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News Briefs

An Overview of What’s Happening in China.

Supporters of Xinjiang Independence Condemn CCP for Arresting Over 700 Uighurs

[The Epoch Times report, February 19] East Turkistan Information Center, an organization engaged in the Xinjiang independence movement, condemned the Chinese government for the large-scale arrest of Uighurs before the Chinese New Year to ensure the political stability of Yili area and to prevent any incident like the Yili Event on February 5, 1997.

The center accused the Chinese government of fabricating rumors that Islamic forces planned to blow up the Yili River Bridge, occupy Chabuchaer, and establish a military base. Under the pretext of this rumor, the Chinese government has dispatched 3,000 soldiers and 10 tanks in the west of Chabuchaer County and arrested more than 700 Uighurs in Yining City and the surrounding areas.

China’s Electric Power Short by20-25 Million Kilowatts

China Electricity Council has predicted a peak power shortage of 20 to 25 million kilowatts in 2005, according to a February 27, 2005 report by Hong Kong Commercial Daily. While this would be less of a shortage than last year, China still faces a serious power shortage problem.

The Secretary General of the China Electricity Council announced that newly installed generators and a nationwide investment of 25,000 kilometers of 220 kV transmission lines, with a total transformation capacity of 140 million kVA, will provide an additional 70 million kilowatts.

“SARS” Minister Promoted to Political Consultative Conference Deputy Director

[The Epoch Times report, March 2] The tenth session of the Eighth Chinese National Political Consultative Conference ended on February 28 in Beijing after passing many personnel-related matters, including increasing 80 seats in the tenth Political Consultative Conference national committee. Most noticeable of the new appointees is former Minister of Health Zhang Wenkang, who was ousted for concealing the SARS epidemic. He has now been elected as the Deputy Director for the Education, Science, Arts, Health and Athletics Committee.

800,000 College Graduates to Be Unemployed This Year

[Central News Agency Taipei report, February 17] According to a survey by the Shanghai Academy of Social Science, nearly four million college students will graduate in 2005. Among them are 800,000 who will become unemployed immediately after graduation.

Yang Xiong, Director of the Institute on Juvenile Studies and of the Social Survey Center, said only 5% of the Chinese employed population has an associate degree or above. The supply of college graduates hasn’t exceeded the total demand.

According to Yang, however, the fast growth of higher education since 1998 is causing a 20-30% annual increase in college graduates, or about 1.5 million more graduates per year. This exceeds the expansion of the employment market.

Private Guard Business Booms in China

[RFA report, February 15] Years ago, before the establishment of the People’s Republic, merchants often hired private guards when shipping goods to prevent themselves from being robbed. Now the same business has reemerged in Yi Wu city in Zhejiang Province.
Yi Wu is the biggest Chinese small commodities distribution center, with frequent cash transactions and many robberies. With the support of the police department, the Yi Wu City Security Service Company now provides a “compensated escort service.” The company charges 100 yuan (US$12) per hour for an escort unit of one police vehicle and two to four fully armed guards for additional security.

Inside Story: Bribery for Coal Mining Rights

[Xinhuanet News, February 25] A coal mine owner in Changzhi County, Shanxi Province, admitted that paying a three million yuan (US$362,000) bribe to a government official would be worth it if he could get a coal mine with a 100,000-ton annual output that would last 10 years. Such a mine would provide roughly 7 million yuan (US$843,000) per year in revenue, so the first year’s income would pay for the bribery. The income in the remaining nine years would be the mine owner’s to keep.

Mr. Lu, a coal mine owner in Qingshuihe County, Neimonggu Province, said the price of raw coal had reached 120 yuan (US$14.5) per ton on site, and that it would be impossible to get a coal mine without paying 10 to 20 million yuan (US$1.2 to 2.4 million) in bribes. None of the money would be used for the construction of the mine. Instead, it would go to the cost of establishing “connections.” The cost of opening a mine has not increased.

