Eva Cheng

After promising during his 2000 inauguration not to push for Taiwanese independence, a commitment reaffirmed after his 2004 re-election, President Chen Shuibian reversed his stance hours before China’s annual parliamentary session — the National People’s Congress — started on March 5.
On the eve of China’s annual parliamentary session — the National People’s Congress (NPC) — on March 5-16, Beijing announced plans to increase its military spending for 2007 by 17.8% to 350 billion yuan (US$45 billion), provoking immediate concern from Washington.
China’s much increased economic activities in Africa in recent years — investments in energy and natural resources extraction and loans to African governments — have provoked accusations that it is becoming a new neocolonial power in the continent.
Through its Vietnam ambassador, the Bush administration announced on February 9 that it will fund 40% of a US$1 million plan to study how to clean up a former US military base in Vietnam that is contaminated by dioxin, a class-one human carcinogen. Dioxin was a key ingredient in Agent Orange, a defoliant that Washington used extensively in the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971.
Nepalese PM Girija Prasad Koirala has vowed to amend the country’s constitution to meet the key demands of Madheshi protesters from the country’s southern plains, BBC News reported on February 8. He pledged to introduce a federal system of governance and more representation of the southern plains in the parliament.
On January 31, Bangladesh’s acting electoral commission chief Mahfuzur Rahman and his four deputies resigned, paving the way for the country’s caretaker government to appoint new commission members as demanded by the main alliance of opposition parties.
Last November, Hu Deping, the deputy chief of the united front department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) central committee, called for a halt to the popular campaign that seeks to force mainland China’s new class of capitalists, most of whom acquired their initial wealth from embezzling the state sector, to return their ill-gotten gains for the public benefit.
On December 29, 2006, the 176-member standing committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC — China’s law-making body) lent its support to the draft of the proposed Property Law. Many fear this controversial law will help launder the enormous state wealth already appropriated illegitimately by corrupt Communist Party officials and their hangers-on, as well as encourage more such activities.
While starving Australia’s public education and health services of funding, the Coalition government is planning to spend well over $200 million on the annual talk shop dressed up as a “leaders’ summit” of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) scheduled for Sydney this September.
Mao: A Life
SBS TV
Parts 1 & 2 of 4, Friday December 8 and 15, 8.30pm

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