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China Reform Monitor - No. 758
Beijing works to make Asia world's "largest free trade area";
China outlines future plans for PLA Navy
Edited by Joshua Eisenman
May 1, 2009
China has established a $10 billion investment fund for southeast Asian countries for cooperation on infrastructure construction, energy and resources, information and communications. Over the next three to five years, China planned to offer $15 billion in credit to the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), including loans with preferential terms of $1.7 billion for cooperation projects. The deal will also create the world's largest free trade area, covering nearly two-billion people. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao had intended to announce the plan at the cancelled ASEAN summit in Thailand. Beijing also offered $39.7 million in aid to Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar to meet urgent needs, inject $5 million into the China-ASEAN Cooperation Fund, 300,000 tons of rice for the emergency East Asia rice reserve, and donate $900,000 to the cooperation fund of ASEAN + 3, the side grouping of ASEAN + China, Japan and the South Korea, the BBC reports.
In an effort to “intensify its efforts in handling those newspapers that publish false information” China’s State Press and Publications Administration (SPPA) has penalized six newspapers and put the names of those journalists it claims “fabricated misinformation” in a file of “unprofessional journalists and restrict their reporting and editing activities.” SPPA’s new Notice on Taking Practical Measures calls for “education in three areas” (1) “upholding the Marxist concept of journalism, (2) fostering and abiding by professional ethics, and (3) contributing to the cause of journalism of the party and the people.” The official Xinhua News Agency reports that the campaign is designed “to instructs newspapers not to publish or republish freelance articles and Internet information the facts of which have not been verified, and not to republish or excerpt the contents of publications meant for internal circulation.”
Sanctioned newspapers include the Jinghua Shibao, which published a report that helped cause the crash of the banking stock prices on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in September 2008; Guangdong's Xin Kuaibao, which was punished for republishing an unverified article claiming that "Sun Yat-sen Is a Korean”; Shanghai's Dongfang Zaobao, which published without verification a story about the China Securities Regulatory Commission; Minying Jingji Bao, which carried stories on bogus pharmaceutical drugs; Shandong's Qingdao Zaobao and Sichuan's Huaxi Dushi Bao, which both reprinted a story on Chinese warships' escort mission in Somalia's waters that “created seriously unfavorable social consequences for the reputation of the country and the Chinese Navy.”
A private Chinese mineral company, Mylin Resources Group, has inked a memorandum of understanding with the Kyrgyz government to prospect the iron ore reserves at Dzhetym, along the border with China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Dzhetym covers an area of over 260 square kilometers and is estimated to contain approximately 5.4 billion tons of iron ore, making it Asia's largest source of iron. Along with the signing of the MoU, Kyrgyzstan's Prime Minister Igor Chudinov encouraged China’s investment in the central Asian country’s coalmining, nonferrous, precious metals and infrastructure industries, Russia’s Interfax News Agency reports.
Wu Shengli, a Member of the Central Military Commission and Commander of the Navy, disclosed in an interview with Xinhua that in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army’s (PLA) Navy China will build a new generation of weapons and equipment. Wu said China’s naval modernization will include “large surface warships; a new type of submarine with underwater self-sustainability and concealment; warplanes which can cruise at supersonic speeds; long-range missiles with precise ability to penetrate defenses; smart torpedoes which can operate at high speed and at great depth; and common-user electronic warfare equipment.” To supply these new additions Wu said the PLA would build “a number of large strategic home ports, backbone airfields, and rear area strategic depots have been set up along with dozens of maintenance and repair bases; and logistical and armament support have gradually expanded in terms of scale, structure, and functions.” Wu also cryptically added that the PLA would “exploit developments in civilian transport capabilities to develop forces for strategic delivery by sea.” Xinhua carried an abridged version of the interview in English.