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News Briefs

An overview of what’s happening in China.

Xinhua Releases a Short News Brief on Former Chinese Leader Zhao Ziyang’s Death

Former General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Zhao Ziyang, who was sacked after the June 4 massacre in 1989 due to his sympathy to the student democratic movement, passed away at the age of 85 on January 17, 2005. China’s state run news agency released a short two-sentence news message on its website Xinhuanet. The whole text is as follows:

Xinhuanet, Beijing, January 17 news—Comrade Zhao Ziyang had suffered from multiple diseases of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems for a long time. After many hospital treatments, his illnesses aggravated recently. Zhao passed away on January 17, 2005 in Beijing after an unsuccessful rescue, at the age of 85. (End)

Russia’s Energy Minister Secretly Visits Beijing

(Voice of America, report on January 13) The Russian Energy Minister visited Beijing secretly last week. Experts have commented that Russia is attempting to take advantage of its petroleum supply to serve its own geopolitics goal. But Russia’s petroleum no longer possesses the high strategic value it did in the past. The news regarding Russian Energy Minister Khristenko’s secret weekend visit to Beijing was reported in The New York Times and confirmed by other sources. The Chinese media has not reported on this visit. The content of the meeting with Chinese Officials is unknown.

China Petroleum Gets a 50 Million Barrel Oil Supply from Yukos

The Russian State Petroleum Company, which purchased Yukos in November 2004, announced on December 22, 2004, that it has signed an agreement with the Chinese to supply 50 million barrels of oil in five years. According to the agreement, the 50 million barrels of crude oil will be supplied before the year 2010. The Russian Petroleum Company will start supplying oil on February 1, 2005, and will amount to 4 million barrels this year. The Russian Commercial Daily cites the Russia government official’s speech stating that the Chinese Petroleum Natural Gas Group once indicated its willingness to invest US$ 9.35 billion in the Russian Petroleum Company on the condition of a guaranteed oil supply to China Petroleum.

CCP Disseminates Fake Nine Commentaries

(Dajiyuan Chinese version of The Epoch Times January 22 news) According to sources from Beijing, the Chinese Communist Party published and circulated a fake series of articles, calling them the Nine Commentaries, in an apparent attempt to divert people from reading the genuine “Nine Commentaries on the Chinese Communist Party” recently published by Dajiyuan and The Epoch Times. Some people were confused after reading the fake ones. The Epoch Times carried nine editorials last November entitled “Nine Commentaries on the Chinese Communist Party.”{mospagebreak}

Mercury Found in Chinese Pork Exported to Russia

The Russian Independent Television Station reported on January 17 in its Monday evening news program that the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok’s (Haishenwai) hygienic inspection team found imported pork from China containing mercury. It is reported that many households complained to the city health authorities that mercury was found in the pork they purchased from stores. But the mercury was only discovered after the meat was roasted in the oven. The mercury remained in the oven after the pork was taken out. The Haishenwai city medical department took immediate action by sealing up the unsold stock of Chinese pork in the wholesale and retail stores. Many shops put out bulletins, hoping customers who purchased the Chinese pork will return the purchase; the stores are willing to compensate its customers for their losses.

Shanghai and Shenzhen Stock Indexes Tumbled to A New Five-year Low at 2005 Opening

(Epoch Times, January 4, 2005) In a report by Epoch Times correspondent Li Mei, on Tuesday, January 4, the first trading day in 2005, both Shanghai and Shenzhen stock markets suffered big losses. The low opening point was quickly followed by a big dip. In the morning session, both markets indexes lost about one percent. The Shanghai Stock Exchange index tumbled to 1259, the lowest point in five years.

Vietnam Condemns China for Killing Vietnamese Fishermen

(Epoch Times Jan 14, 2005) On Saturday, January 8, the Vietnamese government issued a statement to condemn China for the shooting of two Vietnamese fishing boats in the Northern Bay by a Chinese border patrol ship. According to the Vietnamese government, the Chinese border patrol ship equipped with machine guns twice opened fire on the Vietnamese fishing boats, killing at least nine Vietnamese fishermen and wounding six. The Vietnamese government requested that China punish the border patrol military personnel responsible for the killing. Vietnamese Foreign Ministry reported that the Vietnamese fishermen were killed after entering Chinese territory by mistake. Vietnam demanded that China investigate the attack and take measures to ensure that similar incidents don’t happen again.

