- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 25, 2003

CHINA

Visa rules relaxed for Taiwanese

BEIJING — China plans to simplify visa procedures for visitors from Taiwan and has invited the island to participate in experiments aboard Beijing’s first manned space flight, moves that are part of efforts to woo its neighbor.

China is eager to win over Taiwan, which it considers a breakaway province, ahead of the island’s presidential elections in March and stymie moves by some leaders of Taiwan to push for statehood.



Li Weiyi, a spokesman for China’s ministerial-level Taiwan Affairs Office, said the Ministry of Public Security has authorized Shanghai police to issue landing visas to Taiwan residents. Currently, Taiwan travel agents send applications for visas to China for approval to Hong Kong.

JAPAN

Opposition merges to challenge Koizumi

TOKYO — Japan’s main opposition party merged with a smaller party Wednesday, ahead of a general election expected in November, to bolster its long-shot chances of breaking the grip on power of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s Liberal Democratic Party.

The main opposition Democratic Party and the smaller Liberal Party held a signing ceremony to seal the deal informally agreed to in July, which brings their combined strength to 136 seats in the 480-seat House of Representatives and 67 seats in the 247-seat House of Councilors.

INDONESIA

Bomb attacks feared on blasts’ anniversary

BALI — The police chief of Bali said Muslim militants have two bombs and could be preparing to use them to mark the anniversary of the Oct. 12 nightclub bombings on the island — the worst terror strikes since the September 11 attacks.

Authorities throughout Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, are searching for an undisclosed number of militants in connection with a possible anniversary plot, police chief Maj. Gen. I Made Pastika said Tuesday.

Weekly Notes …

Support for Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo slumped to its lowest this month, a poll showed on Wednesday, and is likely to deal a blow to any plans she has of running for election in May. The survey by Manila-based Pulse Asia showed that her approval rating slipped 10 points from August to 41 percent, while public trust in her fell to 36 percent from 44 percent. The survey was carried out on 1,200 people nationwide. … China has successfully test-fired its first four-stage solid-fuel rocket capable of putting small satellites into space on short notice, the Xinhua news agency reported Wednesday. The launch of the Pioneer I rocket on Sept. 16 at north China’s Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center makes the country only the third capable of developing such rockets, after the United States and Russia.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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