China in growth push for restive Xinjiang region

Originally published by Reuters,20 May 2010

By Chris Buckley

BEIJING, May 20 (Reuters) – China will mount a vast investment drive in troubled far-west Xinjiang region, revamping taxes on energy operations in a bid to lift living standards and stifle ethnic unrest, state media said on Thursday.

The package of tax reforms, government investment targets and investment incentives for the tense region bordering central Asia emerged from a conference attended by Chinese President Hu Jintao and other senior leaders, state television reported.

Xinjiang’s population of 21 million is mainly divided between Muslim Uighurs, long the region’s majority, and Han Chinese, many of whom arrived in recent decades.

Last July, Uighur protests in Xinjiang’s regional capital, Urumqi, gave way to attacks that targeted Han Chinese. At least 197 people died in the initial violence, and two days later Han residents held protests and staged revenge attacks on Uighurs.

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China hopes development solves region’s tensions

Originally published by Associated Press (AP),21 May 2010

BEIJING — China’s leaders said faster economic development is the needed medicine for one of its most restive regions, announcing a plan Thursday that resembles efforts already under way in equally tense Tibet.

The Xinjiang region was the site of last July’s deadly rioting that was China’s worst ethnic violence in decades and left nearly 200 dead.

President Hu Jintao and other leaders urged an approach to the region that combines heavy-duty investment with “ethnic harmony,” state media reports said.

“Only by resolving the issues of the people’s livelihood can we better bring together the hearts, the knowledge and the strength of the people for Xinjiang’s long-term economic development,” said a People’s Daily editorial, quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency.

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China to Double Xinjiang Spending to Boost Stability (Update1)

Originally published by Bloomberg Businessweek,21 May 2010

 May 21 (Bloomberg) — Investment in China’s Xinjiang province, roiled by ethnic violence last year, will double in the next five years as President Hu Jintao seeks stability in the country’s second-biggest oil producing region.

Hu pledged to raise per capita gross domestic product in the sparsely populated region to the national average by 2015 and increase incomes and the level of public services to the average of the country’s western region, the official Xinhua news agency reported late yesterday after a three-day meeting on the plan. Shares of companies based in Xinjiang surged.

“The government is trying hard to reduce regional income disparities, which have escalated into a big social problem,” said Li Wei, a Shanghai-based economist at Standard Chartered Bank Plc. “Policy makers are trying to solve this problem through fast economic growth.”

Social stability in Xinjiang, a landlocked province three times the size of France, has been a priority since the provincial capital suffered China’s deadliest rioting in decades in July last year when clashes between ethnic Uighurs and Han Chinese left at least 197 people dead. To maintain order, China replaced Xinjiang’s Communist Party chief in April and only last week fully restored Internet services cut off during the riots.

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Maligning America — again

Originally published by NEW YORK POST, 18 May 2010

There they go again — bashing America on the world stage.

Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner reports that in recent talks with China, US officials put America’s human-rights record on a par with Beijing’s.

“Part of a mature [US-Chinese] relationship is that you have an open discussion, where you not only raise the other guy’s problems, but you raise your own, and you have a discussion about it, about your own [problems],” Posner said.

“We did plenty of that.”

Moreover, he said, “experts from the US side” talked about America’s “treatment of Muslim Americans in an immigration context.”

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National Security Committee meeting on Gitmo detainees postponed

Originally published by MINIVAN NEWS,19 May 2010

By Laura Restrepo Ortega

Today’s National Security Committee meeting regarding the transfer of Guantánamo Bay inmates to the Maldives [1] has been rescheduled, after Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid requested to cancel it.

The meeting has been postponed for next week, after a call from Shahid to the Chairman of the committee and leader of the People’s Alliance (PA), Abdulla Yameen.

He wanted to postpone the meeting until Parliament reconvenes in June and all committee members are back from leave.

Yameen said the meeting “was cancelled by the speaker,” and has been rescheduled for next Sunday. He said although he was not sure if all members of the committee would be present at the meeting, “we will have quorum.”

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Beijing Olympics beat terror threats, unsafe sex-report

Originally published by Reuters, 19 May 2010

By Emma Graham-Harrison

BEIJING, May 19 (Reuters) – Thorough planning enabled Beijing Olympics organisers to stave off threats to the 2008 Games ranging from bioterrorism to unsafe sex, a joint Chinese-United Nations report said on Wednesday.

Security forces dealt with several potential biological, chemical and explosive attacks, including an incident in which packages containing white powder were sent to five unidentified embassies in Beijing, the report said.

Tests later proved the powder was harmless, a Beijing Health Bureau official said, adding that information about the previously unpublicised scare had come from “anti-terrorism” security forces.

The other episodes involved plans by “overseas terrorists” to target Olympic venues, explosives on a plane at Beijing airport and rumours of an explosion on the metro, the report said, without giving further details.

“The Health Legacy of the 2008 Olympic Games”, launched by the World Health Organisation and the Beijing Olympic City Development Organisation, assessed the long-term impact of the Beijing Games and drew lessons for future mass events.

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New Book Says Obama Offered Skadden’s Craig Judgeship

Originally published by THE AM LAW DAILY,18 May 2010

By Zach Lowe

 Political junkies are rejoicing today about the release of a new book about President Obama’s first year in office. Those interested in the personalities of the folks who populate the administration’s upper ranks will surely enjoy Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter detail Rahm Emanuel’s macho back-and-forth with staffers (he instructs one male aid to “take your tampon out!” at one meeting) and the playful rapport between David Axelrod, a longtime Obama adviser, and Larry Summers, head of the president’s National Economic Council. (There’s also this: Summers apparently sweats in the winter, something Obama poked fun at, Politico reports).

But for our purposes, the key early revelation from Alter’s book is that Obama offered Gregory Craig a judgeship in order to ease Craig’s forced departure from his spot as the president’s first White House counsel, according to Politico’s early reading of Alter’s book.

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Beijing seeks a fresh start in Xinjiang

Originally published by Asia Times,19 May 2010

By Wu Zhong

HONG KONG – It was not much of a surprise when the power center of the Chinese Communist party (CCP) announced in April that Wang Lequan, the “King of Xinjiang”, was being removed as party secretary of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China.

It was a surprise, however, when the People’s Daily, the CCP’s flagship newspaper, published a lengthy special report on May 7 praising Wang’s “contributions to the stability and prosperity in Xinjiang” over the past two decades. Publishing a report that salutes a provincial leader who has just been removed is rare – if not unprecedented – for a government mouthpiece.

The CCP has taken extreme care over the reshuffle of the party leadership in Xinjiang, fearing it could impact on the seemingly stable situation in this “new frontier” province where riots last July by the Uyghur ethnic group left nearly 200 dead.

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