Archive for November, 2007

Pentagon makes official protest to China

November 28, 2007

By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press 

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon issued a formal protest to China on Wednesday over its refusal to permit U.S. Navy ships to enter the port of Hong Kong on two occasions last week.

“We are expressing officially our displeasure with the incident,” Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters. He said a Chinese military officer who is Beijing‘s defense attache in Washington was called to the Pentagon to accept the protest from a Pentagon Asia policy official. Morrell called it an “a formal protest, an official protest, complaint,” for refusing port entry for two U.S. Navy minesweepers and, later, for the USS Kitty Hawk and its accompanying battle group.

Also, the Chinese foreign minister met with President Bush on Wednesday and blamed the incident on “a misunderstanding.”

Morrell said that it is not yet clear whether the Chinese military officer will indeed heed the summons to come to the Pentagon. Morrell said the summons constituted the official protest, but he did not release the wording.

Navy officials have said they are most troubled by China’s refusal to let the two Navy minesweepers enter Hong Kong harbor to escape an approaching storm and receive fuel. The minesweepers, the Patriot and the Guardian, were instead refueled at sea and returned safely to their home port in Japan.

In addition, the Chinese also refused to allow the Kitty Hawk, a U.S. aircraft carrier, to make a planned Thanksgiving port visit to Hong Kong.

The Kitty Hawk, which has its home port near Tokyo, was forced to return early to Japan when Chinese authorities at the last minute barred the warship and its escort vessels from entering Hong Kong harbor. Hundreds of families of sailors aboard the Kitty Hawk had flown from Japan to spend Thanksgiving weekend in Hong Kong, but had to return home after China refused the port entry.

Later Chinese officials said the Kitty Hawk could enter the port, but by then the carrier had left the area and did not return.

On Tuesday, two of the Navy’s top admirals said that China’s refusal was surprising and troubling.

“This is perplexing. It’s not helpful,” Adm. Timothy Keating, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, told reporters in a videoteleconference from his headquarters at Camp Smith, Hawaii. He also called it distressing and irritating but later said it should not be viewed as “calamitous.”

“It’s not, in our view, conduct that is indicative of a country that understands its obligations as a responsible nation,” he said, adding that he hopes it does not indicate a lasting blockage of port visits.

China’s foreign minister, in the meeting with Bush, blamed “a misunderstanding” for the refusal to allow a flotilla of U.S. warships to make a port call in Hong Kong for a Thanksgiving holiday visit.

Bush raised the issue with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi when he visited the Oval Office for talks about North Korea, Iran and other issues. The incident added an unusual twist to China-U.S. relations, strained in recent months by disputes over trade and Iran’s nuclear program.

“Foreign Minister Yang assured the president that it was a misunderstanding,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said. She said she could not explain the nature of the misunderstanding.

The aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk and members of its strike group, including a nuclear submarine, were scheduled to dock in Hong Kong for a four-day visit. At the same time hundreds of sailors’ families had flown to the city to spend the holiday with loved ones, dozens of Americans living in Hong Kong had prepared turkey dinners for those without relatives.

Hong Kong has long been a favored port of call for the U.S. military but Beijing‘s approval has been required since July 1, 1997, when Britain handed this former colony back to China. Hong Kong’s Marine Department, which handles logistic arrangements for ships docking in Hong Kong’s deep-water port, said it had not received the documentation it normally would receive from other agencies clearing the arrival of foreign military ships.


Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann contributed to this story.


Yawning trade gap to top agenda at EU-China summit

November 28, 2007

By Peter Harmsen BEIJING (AFP) – European economic and political leaders were expected Wednesday to place China’s currency and trade surplus firmly at the top of the agenda at an annual one-day summit in Beijing.

European Union chiefs made clear in the lead up they would focus on a trade imbalance that grows by 15 million euros (22 million dollars) every hour, but they have said they wanted to avoid protectionist measures.

“We… need to identify a solution to solve this question, and I hope that it is a cooperative one,” Serge Abou, the EU’s ambassador to China, said in an opinion piece in the China Daily newspaper published Wednesday.

