- The Washington Times - Friday, July 17, 2009

TAIWAN

China boycotts opening of games

TAIPEI | The 100-strong Chinese delegation boycotted the opening ceremony of the World Games in Taiwan on Thursday, underscoring the limits of the historic breakthrough in relations between Taipei and Beijing.

The Chinese gesture is likely to ruffle feathers on this democratic island of 23 million people, which under Taiwanese leader Ma Ying-jeou has moved aggressively to improve ties with the mainland, its once-bitter enemy.

While the Chinese delegation did not say immediately why it boycotted the ceremony - a comment on state-run China News Service acknowledged the presence of Chinese athletes in Taiwan, without mentioning the opening ceremony - the act is almost certainly related to Mr. Ma’s role in declaring the games open.

Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949 and the Communist mainland still views the island as part of its territory. Because of this claim Chinese attendance at the ceremony could have been seen as lending legitimacy to Mr. Ma’s presidential role. That would contradict Beijing’s long-standing position that Taiwan lacks state sovereignty.

Under a hazy summer sky in the southern city of Kaohsiung, more than 3,000 athletes and staff from 105 countries and territories marched into the World Games Stadium.

INDIA

Female politician held after rape comment

NEW DELHI | It was supposed to be the high point of her speech - to applause from her audience, a leading member of India’s ruling Congress Party suggested that a rival leader be raped so she can understand the plight of rape victims.

The remark by Rita Bahuguna Joshi on Wednesday drew outrage: Within hours, her house was burned down by protesters. On Thursday, she was put behind bars for 14 days pending investigations.

Ms. Joshi’s comments - targeting Uttar Pradesh state’s Chief Minister Mayawati, who uses only one name - may have been meant to score political points. But it took on casteist color as she was arrested for insulting a person of lower-caste, an offense punishable by up to 10 years in jail, in addition to a minor charge of “insulting a woman’s modesty.”

Ms. Joshi, a 60-year-old veteran who belongs to the top Brahmin caste, said her comments were taken out of context and apologized immediately.

While speaking about the law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh and the increasing number of rapes in the state, she cited a few cases in which some women were paid 25,000 rupees ($520) compensation after being raped.

Ms. Joshi said women who are raped should “throw the money at Mayawati’s face and tell her ‘you should also be raped, and I will give you 10 million rupees [$210,000],’ ” she said. The speech was broadcast by several television networks.

CHINA

Web users surpass U.S. population

BEIJING | More people now go online in China than there are people in the United States.

The country’s rapid economic growth and expansion of Internet access in more areas has fueled a sharp increase in Internet users, totaling 338 million by the end of June, a government-sanctioned research group said Thursday.

That is a 13.4 percent jump since the end of 2008, the China Internet Network Information Center said in a report.

The latest U.S. Census Bureau’s figure says the population of the United States is just under 307 million. China’s population is more than 1.3 billion.

China’s population of Internet users has been growing at explosive rates despite government efforts to block access to material deemed subversive or pornographic.

But Internet penetration is still only 25.5 percent, the center said. The Pew Internet and American Life Project places U.S. online penetration at more than 70 percent.

Internet use on mobile phones has increased 32.1 percent since the beginning of the year to 155 million led by rising use by rural dwellers, the report said.

China this year rolled out its third-generation mobile phone service - which supports wireless Web surfing - which is expected to set off a new surge in Internet use.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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