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China Briefs: Jan 21, 2009

Reports on China from around the world
By Gisela Sommer, Epoch Times
January 23, 2009

Jan 21 -- China warns of "grim" fight against deadly bird flu
BEIJING (Reuters) – China faces a "grim" situation in preventing and controlling human cases of bird flu, the health minister said, after announcing four human infections in the last two weeks and three deaths.

The H5N1 strain of flu remains largely a virus among birds, but experts fear it could change into a form that is easily transmitted among humans and could spark a pandemic that could kill millions worldwide

Jan 21 -- China urges Obama to cut ties with Taiwan  
BEIJING (The Manila Times) – With President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration just hours away, China’s military on Tuesday urged the incoming US administration to remove barriers to bilateral military relations.

“Facing the current difficulties in military relations, we call for the United States to take concrete measures to remove the obstacles,” Defense Ministry spokesman Hu Changming said at a press conference upon the release of China’s sixth white paper on national defense.

Jan 21 -- Barack Obama inauguration: China cuts references to communism from speech
BEIJING (The Telegraph, Richard Spencer) – Chinese media have begun censoring President Barack Obama's inaugural speech, cutting references to "communism" and "dissent" from transcripts.

Even as the speech was being broadcast, his reference to the defeat of "fascism and communism" seemed too much for the state's central broadcaster, CCTV.

Some, but not all, of the major news websites quickly followed suit, posting the full transcript of the speech but with offending words removed.

Jan 21 -- Obama speech censored in China
BEIJING (BBC News, Michael Bristow) – China has censored parts of the new US president's inauguration speech that have appeared on a number of websites.

Live footage of the event on state television also cut away from Barack Obama when communism was mentioned. China's leaders appear to have been upset by references to facing down communism and silencing dissent.

English-language versions of the speech have been allowed on the internet, but many of the Chinese translations have omitted sensitive sections.

Jan 21 -- Mandela calls Obama 'voice of hope',  China cuts speech  
PARIS (AFP) – Revered international statesman Nelson Mandela led a near-global welcome for new US President Barack Obama but China censored Obama's inauguration speech to cut references to dissent.

Censors cut Obama's declaration that "earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions."

The People's Daily, the Communist Party mouthpiece, published a translated text on its website, omitting the word communism. The line about dissent was cut entirely.
China's two biggest Internet portals, Sina and Sohu, did the same. But there was widespread comment on the speech on Chinese Internet forums.

Jan 21 -- Obama's address censored in China  
The Washington Times (Christ O’Brien) – For China's notoriously conservative propaganda czars, the decision to allow President Obama's inauguration speech to be beamed live into the nation's homes was bold. It backfired as soon as Mr. Obama said the C-word — communism.

Several Internet users posted their own undoctored translations of Mr. Obama's speech and left angry comments criticizing the censors' actions.

An open letter published on the Chinese-language Web site titled "Boycott CCTV, Resist Brainwashing," said the network had failed the Chinese people by bombarding them with propaganda.

Jan 21 -- Welcome President Obama (and don't let the door hit you  on the way in)
China-e-lobby (D.J. McGuire) – In his inaugural address to launch his Administration, President Barack Obama had this to say to the tyrants of the world (BBC):
To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of
dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history.

Clearly, the Chinese Communist Party didn't get the memo. Their actions over the last few days made it abundantly clear that they intend to keep the President's version of "history" at arms length.

Jan 21 -- China says hopes ties with Obama's U.S. deepen  
LISBON (Reuters, Shrikesh Laxmidas and Axel Bugge) – China hopes to deepen ties with the United States under President Barack Obama, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said on Wednesday.

Obama took office on Tuesday. Web sites in China censored references to communism and dissent in his inauguration speech.

Jan 21 -- China's state media nervous on Obama, praises Bush  
BEIJING (AFP) – China's state-run media expressed nervousness on Wednesday over the future of relations with the United States under President Barack Obama, as it paid tribute to George W. Bush.

The most precious legacy of Bush's eight years in power were the stabilising of Sino-US relations, according to an editorial in the English-language China Daily -- a vehicle for the government to air views to a foreign audience.

Jan 21 -- Two men arrested for exporting sensitive technology to China  
LOS ANGELES  (AFP) – Two men were arrested in California for their alleged role in separate schemes to illegally export controlled items to China and purchase counterfeit electronics for sale in the United States, the FBI said Wednesday.

