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---"Focused Coverage Informed Perspectives"---Wed, Jan 21, 1998 edition Ambulant Siew
on secret mission Premier causes stir with Indonesian trip
Also in this edition . . .
1: Siew continues secret mission, plays golf with officials
2: Beijing condemns Taipei's diplomacy
3: Taiwan sees rapid increase in influenza infection rate
4: Beijing reacts coolly to call for resumption of talks
5: two countries hail shipping links and air connections
6: Lee says London has changed its position on elections
7: strain of disease found in Guangdong
8: handling of bird flu and economic hcaos lower people's estimation of government
9: Hongkong tycoon released from Taipei jail
10: News Links for Hongkong stories
11: Cohen makes Washington's position clear; work with us or against us
12: Cohen receives assurances on cruise missiles
13: Dalai Lama says former President was in secret talks with Beijing
14: Politburo to meet before new year to settle contentious personnel issues
15: Cook in Beijing to bolster ties after handover
16: government looks to new year for stepped up anti-graft campaign
17: Jia re-elected a mayor, also holds party secretaryship
18: homeless and injured settling in to shelters
19: (Op-ed) Burma: 'Honoring Those Who Fought For Freedom' by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
20: (Op-ed) 'Mandela, I see as no one special anymore' by Ms TKG
Indonesia: Siew continues secret mission, plays golf with officials
Premier Vincent Siew met here Tuesday with Indonesian officials, diplomats said, amid silence on reported plans for a meeting with President Suharto on Asia's financial crisis.
Siew's highly secretive mission drew expected protests from Beijing, which regards Taiwan as a part of its territory and complaints whenever officials from Taiwan are received by counterparts in countries which recognize Beijing. Indonesia has received a US$40-billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other donors to help it deal with a severe financial crisis. Taiwan has been largely spared from Asia's turmoil and its awash in foreign reserves.
While Indonesia recognized only Beijing, it hosts a de facto Taipei embassy, the Taipei Economic and Trade Office. Earlier Tuesday, reports in Taiwan said Siew was due to hold a meeting with Indonesian President Suharto sometime last night before returning to Taipei this morning. "The high-level talks will be held tonight," an official was quoted by local television as saying from Jakarta.
Siew, who flew Monday to Jakarta, would also play golf with high-ranking Indonesian economic officials Tuesday. But neither Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Chien-jen nor government spokesman David Lee, who were accompanying Siew to Indonesia, would comment on the upcoming discussions. Aides of President Suharto also declined to comment on the visit, bowing to pressure from Beijing. Siew spoke of the motivation behind the trip to Jakarta, trying to play down the political implications of his visit. "We are a crucial member of the Asia-Pacific region, and given our economic clout, we need to play a role in the region," Siew said. "Therefore we are handling our ties with the region purely from this point of view," he added.
The Taipei-based Economic Daily News, in a dispatch from Jakarda, reported that the Indonesian government had asked Taipei to lend a hand to help address the financial crisis. The request was presented when a Taiwan fact-finding economic delegation called Monday on Indonesia's central bank governor Soedradjat, the papers said. The group had also toured the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia, none of which asked for economic aid.
The regional financial crisis has given Taiwan ammunition in its quest for greater diplomatic recognition as it can provide aid because of its relatively strong economy. Beijing has warned, however, that it opposes any official contacts by its diplomatic allies with the island. Siew has already quietly visited Manila, and there was confusion over whether he had met with Philippine President Fidel Ramos. Officials said the two had met, but Ramos told a news conference a day after Siew returned to Taipei: "I will deny I met with him. . . .We still stick to a one-China policy, there is no question about that."
The reaction: Beijing condemns Taipei's diplomacy
(source: Agence France-Presse) Beijing on Tuesday condemned the newest round of unofficial diplomacy by leaders from Taiwan, stating strong opposition to Singaporean and Indonesian officials' reported meetings with Premier Vincent Siew.
"We are resolutely opposed to any form of official contacts with Taiwan by countries having diplomatic relations with China," Foreign Ministry spokesman Shen Guofang told a regular media briefing in a prepared statement. "We hope that countries concerned will maintain vigilance against the political moves of the Taiwan authorities," he said.
