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---"Focused Coverage Informed Perspectives"---
Mon, Jan 12, 1998 edition
Exercising Power
DPP works to fashion acceptable mainland China policy

Also in this edition . . .

1: relief effort mounts amid concerns for further tremors
2: mainland has long history of quakes
3: mainland swimmer and coach suspended from competition for drug use
4: with South Africa gone Taipei begins another round in diplomatic circuit
5: Cabinet and Premier go on fact finding tour
6: Taiwan delegation heads to Philippines on fact-finding mission
7: late President is hailed for beginning country's political democratization
8: China Informed Op-Ed: 'Mandela, I see as no one special anymore' by Ms TKG


Earthquake: relief effort mounts amid concerns for further tremors
Tens of thousands faced freezing temperatures and the threat of severe aftershocks Sunday as the People's Liberation Army mounted a massive relief operation following an earthquake in northern China which killed 50 and injured more than 11,000.

Even as truckloads of troops arrived in the area carrying warm clothing, food, water and medical supplies, the number of injured soared to 11,439, some 1,252 of them in serious condition, reports said.

More than 44,000 people were left homeless in Zhangbei, Shangyi and Wanquan counties in Saturday's quake and now face temperatures which plummeted to minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus four Fahrenheit) overnight, according to state media. Over 100 aftershocks have already been left following the quake which measured 6.2 on the Richter scale, with experts warning that another aftershock of around 5.0, capable of causing considerable damage, was likely.

The region has also suffered enormous economic damage estimated at about 2.39 billion yuan (US$288 million), Xinhua news agency said. The quake occurred in a sparsely populated hilly region in the northeastern province of Hebei near the Great Wall, about 220 kilometers (135 miles) northwest of the capital. Many residents have been ordered not to sleep inside their houses, despite the driving cold, because of the possibility of aftershocks. Most of the village houses in the area are hand-built from mud and stone, and are easily damaged.

Some 13,606 houses were destroyed in the province and another 26,000 were severely damaged and deemed too dangerous to enter. So far, 2.14 million yuan worth of goods have been delivered to the region, including some 1,200 tents, 21,000 cotton overcoats and quilts, and 15 tons of food and medicine, Xinhua reported. Army vehicles were seen pouring into Zhangbei county, the worst-hit region. Xinhua reported that about 1,500 troops have arrived in the area already.

Villagers in Xisungou village, about 10 kilometers (six miles) south of the county seat of Zhangbei, said the quake was the biggest they had felt since a 1976 earthquake, which claimed at least 242,000 lives in Tangshan county outside of Beijing.

President Jiang Zemin and Premier Li Peng telephoned the Hebei provincial government to ask for details and express their sympathy. Pakistan late Saturday said it would send relief aid, Xinhua said, adding that Premier Minister Nawaz Sharif had sent a message of sympathy. Meanwhile, Margaret Beckett, Britain's president of the board of trade, expressed sympathy for victims of the quake in a press statement Sunday, after arriving in Beijing.

Earthquake: mainland has long history of quakes
(source: Agence France-Presse) Mainland China is the world's most quake-hit country, seismologists said Saturday, after a tremor in northern mainland China killed at least 47 people and seriously injured at least 250.

In the past five centuries mainland China has been hit by hundreds of earthquakes, some reaching more than eight on the Richter scale, killing hundreds of thousands of people. The last major quake in Tangshan in 1976, reaching 7.8 on the Richter scale, killed at least 242,000 people, according to Chinese officials, though others believe the toll was considerably higher.

The violence of the quakes long puzzled seismologists as they tend not to occur at the end of two tectonic plates, as elsewhere, but within the plates. In 1975 two geophysicists, Paul Tapponnier and Peter Molnar, studying satellite images, said it was the weight of the Himalaya mountain range that was at fault.

Sports: mainland swimmer and coach suspended from competition for drug use
The International Swimming Federation (FINA) on Saturday imposed a four-year ban on mainland Chinese swimmer Yuan Yuan and her coach Zhou Zhewen from international competition after they were found to have brought illegal human growth hormones into Australia.

FINA Secretary Gunner Werner told a press conference that the punishment for carrying the illegal drug is a four-year suspension. Australia's federal police said they have yet to decide whether to press charges against Yuan, who ranks 12th in the world, and her coach for bringing illegal drugs into Australia. FINA also decided to immediately set up a task force to examine the issues and concerns over the taking of illegal drugs by competing swimmers and to provide recommendations for future action with respect of the sport of swimming.

