- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 10, 2005

CHINA

Plan raises concern over Spratly Islands

BEIJING — China voiced concern yesterday over plans by Vietnam and the Philippines to conduct joint scientific research next month in the South China Sea, where ownership of the Spratly island chain is disputed.

“We express our concerns over this,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said. “We hope relevant countries carrying out research … will strictly follow the established principles in the South China Sea code of conduct agreed by various parties.”

He was referring to a 2002 agreement by rival claimants to the islands to refrain from actions that could disturb the tenuous peace in the area. Manila said Monday the expedition will take marine science experts from both countries to 26 marine stations in the South China Sea for studies April 6-9 under principles laid out by the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention.

TAIWAN

Ruling party sets protest over warning

TAIPEI — The pro-independence ruling party plans to call a half-million people to protest a Chinese bill that allows Beijing to use force against Taiwan if it pushes for statehood, party officials said yesterday.

The bill, viewed as a bid by China to deter Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian from formally declaring independence before the end of his term in 2008, poses an immediate threat to Taiwan, said Su Tseng-chang, chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party.

“The thing that worries us the most is coming closer and closer,” said Mr. Su, formerly Mr. Chen’s chief of staff. “China’s anti-secession bill is a law that changes the status quo, a law that gives blank authorization for war,” he said at a press conference. The two governments have been rivals since the Chinese civil war ended in 1949.

Weekly notes

The Asian Development Bank will create anti-corruption mechanisms to ensure that funds it provides to countries affected by the Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunami disaster will reach the needy, ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda said in Jakarta, Indonesia, yesterday. “So far, we have been very successful in eliminating, avoiding any corruption, but we have to be always on alert,” he said. … The Asia-Pacific region could lose as much as $3 billion in tourism revenue this year because of concerns over the tsunami, an official for Visa International said after a survey found that 9 percent of travelers planning to visit Asia have changed plans. “As a direct result of the tsunami, there is a risk that 9 percent of international travelers planning a holiday in 2005 have switched their travel plans to other regions,” said the report.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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