South news July 4

Hong Kong returns to China

Over six million citizens and a major international financial  trading centre, returned to China on 1 July after 156 years of British occupation. Ripped away from mainland China in the Opium War of 1839-1842 and then leased to Britain for 99 years in an imposed treaty in 1898, Hong Kong reverted to Chinese sovereignty in a peaceful transfer negotiated by the British and Chinese governments.

For the Chinese people the British colonial presence in Hong Kong has endured as their longest and most bitter humiliation, because of the way in which it came about. It was torn away from China through what is known as the Opium War of 1839-1842, a British war of aggression conducted when Chinese authorities of the time sought to impede the importation of huge quantities of opium from India by British trading companies, which deliberately used the drug to render millions of Chinese people as addicts, employing it as an instrument of commercial penetration.

The Opium War forced the ceding to Britain in 1842 of the island of Hong Kong and adjacent small islands at the mouth of the Pearl River on China's southeastern coast. Subsequently sections of the mainland itself, Kowloon in 1869 and the New Territories in 1898, were added to the colony, which was developed as the main British base in the imperialist scramble for the China market. The last addition was acquired through a 99-year lease and it is the expiration of that lease this year which has led to the negotiated return of Hong Kong to China.

From crude beginnings to become a present-day economic "tiger," Hong Kong has been the gateway to the West for China's trade. According to the British Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, "half of all Chinese exports are handled by Hong Kong companies, and 22 percent of China's entire trading is done with Hong Kong."

The British withdrawal agreement 1984 kept Hong Kong off the UN's list of countries declared to be under colonial rule.Yet the 28th and last governor Chris Patten, described Britain's relationship with Hong Kong as "Britain's imperial adventure" in the Wall Street Journal. He believes that British ministers and the US showed disapproval of China's future intentions by not attending the handover ceremony. Despite all the hype about democracy never in over 155 years of colonial appointed rule has there been a democratic election in Hong Kong. One year ago a carefully staged procedure allowed for just one third of the legislature to be decided by direct vote. The rest of the legislature was decided. as always, by appointments from financial institutions and corporations. The overwhelming majority of the population did not vote.

China has pledged to maintain the present system in Hong Kong for 50 years under a "one country, two systems" policy," promising an elected legislature to "rule Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy."


World Food Programme delivers aid to North Korea

PYONGYANG, North Korea -- A ship chartered by the World Food Programmearrived in North Korea with urgently needed food aid for the northeast of the country where hunger is widespread, WFPreported June 29.

The shipment will be the first food aid delivered directly to the hard-hit northeast where aid agencies have not previously been able to operate. North Korean authorities have given WFP permission to open two sub-offices in the northeast port cities of Chongjin and Hamhung.

Authorities have also approved an additional sub-office in Sinuiju in the extreme northwest near the Chinese border and have provided a civil helicopter for charter by WFP to use in monitoring of food distribution if donors supply the necessary funds.

The aid for the northeast is aboard the U.S.-flag bulk carrier Judy Litrico, which docked at the port of Nampo near Pyongyang Sunday with a cargo of 24,953 metric tons of cereals. After it completes off-loading of 16,953 tons of cereals, the remaining 8,000 tons will be delivered to Chongjin for distribution in the northeast in mid July.

Another 1,300 tons of corn-soya blend will arrive in the northeast from China within the next six weeks. open by the end of July.

Under an agreement, North Korean civil aviation authorities have provided WFP with the helicopter to give the agency's monitors access to remote areas of the county reaching the target population of 4.7 million, comprising children in nurseries and kindergartens, hospital patients and participants in food-for-work projects. The helicopter also will facilitate groundwork for opening the new sub-offices, provide staff support to the sub-offices and maintain a vital link to the capital of Pyongyang.

UNICEF urges new effort against global poverty

Wednesday, 2 July 1997: The resources needed to eradicate the worst aspects of global poverty are less than generally thought, and are well within the means of governments willing to earmark as little as 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Product for development, UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy, told a high-level United Nations economic gathering in Geneva today.

"There is no economic issue more pressing than poverty," Ms. Bellamy told a meeting of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) that included the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and top officials of the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

"We meet at a time when abolishing poverty has never been so economically feasible -- or so politically challenging," she told the meeting, billed as a "high-level dialogue on economic issues."

Ms. Bellamy said that, with overall aid levels plummeting amid a steady increase in the absolute numbers of severely impoverished people, some 650 million of them children, "it is clear that the mission of UNICEF -- indeed, that of the entire UN System -- is more relevant and urgent than ever."

She hailed as "heartening" last week's announcement by   the new UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, that his Government was committed to meeting the UN aid target of 0.7 per cent of Gross National Product (GNP) as part of a renewed drive by his country to combat global poverty, especially in severely under-developed regions of Africa and other areas. Mr. Blair said Britain would strive to cut extreme poverty in the world by 50 per cent by the year 2015.

