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News Briefs

An Overview of What’s Happening in China.

Over 16 Million Acres of Tillable Fields Lost in China 

[Central News Agency, June 26, 2005] Li Yuan, Vice Minister of the Chinese Land Resource Department, revealed in the "Constructive and Economical Society International Seminar" conference held in Beijing that China has lost 100 million mu (16.47 million acres) of tillable fields over the past 10 years, and by 2004, the average tillable field per person was only 1.41 mu (0.19 acre), nearly 40 percent of the world’s average.

Li Yuan said that although the main reasons include ecological retrograde, agricultural reorganization, and disaster impact, construction taking up excess land has caused a permanent loss of tillable fields.

Drug Abuse Costs China 27 Billion Yuan (US$3.4 billion) per Year

[Xinhuanet, June 25, 2005] Since the 1980s, 33,975 people have died in China due to drug abuse. To date, more than 2,102 counties, cities, and regions, which account for 73.5 percent of the total, have found drug addicts among their population. Nationwide there are 791,000 people addicted to drugs, consuming at least 27 billion yuan (US$3.4 billion) of heroin every year. The government, consequently, is forced to invest at least 3 billion yuan (US$0.375 billion) per year in drug control. Zhang Xinfeng, the Deputy Director of the National Drug Abuse Control Committee and Vice Minister of the Public Security Department, stated that, between 1998 and 2004, the Chinese government reported more than 638,000 drug-related crimes, arrested 320,000 drug-related suspects, seized 62 tons of heroin, 60 tons of ice (methamphetamine hydrochloride), 14 tons of opium, and 1,538 tons of chemicals that are used in drug products.

China’s Land Desertification Accelerates

[The Beijing News, June 17, 2005] By the end of 2004, the amount of land in China that suffered from desertification was 2,636,200 square kilometers, accounting for 27.46 percent of the national territory. Zhu Lieke, the Vice Director of the National Forestry Bureau, stated on June 14, 2006, that 320,000 square kilometers more land has desertification potential. This land, if not utilized appropriately, will then become new sandy wasteland. The Director of the Desertification Control Office, Liu Tuo, stated that in China, five sand storms occurred in the 1950s, eight in the 1960s, 13 in the 1970s, 14 in the 1980s, and 23 in the 1990s. By the end of 2004, 32 sand storms had already occurred.

Top CCP Authorities Issue Secret Order to Launch a "100-Day Strike Hard Campaign"

[Secret China, June 16, 2005] In March 2005, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) determined Falun Gong to be a "Reactionary Political Organization." The top authorities of the CCP issued a secret order to launch a 100-day strike hard campaign that would include the six-year anniversary of the April 25 (Falun Gong peaceful appeal), the 16th anniversary of June 4th Massacre, and the sixth anniversary of July 20 (the day of the CCP crackdown on Falun Gong began), in order to prevent people from downloading and spreading the forbidden book Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party as well as other prohibited information.{mospagebreak}

China Secretly Tightens Control of Officials Going Abroad

[The Epoch Times, June 11, 2005] Three Chinese officials sought refuge from the Australian government successively within a week. They exposed the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution of overseas Chinese as well as its huge overseas spy network. China’s response to this took the form of a secret tightening on officials going abroad and of increasing checkpoints and procedures.

According to a report by the British paper The Times on June 10, 2005, sources in China’s Public Security Department confirmed the same information: that China has secretly tightened its policies regarding officials going abroad and increased checkpoints and procedures. China requests that all government and army officials obtain a workplace permit before applying for a passport from the Public Security Department, and submit their passport to their workplace after returning. They have to re-apply for permits if they need to go abroad again. The new policy not only applies to officials who are going abroad for the first time, but also to officials renewing their passports.

Laborers’ Pay Short by 100 Billion Yuan (US$12.5 Billion)

[China Youth Daily, June 9, 2005] According to statistics done by the Beijing Youth Center of Aid and Law Study, by mid-November 2004, the payment of laborers from the countryside was short by around 100 billion yuan (US$12.5 Billion). To compensate for this shortage, the whole society would have to pay at least 300 billion yuan (US$37.5 billion).

