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News Briefs

An Overview of What’s Happening in China.

AIDS in China Was Up 50 Percent Over Last Year

[VOA, November 28, 2005] Vice Minister of Ministry of Health Wang Longde reveals on November 28, 2005, that up to the end of September 2005, China has found 135,000 people with HIV, a 50 percent increase over a year ago. Yunan, Henan, Xinjiang, Guangxi, and Guangdong are the top five provinces with high HIV positive patients. The total numbers of AIDS in these five provinces are 77 percent of the total AIDS population in China. Among them, 40 percent are transmitted via drug use, 23 percent through illegal blood sales, and 9 percent from unprotected sex.

Group AIDS Infection in a Fujian Province Drug Rehab Center

[Radio Free Asia, November 11, 2005] Due to an oversight in monitoring drug abusers at a rehab center in Fujian Province, 54 people in the center were infected with AIDS. Trying to hide the truth, authorities ordered those infected with AIDS locked up as a punishment. Attempts by the victims’ families to appeal to the authorities to cover medical expenses and damages for the victims have been in vain.

Schistosomiasis Returns to Hubei and Jiangxi Provinces

[Xinhuanet, November 11, 2005] Schistosomiasis, a disease that was once declared annihilated in China, has returned in some parts of China. According to statistics from the Ministry of Health, schistosomiasis has been found in seven regions in Hubei, Jiangxi, Anhui, and Sichuan provinces. Snails are hosts for the oncomelania parasites that cause schistosomiasis. The wide spread of snails in China has created over 800,000 schistosomiasis patients, and is threatening 65 million people.

Thousands of Ex-Servicemen In Shenzhen Protest Unjust Compensations

[VOA, November 8, 2005] Thousands of ex-servicemen held a protest in Shenzhen, demanding the authorities solve their financial problems due to the reform of state-owned enterprises and the loss of state-owned assets. At one point, the protesters once blocked the mayor’s car, but were dispersed by anti-riot police.

Chinese Authorities Arrest AIDS Patients & Civil Rights Supporters

[The Epoch Times, November 10, 2005] Authorities in Henan Province reportedly dispatched thousands of police officers to arrest AIDS patients and block people from appealing for their rights during the National Conference on AIDS Prevention on November 7. The conference was held at Yellow River Hotel of Zhenzhou City, Henan Province, and sponsored by the Office of AIDS Prevention and Treatment of the State Council.

Mr. Hu Jia, a well-known civil rights activist who has been actively calling for protecting the rights of AIDS patients, was about to deliver his appeal letter to the authorities when the police arrested him. The police took him out of Zhenzhou City and put him under house arrest. Hu finally returned home in Beijing at 10 p.m. on November 9.

Canada’s Ministry of Health Warns Against Using Chinese-Made Weight-Loss Drugs

[Central News Agency, November 9, 2005] Several weight-loss products made in China contain the harmful substance sibutramine and therefore should not be taken, Canada’s Ministry of Health warns. The drugs on the warning list include Xianting Qianzhisu, Menze Qianweisu, Shou ShenDan-Xiao Nan Wan, RS Slim & Fit, Kartien Slimming Capsules, and Kartien Trimming Formula.

Almost 80 Percent of Reporters in China Want to Change Careers

[Legal Evening News, November 8, 2005] Chinese journalists today are facing increased levels of stress and anxiety, in part due to the highly scrutinized nature of their work, according to a survey conducted by the Legal Evening News at the Journalist Festival on November 8. The survey indicates that almost 80 percent of journalists have thought of changing their career.

According to the survey, the primary factors that cause journalists stress are: (1) deep anxiety for being unable to use the press to expose evil-doers or to encourage people to do good (23.7 percent of those surveyed); (2) the inability to fight back when their news reports are blocked (18.3 percent); (3) Less and less substantive source material for news reports (16.3 percent); (4) corrupt journalists damaging the reputation of journalists as a whole (10.8 percent); (5) fear of physical attacks and revenge as a result of their truthful reporting (9.7 percent); and (6) discrimination from the public (5.4 percent).

In addition, many felt that the routine travel and overnight work in the career have caused journalists prolonged stress, and that an excessive number of journalists throughout China is only exacerbating the problems all journalists face.

Shenzhen Legal Daily Ordered to Stop the Presses

[, November 7, 2005] The Shenzhen Legal Daily, an influential newspaper in China, was stopped from publishing on November 8. The authorities stated that the reason behind the stoppage is long-term financial losses. But according to people familiar with the matter, it is the frequent exposure of China’s negative side that angered authorities and became an important reason for its closure. The sudden closure brought some employees of the newspaper to tears in public.

China Is Short 20 Billion Kilograms of Grain This Year

[Central News Agency, November 7, 2005] China’s grain supply and demand will be in a state of "tight balance" for an extensive period of time with a shortage of 20 billion kilograms (20 million tons) this year, according to an official from China’s Grain Bureau.

Media in Hunan Province Choose the Top Ten People Who Dare to Speak The Truth

[, November 6, 2005] Media in Hunan Province have recently become well-known for their audacious pioneering work on programs such as the "Super Girls" singing competition on Hunan Satellite TV. Recently, People in Focus Weekly in Hunan launched a selection process for the "Top Ten People who Dare to Speak the Truth." Among the people nominated were Zhang Baoqing, who harshly criticized corruption in the educational system; Li Jinhua, who launched the "auditing storm"; and Yi Xianrong, who criticized the real estate bubble. The editor of the weekly paper highly praised those who are brave enough to speak the truth, while lamenting how difficult it is for people to do so.

