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News Briefs

An Overview of What’s Happening in China.

Foreign Species Invading China Cause $US6.9 Billion in Damage Each Year 

[Xinhuanet report, May 18, 2005] More than 400 species not native to China have invaded the country. Characterized by their huge populations, rapid propagation, and reproduction unchecked by natural enemies, these species are causing enormous losses to Chinese agricultural and forestry industries. It is estimated that the economic loss due to these nonindigenous species amounts to 57 billion yuan (US$6.9 billion) each year.

The most recent statistics from the Agriculture Ministry of China shows that at least 380 foreign plant species, 40 animal species, and 23 microbes have aggressively invaded China. Their establishment in China has severely damaged local agriculture and the ecosystem. A researcher at the Plant Protection Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences says that nonindigenous species are invading almost everywhere in China. Thus far, these invading species have been found in all Chinese provinces, administrative regions and cities. This researcher explained that the pine nematode, scale, the caterpillar moth, and other forest insects have infested 1.5 million hectares (3.7 million acres) of land.

Exorbitant College Tuition Frightens Farmers’ Children in China

[China Youth Daily report, May 11, 2005] College education is exacting increasingly high tuition and fees in mainland China. This worries more and more families whose children are graduating from high school. The government research center at Jilin Province conducted a survey at a high school in its Farm Serenity County. The result showed that as many as 28.7% of students who participated in the survey expressed their fear of not being able to enroll in college because their families could not afford the "exorbitant" tuition and fees for a college education.

"Falling into poverty because of the expense of higher education" has become one of the toughest hardships in China’s countryside, where more than two-thirds of the 1.3 billion Chinese reside. It is reported that a farmer’s average net income in Jilin was 3,000 yuan (US$361) in 2004. In contrast, tuition and fees for a college student averages around 11,800 yuan (US$1,422) per year. As a result, once their children get admitted into college after years of hard work and passing a highly competitive standard examination, parents have to borrow a lot. Half of these families have to "raise money" through high-interest loans. More worrisome is the unfair and sluggish job market that these farmers’ children have to face upon graduation from college.{mospagebreak} 

Taiwan President Questions the Sincerity of Communist China’s Gifts

[China Broadcast News, May 9, 2005] After Lien Chan, president of Taiwan’s opposition Kuomintang or National party, visited China, the mainland presented three gifts to Taiwan: a panda, a tariff exemption for agricultural imports from Taiwan, and mainland tourists to Taiwan. President Chen Shui-bian expressed his concern about these gifts in light of the Communists’ previous sly treatment of Taiwanese businessmen. Chen cautioned Taiwan farmers to be careful in reacting to the tariff exemption for exports of Taiwan agricultural products to China. He expressed that Taiwan farmers should not get trapped there to become "farm slaves." As far as the panda is concerned, this gift should be reviewed under the international convention of endangered species. President Chen also voiced concern that mainland tourists to Taiwan might try to stay illegally in Taiwan, and that if they were sincere, they should take back the 2,000 illegal immigrants detained in Taiwan. "A good talk should also be conducted between the governments," says Chen.

China Has the Highest Number of Computers Manipulated by Hackers

[Voice of America report, May 9, 2005] Cybertrust, a network security service company based in Virginia, reports that more and more unprotected computers in China are manipulated by hackers as more Chinese go online. These online computers could be used as bases for cyber-attacks.

According to statistics from its most recent survey, Cybertrust revealed that an average of 150,700 computers were hijacked daily by hackers. Computers coming from China account for one-fifth of them. China as a nation is experiencing the fastest increase of network users and the total network accounts are close to 100 million. Unfortunately, China also suffers from the biggest increase in hacker activities due to a lack of education on network security.

Tiananmen Square Closed on May 4 To Prevent Student and Anti-Japanese Demonstrations

[The Epoch Times report, May 4, 2005] Beijing’s Tiananmen Square was closed to the public on Wednesday for a government-organized coming-of-age ceremony for the 18-year-olds, an apparent attempt to thwart any student demonstrations. Wednesday marked the 86th anniversary of the May Fourth Movement of 1919, and also of the beginning of the student democracy protests on May 4, 1989. There was concern that protesters would gather in Beijing.