Ms. Bellamy noted that the data on poverty in the 1997 Human Development Report, an annual study prepared for the United Nations Development Programme, "show that for all the solemn commitments and the on-the-ground gains, progress in eliminating the worst aspects of poverty has been anything but steady -- and there are ominous countervailing trends."

UN concerned at Israel's new settlements

The Permanent Observer for Palestine at the United Nations told a General Assembly committee on Palestinian rights that the Assembly's recent emergency session on the Middle East must be resumed since Israel has not stopped building a new settlement at Jebel Abu Ghneim in East Jerusalem, as demanded by the Assembly.

Addressing on Tuesday the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Palestine's Permanent Observer Nasser Al-Kidwa stressed that according to a recent report on the subject submitted by the Secretary-General, the Israeli Prime Minister and other representatives of the Government continued to reject the terms of the resolution requiring a cessation of settlement activities.

UN Secretary-General's report was requested in April by the General Assembly's emergency session. The report says that as of 20 June, Israel had not abandoned its construction of a new settlement at Jebel Abu Gneim. It notes that the expansion of existing settlements, construction of bypass roads and confiscation of land continued unabated throughout the occupied territories.

Mr. Al-Kidwa noted that in the light of the political facts presented in the report, Palestine believed that the tenth emergency session of the Assembly should be resumed. He said the request for the resumption of the session would be made by the Arab Group of States. 

Drug trade money undermines national economies

Money laundering and financial crimes were undermining national economies as a side-effect of international drug trafficking, the UN 's Economic and Social Council noted as it concluded its high-level segment of the current substantive session.

The theme of the three-day segment was International Cooperation against the Illicit Production, Sale, Demand, Traffic and Distribution of Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances. The meeting also considered the drafting of a global convention on money laundering, noting that if the problem of money laundering was not dealt with multilaterally, there would be unfair distortions in global capital markets.

Meanwhile, the Council, at the start of its segment on operational activities for development was told that structural adjustment was dead, but policy reform, sound macroeconomics, open trading systems, limited and efficient government, and a supportive environment for foreign investment were alive and well. "Inter-agency development at the country level was the best example of a new 'intellectual convergence' regarding the changing role of development assistance," Mark Malloch Brown, Vice- President of the World Bank told the Council. 

Lift oil embargo says Russia

Russia will ask the U.N. Security Council in October to lift an oil embargo against Iraq Interfax news agency said on Wednesday, July 1

The agency quoted First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov as telling a visiting Iraqi National Assembly delegation that lifting the oil embargo and re-vitalising trade ties between Russia and the Arab state was in Russia's interests.

``In October Russia will put before the U.N. Security Council the question of removing the oil embargo from Iraq on condition that its government strictly fulfils all U.N. resolutions,'' Interfax said, attributing the remarks to Nemtsov.

The Iraqi parliament delegation is headed by Speaker of Iraq's National Assembly, Saadoun Hammadi.

Nemtsov, who is also Russia's Fuel and Energy Minister, said he hoped the Iraqi leadership would cooperate with the United Nations to help lifting the sanctions.

Yegor Stroyev, chairman of Russia's upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, also told Interfax that lifting sanctions against Iraq, above all oil sanctions, was the main issue during his talks with the Iraqi delegation.

``Traditionally Russia has had this position on oil exports,'' said Aleksei Kokin, oil and gas analyst at Renaissance Capital in Moscow. ``Russia has not willingly conceded to such strong sanctions, but eventually had to go along with the U.N.,'' he added.

Khomeini behind Lockerbie bombing says Der Spiegel

German officials are looking into information from a former top Iranian spy that the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ordered the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, the German weekly Der Spiegel magazine reported on July 4.

According to Spiegel, the tip came from Abolghassem Mesbahi, a co-founder of the Iranian intelligence service who later went into exile. It said the investigation was being led by the Federal Criminal Police Office and the Frankfurt prosecutor's office.

Spiegel said Mesbahi told investigators Khomeini ordered the terror attack as retaliation for the downing of an Iranian passenger jet over the Strait of Hormuz by a U.S. warship in July 1988. According to the report, Iran Air's representative in Frankfurt at the time smuggled parts for the bomb through airport security in Frankfurt. Then the bomb was assembled in London and placed on board Pan Am Flight 103 from London to New York.

The explosion over Lockerbie, Scotland, on Dec. 21, 1988, killed all 259 people on board and 11 on the ground. In 1991, U.S. prosecutors indicted two Libyans  on charges related to the bombing.  Despite the United Nations imposing economic sanctions on Libya  the Palestine Liberation Organization  claimed in 1992 that Iran was really responsible.
Related articles:  US on the ropes over Lockerbie