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Posts Tagged ‘Hu Jintao’

TV report of China leader’s death fuels political rumor mill

Posted by Admin on July 8, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/tv-report-china-leaders-death-fuels-political-rumor-092510202.html

By Benjamin Lim and Sui-Lee Wee | Reuters – 23 hrs ago

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese state media denied rum ours on Thursday that former president Jiang Zemin had died after a Hong Kong television station said he had, sparking a wave of speculation about a leadership transition due next year.

“Recent reports of some overseas media organizations about Jiang Zemin’s death from illness are pure rumor,” the official Xinhua news agency quoted “authoritative sources” as saying.

Jiang, 84, is in poor health. Three sources with ties to China’s leadership told Reuters that he is in intensive care in Beijing at the No. 301 military hospital after suffering a heart attack.

In the opaque world of Chinese politics, the health of a leader is fodder for rumors about how the balance of power is shifting at the highest levels of the government.

Current President Hu Jintao retires from office from late next year in a sweeping leadership overhaul, and the rumors about Jiang’s health underscore the uncertainties around this.

Hong Kong’s Asia Television interrupted its main newscast on Wednesday evening to announce solemnly that Jiang had died, and followed with a brief profile. It kept up the news for several hours on a ticker and then said it would air a special report on Jiang’s life late in the evening.

It later canceled the report, and withdrew the ticker after failing to get official confirmation.

On Thursday afternoon, the television station issued a statement to apologize to its audience and Jiang’s family.

“Asia Television has taken note of this afternoon’s report from Xinhua and has withdrawn last night’s report about Mr. Jiang Zemin’s death and would like to apologize to our audience and Mr. Jiang Zemin’s family,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, the Shandong News website (www.sdnews.com.cn) in northeast China posted a black banner with white characters, saying “Our Respectable Comrade Jiang Zemin Is Immortal.” The site was no longer accessible on Thursday.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei deflected numerous questions about Jiang at a regular news briefing, saying Xinhua had already made a full explanation and that he had nothing further to add.

Searches on a popular Chinese micro-blogging site with terms ranging from “Jiang Zemin” to the Yangtze River (Jiang’s surname means “river”), are blocked, a sign that China’s censors are concerned about public debate about his health.

Premature reports about the demise of Chinese leaders are hardly new. In the 1990s, Hong Kong and Japanese media reported several times that paramount leader Deng Xiaoping had died.

UNCERTAINTY FOR JIANG ALLIES

Jiang Zemin’s passing — on the surface at least — would likely have limited impact on the direction of China’s politics and economic development.

He retired long ago, handing over the Communist Party’s top job to Hu in 2002 and his other posts over the next two years. Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao have since led the country on a decade-long charge that saw it grow from an economy the size of Britain to one that has surpassed Japan.

But the prospect of Jiang’s passing would add a breeze of uncertainty to a transition that is widely thought to hand power from Hu to a new generation led by Xi Jinping, currently vice president. That would take place at the 18th Communist Party Congress expected sometime in the autumn of 2012.

Xi, anointed as Hu’s heir apparent at the congress in 2007, was considered acceptable to both the Hu and Jiang camps.

But in China, the death of a senior leader can be cause for worry, and even spell disaster, for proteges and allies who are no longer protected.

Hu would no longer have Jiang acting as a counterweight to his influence over the future make up of the next leadership.

“New leaders are selected by old leaders,” Zheng Yongnian, professor of Chinese politics at the National University of Singapore. “He’s one of the important selectorate. After he passes away, other current leaders will become more influential.”

He could also settle scores or take down other rivals with links to Jiang, if necessary.

Past leaders can have considerable clout in China. Deng wielded power as paramount leader despite having given up all his posts except the honorary chairman of the Chinese bridge association.

Jiang consolidated his own grip on power after Deng died in 1997. By the time Jiang retired his last post — as head of the military commission — in 2004, he had already stacked the Politburo with his people.

“Front and back, left and right, up and down. No matter where Hu looks, there is a Jiang man,” said one source at the time the leadership line-up was announced back in 2002.

In Jiang’s case, there are quite a few allies still in place in the leadership who might now have cause for concern, should Hu assert himself.

“If he dies, the situation becomes very delicate,” said one source with ties to leadership circles who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the subject.

Among the Jiang allies still in senior posts are: Wu Bangguo, parliament chief and the second ranking person in the nine-member Politburo Standing Committee; Jia Qinglin, who heads a parliamentary advisory body and is ranked fourth; and Li Changchun, who oversees propaganda and ideology and is ranked fifth.

How exactly it will play it out, is unclear. With the Party Congress only about 15 months away, Hu’s window to further consolidate his grip on power is considerably shorter than Jiang had as he prepared to step down.