This move was also intended to prevent a new round of anti-Japanese demonstrators from gathering on the Square. Police were all told to withhold their leave and were put on full alert to monitor sensitive locations and university campuses. Similarly, university officials warned the students that their registration would be revoked if they participate in demonstrations.{mospagebreak}

Chongqing Qijiang Coal Mine Sells Adulterated Coal Mixed with Gangue

[The Epoch Times, May 4, 2005] Recently, due to the energy shortage, the price of coal for generating electric power has soared in China. The huge price difference drives some coal suppliers to illegally mix coal with gangue powder. Coal adultery at the Qijiang coal mine is so rampant that 6 tons of gangue was mixed into 10 tons of coal.

Gangue is a byproduct of coal mining. With a grayish black color, gangue is very similar to coal in appearance but somewhat heavier than coal. It contains very little combustible material and therefore is much cheaper than coal. Regulation requires that gangue can only be used in designated power plants. Some is used in making brick and tile.

Authorities in Hebei Disband Underground Church Study Group

[Voice of America report, April 28, 2005] Chinese authorities disbanded a church study group, organized by eight Roman Catholic priests in Zhengding, Hebei Province. It was reported that the Chinese government tightened control over underground Catholics in China after Pope John Paul II passed away. The study group mainly studied Catholic rituals and mourned Pope John Paul II. They also prayed for the new Pope Benedict XVI and for a good relationship between the Vatican and China.

The study group met at the Wuqiu Church of Jingzhou City associated with Cardinal Jia Zhiguo, who is recognized by the Vatican. There are 60,000 to 70,000 underground Catholics in his church district. Due to his allegiance to the Vatican, Chinese authorities have continuously monitored or even jailed Cardinal Jia.

China Launches Large-Scale Arrests Before Implementing New "Petition Rule"

[The Epoch Times report, April 29, 2005] China Human Rights received a report from mainland China indicating that before May 1 (a national holiday in China), large-scale arrests, detention, and beating of petitioners occurred in Beijing, Shanghai, the Northeast, and many other provinces before the implementation of a new "Petition Rule." Places where petitioners stayed were searched and cleared. It is said that this is a coordinated effort by the government to implement a new Petition Rule, minimizing the number of petitioners as well as stabilizing the "social order" during the "May 1 International Labor Day" holiday.{mospagebreak}

Japan Intercepted Chinese Military Aircraft 13 Times Last Year

[Liberty Times report, May 2, 2005] An official from the Japanese Defense Bureau said that Japanese air defense forces intercepted Chinese military aircraft as many as 13 times last year. In 2003 there were only two such incidents. This official revealed, on condition of remaining anonymous, that several among those Chinese military aircrafts invading Japanese air space were reconnaissance planes. These Chinese aircraft left immediately upon interception and there was no serious confrontation. Chinese naval vessels also infringed on Japanese territorial waters and alerted Japan’s self-defense force.

Beijing Strengthens Economic and Trade Relations with Southeast Asian Countries

[The Epoch Times, April 27, 2005] Hu Jintao arrived in Manila, Philippines, on April 26 for a three-day visit and announced a US$300 million low-interest loan to the Philippines. The money will be used to construct railroads connecting Manila and the provinces in Northern China. The project is expected to create 17,000 jobs for the Philippines. Chinese iron and steel companies will also sign an agreement of a US$800 million investment plan in the Philippines. In addition, following the meeting of Hu Jintao and Indonesian President Susilo the previous Sunday in Jakarta, China and Indonesia signed nine bilateral agreements, including agreements on strengthening bilateral trade, investment, and maritime affairs cooperation.