Pollution Worsened at China’s Sea

According to the report “2004 Environmental Quality Report on the Chinese Ocean” published by the China National Ocean Bureau on January 9, 2005, last year China’s marine water pollution continued to worsen. The report blames pollution discharge from the land as the main cause of sea pollution. Data shows that about 80% of the ocean territory receiving sewage discharge showed significant pollution. At each discharge site, about 20 square kilometers of the monitored area has no living benthic organisms. Last year, there were 96 incidents of red tide or poisonous red tide, 80% higher than the previous year. Large areas of red water concentrated in the East Sea and Bohai Sea. Poisonous red tide took place over 20 times; the total affected area is over 7,000 square kilometers. In addition, the total amount of pollutant discharged by major rivers such as Yangtze, Yellow and Pearl River is about 11 million tons, which far exceeded the previous year’s level.{mospagebreak}

Staff Members of Industrial and Commercial Bank Arrested For Forging Loan Document of US$900 Million

According to a China Daily January 19 report, 69 Chinese government official and other public figures were suspected in swindling 7.4 billion yuan (US$900) from the Industrial and Commercial Bank. The procurator filed a lawsuit against these 69 people, including Chinese Industry and Commerce Bank former employees. 80 officials involved have been fired. The main suspect is merchant Feng Mingchang. An investigation discovered he has swindled the Industrial and Commercial Bank’s Guangdong Province Foshan Branch loan office. Dozens of government officials are involved in the forging Letters of Credit, forging land and capital Property Rights documents, and assisting Feng Mingchang to defraud the bank loan. At present there are 2 billion yuan (US$ 240 million) in loans that have not been recovered.

In addition, on January 17 the Xinhuanet reported the Chinese government anticipated another capital infusion into the Industrial and Commercial Bank, helping to decrease its bad account rate, in hopes the bank will enter the overseas market in two years.

Tang Jiaxuan’s Secret Visit to Israel Exposed In Car Accident

(Epoch Times, December 30, 2004) After China’s State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan’s motorcade got into a traffic accident in Israel, the attempt at a low-key visit was exposed to the public. Chinese diplomats in Israel were furious about the leak. According to news released on the Chinese embassy’s website, the purpose of Tang’s visit was to meet with leaders of Israel and Palestine, exchange ideas, enhance bilateral relationships, and discuss the Middle East situation.

But according to inside information, Tang’s visit was originally supposed to be very low key, because one of Tang’s assignments was to ask Israel to return unmanned Harpy aircrafts (drones) to China. These aircrafts were being upgraded and maintained in Israel. Tang’s mission was to send a strong message to Israel. Israel originally sold these advanced weapons to China without U.S. permission. The U.S. has strongly demanded that Israel does not hand these aircrafts over to China. This incident has put Israel into an unprecedented diplomatic crisis.

Until now, none of the governments involved had released the messages Tang brought to Israel. According to DEBKAfile’s report on December 30, 2004, Tang’s main messages were the following:

1. It is time for Israel to appreciate that China is a world power.

2. Israel is stepping out of line for the second time on a defense transaction. In 2000, the Barak government called off the sale to China of the Phalcon surveillance craft under U.S. pressure. (Ex-prime minister Ehud Barak brought the news to President Clinton at the Camp David conference with Yasser Arafat). China received a $350 million indemnity from Israel for defaulting on the deal.

3. This time, Beijing will not accept monetary compensation. The drones must be handed over. Sold to Beijing several years ago, they now bear Chinese military markings. Withholding the craft is tantamount to illegal seizure of a Chinese weapons system and will bring down on the Jewish state serious reprisals.

4. The Chinese government does not accept the pretext that the Harpy drones are being held back because of the Americans. The Israelis are bound to work the issue out with Washington.

5. Failure to send the UARs to their new owners will be detrimental to Chinese-Israeli diplomatic relations and prejudicial to the interests of Israeli firms operating in China.