Coal Mine Owners Are Not Afraid of Mining Accidents

[News Morning report, February 20] Recent high coal prices have affected the coal industry in China, causing overproduction and distorting views on mining safety. Coal mine owners regard the miners as cheap machines for high production. Last year, 20 of the 27 mainland coal production provinces surpassed production quotas. Nineteen provinces exceeded production quotas more than 10%, while Fujian, Shanxi and Beijing overproduced by more than 50%. According to a worker at the Tela Pula mine in the Mongolian mining region: “The capacity of our coal mine is 150,000 tons. Because sales are good, we put out 250,000 tons in 2003 and about 400,000 tons in 2004.” The miner added that his mine does not have strict design standards for capacity, and increased capacity is achieved by increasing the number of workers, increasing work hours and widening delivery belts.

The drive for overproduction also affects the view on mining accidents. According to convention, when one mine suffers an accident production is suspended for all mines in the areacausing coal shortages and climbing prices. As said by a Shanxi area coal mine owner: “Compared to the profits gained as a result of soaring prices, losses due to mining accidents are simply nothing.”

Shenzhen Workers Strike, Protest Hidden Pay Cut

[Central News Agency Taipei report, February 27] Over a thousand workers held a labor strike at a print shop in Shenzhen to protest a concealed pay cut to their salaries. Around 200 local police officers were at the scene to maintain order.

The manufacturing facility where the strike took place was established through the sole ownership of a Hong Kong businessman in March of 1990. It now hires a staff of more than one thousand and takes printing orders for books and magazines from Hong Kong, Taiwan and overseas. Protesters claimed that their salary was 380 yuan (US$46) per month for a 40-hour week, including food and lodging. But the factory suddenly raised the workers’ wages to 480 yuan (US$60) per month, but requested that they work a 50-hour week, while also paying an extra 150 yuan (US$18) each month for food and lodging.

Armed Police Patrol Downtown Urumqi

[The Urumqi Evening News report, March 1] In the last few months the Urumqi municipal Public Security Bureau has carried out significant reforms on police patrols. Now, more than one hundred fully armed policemen patrol the most prosperous business areas in the city on foot. In addition to batons, tear-gas, and riot gear, they are armed with handguns and miniature submachine guns. According to the report, this is the first time that police in Urumqi have been provided with such equipment for routine patrols.

Anhui Agricultural Bank Manager Investigated for Embezzlement

[The Epoch Times report, February 23] Zhang Wei, former general manager at the Anhui Province Agricultural Bank, was tried for embezzlement of funds on February 21, 2005. The more than yearlong investigation, which involved five provinces and cities, was conducted by the Hefei City Yaohai District Attorney’s Office anti-corruption bureau. According to reports from the Anhui Markets Newspaper, the case not only involved staff at Anhui Agricultural Bank but also, white collar crimes committed through sophisticated computer methods, involved staff in different securities industries. The complex case has made for a challenging investigation.

Real Estate Tops the 10 Most Profitable Professions in 2004

[International Finance Newspaper report, February 8] For the third year in a row, real estate was ranked the most profitable profession by the Guanzhou municipal Party Committee magazine Gong Ming. Their list of the 10 most profitable professions in 2004 includes real estate, funeral services, driving schools, building highways, electric power, cable TV, medical services, education, educational publishing and Internet gaming industries.

Shanghai Officials Violate Private Sector Policy

[The Epoch Times report, February 23] On January 25th, 2005, Hongkou district magistrate Cheng Guangzheng’s resignation from his post was officially accepted and at the same time he became CEO of Sanlin Groups China. Cheng is only one of many officials who are resigning from their posts for high-level jobs in the private sector, despite an official policy that stipulates “officials cannot serve in private enterprises within three years of leaving their offices.”

