8 October 2016

Chinese rank US as 'top threat': survey

by Staff Writers
Oct 5, 2016

Turkey suspends over 500 military staff over coup bid

Istanbul (AFP) Oct 5, 2016 - Turkey has suspended more than 500 military personnel, mostly officers, from the air force and navy for suspected ties to the US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen who is blamed for the botched coup, local media reported on Wednesday.

Tens of thousands of people have already been arrested or lost their jobs in the relentless crackdown under the state of emergency declared in the wake of the July 15 attempted coup.

A total of 113 personnel from the navy, and 427 from the air force have been temporarily suspended as part of an investigation into the group led by Gulen, Defence Minister Fikri Isik was quoted as saying by the Dogan news agency.

He said 368 of the suspended personnel were officers.

In total, 3,699 military personnel have been dismissed from the Turkish armed forces in the wake of the coup, the minister added. Half Turkey's contingent of generals from before the coup have either been arrested or dismissed.

The announcement comes a day after Turkey suspended 12,801 police officers from duty -- 2,523 of them police chiefs.

Turkish officials say a suspension is a "precautionary measure" intended to stop suspects from interfering with the official investigation, adding that suspended personnel receive two thirds of their salary.

Turkey has launched a vast crackdown on plotters of the attempt to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from power.

Some 32,000 suspects had been remanded in custody so far, according to government figures.

Turkey accuses Gulen of orchestrating the July 15 coup plot at the helm of a group Ankara calls Fethullah Terror Organisation (FETO).

Gulen and his supporters deny the claims, saying he merely runs a peaceful organisation called Hizmet (Service).

Chinese people believe the United States is the "top threat" facing their country, a poll showed Wednesday, with most suspecting the world's number one economy of trying to "prevent China from becoming an equal power".

A survey by the Washington-based Pew Research Center revealed 45 percent of Chinese consider US power and influence to be a "major threat" -- more than economic instability (35 percent), climate change (34 percent) and the Islamic State (15 percent).

However, half of the 3,154 respondents in the survey had a "favourable opinion" of the US -- including 60 percent of those aged between 18 and 34.

The news comes as Beijing and Washington are at loggerheads over China's territorial claims in the South China Sea, with the US urging China to adhere to the rule of law and Beijing accusing its ally of interference.

The vast majority of Chinese (75 percent) believe their own country plays "a more important role in world affairs" than a decade ago, compared with only 21 percent of Americans, 23 percent of Europeans and 68 percent of Indians.

However, this confidence in China's international stature contrasts with a growing sense of unease among many, the survey showed, with about three-quarters of respondents saying their "way of life needs to be protected against foreign influence" -- up from 64 percent in 2002.

Despite China's increasing diplomatic influence, 56 percent of Chinese said they wanted their leaders to focus on the country's own challenges, such as official corruption, which most said was a problem.

Growing inequality is also a concern, with 37 percent describing the gap between rich and poor as a "very big problem".

Other worries include: food safety (74 percent), the country's choking air pollution (70 percent) and rising prices (74 percent), as many Chinese struggle to get a foothold in the real estate market.

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