- - Thursday, April 21, 2011

CHINA

Authorities call for action on tainted food

BEIJING | China’s Cabinet ordered authorities across the country on Thursday to step up their battle against illegal food additives following several recent tainted-food scandals.

So far this year, authorities have uncovered sales of drug-tainted pork, bean sprouts treated with a carcinogenic chemical compound and old bread treated with sweeteners and dye to make it seem fresh.

The announcement by the State Council on Thursday said food inspections should be stepped up and violators must be punished severely. It did not say whether there would be any new, stricter penalties.

China’s worst food-safety scandal in recent years involved infant formula and other dairy products tainted with the industrial chemical melamine, which can cause kidney stones and kidney failure. It killed six children and sickened more than 300,000 others in 2008.

VIETNAM

Vietnam, China vow to work on disputed sea pact

HANOI | Vietnam and China have agreed to take the first steps toward settling territorial disputes in the South China Sea/East Sea, a government official in Hanoi said Thursday, after years of deadlock.

The deal to set out a framework for talks was struck during a visit this week by the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun, who met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

Beijing and Hanoi have a long-standing dispute in the South China Sea over the sovereignty of the Paracel archipelago and the more southerly Spratly islands, both potentially resource-rich rocky outcrops that straddle strategic shipping lanes.

Vietnam has reported numerous cases of fishing boats and equipment being seized by China in disputed areas since 2009.

The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan also claim all or part of the Spratlys, and China’s increasingly assertive role in the area has raised tensions with other countries in the region as well as the United States.

INDONESIA

19 arrested after bomb found near church

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