20 Billion Yuan Flows into Shenzhen Real Estate

[Central News Agency, November 5, 2005] Shenzhen, the first special economic zone in China, has witnessed a surge in real estate prices. The estimated overall increase in real estate prices will reach as high as 20 percent, as compared to the same period last year. A significant change in Shanghai’s real estate market has reportedly resulted in the shift of 20 billion yuan (approximately US$2.5 billion) to Shenzhen and is another reason for the surge in Shenzhen’s real estate prices.

Substitute Teachers in Northwestern China Earn 40 Yuan (US$5) a Month

[Nanfang Weekend, November 4, 2005] Over 600 substitute teachers in Weiyuan County, Gansu Province, earn a monthly salary of only 40 to 80 yuan (approximately US$5 to US$10). Seventy percent of the substitutes earn only 40 yuan. These findings were reported to the Gansu provincial government and to the Ministry of Education by the Associate Secretary of the CCP Committee of Weiyuan County, after a personal investigation. "Payday is the most painful day," many substitutes say.

Underground Clinics Swamped In Beijing

[The Epoch Times, November 4, 2005] With surging medical costs and drug prices, the lower-income class in China is seeking medical treatments from private clinics, and has become an enormous source of demand for many underground clinics. Medical practices without licenses, poor medical equipment, and poor hygiene in these clinics, among other things, have frequently caused malpractice deaths in recent years. Some of the accidents are resolved privately. The flood of people using underground clinics has become a serious social problem in China.

Veteran Plans to Sue PLA

[Central News Agency, November 4, 2005] Injured during his service in the Hong Kong-based troops of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), an ex-serviceman plans to file a lawsuit in a Hong Kong court against the Hong Kong-based PLA troops for compensation. After his injury, the veteran allegedly did not receive proper treatment, causing his injury to deteriorate. When retiring from the service, he received only 200 yuan (about US$25) from the PLA to cover his medical expenses. If the case is accepted, it will be the first one in Hong Kong’s history in which a veteran sues the Hong Kong-based PLA troops.

Wife of Attorney Zhen Enchong Files Lawsuit Against CCP Mouthpieces in Shanghai

[The Epoch Times, November 3, 2005] On Oct. 29, 2003, one day after the authorities in China sentenced attorney Zhen Enchong to three years in prison for allegedly providing foreigners with "state secrets," both the Jiefang Daily and Wenhui Bao in Shanghai published an article titled, "The Truth behind the Crowns: About Zhen Enchong." Zhen’s wife Jiang Meili accused the newspapers of distorting the facts, defaming Zhen, and bringing mental damage to Zhen himself and to his family. Jiang recently hired Pu Zhiqiang, an attorney in Beijing, to demand apologies and compensation for damages from the two newspaper publishers.

China and the United States Battle Over Renting Vietnam’s Military Base

[Oriental Daily, Hong Kong, November 1, 2005] During his visit to Vietnam, Chinese leader Hu Jintao requested that Vietnam rent the Ranh Bay Military Base to China, to reinforce its influence in Southeastern Asia. Ranh Bay is the best natural deep-water bay in Asia. If the information is confirmed, the billion-dollar rental plan proposed by the United States will likely be denied by Vietnam. Vietnam once reportedly held discussions with the United States regarding the latter’s proposed rental. Due to a warm-up in the Sino-Vietnam relationship, however, Vietnam has been deferring the decision in order to avoid offending China or becoming a "frontline" for the United States.

China Quietly Changes Western Borders in Xinjiang

[The Epoch Times, November 2, 2005] Compared with its January 2002 version, the new "Xinjiang Map" published in January 2005 by the China Map Publishing House has some major differences in China’s borders in Xinjiang Province. Despite the "Undetermined Border" near the Pamir Mountains, China’s borders with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan have been changed quietly. These changes can be viewed as new agreements with China’s neighbors. On the Sino-Kazakhstan border, there are at least two areas that have moved further back into China’s territory. Despite the changes, both the 2002 and 2005 versions are printed with the words, "The national borders are drawn based on the Map of China published by the China Map Publishing House in 1989."

A Large Poverty Zone Within 60 Miles Of Beijing

[Central News Agency, November 3, 2005] Surrounding Beijing and Tianjin is a "poverty zone," which includes 3,798 poor villages and 32 poor counties, with a population of 3.72 million in poverty, said Asian Development Bank in its recently published report "Study On Strategic Economic Development in Hebei Province." It is very uncommon for a large poverty area to exist within 60 miles of a state capital.

Nu River Project Underway Despite Environmentalists’ Anger

[The Epoch Times, October 28, 2005] Which one is more important to the Chinese people: a new source of electric energy or the environment? In the past three years, there has been intense, ongoing debate between the environmentalists and developers with regard to the hydroelectric project on the Nu River (Roaring River). To protest the secrecy in the decision-making process by the central government regarding the hydroelectric project, environmentalists in China tried to stop an official engineering conference for the Nu River project over the October 22 weekend. The developers, however, continue to launch the project, regardless.

The Nu River originates from the Thanghla Pass in Qinghai Province in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. As the canyon of the river is 3,000 meters (~1.86 miles) above sea level, the river literally roars as water flows through the steep rocky landscape, thus the name Nu (or Roaring) River. With its geological uniqueness, the great gorge of Nu River naturally becomes a haven for many species. With one of the most abundant varieties of biological species in the world, the Nu River region boasts over 25 percent of China’s species of rare plants and animals, including those on the brink of extinction.