China Briefs: April 17, 2009

By Gisela Sommer
Epoch Times Staff
Created: April 19, 2009 Last Updated: April 21, 2009
Related articles: China » Society
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The 'Pillar of Shame' a statue erected to memorialize the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre on the campus at the Hong Kong University on April 15, 2009.  (Mike Clark/AFP/Getty Images)

The 'Pillar of Shame' a statue erected to memorialize the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre on the campus at the Hong Kong University on April 15, 2009. (Mike Clark/AFP/Getty Images)

Apr 17—Hong Kong students urge China to "rectify" June 4 stance

HONG KONG (Reuters, James Pomfret) -- A poll of Hong Kong students has found China should be held accountable for its military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in and around Beijing's Tiananamen Square in 1989 in which hundreds were killed.

Ahead of the key 20th anniversary of the crackdown on June 4th, the University of Hong Kong held a three-day campus-wide referendum on whether China should "rectify" its verdict that the June 4 protests were counter-revolutionary, and be held accountable for the event it described as a "massacre".

Only 19 percent of the roughly 10,000 undergraduate student body cast votes in the poll that ended on Thursday, but 93 percent of them supported the move, the university's student union said.

The student union called the result a "momentous landmark" after recent signs of indifference and on-campus tensions in Hong Kong between democratic-minded students and conservative elements wanting to tone down the criticism of Beijing, particularly among students from mainland China.

"Twenty years on from Tiananmen, the students of the University of Hong Kong have not forgotten," it said in a statement.

The demonstrations that drew more than a million people on to Beijing's streets are now a fading memory, and the killings are still taboo in mainland Chinese media.
The formerly British-ruled Hong Kong has remained the only city on Chinese soil where annual June 4 vigils, remembrances and protests are tolerated.

Jenny Ngai, the union's acting external affairs secretary, said that while the turnout rate was "not great", the vote sent a strong signal to society that Hong Kong's students, unlike those silenced by authorities on the mainland, would continue to speak out.

Apr 17—Lawyers Call for Mainland China Rights

HONG KONG (NTDTV) — Protests for human rights in mainland China continue in Hong Kong. Members of the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group went to the Chinese Communist Party’s liaison office on the island to rally for their cause.

Among the group of lawyers protesting is attorney He Junren. Every Wednesday, for four weeks now, he’s been going on a 24 hour hunger strike, protesting the Communist Party’s treatment of his colleagues in the Mainland. He is demanding Chinese communist authorities stop the persecution of human rights lawyers altogether. …

He Junren is especially concerned about attorney Gao Zhisheng’s condition.

He said, “We have recently heard that Gao was detained in a small mountain. Since his wife left China to escape persecution we again heard that he was being violently beaten.”

Attorney He says it’s important to keep pressuring the Communist Party to allow lawyers to practice freely.

“People are facing and asking for very minimal rights to live. However, even these rights have been deprived. They cannot even speak up. I believe this situation will not last long.”

Apr 17—China retrieves billions in embezzled funds

BEIJING (AFP) – China's top auditor said it had recovered a total of 27 billion yuan (four billion dollars) of funds embezzled in 2007, amid an ongoing battle against rampant corruption.

The National Audit Office said in a statement on its website late Friday that 30 officials had been arrested, prosecuted or convicted, and a further 117 were given disciplinary punishments.

The office is required to audit the government's central budget, which includes the transfer of payments to the regions, official investments and use of social security funds. …

Apr 17—Chinese woman in $57m fraud trial

SHANGHAI (BBC News, Chris Hogg) — A Chinese woman who turned her beauty business into a multi-million dollar property empire could be executed after being put on trial for financial fraud.

Wu Ying, 28, who comes from a family of poor farmers, has pleaded not guilty to charges that she ran a pyramid scheme. She is accused of defrauding investors of $57m (£38m) by promising returns of up to 10% but failing to invest their money properly, state media reports. …

Rags-to-riches-to-jail stories like this are not that uncommon in China. The authorities are keen to show they are cracking down on white collar crime.
Several years of double digit economic growth saw many young entrepreneurs, military officials and party cadres breaking the rules in a rush to join the newly-rich elite.

Apr 17—China officials rapped for buying costly liquor

BEIJING (AFP) — Government officials from central China have been reprimanded for spending up to 100,000 dollars in public funds on a high-class liquor that turned out to be fake, state press reported Friday.

