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China Reform Monitor - No. 1027
China bolstering security at DPRK border;
Chinese overseas fishing massively under-reported
Edited by Joshua Eisenman
April 19, 2013
The China Post reports that Republic of China (ROC-Taiwan) President Ma Ying-jeou will seek another term as Kuomintang (KMT) chairman with the support of Premier Jiang Yi-huah, Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, and Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin, among others. Ma’s announcement came amid growing opposition from some KMT members due to a bribery scandal involving Lai Su-ju, a close presidential aide, which has sent shockwaves through Taiwan’s ruling party. Prosecutors are investigating Lai, one of Ma’s top political advisors and director the president’s KMT office, for accepting bribes during the bidding process for the Taipei Twin Towers. Ma is in his second, and final, term as ROC President.
In 2010, air pollution contributed to 1.2 million premature deaths in China, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study. Figured another way, the cost of China’s air pollution was the loss of 25 million healthy years of life from the population, the New York Times reports. “Ambient particulate matter pollution” was the fourth-leading risk factor for deaths in China in 2010, behind dietary risks, high blood pressure and smoking. Meanwhile, last week an official Chinese report placed environmental degradation costs at about $230 billion in 2010, or 3.5 percent of GDP – three times the 2004 estimate. It is unclear, however, to what extent official numbers include the costs of pollution-related health care and premature deaths.
China is massively under-reporting its overseas fishing catch according to a study by Canada’s University of British Columbia. From 2000 to 2011, Beijing reported an average overseas catch of 368,000 tons a year to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. According to the report, however, the average catch for 2000-11 was actually 4.6 million tons a year – more than 12 times the reported figure. Of that total, 2.9 million tons of fish a year came from West Africa. “The unreported catch is crippling the artisanal fisheries that help to feed West African populations. It shows the extent of the looting of Africa, where so many people depend on seafood for basic protein,” Daniel Pauly, who led the study, told Nature Magazine. Chinese fishing contracts with African countries are often secret and Chinese companies operate some vessels flying local flags. The researchers estimate that at least 900 Chinese fishing vessels were operating in 93 countries worldwide, 345 alone in West Africa.
China is moving tanks and armored vehicles closer to the North Korean border in response to increasing military threats from Pyongyang. People’s Liberation Army troop and tank movements were reported in Daqing, Heilongjiang, and in Shenyang and Dandong, Liaoning. They include the 190th Mechanized Infantry Brigade based in Benxi, Liaoning. Large numbers of fighter jets were also reported above Fucheng, Hebei and Zhangwu and Changchun, Liaoning. The Washington Times reports that one of China’s Russian-made Su-27 jets crashed on March 31 in Rongcheng, Shandong – across the Yellow Sea from Korea.
Sergei Karaganov, Honorary Chairman of Russia’s Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, has published an article in the Moscow Times arguing that although “the Chinese are doing almost everything possible to placate Russian concerns” unease in the bilateral relationship persists. “If Moscow does not develop a growth strategy for the Pacific region, the current Chinese-Russian entente will surely sour.” According to Karaganov the causes of “lingering suspicions” in Sino-Russian relations are the negative demographic trends in the Russian Far East, historical scars from the imperial Russia’s conquest of northeast China, and “the fear of overweening Chinese power shared by all of China’s neighbors.” Karaganov criticized “journalists and pundits peddling the story of Chinese demographic expansion into Siberia. The number of Chinese residing in Russia amounts to roughly 300,000,” he wrote.