Wednesday, October 31, 2018

BC Human Rights Tribunal fines Spruce Hill resort owner $173K for racial discrimination

BC Human Rights Tribunal fines Spruce Hill resort owner $173K for racial discrimination

(Source: Spruce Hill Resort and Spa/Facebook)
100 MILE HOUSE (NEWS1130) — The owner of a resort in the Cariboo has been heavily fined for discriminating against six former employees because they’re not Chinese.
The BC Human Rights Tribunal has ordered Kin Wa Chan to collectively pay them more than $173,000.
They all quit or were dismissed from the Spruce Hill Resort and Spa within days of each other in August of 2016 and they all identify as Caucasian.
Witnesses testified he repeatedly said “too many white people” worked at the resort, “Chinese workers do not have to be paid holiday pay or overtime” and “Chinese workers are better and cheaper than white workers.”
Chan, who assumed full ownership of the resort near 100 Mile House in 2015, doesn’t dispute he often replaced workers with people of Chinese descent.
One of the three main complainants, Melonie Eva, says she was sexually harassed by Chan during a business trip to China in April of 2016 when he booked a single hotel room for both of them to share.
The former manager of the resort acknowledges he never touched her and agreed to book a second room after she told him she’s married and threatened to immediately return to Canada.
Eva’s been awarded more than $42,000 for lost wages and compensation for “injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect.”
The full decision can be found on the BCHRT website.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

FIGHTING TALK China’s military ordered to ‘concentrate preparations for fighting a war’ as tensions with West grow


China’s military ordered to ‘concentrate preparations for fighting a war’ as tensions with West grow

President Xi Jinping told generals to 'strengthen the mission … and concentrate preparations for fighting a war'
CHINA's President Xi Jinping has told his military commanders to “concentrate preparations for fighting a war” as Beijing ramps up fighting talk with the West.
The communist ruler's instructions come amid rising tensions over the future of the South China Sea and Taiwan and weeks after a Chinese warship tried to ram a US Navy destroyer.
 President Xi Jinping has told generals to 'prepare for war' in the South China Sea
President Xi Jinping has told generals to 'prepare for war' in the South China Sea
China Central Television presented a speech from President Xi - who has claimed the position in perpetuity - when he met troops and generals on a tour of Guangzhou province.
He told officers of the Southern Theatre Command: “It’s necessary to strengthen the mission … and concentrate preparations for fighting a war.
“We need to take all complex situations into consideration and make emergency plans accordingly.”
He also reportedly said the regional command was having to bear a “heavy military responsibility” as it was responsible for operations in the disputed South China Sea.
 Chinese warships and aircraft take part in exercises in the South China Sea in April
Chinese warships and aircraft take part in exercises in the South China Sea in April
US Navy accuses Beijing of trying to militarise the South China Sea
China has claimed sovereignty over the strategic waterway, a major shipping route, and built artificial islands bristling with military hardware including missile silos and fighter jet bases.
President Xi also “underlined the importance of preparing for war and combat”, state-run press agency Xinhua reported.
It said he had “stressed the need to focus on combat research and commanding ... to comprehensively boost the military’s battle-winning ability.”
The president also obliquely instructed his military to ramp up opposition to "freedom of navigation" exercises being undertaken by the US, Australia, France, the UK, Japan and others through the South China Sea.
His comments represent a significant ramping-up of the rhetoric being exchanged between Beijing and Washington.
 President Xi meeting officers of the Southern Theatre Command of the People's Liberation Army last week
President Xi meeting officers of the Southern Theatre Command of the People's Liberation Army last week
 China has built up military bases on artificial islands such as Woody Island in the disputed Paracel Archipelago
China has built up military bases on artificial islands such as Woody Island in the disputed Paracel Archipelago
China has been angered by US sanctions on its military for buying weapons from Russia, and by what Beijing sees as renewed Washington support for democratic Taiwan.
Earlier this month, US Vice-President Mike Pence stoked tensions further, saying: “Using that stolen technology, the Chinese Communist Party is turning ploughshares into swords on a massive scale.”
And last week defence minister Wei Feng said Beijing would never give up “one single piece” of its territory, reports the South China Morning Post.
He also warned that “repeated challenges” to China’s sovereignty over Taiwan - which has seen mass protests calling for full independence - would lead to military action “at any cost”.
 Xi Jinping reviewing a naval parade in the South China Sea, which the country claims as its own in the face of international condemnation
Xi Jinping reviewing a naval parade in the South China Sea, which the country claims as its own in the face of international condemnation
 A Chinese H-6K bomber patrols the islands and reefs in the South China Sea in May
A Chinese H-6K bomber patrols the islands and reefs in the South China Sea in May
Military analyst Collin Koh, a research fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said the president's comments were “likely intended as a signal to the US in particular and any parties that Beijing perceives to be causing provocation.”
He also predicted further clashes to come in the South China Sea.
Earlier this month a Chinese destroyer almost rammed the USS Decatur, forcing its crew to take evasive action, in an effort to force it to leave the disputed waters.
Shortly after the near-miss, the Chinese defence ministry criticised the US for “gravely threatening China’s sovereignty and security, severely damaging relations between the two militaries and significantly undermining regional peace and stability”.
 US Navy destroyer USS Decatur had to take evasive action when a Chinese warship tried to ram it in October
US Navy destroyer USS Decatur had to take evasive action when a Chinese warship tried to ram it in October
The UN considers much of the South China Sea to be international waters, and refused to recognise that Beijing’s artificial island fortresses give it any legitimate claim to the region.
Beijing, however, continues to stick by its claim — despite it being rejected by an international court — that it has historical dominance over the sea between Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.
US Secretary of Defence James Mattis cancelled his trip to Beijing in response to rising tensions.
Last month, the Chinese government revoked permission for a US warship to visit Hong Kong and recalled its leading naval official from Washington.
China’s military power has dramatically increased in recent years. It now has more warships and submarines than the United States.
China has brought into service new stealth fighters and long-range missile-carrying bombers. Its warships are also now equipped with advanced radar and control systems.
Most significantly, however, has been Beijing’s leapfrog ahead of the West in the arena of hypersonic weapons.
It has demonstrated the capabilities of its ballistic guide vehicles and electromagnetic-rail guns, both of which have the capacity to overwhelm existing defensive systems.

