Chinese Drills to become a new normal until Reunification

Revelations 6:3-4 “when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • New Chinese Drills Spark Fears Of Prolonged Squeeze On Taiwan
  • The Pentagon warns that China’s military actions are trying to intimidate Taiwan and the West and create a “new normal.”
  • “Drills like these will not stop and are expected to become routine until reunification, as the Chinese mainland shows its determination to push forward the reunification process after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s provocative visit to the island last week that seriously violated China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” China’s Global Times stated Monday, citing “experts.” The outlet is directly tied to the Chinese Communist Party.
  • China’s Eastern Theatre Command said it would conduct joint drills focusing on anti-submarine and sea assault operations Reuters reported Monday.

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Thirty years after it fell, the Berlin Wall still divides Germans

Thirty years after it fell, the Berlin Wall still divides Germans
By Paul Carrel

LEIPZIG, Germany (Reuters) – When Matthias Rudolph joined political protests in Leipzig in 1989, he wanted to change the Communist German Democratic Republic. Thirty years on, he enjoys the freedoms the fall of the Berlin Wall brought, but is not entirely happy either.

Like many Germans in the former East, Rudolph, 55, laments the way reunification unfolded – “there wasn’t a new start” – and describes a divided society today that he believes drives some disaffected easterners toward political extremism.

“I didn’t want to do away with the GDR but rather to reform it,” said Rudolph, who was spied on by a colleague and detained for protesting as East Germany limped into its final months. “Personally, I wanted a different GDR, a more democratic GDR.”

The Leipzig protests are widely seen as the beginning of the end of the GDR. Yet, almost 30 years after the Berlin Wall fell on Nov. 9, 1989, a psychological divide remains between east and west: easterners still feel they came off second best.

“There was no reset,” said Rudolph, who complained that reunification was a missed opportunity to remake Germany with a new constitution.

“For west Germans, nothing changed other than post codes. For east Germans, everything changed,” the energy company employee added.

For west Berlin resident Angelika Bondick, 63, whose flat looks over the former Bernauer Strasse checkpoint, the fall of the Wall brought more tourists but no major upheaval. In GDR times, she regularly visited family in the East anyway.

If the dismantling of the Wall signaled the end of the Cold War, it also opened up new routes to walk her dog.

“It’s nice that we can walk in whichever direction we want now,” she told Reuters from her balcony.

The East has endured far more upheaval.

Late chancellor Helmut Kohl, the architect of reunification, promised east Germans “flourishing landscapes” in 1990 but the “Aufschwung Ost” – or eastern economic recovery – proved far slower and more painful than he had imagined.

Two million people, especially young people and women, have left the region since reunification in 1990 and few big global firms have moved in.

After cash injections of 2 trillion euros ($2 trillion) over three decades, the East’s economic output per capita is still three quarters of western German levels. Productivity is lower, and unemployment 2 percentage points higher than in the west.

A government report on the state of German unity last month cited a survey showing 57% of east Germans felt like second-class citizens. Only 38% in the East saw reunification as a success, including only 20% of people younger than 40.

Rudolph said he does not feel like a second class citizen.

“But it is also true that you always have to explain yourself. That’s not nice either,” he said. “I thought that would be over in a few years, but it wasn’t.”

Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk, a historian and author of ‘The Takeover – how East Germany became part of the Federal Republic’, said the economic shock of reunification disrupted the whole social fabric of eastern Germany.

“There was not a unification process on a level playing field but rather an alignment process … what existed in the west was practiced in the east one-to-one,” he said, adding that some easterners now felt they were not “full value citizens”.

“Since 1990, many east Germans have been trying to be more German than the federal Germans ever were – and that results in an open nationalism and racism,” Kowalczuk added.


Easterners’ sense of inferiority provides fertile ground for extreme parties. In the eastern state of Thuringia, which holds a regional election on Sunday, polls show a majority of voters support the far-right AfD and the far-left Linke.

In Thuringia and two other eastern states that held elections last month, the AfD has co-opted slogans that were used during the 1989 protests that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall, including “Wir sind das Volk!” (We are the people!).

The AfD, which is far stronger in the east than the west, is urging voters: “The East rises – complete the change!”

Adopting the word “Wende”, used to describe the fall of East German Communism, the AfD calls for “Wende 2.0” – effectively urging voters to do away with the established parties in a “drain the swamp”-style pitch.

Christian Hirte, the government’s commissioner for the eastern states, says: “It is my firm conviction that the overwhelming majority of eastern Germans do not want anything to do with far-right crackpots who are violent.”