Dalai Lama: Young Panchen Lama Still Under House Arrest

[BBC report, April 26, 2005] April 25 was the 16th birthday of the Tibetan spiritual "Holy Boy," Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. The Dalai Lama confirmed that the Chinese government still has Gedhun Choekyi Nyima under house arrest, making him the youngest political prisoner in the world. Many Tibetans expressed their anger toward the atheist Chinese government for its blatant interference with their religious freedom. Beijing authorities have used Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the Tenth Panchen Lama reincarnated as a young boy, as a chess piece against the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama confirmed that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is the second most important spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, the reincarnated Panchen Lama. But Beijing refused the arrangement and picked its own version of a "young Panchen Lama." After Gedhun Choekyi Nyima disappeared, the China State Council announced that he was being "protected" by the Chinese government. Beijing refuses to disclose his whereabouts.{mospagebreak}

Corruption Starts at a Younger Age And Embezzlement Is More Direct

[Jing Bao from Hong Kong report, April 25, 2005] An investigation of corruption cases from 2002 to 2004 by Beijing’s Fengtai Court revealed that the main criminal offenders were from the younger generation and that the methods of fraud were more direct. Since 2002, the Fengtai Court has tried 23 embezzlement cases. Among the 25 people involved, 7 people were in their 30s, accounting for 28.6% of the offenders. Nineteen of them were management-level officials, such as factory managers, department managers, chief economists and so on, accounting for 76% of the 23 embezzlement cases.

The Chinese Government Intensifies Its Suppression of Falun Gong Once Again

[The Epoch Times report, April 25, 2005] As the sixth anniversary of the suppression of Falun Gong by the Chinese Communist Party is approaching, Chinese Public Security has once again launched a new wave of nationwide cruelty toward Falun Gong. According to the Falun Gong website Minghui April 22 news, the Chinese Government issued a secret document (on red letterhead) in March calling for a nationwide ransacking of the homes of Falun Gong practitioners. The current campaign is a nationwide unified action and is the largest since July 20, 1999. According to a report from Agence France-Presse on April 24, the Beijing public security police stated, "The Chinese Government categorized Falun Gong as an anti-revolutionary political organization," and said "distributing Falun Gong flyers or carrying Falun Gong materials or engaging in any (Falun Gong) related activities is illegal. Anyone who possesses Falun Gong materials must be investigated."

China’s "Public Spending" Amounts To 700 Billion Yuan (US$85 Billion) in 2004

[China Economical Times report, April 21, 2005] In 2004, China’s three public spending amounted to 700 billion yuan (US$85 billion), with 300 billion for travel and vehicle expenses, 200 billion for food and wine, and another 200 billion on traveling abroad. (Note: In China, "three public spending" refers to using government money on food and wine, government vehicles, and traveling abroad.){mospagebreak}

Illegal Immigration of Mainlanders to Taiwan Increases Sharply

[The Liberty Times report, April 16, 2005] The Taiwan Coastal Patrol reported at the Land Commission Committee meeting that mainlanders are flooding into Taiwan and some are engaged in illegal activities. Since smuggling oneself across the ocean has become increasingly risky, in recent years smugglers have gradually turned to other avenues (some legal and some illegal) such as arranging a fake marriage, visiting relatives, sightseeing, using fake identification, or disguising themselves as mainland fishermen, to enter Taiwan in order to avoid a security search. This trend is still continuing.

Nearly 70% of Chinese Companies Limit Hiring of Female College Graduates

[The Guangzhou Daily report, April 15, 2005] According to statistics, from 1998 to 2002, the number of female graduates from college increased twofold, accounting for 44% of the total student population. A survey in 62 cities by the Labor and Social Security Department showed that 67% of employers are guilty of sex discrimination in their hiring policy, limiting the hiring of female graduates or restricting female employees to no pregnancy during employment. According to a survey among 2005 postgraduate students in a university, over 70% of the students believed that an employer would consider male graduates first. This indicates that female college graduates are facing a tougher job market.

Shortage of 6 Billion Cubic Meters Of Water in China’s Urban Area Reported

[Xinhuanet report, March 22, 2005] Vice Minister Qiu Baoxing of the Chinese Construction Ministry said that in China’s urban areas, the water shortage amounts to 6 billion cubic meters. More than 100 cities above the county level in 11 provinces and metropolitan regions are experiencing a water shortage. The water supply is severely strained in 56% of these cities. China only has one-fourth of the water resources per capita of the world. The situation is further worsened by uneven distribution of the water resources and by water pollution.