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China Reform Monitor - No. 892
DPRK sacks minister after Beijing protest;
China's first aircraft carrier unveiled
Edited by Joshua Eisenman
April 25, 2011
Ming Pao reports that during the traditional Chinese Qingming Festival (April 5) to commemorate ancestors two groups of retired servicemen from the Shenzhen People’s Liberation Army (PLA) engineering brigades, over 1,000 in total, gathered in front of the portrait of Deng Xiaoping in Luohu and in front of the Bureau of State Owned Property Management office in Futian. Both groups joined up at the martyrs’ cemetery to commemorate Deng and then marched to the municipal government to submit a joint petition asking the authorities to help resolve their pension dispute. Participants donned their green PLA caps but did not have posters or shout slogans. Afterward, over 100 anti-riot police dispersed them. In the early 1980s, some 20,000 PLA engineering troops received orders to go south to build the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone. Later, during state enterprise reforms, many were laid off and some now work as scrap collectors.
After more than a decade of renovation, China's first aircraft carrier – a remodeled 67,500-ton Admiral Kuznetsov-class Soviet carrier bought at auction in 1998 – is preparing to set to sail. The official Xinhua News Agency posted 20 high-resolution pictures with accompanying captions that suggest the carrier will undergo sea tests this year. One said: “Huge warship on the verge of setting out, fulfilling China’s 70-year aircraft carrier dreams.” Another said: “From the pictures we can see that this project is entering its final stage.” Yet, another noted that with the exception of its radar system, construction on the ship’s bridge was almost done. The Chinese have not released details of the carrier’s capabilities.
Last month's sacking of North Korea’s Minister of People's Security, Chu Sang-song, came after China lodged a protest with North Korea over its mishandling of border security, a South Korean official told Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun. Beijing is unhappy about festering problems like smuggling and human trafficking on the border, but last year, three Chinese traders trying to cross the Yalu River were shot and killed by North Korean border guards. Beijing lodged a strong protest and urged Pyongyang to punish those responsible for the incident. On February 13, Meng Jianzhu, China’s Minister of Public Security, went to Pyongyang to demand that North Korea take steps to control the border.
[Editor’s Note: If true, this report is surprising since China regularly declares its adherence to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, which explicitly call for “non-interference in each other's internal affairs.”]
Two ethnic Korean-Chinese living in South Korea and two female refugees from North Korea have been arrested in South Korea, accused of forcing North Korean fugitives into prostitution in China. Police suspect another North Korean refugee in China and an overseas South Korean was also involved. They said that between 2007-2009 the conspirators acquired 70-80 North Korean women, about half of them from Chinese brokers, whom they paid about $3300 per woman. “This is a very rare case of trying to punish North Korean defectors for what they did in China,” Park Chu-Ung, the police officer in charge of the investigation said in comments carried by Channel NewsAsia. “The suspects took advantage of their vulnerable position as women with little money and no local connections,” he said.
Taiwan’s air force used a closed highway as a runway in a drill simulating a surprise attack from the mainland, Agence France Press reports. The scenario for the exercise, codenamed “Han Glory 27,” was a conflict with China in which aerial bombardment had paralyzed major military airports and Taiwan’s fighter jets could not return to their home bases. Six jets – two F-16s, two Mirage 2000-5s, and two Taiwan-built Indigenous Defense Fighters – landed on a motorway near Tainan, where they were refueled and rearmed before taking off again. An AH-1W SuperCobra attack helicopter, an OH-58D Kiowa Warrior scout helicopter, and a CH-47 Chinook transportation helicopter were also mobilized for the maneuver, which involved more than 1,300 soldiers. Taiwan conducted the first such exercise in 2004 and a second one in 2007, both while the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party was holding power in the island.