- The Washington Times - Friday, March 14, 2003

CHINA
Jiang ally elected nonparty liaison
BEIJING China entered the final phase of its landmark leadership change yesterday with the selection of an ally of outgoing President Jiang Zemin to head an advisory body that is growing more important as the nation steams toward capitalism.
Jia Qinglin, the only candidate, was chosen by a vote of 1,990 to 79 to lead the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference a companion body to the National People's Congress, which is preparing to anoint China's next president.

TAIWAN
Debt-ridden students sell passports to gang
TAIPEI At least 50 debt-laden Taiwanese college students sold their passports to a Thai syndicate, police said yesterday.
Police said they discovered the passports when they arrested suspected gang members Chotiphatn Contai of Thailand and Chen Chi-wen and Chen Mei-yu, a Taiwanese man and woman.
Three college students who also were seized confessed to trying to sell their passports for $1,150 each to pay off credit-card debts. The passports would have been used by Thais wanting to emigrate illegally to the United States, Canada and Japan, police said.

INDONESIA
U.S. mining firm buys army protection
JAKARTA Freeport-McMoran Copper and Gold Inc. of the United States paid the Indonesian military about $5.6 million last year to protect employees of its giant copper and gold mine in Papua province, said a report obtained yesterday.
Freeport disclosed the figure in a confidential document sent to the New York City comptroller's office and to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, said the report by AFX Global Ethics Monitor, a new service of Agence France-Presse.

Weekly notes …
Thailand yesterday finalized its claim to Cambodia for damages incurred during anti-Thai riots Jan. 29 in Phnom Penh, and expected payment to be made by July, Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said. "The damage cost is very reasonable," he told reporters in Bangkok after the final meeting of the committee set up to assess damage to Thai interests stemming from the Jan. 29 riots. "We agreed that we will not talk about the figure because it would not be good for either side," the foreign minister added. … East Timorese Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta left Hanoi Wednesday after a three-day visit to Vietnam, his first visit there since East Timor became independent in May. "Vietnam is willing to share its experiences in socioeconomic development and expand multifaceted cooperation with East Timor," President Tran Duc Luong was quoted by the Vietnam news agency as saying. Vietnam and East Timor established diplomatic relations in July after Hanoi warmly welcomed the election of charismatic independence hero Xanana Gusmao as the country's president.

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