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Thursday, June 09, 2005

MSNBC > China defector says would rather die than go home

China defector says would rather die than go homeChina defector says would rather die than go home
By Michelle Nichols
CANBERRA, June 8 — A Chinese diplomat pleading for political asylum in Australia has said he would rather die than go home, as Prime Minister John Howard tried on Thursday to calm concerns the asylum bid may harm Sino-Australian relations.
Howard said an application for political asylum by Chen Yonglin, a 37-year-old political affairs consul at China's Sydney consulate, would not be influenced by Australia's booming trade and economic ties with China.
"Let me simply say that, just as in relation to the U.S., we have steadfastly refused to mix trade with politics and strategy and national security. So it is in relation to China, and I'm sure that our Chinese friends will know that," he told a business lunch in Sydney.
China, which is Australia's third-largest trading partner with annual trade worth A$28.9 billion ($22.7 billion), is in talks with Canberra on a free trade deal and a separate pact to import Australian uranium.
In a letter to Australia's Immigration Department last month and released by the minority Australian Greens party on Thursday, Chen said his role at China's Sydney consulate persecuting Falun Gong practitioners had given him nightmares.
Falun Gong is an amalgam of religions, meditation and exercises that the Chinese government considers a dangerous cult.
"My spirit is severely distressed for my sin at working for the unjustified authority in a somewhat evil way and my hair turns white quickly in the last four years for frequent nightmares," Chen wrote.
Chen described Falun Gong as a cult with vulnerable and innocent members and said he feared being forced to return home to continue monitoring Falun Gong affairs.
"I would rather die than be forced to do so ... I have no choice but to seek asylum in Australia," he wrote.
China has dismissed Chen's claims about a Chinese spy network and his fears that he could be kidnapped by spies and sent home for helping pro-democracy activists.
But Australia's opposition Labor called on the government to give protection to Chen, and a second Chinese man, Hao Fengjun, who is also seeking political asylum.
Hao, who said he worked for China's security service, known as 610, has backed claims by Chen that Beijing has up to 1,000 spies operating across Australia.
The Immigration Department has said it is examining Chen's application for a protection visa, which is granted to asylum seekers under the U.N. Refugees Convention.
Howard said about 1,000 Chinese apply for protection visas from the Immigration Department in Australia each year.
Chen has also applied for a rare "territorial asylum visa" from Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, but Downer has discouraged the application for political asylum, urging Chen to seek a protection via an immigration visa.
But Greens party leader Bob Brown said the Australian government was just trying not to offend China.
"I have no doubt ... (the government) feels it will be less of an affront to China if some other form of visa is offered," Brown told Australian radio.
Brown said the handling of the Chinese diplomat was also a security bungle as he had not been interviewed by Australian security agencies.
"If Mr Howard couldn't act on behalf of this Chinese diplomat, why hasn't he acted on behalf of this nation?" Brown said. "It is extraordinary that (intelligence agencies) ... haven't been in contact with this man."
Chen, who is in hiding with his wife and 6-year-old daughter, made his political asylum bid public on Saturday when he spoke at a Sydney rally to mark the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests.
The second Chinese man, Hao, told Australian television that he had worked for China's security service in the northern port city of Tianjin. He said he travelled to Australia as a tourist in February and then applied for asylum.
An immigration department spokeswoman would not confirm or deny Hao's application.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

BBC NEWS | Business | US and China in textile row talks

BBC NEWS | Business | US and China in textile row talks US and China in textile row talks
US trade envoys have met Chinese counterparts in Beijing to try to solve a damaging row over textiles.

The row stems from a surge in Chinese textile exports to the US since a global quota regime ended in January.

The US has slapped import curbs on a number of goods, prompting China to scrap more than 80 export tariffs.

The US says the yuan is pegged too low against the dollar and also wants to press Beijing for more action to curb rampant piracy of goods.

Until the start of this year, the global textile trade was governed by the 30-year-old Multi-Fibre Agreement, which set import quotas for each country.

China's exports have surged under the new trading system, while US and EU producers say they are unable to compete.

The conflict has been exacerbated by long-standing US accusations that China is deliberately keeping its currency undervalued in an attempt to boost exports.


The BBC's Daniel Griffiths in Beijing says both sides realise a costly trade war will be extremely damaging.

He says the talks are a good start but with so much at stake there is still a long way to go.

Only on the basis of mutual benefit can we make our trade and economic relationship bigger
Bo Xilai,
Chinese trade minister

US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez met Chinese Trade Minister Bo Xilai on Saturday.

Mr Bo was positive after the meeting, saying: "Sino-US trade witnessed such great progress in the past 26 or 27 years and we two countries should have the capability to properly deal with the textile trade issue and other questions."

Mr Gutierrez was later joined by US Trade Representative Robert Portman for talks with Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi, who oversees trade.

Mr Gutierrez said he had had a "good meeting" with Mr Bo but had earlier warned Beijing of Washington's deep concern over the issue.

"Respectfully, I don't believe that there is full appreciation in China for the level of political pressure that we face with respect to our relationship."

Mr Bo had in turn criticised the US import curbs, saying they violated World Trade Organization rules. "It is a move of trade protectionism," he said.

Mr Gutierrez stressed that Beijing also had to do more to stamp out piracy of intellectual property.

US industry groups say Chinese piracy of music, movie and software goods costs them up to $3.8bn a year.

The US also wants China to alter the yuan's valuation. It says the 8.28 to the dollar peg undervalues the Chinese currency, giving Chinese exporters an unfair advantage.

Mr Bo says the currency and textile issues should not be linked.

