- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 5, 2006

CHINA

Foreign minister to visit Africa

BEIJING — Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing will travel to six African countries this month, including some that provide China with oil and gas and have switched allegiance from self-ruled Taiwan to China.

Mr. Li is to visit Cape Verde, Senegal, Mali, Liberia, Nigeria and Libya on his tour Wednesday through Jan. 19, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters yesterday. “Africa is always the first place China’s foreign minister visits in a new year and this year is no different,” he said.

Since President Hu Jintao used a visit to Gabon in 2004 to announce a drive to strengthen relations with Africa, China has been working to turn its diplomatic good will into concrete investment and energy contracts to slake its thirst for oil and raw materials. U.S. analysts say China receives 28 percent of its oil imports from Africa.

THAILAND

Bangkok faces terrorism risk

SINGAPORE — A security analyst warns that Bangkok is at risk for a terrorist attack within a year as tension rises between Muslim and Buddhist communities in southern Thailand.

Rohan Gunaratna, a security analyst at the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies in Singapore, also told a conference yesterday that Iraq is the new epicenter of jihad, inspiring a generation of Islamic “holy warriors” around the world.

Asian leaders have put terrorism high on their list of security concerns after bomb attacks in Bali, Madrid and London, as well as violence in southern Thailand, where 80 percent of the population is Muslim.

PHILIPPINES

Reporter slayings reach decade high

MANILA — The government said yesterday it wants a “swift resolution” of slayings of journalists after Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said the Philippines was the world’s deadliest place for journalists after Iraq last year.

It said 63 journalists were killed worldwide, and 1,300 physically were attacked or threatened, making 2005 the deadliest year in a decade. Of the 63 deaths, it said, seven occurred in the Philippines, second only to Iraq, where 24 journalists and five support personnel were slain.

The Philippine journalists union, however, said nine were killed in 2005, most of them working for provincial radio stations and slain for reporting on corruption.

VIETNAM

Holiday fowls put officials on guard

Vietnam is cautiously hopeful its efforts against bird flu are paying off, but is keeping up its guard as the country prepares for the Lunar New Year, when chicken dominates the menu.

The deadly H5N1 virus has claimed 42 lives in Vietnam of the more than 70 human flu deaths worldwide since the end of 2003.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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