- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 10, 2011

SEARCHING FOR RAMOS

Venezuela assigned its top investigators to search for Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, who was kidnapped Wednesday from his parents’ home in the South American nation, the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington said Thursday.

The State Department condemned the kidnapping but added that it is not involved in the search for Mr. Ramos because he is not a U.S. citizen.

The embassy released a statement from Justice and Interior Minister Tareck El Aissami in Caracas, who said the probe is in the hands of the Corps of Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigations led by Commissioner Luis Carabin.

“We have appointed a team of high-level specialists … and experts on kidnapping, intelligence and criminal investigation,” Mr. El Aissami said.

He said he also contacted Mr. Ramos‘ parents and other relatives “to express his solidarity in this difficult situation,” the embassy said.

Mr. El Aissami promised to conduct “a deep investigation so we can capture those responsible for this terrible crime.”

He said police recovered the kidnappers’ vehicle in a town in the state of Carabobo in northern Venezuela. Gunmen grabbed Mr. Ramos in Valencia, the capital of Carabobo. Mr. Ramos had returned to Venezuela during the Nationals offseason to play for a local baseball team.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner noted that the Obama administration repeatedly has warned of the dangers of kidnappings in Venezuela.

“We condemn these kinds of violent acts,” he said.

Mr. Toner added that the department is “monitoring” the case but has not contacted anyone in Venezuela.

‘CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE’

Donald Tsang was sitting in his room at the Hay Adams Hotel in Washington on Sept. 11, 2001, watching the “horror of the 9/11 attacks unfold on television.”

He had just arrived on one of the last early morning flights to leave New York before Arab terrorists flew two airliners into the World Trade Center and the entire U.S. airspace was shut down.

Mr. Tsang was the chief secretary of Hong Kong, the second-highest position in the largely autonomous Chinese city that four years earlier had been a British colony.

“That day, of course, remains seared in my memory,” he told a luncheon meeting hosted by the Brookings Institution and the local Hong Kong office.

As he watched the twin towers burning, he heard an explosion as another hijacked airliner hit the Pentagon.

He assumed that all of the officials he was scheduled to meet would cancel their appointments.

“We had felt, and we expected, that after a tragedy of such scale, a delegation from Hong Kong would be rather low on the priority list,” he said.

However, everyone kept their appointments with the visiting Hong Kong officials.

“Despite the shock and uncertainties of the day, we were told that it was at times of such great tragedy that friends and partners came together and that Hong Kong was, indeed, a friend and partner of the U.S.,” Mr. Tsang said.

Today, 10 years later, Mr. Tsang is chief executive, the highest position in the Hong Kong government. He is also the face of capitalism in communist China.

Critics doubted that Hong Kong would remain free after Britain turned over its colony to China in 1997. However, China promised to grant Hong Kong, already a thriving commercial center, vast autonomy under what Beijing called the “one country, two systems.” In the ensuing 14 years, many say that China has grown more like Hong Kong economically.

“As China prospers, so, too, will Hong Kong,” Mr. Tsang said.

Mainland China is Hong Kong’s largest trading partner, while the United States remains No. 2.

“Hong Kong has, in fact, played a role as China’s window on the world,” Mr. Tsang added.

The annual Index of Economic Freedom compiled by the conservative Heritage Foundation has ranked Hong Kong as the world’s freest economy since it began publishing the review of more than 180 countries in 1995.

“Hong Kong is a fascinating city,” Mr. Tsang said. “For me and my colleagues, it is the center of the universe.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or emailjmorrison@washington times.com. The column is published on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.