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November 27, 2007

A Vietnamese farmer places fertilizer on a rice field in Vietnam’s northern Ha Tay province, about 20 km (12 miles) southwest of Hanoi. (Kham Kham/JJ/Reuters)

Pakistan: Musharraf Hanging Up Uniform

November 27, 2007

Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf(L) speaks with naval chief admiral Muhammd Afzal Tahir during his farewell visit at the Naval Headquarters in Islamabad. Musharraf paid a ceremonial farewell to his troops Tuesday, a day before he bows to worldwide pressure and quits as army chief to become a civilian leader.(AFP/Aamir Qureshi)

Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf salutes as he listens to the national anthem during the farewell ceremony at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. Musharraf paid a ceremonial farewell to his troops Tuesday, a day before he bows to worldwide pressure and quits as army chief to become a civilian leader.(AFP/Aamir Qureshi)

by Nasir Jaffry 

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (AFP) – Pervez Musharraf was saluted by his troops Tuesday on his last full day as Pakistan‘s army chief as he bows to international pressure to become a civilian president.

Faced with swelling anger over his three-week-old state of emergency, the embattled US ally received guards of honour as he launched a two-day ceremonial tour of the army, navy and air force.

He is to resign as chief of army staff on Wednesday. The next day he will take the oath for a second five-year term as president — this time without the uniform that he has described as being like his skin.

A military band played martial tunes and the national anthem as Musharraf visited the joint ….

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China could become main supplier of capital: report

November 27, 2007

By Umesh Desai

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Top manufacturer China could also become the world’s main supplier of capital as it rolls out financial market reforms that could free up billions of dollars in savings for investment, a panel of experts said on Tuesday.

But while the reforms try to address long-standing barriers to capital market development in the world’s fastest growing major economy, they could lack teeth if poorly implemented.

“We have so far seen China as a manufacturer of cheap goods, in future it may be seen as a major supplier of capital,” Stuart Leckie, senior advisor at Britain’s index provider FTSE Group, said at the launch of a report on China’s capital market.

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U.S. Navy brings aid to Bangladesh victims

November 27, 2007

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — U.S. Navy helicopters began delivering emergency supplies Monday to survivors of a deadly cyclone along the southern coast of Bangladesh in a joint relief operation, officials said.

Helicopters from the USS Kearsarge started airlifting 5,000 water containers to remote areas of Dublar Char, Bagherat and Barguna, the worst affected districts in the Nov. 15 cyclone.

More than 3,100 people died in the storm and more than 1,700 were missing. More than 450,000 homes were destroyed.

U.S. troops will also deliver food and other supplies, help set up water purification plants, and provide medical care to victims in the coming days, army officials said.

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Vatican, in shift, says Pope won’t meet Dalai Lama

November 27, 2007

By  Philip Pullella Mon Nov 26, 11:00 AM ET VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Benedict has no plans to meet the Dalai Lama next month, the Vatican said on Monday in an about face from a previous position that irked China.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said “no audience is planned” between Benedict and the Dalai Lama and added there had never been an official, written statement of a meeting.

A Vatican official who spoke on condition of anonymity told reporters in late October that the Pope would meet the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism on December 13.

The meeting during the Dalai Lama’s visit to Italy, which would have been their second since Benedict’s election in 2005, was widely reported in the world media.

Beijing‘s communist government responded early in November by saying such a meeting would “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people” and urged the Pontiff to take action showing he “is sincere in improving relations.”

The Dalai Lama has this year met U.S. President George W. Bush at the White House, as well as the leaders of Austria, Germany, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

The diplomatic blitz has been met with a stream of vitriol from Chinese officials and state media, calling the 72-year-old a “splittist” bent on independence for Tibet and accusing him of orchestrating anti-Chinese activities in the remote region.

In New Delhi, a Dalai Lama representative said: “His Holiness’s objective is to promote inter-religious harmony and he will not create any inconveniences for anybody.”


Father Bernardo Cervellera, head of AsiaNews, a Catholic news agency that specializes in China and earlier this month also reported on the December 13 meeting, said he was disappointed that the encounter would not take place.

“It was clear from the start that Beijing was not happy about this meeting,” he told Reuters.

