- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 1, 2002

Hong Kong tracks funds

Hong Kong is doing its part in the war against terrorism by helping to shut down financial networks that fuel terrorists, according to a Hong Kong official.

"As a responsible member of the world community and a leading financial and banking center, Hong Kong is committed to the battle," said Jacqueline Willis, Hong Kong's representative in the United States.

Miss Willis noted that a recent visit to Washington by Hong Kong's drug czar, Claire Lo, was Hong Kong's latest contribution in the campaign. Mrs. Lo is commissioner for narcotics and chairman of the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering.

Miss Willis, writing in the latest newsletter of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, also congratulated mainland China for its admission to the World Trade Organization.

Hong Kong, as a semi-autonomous region of China, will "play a vital role" in China's international economic growth, she said.

"China's entry into the international economic system presents enormous potential for global economic development," Miss Willis wrote.

"The global economy will greatly benefit from the further opening up of mainland markets, as well as from a more stable economic relationship between China and her trading partners.

"Hong Kong companies already handle an estimated 40 percent of China's total exports, and we expect to play a vital role as both a platform to access mainland markets and as a strategic partner for international firms investing in the mainland," she wrote.

'The tolerant spirit'

The emir of Bahrain condemned terrorism as a violation of the principles of Islam in a speech broadcast to guests at the Bahrain Embassy's annual National Day celebration last month.

Sheik Hamad bin Isa Khalifa expressed Bahrain's "solidarity with the international campaign against terrorism, which violates the tolerant spirit of Islam."

He also noted Bahrain's "historic friendship" with the United States as a "major" non-NATO ally, saying the relationship was no "mere coincidence nor a reflection of a passing interest."

"This has been fulfilled as a genuine and true embodiment of the historic friendship linking Bahrain and the USA for more than a century," the emir said.

Bahrain Ambassador Sheik Khalifa bin Ali Khalifa hosted more than 600 guests, including Secretary of the Navy Robert England and Vice Adm. Timothy Keating, deputy chief of naval operations.

Terrorists are terrorists

Russia has accused the U.S. ambassador in Moscow of applying a double standard by distinguishing between foreign terrorists and domestic "freedom fighters" in the separatist region of Chechnya.

"Terrorists, wherever they are located, remain terrorists and must be viewed as such and not as freedom fighters," Vladimir Rushailo, Russia's national security adviser, told Moscow's Interfax news agency.

"We should not set double standards in defining terrorism and terrorists," he added.

Mr. Rushailo's comments on Sunday reflected Russian sensitivity to U.S. criticism of the war in Chechnya, where Muslim rebels are fighting for independence. Russia has strongly supported the United States in the war on terrorism since Islamic extremists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Mr. Rushailo was reacting to statements last week by Ambassador Alexander Vershbow, who called on Russia to open peace talks with Chechen rebels. Russia opened an anti-terrorist campaign against Chechen guerrillas after several apartment-building bombings in 1999.

Mr. Vershbow told the Echo Moscow radio station, "Russia must find a political solution to this conflict."

The ambassador also said the United States has been trying to cut off financial support for Chechen rebels by outlawing certain fund-raising groups.

"We have made some progress in cutting off financial support for the foreign terrorists … operating here," he said.

Mr. Vershbow drew a distinction between foreign mercenaries and ethnic Chechens fighting for independence.

"Clearly, those who have chosen to take up arms against Russian authority can't simply be destroyed by military means," he said. "That is proving to be a blind alley."

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