But he acknowledges that xenophobia is an issue damaging to eastern Germany’s attractiveness as a business location.

“We have to tell citizens clearly: it is in our own national and regional interests to be open,” he said.

The message has not got through to everyone.

A report by the ZEW institute earlier this year showed the probability of an asylum seeker becoming a victim of hate crime in eastern Germany is 10 times greater than in the west.

Images like last year’s far-right riots in Chemnitz – the worst such clashes in Germany in decades – and this month’s attack on a synagogue in Halle by a far-right extremist have reinforced the picture of a disenchanted and radicalized east.

In the latest episode of far-right intimidation, police said this week they were protecting the leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives in Thuringia after he received a death threat that ended “Heil Hitler!”.

That kind of language is anathema to Dagmar Simdorn, 81, who grew up during World War Two and then lived in the GDR, just a few hundred yards from the Berlin Wall. She still notices differences between easterners and westerners.

“But I think young people are doing better,” she said. “It’s easier for them. They are growing up in this time of freedom. They don’t know about East and West. That’s why I believe it’s so important to remind young people how things were then.”

(Additional reporting by Oliver Denzer; Editing by Giles Elgood)

U.S. moving some detained migrant parents closer to their children

FILE PHOTO: Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

By Yeganeh Torbati and Tom Hals

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government is moving some migrant parents to detention sites closer to the young children they were separated from while crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in an attempt to meet a court-imposed deadline to reunify families, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said on Thursday.

U.S. Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego last month ordered the government to stop separating children from immigrant parents entering the United States illegally and set deadlines for the government to reunite families.

The judge’s order followed a political firestorm over U.S. President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy and beefed up efforts to deter illegal U.S. entry.

Sabraw set a deadline for children under 5 years old to be reunited with their parents by July 10, and for all children to be reunited by July 26. He also set a deadline of Friday for parents to be in phone contact with their children.

Azar said that based on a comprehensive audit by HHS and immigration authorities, there were now fewer than 3,000 children in HHS care who may have been separated from parents taken into custody for crossing the border illegally or for other reasons, such as concern over safety of the child.

Of that group, approximately 100 children are under the age of 5, he said.

To speed the reunification process, the Department of Homeland Security is relocating parents of children under 5 years old to detention facilities close to their children “so that we can as expeditiously as possible reunite the children with their parents to meet the court’s deadline,” Azar said.

No children have yet been reunified with parents in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but that will soon happen to meet the court deadline, Azar said.

He added, however, that deadlines imposed by the court will require a “truncated vetting process” and that the government will likely “seek additional time to ensure that we can do the job that we believe is necessary to protect the children in our care.”

Government personnel are currently collecting cheek swab DNA samples from parents and children in order to verify family relationships, said Jonathan White, deputy director for children’s programs at the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the HHS office that takes care of the children.

White described the DNA process as faster than verifying relationships through documents such as birth certificates.

“We have to protect children from people who would prey on them, and that is what we are doing,” he said. “These DNA results are being used solely for that purpose and no other.”

In a reversal last month, after family separations at the border triggered a groundswell of opposition, Trump ordered that detained migrant families be kept together if possible.

In the past, families detained while crossing the U.S.-Mexico border were often released from custody to pursue their immigration cases while living freely in the United States, but the Trump administration has made clear that it intends to end what it derides as “catch and release” immigration policies.

A 1997 court ruling known as the Flores settlement has been interpreted to prevent detention of children for more than 20 days, which is one reason the administration gave for its policy of separating families when it decided to keep parents in custody.

Last month, the administration asked a federal court to modify the agreement so that it could detain children longer. It filed court papers last week saying it believed it had the right, under the current settlement, to hold children longer in order to enable family reunification and prevent future separations.

Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, which filed a lawsuit challenging the family separations, questioned the government’s contention it might need more time to safely reunite families.

“When the government wants to marshal its resources to separate families, it has shown that it can do it quickly and efficiently, but when told to reunite families, it somehow finds it too difficult and cumbersome to accomplish,” he said.

Wendy Young, president of Kids in Need of Defense, said her organization, which provides legal assistance to unaccompanied minors, was unaware of any comprehensive government plan for uniting families.

One test will be if the government can meet Friday’s deadline to get parents in touch with their children by phone, she said.

“If they fail to meet that deadline, I think it calls into serious question whether they will be able to meet the reunification deadlines in the coming weeks,” Young said.

(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati and Tom Hals; Editing by Tom Brown and Sue Horton)