At least 20 dead after tanker explodes in collision
SCMP says, “At least 20 people were killed and 27 injured when a huge fire in Guangzhou, triggered by collision between a tanker and a truck, engulfed a timber mill and its staff dormitory yesterday morning.
“China News Service said the tanker, carrying 40 tonnes of mineral solvent, exploded after it collided with the truck on a bridge on the Nangang section of the Guangzhou-Yanjiang Expressway at 4.30am.
“The fire then spread to cover an area of more than 2,000 square metres, including a timber factory and its dormitory under the bridge, a container yard and nearby buildings, as well as setting passing vehicles alight.”
SCMP says, “Six Uygurs, some disguised as disabled passengers, tried to hijack a plane yesterday shortly after it took off from Hotan in Xinjiang on a flight to the autonomous region’s capital”.
Xinjiang government spokeswoman Hou Hanmin told the South China Morning Post that three of the suspects had sat at the front of the airplane and three were in the back.
Some of the six Uygur suspects were disguised as cripples and were carrying metal sticks that could be detached into pieces.
“One of the ‘disabled’ suspects who was sitting in the front seats suddenly disassembled his metal stick and tried to break into the cockpit, while his accomplices tried to help him,” Hou said. “But they were all thwarted by crew members and passengers on broad.”
SCMP’s Teddy Ng reports from Beijing, Beijing’s retiring party boss Liu Qi yesterday urged for “party unity’ at Beijing’s long-delayed congress.
The congress must elect delegates for the 18th Party Congress, scheduled for autumn. The deadline for each constituency to elect its delegates to the National Congress is today.
SCMP says, “The Beijing party congress is usually held in May, but the date for this year’s meeting was only announced last week, and the delay has fuelled rumors of a power struggle within the party, especially after former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai was removed for violating party discipline. No official explanation on the delay was offered.” However, Liu Qi’s call for unity must be an indication of the lack of unity perhaps due to Bo saga.
SCMP says, Fang Hong had his sentence of one-year imprisonment in labor camp for “inciting social disturbance” overturned by a Chongqing court. Fang, 51, served a year of re-education through labor after posting a derogatory joke on a microblog service mocking Bo Xilai.
The court said yesterday that despite Fang’s rude language, the microblog messages did not constitute serious threat to social order, Xinhua reported. It ruled that the panel that had sentenced Fang had acted illegally.
Fang’s microblog had less than 30 followers and his joke was only forwarded three times before he was arrested.
Fang is believed to be the first person to have overturned a sentence handed down during Bo’s time in charge of Chongqing. His lawyer Si Weijiang said: “I believe the success of Fang’s case has sent a positive message to the public, that the city is starting to correct the wrongdoings and restore law and order.”
Bloomberg reports from Beijing that “China blocked access to Bloomberg’s website on the mainland after the business and financial news agency published a report Friday detailing the multimillion-dollar assets of relatives of Xi Jinping who set to become the country’s next president.
“The report says that the extended family of Vice President Xi Jinping holds interests that include investments in companies with total assets of $376 million, an 18 per cent indirect stake in a rare-earths company with $1.73 billion in assets and a $20 million holding in a tech company. The report cites public documents Bloomberg reporters compiled.
“Bloomberg noted that no assets were traced to Xi, his wife, or their daughter and said in the report that there was no indication of any wrongdoing by Xi or his extended family.
“Still, the move to block access to Bloomberg’s main website, on which the Xi story was the lead news item, underscores the government’s sensitivity to such exposure of wealth belonging to people linked to top leaders amid a burgeoning gap between rich and poor and rampant official corruption.”
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SCMP says, about 40 workers were buried in a mudslide early yesterday morning near the construction site of the Baihetan Dam for one of the world’s largest hydroelectric power plants which is being built in the ecologically vulnerable Jinsha River area of Sichuan province. As of last night, none of the workers had been rescued.
According to SCMP, “The 57 billion yuan (HK$70 billion) hydropower station on the Jinsha is expected to generate more than 50 billion kilowatt hours of electricity a year, or nearly two-thirds that of the Three Gorges Dam, according to local government figures.
“No completion date had been publicly given. Construction began in 2008.”
“Ma Jun, director of the Beijing-based Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs, said the Jinsha River region had unstable geophysical properties and was prone to natural disasters such as landslides. He added that the continued construction of massive power stations, including the blockage of large volumes of water and the building of roads, would only intensify risks.”
“But one hydropower expert said that dams were, in fact, the best way to stop mudslides. Zhang Boting, deputy secretary general of the China Society for Hydropower Engineering, said yesterday that when the dam was completed, it would convert energy from the Jinsha into electricity, thereby reducing water pressure that causes erosion along the river banks and results in natural disasters, such as the mudslides.”
SCMP quotes Associated Press report from Beijing, “A Chinese space capsule with three astronauts aboard returned to Earth on Friday from a 13-day mission to an orbiting module that is a prototype for a future permanent station.
