- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 12, 2008


Taiwan official to meet President Hu

BOAO — Taiwan’s vice president-elect, Vincent Siew, will sit down today with Chinese President Hu Jintao for a historic meeting on the sidelines of a business conference in this southern Chinese resort city.

The gathering would make Mr. Siew — who takes office next month — the highest-ranking elected figure in Taiwan to meet with a Chinese leader.

It’s a huge diplomatic coup for Mr. Siew and President-elect Ma Ying-jeou. Although they won last month’s election by promising smoother relations with China, few expected the incoming leadership to get an audience with a Chinese president so soon.

Mr. Siew’s meeting could also mark the beginning of a thaw in China-Taiwan relations.


Agency: Food-price surge will persist

ROME — Soaring food prices that have sparked violence and unrest around the world are likely to persist despite an expected increase in production, threatening millions of people worldwide who live on a dollar or less a day, a U.N. agency said yesterday.

Prices of bread, rice, milk, oil and other basic foodstuffs have sharply increased in the past months in many developing countries, according to a report by the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization. Prices of wheat and rice have doubled compared with last year, while those of corn are more than a third higher.

Cereal prices have risen as a result of steady demand, especially from China and India, supply shortages and new export restrictions, the FAO said.


Trafficked Burmese face expulsion

RANONG — Dozen of migrants from Burma who narrowly escaped suffocation while being smuggled through Thailand in a locked, stifling truck were convicted of illegal entry yesterday and will be sent home, authorities said.

Fifty-four migrants died in the tiny truck headed for the resort town of Phuket after the driver abandoned the vehicle — normally used for transporting seafood — when its air conditioning failed Wednesday night.

Fourteen of the 67 survivors were minors who were almost immediately returned to Burma. The adult survivors were tried and convicted of entering the country without permission. Those who can’t pay a $63 fine will be jailed for two months and then deported.


Ex-Shanghai party boss jailed in graft

SHANGHAI — China yesterday sentenced the former Communist Party chief of the country’s financial capital to 18 years in prison, but spared him the usual punishment for serious economic crimes — death.

Chen Liangyu, who had been a member of China’s powerful 24-seat Politburo, was the highest-level Chinese official to be purged in a decade. He had been accused of being at the center of a scandal involving the misuse of a third of Shanghai’s pension funds.


Israeli dissident seeks asylum

OSLO — Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu has asked for asylum in Norway for a second time, Norwegian officials said yesterday, but they held out no hope that he would be accepted.

Mr. Vanunu, whom Israeli authorities have prevented from leaving Israel, sent his application directly to Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. His first asylum application to Norway in 2004 was rejected.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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