Jan 21 -- Chinese Attorney Li Heping: "The Persecution of Falun Gong is a Criminal Act that Abuses Public Power" – On October 31, 2008, Attorney Li Heping defended Falun Gong practitioner Wang Sanying in the Xinhua District Court, Shijiazhuang City, Hebei Province. Attorney Li pointed out that according to Chinese law, there is nothing illegal about the practice of Falun Gong. In fact, it is the persecution that is illegal.

"I hope to see more people pay attention to Falun Gong. The injustice imposed on them is barbaric and unfair, an attack on human conscience and human nature. I feel every Chinese, no matter in what social class or profession, should care about the plight of Falun Gong. Only by caring about the most vulnerable group can you really tend to your own interest. Only by defending the most vulnerable group's rights can you really guarantee your own rights. I wish people didn't think the persecution is just the plight of Falun Gong. In my view, it's the plight of all Chinese people and the entire world. This persecution must end soon and can no longer last."

Jan 21 -- Temporary stop to chicken from China  
PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia (The Star, Mazwin Nik Anis) – The Veterinary Services Department has recommended a temporary suspension on the import of chicken from China after the Chinese New Year following the avian flu outbreak there.

Veterinary Services Department director-general Datuk Dr Abdul Aziz Jamaluddin said the department felt it was necessary to make the recommendation although the province where government-approved chicken processing plants were situated was not affected by the outbreak.

He said reports by the agriculture councillor at the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing stated that there were no cases of avian or bird flu in Shandong Province where the two plants were located.

Jan 21 -- China Oil Fund  Fuels Criticism  
BOSTON (Radio Free Asia, Michael Lelyveld) – China's government is reportedly planning a large fund to help control oil prices as its energy policies remain in flux.

On Jan. 9, the state-controlled China Daily said the country would establish "a giant government-led fund along the lines of the National Social Security Fund in a bid to stabilize oil supply, demand and prices."

The fund, which reportedly awaits approval by the State Council, would be used to build up crude oil reserves and "increase the negotiating power of China in oil trade with other countries," China Daily said.

Jan 21 -- China Shipping Container warns on 2008 profit  
HONG KONG (Reuters) – China Shipping Container Lines, the world's eight-largest container shipper, said 2008 earnings likely fell more than 50 percent as export cargoes from China fell and global shipping capacity growth exceeded demand.

Jan 21 -- China Life Falls After Company Warns of 50% Profit Decline  
Bloomberg  (Zhao Yidi) – China Life Insurance Co. , the nation’s largest insurer, fell in Shanghai trading after it said yesterday that 2008 profit may have fallen by at least 50 percent.

Jan 21 -- All aboard?  Shortage of trains strains China's holiday rush  
CHENGDU, (China McClatchy Newspapers) – Every year at this time, China's rail system groans under a huge surge of holiday traffic. Travelers endure waits of hours -- even days -- in the winter chill to buy tickets. Once aboard trains, they overcrowd seats. Some sit in aisles. Others are forced to stand for trips of a day or longer.

Jan 21 -- Lunar New Year Opens Democracy Debate
HONG KONG (NTDTV) – Lunar New Year celebrations are well on their way. In Hong Kong it's also become a time of remembrance, to mourn lives lost during the Tiananmen Square massacre.

The Lunar New Year Fair is officially open and among the colorful stalls in Victoria Park you'll find democracy group Hong Kong Alliance. Apart from selling collected works of San Yan Tang, t-shirts and souvenirs, they are calling on mainland China to recognize the tragedy of the Tiananmen Massacre, move towards democracy and release human rights activists Jia Hu and Guangchen Chen.

Alliance chairman Situ Hua says people should remember the massacre and continue the efforts of those who have passed away.

Jan 16 -- Tibetans Plan ‘Subdued’ New Year
KATHMANDU (Radio Free Asia, Lobsang Choephel and Norbu Damdul) – Tibetans in exile and under Chinese rule plan to boycott upcoming New Year celebrations in a gesture aimed at honoring Tibetans who died during protests in 2008, Tibetan sources say.

Jan 21 -- Many of China's 140 million old people find the crowd to be lonely  
EurekAlert! (Durham University, Dr. Keming Yang) – It has 20 per cent of the world's population with 1.4bn people – but China's rapid economic and social change has caused its pensioners to feel lonely and alienated, a new study suggests.

Although capitalism has brought prosperity and increased political power to China, it has also caused the weakening of a traditional society that had collectivism and strong family ties at its heart.

The study by Durham University and the University of Reading, published in Ageing and Society ... suggest that policy makers in China need to take urgent action to assess what is needed to improve the quality of life for its 140 million older people, who collectively amount to the largest older population in the world.

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