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News Briefs

An overview of the top breaking news in China.

North Korea Exports Drugs to China

[, Aug. 4, 2005] The number of drug smuggling cases has dramatically increased along the China-North Korea border within recent years. The more than 500-kilometer-long border (over 300 miles), home to one million ethnic Koreans, has become another drug zone along with southwest, southeast, and northwest China. Chinese police have seized drugs including crystal meth, solid heroin, ecstasy, yaba, and morphine. In just the first half of 2005, Chinese police in the northeast have had as many as 21 drug smuggling cases, involving more than 200 kilograms (about 440 lbs.) of drugs.

Top Kelon Heads Detained for Alleged Fraud

[, August 1, 2005] Gu Chujun, Chairman of the Board of Kelon, the well-known Chinese refrigerator and air-conditioner maker, was detained by police, along with Vice-President Yan Yousong, and Assistant to the President Jiang Yuan, for allegedly using 700 million yuan (US$43.4 million) of Kelon’s money fraudulently. The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) is currently continuing its investigation into Kelon.

Beijing Faces Population Crisis

[Beijing Evening News, Aug. 1, 2005] Beijing is facing a maximum capacity crisis. By 2008, the population will reach 15 million; by 2010, 15.55 million; and by 2025, 17 million. After 2025, the population will level out around 16 million. According to experts, by 2010 the elderly population (age 60 and over) will reach 2.17 million, accounting for 14 percent of the total population. The peak of the aging population will be in 2045, when senior citizens will make up 38 percent of the population.

Beijing’s International Students on the Rise

[Central News Agency, July 25, 2005] According to estimates, by 2008 Beijing will have 80,000 international students. Experts of Chinese language studies worry that, facing the global popularity of the Chinese language, there will be a severe shortage of Chinese language teachers in Beijing as well as in the rest of China.

Officials in Sichuan Province Change Vehicle Plates by Pressing a Button

[Chongqing Evening News, July 26, 2005] An electric license plate-changing system installed in some government officials’ vehicles in Sichuan Province enables an eye-catching government official’s license plate to suddenly become an ordinary license plate at the touch of a button. It is reported that this kind of vehicle can be easily found next to luxurious businesses such as famous restaurants, nightclubs, saunas, and spas. For those cars that cannot change plates, business owners will cover both front and back plates tightly with a "fig leaf." After installing this face-changing equipment, some officials only need to press a button to show off their power and prestige, or to do something forbidden while not exposing their official identities.{mospagebreak}

Chinese Vice-Premier Comforts Army Forces in Xinjiang to Prevent Rebellion

[Central News Agency, Aug. 3, 2005] According to reports from the East Turkistan Information Center, Vice-Premier Huang Ju traveled to Xinjiang recently to comfort army forces stationed in the region. The trip was made to prevent the army from rebelling against the Chinese government, and to ensure stability during the Oct. 1, 2005, 50-year anniversary celebration of the establishment of the Uyghur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang.

Hong Kong University Professor Upsets Beijing, Ordered to Stop Bird Flu Research

[Apple Daily, July 18, 2005] Professor Guan Zhi, a virologist from Hong Kong University, enraged Beijing by exposing the fact that the Qinghai Bird Flu came from southern China, which contradicts statements made by the Chinese government. On July 9, 2005, authorities came to his Flu Research Center in Shangtou University and demanded that researchers destroy or hand in all flu samples. According to officials from the Agricultural Department, an order had been given to stop the Flu Research Center from conducting further bird flu research.

China Jams Sound of Hope Radio Broadcasts

[The Epoch Times, Aug. 7, 2005] Many audiences of the Sound of Hope International Radio Network in all areas of mainland China recently gave feedback to the radio network saying that, the daily four-hour broadcast to China has suffered severe jamming from the Chinese Communist Party and hence they could not receive the radio network’s program at all. A non-profit organization, The Sound of Hope Radio Network was established in 2003 in San Francisco, and has gained rapid popularity in the Chinese community. During these two years, the radio network has accumulated close to 20,000 broadcasting programs and interviews across the network, and has established branch stations in more than 30 cities in four continents world wide, and has been broadcasting into mainland China for four hours daily through shortwave.

