Burma Update: ASEAN to listen to Aung San Suu Kyi Opinion

INDONESIA’S foreign minister says the opinion of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and civil society will influence whether Myanmar is invited to chair the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2014.

Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told The Associated Press he would travel to Myanmar in October as ASEAN assesses if the military-dominated country is on track, as it makes tentative steps toward reform.

He said Myanmar was extremely keen to take on the rotating chairmanship of the 10-member regional grouping, currently held by Indonesia. He described that as “an important opportunity to hasten change”.

Mr Natalegawa said: “I shall be keen to listen and to hear the voice of civil society, not least the voice of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.”


Tibet: The Myth of Socialist Paradise; Report worthy of be republished and a read again-Send it on!

By LOBSANG SANGAY via The New York Times

THREE years ago, Tibetans from Lhasa to Lithang rose up against Chinese rule in Tibet. Earlier this week, a Tibetan monk set himself on fire — the second self-immolation this year, and a testament to China’s continuing repression and Tibetans’ continued resistance. We do not encourage protests, but it is our sacred duty to support our voiceless and courageous compatriots.

In 1950, when the Chinese Army first came to Tibet, they promised a socialist paradise for Tibetans. After more than 60 years of misrule, Tibet is no socialist paradise. There is not socialism but colonialism; there is no paradise, only tragedy.

Some Tibetans helped build roads to Tibet from China and were paid in silver coins by polite and respectful Chinese soldiers. However, once the roads were built in early 1950s, tanks encircled strategic urban areas, trucks headed straight to the mineral-rich mountains, and Chinese workers arrived later to exploit and mine billions of dollars worth of gold, copper and uranium. Overnight, it seemed, something had changed. The polite Chinese people changed, too, and became overbearing and aggressive. They used their guns. Battles erupted. There was death and destruction.

The continuing political repression, cultural assimilation, economic marginalization and environmental destruction in occupied Tibet are unacceptable. The new railway line from Beijing to Lhasa is bringing more heavy equipment to exploit our natural resources and more Chinese migrants, who are beginning to demographically dominate Tibet.

Today, around 70 percent of private-sector firms are owned or run by Chinese, more than 50 percent of government officials are Chinese, and approximately 40 percent of Tibetans with university and high school degrees are unemployed. And this is made worse by Chinese officials who treat Tibet as their personal inheritance, and behave like latter-day feudal lords.

Earlier this year, several Chinese leaders visited Lhasa to celebrate 60 years of so-called peaceful liberation. But the reality is that the anniversary was observed under undeclared martial law. Troops carried automatic machine guns as they marched through the streets of Lhasa while sharpshooters positioned themselves on rooftops. Tourists, of course, were banned from visiting during the “celebration.”

The Tibetan political leadership is still committed to nonviolence and a peaceful resolution through dialogue. We will continue our “middle way” policy, which seeks genuine autonomy for Tibet within the People’s Republic of China, a win-win proposition for both the Tibetans and the Chinese.

China aspires to be a superpower. It has a fast-growing economy backed by growing military power, but sadly, its moral power is lagging behind. And moral power cannot be bought in the marketplace or forced with military might. It has to be earned.

As long as Tibetans are reduced to second-class citizens in their own homeland, there will be resistance to Chinese rule. Finding a lasting solution to the Tibet question, on the other hand, would improve China’s image in the eyes of the world and help protect its territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Peaceful dialogue could lead to genuine Tibetan autonomy within China. This is a solution that would satisfy both Tibetan and Chinese interests and it would be a victory not only for the Tibetan people, but for all marginalized people around the world.

Lobsang Sangay was sworn in last week as the kalon tripa, or prime minister, of the Tibetan government in exile.

Fitch Ratings Co warns of rising China credit risk

Source: The Associated Press

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Fitch Ratings said Thursday that China’s credit risk has increased because local governments have become heavily indebted, with a lack of disclosure by financial institutions compounding the problem.

