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The United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura announced on
April 7 in Paris that Mr. Cheng Yizhong, the former Chief Editor of Southern Metropolis News (SMN), was named as the laureate of the World Press Freedom Prize 2005, on the recommendation of an independent jury of media professionals from all over the world.

Chinese Journalist Cheng Yizhong Awarded World Press Freedom Prize 2005

[The Epoch Times report, April 8, March 27] The United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura announced on April 7 in Paris that Mr. Cheng Yizhong, the former Chief Editor of Southern Metropolis News (SMN), was named as the laureate of the World Press Freedom Prize 2005, on the recommendation of an independent jury of media professionals from all over the world. Kavi Chongkittavorn, executive editor of the Bangkok English-language daily The Nation, who chaired the jury, declared: “Mr. Cheng represents Chinese journalism at its best; he speaks out for the weak and keeps the strong in check. His courageous outspokenness has contributed to raising public awareness in China.”

Mr. Cheng, now living in Beijing, was imprisoned for 5 months in China. His wife and other sources believe he was arrested for having reported news that irritated the Chinese government. In March 2003, SMN revealed that Sun Zhigang, a university graduate, was beaten to death at the Guangzhou Temporary Custody Center. He was dismissed from the newspaper group thereafter. Upon obtaining the award, Mr. Cheng said, “Thanks UNESCO for awarding me this World Press Freedom Prize. Now I feel very relieved and comforted, but I also feel sad. All we have done is act according to our conscience. Unfortunately we have to pay a price for following our conscience.”


Sale of Uranium Mine to China Causes Concern About Nuclear Arms Expansion

[The Epoch Times report, April 8] The Howard government of Australia started negotiations with the Chinese government for Australia to sell uranium ore to China because of its urgent need for energy. A treaty will be signed for the transaction in 12 months. In order to meet its energy need, China indicated it would increase its nuclear power capacity by expanding the current nine nuclear power plants. The negotiations raised the question as to whether these uranium mines will be further used in making nuclear weapons in China. While discussing the export of uranium ore to China, Australia’s foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, informed Congress in March that this transaction will proceed only if China agrees that these uranium mines will not be used in making nuclear weapons, not given to other countries, and will be kept safely.{mospagebreak}


Taiwan Stations for Xinhua News Agency and People’s Daily Suspended

[Central News Agency report, April 10] The Chairman of the Mainland Committee of the Executive Department of the government of Taiwan, Mr. Wu Zhaoxie, expressed that Chinese media coming to Taiwan only report the extreme opinions in Taiwan politics. On the other hand, China strictly blocks the news reports from Taiwan media, including the network news, electronic newspapers, and so on. Having China’s media remain in Taiwan provides no help in promoting mutual understanding across the straits. Therefore the Taiwan government will suspend the offices of the two biggest official Chinese media, Xinhua News Agency and People’s Daily in Taiwan.

Responding to criticism that the move may hinder freedom of the press, Mr. Wu stressed that, Xinhua News Agency and People’s Daily are government-controlled media. Their reports about Taiwan have been extreme and negative all along. The government’s decision has nothing to do with freedom of the press.


The Marine Region near Zhujiangkou Becoming Dead Sea Due to Pollution

[Boxun report, April 8] An investigation by Sea Geology Investigation Bureau of Guangzhou of the geological environment in the Zhujiang Delta found that approximately 95% of the sea water near Zhujiangkou has been seriously polluted by heavy metals, inorganic nitrogen, petroleum and other deleterious substances. If the pollution is not effectively treated, all fish and shrimp will disappear and the sea will become a “dead sea” in China.


Chinese Stock Market: Company Management’s Dream Factory of Sudden Wealth

[China Youth Daily report, April 7] Of the public companies that have already disclosed annual reports, there are 160 persons in high-ranking management whose wealth is worth tens of millions, 48 of them being over the hundreds of millions, nearly 50% more than in 2003. In contrast, 70 million investors have ended up losing money due to prolonged market slide. Recent statistical data indicated that the market declined from the highest point of 2,245 in June 2001 to the recent low point of 1,162.{mospagebreak}


Hundreds of Policemen and Officials Injured in a Clash with Farmers in Zhejiang Province

[BBC report, April 11] Farmers in Huaxi Village of Dongyang City, Zhejiang Province, held a protest on April 10 against the local chemical factories that are seriously polluting the environment. The protest resulted in violence. Approximately 100 policemen and local officials were injured.

Dongyang City is located in the middle of Zhejiang Province. Several years ago, the Zhuxi chemical industry constructed a garden in Huaxi village and caused serious pollution to the local area. The villagers of Huaxi village appealed for help many times, but the local government never resolved the issue. A local villager said that the enterprises’ pollution in the chemical industry garden affected their lives. Pregnant women deliver abnormal fetuses because of poisonous gas in the air. On hot summer nights, the villagers have to close their windows when they sleep due to the strong smell. The villagers says that they are fighting to defend their lives.
Corruption in Advanced Education Institutions Brought to Attention

[Xinhua News Agency, April 9] Corruption in Chinese advanced educational institutions has already been brought to the attention of authorities. In some colleges, kickbacks are offered for purchasing textbooks and teaching equipment. Academic corruption and bribery in the process of recruiting students have aroused public resentment. According to the report, the focus of the anti-corruption campaign has shifted to the domain of education.


360 Million Chinese People Lack Safe Drinking Water

[BBC report, March 23] A Chinese government official stated that about 360 million Chinese people don’t have safe water to drink. Moreover, they acknowledged that 70% of the country’s rivers and lakes have been polluted. This demonstrates once more how China’s high rate of economic development has hugely impacted the environment. China’s water sources are drying up; industrial waste as well as unprocessed sewage has turned the rivers black.