Myth busting Chinese investment: Australia can say ‘no’

Myth busting Chinese investment: Australia can say ‘no’

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg must soon decide to accept or reject a $13 billion acquisition of the Australian energy infrastructure business, APA Group by the Hong Kong company, CKI.
Decisions don’t get much more important. The outcome will show if the government puts national security priorities ahead of a seemingly limitless thirst for Chinese investment into critical infrastructure.
This is the 2018 reality of what Tony Abbott summed up so clearly in 2015: Australia’s China policy is driven by the conflicting emotions of greed and fear. It needn’t be this way. Morrison’s task should be to define and explain Australia’s strategic interests. A key question should be to ask: ‘how much Chinese foreign investment in critical infrastructure is too much for Australia’s interests?’
Here’s the answer: If CKI’s acquisition of the APA Group goes ahead, then between CKI and State Grid, a Chinese state-owned entity which owns and controls smaller subsidiaries in Australia, Chinese companies will control 100% of electricity transmission and distribution assets in Victoria, South Australia and the ACT, as well as ownership of 100% of gas transmission and distribution assets in NSW and the ACT, 99% in Victoria, 86% in South Australia and 78% in Queensland. Ownership will also include 74% of gas transmission pipelines in the Northern Territory and 65% in Western Australia.
It takes a special type of genius to conclude that the domination of Australia’s gas and electricity infrastructure by companies owned or subject to the political control of the Chinese Communist Party is fine from a national security perspective.
Few countries in the world – certainly not the People’s Republic of China – are so accepting of foreign investment that they lose control of vital critical infrastructure. How did Australia’s policy makers allow this to happen? A future Royal Commission should ask that question. The truth will surely be like Kenneth Hayne’s assessment in the banking misconduct inquiry: ‘Too often, the answer seems to be greed.’
The good news is that Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg have an opportunity to prevent the take over of APA Group. That moment will come when Treasury’s Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) makes its recommendation to Government on what to do.
At that point, if not before, the Prime Minister should decisively block the takeover as not being in the national interest. While this is a big decision it shouldn’t be a difficult one. No government needs to apologise for taking a firm stand on security. A decision to limit further People’s Republic of China investment in critical infrastructure will be welcomed by the community and our friends and allies.
That said, supporters of the deal are busy making the case why the government should agree CKI’s takeover and why disaster will ensue if the deal is nixed. Here are seven specious reasons I’ve seen deployed in favour of the takeover and the counter arguments.

1: The FIRB protects Australia’s national security
The recently appointed and highly capable Treasury Secretary, Philip Gaetjens told a ‘Chinese investment and Australia’ forum, earlier this month:
‘that the vast majority of [foreign investment] applications are approved, or approved with conditions indicates there are very few proposed investments that pose national interest concerns unable to be mitigated.’
I beg to differ.  Here’s the data from the FIRB’s annual reports: Over the ten financial years from 2007-08 to 2016-17 the FIRB made 169,178 foreign investment approvals and only four refusals (that’s right, four refusals) of business investments. (Two rejections on the foreign sale of Ausgrid; one each on Graincorp and the ASX.)
That’s not a record of a system adequately protecting national security. It shows foreign investment is prioritised at all costs. This goes against substantial moves in the United States, UK and elsewhere to strengthen their formal controls over foreign investment in critical infrastructure. A new Critical Infrastructure Centre in the Department of Home Affairs now has the chance to prove that it can shape sensible natural security decisions.
We should be concerned by Gaetjens’ concept of conditions that mitigate ‘national interest concerns.’ The Government correctly identifies espionage, sabotage and coercion as risks to our infrastructure.  FIRB adopts a formulaic approach to mitigating these risks through behavioral undertakings and restrictions on the level of foreign ownership.
These mitigation strategies just allow investments to occur within ‘acceptable levels’ of risk but the only definitive way to deal with these risks is to make the tough calls as to who can and can’t own the assets.  Legal restrictions on how data is used and stored and who has access to operating systems won’t be all that effective in a national security crisis or stop a hostile intelligence service – the damage will have been done by then.

