- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 16, 2010

PHILIPPINES

Officials, police face hostage-crisis raps

MANILA | The Philippine justice chief said Thursday she’ll recommend criminal and administrative charges against about 10 officials, police officers and journalists over last month’s killing of eight Hong Kong tourists in a botched hostage rescue that outraged China.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the identities of those to be charged, details on the charges and other information about the Aug. 23 standoff in which the hostage-taker, a fired policeman, also died, will be included in a report to be submitted to President Benigno Aquino III on Friday.

The Philippine authorities’ bungled handling of the standoff, which was beamed for hours on live TV, outraged China and the Chinese territory of Hong Kong, straining ties with Manila. It delivered Mr. Aquino’s first major crisis, less than two months into his presidency.

CHINA

Dissident: Obstinacy beat travel ban

BERLIN | Chinese dissident author Liao Yiwu, in Berlin after Chinese authorities allowed him to travel abroad, said Thursday his sheer determination allowed him to beat the ban.

“I’m a stupid farmer, obstinate as a mule,” he told a press conference here, adding that if he had not succeeded on his 15th attempt to obtain permission to leave the country, he would have insisted a 16th time.

Last year, the author, also known as Lao Wei, was prevented from attending the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world’s largest, and in March this year was banned from traveling to another German festival in Cologne.

In February, Mr. Liao, who has served time in prison, appealed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel for help in a letter posted on the Human Rights in China group’s website, according to advocates.

BURMA

Ethnic leaders barred from election

RANGOON | Election authorities in army-ruled Burma have rejected the candidacy of a dozen former leaders of a major ethnic group, sources said Thursday, raising doubts about ethnic participation in the upcoming vote.

The Union Election Commission gave no explanation why the politicians from Kachin state, which borders China, were barred from running as independent candidates in the Nov. 7 ballot for seats in regional and national assemblies.

The decision, which has yet to be been made public, comes after pressure by the ruling junta for armed ethnic groups who have enjoyed decades of de facto autonomy to join the political process in a bid to unify the nation ahead of the election.

PAKISTAN

Envoy warns of flood funding shortfall

KARACHI | The world will only be able to fund around 25 percent of the tens of billions of dollars needed to rebuild Pakistan after the floods, and its government will have to make up the shortfall, the U.S. envoy to the country warned Thursday.

Richard C. Holbrooke said America would not condition its assistance to the country, but warned that Congress might not be generous if it felt that Pakistan was not taxing its own citizens enough.

Pakistan’s rich traditionally have not paid much taxes on their income or their property - either because they evade them or are exempt - and the country’s collection rates are among the lowest in the world.

Critics have pointed to this shortage of revenue in recent weeks as Islamabad leaders have sought international aid. The country’s economy is surviving on international assistance, and the floods are expected to badly slow economic growth further.

CHINA

China presses Japan for ‘concrete actions’

BEIJING | China called for “concrete actions” from Japan to resolve a bitter diplomatic row on Thursday, as Tokyo warned its citizens to remain vigilant ahead of possible protests in major Chinese cities.

The Asian neighbors are entangled in their worst spat in years, stemming from the collision last week of a Chinese fishing trawler and two Japanese coast guard vessels near a disputed island chain in the East China Sea.

So far, China has summoned Japan’s ambassador five times over the incident and repeatedly demanded the boat’s captain be released from Japanese custody. Tokyo says the skipper intentionally rammed the Japanese ships during a chase.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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