Epidemic of Schistosomiasis Back to Nine Provinces along Yangtze River

On December 31, 2004, Modern News reported that after the historical 1998 high flooding of the Yangtze River, nine provinces along Yangtze River saw a return of blood fluke (schitosome). The situation has been deteriorating year after year and now has arrived in urban areas. According to statistics in 2003, the total number of schitosomiasis patients reached 843,000 in the nine provinces, 817,000 chronic patients, 24,400 were terminal patients. Since 1999, the number of acute patients has been on the rise. In 2003, 1,114 people were infected with the acute symptom, 22% more than in the same period of 2002. Some counties and cities that were able to eliminate the disease years ago now are seeing a return of the disease.

Two Executives of China’s Agricultural Development Bank Arrested for Diverting 810 Million Yuan in Funds

Legal Evening News reported on January 10, 2005 that the two vice presidents of China’s Agricultural Development Bank, Hu Chushou and Yu Dalu, were alleged to have made a loan worth 920 Million Yuan to a company for purchasing financial electronic equipment. The same company turned around and “leased” this equipment back to the Agricultural Development Bank and made a huge illegal profit. The company used over 800 Million from the loan to invest in the stock market. The two executives are arrested but the income from the stock investment is still not recovered.

Newspaper Delivery to South Korean Embassy Held Up in Customs for Reporting on Zhao Ziyang’s Death

On January 20, The South Korean SBS TV reported that a delivery of The South Korean Daily newspaper that had been mailed to the South Korean Embassy in Beijing was being held in customs because the newspaper contained a report on Zhao Ziyang’s death and his achievements. After negotiation, Chinese Customs let the newspaper through but only after 1 to 2 pages of the report on Zhao Ziyang were torn out of the newspaper. The South Korean Embassy staff can only read an incomplete newspaper.

Fifty Thousand Residents Clashed with Police in Dongguan

China News Agency, Dec. 26, 2004: On Dec. 23, a school student fell off a transporting motorcycle in Dalang. The student’s relative went to the responsible driver for compensation on the next day. The driver accused the student’s relative of robbery, which caused his arrest by the police and serious injury while in the custody of security guards. The relative died in a hospital later on that same day. The victim’s family and more than seventy fellow villagers went to Qiufu Village of Dalang, seeking a fair solution. Severe conflict broke out between the two parties. Hundreds of policemen were called in to stop the conflict. As the conflict escalated, fifty thousand migrant workers living in the area joined the conflict and burned four police cars. More than ten security guards were injured. According to the workers, they had accumulated grievance against the local security team for its consistent bullying of the migrant workers.

China Losing 60 Billion Yuan a Year to Casino Gambling

Central New Agency reports on January 1, 2005 that China is spending nearly 60 Billion yuan (US$7.2 billion) a year on casinos and horse racing gambling in Hong Kong, Marco and other foreign countries. In addition to Hong Kong and Marco, the gambling network in neighboring countries has extended from Southeast Asian countries into Russia, North Korea, South Korea and Mongolia. China is almost surrounded by casinos in the neighboring countries. Chinese citizen’s sightseeing tours now routinely include visits to casinos. In order to curb the gambling trend among communist officials, the CCP’s Central Disciplinary Committee and the Ministry of Supervision jointly issued an announcement forbidding party members and officials to gamble. According to the announcement, all gamblers will be fired from their jobs.

In recent years, many officials were sentenced to jail terms or had to flee from China because of gambling trouble. Those exposed include: Shenyang City executive vice mayor Ma Xiangdong, Hubei province Hong Kong office director Jin Jianpei, Guangdong Taishan City Sports Administration Director Li Jianyang, vice mayor of Xiamen City Lan Fu, Guangzhou Fanyu District Party Secretary Liang Bonan, Guangdong Province Transportation Department Director Niu He-en, and Jilin Province Yanbian Region Transportation Administration Director Cai Haowen.

Among the gambling officials, Ma Xiangdong lost over 10 million HK dollars in one day in Marco; Jin Jianpei lost the 140 million in two years; Li Jianyang wasted 7 million in one month; Lan Fu lost 3.5 million in one day.