In 2001, Shanghai announced a similar policy, stating that government officials cannot serve as chairmen of the board or CEOs of private companies within three years of leaving office. In reality, these policies are not being followed. Last year, former Shanghai officials Wang Hongquan and Ying Minghong left their respective positions for chairman of the board positions in different companies.

Deputy Party Chief of the Chinese Academy of Science Sued in New York

[The Epoch Times report, February 24] On February 23, 2005, visiting Chinese official Guo Chuanjie was served with civil lawsuit papers and a court subpoena while visiting Battery Park in New York City. Guo is the Party Deputy Chief of the Chinese Academy of Science, and the Deputy Head of the “Lead Team in Handling the Falun Gong Issue” at the academy. Guo is being sued in New York for his participation in the persecution of Falun Gong in China.

New Appointees at the National Security Bureau

[Xinhua News Agency report, March 1] Yesterday the State Council announced Li Yizhong, former assistant director of the state-owned property surveillance management committee, as chief of the National Production Security Surveillance Bureau. In addition,
Wang Xianzheng, Wang Dexue, Sun Huashan, and Liang Jiakun have been appointed assistant commissioners for the bureau. Other newly appointed staff include Zhao Tiechui as chief and Fu Jianhua and Wang Shuhe as assistant commissioners of the National Coal Mine Security Bureau.

Well-Known Dissident Zheng Yichun Arrested

[The Epoch Times report, February 27] Zheng Yichun, a well-known scholar, dissident, and Internet activist, was arrested on December 3, 2004, by the Yingkou Public Security Bureau, and placed under house arrest at the Liaohe River Hotel. At the time, public security personnel claimed that Zheng was arrested for being accused of practicing Falun Gong.

Public security personnel also warned Zheng’s family not to disclose his arrest to the public unless they wanted to seriously damage Zheng’s case. Under this threat, his family kept quiet.

But on February 24, 2005, the local Party newspaper Yingkou Daily published an article on Zheng’s arrest, claiming he had broken the criminal law by “instigating anti-government subversion.” This action prompted Zheng’s younger brother Zheng Shaochun to call The Epoch Times and make the facts of his case publicly known.

Public security personnel found 300 articles on Zheng’s computer, and seized 63 so-called “anti-government articles,” claiming them as criminal evidence.

Electricity Costs Rise Again

[Industry and Commerce Times report on February 19] The rapidly rising cost of raw materials and demand for peak electrical power has driven the cost of electricity up in the new year. Sichuan Province recently announced a 7% increase per unit of electrical power, while the cities of Kunshan, Hangzhou and Suzhou also received notification of a possible 5% or higher increase in the cost of electricity starting at the end of the first quarter. According to authorities, power shortages during periods of peak demand could go as high as 12 to 20 megawatts in 2005. In related news, a report on the coal industry released by Shanghai Shenying & Wanguo Securities predicted that the price of coal could hit a historical high this year. Analyst Mu Qizheng estimated that the price for coal used in electricity production could increase 12-17% this year.

Chemical Plant Pollutants Cause Cancer in Tianjin Villages

[Hong Kong East Daily report, March 2] The villages of West Tidou and Liu Kuaizhuang in Tianjin are experiencing cancer rates that are 18 and 30 times higher, respectively, than the national cancer rate. Local doctors point to the 94 chemical plants located near schools and neighborhoods in the area as the reason for such high cancer rates. Li Zijiang and five of his neighbors in Liu Kuaizhuang are all cancer patients. Local villagers say living there is nothing but waiting to die.

Xing Zhengang, the chief of Tianjin Environmental Protection Bureau, acknowledged that some factories’ pollutant dumping in West Tidou containing as high as or in excess of 3,200 times of the environmental protection standard. The City Environmental Protection Bureau examined chemicals in the drinking water at these two villages, and discovered that the quantities of phenol, fluoride, bacteria and intestinal bacteria seriously exceeded the standard.

