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People & Points
Print Edition> People & Points
UPDATED: January 4, 2009 NO. 2 JAN. 8, 2009
Rear Admiral Du Jingchen has been appointed commander of China's first naval mission that may involve fighting outside its territorial waters

Taking on Pirates

Rear Admiral Du Jingchen has been appointed commander of China's first naval mission that may involve fighting outside its territorial waters since the 15th century.

A three-ship fleet under the command of Du, consisting of two destroyers, DDG-169 Wuhan and DDG-171 Haikou, and a supply ship, Weishanhu, set off from south China's Sanya City on December 26, 2008, to join a UN-mandated multinational antipiracy patrol in the Gulf of Aden. About 900 sailors, including a Naval special forces unit, are onboard.

According to a press conference on December 25, Du is chief of staff of the Chinese Navy's South China Sea Fleet. He visited the United States as part of a military delegation in July 2008. Details of Du's background were not released, apart from the fact that he is experienced in maritime search and rescue operations. In May 2002, Du, then a senior colonel, directed a six-day salvage operation of a crashed civil aircraft off the coast of Dalian, northeast China's Liaoning Province.

The first phase of the mission is expected to last for three months, the Xinhua News Agency said.

Economist Against Land Preservation

Economist Mao Yushi came under fire at the end of 2008 after he questioned China's farmland protection policy.

Speaking at a December 24 seminar in Beijing, Mao said that the government's rigid target of preserving at least 120 million hectares of arable land, which is intended to ensure food security, had become a hurdle for further industrialization and urbanization in China. He believes that the country could turn to the world market to weather possible food shortages.

China had 121.7 million hectares of farmland at the end of 2007.

Most agriculture experts and netizens have spoken against Mao, citing the fact that China consumes 500 million tons of grain every year, twice the annual trade volume of crops worldwide. More importantly, farmland holdings of 120 million hectares can only ensure China's grain self-sufficiency rate stay at 95 percent.

Mao, 79, is board chairman of the Beijing-based Unirule Institute of Economics, an independent research institution providing economic analysis. He worked out the mathematical formula of the Principle of Optimal Allocation in 1979.

Dairy Tycoon Charged

Tian Wenhua, former board chairwoman of the troubled Sanlu Group Co., appeared in court on December 31, 2008, for the first hearing on her role in the melamine-contaminated milk powder scandal. Sanlu's dairy products with high levels of this toxic chemical, as well as those of another 21 brands, have killed six babies and sickened 290,000 others in China.

The Intermediate People's Court of Shijiazhuang City, capital of north China's Hebei Province, accused 66-year-old Tian of "producing and selling fake and substandard products."

According to Article 144 of China's Criminal Law, Tian's charges warrant the death penalty because they have resulted in the deaths of others.

Tian joined the dairy industry in 1968. She had served as Sanlu's board chairwoman and general manager since December 1996 when the company was incorporated. After the contamination scandal was brought to light last September, she was removed from the above posts and detained by the police.

"I don't know what's going to happen next. Maybe the next bomb will fall here, maybe the next person killed will be one of us."

Amal Hassan, 38, a mother of three children in the Gaza Strip, quoted by the Associated Press in a report on December 28, 2008. Israeli's airstrike on Gaza that began on December 27 killed at least 375 Palestinians in four days

"We have some ups and downs, but we've come a long way. From January 1979 to January 2009, (we've made) a lot of progress. It's terrific..."

U.S. Ambassador to China Clark Randt, before the 30th anniversary of China-U.S. diplomatic relations on January 1, 2009

"The debt level of Chinese households is quite low, and their balance sheets are very healthy compared with those for U.S. and European households, promising great potential for the expansion of consumer spending."

Yi Gang, Vice Governor of the People's Bank of China, revealing at a financial forum on December 26, 2008, that consumption loans of Chinese residents now account for less than one fifth of their $2.9-trillion bank savings

"The euro became a convenient scapegoat that enabled reforms that were needed, but Europe did not have the political will to do."

Randall Filer, a visiting professor of economics at Charles University in Prague and Hunter College in New York, hailing the euro's role in prompting necessary labor market and fiscal reforms in the eurozone before the shared currency's 10th anniversary on January 1, 2009

"My argument remains that cultural identities, antagonisms and affiliations will not only play a role, but play a major role in relations between states."

Political scientist Samuel Huntington, in an interview with Islamica magazine in 2007. Huntington, whose "Clash of Civilizations" thesis on Islam and the West proved highly controversial, died on December 27, 2008, at age 81

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