- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 1, 2004

CHINA

Hundreds protest review of charter

HONG KONG — Hundreds of people yesterday protested Beijing’s imminent review of the local constitution, a move considered as impeding the city’s democratization and eroding its autonomy.

About 20 activists erected tents in front of the government headquarters for an overnight protest, and supporters later tried to storm into the premises to join them after the gate to the building was closed. Police stopped the latecomers, and scuffles broke out.

The review, to begin today, is expected to clarify that Beijing can decide whether to open the door to popular elections of the city’s leader and its lawmakers. The review will take the form of an interpretation of Hong Kong’s constitution.



Outside the government headquarters, protesters urged the city’s Beijing-backed leader, Tung Chee-hwa, to ask China to scrap its review. They demanded that Mr. Tung come down to accept their petition.

JAPAN

Next U.S. carrier may be nuclear powered

TOKYO — The United States has yet to comment on whether it will deploy a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in Japan for the first time as a replacement for the conventionally powered USS Kitty Hawk, Japan’s top government spokesman said yesterday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda told a press conference that he was referring to a remark in congressional testimony on Wednesday by Adm. Thomas Fargo, head of the U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii, that the Kitty Hawk could be replaced with “one of our most capable aircraft carriers.” There is no more capable conventionally powered U.S. aircraft carrier than the Kitty Hawk, based at the U.S. naval base at Yokosuka and scheduled to be replaced in 2008.

The U.S. never has deployed a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in Japan, where many people have strong antinuclear feelings because of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

NORTH KOREA

Aegis deployment seen as war preparation

SEOUL — North Korea has condemned as a preparation for war a U.S. plan to deploy a destroyer equipped with the high-tech Aegis air-defense system off the Korean coast this year.

North Korea will boost its nuclear-deterrent force to protect itself against war, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said in an official Korean Central News Agency report.

The U.S. plan “is the most outright hostile act against [North Korea] as it is a system to wage a war against the [country] and, furthermore, a part of its unchallenged attempt to dominate the Asia-Pacific region,” the spokesman said.

Weekly notes

Indonesia’s political parties hit the campaign trail yesterday for the last time before elections Monday that could reveal much about the future of democracy and Islam in the world’s most populous Muslim nation. More than 147 million Indonesians are expected to vote in a parliamentary election that will help determine the candidates for the country’s first direct presidential poll on July 5. … Philippine security forces have arrested four Turkish nationals suspected of having ties to international terrorist groups, the military said yesterday. The men were arrested Wednesday night in Cotabato City on Mindanao and have been flown to Manila for interrogation.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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