The comments by Fitch, one of the three major credit rating agencies, come amid concerns that borrowings by local authorities in China for expensive public works may overwhelm the ability of some local governments to repay banks.

Senior Director Jonathan Lee of Fitch Ratings in Taiwan said a large chunk of the lending has gone into unprofitable infrastructure, raising the prospect of default.

“Credit risk has risen from an over-extension of loans to local governments and property – both of which have questionable medium-term repayment capacity,” Lee said during a conference in Taipei.

Chinese local governments borrowed heavily over the past decade to build subways and other infrastructure that the central government in Beijing initially promised to fund but then pulled out of.

Borrowing by local governments increased after Beijing ordered higher spending on public works as part of its economic stimulus to fend off the 2008 global crisis.

In June, Beijing revealed that local governments have piled up 10.7 trillion yuan ($1.6 trillion) in debt, the equivalent of 25 percent of China’s annual economic output.

Lee also highlighted concerns about Chinese banks moving to offload the local loans. He said the process of bundling the debts into securities continues to grow, which is transferring the credit risk to a broader group of investors.

“Disclosure is very poor, and there is no legal framework guiding (these activities), which means that unwinding products in the event of default could get very messy,” he said.

© 2011 The Associated Press

China to monitor officials traveling abroad; to stop corrupt ones from fleeing the country

BEIJING (AP) — China has launched a program to try to stop corrupt officials from fleeing the country by monitoring transfers of funds and reviewing applications for overseas travel, a government management body said Friday.

Corruption is endemic in China, with huge amounts of money involved, and the ruling Communist Party has said repeatedly that the problem threatens its hold on power.

The yearlong program, launched this month, has been implemented in 10 regions including Guangdong and Shanghai, according to a report posted on the Ministry of Supervision website.

The program is the latest of numerous efforts in recent years by the central government to curb graft, often a focal point of protests by ordinary Chinese. But it remains common among party and government officials.

In June, a central bank report said thousands of corrupt officials had stolen more than $120 billion and fled overseas since the mid-1990s – with the U.S. a top destination.

Chinese officials have since backed away from the report, saying the numbers in it were incorrect, while adding China is “strengthening international cooperation in law enforcement to catch and prevent corrupt officials from fleeing abroad.”

The latest campaign will require overseas travel by officials and their family members to be closely reviewed while local governments will closely monitor asset transfers abroad, the report said.

The Ministry of Supervision is part of the State Council, or Cabinet, and is responsible for supervising the work of all State Council departments, civil servants and other government employees, and investigating violations of administrative regulations involving them.

The report said local officials should submit more detailed documents for investigations into corruption cases and prevent corrupt officials from fleeing to “safeguard the party’s image and national interests.”

In recent years, Chinese prosecutors have made some high-profile takedowns in hopes of deterring graft among the rank and file. In China’s largest recent corruption scandal, the powerful party boss of Shanghai, Chen Liangyu, was sentenced in 2008 to 18 years in prison.

Tibetans’ New Leader; One Month Into His First Term – Update

Source: http://www.atc.org.au

It’s been one month since the historic inauguration of Dr Lobsang Sangay, the new Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. After running an impressive modern election campaign few would deny that Dr Sangay changed forever the nature of Tibetan politics. Never before had Tibetans young and old taken a keener interest in the future direction of the Tibetan exile community.

Now, one month into his term, Tibet watchers including the Tibetan Political Review have been analysing closely Dr Sangay’s first moves since taking office. The Harvard scholar has wasted no time in walking the talk and pushing ahead with a progressive agenda.

Many of Dr Sangay’s core policies, particularly his emphasis on education and empowering young Tibetans, were already evident when ATC brought him to Australia in 2008 to co-host a groundbreaking conference of Tibetan and Chinese youths.

Dr Simon Bradshaw, who accompanied Dr Sangay during his week-long Australian visit recently offered some observations on his time with the Tibetans’ new leader.

Recently, as major news outlets began their preparations for Dr Sangay’s inauguration on 8 August as Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, I received a call from an ABC journalist curious to know what insights I might have gained into his character.