Siew departed Taipei Monday for a trip that included a stop in Singapore-where he was reported to have met Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong-on the way to Indonesia. Unconfirmed media reports from Taiwan have said Siew would meet Indonesian President Suharto in Jakarta last night. Without specifically naming Singapore and Indonesia, the spokesman said: "We urge countries concerned to strictly honor their commitments to the one-China policy."
Shen accused Taiwan's leaders of capitalizing on (Southeast Asian) countries' temporary difficulties caused by the financial crisis... to realize their political motivation and undermine friendly relations between Beijing and its neighbors. Taipei demands in explicit terms a political reward for financial assurance it offers, the spokesman warned.
Flu: Taiwan sees rapid increase in influenza infection rate
(source: The China Post) Over 120,000 cases of influenza were reported last week alone islandwide, marking a record high number of flu infection cases, health authorities said yesterday.
Most of the influenza inflections were caused by the A Type virus. A rapid increase of cases in the central and southern parts of the island was reported, the Department of Health (DOH) National Quarantine Service said. Doctors working with the NQS to monitor diseases of the upper respiratory system said the influenza infections have been increasing rapidly since last December. They blamed the fast spread of the flu on cross transmission of the viruses, A Type virus mostly, among office workers and students.
DOH officials warned the public to take precautions against the further intensification of the flu infections as the Chinese New Year holiday period nears. The officials issued the warning over worries that a large temporary movement of the general population is expected to occur during the holiday period, greatly increasing the chances for cross infections. The public was also reminded that influenza caused by A Type and "Sydney" viruses is also striking the United States, with 15 states having declared entering the flu period. These states include New York, Tennessee, and Texas.
The DOH officials advised overseas travelers to take precautions against catching colds during trips to countries such as the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Doctors said the influenza caused by A Type virus tends to bring serious complications, including tracheitis and meningities, to those infected. Several cases of the kind have already been reported.
Cross-strait relations: Beijing reacts coolly to call for resumption of talks
Taipei reacted coolly to communist China's renewed calls for resumption of talks Tuesday, saying it was awaiting details of the proposal.
An official at the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the government's highest agency formulating policy toward the mainland, was cautious when asked to comment on Beijing's offer, saying details were still not available. But he wondered whether Beijing was changing its fundamental stance in dealing with Taiwan.
William Perry, the former US Defense Secretary who visited mainland China and Hong Kong earlier, told officials here Beijing would resume cross-strait talks without any preconditions. But MAC Vice Chairman Sheu Ke-sheng said he believed Beijng's offer of no conditions actually meant the mainland wanted to talk with Taipei under Beijing's version of the "one China" principle.
In Beijing Tuesday, the mainland's Foreign Ministry spokesman Shen Guofang told the press that "we hope the two sides could have political dialogues as soon as possible, in the absence of any prerequisites, because "one China" is not a prerequisite is not a prerequisite. It is a fact."
Russia: two countries hail shipping links and air connections
(source: Central News Agency) Taiwan and Russia on Tuesday officially announced the start of important shipping links between the two sides to promote further mutual trade exchanges.
Representatives from Taipei and Moscow attended a ceremony in Taipei where they exchanged copies of the Taipei-Moscow shipping agreement first inked in Russia on Jan.9, 1997. The new maritime transport route allows Taiwan shippers to take advantage of Russia's Far Eastern seaports, which will allow them access to inner Europe via railways linking Siberia with continental Europe, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). It is widely expected that the new route will help local firms cut their transportation costs and boost trade with Russia and other European countries.
Meanwhile, initial flights on a new aviation route between the island and Russia have been scheduled for March 29, according to Oleg Lobov, head of the Moscow-Taipei Economic and Cultural Coordination Commission. He told reporters that two flights will take off from Taipei and Moscow simultaneously, with the flight destined for Taipei carrying a Russian delegation which will discuss with relevant Taiwan authorities on the further promotion of aviation links between the two nations.
Taiwan-Russia exchnages in the fields of tourism, trade, economy, education and culture have surged over the past six years, with both sides committed to developing bilateral cooperation in other fields. According to MOFA statistics, two-way trade between Taiwan and Russia reached US$1.2 billion in 1996 and jumped to US$1.45 billion the following year, a 17.9 percent increase.