The task force will comprise a range of independent international experts in medical science, medical research and forensic matters. It should also include people with experience such as national team physicians and administrators who deal with related issues at international level, a FINA statement said.

At the press conference Saturday the leader of the mainland Chinese swimming team Shi Tianshu denied that the entire team is using the substances to improve its performance during the competition in Perth.


DPP: party works to fashion acceptable mainalnd China policy
(sources: Associated Press and The China Post) The country's biggest opposition party hopes to smooth over divisions among its factions over its policy toward mainland China at a conference next month, the party said Sunday.

Despite a common commitment to Taiwan's formal independence, factions within the Democratic Progressive Party differ over how close the island should interact with its sometimes hostile neighbor. The party's major decision-makers are expected to attend the conference, scheduled for mid-February. The party's main factions held public round tables on mainland policy over the weekend, with little consensus emerging.

Following the party's main unprecedented victory in local elections last November, voters began asking how a DPP government would deal with Beijing and its threat to invade Taiwan if it declares independence.

DPP Chairman Hsu Hsin-liang has attracted criticism earlier for advocating increased mainland investment by Taiwan businesses, along with holding cross-strait talks aimed at the restoration of direct trade, transportation and communications between the two sides. Direct links have been banned since 1949, when the Kuomintang-led government retreated here after losing the mainland to communist forces in a civil war.

Other factions say Taiwan shouldn't initiate closer ties until the mainland drops its threat to invade and stops trying to isolate Taiwan internationally. The factions also differ over conditions for talks with mainland China and what issues the sides should discuss.

Beijing claims Taiwan as a break-away province, but the sides have been united for only four of the last 100 years. The government Kuomintang advocates gradual progress toward reunification, and most Taiwan residents wish to maintain the status quo of de-facto independence.

Africa: with South Africa gone Taipei begins another round in diplomatic circuit
(source: Associated Press) President Lee Teng-hui will visit Africa this year to boost ties with the continent that is home to 10 of Taipei's 29 diplomatic allies, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced Sunday.

Returning from a visit to Senegal, Foreign Minister Jason Hu confirmed Lee would make the trip, but declined to disclose his itinerary before details are complete. Lee has standing invitations from most of Taipei's African allies, and Hu said several are anxious for him to visit. Relations with Africa have assumed greater prominence following the severing of ties with South Africa last year when that country recognized Beijing.

Beijing claims sovereignty over Taiwan and demands that countries cut their diplomatic relations with Taipei before extending recognition. Africa is a key battle-field in Taipei's struggle to escape the diplomatic isolation imposed by mainland China. South Africa's loss deprived Taiwan of its largest and most influential ally, but Taipei has maintained ties with a stable number of countries, adding Chad to the list last August. Taiwan provides loans and development aid to its African allies, and fetes their heads of state when they make official visits to the island. Beijing offers similar enticements, and the two sides routinely accuse each other buying influence.

Hu visited Senegal to meet that nation's leaders and confer with Taiwan's diplomats on the continent following South Africa's decision. He said Taipei would aid Senegal in upgrading Dakar's port, allowing Taiwan-based fishing vessels operating in the Atlantic to move their base of operations there from South Africa. Senegalese leaders including the country's president promised Hu their support for Taipei would not waiver despite pressure from Beijing.

Learning tour: Cabinet and Premier go on fact finding tour
Cabinet members led by Premier Vincent Siew visited an antique gallery and livestock farm in Hsinchu yesterday, rounding off their "learning tour" arranged especially for the first two-day weekend break.

The first stop of yesterday's itinerary was an antique gallery located in the private-run Kuchifeng Recreational Park, where a large collection of antiques and artifacts are displayed. Most of the tour members were deeply impressed by the collections but at the same time felt pity that many collected pieces were not able to be displayed due to space limitation.

Council for Cultural Affairs Chairperson Lin Cheng-chih said with the permission of the gallery's owner, her council was willing to offer the necessary venue and techniques so that the unexhibited works could be put on display. Agreeing with Lin, Siew said the government should work hand in hand with the private sector to promote art and culture. Siew and his wife Chu Chu-hsien later made wishes for national progress, social stability and popular happiness in front of a wishing well in the park.

After leaving the park, the group went to a dairy farm belonging to the Taiwan Live stock Research Institute in Hsinchu to see how milk cows are raised and the process of milking. Siew said the government was very concerned about the development of the local livestock industry after Taiwan joins the World Trade Organization and was confident in solving the sector's problems. He said the government should help livestock farmers gain reasonable profits and seek parallel develop for agricultural, ecology, technology and the economy. Also, he suggested that the value of livestock farms could be further boosted if they were well coordinated with the leisure industry.

