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News Briefs

 An Overview of What’s Happening in China.

Indonesian President Visits Beijing 

[Xinhua News Agency, July 28, 2005] Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, accompanied by several economic officials, arrived in Beijing on July 27, 2005, for a national visit to shore up ties between the two countries. Yudhoyono reached a series of economic and defense agreements with China during the meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. The agreements, signed at a ceremony attended by Chinese President Hu Jintao, included a general loan agreement from China to Indonesia of US$100 million of Preferential Buyers Credit, alongside memoranda of understanding or cooperation on defense technology and rebuilding projects in tsunami-affected areas of Indonesia. When Hu Jintao visited Jakarta in April, the two sides signed nine agreements establishing a "strategic partnership" and pledging to increase two-way trade to US$20 billion within three years.

Beijing Strengthens Control over TV And Radio; Foreign Companies Not Allowed

[The Epoch Times, July 16, 2005] In an effort to strengthen control over TV and radio stations, the Chinese government recently issued an announcement forbidding Chinese stations from participating in joint ventures with foreign TV or radio stations. The new rule went into effect July 7. A public announcement posted on the official website of China’s State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television indicates that China’s TV and radio stations are also not allowed to lease their channels to foreign companies. China’s TV and radio stations are eager to obtain foreign investments and foreign programs. Many TV and radio stations have lost government financial support, and because of this, have to stay competitive in an ever-changing market. Yet, the Chinese government remains unwilling to give these stations the freedom to work with foreign companies, because of fears that it may lessen their control over the "political standard for television and radio broadcasting."

Shandong Health Bureau Surrounded By Hundreds of Angry Residents

[The Epoch Times, July 16, 2005] Disregarding national regulations, the Rizhao City, Shandong Province, municipal government is constructing a hospital for infectious diseases in a crowded school and residential area. The construction project has continued despite resistance from residents. Several hundred angry residents recently surrounded the Health Bureau, demanding a stop to the project immediately. Donggang District, where the hospital is being built, is in the old city, with many schools and dormitories, and is a densely populated area. Construction on the hospital started last March, causing extreme discontent among nearby inhabitants. Residents have complained and appealed, and many conflicts have occurred between local inhabitants and contractors since the beginning of the construction. Hundreds of angry locals broke into the work site and smashed the construction tools. The project was therefore suspended, and only recently resumed.{mospagebreak}

Administration Achievement Project: University’s Claim Turns into Scandal

[Asia Times, July 15, 2005] In China, the so-called "Administration Achievement Projects" are not limited to local leaders who launch a great number of superfluous construction projects. Chinese media have recently suspected that the high employment rate of average college graduates in Hubei Province, reportedly 84 percent, might be false. Asia Times Online has also learned from another source that some universities required graduates to provide employment offer letters in order to receive their diplomas. In other words, China’s official employment rate for college graduates might become the latest disaster of the Administration Achievements Project due to various award mechanisms.

U.S. Trade Deficit to China Continues To Rise

[Voice of America, July 14, 2005] The U.S. trade deficit to China continued to rise in May, reaching US$158 billion. According to China scholars, certain methods, such as timely adjustment of China’s yuan exchange rate, and expanding export of U.S. flagship goods, can decrease the trade surplus between China and the U.S. Recent data from the U.S. Commerce Department shows U.S. exports to China during the first five months of 2005 increased 7.6 percent compared to last year. But driven by an increase of 12.8 percent in textile and garment imports, the U.S. trade deficit to China rose from US$147 billion in April to US$158 billion in May, marking May as the month with the largest gain in the deficit since last November.

Report Reveals Fast Growth of China’s Money Laundering

[Southern China Daily, July 13, 2005] The People’s Bank of China issued its first counter money laundering report on July 12, revealing that in 2004, the number of large denomination bills flowing into China increased by a third compared to the previous year. Experts believe that this is related to increased short-term speculative investment in China, as well as the growth of domestic money laundering transactions.

In 2004 the inflow of large denomination bills was US$3.956 billion, compared to an outflow of US$964 million. The total inflow was three times the outflow. The U.S., Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea are the main sources of these large denomination bill transactions.

Beijing Plans for More Than 4,000 Internet Police

[Xinbao, June 27, 2005] After training, qualified Internet security personnel will be stationed at Internet bars and ISPs in Beijing. Their primary duties will be to assist the public security police to use the central control of the ISPs to monitor user activity in real-time, and determine whether the websites users visit contain pornography, reactionary content, scams, or any content the government deems wrong. According to media reports, Beijing plans to train more than 4,000 network security personnel. After one month of intensive training, the first batch of Beijing network police will start in August.{mospagebreak}

Japan Allows Private Company to Explore Gas and Oil Fields in East China Sea

[Voice of America, July 14, 2005] Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Shoichi Nakagawa, announced at an emergency press conference on Wednesday afternoon that the Ministry of Economy, Trade. and Industry granted Teikoku Oil Company test-drilling rights in the East China Sea. Analysts believe that Japan’s move shows they disagree with China oil-drilling in the East China Sea without consulting Japan. It is expected, however, that the Japanese government will be very cautious about the approval of the test-drilling, since Japan’s decision may lead to escalation of the dispute between China and Japan in the East China Sea.