United Kingdom: Lee says London has changed its position on elections
( UK not soft on election, says Cook ) Democratic Party leader Martin Lee Chu-ming criticised the British government for its position on the May elections. Lee met with Foreign Minister Robin Cook in London and said that the British government's position "seems to have changed in a very meaningful way. Before, we heard these words coming from the British Government there must be an election within a year of change of sovereignty which is open, democratic, fair and acceptable to the people of Hong Kong," the South China Morning Post quotes Lee.
Cook dismissed the critcisim, syaing the British government has "real concerns with the electoral arrangements" which reduced the franchise for the functional constintuencies. "We have been asserting our own belief there was no need to dismiss the democratically elected Legco. That was a regrettable step for the people in Hong Kong," Mr Cook said. . . .
Bird flu: strain of disease found in Guangdong
(source: Reuters) A Beijing newspaper on Monday reported the discovery of a strain of "bird flu" in mainland China's Guangdong, but officials in the southern province denied there were any cases of the virus that killed six people in Hong Kong.
The Beijing Youth Daily report did not say when the virus was discovered or whether it was the same type responsible for the deaths and 12 other infections in Hong Kong. "The bird flu found in Guangdong was a type of infectious respiratory disease with a low infection rate, but the airborne virus could possibly be spread by migratory geese," said the report, which gave no source for the alleged discovery.
Guangdong health officials, contacted by telephone, strongly denied that there were any cases in the province, which is just north of Hong Kong and had been the source of much of the territory's chicken. "The province has not detected any cases of bird flu in either poultry or humans," said a provincial health official who asked not to be identified. Meanwhile, a livestock official in nearby Hainan told Reuters the island province had on Saturday imposed a ban on chicken imports from Guangdong as a precaution.
A group of World Health Organization (WHO) experts are currently in southern China seeking evidence of the flu amid fears of a worldwide epidemic and concern that the disease could have been brought into Hong Kong from the mainalnd. On Friday, leading WHO flu expert Daniel Lavanchy, who is in southern mainland China with a team of doctors, said the Hong Kong cases might have originated in the territory, not mainland China.
Although Hong Kong declared an end to the high-risk period last Thursday after no new infections were found in the several weeks since the mass slaughter, the territory remained on alert.
Opinions: handling of bird flu and economic hcaos lower people's estimation of government
(source: Reuters) Economic chaos and troubles such as the killer "bird flu" have dented Hong Kong people's confidence and lowered public esteem for the government.
A quarterly poll for the influential South China Morning Post and Ming Pao newspapers also indicated a third of Hong Kong's 6.5 million people were critical of government handling of the killer "bird flu" which has caused a major scare lately. The findings came out just before Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd's announced on Monday it would pay off 760 staff, in another blow to local confidence.
Critics said the poll findings showed a need for the government to be more sensitive to public sentiment just four months before the ex-British colony elects a new legislature. Amid a regional financial crisis and the weakening of Hong Kong's financial markets, confidence in the future plunged to 65 percent from October's 84 percent, the poll showed on Monday.
Just nine percent of the 1,016 respondents expected their personal financial situation to improve, against 22 percent in October, while 29 percent expected it to get worse. In October only 16 percent thought their situation would worsen. Only 11 percent expected an economic upturn in 1998, while 50 percent thought things would get worse. In October, 26 percent expected improvement and 14 percent a deterioration.
Pro-democracy trade unionist Lee Cheuk-yan said he was not surprised because the post-colonial government was ignorant of the public views and the people were expressing their dissent. "The government is not listening to the opinion of the public. It just does what it wants. I am not surprised by the results," said Lee, who was ousted from the elected Legislative Council when Beijing installed an unelected chamber last July. He urged the government to boost spending on welfare and infrastructure to bolster the sagging economy.
Scandal: Hongkong tycoon released from Taipei jail
Hong Kong tycoon Lim Por Yen was released on bail yesterday after spending a month in a Taipei prison pending investigation of bribery allegations.