This investigation was done through 8,000 questionnaires in eight provinces in China. Among these laborers, 48.1 percent cannot get any part of their salary at all, 30.6 percent reported that their pay was short by from 100 yuan (US$12.50) to 1,000 yuan (US$125), 5.7 percent were short by 1,000 (US$125) to 5,000 yuan (US$625), and 1.6 percent were short by 5,000 yuan (US$625).

"Land Revolution" in Premier Wen Jiabao’s Hometown

[Asian Times, May 22, 2005] Land belonging to villagers in Premier Wen Jiabao’s hometown, Yixingbu Town in Tianjin City, has been taken by force in recent years. Indignant because they have not received proper compensation for their land, around 600 farmers have gathered around the local government compound. They hope that Premier Wen will come back to see what has happened to the village where he grew up. Villagers say that the local government has refused to give any compensation for the land seizures under the pretext of financial insolvency. As much as 100 million yuan (US$12 million) was paid for the villagers’ lands, but currently no one can say for sure where it went.{mospagebreak}

Huang Qi, Creator of the Tian Wang Website, Released

[The Epoch Times, June 5, 2005] Huang Qi, the first Chinese webmaster ever arrested, was released on June 4, 2005, after serving five years in prison. Huang is the creator of the Tian Wang website, which helped more than 70 people locate missing friends and relatives by publishing information and research on cases of missing persons in China. The website also opened a column for those who had been treated unjustly to "speak for themselves," a topic that must have offended the authorities. On June 3, 2001, the day before the 12th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre, he was arrested in Sichuan Province and charged with "subversion." He was sentenced to five years in prison that August. In an interview with the BBC, Huang said he was ordered to sleep on the floor next to the toilet for the first year he was in jail. He was also severely beaten, resulting in several lost teeth and serious bodily injury. He suffered from headaches, eczema, and heart disease. His request for treatment at a hospital in Chengdu was refused. He denied the criminal charge of subversion and insisted it did not apply to him.

Huang said, "If someone in China fights for democracy and freedom, he is then accused of being a member of the June 4th incident, Falun Gong or pro-democracy activists. I am definitely going to tell the Chinese regime that I am one of them and proud of it."

Shi Tao Given Chinese Youth Human Rights Award

[Radio Free Asia, June 2, 2005] Shi Tao, a Chinese poet and reporter, was named the recipient of the Chinese Youth Human Rights Award. The award committee in the United States declared on June 1, 2005, that the winner of the fifth Chinese Youth Human Rights Award would be Shi Tao, commending his conscience and courage in spreading the ideology of freedom and democracy. Shi Tao used to be editorial director of The Modern Business News in Changsha City, Hunan Province. In 2004, the Central Propaganda Department sent a summary to the editors of the paper specifying that certain items could not be reported, including specifically, information about the commemoration activities for the 15th anniversary of the June 4th democracy movement, and about strictly preventing pro-democracy activists from crossing the border. Shi Tao took some notes, wrote some critical comments about these violations of the freedom of the press, and then submitted them to the U.S.-based Democracy Net. He was arrested in October 2004. In March 2005, Shi Tao was sentenced to 10 years in prison for "Illegally providing national secrets to foreigners." He received the Chinese Youth Human Rights Award while in prison.{mospagebreak}

Anti-Corruption Reporter’s Health Deteriorates in Prison

[The Epoch Times, May 25, 2005] The Committee to Protect Journalists, headquartered in New York, issued a statement concerning the health of reporter Jiang Weiping, who has been imprisoned for exposing corruption within the Chinese Communist Party. The prison authorities have barred Jiang from reading books or making phone calls.