Landslide and Jerrybuilt Project Causes Major Train Accident

[The Asian Times report, March 18] On March 17, a landslide caused a severe train traffic accident at Wangdian Village, Wangdian Township, Youjiang District, Guanxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. A cargo train from Kunming to Nanning City went off the tracks; several cabins fell off of the railroad bridge. The locomotive and cabins were all severely damaged, with at least 8 confirmed deaths on the train. The landslide was suspected to be the result of jerrybuilt projects.{mospagebreak}


Civil Organizations Required to Register

[Asian Times report, March 26] In a recent move to place civil organizations in China under control, Beijing authorities issued a notice requiring all civil, social, and science organizations to register and their business scope to be examined. In recent years, many civil organizations have emerged by registering through the industry and commerce administration, avoiding the complicated examination and approval procedures of the Bureau of Civil Executive Administration. They have become an active civil force in Beijing. Among them are former Chinese Communist Party General Secretary’s think tank member, Mr. Cao Siyuan, who established the Beijing Siyuan Social Sciences Research Center and legal scholar Mr. Xu Zhiyong who organized the Sunshine Constitutional Policy Research Institute. These civil organizations mostly operate in compliance with the law. However, they have also played an active role in some of the sensitive social events such as the “Sun Zhigang Case,” the “Sun Dawu Case” and so on. Their existence seems to have caused some leaders to be concerned. Therefore, Beijing suddenly launched this attack.


Over 10,000 Homes Collapsed Due to Snow Melting in Xinjiang

[Central News Agency report, March 24] Local officials of Xinjiang Province stated that more than 10,000 homes collapsed within the province due to flooding from snow melting and more than 25,000 homes were damaged due to the flooding and landslides. Officials from Ili Kazak Autonomous Region told Agence France Press that at least one person and over 5,000 livestock died, 796 hectares of farming land were flooded, and more than 3,000 people became homeless due to the disaster.


CCP Targets Media and BBS for Ideology Control

[The Epoch Times report, March 25] Recently, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) warned many media and closed out some BBS websites. The Chinese Propaganda Ministry also called a special face-to-face meeting with the directors of propaganda departments from the provinces and municipalities of three newspapers and sent two officials to the Guangdong Southern Newspapers Syndicate to solidify control of the newspapers at the management level. According to the most recent report from Asian Weekly, the CCP Propaganda Department recently warned The First Finance and Economics in Shanghai, The Economic Observers in Beijing and The 21st Century Economy Report in Guangzhou “not to make negative reports in the next three months.”{mospagebreak}

Hong Kong Phoenix TV’s broadcasting to mainland China was cut off after the station reported on the moral corruption of the CCP Deputy Secretary and the Director of Organization Department of Shangxi Province. The Propaganda Ministry immediately informed the TV station not to broadcast similar reports, including the news of Chinese senior officials being demoted. Moreover, the Ministry of Education closed many university BBS forums. The Minister of Education, Zhouji, said that it is a new challenge to manage students’ political thoughts, because the university students do not read newspapers and watch TV but obtain information mainly from the Internet.


The Propaganda Ministry of China Issues New Regulation on Managing Journalists

[United Daily News report, March 22] the CCP Propaganda Ministry announced a new regulation regarding the news reporting work done by the 150,000 reporters in the country. The CCP Propaganda Ministry, The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, and the State Press and Publication Administration jointly announced the regulation (draft). The regulation requires that news reporters abide by the rules established by the Party, keep the Party and the nation’s secrets, report primarily on the bright side of the society and do not “exaggerate” the dark side. It also requires that the reporters have their names published along with their articles. The regulation also enacted the rules of punishment. Violators will be subject to punishment ranging from suspension of their license to a lifetime ban on reporting work.


Ancient Weapon from Qin Dynasty Found Stainless After 2000 Years

[The Epoch Times report, March 18] “The Chin Shihhuang Burial Warriors and Horses Large-Scale National Treasure Exhibition” is on display in the Hunan Province Museum. The exhibition includes a bronze sword, a copper spear, and a copper crossbow that were unearthed from the Chin Shihhuang (the emperor’s) Tomb. Although the weapons have been buried underground for more than 2,000 years, they miraculously don’t have any rust stains. Experts believe that the excellent preservation results from the chemistry of chrome-plating technology, which may have actually existed in China 2,000 years ago.


The Russian Tax Police Investigate Illegal Chinese Products in Russia

[Central News Agency report, April 20] The Russian tax police confiscated Chinese shoes worth over 80 million yuan (US$10 million) from Chinese businessmen in Moscow because they lacked the proper customs declaration documentation. Although the Chinese Embassy in Moscow expressed concern through diplomatic, economic and trade avenues, it is unlikely that they will get the product back. The Chinese businessmen involved do not have valid documents because all the import procedures were coordinated through an intermediary company.{mospagebreak}


China’s Central Bank Adjusts Interest Rate for Residential Loans

On March 17, the People’s Bank of China announced that beginning on March 17, new applications for individual housing loans would no longer have the preferential benefit interest rate. The five-year loan rate will increase from 5.31% to 6.12%, an increase of 0.81 percent. The last increase of the loan base rate occurred on October 29, 2004.


China Helps Zimbabwe to Interfere With an Anti-Government Broadcast Station

[VOA report, March 22] With China’s help, Zimbabwe interferes with an anti-government broadcasting station. Reporters Without Borders said that since March 7, the Zimbabwe government has been constantly interfering with the broadcast of African Short Wave Radio. This radio station is located in London, England. All the staff members are exiled Zimbabwe reporters. Reporters Without Borders sent a letter to the United Nations International Communication Alliance, requesting an investigation of the situation. The Organization said in their response letter that China has transferred the technology to Zimbabwe. With help from China, the Zimbabwe government has cruelly trampled freedom of the press.