Back then,…..



Corrupt Chinese Officials Take $123 Billion Overseas; Report

China’s rulers say corrupt cadres are the nation’s worst enemy. Now, according to a report that was given widespread coverage this week in local media, Beijing says that enemy resides overseas, particularly in the U.S.

The 67-page report from China’s central bank looks at where corrupt officials go and how they get their money out. A favored method is to squirrel cash away with the help of loved ones emigrating abroad, schemes that often depend on fake documents.

News of the study got prominent notice this week in Chinese media. A sample headline from page one of the Shanghai Daily on Thursday: “Destination America For China’s Corrupt Officials.”

The reports said the study was posted to the website of China’s central bank. While the PDF document remains widely available in Chinese cyberspace, the report – dated June 2008 and identified as “confidential” – no longer appears on the People’s Bank of China website.

The central bank didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Though the report reads like an academic study, it doesn’t cite a clear conclusion.

Instead, it is broken into two main sections, the first starting with estimates that up to 18,000 corrupt officials and employees of state-owned enterprises have fled abroad or gone into hiding since the mid-1990s. They are suspected of pilfering coffers to the tune of 800 billion yuan, or $123 billion — a sum that works out to 2% of last year’s gross domestic product.

The higher ranking they were, the report says, the more likely they were to go to Western nations. Top destinations for high-level thieves included the U.S., Canada, Australia and the Netherlands.

Lower ranking officials taking less substantial sums went to the West indirectly, such as through Hong Kong, or sought safe haven in nearby countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Mongolia and Russia.

The somewhat juicier second section of the report deals with how they got money out. Here the report names names, but primarily only in the cases of those who were caught.

In one case, Xu Fangming, a former Ministry of Finance official allegedly deposited roughly 1 million yuan into the bank account of a son studying abroad. In another, Cheng Kejie, a top politician got his mistress settled in Hong Kong and funneled money to her.

Some of the stories are well known. Among the most notable is the tale of Zhang Jian, a former Communist Party chief of Haimen in Jiangsu province, who famously dumped his ill-gotten 18 million yuan into Macao casinos. According to the report, he funded his 48 visits over two years with credit cards.

Though China’s appetite for U.S. bonds is more attention-getting, talks with Beijing on cross border money laundering already figure prominently into the Sino-U.S. economic relationship. After the latest Strategic and Economic Dialogue in May, for instance, the U.S. said China agreed to strengthen its money-laundering controls.

China’s central bank said in the report that it plans to cooperate with foreign governments to plug the holes that allow corrupt officials to escape with their takings from the public till. The central bank has become increasingly involved in international anti-money laundering organizations, including the inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force.

The U.S. Embassy declined to comment on the report’s citation of the U.S. as the favored destination for China’s official theives. The report also neglects to explain why the pilferers seem to prefer the U.S., but the country’s lack an extradition agreement with China is almost certainly a factor.

China questioned Australia’s rights record: WikiLeaks cables- Is This Good or Bad?

A confidential cable posted on whistle-blowing website Wiki Leaks says Chinese officials “sought answers” on how the Australian Government had been handling human rights issues.

The cable is believed to have come from the US embassy in Canberra in 2009.

It reports on Australian talks with Chinese officials who visited the country earlier that year as part of the Australia-China Human Rights Dialogue.

The cable says Chinese delegates wanted the Australian Government to explain its treatment of Aborigines, specifically in regard to the Northern Territory intervention.

Also on the Chinese agenda were conditions at the Christmas Island detention centre, the handling of the trial of suspected terrorist aide Mohamed Haneef and government attempts to block internet pornography.

The cable notes that Australian officials, in turn, wanted the Chinese to justify the “executions” and torture of human rights advocates, organ harvesting and media restrictions in the country.

The document contains a comment about the federal intervention in the Territory being a case of “one size does not fit all”.

The cable says “many officials” involved in the intervention “lamented” that they lacked staff and money to meet their goals.

It also says the income management policy “assumes all families abuse children and drink excessively”.

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