Four years ago, villager Wang Dehua started appealing for help with the situation. Considered a thorn in the side by the town government, he was eventually accused of “damaging the safety of the town” and was sentenced to one year in a re-education labor camp.

Former Secretary to Hu Yaobang Sues Xi’an Police Station

[The Epoch Times February 23] Lin Mu, former secretary to Hu Yaobang, is prepared to sue the Xi’an police station for his arrest on January 17th and illegal 15-day detention for participating in activities that mourned the death of Zhao Ziyang. Mr. Lin’s attorneys include renowned attorneys such as Zhang Shizhi and Gao Zhimian. According to Chinese law, the Xi’an police station has violated Article 33 and Article 37 of Chapter 2 of the Chinese Constitution, which guarantees equal rights for Chinese citizens and forbids the illegal detention and illegal restriction of citizens’ personal freedom, respectively. According to Liu Junguo, an attorney in the U.S., the petition for the case has been prepared.

Planned Increase in Political Consultative Conference Seats for Hong Kong and Macao

[The Epoch Times report, February 25] Political Consultative Conference permanent committee member Chen Yongqi said after attending the Chinese Political Consultative Conference in Beijing that the central Committee plans to add 11 representatives from Hong Kong and Macao to take the posts of commissar of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. At present, Hong Kong holds 122 seats and Macao has 27.

Japan Urges Beijing to Stop Drilling for Gas and Oil in East China Sea

[VOA report, February 22] An investigation conducted by the Japanese government indicated that the oil and gas drilling at Chun Xiao field in the East China Sea may have caused damage to Japan’s seabed resources. Through diplomatic channels, the Japanese government has requested that China provide official information related to the Chun Xiao field operation in the East China Sea. Japan has also requested that the unilateral drilling business at the Chun Xiao field be stopped. Japan and China don’t see eye to eye in delimiting the boundary in the East China Sea. Japan advocates using the center of the East China Sea as the division, while China insists on using the continental shelf of the seabed as a boundary. Chun Xiao’s drilling site is only a few km. away from the division line advocated by Japan, who fears losing its national resources.

The World Environment Sustainability Index Released: China Among the 14 Worst Countries

[The Epoch Times report, February 20] According to the Swiss Duffus World Economics Forum, among 144 countries and regions worldwide, China’s Environmental Sustainability Index ranked number 133, or the 14th worst. Weiping Wang, a senior engineer for Beijing’s municipal administrative management committee (also the primary advocate of recycling economics in China) stated that the whole world is facing problems, such as resource shortages and environmental pollution. However, the same problems seem more obtrusive in China. China has become the world’s number one consumer of coal and iron ore; it imports the largest amount of rubber, and is the second highest petroleum consumer in the world. In 2003, more than 50% of world’s cement was consumed by China.

70 North Korean Refugees Executed After Deportation by the Chinese Communist Party

[The Epoch Times report, February 12] According to Russian media citing the South Korean news from Friday, February 11, 70 refugees who were arrested within China’s boundaries and deported to North Korea by the Chinese Communist Party were all executed. The North Korean Refugee Assistance Committee – a South Korean organization – made this news public on Friday.

Anhui Of.cial Gambles Away 10 Million Yuan (US$1.2 Million) Appropriated for Residents’ Relocation Funds

[Xinhuanet news, March 3] Xie Zhaojin, the Vice Head of Nihe Town in Panji District of Huainan City in Anhui Province, diverted more than 10 million yuan (US$1.2 million) of farmers’ money for his personal gambling use. He has now surrendered to the authorities. Xie confessed that he started gambling in 2000 and diverted the money that a coal mine awarded to the farmers, as compensation for the damages it caused to their crops, and the demolition of their houses, due to reconstruction.