2: Chinese capital is no different from any other.
Here’s FIRB Chair, David Irvine, talking to an ‘Investors’ Forum’ last August:
‘A key strength of Australia’s investment regime is that it is non-discriminatory – applications are treated in the same manner regardless of the nationality of the applicant.’
This might have been true during the years of the PRC’s so-called peaceful rise, but it is simply wrong to maintain in 2018 that China is just like any other country. China is re-emerging as a powerful authoritarian regime and is attacking Australia hourly through industrial-scale cyber spying. The PRC aims to supplant the US as the lead security provider in the Asia-Pacific and is working as hard as it can to weaken America’s friends and allies.
Chinese and Hong Kong businesses have no option other than to cooperate with the Communist Party and its intelligence services, particularly in achieving Xi Jinping’s international ‘belt and road’ objectives to harness global infrastructure to Beijing’s benefit.
China is not like Canada, Columbia or Costa Rica. Our government knows this but struggles to find the language to describe what we can do to mitigate the threat, particularly as we have allowed ourselves to become so economically dependent on a country that has fundamentally different strategic objectives.

3: Hong Kong is separate to China so CKI’s investment is acceptable.
CKI’s management deny the company is influenced by mainland China and point to a record of 20 years of operations in Australia. Twenty years is also the period that Hong Kong has been back under the control of the PRC. True, Hong Kong has a separate legal system, but it’s undeniable that Communist China is squeezing the independent political life out of the former British colony.
No large, internationally focused Hong Kong business is immune from having to acknowledge the primacy of the Party or can close the door to its intelligence services. In fact, Hong Kong business success requires the closest possible alignment to the Party.
The chairman of CKI, Victor Li, son of billionaire founder Li Ka-shing, is a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference of the PRC. This is an organisation designed precisely to bring senior business leaders and others into the Party’s orbit.
Li the elder was asked in March about the constitutional amendment removing the two-term limit on the Chinese presidency. He is quoted in the Hong Kong Standard saying, ‘If I have a vote to get Chairman Xi re-elected, I will vote for him.’
Whatever the situation two decades ago, Hong Kong’s political separation from the mainland is rapidly fading. How does CKI get out from under the Party’s influence? Go abroad if possible. This helps to explain why CKI’s bid for APA is $11 dollars a share, well above APA stock market price of $9.80 at market close last Thursday.

4: It’s too late to stop Chinese control of critical infrastructure so we should allow the sale.
Its true that some shockingly bad decisions were made in the past to allow PRC investment into critical infrastructure. The (almost inevitable) future Royal Commission will dig into that. Right now, the Government is in a position at least to stop further predations of our critical infrastructure ownership.
There is no time like the present to start making the right decisions for Australia’s national security based on what we know now about the PRC’s strategic directions and how these damage Australia’s interests.

5: There is no intelligence value to China in owning gas or electricity infrastructure.
This was not Scott Morrison’s view in August 2016 when, as Treasurer, he stopped State Grid and CKI bids to take over Ausgrid – the electricity ‘polls and wires’ in NSW. Nor was it Morrison’s view when he announced in February this year that a ‘key national security safeguard is the diversity of ownership’ of critical infrastructure.
Although Morrison limited his comments to electricity, the reality is that gas is already important to the secure supply of electricity through gas-fired generation supporting intermittent renewable electricity generation. This interconnection between power sources will only grow.
Chinese intelligence services are working hard to deploy malware into the critical infrastructure of potential opponents, creating options to harm an enemy during conflict. The same intelligence services gathering big data about the design, operation and users of critical infrastructure. The espionage and sabotage threat to critical infrastructure is growing because of the dominant role played today by cyber technology to run these systems.
True, you don’t have to own and control infrastructure to do cyber damage – but it helps enormously if intelligence agencies can use trusted insiders to facilitate their spying.
Opposing Chinese investment is just xenophobic, threat mongering.
Charges of xenophobia are quickly deployed in this debate primarily to shut national security advocates up. This is a tactic deployed by the PRC’s army of supporters. Its not xenophobic to want Australia to be secure. Opposing the CKI takeover has nothing to do with the Chinese people and everything to do with the nature of the Chinese Communist Party and their repressive intelligence and security apparatus. This is a crucially important distinction.
China will punish Australia if we reject the takeover.
Australian politicians and public servants have done a thorough job talking themselves into immobility from fear of Chinese economic retaliation if we audaciously promote national security over ties with Beijing.
But Australia can learn to say ‘no’ to too much Chinese influence, as many other countries – Malaysia for example – are now doing. China will respect an Australia that protects its national security. Alternatively, Beijing will push for every concession we make, and keep looking for more if we are silly enough to give ground on our critical infrastructure.
No one would be more surprised than the Communist Party’s Politburo if Canberra agrees to the APA sale to CKI. Now we need some spine to protect our people and national interests.