This is the first time the Japanese government has granted rights to a private company to explore for oil in disputed waters in the East China Sea near the Chinese drilling platform.

Profits of Chinese Automobile Groups Fall Sharply

[The Epoch Times, July 6, 2005] The two largest automobile manufacturers in ChinaShanghai Automotive Co., Ltd. and Chongqing Chang’an Automobiles Co. Ltd.both announced on July 1 that their profits for the first half of the year fell more than 50 percent, due to falling automobile prices, increasing costs of materials, and a soft market demand. This is a new sign of the severe situation faced by the Chinese automobile industry. It is estimated that, due to huge investments, automobile production in China will more than double, from nearly 3 million vehicles per year to 8 million vehicles per year by 2008. Many worry that over-production could result.

Nine-Month-Pregnant Woman Suffers Forced Abortion

[The Epoch Times, July 13, 2005] A nine-month-pregnant woman in Henan Province, China, underwent a forced abortion because she refused to cooperate with the Chinese government by denouncing the spiritual practice Falun Gong. In addition, she was sentenced to a five-year prison term. The woman filed a complaint on an overseas website and called for overseas communities to pay more attention to China’s human rights issues.

Hu Jintao Strives to Prevent "Color Revolution"

[The Epoch Times, July 9, 2005] The recent "Color Revolutions," such as the "Orange Revolution" in the Ukraine, has caused panic for Chinese President Hu Jintao. Hu issued an internal conference report entitled "Fighting the People’s War Without Gunsmoke," which dealt with "stopping the U.S. and Europe from starting Color Revolutions in Regions Surrounding China and Crushing U.S. Attempts to Start a Color Revolution in China." This report was issued to all county-level governments in late May in the form of an official Central Committee document. The report, disseminated all the way down to the county-level, ordered strict controls over the media, strengthening of the monitoring and control of dissidents and civil rights advocates, and a complete review of all publishing companies.{mospagebreak}

China Bans June Issue of Far Eastern Economic Review

[Voice of America, June 29, 2005] The Chinese government has banned the June issue of the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) for carrying a review of the newly published book Mao, the Unknown Story, by overseas Chinese writer Jung Chang and her husband. According to the Wall Street Journal, the book exposes Mao’s crimes during his leadership of China from 1949 to 1976. The FEER review was written by Jonathan Mirsky, a former East Asia editor of the Times of London. China’s National Publications Import and Export Corporation informed the Dow Jones & Company, publisher of FEER, that the June issue would not be allowed into China because of the review of Chang’s book.

Pollution Threatens Ancient Qin Dynasty Terra Cotta Army

[Chongqing Morning Post, July 6, 2005] The terra cotta warriors and horses, dating from the Qin Dynasty (around 210 B.C.), have been seriously eroded by air pollution after surviving for over 2,000 years. Experts are concerned that if no measures are implemented, the Terra Cotta Museum will become a coal pit. Scientists placed a piece of plain white paper in the Terra Cotta Museum. After 24 hours, the paper turned murky and dark from charcoal particles, illustrating the kind of pollutants that tarnish the terra cotta army.

Chinese Communist Party Arrests Underground Bishop for Sixth Time

[Central News Agency, July 5, 2005] The Connecticut-based Cardinal Kung Foundation stated that the Chinese government arrested Bishop Jia Zhiguo on July 4 during the Chinese Communist Party’s harassment of Chinese underground churches. Bishop Jia is the Catholic bishop for Zhengding District, Hebei Province. He has been arrested six times during the past 18 months.

President of Commercial Bank Investigated for Embezzlement

[Southern Daily, July 1, 2005] The general manager of a township branch of the Dongguan City, Guangdong Province Commercial Bank is suspected of taking advantage of his job position, embezzlement, misappropriating funds, and issuing loans illegally during the 11 years he has been in charge of the bank. The amounts involved are said to exceed 51.6 million yuan (US$6.37 million).

Abduction Insurance Policy Launched For Beijing Wealthy

[Central News Agency, July 1, 2005] An insurance company in China is offering kidnapping insurance for the managers or executives of private or state-owned companies. The first of its kind in Beijing, this policy also covers their spouses and children. The policy was introduced in some southern cities in China and had received positive responses from the market. The maximum insurance premium is 500 yuan per year (around US$62), with a maximum compensation of 797,500 yuan (around US$98,000). The renewable insured period is one year.{mospagebreak}

Hu Jintao’s "Historic Visit" to Russia Downplayed by Russian Media

[The Epoch Times, July 4, 2005] On July 3, Chinese Communist Party leader Hu Jintao left Russia on a special jet, completing his official four-day visit to Russia. Hu and Russian president Vladmir Putin signed several agreements, and his visit was highly appreciated by the Chinese state-sponsored media, and called a "historic visit." Reports by the Russian media, however, seemed to downplay the importance of the visit.

China Plans to Import Massive Amounts of Energy from Russia

[Voice of America, July 10, 2005] China wants to strengthen its cooperation with Russia in terms of its electrical energy, with future plans to import 20 to 50 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year from Russia. Both sides are encountering obstacles, however, such as Russia’s need to invest huge funds in its electrical energy facilities. In addition, the two parties have not yet been able to reach an agreement on the critical issue of price.