- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 30, 2005

Australia

Violent flood ends Queensland drought

SYDNEY — Two motorists were missing and thousands of people were evacuated from their homes yesterday as storms lashed Australia’s east coast in a violent end to one of the country’s worst droughts on record.

Queensland state’s popular Gold Coast tourist area and the nearby northern state of New South Wales bore the brunt of the storms, with 16 to 20 inches of rainfall in 24 hours.

Police in Queensland were searching for a couple whose car was swept away from a causeway on the banks of the swollen Coomera River. Inspector Jeff James said the couple contacted emergency services on their mobile phone and said water was pouring into their car, but the connection was broken and the couple were not heard from again.

CHINA

Hu visiting Putin en route to G-8 talks

MOSCOW — Chinese President Hu Jintao began a four-day visit to Russia yesterday seeking to tap into the country’s vast energy resources and fuel for his country’s rapid economic expansion, but with Moscow apparently playing for time on energy decisions.

Mr. Hu was to meet President Vladimir Putin last evening at his residence outside Moscow at the start of the tour, which also will take him to the Siberian city of Novosibirsk and on to Kazakhstan before he reaches Scotland for a Group of Eight summit.

Russia has put the focus of Mr. Hu’s visit on signing a joint declaration on the “international order in the 21st century.” It reflects Moscow’s hopes of forming a front with Beijing in the face of Washington’s growing influence in Central Asia, Russia’s Kommersant newspaper reports.

TAIWAN

Chen spurns ‘yoke’ used on Hong Kong

TAIPEI — Taiwanese leader Chen Shui-bian categorically rejected yesterday China’s persistent “one country, two systems” reunification overtures, saying the people of the Republic of China (Taiwan) would not accept the “yoke” Beijing has put on Hong Kong.

Mr. Chen, of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, said Beijing had guaranteed Hong Kong’s economic and political systems for 50 years before the British colony’s turnover to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula.

“But over the past eight years, there were at least 163 cases in which China has obviously breached Hong Kong people’s right to self-rule and severely intervened in Hong Kong’s judicial system and freedom of speech,” he told a group of Taiwanese entrepreneurs doing businesses in Hong Kong.

The latest example was the selection of Hong Kong’s new chief executive, Donald Tsang, Mr. Chen said, “who was elected by a small group of 800 [Beijing officials], and what’s more, elected unchallenged.”

Weekly notes

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, facing charges that she rigged elections and demands that she resign, lost a key Cabinet supporter yesterday and banished her husband, also accused of corruption, to exile in Hong Kong. Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, facing tax-evasion charges, said he was stepping down to clear his name and spare Mrs. Arroyo further damage. … Software giant Microsoft Corp. will invest $3.4 million in Thailand’s push to improve its information technology by helping train 20,000 specialists, company Chairman Bill Gates said yesterday in Bangkok. “Thailand has great potential as a leader in Web services,” Mr. Gates said after announcing three projects to help develop a world-class software system embracing nonproprietary “open standards.” The deal includes Microsoft training 2,600 Thai software developers.


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