“The crew of the Shenzhou 9 parachuted to a landing on the grasslands of the country’s sprawling Inner Mongolia region at about 10am. China declared the mission to the Tiangong 1 module a major stride ahead for the country’s ambitious space programme.”
SCMP says, “The husband of a woman who was forced to have a late-term abortion in the northwest province of Shaanxi appeared in Beijing yesterday, four days after disappearing amid allegations of harassment by officials in his hometown.”
Legal academic Yang Zhizhu “said that on Sunday that Deng Jiyuan had crossed a river to get away from his pursuer. He hid in a friend’s home for two days, then hired a car. When he reached another town, he took a 10-hour bus ride then a 20-hour train ride to Beijing.
“He said Deng planned to seek compensation for emotional stress, as well as for physical harm caused to his wife, who was forcibly given a lethal injection to kill the fetus and induce labour.”
I hailed recent publication of Qiao Shi’s book “Qiao Shi on Democracy and Legal System” in my post “Rule of law and democracy advocator Qiao Shi returns”. Qiao Shi, though retired, has been striving for rule of law all those years.
American well-known journalist Nathan Gardels believes that Qiao played a decisive role in bringing down Bo Xilai for his bad example in undermining the rule of law in Bo’s campaign against organized crime in Chongqing. The campaign gave rise to nationwide malpractices of depriving lawyers rights of defense and caused the NPC (China’s legislature) to revise China’s Criminal Procedure law to protect lawyers’ rights.
Qiao seems to be the only enlightened Chinese leader who has the courage to place rule of law above the party. In his rare interview with Nathan Gardels, Gardels asked him, “will the law ultimately be above the party, or the party above the law?” To the audible gasps of his handlers seated behind us, Qiao replied: “No organization or individual has the prerogative to override the constitution or the law”
Even all his assistants were surprised at Qiao’s reply that law shall be above the party instead of vice versa.
Obviously, publication of Qiao’s book will consolidate the victory against Bo’s faction by the faction in the party that upholds rule of law and provide a theoretical weapon to fight for rule of law in the future. This is especially important because as I point out in my above-mentioned post that Bo said to his Japanese friend “I will return” and as Bo still has lots of followers, he may return and replace rule of law by his despotism in the future.
My previous posts often mentioned the large number of despots in the government and prevailing despotism in China. Such despots and despotism are the basis for Bo’s return. Qiao’s book will provide weapons for fighting against the dominance of despotism and establishing and maintaining rule of law.
SCMP Cary Huang’s report today provides us with the recent development after the publication of the book.
Huang says that the book “inspires academics to declare there is no rule of law while party officials run police and courts”.
“The revelation that the leadership of the Communist Party decided to restore the power of its Politics and Legal Affairs Commission 22 years ago, in the wake of the June 4 crackdown, has triggered debate among lawyers, academics and others about the party’s role in judicial affairs.
“They have generally welcomed a suggestion by Qiao Shi…that the commission’s power to intervene in court cases be reduced and limited.”
According to Cary Huang, “The commission, a powerful body under the party’s Central Committee, oversees all the mainland’s law-enforcement authorities, including the police, internal security personnel, prosecutors and courts.
Many believe that there is no rule of law on the mainland because the judiciary is dictated by the commission and its local offshoots.”
According to SCMP, “Lu Guoping, a famous columnist and author, said Qiao’s book reminded the public of the deterioration in democracy and rule of law over the past decade.
“‘Qiao’s high-profile comment has prompted a sensitive debate among academics over whether China’s democracy and rule of law has progressed, stalled or regressed in the past decade or more,’ Lu wrote on his blog.”
SCMP quotes Peking University law professor He Weifang’s words, “when the party talks about judicial reforms, it has all but stopped talking about judicial independence, which is the key to the introduction of rule of law”.
Chen Guangzhong, a well-known academic, says, “In many regional governments the police chief was also head of the party commission, which meant the police could dictate the whole prosecution and trial process.”
SCMP says, “In his book, Qiao suggests that the commissions be limited to co-ordinating the work of judicial organs.
“The mainlands’ courts are plagued by a lack of judicial independence. Judges and court officials are appointed by local Communist Party organs and all legal institutions are directly supervised by the party’s legal-affairs commissions.
“In highly sensitive cases, like those dealing with dissidents, the judge is often just a medium, handing down a ruling already determined by the party. But even in less sensitive cases, the interests of local officials are often placed above the law.
“However, the party leadership has rejected calls to keep politics and the law independent of each other.”
Reuters reports from Beijing on June 28, “A Chinese dairy company has recalled hundreds of cartons of milk after a mechanical error tainted the batch with alkaline water, the latest blow to China’s scandal-plagued dairy industry.
“The recall comes just weeks after China’s top-selling dairy firm, Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co, pulled six months’ worth of infant formula from shelves due to mercury contamination.
“China’s milk industry is struggling to restore consumer confidence after a series of scandals, the worst of which was in 2008 when milk and infant formula laced with the industrial chemical melamine killed at least six children and made nearly 300,000 ill.”
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