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China Reform Monitor - No. 963
Three Gorges Dam could displace another 100,000;
Chinese fishermen sentenced for attacking ROK Coast Guard
Edited by Joshua Eisenman
May 1, 2012
Iran’s navy has rescued 28 Chinese crewmembers aboard the cargo ship Xianghuamen after it was hijacked by Somali pirates in the Sea of Oman near Iran’s southern port of Chabahar. The vessel, which is registered in Panama and belongs to Nanjing Ocean Shipping Company, set off from Shanghai and made a stopover in Singapore before heading for Imam Khomeini port in Iran when it was hijacked. Nine Somali pirates boarded the ship, fired shots and seized the Chinese crewmembers. After the hijacking, China’s ambassador to Iran requested Tehran begin emergency procedures and take all measures to secure the crew. Two Iranian naval warships rescued the vessel and forced the pirates to throw their weapons into the sea and surrender, the official People’s Daily reports.
Both Vietnam and the Philippines are strengthening their militaries to protect their territorial claims against China, Singapore’s Straits Times reports. Vietnam has ordered six Kilo-class submarines from Russia worth $2 billion, has acquired the Su-30MK fighter aircraft and a Gepard-class frigate. The Philippines is boosting spending on its ageing and poorly equipped navy, which will take delivery of a second United States Hamilton-class patrol cutter later this year. Later this month the Philippines and the U.S. will host yearly war games codenamed Balikatan or “shoulder to shoulder,” which involve several thousand troops from both countries.
China’s first buildings to feature glass curtain walls will soon reach the end of their design life. Buildings with glass facades began appearing in China in 1984, and have an average life of 25 years. The durability of supporting parts, such as bolts and sealant, is generally 10 to 15 years. In Shanghai, about 900 of over 4,000 such buildings are more than 15 years old. China builds 70 million square meters of glass curtain walls each year and the cost of replacing these could be enormous. China released a building code for glass curtain walls in 2003, but no guidelines have been issued specifying who is responsible for their maintenance. Last year in Hangzhou, Zhejiang a glass facade fell and hit a woman below causing her left leg to be amputated. In Yiwu, Zhejiang, a 20-meter-high glass ceiling in a garment market came crashing down injuring several children, the official China Daily reports.
A growing threat of landslides on ground near the Three Gorges Dam reservoir could force the government to move 100,000 more residents, The New York Times reports. Officials have recorded 430 landslides and nearly 2,900 smaller geological incidents along the lakeshore, and 5,386 sites at risk are being monitored, said Liu Yuan, head of the Three Gorges Geological Disaster Prevention Office. The seasonal raising and lowering of the reservoir’s water level to cope with floods has made adjacent land increasingly unstable. Landslides and other accidents have risen 70 percent since the reservoir reached its high-water mark in 2010. “Due to the complexity and uncertainty of the problems, the pattern of geological disaster cannot be accurately predicted,” Liu said. The sheer weight of the massive lake, which is the length of the U.S.’ Lake Superior, has also increased the threat of earthquakes in the fault-prone region.
The Incheon District Court has sentenced a 43-year-old Chinese boat captain, Cheng Dawei, to 30 years in prison and a 20 million won ($17,572) fine for killing a South Korean law enforcement officer during a crackdown on illegal fishing last year. Cheng was charged with killing Coast Guard Captain Lee Cheong-ho with a knife and seriously injuring another officer during a December 12 raid on his boat, which was fishing illegally in South Korean waters off Incheon, west of Seoul. Yonhap News Agency reports that prosecutors sought capital punishment for the captain, who admitted to the murder shortly after his arrest. The court also sentenced eight other Chinese fishermen from the same vessel to prison terms ranging from one and a half years to five years for obstructing the Coast Guard officers in the course of their duty. In September 2008 Chinese fishermen beat another Korean Coast Guard officer to death during a crackdown on illegal fishing.