Officials from two cities in central China's Henan province reported the fake liquor to police in Beijing, leading to the arrest of three sellers, Xinhua news agency reported.

Apr 17—28,000 more moved from China Three Gorges area

BEIJING (AFP) — Landslides and mudflows caused by rising and falling waters behind China's gigantic Three Gorges Dam has forced the relocation of over 28,000 people since September, state press said Friday. …

The massive Three Gorges Dam, which spans the middle reaches of Yangtze River, has taken about 15 years to complete. During the process at least 1.4 million people were forced to move from areas that are now-submerged.

A further four million have been "encouraged" to move by 2020, officials said in late 2007 after a series of mudflows and landslides in the reservoir region led to massive relocations. …

Apr 17—Chinese lawyer freed from jail

Financial Times (Tom Mitchell) — A court in Guangdong, southern China, has ordered the release of a lawyer jailed after representing villagers in a land dispute.

Liu Yao was convicted of inciting a protest that allegedly resulted in damage at a hydroelectric site. He was freed after serving 16 months of an original four-year sentence, and given two years' parole.

Chinese lawyers had rallied to his defence, worried about the precedent his conviction set.

Apr 17—Eighteen killed in China mine explosion: official

BEIJING (AFP) – Eighteen people have been killed and three injured in an explosion at a mine in central China, according to an official, in the latest deadly accident to hit the nation's coal industry.

The tragedy struck Friday afternoon at a mine in Chenzhou city in Hunan province when a detonator and explosives warehouse blew up, an employee at the city's coal industry bureau, who would only give his surname Li, told AFP. …

Apr 17—Chinese school accused of fraud at soccer tourney

BEIJING (Associated Press, Chi-chi Zhang) -- A Chinese high school team that won an international girl's soccer tournament last week in Turkey had secretly bulked up its squad with players from the junior national team, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The team from Daping Junior High beat other high school squads from Turkey, Brazil, Sweden, and Italy in early round matches, before defeating a team from France in the semifinals and a German side in the final, Xinhua said. …

The claim is yet another allegation of systemic cheating in Chinese sports through falsifying athletes' credentials. …

Apr 17—Chinese 'bought French degrees'

BBC News — The number of Chinese at French universities has soared. An official at a French university says he was offered a huge bribe to award degrees falsely to Chinese students.

Pierre Gensse, of the degree-awarding body at Toulon University's Institute for Business Administration, said he refused the bribe and informed police.

Police and the education ministry are investigating claims that hundreds of Chinese students have bought degrees, in a scam going back four years. …

Mr Gensse told France-Inter radio that he had been offered a bribe of 100,000 euros to give degrees to Chinese students despite their "lamentable" grades. …

Apr 17—Beijing Ponders One Slump or Two

WSJ (Andrew Peaple) -- Economists are roundly cheerful about China's worst quarterly economic performance in nearly 20 years.

The 6.1% rise in first-quarter gross domestic product, way down from the double-digit levels of recent years, does belie some encouraging signs for the economy. …

Apr 17—China sows seeds of food self-sufficiency

Financial Times (Javier Blas and Geoff Dyer) -- For the Group of Eight ministers of agriculture meeting for the first time tomorrow there will be no greater example of the dilemma faced in feeding a growing population than China.

… Beijing has to feed its population with limited fertile land, scarce water and the threat of climate change. …

At a time of heightened concerns about food security, illustrated by the G8 meeting, Beijing's challenge is a concern both at home and beyond.

Apr 17—A Walk Through China's Tech Export Landscape

HONG KONG (Forbes, Tina Wang) -- China's IT suppliers are clearly more optimistic than electronics manufacturers attending this spring's trade fairs in Hong Kong.

Apr 17—China's top trade fair buyer's paradise

GUANGZHOU, China (Reuters) — With fewer foreign buyers roaming the vast halls of China's top trade fair on Wednesday, China's stricken exporters said Western orders remained scarce despite cheaper prices and recent positive signs. …

With fair organisers reportedly saying this Canton Fair could be one of ''the most difficult'' ones in recent years, a series of exceptional measures have been taken.
Top foreign buyers were reportedly flown in for free. …

Apr 17—Florida to test air in homes with Chinese drywall
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Associated Press, Brian Skoloff) — Florida officials say they will soon begin air tests in homes to determine whether fumes from Chinese drywall is making people sick.

