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May 9, 2010

China disbars two rights defense lawyers

BEIJING (Reuters) – Two human rights lawyers who represented defendants in sensitive cases, including members of the banned Falun Gong sect, have been permanently disbarred, according to the Beijing bureau of justice.

Tang Jitian, 42, and Liu Wei, 33, had their license to practice revoked after being accused by the Beijing municipal bureau of justice of “disrupting order in court and interfering with proper litigation procedure,” according to a notice posted on the bureau’s website.

May 7, 2010

Uighur leader killed in Pakistan: Interior Minister

BEIJING (Reuters) – Pakistan and China have “broken the back” of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which China accuses of orchestrating attacks in its restive Xinjiang region, Pakistan’s Interior Minister said in Beijing on Friday.

An alleged leader of the group, about which little is known, has been killed, Rehman Malik said at the end of a visit to discuss security cooperation between the two countries.

Apr 30, 2010

EU, China talk over how, not if, to sanction Iran

BEIJING (Reuters) – European talks with Chinese leaders over Iran have moved toward how to target sanctions rather than whether they should be applied at all, the European Union said on Friday.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said she told Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao sanctions were needed to keep pressure on Iran over its nuclear activities and that she felt China had accepted that position.

Apr 29, 2010

China’s Wen reassures foreigners on investment climate

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese premier Wen Jiabao reiterated reassurances to foreign companies that they will not be discriminated against in the Chinese market, while calling on European leaders to recognise China as a market economy.

Wen’s comments after meeting with European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso on Thursday come a few days before China is due to implement sweeping new regulations on standards, that foreign technology firms and manufacturers say will raise the costs and risks of doing business in the country.

Apr 28, 2010

China warns recovery threatens energy, emission goals

BEIJING, April 28 (Reuters) – As China’s economy has roared back to life, its goals of increasing energy efficiency and cutting emissions have been compromised, the cabinet said on Wednesday.

The statement by the State Council marks one of the few instances of official concern over the costs of China’s stimulus programme in late 2008, and subsequent rapid recovery. It could mark a return to stricter regulation, especially of polluting industries.

Environmental regulation decreased, lending soared and a number of industrial projects were given the green light during the past 18 months, as China pulled out the stops to offset a sharp drop in international demand for its exports.

Over the past four years, the use of energy per unit of GDP has fallen by 14.38 percent, the State Council said in a statement carried on state television, but this is still far short of the national goal of a 20 percent drop during the five years ending in 2010.

"Especially since the third quarter of last year, high energy consuming, high emitting industries have grown rapidly, and some shuttered production facilities have resumed operations," said the statement, also published on www.gov.cn.

"The strong drop in energy intensity has slowed or even begun to rise, and the situation regarding cutting energy use and emissions is grim."

The statement reiterated a number of targets for cutting overcapacity in polluting industries, including iron, steel, thermal power plants, cement and aluminium.

Last month, the minister of industry and information technology said China would raise environmental and energy efficiency requirements as a way to rein in severe overcapacity in those industries.

Overcapacity has worsened in many of those industries since the crisis, as local governments accelerated lending and approvals of projects in order to keep the economy humming.





Apr 27, 2010

China defines commercial secrets after Rio Tinto trial

BEIJING, April 27 (Reuters) – China has issued definitions
of what constitutes commercial secrets for its hundreds of
state-owned firms, in line with a draft law that also requires
telecommunications and Internet operators to give authorities
access to information sent through their networks.

The draft is part of an effort to codify what is a secret
in China, after a trial of four Rio Tinto <RIO.AX><RIO.L>
employees drew international attention to the country’s vague
secrets laws. Those laws have long concern human rights
advocates.

Apr 26, 2010

China market access more critical to U.S. firms – AmCham

BEIJING (Reuters) – U.S. firms working in China are more concerned about regulatory and policy issues than about pushing China to revalue its currency, the head of the American Chamber of Commerce said in Beijing on Monday.

American businesses are encountering new obstacles to market access as China’s growing economy leads them to expand deeper into inland provinces, AmCham president Christian Murck told reporters.

Apr 14, 2010

China steps up quake rescue effort as death toll hits 589

BEIJING, April 15 (Reuters) – The death toll from a powerful earthquake in southwest China has risen to 589, Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday, with hundreds of homes and some schools toppled in the remote mountainous Tibetan Plateau.

The agency quoted local quake-relief headquarters as giving the figure following Wednesday’s quake, which also injured thousands. The death toll had earlier stood at 400.

Hundreds of troops have been sent to Qinghai Province’s Yushu county. Xinhua said teams of rescue workers, as well as health and disease control experts had also been dispatched, together with groups tasked with detecting aftershocks.

Local officials had spoken on Wednesday of the urgent need for medicine and medical workers.

"I see injured people everywhere. The biggest problem now is that we lack tents, we lack medical equipment, medicine and medical workers," Zhuohuaxia, a local spokesman, told Xinhua.

Some aid shipments from private organisations have set off from the provincial capital, Xining.

More than 10,000 people were injured and thousands left homeless in freezing conditions after a series of quakes and aftershocks caused many of the low, mud-brick buildings in county to collapse, residents and state media said.

A dam has "cracked", Xinhua said, and "workers are trying to prevent the outflow of water". It was not immediately clear how large the dam was or what damage it could cause if it burst.

The main 6.9 quake was centred in the mountains that divide Qinghai province from the Tibet Autonomous Region.

"People are very scared," said Pierre Deve, with Snowland Service Group, a local non-government organisation, adding that many had already given up hope for those still trapped.

Some bridges and roads around Yushu have cracked or been cut off completely, which could complicate rescue efforts, state television said. The airport is open, but the road connecting it to the county seat has been heavily damaged, it added.