(Writing by Brian Rhoads; Additional reporting by Alison Leung in HONG KONG and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING,; Editing by Don Durfee and John Chalmers)

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North Korea threatens nuclear ‘holy war’ with the South

Posted by Admin on December 31, 2010

http://www.headlinenewsbureau.com/siterun_data/news/world/doc210846daf07da4d680356a2bc5db1771.html

North says live-fire exercises are raising tensions • Seoul promises ‘merciless counterattack’ if provoked

Tensions on the Korean pensinsula were at their most dangerous level since the 1950-53 war today when North Korea threatened to use nuclear weapons in a “holy war” against its neighbour after South Korean tanks, jets and artillery carried out one of the largest live-fire drills in history close to the border.

The military exercise at Pocheon, just south of the demilitarized zone, was the third such show of force this week by South Korea. Multiple rocket-launchers, dozens of tanks and hundreds of troops joined the drills, which the South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak, insisted was necessary for self-defence, following two deadly attacks this year. Last month, two civilians and two marines were killed by a North Korean barrage on Yeonpyeong island following a live-fire drill in disputed territory. In March, 46 sailors died when the South Korean naval ship, Cheonan, was sunk, apparently by an enemy torpedo.

“We had believed patience would ensure peace on this land, but that was not the case,” Lee told troops today. He earlier warned that he was ready to order a “merciless counterattack” if further provoked.

North Korea’s armed forces minister, Kim Yong-chun, also lifted the pitch of the sabre-rattling. “To counter the enemy’s intentional drive to push the situation to the brink of war, our revolutionary forces are making preparations to begin a holy war at any moment necessary based on nuclear deterrent,” North Korea’s KCNA news agency quoted him telling a rally in Pyongyang.

Bellicosity and brinkmanship are nothing new on the divided peninsula and there are doubts that North Korea is capable of an accurate nuclear strike, though it has conducted two bomb tests and is believed to have enough high-grade plutonium for at least six warheads.

But even with conventional artillery, the two neighbours are capable of inflicting horrendous casualties among their densely packed populations.

The political situation is less predictable than usual due to the ongoing transition of power in Pyongyang from Kim Jong-il to his son Kim Jong-un. There has also been a hardening of positions in Seoul, where president Lee is belatedly trying to demonstrate his toughness. After being criticised for his restrained response to the two earlier incidents, Lee has fired his top military advisers and replaced them with hardliners, who favour an escalated display of self-defence.

Efforts to defuse the crisis have not been helped by divisions among the other major players in the region.

Russia has proposed sending a special United Nations envoy to the region and China has called for restraint and expressed support for a fresh round of six-party denuclearisation talks. But Japan and the United States have backed the robust stance taken by Seoul, saying North Korea has not yet done enough to deserve new negotiations. Last weekend, the American ambassador to the United Nations proposed a security council statement condemning Pyongyang, but it was blocked by China.

The topic looks certain to be high on the agenda at a summit between US president Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao in Washington on 19 January. According to Japan’s Mainichi Shimbun newspaper, Obama called Hu earlier this month to say that if the government in Beijing did not restrain its old ally then the US would take action. Many analysts believe this is why North Korea has since refrained from further military steps.

China is the main supplier of food and fuel to its isolated and impoverished neighbour, but the extent of its influence over Pyongyang remains unclear. Policymakers in Beijing are divided. US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks show that senior Chinese foreign ministry officials have privately expressed considerable frustration with Pyongyang’s behaviour . But the Chinese Communist party‘s nationalist newspaper, Global Times, has accused South Korea of provocation.

“Many believe that if they try to be nice, Pyongyang will never stop; and if they play tough, the other side will back off. But the two Koreas are not street hoodlums, nor bullies in the schoolyard,” it noted in a recent editorial. The priority, it added, was to avoid regional instability and economic development. “It is unacceptable for regional interests that any side threatens the other with war, whatever the purpose may be.”

Hopes for an easing of tensions rose briefly earlier this week, when an unofficial US envoy returned from Pyongyang, where he said he noted a change of attitude. New Mexico governor Bill Richardson – a veteran intermediary – praised North Korea for stepping back from the brink and for promising to readmit international nuclear inspectors as well as sell Seoul thousands of used-nuclear fuel rods that could otherwise be used to make weapons.

However, he warned today that if military exercises continue near the border, the restraint may not last.

“The situation is still a tinderbox. There’s still enormous tension, enormous mistrust and I believe diplomacy is what is needed to get us out of this tinderbox,” Richardson said in an interview with the Associated Press. He described the tensions as “the worst I have ever seen on the peninsula”.

Korea’s year of living dangerously 27 March Forty-six sailors die in sinking of the Chenoan, a South Korean warship . North denies responsibility.

20 May South-led investigation concludes the Cheonan was sunk by North’s torpedo.

27 May North scraps pact aimed at preventing border skirmishes.

16 June Barack Obama renews sanctions against North over its nuclear programme.

29 October North’s troops open fire on South’s border post.

22 November US scientists are shocked to be shown uranium enrichment facility in the North.

23 November Two civilians and two marines are killed during the North’s artillery barrage, prompted by the South’s live-fire exercise in disputed waters.

