecinski


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