The 83-year-old Lim, chairman of the giant Lai Sun Group and Hong Kong's Asia Television, was ordered to post NT$10 million in bail by Taipei District Court judge Chen Yu-yun. Lim's family, including wife Yu Po-chu, had to scramble to come up with the cash yesterday afternoon, as the prosecutor had initially only recommended a bail of NT$1 million be set.
Lim was driven to the Cheng Hsing Rehabilitation Medical Center in Taipei's northern Shihpai district for a full check-up after his afternoon release. His lawyer said he had been suffering from a heart condition during his month in the Taipei Detention Center. Speaking in Cantonese to a throng of reporters outside the courtroom, Lim said he was feeling fine and thanked the public for their support.
Lim was arrested by Investigation Bureau agents at Taoyuan's Chiang Kai-shek International Airport Dec.16 when he was preparing to board a flight back to Hong Kong. He had been in Taipei to attend the Golden Horse film awards ceremony.
Outside the courtroom yesterday, a group of Taiwan cameramen got into a brief scuffle with counterparts from Hong Kong as they jostled for position. Hearing the Taiwan cameramen shout obscenities about Hong Kong, Lim apparently thought the insults were being directed at him and turned around and headed back into the courthouse. He emerged again and was whisked away in a limousine soon afterwards.
SCMP ( Retailers plead for lower rents ) SCMP ( Legco in pay cut 'to send message' ) SCMP ( Top appeal court to decide fate of Chinese-Vietnamese )
United States: Cohen makes Washington's position clear; work with us or against us
(source: Agence France-Presse) US Defense Secretary William Cohen told mainland China's military Monday it could work with Washington or against it, but either way the United States would prevail as an Asian power.
Cohen called it "a fundamental choice" in a well received speech to military officers here at the Academy of Military Science, a government research center. However, Cohen's meetings here with mainland China's top military leaders appeared to have set the stage for expanding military ties with a country it squared off against less than two years ago over Taiwan.
Gen. Zhang Wannian, the vice chairman of Communist Party's Central Military Commission, agreed to visit Washington for talks in the spring, the highest level mainland Chinese military visit yet, a senior US official said. Mainland Chinese Defense Minister Chi Haotian offered Cohen fresh assurances that mainland China would not supply anti-ship cruise missiles to Iran, Cohen said. Senior US officials declined to provide specifics about the new assurances, but Cohen said he was "very pleased."
Cohen made clear that Washington and its allies in the region want an open and cooperative relationship with the People's Liberation Army, as it transforms itself into a modern military power. He called for more exchanges of military officers in areas such as strategic nuclear missiles, defense environmental matters, and affairs involving prisoners of war and service members missing in action.
United States: Cohen receives assurances on cruise missiles
(source: Reuters) US Defense Secretary William Cohen said on Tuesday he received personal assurances from mainland China's President Jiang Zemin that Beijing has halted all transfers of anti-ship cruise missiles to Iran and would not help Iran upgrade the cruise missiles it now has.
"That was very significant from my point of view," Cohen told reporters flying with him to Japan after a 65-minute meeting with Jiang in Beijing where they discussed the sale of communist Chinese C-801 and C-802 cruise missiles to Tehran. "I think these two assurances will go a long way to building upon the very cooperative relationship that we are developing," he said.
"It was the very clear message that no sales will go forward, no transfers-period-to Iran. That would include those missiles that have been contracted for before," he said. Cohen also said that there will be no technology transfer to Iran that would allow them to give their missiles an "over-the-horizon" capability.
Tibet: Dalai Lama says former President was in secret talks with Beijing
( Ex-president 'in secret sessions on Tibet ) The Dalai Lama revealed today that a 'former president' was holding secret talks with mainland China on Tibet, reports the South China Morning Post. The Dalai Lama descirbed the person as a "A trusted, honest, well-known person . . .", and one wonders if this person could be a former American President. Couldn't be Nixon. But Jimmy Carter, who has been an excellent 'ex-President', could easily fill the bill. Carter founded a peace institute under his namesake and has worked in the United States and around the world to broker dialogues and create common ground between opposing sides.
The Dalai Lama also said that 'the United States special co-ordinator between China and the Tibetan government-in-exile could help develop mutual trust,' the paper reports.