Benedict has made improving ties with Beijing a major goal of his pontificate and issued a 55-page open letter in June saying he sought to restore full diplomatic relations with Beijing that were severed two years after the 1949 Communist takeover.

Catholics in China are split between those who belong to a state-backed Church and an underground Church whose members are loyal to the Vatican.

Relations hit low points several times in recent years as the Vatican criticized China for appointing bishops without papal approval. In May 2006, Benedict accused China of “grave violations of religious freedom.”

Relations warmed significantly two months ago when the Vatican approved the installation of a new state-approved Catholic bishop of Beijing.

The Dalai Lama met Benedict last year in a low profile meeting Vatican said was strictly religious in nature.

Benedict’s predecessor John Paul met the Dalai Lama a number of times during his 27-year papacy and the Dalai Lama attended a major inter-religious conference hosted by John Paul in 1986.

Italian politicians are divided over whether the Dalai Lama should be allowed to address parliament during his visit.

(Additional reporting by Phil Stewart and Alistair Scrutton)

Sean Taylor, 24, Redskin, Dead

November 27, 2007

MIAMI – Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor died early Tuesday, a day after the Pro Bowl player was shot at home by what police say was an intruder. He was 24.  

Washington Redskins fans stood vigil for Sean Taylor on Monday night at the team’s training complex. Meanwhile, teammates and coaches offered their own prayers for a player that they said had matured beyond the early troubles of his NFL career.

“This is the worst imaginable tragedy,” Redskins owner Daniel Snyder said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Sean’s family.”


The shooting, called a “deliberate attack” by Redskins vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato was reported to police at 1:46 a.m. Monday by Taylor’s girlfriend. Taylor’s house had been broken into a week earlier.


Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs talks about Redskins star safety Sean Taylor during a news conference, Monday, Nov. 26, 2007 in Ashburn, Va. Taylor was in critical condition Monday after surgery for a gunshot wound to his leg during what police are investigating as a possible armed robbery at his home. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

Taylor, 24, the fifth overall pick of the 2004 draft by the Redskins, was airlifted in critical condition to Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital for treatment, police said.The Miami Herald reported that Taylor and other occupants of the house heard intruders at the rear door and that Taylor was shot in the leg, but police said they could not confirm those details.“We’ve yet to determine the circumstances surrounding the shooting,” Miami-Dade Police spokeswoman Kathy Webb said.Miami-Dade police Lt. Nancy Perez, speaking to reporters outside Taylor’s home, said Taylor “was shot in the lower extremities. He was airlifted to Ryder Trauma (center at Jackson Memorial Hospital) in critical condition.”Taylor, a college star with the University of Miami, bought the four-bedroom home in Palmetto Bay, a village just south of Miami, for $900,000 two years ago.Taylor had five interceptions this season but had been sidelined the last two weeks with a leg injury.
Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder leaves Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center in Miami, Florida, November 26, 2007, after visiting for Washington Redskins football player Sean Taylor who was shot at his home. Taylor, 24, who was the Redskins first pick in the 2004 draft, was airlifted to Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital for treatment and is in critical condition, police said. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES)

Wall Street is betting on a recession

November 27, 2007

By Neil Irwin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Wall Street is betting on a recession.

Investors in stocks and bonds are paying prices that indicate they believe a snowballing housing crisis and worsening credit crunch will soon tip the U.S. economy into a recession, analysts said. Many economists, including leaders of the Federal Reserve, don’t think things will get that bad, but some say the risk of a serious downturn has risen in recent weeks.

Investors were so eager to buy ultra-safe government bonds yesterday that they were willing to accept sharply lower interest rates. The rate on the 10-year Treasury bond fell to 3.84 percent from 4 percent Friday. The low rates indicate investors expect the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates aggressively in the coming year to ease the pain of recession.

Stocks are now down more than 10 percent from their peak in October. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index fell 2.3 percent yesterday, dropping the market to a level that Wall Street analysts say reflects an expectation that corporate profits will fall.

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Back in Pakistan, Sharif Condemns Musharraf

November 27, 2007

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Nov. 26 — As prime minister in the 1990s, Nawaz Sharif was a religiously conservative, nationalist leader who allowed the Taliban to flourish in Afghanistan and detonated a nuclear weapon despite an American plea not to.

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