Jiang Weiping was the northeast China bureau chief for Hong Kong-based Wenhui Bao newspaper. In 1998, he wrote a series of reports about corruption in the high-level leadership in Liaoning Province. By the end of 1999, Jiang was dismissed by Wenhui Bao under pressure from China’s National Security Department. In December 2000, he was arrested by the National Security Agency in Dalian and arraigned for "revealing state secrets." In May 2001, Jiang was sentenced to eight years in prison during a secret trial for, among other crimes, "damaging national security." The Committee to Protect Journalists awarded Jiang an International Press Freedom Award on November 20, 2001.

Twenty Branch Managers from the Bank of China Dismissed

[China Youth Daily, June 3, 2005] In a recent move involving personnel reshuffling at the Bank of China, 20 second-level branch managers have been dismissed from their positions. Most of these branches are in the Northeast and Guangdong Province, with a few in Shangxi Province, Hebei Province, and Shenzhen City. The bank’s spokesperson claimed that the main reason for the massive layoffs was because of inappropriate management that had a negative influence or caused huge monetary losses.

812,000 in Western Guangdong Lack Drinking Water

[Information Times, May 23, 2005] Drought in western Guangdong is causing drinking water difficulties for as many as 812,000 people. A water information update from the Guangdong Hydrology Bureau indicates that the biggest "flood" since the rainy season occurred at noon on May 21 in the North River in southern Guangdong. Yet, the water came and left in a hurry. The water levels in the major rivers in the provincethe West, East, and Han riversfell again in just two days. Normally, spring and summer are rainy seasons in southern Guangdong. Thus, the insufficient water this year forecasts a severe drought.

Chinese People Dislike the China-Russia Border Agreement

[The Epoch Times, June 6, 2005] On June 2, 2005, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs from China and Russia officially exchanged the Supplemental Border Agreement, which had been approved by the supreme legislative bodies of both countries. For consecutive days, China’s media was reporting, "China has peacefully resolved the China-Russia border issue," and "China takes back Heixiazi Island," omitting the fact that China will relinquish the 1.5 million square kilometer (0.56 million square mile) national territory occupied by Russia. Some people appealed on the Internet to establish the "China Outer North East History Study Association" aiming at long-term recovery of the national territory bordered by Heilongjiang, Outer-Xinan Mountain, and the Wusuli River.{mospagebreak}

Milk Powder Causes "Big-Head" Baby Disease

[Xinhuanet, May 25, 2005] Eight-month-old Wang Mingyu from Handan, Hebei Province, developed what Chinese doctors have called "big head disease," a condition in which the baby’s head swells due to malnutrition and has been found in babies fed with fake milk products in China. Despite two weeks of treatment, little Mingyu still had a swollen face and gray hair. She has gained less than six pounds since birth. Her grandma says that Mingyu has been consistently fed with the same Hailaer brand powdered milk. According to state media, as many as 200 babies have developed "big head disease" from drinking fake infant formulas and milk powders.

Underground Churches in Jilin Province Searched and 600 Christians Arrested

[Voice of America, June 10, 2005] Recently the Chinese authorities launched a surprise attack on more than 100 underground churches in Jilin Province and arrested 600 Christians, including university professors and students attending Bible studies held in the universities.According to the China Aid Association (CAA) headquarters in the United States, on May 25, 2005, every local police station in Changchun City launched a surprise attack on 100 unregistered underground Christian churches and detained 600 Christians, most of whom were students and university professors. On June 27, CAA reported that it had received several credible reports from China that a nationwide campaign against unregistered house churches was also underway. Numerous house churches have been raided in recent weeks, hundreds were arrested and many are still in prison.

210 Million Counterfeit Yuan Seized in First Quarter in Mainland China

[The Epoch Times, May 25, 2005] In the first quarter of 2005, 210 million in counterfeit yuan (approximately US$25.4 million) was seized in mainland China, with counterfeit money activities mostly concentrated in Guangdong and Henan provinces.

Many farmers in eastern Guangdong Province are reportedly involved in printing the counterfeits; some are even incorporated into printing lines set up like domestic workshops. Counterfeiting technology is increasingly advanced. Some counterfeit bills even carry the anti-counterfeiting technology.