An Associated Press review of shipping records found more than 540 million pounds of plasterboard was imported from China between 2004 and 2008 to meet U.S. demand during the national housing boom. Hundreds of people nationwide are now complaining the material emits fumes that make them sick. …

Estimates indicate the drywall may be in some 100,000 homes nationwide, including 35,000 of those in Florida. …

Apr 17—China hauls US to WTO in 1st case vs. Obama admin.

GENEVA (Associated Press, Bradley S. Klapper) — China launched the first World Trade Organization case against the administration of President Barack Obama on Friday, challenging a U.S. ban on Chinese poultry. …

China and the U.S. banned each others' poultry in 2004 following an outbreak of bird flu. But China lifted the ban after a few months and complains that Washington refuses to do the same. …

Beijing is protesting a measure in the 2009 U.S. federal spending bill, signed by Obama in March, that extended the U.S. ban by blocking any funds from being used to facilitate imports of poultry products from China.

Apr 17—Car industry shakeup opens door to China upstarts

SHANGHAI (Associated Press, Elaine Kurtenbach) — As ailing global automakers agonize over their survival strategies, China's upstarts are racing them to launch homegrown hybrid and electric vehicles in the only major market that is still growing.

Apr 17—U.S. business worried China stimulus favors locals

BEIJING (Reuters) – U.S. companies are concerned that they are not getting a fair chance at contracts linked to China's 4 trillion yuan ($585 billion) stimulus package, a leading U.S. business group said on Friday.

For its part, Beijing has strongly criticized the 'Buy American' provisions of the U.S. stimulus package finalized in February, saying it is opposed to any rise in protectionist measures in the wake of the global economic slowdown.

Apr 17—China courts Indonesia with missiles

HONG KONG  (UPI, Andrei Chang) — China's success in establishing a "strategic partnership" with Southeast Asian countries has relied heavily on its effective diplomacy with Indonesia, which it has pursued diligently in recent years.

Indonesia had a strong anti-China policy in the 1960s due to China's backing of the Communist Party of Indonesia against the government. The two countries had no diplomatic relations from 1967 till 1990. Now, however, Indonesia has close military, political and diplomatic ties with China.

China has a very straightforward rationale in pursuing this relationship: Indonesia is the largest country in Southeast Asia and has a population of more than 240 million. It is also the most populous Muslim nation in the world and a traditional ally of the United States over the past 40 years. Therefore, aside from its natural gas and oil reserves, diplomatically, winning over Indonesia was the key to engaging other nations in the region.

In terms of military equipment and technology, Indonesia has become the third-largest client of China-made C-802 surface-to-surface missiles and QW-1 surface-to-air missiles in Southeast Asia, after Thailand and Myanmar. The Indonesian air force was the first among the armed forces of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to purchase China's QW-3 surface-to-air missiles.

The political and military rapprochement of China and Indonesia was aided by the fact that the United States restricted arms sales to Indonesia throughout the 1990s over human rights concerns. …

Apr 17—US nuclear experts in North Korea head to China

SEOUL, South Korea (Associated Press, Jae-Soon Chang) -- U.S. experts monitoring North Korea's nuclear program headed to China on Friday after the North expelled them and threatened to restart its reactor in anger over U.N. criticism of its recent rocket launch.

The four Americans arrived at Pyongyang's Sunan airport, APTN video showed. Their departure comes a day after U.N. nuclear inspectors also flew out of the communist nation after being expelled. …

Apr 17—China's Growing Role in UN Peacekeeping

BEIJING / YEW YORK / BRUSSELS (Reuters / AlertNet) — China’s Growing Role in UN Peacekeeping, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines China’s increasing role in UN peacekeeping, taking into account the advantages its participation represents.

China now has over 2,000 peacekeepers serving in ten UN peacekeeping operations, making it the second largest provider of peacekeepers among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. China does not currently provide combat troops, but its civilian police, military observers, engineering battalions and medical units fill a key gap.

There are some concerns, however. In several cases, China has sent peacekeepers only after giving support to actors that aggravated the situation. And China’s relationships with problem regimes in the developing world have fed suspicions that its peacekeeping is motivated by economic interests. In fact, China’s economic and peacekeeping decision-making tracks operate separately, and tensions between the foreign affairs ministry, military and economic actors mean there is no overall strategic approach to peacekeeping. …



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