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Abbas postpones Palestinian vote

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Abbas postpones Palestinian vote Abbas postpones Palestinian vote
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has announced that parliamentary elections set for 17 July will be postponed.

In a public decree, he said he wanted to allow more time to resolve a dispute over changes to the election law.

Mr Abbas said a new date would be set after talks with the Palestinian factions and law makers.

The move has been condemned by militant group Hamas, which correspondents say had been poised to do well in its first run at a legislative poll.

The group had made a strong showing in recent local elections, and some observers say it could challenge the ruling Fatah party's dominance of the parliament.

'Violated agreement'

Mr Abbas did not set a new date for the election, but Palestinian officials have talked about a delay of several months.

The dispute stalling the vote is over the method by which candidates would be selected.

The postponement will please many in Mr Abbas' Fatah party because they want more time to prepare for the poll, the BBC's Barbara Plett reports from Jerusalem.

The movement is in disarray and tarnished by a reputation for corruption and inefficiency, our correspondent says.

The election date was part of a broader agreement between Mr Abbas and the factions that included a ceasefire.

Hamas had earlier threatened to re-think the truce if the date was changed.

"We consider this decision as a violation for all the Palestinian understandings and national agreements," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said, according to the Associated Press news agency.

Story from BBC NEWS:

WorldNetDaily: Rumsfeld blows whistle on China military threat

WorldNetDaily: Rumsfeld blows whistle on China military threat WND WARS AND RUMORS OF WARS
Rumsfeld blows whistle
on China military threat
Defense secretary warns of hundreds of missiles targeting Taiwan, Beijing weapons spending
Posted: June 5, 2005
1:00 a.m. Eastern

© 2005

China's massive military buildup and its targeting of hundreds of missiles at Taiwan makes it a growing threat to Asian security, said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld yesterday.

Rumsfeld criticized China at a regional security conference in Singapore, noting it was expanding its military spending and the purchase of large amounts of sophisticated weapons despite facing no threat from any other country.

The comments from a senior Bush administration official represented a turning point in China-U.S. relations. While the U.S. has criticized Beijing for trade policies and human rights abuses, it has not previously expressed concerns about its military buildup.

The director of the Asia bureau of China's foreign ministry, Cui Tiankai, was in the audience for Rumsfeld's speech and reacted strongly.

"Since the U.S. is spending a lot more money than China is doing on defense, the U.S. should understand that every country has its own security concerns and every country is entitled to spend money necessary for its own defense," Cui told the Associated Press after Rumsfeld's remarks.

Rumsfeld said the Pentagon's annual assessment of China's military capabilities shows China is spending more than its leaders reveal publicly, expanding its missile capabilities and developing advanced military technology. China now has the world's third-largest military budget, he said, behind the United States and Russia.

"Since no nation threatens China, one must wonder: Why this growing investment? Why these continuing large and expanding arms purchases?" Rumsfeld said at the conference organized by the International Institute of Strategic Studies, a private, London-based think tank.

Cui responded sharply to Rumsfeld during a question-and-answer session.

"Do you truly believe that China is under no threat by other countries?" Cui asked. "Do you truly believe that the U.S. is threatened by the emergence of China?"

Central to the disagreement is Taiwan, a self-governing island Beijing regards as a renegade territory.

China has said it will attack Taiwan if the island tries to declare independence, and it repeatedly calls on the United States to stop selling weapons to Taiwan.

The United States is urging the European Union to keep in place its ban on selling weapons to China. Washington argues that any European weapons sold to China could be used in a conflict over Taiwan.

"I just look at the significant rollout of ballistic missiles opposite Taiwan, and I have to ask the question: If everyone agrees the question of Taiwan is going to be settled in a peaceful way, why this increase in ballistic missiles opposite Taiwan?" Rumsfeld said.

He also questioned China's government, saying political freedom there had not kept pace with increasing economic freedom.

"Ultimately, China will need to embrace some form of a more open and representative government if it is to fully achieve the political and economic benefits to which its people aspire," he said.

Rumsfeld also warned North Korea represents a threat to the entire world because of its sale of missile technology and other weapons.

"One has to assume that they'll sell anything, and that they would sell nuclear weapons," he said.

Similar U.S. criticism of North Korea has sparked an angry response from Pyongyang.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency this week called Vice President Dick Cheney a "bloodthirsty beast" for saying that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il was

stocks, shares, news, FTSE, online trading - Interactive Investor> Taiwan has successfully test fired its first cruise missile

stocks, shares, news, FTSE, online trading - Interactive InvestorTAIPEI (AFX) - Taiwan has successfully test fired its first cruise missile, which would allow the island to hit major military targets in southeast China, the China Times reported.

The Hsiung Feng cruise missile, developed by the military-run Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, has a range of 1,000 kilometers and could be used to attack military bases in southeast China, the newspaper said.

"Once deployed, it would mark the first time that Taiwan is able to put 'strategic weapons' into use. Its political and military impact would be far-reaching," the paper said.

The defense ministry declined to comment on the report.

The newspaper said Defense Minister Lee Jye witnessed the test firing of the missile from Chiupeng military base in the southern Pingtung county. The missile flew over 500 kilometers before hitting its target.

The report did not specify when the test took place but speculated that it could have been in March.

The missile is expected to go into pilot production later this year or next year.

Taiwan is striving to build up its missile defense capabilities to counter the military threat from China, which officials say has targeted the island with at least 700 ballistic missiles.

Taiwan's cabinet last month approved a revised arms deal with the United States worth almost 15.5 bln usd after the previous proposal was rejected by parliament.

China sees Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification since they split at the end of the civil war in 1949, and has repeatedly threatened to invade if the island moves towards formal independence.