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Week of August 16, 2002

Week of August 16, 2002

The U.S. and China This Week

DOMESTIC: Former Everbright chief expelled from party

The former head of Everbright Bank has been kicked out of the Chinese Communist Party. Party investigators declared Zhu Xiaohua to be guilty of financial crimes, including taking kickbacks and illegally approving loans. Zhu is among several high-profile officials recently charged with financial crimes. Other high-ranking figures found guilty of corruption have faced severe penalties. Zhu's expulsion is part of a nation-wide campaign against financial crimes waged to combat the corruption which plagues the Communist Party. Party officials fear that corruption among top officials will undermine its popular support during this critical period of transition to a free-market economy.


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DOMESTIC: Falun Gong members prosecuted in Hong Kong

A Hong Kong court fined 16 Falun Gong members for public obstruction and other offences. The case is the first ever in which members of the controversial spiritual movement have been prosecuted in Hong Kong. The 16 defendants, including four Swiss, one New Zealander, and two US citizens, were each fined between HK$1,300 and HK$3,800 (US$165-486). Their fine was well below the maximum penalty which includes up to two years in jail. The defendants remained adamant of their innocence, vowing not to pay the fine.

The defendants were charged after a protest in March in which they denounced the mainland's crackdown on Falun Gong. In his decision, the magistrate in charge of the case said people in Hong Kong had the right to protest and hold demonstrations, but that "these rights are not absolute. They require a very delicate balance," he said, "having regard to overall circumstances, such as the time and place." Hong Kong residents had mixed reactions to the outcome of the trial, some expressing concern that their freedom of speech was being threatened, and others urging more faith in the judiciary.

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CROSS STRAIT RELATIONS: Taiwan claims confidence in repelling invasion

In the latest move of this month's dispute regarding the sovereignty of Taiwan, the island's defense minister Tang Yiau-ming said Taiwan is confident of repelling any Chinese invasion. Tang told reporters that the mainland could not afford to pay the price of invasion, and claimed that Taiwan held air superiority. Tang commented on earlier remarks made by China's state media warning Taiwan against a referendum; their warning, he said, was nothing but "empty talk." The minister claimed that there have been no abnormal troop movements on the mainland since President Chen Shui-bian's controversial remarks earlier this month.


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DOMESTIC: Death toll reaches 200 as severe flooding continues

Around 200 people are feared dead after heavy rains trigger floods and landslides. The heavy rains, beginning this August, were described as the heavies to hit the region in years. Around 38 million people have been affected by the floods, according to an official with Hunan's Civil Affairs Bureau. Hunan province, which has been among the most heavily hit, has called in the army to help evacuate flood victims and rebuild roads. The International Red Cross has also offered to assist. Officials fear the death toll may rise even further as more rain is predicted for this weekend.

The southwestern province of Yunnan has also suffered from heavy rains. A massive landslide in Xinping County killed an estimated 67 people on Wednesday. The landslide crashed into villages around 4:00am giving villagers little warning or time to flee. The disaster destroyed 600 houses in 10 villages, and washed away the tobacco plants from which many villagers derive their livelihood. Rescue teams were forced to rely on hand tools to dig through large piles of mud and rock, fearing that heavy machinery might harm survivors.

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The U.S. and China This Week
The U.S. and China This Week

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