The Cabinet members returned to Taipei in the afternoon after leaving the farm. Officials said similar activities would continue to be held in the future.

Asia's economics: Taiwan delegation heads to Philippines on fact-finding mission
(sources: Agence France-Presse and Reuters) A high-powered business mission from Taiwan arrived in Manila on Sunday and said it would look into how deeply the Philippines has been affected by the regional currency crisis.

The 80-member delegation, led by Taipei's top economic policy-maker P.K. Chiang, is also to visit Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia---three other countries reeling from the financial turmoil---during its 10-day southeast Asian tour.

Chiang told reporters on arrival his mission would study the financial turmoil and how deep its effect was on the Philippine economy. He said his group would also explore investment prospects and meet high Filipino officials to discuss what kind of assistance the Philippines needed for its economic development.

"Southeast Asia became more attractive to companies which had planned to invest there after the depreciation of regional currencies," Chiang, chairman of the Cabinet-level Council for Economic Planning and Development, was quoted by the United Evening News as saying before departing Taipei. The council's vice chairman, Schive Chi, has said investment in the region was the best way to help Southeast Asia ride out the crisis.

President Lee Teng-hui has urged Taiwan enterprises to invest in the region. Despite the government's repeated calls for more investment in the region, Taiwan's food giant President Enterprises was reported Friday to have suspended NT$20 billion (US$586.51 million) worth of projects in the Philippines. Kao Chin-yen, the group's president, told a local newspaper his company would shelve plans to invest in a joint-venture instant noodle factory, a power station, and convenience store chains due to soaring risks posed by falling currencies.

The mission comprises more than 60 tycoons from Taiwan's industrial and financial sectors, including Kao, Chinatrust Commercial Bank Chairman Jeffery Koo, Tuntex Group Chairman Chen Yu-hou, Cosmos Bank Chairman Hsu Sheng-fa, Shinkong Insurance Chairman Wu Tung-chin and Bank of Taiwan Chairman James Lo.

Chiang Ching-kuo: late President is hailed for beginning country's political democratization
(source: Central News Agency) Former Premier Hau Pei-tsun on Sunday credited the late President Chiang Ching-kuo as the prime mover of Taiwan's political democratization. Hau made the remarks at a seminar marking the 10th anniversary of the late president's death. Chiang died on January 13, 1988.

Hau, who served as chief of the General Staff between 1981 and 1989, said Chiang took many bold steps in the last half year of his life to set the stage for Taiwan's democratization. "Many people only remembered Chiang's contribution to Taiwan's economic development. In fact, his greatest contribution to Taiwan was his lifting of martial law and bans on political parties, newspapers and travel to mainland China in the last few months of his life," Hau stressed. Taiwan is proud of its achievements in becoming a full-fledged democracy through the "quiet revolution" over the past 10 years, Hau said, adding that this should also be credited to Chiang.

Speaking on the same occasion, former Justice Minister Ma Ying-jeou, who once served as Chiang's confidential secretary, said he admires the late president's perception and vision in lifting martial law and a ban on travel to the mainland. The lifting of the travel ban was significant in that it led to an easing of hostility between the people on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait and a reduction in cross-strait tensions, Ma explained.

A recent public opinion poll shows that more than 70 percent of Taiwan residents continue to approve of Chiang's performance as the nation's president. "It is marvelous for a politician who passed away 10 years ago to enjoy such popularity. I'm convinced that if Chiang ran in a presidential election in Taiwan today, he could still win," Ma said.

A wide variety of activities have been held in Taiwan and the offshore frontline island of Kinmen in recent days to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Chiang's passing. On Monday, the KMT Central Committee will hold a rally at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall to mark the occasion, with ROC President and KMT Chairman Lee Teng-hui presiding. National Assembly Speaker Fredrick Chien will recount Chiang's achievements and contributions to the country at the meeting. The Ministry of National Defense will sponsor a performance at the National Concert Hall in memory of the late national leader.


South Africa: (5/1/98) ( China Informed Op-Ed: 'Mandela, I see as no one special anymore' by Ms TKG) Ms TKG writes on Nelson Mandela, whose government switched formal recognition from Taiwan to the PRC. The author laments Mr Mandela's failure to maintain moral and ethical coherence---to maintaining one's integrity---in discharging the affairs of government. . . . .

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