The Tibetan plateau is regularly shaken by earthquakes, though casualties are usually minimal because so few people live there.

Yushu is home to some 100,000 people, spread over a vast area, but the quake struck near the relatively highly-populated county seat of Jyeku.

Government officials told state media the majority of houses had been badly damaged.

Photos showed larger concrete buildings mostly intact, with rubble around them.



RESCUE EFFORTS

President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have demanded no effort be spared in rescue attempts, and sent Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu to Qinghai to oversee relief work, state television said.

Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who was born in Qinghai, said in a statement he was praying for the victims.

"It is my hope that all possible assistance and relief work will reach these people. I am also exploring how I, too, can contribute to these efforts," said the Nobel Peace Prize winner, accused by Beijing of promoting Tibetan independence.

He says he simply wants more meaningful autonomy for Tibet.

Xinhua reported that the early morning quake had caused some schools and part of a government office building to cave in. Some vocational school students and primary school students were trapped in the rubble, it said, although residents said most students had been able to flee to playgrounds.

"Most of the schools in Yushu were built fairly recently and should have been able to withstand the earthquake," said Wang Liling, a volunteer worker for Gesanghua, a Chinese charity that helps school children in Qinghai. Her group, she said, had heard that a vocational school collapsed in Yushu.

Xinhua quoted one teacher, identified only by his surname Chang, at an Yushu primary school who said five of their pupils had died when the buildings collapsed.

"Morning sessions did not begin when the quake happened. Some pupils ran out of dorms alive, and those who had not escaped in time were buried," Chang said.

The widespread collapse of school buildings when other surrounding buildings stayed standing, caused anger and accusations of corruption after the devastating May 2008 earthquake in Sichuan Province, which killed 80,000.

The quake was centred in the mountains that divide Qinghai province from the Tibet Autonomous Region.

The foothills to the south and east of the area are home to herders and Tibetan monasteries of Yushu county, while the area to the north and west is arid and desolate. (Additional reporting by Chris Buckley, Liu Zhen and Huang Yan, and Bappa Majumdar in New Delhi; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Charles Dick)





Apr 14, 2010

Strong quake kills 300; destroys homes on Tibet plateau

BEIJING, April 14 (Reuters) – A magnitude 6.9 earthquake on Wednesday killed about 300 people in the mountainous Tibetan Plateau in southwest China and left more than 8,000 injured as houses, schools and offices collapsed.

A series of quakes and aftershocks caused low, brick buildings in Qinghai Province’s ethnically Tibetan Yushu county to collapse, residents and state media said. Troops have been dispatched to the area.

About 300 had been killed in the county seat, also known as Jyeku, state television said, citing the deputy secretary-general of the Yushu government, Huang Limin.

The Tibetan plateau is regularly shaken by earthquakes, but casualties are usually minimal because so few people live there.

Many residents of the remote area could be left without shelter in temperatures that hover near freezing in Yushu, and even colder in the high mountain villages. Government officials told state media the majority of houses had been badly damaged.

"I see injured people everywhere. The biggest problem now is that we lack tents, we lack medical equipment, medicine and medical workers," Zhuohuaxia, a local spokesman, told the Xinhua news agency.

Xinhua reported that the early morning quake had caused some schools and part of a government office building to cave in. Some vocational school students and primary school students were trapped in the rubble, it said, although residents said students at some schools had been able to flee to the playgrounds.

The widespread collapse of school buildings when other surrounding buildings stayed standing, caused anger and accusations of corruption after the devastating May 2008 earthquake in Sichuan Province, which killed 80,000 people.

"A lot of one-storey houses have collapsed. Taller buildings have held up, but there are big cracks in them," resident Talen Tashi told Reuters.

People from the Yushu prefecture highway department were frantically trying to dig out colleagues trapped in a collapsed building, department official Ji Guodong said by telephone.

"The homes are built with thick walls and are strong, but if they collapsed they could hurt many people inside," Zhuo De told Reuters by phone from the capital of Qinghai province after contacting his family in Yushu.

The quake was centered in the mountains that divide Qinghai province from the Tibet Autonomous Region.

The foothills to the south and east of the area are home to herders and Tibetan monasteries of Yushu county, while the area to the north and west is arid and desolate.

The quake was centred 150 miles (240 km) north northwest of Qamdo in Tibet and 235 miles (375 km) south southeast of the mining town of Golmud in Qinghai, and had a depth of 6.2 miles (10 km), the United States Geological Service said.

A magnitude 5.0 quake struck the same region late on Tuesday night, and aftershocks of magnitude-6 and over rattled the town Wednesday morning, sending fearful residents into the streets.

(Additional reporting by Chris Buckley, Ben Blanchard, Liu Zhen and Sally Huang; Editing by Ken Wills and Sanjeev Miglani)

Apr 7, 2010

Steel tycoon’s travel possibly “restricted” after Rio trial

BEIJING, April 7 (Reuters) – A Chinese steel tycoon may
have been barred from leaving the province of Shandong, a
newspaper said on Wednesday, adding to speculation over his
whereabouts since he testified that he gave $9 million to a Rio
Tinto employee convicted for graft.

Billionaire Du Shuanghua was the surprise witness in the
Rio Tinto trial last month in which a number of private steel
mills and independent iron ore traders were named as the source
of bribes paid to four Rio Tinto <RIO.L><RIO.AX> employees in
order to secure low-cost, term iron ore contracts enjoyed by
China’s state-owned steel mills.

    • About Lucy

      "I am the Reuters Insider correspondent in China, where I have lived for ten of the last 15 years. Prior areas of coverage include political and general news, as well as commodities and energy policy and markets."
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