Serious Pollution Harms Yellow River

[Xinhuanet, July 10, 2005] "A stench assailing the nostrils from 100 yards away, and churning black water constantly producing white foam." This is what a reporter witnessed lately at Tongguan County, Shanxi Province, where the Wei River flows into the Yellow River. The Yellow River’s largest tributary, the Wei River has lost almost all its useful functions and has instead become a black, stinking "Waste River."

[Xinhuanet, July 8, 2005] In the Gansu Province section of the Yellow River, 65.22 percent of city sewage is directly dispersed into the Yellow River untreated, which has resulted in serious pollution. The issue of preventing and treating the pollution at the Gansu section of the Yellow River has been brought to the attention of the National Political Consultative Conference standing committee.{mospagebreak}

Chinese Communist Government Officials Gamble with Government Money

[The Epoch Times, July 17, 2005] A recent Chinese Communist Party internal communication revealed that Chinese communist government officials use government money for high-stakes gambling at overseas gambling establishments. The communication reports that individuals from mainland China, especially high-ranking government officials at every level, gamble in Las Vegas, and pointed out that, "Regardless of how conservative the estimate is, Chinese gamblers throw away no less than one billion U.S. dollars in Las Vegas every year."

Four Thousand Corrupt Chinese Officials Flee with US$50 Billion

[Central News Agency, August 7, 2005] According to an official Chinese government investigation report, since the reform and open policy, about 40,000 corrupted officials have fled China with an estimated US$50 billion of stolen money.

China Raises Limit on Carrying Foreign Currency Abroad

[, August 3, 2005] The State Administration of Foreign Exchange has raised the limit on foreign currency obtainable through foreign exchange for citizens leaving the country on personal business. Those staying abroad for less than six months can now exchange up to US$5,000 before leaving the country, instead of the previous limit of US$3,000.

More Than 10,000 Farmers in Zhejiang Province Protest Against Local Factory’s Environmental Pollution

[Voice of America, July 19, 2005] The farmers in Xinchang County, Zhejiang Province held a protest against a local pharmaceutical factory, Jingxin Pharmaceutical, because of its serious environmental pollution, and fought with the police. Now this pharmaceutical factory has suspended its production. Jingxin Pharmaceutical was established in 1990, and is a key high-tech enterprise.

200,000 People Die of Adverse Drug Reactions Each Year in China

[Central News Agency, August 1, 2005] Of the 50 million people hospitalized every year, 2.5 million are related to the improper use of drug therapy (including self-medication, obtaining drugs without prescriptions, counterfeit drugs, etc.). Adverse drug reaction causes nealy 200,000 deaths each year. According to Du Wenmin, the deputy director of the Shanghai Adverse Drug Reaction Monitoring Center, people who use drug therapy improperly account for 11 to 26 percent of the total drug consumers in China.{mospagebreak}

Shenzhen’s Population Exceeds 10 Million, Approaches Limit

[Central News Agency, July 31, 2005] By the end of June 2005, Shenzhen City’s actual population reached 10.35 million, although only 1.71 million have been officially registered as residents. It is the only mainland Chinese city with such a large gap between the registered population and non-registered population. The Shenzhen City Police Department’s newly published data shows that Shenzhen City’s population is approaching the city’s limit. If the population inflation cannot be effectively controlled, the environmental capacity of resources such as land, energy, and water will be very difficult to sustain.

2,672 People Died in Coal Mining Accidents in the First Half of 2005

[The Epoch Times, July 17, 2005] In the first half of 2005, there have been 2,672 deaths in China due to coal mining accidents, according to Chinese media reports on July 16, 2005. Official data shows that more than 5,000 people died in coal mining accidents last year. But according to independent observers, the real death toll is more likely approaching 20,000. In order to keep their coal mines from being shut down or fined, some coal mine authorities are deliberately falsifying death tolls.

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s plan of "reorganizing coal mines" in view of the frequent accidents and deaths has never truly been carried out due to pressure from tight electricity supplies as well as recently increasing oil prices.