The World Bank Reports the Living Standard of China’s Farmers 3 Years After China Joins WTO

[Apple Daily report, February 23] The World Bank presented a study entitled “China and the WTO: Accession, Policy Reform, and Poverty Reduction Strategies” on February 22. The report indicated that after admittance to the World Trade Organization, China’s foreign trade has doubled. According to China’s official statistics: in 2001, China’s imports and exports totaled about 4.21 trillion yuan (US$507 billion). At the end of last year, the nation’s foreign trade peaked as high as 9.50 trillion yuan (US$1.14 trillion). The World Bank surveyed more than 84,000 households in Mainland China. Most urban households reported increased income and consumption since admittance to the WTO. However, average overall income for rural households showed a slight decrease of 0.7%. Some poor rural households even experienced a sharp six-percent drop in their living standards.

The CCP Discipline Inspection Cadres Are Under Job Reassignment

[VOA report, February 4] China’s Highest Discipline Investigation Organization, the Discipline Inspection Commission, and the Ministry of Supervision have carried out a large-scale cadre cross-office reassignment. The scale is the largest in history. The
move is to strengthen internal surveillance through the switching of jobs, increasing the dynamics of anticorruption. But critics believe this is only a political show put on by the Hu-Wen administration for the purpose of maintaining the Party control. Such move has never had any effect on preventing the corruption in the past.

Beijing Clamps Down on Campus Bulletin Boards

[The Epoch Times, March 19] Shuimu Tsinghua, a popular bulletin board run by Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University was closed down on March 16 by the authorities. China has blocked off-campus Internet users from accessing several bulletin boards operated by universities as part of a government clampdown on outspoken domestic websites. Shuimu Tsinghua was among the sites sealed to outside participants. Internet bulletin boards at Wuhan and Nankai universities were also barred to outside users earlier this month. On March 18, many students gathered at the famous lawn “action wins over words” at noon to express their dissatisfaction. Such university bulletin boards had become popular forums for discussion of everything from politics to pop culture between students, faculty, graduates and others.

Countryside Contract Workers Hold Beijing University Vice President as Hostage, Demanding Delayed Wages

[Hong Kong Da Gong Bao report, January 30] In an effort to recover delayed wages, more than a hundred contract workers escorted Shen Zhide, Vice President of the Beijing University of Information Engineering, to the top of the 6th floor of a school building, threatening that if they did not receive their pay, they would commit suicide, taking him with them. After an emergency negotiation with local authorities, the workers finally released Shen. The workers asked Shen to immediately pay off what the school owed them for the dormitory building project. Last June, their company was contracted to construct two dormitory buildings for the University; the construction was completed on January 12 of this year. The company was supposed to pay out wages of 13 million yuan (US$1.6 million) to 4,000 workers, but the workers only received 5 million yuan.

Guangdong Resource Shortages Result in New Conservation Policy

[Hong Kong Wenhui Daily report, February 25] The Zhujiang Delta is the industrial center of the world. Over 50,000 capitalist Hong Kong enterprises have established manufacturing facilities in this area. After 20 years of continuous development, the demand for water, electricity, and labor has substantially increased, resulting in a shortage within the past year. As a result, in Dongguan City, Guangdong Province, where most of the manufacturers are located, the city bureau of power has given notification that manufacturing facilities must adhere to an “open five – close two” policy. For each week, the power will be shut off for two days. It has been estimated that the strict implementation of “open five – close two,” even “open four – close three” policy has resulted in an increase of production costs by approximately 30%.

Cancer Becomes the Number One Killer of Chinese Urban Residents

[China News Agency, March 1] Data shows that every year there are 1.6 million cases of malignant tumors among Chinese people, and the death toll amounts to about 1.3 million. On the average, in China, for every five people who have died, one was from cancer. The
five most common cancer types resulting in death for males, (in order) are: lung, liver, stomach, esophagus and large intestine cancer. Among females, the most common cancers are lung, stomach, liver, breast and esophagus cancer. Chinese oncology experts indicated that between the 1970s and the 1990s of the last century, the cancer death rate in males rose by nearly 30%. At present, malignant tumors have become the number one killer for urban residents.