20 December South’s troops conduct 45th live-fire exercise of the year. Pyongyang backs down from threat of “catastrophic” consequences.

21 December Washington and Seoul are dismissive about the North’s promise to readmit international nuclear inspectors.

23 December The South stages largest winter drill . Its president, Lee Myung-bak, says he is ready to order a “merciless counterattack”. North Korea warns it is prepared to go nuclear in “holy war”.

South Korea North Korea Nuclear weapons Jonathan Watts

 

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G-20 refuses to back US push on China’s currency

Posted by Admin on November 13, 2010

Foto Oficial de Líderes del G-20

Group of Twenty (G-20) Nations

SEOUL, South Korea – Leaders of 20 major economies on Friday refused to back a U.S. push to make China boost its currency’s value, keeping alive a dispute that raises fears of a global trade war amid criticism that cheap Chinese exports are costing American jobs.

A joint statement issued by the leaders including President Barack Obama and China’s Hu Jintao tried to recreate the unity that was evident when the Group of 20 rich and developing nations held its first summit two years ago during the global financial meltdown.

But deep divisions, especially over the U.S.-China currency dispute, left G-20 officials negotiating all night to draft a watered-down statement for the leaders to endorse.

“Instead of hitting home runs sometimes we’re gonna hit singles. But they’re really important singles,” Obama told a news conference after the summit.

Other leaders also tried to portray the summit as a success, pointing to their pledges to fight protectionism and develop guidelines next year that will measure the imbalances between trade surplus and trade deficit countries.

The G-20’s failure to adopt the U.S. stand has underlined Washington’s reduced influence on the international stage, especially on economic matters. In another setback, Obama also failed to conclude a freetrade agreement this week with South Korea.

The biggest disappointment for the United States was the pledge by the leaders to refrain from “competitive devaluation” of currencies. Such a statement is of little consequence since countries usually only devalue their currencies — making it less worth against the dollar — in extreme situations like a severe financial crisis.

The statement decided against using a slightly different wording favored by the U.S. — “competitive undervaluation,” which would have shown the G-20 taking a stronger stance on China’s currency policy.

The crux of the dispute is Washington’s allegations that Beijing is artificially keeping its currency, the yuan, weak to gain a trade advantage.

U.S. business lobbies say that a cheaper yuan costs American jobs because production moves to China to take advantage of low labor costs and undervalued currency.

A stronger yuan would shrink the U.S. trade deficit with China, which is on track this year to match its 2008 record of $268 billion, and encourage Chinese companies to sell more to their own consumers rather than rely so much on the U.S. and others to buy low-priced Chinese goods.

But the U.S. position has been undermined by its own central bank’s decision to print $600 billion to boost a sluggish economy, which is weakening the dollar.

Also, developing countries like Thailand and Indonesia fear that much of the “hot” money will flood their markets, where returns are higher. Such emerging markets could be left vulnerable to a crash if investors later decide to pull out and move their money elsewhere.

Obama said China’s currency policy is an “irritant” not just for the United States but for many of its other trading partners. The G-20 countries — ranging from industrialized nations such as U.S. and Germany to developing ones like China, Brazil and India — account for 85 percent of the world’s economic activity.

“China spends enormous amounts of money intervening in the market to keep it undervalued so what we have said is it is important for China in a gradual fashion to transition to a market based system,” Obama said.

The dispute is threatening to resurrect destructive protectionist policies like those that worsened the GreatDepression in the 1930s. The biggest fear is that trade barriers will send the global economy back into recession.

The possibility of a currency war “absolutely” remains, said Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega.

Friday’s statement is also unlikely to resolve the most vexing problem facing the G-20 members: how to fix a global economy that’s long been marked by huge U.S. trade deficits with exporters like China, Germany and Japan.

Americans consume far more in foreign goods and services from these countries than they sell abroad.

The G-20 leaders said they will try to reduce the gaps between nations running large trade surpluses and those running deficits.

The “persistently large imbalances” in current accounts — a broad measure of a nation’s trade and investment with the rest of the world — would be measured by what they called “indicative guidelines” to be determined later.

The leaders called for the guidelines to be developed by the G-20, along with help from the International Monetary Fund and other global organizations, and for finance ministers and central bank governors to meet in the first half of next year to discuss progress.

Analysts were not convinced.

“Leaders are putting the best face on matters by suggesting that it is the process that matters rather than results,” said Stephen Lewis, chief economist for London-based Monument Securities.

“The only concrete agreement seems to be that they should go on measuring the size of the problem rather than doing something about it.”

___

Associated Press writers Erica Werner, Kelly Olsen, Jean H. Lee, Greg Keller, Luis Alonso and Kim Hyung-jin in Seoul contributed to this report.

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