Politics: Politburo to meet before new year to settle contentious personnel issues
( Party elders to join talks on top posts ) According to the South China Morning Post a Politburo meeting will be called before the Lunar New Year in order to finalize personnel arrangements for the government and legislature. News sources have been speculating on such changes for many months and reporting on behind-the-scenes efforts by President Jiang to appease various factions as he moves to consolidate his power base in the post-Deng era.
"Veterans who had been asked to attend the meeting included former president Yang Shangkun, former vice-premier Bo Yibo, former National People's Congress (NPC) chairman Wan Li and outgoing NPC Chairman Qiao Shi," reports the paper.
Qiao Shi, the chairman of the NPC, was pushed out of the Politburo in September, but he still apparently commands sizeable power. He will step down from the NPC in March when Premier Li Peng is expected to take up his post. Over the years Qiao has been most noteworthy for redefining the scope and power of the National People's Congress, transforming it from a mere rubber-stamping body to something more akin to a deliberative one.
According to the paper, Jiang will likely award Qiao's 'comrade-in-arms', NPC Executive Vice-Chairman Tian Jiyun, a senior state councilor position as Vice-Premier. "A diplomatic source said Mr Jiang had to offer Mr Qiao some concessions for the latter's support for his candidates," the paper writes.
The paper also says Tung Chi-hwa will not likely be given a position on the State Council, although there is apparently some who support the idea.
United Kingdom: Cook in Beijing to bolster ties after handover
(source: Reuters) British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook on Monday arrived in mainland China to bolster ties, in the highest ranking such mission since London handed back the former colony of Hong Kong. Cook was to hold talks on Monday with mainland Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen on trade and human rights before flying to Hong Kong for the first visit by a British minister since the territory reverted to Mainland China last year.
Corruption: government looks to new year for stepped up anti-graft campaign
( Graft-buster to rout top cadres ) As the year draws to a close the government is determined to bolster its efforts in fighting graft and corruption in the new year. According to the South China Morning Post, the government will target leading cadres who abuse their position for personal gain. The article introduces Wei Jianxing who heads the Secretary for the Central Commission for Discipline. He said more vigilant enforcement was needed because the developing market economy was luring cadres toward illegal and corrupt endeavors.
Apparently part of the overall anti-graft program has been to develop a 'civil service' modeled on 'Western' lines. As the paper reports,
"New cadres from central and provincial government departments are all recruited through competitive national open examinations," Liu Jialin, director of the personnel deployment department at the Personnel Ministry, said.
"Nine national open recruitment examinations have been launched since the Civil Service Temporary Regulation was passed in 1993. Among the 400,000 candidates who applied, 3,000 were recruited," Xinhua quoted Mr Liu as saying.
Eighteen provinces even organised open recruitment exams for government positions down to village level, and 53,000 people out of 520,000 candidates were recruited.
"A total of 2,636 peasants joined the civil service after passing the examinations. Another 664 people were employed outside their home provinces," Mr Liu said.
Beijing: Jia re-elected a mayor, also holds party secretaryship
( Mayor holds key posts ) In what is seen as a way for President Jiang to consolidate his power over the capital city, Beijing Mayor Jia Qinglin was re-elected to his post. Last month Jia's portfolio was enhanced with his ascension to secretary of the city's Communist Party. It is unusual for one person to hold both post concurrently.
Earthquake: homeless and injured settling in to shelters
( Shelter for all quake victims ) It was announced today that all victims of last week's eathquake in northern China have been relocated to emergency shelters and that snow-bound roads have been cleared for passage of relief supplies. "More than 11,000 makeshift houses have been built for 44,000 homeless residents. Fifty people were killed and 12,000 injured in the quake, which measured 6.2 on the Richter scale," reports the South China Morning Post.
Burma: (14/1/98) ( Burma: 'Honoring Those Who Fought For Freedom' by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi) This month will mark Burma's Golden anniversary of her independence from British colonial rule. In a letter published by the Mainichi Daily in Japan, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi takes stock of this fifty year period, noting the sobering irony that Burma's citizens enjoyed more freedoms under colonialism than they do under the present regime.
( BurmaSong Home Page ) ( About Aung San Suu Kyi )
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 maintain one's integrity---in discharging the affairs of government. . . . .