Gas Shortage in Guangzhou City

[Central News Agency, August 13, 2005] As the oil prices around the globe skyrocket, Guangzhou has witnessed its first gasoline shortage in decades, which has affected normal social life in Guangzhou. In recent days, hunting for gasoline has become very common among drivers in Guangzhou. Many gas stations in Guangzhou are posting signs "out of gas" or "short of gas," signs, while there are often long lines at stations that do have gas. Some drivers say that they don’t care about picking the type of gasoline, as they would be content with being able to fill up their gas tanks during the gas shortage. Guangdong Province consumes 40,000-50,000 metric tons of gasoline every day, while daily consumption in Guangzhou alone reaches nearly 10,000 metric tons.

Infected Pork Seized in Sichuan Province

[Xinhuanet, August 10, 2005] Since the outbreak of streptococcus suis in pigs in Sichuan Province, Sichuan’s Department of Industry and Commerce formed an emergency response center to handle the crisis in an attempt to prevent the meat or meat products of dead pigs from circulating in the market. According to this report, 29,000 kilograms (approximately 64,000 lbs.) of pork from infected pigs were seized. According to statistics, 214 people have been infected with the disease, and 39 of them have died of the outbreak. Many local departments have begun investigating local officials for failing to fulfill their duties. At present, 17 officials have been punished.{mospagebreak}

New Wave of Competition Among China’s Youth for Hong Kong’s Colleges

[Central News Agency, August 10, 2005] Eight of Hong Kong’s colleges will accept over 1,000 students this year from mainland China by expanding their acceptance coverage to 17 provinces in China, a fact that has helped create a new wave of applications for Hong Kong’s colleges. While the University of Hong Kong plans to accept 250 undergraduates, nearly 5,000 students have applied-twice the number from last year, and pushing the acceptance ratio to as high as 20 to one. The number of applicants in China for other Hong Kong colleges, including the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong Baptist University, and Lingnan University, has also doubled this year.

China’s National Security Bureau Rejects Imprisoned Reporter’s Attempt to Hire Lawyer

[Central News Agency, August 25, 2005] Mary Lau, wife of Ching Cheong, a Hong Kong-based top China correspondent for Singapore’s The Straits Times, said yesterday that she had received a written notice from officials of China’s National Security Bureau, denying the family’s application to hire a lawyer for Ching. According to the notice, the application was rejected because Ching was still under investigation for allegedly taking money from and spying for Taiwan.

In a report from Xin Bao, Lau was quoted as saying that the authorities at the National Security Bureau denied the application based on Article 96 in the Criminal Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China. Article 96 states that Ching Leong has the right, while detained, to hire a lawyer to defend him, file a complaint, or obtain a guarantor pending trial, but such an application must be approved by the investigating authorities.

One Seventh of Shanxi Province’s Land Left Hanging After Aggressive Coal Mining

[Nanfang Daily, August 28, 2005] As much as 20,000 square kilometers (over 7,700 square miles) of land in Shanxi Province is devoted to mining. Given Shanxi’s total land area of 156,000 square kilometers (over 60,000 square miles), almost one-seventh of Shanxi’s land has been affected by the mines. The resulting land subsidence has cost 2.6 billion yuan (US$321 million) in the past ten years alone.

A study by the Shanxi Ministry of Land and Resources indicates that 6,000 square kilometers (over 2,300 square miles) of Shangxi’s mined land are undergoing geological disasters. There have been 1,842 cases of land subsidence because of coal mining, with 47,000 hectares of land damaged, including 18,000 hectares of farmlands. In particular, in New Road Village of Wanbolin District, Taiyuan City, there are many cracks dozens of centimeters wide in the walls of villagers’ homes. The sinking ground has made many buildings tilt, while some of them have already collapsed.{mospagebreak}

Appealers Outraged at False State-Run Media Reports

[The Epoch Times, August 21, 2005] Recently, newspapers such as the Beijing Daily, Beijing Evening, Jinhua Times, and New Beijing, have followed official state-run media in reporting that, for the people who go to Beijing to appeal, 94 percent of their issues are resolved in Beijing. CCTV also broadcasted scenes where the Director of the Beijing Police Department personally interviewed appealers.

People who have been appealing to the government for extended periods of time were outraged at these false reports: "We, hundreds of people appealing day and night, have never seen even the shadow of the director. Where did they get that video? We have only been received by low-level office assistants. Aren’t they falsifying the news?"