China Informed: a news service focused on China, Taiwan and Hong Kong

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Sat, Mar 29, 1997
Tenacity of Tradition in Hong Kong

also: Japan resumes aid to PRC; expose on Qiao Shi; Uyghur students' open letter; info on BOT and energy projects; info on Chinese medicine; and more . . .

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Hong Kong: after weeks of reports on the political problems and twists in the lead up to the change in sovereignty a story about the tenacity of tradition in the New Territories, rural Hong Kong, reminds us of forces much older, much more gut-felt than "democracy" or "equal opportunity." There among the Hakka villages patriarchal systems preserve clan corporate property and wealth, and order a society in what we would find to be clearly discriminatory and unfortunate ways. A recent change in inheritance laws, permitting women in these New Territories villages the right to inherent property, recently undid hundreds of years of Chinese and British law, but the men folk of these villages hope to have the law over turned after July 1; perhaps, to their surprise, they'll find Beijing and Government House in complete agreement with each other on the law's merits.

Japan: we get a story from the Japan Times about Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda's trip to China today. Ikeda will meet with Jiang Zemin and Li Peng, among other high officials, and inform them of his government's decision to resume grant-in-aid programs, suspended since 1995 in protest to China's nuclear testing then. The paper notes, relations have been strained over this issue and territorial disputes over the Senkaku Islands, or Diaoyu Islands.

Ikeda is expected to make final preparations for mutual visits by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and President Jiang Zemin, reports the paper. Ikeda "is likely to discuss with Qian issues such as how to expedite the signing of a new fisheries treaty covering waters within 200-nautical mile economic zones and how to go about the removal of chemical weapons dumped in China by Japanese forces at the end of World War II," reports the paper.

Qiao Shi: China News Digest (CND), one of the most important news organizations on the internet, has put together a three-part expose on Qiao Shi (Chinese BIG5 encoding), China's chairman of the National People's Congress. The articles are written in Chinese and are available in various formats, including HZ format and GB format

See the Sat, Mar 8, 1997 issue for more information on the NPC and Qiao Shi.

Ethnic problems: the Eastern Turkistan homepage has an open letter entitled, "Declaration of the Uyghur Students". In it the organization's position vis-a-vis Chinese rule in Xinjiang and treatment of Uyghur people is detailed. It's unclear how many this group represents, but one should not dismiss the message nor its tenor.

Japan: security issues---this is a May 1996 op-ed piece from the Japan Times written by Shoichi Kobayashi on security matters from a Japanese and trans-national perspective.

Energy: the merits of the mainland's first Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) project, underway in Guangxi Province, have impressed the PRC planners and more BOT energy and infrastructure projects will be designed, reports the Asia Times. In addition to the project in Guangxi, where a French group has constructed and is operating a coal-burning power plant, a water plant in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, is in the works. The paper quotes an official involved in BOT projects:

    He "said China has given the green light to the construction of its second BOT power project in Changsha, Hunan province. The investment in the Changsha project, which would involve construction of two 350MW coal-fired generators, would exceed that in Laibin" in Guangxi, reports the paper.

    ". . . the BOT model was particularly well suited to assist in the construction of China's power sector, where as much as Rmb700 billion of investment was required during the next four years. China has said it anticipated as much as 20 percent of power sector funding would come from foreign investment," reports the paper.

Medicine: a letter from a reader, Ed Fitzgerald <>, got me thinking about Chinese medicine. It's a topic much on the periphery of my experiences and interests; that said, I decided to do a quick survey of internet-based materials on the subject. Not surprisingly most of the sites deal with traditional Chinese medicine (or TCM among those who know). Below are a number of links. All are themselves virtual libraries and indexes to more sites on various aspects of the subject.

Business: Vice President Al Gore's recent inking of two lucrative deals included one for General Motors. The joint venture established between General Motors and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) marked GM's entrance into the China market. But as the Asia Times reports, the deal is not without its disappointments. Days before the deal was signed the government announced GM would not be provided import-duty exemptions on the hundreds of million of dollars in capital and technological investments into the joint venture.

    We also get a better sense of the scope of the project and its significance for the Chinese economy: "The joint venture would be China's largest mid-size car manufacturer, producing 100,000 sedans within three years after start-up, utilizing the latest vehicle technology, engineering systems and manufacturing processes."

    "The capital injection required to establish the enterprise is expected to be massive. The Shanghai project would include the construction of three separate factories, including plants for gear box, engine, and car manufacturing," writes the paper.

Lijiang: a China Daily article reports on ongoing efforts to rebuild Lijiang county, nearly a year after the mountainous area in Yunnan Province was struck by an earthquake.

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China Informed

a news service focused on China, Taiwan and Hong Kong
©1997 Matthew Sinclair-Day